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 30, 2006

The Immigrant’s Song

A key provision of the immigration bill passed by the House calls for anyone who helps illegal aliens entering the country to be charged with a felony. So far, cooler heads in the Senate have prevailed, but the provision is far from dead. Still, it got me thinking about the implications of the law if it passes. I keep asking myself, "Have they really thought this idea through?"

Let's say the bill passes as is and becomes law. So now, suddenly, smugglers, small business owners, farmers, and church groups all become public enemy number one. They are caught aiding illegal immigrants, prosecuted, and sent to prison. Where is the money to pay for the prosecutors and the prisons coming from that we will need to carry out this new law? Remember, ladies and gentlemen of Congress, you cut taxes like conservatives (but spend and borrow like liberals) giving us a huge deficit. Consequently, we won't have the resources to make the law truly effective. Why create this economic headache now?

Also, there are a number of citizen militias gathering along the southwest border of the United States. Their leaders say that they are only there to patrol the borders, pointing out illegals to the INS, not to get involved in a firefight. Local law officials don't believe them, and I wonder if this new law won't embolden them to use excessive force on illegals. These groups could point to the law as a mandate of their mission. The result could cause a border war to break out.

Oh and ladies and gentlemen of Congress, do you remember 'Nannygate'? Are you sure this new law won't hit too close to home? Are you absolutely sure that the gardener you hired last summer has all of his papers in order? Could you become a felon, because you were trying to help someone get established in this country?

Did you really think this idea through? Remember, compromise and let this provision go by the wayside. Your gardener/nanny will be mucho grateful.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Password Is Definitely Not ‘Swordfish’

Time: Friday, March 24, 2006

Place: Somewhere in Western Pennsylvania


Man Behind Door (MBD): Password!

Man at Door (MAD): Um...we can win the war in Iraq.

MBD: Shh, don’t use the word ‘war’. Come in! Got your admission?

MAD: What?

MBD: Your million-dollar check made out to the Re-Elect Rick Santorum campaign! Have you got it?

MAD: Oh, yeah. Here. Gee, this is sort of an out-of-the-way place for a campaign fundraiser.

MBD: Yeah, well, the President wanted to come out to support the Senator, but we wanted to do this out of sight of certain people.

MAD: The American people?

MBD: No, no, no. The liberal media. God, how I hate those people.

MAD: Oh, I see the President! He’s sitting on the other side of the room from the Senator. Aren’t they speaking to each other?

MBD: Well, sort of. The President’s numbers are low, and nothing’s going right for him. The Senator wants people to know he is his own man, that the President doesn’t own him.


MBD: Password!

Second MAD: Password? Hey, have you got women in there? Are you paying them to...?

MBD: No, no. They’re paying us. A million-dollar check gets you in.


Second MAD: What kind of party is going on in there?

MBD: The Republican Party!

Second MAD: Oh. Look, I just came up from the front desk. Your first hour is up. If you want to rent this room for another hour, I’ll need $!

MBD: you have change for a million dollars?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Changing Times at the IRS

A few news items have gotten my "german" up this week. There's another round of the President making speeches justifying our invasion of Iraq. (Has anyone noticed that the President makes these speeches as often as other Presidents played a round of golf?) Then there is the Ohio truck driver running for Congress on a platform of making homosexuality a capital crime. (I didn't realize Adolf Hitler was living in Ohio!) Then there are the new IRS privacy rules.

Basically, the new IRS privacy rules state that the average American taxpayer will not have as much privacy as they might think. Among the more controversial regulations is one that allows tax prepares and accountants to sell taxpayers private information to marketers and other interested parties. Granted the regulation also states that the' preparer/accountant must get permission from the taxpayer before they do sell information, but this is still flying against the grain of previous privacy policies (say that three times fast) set down by the IRS.

Let me get this straight, Mr. Federal Government. A few years ago you sent the health care and health insurance industry into a tizzy over the HIPPA laws. These sectors of the economy spent millions of dollars upgrading their businesses, making physical changes to their facilities, and training their employees to safeguard their patients and clients privacy. You even backed up these new regulations with penalties ranging from fines to serious jail time for HIPPA violators. This was all well and good; a patient’s privacy needs to be protected.

Don't you see certain hypocrisy now with the new IRS rules and the HIPPA rules? I don't recall that health providers and insurers are allowed to sell any information, even with a patient’s permission. That option is not open at all for the health care industry. So why allow a government entity the right to grant this privilege to accountants? I worked for the IRS one season, and we were threatened with termination if we so much as breathed a taxpayer’s name outside the office. My, how times have changed!

