The Torture Debate

guantanamoAs someone who experienced 12 years of Lutheran parochial schools, I have little sympathy for the prisoners at Guantanamo. (You have not known terror until you’ve had a six-foot-four-inch ex-Army chaplain, now a substitute religion teacher, ask you, age 11, whether you would like to share your “funny little joke” with the rest of the class or be sent to the front.*)

And so, when the government asked me, back in 2003, to come up with a list of appropriate “enhanced-interrogation techniques” to be used to elicit vital information from prisoners of the war on terror, I had no qualms about doing so, and submitted the following.**

  1. Prisoners will view nonstop episodes of That Girl until they admit that Donald was being kind of a jerk that one time.
  2. Prisoners will be subjected to random acts of karaoke. “Sister Golden Hair,” “All By Myself,” “My Heart Will Go On.”
  3. Prisoners will be told that, yes, your prison jumper does make you look fat.
  4. Prisoners will be tricked into thinking it’s 1971, and there is no such show as Happy Days.
  5. Prisoners will be denied access to the Qu’ran, and instead will be provided with Every Day a Friday.
  6. Prisoners will be forced to wear white after Labor Day, depriving them of their “fashion self.”
  7. Prisoners will be stripped of their given names and referred to solely as “Mr. Fancy Pants.”
  8. Prisoners will be asked repeatedly “Why are you hitting yourself?” until it becomes blatantly obvious.
  9. Prisoners will be kept on hold as they wait for Time Warner customer service to confirm that “sometime between 8 am and 10 pm” appointment.
  10. Prisoners will be split into two groups, which will then divide into factions, which will splinter into sects, which will form cells, which will result in the total isolation of individuals. In other words, within a month, they will all be Protestants.

After reading the results of the recently released reports, I have every reason to believe my suggestions were ignored. (And also that I enjoy alliteration.)

I leave you with this.

* I could never be sure if he meant the front of the class or the Eastern Front, his grasp of mid-twentieth-century history being notoriously “off.”

** This may have taken place in my mind.

Sweden Will Pay You to Move to Norway. Norway Will Pay You to Import Its Garbage. Your Joke Here.

The catch is, you must be a Swede who is unemployed and living in the town of Soderhamn. Which definitely shrinks the pool of potential applicants.

Under a scheme organised by the local authorities in the town of Soderhamn and by Sweden’s national employment office, anyone aged between 18 and 28 can volunteer to take a “Job Journey” to Oslo and attempt track down gainful employment.

Those who sign up get a ticket to the Norwegian capital and are put up in an Oslo youth hostel for a month, with Soderhamn council picking up the £20 a night bill. The package also includes on-the-spot guidance on how to get a job in Sweden’s northern neighbour.

“We had an unemployment rate of over 25 per cent, so we had to find solutions,” Magus Nilsen, the man in charge of the project at Soderhamn council, told the Daily Telegraph. “Going to Norway to find work has always been quite popular with young people, but sometimes they want to go but don’t know how to find a job or accommodation so we thought we’d give them a bit of help with both.”

So far around 100 people have decided to leave Soderhamn. . . .

Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Who needs you? Go live your fancy new life in Norway, gateway to the very top of Finland!

Has anyone asked Norway what it thinks of this scheme? And why don’t we pay people to move to Norway? Or better yet, why don’t we trade unemployable Americans for employable Norwegians? With a population smaller than New York City, Norway would fit nicely in the Midwest somewhere, while we could empty our prisons, exiling our most violent and disgusting to Oslo. The Norwegians would all be here, and so wouldn’t notice, and the American felons would be free to enjoy the benefits of a northern European nation known for its relatively low crime rate and relatively high rate of private gun ownership!

Win win!

Via Reason‘s 24/7 Newsfeed

UPDATE: So Sweden is the nation that keeps on giving. It turns out that even as it exports workers to Norway, it imports Norwegian garbage — because it cannot produce enough of its own to heat the damn country.

