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

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Monday, March 29, 2010

Yo, Joe Biden Is Still Relevant Here!

Vice President Joe Biden created a bit of an internet stir recently with an off-the-cuff (not to mention off-the-record) remark whispered to President Obama. The occasion was Obama signing the health care reform bill into law. As the ceremony progressed, Biden was overheard saying, “This is a big (expletive) deal.”

Many people reacted with shock, while many others merely shrugged their shoulders. After all, this could be nothing more than a case of you can take the boy out of the anthracite fields, but you can’t take the anthracite fields out of the boy. Or perhaps he got caught up in the historic moment of a Democratic administration actually succeeding in getting something past the GOP. Something this momentous hasn’t happened in...well, it hasn’t happened in this century until last week.

Or it could be a case of Biden trying to keep pace with his predecessor, Dick Cheney. Admittedly, Darth Dick did set the bar very high for the office of the Vice President. Not only did he come off as arrogant most of the time – his face was a perpetual scowl with an Elvis sneer - but he also had his moment or two with expletives. Cheney’s most celebrated incident with cussing happened on the floor of the House. Government decorum has not been the same since.

I don’t think Biden should necessarily emulate the Dickster, but the office of the Vice President has always been a high-wire act between relevancy and duty. The vice president is more than just someone hanging around in case the Commander-in-Chief becomes incapacitated. I’m sure more than one of them in our nation’s history was tempted to do something that would attract attention to themselves. You know, their way of raising their hands high and saying, “Yo, I’m still relevant here.”

They can be an effective liaison between the Executive and Legislative Branches like — yes, I’m serious here — Dan Quayle. Then there are others like Chester Alan Arthur who couldn’t even set one foot inside the door of the White House while President James Garfield was alive. Boy, did that situation backfire, no pun intended.

Dick Cheney was no ordinary vice president. I can appreciate Biden’s dilemma. I prefer to liken it to Shemp taking Curly’s place in The Three Stooges, which was a case of a very capable person having a difficult act to follow. It’s a huge, but not impossible, challenge.

So now that he has cussed in public, whatever can be next on the Vice President’s To Do List? Well, if he still wants to follow Cheney’s lead, he could take a lawyer on a hunting trip. Mind you, this just an idle suggestion. After all, it’s not like someone will miss a lawyer or two if they go hunting know...don’t come back. Yes, this sounds terribly illegal and unethical, but that never stopped Cheney.

(Thank you for reading. Please remember this a big [expletive] deal!)

Friday, March 26, 2010

And The Next Line Is...

I had an attack of the “sillies” recently, or what I’ll define as that irresistible feeling of doing something amusing that in the end doesn’t amount to much except, perhaps, make people smile. There’s nothing heavy here today, but this is something I had to get out of my system. In any case, here are some of my answers/additions/responses to some famous phrases from history and the arts.

“I’ve been to the mountain top...” “...and boy, am I tired!

“To be or not to be...” “...or am I over thinking this!

“I coulda been a contender...” “...I coulda got a liberal arts education and gotta a job as a greeter at Wal-Mart!

“Ask not what your country can do for you...” “...but ask how much this will cost me!

“Today is the first day of the rest of your life...” “...and admit that all your yesterdays were pieces of crap!

“Smile and the whole world smiles with you...” “...but as soon as you screw up we’ll laugh our asses off!"

“Falling in love with you will (expletive) up my plans for becoming President...” “...not to mention making me look like a major dickhead in the history books!

“We’ll always have Paris...” “...because last night you weren’t that great. I don’t know what the hell I ever saw in you!

"The only thing we have to fear...” “ hearing these words on January 20, 2013: ‘I, Sarah Palin, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of the President of the United States...'”

Okay, so it turned from silly to becoming downright ugly in the end, but you get the idea.