Of course, if you say this was all the President’s idea, then it will make perfect sense. In considering the source we've come to expect this sort of thing from him. After all, he's busy worried about real threats to American democracy, like the Iraqi people and gay marriage. Still, it doesn't make the new regulations right.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

All the News That's Fit to Sell

Rejoice newspaper readers of southeastern Pennsylvania! Our major newspapers, The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Daily News, have been sold by Knight-Ridder to a group called McClatchy. All I can say is "Good riddance" or perhaps, "Good ridderance!"

I have noticed that, while the price of our subscription stayed the same, the product itself got slimmer and slimmer. It's gotten to the point where I expected one of these days to pick up a newspaper kit, instead of a newspaper when I leave my house in the morning.

Yes, K-R Enterprises proudly presents your very own Newspaper Kit! Tired of the same old bad news? Tired of the same old political slant? Then write your own newspaper! For the price of your current subscription we will deliver to your home every morning four sheets of blank pre-folded paper 24" by 22". You can write your own articles, draw pictures and ads, arrange it however you want. Then just sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Just think of the fun the entire family will have putting together your own newspaper! Subscribe now! (Red pencils for editing and Crayola Crayons for color ads, photos, and Sunday comics sold separately.)

In recent years, Knight-Ridder has listened more to their stockholders than their readers. This became apparent last year when a large chunk of columnists (read experienced, seasoned, veteran newswriters and gatherers) were offered early retirement as a cost cutting measure. What did they care if the readers liked these writers or what they had to say?

Hopefully, the new owners, whoever they are, will listen more to the customers (read subscribers) than to a bunch of stockholders. I say whoever they are because there are already reports that McClatchy wants to sell off the Philadelphia papers to someone else. Their reason: this market isn't growing! Okay, McClatchy, if you don't like the Philadelphia market, then it's fine with us. Good riddance, or perhaps I should say, "Good McClatchy-ance!"

Friday, March 17, 2006

St. Patrick's Day Tolerance

Please don't get me wrong, I'm all for each and every one of us celebrating our heritage. I am also all for any excuse to get sloppy drunk at the drop of a hat, except when it involves the operation of a motor vehicle or other heavy equipment. Of course getting sloppy drunk can have its adverse consequences, like throwing up on a leprechaun. Or the little guys could likewise return the favor by tossing the cookies on your shoes. (This should not in any way be confused with that species of hollow tree-dwelling creatures who could throw their hard, crunchy baked products at anyone who angers them.)

St Patrick’s Day has evolved into both of these. I realize it's a religious feast day for one of the saints, but I seldom hear anyone celebrating it as such. All we hear is how it’s a celebration of everything that's Irish and Ireland. "Kiss me for luck! I'm Irish" is a common phrase on this day. It seems that everyone is allowed to be Irish for one day, unless of course you happen to be gay, as New York City tried to implement a few years ago. This is the point at which celebrating one's heritage could cross the line.

This is why I don't get overly excited about occasions like this, particularly when they are celebrated at the expense of another cultural or ethnic group. Sometimes it smacks of ethnocentricity, which is one step towards bigotry and prejudice, which is one step towards violence and mass murder. I'll give an example and I'll use my own heritage: German. One time Germany celebrated its heritage and millions died; we remember it now as World War Two. Okay, that's an extreme example, but a feast day for a saint shouldn't become an exercise in bigotry.

If everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day then let everyone be Irish ... no conditions!

If everyone is Italian on Columbus Day then let everyone be Italian ... no conditions!

So, a happy and safe St Patrick’s Day to all! Drink and love wisely, and for goodness sake, don't step on any rowdy leprechauns!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

When Sports Teams Visit

Compete…play…go up against…versus…try for a win…snap a losing streak…continue a winning streak…. These are all terms and phrases that sports announcers can use when stating that one team will play another team in an upcoming sports event. These terms all bring images of intense competition between opposing factions, the raw energy needed for one team to conquer another team’s efforts. I realize the announcers use a variety of phrases for a game to break the monotony of their job, but some terms do not convey the same sense of passion that the sporting event demands.

One such term is “visit”. The strangeness of this term hit me recently when a local newscaster said that the Philadelphia Flyers would visit Boston. Somehow the word “visit” doesn’t quite bring to mind that a game will be played.

A “visit” to me would be that the entire team would agree to get together at the residence of a designated player on the other team. And, coincidentally, the entire other team is also gathered at this player’s house. I can only guess what they might do, perhaps watch Jerry Springer and munch on popcorn. They’d probably talk about their problems and the pitfalls of being highly-paid sports figures, what a jerk Drew Rosenhaus is, and that would bring them to the subject of football. They’d commiserate how they’re playing the wrong sport, and that if they were football players there’s a chance that they could visit the Eagles. If that happens, then they might get to go to Donovan McNabb’s house where his mother would serve chunky chicken noodle soup. But no, they’re not football players and they’re stuck munching on popcorn.

