May 25, 2007
the global war on ideological doctrine
Presidential candidate John Edwards this week again rejected the notion that there was a “Global War on Terror” during a speech addressing foreign policy calling it nothing more than an “ideological doctrine.”
Before you dismiss him, consider the facts. First, in order for something to be
considered “global,” it has to be happening all around the globe. Yes, you
could argue that there have been Islamist-related terrorist attacks in
Thailand, London, Madrid, Yemen and New York. However if we… oh, and Indonesia, the Philippines and Morocco. But that doesn’t necessarily mean… wait, also Turkey,
Ethiopa and Pakistan.
Anyway, that doesn’t (and India), that doesn’t necessarily
make it “global” per se. Not when you
think of all the places where there haven’t been Islamist terrorist
attacks. Lichtenstein, the northern
region of Canada’s Yukon territory, the housewares
aisle at most Target discount stores and the breakfast buffet at Caesar’s
Palace (unless you consider calling a pan of scrambled eggs an “omelet” an act
Global? Yeah, right.
And is it really a war? The dictionary defines war as “a conflict carried on by force of arms, as between nations or between parties within a nation.” But how can you explain the fact that “War” is also a 1970s multicultural musical crossover funk-rock fusion band?
Simple, you can’t.
And as for “terror” well, that’s open to interpretation. Is blowing yourself up in a market crowded with women and children an act of so-called “terrorism?” Maybe, but then so is paying $400 for a single haircut when it was clearly worth no more than $350 and no one is talking about sending the 82nd Airborne into Beverly Hills to secure the drying stations.
The entire notion of there being some kind of global war on terror is particularly disturbing when we are facing a very real threat, one that is being almost completely ignored by our leaders. A threat so serious that it’s unfortunate victims term it the “worst form of terrorism:”
According to the foreign ministers of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Islamophobia is the “deliberate defamation of Islam and discrimination and intolerance against Muslims.”
You are no doubt guilty of this yourself. For instance, you probably think that as many as one-third of all American Muslims do not object to suicide bombings. That’s absurd. The real number is only one-quarter.
That feeling you have right now? That’s called shame.
And this Islamophobia is only getting worse, inexplicably
gaining “momentum after the Madrid and London bombings [and the] killing of Dutch
film director Theo van Gogh,” according to the ministers.
It’s like a world gone mad.
Statistics don’t lie: According to the FBI, in 2002 Muslim-Americans were the target of 10.8% of all hate crimes that were motivated by religious bias. In 2005, the latest year for which statistics are available, that number grew to 10.7%. Well, “grew” in the sense that it decreased, but that’s not important right now.
What is important is that we encourage John Edwards, now released from having to pay attention to the purely ideological doctrine of the Global War on Terror to champion a campaign to address the real threat to peace and domestic tranquility:
The Global War on Islamophobia.
May 23, 2007
maybe if they wait until nightfall and hide the bill in the trunk they can get it through the senate…
The immigration compromise to emerge from a closed-door Senate committee last week was a stunning achievement in that it managed to not only enrage conservatives, but also liberals. A strange brew that, while it rewards those who have already broken the law with citizenship, at least creates a new large and resentful underclass of low-paid workers with little hope of citizenship and so every incentive to stay illegally!
See, that’s why you’re not a United States Senator.
In celebration of this singular accomplishment, we’ve prepared a new, revised version of Neil Diamond’s “America.”
They’ve been traveling far
But with a car
It doesn’t matter
Between law and money
We’ll take the latter
Cleaning rooms and mowing grass
They’re coming to America
Don’t need to get a pass
They’re coming to America
No more family reunification
If you want to go for legalization
Who needs uncles anyway
Who needs uncles anyway
Legal guest workers can come for two years
Then get thrown out on their rears
The American dream
The American dream
It’s so easy to jump the line
They’re coming to America
Just need to pay a fine
They’re coming to America
They're coming to America
They're coming to America
They're coming to America
They're coming to America
Today, today, today, today, today
My country 'tis of thee
Sweet land of amnesty
De usted canto
De usted canto
May 22, 2007
sorta kinda part-time temporary hiatus
Really, I should just take a complete break for a few months but I know I won’t be able to help myself, so expect to see updates here, but more like once a week or so (which I’ve been veering towards lately anyway).
