Here, there, everywhere: Just how desperate is the Brahmandarin (anti)Democrat/MSM complex? Longingly looking at Occasional Cortex for POTUS in 2024?!? Also: Turkey withdraws objection to Finnish, Swedish NATO membership, Ben & Jerry’s continues in Israel

Or Hillary. Maybe try Zeeba the Syphilitic Camel while you’re at it. Either they have been mainlining LSD that they think they might win with such candidates, or they are so confident they can rig the election, or… they are certain that F. Joe Biden will run again unless stopped and realize they won’t be able to let President John Gill campaign from the basement like during COVID. If, following what is increasingly looking like the most dismal presidential tenure in at least a century, he will run again, his negative coattails will drag down dozens of downticket races and possibly “burn” the D brand for a generation.

(B) In completely unrelated news, Turkey has dropped its objections to Finland and Sweden joining NATO (which requires unanimous consent of all current NATO members) in exchange for some concessions on PKK (Kurdish Workers Party) activists in those countries.

(C) Also in other news, a resolution has been reached for the Ben & Jerry’s fracas. (More here.) Last year, the wokebag board of B & J decided it would not renew the franchise of the local franchise holder (Avi Singer, who both manufactures and distributes locally — I’ve driven many times past their plant in Yavne, on the coastal plain halfway between Tel-Aviv and Ashdod) unless he stopped marketing across the Green Line, to Jewish “settlers” in “occupied Palestine”. This Avi Singer refused to do, and hence (to the embarrassment of the Unilever mother company) Ben & Jerry’s would stop selling here.

Now, under the newly reached deal, Singer will effectively operate as an autonomous company, with the rights to manufacture and sell Ben & Jerry’s in Israel, with Hebrew and Arabic branding only (not English branding).

I rarely eat ice cream as I need to watch my sugar (actually, we both need to) but when we do, Golda’s blows everything else we’ve tried out of the water (yes, even Haagen-Dazs). However, Golda’s is not sold in stores, only at their parlors (which may be a sensible marketing strategy in their case). And I hate seeing Avi Singer punished for standing by his principles. So I’m glad a satisfactory resolution was reached.

ADDENDUM: oh noes! Barrett, Thomas, Alito et al. must be quaking in their boots! Me-Again Markle is going to “take on the Supreme Court” over the Roe vs. Wade repeal. whither will they flee? /sarc

Latest Wile E. Coyote “Democrat” trick: funding “far-right MAGA” candidates in GOP primaries that they hope will turn off moderate voters.

Tim Pool ‘s sources: such dank Ultra-MAGA sites as NPR and Politico.

thinks that the Trump election itself was a maneuver like that that backfired.

He thinks that the Trump election itself was a maneuver like that that backfired, and expects it to backfire again, because the average voter is so distressed over the terrible economy (and, to a lesser extent, crime and woke extremism) that they’d “vote for a ham sandwich” if that’s the only alternative to more of the same dreck.

Tim Pool also asks why the [anti]Democrats didn’t codify Roe vs. Wade (i.e., make a federal law guaranteeing “abortion rights”) when they had majorities everywhere. He says the D need the wedge issue and have always kept it alive artificially.

And now the latest: whispers of Hillary 2024? (Oh dear, no.)

Then Tim goes on a rant about Ana Navarro doubling down on the “importance” of “abortion rights” to stop the birth of special needs children. He says he will vote for anyone willing to stop this “disgusting” idea. May I remind you , dear reader, that eugenics was a “progressive” pet choice in the early part of the 20th century? Or just who founded Planned Parenthood? (Check the highly sanitized Wikipedia entry on Margaret Sanger.)

Bonus: Rachel Maddow (פרה משוגע) is being replaced at MSNBC.

Looking around: Justice Thomas wants to revisit libel law; Biden energy plan pulverized by Macron; Hong Kong no longer unsinkable; China’s tax problem

(a) US libel jurisprudence concerning public figures is very friendly toward the defendant.

If an ordinary Joe Schmoe has been libeled, the plaintiff just has to prove that

  • the accusation is materially untrue, in substance and not just in details
  • the accusation is damaging
  • For a public figure, under the standard set by Sullivan vs. New York Times, there is the additional burden of proof that the statement was made with “actual malice”, i.e., that they had knowingly peddled falsehoods, or with “reckless disregard for the truth” (in the legal sense of the word: in the “man in the street” sense of the word, nearly all of the US MSM is guilty of this).

This is an extraordinary burden of proof, as General and former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon z”l learned to his chagrin. TIME magazine had pretty much accused him of premeditated mass murder at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon: Sharon sued for libel, and the court ruled that yes, the accusations were materially untrue as well as damaging, but it could not prove that TIME had knowingly repeated falsehoods.

Now SCOTUS Justice Clarence Thomas appears to be open to revisiting this standard. I generally admire the man, and think the US MSM compares unfavorably to male crack wh*res, but I can understand the reasoning behind there being extraordinary protection of the press against lawfare.

(b) On energy policy, F. Joe Biden gets his derrière handed to him by France Emmanuel Macron.

(c) The horrendous attacks on the Ukrainian shopping center explained:

Trent Telenko on Tw*tter points out that

  • Russia is shifting artillery munitions from bases in Belarus, indicating shortages
  • Ukrainian rocket strikes contribute to the latter
  • the Turkish company making Bayraktar drones is sending some “crowdfunded” ones for free to Ukraine instead, refusing to accept the crowdfunded payment

(d) Hong Kong’s economy used to be consdiered unsinkable, but since the takeover by the regime of Xi the Xelonian-attracted, its economy is going down the toilet

More on China’s tax revenue problemL

And finally, heh:

Looking around: the “free money revolution” is eating its children; observations on Roe vs. Wade repeal and how it is driving US left insane(r)

(a) Matthew Lynn in the Telegraph (paywalled; cached copy) about how the chickens of free money printing during COVID are coming to roost big time:

In each country, there are local explanations for why each party is so unpopular. But there is one common, global theme. Inflation.  

