Tag Archives: ahmadinejad

The Impact of Santa Claus on Afghanistan’s Presidential Election

In the past few weeks, we’ve heard from Americans who are afraid of what’s happening in this country.  People are mad (and confused) about healthcare reform.  We’re concerned that the administration is leading us down the wrong path. With a government full of communists, illegal immigrants, Nazis, and Kenyans, perhaps our fear is justified.

Well, on the day of the Afghanistan presidential election, here is one more group whom we should fear: men with beards.

Yup, beards.  As in, chin warmers, mustache buddies, and neck rugs.

ahmadinejadWhy should we fear facial hair?  Personally, I believe that beards reflect poor judgment.  It’s coarse, it gathers crumbs, and it rarely makes one more attractive.  It also seems terribly uncomfortable: especially in the summer, I imagine it’s like wearing a fur hat around your face.  (If Santa Claus lived in Miami, he wouldn’t need a beard.)  So naturally, people who choose to have beards are either a) irrational, b) trying to hide something, or c) preparing for Christmastime.

nobeardMy beard theory is grounded in strict empirical evidence.  For example, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a world leader with a beard.  Barack Obama doesn’t have one, Gordon Brown doesn’t have one, and Angela Merkel (hopefully) can’t grow one.  I could think of only one significant bearded world leader, and that’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the crazy President of Iran.  (See?  Beard = bad judgment = psychotic dictator of Iran.  The transitive properties of mathematics don’t lie.)  If you think it’s a cultural thing, just check out the clean-shaven faces of other Muslim leaders: Zardari of Pakistan, Talabani of Iraq, and Mubarak of Egypt.  And while Kim Jong Il proves that beardless men can be psychotic dictators too, it’s never a sure thing unless you have a beard (see below).

bharrisonAre there exceptions to the rule?  Of course.  But at the very least, having a beard is just bad luck.  The last U.S. president to have a beard took office over a century ago.  Unsurprisingly, Benjamin Harrison (1881) is probably one of the most obscure presidents ever.  Before him, James Garfield had been the most recent President with a beard.  Out of 47 U.S. presidents, only five had beards, and both Lincoln and Garfield were shot and killed.

afghanistan copyThis is what makes the Afghanistan election so troubling.  Two of the three top contenders in the race have beards.  Incumbent President Hamid Karzai has overseen his corrupt regime with a full face beard.  Abdullah Abdullah, a former Afghan foreign minister and eye doctor, has a rapidly graying beard and very few friends in Washington.  The only beardless contender is longshot Ashraf Ghani, who has a Ph.D from Columbia, a resume that includes a stint at the World Bank, and a puff piece in the New York Times.

So, Afghanistan, what’s it going to be?  Five more years of furry faces, or a pick that will shock the world?

beardstimeless

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Aliens for World Peace

I feel sorry for humanity sometimes.

tricycleI feel sorry when I hear that a Hispanic woman’s voice should only be used to enforce the “immutable” laws written by 300-year old white men. I feel sorry when I hear the term “world peace,” which now serves solely as a popular chant for beauty queens, and a punchline for stand-up comedians. I feel sorry when a tricycle needs to be locked up on the streets of New York City, because someone is afraid that it will get stolen.

I am sorry for all of these threats to humanity: for our divisive politics, for the wanton hate in the world, and for a tumbling economy that would drive thieves after three-wheelers.

But, I have a solution.  A solution that will boost our economy, bring people together, and elevate our relations with countries around the world:

Bring on the aliens.

Yes, aliens. Imagine flying saucers, little green men, and Joan Rivers’ face.

An alien attack on the White House brought people together in the movie Independence Day

I’m serious here.  It seems that most of the world’s troubles derive from our human nature to seek a common enemy.  So, think about it: The guys running Area 51 call up their alien pals and say, “Come on in!”  Thousands of alien spaceships fly through the hole in the ozone layer created by global warming. These aliens are smart (since they have spaceships) and angry (since they’ve been on a very, very long road trip with no rest stops).

Americans are soon alerted about the alien invasion, and boy, we are afraid. Afraid, and mad, because these damn spaceships are blocking satellite reception for DirecTV.  Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell immediately deliver a joint speech about togetherness in the face of adversity. Sarah Palin enchants us all with a story about how she can see outer space from Alaska. At the same time, a modern-day New Deal is put into place, creating thousands of jobs for ordinary Americans to build alien entrapment plants and spaceship bombers.

