April 2007

[As part of our never ending campaign to bring you more healing anger, we are always eager to add angry voices to our little cabal. This is the first article by the Angry Libertarian, and we’re sure this is only the first of many installments of freedom-loving, regulation-hating anger. —The Angry Staff]

Those of us who voted for George W Bush and Richard Cheney must, by now, have grappled with the truth about George Bush: Molly Ivins was right. George Bush is a shrub. A shrub at a time demanding leadership, brains, and competence. The lack of leadership and competence trickles down throughout the administration, starting with the Vice Incompetent.

Normally paragraphs like the above are followed by ranting about George Bush’s inability to pronounce nuclear, or his “illegal” war. But Angry Libertarians rank belief in “international law” with belief in the tooth fairy. Both are comforting, albeit fanciful, notions discarded as part of a successful childhood. Law without an enforcement agency is a sick joke, “a tale told by an idiot, after all, signifying nothing”. The war was authorized by the US Congress, even if some of our Congress critters have trouble remembering their votes.

But back to the Vice Incompetent. Let’s allow him to speak for himself:

  • “We will defeat that insurgency, and, in fact, it will be an enormous success story.” — Dick Cheney, June 24, 2005
  • “I think they’re in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency.” — Dick Cheney, May 20, 2005
  • “And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.” — Dick Cheney, March 16, 2003
  • “my belief is, we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators. ” — Dick Cheney, March 16, 2003
  • ” … there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.” — Dick Cheney, August 2002
  • “I’m the guy who pulled the trigger and shot my friend.” — Dick Cheney, February 15, 2006

So what do we have, other then a man I wouldn’t go on a hunting trip with? A Vice Incompetent who is consistently wrong, and when asked about the, ah, trend in errors saysWe do the best we can with what we know at the time.” Note the inability to say “I was wrong.” Even “We were wrong” would be an improvement.

Consider for a moment the matter of deciding how many troops to use invading Iraq.

  • “I would say that what’s been mobilized to this point, something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers” — Generic Eric Shinseki, February 25, 2003
  • “The idea that it would take several hundred thousand U.S. forces I think is far off the mark” — Donald Rumsfeld, Febuary 28, 2003
  • “General Shinseki was right that a greater international force contribution, U.S. force contribution, and Iraqi force contribution should have been available immediately after major combat operations.” — General John Abizaid, November 16th, 2006

We had an administration that not only wasn’t able to listen to the appropriate people, it was unable to think things through. What’s the downside to invading Iraq with too many troops? In 2003 their was no downside. The downside of invading Iraq with too few troops is obvious.

At a time when our country could use a competent leader, we have a shrub. Bush has had his strong points — pointing out that some victories would be “secret even in success”, that the struggle would be long early on, and his determination to win in Iraq, but here are a few things a competent leader would have done:

  • Ended “security” features that are merely security theater. For example, requiring valid ID for plane flights is silly. All of the 9/11 terrorists had valid IDs; they’re easy to acquire. Requiring IDs, however, is very effective at stomping out the secondary market for airplane tickets. Admiting to security theater would require admitting some unpleasant truths — for example the reason it is safe to fly is because anyone hijacking a plane after 9/11 will be taken down by passengers acting like a wolf pack.
  • Staffed the TSA with people competent enough to realize that their boarding pass/ID check is pointless, or at least come up with one that couldn’t be hacked by a graduate student.
  • Allowed air marshals to dress casually on 9/12/2001, not September 1st, 2006. It took five years to figure out that the guy in a natty suit who boarded before everyone else was the air marshal?
  • Commanded and staffed an Army smart enough to know it couldn’t get away with lies.

In short, Bush has failed in his obligation to preserve and protect the United States through simple inability. None of these items require great intelligence, or should be the subject of debate. Air marshals say they fit in better wearing shorts? Let ’em. Graduate students hack your boarding systems? Give ’em a job and a grant, don’t send in the FBI. It’s not that I think Bush personally ordered the air marshals to wear three piece suits, or sent in the FBI, but as the man at the top he is the man responsible.


