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

My Photo
Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Friday, February 26, 2010

Real World: Blair House

Yesterday, President Obama met with Congressional leaders to find some common ground on his health care reform bill. The meeting was significant for several reasons.

First, it did not happen at the White House or Capitol Hill. It was staged in neutral territory at Blair House, technically the President’s guest house. Secondly, it was televised nationally as a symbol of the transparency Obama has promised to the American people.

This idea of transparency could work to either party’s advantage. The Democrats hoped that their efforts to stand firm on the ideas they have agreed to in both houses will galvanize public support for the centerpiece of Obama’s domestic agenda. The Republicans hoped to show that they are not the two-faced, hypocritical obstructionist party-poopers who care more about their friends in the insurance industry than they do for the common good of the American people who do not have health insurance. Good luck with that, GOP, not that I’m biased in any way...

Congressional Republicans want to scrap the entire 2700 page legislation and start over. They reason that then, and only then, can they incorporate their ideas about health care reform. I’m sure there is a healthy amount of skepticism about their motives for this suggestion. They could possibly have the best intentions and truly believe that their ideas should be considered in the final legislation.

Or, more likely, a total scrapping of the current legislation will give them another chance to do what they did all last year. Namely, all last year, they hemmed, they hawed, they blocked, they delayed, and they postponed any action on the bill. If they do this long enough, the Democrats will have nothing to show for the voters in the mid-term elections.

I’m trying very hard not to be biased, but when it comes to Republican motives for wanting to scrap the current plan, count me among the skeptical. Okay, to be honest, I’m not trying that hard!

The fact that it was televised on more than one network should not have excused anyone from watching it. Oh, wait; it was scheduled for the middle of a work day. Still, many American workers (not me) could stream it through their work computers. There is also a major winter storm hitting the northeast again. People had other things on their minds than the summit at Blair House. Also, most importantly, the boredom factor for television viewers was very high.

For example, let’s speculate on what kind of dialogue we could have heard at the summit...

Congressional Republican: Mr. President, in regards to the tax provision for fiscal year 2011 as summarized on page 912, paragraph 3, subsection H, how would you sustain such an increase during the following three years?

Obama: Good question, and I have to be honest, I was just reviewing that point with one of my aides just before we came over here and...

...and BORING! I’m falling asleep just typing these words, and I’m the one making all these words up!

No, this is what I would like to see happen on a nationally televised summit between the Republican and Democratic leaders of this country.

All would be seated as the President strides up to the podium. He would make a few opening remarks, perhaps open with a joke, and then go alpha male on his opponents. First he would remove his jacket and tie, then a la the Incredible Hulk, rip his shirt open! He would throw his chest out defiantly and say, “Okay, let’s get down to business. I’m not here to play shirts and skins with you. I’m here to reform health care in this country.” Then, in an aside to the Vice President loud enough for the entire room to hear: “Joe, lock the doors!”

Okay, maybe this wouldn’t get the desired result Obama wants, but damn, it would be GREAT TELEVISION!

(Thank you for reading! Please remember to make life interesting when the cameras are turned on.)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

“For No One”...and Everyone

Beatles songs are ubiquitous — you can hear them everywhere, and they are suitable for a myriad of occasions. With this in mind, we dedicate the following Beatles songs to some of our favorite people who keep our lives interesting. For example...

The American banking industry, which has accepted untold billions of stimulus money from the federal government to save their bacon, while still handing out millions in bonus pork to their executives, while hogging any and all profits from loan-starved consumers...yes, you guessed it: Piggies.

For Tiger Woods, who delivered a heart-felt apology to all who were offended by his extra-marital behavior: We Can Work It Out.

For President Obama, who will seek bipartisanship on his health reform proposals later this week: With a Little Help From My Friends.

For NASA, who are counting down their last four space shuttle launches to the space station; and finding no more money budgeted for further endeavors along these lines, will look to the stars with a longing, burning desire for long distance space travel. Not today, then perhaps some day: Across The Universe.

For the Lower Merion School District, who are now facing legal action for their alleged use of school-issued lap top computers to spy on their students at home: I’m Looking Through You.