Rapidly rising prices are a catastrophe for whichever group of politicians happens to be in power.

Real wages get hammered. Interest rates have to go up, tipping economies into recession and raising unemployment.

Public spending has to be cut to cope with soaring interest and welfare payments.

And, perhaps worst of all, governments have no one else to blame as voters work out that printing money for wild spending sprees is what caused the crisis in the first place.

Here’s a simple prediction. Not a single government will be re-elected anywhere in the developed world over the next three years. Inflation will wipe them all out.  […]

With prices rising by between 8pc and 10pc everywhere (and by a terrifying 20pc in the case of Estonia) and still climbing, virtually no ruling administration can be re-elected anywhere. Here’s why. 

First, once inflation starts to take off real wages inevitably get hammered. We can see that very clearly in the UK, where wages may be rising by 4pc per year, but with inflation now at 9.1pc, the amount that people earn is actually falling by 5pc annually.

But the same remorseless logic is taking hold everywhere. In Germany, wages are rising at an average of 3pc but prices are going up by 7.9pc; in the US, wages are up by 3.4pc but prices by 9pc; and in the Netherlands wages are up by 3.8pc but inflation has now gone past 10pc. Living standards are getting squeezed and people are feeling poorer. In many cases, families have to cut back on holidays, new clothes, or even food simply to make ends meet. 

Against that backdrop, it is hardly surprising that whoever happens to be in power is very unpopular.  

Next, recessions are inevitable. Central banks have only one real weapon to bring prices back under control again and that is pushing up interest rates. The Federal Reserve has started tightening monetary policy in the US. So has the Bank of England in this country, and the European Central Bank is expected to start next month.

Read the whole thing. No, this isn’t just Buck Joe Fiden, this is everywhere.

(b) This is one of my favorite tweets about the Roe vs. Wade repeal (via Instapundit):

The other one, via Powerline:

And in reply:

Most liberals no doubt understand that they now will have to take their case to the voters, and that when the dust settles, American abortion laws will look pretty much like Europe’s. And some states will be extremely permissive–New York, for one, may legalize infanticide, which the states are perfectly free to do. So, once again–why the hysteria?

I think several elements are at work here, but the most basic is that liberals (Democrats) do not want to take the issue of abortion to the voters. They do not want to have to make their case. They do not want to have to argue and persuade. Rather, they want all views opposed to their own to be banned and unheard. Delegitimized.

This is perhaps the dominant fact of 21st Century politics. Liberals don’t want to debate, they don’t want to persuade. They want to censor. They want some higher authority, whether the Supreme Court, Twitter, or corporate America, to declare all views but theirs out of bounds. They don’t want to participate in democratic politics, they want to rule by fiat. For all their wailing about “our democracy,” the last thing liberals want is the actual give and take of a democracy, which usually entails compromise. 

I think that is the key reason for the Left’s hysteria over Dobbs. For liberals, having to argue, to persuade, to run for office, to participate in the messy work of democracy where you don’t always win, is a step backward. They had everything going their way, and now…this.

Viewed in that light, I think the demonstrations, insurrections, encouragement of assassination of Supreme Court Justices, and arson at Christian maternity centers are understandable.

John Hinderaker on Powerline

And yes, I’ve been saying for years that looney leftism is a religion and abortion is one of its sacraments.

Ginning up outrage about the decision might work with the general public if things were going okay otherwise, but with so many people struggling to make ends meet due to inflation, it doesn’t seem to be a major priority now:

Guess what happens when one side is running on an issue 82 percent of people rank as a top priority, while the other side is running on an issue that only 42 percent say is a top priority? The former wins every single time. Worse, for Democrats, some percentage of that 42 percent saying abortion is a top priority are pro-lifers, which does nothing to help their electoral chances–and actually works against it. […]

The real question is: Why did Democrats think abortion would be their saving grace in the first place? The Dobbs decision leaked two months ago. If anything, Republicans have gained ground over that time. The fact that the decision is doubly official now is not going to do anything to change the national landscape. In fact, I think the radicalism of the progressive left getting laid bare on abortion could actually alienate some voters. They aren’t out there talking “safe, legal, and rare” anymore. It’s abortion through birth, and relatively few Americans support that.

In the end, Democrats are staring into the abyss, and their big solution is to douse themselves in gasoline near an open flame.

(c) Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Top Gun: Maverick, the unapologetic and decidedly un-woke [to LSD fantasies] sequel to the classic 1986 movie, is on track to become one of the biggest blockbuster movies of all time. Somebody tried to imagine what a woke version would be like:

ADDENDUM: Matthey Lynn wrote earlier about the dismal truth why so many people (in the UK) don’t want to work ( ). If you give incentives for people to drop and stay out of the labor market, and provide disincentives for those wanting to enter or return to it:

This list of barriers to working is getting so long it is hard to keep up. Over the pandemic, we understandably lifted the sanctions for anyone on benefits who refused to work. But now that it is over, they have still not been properly restored. In effect, some people can stay at home drawing benefits and no one asks any difficult questions. 

