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Considering the progress America has made during the Bush years — caffeinated energy drinks, reality TV, toiletries you can take through airport security — it’s hard to see why we need a new president at all.
As our incumbent told reporters aboard Air Force One on June 4, 2003, “I’m the master of low expectations.” Why risk hope?
But the Constitution requires an election, and once again the so-called “major” candidates are ducking the issues we here at Pacific Northwest magazine consider most important: cup holders, tattoos (a First Amendment right the rest of us shouldn’t have to look at) and parking-garage spaces too tight to easily get in and out of.
Accordingly, we’ve decided to come up with our own platform that deals with issues of importance to real Americans, not the gasbags who occupy cable “news” channels better given over to home improvement, geriatric ’60s rock-band concerts and Miss Venezuela contests.
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In terms of character and background, our PNW Magazine Administration is politically balanced and correct, white/black/Asian/straight/gay
/native/immigrant/patriotic/aging-hippie amalgam with an admitted weighting toward increasingly stodgy baby boomers who would prefer to retire and become irrelevant but can’t afford to. Our religious affiliation runs from Catholic girl to pagan. And if forced to choose a favorite getaway, it would be either France or Italy, with a vocal minority willing to trade all of NATO for a tropical sandy beach.
Being thus aligned with 98.6 percent of true Americans, what would a PNW Administration stand for?
First, if elected we’ll do what we do around here already: Serve appetizing snacks on cute little plates, which is a whole lot better than anything you’re likely to get from the other contenders. You’ll also get a card on your birthday thanking you for your tax contribution, with a picture of the particular bomber, welfare cheat or Wall Street bailout your money went for.
When we test the emergency broadcast system we’re going to replace that annoying screech with “Mandy” by Barry Manilow, which we always believed was a catchy tune. (In the words of George W. Bush, Rome, 2001, “I know what I believe. I will continue to articulate what I believe and what I believe — I believe what I believe is right.”)
“Mandy” goes as well with nuclear Armageddon as anything else.
That’s just an example of the kind of inclusive, creative thinking we believe is a notch above the so-called “charisma” candidates. Review our platform and see if it doesn’t just make you slap the side of your head and rethink the entire “two-party” system:
Axis of Evil. Are you as tired as we are of people in the “other” Washington deciding who our enemies should be? How about things from Seattle’s point of view? The new Axis of Evil will be Toulouse, France (headquarters of Airbus), Mountain View, Calif. (headquarters of Google), and Oklahoma City.
Europe. We like Europe, but it’s expensive, given the weak dollar. One option would be to restore a credible economy to make the dollar stronger, but that sounds hard. A better idea is to continue the process of moving Europe to Las Vegas. We already have the Eiffel Tower and Venetian Canals, and it shouldn’t be too much trouble to shift the rest of the world’s interesting stuff over to Nevada, fly direct from Bellingham and Everett, and tip the French with wimpy greenbacks instead of those robust, Teutonic Euros. Touché, monsieur I-told-you-so-about-Iraq.
Clamshell packaging. While we here by the seashore love our real clams, and never cease admonishing each other to Keep Clam, we hereby declare that the inventors of clamshell packaging will be taken out and shot.
Candor and disclosure. Given what we voters have learned through surreptitious videotaping of unguarded political bigotry, open microphones, the sexual escapades of hypocritical public officials, dysfunctional family confessions to TV shrinks, celebrity gossip columns and tell-alls by former Administration loyalists, candor will be officially prohibited.
Immigration. It’s pretty clear by now that we need foreigners to grow our food, build our houses, make the parts for our airplanes, clean, cook, take care of our children and answer our stupid computer questions. But two can play that game, amigo! Instead of thinking defense and building giant border walls, how about offense? How about exporting what we do well to them?
That’s right, under our Administration, the Rio Grande is going to be filled with hedge-fund managers, mortgage lenders, stockbrokers, commodity speculators, day traders and ludicrously overpaid CEOs swimming south to that land of under-managed opportunity. With our financial expertise and experience in the glories of the unregulated free market, we’ll have Mexico on its knees in months!
The Internet. Have you tried the Internal Revenue Service Web site? We think government can do better. We’re going to move the executive branch to YouTube, legislative to MySpace, and judicial to Facebook, and limit all official pronouncements, speeches and IRS Code modifications to Twitter. You’ll be able to make Internet friends with any government official you’d like, and compare pet pictures and piercings. Supreme Court nominees will be judged by their I-Tunes Mix, Amazon Listmania contributions and tattoos.
Unemployment. We’ve been told, repeatedly, that losing our job would be good for the economy by forcing us to efficiently retrain for a new industry we don’t even know exists. The people who tell us this are tenured economists who couldn’t be forced out of their own jobs with a stick of dynamite. So under our Administration, we’ll switch things around: If you get laid off you get to be a tenured economist, and the tenured economists will be retrained for the new opportunity!
Telephone robot receptionists. Ever wonder what happened to all the helpful people who used to be cashiers, receptionists, airline agents, technical-support representatives and EPA regulators? They became mortgage brokers and oil executives. In their place are telephone robots, which, through the wonders of modern technology, can’t understand a single thing you say. While this is a great way for business to get rid of tiresome customers, we think the system can be improved.
