Tuesday, 20 September 2022

Andy B. Campbell, We Are Proud Boys

See, Andy B. Campbell, We Are Proud Boys: How a Right-Wing Street Gang Ushered in a New Era of American Extremism.

Full Fixed-Blade, Mossy Oak 14-inch Bowie Knife

Here, MOSSY OAK 14-inch Bowie Knife, Full-tang Fixed Blade Wood Handle with Leather Sheath.

The Life of a Queen, and a Generation (VIDEO)

Queen Elizabeth II's funeral was today.

At the New York Times, "From Coronation to Funeral: Bookends to the Life of a Queen, and a Generation":

LONDON — It has become a kind of badge of honor among baby boomers to recall how they watched on tiny black-and-white television sets on that day in June 1953, when Elizabeth II was crowned as postwar Britain’s first and thus far only queen.

It almost seemed as if an army had gathered around grainy screens set in walnut cabinets to follow the coronation, enthralled by the harnessing of old tradition to the miracle of new technology that became such a hallmark of the second Elizabethan era.

Then, on Monday, with lives fast-forwarded into a time of huge flat screens, and bright streaming images on smartphones and tablets, and with their numbers depleted by the years, they watched again, this time to follow her funeral. She had last been seen in public two days before her death on Sept. 8 at her Scottish castle, Balmoral, bowed and frail yet seeming still indomitable.

And it seemed, perhaps fancifully, that those two moments had become the bookends of a generation and of a nation’s frayed sense of equilibrium. With her death, a man of that same baby boomer generation, her eldest son, now King Charles III, has assumed the monarch’s role — if not, until his coronation, the crown and scepter — as the anchor of a nation’s identity in troubled times of change and flux.

For much of Britain, the queen’s accession to the throne offered a gleam of renascent hope after the depredations of World War II. Both her coronation and funeral unfolded at London’s Westminster Abbey, where, in 1947, she had married Prince Philip, who died in 2021. Her reign of more than 70 years set a record of longevity among British monarchs, reconfirming the notion that the monarchy provides the ballast of her subjects’ sense of continuity.

The new king’s rise, by contrast, is set against the tapestry of a pandemic and a new European war in Ukraine. Economies reel from inflation and the uncounted costs of Brexit. The question that has not really been asked in this time of national grief is whether the anchor will slip and a perilous drift will begin.

I saw the queen’s coronation at the home of a work-friend of my parents in blue-collar Salford, near Manchester, at one of those prefabricated bungalows that freckled Britain in the wake of the war. I was 6. The queen was 27. (King Charles was then 4.)

Of course, as a Briton, I am aware of the narrow line, often overstepped, between whimsy and mawkishness. But it was tempting, watching the state funeral and recalling the coronation, to marvel at the newness, the brightness of that moment in 1953, when even the possibilities of life had yet to be revealed to this British schoolboy. Who would have known then that a life would — or could — unfold in such primary colors of achievement, advance and loss? And who knows now what the legacy of it all would turn out to be? On the radio on Monday, someone quoted the poet John Donne’s injunction to ask not for whom the bell tolls, because “it tolls for thee.” But what is the bell saying?

Watching the funeral it seemed as if a pendulum was swinging between decline and renewal in the natural course of things. But it was hard to define where exactly Britain now stands in the cycle of national life.

The event itself played out in choreographed near perfection. Not a soldier in the procession that accompanied the queen’s cortege put a wrong foot forward. Draped in her regal standard, her coffin provided a platform for priceless crown jewels adorning the symbols of monarchy — crown, orb and scepter. The brass shone. The boots glowed. The tunics provided a palette of color. Horses pranced. The coffin itself was mounted on a ceremonial gun carriage pulled along by 142 sailors of the Royal Navy, marching as if one to the solemn strains of a funeral march.

It was possible to forget that, as a constitutional monarchy, Britain’s Royal House of Windsor wields only ceremonial powers. In her last public act at Balmoral, the queen presided over the political transition from Boris Johnson to Liz Truss as prime minister. Routinely the monarch holds a private, weekly audience with the prime minister but has little say in the identity of the official, or in the maneuverings that suffused the switch of office holder.

