A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.
- Name: todd gunther
- Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States
Saturday, June 30, 2012
No one believed it would happen, but it did. The entire Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) was ruled constitutional in a narrow (5-4) decision by the Supreme Court. No one believed it would happen — outside of the Obama administration, who many have wondered may have become completely delusional anyway — because the major news organizations spent the last three months priming the American people for the dramatic conclusion to the Supreme Court’s session. And what could be more dramatic than witnessing the president’s signature accomplishment going down in flames?
The early reports by CNN and Fox — acting as if from a pre-conceived script — reported that affordable health care was unconstitutional. Producers for these two organizations leapt on an early sentence in Chief Justice Roberts’ opinion that doubted the individual mandate met the definition of the commerce clause.
Ah, there it is, they said, the centerpiece of Obamacare is defeated!
Conservatives cheered; one Republican representative (Jean Schmidt – OH) was videotaped having an orgasmic-like reaction to the thought that millions of Americans would not have access to affordable health care.
There was one small problem: the producers forgot to turn the page.
Meanwhile, in real time, inside the Supreme Court chamber Justice Roberts was not finished reading his opinion. For those who stayed until the end — and we all know those types who stay until all of the credits roll by at the end of the film before they even think about getting out of their seats while their fellow theater goers are already leaving the multiplex parking lot — were rewarded. They got the full story.
Ah, Obamacare survived! It not only survived, but with an incredible plot twist which had the conservative Chief Justice Roberts, who was elevated to his position by a Republican president, voting with the liberal wing of the court. No one saw this coming. No one, especially the talking heads at CNN and Fox. Having completed their rendition of Harry S. Truman holding aloft a premature newspaper headline, “Dewey Defeats Truman,” CNN and Fox news producers had to back pedal, real fast!
The fact that CNN jumped into the media fire without looking first was shocking! But for Fox News, eh, business as usual. They might have thought, “Hey, we got away with jumping the gun in 2000 when we declared George W. Bush president. Maybe we’ll get lucky twice!” This time it was not meant to be.
The resulting reactions were not surprising. Obama did not gloat in his official statement issued from the White House shortly after noon, but just reiterated the high points of his healthcare law with a gentle admonition to Congress that it is time to move forward. His opponent in November, Mitt Romney, vowed to “repeal and replace” Romneycare, I mean Romneycare 2.0, I mean Obamacare.
Then, just as suddenly, liberals had a new hero in conservative in name only Chief Justice John Roberts. We, who have pre-existing conditions, salute you!
Or put another way: oh John, how do we love thee? Let us count the ways! Is it the debonair way you move through the chambers in your crisply pressed robe? Or is it the manly manner you swing your gavel to and fro when you hear Justice Thomas snoring again? Or could it be that authoritative tone of your voice as you object to something President Obama said during his State of the Union address?
I better stop this litany of judicial adoration before the good lady from Ohio has another orgasm!
Actually, this love fest won’t last long. Liberals are notoriously fickle. Oh, not as fickle as conservatives who were for the individual mandate before they were against it, but certainly we’ll turn against him shortly after the new Supreme Court session begins in October. Surely he’ll do something which will piss the liberals off, cheer the conservatives on, and suddenly the world will seem right again.
So another historic moment comes to pass in the blink of an eye! Many are happy, many others are depressed, but we’ll all have to live with this newfangled notion of doing something not for ourselves, but for the common good. For many, this will be uncharted territory indeed.
(Thank you for reading. DISCLAIMER: Arteejee has no proof that Justice Thomas sleeps on the bench, but seriously, has anyone checked his pulse lately?)
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Snort Notes – June 2012
ELECTION OF MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD CANDIDATE MOHAMMED MORSI AS EGYPT'S NEW PRESIDENT HAILED AS A STEP FORWARD FOR DEMOCRACY IN THE MIDEAST
Imagine that it was little over a year ago when Egyptians stood united in their opposition to the dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak. Now the citizens of Egypt are enjoying the fruits of their struggle for liberty, as they celebrate the conclusion of their first national election of a leader.
