Abattoir No More.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is, as anyone reading here knows, a great fan of pork. If you follow your Maximum Leader on the Twitter (@maximumleader) you would be able to follow is (nearly) annual trek to buy the Easter ham. This is his pilgrimage called Hamquest. (You can see his Hamquest here.) On Hamquest your Maximum Leader leaves his home and travels to Smithfield, VA to get the ham he will serve up at Easter. Smithfield, VA is the Pork Capital of Virginia. And the eponymous company based there, Smithfield Foods, is one of the largest pork producers in the world.

Well, there is news from Smithfield. The headline says it all: Smithfield Foods stops slaughtering pigs at U.S. hometown plant. Here is some of the piece:

Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork processor, has stopped slaughtering pigs in the United States’ so-called ham capital, where the company was founded 85 years ago.

The end of slaughtering in Smithfield, Virginia, is the latest reconfiguration for the company’s namesake plant and follows a months-long internal review of its East Coast operations, Smithfield Foods said in a statement.

The company, owned by Hong Kong-listed WH Group, is shifting slaughtering to some of its 47 other U.S. facilities and spending $5 million to upgrade the Virginia plant to produce more packaged bacon, ham and other pork products, said Keira Lombardo, chief administrative officer.

Smithfield, Virginia, is a tourist destination based on its history as Smithfield Foods’ hometown and boasts a museum featuring the world’s oldest ham.

This is sad news. But at least Smithfield Foods isn’t leaving Smithfield…

There is that fun line in there about Smithfield Foods being owned by a Hong Kong listed (aka: Chinese) firm. Your Maximum Leader has known a number of people who were quite bent out of shape when WH Group bought controlling interest in Smithfield Foods. There was a lot of discussion that seemed to center on how the Chinese were going to take over the pork market. Your Maximum Leader, while leery of China broadly, is quite sanguine in this matter. It is sort of like the “scare” that dominated our national consciousness in the late 80’s and early 90’s about how the Japanese were buying everything and were going to “own America.” That scare was just that, a scare. Is the situation with Chinese-owned US firms the same? No. They aren’t the same. But are they analogous? Probably. The Chinese can’t pack up Smithfield Foods and all of its pig farms and processing plants and move them to China. And shutting down the business defeats the purpose of owning the business. So if there is a nefarious plot afoot, it is quite subtle.

Anyhoo…

It is a little sad to think that Smithfield, VA may not actually be the Pork Capital of VA. But it remains Smithfield and your Maximum Leader will continue to go and get hams from there for as long as it is possible to do so.

Carry on.

Some Thoughts

Greetings, loyal minions.

You wouldn’t know it but your Maximum Leader has drafts in his folder that need work to be able to publish. He may get around to it. He may not. Here are some things to read and forget for you all…

Your Maximum Leader has been counting his carb intake recently. And by recently he means over the past 2-3 weeks. He is generally able to keep below 175 grams of total carbs a day. He isn’t trying to calculate “Net Carbs” as it will occupy too much space in his head. He also doesn’t want to download an app to track this stuff. No major changes to report, which is not unexpected on his part. He isn’t changing much else about his eating habits. Though, twice since he started he has really been overwhelmed with an urge to eat “carby things.” The first time he had some chips. That put him over 225 grams of carbs for that day. The second time was last night. He ate a large piece of berry pie. Estimating the carbs by the amount of berries he estimated to be in the slice of pie, and assuming that the crust was about the same as a piece of bread that put him at about 225 grams again. We’ll see how this all goes when he goes back in October for a checkup. We’ll see if his blood sugar is lower than it was in March.

Next up, your Maximum Leader is a little excited about going on a little weekend trip this upcoming weekend. He and Mrs. Villain are going to Philadelphia on the train for a short grown ups weekend. Your Maximum Leader got a great deal on the train tickets and the hotel room. We plan on visiting the Franklin Institute, the Museum of the American Revolution, and (possibly) the Barnes Foundation. Perhaps we’ll have a nice meal or two.

A quick codicil to your Maximum Leader’s post on incitement that you should find below this post. This is a short clarification that he’s been meaning to add for our friend, The Metropolitan. Your Maximum Leader is not trying to suggest that incitement be adjudicated in the courts. Though that is a possibility. What he’d really like to see are some agreed upon standards that would be codified by Congress (both houses) that everyone would agree to implement if a political figure is accused of incitement. Your Maximum Leader fully knows that “high crimes and misdemeanors” can mean whatever the hell the House of Representatives wants it to. And the Senate can use whatever process for adjudicating an impeached official they want. But some guidelines, some “bright red” guidelines, would be nice to have. It will not happen, but your Maximum Leader would like to see it regardless. If there were some consequences for truly awful actions by politicians there might be fewer incidents of truly awful actions by politicians.