But there was a power on display in the solemnity of the service and the sheer spectacle of an event that brought Britons out in the thousands to line the streets, on occasion to cheer, at least to bear witness in reflective silence.

And another kind of soft power was on display in a guest list that included world leaders — President Biden among them. Many of those who tried to analyze the event reached for anecdotes reflecting the queen’s less public role as a subtle force promoting the interests of her realm beyond the headline-seeking purview of politicians.

In 1957, the queen said in a Christmas broadcast: “It’s inevitable that I should seem a rather remote figure to many of you, a successor to the kings and queens of history.”

“I cannot lead you into battle. I do not give you laws or administer justice. But I can do something else. I can give you my heart and my devotion to these old islands and to all the peoples of our brotherhood of nations.” With her astonishing longevity — she was 96 when she died — the queen seemed to keep the promise...

Saturday, 3 September 2022

Nicole Hemmer, Partisans

See, Nicole Hemmer, Partisans: The Conservative Revolutionaries Who Remade American Politics in the 1990s.

Biden Demonizes Millions in Primetime 'Soul of the Nation' Address (VIDEO)

See, "President Biden's Primetime 'Soul of the Nation' Address Demonizes Tens of Millions of Americans (VIDEO)."

If you're going to attack "MAGA Republicans" in a primetime address to the nation on the Donald Trump GOP's threats to democracy, just know that you're literally attacking millions upon millions of voters who pulled the lever for the Donald in 2020 (not to mention 2016). 

No, not everyone who voted for Trump was MAGA, and Old Joe (Stalin?) duly slides that in as an afterthought. No, he attacked the movement for America First principes as the most dangerous threat to our nation today. Really? That movement includes untold red-blooded patriotic Americans who have nothing to do with any of the "violence" the president decries. Biden makes no clear distinction. I mean, shoot, you don't need to put "MAGA" in front of "Republicans." They're all evil for leftist totalitarians. 

Anyone with a brain knows this is all politics, not abouit saving the union from incipient fascist tyranny. Biden's screed was a pre-midterm salvo to demonize the opposition, MAGA or not. That's it. The media's the bullhorn: You know, "Democracy Dies in Darkness" and all the other bullshit posituring by our elite betters in America's newsrooms. It's disgusting and should be repudiated, and with luck it will be in November. Don't trust the polls. Sure, leftists have been mobilized by the pro-life Dobbs ruling in June, but it's not the poor and down and out, who are destitute, homeless, mentally ill, drug-addled, and on Medicaid, public assistance, and SSI. 

Nope, it's white, wealthy "progressive" women. They're the one's who're pissed off, and they're driving this so-called surge of pro-choice voter agitation. They don't give a shit about the poor. They're craven virtue-signalers who claim they're better than you (they're not). 

Biden? His speech? THIS IS WHY AMERICANS HATE POLITICS.

See, Roger Kimball, at the Spectator, "Biden Declares War on Half the Country":

The malignant and divisive spirit of his speech will not soon be quelled.

Joe Biden’s speech at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall on Thursday was one of the most remarkable in living memory. By “remarkable,” I hasten to add that I do not mean “good.” On the contrary, it was a breathtaking act of what the psychoanalysts call “projection,” blaming others for the bad things you do yourself.

The speech itself was a malignant act of demagoguery that will have colonels and generalissimos everywhere catching their breath with envy. The neo-totalitarian stage set, replete with red lighting effects and military personal flanking the shouting, gesticulating Biden, was right out of central casting. Next time, perhaps Biden will wear epaulettes along with his signature aviators.

The speech was billed as a reflection on the “soul of the nation.” Remember, Biden was sold to the country as Mr. Normality, as someone who would bind up the nations’s wounds after four years of the bad, horrible, no good, unacceptable, supremely divisive Donald Trump.

