Caption, Please

By Piper Bayard

One of the fun parts of my job is all of the traveling I get to do. Needless to say, Holmes and I are careful where we meet up, and it can make for some interesting sites along the way.

How about a caption for this one? Please keep it clean, and don’t insult anyone’s religion. I know that will be a challenge with this one, but you are clever people, so I’m sure you’re up to it. Have fun!

image by Piper Bayard

image by Piper Bayard

The End is Near (and we deserve it) . . . Deported for Being “Too Handsome”

Three men from the United Arab Emirates were deported from Saudi Arabia for being “too handsome.” The Saudis were afraid women would see them and throw off their clothes.

I know. This sounds like a joke that Holmes and I would make up. My thanks to Omar Borkan Al Gala and his friends for making my job easy today. No kudos to the Saudis, who seem to think women are nothing but mindless, ill-behaved house pets who would roll over for any hand that pets them.

Omar Borkan Al Gala Facebook Pic

Blogs and Articles in No Particular Order

Autism Awareness Month: No, I Didn’t Forget by Heather Konik, an Aspie herself, who makes several astute observations including, “Autism isn’t necessarily a thing to be cured.”

An astute, intelligent article by liberal democrat “lefty” and gun owner, Anne Marie Wonder. Dear Gun Control Democrats: 6 Ways to Make a Better Argument

You know him as Sulu and as Facebook Superstar George Takei. Did you know he grew up in the Japanese Internment Camps of Arkansas and California? George Takei: Why We Must Remember Rohwer

A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing: Konrath on Patterson. An excellent analysis by Joe Konrath on the place of traditional publishing.

Who Inherits Your Copyrights? Another outstanding article from publishing attorney and historical fiction author Susan Spann for Writers In the Storm.

“Those religions most anxious to convert others are also the ones with the longest track records of violence.” Level-headed, scholarly observations from Dr. Steve Wiggins at Sects and Violence in the Ancient World. Fear of Religion

My thanks today to the 1491s who steered me to this video. With so many ugly deeds thrown in our faces every day, it’s good to remember there are genuinely decent people in the world.

Campaign Style Poll Daddy of the Week

All the best to all of you for a week of being where you belong.

Piper Bayard

Top Ten Ways to Keep a Retired Pontiff Busy

By Piper Bayard and Kristen Lamb

As a general rule, popes don’t change jobs except by dying. On the rare occasion that they do retire, they tend to be trouble makers, either wanting their old jobs back or exercising their Back Seat Pope’s License. Benedict XVI is the first pontiff to retire in around 600 years, and with this move, the Vatican now has an unusual conundrum on its hands. What to do with a retired pope?

Pope Benedict XVIimage by Tadeusz Gomy, public domain

Pope Benedict XVI
image by Tadeusz Gomy, public domain

When I ran for US president (see Okay. I’ll Do It. I’ll Run for President), my space saving vice president, Kristen Lamb, and I set out to make our world a more efficient and humorous place. So when we heard that our fellow world leader was about to have too much time on his hands, we brainstormed a few things he can do to keep himself busy and out of the cardinals’ zuccehettos.

Top Ten Ways to Keep a Retired Pontiff Busy

  1. Co-star in a movie as Steve Carell’s best friend, The 90 Year Old Virgin.
  2. Translate Latin into Twitter-speak for remote exorcisms.
  3. Be a Walmart Greeter who can save souls and provide carts that don’t squeak.
  4. Team up with George Foreman to make a new line of sandwich grills.
  5. Be a Spokesperson for Clorox on how to keep your whites the whitest.
  6. Cast devils out of the Jersey Shore crew and the Real Housewives.
  7. Babysit Bill Clinton.
  8. Judge contestants on Dancing with the Saints.
  9. Host the new game shows, Your Soul’s In Jeopardy and Are You Smarter than a Pontiff?
  10. Test drive the new bulletproof Hoverround.

