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, May 31, 2007

Rev. Al and Mr. Hyde

A few months ago, at the height of the Don Imus controversy, I criticized Rev. Al Sharpton for not going after the misogynistic rap record industry as vigorously as he went after white, multi-millionaire disc jockeys that voiced a racist comment over the airwaves. Several other black activists noted that Sharpton had criticized the rap industry in the past in the wake of the Imus affair. Fine, I thought, but I’ve never heard about it covered in the mainstream media.

Recently, Rev. Sharpton yelled his criticisms loud enough for the mainstream media and I to hear it. This is very good; it proves that he is sincere at making lives better for everyone. It proves that he is more than just an opportunist trying to stroke his own ego. Upon hearing this news item, I resolved to publicly apologize to Rev. Sharpton for doubting his motives.

This era of forgiveness and warm, fuzzy feelings lasted exactly one day!

More recently, Rev. Sharpton has been quoted as telling people that if you believe in God, you won’t vote for Mitt Romney because he is a Mormon. So much for tolerance of all people regardless of their religious beliefs, let alone the color of their skin. You see, Reverend, these two concepts go hand-in-hand for many of us who cherish a tolerant society.

Now, let’s see, how should we as a freedom-loving society react to this? Hmm...there is a precedent for people spouting off inappropriate material on the radio. Okay, I’ve got it.

The following should happen as a result of Rev. Sharpton’s comment: groups of white multi-millionaire disc jockeys and their supporters should picket Sharpton’s radio station and the corporate headquarters of his sponsors. This will convince his sponsors to pull out, leaving Sharpton with no support for his show and he will be fired.

Instead the following has happened since the Rev. Sharpton made these intolerant remarks at a Democratic presidential debate: no pickets have been sighted, no sponsorships have been pulled, and no one has been fired. Worse still, the mainstream media has ignored this story with the exception of an isolated television and radio item. Where did all the media outrage that was aimed at Don Imus go? Are the media tired? Do they need to take a breath or two? Oh, right, Paris Hilton’s efforts to get out of serving a 45 day jail sentence is way more important than some bigoted comment made by a radio personality and aspiring presidential candidate! Other than that, it was a rather dull news month for the country in May.

In all fairness, one isolated news item mentioned in passing that Rev. Sharpton had spoken to leaders of the Mormon Church and that all parties were satisfied. What a shame that Imus couldn’t have been extended the same courtesy after his public mea culpa! Sharpton still has his radio gig, but you have to wonder where his Mr. Hyde persona will strike next.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day 2007

Several news items over the past few days make this Memorial Day sadder than usual. Sorry, no humor or satire today, just an overwhelming sense of deep irony.

News Item #1

In a speech at the Coast Guard Academy graduation ceremonies, President George W. Bush announced that the Al-Qaeda forces in Iraq are stronger than ever. He uses this little factoid -- that everyone else realized months ago -- to justify sending more Americans to fight the war on terror. The fact that Al-Qaeda is stronger today due to an invasion and occupation on which he insisted escapes his sense of reality.

News Item #2

As if on cue -- twenty-four hours later than the President's speech -- a Senate subcommittee declassifies documents which show the Bush administration was warned in 2003 that an invasion of Iraq would strengthen Al-Qaeda's position. Obviously the administration chose to ignore this warning and invaded Iraq anyway. Normally this news would be reason for liberals -- and anyone else who opposed the war from Day One -- to gloat. Unfortunately, gloating right now would be too painful because of...

News Item #3

We reach this Memorial Day with over 3400 lives to remember, lost in the invasion and occupation of Iraq. The conflict is not over, the mission is not accomplished, and the casualty toll will continue to climb until the Bush administration comes to its senses. The irony of all these events added together make this Memorial Day the most bittersweet in recent memory.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Buffet of Life

I am vacationing in Catawissa this week, which is situated on the eastern branch of the Susquehanna River roughly halfway between Wilkes Barre and Sunbury, Pennsylvania. My main goal for this vacation was to help my Mom clear out Dad's shop and garage for an imminent sale of the Gunther homestead. It has been slow going for this project, since I have suffered from a bad head cold and I've been distracted by a few buffets in the area.

