Free Stuff

In their latest attempt to explain their devastating loss this election year and shift the blame onto others, the GOP has a new talking point: “Obama voters just want free stuff.” O’Reilly said it, Ryan said it, and now Romney himself claims that Obama won because of the “gifts” he gave to blacks, Hispanics and women. Have they not learned their lesson that insulting voters is a terrible plan to get their votes? Romney’s insult of the 47% who depend on government and won’t take care of themselves was the beginning of the end of his campaign.

It fits into their worldview of makers and takers, Ayn Rand’s “prime movers” vs. “looters and moochers.” But these insulting insinuations fail to understand that everyone contributes to the public sector as well as benefiting from it. People contribute to social security and Medicare during their working lives and receive benefits from the system when they retire or become unable to work. That is what the system is designed for, and it works a lot better than leaving laborers to their own devices when we don’t know how many of those devices they have.

I’ve worked and paid taxes since I was fifteen. I even worked when I was legally blind. I’ve contributed to the system for twelve years and I will gladly take advantage of it when I need to. It’s not “free stuff,” it’s a state-sponsored insurance plan. As for contraception for women, if you spend a little in that area, you can look forward to less unintended pregnancies, less abortions and less welfare recipients. “Spend money to make money” works in government as well as business.

If you really want to stop people from getting “free stuff,” how about we cut down on welfare to the military-industrial complex, oil companies and drug corporations who don’t need it? Those are the real looters and moochers feeding off the government.

Catcher in the Rye

I recently read Catcher in the Rye, the go-to book for any alienated loner. I enjoyed it. It breaks convention by focusing more on the thoughts and ramblings of an emotionally-stunted teenager than plot, and I found myself laughing at the amusing anecdotes and observations from this depressed introvert’s head.

But the famous monologue near the end, about Holden Caulfield’s dream of running away, pretending to be a deaf-mute and living alone in a cabin, struck me as one of the most brilliant verses in the history of English literature. In just one rambling paragraph, J.D. Salinger managed to capture the essence of human alienation. The fear of revealing oneself to others, the inability to connect emotionally and the desire to run away and hide in a comfortable fantasy land… all bottled in one masterful soliloquy. I tried to do that with the villains in “This God, I,” but I don’t think anyone could match Salinger’s touching prose. I can see why the book has remained popular with the loser crowd for all these years.

Royal family

Enough about the royal family. Seriously, enough. Every morning, I tune into Good Morning America during my break and the same British guy reports on some new scandal or made-up scandal about the royal family.

First off, I’m American. My country abolished the very idea of royalty after a bloody revolution. We don’t even have titles for the important people, it’s all just “Mr.” and Mrs.” What Willy, Kate and Harry are doing is of no importance to me. I care about them as much as I care about what Snooki or Lindsey are up to.

Second, I’m sure Kate Middleton is a good person and I wish her no ill will, but enough about her sex life. The media’s always, “Why’s she drinking water instead of wine” or “Is there a bun in the oven?” They treat her like a panda in the zoo, for Christ’s sake. Let her reproduce when she’s damn good and ready like everybody else should.

Also, shame on the paparazzi for photographing her topless on private property. It’s like they’re thinking, “Hey, remember when we chased that last princess until she died? That was cool, let’s do it again!” I am so done with entertainment news.

The Little Neko Who Lost Her Sock

Okay, here is my version of “The Little Neko Who Lost Her Sock!”

This is for a Ramencon contest. The administrators wrote the first paragraph and contestants have to finish the story, so I injected my usual brand of rhetorical humor, political satire and off-the-wall zaniness. I hope you enjoy.

 

The Little Neko Who Lost Her Sock!

There once was a little neko who loved her socks very much. It always made her smile when she got a new pair, but there was one pair that she loved and wore more than any of the others. One day, on her way out to go to Nekos R Us, she could not find the second sock to the pair and this upset her very much. After digging in every drawer and checking every basket of laundry she knew she would have to check the dryer. The little neko was terrified of the dryer, but since it was her favorite pair of socks, she pushed herself and headed toward it. As the little neko approached the dryer, she noticed the arm of a sweater sticking out from inside. Being so curious the little neko grabbed the sleeve and started to pull. Then, out of nowhere, there was a powerful tug from the other side and before she knew it, the little neko fell through the back of the dryer and entered a whole new world.

When she hit solid ground, the neko rubbed her head and observed the bizarre scene. She sat on a road made of socks, some white, some black, some striped and some checkered. The sickly-white sky revolved around her as if she was in the center of a gigantic spinning cylinder, with three white fins supplying wind to the strange world. Sweat poured from her pink little nose. It was so hot, she almost collapsed.