Democracy in Egypt! Isn’t it wonderful?
Ah, but what a year a difference a year makes! One year ago, Egyptians were united; now democracy has allowed political and cultural differences to rise up and divide them into bitter opposition. Also, the winning party may or may not be as progressive as first thought. The Muslim Brotherhood has made some overtures to reach out to the secular side of Egyptian society. Many outside observers are skeptical; they believe that the Muslim Brotherhood will turn Egypt into an Islamic autocracy with little tolerance for the rights of other groups such as women and Christians.
Democracy in Egypt! What the hell were we thinking?
The United States is so far being very respectful of the newly installed Egyptian government. The Obama administration has sent their congratulations and wished Morsi the best. Morsi will need all the good vibes he can get. He has a huge task ahead of him to unite the various factions of his countrymen, not least of which is the military that has ruled the country since Mubarak fell, and mocked the legitimacy of his victory by stalling the announcement of his election for nearly a week after the voting ended.
So, is there a reason to question the election results? Well, there may be one point that stands out in stark contrast to a typical national election in the biggest democracy in the world, namely the USA: length of the presidential campaign. In America, the campaign for president can last anywhere from 12 to 48 months. It’s true: pundits are already speculating who will run for president in 2016, and we still have five months to go for the 2012 election!
Meanwhile the Egyptians started and finished their campaign in two months. Two months! Imagine! In America, two months is hardly enough time for the League of Women Voters to schedule the debates between the candidates! Two months is barely enough time for one of the Koch Brothers checks to clear a superPAC bank account! Two months is just too fast!
So, we in the rest of the world can only wait and see what Egyptian democracy will bring.
SUMMER MOVIE SEASON PROMISES A VARIETY OF ENTERTAINMENT SELECTIONS, FROM ANIMATED ZOO ANIMALS CAVORTING IN EUROPE TO ICONIC AMERICAN LEADERS HUNTING VAMPIRES
Okay, maybe I should give the idea behind Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter a chance. Either it’s stroke of genius which could lead to a profitable film franchise (i.e., sequels), or further proof that the brown acid they warned us about at Woodstock is still available and still very potent. Where could this lead?
How about a series featuring FDR in a revival of the Ironside franchise (1970s Raymond Burr television series about a detective paralyzed by a gunshot and solving crime from his wheelchair)? Or what about JFK as a WWII-era PT boat commander by day, South Pacific zombie hunter by night? Or Ronald Reagan playing Jesus Christ, or would the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project insist that he be portrayed as someone who is bigger than Jesus Christ? The mind reels at the possibilities…or not.
MAN WITH 100 POUND SCROTUM REFUSES OFFER OF MILLION DOLLAR OPERATION WHICH WOULD ALLEVIATE HIS CONDITION IN EXCHANGE FOR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW RIGHTS WITH THE TELEVISION MEDICAL TALK SHOW HOST DR. OZ
Wesley Warren has a rare condition — scrotal gigantical, or something like that — which results in a huge gonad sac between his legs. Early reports stated that Warren turned down the offer because he liked the notoriety his growth gave him; Warren has since denied this as his reason for refusing the operation. He does fear dying during the procedure. Granted, a valid concern for a procedure that probably isn’t very common, but let’s consider his quality of life.
He can’t hold down a job; indeed, how does he get around? Can he even walk, or do any sort of movement at all to do the simplest of tasks? Then what about this notoriety that was hinted about on his case? It’s not like his situation is a chick magnet. Yes, it’s huge, but ladies (and a point that bears repeating) he can’t hold down a job!
Get it cut and improve your life, Mr. Warren.
