75 years into what?

One of the most striking things I find from D Day commemorations is the implicit understanding among most who attend that victory was not inevitable. I think it’s what makes the drama of D Day still so compelling after all these years. The letter of failure prewritten by Eisenhower, how Hitler slept late while panzers sat idle, the blinding courage that seized Omaha Beach before the day ended with elite Nazi infantry separating the Allied beachheads. It all could have gone very differently.

This (and the Eurocentric mindset that permeates a war that essentially began in 1914) makes D Day something more than say, the invasion of Okinawa. Depending on how you count troop or ship numbers, the Allied invasion of Okinawa can be considered the larger and certainly far bloodier affair. But victory in Okinawa was essentially inevitable. It was simply a matter of how many Allied and Japanese would die in battle (alongside a near tragic 50% fatality rate of Okinawan civilians).

D Day is different, a great gambit, one of the most consequential risks in the history of war. Without it, it’s conceivable to consider the ideas of a separate peace with Germany, something less than total victory. A Europe and a world that would look very different. A massive failure of democracy against the worst of totalitarianism.

But to me, the seeds of victory lie in the differing systems at war, the different visions of humanity. Put in the bluntest of military of terms, the Allies win because democracy allows the battlefield flexibility of thought, leadership, and initiative required. Conversely, Rommel has to wait for a dictator to give him the most basic and common sense of tactical orders. One system was doomed to fail, to fall apart under its own contradictions. Something similar happens in the political realm with the Soviets Circa 1989.

So it’s a victory rightly celebrated, honored, and remembered. But I’m always given pause when considering these sorts of events. That was then, a generation guided by a singular purpose to keep their societies free. My own family was among them. How does that stack up with today?

Today speech laws in Britain can get you jailed if you publicly quote the “wrong” words of Churchill. Since that day the vaunted Allied coalition has lost more wars than it’s won, it will soon be in Afghanistan five times longer than it took to win World War II. 75 years after a war to preserve freedom across the globe, very few bat an eye when the Sudanese military guns down over 100 unarmed protestors; because they can, because they know nobody cares.

So D Day into what? I think a much narrower purpose than one would wish for. Perhaps less about freedom or democracy for the globe, but rather the very narrow goal for the planet’s Western powers to defeat the Imperial Japanese and Nazi threat that sought to supplant them. And then immediately after, to confront a Soviet threat that sought to do the same. If you don’t have nuclear weapons, eventually the very opposite Soviet and Western visions would have had to resolve their conflict in battle. But, the threat of mutual destruction left the Soviets to fall politically in 1989, albeit with a miserly amount of proxy wars that broke dozens of the planet’s other nations.

One out of every nine Americans wore a military uniform during this war. The equivalent number is if 30 million Americans were in the military today. Instead, there are more Americans in jail or prison at this very moment than are on active duty service. More Americans are likely to know their smartphone in greater detail than the most basic considerations of D Day. Whole sections of the modern culture think history has nothing to offer us at all, that it needs revision, or even destruction to rebuild society into something new.

It gives one pause, and a wonder about what D Day bought the world 75 years ago. A journey, into what? Toward victory, yes. But then what? That still, even today, is for us to decide. They bought us the chance we all have today. Today, as then, it’s up to us what we do with it.

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how not to conduct a coup

One cannot deny Juan Guaidó’s guts, even bravery, at taking the stand he has. I still don’t know how this man is still alive. Any number of deliberate accidents could have occurred by this point, to him or his family. Maduro’s drug trafficking gang regime is not exactly known for its restraint, having already used live rounds against unarmed demonstrators and raping the family members of defector soldiers.

Nevertheless when Guaidó appeared on television yesterday calling for a coup, I had a bad feeling about it all. I felt he was overplaying his hand, reckless, and doomed to fail. Which is exactly what happened. Guaidó seemed to not understand the basic law of coups or war, you need guns and lots of guns. Guaidó had only a few dozen soldiers, who are now hiding in the Brazilian embassy. Leopoldo Lopez, another key opposition figure who broke house arrest to appear in yesterday’s video, went to the Spanish embassy. Guaidó’s whereabouts are unknown.

What did he expect to happen? Well, here’s the insanity of it folks. This was the “plan”:

1) The chief justice of Venezuela’s supreme court Maikel Moreno was supposed to declare “legally” that the Guaidó led legislature was the legitimate arm of the Venezuelan government. This is the point that Guaidó has made all along, that Maduro’s election is fraudulent and thus by the constitution Guaidó is the legitimate acting president.