It hasn’t worked out that way, notwithstanding Trump’s occasional zingers and rhetorical molotov cocktails that have kept the fires of outrage burning. In this respect, Biden’s speech typified the new Democratic dispensation, according to which the world is divided sharply in two. The good guys are those who espouse the Democratic agenda. The bad guys are anyone who dissents. What we are seeing, in fact, is the promulgation of a neo-Manichean philosophy. That heretical sect, named for a third-century A.D. Parthian seer called Mani, was an astringently dualistic creed that divided the world into light and dark, the saved and the damned. According to the creed of Biden and the elites who formulate his thoughts and speeches, the radical Democratic agenda of climate change, “green” intimidation, wealth redistribution, and sexual perversion is the gospel of light. Outer darkness is occupied by people who espouse such traditional American values as hard work, frugality, patriotism, individual liberty, and the canons of private property that guarantee those rights. It is a strange and unforgiving religion, one whose primary sacrament is excommunication. Ultimately, as some wag put it, its goal is a world in which everything that is not prohibited is mandatory.

That is the background. You often hear the world “democracy” uttered in these heady precincts, usually in the now-noxious phrase “our democracy” (translation: their prerogative”). As I note in a column on “Joe Biden and the Sovietization of America” for the October edition of the Speccie, it is a world in which “democracy” really means “rule by Democrats.” To the question “was the election fair,” what you need to know in order to answer is who won. If it was the Democrats, then the election was fair. If the Democrats lost, then the election was stolen.

In any event, Biden’s speech consisted of a series accusations directed at “Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans [who] represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our Republic.”

Lest you think that attack on 74 million Trump supporters was an aberration, note that a week earlier at a Maryland fundraiser, Biden had insisted that the problem for those wishing to conserve the “soul of America” was “not just Trump, it’s the entire philosophy that underpins the…semi-fascism” of the MAGA agenda.

The sweeping denunciation of half the country was perhaps the thing that caught the alarmed attention of most observers. Also important was that element of projection I mentioned. Biden’s brief against Trump and “the entire philosophy” of MAGA rested primarily on three accusations...

 Keep reading.

Thursday, 1 September 2022

Cartoon Round Up....






 

Matthew Rose, Philosophers of the Radical Right

See, Matthew Rose, A World after Liberalism: Philosophers of the Radical Right.

Mikhail Gorbachev, Last Leader of the Soviet Union, Dead at 91

One of the biggest, most important leaders of the second half of the 20th century. He wrought monumental change, literally bringing about the end of the post-WWII Cold War era.

At the New York Times, "Mikhail S. Gorbachev, Reformist Soviet Leader, Is Dead at 91: Adopting principles of glasnost and perestroika, he weighed the legacy of seven decades of Communist rule and set a new course, presiding over the end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the U.S.S.R.":

Mikhail S. Gorbachev, whose rise to power in the Soviet Union set in motion a series of revolutionary changes that transformed the map of Europe and ended the Cold War that had threatened the world with nuclear annihilation, has died in Moscow. He was 91.

Mikhail S. Gorbachev, whose rise to power in the Soviet Union set in motion a series of revolutionary changes that transformed the map of Europe and ended the Cold War that had threatened the world with nuclear annihilation, has died in Moscow. He was 91.

His death was announced on Tuesday by Russia’s state news agencies, citing the city’s central clinical hospital. The reports said he had died after an unspecified “long and grave illness.”

Few leaders in the 20th century, indeed in any century, have had such a profound effect on their time. In little more than six tumultuous years, Mr. Gorbachev lifted the Iron Curtain, decisively altering the political climate of the world.

At home he promised and delivered greater openness as he set out to restructure his country’s society and faltering economy. It was not his intention to liquidate the Soviet empire, but within five years of coming to power he had presided over the dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. He ended the Soviet debacle in Afghanistan and, in an extraordinary five months in 1989, stood by as the Communist system imploded from the Baltics to the Balkans in countries already weakened by widespread corruption and moribund economies.

For this he was hounded from office by hard-line Communist plotters and disappointed liberals alike, the first group fearing that he would destroy the old system and the other worried that he would not. It was abroad that he was hailed as heroic. To George F. Kennan, the distinguished American diplomat and Sovietologist, Mr. Gorbachev was “a miracle,” a man who saw the world as it was, unblinkered by Soviet ideology.

