Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Sexual Predator Next Door

The Sexual Predator Next Door

By Bill Britton

The sexual molestation tragedy at Penn State brought to mind an incident that occurred when I was 9 or 10 years old. An older boy in the neighborhood—I’ll call him “Guy”—asked me to come into the garage with him because he had “some special stuff” he wanted to rub on me. When I asked him what it was, he went into graphic detail about his intentions, which I won’t repeat here. The flight response kicked in, and I avoided walking by his house until I moved away.

Thirty years later, I attended his cousin’s funeral, a childhood friend who, like me, was a former Marine. Guy was there, along with a few other friends from the neighborhood I hadn’t seen for years. Out of Guy’s earshot, I struck up a conversation with these friends and found that Guy had tried to get each of them into his garage over a period of 5 or 6 years.

I also found out that Guy was a male student recruiter for a small eastern college, a role that sent him around the country and overseas for prospects. But what upset me most on seeing Guy and hearing part of his history was the fact that he had married a younger woman with five young sons. The thought that these boys might have been terrorized by Guy led to thoughts of lying in wait in the parking lot to beat the crap out of him. But I submerged that urge, knowing that I would be labeled the criminal if I did so.

The lesson to be learned from Penn State, and from my personal experience, is that sexual predators come in all sizes, colors, and ages. But more than that, their assaults are rarely singular events. In addition, they often operate under the guise of being a family friend, coach, pastor, priest, teacher, or mentor.

There is no penalty harsh enough for the sexual predator, but castration would be a good start.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

7 Billion and Counting

As we pass the 7-billion mark, there has been renewed criticism of Thomas Malthus and his view that humankind’s future was not necessarily on an upward slope because of the pressures derived from population growth.

Malthus' premises, and certainly his calendar, might have been off, but the fact remains that Earth is running out of vital resources with which to support a much smaller population than the 7-billion now extant. The depletion of fossil fuels and exotics like rare earths, for example, receive a fair amount of press, which they should, since they enable technologically advanced societies to exist.

Fossil fuels are the source of nitrate fertilizer for high-yield crops; the other vital agricultural input, phosphate, is mined, and once used, dissipates as run-off or percolates down into near-surface strata. Neither constituent is recoverable, and there are no substitutes that will support the food needs of those 7 billion for more than a dozen decades or so, much less the projected 9 to 10 billion of 2050.

Of course, water, whether potable or reclaimed, is already in short supply in most of the world, and indeed, its lack in sub-Saharan Africa has diminished what in the best of times has been a hardscrabble existence.

The drive for economic growth is both a boon and bane for humankind. Over the short term, economic growth brings with it prosperity, at least for those who are its beneficiaries. But over the long term, economic growth in tandem with population growth will only exacerbate the depletion of the abovementioned critical resources. Plus, the accumulation of externalities (e.g., greenhouse gases, water pollution) in the environment will see the diminution of the general population’s quality-of-life.

Technological fixes and scientific advancements will only carry us so far, despite the claims of leaders in industry and politics. At the dusk of civilization, an unsustainable population will no doubt be seen as the problem.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Republican Candidates To Be Sacked

Lady Gaga Set To Meat Up With Them

By Bill Britton

Special to INS — The Republican National Committee (RNC) may organize a potato-sack race to eliminate the uncertainty over its eventual presidential nominee. Although Mitt Romney has consistently polled 25% of Republican voters, that is not enough to ensure his nomination. Because of this dilemma, the RNC felt it had no alternative but to formulate a more objective nominating process.

Ground rules are still being discussed, but a member of the committee leaked several to this reporter. The event will take place in Tropicana Field in Tampa, the host city for the nominating convention. The race course will be 100 yards in length, with female candidates given a 10-yard advantage. Although Michelle Bachmann is the only announced female, it is expected that Sarah Palin will enter because she completed a course in sack racing at Wasilla Adult Community Organization (WACO) in Alaska.

Former Texas Tech cheerleader Rick Perry has objected to the plan based on the medical fact that people like him with no necks cannot generate the proper body motion to compete effectively. Perry suggests that a modified greased-pig contest be held, with Lady Gaga dressed in a Bikini top and thong and slathered with Texas barbeque sauce.

A surging Herman Cain—and Godfather’s Pizza CEO—volunteered five gallons of marinara sauce to use instead, but the RNC feels that barbeque is more in the American tradition and is consistent with Lady Gaga’s fondness for meaty attire. The celebrity performer has promised that her outfit will be in good taste.

Ron Paul has denied accusations of blood doping to enhance his chances: “I don’t need blood. Unlike the other candidates, I don’t have to spend $9.88 for a mask at Wal-Mart. What you see is what you get, fear-wise, that is.”

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Satellite Debris Kills Bull: Obama Blamed

Bobby-Joe Killicat and his son guarding the Winnebago containing satellite debris.

Satellite Debris Kills Bull: Obama Blamed

By Bill Britton

Special to INS — The 20-year-old satellite that crashed into Earth last week had a roughly 1-in-3,200 chance of hitting a person, NASA officials claimed. The Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite, or UARS (pronounced: you-arse), apparently missed the planet’s 7 billion people but shrapnel did hit Gunnar Daligson’s prize bull, Big Johnson, in Willard, Wisconsin.

A broken-hearted Daligson told CNN’s Chris Jansing, “That piece of space junk slammed into the bullpen, and a flying gate hinge castrated Big Johnson quick as a wink. He’s been bellowing one octave higher ever since. Poor feller just stares into his hay trough or bends over looking ‘tween his forelegs.”

White House Liaison David Noble stated that “NASA regrets the castration and will reimburse Mr. Daligson as soon as Congress agrees on Washington’s latest debt-reduction plan. President Obama later denied he pressured NASA to re-program the satellite’s path to hit Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s home.”

Several other pieces of debris landed near the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas. Local resident Bobby-Joe Killicat gathered them up and put them on display in an old Winnebago across from the ranch. He said, “My cousin Eldred works at the International UFO Museum in Roswell and started talking in tongues when I told him the chunks fell into my back yard. Armageddon is a-comin’!”

Presidential candidate Rick Perry blamed the Obama administration for the breakup of the satellite: “The President must explain to the American people how this could happen. When I’m elected, my administration will install a shield over America to deflect space junk.”

When told of the impracticality of such a shield, Perry responded by saying, “With the Lord’s help all things are possible, with the exception of maybe asking Him to rain on Texas—He sure as Hell screwed that one up.”

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Myth of Learning from 9/11

We need a few more Hamlets

I read this quote today: "It [9/11] led us to question many of our assumptions about the nature of our country, our alliances, our military capabilities, and our worldview."

My question is, Who is questioning the foregoing? I see a lot of chest-thumping or the equivalent (the chant of “USA! USA!” at last night’s Jet game comes to mind). The new “community” is the mall or Amazon’s Web pages, not very conducive to the give-and-take of a questioning citizenry. That great tutor of sensibilities, The Classics, has been dropped from all but a few elite colleges. Many college freshmen have never read a newspaper, either in sheet form or on the Web. Neither MSNBC nor FOX News is in the business of informing without bias. The lost virtues of self-examination and self-criticism conflict with the notion that all opinions are valid. The drive to elevate the Jeffersonian individual to god-like status has destroyed and is destroying the concept of the common good in America. The three branches of government are incompetent and its members often malicious. These are just a few roadblocks to our, as a nation, questioning anything about our national polity or policies.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11 and the Colaio Brothers

Mark Colaio

As America remembers 9/11, it should also examine its roots. It was not a spontaneous emergence of terrorists who hate America, as some would have you believe. Hate, yes, but hatred borne of a history that saw the U.S. and Western Europe exploit the Mideast’s oil resources while simultaneously disrespecting Muslim culture. We are the “aliens” whose military presence will only inspire new generations of terrorists.

On this day, I remember in particular Mark Colaio, senior managing director at Cantor Fitzgerald, who perished on 9/11 along with his brother Stephen. Mark was a good friend to my son John and fun to be around.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

When will the revolution begin?

