Game Of Thones And Swivel Chairs

Prince Harry is engaged.

To an American.

Connect the dots, people:

And much of the Blue East Coast will welcome it, unless they can find a German prince to latch onto (and yes, I know whatever German nobility still exists isn’t a part of governent, but I’m pretty sure most Europhiles don’t know that).

Warranty Voided

The Nobel LIterature prize is now enmeshed in a sexual harassment scandal.   It’s actually pretty nasty looking, especially given Sweden’s strenuous efforts to paint itself as gender-neutral to the point of androgyny.

And the Swedish Academy that issues the awards is worried (emphasis added):

“When an institution which selects Nobel laureates finds itself in this type of situation then it of course risks affecting the Nobel prize negatively,” Lars Heikensten, executive director of the Nobel Foundation, told the daily Dagens Nyheter newspaper.

Don’t worry, Nobel peeps.  After Obama, Paul Krugman,Aung San Suu Kyi, the IPCC, Algore, Paul Krugman, Kofi Annan and Yassir Arafat, that boat has left the dock and cleared the lighthouse.

Hero Takes A Fall

There’s a bit of a humanitarian crisis in Burma (the wonk class now call it “Myanmar”, but nobody cares, because it’s freaking Burma); the majority Buddhist population is carrying out ethnic cleansing against a small Muslim minority, with the blessing of the military (who worry about a Muslim population on the border with majority-Islamic Bangladesh).

And it’s ugly:

(Human rights activist Maung Zarni): Simply put, the military in Burma today uses what the Nazis used in the 1930s – that they have misframed the Rohingyas the way the Nazis blamed the Jewish people for everything that was wrong with the society, all the frustration and anger. So I think the military has cleverly diverted public frustration towards the Rohingya, who are completely unarmed and helpless. And they’ve been sitting ducks for the last 40 years.

More disarmed people at the mercy of their masters.   But I digress.

There are a couple of “unlikely” suspects in this crime against humanity, too.  Keep this one in mind when your dippy nephew says he’s experimenting with Buddhism because of its’ universal love for humanity:

ZARNI: Well, there is no someone else inside the country. Even Buddhist monks justify openly to the military, to the public that killing the nonbelievers, non-Buddhists, the Rohingyas does not amount to bad karma. It is not a crime.

And – “Surprisingly”, if you have not completely given into cynicism about the Mainstream Media’s take on the world – this suspect:

(NPR talking voice Kelly McEvers): And human rights groups have said that Aung San Suu Kyi, the de facto leader of Myanmar, is part of the problem here. This is a woman who of course won the Nobel Peace Prize. She’s considered a champion of human rights. Yet she will not say that what’s happening to the Rohingya is ethnic cleansing. Why? Why is she not getting more involved in their case?

ZARNI: Well, you know, I’ve known her personally, and I’ve supported her for the first 15 years of my activism. And simply put, she is anti-Muslim races. She is Islamophobe. I mean, she is a big part of the problem.

Why, it’s almost as if the Nobel Peace Prize is of no value…

The whole thing is worth a read.

Österreich Wieder Groß Zu Machen

Austria elects a millennial immigration hard-liner in the race for Austria’s Chancellorship:

Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz declared victory on Sunday in the race to become Austria’s chancellor, becoming the youngest head of state in the West. The 31-year-old Kurz and the center-right People’s Party defeated the Social Democratic Party, which was the largest party in the Austrian parliament before Sunday.

Austria – a nation with about the same  population as Minnesota and the Dakotas put together – has been on the front line of Europe’s immigration crisis.  The rise of the Austrian Volkspartei  (Peoples Party) – which is called “far right”,- is not uncoincident with the rise of Trump in the US, and other parties that are demanding a very un-Euro, un-“progressive” approach to immigration in time of anti-western extremism.

(Here’s a take from the center-right German ˆFrankfurter Allgemeineˆ)

Crusade, Redux

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Denmark is putting troops at the border and on guard duty around synagogues.

Why now?  Martin Luther, Henry VII and John Wesley all died centuries ago.  It can’t be Anglicans, Methodists or Lutherans threatening Jews.  What’s changed in the last couple of years that has disrupted Danish life so much they need to put troops on the streets to maintain order?

Amazing, they have both kinds of unrest:  Muslim and leftist.  The incident cited was a Muslim terrorist who shot up a free speech event.  Striking parallels to the Left in this country.  Sounds as if Danes need to start listening to The Donald.

Build The Wall.

Joe Doakes

That should stretch the Danish military to the breaking point. Not joking.