Why? Mainly because I’ve been trying to get a book project off the ground and hope that cutting back will free up some time for that. Although regular readers will find this hard to believe, I do put quite a few hours into each piece. No, really. I don’t just dash them off in fifteen minutes in some kind of drunken stupor. (It takes longer than fifteen minutes when you are in a drunken stupor.)
For those of you with further questions I’ve prepared this handy FAQ:
Q: How often
should we be checking back then?
A: Probably every week or two depending on the Internet privileges the warden gives you.
Q: Hey, not all your readers are in prison.
A: Sorry, you’re right. You should check back as often as your doctor believes it won’t interfere with your substance abuse recovery regimen.
Q: Thank you.
Q: So, what’s
this book you’re working on all about?
A: It’s a quirky, heartwarming tale of Anna Walsh who has returned to the bosom of her family in the Dublin suburbs to recuperate from a horrendous car accident. A lonely and debilitated Anna leaves e-mails and phone messages for her mysteriously absent husband, Aidan, pleading for him to reply…
Q: Wait, that sounds like the Publisher’s Weekly review of Marian Keyes’ latest chick-lit novel, “Anybody Out There?”
A: Okay, okay, I’m writing a book that lays out the fundamental approach Planet Moron takes to politics and the social structures within which we organize ourselves addressing the unavoidable tension between the necessities of institutional authority and the paramount importance of individual liberty as both relate to…
Q: So, does that mean that we won’t find out if Anna Walsh finds a measure of inner peace in a world fraught with disappointment?
A: Um, no.
Q: Because we were really starting to connect with the character.
Q: Have you ever
grown discouraged that you’ll never be able to expand your writing beyond what
is obviously a style that barely rises to the level of niche appeal and that
your book project will only set you up for further failure and bitter
A: Well, no, not until just now.
Q: Because we thought maybe that would’ve come up before.
A: No, not really.
Q: That’s a bit of a surprise.
A: I can see that.
Q: So, really, no one’s ever…
A: Okay, I get it, I get it.
Q: Not to be
overly suspicious, but with summer coincidentally just around the corner it sounds like all you’re really going to do with your
extra time is sit around and drink frozen margaritas.
A: Absolutely not, this is a serious undertaking and one to which I am fully dedicated.
Q: What’s the first chapter about?
A: I’m sorry, what was that? I can’t hear you over the blender…
May 11, 2007
to boldly go where no man has gone before. as far as we can tell.
How many of you have dreamed that maybe some day you would break free of earth’s gravity, soar into the sky, reach for the heavens…
Well, what might have once been thought of as little more
than a childish fantasy can now be realized, if only posthumously. Thanks to the low-cost memorial services
offered by the “Celestis Legacy Flight, Earth Return Service,” you can finally fulfill
your life’s ambition.
Always sensitive to the dignity of those who have passed, Celestis Legacy Flight will provide you with the kind of lasting honor that can only come from solemnly stuffing a portion of your cremated remains into a small capsule with 199 strangers and sending it soaring off the radar to plow into the New Mexico landscape.
The inaugural mission of the Celestis Legacy Flight last week included the remains of James Doohan, famous for playing the popular chief engineer, “Scotty” on the Star Trek television series. Noted one long-time fan, “It's only fitting that an individual who gained fame and notoriety for having played a space traveler only to have his career plunge rapidly out of sight, should be honored in this manner.”
Many doubted that the young space company could successfully manage to lose a 110-pound payload in an unpopulated area of the American southwest particularly considering all the attention being paid to the launch. But as Eric Knight, chief executive officer of parent company UP Aerospace, exulted, “We nailed it. We stuck the landing.”