A healthy democracy cultivates mechanisms that redistribute wealth. These include an equitable taxation system, a corporate conscience, and reasonable social programs. The goal of each should be to support the common good. All three mechanisms are weak or under attack in the United States. When will the revolution begin?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Texas Governor Perry Calls for Washington to Secede

The United State of Washington flag

By Bill Britton

Texas Governor Rick Perry said today that, if elected President, he would put in motion a secession plan for the nation’s capitol, Washington, D.C. The recently announced presidential candidate hinted several years ago that Texas could secede should the Federal Government become too burdensome. “I believe it’s best if Washington leaves the Union,” said Perry. “This would allow the 50 states to become independent entities with their own armed forces and tax rates, which in the case of Texas would be zero. And since everyone over age 5 has a gun, every Texan’s security is a done deal.”

MSNBC reporter Chuck Todd challenged Perry’s plan, saying that the Constitution would prohibit secession. Perry responded by accusing Todd of being a “spokesman for liberal extremism and a secular humanist, the most ungodly mix imaginable. Besides, the good old boys on the Supreme Court are on my side. If they had the balls to call corporations ‘individuals’, they sure as hell won’t hesitate to call the states ‘countries’.”

Michelle Bachmann, the Tea Party’s poster babe, quickly signed on to Perry’s plan: “I only wish I thought of it first. Just think, in one fell swoop we could eliminate Social Security, Medicare, the EPA, and all those other boondoggles. Plus I wouldn’t have to listen to that queer Barney Frank and his rants about the middle class. The middle class is just fine. They have their NASCAR, McDonalds, and Wal-Mart, everything for the good life.”

Perry said that all government programs would be turned over to the private sector, which would eliminate the need for lobbyists: “Those K-Street types would no longer have to bribe Congress with campaign money. Katy, bar the door! Think how much this would add to the bottom lines of all the oil companies in my state.”

Republicans Set Brackets for 2012 Nomination

Rick Perry shooting liberals from trees

By Bill Britton

Special to INS — The Republican National Committee (RNC) has set the brackets for the 2012 nominating convention to be held in Tampa, Florida, starting in August 2012. Top seed is Mitt Romney, despite the fact that his political history reads like a Democrat’s “How To” book.

Second seed is Michelle Bachmann, famed historian, who plans to care for 26 additional foster children for a total of 49, which, as she said, would match the number of states. When told that there are 50 states, Bachmann responded by claiming that Hawaii is not a state and that President Obama’s citizenship was proven invalid.

Tim Pawlenty, Gary Johnson, and John Huntsman, third, fourth, and fifth seeds, respectively, are in a battle to determine who can capture the so-called “boredom” vote, the segment of the Republican party that subscribes to Birdwatcher Magazine. According to his former students, sixth seed Newt Gingrich should be part of this group, although his predisposition for trophy wives and jewelry is at odds with a boring lifestyle.

Seventh and eighth seeds, “The Two Ricks,” Santorum and Perry, are in competition for the “Most Ignorant Candidate Award,” given every election cycle by Fox News Chairman, Roger Ailes. “I wanted to give the award to Michelle,” said Ailes, “but she’s been boning up on sixth-grade history, which disqualifies her.”

Former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain is relegated to ninth seed, mainly because he failed to attain the rank of Eagle Scout like his male competitors.

Of course the great unknown are the intentions of Sarah Palin, who some describe as the seediest of the potential nominees. When last seen, she and husband Todd were converting the “One Nation” tour bus into a moose blind with a 50-caliber machine gun mounted on the roof.

Charleston Park to Host Lecture Series

Record carp caught in Charleston Park retention pond

Carp problem "the last straw"

By Bill Britton

North Port, FL — Charleston Park, a small gated community on Florida’s west coast, is planning to offer a series of lectures to its residents for the purpose of “raising community standards.” Taking a hint from the community newsletter, which lectures residents on a variety of issues each month, the sessions will hopefully obviate the need to repeat what some residents consider to be “scoldings.”

First on the agenda is the “carp problem.” Several residents have been seen casting nets into community ponds under the cover of darkness and landing 4-pounders. To compound the dilemma, the offenders are using the carp to fertilize their shrubs. “It is an ecologically friendly way to green up the garden,” said Madden Scatolski. “The Seminoles used this method for centuries. The only problem is the cat invasion”

The ban against parking on Charleston Park’s roadways is consistently violated, especially by the Dominoes Pizza delivery vehicle. But the greater problem involves several RVs that block satellite reception and sunlight from reaching adjacent homes. “I’ve missed the last two episodes of Jersey Girls,” complained Sidney Voyeur, whose shrubs are wilting for lack of sunlight. “Maybe I need some of those dead carp.”

Lawn and shrubbery maintenance is another contentious issue. Residents are encouraged to mow at least every two weeks, even when the turf is dormant. Harry Grub has come up with an alternative to grass: “I’ll just spray the entire yard with Roundup. This way the HOA Board can’t complain. Maybe I’ll roll on a few gallons of green deck paint to brighten up the dirt. That’ll make my plastic flamingoes really stand out.”

Breton Nears Completion of Cosmic Ark

Celestial Bunghole ready for liftoff

Debt-Ceiling Compromise Prompts Renewed Interest

By Bill Britton

Special to INS — Liam Breton, who several months ago failed in his attempt to foment a second American Revolution, announced today that he has nearly completed constructing a cosmic ark. Named the Celestial Bunghole, the ark is designed to transport the few remaining liberals to “HD 189733b,” an extrasolar planet more than 60 light years from Earth that was found to have organic molecules in its atmosphere. An earlier prototype soared almost 30 feet before Florida neighbor Villin Smutty shot it down with an anti-tank gun, a deed featured in the NRA publication, American Rifleman.

To avoid Smutty’s weaponry, Breton has moved the launch pad to the dense forest on Florida’s Panhandle. Rumors that it is really a missile aimed at Governor Rick Scott’s home are unfounded, said Breton. “You can’t get close enough. He’s got a small army of bald look-alikes in brown shirts guarding it. Besides, there’s a sign on the front gate that says, ‘No One Over 55 Allowed.’”

Now that the Space Shuttle program has ended, public attention has shifted to the Celestial Bunghole. The parking lots around Tallahassee are filling up with motor homes and walkers from as far away as Alaska to witness the launch. The passenger list includes activist Ralph Nader, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, and Horace Tromper, noted castrato and a runner-up on the TV show, “America’s Got Talent.”

Breton is concerned about reports of Tea Party agitators in the area: “They’re angry because the Bunghole has ticketed only 27 liberals. I’ve told them repeatedly that they’re all that’s around. The men are lined up trying to get visas to Scandinavia, which a Gallup poll says boasts the happiest countries in the world. And their wives are on Amazon.com buying rain gear and Rosetta Stone language software.”

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Goin’ Back to Ocracoke

Goin’ Back to Ocracoke

By Bill Britton

Each spring I heed the sand dunes’ call and pack the campin’ gear:
the best Dead discs, the fishin’ poles, a case or two of beer.
The risin’ sun draws me north to sandy isles they named
the Outer Banks where Teach’s wealth lies buried and unclaimed.
I cross the bridge at Currituck with Kitty Hawk in view
and one eye out for state police who thirst for revenue.

Goin’ back to Ocracoke, the land of goodsome folks
who look on summer lads like me as migratory jokes.
Dingbatters all, we try our best to mummock them the least,
but quamished looks reveal the fact we’ve driven too far east.

Pea Island’s sign reminds me soon of liquids drunk en route.
I stop to ease my achin’ gut midst poison ivy shoots.
The itch won’t start to drive me mad until a night has passed,
then calamine and sea-salt soaks will lend relief at last.
I wave at Avon, Buxton too, and Frisco’s scalawags,
then charter boats at Hatteras wave back at me with flags.

I rumble ‘cross the ferry ramp onto the steel-plate decks
and weave between the channel gates and shoals designed for wrecks.
I dash down 12, the first car off, “Hello, Molasses Creek,”
mosquito hoardes a-lyin’ low, a-honin’ bloody beaks.
The campground sign spurs me on, the village is close by,
my cubes of ice a mem’ry now, my beer as hot as pie.

