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

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Uncle Hugh and I

Every Monday, I visit my Uncle Hugh. He lived in Northeast Philadelphia for many years until a burglar assaulted him. Since that incident, he moved in with his older sister, Vera. They share the top floor of a duplex near where I live. Aunt Vera asked if I could come over to take him shopping and/or other errands once a week. The reason for this was to get him out of the house before they killed each other. This first started two years ago, and I’ve gone back every week ever since.

Uncle Hugh and I have had many adventures over the years. I remember the summer of 1975 when I spent several weeks with my Aunt Mary in Frankford. He would drive over and pick me up for some sort of activity. I should point out that my uncle had some peculiar driving skills. I don’t believe he was a bad or reckless driver, but let’s just say he gave new meaning to the term driving defensively. Before we set off on one of these trips, he noticed that I had fastened my seat belt. “That’s a good idea,” he said, “That way there’ll be at least one survivor that can tell the police what happened.”

I’m not sure what Uncle Hugh’s IQ is, but he is easily the smartest of all my aunts and uncles. He worked many years for Philco/Ford and at one time – or so he admitted to a doctor once – he taught physics. Although I hold a master’s degree in communication studies, I’m no match for his intellect.

We’re able to converse on many subjects – family history, literature, arts, and some science – but every once in awhile we’ll try to tackle some monumental issue. One such occasion happened as I was leaving him this week. I asked my uncle if he had any other plans for the rest of the week. Some weeks he’ll have a doctor appointment or two scheduled, but this time he said he didn’t have any plans. I thought it would seem a shame if he didn’t have something lined up to occupy his time until I visited again, and I made a suggestion.

“Why don’t you solve the problem of world hunger?” I asked.

“There you go,” he replied, “I’d be a hero then, wouldn’t I?”

Then leave it to me to think of a problem to my own suggestion. “Yeah, but then you wouldn’t get a moment’s peace. They’d expect you to solve other world problems too.”

After digesting this, Uncle Hugh said, “You’re right about that, too!”

I said, “On second thought, we’d better scratch the first idea.” With that, we tabled the global hunger dilemma. Sorry world, but maybe we’ll solve this problem next week.

Anyway, when the subject comes up again, I might throw this suggestion on the table. I would start to solve world hunger by giving every child in the affected areas a sharp stick and direct them to the nearest wilderness. It’d be fun to watch the little tykes figure it out for themselves. I know it’s not much of an idea, but as I said, it’s just a starting point.

I’m sure Uncle Hugh has come up with something better, but I won’t know until I see him next week. In the meantime, if anyone reading this is hungry, go buy a cheap burger. Heinz ketchup of course, and don’t forget the french fries.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Ambiguous Arrogance

Quiz time, everyone! Multiple choice. Ready?

The word “so” is:
a. A homonym for the act of joining two fabrics together;
b. The title of a Peter Gabriel album;
c. The official Bush administration response to objections over the war in Iraq;
d. All of the above.

The correct answer is “d”, but since we thrive on bashing the current administration, we are most concerned with answer “c”. Vice President Cheney was asked last week about the American public’s low opinion of the Iraq war: two-thirds of those polled now oppose the war.

The war is less popular than ever before with 4,000 casualties and billions of dollars of war debt piling up. Cheney responded – with his typical infinite arrogance - “So?” As in “So why should I care what other people think?”

Thank you very much, Mr. Vice-President! We always knew you possessed a “I don’t give a damn” attitude to public opinion polls, but this response takes your pomposity to new heights.

Still, I have an extremely grudging admiration for the way in which you’ve become the most powerful vice president in history. You’ve even convinced us that the First Cowpoke in the Oval Office is officially in charge. The sad irony of all this is that he believes it himself. When are you planning on telling him the truth?

You’ve certainly set the tone for all political discourse in the foreseeable future! You see that your favorite expression works on both sides of the aisle. If things go well for the Democrats in November, then this time next year they’ll be able to use the same phrase on your concerns.

The Bush tax cuts have expired and you’re using the proceeds to benefit the common good!


But those of us making over $250,000 per year don’t want to finance infrastructure repair!


And you’re making healthcare affordable for all Americans!


And you’re building up a surplus for emergency expenses like natural disasters and unforeseen attacks by the terrorists!


Thus, the word “so” is truly a versatile term. Mr. Cheney, choose your next words carefully. You and your cronies may have to swallow their bitterness after the next election.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

When in America, Don’t Drink the Water

Anne Marie and I have been struggling for many months now with constant fatigue. We thought we had pinpointed the problem to a variety of sources. It could be due to her insomnia, a symptom of menopause.

