A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.
- Name: todd gunther
- Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
This week, leaders of the world will join with the people of South Africa (and the rest of humanity, for that matter) to mourn Nelson Mandela. Actually, he was more than just a leader: political revolutionary and activist, philanthropist, civil rights icon, and so much more. Mandela is being remembered for his courage in fighting the anti-apartheid policies of his government. Indeed, he spent nearly a third of his life imprisoned for his political beliefs.
Of course, with the period of mourning come also the reports of the life Mandela lived, his inspirational struggles against social injustice, and assessments of his accomplishments. No one can argue his ultimate achievement — racial equality within a thriving democracy. However, some are raising issues with how he won these freedoms for his countrymen.
For example, former Congressman Newt Gingrich expressed his condolences and admiration for Mandela. Boy, did he catch hell from his conservative followers! One went as far as to label Mandela a “commie murderer.” That, coupled with an alleged report that Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly blatantly labeled Mandela as a “Marxist”, demonstrates that admiration for the late South African leader is not universal.
This is not to be construed that the accusations aren’t necessarily true. Mandela and the African National Congress did align themselves with the South African Communist Party in their pursuit of equality. His alliances led American leaders as diverse as John F. Kennedy to Ronald Reagan to keep Mandela at arm’s length, preventing them from rendering useful assistance in his fight.
However, we should probably note that when your goal is social equality and you’re fighting Big Brother, you may not be in a position to pick and choose your enemies from your friends. Insert politics makes strange bedfellows cliché here. Every little bit of aid from every little corner helps.
Unfortunately, terms like “communist” and “Marxism” are still anathema to many Americans. For them, the America of the McCarthy era thinking of a communist under every rock is still very much alive. It gives them another reason to abhor the Affordable Care Act, which they see as one step closer to universal health care, which they maintain is bad medicine for everyone.
Countering these arguments from the conservative side of the aisle is how Mandela conducted himself when he served as President. He retired from public life after serving the full two term limit of his office. This action is more in keeping with western democratic ideals, and hardly in keeping with traditions established by the likes of Stalin and Castro. A communist dictator would have stayed in office, no matter what the law stated. Mandela may have stood shoulder to shoulder with noted communists, but his actions could not have been further from their governing philosophies.
Mandela’s funeral is being conducted as I write these words. The man is gone, but his actions and legacy will continue to inspire all who continue the struggle for justice in our world.
Rest in Peace, Mr. Mandela.
(Thank you for reading.)
Wednesday, December 04, 2013
Notes On and From a Fifty-Percenter
Hey, guys, I’m sure you’ve had this problem many times in your life: you think up a brilliant idea that you believe will benefit everyone. An idea like, say, for example, World War II, that you think everyone will go crazy about! Then you present the idea to the most significant other person in your life, and she (no sexism intended) can only see the downside of your idea such as, say, unimaginable and endless carnage, verbally destroys your idea, and then, most importantly, looks at you like you only have half a brain!
Don’t you hate when that happens?
Guess what, guys? It turns out that they’re right, and now there’s scientific proof to back up their beliefs that we only use half of our brains!
Now don’t you really hate when this happens?
Here are the facts, ma’am: the University of Pennsylvania recently released the results of a study which determined that men have neural pathways running the length of their two brain hemispheres. On the other hand, women were found to have more powerful connections running between the two hemispheres of the brain. The study, using a type of brain imaging known as diffusion tensor imaging, led researchers to conclude that women are capable of using their full brain, while men are more likely to only use half of their brain.
One of the researchers, who happened to be male, pointed out that, in all fairness, each hemisphere counts as a complete human being. The article about the report, published in The Philadelphia Inquirer, emphasized that it is possible to function at a high level while using just one of the two hemispheres. We should point out that the Inquirer article was written by a grrl!
Thank you, science!
Women everywhere are probably wondering why the scientific community wasted time and money figuring this out, when they could have just asked them if men had half a brain. I’m sure that many women — nay, I dare say 100% of women — would volunteer that the men they know do not have a brain at all.
We must caution any researchers who will do follow up studies to reaffirm the University of Pennsylvania results. Their findings do not account for all the ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriends, ex-lovers, wives and husbands who were all accused of having half a brain before they were dumped. In these cases, the uno uses hemispherus effectivus should not be considered gender specific.
