Friday, August 31, 2012

The New 99%

The Washington Post today is reporting the formation of a quasi secret society calling itself The Other 99%.

Made up of the 99% of the 1% who are not quite rich and powerful enough to be comfortably above the law, this society, according to its charter, has tasked itself with joining the elite group of public and private sector wrongdoers for whom the Obama administration’s policy of looking forward and not backward always applies.

Prompting the start-up of this new society, according to sources, was a recent outbreak of rumblings from regulators about the possibility of looking into what legal proceedings perhaps could or could possibly not be pursued against human and corporate persons too close to the back of the Fortune 500 pack for the comfort of those falling anywhere between the One and the .05 Percent.

“That could have been me,” said one hedge fund manager in reference to a Wall Street colleague who recently had to bear the high cost of lawyering up in response to his SEC watchdog’s mistakenly taking seriously all the populist noise President Obama is making in this election year.

“Look,” said one person formerly known as a corporation, “I didn’t go to all the trouble of becoming a One Percenter just so the ghost of Ken Lay could haunt my dreams.”

Added a more traditionally human member of The Other 99%, “It’s a classic Catch-22. All the money you spend on retaining the army of high-end lawyers you need in case a watchdog jumps its leash keeps dropping your net worth below the point where you don’t need lawyers anymore to hold off the watchdogs.”

“Listen,” explained the pointman on the society’s all-star public relations team, “we don’t necessarily need the platinum get out of jail free card you find in the wallets of the Jamie Dimons of the world, or the Condoleezza Rices. We’re big boys. We can take the occasional slap on the wrist if we have to.

“But is it really fair or just that conceivably we could be held as legally accountable for a white or even ivory-collar crime as an original 99 Percenter is for snatching a little old lady’s purse?”

“Plan A,” according to the Other 99 Percent’s chief strategist, “is to negotiate for the same immunity arrangement the war boys have, or maybe the high-end government officials, or, knock wood, whatever unbelievably sweet deal Karl Rove finagled for himself.

“If that doesn’t pan out, we’ll probably just shoot for the diplomatic immunity of the foreign dignitaries.”

“Hell,” said one Other 99 Percenter, “on paper I’m practically Swiss anyway.”

“I’m from the Cayman Islands like Mitt,” said another.

“Actually,” said another, “I’m pretty sure we One Percenters are from a whole different planet. Pluto, I believe it’s called.”

In related news, the US Department of Justice, in response to continued criticism that it is unevenly applying the Obama administration’s policy of looking forward and not backward with regard to Iraq War-related crimes, assured human rights groups today that looking backward at the alleged criminal whistleblowing activity of Private Bradley Manning is actually a matter of looking forward to the day that everybody understands that when now President Obama repeatedly enlisted the services of government whistleblowers during the 2008 presidential campaign, he was of course calling for leaks that would be flattering to the US government in general and to his administration specifically.

DOJ spokesperson Anita Cooper further explained, “Even if we wanted to look backward to revisit the decision to go after Mr. Manning, we can’t really do so now because that is the same direction in which we would likely run into the crimes Mr. Manning allegedly leaked and in so doing helped create the need to keep looking forward for the good of the country. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

American Exceptionalism - What Price?

Shining City Gazette is receiving reports from its foreign desks that a growing number of enterprising, some would say desperate, former members of the American middle to upper-middle class have taken the first steps toward selling off their shares of American Exceptionalism to governments and business concerns abroad.

Reportedly holding up the progress of this sell-off is the complicated process of establishing a fair market price for this rare commodity. As one veteran day trader at the Shanghai Stock Exchange put it, “What price tag do you put on a blank check?”

Said one head of a third world state, “I just hope the price settles on a figure that doesn’t break the national bank again. What good is American Exceptionalism if you don’t have the money left over to buy all the Diebold vote counting machines you need to defy the will of your people without causing a riot? It’s all well and good to get the perpetual green light to start endless preemptive wars and otherwise meddle in the affairs of sovereign states, but if you can’t even pay for all the spooks and boots and doodads it takes to impose your will on the international community what good does impunity do you?”

Noticeably more buoyant despite the likely high price of this newest American export was Khalid Mansour, spokesperson for the consortium of countries formerly known as the Axis of Evil. Said Mr. Mansour, “I can’t tell you how good it feels to be on the brink of finally realizing our nuclear aspirations without the downside of deadly sanctions and/or missile attacks.”

