Author Archives: Jim Kovpak

About Jim Kovpak

Journalist, translator, actor, humorist

So You Live in a Dictatorship Part III: Impunity

So recent domestic news has compelled me to write another entry in a series I dubbed “So You Live in a Dictatorship” (see the category list on the side bar for previous entries). Since it’s been a long time since the last entry in the series, let me recap it’s purpose. Since the election of Donald Trump, many Americans seem to be reeling from the new normal of politics. Well what seems novel for you isn’t for those of us who have lived under real dictatorships. Therefore using my experience from living under the Putin regime, I decided to help my fellow Americans understand what to expect as the tactics of foreign authoritarian kleptocratic dictators become commonplace in American politics. You’re welcome for my service.

Given the nature of the news cycle these days and the sheer amount of idiocy it brings on a daily basis, you might have either missed this particular item or perhaps you heard about it, rolled your eyes, and braced yourself for the next scandal, still bracing yourself for the very real possibility that the nation will one day be faced with photographs of Trump’s dick.

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Yes, this manufactured scandal was also in the news again this week.

Yet as eye-explodingly bad as that apocalypse will be, and rest assured it is almost certainly going to happen, you should not ignore the story about Trump’s pardon of whackjob conservative pundit Dinesh D’Souza.

Some of my friends consider Trump’s pardon of Arizona ex-Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio to be worse, but comparisons are irrelevant. What matters is a pattern here. Even if Trump cannot pardon himself, he can certainly pardon numerous passengers in the clown car he brought to Washington. This includes those would already pleaded guilty, like Michael Flynn, those under investigation like Paul Manafort, and those who are likely to get indicted like Michael Cohen.

The basis for Trump’s pardoning, regardless of whether the person was rightfully convicted or in D’Souza’s case, pleaded guilty, is that the courts were being “unfair.” Trump constantly uses this word “unfair,” like a little child whining on the playground. Yes, these days conservatives are extremely concerned about fairness, except when it comes to things like poverty or racial equality.

What does unfair really mean to these people? Well if they lose, in anything at all, then it was unfair. Someone cheated. It’s rigged. Moreover, it seems that the new permutation of conservative, particularly of the Boomer Tea Party variety, is that everyone they don’t like needs to go to jail, best exemplified with the campaign chant “Lock her up!” By the same token, if one of their conservative heroes is convicted of a crime or even if they plead guilty- it was “unfair.” If Hillary Clinton is still free, it’s because the courts and Justice System, including those officials appointed by Trump, are corrupt, as are those who prosecute or investigate Trump and other conservative figures. Yes, there’s a vast conspiracy against conservatives in America, and yet they somehow manage to control all three branches of government despite regularly getting fewer votes. Those poor souls.

Now obviously giving the president such powers to pardon was one of the Framers’ dumbest ideas, and certainly Democratic presidents have had their share of questionable pardons. But like previous Republican presidents, pardons usually came as they were leaving office, and they were not announced in such a way as to signal to supporters the way Trump has done by pardoning people like Arpaio or worse- D’Souza. Yes, I said D’Souza was worse because not only did he plead guilty to a crime, but he also had virtually no interaction with Trump until recently. In other words, Trump decided he likes D’Souza, so D’Souza was “treated unfairly” and deserves a pardon. What this will quickly lead to if it continues is a serious breakdown in the rule of law.

I guarantee you that if this kind of thing does not get nipped in the bud, any Republican president will use it almost constantly. I’d say the same of hypothetical Democrat presidents, except that in such a scenario I don’t really see one getting elected anytime soon. Once you are basically ready to abuse the justice system in this way, there’s virtually nothing to stop your minions from employing every dirty trick in the book to ensure your perpetual victory at the polls.

Of course abusing pardons would only be a first step towards a dictatorial system like that of Putin’s Russia or Erdogan’s Turkey. Things tend to get really bad when prosecutors, judges, and law enforcement come under the control of a particular party. We can see how we are certainly moving in that direction with Trump, particularly in the judiciary and with law enforcement as well.

What all this leads to is more corruption and repression due to impunity. Impunity for those who engage in corruption or who support the regime against its opponents, and arbitrary harassment and suppression of dissidents. As one Russian friend of mine put it in a conversation about how this impunity works in Russia, the leadership sends signals to certain people that they can act against designated opponents of the regime and act in their own self-interests without any negative consequences. As a corollary, if anyone should push back against them, the system with its organs of legal violence will have their back. This kind of set up is why you never hear of something like Alexei Navalny decking some pro-Putin activist for trying to throw green dye on him. Navalny knows very well that in that case he’d be locked up for sure. In fact his whole organization might be rolled up and declared “extremist.”