(Thank you for reading. Please remember…that sometimes there’s not much to say on the other side of an ellipses.)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Health Care Reform Vote Postmortem

It was a beautiful weekend, almost summer like, which is wonderful considering it is mid-March. There was so much to do outside, and yet the idea of watching history being made led me to check in to the C-SPAN coverage of the health care reform vote several times. I can now say with 100% certainty that I spent a year watching C-SPAN one afternoon.

Why must the forward march of modern democracy be so sluggishly boring? Critics of Obama’s health care reforms insisted that the Democrats hastily pushed this legislation through. Those critics should be reminded that the hasty push took fourteen months to complete. If they still believe that the reform bill was shoved through quickly, then I would encourage them to watch any video from C-SPAN’s coverage of the last day of the debate. A few hours of watching Congress go through the motions, points of order, votes for resolutions, votes for amendments, votes for debate on the resolutions, votes for debate on the amendments ad nauseum should convince them that the excitement of watching legislation moving forward is only exceeded by the cliffhanging drama of watching paint dry!

No wonder I gave up and went to bed early. I missed the big moment of history in the making sometime near midnight, but it only proves the old wisdom that history is made at night. Yes, I realize that that old rationale is actually a double entendre referencing man’s desires below the belt, but it still works.

So congratulations to President Obama and Congressional Democrats for taking the courageous, potentially politically dangerous step forward towards universal health coverage. A pox on those tea partiers who stooped to using racist and hateful language and physical violence on Congresspeople as they entered the Capital building. Kudos to (warning - I am about to say something nice about Fox News) Fox and Friends hosts and leaders of the Tea Party movement for condemning those same acts. They rightfully acknowledged that they must keep all political discourse civil if they hope to have their views taken seriously.

Two personal notes regarding the passage of the health care reform laws...

To Sarah Palin, who recently asked President Obama how that “hopey-changey thing was going”? I think today we can answer that the hopey-changey thing is doing great. Thanks for asking, you betcha!

To Rush Limbaugh, who reportedly has vowed to leave the country when Obamacare becomes law? Rush, call me! Anne Marie and I will be more than happy to travel down to Florida and help you pack! No, just kidding! I wouldn’t be able to drag Anne Marie down to Florida even if I tied her to a pack of rabid tea partiers.

This leaves only the Republicans out in the cold. They are now turning their sour grapes into actions like having the new law declared unconstitutional, repealed, and/or campaign to have those responsible for its passage replaced in November. Nice try, ladies and gentleman, but we have other problems that need our attention now: unemployment, the economy, the environment, not to mention the international challenges facing us.

Perhaps this rhetorical cold water in the face will help them see the situation to which I’m referring. In the midst of the weekend debates, one grandparent e-mailed her opposition to health care reform to one of the media outlets. She felt it would put an undue financial burden on her great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. To her I say this, “Grandma, look on the bright side! Iran may nuke us long before your great-great-grandchildren are ever born!”

It’s time to move on and go forward...

(Thank you for reading. Please remember that hope is a feeling that change is for the better!)

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Health Care Investment

All of the Congresspeople fighting amongst themselves over Obamacare should probably step back and really think about what they’re doing. Both sides agree that, with skyrocketing health care and health insurance costs, the system is broken. Incredibly, only one side believes that reform is called for to fix the problem.

Currently, we have a system where many people don’t have health insurance or are under-insured with the policies they have and therefore are not able to cover all of their health care bills. The health care industry makes up for the payment shortage with aid from the government and/or charging more overhead to the rest of us who do have good coverage. The President has proposed an ambitious — some might say courageous, depending what side of the aisle you’re on — plan to overhaul health care costs, health insurance costs, and make health coverage available to all Americans. The main opposition against the plan, aside from the philosophical argument that such a plan would plunge us into a socialist society, is the cost to future generations.

Interestingly, this is always the argument anyone in Congress will resort to using when it’s an idea that they believe is no good. Democrats largely resisted funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan because of the deficit it would create on the budget. No matter, it was a great idea to the Republican majority and so the wars came to pass. Now Democrats believe they have a great idea which will save lives in the long run, but because the cost will add too much to the deficit the Republicans think it’s a lousy idea.

