Category Archives: Modest Proposals

Throwdown in Jerusalem (A Modest Proposal)

The combination briar patch and powder keg that is sometimes called “the Holy Land” is chock-full of contentious and seemingly irresolvable issues. One of the thorniest involves the area of Jerusalem called the Temple Mount, which houses some of the holiest sites of both Judaism and Islam. It is also revered by Christians, especially those of the apocalyptic variety, since the restoration of the ancient Jewish Temple is an important part of their eschatological timeline, and the desired site is presently physically occupied by a mosque.

I won’t even try to recount the whole history here – there are plenty of sources you can find for that. Suffice it to say that recent events have once more brought the tenuous and sensitive question of ownership to the fore.

Oh, and one more thing: I think I may have a solution to this conundrum.

It’s simple enough, if you accept my premise, which is that if the Almighty has an opinion on this matter – and the disputing parties all agree that He does – then we should be able to ask Him about it.

There is a precedent for the sort of thing I have in mind. Back in the Old Testament, in 1 Kings 18 in fact, there’s a great story about the prophet Elijah and his throwdown with the priests of Baal. Elijah suggests that they set up ritual sacrifices to their respective gods, and see what happens – the idea being that the real deity will cause his sacrifice to be devoured  in flame.

Baal’s guys try their best, but nothing happens – and Elijah has some fun talking smack at them all the while. Then he not only sets up his sacrifice, he has it doused thoroughly with water (so the story says) – but Yahweh blows it all sky-high anyway.

So here’s my idea. Let’s get some hardcore representatives of the three faiths involved – an ultra-Orthodox rabbi, a radical Islamic imam, and a fundamentalist pro-Israel Christian preacher like, say, James Hagee – to set up some old-school sacrifices, and then beseech the Almighty to let His Will be known.

And then we see what happens… with this caveat: if nothing happens at all, then the parties agree that this will be interpreted as a clear sign from The Creator that we should all start acting like grownups and learn how to share.

Now here’s the main point, and my challenge: I do not belive that ANYBODY – Muslim, Jewish, or Christian – actually has the faith, or the confidence in their position, to put their claim to such a test. They might talk a good game, and trot out historical and scriptural evidence to back themselves up, but they don’t really believe their own rhetoric.

Maybe I’m wrong. We’ll see. Continue reading


Plutocracy Resolution

Things being what they are, I think the time has come for someone to bring forward the following resolution, or something like it, on the floors of the House and Senate:

recognizing Plutocracy, not Democracy, as the guiding principle of the Government of the United States of America.

WHEREAS, a 2014 Princeton study has shown that the USA is not a democracy, but a plutocratic oligarchy; and

WHEREAS, former President Jimmy Carter has stated that America has become “now an oligarchy”; and

WHEREAS, over 50% of the members of Congress are millionaires, as opposed to 3.5% of the American public; and

WHEREAS, years of effort to create and enforce meaningful campaign finance reforms have been mostly fruitless; and

WHEREAS, the Supreme Court has done its best to render such reforms moot anyway, through its rulings in Citizens United v. FEC and other cases; and

WHEREAS, let’s face it, wealthy donors get our attention much more easily than our less-endowed constituents; and

WHEREAS, the American people seem to have given their tacit approval to the whole arrangement by repeatedly re-electing most of us; and

WHEREAS, it will be a cold day in Hell before we here in Congress would actually do something about a system from which we profit so handsomely; now,

THEREFORE, we, the House of Representatives, the Senate concurring, do officially declare and establish what everyone knows to be the truth, that Plutocracy, not Democracy, is the underlying and governing principle of the Federal Government of the United States of America.

Commemorating Rush Limbaugh

Like him or hate him, you gotta admit that few Americans have had the impact on our political and cultural life that Rush Limbaugh has had. Now that he is reaching the end of his career, as well as the end of his days on Earth, I think it’s important that his contribution be recognized in a lasting and appropriate way.

I would therefore like to suggest to the medical community that pilonidal cysts, which as you may know kept Limbaugh from serving in the armed forces, be rechristened “Limbaugh’s disease,” and the cysts themselves be referred to henceforward as “Limbaughs.”

For example:

“Geez, Doc, what is that thing? Hurts like the dickens! And what a bad smell!”
“Well, Sam, I’m afraid you have a severely infected Limbaugh.”

“I had a really bad case of Limbaughs, but the surgeon did a great job, and now you’d hardly know they were there.”

“You need to get out of your chair from time to time, or else you might get a Limbaugh.”

All things considered, I think this is the least we can do, don’t you?

“RESOLVED: the USA is a Plutocracy”…? (updated)

Well, so far no one has offered any cogent arguments that the US is not a plutocracy … and since the 2010 midterm election, I think the evidence for such an assertion is dwindling rapidly, despite the countervailing  fact that many of the rich folks who tried to “buy” their seats (e.g., Fiorina, Whitman, McMahon) failed.  The influence of big money, and anonymous money at that, allowed by the Citizens United decision would seem to lock in the  power of money over our “democratic” government for the foreseeable future.

