Saturday, July 25, 2015

America Goes Nuts

Hate to say I told ya so, especially when it's this grim, but as the "American Dream" is morphing into the American Nightmare, the country is entering a profound state of sheer and utter psychosis. I've often said that mass shootings will eventually be so common in America that they will merit no more attention than the average traffic accident or burglary. It seems that day might have already arrived: There have been 204 mass shootings — and 204 days — in 2015 so far  (Washington Post)
The headlines all start to sound the same after awhile. Seven people shot inside Louisville nightclub. Four men shot in Suffolk early Sunday morning. Two dead, two hospitalized in Brice Street shooting.

The shootings happen so often, the circumstances become so familiar, that we tune them out. One dead, five injured in west Columbus shooting. Four shot in grocery store ambush. One dead, four injured in Stockton shooting.

Every now and then a particularly heinous crime makes us pause and reflect. Nine dead in shooting at black church in Charleston. Four marines, one sailor killed in attacks on Chattanooga military facilities. Gunman opens fire on Louisiana movie theater.

The Mass Shooting Tracker, a crowd-sourced project of the anti-gun folks at the Guns Are Cool subreddit, lists 203 mass shooting events so far in 2015. Add in the shooting at a Louisiana movie theater last night and you get 204. Incidentally, yesterday was the 204th day of the year.

The Mass Shooting Tracker is different from other shooting databases in that it uses a broader definition of mass shooting. "The old FBI definition of Mass Murder (not even the most recent one) is four or more people murdered in one event," the site's creators explain. "It is only logical that a Mass Shooting is four or more people shot in one event."
And:

Guns Were Used in At Least 15 United States Murder-Suicides Last Week Besides Louisiana  (Slate)

When you actually drill down and read the individual stories a pattern starts to emerge.
The serial bank robber who gunned down State Patrol Trooper Trevor Casper and a Wausaukee man in March was a "lone wolf" survivalist who was stockpiling weapons and ammunition in preparation for a "zombie apocalypse," those close to him told investigators.

Steven Snyder, who was 38, also spoke of going out in a "blaze of glory" and "righteous suicide," documents released Thursday night by the state Department of Justice show.

Snyder's estranged wife, Stacey, told authorities that he had even "built a tunnel under his house and kept dried goods and survival items in it," the records show.

"Snyder had many guns ready for 'when society collapsed,'" the documents read. "She described it as 'a zombie apocalypse' sort of thing."The documents portray Snyder — who has been linked to nine bank robberies — as an anti-social extremist with a white supremacist past, was obsessed with death, didn't believe the Holocaust had happened and opposed "mixing races," the records said. He also held chauvinistic views toward women.

Stacey Snyder told investigators her husband "wanted to have a polygamist marriage, and he talked about it for years," the report said. She said she left him because he was physically abusive, had affairs with other women and lived a dangerous lifestyle, among other issues. After they were separated, his wife reported a Christmas Day domestic assault that left her with a concussion. There was an outstanding warrant for Snyder in Michigan for that incident.

Snyder also was obsessed with training for mixed-martial arts and crossfit, and he spoke of being prepared to fight to the death. He told his closest friend "that he was planning for a 'zombie apocalypse,' but by that he meant that if the government goes down and all the poor people start marching and going around breaking into houses, he would be ready for that," the newly released records said.

He told the same friend that he "would probably end up dying in a gunfight during a 'shootout with cops,'" the report said.

That's what happened March 24 after Snyder robbed a Marinette County bank and stole a bank employee's van before killing another man, Thomas Christ, at the location where he abandoned the stolen van and changed to a rental car he had parked nearby...
Trooper's killer was preparing for 'zombie apocalypse' (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
Online profiles connected to Houser are also revealing more details about him and paint a picture of a paranoid man who felt that American economic policy and morals were bringing about an end of days.

'America is so sick that I now believe it to be the enemy of the world. I know next to nothing about Iran, but the little I do tell me they are far higher morally than this financially failing filth farm,' Houser, who goes by Rusty, wrote in a December 2013 post on an apparently conservative Christian website called Fellowship of the Minds.

Also that month, Houser wrote on his Facebook, asking for help translating Iranian newspapers. He spoke highly of the Middle East as well in his profile for the site InterPals, an online community for making friends around the world.

'Learning about the people of the Middle East is most important to me.They have been painted as scum by the 'establishment media,' wrote Houser in his profile.'It appears they are exactly the opposite, that they are family people.That is the highest status that a people can achieve, and it is what America has lost.'He said he was hoping to makes friends with Middle Eastern people on the site.

In yet another bizarre Facebook post, Houser preached a strict adherence to the Bible, while condemning America at the same time. 'The bible doesn't ask me to like what it says, only to obey it. Death comes soon to the financially failing filth farm called the US.'

Many of Houser's posts dealt with what he believed to be an inevitable end of days, spurred on by disintegrating American morals. Commenting on a news story about a man who was found murdered at his deer-processing business in 2013, Houser wrote: 'I am sincerely sorry for the loss of this fellow in the deer processing business. Most people over 50 in certain businesses are just as their parents were, rock solid morally.'