So where were these Republicans nearly ten years ago when the wars were voted on? They were right where they are now — sitting in Congress with their fingers jammed into their ears, so they cannot hear the arguments of reason for the deficit (then) or health care (now).

The Democrats should argue that the cost is actually an investment in America. It is an investment in America’s health as surely as the recent unemployment extension (opposed by guess who) was an investment in the future of the American work force. This is the way I see it. Any person who has good consistent health care should by all rights be a healthier person. A healthier person should by all rights be a better (i.e., more productive) worker. Higher productivity should by all rights lead to more products and services being sold. This should result in higher revenues, which can either be reinvested in more goods and services or in the workers themselves. All this should generate more government revenue — without, please take note Republicans, an appreciable tax increase — which could be used to pay down the deficit which may or may not have been caused by the investment in America’s health care.

This thinking may be a bit too convoluted for some political philosophies, but it works for me!

(Thank you for reading. Please remember political stubbornness may not be recognized as a pre-existing condition!)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Reagan Bill

Representative Patrick McHenry (R-NC) has introduced legislation that would remove Ulysses S. Grant from the $50 bill and replace him with Ronald Reagan. He argues, ”Every generation needs its own heroes” and that it's time to give a Reagan a place beside Roosevelt and Kennedy. It’s an interesting idea bound to go nowhere, but I wonder who is really behind this idea.

I strongly suspect that this is really the work of the Reagan Legacy Project. This is a group of prominent Reagan admirers who want to have some sort of reminder of Reagan’s greatness in every county of the United States. I hadn’t heard about them in a while, and I assumed that they had faded away.

The Legacy Project has had some success. They got the airport outside of Washington DC named after Reagan, even though his greatest contribution to aviation was firing experienced (but unionized) traffic controllers. President Clinton obliged the project by arranging to have a federal government office building on Pennsylvania Avenue named after Reagan. This was viewed as appropriate at the time of the building’s dedication because of cost overruns and delays that plagued the building during its construction.

Oh yeah, I’ll bet the Legacy Project was smiling about that one.

I had hoped that cooler heads would prevail before it got to the point of naming every other child in the country “Ronald” or “Reagan” (my imagination) or they took a jackhammer to Mt. Rushmore to immortalize the Gipper in granite (don’t laugh, this idea was actually proposed at one time). Now they are going after our money.

I hate to admit it, but McHenry may have a point. We should briefly note the state of American money. Washington is on the $1 bill; Jefferson on the $2; Lincoln on the $5; Alexander Hamilton on the $10; Andrew Jackson on the $20; Grant on the $50; Ben Franklin on the $100; and above that who cares, because no normal American citizen will see anything above Franklin in their lifetime. Do you see a pattern? With the exception of Hamilton (first treasurer) and bon vivant Franklin, the rest served as President. To put it more bluntly: they’re all dead white guys!

Now this is all well and good for the course of American history. After all, these men did contribute much to their America, but we’ve outgrown the colonial notions of who was and who wasn’t important. Back then, you had to be white, male, and own property to vote! Now suffrage has been extended to many other citizens who are members of a multicultural and multiracial melting pot who may not be able to relate to the heritage reflected in the pale kissers found on our paper currency.

In this respect, McHenry has a point: Grant is not necessarily a relevant hero to today’s generation. So let’s just buy into the Legacy Project’s notion that Ronald Reagan is bigger than Christ (italics mine) and take it one step further. Why not enact a system where one of our dollar denominations has a rotating honoree? In other words, every twenty years or so we update the image on the bill with another more contemporary person to honor.

The new image would be determined by an act of Congress. What the hell! As far as I can figure out, Congress hasn’t done anything else for the American people lately. They might as well devote some time contemplating who gets printed on our money. Let them vote on nominees sent in by average Americans via the Internet. And, oh okay, attach a small tax to each vote to ensure the integrity of the process and also help pay down the federal deficit about which we hear so much.

