October 09, 2013
Let Freedom Ring! However, You’re Going To Need a Permit For The Bell. – Government Shutdown Edition
“Let Freedom Ring! However, You’re Going To Need a Permit For The Bell,” is a periodic series in which we explore the new and exciting ways in which the notions of freedom and liberty are being interpreted in our modern and progressive world.
OUT: A chance to see the nation’s natural majesty.
IN: A chance to see the nation ruled by His Majesty.
Members of a tour bus group that included many foreign visitors and senior citizens found themselves caught inside Yellowstone National Park when the shutdown began. Clearly, these were innocent parties, and so the Park Service ensured that armed guards locked them inside their hotel, prevented them from taking pictures, and made sure to surround Old Faithful whenever it was about to erupt.
This might seem extreme, but at least they eventually forced the group to make the two-and-a-half hour drive out of the park without being allowed to stop for a bathroom break.
Some have described these as “Gestapo tactics.” Come on, this is America! They were just kept captive inside a large building against their will, denied the ability to take photos, had their activities curtailed by armed guards, and weren’t allowed to go to the bathroom when they wanted.
But Gestapo tactics? That’s ridiculous.
The Gestapo would have let you go to the bathroom.
OUT: Our most precious resource.
Unlike in, say, Washington DC where, and this is a total coincidence, their bosses work, the National Park Service has closed a number of roads that run through park land, including the Foothills Parkway in Tennessee which is used by a local school district to bus children. Naturally they did this without warning and while school was in session. Why, you ask?
It’s for the children.
You see, the only other roads are impassable by busses and are otherwise considered dangerous “white knuckle” drives even by car. Now you know what they’re talking about when they say that having a large activist government is important to the safety of your children.
Because otherwise, they’re going to kill them.
Visiting Gettysburg National Military Park
OUT: Viewing Pickett’s charge.
IN: Charging the Pickets.
Due to the government shutdown and the strain that has put on the National Park Service, scores of rangers have been deployed to set up barricades to keep people out of the Gettysburg National Military Park. However, there is one thing you do not want to get in-between: A history buff, and a Civil War park. And so American citizens are knocking down barricades and entering the park, helping themselves to the park by avoiding the very same Park Rangers they used to seek out for that help.
If you are like most Planet Moron readers, you probably vaguely recall that the Battle of Gettysburg was fought mostly outside, and not in a virtual reality world created by an alien race in order to preserve a record of their civilization (which you are pretty sure now was an episode form Star Trek) and wonder if preventing people from wandering around in an open field is the best use of resources.
That is why you are not a professional White House reporter who knows better than to ask such impertinent questions.
Going Out For a Jog
OUT: A healthy endeavor.
We know that promoting physical fitness is an essential task of the federal government. That is why, while most federal web sites are down, such as the one for the USDA, the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” site is still going strong. Sure, the USDA shutdown limits access to resources vital to farmers and others, but we’ve got school salad bars to promote for God’s sake.
So, why then was a runner who had parked in a remote and un-barricaded parking lot in the Valley Forge National Historical Park greeted upon his return by two very un-furloughed Park Rangers who were waiting to give him a ticket?
You know, you ask a lot of questions. Have you been audited lately?
October 07, 2013
Our National Nightmare: Week 2
Driving south on the George Washington Parkway Friday night we noticed the Park Service had already replaced the barricades on the scenic overlook/vacant parking lot that someone (not us, we swear) had taken down.
As the government shutdown enters its second week, scenes such as that were repeated all over the country, as guards removed vets who were attempting to look at the Vietnam Memorial, which consists of a wall of granite set into a hill outside in the open mall that runs from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol Building that was otherwise open.
Likewise, barricades were placed around the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington, Virginia. These were pushed aside by the vets who had actually taken Iwo Jima in the first place despite, if we remember our history correctly, Japanese positions heavily fortified with orange cones and withering displays of yellow police tape.
Additionally, the feds also closed large parts of the ocean, tried to block people from seeing Mt. Rushmore, and physically pushed an alternative rock singer who was already peacefully leaving the Jefferson Memorial as asked with the explanation that “it’s quicker this way.”
He was just following orders. With relish.
And of course, the National Park Service continues to live up to its sacred and solemn duty to close down valid businesses operating legally on leased federal lands, throwing scores of people out of work.
They still want you to, “see America first,” they just want you to do it at a discreet distance.
As you can see, you cannot possibly expect the federal government to have the resources to benignly ignore these completely open areas during a shutdown. Only when the government is fully up and running and everyone is on the job do they have the time and personnel to do nothing. Really, they have no choice during these lean times to vigilantly barricade and enforce arbitrary restrictions on open areas.
