Yet Another Intelligence Disaster


Asking for a friend: Is it too early to start drinking heavily? No, not taking up the VodkaPundit school of journalism (which is far superior to corporate journalism). Instead, I’m looking at the Biden Regency and the unmitigated disaster that is U.S. Intelligence Operations. Before I get fully into rant mode, allow me to recommend this post from Nina Bookout at Victory Girls and this post from David Strom at HotAir. Also, Nina has some good words about the Pentagon’s Baghdad Bob who seems a better fit for Russia or China than in a Republic.

Okay, to be fair, U.S. intelligence operations have been a disaster for a while now. Frankly, we never have been that good at it. Yes, we’ve had a few individuals over the years who were outstanding at the job, going back to the Civil War. Organized and large scale intelligence operations not so much. I don’t know if it’s the ghost of Stimson and the curse of the Black Chamber or something else. The OSS was a good wartime operation, but when it came time to start the metamorphasis to what eventually became the CIA, well, let’s say there have been ups and downs.

Personally, I view the current FUBAR as starting under Carter, who should have been awarded the Order of Stimson for his incompetence with intelligence, intelligence operations, and (much needed) intelligence reforms. His cavalier revelation of our ability to monitor car phones in Moscow blew that source and the much needed intelligence it provided right out the airlock.

Which brings us to the current fuckup. While I wonder if it was more than one person, someone rather clearly went shopping in a SCIF and despite all preventative measures walked out with documents that were never intended to leave the SCIF. Unlike television, getting into and out of a SCIF can be and should be a major PITA. Because if not you get the current situation. Like David, I suspect they know or have a good idea of the person or persons involved as the access list for documents like this is rather small.

Okay, bad enough that information has gotten out. That information is not going to make things easy for us or our allies, and is a boon to our enemies. It’s an even bigger boon as the information reveals sources and methods. The documents don’t have to say ‘Joe Blow in Department X says’ to reveal sources and methods. In some cases, again, the information being discussed has a limited pool of people with access. In others, it may be a dawning realization that the CIA and the Peanut are listening to more than your glowing description of Olga the masseuse.

Frankly, if I were a confidential source within either allied or enemy camps, I would see this as a lodestone moment, grab my spooker, and take a long unplanned vacation under another identity. As for the methods compromised, sigh, not much can be done and that is an area of constant cat and mouse. Short- to mid-term it is devastating, but new methods will eventually be found.

However, the release of this information is earth shaking. Catastrophic even. Coming on top of such things as the Chinese balloons, the loss of most HUMINT from China, and other delights, the damage to our ability to gather intel can’t be overstated. We already weren’t doing a good job of gathering and analyzing (see Afghanistan for many examples of same).

This puts our intelligence assets, military, and more in danger. It is going to strain and possibly rupture relationships, organizational and governmental. Intelligence sharing? Who’s going to risk anything truly sensitive now? Catastrophic is a mild term for the damage done, and if it was done to win a geek argument among gamers, the death penalty should be on the table. No, not joking. If I had handled classified information as far too many in the Regency appear to be doing, I would be under Leavenworth until my demise.

No, it’s not too early to start drinking. I just suspect there is not enough bourbon and rye in Kentucky to take the edge off dealing with the blazing floating dumpster fire that is the Biden Regency and American intelligence.

Sorry Nichevo, will try to get to your second question tomorrow.

UPDATE: Probably not ours, but headdesk headdesk headdesk

UPDATE II: An excellent read that asks some very good questions is found here. Very much agree with the conclusion. The arrest and details don’t add up, and frankly there’s a stench wafting from this.

UPDATE III: The situation with the leaker stinks to high heaven. The story and data as presented do NOT add up. This story expands on that, and the points are worth considering. Glenn Greenwald also makes some good points here. BTW, am I the only person having some cognitive dissonance with GG becoming a voice of reason? Lots of question, and I doubt we are going to get the answers. The rot runs deep.

UPDATE IV: A different take from a former member of the intelligence community. For me, still not adding up and the smell continues to grow.

UPDATE V: Let me be clear: Even if we do find out for sure later that this guy’s code name was “Patsy,” he deserves to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. He SHOULD be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law because of the damage done to sources and methods alone. Should Vindman have been prosecuted as well? IMO, YES. In this two-tier system, the latter is not going to happen. Would that it could as both have done tremendous damage to the Republic IMO.

Russia: Some Players

In a comment to a previous post, Nichevo asks some reasonable questions. So, I’m going to try to answer them, starting with a bit of a who’s who in Russian politics. I’m not going to list all the players who potentially could take over from Vladmir, but more on those that I think have an eye on greater power. Also, keep in mind that there is not much left of open opposition to Vladimir, as several of the remaining opposition politicians have had to flee Russia to save their lives. They can’t return home, probably ever, given that.

Let’s start with the darling of the Western left, Alexei Navalny, who in many respects is both the last significant opposition figure left alive and someone who philosophically has at least some degree of being pro-Western rather than a full member of the Slavophile group. He is Russian/Ukrainian and grew up spending summers in Ukraine with his grandmother. For all that he is anti-corruption and an advocate for more honest elections, he is also a Russian (ultra) nationalist and appears to be a staunch supporter of Russkiy Mir. He had urged courting Ukraine to rejoin Russia rather than invading. He also lets his group take point on controversial issues, such as gay marriage, without officially committing to it. For all that the various charges against him, and for which he is currently in prison, are trumped up, there are questions about how far he truly wants to push anti-corruption reforms. Our so-called elites look at the surface and see an anti-Putin which makes him a de facto ally. Others who are cynical like me see someone who may be the enemy of my enemy, but realizes that such does not automatically make them our friend. Navalny is not going to open Russia, institute democracy, and end war if he takes over. The best I see is some reform; and, I also think his nationalism and opposition to immigration will prove to be salt in the mouths of Western liberals expecting sugar.

