Archive for September, 2007

More Helpful Hints for Politicians

September 21, 2007

Since the average political candidate has no trouble at all when it comes to losing arguments, the following post might seem to be unnecessary.  Under normal circumstances this would be true.  But, since there are at least a dozen morons running loose under the delusion that they are qualified to be President of the United States, I feel obligated to provide the following information as a public service to these candidates.

1.  When not even your own family (much less the members of your political party) will swallow the twisted reasoning that you use to justify you position on any given topic, you can always resort to the most widely used argument in modern political science: the Reductio ad Hitlorum.

Despite its impressive title, this argument is actually quite easy to introduce into any debate, press conference, position paper, bumper sticker or any other modern media.  All you need do is identify anyone that disagrees with you as a Nazi, a fascist, or even (if Israel happens to be involved) a “Holocaust Denier.”  Since the average American voter’s understanding of history is only slightly better than that of  an albino prairie dog you may rest assured that no one will challenge you on it and, in fact, such a pronouncement will probably get you some free “face time” on the evening news.

2.  Never claim “victory,” to have “won” any debate, or to have “proven” anything.  Make your opponent prove that you have been bested, defeated, etc.

Since the probability that your position makes only slightly better sense than the Sunday comics is rather high, under no circumstances should you claim that it is worth anything other than a footnote in the NYC Yellow Pages.  Always force your opponent to refute your claims.  This will be of immediate benefit to you in that 1) it will make your opponent look like a fool and 2) make you look like a latter-day Aristotle.

3.  Make up anything that you need to quote in support of your position and then attribute that quote to someone that the average voter, by pure random chance, may actually have heard of.

Let’s face it: it is very unlikely that George Washington or Abraham Lincoln ever had anything to say about the Patriot Act or Islamic terrorists.  Such a minor technicality should not stop you from quoting them extensively at every opportunity, particularly when you “discover” that their words sound suspiciously like those in your most recent press release or some other variety of partisan propaganda.

As an additional safety factor, be sure to attribute your quote to someone that is dead (whether from natural causes or after the application of due process of law).  Always remember this: if you made it up, it isn’t plagiarism.

4.  Never make a promise that you intend to keep!  Never!  Ever!

Jimmy Carter was the last President of the United States to keep his only campaign promise, which was “I‘ll never lie to you.”  He kept his word, was elected, and was un-elected at the first opportunity.  Need I say more?

Hsu, Simpson are Favorites in September “Stupidest Thing” Contest

September 18, 2007

With less than two weeks remaining the September “Stupidest Thing” competition is shaping up as a 2-man race.  The candidates are:

Norman Hsu:  After skipping out on a $2 million bail bond, Hsu was the early favorite after being arrested in a Colorado hospital by the FBI on the same day that he was to appear in court for a hearing on whether the $2 million bail should be reduced to $1 million.

 

Hsu is currently under guard at that hospital after a federal magistrate set bond at $5 million.

One might think that Hsu’s stupidity would be hard to top and, normally, that would be the case.  But a strong challenge is being mounted by the second nominee.

O.J. Simpson:  If you were to look up the word “stupidity” in the encyclopedia you would find O.J.’s picture at the top of the page!  Here is a man who:

 

1. Barges into a Las Vegas hotel room with the intent of “recovering” sports memorabilia that he claimed were stolen from him.  With him he brings along 5 other people, two of which were allegedly carrying pistols.

 

2. Was questioned by the Las Vegas police the morning after the incident.

 

3. Made numerous statements to the press in which he denied any involvement in the incident.

 

4. Didn’t leave town when he had the opportunity and was thus arrested on an armed robbery charge.  O.J. is now being held without bail in the Clarke County, Nevada jail.

These two clowns are proof that some people need to be removed from the gene pool!  All Hsu had to do was show up in court and then, even if his bail wasn’t reduced, he could have left town and no one would have been the wiser for months.  Maybe it had something to do with the fact that he would have been ordered to turn over his passport to the court?

As for Simpson, what can I say about him that hasn’t already been said?  He’s lucky that stupidity isn’t a crime because, if it was, he would be so far back in the slammer that he would be playing chess with the Unibomber!

Stay tuned because if anyone beats these two, it will be the greatest comeback since Napoleon escaped from Elba.

How to Write a Really Bad Novel

September 16, 2007

I’ve decided that the time has come to dispel a few myths that, for some reason, have taken a firm hold within the minds of my fellow writers.  Since most of these myths involve the writer’s incorrect assessment of the intellectual capacity of the American book-buying public, once these misconceptions are dispelled the writer will be free to create his or her version of the “Great American Novel.”

