Tag Archives: This So-Called American Life

How To Die In America

I am fascinated with this CDC study about “distinctive causes of death” around the country. It’s not the main cause of death, but rather the cause of death that stands out relative to the national average. In Tennessee, the most distinctive cause of death is gun accidents — no shocker there. But I have to wonder about some other states. Hey Utah Nevada, “legal intervention”? Really? Are we talking death by cop and capital punishment here? North Carolina’s is “nutritional deficiencies” and if you think it’s repugnant that anyone would die of malnutrition in modern America, especially a good “Christian” Southern state like North Carolina, then please raise your hand.

cause of death

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Filed under weird stuff

Today’s RW Freakout: Obama Is Never, Ever, Ever Going To Leave!

[UPDATE]:

Y’all, Rand Paul is on it!

————————–

Oh, Texas. You make me laugh. You make me cry. But mostly, you make me laugh:

For a made-up military mission, Jade Helm 15 is impressively elaborate: The two-month simulation planned for this summer spans much of the Southwest, requiring special forces from four branches of the military to carry out covert operations amid “hostile” territory in Texas, Utah and part of California.

In at least one of those states, hostility toward the operation has begun a few months early. Online and at in-person meetings, many Texans have expressed suspicion and outright opposition to the project. Some are understandably worried about how it’ll affect their daily lives, while conspiracy theorists claim it’s an attempt to institute martial law, possibly in collusion with Wal-Mart.

[…]

At an information session in Bastrop on Monday, command spokesman Lt. Col. Mark Lastoria fielded questions about whether Jade Helm 15 will involve bringing foreign fighters from the Islamic State to Texas, whether U.S. troops will confiscate Texans’ guns and whether the Army intends to implement martial law, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

“It’s the same thing that happened in Nazi Germany: You get the people used to the troops on the street, the appearance of uniformed troops and the militarization of the police,” Bastrop resident Bob Wells told the Statesman after the meeting. “They’re gathering intelligence. That’s what they’re doing. And they’re moving logistics in place for martial law. That’s my feeling. Now, I could be wrong. I hope I am wrong. I hope I’m a ‘conspiracy theorist.’”

Is there anything funnier than a bunch of pants-wetting Teanuts, scared that Obummer is never going to leave the White House? Here’s the part I love: it’s all a big fat con-SPEAR-acy and you guys, Wal-mart is in on it!

Multiple Web sites of varying repute also drew a link between the operation and a recent Wal-Mart announcement the chain will be closing five stores, two of them in Texas.

“Are the closed Walmarts being activated as central command for underground operations?” read a headline on IntelliHub, which calls itself the “Civilian Intelligence Agency.”

Two Walmarts in Texas are closing? Well, that just proves it, then! Smoking guns, y’all!

It’s true: when you get to the far reaches of the right wing dial you meet up with the far reaches of the left wing dial. I distinctly remember in 2006 and 2007, far-lefties fearmongered that George W. Bush was going to declare martial law and never leave the White House. I remember some people pointing to the use of Blackwater security forces in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina as “training exercises” for the coming martial law.

There is one huge difference between left wing nutjobs fearmongering about Bush and Teanuts fearmongering about Obama. When the left did it, nobody paid attention. It happened off in some dark corner of the internet where those of us who noticed just laughed; the mainstream of America had no clue it was going on. There weren’t Washington Post and CBS Morning News stories about it. It wasn’t addressed at the daily White House press briefing.

And there certainly wasn’t a response by the governor of one of the country’s largest states. But Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has ordered the Texas National Guard to monitor the exercise. Hilarious.

I find that so interesting. When right-wingers needlessly crap their pants over some ludicrous conspiracy theory, everyone jumps to attention. When left-wingers do the same thing, no one even notices it. I don’t think it’s because right-wing freakouts are more legitimate than left-wing ones, I just think it’s a sign of how the Republican Party in general has been completely co-opted by the crazy train known as the Tea Party. Gov. Abbott is a Teanut, so of course when the Alex Jones set starts donning their tinfoil hats, he’s going to follow suit. And that gets the attention of the national news media.