One of our erstwhile Angrymen has challenged the techno-savy to come up with the design for a lightsaber. Being a somewhat techno-savy sort, I gave it some consideration.

The lightsaber is the weapon of the Jedi Knights and their battle against the Dark Side of the Force.

The lightsaber, according to the the Star Wars Databank, is a weapon with a handle which emits a beam of light, which can be used to deflect blaster (assumed energy) bolts, bullets, and when used properly, fence froissment and attaque au fer with the enemy Sith Lords. That last phrase essentially means that a beam of light can approach solidity when acting against another beam of light. Well—actually no.

The naive might conclude that, provided a powerful enough energy supply (located in the handle), that this might be possible, but light is composed of photons, which are bosons and behave with Einstein-Bose statistics. That is to say that you can stack as many of them as you want into as small of a space as you wish and everything is ok. Unfortunately, the Sith Lord’s lightsaber is also a bag of bosons and also has no problem stacking itself into the same space that your bag of bosons occupies. As a result of basic particle statistics, one lightsaber will always pass through another. So there goes the fancy fencing. Also, I am obligated to point out that energy blasters are also likely photons which obey Bose Einstein statistics. So no deflecting energy bolts either. Projectile weapons fare better.

Matter is composed of electrons and photons (and pesky little neutrons) which are fermions, i.e., they obey Fermi-Dirac statistics and as a consequence, no two of them can occupy the same energy state. Because of this matter has solidity and rigidity. Now a particle (bullet) careening toward your basic Jedi Knight, can be deflected by the lightsaber beam because the glob of fermions will have some coupling with the photons. The coupling is on the order of 1/137 so you need a really powerful beam of photons to create the scattering (most likely reverse Compton scattering), but at least it’s feasible. So Hollywood and George Lucas got it wrong (no suprise there).

Sorry, Angry Immigrant, can’t be done that way.

VT Solidarity Logo

Now he knew the truth that is known to all fighters, and hunters, and climbers of cliffs. He knew that even his animal life could only be saved by a considerable readiness to lose it.

G.K. Chesterton – The Ball and the Cross

As we reflect upon the tragedy at Virginia Tech last week, and mourn with the Hokies in response to a senseless act of violence which shattered so many lives, we are naturally treated to the garish spectacle of media hand-wringing and blame-finding. Unlike President Bush, whose speech to a mournful Hokie audience struck just the right note, we must listen to the bleating of media talking heads and pundits. And as these pundits talk about every possible aspect of the horrible events, we should pause to reflect upon the one clear lesson of this and every similar tragedy:

Cowardice Kills.

I am not primarily speaking here of the real heroes of the day, men and women who stood in doorways or classrooms to bar the gunman’s way or offer their lives for their fellows. Their virtue is heroic and courageous, and their sacrifices saved many. They could indeed show well the power of courage and how many lives can be saved by just one person willing to lay their own life down. Truly, they are worthy of better words than mine.

But such heroic courage would not be so needed if our society taught and learned basic everyday courage more effectively. Consider how this last outrage progressed:

A single gunman, armed with two pistols (one 9mm and one .22 cal) and a great quantity of ammunition, moved slowly and methodically through a building, entering classrooms and shooting people one at a time, sometimes taking aim to ensure head shots or otherwise make sure of his “kills”. Over the course of more than 10 but less than 30 minutes, he left a trail of 32 dead and almost that number wounded.

Who were these unfortunate victims? Some, as mentioned above were the very brave who confronted the gunman or stood in his way, delaying him and giving others time to escape. Some were simply unlucky, shot before anyone knew what was happening, or as they fled, or as they reached windows or other exits. But many, many of them were shot as they sought shelter under desks or meekly lying on the floor.

