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Politics & Religion / Re: 2020 Presidential election
« on: Today at 08:53:27 AM »
I needed that to start my day!

Politics & Religion / George Friedman: American Leadership
« on: Today at 04:05:36 AM »
ctober 27, 2020
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What Happened to American Leadership?
By: George Friedman

International conferences for people in my profession are generally a thing of the recent past, having been replaced by virtual conferences via platforms like Zoom and Webex. I’ve attended three this month alone and many more in prior months. One question has been repeatedly raised, particularly at European conferences: What has happened to American leadership? It’s typically followed by another question of whether the United States is returning to isolationism. I am not at all clear what leadership means when there is little following. I am more baffled by the notion of a return to isolationism.

It is the concept of a “return” that confuses me, since the United States never isolated itself. It’s true that in the interwar period the U.S. tried to avoid going to war in Europe again. The U.S. became involved in the First World War to block a German victory and then withdrew its troops. The U.S. saw this as the war to end all wars, and the Europeans increasingly acted as if it were a truce within one war. The United States did not want to be dragged into another European bloodbath and was in no position to stop what was to the United States an endless European dynamic.

But while the United States sought distance from Europe, it was involved in Asia. It opposed Japan’s invasion of Manchuria by providing limited military force to China, engaged with the Philippines and maintained a substantial naval force in Hawaii. U.S. economic measures grew so intense that they triggered the attack by Japan on Pearl Harbor. For Europeans and what I might call Europeanists in the United States, the failure to engage in Europe is deemed isolation, and the substantial engagement in Asia is deemed irrelevant. The United States was not engaged in Europe because it reasonably believed it could have little influence there, and that expanding its influence would be too risky. The U.S. did not want to replay WWI, and was drawn into Europe by Hitler declaring war on the United States after Pearl Harbor. It is not clear what the U.S. would have done without this, but the desire not to get trapped in another European bloodbath was neither irrational nor irresponsible.

Once Hitler declared war, the United States inevitably assumed leadership. The American industrial plant was indispensable to Britain and the Soviet Union, and U.S. forces rapidly dwarfed the British in Europe. The United States was forced into a Pacific war by Japan and an Atlantic war by Hitler, not altogether by choice. It became the leader in both theaters because of the power it brought to bear. Leadership was the result of an imbalance of power.

After World War II, it became apparent to Washington that without a U.S. presence in Europe, the Soviet Union would dominate the Continent and in doing so threaten U.S. control of the Atlantic. So the U.S. stayed in Europe, sending troops, organizing the economy, rehabilitating Germany and so on. Most important, U.S. forces and the threat of nuclear weapons created what turned out to be a prudent if uneasy understanding between the United States and Europe. The U.S. imposed a unity on the fractured as part of this strategy. It was the leadership of the powerful over the weak.

All the while, the U.S. was intensely involved in the Pacific, fighting major wars in Korea and Vietnam that killed nearly 100,000 Americans. This was a unique period of U.S. history seen by allies as the new norm. But the United States was as involved as it was to confront a coalition of communist states. In creating an anti-communist coalition, the U.S. bore a substantial economic burden and incurred significant military risk. The only advantage was defensive – preventing the domination of both Europe and Asia by a rival power. Otherwise, there was little benefit.

The collapse of the Soviet Union and the evolution of China after the death of Mao Zedong changed the global reality dramatically. The Europeans signed the Maastricht treaty, which did not particularly concern the U.S., despite having little influence over the negotiations. Europe was now free to take its own course. Similarly, Asia (particularly Japan) was booming, and with China redesigning itself there was no reason for a massive presence there.

The American presence at both ends of Eurasia was not triggered by any real economic advantage. It was triggered by the American interest in maintaining the Atlantic and Pacific as buffers against Eurasian threats to the United States. In the 1990s, these threats faded, and therefore a new strategy was required. The new strategy emerged slowly. Washington did not abandon Europe; there were no significant enemies to speak of, the European economy was surging, and the need for American leadership weakened. Old habits die hard, and institutions such as NATO continued with a far weakened military capability facing a far weakened threat. Europe recognized as much and adjusted its defense policy so that it could focus on economic matters. In many ways, the American presence became anachronistic. In the past decade, the U.S. has focused on an unlikely Russian threat to Europe, placing U.S. troops in Poland and Romania. But with the European Union having a gross domestic product roughly equal to that of the U.S. and no significant military threat, the U.S. interest in Europe declines and the European need for the United States dissolves.

The United States is a two-ocean power. During World War II, both oceans mattered. During the Cold War, precedence shifted occasionally. Now, the dominant interest of the United States is containing Chinese naval power by controlling its littoral waters. The U.S. has a massive alliance system doing just that. Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Australia are formally or implicitly allied. Indonesia, Vietnam and India are not formally engaged but have interests parallel to those of the United States relative to China. It creates a line of containment from the Aleutians to the Strait of Malacca and into the Indian Ocean. As in the Cold War, the U.S. strategy is containment, and an alliance structure built around massive American power. It is designed to make a Chinese offensive too risky for Beijing while containing China at a high financial cost but low military risk.

So the answer to the original question – “What happened to American leadership”? – is that history has moved on and Europe can and does lead itself. Whatever risks Europe faces should be dealt with through European leadership, and where necessary, a degree of U.S. force can augment it. Interests demand that the U.S. focus on the Pacific, just as it has done since before WWII. American leadership is readily apparent there.

In other words, U.S. leadership goes where the U.S. has significant interest. Europe does not need American leadership in economics or defense. The U.S. has an overarching interest in Asia. It has no desire or means to compel significant European action, nor are the Europeans interested in giving it. The threat of a Russian invasion of Europe is small, but the U.S. has made prudent commitments in front line countries.

The U.S. is not isolationist, nor does it intend to be, nor will it be allowed to arbitrate European squabbles. The Europeans lived through a period of massive American economic and military involvement. That period is over. The alliance structures can stay in place, and meetings can be held with communiques issued, but history has moved on. So has the U.S.


Politics & Religion / Re: 2020 Presidential election
« on: October 25, 2020, 07:35:21 PM »
An astute friend writes what you see below-- he is free of course to take credit if he wishes:

In all of your reading, did you learn that effective Jan 1, 2020, the USA imposed travel restrictions and a travel advisory on all people traveling to China from the USA and entering into the USA with visa stamps on their passports from China in the 30 days prior to entry?  Those advisories led to the discovery of the first patient who likely spread the virus into the Kirkland WA nursing home.


The federal government knew of the potentially harmful effects of the virus in late January from the videos smuggled out of China, the discovery of Patient Zero in Kirkland by the State of Washington health authorities, and the spread of the virus on the cruise ship(s) in late January.  Those things plus the receipt of the virus RNA from China prompted the administration to create task force in very late January.  A few days after the task force was created, the US increased the restrictions to a full ban on travel to and from China.  They brought home all those US citizens and legal residents who were living or working in China.


So, yes, in late January, we knew that the virus could cause serious health issues in certain people who got it, but since we only got the RNA from China on about Jan 24th, we did not yet know the risk of spreading and the likely infection fatality rate.


As I informed my readers back on January 22nd, Wuhan is the size of NYC and it is home to China’s fiber optics industry in a big enterprise zone that is located there.  If you recall, the first two weeks of earnings season in late January were fraught with analyst questions about the existence of any negative impacts from the virus in China.  Even Apple gave normal guidance for its Q1-CY 2020 (its Q2-FY 2020).  Then, around Feb 4th, things began to change.  Lumentum, the spin off from the old JDS Uniphase, warned that its fiscal quarter ending in March would have negative revenue impacts from China.  A cascade started and reached a crescendo when Apple pulled its revenue guidance.


