Category Archives: Off-topic

If the Shoe Fits…

The recent violence in Charlottesville unfolded while I was away from my computer, preventing me from giving detailed commentary. While the rest of the world was reacting, I had to sit on the sidelines and watch. I ended up reading this abomination of an article from Raw Story. I had to suppress my rage for days until I could get back and react to this idiotic piece, which seems to highlight everything that is wrong with America today. Let’s start with the obvious:

rawstory

Got that folks? You see an angry racist, but apparently he’s not actually an angry racist. He just went to a racist rally and displayed anger. For all we know he could be a method actor learning a role.

No wait, hold on, turns out that’s not the case:

Peter Cvjetanovic, 20, told KTVN that he traveled from Reno to Charlottesville to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

The student said that he wanted to attend the rally to support the white nationalist movement.

So he came out to support the white nationalist movement. And he was clearly angry at some point. But he’s not an angry racist. Okay.

“I came to this march for the message that white European culture has a right to be here just like every other culture,” Cvjetanovic opined.

That’s strange because General Lee has virtually nothing to do with European culture, and nobody is trying to deny European culture’s right to exist. It almost sounds like this guy is a racist, an angry one at that. But he says he’s not, so we must not trust our lying eyes. I had also expected the interviewer to maybe challenge or criticize his claims about Lee and European culture, but strangely they didn’t, because apparently Raw Story is fine with essentially publishing white nationalist propaganda. Think I’m exaggerating? Check this out:

Cvjetanovic added: “As a white nationalist, I care for all people. We all deserve a future for our children and for our culture. White nationalists aren’t all hateful; we just want to preserve what we have.”

This is one of the biggest lies of the white nationalist movement. If you go on virtually any white nationalist forum, apart from the endless debates about “who is white” you will see mostly threads trashing other races and ethnic groups. Very few white nationalists, especially those in America, display any significant understanding of European culture (many have never been to Europe). When they’re not seething with hatred against other races, they’re attacking whites, usually women, who don’t support them, as well as each other. It’s common to see white nationalists at each other’s throats, sometimes across several forums, often with mutual accusations of Jewish ancestry. If you want to see for yourself I suggest you bring popcorn.

Once again Cvjetanovic’s claim goes unchallenged by the interviewer, but that’s not the most infuriating thing about this article. For me the maddening thing is how Americans seem to believe that you can engage in a series of deliberate actions, and then, like Mr. Cvjetanovic, insist to anybody and everybody that you are not that thing you were caught on camera doing. Could you imagine someone who mainlines heroin every day telling you they’re not a drug addict? I can now, and that person would almost certainly be American, because in America apparently what you actually do doesn’t matter compared to what you think you are in your own head.

If you think this is an isolated case, think again. A while back a couple was sentenced to prison for rolling up on a birthday party for an 8-year-old black child, bearing Confederate flags, shouting racial slurs, and pointing a loaded shotgun at the attendees. Guess what they had to say for themselves when they heard the sentence read out.

The woman keeps repeating “that’s not me.” No, honey, it is you. You did that. You didn’t plead insanity, which is the only way you could possibly claim this “wasn’t you.”

Need more examples? Here’s a guy who went on a racist rant against a comedian. But wait, when we read more of the story:

Lanham told NBC 2 that he’s not a racist. He blamed his racist behavior on alcohol.

Well shit that clears it all up! He says he’s not racist! Alcohol is to blame! Well I certainly hope he’ll become a teetotaler then, seeing as how his racist rant got him fired.

Here’s yet another example of a totally not racist guy doing seemingly racist things.

Seriously, what do you have to actually do to be racist in America?

We’ve spent so much time buying into the media-driven moral panic about “safe spaces” and “political correctness” that we apparently missed the rising tide of jackasses who do things and then don’t want to be judged for their actions. No, they insist that we judge them by what they really, truly are in their heart of hearts. I’m sorry but that just isn’t going to fly. I realize that sometimes mitigating circumstances or other outside factors can cause people to act in unusual ways. I realize sometimes we don’t perceive the contradiction between our actions and our desires or perception of ourselves. The phenomenon described above, however, is simply ridiculous. You are first and foremost what you do, not what you say you are.

I wish I could think of a possible source for this phenomenon. Maybe it’s in our pop culture, where protagonists are often portrayed as having this inner, true self that other characters don’t know about initially. Maybe it’s a side-effect of liberal capitalism’s cult of the individual. This almost seems like it’s such a problem that we need to start teaching the concept of “you are what you do” in kindergarten or something. We’ve got to do something before morons like Cvjetanovic bring our society to ruin.

 

 

Words That Need to Die

In today’s fast-paced, meme-based culture, some words which may have been useful at first but which eventually become so overused to the point of abuse that they lose all descriptive value and meaning. A good example of this is the term manic pixie dream girl, which was originally used to describe a type of writing trope but eventually became tossed around so much that even the creator of the term expressed their regret for creating it.

What can we do with meaningless terms that no longer have any value? I propose they be put out of their misery. The following is a list of prime candidates for liquidation.

Social Justice Warrior (SJW)

You know there’s something wrong with a political term when you can’t find anyone who sincerely identifies themselves using that term. It tells you that you’re most likely dealing with a snarl word and not a valid term. Who tends to use the term SJW? Well anyone from neo-Nazis to Youtube gamer celebrities. In general it seems to have been made popular by various quasi-famous individuals who constantly complain that they have been silenced by these nefarious Social Justice Warriors. How do we know they are being silenced? Well because they tell us- on Twitter, on Youtube, on TV, on podcasts, at public speaking events. Totally silenced. If it weren’t for all those readily accessible venues why, we’d never hear their opinions at all.

Some might suggest that SJW never had any real meaning, that it was simply dreamed up by the aforementioned idiots so they could portray themselves as persecuted. I disagree. I think the term once had some validity, but it lost it once it became the sole property of the far right and the confused far right that likes to call itself “classically liberal.”

