Category Archives: Off-topic

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.

 

 

 

 

 

The End of the Beginning

What seems like one of the worst elections in American history (yes, even worse than that one) is finally coming to an end. In case you’re wondering, I don’t intend to stay up through the night to see the results. I’m going to act like it’s Christmas and I’m waking up to presents under the tree. Of course there’s a slim chance those presents might turn out to be rotting animal corpses, but either way I prefer a surprise.

As some readers might have imagined, yes, I held my nose and voted for the status quo candidate- Hillary. Had anyone but Trump been her opponent, I wouldn’t have bothered voting at all. If it had been Rubio or Cruz running against her, my state probably wouldn’t be anywhere near a toss-up anyway.

I know that many of my radical leftist readers have probably had to swallow the bitter medicine as well. It’s not pleasant being mistaken for a Hillary supporter. But to those of you who made the adult choice this election in spite of all your qualms, take consolation in the fact that you can do something I can’t do after Tuesday.

You can get to know your congressmen at the state and federal level. You can organize groups to advocate for the issues that matter to you. You can volunteer, or even consider running for office yourself. If you were disappointed that Bernie didn’t win the primaries, you can spend the next four years advocating for those policies you believe in, instead of imagining that some presidential candidate will appear one election and make everything alright.

As a certain Cracked.com article I read today remarked, voting is the least you can do to participate in democracy. And while there are certain structures in place which make politics less accessible for the majority of people, you in America have far more opportunities to make a difference than most of the world’s population. Sure, when we think of the so-called 1% dominating politics, this is a feature of the system. But that’s only part of the explanation. Look at voter turnout alone, especially in midterm elections. As powerful as lobby groups are, there aren’t really that many other groups actively competing for politicians’ attention. They may have more resources, but why let them win unopposed?

Don’t take this as my “get out the vote” rant. This is my “get out and do something after 8 November” rant. Do it because you can. There’s not too much I can do from here; I may not be in Russia much longer but I have no idea when I’ll return to the States. I regret that I didn’t realize what I could do many years ago. Radical solutions seemed so much more appealing, and yet those who insisted they were the only way didn’t really do anything radical at all. In fact, they were less politically active than the “mainstream normies” or whatever you want to call them.

Tuesday is not the end. It is the beginning of a new struggle. Remember, in defeat the dark forces Trump’s movement has conjured up will not simply vanish back to their anime porn image boards. Sure, many of them will, but others will be organizing, plotting for the next run in four years. What are you going to be doing during that time?

 

 

Book Cover Bonanza Part I

A while back I presented readers with a collection of awesome cover art for Russian alternate history/sci-fi novels. Today, that trend continues. Lucky you.

UPDATE: Many of these covers were originally collected on the VK page Ебанутые обложки русской фантастики (Fucked-up covers of Russian Fantasy), so now you know where to go for more. And yes, new covers are added frequently.

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Comrade Stalin’s Star Wars. Kind of self explanatory really. Much like Vader, Stalin also takes a hands on approach to fighting battles in space.

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This is the perfect alt-hist/popadanets cover. Whereas normal alternate history asks something like, “What if Hitler had nukes, thus complicating the war for the Allies,” these authors seem to prefer totally stacking the deck in Russia’s favor. In this case, it looks like the Battle of Poltava is about to be won in six minutes but a guy with a mini-gun.

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If you think there’s not going to be any shapeshifter sex in this novel, you are wrong. Period.

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Again, it’s not enough to simply win a war (in this case the war against Sweden). No, you must go back in time with modern-day spetsnaz and make the war a complete blowout. Interesting choice of a lever-action carbine, by the way. Still horrendously unfair.

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Ladies and gentlemen- the worst bodyguard in history. I gather from the cover that poor Nikolai I was poisoned, but you still think his bodyguard there could try doing something other than posing as Daniel Craig at the end of Casino Royale.

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Do you have a friend that complains about the lack of popular literature depicting Hitler as an action hero? Well now you know what to get them this holiday season!

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Your guess is as good as mine.

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Every year a certain amount of vatnik fap-fantasy novels must be published. In this one the heroes manage to capture Washington DC in spite of the fact that it is apparently defended by flying astronauts armed with Carl Gustav anti-tank weapons. I’ve been saying for years we should have shut that program down a long time ago, but you know what its defenders say every time- “It creates jobs!” Go to hell.

