Thursday, May 27

The 2004 Freedom Roller

For today's post, I offer an Onion-style article...
Note: I cannot assure that all the links open to their original destinations.

Tuesday September 16, 9:35 AM ET

By Fanni Terrette, Press Writer

(MP) Washington, D.C. The Department of Defense has teamed up with Generic Motors to offer American drivers a new line of All-American Sports Utility Tanks (SUTs). The perfect vehicles for these times of international terrorism, the near 60-ton Sports Utility Tanks not only allow citizens a new way to exercise their second-amendment right to responsible self-defense, they are widely considered the safest passenger vehicle ever designed. Indeed, the manufacturers guarantee SUT drivers and passengers complete safety in head-on collisions of up to 30 M.P.H. SUTs have a city mileage of only 3 gallons per mile, but their relative lack of fuel efficiency is easily counterbalanced by a wide variety of comforts not typically associated with combat vehicles. The first official SUT, the Freedom Roller, is resplendent with numerous suburban comforts, including a mobile home theater that boasts satellite hook-up and multiple plasma TV screens, built-in soft-drink dispensers, an electric potato slicer and deep-fryer, and handguns ranging in size and power for each member of the family.


Although the combat capacity of the vehicles is not likely to be called upon regularly in everyday use, C. John Hedge, Secretary of the Department of Motherland Purity (news - web sites), has praised the arrival of the new civilian-friendly SUT fleet, citing the vehicles' strategic benefits:
"The financial burden of the war on terror has exceeded local budgets in most counties throughout the nation. Therefore, rather than increase the size of an already unwieldy bureaucracy, we have mobilized the private sector to give the citizens the means to exercise their anti-terrorist vigilance to the full. Together, we will hunt down and bring to justice all terrorists who dare set foot on, or drive across, the Motherland."
Secretary Hedge brought his brief press conference to a close in an uncharacteristic display of vigor by hoisting his right fist into the air and making an eloquent appeal to the families of America by declaring the Department of Motherland Purity motto: "We can be afraid, or we can be ready. Today America's families declare, 'We will not be afraid. We will be ready!' One individual, one family, one community, one motor vehicle at a time." In a separate statement released by the Department of Justice (news - web sites), the Attorney General Ashley Croft, commenting on the recent arrival of SUTs, said, "We are disrupting potential terrorist travel; and we are building our long-term counter-terrorism capacity. We are winning the war on terror, and we will not back down." As the Attorney General explained, the Department of Justice hopes to bring terrorist travel to a complete halt on the streets of America. With SUTs overwhelming local and interstate traffic, it is hoped that terrorists will be dissuaded from taking to the road and, eventually, be rooted out from every thoroughfare and preemptively blocked from every byway.


Civil libertarians have objected to the fact that the Department of Motherland Purity has intervened to require that all citizens hoping to acquire an SUT first pass a Patriot Drivers Test. This inexpensive test requires the prospective buyer to, among other things, recite by heart the capitals of the fifty U.S. States, swear disobedience to Allah, and renounce all heathen superstitions generally. Radical groups (news - web sites) have taken exception to this safe-guarding measure. In an open letter circulated widely on the Internet, Edward Tinmar, professor of English at Columbia University, has written, in an apparent allusion to recent propaganda that anachronistically imagines Jesus Christ picking and choosing among today's fleet of passenger vehicles, the following tidbit: "For the next academic cycle, I am proposing a course on the relations between one's religious convictions and one's choice of utility vehicle. The topic is increasingly relevant in today's society and a truly critical attitude vis-à-vis the corporatization of government in the United States should start here."


Elitist ruminations aside, Americans have unambiguously welcomed the arrival of SUTs to the civilian market. Indeed, the consumer confidence index has leaped in the first quarter, up from 65.1 to 78.7, and few commentators doubt the benign influence of SUTs on the index. Although this spectacular leap has no doubt been supported by a vigorous ad campaign, the first quarter economic upswing has been attributed more generally to a greater sense of security among suburbanites who now can envisage protecting their accumulated property without having to rely upon a bureaucracy-laden police force. Further adding to the buying frenzy is the benign effect of legislation that, although originally proposed for crop-dusters and grain-transporting vehicles, has been found to apply as well to all manner of full-size urban vehicles. This law assures buyers an immediate deduction of as much as $38,000 off the price of an SUT. The President has said of this incentive, "Uh... this is a plan that says that if you are willing to take risk and invest more, there's a benefit for doing so. And... uh... it'll create millions of jobs and be positive... economically." There is a hitch, however. As things currently stand, the credit applies only to vehicles weighing 60 tons or more. Owners of the Freedom Roller, which, through a freak of design, weighs only 59 1/2 tons, have therefore been encouraged to weigh their vehicles down by secondary means—stacks of tightly fastened barbells or what-have-you—in order to qualify for the tax credit.