It’s just another signal that one of our two major political parties in America is completely batshit insane.

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Filed under fear porn, Tea Party

Relatable, Now With Electrolytes

Today’s front page of The New York Times has a story on Jeb Bush trying to lose weight, which is fine, I get that the political punditry wants to “humanize” presidential candidates and present a picture of them as “real people.” But this particular a piece of bullshit pissed me off:

The rigid abstemiousness runs the risk of putting him at a dietary distance from an American electorate that still binges on carbohydrates and, after eight years of a tea-sipping president, craves a relatable eater in chief.

What. The. Fuck.

America “craves a relatable eater in chief” who “binges on carbohydrates” like they do? No. I’m going to stop you right there, buckaroo. I don’t know from under which rock reporter Mike Barbaro pulled this piece of conventional wisdom, but let me say: nothing shows how out of touch you are from the rest of America than stupid statements like this. Americans don’t drink tea? Low-carb diets aren’t popular in the U.S.? Have you been to a fucking grocery store lately, buddy? A real one, not one of those little New York City corner delis, I’m talking the goddamn Kroger or Safeway. Do you ever step outside Manhattan for more than two hours?

Can we please stop portraying the American electorate and American politicians in such childish ways?

I am sick of this bullshit that crops up every four years, when the punditry suddenly decides it has its pulse on “real America” and it knows what we “crave” in a presidential candidate, which is to be exactly like their (completely false) image of us. We want to have a beer with them! But not any beer, certainly not one of those gay beers from Yurp, it has to be a manly-man beer! A Budweiser!

Do you people even hear yourselves? Do you hear how insulting that is to us, we Real Americans in the “flyover states,” not to mention how insulting it is to the candidates? Fucking-a.

Memo to the New York Times, writer Michael Barbaro, and the rest of you idiots in the political media: you have no fucking clue what America craves, so stop with the idiotic “real America” framing. You’re making fools of yourselves.

We do not have the luxury of playing that stupid media game this time around. We simply do not have the luxury of pretending to give a crap that the presidential candidate put Dijon mustard on his hot dog instead of a Real Murcan Mustard like French’s (irony alert). We do not have the luxury of debating whether Hillary Clinton should have gone to Taco Bell instead of Chipotle. And I am not going to pretend that because I live in Nashville, Tennessee my diet consists solely of deep fried fat balls and a side of sweet tea. It does not.

I am not going to pretend that I can’t relate to Jeb Bush because he’s on a Paleo Diet instead of binging on microwavable Mac’N’Cheezybits like Real Murcans. I can’t relate to Jeb Bush because he’s a conservative hawk who has embraced the architects of his brother’s Iraq War fiasco. I can’t relate to Jeb Bush because while he claims to favor small government, in actuality he inserted himself into the Schiavo family’s darkest hour. I can’t relate to Jeb Bush because he would return us to the same pro-corporate, pro-wealthy policies that sank the economy when his brother was in the White House.

What he eats for dinner isn’t even on my damn radar, you fools. Stop treating the electorate like idiots.

8 Comments

Filed under 2016 Presidential Election, media, rants

War On Terror Electric Boogaloo

Hey kids, let’s shoot a machine gun with the Navy Seal who killed Bin Laden! All it takes is a cool 50 grand:

Key contributors to a conservative group have received a special invitation: For $50,000, they can shoot guns and hang out this June with Robert O’Neill, the former Navy SEAL credited with killing al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

The offer was recently made by the ForAmerica organization. Those invited have until May 10 to RSVP for an event at the Amangani Resort Hotel in Jackson Hole, Wyo. The facility offers picturesque views of the Snake River, and is on the southern tip of Grand Teton National Park. A room there can cost more than $1,000 per night.