Buffet has to be my most favorite word of the English language. It's so soft and supple that it just rolls off the tongue without stinging the lips. If I could be allowed a second philosophy of life, I would include the word buffet in it. For example: "Life is a buffet of experiences to be tasted and savored with every trip to the table within your soul." However, for the purpose of today's blog, we will refer to buffet in the physical sense, namely that place with lots and lots of food that threatens our cholesterol levels as surely as it devastates our waistlines.

My favorite buffet is Chinese, and so far this week I have been to the same Chinese buffet twice. My nephews love their local Chinese buffet and their favorite part is the stir fry station. I like that also, but I'm partial to peel & eat shrimp. However, on our second visit this week, they seemed more interested in seeing how much artificial sweetener they could put into their tiny cup of hot tea.

This is always an interesting experiment, and my oldest nephew, David, found that two sweetener packets was just right for what I believe to be five ounces of tea. He used every packet of sweetener on the table, which didn't leave any sweetener for Uncle Todd's iced tea. Now we had a problem. My brother raided the sugar/sweetener box from another table, and we were all happy again.

This reminded me of the time many years ago when two college buds wanted to see how much sugar I could stand in my tea. They thought I used an extraordinary amount (three packets) for one cup, but I argued that each packet could not equal a teaspoon of sugar, since I could barely taste anything after two packets. I sometimes wondered if there was indeed sugar in the packets at all! My friends were more than happy to oblige me this time and, one by one, they dumped more packets into my cup. I don't know why we stopped when we did -- whether it was the fact that that my drink turned from a liquid to a sludge-like substance, or that my eyes bugged out of my head with every sip, or that we simply ran out of sugar packets at the table -- but I ended up with 18 sugar packets in my eight ounces of hot tea. At the time we believed that this had to be a world's record.

Today's buffet was lunch at the local Pizza Hut. Once again, it was a delightful gastrological experience. I had another motive besides hunger for visiting this buffet: nostalgia. Whenever my father was working at the local Acme, I would come down from Bloomsburg University when my schedule permitted and meet him at this same Pizza Hut for the buffet. Back then, they offered the Bit, the Bite, or the Bunch, with each one allowing the diner more trips to the salad and pizza bar than the previous level (Bit would equal one slice and one salad; the Bite would equal two slices and a salad; the Bunch would equal all you can eat). Today there is one level, one price and you choose how much or how little you eat. I figured that it had been twenty-seven years since the time I would meet my Dad for lunch. Today I ate alone with my memory of him sitting across from me, enjoying some wonderful Italian food.

Now, I am full and I must do more cleaning. One week is not enough time to clear out a shop, a house, and a garage with all of their memories of a productive lifetime. The work of sorting is tedious, but every object had a purpose at one time and must be dealt with one last time. That purpose may be lost now and the object will be discarded forever. Still, with every item thrown out or saved, I can savor the memory of each at my own buffet of life.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Irrelevant Mr. Carter

Former President Jimmy Carter is doing a book tour now, and he is not saying many nice things about the administration currently occupying the White House. Over the weekend, he referenced what Bush has done for our standing in foreign countries. In this regard, Carter states that the Bush administration is the worst ever.

Somewhere, James Buchanan is breathing a sigh of relief. He occupied the White House in the tumultuous days before the Civil War and his sympathies towards the South have long been seen as one reason the Civil War happened at all. Historians have bestowed on him the honor of being the worst President ever. Although the final verdict will be left to future historians, we will for the time being let Buchanan step down from the throne and crown George W. Bush the worst President.

Naturally, the Bushies will fire back with a counter-attack, like they have nothing better to do at the moment. They can let the Iraq War slide by -- unfunded -- to go after Jimmy. They can take a break from rebuilding the Gulf Coast -- it's been nearly two years since Hurricane Katrina and 40% of New Orleans residents are still displaced -- to snipe at the most respectable Democratic President in the last forty years. All that is nothing when the beloved Decider comes under attack.

So far, the Bush administration has stated that Carter's comments are irrelevant. This administration loves that word! Cheney has used the same term to describe Congressional leaders from his own party who are now criticizing the war they supported for the last four years. Ooo...I'll bet they're scared now.

As for Carter, the Bushies will probably consider the source. They may reason, after all, that Jimmy is not having a good year. They may think that he is just cranky because his Atlanta Braves are in second place. The Bush administration probably believes that Carter will feel better once he nails a couple of two by fours together for one of his houses. However, in the meantime, his comments are irrelevant.

