Tuesday, January 25, 2022

The new "Russia! Russia!" brouhaha is as bogus as the old "Russia! Russia!" brouhaha

 

In case you were wondering why the Biden administration and its hangers-on and lickspittles in the mainstream media are all-in on the "threat" from Russia, and how we must resist it even to the point of war, if necessary, consider the current situation in these United States and their need to divert public attention.

They've just lost their bid to pass "election reform" (read:  ways to steal elections from now to infinity, ensuring they never lose power) in the Senate.  They can't pass it through normal means.  However, they know full well that their standing with the American public is cratering, and will continue to do so as the real results of their policies become more and more visible.  They know they'll lose the House and the Senate in November if current trends continue.  They're desperate for anything to divert public attention from their mismanagement, fecklessness and stupidity.

When they were desperate for a means to undermine President Trump, they turned to a manufactured and wholly untrue "Russia! Russia!" scandal - namely, that Russia interfered in our 2016 elections, and Trump was their puppet.  It was all nonsense, of course, but for almost three years they publicly maintained that fiction, until it collapsed under the deadweight of its accumulated falsehoods.  Even today, there are some brainwashed people who still believe it.

Now, when they're desperate to find any means to ram through their "election reform" bill, they're turning to Russia yet again.  The Russia-Ukraine crisis is real, but it should not affect the United States at all.  It's hollow for us to pretend that Putin's attempts to replace the current Ukrainian administration with a pro-Russia one are somehow evil, when we orchestrated exactly the same thing - replacing a pro-Russian administration in Ukraine with a pro-Western one - just a few years ago, by equally underhanded and anti-democratic means.  It's stupid for us to assert that we have to intervene to protect Europe when major European nations (take a bow, Germany in particular) are kowtowing to Russia on every conceivable issue.  It's nonsense for us to send our men and women in uniform to die for this issue when European nations have consistently and persistently underspent on defense, and are therefore unable and unwilling to send their own forces to do likewise.

The only reason the Biden administration is making a fuss about Ukraine is that some of them - and the hidden powers behind them - actually want this to blow up into a war.  When it does, they can seek to "unite" our nation around "war emergency legislation" that will somehow, magically include every point of their agenda - election reform, packing the Supreme Court, publicly subsidizing news media who toe the party line, enforcing vaccine and other mandates, and generally trashing our constitution and its protections.  They want to use Russia as a fulcrum to lever their way out of the swamp into which they've dug themselves, and suppress our rights and freedoms in the process.

I asked a few days ago, "Someone please tell me: what compelling national security interest does the USA have in Ukraine???".  Nobody has yet done so, and I doubt that they ever will, for the good and simple reason that we have no compelling national security interest in Ukraine.

Tucker Carlson agrees.


The fact is, Ukraine is strategically irrelevant to the United States. No rational person could defend a war with Russia over Ukraine. Nobody thinks a war like that would make America safer or stronger or more prosperous. Have you taken a look at our economy recently? Dangerous levels of inflation, a workforce in disarray. Wildly chaotic swings in financial markets, in case you ever noticed.

Well, joining a conflict in Eastern Europe fix any of that? Come on. Of course not. It'll make it worse. If the neocons aren't restrained, and soon, Americans are going to be a lot poorer.


There's more at the link.

War with Russia over Ukraine is simply a distraction, a means to divert our attention while our few remaining rights and freedoms are stolen out from under us.

I have little doubt that President Putin has taken careful note of the fecklessness and incompetence of the Biden administration.  He's a realist.  He knows that if he moves suddenly and strongly, the war will be over before we can do anything about it.  He also knows - and may be orchestrating it behind the scenes - that President Xi of China would dearly love to have his own foreign adventure, taking over Taiwan and giving his economically battered people something external on which to focus.  If Ukraine explodes, I fully expect Taiwan to do so within days or weeks.  Putin and Xi know full well that the US armed forces, weakened as they are by political correctness, are simply incapable of fighting two major foes on opposite sides of the world at the same time.  They have every prospect of winning their short, fast wars, then defying us to do something about it.