Hoveround

Hoveround

We make these suggestions with the purest of hearts. If anyone finds them offensive, at least be glad we had the good taste to stop at President and not run for Pope.

What are your clean and respectful suggestions for how the Pope can stay busy in retirement?

Egypt’s President Morsi–Between the Crocodiles and the Leopards

By Jay Holmes

Today, from the Western point of view, we see continuing strife in Egypt centered on the basic issue of theocracy vs. democracy. The simple interpretation of that strife indicates that Egyptian President Morsi, his Muslim Brotherhood backers, and their sympathizers constitute approximately half of Egypt’s population, and that their secular opposition constitutes the other half. Each side in the theocracy vs. democracy struggle claims to represent more than 50% of the Egyptian people. Given the lack of democratic institutions in Egypt, it may be impossible to know if one side or the other actually has a 50%+ majority. While the question of any majority in Egypt is unanswerable for the present, one thing that remains certain is that Egypt remains divided, and that whichever side is in the minority, it is a very large minority.

Mohamed Morsi Trinitresque wikimedia

Mohamed Morsi, image by Trinitresque, wikimedia commons

Another important factor in the ongoing Egyptian revolution is the identity and personality of Egypt’s President Morsi. While Morsi was marketed as a “reformer” and a “moderate,” he has demonstrated that he is neither.  Thus far, Morsi’s only attempts at reforms have focused on reforming Egypt into his own personal dictatorship while trying to consolidate his own personal power. From outside of Egypt, it may appear that Morsi is in charge and running the show in that country. From inside of Morsi’s office, the view might be more complicated.

Morsi needed backing from the Islamic Brotherhood and the religious leaders of Egypt to obtain power. Now that he has succeeded in that goal, he is unable to exercise that power without the direct influence of the Egyptian clergy. If Egypt’s Sunni religious leaders were to turn on Morsi, he would be left with approximately zero percent backing. I assume his family and closest friends would still be in his corner, but it would be a very lonely and dangerous corner. Without the backing of that Sunni leadership, Morsi’s power would evaporate like a droplet of water in the Egyptian Desert. Morsi has no choice but to keep the Egyptian clergy happy.

What Morsi now has to come to terms with is the fact that he is dealing with a group of people who specialize in being unhappy and hard to please. In fact, being unhappy is the second most popular hobby amongst Sunni religious leaders. Their first most popular hobby is being demanding. Have fun with that Mr. President.

The recent, well-publicized torture and murder of Egyptian anti-Morsi activist Mohammed El-Gendy while in police custody has become a clear symbol of the lack of reform in Egyptian government and the lack of human rights that prevail in Egypt. While police brutality in Egypt seemed to be on the decline after Morsi’s election, El-Gendy’s torture and death are by no means an isolated case. Morsi is claiming to be investigating El-Gendy’s death, but the half of Egypt that does not support him is unconvinced that any meaningful investigation will take place.

The Egyptian military and police apparatus are not traditionally Islamic institutions. They have a history of clearly secular leanings. And why wouldn’t they? Who needs a cleric to obey when you have fighter jets and well-made tanks on your side?

The clearly secular history of Egypt’s military and police forces lead us to an obvious question. Why have Egypt’s secular military and police protected Morsi and their old enemies in the Islamic Brotherhood?

We could ask Morsi, the military, or the police, but it’s unlikely that they would answer the question sincerely. My best guess is that Morsi and his religious bosses made a deal with those powerful institutions. That deal would have to center on the police and military maintaining positions of privilege in exchange for protecting Morsi and the Sunni leadership. For that deal to remain in place, Morsi must not attempt to reform the military or police by reducing their power and privilege.

Anyone care to guess on what will happen in the investigation of El-Gendy’s death? At best, a scapegoat will be found and barbecued. We should not expect more than that as long as Morsi remains in power. If he turns against the military or police, no amount of prayers and support from the Sunni leadership will keep him from suffering an untimely accident.