We are also increasing benefits, and especially pensions, in line with inflation but not wages, making work less attractive. We have just put up National Insurance, the most regressive tax ever created, directly punishing anyone who goes back to full-time employment. Health and safety rules may well be well-meant, but they have forced up the cost of childcare to some of the highest levels in the world, meaning one or other parent – and, if we are being honest, usually the mother – has to stay at home to look after the kids. 

Meanwhile, in many very ordinary, but still satisfying, lines of work, we have introduced lots of pointless qualifications for tasks that used to be learned by watching your colleagues. No doubt the City & Guilds Professional Bartending qualification, with two separate sub-modules in cocktails and pouring, is useful enough in its own way. But it is just possible that after a couple of days most of us could put together a perfectly respectable mojito without it. 

Even worse, the Government isn’t offering any incentives. We could offer the over-55s a lower rate of NI, for example, given that you already don’t pay it over the state pension age. That might encourage a few to think again about retirement. We could offer a lower rate of tax for anyone coming off benefits. And we could deregulate childcare so that the cost was less crushing, while cutting back the qualifications needed for any job to the bare minimum. 

With 67 million people, the UK has plenty of people to fill all the jobs that need doing. But until we start making work more attractive it isn’t going to happen. 

ADDENDUM 2: for all of F. Joe Biden’s grandstanding right now, in 1982 he sang a very different tune : In 1973, when Roe was first decided, Biden said that it went “too far.” In 1974, he said that a woman shouldn’t have the “sole right to say what should happen to her body.” As a pro-life position, this was flawed; it’s a staple of pro-abortion rhetoric that abortion involves a woman’s body alone, while pro-lifers point out that there is another, different body involved: that of the child who is the victim of abortion.

[…] In 1973, when Roe was first decided, Biden said that it went “too far.” In 1974, he said that a woman shouldn’t have the “sole right to say what should happen to her body.” […] Nonetheless, this reasoning was enough to lead Biden to vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1982 for a Constitutional amendment that would have allowed individual states to reject Roe v. Wade and outlaw abortion. Getting heat from his far-Left colleagues, Biden said apologetically, “I’m probably a victim, or a product, however you want to phrase it, of my background.” He claimed that this vote was “the single most difficult vote I’ve cast as a U.S. senator.”

Ever the untrustworthy opportunist, he voted against the same bill the following year, and on Friday, he was anxious to label the idea of giving the states the right to determine the legality of abortion “extreme.”

Before Wendell the manatee, there was Wendel the drum computer that was awarded a platinum record

Fans of Larry Correia and/or his Monster Hunters International urban fantasy know of his “spokesmanatee” Wendell.

Few of them know that there is another famous non-human Wendel (with one “l”) that was awarded a platinum record! (For the Steely Dan album “Gaucho” that is, which also won a Grammy Award for best engineering.)

from Mediawiki cc:by:sa 3.0 by user “Gopita”

Walter Becker (RIP) and especially Donald Fagen, the duo who were the only constant members of the jazz-pop band Steely Dan, were famous and notorious for their level of perfectionism in the studio. They would record endless takes and overdubs using the best session musicians they could find — not in search of note-perfect performances, which could be taken for granted from what were otherwise often top-flight recording artists in their own right — but hunting for the exact sound and “vibe” they felt the song needed.

I own everything Steely Dan ever released plus a bunch of bootlegs, and I can tell you that even rough demos they would never dream of releasing often sound better than finished recordings by lesser artists. But perhaps the one area where they were most insanely OCD was the drum tracks: it wasn’t unusual for them to have dozens of drummers doing endless takes and still not be satisfied (only to then suddenly be pleased with the first take by Steve Gadd on “Aja” or Jeff Porcaro on “Night By Night”).

“We started using sequencing and stuff on [Steely Dan’s] Gaucho,” replies Fagen, “out of desperation really. We were having trouble laying down ‘Hey Nineteen’. We tried it with two different bands and it still didn’t work, so one of us said something like ‘It’s too bad that we can’t get a machine to play the beat we want, with full-frequency drum sounds, and to be able to move the snare drum and kick drum around independently.’ [Engineer, Ed.] Roger [Nichols] replied ‘I can do that.’ This was back in 1978 or something, so we said ‘You can do that???’ To which he said ‘Yes, all I need is $150,000.’ So we gave him the money out of our recording budget, and six weeks later he came in with this machine and that is how it all started.”

The pioneering machine was the now-legendary Wendel, reportedly based on a CompuPro S100 computer with an CPM/86 operating system. It was capable of replacing already recorded sounds and moving them around, rather than constructing a drum track from scratch. “This was in the days when digital was still very primitive,” recalls Fagen. “Roger’s machine did not even have any switches, it only had a regular computer keyboard and he had to type all these bytes out, huge lists of numbers, which took him 20 minutes, and at the end he would hit Return, and we heard this one snare a beat. It took so long. It got a little better during The Nightfly, but it was so horrible, I have tried to figure out how to get out of sampling ever since.”

Roger Nichols has continued to develop his drum replacement technology, which he has now made available as a plug-in called Wendeliser (see

Donald Fagen Recording ‘Morph The Cat’“, “Sound On Sound” magazine, August 2006

The first song it was used on was this one:

Rick Beato has done two “what makes this song great” videos on Steely Dan, but not on this song. He does discuss Wendel a bit in this livestream, recorded in honor of getting 3 million (!) YouTube subscribers:

Later a new version, Wendel II, was built with 16-bit sampling: this featured on Donald Fagen’s first solo album “The Nightfly“, a favorite of audio engineers and audiophiles everywhere. (I used to test speakers back in the day with a “mixtape CD”, the first track of which was that album’s opener “I.G.Y”.)


