How To Not Win a Civil War You Are Not Fighting; A Thinkpiece

For this article, I’ll need you to remember two numbers. 1. $500,000,000 and 2. 60.

I know a good number of you have stopped reading because I put this task to you, but hang tough: this is a team effort.

Let’s start with the first number. $500,000,000 is the number of moneys that the United States has invested in the effort to train moderate Syrian soldiers in order to fight the growing threat of Isis in Syria and the Middle East. This number makes no sense in the political landscape, so I’ll try to put it into perspective.

If you went to a Dollar Store, you could by 500,000,000 things (pre-tax). (Assuming they were all one dollar). If you were buying an Island worth $400,000,000, you could still stop at the Dollar Store afterwards.

Now that we’ve established the sheer scope of that money, let’s deal with the other number you have been tasked to remember.

Sixty. As in, the U.S. effort to train moderate Syrian soldiers has resulted 60 soldiers trained. The hope was to train 5,000, but we have 60. I do not want to get over-technical in this post, but that is 1.2% (source: calculator) of the soldiers that they were hoping would wage anti-jihad against ISIS. Another surprising stat, each one of these soldiers are worth $8,333,333.33 (source: rough estimate).

Now, seeing the military genius of President Obama in years passed, I can confidently say that there is more than meets the eye here. Surely this group of men, smaller than the average attendance of a Christian Death Metal concert, is much more than meets the eye. Here are some possible explanations.

  • Have you ever seen the movie the Expendables? Me neither, but I heard a solid summary about it. Perhaps each of these soldiers are the Dolph Lundgren or Mickey Rourke of Syria.
  • Some type of Robo-soldier, like the TV show The Million Dollar Man, but because of our crappy healthcare and super inflation, it takes $8.3 mil a man.
  • Each of these soldiers received a signing bonus, a early success bonus, a referral bonus, and their first 1,000 years of salary upfront.
  • Typical Government idiocracy and waste.

At this point, the Pentagon admits that they are going to no longer try to recruit moderate Syrians, of whom we may have recruited all the ones that aren’t currently refugees in the EU, and they are going to switch gears and teach this group of warriors, the amount of whom could fill two typical classrooms in high school, how to call in air-strikes by the U.S.

Now, that sounds perfect and will definitely defeat President Assad ISIS our hopes for a peaceful Syria, but as a token of goodwill, I have created a list of ideas which we could waste $500,000,000 on more efficiently.

  1. Offer President Bashar al-Assad $500,000,000 to stop being evil. Honestly, that’s a lot of money.
  2. Pay the people we have already trained to fight the wars that we are trying to fight through a collection of soldiers smaller than most lines at a Check’n’Cash. (Proxy wars are sooooo ’80s)
  3. Pay Google $500,000,000 to make all of this go away. (You know as well as I do that they have a secret robot army).
  4. Pile the $500,000,000 on a Pentagram and burn it to please the Old Ones, asking those deities to destroy our enemies.
  5. Invest in infrastructure or some other dumb idea.
  6. Convert the $500,000,000 into Sacagawea dollar coins and literally make it rain on ISIS. (Note: would be pretty awesome.)

Hillary Clinton and The Spirit of the Law

What difference does it make if you know her?

A media-kerfuffle has exploded following relative political newby Hillary Clinton, apparently a former New York Senator and previous Secretary of State. Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of her, even though rumors are abound that she might run for president in 2008 2012 2016.

Apparently, Clinton (D) has been criticized for conducting her Secretary of State business from a private e-mail address, She created a “Homebrew” e-mail server, which is fine, if you want to send spam for your Etsy business to your coworkers without letting Betsy in HR know that you spend 6 hours a day making Heart-Shaped potpourri containers on Angie List’s dime. However, if you are trying to abide by the Freedom of Information Act, then no. That is clearly not okay. (Neither is the potpourri side-hustle, but keep it on the DL).

But don’t worry. In an effort to save face do the rightest thing, Clinton (who may be related to a former president? Damn, she sounds familiar) gave a press conference explaining that she is going to turn over all of the e-mails. I mean half of the e-mails. Because apparently 30,000+ were personal. About yoga, wedding dresses, and e-mails to Bill. (What? Bill Clinton claims he’s only sent two e-mails during his presidency? Wait ’til he sees his inbox!) But she poured through them all in a matter of days to determine what was important and what was personal and handed them over to the State Department. By printing them out on paper and handing over the paper to the state department.

