TOC Ready Room 16 December 2022: Censorship, gas lights, and Russia-Iran missile/drone adventure

What’s wrong and right with the world.

A phenomenon has been developing in recent weeks that should raise our level of concern about the nature of public discourse, especially as brokered by the media.

It’s more than what the media, per se, are doing, however.  It has to do with “news” that purports to be coming from government, but is backed by no actual evidence, and is unverifiable in terms of whether it came from government at all, much less could be held accountable in any way.

We’ll have some examples below that clarify what I’m talking about.  To start with, however, a tweet exchange for orientation to the topic: Continue reading “TOC Ready Room 16 December 2022: Censorship, gas lights, and Russia-Iran missile/drone adventure”

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Nevada, Utah, and Venezuela: A tale of two oil and gas policy moves

What are US oil workers, chopped liver?

Possibly, if these events hadn’t all been concurrent, I mightn’t have noticed either tale, or the events it encompassed.

But they did all unfold at the same time.  And they struck me quite forcibly.

One struck me in particular, for reasons I suspect will be obvious.  So I’ll just mention that one at the outset, to get things started.

In October 2022, a batch of Venezuelan bonds bought by Goldman Saches back in May 2017 reached their final maturity date.  The bonds were against the Venezuelan state-owned oil and gas company, Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA).  They were nominally worth $2.8 billion when purchased for some $865 million in 2017.  Many business and political commentators thought it was a bad buy at the time: a use of investors’ money that was neither sound from a business standpoint nor impressive from a moral one. Continue reading “Nevada, Utah, and Venezuela: A tale of two oil and gas policy moves”

TOC Ready Room 22 November 2022: Drive-by edition; Poland missile impact, Biden FBI/Israel, Special Counsel and other Trump

What’s wrong and right with the world.

Increasingly, I agree with those who say we need an “audit” of U.S. support to Ukraine.  I put “audit” in quotation marks because a mere audit of the tens of billions flowing to Ukraine – and to military contractors – won’t get the job done.  What’s needed is a wholesale policy scrub of the Biden administration’s handling of the problem.

As always, I begin by affirming that the U.S. needs to support a fight to reverse and end Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.  The U.S. shouldn’t have direct military engagement in the fight, nor should NATO.

But it matters what strategy we’re supporting and how military assistance to Ukraine is executed.

It matters at least as much how the fight in Ukraine is affecting NATO’s security conditions, posture, and unity. Continue reading “TOC Ready Room 22 November 2022: Drive-by edition; Poland missile impact, Biden FBI/Israel, Special Counsel and other Trump”

U.S. bombers to Australia: New deployment, old issue

There was a better answer than this.

In 2016, I wrote about the recent purchase by a China-based company of a 99-year lease on parts of the port of Darwin in Australia’s Northern Territory.  The company, Landbridge, would execute the terms of the lease, which included port operations and a commercial fuel depot at a location close to where the U.S. Marines are deployed to Darwin, through an Australian subsidiary set up for the purpose.

Landbridge has connections to the Communist Party through its interactions with government officials in its homebase of Rizhao, a port city in Shandong Province.  The company’s owner, Ye Cheng, has also referred to Landbridge’s port lease in Darwin as Landbridge’s participation in Xi Jinping’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative – certainly not evidence of detachment by the company from the Party.  One Belt, One Road is a government project, not the vision of Chinese “private” industry (to the extent there ever was such a thing, or still could be a year on from the Xi regime’s comprehensive 2021 business crackdown).

When the Landbridge deal was being negotiated, Continue reading “U.S. bombers to Australia: New deployment, old issue”

TOC Ready Room 26 October 2022: 101st Airborne in Romania; Kanye, China, and other wonders

What’s wrong and right with Russia-Ukraine, China and computers, and Ye.

This will be a rough-and-ready Ready Room, intended to spray a few current topics out there without going in-depth on any of them.  I really mean it this time, so throw rotten fruit if you catch a glimpse of over-analysis out here in the heathery rough.

The first topic is the headline teaser:  deployment of the U.S. 101st Airborne to Europe.  CBS did a segment this past week in which its crew accompanied soldiers of the 101st on field activities in Romania, just “a few miles” from the border of Ukraine.

A great deal was made of the point that the 101st hasn’t deployed to Europe since World War II. Continue reading “TOC Ready Room 26 October 2022: 101st Airborne in Romania; Kanye, China, and other wonders”