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Monday, February 28, 2022

“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

Silverfiddle Rant!
What we’re doing is encouraging the Ukrainians to play tough with the Russians. We’re encouraging the Ukrainians to think they will ultimately become part of the West... The West is leading Ukraine down the primrose path & the end result is Ukraine is going to get wrecked.”  -- John Mearsheimer in 2016

The West Could Have Prevented The Russo-Ukrainian War, But Chose Not To

"President Biden and our European allies closed every off-ramp for Russia while misleading Ukraine into thinking we would defend it."
-- John Davidson, The Federalist

Russia Directly Threatens Sweden and Finland

As Putin prepares to take Kiev and set up an illegitimate puppet government, his foreign ministry threatened Sweden and Finland (and implicitly, all NATO nations):

Russia threatened “military and political consequences” against Finland and Sweden on Friday if they attempted to join NATO.

Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova warned against other countries attempting to join NATO after Russia started a war with Ukraine Thursday.

“Finland and Sweden should not base their security on damaging the security of other countries and their accession to NATO can have detrimental consequences and face some military and political consequences,” Zakharova said in a viral clip of a press conference. (The Hill)

What Now?

President Biden avers "Putin will be a pariah on the international stage." 

No he won't.  Russia will continue being an influential international player.  And Vlad will fund it all by orienting Russia to the east and becoming China's gas station, removing the last shreds of western leverage over neo-czarist Russia.

Sumantra Maitra wrote an excellent and wide-ranging essay in The National Interest. He repeats the ad nauseum call for European nations to open their wallets and get serious about training serious militaries to seriously take up their own defense.

The era of peace is over. Hard power is in, soft theories are out. Gazillions spent in universities should be rechanneled to research on deterrence and military. If this invasion does not lead to Europeans paying for their own defense and increasing hard power, then the future is going to be dark. America cannot take the security burden of both the Atlantic and Pacific, with a rich continent doing nothing for its own security. 

I agree with the author, but that drum is broken from decades of futile banging.  Anyway, it's too late. Olde Europe is in a demographic death spiral, too turned in on itself and its disorienting cocktail of progressive blue sky dreams and me-first shoulder shrugs to events around them.     

I don't know how much blood and treasure we should be expending on people who won't help themselves, or stated more charitably, who increasingly do not share our values and goals. 


“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
- Mike Tyson's comment on his upcoming fight with Evander Holyfield

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Musical Interlude

(For a recent post about Coronavirus, please see Reading Roundup below)

Back in the day, when I had a good mezzo soprano voice, at the request of the minister, I occasionally sang this piece as a solo in the church where I was the church organist and music director (1972-1975). 

This is a song for every generation of a silent or ignored group of people (performed below by Pentatonix)

From this critical analysis of this song, when it was first released:
...The poem can be interpreted as a bitter satire towards the materialistic tendency of the people in the modern world. People have forgotten the real meaning and value of life....The poem presents a frightening picture of the modern world doomed by the lack of spirituality and true meaning of life. It is the voice of a visionary asking such people to be serious towards the true meaning and goal of life.
Read the entire essay HERE.

Today, in the 21st Century, interpretations of the song may differ: the "words of the prophets" are written elsewhere besides "the subway walls and tenement halls" — or may be actions ("people talking without speaking"), both actions and words ignored or twisted by the media.  

Consider the entirety of the lyrics HERE, and come to your own interpretation of "The Sound of Silence." 

What is your present-day interpretation?  If you care to share it, that is.

Friday, February 25, 2022

Reading Roundup

Silverfiddle Rant!

“At least we know who the sadists are, since they so helpfully identified themselves.”  (Covid Cruelty)

This is the absolute best takedown of "follow the science" I have read. Amazingly, it comes from Slate.
Over the past two years, several commentators have pointed out the fallacy of “following the science.” And yet, the phrase is still deployed, particularly by liberals, as if it’s the ultimate argument ender. The arguments have, of course, kept going, as polarized as ever (here is another problem with pleading that people “follow the science”: We don’t typically become convinced of things by having more facts piled up on us). That “follow the science” is reductive at best and harmful at worst—a kind of insult, meant to shame your opponent—feels worth repeating as we close in on two full years of this pandemic and a future in which we will have to grapple collectively with the virus in one way or another.
Revanchism at its Worst

Zaid Jilani, in an excellent essay in the excellent Tablet Magazine, explains how The Blue Stack Strikes Back:
The welding of media, government bureaucracy, big corporations, and banking together into a partisan weapon to punish dissenters points the way toward an ugly future.