Things don’t look too good right now, but there is a slight glimmer of hope. So far Trump’s only starting to complete one half of the equation- letting cronies get away with criminal activity. And even here he’s not entirely in control. For some reason he has not yet sacked Mueller, even though to the dismay of pussy hat-wearing wine moms everywhere, he almost certainly could without endangering his presidency. No, the shit hits the fan only when the dictator is able to direct the security services against enemies, either to convict them on dubious charges or simply harass and intimidate them. That’s the signal for open season on dissidents. Loyal self-anointed “patriots” will start doing the regime’s dirty work knowing that not only will they probably go unpunished or at most receive a slap on the wrist, but also that if their targets fight back, they will be the ones facing the full force of the law.

And if this doesn’t happen under Trump, rest assured that even Democrat administrations could pave the way for this kind of scenario in the future. In the past Democrats have often supported increased powers for domestic spying and crackdowns on whistle blowers and leakers, often for the most short-sighted reasons. In fact they have even done so under Trump, demonstrating how they are fully capable of moving the ball forward in that direction.

Thus, be on guard not only for actions in this vein coming from the Republicans and Trump, but also from their useful idiots in the Democratic party. Yes, we have these institutions that are supposed to prevent the scenario I have described here, but only a fool would put so much faith in institutions. Institutions are, after all, made up of people, and oftentimes those people care far more about their own power within those institutions than fulfilling the task for which the institution was originally intended.

 

Transcript of Bashar al Assad’s Victory Speech, 2020

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*Applause*

Thank you! Thank you all! Throughout this long and difficult conflict I have frequently expressed my deepest gratitude to you, members of parliament, my military from the chief of the general staff to the lowest-ranking recruit, and of course, to my foreign allies Russia and Iran. A thousand speeches would not be enough to fully express how much I feel indebted to all those who rallied to the flag during Syria’s darkest hour. There are so many who deserve boundless gratitude for helping us overcome our enemies, the so-called Free Syrian Army jihadists, the Kurdish separatist terrorists in the north, the Islamic State, and the most tenacious of all adversaries, the White Helmets, better known as Al Qaeda! Damascus was besieged by terrorists of every kind, some even disguised as little children, but you did not waver and because of your resolve we have triumphed!

But I trust you will forgive me when I dedicate this speech to another steadfast ally of the Syrian Arab Republic, one which up until now has never received my thanks, our thanks, for all its unflagging support for myself and the government I lead. Naturally I am speaking about the Western left and the anti-war movement it leads.

They go by many different names, many of them claim to be Marxists, Communists. I’m sure some of you, and indeed even myself at one time, feared that their ideological leanings might prevent them from supporting our government, which is in no way Marxist or leftist and to be honest, is arguably rightist if anything. Some of us were afraid they might look upon our past actions such as jailing leftists or helping the CIA with its rendition program in the War on Terror and reject us entirely in favor of the terrorist uprising which was also totally orchestrated by the CIA, Mossad, and Saudi Arabia. But no, they were not discouraged by any of that. Quite the opposite.

Despite the fact that almost none of these people had ever been to Syria, or even anywhere in the Middle East for that matter, despite the fact that for many of them their only source of factual information about what was happening here was our ally’s satellite TV network RT and a collection of various Russia-connected blogs all citing the same sources, these people saw the truth of our struggle and boldly stood up to their own governments. When their imperialist regimes accused us of using chemical weapons as a pretext for a massive invasion on par with the 2003 Iraq War in 2013, 2017, and 2018, these intrepid anti-imperialists could not be swayed by the insidious propaganda of terrorist organizations such as the United Nations or the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. On the contrary, they were more than willing to take the word of their far-right wing ideological opponents and speak the truth- that these chemical attacks never happened, that they were staged by the Al Qaeda White Helmets. Or the chemical attacks actually happened, but the rebels carried them out. Or the Islamic State. Or the White Helmets actually gassed civilians themselves. All of those are totally real things that actually happened, and the Western revolutionary left were not afraid to speak that truth to power.

Indeed, so loyal were they to our cause that they never flinched from entering into tacit alliances with those who could honestly be called fascists in order to get our message to their own countrymen. So determined were they in spreading that message, than when our neocon and neoliberal enemies tried to point out their strange and seemingly contradictory alliances, those brave leftists simply acted as though no such collaboration ever took place, or insisted that it didn’t matter. But it did matter. It mattered so much too us.

