Friday, September 28, 2012

Mob Diplomacy

Today I read my umpteenth news story this week about a rampaging mob threatening a diplomat from an unpopular country. What the hell kind of barbarians would do such a thing? Diplomats are off-limits in the civilized world; the mob clearly hails from an uncivilized country and we should nuke 'em, or at least drone-bomb 'em back to the stone age, in the name of protecting civilization and diplomacy from those unfit for either (I have it on good authority that when people from a particular city threaten or harm a diplomat, that means everybody in that specific city and country condones such behavior and should be held responsible for it) ...  wait, this was an American mob? A mob of New Yorkers baying at an Iranian diplomat they spotted outside the UN building? Oh, never mind then. It's only barbarism if they do it to us; when we do it to them it's merely a few individual bad apples and thus only a bigot would blame the whole orchard.
An Iranian diplomat was escorted from a Manhattan street by New York police after he was surrounded and threatened by an angry mob of protesters near the United Nations.

Deputy Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast was walking near the United Nations yesterday when he was noticed and confronted by the angry mob on Second Avenue near East 48th Street, said NYPD spokesman Paul Browne.

The scuffle was captured on video, in which Mehmanparast was called a murderer before chants of 'terrorist' and 'Yeah, you scared s**t run away and go stand next to the police'.

The mob also shout: 'Get lost and go back into your hotel… What are you doing in New York you sick criminal?'

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Bible Holds The Answers

Numbers 32:13: "And the LORD'S anger was kindled against Israel, and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation, that had done evil in the sight of the LORD, was consumed."

Now replace "Israel" with "the GOP," and contemporary American politics suddenly make a LOT more sense. And behold, a reason for hope: if Numbers got the numbers right, the Republicans should pull their head out of their collective ass by no later than 2041. Until then, expect to hear more ranting against gay couples getting married and straight women having sex without producing a baby nine months later.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Save Me, Uncle Sam! I've Lost Control

I'm trying to kick a drug addiction. The monkey on my back has sunk its sharp claws deep into me in a strangled mixed metaphor no self-respecting English-major professional like me would commit to print, were her judgment not clouded by the aforementioned addiction. Really strong, choice Colombian product -- it's become a crutch rather than a pick-me-up but I'm determined to break that crutch and my dependence on caffeine and walk on my own two legs again, by Zod. I'm feeling okay. Yeah, I think I can do this OH MY GOD THE HALLUCINATIONS ARE STARTING THERE'S BUGS CRAWLING EVERYWHERE ... no, wait, that's not a hallucination. That's just me living in The South nowadays. Damned bugs. Screw this; I'm making some coffee.

So here I am, hooked on a strong Columbian intoxicant and suffering actual medical withdrawal symptoms when I try not-using it. Doesn't matter how many hours of quality sleep I get of a night; I still won't feel well-rested until I drink that first cup of coffee. So much for use in moderation. The government ought to ban this poison. You know what would really help me improve my life via ending my coffee dependence? An armed SWAT team working in conjunction with the DEA, breaking into my house, demolishing everything within it and hauling me off to spend several years in prison.

Oh, dear Zod, did I actually write that? The hallucinations really are starting.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The TSA Mentality Comes To Embassies

I've lost count of how many US embassies have been stormed these past couple of days, but I think I understand why those embassies were stormed so easily: allegedly, US Marines guarding the embassy and consulates in Egypt were forbidden by the state department to carry live ammunition.

That said, government spokesmen have yet to confirm or deny these reports. I'm still hoping they're a giant hoax, but wouldn't be surprised to learn they're true. It's the TSA security theater mentality taken out of airports and inserted overseas: we don't need to do jack to keep people safe, we need only make it look like we're doing jack to keep people safe.

Here's an idea to cut government spending: replace all embassy guards and TSAgents with life-size cardboard cutouts of embassy guards and TSAgents. They'll provide the exact same level of protection, without any need for salaries or benefits or anything like that.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Masochism Mantras: Your Patriotic Duty

Remember that day in kindergarten when Big Kids beat you up and stole your lunch money and you felt so miserable and scared and helpless? You MUST remember it. You must NEVER forget it. That low point was and forevermore shall be the defining moment of your existence, and no matter how happy and successful an adult you grow up to be, you must always feel, deep down, that you're nothing more than a bleeding snot-nosed kid with no lunch money.

That fantastically unhealthy attitude is exactly the one we Americans are supposed to take toward the 9/11 attacks eleven years ago. A child born that morning would be more than halfway to full-fledged adulthood by now, yet still 9/11 is cited as the excuse for any unconstitutional garbage the government chooses to inflict. Why can't I fly on an airplane without first assuming surrender-criminal poses while TSA thugs molest me? Because nine-eleven. Why are we drone-bombing Pakistani wedding parties and then retroactively insisting that everyone who died in our attacks was a terrorist? Nine eleven. Why has the fourth amendment been completely gutted to allow the NSA to listen in on Americans' phone calls and read our electronic communications without a warrant? Nine eleven. Nine eleven nyna leaven nynaleaven nynaleaven ... like any mantra, you're supposed to repeat it over and over and over again until its repetition replaces all rational thought.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

TSA: We Screw With You Just Because We Can

I know, I know ... it's crass and tacky for a writer to quote herself, toot her own horn and say "See? I told you so!" But these are crass and tacky times, so I'll point out that six years ago I said of the TSA, "these stupid rules aren’t meant to make us safer, but only train us in habits of evermore mindless obedience."