Neil Young in Bed with Global Financial Vampires Blackstone

Please read this.  It is an excellent takedown of global financial predators, and please read on down to the brutal, extremely vulgar but oh so satisfying rant against SESAC.  Being a live performer myself, I can testify to the accuracy of his flaming attack and I share the author's red hot rage at SESAC, ASCAP and BMI.  They are killing local live music and punishing venues that play their music. 

More Links

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Russia, Russia, Russia!

Silverfiddle Rant!
Vlad strikes again

Russia took back Crimea when Obama was president, and also lit the fuse on the separatist movements. Now Vlad has taken another bite out of Ukraine under another Democrat president.  To be fair, Bush the Dumber watched helplessly as Russia grabbed a piece of our new ally Georgia.

What went wrong post-cold war?  Could the US and west have taken a different set of actions that would made our relations with Russia less contentious?

Is anyone else amused at how the left is employing the same Bush-Cheney Iraq War taunts?  Comment threads are full of lefties calling anti-war conservatives anti-American and pro-Russia.  One more example of why arguing partisan politics is a time suck. Handing out torches and bullhorns in a nuthouse would be more productive. 

Russia has made its move - Now What?

$ Germany has stalled firing up Nordstream II.  The original Nordstream--which runs through Ukraine--is still online.  

$ Our heating bills will go up, some immediately, some later, depending on what kind of contracts your utility company has locked up. 

$ Gas prices will go up.

$ Mineral-dependent products could see a slowdown.  

$ Take a look at Russia's Export Partners and tell us how effective Biden's "severe" sanctions will be ("Hey man, I'm not kidding! These are serious, and that's no malarky!")

But most important of all... What say you?

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

If I Had a Hammer...

Silverfiddle Rant!
Canada's Emergency Powers law had only been invoked three times before Canada's Boy Emperor invoked it a fourth time last week.
1) WWI, 2) WWII, 3) Quebec terrorism, where an MP was almost murdered...
And... Last week, for horn honking and snarling traffic

More appropriate names for Trudeau include...  Trudescu and Castreau

I joke, but this is deadly serious. Canada's dynastic infanta is busting a major move to make the police state permanent:
Canadian finance minister Chrystia Freeland  said the trucker convoy, which had assembled to protest coronavirus restrictions, had “highlighted the fact” that digital assets and funding mechanisms “weren’t captured” by the Canadian government’s pre-existing surveillance powers. As a result, she said, “the government will also bring forward legislation to provide these authorities to FinTrac on a permanent basis.”
Meanwhile, international drug cartels, arms dealers, and human traffickers move billions of dollars daily through the international banking system, while the US and other western nations raise alarms when an ordinary citizen wants to transfer $2000 to relatives in Latin America, or a Canadian citizen contributes funds to the Canadian Truckers.

Oh, and while attention was focused on Ottawa, with Parliamentarians cowering in fear, a real terrorist attack happened at a Canadian pipeline worksite.  

I am incapable of expressing my disgust with the Canadian government.  Who would have thought they would zoom past our own corrupt authoritarians in the Race to Tyranny?  Australia is also on my list of regimes I have scratched off my bucket list.  The spawn of the English Empire has lost its moral authority to lecture anyone on democracy, human rights, civil liberties and free market capitalism.  

Canadian authorities are documenting offending license plate numbers, taking names, shutting off access to bank accounts and insurance, and yanking business licenses.  Of people who have committed no violence and who have issued no threats.  

The Canadian authoritarians are implementing a Chinese style social credit system, and all the pieces are in place for it to happen here in the US.  Punishing peaceful protest and civil disobedience is a violation of civil liberties and fundamental human rights.  Scared governments clinging to the final shreds of legitimacy are barreling down a very dangerous road...

Please read the linked article and tell us what you think...

Even Canadians who disagree with the protests lament what is happening:

Monday, February 21, 2022

Domestic Terrorism 1, 2, 3

Silverfiddle Rant!

The federal government is expanding the terror threat signature to include civil disobedience, protests, voicing dissent, shooting off your mouth about stolen elections, questioning government's Covid narrative, or spreading misinformation, disinformation and malinformation that questions authority.

1. What is MDM (according to the US government)?

Misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation make up what CISA defines as “information activities”. When this type of content is released by foreign actors, it can be referred to as foreign influence. Definitions for each are below.

* Misinformation is false, but not created or shared with the intention of causing harm.

* Disinformation is deliberately created to mislead, harm, or manipulate a person, social group, organization, or country.