There is one more opposition politician, though I’m not sure he has a chance in the great game at this time. That is Vladimir Kara-Murza, who is currently in prison for opposing the war (among other things), and was poisoned twice. He was the protege of Boris Nemtsov, the former Deputy Prime Minister of Russia who was assassinated in 2015. He is also connected to oligarch-in-exile Mikhail Borisovich Khodorkovsky (aka MBK). All of which give him some “reach” in Russia and if he survives prison he could continue to rise. Right now, I don’t see him having the name recognition or the operational structures that Navalny has in place even with MBK restarting Open Russia in exile. Pity, as in some ways I see him and MBK as the better choice.

On the pro-Vladimir (sorta) side, the name in the lights these days is that of Yevgeny Prigozhin, oligarch and best known for his ownership stake in the Wagner Group. A former convict, he is a leading example of how prison mores have become a chic thing for Russian leadership. He has called for Shoigu’s son to be raped (and there may be some claim that he has called for all in prison for opposing Vladimir to be raped as well), as those who are raped become social omegas and that applies outside of prison as well. Charming fellow. As I noted before, there is a subtle dance required in Russia, where one goes for the gold but dances the dance of being discrete and only taking power because it is thrust on you. The public is aware of, and discussing surprisingly openly, his glaring ambition and that he and Vladimir appear to have had a falling out. His star is burning brightly, and the question is will it continue to do so or burn out. Or be snuffed out, as those Vladimir views as traitorous tend to die not long after.

Next up, you have Dmitry Medvedev. Short version is that in public he is more extreme that Vladimir but is also well-trained enough not to buck his master. For that reason, he “replaced” Vladimir in an election segment until Vladimir could run again, and did exactly as he was told during that time. He has a position of power, knows where bodies are buried, and is dug in like an Alabama tick in many regards. That said, I don’t see him as a lead in succession, though he is likely to be a key player in parts of it.

Sergei Shoigu would be the next logical choice. However, between the military failures in the invasion and the ongoing war between him and Prigozhin, I’m not seeing him as a top contender despite being extremely politically adept. If something happens to take Prigozhin out of the picture, he may well be the compromise candidate the various Slavophile factions could accept.

Two other names to keep in mind: Sergei Lavrov and Sergei Sobyanin. Right now, they are considered long shots, but of the two I think Sobyanin is the one on which to keep an eye. His mayorship of Moscow, Vladimir’s strong support, and other factors say he could be the dark horse in this saga.

Could someone come up who is not currently known? Stranger things, such as Vladimir and Medvedev, came out of nowhere in Russian politics before. Much is going to depend on how Vladimir is succeeded. I honestly don’t see him stepping down in 2024, but running and winning again. If he dies in office of natural causes, I expect the election to be between Medvedev, Lavrov, and Sobyanin. If Vladimir dies of non-natural causes, I think it could come down to literal fighting between Prigozhin, Shoigu, and Medvedev.

Keep in mind that Ramzan Kadyrov, head of the Chechen Republic, could well play kingmaker. Right now, he still has (to the best of my knowledge) 1,000 troops quartered next to the Kremlin in support of Vladimir. Anyone on any side feeling frisky knows that they are there. Smart money has those with an eye to moving up establishing cordial if low-key relations with him.

As for the other name I mentioned, Aleksandr Nevzorov, he was/is an opposition leader and general pain in the ass to Vladimir. Journalist, politician, and for me a bit of a character; but, he’s a character who has survived assassination attempts and more. He is one of several politicians who had to flee Russia to save their lives because of their opposition to both Vladimir and the war. Given Russian society, they can never go home as they will be killed as they do so. Never mind the fact that he’s been found guilty of various crimes and sentenced to nine years in prison in absentia. I’ve found his videos to be interesting, both informationally and stylistically. His youtube channel is here, and this video (English captions) from Ukraine News is eerily prophetic. I hope he stays safe as I think Russia needs some of the wisdom he offers.

Hope to get to more of the questions tomorrow.

If Interested

For those who might be interested:

A partial list of Anheuser-Busch/InBev brands: Budweiser, Bud variants, Michelob, Rolling Rock, Busch, Shock Top, Natural, Johnny Appleseed, Landshark, Goose Island, Blue Point, 10 Barrel, Elysian Brewing, Golden Road, Four Peaks, Breckenridge, Devil’s Backbone, Karbach, Wicked Weed, King Cobra, and Hurricane. There are others, and minority ownership in a number of companies. Remember, knowing is half the battle. 

This graphic was posted on Twitter and checks out so far.

Russia Update

I’ve been holding off on an update as there is a lot of smoke, which usually means a fire but in this case could just be politicians and proxies blowing it out their shorts. Russia operates very differently from the U.S., something that seems to escape about ninety percent of DC. It’s that difference that is making it hard to tell exactly what is happening.