Also, The Metropolitan is owed a general re-hash of the Trump Administration by your Maximum Leader. Here is the abstract of what your Maximum Leader thinks… Donald Trump is a terrible human being who should never have been nominated for the office in which he served. He was a terribly divisive figure, in a divisive time, that reveled in creating more chaos and strife. Your Maximum Leader agreed with some policies (judicial appointments, Israeli/Palestinian issues, Keystone XL pipeline). He agreed in principle with other policies, though disagreed with how they were carried out (like asking allies to do more towards their own defense, hard line on Iran, immigration reform & having immigrants processed in other countries, draw-down of US forces abroad, to name a few). And he outright disagreed with some policies (tax reform, propping up coal power,). As a bulwark against Democrats, Trump functioned pretty well all in all. Basically, both parties are on the path to destroying the American Republic. The Democratic Party wants to move the nation into the express lanes to our fall, and the Republican party is happy to go slowly in the local lanes. The destination for both parties is the same. Your Maximum Leader does hope for a new birth of political sensibility to come over the country, but he doesn’t see it happening in the next few years. He isn’t ruling it out, but it doesn’t seem to be in the offing any time soon. (Just as he would speculate that no one would have foreseen Reagan coming in 1968.)

Well… That is all for now.

Carry on.

Incitement

Greetings, loyal minions.

Your Maximum Leader sees that the jury in the Derek Chauvin trial seems to have reached a verdict. That verdict will be announced shortly. Your Maximum Leader was drafting out a blog post on incitement, and he’ll just share a few quick thoughts here and now - rather unformed - before the chaos that ensues after the verdict is announced. And know, there will be chaos after the verdict. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t care what the verdict is. It makes no difference. The verdict will result in violence and property destruction no matter how it turns out. For the record, your Maximum Leader (who has not been carefully following the details of what transpired at the trial) believes that Chauvin will be found guilty of Manslaughter and receive a sentence of about 8 years of which he’ll serve about 2.5.

Having said that, let’s talk about incitement for a moment. Your Maximum Leader has thought a lot about incitement in 2021. It started on January 6th. On that day the (then) President of the United States urged a crowd of his followers to go to the Capitol building and protest the outcome of the US Presidential election. That crowd went to the Capitol building and eventually stormed the building. The action of the crowd turned mob resulted in property damage, injury, and death. Your Maximum Leader believes it was one of the darkest days for the Republic during his lifetime. The question became, did the President incite the crowd/mob to do what they did?

This is theme has resurfaced again after Congresswoman Maxine Waters urged protesters to “stay on the street” and “get more confrontational” if the jury didn’t convict Derek Chauvin in the George Floyd case.

So… Were these both examples of incitement? Well, your Maximum Leader has taken some time to try to educate himself a little bit on what exactly the law says about incitement. It turns out that the law is pretty clear. Broadly speaking to legally meet the definition of incitement a person has to directly call for lawless actions or speak in a way that will likely result in lawless actions. This is the Brandenburg Test. So… In order for someone to be prosecuted for incitement (to riot, to engage in a rebellion, or to engage in an insurrection) on has to be pretty explicit about about engaging in speech that will result in lawlessness. In the instances of President Trump’s and Congresswoman Waters’ comments it seems pretty clear that neither of them would meet the standard to be charged and found guilty of incitement.

But, your Maximum Leader wonders (as did Democrats in the House of Representatives when they impeached President Trump for a second time) if there should be a lower bar for what he will call “Political Incitement.” That is when a political leader makes statements that are both inflammatory enough to motivate people to lawlessness, but vague enough to not pass the Brandenburg Test. Your Maximum Leader will go on the proverbial record and say that there ought to be some penalty for Political Incitement. In both the cases he’s mentioned here, he would want at a minimum a formal censure of the offending person. But further, he would be supportive of the removal of that person from office and barring that person from holding office in the future. So, if you’re wondering, yes your Maximum Leader would have supported the removal from office of Trump in January 2021. He would also support the removal from office of Waters in April 2021.