The recent state visit to Egypt by Iran’s least skilled actor, President Ahmadinejad, has provided us with great theater. Unlike the audiences in London’s Cockpit Theater, the audiences in Egypt and Iran are not at all in agreement as to precisely which drama they have enjoyed.

If we ask Ahmadinejad and his masters, or even if we don’t ask, they will quickly tell us that audiences were enthralled by his brilliant and triumphant visit to Egypt, and that it heralds a new day of Sunni cooperation and understanding with the great and wise Shia leaders in Iran. They will tell us that Egypt and Iran are quickly becoming great allies in the struggle against the evils of the non-Islamic world. About all this proves is that the Iranian theocracy is not incapable of comedy, albeit accidental comedy.

If we ask the Egyptian Sunni leadership what drama they watched, they would explain that they didn’t watch, but rather took center stage in the play. That they scolded Ahmadinejad for Iran’s interference in the internal affairs of Gulf states and for their continuing persecution of the Iranian Sunni minority. And that is what they did.

If we ask Morsi what occurred, he will tell us that Iran has promised economic assistance to Egypt, and that the two countries have laid the groundwork for a strong friendship. He would blush as he said those words.

If we ask Morsi’s opponents what occurred, they would tell us that we have seen yet more proof that Morsi is anti-Western, and that the USA is idiotic for sending Morsi F-16 fighters. Many members of Congress are agreeing with that view this week.

F-16 Fighting Falcon

F-16 Fighting Falcon. President Obama has sold four of these to Morsi and the

Muslim Brotherhood. He has promised them sixteen more.

image by US Air Force

Morsi might be the dictator of Egypt for the moment, but he is a dictator who stands on a thin-edged wall with crocodiles on one side and angry leopards on the other. One slip, and all his problems in this world will be over.

The Islamic Brotherhood, with the acquiescence of Egypt’s military and state police apparatus, holds a strong position in Egypt. It will not be easy for those Egyptians who seek human rights and democracy to wrestle that power away from Morsi and his theocratic masters. One strategic disadvantage that plagues the reformers is the simple fact that police and judicial reform are an essential part of their agenda. Yet, without those basic goals, as Morsi has proven, any reform would be meaningless.

The cards are stacked against Egypt’s reform movement, but Egyptians have proven to be resilient. As events in Tunisia and Libya have demonstrated, the dictator does not always win.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

‘Jay Holmes’, is an intelligence veteran of the Cold War and remains an anonymous member of the intelligence community. His writing partner, Piper Bayard, is the public face of their partnership.

You may contact them in blog comments, on Twitter at @piperbayard, on Facebook at Piper Bayard, or by email at bayardandholmes@bayardandholmes.com.

© 2013 Jay Holmes. All content on this page is protected by copyright. If you would like to use any part of this, please contact us at the above links to request permission.

A Time to Receipt

By Piper Bayard and Jay Holmes

An engaged couple in Anderson County, South Carolina made a purchase at Walmart. Three days later, they saw the face of Jesus in their receipt.

After consulting with internationally renowned apparition experts (us) and experiencing years of low-quality receipts which retain everything except the original ink with which they are printed, we here at Bayard and Holmes recognize this Walmart apparition as the same one that appeared on the famous Cheesus grilled cheese sandwich.

Grilled Cheesus yahoo shopping

image of Grilled Cheesus from Yahoo! Shopping

It is our conclusion that Walmart used a Grilled Cheesus to imprint this receipt with the face of a thirty-something, Middle Eastern Jewish man named Shlomo to lure more customers through the door in the hope that they, too, will receive a Made in China miracle.

Don’t fall for this cheap imitation!

We here at Bayard & Holmes have the highest quality genuine apparitions on the market today. In fact, with our receipts, you aren’t limited to just Jesus, and you aren’t limited to just one.