[…]

The ForAmerica group is run by America, Inc., of Reston, Va. It was founded in 2009 by Brent Bozell, a conservative commentator who also started the Media Research Center, which provides a conservative critique of the media. It received nearly $4.9 million in contributions in 2012, and $2.5 million in 2013, according to tax documents.

I am so sick of this jingoistic, pro-war, amygdala-tweaking, “wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross” bullshit fascism-disguised-as-patriotism we’ve come to expect from conservatives.

But hey, maybe I’m just being melodramatic, right? Silly woman. But nothing speaks — no screams — a morally bankrupt culture louder than this. Nothing screams that institutional conservatism is made up of a bunch of sick fucks louder than this.

War is not entertainment. Assassinating Osama bin Laden may have been necessary (I say may — because we never did have a national conversation about that, did we?) but for God’s sake, don’t turn it into a fucking fundraiser! Don’t cheapen this entire chapter of American history by monetizing it, for fuck’s sake.

What the hell is wrong with these people?

5 Comments

Filed under advertising, Afghanistan War, gun violence, rants

In The NRA’s America

Welcome to modern America, where guns and gun culture and gun violence have become a part of the fabric of life and one charter school decided to test teacher readiness with an ill-conceived surprise “active shooter” drill during a teacher in-service day:

Not everyone, however, found the drill a positive experience. In a federal lawsuit filed Friday in Portland, teacher Linda McLean says the April 26, 2013 drill at the Halfway school, in which a gunman in a black hoodie and goggles pointed a pistol at her face and shot her with blanks, left her with permanent emotional trauma and unable to return to work, the Oregonian reports.

An employee of the school district since 1982, McLean “was extremely shaken, confused and mentally, physically and emotionally ill” after the drill, the complaint alleges. “She could not shake the event but continued to relive it and try to make sense of it, but could not. Ms. McLean could not sleep and remained anxious and vigilant. When she drifted off to sleep, she experienced nightmares and sweating.”

She sought psychological help, but when she tried to return to the school building, “she was short of breath, anxious, emotionally distressed and had to leave.”

One teacher wet her pants during the drill and another injured his arm as he scuffled with a gunman at the door to his classroom, according to the suit.

What the fuck is wrong with people? Is this how it’s going to be, now? As if being a teacher doesn’t suck enough already, now we have charter school administrators inflicting mental torture on teachers, all in the interest of “safety” and “emergency preparedness”? Because we refuse to take even the smallest, teeniest, tiniest steps to keep school shootings like Sandy Hook, Columbine and Heath High School from happening again and again?

America, you’ve got a problem.

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Filed under gun control, gun violence, Guns

Partners, Milwaukee-Style

[UPDATE]:

The story ended in a predictable way. The suspect who shot the van driver and accidentally shot his teenage nephew has taken his own life. Story of a gun.

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NRA convention speaker/Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, January 2013:

“I’m Sheriff David Clarke, and I want to talk to you about something personal … your safety. It’s no longer a spectator sport; I need you in the game, but are you ready? With officers laid-off and furloughed, simply calling 911 and waiting is no longer your best option.”

Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn, April 15, 2015:

“What did we have Sunday? We had some clown take the law into his own hands and murder a guy who was doing what we expect good citizens to do, and oops, accidentally kill somebody else.”

Well, isn’t this completely, totally predictable. When you have one group of people constantly yammering about how you have the right–no, the obligation–to defend yourself and your family and a gun is the answer to every problem and your home is your castle etc. etc. etc. then mistakes will be made.

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Filed under gun violence, Guns

Playing Cop

“Why was a 73-year-old insurance company executive riding around playing cop?”