The breathless coverage of the day is the assassination of Vladlen Tatarsky, born Maxim Yuryevich Fomin. The well-known Russian milblogger was a huge supporter of the war, but also had become a bit vocal in his criticism of how it was being waged, progressing, etc. To the point it was noted and being discussed in very careful whispers around Moscow. If you think Daria Trepova is the cold-blooded mastermind of the explosion, got a bridge for sale.

The assassination is very reminiscent of Darya Dugina (see here and here). Except this time they used a Russian patsy who provides access to a dissident group as well as the chance to tar Navalny and his party. Right now, suspecting they had hoped she would die in the blast, to make a lot of the smearing easier without anyone around to rebut.

Again, it plays to Russian tropes and drama. The man who could have caused the leadership a lot of problems is now conveniently a martyr. There’s a huge message in there too.

In Russia, the culture has two elements that shape more than many seem to realize. First, there is the idea that all people are corrupt and that therefore it is good to have Kompromat on everyone. The old KGB collected such on every member, both as a means of control at need and a means of knowing what enticed them. The concept of an honest person, one who actually obeys all laws and such, is a subject of laughter and concern. Laughter at the thought there is such a person. Terror that it could be true and of the damage someone like that could do to various systems.

There is also the mythos of the reluctant leader. Naked ambition is never a pretty thing, and in Russia such has needed to be cloaked in something a bit more palatable to the public. Stalin and pretty much every other leader have never stepped up because of ambition; rather, they had leadership thrust upon them and rose to the occasion. Noble. Even if ice axes were involved in the process.

Which brings us to Yevgeny Prigozhin. He’s been discussed a time or two here (see here for one) and so far seems to be holding his own in the current political warfare even though his Wagner group hasn’t done as well. He seems to have had a falling out with Vladimir, and Wagner is looking to refocus on Africa according to some reports. Worse, the quiet whispers extend far beyond Moscow as his ambition for higher leadership have become so obvious that it is being discussed. Discussion of such among an elite group is one thing. Discussion by the larger public is not.

Complicating this is, of course, Vladimir and his health. There are reports of body doubles, escape plans to China, and more. The idea of doubles has been around almost from the start, and I would not be surprised if such were not used. Not saying use is confirmed, just I wouldn’t be surprised if they were being used. To me, it is clear that his health woes are accelerating. Just look at all the video from Xi’s visit, much less his trip to occupied territory. The limp, the gait, and more are clearly visible. Vladimir has done all he could to hide issues before, for them to be seen openly is telling.

As a post-Vladimir world draws near, the scramble for the top seat is going to heat up. In fact, if this is true, some are already well into making plans and have violated a prime law of politics: everyone bad mouth’s the boss, but don’t get caught doing so. There are rumors of other fractures, and multiple people with ambition.

With the need to pull tanks from museums for the fight, Vladimir is increasingly left with only one option for shaking at the world: nuclear. This report indicates they are going to stop warning us of tests, which petulantly childish and foolish. Day ending in Y again.

Problem with that is, you can only push so far. RUMINT has been swirling for a while about issues in Russia’s nuclear weapons systems, including command and control. Note the push to the Yars system versus SARMAT/SATAN II, which was supposed to have replace all the SATAN I missiles several years ago. Add to it reports that an attempt to do a demo launch while Biden was in Ukraine failed. There is a lot of RUMINT out there, and I think we are on the mercy of either the twenty percent or even the ten percent.

People have noticed the rhetoric and at least a few appear to have looked at reality outside the bubbles that permeate Russian society and government. Such is not a help to Vladimir and his efforts to stay in control and start the building of the new Russkiy Mir. Politics and business are a blood sport in Russia, and I would expect to start seeing more blood in the days ahead.

Quick Aside: One reason for going for the older tanks is that they are easier to refurbish than the new. Most newer military vehicles, and not just Russian designs, require a lot of maintenance and if they’ve been in depot, even in the best of storage, they are difficult to bring back into operation. The longer they are stored, and the worse the conditions, I won’t use the word impossible but it does get very interesting. It’s something John Ringo gets into in his Black Tide Rising series.

On a more cynical note, I’m actually working on a contrarian argument in regards nuclear war. Picture Vladimir as Richard Dreyfuss’s character Alexander Dunning in the film RED, going “I’m the bad guy!” Yes, he is, and he want’s to hurt the West, not help us. Therefore, there is no way he is going to nuke DC, NYC, SF, LA, and other major cities. Right now, the politicians and bureaucrats there are doing more damage to the Republic that is the United States than Vladimir could with nukes. So, he is just going to continue to shake his head at the debauchery, and raise a toast to the damage being done.

On a more serious note, they are stepping up the nuclear rhetoric because it’s all they have right now. This was planned for three days. Funny how all the political plans for a short victorious war have rarely worked out throughout history.

There is unrest growing in Russia, which is why you are seeing stories like this, like this, like this, and like this. For all the propaganda and bluster, the word is getting out that all is NOT well. Which is making a lot of people nervous. Hence, the assassination of Vladlen Tatarsky who was a threat to share a lot of accurate information. Or to get people asking for that information.

I’m sure there will be more soon.

Some Thoughts On Twitter

No, I’m not joining the anti-Elon club, or going to moan and flounce over whatever allegedly outrageous thing he’s done this time. In fact, I will start by saying that Twitter is in many ways more fun than it has ever been from the start.

