Sunday, April 19, 2009

Washington DC: Mission Improbable

Word came to me in my bunker late on a Sunday night whilst I dined upon a chorizo burrito. Disconcertingly, my visit to the nation's capital the previous autumn had not actually succeeded in solving all of the nation's problems - much less the rest of the world's own particular dilemmas. Not one to give up after one failure (I usually wait for two) I vowed to return and set things right. It just so happened that my cousin Jen was getting married and I already had a hotel room and flight booked, so I said what the hell, let's do this thing.
As a history major I learned that we often repeat the same mistakes over the years - if we can learn what our errors were in the past, maybe we can avoid similar glorious fuck-ups in the future. Therefore, I chose upon arriving to review these foregone events by visiting the Smithsonian Museums located on the Mall leading up to the Capital building, the place where Congress takes a dump on our lives whenever they can be bothered to be in session.
While beginning to peruse the roughly seven billion exhibits, I realized I may have overloaded my plate at the buffet as it were. I should probably have given myself more than a couple days to try to look at that many things. Too late though, since my flight was scheduled to leave on Sunday, I had to make the best of it and learn what I could. I decided to stick mainly to a couple of museums - the newly restored American History Smithsonian, for the previously stated reasons, and the Natural History Museum because I like to taunt dead things and gaze upon pretty rocks. The latter museum was probably a bit off mission, but I am a bit A.D.D., so what are you gonna do?
I learned a great deal from my wanderings. After the first floor exhibits, which included areas dedicated to Native Americans, slaves, and Jews I gathered that our forefathers were excellent at killing and enslaving people. Our generation has really slacked as far as that goes and we really need to get back to the basics. Whenever our ancestors were having a rough time they could just massacre a tribe or whip their chattel. What our society really needs is a scapegoat to blame for all our problems - then we can just blame them and pretend we are in no way responsible. It doesn't solve our difficulties, but it sure can take the edge off. Let me recommend the gay illegal immigrant welfare recipients as an excellent target, they piss off just about everyone.
After solving our nation's complicated domestic issues I meandered back to my hotel, where after the maintenance men managed to open the broken lock for the second time (not my fault either time surprisingly) I got dressed for the rehearsal dinner. We joined an intimate party of thirty family members and friends at a tapas restaurant called Jaleo, located in the Crystal City area just south of the city proper.
The meal included fried potatoes, spanish omelets, red beet salad, sauteed spinach salad, wild mushroom rice, seared salmon, mussels, shrimp, hanger steak, pork sausage, and chicken, with a custard and a hazelnut and chocolate mousse for dessert. All of this was washed down with a variety of sangria. If you think that sounds like an impressive pile of vittles you are indeed correct.
As round after round of food appeared I felt like a bruised and battered Muhammad Ali, taking a stomach pounding every time I got in the ring for three minutes to battle another dish. Okay that's a bit of an exaggeration, the boxing bit sounds painful and the experience was anything but. In truth, the dinner better resembled a medieval banquet. I was treated like a king that night, the only thing missing was the peasant servicing me while I munched on a chicken wing and guzzled ale.
I could not forget that I was on business as well, so I ducked out early and met up some friends of mine, one of whom works in military intelligence, to get a better read on the international relations scene. After several hours of drinking together at a bar - or as we call it in the biz, networking, I was well prepared to face the foreign boogie men that I would confront upon the morrow.
I woke early, around eleven A.M. or so, and prepared to take on the international scene. Unfortunately, due to a blackout in no way induced by alcohol, I had forgotten my buddy's advice from the previous evening. Oh well, they say military intelligence is an oxymoron anyway.
My hotel was located in the vicinity of a couple of embassies so I decided to check them out to see if they were worth having relations with and such. Tunisia's was right across the street so I headed there first. From my research I learned the country was formally known as Carthage, which was destroyed by the Romans centuries ago. The next thousand years were little better, the Tunisians were run over by a conquering Arab horde and converted to Islam, which is still the state religion there today. This pathetic loser country even fell to Ukraine in the 2006 World Cup. No self-respecting American would want to befriend these surrender monkeys. I decided to go elsewhere.
My distaste for Tunisia left me with only one other option if I was going to make the wedding in time. The glorious republic of Kazakhstan! According to reliable sources Kazakhstan is number one in potassium, other countries are inferior in potassium. In addition, they have the greatest prostitutes in the region, except, of course, for Turkmenistan.
Claiming that all other countries are run by little girls, Kazakhstan has also never lost a war. They haven't participated in one either, since the country is only twenty something years old, but that is entirely beside the point. We are a nation of winners currently in need of friends and, hey, these guys at least aren't losers yet. As if all that weren't enough, they had a bad ass statue of a knight riding a winged dog in front of their building. What else do you want in an ally America?
There were probably one or two global conflicts still unresolved yet, but I had run out of time. I threw on my monkey suit and headed to the Carnegie Science Hall (not to be confused with the Carnegie Deli or even Carnegie Hall, where I one day plan to become the first performer clothed solely in sandals and a bow tie to simultaneously juggle unicorns and chainsaws), the site for the solemn ceremony.
This exchanging of vows was the first I had ever attended that did not involve WASPs or similar people awkwardly feigning Protestantism as their religion. Having grown up and lived my entire existence in the bible belt, my exposure to non-Christians has been extremely limited. There was a total of two Jewish kids in my high school and the poor guys probably felt like zoo exhibits most of the time. I was excited to expand my cultural horizons and view the Hebrew version of the sacred event. If my cousin and her husband are any kind of example, the whole thing involves a lot of laughing - scratch the word solemn from the last paragraph and replace it with laid back.
First off, a Jewish wedding is known as kiddushin, which translates as dedication or sanctification. The couple undergoes the ceremony while standing underneath a canopy, known as a chuppah (which I believe is named after the main bad guy in Super Mario Brothers). The chuppah symbolizes the roof or home under which the two will spend the rest of their lives, assuming they aren't homeless Jewish people I suppose.
The central aspect of the rites is known as the ketuvah or marriage contract. The document state's the groom's responsibilities towards his new wife, which include food, clothing, shelter, and a little of the stinky pinky from time to time. After the reading of the ketuvah, the groom seals the deal by stomping out a poor, defenseless wine glass while the spectators yell "Mazel tov," a Hebrew expression of congratulations. If you find the death of the wine glass destructive, I suggest avoiding Greek weddings, where an amount of china equivalent to the GDP of Peru is usually shattered.
These proceedings are then followed by dancing, the high point of which is "Hava Nagila" a traditional Jewish wedding tune. During the song the friends and family of the bride and groom cavort in circular ecstasy, climaxing in the seating of the couple, who are then picked up while seated and shaken about. Somehow, no one died.
Of course there was also booze, and enough food to have fed the Russian army for the entirety of World War II. I would go into the detail about this smorgasbord, but my editor is publishing a monthly magazine, not the Oxford English Dictionary.
After a quick breakfast the next morning and a trip to Arlington National Cemetery to honor our nation's fallen heroes, my trip came to an end. My visit may not have had the Super Friends world-saving aspect to it that I had hoped, but I did learn a great deal about people that are different from myself. I think if we could all do that there is a good chance a lot of humanity's would take care of themselves.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Latest Obsfucation