The link between Wuhan and northern Italy and Germany became clearer when you realized that there is a series of optical equipment factories and labs in northern Italy all the way to Trieste that are connected to Wuhan.  Lumentum has 7 facilities in that area – many of which were acquired from Oclaro (for Gilder folks, the company that ended up buying Avanex – “don’t let it get away.”).  Also, in the same area, many clothing and accessory factories employed Chinese workers of which about 50,000 came from Hubei Province.  A lot of these people went home for lunar new year and returned to northern Italy in early to mid-February.  About 10-14 days later, we began reading about the mounting cases in Lombardy emergency rooms and the sudden surge in deaths there.  Americans, including many students on overseas college trips and study programs brought the virus back home to the USA by mid-March when they started being brought home.  By that time, it was too late to stop the virus here.


It’s very easy in September-October to say six months after the fact that you would have done things differently in February and March.  Except nobody on the Dem side of the aisle said any such thing; and, they also knew the potential lethality of the virus because it was out there publicly in the media.  The CDC and Fauci said nothing other than right now there was nothing to fear.  Two weeks later, there was something to fear – for a certain segment of the population.  Fauci said masks were not necessary, but social distancing was necessary.  So was frequent hand washing and avoiding large crowds.  And you can post facto rationalize his statements into your own narrative if it makes you feel better, but the truth is that our infectious disease experts were caught by surprise by a virus that attacked our population asymmetrically compared to past experiences.  Their mechanisms for responding to a novel virus were slow and cumbersome given the speed in which we needed to respond.  And, IMO, from about March 20-29th, the experts had panicked because they realized that their traditional methods would not be enough to stop the virus.  So, they went full CYA to Trump with the IHME model estimate of 2.2 million dead and asked for extra help.  Trump responded well.  He mobilized the federal government resources as fast as possible and he cut through the bureaucratic red tape quickly.


If we ever get to a point where we can review the facts objectively and dispassionately, on balance, Trump will be the major reason why we were able to mitigate a potentially worse outcome.  That is not possible now because so many people are polarized for him or against him based upon his personality.  Quite frankly, I am proud of how everyone pulled together back in March and April and solved the ventilator problem, solved a lot of the PPE problem, worked on ramping testing, and stood aside and let the health care pro’s in the field treat their patients as they presented with symptoms.


To use a Bidenism:  “Here’s the deal.  The experts told us to hunker down until March 31st and we did.  Then, the experts told us to hunker another 30 days and we did. All to slow the spread so there would be enough hospital capacity.  Then, the experts changed the rules and told us we needed to remain hunkered down until there is a vaccine.  But then they said it was all right to protest certain issues in large groups.  Then, they said we couldn’t buy gardening supplies, but we could buy booze and pot.  And we couldn’t go to our summer homes and spend lots of time outside.  And then they said we had to eat outside, but not inside a restaurants.  But we could gather in crowds in supermarkets if we walked one way in aisles.  By June, it became clear that “the experts” had their own agendas.  And they really didn’t know much more than us about avoiding the virus.  After all, it’s now over 7 months after we started to slow the spread and they say nothing we did worked.  But it’s our fault – not theirs.  Less than 3% of the population has tested positive out of over 80 million tests performed.  And we’re approaching the 250th day to slow the spread.  C’mon man.  We still need to listen to the experts because they know best.”


Thank you.

I confess myself baffled at the market being as strong as it has been given the uncertainty and baffled at what to do.


At the moment I cannot get into the DBMA Assn forum.  May I ask you to post the preceding on a relevant thread and to let the guys know I should be back online in the next day or so?


I would like to compliment you on your recent developments in Close Quarter Combatives:

First, there is the knife material you call "The Chupacabra".  I find it to be ingenious in its primal intensity and lethal efficiency-- just the sort of thing do when you have to go RIGHT NOW in conditions of maximal intensity.

This applies to civilians or to professionals in kit.

Second, there are the knives of your design.  I carry the larger version, the Akita, which is the  military version, on my battle belt.  I can give no greater compliment!

For civilians, the slightly smaller and distinctly flatter version, the Shiba, is probably the way to go.

Not only does the ingenious handle design, found on both knives, allow for ready access when the fight is already underway, it also makes for an unusually secure grip in high adrenal circumstances.  No fear of sliding down onto the blade when a thrust hits something hard, even when the handle is slippery from blood.

Third, there is your integration of gun and knife for when the gun goes click instead of bang.  Not only does your ingenious transition to blade allow for ready and rapid lethality, it also enables returning to the gun to bring it back into battery without having to resheath the knife back first. Not having to find the sheath (which probably entails taking your eyes off of adversaries) and insert the knife without stabbing yourself during a firefight because you can return the gun to battery without having to resheathe the knife can be a real life saver!

Politics & Religion / Lind: 4G War
« on: October 25, 2020, 01:58:17 AM »


above: above: Grand Master Jay (center) of the Not F*****g Around Coalition (NFAC), a black militia, stands with his men in formation during a protest for Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky. on July 25, 2020 (Leslie Spurlock/ZUMA Wire/Alamy Live News)
Society & Culture
October 2020
Fourth Generation War Comes to a Theater Near You
By William Lind

Mobs loot, burn, and vandalize while politicians advocate defunding the police. A commune was established in Seattle and turned into Lord of the Flies while government did nothing. Blacks demand equal treatment from police despite a violent crime rate many times greater than that of whites, and mainstream media will not report honestly the differences in crime rates. “Wokeness” spreads among idle youth who flunked English 101. What is going on?

What is going on, right here on American soil, is war; a new kind of war that is also very old, waged by entities other than states. I call it Fourth Generation War and, to paraphrase Leon Trotsky, you may not be interested in Fourth Generation War—but it is interested in you.

In the 1980s, when working with the Marine Corps, I came up with an intellectual framework I call the Four Generations of Modern War. Military historian Martin van Creveld’s books The Rise and Decline of the State and The Transformation of War are foundational works in my framework, which flows from one of the defining elements of the modern age, the rise of the state.

The Four Generations framework begins in 1648, when in the Peace of Westphalia the state claimed and subsequently enforced a monopoly on war. This seems automatic to us today; war means armies, navies, and air forces of a state or an alliance of states fighting similar armed forces belonging to other states.

But war’s definition was not always so narrow. Before Westphalia, many different kinds of entities fought wars: families (think of the Montagues and Capulets from Romeo and Juliet), clans, tribes, races, religions, and even business enterprises. India was conquered not by Great Britain, but by the British East India Company, a business with an army and a fleet. They used many different tools to fight; for the most part, armies and navies as we know them did not exist. Fighters ranged from every male able to carry a weapon, through poisoners inserted in a rival’s kitchen, to highly specialized mercenaries who hired themselves out to anyone with cash. The Grimaldis, whose descendents still rule Monaco, got their start as galley fleet entrepreneurs.

People fought for many different reasons, not just raison d’état (political reasons). They fought for eternal salvation, for slaves to sell, for booty, for land, for pay, and because young men with idle hands like to fight—and the local women liked fighters. War flowed not like the Arno but like the Everglades, slowly inundating everything.

The state, as it arose beginning around the year 1500, gradually put an end to this.  The state came to impose and sustain order and the safety of persons and property. War not made by states threatened that order. So, the state rounded up the non-state fighters and hanged them from the nearest tree, to the loud huzzahs of the population.

The First Generation War ran from Westphalia to about the middle of the 19th century. I discuss this period in detail  in my book co-authored with Lt. Col. Gregory A. Thiele, 4th Generation Warfare Handbook (2015). It was a time characterized by tactics of line and column, which led to (for the most part) orderly battlefields which led in turn to a military culture of order.

