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

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Mama Grizzlies and The Choice

The up and coming crop of tea party politicians challenging the Democratic majority in Washington and the Republican establishment features two controversial personalities, both women - Christine O’Donnell from Delaware, and Sharron Angle in Nevada. These two have been portrayed in the liberal media as spoilers at best to their own party leadership and witches at worst to everyone else. The most apt label for them is one coined by their mentor from the great white north, Sarah Palin. The voices of the angry female electorate are no longer soccer moms, but rather mama grizzlies.

Both are aggressive, charismatic, and take full advantage of the American political system to gain power. Bear in mind: this is the same political system which would have prohibited them from getting close to a ballot box 100 years ago. They are part of the New Feminist voices heralded by the conservative pundits. Make no mistake - these are not the bra-burning rebels of yore who advocated for reproductive rights and economic equality. Rather, they are pushing values going back further to the days when American society was decidedly patriarchal.

We all remember those days, don’t we? Well, for those of us who have forgotten our history, or are just too damn tired at the end of the day to stay up to watch Mad Men, here’s a recap. This was back when women were expected to be seen and not heard; stay at home to bear and raise the children; have a hot meal ready for the hard-working breadwinner of the family when he came home at night; and if the breadwinner decided to stay out all night living out his Hugh Hefner fantasies, the woman accepted this as fair leisure time for which the man worked so hard. These were the days when, if the woman broke free of the home apron strings for a career, then she was expected to settle for wages payable at $.49 for every dollar her male counterpart earned and be a good sport when the boss (usually male in those days) would take the liberty of slapping her playfully on the arse.

Oh, THOSE patriarchal values! Yes, as in values from the Stone Age!

Both O’Donnell’s and Angle’s statements on health care reform and big government are part of the tired mantra we have heard from the tea party people this year. Their shared stand on a woman’s right to choose is frightening...medieval frightening. Angle believes that rape victims should not be able to get an abortion. She has been noted as saying that rape victims should see their pregnancies to full term because it is “part of God’s plan”. She argues that in this way victims could make “a lemon situation into lemonade”.

Oh, there’s a yummy sound bite! Comparing a violent assault to a sweet, summertime treat! It’s enough to make me wanna pucker!

Any pregnancy resulting from forced sexual intercourse is just the tip of the punishment the victim must endure. The emotional and psychological damage is far more reaching, and usually unseen by those close to the victim. Many women would exercise the choice (oh, there’s that awful “c” word again) and keep the baby. Others, however, might resent the idea that they are required to carry a child by someone who violated them through to birth.

The rape victim could terminate the pregnancy themselves, and thus further endanger their lives. Would O’Donnell and company see such a casualty as acceptable, collateral damage? If every possible option is considered, then we should not discount the idea of suicide. The accidental mother could end her suffering and stop the life of the unborn child.

This is an ugly scenario, but it is always a possibility.

Thus it is with this and other conservative issues that these female bears are pushing forward to Election Day, even as their ideas threaten to push society backwards. They rail against big government, but when it comes to outlawing a woman’s right to choose, big government intrusion suits them just fine. Confused? You’re not alone! I can’t figure out this hypocrisy either, but it is quite common on the right side of the political spectrum.

(Thank you for reading. Please remember, tea with honey feels good on the throat, but beware! It can also draw hungry bears with big, nasty teeth!)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Defining Hallowed Ground

The term hallowed ground has been tossed back and forth in the ongoing debate about the proposed Muslim community center near ground zero. Opponents have used the term in reference to ground zero almost as if it were the holiest of holy sites. The majority of sane thinking people can agree on a definition of hallowed ground, but the term itself can be applied broadly.

We would probably all agree that Arlington National Cemetery (or any cemetery for that matter) is hallowed. The same could be said for any number of Revolutionary War and Civil War battle sites in the United States. Still other areas could show the term sliding from the sublime to the ridiculous.

A fervent sports fan might consider the stadium where their home team plays as hallowed ground. Many baseball fans might believe that the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY is a high holy shrine. I myself could easily see the Heinz Ketchup plant in Pittsburgh, PA as a building worthy of worship.

