Sunday, September 30, 2018

The Difference between Fools and a Fear of Flying

In case you are wondering, there is a difference. Fools, for example, are a group of senators who could not tell the difference between an ass and stonewalling a confirmation process for a SCOTUS associate justice. A fear of flying, on the other hand, is something some people have and some people fake so they can help in stonewalling a confirmation process for a SCOTUS associate justice. The difference should be obvious, but for some strange reason - other than the 24/7 drivel of the mainstream media - it isn't. 

   There are other things that should have been obvious from the moment that the substance of life-long trauma of  Dr. Blasey Ford was leaked to the WaPo. One, it was timed for maximum effect with the same objective as the false claim of a fear of flying. Two, there was no freaking way a claim like the one levelled against Brett Kavanaugh could be substantiated. The only material witness to the alleged assault on the high-schooler, was a friend of the accused and by the artful scenario, an accomplice in the act, and therefore someone hugely unlikely to corroborate the thirty-six year old trauma of the distraught doctor. The other two (three ?) people present in the house had nothing substantial to add since by Dr. Ford's own testimony she did not share with them the horror story. But this, of course, assume, that neither of the two would-be rapists bragged in their presence and colored the outrage perpetrated in the upstairs bedroom. Therefore, a thorough FBI investigation would be needed to confirm that no-one other than Dr. Ford remembers anything about a party sometime in the summer of 1982, somewhere around Washington D.C.  Surely, this could not be done in a week, since now there is already another credible victim claiming that the prospective SCOTUS associate justice at another party had his dick in her face, literally and figuratively.  You see, Anita Hill, had the disadvantage of fighting Clarence Thomas alone, and therefore never quite managed to make people comfortable with the notion that she followed him from job to job, despite all the petty harassments because she had no other career options open to her. The internet and #MeToo wasn't around and therefore the twisted sisters' were limited in generating mass assaults on the politically undesirable favoured by the basket of deplorables.  But you can't stop progress, even though this surely is the smelly sort that George Orwell said "causes bluebottles to flock to a dead cat".

      Like the real fear of flying, the foolishness of GOP senators relates to a loss of nerve. Instead of quickly assessing the situation, concentrating on the leak from senator's Feinstein's office and discrediting the preposterous and contradictory claim that the Kavanaugh's accuser wanted to remain anonymous, they allowed themselves to be shanghaied into a Monty Pythonesque Flying Circus. Now, in the third week of the melodrama, the senators will have to rely on the clean bill of health of the nominee by the FBI investigation, which is by no means assured. All it would take at this point is some ambitious, closet Clintonite in the ranks (preferably a woman of color), to uncover some untold tale of debauchery relating to excessive beer consumption in the judge's sophomore year for this sorry saga to come to a sad end.

      There are very few middle-of-the-road, and intelligent conservative voices that have this story right. The always-entertaining Jim Kunstler, who has most things right, went a step too far when he dismissed the alleged incident as "awkward teenage necking".  No, I would not go there. The woman might really believe in the reality of the incident, and we do not know her background to cast aspersions. I would say, though, that if this incident was really the most serious traumatic sex event of her life, then she has lived a charmed life. Tucker Carlson's line I like; he is direct and as usual cuts through the nonsense. He and Mark Steyn understand the problem well.  Unfortunately, most of the commentators in the middle and on the respectable right are just ....having a fear of flying.

      The respected Canadian commentator Lorne Gunter is one who would have it both ways. He deplores the lack of process in delivering the Ford charges before the Senate committee, but he cannot bring himself to dismiss them precisely because they cannot be handled by a process that can claim impartiality and integrity. He says,  "[It] does not diminish these allegations that they are for an attack more than three decades old."  He is dead wrong. Not only is this allegation (a single one, of a minor sexual assault) diminished by the nearly two generations that transpired between it allegedly occurring and now, it is unequivocally "lapsed".  It simply cannot be belabored in a manner that would do justice to a fair and impartial process. Period. End of story.  The only reason that one would want to raise this incident in any public forum with such a delay is to impugn the character of the person against whom such charges are brought - outside of a judicial process.  Mr Gunter evidently wants to play the gentleman here, but unfortunately, the committee hearing accusation against Mr.Kavanaugh does not proceed by standards of civility, and the writer cast himself into the role of a gentleman who gives away too much. His plea, to preserve the presumption of innocence, is miscast and frankly, foolish, because he is giving it away by agreeing to a crazy process. It appears to be a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. Mr Gunter protests procedural changes to Canadian criminal law (Bill C-51) which further erode the rights of the accused in cases of sexual assault. But he does not understand that this is just a step in dismantling the legal framework which began long ago. In Canada, for example, we no longer have the doctrine of "recent complain" in sex crimes, which allows inquiry into why a complaint about an old incident was not raised earlier. Mr Gunter appears to subscribe to it, even though it severely disadvantages the defense in real cases, let alone the kind brought forth against Brett Kavanaugh.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Who Is Afraid of Virgin Wolves ?