The V’riety Store glows in mist, I slow to twenty per
and nudge my sleepy soulmate who is growlin’ like a cur.
Her carpin’ fails to faze me as I walk in through the door
with visions of a peaceful sea, Bikinied babes galore.
“Two bags of ice, if you please, and what’s the current price?”
“Sorry sir, but I’ve bad news. We’ve just run out of ice.”

I’m back again in Ocracoke, the land of goodsome folks
who look on summer lads like me as migratory jokes.
Dingbatters all, we try our best to mommock them the least,
but quamished looks reveal the fact, we’ve driven too far east.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

We are in deep poop

The Future Is Here

We are in deep poop. The 2012 election will be the scariest. If the economy/employment is still in a deep funk, more Tea Party types will likely be elected and progressivism will continue its slow death. Of course, this is conservatism's long-term objective--to turn this country into an oligarchy with theocratic overtones. From there, it is short hop to delayed elections and the abandonment of democratic principles. People scoff at me when I say this, but as Santayana wrote, "Those who do not know history's mistakes are doomed to repeat them." Besides, who reads history any more other than a decreasing number of academics? Economists certainly don't, nor do politicians.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

CNN World News: Darfur

CNN World News: Darfur

by Bill Britton

Above an arc of black coffee,
ebony figures,
gnarled and wrapped
in dusty parchment,
lean across the screen,
their eyes charred by hunger,
their nurslings adrift
in a wasteland of withered breasts,
their bodies bent by indifferent winds
that swirl over umbered landscapes
and scourge this kindling of races
raked into barren corners
and lost in the gaze of camera lenses.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Reflections on Independence Day

Reflections on Independence Day

By Bill Britton

Attempts to pass a Constitutional Amendment against flag burning has, at times, generated personal uneasiness about the long-term integrity of two documents that have required limited adjustment since their creation by a small group of revolutionaries more than 200 years ago: the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I feel that such an amendment would reduce, not increase, the condition of freedom within the United States. Because the Republican Party has become increasingly conservative, citizens can expect renewed efforts should it regain control of both the executive and legislative branches of government. The fact that the Supreme Court is similarly conservative means that there is a good chance that court challenges to an amendment would be defeated.

At first glance, transforming flag desecration from an act of protest to one of criminality seems harmless enough, since those who commit this act tend to be imbued with political outlooks contrary to those of mainstream America. And although watching the national symbol burn on the streets of some foreign city distresses most Americans, to see this done on the streets of an American city, by an American, can elevate this distress to a level of venomous rage. The polls reflect this. The great majority of all Americans are in favor of an amendment to prohibit, and thus criminalize, flag desecration.

Several processes are at work when flames consume a symbol revered from childhood on. Woven into its fabric are memories commonly held such as reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in grade school. Later, elements that are more complex reinforce that early innocence and might embrace incidents like the loss of a comrade in war. Underlying each individual notion of the flag as a private symbol rests tribal instincts that are often expressed on a grander scale as nationalism. In short, an assault leveled against the flag is an assault leveled against an amalgam of memories, innocent ideals, and loyalties, an amalgam that is unifying but can be explosive.

However, the flag as symbol represents far more than those personal and highly charged properties that have become enmeshed within it. When asked what the flag means to them, most Americans will immediately answer, “Freedom.” Since our early history is colored by efforts to secure it, freedom seems to be a logical first response. But since our follow-on history includes a long episode of slavery and the repression of various social and ethnic groups, does not the flag also connote these less palatable traces of national character? Alternatively, do its constituent colors, by representing courage, purity, and justice, exclude the possibility of acknowledging their antitheses?

If the flag as symbol is to honestly represent what America is about, that flag must be inclusive of what is bad as well as what is perceived to be good. By claiming that the flag represents only the national good, Americans must ignore a few chapters of its history and certain aspects of contemporary life. Indeed, it can be argued that for some Americans, the flag represents little more than social and economic marginalization.

Once a flag becomes old and worn or stained, its proper disposal requires burning. Local branches of the American Legion sponsor annual flag-burning ceremonies throughout the country. How can the courts distinguish between these ceremonies and those initiated by citizens who view the country, and therefore the flag, as morally worn or stained, its courage turned cowardly, its purity violated, and its justice compromised? Which ceremony is more ethically correct? In the former, an arbitrary determination was made some time in the past that the proper disposal of a worn flag requires its burning. In the latter, an individual or group sees flag burning as a legitimate response to some violation of its moral code or politics. Whether the weight of the majority condemns that response is of little consequence. A nation must pay the price if it is to honor the concept of free and untrammeled expression.

By definition, ownership of property in America carries with it the right to use that property in any manner as long as that use does not endanger others. Flags are manufactured articles. They enter the stream of distribution not unlike other of capitalism’s goods and are then sold to consumers. Payment transfers ownership to these consumers who are then free to use or abuse a particular article as they see fit, as long as that use causes no physical harm to the lives or property of others. Can rights of ownership be displaced by a prohibition against the destruction of a manufactured article by its legal owner? To claim that this nation owns the symbolic portion of a flag I have purchased for $19.88 at Walmart flies in the face of logic. My flag purchase receives neither subsidy from my neighbors nor rebate from Washington. Its symbolic essence consists of what I, as citizen, attach to it. Since that essence is of a strictly personal nature, I am free to extol or to vilify it. A constitutional restriction on this freedom is nothing less than an enfeebling of the First Amendment.

A nation that claims to be made up of free, independent citizens is a nation of potential dissenters. Freedom and the ability to protest, without harm, the actions and words of others and to take issue with an entrenched polity are parts of our everyday life and comprise the genesis of our nationhood. Although flag burning might lie at the fringes of individual liberty, its impact as a political statement will only be enhanced by its prohibition.

If we have become so unsure of ourselves that we need to restrain this seldom-used form of protest, we are moving closer to the mindset that encourages fundamentalists of any stripe to declare: I am always right (and its corollary: You are right if you agree with me). A flag worth its salt as a national symbol should be made of better stuff and need not fear protest in any form, even if that means its occasional immolation.

On most national holidays, I fly two flags: the national symbol and the Marine Corps eagle, globe, and anchor. As a former Marine, I love both symbols for different reasons, but they remain just that: symbols of my country and symbols of part of my personal history. A flag-burning amendment would do nothing to enhance that relationship.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Goldman Sachs to Change Name to Sacks O’Gold

Goldman Sachs Board of Directors

Goldman Sachs to Change Name to Sacks O’Gold

By Bill Britton

Special to INS — Lloyd C. Blankfein, Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, the New York-based bank holding company, announced today that the firm will change its name to Sacks O’Gold (NYSE ticker, SOG). The change is in keeping with the firm’s intention to better position itself as the leading source of greed in the world.

“Last January’s compensation payout to our bankers was only $15.3 billion, down from last year’s $16 billion,” said Blankfein, soaking in a hot tub filled with steamy My-T-Fine chocolate pudding. “I don’t know how they’ll manage to trade in their old Mercedes for 2011’s. I guess they’ll just have to find some more suckers to buy into the derivatives market. Maybe we can set up a sub-prime mortgage company in Haiti.”

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is especially enthusiastic about the change: “The northeast corner of Fort Knox was set aside for Goldman when I came into office and pulled the coup of the century by changing Goldman from an investment bank to a bank holding company. In that way, the taxpayers were able to bail out my buddies Henry Paulson, Robert Rubin, and Larry Summers, all at risk from losing their Park Avenue penthouses.”

Novelist Ayn Rand, whose theory of trickle-down greed is embraced by former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, is the most-read author on Wall Street. “She’s my favorite,” said runner Iwanna Shekels. “Mr. Blankfein reminds me so much of John Galt, the hero in Rand’s novel, The Fountainhead. It opened my eyes to the fact that altruism is nothing but a suckfest invented by the liberal elite. My fiancé Seymour Azole and I agree that our first-born will be named Randy. It’s so exciting—Iwanna, Seymour, and Randy Azole.”

