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.

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.

J.

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September 23, 2013 at 10:58 AM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

September 20, 2013

First, You Have to Admit You Have a Problem

Ben Bernanke’s remarks this week regarding his surprise continuation of unprecedented monetary stimulus as reinterpreted through The Top 10 Excuses Made By Addicts & Alcoholics:

Look, I know I said I would taper, and I totally meant that. Really, I did. But I just need a little bit more time is all. No reason to get all excited, okay? It’s not like I'm hurting anybody but myself.

The economy just needs a bit of relief from all the talk about tapering. That I started.  You know, just a little something something to get through this.

And believe me, if you had this economy’s problem, you’d still be stimulating too.

This is just who I am. You knew that when you made me Fed Chairman. And I’ve got to be me, baby!

Besides, I need this monetary stimulus. It helps me relax and be a better conversationalist.  All that talk about tapering I did just made things awkward in the mortgage markets.

Regardless, I can’t do my job without this stimulus. I just can’t.  You ever try following a dual mandate without a little monetary stimulus to keep you going?  Yeah, I thought so.

Don’t look at me like that. I can stop stimulating anytime I want to.  I just don’t want to. Not right now. Maybe later. Yeah, I’ll do it later.

Hey, at least I’m not stimulating like Haruhiko Kuroda. Have you seen that guy?  He’s a maniac!  Makes me look like Paul Volker.

Anyway, everyone’s stimulating today. It’s not like I’m the only one. Just look around. I’m the normal one.

It’s pointless anyway. I’m out of here no matter what, so I might as well go out on my terms!

These thing usually end well.

J.

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September 20, 2013 at 04:56 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

September 17, 2013

Unemployed Art History Majors, Unite!

It was two years ago today that Occupy Wall Street captured the imagination of a nation. Just not this one. Unless by “nation” you mean, “The New York Times Editorial Board.”

Occupy Wall Street (or “OWS” for short) was considered by many to be a progressive alternative to the Tea Party movement only with a lot more rape and public defecation.

And rape.

Largely made up of disaffected 20-something college graduates from elite universities, the OWS movement was a textbook example of Marxist class struggle in which the top 10% of society rises up against the top 1% in righteous fury and demands in the name of common human decency that which is the most fundamental of all human rights:

The right to not have to pay off your college loans.

Solidarity!

So, what happened to OWS and why does it appear to be a shell of its former self? Personally we think it was the same peril that awaits many popular uprisings in their vulnerable early stages:

Irreconcilable conflict among the drum groups.

The Bay of Pigs?  A disaster primarily because the counter-revolutionary forces that were supposed to come to the aid of the commandos landing on the beach were still trying to settle on broadly acceptable nighttime drumming curfews.

However, according to reporter Rosie Gray who covered OWS for the Village Voice at the time, the number one problem was obvious:

The Radiohead hoax.

Look, if you’re going to protest for fundamental societal changes resulting in a reordering of the relationship between the individual and the state, you can’t make people believe that if they work hard enough, and commit to the cause, that maybe just this one time, they'll be able to see their favorite art rock band live, only to have it turn out to be an elaborate prank.  It’s just way too much of a bummer.

And so happy 2nd Birthday, Occupy Wall Street!  You may not have had any noticeable lasting impact, but you do have a twitter account.

Now shave off that scruff, put on a decent shirt, and go get a job.

J.

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September 17, 2013 at 04:31 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

September 15, 2013

Take Me Out To The Bargame, er, Ballgame. Ballgame is What I Meant…

Long-time readers may recall that yours truly is a diehard Boston Red Sox fan.  To that point, two actual conversations from this past week with my toddler son:

Conversation 1:

Son: I want to grow up to be a mommy.
Me: Well, that will require surgery.

Conversation 2:

Son: I like the Washington Nationals.
Me: What?  No! You do not. You like the Red Sox! Understand, the Boston Red Sox is our team! Boston! Red! Sox!

A father has to know where to draw lines.

