Our American Dream being a nightmare

I’m listening to a late night CBS news broadcast try to make sense of Vester Flanagan’s shooting of three people in Virginia. To hear them tell it he was a dangerous man on a quest for fame. In his fax to ABC news Vester confessed admiration for notorious mass shooters, therefore that’s got to be the problem. LiveScience makes the argument:

Early this morning (Aug. 26), a former employee at a local news station in Virginia allegedly killed a reporter and a cameraman on-air, while filming the shooting with a GoPro camera. He later posted the film to social media. …the apparent desire to broadcast the crime places the killer in the same company as many notorious mass shooters of the past decade.

“Especially some of the younger ones — they want attention,” said Mary Muscari, a forensic nurse at Binghamton University in New York who has studied revenge-driven mass killers. “That’s why you see them wanting to have a bigger head count, a bigger body count, to try to outdo the last one…”

To that I politely reply ‘bullshit.’ My understanding of this brutal phenomenon isn’t that these killers want to be famous as much as they want to be consequential. In fact, they almost all seem to believe they’re a goddamn big deal while the rest of the world has been conspiring to knock them down. Like a basketball player who puts up 50 points a night while the fans are chanting “you suck.” Or like the guy who writes the Great American Novel but big-name publishers keep throwing it in the trash.

These people are fully convinced of their eminence while everybody else is unaware. It’s as if the entire world could only see right through them. That’s a situation that makes for dangerous frustration.

A recent study on the prevalence of mass shootings in certain countries touched on this briefly. There were two essential reasons why America has only 1/20th the world’s population but 1/3 of its mass shootings. One:

“My study provides empirical evidence, based on my quantitative assessment of 171 countries, that a nation’s civilian firearm ownership rate is the strongest predictor of its number of public mass shooters,” commented Adam Lankford, associate criminal justice professor at the University of Alabama. “Until now, everyone was simply speculating about the relationship between firearms and public mass shootings. My study provides empirical evidence of a positive association between the two.”

And Two:

“In the United States, where many individuals are socialised to assume that they will reach great levels of success and achieve ‘the American Dream,’ there may be particularly high levels of strain among those who encounter blocked goals or have negative social interactions with their peers, coworkers, or bosses,” he said.

“When we add depression, schizophrenia, paranoia, or narcissism into the mix, this could explain why the US has such a disproportionate number of public mass shooters. Other countries certainly have their share of people who struggle with these problems, but they may be less likely to indulge in the delusions of grandeur that are common among these offenders in the US, and, of course, less likely to get their hands on the guns necessary for such attacks.”

The American Dream is a big problem. The toxic idea that you, or this Vester character, will be rewarded with enormous power very soon is laughable. Though the miraculous event happens rarely to any of us, that fact must not be mentioned because the lurid fantasy is our national religion. You must believe that you’ll be fabulously wealthy and well-respected in the future. Heck, it’s practically the reason many of us go on living day after day. In a world where the Kardashians exist, there must be a few million dollars and an insider biography on the way for me as well, right?

The idea is so prevalent and pervasive that marginal personalities with massive self-obsessions can gorge themselves upon it without reservation. That makes for a dangerous game with enormous stakes. If the little people around you can’t even see what a Big Deal you are, how will you ever be ceded the stunning influence and privilege you’re owed?

The other instances involved Flanagan pressuring his accompanying photographer to record an interview in a certain way, forcefully repeating his demands in a way that made both the photographer and the interviewee uncomfortable.

“I’m not trying to be an asshole but the shaky video isn’t going to work,” he purportedly told the photographer before demanding that they redo the interview.

They just couldn’t see how great Flanagan was.

His last day at work was recorded in exhaustive detail in another series of memos. Flanagan met with Dennison and another boss in his office. There Flanagan was informed he would be terminated. When he was presented with the severance package, Flanagan reportedly became angry and called it “bullshit”.

A second memo detailing his termination records Flanagan as yelling: “I’m not leaving, you’re going to have to call the f###ing police [sic],” Flanagan reportedly said, according to the memo. “Call the police. I’m not leaving. I’m going to make a stink and it’s going to be in the headlines.”

You can imagine reading the New York Times’ the next day: FLANAGAN REFUSES TO BE FIRED. His seeing himself as larger than life is palpable.

Flanagan then suggests that, after leaving WDBJ-7, he was offered a job at a station in Pennsylvania, but WDBJ-7 persuaded the Pennsylvania station to rescind the offer.

“I got to the point, this time around, where I wasn’t even looking for a job. I don’t need to deal with workplace bullies anymore. THAT is what lawmakers need to focus on,” he adds…

“The church shooting was the tipping point…but my anger has been building steadily…I’ve been a human powder keg for a while…just waiting to go BOOM!!!!”

He chronicles the “tough times” he’s faced, including some “financial crashes.” He says he used to work as a male escort but, “I am proud of it” because he “made thousands.”