     Just in case you have been wondering who informs the Washington elites of the unfolding events north of the border, I have found out that one of the wise women is Melissa J. Gismondi.  Her website tells us that Melissa uses her training as a historian to inform her analysis of contemporary issues. She has over seven years of experience writing and editing digital and print content for diverse audiences.  There might be a problem with the first sentence of her intro, but what the heck, who cares about syntax these days. No, it is not important;  it only adds colour to the mental efforts of Melissa who holds a PhD in American history.  But, if you are curious, just a handful of clippings of her contributions to major media outlets will give you a good idea just where her head is at: Are Canadians really less racist than Americans?, Can students who engage in sexual or romantic relationships with their professors avoid being exploited?, When it comes to white supremacy, historians can't stand on the sidelines, Why media obsession with male charisma has to stop.  I don't know how you but I feel assured after perusing a few of her journalistic creations that they are not really meant for  "diverse audiences" unless of course she means that her politics are what is required for all genders, races, and altars worshipped.

       Melissa's take on the last month's Toronto sidewalk terror incident has been sold to The Washington Post.  She believes she knows what drove Alek Minassian's anger and a rented van to plow a busy metropolitan boulevard that Monday. She writes...until very recently white men in patriarchal societies such as Canada and the United States didn't have "incel" complaints, because they enjoyed relatively free access to women's bodies. Indeed, the seething rage that allegedly fueled Minassian's terror comes from women gaining more control of their bodies, thanks to decades of activism. In the process, they're denying white men an old privilege to which many still feel entitled: sex whenever they want it. From there, Melissa goes on to say that if in the past rape was prosecuted it was to protect women as men's property, and that white slave owners and "Euro-American colonizers" saw the slave and indigenous women as their prize to take.

       In other words, Melissa asserts that there are large, historical wrongs behind the horrific but, as police indicated, isolated, attack, motivated by a very personal sort rage against the world. However, was no indication in the only artifact fact by Minassian available that he was raging against women - exclusively. His Facebook note prior to the attack names both sexually active sides, the Chads and Stacys, as the object of his wrath.  Nor is there any indication that he, or most "incels" for that matter, have a beef with feminism as such. They appear to be climbing walls simply because they don't get laid and are scorned by their peers as social retards. This poses no problem for the social justice warrior, though.  If social justice complaint does not exist, it can be manufactured. Since this is a terrorist attack story that is not Islamic it can be easily be converted into an illustration of alt-right white male supremacy/privilege, slavery and oppression of native women in North America.  And of course it is not just Melissa Gismondi.  There were several commentators in the mainstream media with a matching narrative.  The Southern Poverty Law Center immediately latched onto the "Incel Ideology" idea. 

     It is really a sad commentary on the state of the Western academia to see someone with a PhD in history to be grossly ignorant on the basics of the subject matter she expounds on.  Melissa Gismondi apparently does not understand anything about the English Common Law and its development. She says that the crime of rape was occasionally prosecuted [in most of American history] so long as the woman was white and behaved as women were expected to behave. That is not true as is not true that the woman's body was not hers to violate (since it was a chattel of her husband or property of her male guardian).  This is an unbelievable libel not just on the sense of law, order and fairness (or good morals, if you want) but on the whole "white" Western civilization.  It would take Ms. Gismondi not more than a quick look into the Blackstone's Laws of England (1765-69) to educate herself that rape, raptus mulierum was a "public wrong" , not a private one. She would learn in a few seconds that the outrage was not perpetrated against the woman's guardians but against the female part of his majesty's subjects.  Unlike the old Roman or the Mosaic laws, the law of England has recognized the inviolability of a person (habeas corpus) for eight hundred years. To have carnal knowledge of a woman forcibly and against her will, violated her body and no one else's!  This principle has been universal in Anglo-Saxon legal history. Ms Gismondi and the left-wing academic lunatics she speaks for are clueless.  Blackstone cited Henry of Bratton, a thirteen-century jurist who ruled on the King's Bench that violating even a prostitute (!!!) was a crime. His brilliant and clever argument refuted the notion that since a prostitute sold her body for money she had no regard for it. Bratton ruled that the state of mind of the woman could not be known to the assailant - beyond her protest that is - and therefore she could be in fact on her way to rehabilitation. Besides, said the just man, the law of England does not judge so hardly of offenders, as to deny them retreat even from common strumpets. I marvel at the idea that  the best among the white supremacists knew that no meant no, even if she was a hooker, as early as the thirteenth century.