While it’s true that we currently have no products on the market, we would never let a little thing like that keep us from serving you, our beloved readers. Send us your money in any amount large enough to cover our inconsequential substantial overhead, and we will send you a genuine Bayard & Holmes receipt fit for any home shrine or church reliquary.

Upon your first purchase, you will receive a receipt divinely imprinted with the face of the Virgin Mary. No heavyweight boxer grills here!

Your second purchase will come with a receipt bearing the apparition of the face of Jesus in the race of your choice. (Western European Jesus apparition available for Protestants and Mormons.)

With your third purchase . . . Hold on . . . We send you a receipt with both Mary and Jesus in either the Madonna or the Pieta pose, along with a genuine Bayard & Holmes Certificate of Authentication signed by the priests of our order, the New York Yankees–assuming they don’t notice what they are signing.)

But that’s not all!

With every donation purchase over $5k, you will also receive a complimentary receipt that includes the possibility of a miracle, and a holographic apparition of The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci of The Da Vinci Code fame.

The Last Supper Leonardo Da Vinci

The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci

Just think. Who else but Bayard & Holmes could get you this close to all 12 apostles and Jesus simultaneously for a mere $5k? Why, Walmart and most churches would charge you at least $50k and a lifetime of troublesome rules for this prize.

Lest Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Atheists,* or any other religious denominations feel left out, you are welcome to substitute your prophet or your favorite sports player for the image of Jesus. We do, however, offer our apologies to Muslims. We will not be able to produce receipts with the image of your prophet, as we do not fancy living out our lives in a federal protective service. You may, however, request the image of your favorite soccer player or political protestor.

So remember, dear readers, when you’re in need of a miracle, think Bayard & Holmes for all of your apparition needs. Bayard & Holmes–because there’s a time to give (to us), and a time to receipt (to you).

*First 500 Atheist donors receive a complimentary genuine faux dinosaur bone relic.

Tactical Holiday Products

By Piper Bayard & Jay Holmes

In anticipation of the holiday season, our tremendous staff in our Bayard & Holmes Tactical Products Division (us) at the Bayard and Holmes Secret Underground Research Complex (Holmes’ basement) spent this fall ignoring political commercials and instead developed the tactical products you need to make your holiday season a safer and happier time.

Tactical Green Slime Ciphers wikimedia

Image by Ciphers, wikimedia commons.

Tactical Green Slime

Our first new product is to help those many individuals and families who are concerned that some of their holiday house guests might snoop about in their medicine cabinets and other private spaces. Ever ready to turn your problems into our opportunities, we are proud to introduce our Tactical Green Slime (“TGS”).

Unlike Sarin Gas and other, cheaper chemical warfare products used by less fashionable chemical warriors, TGS is reasonably priced, easy to deploy, harmless to innocents, and not yet getting any attention from the UN, the DHS, or Donald Rumsfeld that would result in taxpayer-sponsored “shock and awe” at your happy home.

Simply fill an interesting medicine bottle with vitamin tablets. Put on some gloves and spread a little of our colorless, odorless TGS on the outside of the bottle. Leave it front and center in the cabinet.

When a snooper touches the bottle, their hands will pick up a harmless, but hilarious, phosphorescent green glow. The glow is not permanent and should wear off in a few short years.

As you boot the radiant fool out of your house, casually mention that the glow is caused by strontium 90 isotopes (it’s not) and suggest a trip to the nearest ER. Imagine the fun they’ll have waiting in line for two days for a nurse to check them out, and then trying to get themselves released from the psychiatric ward. By the time they get home all of their family, ex-friends and acquaintances should have by then enjoyed a great holiday without them.

Use Tactical Green Slime in your medicine cabinet. Use it on your jewelry case. Use it on your favorite bag of potato chips in your pantry. TGS is the perfect tool for keeping your property safe from your friends and loved ones.

Tactical Green Slime is not sold in any retail store. Medicine bottles and latex gloves sold separately.