Let us be very clear: their deaths are not their fault nor their responsibility. That lies with the gunman alone. And there, but for the grace of God, go we. Unless we have been under fire, we cannot say with any certainty that we would not have done the same. But we can say, and must say, because lives depend upon it, that what they did was exactly the wrong thing to do. It is what our society, almost unconsciously, teaches us to do. It is what the average civilized person naturally thinks he should do. And it is exactly the wrong thing to do.

Against a rational attacker, such as a soldier of a Western power, or a policeman, or even a common thief, such abject surrender can often work. But against anyone bent on terror or destruction, it is a death warrant. And it is what signed the death warrants of so many that day.

A pistol is not an easy weapon to kill people with. It has poor range, is difficult to aim, and usually produces non-fatal wounds (killing by blood loss rather than immediate injury). All of this is made clear in the FBI’s classic study of the effects of handguns. Against a lone gunman armed with pistols, simply running quickly away is a pretty good strategy. Holding doors shut against the man is also quite effective, since pistols don’t penetrate very well. And, indeed, whenever a door was succesfully held shut against the VT gunman, his shots through the door were relatively ineffective.

Most importantly, whatever time the guman spends hunting down fleeing victims or trying vainly to get through a door is time he isn’t methodically killing more people. If the first few classrooms had consistently barred his way, and if everyone else had fled rather than meekly waiting, the death toll might well have been less.

And if those in a position to do so had fought back, the toll would have been less still. Here I’m not speaking of some super-commando, or even of a dedicated rush by a dozen men (though that would probably have worked well if it could somehow have been agreed to). But, as the guman moved through the building, he doubtless came to doors, corners, stairs, etc. Simply throwing heavy objects at him before running might well have delayed him substantially. Two or three people charging behind a thick table or attacking from multiple directions might have managed to reach him. One brave ROTC student did attempt to reach him, but—alone and unaided—he was killed before he could subdue the gunman.

Are all of these acts riskier than simply running away? Almost certainly. Are they riskier than cowering beneath desks and tables? Not at all.

Why then is courageous behavior not natural? While they may not win awards for design, human beings are definitely predators. So why no killer instinct? Because human beings aren’t governed by simple instinct. We learn behaviors. While it doesn’t always seem that way, kids and teens really do take the lessons they learn to heart. When we, as a society, socialize kids from early years to be passive or to respond to aggression in passive ways, that’s what we’ll get 9 times out of 10.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that in our Brave New World of the 21st Century, such a response is badly out of place. In a world where individuals have nearly unprecedented power to alter the world through technology, each individual must accept responsibility for defending his society. We can’t afford a culture of passivism or a society of sheep. We don’t have to embrace violence, but we do have to embrace courage.

At Virginia Tech, those who showed heroic courage were a shining few. They often paid the ultimate price. More, but not nearly all, showed natural courage, and usually gained their lives. But many, too many, reacted as they had been taught, passively. And, many times, they too paid the ulitmate price.

If we want to survive and flourish as a free society in the years to come, courage and action must be impressed into every citizen. Heroism will always remain rare, but we must produce the most fertile ground possible for it. And we must all do our part with courage, so that our heroes don’t have to take up our slack. Relying upon others to be courageous won’t work, not when you can’t afford the minutes or hours it will take them to respond.

Because the lone madmen aren’t going away, and as time goes on, their weapons will only get worse.

How would you like to make small untraceable donations to Al-Qaeda? Interested in supporting Terrorism and helping America’s enemies win? Then you’re in luck my friend! All you have to do is buy an SUV. That’s right, by purchasing a Sports Utility Vehicle, you too can be a terrorist. In the spirit of Regan’s Trickle-down economics, soulless American consumerism has brought you Trickle-down terrorism. Sure everyone needs to drive, and so some money from US oil purchases will end up in the hands of unsavory types, but by buying an SUV, you can ensure that you are funneling your hard earned dollars into terrorist hands even faster!