He never did anything wrong, but somehow his old station managed to scotch his new job. If that isn’t a call for lawmakers to tackle the bullying problem, I don’t know what is. Then there was the Charleston shooting, which was so horrible that it was necessary for Vester to go out and conduct one of his own. And, no, he doesn’t regret being a male escort because it made him a lot of money. BOOM, as the kids say. It’s hard to understand why nobody could appreciate him.

A final point to be made here: These strangely impotent people are not necessarily American. They’re everywhere. The problems only occur after America convinces one of them – as it often does the rest of us – that they’re destined for greatness. That they are uniquely un-qualified for it and will never be rich, powerful or universally worshiped are truths that must be rejected, to the point of violence. To them, it’s the people who would say as much that are the losers. Which must make their lives like something of a cruel joke, as if they were asked to join a Christian church and then told that no one – least of all Jesus Christ – could ever love them.

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Ted Cruz the apocalyptic beast

A vicious man on the campaign trail. In June we were hit with this horrible news:

Beau Biden, a former Delaware attorney general, died on Saturday of brain cancer at age 46. President Barack Obama is to deliver the eulogy at a funeral Mass for Biden on Saturday in Wilmington, Delaware, the White House said on Tuesday.

Ted Cruz responded…

…on Wednesday in Michigan: “Joe Biden … You know what the nice thing is? You don’t even need a punch line.”

Everybody point and laugh at the man burying his son. Ha ha ha dig graves much, pal?

Two days ago we were shocked to hear this:

And then Jimmy Carter spoke, with the lilt of a South Georgia farmer and the pragmatic frankness of a seasoned executive, about the cancer that had been removed from his liver, but was more recently discovered in his brain…

“I’m perfectly at ease with whatever comes,” Mr. Carter said, speaking before the news media here at the Carter Center, the nonprofit dedicated to global health and democracy that he co-founded in 1982. “I do have a deep religious faith, which I’m very grateful for.”

Metastatic melanoma of the liver and brain is fatal. It’s not a question of whether it will end his life, it’s a question of when. We wish the president the best in a long and productive fight against cancer. Yesterday Ted Cruz was at it again.

I think the parallels between this administration and the Carter administration are uncanny. Same failed domestic policy, same misery, stagnation and malaise…

- disclaimer -

Obama boom

…same feckless and naive foreign policy. In fact, the exact same countries, Russia and Iran, openly laughing at and mocking the president of the United States.

Ted Cruz is a hyena. Wherever misery and death appear he bares his fangs and starts tearing away. Can Biden or Carter possibly defend themselves in terrible times? Of course they can’t. So this is all by design. Pity the mangy beast polling at 7%, it’s the only meal he’s had in weeks. Do Republicans cringe at this viciousness, or do they like it?

GOP presidential hopeful Ted Cruz is the anointed one, according to Iowa state campaign chairman Matt Schultz…

“God raises special men and women to protect his people, and I believe this is one of those moments in time. … Ted Cruz is that man who God has prepared for this moment in time.”

Of course, they like it – they love it. Why else would insult comic Donald Trump be doing so spectacularly? Incidentally there’s a Revelations parallel in the Ted Cruz Story I think, ‘born of a jackal’ and all that. Hell, if you want to call him the Antichrist I won’t complain. See also: The GOP has become the party of infantile rage

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Great Fails Montana

I don’t hold out for Red State America figuring it out any time soon. Though they are good people, hard working and honest as the day is long, these folks aren’t exactly hip to what’s going on. That the bright lights of the Great Falls Tribune would fall prey to Both Sider-ism is sad but not at all surprising. Gosh but it’s horrible…

…how entrenched political beliefs, name calling, and personal attacks can be used in an attempt to squelch discussion or debate of important issues.

It’s a damn shame. But look out here comes the No Teams Team. These are three straight-shooting op-ed pals who never get mired in hidebound political beliefs or mindless talking points. No Teams means to tell you the truth.

In response to the Tribune’s publication of the cartoon, it received a number of outraged letters decrying “the racist aspect of the cartoon,” and the Tribune as “racist by nature.” NARAL Pro-Choice MT tweeted against the cartoon with the tags “#racism #misogyny.”

The problem, though, is that the cartoon is not, in itself, racist. Instead, the point of the cartoon was to accuse Planned Parenthood of racism.

Kill black babies kill!

The No Teams Team got that right. McCoy is only accusing Planned Parenthood of genocidal racism, which isn’t racist per se. Thankfully though the much-respected No Siderist Creed demands the analysts now turn their full focus upon the cartoonist’s outrageous claims:

…there could be reasons other than racism why 78 percent Planned Parenthood centers are located in minority neighborhoods, assuming that fact is even true (We couldn’t affirm or discredit it. According to Planned Parenthood, “73 percent of Planned Parenthood health centers are located in rural or medically under-served areas.”

