David Turnley

The Economic Hangover

"In order for us to have the security we all want, America must get rid of the hangover that we now have as a result of the binge, the economic binge, we just went through."
- President Bush, in a speech at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, July 15, 2002.

President Bush’s peculiar metaphor on our economic state went largely unnoted. An early draft of the Birmingham speech, however, stretched the metaphor quite a bit further. I have obtained a copy of the original, written before Karl Rove’s edits. A full transcript is posted below.

In order for us to have the security we all want, America must get rid of the hangover that we now have as a result of the binge, the economic binge, we just went through. As a recovering CEO, I have, shall we say, a lot of experience in this area.

Sometimes America may wake up with a throbbing head, a pasty mouth and a foreign currency slumbering next to it. America must first ask itself two critical questions. One is: How did America get into this situation? Two is: How does America get herself out of this situation?

First things first. America must try to recall the previous night’s events. America may have begun the festivities innocently enough, sipping a small glass of debt while listening to Steely Dan and getting ready to go out with friends. No real danger there.

And then America pours herself a quick second glass before heading out the door.

Feeling good, America "accidentally" arrives early at the bar where she’s supposed be meeting a few friends. So she imbibes more debt. Then the friends arrive just in time to save her from a chatty, angry bartender named Yugoslavia.

Let’s take a close look at those friends. This will help us determine whether America is hanging out with the right or wrong crowd.

Mexico: Really trying to get his stuff together. And America wants to support him, but doesn’t want to give up her own good time, either. Good intentions, bad influence.

Canada: About as stable a friend as you could find. One of those guys that, when he gets drunk or high, looks and acts perfectly sober. He’s the one that goes jogging at seven in the morning even when he’s been up drinking until three. The type you turn to when you are on a really bad business cycle.

Russia: Moody as hell. Bitter about not being as pretty as she used to be. Becomes more incoherent as the night goes on.

South Korea: Nice, but a bit too eager to please. When everyone is doing shots, is always the first one on the floor.

Argentina: Dangerous. Your friends have wanted to set you up with this guy for a long time. A party animal. Has a loose fiscal policy. The kind of guy you would definitely not bring home to the Fed.

Back at the bar, pitchers of debt give way to shots of deficit spending, which evolve into a game of G8, where everyone at the table links arms and knocks back whatever their neighbor has ordered.

Against what’s left of America’s better judgment, she agrees to go to another bar. There, Russia runs into an ex-boyfriend. (You don’t remember his name. Sounded something like Kroohkistan.) The ex invites everyone back to his place. He’s got a surprise.

The surprise is a bag of primo Colombian inflation. The mere sight of the luscious powder opens America’s tear ducts and dries her mouth. Whatever good sense she may have had has long since been drowned by the pints and pints of debt.

Doing the first line is like getting back together with her favorite boyfriend. Why did you ever part? At the first hint of deflation, America does another fat line. And another. And another.

The rest of the night is just a collection of random, blurry images. Bank reserves spilled on the floor. Regulations in the kitchen. Monetarists coming and going. Supply-side weirdness in the bedroom. Socialism in the damp, dark basement. Massive deficit spending. Being face down in the bathroom in a pool of your own Gross National Product.

And then America wakes up. Argentina -- at least she thinks it’s Argentina -- is half-naked and drooling beside her. America is filled with guilt and regret. She swears that this is it. This is the last time this will happen.

And the economic cycle begins anew.

Thank you and God Bless America.

David Turnley (davidturnley@hotmail.com) writes humor for AlterNet.

Radio Free Iraq

Last week, it was reported that the US is considering building a radio transmitter to broadcast programming in Iraq with the intent of fomenting opposition to Saddam Hussein. The $1 million tower would be built in either the Kurd-controlled area of Iraq or one of the less evil sections of Iran.

While the Pentagon insists that broadcasting would be administered by existing Iraqi opposition groups, rumors have persisted that it will actually be run by the Office of Strategic Initiatives, which exists only in the ether of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's denials.

Below is an outline of a recent test broadcast:

6:00 am "Revelry" played on an 82-string Qanoon.

6:05 am One of the 7500 pages generated by Vice President Cheney's secret energy task force is read, in Arabic, to satisfy the General Accounting Office's demand that the records be made public.

6:30 am Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle loudly proclaims his tepid, questioning support of Radio Free Iraq.

7:00 am "Fa'iz and Abd-al-Sami's Morning Zoo" radio show. Hijinks include hilarious prank calls to Saddam's palace and setting oil wells on fire.

11:00 am Chris Matthews yells and interrupts his way into the hearts and minds of Iraqis.

Noon "Recipe of the Day." Organic Approval Ratings cooked in a low-expectations reduction sauce, wrapped in red, white and blue cheesecloth. Serve with caramelized fear, breaded truth and herb-infused blame.

1:30 pm Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle will remind people that, while he is indeed supportive of the Radio Free Iraq initiative, he's not sure if it's really the right thing to do. He then offers tips on how to cut your own hair.

2:45 pm Failed attempt to lure Saddam out onto the streets by announcing a nationwide game of Kick the Can.

