A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Friday, June 30, 2006

Shout-Outs and Props

Periodically, we must recognize certain people who have made headlines and made our lives more interesting either through chutzpah or stupidity. With that in mind, we give shout-outs and props to the individuals listed below. I can understand the shout-outs, but I have no idea what these people will do with the airplane parts once we give it to them.*

John Perzel – PA state representative who repeatedly tried to justify his voting for a legislative pay raise last year by comparing his salary ($72,000) to other occupations. First it was dairy farmers, then tattoo artists. Thank God he gave up before he thought of comparing his pay to Alex’s Lemonade Stand. Imagine, a child’s lemonade stand making millions, much more than your paltry $72K, and they don’t even keep the money for themselves! The proceeds go into cancer research. Go figure! Hey, here’s a suggestion: go back to Harrisburg, earn your salary and maybe, just maybe, we taxpayers will think about giving you a raise. In the meantime, buy a glass of lemonade.

Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, England - You deserve credit for going up against those uppity SUV drivers in your city. The report I heard stated that SUV owners in London were four times as likely to have accidents since they insist on driving around and talking on their cell phones at the same time, and their overall superior attitude towards other drivers just because they own a SUV. You go, Mr. Mayor! Raise their fees if they want to drive into your city. Thank the lord you only have a city full of these drivers to deal with; we have an entire country of those buggers over here.

Norman Mineta – congratulations on your retirement from public service and, oh yeah, good riddance! I can appreciate your rise out of the Japanese-American internment camps during World War II, and how you were the only Democrat in the Bush cabinet. (Which reminds me, how did they put up with you for so long?) However, you lost me when you insisted on privatizing Amtrak. Now there’s a subject I could go on about, but that’s another entry for another day. In the meantime, enjoy your retirement and be grateful the American people never got around to tying you to the tracks in front of The Capitol Limited! There, I directed a sarcastic comment at a Democrat! I’ll bet some of you thought I couldn’t do it. Hey, we believe in equal opportunity on this blog!

*Props was that part on older airplanes that spun around real fast enabling the plane to move forward. Okay, so it was a lame pun. I’m a middle-aged white guy who is not hip to the current lingo. Cut me a break, huh?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Is That the First Amendment Burning, or Are You Just Holding a Firecracker?

Let’s take stock of the problems facing our country today. Americans are dying in Iraq... Okay, you’re right. This is déjà vu. This is the beginning of my 6/12/06 entry, where I let the GOP Congress have it because of all the problems facing us today, they decided to tackle the mounting crisis (no pun intended) of gay marriage with a Constitutional amendment. The attempt failed, but this week they are debating passage of another amendment.

If I were in a real lazy mood I would direct you back to my previous blog entry and instruct you to substitute the words “flag burning” every time I used the phrase “gay marriage”.

I am either getting very psychic in my old age, or the GOP Congress is getting too predictable. I predicted in my earlier entry that the flag burning amendment would be revived in time for the Fourth of July. No, I am not that gifted. Congress has run out of innovative ideas to raise their standings in the polls (I mean solve the real problems of this country).

Basically, Congress wants to give themselves the power to legislate punishment against people who burn the American flag. This isn’t the first time this idea has been pushed through Congress. The previous attempts ended with the Supreme Court giving its thumbs downs as unconstitutional. To them it’s a free speech issue; to Congress it’s a sign of disrespect towards the country and everyone who loves America.

This time, however, there is a chance it will succeed because some Democrats are on board supporting the idea. I’m puzzled by their motives. Either they are trying to show the nation that Democrats do care about the USA, or they are running for re-election. I have a suspicion that it is the latter reason.

Just a word on the act itself: I would not burn the flag myself because I am not into destruction of any kind. At the same time, I can see why the act is attractive to revolutionaries who want to make a concise, dramatic statement to the world about our policies. A flag reduced to ashes is probably worth a thousand words. This time I have to agree with the Supreme Court.