Norway pays Sweden to take its trash, and Sweden gets heat and electricity and then exports the burned debris back to Norway.

“So that’s why we have the world’s best incineration plants concerning energy efficiency,” Senior Advisor for the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency Catarina Ostlund told PRI.

“But I would say maybe in the future, this waste will be valued even more, so maybe you could sell your waste because there will be a shortage of resources within the world,” Ostlund said.

Thinking about the future, Ostlund said she would like to see Sweden import trash from countries outside Scandinavia.

Is the next president of the United States reading this? We can export our garbage to Sweden! This has so many possible social applications, the mind boggles!

And by the way: is this really a case of Swedish efficiency, or is it a matter of another Socialist economy being so feckless that it can’t even make garbage properly?

If I Were Moderator of Tonight’s Debate: My Questions

President Obama:

1. What did five say to six? (Assumes familiarity with numbers in sequence.)

2. If you could be anything other than a really bad president, what would you suck at?

3. Why is the Near East closer to the Far East than the Middle East is, which should be in the middle?

4. If you were a Muslim, how many wives would you embarrass?

5. What is the optimal number of dead Americans?

6. If you apologized for repeatedly apologizing, would that make you really sorry?

7. Who can bench press more, Paul Ryan or Vice President Biden’s ego?

Governor Romney:

1. If you spin around real fast, how many positions can you hold simultaneously?

2. Would you abort Obamacare or put portions up for adoption?

3. How many women does a binder hold? And are your binders made in China? Will your Cabinet consist of formerly bound women?

4. If you were a Mormon, how many wives would you embarrass?

5. If elected, do you promise to eventually think up a budget plan?

6. If you lose the popular vote but win the electoral, will you reconsider your college-loan stance? Assuming you have one?

7. As governor of Massachusetts, you stated flatly that you would close plants that did not meet environmental standards, even if it meant losing jobs, and that taxes should be used to promote energy conservation. If you could go back in time and had only one bullet, who would you shoot: Hitler or your former self?

Forget Obama and Romney: Here’s Why You Should Elect a Comic Book Supervillain

“It’s time…”

Lauren Davis over @ io9 has an eye-opening piece that lays out “9 Reasons to Elect a Supervillain President.”

What’s frightening is that they all make eminent sense.

1. They have a strong vision for the future.

2. They’ll go to great lengths to rebuild the country.

3. They won’t stand for idiotic interview questions.

4. They make our monuments far more interesting.

5. They’ll keep up morale (in order to further their evil schemes).

6. They’ll eliminate unemployment—albeit through slavery.

7. They’re already part of the shadowy conspiracy that runs the planet.

8. They’re surprisingly easy to depose.

9. Chances are you won’t notice a difference between them and your non-supervillain presidents.

Man, Lauren, you sure have been paying attention to your supervillains. Which is kinda scary. But fun — definitely fun! Continue reading

Bloody Obvious Alert: David Brooks Calls Out Romney as a Phony

So New York Times columnist David Brooks was on the NewsHour and said out loud what everyone else already knew: Mitt Romney is faking it.

“Several decades ago I had a chance to have dinner with Tom Clancy, the thriller writer,” Brooks said. “And he sat down — he had just toured a battleship and he had seen a new weapon system. And he was bubbling over with excitement about this new weapon system he thought was very interesting. And he was just talking about it with great passion. And I remember thinking, ‘You can’t fake it. If you don’t feel that, you can’t write Tom Clancy novels.’”

“And with Mitt Romney, he’s faking it,” Brooks continued. “I think he’s a non-ideological guy running in an ideological age who is pretending to be way more ideological than he really is. And so he talks like he is this cartoon image of how I’m supposed to be talking and as a result, it is stupid half the time — not half the time, some of the time. It’s an impersonation. And so, if I — knowing it’s too late to change who he is running as, but just be the more boring manager you are. He’s a competent manager — we thought he was.”