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Don't know much about history . . .

Not only is Palin an idiot, she, like Bachmann, doesn't know shit about U.S. history. Remember Bachmann saying that the founding fathers did away with slavery? The sad part is that many Americans probably take their claims at face value. We get what we deserve.

Go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5dRqaDrhgb8&feature=player_detailpage

Friday, June 3, 2011

Armageddon Machine Breaks Down

Armageddonator, version 8.1

Armageddon Machine Breaks Down

By Bill Britton

Special to INS — Like its earlier failure in 1994, Howard Camping’s Armageddonator® broke down only seconds after it was fired up on Saturday at 6:00 pm. “At the heart of the machine is an old REO Truck engine, and the dang main bearing just seized up,” said Camping from his Oakland, California home.

The best estimate is that the Armageddonator® ran for no more than 30 seconds, which was enough to levitate several dozen of the “saved” around the country. Bernard Boudreaux of Evangeline Parish in Louisiana was raised up almost 27 feet before he fell back to earth “like a shot ‘possum. I felt like a couyon [crazy person] until I saw the Pearly Gates open up just over Lake Chicot.” Boudreaux only suffered a mild ankle sprain in the fall.

Judgment Day was less kind to others. Butti Brule, a prostitute in Little Rock, Arkansas, suffered third-degree burns when her deep-fat fryer jumped off the counter and splashed hot oil on her right leg. “That was enough message for me,” said Brule. “I’m gonna mend my ways and get a job at Wal-Mart. Eight bucks an hour is better than eternity in Satan’s pit, although my co-worker Chastitty thinks it might be worse. Thanks to that broken-down REO, I get a second chance.”

In a related matter, former pastor and current Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee refused comment after his cell phone bill was posted on the Internet, showing that seven calls were made to Brule’s office in April. A spokesperson for the governor said that “the calls were unrelated to Ms. Brule’s profession.” There was no word on how high Huckabee was raised on Saturday, although rumors are rampant that the burns on his forearm were not caused by a barbecue flare-up as originally claimed.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Concerning the Gaia Hypothesis

Concerning the Gaia Hypothesis (http://www.gaiatheory.org/):

Over the long term (billions of years), there is little that humanity can do to thwart the eventual consumption of Earth by an expanding Sun as it transitions to a red giant. Plus, the geologic record is clear regarding numerous periodic climate extremes that predate any human influence. In other words, the Gaia hypothesis (aka, the self-correcting myth) is doomed to discredit from the start. This is not to say that, in the interim, humanity cannot impact world climate in a positive, or negative, way, which in a sense gives limited credence to Gaia theory.

It is important to separate the concept of “climate” from that of “weather.” Weather is local and highly variable. Climate, at least in terms of the debate over climate change, is global and gradual. The extreme weather of the past few years might be due to the cumulative effect of climate change or it might be just the result of normal variation. According to climatologists, there is likely a tipping point (~450 ppm CO2) when runaway global warming will kick in, turning vast swaths of the middle latitudes to desert, or to swamp, depending on the model. In either case, much of coastal civilization would have to pack up and move due to sea rise. I believe we are moving inexorably toward that tipping point, and see no global consensus on how to avoid it, which is indicative of the human tendency to think short term. (Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.)

We (humanity) are fixated on economic growth. This fixation will doom us. Instead, we should be fixated on the one initiative that could save us: rein in population growth with a target world population of no more than several hundred million. Earth’s resources might be able to support that number over the next hundreds of millions of years. But this is a foolish hope: the alliance of greed, religion, and nationalism will work together to obscure the reality that Earth’s support structure is limited and finite. Even more foolish is the idea that the stars hold the key to avoiding humanity’s extinction through resettlement on a distant planet; but that is another story.

Friday, May 20, 2011

IMF Head Strauss-Kahn Engaged to Rikers Inmate

Sofitel Hotel Annex

IMF Head Strauss-Kahn Engaged to Rikers Inmate

By Bill Britton

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who heads the International Monetary Fund and, until a few days ago, was likely to be the Socialist Party candidate for president of France, has announced his engagement to Heebie Longfellow, an inmate at New York’s Rikers Island where the IMF Director has taken up residence. Strauss-Kahn is accused of sexually assaulting a housekeeper at the luxurious Sofitel Hotel in Manhattan.

The rushed engagement has taken everyone by surprise, especially his wife Anne, who said, “I never thought that Dominique might be AC-DC, although he does keep a buff photo of Arnold Schwarzenegger on his dresser, and he does prefer me to wear his tightie-whities around the house. My goddaughter, Tristane Banon, who says that he attacked her in 2002 like a ‘rutting chimpanzee,’ is unfair. He can hardly bend down to tie his shoes, much less dance around on his knuckles.”

The head of France’s Socialist Party, Jean-Marc Ayrault, could not understand why Strauss-Kahn was arrested: “In France, assaulting maids is a normal part of life. We depend on the resulting bastards to prop up the workforce. On Tuesdays, when Mélanie comes to spruce up my apartment, we play hide-and-seek, she in her apron and me in my Adidas track shoes.”

Of course not all members of the Socialist Party are happy with the fact that Strauss-Kahn’s hotel room cost $3,000 per night. Francois Peut, head of Paris’ trash collector’s union, complained, “You can get a great room in Paris for 500 to 600 Euros, with a different maid every day. Was this Longfellow wearing an apron? Mon dieu! I must rush off and buy Dominique an engagement gift. Do you think silk sheets would be in good taste?”

Trump Aide Arrested: Caught with Obama Birth Certificate

Balinskaya about to take dictation from dictator Gaddafi

Trump Aide Arrested: Caught with Obama Birth Certificate

By Bill Britton

Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi’s former nurse, Ukrainian-born Oksana Balinskaya and now Donald Trump’s personal assistant, was seized at Honolulu Airport after a high-speed chase through the city. In her possession was President Obama’s original birth certificate. “Der Donald promised it vould be a slam dunk. How vaz I to know Ukrainian money vaz no good for bribes? I just grab certificate and skedaddle. No time for umbrella drink.”

When reached in New York, Trump denied being behind the attempted theft: “Oksana took it upon herself to steal the supposed original—what dedication!—I’ve now asked the birth registrar in Honolulu to turn it over to my team for radio-carbon analysis to see if it is actually 50 years old. Then it’s off to dig up the attending obstetrician and nurses for additional evidence.”
Hawaii Governor Abercrombie said he was “under no obligation to turn over the original to a creepy mo’o [lizard] like Trump. He belongs in a hale moa [chicken house] with that hair. Just think how many eggs that nest could hold.”

Once Trump proves that the President is not a natural-born citizen, he plans to open an inquiry into the legitimacy of George Washington’s citizenship: “The man was born in 1732, before there was even a United States. I think it’s clear he should be impeached even though he’s been dead for 200 years. He was British, as far as I can tell.”

DAR President Merry Wright was apoplectic over Trump’s attack on Washington: “Mr. Trump should be keelhauled for denigrating the Father of our country. After all, he planted his seed in nothing but the best ladies during colonial times. Ah, if all those beds could only talk.”

Bill Britton Joins Tea Party on April 1st

Florida governor Rick Scott, Bill Britton's mentor

Bill Britton Joins Tea Party on April 1st

By Guillaume Breton

After months of soul-searching, Bill Britton, a very cranky gentleman from Florida, who coincidentally writes for a scatological online publication, decided he’d had enough with the panty-waist members of the political left and will switch his allegiance to the Tea Party, or tea party, whichever is politically correct.

“I’ve come to realize that my political outlook is at least as weird as Rand Paul’s, as historically challenged as Michelle Bachman’s, as out-doorsie as Sarah Palin’s, as religiously fundamentalist as Mike Huckleberry’s, and I am as blinded by my own grandeur as Glenn Beck,” said Britton.