For millions of television viewers who will anxiously stay up to see Jay Leno’s return to the Tonight Show within a few weeks: I’m So Tired.

For the Democrats in Congress who can’t act as a unified unit to get President Obama’s domestic agenda passed: Nowhere Man.

For the Republicans in Congress who are putting their own interests ahead of the common good of the American people — the same people who voted them into office in the first place: Fool On The Hill.

For Toyota, who suddenly find more of their products in the shops than on the roads because of various brake and accelerator problems: Drive My Car.

(Thank you for reading. Please remember the proper use of the word “ubiquitous”, because I can’t.)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Olympic Ambivalence

The one question I have heard most this week is, “Have you been watching the Olympics?” Usually I just shake my head, which is enough for the questioner to try another subject for conversation or move on to another person in the room entirely. I have found that they have better luck with the next person in answering their query. Which is fine with me, but it got me wondering why I am so ambivalent about the Olympic Games.

I have thought maybe it’s due to my unathletic physique. I’m not prone to participating in sports, so why should I watch them? Then I realized that is not a totally fair explanation; after all I do like baseball and Philadelphia Phillies baseball in particular. So I am highly biased to just one sport. That’s not a capital crime...not yet anyway.

Am I just too lazy to watch the games on television? Yes, I will plead guilty to this charge. Our television is in the basement, and yes it is quite an endeavor to walk up not one, but two flights of stairs at bedtime.

Or could my interest in the Olympics have been stunted by some childhood trauma? Maybe an incident in my past has squelched my enthusiasm for this display of semi-professional sports. No, it’s not anything in my past, but in the Olympics past which may have influenced me. For this I offer as evidence Mexico City and Munich.

The first Olympics of which I was first conscious — mainly because it was televised — was the 1968 Summer Games in Mexico City. It was an interesting time to come of age in American history. Everyone over thirty was a member of “The Establishment” who were war-like creatures. Everyone younger than that just wanted peace, love and pot. Yes, all the generational conflicts fought over the war in Vietnam and racism on the streets of America was just as clear cut as that.

The conflicts even descended on the Olympics. I remember one controversy erupted when two black Americans, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, won the major medals for the Men’s 200 Meter race. As they stood on the podiums for the National Anthem, they did not put their hands over their hearts, but rather raised their clenched fists in a display of “Black Power”. This gesture accomplished two goals: the athletes showed solidarity with their brothers and sisters back in America, and it pissed off the Establishment (see above). Boy, did it piss off the Establishment...

Then, four years later, more political theater was played out in Munich. This time, however, the gesture was not a relatively peaceful show of defiance, but outright mass murder. Terrorists took the Israeli Olympic team hostage. German authorities tried to rescue the hostages, but to no avail. All 11 hostages died in the rescue attempt. It was probably the darkest day in the history of the Olympics.

Political intrigue was nothing new to the Olympics in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Hitler made sure that the 1936 Berlin Games were non-stop Nazi propaganda from start to finish. His next movements in the years that followed ensured the cancellation of all Olympic Games for 1940 and 1944. We can officially consider Hitler a spoil sport, among other things.

So, in one regard, the Olympics to me have been little more than an excuse for one country or another to score political points. This is sad, because it steals the glory from the young athletes who train for years to get to the Games. I am sympathetic to their hard work, and it’s not like I can totally escape hearing something about the winter games currently unfolding in snow-challenged Vancouver.

I am happy that the American skier Lindsey Vonn won the gold despite her bruised shin. I was saddened at the death of the luge athlete from Georgia. We should take some consolation from the idea that he died doing something he loved.

Yet, I can’t bring myself to plop down in front of the TV and watch it. Perhaps this is my loss...

(Thank you for reading. Please remember and cherish the wonderful diversity found in all nations and their people.)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Battling Veeps

There is something unbecoming about a very public spat between two grown men. I can accept feuds real or imagined, conjured up by a public relations firm between two entertainers (Jack Benny and Fred Allen as an example), or even pre-event posturing between two sports figures (Muhammad Ali and everyone else as another example). These two cases at least had a monetary goal in mind: radio ratings and selling tickets to a world class boxing match. This leaves me to wonder what will be the end result of the verbal sparring between Vice President Joe “Fightin'” Biden and former Vice President Dick “Mad Dog” Cheney.