      No, the "incel" social media phenomenon does not relate to anything in the cultural mainstream of the West. The involuntary celibate men (and some women), are simply a new label and form of communication for social and sexual marginals. They are not as a rule violent; it has been argued by competent psychologists that the rare outbursts of violence within that group points to issues other that their sexual frustration. Most likely, it is serious mental health issues (beyond, say, spectrum autism) that account for murderous assaults like those of Elliot Rodger and Alek Minassian.  The latter's Facebook post recalls the first known intentional vehicular mass murder by a young Czech woman, Olga Hepnarová in 1973, who like the two men transparently suffered from persecutory delusions.  If there is a larger social issue behind the Toronto tragedy then it is the all-too-real decline of the traditional masculine virtues in our society, such as honour, self-control, courage, thoughtfulness and compassion. These would naturally act as a potent inhibitor of gross antisocial oubursts.  But even if we managed to recapture a positive male self-image, even we had male leaders who would show character and integrity, even then we would see extreme cases of marginal behaviours. They will be with us always. The only difference is that we would be confident in the goodness of men, and see the nastiness and poverty of spirit of those who would take a terrible but isolated tragedy as an excuse to malign the whole gender of one race.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Putin's Propaganda Blunder

I am a known Putin admirer, and on the discussion boards I have been accused of being his bot and/or his bootlicker. Well, let them say what they will. I like Vladimir Vladimirovch when he is smart and down-to-brass-tacks which is most of the time. I don't like the stupid, manipulative banter in politics which is what is currently being served in the West twenty-four seven. Putin is a welcome relief from that.  He talks common sense and that is why he comes across loud and clear - across languages (though I still have some Russian). On the other hand, while I admire the Russian president,  I don't idolize him. He is human and makes mistakes like all of us.  I hope he will not make another mistake of the sort he made last month. 

         Masha Gessen is one of the Moscow journalists who was not killed or maimed for being critical of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, even though she was a lesbian activist in Moscow and spread the most ridiculous tale about his corruption, an alleged selfie called Putin Black Sea Palace.  But a miracle happened. When she was sacked by a popular  magazine for ignoring one of  Putin's public relations stunts, she received a personal call from him with an invitation to visit him in the Kremlin. What transpired during her interview with the Russian president is certainly worth the read. That Masha has a hostile animus toward Vladimir Vladimovich I think is obvious. Other than the late Zbig Brzezinski, I can't think of anyone who would describe Putin as shallow, self-involved, not terribly perceptive, and apparently very poorly informed.  Strangely, or perhaps not, from what I have seen, this would be how I would describe Masha Gessen, who has since moved to the U.S. and milks her Putin envy and Kremlin twenty-minute expertise for all it is worthDo not get me wrong; I am not saying that Masha is not bright - she is - but like some women on the public scene she suffers from the Hillary Complex, that is, a hopelessly exaggerated view of her own importance and abilities. If she really knew Putin's habits she would have known he comes always prepared for interviews and certainly knew everything that mattered about her and the effect the encounter would have on the perception of him when it gets out. So, Masha, you were played.

        I never thought I would agree with anything that Masha Gessen had to say about Vladimir Putin. But, we live in a strange world where strange things happen. So I do agree with her that the president wants to wage a rhetorical war with the U.S. without too many coffins. Naturally, I don't mean it as an exercise laced in Schadenfreude, and I certainly would not use the word coffin in the punchline.  It's a way too morbid way to make the point even if you are Alexei Balabanov and you have a scary tale to tell about a Russian soul warped by murderous Soviet authoritarianism. (His 2007 horror movie used a Soviet-era euphemism for a military coffin - "Cargo 200").  Nor do I see Putin as someone who wants to engage in war propaganda to collect brownie points on the nasty Russian right, to wit, among the village butchers and pub brawlers, where, Gessen apparently believes, lie Putin's natural political affinities. All that aside, her bottom point is valid. Putin has unadvisedly engaged in goading the West as a way to compensate perhaps for what Russia can deliver on the battlefield at the present time. I am speaking above all about the annual address to the Federal Assembly, he delivered on March 1st of this year.  This must be the strangest speech Vladimir Putin has ever delivered, or the strangest one I ever heard, at any rate. 