The first Twitter account I had was at the start, and once Twitter became a sewer I left. I rejoined around the last election, and between the manipulation and the still rampant CSE and other sewer elements, I left again. I rejoined when Elon started having an interest in it, and have laughed my fluffy fuzzy rump off at all that has gone on since he bought the non-profit. Unless he does turn things around, I’m going to say he got fleeced. I’m hoping he does turn it around, but some major unforced errors this week have me concerned.

Twitter has an amazing amount of untapped potential. Elon has talked about his desire to make it a true free speech platform, and a platform for citizen journalism. The problem is, either through sheer incompetence by staff, or some termites from the old regimes still being in the woodwork (embrace the healing power of and?), any trust or credibility in Twitter by independent journalists and non-corporate journalistic organizations took a heavy hit.

In short, a user posted an “interesting” graphic about the upcoming “Trans Day Of Vengeance” which also included calls for violence. This was done the afternoon/evening of the day Christian children and teachers were slaughtered by a trans person. Needless to say, the account, the graphic, and the calls for violence were quickly covered by journalists, lawmakers, and others. In a flashback to the old regime, Twitter censored and shut down the accounts of the journalists, lawmakers, and others.

The account that posted the graphic never got taken down or censored as far as I know. If it did, it’s news to me. The accounts that were shut down had to delete the offending posts that shared the graphic (mentioned?), not sure if they had to admit guilt and to be paraded through the public square like in the old days, but were warned of strikes and worse if they continued to offend. Twitter later said no strikes were issued, but right now no one truly trusts them given all the issues in the past. Twitter has massively squandered any trust and goodwill that was being built. Major unforced error.

It also demonstrated a lack of knowledge about real journalism. The graphic has to be shared as it is evidence. It is what allows people to view, consider, and then make up their own mind about it and the messages attached to it. It is even potential evidence in court. In short, it is important and to just yank it down along with all the stories covering and analyzing the situation was totalitarian censorship at its finest as well as complete ignorance of journalistic purpose.

I’m hearing that a number of independent journalists and organizations are putting plans to make more use of Twitter on hold. Some are being vocal about it, and others just read the posts from Twitter, and smile and nod nicely and politely without saying a word.

I was looking at doing some things to try to make better use of Twitter, expand my reach, and even make use of some paid features. That’s going on hiatus, because this time Twitter didn’t put a finger on the scales, they sat on it and screwed over most of the real journalists who use their service in the process.

Now, add to that a campaign against tweets that were deemed mean or insensitive to the cowards of Uvalde, which went on at the same time. Trust level, fucked.

Now, for me, there are two other issues.

First, Elon wants Twitter to be a happy, positive place where no one says mean or nasty things. If you say something someone could possibly consider mean, angry, etc., then you will get throttled. The thing is, free speech is quite often rough, vulgar, and uncouth by the standards of those who live in the clouds.

Twitter still seems to have a problem with not recognizing a real threat (‘I am going to kill you and your family’) particularly when it comes from a progressive or other protected class to a less protected class (see the JK Rowling saga for one example). If you suggest that someone should pleasure themselves with a rusty chain saw, sideways, well, they are going to be all over your ass in a nanosecond, particularly if you are not a member of a protected class. And even faster if the person to whom you make the suggestion is a member of the protected classes. One is a clear threat, the other hyperbole. Twitter still seems to be willfully and deliberately ignoring one and conflating the other.

Attempts to force “niceness” have never worked, and have historically led to massive censorship. Not the first time or place it’s been tried. It also ignores the fact that some ideas are so abhorrent or idiotic, that pure mockery (which is rarely polite) is the only response deserved. You may not like it, you may not like dark humor, you may not like mockery. Problem is, if you try to force nice and censor others, guess what you become? That very tyrant you claim to hate. You go right back to being the Twitter of yesterday.

Second, for myself and others with brain injury, traumatic brain injury, and some related conditions, many of the “improvements and upgrades” to Twitter, Tweetdeck, etc. suck. Big fat hairy warty ones even. I’ve been hearing that a number of others are not happy with the so-called improvements, but for people like me using the system has become a figurative and even literal pain.

Now, I have to say that after being hit by lightning I’m incredibly blessed as things could be a lot worse. My short term memory is fucked, though they tell me that the missing long-term memories are still there but the brain doesn’t know where the files are right now. When my brain finished healing in a few years, that may change. Who knows, but there are no guarantees.

Since being hit, I have learned about “distractions,” “attention success,” “attention lapses,” “CES,” and other joys. There are fancy and nice ways to describe what is going on, but a good analogy is that almost anything can cause my brain to go “SQUIRREL!!” and send my train of thought not only off the rails but out into the swamps. It’s why I have to live my life off flippin lists to get anything done. It’s why a story that used to take me thirty minutes to write can now take three flippin hours or more.

I loved Tweetdeck as it allowed me to arrange information into lists and columns that allowed me to reduce distractions and get the most out of my time on Twitter. New tweets? A simple graphic on the side. Want to get to the top and see the latest? You tapped home and away you went. New message? Again, simple graphic on the side.

Now? Pop-ups you can’t make go away. A useless message bar on the bottom that blocks viewing information when I already have a column for messages. Additions to my columns with suggestions, advice, and other crap I used Tweetdeck to avoid. Seems like every flippin thing is now a mouse-over and pop-up. Scroll too hard to get back to the home column, and you go backwards to a blank web page (that one may be one of the bugs being passed off by Brave as a feature, just like no longer being able to turn off mouse overs, to be fair to Twitter).