That culture continues in almost all state armed forces today. That’s a problem, because starting in the mid-19th century the battlefield became steadily more disorderly. Part of the reason state militaries now so often lose against rag-tag opponents is that they have in effect one foot on the dock and one foot on the boat.

Second and Third Generation War were both attempts to deal with the growing disorder of the battlefield, and both came out of World War I. Second Generation War was developed by the French Army. It reduced war to a highly centralized process of putting firepower on targets, a process that both upheld and required a culture of order. Third Generation War came out of the German experience in World War I. Commonly known as “Blitzkrieg” in its World War II manifestation, it sought not to control but to use the disorder of the battlefield through a military culture of maneuver, speed, decentralization, and encouragement of initiative.

When the Second and Third Generations met in 1940, the latter defeated the former in six weeks, even though the French had more and better tanks than the Germans. Ideas, not weapons, were decisive—which has not prevented the U.S. armed forces from clinging to Second Generation tactics even today. They don’t work, but no one seems to care anymore that we lose wars, so long as the money keeps flowing.

Enter Fourth Generation War. All over the world, state militaries find themselves fighting not other mirror-image state armed forces but the ghosts of premodern war. Once again, many different kinds of entities are fighting wars: clans, tribes, races, religions, businesses we call drug cartels, and so on. They use many different means, not just armies; invasion by immigration is perhaps the most dangerous. And almost always, the state armed forces, despite vast combat power superiority, lose.

At the crux of Fourth Generation War is a crisis of the legitimacy of the state. This crisis varies greatly in intensity from one state to another, but almost everywhere we see people in growing numbers transfer their primary loyalty away from the state to non-state entities: race, religion, ideology, or political causes such as animal rights, etc. Many of those people, who would never fight for their state, are willing, even eager, to fight for their new primary loyalty. The consequence is that the state loses the monopoly on war it claimed at Westphalia. As van Creveld says, the key change in the Fourth Generation is not how war is fought (although that does change), but who fights and what they fight for.

That is much of what we have seen going on in our streets over the past few months. Fourth Generation War has come to a theater near you. A variety of Fourth Generation “causes” have intersected with what I call a “supply-side war.” We have millions of kids who have been cooped up for two or three months. They have no work or school. They want an excuse to go out and fight, because that is what bored young people like to do. Especially young men; young women will demonstrate but when fighting starts they usually disappear. 

These youths need a cause to plead in answer to adults’ demand for “social distancing.” It doesn’t matter what the cause is; saving the pangolins could work as well as “Black Lives Matter.” Supply-side war provides the raw material in youthful fighters, while Fourth Generation War gives them something to fight for, a new primary loyalty to replace duty to country. And the state proves itself impotent against its own progeny. We have seen this same supply-side war dynamic in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, and most of West Africa. Now we are seeing it in Chicago and Portland.

Conservatives know that the fall of the state is catastrophic. Life becomes, as our old friend Thomas Hobbes said, nasty, brutish, and short. A friend of mine has used Hobbes’ name as a pseudonym to pen a novel about this situation erupting in America, entitled Victoria: A Novel of Fourth Generation War (2014).

Security forces may put down individual disorders (and they should), but the only way to defeat Fourth Generation War is to restore the legitimacy of the state, to the point where it again becomes the primary loyalty of most of its citizens. What is the prospect for that in the United States of America in the year 2020? As President Trump would say, “Not good.”

We face a bifurcated culture. The elite that controls the state has for decades waged war on the common culture in the name of the ideology of cultural Marxism, also known as “wokeness.” While many Americans who cling to our historic Western, Christian culture also remain loyal to the state, their position is unsustainable because the Deep State is dominated by cultural Marxists.

Conservatives’ loyalty to America is to an America that has largely disappeared among elites. At some point, they too will transfer their primary loyalty to something other than the America we know now. Probably they will transfer it to many things, not just one, adding to the disintegrative forces working on the state.

Restoring the legitimacy of the state requires a federal government that actually cares about America “beyond the beltway,” and neither political party offers that. Washington has become a classic royal court toward the end of a dynasty. Court politics is everything; the rest of the country is only a stupid cow to be milked and beaten.

Some years ago, when I lived in D.C., I enjoyed a lunch with the third secretary of the Russian Embassy. We agreed that the United States had become a one-party state, which is something Russians know something about. The one party is the Establishment Party, and no matter which of its wings win, the Democrats or the Republicans, nothing important changes. The same people get the same old jobs, the money keeps flowing into bottomless sinkholes (welfare spending for Democrats, military spending for Republicans), everyone in town prospers and the rest of the country becomes poorer.

The 2016 presidential election broke from this script. Donald Trump, who was not a member of the one party and who dared defy cultural Marxism (any member of the Establishment who does that instantly becomes an “un-person”), grabbed the brass ring. That is the one party’s ultimate nightmare, that someone breaks their lock on policy, power, and money. The Establishment’s bitter, rabid hatred for President Trump springs from that fact and that fact alone. What he says or does is immaterial. Were he St. Francis of Assisi returned to mortal life, their vitriol toward him would be no less.

Regrettably, even if Trump wins re-election, he will be able to do little to restore the state’s legitimacy—a legitimacy he represents to many who voted for him, who in turn are further alienated from the state by the Establishment’s hatred of their champion. The one party owns the Deep State, which has served them well by sabotaging almost everything the president has tried to do. What he has attempted has often been right and good, but the list of his accomplishments is short.

The Deep State’s lock on effective action by the state makes the quest to restore its legitimacy nigh on hopeless. Only a state that works for all Americans, that effectively provides order, competent services, and gradually increasing prosperity for all, not just more riches for the royal court, can be legitimate. The one thing Americans, right and left, can probably agree on is that the chances of that occurring are slim to none.

So, is the future of the American state hopeless? Probably. I can see three possible outcomes to the crisis of legitimacy of the American state.

The first is that the dynasty falls and a competent new establishment class replaces it, one that can make the federal government work for everyone and that ceases to wage ideological war on its own people. In theory, this is possible, but I see no signs of it happening, nor any forces on the horizon that are capable of doing it. The system is so loaded against third parties that this route is effectively blocked. The Democrats are hopelessly in thrall to cultural Marxism because their base either believes in it, profits from it, or both. President Trump has shown himself incapable of remaking the Republican Party in his anti-Establishment, politically incorrect image. Could his successor do it, perhaps someone such as Tucker Carlson? Hope springs eternal, but hope is also a fool.

A second possibility is that both left and right could see the horrors that widespread Fourth Generation War on American soil would bring, step back, and work together to avoid it. There is a way to do that, by returning to American federalism as it was practiced before 1860.

When the Constitution was drafted and ratified, none of the men involved ever imagined that life in, say, Massachusetts and South Carolina would become the same. Still less did they conceive that the Constitution gave the federal government authority to make them the same. Were we to return to their understanding of federalism, we could maintain the union while accommodating cultural differences. Some states would be right, others left. If you found yourself being governed by people you despised, you would not need to fight. You could simply move. We would still be one country for foreign policy, defense, macroeconomics, and infrastructure. But leftists would be free to misrule the West Coast to their hearts’ content, while conservatives enjoyed the neighborliness and good food of the Old South.

The third and most likely possibility is that the country breaks apart in widespread Fourth Generation War. Welcome to Libya, Syria, and a growing portion of the world.

If the third possibility becomes reality and America as we know it disappears from the world’s landscape, its vanishing will be part of something larger: the end of the modern age that gave birth to the state.