But when he continued, the post took a turn. 

'I am also sorry for what is to come for the other very few moral souls left in the entire US. I am not sorry for the 90 per cent immoral population which will be meeting the same fate. Filth is rampant. That none have stood against it causes me to take rest in the worst than MAD MAX future which approaches,' Houser said.
The pro-Hitler rants of Louisiana theater gunman who idolized Timothy McVeigh and called for lone wolf attacks on the 'failing filth farm' of America (Daily Mail)
Chattanooga shooter Mohammad Abdulazeez told a friend that ISIS was "doing wrong" and "it was a stupid group and it was completely against Islam," the friend told CNN on Monday.

The friend, James Petty, also said that Abdulazeez taught him how to shoot an AR-15 assault rifle and that the two would practice in the woods.

The revelations about Abdulazeez came as sources told CNN that writings uncovered by investigators indicated Abdulazeez was displeased with the U.S. government, particularly its war on terror. The writings are not thought to be recent -- some are more than a year old, predating his much-publicized trip to Jordan -- and should not be considered a diary of any sort, according to a person familiar with the family's interviews with investigators and a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation.

The writings also include other anti-U.S. sentiments and are consistent with someone who is having suicidal thoughts, the sources said.
Chattanooga shooting: New details emerge about the gunman (CNN)
Chaos erupted along the busy stretch of Ventura Boulevard about 3:20 p.m., when police received reports of a man with a gun near Vantage Avenue. Terrified witnesses peered out of store windows and from behind cars as police fired on the man, who died at the scene.

But the drama continued even after the gunfire stopped. Helmet-clad police officers swarmed the scene. Rumors swirled that the man had robbed a bank. (That was not the case, authorities said.) Buildings were evacuated as an LAPD robot examined at least two items near the man's body that police feared were explosive.

By Friday night, it was still unclear who the man was or why he opened fire, Los Angeles police said. Ventura Boulevard was closed for hours as investigators combed the scene.

“A lot will depend on making this identification and then working backwards,” Det. Meghan Aguilar said. “Who was this person and what drew him here?”
Gunman who opens fire in Studio City dies at the scene (L.A. Times)
The mystery behind a Los Angeles gun fanatic found decomposing in a car last week has deepened as his fiancée's family said he was an alien-hybrid secretly working for the government.

The bizarre statement came Wednesday as the betrothed woman's lawyer identified the dead man as Jeffrey Alan Lash — almost one week after he was discovered rotting in his car parked on the street in the tony Pacific Palisades neighborhood.

Los Angeles police found more than 1,200 guns, nearly 7 tons of ammunition, bows and arrows, knives, machetes and $230,000 in cash inside Lash's home last Friday.

They also discovered a Toyota SUV designed to drive underwater among the 14 vehicles registered in his name.

The collection was as odd as Lash's confessions to his soon-to-be-wife Catherine Nebron that he was working as an undercover operative for multiple unnamed government agencies, according to her defense attorney Harland Braun.

"The story itself sounds totally crazy, but then how do you explain all this?" Braun said. "There's no evidence he was a drug dealer or he stole these weapons, or had any criminal source of income, no stolen property, all the stuff you'd look for."
Dead LA man who had 1,200 guns, underwater car identified; believed to be ‘part alien’ secret government worker (NY Daily News)
...citizens living in the only country where this kind of mass killing routinely occurs reportedly concluded Tuesday that there was no way to prevent the massacre from taking place. “This was a terrible tragedy, but sometimes these things just happen and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop them,” said North Carolina resident Samuel Wipper, echoing sentiments expressed by tens of millions of individuals who reside in a nation where over half of the world’s deadliest mass shootings have occurred in the past 50 years and whose citizens are 20 times more likely to die of gun violence than those of other developed nations. “It’s a shame, but what can we do? There really wasn’t anything that was going to keep this guy from snapping and killing a lot of people if that’s what he really wanted.” At press time, residents of the only economically advanced nation in the world where roughly two mass shootings have occurred every month for the past five years were referring to themselves and their situation as “helpless.”
‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens (The Onion)

Pacific Standard makes some good points about the attraction of right-wing ideology to people suffering and on the edge:
It was the sort of language that 15 years ago we might have seen in a lo-fi video from a cave in Afghanistan: “Death comes soon to the financially failing filth farm called the U.S.” America is “the enemy of the world,” besmirched with “foolishness and perversion.” Iran is “far higher morally” than the United States. The speaker cites “God’s business” as his prime directive.

As for the political duties of the patriarchs: “If you are male, fight until the end, and enjoy it. People are good at what they enjoy, and your Maker would want it that way.”

As for ways and means: “Truth and death always go hand in hand.”