4:00 pm "Presidential Show and Tell." George W. Bush reads the stamps on his passport and tells us all about the neat places he's been.

5:00 pm Presidential adviser Karen Hughes reads the "official" White House transcript of "Presidential Show and Tell," highlighting the reflective and insightful comments that no one but Hughes had heard.

7:00 pm Cheney's pacemaker temporarily interferes with broadcast signals. The people of Iraq listen to the vice president's delicate heart, the sound of which bears an eerie resemblance to the panicked wheezing of illegal immigrants running from border agents in the dead of night.

10:00 pm Distant echoes of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle's gentle yet firm criticisms of President Bush float through the dry desert air as the people of Iraq drift off to sleep.

Midnight "Talk Dirty with Helen Thomas." The dominatrix of the White House press corps takes calls on all subjects sexual, including: Achieving simultaneous points of order, lobbying your wife's minority whip, bilateralism, filibustering your way to a mind-shattering referendum, and the separation of church and state.

David Turnley writes satires for AlterNet.org.

Headlines from the Office of Strategic Influence

Last week, news accounts revealed the recent formation of the Office of Strategic Influence (OSI), a government agency designed to unite various propaganda programs within the CIA, FBI and Department of Defense. The most controversial function of OSI is a policy to influence opinion in both friendly and unfriendly nations by distributing deliberately misleading information to foreign news outlets.

In what appears to be the result of the first activity by OSI, numerous news outlets -- in both friendly and unfriendly nations -- reported Monday that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is now mulling the possibility of disbanding the brand new office because of negative publicity. On NBC, Rumsfeld went so far as to insist that, "The Pentagon does not lie to the American people. It does not lie to foreign audiences." (His tanned, chiseled face then broke down in a fit of laughter before he insisted on "buying the next round.")

Just as Rumsfeld's Mobius strip of truth and delusion tightened its slippery grip on the newswires, I received an anonymous fax listing some of the OSI's proposed headlines and subhead along with their targeted publications. Like Dark Matter, the headlines exist only in theory and can never be verified. Nonetheless, the samples below clearly indicate that the administration seeks not only to use foreign and domestic media to sway opinion regarding the war on terrorism, but will also be trying to influence the general perception of America throughout the world.

Office of Strategic Influence Does Not Exist
Heart aglow, Rumsfeld promises to be honest forever and ever and ever as Orwell does triple toe/double flip combo in his grave (New York Times)

Saddam, Khamenei, Kim Jong Il Photographed Playing 'Go Fish'
Weakening "Axis of Evil" on display as fight breaks out when Kim demands Hussein's jacks (Seoul Sun)

New Study Finds Americans Not As Bad As They Seem
"Great Satan" now refers to delicious tofu-like product (Tehran Tattler)

McDonald's Food Found To Be Delicious, Healthy, Uniquely French
Passez moi les pommes frites, s'il vous plait (The Disaffected Parisian Socialist Almost-Monthly)

President Bush Eager To Learn Intricacies Of Our Culture
American leader's thirst for knowledge leaves everyone impressed, exhausted (all newspapers)

Loud Explosion Heard Last Night Was Not American Bomb
Dead civilians later found to just be real sleepy (Baghdad Times)

Afghan Body Count Remains Low
New super-smart bombs kill only bad people (Washington Post)

Modesty Surpasses Entertainment As Top US Export
But we still have a lot to learn from the colonies (London Gloom)

Let's just hug and forget any of this ever happened (Iraq Post-Intelligencer)

David Turnley (davidturnley@hotmail.com) writes satire for AlterNet.org.

The Voluntary Nation

Further asserting his opposition to the Kyoto Treaty, which would drastically reduce global air pollution, President Bush recently announced his administration's alternative to the popular accord. Although the White House does not officially acknowledge the greenhouse effect and his country's role in it, the administration does feel obliged to cloak their apathy in action's clothing. Thus, a plan was hatched to "urge" corporate polluters to reduce emissions voluntarily. (This comes on the heels of the creation of USA Freedom Corps, a White House effort to encourage citizens to devote 4000 hours -- about two years -- of their time to volunteering.)

To Bush's supporters, this is another component of the president's call to individual and corporate responsibility. But others say it is merely a symptom of what is increasingly coming to be known as the "voluntary presidency."

The administration has made clear that volunteerism will continue to be a theme throughout Bush's tenure. Numerous other plans are in various stages of development, a few of which are outlined below.

- Demands on corporations and their auditors will be lessened, making accuracy in financial statements strictly voluntary.

- President Bush is prepared to urge Osama bin Laden to surrender voluntarily and help revive lower Manhattan's sagging economy by volunteering at "M'Lady's Big & Tall Shoppe."

- President Bush contends that if people get to keep more of their own money, their wealth will increase, which will prompt them to spend more, which will, in turn, activate an inert economy, which will then create more wealth and push people into the upper tax brackets, allowing the government to increase defense spending while adroitly avoiding a return to deficit spending. To help augment this perfect process wherein the snake eats its own tail, tax payment will become voluntary.