And that is why I’m announcing that the Syrian Arab Republic is prepared to give back to the Western left that stood so loyally by its side throughout this seemingly never-ending conflict. The revolutionary movement that dedicated so much time to defending our just regime deserves no less than our material and moral support in its own struggle, which of course is something I have always deeply cared about. I especially care about the local struggles of groups like Stop the War Coalition in the United Kingdom, the Communist Party of Great Britain (ML), and the Workers’ World Party in the United States, to name a few. That is why I say to the following to them and all their comrades worldwide:

We have not forgotten your sacrifices and struggle in our name. We have not forgotten how you put off your own organizing and issues in order to march in the streets with our flag and defend our regime no matter what it was accused of doing. We have not forgotten how you were totally unconcerned with your so-called credibility when you embraced and repeated our side of the story, indeed our sides of each story, when so many people called you cranks and conspiracy theorists for doing so. We have not forgotten how you were more than willing to enter into strategic alliances with self-identified neo-Nazis and white supremacists in order to spread our message- the message that anyone who opposed us was a bloodthirsty Wahhabist terrorist. We admire your confidence and resolve as you diligently and consistently lectured traitorous Syrian former-citizens despite never having been to the Middle East or speaking Arabic. Many people, lacking that kind of experience, would never want to appear so arrogant and condescending by telling a person what is really happening in their country when they have never set foot even in the region. But you were not afraid to do exactly that. You knew these people had to be terrorists and pawns of the United States and Israel, you were right, and you spoke the truth.

And because you did all this, it is now time for us to fight for you. Now that we have victory, peace, and a lot more living space in Syria for reasons you should not concern yourself with, I am ordering my generals to set up numerous educational and training camps for left revolutionaries. As a caveat I must say that you may be sharing your quarters with people who are your ideological enemies on the far-right in your home country, but from what I’ve seen you’ve managed to get along somehow for my sake and I’m sure you’ll work something out.

In addition to the free use of our infrastructure and facilities with which you can train legions of loyal, dedicated revolutionaries to struggle against your own exploiters at home, I offer you the use of our media facilities as well. Any leftist party who showed support for us will be able to obtain its own satellite network to reach viewers back home.

I was also especially touched by those of you who, after the last false flag chemical attack staged by the White Helmets in Douma, pointed out that the US government had poisoned its own people in Flint, Michigan. Others asked why no other countries were talking about bombing the US when police used tear gas on protesters at Standing Rock. Such rhetorical brilliance was so inspiring that I have decided to set aside some of our oil revenue toward providing the people of Flint the clean water they deserve! We will also provide any leftist organization in the US with high quality gas masks to protect themselves at their next protest, which will no doubt be in support of a cause I deeply agree with and care about.

Another thing these leftists have shown me is that we as Baathists need to remember the socialist aspect of Arab Socialism, one of the core ideas in the Baathist ideology. Now that we are no longer under imperialist threat, I hereby announce that we will be carrying out a new constitutional referendum with the goal of setting up not only a truly socialist society, but in fact a fully democratic communist society of which the leadership of the long-dead Soviet Union could only dream of. Our resources will be publicly owned so that every man, woman, and child will be guaranteed access to adequate shelter, food, clothing, education, and healthcare. This we shall achieve by instituting the combination of direct democracy and labor time calculation-based planning according to the theories of Paul Cockshott, an author whose work I have read extensively throughout this conflict.

Having established true functioning communism, I shall resign as president and remain merely head of the party, which will only minimally interfere in the administration of day-to-day life. More importantly, as the Syrian Arab Republic becomes the first territory living under functioning modern communism, it will become a beacon of light, spreading socialist theory and praxis throughout the world. Where the Russians and Chinese failed, we shall succeed!

And let me say this to my comrades in the Western left- this is only the beginning. You stood up for me and proclaimed the truth, that I am the Lion of Damascus and flame of secularism in a Middle East infested with hordes of bloodthirsty jihadists. For that I shall open the floodgates of my country’s wealth and back your revolutions because you backed our war for survival! Moreover, my allies Russia, as well as the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, which I assure you have nothing to do with Russia and are an internal matter for Nazi-controlled Ukraine, agree with me one hundred percent when it comes to this new initiative. They have offered to send you whatever you need so that working people in your nations can fight for and seize the rights they so sorely deserve!

The right to rebel against tyrants is universal and just! It is not like that rebellion against me because I am in no way a tyrant and those were all head-chopping takfiri Al Qaeda Islamic State terrorists who were paid by the CIA and Israel. You are nothing like them and thus have every right to revolution and freedom!

So from the bottom of my heart, and on behalf of the Syrian Arab Republic, soon to be the Syrian Communist Republic, I say as emphatically as possible. Thank you, anti-imperialists! Thank you all! 

