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sf-bay-ocean-flag

The SF Bay Area.

As I am leaving the United States for an indeterminate period of time, now would likely not be a bad time to share some of my impressions of what is still, when all is said and done, an extraordinarily effective, dynamic, and successful nation.

It would be redundant to compare to simply compare it with the two other countries that I have extensive experience of – that is, Russia and the United Kingdom – because I have already done that, and at great length (the whole thing together runs to 37,000 words), in my 2011 series of posts Comparison of USA, UK, Russia:

Though some of my assessments will have inevitably changed since then, it would not (yet) be worthwhile to repeat this exercise today.

Instead, I will take a look at America as it was in space and time during the 2006-2016 time, especially relative to how it was perceived by West Europeans.

All the photos are my own.

***

America in Time: The Obama Decade

If I had to summarize the changes the US has undergone in the past 10 years in one short phrase, it would be the following: It has become a European country.

To see why this is so we must go recall the zeitgeist of the early 2000s.

The intellectual class on both sides of the Atlantic viewed Europe and America as two separate civilizations. America was a bunch of theocratic yahoo cowboys rampaging through the Middle East, while European intellectuals huffed about things like “pooled sovereignty” and “unity in diversity.” In Robert Kagan’s famous formulation, Americans were from Mars and Europeans were from Venus. Although Francis Fukuyama was an American, it was a frequent wisecrack that it was in fact the European Union that was leading the world to the “end of history,” while it was America that insisted on clinging on to the outdated rudiments of the traditional nation-state, which amongst other things were held to include: Guns, family, religion, patriotism, fertility, militarism, and a distinct lack of homosexualist hystrionics.

Perhaps the most quintessential case for this was made by T.R. Reid’s book The United States of Europe. He argued that the EU was emerging as a superpower rivaling the US, held together by an emerging “Generation E” of yuppies from Paris to Berlin (*soundtrack*) that saw themselves as Europeans first and were rapidly integrating through the trifecta of Eurovision, Erasmus scholarships, and Eurail (much more eco-friendly than the American Canyonero!).

That was ten years ago. Geopolitically, we now live in a world where the EU is in the midst of what might be a slow-mo disintegration, with the 2000s dreams of the Euro displacing the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency now taken up by the day to day emergencies of managing periodic fiscal crises and exit referendums. In contrast, the US withdrawal from Iraq and the shale oil revolution under Obama have vastly strengthened its geostrategic position. So it is extra ironic that it is the cheese-eating surrender monkeys who are today the most active at pushing the now recalcitrant cowboys into new Middle East military adventures. After all, it was Sarkozy who provided the main thrust in favor of the Libyan intervention, and his successor, the socialist Hollande, responds to terrorist attacks by renewing calls for the ouster of… Syria’s secular President. And if you had told a Bush-loving Republican in 2003 that their party was now the anti-war party, at any rate relative to HRC’s Democrats, then his head would have exploded.

freedom-of-speech-pew-poll

Culturally, the crazy evangelicals of yesteryear have been displaced by equally sanctimonious SJWs as the prime exporters of American inane drivel to the outside world. This is not something I noticed until just a few years ago, as I was finishing my last university course, when an SJW harangued an anthropology professor for not including a “trigger warning” before showing a clip from a spoofy 1950s scifi B-movie about Neanderthals (the whole sad and funny affair: Triggered by Neanderthal Man).

But it should not have come as too much of a surprise, because this was merely the results of shifting public sentiment making themselves felt on the far right hand side of the “social justice” quotient bell curve. Whereas support for free speech – that is, the ability to make potentially offensive statements about minorities – is almost universal amongst older Americans, millennials are converging to European norms in this respect; some 40% think government should be able to restrict such speech.

In much of Western Europe, this is the norm. One of the few ways in which the US is actually genuinely exceptional is in its support for freedom of speech. In Europe, the sweeping protections afforded by The First Amendment are seen as undesirable, or even as a sign of backwardness. Though we (that is, Americans) might commisserate with the latest poor bastard in Europe fined or locked up for posting a rant against refugees on Facebook, the banal fact is that those laws appear to enjoy the support of most Europeans according to just about any opinion poll. I recall a poll showing that even most Front National supporters in France are okay with laws against hate speech. And most likely the US will continue “converging” towards that. After all, today’s campus Pink Guards will be ruling over the country in another generation, while Trumpland is dying and getting replaced by the mulatto-gamer underclass.

This is reflective of a more general leftwards shift in America during the past decade. Let’s take U.C. Berkeley. It has a proud tradition of sticking it to the Man, or rather of not letting the machine operate. There is a bookshop called Revolution Books near Telegraph Avenue. Bob Avakian’s Maoist cultists pop up to give a lecture every so often (and even get an audience). Now the student body is nowhere near as Leftist as popular culture makes it out to be, but still, it’s safe to say that the #BasementDwellers are a solid majority there.

spirit-of-2011

Stick it to the Man! 2011 protest against tuition fee rise.

99-revolutionAgitation.

99-leader

Me in front of the 99%.

All of this was mildly transgressive in five years ago. But you can’t shock or “trigger” the Man with such antics nowadays. You now have to go hardcore:

spirit-of-2016

Alt Right Safe Space @ Berkeley, 2016. Aloof shitlord looks on smugly upon a triggered Antifa activist.

I am aware, of course, that Berkeley is hardly representative of America, but still, general trends do tend to get reflected at both the tails and the middle. And it’s undeniable that in this sense too American politics has become much more reminscent of the European norm.

Traditionally, you have the moderate liberal (Democrats) and the oligarchic conservative (Republican) wing facing off each other.

But in 2016 the traditional bipolar system of American politics splintered. The European-style Social Democracy represented by the Bernie Sanders movement and the neoliberal wing of Hillary Clinton now contend for leadership of the Democratic party. Meanwhile, the traditional alliance of the oligarchs, the evangelicals, and ‘Murica! patriots has been shattered by the ascendacy of nationalism channeled by Donald Trump. Both the Democrats and the Republicans now have unprecedented numbers of “dissidents” in the form of the Berniebros and the #NeverTrump’ers, respectively.

This diversification of politics is of course typical for Europe. As Leonid Bershidsky noted, a true multiparty system in the US would divide the political system into five distinct blocs: Clinton democrats, Sanders socialists, Rubio/Bush moderate conservatives, Cruz Bible-bashers, and Trump nationalists. It would also, barring major changes in voter alignment, keep “dangerous” nationalist candidates out of power; for instance, the Front National in France seems to be essentially capped at 30% of the popular vote. It is in some ways hugely ironic that it is the Electoral College system, considered by many political scientists as a system that favors moderate candidates, might now become the biggest enabler of the emergence of a truly nationalist (or socialist) leader of not just a major Western nation but of the major Western nation – and perhaps also represent the last chance for America to escape its Brazilification in the coming century.

For a long time the US has had a reputation as a very religious country. Up until the 2000s, belief in God in the US was almost universal, whereas wide swathes of Europe are either agnostic, “spiritualist,” or in the case of East Germany and Estonia, outright atheist. This started changing, and very fast, by the 2010s, especially amongst millennials. Whereas disbelief in God was a mere 4% in the 1990s and the early Bush years, according to the World Values Survey, but by 2010-2014 it had soared to 11%, which is close to the level of Spanish unbelief in the 1990s. (Incidentally, Unz Review commenter Lazy Glossophiliac noted that today Spaniards give the “leftiest, cuckiest answers” in many international public opinion polls. A harbinger of America’s future?). Between 2007 and 2014, the share of unaffiliated increased from 16% to 23% in the US, including a doubling in outright atheism (albeit from a very low base).

Another element of America’s Europeanization was the surge in support for gay marriage, which with its legalization now makes America more “progressive” on this question than Merkel’s Germany (which up to now only has civil partnerships). Throughout the 2000s, the most conservative US states were about as “homophobic” as Russia; today, almost half of Mormon Utah supports gay marriage. Nowadays US officials proclaim that “human rights are gay rights and gay rights are human rights” with the zeal of the converted to the slack-jawed yokels that haven’t yet gotten the memo.

Ergo for drugs. Marijuana is now legal or decriminalized in about half of the US states, which is a similar proportion to that in the European Union.

Whereas much of Europe has been very liberal since the 1980s, it has if anything started going in the other direction in the past decade. For instance, it was long typical for French women to go topless at the beach for a generation now, but this has started becoming rarer, especially amongst the youngest cohorts. Different reasons have been proposed, from the politically correct (more smart phones with cameras) to the less so (ogling Muslims). Or maybe the liberated women of the 1960s had fewer daughters than modest Catholics. Whatever the case, millennial Americans and Europeans are converging – from opposite directions – on their degree of social liberalism.

gun-fired

At least there’ll still be guns. Maybe. My favorite is the Beretta M9, better than any of the Glocks IMO. Also the Desert Eagle is very overrated.

There is convergence in corruption. During the 2000s, there was an impression that the EU (if not national European governments) had cleaner, better institutions than the US, at least according to the intellectual talking class. Though they might have had a point. It was the “heckuva job, Brownie!” of Bush’s America versus the EU’s torpedoing of GE chairman Jack Welchs’ attempts to flout antitrust regulations through a big merger, thus frustrating a man who had always gotten his way in the US by calling up the right people. But today senior EU officials are openly bought up by Goldman Sachs. Whatever edge the EU might have had in this respect in its halcyon days has surely disappeared.

All these trends are even reflected in a sort of demographic convergence. Peaking in 2007, American fertility rates have since dropped from 2.1 children per woman to 1.8 children per woman (0.1 children lower for non-Hispanic Whites). France is now significantly higher. I wonder what Mark Steyn will make of that! On the other hand, in the space of a couple of insane years, Europe has essentially doubled the size of its prospective future NAM underclass with Merkel’s decision to throw Europe’s doors open to “Syrian” “refugees.” While America’s longterm transformation into La Raza Cosmica is now all but inevitable – a development already reflected in these elections, in which at the risk of triggering pretty much everyone I will note that both HRC and Trump are both ultimately very Latin American-style politicians – Europe has likewise made its longterm transformation into Eurabia move from the realm of nativist alarmism to something resembling an actual possibility.

Though I suppose all things considered I suppose that life will be better in the country of La Raza Cosmica than in Eurabia.

***

americana

America in Space: Country Review

This next section is a series of snapshots of the US during the time I’ve been here.

san-francisco-karlin

 

San Francisco.

San Francisco – 8/10

The Bay Area is where I spent most of my time in the US. It is pretty much ideal, even if that also makes it by far the most expensive macro-region of the US.

It is also the second major intellectual center of the US after the North-East – and perhaps the most quirky and creative one.

This is reflected in the sheer number of idiosyncratic and interesting groups and people that make this region their home from futurists to food optimizers.

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AK talking about cliodynamics, February 2014.

Futurists/Transhumanists

The focal point of global futurism and transhumanism, from the large scale to the small. Here is just a very partial list:

  • Health Extensions Salons – Bring the latest research to the public.
  • Hank Pellissier’s Brighter Brains conferences on futurism and intelligence (I got the idea of Apollo’s Ascent thanks to being the speaker at one of them).
  • All sorts of magazines and journals: KurzweilAI; H+ magazine; transhumanity.net; etc.
  • Scott Jackisch’s Bay Area Futurists – Weekly meetup.
  • MIRI (Machine Intelligence Research Institute) – Solving out the values alignment problem (or in plainspeak trying to figure out how to prevent computer superintelligence from killing us all). Highly mathematical!
  • Mike Johnson’s Qualia Research Institute – would ems actually have consciousness?
  • An informal group of psychonauts exploring the “qualia-states” of LSD.
  • The undisputed center of the “rationality” movement – CFAR, LessWrong, Effective Altruism.
  • Calyco and 23andme
  • Alcor in neighboring Nevada.

Reaction

To be sure, all the above are “tilted” towards the reigning globalist ideology – suffice to say that in the recent gubernatorial elections, the two most popular candidates were both ethnic minority female Democrats – but even in the world of conservative political theory California has far more weight relative not just to its heartlands in “flyover country” but even to the ossified dinosaur think-tanks of Conservatism Inc. within the Beltway.

Here is a recent article on this from The American Interest: How the Golden State Became the Intellectual Capital of Trump’s GOP.

trump-effective-altruism

An effective altruist Trumpist? Me at EA Global 2016.

Many of its characters will probably be familiar to many of you – Ron Unz, Steve Sailer, Razib Khan (who is leaving), and for that matter, your humble servant.

It is also, of course, the major focal point for neoreaction, hosting the NRx founder Mencius Moldbug himself, the Thiel network, a good percentage of the “techno-commercialist” faction in NRx and the Future Primaeval blog, and social gadflies such as Michael Anissimov and Rachel Haywire.

Although B.W. Rabbit is based in Arizona, it is also curious to note that the great bulk of the “Alt Left” movement – the tiny group of thinkers combining leftist economics with HBD, sane views on gender relations, and a penchant for futurism – such as Robert Lindsay and Robert Stark also make their home in the Golden State.

Food Optimization

On a side note, even the two biggest interest new trends (or fads) in food – the paleo diet and meal replacements – are based in California.

Mark Sisson, Dave Asprey, and Chris Kresser, all of them very prominent paleo advocates, live in California.

It is also home to Soylent and many other Silicon Valley meal replacement companies (I first tried out MealSquares before they went into mass production at a party hosted by a futurist/NRx figure).

Vibram shoes are a California product, as is their most prominent advertiser, Tim Ferriss.

Final Comments

Now to be sure, none of this is meant to be an endorsement of any of the above groups and ideas – though I do think that some of them are extremely legitimate and important, some others have a distinct whiff of quackery about them (in particular I am extremely skeptical about meal replacement).

Still, this is a very formidable concentration of very strange and interesting characters that you probably won’t be able to find nigh anywhere else.

swordsman-karlin

Recreating late medieval swordfighting techniques in Mountain View.

fort-russ-karlin

Fort Ross – Russian outpost in California in the early 19th century. A net drain on the treasury, its last governor Alexander Rotchev attempted to get Mexico to recognize it as Russian territory, which Mexico only offered to do in exchange for Russia’s recognition of its recent independence; Nicholas I refused, and so it was sold to incoming Anglo settlers. Makes for a fascinating 20th century what-if scenario had NorCal become Russian territory.

Favorite restaurants in Berkeley:

  • House of Curries (Berkeley) – On College Avenue. Favorite Indian. Had a couple of other Indian favorites, but they’ve since closed.
  • Great Wall (Berkeley) – Chinese
  • Mount Everest – Nepali (esp. the Himalayan garlic butter soup)
  • Chez Panisse – Huge in the world of cooking, with a price tag to match. But worth visiting at least once.
  • Mission Heirloom – One of the first “paleo” restaurants, inc. Bulletproof Coffee.
  • Favorite cafes: Lindgren’s, Spasso, and A Cuppa Tea.

Perhaps the biggest problem “everyday” problem in the SF Bay Area is public transportation. East Coast cities, primarily populated during the Age of Rail, are pretty good at this; the new cities of the American West and South, children of the Age of the Automobile, are nigh unlivable if you don’t have a car. San Francisco emerged at the intersection of those two periods, and with a public transport system to match: It exists, but it’s not that great. BART has long wait times, looks dilapidated, and is constantly wracked by strikes even though its employees are extremely well compensated.

Los Angeles – 5/10

los-angeles

Not really into the world of fashion and entertainment so it doesn’t have much for me. That said, I did greatly enjoy the Universal Studios theme park – had no idea prior to this that anyone had combined 3D movies with physical motion, so that was a very awesome and novel experience. If all films were shown like that I’d visit the cinema more than twice a year.

The Hollywood sign is one of those things that you only visit to tick off an item on the bucket list.

