Uzis are not for children #arizona (derr)

In Arizona, there’s a place called Bullets and Burgers where you can have a hamburger, ride a monster truck and then go and shoot a .50 calibre sniper rifle or a machine gun. 

In Viet Nam there are shooting ranges you can visit where they have available AK-47s, M-60s and other war-era weapons to try out. Pay a little cash, shoot off a handful of rounds, the locals earn some money from the legacy of beating America’s arse out of their country, you get to live out your favourite ‘Nam-movie fantasy (or, perhaps & hopefully, get some perspective and insight on the war), everyone’s happy, noone’s dead.

Yesterday, a 9 year-old girl visited Bullets and Burgers with her family and tried out an Uzi at the range. After a single successful shot, the instructor set the weapon to fully automatic. When the girl pressed the trigger the weapon recoiled, sending a bullet into her instructor’s head and fatally injuring him. The video at this Raw Story article shows the instructor did not have his hands on the weapon at the time.

The difference between those places and this tragic scene out of a Paul Verhoeven movie? Most of those Vietnamese ranges have the guns on short chains or mounted with a very narrow firing arc available, both to prevent theft and to prevent precisely the kind of recoil accident that happened when this small child was given an Uzi and told to let rip on full-auto. An Uzi isn’t large but (contrary to what every movie hero of the 1980s taught me) it’s still a two-handed weapon, even for an adult – spitting out 9mm bullets at a rate of 600 per minute produces significant recoil. With the weapon completely unsecured, that kid should’ve been watched like a hawk and the instructor should have had a hand on – not under – that weapon at all times. It’s the least you’d do, even with a kid using an air rifle for the first time.

Of course, aside from the carelessness that cost a man his own life, the existence of a family restaurant with an attached firing range where fully automatic military weapons are as unsecured as laser-tag guns is the base problem, and which needs to be urgently addressed. I am not confident any meaningful action will occur in response to this, however; the American NRA and their fanatical cadre of barrel-polishers routinely show that there are no depths whatever to their depravity when it comes to defending their right to be well-armed, deluded little toy soldiers with invasion fantasies (and, in the specific case of the NRA, their right to be bukkake’d with cash by the craven sociopaths who own gun companies and wish to sell their products as freely as toothpaste and crayons). They’re certainly not above scapegoating a traumatised 9 year-old girl.


On Church and State

I doubled the following at Dangerous Intersection a few days ago. Fuck knows why I follow American politics and society so closely but – forgive me, my fellow ‘strayans, – our shit is pretty dull. Don’t get me wrong though, that’s just fine – compared to one or two other free democratic countries, ours is usually run pretty decently (despite our many problems). For example, you don’t have to think twice about going to a hospital when you’re sick or hurt because you know Australia’s health care system will sort you out if you’re dirt poor. Also, you don’t have to worry about Christian whackjobs infiltrating the government and trying to have all our laws, sex ed classes, science classes and maybe even road rules based on the book of fucking Genesis. That brings me to the point of the post, so without further twattery:
In the USA today, there is a small but highly vocal (some would even say “strident”) movement dedicated to enshrining certain of their religious values in the laws and Constitution of their nation. Many of this movement proclaim that the Constitution and the laws of the United States are already this way; that the law of the land is based on Judeo-Christian principles and that separation of church and state is an illusion, never happened and even if it did happen was never intended by the founders of the nation and is some kind of liberal invention designed to make the US more vulnerable to suitcase bombs, atheist summer camps and movies about Charles Darwin which don’t paint him as the eugenicist spiritual father of Hitler.

