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, May 28, 2012

History Happens Again (But It Doesn’t Have To)

Western culture likes to narrow down the certainties of life to as few as possible. So we all settle on the concepts of death and taxes as being those certainties, and pretend like everything else in life is just unforeseeable happenstance. If we could expand that list of certainties, then I would immediately nominate the notion that “history repeats itself”.

Certainly history is a large part of our Memorial Day observances this weekend. We are all reminded — as well we should — to remember the true meaning of the holiday as we wolf down our barbecue fare. We would not be here at this point in our lives, enjoying the freedoms our nation offers if it were not for the sacrifices millions of men and women made over the years to ensure that those freedoms endure.  

Yet sometimes events happen which make one wonder if those who gave all would recognize the country we live in today. Would they look around and say, “This is good,” or “What the hell?” Of course, these reactions would vary with the range of the values of each serviceperson, but surely many would scratch their heads and wonder aloud about the latest attempts by leaders at the state level to keep eligible voters from exercising their rights as citizens.    

Coincidentally, these leaders in several states are also members of the GOP. Pennsylvania’s latest Voter ID law has predictably led to stories of elderly voters who, for one reason or another, are unable to produce the needed documentation (such as a birth certificate) to get a photo identification which will allow them to vote. The ACLU has already started a class action law suit over the new law. I have been toying with the idea of voting this November under protest. I believe my voting rights are secure, but I still feel the need to let the state know that I am not very happy with what they are doing to the voting rights of others.

Then there is the case where history maybe on track to repeat itself with disastrous results: Florida. GOP Governor Rick Scott has ordered his administration to purge non-citizens from the state’s voting rolls. His previous Secretary of State, Kurt Browning, dutifully compiled a list of 182,000 suspected non-citizens from Florida motor vehicle registrations. However, when push came to shove, Browning was troubled by the inaccuracies of the list. Despite his misgivings and his resignation from his state position (I have been unable to find a report linking his resignation with this issue), Governor Scott has gone ahead with the purging. 

Letters were sent out within the last few weeks telling thousands of Florida voters that, based on information collected by local election boards, they were ineligible to vote. These suddenly disenfranchised citizens have 30 days to prove their citizenship, but even then they have to do so by scheduling a hearing. The idea that an American citizen has to go to these lengths to prove that they are still eligible to exercise their Constitutional rights should strike any of us as extremely inconvenient, and a gross mockery of the values which so many Americans sacrificed their lives to preserve.

Voter advocacy groups are naturally livid at Governor Scott’s actions.  They have noted that a disproportionate number of minority voters — mainly in the Hispanic community — have been targeted for disenfranchisement. One voter advocacy group has highlighted the plight of one voter: a white female who received the letter questioning her citizenship. The group’s blog site notes that this woman was born in Akron…as in Akron, Ohio.

Gee, Governor, the last time I checked the city of Akron, and the state of Ohio, were regarded as part of the United States….as in the United States of America! How could this woman be a non-citizen? Maybe your former Secretary of State was correct to doubt the accuracy of the lists.

No matter, Governor Scott has decreed that these voters need to go! So the inevitable court fights have begun, and more than a few voices have been raised that Washington should do something about this unjust action. Washington should be concerned since — as one voting rights group reminds us — a previous Presidential election was influenced by a purging of voters in 2000.

We all remember the election that year, don’t we? The one which wasn’t decided with a clear winner the morning after Election Day, and ended up being decided by the Supreme Court? The election that still makes liberals cringe with horror? Never mind the discomfort from one segment of the population: the fact that the 2000 election was decided by a nine men and women just does not make for good democracy.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen it could very well happen again, if Florida has its way. Actually, the governor is damn lucky that Florida wasn’t kicked out of the union for the trauma they put us through in 2000. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed; unfortunately, we can’t accuse Scott or any other of his GOP brethren who have passed voter laws in nearly three dozen other states of possessing cooler heads.

Obviously they don’t possess a sense of history either.  If they did they would know that these efforts were tried before. Perhaps they gained political advantage in the short term, but in the long run the backlash can be ruinous for the country as a whole. 
Honestly, doesn’t the memory of millions of Americans who sacrificed themselves for the continuing existence of our country deserve better than this?

(Thank you for reading.)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Snort Notes – May 2012


These two artists could not have come from backgrounds much further apart then they were. Summer’s early releases emphasized her sex kitten qualities, but she quickly graduated to a disco music diva. Gibb, with his brothers Barry and Maurice, revived their moribund Beatlesque ballad careers by storming the charts with their work from one soundtrack album. The two artists virtually shut out all other music genres from the charts between the years 1978 through 1980.

Being a fan of popular music — with a leaning towards what is now labeled classic rock — I didn’t have any use for disco music. I didn’t consider myself a great dancer; even now I’m still self conscious about what others might think of seeing me try to create some sort of alluring rhythm out of the uneven legs with which nature has saddled me. Disco music became that annoying noise blasting from the radio and record turntables seemingly 48 hours a day. 

Despite my reservations about the genre, there is no denying the talent and success which Summer and Gibb brought to our popular culture. God help me – I can now admit to liking songs such as “How Deep Is Your Love”.  I can also appreciate the feminist ideals which enabled women to work outside the home that Summer sang about in She Works Hard for the Money. Their respective passings on May 17 and May 20 will be marked with somber reflection, but also hopefully a celebration of their contributions to music.