Lawyers love to lie, they have taken the ability to twist the truth and transformed it into an art form. As a result, those who are the most successful at their occupation move on to a second career in public service. Yes, if you haven't already guessed it, the majority of politicians have been employed as an attorney previous to their years on Capitol Hill.
To some extent this connection between lawyers and legislation makes a lot of sense. Who better to write our laws than those who have spent their lives studying our government's various statutes and regulations? On the other hand, they do seem to have a bit of an honesty problem and when they lie, an unfortunate amount of people believe them. Evenly more sadly, many of these believers include the members of our media who (sometimes knowingly and sometimes not) further disseminate this information to the public whose bullshit detectors are often shut off after a long day of dealing with the same at work.
The latest example with which I present you tonight is the Secretary of Defense's budget, currently under discussion. Keep in mind before you read these outrageous quotes from real representatives that the current proposal raises the amount spent on the military by 4%. Not lowers, raises. This is an important detail as you prepare to confront the various lies you are about to be told by our former lawyer friends. Personally I disagree with the administration, but not for the same reasons as the loonies to follow. IMHO spending more on the military during such hard economic times is absolutely ridiculous.
I could go on but this post is about the truth challenged ones and I will now cede the stage to them. If you care to further question my personal opinions on the matter or if you just want to tell me to shut the hell up, the comments page is now open....and now without further ado, the lineup of liars.
1. Roger Wicker, Senator Mississippi
"National defense is not the national culprit when it comes to national debt and the national deficit each year. The deficit is mainly a function of the domestic spending program; particularly, the rapid growth of our entitlement programs."