To illustrate his commitment to Tea Party ideals, Britton will cross into Alabama and purchase an assault rifle from the Alabama Militia, which believes in protecting Second Amendment rights by shooting unarmed wildlife. The militia’s president, Arlen “Gumball” Shlong, said his group has a long history of shooting raccoons. “Why my daddy’d git his share of ‘coons back in the 1940s. He’d sneak out at night in this white camouflaged outfit with only a torch to find his way. Them was the good old days.”

Britton plans to enter the primary race once he can garner the required number of petition signatures. “I believe that is a slam-dunk,” said Britton. “I’m relying on the natural ignorance of the electorate, plus I’ve got more wrinkles than Ronald Reagan had when he ran, which should seal the vote in Florida for a start. And unlike Governor Rick Scott, I’m not facing a possible indictment for Medicare fraud. I wonder if he’s got any of that fraud money left to support my candidacy. After all, we’re now cut from the same cloth.”

Gingrich’s “Brilliance” Outshines Einstein

Gingrich asking Clinton to borrow Hillary for the night

Gingrich’s “Brilliance” Outshines Einstein

By Bill Britton

In a nationally televised news conference, potential Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich revealed that his I.Q. is 20 points higher than renowned physicist Albert Einstein. “The American people know that I am basically a modest individual, but I felt I owed it to my adoring public to no longer hide my intellectual brilliance under a mortarboard, so to speak,” said Gingrich who now wears his academic robes 24/7.

As verification of that brilliance, Bob Jones University has created a new academic award, summa cum bubba, which will be reserved for those whose intellectual capacity exceeds that of Einstein. Gingrich, who graduated from Tulane University, has enjoyed a steady stream of academic awards, beginning with the DuPont science award that he received at age 6 for discovering the reason why peanuts split into two sections: “Essentially, I concluded that it was God’s will, and another example of Intelligent Design.”

Gingrich said that he couldn’t wait to enter the televised debate season with the other Republican candidates: “My credentials are impeccable and include my capacity to womanize even ugly bitches. I’m just hoping the committee puts my podium in between Palin and Bachmann. I’ll destroy their concentration with my best come-hither glances. Plus I’ll point out that both graduated magna cum nada from Dimwit University.”

Concerning the potential male candidates, Gingrich was equally dismissive: “Pawlenty is Mr. Rogers in drag, Romney’s a Mormon—‘nuf said, and Huckleberry’s as big a nut case as Bachmann. By the time I’m finished with ‘em, they won’t know the difference between Lincoln and Washington, which in the case of Bachmann is a done deal.”

Next week, Gingrich is to make a guest appearance as a manatee in a National Geographic special on PBS.

Rep. King Begins Crusade Against Muslims

Rep. Peter King's favorite footware

Rep. King Begins Crusade Against Muslims

By Bill Britton

Special to INS — Representative Peter King (R-NY) has begun hearings on the radicalization of the Muslim community in the U.S. His congressional committee has decided to extend its mandate to cover certain business groups in the U.S., including the 7-11 League of Unabashed Taliban (“7-11-LOUT”), the Muslim Alliance of Gas-Guzzling Osama Disciples (“MAGGOD”), and the Muslim Extremist Cooperative Council of America (“MECCA”).

Rep. King began his probe at the urging of Igor deSerpent, president of SWAMP (So Worried about Muslim Practices), a Tea-Party-staffed political action committee funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, whose coal-mining operation in West Virginia provided background for the recent documentary film, “Why the Appalachians Should Be Flattened.”

During an MSNBC interview, Chris Matthews asked King why Muslims were being targeted. He replied that “Muslims want to establish a caliphate in the U.S., which can be seen by the fact that President Obama has built a mosque in the basement of the White House. Plus, the carpet in the Oval Office bearing the Presidential Seal has been replaced by a prayer rug made by child labor, specifically, his daughters Malia and Sasha. And, his wife Michelle wears a burqa.”

When Matthews suggested that the burqa was in fact a scarf similar to those worn by many American women, King became enraged and began speaking in tongues, which caused the hundreds of Christian fundamentalists picketing MSNBC to collapse on the sidewalk in rapturous writhing. MSNBC President Phil Griffin reacted by saying, “One of them wasn’t Rush Limbaugh, was it? He’s been known to fall into a cataleptic fit whenever he hears names like Obama, Gore, or Pelosi.”

Rep. King plans to follow up the present inquiry with one that will focus on the question of why liberal elites wear Crocs sandals rather than Walmart flip-flops.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Charleston Park to Host Lecture Series

A flock of plastic flamingoes in the author's yard

Charleston Park to Host Lecture Series

By Bill Britton

North Port, FL — Charleston Park, a small gated community on Florida’s west coast, is planning to offer a series of lectures to its residents for the purpose of “raising community standards.” Taking a hint from the community newsletter, which lectures residents on a variety of issues each month, the sessions will hopefully obviate the need to repeat what some residents consider to be “scoldings.”

First on the agenda is the “carp problem.” Several residents have been seen casting nets under the cover of darkness and landing 4-pounders. To compound the dilemma, the offenders are using the carp to fertilize their shrubs. “It is an ecologically friendly way to green up the garden,” said Madden Scatolski. “The Seminoles used this method for centuries. The only problem is the cat invasion”

The ban against parking on Charleston Park’s roadways is consistently violated, especially by the Dominoes Pizza delivery vehicle. But the greater problem involves several RVs that block satellite reception and sunlight from reaching adjacent homes. “I’ve missed the last two episodes of Jersey Girls,” complained Sidney Voyeur, whose shrubs are wilting for lack of sunlight. “Maybe I need some of those dead carp.”

Lawn and shrubbery maintenance is another contentious issue. Residents are encouraged to mow at least every two weeks, even when the turf is dormant. Harry Grub has come up with an alternative to grass: “I just spray the entire yard with Roundup. This way the HOA Board can’t complain. Maybe I’ll roll on a few gallons of green deck paint to brighten up the dirt. That’ll make my plastic flamingoes really stand out.”

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Government Chips Away at Privacy

Sam Lowry, the hero of Brazil

Government Chips Away at Privacy

By Bill Britton

The Department of Homeland Security has contracted with the Digital Angel company to have its ID chips implanted in all Americans and illegal aliens. At $12 per chip and injector, the cost will total $4.8 billion, unless the government is able to negotiate a quantity discount. Veterinarians, who have implanted Digital Angel’s chips in pets and livestock for years, will be licensed for human implants. These will be free to Medicare subscribers and to those with healthcare insurance. The 50-million uninsured will pay a fee of $50 to $100.

The chip will be rebranded the Lowry Tracker, in honor of Sam Lowry, the protagonist in Terry Gilliam’s dystopian film, Brazil. The Tracker emits a 125-kilohertz radio frequency signal that transmits its unique ID number to scanners that will be installed throughout the country and in most bedrooms. The ID number then accesses a computer database containing the person's file.

Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) sponsored the funding bill, which eventually passed by a slim majority in both houses of Congress. “This program will allow the government to trace the whereabouts of everyone in the U.S.,” said Kyl. “Those with incomes above $1 million per year will be exempted because they are the most trustworthy members of society, especially my colleagues on Wall Street.”

The program has alarmed some Christian fundamentalists who claim that the chips are the biblical “Mark of the Beast.” Roberta Combs, president of the Christian Coalition, expressed her dismay at the program: “It’s just a way to get the devil under everyone’s skin. I can see it for whose families have only been here for a generation. But real Americans like me are offended by the idea. This, after we backed all those Right-Wingers and Tea Party candidates. Digital Angel? Pshaw!”

Friday, April 1, 2011

How to Form a Breadline

1930s Redux

How to Form a Breadline

By Bill Britton

The Florida House of Representatives has approved a bill that would establish the deepest and most far-reaching cuts in unemployment benefits in the nation. The measure would reduce the number of weeks the unemployed could collect benefits from the standard 26 weeks to 20. This has workers worried in Florida, where the unemployment rate, while continuing to inch down, is 11.5 percent, considerably higher than the nation’s rate of 8.9 percent.