As the late Jeffrey Hart wrote, the modern age began when Western men discarded metaphysics and said, in effect, “We are no longer interested in questions of ultimate meaning; from now on, we care only about the physical world.” From that time onward, a focus on the practical defined modernity. Out of it came ships that could cross oceans and navigation to guide them; steam power, then electricity, medicine that allowed Western men to live anywhere in the world; and, by the beginning of the 20th century, world domination by the Christian West.

We threw away that domination in three great Western civil wars: World War I, World War II, and the Cold War. Now, the West is just one contending culture among many, the state to which the West gave birth is failing everywhere, and the questions of ultimate meaning that modernity discarded are returning to haunt its senescence.

Can the times be redeemed? Probably not, but as men of the West, we must try.

Politics & Religion / Re: California
« on: October 25, 2020, 01:25:35 AM »
California Utility May Cut Power to 1 Million People
By The Associated Press
October 24, 2020 Updated: October 24, 2020

SAN FRANCISCO—Pacific Gas & Electric may cut power to over 1 million people on Sunday to prevent the chance of sparking wildfires, the utility announced Friday.

The nation’s largest utility said it could black out customers in 38 counties—including most of the San Francisco Bay Area—as weather forecasts called for a return of bone-dry, gusty weather that carries the threat of downing or fouling power lines or other equipment that in recent years have been blamed for igniting massive and deadly blazes in central and Northern California.

The safety shutoffs were expected to begin as early as Sunday morning and last into Tuesday, affecting 466,000 homes and businesses, or more than 1 million residents assuming between two and three people per home or business customer.

Cuts are predicted to encompass parts of the Sacramento Valley, the northern and central Sierra Nevada, upper elevations of the San Francisco Bay Area, the Santa Cruz Mountains, the Central Coast and portions of southern Kern County.

The projected shutoffs included 19,000 customers in parts of Butte County, where a 2018 blaze ignited by PG&E equipment destroyed much of the town of Paradise and killed 85 people.

Forecasts call for the “the driest humidity levels and the strongest winds of the wildfire season thus far,” a PG&E statement said.
Glass Fire burns a hillside
The Glass Fire burns a hillside above Silverado Trail in St. Helena, Calif., on Sept. 27, 2020. (Noah Berger/AP Photo)

The National Weather Service issued red flag warnings for many areas, predicting winds of 35 mph or higher in San Francisco and lower elevations and up to 70 mph in some mountains. The concern is that any spark could be blown into flames sweeping through tinder-dry brush and forestland.

“On a scale of 1 to 10, this event is a 9,” Craig Clements, director of San Jose State University’s Fire Weather Lab, told the Bay Area News Group. “Historically our biggest fires are in October. We are in a critical period.”

The National Weather Service said the conditions could equal those during devastating fires in California’s wind country in 2017 and last year’s Kincade Fire.

Fire officials said PG&E transmission lines sparked that Sonoma County fire last October, which destroyed hundreds of homes and caused nearly 100,000 people to flee.
Epoch Times Photo
A Pacific Gas & Electric sign is displayed on the exterior of a PG&E building in San Francisco, Calif., on April 16, 2020. (Jeff Chiu/AP Photo)

The public safety power shutoff, or PSPS, would be the fifth this year, including one that began Wednesday and was scheduled to end late Friday.

Southern California, meanwhile, is continuing to cool down with patchy drizzle. Forecasters said light rain was expected Saturday night through early Monday, with light mountain snow possible Sunday night, followed by Santa Ana winds.

Eight of the 10 deadliest fires in California history have occurred in October or November. Some of the largest also have occurred since August of this year.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, known as Cal Fire, said 5,500 firefighters were working Friday to fully contain 19 wildfires. Two-dozen new fires were contained Thursday despite red flag conditions.

More 8,600 wildfires have scorched well over 6,400 square miles and destroyed about 9,200 buildings in California this year. There have been 31 deaths.

All of the huge fires have been fully or significantly contained, but more than 6,000 firefighters remain committed to 19 blazes, including a dozen major incidents, Cal Fire said.

Many of this year’s devastating fires were started by thousands of dry lightning strikes. But some of the fires remain under investigation for potential electrical causes.

Epoch Times staff contributed to this report.

In September 2015, the Obama-Biden administration approved the sale of a strategically sensitive Michigan manufacturer, Henniges Automotive, to a firm connected to Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, and a Chinese military contractor that was on an American watch list because of its close ties to the People’s Liberation Army. Hunter Biden’s equity fund, backed by the Communist Chinese government, and the Chinese contractor, Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC), needed special approval for the deal from the Committee of Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CIFIUS) because Henniges produced technology with potential military use.

AVIC entities have been sanctioned by the United States on five separate occasions since 1993 and the addition to the watch list–a major red flag—occurred less than a year-and-a-half before they co-purchased Henniges with the Biden-led Chinese joint venture known as Bohai Harvest RST (BHR). The fact that CFIUS approved the deal is alarming given that Henniges owns numerous facilities in the United States that are now controlled by a Chinese military front company.

Internal BHR documents show exactly how the Chinese military contractor was able to disguise its ownership via shell corporations and formed a joint-venture with the son of the vice president to facilitate the Chinese takeover of an American dual-use technology supplier. Additional documents suggest that Hunter Biden’s Chinese-backed venture funneled money to an entity controlled by Vanessa Kerry, the daughter of then-Secretary of State John Kerry, just one month before CFIUS approved the takeover. At the time, Secretary Kerry played a lead role on the Obama-Biden CFIUS committee.

October 22, 2020

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Social Media Is Old-Fashioned and Radically Destabilizing
Thoughts in and around geopolitics.
By: George Friedman

The New York Times has reported that the Justice Department is about to bring an antitrust suit against Google specifically targeting Google’s power in online advertising. There are two things to note before the courts issue their ruling. The first is that though Google, Facebook and Twitter all pride themselves on overturning the past – and from a technological point of view they do – their core business model is quite old. Like newspapers and television, they provide readers with free access to content, and in return they are able to advertise to them. By giving readers free content, they can analyze our habits and interests and sell the data to advertisers. Newspapers, radio and television did the same thing.

Second and more important, Google, Facebook and Twitter don’t really create their own content. Newspaper articles, radio programs and TV shows were produced for the readers. Publishers and networks were responsible for what they provided the public, and they had a substantial cost structure that had to generate revenue in a complex, symbiotic relationship. Google, Facebook and Twitter deferred the cost but claimed the responsibility for their content.

Google created a search engine that mapped out the internet, allowing readers to find content they were interested in. Facebook and Twitter simply allowed readers to use their platforms to state their views and read the views of others, and in doing so became the subject of advertising. The key for all three was that at the outset they claimed they were not responsible for their content.

The problem of monopoly in advertising is less critical than the means by which these companies attracted members. The cost for access to their service was zero. Twitter and Facebook were the most radical in this regard. Anyone could create an account without verification of identity. They argued that this was the technological revolution that perfected the first amendment’s right to free speech. Their motive had less to do with the Bill of Rights and more to do with encouraging as many people as possible to express their views, track what they said, and sell access to advertisers based on what they said.

The Bill of Rights does guarantee free speech, but it did not anticipate the notion of total anonymity. Free speech assumes that the speaker is known, that what is said depends on who the speaker is and what the speaker has said in the past – that is, the character of the speaker. All that is impossible through these new media. One person can pretend to be 20 people by opening multiple accounts, and each can have their real identities hidden or claim someone else’s identity. The founders did not expect speech to be divorced from responsibility. Social media specializes in it.