The city’s Armenian community is pretty visible, though that was likely due to me having made my longest visit there on the centenary of the Armenian genocide.

San Diego – 7/10

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Visited for one day. I liked the aircraft carrier.

Las Vegas – 7/10

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At the poker tables.

One of the few places you can visit just for the hotels:

  • Paris – 7/10
  • Luxor – 7/10
  • Bill’s Gamblin Hall – 8/10
  • Orleans – 6/10
  • Stratosphere – 8/10

Best morning breakfast place ever: Crepe Expectations.

Disappointment: Bachannal Buffet at Caesar’s.

I found that the easiest tables out of all the places I visited were at the Luxor, though ironically I lost the most money there (but regained it and considerably more at The Stratosphere).

Housing is very affordable in Vegas, so there is a category of young get-rich-quick types who swot up on the theory, rent a place, and discuss the “fishiest” places by day before going out to the casino with a big delegation of visiting Arabs during the night.

vegas-karlin

Stratosphere Insanity ride.

Very colorful city. Even the homeless are much more creative than usual: “Kick me in the nuts for $20.” “Why lie I need $$$ for booze and burgers.”

That said, I suspect I’d get bored there if I had to stay longer than a couple of months.

California – 8/10

Overall, I do think California, especially NorCal, is the best state – lots of things going on (see above), and a stunning variety of climes to choose from, all within driving distance, from the sun-drenched coasts of Santa Barbara to the slopes of Tahoe and beyond.

The exception is Sacramento. It has a nice railways museum, but otherwise it’s a desert dump full of politicians and crazy Ukrainian Baptist sectants many of whom somehow came to the US in the 1990s (I was once driving with a woman and she wouldn’t put on a seatbelt on the logic that God would look after her. I did convince her otherwise by the following logical argument: “But what if God happens to be looking away at a particular moment?”).

I don’t know if this will be the case indefinitely; the demographics suggest not, not just in terms of immigration but also emigration (noticed many of my peers going to places such as Colorado, North Carolina, and even Austin).

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Summer Sea (Santa Barbara).

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Winter Mountain 1.

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Winter Mountain 2.

The Mountains – 7/10

I visited most of the Mountain states – Utah, Montana, Colorado, etc. – though just as a tourist, so my impressions aren’t exactly representative.

mountain-karlin-2

Tahoe.

Still, they seemed to be very civil, high S factor communities – the sort of high-functioning communities you tend to get when you combine Anglo institutions with German human stock. In one Montana town, a stranger offered us a ride to a bar that was rather beyond walking distance in the cold and gloom; afterwards, it emerged he was also the Mayor.

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Black slopes – Marx and Lenin. As I recall, they were just opposite of a super-elite resort that only accepted skiers. Probably not entirely coincidental?

Amtrak

This is a genuine national treasure that rather few Americans seem to appreciate (apart from the Amish, who account for up to a quarter of all passengers when traveling around Pennsylvania).

But thanks in part to government subsidies, a transcontinental rail journey is still possible, and that is exactly what I did in 2013.

railway-americana

There are viewing cabs for when the landscape is interesting.

beer-kindle

… Cheap beer and ebooks when it is not.

Seattle – 5/10

seattle

Clean, anodyne, hipsters but employed, Space Needle, that tunnel “decorated” with gum.

Famously has the world’s first Starbucks (the only one with uncensored nipples), less famously has the Piroshky Piroshky bakery (I still recall the smoked salmon pie).

By far the most interesting thing about it was my visit to the Boeing Everett Factory just north of Seattle. It is possible to just stand on a platform and look down on the workers “toiling” in the vast space below – apostrophes because the actual pace of work seemed to be very lackadaisical. As I recall only perhaps a quarter of them looked like they were actually doing something concrete. Many others were just wandering up and down, chatting with their coworkers, drinking coffee. No uniforms. Definitely not how I imagined the place. But it might well be that this kind of approach is more efficient – after all, American manufacturing workers are some of the most productive in the world (far above what their levels of human capital would seem to indicate).

Portland – 6/10

Not so clean, very rainy, and the hipsters are less employed and have more tattoes (one of them is Stalin’s granddaughter). On the upside, it’s a major beer and whiskey center, and they love their guns.

Chicago – 7/10

chicago

The Heartland: Cheap, walkable with antique-like metro system (the first in the US), home of the skyscraper, simple working class types with fewer hipsters, vibrant nightlife.

Urban area in the center was renovated, the strong rustbelt impression – cracked pavements, crumbling bricks, rusted waterside – given off as the train arrives to the contrary. Third biggest city in the US, but much cheaper than either SF or New York.

Main difference relative to the West Coast is already visible: African-Americans replace Asians as most visible minority, though Hispanics also becoming very visible (smoked weed with a group of Mexicans). Met an online friend there who was quite happy with life in the Windy City.

Pittsburgh (Rustbelt?) – 3/10

pittsburgh-grim

Pittsburgh 2013 – patriotic poster by a deserted potholed road. Looks like a scene from a Michael Moore movie.

Touching Appalachian greenery interspersed with scenes of industrial decay and ads exhorting you to sign up with the Imperial Guard.

All in all, about as appealing as a provincial Russian town (i.e. not very).

That said, I did meet up with and have a very good conversation with one particular Russia blogger, who was then at the University of Pittsburgh.

Washington DC – 5/10

washington-dc

Al Jazeera bus.

Downside: A swamp, not just metaphorically but literally.

Upside: I did actually like the grotto-like metro system, which has a certain brutalist charm. Tons of museums, embassies, think-tanks, historical monuments, political goings on, and of course good restaurants for all the politicians and lobbyists.

Two are of particular note:

  • Russia House – The best Russian restaurant I’ve ever been to. (Full disclosure: Owned by Edward Lozansky, who invited me to D.C.).
  • Rasika – Two words: Palak chaat.

I recounted my trip to Washington D.C. in more detail here: The World Russia Forum 2013

New York – 7/10

new-york-ship

New York.

One of the worst metro systems ever – many delays, rats scurrying about. Obeying traffic laws is optional. But lots of excellent museums, as befits America’s first metropolis, and of course Broadway; a visit to a play is incumbent on any one-time visitor.

new-york-2

Central Park.

new-york-nightlife

Nightlife is …mediocre.

Boston – 5/10

boston

Too clean, too civilized.

Also having lived in Britain it’s impossible to be impressed. The 18th century architecture is viewed as “historic” in the US, as are the pubs, but they are entirely typical in Britain, even in “industrial” towns like Birmingham or Leeds.

The Boston of Fallout 4 is an improvement on the current one.

That said, I was only there for one day, with no chance to visit any of the historical museums, so I can’t say I got the full impression of it.

***

 
• Category: Humor • Tags: Review, The AK, Travel, United States 

The TIMSS 2015 results for math and science are out and the results are pretty predictable.

All the data can be conveniently downloaded from here: http://timss2015.org/download-center/. See also Steve Sailer’s post from yesterday.

Math (8th grade)

timss-2015-math

Science (8th grade)

timss-2015-science

An extension of Heiner Rindermann’s observation on the differences between the two major international standardized tests – namely, that PISA is more a test of general intelligence, while TIMSS loads more heavily on specific curricular knowledge (Rindermann 2015) – is that the difference between the two can be used as a rough proxy for the quality of school systems.

After all, raising general intelligence through special schooling methods is well nigh impossible, but it is possible to teach how to do fractions properly. As I pointed out back in 2013:

However, a second possibility is that the PISA-TIMSS/PIRLS gap is a proxy for differences in the quality of educational systems. It is more feasible to prepare for the TIMSS/PIRLS than it is for PISA, which is closer to an IQ test and is, as such, more difficult to improve through policy interventions. It is nowadays fashionable to lambast the ex-Soviet and East Asian school systems for “rote learning,” “stifling creativity,” and whatnot. However, the data shows that under these systems, pupils perform well above the levels they “should” as indicated by their underlying IQ levels. Meanwhile, in places where “creativity” and “self-expression” are given full bloom, where science lessons focus on the evils of plastic bags in between sermons on LGBT appreciation and the progressiveness of Islamic civilization, academic performance is somewhat less than what might expect based on the local students’ apparent IQ levels.

The ex-USSR countries do not have particularly high IQs by developed European country standards – Russia itself is at around 97 – but it is nonetheless the best performing non-East Asian country in the TIMSS math test, and second after Slovenia in science. Kazakhstan comes just after Russia in math, which is highly impressive given that ethnic Kazakhs have an average IQ of just 82 relative a British mean of 100 (Grigoriev & Lynn 2014).

The Scandis are the opposite in this respect – pretty respectable native general intelligence, but much poorer than expected scholastic results. In the last TIMSS, only around 15% (sic!) of Swedish and Finnish 8th graders were able to do basic fractions. Normally I would have a hard time believing this, but the source was impeccable, and the horror stories about Swedish schools I’ve heard from Swedish acquaintances makes me willing to give credence to such results.

The East Asians get the best of both worlds, and for all the criticism directed at the education system in both the US and England – especially the marked Finland worship you get after every round of PISA – they do pretty solidly as well.

As per usual, the results from Africa and the Arabs are hopeless. As an an Arab Gulf State bigwig once said, “My grandfather rode a Camel, my father rode a Camel, I drive a Mercedes, my son drives a Land Rover, his son will drive a Land Rover, but his son will ride a Camel.”

 
• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Education, Intelligence, TIMSS 

Transparency International has released the Global Corruption Barometer 2016 for Europe:

transparency-international-gcb-2016-bribery-in-europe

The map above shows the answer to the most interesting question in the survey: “Did you or any member of your household make an unofficial payment or gift when using [a public service] over the past 12 months“?

In the last survey from 2013, at the height of the kleptocratic Yanukovych regime, that figure was 37% in Ukraine.

In this survey, it was 38% – the same as in Uganda.

In other words, more than three years after the beginning of the “Revolution of Dignity,” there has been absolutely no appreciable decline in corruption in Ukraine.

This is, incidentally, confirmed by other figures (earlier I posted a poll showing the bribery rate increasing from 37% to 40% between 2014 and 2015).

But what can one expect? What Westerners don’t get is that is that Maidanist Ukraine’s commitment to transparency is one big fat cargo cult. But what else can you expect in a country where “activists” turn up to “anti-corruption forums” in Lexuses and Mercedes? Where the physical symbol of the previous regime’s corruption, a golden loaf, went missing soon after the “revolution”? In a country that overthrew one kleptocrat and replaced him with a post-Soviet oligarch and one of the godfathers of Ukrainian clan politics?

To be sure, Russia with its 34% bribery rate (equivalent to Cote d’Ivoire), the joint-third worst in Europe after Moldova and Ukraine, has nothing to write home about either. It is a disturbing indication that there have been no improvements in everyday corruption during Putin’s time in power.

But at least Russia didn’t wage a war against its own people in the name of Poroshenko’s frescoes, oops, I meant “European values.”

But anyway – commenting on the map in general, the results are very much as expected based on country stereotypes and other subjective rankings like the CPI. That said, it’s worth nothing that Greece has made significant progress – whereas in 2013, 22% of Greeks had paid bribes, this year only 10% did.

 
• Category: Economics • Tags: Corruption, Russia, Ukraine 

world-chess-grandmasters-2016

Based on FIDE stats as of 2016.

Without doing any complicated analysis it’s pretty clear that the main three factors are:

  1. National IQ – Though not absolutely critical, possibly because the correlation between chess skill and IQ is only a moderate r=0.35. (Grabner 2013)
  2. Not East Asian – They focus on go instead, where the best performing Westerner is the American Michael Redmond, in 595th place. The Chinese also focus on xiangqi (Chinese chess).
  3. Communist legacy – The USSR invested so much cognitive capital into chess that Bobby Fischer was obliged to learn Russian just to get at the bulk of the world’s top-tier chess literature.

karjakin-crimea-ours With the collapse of Communism and the advent of computer chess, the influence of the last factor can be expected to gradually fade away. But that doesn’t seem to be happening. Of the world’s top 10 juniors, six are East Europeans, and the prime challenger to Norwegian world champion Magnus Carlsen – now about to play the tiebreaker after a 6-6 stalemate in previous games – is Sergey Karjakin, a Crimea native (and quite the “Crimea is Ours” vatnik, to Kasparov’s evident chagrin).

(Incidentally, Boris Rozhin – better known as “Colonel Cassad,” the famous pro-Novorossiyan military analyst – is a regional chess champion of Crimea, with an Elo rating of more than 2300).

Of the world’s 1,541 grandmasters as of November 2016, only 33 are women. This 2.1% figure is remarkably identical to Charles Murray’s finding that 2.2% of the world’s most significant scientific and artistic figures were women. Last year, British GM Nigel Short got into trouble with The Guardian crowd for suggesting it might be due to biological factors.

 
• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Chess 

The entire rigmarole around “fake news” is very curiously timed.

So far as I’m aware the general “theory” behind it was primarily developed in the past year or so by Peter Pomerantsev and Edward Lucas under the aegis of the Legatum Institute. Edward Lucas is a Russophobe even by the standards of Economist journalists (suffice to say that he seriously compares Putin to Sauron). Peter Pomerantsev is a journalist with a very murky biography who emerged seemingly out of nowhere to become a hugely influential voice in the Russia debate as a propagator of the “post-fact”/”post-truth” meme. In their August 2016 report “Winning the Information War,” they went so far as to suggest Islamist deradicalization programs as a template for dealing with “radicalized, pro-Kremlin supporters, those on the far left and the far right, and Russian speakers.”

In the past couple months, impartial arbiters of the truth like Facebook – the same company that was recently found to have censored conservative news source from its news feed – have seized upon and ran with this theme. The same media outlets that cheered on the Iraq War now wax lyrical about “post-truth politics.” The German bloc in the EU – the most prominent outpost of Atlanticism in our new Trumpist world – has spearheaded the adoption of an EU resolution against Islamic State propaganda and Russian information warrior (adopting wholesale the equivalence proposed by Lucas and Pomerantsev).

The latest prominent example is an “expose” of fake news sites by the Washington Post, one of the most widely shared articles on the planet in recent days that garnered accolades and RTs from hundreds of prominent journalists. Ironically for an article about fake news, their source is a group of (completely anonymous) “researchers with foreign policy, military and technology backgrounds” on a website with a private WHOIS profile and no detailed explanation of their methodology but who do want the FBI and DoJ to investigate the sites on their list for pro-Russia espionage. (Yes, The Unz Review makes the cut).

I am getting the distinct impression that this is a very well planned information operation that was that was meant to kick into high gear upon Hillary Clinton’s election, perhaps in conjunction with the “Russia bombed The Last Hospital in Aleppo” meme to set up the groundwork for a showdown in Syria (there are hints that this is indeed what Hillary Clinton was planning upon assuming the Presidency).

Given the extensive ties of Western intelligence services with MSM editors, as claimed by whistleblowers such as Udo Ulfkotte and Paul Barril, and the CIA’s allegiance to the “blue empire,” the direct involvement of Western intelligence services cannot be excluded.

But Trump threw a yuuuge! spanner into the works. The operation continued, carried along by inertia, but just as a snake that has had its head cut off it, its strikes became disjointed and flailing, unable to accomplish much. Hopefully we will just have to wait long enough to avoid getting accidentally bitten by the dismembered head before Trump clears out the trash and the Europeans get the memo that a new sheriff is in town.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Conspiracy Theories, Russia, Western Media 

On November 23 the European parliament adopted a non-binding resolution on fighting Islamist propaganda and “information warfare” against the EU.

I was surprised too but no, apparently by that they didn’t have in mind jihadist shill Julian Roepcke, and the Lügenpresse that did more than anyone else to discredit the EU by remaining silent on the Rape of Cologne for days after the event.