The speaker is not, however, what some Americans like to call an “Islamofascist,” nor any kind of Muslim jihadist. Instead, these nuggets all come from the prolific Web screeds of John Russell Houser, late of Phoenix City, Alabama, who murdered two moviegoers and wounded at least nine others at a cinema in Lafayette, Louisiana, yesterday evening before taking his own life. As usual, mental illness appears to have been a factor; a former neighbor told Yahoo! News: “You don’t know crazy. You don’t know what we went through with that house. He had lots and lots of problems.” We do know that Houser received mental health treatment in 2008 and 2009.

But, as we have seen with Dylann Roof and others, mental illness offers fertile ground for violent ideology, and Houser’s life online shows a demented but quasi-unified theory of American decline, which he blamed variously on “media brainwashing,” the erosion of values under a perceived gay cabal, the unstoppable rise of independent women, and the nation’s debauched and fractured Christianity. The first of two messages on Houser’s Twitter account reads, “Westboro Baptist Church may be the last real church in America[members not brainwashed” [sic]. He wanted a stateside version of Greece’s neo-Nazi “Golden Dawn.” He expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler, and for former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke. Like so many rightist lunatics who fixate on (and hasten) America’s downfall, Houser believed powerfully that whites are an aggrieved and oppressed demographic, and that the best practice is to take arms in defense of Caucasian primacy. 
John Russell Houser Did Not Act Alone. Where are all these “lone gunmen” getting their ideas?

See Also: There Are 22 Million Angry, Impulsive Americans With Guns (Pacific Standard)

The sad picture is of a nation in the grip of madness and paranoia. I only wish I had some good advice besides, "get the hell out if you can."

12 comments:

  1. "get the hell out if you can."

    Which brings us back to your dissatisfaction with your current job/location. I would never recommend someone give up a steady paycheck (I'd recommend extreme saving and early retirement) but since you seem intent on doing that anyway, have you ever thought about teaching overseas? Not hard to get a job as an English teacher. At least as good an idea as moving to overpriced California.

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    1. Actually, yes. A few weeks ago I went to Madison and visited here: http://www.wesli.com/

      Any experience with that?

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  2. The only credential that is widely recognized is CELTA. But the right way to go about this is to first pick where you might want to work, then read internet forums for some truthful sounding info about the situation on the ground in that place. For example, here some good info for thailand: http://www.stickmanbangkok.com/teaching.html.

    I feel hesitant about advising teaching English overseas, because something tells me you don't have the personality suited for this. But I'm equally leery of your idea of up and moving to California with no firm plans for making a living there.

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  3. This is what Collapse looks like. And no, more gun control won't help...even if it were politically possible.

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    2. The problem with this Houser guy is that, for all of his preaching about America losing its moral ground, he was the very product of that loss of moral ground-violent racist,misogynist,hubristic. He was the very 'farm filth' that he rattled on about! Houser fits right into a culture of loss, which includes worship of celebrity, reality tv, Fox News, electronic hallucinations, and the admiration of psychopaths like Donald Trump! Unfortunately, it's not just the US that is suffering from this decline. People the world over seem to be tranced out by real fights on YouTube, texting, and the lard-injected a** of Kim Kardashian-all the while disbelieving in the true perils of climate change, which is going hand in hand with world economic collapse and peak oil.

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  5. Instead of "America Goes Nuts", you might want to retitle your post "Right-wing Old School Christian American Males Go Nuts"

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    1. At least one of the shooters was Middle Eastern, and one was apparently half extra-terrestrial. So it's just white males losing their sh*t, but they seem to be the most vulnerable.

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  6. America isn't going nuts I think it always was nuts and it exports its nuttiness. The middle east, when I was there, used to be a place where adults spent their free time picnicking with their extended family in G rated communities focused on the banal stuff of family life: children, grades, wives, varies kinds of G or PG rated parties. Now the U.S. is permanently parked there and you have all the stuff you see on TV. That's us not them.
    If you are thinking about teaching ESL the first thing I'd say is think real hard because I doubt that you would like that much. In some parts of E. Asia, at least, ESL teachers are looked down upon a little bit and in some cases for good reason, a lot of ESL teachers I met were indeed odd characters. Also the market isn't what it used to be and the real wages are much lower than they were in previous decades but that's not news to anyone in any profession. The other thing is that some ESL positions involve a certain amount of sales or other silliness and the institutions often keep the teachers from really teaching with silly curricula and so forth but again that's true a lot of jobs. If you are considering this line of work I'd look at S. Korea for too many reasons to list here.

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    1. I'm not really keen on East Asia. I'd much prefer Latin America if anywhere.

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  7. A huge portion of the population wàking up to the fact that they will not do better than their parents, and in fact will be doing well just to feed themselves and sleep under a roof....


    Timothy McVeigh was not a bad guy..... You had to be alive during those years and see the imperial overreach the US was exercising on its own citizens. I'm convinced McVeigh ultimately saved more lives than he ended. Yes! I'd have done anything to stop his act if I'd known, but as it turned out it was the surprise morning news on the front page of the Asahi Shinbun at my hotel in Hiroshima that morning.

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