Are 78 percent of Planned Parenthood centers in minority neighborhoods? Sadly, No! The No Teams’ half-hearted attempt to assess this claim was easily trumped by the 30 seconds it took me to debunk it.

The casual lie appears to go back to a pro-life group called Protecting Black Life, who says of Planned Parenthood…

79% of its surgical abortion facilities are located within walking distance of African American or Hispanic/Latino neighborhoods.

You see the problem. The claim isn’t that 79% of Planned Parenthood’s centers are in minority neighborhoods, it’s that they’re within walking distance of them. This is a lot like a germophobe claiming there’s no difference between having herpes and knowing somebody who has it.

Their own map shows six Planned Parenthood centers here in Los Angeles, and every one of them is somehow smack dab in a ‘minority neighborhood.’ But then, how could it be otherwise? What white Los Angeles enclave can’t be walked into? Beverly Hills is, what, two miles from Culver City? Palos Verdes is next door to San Pedro. Scenic Santa Monica has black people living in it…as we speak! The Lake St. clinic in Pasadena, about a mile off the traditional route of the Rose Parade, is apparently situated in an African-American and Hispanic community. But if you wanted a little home cookin’ to settle yourself after an abortion, I wouldn’t expect to find any soul food there.

…we think that these writers likely support Planned Parenthood in the recent controversy about exchanging fetal tissue (or baby body parts, depending on your point of view) for money, and find it is much easier to simply smear P.P.’s critics with the racism charge than discuss the rather unpleasant allegations on the merits.

The unpleasant allegations of science and research? The ugly implications of working to cure Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and the like? With a modicum of courage your No Teams Team could instead take on the allegations of “black babies” being murdered, as the cartoon suggested. Why not ask whether or not that’s actually true? How about doing an investigative report on Planned Parenthood’s uberfuhrers, black women? Why doesn’t Gary McCoy have the balls to take them on? Why don’t you?

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Wishing for mortal tragedy is not a Hot Take

Kristen McQueary writes for the Tribune.

Envy isn’t a rational response to the upcoming 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

But…I find myself wishing for a storm in Chicago — an unpredictable, haughty, devastating swirl of fury. A dramatic levee break. Geysers bursting through manhole covers. A sleeping city, forced onto the rooftops.

That’s what it took to hit the reset button in New Orleans.

Is that what happens after you and your family drown? Someone hits the reset button? Somehow Kristen skipped right over the part where tens of thousands flee the devastation, emergency workers pour in to minister to the sick and dying, and to retrieve all the corpses, and then at some point everybody sits down at a table and tries to figure out whether New Orleans should become the World’s Biggest Shrimp Farm.

Residents overthrew a corrupt government. A new mayor slashed the city budget, forced unpaid furloughs, cut positions, detonated labor contracts. New Orleans’ City Hall got leaner and more efficient. Dilapidated buildings were torn down. Public housing got rebuilt. Governments were consolidated…

Hurricane Katrina gave a great American city a rebirth.

I understand how a bad writer can call the aftermath of a near-death experience a “rebirth.” But if your politics are such that you wish a mass-murdering catastrophe upon a city in order to slash budgets, force unpaid furloughs and lay off thousands of people – workers who may or may not be dead – you’re worse than just bad.

Suppose that I didn’t like the attitude of a certain writer. What if I then wrote about an incident where he or she went through a near-death experience, like being shot or raped? What if I claimed they had undergone a “rebirth” and become better people?

Would it be alright for me to wish it would happen to Kristen McQueary? Would that be a good editorial? No. It would not.

I wish you’d go away.

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To be as decent (or deadly) as Ruth Marcus

Sometime in September Congress will have to vote on Obama’s anti-nuke agreement with Iran. And the Republicans have been kind enough to tell us their innermost thoughts about that. They’ve pointed out the uncanny similarities between the president and Neville Chamberlain and warned us that the Jews will once again be marched to the ovens.

For the rest of us – including the treaty’s chief proponent – this is all B-movie stock and laughably absurd and worthy of some eye-rolling. For WaPo columnist Ruth Marcus though the un-seriousness on our part is greatly paining and, we assume, the reason she has taken to the Op-Ed pages to raise her finger, wave it around and lecture this – dear, what shall we call him? – this “president.” And I think I speak for everyone when I say ‘thank you Ruth’ because I’m not sure where we’d all be without the Stepford Wife of Centrism.

President Obama says those who oppose the Iran nuclear deal are either ideological or illogical. I support the deal, yet I think this assessment is incorrect and unfair. It diminishes the president’s case for congressional approval.

In Marcusville, the burgeoning Beltway exurb, the making of pointed arguments diminishes whatever arguments you’re making. You might think it convenient for one to have “facts”, and you may be of the opinion they argue substantially for one’s “side”, but saying them out loud is not a civilized way to practice politics. You never see Dwight Eisenhower behaving this way, do you? And for now let’s put aside that the General is long since dead and Ruth’s memory is completely shot. Let’s instead just agree that she knows a hooligan when she sees one.