A U.N. coalition is quickly formed to fight the aliens, whose spaceships are now flying all over the globe.  Kim Jong Il offers up his arsenal of nukes.  Ahmadinejad  starts pumping oil to support a new military.  And given that America is still the global leader in science, technology, and alien objects (this is where Joan comes in), we are tasked with spearheading the charge.  After a rousing speech by Bill Pullman, Will Smith leads the first group of alien freedom fighters out in space.

Bound together by fear, and a renewed belief in our collective humanity, we shed our ideological differences and stand hand-in-hand with our human neighbors as we watch the fireworks above.

Of course, this is assuming that the aliens actually want to attack us.  Instead, if they are coming in peace, then it would seem rather inhumane to mercilessly eliminate them…  But if aliens can bring us (human) world peace, then I say, bring us the aliens.

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Dictators… They’re Just Like Us!

I often wonder what our society would be like if people actually cared about politics around the world.  Thus, I propose a new theme for the next issue of Us Weekly; let’s keep it entertaining, but let’s also make it educational as well.  So instead of the 12th cover featuring Jon & Kate, we thus present… Us Weekly: DICTATORS!

DICTATORS-SHADES

It’s always easier to hide shadiness behind shades.  Pinochet ruled Chile from 1974 to 1990, with democratic elections happening after he left power.  Thus, if Us Weekly asked 100 readers in Times Square “Who wore it better?”, the anti-Pinochet respondents would be summarily dismissed.  On the flip side, similar to his 2009 re-election, Us Weekly would likely confirm that ailing North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il won 99.9% of the vote.  Of course, this would be reported by the Korean Central News Agency, which is run by the government.  Faux-democracy lives! 

DICTATOR-FLAG

These men are definitely representing their country… in life AND death. Robert Mugabe is the current President of Zimbabwe.  In 2008, his party lost the initial presidential election with just 43% of the vote… so, no, Mugabe did not wear it better.  However, he refused to concede, and after a wave of violence, Mugabe won 86% of votes in a run-off election to remain President.  Mao Zedong ruled Communist China for over 30 years, from 1943 to his death in 1976.  His portrait still hangs over the Tiananmen gate, but let’s be honest… he wasn’t a pretty man. 

DICTATORS-FASHIONPOL

So, is camouflage “in” again?  Omar al-Bashir is the current President of Sudan, and has been in office since 1993.  With this picture of him, is it surprising that he’s married to his cousin?  To the right of al-Bashir, Pervez Musharraf served as the President of Pakistan from 2001 to 2008.  Musharraf’s regime as “dictator” was not as extreme as some of the other dictators in this issue, although his mustache means business.  Lastly, Hugo Chávez also may not be considered a true “dictator” since he’s been re-elected since he became President of Venezuela in 1999.  However, he’s on this list because Wikipedia cites him as being a “threat to democracy in Latin America”.  If it’s on Wikipedia, then it’s obviously true.

DICTATORS-BEARDS

Some quick facts about these bearded beauties… Genghis Khan: Born in the 12th century Mongolia, Genghis Khan took over several parts of modern-day Asia before mysteriously dying at age 65. Fidel Castro led the Cuban revolution and ruled over Cuba for nearly fifty years; today, his son has taken over for him as President, while Fidel shops online for retirement homes in Florida.  Saddam Hussein grew out a rather unbecoming beard after he was captured by U.S. forces in 2003; he was later executed for crimes committed when he ruled Iraq.  Henry VIII was not a dictator, but instead, the King of England in the early 16th century; he is on this list, however, because he managed to kill two of his six wives.  Ivan the Terrible: Ivan was the czar of Russia for most of the 16th century…and oh yeah, he killed his own son.  Just one, though.  Not as terrible as Henry VIII, eh?