I was first introduced to the term via a radical leftist friend, and we took it to describe certain people we’d both encountered among various leftist discussion venues online. An SJW was basically someone whose politics revolved entirely around devising new ways to call people out for racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, etc., often by creatively interpreting something that they once wrote so as to fit the accusation. Calling someone out usually involved a post, often with screenshots (very problematic in radical activist security culture), in which the offended would declare their exasperation with the “so-called left,” often deciding that it was as bad as if not worse than the far right. Every call out post would be followed by several comments from sycophantic friends, assuring the “victim” that they were appalled and that this was “no comrade of mine!” The person who is called out is not allowed to defend themselves, lest they commit even more sins- microaggressions, “mansplaining,” etc. In short, for us, SJW described a certain type of leftist who was over-zealous in identity politics and often very weak in theory and actual activism.

Within leftist circles, SJWs can actually be a problem because besides not actually doing anything activism-wise and being huge hypocrites most of the time, they often sow distrust and dissension within political organizations. A leftist activist tarred by rumors of being misogynistic may be rejected offhand without any good reason. Some people, having been so unjustly labeled or having seen the same happen to a friend or family member might leave the movement altogether. That’s why SJW, at the time, seemed like a useful term, if only because it could distinguish between someone legitimately complaining about racism, sexism, or whatever, and those who think that doing so is the highest form of radical activism, to the point where one should actively invent behaviors to call out if no real cases present themselves. The latter is just one symptom of a larger problem within the left, which is that while the right looks for converts, the left looks for traitors.

Now if you’re not a college student and you’re not involved in leftist politics, you don’t really have much of a reason to be up in arms about SJWs. Sure, you’ll encounter them on internet comment sections, but they are far outnumbered by edgy little shits spouting racial slurs these days. Yes, I’m aware of some cases where people with this kind of mentality ruined the life of someone who probably just made a poor choice of words or in some cases, didn’t really do anything wrong at all. That said, if you’re overly upset about SJWs you might want to take a moment to determine exactly what influence these individuals have actually had on you, personally. I was actually involved in venues where these people actually existed, and I managed to get around them just by subtly avoiding them and blocking them until they were out of my life for good. Certainly not a plague taking over Western civilization.

Nowadays the term has been so bastardized by the far right that I don’t use it anymore, even when I’m referring to people who actually deserve the label. These days I just call those people morons.

Bro, Dudebro

Bro as an insult seems to have garnered mainstream popularity thanks to the myth of the “Bernie Bro” which helped deliver the White House to H.R. Pufnstuf last year. The term bro, often used by those who would rightly be labeled Social Justice Warriors according to the explanation above, is basically a liberal centrist snarl word. It is often used by American die-hard Democrats as a cudgel against the left.

Want single payer healthcare? Well there’s more than one issue, dudebro! Health care is totally a white male concern! Fifteen dollar minimum wage? Did you even consider what POCs (People of Color) want? Of course not, bro!

The implication here is that the person expressing a dissenting opinion must be a 18-25 year old insecure white male who possibly plays fast and loose with the norms of consent. It’s particularly embarrassing when the target of the label is gay, non-white, or in some cases, a woman. Whatever the case, using labels like dudebro amounts to inventing an entire negative persona for someone just because they disagree with you. You may even be right, but that doesn’t mean you need to construct a strawman of them so as to help you hate them with a clear conscience.

Dudebro is like the SJW of the left (or part of it) and it needs to be put down.

Snowflake

This one got old quickly. It started with a media-driven moral panic about how the younger generation (often they can’t even decide who is or isn’t a part of said generation) is supposedly the softest and most pathetic ever. Yes, only in recent times has anyone ever suggested that the youngest generation is softer, weaker, or dumber than previous generations. Nobody has ever raised this issue in the past, so it must be objectively true. Oh…wait.

Two key components of the snowflake trope were the safe space and the trigger warning. The media gave the public a very poor understanding of these two concepts (which are far less widespread than people realize), and based on that they declared that young people are hypersensitive weaklings who can’t handle the slightest adversity.

One reason why snowflake was bullshit from the beginning is because whenever you’re complaining about the youth, even when it’s justified, you must always ask who raised those youth. Not only raised, in fact. The question is who shaped their entire world? The answer to that question will tell you whose responsible for the state of the youth. Did you find a soccer league that actually gives out participation trophies? Is that league founded and run by the children themselves? I’m guessing no. Are grades being inflated in schools? Are the schools run by the pupils? Is it the pupils who complain about poor grades, or their parents? Put simply, the rule of thumb is- problem with the youth equals problem with the adults who shaped and controlled their entire world.

The second reason why snowflake is idiotic is because much like SJW, it came to be adopted by conservatives and far rightists, who tend to be the most sensitive people on the planet. American conservatives equate the use of “Happy Holidays” to a “War on Christmas.” They want extra tight controls on immigration because they don’t feel safe around Muslims and people who claim they aren’t Muslims but are probably lying because they look like they’re from the Middle East and everyone knows the Middle East is Muslim. And what about the far right? Well these are people who can be sent into a rage just because a TV commercial features a black male clerk helping a white female customer find the vacuum cleaner she’s looking for (“You don’t understand! It’s SUBTLE race-mixing propaganda!”). Hell, conservative media is basically one outrage after another over the stupidest, most trivial crap.

Of course for a year or so it was fun to throw the snowflake label back at those who had made it popular anytime they were complaining about some trivial thing that had offended them. I think now it has run its course, however.

Maybe instead of just throwing the snowflake label around, thus perpetuating a flawed concept, we should just put it down and acknowledge that people are going to express their dissatisfaction with things they don’t like. Sometimes those things will be trivial. Sometimes they will be objectively wrong about the topic. It doesn’t mean that person is oversensitive unless they spend virtually all their time nitpicking and screaming about every little thing that offends them.