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The English title for this novel is Fuck History! 

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For starters, I’m not sure you can stand where he is. And secondly, the Statue of Liberty isn’t a particularly strategic location.

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Bolshevik Graham Phillips and Tsarist John Cena reconcile their political differences in this playful romp.

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Your move, Tolkien!

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Because of course your have to have some anti-Ukrainian fantasy to fap to. This tall tale is called Banderite Genocide. It certainly doesn’t help when the only Banderite we see is about to be shot at point blank range.

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I love the Kalashnikov but I thought the whole point of fantasy is to feature weapons and artifacts that we can’t have in real life. I’m not sure how well 7.62×39 penetrates dragon scales.

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Armed only with a cat and a pack of papirosy cigarettes, Oleg must save Stalin from an evil turncoat NKVD agent! Just kidding. Oleg took DMT. He’ll be fine in a few minutes.

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This novel answers the question: “What if douchebag PR spokespeople existed in medieval Russia?”

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Jason Statham is…Nicky II!

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Yup, totally fair. Britain had it coming for using rifled muskets during the Crimean War.

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I don’t know what’s supposed to happen in this novel, but I’m guessing it’s illegal in Russia.

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Machine gunning the Teutonic Knights isn’t devastating enough. Better bomb them from the air just to be sure. That’s what they get for trying to mess with time-traveling Slavs.

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Because one thing the HALO series really needed was battles against Ottoman Janissaries.

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A Russian paratrooper must go back in time to stop a George Soros-funded plot to turn Stalin and the entire Soviet Union gay. Pretty much writes itself, really.

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The year is 2025. Two years ago ISIS operatives managed to capture an experimental military walker from a top secret Japanese lab. They would have captured the Russian prototype for the PAK DA strategic bomber, but lucky even by that time the project still hadn’t advanced beyond the concept drawing phase. Anyway, with their new technology, ISIS goes on a rampage across the world, leaving the rest of humanity no choice but to organize an underground resistance movement. As you scour the land for any form of sustenance while desperately hiding from ISIS hunter-killer droids, you curse those who failed to support Donald Trump. He alone could have prevented this. He even said so in a tweet!

Hollywood Colonel Field Manual

Congratulations on your promotion to full colonel! No doubt when you were still a cadet at the academy, you probably imagined that being a colonel would mean taking on much more responsibility, specifically the command of a battalion or possibly regiment. While this is the typical command for many colonels, now that you have achieved the prestigious rank yourself you might want to take the time to consider two lesser-known, more unconventional options for fulfilling your role as a colonel in your nation’s armed forces.

Evil Colonel

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Colonel Ourumov, Soviet Army Goldeneye (1995)

Being a colonel means you are tasked with controlling a sizable military force, yet unlike a general, you are still in good enough physical condition to take part in operations yourself if need be. For this reason, one of the most popular non-traditional command options for a colonel is that of the evil colonel. While the nomenclature might make it seem as though the evil colonel is a one-dimensional figure, there are actually many sub-roles for evil colonels to play. The variety of duties is quite rich indeed.

The most straightforward role for an evil colonel is almost identical to a conventional battalion command, but with some very important differences. Rather than command the soldiers of your battalion in conventional combat against a conventional or non-conventional enemy, you will most often be using your military resources against a single enemy and possibly his attractive female love interest. It is unlikely that you will be required to conduct operations against anything larger than a squad-sized element at most.

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Colonel Strelnikov of the Soviet Army Red Dawn (1984)

Unlike a conventional battalion commander, you will take a far more hands-on approach in conducting operations. You will be right behind your men on the front line as they track down an escaped secret agent, a plucky band of partisans, or a top-tier special forces operative tasked with infiltrating a secret military installation. On that note, it is almost certain that your battalion will be stationed in just such an installation, most likely tasked with the security of a highly advanced weapon system capable of overturning the global balance of power.

Other hands-on aspects of such a command include interrogating intruders or those helping them. This requires skills in both psychology and persuasion. Such a command will not be suitable for someone who is averse to the use of extremely enhanced interrogation techniques. In this respect, it is also important to cultivate a certain image as a cold-blooded, sadistic individual. While a colonel in a conventional command may make the grade by earning a reputation of “running a tight ship,” this will not suffice for an evil colonel. Be prepared to either occasionally execute one of your own subordinates should they fail at a task you assign them, or at least spread rumors that you will.

