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

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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Snort Bites – October 2012

When I started this blog, I would occasionally happen upon a subject or two worthy of satirical commentary, but not enough commentary to justify my minimum goal of 7-11 paragraphs. This I would incorporate with a few other subjects into one entry: Short Notes was born. A few months and a typographical error later, this bit became known as Snort Notes. Now we tweak it, evolve the concept further, and rename this Snort Bites, as it is little bites of humor (I hope) which will elicit not full scale guffaws, but at the very least (again I hope) some semblance of a laugh-induced reaction.

Let’s proceed.


In her latest attempt to maintain her relevancy in today’s American political scene, Palin joined the chorus of conservative critics about Obama’s handling of the Benghazi embassy attack. Palin’s use of the phrase shuck and jive, which is universally thought of as a derogatory remark against African-Americans — well universally thought of by everyone on the planet except Sarah Palin — brought on a backlash from just about everyone else in the universe. The divine Ms. Palin defended her use of the phrase and used the moment to take the opportunity to decry the media’s use of the words igloo, Eskimo pie, and the phrase when hell freezes over as culturally insensitive to her extended native Alaskan family.

So let’s consider her requests one by one.

Igloo – okay, we can live with that, although I believe that igloo is the term most commonly used and accepted for this type of shelter in the Inuit culture. However, Ms. Palin, if you insist on being offended by the word igloo, we must ask you to refrain from using words like Cape Cod, Colonial, rancher, log cabin, row house, townhouse, condominium and/or apartment when referring to any domicile we use here in the lower 48. Fair is fair! Your request begs the question: so what should we call a shelter where members of the Inuit and Yupik people live? Any suggestions, Ms. Palin?

Eskimo Pie – a trademarked brand name of a popular ice cream confection. Right, good luck with that one, Ms. Palin!

When hell freezes over — has nothing to do with indigenous peoples of the state of Alaska. Request denied!

Moving on to a nearly Palin related item…


The bride-to-be is not Sarah’s daughter, Bristol, a fact which I’m sure is making the rest of the Palin clan breathe a sigh of relief that they narrowly escaped being related to human train wreck Levi Johnston. For his part, Levi is doing the right thing by marrying the woman who is the mother of his daughter, Breeze Beretta.

Breeze Beretta is an interesting name, combining a common weather event with the name of a 70s television crime drama…oh, wait a minute, my editor just informed me that the middle name is not derived from the 70s crime drama, but rather from the gun named Beretta.

Okay, this is no longer interesting. It’s just plain weird!

Not that I want to intentionally cast aspersions on any native Alaskan cultures (and if I did, I would say igloo-Eskimo Pie-when hell freezes over), but I must raise this point: what are you people thinking when you name your children? Is there something in the Alaskan waters that drives this propensity for names that are downright oddball? 
Let’s look at the record; Track, Willow, Trig…and that’s just within one family! Why can’t you name your children using good old American names like Shaquilla, D’Nesha, or Limoncello?

Here is where I would wish the newly married couple well in their new found happiness, but unfortunately I really don’t care…


Trump made his offer in a cheap, last ditch effort to prove his theory that Barack Obama is not an American since both of these documents will show Obama’s true place of birth. Not surprisingly, the Obama administration is ignoring the request.

Really, Donald? This is your idea of an October surprise? Is this the best you can do to maintain YOUR relevance in the American political scene? Didn’t you get the memo that the Barack Obama birther boat sailed a long time ago and it’s never coming back?

Oh well, 19th century America had P.T. Barnum while we have Donald Trump. Of course, there is one difference between the two: Barnum was entertaining! On the other hand, Trump could be dismissed as an annoying massive ego with a bad hair job. Where would we be without The Donald?

Time and space does not and will never allow me the opportunity to fully answer that question! Now there’s a subject begging for a master’s thesis if there ever was one.


That is if the hell and high water from Hurricane Sandy doesn’t wipe us out first…

(Thank you for reading! How about ice block hut? Does that work for you, Ms. Palin?)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

It’s Over…Almost!

Thank you, Jesus! There is a god! The 2012 Debates: The Mini-Series is over!

It is time to reflect back on the highs and lows of the climatic performances by our candidates.


Republican Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney came out swinging, scoring a TKO and nearly pummeling moderator Jim Lehrer in the process. Even Big Bird got roughed up. President Obama avoided eye contact with his rival for much of the debate, to the point that he appeared to doze off at times. Even he admitted he had an off night.