Or it could be due to our excessive weight. We believe we have a diet like most Americans – three square meals a day – but we seldom patronize the high fat, fast food establishments.

Or it could be due to my apnea. As for myself, I have just graduated from a CPAP to a BIPAP machine to help me get a better night’s sleep. So far I’ve noticed a little difference, but there are many days that I feel tired most of the time.

Now a new study has given us a new probable cause for our exhaustion: our drinking water. The study found a variety of substances normally found in prescription drugs in the nation’s water supply. Terrific! We don’t smoke, we drink occasionally, but it turns out we’re getting stoned from the stuff coming out of our kitchen tap.

Some of the drugs cited in the study include prescription and non-prescription drugs that found their way into our water systems either through human urine or just from consumers throwing them down the drain. The anti-depressant Prozac was among 82 pharmaceutical products found by the scientists conducting the study. This conclusion opens up a whole new set of issues. For example, will we need a doctor’s order just to turn on our faucets? Who in hell is going to enforce that? DEA? Homeland Security? The Culligan Man?

What do we tell our visitors to this country? As international travelers, Americans have been told to avoid drinking the water found in our destinations due to the possibility of picking up strange diseases to which we are not immune. Well, finally, America has joined the ranks of the older, more established societies in the world because we too now have shitty drinking water. This could also be another argument for the anti-immigration forces. Oh yeah, we may have better opportunities here, but now our water is just as bad as the water in your home country. You may want to think twice about crossing our borders, but if you do decide to come here, then BYOB.

Another study examined the quality of water being used by American troops in Iraq. The water used mainly for laundry and hygiene – but not necessarily for drinking - was found to be “discolored” and odorous. The water may have produced a variety of illnesses from skin infections to diarrhea. The study cited the contractor in charge of supplying the water with the problem. The contractor, KRB Inc. (yes, the subsidiary of Haliburton, which VP Dick Cheney used to head) has denied that its water is tainted. Imagine, our fighting men and women are putting their lives on the line in foreign lands and they get the same water quality that the people back home are getting. At least there is some sort of parity at play here.

One solution is to stop doing studies. I realize studies have the purpose to find a solution to an identified problem, but did we really need to know this? Now I can see why the Bush Administration has disavowed the discipline of science for seven years: studies are full of bad news! This is very disturbing, so disturbing that I think I need a drink to calm my nerves. I could fix something at my bar, but on second thought I think I’ll just have a glass of tap water.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Deep Thoughts

Once in a great while, I will get bored with the Bush-bashing tone of my blog writings and attempt to probe deeper into the human condition. I don’t know how I get these profound thoughts. Sometimes I will be inspired by the sights and sounds around me.

Other times the thoughts are triggered by unusual events, such as when, a few weeks ago, I found that my car was sliding all over a snow covered road, and another car was heading straight for me with no indication that it would slow down at all. It is times like this when I reach deep into my own life experiences and cry...I mean, cry out for the strength to overcome this latest dilemma. Then, when all else fails, I will close my eyes to the disaster that’s about to overcome me.

Now that I think about that, closing one’s eyes to disaster has probably been the credo for the Bush Administration since Day One. Oh, I’m so sorry! I really hoped to get through one blog entry without a derogatory statement about the President. Oh well, hold that thought. Herewith are my latest deep thoughts:

I hear calls for change and I think, ‘Yes, why not?’

Then I see peace and beauty in the world around me, and I think, ‘Yes, this can happen everyday.’

Then I see a Kerry-Edwards bumper sticker in a pristine condition on a car like it was still 2004 and I think, ‘Damn you, Ralph Nader.’

Okay, sorry. That wasn’t quite as profound as I originally thought. Perhaps my second one will be better. It’s short and sweet like the fortune found inside a Chinese fortune cookie. This was the thought that came to me when I straightened my car out in the snow storm, drove out of the path of the oncoming traffic, returned home and called in to work for an emergency vacation day.

“Life happens once; use it wisely.”

I will just leave it at that.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Short Notes – March 2008


In a long tradition that includes FDR and JFK, proof once again that Democrats have more fun!


Gee, Mr. President, this information was in all the newspapers. Honestly, would it strain your eyes too much to look at a paper for once in your administration, instead on relying on your aides to spoon-feed you the facts they think you want to hear? Then you could see the news as the American people see it. You could also get the news on television. For you, I recommend Fox News; they’re more fair and balanced towards your understanding of the world.

I realize it’s not all your fault. I’m beginning to think that this is a hereditary condition in your family. I recall George Bush the First expressing amazement when he saw a price scanner at the supermarket checkout line. Everyone else in the country had already known about this for years, but it was a newfangled contraption to dear ole dad. Still, it must be nice to live inside a bubble of privileged ignorance.