This is, of course, in stark contrast to the reality of the situation: the Constitution makes no mention of God, Jesus or the Bible (except for a nameless “Creator”); the Constitution itself proclaims that “no religious test” shall ever be required for a citizen to hold public office and that Congress shall “make no law” either establishing a religion or restricting the right of a citizen to worship as they please (as atheists hadn’t been invented yet, noone thought to include “the right to not be religious”, but it’s assumed, probably safely, that freedom of religion means, or should mean, freedom from it as well). It is also well-recognised that the Founders were framing the establishment of the new nation to be a shiny, free, glorious example of the humanist, rational values of the Enlightenment, the new Age of Reason which was making its presence felt across Europe in the 18th century. Some scholars speculate (compellingly) that Constitution chief architect Thomas Jefferson and many of his ilk, far from being Christians of any flavour, were even deists – but I must point out that their religious beliefs are irrelevant to their democratic intent and rationalist stance, which I suspect was meant to be the whole point.
Many dominionists in the US have argued against this alleged separation, pointing to the “One Nation under God” line in the Pledge of Obedience Allegiance. Leaving aside the odd ritual of swearing fealty to a flag, that little line used to read “One nation, indivisible,” until religious pressure forced the addition of the “under God” bit. How about “In God We Trust”, which appears on US currency? That was added in the 1950s during McCarthyist hysteria as a counter to alleged “godless” communism (a political hysteria peculiar to the US which persists no less strongly today, as evidenced by the bizarre behaviour of the tea-baggers, birthers, deathers and other assorted pithy signwriters who, in textbook Pavlovian manner, protest anything President Obama does, be it being black or making a harmlessly dull “kids, do your homework” speech on TV and who refuse to nail down exactly which particular political evil – fascism, socialism, communism, anarcho–syndicalism – Barry O allegedly wishes to impose on them by trying to make sure they can see a doctor without selling a kidney first, the heartless bastard).
Many more of these “God-first, species second” types wish to insert religion and religiously-based reasoning (yes, yes, I know an oxymoron when I see it) into all facets of American public life in violation of the First Amendment, be it a massive stone Ten Commandments in front of a court house; teaching the alleged controversy between evolution and Genesis in science classes at school (the only controversy is that this laughable garbage even manages to gain traction in a first-world country); hiring creationist dentists with agendas onto the boards of highly influential school-boards, curriculum boards, textbook selection boards and the like in order to ease the passage of the Bible into science classes; making (or keeping) gay marriage & abortion illegal; foisting upon uncontrollably horny teenagers the old “just say no and don’t even talk about it” policy in regard to sexual congress with each other’s nubile & newly interesting bodies (which worked a charm for that Palin girl, might I add in a fit of strident pique). In myriad other ways, the Jesus-for-President lobby are doing their darnedest to make sure that Christianity becomes (or stays, according to the fantasies of some) the bedrock of US law, education, society & family that they think it should be (or is), regardless of whether anyone else, Christian or otherwise, wants it that way and regardless of whether it’s actually legal. Or realistic. Or not pointless and silly.
Anyway, here’s the main problem when theocrats achieve their wet dream and meld Church and State: it’s difficult to keep one church in power. The particular church running the state might not stay the same (as can happen, as with Henry VIII’s England, or in a modern democracy – or at least in a republic which holds elections to choose between two parties whose main difference seems to lie in their ability to aim lower than their opponent in terms of discourse or think up the best rhyming nicknames for their opponents).
It doesn’t even have to come down to a Christian vs non-Christian clash: there are that many divisions between various flavours of Christianity (more than Baskin & Robbins and Ben & Jerry’s combined at last count) that the other religions would be lucky to even get Nader-like numbers. If the Evangelicals get their wish and people with the mental acuity and religious fervour of Sarah “The Alaskan Quitbull” Palin (oops, there’s one of those nicknames) end up running the show in 2020 according to their own religious mores (I wonder who she would appoint as “Witchcraft Czar”?) but then are de-elected, compulsory rifle-ownership and all, by Bill Donohue’s Yes We’re Incredibly Paranoid But Only Because Everyone’s Persecuting Us Catholic League, there may be some problems. If Bill’s Vatican-do’ers start pushing for compulsory Congressional confessionals to be televised in the name of governmental transparency or, more likely, make communion wafer desecration a capital offence and paedophilia a misdemeanour with a maximum one-off penalty of $50, payable as a donation to the Catholic League (subsequent offences to carry a number of Hail Marys equal to the age of the “victim”), there could literally be blood in the streets if the WASPs arm up against the Whore of Rome. But what if the Westboro Baptists’ Kill Fags Now! Coalition comes to power and exterminates the WASPs? Anybody caught not publicly hating homosexuals or displaying hideous fluorescent signs on their lawns might end up being forced to protest solo in San Fran’s Castro district on Harvey Milk Day (It must be said I’d love the irony of protesting homosexuality using a gaily-coloured rainbow sign).