But to many inside Russia, the upheaval Mr. Gorbachev had wrought was a disaster. President Vladimir V. Putin called the collapse of the Soviet Union the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.” For Mr. Putin — and his fellow K.G.B. veterans who now form the inner circle of power in Russia — the end of the U.S.S.R. was a moment of shame and defeat that the invasion of Ukraine this year was meant to help undo.

“The paralysis of power and will is the first step toward complete degradation and oblivion,” Mr. Putin said on Feb. 24, when he announced the start of the invasion, referring to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Mr. Gorbachev made no public statement of his own about the war in Ukraine, though his foundation on Feb. 26 called for a “speedy cessation of hostilities.” A friend of his, the radio journalist Aleksei A. Venediktov, said in a July interview that Mr. Gorbachev was “upset” about the war, viewing it as having undermined “his life’s work.”

When he came to power, Mr. Gorbachev was a loyal son of the Communist Party, but one who had come to see things with new eyes. “We cannot live this way any longer,” he told Eduard A. Shevardnadze, who would become his trusted foreign minister, in 1984. Within five years he had overturned much that the party held inviolable.

A man of openness, vision and great vitality, he looked at the legacy of seven decades of Communist rule and saw official corruption, a labor force lacking motivation and discipline, factories that produced shoddy goods, and a distribution system that guaranteed consumers little but empty shelves — empty of just about everything but vodka.

The Soviet Union had become a major world power weighed down by a weak economy. As East-West détente permitted light into its closed society, the growing class of technological, scientific and cultural elites could no longer fail to measure their country against the West and find it wanting.

The problems were clear; the solutions, less so. Mr. Gorbachev had to feel his way toward his promised restructuring of the Soviet political and economic systems. He was caught between tremendous opposing forces: On one hand, the habits ingrained by 70 years of cradle-to-grave subsistence under Communism; on the other, the imperatives of moving quickly to change the old ways and to demonstrate that whatever dislocation resulted was temporary and worth the effort.

It was a task he was forced to hand over to others when he was removed from office, a consequence of his own ambivalence and a failed coup against him by hard-liners whom he himself had elevated to his inner circle.

The openness Mr. Gorbachev sought — what came to be known as glasnost — and his policy of perestroika, aimed at restructuring the very underpinnings of society, became a double-edged sword. In setting out to fill in the “blank spots” of Soviet history, as he put it, with frank discussion of the country’s errors, he freed his impatient allies to criticize him and the threatened Communist bureaucracy to attack him. Still, Mr. Gorbachev’s first five years in power were marked by significant, even extraordinary, accomplishments:
■ He presided over an arms agreement with the United States that eliminated for the first time an entire class of nuclear weapons, and began the withdrawal of most Soviet tactical nuclear weapons from Eastern Europe.

■ He withdrew Soviet forces from Afghanistan, a tacit admission that the invasion in 1979 and the nine-year occupation had been a failure.

■ While he equivocated at first, he eventually exposed the nuclear power-plant disaster at Chernobyl to public scrutiny, a display of candor unheard-of in the Soviet Union.

■ He sanctioned multiparty elections in Soviet cities, a democratic reform that in many places drove stunned Communist leaders out of office.

■ He permitted the release of the confined dissident Andrei D. Sakharov, the physicist who had been instrumental in developing the Soviet hydrogen bomb.

■ He lifted restrictions on the media, allowing previously censored books to be published and previously banned movies to be shown.

■ In a stark departure from the Soviet history of official atheism, he established formal diplomatic contacts with the Vatican and helped promulgate a freedom-of-conscience law guaranteeing the right of the people to “satisfy their spiritual needs.”

But if Mr. Gorbachev was lionized abroad as having helped change the world — he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990 — he was vilified at home as having failed to live up to the promise of economic change. It became widely said that in a free vote, Mr. Gorbachev could be elected president anywhere but the Soviet Union.

