Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Whoever Dreamed Of A White Christmas Should Be Shot

Yesterday morning I caught myself muttering, "I can't wait for winter to be over." This statement took me by surprise. Winter used to be one of my favorite months. Oh wait, that doesn't look right. Wintember used to be one of my favorite months. That's better.

I must be growing up. One more tiny piece of my childhood died as I turned my back on winter. My inner child would have wept over this, but its tear ducts had frozen shut. Winter was far more exciting to us when we were children. We would peer through the windows late at night, watching the snow come down with wide-eyed wonder at the awesome power of nature to cancel school. Of course, they always reminded us we'd have to make up any snow days at the end of the year, but no one ever cared because the entire last week of school was a blow-off anyway.

As an adult, winter weather becomes less of a useful diversion and more of an irritating inconvenience. They don't close down most businesses just because it would be unreasonably unsafe to expect their employees to drive to work. This means that adults still need to brave the elements to drive to work while their children get to stay home and entertain themselves with such fun games as "set G.I. Joe on fire." (Of course, I'm only kidding. These days, kids just download grotesque porn from the Internet instead of actually doing anything constructive with their free time.)

Every morning during the winter, I have to wake up earlier than normal so I can warm up my car. Apparently automobile engineers are more interested in making cars that can be voice activated to play Barenaked Ladies while calling our lawyers than making cars that can function reasonably well in temperature ranges that commonly exist on planet Earth. This is the main reason I can't wait for winter to be over. I have a great deal of trouble waking up at all, let alone early, because I find sleep to be a very enjoyable alternative to being awake. When you're asleep, no one is around to pressure you into doing things you don't want to do, like contribute to society in any meaningful way.

I also have to adjust my travel time to account for "safe winter driving." Cold winter air creates ice, a vicious substance determined to destroy humanity by transforming our roads into violent, careening deathtraps. "Safe winter driving" is a critical process combining two major elements: 1) driving as slowly as possible, and 2) being perpetually terrified while you do so. Everybody practices "safe winter driving" from approximately October 1st through May 31st, regardless of whether or not there is actually any ice on the road. Regardless of whether or not conditions even exist for there to be any ice on the road. Unless they're idiots. The idiots are the ones who believe that owning a four-wheel drive vehicle makes it perfectly safe to drive 50 MPH on a sheet of pure ice.

In addition to the ice, we sometimes also have to deal with the nuisance of snow. Nature never dumps snow any place that might be convenient for people, such as in scenic landscape photographs. It's always on sidewalks and busy streets where it can cause accidents, and we're constantly having to move it someplace else. Of course, this is nature's signal that we are ready for even more snow, which clearly, by definition, belongs on the sidewalks and streets. When we were children, we would delight in building snowmen, creating snow angels, and sliding uncontrollably down snow-crested hills atop flimsy sheets of plastic. That was before we grew up and realized that whoever dreamed of a white Christmas should be drug out and shot.

If I remember my high school science classes correctly, we learned that it gets extremely cold in winter because the sun hates us. This causes car windshields to develop frost that is impossible to remove because windshield scrapers were designed by cackling sadists. The temperature is always a stimulating topic of conversation during the winter. People never get tired of asking if it's "still cold out there," as if it's suddenly going to turn June. Sometimes, someone might ask you if you're responsible for "all this bad weather," which is a stupid question because everyone knows that, as with anything else that nobody likes, it's all George W. Bush's fault.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Filled With Hope, Or Change, Or Something

In November of 2008, America recognized a historic milestone when, after struggling through decades of adversity and strife, Axl Rose finally released a new Guns 'N' Roses album. The general consensus was that it could have been better.

This event was narrowly overshadowed by a major breakthrough in civil rights when Americans realized that a black man can be every bit as capable of ruining our country as stodgy, old white men have proven to be for the past two centuries. Yesterday, the day after we honored one of our most important civil rights leaders, Barack Obama officially became the 44th President of the United States.

This triumph comes not without its fair share of controversy, however. A small number of disillusioned citizens are working diligently to prove that Barack Obama is not actually a naturally born American citizen since most people don't technically consider Hawaii a state. I don't think these people fully understand the dire social ramifications of their accusation. I mean, Oprah Winfrey cried when Barack Obama was elected, and every single time Oprah Winfrey discovers that she has cried in vain, someone awakens the next morning with an unexplained growth the size of a small dog. Besides, it's not like this would be the first time we've had a president with questionable credentials. It's rumored that Jimmy Carter is most likely some sort of space alien, and it's widely acknowledged that William Harrison was, in fact, a grizzly bear.

Some people just cannot accept the fact that, despite the best efforts of FoxNews, a president was elected who was not a Republican. This is because after nearly 900 years of being in charge, the Republicans got too confident and careless. Rather than working to gain the public's trust after an overall dissatisfying eight years, the Republican National Convention instead decided to base their entire platform on the assumption that voters are really, really, incredibly, stupid.