*Standing ovation and applause*

Ubisoft Starts Civil War in Russia to Promote Far Cry 6

TAGANROG- The game developer Ubisoft initiated an armed insurgency in southern Russia as a special promotional event for its upcoming release Far Cry 6, which is set in a “former Soviet republic in the midst of a civil war.” A company spokesperson said customers who pre-order the game will be automatically entered in a contest in which winners will be given a free tour of the newly-created republic of “Rostovia,” as the fictional country in the game is known. The grand prize winner will be allowed to act as Rostovia’s official Minister of Energy for a week.

Since armed clashes first began in the city of Rostov-na-Donu last week, the Kremlin has reacted extremely negatively to the game developer’s promotional event. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called it an “egregious provocation” and “an act of war.”

While the Foreign Minister was quick to point a finger at the United States, a State Department spokesperson denied any US government involvement.

“The United States government does not exercise any control over this private company, which, incidentally, is French,” the spokesperson said.

Meanwhile residents of the newly created “Republic of Rostovia” have been overly supportive of the new Ubisoft regime. Svetlana Malinovskaya, 38, runs a small grocery shop in one of Rostov’s suburbs and is quite happy with the new city administration.

“They got rid of all the corrupt bureaucrats and they’re actually doing something about the roads,” she said.

“Even better- they’re going to put my shop in the game, and my kids get all the downloadable content for free!”

While polls show that 96 percent of residents prefer the Ubisoft regime to Moscow’s rule, the fledgling republic has had to pay the price for its radical experiment in local democracy and cutting edge video game marketing. According to the most recent UN report, the conflict has so far claimed close to 3,000 casualties. An informal ceasefire which went into effect on Friday is expected to reduce the losses, and OSCE monitors have already been dispatched to the line of contact.

Russia’s representative at the United Nations introduced a Security Council resolution to condemn the game developer’s “unprovoked aggression and continued occupation of the Russian Federation’s territory.” In an official response letter, Ubisoft pointed out that it is not a state and possesses no armed forces. According to the company, all armed individuals involved in the “marketing event” are in fact “promotional contractors” who were hired locally within the Russian Federation.

Academic Proposes Creating Artificial Crimean Peninsula for Russia to Annex Safely

STAUNTON- Alexander Borodin of the Russian Academy of Sciences has a modest proposal to solve the conflict between the West and Russia over the latter’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014. The plan is simple- build Russia a mock Crimean peninsula that it can safely annex and occupy without infringing on the territorial integrity of any of its neighbors.

“We’ve already seen China push its claims in the South China Sea with the building of artificial islands,” Borodin said.

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Artificial island built by the People’s Republic of China. Borodin suggests Russia could built an artificial island as a stand-in for the Crimean peninsula.

“It’s not too much of a stretch for Russia to build its own artificial Crimean peninsula somewhere else in the Black Sea, or perhaps even in the Pacific Ocean.”

According to Borodin, this would solve several problems, the most obvious being the conflict with Ukraine and the West over Russia’s continued occupation of the disputed territory. He pointed out that by building its own Crimean peninsula however it wants, Russia could return the real Crimean peninsula back to Ukraine. This, along with a full pull out in Ukraine’s Donbas region would fulfill the conditions for the full removal of sanctions against Russia.

“As the situation stands now, Putin can’t let Crimea go,” Borodin explained.

“The annexation is what put his popularity through the roof. It’s a major pillar of his continuing support. But the initial euphoria has been wearing off in recent years due to economic hardship. What can Putin do? Re-annex Crimea? He certainly can if Russia builds its own artificial Crimea.”

Borodin said that a Russian-built Crimea could be settled with Russian citizens which the government would have to “save” periodically, perhaps even once a year. This way, the Russian military could repeatedly occupy the “peninsula” and carry out a “referendum,” each time giving the Russian President a massive boost in popularity.

“Obviously being able to annex the territory of another country repeatedly, in a safe environment, without any consequences, would be a great boon to the Russian people,” Borodin said.

“There are those in power who say that Russia is a natural empire and that empire is the only thing that can unite the Russian people. This would allow Russia to preserve this tradition without offending its neighbors.”

But while his plan allows Russia to safely annex territory without any of the usual side-effects of imperialism and colonialism, Borodin warned of potential drawbacks, especially what he calls “diminished returns.”

Borodin compares the effect to what heroin addicts call “chasing the dragon,” a slang term used to describe how addicts often keep using the drug in a vain attempt to recapture the feeling of their first high. To avoid this problem, Borodin said the frequency of annexations should be kept very low at first. He also suggested a program similar to methadone treatment, whereby between annexations the Russian military stages a fake buildup of military forces along a mock border constructed somewhere well within the territory of the Russian Federation.

