February 16, 2006

How to Rebuild New Orleans in One Year, With Money Left Over

"A Sabbatical Year for the United States [File Under: Proposals, Modest]"

Given the fresh and very big item on our ToDo List, it's obviously time for US to consider taking some time off. But we shouldn't rush into it. We should take, say, 90 days to prepare.

The first order of business will be to finish the relief efforts undertaken with the rest of the world to alleviate and help rebuild the shattered lives throughout the tsunami-shredded lands. When that is completed, the second order of business will be for the United States of America to take a well-earned and restorative sabbatical from the rest of the world.

I imagine our announcement would go something like this:

Dear World,
Greetings. It has come to our attention that we haven't really been at the top of your Christmas list for some time now. Like some spouse that has become too used to having the good life, you've decided you need your space. And we are here to give it to you.

We gave you a lot during the last 50 years in terms of direct aid, the Marshall Plan, the continuing defense of Europe during the Cold War, all sorts of loans never paid back, and many billions and billions more in private charity and donations above and beyond what our government has done for you with our money.

Alas, it wasn't enough for you. Like a teenage stoner with an unlimited American Express card, you've always needed more.

Even when your own economies were robust enough to give you the 30 hour week and the whole month of August off, we still couldn't pony up enough to keep you in beer, skittles and fromage.

This situation has made us poorer than we would otherwise have been. There are a lot of things here at home we could have spent the money on -- schools, infrastructure, scholarships, lower taxes, aid to dependent children, and the kind of local American charities that always need help. We hope you'll understand when we say we need just a little year of working the "Charity begins at home" concept in order to catch up.

It's also more than a little depressing to wake up every day and find that the New York Times (your voice in America) blathering on and on about how stingy and uncaring we are. Whew, we just can't get no respect.

Hence, we are taking the year off not only to save many, many billions, but for a time of reflection and boosting of the old "self-esteem." After all, you can't help others unless you feel good about yourself.

And let's face it, how can you other nations (Egypt,EU, Africa, South America, Mexico, and all the worthy, struggling and proud totalitarian Islamic states) feel good about yourself when all you do is push your shabby stolen grocery carts around Washington hoping for a hand-out? You need to have a little time to develop some self-reliance. We realize now that in protecting you and the world's markets, and keeping everybody out there from just killing everybody else, we've robbed you of the chance to determine your own destiny. For many of you, your destiny seems to be death, slavery, boredom, or some bizarre combination of all three. Hey, we guess you've gotta just go for the gusto.

Therefore, as Americans, we've decided to take a break and bag the world for exactly one year.

All foreign aid is going to become internal aid.

All charitable giving is going to be directed at deserving institutions and individuals inside the United States.

All profits made by US companies will be only be allowed to be reinvested in facilities within the United States.

We'll be running trade on the one dollar in one dollar out basis, so if you want to come out of this year with favored nation status, you'd best have your Visa card out.

For those of you with a lot of your people already living here in the United States and sending money back, well, there's going to be a litle interruption in remittances for a year, but you can just raise taxes on your own people to take up the slack. Enjoy.

Our military men will all be returning home to spend more time with their families. (Time for all you Iraqis to man up and get those guns locked and loaded.)

As Americans, we never want to do anything to interfere with our own super-rich and their freedom, so there will be a bit of slack around the edges. Foreign tourism, for example, will not be eliminated but will be socked with a 225% surcharge for any spending done outside the United States. It will be a great time to, as they used to say, "See the USA in your Chevrolet." (Oh yes, foreign automobiles will have, for one year, a 300% tariff on their purchase.)

Oil? We'll be drilling the entire states of Alaska, California, Texas, and Oklahoma for one year. After which we'll clean them up better than before. (Eco-nuts protesting this will be given honorary Swedish citizenship and deported by kayak.) But if we need extra oil and we ask, you'd better think twice before you say no. We'll always have enough in the strategic petroleum reserve for B-52's and our carrier groups. If we have to send them out, they will be, we promise you, in a very bad mood. Very bad.

But, hey, it's a free world. Make our day.

We hope this message is taken in the spirit of love and friendship in which it was written. After all, we're founded on the proposition that all men are created equal.

Go get equal. We'll be back.

The United States of America

P.S. Since all of our Armed Forces, conventional and nuclear, will be either ready for instant deployment, or on station as ballistic missile submarines around the world (No, we're not going to tell you where.), don't get any funny ideas. Play nice.

P.P.S. We almost forgot. For the purposes of this note, Israel will become the 51st State for one year. Be cool.

Yes, in the wake of the continued carping and whining and moaning, it seems only fair for the US to give the rest of the world and the New York Times what they really, really want -- a year free of US involvement in anything outside of its borders; a year free of the heavy, oppressive hand of the United States crushing the spirit and the will of all the other indigenous peoples of the world; a year in which the world will be allowed to just get on with the business of being itself, liberated finally from the Fear of Freedom.

The benefits of a US Sabbatical Year for the world that will substantial. It will, of course, gladly find another protector when,say, China finally decides to take the plunge and absorb Taiwan. I'm sure that the UN will be pleased to set up a series of meetings with the responsible parties. Should the misunderstood North Koreans and Iranian Mullahs decide to throw their weight around with nuclear missiles, it is a dead-shot certainty that the French will be able to find an amiable solution for this minor inconvenience. The suggestion of retargeting the missiles from Paris to Tel Aviv would no doubt be at the top of the list.

In such a wonderful and happy world, what could possibly happen to disturb Europe, Japan, India, Africa, South America or the Middle East when they are at last out from under the American economic and military umbrella? Surely many factions in these and other countries would see a year's break by the US as a golden opportunity to clear up those nagging territorial and factional disputes. Quick, clean, tidy, no regrets, and the Spring rains would wash away any evidence of the mass graves.

And then we'd return to a fresh, clean world that has at last solved all its problems without having to look towards a stingy and domineering United States of America.

And if everyone lit
Just one little candle,
What a bright world
It would be.