I see nothing but trouble ahead if the Biden administration continues on its present course.  The tragedy is, that's probably precisely what many in that administration want, because they're hell-bent on ensuring that their agenda is rammed through at any cost - even if that cost is thousands of lives of American service personnel.  They regard that as an acceptable exchange, if their machinations result in the permanent loss of our remaining rights and freedoms.

Let's be in no doubt who benefits from the current "Russia!  Russia!" brouhaha.  It's not Russia, or even China (although both nations will doubtless take full advantage of the situation).  It's the Biden administration and the hidden persuaders, the "Deep State" and its owners, who are behind its machinations.  If it takes a war to get what they want, they won't hesitate to kill thousands or tens of thousands of people to do that.  Human beings don't matter to them, after all.  They're just people.  Compared to the reality of political power, they're expendable.



Peter


Heh

 

Cartoonist Stephan Pastis hits another home run.  Click the image to be taken to a larger version at the "Pearls Before Swine" Web page.



After 2020 and 2021, that may be an entirely appropriate New Years card for 2022!



Peter


Monday, January 24, 2022

When ships at sea become cheaper storage than warehouses

 

The Loadstar reports on an unforeseen side effect of the current supply chain crunch.


The combination of congestion at US west coast ports and low interest rates is allowing US importers to use containerships as ‘offshore warehouses’, mitigating logistics costs.

According to freight visibility company project44, transit times from China to Los Angeles have nearly tripled, with freight taking up to 60 days to be cleared through LA and Long Beach ports – its data suggests an average of 540,255 teu per month was waiting to berth at LA.

Figures from p44 and HSBC estimate the average value of a container load at $40,000, with an average cost of financing of 3.2%, generating an extra $321m in interest between January and November 2021, says p44, adding this is “a small fraction of the total cost of goods”.

It said: “With interest rates at historic lows, companies could finance a surplus amount of inventory and essentially store it at sea for two months. While this might not be entirely deliberate, the congestion helped companies circumvent storage costs on the excess inventories.

“Though shippers paid interest-related penalties on freight stranded at sea, the costs were diminutive compared with storing that inventory on land (warehousing prices are high, while availability is scarce).”


There's more at the link.

That's a side effect I hadn't considered, but it makes sense.  The purchasing company saves money, because it doesn't have to pay high charges for medium- to long-term warehouse storage of its goods.  The shipping company doesn't care - it's charging record rates anyway, so it's raking in the cash for its vessels every single day (including port delay surcharges), making huge profits at essentially minimal additional expense.  The only people who suffer are the retailers waiting for their goods, and the consumers - you and I - waiting to buy them.  We're all sitting with the same empty shelves, in stores and in pantries.  (Other importers and exporters are also hit in the longer term, as the ships they need to transport goods from factories to consumers sit with their full loads, waiting to discharge them before they can go back for another cargo;  but again, that cost is charged to the account of buyers, both corporate and private, so we end up paying for it one way or another.)

The challenge of shipping goods across oceans will continue for years to come as markets continue to be disrupted by the effects of the supply chain crunch.  One expert sees no relief during the next decade.


We’re in the midst of the perfect storm, created by a combination of a worldwide driver shortage, equipment shortage, pandemic-related port congestion issues, container carriers’ disregard for signed contracts and an influx of exports from Asia into the US. And another storm cloud is that big carriers are buying up port facilities and freight forwarders, enabling them to have a firmer grip on rates and services.

. . .

Massive new build programs might launch in time, but the supply chain problems will remain. If anything, additional cargo sitting outside the US, Northern European, or main Chinese ports will only add to the paralysis, as budget and approval for port expansions get backlogged in government red tape. Driver and port worker shortages will only worsen as the populations in North America, the UK, and the EU continues to age out.


Again, more at the link.

Electing a new government in 2022, and/or a new President in 2024, won't solve those problems (although a more competent Administration will undoubtedly do more to remedy their effects).  We're in this for the long haul, whether we like it or not.