Or – good lord – what if one of those other religions managed to get into power and kicked the Christians out entirely? Would the Incredibly Orthodox? Do I Look Like I’m Kidding? Jewish Party enforce Torah rules – forbidding people from travelling except by foot over the Sabbath and banning electricity between those times? What of NASCAR? Illegal drag races for teens? World of Warcraft raids? Internet filth? TiVo? You can bet your size 94 track pants some people would have a problem with sitting in the dark, knowing people in stinkin’ Old Europe were playing XBbox Live and taunting each other without some Americans around to scream at them to speak freakin’ English. And don’t even mention the possibility of The Hell Yes We’re Muslims And Hell Yes You’re Screwed, Infidel Party gaining some traction, then it’d be prayers five times a day, no booze, halal food only and the entire porn/modeling/beauty pageant industry would have to assimilate the burqa (and thus become pointless) or go underground! And – dear god, no – both of those parties would ban pork in a laboured heartbeat! Mark my words, without the right to barbecue baby back ribs there would be a revolution orders of magnitude bloodier than the one currently being masturbated over by the revolution-fetishist Nobamas, until half the participants collapsed, gasping, red-faced, clutching at their chests and glad they didn’t vote against a commie healthcare system (better dead at 40 years and 40 stone than Red!), firing one last shot into the air in a thin hope that it’ll hit an imam when it comes back down.
Well, there is a solution to this theo-democratic dilemma and I can sum it up thus: you can’t please all the people all the time so imprison, beat, subjugate and otherwise crush the shit out of anyone who’s against you – even before they realize they’re against you, if you can (that takes some imagination and serious paranoia but it’s doable – Iran and the Saudis rock at it). In a nutshell, you must follow the example of theocracies both current and former. The little pretend country known as “The Country Formerly Known As The Roman Empire Until We Discovered Lying About Jesus Was Cheaper Than War” basically ran the combined nations of Europe as a theocracy for a thousand years – launching or supporting Crusades, Inquisitions & witchhunts, threatening, bribing, torturing, controlling monarchies, confiscating property, roasting feet, charging loads of cash for particular prayers and many other cheap but highly lucrative tricks, all to maintain strict obedience to dogma. When the time for red-hot poker-insertion & non-guitar-related iron maidens was over, they switched to missionary work, evangelism, exorcisms and controlling the education systems of entire countries to ensure unfettered access to the young & easily manipulated (yes, access to their minds was also high on the list). What the Vatican achieved, in terms of obscene wealth and sheer number of guilt-ridden & miserable followers in its thousand-year Christ-Reich would be (and probably was) the envy of those who would follow later and attempt similar things for similar reasons. It must be said that certain of them replaced the worship of gods with worship of themselves and their own equally warped dogma (the worst fiends of the 20th century, for example, realised that it’s easier to control adherence to a dogma if you just make up a new one, rather than relying on an old and much-debated one), complete with brand new shiny commandments and brand new (or markedly revamped & re-invigorated) hatreds, which were still on a suitably Biblical scale.
Let’s not forget the USA’s very own best buddies, long-time theocrats and partners in grime (yes, that’s a clever fossil fuel reference, thank you for noticing), Saudi Arabia. Instead of elections and political debates, they have the Royal Family and shut the f–k up. Instead of police to investigate crime and courts of law to prosecute criminals, they have Decency Police to arrest rape victims and sharia courts to sentence the rape victim to some more rape. Or maybe she’ll just get a light beating if she promises never to have it done to her again, the little minx, and how dare she just leave the house like that anyway, she was bloody asking for it. Everyone knows men can’t be trusted not to just penetrate anything that’s warmer than room temperature so, basically, they shouldn’t have to be beholden to such foolish Western notions as a woman’s right to not be raped and not raping people. Saudi Arabia is a textbook example of what can be done, – nay, what needs to be done to keep your particular dogma stapled onto your nation’s constitution and laws, should you be successful in establishing your favourite god as head-of-state in all but actual physical presence (lack of physical presence certainly hadn’t stopped North Korea from still following its Dear Departed Leader, Kim Il-Sung).
Using those two examples (they’re all I had time for, otherwise I would have to dedicate myself to a book and I don’t think I have the attention span for that – that’s usually why I just write songs that don’t exceed five minutes, or Facebook status updates), it would appear that the key to keeping your theocracy, once you have attained it, is using the fear of lots of violence (including the fear of Hell) and of course, actually using lots and lots of violence, to keep your subjects in line. This is necessary because, even amongst people who share your religion, there will be disagreements on the interpretations of certain bits of infallible scripture (not least of which the question of which bits are in fact infallible, which are open for interpretation and which bits can be used to justify killing an opponent and their entire heathen family). So, unless you wish to be bogged down in quiet, respectful theological discussions which will outlast the lifespans of those involved in the discussion and make functional government all but impossible (a useful tactic in itself, it must be noted, and it happens in secular politics every day), you more or less have to go full Saudi on those infidel bastards, stick the boot in and form your Decency Police quicksmart, before anyone gets a head big enough to dare to challenge your version of the select words of your god, which are now law and carry penalties a lot scarier than anything threatened in scripture. Also, it should be noted that threatening and using lots of violence seems to have a greater effect on large groups of people than merely promising paradise in exchange for being nice (see the section on The Vatican).
So there you have it. Wannabe US theocrats might certainly have their cake if they care to put in any effort beyond petulantly sabotaging children’s education or making clever puns on “Barack Obama” for protest signs (Barack Osama! Hey, I just thought of one! That was my Teabagger deed for the day – and now back to the TiVo) but they’ll be so busy protecting it they’ll never get a second to even lick the icing, let alone eat the damn thing. You can’t have your theocracy and enjoy it too, so make damn sure no one else enjoys it either.