Obama once understood, even celebrated, this gray zone of difficult policy choices…

The new Obama, hardened and embittered — the one on display in his American University speech last week and in the follow-up spate of interviews — has close to zero tolerance for those who reach contrary conclusions.

It’s a hardened and embittered president who would disagree with someone trying to trash his treaty. Why can’t he be more soft and cuddly, this man? Why can’t he take a little time to understand and then celebrate his opponents’ middle-ground objections?

“You have created a possible death sentence for Israel,” [Lindsey Graham] declared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“This is a virtual declaration of war against Sunni Arabs,” he said.

“This is the most dangerous, irresponsible step I have ever seen in the history of watching the Mideast. Barack Obama, John Kerry, have been dangerously naive,” he added.

Tough stuff. But had Graham actually seen the deal?

“No,” he admitted, when host Mika Brzezinski asked him.

For example, in this case, why can’t he say “I think I understand your criticism of my hard-won agreement, Senator Graham, which I take to be ‘Fuck You‘, and I want you to know that I will seriously take it under advisement.” Would that be so hard? “And I celebrate anyone, like you, with a Bomb Iran agenda.”

This Obama does not grant the legitimacy of his opponents’ concerns; he questions their bona fides in expressing them. “Many of the same people who argued for the war in Iraq are now making the case against the Iran nuclear deal,” he observed.

And in this case, just because John Bolton said these things about Iraq:

“We are confident that Saddam Hussein has hidden weapons of mass destruction and production facilities in Iraq.” He added that, “the Iraqi people would be unique in history if they didn’t welcome the overthrow of this dictatorial regime,” and that … “the American role [in post-war Iraq] actually will be fairly minimal.”

…it shouldn’t preclude him from joining the adult conversation. It doesn’t mean that his current opinions on Iran [NYT: “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran”] shouldn’t be discussed and ultimately validated:

The inconvenient truth is that only military action like Israel’s 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in Iraq or its 2007 destruction of a Syrian reactor, designed and built by North Korea, can accomplish what is required.

Bolton happens to be a vaunted Republican with dangerous opinions, why can’t the president accept that? Is it too much to ask he spend a little time listening to John thoughtfully? As well to all of his pact’s other critics, who only want what Israel does – that America never make any deal with Iran under any circumstances, no matter what the details?

I think having heard them all out, every last one of them, with all their identical opinions, the president could then make quite a convincing case. I think the Republicans would be very interested to learn about a particular provision I found personally compelling: Ratifying the Holocaust-appeasement would put it into effect for the next 10 years.

The more the president makes that case, the less he insults his critics — yes, even the ones who insult him as a feckless, naive negotiator — the better.

…and the more the president makes that case – yes, even to deaf ears, in deferential phrases and dulcet tones please – the better. Because ultimately the multi-national arglebargle, with all its designs on avoiding war and reducing nuclear stockpiles, isn’t really as important as fostering an air of starched civility and respect here at home. I believe all of this, incidentally, even though I’m only interested seeing it realized on the one side. Thanks everybody, I’m Ruth Marcus and this has been “Barack Obama: Embittered and unfair over Iran…”

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Stephen Hawking, Ashton Kutcher, and The Biggest Event In Human History

It’s not everyday I come across a bona fide scam.

CogniQ great human event

This was sitting in a Washington Post sidebar. Stephen Hawking says what? The Biggest Event In Human History, eh? Is it Cal Jam III? Well I wouldn’t want to miss that. *click*.

CogniQ CNN page

Breaking news from CNN! (see: http://www.cnn.com-news.report/us/brain01/cnn/hawking.php?sid=goo300_dw012l02&q=1asfacp)

In an interview with Anderson Cooper, Stephen Hawking said that his brain is sharer than ever, more clear and focused and he credits a large part to using Cogniq Hawking went on to add “The brain is like a muscle, you got to work it out and use supplements just like body builders use, but for your brain, and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing to enhance my mental capabilities”.

Everyone that has taken this, from athletes like Tom Brady to musicians like kanye West have nothing but praise for the brain booster, which doubles IQ, skyrockets energy levels and connects areas of the brain not previously connected.

I refuse to let the misspells, run-ons and punctuation throw me off the track. I don’t even care that it’s a picture of Wolf Blitzer – I want my brayne pillz! I wanna become one of America’s geniuses…

CogniQ bill gates

And:

CogniQ anderson cooper

Also:

CogniQ ashton kutcher

Not to mention:

CogniQ johnny depps favorite drug

Wait a minute – Stephen Hawking and Ashton Kutcher? What the hell’s going on here? Are you trying to pull some sort of con on me?

The Lead Researcher on the team Dr.Rosenhouse gave us an exclusive inside look at the ingredients that make up this revolutionary smart drug…

“We are all very grateful to have this now, as I believe it can help everyone on the planet and take us to the next stage of evolution. We’re very proud.”