After five years of Mr. Gorbachev, store shelves remained empty while the union disintegrated. Mr. Shevardnadze, who had been his right hand in bringing a peaceful end to Soviet control in Eastern Europe, resigned in late 1990, warning that dictatorship was coming and that reactionaries in the Communist Party were about to cripple reform.

Peter Reddaway, an author and scholar of Russian history, said at the time: “We see the best side of Gorbachev. The Soviets see the other side, and hold him to blame.”

A Son of Peasants

There was little in his early life that would have led anyone to believe that Mikhail Gorbachev could become such a dynamic leader. His official biography, issued after he became the new party chief, traced the well-traveled path of a good, loyal Communist.

Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev was born on March 2, 1931, in Privolnoye, a farming village in the Stavropol region of the Caucasus. His parents were genuine peasants, earning their bread by the sweat of their brows. During his infancy, the forced collectivization of the land turned a once-fertile region into “a famine disaster area,” the exiled writer and biologist Zhores A. Medvedev wrote in a biography of Mr. Gorbachev.

“The death from starvation was very high,” he added. “In some villages, all the children between the ages of 1 and 2 died.”

Misha, as Mikhail was known, was a bright-eyed youngster whose early photographs show him in a Cossack’s fur hat. He grew up in a house of straw held together with mud and manure and with no indoor plumbing. But his family was well respected among the Communist faithful. Mr. Gorbachev wrote in his book “Memoirs” that both his grandfathers had been arrested for crimes against the Czarist state.

Still, the family’s embrace of Soviet ideology was not all-encompassing; Mr. Gorbachev’s mother and grandmother had him baptized...

Still more.

 

Tuesday, 23 August 2022

Horny Goat Weed for Male Enhancement

Get it: Horny Goat Weed for Male Enhancement - Extra Strength Horny Goat Weed for Men 1590mg Complex with Saw Palmetto Extract L Arginine Panax Ginseng and Tongkat Ali Extract Testosterone Supplement for Men.

Spencer Schneider, Manhattan Cult Story

See, Spencer Schneider, Manhattan Cult Story: My Unbelievable True Story of Sex, Crimes, Chaos, and Survival.

Chris Stirewalt, Broken News

See, Chris Stirewalt, Broken News: Why the Media Rage Machine Divides America and How to Fight Back.

Playing With Fire in Ukraine

From John Mearsheimer, at Foreign Affairs, "The Underappreciated Risks of Catastrophic Escalation":

Western policymakers appear to have reached a consensus about the war in Ukraine: the conflict will settle into a prolonged stalemate, and eventually a weakened Russia will accept a peace agreement that favors the United States and its NATO allies, as well as Ukraine. Although officials recognize that both Washington and Moscow may escalate to gain an advantage or to prevent defeat, they assume that catastrophic escalation can be avoided. Few imagine that U.S. forces will become directly involved in the fighting or that Russia will dare use nuclear weapons.

Washington and its allies are being much too cavalier. Although disastrous escalation may be avoided, the warring parties’ ability to manage that danger is far from certain. The risk of it is substantially greater than the conventional wisdom holds. And given that the consequences of escalation could include a major war in Europe and possibly even nuclear annihilation, there is good reason for extra concern.

To understand the dynamics of escalation in Ukraine, start with each side’s goals. Since the war began, both Moscow and Washington have raised their ambitions significantly, and both are now deeply committed to winning the war and achieving formidable political aims. As a result, each side has powerful incentives to find ways to prevail and, more important, to avoid losing. In practice, this means that the United States might join the fighting either if it is desperate to win or to prevent Ukraine from losing, while Russia might use nuclear weapons if it is desperate to win or faces imminent defeat, which would be likely if U.S. forces were drawn into the fighting.

Furthermore, given each side’s determination to achieve its goals, there is little chance of a meaningful compromise. The maximalist thinking that now prevails in both Washington and Moscow gives each side even more reason to win on the battlefield so that it can dictate the terms of the eventual peace. In effect, the absence of a possible diplomatic solution provides an added incentive for both sides to climb up the escalation ladder. What lies further up the rungs could be something truly catastrophic: a level of death and destruction exceeding that of World War II.