Granted this had worked well for them in the past, like when we elected George W. Bush for a second term even though he had a lower approval rating than ovarian cysts. This time, the Republicans reached deep into their talent pool and nominated John McCain, who battled the natural charisma of Barack Obama with all the charm of a confused grandfather in constant discovery of his own senility. John McCain's campaign was run with all the grace and dignity of a three-ring circus crashing into an insane asylum.

John McCain's candidacy peaked at the selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate. For the first few days, voters everywhere were keenly interested in downloading pictures of Sarah Palin in a bikini, but their interest quickly began to fade as soon as they realized that "VPILF" was not really funny. Many people directly blame Sarah Palin for John McCain's loss, but I think it's more that when John McCain wasn't trying to connect with the people, he sounded like a cranky, old man yelling at kids to get off his lawn, and when did try to connect with the people, he talked like he was describing what they were wearing over the phone as he peered through their bedroom windows.

Probably anybody who has appeared in the news over the past eight or twenty years with an (R) and a state next to their name would have lost the election last year. The Democrats managed to capitalize on the general disapproval of Bush's leadership by constructing a platform that consisted of more than not being a joke. The Republicans wisely chose to distance themselves from the unpopular Bush Administration by running their campaign the exact same way and promising to extend most of its policies.

Conversely, most people felt that Barack Obama ran an overall positive campaign because he smiled a lot. Unlike the Republicans, Barack Obama pledged that he would fix everything wrong with the world using Hope®©™, Change®©™, and Unity®©™. John McCain, on the other hand, was shocked to find out there even was anything wrong with the world, and had, in fact, chosen as his campaign slogan, "McCain / Palin: There is nothing wrong with the world, you fools!"

Barack Obama has a difficult road ahead of him. His approval ratings started to slip before he even took office, as the novelty of having elected America's first partially minority president began to wear off. The rumors are still circulating that he's secretly a Muslim, or a terrorist, or a Socialist, and that he'll paint the White House black, enslave all white people, and prohibit embryonic stem cells from owning hunting rifles, but I'm sure he'll overcome these rumors because they're all stupid. The truth is Barack Obama won't do any worse than any other president before him, or at least we Hope®©™.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The United States Of China

It has come to my attention, by way of people having more free time to panic in the streets during normal business hours, that the economy is coming to an end. This is being conveyed to us by grim-faced news anchors delivering important reports about politicians deeply concerned over business owners freaking out. Apparently people making $7.50 an hour are supposed to somehow care when people whose annual income starts at $300,000 suddenly start losing millions of dollars, instead of asking the obvious questions, like: "Where do these people get millions of dollars to lose?" "Are we supposed to be concerned that they can suddenly no longer afford the fourth mansion they were going to buy for their wife's chihuahua?" and "Have fun eating generic Macaroni & Cheese every night! Ha ha!"

The middle class has never really understood how the economy works, we just always assumed the economy existed, somewhere up in the sky, where it looked down upon us and answered our prayers. We would go to work every day to earn money, and we would deposit that money into a bank, and we would withdraw that money when we wanted to buy something. The value of the dollar was determined by the amount of gold the government kept stockpiled. That is all we needed to know.

Of course, this was unacceptable after banks realized there weren't nearly enough abstract concepts involved to keep the middle class thoroughly confused, so banks invented credit. Now, if you want to buy something expensive like a car or a house or gasoline, instead of waiting for a family member to die and pass theirs on to you, you can buy it with money you don't actually have based on how interesting the bank finds you. The government still has gold stockpiled, but now our economy is based on how confident people are that our country has more money than any other country.

Despite the fact that nobody understood anything anybody said about the economy, we were assured that everything would be fine as long as no one pays any attention to it. This idea worked great for several decades until the Liberal News Media started dedicating entire cable channels to scaring the middle class with reports on things like the stock market and investment bankers and all of our jobs going overseas. All of a sudden, people started hearing about the economy, and this frightened them because they had cut economics class in high school to smoke weed behind the auto shop building.

Back in the mid-Nineties, or maybe the mid-Eighties, or the upper-Thirties, or the Cretaceous Period, the stock market was deregulated. No one is really sure whose fault this was, but everybody can agree that it was definitely not them. Somewhere along the line, one of our politicians decided that rich people would be responsible with our money if there were no laws governing them, and that politician managed to convince others that rich people are in no way greedy. This directly led to the criminal indictments of many rich people for being irresponsible with our money because they were greedy.

As a result of the deregulation, banks started approving mortgages for anybody who applied, regardless of whether they had collateral, money, jobs, social security numbers, or were in fact dogs. These were called "adjustable rate mortgages," which literally meant that the bank could adjust the rate of the mortgage to any amount they wanted. Suddenly the borrowers found themselves owing upwards of $137 million per month, which they couldn't seem to pay. Totally unprepared for such an unexpected event, many of the banks collapsed. In a controversial move, the government gave the banks $700 billion dollars to pay their CEOs' yearly bonuses.