Many people believe that Jimmy Carter was one of the worst Presidents this country had in the last thirty years. So, when it comes to naming worst Presidents, he should know what he's talking about. The Bush administration is missing a golden opportunity to retaliate with, "Well, it takes one to know one!" I can't wait for them to say this. Oh please, oh please, say this, Bush administration! It'll be so good for a laugh!

Jimmy Carter is everything but irrelevant. Since his administration was derailed by the Ronald Reagan/religious right juggernaut, he has proven himself to be an exemplary citizen of the world. His Habitat for Humanity has given shelter to many poor people here in the United States and many other countries. He has made himself available to oversee foreign election results, ensuring that democracy comes to many countries through votes and not through weapons. I dare say that, of all the former Presidents still living, Carter has the highest profile in the area of world wide humanitarian causes. I hope he is able to keep up this pace for years to come.

Go Jimmy! Go Jimmy! Go Jimmy!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Jerry Falwell

Jerry Falwell, possibly the most influential Christian leader of the last thirty years, died this week. There are many people in this country that looked to him as the chief defender of the Christian faith, a man of great conviction and courage. Perhaps he was all this, but there many of us that saw a very different man.

He came into the national political stage with the founding of the Moral Majority and the subsequent rise of the religious right in the early 1980’s. Ronald Reagan was elected president in part due to support from Falwell’s followers. His efforts seem to recast Jesus Christ as sole property of the conservative Republican movement. Naturally, this sent off waves of alienation throughout the rest of the Christian community in the United States. Many of us do believe in the good works Christ did, but we’re not willing to let it dictate our political views. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with having morality in a society, but Falwell blurred the lines between church and state so much that it gave Christianity a bad name in other countries that are dominated by other religions.

In some of these countries, Falwell would have been perceived as a traitor seeking to overthrow the government. In the 1990’s several episodes of his “Old Time Gospel Hour” had nothing to do with faith, Jesus, or prayer. On these episodes, he would offer a videotape documentary about Bill Clinton’s marital infidelities to anyone who sent a donation to his program. The “Old Time Gospel Hour” became the “Get Bill Clinton Out of Office Hour”! Keep in mind this was before anyone heard of Monica Lewinsky. Falwell could only get away with this sort of shenanigans here in the United States; in other countries, he could’ve been stood up against a wall and shot.

Then there was the time he became a critic of children’s television when he went after the Teletubbies. He reasoned that they were part of the homosexual agenda because one of the Tubbies carried a purse. The gay community will not miss him, but I can just imagine how the Teletubbies are taking the news of his passing. They will probably hold a solemn ceremony in his memory, complete with a paper mache mock-up of Falwell himself. Then one of the Tubbies may do something naughty - say, play with matches - and “accidentally” set Falwell’s effigy on fire. This episode will most likely never air, but it could show up on YouTube any day now.

Falwell’s stance on environmental issues also didn’t impress me. He and his followers were against heavy, intrusive government regulation of industry just so we can all breathe a little easier. He reasoned that the good Lord has promised us a new world in the hereafter, and we don’t have to be concerned about keeping this one clean. My response to this has always been, why should God give us another world after He’s seen how we’ve trashed this one? Shouldn’t we ensure the future survival of the human race by leaving behind a clean environment? Wouldn’t we prove ourselves worthy of a new world if we kept this one as clean as possible?

Then there were his light-hearted moments, like the time he showed videotape of himself bungee jumping. Or the time he slid down an amusement park water slide – in a suit and tie – to celebrate pulling PTL Land (or Heritage USA) out of bankruptcy. It’s special times like that that make me wonder why the Jerry Falwell action figure never sold very well.

So, the man is gone, but his legacy will be with us for many years to come. Many people will not miss him or his brand of Christianity. In a more Christian spirit of being kind to the dead, I should point out that he was just a man, no more, no less, who devoted his life to his interpretation of God. As the Teletubbies might say, “Huh-oh!”

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Happy Hour for Frogs

A popular bottled drink, which I won’t name, has a gimmick of fun facts printed on the inside of their bottle caps. I won’t name the product because 1) they are not paying for advertising space on this blog; and 2) my keyboard does not have one of those encircled “C” keys which I would need to print as a superscript immediately after the product name. However, in the spirit of compromise I will call it “S*******”.