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George, meet Barry. Now fuck off.

Doubled here (sans profanity!):

Don’t let the Whitehouse door hit you in the arse on the way out. On the other hand, I hope someone jams your pinky finger in it. And smacks you in the nuts with an army boot.

But, seriously, now that he’s gone, I guess we can’t rag on Dubya anymore. Sure, he’s given the world enough material (both unintentionally comedic, in a painful, Ricky-Gervais-in-The-Office kind of way as well as just plain tragic) to last the next 8 years, but have pity – he’s unemployed now. He’s likely to stay that way too – given his oratory skills it’s doubtful he’ll be able to make a living on the lucrative public-speaking circuit like his silver-tongued predecessor Bubba Clinton. But hey, there’s always Pop to turn to. Hell, who do you think got him his last job? And the one before that? Oh well, he’s got plenty of time to work on his golf game – and no pesky-ass reporterers asking him about boring shit like wars or deficits or hurricanes or drowned cities.

Anyway, there’s a new kid in town. A handsome chap who can – get this – string a few words together. Words that make grammatical sense as well as express all the stuff the world (and America) has wanted to hear from a US President for a while now. He’s resilient too. On his way to the Oval Office, Barry Hussein Obama managed to stride with class past all kinds of accusations from his desperate opponents: that he’s a Marxist; that he’s pro-abortion for everyone whether you want it or not; that he’s a secret Muslim; that he’s an Arab; that (and this was really stretching it) he’s not even a US citizen and therefore ineligible to be President in the first place. I suppose those people forgot that Hawaii, Bazza’s home state, is actually part of the US, even though it’s not physically attached (Alaska’s separated from the US by several million Canadians, but that didn’t stop people voting for Klondike Barbie, the beehived moose-shootin’ halfwit in Tina Fey glasses who couldn’t even lie & name just one newspaper – then accused the media of entrapment. Did she have a running mate? Some old guy? Meh. Whatever.). I’m also wondering why those desperate Republicans thought the possibility of Barry being an Arab or a Muslim would automatically make him an evil ayatollah-in-waiting, ready at a moment’s notice to impose an Islamic theocracy on the US, burn everyone’s Bibles, make everyone get gay-married and abort their third-trimester babies for the glory of Allah and Karl Marx. Hmmm…I think some people got a little confused there. Hell, I’m a bit confused myself.

In the end it all turned out great for Barry & Mimi O and the First Daughters, despite all the head-explodey brain-vomit from the nutjobs who couldn’t even mount an attack more damaging than “Dear lord, his middle name is ‘Hussein’ – RUN for your LIVES!” The other day (you may have seen it on the news) the O’s had themselves a big party with movie stars & pop stars & two million of their closest friends (& fucking Bono of course – he wasn’t invited, but just try and keep that bloke & his blarney away from a microphone and a captive audience) and then they got to ride in what must be The World’s Most Pimping Bulletproof Cadillac, which musta been just swell.