So, in the immortal words of W. C. Fields, “Let us take the bull by the tail and face the situation.”

You must never, ever, underestimate the gullibility of the book-buying public.

That should go without saying, but authors invariably buy into the fantasy that the average book-reading Americans are intelligent, sophisticated, and passionate readers. You must get that line of nonsense out of your head right now!

Always remember that the average American reader grew up watching Beverly Hills 90210, is still is a rabid follower of the World Wrestling Federation, and thinks that Spiderman comics are the epitome of American literature.

As to their current reading, television, and movie habits, this is the subgroup of Homo sapiens var. doofus that considers Dr. Phil to be the greatest thing in psychology since Sigmund Freud, thinks that the Jerry Springer Show is an excellent example of investigative journalism, believes that the National Enquirer should be required reading in the public schools, and will believe practically any conspiracy theory mentioned on the Art Bell Show. When Dr. Seuss wrote Green Eggs and Ham using only 50 individual words, he did so in anticipation of the dumbing down of the American reading public.

Always, yesterday; today; and tomorrow, in this life and in the life to come, use a plot line that is so incredibly ludicrous that the public will revere it as nothing less than the revealed word of God.

Let’s use The Da Vinci Code as an example.

In this insult to the western literary tradition, the plot revolves around a “secret” history of events that began after the crucifixion of Jesus when Mary Magdalene and Joseph of Arimathea fled Palestine for the Mediterranean Coast of France, where Mary gave birth to Jesus’ daughter. A bunch of Knights Templar got wind of the story, but kept it secret until they passed it on to some organization that resembled a frat house for the intelligentsia. Then an American academic and a really cute French chic figured out what was going on. The lovely couple was then chased around France until they fled to Scotland, where the girl learned that she is a direct descendant of both God and Jesus.

Think you can top that?

A thick, heavy, and practically unreadable book will always outsell a thin, readable book.

If you doubt the wisdom of the above, simply pause to consider the simple fact that 99% of the all-time best selling books are about the same size as the Tokyo Yellow Pages and just as unreadable!

Gone with the Wind?  Margaret Mitchell’s story line (Scarlett was a twit and Rhett was an asshole) could have been presented in 100 pages.  It was the other 500 pages of moronic dialog and verbose descriptions that made this book into a multi-million seller.

Anything by a Russian author falls in this category!  Regardless of its author or subject matter, no book written in Russian has ever been published in less than 700 pages.

You should also make liberal (and frequent) use of words that no one can define, much less understand, in a literary context.  Such words must always include:

·         Post-modern

·         Existentialist

·         Marxist

·         Feminist

            ·         Freudian
Pay someone, anyone, to declare your book “a modern classic” or a “bold first novel.”

What is it that makes an ordinary novel into a classic?  Find some “critic” or “literary editor” to declare your otherwise worthless manuscript as something worth reading.  This is the only sure technique that will raise you from the ranks of nameless hacks to that of at least a temporary literary immortal.

Think of it like this.  Had it not been for the art critics, Jackson Pollack would have been an unemployed housepainter.

Let someone else write the best-seller so you can concentrate on writing the spin-offs.

In support of the above, allow me to briefly recount the book store-centered Theater of the Absurd following the release of The Da Vinci Code.

This book was ignored initially, primarily because it was almost as bad as author Dan Brown’s prior books: Digital Fortress, Angels and Demons, and Deception Point. But once it found its way into the hands of the public, Brown was raking in the cash quicker than Bill Gates. Care to guess what happened next?

Correct! Within 6 months of its release The Da Vinci Code was on display in every bookstore within 25 light years of the solar system and was surrounded by other “knock-off” titles such as The Da Vinci Code Diet, The Da Vinci Code Sudoku Book, the Find the Da Vinci Code in your Family Tree Guide, Shirley MacLain Channels the Da Vinci Code and the ever-popular Abbott and Costello Meet the Da Vinci Code.

When the next incarnation of The Da Vinci Code arrives, lock you family in the garage with a television and a few DVDs so you can be the first in line with a spin-off title. After you sell a few million copies, you family will forgive you for sending them into exile along with your family cat.

Try to find a desperate movie producer that will turn your book into a movie.

If you think that getting an editor’s attention is hard, try getting your movie or television script read. Honestly, your chances of breaking into this market are right up there with the Atlanta Falcons winning the Super Bowl. But, every so often, these guys will find themselves without a script and in deep caca with their investors. This is the time to strike!