Republished from January 2, 2005

[ Welcome back, Woltrolls. Please don't miss this gem from last December, Bounders of the Blogosphere: The Wolcott Method @ AMERICAN DIGEST. ]

Posted by Vanderleun at February 16, 2006 3:24 PM
Bookmark and Share



"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

You really are that stupid aren't you?! Whoops, you won't be able to answer that question correctly because your head is so far up your neo-fascist arse...

Posted by: Joe Cushley at December 30, 2004 3:59 PM

Now, now Mr. "Cushley" play nice. Be cool.

Posted by: Gerard Van der Leun at December 30, 2004 4:13 PM


Wonderful. Simply wonderful. Please submit this to as many op-ed pages as you can to help spread the word. Particularly to "news" papers in those countries you mention!

And for Mr. Cushley, I understand there are great deals (oh, that dreaded free-market system...) on flights to France this time of year. You should take advantage--one way, of course.

Mark H

Posted by: Mark H at December 30, 2004 5:33 PM

I always tell a German friend of mine that all we really want to do is sell a hamburger and coke, watch a movie or a game and be left alone, but as Al Pacino said so well, "Just when I thought I was out, they had to puuuullll meee back in!"

Posted by: mark butterworth at December 30, 2004 11:09 PM

Greedy, greedy, greedy. We've already had our sabbatical. Did you miss it? It was called “the Clinton Administration”?

Posted by: Dave Schuler at December 31, 2004 4:07 AM


It's also more than a little depressing to wake up every day and find that the New York Times (your voice in America) blathering on and on about how stingy and uncaring we are.

Here's a link to a 1 May,1995 page of the Congressional Record, take a look at the article and what it references. You'll be...well maybe struck by how it appears slightly(?) coincidental(?)?

SOS(same-ole....) a decade later, only they're worse and definately more dangerous.


(Ps) It is a pdf file. If it doesn't open, in the page area, enter the page S5290


Posted by: Eg at December 31, 2004 4:57 AM

What Mr. Van der Leun has presented is a thought experiment written as parity. Just imagine what the world would be like without the US involvement...go ahead imagine. It's a bit like the story line in "It's a Wonderful Life". Given all our imperfections, what net positive impact have we actually made on the world? Only an extreme crank (far left, far right) would judge it a net negative. I belive John Derbyshire wrote something along the same line of the US taking a break in NRO, too lazy to find the link. Good one Mr. Van der Leun.

Posted by: phil gilbert at December 31, 2004 5:37 AM

Is it bad form to suggest twenty dollar gift cards to Starbucks instead of bringing Democracy and Freedom to otherwise down-trodden countries?

Posted by: James C. Hess at December 31, 2004 9:00 AM

Walk into Walmart. Look on the tag of nearly every item in there. It will say "Made in China" or "Made in Taiwan" or "Made in [somewhere that isn't the US]." Now, look at the price on that item. Next, close off our manufacturing ties to slave/forced/feudal labor in China, Taiwan, et al. Look back at the price tag of that t-shirt or teddy bear in Walmart and watch it change by an order of magnitude. Watch Walmart go out of business. Watch our economy implode.

We are wedded to the world as much as they are to us. Your sabbatical can't happen.

Posted by: David at January 2, 2005 12:37 PM

>All foreign aid is going to become internal aid.
Lots of "foreign aid" is in the form of loan guarantees to finance exports. Not much is in the form of a check made out to a petty dictator.

>All profits made by US companies....
That won't fly. Besides the number of companies that have moved off shore for tax reasons. Like Black & Decker.

>We'll be running trade on the one dollar in one dollar out basis...
The number of retailers that will go tits up from this would be... all "big box" stores. All that would be left would be some supermarkets (no produce since most of that is imported) and maybe Ace Hardware.

I've tried to "buy American" but I can't. Unless I want to make my own clothes, I can't find clothes made in America. Nor shoes.

I can understand the sentiments behind this "sabbatical" but it would do more damage to the US than giving every member of AlQeda a pilots license and free reign at the airports.

Posted by: Peter at January 2, 2005 1:30 PM

Pace, Peter, Pace.... I well know the interconnectedness of things in the 21st century.

Why for us to even begin to assume such a posture for real would require that the nation assume a state of total war.

For that to happen it would take another attack on the scale of or larger than 9/11.

And, of course, that isn't going to happen.

Is it?

Posted by: Gerard Van der Leun at January 2, 2005 2:42 PM

Well, how about a slightly simpler project, but a bit more feasible: withdraw from the UN for a year or two. Stop paying fees, stop sending delegates (or send Colin Powell, with the mandate to simply veto ANYTHING that requires a vote), stop donating troops and materials. Stay cozy with Britain and Australia and Israel, our three most dependable allies, but let the rest of the world go through the bureaucratic hell they're letting Kofi Anan run. Keep fighting the War on Terror as we see fit, and only worry about the UN if you see their blue helmets on the battlefield shooting at us (haha, fat chance!).

Oh, and tell the NY police to start strictly enforcing parking rules and penalties for UN delegates, and toss anyone who screams at them in a holding cell. It would make their day.

Posted by: Dan at January 4, 2005 8:32 AM

What makes you think 'Cushley' isn't my name, "Gerard"?!

It's Kofi *Annan* BTW. And one of the major problems facing the UN is that the US is way, way behind with its fees already. You witheld them because they wouldn't exactly what you wanted them to do. Kind of defeats the point of *United* Nations. And the American veto at the UN has been used ad nauseam already. Do you ever actually read any other sources than the ones that feed your prejudices, and have you ever travelled anywhere outside of Buttbang, Idaho?

For the hilarious Mark H chap who thinks I'm an American and gives us the side-splittingly original 'Fly to France Bub, cos they're cheese-eating surrender monkeys too...' Boy, you give stereotypes a bad name... I'll take the Eurostar from London.

Erm...and about this 'Clinton sabbatical.' Does Kosovo ring any bells? Nah. Thought not. Of course the Republicans were berating him at the time for putting American troops in danger. Remind me how many Americans were killed in that relatively successful escapade? How many in the insane, counterproductive invasion of Iraq and War On Tirrrrr?