And now from the silly to the serious…
RELUCTANT CIVIL RIGHTS FIGURE RODNEY KING DIES
The amateur video footage of Rodney King kneeling on the ground as LA cops savagely beat him became a world-wide sensation and a condemnation of American racism. At first, the video (edited by news organizations to heighten King’s victimization) seemed to portray a recalcitrant suspect not obeying orders from a group of police officers who allowed their adrenaline to take over their professionalism. Only later did inter-departmental recordings - in which one of the officers used the “n” word with impunity - cast the whole affair as racist in nature.
Let’s be fair: King was no angel, having multiple run-ins with the law, mostly for public drunkenness. Still, that was no excuse for the beating recorded on tape, or for the officer’s acquittal which led to race rioting that eventually killed 55 people. There was no excuse for any of this to happen.
In the midst of the tensions, King himself had the best solution to all of the mayhem when he said, “Can we all just get along?” Since then, King still had his troubles, but he began a journey of redemption complete with a high profile appearance on a celebrity rehab television show. His redemption was cut short by his death in his own swimming pool on June 17.
Still, his words should haunt all of us as we should strive to make the world around us more tolerant: “Can we all just get along?” From your lips to God’s ears, Rodney; rest in peace.
(Thank you for reading.)
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Affordable Healthcare
At some point this week or next, millions of Americans will learn if the state of their health is Constitutional. Oh sure, the Founding Fathers struggled to ensure “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, but the right to survive a life-threatening illness without losing your house to the local medical professions must have been overlooked. Perhaps that idea died in committee…
There have been so many nasty things said about Obamacare that I can’t figure out what is correct anymore. Some say it’ll be the beginning of a long slide down the slippery slope into Socialism. This argument ignores the fact that a form of socialized medicine has been in place since 1965. You may have heard of it: it’s called Medicare. Some even argue that Obamacare will need to be funded by cutting spending on Medicare. So let’s get this straight: Obama will cut socialized medicine to fund his socialized medicine plan which the naysayers say is bad?
Healthcare reform opponents scream, “It’s bad that it exists, it’s bad that it’s getting cut….it’s just bad all over." Yet how many TEA Partiers over the age of 65 are lining up to forsake those benefits. Not many….
Even Obama’s opponents admit that there are a few good things about Obamacare. Twenty-somethings understandably like the idea that they can stay on their parents’ policy until their 26, to give them time to get a job which will actually allow them to pay for their own coverage…or so the theory goes.
Sick people everywhere like the idea that insurance carriers will no longer be able to deny coverage due to a pre-existing condition. Just that idea alone - borne out of the experiences that Obama witnessed during his dying mother's final months of life - could mean the difference between meaningful healthcare and suffering for millions of us.
I say us because, as a heart patient, I could very easily be a candidate for denial for a pre-existing condition. Under the right conditions, such as a prolonged period of unemployment coupled with a lapse of health insurance coverage of at least six months, and any condition I develop during this time would be deemed not coverable by the insurance gods, also known as underwriters. And, if said condition worsens and becomes chronic which may require constant monitoring by healthcare professionals, then I will be responsible for the full cost.
Or I could just save a lot of time and money and just allow the condition to kill me. Many Americans may make that decision without a ban on pre-existing condition clauses in place.
Of course, I could delude myself into thinking that I will never be unemployed, but, alas, we should never say never. This is particularly true since I had a six month period of being occupationally challenged within the last two years, and (irony of ironies) I was released from the very industry which stands to benefit greatly from Obamacare, namely the health insurance industry.
Yes, I’ve lost count of how many nights I’ve laughed myself to sleep with this bit of irony…not!
Unfortunately, the idea of having a health insurance policy which has no dollar limits and allows those with pre-existing conditions to be insured (among other ideas that would give insurance executives apoplexy), requires a large base of healthy people paying money into a system which the law of health insurance underwriters averages dictates will very seldom need to have any claims paid. The health insurance industry would not survive for very long if they pay out more money in claims than they take in premiums. This necessitates the idea of requiring all Americans to have health insurance; please note not buy health insurance, but just to have health insurance. This part of the law would be enforced with a penalty levied by the IRS at tax return time.