I come from a long line of Red Sox fans, and so to celebrate my father’s birthday (if memory serves, his 1000th or something), my brothers and I decided to take him to a Red Sox-Yankees game at Fenway Park.

We looked into getting some rooms at the Fenway Howard Johnson but given this was a very special occasion, we first had to carefully consider each and every pro and con.

Pros:

Across the street from Fenway.

Cons:

Old
Rundown
Tired
Bad restaurant
Closed pool
Expensive

The decision kind of made itself. 

(As an aside, if you come across a review of the Fenway HoJo that starts with, “Was in Boston for a business conference,…” you can stop reading right there.  It’s like reading a review of a Greyhound bus station that starts with, “Stopped by for dinner with my wife on our anniversary…”)

Having squared away our hotel room (months earlier, of course) and securing some very nice seats, the only open issue was our meals. When we all finally arrived in Boston the day before the game, my father offered to buy us all lunch at the Eastern Standard.

Eastern Standard

I offered to buy dinner.

Tasty Burger

My father purchased the rest of the meals.

Of course, no visit to Boston with your half-Irish brothers would be complete without spending a lot of time in bars and we stumbled (literally at times) across a couple of interesting ones.

Bleacher BarThe Bleacher Bar is a little bar tucked into Fenway (accessible from the street) where I understand the old batting cages used to be and offers a view, through a metal grate, of the outfield.  We thought this just might be one of the finest bar concepts ever conceived by humankind.  We are also morons.

Jerry Remy Roof Deck BarAnother one was Jerry Remy’s roof deck bar, next to the Howard Johnson’s.  It was a great place with a view of Fenway but it did pour rain for part of the time while we were there. Do you know what the first thing an Irishman does when he gets caught in a the pouring rain while drinking his beer? 

He gets wet.

While Fenway is over a century old, it has been updated with the very latest in technology including advanced digital displays that are extremely helpful in letting casual fans who may not understand all of baseball’s many arcane traditions and intricacies, know who won.

Red Sox Win

Overall, a truly fine and successful trip.

In the meantime, the Russians brokered a peace deal with the United Nations.

Really, I can’t turn my back on you guys for a moment.

J.

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September 15, 2013 at 05:56 PM in Weekend Leisure | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 11, 2013

Syria Speech Roundup

Great Moments in Rhetorical Leadership

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, March 4, 1933

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Winston Churchill, June 4, 1940

“We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”

Barak Obama, September 10, 2013

“There sure are a lot of ways this thing could go aren’t there? Hoo boy.  Tell you what, once I figure it out, I’ll let you guys know.”

Shut up, he explained:

“…children lying in rows, killed by poison gas, others foaming at the mouth, gasping for breath, a father clutching his dead children,

…because what happened to those people, to those children

…images of children writhing in pain

…we can stop children from being gassed to death and thereby make our own children safer”

Lessons in Presidential Logic

“However, over the last few days we've seen some encouraging signs in part because of the credible threat of U.S. military action.”

“I have therefore asked the leaders of Congress to postpone a vote to authorize the use of force.”

But other than that

“The Obama administration has not laid out proof Assad was behind the attack.”

“In his remarks, Obama more generally accused Assad's forces of gassing to death ‘over 1,000 people, including hundreds of children’ a figure far higher than estimates by nongovernmental agencies such as the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has counted only victims identified by name, with a current total of 502.”

“Obama's statement that he has the authority to launch military action is par for the course for presidents, and historically disputed by Congress. The issue never gets settled.”

And that

“It was halfhearted, pro forma and strange. It added nothing, did not deepen or advance the story, was not equal to the atmosphere surrounding it, and gave no arguments John Kerry hasn’t made, often more forcefully, in the past 10 days.”

It was great!

J.

P.S. "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what Russia can do for your country."

