"At the core of liberalism is the spoiled child -- miserable, as all spoiled children are, unsatisfied, demanding, ill-disciplined, despotic and useless. Liberalism is a philosophy of spoiled brats" -- P.J. O'Rourke, "Give War a Chance"
Please allow me to take this opportunity to invoke a rhetorical moment of silence for the late Mr. O'Rourke, who in so many ways, brought a lot of joy into my own personal world. I was a fan from the very second I first read National Lampoon in my late teens and have steadily collected his works ever since. A brilliant man, with a terrific sense of humor which he fused with scathing political and social commentary, has been lost to us.
The world seems a lesser place today without him.
Requiesat In Pacem.
In the good news department: I got an actual plastic straw at Wendy's this afternoon.
But I'm not here brag about my good fortune in the fast food utensil department. I'm here to talk about something I've written about previously, but have had to revisit given a recent experience.
Some time ago I regaled you with the story of my first experience as a hiring manager. To summarize: having no experience with conducting interviews and hiring employees before, I sought out advice from a higher-level manager whom I respected. The best piece of advice he gave me went something like this:
People, in general, can be summed up in two broad comparative categories. They are either Smart or Stupid, and Passive or Aggressive. The trick to any good hire was to identify the Aggressive-Smart and avoid the Aggressive-Stupid. This dictum served me well for many years until society began mass-producing Aggressive-Stupid on an industrial scale. They are pushed out of the modern universities in a continuous stream, extruded like Kraft Easy Cheese slithering out of the can.
The Aggressive-Stupid we're producing nowadays come with what might be called "a value-added feature" which is a large dose of "Passive", so that what we get is Stupid-Passive-Aggressive.
They now proliferate and inhabit every facet of our society, and the thing is, they're becoming brazen about being Stupid-Passive-Aggressive because Stupid-Passive-Aggressive has become normalized. In the Old Days, before everyone became an anti-social Twitter Abuser, you could count upon the Stupid-Passive-Aggressive to a) shut the fuck up and b) go away, once their stupidity had been exposed and they would crawl off to die of sheer embarrassment.
But this was before the internet gave them the ability to form "Support Groups", little colonies of Stupid-Passive-Aggressives in Cyberspace and easily identify them for the unscrupulous political operatives of the left, who went about the business of "organizing" and "empowering" them.
As an aside, the term "empowerment" is a load of horse shit. It refers, almost exclusively, to a vague, emotional state in which complete losers are made to feel better about themselves not because they've actually achieved anything, but rather that someone they dislike has been shit on in the effort to provide the little dipshit with a reward for being a dipshit -- usually not much beyond a brief hit of dopamine, or perhaps a momentary tingling sensation in the vagina (real or imagined).
Two recent examples this past month brought back the memory of the Smart/Stupid/Passive/Aggressive paradigm.
The first was delivered courtesy of the Poster Child for Stupid-Passive-Aggressive, Alexandria Ocascio-Cortez, who is to American Politics is what New Coke was to the world of Soft Drinks. That is to say, there's nothing "new" about her except the packaging, and the revulsion she has engendered from the marketplace of political discourse has the likes of Joe Manchin, Krysten Sinema and Tulsi Gabbard running to embrace the right wing, not to mention a shitload of democratic governors and mayors and bureaucratic apparatchiks heading for the COVID lifeboats as if they were trying to escape the Titanic before it sank.
She (Ocascio-Cortez) is a marketing campaign masquerading as a serious politician. She is to the New Left what Michael Dukakis was to the Old, only with bigger tits. She is like one of those extremely hyped-up commercials where the product being sold is extolled as an upgrade containing 20% More Less.
The price, however, has been significantly increased. Because petulant child.
Tucker Carlson took a whack at someone who wrote a book comparing Ally from The Block to Jesus, and the response from the Gated Community "Latina" was classic projection and projectile immaturity. In other words, CLASSIC Passive-Aggressive with a large dollop of value-added fucktard.
(This is must-watch TV, incidentally).
Because we all want to date her, you know.
Personally, I'd let her blow me, if my life depended upon it, but otherwise, I wouldn't fuck her with a stolen dick.
The second example comes courtesy of the (P)resident of the United States, who is being outmaneuvered by a much-younger, and much-sharper Vladimir Putin.
I have said it here before and I shall repeat it: Russia will not go to war over Ukraine. It doesn't have to. There will be a show of force, there will even be a "police action" to "maintain the stability" of the region, but no one will be doing much shooting beyond local factions engaged in antagonistic acts of violence designed to provoke a response from one side or the other. A response that, in all actuality, the United States can neither do much about, nor really wants to do anything about.
Unless this means the supply of checks to your son from the Ukrainian or Russian criminal oligarchs is in serious danger of interruption. And then you engage in Stupid-Passive-Aggression.