While he admits potential drawbacks to the plan, Borodin states he’s confident that the benefits would easily outweigh them. For example, planning the construction of the new Crimean peninsula means it could be located in an area more suitable for building a bridge connecting it to the mainland. Or planners could simply make it an actual peninsula already connected to Russia, unlike the original Crimea, which is connected to Ukraine.

“This plan would represent a major step forward in improving relations between Russia, Ukraine, and the West,” Borodin said.

“But most of all, Russians will truly be able to say the Crimea is theirs. In fact, they could say it every few years if they wish!”

Eric Garland’s Merry Meltdown Christmas Special!

It’s a Christmas miracle! Santa dropped off an early present and now I’m passing the joy along to you!

Fast Company recently published an article about fake news in 2017, in which it criticized the “work” of Deza Destroyer Eric “Game Theory” Garland. Naturally, Gardland didn’t like it one bit. What ensued next was a Twitter meltdown of epic proportions, culminating in this masterpiece:

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You will rue the day you crossed this Deza destroyer! Face the wrath of GARLAND! To fuck away from, Vlad!

Naturally Twitter responded, and every time a new twist on this memorable threat was posted, an angel got its wings. Enjoy.

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I hope you enjoyed Garland’s Merry Meltdown. I have been informed that recently, US President Donald Trump legalized the phrase “Merry Christmas” via executive order, therefore I am wishing you all a Merry Christmas without fear of legal repercussions!

Fun With Russian Military Opsec Posters

Opsec (Operations security) is crucial in our modern, interconnected world. The Russian military seems to have just figured this out after several years of having its claims about the war in Ukraine blown to pieces thanks to Pvt. Ivanov’s selfies on his VK page.

This being the case, the Russian Ministry of Defense released a set of posters aimed at discouraging behaviors that could pose security risks (for comparison, think back to those “Loose Lips Sink Ships” posters of WWII). While they’re not as incredible as Russian/Ukrainian sci-fi pulp novel covers, they can still be amusing. For this bit I’ll be ignoring the Russian text and providing my own commentary.

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“When Dima needed mission critical information, Sergei was too busy arguing about Star Wars with some pedantic fanboy from NATO. Don’t be Sergei!”

 

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“To all the people back home, hello from the country we definitely haven’t invaded and aren’t currently occupying!”

 

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“Don’t waste valuable time trying to recreate the famous “tank man” photo from Tiananmen Square!”

 

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NATO SOLDIER: “This just gets better and better! Now he says he wants her to dress up like Judge Dredd and beat him while he’s tied to a chair and wearing a ball gag!”

 

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TOP HALF: “Don’t take selfies while you’re in a hot LZ!”

BOTTOM HALF: “Don’t take dick pics during mission briefings!”

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“Don’t leave your shit everywhere, especially when you’re trying to impress some woman with the dick pics that you took at an appropriate time, i.e. not during a mission briefing!”

 

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“No, we’re not interested in your Book of Mormon, even the electronic version on your smart phone. Leave those things at home!”

 

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“Remember, you will have plenty of time for yearbook signing AFTER WORK!”

 

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“It pays to be a smug blonde asshole, but you may end up being stalked by a strange man wearing a Canadian tuxedo.”

 

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“Don’t use work computers to run a Youtube gaming channel. You suck at World of Tanks anyway.”

 

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“Somebody in this picture has his own doctrine. Can you point to them?”

 

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“Where’s the money, Lebowski?!”

 

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“Hello, Colonel? Yeah it’s Klimov here. That Bond guy is back again. He’s in the pump house this time.”

 

 

Millennials Don’t Know About the Horrors of the Thirty Years War, and That’s Bad!

Today’s post is a guest column from the Heritage Foundation’s Glen Billings*

The 23rd of May next year will mark the 400th anniversary of the Defenestration of Prague, an event that many see as the spark which ignited The Thirty Years War, Europe’s most destructive war prior to the two world wars of the 20th century. In fact, it was considered to be the worst catastrophe ever to befall Germany until the Second World War. And yet few millennials know anything about the suffering and pain caused by this pivotal conflict.

In a recent survey conducted by the Victims of Religious Wars of the Early Modern Era, 54% of millennial respondents said that they preferred to live under the rule of a Holy Roman Emperor than in our free market capitalist system. A further 45 percent said they “mostly agree” with the Catholic League, and one out of five millennial respondents said they considered Imperial military leader Albrecht von Wallenstein to be a “hero.”