I am confident that the high court would strike the flag-burning ban down again if it reaches them. We should note here, as at least one other newspaper columnist has, that such an amendment in our Constitution would put us in company with Saddam Hussein, Fidel Castro, Adolf Hitler, and others who outlawed destruction of their country’s flags.

Are you beginning to see a pattern with this list of world leaders? A flag burning amendment would push us one step closer to a dictatorship.

Good company, indeed!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Was It Something You Said, Geno?

In the midst of the immigration debate, a news item appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer about a sign posted at one of the two most famous cheesesteak carryouts in the city. The sign, posted at the point of order and purchase reads, “This is America. When Ordering, Speak English.” Since the news item was published, it has gone several times around the globe garnering Geno’s owner, Joey Vento, some worldwide notoriety and condemnation from at least one city agency.

The sign seems harmless at first glance. No one can deny that the shop is in America.

The request for orders to be given in a specific language could be borne out of a concern for efficiency of each purchase. Apparently the very nature of the cheesesteak business is based on speed – speedier than your average McDonald’s purchase. Ideally, in the cheesesteak business, the customer should place their order with a minimum of words.

The owners would prefer a word count of three to five per order (my estimate). At this point the meat is cooked and slapped into a roll, money is taken from the customer, change is made, and the customer goes on their way. So in this respect it is easy to see why Geno’s does not want to waste time listening to someone try to pronounce their orders while there is a long line of customers behind them.

Then there is the customer service angle. From my experiences when I have graciously answered phone calls in the customer service department where I work – and by gracious I mean they had to drag me to the phones kicking and screaming - I recall that we, in customer service, do everything in our power to accommodate the customer. If a caller has problems asking their question, then we wait patiently for them to finish talking. We have never to the best of my recollection said, “C’mon, bub, spit it out,” even though there have been times when we could have been justified in using this response.

However, the declaration “This is America” could be seen as intimidating, especially if you link it with its most common phrase, “Love it or leave it”. This is a command that may not exactly endear it to those who may love the country, but with conditions. Of course, we must recognize that many people will wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment, love the country warts and all, and regard others who disagree as unpatriotic traitors. Let me argue that no country is perfect, being subject to the flaws of those in leadership positions at the time. The ideal of the country is still good, but our leaders may or may not always live up to that ideal. We should be allowed to love our country with varying degrees of pride and sentiment without being labeled as un-American.

Okay, how did I get started on that rant?

I don’t think the sign itself is the controversy, but rather some remarks made by the sign’s owner. Somewhere in the early part of Joey Vento’s 15 minutes of fame, he let it be known that the sign was up because he was frustrated at the number of Hispanics coming into his neighborhood. Now the sign became personal, directed at a particular ethnic group, even though – as Vento has pointed out - that the sign does not mention any particular group. It’s not what you did, Joey, it’s what you said that has kicked up all this dust. While the sign may seem harmless, it’s the owner’s motives that should be questioned.

Public response to the sign has been split – almost like the Red and Blue states. Many people are steering clear of Geno’s for the friendlier atmosphere of Pat’s across the street. Many others have become new loyal Geno’s customers because of the sign. Ultimately, this will all die away and people will start patronizing whomever they want based on the quality of the product and not the political views of the merchant.

As for me, I don’t think I’ll be patronizing Geno’s or Pat’s anytime soon. I estimate that there must be hundreds of other cheesesteak outlets between my house and South Philadelphia. I’ll go to one of them if I get really hungry.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Father’s Day – 2006

Dear Dad,

This is our first Father’s Day without you. It will seem strange this year not to hear your voice on the phone when I call. Still I know that, after all is said and done, that you’re in a better place now, free from suffering and worry.

There are so many things I could think to say right now. For instance, the other day I found myself wanting to play a game of chess with you. I know we hadn’t played a game in years, but I found myself wanting one more game with you. I’ll have the rest of my life to have that thought, but it’s one wish that will go unfulfilled.