I’ve gone from a low/no-distraction environment to almost total distractions. Twitter is even worse IMO. So, I either have to spend a massive amount of time to deal with all the cognitive distractions (and the frustrations of same), or I can just spend less time on Twitter. Guess which way I’m going?

Yes, some of us did reach out and try to get this addressed. I will be polite and nice and just say we were ignored.

I really would like to see Elon get rid of the remaining termites and turn Twitter into a true bastion of free speech. Heck, I would like to see him develop it into the communications, payment, and development powerhouse it could be. That said, I’ve also lived through the destruction of the blogosphere by the walled gardens of social media that promised an easy way to put everything into one easy to manage basket.

I’m not going to put my eggs into one basket, no matter what. But, I’m also not going to put any eggs into a basket without a bottom, and right now that is Twitter. There is no trust and there are no guarantees that Twitter won’t pull the rug out from under you on a tweet, much less something larger. There are still far too many blocked accounts (Stacy McCain, cough, cough), and with more joining them because of capricious and indifferent actions by Twitter, you are eroding trust not building it. When you add in making it harder for people like me to use, there’s even less incentive to be involved.

This week was a return to old Twitter, and it will take a hell of a lot of work to build shattered trust. It can be done, and I hope it is, but I’m not going to continue to invest significant time, much less move to adopt any paid services, for now.

Catching Up

Yes, I’ve been off routine. Yes, I’ve been off posting. Things have been interesting. Time to catch up a bit.

Monday was another doctor day, this time with my GP. The first time I went to see him a few years ago, we got to joking around and as a result my lab results now come with a letter grade. Monday was an A-. Most of it was very good, but my triglycerides spiked. Hopefully, it boils down to my cheating a bit on keto and getting told to stop that.

Afterwards, decided to stop by the cigar store to check up on a few people, including the person with cancer for whom I asked for prayers. Did get to meet up with them and others, and while it’s rough the cancer is being fought. Hard. Got to see another who’s been having some health issues as well, along with just some of the regulars. Good to catch up. My budget does not miss smoking my cigars, but I do really miss the camaraderie. It’s not like I smoked a lot either, but good sticks tend to not be in the $3.99 bin… 🙂

Upon attempting to leave, the car wouldn’t start. No joy on jump with the jump pack from the battery store in the shopping center. No joy on new battery I bought at said store. Finally got it jumped in the most expensive jump I’ve ever had from the tow truck that was going to haul it to the mechanic for me. Kept it going, got to a different mechanic who was recommended, and he confirmed the alternator is dead/dying and I did make it home by keeping the RPMs up above 2000 for as much of the tip as possible as that got a little juice to the battery.

Taking it to the new mechanic tomorrow to get the new alternator installed. Just finished double-checking my fluid levels and getting the new battery out so I can charge it overnight. With that, and keeping the RPMs up at or above 2000 as much as possible, hope to make it.

On top of all those joys was the horrific school shooting. I’m beyond disgusted with corporate media and others trying to make the murderer the “real” victim in all this. Also with all those doing the “Christian children slaughtered, Trans community hardest hit” bullshit. And, no, I will not say the name. No attention, no publicity, no nuthin for that miserable despicable creature. I’m still looking for confirmation that the nine-year-old girl was shot because she was trying to pull the fire alarm to summon help. No greater love. If true, shades, a warrior walks among you.

I am watching things in Russia and elsewhere. On the fighting front, the battle with the beaver has been some much needed comic relief. Great play on the Texas Ranger motto: One trenchline, One beaver. Yes, a beaver has occupied a section of trench on the front, and so far is holding it against all comers. Go Beaver!

The storage unit insurance company also contacted me. The limit on the coverage means I’m getting less than a third the value, but it will be enough (I hope) to cover the car repairs. Need the car for just a bit longer, say a year or so. That, or I need to win the lottery so I can get a truck. For the record: I would rather have Flo back than the money, but so far no joy. I’ve called metal recyclers and others, and am trying to figure out where else I should look or call.

There’s more, but those are the major points. Hope to get back to regular posting here soon.

Be alert. Be prepared. Keep the essentials where you can find them in the dark at need.

Hate To Do This

For a number of years, I have volunteered time, expertise, and encouragement to individuals and groups involved with first time buyers of firearms. It has often been fun, and it is nice to help people get into responsible firearms ownership. The fact is, I think the more hard-targets out there, the better — particularly in minority communities.

As a part of that, I have offered my time to Pink Pistols/Operation Blazing Sword a time or two. I like and even admire what Erin Palette is doing there/trying to do. It is something that is needed. Let me be very clear: Erin and her organization are focused on defensive and lawful use.

Unfortunately, I now have concerns that any number of programs focused on defensive and responsible firearms ownership and use could be being exploited by those gaming the system to develop an offensive capability. As a result, I am stepping back from all organizations until matters are resolved and I can be more confident that efforts to game the system are being appropriately dealt with.

With everything that is going on, and the Trans Day of Vengeance coming up, I just want to say: Be Careful Out There. Be prepared, keep your head on a swivel, and your things where you can find them in the dark.

Complex Reality II

My post last week on Complex Reality did not go over well in some quarters. In fact, only David Strom at Hot Air got it at all, and his twitter thread was a good take. Much appreciated too. Several took me to task for failing to provide good counter-options to the Chamberlin Brigade and the War Brigade.