Under our Administration, when the robot says, “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand,” it’s going to become the company’s problem, not yours. First robot idiocy, the offending company has to send you a Starbucks card. Second time, you get 10 shares and a toaster. If the robot can’t understand “yes” in three tries, an electrical shock is sent to the private parts of the division manager.
Oh, and that music you have to listen to on hold? Option 2 will switch you to a 1-800 sex line while you wait for a human being.
The Department of Cluelessness. Fame flickers so frequently these days that it’s hard for those of us getting on in years (meaning, beyond the age of 14) to keep up with all the pop references, blonde divas, garage bands, superheroes, slang, food fads and Patriot Act assaults on privacy that seem to come and go by the hour. Our new Department of Cluelessness will bring SWAT-team efficiency to cultural relevance by providing emergency shipments of OK magazine, remedial training in the identification of teen starlets and arrested professional athletes, and subtitles on music videos for those of us who can’t understand the lyrics.
It will be law that artists of any kind can be stopped at any time by any American citizen and forced to explain, slowly and clearly, what their song, mumbled movie dialogue or avant-garde art actually means.
Fashion. While our Administration acknowledges that the economy of the United States relies on sustaining a frenzied public desire for pointless change, we recognize that there is an oppressed minority (male) that is perfectly happy buying the same pair of pants they bought five years before, so as not to have to think about clothes too much. There will be a box on your income-tax form reading, “Want exact same clothes for the rest of my life (but not go to prison)” which, if checked, will result in biannual shipments of replacement garments with an automatic deduction from the taxpayer’s checking account and a card explaining your handicap to prospective mates.
Blogging. For the first time in history it’s possible to see what millions of people, if given the empowering platform of the Internet, really have to say. Which is, nothing. Accordingly, to improve the blogs of countless Americans, our Administration is going to reverse legal tradition and encourage plagiarism. We are going to promote the copying of such pithy standards as “The Gettysburg Address” or “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” and pretending the language is your own, since no one is educated enough anymore to recognize them anyway. This will make blogs a lot easier to write, and way more insightful.
Cell phones. For the first time in history it’s possible to listen in on what millions of people, if given unlimited minutes on their cell phone, really have to say. Which, again, is nothing. Our Administration will encourage cell phone ownership to prop up the economy, but given the issues of auto accidents, brain radiation, personal ringtones that interrupt funerals and service contracts no one understands, we’re going to suggest common-sense guidelines:
1. If you don’t turn it on, it can’t ring.
2. You can eliminate the annoying habit of having telephone conversations in public by wiring your cellphone to a wall in your home or office.
3. If you have time to learn all your cellphone functions, you need a date. Badly.
Torture. Permissible for use on spam kings, annoying game-show contestants, mortgage lenders on commercial radio and television weatherpeople who pose a come-on question — “Hurricane in Tukwila? Mudslide Approaching Orting?” — and then don’t answer it for 20 minutes.
Sticky labels. In response to the invention of garish product labels that won’t peel off without acid, a blowtorch and power-washing, the PNW Administration will initiate a crash program to invent paste-on labels that look like the product the first label is covering up.
Airline comfort. There will be a constitutional amendment that all airline executives and aerospace engineers must fly middle seat, coach.
The War on Terror. We propose to make al-Qaida and Taliban personnel ineffectual by drafting them into the Seattle Mariners.
High gas prices. Let’s review the result: slower speeds, fewer fatalities, less-crowded roadways, smaller cars, cleaner air, less global warming, more public transit. Hmmmm. The quickest way to high-mileage standards may be to bomb Iran and Venezuela.
FEMA. This agency performs splendidly as long as nothing happens. FEMA gets charge of the Moon.
Campaign finance. Instead of sending billions to candidates to spend on obnoxious, dishonest campaign commercials, why not send them billions not to air anything at all? They’re happy, we’re happy. Problem solved.
The deficit. We’re putting the folks at Channel 9 in charge. Get ready for a lot of “Riverdance.”
Donald Rumsfeld. Admit it, don’t you kind of miss his arrogant pronouncements, his Inspector Clouseau unflappability? We’re sending him to Toyota, to give Detroit a chance.
Science. In recent years, scientists have managed to produce studies suggesting that wine, chocolate, beer and coffee may all be good for you. We intend to encourage this trend by funding federal research into caramel macchiatos, bacon bits, movie tub popcorn and Cool Whip.
Global warming. If we hurry, we can drown Florida before the next election.
See what a modicum of common sense can do? Flossing helps, too. So don’t feel boxed in by the ideas of the “credible” candidates when you can get way better ones simply by buying this newspaper.
Do we need your vote? Let’s just start with your contributions, in unmarked brown paper bags slipped to our publisher.
For, as President Bush said on Aug. 5, 2004, “Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”
William Dietrich is a Pacific Northwest magazine staff writer. Gabriel Campanario is a Seattle Times staff news artist.