Peter


Want to help fix America's problems? Start by helping to fix her voting system

 

A number of recent headlines have highlighted problems with our November 2020 elections and their consequences - elections that I've maintained all along were stolen by the current Administration and the shadowy people behind it.  Click on any link to go to the article concerned.



There are many others I could have cited;  those are just the ones I bookmarked in passing.

The trouble is, too many centrist and/or conservative voters are shrugging their shoulders in resignation, because "what can one person do to stop it?"  Others are rejecting participating in elections at all:  "What's the point, when we know they're going to cheat even harder next time?"

That's precisely why we should be trying to do something about it, to stop them cheating next time, and to expose - in real time, as it happens, or at least as soon as possible thereafter - any cheating that's detected.  There's no reason why concerned voters can't volunteer as election workers, join monitoring groups to clean up voters' rolls and election administration, and pressure their representatives in State governments to enact reforms to the greatest possible extent, to block some of the shenanigans we witnessed in November 2020.

The less we do to counter electoral fraud, the more likely we are to encounter it this year and in 2024, and the more likely it is to succeed.  The more we do to counter it, the less likely it is to succeed.

Let's take that message to heart, and spread it around;  and let's get together with those we know in our area, to do what we can to shed light on an all-too-often murky subject.  We have no right to complain about electoral outcomes being unjust, unfair or rigged if we, as individuals and collectively, are doing nothing to stop that from happening.  It starts with getting local elections right - and that's our job.  The old proverb says, "Take care of the pennies, and the pounds will look after themselves".  In the same way, ensure that local elections are free and fair, and the national elections will follow in their wake;  but it starts locally, with us.

What's more, let's make sure that we strive for fairness, honesty and accuracy - not a right-wing version of election corruption to equal what the left did in 2020.  That would make us as bad as they are.  We're supposed to be better than that.

Peter


Memes that made me laugh 93

 

Gathered around the Internet over the past week.  Click any image for a larger view.











Sunday, January 23, 2022

Sunday morning music

 

Fellow author Rolf Nelson introduced me to German musician (?) Andre Antunes via this video on Gab yesterday.  Musical purists beware!  Yodeling meets heavy metal!




Curious (and somewhat flabbergasted) I went to the musician's YouTube channel - and was not disappointed.  It contains a lot of videos, some of them esoteric in the extreme.  Here's a brief selection.










There are many more on his YouTube channel.  Weird, but entertaining listening.

Peter


Saturday, January 22, 2022

Saturday Snippet: Weimar hyperinflation - its tipping point, and its consequences

 

Last year I published a Saturday Snippet from Adam Fergusson's excellent book "When Money Dies: The Nightmare of Deficit Spending, Devaluation, and Hyperinflation in Weimar Germany".



It's an excellent book, and I highly recommend it to your attention.

Given the very real threat of hyperinflation in the USA, as discussed yesterday in these pages, I thought I'd bring you another excerpt from that book, this time from its conclusion, summarizing some of the lessons learned from that economic and fiscal catastrophe.  It's not inevitable, but it is certainly not impossible, that we may see something similar in our own country in the not too distant future, if our political and economic powers that be don't pull out their joint and several fingers and do something constructive to solve our present multiple economic crises.  I've highlighted a few key sentences and phrases in bold, underlined text.


How great does inflation have to be before a government can no longer control it? Most economists accept that mild inflation has certain therapeutic advantages for a nation which must deal with the social and economic problems to which industrial democracies are usually subject. Most electorates still accept the statements of their politicians’ pious intentions in regard to controlling ever rising prices: and yet the Deutschmark, the currency of the country which had most reason to fear inflation, lost two-thirds of its purchasing power between 1948 and 1975. The pound lost almost half its purchasing power between 1970 and 1975. In neither instance, however, did such depreciation represent a deliberate, cynical policy; which, no doubt, would also have been claimed by the German bankers and governments of the early 1920s, who looked for causes of their monetary difficulties beyond their own printing press and tax system - and found them, without difficulty and to their complete intellectual satisfaction. It remains so that once an inflation is well under way (as Schmölders has it) ‘it develops a powerful lobby that has no interest in rational arguments’. This was as true for Austria and Hungary as for Germany.