First of all, find the absolute worst story and its most error-ridden draft copy that you have. If you don’t have one lying around, steal some homework from your kids. Trust me, given the quality of movies lately no one will be able to tell the difference between a real script and little Johnny’s letter to Santa Claus.

If that fails, try to get the contract to convert some desperate movie producer’s atrociously bad script into an atrociously bad paperback.

Given the rate at which Hollywood is churning out bad movies, this is probably the most productive technique mentioned so far. Why? Think about it like this. Anyone that paid to see such a stinker of a film is automatically dumb enough to buy the paperback version! If you add in the usual cast of relatives, children, ex-spouses, and the neighborhood cat, you can see how this can be worked to your advantage.

You can never go wrong with a good conspiracy theory.

As I’ve mentioned in several other posts, the American public loves a good conspiracy. Hell, the American public loves a bad conspiracy theory! Remember, this is America! 45% of the population thinks that men walking on the moon was faked but that professional wrestling is real!

Try something along the line of the CIA and the Mafia teaming up to bump off the President (sorry, that one’s already taken). Well, think of it like this: make the CIA the bad guys, thrown in an incompetent president, a love scene or two, and a guest appearance by Leonardo Da Vinci. Do that and I will personally guarantee a million seller.

Always test-market your potential best seller.

This is a step that practically all writers never take, usually because of their fears that someone will “steal their idea” or “pirate their story line.”  Given the previously-mentioned abysmally low quality of the more recent additions to American literature, this should be the least of your concerns.

To test-market your book, all you need do is fire up about 10 copies of your manuscript and then pass them around to your friends, particularly friends that you won’t miss after they have read your magnum opus and left town rather than take the chance that you might ask them to read another of your literary disasters.

Follow the above pearls of wisdom and you Nobel Prize is a mere formality.

Titans of Stupidity: O.J. Simpson

September 14, 2007

As I’ve often said, there is stupidity and then there is stupidity of Biblical proportions.  As an example of the latter I offer, for your consideration, the actions of O.J. Simpson.

Here is a man who, over the past 12 years, has:

  1. Been charged with two counts of murder and, even though there was more evidence against him than there was against Lee Harvey Oswald, beat the charges and walked free.
  2. After losing a civil rights lawsuit brought by the families of his alleged victims declared bankruptcy.
  3. Although he had declared himself bankrupt, traveled all over the country to play golf and generally enjoy life.
  4. Wrote a book about the above-mentioned murder entitled If I Did It. The book was withdrawn after it caused a storm of public outrage.
  5. Allegedly stormed into a Las Vegas hotel room with 4 or 5 other men, two of which were armed with pistols, and removed sports memorabilia items that he claimed were his.

Let us examine the above actions in more detail.

As to item 1, no one has ever explained how blood stains from the two alleged victims was on found on Simpson’s driveway and on his clothes.  Since the crime scene was several miles away it is unlikely that the victims, after receiving multiple stab wounds, walked over to Simpson’s home in order to leave bloodstains and a pair of blood-soaked gloves that the LA Police Department would later use to “frame” him.

In a civil trial Simpson was declared to have “violated the civil rights” of the victims.  After the jury in that case awarded the victims’ families multi-millions of dollars in damages, Simpson declared bankruptcy.

Despite supposedly having no financial assets, Simpson continued to live quite comfortably in both California and in Florida.  Thanks to legal maneuvering and sidesteps, Simpson’s property was protected from seizure related to the damages previously awarded in the civil rights case.

In a move that was probably due to an over-inflated ego and colossal stupidity, Simpson wrote a book entitled If I Did It in which he provided a detailed “hypothetical” account of the above-mentioned murders (including details that were not introduced into evidence during either the murder or the civil rights trials). 

Even though the book’s publisher withdrew it from the market after a tsunami of public outrage, the victim’s families had the book reissued under a new title: I Did It.  Simpson will not share in the royalties generated by the book.

And now let us review the grand finale.

Simpson, and four or five others, allegedly forced their way into a Las Vegas, NV hotel room to recover items that Simpson claimed were his personal property. Since (again according to news reports) two of these men were brandishing pistols, a minor dispute over property mushroomed into a potential armed robbery felony rap.

And finally, Simpson’s alleged foray into armed robbery had the misfortune to occur on what had been a slow news day for both the Fox News Channel as well as CNN.  The resulting news coverage, in contrast to the jury at Simpson’s murder trial, took less than an hour to find Simpson guilty of stupidity with criminal intent.