This question was asked by the Washington Post in reference to the tragic story of a Tulsa, OK “reserve cop” who accidentally shot and killed an unarmed black man last week. He says he meant to use his taser, but used his gun by mistake:

When Robert Bates pulled his weapon and shot 44-year-old Eric Harris on April 2, he said he thought his handgun was his Taser. In a video released by authorities over the weekend, a gunshot fires and Bates says, “Oh, I shot him. I’m sorry.” The incident was one of two shootings this month in which a white officer shot and killed an unarmed black man — and it has created a backlash for many reasons, one being Bates is not a real police officer. He’s a reserve sheriff’s deputy. And some fear he wasn’t qualified to be one.

So who are these “reserve officers” out on the streets playing cop? The Post tells us they’re insurance salesmen, bankers, lawyers, teachers. They are movie stars like Steven Seagal and Lou Ferrigno, and NBA stars like Shaquille O’Neal.

And what the hell are they doing patroling our streets, armed with tasers and guns?

It’s all part of the big push to outsource community policing from the public police force (and their unions, and pensions) to private citizens which I touched on last week. While conservatives and the NRA and other groups like to go on and on about “the right of citizens to protect themselves and their families,” what’s really going on here is a dismantling of a public function handled by public employees and turning it over to ordinary individuals.

These volunteer “reserve officers” are just another piece of that general philosophy. The fact that it’s being implemented by the local police and sheriff’s office just tells me they’ve bought into a narrative that has devalued their training and expertise and tells ordinary citizens that this is a job any asshole can do.

This is the issue underlying our gun debate, and it’s one we haven’t discussed because nobody seems to realize it’s even going on. So now we have “Glock Blocks” — a stepped-up form of neighborhood watch, now with firepower:

Tolomon and a group of Jennings Lodge neighbors say they’re responding to escalating crime on their block by also making fliers that read “This is a Glock block. We don’t call 911.”

It’s mostly petty crime that neighbors are sick and tired of: stolen lawn ornaments, vandalism. But for neighbors like Tolonen, a breast-cancer survivor, that’s enough: “I will defend myself — and my home,” she told KOIN 6 News.

Shooting at someone who stole your Lily Rose lawn ornament is not exactly the best, most appropriate response. But as yet another American institution fails, this is what happens. This is how civil society crumbles.

And then you have useful idiots like Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, NRA hero, who famously recorded a PSA telling the citizens to not bother calling 911, but to instead arm themselves:

“With officers laid off and furloughed, simply calling 911 and waiting is no longer your best option,” Clarke intones.

While I don’t buy into Clarke’s fearmongering about dangerous criminals lurking behind every bush — crime rates have consistently fallen as the population ages — he has a point. Our national infatuation with tax cuts tax cuts tax cuts has cut services at all levels of government, finally reaching once-sacred cows like local law enforcement and education. Shit needs to be paid for, but since we’re unwilling to do that these days, we’ll just have to take matters into our own hands. Let’s all homeschool our kids and get carry permits. Maybe we can operate our own water and sewage treatment plants, too. “Public” functions have been denigrated and devalued — no wonder, they don’t function so well on starvation budgets — and people are left to think they can do this stuff better themselves.

And that’s why our state legislature wants ordinary citizens out armed and concealed-carrying, in parks and schools and everywhere else. They don’t have to pay for that, do they? These are volunteers “playing cop,” too. People who may do something stupid like shooting themselves accidentally checking to see if the gun is loaded (news flash: it was!). Or, here’s one out of David Clarke’s home turf: a guy driving a van accidentally hits a toddler who ran out into the street. When he gets out of the van to check on the child, someone shot and killed him — and the teenager who was with him. For some reason. This is justice, American-style. We don’t need no 911, no police force, no judicial system. We’ll be judge and jury and executioner, too. Welcome to modern America.

This is how civil society dies. It starts by denigrating all things public — public employees, public schools, public servants of all kinds. Make “public” a bad word, tell everyone you can do a better job yourself (or the private sector can).

You can pretend it’s all about freedom and self-protection and defending your castle, but stop kidding yourselves. It’s about the slow descent into anarchy you guys have been fearmongering about. You’re the useful idiots pulling the string that will unravel our society and you don’t even realize it.

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Filed under Guns