Just kidding. It was predictable as clockwork. Of course Russia is to blame.

Anyhow, here is a map on how the vote went:

eu-votes-against-socalled-fake-russia-news

The geographic distribution is quite curious – it correlates almost perfectly with the German sphere of influence (as estimated by the German Foreign Office a decade ago).

germany-sphere-of-influence

The North German empire – now, after Trump and Brexit, perhaps the world’s standard-bearer of Atlanticism – and its quasi-satellites have the most decidedly anti-Russian positions. Notably, Fidesz is part of this grouping, for all the alarmed rhetoric about Orban as Putin’s Trojan horse in Europe.

Instead, the real division in Europe, in attitudes towards Russia as in economics, is between the Hanseatic North and the Roman core – Orthodox Greece and Cyprus, Italy (about to vote “No” in their referendum and land the next big blow against globalism), France (where the two leading candidates for the Presidency are both notable pro-Russian), and Bulgaria (which recently replaced its Russophobe President).

What makes this all the more ironic is that throughout his reign Putin has devoted the most attention to and expressed the warmest attitudes to Germany.

He should have paid more attention to what his own favorite philosopher, the “fascist” Ivan Ilyin, wrote on the matter more than half a century ago: “We must part with sentimental illusions. After the Bolsheviks, Germany is the main enemy of Russia… It is an instinctive dream of several German generations – to move to the East and [to] transform it into a “historical pile of manure” – cannot and should not be considered now extinct: It will be reborn as soon as the right political conjuncture appears.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Germany, Propaganda 

cuba-economic-performance

In the 1950s, in terms of GDP per capita, Cuba was at the level of Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Mexico, Portugal, Greece, and Spain (!), and considerably above Brazil and the Dominican Republican.

Today, it is far behind all of them, having dropped from 20% of US GDP per capita then to just slightly more than 10% today.

So it’s pretty clear that its economic record under Communism was pretty disastrous, though not a complete outlier in the region. The two other big underperformers are Argentina and Haiti. Argentina is somewhat infamous as the only major country to go from First World to developing country living standards over the course of the 20th century, plummeting from 70% of US GDP per capita to less than 30% by the turn of the millennium. The other example is Haiti – that slice of Sub-Saharan Africa in the Americas – which has declined not only in relative but absolute terms over the past half-century.

That said, when Castro made the decision to adopt the Marxist-Leninist model, it had not yet dawned on the popular consciousness that central planning was fundamentally inefficient, so one can’t be too judgmental about that.

The Cuban economy was massively subsidized by the Soviet Union during the Cold War, which bought its sugar at artificially inflated prices – though much of that money was in turn frittered away by the Cubans in their African adventures, which did not benefit ordinary Cubans in any way apart from in the form of some vestigial goodwill from foreign progressives. Once those Soviet subsidies dried away from the late 1980s, the Cuban economy started collapsing. (In 2014, Russia wrote off a whopping $32 billion worth of Cuba’s debt).

Ironically, as a result of that, they became the world’s only “sustainable” country, combining high human development with a low ecological footprint.

cuba-only-sustainable-country

That said, high human development was not a specifically “Communist” achievement, since it would have happened anyway if perhaps marginally slower. Pre-Castro Cuba was hardly the feudal, illiterate dystopia of Communist propaganda. Its infant mortality rate in the early 1960s, though not quite First World, was nonetheless at almost the exact level of Spain or Italy, and lower than in the rest of Latin America – almost three times lower than in Mexico, Brazil, and Chile. The literacy rate was close to 80% and would have converged to 100% naturally. In this respect, Cuba’s achievements in healthcare and schooling become a great deal less impressive.

The Cuban regime was pretty mild in its level of repression, by Communist standards. The Cuba Archive, which documents deaths and disappearances “resulting from the Cuban revolution,” claims 10,723 victims. However, it also includes the victims of the Batista regime, which might have concentrated as much political violence into a single decade as the Castro regime did over half a century; and its also worth remembering that some proportion of executions even in the most tyrannical states will be genuine criminals. The Black Book of Communism claims a figure of 16,000 executions in Castro’s Cuba, but should not be taken at face value given its propensity for exaggeration. So in per capita terms, Castro’s Cuba seems to have about as politically violent as Pinochet’s Chile or the Argentinian junta (though diluted over a longer time frame), and far less violent than the mainstay Communist regimes of Eurasia or for that matter the US-backed Contras in Nicaragua.

In the longterm, perhaps the most damaging effect is that many of the brightest and most enterprising Cubans have emigrated. Communism is a veritable IQ shredder. Could a post-Castro Cuba still produce a Capablanca?

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Communism, Cuba 

esoteric-pepe

Trump has fulfilled the prophesies of Kek.

That was clear pretty early on, as soon as it became clear he was winning Florida and the markets started tumbling as they realized the false song of globalism was about to end.

That is because Trump and his protectionist platform was almost certainly going to perform much better, relatively speaking, in the rustbelt than it would in the less industrial South and West – and that is indeed exactly what happened.

I did think there was a shy Trumpist effect that would make the election very close, much closer than the polls were letting on – I very much doubted there would be a 300+ HRC landslide, unlike mainstream opinion – but I did underestimate its magnitude, just like I did with Brexit; I thought Florida and most of the rustbelt would both be extremely close, but overall for HRC by the smallest of margins.

Of the closest swing states only North Carolina did I consider safe for Trump.

Instead, he has confidently smashed his way through almost the entire Midwest and seems to be on track to end up with 300+ electoral college votes.

lse-no-like-trump

I spent the election roundup drinking at a London School of Economics student common room. I am pretty sure that I and the Russian student who invited me were the only Trump supporters there out of 30 or 40 people. This is not that surprising when one considers that Trump Derangement Syndrome is universal throughout Yurop and Britbongistan, and furthermore, that this was: (a) London; (b) millennials; (c) students; (d) at a pretty elite institution, which made for a quadruple whammy. It was all good though since I got to feel like the physical embodiment of trollface.jpg.

Though I do regret not sticking to my guns and continuing to insist on a Trump victory as I had been doing a couple of months previously, I am nonetheless very happy to have been wrong. The bankers might not be so happy, but who cares.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Politics, United States, US Elections 2016 

us-elections-2016-predicted

Final EC Prediction – Will be very happy to be wrong. I do think there is a Shy Trumpist factor, which will really make itself felt in rustbelt Michigan, but I fear that it might be canceled out by higher Hispanic turnout, especially in Florida and Nevada.

The person who likes to bomb a couple of brown people countries every decade paints Trump as a racist for his gall at wanting to cut down on immigration to levels that are still orders of magnitude higher than in Japan and for wanting to build a wall like the Israelis have.

She has portrayed him as a national security risk even though any other person who handled top secret information like she did would be serving a long prison sentence.

Her sycophants portray her as an economic progressive even as she runs a giant money-funneling operation powered by donations from Arab oil sheikhs, Goldman Sachs, and the esteemed guests at Lynn de Rothschild’s wineyard.

And assuming the McCarthyism mantle, they have run a truly unprecedented campaign of vilifying Russia – all but comparing its actions in Syria to the Holocaust (see second debate) – and Donald Trump’s outrageous proposal to restore normal relations with the Dark Lord of the Kremlin. Instead, he has been implied, without any evidence whatsoever, to be an agent of the Kremlin – a far more serious attack on the legitimacy of the US political process than Trump’s refusal, quite understandable in these circumstances, to commit to accept the results of the elections.

The media has been so completely and utterly in HRC’s pockets – there are too many cases to count by now of media companies directly coordinating with the DNC, as revealed by Wikileaks – that it makes the Russian state media look free and partial in comparison in relation to Putin and Untied Russia.

And yet what do Americans overwhelmingly care about? Many of the same middle-aged women who made Fifty Shades of Gray into a bestseller reproach Trump for chasing skirt a decade ago. Instead of asking questions about what it says about the system of power in their country that the Bushes were in possession of this kompromat for more than a decade and released it to help their “enemy” dynasty.

Let’s be forthright: Donald Trump is a very socially savvy who might not be the most intelligent of people but who has sane, everyman views on both social policy and international relations. He does not appear to have any substantial investments in Russia (unlike Romney!), but even if he did, would you rather have Russia or the Islamic State-with-better-PR? Yes, it is likely that he used all sorts of loopholes to grow his business (welcome to real estate!) and to avoid taxes (again, like Romney!), but most people who’ve known him tend to speak very well of him – something that cannot be said for his rival.

Hillary Clinton is a corrupt, cheating, lying warmonger whose mental issues and overinflated sense of moral superiority might result in World War 3. I suppose there would be a certain comedy to living in Fallout/Metro 2033 on account of HRC’s determination to protect the bearded apemen who carried out 9/11 against her own putative country, but we will only be able to appreciate it on the most cosmic of scales.

Let’s MAGA, not war.

kek-wills-it

 

back-in-russia

This October, I will be following the “advice” of some of my most ardent critics and literally “going back to Russia.”

I’m joking, of course. I don’t care for those trolls. That argument was always self-refuting because I had left in Russia in the early 1990s as a dependent. My parents had left because the Russian government had ceased to pay its scientists their salaries (i.e., Egghead Emigres). You could blame the pro-Western Yeltsinite kleptocracy for that brain drain, or you could blame the commies who had led the USSR into stagnation and ended up selling a superpower for some jeans, but you certainly couldn’t blame either Putin for that nor could you legitimately condemn my supposedly “Russophile” writings from abroad as hypocrisy or even a matter of “revealed preferences” for the West. (In any case as soon as I go back to Russia I am sure my critics and trolls will transition seamlessly from condemning me as a Putler stooge enjoying the good life in California and ignoring the plight of ordinary Russians to claiming that I am held hostage by the KGB and/or shilling for all I’m worth to survive the Russian economic collapse).

The more banal reality is that I have not lived permanently in Russia since the early 1990s – my last visit, for that matter, was a decade ago – so I am exceedingly curious to see for myself how it has changed since then. I suspect most of those changes are for the better, since most of the statistics seem to point that way and it’s not like I invent them or manipulate them. Still, it never hurts to see things for oneself, to become grounded, or “based,” as some might say.

I also like to think I will be fulfilling Richard Spencer’s dictum of “becoming who you are.” That said, I am under no particular illusions that I will ever truly belong to either Russia or the Anglosphere, and that my fate is to remain a rootless cosmopolitan until death or technological singularity. Charles de Gaulle is alleged to have said “He who does not love his mother more than other mothers and his country more than other countries, loves neither his mother nor his country.” A corrolary would be that he who has more than one country has none. In Guillaume Durocher’s essay on the phenomenon of Third Culture Kids (TCKs) – the highly mobile and frequently bilingual children of expats – it is pointed out that they have a number of “rather strange” characteristics: “They tend to be more educated, more likely to experience depression, more likely to commit suicide, more likely to feel alienated, and, paradoxically but perhaps unsurprisingly, more likely to be nationalistic (they often superficially embrace and advertise their nation of origin in response to identitarian unease).” So I suppose one could also view my repatriation as a sort of psychotherapy.

I will be leaving on October 3, but I will be stopping in London for a couple of weeks to a month, so blogging is likely to remain light until sometime in November. However, I expect to pick up pace once I’m settled down in Moscow thanks to the magic of purchasing power differences (aka shit is cheaper in Russia than in California), which will free up more time for blogging and pursuing my other projects. I suppose this also makes my move a case of “downshifting,” that quintessential expression of rootless millenial anomie.

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Russia, The AK, Travel 

Over the years I have studiously avoided commentary on MH17 because of the banal fact that I am not an expert on plane crash forensics.

The official Dutch inquiry that has just released its findings says that it was downed by a Buk missile that came from rebel-controlled territory.

Many serious people have come to other conclusions, as well as – no surprise – Russia itself. As Patrick Armstrong points out, the Americans have yet to release the intelligence they claim to have. Malaysia had for some reason been excluded from the official investigation.

As is usually the case, which version you “believe” in depends heavily on your partisan sympathies.

That said, there are two points I’d like to bring to the discussion which would be valid even if the results of the Dutch inquiry are true.

1

This does not mean that it is was entirely the fault of the rebels and Russia.

First off, a little background on Soviet SAMs.

They are very complicated systems. It takes several people to operate them. There are several control panels, and you have to turn the right knobs and press the right buttons in the correct order to acquire and kill your target. Just locking in requires locating the target on a fire control radar while adjusting for range, elevation, and azimuth. No nice 3D graphics here; targets are interferences on 1D axis or abstract blips on 2D spaces. Then you must pick the guidance mode for your missile based on factors such as whether or not your target is flying low, its speed, and whether or not it’s jamming. Then you fire the missile, which involves its own set of procedures. If your target then experiences a sudden change in speed and altitude, it probably means you’ve scored a hit. Feel free to imagine a climatic BOOM going off in the skies above, but all you’re going to hear is the continuing drone of electronic machinery.

You can explore the fascinating life of a SAM operator for yourself by downloading the SAM Simulator, a video game developed by a Hungarian aficianado of 1960-1980 era Soviet SAM systems.

9k33-osa

Screenshot of 9K33 Osa main control panel from SAM Simulator.

Here are some (Russian language) technical guides on their various SAM systems. They can be 100-200 pages long and contain calculus.

So what’s the point of it all this? The point is that operating a SAM is learnable for the average enthusiast, conscript, or Donbass rebel – you can figure out how to knock balloon targets and maybe even big airliners traveling in straight lines after a couple of hours study. Becoming good at it is another matter entirely. The Buk is a newer and somewhat simpler system than those in the SAM Simulator, but for the amateur it remains a foreboding forest of knobs and analog screens. I only explored the SAM Simulator for a few hours back in 2014, so I can’t attest to it personally, but my impression from discussions on the game’s forums is that to “git gud” you’ll need to invest a few dozens of hours in it, and while it’s about as “hardcore” as simulator as they come, it’s still not real life.

One more possibility. Consider the following two allegations:

First, that MH17 was diverted to fly over contested airspace.

Second, that MH17 was being trailed by two Ukrainian Su-25′s. (Some conspiracy theories allege that they were actually the ones who shot it down).

An alternate possibility, however, is that the Su-25 escorts and possibly the diversions were an intentional Ukrainian policy to increase the chances of an AA missile fired by an inexperienced rebel crew bringing down a civilian airliner. After drawing out the missiles, the Ukrainian fighters would engage their counter-measures and fly off, while the missiles would autonomously home in on the target with the much bigger radar signature – that is, MH17 itself. The resulting fallout would hopefully pressure Russia into withdrawing support for the rebellion.

This theory is the only one that more or less the only one explains all aspects of the case and integrates most of the main narratives.

It explains why the Americans have no released their intelligence. If it was to show the Su-25′s were directly or almost directly below MH17 then questions would be asked.

It explain why we have not seen a consistent or credible alternate theory from Russia. Because there is none. While if it where to push this theory it would then have to admit that at the it is to some extent culpable.

And it would also explain the findings of the Dutch report. It might well be just true.

2

Nor would it in any case qualify as an act of terrorism.

It cannot qualify as an act of terrorism because as phone conversations between the rebels in the immediate aftermath prove, and as the US itself has admitted, the shooting down of MH17 if done by the rebels was based on the mistaken impression that it was a legitimate military target.

That said, in the immediate aftermath, there were hystrionic calls from certain quarters to invoke NATO’s Article 5 on behalf of the Netherlands. Lithuania’s Dalia Grybauskaite called Russia a terrorist state.

At the very least, perhaps this should be used to step up sanctions against Russia, until it acknowledges its guilt, pays compensation, and hands over any suspects to an international tribunal.