Social media, like TV or newspapers, flourishes on readership. Social media allows its readers to provide the content that attracts readers for free. There is no cost for stating your views, no means to compel the speaker to identify himself and no consequence for slander, lying or mounting campaigns with malicious intent. From their point of view, absent political pressure, the more people that come, the higher the advertising revenue, and the more accounts opened, the greater the claim for membership. The intellectual and moral mayhem that results generates more activity, and that activity is what drives advertising sales.

The key moment in all this was when social media decided to follow a business model from the 1960s. TV was no cost to the viewer, and money was made by the ads that were sold. But with TV, the viewer did not control the content, and we were aware of who produced it. In the social media model, the reader is also the writer, and the cost of entry is zero.

Had a more modern approach been taken, everyone wanting an account would have to pay a fee, however modest, and provide a credit card. To some extent, it could be known who said what, and potential consequences would follow for slander or lies, if not legal then social. But social media’s strategy was so deeply rooted in old media that charging users was verboten. It would cut down on the audience being sold to advertisers.

To me, the fundamental problem of social media is anonymity. It is a place where anyone can say anything and walk away. It was an efficient plan that now meets antitrust laws. But that is not the core issue. The fact that there is both total anonymity and no cost encourages bad-faith actors to use that media and leaves the reader with no way to measure the credibility of the statement or the speaker. It creates equality between dissent and insanity. And there is no one we can shame for what is said unless a speaker volunteers his or her identity. And that segment who wishes to believe what is said can drive the discourse of others in uncontrolled rage.

An antitrust suit is based on the success of a business. The question here is liability, of creating a business that deliberately facilitates the right to speak without being responsible for what you said. Google uses its search engine, and the others use the platform for anonymous claims. The problem is not that they were successful but how they were successful: by selling access to others without being in any way responsible for what they say. That may be changing now, but the real answer is to charge users via a credit card. But that would hurt business.

Politics & Religion / Re: 2020 Presidential election
« on: October 23, 2020, 08:17:56 PM »
OTOH the PA Supreme Court ruled that Board of Elections may not  disqualify mail in ballots when signatures do not match.

Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
« on: October 23, 2020, 07:32:38 PM »

What is that about?

Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant/Self Intro
« on: October 23, 2020, 06:03:45 PM »
The Dennys are now North Carolinians!

At the moment my participation here is frustrated by a poor connection and a crappy, clogged up laptop, but I am back!

I've been watching extended clips of her inquisition.  Gotta say, I'm impressed.

Politics & Religion / Mother Jones sees Russian Mis-Intel
« on: October 14, 2020, 10:50:08 PM »

Not without plausibility.  Rudy has been pushing variations of this meme for months now (w assist by Chanel Rios of OAN).  I would think if there were solid substance there we would have seen more before now.  Now, with just three weeks to go running this down will be hard to do-- which may be the point?

Politics & Religion / GPF: New Base in Syria
« on: October 14, 2020, 10:46:12 PM »
Brief: A New U.S. Base in Syria
The drawdown from the Middle East was never going to happen overnight.
By: Geopolitical Futures

Editor’s Note: The following is a new content type we are calling Briefs. They are real-time updates on the world’s most pressing geopolitical events, broken down into a reader-friendly format. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

Background: The United States is trying to reduce its military footprint in the Middle East so that it can focus on what it sees as greater national security threats elsewhere, namely the Indo-Pacific. It was always going to be a gradual process; Washington simply has too many security, energy and political interests there to abandon the region overnight.

What’s Happened: A recent spate of attacks conducted by militias backed by the Syrian and Iranian governments in Deir el-Zour, the oil-rich province in northeastern Syria, has prompted Washington to beef up its military presence there. Reports from local media suggest the U.S. Army has already begun construction of a base in the area, setting up a helipad for delivery of supplies and recruiting fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces for security. Once completed, the base will be situated near several Syrian facilities along the western bank of the Euphrates River.

Bottom Line: The base’s proximity to the Syrian-Iraqi border is a clear indication that there is a renewed interest in Washington to counter the Syrian government – and, by extension, the Iranian and Russian governments that support it. Its construction doesn’t mean the U.S. is defying expectations that it will reduce its footprint in the Middle East. Leaving the region entirely was never the point, and from the U.S. perspective, it can’t afford to let such a strategically important and resource-rich swath of land to fall into the hands of foreign militias or, worse, the remnants of the Islamic State.

Politics & Religion / GPF: Russia's low key problem in Kyrgyzstan
« on: October 14, 2020, 03:23:48 AM »
Russia’s Low-Key Problem in Kyrgyzstan
Instability in this overlooked nation could upset the balance of power in Central Asia.
By: Ekaterina Zolotova

On Oct. 4, Kyrgyzstan held parliamentary elections that, true to form, ended in political unrest. Rallies broke out the next day, leaving more than 1,200 injured in the ensuing clashes. Protesters seized the parliament building. They released former President Almazbek Atambayev from prison and have called for the removal from office of current President Sooronbai Jeenbekov.

If this sounds familiar, it should. Over the past 30 years, Kyrgyzstan has had few legitimate transfers of power. The country's first president, Askar Akayev, was ousted in 2005 following similar protests. He was replaced by Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who was ousted during a coup in 2010. The interim president, Roza Otunbayeva, held office for just one year before transferring power to the elected president, Atambayev, who passed the post of the president in 2017 to Jeenbekov.

It also bears a likeness to some other areas in Russia’s all-important periphery – namely, Belarus and Nagorno-Karabakh. And though Kyrgyzstan’s is still an exclusively internal affair, the timing raises questions with regard to Bishkek’s relationship with Moscow.

To be clear, that relationship has been largely cooperative. Russia has always wanted to at least preserve its influence in Kyrgyzstan, which, despite its size and lack of wealth, occupies an area that gives Russia strategic depth. Hence why Russia remains one of the key partners in the economy and maintains an important military base in the country. Bishkek has, of course, benefited from Russian largesse, so it has had little reason to abandon Moscow for China (which is interested in its mining operations), the United States or the European Union.

Even so, the Kremlin has expressed concern over what it has called the “mess and chaos” in the country. But it won’t be easy to fix. The mess and chaos are rooted in historical divisions between the north and the south, which are practically completely isolated from each other by mountainous terrain. (This has also left the country relatively weak and vulnerable.) There are no modern highways between the capital and the main regional urban centers; the roads run mainly along the periphery of the country or make up its borders. The south and north of the country are connected by only one transport road from Osh to Bishkek. This terrain makes it very difficult to create a single economic space and accelerate the country's development without significant investments and modern technologies, which Kyrgyzstan doesn’t have.
(click to enlarge)

There are also notable economic disparities between the north and south. The north borders Kazakhstan and so has received more active development of industrialization and infrastructure than the south, which borders the far poorer and lesser developed areas of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and China. It’s a vestige of World War II, when factories and scientific facilities and their attendant workers were relocated from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus to northern Kyrgyzstan. The south remained traditionally agrarian, with comparatively weak social infrastructure and insufficient education, medicine, transportation and engineering but with large labor pools.
(click to enlarge)
(click to enlarge)

On top of these divisions is a society dominated by clans. Kyrgyz citizens transpose a long-standing tradition of tribal affiliation to higher levels of government through the appointment (of family or clan member) to key positions of state. Clans' influence can extend to the prosecutor's office, law enforcement agencies, the Security Council, the media, the banking sector and so on, with each trying to get as much of the pie as it can.

