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

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Destination: Virginia (Part 1)

Anne Marie and I recently vacationed in Virginia, specifically the Historic Triangle area on the peninsula between the James and York Rivers. Here we found the historic state capital of Williamsburg, the first settlement at Jamestown, and the site of our final victory over the British in the Revolutionary War at Yorktown. Although we only spent a week in the area, there is so much to do in the Historic Triangle we could have stayed much longer if we hadn’t run out of money.

We traveled down to Virginia by Amtrak on October 14. The ride was relaxing and delayed only by an occasional freight train that had to clear the tracks before we could proceed. Our trip was uneventful except for a visibly drunken Goth (tattoos, body-piercings, garish make-up, etc) co-ed who stumbled in and out of her seat on several occasions. When she wasn’t staggering, or passed out in her seat, she spent the time sobbing. Eventually she found someone to talk to and she was chatting away happily with her newfound friends as we neared our destination.

Our train stayed close to the state’s eastern coast for much of the trip, then going inland to the present state capital at Richmond. The train station in Richmond is a great old red brick building that was saved from the wrecker’s ball. Unfortunately, much of the building is dwarfed by several super highway overpasses, another sign showing how the automobile has grown in importance over the lowly railroad.

There were several other sights to take in as our train took us closer to Williamsburg. Allegedly, one can see the burial site of Stonewall Jackson’s amputated arm as the train clacks and clatters through the Virginia countryside. The rest of the general is buried elsewhere in the state (see but the final resting-place of his wounded appendage should be visible from the comfort of your train seat.

I tried in vain to see another monument outside of Richmond, the George Allen Memorial Spittoon. No, ole George isn’t gone, but the spittoon that collected the tobacco juice he gobbed up when he was governor rusted away a long time ago. Supposedly the monument, standing twelve feet high and polished daily to accent a great brass shine, pays tribute to this noble piece of gubernatorial furniture. I will have to make a more thorough search of the Richmond area at some future date.

For now, it’s on to Williamsburg!

(To Be Continued)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Osama bin Laden, Republican Shill

The GOP unleashed a new set of television ads last weekend, which emphasize their stand on the terrorism issue. Basically, they’re against it. Unfortunately, I can’t see where they’ve accomplished very much in the war on terror.

The ads use images of violence and Osama bin Laden to give the impression that these dangers still exist. It is implied that a vote against the GOP in two weeks could weaken this country’s fight against the terrorists. Finally, they reach back to an old LBJ television ad from 1964 for the punchline. That ad implied that a vote for Johnson’s opponent, the legendary Barry Goldwater, would bring about the nuclear demise of a young innocent girl who’s only crime is ripping apart a daisy while trying to count to ten.

There are several things wrong with this ad. Aside from the fact that it’s a cheap shot at our emotions and that it plagiarizes the Democrats, it also unwittingly demonstrates that our war on terrorism has been a failure. We only have to look at Osama bin Laden to see this: after five years he is still alive and he hasn’t been brought to justice. Great going guys! Were you up all night thinking this one through? If you did, you lost a good night’s sleep for nothing.

You haven’t been able to capture this old guy hiding in a five years! Now you want to be rehired to finish the job? I can’t help thinking that this is a little like the Democrats using footage of Vietnam in the 1970’s. This comparison screams, “Hey, we know we have no one to blame but ourselves for this quagmire, but we want another chance to correct it...or make it worse.”

At least that’s the message I’m getting from the Republican ads, but then I am biased.

Another problem: you people have used Osama’s image so many times during the last five years that I have to wonder if he’s not due some royalties. A good lawyer or even a show business agent would insist that Osama get compensated for the all the times you’ve flashed his whiskered kisser on television. Hell, a really good lawyer could convince him to sue you for libel, what with all the nasty things you’ve been saying about him all these years. Of course, none of us believes he has a legal leg to stand on, but since when did that fact stop a frivolous suit from being filed.

So once again, American voter, the choice is up to you. We can re-elect a Congress that allowed itself to be misled into a sideshow that aggravated the war on terrorism, or pick a new direction for defending ourselves from the terrorists. Please choose wisely.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Coming Clean with Your Constituents, or Why It’s Impossible for Politicians To Be Totally Honest

Dear Republican Members of Congress:

Please feel free to use the following letter of confession to relieve any feelings of guilt you may have about letting your constituents down in the wake of the Mark Foley sex scandal. Many of you are being held responsible, some perhaps unjustly, for the way the Republican leadership sought to cover up Foley’s e-mail use to lure and seduce underage male pages. By signing this letter, you will be forthright and honest with the people who believed in you to send you to Congress. Granted, this may not win you many votes and you may get bruised when your ass hits the pavement upon being kicked out of office, but just think how clear your conscience will be once you send this letter to the people back home.

Good luck, and write when you get work!*

My dear fellow American voter,

I feel it's time that I should make my position clear to you on the subject of how we handled the scandal involving our colleague, Mark Foley. To tell the truth, we mishandled it badly. We mishandled it in such a way that was unbecoming the great institution of Congress, but more becoming the Boston Archdiocese. Our leadership meant well, but it now appears that their efforts to help Mr. Foley were misguided.