I meant to write about this news last week, but I just now found my Roget’s Thesaurus. I’m sure Buckley himself wore out four or five copies of this reference work in his lifetime. Obituary writers have been having a field day with his passing. One obituary I read had an opening paragraph that would have required the reader to have a master’s degree in English to get through it. Oh, sorry, Mr. President.

Now we’ll pay tribute to the man, a human being much like the rest of us, but one with an amazing intellect. Yet we must acknowledge that he was a worthy political adversary. His conservative fans lionized him; his liberal detractors scorned him. His mastery of the English language was nothing short of astonishing. Certainly, we could quarrel with his political wisdom, but such palaver is what makes America such a great country! We shall not witness his like again for some time to come.

Translation of this last item for the President: Conservative commentator William F. Buckley, Jr. has died. He was very smart. He used a lot of big words. Bye-bye, Mr. Buckley!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Little Kitten Who Could

This weekend, a warm, fuzzy story about survival has surfaced in Cleveland. A company there uncrated a shipment of steel coil and found a “scrawny, black and white female kitten” inside one of the coils. The crate was sealed in Singapore on February 4 and shipped to the states three days later. Unfortunately, the kitten's mother and siblings were found dead in the same crate. The kitten, estimated to be 12 weeks old, is responding well to medical treatment and eating food. The report states that the kitten will be held in quarantine for three weeks to determine if it has any infectious diseases which it can pass on to other animals.

This is certainly an amazing story. Of course, we’ll be left to ponder forever how this cuddly fur ball could live for nearly four weeks in a crate without a pan of water or a can of Fancy Feast in sight. Many of us will consider all scenarios of what might have happened, including the unthinkable. Leave it to me – a blog writer with a German ancestry and a fondness for gallows humor – to not only think the unthinkable, but also propose my theory here.

Quarantine for infectious diseases...hell! How about using that time for weening the little tiger off of its cannibalistic tendencies? There, I said it! I went there, and there’s no going back now! It’s best to let me go on with this and get it out of my system.

This cat should come forward and bare all as soon as it’s up on its feet. Perhaps an appearance on Oprah, but not Dr. Phil is in order. Dr. Phil would try to coax some guilt out of poor little Donner - my name for our plucky survivor after the Donner Party (huh, get it?). Unfortunately, he would not succeed. It is well known – or at least mostly assumed – that cats have no concept of this emotion called “guilt”. You want guilt, get a dog!

I sense a book and movie deal from this story! No, this wouldn’t be a tale suitable for children or the squeamish. Perhaps Stephen King could be called upon to commit the story to paper. The scene of Donner gnawing on her deceased siblings would be undoubtedly graphic in the King style. This could pose a challenge when Pixar brings it to the big screen, but I’m sure they’ll find a way to present it for mass consumption.

The ensuing publicity tour for the book and movie could take Donner all over the country. This could include a stop in San Francisco where she could swap recipes with the inhabitants of the tiger exhibit. Oh yeah, I can just hear that conversation now, “Take it from us, Donner. Humans taste like chicken!”

However, all these cheap shots at humor ignore another angle of this story: the kitten came into this country in a crate without going through customs. This kitten is an illegal alien! I’ll bet it doesn’t even have its visa paperwork filled out! Has the INS been called in? Why isn’t Lou Dobbs pouncing on this story? This angle gives Fox News an excuse to sink its teeth into the story now.

Okay, I think it’s out of my system now. I sincerely hope that this kitten will lead a nice comfortable life once it is adopted. It should be a warm, cozy existence living guilt-free, but always looking over its shoulder for immigration agents.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Hail to the Journalists!

As I write this, it appears that Hillary Clinton has survived another round of close primary votes. Earlier this week, the media were placing her in the “do or die” category of politics. The prevailing wisdom was that her quest for the Oval Office would be over if she didn’t take at least Texas and/or Ohio. Now, the results have been counted and she took both states with room to spare.

This is all the more impressive when you consider that Hillary is not very well liked and hasn’t been popular with many people for years. Part of her problem is her assertive – some would use the word “aggressive” - personality in the world of national politics. Unfortunately she won’t escape this accusation; necessity sometimes calls for a woman to act in an unfeminine manner if she expects to make it in the male world. This isn’t always fair, but this is the way it is.

With all this in her background, you would think that the Clinton campaign might try to soften her image by treating certain segments of the population with some tender loving care, if not downright dignity. The one segment I have in mind for this treatment is the journalists following her campaign. As the messengers between her and the voters, they play an important role in not only getting her message across, but also communicating the message in a friendly manner.