Lastly, a colonel serving in this conventional evil colonel role must be able to inspire his men with speeches and sap the morale of any intruder with threats and reminiscences that reveal a dark backstory to prove how violent you can actually be against anyone who dares cross your path. Here are some practical examples of speeches you can make:

To your own men: “Men, we have an intruder in our midst. I expect every one of you to perform your duties to the absolute best of your ability, or you shall face the same fate as our little uninvited guest!”

To an intruder you have captured: “I’m impressed you’ve managed to get this far, but it’s time we end this charade, don’t you think? Now you’re going to tell me exactly who sent you and what you’re after, and you’re going to do it quickly while you still have the ability to speak.”

Another variant on the above: “What you do not understand, Mr. Steele, what you can never understand, is that Mother Russia will not simply vanish into the frozen wasteland. A new Russian empire is rising, and you will be present to witness it’s birth…just before your death!” 

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SS-Standartenfuhrer (colonel) Vogel Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

 

Another sub-role for the evil colonel is the evil terrorist colonel. This is easily one of the most unconventional specialties in the military sphere. Being an evil terrorist colonel will typically entail either carrying out a terrorist operation in another country, or, in an unexpected twist, against your own country. For this reason, you will typically no longer be on active duty when you become an evil terrorist colonel. You will be officially discharged after a period of training which will be dedicated primarily to backstory forming. This might involve being betrayed by your higher command, or being unjustly discharged for making a command decision that caused too much “collateral damage.” Whatever the case, your men from the battalion still follow your word as they would the word of God, and thus they will still respect the chain of command in order to fulfill the mission you give them.

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ex-US Special Forces colonel Stuart Die Hard 2: Die Harder (1990)

Due to the very non-traditional nature of this role, the evil terrorist colonel must work harder to cultivate his image. Fortunately, the colonel who chooses to go the evil terrorist route will find that the restrictions commonly associated with military service are no longer present, in particular those associated with your country’s military justice system. Collateral damage is no longer a consideration- on the contrary it’s often part of the job.

Whereas the more conventional evil colonel is typically tasked with what is more often than not a defensive mission and a static role, the evil terrorist colonel is far more dynamic. In other words, rather than guarding a top secret military installation and the advanced weapons technology therein, you would more likely be tasked with taking over said installation in order to secure said technology and use it to hold the government for ransom.

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Simon Gruber, ex-colonel of an East German special operations team Die Hard With A Vengeance (1995)

One thing that must be stressed above all is backstory and image. At some point you will be required to justify your actions either to the government you are acting against, or a single, protagonist-like operative who has been sent to impede your operation. The following are some practical examples of backstories you may use for inspiration:

Betrayal motive: “Ten years ago you left me and my men in that valley with no air support, no artillery, no medevac- NOTHING! I watched young, patriotic men in their prime die in agony just so some desk jockey general could get another star and a cowardly, treasonous administration could call it a victory and pat itself on the back while gearing up for an election year. Well, gentlemen, as you’re no doubt aware by now, some of us didn’t die on that mountain. Think of us as ghosts of your dirty past, come to judge you for your crimes. And believe me, gentlemen, if you fail to follow our instructions to the letter, we will unleash the X87 missile on a major city.”

Political motive: “I did what I had to do to save the lives of my men. I did what I had been commissioned to do by this government! If I am guilty of anything it is loving this country too much to bow my head and accept the judgment of cowardly politicians who never faced the business end of an enemy machine gun. My men and I think it’s high time the fatcats in Washington got a taste of the wars they ask us to fight, then condemn us for the way we fight them.”

 Morale-building speech for your henchmen: “Gentlemen! I don’t care what the hypocrites and cowards say about us. You are the finest soldiers I have ever known and I am proud to have served with you on this difficult mission. It has been a hard fight, and some of our own have fallen. But rest assured- now that our little party-crasher is nothing but a charred pile of ashes (pause for cheers), there is nothing left in our way. In eight hours, the device will detonate and we’ll be on our way to a secluded tropical island enjoying our fortunes and new identities.”

Be advised that both conventional and terrorist evil colonels typically run a high risk of being killed in action. Research has shown that due to their proficiency with firearms and more conventional weapons, evil colonels tend to be killed via more unconventional means, typically by the hand of a lone, resilient, likeable protagonist-type enemy who simply will not abandon his assigned mission so long as there is air in his lungs and blood in his veins. While this topic will be covered more thoroughly in training, here are a few tips to give you an idea of the risks you’ll have to look out for.