Well, I suppose you *can*. But then for consistency’s sake you would also have to label the US and Ukraine (ironically enough) as terrorist states themselves.

In 1988, a missile fired by a US warship in Iranian territorial waters took out Iran Air Flight 655 over Iranian airspace The US tried to avoid responsibility, and never apologized to Iran, but eventually paid up some blood money.

In 2001, Ukrainian air defense shot down Siberia Airlines Flight 1812 during exercises. They initially tried to avoid taking responsibility until a Russian investigative team came up with definitive proof. Never apologized, though they did eventually pony up blood money.

If you do not support declaring the US and Ukraine to be terrorist states on this basis, with all the consequences thereof – massive sanctions, pariah status, etc. – then you have no ground to do so either for the DNR or Russia. The most that could be legitimately demanded is for Russia to pay the relatives.

However, it is hardly a secret that the Western world order operates by double standards, so I suspect that a more likely template for the future of the MH17 case is that of Pan Am Flight 103, better known as the Lockerbie bombing. At a first approximation, this would involve putting international (Western) pressure on Russia to not only pay out compensation to the victims of MH17, but to admit its guilt and to hand over any suspects to an international tribunal. It might be used as a justification for prolonging or extending sanctions, and potentially even declaring the DNR and LNR terrorist organizations.

 

Contrary to my expectations, I think Trump lost his first debate.

He started out strong, stronger than HRC, but then declined a lot in the third round on foreign policy – on what should have been his strongest round.

And he really lost it at the end when they pulled out the woman card.

I say this as a Trump supporter who has called Trump as the winner at each of his appearances at the Republican nomination debates.

Unfortunately, this time he really fell short, and so far as I can tell the predictions markets seem to agree with this assessment.

It’s not an absolute disaster. Trump did get in many of his key points, and remained stringently reasonable for most of the debate. However, his lack of preparation really showed. He will have to get a lot more clinical in his attacks if he wants to bring down HRC, because she will not be doing it for him.

Here are my comments on each of the three rounds:

Achieving Prosperity

Trump was very good here, really playing up protectionism – something he has been a consistent proponent for since the 1980s – in a way that credibly jived with working class concerns in the Rustbelt. He also pointed out HRC’s disingenuous comments on the TPP. She could only respond with a lame plea to check out her website and her book (that is rated 1.4 stars on Amazon).

Trump laid out a credible and easily understandable plan to reshore industry to the US by imposing tariff barriers and lowering regulations. This includes lowering the corporate tax rate from 35% to 15%. Although the US is, overall, an excellent place to do business in – it consistently places within the top 10 countries in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings – its rate of corporate tax remains one of the highest in the world (most of Europe is at 20%-30%!). And his promise to get rid of the carried interest provision is highly progressive. Although HRC tried to paint all this as a giveaway to the 1%, I do not think she succeeded.

He also drew attention to the ballooning debt, the politicization of the Fed, and the “big fat ugly bubble” that is the current economy, which should help get him the last few Paulistas who have yet to hop aboard the Trump Train.

The attacks on his refusal to present his tax returns were deftly deflected, and redirected towards HRC’s continuing emails scandal. He also managed to present himself as an able businessman who will save money and revamp America’s “Third World” infrastructure. That said, his response to allegations he did not pay some of his workers – “I did not like the job he did” – was weak and must have come off as callous to many people.

I would say he won this round. Trump – 8/10, HRC – 6/10.

America’s Direction

With a focus on race. Dis gonna be gud!

HRC did her standard pandering spiel, repeating the claim that young black men are more likely to be arrested, charged, and imprisoned for the same crime as whites. This “systemic racism” had to be countered by the end of mandatory minimal sentences, more second chance programs, and better police training. Because, apparently, politically correct diktats on “implicit bias” are sure to be more effective at fighting crime and protecting Blue Lives than a lifetime of instincts developed on the beat.

Now to be sure, Trump couldn’t exactly respond with dindu nuffin memes and FBI crime stats like some Alt Right shitlord – though HRC’s comments on how “everybody is jumping to conclusions about each other” was a perfect moment to mention that whole “basket of deplorables” affair. Still, he hammered his points in well, which was the most important thing. Trump emphasized the need for law and order; mentioned the endorsements that were flooding in from police unions; and pointed out that the number of homicides has increased in the past year (HRC claimed otherwise. Trump is correct and she is wrong. With any luck, progressives cajoled into researching this further will stumble upon the Ferguson Effect. And with any luck might even add two and #BLM). He even managed to slip in a mention of HRC’s “superpredator” comments, a “no, you” tactic that he would shortly use yet again.

As in the first segment, the moderator ended by mentioning another sore point for Trump – his promotion of the birther conspiracy theory. Trump had a reasonable reply, arguing that it was actually first raised by Sidney Blumenthal, a Clinton-friendly journalist, and also mentioned the Kenyan garb photo spread by HRC’s campaign during the nomination contest against Obama in 2008. As such, HRC’s accusations of “racism” against him were just another example of her hypocritical “holier than thou” attitude. Overall, this was handled well, though of course some people will never be satisfied.

However, Trump’s counter to HRC’s claims that his real estate firm discriminated against black tenants was not well made. He said there had been no admission of guilt (“And so? Corporations can get away with anything,” a critic might reply), and provided a counterexample of inclusion… in the form of an non-discriminating rich person’s club that he owns in Palm Beach, Florida. This was tone deaf with regards to both blacks and the 99%, but unfortunately rather typical for Trump, who has a tendency to talk too much about his projects and especially the things he builds for rich people. Eventually, it becomes tiring, even for people who aren’t much enarmored with “We are the 1%” rhetoric.

Overall, I think Trump won this round as well, though by a thinner margin than the first. Trump – 7/10, HRC – 6/10.

Securing America

In the final round, HRC went on the warpath, the moderator’s shilling for her became pretty much explicit, and Trump tumbled badly on what should have been his strongest round.

I was actually smiling when HRC started off with her standard jeremiad about cybersecurity and the Russian menace. This was not a good idea, especially for someone with her record. Had her earpiece failed? Was the medical cocktail she’d been injected with beginning to wear off? Her arguments were almost self-refuting. The Russian angle is trivially easy to mock and dismiss, given the complete lack of evidence that it was actually Russia who had broken into the DNC. Furthermore, her comments essentially gave Trump free ammo to attack her on her own criminal misconduct with respect to matters of national security and her alleged complicity in stealing the Democratic nomination from Bernie Sanders.

And at first, Trump delivered. He mentioned that he had gained the endorsement of 200 admirals and generals. He pointed out that the hacks might have come from Russia, but it could equally well have been China, or even some “400 pound hacker” lying on a bed. The disturbing thing was that this had been possible in the first place, not to mention the revelations themselves – namely, that Bernie Sanders had been “taken advantage of by your people.” This was a well-advised nod to wavering Bernouts.

But it all went downhill from there.

Despite having already confronted a hostile Republican elite on the question of the Iraq War, Trump turned a lot more mellow on this issue in this debate – even though his audience, now half Democratic, should have been a great deal more receptive to it.

As Pumpkin Person points out, this allowed a thoroughly compromised HRC to turn the situation to her advantage:

I was stunned that Trump let Hillary and the moderator put him on the defensive for supporting the war when Hillary was a million times more culpable.

All Trump said in support of the war was shrugged and said “I guess so” when asked by Stern if he supported it but from then on he was against it.

By contrast Hillary actually VOTED for it in the senate, gave it bipartisan legitimacy, gave a speech wrongly claiming Saddam Hussein had links to Al Qaeda, and her husband propagandized for war on Letterman.

And yet Hillary made Trump look like the war monger and all Trump could do was babble incoherently when he could have ripped her to shreds on that point since it was the worst foreign policy decision in U.S. history.

He repeated the line that “we should have taken their oil.” That might have played well with Republican hardasses, but it would have won him no favor amongst the progressives unhappy with HRC’s neocon-in-all-but-name militancy. A missed opportunity.

HRC argued that Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric put him in a bad position to negotiate with the Muslim countries that are involved with the US in the fight against ISIS. Instead of riposting that her wars killed infinitely more Muslims than his comments ever did, or questioning the legitimacy of the sectarian involvement of Muslim countries in the Syrian civil war, or perhaps mentioning the Saudi donations to the Clinton Foundation and the influence they might have on HRC’s decisionmaking, he… went on some kind of rambling rant about Obama’s weakness on Iran and the need to go into Iraq with NATO (sic). “I have a much better temperament than Hillary,” Trump concluded. Kk.

Trump expressed his sentiment that America no longer had the means to be the “world’s policeman,” and repeatedly complained that Germany, Japan, Korea, and America’s other allies don’t pay the full cost of their own defense. We know that this is a reference to the inability of almost all NATO member states to meet the informal guideline of spending 2% of their GDP on the military, which allows them and Japan to enjoy the American security umbrella for free and use the savings to provide more social benefits to their citizens. Explained thus, Trump could have appealed to the anti-war left, many of whom hate HRC; but expressed in Trump’s trademark money-grubbing language, the point was lost for progressives while failing to satisfy the #NeverTrump types kvetching about Trump’s disregard for America’s international “obligations” anyway.

In contrast, HRC struck a consistently more professional and “learned” tone; vapid at its core, to be sure, but seemingly profound to the casual observer.

At this point, this could have still been a tie, just about, but much worse was about to come. It was time for the woman card.

The moderator asked Trump to clarify his comments that HRC doesn’t have the “presidential look.” Trump just about avoided getting stumped by insisting that he actually said HRC didn’t have the stamina, but that allowed her to make this killer riposte: “Well, as soon as he travels to 112 countries and negotiates a peace deal, a cease-fire, a release of dissidents, an opening of new opportunities and nations around the world, or even spends 11 hours testifying in front of a congressional committee, he can talk to me about stamina.”

Instead of using this as an opening to go back to the emails issue, Trump bought into HRC’s frame by acknowledging that she had “experience,” but prepending that it was “bad experience.” However, this argument fell flat because Trump had failed to properly grill her over the Iraq War and her other international misadventures. In any case, unfortunately for Trump, the debate had already moved beyond foreign policy. It was now about affirming HRC as a strong womyn and Trump as a misogynistic pig.

Plunging in the shiv hard and deep, HRC said that Trump had called women pigs, slobs, and dogs; reminded viewers of his comments that pregnancy was an inconvenience for employers; and criticized him for his love of beauty contests and his comments about a certain “Miss Piggy” who is a Latina and will not be voting for Trump.

Now this need not have been fatal, had Trump kept his cool. He could have claimed that these comments had been taken out of context. He could have used that to segue into his childcare proposals. He could have pointed to his good record on hiring women. He could have joked that at least he had kept his beauty contests out of the Oval Office. Not so politically correct, but funny and classically Trumpian. And if HRC wanted to play rough, there was no shortage of ways Trump could have stumped her with Bill’s record. Bombing Yugoslavia to draw attention away from the Lewinsky affair? You can be assured I’ll keep it to just words. After all, we have the best words, don’t we folks?

Instead he decided it would be a better idea to go on a bitter rant about how Rosie O’Donnell had “deserved” his tough words – no matter that everyone up until this point had forgotten about her – and then proceeding to whine about HRC’s negative attack ads against him. Even the staunchest Trump supporters would admit that complaining about tone is just about the last thing he should be doing. But this particular juxtaposition was especially awful.

In short, HRC stepped up her game and went on the attack, while Trump was unable to adapt and ended up affirming the prevaricating warmongering asshole stereotype that liberals have affixed to him after having refuted them in the previous two rounds.

What should have been a crowning triumph for Trump after the hard slog of the first two rounds turned into a debacle. Trump – 3/10, HRC – 7/10.

 

As I’ve pointed out, support for the pro-Western agenda in Russia is highly circumscribed, usually in the low single digits, never higher than 10%.

However, much like with divisions in Europe, Britain, and the US – where the globalist agenda (HRC, “Stay,” etc) are supported by multinational and cosmpolitan rich elites in the big cities and abroad while being opposed by the working/gopnik class in the suburbs and the provinces (Trump, Le Pen, Brexit, etc) – it is actually much the same in Russia.

All these maps are via Alexander Kireev.

Moscow

russian-elections-2016-moscow-united-russia

Map of United Russia’s performance in Moscow in the 2016 elections. (Note that the elections in Moscow have been free from fraud since 2011, so this is an accurate representation of electoral preferences).

map-of-muscovite-tolerance-2016

Incidentally, recall that map of tolerance?

russian-elections-2016-moscow-second-place

Map of second place: Green = Yabloko, Red = KPRF, Yellow = LDPR.

So basically the Eye of Sauron Moscow edition (yuppies and oligarchs), the middle-class Moscow, and the gopnik Moscow.

russian-elections-2016-moscow-liberals-ldpr Here is how the LDPR in particular does relative to the liberals with a little illustrative edit from myself.

Abroad

(Again via Kireev, based on data from Oleg Lisovsky).

russian-elections-2016-abroad

This map shows where United Russia (blue) vs. Yabloko (green) won first place in different countries.

This is, incidentally, a stable pattern; more or less the exact same pattern was observed in the 2012 Presidential elections between Putin and Prokhorov.

In terms of absolute voters, there are basically three main “buckets” of Russian voters abroad: (1) The satellite states of Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Transnistria; (2) The Near Abroad, aka the territories of the ex-USSR; and (3) The Far Abroad, aka everywhere else.

(1) Here United Russia gets around 80%, just like Putin got 90% in 2012. The people there either overwhelmingly wish to join Russia (as in South Ossetia and Transnistria), or want to be closely associated with it (as in Abkhazia), so it is natural that the residents of those places who also have Russian passports would overwhelmingly support the party of power.

(2) In the ex-USSR, United Russia’s fluctuated between 50% and 60% (compared to 65%-90% for Putin). The biggest change from 2012 is, predictably enough, in Ukraine, where the numbers of Russian voters relative to the last election plummeted from 17,000 to 369.

(3) In the Far Abroad, the main division was between (a) countries where the majority of Russians are diplomatic/military personnel, who tend to vote overwhelmingly for United Russia, followed by LDPR; as opposed to (b) where the majority are 1990s-era economic migrants (many more of whom vote for Yabloko and PARNAS).

(a) This describes the classical “Third World,” whose Russian voters are primarily crusty career diplomats who vote more or less like the Russian average. This also describes the BRICS, albeit to a lesser extent, because those countries also host a number of (cosmopolitan) business types, who tend to vote more liberal; also in this category would be Thailand, the Phillipines, and Goa (India), which have seen a number of Russian “downshifters” who draw online incomes and emigrated there to enjoy better climate and lower living costs. PARNAS got its best result anywhere in Thailand!

Three amusing cases stand out in particular:

Syria – Had 4,571 voters total, which incidentally gives one a pretty good idea of the magnitude of the Russian military presence there (i.e., probably around 5,000, since turnout is close to 100% at military bases). United Russia got 63%, LDPR got 20%, KPRF got 6%, Fair Russia got 1.6%, and Yabloko and PARNAS got 0.5% between them. This is a good proxy for the political views of the Russian military.

Baikonur – The LDPR with 30% got its highest results abroad with the 6,438 voters at this Russian space base in Kazakhstan.

Best Korea – 20% voted for LDPR, continuing a long tradition of Russian diplomatic personnel in Pyongyang voting for ultranationalists. The Juche spirit must be rubbing off on them! Commies only got 4% here.

(b) The most extreme examples are the latter are of course the Anglosphere and most of Western Europe, where Yabloko either won outright or came close to beating United Russia. Their spokespeople are of course the Masha Gessens and the Leonid Bershidskys.