 

 

That’s all for today. Do you have any words or phrases you think should be put down and sent to the glue factory? Leave your suggestions and explanations in the comments.

“LOL U MAD, BRO?” Troll Politics

What is the biggest political crisis of our age? Is it the rise of far-right reactionary politics, or “populism” to use the centrists’ blanket term? Is it polarization, partisanship, or tribalism? Not only could people spend hours debating that question, but they could just as easily debate whether there is a singular problem or a combination of some of the aforementioned tendencies. Whatever one thinks the answer to that question is, there’s one general tendency that seems to be on the rise and it may be more detrimental to political discourse than any rigid dogma or fanatical rhetoric.

Think back, for a moment, about all the times you’ve seen some story or tweet about some group being “triggered” by something. Most recently it was male Dr. Who fans (or people suddenly pretending to be in order to pander to an audience) who threw a fit when it was announced that the next incarnation of that sci-fi protagonist would be female. I don’t normally consume conservative media outside of Twitter, but I’m sure there are several things “libtards” or “SJWs” (Social Justice Warrior- a snarl word) are supposedly “triggered” by at the moment. Let’s break this down, shall we?

When someone is “triggered,” as they say on the internet these days, they are actually upset or otherwise expressing disapproval of something. The word triggered here makes no sense because triggered refers to a PTSD response. A person voicing disapproval, including loud and possibly hysterical disapproval, is not “triggered.” Someone who is actually triggered might not say anything at all. When someone is “triggered” on the internet, they are actually upset or angry.

It’s interesting how on the internet, being angry or upset is somehow a “loss” of sorts, and making people angry is admired and done with pride. Ordinary people don’t take pride in making people angry in real life. In real life there are consequences for that. Yet the internet gives people the ability to deliberately provoke others to anger and some people take a lot of pride in that trolling.

trolling

Of course I myself have to admit that I’m guilty of trolling, and if you’re being honest you probably did your share of trolling as well. In our weaker moments, we get amusement out of knowing we can provoke an angry response from dozens of more-or-less anonymous people, often simply by saying the exact opposite of whatever they passionately believe in. But some people recognize this for the distraction that it is, and some people confuse it for politics itself. I’m beginning to believe that the problem of 21st century politics might not be just the lack of lofty ideals and ideological discipline, but rather the degeneration of virtually all politics into what could best be called troll politics.

It’s easy to pin this mostly on the right, especially in America where it seems that your average conservative would happily castrate himself in public if you told him it would “trigger the libtards.” Indeed, it is on the far right where we see trolling and “memes” forming the basis for a political identity group, if not an ideology, loosely known as “Kekistan.”  While many people have referred to these highly defective individuals as neo-Nazis, the reality is actually far more pathetic. They use Nazi symbolism not because they actually have National Socialist beliefs and the will to express them, but rather because they get a cheap thrill out of the idea that they’re making people angry by breaking what they see as a taboo. In a way that makes them worse than actual neo-Nazis, who at least believe they are advancing some kind of ideology they feel is morally justified. They have to put up with the consequences of expressing beliefs which most of the world rightfully finds morally reprehensible. The “Kekistanis” can just tap out “LOL U TRIGGERED, SJW FAG?!!” and then it’s back to jerking off to Japanese cartoon schoolgirls.

Though troll politics are extremely widespread on the right, a good swathe of the left has been guilty of foregoing real politics for troll politics. To be sure, many leftist are just reacting to the right’s moral panic about “political correctness” when they point out how the same people who scream about young people being over-sensitive “snowflakes” will scream about businesses using the term “Happy Holidays.” At first it was novel, but after a while it gets old. We get it- the people who call everyone a special snowflake are in fact the most sensitive and the most likely to get upset about trivial matters. It’s always been this way with “political correctness.” Those who complain the most about political correctness tend to be those who whine about their beliefs being criticized and who want society to tip-toe around their feelings so as not to offend them by challenging or criticizing them in anyway.

We can see the existence of trolling politics in the international arena as well. Oftentimes on Twitter I see people cheering about how some official Ukrainian account “trolled” the Russians over some controversy such as the recent “Anna of Kyiv” reference Putin made during his meeting with Emmanuel Macron in France. Sure, Ukraine’s official Twitter “trolled” Russia, but Russia has trolled Ukraine quite a bit since 2014. So if you were keeping score, Ukraine got in one sick burn against Russia, and Russia has killed about 10,000 citizens, displaced a couple million more, and annexed a large part of Ukrainian territory. It pains me to admit it, but I think Russia came out on top in this little trolling engagement.

The Ukrainian example demonstrates one major shortcoming of troll politics- they’re completely worthless if your opponent has a concrete advantage over you or is simply beating you. A similar case can be made about American liberal comedians and their so-called “eviscerations” of President Trump and the GOP. No matter how biting their tweet or rant might be, at the end of the day Trump is still president and the GOP wields enormous power in the US, not only at the federal level but in many states as well. You can make them mad- they can screw up your country. It’s no contest.

While people might call troll politics a symptom of polarization or otherwise trivialize it, I think if this trend continues unabated it might end up reaching the level of an existential crisis. Advocating things because you think they will get a rise out of your opponents is not a good methodology for finding good policies. On the contrary, it’s likely to lead to the absolute worst, and quickly too. Already there are people who gush with glee about the idea of eliminating environmental regulations, all because they think it will make some caricature of a hippie angry, we’re talking about a very dangerous line of thought.

 

Get a JERB!!!

I was asked to write something on this topic by a friend of mine who has been in the same boat for much longer than me. Basically it began when she retweeted my appeal for donations yesterday. A particularly self-righteous dipshit of a Western cheerleader decided to give her unsolicited opinion on the concept of a blogger asking for donations. My friend shut her down and then wrote a timely rant on the subject, because as I said she’s in the same boat and she felt it needed to be called out. She also said I shouldn’t remain silent about it either.