Cheney has criticized the Obama administration's war on terror before, so his latest salvos were nothing new. His rhetorical assault on Obama began after the Christmas Day bomber was apprehended in Detroit. Conservative talk radio pounced on the incident as an indication that Obama was soft on terror.

Unfortunately, the bungled bombing attempt highlighted major shortcomings in the Department of Homeland Security’s terrorist list. The list has over a half-million names with few identification numbers (like Social Security if applicable) and very few photos to visually verify the alleged culprit. Given this list, it doesn’t seem practical for airport security personnel to check a name against every passenger preparing to board a flight. These are short-comings that Obama inherited from the Bush administration. Yet Obama, being a stand-up leader, accepted responsibility anyway, even though it was not a problem his administration created.

What was new was the frequency and ferocity of the statements, starting with Biden answering Cheney’s earlier criticisms. Biden taped his appearance on NBCs Meet the Press, and within hours Cheney responded to Biden’s remarks on ABCs This Week. Who could blame Biden for being defensive? After all, Cheney is his predecessor, who had more than ample time to resolve the problems that he himself now declares are being mishandled.

Isn’t it a bit late for Cheney to act like a Monday morning quarterback?

According to Cheney, Obama is not taking the al-Qaeda threat seriously enough when he prepares to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay and plans to try terrorists in civilian courts and not military tribunals. Perhaps it's time we pointed out something to Mr. Cheney. The administration for which he worked took the threat of al-Qaeda less seriously when they diverted military resources away from Afghanistan for the comedy of errors that became known as the regime change in Iraq.

Al-Qaeda was more dominant (with the ruling Taliban’s blessing) in Afghanistan. They were not as dominant in influence — at that time — in Iraq. The Bush administration was able to oust the Taliban and they could have dismantled al-Qaeda once and for all. But no, we had to look away and focus on the mirage that was the weapons of mass destruction under Saddam Hussein.

Biden has dismissed Cheney’s remarks as someone trying to rewrite history, and obviously the debate of who gets to write this history is the crux of their conflict. Biden has a point, but we hasten to remind the current veep that only the victorious get to write history. The United States involvement in the war on terror is still in its infancy. It is bound to continue for years, perhaps generations. It is not time yet to write or re-write history.

So, gentlemen, put your daggers down, and sharpen your swords for the common enemy of intolerance who awaits us.

(Thank you for reading. Please remember to live for the day, and leave history to the grandchildren.)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Sarah Palin Watch: Part One - Todd Saves the World!*

Sarah Palin has certainly been busy lately! Her book tour is over as her memoir falls down the bestseller list, but fear not, she is still seeking to maintain her relevance in conservative America. Most recently she spoke at the Tea Party convention in Nashville, an event enjoyed by both her fans and liberal critics.

The event, the stories which came out of it, and other Palin related reports have given everyone a lot to talk about lately. Her speech was well received by the Tea Baggers as she fired up their efforts while humorously mocking the President of the United States. Her line, “How’s that hopey, changey thing going?” got a laugh and applause from the audience. Those of us in the liberal blogosphere have been noting it as an example of how far the intelligence of political discourse has fallen.

Then there were some embarrassing reports about Sarah. She had a question and answer session at the convention, during which she was seen staring at her hands for long moments of time. It has since been discovered that she had key words and phrases written on her palms to help her answer questions from the audience. Imagine, a politician openly consulting crib notes, and this was after she lambasted Obama for using a teleprompter for his speeches. Shocking!

Around the weekend of the convention, the evil liberal media published reports about her husband Todd's involvement in her administration when she served as the governor of Alaska. Apparently, Todd was more than just a stay-at-home spouse. The reports found e-mails between husband and governor which detailed how she consulted him about certain policies and how he lobbied (in one case) to punish a newspaper which was critical of her work.

Actually, as a man also named Todd, I see a silver lining in these reports. It would be wonderful if these e-mails turn out to be authentic. Imagine, a man named Todd was actually called upon to decide policy over a functioning governing entity. This is a milestone with global implications for every man named Todd!