Granted, there have been times in humankind’s existence when we men have not excelled in many endeavors, but I need to point out something. Sure, girls may use their entire brain, but they’re still testicular challenged. This fact begs the question: when they want to reproduce, who’s your daddy?
So what does this mean for me? It means I get to join another partial percentage club! I am already a member of the 99% who work and pay taxes to support everyone in society. A few years ago, I was briefly part of the 47% who were unemployed, living off the state, and not giving a damn about the 53% who were still employed, or their 1% subset that was exploiting the 53% and living a life of luxury. I am now a fifty-percenter who only uses half of his brain!
This presents men everywhere with an amazing financial opportunity. Imagine every street corner in America with at least one male standing forlornly in the shadows of a skyscraper, tin cup in hand, and a sign slung around his neck. The sign would read, “Please give generously. I only use half my brain!”
Once again I say, “THANK YOU, SCIENCE!”
This revelation is truly amazing when one considers everything mankind has been able to accomplish in its history. Men have founded religions and entire cultures! Men have built amazing feats of architecture and created wonderful pieces of art! Men have crafted tools which civilization uses to survive and thrive! And we’ve been able to do all this using only half of our brain!
We can only surmise what is contained in the unused half of the brain of the typical male. I’ll venture that it is a treasure trove of useless sports trivia, a lot of empty beer cans (I dare say a million or so), and an archive of images of every large breast the man has ever encountered in his lifetime…
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Okay, we’re cutting this off here, pun intended!)
(Thank you for reading! See, Adolf, I told you World War II was a bad idea!)
Thursday, November 28, 2013
Snort Bites – November 2013
At this moment, the turkey is in the oven, filling the house with the aroma of roasted fowl and stirring up memories of past Thanksgivings when we gathered with our immediate families and celebrated our blessings. Yet the outside world beckons, and we must acknowledge noteworthy events and silliness.
FAMILY GUY ANIMATED SERIES KILLS OFF MAJOR CHARACTER
This week’s episode of the long running series featured the death of the Griffin’s family dog, when it was hit by a car. Several thoughts occurred to me when I heard this news:
Family Guy is still producing original episodes airing on prime time?
The Brian character was one of the more introspective characters who exuded a higher than normal intelligence than most other animated characters in prime time television history. So what the deuce was he doing playing in the street? (Full disclosure: I did not see the episode.)
The outcry since the episode aired has been huge. One report stated that 30,000 fans have signed a petition demanding that Brian be restored/resurrected/brought back from animation heaven to the show. How nice, but unfortunately we live in a world where children are starving, democracy is failing (see below), and overall there are a myriad of more important issues than the existence or non-existence of a pen and ink rendered canine.
I wonder if these same 30,000 people would willingly sign a petition with the heading, “I don’t have a life!”
With Brian’s death, Family Guy series creator Seth McFarlane has cut his voice over work load by a third; according to Wikipedia, he voices Brian, Peter and Stewie Griffin. Another report has stated that this event could boost sales of show-related toys and merchandise. Regardless of the real reason for Brian’s demise, whether it’s decreasing chores or increasing the bottom line, it might be a sign that the show has runs its course.
If you have to kill off a character to maintain interest in the show, then maybe it’s time for that show to slip quietly into the night. Are you listening, The Simpsons?
And now the noteworthy, but not as silly…
EGYPT CRACKS DOWN ON ISLAMIST PROTESTORS
So much for the great experiment in democracy for Egypt! The ruling military regime has banned public demonstrations and jailed protestors. We must hasten to point out to one of the oldest civilizations in the world that this is not democracy!
The freedom to openly express disagreement and dissent is a vital part of the democratic process. While many of us in America may appreciate that Egyptian authorities are targeting a group that is decidedly anti-American, we recognize that this same group does deserve to share a forum where they can be comfortable voicing their concerns. Otherwise, they may resort to violence to get their point across, which is a lesson America learned the hard way.
Piloting jet airliners into skyscrapers is not an acceptable expression of First Amendment rights.
Let’s hope that Egypt will rethink its hard line attitude towards relatively peaceful dissent.