Okay, these are extreme examples, but it shows how readily the concept can be abused. So, what should we consider hallowed ground in lower Manhattan? Where should we draw the line between a place of reverence and a locale where everyday life can continue? Have we drawn these boundaries on a map yet? Or are the lines of demarcation fuzzy and prone to relocating according to whichever political agenda we choose to keep at the moment?

The current plans call for the community center to be built two blocks AWAY from ground zero, not AT ground zero. This is a very important differentiation. One side argues that the location is beyond the concept of hallowed ground, while the other maintains that two blocks away from ground zero fits the same definition as ground zero.

Once we determine the actual boundaries of ground zero (naturally by way of Congressional resolution), then we could determine what activity is appropriate within those boundaries. Given that many community center opponents would consider themselves Christians, then it’s only fitting that we follow Jesus’ example for a possible determination of a correct activity.

The Scripture states that Jesus drove the moneychangers (merchants) out of the temple (John 2:13-16 et al). Following in this tradition, we could create a buffer zone between ground zero and the area where normal life begins again. Then, to satisfy the center's opponents, we should suspend all economic activity for whatever radius (six blocks, ten blocks, twenty blocks, etc.) we (meaning Congress) proclaim as sacred. After all, what could be more sacrilegious than satisfying our lust for material wealth on “hallowed ground”?

We’re talking about a wide a swath of premium Manhattan real estate right at the heart of America’s leading financial district. This means goodbye to ten or so Starbucks outlets, which is probably hallowed ground to those addicted to caffeine. Adios to several McDonald’s, that great tabernacle of artery-clogging fast food! Close up, Wells Fargo and Citi Bank! Take your temples of capitalistic excess out of our sight.

Think of it! All businesses within this zone shut down! All employment opportunities gone! Lost revenue in real estate rental, leases, and taxes? Oh, most likely, that would run into the billions of dollars each year! Block after block of empty buildings, shuttered and inviting to vandals and squatters. What a welcome sign to all those who would have to wander through in order to pay their respects at ground zero!

Is this a bad idea? To paraphrase one celebrated community center opponent, “You betcha!” Yet this could be the only feasible compromise between those who want to make a strong statement against al-Qaeda, and those who are trying to make political points at the expense of religious freedom. Ironically, this would accomplish one objective that the terrorists set out to do when they flew into the Twin Towers: disrupt American commerce. As I’ve noted before, any attempt to move the community center away from ground zero could be interpreted as a victory for the terrorists.

(Thank you for reading. Please remember, with opposing sides so far apart, there is plenty of room for everyone to meet in the middle!)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Good Worker Sam

As part of Anne Marie’s birthday gift this year, my cats and I treated her to a Philadelphia Phillies game. This is becoming an annual event: we go to one game per year, even though we would love to go more often. We also splurge since we only do it once a year. Instead of taking SEPTA to the game with a long hike between train stations, we hire a limousine. It’s a nice treat, and this year it’s how we met our driver, Sam.

We only knew him for 45 minutes, but in that amount of time we learned a lot about Sam and his life. He was very talkative and personable. He told us about a few of his driving experiences with the limousine company (including being stopped by the highway patrol on the Schuylkill Expressway), where he lives (a condo where all he does is sleep), his family (four children), and some of his encounters with the health care industry.

Sam claimed that he earns anywhere from $25-30K per year driving a limo. He works more than full time – 7 days a week. Last year, he worked four jobs and only earned $17K for the year. Even with his driver earnings, he told us he can’t afford health insurance and practically lives off of the 99 cent meal deals at McDonalds.

He complained about the association fees for his condo near Norristown. Anne Marie, being a former condo owner in Virgina, empathized with him. He told us he is looking to refinance, or possibly sell the condo altogether.

Before we learned all this though, Anne Marie played a guessing game with him. She detected an accent and tried to ascertain from which country he came. After a half dozen guesses, Sam finally admitted that he is from Egypt.

