We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Return of the Bird…

The social media link buttons to Twitter and certain IM platforms have returned. I wonder why? 😀

Shields up…

Due to the uptick in Russian Troll Factory turds inbound, things are a bit more likely to get caught by the moderation system, so try not to take it personally if your legit comments take a while to appear.

The big guy takes a big percentage

Back when Vice-President Joe Biden was in charge of US policy for the Ukraine, he weaponised his power over US aid. Later, he boasted of it.

“I said, I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars. I said, you’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch. (Laughter.) He got fired.” (text and video link)

That Ukrainian prosecutor was investigating the company Biden’s son ‘worked for’. Except that Hunter Biden couldn’t have been working for them. Never mind trivia like Hunter’s knowing nothing of Burisma’s business. As a reformed addict explained, the timeline makes it impossible Hunter’s salary could have been for any services whatever that he himself rendered.

From my own experience, there is no such thing as a functioning cocaine addict. The worse it gets, the faster it gets worse.

A few years have passed, a few things have happened, Biden is again in charge of money voted for the Ukraine – and is again weaponising it. It’s $13.6 billion now, and these days even Biden’s ‘military aid’ includes actual weapons. However Biden is including it in other things – $1.5 trillion-worth of other things.

It was must-pass legislation, needed to keep the government operating and avoid the kind of partial shutdowns that have been seen in the past. But this one was not only huge — it was different from recent spending measures. The difference was that it revived earmarks, which are spending provisions put in at the behest of individual lawmakers. In the past, earmarks created a culture of runaway pork spending, which led Republicans to push for a ban successfully in 2011. Now, they are back.

Not back, because it was never gone, is MSM misreporting of it. For once, I think the New York Times’ phrasing,

To push the package through the Senate, lawmakers had to navigate a series of objections from conservative Republicans, who complained that they had little time to examine the legislation and pushed to prioritize emergency aid to Ukraine.

…may not suit Biden, and the cabal that gave him the presidency, quite as well as the way the Washington Post’s headline,

More than two dozen Senate Republicans demand Biden do more for Ukraine after voting against $13.6 billion for Ukraine.

…reported (or, one could say, avoided reporting) that a request to separate the aid-for-Ukraine bill from the earmarks bill was strongly made and was absolutely refused.

The WaPo’s headline is not wholly without information. If two dozen voted against, that tells us some other Republican senators voted for $13.6 billion for the Ukraine – along with a mere $1.6 million to assist “equitable growth of shellfish aquaculture in Rhode Island” and $800,000 to fund “artist lofts” in Pomona CA, and … and … and … (an earmark here, a thousand earmarks there – pretty soon you’re talking about real money). Whether they did this reluctantly, because they feel the Ukraine needs whatever fraction of that $13.5 billion it will finally get, or eagerly, because they feel they themselves need whatever fraction of that $1.5 trillion they will finally get (the 4000-odd earmarks were mostly for Democrats – but not exclusively so), I leave it to any readers who know those senators to speculate.

Meanwhile, here as elsewhere, the pro-Biden narrative and the pro-Putin narrative overlap. It was a Putin shill or dupe commenting way down a thread on this very blog who first told me it was Biden’s opponents in congress who “voted against aid to Ukraine”. Did he get that line from Russia Today or from the Washington Post? Who knows!

There’s nothing special to the Ukraine in all this, of course. All his political life, Biden has been exceptionally that kind of politician who demands his percentage of every transaction. It’s only noteworthy (and, let’s face it, it’s hardly surprising) that even now the Ukraine is fighting for its life, ‘the big guy’ still does.

Brian’s Friday – Zoom

The Life of Brian: A Reception to Celebrate the Life of Brian Micklethwait event at the Institute of Economic Affairs tomorrow will be available on Zoom for anyone who cannot attend. Link here.

Server about to explode

Our server is having a near-death experience. We will vanish for a while at some point, back in a bit 🤪☠💀

The Brian Micklethwait Archive

Our very own Brian has written an awful lot over the years; his writings have influenced, encouraged and advised many of us Samizdatistas and other libertarians. When I heard that he was trying to find his old writings and get them in order, I had a think about how I could help, and so began the Brian Micklethwait Archive.

The idea is first of all to put a lot of old writing in a more convenient, easy to find, search, quote and refer-to location. Some writings exist only as PDFs which do not render well on mobile devices and do not work well with the rest of the internet. That part to do with fixing that has got started already. The next idea is to find all the places Brian has scattered his work, such as his many defunct blogs, and make sure that it stays online and is easy to navigate. Then there are other things such as podcasts to be organised and catalogued, and a database of quotes to build.