Another launch is planned for this fall so be sure to reserve space for your loved ones now. Nobody really wants to have his or her ashes scattered on the ocean, tossed into a flowing river or thrown out a moving car onto the parking lot median of the local Target (don’t ask).
Call us romantics, but we think what people really want is to have their remains hopelessly lost in the steep rugged terrain of New Mexico enveloped in thick vegetation.
Or are we just confusing that with Bill Richardson’s presidential campaign…
May 09, 2007
put down the credit card and step away from the pump…
It should come as no surprise that in these days of rising gasoline prices, some disreputable service station owners would attempt to take advantage of the situation by engaging in a practice long deplored by all fair-minded people:
In a vile attempt to attract customers by reducing prices, Wisconsin BP station owner Raj Bhandari was caught red-handed offering senior citizens two-cents-per-gallon discounts on the price of gasoline. That might not sound like much now but where would it all end? Today it’s two cents a gallon. Tomorrow it’s four. The next thing you know, gasoline stations all over the state would be competing based on a chaotic mix of price, convenience, service and location.
Stepping in to put an end to Mr. Bhandari’s brazen attempt to skirt Wisconsin’s Unfair Sales Act and in doing so, surely rescuing us from a future of anarchy and bedlam, are the vigilant watchdogs of the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection which sent a letter to the renegade discounter demanding that he raise his prices or face thousands of dollars in fines and penalties.
The state of Wisconsin: Keeping prices high so you don’t have to.
The state's Unfair Sales Act was originally passed during
the Depression and prohibits anyone from selling gasoline at less than a 3%
markup over wholesale costs. The law is
intended to ensure that large retailers such as Wal-Mart can’t undercut the
small mom and pop outfits that have so become a familiar and charming part of
our urban landscape. Sure, you wouldn’t mind
saving a few bucks a tank but then you’d miss out on the down-home feel of your
locally owned ExxonMobile franchise with its authentically mud-caked
complimentary window squeegees and the delightful $6-an-hour high school senior
dozing off behind a pane of half-inch thick bulletproof glass.
Besides, being able to fill up while you shop for food and
other household items at Wal-Mart would save you an extra trip to go get gas.
The state of Wisconsin: Helping to warm up the earth so Al Gore has something to do.
As the presidential elections heat up, the episode has national implications as well.
“In case you missed
it this week,” presidential candidate Barack Obama told those assembled for a campaign rally in Richmond, Virginia, “There was a tragedy in Wisconsin.
Gasoline was discounted and ten thousand people died — an entire town
destroyed.” (A spokesperson for the
Also weighing in on the matter was Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani who, in keeping with his decisive, post-9/11 demeanor, said in no uncertain terms that enforcement of the Unfair Sales Act “Would be, you know, OK. Either or. Six of one half a dozen of another. Whatever.”
This is but one small battle won, but there will be more, whether it’s outright price cuts or nefarious schemes to offer “free” coffee with a fill up. (Come on, how stupid do they think we are? That’s a discount, and we’ll have none of those shenanigans here.)
If, as Wendell Phillips once said, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty,” then just as surely “Liberty is the price of eternal 3% wholesale markups.”
Which is probably what he meant to say anyway.
May 07, 2007
tall is in the eye of the leaseholder
Let’s say you want to revitalize a boring, lifeless section of town that is currently dominated by nothing but a bunch of tall buildings. What do you do?
You propose adding even taller buildings!
That is the plan approved by Arlington, Virginia for the Rosslyn section of the county where a local developer is preparing to build one residential building and one office building just across the river from Washington DC. The signature feature of the project, and what is expected to be a chief tourist attraction, is a multi-level observation deck in the 31-story office building.