-Be sure to survey your area of operations for any sharp objects which might impale a person. Remove such objects or install proper guardrails to prevent someone from falling on them.

-Look out for cliffs, windows on high floors, and anything else which might pose a falling hazard. Ensure that any windows are made of strong, preferably bulletproof glass. All catwalks should have guardrails. Have your soldiers repeatedly police their assigned positions for trip hazards like extension cords.

-Keep all flammable materials in a safe, secure location, and do not retreat to this area should the battle turn against you.

-If your enemy is escaping, think twice before getting into a helicopter or other military vehicle in order to hunt him down. Many evil colonels die in vehicle accidents, often caused by an enemy targeting some vulnerable feature of their vehicle.

-Be sure to secure the entire area when you are interrogating a prisoner. When making a long speech about your ultimate plan or your motivation, make sure at least three of your men have eyes on your prisoner. They should be carrying locked and loaded.

-Be sure to kill prisoners personally or at least witness their execution. Do not “leave it” to a henchman or utilize any overly complicated killing mechanisms. Plenty of experience shows that these elaborate schemes are doomed to fail and lead to escape.

-At some point you may find yourself in hand-to-hand combat with an enemy. You will no doubt dominate this fight thanks to your advanced martial arts skills and years of combat experience, but be forewarned- should you knock your assailant off a ledge or through a window, be sure to verify that they have actually been killed. In many cases the enemy might have fallen into a conveniently-placed construction dumpster full of discarded foam mattresses, or a series of awnings might have broken their fall. Never assume in combat!

-Remember! Situational awareness is key!

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Evil Terrorist colonel Igor “Strelkov” Girkin (2014)

 

Wise Mentor Colonel

If evil is not your thing, you might want to try becoming a wise mentor colonel. Just be aware that there is an age requirement. This may be waived on a case-by-case basis depending on appearance, however. Typically gray hair will be sufficient.

Mentor colonels do not actually command troops. Their specialty is motivating highly skilled, veteran operators to carry out the most dangerous missions, in some cases against an evil colonel.

 

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US Special Forces colonel Trautman Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)

The operative is the most important aspect of a mentor colonel’s mission. Typically this operative will be someone who served under your command in combat, back when you were a more junior rank with a conventional command. In the heat of battle, you taught him many key lessons, but you also learned a lot from him, because he was by far the best soldier you’d ever commanded in combat. There was only one problem. He was too emotional, too much rage, too much intensity. If he only knew how to channel that energy he’d be unstoppable- exactly the type of person you need for the most dangerous mission. Take a moment to reflect on your military career and ask yourself if you’ve ever worked with a soldier like that. If you have, that’s your operative.

Simply knowing an operative is not enough for the mentor colonel, however. Volumes of military literature attest to the fact that being the best-of-the-best, elite-of-the-elite, eventually leads to something known as “hero burnout.” Afflicted operatives will typically leave the service, sometimes under other than honorable conditions, and then cut themselves off from the rest of society in an attempt to put the horrors of war behind them. As a mentor colonel, you’re first mission after mentally hand-picking an operative will be to go out into the world and track that operative down. Here is a list of possible locations where you might find such an operative.

-Rundown taverns or honky-tonk bars in remote, rural towns are one of the most common gathering places for ex-special operations veterans trying to drown the nightmares with drink. The more remote, the more likely you are to find a top-tier special operative.

-Remote cabins in nearly inaccessible wilderness areas. Top-tier special operatives with emotional baggage from their last and final operation often want to cut off contact from the world as much as possible. As such, they may purchase a small cabin somewhere in a depths of a vast forest, perhaps in the Yukon territory. You will most likely find them outside, chopping wood. Be prepared to deal with wolves or other potentially dangerous wildlife.

-Religious institutions. The kind of special operative you need is most likely struggling with an army of personal demons associated with his past actions in combat. As such, it is only natural for them to seek out the solitude of religious sanctuaries such as Buddhist temples, Catholic monasteries, Sufi tekkes, or on rare occasions, Orthodox Jewish synagogues.