No one seems to object to the amount of the penalty; I’ve heard the figure of $700 posed as an example of what the penalty would cost. Indeed, if the penalty is indeed just $700, many might opt not to purchase insurance if they don’t have coverage through their job. Premiums for a decent policy that might pay some claims within the space of a policy year (i.e., those with a low deductible) will most likely cost more per month than the total annual penalty itself. Naturally, this would put pressure on health insurers to price their products more modestly than now, but I’m not holding my breath waiting for that to happen.
Of course, the health insurance industry will make sure it survives no matter how the Supreme Court decides. They have already phased in the concept of “cost-sharing” which translated from health-insurance-speak means higher deductibles and higher coinsurance percentages for the insured. Likewise, the healthcare industry will do everything it can to improve its bottom line. Coders and billers are being trained and certified to bill services correctly for the legal, maximum benefits to which physicians and hospitals are entitled. In this respect, the healthcare and health insurance industries may find it prudent to add employees in anticipation of the millions of Americans who will be gaining health insurance, and subsequently have the wherewithal to receive medical treatment. Oh, but that means Obamacare will be creating jobs and not killing them. Yes, that does mean Obamacare will be creating jobs, and not killing them. (I wrote that phrase twice for the benefit of any of my readers who believe everything Fox News tells them to believe.)
So we await the decision of nine jurists who will determine if the lives of millions of Americans are worth saving for their own pursuits of liberty and happiness. No pressure, people. After all, it’s only the lives of people at stake….
(Thank you for reading. If you’re uninsured and you don’t believe in prayer, this might be a good time to change your beliefs.)
Sunday, June 17, 2012
I Survived a Dinner At Dick’s, Or The Long Mixed Weekend, Part Two
So, to recap the Adventures of Arteejee in Charm City, our long weekend in Baltimore was complicated by a dysfunctional rail system; a clueless Camden Yards attendant who seated us in the wrong seats in the wrong row in the wrong section (but nobody noticed or cared); and a major league team who for the last five seasons have reigned on top of their division but this year cannot play ball out of the division basement as if their multi-million dollar paychecks depended on it.
Once back at out hotel room, we gathered out wits, used the facilities, bitched about the travesty we just witnessed at Camden Yards, and discussed out dining options for the evening. We immediately ruled out the hotel dining room, since we figured we would be eating breakfast there. Anne Marie and I perused the hotel booklet of local eateries, and we decided on a few choices between us and the Power Plant at the Inner Harbor. We decided to make the four-block walk towards the Inner Harbor and if something caught our appetites, then we would stop. If not, we would walk on.
We glanced at the menu posted outside our first choice and decided that it was too chi-chi for our mood. We walked on past the World Trade Center, the Baltimore Aquarium, and finally arrived at the Power Plant, which at one time generated electrical power for the city but now generates tourist dollars for the local economy. The building houses at least six restaurants and a book store.
Our first choice here, a small local seafood chain renowned for its crab cakes, had a waiting time of 90 minutes. This would mean we might be eating our meal no earlier than 8:30; too late for our established meal schedule. If we eat too late, we don’t sleep well, and if we don’t sleep well then we run the risk of writing cranky blog entries about the failures of a certain national railroad to get us to another city on time for a baseball game where (natch) our team loses the game, which makes us even crankier.
We push on past the seafood chain, past the rock and roll peace and love chain, and decide to enter the world of Dick’s Last Resort (http://www.dickslastresort.com). How best to describe Dick’s? A good start is that it is a restaurant with ATTITUDE, and even capitalizing the word ATTITUDE is an understatement. The hostess advised (no, perhaps warned would be a better word) that they serve their customers with sarcasm. The tone is probably best captured with a sign posted at the bar which reads, “Sorry, we’re open.”