There was no moment in Germany between 1914 and the summer of 1923 when in theory currency stability could not have been secured, if necessary by the establishment of a new bank of issue for which sufficient backing was still available. Until the later date, despite the demands made by the Entente and the necessity to find substitutes for the Ruhr’s iron and coal, German gold and foreign currency reserves always constituted a substantial proportion of the exchange value of the circulating paper, no matter how fantastically its volume grew. After the war was over, however, there were always practical difficulties which had little to do with the refusal of Germany’s monetary authorities to see the connection between depreciation and money supply.

Long before the Ruhr invasion, and perhaps even before the preliminary meetings of the Reparations Commission, there came a stage when it was politically impossible to halt inflation. In the middle of 1920, after the brief post-Kapp Putsch period of the mark’s stability, the competitiveness of German exports declined, with unemployment beginning to build up as a result. The point was presumably not lost on the inflators. Recovery of the mark could not be achieved without immediate repercussions in terms of bankruptcies, redundancies, short-time working, unemployment, strikes, hunger, demonstrations, Communist agitation, violence, the collapse of civil order, and thus (so it was believed) insurrection and revolution itself.

Much as it may have been recognised that stability would have to be arranged some day, and that the greater the delay the harder it would be, there never seemed to be a good time to invite trouble of that order. Day by day through 1920, 1921 and 1922 the reckoning was postponed, the more (not the less) readily as the prospective consequences of inflation became more frightening. The conflicting objectives of avoiding unemployment and avoiding insolvency ceased at last to conflict when Germany had both.

The longer the delay, the more savage the cure. Austria by the end of 1922 was in the hands of the receivers, having regained a stable currency only under the absolute direction of a foreigner. Hungary, too, had passed any chance of self-redemption, and later on was to undergo an equal degree of hardship and suffering, especially for her public servants. Stability returned to Germany under a military dictatorship when much of the constitution had been suspended - although the State of Emergency was only indirectly necessitated by the destruction of the nation’s finances. To all three countries stability and then recovery came. All had to be bailed out by others. Each was obliged to accept a greater degree of economic disruption and unemployment than need ever have been feared at the time when the excessive printing of banknotes might still have been stopped. In all three cases, after inflation reached a certain advanced stage, financial and economic disaster seems to have been a prerequisite of recovery.

The take-off point in the inflationary progress, after which the advent of hyperinflation was but a matter of time, the point indeed when it became self-generating and politically irreducible except for short periods, was not indeed to be found on the graph of the currency depreciation, or of the velocity of its circulation, or of the balance of payments deficit. Nor in Germany’s case did it notably coincide with some ultimate crisis of confidence in the mark, at home or abroad - Rathenau’s murder, or the occupation of the Rhine ports, or the London Ultimatum, all of which had immediate seismic effects upon it. Rather it lay on the falling curve of political possibility, with which was closely linked the degree of political power and courage that the government, sorely pressed as it was, was able to muster.

What really broke Germany was the constant taking of the soft political option in respect of money. The take-off point therefore was not a financial but a moral one; and the political excuse was despicable, for no imaginable political circumstances could have been more unsuited to the imposition of a new financial order than those pertaining in November 1923, when inflation was no longer an option. The Rentenmark was itself hardly more than an expedient then, and could scarcely have been introduced successfully had not the mark lost its entire meaning. Stability came only when the abyss had been plumbed, when the credible mark could fall no more, when everything that four years of financial cowardice, wrong-headedness and mismanagement had been fashioned to avoid had in fact taken place, when the inconceivable had ineluctably arrived.

Money is no more than a medium of exchange. Only when it has a value acknowledged by more than one person can it be so used. The more general the acknowledgement, the more useful it is. Once no one acknowledged it, the Germans learnt, their paper money had no value or use - save for papering walls or making darts. The discovery which shattered their society was that the traditional repository of purchasing power had disappeared, and that there was no means left of measuring the worth of anything. For many, life became an obsessional search for Sachverte, things of ‘real’, constant value: Stinnes bought his factories, mines, newspapers. The meanest railway worker bought gewgaws. For most, degree of necessity became the sole criterion of value, the basis of everything from barter to behaviour. Man’s values became animal values. Contrary to any philosophic assumption, it was not a salutary experience.