-Prison. Veterans with so much combat experience often find it difficult to adjust to civilian life. As such, they might find themselves in trouble with the law. One possibility is that they were defending some young woman from a group of rape-hungry assailants, and in the process they lost control and used one of their deadly secret martial arts techniques on one or more of the attackers. Civilian courts and jurors rarely appreciate the mental state of such veterans and thus might be inclined to pass a guilty verdict. Alternatively, your operative might be found within a military prison, either wrongfully convicted of a crime he didn’t commit, or for disobeying what was in reality an illegal order, but it was his word against an officer’s. One advantage of finding your operative in prison is that you can easily use a full pardon as an incentive to join your mission.

-Any venue that involves underground fighting for money is likely to attract men whose bare hands are lethal weapons and who have no skills outside of killing. If the audience at such a venue consists almost entirely of chain-smoking Chinese men furiously waving betting slips, chances are you’ve found your man.

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Top-tier special operations operatives typically acquire PTSD from their many dangerous missions over the years. As such, they may seek an escape from the violence, such as underground old-school Thai boxing. Rambo III (1988)

Once a mentor colonel has found his operative, his work is by no means done. Now begins the hard part. The colonel must convince the operative to return to duty so as to take on one last mission that no other operative or military asset could possibly accomplish.

The first step is positively identifying your operative. Oftentimes they will be sitting alone at a bar stool, hunched over a shot of whiskey or a beer. They will most likely be intoxicated and they are unlikely to make eye contact even if you sit down next to them. As such, the typical method for addressing them is to stand behind them and deliver your introductory speech to their back, as in the following example:

“Sergeant First Class Steele, Joseph. Top of your class US Army airborne school, sniper school, Ranger school. Combat missions with the 75th Ranger regiment, then you transferred to US Special Forces and then on to Delta. Combat missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, North Korea… Wounded in action six times, three silver stars. They would have given you the Medal of Honor if that particular mission weren’t classified. You’re the best of the best. The finest soldier I’ve ever commanded. And that’s exactly what our country needs right now!”

At this point you’re likely to start encountering objections from the operative. It is here that the wise mentor colonel must use all of his wits in order to convince the operative to return to duty and complete the mission. Here is a list of common operative objections and possible responses to them:

Objection: “(Name) doesn’t exist anymore. He’s dead.”

Response: “The (Name of operative) I knew wouldn’t talk that way. He was a survivor.”

Objection: “I’m out of the game.”

Response: “Defending our country isn’t some game you can just quit when the going gets tough! We need you back!”

Objection: “Why me? What’s so special about me? I’m just a washed-up dead-ender trying to die in peace!”

Response: “No you’re NOT! You’re the finest fighting machine this country has ever trained. You don’t belong here, crying into your beer. You belong with your old unit- what’s left of it at least!” 

Objection: “I’ve had enough killing. I’m through with violence. I want to live my life in peace.”

Response: “Don’t we all? But while you’ve had enough of war, the terrorists haven’t. And nobody’s going to live in peace if they’re allowed to carry out their latest plan!”

Objection: “I was good, but I got careless. I got people killed.”

Response: “You can’t keep living in the past!” 

Objection: “Twenty civilians died because of me!” 

Response: “You can’t keep living in the past!” 

Objection: “You say I was your best soldier,  but would you be saying that if you knew about that time I robbed your house and pawned your wife’s antique jewelry so I could pay back that payday loan?”

Response: “You can’t keep…Wait…What?”

Occasionally you will have to use stronger tactics of persuasion. These may include, but are not limited to, the following:

-Inform the operative that someone close to them has been captured by the enemy you want them to fight. If you plan on going this route, be sure to do your homework ahead of time.

-Get yourself captured and have a subordinate inform the operative that you have gone missing in action. Hopefully the strong bond you formed earlier in the service will motivate the operative to come rescue you.

-You could try accepting the operative’s refusal and leaving. Inevitably someone close to the operative will be killed by the enemy either directly or indirectly, and this will force them to commit to the mission.

Once you have recruited the operative and properly briefed him, you will have to provide them with guidance during the mission. Radio is the best way of accomplishing this.

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Colonel Roy Campbell provides guidance for operative Solid Snake Metal Gear Solid (1998)

Be sure to give the operative an extra briefing once they arrive in the area of operations. They haven’t been in the game a while so they may be slightly forgetful from all the binge drinking, underground Burmese boxing, or Siberian bear wrestling.