Here at Planet Moron we believe it’s time we all do our part in helping the National Park Service, the Capitol Police, and everyone else charged with ensuring we are unnecessarily inconvenienced. To that end, we offer these suggestions:
When passing federal properties, be they monuments, buildings, scenic vistas, or obscure plaques be sure to avert your eyes. There’s just not any money available for you to look at these things.
When driving through federal lands that have not yet been barricaded try not to breathe. That’s government air, and they can’t guarantee it.
Consider not listening to the radio or watching TV. Those airwaves belong to the government, broadcasters are only permitted to use them under license.
You might also want to consider not using your cellphone. Sure, your carrier paid for use of those airwaves, but, they belong to the government, and the government is closed.
Suggest to the airlines that they might want to change their flight paths so as not to inadvertently fly over federal land. Why? Because closed.
Some readers might be annoyed to learn that a bill we had mentioned last week that would ensure furloughed federal employees would get paid for not working passed the House unanimously.
But, hey, at least elderly people are being thrown out of their own homes.
October 04, 2013
Our National Nightmare Day 4
In order to achieve fame and notoriety of any kind you have to do something truly extraordinary, something that clearly sets you apart from others and makes people say, “Wow, I can’t believe it.”
For example, successfully signing up for health care on one of the Obamacare exchanges run by the federal government.
Although the government shutdown has nothing to do with the exchanges (they are funded separately), it appeared that no one had been able to accomplish the task, no one, that is, until now.
Indeed, we must now consider adding to the pantheon of heroic pioneers of the unknown, Robert Peary, Edmund Hillary, and Neil Armstrong, the name:
Yes, Chad Henderson purchased insurance on Obamacare and celebrated it on Twitter. His feat was of such note, his courage of such splendor, his valor of such regard, that the White House felt compelled to bring it to the attention of the media, which of course went into a wild frenzy over our new hero.
So, who is Chad Henderson?
Just a young lad trying to get a fair shake on health insurance.
"I've read a few articles about how young people are very critical to the law's success. I really just wanted to do my part to help out with the entire process."
What a nice young man!
"I had to wait like everybody else.”
An everyday man of the people, even.
“After creating an account and getting logged in, it was pretty smooth sailing."
And what about his $175 monthly premium?
"It was a little more than I was expecting.”
Ah, you precocious little rascal, you.
And we probably should have checked first, but do you get paid to engage in progressive political advocacy? Because if you do, then Chad is still just like you and me.
Oh, and we should also probably mention that he didn’t actually purchase any insurance. He really just “enrolled in the marketplace,” just not enrolled enrolled if you know what we mean. But look, he totally got online and created an awesome account and looked at various options for like, who knows how long, and is SO going to buy that $175 monthly plan once he gets done with all his media engagements.
But partisan supporters of the President aren’t the only Obamacare success stories. There’s also Brendan Mahoney, the perfect example of the kind of person Obamacare was designed to help. The downtrodden, the forgotten, the little people struggling to get by, the third-year law students who were already paying for health insurance but can now get on Medicaid and have their health insurance paid by taxpayers instead.
Turning productive citizens taking responsibility for themselves into wards of the state dependent on others.
It’s a new dawn in America!
In other news, the National Park Service continues to struggle through the shutdown given the critical tasks it must still perform such as closing down areas they have no authority to and hassling citizens for no obvious reason.
We did note this morning that some revolutionaries had torn down the barriers on the second scenic overlook on the George Washington Parkway.
Godspeed 21st-century minutemen, Godspeed.
October 03, 2013
Our National Nightmare Day 3
As anyone who follows mainstream news knows, the government shutdown is due solely to the intransigence of extremely right wing extremist Republicans who are also extreme. Why can’t they just compromise?
And so to help break the logjam, President Obama invited congressional leaders to the White House yesterday evening to see if they could all come to an agreement that the President’s position was the only right one.
Damn those uncompromising extreme Republicans!
Also, you’re a hater.
In addition to refusing Republicans’ request to negotiate because they were unwilling to negotiate, the President also made sure to fulfill his office’s traditional role in ensuring that the peace is kept and people remain calm despite the uncertainty of our current shutdown crisis.
Elsewhere, when asked if he would support a House proposal to fund the NIH if it could “help one child who has cancer” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid demonstrated the sharp political instincts he has honed over decades in office and responded,
“Why would we want to do that? I have 1,100 people at Nellis Air Force base that are sitting home.”
Say what you want, the man is a pro.
And finally, the Park Service continues to set up elaborate barricades to close off open areas that are usually left unattended 24/7, including, we noticed, the “scenic overlooks” (basically small parking lots) on the side of the George Washington Parkway near Planet Moron’s headquarters.
