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, May 29, 2009

Did You Hear The Latest One About Two Black Men?


The big story in this part of the country began earlier this week when a woman phoned police to report that she and her 9 year old daughter had been kidnapped. The woman, Bonnie Sweeten, told police that she and her daughter had been put in the trunk of a Cadillac after it rear-ended her at a busy intersection in Bucks County, PA. She reported her captors as being two black men...

Okay, stop! I’ve heard this one before! I don’t need to hear the punch line!

Anne Marie immediately had suspicions about the woman’s story and adopted a wait-and-see attitude. The first thought to come to my mind when I heard the words “black men” was Susan Smith. Remember her? She was the Southern white trash woman who drowned her children when her affections were spurned by the town’s wealthy eligible bachelor, then blamed their abduction on, yes, you remember now, two black men.

The police, much to their credit, took the story at face value and investigated. The FBI was called in, several Amber alerts were issued in the name of the daughter, and roadblocks were set up in Bucks County to search every vehicle in the area. Guess what they found? They found no witnesses or even evidence of an accident at the busy intersection. They found the woman’s car in Center City Philly with no damage to its rear end.

Many people wondered what type of kidnappers would place a woman in the trunk of her car and not take her cell phone. The prevailing attitude during the early hours of the story was that the kidnappers were either stupid, or perhaps they panicked and weren’t thinking straight. After all, they could’ve been wanted criminals and an auto accident may draw unwanted attention from the authorities. Mind you that this was all speculation and, I dare say, the wanted criminal scenario is an attitude that goes hand-in-hand with the words “black men”. Yes, it is unfortunate, very unfair, and racist.

Then everyone breathed a sigh of relief the day after the incident: mother and daughter had been found! They were at a resort near Disney World in Orlando, FL. Wow, those kidnappers drove real fast if they could make to Orlando within 24 hours! It also appeared that they weren’t so dumb after all. Who would think to search for kidnap victims at Disney World? Not me! The idea was brilliant, but alas, like the rest of the story, not true.

No accident, no kidnapping, no innocent young girl and her mother held against their will, and most importantly, no black men. Tell all the cable news networks to go home; there’s no story here. Tell Nancy Grace to stop wringing her hands; she won’t see her ratings spike here today.

Now a personal message for the alleged “victim”, Bonnie Sweeten:


Well, so much for objectivity and subtlety...

So today Mom is in jail awaiting extradition, and daughter has been reunited with her father. Ms. Sweeten so far faces misdemeanor charges for her false report about being kidnapped by two black men. Of course, this is only the beginning of her legal trouble. She is also accused of identity theft, and today there is news that she may be linked to the disappearance of several hundred thousand dollars from one of her husband’s relatives.


Sorry, I must remember to restrain my emotions...

So, now my question is, where is Rev. Al Sharpton in all this? I haven’t heard the media report one peep out of him on this story. This is strange, since any other time he would be all over it by now. I’ve criticized him the past — perhaps unfairly — because he seems to go after incidents in the media which destroy the repentant perpetrators (e.g., Don Imus), but gets his own name in the papers. Many times he seems to be doing it purely for the glory, particularly when he attacks racism in the media, yet bypasses easy targets like the aforementioned Klan.

In this case, though, I am anxiously awaiting Rev. Al’s pronouncements. In this case, I will encourage Al Sharpton to go at her full speed. Please, she’s all yours. I hope you EAT THIS BITCH ALIVE! I’d pay to see that. Perhaps we can set up a pay-per-view on cable tv..

Well, Ms. Sweeten, your life is effectively over by your own actions. I hope you realize that, in your attempt to mask your actions by capitalizing on one stereo-type, that you also unwittingly confirmed another unfortunate and unfair stereo-type. I couldn’t help noticing that you’re a blonde...


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Plastic Model Kits for the Discriminating Collector

I have rediscovered the joy of plastic model building in the months since my heart operation. I built many of these in my youth, but I stayed away from the usual male adolescent subjects of hot rods, warplanes, or battleships. My interest gravitated towards figure models – humans, real or fictional, but mostly fictional.

