NRA Awarded $48M Grant To Continue Mass-Scale Sociological Experiment

172915487WASHINGTON, DC – The National Rifle Association (NRA) announced today that it has received a huge cash infusion to support its ongoing social experiment in which firearms are made freely available to the 300 million citizens of a first-world nation.

“We’ve already accomplished a great deal, and we’re very excited about what we can do with the additional funding,” explained lead researcher Dr. Jethro Austin Dylan as a power point presentation showed slides of barely regulated gun shows, children unwrapping semi-automatic weapons under Christmas trees, and the sobbing relatives of deceased shooting victims in the unnamed Western country that is the subject of the study.

When asked what tipped the scales in favor of being awarded the grant NRA scientists pointed out the success of artificially inducing a climate of regular mass-shootings and rampant anti-government paranoia.

“One of the key milestones in the Phase II portion of the study was the widespread escalation of ‘castle doctrine’ laws, which have a very limited application, into ‘stand your ground’ laws, which are nearly universal in scope,” explained Dr. Dylan.

Another important factor cited was the incredible success the research team has enjoyed in keeping the citizens of the first-world nation involved in the study completely in the dark about the fact that they are active participants in possibly the largest and most dangerous sociological experiment ever conducted.

“I mean, guns are in the top levels of government, they’re in the news 24/7, they’re all over the streets, and nobody’s caught on,” gushed Dr. Dylan. “We can’t wait to see what happens in Phase III!” concluded the prominent social scientist.

Exit Polls: Rich White Men Doing Pretty Well

193xdpdbmcqdvjpgWASHINGTON, D.C. As exit poll data continues to pour in from voters all over the country one trend is beginning to emerge: wealthy Caucasians males are establishing a significant lead.

“Pretty much in every race across the boards we’re seeing strong correlative factors emerging in the numbers,” said poll analyst Robert Graves from Quinnipiac University. “Specifically, for the most part, the winners today will be white men with major financial resources.”

However, pollsters were quick to caution media outlets that a tremendous amount of variability lay within the seemingly homogeneous data.

“Whiteness, for example, is a relative term,” explained Delores von Schnoopenhauser of the influential think tank America Is For Americans. “Within the supermajority political establishment of electorally triumphant Caucasians we find a startling variance that includes everything from deeply tanned to quite pasty.”

“It’s a veritable smorgasbord of diversity,” continued von Schnoopenhauser.

At press time, newly minted lawmakers were hastily composing proposals to redefine voting districts to ensure even more rich white men will be competitive in future elections.

 

Let’s Stop “Just Saying”

by Matthew DeCapua

headacheA great deal of virtual ink has been spilled since the unfortunate events of Ferguson, MO began to play out across the mass media and some if it is tapping into a larger issue that has long irked me.

As a nation we are obsessed with being right. We like to be right all the time. For some reason we think this is a realistic ambition and we pursue it with zealous determination to the point where we’re having a difficult time hearing one another anymore.

Too often, whether we are aware of it or not, we interpret a willingness to establish an actual dialogue that involves both talking and listening as weakness, or worse, a failing. We’re not really interested in discussion or debate. We’re not open to the possibility of learning new information or changing our perspective due to a well-reasoned argument that had not previously occurred to us.

We just want to be right. So we speak our mind, repeatedly, giving no quarter, acknowledging no alternative, louder and more defensively, until the other person either admits defeat or walks away.

One of the more recent socio-linguistic mechanisms we have developed to support this “style” of non-discussion is to conclude an opinion with the passive-aggressive deployment of the phrase “just saying.”

And at great risk of offending a lot of people I know and love, as of this moment I am on record as writing that the phrase “just saying” makes me sick to my stomach.

Let’s break it down.

The first of the many heinous things that “just saying” accomplishes is to immediately end the conversation. It’s the verbal equivalent of a smug smirk while walking away. The speaker has just gained the final — and right — words on the subject, and now the matter is closed to any possibility of further discussion.

That’s rude.

The second mortal sin of “just saying” is the tacit implication that, because the speaker is expressing a personal opinion, the speaker cannot be questioned. Any attempt at refutation or even further discussion can now freely be interpreted as a hostile personal attack, and responded to in kind. Once the “just saying” bomb has been dropped, it’s no longer a conversation. It’s a fight.

This leads to the most damning offense of “just saying.” By claiming the topic as a deeply-held personal belief, the speaker is in effect communicating that whatever personal feelings anyone else may have on the subject are not only irrelevant but also inferior to the speaker’s. It’s the equivalent of saying “your opinion does not matter to me, but mine had better matter to you, and we’re done here now.”