"Hillary,"  he said with a angry fit. "I am the Lorax and that's some low-down shit"
“Hillary,” he said with a angry fit.
“I am the Lorax and this is some shady-ass shit”

Thirty thousand e-mails. Printed. I’d imagine majority are on one sheet of paper, but surely some take two pages. So thirty thousand pages of paper or more. Paper which was electronic. Paper that is not easily searched. Paper that, of course, will need to be scanned with text recognition software in order to be added to the big file of all documents ever in the government. Paper that assuredly will need to be shredded first because it could contain State secrets. Paper that makes the Lorax pissed as hell at the hypocrite wing of the Democrat party. (Need more info? Stop by Al Gore’s Mansion).

And in the process, Hillary stolded (that’s when you told and scolded the American public at the same time, kind of like Presidentsplaining) America that she complied with “both the letter and the spirit of the law.”

Let me drop a heaping helping of funksplaining on you: whenever someone claims they followed the spirit of the law, they didn’t. The whole point of mentioning the spirit of the law is to bring attention to the fact that, on occasion, things are legal and also wrong. Hillary Clinton, in the best case scenario, found a loophole, but at no point, when she conducted State business on a private server that only she, Bill, and the pool boy Marco had access to, when she obfuscated documents in the midst of the investigation of the cover-up in Benghazi that left four Americans dead, when she took it upon herself to parse through her own e-mails and hand over what she considered State business and what she deemed unimportant, did she follow the spirit of the law. And in a country where the Constitution is an afterthought and the Clintons are a by-word for business-as-usual, the spirit of the law doesn’t need this abuse.

At least the NSA assuredly saved all of those e-mails, along with everything else ever written ever. Oh God, did I just say that?

Brian Gross is funky as usually. Support him by sharing this blog before he goes back underground.

The Tax Man Bloweth

I wanted out, but they always drag me back in.

On Friday afternoon, what began in hopes of being an innocuous story dump as the White House Press corps started mixing their first drinks quickly turned into the unraveling of a scandal that will assuredly dog the Obama administration into the 2014 midterms. The Internal Revenue Service, in performing their exemplary duties of taking from Peter to pay Paul, decided to start also keeping tabs on tax-exempt Conservative groups. Because that’s not terrifying.

First off, the administration’s reaction of blaming the Cincinnati branch’s base-level employees is clearly, as we have seen with Benghazi, a smoke screen to protect higher-ups. We saw this same blame with the large scale release of arrested illegal immigrants when the administration tried to create a monster out of the sequester. But what is new is how confidently they threw those Cincinnati employees under the bus when evidence to the contrary has so quickly come out, and already by Monday was it clear that this was an active strategy being employed against these groups.

Secondly, the targeting was not solely on Tea Party groups, as both the administration and the IRS have claimed, but instead indiscriminately focusing on politically right-leaning groups of all sorts. Again, the claim was made so confidently that it nearly sounded as if the administration had consulted the IRS before it spoke. The targets went so far as groups which questioned how the country was being led. (If this was done under George W. Bush, the question of impeachment would be when, not if.) The type of information the agency demanded, to be informed of all volunteers in these organizations, to name donors, is simply beyond the scope of anything the IRS should or could be involved in. Therefore it must go deeper.

However, this is the truly exasperating part. We all know what the IRS is, we all know how intentionally inaccessible the agency has become. (Don’t believe me? Try calling their help line, talk to a human being, and then resume reading when you’re done in four days). The IRS has created a mystique of an all-knowing nature, that you need to fill that 1040 out to the T in order to keep the ever-watchful eye of Sauron off of you. And you know how intimidating the IRS can be if even one item is out of order. A constant stream of letters, opaque language filled with reference codes, and demands for immediate action. 

But the IRS in my mind was previously at least a neutral beast. The beatnik in central park reciting Thoreau and the mountain man prepper in the hills of South Carolina living Thoreau could both come together to agree that the agency was horrifying, intransparent and heavy-handed those G-men could be. But now, the agency is taking sides. Maybe it reads the writing on the wall, maybe it realizes that those meddling small governmenters would only lead to a reduction in the power of the agency. But I think it has gotten a taste what is to come: the implementation of Obamacare, the revenue collection end of which it will undertake. The expansion of power must simply be intoxicating to the IRS, so who can blame them for taking sides? 

And that is the future towards which we’re haphazardly hurtling. In a matter of months the IRS will assume responsibility in funding the largest expansion of government since Henry the Eighth made the Church of England. And those are the people, the scary IRS agents with a grudge against conservatives, who will decide how much healthcare you get. Better not join any groups.