(Danish Military trivia:  the Hjemmeværnet, or “Home Guard”, which is their national militia, was established after WW2 on the basis of the wartime Resistance – and with the mission of operating independently of the King and Parliament to defend the country (or kill invaders) regardless of the any government capitulation.  It was the closest I’ve seen to a “Second Amendment”-style policy in any non-Swiss European state.  But in recent decades, that mission has been softening; the Hjemmeværnet has been drawn more into the government mainstream, and the notion of having to resist an invader even in contravention of a (subjugated) government has faded from living memory.  I wonder if it’ll make a reappearance?   Nota bene:  don’t underestimate the Danes).

Bring On The Horseshoes

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Liberals say the Second Amendment doesn’t protect my right to have military-grade weapons to resist my own government.  They say America should be more like Sweden.

Sweden – where widespread availability of hand grenades resulted in a 550% increase in people throwing hand grenades at government targets.  Jiminy Cricket – who knew Swedes were such violent domestic terrorists in their own country?  And why now, all of the sudden?

The latest attack was in Malmo, Sweden.  Hmmmm, Malmo, Malmo . . . why is that name familiar?

Joe Doakes

Grenades don’t kill people.  People with violence on their mind and grenades do.

Not The Dumbest Idea They’ve Had

Venezuela responds to US moves to deal with the unraveling of Venezuelan economic life:

“The ‘contact group’ you’re proposing is completely useless and unnecessary,” Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez fumed at a meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Cancun, Mexico.

“The only way you could impose it would be to send in your Marines — who would meet with a crushing response from Venezuela if they dared make such a misstep.”

Getting conquered may be the only way to save Venezuela.

Live By Bureaucracy, Die By Bureaucracy

Whenever you think the bureaucracy in the city of Minneapolis, or Minnesota state government in general,  is addled and hidebound, just take a look at India, and see what the future holds.

It’s bad enough when it comes to importing things or retaining Indian labor.

When it comes to “Justice”, forget about it.

Six British ex-military men employed by an American company on anti-piracy duties were arrested by the Indian Coast Guard 3½ years ago – and charged with weapons possession (for the firearms they used to, y’know, guard ships from pirates).  They’ve been rotting in an Indian prison ever since.

An international move is going on to try to get some justice for these guys.

When The Future Is Forgotten

Most of Europe’s political leaders – almost without exception, among the big ones – have no children.  The list is almost airtight:  Frances’ Emmanuel Macron; Germany’s Angela Merkel, the UK’s  Theresa May,Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon, Italiy’s Paolo Gentiloni, the Netherlands’Mark Rutte, Luxembourg’s Xavier Bettel – none have kids.  Sweden’s Stefan Löfven has no bio-kids; the EU’s uber-bureaucrat Jean-Claude Juncker is also “child-free”.


And this is significant:

One of the benefits of parenthood is the daily confrontation with free will—a human nature. Parents may have their child’s life, career, and happiness planned out, but a child has other ideas -constantly. Love, patience, teaching, negotiating, scolding—nurture—can help direct the child, but the overwhelming otherness of the child is undeniable. They are not blank slates upon whom the parent exercises his will.

Political leaders without this experience of parenthood may be susceptible to the idea that people are blank-slates, interchangeable units of human capital. As a parent and a teacher, I have seen many brilliant and well-meaning parents and colleagues crash their will and intellect against the rock of a child’s independent nature. Now, scale such a hubristic paternalism to a nation. Or a continent.

Contemporary childless leaders, however ascendant they feel today, may be the last gasp of secularism. The future is won by those who show up, and only the religiously orthodox are having children.

The number of utopians – good and evil (and as opposed to totalitarian gansters, who may talk of utopia but never practice it), from the far left, far right, and the far libertarian fringe – who have eschewed parenthood is also a little daunting.

I know my own approach to politics was a lot more…entitled?  Absolutist?  Based on assumptions that raising kids showed me were unsupportable?   All of those and more, before I had kids.

So now we have the leadership of one of the world’s most powerful blocs of natoins, all governing from the perspective of people who’ve never had to deal with kids?

I think it’s also significant that the leaders of the former Communist countries in Europe – Poland, Hungary (fiive kids!), the Czechs, Latvia, Estonia, Bulgaria – people who’ve had to deal with genuine cognitive dissonance and the imperfection of institutions in their lifetimes – tend to have kids.


Last year, we were assured, BREXIT would spell doom for Britain, and the conservatives who led it.