The neko turned and saw the sweater that had pulled her into the dryer, “VOTE PANTY” written in thread on its sleeve. “Ah, so that’s what I was tugging,” said the sweater. “You don’t look like any clothing I’ve ever seen. How can anybody wear you?”

“Where am I?” asked the neko. “Why is it so hot?”

The sweater looked to the revolving ceiling. “Why, you’re in the dryer, of course. And don’t worry about the heat. It’s just a natural phenomenon that clothing has no control over. Panty said so in her campaign speech.”

The neko wiped the sweat off her nose. “Mr. Sweater, have you seen my other sock? It looks like this one.” She presented the sock with little neko decorations sown into the ankles.

“Actually, I did see something like that.” He pointed down the road of socks. “The Wife-beater took it to Starch City down the road. Here, come with me. The election will be held soon, and he’s bound to be there.”

“Thank you, Mr. Sweater.” The neko followed her new friend to Starch City, where all the dryer’s inhabitants had gathered to support their candidates for Permanent Pressident. She saw a laundry load of sweaters, shirts and pants that carried woven signs saying “VOTE PANTY” and “CREATE LINT.” She approached the clothing and asked, “So who are you guys?”

“We’re the T-shirt Party,” replied a black Ramencon 2012 shirt. “We support more lint and more dry cycles, and we want to deport the foreign clothing coming here to take our place.”

“From where, China?”

“No, from America. We’re all made in China.”

The sweater pointed into the crowd. “There’s the Wife-beater.”

The neko approached him. “Excuse me, but do you have my other sock?” She showed him the one she still had.

“Sorry,” said the Wife-beater, “but I gave it to Panty. I thought it would make her cuter and get her more votes.”

The neko groaned and looked for the candidate. She strolled to the other load, a collection of underwear, panties and brassieres holding signs saying “I LIKE JOCK” and “BROS BEFORE HOSE.” She asked some underwear, “And who are you guys?”

“We’re the undergarments,” she said. “We do the hard jobs around here and the T-shirt Party gets all the lint for it. We’re voting for Jock Strap because we firmly support things.”

“What do you firmly support?” asked the neko.

The underwear said, “We firmly support sweaty, taboo issues that people don’t like to talk about. It’s hard work, and we’re always covered in sweat and other unmentionable fluids at the end of the workday, but somebody’s got to do it. Jock Strap knows what it’s like to work in the political body’s dirty areas and he’ll stand up for our rights as undergarments.”

The two loads started to yell and curse each other. A pair of jeans yelled, “Under your policies, I’ve had to tighten my belt!”

A Wonderbra shouted back, “Under your policies, I have to lie to get work.”

The moderator, a baseball cap, silenced the crowd and welcomed the candidates. Jock Strap and Panty Hose shook each other’s fabric and stood at their podiums. The neko saw her lost sock on Panty Hose’s right leg and vowed to get it back.

Jock Strap began the debate. “My fellow textiles, dryer warming is real but it can be fixed. We can put policies in place that reduce the heat, and very soon we can set this land to medium, possibly even low temperature. Vote Jock for Permanent Pressident.”

Panty Hose retorted, “My opponent is putting his own spin cycle on the science. There is no proof supporting his “heat-settings” theory. It’s just an excuse for more load regulations.” She then moved on to one of her campaign issues. “There are too many shoes in this dryer making so much noise and mixing gravel and dirt in with the clean citizens. I support a ban on shoe drying.”

The shoes booed and cursed. “Boo to you, Hose,” yelled a sneaker. “Without us, people ain’t going nowhere!”

Jock Strap took the floor again. “Under my opponent’s policies, our lint was carelessly invested in the wiretrap and disappeared forever. More and more of our positions are being outsourced to the washer. As your Permanent Pressident, I will stop the unraveling of the fabric of our society.

The candidates went on about their policies, but the little neko focused on her favorite sock that occupied Panty Hose’s leg. When the baseball cap turned to the audience and asked for their questions, she raised her little paw and cried, “Excuse me! Excuse me!”

Panty Hose pointed. “Yes, the fuzzy thing.”

“You’re wearing my sock. Can I have it back please?”

Panty rubbed her foot across her crotch as if thinking. “But this sock was a campaign donation from a loyal supporter, and I look so good in it.”

“But it’s my favorite sock. I lost it on the outside.”

Panty shook her midsection. “Sorry, but if you want socks, you’ll have to work hard for them. You can’t go through life being a moocher off of others. Take personal responsibility.” The shirts and pants cheered, and Panty gave the neko a smug, victorious glance.