But now, after a totally sweet speech, the hard work begins. And “hard” barely even scratches the surface – George and his team basically wiped their arses on America for eight years and left Barry holding one worn-out toothbrush with which to clean everything up. Team Bush’s parting shot, the current financial crisis (brought about in part by George and his pals making life easier for themselves at the expense of pretty much everyone on the planet who isn’t a CEO) is the economic equivalent of leaving a massive hangover-turd in Barry’s new Presidential bedroom. With only one box of Kleenex on the dresser! Classy, George. Real nice.

So, anyway: the new guy’s got his work cut out for him. I don’t think anyone with a shred of realistic objectivity thinks the big O is some kind of political messiah, but hey – the guy can talk English proper where George, obviously, had it as a second language (I’ll take submissions on what George’s first language might be). Barry O says the things people want to hear, he represents a lot of what people find great about America and Barry even has daughters who aren’t running around binging on alcopops and flashing their gear all over the place (but give ’em time – they’re not even in high school yet).

But Big O’s definitely going to be pushing shit uphill for the next four years and he’ll need serious intestinal fortitude. I for one hope he doesn’t take any easy, quick-fix options. America needs more than a new lick of paint, it needs the kind of fixin’ that crappy old houses on renovation shows need: re-stumping, new floorboards, bi-fold doors leading to a new deck, a cubby for the kids with beanbags, plasma screen & PS3 in it, the kitchen walls painted in pistachio, a themed water feature and a wee day bed-equipped gazebo thatched with authentic Balinese thatching stuff. Hell, maybe one day the O’s will return home blindfolded from a state visit, that blokey tool-belt bloke off the telly will yell “surprise” and they’ll find their America has been backyard blitzed while they were off begging Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez for some more heating oil. Baz will be agape, the kids will jump up and down & squeal, the First Dog will hump the handyman’s dog to everyone’s amusement, Mrs O will start blubbing and whichever blond pint-size who’s hosting the show that week will give her a big ol’ bear-hug like they’ve been best gal-pals since primary school. And Everything Will Be Fine!

Or maybe Baz will be just another Democrat president in the mold of a Kennedy or Clinton: a little more careful on the cash side of things; a bit more discrete when it comes to razing poor foreign peoples’ villages to the ground; a little more eloquent when justifying his administration’s reflexive support of and sucking up to the usual suspects like those affable, head-removing, woman-hating, oil-filthy scamps, the Saudis.

Can we see that happening? Yes we can.

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Greta C nails Palin

Greta Christina at the Blowfish Blog, in her typical straight-shootin’ style, nails down exactly why Caribou Barbie (aka Sarah Palin) is unfit to be Vice President – concerns about her pregnant unwed teenage daughter aside.

I think her main, crucial point – apart from everything else that’s completely retarded about McCain’s VP pick – is this:

[The Vice President’s] most important job is to be President if the President dies.

I can not imagine anyone more unqualified to be holding the codes to a staggering arsenal of nuclear weapons in the event of a serious military emergency than Sarah Palin. Neither can Matt Damon (no link for you! Google it :)).

Yes, people, all jokes aside, McCain is old. He’s 72 and he might freaking well DIE and leave Palin in charge (nominally, anyway) of the most powerful military in the world (it’s hard to imagine someone less qualified than George to run the US military, but fuck me – McCain found a DOOZY!). This is a woman who believes she lives in the End Times and that Armageddon’s just around the corner and soon Jesus will arrive in his gleaming gold battle-mech and lay waste to the Hellish legions of orcs and trolls and whatever else she and her apocalyptic pastors can imagine. Does America want this lackwit staring down North Korea or reacting to a terrorist dirty bomb? Sheesh. I like America. I like the Americans I’ve met & spoken to & befriended. I KNOW that there are smart people there. But if you allow this woman access to the West Wing, well, that’s it. You’ll officially be the fucking stupidest fucking country on Earth and will reap the rewards. You think life sucks under Bush? Let Palin in the Whitehouse and you won’t have seen nothin’ yet.

Seriously. I’m worried about you guys. Please, this time, for the love of all that’s good and decent, just vote with your brains & not with that part of you that thinks “Oh, she’s nice, I’d have lunch with her.” That’s what got you eight years of George!

Hey, isn’t it interesting how noone’s talking about John McCain anymore? Talk about making yourself irrelevant.

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