In the US itself, Yabloko + PARNAS got more than 50% of the total vote, versus 20% for United Russia, 5% for LDPR, and 7% for KPRF. Note that even accounting for electoral fraud Yabloko + PARNAS still got substantially less than 5% in Russia on average (pockets of support in Moscow and Saint-Petersburg regardless). This is a very clear illustration of why the views of emigre Russians should never be considered as being in any way representative of Russian opinion as a whole.

I had a longer discussion of this in my Prokhorov, President of Londongrad post.

The results at the polling station of the San Francisco consulate (where I happened to vote) were 57.1% for Prokhorov and 26.7% for Putin, the biggest discrepancy in all the Russian polling stations in the US. My experience is that of the people from Berkeley, votes were split evenly between Prokhorov and Zyuganov (what do you expect? It’s a leftist place), with Putin taking up third place. However, in the wider Bay Area, the electorate is dominated by Silicon Valley types, who tend to be people who emigrated from Russia during the Soviet era and who associate it with backwardness, anti-Semitism, etc., and coupled with the libertarian / bourgeois nature of their views, Prokhorov is a perfect fit for them.

In this election, of the 367 people who cast ballots at the San Francisco Russian Consulate polling station (#8276), the breakdown was as follows:

  • United Russia – 24.98%
  • LDPR – 6.54%
  • PARNAS – 11.99%
  • Yabloko – 37.87%
  • KPRF – 4.09%
  • Fair Russia – 3.27%

These are basically the Russian political prefences of Silicon Valley Sovok Jews.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Elections, Russia 

(1) United Russia was polling at around 40% according to different pollsters (both state-owned FOM and VCIOM, as well as independent Levada) in the run-up to the elections. However, adjusting for undecideds would raise it to 55%.

This is in line with United Russia’s official tally of 54.14%.

That said, it should be noted that Russian pollsters tend to overestimate popular support for the party of power (an ironic consequence of their models being constructed on the assumption that there is no electoral fraud).

(2) For the first time, there was a US-style predictions market organized by VCIOM, which had United Russia getting 44%.

russian-elections-2016-predictions-market-vciom

(3) The VCIOM exit poll had United Russia getting 44.5%, and FOM had it getting 48.4%, implying a 6-10% discrepancy versus the official results.

(4) There have been some videos of apparent ballot stuffing. Whether or not they were real is irrelevant. The vast bulk of Russian electoral fraud takes place during the counting phase.

(5) Using the Gaussian method, made famous in 2011, Sergey Shpilkin comes out with an estimate of 14% fraud during these elections (see also by region). The basic idea is that the number of votes each party receives should abide by a single bell curve relative to turnout. This happens for United Russia across the left hand side of the bell curve, but begins to diverge more and more as turnout increases – a phenomenon that could be explained by turnout being inflated by fictitious votes for United Russia.

russian-elections-2016-fraud-shpilkin

As I wrote in my 2011 post on the mathematics of Russian electoral fraud, Shpilkin’s method almost certainly overstates the level of fraud because an alternative explanation is that the sorts of people who vote for United Russia also tend to turn out more (e.g. rural areas vs. urban areas was a classical case of precisely that in 2011, which the then head of the Central Election Commission Vladimir Churov brought up to argue that fraud was minimal). There are also plenty of cases of this exact phenomenon in developed countries, such as the UK and Germany, where the share of votes accruing to their respective conservative parties, the Tories and the CDU, increase with turnout.

As such, most serious, statistics-based estimates of the level of fraud in the 2011 elections hovered between 5% and 10% (with around 8-9% being the likeliest), and 4-7% (with around 5-6% being the likeliest) in the 2012 elections. Even though this Gaussian method doesn’t work as a good estimator of absolute fraud, it is presumably pretty good at gauging the levels of relative fraud across elections; historically, it yielded a figure of 16% in the 2011 Duma elections, and 6% in the 2012 Presidential elections. The 14% figure that Shpilkin came up with this time round implies that fraud was higher than in 2012, but lower than in 2011 – perhaps 7-8%.

This rough estimate is supported by the fact that United Russia got almost exactly 5% points more than in 2011. Likewise, the VCIOM opinion polls immediately prior to the elections – not a great indicator of absolute support by themselves, but useful for comparisons across time – showed United Russia as being 5% points more popular now than in 2011.

russia-elections-support-for-united-russia

This is an additional hint that the level of fraud was similar to that seen in 2011.

However, it is virtually certain not to excite any protests because (1) Putin is himself much more popular now than he was in 2011, (2) the Western-orientated opposition has discredited itself by opposing Crimea’s return to its traditional homeland, and (3) elections in Moscow, the most (relatively) oppositionist city, have been consistently clean since 2012.

(6) United Russia massively increased its share of the seats from 52.9% to 76.2%, forming an easy supermajority with a margin of 10% points.

russian-duma-2016

There would have been no major differences without fraud. Russia’s shift to a partial FPTP system meant that 2/3 of the seats would have been assured even if the level of fraud was at Shpilkin’s 14%.

(7) The Western-orientated parties, aka the so-called “genuine” opposition: With just 2.0% of the vote, the liberal-left Yabloko party would not have broken the 3% required for state financing, not to even mention the 5% barrier for representation in the Duma. However, at least Yabloko has some genuine roots in Russia. PARNAS, the current home to most of Russia’s foreign grant-eating and WSJ oped-writing opposition, got a mere 0.7%. The only place where they enjoy significant support is in Moscow and Saint-Petersburg, where their combined share of the vote was at 11%-12%.

Their platform of giving Crimea to Ukraine is just not that popular, least of all in Crimea itself, where their combined votes were a mere 1.2% of the total (making it yet another data piece that gives to lie to Western propaganda that Russia is “occupying” Crimea). Incidentally, PARNAS even went so far as to ask Ukraine for official permission to campaign in Crimea (Kiev refused. Sad!).

(8) I was on record saying that with the introduction of the partial FPTP system, the degree of falsification should fall:

Second, it will also massively lower the incentives for direct falsifications, which are a very prominent and undeniable stain on Russia’s elections in the past decade. After all while in a proportional system falsification will have a direct and immediate impact on the result, in a mixed system United Russia or UR-friendly candidates will be sweeping the constituency elections anyway. Ergo much smaller degrees of fraud or even the absence of fraud would still result in better results for UR than the c.8% falsification in its favor in the 2011 elections everything else being equal.

This was not just my opinion, here is Bershidsky saying the same thing earling this year:

In September, this Duma will be replaced by a new one, and if there’s any vote-rigging, it will be much harder to notice than in 2011. Putin doesn’t want to be accused of cheating.

The levels of fraud did decline relative to 2011, but only modestly.

Why does the Kremlin still bother to falsify when it could enjoy greater legitimacy by keeping them clean? There are academic theories that electoral fraud, even when victory is assured, is still “rational” from the POV of an authoritarian ruler. Falsification helps you signal such overwhelming dominance that it effectively demoralizes the opposition {Simpser 2013}. But this can backfire (see the Moscow protests in 2011), and besides, there are very real benefits even for authoritarian polities to keep their elections clean – namely, to credibly signal regime strength and to receive reliable information on their true level of political support. These benefits are especially germane for dictators with “rich financial resources, disciplinary ruling organizations, and weak opposition” {Higashijima 2014). Russia satisfies all three conditions.

Allow me to advance a more banal thesis: Electoral fraud in Russia is largely a function of regional corruption as opposed to a conscious game theoretic strategy, and one which the Kremlin is as little interest in addressing as corruption in its own elite ranks (post-2011 Moscow is the only prominent exception to this).

russian-elections-2011-fraud-map

Map of Russian election fraud in 2011 by region (green = fair) based on Dmitry Kogan’s estimates, compiled by Kireev.

russia-corruption-map-2011-fom

Map of corruption prevalence in Russia based on a 2011 FOM survey.

Dat Finno-Ugric admixture line yo.

(9) The nationalist Liberal Democratic Party – yes, Russians invented Alt Right trolling a couple of decades in advance of Americans – has massively improved its position, drawing level with the Communist Party.

russia-elections-2016-ldpr-kprf

Second place: Yellow = LDPR won, Red = KPRF won. Map via Kireev.

I recall some Communists in 2011 expressing the hope that the party would be revitalized by an influx of new blood, but these hopes appear to have completely flopped.

russia-elections-2016-party-support-age-group

According to the VCIOM exit poll, while United Russia voters are largely uniform across age groups, this is not the case for the Reds vs. Browns. Whereas 60+ year old Communist voters hugely outnumber 18-24 year old LDPR voters, by 22% to 10%, amongst LDPR voters the relationship is the complete inverse, with 60+ year old LDPR voters being outnumber by 18-24 year old LDPR voters by 19% to 8%.

As an LDPR voter myself, I am pretty chummed with these results – the best for the party since 1993.

However, this is counteracted by a genuinely worrisome trend. Moscow’s 115+ IQ yuppie latte sipping skinny jeans wearing Western cargo cult worshipping class is thoroughly pozzed. A stunning 45% of voters at the Moscow State University polling station voted for Yabloko and PARNAS. A good half of Russia’s future intellectual elites are basically cucks who are happy to sell their own countrymen down their river if it helps them get visa-free travel to Europe and accolades from budding Corpse-in-Chief Clinton.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Elections, Russia 

Nothing illustrates China’s meteoric rise as some well chosen numbers.

By the end of the 1990s, China had come to dominate the mainstays of geopolitical power in the 20th century – coal and steel production. As a consequence, it leapt to the top of the Compositive Index of National Capability, which uses military expenditure, military personnel, energy consumption, iron and steel production, urban population, and total population as a proxy of national power. Still, one could legitimately argue that all of these factors are hardly relevant today. While Germany’s fourfold preponderance in steel production over Russia may have been a critical number in 1914, China’s eightfold advantage in steel production over the US by 2014 is all but meaningless in any relevant comparison of national power. The world has moved on.

By the end of the 2000s, like Victorian Britain in the mid-19th century, China became the workshop of the world, overtaking the US in both manufacturing and coming very close to it in terms of PPP-adjusted GDP. As a consequence, this was when China also overtook the US on a wide range of consumer welfare and ecological impact indicators, such as exports, CO2 emissions, Internet users, energy consumption, car sales, car production, and number of patents issued. Still, its presence in the hi-tech sector was still pretty modest, and innovation was low. This was not yet an economy that could furnish first-class armaments, or inspire far off peoples to carry out color revolutions in its name.

But as of this year, China is hurtling past yet another set of inflection points – the hi-tech component of its economy, roughly comparable to any of the major European Powers a mere decade ago, is now about to converge and then hurtle past that of the US by the end of the 2010s (even if in per capita terms it remains considerably behind, like South Korea 20 years ago).

This process can be proxied by three indicators: Number of scientific articles published, operational stock of industrial robots, and number of supercomputers.

Science Articles

The SJR maintains a database of scientific publications by country and subject for the past 20 years.

In 1996, China published a mere 29,000 papers, well behind Japan, the UK, Germany, and France (50,000-90,000) not to mention the US with 333,000. As of 2015, however, China had surged to 416,000 published papers, still modestly behind the US with its 567,000 papers but far ahead of everyone else.

science-plagiarism-map Now to be sure, Chinese papers are still considerably less cited than those of the developed world. And yes, this reflects the fact that, on average, the quality of Chinese scientific output remains inferior – less innovative, more derivative – than that of the US. This extends to outright plagiarism; the negative stereotypes about Chinese academia are somewhat borne out by a study that showed that 7-8% of Chinese articles on arXiv.org were flagged for text overlaps, compared to less than 4% for the US and the UK.

Nonetheless, in the “hard”/STEM spheres that arguably matter more for technological progress – and which have much less in the way of a replicability crisis – China is already ahead of the US in terms of total publications: 34,000 to 28,000 in mathematics; 67,000 to 52,000 in physics and astronomy; 63,000 to 36,000 in chemistry; 120,000 to 67,000 in engineering; 49,000 to 41,000 in computer science. The only major spheres here in which the US remains considerably ahead are the more biologically orientated sciences, such as: 196,000 to 69,000 in medicine, 83,000 to 59,000 in biochemistry/genetics, 23,000 to 7,000 in neuroscience, and 18,000 to 14,000 in pharmacology. Otherwise, the US retains clear dominance only in the the softer spheres of social science and the arts: 54,000 to 7,000 in the social sciences, 10,000 to 2,000 in economics, 23,000 to 2,000 in psychology, and 27,000 to 2,000 in the arts and humanities. In one subcomponent that is arguably outright negative value added, that of Gender Studies, the US published 1,456 documents to China’s 23.

The overall trends cannot be denied – Chinese scientific output is rapidly approaching American levels and will probably outright overtake, at least in absolute numbers, by around 2020.

Robots

Until recently, the general consensus was that automation would be an issue mainly for developed countries with high labor costs. China, then still seen as a country of boundless, cheap, and disciplined if unskilled labor, was not expected to be deeply affected by those developments (except perhaps to the extent that it would be challenged by renewed competition with First World manufacturing “reshoring” back to the American rustbelts).

This was, until recently, a logical enough viewpoint. Traditionally, the world’s operational stock of industrial robots was concentrated in the most advanced manufacturing economies, with the highest per capita rates seen in Japan (which accounted for a third to half of all industrial robots during the 1980s and 1990s), Germany and the Germanic lands, Northern Italy, and more recently, South Korea. In contrast, until the early 2000s, the publicly available databases generally didn’t even bother to estimate the numbers of industrial robots in Chinese factories so small and insignificant were their numbers.

But from the late 2000s, the robotization of Chinese industry began to explode.

industrial-robots-by-country

China went from having 32,000 industrial robots in 2008 (~Spain), to 189,000 by 2014 (~Germany) and approximately 263,000 robots by 2015, which puts it ahead of the 259,000 robots in all of North America and just behind Japan’s 297,000. It is therefore safe to assume that China took first place this year. By 2018, China is projected to have 614,000 industrial robots, equal to that of Japan and North America combined.

It is also worth noting that China dominates the global machine tool production industry, having overtaken the two leading countries in that sphere – Germany and Japan – around 2010. As of 2014, China accounted for 30% of the world’s yearly production of machine tools. This is of special interest not only because of this industry’s inherent technological sophistication, but also because of its strategic importance as the only part of the industrial economy that actually reproduces itself and makes everything else possible.

Supercomputers

A third excellent proxy for a country’s technological sophistication is its stock of supercomputers, which enable detailed simulations of phenomena as disparate as global climate, protein folding, and nuclear weapons reliability.

China emerged on the supercomputing scene in force during the early 2010s, when it became the world’s (distant) second to the US. However, within the space of the past year, it has surged ahead. According to the June 2016 list of the world’s top 500 supercomputers, China is now marginally ahead of the US in terms of total number of systems, with 168 top systems relative to America’s 165, and well ahead in terms of performance share, with 211 petaflops total to America’s 173 petaflops.

top500-supercomputers-country-share

China also hosts the world’s most powerful single supercomputer, the Sunway TaihuLight, which is nearly three times as powerful as the world’s second best (also Chinese) and five times as powerful as the top US supercomputer. Remarkably, it is based entirely on Chinese processors, the US having banned the export of Intel chips used in previous Chinese supercomputers for national security reasons in 2015. Evidently, this has had negligible effects on Chinese technological progress, because China has no dearth of native human capital and a state-backed program to reduce reliance on foreign technologies.

***

Forget the war against terror, forget the Syrian conflict, forget Ukraine – when historians look back on this period, they will identify China’s emergence as a technologically capable continental economy (soon to far overtake the US in absolute size) that is less and less reliant on the West for its technological convergence is by far the most important geopolitical trend of the century.