Throughout it all Romney, the extreme right wing conservative from the primary debate era, gave way to Romney, the middle-of-the-road Republican. Even Bill Clinton was amazed!  No one could tell if this new phantom conservative was the real deal, or just another case of political expedient flip-flopping.

Yet, this seemed to go unnoticed as everyone dwelled on Obama’s performance. Liberals scratched their heads for days wondering what happened to their leader. After awhile, we learned to look forward to the future debates, and pretend like this first debate never really happened. Sometimes denial is a prudent way to go.


Two devout Roman Catholics, both up for vice president, took their turns at the debate table. Joe Biden, the scrappy fighter from Scranton, reacted with vigor at most things his rival Paul Ryan said. Biden rolled his eyes, gestured dramatically with a flourish, laughed, scoffed, and all but horked up a hairball on Ryan. Okay, so Biden might have come off as a borderline psychotic, but hey, this was authentic Joe!

Biden admitted his faith was strong, but drew the line at imposing his beliefs on others. Ryan, on the other hand, all but confirmed the fears that people had about John F. Kennedy. On social issues, Ryan appeared to admit that he would take orders from the Vatican. I realize the fears are groundless, but it still matters to many people. 

Witness the Christian evangelicals reluctance to support Romney due to his Mormon faith. Witness also the conservative right who can’t make up their minds to denounce Barack Obama as a Muslim (because of his middle name) or a radical Christian (because he attended services in Chicago presided over by Rev. Jeremiah Wright). Faith can be a moral guide, but it can also be divisive.


The President showed up this time, reaffirming that he is more at ease at a town hall debate format. His eye contact and body language were greatly improved over the first debate (which we now officially declare never happened at all). This gave Romney more than enough room to make a few gaffes. Both candidates talked over the other, and at times the exchanges got a little testy.

The most memorable moment happened with Romney’s criticism of Obama’s timing of the phrase “act of terror” while talking about the embassy attack in Benghazi. This prompted a real time fact check from moderator Candy Crowley, who corrected Romney’s assertion that Obama did use the words one day after the attack, although Obama’s phrasing made it sound like he was not specifically referring to THIS attack as an act of terror.

Conservatives groused that Crowley overstepped her bounds; one pundit (from Fox News, natch) proclaimed that moderators should be nothing more than pieces of furniture. My, talk about extreme views! I would think that moderators should be more engaged than say, an empty chair (are you taking notes, Mr. Eastwood?). Sometimes moderators need to keep the proceedings moving, but we should allow them the right to step in and tell the combatants to go to their neutral corners when the debate is on the verge of devolving into fisticuffs.

So, kudos to Crowley for keeping the second presidential debate bloodless.


Finally, the fourth debate transpired in the land of sunshine, orange groves, Cuban refugees and their descendents, and of course, very, very old people. Once again, Obama seemed to be on top of his game, while Romney whined that Obama’s criticisms of Romney’s position (some of them in a perpetual state of flux) were just personal attacks.

Defense spending was a delicate subject for the combatants. Romney vowed to increase spending for defense, explaining at one point that our Navy has fewer ships now than it did in 1916. Obama countered with a delightfully condescending explanation that America also has less bayonets and horses now than we did in 1916. He also explained that we have ships that go underwater called nuclear submarines to further clarify that America’s defense needs have changed in the last 100 years. Obama could have really emphasized his point if he had raised his fingers as quotation marks around the words “nuclear submarine”, much like Mike Myers used the gesture when his character Dr. Evil used the word “laser” in the Austin Powers films. 

Ah, but that might have been bad form, or even un-presidential. It would definitely have been over the top, as in Joe Biden-over-the-top. The vice president definitely would have gotten away with the “quotation mark finger gesture.”

Other than this incident, the debate on how each would manage America’s foreign policy was rather devoid of controversy. Surprisingly, Romney agreed with Obama most of the time on the president’s foreign policy decisions. If this is really true, and not another example of Romney flip-flopping around, then why should we, the American people, hire someone else to lead the country? Why shouldn’t we just rehire Obama?

Again, I believe it is time to rejoice that the debates are over! Soon the American voters will have their say. Regardless of the outcome - whether we wake up on November 7 and know who will lead us for the next four years, or if there will be another protracted legal battle up to the Supreme Court in our future - rest assured the republic will survive. Of course, our chances of survival would be better if everyone had a bayonet…

(Thank you for reading. Kudos to everyone for surviving this campaign!)

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Binder Sex

Hey, everyone, wait up! I’m running as fast as I can! I want to jump on the “Mitt Romney ‘Binders Full of Women’ Gaffe Bandwagon” before this news cycle ends! So please, wait up!