Egypt is where his children live, children he hasn’t seen in 1.5 years. Egypt, according to Sam, has less economic opportunity than the United States at the moment. Bear in mind, our unemployment rate is near 10%, and we’re sweating out the possibility of rising deficits. Yet with all this, we are still better off than Egypt, as per Sam.

By his accounting, Sam is a good, hard working man. Neither Anne Marie nor I asked about his immigration status, or his religious beliefs. That didn’t matter to us, because he is just a human being looking for a better life for himself and his family.

I couldn’t help wondering since that ride how people like him will get caught up in America’s current xenophobic mood. Will his accent make people uncomfortable around him? It would be their loss! Sam and millions like him are real people who came here to take advantage of America’s promise of peace and prosperity. They are not the faceless numbers that those adopting the hard line approach in our current immigration reform debate love to denigrate.

Once they discover his nationality, will they think of him as one of those Muslims who according to the witches and warlocks of fear (namely Palin, Beck, Limbaugh and Gingrich) are trying to take over our so-called Christian nation? As I stated above, we didn’t even ask him about his beliefs, but fearful people being fearful people will most likely profile him as a possible terrorist. This would be a great shame, because Sam, from all appearances, is on his way to becoming a credit to whichever country he finally calls home.

Good luck, Sam!

(Thank you for reading. Please remember, never fear to question everything you read and hear. The answers can only enrich your life.)

Friday, September 17, 2010


This marks a milestone: my 500th blog entry. I should take the opportunity to reflect on the accomplishments of my last hundred entries or so. I believe I have — more or less — stayed true to my beliefs and values during the course of this year. This has included confounding conservatives, parodying Palin, roasting Republicans, snickering at all of the faux celebrities afflicting our culture, and — in one memorable entry — I tore down the Statue of Liberty.

I didn’t actually tear it down; I just proposed that we should do it if we, as a nation, are truly serious about kicking out all of the illegal aliens living in our midst. This proposal drew one criticism from someone who didn’t have the cojones to give their real name. Now, as part of my milestone entry, I will remind my critic (he or she called me an “idiot”) that that entry, like many of my entries, are a work of satire. While you contemplate that idea, please also add these words to your vocabulary list: sarcasm, facetiousness, and parody. Please feel free to use these words in a sentence or sentences.

As for everyone else who has left comments, please accept my thanks for the time you took to write. The responses to my tribute to Dr. Mary Kenny Badami were deeply appreciated. And, oh yes, last but not least, my closest friend from college days, Janey. Keep up the good work, girlfriend!

Now the fun part of this entry. I will now endeavor to amuse and bemuse you with a number of facts about me which very few people know. I have been very cautious about revealing too much about my private life since I began writing this blog; after all, it is the Internet, and everyone can see anything any one lays down on the world wide information superhighway. Many other bloggers constantly write about their personal lives. Today is my turn.

1. I didn’t date in high school.

2. I own a copy (annotated, if that makes a difference) of Mein Kampf. (No, Mr. Beck, you cannot have it! Get your own!)

3. I consider myself a moderate Democrat, although many conservatives will swear that there is no such animal. To them, all Democrats are left-leaning socialists, but that’s okay. After all, we consider many conservative Republicans right wing nutjobs.

4. I do volunteer work once a week at Reading for the Blind and Dyslexic – Learning Through Listening.

5. Over the course of my lifetime, I have collected vinyl records, shot glasses, and silent movies. Among my current hobbies are model building and thinking up insulting things to say about Rush Limbaugh.

6. I have an aversion to crowds. This might be due to my shy, introverted nature, which could have been aggravated by an incident that happened to me in my schoolyard when I was a first grader. Long story...details later...much later.

7. I have been writing short satirical pieces since high school. I would fill my school district supplied tablets (rare for districts to be able to afford that today) with Pythonesque stream-of-consciousness sketches in study hall.

8. I was active in theater while attending Bloomsburg University. Sang in chorus and small speaking parts in musicals: Oklahoma, Show Boat, The King and I, Carousel, Die Fleidermaus, and South Pacific.

