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Suburban Worldsick Blues

27 May

by Roger White

 

With a tip of the hat to a master chronicler of the American age, it must be noted that Bob Dylan never lived in a 3/2/2 with central heat/air and two and a half mortgages during a time when, by all appearances, our society is on the verge of utter decay—all viewable with the click of a mouse or touch of a pad.

 

So I give you “Suburban Worldsick Blues.”

 

Perry’s in the Capitol, railin’ against abortion,

I’m lookin’ at my taxes thinkin’ it’s extortion,

The man in the trench coat shootin’ up the school halls

Says he got bullied so everybody must fall.

 

Look out, dad, the economy is bad,

God knows what we did, but the country’s on the skids.

 

You better duck down, turn page, watch out for road rage,

Another mass swhyhooting, another senseless rampage,

Sterling’s on his cell phone reminiscin’ ’bout slavery,

Miley’s twerkin’ onstage, scandalous behavery.

 

Look out, mom, Gotta stay calm,

Soldiers in Kabul dodging roadside bombs.

 

Get sick, get well, they’re laying off again at Dell,

Are we winnin’ whatever war, it’s gettin’ kinda hard to tell,

Presidenidiotst says our healthcare system’s unfit,

All Congress says is where’s your birth certificate?

 

Well, Hormel, GM organizin’ recalls,

Bad meat, bad brakes, pickets down at town hall,

Daughter’s college fees call for medical sedation,

Building border walls to stifle immigration.

 

Look out, pop, no tellin’ where it stops,

Younger daughter’s boyfriend working at a head shop.

 

Mortgage underwater, excess beer consumption,

Viagra wants to help with that erectile dysfunction,

The factonoworkry just made a Chapter 11 declaration,

School board says it’s gonna teach divine creation.

 

Text tweet online, your selfie looking so fine,

Kids in Bosnia steppin’ on old land mines.

Icebergs meltin’, droughts killin’ all the wheat,

Just global warmin’ lies of the liberal elite.

 

Well, get dressed, get stressed, face the day’s traffic mess,

Oops, your job’s just been outsourced to Bangladesh.

Don’t follow leaders, take pills for all the cedars,

Find yourself a new position as a Walmart greeter.

 

Look out, mama, you’re dyin’ from the trauma,

Increase yer Prozac dosage, tune in the dalai lama.

 

Well, jump down a manhole, filibuster gun control,

thebardThink I saw a shadow up there beyond the grassy knoll,

Headin’ to the car, another day in the loony ward,

Shakin’ yer head ’cause the vandals keyed yer new Ford.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

143a.

 

Just Chill: Most News You Can’t Use

29 Oct

by Roger White

You’re familiar with the old saying, “Don’t shoot me. I’m only the messenger.” To this I say pish and posh. This old adage doesn’t apply anymore. The messenger today IS the problem. The messenger—this insincerely smiling, hair-weaved, plastic-faced talking head—needs to be shot in the behind with a paintball gun, and his message needs to be torn up, stomped on, and burned to ash. Pish and posh, I say.

The messenger I’m pishing and poshing on, of course, is the media—namely, the national outlets: CNN, Fox, MSNBC, etc. Do you ever stop to wonder why your stomach is nervous and sour all the time now, why your heart beats out the bossa nova, why you fret and bite your lip bloody just sending the kids to the school bus stop? The media, I tell you. It’s the media. stop the pressesBecause of our nonstop over-exposure to the national news organizations’ sensationalistic babble, we have all come to believe, consciously or not, that our world has become a living hell. As each of us workaday folks tries so hard just to crawl out of bed each morning to keep food on the table, the electricity on, and our children on the straight and narrow, we have to combat that nagging, pecking sense of doom—that we’re only a mere happenstance away from grisly death, violent criminal mayhem, or worse, a government-led socialist agenda.

Two real, recent examples of headlines from CNN: “Weatherman Eats Cat Vomit” and “Teens Attack Mom; Plan to Eat Her Liver.” No lie. Did we truly need to know this? And did these teens plan this liver feast after watching the weatherman scarf cat puke? These kinds of “news items” are not merely useless—they’re harmful.

Every single cotton-picking day you have to digest (no pun intended) BREAKING NEWS of the latest multiple homicide, the most shocking tale of kidnap, abuse, and mistreatment, the most recent sordid instance of demented behavior (and sometimes this doesn’t even involve Congress) such as the headlines above. The thing of it is—and here is where you have to stop yourself and understand motives—the world really isn’t all that bad. Really, it isn’t. It’s the media’s job, however, to make you feel that way. It’s not CNN’s goal per se to give every man, moidahwoman, and child in America a massive case of peptic ulcers, but it is their job to make money. And gruesome, terrible, apocalyptic headlines mean more views, which mean more advertisers, which mean more money. With news on a 24-hours-a-day-eight-days-a-week cycle now, every second of the day we are fed the most grisly, horrific stories that these “news gatherers” can find—because that’s what they think we want to see.

But here’s the deal. We’re not going to hell in a handbasket; it just feels like it. Did you know, for example, that since the early 1990s, crime has actually declined in the United States and that current crime rates are no worse than they were in the 1960s? True, these stats come from the U.S. Bureau of Justice. The homicide rate in America has declined substantially since 1992 from a rate of 9.8 per 100,000 persons to 4.8 in 2010, according to latest figures. That’s still high, as far as the rest of the industrialized world goes, but, hey, in Russia it’s 13 per 100,000, and in Venezuela it’s 48 per. And nobody here commutes to Honduras, right? There, the homicide rate is 78 per. We’re practically a Buddhist monastery by comparison.