* Malinformation is based on fact, but used out of context to mislead, harm, or manipulate.

Foreign and domestic threat actors use MDM campaigns to cause chaos, confusion, and division. These malign actors are seeking to interfere with and undermine our democratic institutions and national cohesiveness.

2. National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin

Key factors contributing to the current heightened threat environment include:

The proliferation of false or misleading narratives, which sow discord or undermine public trust in U.S. government institutions:

For example, there is widespread online proliferation of false or misleading narratives regarding unsubstantiated widespread election fraud and COVID-19. Grievances associated with these themes inspired violent extremist attacks during 2021.

3. DHS Creates New Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships and Additional Efforts to Comprehensively Combat Domestic Violent Extremism

Secretary Mayorkas also announced a new, dedicated domestic terrorism branch within the Department’s Office of Intelligence & Analysis (I&A) to ensure DHS develops the expertise necessary to produce the sound, timely intelligence needed to combat threats posed by domestic terrorism and targeted violence. I&A will also continue leveraging the National Network of Fusion Centers and our deployed intelligence professionals who collect and analyze threat information alongside our state, local, tribal, territorial, and private sector partners to increase timely and actionable information sharing in a dynamic threat environment.

MISSING:  A comprehensive government list of domestic terror attacks.

Related Podcasts:

Listen to two intelligent thinkers discuss the government's clear and present danger to our liberties:  
Dark Horse Podcast - Don't Say Anything at All

Kara Frederick has been an intel operative for the US government and an intel specialist for Facebook.  You will love her clear-eyed criticism of big tech totalitarianism, government's dangerous expansion of what it considers terrorism, and the abuses big tech and government perpetrate in the name of stamping out Misinformation, Disinformation, and Malinformation:

* - 18 USC 2331: Domestic Terrorism:  ... activities that— (A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State; (B) appear to be intended— (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and (C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States;

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Musical Interlude

(For politics, please scroll down)

I've been in a retro mood lately. Below is a retro offering for those of us of a certain age. Enjoy this blast from the past (hat tip to FJ, who left the link in the comments section here at Always On Watch): 

Friday, February 18, 2022

Get It Off Your Chest 2/18/2022

Open Comments: Hitler Angry at Trucker Convoy (I'm shamelessly stealing this video link from Joe) :

I was going to just steal the very best but I'm running out of room. See all of them at PowerlineThe Week In Pictures

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Farewell, PJ O'Rourke

Silverfiddle Rant!

P.J. was, for a long time, the only cool conservative writer in America. His pieces for Rolling Stone and Harper’s and other mainstream outlets gamely featured his horrified takes on elite cluelessness and liberal-Puritan malfeasance against ordinary American playful fun. (John Podhoretz - NY Post)

I remember enjoying O'Rourke's uproariously funny and keenly observational book, Holidays in Hell. I had been to some of the danger spots he covered, and he was spot on. 

I love O'Rourke's sanguine take on why socialism's siren song attracts so many young people:
Young people are not only penniless and powerless, they’re also ignorant as hell. They think of wealth as something that’s limited, like the number of Hostess Ding Dongs on the 7-Eleven shelf. They think rich people got to the 7-Eleven first and gobbled all the Ding Dongs, leaving poor people to lick the plastic wrappers.

Young people don’t know that more Ding Dongs can be produced. They don’t know how or why more Ding Dong production is possible. And they certainly don’t know how to get the cream filling inside.

Young people believe that the way to obtain more wealth is to take it away from rich people.

You can’t do it. Well, you can do it. But you can only do it once.

You can take the Ding Dongs from the Hostess factory for free, but once you’ve eaten them you can’t go back to the Hostess factory and take more Ding Dongs for free. The Hostess factory is out of business.
He blames schools, and goes on to explain that examples from the Soviet Union are ancient history...
To millennials, hearing the USSR and Mao’s China used as examples of how socialism can go very, very wrong is like me hearing about the Kellogg-Briand Pact and the Smoot-Hawley Tariff. I did hear about the Kellogg-Briand Pact and the Smoot-Hawley Tariff in American History class. And I was not listening as hard as I could. Taking a guess, I’d say one was an international breakfast cereal treaty and the other had to do with the price of smoots.
Even Progressives are Tiring of Woke Progressives...

Remember the leftwing nutballs on the San Francisco school board who decided to rename all those schools (in the name of racial justice, or whatever) while simultaneously preventing children from entering those same schools and learning (in the name of protecting children from covid, despite the fact children are the least vulnerable group)?