There are no good options to suggest.

Give me a moment here and let’s review a few things. There are indeed options, but none of them are what I would call good options.

First up, we would not be in the mess except for the fact that we have incompetent leadership. The Biden Regency is corrupt, incompetent, and unswervingly bent on ideological matters (fundamentally transforming America). Our military leadership is equally incompetent and all in on the religious conversion (on the religious aspect, see Glenn’s take here). We are well past the point any remaining competent GOFOs should have been putting stars on the table (and, honestly, even birds and bars). If any have, it’s not made the general run of RUMINT yet. The current lot of GOFOs couldn’t organize a drinking party in a distillery (yes, tempted to use a different analogy but the Pentagon is already one of the largest whorehouses in DC), and actually winning a war is not even on the table. Proper party indoctrination takes time and money, and, who needs a training budget anyway given they see time spent on struggle sessions as being far more important than actual combat training. Before I go on a rant about this and other things, here’s a point to consider: name me one thing of importance our so-called elites have been right about in the past year; the past three years; the past five years; or, the last ten years.

Then again, Russia has its problems too. Oligarchy and a system that puts a very different take on doing in the competition (and extends it to all walks and levels of life) tends to stifle innovation and competition. Corruption at all levels, and in all branches of service, tends to give you a military that can’t live up to the hype.

Add to it a leadership and population who absolutely believe that the West invaded them after the fall of communism and that they are literally at war with the West, and it makes the situation even touchier. This, and other memes, are often dismissed as propaganda by well-educated idiots in said West, but are the real cultural belief of a complex people who are not ‘just like us but speak funny.’ The roots of this really do go back to the Enlightenment, and to the decision to go with the German model rather than the British when the Czars (Czarina) decided to “modernize” Russia a few hundred years back. And, yes, the anti-British/anti-West roots of the modern Slavophile movement do go back that far.

Now, throw in this little ice water douche into the mix. The argument is often made we have no viable reason to support Ukraine as they are not a member of NATO, etc. Back when the Soviet Union fell, Ukraine suddenly found itself the third largest nuclear power in the world. For a number of reasons, pretty much nobody was happy with that, so the United States and other countries and entities stepped up to guarantee Ukraine’s safety if they gave up all those nukes. Now, the fact is we pretty much abrogated our responsibilities under those agreements back in the wake of the first Russian invasion. Yet, they do still bind us as a matter of honor. While honor is in short supply in political and military leadership around the world, it is something a country should be very careful about discarding completely. It takes generations to rebuild the trust that is lost, and as David and I discussed on Twitter, I don’t think we’ve got those generations.

The magic money press the Biden Regency is running flat out is flat out running us into the ground. We literally can’t afford to keep it running as the bills for that magic money are already past due. We also are facing shortages of critical weapons, as I noted last week. Beege Wellborn has been all over this on Twitter, and courtesy of an exchange she had, I suggest you read this and consider the following.

We are talking about years to decades (and if you want to see schedules slip, look at any military procurement schedule) to restock to peacetime levels. Way things are going, we don’t have that much time. We also need to be building up to wartime levels and training/recruiting to fight a two front war, as that is the quickest way to stop any number of aggressions. Right now, the Brits are facing running out of critical supplies in one day (HT Instapundit). I’ve been hearing for a while that we are looking at doing so in three days. I will simply note again (and again and again) that peacetime stocks are a joke, and anyone who tells you they are sufficient is also a joke.

A good solution to the current situation would be to cut spending, use the Defense Production Act for actual military supplies and needs, and supply actual arms to Ukraine with audit and oversight to ensure they don’t end up on the black market. The billions need to stop. At least from us. Oh, and we need to get back to training to win wars, not how to win a drag show.

That radical Jazz Shaw actually proposed something along those lines, with having other NATO members actually step up to their obligations. I think that’s a great idea, and Germany should take the lead. Then again, in some ways I’m a radical too.

Given our leadership, as well as theirs, that’s not going to happen. The Regency is fine with the billions and the money laundering. If you don’t think there is any, you might want to look at Sam the Scam and how many funds went into his crypto operation from Ukraine. Just a hint, but that’s the tip of the iceberg.

Until we can sustain what we are doing, we need to cut back on what is going to Ukraine. We need others to step up and match deeds to words when it comes to supplying arms and funds. Where there are roadblocks to them doing so, we need to remove those roadblocks if we can do so. This is not a good solution, but it is workable — sorta.

The fact is, if Vladimir and Russia are not stopped now, we are going to have a bigger problem later when they go after all the former republics. And, yes, they will do so. And go for even more besides. For all that many here deride Russkiy Mir as a joke, it is not such to the Russians. It is the blueprint for Slavophile redemption, and they will pursue it religiously unless they are unable to do so. I agree with Kamil Galeev that the only way that happens is if the Russian Federation breaks up or is broken up. On the latter, no “safe” way to do that and on the former odds are against it despite certain areas being restive in regards rule by Moscow. For all that China wants certain areas back, and Russia seems to be willing to risk the China trap (and Xi appears to be pulling out the stops to get Ukraine to fall completely into the Chinese Road trap), I wouldn’t count on external factors yet.

Quick aside for Zelensky: be careful, China will offer all sorts of loans and massive rebuilding for a fee. When you can’t pay, they seize and either retain — or sell it to Russian ownership. Just a hint, as even I can see that one coming.