It is important that you monitor the radio at all times and be prepared to offer helpful hints on anything the operative might encounter. If you suddenly lose contact with the operative, be sure to loudly shout the operative’s name into the radio repeatedly in order to reestablish contact and determine the cause of the communications breakdown.

Be advised that it is often necessary to leave out some crucial information about the mission or the enemy leader in your initial briefing. The best time to reveal such information is roughly two thirds into the mission, typically at a point where your operative is experiencing heavy opposition and is wounded or nearly dead. As a rule, your operative is unlikely to react positively to this news, but it is mission essential information that they must have, at least at this point. Armed with this extra intel, your operative will inevitably work out the best solution with which to confront the enemy and neutralize them.

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For the wise mentor colonel, pre-combat inspections are unnecessary. Here colonel Campbell tells Snake how his equipment works in the field. Metal Gear 2 Solid Snake (1990)

Generally, being a wise mentor colonel is oftentimes much safer than being an evil colonel, as you will have the highly-trained veteran operative on your side rather than the other way around. Still, there are risks you should be aware of. One obvious risk is enemy action in those cases where you must become captured in order to motivate your operative to undertake the mission. However, there are cases when a wise mentor colonel may be required to sacrifice his own life for the sake of the mission. In this case you will most likely die a painful, slow death, slow enough for the devastated operative to cradle you in his arms, tell you it’s nothing and that you’re going to make it, and generally lose all hope. If you should find yourself in this situation, realize that you must give the operative the mission essential information, whatever it may be, at this time!

Do you have the secret override code to abort the launch? Tell it. Do you know a hidden vulnerability on the enemy super weapon? Tell him what it is and what sort of weapon to use. Are you the operative’s estranged father? You have to tell him now. Not only will you have provided your operative with crucial information, but he will now be imbued with rage and a thirst for vengeance. He will accomplish the mission.

***

Your armed forces are proud to have you serving as a senior commissioned officer. Now that you know the full potential your rank affords, go out and make the most of it, colonel!

BREAKING: Batman fights drug dealers in Moscow suburb!

I don’t normally do breaking news here but what I have just learned is unprecedented. Prepare to witness the greatest thing in 21st century Russian history. This may very well be the salvation of Russia. Today he fights minor criminals on the streets. Tomorrow he may go after the criminals in the Kremlin. He is vengeance. He is the night. He is…BATMAN! 

No I’m serious. There’s a guy beating up drug dealers in the Moscow suburb of Khimki and he’s dressed as Batman. Here’s an excerpt from Meduza:

“Law enforcement officers told the newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets that, earlier this month, a taxi driver in the Khimki area witnessed a man dressed as Batman exit a building that later proved to be a drug den. The taxi driver says the Batman threw some kind of fire bomb at the ground and then disappeared into the shadows (see the video below). Police officers soon arrived, entered the building, and soon walked out escorting two men in handcuffs.”

He even uses smoke bombs, as you can see in the video:

 

This is simply awesome. In fact, on this occasion it might be good to talk about Batman’s relations with Russia. First of all, Batman in Russia is approximated as Бэтмен, which would sound something like “betmen” in  English. This is interesting because the actual word for “bat” in Russian is летучая мышь (lyetuchaya mysh’), meaning literally “flying mouse.” Obviously they went with “Betmen” because it sounds better than saying “Flying Mouse Man” in Russian, whereas Spider-Man is known as Человек-паук (Chelovek pauk) or “Man spider.”

The prospects of a real Russian Batman are quite interesting indeed. After all, in the past few years the kind of crime once associated with Russia’s “Wild 90’s” has started to rear its ugly head once again. Not only that, Russia has a perfect rogue’s gallery of supervillains for Batman to battle on a regular basis. Here’s a few I just thought of off the top of my head:

Mr. Big: His nickname being a subtle joke about his tiny stature, Mr. Big is the head of the Kremlin Kriminal Krew (KKK). His skills in judo more than make up for his lack of social skills and generally bizarre demeanor. Over the years Mr. Big has become more and more disconnected from material reality, blaming all his problems on gremlins he calls “foreign agents.” Often unable to appear in public for unknown reasons, Mr. Big often prefers to speak through his press secretary Dmitry “The Mustache” Peskov.