SUTs promise more than an affordable means of modern transportation. With the type of armament that the SUT makes available to a vigilant public, city and county law enforcement officials are eagerly anticipating wide-scale public assistance in their daily crime-fighting operations. Reckless car chases, it is hoped, will soon be a thing of the past. Those fleeing from the law can now be neutralized at great distances by SUT owners who recognize the threat and act swiftly. Concerned at the possible compromise that this development may represent for some of its most popular nightly programs (such as the roundly celebrated "PIGS," which features the turbulent pursuit and humiliation of petty criminals), a spokesperson for the Foxxy Network, Mr. Thurman Reich, said that Foxxy is planning a new program that will focus entirely on SUT-assisted police operations. He has assured viewers that there will be no diminution of gratuitous bullying and fear-mongering in the new format and that the entertainment value of the program will even be heightened by increasingly explosive public confrontations. (SUT-drivers hoping to participate in these operations are asked to call the Foxxy Network toll-free at 1-666-588-2874.)

There are also arrangements underway that will allow SUT drivers to participate in such crime-busting exercises in a more organized manner. The recently formed SUT Club, Inc. has commandeered a number of its members into a veritable vigilante fleet, capable of responding to the behest of local or federal officials. This drivers club (">web site) describes itself as a not-for-profit corporation whose aims are to promote the adventurous and safe use of SUTs and to encourage its members to act as a social force for the security of the Motherland. It and similar clubs will be free to embark on deer hunting expeditions, take diversionary excursions through Yellowstone National Park, or patrol gang-infested neighborhoods and quell public expressions of political dissent. The crime-fighting benefits may even be called upon by the federal government to battle terror itself. With sufficient training, it is thought, such a club could one day confront brutal dictators suspected of potentially harboring, or conceiving of, or being able to share their conceptions of, WMD-related-program activities (and thereby spare the government from having to make academic presentations at the United Nations or appease dilly-dallying allies while threats gravely gather). With such a swiftly acting force at its command, the government could redirect its military spending to much needed nuclear and space-oriented weaponry. Till this point, however, the enormous potential of this domestic force on the international theater has been held up by considerations of personal insurance.


The most unexpected development of this cooperation between the Department of Defense and the private sector has been articulated compellingly by the Secretary of Education Carl Freeman. Freeman, whose swaggering style and unshakeable self-confidence play particularly well on Foxxy, MPNEWS, and other balanced networks, has argued that the tactics used against brutal dictatorships that torture their people can also be turned toward the failing educational system in the Motherland as a way to tilt it toward decisive improvements. Citing the Arab Development Reports, which state among other things that the Greeks have translated more works from English than have all the Arab nations combined, Freeman notes that, "those numbers are the context that produced 9-11." He then cites the well-known statistics of failing schools in America and concludes as follows: "If you don't visit a bad neighborhood in this world, it will visit you, and on 9-11, it visited us." The upshot of Freeman's argument is that failing schools can no longer be suffered by a nation perpetually at war. Spurred on by its stunningly accomplished mission in Iraq, the Pentagon has thus committed itself, under Freeman's advisement, to Operation Education Liberty. This campaign will certainly shape the business of education for years to come. Its goal is to visit every failing school, every potential harbor of intellectual darkness and terror. In this way, schools not meeting accountability outcomes will have their charters revoked by means of force. The most obvious benefit of this no-nonsense policy is that parents will no longer have to rely on time-consuming administrative and political maneuvering to see a force for change effected in their children's schools.


Indicating how such a scenario might play out, and taking full cognizance of the utility of the expanding SUT fleet, a Pentagon press release — the first of its kind to outline new education policies — states that, "when the academic condition of the school is deemed deficient, the school shall be surrounded by SUTs operated by local citizens, and the faculty and students shall be forced off school grounds and reassigned pursuant to local Board policy and procedure. Furthermore, upon destruction by fire power, the failing school shall remain under control of the Board, and no child shall be left behind in the smoldering remains." Schools lacking grant money and startup funding for No Child Left Behind have already been put on notice. Asked to comment on whether he backs this new commitment to jump-starting education through public-assisted, results-oriented enforcement, the Secretary of Defense, Ronald McDumsfeld, remarked that,
"I guess the way to respond to that is that there is no doubt but that there are gains to be hoped for. Whether it's today, tomorrow, a year from now, two years from now, or more, what we know is that this allows us ways of doing and thinking whose value as we go forward is without question. Needless to say, everyone's hopeful that the state of our schools, which tends to ebb and flow, will stay above a certain threshold and that there's -- did I say we have plans? -- no, we have no definite plans. By that I don't mean that we have no plans whatsoever. There are plans that one has and plans that one doesn't have. But there are also plans whose planning may exist but on which action has not been taken. Obviously, we have plans to do everything in the world that we can think of. But there is no doubt but that we do not have any intention at the present time, or no reason to believe, that any of the thinking that goes into these things day in and day out would have to be utilized."
The Secretary of Defense vigorously denied, however, rumors that the Pentagon was planning to use the threat of the recently developed 21,000-pound MOAB (Massive Ordnance Air-burst Bomb, popularly known as the "Mother of all bombs") to intimidate specific schools or educators into obtaining higher test scores for their students. As Secretary McDumsfeld explained, the initial idea was simply to drop one such bomb, whose plume of smoke rises 10,000 feet into the air and is visible at a distance of 40 miles, as a celebratory gesture that would inaugurate the academic year nationwide and inspire students with shock and awe at the mightiness of the nation's pre-eminent power. It is doubtless that such a spectacle would both reassure and motivate today's terror-stricken students. And this, of course, in addition to the reassurance they feel as they slip into the suburban comforts of their SUTs and roll safely from home to school, and back again, to the lulling rumble of wheel-driven tracks.