It just had to happen; BREXIT was an epic rejection of the political technocrat elite by the rabble and peasants – and the technocrats (and those who suck up to them) warned us that that could lead to nothing but calamity.

It haan’t – and the opinion polls on the upcoming parliamentary votes seem to be bearing this out:

For the first time in this election, YouGov reveals the voting intention picture in each British government office region. The fieldwork, conducted from April 24 to May 5, shows:

  • The Conservative vote share is up, sometimes dramatically so, since the last general election in every region of the UK.
  • Labour are down on their 2015 vote haul in every region of the UK except the South West and South East where they were already performing poorly.
  • The Liberal Democrat vote share is up in most regions, but only by small margins.
  • UKIP’s vote share is down seven to ten points in all regions except Scotland and London, where they were already performing poorly.

The Tories have co-opted a lot of UKIP’s messaging.  And Labour seems to be eading toward its worst showing since the end of WWI.

The Ark

I saw this story a few years ago, and put it aside until today – the fortieth anniversary of the dedication of the more unusual Catholic churches in the world, Kosciol Arka Pana in Novy Huta, Poland.

Which is interesting in and of itself; Nowy Huta is a district in Krakow that was built as a “Socialist Realist” experiment, an entire community built from the ground up to reflect the ideals of Stalin-era communism.

Including absolute, suffocating atheism.

Poles are, of course, obstreperously Catholic – so the battle between Socialist Atheism and Faith seesawed across the city.  In 1960, a wooden cross was erected with aa permit, prompting police response; violent demonstrations ensued.  The future pope, then-bishop Karol Wojtyla, who began holding annual outdoor Christmas Eve Masses in Nowy Huta in 1959 – and saw to it that ever time the cops removed the cross, another one replaced it.

It took seven years to secure a permit – and, literally, nothing else.  In a society where all resources were officially allocated by the government – picture a government where everyone is Alondra Cano – they did it all with volunteer labor and scrounged material.

With no outside help it was down to the locals to mix cement with spades, and find the two million stones needed for the church’s facade. The first corner stone was laid in 1969 by Cardinal Karol Wojtyła, who would later assume fame as Pope John Paul II, but the discovery of a WWII ammunition dump delayed work, as some 5,000 mines and shells had to be carefully removed. Finally, on May 15th 1977, the church was consecrated. Built to resemble Noah’s Ark, with a 70 metre mast-shaped crucifix rising from the middle, the church houses an array of curious treasures, including a stone from the tomb of St. Peter in the Vatican, a tabernacle containing a fragment of rutile brought back from the moon by the crew of Apollo 11, and a controversial statue of Christ that shows him not on a cross, but about to fly to the heavens. If you think that’s odd, check out the statue dedicated to Our Lady the Armoured – a half metre sculpture made from ten kilograms of shrapnel removed from Polish soldiers wounded at the Battle of Monte Cassino. In the early 1980s, the church became a focal point during anti-communist protests, not least for the shelter it afforded the locals from the militia. Protesting during the period of Martial Law was dangerous business, as proven by the monument dedicated to Bogdan Włosik opposite the church. Włosik was shot in the chest by security services, and later died of his injuries. His death outraged the people, and his funeral was attended by 20,000 mourners. The monument commemorating the site of his death was erected in 1992 and is a tribute to all those who died during this period. As recently as September 2012, Kraków City Council awarded Arka Pana the ‘Cracoviae Merenti’ silver medallion for its significance to the city’s history.

Apropos not much, other than historical interest.

Our Sonafabitch

SCENE:  Mitch Berg is picking through a bin of “Priced To Move” CDs at a “Half Price Books” when Avery LIBRELLE notices him, and slowly tiptoes up on him from behind.

BERG:  Hey, Avery.

LIBRELLE:  Er…OK, Merg, how did you know I was here?

BERG:  (not looking up from the CD bin)  It’s the same expository plot device Mitch always uses for these bits.  Your surprise me at some location where I can’t tactfully get away without dropping a smoke grenade.  So – what can I do for you?

LIBRELLE:  Donald Trump is sucking up to fascists.

BERG:  (Finding a CD of “The River”)  What, again?  Do tell.

LIBRELLE:   He’s invited loose cannon fascist Filipino dictator Rodrigo Duterte to the White House for a meeting

BERG:  (Visibly disinterested)   So?  And he was elected democratically.  He’s not a dictator until he suspends Filipino democracy.

LIBRELLE:   He’s cozying up to fascists.

BERG:  Would you prefer that the Philippines – tens of millions of heavily westernized people, a growing economy, a key military position on the PacRim, and a long time ally of the United States – fall into the Chinese orbit?