Snowman pitcher schneemann wikimedia public domain

Throwman in action. Image by Schneemann, wikimedia commons.

Tactical Frosty the Throwman

And what about those friends and relatives you don’t even want making it to your door? Frosty the Throwman to the rescue! Our new Tactical Frosty is guaranteed to keep the peace in your front yard during this great season of happiness and joy. Our cheerful-looking snowman comes equipped with a recycled Major League Baseball pitching machine that can toss a snowball at up to one hundred miles an hour. A video transmitter in Frosty’s head allows you to aim and fire while sipping hot cider in the comfort of your kitchen. Whatever ideas any local thugs might have had about tossing snowballs near your home will be quickly banished from their dangerous minds as they pick themselves up, bewildered by the lightening-like snowball strike that knocked them on their butts.

With Frosty on the job, your neighborhood should be safer than ever. Snow covered baseballs sold separately.

Tactical Vin Sommeil Profond

Socially graceless guests can be a serious stress at the holidays.

No matter how hard we try, we sometimes end up having to tolerate “those ones in every family” at the Christmas gathering. Have no fear. We have the solution. Literally. Instead of shoving a turkey leg in their pie-holes when they gear up with their diatribes, instead offer them a glass of our 1962 Vin Sommeil Profond, Premiere Cru.

Just one sip of this impressively bottled and labeled concoction that we whipped up in a bathtub last night, and your obnoxious guests will be off in Sommeil Profond Land for a twelve-hour nap. If they begin pontificating again when they awake with a slight headache and severe memory loss, offer them a bit of Hair of the Dog. After two servings, even the most dogmatic ideologue will forget whatever it was they once believed so adamantly and will instead focus on figuring out who they are and why they are in your home. Feel free to have a little fun with this phase.

Creche Demimis wikimedia

Image by Dimimis, wikimedia commons.

Tactical Baby Jesus

It has become a sad new trend for thieves to steal those lovely, plastic baby Jesuses from the nativity scenes that Christmas revelers put on display. With our new Tactical Baby Jesus (“TBJ”), we can put a stop to this ugly trend.

No, this is not baby Superman with superpowers of flying and knocking the crap out of the bad guys. Jesus never hurt anyone, nor did he ever ask anyone to hurt anyone in his name. Therefore, TBJ is completely in character, being equipped with a locator transponder that allows you (and the Department of Homeland Security) to track the Jesus-napper to his or her hideout. Once there, a Federal SWAT team can make a safe recovery after a twelve-hour hostage standoff and return TBJ to your front lawn unharmed.

We hope these fantastic new, reasonably priced Tactical Holiday Products improve the quality of your family celebrations, and we hope selling them to you will improve the quality of ours. Wishing all of our readers a joyous holiday season filled with peace and happiness to all of good will. For those of less good will, you now have some great new tools.

Cheers!

Egypt: The Corner of Theocracy and Democracy

By Jay Holmes

When the people of Egypt ousted President Hosni Mubarak on February 12, 2011, most Western media outlets assumed that the anti-Mubarak protestors were de facto pro-democracy. However, Egyptians are not so cohesive, and they have a complex variety of political factions and goals.

Egyptian Protestors Tahrir Square Nov 2011 Lilian Wagdy wikimedia

Image of Egyptian protestors by Lilian Wagdy, wikimedia commons

The protestors ranged from sophisticated, well-educated individuals seeking representative government to foreign agents acting on behalf of Iran, wanting to establish an Islamic theocracy. The single largest group of these Egyptian activists was, and still is, the Muslim Brotherhood.

After Mubarak departed, the Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), led by Commander-in-Chief Mohamed Tantawi, took control of the Egyptian government. This was a temporary measure until a new government could be formed.

Once in control, the SCAF assured Egypt and the world that it would suspend the emergency laws that had been in effect for four decades. It also said it would conduct fair and open elections, honor all of Egypt’s international agreements, and maintain peace and security. All of these promises were difficult to believe since the Military was involved in violence against the protestors; however, the SCAF appears to have done its best to accomplish these goals.