Aurora Plastics (1950-1977) filled my needs nicely. I was first introduced to their offerings when my cousin Steve built The Mummy, based on the Universal horror flick from the 1930’s. They had the entire Universal monster line-up from Dracula and Frankenstein to the Wolfman and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. I was unable to collect all of these when I was a child and they sold for $1.98.

Aurora is long gone, but other manufacturers have taken the old molds and re-released them over the years. However, even these reissues are no longer commonly available. Any one like me has to hunt the old models — originals and reissues — on web sites like And, oh yes, you can bet they no longer sell for $1.98!

One Aurora kit featured John F. Kennedy sitting in front of a fireplace. This got me thinking about some of the other historical figures that could be plastic model subjects for the very discerning collector. We could show, for example, famous US Presidents in their greatest moments, like Lincoln delivering the Gettysburg Address, or not so great moments such as Lincoln purchasing tickets to see “Our American Cousin” at Ford’s Theatre.

Or say a great moment like Harry S. Truman standing on a train platform holding up the newspaper with the premature 1948 headline claiming Thomas E. Dewey had defeated Truman. Or a not so great moment of Truman beating the crap out of the Washington newspaper music critic who panned First Daughter Margaret Truman’s singing debut.

I envision a daring action diorama for FDR. My model would show the President and Eleanor Roosevelt engaged in a spirited debate about, oh, I don’t know, all the time she spends away from the White House, his mother, or perhaps his relationship with his mistress. We would see FDR in his wheelchair as Eleanor pushes it perilously close to a staircase. The President would appear to be yelling and poking his cigarette holder in the air, either to make a point or an attempt to burn Eleanor with his cigarette ash. Fala, the Scotty who was FDR’s faithful companion, would be seen nipping at Eleanor’s heels.

We could see a Presidential assassination series for Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, and, of course, Kennedy. This series would conclude with a display of Kennedy’s car driving past the infamous grassy knoll. In photos of the tragedy, the knoll is populated by several small groups of parade watchers. Ah, but my diorama would show at least a hundred people holding guns standing on the grassy knoll. Each one of these people would represent one of the countless conspiracy theories that historians have been defending, or fending off since that grim November day in Dallas.

Sometimes it is so hard for me to remain subtle.

Another figure that could be a plastic model is President James Buchanan preparing to go out on the town. Buchanan was our only bachelor Chief Executive, and widely regarded by historians (until very recently) as the worst President in American history. My model would show Buchanan in a long gown, with a bustle and possibly a hoop skirt in keeping with the fashion of the times. If this historical reference is too vague for the modern modeler, then we can update the figure. Subtract the bustle, lose the hoop, shorten the hemline to meet 20th century standards, and voila! We now have legendary FBI director J. Edgar Hoover preparing to go out on the town! Same difference!

I only bring up the subject of plastic models because part of my cheap vacation this week will be rebuilding my old models. It will pass the time when I get bored with the other house projects that are begging to be completed. What the hell! It’s an activity that will keep me off the streets...for a few hours at least.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

2009 Vacation To Do List

Next week I take some time off to travel to my backyard. Hey, it’s all I can afford this year.

1. Cut down trees, bushes, and otherwise brush which had the gall to die on me during the last few years.

2. Finish pitcher of hurricanes in fridge.

3. Box up surplus references* to Rush Limbaugh and store in attic for thirty days as a favor to MSNBC. (I don’t know what this is all about, but the guy at MSNBC mumbled something about trying to win a ratings bet with the old windbag.)

4. Finish bottle of Galiano in the kitchen.

5. Store more Rush Limbaugh references in large green trash bags in the garage.

6. Finish bottle of generic whiskey in the kitchen.

7. Write two blog entries, after I move more Rush Limbaugh references into a storage unit.

8. Finish whatever booze is left in the other bottle behind the visky and gali- gali- the yellow stuff. Aw, the hell with it! I got a few bottles of beer aging in the back of my fridge...