AIMING HIGH

The United States and its allies initially backed Ukraine to prevent a Russian victory and help negotiate a favorable end to the fighting. But once the Ukrainian military began hammering Russian forces, especially around Kyiv, the Biden administration shifted course and committed itself to helping Ukraine win the war against Russia. It also sought to severely damage Russia’s economy by imposing unprecedented sanctions. As Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin explained U.S. goals in April, “We want to see Russia weakened to the degree that it can’t do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine.” In effect, the United States announced its intention to knock Russia out of the ranks of great powers.

What’s more, the United States has tied its own reputation to the outcome of the conflict. U.S. President Joe Biden has labelled Russia’s war in Ukraine a “genocide” and accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of being a “war criminal” who should face a “war crimes trial.” Presidential proclamations such as these make it hard to imagine Washington backing down; if Russia prevailed in Ukraine, the United States’ position in the world would suffer a serious blow.

Russian ambitions have also expanded. Contrary to the conventional wisdom in the West, Moscow did not invade Ukraine to conquer it and make it part of a Greater Russia. It was principally concerned with preventing Ukraine from becoming a Western bulwark on the Russian border. Putin and his advisers were especially concerned about Ukraine eventually joining NATO. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made the point succinctly in mid-January, saying at a press conference, “the key to everything is the guarantee that NATO will not expand eastward.” For Russian leaders, the prospect of Ukrainian membership in NATO is, as Putin himself put it before the invasion, “a direct threat to Russian security”—one that could be eliminated only by going to war and turning Ukraine into a neutral or failed state.

Toward that end, it appears that Russia’s territorial goals have expanded markedly since the war started. Until the eve of the invasion, Russia was committed to implementing the Minsk II agreement, which would have kept the Donbas as part of Ukraine. Over the course of the war, however, Russia has captured large swaths of territory in eastern and southern Ukraine, and there is growing evidence that Putin now intends to annex all or most of that land, which would effectively turn what is left of Ukraine into a dysfunctional rump state.

The threat to Russia today is even greater than it was before the war, mainly because the Biden administration is now determined to roll back Russia’s territorial gains and permanently cripple Russian power. Making matters even worse for Moscow, Finland and Sweden are joining NATO, and Ukraine is better armed and more closely allied with the West. Moscow cannot afford to lose in Ukraine, and it will use every means available to avoid defeat. Putin appears confident that Russia will ultimately prevail against Ukraine and its Western backers. “Today, we hear that they want to defeat us on the battlefield,” he said in early July. “What can you say? Let them try. The goals of the special military operation will be achieved. There are no doubts about that.”

Ukraine, for its part, has the same goals as the Biden administration. The Ukrainians are bent on recapturing territory lost to Russia—including Crimea—and a weaker Russia is certainly less threatening to Ukraine. Furthermore, they are confident that they can win, as Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov made clear in mid-July, when he said, “Russia can definitely be defeated, and Ukraine has already shown how.” His U.S. counterpart apparently agrees. “Our assistance is making a real difference on the ground,” Austin said in a late July speech. “Russia thinks that it can outlast Ukraine—and outlast us. But that’s just the latest in Russia’s string of miscalculations.”

In essence, Kyiv, Washington, and Moscow are all deeply committed to winning at the expense of their adversary, which leaves little room for compromise. Neither Ukraine nor the United States, for example, is likely to accept a neutral Ukraine; in fact, Ukraine is becoming more closely tied with the West by the day. Nor is Russia likely to return all or even most of the territory it has taken from Ukraine, especially since the animosities that have fueled the conflict in the Donbas between pro-Russian separatists and the Ukrainian government for the past eight years are more intense than ever.

These conflicting interests explain why so many observers believe that a negotiated settlement will not happen any time soon and thus foresee a bloody stalemate. They are right about that. But observers are underestimating the potential for catastrophic escalation that is built into a protracted war in Ukraine...

Still more.


Tuesday, 16 August 2022