It’s amazing what we all learned this week from the second Presidential debate! For those of you who didn’t stay up, a woman asked the candidates what they would do about pay inequity between men and women, or that old issue where men get paid more than women even though both prospective job candidates have the same qualifications.

When this was a major plank in the ERA movement (way back in the 70s), women were estimated to be making 49 cents for every dollar a man earned. Now, allegedly, women are making 72 cents for every man-earned dollar. This means that either a) a women’s value in the workplace has increased by 23 cents or b) the whole argument has been adjusted for inflation! (I know, that was a cheap shot!) Either way, many women (and many progressive thinking blog writers like moi) still believe that a problem exists.

Obama could rightly claim that he signed the Lily Ledbetter Act, which evened the playing field for women seeking justice about unequal wages, and he did so in answering this woman’s question. Romney launched into a long reminisce about his first days as governor when he noticed not many women were applying for jobs in his cabinet, and how he directed his aides to seek out qualified females to diversify his choices, and how they reached out to many groups to get the names of qualified women, and how the Romney folks were given lists so large that they had to be put into 3-ring binders (at least that’s we believe Romney meant to say), and how - and this is the important part - he managed to come NOWHERE NEAR ANSWERING THE GODDAMN QUESTION!

Instead, he gave us liberals a beautiful gaffe: how he was given “binders full of women” to peruse in his search for qualified female job applicants.  Is this similar to a bucketful of broads (a favorite of the original Rat Pack, or so my friends tell me), or perhaps a cache chock full of chicks?

I never realized that women came wrapped in binders! I always believed that females were to be treated with courtesy and in every way we would like to be treated as human beings! Now I find out differently from Romney! Treating women like human beings? What the hell was I thinking?

(EDITOR'S NOTE:  Watch it, bub!)

Imagine, I could have had all the women I ever wanted if I only had known to go to my local office supply store and ask the clerk, “Hey, I would like a binder full of women, please…to go!” Imagine, all those years subscribing to Playboy wasted! Who needs photographs when you can get the real thing at Staples (insert trademark thingy here)?

Oooooh, I wonder if the binders have an assortment of women in each folder? Of course, there has to be one of each: long-legged blonde, long-legged brunette, long-legged redhead, different nationalities like Italian or French, ethnicities like Hispanic or Asian…

Oooooh, that reminds me: where are these binders assembled? Here in the good ole USA (yeah, fat chance) or (more likely) China? And if they are assembled in China, who will vouch for their quality? I mean, who’s to say that one day on the assembly line - inside one of those company towns that sleep ten workers to a room, encased in barbed wire topped fencing to prevent unemployed workers from breaking in (yeah, right) - that one of those workers doesn’t jump inside one of the binders, wrap themselves in cellophane, and escape beyond the Chinese border?  

Oooooh, and how are the contents attached? The traditional binder comes with three (usually metal) rings which can be separated so that papers can be fastened inside when the rings are inserted through a pre-punched hole and closed shut. Some have wondered if women fastened in such a way would feel any pain if a metal ring is poked through one of their limbs so they can be transported safely from the point of manufacture to the point of purchase. The answer is “Yes, of course it hurts!” Did you ever have a metal ring pinched through your muscle and bone? Not a very pretty feeling, isn’t it?

However, we could console ourselves with the fact that women can endure great amounts of pain. After all, they do withstand the rigors of childbirth, right? And they do, more often than men, pierce different body parts for decoration. They pierce ears, noses, lips, tongues, belly buttons and other parts further south! Surely there is some pain associated with these adornments.  

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Not to mention the great amount of pain putting up with men! But please continue, arteejee!)

Again, I say, “Oooooh, oooooh, oooooh” at the thought of purchasing readily accessible pulchritude that I can carry around anywhere! 

Yes, this weekend I shall do it! I shall enter into an office supply store and order binders full of women! Lots of binders with lots of women in each! I can hardly wait….

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Fear not, blogisphere! Arteejee will not set foot inside any retail establishment this weekend, because Arteejee will be getting a serious time out!)

(Thank you for reading. Any resemblance between this work of satire and actual chauvinistic ideals are purely coincidental. In other words, “I’m just kidding, ladies!”)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Straightus Answerus Delirium

I have had an epiphany! In the days since the vice presidential debate (where Joe Biden smiled, smirked, and rolled his eyes countless times as he mopped the floor with conservative heart throb and water deprived Paul Ryan), I have discovered that bipartisanship does exist! I didn’t find it necessarily as the traditional definition of bipartisanship (i.e., a willingness to find common ground with others who possess a dissimilar point of view on the issues), but rather as an affliction common to politicians of all stripes.