Before we really begin to dig into the issues here, I want to preface my argument by pointing out that some people need SUVs, or big trucks. Farmers in particular, who use SUVs and trucks as actual workhorses, are blameless, as are disabled individuals for whom sitting in a car causes discomfort or pain. These people are forced into using SUVs because of their jobs, or personal injuries. But these people are the minority. Most of the individuals who drive SUVs do so because they are hip, shiny and cool, and to help them keep up with the Joneses. After all, if your car isn’t as new and pointless as the one Chad and Buffy Jones just parked next door to your coastal McMansion, you might not be invited to the next shallow cocktail party they throw!

Given that over 25% of our daily oil imports come from countries with known or suspected ties to terrorism (and an additional 13% comes from Venezuela, a country none too fond of Western governments), we should be weighing our consciences to see if driving that new Ford Valdez is really worth the price. The average SUV uses 169% of the gas of a sedan does to move the same distance, and 281% of the gas a hybridized car uses. The cost of this useless inefficiency isn’t just to your wallet. The cost is paid by your children too. By wasting money on SUVs instead of the passenger car you really need, more money ends up in the hands of people who hate freedom.

But how much money ends up in the hands of terrorists each time you fuel up your good old SUV? It’s easy to ignore the costs when they’re just abstractions so I am going to tear away the curtain and force you to pay attention to the terrorist behind it. With the current US gas price of $2.87 and roughly 20 gallons in the tank of an average SUV, we’re talking about $57.40 for a full tank. Of that, roughly 45% of your money goes towards the oil producing countries, or $25.83, and of the money that ends up back at the sources 25% of it goes to nations with known or suspected terrorist ties, giving us the final amount of $6.45. Every time you fill up your SUV, you donate $6.45 to Al Qaeda. Based on DOE average yearly gas consumption, the average SUV driver donates more than $240 to Al Qaeda every year.

But $240 isn’t a lot of money right? Wrong. Your yearly donation to Al Qaeda helps to outfit 24 terrorists in Afghanistan with assault rifles. Or perhaps it will be used to buy 10 Improvised Explosive Devices in Iraq? Either way that SUV parked outside of your house right now means more innocent people dead every year. It is time to do our patriotic duty as Americans, and get rid of our SUVs, replacing them with fuel efficient alternatives. Stop trickle-down terrorism today!

-Angry Midwesterner

The winter sports here are drawing to a close – basketball, men’s volleyball, and local elections. I decided that I should pay more attention to the local governance of these simple folks who surround me, and perhaps that would unlock the secret logic the drives them forward in directions that are so unthinkable to a common-sense citizen in the old country. I’ve found that even in their local governance policies these people start with their heads in the wrong place.

Lately, the local politics of my quaint hamlet have stunk like horse manure. Oh, I would that that were only a figure of speech. Burbank, CA, for historical reasons, has an area of town where most of the houses have a horse stable attached. If you think people are strange when they’re way too interested in their pets, you’ve never seen horse owners. And nothing brings a community together like all sharing the same ridiculous interest.

When their quiet, peaceful neighborhood was threatened by the invasion of an evil big-box retailer, they banded together and mounted an All-American grassroots effort to show the overbearing city council that they meant business. Well, they meant business for the council that is – they didn’t mean business for the retailer. That, they were trying to prevent.

This sounds like a familiar enough story, except that this is California. This is Burbank. This is the Rancho Equestrian District. What would normally be cries of ‘The extra traffic will endanger the children in our little subdivision – think of the children’ became Californicated into: ‘There will be wine tastings, so drunken drivers will endanger us as we ride around the RanchoThink of the Horses!’ (Burbank Leader – sorry for the login)

The usual cries of our quaint little mom & pop shops will be replaced by boring huge store” were Californicated into: “it’s replacing a uniquely Burbank business” (The current tenant of the building to be replaced is Captions, Inc – providers of closed-captioning, credits, subtitles, and translations)

The semi-usual cries of “We don’t want that evil, socially irresponsible corporation infecting our town’s policy of social justice and low environmental-impact” ring somewhat hollow when the big-box chain store moving in is Whole Foods. Yeah. That Whole Foods – organic granola is always half-off.