First of all I must say that I have received some substantial donations from some long-time readers and I seriously appreciate it. I’ve had problems with crowdfunding in the past, largely because I’m limited to a platform people apparently hate (at least some people have told me this), and because my life situation is constantly changing. As I’ve written before, what seems feasible at the beginning of a campaign usually turns out impossible by the time it’s over, especially since the goal has never been reached (last time I reached only 50%). These failures are entirely my own responsibility. I know why they failed and I know what I can do to turn things around, but that’s another story.

Getting back to the topic at had, the Russia-watcher in question put forth two very cogent arguments:

  1. I should get a job.
  2. Nobody should expect to get paid to write a blog.

Let me answer those here. For the first question, I’ve been in Ukraine trying to get a job I had lined up. I left a full-time position for this job which entailed a significant pay cut. For me, money was not the issue- helping Ukraine was, and I have very limited resources with which to make a difference. By contrast the cheerleader in question’s method of helping Ukraine, as much as I can see, consists of tapping away at a keyboard from the comfort of their home somewhere in the West (I’m told the UK). I took a big risk, it didn’t pan out through no fault of my own and in spite of my best efforts- that’s it.

Next, “get a job” doesn’t work so well in countries where you are not a legal resident, be that Russia or Ukraine. You can’t just walk into a McDonald’s and fill out an application. “Pounding the pavement” isn’t an option. It’s amazing how many Westerners simply do not understand this concept. They apparently think only their countries are allowed to have immigration and labor laws. I have had offers for full-time jobs which would have taken care of the work permit issues, but I could not take advantage of them because I was being strung along by my other prospective employer.

In spite of all this, I have been working all this time. I’ve pointed out before that when there’s a long lapse in posts on this blog it’s typically for one reason- I’m working. If I’m not writing here, I’m writing articles for money, doing translations, proofreading, or something else. That work is never stable, but at times it was fairly sustainable. In order to make ends meet here I actually not only went back to teaching English, but I actually taught kids because it was the only thing offered at the time. I have not willingly taught anyone under the age of 16 since maybe 2008, and the last time I was teaching kids I was getting paid about $100 an hour for doing so. So yeah, spending the first half of my Saturdays as a baby-sitter for about three hours wasn’t beneath my dignity- it is an honor to suffer for Ukraine! 

Now before moving on from the personal side of this post let me address the equally idiotic second argument. I never expected this blog to make money. I never even expected to write it on a regular basis. It started as a cathartic thing that had nothing to do with politics. While it has had its share of high-traffic days, the blog has never garnered enough regular views to qualify for ad sharing, and thus has never directly made any money. Directly is the key word here. My writing is what has allowed me to get paid for numerous articles in various publications. It has got me full-time positions, TV appearances, and even a part in a reality TV series. More important than money, it has given me access to people I’d otherwise never meet and allowed me to experience things most Americans never experience. So in reality, this humble blog has paid off a lot more than I ever expected it would in 2013. Having provided thousands of people with free entertainment and education here and on Twitter for years, there’s nothing wrong with putting out a tip jar.  The fact is that if I had a sustainable income or a sizable amount of money for investment, I would be able to greatly increase the quality and quantity of content I produce. And that brings me to the main point of this post, what my supportive friend was so upset about.

The problem is that since 2014, I’ve mostly been subsumed in the so-called “gig economy.” Our wise innovators in Silicon Valley as well as the hacks in the media tell us that it’s wonderful. “Work from the comfort of your own home!” Well I’m here to tell you that’s nonsense. Anything that pays decent money, or even just significant money, requires a lot of time, or in some cases there are expenses to be paid. The highest I’m typically paid for articles is $150. If you want more than that, you need to spend some money. Those articles I did from the Donbas? I probably lost money the first time and maybe made about $150 “profit” on the latter ones- the ones where I was in an active warzone. I know people who have had full time positions and spent far more time on the front lines than myself yet their salaries would put them below the poverty line in their home countries.

If you want to talk about a sense of entitlement, talk about media companies these days. They want journalists to put their lives in danger, but they don’t want to pay for it. Indeed, some publications pay a lot for an article, but rest assured there are expenses associated with such pieces. It’s not the kind of thing you do sitting at home writing emails or on the phone. Here it also bears mentioning the all too common “write for exposure” problem as well, even though I’ve been lucky enough not to encounter it myself.

Aside from low pay and sporadic work, just getting in touch with editors is a pain in the ass. People don’t answer emails, or answer them weeks after the fact. Here we have this amazing tool to get in touch with people almost instantly around the world, and now we have smartphones so you can maintain access even outside of the office, yet many people whose job is to communicate with journalists seem to be unable to answer emails within a reasonable amount of time, if at all.

Another problem that is somewhat connected with the above is late and or sporadic payment. In this business you often have to chase down payment, and you always are made to feel like you’re bothering someone for asking about the money they owe you for work performed. Even when they’re not late, your pay cannot be reliably calculated when you don’t know if a pitch will be accepted, when it will be accepted, when it will be ready for editing, publishing, etc. I’ve seen the process for one article last about a month before it actually got published and I got paid. Any site that claims writing for them can provide a stable income is most likely lying.

This is what many of the people who inform you are doing- spending their own money and sometimes risking their own lives to bring you something more in-depth than what you’re going to get on cable news. You say the headlines don’t give you a good well-rounded story about Russia, Syria, or Ukraine? Well the people that are willing to provide that need to be paid for their trouble. That’s just the way it is.

Getting back to my situation, the truth is that back in 2013 when things first started to go awry work-wise, there was actually a very simple solution to all my financial/work problems. In other words, I could have just “got a job” and not even written a blog at all. See I had and still have connections in this really big media company you might have heard of called RT. It wouldn’t have been very difficult at all to get a full time position there, and from what I know the salary and benefits are quite good. I’ve also had other offers from other Russian state media outlets over the years. So in reference to my aforementioned detractor’s unhelpful suggestion to “just get a job,” I could have just got a job with one of those media outlets. It would have made life from 2014 to the present a whole lot easier on every level. But alas, there’s just this thing I’ve been saddled with all my life called a conscience. It’s the reason I haven’t solved my financial problems to date by becoming a self-help guru or religious cult leader.