- Vice President Cheney has said that he will release, on a voluntary basis only, the names of the executives and their respective corporations that help define the administration's policies.

- Immigrants (legal and illegal), foreign nationals, naturalized citizens and persons born in the US may volunteer to have their fingerprints, retina patterns, DNA makeup, hobbies, proclivities, addictions, fears, turn-ons and turn-offs stored (free of charge) in a government database. Those who fail to volunteer will be deported to Florida.

- In an effort to foil the campaign finance reform bill recently passed in the House, the White House is about to release its own plan to clean up the election process. The administration is expected to advocate a proposal that would allow candidates running for federal office to voluntarily forego all soft money donations. Under the White House bill, those same candidates would be encouraged to lose to better-funded opponents or simply not run at for office at all.

David Turnley (davidturnley@hotmail.com) writes satire for AlterNet.org.

State of the Union Rough Draft

An audiotape of President Bush practicing Tuesday night's State of the Union speech was anonymously messengered to me just hours ago. While it is an obvious early draft, it appears to have been written -- or even improvised -- by the president himself. Here is a transcript of the tape:

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President (wherever you may be), members of the 107th Congress, distinguished guests, Fluffy, Kenny Boy, my fallow Americans:

I'm real sleepy, so I'll keep this short. My mother always told me to chew my pretzel before I swallow.

(Bush imitates raucous group laughter, complete with echo-chamber effect)

Okay, okay, calm down. It wasn't that funny!

I stand here before you as a proud American, a proud president, a proud father, a proud uncle. In the past few months we have seen what makes this great country so great. We have stood up to fear and said, buy more stuff!

We have stood up to evildoers and said, If you don't stop trying to kill us we are going to stop sending you weapons!

We have stood up to corporate criminals and said, Next time, don't get caught!

(President imitates a standing ovation)

Shut up, you powerless little weasels.

I'm kidding.

No I'm not.

Yes I am!

As America returns to its routine and the wake of horror ebbs, we all carry painful memories with us. But some have endured more pain than others. Although the great tragedy has touched us all, people like Linda Lay -- who is here with us tonight -- have been made to suffer the most.

Don't cry, Linda. America will wipe your tears.

Linda's husband Ken embodies what it means to be an American. Ken was one of the heroic figures that led the charge out just as everything around him was collapsing.

Although he could not save everyone -- in fact, he was only able to help his closest friends and associates -- he nonetheless personifies my own definition of patriotism.

(18 minutes of snoring ensue.)

On a closing note, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank my administration. Donald Rumsfeld, thanks for being such a charming asshole. Condi Rice, thanks for being a black woman. Colin Powell, thanks for being a black man and for finally learning to keep your opinions to yourself when they don't coincide with what everyone else thinks.

And a special thanks to Vice President Cheney. I miss you, Mr. Vice President. I implore you to come out of hiding. I saw you on TV last weekend. I worry that those extra pounds you have put on in the dark caves of Virginia will weigh heavy on your heart. Please take care. You are making this great country nervous. You are making me nervous.

I'm feeling woozy, Mr. Vice President.

(Sound of presidential head hitting presidential floor.)

(End of tape.)

David Turnley (davidturnley@hotmail.com) writes satires for AlterNet.org.

How the Military Tribunals Will Really Work

President Bush recently issued an executive order allowing US military tribunals to try foreigners suspected of terrorist activity. This act is considered somewhat controversial given that military tribunals have different criteria and methodology than the constitutional jury system, such as allowing hearsay as evidence and rendering guilty verdicts within a reasonable doubt.

Below is a list of some of the rules and regulations for the military tribunals as outlined by the Bush administration:

-- Trials will be held at Tribal Council, with Jeff Probst presiding.

-- The defendant will be sworn in by laying his hand on a copy of the "How to Disarm a Charging Afghan on the Number 6 Train" issue of Jane's Defense Weekly.

-- The defendant will not be allowed to "speak," "cough" or "scratch" during the trial.

-- If a lawyer cannot be found for the defendant a suitable chimpanzee will serve as counsel.

-- The defendant's counsel must have a doctorate in organic chemistry.

-- The defense shall never wake Judge Probst.

-- The prosecutor must be present for all conversations between the defendant and his lawyer/chimpanzee.

-- Justice and fairness will be pickled together in a mason jar beneath the front porch.

-- The defendant must provide a list of foods to which he is deathly allergic.

-- The defendant will remain in custody until the correct verdict is rendered.

-- The defendant must demonstrate his ability to hop on one foot for three (3) hours.

-- The defendant must demonstrate his ability to hang from a noose for thirty (30) minutes.

-- It is recommended that the prosecutor have a nicely cut jaw and a strapping demeanor.

-- The word "legitimate" will be understood to mean, "Being in accordance with loosely established patterns and standards as determined by REDACTED."

-- In the interest of national security, all evidence will be kept from the public, the media, the defense and the court.

-- Each day, the defendant must provide the court and prosecution with fresh lemonade, sweetened to perfection.

-- The defendant will not know that he is on trial.

David Turnley is a writer in New York City who visits the lawyer cage at the Bronx Zoo at least once a week.