Why would it be in any way necessary to barricade open areas that are highly visible and popular to the public?
Because you want to make sure people see that the government is shut down.
Otherwise, they might not notice.
October 02, 2013
Our National Nightmare Day 2
A CNN headline this morning addresses the gridlock in Washington over the budget thusly:
Damn that Congress!
If you are like most Planet Moron readers, you’re probably thinking, “Didn’t Cheez Whiz used to come in a spray can?”
Also, “Wait a second, isn’t there another person involved here who is also getting paid despite the shutdown? Someone in an executive capacity if you will, who sits alone among the branches of government in that he or she is elected by all the people and so is expected to take charge and act in a manner that would bring disparate interests together in compromise?”
It sounds like you are describing the office of the presidency. In fact, the phrase used by CNN, “The buck stops here” was popularized by President Harry S. Truman who wanted to make it clear that regardless of circumstance or excuses, he alone bore ultimate responsibility for whatever happens on his watch saying,
“The President--whoever he is--has to decide. He can't pass the buck to anybody. No one else can do the deciding for him. That's his job.”
Why then, does the buck now stop with a legislative body naturally prone to divisiveness and parochial interests?
Sure, some might argue that because he is the President, ultimate accountability must rest on his shoulders. But you have to remember that President Obama takes a more post-modernist approach to the presidency believing that phrases such as "the buck stops here" are anachronistic in this day and age.
Also, it's somebody's elses fault.
Besides, it’s not like he’s sitting around doing nothing. Just the other day he said he was unwilling to compromise saying,
“I Shouldn't Have To Offer Anything.”
Damn that Congress!
In other news the government is so very shut down that only the very barest of necessities are being provided for. For example, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) does not have any money to pay for its web site.
Damn that Congress!
October 01, 2013
And so Our National Nightmare Begins…
A foreboding gray sky greeted us here at Planet Moron headquarters early this morning, deep in the heart of the Washington DC metropolitan area. It was as if nature herself shared the anguish of the fate that was soon to befall us.
“Was this really happening?” we asked ourselves in a voice that was full of anguish and possibly a cinnamon Danish.
Were we really going to live through an entire day with only 80% of the federal government operating?
And yet, the unthinkable happened.
Clearly, there is serious business to be done. The nation’s finances are on an unsustainable course, we’re weeks away from breaching our debt ceiling, and the Affordable Care Act, already fiscally problematic, is off to a rocky start,
That is why our local representatives moved quickly in a fully bipartisan manner to introduce emergency legislation that would attend to the most critical policy goal at the moment.
Making sure federal workers get paid for not working.
Such is the goal of the “Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act.”
As Congressman Frank Wolf noted of the furloughed employees:
“They should be properly compensated for the hard work they do.”
And, the hard work they don’t do.
Both would be great.
Besides, as Representative Wolf further notes:
“Let’s also not forget that several federal workers paid the ultimate price just last week in the Navy Yard tragedy.”
His logic is unassailable:
- A maniac murdered federal employees.
- The government is furloughing federal employees.
- Furloughed federal employees should get paid for not working.
Also, you’re a hater.
No one would argue that not working often leads to not getting paid. The issue here is that these are federal government workers, not just random private employees doing Lord-knows-what in flyover country somewhere.
There is a larger issue at stake here as well: The damage that might be done to the local Washington DC metro economy were workers not paid for not working.
Why on earth should those of us living in Washington DC have to experience the same recession and stagnation the rest of you have been living with for years? It's like we're commoners all of a sudden.
And so we here at Planet Moron fully endorse the notion of paying people for not working.
Where’s our check?
September 30, 2013
Aaaaawwww!Given the Obama White House’s new-found enthusiasm for using cute animals to drum up support for the Affordable Care Act, we thought we’d take a look at how such an approach might work to deflect criticism from some of the President’s other controversial policies.
September 27, 2013
ACA: The Awfully Cute ActWith a third of the public still largely unfamiliar with the President’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) and with more people still opposing it than supporting it, the President knew that it was time to get serious about the subject and treat the American public like adults.
Sure, retweeting adorable pictures of cuddly baby animals may be intellectually persuasive and wholly in keeping with the dignity and gravitas of the office, but what if you are among that fringe group of 53% of Americans who insist on being sad pandas? Well, President Obama has good news and bad news for you. The good news is you’re a billionaire. The bad news is you're crazy, a blackmailer, and you want to deny health care to sick people.
What, you insist on still being a sad panda despite your newly discovered wealth and the obvious glee you derive from seeing others suffer? Still think the ACA destroys jobs, limits choice, increases costs, reduces working hours, is an intrusion into personal privacy, and despite promises to the contrary will likely not allow you to keep your plan if you like it?
