Sometimes, in reading the daily paper, I like to venture out upon the road less traveled, ignoring the big stories (which are usually a hoax) and seeking out hidden truths in the more modest regions. It can be quite rewarding at times, as the following examples attest:
Headline: “Report: $1.1B paid to dead” (referring to farm subsidies). But who cashed the checks? Supposedly someone who was still alive. Thus, once again, one man's “government waste” is another man's windfall... and in most cases the windfall is no less worthy of government funding than the original program was. I mean, gosh, at least the guy got a pickup truck and a weekend in Vegas out of it.
Headline: “Army fitness overhaul to stress 'combat-ready'.” Um... OK, but then what did all the previous fitness programs stress? Something other than combat readiness?
Headline: “Some of Islamic code could be ruled felony.” This in reference to a proposed law in Tennessee (where else?) that would make it “a felony to follow some versions of the Islamic code known as Shariah”. And, “Muslim groups fear the measure would outlaw central tenets of Islam, such as praying five times a day toward Mecca, abstaining from alcohol or fasting for Ramadan.” So, Tennessee – the “buckle of the Bible Belt”, as H. L. Mencken called it -- is about to pass a law prohibiting praying... and prohibiting not drinking... and prohibiting not eating? This ought to be fun.
The Iranian government “objects to the logo for the 2012 London Olympics, contending it is racist because it resembles the word 'Zion'”. Hmmm... chances are they're afraid of what will happen when their team encounters all those Jewish jocks. I mean, we know how much natural athletic ability Jews have, right? Um....
Four Italian troops were killed in attacks in Afghanistan, but Premier Berlusconi says “the mission in Afghanistan must continue”. Why?
A Canadian was arrested for giving a “Heil Hitler” salute in front of the Reichstag in Berlin. Don't the authorities know that he was just being “ironic”? Yes... you know we've passed into a new era when Nazi symbols and paraphernalia become “camp”.
Headline: “Army plans to issue bullet-stopping helmets.” Um... OK, but then what were the helmets previously issued supposed to do? Stop something besides bullets? Or, everything _but_ bullets? Or... oh, never mind.
Can't we just get rid of Charlie Sheen once and for all? I mean, seriously, can't he just be exiled to some island in the South Atlantic? We'd all be better off...
The winds of freedom continue to waft across the Arab/Islamic world... and, as usual, it turns out we're on the wrong side in nearly every case – or were, until Obama & Co. realized which way the winds were blowing. Now it seems we're gearing up to land marines in Libya... which ought to give a new lease on life to the line “... to the shores of Tripoli”. (The “halls of Montezuma” have already been taken care of by the “war on drugs”.)
Hey, wait a minute – I thought “terrorism” was one big, gigantic, monolithic thing. At least that's what the government is always telling us. But now Moammar Gadhafi, a certified supporter of terrorism, has blamed Osama bin Laden, a certified terrorist, for the rebellion in Libya. Seems like there must be some way we could “triangulate” this situation, wouldn't you think?
Headline: “Military accused of mind games; Officer: Specialists tried to influence key U.S. legislators.” This, in reference to alleged attempts to “manipulate visiting U.S. lawmakers into providing additional funding and support for the mission (to train Afghan security forces) there.” Well, that's a shocker, I must say. What else are those “fact-finding visits” to war zones by American politicians about other than an opportunity for the military to put on a “dog and pony show”, indulge in a bit of brainwashing, and blow smoke up everyone's butt? I mean... this is standard procedure. The military sets up a bunch of Potemkin villages, the "suits" get escorted around, they smile approvingly, shake hands, and go home. It's the only reason the military will tolerate politicians flying in and tramping around, drawing off much-needed resources. I mean... they have to be fed, entertained, kept in climate-controlled environments... the whole bit. It's a total pain. But the payoff is that they go back to Washington satisfied that “our boys” are doing a bang-up job of “defending the American way of life”, and before long a nice, fat, multi-billion-dollar check gets written, and everyone is happy. So what's the problem? Oh – the people who were supposed to be doing the entertaining were trained in “psy ops” -- which I guess means they were trying to turn the Congressmen into Manchurian candidates. Well... considering that two of the targets were John McCain and Joe Lieberman, I'd say the Manchurian candidate part had long since been accomplished. These guys are downright robotic and zombie-like in their unquestioning support of whatever woebegone mission the military has had imposed on it – no further persuasion is necessary. But the language was a bit awkward: “What do I have to plant inside their heads?” Frankly, anything would be preferable to what's in there now.