On the other side of the coin I could easily buy a fake diploma, a decent suit, and peddle my skills as a “Russia foreign policy” expert. I’m sure plenty of think tanks, politicians, and other thought-leaders would pay decent money for lectures about how “Russia’s going to hack the midterms, like, really badly this time!” Maybe I could teach corporate and private clients how to “safeguard your data against Russian hackers,” or teach people how to evade and thwart “SVR active measures.” I know the jargon, I know how to sound credible, it’s just that I value not being a grifter asshole than the amount of money that such “work” might rake in.

So yeah, life’s just a little more complicated than “get a job.” We’re living in an era when jobs are increasingly disappearing or getting worse. The most advanced countries seem to be suffering the worst from this trend.

When I put out the call for donations yesterday, it isn’t in the expectation of a reward for writing blog posts. I have the opportunity to do some volunteer work in Ukraine, but that means foregoing paid work. I also am considering doing other stories from other regions, or changing the focus of my work. Beyond that I’ve lost a good chunk of my savings while being strung along here in Ukraine. If someone who has enjoyed or been informed by my work after all these years thinks any of that is worth a few bucks, they’re free to donate. Otherwise no one’s arm is being twisted here. Your donation either helps produce more content of some kind, or it helps me help someone in Ukraine, modestly though it may be (apparently only the rich should have the privilege of volunteering).

The fact that people get so outraged at such appeals is a combination of the resentment culture in the West as well as people’s misconceptions about entitlement. We ignore when investors or businessmen feel entitled to hundreds of millions of dollars without actually doing any of the work that generates that value. We don’t question the entitlement of pundits who never actually engage in journalism and yet are given a platform to pontificate on every issue under the sun as though they were experts. But someone who puts out free content 90% of the time is suddenly a beggar and “entitled” for putting out the equivalent of a tip jar.

 

The Pinnacle of Manliness

I originally was going to write this as a sort of palate cleanser before returning to the usual topic of Russia’s wacky adventures in fantasy land, but to be honest I’m thinking I’d rather be writing stuff like this than covering Russia and Ukraine. I’ll address why in a later post, rest assured, but for now let’s just say that it is repetitive, boring,and depressing. So with that in mind, here’s something completely different.

As we are constantly told by the media and totally well-adjusted adult Youtube personalities, there’s a “masculinity crisis” in America, or the West in general. The alt-right, “Men’s Rights” movement, and the general “anti-feminist” community we see on the internet all seem to think so. PUAs (Pick Up Artists), Red Pillers (dumb fucks), MGTOW (You don’t even want to know)- all of these masses of mostly millennial males are struggling with this crisis of masculinity. Some in rather bizarre ways, such as the so-called “Proud Boys” which have a rule against masturbation. Hilariously, or perhaps tragically, all these defenders of traditional masculinity seek to end that “crisis” by demanding more of the same thing that caused it in the first place, but that’s a subject for a very long post if not a book.

Recently I heard a rather hilarious reading of a conservative’s column about this subject courtesy of the Chapo Trap House, and it made me recall a similar article I’d riffed on years before I even started blogging. It also brought back some memories of other things I’d read and I began to notice a curious, if not ridiculous theme in this genre of writing. If I could put this theme into words, I’d call it “bullshit masculinity,” and I would define it as people lamenting the “loss of traditional masculinity” and then presenting personal examples that set the bar ridiculously low.

To demonstrate what I mean I’ll start with the example of that article I riffed on years ago. Unfortunately I couldn’t find my original note and don’t remember the author’s name, but it was about why soccer is somehow destroying America. In case anyone is already wondering, yes, he basically steals jokes from that episode of King of the Hill about American football versus soccer. The only difference is that the TV show was being somewhat ironic and the jokes were actually funny. But conservatives do seem to have trouble mixing up fiction and real life, after all.

So the author’s gist is how soccer is all about not playing to win, participation trophies, standard millennial hate before it was mainstream. He’s obviously going to compare it to a more wholesome, American sport, and for added surprise, it just happens to be one that he played in high school!

If you’re guessing he played American football you’d be wrong. Boxing? Not even close. Basketball? Nope.

Baseball. He played baseball.

Yes, that sport where players spend long periods of time just standing around or sitting in a dugout.

In a pathetic attempt to make his readers think baseball is hardcore, he talks about how the opposing teams infielders would be screaming “Ey batter batter!” like…get ready for this awesome metaphor…”Buddhist monks on steroids.” And he warns you that if you weren’t careful, the pitcher might just brush you with a fastball to remind you that you’re not playing a kids game. This is a game of true men. A game of sweat glistening off the iron biceps of men who can admire that in a totally heterosexual way, whether on the field or in the locker room, away from prying eyes of those ever-nagging women.

Moving on to the article read by the Chapo crew, this particular author laments that based on one study, male grip strength is significantly weaker among millennial males. By extension we’re supposed to believe that millennial males are weaker than previous generations, including those generations’ females.

So now you’re ready to here his personal anecdotes about all the manly things he did back in his proper childhood, right? Well get ready for a letdown. Apparently his examples consisted of helping his dad change the oil on their car and carrying firewood around. And I was really hoping for tales about underground vale tudo matches in the favelas of Rio.

Aggiunta olio motore

CAN YOU DO THIS, YOU MILLENNIAL BETA SJW CUCKS?!! CAN YOU?!