This is extremely disheartening to see in our modern era, in a time when proponents of restoring the Holy Roman Empire and spreading the Catholic faith by fire and sword are experiencing a surge in popularity and influence not seen in nearly four centuries. If youth are not made aware of the slaughter, the looting, the destruction of towns and villages, the witch hunts, pestilence, and famine that were caused by that horrendously bloody conflict so long ago, it isn’t a stretch to say they might fall for the false promises of Catholic populists who claim to have all the answers. We could very well travel down that same road again, and the results will not be pretty.

Wallenstein / Gem. nach Van Dyck - Wallenstein / Painting by Van Dyck - Wallenstein / D'ap. Van Dyck

I see so many ignorant teenagers at the mall wearing t-shirts with this tyrant’s face on them. They have no idea. 

American youth, not being European, are particularly at risk, which is why the same public education system people like me constantly deride and try to defund on a regular basis needs to step up to the plate and do a better job of educating our youth about the horrors of the Thirty Years War and the ideas that led to it. I would suggest making room in the course syllabus by removing more trivial episodes in history, such as the genocide of the Americas’ indigenous peoples, slavery, European colonization of Africa, the Civil Rights struggle, the Vietnam War, and especially that Iraq War people keep bringing up for some incomprehensible reason. Youth need to be taught what matters, and what matters is that we live in a great, prosperous liberal democratic free market capitalist Republic which is the best system on Earth and always will be till the end of our sun and human life itself.  And we have the Peace of Westphalia to partially thank for that.

If we fail to learn from history, we are sure to repeat it. The sad thing is that modern youth live in such wonderful prosperity, with unprecedented stability and real prospects for a satisfying life, and yet so many of them seem to desire the religious persecution and authoritarianism of the Holy Roman Empire. They may soon get just that.

 

 

 

 

*Real author’s note. Glenn Billings does not actually exist and is a fictional character. Therefore this entire piece is SATIRE and you cannot possibly criticize it or make any judgments about me or my values based on the content of what I write. This is an entirely rational thing to believe. 

The Conquest of Laundry

As I will be in the air for an extended amount of time in the near future, I’d like to leave you with an anecdote that characterized the first year and a half or so of my life abroad.

Clean clothes. Such a simple concept yet we take it for granted so often. We Americans are spoiled- we have dryers. Until I traveled to Russia for the first time in 1999, I’d never seen anyone hang clothes outside of films or TV. After you wash your clothes, a mere 45 minutes is all you need and you can wrap yourself in the warmth of freshly dried clothes. But soon after I moved abroad I would learn that while a dryer is simply a luxury, a washing machine is essential in our modern, urban life.

Our story begins in Prague, where I first arrived in the beginning of March, 2006. I was there to take a course in subverting the Russian government for the American neocon deep state establishment teaching English as a foreign language, and the school running the course offered students rooms in apartments that they owned. Thankfully, this apartment had a washing machine, so everything was in order. No worries, other than that time I got so hammered I threw up in “the biggest club in Central Europe!” and was later nearly robbed by a woman posing as a cab driver, but that’s a story for another time.

Once the course was over, naturally, they wanted you out, and even if they were to let me stay the room was very pricey, so I set about finding a new place. I eventually got a room overlooking Ječná street. It wasn’t the best arrangement. The most obvious deficiency was the lack of the washing machine. But the landlord, an Afrikaner man married to a Czech woman, promised he’d get one within a week. Needless to say, he didn’t get it within a week. I don’t remember how long it took exactly, but it was much later. And within a few days it was clear that it was broken.

Naturally the only solution while we waited for the landlord to “replace” it was to wash stuff by hand. Needless to say as an American I have no experience washing clothes by hand. Even us poor folk had access to washers and dryers, though they were often coin operated. I never managed to get the smell of soap out of my clothes. I suppose there could be worse smells. Every once in a while, like if I was going out at night, I’d treat myself by having a load of laundry washed at this place that did it for you (not drycleaning, just ordinary laundry). They also pressed it, which was a big plus.

Eventually I ended up moving far from the center of town to an establishment known as Hotel Dum, a name which sounds funny regardless of whether or not you pronounce it correctly. I lived on a floor for long-term residents, most of whom were students. Naturally my first question was about laundry. And of course, I was to be disappointed.

There was a “laundry room,” but it contained only one washing machine. The procedure for using said washing machine was ridiculously complex. What you had to do was leave a deposit with the front desk in order to get a key to the room for 24 hours. However, since there were many other people on the floor who wanted to do laundry, you had to find out from the front desk who had the key and when they would be returning it (assuming they were going to return it around the end of their 24 hours and not early). You’d need to coordinate with this person so as to make the handoff. Of course some people were happy to let you use the washing machine while they had the key, but this meant you had to coordinate your schedules for the day. I probably managed to use that machine maybe three times, about once a month. Needless to say I still paid those people to do my laundry a few more times, most notably when I moved to Russia in late August of 2006.