Oh I see – a Jewish doctor discovered it. One of those highly-educated guys withnospace in his name. Well alright then, it must be legitimate.

Are you ready to take the next step in improving your life, feeling sharper and smarter than ever before and making millions or billions in the process?

“I wouldn’t have developed my patent formula if not for this amazingly incredible brain supplement .” – says Dr. Rosenhouse

“If I hadn’t been taking my own brayne pillz there’s no way I could have discovered them!” That’s the greatest testimonial ever. This supplement will bend both time and Johnny Depp to your will. Well, who wouldn’t want that?

With the full market release of the supplement scheduled for later this year, Cogniq is bound to make a splash. Experts say government intervention is likely to limit the release of the supplement due to its potent effects…

CogniQ

I contacted CNN. They have Don Lemon, they don’t care.


Note: I see the scammers have redirected the site. Very sneaky of them. As of now (3:00 PDT) it can still be seen here.

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Mister Gas Man, you’re gouging me

Driving back from San Francisco yesterday I got a little look inside the world of high-volume gasoline sales. You could also say I got a little look inside the world of ‘America’, given the gouging, grifting and daily making of folklore by our corporate overlords. But let’s just ask ourselves, once again…why are gas prices so high?

There are no pipelines connecting California to its neighbors; imports come slowly by ship or truck, panelists said. And state regulations require specific, clean-burning fuel blends.

That unique recipe – not recent adjustments to California’s cap-and-trade regulations – is the “fundamental problem” causing the price increase, said Jay McKeeman, vice president of the California Independent Oil Marketers Assn…

Prices surged in the aftermath of a Feb. 18 explosion at the Exxon Mobil Corp. refinery in Torrance. Tesoro Corp. idled processing at its Martinez, Calif., plant earlier that month in response to a strike.

It’s always the same with these guys: Costs. Fiscal burdens, capricious factors, production difficulties, refinery accidents, Summer blends that are really complicated, onerous regulation, and – of course – federal and state taxes. Obviously these guys aren’t making liquid gold from goo that just oozes from the Earth, they’re in the business of making space shuttles. In the dark.

And of all the burdens to competitive shuttle pricing the Number One Cost, the worst of the worst, is crude oil.

oil prices 2008 - present

Thank God oil prices have come down so significantly this year. It’s only less than half as expensive as it was last year. Compared to 2008, the cost is down by a full two-thirds. And keeping in mind all the industry experts and spokesmen who swear that costs are the real problem, and that nice people never lie, we can safely assume gas prices have fallen dramatically as well.

gas prices 2008 - present

But they haven’t. They’re actually rising dramatically. What gives?

The two charts show gas prices from 2008 tracking oil prices month to month, at least roughly. That is until this year. In 2015 while oil prices plummet, gas prices skyrocket. Which is weird because there are no new and outrageous costs to refinery and production – not on the scale of buying crude oil. So something else must be driving up the price of gasoline. Could it be the ignominious X Factor? Is it at all possible we’re seeing…non-competitive pricing? AKA collusion? And greed?

I think so. Coming back from the Bay Area yesterday I drove into the little town of Lost Hills about 4 o’clock to refill my truck with diesel. The town sits at the crossroads of one of two major East-West routes (the 46) between California’s San Joaquin Valley and the coast, and the state’s major North-South interstate, the I-5. There are thousands of cars whizzing by every hour.

Suffice it to say that selling fuel in Lost Hills is a lucrative business, and there are plenty of gas stations fighting it out. As I pulled up to the interstate, I saw a Mobil station on one side and a Valero on the other.

Lost Hills gas prices

The Valero was selling gallon diesel fuel $1.24 cheaper than the Mobil across the street. And no, the station wasn’t fronting a steak house and a casino, it wasn’t just pulling in the rubes. It was beating the hell out of its competitors. Clearly the profit margin for gasoline is currently huge, maybe as big as it’s ever been, and the retailers are raking it in.

I thought about that as I got back into the truck and pulled out toward the interstate. As I turned down the on-ramp, I briefly looked up and saw another major retailer sporting a big green sign. The Arco was selling diesel for $2.49 a gallon.

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Seven virgins and a mule, keep it cool, keep it cool.

Can you imagine a bunch of us liberals lavishing a great deal of our precious time and money on, say, a woman who decided not to get married, or start a family? Or on some hard-workin’ guy who happened to be in a union?

Not likely. But there’s a feeling among conservatives that they badly need to rally around those people who are doing it The Right Way. Because something something take back America. And so we get things like this:

First, shortly after the cancellation of 19 Kids and Counting, Duggar daughter Jill and husband Derick Dillard asked again for donations to their tax-deductible organization Dillard Family Ministries, which funds their evangelical work in Central America. The Dillards currently accept donations online with suggested monthly donations ranging from $15 to $100…

Then, shortly after TLC reportedly confirmed the cancellation of her wedding special two weeks ago, newly-engaged Duggar niece Amy gave out an address on Instagram for any fans who would like to send “cards and etc.,” promising to “personally hand write” a letter to anyone who sent a card or—wink, wink—an et cetera. Amy denied she had any financial motivations for the post.

