Wednesday, November 30, 2016

From the Vault: Virginia Tech and the Hysteria of Denial

Originally published April 22, 2007. Re-posted as the media blames Daesh for a Somali boy flipping out, just like they blamed North Korea for a mad nerd named Cho.

There’s something about a school shooting that makes everyone really really really stupid. In the past week, all the standard questions and attempted easy answers have been tossed around from easy access to firearms to the genetic disease of Asianess to Dan Brown-inspired jackassery about the shooter being some North Korean sleeper agent. Just enough to keep people nice and distracted from the much higher body counts coming out of Iraq everyday. Remember, deaths only count if they’re pretty white kids.

“But why did it happen? How could it happen?” wails the idiot public. Simple: he was pissy, he bought a gun. If this were Gaza or Fallujah, he would strap on a C4 vest. The Middle-east has human firecrackers, we have the Second Amendment. Why he was pissy, there’s the six-hundred-sixty-six dollar question people aren’t going to ask. Well, they’ll ask it but only in the rhetorical “Why do you hate America?” way. Because the answer is so glaringly obvious, it’s been the answer to every school and office massacre in this country since Charlie Whitman: Cho was picked on.

Bullied, abused, teased, however you want to say it, bottom line is the kid was shat on long enough he got fed up. Hell, he fucking lays it out in his video package for NBC:

Do you know what it feels to be spit on your face and to have trash shoved down your throat? Do you know what it feels like to dig your own grave? Do you know what it feels like to have throat slashed from ear to ear? Do you know what it feels like to be torched alive? Do you know what it feels like to be humiliated and be impaled upon on a cross? And left to bleed to death for your amusement? You have never felt a single ounce of pain your whole life. Did you want to inject as much misery in our lives as you can just because you can?

Now I’m no forensic psychiatrist... but that seems like a pretty clear statement Cho was bullied.

People scoff at this. “So he was teased, so what? That’s no reason to go off and kill a bunch of people!” And that’s exactly the kind of attitude that let’s these shootings happen. Nobody wants to talk about the elephant in the room, even when it starts shitting on everyone. Michael Moore touched on it, almost, in Bowling for Columbine, but chickened out and won an Oscar. Mark Ames has been screaming the truth for years and lives as an expat in Moscow: The whole of American culture is one of bullying and oppression! From Baghdad to El Salvador to Kabul to Littleton, we engage in a grand game of prison rules where the man on top makes you his bitch. When the whole of society is organized on this concept, how does Cho’s rampage, or any of the dozens of others strike anyone as surprising? When the world has forced you down in a hole, how is grabbing a gun not the sane thing to do?

Weep for Virginia Tech, but also weep for Seung-Hui Cho. An awkward, nerdy kid who became the target of the true American past time, who in a few hours of horror gave this country a bright shining chance for serious self-reflection, and who will be quickly forgotten by people who will not look into that mirror, who will never give up their god-given right to be assholes. And it will keep happening.

Monday, November 14, 2016

The First Hundred Days

So that happened.

American liberals, never ones for honest political analysis, are still filling social media with self-pity and whinging. They just cannot believe the country would be so backward as to not vote for the Wall Street loving neocon. They really thought George W. Bush in a pantsuit could win against a Philip K. Dick villain, having never known the nihilism that rises from daily desperation in the vast swath of America that has been made worse by globalization. There's so much noise, you almost miss the fact that Clinton won the popular vote with less votes than Romney scored in 2012. Because so few people, barely a third, could hold their nose and vote for either side of the shit sandwich that was Election 2016.

So many apocalyptic pronouncements have followed, like no one else lived through the Bush years. Although I have seen few comments on the worst part of a Trump presidency: Having to wake up and hear or hear about that lump of obesity and cocaine for four years. Trump's voice sounds like his ass smells, making political reporting even more disgusting.

But let's try to think calm and cold about this. So many parody articles of "Trump's First 100 Days!" appeared during the campaign, penned by smug urbanites who thought neoliberalism would last a thousand years, but very few took a look at the man and the Beltway culture he would be entering. So here is a little bit of that honest political analysis that liberals spurned, along with the much more electable Sanders:

  • Trump's cabinet will be the same basket of has-beens as have already gravitated to his campaign. In keeping with the vicious mobsters he borrows money from, he will reward only those craven enough to flatter his enormous and fragile ego. Giuliani really will be Attorney General, finally giving libertarians something worth complaining about. Chris Christie will be Secretary of Transportation, or maybe of eating all the pies. It will look like one of those third-tier concert tours of aging Boomer rock stars.
  • The key point being it will not be like the Bush cabinet. Bush presided over not just an ideological movement but of ideologues who'd made "respectable" places for themselves in the halls of power stretching back to the Nixon years. Trump will have the men who lost out in that same system, all bluster and empty rolodexes. Networking matters to a depressing degree in actually getting legislation passed.
  • Speaking of - The great getting along promised by Congressional Republicans will last halfway through Trump's first Sate of the Union. In that time he will manage to insult the neck of Mitch McConnell, the height of Marco Rubio, and the sexual prowess of every potential ally in the Senate. Professional Republicans are a craven lot but there's just so much abuse even they will tolerate.
  • Tax cuts will still happen, though. Yuge tax cuts and a rollback of what tepid regulations have trickled through over eight years, returning the economy to the Bush model but without the housing bubble to make it look good. If you live outside New York or DC you will experience no difference from the past sixteen years. Even if you live in New York or DC you will only notice if you inherited real estate.
  • The promised growth sector will be all the labor and material needed for the big vanity wall on the Mexican border. This will never materialize, the actual construction disappearing into a labyrinth of contractors and subcontractors. Trump will utilize classic New York City building skills to make the most money for his golf buddies without actually building anything.
  • Small business owners across the country will think this is great because every small business owner is a shit-head.
  • Foreign policy will be exactly like it would have been under Clinton. NAFTA, NATO, etc., are the safest bets for the next eight years. Trump will preside over the same drone assassinations and forced sodomy that have characterized the War on Terror over the past two administrations. Libertarians will not care.
  • Finally, insurance companies will rally to the defense of the Affordable Care Act. Democrats will say this is a good thing. Whatever the result, you will still get enormous medical bills.

The ugliest thing about Election 2016 is how even the "upset" victory by Trump will not change business as usual. If you think otherwise, just look at the optimism on Wall Street. They know a toad will never drain its own swamp.