Are you starting to see a pattern here? Guy makes a career off of complaining about the decline of traditional masculinity, and then tries to make the rather mundane tasks he did seem like the equivalent of storming the beach at Normandy or being an MMA fighter. Sure there are people who pull this shtick who have done some objectively hardcore shit in their lives. Chris Sajnog shoehorns laments about gender and masculinity into a book he wrote about how to shoot better, but in Chris’ defense, he’s an actual retired Navy SEAL. He’s not some guy writing, “Man these so-called young men today are all a bunch of pussies! If only they knew the kind of shit I saw when I worked the grill at McDonald’s during the lunch rush!”

I’ve even seen this kind of thing pop up when reading articles by expats extolling the virtue of Russian or Ukrainian women. According to them, these women appreciate traditional masculinity, and make you feel like a real man! And how do they do this, you ask? By letting you buy them stuff for no reason. Yes, you’re supposed to feel like a real man by holding the doors for a woman you know nothing about, and then paying for her dinner, movie ticket, or whatever. That’s what passes for “chivalry” these days. You know back in the day you had to hold your vanquished enemies for ransom, among many other duties, to be considered chivalrous. Nowadays guys who can’t even ride a damned horse say they have chivalry because they bought some woman named Olga an overpriced meal. If only Godfrey of Bouillon could have a word with them.

The last breed of these morons consists of those who exalt things like the military and combat experience yet never served. I remember one piece by one of these “manosphere” dorks that was all about how the lack of major wars is somehow leading to a decline in masculinity. I just had to skim a few paragraphs before I had the guy pegged. I sent him an email telling him I was a journalist who’d worked in a warzone and I was interested in his experiences of combat. He replied quite promptly- never served in the military. I guess he doesn’t need all that character building; he’s already a real man because he writes about it.

Look, defenders of “traditional masculinity,” I ask you kindly- if you want to write an article lamenting the supposed decline of manliness, don’t try to pass off your mundane sports, household chores, or automotive maintenance skills as hardcore pillars of the masculine ideal. If you’re ashamed because you never boxed or worked as a lumberjack or whatever you see as being more objectively masculine, feel free to express your regrets about that. Or maybe just shut the fuck up and join a gym or better yet, join the military so you can see how glorious war really is. When you pull this bait-and-switch nonsense, inflating common tasks as though they were rites of passage for Viking warriors, you’re just screwing with your readers and wasting their time. Not to mention the fact that I haven’t done any Brazilian jiu-jitsu training (or any other martial arts training) since 2014 and yet I’m confident I could easily choke out almost each and every one of these Youtube stars who make hours upon hours of pedantic ranting videos blathering about how weak and “beta” males are these days.

So in conclusion let me just say this in short, staccato sentences to make things perfectly clear. Concepts about what is masculine have varied throughout time and by culture. Traditional masculinity is rooted in patriarchy. Patriarchy privileges males but at a high cost. Many of these whiners want those privileges without the responsibilities and negatives. Moreover, the generation before you had it tougher. Their parents had it even worse. No matter what sports you play or what you’ve done, take a look at how Roman soldiers or Mongol warriors lived sometime. Nothing you do will ever make you more “hardcore” than that. Rejoice that you live in a world where you don’t have to live that way.

Hanlon’s Razor

So let’s see- we’ve already had a minor constitutional crisis, a resignation, the appointment of an utterly incompetent person as Secretary of Education, talk of impeachment, a fresh scandal about the president’s ties to the Kremlin…and we’re not even a month in. I’m sure I’ve even missed a few things as well. Who could have possibly predicted that electing a man with zero political experience or knowledge, a man with an obvious personality disorder of some sort, could turn out for the worst?

Since Flynn’s resignation the Russia connection has suddenly been pushed back to the fore once again. At this point it’s not clear whether there will be some sort of investigation, but since Russia’s in the news again, I think it’s important to recap a few points about what those connections mean. In other words…Let’s start with some game theory. 

Seriously though, if you’re reading #theResistance and tracing the red lines that supposedly reveal the complex web of connections between Trump, Putin, and Russian intelligence agencies, do yourself a favor- stop, now. There are some key points you need to understand and they don’t require any Glenn Beck-style charts or diagrams.

First there’s the issue of “kompromat” and potential blackmail against Trump. Supposedly the bombshell is that the Russians might have a video of Trump getting golden showers from prostitutes while at the Ritz-Carlton in Moscow. The Resistance (probably the most laughably pathetic resistance movements in the history of insurgency) believes that Trump was at some time made aware of this tape, and thus he’s beholden to Vladimir Putin to keep it a secret.

Now before I burst this particular bubble I just want to make something perfectly clear. Do I believe that Trump paid prostitutes to piss on him? Yes. That is totally plausible. Has he done it in his past? I’ve heard that he has. Will the presidency change him or will he continue to enjoy such activities in the future? For all I know, he could be getting a golden shower from a high-class DC escort as I write these words. Yes, I think it’s totally plausible that Trump is into piss, big time. Now do I believe he was recorded during such activities during that particular stay in Moscow in 2013? That I cannot say. Without better evidence we cannot know if that particular pissing incident actually happened, and thus we must default to the negative until we have something concrete. All we know at the moment is that the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, in all likelihood probably loves getting pissed on. If anything it would explain the color of his face.

Obviously I’m engaging in a little hyperbole there, but let’s deflate this myth of kompromat once and for all. First of all, yes, it’s quite safe to assume that Moscow’s luxury hotels are all wired for surveillance. However, the alleged incident took place in 2013, long before Trump announced his candidacy for the 2016 election. To Moscow, he would be nothing but a prominent American businessman, one who had thus far struggled to get any major projects off the ground in Russia. If the Russians wanted something out of such a man they could have just opened more doors to his business ventures in Moscow- no need for blackmail.