Basically it comes down to elected officials holding offices of trust under the Constitution of the United States should not make inflammatory statements that are likely to provoke or inspire lawlessness. So, if you are a US Senator and you go and speak to a crowd of supporters who are inclined to be dissatisfied with their lot and tell them that they should go and stand up for themselves, that could be a type of political incitement. If you are the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and you go and speak to a crowd protesting unfair housing practices in some US city and during your remarks you encourage the crowd to show people how angry you are and to keep up protesting for change, that could be a type of political incitement. In both of these hypotheticals, if the crowds engaged in lawless behavior as a result of the remarks given, that would meet his personal test in this “Political Incitement.” Now your Maximum Leader isn’t trying to make a hard and fast rule, but he is trying to set a standard for acceptable behavior among officials. Officials should always default to eschewing remarks that could inflame a crowd to lawlessness. Sadly we live in a time where this doesn’t seem to be the case for some (a noteworthy few in fact) officials. Those officials are, by and large, the worst of our elected officials and we as a nation would be better off without them.

Of course, your Maximum Leader is just a bloviator in the ether… So all this amounts to him crying out like an idiot. Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Carry on.

General First of March Update

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has been drafting a piece he has promised his friend Bill. It is basically a post-mortem of the Trump Administration. Your Maximum Leader was never a fan of Mr. Trump as a human being, or as a President. He accomplished some things of which your Maximum Leader approves, and others he did not. Anyway… That piece is coming. (As is Easter… And Christmas…)

In terms of a general update… Your Maximum Leader spent some time “in the box” on Saturday as our friend and fellow swimmer in the Tiber, Robbo says. Your Maximum Leader hadn’t been to Confession in about a year. At first it was the Covid that kept him away. The ‘Ronas, as the kids say, kept his Parish effectively closed from March to June. Starting in June, the Parish started having reconciliation again and by that time your Maximum Leader was lazy and apathetic. Indeed, those were the words he used in his Confession to describe why it had been a year since his last Reconciliation. So the time as a penitent went well. And was followed by 7am Mass on Sunday Morning. Something about which your Maximum Leader has also been rather lackadaisical. He’s gone to Mass a few times in person since the Parish reopened. (Few being 3-4 times during Advent). He’s also been irregular at watching live-streams of Mass on Sunday and Holy Days. Watching a live-stream seems to be what Bishops around the US are advising. It also seems like most Bishops still have retained the release from the requirement to attend Mass on Sundays across the US and Canada. The Diocese of Arlington generally, and your Maximum Leader’s parish specifically, seem to be carefully adhering to the Governor’s guidelines/requirements for houses of worship during these viral times. The Church is filled to less than 50% capacity. The Church is cleaned between each Mass. They are doing everything possible to act according to the government’s rules. At some level your Maximum Leader wants his Diocese to start pushing the envelope and doing more to return to regular worship. But he doubts they have it in them to do. So, regardless of what his Bishop is willing to do, your Maximum Leader has determined to use this Lenten season to refocus his mind towards things spiritual and make sure he gets back into his regular routine on Sundays and Holy Days. It is important for his spiritual and mental health. Indeed, it is not only his mental and spiritual health that has suffered since last year, but the health of so many.

Speaking of Lenten season, your Maximum Leader gave up the booze for Lent. That is proving to be more of a mental challenge than he planned for. It has been especially hard while watching hockey games and while cooking dinner on Saturday and Sundays. Those are times he most likes to have a tipple. That said, so far so good on that penance.

While your Maximum Leader has been thinking of things spiritual, and political, he’s started to wonder about his voting habits. Specifically, he’s started to think more about his (and many people’s) tendency to vote for the “least worst” candidate available. Indeed, your Maximum Leader has more or less followed William F. Buckley, Jr.’s guidance to vote for the “most conservative candidate available.” But in recent years, what passes in your Maximum Leader’s mind for “conservative” has been harder and harder to find. Additionally, the quality of people running for elected office seems to be on the decline. (Across both parties.) People seeking office seem to just be hacks for their side. The prevalent platform for both major parties seems to be summarized as “keep the other side from getting what they want and do what damage we can to the Republic along the way.” This has caused your Maximum Leader to give serious consideration to not voting for any candidate for whom he cannot say with a clear conscience, “This person is qualified for the office they seek and will not actively do damage to the Republic at any level.” When he thinks of it like that, it is unlikely that he would vote for anyone on the ballot at the Federal level. State and local voting would be tricky, but possible. Your Maximum Leader hasn’t fully thought this through, and will probably not commit to it by the time November comes around. (This November are State and Local elections in the not-as-great-as-its-been Commonwealth of Virginia.) But it is something about which he’s thought seriously.

