This article appears in the Monday, January 23rd edition of The Breeze. John Stossel's moustache could not be reached for comment.
John Stossel. You may not know who he is, where he works or even if he enjoys cake over pie, but John Stossel has a surprisingly potent influence on the political debate in our nation. Stossel’s “Give Me a Break!” segments have appeared on ABC’s 20/20 since 1978, and are notorious for masquerading as legitimate journalism while only containing the sensational rants of a man with a giant moustache. While the show is watched primarily by elderly insomniacs and young men who think Elisabeth Vargas is attractive, Stossel’s loose relationship with the truth and unfettered access to the airwaves are dangerous for both the viewer and America in general.
In a recent “get smart, straight talk, myth-busting,” broadcast, John Stossel argues that the United States (unbeknownst to most people) is NOT destroying its forests by both allowing the timber industry almost unregulated access to and control of forested lands. Stossel’s main argument to counter this conventional wisdom is that “The U.S. Agriculture Department says America has 749 million acres of forestland,” yet “In 1920, we had 735 million acres of forest,” according to abcnews.com.
Taking this statement at face value, even a small child can compare the two numbers and see that the “NOW” number is bigger than the “1920” number, apparently indicating that American business has actually planted more trees than it has cut down since 1920. Then again, a small child with a basic knowledge of American history could also tell you one important difference between 1920 and now: In 1920, Alaska was not a state. Today, it is. Stossel tried to slide this fact past both the audience and the interviewed guests, casting the timber industry as an environmental Joan of Arc leading the armies of private industry against the evils of government. In doing so, he ignored three important facts: (a) The state of Alaska exists, (b) it’s incredibly big, and (c) it’s covered extensively by forests.
I could astound you with facts and figures about the amount of Alaska’s massive territory covered by forests, and dazzle you with horrific tales of timber industry malfeasance, but that would involve research, and I’d rather spend my time imagining fantastic and elaborate ways to force John Stossel’s head up his own anus, through his large intestine, and finally coming to a full and complete stop in his duodenum. My primary method for this introduction would involve a racehorse and a bowl of vitamin-enriched oat bran, with a close second awarded to a catcher’s mitt and “American Idol” sensation Carrie Underwood. If you don’t have these items and still want to force John Stossel’s head in through his out door, just improvise and use whatever you have around the house.
While John Stossel’s attempt to mislead the public with incomplete information is a problem, the greater problem is from where John Stossel is doing his misleading. As stated above, John Stossel’s “Give Me a Break!” segments have aired for many years on ABC’s 20/20, and his segments carry the full force and credibility of the Capitol Cities/ABC empire behind them, with no apparent oversight or fact checking by the network. As an analogy, imagine a van-dwelling Taco Bell employee named Carl having fifteen minutes every Friday night on a major network to say anything he wanted with no regard to facts. Worse yet, imagine that people hear and believe everything Carl says. Think of the millions of people (could be billions at this point, but as previously stated, I’m not one for research) that have watched Stossel’s reports since 1978 and used his “facts” as the basis for their opinions and beliefs. Makes you want to buy canned goods and build a bunker.
At some point, the news magazine on US television fell off the top of the intellectual jungle gym (i.e. Nightline) and is now lying in a sobbing heap in the mulch pit of egotistical ringmasters (i.e. Bill O’Reilly and Stossel) whose incoherent ramblings lack any semblance of logical reasoning or candor. This Friday, while channel surfing for late night nudity or the end to Rocky IV (the one with the Russian), cruise on by 20/20 to see if Johnny Moustache has a piece on the program. If you watch his segment, I guarantee it will confound you to the point that parts of your brain will actually ooze out your ears. [Click Here to Read More]
This article appears in the Monday, January 23rd edition of The Breeze. John Stossel's moustache could not be reached for comment.
Hello, young people. My name is Terrence Mitchell, and I used to be a college student just like yourselves. Then, I fell in with a dangerous group of people and began a destructive lifestyle that included using illegal drugs, holding up convenience stores, and stealing furniture from Salvation Army drop-off bins. Now I’m turning my life around, and as per the conditions of my parole, I am required to do 200 hours of community service and write one article in a student newspaper that explains to young people (that’s you) about the dangers of drug use, especially marijuana. What you are about to read is a highly educational and sometimes frightening trip into the dangerous world of illicit marijuana use, so fasten your seat belts as we prepare to leave the station and set off for edu-venture!
To avoid the dangers of marijuana, a young person like yourself must know the areas where marijuana transactions take place and more importantly, how to avoid them. Elementary school playgrounds, dark street corners and questionable apartment complexes are all prime spots for finding marijuana, so be sure to avoid these areas at all costs. If you find yourself in these areas, bring a friend with you to protect you from pushy dealers as well as provide moral support should you be approached. In the Harrisonburg area, take special care to avoid the corner of Wolfe and Tone Streets, as going there and ringing the bell behind the street lamp will almost certainly bring Hank out from his hiding place and give you an opportunity to purchase cannabis, something no one wants to happen.