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September 11, 2013 at 03:17 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 09, 2013

Speak Softly And Carry a Big Stick, But Not Too Big. Or Too Small. Really More of a Medium Sized Stick, Like Mama Bear Would Use…

In making the case for war, Obama Administration officials this weekend explained that we have two specific objectives in launching a military strike on Syria:

  1. Change the course of the civil war.
  2. Not change the course of the civil war.

It is only when you clearly define your goals like this that you can have any expectation of success, not to mention have any chance to win over a skeptical public.  As one official elaborated, the planned U.S. military strike will:

Do more damage to the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 48 hours than Syrian rebels have done in two years of civil war.”

This sentiment was echoed by Secretary of State John Kerry who added,

We’re talking about doing an unbelievably small, limited kind of effort.”

Reportedly, Secretary Kerry was trying to allay fears that we were already experiencing mission creep. As another administration official explained:

“I define ‘mission creep’ as shifting the objective, not the means.”

And you can’t really shift an objective when there isn’t one.

If you are like most Planet Moron readers, you’re probably thinking, “No, seriously, you disappear for nine months and you’re acting like nothing happened.”

Also, “This is very confusing. Given the gravity of what is being asked of us, and the seriousness of launching military strikes on a sovereign nation that has not attacked us and represents no imminent threat, is there any way you could find an administration official who could explain this to us as if we were five-year-old children incapable of analytical thought?”

You bet there is.  According to the 37th anonymous Administration official to be quoted since last Friday:

If Assad is eating Cheerios, we're going to take away his spoon and give him a fork. Will that degrade his ability to eat Cheerios? Yes. Will it deter him? Maybe. But he'll still be able to eat Cheerios.”

This still leaves open the question of how precisely can you calibrate at attack on President Assad’s breakfast habits.  What if we go too far and he has to use skim milk, or worse, is forced to substitute ShopRite brand Toasted Oats. What wrath might he hurl down upon our own breakfast industrial complex? Or what if we don’t go far enough and all that happens is that the ones on the bottom get a little soggy. Where will our credibility be then?

So, where does that leave us, aside from craving a big bowl of cereal?

Secretary Kerry has threatened to attack Syria, for which he has no congressional authorization, unless they turn over their chemical weapons, which they have agreed to do, but that still won’t stop us, because the international community demands that we attack , even though no one in the international community is actually willing to support an attack.

In totally unrelated news, a large majority of Americans oppose attacking Syria.

J.

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September 9, 2013 at 04:16 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

September 06, 2013

Remember, Always Rinse Your Produce to Remove The Sarin Residue

The story that is clearly dominating the headlines this week is the very real potential for retaliation against the use of chemical weapons on innocent children by what can only be described as an evil and morally bankrupt monster.

We speak of course of the American agriculture industry.

This, according to Maria Rodale, CEO of Rodale press, a position she achieved through old-fashioned hard work, sacrifice, and sharing the last name, “Rodale” with the company’s founder. In an open letter to President Obama she wrote:

Yes, Syria has undoubtedly used chemical weapons on its own people. Maybe it was the government; maybe it was the opposition; maybe you know for sure. But here's what I know for sure: We are no better. We have been using chemical weapons on our own children -- and ourselves -- for decades, the chemical weapons we use in agriculture to win the war on pests, weeds, and the false need for ever greater yields."

(Although presumably that “false need” depends on whether or not you are among the millions of people not starving to death right now.)

Regardless, the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria has certainly received most of the press what with images of young Syrian children suffering gruesome, painful deaths, but is the agricultural industry’s use of pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals to enhance yields, create bountiful harvests and feed a growing population around the world really all that different?

If you are like most Planet Moron readers, you’re probably thinking, “I waited nine months for this?”  Also, “You know what, if pressed, I would probably come down on the side of this being a little bit different.”

Keep in mind however that you are not an accomplished businesswoman with years of experience being the granddaughter of J.I. Rodale. 

As she explains,

As the CEO of the world's leading health-and-wellness publisher and the granddaughter of the founder of the organic movement in America, I am uniquely qualified to explain it to you.”

Exactly. Just as you would be uniquely qualified to take the controls of a 747 on its final approach to JFK were you the granddaughter of the founder of Boeing.