And lastly, your Maximum Leader is denying himself more than alcohol… Your Maximum Leader is a fan of Sherlock Holmes. He owns all the original Holmes stories both in real books and on his Kindle device. Well, as those of you who buy anything from Amazon know, you get messages. Yes, you get messages from Amazon asking you how you liked something you bought and noting that if you “like item “A” you may also like product “B” which is available at this link right here!” Normally, your Maximum Leader ignores or gives a quick glance to these messages exhorting him to part with more money. But he got one that said something to the effect of “if you like that set of the complete Holmes stories that you already own, you’ll probably love this 3 Volume set of the new and improved Complete Annotated Sherlock Holmes.” Well, your Maximum Leader shouldn’t have clicked on the link, but he did. And then he did the next worst thing, he downloaded the Volume 1 sample. Then he continued down the treacherous path and started reading the sample. Worst of all, he’s discovered that he really really really likes this annotated version of the Holmes stories. He loves touching the little footnote links and having the link pop open right in front of him. The annotations are fun, informative, and easy. Needless to say, your Maximum Leader really wants to invest and buy these 3 volumes of works. But he has not done so because he can’t get his head around spending $90 on works that he already owns! This is tough. These books are new and shiny and ANNOTATED FOR GOODNESS SAKE. But they are expensive and he already owns most of the content he’d be buying. Indeed he owns the content TWICE OVER already. Anyway, denial is a tough thing…

That is it.

Carry on.

Out & In

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has a draft of a lengthy post about the events in our country that have unraveled over the past 2 weeks. But every time he thinks about publishing it, something new and strange seems to happen. So on this January 20th, 2021, Inauguration Day, your Maximum Leader will keep his comments short.

In March 1797, newly-minted former President George Washington said to newly-minted President John Adams, “I am fairly out, and you are fairly in. See which of us will be the happiest.” This quotation has come into your Maximum Leader’s mind many times in the past few weeks. In a few hours, Donald Trump will be fairly out of office and Joe Biden will be fairly in. It is important to state that very clearly. This election was not stolen. There was no great conspiracy. Joe Biden won a closely contested election. Trump’s team had chances all over the country and in state and federal courts to prove otherwise. They cannot. This part of the story has ended.

So with Trump fairly out and Biden fairly in, your Maximum Leader has reflected and has come to his conclusion that for what may be the first time in the history of the Republic, the incoming President may be happier than the outgoing President. Trump will continue to be a bitter, nasty, egomaniac brooding over his lies in his post-presidential years. Biden will be overwhelmed with his job and may not have much time for reflection. Your Maximum Leader hopes not to hear much from or about Trump starting tomorrow. But that will not come to pass. There is a trial in the Senate that will take center stage for a time. Then there will be the inevitable blaming of Trump (rightfully and wrongly) for everything that Biden and the Democrats can or cannot do that will go on for about 18 months. But after that trial your Maximum Leader hopes that it will be easier to ignore anything involving Donald Trump.

Though he doesn’t have high hopes, or great expectations, or even moderate expectations; he hopes that Joe Biden can start to move the United States towards a more normal, or at least settled, style of government. Good luck to him, and to all of us.

Carry on.

Move Forward

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader isn’t an expert. He doesn’t play one on TV. He is just a lowly blogger with a moribund web site. All that said… It is time for the transition to begin.

President Trump has lost the 2020 election. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t see a way for him to make up enough ground in enough places to change the outcome. He should do the right thing and instruct the GSA to start opening the government to President-Elect Biden’s transition team.

In case some of my conservative, or Republican, friends are scandalized by this position please consider these things your Maximum Leader has been considering. Was there widespread voter fraud across the country? No. There simply isn’t solid evidence of that. Claims are based on hearsay and mostly wild speculation on social media platforms. Was there voter fraud generally speaking? Oh yes. Your Maximum Leader is sure that there are fraudulently and illegally counted ballots all around the county. But even if these were all discovered, and recounted accurately and legally, it wouldn’t affect anything except on the margins. He doesn’t think any outcomes would be different than what we have today.

Does you Maximum Leader expect that President Trump will start the transition process on his side? No. He really doesn’t. Sadly, that is part of the petulant child portion of Trump’s personality that damages the country. One would hope that someone in the Administration would have the balls to get the ball rolling, and damn the consequences. That doesn’t seem likely either. Those who might have been inclined to do that have departed already.

