Category Archives: Politics

The Charlie Rose / Putin Interview

Editor’s note: the original interview can be seen here.

By James Howard Kunstler
Clock near midnight

Tick Tick Tick

Did Charlie Rose look like a f***ing idiot last night on 60-Minutes, or what, asking Vladimir Putin how he could know for sure that the US was behind the 2014 Ukraine coup against President Viktor Yanukovych? Maybe the idiots are the 60-Minutes producers and fluffers who are supposed to prep Charlie’s questions. Putin seemed startled and amused by this one on Ukraine: how could he know for sure?

Well, gosh, because Ukraine was virtually a province of Russia in one form or another for hundreds of years, and Russia has a potent intelligence service (formerly called the KGB) that had assets and connections threaded through Ukrainian society like the rhizomorphs of the fungus Armillaria solidipes through a conifer forest. Gosh, Charlie, it’s like asking Obama whether the NSA might know what’s going on in Texas.

And so there is Vladimir Putin, a former KGB officer, having to spell it out for the American clodhopper super-journalist. “We have thousands of contacts with them. We know who and where, and when they met with someone, and who worked with those who ousted Yanukovych, how they were supported, how much they were paid, how they were trained, where, in which country, and who those instructors were. We know everything.”

The only thing Vlad left out of course was the now-world-famous panicked yelp by Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland crying, “Fuck the EU,” when events in Kiev started getting out of hand for US stage-managers. But he probably heard about that, too.

Charlie then voice-overed the following statement: “For the record, the US has denied any involvement in the removal of the Ukrainian leader.” Right. And your call is important us. And your check is in the mail. And they hate us for our freedom.

This bit on Ukraine was only a little more appalling than Charlie’s earlier segment on Syria. Was Putin trying to rescue the Assad government? Charlie asked, in the context of President Obama’s statement years ago that “Assad has to go.”

Putin answered as if he were explaining something that should have been self-evident to a not-very-bright high school freshman: “To remove the legitimate government would create a situation which you can witness in other countries of the region, for instance Libya, where all the state institutions have disintegrated. We see a similar situation in Iraq. There’s no other solution to the Syrian crisis than strengthening the government structure.”

I guess Charlie and the 60-Minutes production crew hadn’t noticed what had gone on around the Middle East the past fifteen years with America’s program of toppling dictators into the maw of anarchy. Not such great outcomes.

Charlie persisted though, following his script: Was Putin trying to rescue Assad? Vlad had to lay it out for him as if he were introducing Charlie to the game of Animal Lotto: “What do you think about those who support the terrorist organizations only to oust Assad without thinking about what happens to the country after all the state institutions have been demolished…? Look at those who are in control of 60 percent of the territory of Syria.

Meaning ISIS. Al Nusra (formerly al Qaeda in Syria), i.e., groups internationally recognized as terrorist organizations.

Charlie Rose, 60-Minutes — and perhaps by extension US government agencies with an interest in propagandizing — seem to want to put over the story that Russia has involved itself in Syria only to aggrandize its role on in world affairs.

Forgive me for being so blunt, but what sort of stupid fucking idea is this? And are there any non-lobotomized adults left in the USA who can’t see straight through it? The truth is that American policy in Syria (plus Iraq, Libya, Ukraine, Somalia, Afghanistan) is an impressive record of failure in terms of the one basic aim that most rational people might agree upon: stabilizing the region in a way that does not leave Islamic jihadi maniacs in charge.

Okay, so now the Russians will do what they can to try to stabilize Syria. They’ve had their failures, too (famously, Afghanistan). But Russian territory adjoins the Islamic lands and they clearly have stake in containing the virus of Islamic extremism near their borders. Is that not obvious?

Charlie made one other extremely dumb statement — he seems to prefer making assertions to asking straight-up questions — to the effect that Russia was misbehaving by deploying troops on its border with Ukraine.

Putin again seemed astonished by this credulous idiocy. The US had troops and nuclear weapons all over Europe, he answered. Did Charlie think that meant the US was attempting to occupy the nations of Europe now? Was it “a crime” for Russia to defend its own border with a neighboring state (formerly a province) that, he implied, the US had deliberately destabilized?