“For us it’s not really about the gifts or money, but we would like the chance to personally thank everyone!” she wrote.

…for sending them gifts and money. After they specifically asked for it.

Next, on or around July 30, the social media hive mind spotted a donate button on the Duggar children’s YouTube channel Duggar Studios, which currently has just 15 videos, none of them longer than 10 minutes. The last video was uploaded three months ago and it is only 12 seconds long. After widespread outcry on Twitter, the donate button was removed.

I’d like to make a point here about the Duggars, or the Hendersons, being much more than merely humble people only doing things The Right Way. You can look at either clan and see the chainsaw-juggler in full effect – without even taking into account the child molestation – but that doesn’t really matter to them, now does it?

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Digital Cheetos du Goldberg (please like me on Facebook)

The highbrows over at National Review, in between sips of bitteroot, pinkies askew, are all murmuring in agreement that it’s time for all you Facebook Instagrams to calm the heck down.

Walter Palmer, it turns out, is far from the only American who enjoys bloodsport. That irony is, of course, lost on the hordes to whom it applies — the thousands of Twitter users and Yelp posters and (non-digital) protesters who have shut down Palmer’s Minneapolis dental practice and forced him into hiding, all because he shot a prized Zimbabwean lion earlier this month.

So the guy ties a carcass to his jeep, lures an animal out of some preserve, shoots it with an arrow, tracks the agonized beast for a couple days then decapitates it – so what? Since when is this any of your business? You only wanna raise a stink about it because you saw some stupid video on your computer, right? Yeah I thought so. Who do you think you are, huh? Kathryn Lopez?

David Daleiden of the Center for Medical Progress is in the news for his undercover work providing a window into Planned Parenthood — unveiling not just the harvesting of organs that is discussed on videos he’s released but also the dehumanization within the abortion industry. …his work has bludgeoned the euphemistic rhetoric that has been used to anesthetize us.

Hans von Spakovsky?

The undercover videos of Planned Parenthood personnel (such as medical director Deborah Nucatola and other employees) casually and coldly discussing the dismemberment of aborted babies have shocked and appalled millions of people.

Wait – where were we? Oh that’s right, we were discussing Plutarch and Postman. We were fretting over the disintegration of civilized society into grottos of gorming grossification, harumph:

The same effect [of TV news] is compounded beyond measure by the Internet, which has, in essence, made everything “news.” It’s no longer enough to care just about what we read in our local newspaper — about the daily business of our own locality… Did you know that Robert Mugabe…celebrated his 91st birthday in February by dining on baby elephant? Shouldn’t we all be outraged by that, too?

A psychic siege is taking place.

We have sadly descended into ’round the clock rage-aholism. We’re all too easily prodded by trumped-up controversies and gratuitous clips, readily supplied by that cheap bastard, “online”. Right, Michelle Malkin?

The gruesome hits keep coming for the baby butchers of Planned Parenthood. President Obama and his top health officials have one last-ditch response left: Quick, hide behind the imaginary mammogram machine!

Maggie Gallagher?

I tried, I really tried to explain to the GOP donor and pundit class that fighting abortion is part of a winning political strategy…

If you don’t believe me, look at the way Democrats are scurrying to figure out how to deal with videos proving Planned Parenthood, which donates big bucks almost exclusively to Democrats in order to ensure its taxpayer money keeps flowing, is bargaining cash for unborn babies’ lungs and livers.

Take that, butchers. No more hiding from the righteous and their digital audience hordes! Klieg lights, the ultimate disinfectant. Oh and if we’re going to poke fun at National Review for obliviousness, shouldn’t we check in with…

Ian Tuttle had a thoughtful meditation Thursday on Cecil the lion and the cultural perils of Internet outrage titled, coincidentally enough, “Cecil the Lion and the Cultural Perils of Internet Outrage.”

…Jonah Goldberg? The Internet outrage titled, coincidentally enough, “Jonah Goldberg”? We wouldn’t dream otherwise.

I’m not a huge fan of Huckabee, but the hysteria over his comments was know-nothing and hypocritical…

Huckabee: “It is so naive that he would trust the Iranians. By doing so, he will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.” Please see Roy about this.

I think part of the problem for Huckabee was that he talked of Jews and ovens, which still has the power to shock. The other part of the problem, of course, was that he spoke ill of Obama, which simultaneously infuriates and reassures liberals of a certain ilk.

