Midterms and Mayhem

Abstract: A “red wave” midterm election seems about to occur. Notwithstanding the apparent (relatively) recent precedent of the 1994 midterms, the eight weeks from Tuesday 8 November 2022 to Tuesday 3 January 2023 may become the most challenging period to date in the entire history of the American constitutional order, not excepting the “Secession Winter” following Tuesday 6 November 1860. A broadly similar situation would almost certainly exist if the relative positions of the major political parties in the US were reversed. Even with alarming possibilities in view, this post is intended to promote constructive apprehension, not mere fearfulness.

Like all good students at our eponymous institution, you get the theoretical elements first, then more practical aspects, and falsifiable predictions at the end.

Read more

Known Knowns, Known Unknowns, Et Cetera

“There are known knowns, things we know that we know;
and there are known unknowns, things that we know we don’t know.
But there are also unknown unknowns, things we do not know we don’t know.”
– Donald Rumsfeld

So last week’s post regarding the paucity of lefty anti-war protesters regarding the Ukrainian war is still going strong with comments, reminding me once again of the great sage, Donald Rumsfeld, regarding what we know, and what we know that we don’t know … and what we really don’t know that we don’t know.
What do I know for sure about the war? I know that both sides are … parsimonious with the truth about everything that is happening in the zone of conflict, to the point where a truckload of salt is necessary when reading the headlines, no matter if it’s the established print media, or blogs. What to believe? Practically nothing, save that yes, indeed, there is a war and a pretty hot one, too.
I am pretty certain that Ukraine served basically as the Biden family’s ATM. Corrupt government – yeah, that I do believe. But as corrupt than Russia itself, Nigeria, Pakistan, Belarus, South Sudan, Somalia, Burundi, Venezuela, and other frequent fliers on ‘most corrupt evah!’ list?
I do believe that Putin’s Russia apparently went into the Ukraine believing that it would be a one-two punch and settled to the advantage of Russia within a fortnight. That the war has been going on without a resolution since February of this year argues that Putin and his generals did indeed bite off more than they could chew, seriously overestimating their own capabilities and the Ukrainian will to resist.
The modern Ukrainians are descended from the Cossacks, in culture if not in blood, who had for centuries a tradition of making war … enthusiastically. They also, if I read my history right, still hold a grudge for being subjected to the Holodomor, the mass starvation under Stalin’s harsh rule in the 1930s. And that has to cast a very long shadow, among survivors of that state-instituted horror and their descendants.

Read more

Where Have All the Flowers Gone?*

It’s an ongoing mystery to me, in this year of 2022, with a hot war going on in the Ukraine and the Biden Administration (or the Kalorama Kominturn which apparently holds the puppet strings) apparently doing everything it can to provoke Russia into turning the war even hotter … that the usual peace activists, who have been out to protest US involvement in every conflict going since I was in the 6th grade are nowhere to be found. Seriously, where are they – the usual peace activists, with their signs and protests at the gates of military bases, at recruiting offices and at the Pentagon … where are they? Where are the activist priests and nuns, the 60’s retreads, the determined if slightly addled, who used to routinely break into the back reaches of certain air bases in the southwest, searching for munitions and aircraft that they could splash blood-red paint and slogans all over, much to the bafflement of the security police patrols who often found them wandering in the desert, armed with buckets of paint and towering self-righteousness … yes, I had acquaintances in the security police back then, who often regaled me with tales like this.
Every time that matters of a military nature with regard to the US were about to turn from a warm simmer to red hot – there they were, on the ground, fulminating in the groves of academy, or on the pages of such reliably progressive publications like Harper’s, of the NY Times, and in the streets of Washington D.C. – there were the peace activists protesting. It was like the birds flying south for the winter; regular and predictable, until now. So, where are the deeply and ostentatiously committed peaceniks now? Are they out protesting the very real possibility of a nuclear war with Russia over independence of the Ukraine? Where are the Ramsay Clarkes, Noam Chomskys, even the Cindy Sheehans of 2022, the impassioned student peace marchers?
There was always a suspicion – and depending on the year and the conflict – a well-founded suspicion that many organized peace and anti-nuclear protest groups were Soviet-funded – and if so, I do wonder if they still are. Are the Soviet checks bouncing, or are they not being sent at all, since … open war with the United States is what Putin and his allies in what remains of the Soviet Union really want? Could it be that the Biden Administration also wants an open war with Russia, as a distraction and a ready excuse to crack down on critics and political opposition? Place your bets, ladies, gentlemen and uncommitted beings. Your insights are appreciated.

* Classical reference, link here.

Rapò Sitiyasyon Ayiti

Most problems were not problems long enough to be interesting.

— Larry Niven, PROTECTOR

Haiti has remained a problem long enough to be interesting.

Read more

Heatwave

Yes, there is a heatwave going on in Northern Europe this week – or at least, to them it’s a heatwave. To those of us who live in Texas, it’s just a normal summer, with temperatures in the 90s and reaching three digits. Supercilious Europeans, Brits and Canadians, and lunkheaded Americans like perennial tween know-it-all Taylor Lorenz are forever chiding us about our excessive air conditioning in homes, government buildings and offices, little recking that basically, most of the United States is on the same latitude as the Mediterranean and North Africa – and without efficient air conditioning, large swathes of the southern states would just plain old be unlivable – and no, in the South it’s not a dry heat, but a soggy and humid exercise in physical torment. So I do feel for those suffering Europeans and Brits, I really do. My brother and sister and I spent the summer of 1976 in Britain, which turned out to have been one of the hottest on record, rather like the heatwave this year. We – accustomed to So-Cal summers didn’t at first really grok how unaccustomed the British public was to this kind of summer heat, what with the grass in the parks dying for want of water.

Read more