As for the true involvement of the administration, I am sure it is minimal. Al Capone never needed to point out a rat to an underling and say “Now kill that guy, please.” In a time when Conservative has become a by-word for ignorant homophobic racist, when the Vice President likened Tea Party members to terrorists, when the President is allowed to decide what he previously said on Benghazi and when, it should be no surprise when an apolitical government agency has taken sides in quelling the opposition. Unfortunately, we live in a culture of fear and intimidation for thoughts and opinions, and those agents in the IRS had no doubts on how exactly to curry favor with the ruling class. 

His Grossness is back. Tell your neighbors, tell your friends, but for the love of God don’t tell the IRS.

Hugo We Hardly Knew Ya

One of the angels now.
One of the angels now.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez died earlier today, March 5th, bringing to close a long and distinguished career as a beloved nemesis of the United States. The dictator is survived by his Vice President Nicholas Maduro, who has big shoes to fill in the Southern American country if he wants to make such waves as Chavez. His death, assigned to complications from the unspecific lower body cancer (probably butt cancer), came after a long fight in which he did not trust his own nation’s doctors to fight, instead relying on the superb health system of Cuba. The League of Nefarious Rulers, comprised of Kim Jong Un and Vladimar Putin, sent their condolences.

Rarely do we here at Republican Funk celebrate the death of anyone, (just breathe a huge sigh of relief and silent hi-five ourselves), but for Hugo it is something different entirely. I might actually miss him. Who can forget such classics as when, speaking to the U.N. a day after President Bush spoke, Chavez said “The Devil came here yesterday. It still smells of sulfur.” Or when, speculating on why no life was found on Mars, he postulated “maybe Capitalism arrived there, imperialism arrived, and finished off the planet.” NASA could not be reached for confirmation.

Chavez’s long fight with the super cancer the CIA gave him normal cancer that was still pretty bad should be a starting point where we talk about what everyone seems to be ignoring: the near superhuman longevity bestowed upon the enemies of America. Let’s make a quick run down.

1. Vladimir Putin, having not only survived but thrived in the toppling of the Kremlin and the implosion of the KGB, only to emerge a Judo-knowing badass to rival any 1980s paramilitary bad guy.

2. Fidel Castro, now 86, has survived entire generations of CIA operatives failing to assassinate him (with beard poison).

Castro pictured demonstrating the unpoisonability of that beard.
Castro pictured demonstrating the unpoisonability of that beard.

3. Kim Jong Il, now deceased, should be marveled at simply for making it to the ripe old age of 70, which is considered an amazing feat compared to any average North Korean man’s lifespan (might triple it).

Chavez’s own grip to life can only be compared to the tight fist he kept over his country, if only to direct that country against the imperial devil (seriously, why does everyone keep calling us that?). So I want to extend a big Republican Funk congratulations for putting up such a good fight.

Oh, and Sean Penn is saddened by the death, marking the 8,322 consecutive day in a row I haven’t cared what Sean Penn does or thinks.

Some important notes on the life of Chavez: it is estimated now that the Socialist Dictator may have had 2 billion in his own personal accounts and private investments. Which I need to underline the dictator part of that. Dictators, on the whole, skim off the top and become wildly rich on the sufferings of their own people. Kind of a lot. It is just all the more ironic when they throw the ‘socialist’ qualifier in front. If the whole Wall Street banking thing doesn’t work out, these hoity-toity 1 percenters that everyone hates so much should try third world dictatorship. None of the stress of the public outrage from the first two worlds! (And the health packages seem tempting).

As we prepare to say goodbye to one of our most esteemed villains, it is important to consider the methods behind the man that gave him such unparalleled popularity (for being, you know, a dictator). The oil-rich country enjoyed some of the profits of their massives exports to the tune of essentially $.12 a gallon gasoline. You read that right, the Venezuelans have to pay more for a gallon of air than a gallon of gasoline. How is it sustainable? Well, simply put, it isn’t. The government’s handout in this case is so wildly unsustainable, in fact, that most of the politicians running against Chavez (and toward common sense policy) actually have to campaign against handouts to the people. Talk about running against Santa Claus.

So consider how politically crafty making a government program untenable and forcing the other side to be the bad guys while you read yourself up on the disclosed e-mails revealing how government programs dealing with the sequester are being ordered to purposefully make the cuts look more painful instead of doing them intelligently. Might look like one of those, you know, coincidences.

Brian Gross is confident that the League of Nefarious Rulers is eyeing up the Queen to step it. She probably has another twenty years in her if she starts hating America now. Help Brian in his paranoid delusions by following this blog!