Mike pretty much screwed the pooch by putting “Jews” and “ovens” – for some oddball reason – in some-what proximity to each other. This has been known to cause problems, like playing with matches near old film stock. It’s probably not something you were aware of, but bad things have happened to people who did it in the past. More keenly, and generally, though, it’s entirely know-nothing and very hypocritical for us to become angry (…otherwise, I suppose? I’m pretty sure the right-wing trope that Jews were once bad oven salesmen is a cliché, dammit.). Lastly…

…suffice it to say that at least part of what offends liberals about Hitler analogies isn’t the substance of them, it’s the violation of their monopoly license on them.

Pardon me, but aren’t you the man who proudly coined the term “Liberal Fascism”? Didn’t you write an entire book on the subject? Why yes I did. Your point being…?

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Zees Frenchman he is, how you say, fail

On the heels of Camille Paglia’s assessment that the Cosby-style rape of Monica Lewinsky would have been a more sophisticated affair, literally, had Bill Clinton been a proper fan of le style français I’m wondering what other contributions to sex and politics the French can be thanked for. Regular essayist at ‘The Week’ Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry comes to mind [fap fap].

Taking your own bemused look over the sweep of right-entrenched intelligentsia you might scratch out a list composed of the know-nothings (Bill Kristol, George Will), the warmongers (John Bolton, any name off the Bush docket), the racists (Tom Tancredo, Pat Buchanan), the social regressives (David Brooks, Michelle Malkin), the obsessives (Mollie Hemingway, John Fund), and the celebré hyenas (Chuck Norris and Ted Nugent). [obsv: The all-you-can-eat buffet at National Review features Goldberg, Hanson, Williamson, Charen, Lopez and, well, Bill Buckley.] But among all of them let’s not forget the happy warriors. They’re the Ronald Reagan types who have been utterly savaged by cruel neurological disorders and couldn’t be more thankful for it.

How the GOP became the party of ideas again

The most underappreciated story in U.S. politics is that the Republican Party is becoming the party of ideas again.

Political evolutions usually happen in cycles. When one party is dominant, it grows overconfident and lazy; when it loses an election or two, it realizes the need for fresh thinking and embraces it…

…and Senate Republicans just voted on the 55th repeal of Obamacare. PEG, as he’s known to his hospice pals, isn’t the least shy about airing his mystifying and non-sentient sentiments. And never you mind that a dessicated shell of his grey matter swings like a tatty banner in the breeze, Pee-Em is a much-celebrated Gallic Philosophe and all his bonne opinions des politiques zey are quite, how we say, boolshit.

First of all, it’s just impossible for Perry to have stayed governor of Texas for so long if he really is the person we saw on those debate stages. And secondly, his performance thus far in interviews has been excellent. He says he has spent the intervening years preparing for a presidential run, and it shows…

Bugs Bunny would have a field day with this guy.

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Camille Paglia on legitimate rape (…it’s French)

So Bill Clinton is just like Bill Cosby, is he?

Camille Paglia, the political and cultural critic, has been a brave and brilliant provocateur on Salon for almost 20 years now.

Of course the former president is. Because Camille Paglia, though not a brilliant writer, or person, wants to poke your eye with a stick.

Right from the start, when the Bill Cosby scandal surfaced, I knew it was not going to bode well for Hillary’s campaign, because young women today have a much lower threshold for tolerance of these matters.

…Monica Lewinsky–I mean, the failure on the part of Gloria Steinem and company to protect her was an absolute disgrace in feminist history! What bigger power differential could there be than between the president of the United States and this poor innocent girl?

Concerning sex acts between consenting non-comatose adults, the thing that distinguishes ‘assault’ from ‘adultery’ would be the power differential between the parties. Are you but an office secretary? And is he a millionaire? Or a corporate CEO? Is he the nation’s Commander-in-Chief? Then undoubtedly a crime has been committed and you need to go to the hospital immediately. No it doesn’t matter who started it or why, you’re a victim of extramarital intercourse…

It’s a very sophisticated style among the French, and generally in Europe, where the heads of state tend to have mistresses on the side. So what? That doesn’t bother me at all! But the point is, they are sophisticated affairs that the European politicians have, while the Clinton episode was a disgrace…

It was frat house stuff! And Monica got nothing out of it.

…unless you, poor innocent girl, happened to get a little something out of it. No I don’t mean bawdy pleasure or tawdry romance, or any of that other cheap psychological crap. I mean something tangible. Something real, and sophisticated. You know what I’m talking about – a little taste of the ka-ching Material Girl stuff…

Hillary was away or inattentive, and he used Monica in the White House–and in the suite of the Oval Office, of all places. He couldn’t have taken her on some fancy trip? She never got the perks of being a mistress; she was there solely to service him.

…like an all-expenses paid jaunt to Monte Carlo. Or some diamond earrings. Would it kill you to leave a little cash on the nightstand, Grampa? What exactly does an innocent girl have to do to earn a little respect around here? From Camille Paglia, to begin with?

