Tag Archives: Humor

Limbaugh could be between a rock and a place with universal health care.

Rush Limbaugh said today that he will leave the country if the health care reform bill passes. He said he’d go to Costa Rica, but if he’s principled, he’ll have to go somewhere else: Costa Rica has universal health coverage.

Rush could have some real problems finding a place to live in the style to which he has become accustomed. The US is the only developed nation that does not supply universal health coverage, and I don’t think he’ll be happy with most other options. He could choose anywhere in Africa, with the exception of South Africa, the last developed country (not including the U.S.) to institute universal coverage. South America has a very few places: Columbia and Bolivia spring to mind. He could go to Kazakhstan or Mongolia.

Iraq would certainly have homes and palaces that would meet Rush’s needs, and many of them are currently empty, but alas, Iraq has universal health care. Universal health care provided by the United States. Your tax dollars at work.

Good luck Rush. Don’t forget to write. Assuming you find a country with a post office.

Proposed Post-Birth Abortion Ban Could Shut Down Iraq War

Democrats in the House of Representatives have proposed a bill that would legislatively create a twenty-year period of “Post-Birth Fetal Development,” during which abortion would be completely illegal. Rep. Roberta Goldwaithe, the bill’s primary sponsor, thinks this is an idea whose time has come. “Neurologists have established that the human brain isn’t completely developed through adolescence. This explains why many young people engage in irrational and dangerous behaviors; drinking and driving, date rape, signing up for the Marines… every parent has his or her own horror story. It’s time for those of us who believe in the sanctity of human life to put our principles before our politics. We must protect all human life, including those who have not yet fully developed into independent creatures.”

Republicans have concerns that the “Post-Birth Fetal Development Pro-Life Abortion Ban Act” is a legislative Trojan horse with potential consequences reaching far beyond the abortion clinic, perhaps as far as Iraq, but Rep. Goldwaithe dismisses these accusations. “A Republican who would vote against the Pro-Life Abortion Ban Act is clearly a closest pro-choice, anti-life satanist, and I know that voters will be smart enough to recognize that come election day.” Goldwaithe admits, however, that the new law would affect the war in Iraq:

It goes without saying that being placed in a war zone would threaten fetal life, but this is a secondary concern. President Bush recently pledged, ‘I believe human life is a sacred gift from our Creator. I worry about a culture that devalues life, and believe as your President I have an important obligation to foster and encourage respect for life in America and throughout the world.’

The President expressed these sentiments to explain why he vetoed a bill that would have allowed federal funds for stem cell research. Embryos used for stem cell research consist of less than 200 cells. The vast majority will never develop into anything but freezer burn, and will eventually be destroyed. On the other hand, fetuses protected by the Post-Birth Act can be as much as six feet tall, and contain well over a hundred trillion cells. With proper care, all have the potential to become fully developed human beings. It’s inconceivable, pardon the phrase, that the President would refuse to protect the sanctity of life merely because it would interfere with military plans.

White House spokesman Tony Snow refused to comment directly on the proposed law, but did say that the administration would continue to support the right of a fetus to bear arms.

AG Gonzales Outed as Hologram

A highly placed government software developer revealed today that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is actually a sophisticated hologram. The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, joined the Gonzales project when the Attorney General was still in beta. Her team of programmers, many of whom had prior experience at various Hollywood special effects studios, are responsible for Gonzales’ colorful and lifelike simulation of a human Cabinet level official.

“Attorney General Gonzales can be fully projected with voice and high-def 3D visuals anywhere in the Justice Building.” Appearing outside of a few blocks from his office, however, requires portable wireless equipment, and presents more of a challenge. gonzales-fades.jpg“Just projecting the Attorney General outside the building takes a lot of bandwidth, limiting his ability to connect with his central processor. That can really interfere with the AG’s ability to access memory. Plus, he can look a little grainy when there’s a lot of cell-phone traffic in the area.”

Despite these problems, the silicon-based AG has out-performed initial expectations. “Most of us worked in Hollywood, so we were concerned about Gonzales’ ability to simulate sincere emotions. But lacking a full emotional repertoire turns out to be a plus in politics. And we were really surprised to discover that other technical problems can also be turned to an advantage. Gonzales is programmed with a limited number of responses to inquiries. As programmers, we’d call this a problem with his ‘cognitive display,’ but in politics it’s called ‘staying on message.’ Gonzales can ‘stay on message’ for very long periods without displaying the shame or embarrassment that would be inevitable in a flesh-and-blood person.”

During today’s press briefing, Tony Snow would neither confirm nor deny the humanity of the Attorney General, but did point out the irrelevance of the issue: “The President has full confidence in the Attorney General, and that won’t change simply because General Gonzales may not be a sentient being. I mean, think about it. Alberto Gonzales overcame the obstacle of his Hispanic-American background to become the number one man in the Department of Justice. He’s even more worthy of admiration if it turns out he is a non-corporeal computer simulation of an Hispanic-American.”

The response from both sides of the political spectrum was immediate. Senator Leahy, who questioned AG Gonzales at length during a number of Congressional hearings, admitted he had not heard the news but seemed unsurprised, noting, “It would explain a lot.”

Meanwhile, former-mayor and 2008 Presidential candidate, Rudolph Giuliani, approved of the idea, but said he didn’t think the present administration had gone far enough. “Most, if not all, of the Cabinet could be replaced by holograms. In fact, I believe that the heads of some agencies — the EPA and the Department of Education come immediately to mind — could be replaced with a voice-activated digital telephone system at great savings to the public.”