BREAKING: SCOTUS overturns Roe vs. Wade, returns the authority to regulate abortion to the elected legislatures

So the Dobbs decision “overturning” Roe vs. Wade dropped today. Insty comments: [emphasis mine]

SUPREME COURT RELEASING DOBBS OPINON RIGHT NOW, BY ALITO. Roberts concurs. Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan dissent. Roe and Casey are overruled.

Scotusblog is liveblogging the announcement.

The opinion is here. “Held: The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives.

Beware the “night of rage” in response.

And from Scotusblog: “Interesting, The majority uses very similar ‘history and tradition’ language that was used in the New York gun case, but this time finding there is no ‘history and tradition’ that grants a constitutional right to an abortion.” It’s hardly surprising that history and tradition might support things with a history and tradition, but not things without a history and tradition, so I don’t think that’s really very interesting. Nor is it contradictory, as this seems to imply. I’m not a big fan of the Scalia history and tradition approach, but it’s a well-laid-out methodology and one that a majority of the Court holds.

Note that the entire release, with opinion, concurrences, dissent is 213 pages, but talking heads are no doubt already speaking as if they’ve read it in its entirety.


ADDENDUM: Emmanuel Macron howls about abortion being a “fundamental right” of women that SCOTUS is undermining. Never mind, as Insty explains, that the actual effect of the ruling is to make the USA more like… France on abortion (which bans it nationwide at 14 weeks).

Macron, tu es un con.

ADDENDUM 2: Razorfist has his usual moderate, measured response.

ADDENDUM 3: oops:

But that was yesterday:

Looking around: psychological cyber-warfare in the Suwalki corridor; landmark SCOTUS rulings on 2nd amendment rights, voter ID, school choice

Still traveling for work, but a few things I saw over breakfast:

(A) the Telegraph has a rather interesting piece from a reporter who took the sleeper train from Moscow to the Kaliningrad (until 1945: Königsberg in East Prussia). This Russian exclave can only be reached through the Suwalki corridor, which runs from Russian satellite state Belarus through Lithuanian territory. (cached copy

Lithuania, which sees itself as “next on Putin’s menu” after Ukraine, has blocked train traffic of sanctioned goods: it claims it is merely implementing an existing EU policy, which it has hitherto refrained from doing. Passenger traffic is still allowed, but billboards have been displayed along the line with information in Russian about puttanesca, er, Putinesque atrocities in Ukraine.

So the curtains on the train are shut while going through the Suwalki corridor. In response, the next step was to offer free internet on the train (via routers outside the train, of course) but every surfer will get a free dose of anti-Putin material.

(Å) related: the EU has accepted candidacies of Ukraine and Moldova . Full membership will take years longer, as the two candidate members bring their bureaucracy and government apparatus in line with EU standards for cleanliness and transparency.

(B) Meanwhile in the US, it’s been quite the week for US Supreme Court rulings. SCOTUSblog has all the details.

Much coverage on Instapundit and Powerline about the 6-3 ruling deeming New York’s state carry restrictions to be unconstitutional.

Also, that a Maine state law prohibiting parents from using school vouchers (available where no free public school exists) for religious schools is unconstitutional.

Rather less media publicity for an 8-1 ruling (Sotomayor as the only dissenter) in favor of North Carolina’s picture ID requirement for voting (something that’s utterly normal in every country I’ve ever lived or worked in, but that the antiDemocratic Party apparat tries to paint as “racist”). Could it be that when even Kagan and Breyer side with a ruling it’s kind of hard for the PravdaMedia to paint it as ‘right-wing Republican racism’? 😉

(C) And of course, meanwhile the Senate has passed a “bipartisan gun deal” with 14 Republicans signing on to additional scrutiny for 18-21 year old buyers

(D) some signs of intelligent life in San Francisco, of all places?

Barbarossa Day post: excerpt from “Operation Flash, Episode 1”

[Today is June 22, or the anniversary of the beginning of Operation Barbarossa. Excerpt from Chapter 2]

Army Group Center headquarters

Krasny Bor

Outside Smolensk, Russia

Winter 1941-1942

— Col. Gero von Rengsdorff —

We were sitting in the ‘Fireplace Room’ of our headquarters building — [First Staff Officer, Col. Henning von] Tresckow, myself, and Fabian von Schlabrendorff, whom we both were on first-name terms with. We already knew where he stood from his legal opinion on the Commissar Order.

Fabian poured us all schnapps. In this beastly weather, everyone drinks alcohol. “You’ll need this for what you’re about to hear.”

We drank, and then Tresckow started speaking.
“I had a meeting with the SS type who oversees their so-called Einsatzgruppen here, one Obergruppenführer von dem Bach-Zelewski. I told him about the wild massacres in our area of recognizance, and that the rogue units committing them were grossly overstepping their mandate of partisan suppression.

“‘On the contrary’, he had said. Every Jew was a potential communist or partisan or both, therefore they all had to be eliminated by order from the highest levels of the state.

“So I asked him if ‘highest levels’ meant Himmler or higher up still, and his answer was basically ‘both’.”

Mein lieber Gott. “You mean Hitler isn’t just letting this happen, he planned it?”


“You mean he ordered the systematic murder of what may run into the millions of people?”

“Yes. This is what we’re sending good men out to fight and die for.” Tresckow mimicked spitting on the floor.

I spoke up. ”It’s of a part with what I learned.”

Tresckow and Fabian were all ears. I would quickly learn Fabian never said one word more or less than needed.