So let Reagan become the new face for the $50 bill. Then in 2030, it will be time to change the face again. Who knows who will qualify as a relevant hero then? It may even be Barack Obama.

The McHenry and the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project should be careful what they wish for...

(Thank you for reading. Please remember that it takes 100 Washingtons to equal one Franklin, which isn’t saying much for Washington.)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Interpreting Nasty Slants

We have all heard complaints about the evil “liberal media”. However, the last 25 years have witnessed conservative coverage of the world at large rise up, giving voice to the so-called silent majority. Many of these conservative outlets have been upfront about the slant of their coverage — with one major exception. Fox News boasts of offering fair and balanced coverage was laughable and easily disproven.

Let’s make the playing field level with this declaration: everyone has a bias. Down at the local level, print and non-print media (newspapers and radio) tend to lean conservative. A more liberal bias can be seen in the national media, but the more savvy outlets will leave the impression that they always present more than one side of the story.

So how can we determine where the bias is in local and national coverage? Simple, it can be found in the language used to tell the story. The lead paragraph — whether printed in a newspaper or read over the radio or television – can offer a good clue as to where the outlet’s bias lies. The following examples are from some recent stories and how they might be reported by various outlets.

Fair and balanced coverage would report: Former Vice President Dick Cheney was hospitalized after experiencing chest pains.

A rabid right-wing conservative outlet (Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck) would report the same story this way: Former Vice President and Freedom Fighting champion Dick Cheney valiantly survived the onset of a suspected heart attack.

A rabid left-wing liberal outlet (Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, and, oh, arteejee) might say it this way: Former Vice President Dick Cheney was recently hospitalized to diagnose the cause of his chest pains and to get his annual booster shot for distemper.

Fair and balanced: President Barack Obama made an appearance at Arcadia University to publicize his healthcare reform proposals to the American public.

The rabid right-wing: Protesters turned out in force against President Barack Obama and his Obamacare proposals when he appeared at Arcadia University to ram passage of his socialist agenda down our throats.

The rabid left-wing: President Barack Obama appeared unto the adoring multitudes at Arcadia University to alleviate concerns the American public have for his health care reform proposals. Reportedly several supporters fainted when they were granted permission to touch the hem of his suit jacket.

Fair and balanced: Tea Party conventioneers in Nashville were treated to appearances by conservative commentators Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin.

The rabid right-wing: Tea Party faithful were roused into heightened fervor by conservative hero Glenn Beck and best-selling conservative author Sarah Palin.

The rabid left-wing: Tea Party supporters met recently in Nashville. Among the highlights were speeches by Hitler-wannabe Glenn Beck and Sarah (let me glance at my palm notes) Palin, as well as the first annual — and eagerly anticipated - Minnie Pearl Memorial Hat contest.

Admittedly, these examples display the combative tones used by many reporters today. At least one reporter (Dick Polman) has decried the nastiness written in the media today, and has called for a return to civility in news coverage. Yeah, good luck with that, Dick!

Unfortunately, this may not happen for awhile because nasty sells (read: is profitable) and — truth be told — it’s fun!

(Thank you for reading. Please remember to update immunizations for your pets and cranky old politicians regularly!)

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Greatest Movie Spoilers

Now that the Oscars have been given out for the year, we’ll continue the cinematic theme by listing some of the greatest movie plot spoilers of all time. We all know what they are and we get warnings about them in the media all the time. Basically, it’s part of a plot summary that reveals, or spoils, key elements of the story to anyone who has never seen the film. Sometimes it’s treated like that ominous warning found on old navigational maps to define uncharted territory: “Here, there be dragons...”

In any case, here is my list of the greatest movie dragons, I mean spoilers, of all time.