9. Set aside time to rest and recover from hangover brought on by fulfilling tasks #2, #4, #6, and #8.

10. The hell with it! Set all Rush Limbaugh references free into the field behind my house, where they can roam among the deer and the fox and the groundhogs, foraging on whatever they can find.

That’s it, little Limbaughs, you’re free, free I say! Go out and run to your heart's content. Run wild, run across the road, run into the road, play in traffic...oh, please play in traffic! After all, this is a free country! You know, with free speech? Believe it or not, Rush, there are some Americans who don’t see your point of view at all. Oh, and many of us don’t work at MSNBC!

*Herewith defined, but not limited to, the following: any sentence, question, declaration, or snide comment (particularly when uttered by Keith Olbermann) with the words “Rush Limbaugh” in it. Also may include actual video or audio bits featuring a performance by the noted windbag.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Screw With (Your Name Here) Day!

We’ve all had one of those days. You know the ones I’m talking about. The days that no matter what you set out to accomplish, and despite your best intentions, everything goes wrong.

My wife and executive editor at arteejee, Anne Marie, had one of those days this week.

The morning went along fine. Then lunch went wrong. Her Chinese lunch order of General Tso’s chicken with steamed rice came to her with fried rice. Strike one! Oh well, she made do with half a lunch and brought the fried rice home for me.

Then she used the drive-thru ATM near us to get some money. Unfortunately, the touch screen on this ATM is very sensitive. If you are given a choice of two buttons to push, and if you don’t press your desired button at the precise angle, you are screwed. By precise angle, I mean that anyone driving a gas guzzling SUV into the drive-thru will automatically have their arm at the most desirable level for maximum ATM efficiency. However, if you drive anything else — like a regular car with nice mileage — then you have to reach up at an awkward position and, risking an injury that could guarantee job security for a physical therapist for the next six months, touch the screen as best you can.

In this case, her choice was between the personal savings account and a tax escrow account attached to our checking account for real estate taxes. Also, she doesn’t drive an SUV, and thus was forced to do the underhand lay up instead of the nice relaxing side arm swing. You can guess what happened: the money came out of the wrong account. So this year the real estate tax man will get an IOU. No problem! We’re good for it! Strike two!

Strike three came very quickly, when she realized it was after five o’clock and there was no one inside the bank who could rectify the situation. There followed a quick series of oaths about bankers hours, and she came home where she recounted the trials and tribulations of the ATM menace to me.

After hearing her story, I quickly concluded that the cosmos had it in for her. I want to make this perfectly clear: my idea is not a rational concept based on thoughtful common sense and logic. It doesn’t even qualify as scientific theory. This is pure paranoid conspiracy theory. I suggested that this day, Monday, May 18, 2009 was “Screw with Anne Marie Gunther Day!”

It is a special day not marked on any calendar, and not the subject of a wide range of greeting cards from Hallmark. It is a day noted, obviously, by all of the electronic devices in the world, e.g., computers, modems, telephone lines, and, most importantly, automatic teller machines! I will state again that my conclusion is not based on clear logic, but rather irrational paranoia about the eternal struggle of man versus machine.

(Now don’t scoff at the idea of irrational paranoia. For a good reference on this subject, please google “Bush Administration”.)

In any event, the day has passed for this year, and if you missed your chance to screw with Anne Marie Gunther, then that’s just too bad. You’ll just have to wait until next year. In the meantime, you yourself may experience your own special day where you get screwed by circumstances beyond your control. Unfortunately, you’ll never know what day it is until it happens. Then you too can experience the wonderful joy of smacking yourself in the head and declaring, “My God! I can’t believe the rotten luck I’m having in my life today! This must be “Screw with (your name here) day!”

If this happens, then just relax and persevere. Then be grateful it only happens once a year...or once a month...or once a week...or...