We live in a time of incredible tumult and churn, and it is not going to end anytime soon. It seems to me, therefore, that it is in everyone’s best interests to look for ways to communicate more, not less. There are no end of horrible examples playing out in today’s headlines to demonstrate what happens when people no longer care enough to truly listen to one another.

Rather than cut you off with a “just saying,” I would always rather sit down and hear you out, and hope that you will be willing to do the same with me. So let’s drop “just saying” from our collective vocabulary and replace it with something far more positive and useful.

You were saying…

Supreme Court To Nation: Fuck You

“Right up the ass,” adds judicial branch.

john-robertsWASHINGTON, D.C. In a controversial but ultimately inevitable 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court today set a powerful new precedent when it essentially affirmed the constitutionality of rich people doing whatever they want, whenever they want, with absolutely no consequences.

“The state has no authority to dictate the behavior of the wealthy,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts in the majority opinion while doctors surgically removed the one shred of integrity he had left in his body and replaced it with a gun-shaped Bible full of money.

“So long as the behavior is covered by an embarrassingly transparent and completely horseshit religious explanation, and so long as the perpetrator controls vast sums of money, then it is fully constitutional and everyone should just shut the hell up already,” continued Roberts.

“Seriously, you assholes, this is the way we do it here, it’s never going to change, and you should all just go fuck yourselves, because you’re poor and nobody cares about you and nobody ever will,” concluded the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States of America.

At press time the Court was preparing to hear final arguments in Koch vs USA which challenges the constitutionality of Article I, Section 9, Clause 8, which reads in part, “No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States.”

 

Does The Economy Need Your Participation?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 Start with a set of variables.

 x = poverty-wage earners

 y = the short-term unemployed

z = the long-term unemployed

Add them up, and one of the many possible titles for the resulting summation could be “People Who Can’t Participate In The Economy.” The denizens of this XYZ group can’t buy homes or cars or flat-screen TVs, they can’t purchase apps indiscriminately from the iTunes store, they can’t eat out regularly at TGIFriday’s or check out the new spring line at Banana Republic. Not only do they not have savings or contribute to investment vehicles, many of them don’t even have bank accounts.

For all intents and purposes, this group of people, approximately 30,195,500, representing nearly 18% of the total possible American civilian workforce,* are sitting on the sidelines of consumer culture, unable to meaningfully participate in the economy.

The good news, at least for now, is that the XYZ group is shrinking. Wages are going up, and a portion of the sub-group z has moved back into sub-group y.

But the bad news, long-term, couldn’t be much worse. There is little doubt that wealth distribution in the United States has become increasingly unbalanced, and the slope is only getting more slippery. Without a comprehensive change to the status quo, it is at least plausible, if not indeed highly likely, that over time the XYZ group will continue to increase. The economy will shrink under the downward pressure exerted by an ever-growing portion of the population that has little or no purchasing power.

When that happens, nobody wins.

Unhelpfully, to date the public reaction to income inequality tends to be highly polarized, as evidenced by groups like Occupy Wall Street, or the bizarre instances of billionaires comparing liberals to Nazis.

What is needed is a sober, transparent and highly public discussion about our economic future, one that is as pragmatic as it is innovative.

The first step is for all concerned parties to admit that (1) we are facing a grave problem with potentially catastrophic consequences that requires action to solve, and (2) at present we do not yet have the tools to solve it.

As is often the case, this first step has so far been the hardest to take.

And as long as that remains true, then we really only have to ask ourselves one question: how many active participants does it take to sustain our economy? Or, perhaps more ominously, how long do we have until we reach that macabre tipping point?

____________________________________

*Numbers calculated from 2010 census date:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_income_in_the_United_States

http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2011/ted_20110301.htm

approximately 14,895,500 American civilian workers made less than $11,139 in 2010 (the poverty line for that year). 8.9M such workers were recognized as “short-term unemployed” and another 6.4M such workers were labeled “long-term unemployed” in December of 2010. The total civilian workforce recognized by the census in December of 2010 was 153,950,000.

The NRA’s Campaign To Make America The Wild West Is Working

imagesA man carrying a perfectly legal concealed weapon is walking across a parking lot towards a grocery store when he sees another man. He recognizes the second man as being a staunch opponent of the Second Amendment.

The first man begins to experience severe anxiety. After all, he lives in a country where there are nine guns for every ten people. If he doesn’t have his gun, he and his family could become vulnerable to the many people who do have guns. His life could be in jeopardy. The second man represents a clear and present danger to him and his family.