Finally, Mr "Van der Leun" you call for 'peace'...!! Oh irony of ironies...

Posted by: Joe Cushley at January 6, 2005 3:22 PM

Who cares what your name is? You're just another Euro-bigot, and a nit-picking one at that. BTW where is the verb in the following clause: "because they wouldn't exactly what you wanted them to do"?

Posted by: nobody important at January 7, 2005 8:29 AM

Hey Cush:

Put a sock in it. You lefties are so touchy and self righteous.

And grow a sense of humor while you're at it. Is that a modest enough proposal for you? This is Gerard's blog for godsakes.

Posted by: Old Dad at September 3, 2005 7:44 AM

Gerard, agree 100%, and I'm not talking about parody. Let's try it, it just might work. For sure it would make more sense than what we do now.

Posted by: DSmith at September 3, 2005 8:42 AM

"Does Kosovo ring any bells? Nah. Thought not. Of course the Republicans were berating him at the time for putting American troops in danger."

yes, yes it does, but i don't remember much complaining about putting troops in danger since we relied heavily on airstrikes. my husband would always complain about what a poor tactic that was. how many innocent people were killed for that? remember the chinese embassy?

Posted by: maggie katzen at September 3, 2005 10:31 AM

P1: Mr. Van der Leun desires what the post advocates.
P2: Mr. Van der Leun has above just declared this would require the nation assuming a state of total war.
C: Mr. Van der Leun desires a pretext for it.

Posted by: Light at September 3, 2005 5:45 PM


The world is like a big family, and we are the big brother, captain of the football team, yada yada. The best way to make them "like" us is to show that we respect them enough to need them, not the other way around.

For instance, the Dutch are already on their way, and are consulting with our engineers on how to build a better levee.


Posted by: Patricia at September 3, 2005 6:01 PM

Yes, the rest of the world is merely there to provide America with the things it needs. Ein reich, ein volk. Give us your (OUR!) oil or we'll bomb you into the Stone Age.

What a horrible, moronic piece of writing.

Posted by: jonathan6894 at September 3, 2005 6:29 PM

Check out James Wolcott's site to see just how stupid and uninformed this site is (if some of the other posts haven't gotten that point across already.

Posted by: Observer at September 3, 2005 6:47 PM

I've never seen a more perfect example of [-- deleted--- ], [deleted] [deleted].

This makes me wish we would really get serious about going to Mars. Just so that morons like this guy could colonized the place --and get the [deleted] off this planet so the rest of us can live in a sane world.

[Translation: I realize that I really have no point here, but I thought I'd make it just the same.]

Posted by: nobody at September 3, 2005 7:11 PM

should i mention you've missed the (file under: proposal, modest)near the title? ring any bells?

*off to eat an irish baby*

Posted by: maggie katzen at September 3, 2005 7:21 PM

You omit any mention of the need to close the U.S. empire of 1,000+ military bases and installations in foreign lands in order to withdraw from the world as you suggest. Is this omission because you forgot about them, or because you definitely did not wish to suggest they be closed (since most would be difficult to re-open)?

Posted by: midlife at September 3, 2005 7:39 PM

Dream on, dummy.

Posted by: SqueakyRat at September 3, 2005 7:40 PM

I don't think our creditors --like China--would allow us to take that sabbatical.

If we did, that would mean repudiating our debt to them.

Which is about the same as declaring bankruptcy.

And 'running our trade' would mean governmental control of all American corporations with every foreign trade agreement requiring the approval of a government bureaucrat.

Hmmm--withdrawal from all defense treaties--repudiation of foreign debt--state control of industry--

Ha! The tinted contacts and the toupée had me going, but I recognize you at last, Comrade Lenin!

Posted by: pbg at September 3, 2005 7:41 PM

I see Mark H suggests we should try a free-market system. Does that mean we are going to suspend our corporate welfare and farm subsidies? Also does it mean we're going to have to pick our own vegetables? Because I have a shiny heiny that burns easily. And what about the domestic help? Are we to be expected to get "equal" with dirty sanchez and lolita? We really can't afford to lose that cheap labor. I refuse to do manual labor. I'ld like john Bolton (or michael)to go over your manifesto with his red marker before we commit to anything. Keep up the good work!

Posted by: tinkletoes at September 3, 2005 7:59 PM

Damn it Gerard ... I need a troll like that moron. Would you consider sharing? It's just not right you get to have all the fun amigo.

Posted by: Steel Turman at September 3, 2005 8:54 PM

>>Oil? We'll be drilling the entire states of Alaska, California, Texas, and Oklahoma for one year.

And during that year, you'll be powering the economy by what exactly? Cowshit by the sounds of it.

Posted by: macgruder at September 3, 2005 9:37 PM

Jeez, what a doofus. The rest of the world is, I'm sure, breaking out the champagne and party hats.

Posted by: mercury at September 3, 2005 10:06 PM

Is this supposed to be satire or what? Surely no one could believe this sort of crap.

Posted by: Aghast at September 3, 2005 10:27 PM

The US is the most benign world power history has ever seen. American largess, especially in the century just over, puts to shame every other major culture in history. This characteristic is its strength & perhaps also its weakness.

On a completely different note: Good satire always pisses off the right people.

Posted by: john moulder at September 3, 2005 10:55 PM

Moulder, this isn't good satire by any means. It's shit. Read James Wolcott.

Posted by: edddie at September 3, 2005 10:59 PM

Oh, yeah! Look out world! Tick us off, and here comes the big, bad United States! Sure, maybe a rag-tag pack of insurgents, with their high-tech, cell phone detonators and tomato cans stuffed with scrounged explosives are more than we can handle -- but let our SUVs run dry, and we'll nuke your ass, by God!... While the rest of the world's nuclear powers stand idly by, of course... and the US population waits calmly for the clouds of globe-encircling radioactive debris to descend, knowing our God-given right to hog the vast majority of the earth's resources is more important than life itself! Wow. I'd drop a hint or two that it might be time to pack away the toy soldiers and grow up -- but I just can't shake the suspicion your site is a brilliant parody, along the lines of "Jesus' General".