Conservatives, liberals, Republicans, Democrats, it doesn’t matter. All politicians suffer from this malady: the inability to answer a question with the words yes or no. I sense what you might be thinking, namely, “Duh, Gunther!  Where the hell have you been?” Well, I’ve been here all along, but I believe I might be the first one to propose the idea that straightus answerus delirium (I named it myself; do you like it?) is not an accident of punditry, but rather an actual illness.

We observed two classic cases of the affliction during the vice presidential debate, although I fear that Ryan’s condition is worse, perhaps even terminal. Biden showed some signs of the malady, opting to parry and thrust Ryan’s unjustifiable assertions with full paragraph answers rather than a simple up or down yes or no answer. On Morning Joe the next morning, Mika Zbigniew asked a Democratic member of the House a simple question which could have been answered with yes or no; the Congressman couldn’t do it. This proves that this is truly a bipartisan sickness.

Herewith is an example of a question that can be answered with one word: “Do you support a woman’s right to choose with regards to the medical procedure known as abortion?” Possible answers could be, “Yes, in all circumstances;” “Yes, but only in cases of rape, incest or when the mother’s life is in danger;” or “No.” 

Instead, voters usually get the following: “Well, here is where I disagree with my esteemed Congressional colleague and good friend, who I will now nonetheless eviscerate his position on this vital issue and publicly display his innards for all the media to see. My position has always been the same no matter what the circumstances of the political winds blowing at any particular time. My position, while not always popular, is nonetheless an opinion that is consistent with my personal viewpoint, rooted in my deep sense of justice, Sunday school morality, and blah, blah, blah…” At this point, the debate moderator diplomatically states that the time for his answer is up and they must move on to the next question. What we, the viewing electorate, would like the moderator do is tell them what we are thinking at that moment, namely, “JESUS CHRIST! ANSWER THE F-ING QUESTION WITH A YES OR NO ALREADY!!!!!” Unfortunately, debate decorum prohibits such outbursts.  

And besides Fox and Friends would never allow the moderator to hear the end of it!

Let’s pursue Romney’s position history on the abortion issue. At one point, he said he would allow abortion in cases of rape and incest, or at least I THINK he did. Naturally, his campaign would issue a statement usually within a couple of hours with a new statement clarifying that the candidate didn’t mean this at all. More recently, he has said that there would be no laws passed in a Romney administration which would restrict abortion. Right; unfortunately, your running mate feels very passionately about this issue and do you really think he will sit idly by and let Roe v. Wade survive as the law of the land any longer than it has to?  

If Romney were truly honest with everyone, he could say that his stance on abortion allows for rape and incest, but this view is only valid on Tuesdays, Thursdays and every other Sunday. Of course, he’ll never do this; this schedule would lock him into a time frame that would not allow him to shake his Etch-A-Sketch more often. Romney, like all other political candidates, is unable to answer questions with a yes or no, and mean it.

Yes, I know, Biden didn’t offer many simple one word answers either during his debate. The vice president’s performance might have been boorish, but they were authentic. His reactions to Ryan’s assertions were genuine, and not hidden behind a mask of diplomatic decorum. Naturally, the pundits were divided in their verdicts. Liberal commentators declared Biden the winner; conservatives couldn’t bring themselves to declaring him or Ryan a winner, so they termed it a draw.

(I must go off subject briefly to note Fox commentator Charles Krauthammer’s observation about Biden’s performance. Krauthammer pronounced that Biden was “so disrespectful” to Ryan. Ah, it’s truly a day worth living in liberal America knowing that Charles Krauthammer has his knickers twisted up in a wad. Rage on, Krauthammer, rage on!)

So, now that we have identified the ailment, should we now search for a cure? Should we devote millions of research dollars and resources to cure our leaders? Should we always insist that they answer yes or no to every question we ask?

Research for a cure would probably be a waste of time. Believe it or not, politicians may be doing us a public service with their Shakespearean length soliloquies on every question we ask them. They demonstrate to us that not all problems are resolvable with black and white solutions. Our problems are a complex collage of shades of gray morals and attitudes. There is no absolute right or wrong answer for a society that is composed of so many cultural differences.  

Yes, we should continue to insist that our leaders give us the simplest answer possible, but we shouldn’t act so shocked when we don’t get a pat response. Besides, their answers have created a wonderful cottage industry within the 24/7 news cycle of media members who endlessly grouse about not getting a straight answer, and then just as endlessly speculate on what the politician actually meant by their answer.

