I Call BS

Land of the Reiching Sun? A Conflict Without Heroes

nazi eastern girl

From the Inferno.

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A few days back, I had the displeasure of reading a clickbait “article”, on the misleadingly named Dangerous Minds blog, concerning the Far Eastern fondness for Nazi aesthetics. I made the mistake of thinking I’d get something momentarily interesting out of doing so, only to have that meagre hope mangled upon reading the first fucking sentence:

The concept of “Asian Nazis” is, of course, an extremely WTF??? proposition from the very start.

Nope – that’d be your starting statement, dickhead!

Gazing upon that atrocity of an assertion, I prepared myself for a screed from the shortbus – and, boy, did the rest of the piece align with that realignment!

Other standout sentences from this point ‘n’ shriek parade included…

….how many of these self-styled Asian Nazis have even met a Jew? Even a single Jew?

…and the not-at-all Nazi-like sentiment…

These people should be strapped to chairs and forced to watch Schindler’s List with their eyes pinned open like Alex in A Clockwork Orange.

Ironically, by setting out to shame far-Eastern Nazi-cosplayers  for their “profound ignorance” and “low intelligence”, the writer only succeeds at signalling his own, mainly by way of a geo-historical myopia and a wholesale digestion of the prevalent Saturday-morning-cartoon narrative of the Second World War.

(more…)

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Sandy Survivors Tell the American Story?

By The Digger

Do Hurricane Sandy survivors tell the American Story? I believe the answer is both yes and no. In defense of the yes answer, I believe that these “survivors” illustrate just how deranged our language has become with its descriptors. In defense of the answer no, I believe that many of us are still just tethered enough to reality to recognize that we are observing bullshit disguised as a lexicon of victimization.

Check out this story about two “survivors” of Hurricane Sandy, and ask yourself if you would want to be mentioned as a “survivor” in the context that Joe Frystock and his son Matthew find themselves mentioned.

First, I offer full disclosure. I am a “survivor” of multiple hurricanes. The first memorable brush I experienced with counter clockwise cyclonic devastation was Hurricane Elena in the 1980’s. I was forced to spend the night in an evacuation shelter on the campus of the University of South Florida. My neighborhood emerged from the night with minimal damage thanks to Elena charting a more preferred course of obliterating Louisiana. Note to casual observers: strong anecdotal evidence exists to suggest that Louisiana is a terrible place to remain when a major hurricane enters the Gulf of Mexico.

If you see this on your local weather forecast you should definitely haul ass in the other direction.

If you see this on your local weather forecast you should definitely haul ass in the other direction.

My second memorable engagement was with Hurricane Georges in 1998. That storm caused me to suffer. I was living in Isabella, Puerto Rico at the time. My little cottage was on a hillside, only fifty paces from a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. I had a mango tree, 2 coconut palms and an avocado tree in my yard, as well as a majestic flamboyant tree to frame my idyllic little slice of heaven.

Alas my tree!

The storm windows were fine against coconuts travelling at eighty or ninety miles per hour at short distances, and the husks around the windward windows the next day bore testimony to the truth in that advertising. Those same windows on the leeward side were no match for the roof of my neighbor’s gazebo, which became a fixture of my bedroom during what appeared to be the work of a tornado. My flamboyant tree was destroyed. The place had gone from my refuge of rest to a post apocalyptic vision of Caribbean living.

A year and a half later, I was living on another island working at a job that, as it turns out, remains categorized as the best paying job I have ever landed. Ironically, it was a job in the non-profit sector. More than surviving, I had learned the art of thriving. I believe that happened because I didn’t have other acceptable options, and it turns out that disaster creates a thriving sector in society.

“The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.” – Alexis de Tocqueville

I don’t know anything about Joe and Matthew Frystock, except that they are prominently mentioned as “survivors” of Hurricane Sandy who were living in a motel almost a year and a half after the storm had passed, and as a result of their FEMA benefits expiring. FEMA benefits? I’d never known such a thing existed when I was air drying my bed on the porch after it had become waterlogged. I only knew I needed to borrow a friend’s hammock to prevent me having to sleep with the centipedes.

At this point, many would assume that I am preparing a tirade on the narcissism that a person exhibits when leading with a label like “victim” or “survivor.” I have no way to judge the character of Joe or Matthew along those lines, other than that they are listed in the newspaper as Hurricane Sandy survivors. If they’re comfortable with those labels, I feel great sympathy for them because they not only lost their house; they lost the human dignity that is requisite to recover from tragedy. I didn’t get a new house and job because I was a paragon of virtue; I got them because the idea of being a bum was so frightening to me that I couldn’t bear it. I acted through fear, not fortitude, and was able to keep my dignity intact.

Conspiracy Alert: What follows is a conspiracy theory. The lexicon of victimization was created by a thriving industry that NEEDS victims. Non-profits can be profitable enterprises that pay people on par with the profit earning sector. Getting a job in the non-profit sector used to mean that a person was forgoing the wages and prestige of the business world to make a difference. Now, backed by grants from both the public and private sector, many of these organizations and agencies pay on par with comparable work in the for-profit world.

The government loves the non-profit sector. That’s an industry that exists at the leisure of its funding sources, and the government is happy to pump money taken under duress from private companies and individuals to keep those funding levels high. The non-profits also provide another layer of liability and “deniability” protection for the government that funds them.

The non-profits need victims to exist. In a better world, non-profits would have less people to feed, clothe, retrain in new jobs and the list could stretch for paragraphs. Basic human nature is to seek the easiest route to comfort. Why on earth would I go to work every day if I could sit at home and collect food, money and all of life’s other necessities at little or no cost other than wearing a label? Make me a victim, help me to believe that I am enough for my conscience to be soothed, and then give me basic needs and I might be tempted to wear that label proudly. That’s what non-profits are happy to do.