Chicago Values: A Tale of Two Rahms

In my never ending quest to discover Chicago values (and at the same time anger the most powerful man in the city state country state), this hot shot reporter stumbled across a Tuesday morning story ablaze across the airwaves.

Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words.
Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words.

This little gem sits at the corner of Clark and Ontario on the near North side. It advertises another one of now countless internet dating sites, but this one has a special twist: it matches women who need money with men who have money.

“So,” you ask, smartassedly, “like a pimp?”

No, smartass reader, not like a pimp. Because that would make those women prostitutes, whereas these women are just accepting money for sexual acts. So of course this website, affiliated the infamous Ashley Madison, is certainly on the up and up.

The subtlety of the title of the website is overwhelming. Arrangement just screams romance. There couldn’t be a more casual way to state it other than (If that really goes somewhere, I did not send you there).

The website has since explained that there reasoning for advertising in Chicago is due to the high unemployment in the city. I want you to really think about this message. “Hey unemployed women, the world’s oldest profession is still an option.” The overwhelming sexism at play is mollified only by Bree Olson’s seemingly outraged face (some sort of o-face).

But Thursday morning, Rahm Emanuel came out with a hardline stance against the internet-pimps (possibly robot pimps…) saying “Arrangement Finders’ values do not represent Chicago values.”

Oh wait, no. That was Chick-fil-a, that notorious poultry peddler, who dared to try to open a restaurant while holding opinions on marriage that differed from Rahm’s. What he really said about the prostitution ring putting up the billboard in the heart of the city was:

Look, we have a First Amendment. You usually operate under it. There are certain things you say I don’t think appropriate also. But that said, I’m not gonna respond to that because I haven’t seen it. You’re just reading it to me. But we do have a First Amendment, and I’ve got to take a look into it.

The mayor, flabbergasted, explained that we have a First Amendment. Usually. It’s as if he’s aware of the double standard as he says it. So lets recap. A prostitution website from the makers website specifically for adulterers? Protected by the First Amendment. A company with a CEO who supports traditional marriage? Not the right values.

Perplexing? It should be. The only question left is how Rahm would react if Mcdonalds donated to a charity funding a website for gay marriage adulterers (it could happen!).

In the press conference, when the billboard was first brought up, Rahm claimed he hadn’t seen it, so he couldn’t speak about it. Nor had he met S. Truet Cathy, Chick-fil-a’s CEO, before he made the judgment call that he was wrong. But luckily in this day and age, a reporter was able bring up a photo on his smart phone immediately so Emanuel couldn’t rely on his ignorance as an out. His reaction?

You are a living example of why people should not have either smartphones or technology.

What? Explain that one to me, Rahm. If you truly hadn’t heard about it yet, it seems like a reporter the exact person to have that technology (you know, reporting and all), and you could probably use one, too. That way you could narrow the time between hearing something and having a knee-jerk reaction based on what can only be described as bizarro values.

Brian Gross is looking to make an arrangement. Looking for a discreet, often funny columnist? Then follow this blog and let your friends know (he’s not just a one-reader type of reporter).



Send in the Drones

Yesterday, press secretary and general whipping boy Jay Carney alleviated all of our fears, stating that “[President Obama] thinks that it is legitimate to ask questions about how we prosecute the war against Al-Qaeda.”

"Yes, His Grossness. I'm sure you have a comment."
“Yes, His Grossness. I’m sure you have a comment.”

President Obama says it’s okay to question him, at least on this one issue. So let me take first crack at it.

That admission comes after the drone aspect of the War on Terror Overseas Contingency Operations has fallen into the public spotlight after the death of a 16-year-old American citizen. Quickly following was the release of the Department of Justice’s guidelines for when and where they can kill American citizens.

But I’m not going to take issue with the severe erosion of civil liberties and the collective constitutional spitting the administration is doing with this (you know I worry about that sometimes. And othertimes). I want to take sides with a younger, more idealistic politician. A politician I like to call Barry Obama.

Barry, the near luddite like I am, does not believe that good, hardworking Americans should be replaced with better, harderworking robots. There we can have some common ground, both of us ignoring those American jobs created by inventing, producing, and maintaining those robots (and those criminals who comically try to steal them).

And how soon power changes us. In those four years, my crippling paranoia has only improved (I’m typing on the original Gilligan’s Island’s coconut radio), whilst now Mr. Obama has done a complete 180, replacing good, honest American Killing Machines with actual Killing Machines (which I hope are at least American made).

