Dog the Pirate Hunter???

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(Please feel free to refer to the Pirate Glossary for all terminology)

Avast, ye picaroons! If landlubber Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) has his way, good ole American privateers will be set loose on ye wily pillaging Somali buccaneers and get all War of 1812 on yer booties. According to his yellow-tinged amateur YouTube video (seemingly recorded on a Betamax device preserved from the early 1980s in front of a motley assortment of reading material being balanced on a rickety bookshelf that is mounted on the wall of a faux-wood-paneled den in the Old Batty Cave), Ron advocates reinstating the archaic letters of marque and reprisal, last utilized in the early 19th century, to bring down these bilge-sucking blaggards.

Of course, things would have to be a little different these days. Privateers would no longer be able to possess the vessels and treasure they seize. In fact, the wealth of most of these renegade seadogs is no longer romantically secreted in chests full of golden doubloons destined to be buried in the briny deep, but gets wired into Swiss bank accounts as cold hard cash destined to be lavished on flashy sports cars, semi-automatics and saucy Somali wenches. Instead, our government would have to offer sizable bounties as incentives for capture. Much like the 25 million dollar one on the head of Osama Bin What’s-His-Name.

Blimey! On second thought, using a colonial-era policy to solve a 21st-century problem might not be so legally hunky-dory with the rest of the planet, especially if we unbeknownst employ a backwater Blackwater to flog alleged marauders with a cat o’ nine tails, feed them to the fish, or make them dance the hempen jig. Do we really want to trust these disparate conglomerations of ex-military, post-traumatic-stress-disordered servicemen, soldiers of fortune, and racist rednecks armed to the teeth (the ones they have left) looking for action outside the double-wide trailer park and five-and-dime to police international waters and be the minutemen of diplomacy? I mean I loved the A-Team too, but it was a TV show, not a model for global relations.

The African corsairs in question themselves consist mainly of local fisherman (the brains), ex-militia men (the brawn) and technical experts (GPS navigators). Many of them who, in addition to seeking independent wealth (73% of the Somalian population lives on a daily income below 2 dollars a day–with an estimated per capita GDP of $600/year for the entire country), hold a personal grudge due to the ten million tons of toxic waste dumped on their shores by European firms (causing highly elevated rates of radiation-related sicknesses among coastal inhabitants) and the 300 million dollars’ worth of illegal trawling and poaching that takes place in their territorial waters (the pirates themselves only accumulate about 100 million dollars in ransom annually). So it’s safe to assume they would rather visit Davy Jones’ locker than surrender. No quarter!

Shiver me timbers! It seems we have quite a quandary here. Do we really want to dispatch mercenaries to further muddy the waters? Then again, me hearties, dead men tell no tales.

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Taxing THC: Turning Old New York into New New Amsterdam

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Bollocks! How is that California, the crossroads of implants, spray tans and superficiality (Find Yourself Here–no thanks!), has a leg up on the Empire State, historical haven of beatniks, punk rock and Andy Warhol, on the possible legalization and taxation of Cannabis sativa? Where is our Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, calling for the replacement of the corner pusherman with an over-the-counter sale sanctioned by our own groovy, bearded, winking Uncle Sam (with a red, white and blue bong in one hand and a star-spangled hacky sack in the other)?

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I mean aren’t we Sodom to their Gommorah? Seriously, let’s get that sin tax a-rollin’! We’ve got a 1.2 billion-dollar budget gap just for the Transit Authority alone. Two-fiddy a ride is getting pretty ridiculous, especially for those post-Metrocard swipes when you realize you forgot your ID or mace and must return home to equip yourself properly (you never know when you might have to deal with state bureaucracy, a random bag check or a hostile homeless man in a state of psychosis who must be put down). You would think that our optically challenged governor (who was rushed to the emergency room late last year to alleviate severe pain associated with glaucoma) should certainly empathize with medical Mary Jane advocates’ plight enough to begin planting the seeds for the grow- houses of tomorrow. If he plays it right he could be NORML’s modern-day Davey Kushyseed.