Panic rising, he pulls out his sidearm and shoots the second man. Two shots to the torso, one to the head. The second man falls dead.

When the police arrive on the scene, the armed man, clearly shaken, explains that the second man was trying to put him and his entire family at grave risk. The armed man was afraid for his life. The police let him go, and that’s the end of the story.

Do you think this is far-fetched?

The last eight months have rendered what should be terrifying court verdicts in cases involving clearly over-aggressive gun owners.

George Zimmerman pursuing, beginning an altercation with, and then shooting unarmed Trayvon Martin dead.

Curtis Reeves picking a fight with Chad Oulsen at a movie theater over a cell phone, and then shooting him dead.

Michael Dunn starting an argument with Jordan Davis over a car stereo, and then shooting him dead.

This is a trend that is already on its frightening way down the slippery slope.

Handguns, like assault rifles, have only one purpose. They were designed to kill people as efficiently as possible. They’re not tools. They’re not hunting aides.

For a long time, the ultra-right gun lobbies of the United States have worked hard — and successfully — to win maximum possible access to these single-purpose weapons.

But that was just the first step in a larger struggle. Because, and this is the sticking point, what’s the point of owning a gun if you can’t use it for it’s intended purpose?

We will never know the “other side of the story” in the three cases cited earlier because there is no “other side.” All that remains is a dead person, and the word of the gun owner as to why that person deserved to be dead.

We’re turning into the Wild West.

Nation With 20 Aircraft Carriers Thinking Twice About Oppressing Man Who Owns Assault Rifle

“We need to be really cautious here,” says Admiral James Winnefeld, Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

redneck_gun_20100526_1984409262WASHINGTON, D.C. Today the Pentagon released an advisory to all United States armed forces warning them against any act that “might be construed as being in any way tyrannical” against West Virginia resident and automatic rifle owner and outspoken Second Amendment enthusiast Jesse Bart Bucephelus, to quote the memo.

The military response was immediate.

“We have re-routed the 4th Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, the 2nd Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, the 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, and the entire Combat Aviation Brigade to maintain a respectful distance of the private citizen and assault rifle owner,” explained Major General Sean B. MacFarland of the 1st Armored Division in a press conference, referencing more than 10,000 troops, 250 M1 armored cars, 75 humvees, twenty-four M22 light airborne tanks and eighteen M1A1HA Abrams tanks, as well as various ancillary Howitzer artillery pieces, RPG launchers, armor-piercing autocannons, mortars, flamethrowers, sniper rifles and hand grenades.

“Mr. Bucephelus sent us a clear message with the purchase of his assault rifle, and we are responding immediately and appropriately,” stated Rear Admiral Michael Smith of Carrier Strike Group Three from the flag bridge of the USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74), as he ordered the supercarrier and its escort of two guided missile cruisers, four stealth destroyers, one carrier airwing, and an unknown number of Los Angeles-class nuclear fast-attack submarines to “back away from and keep out of” the area of the Atlantic ocean that is within 100 nautical miles of the assault rifle owner’s landlocked home.

Additionally, Lt. Gen. Tod D. Wolters of the Twelfth Air Force confirmed that flight plans were altered for twenty F-15 Eagle fighters, twelve AC-130 Spectre Gunships, seven A-10 Thunderbolts, six B-2 Spirit stealth bombers, and the entire operational wing of seventy-six B-52 Stratofortress superbombers so as not to interfere with the airspace over or around the home of Mr. Bucephelus.

Taking no chances, the United States further ordered the immediate disarmament of all 5,113 of the nation’s nuclear warheads, as well as the discontinuation of its spy satellite and predator drone programs.

At press time, the U.S. House of Representatives was quickly and efficiently killing every single bill that could possibly be interpreted as a threat to the Second Amendment.

Biggest Loser in Bill Nye Debate

BillNyeDebatePETERSBURG, KY More than three hundred million Americans were big fat losers last night following a live debate between Bill Nye “The Science Guy” and the controversial founder of Answers in Genesis and The Creation Museum, Ken Ham.

“You weren’t there so you don’t really know,” explained Ham as concrete irrefutable support of creationism, trumping, in his mind anyway, pretty much the entire history of scientific observation, testing, and reasoned thought.

Early reports indicate that the “debate” substantially reduced the nation’s aggregate intelligence.

At press time, the United States continued to rank 29th in student mathematical performance as measured against all other industrialized nations.