LIBRELLE:  But Duiterte is an awful man!

BERG:  He’s a democratically elected leader.  And sometimes you make common cause with awful people to solve more important goals.  Like containing China.

LIBRELLE:  We can’t condone extremists like Duterte!

BERG:  His “extremism” is a matter for the people of his country to ascertain.  And containing Chinese expansionism is for us to do.

LIBRELLE:  You know who Duterte sounds like?

BERG:  Melissa Click?

LIBRELLE:  (Stops, stares, puzzled into space, slowly walks away)

BERG:  See ya.


If Only It’d Been Bush’s Fault

Under Obama and Secretary of State Clinton, the US participated in the overthrow of Muammar Gadhaffi.

The result has been less than stellar (emphasis added):

If a Republican President had invaded Libya and overthrown its government, then left bloody chaos, terrorism and rampant arms smuggling behind, our courageous press corps would be all over the story like a chicken on a June bug.

But fortunately all this happened under President Obama, so we don’t hear all that much about it. And when we do, nobody tries to assign blame to the arrogant ignoramuses who “organized” this disaster.

But the latest news, that slave markets are now operating in Libya, where desperate black Africans are being bought and sold as slaves, ought to trigger some kind of response. . . .Again, if Republicans were responsible for this it would be the Biggest. Disaster. Ever.

Since the left can’t (plausibly, even by their standards) blame it on Bush anymore, expect them to deflect to Russia.

Or Kansas.

The Russians Are Coming!

Remember when excessive concern about the Russians was a sign you were  a simple-minded Cold Warrior?

The good news:  There is so far zero evidence of direct Russian “hacking” of the election.  Influence, sure – but then, Obama was nobody to gripe about people influencing foreign elections.

The bad news?  They were certainly trying to sow chaos and misinformation.

The worse news?  Americans are ripe for political manipulation, and American politics is a fertile field for a seasoned chaos-monger, and our media is the problem, not the defense.

Joke’s On Him

EU top bureaucrat vows 1 to “Break up the US” in revenge for Trump backing the Brexit.

EUROPEAN Union boss Jean-Claude Juncker this afternoon issued a jaw-dropping threat to the United States, saying he could campaign to break up the country in revenge for Donald Trump’s supportive comments about Brexit.

In an extraordinary speech the EU Commission president said he would push for Ohio and Texas to split from the rest of America if the Republican president does not change his tune and become more supportive of the EU.

Please, Herr Juncker.  Take California, New York, and DC.

[1] possibly jokingly…

Unforeseen Consequences, Foreseen

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

How can anyone not foresee the obvious consequences of this policy:
Migrants will stay in Germany if they can prove neo-Nazi violence
Berlin’s interior minister Andrea Geisel ([pictured) said Berlin is looking into the legal possibilities of the exemption after nearby Brandenburg opted for the scheme which offers protection to witnesses.
First, there will be a tenfold increase in the number of asylum seekers falsely claiming to have been beaten up by Neo-Nazis in order to claim permanent residence; and
Second, Neo-Nazis now know that beatings aren’t sufficient to make asylum seekers leave, so they’ll escalate to killing.
How stupid are these bureaucrats?
Joe Doakes

“How stupid are these bureaucrats?”

Knowing Joe, I know it’s a rhetorical question.

Those Who Can’t Possibly Learn From History Are Doomed To…

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Remember yellowcake? 

 The story was that intelligence agencies had learned Saddam Hussein was trying to buy yellowcake uranium to build nuclear weapons to use against the United States, which would have posed a threat to our national security, so we had to go to war against him to prevent him from using weapons of mass destruction on us.

 The entire international coalition shared the intelligence evidence as did select members of Congress including John Kerry and Hillary Clinton, both of whom supported the war based on that intelligence assessment.

 Except – no yellowcake.  Turns out the intelligence was faulty.  Nobody should have relied on it, much less gone to war over it.  Bush lied, people died.

 Fast forward a decade.  Portions of the intelligence community believe Russia hacked into the DNC computers but portions of it do not, the evidence is unclear, the motive is unknown, the result on the election is impossible to prove.  But some idiots in Congress are ready to start a war over this?  And not just war with some two-bit tin pot dictator, war with a nuclear nation whose conventional military forces dwarf ours? 

Insane.  Literally, not sane.  Should be locked up as a danger to themselves and all the rest of us.

 Joe Doakes

Knowing some of this might come from reading military history.