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Theater shooter John Houser: Not much a drifter, very much a conservative

If you want to find out something about the Lafayette, Louisiana, theater tragedy you can get on the google and learn that shooter houser at a city council meetingJohn Russell Houser was something of a ‘mentally ill drifter’ from Phenix City, Alabama. Then, if it interests you, you can try to learn more about Houser and google him - and that’s when you find out that he was as much a well-to-do conservative firebrand as he was anything else. It may be that Houser’s struggles with mental illness came and went, and that he spent some short time as a ‘drifter’ toward the end, but it was certainly true he’d been a conservative activist all his life.

Houser was born in the mid-1950s to a wealthy conservative family in Phenix City’s neighbor, Columbus, Georgia. His mother and father came from prominent families, and his father won a local seat as tax commissioner. As far back as everyone can remember Houser hated African-Americans and women.

This weekend, friends from Columbus High School remembered him as odd, and said a more mean-spirited mindset seemed to lock in place when desegregation came to the school.

“He was a racist,” said Fife Whiteside, a longtime acquaintance. “He always had this racist rhetoric.”

Race was not Houser’s only interest. Calvin Floyd, a talk radio host who knew him, told the Washington Post he had “an issue with feminine rights” and said: “He was opposed to women having a say in anything.”

Instead of homelessness and drifting, Houser chose college and eventually earned a degree in accounting. He later went to law school and earned a law degree, though he never to took the bar and never practiced law. As an entrepreneur, Houser owned at least two businesses: Rusty’s Buckhead Pub, and the Peachtree Pub. He and his conservative buddies liked to hang around in his bars and talk right-wing politics.

As he grew older, he grew even more conservative. He was virulenty anti-government, anti-tax, and frequented whatever local city council meetings he could find to say so.

Houser indicated that he frequently spoke out about wasteful spending at Columbus City Council and Water Board meetings, and the city’s former mayor said he remembered him.

“He came to many City Council meetings and he was in tune with a lot of issues that were going on in the community,” said Superior Court Judge and former mayor Bobby Peters. “He was very outspoken, highly intelligent, really didn’t trust government and anything about government.”

“He always thought something was going on behind the scenes,” Peters continued. “He came across with a very conservative agenda.”

He even confronted local politicians.

Whiteside won the [school board] position, but later made [tax] decisions that Houser didn’t like. Mild support turned into virulent animosity.

“One night I was at my office,” Whiteside said, “working late. I had the lights on. I thought I heard something outside, so I made my way over to a window and looked out – there was Rusty, spying in my bushes. Looking back at me.”…

Whiteside said Houser unleashed an anti-tax rant that seemed endless. “It took me forever to get him out of my office,” Whiteside said. Houser liked to work out at the local YMCA, and “in a fist fight he would have been a formidable opponent. I was never afraid of him but I guess, looking back now, that was my mistake.”

Like almost all conservatives, he was rabidly homophobic:

But Hostilo noted that Houser wasn’t always mellow. At a public water board meeting about a rate hike, Hostilo recalled his friend “went off on homosexuals controlling the city.”…

Two years ago, the two crossed paths at a barbecue restaurant and Houser sat down at his table. He said Houser immediately started complaining about the Obama administration and decrying the attack on Confederate heritage.

“He said people were out to destroy the Confederacy, that they want to destroy our heritage,” Hostilo recalled. “And I said, ‘Who?’ and he said, ‘the homosexuals.’”

He despised liberals as well.

rusty houser facebook pageOn a Twitter account created in March 2013, a John Russell Houser with the handle @jrustyhouser had two single tweets:

“The Westboro Baptist Church may be the last real church in America (members not brainwashed),” he wrote June 5, 2013, talking about the church that protests military funerals.

The same day, he tweeted “If you don’t think the internet is censored, try reading a newspaper from a country that hates liberals the way I do.”

At some point he got married and bought a house in Phenix. But it was the end of that marriage that seems to have undone the furious right-winger. In part because of the divorce Houser apparently went bankrupt. He completely trashed the house and then, later, left Phenix City and moved into a Motel 6 in Louisiana. On Thursday he sat for 20 minutes watching Amy Schumer’s “Trainwreck” in a Lafayette theater before standing up and firing randomly at the audience, injuring nine and killing two. Then he killed himself. Does that make John Russell Houser really crazy? Or does that make him really angry, i.e., a diehard conservative?

One thing none of Houser’s former friends understand is why he was in Louisiana and how he could be described as a “drifter” by law enforcement. Hostilo said he believed Houser had been financially secure.

“I always understood his family was very wealthy and that he was very wealthy,” Hostilo said. “He’s not the kind of person I would have thought would drift away from everyone he knew.”

…but then…

“If you had told me the other day that five politicians on a city council had been shot, then I would have believed it was Rusty,” Hostilo said. “But when I heard it was innocent people in a movie, I just couldn’t believe it.”

Maybe he was both.

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