       I was aghast: I could not for the world of me understand why a leader of a nuclear superpower but a second-tier economy harassed for years by barrages of sanctions from the West would want to parade in public an array of new super-sophisticated offensive weapons. Who really needs to know this - if it is real ?  And, pardon me for being captain Obvious here, would not this be feeding into a known Putin stereotype ? Or say, give credence to the view that Russia is an "existential threat to the U.S."?  Hello?  And Putin would not just talk about the weapons systems but actually show clips of how these monstrous killers "against which there the West has no defense" work in animated simulation on a giant screen behind his rostrum.  The show had a distinct air of unreality. The introduction of each of the new weapons (and the ICBM known in the West as "Satan") was greeted by a loud applause in the audience. There was a cluster of nuclear vehicles descending on Florida (hmmm....) and cruise missiles deftly zigzagging around the U.S. defense system. Even Putin's closing punch line: "they did not want to listen to us before, but they will have to listen to us now" was a truly foolhardy optimism. All it did is recall the naïve Soviet propaganda faithfully tracking the progress of time to the inevitable final victory of communism in the world. These weapons are not a bluff, assured Putin his mesmerized audience, as though his saying he was not bluffing, assured also everyone  he was not misleading his audience about the state of readiness of these systems in the aggregate.   

      The most disconcerting aspect of Putin's speech was that, he, the former high-ranking intelligence officer and experienced statesman evidently did not take into account the most likely response in the West to his message. He should have known that the speech would be dismissed as, one, a way to bolster his domestic support among the pessimistic sort of patriots and the wilder, too-soft-on-the-West yahoos on the eve of election to get them to show up to vote, two, an unrealistic appraisal of the new weapons' system readiness, and three, and most importantly, as "threats" to the security of the West. I simply refuse to believe that the Russian president believed his low-budget large-screen demo would bring the West to the negotiating table.  And indeed, NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu immediately denounced the speech as "bellicose" and "unprovoked", and repeated the ridiculous lie that the Polish and Rumanian ABM batteries are designed to protect against "ballistic missiles from outside of the Euro-Atlantic area", meaning Iran. The Russians have long known that these so-called defensive systems are in fact easily convertible to an offensive platform and their target is Russia and no-one else. 

     Worse still, within few days of the speech Britain cooked up the Skripal sorry saga in Salisbury and another chemical attack false flag in Douma. Russia's intelligence got wind of the latter, and threatened a vigorous response through the Chief of General Staff general Gerasimov in case a fake chemical assault should prompt a military response from the West. It is hard to run away from the impression that the missile attack on Syria, and pretty much everything else that has followed in Russia's relations with the West in the weeks since the address of the Russian president to the Duma, directly relates to the speech, and its implied threat that frankly resembled more a drunken sailor's bragging than the smart and indomitable Putin we have come to know and rely on.

     In several of my discussions on the Web I have been challenged for my perception that Putin meant to "threaten" the West. Naturally, it is in the eye of the beholder, and there though I consider myself Russia's friend, I am a Westerner. I grew up in Prague and have my own perception of the Russians lack of insight in grasping their own aggressive impulses. It was registered by professor T.G.Masaryk (later the first president of Czechoslovakia) who went to Yasnaya Polyana and reported later that Leo Tolstoy, the great apostle of peace and non-violence, regularly slapped his servants around silly. On the same subject, we even had a joke about a Soviet advisor in Africa who "solved" a problem in deciding whether a prisoner of his client army was a dangerous spy. He asked the prisoner to slap his face. The prisoner did and the advisor shot him dead. When the clients asked him why he shot the prisoner he said: 'bezopasnostj prezhde vsevo' (security above all!). They were perplexed: 'no, what we meant to ask is why you asked him to slap your face before shooting him?'  He replied: 'tovarishchi, my nikogda agressory'. (Comrades, we are never agressors!)  I recalled the old chestnut when I read about Nikki Haley's recent posturing: Russia will never be our friend. We'll slap them when we need to. Of course that speaks of a different problem, but by all means, let us stay away these slap fests. They do not add any value.

Staging propaganda events is perhaps necessary but they should be done intelligently. The March 1 speech was far from smart propaganda, unlike, say, inviting Masha Gessen to Kremlin for a tea and a friendly tête-à-tête. Putin was threatening and the sooner he realizes he made a mistake and paid for it by being taken down a peg or two in his international stature, and having Russia's economy further damaged, the better for all of us.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Instead of Brexit Repeats Why Not a Smarter Europe?