DICTATORS-JUSTLIKEUS

Well, to be honest… they’re really NOT just like us.  Josef Stalin led the Soviet Union from 1922-1953, but he didn’t hug too many babies in his time; instead, it is estimated that his policies caused more than 20 million deaths during his tenure.  Benito Mussolini was Italy’s fascist dictator who ruled for over 20 years until he was captured and killed by Communists in 1943.  And lastly, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the current crazy President of Iran who recently “won” re-election.  Ahmadinejad has set off waves of criticism for his anti-Semitic rants, his claim that no gay people live in Iran, and his anti-Western attitude as a whole.  But, is it possible that there’s a softer side to Mahmoud

If we can pull this off in Us Weekly, I can foresee a whole new breed of political news / entertainment.  Hey, having Rod Blagojevich’s wife on TV is a small step in the right direction.  So we’ll start with Us Weekly, and then set our sights on the news organizations themselves: “Next, on E! True Hollywood Story…Ahmadinejad and friends: Where are they now?”

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The Commute to Work: A Reflection on Mortality

It’s 7:03 AM, and I’m out the door of my Midtown apartment.  I wave at the doorman, bound down the steps, and start my journey to the wonderful land of work, work, work.  Unlike many New Yorkers, I don’t wear headphones on my morning walk.  My walk is an excuse to travel with my thoughts, sans the distraction of Lady Gaga imploring me to dance.  I think about my job, my personal life, and the latest news… but mostly, I think about what I want to get for breakfast.  Thus, my career anxiety is often interrupted by the everlasting muffin vs. bagel debate.  By the 9th avenue intersection, muffin usually wins. 

pigeonAlong my usual route, I sidestep many of the treasures of New York City.  Outside of 53rd street, there is always at least one food product that has made its way into the road.  One day it looked like a tub of mac and cheese.  Another day, it appeared to be some kind of chili.  My curiosity never gets me too close to the mystery slop though, mostly because a pack of pigeons is constantly steeped in the mess, devouring its breakfast.  The sight of winged rats picking at day-old mashed potatoes is both horrifying and humanizing: horrifying because it’s gross, but humanizing because it makes me glad I’m not a pigeon.  (I did some research, and my pigeon aversion is justified: urban pigeons only live for 3-5 years on average.  I’d guess that obesity contributes to their short life span as much as reckless taxi drivers.)

Unfortunately, my encounters with pigeon folk don’t end on the mashed potatoes corner.  Across the street from the Midtown North Precinct of the NYPD, there is a flock of pigeons that sit along a row of fire escapes above the sidewalk.  Because cop cars are parked outside the precinct, the walkable sidewalk space is very narrow.  There are always a few unknowing pedestrians who walk directly underneath the pigeon latrines.  I narrowly missed becoming a target when a dazzling white drop splattered a few feet in front of my shoes.  So now, I just walk through the middle of the street, instead of risking it on the brightest sidewalk in New York.

gwbridgeBy 7:09 AM, I reach my shuttle stop on a corner outside of a McDonald’s.  The shuttle picks up every day at this corner, to drive all us Manhattan-based employees into New Jersey for work.  So at 7:10 AM, I climb into an unmarked white van and sit uncomfortably close to co-workers.  The shuttle driver weaves through West Side highway traffic, honking, cursing, and checking text messages.  One shuttle driver managed to swill a gulp of Listerine and spit it out while still navigating the road.  The passengers hide our fear by making small talk about the weather and swine flu, although more than a few can be seen with their eyes closed tightly, just hoping that it’ll all be over soon.  

 Around 7:30 AM, we turn onto the George Washington bridge, the gateway between Manhattan and the dirty Jerz.  At this time, our shuttle driver reaches for his Bible, which he keeps in a cupholder.  He holds onto the Bible for the entire length of the bridge, then puts it away once we reach the other side… about two minutes later.  Apparently divine intervention is not needed for Jersey.  But the rickety shuttle keeps us all praying.  With every lane change, I reflect on my mortality as if I were a potato-fattened pigeon: Well, I’ve lived a happy life (shuttle swerves).  My parents would be proud (car honks).  I hope they use my latest Facebook photo at my funeral (obscenities hurled).

Our shuttle finally turns into the office parking lot at 7:40 AM, discharging a group of relieved passengers and a shuttle driver with minty fresh breath.  One might question why I, along with so many others, put up with a commute filled with pigeon poo and pious shuttle drivers.  Well, having such a harrowing commute is like flying on a turbulent flight, or hanging out with Ahmadinejad.  There’s the stress once you’re there, but then the extreme exhilaration once you’ve gotten the F out.  So, once I get into the office, work is easy by comparison.  And plus, I have a muffin to look forward to.

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