I’ve had a chance over the last few months to remember so many different times we shared together. The good times bring a smile to my face. The bad times – memories of anger and sadness between us – haunt me now and again.

One of the good times was when you took me to Phillies game years ago. I know I thanked you several times over the years for taking me, but I don’t know if I ever told you that I realized how much it meant to you. I mean, you didn’t even like professional sports, but you knew I loved baseball. So you sacrificed an evening at home to take me to my first ballgame. I’ve come to appreciate what it was you did: you came home from cutting meat at the Acme, probably exhausted already, picked me for the drive into North Philadelphia, and together we watched the game. I recall now that it was along the third base side at Connie Mack Stadium, and that the Mets won, 3-0. It wasn’t until recently that I realized the sacrifice you made when I come home from work, very tired and not wanting to do anything but relax. Keep in mind I do not have a job that is as physically demanding as yours was, and instead of children I have cats who, like you, could care less about professional baseball.

I know we can’t share this memory ever again, but I hope these thoughts reach you somehow.

This year we will think about you and all the things you did to show your love for us. Don and I may save some money on a gift this year, but it still won’t be quite the same.

Maybe one of us will do something stupid, just to make you laugh. Maybe one of us will track down the elusive oyster stew and eat it in your honor. Most of all we’ll remember your words, your actions, and think loving thoughts no matter where we are or what we do.


Your son

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Reaching Out to Ann

Dear Ms. Coulter:

Please excuse my use of a feminist salutation to open my effort to reach out to you. I hope you won’t be offended, but you see I am one of those evil, naughty, bad, immoral liberals about whom you have been warning your conservative brethren. For the record, I consider myself a moderate, middle-of-the-road liberal who believes in God (but not necessarily organized religion), but I guess that all those qualifiers don’t matter to you. To you, a liberal is a liberal is a liberal, something to be reviled and squashed like a bug.

I have never bought any of your books because it is so hard for me to get past your titles. For example, How to Talk To Liberals (If You Have To) makes me feel sorry for all those conservatives with such poor communication skills that they need a handbook to explain basic talking techniques. (Which reminds me, how is the President doing?) You are doing a great public service for the conservative community if they do need these lessons.

Then there is your latest book, Godless. My, this one cuts to the chase, doesn’t it? I’ll admit this title is not as wordy and awkward as your previous works, but godless? Were you really that frustrated with your book title just because Mein Kampf was already taken?

Oh, there I go, and I promised myself I would not get nasty about your work, particularly since I am trying to reach out in the spirit of bi-partisanship. I’m doing this because I believe in the word united as in “United States”, but the nasty rhetoric on both sides makes me wonder if the concept of a union even exists anymore. Now, I believe that you don’t really believe all this stuff you say deep down. I can tell that just by looking at you. You are a very lovely lady, even with your long blonde flowing vipers sticking out of your head like Medusa.

Oh, there I go again. I am so sorry, I just can’t explain how that slipped out. I must be stereotyping you based on my perception of your work.

What I’m really trying to say is that maybe you should, you know, tone down your rhetoric, especially when you talk about people who suffered a loss from the 9/11 attacks. I heard what you said about these widows who have been pushing for more answers from the Bush administration about 9/11, and, I must admit, it probably stung them. After all, they didn’t ask to be put into this position, but now that they are they want to make sure that all the facts are known, and that all of the history is learned so that no one else has to endure what they have suffered. They are just exercising their First Amendment rights.

You do remember the First Amendment, don’t you?

Maybe you just need some quiet time to think over what you have said. Just sit silently, cross those gorgeous long, mini-skirted legs of yours, close your eyes and breathe deeply in and out. That’s right, breathe in and out, and just keep thinking these thoughts: “No matter what I say or what I do, liberals will never go away. Liberals will never go away. Liberals will never go away...”