Friday, May 15, 2009

British Bras and American Gas

Of all the news items to capture America’s attention from a foreign source last week was the threat to the price of bras in Great Britain. Yes, we are still fighting a front war in mid-Asia. Yes, we are still struggling with economic recession, bankruptcies, and home foreclosures here in the States. Yet all of that was placed on America’s back burner of its attention span to read about the rising prices of women’s underwear across the pond.

The controversy started when a clothing retailer announced it will charge very buxom British women a surcharge on top of the purchase price of a brassiere. They reasoned that it takes more material to manufacture a bra for larger women than for smaller females. Thus, they felt the extra charge was justifiable.

At least one journalist (a female, naturally) railed against this discrimination, and the outrage caught on with the public like wildfire. After a few weeks, the retailer backed down. Thank dog! The retail world is safe once again for women of all chest sizes, thanks in part to a public outcry.

Similar thinking got the American airline industry to start charging obese passengers for two seats on their flights. The domestic media outlets noted this ticketing change when it was announced several months ago. There were some objections raised on the editorial pages of American newspapers, but otherwise the anger abated. As far as I know, this pricing policy has not changed and airline passengers seem to be taking this discrimination in stride. Personally, it just reinforced my vow never to fly anywhere. If a train can’t take me where I want to go, then I’ll just stay home.

More recently, Americans are seeing the run up of gasoline prices. This has become an annual event. It’s the traditional start of the summer season — Memorial Day weekend — and suddenly oil companies see gold! The prices go up very gradually, so gradually that they believe the consumer doesn’t realize what’s going on. Fortunately the average American is not that dumb. All right, granted we elected George W. Bush to high office twice, but we’re not so dumb that we don’t know greed when we see it.

Many of us will fight back by cutting back on our consumption. We’ll take fewer trips, and the prices will go up. Many will start taking mass transit again, and the prices will still go up. Fewer trips during the summer could hurt the tourism industry, which will mean lower demand for jobs in hospitality. This could translate to more people staying home since they don’t have jobs to go to, which will mean even less consumption...but all of that won’t matter. The price of gasoline will go up even more, mocking the laws of supply and demand.

Unlike the backlash against the cost of British bras, Americans have gotten used to this outrage. This year, we seem to be shrugging our collective shoulders as we fill our gas guzzling vehicles. So far, I have not heard any cries of indignation from the media and no calls for Congressional investigations over gasoline prices.

Perhaps it’s too early for all that, and people are just grateful that the price hasn’t hit $4.00 per gallon like last year. We’re still grumbling when we fill up, but the piss and vinegar from last year has disappeared. Have we matured enough to realize that all of the hand-wringing and whining didn’t do any good? I doubt that. After all, summer has barely begun...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Texas Shooters

A native Texan once told me that if you ever shoot anyone standing on your porch, drag them inside your door. This way you can claim to the authorities that you were defending your life and property. I don’t recall the circumstances as to why this idea came up in conversation. I also don’t know how to classify the concept. Is it conventional wisdom, urban superstition, or someone’s twisted idea of common sense? In any event, I was reminded of it when I read about a shooting incident in the great state of Texas.

It happened last week when a couple shot at four people who they believed were trespassing on their property. The people were off-roading when they stopped to allow the two children in the group a chance to use the bathroom. It has since been determined that the “trespassers” were not on the couple’s property at all. So far, one of the victims, a seven year-old boy, has since died of his wounds.

Authorities are holding the couple for aggravated assault and possibly manslaughter by the time this blog is published.

The couple faces a tough legal battle, because I doubt that they could use the above scenario as their defense. It’s not like there are any witnesses who overheard the couple say, “Hey, Pa! That one’s still moving. Better give them another shot!” No, the troublesome point of their defense will be a sign on their property.

The sign reads, as quoted in The Houston Chronicle: “Trespassers will be shot. Survivors will be reshot!! Smile I will.”

Talk about a tough neighborhood...