So what about holding off until lawsuits and such are concluded? This is a valid point. Your Maximum Leader believes that President Trump is within his legal rights to sue and to contest what he thinks he should contest. Not only is he within his rights to do so, but he should do so considering how close (broadly speaking) the election is. The courts, for their part, should swiftly move to adjudicate these cases and should allow states to certify their results and remove any legal hurdle to the transition to the new administration.

Will all this happen quickly? Who knows? Your Maximum Leader is generally tired of trying to guess.

You can all be assured of one thing… Transition or not, on January 20, 2021, former Vice-President Joe Biden will become President of the United States.

Carry on.

Introspection

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is going to withhold much of what is is thinking about the election right now. But he will put this out there. Many Democratic pundits, Democratic voters, and regular people are looking at the results, such as they are now, and saying to themselves, “having seen what has gone on for 4 years, how can people vote for more of this?” The unasked question that they would be well-served to also ask “is what are we offering going to push people away from voting for us?” Now, your Maximum Leader has a few close friends who are quick to point out that Biden is not a real leftist like many other faces of the Democratic Party. They would say that Biden isn’t going to push some of those “far left” policies. To this your Maximum Leader rejoins that Biden may not be that liberal, but the party seems to be that liberal.

Another question for Democrats to ask themselves is this: “How is calling people who disagree with us stupid racists working out for us?”

Carry on.

UPDATE: For what it is worth (and in this case that is most likely absolutely nothing), today your Maximum Leader has spoken to (a statistically insignificant sample size of) 3 women who did not vote for Trump in 2016, but said they did vote for him this year. Your Maximum Leader asked them why they voted for him. All three of them said pretty much variations on the same theme. That theme is: 1) the Democrats tacitly approved of (or actively supported) the protests (riots/violence) in the streets of the US over the summer and they feared for more, 2) none of them want single-payer health care and believe the Democrats will enact such policies, and 3) all the talk of adding DC and Puerto Rico as states (to increase the number of Democrats in the Senate) and packing the Supreme Court disturbed them greatly. One of them said about the last point that “they are sore losers who want to change the rules so they can win.”

Again, that is not a statistically significant sample, but it was interesting. In fact the only argument that could have convinced your Maximum Leader to vote for Trump was the “he will be a bulwark against Democratic excess” argument.

Avoiding Election News

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is taking a quick look right now at some non-election related news stories. (16:47 US Eastern Standard Time.) When he is done, it will be off the interwebs and social media and anything news related until at least tomorrow morning. At that point he will turn on the news to get the weather forecast. Sadly, he will likely get election news as well.

If all goes according to plan, he will have a few cocktails tonight whilst watching movies. Then he will drift off into dreamless slumber…

If all goes according to plan…

Carry on.

Voting

Greetings, loyal minions.

Your Maximum Leader voted two days ago.

He will neither encourage nor discourage you from doing so yourself.

Frankly, he doesn’t care if you vote.

And when he thinks more broadly about voting, he starts thinking about shrinking the franchise.

Of course, when your Maximum Leader’s World Order comes, everyone will vote. Everyone will be encouraged to vote. But your votes will be meaningless.

Happy Halloween.

Carry on.

Speaking the Unspeakable.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has been watching the news from Europe and Asia a little more carefully over the past few weeks than he has before. You see, he figured that since the Covid outbreaks in Europe and Asia for the most part preceded those of the US and Canada they would likely lead any “second wave” that might be happening. Additionally, since Europe and Asia seem to have better prevention and mitigation protocols than the US, it would stand to reason that seeing how bad a second wave of infections might be could illustrate how it could go in the US.

Well… The news isn’t good. This article from The Daily Beast might be one of the first of many that we will see in American outlets: Italy Did Everything Right to Stop a Second Wave of the Coronavirus. So What Went Wrong? The picture is not promising. Here are some salient points:

If you turn on the news in Italy right now, you might be forgiven for thinking you are getting reruns from March. Pictures of COVID-only units, field hospitals being erected, exhausted medics and coffins are again dominating headlines as Italy comes to grips with a deadly second wave of COVID-19. On Wednesday, the death toll topped 125 in a 24-hour period for the first time since May when this country was still under a Draconian lockdown and seen as a harbinger of what was to come.

[…]

On Wednesday, Italy logged 15,199 new infections–nearly three times as many as the worst day of the pandemic last March and a per capita rate that would be the equivalent of 90,000 new cases in a single day in the U.S., which has not yet been reached.