“A short while ago I was visited by the head of Vorkommando Moskau, Advance Party Moscow, a professor and SS officer named Franz Six.” I took a big sip from my glass, remembering his words.

“We were supposed to discuss how to administer Moscow and the surrounding area after we’d conquered it. Then this so-called ’professor’ started explaining that not only was Moscow to be leveled and replaced by an artificial lake, he started talking about something called General Plan East.

“In short: the SS intends to ‘cull’ the population of occupied Russia by about 30 million.”

“How?! Shoot them all?!”
“Worse. Starve them to death.”
Henning and Fabian both turned pale.
“And yes, this policy too was approved by ‘the highest levels’. The idea is that Germany cannot feed itself, Russia needs to produce food for Germany, and there simply isn’t enough to go around for both.”

Fabian maintained a stony, appalled silence, but even the voluble Tresckow was speechless.

“Yes, Henning. This is what tens of thousands of brave soldiers gave their lives to defend. The Völkermord plans of a tyrant as bad as Stalin, if not worse.”

Tresckow nodded, with a pained expression. “I can’t understand how people can still call themselves Christians and not be furious adversaries of Hitler’s regime.”

“We cannot just stand by.”

Tresckow took on a determined expression. “There’s only one thing for it. Hitler must be cut down like the rabid dog he is.”

This is when we made our decision. Then and there, the three of us became the nucleus of the Army Group Center conspiracy cell.

If this excerpt intrigued you, the three first installments of the alternate history series OPERATION FLASH are available on Amazon Kindle:

Here, there, everywhere: Israel snap election; Macron loses majority; “death by HR” in the UK

Still traveling for work, with barely time to breathe and spotty Internet, but just a couple updates.

(a) So we’re headed for elections for the fifth time in 3.5 years. I’m frankly amazed that this heterogenous coalition stayed together over a year.

In a joint statement, Bennett and Lapid said they would bring a bill to dissolve the Knesset to a vote next Monday. There is a consensus in the coalition and opposition on an October 25 date for the election.

Sources close to Bennett said the duo’s goal was to initiate an election on their own terms and not be forced out by opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu.

According to the coalition agreement, Lapid will become caretaker prime minister until the election and until the new government takes power. He is set to greet US President Joe Biden when he comes to Israel next month.

At a Knesset press conference, Bennett said his move to initiate an election was “not easy” but “the right decision.” He said he did everything possible to maintain the government for longer.

“Believe me, we left no stone unturned,” Bennett said.

He wished Lapid well, calling him a “mensch” and vowing to ensure a smooth transition of power.


Bennett spoke on Friday to Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Miara, who told him the West Bank emergency bill could not be bypassed or extended beyond its June 30 deadline.

Because they had no way to pass the bill, Bennett and Lapid decided it would be better to dissolve the Knesset, which automatically extends the security regulations in the West Bank until three months after the next government’s formation.

(b) Meanwhile in France, Emmanuel Macron lost his parliamentary majority, although (like in the US) his term as president is not in jeopardy.

(c) Jeb Kinnison wrote “Death by HR“; now here is a more UK-centric take in a long essay in the Telegraph [paywalled; cached copy].

[…] a trend in workplaces across the country, from the public to the private sector, from schools to banks, charities to multinational conglomerates. That trend is the growing, destructive and unaccountable power wielded by HR departments.

“It’s a basic power grab,” said one finance industry veteran, blaming “young revolutionaries”. “They think they’re saving the world [but] the power mania I would say is the more driving factor.”

Formerly humdrum bureaucratic backwaters, charged with processing paperwork, HR departments have in recent years morphed into real centres of power: controlling who keeps their job, what workers can say or do, and, in some cases, even determining the entire mission of an organisation. Fuelled by the pandemic and social unrest, these office bureaucrats have used workplace policies and practices to become all-powerful arbiters of social norms – professional and political.

[…] there is a basic question of whether HR is actually making life better for managers and workers, or making it harder. Matt Young, a corporate affairs consultant who formerly worked at Lloyds, says that thanks to HR “mission creep”, businesses are “struggling with policies that often run counter to their commercial interests”.

Along the way, many HR departments have become a channel for the dissemination of radical political ideas like critical race theory. In many cases, managers are simply too afraid to contradict them.

“A great many bosses are cowards and they do not stand up to this sort of ideology,” says one veteran of the hospitality industry, who did not want to be named. “There’s a degree of fear,” says another chief executive, who also asked to remain anonymous, “a sense that if we don’t do this, we’re going to get into trouble.”

In other words, captains of industry, just like lily-livered ministers, fusty professors and complacent mandarins, are quaking in their boots before the chirpy HR person wielding the bureaucratic tools of the trade – the staff handbook and the ubiquitous Zoom link.

This extraordinary inversion demands an explanation. We need to know how this came about and what it means. How has the conservative, technical function of HR grown to wield so much power over our professional and private lives and how much damage is it doing?

read the whole long thing. It’s depressing but worth your while.

ADDENDUM: bubbles a-poppin’ everywhere, Australian construction industry edition (h/t: Dave Freer)

Europe cozying up to Israel out of energy need?

Blogging will be light as I’m traveling for work, with intermittent internet access. Yet the following article in the NY Sun [cached copy here] is another example of how the world is changing in this era.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen

It might be that turning around an ocean liner takes a while, but that doesn’t mean Europe’s U-turn on Israel — which is becoming apparent with each passing week — isn’t astounding. It is developing into a major story, even if, like President Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia, it has to do with an acute need for energy sources. 