The neko slumped in disappointment and sulked away from the crowd of clothing. Before she could cry, a curious undergarment crept to her side. “Hey, pretty kitty… do you really want to get your sock back?”

“Uh, yes. Who are you?”

“I’m the G-string. Getting dirty in private places is my expertise. I can help you humiliate Panty, on one condition.”

“Yes…” The neko felt a shiver.

“Let me pet you. You are so cute!” The neko sighed and agreed, allowing the G-string to move her bands across her dry fur.

One hour later, before the citizens of the dryer could go to the polls, a curious commercial started playing on the smart phones that negligent teenagers had left in the pants’ pockets. Scary music played as the camera zoomed in on a black and white picture of Panty Hose. A deep voice narrated, “Panty Hose claims to be so transparent, she’s see-through. But is she really?” The camera then panned to her cute sock. “What is she hiding under that mysterious stocking?”

The neko then appeared on the screen, moving her eyes as if reading from a cue card. “I  have an inside source that says Panty Hose hasn’t paid her lint to the collective supply and is hiding her lint in that sock.”

The deep voice continued, “Could it be? Call Panty Hose and ask her ‘Where’s the lint?’  Citizens Against Offshore Lint Havens is responsible for the content of this advertisement.”

Pundits and pollsters on the 24-hour news channels repeated the question, speculating on what else could be hiding in the sock. Electioneers predicted bad news for Panty. The Hose campaign office erupted in panic. Clothing from all across the dryer called in to ask where the lint was. Panty and her campaign staff scrambled to discredit the commercial. By the end of the meeting, they could only come up with one solution.

Panty Hose called a press conference and invited all the clothing of the dryer. She stood behind the podium and proclaimed, “I stand before you today to say these allegations are false. I have given all the necessary lint to the supply and I am hiding nothing in this sock. To prove it, I will show you.” She removed the sock from her leg and held it up for the witnesses. “You see? It’s empty. I am disgusted by that dirt-slinging advertisement and I call on my opponent to condemn it as well.”

The neko, dressed in a dark suit and wearing sunglasses, leaped onto the stage and made her move. “I’m with the Victoria’s Secret Service, and we just got a bomb threat! The terrorist hid the bomb in the sock! Everybody run!”

Panty shrieked and dropped the sock as the crowd of clothing ran for their lives. The neko dashed for her prized stocking and ran away. Panty deduced the deception just as the kitten disappeared into the panicking clothes. “Well played, pussy cat,” she groaned.

The neko, overjoyed to have a complete pair of socks again, bolted to the exit without looking back. She leaped through the dryer door and felt the cool air that pulled the sweat from her fur. She put on her socks and thought of her adventure in the dryer. “Hmmm… I wonder who won the election.”

RAMPAGE

In “This God, I,” I write of a fictional terrorist group called RAMPAGE (Revolutionary American Militant Patriots Against Government Enslavement). Although these villains were intended to be an exaggerated version of real homegrown right-wing extremists, it seems my portrayal of their fanaticism is becoming more true than I realized. From the Associated Press…

LUDOWICI, Ga. — Four Army soldiers based in southeast Georgia killed a former comrade and his girlfriend to protect an anarchist militia group they formed that stockpiled assault weapons and plotted a range of anti-government attacks, prosecutors told a judge Monday.

Prosecutors in rural Long County, near the sprawling Army post Fort Stewart, said the militia group of active and former U.S. military members spent at least $87,000 buying guns and bomb components. They allege the group was serious enough to kill two people — former soldier Michael Roark and his 17-year-old girlfriend, Tiffany York — by shooting them in the woods last December in order to keep its plans secret.

“This domestic terrorist organization did not simply plan and talk,” prosecutor Isabel Pauley told a Superior Court judge. “Prior to the murders in this case, the group took action. Evidence shows the group possessed the knowledge, means and motive to carry out their plans.”

One of the Fort Stewart soldiers charged in the case, Pfc. Michael Burnett, also gave testimony that backed up many of the assertions made by prosecutors. The 26-year-old soldier pleaded guilty Monday to manslaughter, illegal gang activity and other charges. He made a deal to cooperate with prosecutors against the three other soldiers.

Prosecutors said the group called itself F.E.A.R., short for Forever Enduring Always Ready. Pauley said authorities don’t know how many members it had.

Burnett, 26, said he knew the group’s leaders from serving with them at Fort Stewart. He agreed to testify against fellow soldiers Pvt. Isaac Aguigui, identified by prosecutors as the militia’s founder and leader, and Sgt. Anthony Peden and Pvt. Christopher Salmon.