Likewise, her extensive publishing experience which includes cover articles such as, “33 Secrets to Sizzling Summer Sex,” and “4 Sex Positions Every Man Should Try” clearly qualifies her to lecture the rest of us on biochemical processes, physiology, and oncology. In fact, when it comes to the efficacy and safety of pesticides, who are you going to listen to?  Esteemed scientists in the field, or the person behind such groundbreaking research as “Does She Deserve a Spanking? Yes! In fact, she's far kinkier than you think”?

You see, chemical pesticides are killing our children just as assuredly as sarin gas killed those Syrian youngsters, just a lot more slowly. Like, really, really slowly. So slowly in fact, that it appears to be actually killing them backwards.

Sometimes when it comes to apocalypse, you have to be patient.

As Ms. Rodale explains:

“We've been trying to tell you for years that chemical companies like Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow, DuPont, Bayer Crops Sciences, and others are poisoning our children and our environment with your support and even, it seems, your encouragement. Just because their bodies aren't lined up wrapped in sheets on the front pages of the newspapers around the world doesn't mean it's not true.”

Exactly, just because something isn’t happening doesn’t mean it isn't happening. 

Okay, that one is probably going to need some work.

No matter, as you can plainly see, why on earth would we contemplate dropping bombs on people accused of using chemical weapons based on dubious evidence when we can instead be dropping bombs on people accused of using chemical weapons based on no evidence whatsoever!

Besides, unlike some places, it’s a lot less likely that an attack on Monsanto is going radicalize Matilda from accounting or result in Missouri descending into widespread anarchy and chaos.

Well, except maybe for nearby East St. Louis.

J.

Note to Readers: For those of you wondering why I haven’t posted in nine months, I actually have a very good explanation.

I forgot.

Carry on!

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September 6, 2013 at 03:37 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

December 19, 2012

But We Have to Do Something! And Apparently It Really Doesn’t Matter What.

Naturally, people were horrified at the unspeakable atrocity visited upon Sandy Hook Elementary School this past Friday and want to know what measures are being taken to see to it that such tragedies are avoided in the future:

Q: What should we do?

A: First, we need to act as swiftly as we can.

Q: Why?

A: It is commonly understood that the best decisions are usually made in the heat of the moment, when passions are highest and people are so blinded with grief or rage that they are willing to accept any solution no matter how pointless and ineffective.

Q: You mean like the Transportation Security Administration?

A: Exactly! For example, Senator Joe Lieberman has already carefully laid out his reasoning for the need for more gun control.  You’ll have to bear with us, it’s full of technocratic jargon (you know Joe!), but this is the kind level-headedness we need from our leaders at a time like this:

"We've got to continue to hear the screams of these children and see their blood until we do something?"

Q: That doesn’t sound that level headed. Does anybody have any specific proposals?

A: Well, University of Rhode Island Professor Erik Loomis has put forth a detailed plan meant to address the root causes of the tragedy:

“[I] want Wayne LaPierre’s head on a stick.”

Q: Now wait a second. There are important and profound arguments to be made for gun rights that can certainly be debated in an informed manner.

A: That may be true, but as Professor Loomis puts it so eloquently,

“[F]*ck the NRA."

Q: Okay, are there any serious legislative proposals being made?

A: Of course there are. For example, Senator Diane Feinstein has called for a reinstatement of the assault weapons ban.

Q: The killer used one of the previously banned assault weapons?

A: No.

Q: That doesn’t seem very productive.

A: Well, the White House has also proposed to require background checks at gun shows.

Q: The killer purchased his firearms at a gun show?

A: No.

Q: Then how does it make any sense to propose a grab bag of gun control legislation most of which was already in place in Connecticut where the laws are among the toughest in the nation and did nothing to deter this?

A: What are you, some kind of monster?  There are dead kids out there!

Q: It’s just that there are reasonable arguments as to the role gun rights play in securing civil rights and actually saving lives.

A: Do you like dead kids?

Q: What? No! Of course not.

A: Because it’s starting to sound like you like dead kids.