31 stories. Sure, it’s hard for the human mind to grasp numbers so large, but think of it this way: Take one story, and multiply it by 31. Yeah, it’s THAT tall. In fact, when completed, it will be the 13,453rd tallest building in the country! (123,654th tallest if you include China. Actually, if you include just Beijing. Maybe even just the Olympic Village.) What tourist wouldn’t clamor for the opportunity to be whisked 388 feet into the air (Wow!) where the people on the street below would appear to be scurrying around just like slightly smaller people?
The observation deck is expected to offer not only a
stunning panorama of the Washington skyline but also breathtaking views of the
panic-stricken faces of airline pilots and their passengers as they attempt to dodge the
buildings on their final approach to nearby Reagan National Airport.
“Gosh Dad, that one lady looked just like mom does when you
come home a day early from a business trip!”
The observation deck is such an integral part of the project that Commissioner Nancy Hunt felt it was important to point out that “it wouldn’t be a benefit without the views.” Sure, other municipalities may have been hoodwinked into approving ground-level observation decks (“It says here that if we put a quarter in the viewer we’ll be able to read the bus schedule across the street!”) but not Arlington County.
Jim Pebley, an Arlington planning commissioner, noted that "It will become Rosslyn's main attraction."
This is undoubtedly true, as Rosslyn’s current main attraction is the Auntie Anne’s Pretzels on North Lynn Street.
But not just Rosslyn, the excited Mr. Pebley goes on, but rather "It will beat anything else in the capital, including the Washington monument. It will be where you take your folks when they come to visit."
“Mom, Dad, I know you traveled a long way. That’s why we’re going to an office
Even without the observation deck, it’s easy to see why the
tribute to a pivotal figure in our nation’s history, sheathed in gleaming white
marble serving as a testament to the greatness of the country he helped bring
Con: No Starbucks.
Two Random Tall Buildings:
Pros: Au Bon Pain
on premises, free wireless Internet.
Con: In Rosslyn.
Since the county is allowing the destruction of public parks to make way for the project, the developer has offered to allow residents to visit the observation deck for free between 6:00 AM and 6:15 AM, on the first Friday of every month that begins with an “F” during leap years (so there is some room for negotiation there).
Ultimately, the buildings will redefine the skyline of Rosslyn. As the architects point out, “The form and materials of the two glass towers reflect a sense of transparency, lightness and quiet elegance.”
But hey, either or.
May 04, 2007
ten men show ken
Of the ten GOP presidential hopefuls, the top three have been married six times (Not to mention that the latest Mrs. Giuliani is herself at 3. And counting.). This made the debate less like a gathering of GOP presidential hopefuls and more like an Academy Awards after party.
Assembling at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in the same hangar where the former Air Force One is housed was meant to evoke the grandeur of an earlier age and pay homage to one of the Republican Party’s greats but instead made the event feel like a mechanics union strike meeting only with better haircuts.
As we did for the Democrats last week, we provide a brief summary of the candidates:
Rudy Giuliani: As a former Mayor of New York, Hizzoner’s experience running a large city brings a unique perspective to the race and suggests that he would appeal to those Americans who believe potholes and broken streelights to be this nation’s #1 problems. Rudy also has a background that could charitably be described as “authoritarian” which will surely appeal to those Republicans who think that George Bush has been way too cozy with the ACLU.
Tommy Thompson: The four-time Wisconsin Governor and former HHS Secretary under President Bush spent the entire debate looking like a post-Jenny Craig Jabba the Hut checking to see if he dropped something on his tie. However he may have won the “mine is bigger than yours” tax cut contest by noting that as governor he had cut taxes eleventy thousand times saving taxpayers 43 bazillion dollars. (But we’re going from memory on this one.)
Mitt Romney: One cannot discuss the Romney candidacy
without addressing the elephant in the room. Yes, the “M” word: The fact that his first name is “Mitt.” And he can’t just pass it off as if, “hey,
that’s what they named me.” He was born
“Willard Mitt Romney.” “Mitt” is a
choice, one he’ll have to explain to skeptical conservative GOP primary voters
already suspicious of his ties to the international Olympic Winter Games, which
they consider to be little more than the UN with figure skating.