The Joker: Originally a TV host named Dmitry  Kiselyov, working for Putin’s regime caused him to undergo a psychotic breakdown. Now he is obsessed with fighting what he calls an “information war,” and to that end every week he assaults Russia’s television audiences with lies so ridiculously hilarious they can actually cause rational people to laugh themselves to death.

The Rotenberg Gang: Two brothers, two partners in crime. Thanks to their relationship with the biggest crime boss in Russia, these two oligarchs are able to rob the whole country blind without jimmying open a single door or pulling a gun.

Mesmerizer: The secret alter-ego of ex-railroad magnate Vladimir Yakunin, the Mesmerizer can stun and totally disable people by lecturing them about convoluted Western conspiracies against Russia.

Ms. Two-Face: The Joker’s female sidekick with a passion for culinary arts and whataboutery. She runs Russia’s foreign language media empire with the help of her gang of ludicrously overpaid expats. Flips a coin to decide whether to claim her TV channel is “no different from Western networks” or “more objective than the mainstream media.” Her only weaknesses are accurate TV ratings reports and financial accountability.

The Worst Person in the World: Born Pavel Astakhov, The Worst Person in the World AKA Captain Cocksplat defends domestic abusers, condemns disabled orphans to woefully underfunded facilities rife with abuse and exploitation, and defends polygamous marriage of teenage girls to middle-aged men.

The Mountain Wolf: The only man in Russia that strikes fear into the heart of Mr. Big. So much fear, in fact, that Mr. Big routinely pays the Wolf millions of dollars from the state budget. The Mountain Wolf is a flamboyant villain, sporting gold-plated pistols, flashy cars, and an incredibly expensive cat.

Gummy Bear: By day he’s mild mannered Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev. By night he…sleeps. Sometimes he plays badminton. He likes his iPhone.

As you can clearly see just from this preliminary brainstorming session, Russian Batman will have his hands full with these and dozens of other villains who belong in Arkham Asylum, or failing that, the bottom of an abandoned mine somewhere near Vorkuta.

I’m sorry but I just can’t go on writing anymore- this is simply too awesome.

Russian Batman. He’s the hero Russia needs.

 

 

What are you going to do about it?

I’ve really got to hand it to James Kirchick. Within a day of the Orlando massacre he managed to carry out a broad survey of the left and determine that it was too cowardly and “purposely dense” to point out the role Islam played in the murderer’s motivation. Hear that, liberals and assorted pinkos? There is one factor that brought this horrific plan to fruition, and it is Islam. How dare you talk about gun control. How dare you express concern that innocent American Muslims will once again face a backlash for something they did not personally do. How dare you suggest that something this horrific could have several root causes.

Kirchick condemns those (apparently including a lot of gay Americans) who make a “moral equivalence” between this hate crime and anti-LGBT discrimination such as the wedding cake ceremony. I’m not one to dismiss the experience of someone who spends so much time on Twitter and using it as the basis to judge vast swaths of the population, but I find it hard to believe that anyone of reasonable intelligence is actually suggesting that a baker discriminating against a gay couple is literally equivalent to gunning down civilians in a night club. I think they might have in mind the kind of institutional discrimination that preserves homophobia in America. Maybe someone remembered that another man was planning a large-scale massacre against a LGBT event in LA and unless he’s a convert it’s safe to say Islam wasn’t a motive. I think they might be unknowingly or knowingly thinking about something like this:

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Ah but in order for Kirchick to get his point across, he employs a little magic trick. He tells us that this isn’t the first Muslim murderer of gays in America. He then provides us with one case and then quickly leaves the United States to point out the atrocities against LGBT people in countries of the Middle East and Africa. Those not quick enough to pick up on it will miss one important point. However horrible the crimes of Sharia-based regimes might be, none of their actions have a direct impact on LGBT people in the United States. Given that the majority of homophobic crimes in the US are committed by fundamentalist Christians or at least non-Muslims, I think US-based gays can be forgiven for not feeling particularly threatened by the theocratic regime in Iran. Justifiably outraged? Of course. Threatened? No.

This is where we get to the heart of the matter. I don’t mean to beat up on Kirchick for insisting that everyone confess out loud that the problem is “Islam.” He’s by no means the only one. More importantly, I’m an atheist and have no need to defend Islam; I only defend innocent people who have not actually committed any crime. I have in the past condemned those who foolishly say “ISIS has nothing to do with Islam” or those whose immediate reaction to the most egregious atrocity is to pick out some crime of their own government, however old, and act like this somehow negates the horror of what happened. But in spite of this, I have a question for those who, with smug self-righteousness, stand up and challenge people to say the I-word in response to a terrorist attack.