Just this week, the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, was in the Negev, pocketing an honorary degree from Ben Gurion University. “Europe and Israel are bound to be friends and allies,” she burbled. “The history of Europe is the history of the Jewish people.” […]

For many Israelis the warmth blowing from Brussels all the way to their southern desert feels like a breath of fresh air. Ever siding with the Palesitnians on various disputes and eager to embrace Iran’s Islamic Republic, the Europeans are rarely seen as the Jewish state’s best friend — or even a friend.

A European Union envoy, Josep Borrell, is mediating indirect negotiations between America and Iran to renew the 2015 Iran deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. A frequent visitor to Tehran, Mr. Borrell remains the most enthusiastic supporter of the deal’s renewal even as it is strongly opposed by Israel, as well as a growing, bipartisan group of American senators. […]

Israelis are often angered over a voting pattern at the United Nations and other international bodies that sees European countries mostly support or abstain in votes that disproportionately condemn their country. 

Even so, the European Union is Israel’s largest trading partner, according to the commission. In 2020, 34.4 percent of Israel’s imports came from the EU, and 21.9 percent of the country’s exports went to the EU. Now that Israel is becoming a major gas exporter, the Europeans are eager to deepen relations even further. 

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, “Russia has deliberately cut off its gas supplies to Poland, to Bulgaria, to Finland, to Dutch companies, to Danish companies, in retaliation for our support to Ukraine,” Ms. [von der] Leyen said yesterday. Added she: “The Kremlin behavior only strengthened our resolve to break free of our dependency on Russian fossil fuels.” […]

Piping gas to Greece, and from there to the rest of Europe, from Israel has been in the works for a while, and the EU has poured quite a lot of money into the project. Then Washington announced the Greece pipe would be too expensive and inefficient. Instead, the Biden administration sided with Turkey, which wants the pipeline to go through its territory despite its animosity to Israel. 

Meanwhile, the cheapest and most efficient method that Israel currently uses for exporting its gas to Europe is by sending it over to Egypt, which has modern liquifying facilities. From there the liquified gas is loaded on ships that sail across to Europe. 

Either way, energy-starved Europe has noticed Israel’s growing drilling abilities. Brussels is even siding with Israel over a Hezbollah-manufactured crisis — Lebanon’s claim of sovereignty over a major Israeli offshore gas field. […]

At least in this case, then, Brussels is more accommodating of Israel’s needs than Washington. While Israel is often frustrated with European attitudes, it has long seen the continent’s proximity as an asset. Now Europe is starting to see Israel as an asset as well. 

“At first the Arab Spring and now the Ukraine war have changed Europe’s geopolitical priorities,” a former diplomat who until recently served as Israel’s ambassador to the European Union, Aharon Leshno-Yaar, told the Sun. 

Immigration to Europe from Arab countries, Israel’s mastery of new technologies, and its ability to help the Europeans in advancing their internal and external security contribute to the shift in Europe’s attitudes, according to the former Israeli diplomat.

“They can attack us and condemn our policies in various forums but in reality the need for Israeli technologies is more important to Europeans than what happens in the Palestinian territories,” Mr. Leshno-Yaar said. 

ADDENDUM: HonestReporting:

The energy ministers of Israel, Egypt and the European Union signed a memorandum of understanding to export Israeli gas to Europe at a ceremony in Cairo on Wednesday. The agreement comes as Europe looks for alternative sources of energy than from Russia in light of its invasion of Ukraine.

The gas will be transferred from Israel to Egypt via an existing pipeline. Egypt will use its facilities to liquefy the gas for export to ensure a steady stream of natural gas to Europe, while ensuring the energy security of all sides.

The arrangement is slated to continue until at least 2030 and will be gradually reduced until 2050. The sides agreed to work together on carbon capture and the reduction of carbon emissions, as well as to cooperate with the private sector on green energy and energy efficiency initiatives.

In addition, the parties have agreed to work on a plan to make gas exports to Europe more efficient. The EU will encourage European companies to take part in searching for and producing natural gas in Israeli and Egyptian economic waters.

Energy Minister Karin Elharrar characterized the signing as “a great moment in which little Israel becomes a significant player in the global energy market.”

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who was present at the signing, tweeted, “With this… agreement we will work on the stable delivery of natural gas to the EU from the East Med region. This will contribute to our EU energy security. And we are building infrastructure fit for renewables – the energy of the future.”

Looking around: US recession looming; former Chief of the General Staff (UK) expects Ukraine war to “go into deep freeze” after Donbass

(a) One only has to watch the 1-month graphs of the DJIA, S&P 500, and NASDAQ.

Stuart Varney has two guests commenting:

“The Fed is going to have to force a recession to get inflation down.”

(b) On Times Radio, the vlog of The Times [of London], Lord Dannett, former British Chief of the General Staff, predicts that once the Russians have established control in Luhansk/Lugansk and Donetsk provinces, “they will have shot their bolt” and won’t be able to press on even if they wanted.

(c) and meanwhile, the farcical UN “Human Rights Commission” wants to carry out a probe of Israel, and the “Palestinians” are outraged that the US and Israel are leading a 22-nation block against it.

The ability of the US and Israel to therefore garner another 20 nations to make a joint statement against the COI, is seen as a significant achievement even if it’s not a bloc big enough to rescind the COI.

The 22 countries that signed the statement were: Austria, Bulgaria, Brazil, Canada, Cameroon, Colombia, Croatia, Eswatini, Germany, Guatemala, Hungary, Israel, Liberia, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Palau, Togo, UK and the US.

Out of that 22-member bloc only five countries — Germany, the Netherlands, the Marshall Islands, the United Kingdom and the United States — are currently UNHRC members.