1. In any World War II drama, the Germans lose. Always.

2. Boy gets girl, boy keeps girl. This is true for romantic musicals produced in the 1930s.

3. Rick doesn’t get on the plane with Ilsa. In fact, he runs off with a Frenchman.

4. Boy gets girl, boy turns girl into authorities for double murder committed at the beginning of the movie. (Film noir – 1940s).

5. Sometimes, Native Americans will win the battle, but they’ll always get screwed in the end. Only the Germans have a worse losing record.

6. Boy gets girl, girl turns into blood-thirsty maneater after exposure to radioactive material. This is particularly true for science fiction films made in 1950s. However, in real life, it happens all the time.

7. The fighter will realize that his life-long dream of a championship bout is not the most important thing in life as his opponent turns his face into hamburger and his mousy-looking girlfriend pushes her way through a frantic crowd in the boxing ring. This realization, of course, will not prevent the fighter’s character from showing up in six or seven sequels.

8. Moe will slap Curly simply for existing.

9. Rosebud is a sled.

(Thank you for reading! Remember to keep a sharp look out for the dragons in life.)

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Snort Notes – March 2010

Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY) holds up passage of a bill that would extend unemployment benefits for thousands of Americans. Result: economic disaster for families of unemployed workers, government workers are furloughed, Medicare payments to doctors are cut, and people in rural America will not be able to receive their local television stations via their satellite dish.

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? Only Jim Bunning knows!

The Academy Awards this weekend will consider 10 films in the Best Picture category. This is not a new wrinkle. Ten films were always nominated for Best Picture in the early years of the Oscar ceremonies. What is different between then and now is that now the awards ceremony is broadcast coast-to-coast. Just think of it: for the first time people on the east coast will be able to watch the Best Picture prize announced and the sunrise at the same time!

I will not offer any predictions for this year for several reasons. One, I didn’t see any of the films nominated, and two, using Little Miss Sunshine as a punch line has run its course. There is an interesting competition between the two films considered as front runners for the big prize: box office champion Avatar and The Hurt Locker.

Avatar producer/director James Cameron was once married to Kathryn Bigelow, producer/director of The Hurt Locker. I suspect there will be a split: Bigelow will be named Best Director, while Avatar will get Best Picture and all the technical awards. In the case of a tie between the two films and the directors, we may see a knockdown dragged-out fist fight on the awards stage.

Now THAT would be worth staying up to see the sunrise!

An 8.8 magnitude earthquake strikes Chile leaving hundreds dead and creating tsunami tidal waves which threaten other countries in the Pacific Rim

Jim Bunning strikes again!

Grapefruit League for the Phillies begins today when they play the New York Yankees

Today, the Phillies will hopefully teach the Yankees that they can’t win all of their games. Not only that, but they’ll do it without help from Jim Bunning!

Blizzards strike the continent of Europe causing widespread damage and death

This could only be the work of...Jim Bunning!!!!!

(Thank you for reading...unless of course your name is Jim Bunning. In that case, we don’t care what you do.)

Monday, March 01, 2010

Olympic Statistics

Now that the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver are over, it’s time for a summary of recent notable statistics.

Medals won by US: 37

Medals won by Germany: 30

Medals won by Tahiti: N/A

Heart attacks suffered by Dick Cheney: 5

Senate Republicans who remembered they were working for the American people and not the GOP when they voted for a job stimulus bill: 5

Width of ideological chasm between Republicans and Democrats over Obama’s healthcare reform bill before the Blair House meeting: 1,000 feet

Width of ideological chasm between Republicans and Democrats over Obama’s healthcare reform bill after the Blair House meeting: 999 feet, 6 inches

Snowfall total for southeastern Pennsylvania last week: 5 inches

Accumulated snowfall total for southeastern Pennsylvania this winter (so far): unknown, because we don’t have a yardstick long enough for an accurate measurement!

(Thank you for reading. Remember, a bronze medal cannot be converted to a gold medal just by rubbing vigorously.)