In this respect, the Clinton press corps met a challenge in the days leading up to the Texas primary. The ladies and gentlemen of the press had to endure working in – what the Clinton campaign claims it was told – an empty locker room. The room was actually a men’s rest room complete with urinals mounted on the walls.

Of all the indignity! Naturally, this is not quite as bad as Ernie Pyle dodging Japanese bullets in the Pacific theatre, or Edward R. Murrow side-stepping the Nazi Blitzkrieg in World War II London, or the CNN news crew using a hotel table for protection while Baghdad was bombed during the first Iraq invasion.

I’m happy to report that the press corps faced this problem head on and persevered. They set their desks up in front of the urinals without so much as a second thought. They toiled on their dispatches with the toilets flushing and running. They researched notes, compiled statistics, and checked their sources even with the sound of piss hitting urinal cakes nearby. You have to admire people who can work in such a peculiar environment with all the wondrous sights, sounds, and flatulent smells of a men’s restroom.

This was, by no means, any normal newsroom. In a normal newsroom, you might hear such expressions as “Copy, boy,” or “I’ll confirm that quote with my source,” or “Britney did what?” In this situation, you would be more likely to hear this: “Excuse me, Miss Thomas, could you please leave the press pool room for a moment? The Associated Press has to see a man about a horse, if you know what we mean!”

The Clinton campaign insisted that they weren’t sending a message when they put the press corps in the restroom. I can see that; mistakes will happen. None of this matters in the end, because the American media will survive no matter what nature and politicians put in their path. They will forever seek the truth for all of us. Nothing will stop them...unless, of course, the Associated Press has to make water. In that case, the pursuit of the truth may be delayed five minutes or so.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Going Out On Top

Shockwaves have been sent through the political world at the news that Fidel Castro has stepped down as President of Cuba for health reasons. Many people never thought they would see this day, but it is finally here. The feeling was he would die in office, but instead he’s going out while he’s still on top. Unfortunately, no one is expecting any drastic changes in Cuban society right away.

Similarly, a few weeks ago, Mitt Romney gave up his quest for the White House for the good of the country. It’s refreshing to see leaders like these realize that it is time for them to retire. I’ll go further into this territory of historical theory, and state it would have been very nice if some other leaders from the past had left office much sooner than they actually did.

People like, for example, ADOLPH HITLER

My Fellow Germans:

After much careful consideration, I have decided to step down as your Fuehrer. I know this will come as a great shock to many of my followers, but after consulting with my astrologer I am convinced that my vision for a glorious Thousand-Year Reich will only destroy our beloved Fatherland.

I now know that my policies were doomed to failure. The Final Solution...what was I thinking? Honestly, I don’t know where my head was at when we conceived that idea. I cannot let this happen to you and our country.

Or former Whitewater “independent” counsel KEN STARR

Dear Justice Department:

I am writing to you today to resign from my post as independent prosecutor for the Whitewater affair. My reasons are varied, but suffice it to say that I had an epiphany this morning while jogging and humming my favorite hymn. I realized that this investigation is not a high, noble pursuit of justice and righteousness, but that it is – as my critics have been saying all along – a vicious, ill-conceived witch-hunt.

Please don’t get me wrong: I hate the Clintons with a passion, but I have concluded that we imperil the actions of future Presidents by setting the bar of honesty so low. Seriously, does any of us really care if Bill Clinton got it on with an intern? The little tease gets whatever she deserves, but we must preserve the Executive Branch. Besides, there are so many other issues that demand our attention at this time that we mustn’t allow one lie to distract us from our service to the American people.

I regret that I leave with my work half-finished, but I must step aside for the good of the country. If only I didn’t hate the Clintons so much. God, I hate them! I hate them! I hate them!

Or how about GEORGE W. BUSH

My Fellow Americans:

I come to you today with a heavy heart to announce that I am resigning as President of the United States effective immediately. My decision was not arrived upon lightly. I still believe that I have pursued the right course for our country in the war against terror. Despite the successes of my administration, I know now that I should step aside and not allow the United States to remain divided.

I will confess that my decision is based on a conversation I had with Laura. Over dinner last night she asked me, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” Well, I was stumped. I thought about it and, in fact, I was up all night debating my choices. I concluded that if I, as leader of the free world, could not answer this question, then I have no business serving as your President.

Believe me, I felt dumber than a pile of dog dirt, but at the same time I felt as if a burden had been lifted from my shoulders. If you people only realized what I went through every day, but that’s in the past.

For those of you wondering how my resignation will affect our country, I will assure you that, outside of a name change in the Oval Office, you will not notice any difference. You see, my decision puts Dick Cheney in charge now.

PS - Sorry about the Constitution! Maybe Dick can tape it back together for you...

I know this is all far-fetched, but a liberal can dream, can’t he?