Wrong. Massive government deficits started when Reagan doubled our military spending in an effort to defeat the Russians in the mid 1980s. Spending has at no point decreased since then despite the end of the Cold War. Regardless of how you feel about Reagan's decision, Wicker is either obviously lying or pretty ignorant of what is very recent history. (Check out this great article on how the deficit ballooned out of control)

Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma warned against “sending our sons and daughters into combat in vehicles that are second-rate.” And of course, the lie du jour everyone is spouting now: "in all the time we're doing this, increasing all these welfares...the only thing in the budget that's being cut is military."

Wrong. The budget cuts, such as they are, do not relate to ground operations in Iraq and Afghanistan - they relate to weapons systems in production that are running over cost or failing to produce accurate and reliable weaponry. One wonders where Inhofe was when our boys were getting blown up my IEDs in Iraq because their vehicles lacked proper armor, a problem that took Congress years of fatalities before they addressed.

3. US Rep Mary Fallin Oklahoma (I wonder how many of these factories producing military hardware are in Oklahoma...hmmm)

President Obama’s military budget cuts reflect misplaced priorities and a sense of naïveté we can ill-afford,” Fallin said. “With the United States fighting two wars and threats growing from rogue nations like Iran and North Korea, now is not the time to pull the rug out from under our armed services.

Wrong. Liar three also repeats the fact that the budget is being cut. When you spend more money, that is not a budget cut. Thanks for playing. Oh and that Iran and North Korea are going to nuke us lie. That is an old one that never fails to get a laugh. One bomb from those fools and their country would exist for all of fifteen more minutes. Apologies to their neighbors for the resulting fallout.

4. Tom Price US Rep, Georgia
"It seems the only place the President is willing to cut spending is on the armed forces," Price said. "The President's priorities are deeply flawed. We will fight to preserve this important program."
This decision will not only cost thousands of jobs at a critical time, it is detrimental to the country's national defense capabilities," Price added.

Wrong. Are you tired of hearing essentially the same spiel from these various liars? Me too :)! In the political world this is called a talking point. When a group of these liars repeat the same lie over and over again until the media begins to treat what they are saying as the truth and filter as such to you through the medium of half-assed news programs.
Our combined military spending (which is going to go up 4% by the way) is equal to the military budgets of the next 20 largest militaries on the planet. If that number sounds insane, that's because it pretty much is insane. If we aren't safe than no one else is and that is a fact. Except for maybe Andorra, since no one knows it is there. By the way, the budget also gives a well-earned 2.9% raise to our military personnel.

5. Todd Akin US Rep

Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) joined in the fun, saying that "[w]hile President Obama is pushing for mind-boggling increases in domestic spending, the one place he wants to cut spending is defense" "This makes no sense," Akin went on, "not only because the world is not becoming safer, but because these cuts will eliminate thousands of well-paying jobs across America."

Wrong. Have I mentioned that increasing the budget is not a budget cut? Akin does get to the crux of the issue though - jobs. If these jobs are the equivalent of paying someone to dig a hole and then fill it up again what of use is being created by them? By all means, let's employ these folks, and I am fine if the government pays their wages, but let's have them produce something that America needs rather than these fancy weapons systems that will end up next to the Ark of the Covenant in that warehouse, wherever if may be (I will find it damn it).