For some countries in the 22-member bloc, the decision to sign onto the statement marked a change in their position on the COI. Three of the countries that signed the statement against the COI — Brazil, the Netherlands and Togo — had abstained when it came to the original vote last year.

In contrast three countries — the Czech Republic, Malawi and Uruguay — who had opposed the COI last year have yet to sign the US-led statement against the COI.

Australia did not join the 22-member bloc but its Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Amanda Gorely read out a statement against UNHRC bias on Israel and the COI.

(d) And on a different topic entirely: why was India unable to build a semiconductor industry? “Asianometry” has a look

Confused here about D spinmeisters’ January 6 strategy

Help me out, dear reader, but…

I honestly can’t make head or tail of the 0bama 3rd termBiden bubatron [=puppet show]’s media strategy in trying to flood the zone with the January 6 show trialhearings, and trying to gin up outrage about this “insurrection” (while, of course, nodding and winking towards the vastly more destructive rioting by their own far-left allies).

Suppose, strictly for the sake of argument,[*] that Biden really won fair and square, and Trump really was trying to undo the decision of the people. If the Biden administration were at least somewhat successful — heck, even if it were just mediocre — people would care.

But with pretty much everything the Biden bubatron touches turning into a dumpster fire

…with gasoline prices skyrocketing, food prices shooting up, supply chain crises everywhere (and “Mayor Pete” playing tiddlywinks), a fustercluck on the border, policing crises, a shambolic withdrawal from Afghanistan, severe inflation putting ever more working- and middle-class Americans in a cash crunch and eroding the value of people’s pension savings, and now apparently an incipient stock market crash (G-d forbid)…

Doesn’t it occur to the (anti)Democrat Party’s media spinmeisters that perhaps some people might be saying “if only Biden had been kept out of office”, and that most others are too preoccupied with keeping their and their household’s head above water to care about the J6 hearings?

As it stands, reruns (!) of Young Sheldon are attracting more viewers.

And yes, I know: many of the problems the US are facing now are afflicting the whole West, and not even this blogger is willing to put it all at the Biden regime’s feet.

But considering how shrill the contrast between the Biden regime’s promises and its abysmal underperformance, if I were (G-d forbid) a D spinmeister, I would have suggested a different strategy, in fact any different strategy, other than to publicize what could well be “mis”understood as a desperate effort to save the USA from the current clown show.

ADDENDUM: “Dear J6 kangaroo court: when you’ve lost Rachel Maddow...”

[*] An extremely dubious assumption — though I think the main culprit was the criminally insane “vote by mail fraud” all over.

Amazing interactive version of Rick Beato’s music theory book

If you own the old PDF version of Rick Beato’s music theory book, get thee over to for an upgrade to the new interactive edition.

Every musical example now has audio samples or a mini-video with scrolling music notation and guitar tablature (if it’s a scale or musical phrase). Short illustrative compositions make some of the concepts less abstract: e.g., a mock film score to illustrate what mood is set by various modes (dorian, lydian,…).

I warmly recommend this for anyone who wants to learn music theory (or expand their knowledge thereof) from a perspective that’s rooted in both classical and non-classical music.

Looking around: Ukraine grain export options; Putin sees himself as the new Peter the Great; Dr. John Campbell’s deadpan humor about WHO COVID origins report; Bill Barr on “One Damn Thing After Another”

(a) Der Spiegel (in German) looks at various options to help export Ukrainian grain to countries that depend on it for their food supply. Ukraine is wary of Russian “safe conduct” for grain ships from Odessa without adequate third-party security guarantees — understandably so. France and Turkey try to mediate, while Poland can transfer up to 1.5 million tons per month overland — presumably, either onward to North Sea (Antwerp, Rotterdam) and Mediterranean ports, or to Poland’s major Baltic Sea port at Gdansk (formerly Danzig).

(b) In a recent speech, Vladimir Putin places himself in the footsteps of none other than Peter the Great.

At a meeting with young entrepreneurs and scientists, the Russian leader sought to draw a flattering comparison between himself and the 17th-century monarch, who founded St Petersburg – Putin’s birthplace.

“Peter the Great waged the Northern War for 21 years. You might think ‘he was fighting with Sweden, seizing their lands…’ He wasn’t capturing them. He was reclaiming them,” Putin told the scientists.

He went on to imply that he believed swathes of Ukrainian land would soon be annexed by Russia in a similar fashion and that it would eventually be recognised as such.

“When Peter the Great laid the foundation of a new capital in St Petersburg, none of the European countries recognised this territory as Russian. Everyone recognised it as Swedish,” he said.

“But along with Finno-Ugric peoples, Slavs lived there from ancient times. Why did he invade it? To reclaim [our lands] and strengthen [the state]. That’s what he did. It seems that it’s our turn now to return [the land] and strengthen [the state].”

He was speaking at an exhibition in Moscow dedicated to Peter the Great, named Peter I: The Birth of the Empire.

Does anyone still believe that Putin will stop if only given Ukraine?

(c) Some deadpan comedy on the part of Dr. John Campbell about the new WHO “origins of WuFlu” report.

(d) Both MAGAites and “neverTrumpers” will be disappointed with what former Attorney-General Bill Barr has to say in this wide-ranging interview with the Hoover Institute’s Peter Robinson.

Sabbath musical delight: Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” arrangements for guitar and for synthesizer

Debussy’s famous piano piece “Clair de lune” (moonlight, moonshine) is actually the third movement of a “Suite Bergamasque” (meaning, “from Bergamo“). Below follows a performance of the entire suite by Claudio Arrau, with scrolling score.