What is precious is that which sustains life. When life is secure, society acknowledges the value of luxuries, those objects, materials, services or enjoyments, civilised or merely extravagant, without which life can proceed perfectly well but which make it much pleasanter notwithstanding. When life is insecure, or conditions are harsh, values change. Without warmth, without a roof, without adequate clothes, it may be difficult to sustain life for more than a few weeks. Without food, life can be shorter still. At the top of the scale, the most valuable commodities are perhaps water and, most precious of all, air, in whose absence life will last only a matter of minutes. For the destitute in Germany and Austria whose money had no exchange value left existence came very near these metaphysical conceptions. It had been so in the war. In All Quiet on the Western Front, Müller died ‘and bequeathed me his boots - the same that he once inherited from Kemmerick. I wear them, for they fit me quite well. After me Tjaden will get them: I have promised them to him.’

In war, boots; in flight, a place in a boat or a seat on a lorry may be the most vital thing in the world, more desirable than untold millions. In hyperinflation, a kilo of potatoes was worth, to some, more than the family silver; a side of pork more than the grand piano. A prostitute in the family was better than an infant corpse; theft was preferable to starvation; warmth was finer than honour, clothing more essential than democracy, food more needed than freedom.


And what about the political consequences of hyperinflation in Germany?  Earlier in the same chapter, Mr. Fergusson opines:


To say that inflation caused Hitler, or by extension that a similar inflation elsewhere than in a Weimar Germany could produce other Right- or Left-wing dictatorships, is to wander into quagmires of irrelevant historical analogy. The comparable, coincidental, financial and social circumstances of Austria and Hungary do not, in any case, support such a notion, telling in other matters as are some of the parallels which may be found. On the other hand, the vast unemployment of the early 1930s gave Hitler the votes he needed. Just as the scale of that unemployment was part of the economic progression originating in the excesses of the inflationary years, so the considerable successes of the Nazi party immediately after stabilisation and immediately before the recession were linked ... with its advances in 1922 and 1923.

It is indisputable that in those inflationary years Hitler felt his political strength as a national figure and first tried his fingers for size on the throat of German democracy. Indeed, as Mr Clive perceptively reported, ‘In the course of 1923 he succeeded in rousing more passions and stirring up more bad blood than far greater men than he have done in a lifetime.’ The Consul-General might with justification have added that Hitler should go far. Germany only needed a new dose of economic misfortune for the Nazis to seize power, quasi-constitutionally, the second time round.

Inflation did not conjure up Hitler, any more than he, as it happened, conjured it. But it made Hitler possible.


As we face the reality of widespread unemployment, the prospect of high inflation,  and possibly hyperinflation in this country, it would be well to remember that such economic conditions can pave the way for tyranny and the destruction of democracy.  They have in the past - and not just in Germany, either.  There's no reason why they cannot do so again.

Grim thoughts for a Saturday morning . . . but thoughts we should be thinking now, and potential dangers we should be preparing to face in our own future.  God grant it won't come to that!

Peter


Friday, January 21, 2022

Researching the Wild West - some examples on film

 

Following the publication of my latest Western novel, "Wood, Iron, and Blood", I've had a few questions from readers about how I'm able to find so much historical material in my research.  The simple answer is, there's a lot of it out there.  If you find a few sources and follow them, they lead you to others, until before you know it you've got far more information than you can actually use.

I thought I'd illustrate the depth of material available through three video clips.  All are interesting and informative, and I recommend you take the time to watch them at your leisure.  Remember, nothing you see or hear below is faked or "Hollywood-ized":  it's as it really was, way back then.








They built them tough in those days!

Peter


I think President Putin has described the current condition of the USA very precisely

 

Here's a very brief video (less than a minute) in which President Putin of Russia describes how he sees the USA's position right now.  I highly recommend that you watch it.  He's speaking in Russian, but subtitles (in English) should come on automatically, because I've coded for them.  If they don't, please click over to the video on YouTube and activate them there.