Again, reality is complex and rarely subject to simple or simplistic solutions. There is not a good solution to the problem that is the Russian invasion of Ukraine. There are varying degrees of unpalatable solutions, none of which address many of the real if underlying issues at play. Trust me, if I spot what I think might be even a glimmer of a realistic solution to restore peace and prevent the next war, I’ll be shouting it from the rooftops. Until then…

Complex Reality

I’ve been watching both the Chamberlin Brigade and War Brigade go at it for the last few weeks, and shaking my head. We are well past the point where adult discussion is needed, but we also appear in no danger of such taking place anytime soon. Instead, there is a whole bunch of reeeeing within the Beltway involving Presidential politics while the American public outside the Beltway is just looking at those inside the beltway like the purple-clothed guy in the meme.

The Chamberlin Brigade is breathlessly touting peace-at-any-price because oh my stars we might have WWIII and it might go nuclear. No shit! Really? That was a possibility from the start, and Vladimir has played it to the hilt because that threat has worked for him on many levels and with far too many leaders. Let’s just say that when one world leader tells another he’s scared to death of nuclear war and will do anything to avoid it, it gives the other a tremendous amount of leverage. Especially when the one with the leverage knows that the other leader is a demented meat puppet who’s Regency is incompetent and more focused on day-to-day venality.

It also doesn’t help that quite a bit of the world remembers the guarantees made when Ukraine gave up the nuclear weapons on its soil. Those watching now know exactly what those guarantees were worth, and the quicksand on which current promises are made. Especially when one looks at the divisions within NATO. Particularly the division between those newer members who have been serious about their commitments and readiness, and those older states who have chosen to ignore those commitments and count on the United States to fund (directly and indirectly) their social programs and provide true defense for them. Particularly one member who rather cheerfully bet their whole future, energy and otherwise, on partnerships and other agreements with a known unfriendly power — and who’s companies continue to defy sanctions to provide that unfriendly power with tech and more. In regard that member, this is an interesting read. Of course, they are not alone on that and it is amazing the number of companies around the world cheerfully joining in on that short-sighted effort, including (apparently) some in the U.S.

The Chamberlin Brigade lives in the fantasy that since the U.S. is the major provider for the Ukraine, that it can impose an immediate cease-fire and settlement. That they can force Ukraine to cede territory, stop the fighting, and all will be well. Peace, light, joy, all joining together to sing Kumbaya, and cute fuzzy predators and prey frolicking peacefully together in the fields. This, of course, demands ignoring things starting with 2014 and going backwards. It also demands ignoring most world history of the last 300 or so years, especially the politics of the region.

The fact is, that even before Russkiy Mir, the Baltics, Poland, and others were inclined to look at Russian promises askance, if not flat out disbelief. They know very well what Russian promises of peace, of friendship, and other such things are worth. As it is, they have paid far more attention to the efforts to create the new Russian Empire than the over-educated idiots in DC who are far more focused on internal politics and empire building than in external affairs or even rudimentary competence. The memories of what it means to be a neighbor and then vassal of Russia linger, and the centuries do not dim them. Most have experiences far more recent, and if you want but one example ask an Estonian about the Soviet bombing of Tallinnn during WWII, and the interesting targeting of same. These are people who know in the marrow of their bones what any Russian peace or non-aggression pact or promise is worth.

They are also well aware of current Russian efforts to destabilize their countries. If you think Moldova is the only country where such efforts are underway, again I have a bridge for sale cheap. It even extends beyond the former client states, as seen here. All of the former Soviet-occupied countries are aware of such fifth columns, just as they are all aware of Russian intelligence and sabotage efforts, such as what was just broken up in Poland. This is all a rich tradition that goes back decades, and is far more extensive than many realize. Just look at Soviet involvement with the environmental movement, Greens, Green Party, etc. If it would destabilize the West and undermine the concepts of the Enlightenment, they were and are all-in.

The War Brigade is just as willfully short-sighted in their efforts. They see an “easy” proxy war fought under many of the same rules as Vietnam et al, not accepting that the world has changed a bit since then. Heck, or even since the proxy wars in Central and South America, some of which technically are still going. A good proxy war could last a long, long time and offer all sorts of opportunities for graft, money laundering, and other delights. That assumes that everyone is willing to play by the old rules, and Xi and others haven’t shown a particular desire to do so. Yep, bringing up Winnie the Xi as this is NOT just a regional conflict.

It is already WWIII on many levels, as the players extend far beyond just Russia and Ukraine. It extends well beyond the Baltics, Eastern Europe, and Scandinavia. It includes North Korea, China, Iran, and even a few others. Both the Chamberlin Brigade and the War Brigade are ignoring that reality for all they are worth. Just as they are humming and drumming their feet over the reality on the ground in the region. They are ignoring the fact that the Ukrainian people, not just their leadership, are pissed off and fighting the invasion. They are ignoring that the Baltics and others would rather slag their own countries than return to being any part of the new greater Russian empire. They are ignoring that the last time this was tried we went from less than a million dead to tens of millions dead in less than a generation. They ignore that peace-at-any-price has never worked at any time in history.