Why go to all this trouble? The writings and ideas are valuable. Brian himself has argued for the value of repetition: old audiences need reminding and new audiences need a chance to discover things for the first time. An archive does not have to be a musty museum, seldom-visited: its contents can be blogged and tweeted about and memed for eternity. And it gives me something useful to do: my creativity has not been flowing in the direction of blogging lately, so here is a way I can help the cause of liberty.

And you can help too, by commenting here or otherwise pointing me in the direction of particular bits of Brianalia that I ought to get to sooner rather than later. Or keep an eye on that site or its Twitter account and read and tell people about it.

WordPress plugins…

Which WordPress plugins are recommended for adding posts to Parler (which will be back) & Gab? I have axed the previous buttons for linking to Twitter & Facebook (basically fuck ’em).

Technical issues

We are experiencing some technical issues with the commenting system… working on it!

Update 14th August 07:30 UTC: comments are now working. Service may be spotty while we investigate the underlying issue.

How the quality of mercy is strained

Prosecutorial discretion is a power jealously protected by prosecutors, who will tell stories about forgoing prosecution of 18-year-old guys for “rape” of their 17-year-old girlfriends, of not prosecuting people for technicalities when the equities demanded they violate those technicalities. It all sounds so decent and commonsensical.

That’s how people like Epstein go forever in safety, how Clinton escaped prosecution for the same acts that put others in prison regularly, how the Jussie Smollets of the world walk away from their troubles . . .

You don’t need to be that well connected to benefit. Bobby b, commenter of this parish, worked for a time as a criminal defence lawyer in the twin cities of Minneapolis / St. Paul.

In my relatively short crimdef career, I asked prosecutors to use that kind of discretion many times. It worked for the judge’s kid, for the cop, and for two staffers of the St. Paul City Councilperson. They were the only ones deserving of the city/county attorneys’ mercy.

We’ve seen the US Department of Justice exercise a lot of ‘discretion‘ recently (and not so recently). Bobby warns us that this bit of the deep state runs a lot deeper than that.

(After ‘discretion’ finally ran out for him, I assume it was a different but liaising bit of the deep state who arranged that one fine day in the middle of the night the ‘forever’ safe Epstein suddenly expired in his ‘guarded’, ‘suicide-watched’ cell.)

Spin off site: The Great Realignment

Samizdata is a site that writes about things from a primarily libertarian perspective (which means different things to different people, of course). But the issue firmly wedged in the minds of many people here is not a libertarian/non-libertarian issue, it is political, and it has split the samizdatistas much as it has split the UK.

Brexit.

Samizdata needs to get back to writing the kind of things it has always done, and will continue to do, but that does not mean the overtly political stuff is not worth saying… just not here. Not on samizdata. After much pondering, I have decided it just isn’t what this site should be about.

And that is why we now have The Great Realignment, an overtly political site in its very early days for all the various things that do not really fit on samizdata. It is not a replacement, it is a fork in our particular road. I believe that we are now entering a period in which many of the assumptions that have underpinned the UK’s political order are no longer true, but the politics we see have not yet adjusted to this uncertain half-glimpsed future. This is what we will be discussing, with a UK focus, but we may well look at similar realignments elsewhere.

Check it out.

Site Renovation

We’re performing some long-needed maintenance on the site. If we did things right, you should not have noticed most of our work, but there will be a few user-visible changes.

First, you may have noticed that the site is much, much faster now than it was a few days ago. The (temporary) price of this has been the “Recent Comments” sidebar is now visible only on the front page. We will restore the sidebar when our new theme is complete.

Second, as implied above, we’re working on a new site theme. It should be much like the old on the surface. However, it will be much more maintainable, will feature better and more modern mobile support, and have (very) slightly updated aesthetics. It may also improve site performance even further, though things are quite snappy after our first round of changes.

Third, there has been a bit of site downtime in the last day, and will be a bit more in coming days as we complete our work. Downtime should never last more than ten to thirty minutes, so if the site is down, fret not, it will be back quickly.

Truly awful WordPress update broke many things…

Until we can figure out how to fix WordPress’ “helpful” update that over-rides CSS, Samizdata will be looking a bit weird… sorry folks.

And hey WordPress… fuck you.  Maybe time to start looking for an alternative to WordPress.