9. I wear Velcro strap shoes with orthotic inserts because I never mastered the art of tying my shoe laces.

(Thank you for reading. Remember, it’s good to bare the soul...once in a great while.)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Post Mortem: The 9/11 Anniversary

The 9th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks came amid much apprehension, occurred with calls for unity and tolerance between faiths, and passed with little controversy and acts of violence. The majority of Americans marked the day solemnly in memory of those lost in the attack. There were some hopeful signs that tolerance was being practiced, but there were also acts which marred the ceremonies.

Opponents of the Manhattan mosque used the 9/11 events as another opportunity to politicize the day and further their agenda. It was hoped that we as a nation could pause long enough to mourn our dead without getting up on a partisan soap box. Alas, it was not to be.

More importantly Qurans were not burned, although American flags were torched in other parts of the world. Reverend Terry Jones kept his word not to burn the Quran. Later, he expressed his disappointment when he learned that the relocation of the Manhattan mosque was not part of the deal as he had been led to believe. Still, there was a sign of good will and outreach from Jones. Television news footage showed him shaking hands with the Imam from Florida, an act that I didn’t expect to see considering Jones has previously preached that “Islam is of the devil”.

I repeat: NO COPIES OF THE QURAN WERE HARMED DURING THE 9/11 WEEKEND. Many political and religious leaders stressed the point that such an act would be an intolerable desecration of other people’s beliefs. Unfortunately, Islamic protestors in Kashmir and other areas did not receive this message.

In a preemptive demonstration, the protesters burned Reverend Jones in effigy. I can appreciate that act; it is a dramatic and dynamic show of defiance. Then they burned the American flag and chanted, “Death to America”. This was all in response to Reverend Jones’ announced intentions to burn the Quran, which I repeat DID NOT HAPPEN. In the past, many Americans have burned the flag in an act of civil disobedience. Everyone recognizes the intense emotions aroused by this action. Most people would also agree that the burning of the flag was a desecration on par with the burning of the Muslim sacred text.

Ironically, the protests in the Far East could be interpreted as an affirmation of Muslim critics that Islam is a violent religion. I can just hear the chorus of “I told you so!” rising up from the evangelical Christian pulpits now. God, how I hate when that happens!

It has been noted that the gap between Muslims and other faiths in America is wider now than in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Hate crimes against mosques have been reported around the country. There has also been an increase in job discrimination complaints from the American Muslim community.

It’s all a matter of public relations. The overseas riots only fueled the fires of misunderstanding Americans have about Islam. America also has a public relations problem in many — if not all — Muslim countries. Both sides have much to teach the other. Both sides have a lot to learn from the other.

(Thank you for reading. Please remember to listen...and learn.)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Faith in the Wrong Hands

The 9th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks is upon us as a day to remember those loved ones America lost that day. This year feels different from the observances in the past. This year, the ceremonies are happening in an environment of bigotry and prejudice not against the attackers, but against the religious culture they believed in: Islam.

Regardless of whether we call ourselves Christians, Jews or Muslims, our beliefs are rooted in faith. Faith can be a good thing. It helps people cope with the day-to-day insanity known as modern life. Faith may not always give us an adequate reason why things happen the way they do, but it can help us understand that life isn’t always meant to favor us.

Then there are those who twist faith to reinforce their own bigotries and prejudices, even when such thinking flies in the face of the scriptural beliefs they claim they are following. The 9/11 attacks are an excellent example of what can happen when religious faith is twisted around. In the ensuing years, many in the evangelical Christian community have used the attacks to prove their belief that Islam is a violent religion. Forgetting all about the Crusades — when Christians and Muslims slaughtered each other — these same religious groups insist that their ideas are sound. Now it’s the Christians twisting their faiths.