  In my on-line discussions with American fans of Marine Le Pen discussing her last Sunday's loss several issues kept returning undigested. One was the idea that to save France, (and the cultural traditions of other European nations) the nation states must return in toto, that is they need to exit the EU and destroy it.  This is extremely naïve.  Mind you, this would not really be surprising coming from Americans, but surely it was from Le Pen and the Front National.  In the past, I praised Marine for political acumen, especially her ability to avoid extremist positions (despite the label being pinned on her) and her push to get her movement into the mainstream. However, it appears now that since the Regionals in 2015 she has gone the way of other European "protest movements", which assure themselves of remaining on the fringes of political life by saying and doing stupid things. Take for example the proposal of Geert Wilders to ban the Qur'an in the Netherlands as "hate literature".  The idea was criticized even from within the ranks as outlandish, to which Geert replied, in a standard defense, by saying that "you have to demand more than you know you can get". 

    To me however, this is precisely why Wilders' PVV will remain the pariah in Netherlands despite growing apprehension of Europe committing suicide by immigration which threatens not just the culture and traditions but social welfare of the "native Europeans" (a notion which has already been equated with Nazism and racism by the EU matriarchs).  The home-grown Dutch will simply conclude that Wilders is too much of a twit to lead the country, and the "extra" bubble of support - that he gets after each Islamist atrocity - goes "poof". 

    But there is a bigger issue, in fact the elephant in the room in both the Dutch and French spring elections: Ne/Fre/xit.  The problem of the populist Europe is that it took first the (phoney) threat of Grexit and then the real Brexit as a start of an inevitable massacre whereby the monster-chicken of EU would be cut up back to completely sovereign states, each proud and free with defended borders and national economy and presumably twenty-seven spanking-new European embassies. Big mistake!

     Brexit will not be repeated because there is no other island nation in Europe with a history like Britain's and its unique ties to Europe. Europe is a continent which was once dominated by a few dynastic houses competing for supremacy first on its territory and then the globe. When in a world war one of those houses was denied and scrapped, a new political movement soon sprang up in the
abolished Empire with a dominance ideology which repeated a world war in a generation.  After the war, the EU logically evolved from a struggle for global dominance by the US and USSR, i.e. states outside of the traditional inner political orbit of Europe. First, the economic and then the political integration of Europe made sense. It was foreseen by political visionaries like Georges Clemenceau and the first Czechoslovak president T.G. Masaryk between the wars.  Masaryk, whose wife was an American suffragette, spoke of the desirability of United States of Europe to prevent wars and to build on the common purpose of the continent's Judeo-Christian culture. Sure, made sense then and makes sense now.  It is somewhat ironic that the anti-EU populist movements find so much common ground in their conferences. They really do look like a new Nationalist Internationale.

    So, hopefully when Marine Le Pen sobers up from her stinging defeat by an empty-headed political mannequin, she will reflect on the depth of folly of  "demanding more than you know you can get".  The EU and Eurozone are here to stay and France will stay in them. Too much has been invested in European integration and most people feel comfortable in it (even if they complain). That should be a starting point. 

    Then perhaps one can start to push for a reform in the way EU sees itself as a hyper-concentrated political monolith and take it down a few pegs, especially the monstrous ideological pseudo-shrine where noone prays but the self-serving elites.  Devolve some of the regulatory powers back to the  member nations. As for national borders, they should remain but the emphasis should be on common European interests. Instead of AfD wanting to protect Germany's borders and Front National the French, then perhaps what seems a more rational, and efficient solution in protecting both from barbarian invasions is protecting the Schengen border.  No ?

    Clearly, what is needed in Europe is much smarter political thinking than we see right now. The popular anti-elitist movements need to forget about abandoning the EU. It's there for a reason, and it may yet show itself a powerful tool in protecting the common interests of the Europeans.  Call for reform, cut out the crap, but don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Trump Cans Comey CNN Goes Gorilla

Neither item of the news is surprising, really. The head of FBI should have been gone day one of Trump administration for incompetence and overstepping his mandate.  His handling of the Clinton email saga was atrocious, whichever way you want to look at it. In the Democratic version of the beef, his "re-opening" of the investigation into Clinton two weeks before the election day, was a capital offense (,and in the extreme form of denial, one of two major causes of her losing the vote on November 8th). In the Republican one, Comey in the summer gave a pass to a blatant breach of security and unconscionable handling of government secret documents by the former Secretary of State Clinton. Only last week, the FBI director raised some eyebrows again when it was revealed during the Senate hearings that the some of the classified emails on Huma Abedin husband's laptop did not get there via backup (accepted as a bona fide explanation, and by the disseminated by the Bureau in news releases) but via transmission over public network (obviously unencrypted) to secure a hard copy. So two GOP beefs against Comey, against one Democratic one.