More importantly, there are several more fundamental problems with the kompromat theory, one of which is the question of whether such a video’s release could really embarrass Trump, a man who clearly has no shame. For some weeks now I’ve been able to imagine Trump’s potential explanation. One version has him saying something like:

“Look, folks- I tell it like it is. When you’re a successful businessman, you enjoy the finer things in life. You work hard you play hard, you know? So when I go to Moscow and I’m rubbing elbows with other successful businessmen and some of them tell me these lovely ladies want to meet me, what am I supposed to say? No? Listen, I make deals, it’s what I do. I’m not going to say no and insult them. And let me tell you, in my lifestyle there’s no way you could know that these women were prostitutes. I’ve got women throwing themselves at me all the time. You buy them some drinks, take them for a ride in your limo. It’s not like they say they’re prostitutes and then read you out some kind of price list. When you’re rich and successful they just do whatever you ask. I admit that some things in that video aren’t so politically correct, but when you’re a star you have a totally different life…”

Of course there’s another equally plausible variant Trump might go with- “It wasn’t me.”

 

More accurately, Trump will just call any US media coverage of the tape “fake news,” and his dimwitted followers will repeat it ad infinitum. I’m sure we’ll hear all about how George Soros paid the world’s best special effects experts to fabricate the offending video.

Let’s say you don’t buy my shameless Trump theory. Very well, let’s focus on Putin then. The idea is that Putin can have Trump wrapped around his finger by reminding the Donald about the tape. Can Putin actually make good on that threat? I believe that he can’t. Think about it- Putin releasing the tape proves to the world that the Russian intelligence services are engaging in not only blackmail, but also using blackmail as a means of interfering in the affairs of other sovereign nations. Naturally Russia will deny it, but all across the world even Kremlin-sympathetic politicians will be confronted with undeniable proof that Putin and his cronies are malicious. If anything, it is those politicians who have been most friendly to Putin who have the most to fear. Have they gone on press junkets or other visits to Moscow? Could their rooms have been bugged? What could their Russian “allies” have done to ensure their loyalty? If Putin reveals a tape- he only makes his enemies more resolute and his allies scared. All these politicians will begin to take actions against Russia not because they believe in human rights or even because they love their own countries, but simply to save their own asses. Whatever the motives, Putin loses. So much for the tape then.

Now in the wake of all this controversy, Trump has suddenly decided to talk tough on Russia. The final cucking of the Kremlin (or more accurately those who watch and believe their state-run media) came when the administration announced that sanctions against Russia would remain until Crimea is returned. What then, do we make of this?

Well first of all, I don’t trust Trump any further than I can throw him, and I’m a guy who’s trained in judo. I believe that Trump is saying this to deflect from all the Russia-related controversy he’s generated these past few weeks. He gets attacked so he points to the Obama administration and complains about them. He still hasn’t made any significant criticism of Putin or his actions. Everything is always something else’s fault when you’re in the party of personal responsibility.

That being said, for the time being Ukraine can at least stop worrying about a “grand bargain” that sells them out to Russia. This isn’t much relief, however, because Trump still enables Russia to get away with a lot, but for other reasons.

Hanlon’s Razor states: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” For the Kremlin, Trump’s value isn’t in that he is their agent or at least sympathetic toward Putin; it’s in his belligerence and incompetence.

Long ago I pointed out that if the Kremlin appeared to be supporting Trump, it was only in order to troll Hillary (who they believed would win the election), or because they saw Trump as a highly polarizing, incompetent figure who would tie the US down with so many domestic scandals that it wouldn’t be able to adequately respond to any of Russia’s actions. Indeed, while Russian state media praised Trump to the heavens, the attitudes of Russia’s leadership had always been more cautious, especially as the inauguration approached. The recent statements on sanctions probably confirmed what they already feared about Trump, that he’d maintain the status quo, but at the same time Trump has caused such an uproar over his executive orders and tweets that it’s unlikely a significant portion of the already battered American people will support a tougher line on Russia and strengthened ties to Europe.

Serious analysis says that the Kremlin would have preferred a weakened but predictable Hillary to an unpredictable Trump, but they still “win” because Trump’s scandals make Americans focus inwards. What is more, Trump’s policies will continue the neo-liberal rot that Russia has counted on for nearly two decades now. The free-market dogma destroys societies, spreads cynicism, and thus creates an audience for Russian state propaganda like RT and Sputnik. And at the very least, Trump’s antics allow Russia’s TV propagandists to tell viewers: “You think America is so great? Look how they’re run by a complete buffoon! That’s what their so-called democracy gets you!” Even if he’s impeached the Kremlin media will find a way to spin it so it fits their general narrative- “democracy is a sham!”

 

 

Dealing With a Trump Presidency

As scientists of many stripes have pointed out, it’s best not to rely on gut instincts. Our brains are wired a certain way thanks to evolutionary processes, thus, while our instincts were good for avoiding dangerous animals and eating poisonous plants, they are often ill-suited to understanding our modern world. That is why I’m not terribly upset that I trusted polls and logical explanations from people with established credentials when they predicted Hillary would win the election. My instincts told me Hillary would lose, and Michael Moore made a compelling argument as to why she would lose, but what would have sounded better- I trusted data and experts and they were wrong, or I trusted a hunch and Michael Moore and was wrong?

Of course I wasn’t alone in being wrong about the results of this election- it certainly turned out to be an upset. But I have to say it doesn’t impact me the same way. That’s the beauty of subscribing to a political philosophy that essentially wants to see the destruction of the entire existing world order (to replace it with something better; I’m not the Joker). A Hillary administration would have just meant more of the status quo. The dark reactionary side of America would continue to fester and grow and they’d get another shot at the White House in four years. If they didn’t win yesterday, they probably would have won then. And while I realize that this is going to impact certain groups of Americans far more than it would myself, even if I were living there, the simple fact is what’s done is done, and it’s time to start thinking about how to react. Without having much to go on now, here are a few observations.

In Defense of Putin

Already the Anne Applebaum-types are screaming about how this is a victory for Vladimir Putin. Do you know what happens when a Western liberal pundit does that? A Russian media source picks up on it and then they publicize it in Russia- “Look! The liberals are in hysterics! Putin does it again! We’re a great power!”  In short, when you do this, you are essentially indirectly creating Kremlin propaganda.