If stupidity was a capital offense O.J. Simpson would have been drawn and quartered years ago.

Money, Politics, and Stupidity

September 12, 2007

It is an indisputable fact that any act of stupidity will lead to consequences that are of greater than the original stupidity.  The potential consequences of dealing with stupid people are demonstrated in the following news item distributed by the Associated Press on September 10, 2007.

Washington (AP) – Sen. Hillary Clinton’s campaign announced that it will be returning $850,000 in campaign contributions raised by Norman Hsu, who is under federal investigation for allegedly violating election laws…

 

The FBI is investigating whether Hsu paid “straw donors” to send contributions to Clinton and other candidates…

 

Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson said that “… In light of recent events … and out of an abundance of caution … an estimated 260 donors will receive refunds totaling approximately $850,000 from the campaign.”

 Let me translate that last paragraph for you.

Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson said that “… Since Norman Hsu was busted as a result of his own stupidity … and since we don’t want any more bad publicity than we already have … we’re going to dump this money back on the people that Hsu used to illegally contribute to the campaign…

 If there is one thing that a politician loves, it’s money.  And if there is one thing that a politician hates, it’s giving up money that they already have.  But, in the above cited case, stupidity has entered the picture.  Let us examine how stupidity and money have influenced the Clinton campaign’s handling of this matter.

First of all, the junior senator from New York seems to have forgotten the scandals attached to the 1996 Presidential Campaign.  If anything, she should have learned to have bogus campaign contributions made in a manner that isn’t so obviously traceable by the news media and the Feds!

Secondly, the manner in which her campaign is dealing with these contributions is an insult to the intelligence of the average voter (not that the intelligence of the average American voter is all that great to begin with). 

Assume the following:

  1. Norman Hsu used 260 individuals to make illegal contributions to the Clinton campaign.
  2. The individuals would have known that what they were doing was illegal.
  3. They did it anyway.
  4. The money these individuals donated wasn’t theirs to begin with, yet it is being returned to them as if it were theirs.
  5. What is to stop these individuals from giving the money right back to the Clinton campaign?

I guess that last one has managed to slip by the media and the Feds.  All in all, this incident just proves what I’ve been saying for years.

Politics requires a constant supply of stupidity for the same reason that a houseplant requires sunlight.

Helpful Hints for Political Candidates

September 11, 2007

Although the 2008 elections are still 14 months away, it is never too early to plan for the unthinkable: that your candidate will be defeated! Since simple mathematics will demonstrate that any election will produce at least one disgruntled loser, it is imperative to plan ahead.  We will now examine tactics that have been used (with varying degrees of success) in past elections by both the winning and losing candidates.

 The (Insert the opposition party here) are Trying to Steal this Election

This strategy is quite easy to implement, even by newcomers to the political arena.  All one need do is gather as many members of the news media (a group not noted for its impartiality or its collective intelligence) as you can find and then announce that your party (the epitome of honesty and the only true “party of the people”) has discovered that your opposition’s party (composed of evil capitalists and / or other such “enemies of truth and freedom”) is plotting to “steal” the upcoming election.

The above allegation can be used to justify the outcome of the election regardless of whether your candidate wins or loses.  If your candidate wins, you can proclaim that democracy, the “will of the people,” or some other intangible force has prevailed by exposing and then defeating the conspiracy that you invented.

The invented “conspiracy” is of even greater utility if your candidate loses the election due to some unexpected or unplanned development such as a drastic underestimation of exactly how big a lie the voting public will believe.  Should this occur, all you have to do is claim that your candidate’s defeat is “proof” of the previously identified conspiracy!

Many political strategists feel that relying on the simple win-lose outcome of your “conspiracy” is too risky and that a more aggressive course of action is necessary.  This can include any or all of the following tactics.

The Exit Poll Two-Step

Exit polls are generally considered to be an accurate reflector of voting trends, provided that they accurately represent the voting population but, since this posting is about everything but accuracy, you are correct in believing that accuracy has no place in partisan political activities.

In the Exit Poll Two-Step strategy, you must post your survey takers outside polling places in areas where your candidate is certain to win.  This will insure that the percentage of voters supporting your candidate will be higher than those voting for your opposition.  After the polls close and the votes are counted you will have two options available:

1.  If your candidate wins the election, you just throw the exit poll results in the nearest trashcan before heading to the victory party.