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The Holy Grail that I had sought in Prague in vain. Would I find it in Russia?

Moving to Russia was the realization of a dream I’d had for roughly six years (my Russian and Ukrainian readers are most likely rolling on the floor with laughter at this point), but now it was the potential fulfillment of a great desire I’d had ever since I’d left that first apartment in Prague. Because I would be working in a small town in the Moscow region, I was entitled to my own company-provided apartment (Moscow-based teachers had to share). When I arrived I was quite pleased to see how modern and spacious it was for a one-bedroom. Sadly, it wasn’t modern enough to have a washing machine.

No worries though- the school administrator promised to get me a washing machine within a week. Spoilers: It was more than a week, but they did actually deliver the damned thing. Once it was delivered, I had to wait for the handyman to install it. Of course it was missing some parts and couldn’t be connected as is. The handyman promised to get the parts and return one day.

Unfortunately that day didn’t come soon enough. You see, two new teachers, a married couple, arrived at our humble school and didn’t like the idea of sharing a washing machine with me, a slovenly bachelor living down the block in another building. Thus my washing machine was moved to their apartment. Sharing the washing machine, especially as the weather began to turn unpleasant, wasn’t really practical. But the final insult was still to come.

I want to stress that both these people were extremely pleasant and competent teachers, and we got on very well. But apparently they didn’t take kindly to Russia. These people had taught in China and traveled throughout Southeast Asia, seeing a great deal of underdevelopment and poverty all along the way- and yet they loved it. Russia, however, managed to break them in about two months. My washing machine was torn from my life and given to them, and yet they left. The administrator decided to leave the washing machine where it was, since they already had a new teacher to replace the couple that left. I would spend the rest of that contract washing my clothes by hand, with the same terrible results.

At the end of that contract, I transferred to Moscow. I would be sharing an apartment. Unfortunately this one was old and dark, and the room where I would spend the next year and two months was practically the size of a walk-in closet. But that didn’t concern me when I first arrived. I looked in the kitchen, and there, under the counter, was a washing machine! One that worked! The nightmare was over. I would have clean clothes all the time. I had zero fashion sense and my clothes were cheap or old because my salary was still quite low in those days, but they were clean and didn’t smell like detergent.

From that day on, I would never be without a washing machine. Even when I was in Ukraine for most of this year I was never without a washing machine, because contrary to what you might have read on Sputnik News or novorossiyanews.info, Ukraine has no shortage of washing machines. I can personally attest that Ukraine’s washing machine game is on point.

Since that first rough year abroad I have called many washing machines my own, including two in one place (the door broke on one and it nearly flooded the bathroom). Over the years I’ve noticed something funny about some of these washing machines here. They all tend to be Italian-made. That wouldn’t be particularly remarkable except for the fact that it seems that some of these Italian manufacturers decided that they could overcome language barriers by using a system of hieroglyphic symbols, numbers, and random letters as opposed to words on the front panel of the machine. The second-to-last washing machine I had was impossible to truly decipher. I had to download a manual and it always seemed like no symbol actually did what the manual claimed it would do.

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Panel of a Zerowatt washing machine similar to the one I had. Nothing here makes sense. It only provides the illusion of control. For in reality, the machine controls you.

It is possible that one must not only decode the symbols on the machine, but also say or chant a magical incantation while setting the dials in order to actually get the desired effect. It shall forever remain a mystery. Thankfully the washing machine which replaced that ancient model is clearly marked with Russian words and works perfectly, a real testimony to Italy’s prowess at producing washing machines. Bravi!

Anyway, I hope this light-hearted saga from the early period of my time abroad proved amusing to you, the reader. Hopefully it will serve as a temporary but welcome distraction from the horrendous awfulness of our modern world. A distraction from things like this, for example.

See you on the other side of the world!*

 

*Where we have dryers too!

Study Finds RT and Sputnik Audience Consists Entirely of Western ‘Anti-Disinfo’ Pundits (SATIRE!)

NEW YORK- A new study by the Institute for Obscure Media has found that the most regular consumers of news from the Russian outlets RT and Sputnik are Western pundits who write about “Kremlin disinformation.” According to the study, this segment consists of about two dozen individuals.