Then the auto industry failed because their business strategy hinged on making cars that no one wanted to buy, and they requested a massive government bailout package on the grounds that the banks got one for being financially inept, and so should they. So the auto industry got their bailout package, and so will every other corporation in America until we officially become the United States of China. However, individual consumers are not eligible to receive a bailout package because we are expected to be responsible with our money.

We need to be concerned about the plight of the rich, though, because they have vowed that, if they go down, they're taking everyone else with them. So when Sally Struthers asks you to open your heart and your wallet against a backdrop of "Happy Christmas (War Is Over)," please donate whatever you can. Remember, you can feed a starving Wall Street investor for only the price of a midsize sedan a day.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Hey Rod Blagojevich: No One Likes You!

When Illinois Governor Rod Blajo Blagoi Blagoveji Blagojevich was arrested in December under charges of corruption, criminal conspiracy, bribery, and faud, shocked and appalled residents responded with a resounding "It's about time!"

I was beginning to wonder just how criminal the guy would have to get before someone would finally do something about it. Seriously, if he got caught selling kidnapped Illinois schoolchildren to pharmaceutical companies for dangerous chemical testing, it seemed like policing agencies would just shrug and say, "That's our Rod!" and everyone would just enjoy a hearty laugh into fade-out.

I'm sure those of you not living in Illinois are wondering how we could have voted for such an inept governor, not once, but twice. On behalf of the entire state of Illinois, I offer this elaborate defense: I have no idea! I wasn't living in Illinois while all of this was going on, and my entire knowledge of state politics was basically reduced to: Abraham Lincoln came from Illinois, didn't he? For ten years, the only Illinois politician I knew of was Jesse White, who gained my emphatic support by approving me to both drive and vote.

As near as I can tell, Rod Blagojevich became the governor because people in Illinois are stupid. Before Rod Blagojevich became the governor, Illinois had a different governor named George Ryan who figured that no harm could come of giving people licenses to drive semi trucks regardless of whether they were qualified to drive semi trucks, as long as they didn't use the licenses to actually drive semi trucks. Naturally, no one could have predicted that these people would, in fact, use their licenses to drive semi trucks, which ultimately resulted in the deaths of six schoolchildren. The people of Illinois were appropriately outraged, and George Ryan appropriately resigned in shame, was indicted, and incarcerated.

This was probably not the best time to be a gubernatorial candidate named Jim Ryan. This confused the people of Illinois because Jim Ryan was obviously George Ryan with a very poor alias. Rod Blagojevich capitalized on this opportunity by pointing out that, unlike George Ryan and Jim Ryan, his last name is unpronounceable. Fed up with stodgy, old Republicans named Ryan, people of Illinois voted for the guy who looked like a Muppet with his hair escaping down the front of his face. This was, in fact, George Ryan in disguise.

Rod Blagojevich immediately set forth his agenda to prove, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that he is the most idiotic, most corrupt, and most downright insane politician to hold a public office since the town of Jenkinsburg, GA was momentarily commandeered by a man calling himself Jorgo the Wonked. With the 2006 conviction of George Ryan fresh on people's minds, Blagojevich easily defeated George Ryan's Treasury Secretary, Judy Baar Topinka. She was, in fact, el chupacabra in disguise.

Fewer people in Illinois like Rod Blagojevich than people in the country like George W. Bush. His approval rating is sitting at a very firm 1. Not 1%, mind you, but actually 1, as in the only person who doesn't think Rod Blagojevich is a complete nutcase is Rod Blagojevich. At this point, I'm willing to bet even his wife is contemplating what her life would have been like with someone a little more balanced, like Axl Rose or Charles Manson.

Rod Blagojevich allowed the phone lines in his office to be wiretapped claiming that he has nothing to hide. He then openly discussed his illicit activities over the phone lines that he knew to be tapped. He responded to the overwhelming evidence against him by declaring that he has done nothing wrong, and that he will fight, fight, fight. The people of Illinois responded by telling him, in no uncertain terms, "Hey Rod Blagojevich: No one likes you!"

Rod Blagojevich countered by sticking his fingers in his ears and declaring: "La-la-la, I can't heeeaaarrr yooouuu!!"

His argument is that he was elected to serve the will of the people of Illinois. The people of Illinois have elected him to do a job and he will continue to do that job, even if the people of Illinois don't want him to do it anymore. At one point, I heard one news anchor pose the question, "What's next for the people of Illinois?"

That's simple. We'll find the next most insane politician in the state and make that person the governor! Isn't that pretty much a given at this point? Who knows; we might even give Jorgo a shot at it.