Posted by: Chuck Mathias at September 3, 2005 11:10 PM

Went to Wolcott. Looked around. Didn’t see any satire. Saw a lot of Bush bashing. Seen enough of that on CNN & MSNBC, etc. Will no doubt see more in days to come – like crabs in a whorehouse, it’s gonna be hard to avoid.

Posted by: john moulder at September 3, 2005 11:15 PM

James Wolcott? You mean this James Wolcott? Quote:

"I root for hurricanes. When, courtesy of the Weather Channel, I see one forming in the ocean off the coast of Africa, I find myself longing for it to become big and strong--Mother Nature's fist of fury, Gaia's stern rebuke.... there's something disappointing when a hurricane doesn't make landfall, or peters out into a puny Category One."

I'm just askin'

Posted by: just askin at September 3, 2005 11:28 PM

No bad words. No name-calling. Even then, I may exceed the repetition rule. Nevertheless: what on Earth possessed you to ignore when you wrote this the fact that scores of countries offered aid in the wake of Katrina? Honestly?

[Ed. Note: The respondent here evidently missed or did not comprehend the line giving the date of the original essay. ]

Posted by: teh l4m3 at September 3, 2005 11:50 PM

[Moulder] We're better than Pinochet: we're America! Therefore, you must love us.

That, baby, is satire.

Posted by: teh l4m3 at September 3, 2005 11:53 PM

Satire: A literary work in which human vice or folly is attacked through irony, derision, or wit.

The branch of literature constituting such works. See Synonyms at caricature.

Irony, sarcasm, or caustic wit used to attack or expose folly, vice, or stupidity.

Hint to teh l4m3 & some others: Swift didn't really mean for the babies to be eaten.

Posted by: john moulder at September 3, 2005 11:59 PM

Nah, nobody has to love us. I was merely stating historical fact.

Posted by: john moulder at September 4, 2005 12:06 AM

Nevertheless: what on Earth possessed you to ignore when you wrote this the fact that scores of countries offered aid in the wake of Katrina? Honestly?

um, if you'll notice, this was originally posted in December, 2004.

Posted by: maggie katzen at September 4, 2005 1:02 AM

Would that this had a modicum of the wit and incisiveness of the Swift it aspires to emulate.

Posted by: Jason at September 4, 2005 2:09 AM

Brilliant, Gerard. I can't imagine how I missed it the first time around.

The 95% of humanity outside our borders is so completely dependent upon the 5% of humanity within them that the mere suggestion of a complete American "return to base" scares all the hair off them. As United States Exhibit #1, I offer the cries of anguish that arose in Germany and South Korea when the Bush Administration publicly announced the impending relocation of the bases and troops there.

But of course, to expect that 95% to be grateful for our involvement in their lands, whether political, military, or economic, is unreasonable. Our competence, idealism, and generosity are crimes against their self-regard. Still, a piece like yours should serve as a reminder of the real relation between us: They are the beneficiaries of our better nature and ability.

"The Japanese have five ways to say thank you -- and each one of them translates as resentment, in various degrees." -- Robert A. Heinlein

Posted by: Francis W. Porretto at September 4, 2005 3:17 AM

Therefore, as Americans, we've decided to take a break and bag the world for exactly one year.

Great. [--deleted-- ] off and never come back.

- The Rest Of The World.

[Thanks, frizzled. It is a rare moment when we get a delegate from the World in here that is also empowered to speak for it. We are chastised. ]

Posted by: frizzled at September 4, 2005 3:26 AM

Dear USA:
What a happy coincidence! the rest of the world (our central banks, actually) have decided to take a holiday, too. For a year, there'll be no more shovelling over our hard-earned yen and whatnot to prop up your massive current account deficit, to keep your dollar artificially inflated or to finance your federal government. Our equity investors will also be taking a well-earned break. You may also notice a distinctive lack of high-quality imported goods, IT expertise, natural resources, decent automobiles and cheap labour, to name but a few random examples. But rest assured they will be there once our holiday's over, since we've got the cold hard cash to keep them in business (although they might be just a bit more expensive by then).
Enjoy the holidays!

Posted by: brad the impaler at September 4, 2005 3:42 AM

All foreign aid is going to become internal aid.

What, all 0.16% of your GDP? Oh, mercy, however will we be able to cope?
[Hey, every cent counts. Especially when that modicum powers numerous nations.]

We'll be running trade on the one dollar in one dollar out basis, so if you want to come out of this year with favored nation status, you'd best have your Visa card out.

You really don't understand your trade position, do you? [Oh,no, not at all. Just lost on me. ] The US runs a chronic deficit because it needs foreign funds for investments. [Really? Who knew? ] You don't save enough to keep your economy ticking over. [Woe is us.]

If a 2000 mile wall appeared around America tomorrow, cutting all commerce and intercourse entirely, the world would stagger, cope and go on.
[In a 14th century sort of way, yes.]

Quite nicely after a while, [Make that 100 years minimum ]actually - there'd be more oil to go round. [And there it would stay] The US economy would collapse. [You first.] If you were lucky, your standard of living would stabilise at the level you had around the end of the 19th century.[Quite nicely ahead of the 14th century standard that would prevail elsewhere wherever a modicum of civilization managed to survive.]

Whoever wrote this is fundamentally ignorant of America's real position as regards world trade. [But not, he notes, as deeply ignorant of fundamental reading comprehension as the commenter.]

Please do implement this modest proposal. It'll be tough coping with the loss of a twentieth of the world's population greedily consuming a quarter of its resources, sucking capital away from investments in our own countries, and throwing its weight around like a drunken frat-boy - but we'll manage somehow. And after all, what does America really provide the world these days?
[A market for all your goods?]

The only drawback is that we'll have to get our action movies from Hong Kong instead...
[The drawback to that is that you won't have the price of admission, nor the power for the projector, no the means to ship it in.]