Now that we know how to avoid the areas where reefer is dealt, let’s look at the economic impacts of this dangerous and destructive drug. At the height of my dependence, I was spending over $60,000 a month on drugs, and at one point even considered selling my own legs just to get high. So that you never have to consider selling body parts to support your drug habit, I’ve prepared a simple cost analysis to show you the costs involved and deter you from using marijuana. Hypothetically, if you and your friend went to see Hank (corner of Wolfe and Tone) and wanted to buy enough Punky’s Delight (Hank’s premium blend) for four people, then the cost to you would be roughly $67. Note well that this price compares favorably with other outlets in the area, thanks to Hank’s advanced economies of scale and a streamlined distribution network.
While the cost of the drug should be enough to keep you away, other hidden costs take their toll on your wallet and on your life. Following our hypothetical example, suppose you left Hank’s (corner of Wolfe and Tone), drove two miles to Food Lion to buy two bags of Ruffles and a box of Twinkies, and then drove an additional three miles to my friend Gary’s place to consume this dangerous drug and watch cartoons. If you did this (on a Tuesday at 9:45, for example), you’d not only be endangering the environment with your wasteful use of petroleum, but you’d also be raising your risk of obesity thanks to the Ruffles and the Twinkies. On the economic side, you’re spending almost 80 dollars (which neatly splits four ways) to endanger your health and harm your relationships with family and friends.
I don’t think I’ve made myself perfectly clear, so at the risk of being redundant, let me repeat what you are under no circumstances going to do: You are not going to go to the corner of Wolfe and Tone Streets and ring Hank’s bell. You are not going to give him $67 for a bag of Punky’s Delight. And you are absolutely, positively, indubitably not going to bring it to Gary’s place at 9:45 Tuesday to smoke it and watch cartoons. You are not going to do these things because they are wrong. Oh so very wrong. Thank you for listening, young people, and I hope that my words today have been educational and informative. [Click Here to Read More]
at 3:26 PM
Note: This piece appears in the Thursday, January 19th edition of The Breeze.
On December 16th 2005, the New York Times reported that President Bush authorized the National Security Agency to monitor “the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States” without first obtaining a warrant from a court of law, all in an effort to monitor terrorist activity inside the US. Many pundits believe that this act by President Bush amounted to a criminal and unconstitutional invasion of privacy by the US government, evoking images of an Orwellian state under the constant watchful eye of Big Brother. I, on the other hand, disagree with those lefty liberal pundits, and feel much safer knowing that the government is listening to my correspondences for one simple reason: I, Bobby McMahon, cannot be trusted.
Although I’ve lived my life up until now above board and on the level, paying my taxes on time and calling my mother once a week, I have no idea if this exemplary behavior will continue or if I will turn to a life devoted to the wanton destruction of the United States and its allies. While my affluent background and generally likable demeanor raise little suspicion among the general public, I trust that my government can see past the straight-A report cards and stellar driving record to the heart of me: a college student on the edge of extremism, and for this reason I hope the government is recording every word I say.
Just to demonstrate why the government must have the authority to spy on people like me, observe this recent conversation I had with my buddy Dave. Dave and I were catching up on what has happened since we last saw each other (Dave got a wife and kid, I lost a finger fighting a kangaroo), and he asked me if I was doing anything that night, to which I responded “No.” He tells me that he and his buddies needed a fifth guy for poker, and if they didn’t get a fifth, their wives would call off the game. I said, “Yeah, I’ll show up.”
Thank God for the NSA listening to our conversation. If I had said “I’ll show up to your poker game only if you proclaim the United States as the infidel and agree to help me flood the rivers with their blood” instead of “yeah, I’ll show up,” I would have wanted the government to be listening in, as I have just turned from mild-mannered college student to international terrorist in a nanosecond. I could quote numerous other close calls, including a near miss where I almost said “Death to America!” instead of “Pass the turnips,” but I think this evidence alone speaks volumes as to my personal “threat level” towards the US government and the subsequent need for government surveillance on me.
Moreover, to those who agree with the pundits and believe that domestic surveillance by the NSA infringes on our civil liberties, then I have one question for you: What do you have to hide? Only those people who have something to hide (i.e. the enemy) don’t want the government watching, as we, the freedom loving citizens of America, don’t mind a little government snooping as long as it protects us from the enemy. I certainly have nothing to hide, and if the government ever decided to watch me, then I love America enough to know that they probably have a really good reason for the wiretapping. It’s not as if the government has ever targeted an innocent person or spied on someone because he/she held different political beliefs than those in power. Our government wouldn’t do that, because they are infallible.