6. Joe Lieberman, Senator Connecticutt

Connecticut's Joe Lieberman (Independent) warned that it's too dangerous not to invest more heavily in missile defense.

Wrong. Missile defense is a boondoggle that has never worked and has cost our country billions of wasted dollars. It could be worse, though. What if it actually did work? Our relations with other nuclear powers, specifically the USSR during the Cold War were based on the concept of MAD or mutually assured destruction. No one would dare fire upon the other because both sides had so many weapons that they would be able to strike back and no one would come out the winner. Thus nuclear war isn't very appealing an idea. However, with an effective missile defense shield one side could win, making the idea of nuclear devastation more palatable. Also, spies dating back to the Rosenbergs have always been able to obtain these secrets so all our money will likely be spent in vain anyway, as our enemy would soon have the same technology. The Chinese have had recent success in the area of nuclear espionage as well.

I want to thank all of our liars/Congressmen and women who were so kind to appear in my piece today. I look forward to picking apart their sad attempts to fool the public in the future. If you have some time, sit back for a laugh and let Jon Stewart sum up the whole mess.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

A New World Cup Qualifier

As one of the growing masses of soccer fans in America (there are now nearly ten of us at least) I was watching the United States national team dynamite TNT on Wednesday night. Granted, they prefer to be known as Trinidad and Tobago, but TNT sounds a lot more impressive and allows me the opportunity to insert a truly awful pun. During the game's occasional lulls my eye wandered to the scoreboard at the bottom of the screen which was showing the various results from different qualifiers around the world that day.
One bludgeoning that really stuck out was the match between Poland and San Marino, which finished in the favor of the light bulb screwers by a score of 10 to nil (nil is a soccer term denoting the fact that your team is offensively impotent and unlikely to get laid so you might as well be that way sexually as well). What the hell, I wondered, is San Marino. Had some rich ass hole created a country and decided to name it after Dan Marino? Being an inquiring mind, I looked up the nation on Wikipedia. With the beauty of the internets now you can to if you are so inclined.
So the "Serene Republic of San Marino doesn't sound all that intimidating does it? No wonder they got slaughtered in their little football encounter. The other reason might be that there are approximately 20 adult males of soccer playing age who are citizens of the country, which is the smallest in Europe population wise that participates in European soccer. Sadly, the pope (AKA the Vatican City Virgins) does not field a team.
Of course this whole incident led to a fermentation of various wacky thoughts within my skull, resulting in a tremendous epiphany. First, how many Pollocks did it take to screw in the light bulb that went on when I came up with this idea?
Let's leave that as a rhetorical question and move on to the crux - I want to create my own country so that me and my buddies can compete to gain a spot in the World Cup. My group will be easily more qualified than San Marino. First of all, we will have a kick ass name that will make all other soccer playing nations shiver in fear when they see our name upon their schedule. Argenitalzilmany! As you will notice the names of all the top winners of World Cups past have been integrated seamlessly into a concoction that will cause mass urination inside the pants of any of our contestants. If we are really lucky, self-defecation will also occur leading to our opponents' disqualification. I hope that is a rule anyway, who wants to play soccer against a bunch of mobile portolets.
Most importantly, I can come up with some serious talent to take on the world. I know way more than 20 adult males, so right there we have San Marino beat. I was the third string goalie for my high school JV team, so that should be all the talent we need. All I have to do is convince nineteen other soccer players (or reasonable facsimiles) to leave their lives in the United States behind, purchase a piece of property, declare independence and defeat the inevitable invading US army. Obviously that will be simple, so I won't bore you to death with the details there. We can even get Maradonna to be our coach, since after getting his head beat against Bolivia this week, he probably won't be allowed back into the country of Argentina. He will always be welcome in Argenitalzilmany.
Well, there you have it, my fiendish plan in a nutshell. If you are interested in joining the team, or in being one of my groupies, just give me a call and we shall chat upon the matter in a jovial manner. If you would rather read some serious soccer material, however, please check out my good friend Robert and his magnificent site Futbol USA.