Depending on the actual size of the crop (and I’m leaning towards the higher end here based on sales for Hot Pockets and Paul Blart: Mall Cop), nationally taxing the sticky icky could bring in anywhere from 2.4 billion to 31.4 billion a year (which states would get about one third of) according to economists and policy analysts. That’s enough to seriously subsidize our failing school system, healthcare for all… or launch a pre-emptive assault on yet another autonomous nation in the Middle East (that’s how we’ll have to pitch it to get the party pooper neo-conservative vote–apparently swilling bourbon, puffing on cigars, masticating red meat and nurturing an unrelenting xenophobic blood lust are All-American but smoking grass and preaching peace and tolerance are socialist, detrimental to the fabric of society and definitely do not do much to up recruitment for the military-industrial-complex-motivated attack machine–um, sorry, I was listening to War Pigs).

Back to New York. Being that as a state we traditionally consume more of the aforementioned organic hydroponic panacea (hell, we even have home delivery services here–no, I don’t have a number you can get!) we would therefore collect a higher proportion of taxes which could be used to shore up our deficits, re-build our ailing infrastructure, provide much needed raises for underpaid public servants and even make the fantastical tales of a future Second Ave subway line become a dank, underground, urine-drenched reality (although I think whatever lives and breeds on the Upper East Side should stay there, with the occasional Lincoln Town Car chauffeured trip to Barneys or Saks Fifth Avenue to stimulate the economy).

And think about what it would do for the tourist trade. Why should the dikey Dutch have a monopoly on specialty “coffee shops”? Hell, we could just dispense it from our Starbucks (there are two to three on every city block as it is). Really, who could resist a Venti Carmel Machiatto, Cranberry Bliss Bar and 1/8 of Mauwie Wauwie Combo? It would also increase traffic to all eateries from the trailer-trash-trodden Ranch One to the overly indulgent credit-card-maxing Il Mulino. Hello Euros! Best of all, with any luck it might actually put a stop to the endless picture-snapping at Ground Zero, on account of it being too much of a bummer! There really is nothing more reprehensible to a native New Yorker than some rube on hiatus from his hick town making rabbit ears over his gap-toothed Cheshire-grinning girlfriend (clad in matching, ill-fitting, street-hawked USA t-shirts) as if our dire tragedy is ride at Disney World. I mean you never see people yucking it up capturing a digital still with “the fam” in front of the levees that burst open in the Eighth Ward in New Orleans. Have a little respect, Silas!

Speaking of Disney, what better way to make the crass commercialization of Times Square less repugnant to the local populace? After all, in a slightly altered state it’s easier to suspend disbelief, cynicism and see it for the truly magnificent magical wonderland that city planners, marketing executives and licensors have painstakingly worked to simulate for the selfless sake of the bottom line.

Really, what are we waiting for? As a society we’re currently doing a good job of dismantling our out-of-date Blue Laws, how’s about mowing down the Anti-Green ones, shattering our antiquated puritanical shackles and moving forward into a slightly hazy but free-choice-filled future where we can choose to be as indulgent or abstinent as we want, individually, while everyone makes a tidy profit and the public coffers are filled to the brim. That sounds like America to me.

Aw, Nuts: The FDA Pistachio Scare Nightmare

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How’s about a nice hot fudge sundae with two big scoops of pistachio ice cream and a smattering of Salmonella? Wait a second! Acute abdominal cramps, projectile vomiting, debilitating diarrhea and sallow skin the color of the aforementioned frozen dairy treat doesn’t sound so appetizing on second thought. Also, if you happen to be frail, a senior citizen, a young child, or have a compromised immune system you might want to steer clear of Kraft’s Back to Nature Nantucket Blend Trail Mix… that is, unless you’d like to start singing Happy Trails (the delightfully infectious bacteria can cause fatalities in these delicate demographics). Jeez Louise! A death sentence hardly seems like the proper encouragement for the health conscious among our young, elderly and bed-ridden who happen to be nuts about deez nuts. Even astronauts orbiting the earth in our ramshackle International Space Station are at risk, as the microscopic contagion has recently been shown to become more virulent in a zero-g environment (best to stick with Tang and tortillas, spacemen!).

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It seems that the FDA done did it again! Or didn’t do it… what they’re supposed be doing, that is, mainly regulate and prevent widespread contamination of our food supply from harmful microbes and bacteria. That and be the tool of an overzealous Pharmaceutical Complex pimping products to alleviate ailments they themselves have created to make a quick buck off the public’s paranoia, hypochondria and dissatisfaction with their droll everyday existence (which usually includes lists of side effects more frightening than the symptoms being “treated.” Anal bleeding and sudden stroke? No thankee. I’ll mourn my kitty cat’s unfortunate demise sans the Dr. Feel Good pills, Pusherman!).