The Putin segment was followed by a sickening session with Donald Trump, a man who now — after a month or so of public exposure — proves incapable of uttering a coherent idea. I wonder what Vladimir Putin makes of this incomparable buffoon. Perhaps that America has gotten what it deserves.


My cringe word is “bi-partisan”. Whenever I hear that, I know we’ve just spent a crap ton of money we don’t have on both welfare & warfare. We’ve been “bi-partisan” for decades… where has it led us? Endless war and $17 trillion in debt. Our grandkids will pay it back with interest I’m sure…. NOT! Nor should they. We’ll be lucky if they bury us in something other than mass graves.

The Tea Party / Occupy Intersection

Been imagining this graphic in my mind for a long time now. Both are right on their diagnoses but Occupy is wrong on its solutions. If corporations have too much power, giving government even MOAR power does nothing to stop that – in fact it makes it worse – because government and corporations are in bed together. The solution is a return to a truOccupy / Tea Party Intersectionly free market where corporations are allowed to fail, and government is limited and held accountable to any cronyism like picking winners and losers, providing bailouts & “gift loans”, no bid contracts to Halliburton/Monsanto and so forth. Power needs to go back where it belongs – to the people – not the government nor corporations, and that is done via restoring the free market, not the crony market we currently have run by central bankers who work for the 0.01%.

Clean Air Regulations: Thoughts on Practicality

Smoking Tailpipe
Ready to be super-regulated?

The state of California today passed sweeping new automobile regulations today in an attempt to reduce pollutants & greenhouse gases.  These regulations include:

  1. a requirement that one in seven of the new cars sold in the state in 2025 be an electric or other zero-emission vehicle.
  2. a mandate to have 1.4 million electric and hybrid vehicles on state roads by 2025.
  3. a mandate for a 75 percent reduction in smog-forming pollutants by 2025.
  4. and a mandate for 34 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over roughly the same time.

States surely do have the right to regulate commerce & emissions within their own borders, no argument there.  Let’s also ignore the whole greenhouse gas emission debate – it’s really not relevant to the discussion here.  What is interesting is the practicality of these “mandates”, particularly the first one, and how they could feasibly be implemented.

If there truly would be a requirement that one in seven new cars sold in the state be a non-traditional vehicle, this would imply that dealers must be constantly tracking car sales by type.  It would mean that customers potentially could go into their dealer, ready to put down a check for a new traditional gas/diesel vehicle, and be told by the dealer “I’m sorry, we’ll put you in the queue for that car, but until another electric vehicle is sold first, we can’t actually close the sale.”

Sound ridiculous?  Well, that’s what the regulation actually says: 1 in 7 MUST be electric or other zero-emission vehicles.  The only way to truly guarantee that is to have a real-time data system implemented that allows the sale of six traditional vehicles for every electric vehicle sold, and blocks subsequent traditional vehicle sales until the next electric vehicle is sold.  I wonder how much such a system will cost to develop, maintain, and utilize?

I have a feeling that the subsequent mandates #2-#4 are nothing more than assumed consequences of what will happen given that the sales ratio (mandate #1) is successful.  Would those numbers really work out in such a case?  Have they factored in that pollution is still generated by electric cars, just at the power plant rather than from the tailpipe?  One must assume so.

Wouldn’t it be far easier, far less intrusive, and far more friendly to individual liberty to simply adjust existing taxes & fees to achieve nearly the same goal?  Certainly there is an annual registration fee (I imagine quite high) to register a car in California.  Why couldn’t the same objective of promoting electric/no-emission vehicles be met far more easily by simply increasing the annual registration fee on traditional vehicles and/or decreasing the annual registration fee on electric/no-emission vehicles?

Regulators often get overly full of themselves, believing they can wield immense power to directly implement any desired result without giving thought to the consequences and impracticality of doing so.  One of the best features of our republic is having 50 laboratories of democracy each conducting their own experiments, and I for one cannot wait to see the results of this one.