First of all, this sign reflects so much of what is thought to be a typical Texas attitude. Many of us have encountered this passionate chauvinism for everything that is Texas. It is an attitude that is proud, boastful, and ready to fight anyone who disputes them. Hell, this is the state that gave us two Presidents who got us into wars which everyone later agreed were very bad ideas!

Bearing this in mind, this couple may have a loophole to get them off scot free. No, I’m not talking about the Second Amendment with its “they’ll-have-to-pry-my-gun-from-my-cold-dead-fingers" NRA propaganda. No, I think the couple could claim that they are not the actual owners of the property where the incident took place. They could just point at the language on the sign and declare, “Look, no one talks like that, ‘Smile, I will’. No one except the actual owner, and he’s a little green man.”

Yes, now we know what happened to Yoda since the Star Wars franchise was put to bed. He retired to Texas, where he’s either gotten very paranoid or vindictive as all hell. Perhaps he scans the Lone Star skies for signs that the Empire has finally found him. Or maybe he fears a cadre of English teachers will hunt him down for talking weird. Either way, it appears that he has totally embraced the stereo-typical Texan attitude of fierce pride and loyalty for the state.

So, we shall see how this all plays out. The couple could either face life in prison or lethal injection. They could also go free a la Bernhard Goetz. I’m sure a good lawyer - sorry, a good Texas lawyer — will get them acquitted.

Friday, May 08, 2009

The 2009 Specter

Pennsylvania voters woke up one morning recently and found a new Senator sitting in their driveway. Actually, it wasn’t a totally new legislator, but rather one of the old ones with a new label. By old, I mean he’s used with a lot of miles under his belt. Of course, I am referring to Arlen Specter.

The senior Senator from Pennsylvania had come under increasing attack from the Republican Party since the last election due to his support of President Obama’s stimulus package. Then there were the polls that showed he didn’t have a white-tailed deer’s chance in hunting season of winning the Republican primary next year against the more conservative Pat Toomey. Specter finally put all the rumors to rest by proving them correct: he jumped from the GOP to the Democratic Party.

It’s nice to have him back with the Dems. Yes, he’s back, because he switched over to the Republican side many years ago when he ran for mayor of Philadelphia. That was quite a long time ago and apparently many in the party have forgiven him for that slight. Many high ranking Dems (including President Obama) have welcomed Specter with open arms.

Of course, it’s not a perfect marriage. Specter has made it clear that he will not vote along party lines, that he is serving the people of Pennsylvania. He is not, and never has been, beholden to any organized party of which he may be a member at any given moment. Obama is fine with this, but Specter needn’t have stated this fact. He already has a long independent voting record.

As stated, he supported the President’s stimulus package, but voted against the Democratic favored union check card legislation. He has long been a friend of Amtrak when his Republican colleagues were content to let it die. Then there is the single bullet theory...on second thought, let’s just let this one fade away. This is no time to open old wounds. It is a time for reconciliation and celebration.

Oddly, I feel bad for the Republicans. If Spector were in sports and not politics, then the Democrats could offer them some sort of compensation. Perhaps another retired pitcher for Kentucky...oh, wait, they already have one of those. Well, looking over the field...hmmm. At the moment we can offer the GOP Bill Clinton (yeah, like they really want him in their ranks), and an intern with the Keith Olberman show to be named at a later date. Sorry, but I’m afraid that’s the best we can do right now.

Unfortunately, he won’t have an easy time with his new party. Majority Leader Harry Reid promised Specter that he could keep his senior positions on the Senate committees when he jumped parties. Reid spoke too soon because the Democratic Caucus nixed that idea. Specter will have to work his way up to those senior positions again, at the tender age of 79!