Also, you’re a terrorist.
September 25, 2013
CONSENSUS WATCH – 09/25/2013An ongoing series dedicated to vigorously monitoring emerging threats to The Consensus that global warming is real, caused by humans, and must be addressed at all costs. Because without consensus, scientific conclusions would remain vulnerable to new data.
For years now, The Consensus has been subject to attacks that have been clearly scientific in nature. Opponents have stopped at nothing to derail the momentum we have worked so hard to achieve, using every dirty science trick in the book, from dispassionately assessing observational data to testing hypotheses against actual results.
Naturally, this has achieved nothing other than to sow doubt in the validity of The Consensus. This is patently ridiculous.
It’s a consensus.
Well, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has had enough of its global warming theories being kicked around like some kind of scientific football, and so has begun to take the whole process back into the sphere of politics (it’s a science, look it up) where it can properly be subjected to the rigors of influence peddling, rent seeking, and special interest horse trading that are the hallmarks of the discipline.
For example, it has been unmistakenly demonstrated that despite projections to the contrary, the earth has not materially warmed for the past 15 years. Examined only through the rather confining lens of science, this could be a problem for The Consensus. But when reexamined under strict political conditions, other factors can be taken into account, such as what effect might this have on the careers of members of the IPCC or whether it might embarrass certain politicians
When looked at in this way, whole new avenues of political exploration open up. For example, German officials had a novel idea on how to deal with the evidence that the earth was not, in fact, warming.
If there’s one thing you can say about the Germans, they’re not subtle.
Fortunately, United States officials had a better idea: Rather than ignore data for which there is ample supportive evidence, create a new theory to explain it away, for which there is none.
Hey, without data, you can’t exactly disprove it, now can you?
Where does this purely political approach leave us? Well, after years of mounting data that the current global warming hypotheses are fatally flawed, the UN’s IPCC is reported to have decided that it is no longer 90% confident in The Consensus.
It’s now 95% confident!
You need more than a slide rule to come up with that conclusion, my friend. A lot more.
Now you have a chance to show your support for The Consensus with the Shut up, that’s why T-shirt, the perfect answer to anyone who dares to question the science behind global warming.
In addition to the T-shirt we also have a fashionable beach tote and a set of stackable mugs, so you’ll have the opportunity to show the world that you’re smart enough to know when not to ask too many questions.
And while you're at it, make sure the world knows you won't allow yourself to be bullied by facts with our extensive line of CONSENSUS WATCH MERCHANDISE!
We also have the classic Consensus Watch coffee mug, bag, and beer stein (along with assorted T-shirts, sweatshirts, and other garments): "Consensus Watch Because without consensus, scientific conclusions would remain vulnerable to new data" plus a complete line of "Stop raping the planet! You may, however, touch it inappropriately," items (shirts, coasters, stickers, buttons)
All proceeds raised from the sale of Consensus Watch merchandise go towards ensuring that we never run out of gin.
September 23, 2013
Gun Control is Hitting Your (Political) Target
People often ask why it is so important that we ban the AR-15 and other “assault” style rifles. The reasons are actually quite obvious:
1) Rifles, many of which may be AR-15s, are used in fully 2.5% of all murders. Only handguns, knives, blunt objects, shotguns, and bare human hands rank higher. Not impressed? Consider this statistic:
You are over 160 times more likely to be killed by a rifle, than you are being pushed out of a window.
Something to think about the next time you start waving the Constitution around.
2) Early reports indicated that an AR-15 was used in the most recent mass murder at the Navy Yard in Washington DC. Sure, those early reports were all wrong, but when you are trying to exploit a tragedy to attack the firearms you would prefer to ban, does it really matter which firearms were used in that tragedy? Really? Think of the children! There weren’t any children at the Navy Yard either, but think of them anyway.
3) If we are going to get serious about gun violence we have to put in place a gun-control regimen that bans the possession of firearms like the AR-15, requires vigorous background checks, the institution of security checkpoints, and other measures not unlike those practiced at military installations like the Navy Yard. Don’t think with your head.
Think with your heart.
4) By disarming law-abiding citizens of any practical means of defending themselves we ensure that we won’t get some cowboy saving people’s lives but instead will have everyone practicing the far more civilized and generally preferred self-defense method of “sheltering in place” in which you wait patiently to die.
5) For years, we’ve permitted guns to flood into the hands of law-abiding citizens at unprecedented rates. The consequences have been entirely predictable: Crime rates have plummeted. If you want to call that a success, good luck washing the lack of blood off your hands. Real success is getting guns out of the hands of citizens and into the hands of government personnel and criminals.
Where they belong.