Jim Gilmore: Here at Planet Moron we pride ourselves on our “inside-the-beltway” political savvy partly because we really do live inside the beltway. We did not know the former Virginia governor had formally joined the race until a couple of days ago. And we are based in Virginia. We still haven’t decided if that reflects more poorly on us or on him. Regardless, the debate did provide him an opportunity to show off his best side. Literally. All we saw all night was the left side of his face. Was the other side horribly disfigured in some bizarre special-interest cocktail party foie gras explosion? Will he turn around on inauguration day just as he takes the oath of office and the camera cuts in close to reveal the horror and shame he has concealed all these years like some cheap horror movie climax? We'll probably never know.
Sam Brownback: The Senator from Kan… wait, maybe we’re thinking of Duncan Hunter. Yes. No. No, we were right the first time, Sam Brownback, the Senator from Kansas believes… um, well, now that we think about it, the things that we thought Duncan Hunter supported, that was probably Sam Brownback. Or the other way around. Damn.
Mike Huckabee: The former governor of Arkansas is kind of a Republican version of Bill Bradley, the former senator from New Jersey. He seems nice, friendly enough, kind of an avuncular sort, but is he going to be first guy you suggest watch your young nieces when your sister goes out of town? No, probably not.
Tom Tancredo: The
John McCain: The Senator from Arizona spent most of the debate unnerving his opponents on the stage by appearing to
be just barely able to keep his head from exploding. Clever debating strategy or accidental medication mix-up? You be the judge.
Duncan Hunter: The Congressman from Calif… wait, are we thinking of Sam Brownback again? This is really getting embarrassing.
Ron Paul: The Texas representative is the GOP’s answer to Mike Gravel, but further along in his court-ordered anger management program. Unfortunately he engaged in some transparent pandering when he tried to wrap himself in the mantle of that revered Republican Party hero: Robert Taft. Sure, that will bring the young people in, but then what? Ron Paul had the additional distinction of being the only GOP candidate who believes we should withdraw from Iraq (suggesting that the headline writers at the Washington Post don’t engage in the rigorous fact checking process of reading their own stories).
While everyone got his shot in there can only ever be one winner of course. Who was that?
May 03, 2007
you must remember this, a kiss is still a kiss…
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad got himself into deep trouble this week when he kissed the gloved hand of a woman in public. Faced with widespread outrage over this dalliance with immorality he sought help from the one person with extensive experience in the area:
Bill Clinton: Here’s what you do. You go on TV and look straight into the camera. You squint your eyes, you wave your finger,
and you say: I did not have sexual relations with the gloved hand of that fully
clothed woman, Miss. Lewinsky.
Ahmadinejad: Her name isn’t Lewinsky.
Clinton: You’ve got to work with me here if I’m going to help you.
Ahmadinejad: It doesn’t matter, they have evidence.
Clinton: The glove? You didn’t, you know…
Ahmadinejad: What? No! You are a pig. No, they have the whole thing on tape.
Clinton: So did Gennifer Flowers, ha!
Ahmadinejad: Look, I really need your help. The conservatives are coming after me.
Clinton: Tell me about it.
Ahmadinejad: No, I mean really conservative, and really coming after me.
Clinton: What? Religious zealots on some kind of moral crusade? Been there, done that. I mean, come on, what’s the worst they can do?
Ahmadinejad: Stone me to death.
Clinton: Hey, you know what I went through?
Ahmadinejad: You got a slap on the wrist and then what? Hillary made you sleep on the couch for a couple of months?
Clinton: I wish! That’s where I was sleeping. She made me come back to bed.
Clinton: Tell me about it. If there had been a pile of stones and an angry mob nearby I would’ve had to give that some thought…
we focus on me now?
Clinton: Whatever. You get counseling from him or her for your…
Ahmadinejad: It’ll be a “him.”