And ever since, the TSA has been working non-stop to prove me right. Not content to merely molest travelers, the agency has also been sampling their food and drinks purchased within secure areas of airports. This has nothing to do with keeping people safe; it's just one more way TSAgents can demonstrate "You worthless passengers have no rights at all, but we have the right to screw with you just because we can." Inspecting sodas purchased at an airport McDonald's is pointless even by TSA standards, yet still the agency's apologists bleat, "Oh, but they're doing it to keep us safe!" I swear, I sympathize more and more with those who use the obnoxious term "sheeple" to describe their fellow Americans.

TSA openly admits that much of its behavior is about punishing non-compliance rather than keeping travelers safe; when the agency first started inflicting "enhanced patdowns" (which would be called "sexual assault" if anyone else did it) on passengers, an agent openly admitted that the patdowns' main purpose was to punish people who opted out of walking through the nude-imaging radiation scanners.

And today at the TSA News Blog, Lisa Simeone links to the umpty-millionth example of TSA punitiveness. A passenger uploaded a YouTube video of TSA misbehavior with the following text:

This was inside the terminal at the Houston airport. I was not allowed to board a plane (even though I had already been through airport security) because I drank my water instead of letting the TSA “test” it. The TSA agent finally admitted that it wasn’t because they thought I was a security risk-it was because they were mad at me! [snip] I know this is not really news (it seems like the TSA is retaliating all the time against people), but it was a little satisfying to get that statement on video.

No, not newsworthy at all. I've already pointed out that TSA policy is to employ people who would otherwise be unemployable: TSA's starting salary of $8.21 an hour is less than most fast-food places offer, but TSA also has lower educational qualifications than burger joints (which generally require one either have a high school diploma, or currently be a high school student. TSA, by contrast, doesn't merely accept high-school dropouts; it actively recruits them). 

So of course TSA will deny boarding to passengers who have the gall to drink water rather than let TSA stick its fingers in it. Think about it from the agent's perspective: he knows he's a loser. He knows his fellow Americans despise him. He knows he'd make better money if he spent his days hauling French fries out of a hot-oil vat, yet also knows he lacks the qualifications to do so. He knows his own employers think his life is worthless; that's why TSAgents are forbidden to wear dosimeters at work. If they're being exposed to cancer-causing levels of radiation, their bosses figure, better they get cancer and drop dead; there's no shortage of high-school dropouts to hire in their place, especially in this economy. (Sad to think that I have more respect for TSAgents than the TSA does. I only want to see them in the unemployment line, not the morgue.) And he knows that sticking his hands down people's underwear or into people's water bottles does nothing to make the world a better place. On some level, he's probably envious of the people he molests day in and day out: how come they can afford to buy airline tickets, huh? How come they get important jobs that require travel, whereas I spend my days squeezing people's crotches? 

So how does a TSAgent deal with his unhappiness and justified lack of self-respect? Oh, sure, he could try doing something useful with his life. But that would require some actual hard work and/or brainpower, and if they were willing and able to do that, they wouldn't be TSAgents in the first place. But there's one thing this TSAgent can do: take his unhappiness out on any passenger who dares disrespect his authoritah (as cartoon sociopath Eric Cartman would say). Of course he punishes disobedient airline travelers; there's nothing else he can do, to make himself feel important.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Blah Blah Obama Blah Blah

Sincere question: am I the last person in America who gives a damn about civil liberties anymore? All the coverage I've seen regarding the ongoing Democratic convention focuses primarily on jobs and the economy -- "The economy is better now than it was four years ago. No, it isn't. Yes, it is. Well, it would've been worse without Obama." The cover story in this week's Economist discusses the Obama presidency to date, and with the exception of a brief throwaway mention about killing Bin Laden it, too, is economy-exclusive. Even Obama's Republican opponents focus their attacks on "The economy sucks plus OMG gays in the military," with a side order of "How DARE he not promise to give Israel all the financial or military support they want."

Am I the only one still bothered by the fact that Americans cannot travel within their own national borders without submitting to sexual molestation at the hands of a TSA flunky? Am I the only one who opposes the notion "American citizens can be imprisoned or even killed, solely on the president's say-so?" Am I the only one who remembers his broken promises to close Gitmo or tell the Department of Justice to stop prosecuting sick people who treat their symptoms with marijuana? The only one disturbed by the notion that a humiliating strip-and-spread 'em search may now be inflicted on anybody arrested even for the most minor of misdemeanors? The only one disturbed by the thought that the NSA effectively has carte blanche to listen in on our phone calls and read our emails without even bothering to get a search warrant? The only one appalled by the fact that he's more vociferous about punishing whistleblowers than Bush and Cheney were?

Apparently so. And the American left-wing -- traditional champions of the oppressed and the underdog, so long as they're being oppressed by a Republican -- ignores all this in favor of cooing "Ooh, Michelle is so stylish." Yeah, well, so was Eva Peron.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

If Irony Were Iron, These Folks Would Rust To Death

Every day I peruse sundry help-wanted ads, which is how I learned today that the "Results/Results Educational Fund" is looking to hire a "US Anti-Poverty Policy" intern. Must commit to working at least three days a week, plus occasional evenings, for at least two and a half months, in the very pricey city of Washington, DC, for NO PAY WHATSOEVER. Unsurprisingly, it says a "sense of humor" is required.

I will not be applying for that gig, but I offer the Results/Results Educational Fund the following free advice on how best to eradicate poverty: if you have people working for you, pay them some money

Sneak preview of tomorrow's ads: the "Racism is Bad And We Should Totally Stop It" foundation is looking to hire some interns. Duties include: torching crosses, wearing white hoods, spray-painting swastikas on minority-owned homes and businesses, and writing semi-coherent blog posts explaining why non-white people should all go back to where they came from.

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