Posted by: Phoenician in a time of Romans at September 4, 2005 4:43 AM

just askin (11:28)

Thanks! I KNEW the name James Wolcott rang a bell when I first saw it is this thread.

Posted by: rickl at September 4, 2005 4:44 AM

You should be ashamed of yourself.

Posted by: Ev at September 4, 2005 4:46 AM

Brilliant! This is the best satire of wingnut mental illness I've read since I visited "Jesus' General" 10 minutes ago.

Keep 'em commin' G!

Posted by: Brian Linse at September 4, 2005 5:05 AM

Ask for a meeting with Dick Cheney. Tell him you are advocating the return of all military personnel from Iraq, for a year.

He'll bitch-slap you silly up and down his office for a full hour.

Posted by: SteinL at September 4, 2005 5:29 AM

The nations of the world are reaching out to aid the United States and your first response is to write a pathetic, uninformed screed about how the world leeches off the USA's wealth. You're a fool.

You also clearly have no appreciation whatsoever of the USA's mutual dependence on the outside world. Take an economics course. You haven't got a clue.

["...your first response..." Again, I see that you haven't read in anykind of comprehensive fashion, starting with and ending with the date at which this was first composed. Please pay attention, no matter how difficult it may be. ]

Posted by: mf at September 4, 2005 5:35 AM

Dick Cheney ("I had other priorities") and Dear Leader ("I don't know why I got jumped ahead of 100,000 people in line for that National Guard slot.") both learned a lot about 'bitch slapping' during their service to our country during Vietnam. As did Tom DeLay (who wanted to join but couldn't because, his word, "minorities" took all the combat arms slots). Thank god being a draft dodger doesn't keep you from knowing how to order other people's sons and daughters to war.

Look out world, our Army is overextended and bogged down in the mid-east, but we can drop Dick Cheney out of a B-52 on you! He throws a mean tizzy fit!

And just because we contribute 1/10th the amount per capita of foreign aid that European countries give doesn't mean you shouldn't kiss up to us!

Posted by: Ben at September 4, 2005 6:07 AM

Seems to be working so far.

Posted by: Gerard Van Der Leun at September 4, 2005 7:21 AM


You're welcome. Can't you just feel the love in here? Where did all these lovely people come from so suddenly?

Posted by: just askin at September 4, 2005 7:41 AM

DAVID WARREN tracks the evolution, or rather 'devolution' on really bad ideas in Bad Gumbo:

"To be honest with you, people who are oppressed all their lives, man, it's an opportunity to get back at society," said a certain Mike Franklin, glibly explaining the scene before the cameras to the Associated Press.

How wonderfully that sentence encapsulates the spirit of postmodern liberalism. In complete ignorance of his intellectual ancestry, this simple clod repeats an idea that has descended from arcane roots in Descartes, to Rousseau, and through Marx, to Frantz Fanon, and through the sociology departments of the universities, to daytime television, and out into popular cliché, till it has finally settled in the sewers of New Orleans. It is the idea of "victimhood"; the idea that a man is not responsible for his acts; that he is instead a victim of the oppression of some abstraction called "society" -- because he is black, or on welfare, or whatever. And everyone who isn't can be held guilty, regardless of how they have actually behaved.
Posted by: Gerard Van Der Leun at September 4, 2005 7:51 AM

And for the differently clued among us, may I suggest some light reading, with links to numerous examples. Don't forget to take notes on the paper with the big spaces between the lines.

Posted by: Gerard Van Der Leun at September 4, 2005 7:55 AM

You should add to N.B.:Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits AND COMMENTS OF EMPLOYEE OF UN AND UNIVERSITY PROFESSORS will......

Posted by: AlDr. at September 4, 2005 9:20 AM

Now now, even the afflicted are welcome here if they don't make a mess on the floor.

Posted by: Gerard Van Der Leun at September 4, 2005 9:36 AM

Yes, that's what we need: to lash at the world with our military might! Because, you know, there's never enough misery and suffering in the world.

Truly, it is amazing that in the wake of the worst natural disaster in our country's history, that a grown man wrote these words.

Time to check that moral compass the right likes to talk about so much. I think, at least in your case, that it's in urgent need of repair.

[Time to check your calendar. "in the wake of the worst natural disaster..." Actually, you might first want to repair your own skills in reading comprehension and how, in general, time works in the universe.]

Posted by: chuck at September 4, 2005 11:30 AM

Ah, so much knee-jerking. So much certainty from so little reading comprehension.

Posted by: Gerard Van Der Leun at September 4, 2005 12:00 PM

As has been pointed out already, given the authors last name, and the invaluable assistance the Dutch will be providing us in New Orleans, this is a rather odd post.

However, given the prevailing news of the day, it's not at all suprising.

It's called moronic deflection. Cached as parody no less.

And I have to wonder if the author has ever posessed a passport. Much less utilized it.

[Dear "Davebo," The parody cache is thataway up by the sixth pine from the right. You must reflect on that when you seek to cast aspersions on others. Poor usage deflects from you main point.]

Posted by: Davebo at September 4, 2005 12:45 PM

Gerard writes: "Pace, Peter, Pace.... I well know the interconnectedness of things in the 21st century."

No, Gerard, you don't, or you would simply not think about these things the way you do.
[No, Chris, I actually do, but I don't think I'll spare the time to rehearse them at this moment, but I will get around to it in the next 60 days. Promise.]

What you've written is neither satiric nor ironic, and you knew that when you wrote it.

[Pure Judgment Call, Vosberg. And in this, I don't think your particular judgment is at all valid, but you knew that when you made it. As to what I knew when I wrote this in January, that is not given to you to know, nor shall it be.]

Calling it satire-- as last-minute request for license to indulge your incredibly puerile Heinleinian woldview-- isn't going to fool anyone.

[Obviously not you, my sharp little ferret. But I do like "Henleinian Woldview." It has the slightly Germanic overtones that make it a keeper. I may use it.]

This is simply pornography for survivalists, isolationists and the black helicopter crowd, and your clear enthusiasm for nuclear brinkmanship turns my stomach.