Lettuce, poultry, tomatoes, peanut butter and now pistachios… and that’s just the Salmonella, folks! Let’s not forget our friendly neighborhood fecal contaminator, E. Coli, that, all too recently, was found in spinach, ground beef patties and frozen pizza (affecting everyone from the patchouli-soaked vegan to the Sarah Palin-supporting soccer mom and munchie-craving stoner alike). And what pray tell is being done to protect us? Two million pounds of allegedly roasted pistachios have been recalled by Terra Bella, Inc. (the second largest processor in the nation) to determine the cause post hoc! As baklava lovers across this great nation go wanting and suburban Chinese restaurants are forced to frantically push the mango pudding (yuck!).

Perhaps its time for the FDA, which supervises 80% of our food supply (the USDA is responsible for the rest, mainly focusing on meat, poultry and eggs), to refocus its efforts from clean-up to prevention (so we may enjoy a nice crisp Cobb Salad or old-fashioned PBJ without worrying about running to the restroom to release our churning insides from an orifice on either end and subsequently survive surreptitiously sipping sickly tasting bubble-gum-flavored Pedialyte for the next 36 to 48 hours, praying our tummy won’t revolt and reset the whole rigmarole to the beginning).

One can only hope that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Kathleen Sebelius (Obama’s nominee for Health and Human Services secretary) will be successful in splitting the FDA’s drug and food safety obligations into two autonomous agencies so they can concentrate on heading off such catastrophes before they become part of our digestive tracts, if not, I guess we could always form hippie communes, raise our own organic produce and livestock, or intravenously feed ourselves from bags of glucose solution… but really, who has the time or inclination?

Operation Buzzkill: Random Drug Testing for the Unemployed

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Down on your luck? Pondering whether to scrounge up the rest of your life savings to pay next month’s rent or save it for a swell little secondhand Salvation Army tent you’ve had your eye on along with a month’s supply of Slim Jims and Ho-Ho’s, and cut your losses by moving directly into the brand spanking new little neo-Hooverville/Slumdog USA shantytown that just popped up on outskirts of your urban hood? Don’t you dare relax, forget about your woes and take a toke of that roach, buster, ’cause it looks like you might have to urinate in a cup or have some hair plucked if you want a shot at a future governmentally assisted supper. It seems that legislators in eight states are advocating that beneficiaries of Uncle Sam’s subsidized programs such as food stamps, unemployment benefits or welfare be required to submit to random drug testing (AKA Operation Buzzkill).

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It looks like the public safety net may morph into a straitjacket of sobriety. ‘Cause obviously everyone lacking a job in this vibrant economy is simply a do-nothing, good-for-nothing beatnik who’s just refused to get up the gumption to get a little dirt under their nails and sweat on their brow ridges, working diligently for a good honest day’s wages… not victims of a massive elitist swindle and prey to predator creditors that pick at the carcass of their dwindling assets while they precariously attempt to avoid the brink of poverty.

Logically, only the successful and affluent understand how to abuse substances properly and have earned the right to do so. Not everyone has the innate instinct of a Paris Hilton to be born a bimbo heiress to a vast hotel empire and be able to live life like its Mardi Gras 24/7 without any financial repercussions or underwear. Some of us are just struggling to get by and occasionally reach for a certain illegal natural organic glaucoma alleviator to simply relax or blur the edges of our non-luxury, horizontally mobile existences. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors cost a pretty penny after all and are not distributed gratis to the 45.7 million American citizens for whom the possibility of major medical resides in the land of Santy Claus and the tooth fairy (who does not provide dental by the way, no matter how many quarters you place under your Tempur-Pedic pillow!).

Let us also make no mistake that it’s those who partake of the sticky-icky that will be most prominently persecuted here. How many crack-heads or junkies do you know that have the patience, discipline and fortitude to diligently deal with the red-tape paperwork, Internet updates and/or automated touch-tone phone bank re-directions needed to collect the minimal money these services dole out? When every cell in your body cries for a fix you’re more likely to forgo all that banal bureaucracy and hurriedly hawk your bratty little niece’s iPod or provide sexual services to the kind gentleman who is nice enough to meet you in an alleyway in a frayed straw hat, tattered terrycloth bathrobe and flip-flops at 4 in the morning. Last I checked no one was taking food stamps for hypodermics or free-basing spoons either (and these guys generally tend not to be big eaters–although they are likely to have an excellent aptitude for speed talking or lethargically swaying in place without tipping over).