No Winners At Super Bowl Following Death of Philip Seymour Hoffman

Phillip-Seymour-HoffmanNEW YORK, NY The Denver Bronces, the Seattle Seahawks, the NFL, and every man, woman, and child on the planet that has ever been inspired by the arts all collectively lost Super Bowl XLVIII today before it even began when groundbreaking Academy Award winner, theatrical innovator, husband, and doting father Philip Seymour Hoffman, one of the most respected and admired artists of this or any time, was found dead of an apparent drug overdose in his Manhattan apartment at the age of 46.

The cultural loss is incalculable.

In Defense of Alex Rodriguez

imagesby Matthew DeCapua

The initial punishment handed down to Alex Rodriguez by Major League Baseball in the wake of the Bosch Anti-Aging Clinic scandal, an unprecedented 211-game suspension for the fallen superstar, seemed somehow not right.

To wit: why was Rodriguez’s suspension more than four times as severe as those of other players who were guilty of the same infraction?

The cynical answer is, of course, money. As the game’s highest-paid player it stands to reason (for some) that should Rodriguez ever be caught cheating the punishment should be commensurate with the enormous wealth he has amassed playing baseball.

A more vengeful answer might be that Alex Rodriguez is, to use the vernacular, a complete wanker. By all accounts he is a pretentious, egomaniacal, spoiled man-child, who is universally disliked even by fans of his own team(s). At best, he comes across as arrogant. At worst, he can act and sound like an unequivocal asshole.

However.

If justice and fair play are the penultimate goals of Major League Baseball, then obviously these two reasons carry no weight. The rules are supposed to be the same whether a player makes league minimum or the biggest salary ever inked into a contract. Likewise, as there are no dispensations for being an otherwise nice guy, neither can there be additional penalties for being a prick.

Perhaps, then,  justice and fair play are not the primary aim.

There can be no doubt that Major League Baseball has endured a decades-long systemic league-wide era of rampant performance-enhancing drug use. This epidemic infected all 31 of the 31 clubhouses. To various degrees, nearly everyone involved in baseball during this era is in some way, shape or form, complicit. The players, untold numbers of them, who used the drugs. The other players, an embarrassingly small fraction of them, who did not use PEDs but saw others dope up and chose to remain silent about it. The coaches and trainers who helped administer the drugs, privately advocated their use, and/or willingly turned a blind eye. The press, who had suspicions, but chose not to investigate because stories about players accomplishing impossible on-field feats sold newspapers and sports books. And the owners, the networks, and the entity of Major League Baseball itself, all of whom sit at the top of the pyramid and profit obscenely from all of it.

Every single one of these complicit entities — players, coaches, scouts, reporters, networks, commentators, front offices, owners, and the league itself — were making a living, and in many cases a killing, by protecting the status quo. The pursuit of money was paramount in all of their minds, and the singular driving force behind all of the complicity.

A good financial world parallel would be the housing market bubble. All of the major players knew something serious was wrong. Many of them were actively cheating the system. Everyone was profiting from it. The only question was how long until the bubble burst.

In both instances, of course, everyone now knows that the emperor was wearing no clothes.

But this isn’t the story that’s playing out in the press — the same press that is undeniably part of the profiteering of the steroid era. This should be an age of humble mea culpas from essentially every single person connected to Major League Baseball, including the league itself, over the last twenty years. There should be a broad, transparent, and very public discussion about not only how to emphatically end the steroid era, but also how to prevent future similar scandals. This discussion should include a great many people, from the commissioner on down to the bat boys, from network executives on down to beat reporters, standing up and saying “I was wrong.”

But that’s not what’s happening.

Instead, there is a race to see who can point the biggest finger at the player most likely to successfully be framed not so much as emblematic of a broad, pervasive, all-inclusive, institutional problem, but rather as the problem, individually and independent of everyone and everything else.

The first such player to be saddled with this burden was Barry Bonds. The second was Roger Clemens. And now the third in the trifecta is Alex Rodriguez. The common elements of the three are that they all doped, they all became rich and famous thanks to baseball, and they’re all jerks with terrible personal reputations, bad press relationships, and few friends in places that matter.

Like nearly every fan, I would like to see Major League Baseball and the press that covers the game rigorously work to get performance enhancing drugs off the field and out of the clubhouses, and to deliver the message, especially to the game’s younger fans, that cheaters never prosper. But I am concerned that the public prosecution and disproportionate punishment of a player like Rodriguez represents an institution not so much interested in reform or making admission of an environment in which all parties were culpable, so much as an institution primarily concerned with its money.

The prosecution of Rodriguez and the zeal with which the press has covered it suggests that the fundamental flaw that permitted the steroid era in the first place has not yet even begun to be addressed. All of the pieces are therefore in place for future scandals that will threaten the integrity of the game.

You can’t pin that on Alex Rodriguez.