What is the answer? I don’t know. The worst long-term outcome is for the Chamberlin Brigade to win, as it guarantees a much worse bloodbath not too far in the future that is likely to include non-limited use of nuclear or other special weapons. The worst short-term outcome is likely to be if the War Brigade gets its way, as things may escalate in ways not anticipated. My take remains that if Vladimir can’t take Ukraine, he will make sure no one gets it via using the destruction of the nuclear plants to render it, and even parts of the Baltics, a wasteland. That it might do so to parts of Western Russia is just the cost of doing business.

Factor in that the U.S. can’t afford to keep sending billions of dollars and tons of weapons to the conflict. Our economy and banking system are a tottering house of cards. We have already sent critical stocks of multiple weapons/systems that will take us years to replace. If we got into a shooting war with a major power (cough, China, cough), we are like NATO in that we will be doing good to have three days of critical supplies. We are well below critical levels in a number of areas, and that fact has indeed been noted by our enemies. While there are some token efforts to boost production, at current levels it will take not years, but decades, to replenish peace-time stocks. Here’s a clue for free: peacetime levels are always massively below wartime needs. In peace, the beancounters rule and why maintain massive stocks when DIE and other nice-to-dos need funding? War requires massive amounts of stocks, unless you are willing to expend troops in place of munitions. Might want to ask the Russians how that’s working out for them. The War Brigade might also want to look at our falling recruitment and retention numbers, and may also want to look at the percentages of same going back a decade or so that involve actual combat troops and leaders.

My personal take remains that I hope Ukraine kicks Vladimir’s ass and gets back ALL their territory. Russkiy Mir needs to be stopped, not encouraged. I also still feel that this is not a fight that needs even one drop of blood from our troops. Our ability to continue to provide funds and war stocks to the Ukraine is already well beyond unsustainable. We can’t fight a one front war under current circumstances, much less a two-front war as called for. What is done and how do we do it? I don’t have an answer. Of those I’ve seen who say they do, reality doesn’t seem to be a factor in those plans.

There is more I wanted to get into today, such as demographics, the role of prison culture in Russian life and high-level politics, the Enlightenment and why Russia hates the British, and other factors, but the above is where my Muse led me. Tomorrow is not likely a day when I get to delve into any of those areas as it is a medical day. Joy.

In this, as in all of life, there are no easy answers. Beware anyone who tells you there are such. The best I can offer for now is to be prepared, be patient, keep your things where you can find them in the dark.

NOTE: If you need anything else to disturb your sleep, read this.

SVB And Other Thoughts

Since I’m still dragging, this may not be to my normal level of in the weeds, but we need to cover the current financial issues that start with SVB. Well, it really starts with the Federal Government and certain former members of same including Barney Frank, working hard to avoid or even roll-back provisions of Dodd-Frank. Yep, same person who helped regulate the banks worked against that same regulation while on the board of a bank that just got shut down. More on that in a bit.

First, let’s review some of the information out there. Start with this piece by Francis Turner guest posting at Sarah’s. Good overview, good links, and as always with something by Francis some good food for thought. One thing to add: anything by Francis is worth reading, as even if you end up disagreeing with his conclusion(s), you get a lot of food for thought and additional points for consideration.

When it comes to SVB, Signature Bank, and others, keep an eye on Hot Air, Instapundit, and on Twitter I’m finding Frog News/Frog Capital to be an interesting and occasionally contrarian take on things. Pretty much have to agree with David Strom that this was truly the dumbest take on SVB out there. Recommend reading the posts by Beege Welborn in chronological order. This post by the inimitable Stephen Green, and all the links in it, are well worth the read.

My short take is: against every rule, law, and promise, the Federal Government has stepped in to make everyone right in regards SVB, including Democrat megadonors, the Brit Twits, and others including the Chinese economy which was seriously impacted by SVB; the Signature Bank action is interesting since the trigger(s) for such actions did not appear to be reached and even Barney Frank himself noted that it might be related to the creation of a Federal Cryptocurrency; and, we are not done yet.

Is the U.S. banking system and economy in trouble: yes. Are there going to be a massive number of bank failures? Not at this time. Personally, I would be unsurprised if a few more U.S. banks did not go under. Where I expect to see more impacts are overseas, particularly if opposition prevents making fully right the Chinese investors and companies. The Brits seem to have acted to prevent serious issues there, for all that my thoughts about HSBC and their activities are not printable. Am I concerned about what is going on and could happen? Hell YES! All the more so since Jim Cramer has come out saying everything is going to be okay. If I had made investments by going against his recommendations, I’d be richer than Elon Musk right now.

I’m broke, so any investments I make are likely to be in canned goods and ammunition (joke for the humor impaired). If you do have an investment advisor, might not be a bad idea to talk with them about options for dealing with bad economic times. In other words, be prepared, be patient, and be careful.

Also, if you are working with or invested in ANY institution that is heavily into DIE, a la SVB and others, allow me to echo Kruge from Star Trek III: Get out! Get out of there! Get out! There is not a single institution involved or in trouble, including the Federal Government, that was not far more into DIE than into their fiduciary and regulatory responsibilities. Incestuously so in many cases. Seriously, look at where you have your money and if they are heavily into DIE, some thinking may be in order. This is not financial advice nor do I offer such. It is, however, a suggestion to think, get advice, and act in YOUR best interest at every level of your life.

Keep your eyes open, the important things where you can find them in the dark, and be prepared. Economically or otherwise, things are likely to get wild.

Update: BINGO!

Update II: Things are interesting and going to remain so. First Republic is in trouble, but also note the non-U.S. banks getting heat. Expect to see that accelerate.