Monday, June 12, 2006

Priorities Inside The Beltway

Let’s take stock of the problems facing our country today. Americans are dying in Iraq under questionable circumstances in both premise and goal. Global warming is bringing stronger storms to our shores and, among other potential natural disasters for mankind, allows poison ivy to flourish and strengthen in potency. The stock market is riding the roller coaster of rising oil prices and inflation fears.

And, as John Adams asked in the film version of 1776, “What burning issue are we voting on now?” Whether or not to prohibit two people of the same sex to be legally joined as a couple like all other adult couples in a mature, loving relationship. Apparently the boys and girls in Congress (and for that matter the Pennsylvania House) have nothing better to do with their time than to legalize discrimination.

Proponents of the amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman believe it will close the door on other laws allowing polygamy, bestiality and other sexual perversions. Okay, two can play the slippery slope game. So, where would this law lead to next? How about a ban on interracial marriage? Alabama would love to see that come back. Or could it lead to legislation banning marriage between two who do not share the same spiritual beliefs? If such a law had existed in 1959, then I would have never been born.

It would seem that the slippery slope arguments from both sides dwell at the extremes of irrational thought.

The whole idea is being written off as an attempt by the Bush administration to regain his conservative base. Earlier last week Bush spoke publicly about the need for this marriage amendment. Yet, as some members of the media have pointed out (Dick Polman in The Philadelphia Inquirer for one), the President has stated that he doesn’t want to see this proposal become law. Now if John Kerry had made such contradictory statements, he would be called a waffler and portrayed as a wind gauge changing his position with the political tides. Somehow the conservatives haven’t seen this with their boy in the White House, but they are showing their impatience with him.

This entire debate and energy boils down to convincing people to vote their way come November. Once again, it’s all about Bush’s low poll numbers. If this doesn’t work, then watch for the flag burning amendment idea to be revived again — just in time for the Fourth of July. I can’t help wondering what would happen if this effort was put toward solving a real problem.

To paraphrase John Adams again, “Good God!”

Saturday, June 10, 2006

The Uncontrollable Blog

I was sitting at the computer a few days ago, thinking of new ways to disparage the Bush administration, when my wife Anne Marie entered.

AM: What is that?

Me: What?

AM: That! That enormous blobby creature in the living room.

Me: Oh, that. It’s the blog entry I’m working on. Why?

AM: It's huge! It's about to break through the ceiling! What are you writing about that is making it so big?

Me: The same-sex marriage controversy. There are so many ideas and angles to be explored. I keep thinking of new issues before I can finish my first thought.

AM: (expletive deleted) It’s got ten arms and, are those legs?

Me: Uh, I think so, but you may want to stay clear of them if they start oozing.

AM: Okay, you need to cut this back. Edit it down. Just get your main thoughts across and give a few details of each one. You don’t have to include every single thought.

Me: But this is my blog, my creation. It’s like my own child. I can’t cut it back.

AM: It’s tormenting Meredith!

Me: Meredith will survive. She can run and hide from it if she chooses. Besides, if I may remind you, Meredith tried to torch all of my Abba albums a few weeks ago. It's not that I don’t love her, but I haven’t fully forgiven her yet.

AM: It’s about to bust through the living room windows. Cut it back!

Me: No! My child...

AM: Your child just devoured every bottle of Heinz ketchup we had.

Me: WHAT!?! This beast dies NOW!


Thursday, June 08, 2006

Bush Dynasty III

NARRATOR: It’s coming!

(Sound of thunder. Lightning flashes! Music: screeching strings build to crescendo.)

NARRATOR: From the people who brought you George H.W. and George W., comes the terrifying sequel no one has been waiting for!

(Hysterical screaming from a liberal woman.)

NARRATOR: Bush I told the tale of ambition short-circuited by a no-tax pledge gone awry. Bush II was the incredible saga of a principled leader who didn’t listen to reason or common sense. The story continues in “Bush III: Jeb Rising!”

