Girl Scouts Insult My Intelligence

I’ve been struggling for the past several weeks.  You see, I came up with a better idea for my last post right after publishing it.  The problem is, my “better idea” will be even harder for people to stomach than “Dead Puppies Insult My Intelligence.”  In the interest of artistic freedom and general bad taste, I have decided to publish that other idea now.  If you are capable of being offended, please do not read any further.

Since these girls are no longer girls, I guess the image is safe to use here.  (For copyright information, go here.)

Since these girls are no longer girls, I guess the image is safe to use here. (For copyright information, go here.)

The following is a public service announcement from the writer of this blog.

If you or your loved ones happen to discover the flattened carcass of a girl scout lying on the road, please do not touch, eat, or otherwise disturb it.  God put roadkill on this earth so that the flies and vultures might prosper, for He loves the smallest and ugliest creatures on this earth as much as He adores the cute little girl scout.  The car that squished the girl scout is an instrument of His will.

God Bless Chrysler.

In keeping with the girl scout’s theological purpose, please wait for the county’s professional sanitation workers to properly dispose of her.  It is government’s proper role to serve as God’s right hand and clean up the mess He occasionally makes, no matter the odor you must endure while waiting, no matter how many children start weeping upon seeing the dead girl scout, no matter whether the girl scout would have consented to being part of this spiritually bureaucratic undertaking.

And while you wait, please be so kind as to remove the girl scout’s poo from the sidewalk.  It is unpleasant to look at.

Moral of the story: Most shocking blog posts can be made even more cringe-inducing by replacing the main character with a girl scout.

Dead Puppies Insult My Intelligence

The following is a public service announcement from the writer of this blog.

If you or your loved ones happen to discover the flattened carcass of a puppy lying on the road, please do not touch, eat, or otherwise disturb it.  God put roadkill on this earth so that the flies and vultures might prosper, for He loves the smallest and ugliest creatures on this earth as much as He adores the cute little puppy.  The car that squished the puppy is an instrument of His will.

God Bless Chrysler.

In keeping with the puppy’s theological purpose, please wait for the county’s professional sanitation workers to properly dispose of her.  It is government’s proper role to serve as God’s right hand and clean up the mess He occasionally makes, no matter the odor you must endure while waiting, no matter how many children start weeping upon seeing the dead puppy, no matter whether the puppy would have consented to being part of this spiritually bureaucratic undertaking.

And while you wait, please be so kind as to remove the puppy’s poo from the sidewalk.  It is unpleasant to look at.

No dead puppies to see here.  Please move along.  (Image credit: Adam Gerard)

No dead puppies to see here. Please move along. (Image credit: Adam Gerard)

New Yorker Politics Insult My Intelligence

Throughout Germany, you’ll find a chain of clothing store called “New Yorker.”  It vaguely reminds me of Abercrombie without the sex and expensive merchandise.

On second, thought, maybe it’s not so similar to Abercrombie…

Doesn't that make you want to walk in and spend all your money?  (Photo credit: halleliebe)

Doesn’t that make you want to walk in and spend all your money? (Photo credit: halleliebe)

Once upon a time, someone over there concluded that “New Yorker” would work as a store name, at least from a marketing perspective.  We have brands with “New York” in the name here in the U.S. so it’s not unique to Germany.  However, New York seems to imply coolness over there when you’re talking about superficial things like clothes.

And New York is cool.  Unless you’re a Boston fan…

And then there are the images of New York that foreign countries see and they assume that all Americans live in New York… except for Barack Obama who obviously lives in Washington and a little girl named Dorothy who hails from the mythical land of Kansas.  New York isn’t particularly associated with anything cultural in this view, so you get a blending of stereotypes:

We all live in New York and wear cowboy hats and carry guns and lassos.  Okay, maybe we’re not portrayed with lassos.  The German media doesn’t inform its people THAT poorly.

So let’s have ourselves an information party.

Images emerge from individual parts of our very large country and they usually don’t represent much beyond a segment of that location’s population.  (Hint: most Texans don’t wear cowboy hats.  Most New Yorkers don’t work on Wall street.   Most Americans don’t eat at McDonald’s unless a need arises, or uprises in the case of obnoxious children.)

But I’m tired of griping about stereotypes.

Instead, I’d like to talk about one small-scale case that does reflect on the U.S. as a whole.  Recently in Virginia, one of our country’s most highly ranking congressmen was defeated in an election that was only open to a small geographic area; he even lost to an underfunded member of his own party.

Some call it a problem with the system.  I call it useful, even though I’m not fond of the political movement that ousted him.  Right now we have a large-ish and staunchly anti-government group called the Tea Party.  (To my non-U.S. readers: the Tea Party is not a political party.  They are among the most conservative people in the Republican Party and their name is a reference to the 1774 Boston Tea Party.)

I’m not going to debate whether the Tea Party has screwed things up on various issues because I prefer to remain nonpartisan around here.  However, its ability to influence events points to something positive.  In most countries, such a sizable anti-government movement could threaten political stability.  Instead, our dissenters run for Congress and they can win whether the national party likes it or not.

The reasonable expectation of being able to wield influence and enact change outweighs any disagreements one might have with one’s current political leaders. And, despite claims to the contrary, we are still free to openly disagree.