[Cowboy up, Chris, or you are not going to be ready for what history is going to shove down your throat in the next decade.]

Do me a favor, please: show your neighbors what you've written, especially those with children. You're not interested so much in their commentary here, you just want to make sure they know you're there. Every second counts when trying to defuse a crisis, and it's important they don't waste time wondering why when you climb up on the roof and start picking off UPS men and mail carriers, convinced they're from the U.N. and there to force you into compliance with a new world order run by a secret cabal of extraterrestrials living in caves on the moon.

[That was actually pretty good. In fact, I'd say its a personal best to date. Alas, like many, you never know when to stop and must compulsively sign off with....]

Disgustedly yours,

[Hint: As Picasso once said, "Always stop before you're finished." Off course, he was working without the knowledge of the autoerotic elements of a comments thread. ]

Posted by: Chris Vosburg at September 4, 2005 12:56 PM

American Digest condensed version:
Waah, I'm taking my marbles home.
Nobody loves me. Waaah!

Posted by: crackpot at September 4, 2005 1:18 PM

Great stuff, Gerard. Great satire is so wasted on some people.

Posted by: TmjUtah at September 4, 2005 1:45 PM

And bad satire just plain wastes all of our time ...

Posted by: Jason at September 4, 2005 2:02 PM

Thanks, Tim.

Ah, Jason, it appears that you have much time to waste. But thanks for stopping by.

Posted by: Gerard Van Der Leun at September 4, 2005 2:08 PM

I don't ... which is exactly why I'm unhappy with you for misleading me into thinking I was getting satire. I feel betrayed!

Now I'm just in for the conversation.

Posted by: Jason at September 4, 2005 2:39 PM

Well, given the composition of the assembled I am afraid you are going to have to get inure yourself to disappointment.

Still, " 'We can but try' must be the motto of the firm."

Posted by: Gerard Van Der Leun at September 4, 2005 2:46 PM

You are going to have to start locking your doors at night Gerard ... making sure the windows are latched ... otherwise the creepy crawlies find a way in.

Posted by: Steel Turman at September 4, 2005 4:17 PM

Gurgle gurgle...

Posted by: The US Economy at September 4, 2005 4:28 PM

Want some help?

Where should we send the doctors we have lined up for you?

Posted by: Fidel Castro at September 4, 2005 4:56 PM

Where do you want us to send all these blankets you asked for?

Posted by: The EU at September 4, 2005 4:57 PM

Here's Afghanistan's donation to help with the reconstruction...

Posted by: Hamid Karzai at September 4, 2005 4:58 PM

Hmmm. I thought that progressives considered broken windows were good for an economy? Stand by for a reconstruction that will make Andrew and Ivan look like Habitat weekends...

I remember when it was thought that the Kuwait oil fires would burn for three years. Or that the LA freeway system would be out of comission for five after Ridgecrest (please correct me if I'm wrong on which quake, of course). Then there was that Worst Economy Since The Great Depression talking point. Unemployment was a big talking point for awhile, then that tendicious "wrong kind of jobs" addendum got floated like a brick. And the thankfully departed Tom Daschle did equate stock market index losses with poll advantages.

How old it must get to wait- to HOPE- for collapse as an instrument for political advantage. How small.

New Orleans the city will certainly be unlivable for quite a while. The industry of the port, and of the Gulf economy as a whole, might just turn out to be a bit more resilient than initial doomsayers appreciate. There's several hundred thousand Gulf coast residents and their rescuers that will get up tomorrow and start working toward restoring the communities there. They will get up the next day, and the day after that, and the vast majority of them aren't going to invest a lot of time in assessing just Who Fucked Up The Most - we have political junkies and media shills for that - but will just get back to living their lives as best they can. The physical assistance provided by government is going to pale against the volume of aid provided by private citizens via charities and other private groups.

I'm intrigued by the possibilities for improving a lot of our disaster response mechanisms as a result of this event, and I can't help but wonder if the people of Louisiana won't take this opportunity to clean a little house while they rebuild.

I will go out on a limb here and predict that when the next big hurricane hits New Orleans, the bus yards will be empty.

Time fills.

Posted by: TmjUtah at September 4, 2005 5:30 PM

Wow, Gerard, I bet you could obscure the sense of what I wrote even further by fisking the individual words on at a time. You know, something like:



[Totally dude, fer sure. Where are we, the valley?]

, Gerard

[My we're getting so personal now...]


[Well of course it's all about you isn't it?]


Good Lord, what a coward you are.

Posted by: Chris Vosburg at September 4, 2005 8:20 PM

Incidentally, I can't resist asking-- what's your favorite Henlein novel?

"Farmer in the Sky?" "Stranger in a Strange Coop?" "Time Enough For Egg Laying?"

Posted by: Chris Vosburg at September 4, 2005 8:30 PM

Um, when exactly are you going to make good on this?

This charming article was originally published on Jan. 2, 2005 but I have yet to see any indication of the aforementioned "sabattical".

(Yes, yes, no need to poke fun at me. I realize that these are the remarks of a solitary blowhard who has absolutely no influence on the national policies of the United States.)

Ah well, we here in "the rest of the world" are still eagerly looking forward to "US Sabbatical Year."

And thanks for the much-needed laughs in regards to the not-so-subtle threats about sending your fearsome military to rattle our cages if you need "extra oil". After seeing your mighty forces in action in Iraq and New Orleans, I would have to say.... "yeah, we're quaking in our boots".

Face it, dude, the image of America The Great, The Shining City On The Hill, Land Of Freedom, Leader Of The Free World.... is DEAD IN THE WATER.

And that cliché was deliberately chosen.

[From your vast stock, no doubt.]

Posted by: Prof. Brian O'Blivion at September 4, 2005 8:43 PM

Geez, who in the world tracked back to this? I haven't seen so many clowns in one place since the last time Ringling Bros. came through my town. Heh. Good one GvL. That piece was a nice sharp stick.