      No sooner the news of firing Comey hit the airwaves, CNN had its take on it, which went on like this: "Trump fired Comey because the FBI was getting closer and closer to him. This was a cynical, Nixonian ploy to get the DOJ off Trump's back on his wheeling dealing American democracy away to Putin. "

Nothing surprising in this for the ongoing congressional investigations into Russian interference in last year's US election, which has come straight out of Kafka. Perhaps only Jeff Toobin, one of the CNN regulars who usually keeps his head above silly babblefests, who this time went completely bonkers, fuming about the absurdity of Trump's "firing Comey in May 2017 because he was nasty to Hillary in October 2016", an obviously stupid way to try to get rid of the Inquisitor just as he was to confirm the Bureau has incriminating evidence of the Donald fellating Putin. Toobin, turning colors kept bleating the instant litany of the Dems, that this act was to sabotage The Investigation (which has so far produced absolutely nothing that would warrant interest), and that a special prosecutor was needed who would be impartial, which in translation means:  ready to conclude the prosecution of the president without facts to the satisfaction of the combined force of  Democrats and NeverTrumpers and get the sorry SOB out of the White House where he had no business to be in the first place.

Of course, I am a cynic and therefore do not believe that the canning of Comey had to do with the botched Hillary-Abedin investigation. But unlike Toobin, I think the official case for getting rid of him is good and solid. The real reason though that Trump finally got his fill of the FBI chief is, I have convinced myself,  because both of them know that Trump has not been investigated by the FBI, and Comey during the Senate hearing last week played stupid and chose to dance around it when he could have simply and truthfully said: "No, president Trump himself is not being investigated by the FBI".  That would have been the end of the despicable charade. There was no collusion between Trump's team and Russia because the pathetic little non-items on Michal Flynn, Carter Page, Roger Stone or Paul Manafort that have bubbled up are far, far from anything even resembling some unseemly conspiracy.  Now, to believe that with the sentiments that Washington and the mainstream media have toward the sitting president, the blatant  effects of some vast Manchurian candidate conspiracy would have been hidden this long strikes me as far stupider than believing Trump fired Comey because of his inept handling of the Hillary Clinton emails investigation.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Christie Blatchford cockeyed on Aleppo (too) !

   No, I am not obsessed with Christie Blatchford: I swear!  It's just that it so happened as I was busy with my Czech blog since summer, that she is the focus of my writing here back-to-back.  Something caught my eye in her writing on Friday, and I think I need to make a few points. 

   We live in parallel universes. It seems more and more self-evident. The amount of  irreducible moral values that we share has shrunk to almost nothing; critical thought has been has been banished out of almost any discourse; to demand balanced view of anything in the social or political sphere, you may as well admit that you are "in the other camp".  This is because we operate increasingly in a binary world of white against black, and most people (starting with generation  X-ers, but even more so with the millenials) no longer process the world based on what they digest by scavenging information from various sources, but simply plugging into ONE virtual reality that obsesses with a selection of real and imaginary outrages against THEM and THOSE who declare themselves believers in that virtual reality out of sense of kinship.  No dissent is allowed. If you have doubts about the basic tenets of the belief system  you are an agent of EVIL, or at best you are still in denial.

   There is no way you can convince the batshit crazy feminist troopers on campus that there is no world-wide male conspiracy against women or a culture of rape that every dick knows and lies about. There is no way one can reason with them and increasingly no way one can reason with the academia administrators who - if not in sympathy - are plainly intimidated by them. No way the famous Rolling Stone campus false rape accusation (there was a number of less-publicized similar cases before) would convince any of the troopers of the need to tone down the inane rhetoric if not to spend their creativity and energy in more useful social projects.