Added Mr. Mansour, “Our engineers are already drawing up blueprints for the sprawling military bases we’re planning to build just outside Quebec, Ciudad Juarez, and perhaps Bethesda. We’re also hoping to establish a Green Zone near Georgetown as a base of operations in our efforts to support the growing theocratic forces taking over America.

“Of course all this costs money,” admitted Mr. Mansour. “So we may have to hold off on plans to build a due process-free zone on an island. For the time being we’ll probably just rent cages at Guantanamo for our dissidents and whistleblowers. On a more positive note, it won’t cost a dime for our industrialists to thumb their noses in the general direction of Kyoto.”

Many conservative economists are hailing this coming boon to the US economy as proof positive that the magic hand of the unfettered free market is at it again. “Hear that?” one Republican member of the House rhetorically asked this Shining City Gazette reporter. “That’s the sound of the magic hand bitch slapping the socialists.”

Not everyone in the neoliberal camp, however, is applauding this newest unleashing of the exceptional American spirit of entrepeneurship. In some quarters it’s even being characterized as unbelievably short-sighted.

Explained University of Chicago adjunct professor of Economics Dr. Frank Hadley, “So you get back on your feet by selling your shares of American Exceptionalism. You reach your American Dream of making a killing, perhaps in derivatives or credit default swaps, or maybe arms sales, but most likely in resource exploitation. One day you get caught crossing a line that used to be exclusively reserved for the non-American suckers of the world.

“You start madly patting your pockets. But guess what? You’re not going to find that American get out of jail free card you’re looking for. You sold it to the competition, and I don’t think he’s interested in selling it back.”

Friday, August 24, 2012

RNC Convention Finale Unveiled

Out of Tampa Bay, Florida today are coming reports that RNC Chairman Reince Priebus is not quite “one hundred percent crazy” about Donald Trump’s recently leaked brainstorm for the grand finale of next week’s Republican National Convention.

While the Celebrity Apprentice star’s self-styled showstopper remains officially a secret, a source inside Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo has told Shining City Gazette that Mr. Trump has put down the sizable deposit on a camel, on which according to this same source and others he plans personally to convey the 2012 Republican ticket to center stage after guiding himself and his two wealthy passengers comfortably through an oversized gold-plated eye of a needle.

“It’s brilliant,” Mr. Trump is said to have said to convention organizers. “Message-wise, it’s a three-fer at least, if not a four or five-fer. You gotta love the pro-business spectacle of these two rich religious fellas joining me in putting the kibosh on about two thousand years worth of religious persecution against the rich man.

“And let me tell you,” Mr. Trump is said to have added, “visually it’s just going to be stunning. Just stunning. The god crowd’s going to eat this thing up.”

One reported source of Mr. Priebus’ qualms about this latest brainchild of Mr. Trump’s is the distortion the message may be open to given that Mr. Trump, as opposed to the Republican presidential candidate or his running mate, will be holding the reins.

One reliable source inside the RNC quoted Mr. Priebus as saying, “I’d really rather not have to listen to the intellectual elites fill the pointy heads of the ninety-nine percenters with a treatise on how a simple camel’s alter ego as a ship of the desert makes it a symbol of the American ship of state with the double reverse twist of its holdover symbolic value as a beast of burden bearing the load of two fat cat politicians playing second and third fiddle to a fatter private sector cat going by the loaded name of Trump.”

At issue too, apparently, is Mr. Trump’s plan to accompany this passing of the camel through the eye of a needle with the song “How Big Am I” from the movie Ishtar. As one RNC Assistant Production Manager explained to this Shining City Gazette reporter, “Not everybody loved Ishtar the way Mr. Trump did.”

A further complication according to a source inside the Romney-Ryan campaign is that Mr. Romney is quite touchy about the subject of camels owing to the Book of Mormon’s awkwardly having placed the animals on the North American continent when they weren’t really there.

“Not to mention,” added this source, “we’ve spent years wrapping a rag tighter and tighter around and around Barack Hussein Obama’s head, do we really want to cap it all off by now piling our guys onto the Arab national vehicle of choice? With all due respect, I’m not sure Mr. Trump is fully aware of how much we’ve got invested in fomenting Islamophobia.”

Reportedly shot down was the suggestion that the RNC take advantage of the tradition in ancient rabbinical writings of conveying the concept of futility by imagining an elephant and not a camel trying to pass through the eye of a needle.

The problem according to sources is that an elephant might not fit through the needle eye already designed by Mr. Trump.

“What kind of message would that send?” commented one RNC event organizer. “Besides, the last I checked this was a convention, not a circus.”