Look, Barack Obama is going to be reelected. I’ve been saying this to strangers in the street ever since the Republicans took the House. (Granted, I may be proved wrong if something goes wildly wrong in the Middle East. I mean even wronger than what’s going on now. In which case I will delete this post and deny ever saying that Obama was going to reelected, which I’m only going on record as saying in the event that actually happens.) And the president’s a phony too, playing like he’s some kind of centrist, when in fact, if he had his druthers, which let’s hope to mercy he never has, he would redistribute the fillings in your teeth to Pakistani metal workers and then apologize for Americans’ good oral hygiene. (While funneling taxpayer money to the likes of Solyndra. Quick question: how much energy does it take to clean up the mess of a failed green-energy company? And how much green?) Continue reading

God and Israel Booed at Democratic National Convention, Now Bought and Paid for by the Amorites

Joshua vs. the Amorites, who stole his pants.

Now I’m as likely to watch the proceedings of the Democratic National Convention as I am to watch the Vagina Monologues performed by Helen Thomas and Madeleine Albright. But I am in constant contact with virtual reality, the only reality you can trust, because you can always turn if off. And, according to my Macbook Air, both the Creator of the Universe and the State of  Israel were thrown out of the Democratic Party, only to be shoved back in, to clamorous non-applause:

Governor Ted Strickland of Ohio made the motion to change the platform:

This summer, I was proud to serve this party as the platform drafting committee chair. I came before you today to discuss the two important matters related to our party’s national platform. As an ordained United Methodist Minister, I am here to attest and affirm that our faith and belief in God is central to the American story and informs the value we have expressed in our party’s platform. In addition, President Obama recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and our party’s platform should as well. Mr. Chairman, I have submitted my amendment in writing and I believe it is being projected on the screen for the delegates to see. I move adoption of the amendment as submitted and shown to the delegates.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles, the head of the Democratic National Convention, got up and asked for a two-thirds vote on the amendments to the platform. He took a voice vote, with people stating aloud “aye” and “nay.”

The first time, he couldn’t determine if two-thirds of the voters had said “aye”; a loud “no” vote was heard. He asked for a second vote.

The second time, he couldn’t determine whether the voice vote had passed. Again. Villaraigosa looked around in confusion.

It’s at moments like these that one is tempted to quote Scripture, something about the Tower of Babel, perhaps. But that would be to gild the lilly.

I’m sure the Maker of Heaven and Earth was on tenterhooks during the whole affair, devastated that He might not be able to share the stage with the likes of Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson. But we can breathe easy that the LORD GOD has been returned to the “party’s national platform,” which of course means less than nothing.

How can something be less than nothing, you ask? Certainly you are aware of the esteem in which the separation of powers are held by the president of the United States!

President Barack Obama told an audience in Nevada on Monday that he will be regularly announcing “executive actions” his administration will take to “heal the economy” without the “dysfunctional” Congress.

“I’m here to say to all of you and to say to the people of Nevada and the people of Las Vegas, we can’t wait for an increasingly dysfunctional Congress to do its job. Where they won’t act, I will,” Obama said.

“I’ve told my administration to keep looking every single day for actions we can take without Congress, steps that can save consumers money, make government more efficient and responsive, and help heal the economy. And we’re going to be announcing these executive actions on a regular basis,” the president said.

If that’s not less than nothing, I don’t know what isn’t.

I don’t necessarily blame the president for not wanting to tussle with an obstreperous Congress. After all, it was Mark Twain who said “Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.” But if we’re going to devolve into a dictatorship, I would like some prior notice, especially if they start building those walls, like they did in East Germany, which may be the only way to put people back to work, but which are also a bitch to scale, especially when hauling a year’s supply of Kit-Kats and $65,000 worth of electronic equipment stuffed into a Welcome Back, Kotter backpack.

Who knew that the “Change” in “Hope and Change” would refer to what was left in your bank account after the government was through with you …

UPDATE: Word has it that God may not have actually been booed at the Convention, but only sneered at, with some mild sniggering. OK.

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: RealClear seems to confirm original story.