Our efforts were wrong, and Mr. Foley’s actions were also wrong. While I’m sure many of you would like nothing better than to cast Mr. Foley into the depths of Hell where his soul will burn forever, I must remind you that such an action is not what the Republican Party is all about. We are the party of the Big Tent! We are all inclusive, even though in recent years we have had to respect the wishes of the so-called religious right more than anyone else does.

This brings me to the subject of family values. Many of us ran on a platform of family values, the traditional one-man, one-woman, two-and-a-half children unit. We realize that this is a very serious issue with many of our constituents, and we truly respect its place in your lives.

However, the truth is many of us don’t believe in them at all. Hell, some of us haven’t been to church in ages! Our consultants (particularly Karl Rove) advised us that family values are a hot-button issue and it would guarantee that we would get elected to office. Well, damn, if they weren’t right! You people were suckered into voting for us even though the issue rubbed many of us the wrong way.

I realize many of you will be outraged to learn these things about us, but I feel that now is the time to be candid, honest and forthright with everyone. Thank you and I look forward to your support on Election Day.

Respectfully, sincerely and truthfully,
(Your Congressperson)

*I’m kidding about writing me when you get work. I could care less if I ever hear from any of you again.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A Prayer for Rev. Phelps

Dear Lord,

I wish to pray to you today for one of your children, Rev. Fred Phelps from Topeka, Kansas. As you know, he and his followers believe that our soldiers are dying in Iraq because the United States tolerates the gay lifestyle. As you also know, we had some trouble this week in Lancaster County, and the Amish community suffered a terrible loss of five girls. The Rev. Phelps and his followers were preparing to attend the funerals for these girls and stage a protest. They wanted to let everyone know that you had brought this down on the Amish people because the Pennsylvania governor had criticized his followers from the Westboro Baptist Church. The good news is that his group backed off their plans, but I was hoping that you could do something more for Rev. Phelps.

The Amish are good people, and they have already forgiven the man who brought this violence to their town. I would like to ask you to put some of that forgiveness in Rev Phelps’ heart. Please don’t get me wrong; I’m not asking that you slay Rev. Phelps. That would be a wrong misuse of your forgiving guidance to ask you to do that. I don’t know why Rev. Phelps has such hatred inside of him, but I trust that his feelings are all part of your plan.

I wonder if you could somehow send him a small sign that his efforts are counter productive and give Christianity a bad name. Perhaps the next time he is leading a protest on a city street near another soldier’s funeral, if you could arrange that he might stub his toe. Then, as he stumbles, the force of gravity would make him drop his sign, breaking it, and that the jagged, broken shaft would impale him. Then as he struggles to remove the shaft from his body, but without any divine intervention from yourself, he could lose his balance and fall into the street. Then, as his followers reach down to help him out of the street, through a coincidental, cataclysmic conjunction of the cosmos, a Mack truck could speed down the street, lose its brakes, and run over the whole lot of them.

If this small sign could come to pass, I know many people in this country would be very grateful.

Thank you, Lord, for listening.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Democrats Have More Fun

The Republican Party has recently tried to reach out to a hitherto unknown disenfranchised segment of the American population. This segment doesn’t have a label yet, but we can identify them as underage males who wear boxer shorts while being propositioned by members of Congress via e-mail. This outreach attempt can now be considered a total flop.

This all came to a head (no pun intended) last week when Congressman Mark Foley resigned amidst allegations of writing illicit e-mails to male pages. Now he is in rehab for alcoholism (of course he was under the influence when the e-mails were generated) and his behavior patterns (????). Apparently all this has led to an admission that he is gay, and that he is seeking treatment for it. I find it incredible that some people actually believe that homosexuality can be cured with therapy. I’ll bet these same people are wondering why modern medicine hasn’t discovered a vaccine for it yet.

Now there could be more fallout involving the Republican leadership who may have known about the e-mails, but looked away just to keep the Republican majority in Congress intact. Haven’t they learned anything from Watergate? Sure they can get in trouble for the act, but if people find out that you tried to cover up the act then you’ll really catch hell!

This whole scandal points up the dramatic differences between the two parties. Historically, when it comes to getting into trouble, Republicans can be counted on to get caught accumulating too much power and/or money. See Nixon/Watergate, Richard; or Harding/Teapot Dome, Warren; et al. However, when it comes to a sex scandal, GOP members are rank amateurs. They should leave sex scandals to the professionals, otherwise known as Democrats.

This is one reason (but not the only reason) I feel more comfortable with the Democrats. The Republican scandals are dull, stodgy affairs. To put it simply: Democrats have more fun.

The Republican scandals involve subpoenas, accusations, counter accusations, long drawn-out Congressional hearings trying to find out who said what on a certain date, and who else was there and when did the President find out... There, see how boring it is! I fell asleep half-way through that sentence, and I was typing it at the time.

Democrats, on the other hand, have scandals worth fantasizing over. We can close our eyes, imagine the scene involving carnal knowledge in the halls of power, and then...oooo (cue Barry White music here). Well, I can’t go on, but we can all let our imaginations run off with us from here.