2.  If your candidate loses the election you should immediately call a press conference where, citing your biased exit poll results, you claim proof of the existence of your previously identified “conspiracy.”

The 40 – 40 – 20 Principle

Practically all political analysts and other such social parasites will tell you that, in any given election, 40% will always vote for the more liberal candidate, 40% will always vote for the conservative candidate, and 20% will vote for the candidate that makes the most sense in his / her position on issues that appeal to the emotions of the undecided voters.  It is the 20% sector that determines the outcome of any given election and you must get to these unaffiliated voters as early as possible.  This is very important because:

1.  Whoever has the support of the non-partisan 20% will win the election.

2. This same group is able to think for themselves and will not easily be swayed by either your candidate’s idiotic statements or those made by the opposition.

3. Therefore, you should spend day after day of your time and truckloads of money pandering to this group.

The Oprah’s Book Club Strategy

This strategy takes a bit longer to implement and is more complex than the other tactics mentioned here, but it has several unique advantages.  To set this strategy in motion you must:

  1. Write a book.  Better yet, have someone write it for you.  This will allow you to spend more time pandering to the special interest groups that will bankroll your campaign.
  2. Hire a literary agent to convince Oprah Winfrey that she needs to feature your book on Oprah’s Book Club.
  3. Since getting on Oprah’s book list is a guarantee that you will sell millions of copies, you will rake in millions of dollars in royalties that are exempt from the restrictions of the campaign finance laws.
  4. Should you lose the election, go on Oprah’s television show and whine about how the election was stolen.

The Big Lie (the Cynthia McKinney Move)

No one is exactly sure when the Big Lie tactic was first used, but it should always be kept in mind by every candidate and every political party.  This tactic is also the easiest to implement, even if your candidate is a functional illiterate.  An example will serve to demonstrate this tactic.

Say you are a candidate that is so far behind in the polls that moving into single digit territory would be a major improvement.  You should immediately tell the most outrageous lie that you can come up with, such as:

“George Bush knew about the 9-11 attacks but did nothing to stop them so he could invade Iraq and team up with Israel to oppress women and children and steal all the oil for Dick Cheney and Big Oil.”

The above mentioned tactic will invariably meet with at least some degree of success simply because the average American voter will accept as the gospel truth anything that he or she sees on television.

In other words, the future of the Republic may lie in the voting habits of the MTV generation.

Scary thought isn’t it?

How to Write Bad Science Fiction

September 10, 2007

An article on how to write bad science fiction may seem to be at odds with the average writer’s ambition to write a science fiction novel that sells a few million copies before being adapted as a screenplay until you pause to consider that there hasn’t been a decent work of science fiction since the original screenplay for Planet of the Apes! In fact, everything since that time, be it book, short story, play, screenplay, laundry list, or ransom note has been atrociously written but yet billed as “a literary triumph” or some other statement that would result in a prison term if said under oath or in front of a Grand Jury.

Obviously, if you want science fiction that sells you want to write bad science fiction (since that’s what’s selling). To assist you with your slide into literary oblivion, I offer the following suggestions.

1. Forget the plot! Use a beginning and an ending scene that wraps itself around some of the worst writing this side of the Dyslexia Clinic.

Face it, were James Joyce alive today he would be hailed as the greatest thing in science fiction since H. G. Wells (even after Tom Cruise, and his abysmal lack of talent ruined War of the Worlds)! And why would Joyce be such a hot item?

Have you ever tried to read Joyce while you’re sober? The guy’s dialog sounds like something that didn’t make it into the bar scene in Star Wars. At least he came up with the word “Quark.” Other than that he’s a lot like the science fiction writer of today: practically unreadable and very forgettable!

2. Once you’ve disguised your plot as something akin to a monologue at an AA meeting, make sure that anything resembling continuity is erased AND deleted.

This is another area that many writers overlook. The dominate theme in today’s science fiction is post-modernism. And what, you may ask, is post-modernism? When you find out what it is, you should 1) immediately write a long, boning science fiction novel that explains post-modernism and then 2) collect your Nobel Prize in Literature before killing yourself because 3) dead writers invariably sell better than living ones.

3. Make your characters into someone that the typical movie-goer will identify with.

Since the average American movie patron has a problem reading anything except “The End,” this will be easier than you think once you use the following character profiles.

1) Teenage Male Lead: Caucasian male with the overall intellectual capability of a hamster who suddenly uses a plan that he devises (using both quantum physics and nuclear engineering) to destroy whatever you chose to threaten to destroy the Earth.