As this process unfolds, China is likely to start being more assertive on the international stage. We are already seeing this in the South China Sea, and its recent aquisition of its first foreign military base in Djibouti and plans to multiply its (as yet meager) power projection capabilities by building over 1,000 heavy strategic aircraft – that’s far more than what the US and Russia have combined. (Note that my standing projection is for China to overtake the US in total military power by 2030 and in naval power by around 2040).

It will also come to assume a much bigger presence in science, culture, and soft power generally, though this will take some time to recognize given the long lag times between invention and recognition.

Its also worth emphasizing that this technological emergence is quite specific to China, not to the BRICS in general. South Africa is basically an affirmative action BRIC and not worth mentioning further, while Brazil is the country of the future – and always will be, as per De Gaulle’s witticism. Despite strong recent economic growth, India’s presence in all the aforementioned spheres – published papers, supercomputers, industrial robot stock – is comparable to that of a typical middle-sized European country, its huge population being nullified by underdevelopment and an average national IQ in the low 80s.

As for Russia, while general economic output has recovered and exceeded Soviet era levels, its scientific and technological superstructure remains depressed: Russia’s share of global science papers as of 2015 is now 1.9% of the world’s total relative to 7.6% in 1986 (a drop made all the more remarkable by the USSR’s absence of a “publish or perish” scientific culture); its respectable Soviet-era stock of ~60,000 industrial robots has now almost entirely depreciated without getting replaced; and the quantity of Russian supercomputers in the top 500 in any given year has stabilized at around 5-10 since the late 2000s (i.e., comparable to Sweden). This is a consequence of the post-Soviet degradation of Russia’s human capital, especially its more elite elements, due to the 1990s brain drain; the ultimately lackadaisical approach to industrial and technological policy under Putin; and the intrinsic limitations of a ~97 average national IQ (in comparison, China, Germany, Japan, and the advanced parts of the US and Italy are in the low 100s).

 
• Category: Economics • Tags: Automation, China, Technology 

Putin Derangement Syndrome and Trump Derangement Syndrome continue moving towards an ever more perfect union.

Problem is: Putin is not actually a proponent of extreme nationalism, let along its godfather. At least, not according to the people who would presumably know best: The vast majority of, like, actual Russian nationalists.

They tend to consider Putin as a representative of sovok “multinationality,” who sends “real” Russian nationalists off to jail under the infamous Article 282 (one of them, Alexander Potkin/Belov, was jailed for 7.5 years on the same day as Hillary Clinton’s announcement) while allowing mass immigration and the transfer of the Russian economy to minorities and ethnic clans. 20% of Russia’s billionaires are Jews according to a study by Lenta a couple of years ago, and a recently released report by Forbes Russia revealed that only one of the ten richest “clans” in Russia are ethnically Russian, or russkie. (Incidentally, that is a term that, tellingly, Putin himself hardly ever uses, preferring the ethnically neutral term “rossiyane” that refers to all Russian citizens. A quick way of estimating how “based” a Russian commentator is Ctrl-F’ing and tallying the russkie/rossiyane ratio in his texts).

Of course the irony is that the Clinton Clique tends to like those kinds of anti-Putin nationalists and their Ukrainian counterparts.

nuland-meeting-parubiy

Clinton protege Victoria Nuland meeting with Parubiy, Chairman of the Rada and founder of the Social National Party of Ukraine.

As for Putin’s actual nationalist/non nationalist status, what both Pozocracy hacks and the more “svidomy” elements of the Western Alt Right fail to realize is that in between:

(1) Being an open borders “keep them at arm’s length” cuck; and

never-said-this(2) Living up to the overly “optimistic”/false image that the “Russophile” wing of the Alt Right (summarized in the widely shared but 100% fake meme/quote to the right) – and the Putin Derangement Syndrome-suffering SJWs and (((neocons))) – have of Putin;

… there is a pretty big middle ground around which Putin actually falls.

Yes, many Russian nationalists are sitting under Article 282 (some of them deservedly, but yes, many of them regrettably not; it is an unjust law that should ideally go the way of the rest of Europe’s “hate laws,” i.e. into the dustbin of history). But, at least, Russia also imprisons many Islamic extremists and even anti-ethnic Russians under that same law (a partial lack of double standards that the Council of Europe is very unhappy about). And moderate Russian (anti-immigration) nationalists like Egor Kholmogorov – I have translated a couple of his pieces here and here – are hardly social or legal pariahs; they get to write op-eds in the nation’s highest circulation newspaper, Komsomolskaya Pravda.

And there are even outright nationalists in positions of power, such as Dmitry Rogozin, who was an outright (anti-immigration) nationalist. He currently curates the military-industrial prospect and is not an altogether impossible (if highly unlikely) Presidential successor. Although with power, he has also of course strongly toned down his prior ethnonationalist rhetoric.

To reiterate, there is a very wide spectrum between a self-hating cuckold like Wolfgang Schaeuble and /pol/’s image of Ben Garrison, and on that spectrum, Putin is far closer to the likes of Trump, Le Pen, and Orban than he is to the Western political elites aka the Pozocracy (on this, at least, the Western MSM has it correct). Reasonable figures in the Alt Right recognize such as Richard Spencer recognize that they can’t have their way all of the time, and as such urge people to support these sorts of “middle ground” politicians, despite their occasional concessions to cuckoldry (even though Spencer himself got arrested in and banned from in Hungary for holding an identitarian conference so he has personal reasons to be skeptical of Orban).

However, this still does not make Putin a nationalist. In reality, like most serious politicians, Putin is a complex figure who continuously carries out an ideological balancing act (remember Angela Merkel’s “multiculturalism is a failure” speech, a long time ago in a galaxy far away?). Yes, nationalism is necessarily a part of that, and yes, to a greater extent than a decade ago, but it still needs to be balanced out against liberal, conservative, and socialist countercurrents. The dominant strand within Russia’s current ideological matrix is liberal-conservatism, a set of political and social ideas developed under late Tsarism and later amongst the White emigration that were perpendicular to both Marxism and Westernophile cargo cultism. The philosopher that Putin cites most frequently is Ivan Ilyin, an uncompromising anti-Stalinist emigre with views that are decidedly unorthodox (one daresays, cuckservative) for a Russian “extreme nationalist.”

Here are a couple of notes I made while reading Ilyin’s Our Tasks recently:

* Frankly he is much more of an anti-Communist ideologue than a Russian nationalist. He condemns in no uncertain terms those members of the White movement who were drawn towards the late Stalinist USSR by its adoption of quasi-nationalist rhetoric and is generally sanguine about Western (though not German) intentions towards Russia, casually discussing even the prospect of the atomic bombing of his country. That is decidedly strange for a nationalist, even a highly anti-Communist one.

* He even condemns the “oppression” of ethnic minorities in the USSR, whereas a staple of traditional Russian nationalist narratives on the USSR is the disproportional influence of ethnic minorities (especially the Jews) for its “anti-Russian” nature. So far he has been rather vague on the “who to blame” question as regards the Bolshevik Revolution, not going much further than “spiritual sickness.” Again, that is very milquetoast stuff, for a purported nationalist.

Putin’s nationalism, to the extent that it exists, boils down to a practical and materialist sort of patriotism or at most, a Human Biodiversity-naive civic nationalism:

We do not have and cannot have any unifying idea other than patriotism. … You said that public servants and business and all citizens in general work to make the country stronger. Because if that is the case, then each of us, each citizen will live better, and have higher incomes and be more comfortable, and so on. And that is the national idea. It isn’t ideological, it isn’t connected with any party or any stratum of society. It is connected to a general, unifying principle. If we want to live better, then the country must become more attractive for all citizens, more effective, and the public service and state apparatus and business must all become more effective. As you said, we work for the country, not understanding it in an amorphous way, like in Soviet times… when the country came first and then there was who knows what. The country is people, that’s what working ‘for the country’ means.

Of course even this might be rather too much for someone who blames whitey when blacks shoot up policemen and rewards the families of Islamic terrorists with front row seats at her conventions. (Though given HRC’s own “racist” skeletons – associations with KKK figures, the comments on superpredators, punitive anti-Black sentencing laws, etc. – it’s quite clear that her BLM and feminist pandering rhetoric is completely cynical and mercenary).

Now to be sure, Hillary Clinton can easily get away with such comments about Putin because of the strong ignorance of Russian political realities in the West and the Russophobic tilt of the Western media. But such comments elicit more skepticism when applied to anti-elite politicians in Western countries, because by definition Westerners are more familiar with them and they are pretty clearly not true (for instance, the “nationalist” Marine Le Pen is basically the conservative mainstream of yesteryear, being infinitely closer to Charles De Gaulle than, say, Marshal Pétain). And they should elicit much more skepticism when used to smear Donald Trump, given that basically everything “racist” he has ever said was taken out of context.

Will such ceaseless lying and prevarication, of which this is but one example, eventually rebound against Hillary Clinton and the mainstream media?

And eventually, perhaps, even on American perceptions of Russia?

After all if you can’t trust your media and self-proclaimed experts to tell your the truth about your own country, why should you defer to them to them on the Far Abroad?

Let us hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

 

Another August, another war scare. Intermittent reports of Russian military forces “staging” near Ukraine. Are the guns about to honor the title of a famous history book once again?

Almost certainly not. Or at least, not by Russia’s hand.

(1) Though you could play a drinking time for every mention of “Gleiwitz” in conjunction with the recent terrorist incidents in Crimea, no evidence has since been furnished in support of the theory that Russia set the whole thing up. As Alexander Mercouris points out, the Ukrainian counter-allegation that the shootout was the result of drunk friendly fire and that Evgeny Panov, the ringleader of the plot, had been abducted from Ukraine to play the role of scapegoat is “too fantastic for anyone to take seriously.”

(2) The Russian version of events – that there were two shootouts with Ukrainian sabotage teams, during which an FSB officer and a Russian Airborne Troops soldier were killed – remains the most self-consistent and credible one to date. Elements of the Maidanist Ukrainian elites have ample reasons to mount such an operation, including: (a) Spoiling the Crimean tourist season; (b) Disrupting the forthcoming elections in Crimea; (c) Remedying the decidedly embarassing lack of “native” Crimean resistance to the so-called “Russian occupation”; (d) Reigniting Western interest in Ukraine, which has been slacking off lately (see below).

(3) Although there has been some tough rhetoric from Russia after the incident – Putin talked of Ukraine “resorting to the practice” of terror – nothing much has since come of it apart from Russia cancelling the next round of Normandy Four talks scheduled for September in China. Otherwise, diplomatic relations with Ukraine aren’t even getting cancelled, a possibility that was mooted by Izvestia in the immediate aftermath of the attacks. All in all, this has been an extremely milquetoast response to terrorist attacks organized out of a hostile neighboring country, for which Putin has been excoriated by Russian nationalists. “The “war with the junta” has been postponed for an indefinite period,” Igor Strelkov complained, pointing out that the Kremlin now seems to be more concerned with Syria instead of the plight of the Donbass under Ukrainian bombings. “Putin saved the Syrians. And is prepared to save them further. Together with the “cursed pindosy” and “Turkish backstabbers”… that is, “dear friends.” Hard to keep track of these things. But what’s the difference, in the end? The main goal, after all, is to save Syrians.

(4) The 40,000 Russian troops – a consistently familiar figure throughout the past two years – that have been claimed to be at Ukraine’s border are not enough for a proper invasion. Stratfor estimated that Russia would need about 30,000 personnel to seize the “land corridor” to Crimea, though that was back in early 2015 when the Ukrainian Armed Forces were much weaker. The much cited recent Institute for the Study of War map purporting to display Russian military dispositions as of August 12 shows that at best only half that number is present on the requisite front.

understanding-war-map-crimea-2016-august

(5) The Saker might claim that “Ukronazi attack against Novorussia would be exceedingly unlikely to succeed” and even that “Novorussians are capable of not only stopping a Ukronazi attack, but even of an operationally deep counter-attack,” but people who are actually on the ground seem to disagree. For instance, here is what Alexander Zhuchkovsky, an NVF insider and generally reliable source, has to say about that: “I am a big patriot of the DNR and our Armed Forces, but one has to be objective. It’s clear to everyone that without Russia’s help we will not be able to last even a week against the Ukrainian Armed Forces, if they throw all their forces against the LDNR. Not because we are worse than they are (we’re better), but simply because the correlation of forces are against us.” At its core, the NVF remains a militia (opolchenie); a very well armed and trained militia, to be sure, possibly even the world’s most powerful one, but a militia nonetheless – good in defense, but not much of a factor in any truly large-scale offensive operations, and outnumbered 40,000 to 250,000.

(6) Some of the conspiracy theories have revolved around the idea that Putin is plotting a war to raise United Russia’s ratings in the forthcoming parliamentary elections: “He constantly needs a series of quasi-wars to keep the pro-Putin majority mobilized,according to an analyst at the Moscow Carnegie Center. Such ideas are based on a fundamental misreading of the Russian economy and society – namely, that living standards have collapsed due to the sanctions and that the Putin system is in crisis (which one can creatively tie in with recent political reshufflings, such as the replacement of Sergey Ivanov with Anton Vaino as head of the Presidential Administration). In reality, the recession has been mild, at least so far as recessions go; it has almost certainly either ended or is close to ending; and according to opinion polls, United Russia faces absolutely no challenges to its dominance (if anything, electoral law chances since the last elections cycle means that United Russia is likely to actually increase its share of the Duma’s seats this year).

russia-vs-ukraine-military-power(7) Like it or not, but outright war with Maidanist Ukraine has been ruled out from the beginning, as the more perceptive analysts like Rostislav Ischenko have long recognized. If there was a time and a place for it, it was either in April 2014, or August 2014 at the very latest. Since then, the Ukrainian Army has gotten much stronger. It has been purged of its “Russophile” elements, and even though it has lost a substantial percentage of its remnant Soviet-era military capital in the war of attrition with the LDNR, it has more than made up for it with wartime XP gain and the banal fact of a quintupling in military spending as a percentage of GDP from 1% to 5%. This translates to an effective quadrupling in absolute military spending, even when accounting for Ukraine’s post-Maidan economic collapse. Russia can still crush Ukraine in a full-scale conventional conflict, and that will remain the case for the foreseeable future, but it will no longer be the happy cruise to the Dnepr that it would have been two years earlier.

By the same token, however, now is absolutely not the worst time for the Ukrainian Maidanists themselves to heat things up.

(1) The economic collapse has stabilized, but the economic miracle that Maidanists have been promising as soon as Ukraine was to be “freed” from Russo-Soviet kleptocracy has yet to happen. The economy remains in the doldrums, and along with it, Poroshenko’s approval ratings, which are currently lower than Viktor “Vegetable” Yanukovych’s absolute minimum while he was in power.

(2) Due to nationalist pressure, Ukraine is incapable of implementing Minsk II in principle. The longer it dithers, however, the more Western politicians lose interest in it, and even begin to talk up the possibility of restoring normal relations with Russia again – the new Tory government of Theresa May and her FM Boris Johnson in the UK are the most striking example to date, though similar sentiments have been expressed by people such as Italian PM Matteo Renzi and German FM Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Poroshenko’s failure to stem corruption is beginning to lose him the trust even of the most hardcore foreign svidomy activists. The Maidanist regime has even been unable to fulfill one of the Maidan’s most elementary demands, that of visa-free travel with the EU; they have only succeeded in making said “bezviz” an ironic meme to make fun of svidomy on Ukrainian discussion boards.