That’s the spirit! The hell with all those years of experience in the well! Make the old man work like he's a freshman! Oh well, this political cycle just got more interesting. Let’s hope that these people we’ve elected to rule over us will eventually fix our economy once they get done jumping parties.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009



The good news is that the government has 50 million doses of antibiotic stockpiled to battle this pandemic. The bad news: there are 330 million Americans living in this country. Do the math! Any way you look at it, 280 million of us are screwed. Why is it called swine flu when it is an airborne illness not related to pigs, pork, or pork byproducts, or the handling, cooking, or digesting of pork and pork byproducts? Good question. I believe we call it swine flu because it is easier to say than the cryptic H1N1, which resembles a password for a computer program or an incorrect vanity plate for a motor vehicle licensed in the state of New Hampshire.

At this point in the crisis, it is best to heed the President’s message of caution and optimism. During his news conference last week, he took time to enumerate a number of common sense rules in dealing with this problem. To summarize his points: wash your hands often; stay home if you are sick; cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze; avoid touching your mouth, nose or eyes; avoid traveling in closed spaces like airliners or train cars with Vice President Biden; and avoid giving a 10 year old an AK-47 for his birthday.

All right, those last two points are off subject, but they are important ideas to consider.


The Supreme Court Justice who shocked his conservative supporters with his moderate voting record is stepping down. He announced his retirement despite the fact that he is a youngster (nearly 70) in comparison to the other justices still serving on the bench. Reports state that he does not socialize in Washington and is considered a loner.

Lived there, done that, I feel his pain...

Souter’s retirement should not have come as total surprise. After all, there are signs that it’s time for him to leave. Signs like the Capitol Hill Burger King is refusing to stamp his Supreme Court Whopper Discount card anymore. Also, his colleague, Supreme Court Justice Antonin “Leadfoot” Scalia, hasn’t invited him out for the midnight Saturday drag races on Shirley Highway in ages. He may also be growing tired of being addressed as “young man” by the other justices like he’s some sort of law clerk fresh from passing his bar exam.

Good luck, Justice Souter. Here’s hoping you have a long, happy retirement in New Hampshire!


Today is Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican holiday, which will be treated like St Patrick’s Day and Columbus Day by most people. In other words, another ethnic-centered holiday which is revered by the members of that ethnicity, but treated as an excuse to get sloppy drunk by everyone else. There is something very wrong in degrading the holiday in this way, but unfortunately most participants will be too soused on tequila to care.

It is also my niece’s birthday, and the anniversary when our blog mascot, Steven, came to live with us. It was three years ago today that we brought him home from Kitty Cottage. He has adjusted well and is a very loving companion to his older sister, Meredith. He’ll probably celebrate the occasion with a plate of catnip, but no tequila.

Happy 21st Birthday, Sarah!

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Suggestions for the Second Hundred Days

Now that Barack Obama’s first 100 days in office have passed, many will be analyzing his accomplishments during this time period. We can say this much now: Obama has certainly put forth an ambitious agenda and reversed many of the previous administration's directives. No issues have been resolved yet, but we should realize that the problems facing our country will need more time to be overcome.

So, what about the next 100 days? Perhaps the President will want to step back, take a breather, and try to tackle issues much closer to home. Herewith, I humbly submit my suggestions for Barack Obama’s next hundred days in office.

1. Get more photo ops working in the White House vegetable garden. Why should the First Lady get all the glory in this department?

2. Teach Bo not to bark so loud whenever the White House phone rings at 3:00 in the morning.

3. Send another warning to the Secretary of State about her prank phone calls to the White House at 3:00 in the morning.

4. Teach Bo that it is not a good idea to have the military take him on Air Force One for a low ride over Manhattan just so he can inspect the trees in Central Park.

5. Offer an olive branch to the grand, imperial, omniscient, all-wise, deity Rush Limbaugh.

6. Teach Bo not to piddle on Arlen Specter’s shoes. After all, he is a Democrat now.

7. On second thought, disregard suggestion #5. Limbaugh is just an entertainer.

8. Train Bo to understand simple commands like, “Bo! See Dick Cheney? Piddle, Bo, piddle!”

9. Send a coin to the Minnesota Supreme Court so they can use it to decide the Franken/Coleman Senate race.