2) Teenage Female Lead: Caucasian female with a brain size just above that found in the above-mentioned bipedal and quadripedal mammals whose main contribution to the plot can be summed up in three words: “thirty-eight C.”

3) Evil Scientist: Middle-aged or slightly older Caucasian male who is employed by some thinly-disguised caricature of “Big Business” or “Big Oil (except for ConocoPhillips, which has been nationalized by Hugo Chavez to pay for his “war” against other Big Oil companies and should thus be exempt from negative portrayals).

4) The Monster: This is a generic term used to identify the creation of #3, above. The “Monster” should be cast into what was once called an “antihero” role, meaning that the character itself does bad things but does them because it was abused, neglected, or had bad genetics to begin with.

4. Write your science fiction novel using lots of scenes full of gratuitous sex and violence.

This, of course, should probably have been the #1 piece of advice but you would be surprised by the number of writers that think idealism can produce a plot that sells.

5. Plagiarize, but not blatantly.

Do not, under any circumstances, steal a bad idea or an even worse character from someone else. This will be immediately obvious and will result in a lawsuit in which you will lose everything of value in your possession and generate huge amounts of free publicity for the clown you stole from. In order to avoid such complications, make use of the following technique.

Instead of “Godzilla,” create a character called “Goatzilla;” a 200-foot tall goat with radioactive breath who buries Brooklyn under 12 feet of goat droppings after eating the Cross Bronx Expressway.

Obviously, the possibilities are endless.

And perhaps the most important technique when marketing your master work: sell it in either Japan (a country with a long history of science fiction monsters that trash Tokyo) or California (a country wanna-be with a long history of trashing the American intellect).

Norman Hsu Emerges as Early Leader in September Stupidity Competition

September 9, 2007

Despite earlier hopes that the competition for the September finalist spot in the “Stupidest Thing of the Year Competition” would produce yet another group that represented a true cross-section of societal stupidity, it looks like the competition will have a hard time beating the early front-runner.

When we last saw Norman Hsu, who was featured in a previous post, he had turned himself in to California authorities after some 15 years on the lam to avoid sentencing in a fraud case (to which he had pled guilty).  Hsu, who posted bail in the amount of $2 million, was scheduled to appear in court on the morning of Wednesday, September 5th for a hearing on whether to reduce the bail to a paltry $1 million and to surrender his passport.  Remember the “surrender his passport” part because we will return to it soon.

When it was time for Hsu to appear in court that morning the only people sitting at the defense table were Hsu lawyers.  Hsu’s absence did not please the presiding judge who promptly ordered that:

  1. Hsu’s $2 million dollar bail be forfeited immediately
  2. A bench warrant be issued for Hsu’s arrest

The whereabouts of Norman Hsu remained a mystery for less than 48 hours when Hsu was found to be a patient in a Grand Junction, CO hospital after becoming ill on a passenger railroad train that was itself en route from California to Chicago, IL.  Hsu was arrested by FBI agents on a charge of interstate flight to avoid prosecution and will be returned to California upon his release from the hospital.

The reasoning that led Norman Hsu, the mastermind behind a multi-million dollar investment scam (he pled guilty to one felony count), to flee California on the very day that he was due in court remains a mystery at this time.  An even bigger mystery is why Hsu’s passport wasn’t confiscated before he was released on bail.

Here is a man (Hsu) who had been on the run for 15 years, who had amassed substantial financial assets during that time; who had raised substantial amounts of money for big-name Democratic politicians by dodging the campaign finance laws; who has built a record as a blatant scofflaw, and the presiding judge didn’t order that Hsu surrender his passport as a condition of being released on bail!

I don’t know which of the two was stupider: Hsu or the judge.  Both men are now strong contenders in this month’s “Stupidest Thing of the Year.”

Why I Smoke

September 7, 2007

Should you have the expensive misfortune that would cause you to visit any medical practitioner; you will be asked the one question that has become the mantra of the sons and daughters of Hippocrates.

“Do you smoke?”

Should you give an affirmative answer to the above question, prepare yourself to be demoted from “patient” to a social statues lying somewhere between child molester and used car salesman.

Like everyone else, I have heard all the reasons and been given all the facts that should have caused me to stop using tobacco long ago. But, as you might have guessed, I haven’t stopped. Please allow me to explain why I continue to smoke.