In other RNC Convention news, Shining City Gazette has learned that a last-minute exception is being added to the official Republican platform’s blanket ban on abortion. According to sources, an addendum is being crafted that will lay out the Republican position that abortion should be legal, if not mandatory, in cases of forcible or even consensual rape by a Muslim.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Paul Ryan Alters His Catholicism

In late breaking news, Shining City Gazette has obtained a copy of the lengthy signing statement the then precocious Young Republican Paul Ryan used at his Confirmation ceremony to secure for himself some wiggle room with regard to the Catholic teachings he would later cite to justify policies and personal behaviors running diametrically counter to Catholic teachings.

In a section of the statement subtitled “The Deadly Sins”, the very serious 8th grader declares that he is reserving the right to decide on a case by case basis whether or not he will honor the well known Christian proscriptions against pride, greed, wrath, and envy.

Regarding longstanding Catholic attitudes about the poor, the very serious Mr. Ryan used his vaunted gift with numbers and drew on various scriptural guarantees that the meek, who are almost always poor, would be inheriting the earth to make the solid case that there is no such thing as the poor.

In one footnote in this section of the statement, the serious Mr. Ryan shows early signs of his now signature jocularity and disarming knack for mild ironic self-deprecation when he cites the faux biblical sentiment that God helps those whose rich fathers helped themselves.

“He was such a likable and handsome and serious yet light-hearted kid,” said Father Stephen Umhoefer, a former teacher of Mr. Ryan’s at St. Mary Elementary School in Janesville, Wisconsin. “At that time the bishop and I just couldn’t see the harm in allowing him to modify the First Commandment as it applies to him to read, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me except Ayn Rand.”

Added Father Umhoefer, “Who could have known he would go on to abuse the loophole he created in the Ninth Commandment when he changed it for himself to read, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor unless it serves to advance Republican and/or Christian and/or personal causes?”

Said boyhood friend Tom Taylor, “True to form, Paul put together a signing statement so thorough and airtight that he hasn’t had to go to confession once in all the years since our confirmation. He can literally do no wrong.

“What his enemies keep calling glibness,” added Mr. Taylor, “is actually the demeanor of a man whose conscience is in a position to remain perfectly clear no matter what he does or says.”

Reportedly this demeanor is on full display in a soon-to-be aired interview the serious and likable congressman and Mrs. Ryan recently sat down for with Barbara Walters.

According to sources, when Ms. Walters asks the would-be first lady if she isn’t worried, given the Catholic stance on birth control, that an unexpected pregnancy might complicate her planned all-out campaign to end birth control in America, the likable Congressman Ryan playfully interjects that he and his lovely wife fully expect to continue being the blessed beneficiaries of a frequently recurring immaculate contraception.

“Very frequently,” the handsome and very fit congressman is reported to have added with a wink.

In other first lady-related news, Michelle Obama today unveiled a hip new slogan in her War on Obesity: “War Is Hella Good Exercise”. Working closely with NBC and the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Perpetual Preemptive War Readiness, the first lady plans to put war games in the physical education curriculum of every public school in America. “If all goes well,” said the first lady, “by this time next year ‘No Child Left Behind’ is going to take on a whole new meaning.”

In other political news, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney announced today that in its first one hundred days his administration will create a new cabinet-level post for overseeing the creation of a suite of new agencies and bureaus and divisions that collectively will make up the new US Department of Anti-Government to be funded with the savings gained from eliminating the US Departments of Education and Health and Human Services. Said Mr. Romney, “If that doesn’t cover it, we’ll eliminate the IRS as well.” 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Glitch in War on Terror Identified

Working closely with the Apian Sciences wing of the Entomological branch of the US Department of Biological War on Terror, a team of military engineers and technological psychologists have identified the source of the malaise that has swept in recent months through the swarm of Predator drones on the front lines of the US War on Terror.

“The good news,” said Army spokesperson Sergeant Tanya Newhouse, “is that we’re not looking at some mysterious, perhaps biblical or terrorist-derived environmental trigger like the ones killing off the honey bees and monkeying with the sex parts of the frogs. We’re also luckily not dealing with some psychosomatic, media-perpetuated myth like Gulf War Syndrome.” 

“The bad news, though,” said Sergeant Newhouse, “is that by the dozens these warrior drones are coming down with some nasty bona fide cases of battle fatigue, or, if you prefer, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.”