2) Using this legal decision as his basis the Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez was then supposed to throw his weight behind the opposition and order the armed forces to shift their support to Guaidó. There are unconfirmed claims that other key regime figures such as the head of the domestic intelligence agency were also in on the plot.

3) It seems the key details of this plan were brokered between Guaidó, the coup plotters, and the US National Security Council. As in, John Bolton himself. We know this because Bolton laid out the plot itself in the last 24 hours, essentially explaining how the coup he engineered had failed. Bolton apparently still seems to think he’s a Fox News contributor and not a functioning government leader who should know when to keep his mouth shut.

4) What this means is the plan was never about soldiers fighting for Guaidó, or street demonstrators overthrowing the regime, but instead focused around what amounts to a palace coup where the main effort, the chances for any success, rested entirely on the personal decisions of hardcore Maduro regime loyalists.

That’s just about the dumbest plan I’ve heard all year. If that’s how this actually played out, then Bolton is an idiot. And Guaidó is either naïve, desperate, or stupid.

a) What would possess them to think that two of the most hardcore of Maduro loyalists in Moreno and Lopez were suddenly going to change hats, when their fortunes, their freedom, and perhaps their very lives depend on Maduro remaining on power?

b) Russia and Cuba have actual armed forces on the ground in Venezuela to support the regime. Their mission is to ensure the regime’s survival. For better or worse, the number of guns Bolton had on the ground is zero.

c) The Venezuelan armed forces and their paramilitary gangs have used live fire against unarmed civilians before. When this was always going to remain the case, and since Guaidó and Bolton essentially had zero guns of their own? So, … ???

Here is singular example of why one should not put their trust in the USA. Regardless of what political party happens to be in power, it’s not a wise bet. America’s enemies are serious. America is not. Bet on evil folks, it’s going to keep winning for a while.

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Keeps winning

human scum still alive

I prefer my evildoers to be comical or true believers. These are the bad guys one can get behind.

On the comical end of the spectrum are Bond villains, Indiana Jones Nazis, or say Maduro (a bumbling idiot of a former bus driver who hangs onto power because his vice president and generals are addicted to drug trafficking money). There was actually a Venezuelan propaganda video where Maduro was driving the slums talking up his record and in the background is a building with graffiti calling for his downfall. Not only does Maduro fail to notice this, but they were actually stupid enough to leave this in after editing. Now that’s a level of comical dumb I can get behind in my bad guys.

On the true believer end of the spectrum I like my villains to mean what they say. This provides the clearest indication for the rest of us as to how one can conduct their lives. For example, Hitler shot his own wife and himself rather than be taken. Dude was pure evil, probably mostly insane, but at least meant what he said. Or take the currently popular Thanos (I don’t watch these movies but it’s hard not to know what happens) who follows through on his evil plans all the way to the end, and on multiple occasions, dies to the bitter end for them.

Contrast this to bad guys who are total losers, they neither provide comic relief nor the pleasure of a true bad guy. For example, take Stalin, for all his crimes (more bodies than Hitler) what he essentially boils down to is a coward. Granted, we must take the story with a grain of salt as the tale is from his daughter (who had a mixed relationship with him at best) but at the very end Stalin apparently dies in bed but as a broken man full of fear in his eyes at the prospect of death. Hey man, I get it, nobody wants to die, I’d be scared too. But when you clock a body count in the tens-of-millions, you’d better have more of a gut when your time comes.

Or take another example with our current human scum of the day in Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who is apparently still alive after five years of war. For those who aren’t aware, ISIS is finished as a landholding organization. What remains is a true stateless terror cell. al-Baghdadi made his name calling for an apocalyptic vision of his false view of Islam where the end was near and the apocalypse would rebuild humanity in a new era, his world. I’m paraphrasing but that’s what this guy sold to the planet. It was this vision that brought tens-of-thousands of foreign fighters from across the globe to fight for ISIS.

But oh dear, oh so sorry folks, because I guess al-Baghdadi didn’t really mean it after all. Shocker. If al-Baghdadi really believed any of that, he’d be a corpse in Baghuz either dead by his own hand or any number of lethal means from the Syrian Defense Forces or their Western allies. Instead he’s slumming it up in some false tent / film set like a total loser. I mean, just look at this guy, he looks like a roadside panhandler. All he needs is a cardboard sign with third grade handwritten scrawling: “unemployed false prophet/jihadist – need money – homeless veteran – please help – God bless!”.