Only in California would you have a ridiculous situation like this. The skeleton outline seems reasonable, but when you have a bunch of rich, homogenously white wanna-be ranchers in the middle of the LA sprawl whose idea of a grassroots effort involves have each one of their lawyers threaten to sue the city complain about the removal of an historic cottage industry of a closed captioning studio in order to bring in the evil big box retailer of fine organic groceries, wines, and other healthy foods, the odds that the folks back in the old country will believe me when I tell them are just astronomically low.

These are the people that annoy me on my walk to work. Their sprinklers are watering their little postage stamp lawns every day of the year. Their sidewalks are frequently covered in excess manure. And on days when I have to get up at dawn to hit the office early, there’s a little smart-aleck rooster next to my office who feels he has to remind me of that fact.

On the other hand, I’ve got no big need for a Whole Foods. I’ve got no dog in this fight. This is Burbank – the “normal” grocery store has a massive organic food section. If I need to impress a vegan, there are two Trader Joe’s within 10 minutes of here. If I badly need to locate something to eat that inconvenienced no animals, I know where I can find some well-watered grass.

I’m just an observer trying to make sense of it all. This is the biggest thing going on in town right now. In the old country we often saw reports of these people and their bickering ways spreading to national affairs. They would often try to cast their opponent as being the privileged favorite, then argue that everyone should only listen to the oppressed minority – establishing a tyranny of the minority. It’s interesting to see their methods turned on each other, and coming to a complete stalemate.

The developer ceded the latest round, but he ceded in a way that allows him to return next time stronger that they can possibly imagine. Possibly in a glowing ghostly aura. The glow might be due to the extra-healthy foods.

There has been a lot of hand wringing from the hippies lately about the attention given to the deaths at Virginia Tech, despite the fact that more people died in Baghdad on the same day. Quite frankly, those people need to put down their megaphones and pick up some common decency. I’m not saying that deaths in Iraq aren’t tragic, the ongoing war in Iraq is a horrible thing which we should be endeavoring to end to prevent the further loss of life. Context, however, is important.

These supposedly bleeding heart types are ignorantly pissing on the collective sorrow felt by many Americans and trying to make us feel guilty for the worry and anguish that these killings have caused us. But we aren’t the ones who should feel guilty. The context is important. Just as we would grieve more over the loss of a family member or close friend, than we would over the loss of soldiers in a far away war, so too do we grieve more for the deaths of people we or our close friends know than we do for Iraqi civilians. It isn’t callous of us, it is natural. Grief hits harder when those who die are closer to the those doing the grieving.

Just as NBC has trampled the memories of those slain at Virginia Tech by airing the atrocious final wishes of their brutal killer, so too are certain segments of the Anti-War camp committing horrible crimes against the dead by trying to make us feel guilty for our grief. That we as a country grieve more for those young men and women with whom we share closer bonds, than unknown civilians in a country far away, is only natural. We should feel no shame. We are after all, only human.

-Angry Midwesterner

This is a special section of the 12 Angry Men Blog where we celebrate the best Troll to be found anywhere during the past week. While there are many varieties of troll, ranging from the fuzzy-haired dashboard decorations to the waylayer of the Billy Goats Gruff, we enjoy a well-executed jabbing that leaves an adversary stammering for a response. Any moron can produce a flame—mere sewage dumped upon the city square—but to produce a good Troll is a work worthy of the celebration of men.

The Troll of the Week segment will be written frequently enough to be termed “periodic”, but the actual label “of the week” is merely idealistic ambition, and it is not to be taken seriously.

We must ask apology for the long delay in this feature, but as we have always said, we will honor no troll before his time. Only the most refined and extraordinary trolls will even be considered for our high office, and so we have been forced, reluctantly, to watch and wait.