Eventually one of the players would look around and notice, “Hey guys! We’ve got enough people here to shoot the puck! Whadda ya say?” Then, they might play a game, but it’s doubtful.

On the other hand, a case could be made for hiring out game officials for family functions. Lord only knows many families could use this service during the holidays. Think about this. Say Uncle Rob makes an off-color remark about something that cousin Mel is wearing. A referee could penalize Uncle Rob the loss of pumpkin pie for dessert.

Or the nephews are left unsupervised with the unopened gifts under the Christmas tree at Grandma’s house. An alert referee could blow the whistle and call off sides if the nephews try to open the gifts before the rest of the family is gathered together. There might be some value to this idea.

So for now, we’ll allow teams to “visit”. Keep in mind the next time you watch a hockey game on television, and you see that the visiting team is looking rather glum, that they may not be unhappy about the score or their performance in the game. They’re probably down because they’d rather be slurping chunky chicken noodle soup at Mrs. McNabb’s.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Prophecies of SNL

O great Lorne Michaels, Oracle of Rockefeller Center, we gather to beseech you to tell us what next have you to predict?

Long ago you parodied a razor commercial with a revolutionary three blades to make our morning shave smoother. The razor revolution was a myth at the time, and you even told us that we would believe its value only because we would believe anything Madison Avenue told us to believe. But, lo, a razor with five blades was introduced during a Super Bowl commercial this year. Truly it is a miracle that you predicted this product coming!

Another long ago skit on your show had Eddie Murphy change his skin color to white with the aid of makeup. His goal was to experience how white people treated each other. We laughed, we pointed our fingers, and we rejoiced at this marvelous work of fiction. But now, even this is coming true with a new reality show that has entire families switching black to white, and white to black premiering this week. Again, you predicted this wonderful variation of the "walk-in-my-shoes-for-awhile" philosophy coming to us!

What next, O wise one?

Infomercials on Fox for a kitchen appliance that makes great nutritional shakes out of large mouth bass?

A chain of steakhouses with the freshest meat killed by the consumer themselves?

Delicatessen owners throwing away their old slicers in favor of the samurai sword?

A substance that will taste great on our pies and give our kitchen floors a great shine at the same time?

Federal funding for the preservation and maintenance of our uvulas?

Predatory fish trained to walk on the land and perform menial tasks like deliveries?

Absolute morons elected to high office? (Wait! That already came to pass years ago. Forget about this one.)

O wise one, we await more of your great predictions coming true!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Without Baseball

The exhibition baseball season is under way, and that means that my wife, Anne Marie, is happy again. During the off season, she goes into mourning without her daily fix of hearing Phillies games on the radio. She won’t watch the games on TV; that would be too distracting for her while she knits. Listening to the games enables her to pursue her two favorite pastimes, knitting and baseball. I’m surprised that she hasn’t knitted herself a mourning shawl for the next off-season, but give it time...

There are some other techniques I’ve thought of to get her through the winter of her bereavement, but I’m afraid to mention them. Well, here goes...

We could try indoor baseball during the winter months. Our living room is long enough to accommodate some sort of ball tossing and batting. True, the windows at each end would take a beating, but my wife’s happiness would be worth it. The only thing stopping this idea is that I cannot find baseball gloves to fit over our cat’s paws. We’d have to get Kelly and Meredith involved in our game, otherwise it would just be my wife and I tossing a ball back and forth.

Or we could try finger puppet baseball. Anne Marie could knit little uniforms to fit over our fingers, then if we could figure out to hold a little bat between those fingers, and if we could figure out how to toss a tiny ball with another pair of fingers, we’d be able to play a game. No windows broken, no cats humiliated and my wife would be happy. Of course we’d have to have another set of fingers to pose as the umpires. Oh yeah, I can see this now. We’d be playing our puppet game when the “ump” makes a bad call that Anne Marie doesn’t like. I have a feeling that my fingers would be sore for a long while after she gives a piece of her mind to the umpire.

Or there is the technique about which I have had nightmares: Anne Marie’s version of baseball fantasy camp. My dream goes something like this: I hear my wife call out “Pat” in a very come hither tone. Then I see myself putting on a Pat Burrell jersey and nothing else... Don’t ask! Please!