This doesn’t happen everyday! Go ahead, search through the history books and see how many world leaders named Todd you can find. Don’t think too hard about this, because there aren’t any; I already looked!

This story will probably fade away, but if the Democrats are smart they’ll remember and use this information in 2012. If Palin decides to run for President, the Democrats could revive the “3am phone call” ads used against Obama to point up his alleged inexperience in handling international crises.

The scene is the White House, after midnight. The phone rings, and President Palin wakes to answer the call. She is told that Israel has attacked Iran, and Iran has retaliated with a nuclear strike against Israel and everyone else. She is asked for a decision as Commander-in-Chief. Should we mobilize our forces? If so, how many and where? The ad would end with Palin waking up her husband and saying, “Todd, honey, it’s for you!”

So much for that hopey, changey thing!

*This may or may not be the first in a series of entries following the exploits of Sarah Palin, because gosh darn, she’s our favorite, I mean...celebrity nut job.

(Thank you for reading! Please remember, Todds are everywhere!)

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Snort Notes – February 2010


On a totally unrelated note, Punxsutawney Phil has entered the witness protection program. Speaking of cruelty to animals...


A Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania dog groomer was recently convicted of animal cruelty after selling “gothic kittens”. She would pierce their ears and insert ear rings through the holes, much like teenagers and young adults pursuing the goth lifestyle would do. Another example of niche marketing going too far!

I’ll pause in my narrative here to give any cats reading this a chance to sharpen their claws in anger at this woman.

The most bizarre part about this story is that the defense attorney argued for dismissal of the charges because pet owners should not be held to a higher standard than parents who allow their children to get their ears pierced. Hey, with logic like this, he’s a shoo-in to be elected judge. Hey, wouldn’t you know it? There are a couple bench vacancies in that part of the state due to the ongoing judicial corruption probe of Judges...oh, I forgot their names again.

I guess I could look them up, but I’m feeling a bit lazy today. Let’s just rename them. Henceforth in this blog we shall refer to them — in the spirit of all the young lives they destroyed just to make a buck - as Judge Asshole #1 and Judge Asshole #2! Better yet, sentence the attorney to hundreds of hours of community service in a local animal shelter.


In a totally unrelated development, the entire Colts organization has entered the witness protection program.


We want a rematch with the Yankees in the World Series. This time...IT’S PERSONAL!!!!!!


On a totally unrelated note, President Obama’s health care reform bill has entered the witness protection program.

(Thank you for reading! As snowflakes fall and cold winds howl please remember: summer is just a spring away!)

Friday, February 05, 2010

Punxsutawney Phil and His Blogosphere Fans

Once again, Punxsutawney Phil has predicted six more weeks of winter. The reaction has been the same as in previous years. The crowd at Gobblers Knob — who are most likely inebriated - cheered. Animal rights groups decried the way Phil is manhandled at the event. Then there are Phil’s fans in the blogosphere, but more about them later.

For the record I will phrase my reaction this way: “Six more weeks of winter? Oh, duh!"

I’ve already written about Phil and his annual weather report. I’ve suspected for years that he cheats and consults the calendar before he is lifted out of his burrow to make his big announcement. He could play it safe and just predict, “There will be four more weeks of February, followed by four weeks of March, after that you’re on your own.”

Of course, this wouldn’t sit well with the organizers of Groundhog Day, who count on him to bring a major infusion of financial stimulus to this small, western Pennsylvania town. They might think that ole Phil is losing his touch, even though this prediction would be totally accurate. Any breach of faith in Phil could be a life-changing experience for him. They could replace him.

That would mean the end of his pampered lifestyle. No more all-he-can-eat greens. No more Swedish massages on demand. No more 24/7 groundhog porn. Worse, he would become an unemployed rodent! He would be another statistic, another casualty of this on-going recession. How would he survive? How would he file for unemployment benefits? I shudder at all of the hardships he would have to endure.

Many people are naturally disappointed at Phil’s prediction of a long winter and its attendant cold temperatures. As it turns out, many of those disappointed rodent watchers write blogs. Many of these blog writers, coincidentally, own guns. These people, not surprisingly, are not afraid to speak their mind. They have made it known to one and all that they would be more than happy to terminate any misery Phil might suffer from a job loss.

