The Moment of Truth — March 15, 2003

Eighteen Provocations

This week’s Moment of Truth is actually a list of provocations. In the coming weeks, I hope to present essays by many of our best-loved political voices attempting to rebut or amplify or merely to comment upon one or another of these gauntlets I’ve thrown down. So without further circumspection, let me launch what I hope will be a fruitful and open discussion from which I will emerge victorious among the burnt carcasses of my enemies:

1. Try to look good while sleeping as practice for looking good while a corpse.

2. No matter how tempted you are, don’t give your company the name “Demand Badger.” It’s taken.

3. The following are examples of the kind of social phenomena from the past that people should stop trying to revive because they get worse and worse with each go-round: salons, ateliers, round tables, empires, economic collapses, religions, coteries, Woodstocks, lynch mobs, gulags, summers of love, genocides, world wars, and “beat” poetry.

4. As the founder of modern cosmology, Einstein is single-handedly responsible for a generation of physicists saying dumb things about God.

5. George W et al are selling the USA down the river to a gang of conscienceless corporate elite; the Democrats are involved in a more faltering, awkward version of the same project; if Bush wins in 04, it’ll only be because it’s less embarrassing to watch someone screw you over decisively.

6. There’s been a lot of discussion about how best to occupy Iraq after the war. It’s been noted that about 50% of the Iraqi population is under the age of 15. I’ll tell you how to occupy them: puzzles. Kids LOVE puzzles! That’ll keep them occupied.

7. Transcendentalism is dead again. But reincarnation is back.

8. Race and gender relations have come a long way in this country. When Condaleeza Rice was a young girl, who would’ve thought she would one day grow up to be a white man?

9. God says he’s sick of you people putting words in his mouth.

10. As the gap between the rich and poor widens, the very poor tend to lose their capacity for idealism, and the very rich tend to become a ruling class of megalomaniacal sociopaths.

11. If you want fish, go to the ocean. If you want worms, eat sushi in Oklahoma.

12. Remember when those guys went to the moon? What the hell was that all about?

13. In one night, a Saudi prince will spend the equivalent of the GNP of Laos on a fat hooker.

14. A new tape shows Osama bin Laden saying that the first thing al Qaeda will do when they take over America is produce a wacky sitcom about a POW camp in Guantanemo.

15. You don’t have to be Somali to enjoy Somali cuisine. In fact, the opposite is true.

16. Will someone please rapture all these Christian assholes out of my face?

17. For a person who prefers cats over dogs because, “cats are more independent,” the perfect pet is not actually a cat, but rather an erratically flying insect.

18. If history teaches us anything, it’s this: never turn your back on someone who’s just forced you at gunpoint to dig a big hole.