Former-governor Mitt Romney’s campaign office had no comment, further fueling suspicions that he himself is a computer-based life form. Pundits have previously suggested that this rumor, if true, could actually help Romney in the primaries: “The Democrats are trying to raise excitement with the possibility of running the first black or female candidate. Running a computer-generated Mormon for the top job would really steal the their thunder.”

The Swiftian news

Dick Cheney’s jet, Air Force 2, was attacked by a suicide bomber, specifically a bird that threw itself into the right engine just before the jet’s landing at O’Hare airstrip. No particular group of birds has claimed responsibility for the attack, though analysts believe the VP’s favorite prey — farm-raised quail — were involved.

Cheney, unharmed but visibly shaken, said he would not alter his hunting strategy.

I will not give in to a few fowl terrorists. I will continue to shoot farm-raised birds released for my recreational pleasure from cages hidden behind bushes, and I will kill those birds. Quitting would render meaningless the sacrifice of my good friend, Harry Whittington, whom I shot in the face.

The Vice-President was in Chicago to speak at a function organized by the Heritage Foundation. The Vice President spoke about the importance refusing to set a specific date to withdraw from Iraq:

“It is impossible to argue that an unconditional timetable for retreat could serve the security interests of the United States. It would send a message to our enemies that the calendar is their friend, that all they have to do is wait us out, wait for the date certain, and then claim victory the day after.

Leaders of insurgency groups in Iraq responded with anger to the VP’s comments. “We must know the US withdrawal date in order to plan our victory-claiming celebration. The catering preparations alone will take forty-eight hours. And don’t even talk to me about making all those effigies.”

In other news, the President announced a plan to appoint a “war czar,” to finally achive victory in Iraq and Afghanistan. When asked for details, the President responded:

When I wish upon my czar;
Makes no difference who they are;
When I have a czar he’ll make my dreams come true.

President Bush then explained we could easily win in Iraq, but we all need to believe. He requested everyone present who believed in victory to clap their hands.

There were no additional questions.

Finally, on the human interest front, the winner of the Anna Nicole Smith baby contest was finally chosen from the group of finalists in the Bahamas. A disappointed crowd of men went home tanned, but empty-handed, when photographer Larry Birkhead was declared winner. Birkhead said he attributed his success to timing. “Anna asked me to set a definite time for withdrawal, but I refused.”

The Vice-President has not yet commented on Birkhead’s strategy.

So long, Mr. Vonnegut

The title of this blog, The Free Lance” is the name H.L. Menken used for a column of his; my son Samuel is named for Sam Clemens; and, I saw Spalding Gray four times in the six years before he died. These are my bona fides for writing about the loss I feel on the death of Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

It’s not that I anticipated reading lots more from him, but there was something pleasant about knowing he was alive, still smoking filterless Pall Malls and undoubtedly bitching at someone about something. (He once described smoking as “a fairly sure, fairly honorable form of suicide.)
I first read Vonnegut as a teenager, as I suspect lots of others did. I read the wonderfully funny and sad Slaughterhouse Five, Or, The Children’s Crusade, at the suggestion of a favorite high school teacher. I loved it most for the odd way it mixed the story of the bombing of Dresden (which Vonnegut lived through as a prisoner of war), with the tale of a man living happily with a starlet in a zoo on the planet Tralfamadore. I’ve read Slaughterhouse Five a number of times since, listened to a really great audio version, read by Ethan Hawke, and if there was a copy right here now I’d probably pick it up and read it again right away.

Vonnegut was, in many ways, as engagingly contradictory as his novel about war and Tralfamadore. He was famously pessimistic, but with a humanist warmth that Twain lacked. For example, he wrote:

I wish that people who are conventionally supposed to love each other would say to each other, when they fight, ‘Please—a little less love, and a little more common decency.’

A direct and palpable hit on the institution of love if there ever was one, but then there’s the grudging hope in a plea for common decency.

Another contradiction: He was a socialist, but wrote Harrison Bergeron, a short story with a barb aimed at the heart of the idea of absolute equality. The Wall St. Journal published Harrison Bergeron a few years ago in its editorial section; not the kind of place you’d expect an admirer of Eugene Debs to hang out. (You can read Harrison Bergeron here.)

Over the past few years, Vonnegut became embittered about the direction the Bush administration was leading America. Once during an interview, he said he was going to sue Brown & Williamson, manufacturers of Pall Malls, because: “they promised to kill me. Instead, their cigarettes didn’t work. Now I’m forced to suffer leaders with names like Bush and Dick and, up until recently, ‘Colon'” But then in May of 2004 he wrote “Cold Turkey,” a diatribe about the follies of human beings generally and the US under President Bush specifically. In the middle of this bleak prognosis for mankind, he wrote about the inspiration of Confucius, Eugene Debs, Jesus, and of Vonnegut’s own his son, who, asked “what life is all about”, responded: “Father, we are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is.”

So that’s my short tribute to Kurt Vonnegut Jr., who lived through the horrors of the bombing of Dresden, but still retained enough hope to rant pessimistically about a 21st century America, somewhat older, but not a whit wiser. Just one more favorite story…

Death was a subject Vonnegut wrote about a lot in that characteristically unimpressed way he had. In Breakfast of Champions, he described a short story written by one of his characters as:

..a dialogue between two pieces of yeast. They were discussing the possible purposes of life as they ate sugar and suffocated in their own excrement. Because of their limited intelligence, they never came close to guessing that they were making champagne.

Typically Vonnegut, it’s not a very pleasant view of life or death. But then, right there at the end, there’s that champagne.

Where’s a bit of irony when you need it?

Naomi Campbell, known for her terrible temper, recently spent one day of anger management following her conviction for throwing a phone at her housekeeper.

She has recently been asked by Jamaica to be their national “patron for abused women.”

What possible meaning of the phrase “patron for” applies here?