Anyway, these fun facts are very interesting. They comprise information on science, history, sports, pop culture, and just about every other subject under the sun. I haven’t made time yet to actually verify any of these facts, so I will assume like everyone else that they are not made up. Still, I half expect to open a bottle of S****** some day and find these words, “All the other bottle cap facts are full of crap.”

One fact, which totally threw me for a loop, was this, “Frogs don’t drink.” I was astonished to find this out. I always assumed that they, like all other living organisms on the earth, took in some sort of liquid to help their slimy bodies function. In fact their habitat is almost entirely made up of the one substance that sustains all other life forms on the planet: water.

They are surrounded by water and yet they don’t drink it! They must take it in somehow, either osmosis, or perhaps using a straw when they know no one else is looking, or some method to keep them going. I can’t believe that they have never tasted the clear, crisp goodness that is found in water. Aren’t they the least bit curious in what it tastes like? In case any frogs are reading this and this question has occurred to you, I can tell you this about water: it doesn’t taste like chicken.

Now that we cleared that up, we must come to the horrible realization that, once again, Madison Avenue has lied to us. Remember the whole series of Super Bowl commercials advertising another beverage, which I’ll refer to as B********. These commercials had us believing that the frogs craved this drink so much that they would croak out the product name. All along scientists told us that these calls were for mating purposes, but these commercials disputed that and told us that all the frogs wanted was a beer.

We have all lived in our little naïve worlds since those commercials aired. Ever since that time, we believed that frogs would retire to their favorite watering hole at the end of a long hard day on the pond. Once there, they would knock back a few brews and munch on such happy hour specials as deep-fried mosquito wings (salsa on the side). Now that I know that they don’t drink, I don’t know what to believe in anymore.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Please Don’t Take Us Back, Your Majesty

Your Royal Highness, Queen Elizabeth, I sincerely hope you enjoyed your recent visit to our country. From all the media accounts I have seen, it appears that you had a full schedule with several productive and fun activities. I’m sure that it was a most enjoyable visit, with the exception of one incident.

This week many Americans are talking about President’s Bush gaffe when he introduced you at the White House Rose Garden ceremony on Monday. The public reaction to his insinuation that you visited us in 1776 (and not 1976) has ranged from shock and disbelief to guffaws and exclamations of “Yep, that’s our W!”

While we may never know if he intended it to be a joke, or if it was another example of the President putting his foot in his mouth (he’s elevated this to a science), I for one am grateful that he didn’t launch into a full-fledged monologue. I wouldn’t have been surprised if his next utterance would have been along the lines of, “Your Majesty, was Ben Franklin as randy as the history books say he was? Yuk! Yuk!” I would’ve been shocked, but not surprised.

My point in all this is I hope you don’t hold this incident against the rest of us, the American people. We now know what the rest of the world figured out a long time ago: the man is an idiot. I realize that this could reflect poorly on all Americans since we "voted" him into office not once, but twice. Still, I must point out that 49% of us did not vote him back to the White House.

I’ll never know what the other 51% were thinking when they pulled his lever in 2004, but I want to remind you that not all of us agree with him on everything any more. His most recent approval ratings are now at 39%. I realize that this is a 12-point disparity, so clearly not everyone owns up to voting for him. Obviously, someone is lying. Don’t worry, we will find them. Rest assured we won’t kill them, but we can’t rule out the infliction of deep pain on them.

Still, I can see where this might present a golden opportunity for your country to come back and try to take us under your royal wing again. I can appreciate the temptation to do this. After all, the majority of us were gullible enough to elect him our leader, so your military leaders might see us as ripe for the taking. I fear that your military strategists will figure, “Hey, these Americans won’t put up much of a fight, as long as we don’t take American Idol off the air.”

Here again, I ask that you resist executing this thought. Most of us are bloated and slow moving, and I doubt that we could really add anything of value to Great Britain. Admittedly, we still have a lot of resources to use even after 200 plus years of exploitation. However, if you invade and conquer America – like you tried to do in 1776 - then you must realize we are a package deal. Yes, you’ll get cable tv with on-demand, but you’ll also get the entire Bush administration. Yes, you’ll get to control the liberal media in Hollywood, but you’ll also get people like Paris Hilton and Simon Cowell.

I would strongly advise that you give this a lot of thought, Your Highness. Simon Cowell! Do you really want him back?