The average bank teller makes $24,000 nationally. The average army sniper? $35,000. We’re taking away well paying jobs with endless potential (Yemen, here we come). We have recently seen that in America there is no dearth of gun-happy young men, (maybe because there is no jobs for them), and as much as we like to pretend, killing people needs a human touch.

In all reality, people make mistakes, too. I am sure there have been real live American soldiers who killed 16-year-old American citizens. But that’s why we have a court martial system. And if it turns out to be intentional, they get punished. Who’s going to reprimand the machine? There are so many endless amounts of fingerprints on the drones, so many difference people who could take and dodge the blame, that the buck has to stop somewhere.

I’m always cautious when killing becomes too easy. And not just with guns, because (usually) behind a gun you have a person and a conscious, who has to consider and weigh the value of his actions against the value of the opposite’s life. Can you program one of these machines to make these decisions? Can they sense the American citizenship on the heatmass in the crosshairs, realize it’s depriving due process, and kindly move on? An occupying force can win the hearts and minds of an occupied citizenry, but what do the Iraqi or Afghani people think about America when the look up at the dark shadow crossing their skies besides recognizing the sure sign of imperialism.

Brian Gross had his internship as a Doorman stripped away by that door jamb. That stupid door jamb. Help fight machines taking valuable jobs by reading his blog and telling your friends.

The Rhetoric of The Redirect

"Hey, I asked you once already, silence your cellphone, please."
“Hey, I asked you once already, silence your cellphone, please.” -President Barack Obama

During a press conference on Sunday, President Barack Obama was questioned if he had ever, in fact, shot a gun before. Obama claimed that “We go shooting all the time,” stating that he and I would only assume White House Mouthpiece Jay Carney shoot clay pigeons at Camp David.

A good number of Right Wing outfits fell into a collective laughing fit at the idea of Obama holding a gun (not to mention the terror from the extreme Right Wingers). And they should: I think Barack Obama might be embellishing to reach out to the bitter clingers and no one is falling for it. But kudos for lying. I mean trying. I just thought lying, right?

But what these career overreactors are missing out on the defining part of his comments that followed up the clay pigeon comment. Which was the whole point.

“And I have a profound respect for the traditions of hunting that trace back in this country for generations.”

That was Obama’s followup to his claim that he is Johnny Sixshooter on the weekend. It’s not malicious by any means, but it’s false. No one questioned his respect of hunting or related traditions, and that’s not what the laws would be abridging. The NRA, and the 51% of Americans who support the NRA, aren’t just thinking about hunting. Shooting clay pigeons, or real ones, is not what this issue is about. This is a bald-faced endeavor to redirect the nature of the issue.

Let’s take a step back and talk about the real issue. For whom is the 2nd Amendment written? If you answer militiamen or hunters, you’re right. And also, it’s for you. Yes you, humble reader, your entitled to own a firearm, which is not a universal right.

"Defending individual Liberties... LIKE A BOSS." James Madison's Autobiography
“Defending individual Liberties… LIKE A BOSS.” James Madison’s Autobiography

The founders, despite what Professor Louie Seidman tells you, had a good deal of foresight. They said that no government has the right to infringe upon the Freedom of Speech, the Freedom of Religion, the Freedom of the Press, and the Freedom of Assembly. Do you really think that coincidentally, the very next amendment James Madison decided randomly to honor the ‘tradition of hunters?’ Or do you think that, after making the most radical declaration of the rights of the individual against the powers of government, Madison thought it prudent to mention exactly how they would back that claim up?

President Obama is not maliciously lying; in fact he’s doing quite the opposite. He’s doing his best Bill Clinton (I feel your pain). He’s trying to relate, all the while admitting he understands why people own guns. The hunting, right? Because in this administration’s point of view, there are three groups that own guns: hunters, crazy radical right wing extremist homeland terrorists, and the government. Obama’s admitting that there is room enough for two of those three, at least.

Let me make a HisGrossness grand proclamation: if you think America is a safe place to live in, if you think that whenever something goes wrong, you can just call the police, if you think that there can never ever ever be another World War, or Civil War, or Revolutionary War, then you haven’t popped the hood and taken a close look yet. Part of being an adult is being prepared to take care of yourself, and unfortunately, in the world we live in, responsible gun ownership is sometimes a necessary part of that. And if you don’t believe that, or refuse to take that personal responsibility, the least you can do is not impede other people’s right to protect themselves.

Brian Gross is an irresponsibility opinion-owner, and he knows how to use it. Take a look at some of his other articles and spread them around!