Q: No, it’s just that mass murders are actually down.

A: Dead kids.

Q: Schools have never been safer.

A: Dead kids.

Q: And these massacres occur almost exclusively in areas where the government has specifically banned guns strongly suggesting…

A: Dead kids.

Q: You’re not even trying now.

A: Don’t have to.

J.

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December 19, 2012 at 08:51 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)

December 12, 2012

Fighting for the Working Man. No, Literally…

There has been some controversy of late over a little tussle that occurred in Michigan where state legislators were voting on a “right to work” law that could potentially undermine union influence and power in the state.  Naturally, union members turned out to protest the law however some people have misinterpreted their enthusiasm and vigor. To help clear things up we thought we’d address the confusion with a quick Q&A:

Q: What happened? It appeared that union members physically attacked people engaging in constitutionally protected free speech.

A: No, no, nothing could be further from the truth.

Q: Look at the video, one guy just started laying in on Steven Crowder with left and right roundhouse punches.

A: That was just a metaphor.

Q: A metaphor?

A: Sure. The individual was simply expressing the essential conflict between left and right common in non-parliamentary democracies in which two dominant parties yptically “fight it out” if you will, in the field of ideas.

Q: But he was literally punching the guy in the face in an actual field.

A: Think of his face as a canvas on which the union member/interpretive artist was painting a picture.

Q: The guy punched him in the face! This is absolutely outrageous and under no circumstances can it be allowed to go unpunished.

A: Whoa, whoa, easy on the inflammatory rhetoric there. You wouldn’t want to incite some Tea Party nut into engaging in violence, such as criticizing Obamacare, or possibly creating a sign expressing disapproval of the current administration.

Q: That’s violent?

A: Absolutely. Violent to anyone’s sense of fairness.

Q: What about actual violence, like physically tearing down a tent with people still inside?

A: That was a misunderstanding.

Q: What about the Michigan legislator who promised “there will be blood?”

A: Hey, that could mean anything.

Q: And why isn’t the media paying any attention to this? They turned over rocks looking for signs of Tea Party violence but they can’t be bothered to report on this?

A: Report on what?

Q: The union violence and threats from elected Democrats?

A: There was union violence and threats from elected Democrats?

Q: Yes.

A: Well, we didn’t read anything about that in the papers…

J.

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December 12, 2012 at 03:01 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

November 07, 2012

We Demand a Recount!

Okay, so our guy lost. But did he lose in the larger sense?

Yes, he lost there too.

But then, we do not feel we “wasted” our vote.  After all, Mitt Romney is exactly the same amount of not president as Gary Johnson.

Still, Barack Obama is, by any measure that places a value on freedom, liberty, and self-determination, a miserable failure, and yet he still won. How could this be?

Because no one uses any measure that places a value on freedom, liberty, and self-determination. After all, freedom sounds kind of hard, liberty is probably a lot of work too, and self-determination might actually involve getting a job and moving out of your parent’s basement.

Free stuff on the other hand has three major attractions:

  1. It’s free.
  2. You don’t have pay for it.
  3. The price is $0.00.

We're starting to see the appeal

As you can see from the chart below, Barack Obama likes to give away free stuff.

Hey-ozymandias-can-you-spare-a

You know you’re a big spender when you increase spending faster than strict fiscal disciplinary Republicans do.

Of course, we all expect free things from our government, like free water in disasters. Sure, you can’t get any, but at least it’s free.

Then there’s the free money the Federal Reserve creates out of thin air. Hey, it’s free!

And the free health care, and free cell phones, and free college tuition.

You might be saying to yourself, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

Well, that all depends on which side of the table you’re sitting on, doesn't it.

In other news:

“With the election of progressive Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts and Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin, Obama’s longtime backers feel the liberal spirit inside the president could be unleashed: climate change, gun control, and immigration reform perhaps heading to the top of the agenda.”

Does anyone know what the weather is like in the Cayman Islands this time of year?

J.

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November 7, 2012 at 04:00 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)