But you can count liberals who read military history on one hand.

Future Tense

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Last February, my wife and I stayed at an all-inclusive condo on Cozumel.  We asked the staff about tipping – not required but okay if you want to.  How much to tip?  Well, the groundskeepers, the people who speak no English and have no particular skills, make 70 Pesos per day.  The wait staff in the restaurants have some English skills so they make 100 per day.  Everyone was super-efficient and friendly because there was a line of applicants for those jobs.  At those wages in that economy, they weren’t just jobs – they were GOOD jobs.

 At the time, one American dollar was 15 pesos.  The groundskeeper was making about $5.00 per day; the waitress, $7.00.  Not per hour.  Per day. 

 One year later, Trump’s been elected and one American dollar is worth 20 pesos.  Yes, I’m glad Trump’s been elected, the strength of the dollar shows the rest of the world is glad, too. 

 Will it make America look like the Promised Land?  The starting wage for one day of part-time work at McDonalds is an entire week’s pay back home.  

 Will illegal immigration increase? 

“Build the Fence” is a wonderful short-term solution but eventually there will be 500 million inside the fence and 6,000 million outside it.  Can a fence hold off Billions of immigrants?  What’s the long term solution?

 Obama’s long-term solution seems to have been “if we make America into a Third World country, nobody will bother to come here.”  What’s Trump’s long-term solution?

 Joe Doakes

Not sure Trump was about long term solutions – but I’ve been surprised before.

Fake News

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson says no, there was no Russian interference with the mechanics of our past election:

Washington Post columnist David Ignatius asked Johnson if he could assure the country that Russian hacking did not affect the outcome of the presidential election.

“We see no evidence that hacking by any actor altered the ballot count or any cyber actions that deprived people of voting. Whether the disclosures that we made that we pointed out in our Oct. 7th statement altered public opinion, that’s beyond my level of expertise,” he replied.

You Expected Precisely What?

SCENE:  Mitch BERG is in his garage, puttering with his snowblower. 

Avery LIBRELLE walks into the garage, drinking a bottle of kombucha.  

BERG:  Uh, hey, Avery.  To what do I owe the…

LIBRELLE:  I needed a place to throw the empty bottle.   Hey – Trump was elected by the Russians!

BERG:  Well, it seems that the Russians were trying to do something about our elections, via propaganda, and perhaps online skulduggery.

LIBRELLE:  It just proves that Trump was not legitimate.

BERG:  Well, I’m sure the DNC hopes people believe that.  But there’s no evidence they were doing it to benefit Trump, specifically.  More to generate chaos.  Putin is a former KGB guy.

LIBRELLE:  Don’t give me your crazy acronyms.  That’s racist.

BERG:  Whatever.  Intelligence people use chaos as a tool; out of chaos comes opportunity.  If an American government needs to use its poltiical capital fighting internal questions about its legitimacy – which seems to be Putin’s goal, and seems to be working so far, at least among our chattering classses – then it’s less likely to be able to intervene in Syria, or take serious action re ISIS, or marshal any political will to protect Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania or Estonia.

LIBRELLE:  Bla bla bla.  America’s intelligence agencies say it’s a smoking gun!

BERG:  A smoking what?

LIBRELLE:  Oops. A smoking microaggression.

BERG:  No, they don’t.

(But LIBRELLE has already scampered away, leaving the empty kombucha bottle on BERG’s garage shelf).



Yet Again The Sky Fails To Fall

My prediction – last week’s teapot-tempest about Trump talking with the Taiwanese president will redound to everyone’s benefit.

So far, so good:

But rumors of apocalypse were overstated. Beijing’s response, besides requesting that the U.S. not let [Taiwan’s presidentTsai Ing-wen pass through the U.S. in January on her way to Guatemala, has been muted. That is to be expected. China has more to lose than to gain from an overreaction. For Donald Trump’s domestic critics, though, the opposite tends to be true. It is a telling comment on America’s political Left that they have reacted more strongly to Donald Trump’s potentially “undiplomatic” phone call to the head of a vibrant democracy than to the regime in Beijing trying to crush that democracy. Visitors to Taiwan will find a fairly elected president, a vigorous legislature, an open press, religious freedom, the fifth-largest economy in Asia, and a unique culture that straddles East and West. A little over 100 miles to the west, visitors will find a one-party dictatorship, directly descended from the terrors of Chairman Mao, that “disappears” political dissidents and harvests the organs of Falun Gong adherents.


Selling out democracies because of a precedent set by one of our least capable presidents is incredibly stupid policy.