Blogger’s note: This post was inspired by KleesButterfly’s excellent take on how Germans are misrepresented. I decided to do an American version today because of the upcoming festivities.  (Plus, I usually do European travel photos on Fridays.)  To my U.S. readers: have a most excellent 4th of July.  Don’t forget that the day is about more than flags and fireworks.  Since it’s an election year, take the opportunity to refresh your memory on how the system works around here… and do it before you start guzzling all that beer.

 

General Stupidity Insults My Intelligence

The neighborhood of Screevelton had deteriorated over the past eighty years. Abandoned by the wealthy landowners as the area’s once luxurious condominiums began showing their age, the high rise monstrosities had long since converted to slums.   Violence and drug dealing had grown beyond the police’s ability to maintain any semblance of control and, as a result, no outsider dared to enter the neighborhood. Well, almost no outsiders. Newly homeless people flocked there because they could sleep in peace and quiet at night, for the occasional bullet disturbed them less than the stuck-up folks in other parts of Screevopolis who were always shooing them away.

(Photo credit: Anton Zelenov)

Home is where the heart is punctured.  (Photo credit: Anton Zelenov)

Amid this paradise, for it was paradise to the people who feared clowns more than decaying rat carcasses, stood a wooden statue of General J. Horatio Screevels. General Screevels had founded the city, though no one still remembered that “General” was just a nickname.   After all, people will call you anything if you ask them to. And, once upon a time, General Screevels had been a much beloved leader in the community.

Times had changed. No one knew who he was anymore even though the city was named after him. Seeing that the schools no longer thought George Washington was important enough to teach the children, General Screevels stood no chance at being remembered. Nevertheless, the wealthier citizens worshipped the tradition of having a statue. They kept photographs of the statue on their mantelpieces and they even bought deluxe toilet paper with his picture on it. (Never let it be said that the wealthy are immune to marketing tactics.) In spite of this, no one ever visited the statue except for the rats and an occasional homeless person looking for something to lean on.

And one winter day the statue caught fire. No one knows how or why. The police were too busy to investigate and the fire department couldn’t be bothered. Sans fire department, many of the apartment buildings also succumbed to the blaze.

Hooray for insurance payouts!

Since the statue was so iconic, the city government decided that a replica had to be erected. Ten million dollars were put aside to fund the project, covering everything from imported lumber to gourmet meals (pork, of course) for the landlords. Because so many people owned a photograph of the statue, the city deemed it imperative that the original statue remain in existence.

Unfortunately, no one was willing to enter the neighborhood to rebuild. The lumber has long since rotted but the citizens haven’t stopped demanding the return of their beloved statue.

Negotiations Insult My Intelligence

English: U.S. President is greeted by Speaker ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since I have a lot of non-U.S. readers, I should start by explaining that our government has shut down all so-called “nonessential” functions.  Unfortunately, this doesn’t include the usual bloviating by our elected officials.

Here’s what happened.  One of our major political parties professes a desire to reduce the size of government and a segment of that party has gone radical.  (I believe the segment is supported by over a fifth of voters, so it’s not insignificant.)  They express the desire to prevent Obama’s not-so-popular health care law from going into effect because they believe it represents government overreach.  The health care law wasn’t popular when it passed and Obama and Biden still have to sing its praises because the population as a whole never warmed up to it.  The radicalized politicians are refusing to allow the government to continue spending money until an agreement is reached to void or postpone the health care law.  Because the Republican Party (not Obama’s party) controls the House of Representatives, they have this power as long as the party leadership goes along with it.  On the other hand, Obama is calling this an ideological crusade and claims that they are trying to reverse the voters’ verdict in the last election.

In short, no compromise happened by the mandated funding deadline and the government shut down.  I do not wish to blame either side for this.  Instead, I want to look at how idiotic the concept of negotiations is.  Right now, one side crusades for reducing government spending and eliminating programs.  As long as no political backlash erupts against the Republicans exclusively, we will be living in the radicals’ paradise.  With a government shutdown, these advocates have almost everything they want and more than they could have ever dreamed of getting through the regular legislative process.  Of course the radicals won’t compromise.  Would you give up your paradise for the opportunity to make even more concessions?

It’s also no accident that the Republicans have floated mini spending bills for national parks and other things people are complaining about not having.  If those bills were enacted, the shutdown could continue indefinitely or at least until the next elections.  Since the public isn’t blaming either party for the shutdown, the specter of future elections can’t deter anything.

Politicians are usually morons, but I have to admit that the Republicans have performed a brilliant end run around the legislative process.  Almost every government program the Republicans oppose has died, at least temporarily.  The focus on Obama’s health care plan only disguises this.

Ignorance Insults My Intelligence

Happy 4th of July to all of my U.S. readers!   Let us take this opportunity to celebrate our freedoms and obligations under democracy and capitalism.

English: This is a high-resolution image of th...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Those who remain ignorant of history and current events are easily steamrolled by the empty rhetoric of democratically elected officials.  Holding elected officials to high standards requires you to be well informed.

Those who remain ignorant of businesses’ profit motives are easily steamrolled by empty promises of “valuable” goods and services.  Holding businesses to high standards requires you to be well informed.

“Well informed” includes expanding your horizons beyond MSNBC or Fox News or whatever sources reflect your political biases.