This means you give the Ukrainians anti-tank missiles (which will mostly be used up in training exercises). It means you move a small American force into Eastern Europe -- just enough to be a metaphorical speed bump if they have to be moved forward. The American military is, likewise, apparently infected with Stupid-Passive-Aggression, because this 3,000-man force is very much in-line with the ridiculous doctrine of "proportionate response", which means you send "a message" essentially written in crayon to a would-be aggressor. Not enough force to deter him nor enough force to stop him.
In the end, the force is not there to prevent hostilities, but rather to show that "something" has "been done" in response to a demand (real or perceived) necessitated by domestic politics.
This covers the Passive-Aggressive part, but there needs to be a deeper examination of the Stupid fragment. That is, that no one in charge seems to know precisely why Vladimir Putin wants the Eastern Ukraine. They console themselves, to some extent, with a conventional wisdom explanation of "rebuilding the Soviet Union", but this is nonsense. The Soviet Union fell precisely because it did not work, and one of the main reasons it did not work was scale -- it was impossible to keep a nation that large (and that diverse) under the thumbs of a state security apparatus and to blatantly lie to the citizens of that police state forever.
Despotic Managerialists like Putin learn from their mistakes. And while they may bomb Chechens and smack Georgians and Ukrainians around from time to time, the idea of reabsorbing them all into a New Soviet Empire is not attractive: they're more trouble than their worth, even given the "conventional" vision of Putin as a New Hitler (that's Justin Trudeau's gig), demanding unification of "ethnic" Russians who live in these territories to the Rodina.
The Stupid part comes from the consequences of the policy of successive American foreign policy establishments in the decades following the fall of the U.S.S.R.
As I've already told you, the Russians are, historically, fearful of invasion from the West. The ultimate purpose of a Soviet Union containing Belarus, the Baltic States, and Ukraine, especially, are because these are the traditional invasion routes into the Russian heartland, proper. Ukraine and Belarus are flat, treeless, and there is no natural barrier that deters and invader from the west from rolling eastwards. The Warsaw Pact was a defensive alliance that provided the old Soviet Union with a series of speed bumps of it's own.
Extension of NATO eastwards threatens Russia. It also serves no useful purpose, beyond giving American defense contractors new markets for it's weapons and American politicians an excuse to interfere in Continental affairs. And yet, with the threat of Ivan bringing the Communist Juggernaut into the West with an armored spearhead largely gone, the "alliance" continues to exist and expand.
This is deliberate policy. And it's stupid.
The reason why Russia invaded the Crimea some years back was not because Putin needed a land grab or because he wanted to be a dick. He did this because expansion of NATO into Ukraine threatened to deprive the Soviet Navy of it's only operational base in the Black Sea...a region that can be closed to it by a NATO member, Turkey. Closure of the straits between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea by NATO would be catastrophic to Russian commerce and influence, hence an invasion of Crimea.
And when the Crimean campaign was essentially given the Green Light by ex-President-Nobel-Prize-for-Being-Half-Black (the infamous "I'll have more flexibility after the election" statement caught on a hot mic), Putin was emboldened. He figured Hillary (who could be bought, since everyone else was) would have followed President Failure, but Trump put a crimp in that plan.
And with the elevation of President Dementia, the expansion of NATO into Ukraine again became a topic of conversation, and so Putin acted again . The "separation" of the two easternmost Ukrainian provinces was deliberately engineered so as to make NATO give up this stupid idea of creeping right up the Kremlin's doorstep and arming potential enemies with weapons that give them at least a chance to be the equals of the Russian military on a conventional battlefield.
The Russians feel closed in every time NATO creeps Eastward, particularly with a potentially-hostile Japan and South Korea to it's extreme East.
If we're "worried" about developments in Ukraine today, we have no one to blame but American policy makers, and their collective responses to the crises they have engineered is to make The Other Guy out to be the one wearing the black hat.
And those American policy makers have been aided and abetted by our own, erstwhile "allies", like the Germans, who refuse to protect and defend themselves, and who are more than happy to let NATO (read: American Troops) suffer the casualties and destruction of some future conflict someplace other than Western Europe -- like Estonia, Poland, or...Ukraine.
Yet every day Grandpa Depends gets in front of a microphone and spews the most outlandish garbage about a situation he -- in large part -- has created. Joe likes to brag that he's been responsible for everything in American Life for 50 years, and I'm sure that, despite protests to the contrary, his fingerprints are all over this turd, too. Not that he'd admit it..or probably even remember it.
Joe talks tough...and then imposes sanctions which affect individual Russians but not the entire country.
Joe insists he can take the measure of Putin -- the Only One Who Can! -- and in fact, already has...and the Donbas is essentially now a Russian condominium.
Talking a big game but then accomplishing nothing productive or useful, in effect beating your chest for the sake of being perceived as a Tough Guy, is classic Passive-Aggressive.
But I'm sure The Big Guy is still getting paid by someone over there, regardless of what side they happen to be on.
UPDATE: Corrected a mistake. I initially wrote "Eastern Europe" when I meant "Western Europe". Also removed an extraneous comma.