The bill’s sponsor, Representative Doug Holder, a Sarasota Republican, said creating jobs is pivotal to keeping Floridians off the unemployment rolls: “Florida is positioning itself to be the most business-friendly state in the country. The best way to right a capsized economy is to provide more jobs.”

This year the tax on business owners jumped to $72.10 a year for each employee. How $72.10 is an excessive burden on business, and how putting more people out of their homes is good for the economy are two questions that are beyond me.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Running on Empty

Running on Empty

By Bill Britton

I am one of the 4 percent or so who are atheist. As such, I can look at those in public office with, I hope, a more objective eye than one who looks through the filter of religiosity. What I see, in general, are representatives and senators who wear their religion on their sleeves as if belief makes them more qualified to hold public office. I keep my atheism to myself, unless someone asks me about my church or my faith, in which case I answer, “Atheist,” and leave it at that, although I am amused by the various degrees of shock registered on the face of the questioner. I never proselytize, unlike certain fundamentalist types. I believe that religion, or its lack, is a private affair and should be so for members of Congress, who, in effect, proselytize with each faith-based declaration. This country’s founders ran from state religions; now it is running toward them. How sad.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Letter to a Libertarian Friend

The Wag Crew

Letter to a Libertarian Friend

By Bill Britton
Sorry I didn’t get back sooner, but I was busy working on a funding proposal for a company involved in financing “new energy” projects and the like—in other words, another aspect of the “liberal” agenda but with capitalist overtones. I will continue the rest of my remarks by sketching out a long-winded definition of my accused liberal persona (your label), which in another era might better be called, “moderate.”

Like you, I believe that government is too large. Most governmental departments have become bloated characterizations of themselves. As an example, we now have a Department of Homeland [a “Third Reich-ish” word] Security, a Defense Department, a CIA, an FBI, an NSC, etc., all of which have cross duties that are rarely coordinated.

In the Defense Department, we have both Naval and Marine fighter air wings, both of which do the same work. We have Army and Marine artillery batteries that do the same work. We have hanger after hanger on Air Force bases that replicate each other with the latest in high-tech test gear. We send all our troops into battle wearing socks made in China and with air cover provided by billion-dollar aircraft. Yet, we fail to properly care for the maimed or for veterans in general (or for their widows). In essence, we have a military designed to fight a now-defunct Soviet Union, despite claims to the contrary.

We’ve spent billions in Korea and fought to a stand-off, billions on an imaginary missile gap, billions in Vietnam and lost the war, covered ourselves with “glory” in Grenada, and have been spending billions on two wars in Iraq and one in Afghanistan with little prospect of “winning” either. Our other interventions are countless. Presidents and Congresses have played increasingly loose and fast with military lives lately because the enlisted ranks now come from the bottom rung of the socioeconomic ladder, not from the broad spectrum of American society. Yet, the Pentagon budget is untouchable by either political party, but especially by conservatives.

Of course, you could go through every government department, program, or agency and find duplication and waste, to say nothing of subsidies—three stand out: (1) billions for the oil industry to offset the “risk” of dry wells, which are rare with today’s geo technology, (2) billions for corn-based ethanol production, which will never make economic sense because of the energy costs associated with a 2-step process, and (3) billions for the coal industry. Curiously, the recipients of these examples of governmental largess tend to be conservative, small-government types and, in the case of the Koch brothers, libertarian and Tea Party supporters.

I suspect that Iraq will eventually revert to a polity it is most comfortable with: a quasi-military strong man and his cadre of sycophants, that is, if it does not fragment into three or more tribal fiefdoms that only vaguely resemble the definition of “nation.” The question is whether we finally have the wisdom to recognize that many of the so-called nations around the world were constructed according to the whims of imperialism, not by more rational designs based on ethnicity or commonality.

It is time for the Mideast to sort itself out, free from Western interference. The chips might fall hard here and there, but given an America that is falling apart structurally, socially, morally, and economically, it is time for America and its leaders to address our own people’s needs and not those of corrupt and thankless foreign regimes.

What to do about the two entitlement programs Medicare and Social Security? Both programs were instituted when the U.S. population was much younger and when medicine’s share of the household budget was much lower. Medicare is an end-of-life problem—that is, we as a people have lost touch with the fact that we do, indeed, die. We, and the medical profession, know no bounds when it comes to preserving life—quality of life rarely is part of the discussion. But somehow there must be a line drawn between the Hippocratic Oath and the reality of death. Otherwise, our ageing population will bankrupt the nation.

The Social Security dilemma was engineered by the very same folks who want to obliterate it: our representatives in Washington. The trillion-plus dollars in the SS “Trust Fund” have been ravaged over the years to pay for current expenses, which is, ironically, what home-equity loans have been used for by homeowners. I’m sure Washington will cobble together non-solutions to both problems. Meanwhile, the migration of politicos to K-Street will continue unabated.

The Easter Island metaphor is not without merit if you look at it as an example of what happens when a set of finite resources—in this example, wood and topsoil—are exploited in extremis by a population that exceeds the carrying capacity of its “world.” Our present population of some 7 billion will reach 9+ billion by 2050 or so, according to the U.N. Close to 1 billion suffer from hunger today. That number will likely double by 2050. The Green Revolution is over, and farm productivity is in decline, largely due to topsoil loss and the rising costs of the two basic soil supplements: nitrates and potash. Nitrates are derived mostly from natural gas, a finite resource; potash is mined, and once mined, it is not recoverable and is thus finite. Freshwater aquifers and surface waters are being depleted at an unsustainable rate. There are no technology “fixes” on the horizon that might mitigate this combination of dilemmas.

Free markets are fine in theory, but the two primary beneficiaries are your “monopolists and the oligarchs.” To claim otherwise is naive. The financial market has been taken over by money manipulators who add little value to the physical world in their machinations. Creative methods of finance are, I agree, essential tools for a healthy economy and for enhancing the common good, but when oversight breaks down—i.e., regulatory protections—the entire economic framework suffers; yet the whizzes at Goldman et al. continue on their merry way to becoming the New American Aristocracy.

But I’m afraid that free markets are a one-way street when it comes to our Chinese cousins who will continue to park their Yuan here as long as it benefits them. To the Chinese, free markets mean the ability to steal copyrights, patents, and intellectual property at their pleasure, while simultaneously deriding us if we place a penny tariff on a Chinese-subsidized import. It was the same with Xerox, for example, and the Japanese. Our government, in the name of free markets (and the result of a trumped-up anti-trust suit), forced Xerox to share vital technologies with the Japanese. Within four years, Xerox lost 80%+ of its copier business to the Japanese.

Most of the regulatory agencies in the U.S. are "captured" by the industries they regulate—that is, agency appointments are former industry leaders who are, in effect, in bed with their former employers. The end result is that regulations are compromised by the drive toward greater profitability on the part of vested interests. Nowhere is this truer than in the Department of Energy’s regulatory agencies. Human and environmental interests end up as secondary concerns. When it comes to offshore oil drilling (and now, nuclear power plants), there should be built-in redundancies that provide extreme levels of safety.

The debate over climate change has been going on, it seems, ad nauseum. But the debate should be about that most-critical of finite natural resources, fossil fuels. We have reached, or will shortly reach, “peak oil.” Yes, the industry continues to find new oilfields but they tend to be found in less-accessible, more-costly places. The U.S. has 300 to 500 years of coal reserves, the largest in the world, but again, the “easy” coal is almost gone, with the exception of West Virginia, which is being leveled as I write.

Natural gas is plentiful at the moment, but none of these fossil fuels are being replenished by natural processes, despite what some fundamentalists claim. (Of course, uranium is a natural resource, but the future of nuclear energy is sketchy, given the situation in Japan.) My point is this: The world must make the transition to non-fossil-fuel energy generation simply because the world will eventually run out of all carbon-based fuels. If in fact anthropomorphic-induced climate change is real, then both challenges—fossil-fuel resource depletion and climate change—will then have been addressed by this transition.