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It’s like bin Laden. For all that dude was and claimed to be, he died in a purpose built cult compound mansion surrounded by his PlayStation and his (ultra large) porn stash. What a total loser.

al-Baghdadi’s time is coming, it’s just a matter of when. But like bin Laden he’ll go out as a complete fraud. An evil man for sure, but one who was never comical, serious, or even competent. It’s a testament to the flaws of humanity that such pathetic creatures manage to mayhem as much as they do.

What’s the real lesson from al-Baghdadi’s brief, violent reign? That he was good at it? Or rather, as I believe, that his foes (the criminally incompetent Syrian and Iraqi governments) were just even more incompetent / fraudulent.

ordinary, average, human experience

Boss tells you to do something. You do it. Boss comes back, apologies, and says they wanted something different. Boss walks away. Boss then comes back, and yells at everybody for doing it wrong in the first place. Boss then sends an inflammatory e-mail to all impacted colleagues demanding said product now and asking why it’s late.

I would gather for most, this is not an uncommon experience.

You know, in so many different ways, part of me wants to take us back to the stone age. Back then, things like this could be handled so much more simply. I could just challenge the boss to a fight to the death. Only the strong, wise, or guileful got to lead. Now, anybody can lead, and be permitted by society’s ‘rules’ to fail and fail again and lead for years and years thus increasing the overall misery of others without consequence.

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Give me back my drunken club fights!

NASA loses keys

Imagine you’re taking two dogs to the mountains for the weekend.  It might snow, and you want your dogs to have a jacket in case they duel a grizzly bear and need to keep warm.  Both your dogs need medium sized jackets.  Do you:

a) Make sure you have two medium jackets, and if not, buy one or two

b) Not bother to check at all and hope it somehow all works out

c) Panic

d) Ask your dogs for money

e) Skip your mountain trip and sit on your floor playing with your dogs as you drink beer

Most normal people would choose option (a).  But apparently not NASA, you know, those people who are geniuses and make things go into space.  Last week NASA announced that it would have it’s first all female spacewalk.  Because apparently these diversity things matter to NASA when it currently doesn’t have a functional space vehicle with which to get it’s astronauts into orbit so we rely on the Russians.

But as it turns out they cannot conduct this two female spacewalk because, wait for it, they don’t have two medium sized spacesuits.  This is not a joke.  This is legitimately happening.  Apparently NASA planned a complex dangerous spacewalk but didn’t bother to make sure they had two appropriate spacesuits.  I mean how hard is this?  One of the flight engineers could have asked her five year old to look at an inventory list and see the word ‘medium’ next to ‘spacesuit’ and make sure the number said at least two.

In related news, Boeing (that company that has problems lately), has now burned through north of $5B, yes billion, to produce a rocket that hasn’t flown once (and will probably never fly) and will take longer to produce than it took NASA to get to the Moon.

Man, this organization used to be the pinnacle of technology and awesome.  But that was five decades ago.  Now these folks probably lose their keys on their way to the parking lot.

Just disestablish NASA and give its entire budget to help fund STEM scholarships for poor kids.  Let the commercial sector have a go at space awesomeness.  They’ll do a cheaper, probably safer, and at least remember to look at an inventory list before planning a mission.

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Have fun!  Make sure you remember your airlock keys to get back into the station!

the establishment hasn’t caught up with the reality of our new distributed planet

Yesterday a judge blocked the online publication of blueprints for a 3D printed gun.  The States who filed the complaint called it, “a bell that cannot be un-rung”.  The judge said, “There are 3D printers in public colleges and public spaces and there is the likelihood of potential irreparable harm,”.

So apparently all these folks don’t understand how the Internets works, haven’t heard or understood the word Torrent, and don’t understand the reality of how the planet currently works.

To borrow their term, I can guarantee you that 3D printing of firearms is going to be rung.  And it’s going to be rung very, very soon.  Soon it’ll be possible for anybody with access to cash to print any kind of gun they want, handgun, shotgun, assault rifle, whatever.  It’s going to happen.  That’s one of the fearful miracle implications of 3D printing, fueled by an Internets that enables the distribution of any knowledge whatsoever.