Witness the following: the ongoing "mosque at ground zero" controversy has escalated into angry confrontations between followers from both sides, and there has been an increase in violence against mosques in Tennessee and California. This week, evangelical Christian leader Reverend Terry Jones vowed to burn copies of the Quran on 9/11 in his ongoing tirades against Muslim beliefs. His plans are on hold — at least at this moment in time, but stay tuned - pending the outcome of his meeting with the imam in Manhattan who wants to build the Islamic community center near, not at, ground zero. His planned bonfire has also been condemned by every right thinking civilized person with more than half a brain and a modicum of common sense all over the world.

There’s no escaping this conclusion: Islam has replaced the Nazis as the group Americans love to fear and loathe. The events mentioned above are all symptoms of the Islamophobia growing in the country. Even President Obama hasn’t escaped its wrath.

People who dislike President Obama have adopted the false notion that he is secretly Muslim. They can’t hate him for the color of his skin, oh no, that would make them racists. So they put the Muslim label on him, and now it’s okay to hate the president. It’s funny how Obama suddenly became a Muslim some time this year. It seems like only yesterday when he was catching flak for associating with an evangelical preacher who was taped espousing hatred against America. Back then, Obama was (and for the record still is) a Christian. The President can’t catch a break anywhere.

Fortunately, responsible religious leaders from all faiths are banding together this weekend to counter act the waves of hatred overwhelming America. A number of churches have plans to read from the Quran, in hopes of raising understanding about the true nature of Islam, and not the counterfeit beliefs that groups like al-Qaida can only spread through the use of violent intimidation. Their actions show that faith can be destructive in the wrong hands.

Speaking of wrong hands, I truly hope like most of the civilized world, that Reverend Jones cancels his Quran burning permanently. Perhaps the hundreds of death threats he has received won’t sway him. Perhaps the condemnations from the White House, political, military, and religious leaders won’t change his mind. Perhaps not even the possibility of Divine Providence - think a strategic bolt of lightning - won’t deter him from his nefarious plans.

Maybe this idea will convince him: Reverend Jones, Jesus is looking at you...and boy, he looks pissed!

(Thank you for reading. Please remember respect for religious faith begins with each one of us. Oh, but it’s still okay to continue loathing the Nazis!)

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Snort Notes – September 2010


Okay, there is good news and bad news to be learned from this incident.

The good news is he survived. Perhaps, once he recovers from what may be lifelong injuries, he’ll be able to become a productive member of society again. His fall amounted to over 400 feet, and it is estimated that his speed was 120 miles per hour when he landed on a parked vehicle. This is surely a world record worthy of a notation in Guinness. The notoriety from his act may also lead to — drum roll, please — a reality TV show!

The bad news is he survived. Obviously, his life was a major source of disappointment and he couldn’t bear the idea that nothing went right for him. Maybe he lost a job, a love, his life savings, and/or his shelter. He could have concluded that no matter what he did, he couldn’t do anything right. Well, now he can add suicide to his list of failures!

How will he live with the idea that he can’t succeed at killing himself? The man will most likely be referred for psychiatric treatment. Due to the fact that he may not have a job, then he may also lack health insurance which would cover the treatment. So, guess how this will get paid for? That’s right, Mr. and Mrs. American Taxpayer, the bill will come to you and me!

There’s also a small matter of the car on which he landed: it was totaled! Obviously, the owner will come forward seeking compensation for her loss. Most likely, the owner’s car insurance will not pay for a new car, because the damage occurred during the commission of an illegal act. Surprise! Suicide is a crime, and you, sir, may be the first person prosecuted for it. This is where you claim insanity and your one-way ticket to free mental health therapy!

Please, let this man get well, and for our sake do not let him get a reality TV show!

The morale of this story, children: don’t try to kill yourself! You can’t afford it!


Or, wait, was it Lindsey Lohan? No, I was right the first time. Honestly, I can’t keep these blondes famous for being famous straight!

It seems that Britney, oh I mean Paris, was pulled over by police and, in the course of her presenting her identification to them, a controlled substance fell out of Jessica’s, I mean Paris’, purse. Since then she has claimed that the purse was not hers, or later that the purse was hers but the drugs were not hers. In any event, the incident has propelled Paris to the forefront of the gossip pages again!