Posted by: Eric Blair at September 4, 2005 8:56 PM

From a Woltroll:

The notion of the People's Republic of China and Japan calling in those trillions of dollars of Treasury Bill notes they're holding, which, in the spirit of your proposed sabatical, might be a reasonable action... well, lets just say, I hope you don't hold an adjustable rate mortgage. Or a fixed for that matter.


By the way, does anyone else notice how the author of this missive doesn't really respond to any of the comments posted? Just tosses off a what I'm sure he thinks is a clever one liner? I actually think he doesn't beleive what he writes, he just gets off on hit count. And I bit.

Happy to help, Gerry, [== deleted in order to keep commenter from embarrassing himself == ]

Posted by: aldorossi at September 4, 2005 9:04 PM

The author doesn't really have to respond in any detail to these comments. Whatever makes you think he does? He's had his say in the initial post which seems to have had its intended effect.

Posted by: Gerard Van Der Leun at September 4, 2005 9:13 PM

Well, allow me to retort!

Please, where, in your original post, do you address the issue of US debt held by foreign countries?

And more importantly, what is the "intended effect"? Did I stumble upon a parody of a right wing blog?

Satire? Sarcasm? Any of these "effects" would logically suggest that you are indeed a fellow traveler, among us, the trolls, oh welcome, come into the light, children...

BTW, as for the line you deleted, why would
I be embarassed? Ger, do we have issues...?

Posted by: aldorossi at September 4, 2005 9:58 PM

On second thought:

Upon closer reading of the Mr. VdL's response, I will gladly cry: Uncle!

I am the first to admit that I have absolutely no skill in the "I know you are but what am I?" School of Debate, last encountered at fourth grade recess, Westside Elementary School, 1979. I give.

Thought I was playing with adults, sorry.

Buh bye, off to disinfect.

Posted by: aldorossi at September 4, 2005 10:30 PM

Take that attitude with your own next-door-neighbor and see where it gets you!!!

The most public example of what you are describing that I can think of right now (being a computer guy) is what ICANN (the Internet standards body) tried a few years back. They tried to make other countries pay enormous fees to participate in ICANN's centralized system.

Well guess what? The other guys threatened to pick up their ball and go home. They would make their own Internet, you see, and *we* would be on the outside. ICANN, of course, had to sheepishly back down.

All commerce is based on mutual benefit. The benefits derived *to* American for those foreign aid are strategic military, political, humanitarian, and economic. It's not a lot of money, either, especially not for what we get for it.

The dissolution of the League of Nations was a troubling harbinger of World War II, where millions upon millions died. Since I'm an Average Joe Citizen and would like to avoid getting caught up in another planet-wide human population cull, I suggest the UN-bashers take a breather. It's better to be on bad terms with your neighbors than no terms at all.

Posted by: General Chaos at September 4, 2005 11:16 PM

Oh dear. It would just seem that some people have just totally lost their sense of humor about things now. Sad. Very sad.

Posted by: greg at September 5, 2005 8:48 AM

"And yet to what end shall we ever bring our discussions, or what bounds can be set to our discourse, if we proceed on the principle that we must always reply to those who reply to us?

"For those who are either unable to understand our arguments, or are so hardened by the habit of contradiction, that though they understand they cannot yield to them, reply to us, and, as it is written, "speak hard things," and are incorrigibly vain.

"Now, if we were to propose to confute their objections as often as they with brazen face chose to disregard our arguments, and so often as they could by any means contradict our statements, you see how endless, and fruitless, and painful a task we should be undertaking.

"And therefore I do not wish my writings to be judged even by you, my son Marcellinus, nor by any of those others at whose service this work of mine is freely and in all Christian charity put, if at least you intend always to require a reply to every exception which you hear taken to what you read in it; for so you would become like those silly women of whom the apostle says that they are "always learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." -- St. Augustine, "City of God," Book II

Posted by: Gerard Van Der Leun at September 5, 2005 9:43 AM

Thanks for the St. Augustine ref on the value of sulking, Gerard. Here's an even more appropriate one, which has the added benefit of being concise:

"I meant to do that."

--Pee Wee Herman

Posted by: Chris Vosburg at September 5, 2005 11:18 AM

Oh, out of curiosity, which actor's voice do you usually imitate when you shuffle around the house in your bathrobe testing out the tough-sounding comic book appeal of such lines as "But if we need extra oil and we ask, you'd better think twice before you say no?" Clint Eastwood? John Wayne? Scharzenegger?

Jack Webb?

Man, you gotta try this next time: I just read a few paragraphs of your manifesto to my girlfriend, in a Christopher Walken voice. We laughed for hours!

Posted by: Chris Vosburg at September 5, 2005 11:29 AM

Well, there's someone for everyone, isn't there?

Posted by: Gerard Van Der Leun at September 5, 2005 11:41 AM

When your sabbatical is over the US economy will require a European Marshall plan to get back on its feet again.

Oh and who took all August off for vacation?

Posted by: European at September 5, 2005 2:11 PM

That would be, as usual, Europe.

Posted by: Gerard Van Der Leun at September 5, 2005 2:27 PM

Hey kids!

Let's play that great new internet game...

Posted by: frank lloyd wrong at September 5, 2005 4:07 PM

You're ahead so far, frank. Come back real soon now.

Posted by: Gerard Van Der Leun at September 5, 2005 4:27 PM

Sorry, Frank, I didn't quite get that. I had read nearly all of it, but had to go offline for a bit to return a phone call, and when I refreshed upon going back online, it was inexplicably gone. I know there wasn't anything obscene or offensive to the average person in it, so I'm baffled as to what could have become of it.

Could you repost? Thanks!

Posted by: Chris Vosburg at September 5, 2005 5:09 PM

I had no idea there were so many humorless, underinformed people out there. And to think they all feed off of Wolcott's sad, hateful tit. Gross.

Posted by: Uncle Mikey at September 5, 2005 5:20 PM

Good idea. I'll wait here with you. Did you pack a lunch?

Posted by: Gerard Van Der Leun at September 5, 2005 5:20 PM

You know, these times it's hard to tell the difference between Scrappleface/The Onion and what US politicians really say. Pat Buchanan, anyone?