“We found a strong correlation between those who said they consume RT and Sputnik ‘very frequently,’ and those who answered ‘strongly agree’ to the statement ‘I believe Russia is waging a hybrid information war to destroy the West, and I must warn them about it, though my words often go unheeded, not unlike those of Cassandra in The Iliad,'” said Dr. Steven Kleiner, who conducted the study.

Dr. Kleiner said that all such respondents listed their occupation as journalist, commentator, info-warrior, or “patriot.”

“All other respondents said they’d only seen maybe ‘a couple of their videos on Youtube,'” Kleiner said.

According to the survey, the most common response was “What is RT?”

Eric MacGruder, one of the survey’s participants and a self-proclaimed “Anti-Active Measures Operative” since late November 2016, explained how he started watching RT and Sputnik “religiously” after the presidential election, which he says was rigged by the Russians.

“Of course I watch a lot of RT,” MacGruder said. “They put coded messages into a lot of the programs. These are cues to their operatives in the US and other Western countries.”

MacGruder explained that the cues are “number codes which can be deciphered using certain mathematical algorithms.” He claims his knowledge of QBasic helped him create a special program which operates on those algorithms in order to decode the messages he gets from RT.

Jan Novak from the Czech Republic was another respondent who said that he “constantly” watches RT and Sputnik as part of his job, which is aspiring director of a new European-based anti-propaganda think tank.

“Oh sure, some people say we have enough of those already, enough fact checking organizations and so-forth, but we need more, or at least one more with someone like me in charge,” Novak said, while typing up a grant proposal on his PC.

“People who say that we are exaggerating about the threat of Russian information war are basically saying Russia’s not a threat at all. They’re saying that Russia’s harmless and Putin is a wonderful leader. That’s the only possible conclusion you can draw from any objection to my claims whatsoever. I am a sane, rational person.”

RT frequently boasts about its high number of views on Youtube, which currently stands at 5 billion views if you combine all the videos on all the Youtube channels the network runs. This is only 11 billion fewer views than PewDiePie, an adult male who screams at video games while occasionally being a flaming racist. Currently, RT’s most popular video is about a homeless man and his remarkable singing talent, which has 40 million views to date.

RT is also rivaled on Youtube by another “RT,” which stands for Rooster Teeth. This comedy gaming channel boasts over 5 billion views.

The study concludes with the recommendation that RT and Sputnik should deliberately target the “pundit and think tank academic” community in order to build up a reliable audience, and that the networks’ current base of approximately 24 frequent viewers could serve as the “foundation” for a future larger following.

RIP Heart of Texas, the Facebook Page Only for REAL Texas!

A big TEXAS-sized HOWDY to all the proud Texans out there who are REALLY from the Texas just like I, the admin of this Facebook page is! You must like this page if you are agree what Texas should to be free and INDEPENDENT!

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If you are a REAL TEXAS, you know we have special unique culture. We are liking Dr. Pepper very much! We hate the Clintons and they’re neocon lies! We see Russia as natural ally in our struggle because Texas is a BIG STATE and Russia is BIG COUNTRY! We do NOT want Hilary Clinton to make our BEAUTIFUL STATE into another Benghazi!

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We are actual Texan Americans who are very proud of our BIG STATE! State flower is blue bonnet. Hurricanes are happened some times, but it’s okay because the LONE STAR STATE can take it! People say our page admin doesn’t speak proper English. Lies! Our page admin is ACTUAL TEXAS and speaks TEXAS English dialect perfectly. His vocabulary is as big as his huge Texan ten-litre cowboy hat.

Rest of United States is boring or full of Yankee imperialists! We need a referendum on independence, just like the totally legitimate and legal referendum in Crimean peninsula, which wanted to join Russia. Our new independent state can recognize this referendum and make alliance with Russia against the Yankee NATO dogs! GLORY TO TEXAS! GOD BLESS IT!

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Texas cuisine is the best. I like most BBQ ribs, hot dogs, hot sauce, and different types of Texas American food. If you are a real Texas, so do you! If not- GET OUT, YANKEE!!!

Speaking of real Texans- you know how sometimes in Texas it’s raining a lot in one area, but not in another? That’s because our beautiful state is SO BIG! Texans will know what I’m talking about! They also know WE NEED INDEPENDENCE from bad federal government. Also when Texas will be FREE, we must end those bad sanctions on Russia. Those are Obama’s sanctions!

Texas has oil industry, Russia has big oil industry. We together can have VERY BIG OIL industry with help of Rosneft. Get your sanctions out of our country, Obama!

Like this page if you are a true Texan and your love of your home state is as deep as object which is lodged deep in the heart of Texas! TEXAS WILL BE FREE AND INDEPENDENT! GOD BLESS TEXAN!