Clinton: Really? Because these days you never know.
Ahmadinejad: You’re going to have to trust me on this.
Clinton: Okay, fine, anyway, you get counseling about reforming your evil ways, seek redemption…
Ahmadinejad: That could still involve stoning.
Clinton: Well, just say you’re really sorry, and point out how great the economy is doing.
Ahmadinejad: The economy isn’t doing that great.
Clinton: C’mon. You mean to tell me you’ve got a crappy economy and you still think you can get away with messing with the gloved hand of a woman not related to you?
Ahmadinejad: I know, I know. But you know how it is.
Clinton: Yeah, yeah, I know. All the pressures of the job. The little woman back home isn’t real interested in having her gloved hand kissed and then goes out and completely screws up your first term with some cockamamie health care plan…
Clinton: Nothing, never mind.
I’m in real trouble here. I’ve got to deal with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei!
Clinton: I have two words for you: Newt. Gingrich.
Ahmadinejad: Okay, you got me there.
Clinton: Don’t you have anyone you can, you know, lob a few missiles at, take the heat off for a while?
Ahmadinejad: As a matter of fact…
May 01, 2007
CONSENSUS WATCH – 5/1/2007
An ongoing series dedicated to vigorously monitoring emerging threats to The Consensus that global warming is real, man-made, and must be addressed immediately if we are to forestall cataclysm. After all, without consensus, science is merely an ongoing journey of exploration and discovery.
Reports of observed warming on Mars and other planets has lent renewed credibility to theories that elevated levels of solar activity are a major cause of global warming here on earth in direct contradiction to The Consensus.
This has forced those who support The Consensus to take another look at their models which had consistently predicted that growing levels of alarmism, increasing releases of hysteria, and the accumulation of threats and professional admonishments would result in the complete eradication of such unsettling dissent. Clearly this warrants further study. In the meantime, just assume that everyone is in the pocket of Big Oil.
Another assault on The Consensus this past week came from renowned hurricane forecaster William Gray whose research suggests that natural cyclic changes in ocean currents are the primary source of global warming and not man-made CO2 noting that while Consensus climate models have predicted increased hurricane activity, such activity has actually decreased over the past 40 years.
This is terribly unfair. No one can possibly expect nature to live up to the grandeur and majesty
of IPCC climate change models and frankly, those who expect it to need to show a
little more humility. Let’s face it,
nature isn’t perfect and sometimes, well, it's just going to get it wrong. But that's okay, because if we’re serious
about The Consensus, and we're willing to go that extra mile and do the hard work that is necessary, we can make
sure that nature fits the model. But only if we have the will to make it happen.
These various alternative theories have also begun to create the appearance that there might not actually be a consensus regarding anthropogenic global warming. This is partly because of an erroneous belief that science is a process by which a hypothesis is formed based on recorded observations and then subjected to independent verification through experimentation intended to reproduce the predicted results.
Where anyone got that idea we don’t know.
In reality, science is a process in which competing theories are reconciled through a process of negotiation and compromise. It is this willingness to "give a little" in order to reach broad agreement immune to any further input that is the true spirit of scientific inquiry.
In fact, it was this very process that produced Einstein’s famous theory of special relativity. While not widely known, Einstein had originally lobbied for a far more conservative E=MC while more aggressive physicists argued that E=MC3 would be much more dramatic.
The gridlock was not broken until Niels Bohr brokered a compromise with Austrian scientist Friedrich Hasenöhrl who agreed to “meet Einstein halfway” if Max Planck would agree that m = (8/2)E/c^3 properly represented the association of mass via inertia with energy.
And thus we ended up with E=MC2 and a revolution in quantum physics was born.
These developments highlight the importance of moving quickly to get legislation in place that will take aggressive action in support of The Consensus. Yes, these annoying disruptions to The Consensus may continue but once legislation is in place it tends to stay in place.
Or did you think you were helping to fund the Spanish-American War these past 100 years?