It’s also inevitable that some conservative critics will be prone to point out a loophole in my argument. Mainly the munchies… but should a few hardcore stoners abusing the system ruin it for the rest of recreational users who sporadically partake to decompress? Do they really represent that much of a serious threat to bankrupting the economy and national reserves of Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey Ice Cream? Besides most of them still live with their parents anyway (or eat most of their meal’s at Nana’s house) and are much too busy mastering the intricacies of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess on their Nintendo Wii’s to bilk the government out of Benjamins.

So if you are struggling to stay afloat, looking to alleviate your Depression depression and do not dwell on the righteous path of abstinence and salvation it seems the only other alternative is to put down that blunt and pick up some booze. That All-American wholesome government-sanctioned depressant that has provided the basis for so many violent domestic disputes, shattered childhoods and colorful bestselling, Oprah- approved memoirs. After all, no one is suggesting breathalyzers… yet.

Top Ten Alternate Punishments for the Iraqi Shoe Thrower

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So the Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi was finally sentenced this week to three years in prison for throwing his loafers at U.S. President George W. Bush during a press conference (and missing!). While his lawyers are busy filing an appeal, many critics are in an uproar as to whether the punishment fits the crime. As an official mediator for the new Middle East Peace Initiative (MEPI)–established five minutes ago during a hyper-caffeinated reverie in my one-bedroom walk up in the heart of Elmhurst, Queens (Facebook Fan Page forthcoming, folks)–I am personally proposing the following possible alternative punitive measures:

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1. Two years of indentured servitude as Dubya’s personal bootblack…and reading tutor.

2. Must walk barefoot anywhere he travels within the Middle East (no exceptions for piping hot sand, camel dung or depleted uranium dust).

3. From this point onward will only be allowed to report on discounted footwear (the dreaded Payless Beat).

4. Forced to work four years as an underpaid laborer at an undisclosed Nike Indonesian sweatshop as a gofer for underage co-slave workers (get coffee, change diapers, sweep up severed phalanges).

5. Obliged to lend his tootsies, at will, to any charitable Foot Fetish Galas (expected to show up in formal leather choker, spiked armlets and chain-link leash).

6. Five-year cobbler apprenticeship with Daniel Day-Lewis, in exchange for character study which will culminate in his portrayal in the forthcoming Martin Scorsese biopic: “Shoe Missed Me”: Muntadhar al-Zeidi’s Dark Sole. Leonardo DiCaprio will play Dubya (because of the instant Green Light not his undercooked acting chops).

7. Required to serve as a freelance foot fungus scraper/taster for various third-world podiatrists/witch doctors.

8. Expected to register and participate in an accredited Shoe-Throwing Anger Management Course where he will learn to sublimate his misguided shoe-chucking urges into wholesome non-violent activities such as basket-weaving, baking, poetry or perhaps even indignant Op-Ed pieces.

9. Has to complete compulsory training until he no longer “throws like a girl” and learns how to aim properly.

10. Is awarded Nobel Peace Prize.

Top Ten Earmarks for Progressive Liberal Lefties

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1. 60 million dollars to re-fund Project Bluebook (UFO research) to determine which planet Republicans transported Sarah Palin and Bobby Jindal from (obviously space aliens trying to approximate human empathy and folksiness).

2. 200,000 dollars to off Rush. That breaks down to: 50,000 OxyContin; 1,000 orders of Domino’s Cheesy Bread; 200 Havana cigars; 100 angry, underpaid illegal immigrant servants with a grudge; 4 infected tranny hookers; and 1 large African American male who sporadically jumps out in undisclosed dark alleys to frighten him. Any of which may lead to his most fortunate demise.

3. 300 million dollars to develop automobile prototype that runs on stem cells (Ford Fetus? Chrysler Le Zygote? GMC Blastula?). Pro-Choice=Pro-Environment.

4. 30 million bucks for Rod Blagojevich to take a powder (includes two million dollars for hairdo maintenance). Disappearing till the end of Biden’s second presidential term when he reluctantly returns, after finally blowing all the cash, to participate in the Surreal Life Season 30.

5. 100 million dollars for the September 2010 Oliver Stone Project. Tentative titles: “Walking the Dog… at Abu Ghraib,” “The Not-So-Great Pyramids,” “Saving Mohammed’s Privates“.