However, Phil is a trooper! After all, this is show business! So he ignores the explicit death threats, pooh-poohs the idea of animal cruelty leveled at his handlers, plays along with being hoisted out of his hole once a year to an adoring throng of thousands gathered on Gobblers Knob, and millions more watching on television. He doesn’t care...just keep the rodent sex shows going on his television.

(Thank you for reading! Please remember meteorological policy is not determined by an overgrown rat!)

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Will Sleep With Anyone with a Good RX Plan

I had a cousin who was unable to be employed full-time due to a terminal health condition. As a widowed mother with two children, she was constantly searching for a companion who could give her family financial security. One method my cousin would use was to look for BMWs on the road. After all, “Beamers” were a status symbol, and surely any man who could afford to own one would be making enough money to support her.

Ah, but how times have changed! The old status symbols — the expensive car, the time share in Aruba, or the robust stock portfolio — are falling by the wayside. Soon we may have people looking for other qualities in a partner. No, we’re not talking about love necessarily, but health insurance.

Teri Carlson could be starting a new trend. This attractive, middle-aged divorcee from southern California is offering herself to anyone with a good health plan. Her situation is dire.

She suffers from a rare genetic disorder, C4 complement deficiency, which renders her body incapable of processing bacteria. The result is that her body fights itself. She is unable to get insurance on her own, and has one year left on her COBRA policy.

Carlson has advertised her plight on You Tube, where she is seen counting out 19 different prescriptions she takes on a regular basis. This doesn’t include the antibiotics or the plastic tub full of over the counter medications she shows off in her posting. She states that interested candidates should not send pictures, but please do send copies of your health insurance policy.

Those sounds you hear are the voices of thousands of short male geeks shouting, “Where has this woman been all my life!” I can’t help but wonder if other women in a similar situation will follow her lead just to get health insurance. Oh, to be a fly on the wall for this first date...

WOMAN: So, tell me a little about yourself.

MAN: Well, I’m a junior partner at a prestigious law firm in Center City, my brother and I are restoring a 200 year old farmhouse in Bucks County and...

WOMAN: Okay, enough about you! Give me a few details about your health insurance. Does it cover pre-existing conditions? What are the co-pays on your prescriptions? Answer the second question first.

MAN: Oh, well, the co-pays are low...ten to thirty dollars depending if it’s generic or not...but I must be up front with you. I’m not out of the closet and actually I’m looking more for a beard than a spouse.

WOMAN: Oh! This is so sudden! I don’t know what to say! Say you’ll marry me!

And so on...

President Obama could arrange a similar blind date for members of Congress, if nothing more than to get them talking about the health care reform, which is now on the back burner.

DEMOCRATIC CAUCAS: So tell us something about yourselves!

REPUBLICAN CAUCAS: Well, we’re very upwardly mobile, we’re presently serving as junior partners for the greatest democracy on the planet, but we’re expecting a promotion after the mid-term elections this November...

DEMOCRATIC CAUCAS: Oh, enough about you. Tell you think bipartisanship is sexy?

REPUBLICAN CAUCAS: Bipartisanship? Eww…gross!

Or...maybe not.

Still, this could totally change the dynamics of relationships in the near future. Instead of accusations like I never loved you in domestic spats, we might hear something like I only married you for your low deductible! It could become legitimate grounds for divorce if a spouse hits the lifetime maximum on their policy!

Seriously, this whole episode brings to mind an element of the health care reform debate which I have not heard in awhile: health insurance that is not tied to a person’s employment. I don’t know if this was part of the public option the teabaggers killed, or if it was part of the insurance exchanges which would cross state jurisdictions. Its absence from the debate is frightening.

If the only way Americans can have health insurance is through their gainful employment, then any sort of job layoff which would deny them affordable coverage could literally be a death sentence for those with a life threatening condition. I’m not trying to put more pressure on any employers who might be reading this, and who are mulling over a massive layoff. On the other hand, I don’t think I am over dramatizing this scenario either. Teri Carlson is living proof of this national health care crisis.

Good luck, Ms. Carlson!

(Thank you for reading. Please remember life is a pre-existing condition!)