The people of San Francisco gave them an embarrassing ass kicking in a recall election.  It wasn't even close.  Recall votes were 0ver 70% for all three.  The other board members are thankful that only those three could be up for recall, or probably the whole board would have been gone.

This on the tail of Virginia electing a Republican governor, Lt Governor and Attorney General, and blue states all over the US suddenly "ignoring the science" and dropping their dictatorial covid mandates.

Peak Woke?

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

The Case Against Joe Rogan

Silverfiddle Rant!

Spoiler Alert!  The case ain't that good, but kudos to Media Matters for doing some real journalism.  They staked out The Joe Rogan Experience and documented specific instances of "misinformation and bigotry" guaranteed to get the Branch Covidian cultists' panties all in a wad.  

Go here to read the article.  They have helpfully bulleted their list of Rogan lies, so you can skip over the ranting preamble and go straight to the good stuff.

IMO, here are the most damning, from a factual standpoint:
On May 14, he falsely claimed that far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was “right” about “actual microchips being injected into your arm to see if you have COVID-19.” 
USA Today rated this "partially false," because there is such a device, but it's not technically a microchip.
On July 20, ... Rogan promoted the right-wing lie that the government was planning to monitor private citizens’ text messages for anti-vaccine misinformation.
Does this really seem far-fetched in the age of "show me your papers" to work or eat in a restaurant?  Also, it was indeed a topic of conversation and study, so mouth-breathing rightwingers didn't just pull it out of thin air

At least Media Matters provided actual quotes (in most instances) and further links for you to go investigate yourself, which is better than Salon hinting darkly that Rogan is a "dangerous" nazi in Bernie Bro clothing and caters to reactionaries... Salon informs us that ... "Few vaccine refusers are willing to admit they are doing it to stick it to Biden voters."

CNN rolls its eyes and scolds, "Don't pretend you don't know what Joe Rogan is all about."  CNN helpfully informs us he's a "noxious" crypto-fascist, a Father Coughlin who has learned to not say the quiet part out loud.
Rogan is, in fact, an agent of these social ills, which he packages and sends out to his audience clothed in the language of moderation and moral equivalence. 
It is chilling that we have people in the media--whose livelihoods and avocations are absolutely dependent upon free speech--calling for others to be silenced.  It is chilling that we are even having a public conversation about whether a person has a right to speak.

This anti-Roganism is binary thinking, illiberal, and it reveal's the left's inability to embrace life's inevitable ambiguities and contradictions

These hysterical attacks by legacy gatekeeper media outlets are borne of their enraged jealousy that a working class meathead generates 10 to 50 times their feeble listenership.  He absolutely destroys them in the coveted 18-34 year old demographic.

The Infotainment Media Complex has beshat itself and destroyed its credibility.  Normal people are tuning them out.  Progressives are losing ground in the culture wars, so they are becoming even more screechy, preachy and dictatorial, screaming unfounded assertions at increasing volume...  

! Proud Boys are an extremist group.  

! Not following Fauci's dictates to the letter = you are a selfish a-hole killing your fellow citizens.  

! Speech progressives disagree with is de facto dangerous and must be silenced. 

! If you voted for Trump you are a racist fascist. 

! Those Canadians locking up their capital and blocking bridges are Hitler's Truckers

... but their scolding isn't working like it used to. The Normals are moving on to real dialog and interesting conversation where pros and cons are discussed without the preaching.

There are cautiously hopeful signs woke could be going broke.  If Rogan survives with his podcast intact, it will be one more sign cancel culture could be crumbling.  

See also this excellent analysis of the left's predictable tactics to silence dissent:  

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Musical Interlude & Valentine's Day: First Dance

(For politics, please scroll down) 

I chose this song for the first dance at our wedding on August 28, 2021. Music didn't get played that day, however, because the man with the audio material had a caregiving crisis of his own. Still, Warren and I consider "Lay Down Beside Me" as our first-dance song.  And this song is perfect for Valentine's Day 2022. 

The lyrics for "Lay Down Beside Me" are so personal for Warren and me! Those of you who know our situations will understand the personal meaning without further explanation: 

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 11, 2022

Get It Off Your Chest 2/11/2022

Open comments: "Death and the Lady" performed by Clifton Hicks It's earliest entry in The Roud Folk Song Index is dated 1778. Watch his eyes!

"Anti-Fascist Blues" by Five Times August

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Russia and the Chickenhawks

Silverfiddle Rant!

Why are Democrats (and neocon GOP) hell bent on war with Russia?