This latest sex scandal will now degenerate into a “who knew what and when” firing line of Congressional inquires. BORING! Perhaps the next time a Republican decides to get in trouble over sex, he or she could pick up a few pointers from the experts. They could hire a Democrat to personally supervise them on the best ways to get some action without getting caught. Or perhaps they can rely on modern medicine to give them the knowledge they’ll need to avoid discovery of their act. Unfortunately, a vaccine for stupidity doesn’t exist either.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Guns and Children

Legislators from rural Pennsylvania must be scratching their heads today. It seems that gun violence isn’t just limited to the city of Philadelphia. It appears that it can spill over wherever people and guns are allowed to co-exist.

A few weeks ago, the Pennsylvania State legislature held a special session to address gun violence in the state. Many gun control proposals, among others, were introduced and (no pun intended) shot down. This, despite a large contingent of gun control advocates bussed in from Philly, protesting noisily outside the State Capital.

The general consensus that came out of the special session was that better enforcement of existing laws would cut down on the number of gun-related deaths in the state. The reasoning is that more police officers will enable the authorities to get the drug dealers off the street, and therefore fewer criminals with guns would be on the streets. Legislators have been hiding behind this “existing laws” shield for ages.

Fine, but here is the scenario that played out this week in Lancaster County: a law abiding citizen with no criminal record, no record of dealing drugs, no warrants at all, walks into an Amish school room and executes young school girls.

I’m puzzled: what “existing law” would have gotten that man off the streets before he killed somebody? Short answer: no such law exists. This man was considered a law-abiding citizen until he used his gun, and then it was too late to save the lives of those young girls.

How many more police are needed to ensure that someone like this does not kill anyone, if this someone has never broken a law? Answer: no matter how many police are on the streets they would be unable to do anything to prevent such slaughters, unless they can read the gun-bearing citizen's mind and head them off before the shooting starts. Don’t get me wrong, all police do a wonderful job, but I doubt if many of them are mind readers.

Once again, I will invoke my “nobody’s right when everybody’s wrong” standard. There are serious objections on both sides of the issue. Gun control advocates have to realize that enacting gun sales restrictions will not automatically eliminate all gun violence. Gun violence may decrease, but it won’t disappear entirely. As long as someone somewhere believes that they can get away with committing a crime, regardless if it is robbery or murder, than that crime will happen.

On the other side, gun owners should not judge gun control a failure if there is so much as one murder by gun. The massacre in Lancaster should also not be pounced on by gun advocates as a reason to require people to own a gun. Their reasoning would be that a well-armed populace could better defend themselves in an attack. I like to think I have a good imagination, but even I can’t comprehend the carnage that might result if such a requirement became law.

We have to face the facts: we live in a society where the right to own a gun is more treasured and cherished than life itself. It pains me to write that, and I hope I’m wrong. I challenge anybody to prove me wrong. Somehow I don’t think I’ll get many challengers for my statement.

The events in Lancaster County this week can and will happen again, anywhere in the country. There has got to be a common sense, multi-faceted, compromise approach that could allow this country’s children to grow up without fears of being shot. Until some genius figures that out, we’ll all just scratch our heads, and weigh the enormous cost of living in a free society.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Interrogation Transcript

AMERICAN AGENT: Okay, Mr. Bousa-alr-clemiki, I am required to read this to you as part of our interview.

BOUSA-ALR-CLEMIKI: Death to you!

AGENT: Right, anyway, I just wanted to let you know that we have these options available to you for a one-time premium charge of $1960. This option will pay for all repairs to your new car, during the next 60 months, after a $50 deductible.

CLEMIKI: I will rip your head off and spit down your neck, Great Satan!

AGENT: Now I know you will appreciate the peace of mind you’ll get knowing you have this coverage. Let me remind you that this beyond our standard warranty of 100,000 miles or 6 years, whichever comes first. I can break this down for you...that would work out to an additional $32.67 per month on top of your car payment.

CLEMIKI: Death to your family!

AGENT: Okay, if that’s still too much for your budget, how about we up the deductible to $ your cost is $1130.00. That would only be $18.83 per month in addition to your car payment. This would pay all car repairs – engine, motor, electrical, anything that goes wrong - in full, and the only cost to you is the deductible.

CLEMIKI: Die, Great Satan, die!

AGENT: I know it’s late, Mr. Clemiki, but you really should consider one of these options. It would give you a great peace of mind...


CLEMIKI: Water! Mercy!

AGENT: I can sense that you know the value of buying one of our extended warranties! Now we also have available the glass etch option for vehicle identification in the event of theft...

Okay, even though this interrogation transcript goes on for a few more pages, I think you get the idea. We must not allow the President of the United States to use an extended car warranty sales pitch as part of his plan to extract information from terrorist detainees. As anyone can see from the above excerpt, this is a highly cruel and inhumane form of torture. Even worse, if we use this against our prisoners, it may be used against our own soldiers in the war on terror!

I sincerely hope Congress will keep this torture in mind as they return to their home districts to campaign for re-election. Perhaps in the next session of Congress we’ll see significant strides in eliminating this form of punishment from future interrogations. It can’t lead to anything good, but it can backfire on all of us.