Posted by: European at September 5, 2005 5:30 PM

Gerard - I love the fury of the Wolcott Weevils! They come out in force, inspired no doubt by JW's use of the word "fuckwit." That's a powerful word, you see, and JW uses it wisely and well. Argument is out of his reach but profanity he's got well in hand.

BTW, I was going to say happy Labor |Day but I observe you've had a blast popping the Wolcott Weevils between your nails. Cheers - DA

Posted by: Das at September 5, 2005 6:52 PM

Contrast Ben Stein's latest about New Orleans in the Spectator with JW's vulgar orifice imagery. There is no comparison, Stein comes of as a man whereas JW some kind of jailhouse groiner. Notice JW can't sustain argument without bringing in the physicals of the human trunk zone? JW seems not to have recovered from the realization that people outside the upper left side don't think he is witty and marvelous; hence the embittered scatolgy.

Posted by: Das at September 5, 2005 7:13 PM

Don't be silly, Das.

The Spectator can't exist without a heavy infusion of right wing money outside of that paid by subscribers, and very nearly dies every time a major donor dies.

Vanity Fair depends on, wonder of wonder, the subscriber base, so must of necessity feature writers whose popularity extends beyond "the upper left side."

Hint: the United States is not the world.

[Ten yards and loss of down for stating the obvious]

Posted by: Chris Vosburg at September 5, 2005 7:52 PM

[Sorry, Chris, but you've used up you 12K worth of commentary. See ya.]

Posted by: Chris Vosburg at September 5, 2005 8:08 PM

Das, I owe you an apology.

[ Commenter fails to add value after this point.]

Posted by: Chris Vosburg at September 5, 2005 8:21 PM

1- Yes please do piss off for a year, hell make it a decade.
2- Your self regard about America's generosity is a bit much. Yer not that damn generous.
3- The tarrif on foreign automobiles is interesting. Are you finally admitting that an American company can't make a decent car anymore?
4- Autarky worked soo well for the USSR. I am sure patriotic Americans will love the lower standard of living it brings.

So yes yes. Go away.

PS as a member of the left wing criminal conspiracy to destroy America and Chistianity I have to let you know that the Grey Lady, The New York Times, is the Republicans Pravda. A cesspool of collaborators pretending to be journalists who eagerly help the administrations political hacks to discredit opponents of the GOP machine and end up in jail to protect their "sources" There isn't a GOP press release that the New Pravda doesn't fall for. Ya wingnut.

Posted by: Crazy Nut at September 6, 2005 7:59 AM

Dude needs to understand that the rest of the world (hereinafter ROW) keeps lending money to USA so that latter can buy ROW's goods, but knowing that this ever growin loan will never be, can never be repaid ... ergo, ROW is doin this simply to postpone the inevitable collapse of the dollar. Now, you wanna bring that collapse on right now, you is doing ROW a favour, forcin it to de dollarise all at once, preventin otherwise inevitable dedollarisation fights pf the 'you first, no, you first' type.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley at September 6, 2005 8:32 AM

It never fails to amaze me that the left/liberal crowd has no sense of humor and takes themselves so seriously.

When I was studying the human mind, one of the tidbits I picked up was that one sign of psychosis is extreme literalism in everything, an inablility to see generalizations or to work with abstractions such as humor.

Posted by: Bill at September 6, 2005 9:02 AM

I used to be amazed, but now I'm just amused. I'm leaving shreds of this faux serious mind set intact as a monument to their enduring idiocy.

And also noting this:

  • BUSH DERANGEMENT SYNDROME MARCHES ON! Varifrank: 10 Things I learned From Hurricane Katrina. : "The weirdest and hardest thing for me to understand is the large number of people who really and honestly believe that President Bush actually caused the Hurricane. The first response from most of Europe was to say ‘serves them right’ and to point out that the Hurricane was in fact caused by President Bush’s policies on climate, almost as if he had a big analog knife switch on his desk marked ‘ Bad weather’ at one end and ‘good weather' at the other and that he would grab with both hands and flip it towards 'bad weather' and giggle out loud with a big snidely whiplash laugh.
  • This to me is the most staggering example of human stupidity since the creation of the ‘Whip Inflation Now’ button. Because President Bush didn’t support the Kyoto treaty means that the weather has changed for the worse is utterly asinine. There is no better example of modern mans turn from scientific reasoning than this simple belief in the minds of so many people."

    Posted by: Gerard Van Der Leun at September 6, 2005 11:46 AM


    Posted by: A Hermit at September 7, 2005 2:37 PM

    Sorry, Hermit, but all the good obscenity and stupidity slots were already taken.

    Posted by: Gerard Van Der Leun at September 7, 2005 3:43 PM

    " finish the relief efforts undertaken with the rest of the world to alleviate and help rebuild the shattered lives throughout the tsunami-shredded lands"

    Considering the U.S. is effectively the smallest donor per person to the Tsunami effort(I think you beat Bulgaria), in both personal and Government donations, the generosity of the rest of the world should be able to cover it.
    Ditto for contributions for developing countries:
    Norway gives a whopping $313 / person;
    The U.S. $23 / person
    The U.K. is precisely triple at $69 / person

    Posted by: macgruder at September 8, 2005 7:46 AM

    Almost as hoary a chestnut as "Bush lied!"

    Okay, that's the division part of the equation. Now do the population multiplication. You know, the one that asks the question, "Would you rather have $10 from 10 people, or $5 from 100 people?"

    Posted by: Gerard Van Der Leun at September 8, 2005 8:07 AM

    'You know, the one that asks the question, "Would you rather have $10 from 10 people, or $5 from 100 people?"'

    That's a laugh:
    Do you mean
    $97 each from 450 million EU members:
    $63 each from 300 million Americans

    Yeah, I think I'll take the $43 billion from the Europeans, thank you very much rather than the $19 billion from the States.

    The source? Oh, the CIA factbook.

    Posted by: macgruder at September 9, 2005 7:50 AM