6. 500 million dollars allocated to begin the process of adding Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn’s faces to Mt. Rushmore. Sally Hemings’ countenance will also eventually be displayed, though only as a locket around Jefferson’s neck (might have to chisel a little bit off Washington’s shoulder, but it can work).

7. Five more million for Volcano Research…for live human sacrifices. List includes: Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz (AKA “the Evil Trinity of Death and Destruction”). In order to see if offering their blackened, barely mortal souls may actually appease the gods. Either way, it’s a win-win, just for sh*ts and giggles.

8. Five billion dollars to begin the nationalization of Whole Foods and/or Trader Joe’s. So that the impoverished child in Cincinnati has access to the freshest, organic broccoli rabe and Oatmeal Cranberry Dunkers just like the rest of us.

9. 50 million dollars to study the effects of early-childhood acting trauma on endangered chimpanzees forced to live with the elderly.

10. 15 billion dollars to disprove the existence of “God” or any other version of divine entity, which has helped to fuel hatred, genocide and war. Establishing evolution as a Law might be handy (theories don’t get the respect they used to; might as well be a lowly hypothesis we’re talking about when dealing with these backwoods crackers). Also an anti-Faith pill, so people stop “Leaping” into la-la land (see Kierkegaard).

Drinking Good for Depression? The Possible Repeal of Religious Repression

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There’s good news for the unemployed, hard-drinking, proletarian populace who have desperately lacked the opportunity to buy an ice-cold brew on Sunday. It looks like Blue Laws might be repealed for our very own Depression in a most unholy stimulus plan. Could this be the shot-in-the-mouth that millions of not-so-God-fearing-Americans need to get the back on their feet… stumbling and weaving to refill their snifters with some discounted muscatel from the local five and dime or bodega?

Following in the footsteps of Franklin Roosevelt, who chose to prohibit Prohibition and reintroduce spirits to, well, raise spirits in our country’s first foray into economic despair, many states are now advocating an end to what many boozers and businessmen alike deem antiquated puritanical pap. The Christian Right is not amused.

These so-called “Blue Laws,” currently enforced throughout many states in the ole Red, White and Blue, were initially created to impose certain rigid religious standards on the heathen masses. Most specifically that Sunday is the Lord’s Day of Rest and that thou shalt not swill a Makers Mark on the rocks or goeth shopping on such an exalted occasion. For the Lord apparently hateth shopping. It really geteth his goat. Annoying him to no end while he is trying to get some well deserved shuteye after a long week of ignoring the prayers of those suffering in dire poverty and desperation, and churning out Category 5 Hurricanes to smite the Gays. I mean, it’s not all conjuring up Adams out of dust in his own image, naughty no-no apple trees and satanic talkie snakes anymore, folks! He’s brutally busy. So no shopping on Sundays, please.

Especially for automobiles. That’s right, most fortunate for our bustling economy, thirteen states still adhere to the bizarre modern embellishment of forbidding the sale of cars on the Sabbath, much to the dismay of the Big 3. I am not referring, of course, to the Holy Trinity (the Father, the Son and–BOO!–the Holy Ghost) but the most unholy triumvirate of malfeasance (GM, Chrysler and Ford–Oh my!), you know, the ones with the big fancy corporate fly-flys.

Oddly enough the actual ritual of loafing about on the seventh day dates back to fourth century when Constantine (in his sun-worshippy days before he found Jesus) disseminated a dictum which read: “let all judges and people of the town rest and all various trades be suspended on this venerable day of the sun.” Hence the name: Sunday. Get it? So maybe the ole Christian Coalition can be convinced that letting these old outdated laws expire is actually a purging of Paganism, a renouncement of Helios the Heathen (evil god of carcinoma, melanoma and glaucoma). I doubt it, though.

According to Time Magazine, Jim Beck (the current prez of the Georgia Christian Coalition—who we’ll assume abstains from spirits unless they’re Holy) argues that:

When you’re facing a budget shortfall in the billions, the extra revenue from an added day of alcohol sales is just a drop in the bucket. His opponents, however, insist it is significant. “At least it’s a drop,” says Georgia Senator Seth Harp, who introduced a bill proposing local referendums on Sunday sales. “Maybe it’s even a cup full. But right now, I’d like to have a couple of cups full than nothing at all.”

I agree…perhaps even a tumbler of Tanqueray, a couple pitchers of Mojitos and some Mango Margaritas until our cups runneth over…and then over to the taco truck for two piping hot carne asadas–muy caliente por favor!

Seriously, though, can’t we all just tie one on for St. John?