And as the aroma of roasting meat gets stronger, I am reminded of everything I have to be thankful for: a roof over my head and the ongoing economic opportunity (i.e., job) which allows me to maintain my home; the love and support of a wonderful woman (snarky comments notwithstanding); my two precious cats, and the love of my family a few hours away.
By all means, let’s count our blessings and indulge in seconds…
(Thank you for reading and Happy Thanksgiving!)
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Questions and Successes of the ACA
I have been working harder this last month than, I dare say, I’ve ever worked before. I have just concluded working 14 days in a row – two Sundays included! The weekend shifts were only four hours long, but there were more than several week days when I worked ten hours. I’m not complaining, the money is good, but I cannot do it every day of the year.
How hard have I worked? Let’s put this way: the concept of Friday as that period of time on the calendar that is recognized as the start of a two day period reserved for rest and relaxation (i.e., the weekend) has lost all meaning to me.
I am exhausted.
It is open enrollment season at my job, and we’ve seemingly been answering questions for everyone (and their mothers) about their health insurance choices for next year. It appears that all insurance carriers are changing their policies this season, given that major portions of the Affordable Care Act (we’ve been told not to refer to it as the derogatory term Obamacare during our phone conversations with clients) become effective soon. With these changes come questions about the plans, questions about the ACA, questions about myths and misinformation about the ACA, and of course, many times these questions are accompanied by lots of frustration, screaming, and yelling about the myths and misinformation about the ACA.
During this time, within the last few weeks, I had an opportunity to go to the federal government website for information. Yes, it’s true: I went into the healthcare.gov website untethered, came out the other side, and lived to recount the tale. So did Anne Marie. Oh, we didn’t apply for coverage or anything like that, but the experience was interesting nonetheless.
For example, the media reported that only 106,185 people successfully completed enrollment on the healthcare.gov website during the 30 days ending November 2. Alas, this number was only half of the story, as per the government website. The Obama administration also reported that an additional 975,407 applied and received eligibility determination during that time period. These people are still shopping as per the update published on November 16. (Source: www.hhs.gov)
Somehow, everyone in the media, liberal and otherwise, overlooked this second statistic. This may have happened due to human nature and not a deliberate attempt to mislead the public. It’s well known that bad news sells newspapers and the low number of people who successfully found health insurance from the website during its first month of operation was underwhelming, at the very least for the Obama administration. Apparently, even the liberal media needs to sell a few more papers these days.
Since then, there have been more discouraging reports about the website’s progress towards its goal of signing millions of Americans to affordable healthcare policies by the original deadline. Naturally, the ACA’s critics are emphasizing, perhaps too gleefully, that the website is a failure, therefore ACA is a failure, and therefore Obama is a failure. This realization wouldn’t sting so much if it weren’t for the fact that perception always trumps the reality of the situation.
The perception that the website is a failure is so huge, that it is hard to believe that it is all due to incompetence within the Obama administration.
Considering that the ACA did not mandate any funding to set up the website in the first place (another factoid I learned in the last few weeks, and this one came from a blog on The Huffington Post), it’s a miracle the website is operational at all. Also, there are so many people who have devoted unlimited resources to ensuring the failure of the ACA, it would not surprise me that there is an organized effort to sabotage healthcare reform.
Organized effort, as in conspiracy theory? Okay, if this gets me membership in the tin foil hat club, then yes, fit me for the metallic chapeau now!
We may eventually find out - eventually, as in, not necessarily our lifetime - that the ACA’s troubles have been caused in large part by hacktivists who may be funded by some well off Tea Party members. I have no proof now, but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if this effort can be traced back to some very high levels in corporate America.
All of the negativity about the ACA and the website overshadows the success stories about people logging in and signing up. Granted, the stories are few, but there are successes nonetheless. For example, there is the story about a Mr. John Boehner of Washington, DC. He encountered some difficulties, again according to a report on The Huffington Post, but after four hours of diligence and perseverance, he received an e-mail confirming that he was signed up on the website.
That’s John Boehner, as in Speaker of the House John Boehner, as in leader of the legislative group that he has voted to repeal the ACA at least 39 times John Boehner. In the past, he has vowed to repeal the law which will give millions of Americans the chance to have affordable healthcare, and instead of avoiding the concept with a ten foot pole, he jumps onto the website and registers. AWK-WARD!