I think he's hit the nail squarely on the head.  What say you, readers?

As I said yesterday, I challenge anyone to identify the compelling national security interest of the USA in Ukraine.  All anyone's been able to come up with so far is "muh DEMOCRACY!" and the like.  Ukraine must sort out its own politics - and democracy there is no more than a chimera, a pipe-dream, and has been for centuries, not decades or years.  The same applies to Russia.  They're not only foreign nations, they're foreign cultures, thinking, feeling and behaving very, very differently from ourselves.  That's no problem, of course - they're entitled to that - but it means we interfere at our peril, because we can't visualize the situation through their eyes, and sense their visceral reactions (which are nothing like those they display for public consumption).

President Putin is a pragmatist and a realist.  President Biden and his administration are not.  They're trying to use Ukraine to re-focus public attention away from their many, many shortcomings and failings.  They won't succeed.

(To read an absolutely devastating fisking of the Biden administration's and Democratic Party's shortcomings after one year in power, go read Larry Correia's latest.)

Peter


"Since January 2020, the United States has printed nearly 80% of all US dollars in existence." Be afraid. Be very afraid.

 

If this report doesn't scare the hell out of you, you sure as heck don't understand the economic disaster now staring us in the face.


Since March of 2020, Americans and the world alike have watched from the sidelines as power hungry politicians have ushered in draconian lockdowns, shutdowns, police state measures, and brought the economy to its knees. While governments around the planet used their central banks to devalue their currencies by printing money to fund their tyranny, the US led the way down this road to fiscal horror.

Thanks to the trillions of dollars the Federal Reserve has printed over the last two years, America is currently in an inflation crisis. One need only look at the price of groceries over the last two years to realize just how bad of a crisis we are currently experiencing.

. . .

As government spending has skyrocketed over the last two years, they have financed their massive expenditures by stealing value from your savings by printing more money through the central bank.

When you print more money it means there are more dollars chasing the same amount of goods and services, which causes prices to rise. In just the past three fiscal years, federal spending has swollen to nearly $7 trillion a year, up from about $4.4 trillion in fiscal year 2019. Spending was $6.6 trillion in 2020, and $6.8 trillion in 2021.

If we want to put this into perspective, we can take a look at the monetary supply at the beginning of 2020, which showed just $4.0192 trillion in circulation. By January 2021, that number had jumped up to $6.7 trillion — but this was only the beginning.

By November of last year, that number climbed to $20.354 trillion dollars in circulation — meaning that since January 2020, the United States has printed nearly 80% of all US dollars in existence

As the Hill points out, “the Biden administration and Democrat-controlled Congress are causing America to slowly but certainly commit economic suicide. The only hope the United States has to reverse course is a widespread, firm backlash against the irresponsible policies that created the present crisis in the first place. A good place to start would be a total rejection of the Build Back Better bill now under consideration in Congress.”

Unfortunately, that did not happen and the US is setting itself up for a situation similar to that of Germany’s Weimar Republic.


There's more at the link.

Forget the "official" figure of inflation at about 7%.  That's been bureaucratically mangled, folded, spindled and mutilated until it's meaningless.  It no longer measures reality for consumers "on the ground".  Applying the criteria I discussed last year, plus the corrective factor of 3.5 that I proposed, I firmly believe that our actual consumer inflation rate is more like 25% right now, and getting worse by the day.

The money supply figures explain why.  Crippling inflation, perhaps hyperinflation, is now unavoidable.  All that money is flooding the market, looking for something to buy - and in the process, driving up prices in all directions.  (If you don't understand how money supply drives inflation, see here for an excellent primer.)

Most of us don't have sufficient discretionary income to accommodate such price increases.  It's time to make a radical, wide-ranging analysis of our income and expenditure, and cut back on the latter wherever possible, concentrating on essentials and leaving out luxuries.  This is going to take years to sort out, and we should adjust our perspective accordingly.

Peter