(3) And if all this isn’t enough there is also the trumpening presence of Donald Trump on the American electoral horizon – a man who has made it clear he has no quarrel with Russia, doesn’t see enabling Eastern Yuropeans to pursue their Russophobic vendettas as a good use of American resources, and recognizes the democratic choice of the Crimean people to be with Russia. Unsurprisingly, Maidanist politicians have been lining up to ritualistically denounce Trump as a “dangerous outcast” and thrice-accursed traitor to freedom/democracy/fluffy kittens/etc. A Trump victory will therefore be a huge ideological and PR blow against the Maidan regime, even if Trump’s apparent Russophilia turns out to be phantasmagorical and contents himself with leaving Obama’s realistic non-interventionist policy towards Ukraine intact.

A new war nicely takes care of all three factors.

(1) Permanent austerity can be ascribed to perpetual war, while providing a pretext for suppressing dissent from aspiring political challengers. In particular, the collapse of Poroshenko’s ratings has made Yulia Tymoshenko, a businesswoman-politician previously discredited by corruption allegations that went into the hundreds of millions of dollars, a credible political figure once again (if only because the rest of the Ukrainian elite is at least equally bankrupt in terms of legitimacy). Moreover, Tymoshenko has become the chief political patron of Nadia Savchenko, the “hero airwoman” who has lost the trust of the svidomy who had formerly adulated over her in record time by making overtures to the heads of the LDNR and calling for direct negotiations with them. This is not welcome news to the ruling Maidan elites.

(2) Limited war with Russia will make it much harder for the US to “abandon” its “ally” Ukraine, and will torpedo current trends towards normalizing relations between Russia and the West. Since Ukraine’s strategy boils down to the West “suffocating” Russia before Russia suffocates Ukraine, that would be a highly positive development that might even be worth the loss of extra territory to the LDNR. The Western media can be relied upon to blame Russia regardless of what happens, and by extension, the people they have associated with “enabling” Putinist imperialism – namely, Donald Trump (incidentally, this is why him getting rid of the competent-but-compromised Paul Manafort as head of his campaign is a regrettable but prudent strategic move).

(3) This brings us to Peter Lavelle’s notion of an “October Surprise”: Poroshenko is “Washington’s man in Kiev,” he is in a “position to offer some favors,” and considering that the Maidan regime was ultimately enabled by Hillary Clinton’s proteges at the State Department – that is, the Nuland gang – it’s not exactly a wild bet that he will deliver:

What is now needed and is probably being planned is a manufactured incident to make it look like Russia attacked and invaded Ukraine. The American public will be rallied with the usual mantra “something must be done” and the Trump campaign will be left flat footed, red faced, and denounced. Joe McCarthy will smile with glee from the grave.

At the beginning of 2016, I predicted a 30% chance that the war in Donbass will reignite sometime this year. However, this was done under the assumption that Trump only had a 40% chance of securing the Republican nomination, and before he had made his antipathy to the Pozocracy really explicit. So, unfortunately, I have to raise this to as high as 50% now.

And if that coin toss leads to renewed war, it’s a safe bet that Ukraine would be the main instigator.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Geopolitics, Ukraine, War in Donbass 

In terms of content, the Weisses of this world are a dime a dozen. So why “expose” yet another neocon propagandist?

Because he is also very nasty, and very dangerous – as Richard Silverstein’s comprehensive profile of Michael D. Weiss, just published at The Unz Review, convincingly argues.

So far as (functional) psychopathy goes, he really is one of a kind in the world of journalism.

And if pushing kompromat up the Google rankings makes at least a few people think twice before associating with him too closely, then the effort will be worth it.

michael-weiss-with-jihadists

Weiss in his element.

I. The Making of a Neocon

The first thing one notices about Weiss is that he is a neocon propagandist.

Yes, to be sure, in 90%+ of cases, the two things are tautological. But Weiss really knows how to take it to the n-th level.

https://twitter.com/akarlin88/status/652993280133599232/

Despite knowing neither Russian nor Arabic nor Farsi, he has somehow – by somehow, I mean sponsorship by such doyens of the Pozocracy such as #NeverTrumper PNAC neocon Bill Kristol, exiled Russian crook Khodorkovsky, and Bill Browder – become an authoritative MSM voice on Russia, Syria, Iran, the war in Donbass, and many other geopolitical topics.

Here is a primer on Weiss from Mark Ames’ Pando profile of Peter Pomerantsev, a close associate of his:

During the late Bush years, Weiss worked for the neocon organ of Bill Kristol, the Weekly Standard; afterwards, Weiss headed up a neocon PR project, “Just Journalism,” which policed the English-language press for any journalism critical of Israel in the wake of its brutal war on Gaza in 2008-9. Then, as Syria descended into civil war, Weiss became one of the leading neocon warmongers pushing for America to invade Syria. Perhaps most troubling of all when it comes to Pomerantsev’s credibility — Weiss played a lead role in promoting the career of one of the most notorious academic frauds of our time, Elizabeth O’Bagy, the fake Syria “expert” whom Weiss teamed up with to argue for war in Syria. Apparently after O’Bagy was exposed as a fraud with no Syria credentials, Weiss skulked away, only to reappear with a new co-author—Peter Pomeranstev—and a new beat: Putin’s Russia. [The War Nerd wrote this excellent article on Elizabeth O'Bagy's strange & sleazy story.]

When he isn’t appearing on the Clinton News Network as an “expert” to tell everyone about Putin joining ISIS before appearing at academic conferences to wax lyrical about how Russia is a “post-modern dictatorship” where there is “no truth,” Weiss somehow finds the time to serve as editor of both The Daily Beast and The Interpreter.

The Interpreter is a blog dedicated to translating articles from the Russian media (read: Novaya Gazeta, Echo of Moscow, and other almost exclusively anti-Putin outlets), which has recently come under the auspices of the US state-controlled media organization the BBG (Broadcasting Board of Governors), whose main project remains that Cold War era mastadon, RFERL (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty). The RFERL is an organization so dedicated to Western values of free speech that they fired a strongly anti-Putin journalist, Andrey Babitsky, for having the temerity to report on Ukrainian war crimes.

It is in this context, in his capacity as editor of The Interpreter, that I had my first run-in with Michael Weiss.

II. The Russian Spectrum

At the time, I had set up and was trying to find financing for The Russian Spectrum (TRS), a project that aimed to make translations from the Russian press available to the Anglosphere (in other words, a kind of English-language Inosmi, a RIA project to make “free” Western media available for the delectation of information-deprived and Kremlin-brainwashed Russians (if one that has had rather unintended consequences).

If you look at the TRS archives, you will see translations from a variety of sources both pro- and anti-Putin, with the latter including Latynina, Kashin, Lev Gudkov, Yavlinsky, etc: http://akarlin.com/qualia/translation/

Though my skepticism of the Russian liberal movement is hardly a secret, my aim was to keep TRS broadly ideologically neutral by representing all points of view.

At the time I was interested in exploring avenues of cooperation with other projects that were interested in doing stuff similar to what I was doing, and as yet unaware of the extent to which Michael Weiss was… special, I wrote him the following email:

Dear Michael Weiss/Interpreter Staff,

It is great to see you making translations of the Russian press available for a wider audience. Regardless of one’s political views, that is an unquestionably positive and effective means of fostering more informed views and dialog on Russian politics and society.

As it happens, I have a similar project at The Russian Spectrum (though it is more narrowly focused just on the translation activity)….

Since we share a common interest in presenting “English Inosmi” services, I would like to propose a partnership or cooperation agreement to avoid needlessly duplicating work and expanding the range of translated pieces we both offer. …

Thank you for your consideration. I look forwards to hearing from you on what you think of this.

He refused, as I suspected he would, as was of course his complete right, and I treated the matter as done – until I got involved in a Twitter spat with him several months later.

During this “argument,” Weiss claimed that I was running around “begging favors” from him and threatened to publish my letter, gloating in the prospect of mr being discredited amongst my “Putinist chums.” So I was like, LOL, go ahead. Apparently, the idea that not all people operate by Bolshevik principles – of which neoconservatism is an outgrowth – must have been quite foreign to him.

The banal reality is that my inroads into “Putinist” circles are in fact rather modest, so the harm he could have done by divulging these private communications was in any case negligible. And that was on the mistaken assumption that Weiss’ projections were correct – which they weren’t. The reality is that many “Putinist” institutions are in fact quite pluralist; RIA during its existence was an outright bednest of liberalism, and even “KGB TV” (aka RT) once took the decidedly unwise step of inviting Weiss to participate in one of their shows:

However, as would soon become clear, my experience with Weiss was not an isolated one. Doxxing, blackmail, and character assassination are central tools in his “journalistic” repertoire.

And those tools are not limited to big people like Putin and Trump, and big organizations like RT, that can roll with the punches and strike back.

III. Conservative Friends of Russia

In 2012, there was an effort by elements of the UK Conservative Party to improve relations with Russia under the umbrella of the short-lived Conservative Friends of Russia (CFoR) organization.

According to an acquaintance who was involved with CFoR at the time, Weiss sent an email to CFoR’s office posing as an investigative “journalist” – but essentially demanding that they either come out in support of the Magnitsky Act, or get destroyed in the media.

The guy who was allegedly financing Weiss’ Russia project at the Henry Jackson Society at that time? None other than Bill Browder – the main sponsor of the Magnitsky Act.

Incidentally, since then, it’s become increasingly clear that Browder’s motives were far murkier – and more mercenary – than implied by the simple morality tale of justice for Magnitsky pushed by the Act’s sponsors. And he has expended a lot of effort – mostly successful – to gag a documentary film by (the anti-Putin liberal) Andrey Nekrasov, which made Browder out to be a liar:

Browder has thwarted Nekrasov’s previous attempts to show the film with threats of legal action. The first time, he intervened at the last minute to stop Nekrasov, with Blu-ray disc in hand, from showing it to an audience of European Union parliamentarians at the their headquarters in Brussels… Nekrasov told that his experience dealing with Browder “has been a bit depressing, to be frank.”

“What I discovered is how easy it is — if you have a lot of money — to basically gag somebody,” Nekrasov said.

In any case, CFoR apparently refused to accede to Weiss’ offer that could not be refused, and a defamation campaign by him and others in his circle, such as Sergey Cristo – the guy behind the Guardian plagiarist hack Luke Harding’s attack piece on CFoR – ensued. The specific allegations raised by Weiss were rather comprehensively rebutted by CFoR’s head Richard Royal; most amusingly, the “glowing biographies of Vladimir Putin” that were supposedly distributed at a CFoR event were, according to my source, actually copies of Richard Sakwa’s The Crisis of Russian Democracy – one of the most diligently researched and densely footnoted academic works on the Russian political system in the English language. In no conceivable universe could it be considered a Putin hagiography.

“[Weiss] lies and lies and is very aggressive,” concluded my source.

Unfortunately, as Patrick Armstrong pointed out, there are far more questions than can be answered – or to quote the famous Internet meme, “the amount of energy necessary to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it” – and so the CFoR came under immense political pressure and had to Shut Down (though it later reappeared as the Westminster Russia Forum, and played a key role in the campaign to reward medals to British veterans who participated in the Arctic Convoy missions in World War 2).

IV. Sundry Other Episodes

I never bothered actively following Weiss, even back when I was on Twitter. That said, at least three additional episodes of his misadventures came to my attention (at the very least I found them on my timeline while researching this article).

(1) Doxxing the “pro-Assad” and “pro-Putin” troll @LibertyLynx.

The irony is that @LibertyLynx is absolutely nothing of the sort; she has, in fact, along with comrade-in-arms Craig Pirrong (aka Streetwise Professor) been consistently and in the past – virulently – anti-Putin. Moreover, she and I have something of a “history” and thus I can’t be said to have any particularly compelling reasons to take her side. That said, in the past 1-2 years she appears to have moderated in this regard, having come to be unnerved by rampant neocon warmongery and hypocrisy (including in Syria).

This appears to have upset Michael Weiss very much, inciting him and his Interpreter associate the mentally deranged Catherine Fitzpatrick (she literally believes using open-source software like WordPress is “technocommunism” and therefore theft) to advance the conspiracy theory that @LibertyLynx was in fact a sockpuppet of Craig Pirrong and/or Rachel Marsden (!). Conveniently, Weiss made sure to delete those allegations of his before posting the doxx of @LibertyLynx.

(2) Insinuating that Maram Susli, aka @Partisangirl – an Assad supporter, as is perfectly her right as an emigre Syrian woman, and by extension one of the foremost proponents of secularism in Syria on social media – was a terrorist suspect under surveillance by Australian intelligence.

This is coming from a guy who regularly pals about with moderate jihadists(TM):

(3) There is also an extensive account from Irish journalist Bryan MacDonald about his run-ins with Weiss and his Interpreter associate James Miller.

Later in 2014, I wrote a couple of op-eds for RT on and Ben Judah. Both centred on erroneous, factually deviant articles they had written. At no point did I cast aspersions on their private lives, the very thought would have been abhorrent. Around this time, Weiss, a close associate of that pair, began to make obnoxious tweets of a personal nature, directed at me. Miller then emailed me a list of questions, which essentially asked me to “prove you are not a spy” and tagged Weiss on the correspondence. I later sent Weiss a few similar posers so he’d see how ludicrous it was.

Then a “hit piece” appeared on the Interpreter blog, written by James Miller and the same Robert Schultz, making all kinds of wild allegations. The whole thing was so ludicrous that nobody with a brain could possibly have taken it seriously. It essentially alleged that I was a Russian spy who had lied about my background. It also slandered the same ex of mine, calling her a “porn star” and was obsessed with the fact that I changed the spelling of my name for work reasons.

It gets a lot worse:

Right on cue, the Twitter attacks resumed. Then the phone calls started up again. One ‘gentleman’ phoned the local newspaper in the town where I grew up looking for information about me. I last wrote for them in 1998. Someone then called my mother, at home, asking questions. This made me extremely angry because my mother was very sick at the time and it greatly distressed her. She, sadly, died a few months later. I’m not sure what these scumbags were hoping to achieve by harassing my poor mum.

These are the people whom American taxpayers effectively employ following The Interpreter’s partnership with RFERL.

V. We Have Yet to Hit Bottom

Go read Richard Silverstein’s profile of Michael Weiss.

All the above was just the tip of the iceberg.

There are good reasons to believe Weiss is substantially responsible for an American citizen wrongly ending up in an Iranian jail in his zeal to torpedo the US-Iranian nuclear deal.

Here are the most important bits:

Another puzzling, problematic author Weiss brought to the magazine was “Alex Shirazi” (a pseudonym). Until he published his first piece in July 2015 (a month after Weiss took on his new editorial role) under a joint byline with Weiss, there is no online record that “Shirazi” ever existed.

In preparation for his second [Daily Beast] article, “Shirazi” first approached Iranian-American oil executive Siamak Namazi, while the latter was visiting Iran in June 2015. At that time, the “journalist” did not reveal his real identity to his subject. He e-mailed a list of questions he wished Namazi to answer about the supposed financial benefits the Iranian regime offered his family.

The nature of the questions alarmed Namazi and members of his family Shirazi also contacted. As a result, they contacted Shirazi’s editor, Weiss, requesting that he review the questions himself, suggesting that they were unfair and even libelous. Weiss declined to intervene, so Namazi escalated his concerns to managing editor, John Avlon. He warned the Daily Beast executive that such an article was likely to harm both him and his family. All this was to no avail.

Within a week of receiving Shirazi’s inquiry, Namazi was stopped at the airport by Iranian security officials and refused permission to leave the country. Several months later, in September, DB published Shirazi’s profile, and within a month Namazi was in the notorious Evin Prison. This raises the strong probability that Iranian hardliners were monitoring either Shirazi or Namazi’s e-mail accounts, and that the questions and implicit accusations raised in the messages were exploited by Iranian intelligence officers to implicate Namazi.

Who is Siamak Namazi? His good friend, Reza Marashi, wrote this appreciation of him in Huffington Post:

He helped run a world-renowned consulting firm – staffed predominantly with Iranian-born citizens – that facilitated badly-needed foreign investment from blue-chip multinational corporations.