Headline: “Criminal cases mount against Clinton donors.” What? You mean Obama isn't protecting Hillary from all these groundless accusations that some of her 2008 campaign money was acquired under shady circumstances? Imagine that. Well, of course, “none of the cases has revealed wrongdoing by Clinton or her top advisors” -- as you might expect. She was born coated in Teflon, just like her so-called husband. And yet it's interesting that the administration sees nothing amiss in keeping her on the defensive; maybe it's some kind of preemptive strike re: the 2012 election.
“Fan handles loss by going to work” -- this, in reference to the Pittsburgh Steelers' defeat in the Super Bowl. Wow – imagine going to work in order to get over a loss by your favorite sports team. What's this world coming to? Time was when the only correct response would have been to down a six-pack then spend the day in bed in a fetal position. I almost think this is something that could be harnessed in some way – like, create more sports teams that are designed to lose games in order to increase productivity. Or something. Let me work on this a bit more.
A word to the wise from one of the leading anti-Mubarak voices in Egypt, Wael Ghonim: “Anyone with good intentions is the traitor because being evil is the norm.” Seems like we have a few cases in our own country that this statement could apply to.
A state senator in Maryland wants to rename two mountains that are currently named Negro Mountain and Polish Mountain, “citing cultural sensitivities”. Well... other than the complete idiocy that this idea represents, which is nothing new, let me point out that there is still an organization called the United Negro College Fund... and what Polish person would object to having a mountain named after his nation or ethnic group? But here is the senator's claim: “New names are needed to more accurately reflect the history and culture of Maryland's western Appalachian region.” Well... those names were given to those mountains by someone, right? So they must be historic in some sense, and they must reflect the culture in some sense, right? I mean, they weren't just chosen at random. Fortunately, the representatives of the region in question have pointed out that “the bill reflects political correctness taken to an extreme” by the city and suburban folk in the eastern part of the state. Very true – and it does provide proof that, in fact, Maryland, as minuscule as it is, is not all “East Coast” -- it includes a bit of Appalachia as well, for which we can all be grateful. Otherwise it might be titanically boring... like Delaware.
Whatever happened to these iconic images? (1) Dogs playing poker. (2) Guys with a beard made up of swarming bees. (3) Naked babies on white bear rugs (now considered “kiddie porn”, I guess). (4) Women with those pointy bras that could seriously injure a guy if he got too close. (5) Drive-in waitresses on roller skates. (6) Men who actually tipped their hat to ladies on the street. (7) Men with adult hats. (8) Women with stockings and garter belts. (9) Women who wore dresses on weekdays. (10) Executives with striped pants, tailcoats, spats, cigars, and top hats. (11) Station wagons (real ones, I mean -- with wooden paneling on the side). (12) Swimming holes (as opposed to chlorine-laden pools). (13) Cigarette holders. (14) Picture windows. (15) Knotty pine rec rooms. (16) Secretaries taking dictation (in shorthand). (17) An office desk without a computer on it. (18) "Rabbit ears" antennas on TVs (I still have 'em!). (19) Old-maid librarians with a bun on their head. And finally... the most radical of them all... (20) service station attendants (in uniform!).
Words and expressions I'm already sick to death of: (1) “going forward”; (2) “tweens”; (3) “civility” (of course!); (4) “indie” (as in film); (5) “provider” (as in health); (6) “tony” (as in neighborhoods, restaurants, bars, etc.); (7) “foodie”; (8) “metrosexual”; (9) “fusion” (as in food, not atomic energy); (10) “upper brackets” (as in real estate); (11) “issues”; (12) “artisanal” (now being applied to everything not made by General Foods in a factory that covers 50 acres); (13) “green”; (14) “carbon footprint”.
I think there ought to be “death panels” for words that could put these, and others equally annoying, out of their misery on a regular basis. Billionaires in our time talk like hod carriers of 100 years ago.