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Naming Names in DC

A potential sex scandal was ready to explode in the District of Columbia. It appears that a woman who ran a massage service is now under indictment as the madame of a brothel. She is threatening to reveal her client list in the hope that they will step forward and testify that they did not use her service for sex. Huh-uh! One official with the Bush administration resigned recently when his cell phone number was found on a listing of frequent phone numbers placed to her business phone. So much for stepping forward in her defense...

Anyway, we have no choice but to call the scandal off. The women’s phone list was given to ABC News, who determined that none of the names was “newsworthy”. Bummer! I was so looking forward to a hot summer of salacious rumors snowballing into Congressional investigations, indictments, subpoenas, denials, lies, resignations, and spin, spin, spin. Well, we may get all that anyway if the drive to impeach the Bush administration gains momentum, but it won’t be the same as a nice, juicy sex scandal.

Maybe ABC doesn’t consider the clients newsworthy, but fear not. We won’t let that stop us from publishing a partial list here in arteejee land! It is my hope that publishing such a list will enhance the journalistic credentials of my blog. Naturally I will attempt to do this without the usual journalism techniques of checking and double-checking sources, and verifying facts. Who’s got time for all that?

I am not at liberty to reveal how I obtained these names,* but I think we will find this very interesting.

(DISCLAIMER: Our lawyers have reminded us of the importance of protecting the innocent and the accused before they are accorded due process in a court of law. In that spirit, we have changed the names of those on the Madame’s list. Despite this setback, please rest assured that the truth will come out.)

1. John Doe
2. John A. Doe
3. John E. Doe
4. John I. Doe
5. John O. Doe
6. John U. Doe
7. John Sometimes-Y Doe
8. John Etc. Doe
9. Johnny Comes-Marching-Home Doe
10. John Doe (another one)

Watch this space for further developments on this story!

*Okay, I confess. I made them up.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Several Notes for New Jersey

Oh New Jersey, land of the great tomato, canned soup, cranberry and blueberry bogs, casinos and gamblers, and (of course) a great burial ground for organized crime! Your location is important, as you are a wonderful buffer zone between New York City and those of us here in southeastern Pennsylvania. You have given us such famous people as Abbott and Costello, Wheeler (but not Woolsey), and (of course) Springsteen. Despite the wonders of your state, we must point out several current events that may besmirch your reputation.


Yes, it’s true the governor has recovered enough from his auto accident several weeks ago to go home for further rehab. While it is very nice that he is recovering and his injuries weren’t more serious, we must point out that he is out of the hospital. This means that the vacation from this faster-than-the-sound-barrier convoy is over! The governor expects to be streaking down your highways very shortly, so you may want to be extra cautious on the roads for awhile. While it is not true that the governor will be racing the Blue Angels, his release from the hospital may mean a significant increase in car insurance rates for New Jersey drivers.


The latest chapter in the Jim “I am a gay American” McGreevey saga was unveiled this week when his estranged wife, Dina Matos, published her memoir. This event was further highlighted by an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show. I guess the Jerry Springer Show was all booked up. I can see the title of that show, “My Governor Husband is a Homosexual!”

So now, as loyal members of the American book-buying public, we are suppose to line up and plunk down our hard-earned cash just to read how much McGreevey’s revelation hurt his wife. “Oh, boo-hoo, I’ve been hurt, give me lots of money to make it go away.” I know I shouldn’t knock something that is rapidly becoming the American way, but I am choosing to turn away. What next? Will the McGreevey’s five-year-old daughter write her memoir about her pain? Maybe she’ll be the one member of the McGreevey clan to land on the Springer show.

Meanwhile, I can’t help noticing something about the estranged wife. I’ve noticed that she is a blonde. Mind you, there is nothing wrong with this, but honey, being a blonde is a privilege that should not be abused.

You claim that he never gave any hint that he was gay. No late nights at the office, no mysterious phone calls from males – and not females – asking for your husband, and no other clues that he considered you as nothing more than a beard? I find this hard to believe.

Let’s look at the facts: you were married to a very handsome man, living a fairy-tale existence in the Governors mansion of a great state, and the thought never occurred to you, “This is too good to be true!” Well, it was too good to be true. Now you’re crying foul and poised to turn your pain into gold.

Well, New Jersey, these are the events putting your state into the news this week. True, it does give us a break from hearing about the murder rate in Camden, or on-going corruption probes in Trenton, but this is small consolation for the sordid gossip passing itself off as major issues these days. Ah, such trivial times we Americans live in today!