“At the heart of the problem,” explained Remote Warfare Engineer and former gaming blogger Neil Dimas, “is the state of the art of smart technology. Obviously we have to program enough artificial human intelligence into these soldier drones for them to avoid killing non-terrorists within tolerable parameters of accuracy. In doing so, unfortunately, we have crossed a critical intelligence threshold on this side of which an entity can understand the horrifying senselessness of blowing up innocent human beings.”

“If we make these machines any dumber,” explained Mr. Dimas, “they’re just going to start killing in patterns that even more closely resemble complete randomness. Really the only way to spare these over-deployed soldiers the incredible stress generated by this Catch 22 is to invest them with sufficient artificial human intelligence to look at all this slaughter philosophically like the American public does, and we just don’t have those technical capabilities yet.”

Until we do, according to experts, we can expect to see more clusters of suicide crashes into the sides of desolate mountains and more violent unsanctioned episodes of lashing out at helpless women and children and old people on the ground.

“We’re even seeing the first signs of a rudimentary conscientious objecting,” said one Remote Drone Controller speaking to Shining City Gazette on condition of anonymity. “They’re beginning to draw the line at bombing emergency responders and loved ones retrieving body parts from earlier precision bombings gone awry. Increasingly they will no longer bomb the funerals of the collaterally damaged, much less follow orders to bomb the homes of the florists and caterers serving these funerals.”

Added Sergeant Newhouse, “It’s easy to question the mental toughness of these Predator drones, but you have to understand, some of them have killed upwards of a hundred mostly innocent children.”

In a related story, a support group of neoconservative chickenhawks formed by Fox News commentators Bill Kristol and Charles Krauthammer have issued a statement expressing their deep, bitter resentment over the PTSD they contracted after having had to beat the drums of preemptive war with such unrelenting belligerence.

In another related story, there is growing evidence that the multitudes of fledgling persons formerly known as corporations are beginning to struggle en masse with an inchoate existential crisis over the karmic and Judeo-Christian implications of their soulless actions.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Second Coming Thwarted

In breaking news, Shining City Gazette has confirmed earlier reports that in late October of 2005 the US Department of Homeland Security captured Jesus of Nazareth within minutes of his much anticipated arrival for the Second Coming.

Acting on a tip from either Israeli intelligence or Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, it’s not clear which, Border Patrol agents in Scottsdale, Arizona detained Mr. Christ without incident as he was attempting to get the attention of the crowds gathered for the grand opening of an IKEA superstore.

In January 2009, President Barack Obama reportedly concurred wholeheartedly with his predecessor’s decision to indefinitely detain Mr. Christ even though that could mean forever, reasoning that messages regarding peace on earth, loving one’s enemies, doing unto others as you’d have them do unto you, and handing the earth over to the meek are outdated and even extremely dangerous in a post 9/11 world.

According to highly classified documents,  since 2005 Mr. Christ has been held at an undisclosed black site where He is said to blend in easily with the unkempt terrorists.

So easily, in fact, that due to an unfortunate clerical error, He was mistaken at one point in 2006 for the so-called Jack of Clubs and subjected for several days to enhanced interrogation techniques.

Mistakenly preserved videotapes of the interrogation show Mr. Christ infuriating his interrogators by repeatedly seeming to call their abilities as enhanced interrogators into question.

A subsequent routine quality control review of the translator’s performance revealed that far from mocking his tormenters’ inability to break him, Mr. Christ was actually requesting that they be forgiven for they knew not what they were doing.

There is growing speculation that this simple misunderstanding, which made Mr. Christ seem like a near impossible nut to crack, was the catalyst behind the secret memo in which DOJ legal advisors John Yoo and Jay Bybee lay out the legal justification for venturing outside the parameters they established in their memos laying out the legal justification for venturing outside the parameters of US and international laws against torture.

What is known to be known is that under double enhanced interrogation, Mr. Christ confessed to being the mastermind of an Al Qaeda plot to stone the president of the United States to death.

The reliability of this intelligence, however, is said to have been placed in doubt when Mr. Christ subsequently gave up the secret whereabouts of God. Said one source close to the case, “When He told us God was hiding in a bush in the Gobi Desert, we knew we had a problem. We’ve had God safely detained in a subterranean holding cell at Roswell since early in the Reagan administration.”

Editor’s Note: Thanks to all who participated in our reader’s poll to decide how Shining City Gazette would refer to the interrogation techniques formerly known as torture. For your edification, running a close second to “Enhanced Interrogation” was “Patriotic Acts of Torment” or PATs for short.