The competition among clans grew more intense after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when an unprecedented surge of nationalism combined with an economic crisis and a transformation of power. Kyrgyzstan’s clans are far too complicated to outline here, but suffice it to say that very broadly speaking, northern clans are considered more progressive, while the southern clans are more conservative, more Islamized and more sympathetic toward separatism. Northern clans are also generally more “Russian” than their southern counterparts, which maintain Uzbek cultural influences. (The current unrest can be seen at least partially in this light. President Jeenbekov is a southerner, while former President Atambayev is a northerner.) These divisions are so stark that when the Soviet Union’s satellites gained independence, there was a real chance what we now call Kyrgyzstan would be broken into two states.

Much to Russia’s chagrin, Kyrgyzstan’s divisions are a cause and a consequence of regional competition. To the north, Kazakhstan is keenly interested in protecting the rights of Kazakhs with property, especially economic infrastructure interests, in Kyrgyzstan. In recent years, Kazakh companies have invested more than $1 billion in the Kyrgyz economy, and several Kazakh businessmen hold large stakes in everything from mining to telecommunications. Uzbekistan, meanwhile, naturally is interested in protecting the rights of ethnic Uzbeks and in ensuring the security of the Fergana Valley. Increased immigration from Uzbekistan has resulted in roughly 14 percent of the Kyrgyz population being ethnically Uzbek. The environment is primed to become a power struggle between Kyrgyzstan’s more powerful neighbors.

Russia would prefer to have a friendly, stable and pro-Russia government in Bishkek rather than have to balance between countries. But just as important, Moscow is worried that other countries – namely, China – could exploit the situation to their benefit. China has already become one of the country's key trading partners; almost 40 percent of all direct investments in Kyrgyzstan come from China. The trade turnover between the countries has almost doubled over the past five years.

Cooperation goes far beyond trade. Various Kyrgyz officials took out loans in China for infrastructure development, mostly for the construction of roads and the repair of a combined heat and power plant. Yet, many Kyrgyz citizens are unhappy with the way Chinese business is being conducted and its consequences for the environment. Anti-China protests pop up every so often, including last year, when an incident between local residents and foreign workers at the Zhong Ji Mining Solton-Sary gold mine left about 50 people injured. (Bishkek suspended the company’s operations.) Kyrgyzstan is also heavily indebted to China, leading Beijing to include it in the list of "financially vulnerable" states. This means that there is a possibility that the largest creditor, China, will dictate the terms, but the Kyrgyz government does not have a clear plan to pay off its debts. Many in Kyrgyzstan therefore worry that the state will have to pay with land, as happened in 1999.

But that’s not even the most immediate of Kyrgyzstan’s economic issues. The country was hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with its economy contracting more than any other member of the Eurasian Economic Union. This is a problem for Kyrgyzstan, of course, but since the instability – or potential partition – could upset the balance of power in Central Asia, it’s a problem for Russia too. Russia won’t get involved so long as the clans in Bishkek remain allies with Moscow.

Politics & Religion / Re: The Great American Reopening , , , inflation?
« on: October 14, 2020, 01:47:36 AM »
The Consumer Price Index Rose 0.2% in September To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury, Chief Economist
Robert Stein, Deputy Chief Economist
Date: 10/13/2020

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 0.2% in September, matching consensus expectations. The CPI is up 1.4% from a year ago.

Energy prices rose 0.8% in September, while food prices were unchanged. The "core" CPI, which excludes food and energy, rose 0.2% in September, also matching consensus expectations. Core prices are up 1.7% versus a year ago.

Real average hourly earnings – the cash earnings of all workers, adjusted for inflation – declined 0.1% in September but are up 3.3% in the past year. Real average weekly earnings are up 4.1% in the past year.

Implications: Inflation was on the rise in the third quarter, as the consumer price index rose at one of the fastest 3-month paces since before the last recession. Over the past three months, consumer prices are up at a 4.7% annualized rate, well above the Federal Reserve's inflation target of around 2%. However, don't expect this to change the Fed's plan to keep short-term rates near zero for the foreseeable future. Given the drop in prices earlier this year during the worst of the pandemic and related shutdowns, consumer prices are up a tepid 1.4% versus a year ago. Still, the recent burst of inflation hints at the impact the massive 23.6% increase in the M2 money supply can have as supply chains continue to recover. The typically volatile energy category rose 0.8% in September, led higher by a 4.2% increase in natural gas prices, while food prices were unchanged on the month. Strip out the impacts from the food and energy sectors, and "core" prices increased 0.2% in September. Coming off historically large increases in July and August, "core" inflation has been rising at the fastest pace since the early 1990s, although this follows declines in March through May and core prices are up a pedestrian 1.7% in the past year. One of the biggest drivers of "core" prices in September was used cars and trucks, where prices rose 6.7%, as dealers had lower inventory levels due to fewer trade-ins during the pandemic while they also experienced a surge in buyer demand. Some other contributors in July were hospital services (0.6%), new vehicles (0.3%), and housing (0.2%). We expect inflation will continue to rise in the months ahead toward the 2% - 3% annual pace of inflation that was in effect before the Coronavirus wreaked havoc on global economies. However, underlying fundamentals point to a higher risk of rising inflation than after the 2008 recession. The Coronavirus pandemic is the first recession on record where personal income has increased, due to government stimulus checks and boosted unemployment insurance payments that replaced greater than 100% of wages for many workers. Meanwhile, measures like industrial production and the unemployment rate demonstrate that the actual production of goods and services remains depressed relative to pre-pandemic levels. That mismatch between supply and demand will eventually mean too many dollars chasing too few goods, especially if further stimulus measures continue to lean on the same policies. That said, it's clear that the economic recovery is under way, the worst economic quarter in the post-World War II era is behind us, and the question now shifts to how quickly we recover.

Politics & Religion / GUILTY!!!
« on: October 13, 2020, 07:11:19 PM »

The article ends with:

“These documents are jaw-dropping. No wonder we had to file more FOIA lawsuits and wait over two years for them. If the American people had known the truth – that Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and other top administration officials knew that the Benghazi attack was an al-Qaeda terrorist attack from the get-go – and yet lied and covered this fact up – Mitt Romney might very well be president. And why would the Obama administration continue to support the Muslim Brotherhood even after it knew it was tied to the Benghazi terrorist attack and to al Qaeda? These documents also point to connection between the collapse in Libya and the ISIS war – and confirm that the U.S. knew remarkable details about the transfer of arms from Benghazi to Syrian jihadists,” stated Tom Fitton, Judicial Watch president. “These documents show that the Benghazi cover-up has continued for years and is only unraveling through our independent lawsuits. The Benghazi scandal just got a whole lot worse for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.”

Politics & Religion / VDH: America in the balance
« on: October 13, 2020, 07:02:34 PM »
Another great piece from VDH that nicely summarizes quite a bit-- America hangs in the balance people!!!

Government crimes and coverups, a corrupt media, a candidate hiding and lying to the public, and plans to undo the foundations of the republic

Piece by piece, our civilization is beginning to disassemble. And the agents of fragmentation are as obvious as the efforts to conceal them are frantic.

St. Hillary the Colluder

In nonchalant fashion, we learned last week from newly released government documents that Hillary Clinton’s campaign team cooked up the Trump-Russia collusion hoax as a way of diverting attention from her own ongoing embarrassing email scandals.
Clinton, through three firewalls, paid foreign ex-spy Christopher Steele to create a bogus smear-Trump dossier. Steele, who had no data on, or information about any such collusion, apparently drew largely on fabrications dreamed up by a former Russian spy working at the liberal Brookings Institution. The convoluted conspiracy baffled even the sneaky Russians, who were confused when they got wind of it — possibly through the direct participation of one of their own assets.