And it is only getting worse. “Certain metropolitan areas like Milan, Naples and Rome are already out of control in terms of containing the pandemic,” Walter Ricciardi, an infectious disease specialist advising the Italian government who holds the same position in Italy as Fauci does in the U.S. said at a conference Wednesday. “Their numbers are too high to be contained by the traditional method of tracing and testing. And as previous epidemics teach us, when you can’t contain you have to mitigate, namely you have to block movement.”

[…]

But authorities are very concerned still that despite all the best efforts to contain the spread, it simply cannot be stopped. The government’s experts insist that the rate of contagion among school children is not the driving factor, but young people who feel confident they won’t get very sick and insist on gathering socially may be. Now major cities like Milan, Rome and Naples have evening curfews to try to stop young people from gathering socially, which seems to be contributing to the spread. Riccardi said that most of the contagion that happens within multigenerational homes comes from young people bringing it in.

But Italy is by no means alone in its battle against the European second wave of the pandemic. France, Spain and the Czech Republic have all broken records in new cases and introduced measures to mitigate the spread. The United Kingdom has also recorded record numbers of new infections in a single day, and Ireland has completely locked down.

Germany—which largely avoided problems during the first European wave— has reported shocking numbers of new infections, which topped 10,000 in a single day on Wednesday. Authorities there have also blamed young people going out or groups meeting privately for the spread. Dr. Lothar Wieler, told the DW network that people going to work is not the problem. “We don’t see so many outbreaks at workplaces or in public transportation, but it’s mostly coming together in privacy, in parties and also in services and weddings,” he said. “We shouldn’t have too many of these events.”

[…]

But for many, the sacrifices that helped during the first round seem lost now, as though they had been made in vain.

Your Maximum Leader is frequently accused of being a pessimist by Mrs. Villain. He counters that he tries to be a realist. (NB: in any context this is an argument for the ages and will never be resolved.) But your Maximum Leader has privately, and is now publicly, wondered if some mitigation is just the best we can do against this virus until there is a vaccine and approved treatment regimen. The data seems to be adding up in the direction of we can try to limit the number of Covid related deaths, but we aren’t going to stop it. Your Maximum Leader remembers back at the beginning of the Covid outbreak in the US it was quarantine to slow the spread and not overwhelm the health care system. If one carefully read the charts and listened to the experts, the number of dead were not going to change just the period over which people died would be spread out. Your Maximum Leader thinks that this is what we are in for as fall turns to winter. All the precautions and steps we may (or may not) take as a nation (or collection of states - more accurately in this situation) are likely only to change the death toll in the margins. The numbers are going to happen and there isn’t much that can be done to stop them from happening.

Carry on.

Primetime Arguments

Greetings, loyal minions.

Your Maximum Leader started on the bourbon at about 7pm last night, knowing that the Presidential “debate” started at 9pm. He’s a little embarrassed to admit it, but he was about 6 oz of 100 proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon in by 9pm.

What a shitshow. It was terrible. Absolutely terrible. It was probably the worst “debate” your Maximum Leader has seen in his lifetime. (And your Maximum Leader remembers the Carter/Reagan debates of 1980. So that is a while now…)

He turned it off after about 45 minutes. He really isn’t sure when he turned it off because time had lost all meaning after a few minutes of whatever that was on his television.

So your Maximum Leader put on this gem and cozied up to Mrs. Villain hoping it would put her in the mood.

Sadly, this didn’t do the trick… Mrs. Villain wasn’t impressed. Not even by the guy at 2:30 in the video.

Sadness.

Carry on.

More on Nile Waters

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader sees that now the situation along the Nile river is growing more tense. In a piece on Legal Insurrection, Leslie Eastman writes an interesting piece on the recent escalation of tensions between Egypt and Ethiopia over the latter’s move to start filling the reservoir behind the GERD dam. The Ethiopian Foreign Minister has apparently tweeted that the Nile belongs to Ethiopia. Egypt has not taken this statement well. There is an interesting bit in this piece about the financing of the dam by China. This dam, like so many other projects across Africa, has been financed by China to improve China’s position on the continent. It is worth your time to take a gander at this piece.

Carry on.

Water

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader fondly remembers a class he took in college. It was back in 1989. The class was called “American National Security Issues, 1989-2000.” The class was taught by LTG Samuel V. Wilson (US Army, Ret). By the way, you really ought to click on that link and read General Wilson’s Wiki page. General Wilson was one of the most interesting and thoughtful persons your Maximum Leader has ever had the pleasure of knowing. He considered himself lucky to be able to spend 90 minutes with General Wilson twice a week for a semester. Not too long ago your Maximum Leader found some class notes from this class. As he read over them, he started to remember how much he remembered. He also noted to himself just how many of the subjects that General Wilson covered in a class 31 years ago (yes THIRTY-ONE years ago) are still relevant today. One of the subjects that stuck with your Maximum Leader was water.