(Hysterical screaming from a liberal man.)

NARRATOR: Non-stop terror, plunging polls, dashed international reputations!
Co-starring Karl Rove as the Mad Scientist...

MAD SCIENTIST: It can be done! We’ve done it three times before, we can do it again! We can put Jeb in the White House!

NARRATOR: ...and Dick Cheney as the hunchback assistant...

HUNCHBACK ASSISTANT: Jeb? In the White House? Hmmm...I guess I can see that in a weird Billy Carter type way.

NARRATOR: ...with Barbra Streisand, Tom Hanks, and Richard Dreyfuss as themselves...

STREISAND, HANKS, and DREYFUSS: (Unison) Who do you people think you are? The Kennedys!?!

(More thunder, more lightning, more hysterical screaming, more strings!)

NARRATOR: Coming soon to a horror/schlock fest near you...or maybe the White House if you let them! (Diabolical laughter up and fade.)

Friday, June 02, 2006

There Was A Time When Strangers Were Welcome Here….*

Dear Prospective Citizens,

Yes, this means you, hiding in the ditch along the southwest border while you wait for your smuggler's signal to dash into the United States. It has come to our attention that America’s open arms policy toward immigrants has been taken too seriously. Admittedly, in the past we have welcomed all comers regardless of their origin, their race, or their language. In fact, we embraced this tradition so much that we accepted a gift from France – back when France still liked us - which became an international symbol of hope and freedom for strangers coming to our shores. We were filled with pride as we read the inscription on the base of the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, you’re poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free.”

Well, forget all that. It turns out that we were just kidding.

I don’t why immigration became an issue now. It’s not like it hasn’t been smoldering underneath the surface for years. It could be that someone in the Bush administration or the GOP-led Congress is concerned with their poll numbers, oh I mean, the immigration problem. We have dealt with this issue before, but apparently our efforts have not been good enough.

Congress is now hashing out a series of bills designed to address the problem. One extreme idea calls for every illegal immigrant – and those that helped him or her enter the country – go to jail. As I noted earlier, this idea isn’t practical. We would need more prisons built, which would require money, which would add to the national deficit.

The other extreme, endorsed by the President, calls for amnesty of all illegal aliens. This idea won’t fly either. Bush’s idea is a sweep-it-under-the-carpet-and-we’ll-work-out-the-details-later solution. Blanket forgiveness for all who came here illegally, to hell with those who lawfully applied for citizenship, and all businesses get to keep their cheap labor. Huh-uh!

Another proposal calls for a fence to be built along the southwest border to keep you from coming in illegally. Tensions are so high that I wouldn’t be surprised if someone proposes dismantling the Statue of Liberty as scrap metal to help pay for the new fence.

Oh yeah, I can see that now. We could replace Miss Liberty with a ninety-foot tall image of a snarling Lou Dobbs. The new inscription could read, “Enter at your own risk.”

The point of all this is to give you something to think about before you run into our country. Keep in mind there are many trigger happy volunteers massing at the borders who are eager to convince you to go back from whence you came. The days of the great land rushes are over. Those were the days when people would line up and, when a shot was fired in the air, everyone in line would run to settle lands in the west. Today’s shots will no doubt be aimed in a different direction.

I’m just using the term trigger happy to describe people who like shooting at anything or anybody. Just a friendly reminder, that’s all.

So, please keep all this mind as you prepare to walk, run, skip, jump, hop, or crawl across our border. Of course you can always become a citizen of the United States legally by filling out the necessary paperwork and waiting, and waiting, and waiting. Then, one day, you’ll be granted American citizenship. This would be a proud day, a day which you won’t have to tell your grandchildren about, because they will already be here when you get your approval.

Did I mention the term trigger happy? I can’t emphasize that concept enough.

*The Immigrant, Neil Sedaka