But we wait no longer. At last a troll as arisen, striding forth as boldly now as he once did in defense of his nation. And though he no longer fights with weapons of steel and fire, he still does battle, fighting with speech and pen—and, as we shall show, occasionally with song.

Context of the Troll:

From time to time, every man is tested. Even one whose iron will was forged in the hellish crucible of the notorious Communist prison camps of North Vietnam. And, as we have said in these very pages, if anyone will try a man’s soul, it’s those trolls without peer, the Iranians. And if anything will try a man’s soul, it’s running for President for about the nineteenth time. I mean, sure, if you have the overwhelming arrogance and towering self-opinion of a John Kerry, you might weather it, but any normal man must begin to wonder if, perhaps, the electorate just doesn’t like him. And for a man who has turned to the classics in the past, perhaps the pressure simply could no longer be withstood but had to break free in song!

Execution of the Troll:

At an unsuspecting campaign stop in South Carolina last Wednesday, Sen. McCain was asked, not without reason, just when the United States would retaliate for Iran’s unceasing provocations. For whatever reason, instead of giving the same stock answer he’s doubtless given dozens of times before, Sen. McCain responded by singing, in his own inimitable style, a classic from the past:


(If you’re not the sort to take to McCain’s “unplugged” stylings, you can enjoy the original sound in a relatively new video here. To all these younglings that seem to think that McCain was directly ripping off a Beach Boys song, I’m sorry, he was ripping off a jingoistic rip-off of a Beach Boys song.)

Lack of original unauthorized copying aside, it was a masterful troll. The Iranians are doubtless quite annoyed (or worried, depending). The Democrats are scrambling all over themselves to appear outraged. The other Republicans really don’t know what to say. McCain’s urging everyone to simply develop a sense of humor. And the American people? Well, aside from the hippies and peaceniks, most of them find it pretty funny.

This naturally puzzles most of the world, because they don’t understand that Americans find jokes about massive bombing funny. (Consider how UNICEF’s tragic Smurf Bombing Ad was found incredibly funny by many US audiences.) Sad? Perhaps. Immoral? Maybe. But true nonetheless.

So here’s to you, Senator McCain, for understanding both your target audiences so well! May your troll catapult you into the spotlight for good or for ill!

For this inspired troll, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is awarded the coveted Troll of the Week, and will receive an honorary beer at the Man Lunch. I’m afraid any accompanying bodyguards or campaign workers must buy their own. And, if women, must sit at an adjacent table. (Unless they’re really hot, then probably both of these strict rules of the Man Lunch get thrown out the window. I mean, we have principles, but we’re not fanatics…)

An Important Note: Dishonorable Runner-Up: Alec Baldwin

Some may wonder why Senator McCain won this week and not Alec Baldwin. As these folks may point out, it would seem that trolling your own child is somehow more pure: more clearly narcissistic and less likely to bring you any benefit, than trolling a nation run by misogynistic, antisemetic, homophobic religious zealots who make the Klu Klux Klan look like Rotary Club members.

All true…and all irrelevent. We have standards here at the Angry Man Blog, and Mr. Baldwin broke both of them. First, his “troll” was intended for a private audience, and not for public consumption. No matter how little Sen. McCain expected his words to be broadcast, he said them at a public appearance and before cameras. Second, and far more important, he trolled his little 12 (11? he’s not sure so how can we be) year old daughter! For goodness sakes, people, that’s not the action of a troll, that’s the action of a douche!

Trolls don’t destroy the precious psyche of a beloved child. Well, they may, but that’s not their primary intent. What Mr. Baldwin did was to engage in the worst form of douchebaggery. He doesn’t deserve a drink at the Man Lunch, he deserves a harsh beating at the monthly M.A.D.D. Brunch. And, in closing, may I just say:

You are worthless, Alec Baldwin…

[We will not dignify Mr. Baldwin’s actions by linking to the heartrending transcript or audio of his phone message. If you like that sort of thing, you can find it on the Net easily enough.]

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