Indeed, the company logo - that of a grizzled, possibly middle-aged bartender scowling at you from his post, which you are led to believe is somewhere near a beach of an island thousands of miles from any of the world’s recognized continents - should be another clue as to what is in store the hapless diner. The beachside atmosphere is emphasized with fake palm trees, wait stations constructed to look like a desert isle outpost built from bamboo and palm leaves, and a floor littered with napkins, as if you and your fellow diners had brought them in from the beach on the bottom of your sandal-clad soles. Dick’s is not your typical greasy spoon diner. It’s a greasy everything diner! The ambience is definitely sloppy.
Once seated at your table, your waiter will come over, throw the appetizer and drink menu in your direction, and shout over the loud rock music what selections are being offered that day. You have to pay attention to what he says: there are no formal printed menus. Entrees are listed on chalkboards, but are not always available. If you dare to ask for something which he has already told you they are out of, be prepared to get your head slapped with the appetizer card.
Dick’s drinks, ranging from soft drinks to beer to tropical style cocktails, can be served in front of you, or at a neighboring table at the waiter’s convenience. The waiter will tell you where your drinks are, before he turns and walks away. Oh yes, he might also throw the straws you requested at you, and then walk away.
Our dining companions at the long table where we were seated - a single woman out on the town with her godmother - were alternately puzzled, bemused, and finally amused at the chaos around them. One of them voiced the idea that many places you may become victim of waitstaff inattention, where you go through extended periods during your meal without seeing your waiter. Here, though, you make actually fear that your waiter will return.
Alas, he does, and banters with each of us before he takes our orders. On my choice of wearing a Hawaiian shirt, he wanted to know what the hell I was doing wearing a Hawaiian shirt if I had never been to Hawaii. (My answer: Haband was offering a good price.) He also perceived that Anne Marie was not wearing a bra. She admitted to him, confidentially, that she hasn’t worn a bra since 1977. At this, our waiter made a beeline for his manager, and we soon learned that no secret is kept confidential at Dick’s Last Resort for very long.
Within moments a male voice announced over the restaurant intercom system, “Where’s the lady who hasn’t worn a bra since 1977?” Anne Marie obliged - perhaps too enthusiastically - by waving both arms in the air. Her public admission was greeted with cheers and applause from the other diners; although I was surprised that the restaurant didn’t shine a spotlight on her as well.
Management humiliates their customers further by writing crude, double-entendre style labels on sheets of paper which are then rolled up and fashioned into a hat, which is placed on the diner’s head. Anne Marie’s hat read, “Ex-pole dancer”. My hat had the words, “I’m the ex-pole”.
Our food - we opted for a variety of finger food style appetizers - arrived. The selections range from deep-fried snacks, to sandwiches, to entrees, none of which I would call Weight Watcher* friendly. We had wings, crab balls, and I had a bucket—an actual bucket—of cocktail shrimp. One of our dining companion's order unfortunately required the use of utensils. A few gentle reminders to our waiter that she needed utensils brought down the wrath of our waiter on her, “ALRIGHT, I’M GETTING IT!”
Open-minded individuals will get the joke behind the concept that is Dick’s Last Resort. The staff is not your usual young college people trying to make a few extra bucks, but rather performers who audition for a gig here. We told our companions that Dick's has a lot in common with Chicago’s 1950’s style diner, Ed Debevic’s (http://www.eddebevics.com).
I would not normally believe that after the day I had - broken down trains, broken down baseball team - that I should be treated to such abuse, and what’s more enjoy the same. Yet that’s what happened: I had a great time at Dick’s.
Still, even the management this night in Baltimore did act graciously to those of us who were openly displaying our loyalty to the visiting baseball team. At one point, they announced over the intercom that the influx of out-of-town baseball fans broke all of their previous sales records for a weekend. Now THAT was a display of class which I doubt you won’t see at Dick’s for a long time to come.
*Insert copyright/trademark symbol here.
(Thank you for reading. Janey, if you ever get the urge to earn extra bucks waiting tables again, you may want to apply at Dick’s! Just kidding! I know your waiting days are long behind you.
PS - Anne Marie, it’s been a week, dear. You can take your hat off now!)