What is more, perhaps if the Hillary campaign and their partisan pundits had learned to shut the fuck up about Putin a few months ago they might have won this election. Trump, for all his terrible non-solutions, focused on domestic issues. Americans don’t give a crap about Putin or Russia. Droning on about how Russia is now a threat and Trump is a Russian agent makes most Americans think “Huh? What? Why are they talking about the Russians?” 

The thing about the Putin issue was that it was something like a sliding scale. There was a right way to talk about it and a wrong way. There were also limits to how much one should have talked about it. The Democratic Party went way into the red on both counts. Look what happened.

To all those lamenting the collapse of your precious liberal order and laying it at Vladimir Putin’s tiny feet, please shut up. Your liberal order collapsed because it was a rotten structure. Putin, and a whole host of other dictators and corrupt figures are by-products of your system.

You didn’t lose because of Putin, trolls in St. Petersburg, Sputnik or RT. You lost because you are defending a bankrupt system that needed change, and because you barred the way to positive change, you opened the door to reaction. This is a result of your Munich betrayal. Own it.

Taking Stock

After 2012 it was said that the GOP needed to do some serious soul-searching. While the GOP establishment might have been displaced in this campaign, it’s clear that the Democrats are the ones who ought to start asking question. Now would be a good time to start re-thinking the strategy of abandoning the white working class and rural whites which began in the 90’s, ironically under a Clinton administration.

What I really love now is that us radicals, including the Bernie supporters who constantly suffered condescending lectures from “reasonable” people with fancy degrees, now get to dictate terms to the Democratic party. Anyone would be stupid not to. These dipshits insisted that both Trump and Sanders were unelectable. Yeah, that turned out pretty well, didn’t it? Those polls that showed Bernie crushing Trump? They’re looking a lot better than expert projections just a few days ago. The Republicans ran an anti-establishment candidate against an unlikable, entitled candidate who shamelessly promotes the status quo. That means no more lectures from DNC people or their pundits. You keep your mouths shut, listen, and take notes.

Sowing and Reaping

Since the days of the Tea Party I’ve had a growing feeling that one problem with American right-wing populism is that these people never get what they are demanding. They want “small government” and “fiscal responsibility,” but they still end up with Medicare, the Affordable Care Act, farm subsidies, federal contracts, federal emergency relief, and massive military spending.

Trump won the primaries because in the past, the aforementioned people didn’t get what they wanted from their own candidates either. They listened to enraged carnival barkers but got mild, moderate conservatives peddling the same tired old rhetoric. Now they got what they wanted.

Personally I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump not only totally jettisons all his supposed “policies,” but actively denies he ever made them. I think that’s just fine. Let his supporters chew on that, since many of them won’t be able to afford as much food anyway. But even if he does attempt to follow through on some of his promises, the economic fallout would probably be even more devastating. Either way, his supporters lose.

Perhaps it sounds cruel, but sometimes these people need to learn the hard way. It certainly worked for me. What can you do when you tell a child the stove is hot dozens of times and they keep reaching for that red, glowing burner? Stop badgering people and let them have a life-enriching experience.

Some people will learn from this and be receptive to better ideas, others won’t do quite so well. Welcome those who repent with open arms.

Para Bellum

I’ll come right out and say it- America’s left is weak. It’s divided and dominated by idiotic identity politics theories cooked up in academia with very little application in the real world. While these theories aren’t entirely useless, yesterday showed us how truly incapable they are of transforming America for the better. Results are all that matters, and Trumpism got results.

Now the left has a golden opportunity before it. It can go on an all-out attack and the Democrats can’t say shit about it. If they say something is too radical, remind them of 8 November 2016. Lead, follow, or get out of the way.

At the same time, much of the American left needs to toughen up. I don’t want to sound like one of those millennial-bashing clickbait columnists, but yes, I’m sorry- the American left is too weak. I don’t mean weak in terms of numbers, but rather mentally, emotionally, and physically weak. There are simply too many leftists, even in radical circles, who fit the 4chan stereotype about “Social Justice Warriors.” I can tell you from experience that right-wing thugs and militia types aren’t going to give you any trigger warnings beyond the sound of a safety coming off.

If you just read that and you’re thinking: “OMG! Here he goes with cis-hetero-normative toxic masculinity crap!” you are part of the problem. This isn’t about masculinity. A Ukrainian woman, Ludmila Pavlichenko, killed roughly 309 men with a sniper rifle. I don’t care about your sexuality or your gender identity- you may very well need courage, discipline, mental fortitude, and emotional control to survive. Most fascists are basically bullies who prefer easy targets. Knowing that there’s a large, militant leftist movement that is also armed and trained will keep these people in check. The standard liberal toolbox surely didn’t. What you learned in college doesn’t work. Your intersectionality, call-out culture, and “solidarity” didn’t do shit.

On that note, it’s really time to start re-engaging rural and working class whites. Contrary to what the liberal elite will claim for the next few years, Trump’s victory wasn’t their fault. But he couldn’t have won without their support. Writing them off as racist and backward doesn’t help. You have to get to the root of that racism. Yes, you have to listen to them. No, you don’t have to accept everything or in some cases anything they say as true or correct, but a dialog needs to take place. For more on why this is the case, I suggest listening to David Wong on this Cracked podcast.

The bottom line is you can’t claim you’re for an inclusive equal society while writing off such a massive demographic.

Conclusion

The way I see it, you can either whine about this election or go out and do something about it. It’s no loss for me- I hated Hillary and this election has proven that instinct to be absolutely correct. Part of me is glad I won’t have to feel any responsibility for whatever bullshit she might have got up to had she won.

I’ve resigned myself to 2016 being utter shit worldwide. Bring on 2017.