Neither money nor power was ever a driving force behind Siamak’s work. It was the indigenous development of his motherland that motivated him. Siamak wanted Iran to live up to its vast potential, and he was at the forefront of teaching international best practices and standards in business and management to scores of young Iranians. The pride on his face was always evident when his employees would move on to successful careers across a variety of fields in Iran.

…As U.S. sanctions were causing medical supply shortages in Iran, he independently researched and published what became the authoritative literature on the subject. I was in the audience when he presented his findings in Washington DC. As Siamak began to describe the disastrous impact of sanctions on innocent Iranians, he choked up, paused for a moment, composed himself, and then proceeded to finish his presentation. That’s how much he loves the country that is currently keeping him in prison.

To reinforce the ominousness of the charges against Namazi, the graphic art accompanying the DB article consisted of a series of shady-looking Arab militants sporting beards, long hair, a turban and sunglasses. The image is a cross between an Arab playboy and an ISIS fighter. No one in Iran dresses this way…

The main contention implicit in the headline was itself wrong on several counts. Neither Siamak nor his family are “behind” the so-called “Iran Lobby.” Nor is the Iranian-American NGO attacked in the article, the National Iranian-American Council (NIAC) “America’s Iran Lobby.”

A common smear tactic of DC Beltway neoconservatives and the Iranian cult group, Mujahadeen e Khalq (MEK) has been to label NIAC a stooge of the Iranian regime. In reality, NIAC is a completely independent, nonpartisan organization.

Ironically, Aipac, a group heartily supported by those like Eli Lake, Kenneth Timmerman and Weiss who’ve attacked NIAC, is far more of a slavish booster of the Israeli regime than NIAC is of the Iranian regime.

Among Iranian-Americans, there has been a great deal of speculation about “Shirazi’s” real identity. A number of them have noted that shortly before his DB article was published a very similar post appeared in a Farsi-language blog written by a former Iranian journalist and activist, Nikahang Kowsar.

Iranians I spoke with believe Kowsar hates the Iranian regime so much, he hopes the hardliners will come to power. Then, it will be that much easier to promote a western attack on Iran that would topple the regime. So in a terribly perverse way, his interests coincide with those of the hardliners.

In the course of interviewing Iranian sources for this profile, one told me that the author “Shirazi” approached him with questions about the Namazi family. In the course of the e mails that went back and forth, “Shirazi” slipped up and forgot to use his fake e mail address. Instead, he used his real email address and name: Nikahang Kowsar.

The most profound irony of the entire episode is that a group of neocon polemicists, in an attempt to defame NIAC, have used the Namazi family as a sacrificial goat. The parallel force on the Iranian side, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and other hardliners, have exploited this struggle for their own purposes. …

It’s also ironic that both Kowsar and the Iranian hardliners detest NIAC, and for similar reasons. They each detest the nuclear agreement as they detest any rapprochement in relations between Iran and the west. Inside Iran, the extremists even call NIAC and figures like Siamak “infiltrators.”

Perhaps the ultimate irony of this affair is that Michael Weiss and his neocon comrades, in their desperation to sabotage U.S.-Iran relations have made common cause with the most hardline and vicious of Iran’s clerical regime. They make for very strange bedfellows.

VI.

Or maybe not so strange after all. Birds of a feather flock together, and the totalitarian sees another totalitarian from afar.

We are not merely dealing with an eloquent and well-connected ideologue. This is a psychopath who views the world through a Manichean prism, in which you are either with him or you are subhuman scum, to be smeared into oblivion even if your disagreements with him are ultimately quite modest, as with @LibertyLynx, or tricked and utilized for the Great Cause should the opportunity present itself (as with the hapless idealist Namazi).

As James Carden pointed out in an investigative essay in The Nation, his attitude towards the media is profoundly McCarthyite:

The authors call for the creation of an “internationally recognized ratings system for disinformation” that would furnish news organizations and bloggers with the “analytical tools with which to define forms of communication.” While they throw in an obligatory caveat that “top-down censorship should be avoided” (exactly how is left unexplained), they nonetheless endorse what amounts to a media blacklist. “Vigorous debate and disagreement is of course to be encouraged,” the authors write, “but media organizations that practice conscious deception should be excluded from the community.”

What qualifies as “conscious deception” is also left undefined, but it isn’t difficult to surmise. Organizations that do not share the authors’ enthusiasm for regime change in Syria or war with Russia over Ukraine would almost certainly be “excluded from the community.” Weiss, for instance, has asserted repeatedly that Russia is to blame for the July 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17. But would a news organization like, say, The Atlantic or Der Spiegel be “excluded from the community” for writing about a German intelligence report that indicated the missile in question did not come from Russia? Would journalists like Robert Parry be blacklisted for questioning the mainstream account of the tragedy? Would scholars like the University of Ottawa’s Paul Robinson be banned from appearing on op-ed pages and cable-news programs for challenging the notion that there is, in the words of Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, “no civil war in Ukraine,” but rather a war “started and waged by Russia”?

Weiss and Pomerantsev accuse the Kremlin of “making deception equivalent to argumentation and the deliberate misuse of facts as legitimate as rational persuasion.” Maybe so. But these tactics are hardly unique to the Kremlin. In December, a group of Kiev parliamentarians presented photographs to the Senate Armed Services Committee purporting to show Russian troops and tanks invading eastern Ukraine. Subsequent reports revealed that the images had been taken during the Russian-Georgian war in 2008. Did the Interpreter denounce the Ukrainian delegation for trying to pass off doctored photos? No. Its warnings about disinformation cut only one way.

Incidentally, Pomeranstev, a close associate of Weiss and the rest of the yuppie neocon circle (Ben Judah, Ioffe, Applebaum, etc), in a recent report co-authored with Edward Lucas, argues for equating pro-Russian views with those of radical Islam:

A third proposal in this report is perhaps even more bizarre. Citing efforts to deradicalize Islamic militants, Lucas and Pomerantsev write that, ‘Similar initiatives should be undertaken with radicalized, pro-Kremlin supporters, those on the far left and the far right, and Russian speakers.’ Are they suggesting anti-brainwashing programs for people who watch RT or read Russia Insider? I really don’t know what to make of this.

You’ve made it this far down this article? Report to your nearest soma dispensation station immediately, citizen!

What are the ideological roots of Weiss’ totalitarian instincts?

Weiss lists as his special heroes Karl Marx, Irving Howe (a bit of a clash there between the founder of Communism and an ardent anti-Communist), and George Orwell. Among the surprising things this future neocon endorses is “socialized healthcare.”

How… Orwellian.

The Soviet dissident Sergey Dovlatov’s aphorism is rarely more appropriate: “After communists, most of all I hate anti-communists.”

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Journalism, Kompromat, Michael Weiss 

At his blog Greg Cochran raises the issue of the Great Stagnation.

decline-in-growth

Basically, GDP per capita growth rates throughout the developed world have plummeted relative to the levels of 1950-1973 (the years of the miracle economy, Wirtschaftswunder, trentes glorieuses, etc).

They are however more or less typical of growth rates earlier in the century, substantially higher than in the 19th century, and still cardinally different from the Malthusian stasis that characterized most of human history (when technology increases led to bigger populations but no improvements in individual wellbeing, at least in nutritional terms).

So the question could also be put as: What made the third quarter of the 20th century so special?

(1) Long-term GDP per capita growth is ultimately a function of growth in total factor productivity, or the “A” part of the Cobb-Douglas production function (where GDP = A*Capital^0.3*Labor^0.7).

(2) Total factor productivity is itself, for the most part, a function of technology, including social technology (otherwise known as institutions); and of aggregate cognitive power, which determines the efficiency with which said technology can be utilized.

Now let us look at each of the above in turn:

(a) Social technology – In general, in most places – within the OECD, at least, as a criterion of inclusion – the best mix of institutions for maximizing economic output has already been found and implemented. There are, to be sure, substantial differences in ease of business and hours worked between, say, Italy and the US; but said differences are marginal, not cardinal, such as those between North Korea and the US.

Incidentally, the idea that in most areas of the world improving institutions further has entered the realm of decreasing marginal returns is hardly a fringe view in economics (e.g. Glaeser 2004).

(b) Cognitive power – Literacy was closing in on 100% by 1900 in the US and “core” Europe. At that same time, the Flynn effect took off in earnest, continuing to around 1970-2000 but tapering off or even going into decline by the turn of the millennium. So aggregate elite cognitive power is now increasing at much more modest rates than before.

(c) Technology – As per Apollo’s Ascent Theory, there is an equilibrium technology level for every level of aggregate cognitive power, with the rate of growth of technology being proportional to the gap between the current and equilibrium state. However, since the equilibrium level of technology is now seeing only very minor gains (relative to the trend for most of the 20th century), technological growth has also become more subdued.

(3) The decline in technological growth leads to a decline in the rate of GDP per capita growth in the advanced countries, which are close to the technological frontier.

(4) Why is China growing very fast? Because its growth is based on mere convergence to the developed world, which it can effect by dint of its First World-quality human capital. At a stroke, the reforms of the 1980s involved a quantum leap in social technology (i.e. abandonment of Maoist economics, an aberration that made Soviet-style central planning look rational) and the removal of barriers to technological diffusion from the developed world.

(5) Why was the 1950-1973 period that of the miracle economy?

The conventional explanation is that the world hit a sweet spot in which many interrelated productivity improvements linked to advances in electro-mechanics, decision theory, etc. in prior recent decades that had been marred by war and instability could now all be implemented at the same time. Another important factor is that back then industry accounted for a larger share of GDP than today, which enabled faster growth because productivity improvements in manufacturing are easier to implement than in services.

However, surely another major factor was that the Flynn Effect and improvements in cognitive technology, or what you could view as technology-to-make-technology (e.g. much better “cognitive sorting,” as described by Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein in The Bell Curve) was advancing at a very rapid pace during that period.

Also, both Europe and Japan had been wrecked by the war, so they were very much below potential; and Japan especially still had ample scope for pure convergence growth, conveniently protected under the American security umbrella. Hence why most of Europe and especially Japan grew even faster than the US during that period.

There is also a “thermoeconomics” school (e.g. Ayres 2002) which argues that the Great Stagnation is explainable on account of energy conversion efficiency ratios beginning to hit plateaus from the 1970s.

ayres-us-gdp-forecasts1

Potentially, this could even lead to a decline in the level of equilibrium GDP, if technological growth slows down past the point at which it no longer fully counteracts increasing resource depletion.

That said, I don’t know to what extent I buy this thesis, and especially the impicit assumption that GDP must be quite tightly linked to material output.

 
• Category: Economics • Tags: Apollo's Ascent, Economic History 

Thomas Theiner, a businessman expat who has lived in Ukraine for the past 5 years, on what “business in Ukraine is really like”:

It was not supposed to be this way. Everyone knew that Ukraine was notoriously corrupt under President Viktor Yanukovych’s regime, which demanded a share of every deal and business. The anger at this kleptocracy drove Ukrainians to the streets in 2013-2014. After the Euromaidan, Ukraine was supposed to be a modern, European country.

That hasn’t happened. By now it is clear that the corrupt and thieving government-mafia clans are still in charge.

Businessmen that had managed to survive Yanukovych’s shakedowns are throwing in the towel.

Nigel, a British citizen I know, came to Ukraine in 2004. He and a Ukrainian partner built up an engineering company with more than a hundred employees. In 2011, he won a major contract from the US government, which meant that Yanukovych’s goons went into overdrive to shake him down. In 2013-2014, Nigel supported the Euromaidan enthusiastically, only to be harassed by the new “clean” officials under Poroshenko for their share. With the currency having fallen by over 70 percent, the new authorities demanded three times the money to offset the aforementioned fall. Nigel didn’t buckle, so the authorities revoked his visa, threatened deportation, and harassed the family of his Ukrainian partner. Today, the company is closed, everyone has been fired, and Nigel works in Britain.

The European Choice:

In another story, Sven, one of Scandinavia’s biggest food traders, attempted to source raw materials and basic food products from Ukraine. He believed that the EU-Ukraine association agreement signed in 2014 would finally make sourcing food from Ukraine a viable business. He gave up on Ukraine within a few months: he could not find a single Ukrainian company that didn’t demand an envelope of cash before telling him the prices and available volumes, and then would only give him a competitive price if he agreed to split the profits.

Another example:

James, who is Australian but has been in Ukraine for sixteen years, worked for an oligarch, and speaks perfect Russian, built one of the premier real estate agencies in Ukraine. This winter, he and his Ukrainian wife went on holiday; when they returned to Kyiv, they discovered that an employee with the backing of some government people had stolen their company. The employee had all the correct documentation and everything signed off by a judge; the only thing missing was the signature of the actual owner. But this is Ukraine, so the employee bribed a judge, the judge ruled in his favor, the employee paid a registrar and a notary, and he now owns the agency.

So who is Theiner anyway?

Who is this damnable wrecker? This separatist? This Kremlin troll smearing the Ukrainian people’s European Choice?

theiner-flatten-belgorod

 

Oh. Guess not.

The government in Kyiv should announce that Ukraine will take these 6 steps within the next 72 hours:

* Destroy all gas pipelines & bomb the Belarusian gas pipeline, thus launching the boycott of Russian energy that the West has refused to undertake until now.
* Flood Ukraine with small arms by arming every patriotic citizen to unleash a massive guerrilla war when Russian forces invade.
* Provide guerrillas with Anti-tank Guided Missiles, Man Portable Air-defense Missiles, mines, explosives and everything else in Ukraine’s arsenal to ensure the guerrillas can resist effectively for years.
* Call on Ukrainians in the West to attack and kill members of the Putin regime, their associates and close relatives.
* Remove uranium from Ukraine’s nuclear reactors and prepare to disperse it in Russia by all means possible—the Budapest Memorandum depriving Ukraine of nuclear power status is clearly moot now.
* Prepare to shell Belgorod with whatever missiles and artillery Ukraine has in its arsenal to flatten that city.

So basically one of the leading paragons of svidomism is acknowledging what has been evident from the very beginning:

* Opinion polls: Ukrainians Paying MORE Bribes After the Maidan

* At best stagnation, or outright retreat, on indices of transparency and budget openness relative to the “kleptocratic” rule of Yanukovych.

* The Panama Papers, where Poroshenko was named in person

* The former Defense Minister Valery Geletey who promised a victory parade in Sevastopol… by way of the acquisiton of a $36mn estate in the UK.

* The Office of the General Prosecutor announces it is searching for whoever it was that stole the American money for its own reform.

* Lexuses and Mercedes at a summit of Ukraine’s Anti-Corruption Forum.

* Poroshenko condemns NY Times article about Ukraine’s corruption as an element of Russia’s “hybrid war” against Ukraine, and the Rada demands its repudiation.

The smarter sorts of svidomy are going back on their support of Euromaidan and even repudiating their old Russophobia.

Not Thomas Theiner, though:

For the true svidomy Bolsheviks, the Revolution has a beginning but no end.

kuczynski-eternal-revolution

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Corruption, Ukraine 
Anatoly Karlin
About Anatoly Karlin

I am a blogger, thinker, and businessman in the SF Bay Area. I’m originally from Russia, spent many years in Britain, and studied at U.C. Berkeley.

One of my tenets is that ideologies tend to suck. As such, I hesitate about attaching labels to myself. That said, if it’s really necessary, I suppose “liberal-conservative neoreactionary” would be close enough.

Though I consider myself part of the Orthodox Church, my philosophy and spiritual views are more influenced by digital physics, Gnosticism, and Russian cosmism than anything specifically Judeo-Christian.