At the time of my heart attack, I smoked because I was still married and cigarettes were a decisive factor in allowing me to avoid hearing words such as “defendant,” “your honor,” “aggravated assault,” or “bail denied.” I don’t care what the politically correct whiners have to say. I am firmly convinced that stopping to have a cigarette while arguing with your future ex-husband, ex-wife, ex-primate or ex-anything else has saved many more lives than cigarettes have taken.

Perhaps the greatest factor that causes me to continue to smoke is that I like it. Not only do I like to smoke I also happen to NOT like withdrawal symptoms. If you want to see an example of what Ivan the Terrible may have been like on a bad hair day, take away my cigarettes. And then run for cover, because after about two hours of nicotine depravation I am not a pleasant person. This in no way implies that I am pleasant to begin with, but without my cigarettes I could easily become a role model for the Charlie Manson Chapter of the Future Mass Murderers of America.

Another of the many reasons I have to continue smoking is that I feel it is my civic responsibility not only to smoke but to smoke as much as possible. Data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Social Security Administration will allow me to prove my point.

The CDC has estimated that each year of smoking reduces the smoker’s lifetime by 1 year (on average, of course).  Let us assume that there are 30 million current smokers that smoke 1 pack of cigarettes per day, that each smoker has been smoking for an average of 20 years, and that the average tax on a pack of cigarettes over that time span was $1.00.  Since the current pay-out to retirees is $8,500 per year, simple math leads us to the following conclusions:

·         30 million smokers ×1 pack per day × $1.00 per pack taxes × 365 days/yr = $ 10,950,000,000/year (10 billion, 950 million dollars!)

·         × 20 years = $21,900,000,000 (21.9 billion dollars)

 Since the CDC says that the above 30 million smokers will die 5 years sooner than their neurotic non-smoking peers, this leads to:

 ·         30,000,000 × 5 years × $8,500/year = $12,750,000,000 (12.75 billion dollars) in Social Security benefits that smoker’s won’t receive

            ·         Taxes paid by smokers during their lifetime + money that won’t come out of the Social Security Trust                   Fund = $34.65 billion dollars

Let the tree-hugging, caribou-kissing, planet-saving Al Goreshevics try to come up with that kind of money.

The previous paragraphs do not mention the fact that tobacco is vital to the economic health of at least two states, Kentucky and North Carolina, and is a significant contributor to the economies of several others. If tobacco consumption falls, the economies of these two states would collapse to a level currently found in places such as Rwanda. If the current incomes of tobacco farmers, their helpers, and their families were to be replaced by public assistance funds there would not be enough money in state tax revenues to keep these formerly productive citizens above the poverty level. There might be an offsetting gain from the income taxes paid by bankruptcy and divorce attorneys, but not enough to justify wrecking an entire industry.

Another benefit of smoking is that I get an almost never ending stream of people, whom I have named the “Healthy Lifestyle Gestapo,” that come up to me on the street or some other public place to point out that I am “polluting the air” or participating in some other non-statutory “crime” against the “environment.”

What really adds a humorous tone to such accusations is that they are usually made while both the accuser and I are being enveloped a cloud of partially-burned hydrocarbons emanating from the exhaust pipes of a city bus. But since a bus won’t sit there and listen to a sermon from one of these tireless guardians of personal liberty, I get the pleasure of laughing hysterically at the vacant expressions on their faces when I point out that the aforementioned bus is a danger to both out well-beings.

If I really want to confuse them I ask when was the last time they read of a smoker that, while driving the wrong way on the Interstate, causing an accident that killed a carload of innocent people.

Many years ago the great American newspaper columnist H. L. Mencken wrote about the activities of a group of citizens which he called the “uplifters.” To Mencken, the “uplifters” were ceaselessly attempting to save mankind from some dangerous substance (such as alcohol in the case of the Prohibitionists) that could easily be controlled if only the substance in question were to be declared illegal. I can’t read his classic column “The Uplifters Try It Again” without pausing to wonder what Mencken would have thought about our latest attempt to legislate morality via the unofficial jihad against the still legal substance known as tobacco.

Prohibition was a dismal failure because its supporters failed to remember one simple fact about “human nature.” You can’t legislate morality.

There’s Nothing Like the Taste of Homegrown Stupidity

September 6, 2007

As I’ve mentioned several other times one of the advantages to writing humor and satire is that I have an entire planet lined up outside my door waiting to give me material.  But sometimes I have to admit that there’s nothing like the homegrown variety of stupidity.  Allow me to demonstrate what I mean.

Let us first consider the antics of that barrel full of prehensile-tailed primates collectively known as the Mayor and City County Council, of Albuquerque, People’s Banana Republic of New Mexico.