So what? No, I’m not denying that Islam is a factor. It sure is. Congratulations! But I repeat my question- so what? What do we do about this? Do we take the Trump route and ban all Muslim immigration into the country? Well that won’t do- it might radicalize Muslims already in America. Well maybe we can just round them up into camps! Who needs that pesky Constitution anyway?

And what do you plan to do about those Muslim societies abroad? Do we invade and force tolerance on them at gunpoint? The US didn’t even dare try to do that when it invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, and that didn’t work out too well. No matter. I’m sure it will work out much better if we just invade every country that doesn’t live up to US standards of tolerance (even at a time when the US itself could use a refresher course on the subject) and tell the locals that their religion is shit and they’d better convert or die. Our soldiers wouldn’t need to pull all the weight of course. We can find local Christians and other religious minorities and appoint them in positions of authority over the Muslim population. This plan is so great I’m surprised nobody’s ever tried anything even remotely close to it.

Hey and speaking of our soldiers, who’s going to carry out this great mission? Kirchick? Oh heavens no! This is how Kirchick does battle with an intolerant regime that doesn’t respect LGBT rights:

 

Look out, Press TV, you’re next in line for a dressing down!

Now I’ve been told by insiders that the reaction inside the studio was a hilarious sight to see, and thus Kirchick deserves some credit. But it’s worth noting that he’d been invited on after advocating the death penalty for Chelsea Manning.

Are you starting to see a pattern here? Talk tough but don’t actually back it up. Let some poor person do the fighting, the killing, and the bleeding as you urge them on into the uncivilized world, making it safe for you or at least your specific identity group.

If we step back from the topic of this mass murder, we see this same kind of pattern repeated on dozens of issues, typically from the “neocon” camp. I mean the real neocons, not the RT-definition of neocon, i.e. anyone who criticizes Russia’s foreign or domestic policies. “Assad is a mass murderer!” He sure is. What do we do about it? “Putin is challenging NATO!” Well, kind of. He’s definitely invading Ukraine, but what did you do about it? “This murder is about political Islam!” Yup. It sure is. I guess now all we have to do is send SEAL Team 6 on a mission to take out the president of political Islam. Cut off the head and the body will die.

Getting back to the heinous crime in Orlando, yes, this does have something to do with Islam. It has a lot to do with Islam. It also has something to do with sensible gun control. And yes, I’d say the ongoing discrimination going on across the country against LGBT people, clothed in the language of freedom to persecute others “freedom of religion,” has a lot to do with this crime. After all, if the fundamentalist Christians claim persecution because they’re not allowed to harass or discriminate against gays, it only stands to reason that this alleged persecution would extend to Muslims as well. At the end of the day, we can still call this what it is- a targeted homophobic attack motivated to some extent by reactionary religious thought, while at the same time acknowledging that it is also complex.

But if you don’t want to take my word, maybe you’ll listen to the president of the United States.

UPDATE: In addition to a pastor in California who praised the Orlando massacre, an Orthodox Jew of the Chabad sect recently released a rant in favor of the killing. Now if you’re thinking “Okay, there have been many instances of anti-LGBT violence motivated by fundamentalist Christianity, but by Jews?” Well, no. As it turns out, a radical Jewish extremist attempted a massacre at a gay parade in Jerusalem, but thanks to Israel’s strict gun laws he was reduced to using a knife. He managed to stab six people, killing only one of them. What’s that you say? Israel isn’t the US? Yeah, and neither are Iran and Nigeria, countries that Kirchick included in his Islamic war on gays.

People like to point out how much more violence is associated with Islam compared to Christianity and Judaism, but it’s worth remembering that one reason these religions seem so tame nowadays is because they were tamed by state institutions while their claims have been devastated by the advance of science. Now that its on the ropes, religion in many countries suddenly cries out for “tolerance” where it once called for blood of the unbelievers. And it’s worth pointing out that right now, radical “Orthodox” fighters have been waging a holy war of sorts in Ukraine since 2014.

But yeah, let’s just like…ban Islam or something. According to Kirchick, refusal to put the blame solely on an entire religion is like electing Donald Trump, a guy who puts the blame solely on an entire religion. Yeah.