So maybe the next step would be to introduce a simple Congressional Resolution that would explicitly recognize Plutocracy, not Democracy, as the de facto governing system of the United States.

I mean, we can live within a plutocracy – heck, I think we’ve been doing it for a while now.  It might be refreshing for us to just go ahead and admit it. Cut to the chase, stop the hypocrisy…what’s not to like?  The ensuing discussion could be very interesting and enlightening.  Would the American people oppose admitting the truth?  What do you think?

So I did a little research on the wording of Congressional resolutions – and came up with the following.  I’ll happily consider your suggestions!



WHEREAS, both the cost of federal campaigns and the political value of a seat in Congress have steadily spiraled upward in recent years; and

WHEREAS, these circumstances necessitate the raising of increasingly large sums from special interests to finance electoral campaigns; and

WHEREAS, our present system requires that large donors be given special political access to lawmakers, and provided wide-ranging influence over federal budgets, earmarks, regulations, lawmaking and public policy in general; and

WHEREAS, such a system is inherently undemocratic; and

WHEREAS, it will be a cold day in Hell before we, the members of the Congress of the United States of America, enact any truly meaningful reforms of the electoral system;

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that this Congress acknowledges the obvious fact, that Plutocracy, not Democracy, shall henceforth be considered the de facto Governing Principle of the United States of America.

DEADLINE EXTENDED (AGAIN)! The “Not a Plutocracy?” $20 Challenge

Given the way the health care debate has gone, it now seems that the insurance and pharmaceutical companies (a/k/a the “medical-industrial complex”) will once again come out on top, despite the express wishes of a good-sized chunk of the American people for some kind of public/government-funded insurance  option. The corporations and their lackeys have pulled out all the stops to confuse and frighten the American public.  Corporate control of politicians and media seems practically unshakeable.  This leads me to wonder if we oughtn’t just make a few little tweaks to the Constitution and codify what appear to be the facts-on-the-ground: that this is actually a plutocratic country, with decisions being made by the wealthiest folks, for the benefit of the wealthiest folks, all dressed up in a cynical “democratic” shell.

But maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe this really is still a democracy.  Maybe there are times when the wealthy interests lose out (or at least don’t get everything they want) in favor of the general welfare, or in response to the wishes of the people .  Maybe there are even times when wealthy interests VOLUNTARILY take a hit because it would serve the greater good.

So here’s the deal.  I’ve got $20 (not much, I know, but this SHOULD be easy, right?) that I will give to the person who can offer the most convincing evidence refuting the following assertion: “At present, the United States of America is a de facto plutocracy.”

This evidence could be presented in the form of an essay, a video rant, a list of facts, a dramatic dialogue, an interpretive dance, a crayon drawing scrawled on a napkin, a PowerPoint preso, whatever. My decision will be my own, quite possibly arbitrary, and it’ll be final. If I can’t make a final decision among a bunch of similarly-qualified entrants, I’ll commit some random act to determine the winner.  I also reserve the right to declare NO winner at all. All entries remain property of their creators, so you can republish or do whatever you want (that’s only fair), but by sending in your entry you grant me permission to publish it on this blog.  Send your entry (or a URL pointer to it) to smendler[at]; include the word “PLUTOCRACY” in the subject line.  Deadline (twice extended!) is 11:59:59 PM ET on OCTOBER 31, 2010.  Good luck!

A Modest Proposal re healthcare

The real issue, if you ask me, is that some rich folks just HATE IT HATE IT HATE IT when poorer people get the same stuff they do.

So, let’s have the public option be a bare-bones (no pun intended) basic-care kinda thing that everybody gets – BUT then we also let insurance companies sell ancillary policies that allow those who can afford the premiums into a new tier of exclusive high-class medical service – call it “luxury care,” or “boutique care,” or whatever. Then the rich can feel that they’re getting the “special treatment they deserve,” and the rest of us can, you know, survive.

This special BoutiqueCare coverage would include such items as:

  • King-size hospital beds with silk sheets (with ceiling mirrors also available)
  • Specially designed padded & prewarmed bedpans
  • Your very own personal full-time “medical assistant” catering to your every need, desire, whim, or (in some states) kink
  • Full-wall plasma TVs w/unlimited movies & surround-sound
  • Multicourse gourmet meals; full wine list (“For taking the amoxycillin, sir, may I suggest the 1953 Chateau de Quelque-Chose…”)
  • Physical therapists who provide some REAL physical therapy, if you know what I mean
  • All the capricious and impulsive plastic surgeries, liposuctions, botox treatments, penile or mammary enhancements, pacemakers, internal defibrillators, etc. you can stand
  • Handcrafted platinum-lined arterial grafts made of fine Corinthian leather
  • 1 free organ-of-your-choice transplant/yr
  • Diamond-studded colonoscopes

and of course, the soon-to-be-popular and much-in-demand kakaosmectomy (after which your **** no longer stinks).