What aspects of the Russian government and Russian nation make Russia a threat to the US and our interests?

Back in the old Soviet Union days, it was pretty simple:  democracy v. communism, freedom v. totalitarianism, Judeo-Christianity v. atheism, etc.

Now, Russia is a democracy, Orthodox Christian, and people can come and go freely.

So, what makes Democrats have blood in their eyes for Putin and Russia?

Has Russia and Putin become a totem used by the left and right to troll each other?

Related questions:  

What soured post-cold war US-Russia relations?

Should Georgia and Ukraine join Nato?  Why or why not?

Did we bring in nations to Nato that we should not have?

Is Russia's beef with Nato's eastern encroachment legitimate?  Why or why not? 

Are we in a new cold war with Russia?  Should we be?

How could we deescalate?

Please listen to the last 20 minutes of this podcast.  Marshall and Saager of The Realignment talk to a Hollywood screenwriter and former CIA agent specializing in the Soviet Union.  They discuss possible roots of this potential new cold war, and how we could deescalate.

What say you?

Monday, February 7, 2022

Quote Of The Day

Last week, commenter Jayhawk stated the following at Silverfiddle's February 2, 2022 post "Free Speech," here at Always On Watch (emphases mine):
First of all, being offended is a state of mind which originates within the mind of the person who is offended. It has no external causes, it originates within, and its causes lie in the person's biases, preferences and fears.
If I become offended after you utter a sentence, it is because I choose to become offended. You do not control my mind. You cannot create my state of mind. You cannot control my emotions. If you dispute this you have a very serious living problem. You are doomed to be incapable of living in society.

You may use language that is designed to make me take offense. You may be deliberately trying to create a certain state of anger or offense in my reaction, but I always have the right not to do what you want me to do. I can respond by NOT being offended. I don't have to become offended just because you want me to.

Secondly, if my peace of mind, my self image and/or my self esteem is dependent on your actions, lack of actions or speech, then I am the worst sort of prisoner. It means I have to control you, which is an utterly hopeless proposition. It means that I have to control each and every person with whom I come in contact. Just stop and think of the sheer insanity of that idea.

Further, it also means that every person who comes into contact with me must be allowed to control my speech and actions to assure their peace of mind, self image and/or self esteem. So we have a society of 235 [sic] million people, all frantically trying to control each other. Not really a viable proposition.   

What we have is a social fabric of people frantically trying to control everybody else so that they do not have to control themselves.
Think about the above for a few moments.  

What a terrible world it would be if everyone were the same, with the same exact opinions!  

We would all be cookie cutter images that match each other: housing, vehicles, clothing, music, visual arts, ideology, etc. 

Cue The Twilight Zone's "Eye of the Beholder" and its dystopian view of the future — this time a dystopian view of the concept of human physical attractiveness:

Long live differences!  They are part of what makes us human!

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Musical Interlude

(For politics, please scroll down)

The music below takes me back to my college days and my freshman Music Appreciation Course, one of the best courses I ever took.

Enjoy these selections from the orchestration of Rodeo, a ballet composed in 1942 by Aaron Copland (1900-1990):

The four dance episodes above:

00:00 - Buckaroo Holiday 08:02 - Corral Nocturne 11:27 - Saturday Night Waltz 15:33 - Hoe-Down

The ballet's story:*******

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Free Speech

Silverfiddle Rant!

WrongSpeak leads to WrongThink

Whoopie Goldberg has been temporarily suspended from her show, and Joe Rogan (so far) has not.

I am 100% against cancelling Goldberg. She was not denying the Holocaust or expressing anti-Semitism--she was expressing a point of view, which we know, differs depending on where you stand and what your life experiences are.

Our public discourse needs a big dose of charity, candor and goodwill.

I also am totally opposed to the corporate censorship of any Covid information that does not conform to Doctator Fauci's "Le Science c'est moi" bureaucratic imperialism.

Wuhan Lab Leak Theory was "disinformation" a year ago, but the cat's out of the bag and we're allowed to talk about it now.

Saying cloth masks were only marginally effective was "disinformation" a year ago, but the CDC is now saying it, so we're all allowed to say it now.

Science is advanced by many people contributing information to the topic at hand; not by censorship.

If we lose free speech, we lose everything.  It saddens and angers me that supposed "liberal, free spirits" like aging hippie Neil Young are calling for global corporations to be the arbiters truth and lies, information and disinformation, of what can and cannot be said.

Please read this excellent essay by Glenn Greenwald and tell us what you think.