Did we then spend millions of dollars on Robert Mueller’s nearly two-year investigation, a wild goose chase consuming millions of collective media hours hyping fantasies, and paralyzing an administration for three years — all for Hillary Clinton’s machinations, the apparent true and only Russian colluder?

John Brennan’s CIA intercepted Russian concerns over such a ruse. He even briefed President Obama on the Clinton caper. Yet the U.S. investigatory and judicial branches did not stop Clinton’s efforts to subvert a rival’s campaign. Indeed, many of the highest officials of the Obama administration shortly joined her efforts to seed the fraudulent Steele dossier throughout the Obama government and thus into the media as well — their efforts peaking in timely fashion right before the November 2016 election.

Translate all that, and the evidence grows that Hillary Clinton, in felonious fashion, paid for the Steele dossier to subvert an election and, after the election, to destroy a presidential transition and indeed a presidency itself — government efforts that historians one day will assess as the most intense effort on record to destroy a U.S. president.

These crimes were committed with the apparent cooperation of at least some in the Obama DOJ, FBI, and CIA, along with their epigones who were deeply embedded in the administrative state when Trump won the election. The tactics of such a strategy included altering federal documents, lying to a FISA court, leaking classified information, illegally surveilling American citizens, conspiring to frame top administration officials such as General Michael Flynn, unmasking names in confidential intercepts and leaking them to the media — and lying under oath about the above and more.

Hillary’s efforts constitute the most egregious scandal in American election history. And yet, shameless to the end, she continues to foam about “Trump collusion,” in the manner of a beached whale, gasping for air and twitching about on the sand.


In nonchalant fashion, we also just learned that CrowdStrike — a company in which the Pelosis made an initial $1 million investment and that is now run by billionaire Shawn Henry, a former high official of Robert Mueller’s FBI — was given the sole proprietorship of the hacked DNC computers. Has the FBI ever allowed the victims of a felonious federal crime to conduct their own forensic investigations? The FBI outsourced the analysis even though the computer hard drives were the key evidence at the crime scene of a supposed conspiracy, allegedly cooked up by the Russians.

The scandal was not just that the FBI did not object to a private company taking over its own responsibility for the investigation. Worse still, for two years Washington insiders have known that CrowdStrike’s president had testified before Congress that he had no evidence that any Russians had hacked the DNC computers.

His secret testimony — apparently also known to Mueller’s investigators — came at a time when the nation was convulsed by the media-driven Russian hoax, much of the frenzy generated by MSNBC, where Henry himself had been an occasional “security” analyst.

We may never know how, why, or by whom the computers were hacked, only that the DNC and the Clinton campaign most certainly did not want any government agency investigating those mysteries.

If Biden wins in 2021, as surely as the sun rises, all the current investigations into the illegal weaponization of the DOJ, the FBI, and the CIA will abruptly cease within days.


In nonchalant fashion, we also belatedly learned that the moderator of the vice-presidential debate, Susan Page, a USA Today Washington News Bureau Chief, is currently writing a biography of arch-Trump antagonist Nancy Pelosi. (Would the Biden campaign have objected if a debate moderator was now writing a likely favorable biography of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell?)

At about the same time, it was belatedly disclosed that the designated moderator of the now cancelled second presidential debate, Steven Scully, once worked as an intern for debate participant Joe Biden. (Would the Biden campaign have objected had the moderator once interned for the Trump organization?)

The Strangest Campaign in History?

Apparently, Scully also had mistakenly sent a message over the public Twitter airways — rather than through intended private direct messaging — seeking the advice of now prominent Trump hater and fired former Trump press secretary Anthony Scaramucci. Scully asked the “Mooch” whether to respond to Trump’s charges that he was biased — though Scaramucci is the most publicly biased of all self-described media experts. (Would the Biden campaign have objected if it learned that the debate moderator had been communicating with Kellyanne Conway for advice on how to reply to criticism from Biden?)
Is America so short of informed beltway creatures that it cannot find, if only for the purpose of appearances, a single moderator who has not either interned for Joe Biden or Donald Trump, or who is not currently writing a bio of a Trump-hating or Biden-hating public figure?

Worse still, Scully deleted his tweet, froze his account from public access, and claimed that his computer was “hacked.” “Hacked” is now the operative defense when caught in embarrassing electronic communications. To avoid responsibility for their own embarrassing actions, Joy Reid, Anderson Cooper, and Anthony Wiener also claimed, probably falsely, that their phone or social-media accounts had been hacked.

Had the debate taken place, one wonders whether Scully, much like Fox’s Chris Wallace and USA Today’s Susan Page, would have zeroed in on Trump, in similar gottcha, moralistic fashion to explain why we should not presume him to be untruthful or racist.

The morning after we saw the recent, live vice-presidential debate carried out successfully with proper social distancing and testing precautions, the Commission on Presidential Debates abruptly insisted that the second presidential debate, to be moderated by Scully, would be virtual for the first time in American history.

The commission — an ostensibly bipartisan group that nonetheless consists exclusively of Democrats and Never Trumpers —  knows that Trump thrives on “reality” television while Biden has crafted a unique campaign based almost entirely on remote communications through Skype and Zoom, often with the assistance of poorly concealed teleprompters and scripted talking points. Moreover, when a candidate leads, as the mainstream polling suggests Biden now does, debates are considered unnecessary hazards, even as underdogs see them as critical chances to reboot campaign momentum.

The commission’s decision came even though the president’s doctors reported that by October 15, Trump would be medically fit to participate and virtually immune for months from reinfection. In addition, as with most asymptomatic and recovered patients with viral antibodies, Trump would be unable to pass on the virus for months, if ever.

In other words, Biden — and anyone else present — would have had far less chance of being infected by Trump in the now cancelled second debate than during the first debate.

Issues Are Bad

In nonchalant fashion, Joe Biden just announced that he will rule neither in nor out the Democratic plan to “pack” the Supreme Court to either 13 or 15 justices, should he win and the Senate flip Democratic.

As Biden put it to his questioner:

I know it’s a great question, and you all, I don’t blame you for asking, but you know the moment I answer that question, that headline in every one of your papers will be about that, other than, other than focusing on what’s happening now.

Biden was only clarifying what he had said earlier in the first debate when he stonewalled with, “Whatever position I take on that, that’ll become the issue.”

That incoherence was a further clarification of an earlier admission that the inquiry was “a legitimate question” but one that Biden was “not going to answer.”

And most recently Biden quadrupled down and insisted that voters do not “deserve” an honest answer on whether their Supreme Court will be packed — as he reverted to his bizarre earlier campaign mode of “lying, dog-faced pony soldier,” “You’re a damn liar, man” and “Look, fat, look. Here’s the deal.”

If we follow all the contorted Biden logic, he seems to now believe that the public has a reasonable interest in what he would do about enlarging the Court to nullify Trump’s conservative picks — but that the public nonetheless doesn’t deserve to know.
And Biden will not meet that “legitimate” but undeserved public interest, because, by answering, his very response would become the “issue.” That is, Biden would take a position on an issue, and therefore either delight or offend many voters. And he must avoid that at all costs.

Biden’s answer may be the most surreal response of any presidential candidate in memory.

But it is emblematic of his entire stealth campaign, in collusion with a cheerleading media — a virtual candidate who has no answers to questions that are now rarely asked.

Any reporter, debate moderator, or journalist who asked a question that Biden could not answer or that would in any way embarrass Biden would now earn lifetime ostracism and career beltway ruin for aiding and abetting the Prince of Darkness and the enemies of progressivism.