We live in a time of great danger, a time when our enemies are more dangerous than ever, and it is our duty as Americans to believe whatever our government says and to do whatever they ask. If our government is asking us to give up a few insignificant civil liberties to protect us from a dangerous and bloodthirsty enemy, then the least we can do is thank them by volunteering a few more liberties just to grease the skids of safety. Better yet, I appeal to each of you to call your Congressperson and ask that you be put on the NSA’s watch list. That way, if any of us ever engage in un-American activities and leave the proverbial reservation, the United States Government will be there to bring us home, or Cuba, whichever is closer.[Click Here to Read More]
Note: This appears in the Thursday, January 12th Edition of The Breeze. All Predictions will come true.
Congratulations. It’s 2006. I can’t believe it either. As the sights and sounds of 2005 fade from our collective conciseness like the transgressions of a booze-soaked bender, we as time monitoring humans must turn out attention to the events of 2006, as already have pundits and quacks alike made attempts to predict what our new year will bring. Yet, to the best of my knowledge, none of them have a crack team of investigators with psychic abilities (and, as of January 1st, dental insurance) working on their side. I thankfully do. Here are the events that will shape our world and garner headlines in 2006.
2006 will be a year for the record books, most notably in the world of weather. While records were set across the globe in 2005 (most notably in the categories of tropical storms and highest average temperature) (source: NOAA), 2006 will break those records with such McGwire like tenacity that Major League Baseball will try to test Mother Nature for steroids. In response to the dire state of the Artic, multi-national soda giant and polar bear enthusiast Coca-Cola will lead the charge for tougher emissions standards in an effort to curb polar ice melting and subsequently save their beloved Christmas mascots from drowning.
In other business news, 2006 will mark the beginning of the end for the tanning bed industry, as the destruction of the O-Zone layer coupled with rising global temperatures will enable year-round outdoor tanning worldwide and give teenage girls who are uncomfortable with their pale complexion new and sexy ways to contract skin cancer.
In the realm of politics, the Supreme Court will command news coverage well past the confirmation hearing of Samuel Alito, when in March a bad container of applesauce in the SCOTUS kitchen will lead to the retirements of Justices Scalia, Stevens, Thomas, and Ginsburg. President Bush, facing a shortage of qualified jurists, will nominate New York Jets star and All Pro cornerback Ty Law solely on the strength of his last name. Justice Law will strike fear into the hearts and bladders of those entering the court, as they know Law will exact swift and definitive justice on whoever presents in his chamber.
Given the stature of his name, J. Law will be given the unprecedented right to interrupt court proceedings with a timely “I AM THE LAW!” or “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE LAW,” leaving the object of the outburst looking like Senator Pat Geary when Tom Hagen says, “This girl has no family. Nobody knows that she worked here. It’ll be as if she never existed.”
While rampant change will occur on around the globe, MMVI will also be a year of change on a more personal level for one lucky JMU student. On the morning of June 17th, one of you will drive to meet your fiancé for breakfast at Bob Evans (because your fiancé has an unhealthy appetite for gravy) and, upon arrival at your destination, will discover that your fiancé has been transformed into a Blue-Backed African Rhinoceros (Diceros tendrados).
After a sizable donation by your fiancé’s parents into the “I’ll Marry Your Child if You Buy Me A Sailboat” Foundation, you will chose to keep the engagement on and spend hours daydreaming about your wedding day in vivid detail: You, quivering with anticipation over the brand new sailboat in the parking lot, and your fiancé/rhinoceros, fantasizing about charging into the congregation and goring Uncle Phil, will stand across from each other dressed in the finest formal attire. If this turns out to be your future, I wish you all the blessings of a happy life together and all the joys that only a house full of children can bring.
2006 will end much in the same way that its predecessors have ended, with alcohol fueled indiscretions and countless “reviews,” “look backs,” and “retrospectives” on a year barely over. For some, 2006 will be a year of great achievement, unparalleled discovery, and newfound promise for a world so embroiled in turmoil and strife. For others, 2006 will be remembered as a year of unbelievable mediocrity in your life, containing performances so pedestrian that you’ll have trouble believing that you weren’t asleep the entire year. Whatever your future may hold, good luck in 2006, and pray that your fiancé doesn’t turn into a rhino. [Click Here to Read More]
"CrossTown Rival, at its heart, will always be the banana nut muffin of the prog rock music scene. Most people are apathetic to it, some are allergic to it, and then there are a wonderful few who believe that nothing on earth will ever come close to it."Pat Parnell, lead vocals and guitar
http://crosstownrival.blogspot.com was filmed before a live studio audience at Universal Studios in Orlando, FL. Bring your family to visit and you can take your picture with a giant mechanical shark.