As for me, tomorrow I’ll be back at work, and hopefully I won’t have to answer as many questions as I have in the last three weeks. Fortunately, it is a short work week…
(Thank you for reading! Now please, no more questions!)
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Winning Shouldn’t Be Everything
God help me, I’m beginning to take pity on the GOP! The Republican Party has taken a lot of heated constructive criticism lately.
Two examples just from the past few days: in a recent article, one commentator called on the party to “stop electing amateurs who serve little more than ideological indulgences, who exploit resentments that play well enough among the base, but whose positions make them nonviable in general elections.” A current political office holder has bluntly echoed this argument by claiming the party’s recent electoral losses are due to “bad decision-making and loss of courage.”
Now consider that these comments came from MSNBC’s Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough and New Jersey governor Chris Christie, respectively, and we can see the party’s dilemma. These comments came from the party’s friends, and not from the other side of aisle!
As much as I have enjoyed watching the collective stupidity of the extreme right wing Tea Party sink the Republicans hopes in the last few years, I realize that a Republican Party-less America is not a viable option. The party will not disband or go out of business, and they should do neither. The party provides a voice for those who embrace traditional values while eschewing progressive idealism. Okay, their views are not for everyone, but it works for them.
This is tolerance talking. Tea Partiers, please take note.
The country needs to allow a place for people with these views to congregate on the political landscape. And no, my fellow liberals and progressives, concentration camps are NOT a workable option.
In his article published in Parade Magazine (insert snarky Rand Paul attribution swipe here), Scarborough invoked the spectral spirit of conservative immortal William F. Buckley to present his cure for what ails the GOP. He argues that the party can choose between the conservative pragmatism of Buckley, or go the way of extreme right wing fruitcake (characterization mine) Glenn Beck. He argues that the Republicans can win elections again if they choose the path taken by party icons like Ronald Reagan and Dwight Eisenhower.
Unfortunately for the time being, Scarborough’s party is held hostage by a movement that is twisted around big business. Twisted as say, a poison ivy vine around a thorny rose bush. Specifically, the party is tangled up in the big business philosophies of billionaire siblings David and Charles Koch. The situation was wonderfully skewered in Will Farrell’s not-so-subtle, and unfortunately overlooked, 2012 satire The Campaign. The story revolved around a congressional race between an ideological challenger and an incumbent deep in the pockets of billionaire businessmen. In this case, the corporate bad guys are dubbed the Moch Brothers. (Will Ferrell subtle? Surely we jest!) It may be a trick of my hearing or my subliminal consciousness, but one character’s Southern drawl pronunciation of the Moch name comes out sounding like “Marx”, which completes the absurdist circle back to another group of satirists from a previous age.
The Campaign questions the philosophy that winning is everything. It’s a point which Scarborough, unfortunately, over emphasizes in his article. Don’t get me wrong: I do like Joe Scarborough. Yes, he is a diehard conservative with a deep hatred of Obamacare/Affordable Care Act, but he has said complimentary things about the other side of the aisle from time to time. He realizes that extremism is keeping his party out of power. In the end, he laments that he is tired of seeing his party lose every election.
I agree with Scarborough…up to a point. Yes, it’s nice when your side wins, but that is and should not be the ultimate goal of winning in politics. The prized goal should be enacting and enabling policies that have a positive impact on your constituents and society as a whole. If an office seeker wins election only to start an endless cycle of fund-raising for the next election the day after they are sworn in, then I hope they will do everyone a favor and STAY THE HELL HOME!
We don’t need any more political hacks in Washington who are only there to get high on power, as Ferrell’s character did in The Campaign. We need public servants who will take their job seriously. As a taxpayer, I am appalled at the sheer waste of my money used to maintain the legislative branch of the federal government, only to see them bicker like school children and ultimately not resolve a damn thing. I want my money back!
As for Scarborough, if he is truly tired of losing, then maybe he should consider registering as a Democrat. Subtle? Moi?
(Thank you for reading. No PAC money was used to produce this entry, which did not once mention Mama Grizzly Bore.)