The current Democratic Party, hostage to the hard-core Left, has asserted that in victory it may seek to pack the Supreme Court and thereby end a 150-year law governing that nine-member body. It has also said it might end the 170-year-old Senate filibuster, on cue from Barack Obama, who as a senator nonetheless found the filibuster useful when he was in the minority. It claims it might do away with the 233-year-old Electoral College, a foundation of the U.S. Constitution that sought to ensure a republic rather than a democracy ruled by the 51 percent and urban centers.

Biden will no longer repeat his earlier no-fracking pandering, but his party (“I am the Democratic Party right now”) has often said it will end fracking. Fracking, remember, has helped to lower world oil prices, to the detriment of Russia and the Middle East. Fracking has helped to keep American troops out of Middle East interventions (remember the now calcified slogan “no blood for oil”?), aided middle-class commuters, created millions of well-paying jobs, and made electricity cheaper, and the air far cleaner.

On all these questions, Biden will offer no answers to voters who do not “deserve” to know. Yet he could very well seek to change the core rules by which America is governed — as part of a larger project to ensure systemic progressive dominance.
He has no answers because to answer honestly would either reveal himself to be a leftist pawn now and thus an anathema to the suburban swing voter; or, contrarily, he’d be exposed as an oath-breaker in the eyes of the AOC–Bernie Sanders socialist near majority of his own party.

So in Orwellian fashion, “issues” can no longer be issues, even if they could alter the United States in a way not seen since its founding.

Sleepwalking to the Revolution

To paraphrase Sophocles, 2020 saw many strange things and nothing stranger than peak Trump derangement syndrome, COVID-19, a self-induced recession, our first national quarantine, and riots, looting, and arson, all mostly unpunished and uncontrolled, in our major cities.

So we are in revolutionary times, even as we snooze about a recent systematic effort, hidden with great effort by our own government, to destroy a prior presidential campaign and transition, and now a presidency.

We are asked to vote for a candidate who will not reveal his position on any major issue of our age, because he feels to do so would enlighten the undeserving electorate and thereby cost him the election. So we continue to sleepwalk toward a revolution whose architects warped our institutions in 2016–2020, and they now plan to alter many of them beyond recognition in 2021.

Translated, that means that they don’t regret what they did in 2016–2019, only that they belatedly got caught for a brief time.
And so by changing the rules after 2020, they are vowing never ever to get caught again.

Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
« on: October 13, 2020, 05:14:18 PM »

Tucker says there is NO litigation on the subject in the court system at present.

Politics & Religion / Re: 2020 Presidential election
« on: October 13, 2020, 05:55:47 AM »

I needed that!

October 13, 2020   View On Website
Open as PDF

    In Search of a Solution to Russia’s Strategic Problem
By: George Friedman

Russian President Vladimir Putin described the collapse of the Soviet Union as the greatest geopolitical catastrophe in history. Though it may not be true of all of history, it is certainly true of modern Russian history, because it cost Russia what it needs most: strategic depth. Until 1989, Russia’s western border was effectively in central Germany. The Caucasus shielded Russia from the south. Central Asia was a vast buffer against South Asia and potentially China. The Russian heartland, in other words, was secure from every direction.

The fall of the Soviet Union pulled its western border back behind the Baltics, Ukraine and Belarus. Russia retained the North Caucasus but lost the South Caucasus – Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia. Central Asia broke down into independent states. This contraction of Russia represented not only a diminution of size but a decreased distance between potential enemies.

Russia inevitably sought to redraw the borders before a serious threat emerged. That no serious threat existed gave Russia some time. But for a country like Russia, insecurity can manifest quickly. Germany went from being a national wreck to an existential threat in less than a decade. The Russians had to increase their strategic depth, but they had to do so without triggering the attack they feared before their depth was increased.

We have seen three events in recent months – one in Belarus, one in the South Caucasus, one in Kyrgyzstan – that together encompass portions of the borderlands Russia lost. To be clear, it is always possible to see three disconnected events connected by logic, and to assume that this logic has anything to do with Russia’s strategic problem. Coincidences abound in history and these three events do not even constitute a perfect coincidence. Even so, where coincidences are accidents that appear to be deliberate, it is easy to dismiss deliberately connected events as simple coincidence. The answer to this is to simply note that a coincidence has occurred, and that regardless of intent by anyone, a coincidence could have the same consequence as an intentional event.

In Belarus, a key buffer on the North European Plain, longtime President Alexander Lukashenko was reelected in what many describe as an illegitimate election in August. Protests against the results have gone on more or less ever since. Russia’s relationship with Lukashenko is complicated – he tries to balance between Russia and the West when he can – but Lukashenko could hardly be described as pro-West. He and Moscow have their differences, but Moscow has always been very influential in Minsk and thus has always had an imperfect solution to its strategic dilemma to the west. If Lukashenko were replaced with someone more antagonistic toward Russia or more sympathetic to the West, it could effectively move NATO, Poland and the
Americans farther east, relegating cities such as Smolensk to border towns.

In Kyrgyzstan, which sits between Russia and China, there is similar political unrest. Here, too, an election has resulted in claims of fraud and large-scale demonstrations. The Russians have some military facilities there, but the most important point is that it provides a buffer between Russia and China. Russia and China are not currently at odds, but they fought each other as recently as the 1960s. Though that was 60 years ago, geopolitics tends to repeat itself, and whatever current interests might guide them, both are old hands at the shifts of history, and neither wants the other to have an advantage. It’s unclear whether the Belarusian playbook will work here, but Moscow has a stake in what happens, and given the likelihood that an arbiter will be needed, involvement would not be surprising.

In the South Caucasus, a war has broken out between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed enclave governed by ethnic Armenians inside Azerbaijan. Broadly speaking, Azerbaijan is backed as before by Turkey, a country with whom Azerbaijan has an ethnic affinity, while Armenia is supported by Russia. But the conflict is much more complicated than that. For one thing, Azerbaijan has important relations with Russia that it cannot afford to sever. For another, Russian intelligence would surely have been aware of war preparations in Azerbaijan and so would have advised them to back off given Moscow’s relations with Armenia. That didn’t happen. Last, Russia has noted that the treaty it has with Armenia does not include Nagorno-Karabakh and that therefore Moscow has no obligation to intervene militarily on Armenia’s side. The Russians are clearly using the war to increase their influence with Azerbaijan, the most powerful and wealthy country in the South Caucasus. (Moscow helped to broker a cease-fire, but it quickly fell apart.) Without Russia, Armenia has few options. Georgia, which was invaded by Russia in 2008, won’t be much help, and the United States, which helped Georgia in said war, will likely choose to abstain.
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By appearing to shift their support from Armenia to Azerbaijan or, more precisely, bringing them both into the Russian orbit, the Russians solve a vital strategic problem. First, it helps to secure the South Caucasus, which, second only to Eastern Europe, is the path most likely taken by potential invaders. Second, by increasing control of the South Caucasus, the North Caucasus are made more secure. Of course, Russia already controls the North Caucasus and maintains a strong line of defense there, but Chechnya and Dagestan are home to militant Islamist movements, which Moscow claims are supported by the U.S. through intermediaries from the South Caucasus. True or not, Moscow isn’t taking any chances.

So we see events in Russia’s western and southern frontiers playing out in such a way that the geopolitical catastrophe Putin spoke of is being rectified. There are no tanks rumbling in either direction, but the politics of the situation appear to be heading that way. Of course, all of this may be coincidence. But it’s interesting to note the process that coincidence or calculation seems to have put in motion. But the Russians aren’t fools, and with Armenia and Azerbaijan aligning with Russia and Turkey excluded from the game, Georgia is isolated, and a repeat of 2008 would undermine the subtlety of the Russian move.   

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