Here’s more: A research think tank known as the Millennium Project produced these eye-opening numbers in 2011:

• The average life expectancy worldwide rose from 64 years in the mid-1980s to 68 years today.
• Infant mortality worldwide has fallen from nearly 70 deaths per 100,000 people to 40 deaths today.
• Poverty, defined by the percentage of people living on less than $1.25 a day, fell from 43 percent of the world population in the mid-1980s to 23 percent now.
• The percentage of the world population with access to water rose from 75 percent to more than 86 percent.
• Secondary school enrollment rose from 45 percent in the mid-1980s to nearly 70 percent today.
• The number of major armed conflicts declined from 37 in the mid-1980s to 26 today.


Unfortunately, these kinds of numbers aren’t found on your average national news site now. In yukkkfact, if you ask me, the best, most useful news you can find these days is in your local, community newspaper. The little weeklies and bi-weeklies that actually cover neighborhood news, civic involvement stories, and human interest items that have nothing at all do with cats in microwave ovens are where you’ll discover “news you can use.” As far as Fox and CNN and all the rest are concerned, pish and posh, I say.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

I’m Blowing the Lid Off The Candy Desk

6 Mar

by Roger White

 

Oh, my cosmic cohort, there are so many secrets. So many insider goings-on that we, the average work-a-day peons, know nothing of. Woops, ended a sentence with a preposition there. I meant to say “so many shenanigans of the rich and powerful that we pee-a-day workons of which know so little.” Or something.

 

You know, we hear things now and again. We get these vague hints of the clandestine workings of the movers and shakers. Like the Bohemian Grove. Have you heard of the Grove? This is a private patch of forest in California where, every summer for a fortnight The Groveor so, presidents and industrial magnets and oil typhoons and such all gather to rub elbows and smoke cigars and urinate outdoors. Women aren’t allowed, presumably because they would ruin the whole pee-party milieu. Look it up if you think I’m joshing.

 

There are other such truths kept in the shadows. Hopefully, most of them don’t involve urinating outdoors. Ya know, stuff like Area 51; secret underground bases where alien races are kept as gold-mining slaves; the president’s ultra-secret attaché case; black helicopters; Skull and Bones; the Freemasons (not to be confused with the Freemansons, a cult that worships deceased Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson); etc. BUT…there’s one tightly kept secret I recently uncovered that will curl your ear hair. I don’t think even Alex Jones has gotten wind of this one.

 

It’s…

 

… The Candy Desk.

 

Yes. The Candy Desk. Unbeknownst to the common rabble, since 1968 U.S. lawmakers have kept a hidden stash of gum and jawbreakers and little butterscotch treats in a secret desk somewhere on the floor of the congressional chamber. The whole thing apparently started with a California senator named George Murphy, and for some reason, The Candy Desk has largely been in Republican hands ever since. That makes sense somehow. Ostensibly, the desk of delectability is accessible to both parties, but given today’s polarized political environment, I would imagine the Democrats are relegated to the The Desksecond-tier sweets—you know, the licorice and candy corns and all those off-brand pieces of drek you find in your Halloween bag. Meanwhile, I’ll bet the Repubs get the Dove bars and Milky Ways and all. It’s outrageous, really. I can accept the political infighting creating such gridlock that the nation’s economy ends up in total ruin, destroying millions of American lives—but I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit by while the political heirs of greats such as Ted Kennedy, Tip O’Neill, and LBJ have to chew on Smartees and Necco Wafers while the fat-cat Republicans hog all the Hersheys.

 

Anyway, this was not my major point. While tracking down the history of The Candy Desk, I found some other secret stashes—these hidden in the chambers and catacombs of many of our very own state legislatures. Take, for instance, the Colorado General Assembly in Denver. Did you know that in the Colorado House of Representatives chamber, there is—known to only lawmakers and a few insiders—The Doobage Desk. Yes. This is why, although there is still a political divide in the Rocky Mountain State, it consists mainly of debate over things such as naming the State Munchie. At present, the Dems favor Xtra Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, while the Repubs lean toward Caramel Kettle Korn.

 

There are others. In the State Capitol in Austin, you have The Ammo Armoire, for those forgetful lawmakers who may have left their sidearm bullets at home. The Florida Inside the Ammo ArmoireLegislature in Tallahassee has a well-hidden desk known as The Hanging Chad Hamper, where legislators can view with pride their state’s claim to national fame. The Mississippi State Capitol in Jackson houses The Dictionary Drawer, to be used to look up those pesky big words and spellings of high-falutin’ terms. In Sacramento, capital of the debt-ridden California State Legislature, they have The Coupon Cubby. This is a secret pile of two-for-one lunch deals at Arby’s and such for lawmakers working for a state on the brink of total collapse. Now, here’s an interesting one. In the lower Alaska House of Representatives chamber in Juneau, they have a well-guarded little cabinet known as The Binocular Bureau. Alaskan lawmakers dip into this now and again so they can view Russia, following the lead of that great Alaskan, Sarah Palin.

 

I’m thinking of starting a secret drawer of my own here at work. Known only to me and those like me, it will be accessible only through a cryptic passcode, kept by me. I’ll call it, say, The Smirnoff Shelf. Oh, wait. I already have that. Well then, skoal!

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.