Enjoy, have a nice weekend, and shabbat shalom!

BONUS: at the other extreme (in terms of sound) from the solo guitar, here is Isao Tomita’s 1974 (!) synthesizer orchestration (which I just learned also appears on the Ocean’s Thirteen soundtrack album)

FSB arrests opposition gubernatorial candidate in Moscow… oops, the FBI did that in Michigan [UPDATE: Biden “jokes” about putting political opponents in prison]

Seriously, what the everliving feck is going on? (Via Sarah Hoyt.)

Republican gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley was arrested and his Allendale home searched by FBI agents Thursday morning, in connection with his involvement in the riot at U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, an FBI spokesperson confirmed to MLive.

Kelley was present for the Jan. 6, 2021, rally and subsequent riot at the U.S. Capitol, and in the past asserted he did not enter the building.

A document filed in federal court says he has been charged with four misdemeanors related to unlawfully remaining on the U.S.

Lawblog “Legal Insurrection” comments:

Right, because it’s totally normal to raid someone’s home over FOUR MISDEMEANORS. The January 6th show was how many months ago? 18? And they’re *just* now finding this guy? Get outta here with this crap.

ICYMI: the Governor in question is none other than Gretchen WitlessWhitmer.

Tim Pool:

Civil war? Seems overwrought, but this is starting to look uncomfortably like living in a funhouse mirror version of Putin’s Russia.


Let’s see: your presidency is floundering on every issue. Even Bernie Sanders [!] is telling you to change course lest you get the mother of all drubbings in November. And your answer is to make the conversation about how your predecessor wanted to keep you OUT of the White House?! And “jhoking” about putting political opponents in prison on a late night talkshow, before your host Jimmy Kimmel has to call a commercial break to rescue you because you can’t complete your own sentences?

Way to win hearts and minds.

Looking around: SF Chesa Boudin recall; Kavanaugh targeting; Putin’s cooptation of much of the French elite; terrible economy scares CCP officials

Crazy busy at work. But a few quick takes:

(a) some weak glimmers of sanity in San Francisco as the risible Chesa Boudin (Cheesy Blood-Sausage[=boudin in French]) was recalled as city District Attorney.

A good start; hopefully in LA, George Gascon le con is next, and eventually every single Sorosite radical leftist DA needs to be flushed down where they belong.

(b) As Insty quips, the left doesn’t mind terrorism, it wants a monopoly. Lindsey Graham reacts to SCOTUS Justice Brett Kavanaugh being targeted.

(c) The Telegraph’s French correspondent on how Putin has managed to coopt a substantial part of the French elite, (cached copy)

For years, Russia has worked carefully, and cleverly, at detaching chunks of the French political, religious and intellectual world to her side. Russian think tanks hired Eurosceptic academics, Russian media (French RT and Sputnik, now closed) invited French presenters to have their own, well-funded shows. French politicians left and right were invited to intellectual conferences in Moscow and Petersburg.

The French military were wooed with memories of the Great Patriotic War, of the French-Russian air squadron Normandie-Niémen, even a reassessment of Napoleon’s retreat from Russia. A down-on-his-luck former Europarliamentary assistant to Jean-Marie Le Pen, Pierre Malinowski, set up, directly for Vladimir Putin, a ‘Foundation for the development of French-Russian historical initiatives’, which organised archaeological research on Napoleonic and Crimean war battlefields, with an aim to repatriating the remains of “French heroes” to France – and befriending the French Army’s highest spheres.

French Catholic Church grandees were invited to ecumenical events in Putin’s brand new Holy Trinity Cathedral, a rather ugly modern building with showy golden bulbs built by the French architects Wilmotte, close to the Eiffel Tower. Likewise, French special advisers of all stripes were cultivated, with varying degrees of success. The too obviously pro-Russian ones lose influence, but there are enough ones that the French have a name for them: “Poutinolâtres”.

But in too many places, the undercurrent is still that we should not take risks for a small country of which we know little. Once again, Poland and Britain are showing us what moral courage means.

Ironically, the “small country” Ukraine, at 603,500 km2, is slightly larger than France at 543,940 km² [For US perspective, Ukraine is a bit smaller than Texas and about 1.5 times the size of California.]

(d) Addendum:

On June 3rd, The Wall Street Journal quoted informed sources as saying that Li Keqiang’s May 25th 100,000-strong conference was submitted to the Politburo Standing Committee for approval. The State Council, led by the Chinese Premier, held the emergency meeting entitled the “National Teleconference on Stabilizing the Economy”. Li said bluntly at the meeting that China’s economic growth is at risk of slipping out of the reasonable zone. If the economy fails to maintain a certain growth rate, it will pay a huge price and face a long road to recovery. On May 30th, 2022, China’s National Bureau of Statistics held a video conference on the topic of statistical fraud and the mobilization and deployment of special efforts to combat the problem. Why is the CCP now making a concerted effort to crack down on statistical falsification? One possibility is that China’s economic crisis can no longer be covered up.

“It’s the economy, stupid”: Polls predict 80-year D blowout #dontGetCocky; Sri Lanka as a cautionary tale for the USA, others

(a) must-see by Tim Pool:

But “Don’t get cocky, kid”.

(b) A cautionary tale where the intersection of decades of poor financial management, corrupt rule, and grandiose cockamamie eco-schemes (can you hear me, FJB puppeteers?) will lead when facing a “perfect storm” shock to the markets.

… “And the gods of the copybook headings with terror and slaughter return”