In the days before global warming, water was already an issue. There isn’t enough of it in many places. And as populations grow and become more wealthy they like to use more water. If this is happening where there isn’t enough water to begin with, that can be a problem. In fact, your Maximum Leader has observed for many decades now the various gulf states and how they try to deal with the question of water. It is a fascinating subject.

Water can also be a terrifying subject to think about. Take for example the Nile river. Way back in 1989 we talked about the Nile river. How it is the primary potable water source for 4 nations, chief among them Egypt. We spoke about the politics of the Aswan Dam and why the dam was so important in the first place. Well… Guess what? There is nothing new under the sun. If Egypt can dam the Nile, surely other nations can too.

And that is just what Ethiopia has done. If you missed it (and your Maximum Leader did until last year when he read a news article mentioning the dam), Ethiopia has been building a dam on the Blue Nile since 2011. Guess what else? That dam is finished. And Ethiopia is doing what is done when a dam is built. You fill a reservoir and start using the dam. Here is a piece on that: River Nile dam: Reservoir filling up, Ethiopia confirms. Here is the opening of the linked article:

A reservoir behind Ethiopia’s disputed Grand Renaissance dam on the River Nile has started filling with water - a day after talks with Egypt and Sudan ended without agreement, officials say.

Ethiopian Water Minister Seleshi Bekele confirmed the latest satellite images showing water levels rising.

Ethiopia sees the hydroelectric project as crucial for its economic growth.

But Egypt and Sudan, which are downstream, fear the large dam will greatly reduce their access to water.

Years of fraught negotiations have failed to reach a consensus on how and when to fill the reservoir, and how much water it should release.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry has previously warned that filling and operating the dam without an agreement “that protects the downstream communities… would heighten tensions and could provoke crises and conflicts that further destabilise an already troubled region”.

A conflict between Egypt and Ethiopia, which are both US allies, would put millions of civilians at risk.

Going to war over water. Could that really happen? Do nations war over water?

As a matter of fact, they very well may. From The Independent (UK): Egypt is backed into a corner over the Nile dam – it may have no choice but to go to war. In this piece the commentator, Ahmed Aboudouh, writes:

Egyptian officials accuse the Ethiopian government of following a series of diplomatic one-upmanship ploys since signing the 2015-Declaration of Principles, which indicates that all parties should reach a deal first before filling the reservoir. But Ethiopian negotiators seem to have taken stock of the diplomatic prowess North Korea showed in its contracted negotiations with the US over denuclearisation. Since Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un’s 2018 joint statement in Singapore, the North Koreans have shown prudence in running the clock on their commitments. Now negotiations are frozen, and an agreement is far from complete. By following the same playbook, dragging its feet, Ethiopia seems to have led the Egyptians into a cul-de-sac.

The deadlock means Egypt is now running out of options. During a recent meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss Ethiopia’s hydro-electric plant, Egypt’s foreign minister Sameh Shoukry stirred the pot. He described the dam as “a threat of potentially existential proportions”, and in a chest-thumping moment threatened that “Egypt will uphold and protect the vital interests of its people. Survival is not a question of choice, but an imperative of nature.” Ethiopia’s UN ambassador Taye Atske-Selassie countered, saying that for his nation accessing water resources was an “existential necessity.”

Water is not the only vital interest at stake: Egypt’s president and former general Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is fighting for his legitimacy, too. Since taking power in 2014, Sisi has advanced a populist/nationalist narrative based on cultivating too much pride in military strength and raising the people’s expectations over his ability to protect “Egypt’s national security and interests.” Sisi understands that by losing the diplomatic battle over filling up the dam, and succumbing to pressure from Ethiopia’s, he’d risk igniting popular unrest - and possibly a military coup.

Your Maximum Leader would find it amusing that another nation would take a play out of the North Korean playbook, if it weren’t so devastatingly true. Just keep talking and talking until you’ve achieved your goal is a perfectly legitimate (and effective) way of dealing with your neighbors. Then when your goal is achieved, you can stop talking.

As if 2020 hasn’t given us so much up to this point, we may have a Egypt/Ethiopia war to which to look forward to. It may be a short war. Send some fighters in, blow up the dam. Then, one hopes, they can stop shooting and go back to talking.