Fortunately, the official season will start in a matter of weeks and I won’t have to worry about living without baseball until October. Go Phillies!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

All’s Fair in Inference

Now before we get all excited of the possibility that an authority figure has lied to us, we should keep the circumstances of the story in perspective. Very briefly, in the aftermath of the Katrina disaster, the Bush administration asserted (among other denials of accountability) that no one could have anticipated that the levees in New Orleans would be breached and flood the city. This past week, videotape of a presidential briefing a few days before the hurricane made landfall has been released. The tape shows the President being told that the evacuation of New Orleans was going slowly, and someone raised the possibility that the levees would not withstand the forces of the storm.

At this writing, the White House has stated so far that nothing should be inferred from the tape. We here at the blog, where the finest fair and balanced journalistic traditions of Rupert Murdoch are held in high regard, couldn't agree more. A first analysis of the events would possibly suggest a contradiction between what the President told us and what he knew at the time Katrina hit. It could suggest that the President…well, lied.

Let's look at his initial response that “I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees.” Let’s break this reason down to define it. "I don’t think” meaning a person (or persons) not thinking, no idea or reason occurring to them, void of all sensation, clear, empty. Knowing the President as we do, we can very easily see why he believes all of these conditions could be applied to him. I don’t think we need to go further with this, since this analysis of these three words sums up the President’s position nicely.

So, before the liberals and Democrats start dancing in the streets chanting “Smoking gun, smoking gun, smoking gun", before we stock up on the "Impeach Bush" bumper stickers and buttons, and before we start inflaming the blue state masses with vitriolic rhetoric, we should allow the events to naturally proceed in Washington. There will most likely be calls for another round of investigations and hearings, and whatever else Congress and the pundits will want to do to, once again, get to the truth and take the focus away from the issue of rebuilding New Orleans.

Then, and only then, once we have all the facts, can we begin impeachment proceedings and throw the rascal out!

NOTE: Secret message intended only for liberals and Democrats: One, two, three…POUNCE!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Random Thoughts on the 2006 Oscars

It's Oscar time this weekend, and once again my good friend Rob has somehow avoided being nominated again for the 46th year in a row. He keeps running afoul of those pesky AMPAS requirements that stipulate that a nominee must act, direct, produce, write, do sound, costumes, or design a film production. Rob unfortunately did not get a chance to do any of that this past year. So we send our personal consolations to him with the reminder that Spielberg may win a statuette, but he certainly won't win anything in the cactus and succulent division at the Philadelphia Flower Show! In that division, Rob will probably clean up!

Anyway, I do have some thoughts on this year’s best picture nominees. I have not seen any of these films for one reason or another, but I feel I can furnish a knee-jerk reaction to these films and their attendant award hype. Besides, if I had seen them I would be obligated to critique the films on such boring things as artistic merit and so forth. Who wants to read something like that?

The first best picture nominee: "Brokeback Mountain"

Many people are under the assumption that, if this wins best picture, a huge earthquake will swallow whole the Sodom and Gomorrah known as Hollywood, their children will be made sterile, and their wives will turn into pillars of salt. Many people are narrow-minded morons. Still, we should note that the title itself does not really describe the storyline, but rather a soaring, majestic location far above the everyday prejudices and foibles of society. Or it could also suggest that the filmmakers settled on this title once they found out "Bronco Billy's Hot Monkey Love" had already been taken.

All kidding aside, we should remind ourselves that this film is a love story, no more, no less. It's a major chick film! What's the big deal?

The next nominee: "Capote"

I know Capote for three things: "Breakfast at Tiffany’s," "In Cold Blood," and as a guest shot on the Sonny and Cher show in 1974. My, how the mighty had fallen! This film details his relationship with one of the killers he profiled in "In Cold Blood". This will probably be recognized as a tour de force for its lead actor, Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

The next nominee: “Crash”

Okay, so now we’ve reduced the American melting pot experience down to a sound effect. Allow me to add, “Boom, bam, tinkle, biff, and pow.”

The next nominee: "Good Night and Good Luck"

It is so nice to see a hard-driven, chain-smoking crusading journalist like Edward R Murrow take time out from exposing conservatives (who are themselves exposing Communists without due process) to wish us a restful night and a wonderful time tomorrow. Thanks, Mr. Murrow, wherever you are!

The final nominee: "Munich"

Another dramatic chapter in the story about anti-Semitism in our lifetime. This one uses a massacre at the 1972 Olympics in Germany as its launching point. As a third generation German-American, I should probably say: "All right! Enough already! We get it! We were bad people! We elected a raging hate monger nutjob as our leader in 1933, but it's over! Germany didn't create hatred, and it didn't magically go away when the Third Reich self-destructed. Let Germany alone! Heck, we've got so many Nazis, neo- Nazis and bigots on our own American soil that we make Hitler’s Luftwaffe and Gestapo look like the Keystone Kops! Come on, Mr. Spielberg, focus your cameras on our own American-bred hatred for a change!"