Recently, Mayor Martin “Marty the Moron” Sanchez announced that it was his intention to ask that the City Council close down the municipal golf courses due to a shortfall of some $200,000 in revenues that were projected to be generated by those courses.  This seems a somewhat flimsy excuse in that:

1) The City Council recently voted to spend a few million to decorate city vehicles in order to “stress the rich cultural heritage of the city.”

Whenever the taxpayers’ money is to be spent “stressing the rich cultural heritage” of anything you can bet that it’s actually being spent as a reward to a handful of businesses that were the most financially-supportive of the incumbents.

Coincidentally, the golf courses in question lie within, or adjacent to, voting districts that went against Sanchez in the last city election

2) Marty and a few cronies took of to China for a week to “promote cultural and business ties” with that nation.  The price of Marty and his Band of Merry Men’s little joyride?  Allegedly, only $5,000.

Tried pricing a trip to China for 3 people lately?

3) The City Council, (at the request of Sanchez) recently voted to kill funding for a “reflecting pool” at the launch site of the International Balloon Fiesta, the City of Albuquerque’s premier tourist event.  This year’s visitors will be able to marvel at the wisdom of that decision while staring into a hole in the ground half the size of a football field.

4) This same august body is comprised of the same individuals that recently voted to spend $6 million on a deserted stretch of land that isn’t really near anything to provide a “landing site” for balloons.

I hate to tell the merry pranksters down at city hall this, but hot air balloons aren’t like airplanes.  Airplanes tend to take off and land at well-established locations (like airports).  On the other hand, hot air balloons tend to crash-land at whatever location is nearby when they start to run our pf LP fuel.  The council has yet to announce how they’re going to get around that little problem.

Fortunately for Marty and Friends, they’re only amateurs when compared to the  irresponsibility of Amigo Numero Uno, our Exalted (now part-time), Leader, Governor Bill Richardson.

First of all let me make it clear that I don’t like Bill Richardson.  I have many reasons for that dislike, but allow me to share a few of them.

Bill Richardson wouldn’t know the truth if it walked up and bit him on his rather abundant posterior.

In 2006 Bill campaigned for re-election to office of Governor of New Mexico.  Part of his campaign was his promise that he “wasn’t running for President, just Governor.”  That promise, plus a Republican candidate that was hated by most Republicans, got Billy Boy his second term.

Bill started campaigning for the Democratic Party’s Presidential nomination as soon as his feet left the inaugural platform.

Bill Richardson, despite his “I’ll bring fiscal responsibility to Washington if I’m elected” hoopla, doesn’t have a very good record in that department.

In a front page, copyrighted story in last week’s Albuquerque Sunday Journal Richardson was quoted as saying that it might be necessary to raise the state’s gasoline tax and convert some highways into toll roads because of a 300 million dollar deficit in the Department of Transportation’s road and bridge maintenance budget.  This figure is eerily close to the amount of money that it will take to pay for one of the biggest boondoggles (even by New Mexico standards) in recent history: The Railrunner Express.

The Railrunner is one of the most ridiculous and expensive ideas (even by Richardson’s standards) to be cooked up.  The Railrunner is a “commuter” train that, in theory, will make it easier for people to travel between Albuquerque and points south to Santa Fe.  It is currently projected to incur “infrastructure” costs of “around” 300 million dollars.  I’m sure that is just coincidental.

Bill’s campaign workers don’t have to worry about Bill “shooting himself in the foot” simply because he can’t keep it out of his mouth.

As an example, consider his latest attack of foot in mouth disease consider this statement, reported by The Des Moines Register.

“Iowa, for good reason, for constitutional reasons, for reasons related to the Lord, should be the first caucus and primary (state).”

I’ve tried hard, but I haven’t been able to find anything in the US Constitution that even mentions Iowa, much less assure its citizens that they should have a monopoly on being the first state to decide which candidate made less of a fool of himself than his rivals.

The above statement, which Richardson’s staff was quick to explain as “a joke” (how’s that for truth in politics), got Bill a little more attention than he wanted.

The “left-leaning” Daily Kos blog, which only last week had praised Richardson’s virtues, withdrew its support in no uncertain terms when founder Markos Moulitsas wrote that

“Richardson is is really becoming the buffoon of this campaign…I can’t believe I ever flirted with voting for this guy.  He’s now down in the Kucinich/Gravel territory on my list.”

My life is now complete, for I finally agree with something published on Daily Kos.