The SCAF greatly reduced military tribunals against civilians, and on some fronts, it made positive developments in human rights in Egypt. For example, journalists and foreigners are less frequently beaten, arrested, and kidnapped in that country. But members of non-Islamic religions continue to suffer heavy discrimination and live in fear–particularly Coptic Christians, who are frequently murdered by Islamic radicals while the Egyptian government looks the other way.

The SCAF conducted tainted but believable elections for the national parliament and for the presidency. To the dismay of the SCAF, the Muslim Brotherhood presidential candidate, Mohamed Morsi, won the presidential election. The Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist organizations have grown in political power since that time.

On the international front, Egypt’s relationship with Israel is much worse than it was two years ago, and Egypt has grown closer to Iran. Meanwhile, Egypt’s relationship with the US can be best described as Egypt politely accepting US aid while smiling and ignoring US concerns.

Western media corporations present Morsi as a “reformer” and a moderate. However, based on Morsi’s actions and his selective inactions, it appears he is simply paying lip service to moderation to continue to receive US aid and Western acquiescence to his rule.

Morsi is quick to tell the US and other Western diplomats that he intends to bring more security and human rights to all Egyptians, but he has been slow to take simple actions to back those words up. In fact, last month, on November 22, Morsi abandoned his democratic pretenses and decreed absolute powers for himself.

Since then, Morsi proposed a constitution that is Islamist in its composition and does not ensure equal rights for non-Islamists who would prefer a secular government. If Morsi supports an agenda of national unification for Egypt as he claims, he certainly hides it well. Loopholes in this proposed constitution grant near-dictatorial powers to the Office of the President and appear to make the document close to useless for the practice of government.

Egypt’s previously less organized non-Islamists were inspired to action this week. They took to the streets in the tens of thousands to protest Morsi’s dictatorial decrees and the proposed constitution. Unfortunately for them, though Morsi responded by rescinding his power grabbing decrees, he is going forward with a national referendum to implement the constitution.

The decrees gave power to Morsi, personally. The constitution would give him the same powers through his office as President of Egypt, making the rescinding of the decrees rather hollow.

Many Western media corporations are largely ignoring the referendum and the basic outline of the proposed Egyptian constitution. Still others are representing this as a “do or die” moment for democracy and human rights in Egypt.

I view it a bit differently. My best guess is that, since Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood allies will conduct the election and count the votes, they are not likely to lose at the polls. The referendum to implement the constitution with its excessive powers to the Office of the President will pass by a narrow margin.

While the referendum and the constitution are certainly important, they will not settle the question of whether Morsi will succeed in consolidating an Iranian-style Islamic theocracy in Egypt. For one thing, not all Muslim Brotherhood members are radical. Though the moderate members are now marginalized from power, they do remain alive and present in Egyptian politics.

Since the non-Islamists don’t feel represented by the government and the proposed constitution, they may not acquiesce to the constitution and the new Egyptian government as Morsi and his power brokers assume. Morsi’s and the Muslim Brotherhood’s success in consolidating power for themselves will depend on whether they can force their opponents to obey whatever state they create.

Underneath the referendum for the acceptance of the constitution, there is a deeper, long term game playing out in Egypt. The radical factions of the Muslim Brotherhood likely feel that if they bide their time, their opponents, lacking in any outside help or international interest, will simply exhaust themselves and give up without being able to force any real concessions.

If Morsi really does have the 51% majority that he claims to have, that still leaves over forty-two million angry Egyptians opposed to his rule. For the moment, they still have voices.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

*‘Jay Holmes’, is an intelligence veteran of the Cold War and remains an anonymous member of the intelligence community. His writing partner, Piper Bayard, is the public face of their partnership.

© 2012 Jay Holmes. All content on this page is protected by copyright. If you would like to use any part of this, please contact us at the above links to request permission.