My worldview has been on a different arc from yours: I began life as an optimist, and, well, here I am today, a grumpy old guy, but with good friends and two dogs who cheer me with their smiles and tails (the dogs, that is) regularly.

"Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."

The damaged No 1, 3, and 4 reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Japan.
Photograph: DigitalGlobe/AP

Regarding the nuclear disaster in Japan, the atomic genii is out of the bottle and all the test-ban treaties and all the reviews of nuclear plant integrity in the world will not put it back in. The terms "safety standards," "back-up systems," "redundancy," and "safe levels" mean little under the bright light of nuclear fission. Those words are merely oxymoronic, or more accurately, moronic.

Remember J. Robert Oppenheimer's words from the Bhagavad Gita, "Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Glenn Beck is Certified a “Looney”

Beck undergoing "scream" therapy

Glenn Beck is Certified a “Looney”

By Bill Britton

Special to INS — The American Psychiatric Association (APA) announced that it has created a new category of mental illness, “Looney,” to describe the unique mental state of Glenn Beck.

An abstract from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) states that “The Looney is typically characterized as being a combination of Messianic, Napoleonic, and Occult personalities with overtones of martyrdom and a tendency toward self-flagellation and self-pleasuring. . . . There is no known cure, although isolation and streaming videos of MSNBC’s Chris Matthews might ease the symptoms.”

APA President Carol A. Bernstein, MD, said that the inspiration for this new category came from association member Seekim Odbalim, MD, who has been observing media, sports, and entertainment figures for the past forty years: “I have had no problem classifying a Lady Gaga, a John McEnroe, or even a Rush Limbaugh, but Beck did not fit into a neat slot like these examples of nut cases. Put simply, Glenn Beck occupies a special place in the nut world because his symptoms overlap a wide range of clinical disorders, and thus the name ‘Looney’.”

Fox News President Roger Ailes summed up his company’s reaction to the APA announcement: “Why do you think we hired him?”

Although pressure has been building to categorized Congresswoman Michele Bachmann as a Looney, Odbalim said, “We must maintain the distinction among certifiable Loonies, Idiots, and the Dim-Witted. After consulting with several colleagues, I felt that Bachmann belongs in the latter category. After all, she cannot remember her third-grade history, although I understand that she can now tell the difference between the Civil and Revolutionary Wars. That old saying, ‘The eyes are windows on the soul,’ certainly applies to her. If you’ll notice, there’s nothing in there.”

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Exclusive: Dozen Tea Party Members Fall from Sky

Bachmann during recent Fox News interview

Exclusive: Dozen Tea Party Members Fall from Sky

By Bill Britton

Special to INS — Today on Fox News, the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition explained the reasons behind the sight of a dozen of its members falling from the sky near Roswell, New Mexico. Spokesman Christian Wright said, “It had nothing to do with an alien attack, although Roswell has suffered from them over the years. We believe it was a practice run for the Rapture that is about to take place during the End Times. I guess those poor souls just weren’t born again like me and my son Farr.”

Roswell Police Chief Selden Wronk disagreed with Wright and said that autopsies revealed that most of the deceased had only half a brain. “I believe this indicates the work of aliens,” said Wronk. “Their brains were sucked out by those little green men that run rampant around here.” In contrast, House leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said that the new Tea Party members in Congress “always seemed to be a little light upstairs—just like me—not quite a full cup of tea, so to speak.”

Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann (R-MN), a Tea Party activist and much admired by the Minnesota Militia, blamed the human “fallout” on a Democratic Party attempt to weaken the Tea Party movement. Sporting a brown shirt with lightning bolt monograms above each breast, Bachmann goose-stepped her way to the podium at a rally in Minneapolis and screeched, “The Founding Fathers knew about the dangers presented by Democrats like Thomas Madison and James Jefferson.”

When told that she had mixed up their names and that they were two of the Founding Fathers, Bachmann replied, “That’s not the way it is in the history book I’m writing. Just ask Sarah. By the way, can anyone recommend an ophthalmologist? My eyes seem to wander.”

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Dear Dr. Jones

This comment was written in response to a real doctor’s letter circulating on the Internet. It has appeared in various forms, but the gist of the letter has been verified by snopes.com. In the doctor’s words, “I contend that our nation's ‘health care crisis’ . . . is the result of a ‘crisis of culture’, a culture in which it is perfectly acceptable to spend money on luxuries and vices while refusing to take care of one's self or, heaven forbid, purchase health insurance [and] based in the irresponsible credo that ‘I can do whatever I want to because someone else will always take care of me’. Once you fix this ‘culture crisis’ that rewards irresponsibility and dependency, you'll be amazed at how quickly our nation's health care difficulties will disappear.”


Dear Dr. Jones:

During the past thirty years, I have had the pleasure of becoming a grandfather a dozen times. Samantha was the eighth and was a delight from the moment she uttered her first cry at the indignity of being exposed to the assessing eyes of her mom and dad and the delivery room doctors and staff. As responsible parents, my son and his wife acquired healthcare coverage to offset the costs of any medical needs that might arise for them and their two children.

At age 6, Samantha developed a malignant brain tumor (anaplastic astrocytoma). Her parents were aware that not all of Samantha’s needs would be covered by their policy, but they were not prepared for the shock of receiving bills totaling about $240,000 in unreimbursed expenses, this despite her being a patient at St. Jude Children’s Hospital for eight weeks where virtually all her expenses were paid in full.

Thirteen months later, Samantha died. Over this period, my son’s family income was cut to less than half, a result of a tanking economy (he is a carpenter) and the fact that my son spent so much time in repeated visits to doctors and hospitals for treatment of seizures and all those other semi-emergencies that accompany a terminal illness like brain cancer.

In their case, there was no “crisis of culture” that rewarded irresponsibility and dependency. Few dollars were spent by my son and daughter-in-law on luxuries and vices (save an occasional jug of cheap wine) while refusing to take care of their family. However, a crisis of culture does exist when a society fails to provide a safety net for family members struck down by a medical disaster, which, I’m sure you’d agree, is a fair definition of an affliction like anaplastic astrocytoma.

Yes, there are people in America who could be called irresponsible in anyone’s eyes. However, there are many more like my son who make yeoman efforts to preserve and protect their families. These include the tens of millions in the lower economic brackets who must make the choice between bread on the table and top-drawer healthcare coverage. Unfortunately, it all comes down to assigning top priority to the most immediate need.

Your letter implies that “irresponsibility” is the rule for those without healthcare coverage. I suggest it is society that is irresponsible for not providing a way to at least subsidize basic preventive care and to provide a safety net for those who are victims of chance and circumstances not of their own making. And as middle and lower incomes continue to stagnate (while wealth becomes further concentrated at the top), the disparity between those who can and cannot afford basic coverage will only grow.


Bill Britton

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Walmart to Offer Funeral Home Services

Walmart to Offer Funeral Home Services

By Bill Britton

Special to INS — Beginning next week, Walmart will offer funeral home services at 225 of its Supercenters. The Walmart slogan, “Save money. Live better,” will be altered at these locations to “Save money. Die stiffer.” Its motto “Always Low Prices” will be changed to “Eternally Low Prices.”

The locations of Walmart funeral outlets are scattered around the country, with concentrations in Florida and Arizona. Already, caravans of motor homes can be seen in Walmart parking lots to take advantage of Black-Light Specials featuring in-store packages starting at $500 for cremation at a municipal incinerator.

The Martha Stewart Infinity Series of services begins at $1,999 and ranges up to $14,999, depending on the options selected. These include facial reconstructions like YouthFace4You at $899, the Dolly Parton at $999, and the Private Presley at $1,999, among others. Clients can also be cryogenically preserved or have a life-size replica of themselves made at Madame Tussauds locations around the world, all at reduced prices.

Funeral sales desks will be found adjacent to the garden center area, where tie-in purchases of flowers and plants can be made. Viewing chapels will have a rotating altar with Christian, Jewish, and Buddhist themes. A Muslim theme might be added, depending on demand from the Mideast.

