Shop and Shoot

We are being ruled by thespians and gangsters. Far from incompetent, they are lethally good at what they do. They create crisis after crisis, then solve each by sacrificing countless innocents while enriching themselves. Whatever the challenge, domestic or international, their only goals are to gorge and to gouge, so they never fail, actually, even when they miscalculate. They’ll make money blowing things up, and they’ll make even more pretending to fix what they have destroyed. They never pay for their mistakes, only you do, and when they function perfectly, you will still pick up the check, if not bleed. In fact, you will pay even more if they’re in top form.

During this never ending public spectacle, they’ve introduced us to a cast of rather outlandish characters: a stuttering Texas idiot; a fist bumping, long range shooting and Harvard educated Muslim Commie; a blow job-loving burger clown. Splitting into opposing camps, they’ve climbed into a ring to perform for the whole world. In the front row, a mob of rightish and leftish pundits. These ad-peddling charlatans have parsed each choke slamming and brain busting move as if it was real. Thus, Obama tapped out on canvas. Thus, Obama steam rolled by Republicans. Thus, Obama’s bad bargain. Obama caved in. He no criminal, he weak. Thus, Obama surrendered.

Those who don’t swallow entirely these farcical blow by blows are branded nutcases and conspiracy theorists. Whether it’s about 9/11, Bin Laden, Iraq, Afghanistan, War on Terror, Iran, Underwear Bomber, BP oil spill, Corexit, Libya, death of Bin Laden, on and on and on, the official narrative is always, and I mean always, nonsense, yet repeated often enough, from all angles, left, right and center, these clumsy fairy tales will coalesce in the brainpans of the inattentive or stupid as uncontestable truths and history.

In spite of all the recent bombast about fiscal responsibility and shared sacrifice, the wasteful wars continue, though few Americans can tell you why or even where we’re unleashing horror, hatred and sorrow. America must kill because wars are so lucrative. No other country has been fighting so continuously, for so long. Anham, a Northern Virginia company, has just been busted for charging the Pentagon $900 for a $7 control switch, $3,000 for a $100 circuit breaker, and $80 for a $1.41 piece of plumbing equipment. Blah, blah, blah. Tell me something new, why don’t you? And Lockheed Martin has just been given a $72 million contract to install those universally despised, irradiating scanners at 300 U.S. airports.

Meanwhile, one in six Americans is on food stamps, and more and more Americans are losing jobs, including teachers, firemen and cops, as unemployed and deranged teens run wild in “flash mobs” to beat up random strangers. It has happened repeatedly in Philadelphia, my neck of the woods, as well as Chicago, Milwaukee, Kansas City, Boston, Brooklyn, South Orange and Greensboro. There are racial and class components to this phenomenon, as these wilding youngsters are invariably poor blacks converging on white shopping districts. In the latest episode, an 11-year-old Philly kid was arrested for assaulting a stranger.

With these mobs, all the pathologies of a post-industrial, post productive society, with its dead-end jobs, bad schools and a nonstop, stupefying media, are on full display. Another factor not often cited is the phenomenon of children being raised almost exclusively by strangers, practically right after birth, and the poorer the kids, the crappier the quality of daycare and subsequent schooling. How many times have you seen black women push strollers with well dressed white children, so the rich kids are pampered by their parents and nannies, while the poor ones are left alone in nightmarish neighborhoods. Also, when your government is so openly corrupt, anger is inevitable, although punching a stranger in the face is certainly not a solution. The biggest criminals are out of sight, leaving us bottom feeders to inflict pain on each other.

In any struggle, it’s important to know the nature of your enemy. Is he a klutz, prone to a goofy mistake now and then, or does he have murder on his mind? Again, we are being lorded over by a gang of criminals. War criminals.

For two years, there was a military entertainment complex inside a Philadelphia area shopping mall. At the Army Experience Center, young teens could play shoot them up, blood splattering video games for free, while those over 18 could climb into a realistic mockup of a tank or chopper to massacre bad guys in desert settings, also for free. An advertisement: SHOP FOR SOCKS. GRAB A BITE. PILOT AN AH-64 ATTACK HELICOPTER. After receiving 40,000 visitors and enlisting 236 recruits, the Army decided to shut down this 13-million dollar facility on July of 2010, “It’s been a great success. Basically it’s mission accomplished.”

Though it had planned on opening more of these centers, the Army soon realized there was no longer a need. Thanks to the Mother of All Depressions and rapidly increasing unemployment, desperate Americans are flocking to recruitment stations even without the promise of a free video game. It’s a win, win situation for our military industrial complex: destroy the economy, and Americans will enlist. They will beg to be blown up.

Linh Dinh is the author of two books of stories, five of poems, and a novel, Love Like Hate. He's tracking our deteriorating social scape through his frequently updated photo blog, Postcards from the End of America. Read other articles by Linh.