Carry on.

A Few Thoughts, June 23, 2020.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader will share a few disjointed thoughts with you all…

- As your Maximum Leader tweeted recently, no one will ever be woke enough. The mob will turn on you. The revolution will eat its own. No one will ever be pure enough to pass the zeal of the examiners.

- Your Maximum Leader voted (in person) today in the Democratic Primary. Seriously, he did. He voted for the least odious of the two candidates running for a chance to take on incumbent Congressman Rob Whitman. Today notwithstanding, your Maximum Leader will vote to re-elect Whitman in November. Why did he not vote in the Republican primary? Well. Honestly, he had no idea what the positions were of the three men looking for a chance to unseat incumbent Senator Mark Warner (D). Once there is a winner in that race, he’ll learn about the candidate.

- Seriously… Your Maximum Leader honestly nearly forgot there was a primary today. He didn’t do much to educate himself on the candidates. He voted in the Democratic primary mainly because he actually knew who the two candidates were and was reasonably informed on their various positions…

- Your Maximum Leader snagged some of the Makers Mark Private Select bourbon for Virginia. There are two limited release, special bourbons just for sale in Virginia. Sadly, he was only able to get his hands on one of the two types released in the Commonwealth. He has the manager of his local ABC store on the lookout for the other…

- Your Maximum Leader has mostly moved back into his study. Readers may recall that a year ago your Maximum Leader took in an exchange student. At that time your Maximum Leader’s study was converted into a bedroom. It has now been (mostly) converted back. There are some objets d’art that need to be re-hung in the room. But the bookshelves are back and mostly full. But they are completely disorganized. It will take some time to put everything back in the proper place.

- Your Maximum Leader and Villainette #2 have been watching (rewatching for him, 1st time for her) Ken Burn’s “The Civil War.” Your Maximum Leader forgets how good it is. He is pleased that Villainette #2 has now grown to dislike George B. McClellan. (As one does.)

- Finally, your Maximum Leader wonders when the current civil unrest across our Republic will start to abate. There is much to say about it. Its causes. How it has progressed. What is says about us. What is might portend for the future. But that is all for another time.

Carry on.

Qui tacet consentit.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader really does love the film “A Man for All Seasons.” He loves it for a whole bunch of reasons that are not pertinent right now. But the title of this post comes from a scene in the film where Sir (Saint) Thomas More is on trial and he schools his prosecutors that he’s not spoke out against the King’s marriage and advises them that “Silence gives consent.” Your Maximum Leader, no Latin scholar, recently learned that the full Latin saying is: “Qui tacet consentire videtur, ubi loqui debuit ac potuit.” Or, in English,: “He who is silent, when he ought to have spoken and was able to, is taken to agree.” (Thanks Wikipedia!)

Your Maximum Leader has not written specifically about what is going on in our country right now. Frankly, other than a very few people who have asked him personally about his thoughts on current events, he’s not expressed himself much on the subject. He is now reading and seeing on the news a good number of celebrities, politicians, and ordinary people making declarations that if you “aren’t speaking out, you’re part of the problem.” Since civil society is not a court of law, and we are not engaging in contracts, and your Maximum Leader is not invested with real authority over others, his silence is not meaningful one way or another in a legal sense. He is, however, a little disturbed by the subtext of “not speaking out” means that he’s “part of the problem.” Have we really gotten to the point where we have to announce our opinions on every matter that is reported on the news or in the moment seems to be of public concern? Thanks to social media do we have to disclose to everyone what we think or feel about anything at any given time? Are we supposed to volunteer our opinions in times of heated, passionate, and sometimes irrational discourse so that they can be parsed by anyone with a grievance? Perhaps we are there now. That thought is troubling in a number of ways.

So for what does your Maximum Leader’s silence imply consent? Does he consent to black Americans being killed by the police? Does he consent to peaceful protests? Does he consent to armed men killing a black jogger? Does he consent to rioting in the streets? Does he approve of the political response to all of these issues? Of course the answer is that your Maximum Leader knows his own mind on these things and anything that is construed by another is just inference.

Your Maximum Leader does have opinions on these matters. He’s actually started a post on current events. But the events have changed quickly enough that what he’s written doesn’t seem to adequately capture the spirit of what is going on at any given moment. He may choose to write more in the coming days, or he may not. (He also may have a post in him about the Villainschloss and the joys of home ownership and having a schloss full of people…)

Carry on.

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