Scott Price, President and CEO, Walmart Asia, has negotiated with the Hongtai Casket Company of Nanjing, China to fabricate a line of jumbo caskets to accommodate its broad customer base. Price explained, “These will have ten lifting handles instead of the normal six, although it looks like ten will soon be the new normal in America. Of course they’ll be wider and have twin steel I-beams built into the bottom.”

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Utah Man Bowled Over by Reception

Utah Man Bowled Over by Reception

By Bill Britton

Special to INS — Eighty-seven-year-old Dummer Bergsteiger, a resident of La Sal, a tiny town in the mountains of southeast Utah, was surprised to find that “super bowl” referred to the football spectacular of that name: “I thought it meant that oversize toilet I saw in aisle 11 at The Home Depot. I been eyein’ that beauty ever since Gertrude dropped the hint about her up-and-comin’ birthday next week. It would frame her big butt just fine.”

It seems that Bergsteiger had only limited TV reception—Judge Judy on the hour and Sponge Bob on the half hour, with the exception of Sundays when the San Diego Curling League competition is broadcast continuously. Concerned that Bergsteiger might be too isolated from the world; parishioners at the Heilige Rolle Lutheran Church began a fund drive to buy a 40-foot antenna mast for him.

One effort to raise funds was nearly washed out by torrential rains: a paper-airplane distance contest. The winner, Fol Ding Lot, a second-year origami major at Moab Education Center, used waxed paper instead of copy paper to capture first-prize honors. The exchange student from Osaka, Japan credited his victory to experience: “I’m a fifth-generation origamist, so I guess I had a leg up on the competition.” After one month’s effort, the church community reached its goal of $400.

Asked if he was pleased with his enhanced TV reception, Bergsteiger replied, “Oh, it’s great. But I just don’t get that American Idol program. What’s with these people who can’t sing? And that Gretta van Susteren on Fox News--she looks like a manikin in Sears. I think I’ll stick with Sponge Bob and beach volleyball. That’s better than watching curling.”

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Good luck, America

Good luck, America

By Bill Britton

As reported, Sarah Palin’s PAC had a number of candidates under crosshair images before the fall election. It is this type of irresponsible and inflammatory politicizing that can push some over the edge. Sure, it’s freedom of speech, but that rings hollow when seven people are gunned down. What cannot be denied is the link between inflammatory statements in general and the climate of anger that is running rampant in this country. Palin’s PAC website serves as a potent example.

Some claim that all segments of the political spectrum make inflammatory statements, but that is only partly true. The political Right has elevated it to an art form, which can be heard on talk radio and on Fox News daily. When travelling, I scan radio stations out of curiosity. The one major exception to inflammatory language is NPR, which can be left-leaning but there is no spewing of vitriol as is found on the Right. I don’t believe that anyone on the Left can hold a candle to the statements issued by a Palin, a Bachmann, or an Engle, which have been seen to spill over into their followers’ rally signs. And to equate Olbermann with Limbaugh, for example, is ridiculous. Olbermann can be both caustic and sarcastic, but Limbaugh is malicious to the core.

Some might read into this that I am in favor of censorship. But any “policing of words” should be undertaken by the politicos and their talking heads themselves by exercising self-restraint. There is nothing weak about a public discourse grounded in civility. But to use guns as a metaphor for political action can provide negative reinforcement to a troubled mind and is a total distortion of the Second Amendment.

I spent 4 years in the Marines. The assumption on the part of people I don’t know is that I am a Right-winger. Two examples: When I moved to Florida, a neighbor who saw the Marine decal on my car began sending me links to what were blatant, hateful lies about Democrats. Another time, while at the gun range, a fellow shooter looked at my Marine cap and said, “I bet you’d rather be shooting at a silhouette of Obama.” My responses were sharp, but given their assumptions, were justified.

I think about anger in America and try to explore its roots, and at the end of the day, it all comes down to personal economics—the alienation of the 17% who are unemployed or have given up looking. They provide the tinder for angry public discourse. The gap between the common good and the corporate conscience grows wider each day. In other words, corporate profits trump “what is good for America.” Many major U.S. corporations now have workforces dominated by foreigners. Whose interests do they serve? And as we have seen, Wall Street churns money for the benefit of the few and the despair of many.

A corporate oligarchy now rules America and has no interest in bettering the plight of the disappearing line worker or the small business owner. I suspect that the new Tea Party members in Congress will be gobbled up by the system and will have only a marginal impact on the juggernaut of special interests that, in actuality, run this country and, incidentally, are running it into the ground.

Government and business should be addressing a number of major issues in this country, e.g.: (1) infrastructure, e.g., roads and bridges, railroads, the electrical grid; (2) structural unemployment, i.e., retraining of the workforce to replace jobs that are never coming back; (3) basics in education (including much-diminished humanities curricula); (4) and admit that democracy isn’t for everyone and let foreign belligerents fight their own battles (and in tandem, reduce military expenditures substantially). I see only token progress, if at all, on any of these issues. Good luck, America.

Monday, January 3, 2011

China Running Out of Oxygen

China Running Out of Oxygen

By Bill Britton

Special to INS — Premier Wen Jiabao of China, in a nationally televised address, called on his countrymen to consume less oxygen: “We are facing a critical point in the Peoples’ Revolution,” said Jiabao. “For us to continue on the shining path toward world domination, we must rein in the consumption of this vital resource. Our smelting plants have seen their efficiency decline by 15 percent because of a corresponding drop in atmospheric oxygen, which now stands at 18 percent, not the normal 21 percent.”

To restore atmospheric oxygen to its pre-revolutionary level, several major reforms will be put in place. Ordinary citizens will be allowed ten breaths per minute, instead of the normal fifteen. Exceptions will be made for athletes, speakers at political rallies, and those engaged in sexual activity. Cigarette consumption will be reduced to four packs per day per person, down from the normal six. Nicotine content in the popular brand, Zhong Nan Hai, will be doubled to calm frazzled nerves as a result of reduced puffing.

China’s EPA chief, Chou Em Doun, claims that the problem began during the Ming Dynasty, when the Great Wall was completed: “The wall much too high and brocks flesh air from Manchuria and Siberia. It should be air-rifted to Beijing and turned into theme park.” When the interviewer raised the possibility that China’s huge number of coal-burning power plants might be using up the oxygen, Doun replied, “You been on the pipe too much getting high. Here, have a Hai instead.”

In a related development, McKinsey, the global consulting firm, revealed that China’s move to install giant wind farms for “green” electricity is a ruse. They are in reality fan farms whose purpose is to pull down fresh air from the north.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Breton Sets Date for U.S. Revolution

Breton Sets Date for U.S. Revolution

By Bill Britton

Special to INS — Anarchist Liam Breton of Tampa announced that he has settled on a date to foment rebellion in the lower 48 states. Alaska and Hawaii are not to be included because he only has 8,200 points in his frequent-flyer program. Breton’s inspiration for the rebellion came from his uncanny resemblance to Владимир Ленин (Vladimir Lenin).

In an interview with Wolf Blitzer, Breton said, “I figure April 3 would be good, because that’s the date that Lenin arrived at the Finland Station in Petrograd in 1917. If I take an Amtrak train from Tampa on April second, I’ll be in Penn Station by 7:32 in the evening on the third, just in time to catch an off-Broadway show. Stomp might be good—get me in the mood, you know. I’ve already lined up the Altones, a quartet from my community, Snobis Birdis Terra, to sing the Marseille when I step off the train.”

When pressed by Blitzer to reveal the purpose of the revolution, Breton pulled out a 300-page manifesto, along with his sub-prime mortgage, that he will have copied and laid at the doorways of Goldman Sachs, the stock exchanges, and other financial centers in New York. “If I’m lucky, one of those Wall Street thieves will trip over the damn pile.”

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, at a hastily called news conference in Washington, said that she was aware of the Breton threat: “Breton’s been under surveillance ever since he refused to bend over during a cavity check at Tampa Airport last month, despite the fact that we’ve installed smiley-face tiles in the inspection area. Plus, the TSA gal offered to check his prostate while in there as part of a special offer I put in place recently.”