   Similarly, you cannot convince anti-Putin fanatics to drop their idiotic narrative in which he is a murderer of domestic political opponents, invader and oppressor of foreign countries, and a commander in chief of a grand army of hackers.  There is always the insane pitch that will sooner or later arrive in any of these virtual reality information channels.  In the campus statistical follies, it has arrived with the conviction that one in four women on campus has been sexually violated.  On the other front, this past week we learned that Putin was "personally" involved in the hacks. It could not have been otherwise; no-one in Russia could have ordered the hacks but Putin. But what is this saying?  People who don't know anything about Russia - let alone about Putin's Russia - automatically assume that this axiom must hold even though it should obvious to any modestly smart intelligence officer that someone high up might have (just might have) want to protect the boss and order the hacks to curry favours because he knew (or thought he knew) that Putin would be pleased with that sort of activity. It also would give him a way out - it's called "plausible deniability". That is a possibility, right?  But by the pedestrian logic deployed here, it must have Nicholas who ordered the assassination of Rasputin. No-one in Russia, the theory goes,  would have had the nerve to take bake cakes with potassium cyanide at the court without the express permission of the Tsar. Would he ? Vozmozhno?   But interestingly this childish assertion about Putin masterminding anything nefarious in Russia, has become a blood sport.  Kovtun and Lugovoy, the murderers of the former KGB agent Litvinenko in London in 2006 likely had had a clearance from Putin, Lord Owen concluded in a pathetic inquiry into the death of the émigré.  This of course opens the door for someone like Terence McKenna to claim there is no doubt Putin did it, and that he did it cover his tracks in the murder of Politkovskaya which Litvinenko alleged.  Our journalistic standards at work.

      With Christie Blatchford, it astonishes me to learn that she is willing to lap up much of the mainstream media garbage that one reads about Syria in general and Aleppo in particular.  It is very clear that she has no alternative source of information about the place and what is going on in there.

She excuses herself at the start of her National Post piece (Aleppo Needs Us, 16/12/2016) saying she is "certainly no foreign policy wonk".

That's Christian of you, Christie!  But what do you think you have to contribute here other than repeating the revolting and insane lies, which equate the bad things wrought by Assad  (and his friend Putin) to the monstrosities of people who massacre and terrorize civilians on grand scale.  Isn't the narrative that you and the Western media propagate the very guarantee of more death, destruction and misery, that Syria's people presently suffer?  Did you do some sanity check on some of the things you allege the government side does?  Like "chemical weapons" ?  You know that the evil Assad gave those up three years ago?  Don't you ?   (You evidently missed the Seymour Hersh's piece that no major outlet would initially publish in the U.S.) At any rate, you should know, that the only undisputed use of chemical weapons in the five-year war came from the rebel side. Very few people would argue with this on the basis of facts.  As for barrel bombs, well it's a brutal weapon and it was used by Assad, although I am still missing evidence that it was used "on civilian population" indiscriminately.  I am pretty sure that the Syrian dictator would be less generous in providing warning that hell is going to rain down on houses with people in them than the Israeli's were in Gaza.  But that the use of barrel bombs seems to have been limited to places (like the vicinity of Damascus or Homs) from which rockets were fired on civilian areas under government control.  Now, if you went as far as listening to Assad himself talking about his tactics in trying to dislodge the fanatics from heavily populated areas toward open spaces, you might have learned something. The Evil Man  has actually won a great deal of popularity in Syria as a "protector"  and in the internal dislocations over 80% of the displaced population migrates to the government-controlled areas. Now if you asked , "how much relief do these people  (over four million of them) get from the UN" you would be asking the right question.  But you are not asking that. Actually you are not asking anything (like Robert Fisk is, e.g.) You come to lecture, and lecture about something you personally have no background in, either as a first-hand experience or in absorbing some credible in-depth information on the conflict.  I am talking about judicious weighing of the alternatives, not the phoney ceasefires, peace proposals which by now everyone knows are just a smoke screen for the continued license to wage war on Syria. Boris Johnson has no solution for Syria. After he said that Russia could be guilty of war crimes in Syria, someone retorted that only "an idiot" would see the two sides of the conflict in terms of moral equivalence. And there are only two sides! The non-jihadi militants have never been a factor in the fighting!  Now what about the sudden surge of ISIS in eastern Syria after the Iraqis and the allies opened up a corridor for thousands of fighters to escape through, and the sudden reversal of Obama in signing an arms waiver for the rebels?  Any connection there, you think?