For over 15 years terrorists have been capable of teaching 19 year old disgruntled street urchins from Paris and Brussels how to make nail bombs.  All of this knowledge is easily accessible online.  It’s never going away.  If the establishment thinks 3D printed handgun designs will be any different because some judge says so, they’re hopelessly naive.

As another example please kindly gaze upon the disaster that is killing more Americans than cars in oxy and fentanyl.  The cops, judges, and legislators went after oxy because it was stacking five figures of dead Americans each year.  But then fentanyl materialized out of thin air.

If you haven’t heard, there’s a new villain in town called carfentanil.  It’s even more powerful than fentanyl.  The number of American overdosing each year is higher than ever.  Would you care to take a bet on if the number of dead is going to fall, or if you think carfentanil will be the last drug created out of thin air and pushed on the streets?

The establishment hasn’t caught up with the reality of our new distributed planet.  This is the reason Trump was elected, not Russia.  But understanding that our planet has changed irreversibly is really fucking hard to grasp.  It’s a lot easier for folks to demonize Putin (a cardboard cutout well deserving of the asshole appellation) and move on.

But the opioid epidemic is an example of a massive problem that the establishment cannot solve.  Folks want results and government can’t or won’t deliver.  Because government hasn’t adapted to a changed world.

What to do?  Well, for the drug problem this belligerent degenerate blog has always been about legalizing absolutely everything.  Because the government is never going to be able stop drugs.  Especially in an age where you can factory manufacture lethal opioids in a lab like it’s aspirin.

Let folks get high, who gives a damn?  Treat addiction like the disease it is.  Let folks shoot up or drop pills in clinics where they can get help when they inevitably OD and can get advice and support on how to quit.  Treat the problem, don’t criminalize it when criminalization hasn’t worked for over 100 years of drug crime fighting.

For 3D printed guns, I don’t know, I haven’t gotten that far yet.  But my guess is the answer is probably in the ammunition.  I have no idea, but I’m guessing it’s probably a lot harder to make ammo from nothing than to 3D print a gun.  Put since the establishment isn’t thinking things through (again) all they’ve got is the order of some judge to try and stop it.  It will fail.

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Behold that which cannot be stopped.

“to see more clearly to the end of the business”

242 years ago 56 men signed a document that made them traitors.  This incredibly brave and reckless act changed humanity.  We take their ultimate success as a fact of history.  For them it was far less certain.  Not all of them lived.  All of them suffered.  All of them fought.  And victory was ultimately theirs.

If I can manage to remember, every year we’ll take a look at one of these men and reflect upon their lives.

Thomas McKean – Delaware

Son of a tavern keeper whose parents immigrated from Northern Ireland.  He was a lawyer at age 21 and already on the move.  Like many of his contemporaries he bridged the gap between the law and politics.  In many cases he held jobs in both camps at the same time.

County attorney general, general assembly representative, judge, and ultimately assembly speaker were just some of the titles he held.  He married at 32 and spent ten years with Mary and had six children with her until her early death.

Often forgotten is that the Revolution was as much as civil war as anything else.  McKean was a member of the pro-independence faction of Delaware and spent many years prior to 1776 in the political fencing act with his neighbors who were pro-British.  He remarried in 1774 to Sarah and had four more children.  I would gather he ultimately had a hard time remembering his grandchildren’s names.

As early as 1765 he is already an openly active member of political organizations dedicated to resisting the power of the British crown.  During the crucial years came in 1774-1776 he’s one of the most fervent speakers pushing for Independence.

Immediately after his 1776 Independence vote at Congress he assumed command as colonel of a regiment of militia.  And so bizarrely it’s believed he didn’t actually sign the Declaration in 1776.  It’s thought he signed it many years later as one of the original voting members was permitted to do so.

He spends most of the war in Congress and is it’s leader at the time of the surrender at Yorktown.  He also began service as chief justice of Pennsylvania in 1777 and would hold that title for twenty years.  Apparently back then you could be the ranking judge of one state, represent another in Congress, and lead Congress, all at the same time.  I don’t think any of our jobs are hard by comparison.

He played a key role in the subsequent creation and signing of the Constitution.  By 1799 he settles down for the rest of his life not in Delaware but Pennsylvania and serves three terms as governor there.  He had a rocky time as state boss.

He seems to have had such a fervent view of things that he frequently quarreled even with friends and was known for his temper.  Yet maybe that was what was needed during those chaotic times of change?

John Adams said of him: “one of the three men in the Continental Congress who appeared to me to see more clearly to the end of the business than any others in the body.”

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