If the pundits didn’t have these discussions, then with what would they fill our airwaves? Discussions about Lindsay Lohan’s driving follies? Paul Ryan’s insatiable thirst for water? Or whether or not someone should muzzle Vice President Joe Biden?

Straightus answerus delirium may be incurable, but - like it or not - it does enrich our political discourse.

(Thank you for reading. Another glass of water, Congressman Ryan?)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Exploiting the Bird

Mitt Romney’s mentioning Big Bird at the first debate last week had repercussions far beyond his intended (and bungled message) of prioritizing federal spending. It sent the CEO of PBS into apoplexy. It gave Barack Obama a few talking points on the campaign trail last weekend, which he didn’t really need to do. He could have just as well said, “Hey, how about those job numbers on Friday?”

Yet Obama, like the late night talk show hosts, couldn’t resist doing tongue-in-cheek references to the most recognizable symbol of American public broadcasting. The campaign doubled down on the sarcasm potential of the issue by producing and broadcasting an Obama campaign ad noting Romney’s support of Wall Street (with its attendant darker elements personified by the likes of Bernie Madoff) and his disavowal of Sesame Street. Yes, I could appreciate the sarcastic touch of humor in the spot, but I also got the uncomfortable feeling that the whole production bordered on silly.

The backlash spilled over into this week. There was another bout of apoplexy from PBS, accompanied with a strong rebuke to both campaigns to leave Big Bird (an apolitical animal, as it turns out) alone. They reiterated that their fluffy mascot was not to be used to further any candidate’s political aspirations.   

Furthermore, they requested that the Obama campaign withdraw the ad. Last reports stated that the Obama people were reviewing this request.

The Sesame Street production company does have a point; Big Bird should not show a political preference to anyone. However, there is no denying the fact that he is a symbol of education. So, with apologies to PBS (take a sedative, people) let’s bring the big yellow one out for one more round of exploitation. The idea that Romney would cut funding for PBS seems to be in line with the overall GOP attitude towards education.

Consider these ideas: a Romney-Ryan administration would slash Pell Grants, which affords thousands of young Americans the opportunity to attend college year after year. Couple this with Romney’s earlier statement that children should borrow money from their parents to attend institutions of higher learning. This is just at the federal level. 

The same attitudes are replicated at the state level. Governor Corbett’s kowtowing to Grover Norquist’s no tax pledge is slashing many programs, including education in the state of Pennsylvania. Thousands of Pennsylvania residents may be denied the chance to attend college and, by extension, the opportunities that a higher degree can bring when they enter the job market. On the other hand, as one social advocacy group has noted, Corbett is going ahead with projects to expand Pennsylvania prisons at a time when the need for more prison space is not evident. It is as if he is acknowledging where the people denied educational opportunities will likely end up, so we might as well prepare ourselves with more prison beds now than wait until later.

So, all these things considered on the subject of education (in my decidedly liberal judgment), the GOP seems to be against it.

An analysis by the national reform organization Education Trust showed that Paul Ryan’s budget would slash $170 billion from Pell Grants over the next 10 years. The result, according to The Huffington Post article published in March, would affect more than one million young, poor students' ability to attend college. Is there any reason to believe that a Romney administration will not endorse this idea put forth by his chosen running mate?

Romney’s suggestion that young people should borrow the cost of college from their parents is a classic example of easier said than done. Several generations of Americans have depended on financial aid in the form of loans, work study grants, and scholarships for education opportunities beyond high school. Indeed, the completion and submission of grant applications has become a rite of passage for many American parents during the last 40 years. I dare say that the last American parent who could afford to loan his progeny money for school went by the name of Romney, as in George Romney.

In this respect, we can easily see why Big Bird has been picked on by both sides in the last week. He is a symbol, not so much of higher education, but a symbol of education that begins at an early age. He lays a foundation that takes root in the psyche of young Americans, and is in turn built upon in the public and private education systems of our country. The knowledge gained in these venues - whether televised or live in a classroom with a flesh and blood human teacher - affords all of us the opportunity to become productive and prosperous.  

The current conservative attitudes towards education at the federal and state levels pose a serious threat to our future capability of challenging the global economy and regaining our footing in the international job markets. We won’t be able to take back the jobs we lost to China and India with nothing more than a high school education. Conservatives should see that their thinking goes against their argument for increased opportunities. It should be pointed out to them that such ideas are unamerican.

(Thank you for reading. Please, Big Bird, show them the way.)