 So I would forget about getting rid of Assad!  It's not anyone's call to make but the Syrians'.  If one wants to help one should diversify a bit one's reading and seeing: try Eva Bartlett or Vanessa Beeley.  Too bad that in the English-speaking world I have not found a writer like  Tereza Spencerova who sends dispatches to the Czech weekly Literary News.  She has a great sense of what is going on on the ground and a way to make the landscape speak out in a way that is both believable and touching without melodrama. Here is an interesting excerpt from one of her blogs (translated from Czech): 

"I had the opportunity to visit one of the improvised refugee camps a few kilometers from Aleppo, on the grounds of a former textile factory. There was a  flood of women covered in black; some had their faces covered as well, except eyes. The eyes were empty. No mourning, no celebrating. One man from the Red Crescent tried to convince them over a bullhorn from a warehouse ramp that it is not against Allah's will to allow their children to be vaccinated against all manner of diseases.  Al-Qaeda forbade this as a conspiracy of the West to uproot Islam. In the meantime their men fought over unleavened bread Syrian soldiers were distributing from trucks. It was a view of human beings who have no idea what is going on around them, or what will be, humans with a single desire to survive the present, which in the shock from any radically new situation is, well, an automatic reflex.
    I tried to find out - in vain it turned out - if people from East Aleppo were more inclined to practice a very conservative form of Islam before the war or if they accepted the new ways as a part of their "Stockholm syndrome" from their captors, al-Qaeda. In any case, it was a horrific scene. In the middle of (relatively) cosmopolitan and civilized Syria, suddenly materializes a scene from Middle Ages - a Kandahar.   
    But the West does not care about these people any more - they were of interest only when they were under Russian or Syrian bombardments, and until anyone knew who they were. Now, when they are out - in the daylight, so to speak - no one can pretend they represent the masses struggling for democracy in Syria, and hence the Western humanitarian and other organizations lost their interest...but is anyone surprised?"

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Team Women Rocks Means Team Men Sucks?

Oh dear, it's Christie Blatchford!  Here is a journalist whom I have long considered the voice of reason among women, one who had her female libido dominandi firmly in check. Well wouldn't you know: somewhere, at some point the FCS (female chauvinist sow) will bubble up even in her.

  To hell with you, Christie! Why does the courageous and successful showing of Canada's women's soccer team have to invite the silly "comparison" with the lack of overall medal production from men?  (Team Women Rocks, Ottawa Sun, 21/8/2016) What is to be gained by that ? It is not even that monumental battle of sexes in tennis in which a top woman professional beat the pants off a male champ, alas, twenty years after his competitive career in which time he turned pudgy and developed a heart condition.  What possible satisfaction can someone derive from the fact that one's women's Olympic team wins close to three out of four medals for the country? It is the greatest female-male disparity among nations of the developed world.  What can women possible gain from the poor showing of their male team-mates?  Another rung on the ladder of pride?

      Before Rio, I never saw Christie write on soccer. From the way she writes about the game, what she focuses on and what exercises her, it seems clear she is out of her depth and does not have a clue of what is going on.  No, the popularity of Marta is not anywhere near that of Neymar in Brazil, even though the two are soccer prodigies. Seasoned soccer fans do not compare compulsively the leading men with women in the sport or, for that matter, whether women are fairly represented among football hooligans. It's like in all other sports: people compare the competitive qualities of players in their own milieu.

       I love watching women's tennis. The idea of comparing Serena Williams with Novak Djokovic does not enter into my mind because I am sane. One heard comparisons between the "quality" of soccer during  women's world championships on US TV networks in the 1990's and the view was that women play soccer better than men. But anyone who knew the style of women's soccer then (and I played it competitively in my youth) would laugh that off.  The women's game was still in its infancy and often resembled unstructured "swarms" such as you would see on a pitch among boys under thirteen. There was no real competition because other than US colleges (under Title IX.) no-one even had a national-level soccer program.  Women's game made enormous leaps since then, and the matches are now great fun to watch even for the connoisseurs. 

    I like the Canadian women's soccer team very much. It has spunk, strong desire to win, and ability to grind out difficult matches. But let's not get carried away: the squad still punches above its weight. In team strategy and tactics, and most players' individual technique, it still has a way to go to catch up with the six top teams in the world.

    As for the men/women disparity in podium production in Rio, Christie Blatchford would do us all a great service if she looked seriously into what I suspect are great disparities in funding between the two genders that promote women's sports over men's in Canada. Google searches for sources of funding consistently find number of programs  specifically for women but none for men. I have heard from several sources that many men coaches in Canada now distinctly prefer to train women because that's where the money is and success guarantees more of it. My hunch is (based on watching CBC commercials) that the corporate sponsors also go for the brownie points in shelling more money to women's athletes.  So it looks, a least based on anecdotal evidence that men athletes chez nous are distinctly second class citizens. And one only needs to recall what Simone de Beauvoir said on the lack of women's intellectual achievements: 'The point to be grasped here is that if you are brought up as an inferior, you will become an inferior'.