I truly hope she is found innocent. If not, then we should enforce the Amnesty for Stoned Blondes Act, and allow her to go free. Seriously, what would we as a society gain from incarcerating um, whoever? Putting her in jail could only lead to increased media attention Paris in Jail: One Year Later; Paris in Jail: Two Years Later; Paris Goes to the Parole Board; Paris Does Community Service; or even - and we should all shudder at this thought - a reality TV show!

(Thank you for reading. Please remember only you can prevent reality TV!)

Friday, September 03, 2010

Dueling Rallies

A few weeks ago, a letter to the editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer decried the fact that the paper was not covering the upcoming Glenn Beck rally in Washington DC. At the time, there wasn’t much newsworthiness to an event two weeks hence. Oh sure, the paper would have covered it if Beck and company had paid for full page ads to publicize the gathering, but as far as I know information about it was spread by word-of-Glenn-Beck's-big-right-wing-mouth! I’m sure the letter writer was heartened to read several articles in the week leading up to the event, even as the media noted that a counter rally commemorating the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech would be held on the same day.

My own theory: Glenn Beck just hasn’t been able to get the media support he needs since Leni Riefenstahl died. And with that remark, I break my New Year’s resolution not to equate Beck with Nazism. I can’t help it. I’m a moderate liberal and the clothing he wore on the jacket of his best seller resembled a Luftwaffe uniform.

Originally, Beck had other motives for his rally. He touted it as a rally to reclaim America’s honor. Later he seemed surprised when someone pointed out to him that his rally date was – coincidence of coincidences — the 47th anniversary of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. At that point, he declared that this scheduling was an act of “divine providence”.

I’m sure many of us can concoct their own ideas of what and what doesn’t constitute “divine providence”. Let me start the ball rolling by saying that an act of divine providence to me would be lightning striking the Faux News network building during one of Beck’s broadcasts, knocking his program off the air and him on his derriere. Oh my! That was a brutal observation to make, wasn’t it? I must have accidentally swallowed a nasty pill with my happy juice this morning!

Beck’s rally was targeted towards conservative leaning voters, many tea party members, Nazis still hiding out in Argentina, and anyone who believes Sarah Palin is God’s gift to the GOP. Oh there I go again, denigrating other people’s conservative views just for my wicked amusement. I am bad! I should be tied to a bed and whacked repeatedly with a rolled up issue of The National Review. I’m a bad, bad, naughty, naughty liberal!

But seriously, folks...

Beck and company tried to head off the accusations of racism and any surrounding controversy by discouraging his rally participants from carrying signs. Granted, this was an effort to take the high road and not detract from their message, but it did violate his follower’s right to free speech, and it took all the fun away from liberal bloggers like myself. Curse you, Glenn Beck!

The “I Have a Dream” commemoration did allow signs — one notably calling out Beck and Palin as racists — but from an account I’ve read, it seems like it was just another episode of “The Al Sharpton Show”. King’s rally on August 28, 1963 was a turning point in the American civil rights movement. King’s humility demonstrated that he knew the movement was bigger than any one man. I’ve never sensed that King’s ego shadowed the event. I don’t get that same warm, fuzzy feeling with Reverend Sharpton.

Neither side did anyone any favors by claiming that civil rights is wholly owned by one group or the other. Historically, when we use the term, people think of African Americans standing up to social injustice in the 50s and 60s. Recently, it has been co-opted by gay rights activists in their quest to legalize same-sex marriage. Many people – both black and white – are probably appalled by this, but they shouldn’t be.

The struggle for civil rights should apply to any group who feels that their standing in society isn’t on equal footing with the mainstream culture. It transcends cultures and genders. It could be applied to any group — Native Americans, African Americans, women, gays, and any number of religious faiths — that has been wronged throughout American history.

In any case, Beck’s efforts to reclaim civil rights, and Sharpton’s nose-thumbing at Beck, demonstrates that when it comes to Dr. King's dream, we are, in fact, still dreaming.

(Thank you for reading. Please have a safe holiday weekend! And don't forget to wish the editor of this blog a happy birthday!)