I believe that a conspiracy to create victims is the reason we have so goddamned many of them now. Those victims feed an industry. According to the Urban Institute, “The growth rate of the nonprofit sector has surpassed the rate of both the business and government sectors.” (See the report here.) Sure, some victims are narcissistic parasites who thrive on the attention their “victimization” draws.

But many “victims” and “survivors” are nothing more than statistical reference points in a grant cycle. They feed an industry that siphons money away from actual production and growth, and re-channels it into an industry that serves at the leisure of a small and privileged class that enjoys playing god with society. And that’s bullshit.

Stopping “Gun Violence” With Background Checks?

By The Digger

Stopping “gun violence” with background checks; it’s a noble idea worthy of serious consideration. Or, it could be a steaming Pamplin pile* of bullshit served up by the disarmament sector (incorrectly labelled as “gun control advocates”). Josie Henderson, executive director of the Oregon Public Health Alliance, and Dr. James P. Scott, president of the National Physicians Alliance, argue that background checks can and will reduce “gun violence” in Oregon. Be advised that the use of the word “argue” should be taken in its broadest sense here. And, I call bullshit.

Without the aid of an internet search, can anyone name a single victim of the Clackamas Town Center shooting? I can’t, and I’m not ashamed. I’m human. Humans can’t mourn everyone who meets a tragic demise. We’d be clinically insane within a week if we bore strong emotional ties to every single human on Earth. Henderson and Scott begin their essay Block gun violence with background checks with the rhetorical flourish that all of us still mourn this event. Waving the bloody shirt is always a tactic best employed when facts don’t support one’s argument. In this instance, that tactic is a symptom of a much deeper problem.

Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The problem to which I refer is America’s, and Oregon’s, inability to have an honest discussion about reality. The background check debate is useless, and Oregon already has background checks on gun purchases. I know; it costs me an extra fifteen dollars every time I add to my collection. Henderson and Scott pinpoint the reality in Oregon, and brush it aside in favor of the pursuit of a political orthodoxy that accomplishes little.

The report that they cite uses flawed data that attempts to correlate gun fatalities with gun laws. That data, partly provided by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, shows that New York, California, and Illinois are all theoretically better off than Oregon where gun violence is concerned. Is anyone convinced that the streets of New York, Chicago and Los Angeles are safer than Portland’s? Using a mind-numbing formula similar to the climate change “Hockey Stick,” the report attempts to show that more gun laws lead to less “gun violence.” For those wondering, I place “gun violence” within the parameters of quotation here not because I believe that gun violence does not exist, but because I do not believe that suicide should count as “gun violence,” as the disarmament sector does.

The report relies entirely on correlation of faulty numbers, and if we were to assume that simple correlation is a valid scientific support for policy, is it safe to assume that the Oregon Public Health Association will be advocating against vaccines, since there is an indisputable simple correlation between increased inoculations and the growth of autism diagnoses in the last ten years? Of course they’ll never make a moronic argument like that against vaccines, because it makes no sense. But they are more than willing to make such an argument in favor of steps toward disarmament because it’s convenient, and many people will buy it based on a limited knowledge of scientific rigor as applied to statistics, which is almost an oxymoron in itself. Remove the suicides from the statistical models, and not even correlation exists to support the ludicrous assertions of the report.

The most offensive statement that Henderson and Scott make is a rhetorical flourish of the “us versus them” variety. “Pundits may debate the efficacy of background checks, but research shows that background checks work.” As I’ve just outlined, the “research” shows no such thing. But those kooky pundits can be so misleading. This sentence is the soul – using that word in the most contorted context possible – of this Pamplin pile. It is nearly as intellectually offensive as “the science is settled.”

Sadly, however, that is not the furthest extent of the intellectual dishonesty in Henderson and Scott’s essay. In the paragraph prior to the citation of the spurious report, they demonstrate that eighty-two percent of Oregon’s “gun violence” is suicide. Suicide is usually the direct result of an acute mental health crisis. The fact is that mental health crises have a causal relationship with “gun violence,” not a correlation. If background checks were effective in preventing suicidal people from obtaining firearms, the background check would only insure that morphine, razor blades, or rope stand to have a precipitous decline in public approval ratings. That’s the problem with reality that Henderson and Scott blithely skim and ignore.

Why didn’t Henderson and Scott raise the alarm about a mental health issue responsible for eighty-two percent of “gun violence” in Oregon? The best answer to that question is that mental health is a far more complex and difficult discussion than guns. Guns, in the hands of law abiding citizens are tools. A butter knife in the hands of a person suffering from severe mental illness can be a lethal weapon. It’s easier to advocate against guns than it is to advocate for a person cursing, screaming, and defecating on the sidewalk.

Also, mental health crises delve into complex arguments about societal responsibility, liberty and involuntary incarceration. At what point is it necessary to deprive someone of his or her freedom in the interest of protecting his or her health? Should society even concern itself with the notion of preventing someone who wants to die from committing suicide? After all, euthanasia is legal in Oregon. Perhaps we should provide a more humane, thoughtful and much less messy way for a person to willingly terminate his or her status as a consumer/human resource.

I won’t be holding my breath in anticipation of that debate. Gun laws are a much more convenient discussion. And they’re all the rage among the hip these days. That’s usually the story with bullshit.

*A Pamplin Pile – Named in honor of Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr. – An offensive pile of bullshit that is published, archived and then allowed to remain unchallenged by any other rational arguments or divergent points of view. A phenomena previously reserved for the likes of Pravda, et. al.