Two Senators have introduced a bill which would incur huge monetary penalties for those multi-millionaires and billionaires who leave America for more tax-safe havens in the world. The legislation is aimed at people like Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, who escaped the United States to save millions on his tax bill, and got some interest from the media on the eve of Facebook’s stock sale on Wall Street.  At face value, the proposed law appears to be a knee-jerk political reaction to a problem that probably affects a small fraction of the 1%. It wouldn’t surprise me that Republicans are leading this charge into silly law writing.

Oops! I just discovered that the sponsors of the bill — Chuck Schumer and Robert Casey Jr — have a “D” after their names. Well, this changes everything—NOT!

WTF, gentlemen? Aren’t there bigger fish to fry — like job creation and improving the economic lot for all Americans — than this superfluous exercise in political point making? Really, how much of the US debt could be retired from the monetary penalties which your law would impose on these super-rich? 


Oh, and by dumb, I don’t mean unable to speak. Tea Partiers have already demonstrated that they can be the noisiest empty-headed vessels in the political arena. By dumb, I mean see citation, “dirt, dumb as…”

Item One: Congressman Joe Walsh (R- IL) held a town hall meeting recently where a Tea Party constituent renounced Barack Obama as a “Nazi, Socialist, Communist.” The report noted that Walsh didn’t attempt to correct his constituent’s rant. In this case, the Tea Party fails political science.

Nazism, Socialism, and Communism are opposing political philosophies. They cannot exist together harmoniously within the same political boundaries, let alone the same person. No one can be all three, at least at the same time…unless of course they are schizophrenic. In which case, they might consider running for Congress. (oh snap!)

Item Two: The Sunlight Foundation, an education organization dedicated to promoting transparency in government, released a study in Congressional speech patterns since 1996. Their results: House members in the current Congress communicate at the level of high school sophomores, the lowest level of all the Congresses in the study. The group stated that ten of these Congresspeople are Republicans (no surprise here) and that all but two of them were freshmen. It is highly likely that the freshmen rode into office on the Tea Party wave.

The group offered one theory that speech patterns changed from the grand, eloquent recitations of yesteryear to messages that could be easily digested by the masses in this era of 30-second sound bites. So the question remains, and will probably be debated in academia for years to come: did we the people drag them down, or did they drag us down? 

Their report also focused on the frequency of SAT words that Congresspeople used in their speeches. Apparently, very few of the legislators used the 100 top SAT words which the report recognizes would be familiar to most high school students. Of these words, the most frequently used word was — the report noted with dry irony — compromise! This last statement deserves a few more exclamation points: !!!!!!!

The findings of this report, coupled with a Tea Party-backed winner in Indiana over incumbent Richard Lugar (who actually dared to work with the Democrats), demonstrates that the days of effective government will not return anytime soon. We might as well prepare ourselves now for more political gridlock and paralysis. After all, we elected them, so this is the way we the people must want it to be.

(Thank you for reading. RIP, Donna Summer and Robin Gibb.)

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Prep School Barber/Bully

At first glance, it might appear that reports of Mitt Romney’s prep school “prank” was a distraction from the larger issues confronting the presumptive Republican nominee for President. (My money is on Ron Paul.) However, the story, though dwarfed by President Obama coming out as a leader in favor of gay marriage, has taken on more legs than that poor hapless creature that had to ride extreme shotgun on top of Mitt’s car years ago. After one week, the story has inspired a variety of opinions and speculation on how the anecdote about Romney’s past will influence Romney’s future as a leader.

Briefly, The Washington Post published a story in which Romney led a group of his prep school classmates to hold down another classmate with long hair, while Romney cut off the offending locks. The victim screamed for help throughout the attack, which occurred in the spring of 1965. The attackers apparently felt that the young man deserved this treatment because he may have been considered a “sissy”, and a few may or may not have known that the young man was gay.

There is more than one point of view to look at Romney’s situation. There is the Fox News Model, which postulates that sure, okay, everybody makes stupid mistakes when they are young, but we all grow and mature and eventually see the error of our ways. Then there is the Liberal Media Model (aka Everyone Else in the Known Universe Model), which insists that Romney, although young, was still grown up enough to know right from wrong, and there’s no way around this: restraining a grown adult for the purpose of cutting his hair over his shrill protests is very, very wrong.

It pains me to say this, but there is some truth to the Fox News Model. We all grow up and become aware as we grow that attitudes we had as youngsters will not be tolerated in an adult society. We either adopt new attitudes of acceptance of the world around us, or we join the Ku Klux Klan, but that is decidedly an extreme case. In the course of our maturation, we denounce our previous actions, offer apologies and ask for forgiveness. In short, we repent and this is where we all experience the Judeo-Christian qualities of redemption and salvation.

True to form, Fox News gave Romney a forum to repent. He admitted that some of his actions back then may have gone too far, and offered an apology if anyone was offended by his actions. There, redemption and salvation is his! Smile everyone, group hug!

Oh, but wait, there is also the Liberal Media school of thought. They believe Romney was a bully then, and redemption be damned, he can be a bully now. This point of view also has some validity.

Romney a bully? Surely it is possible! How else did he survive in the dog-eat-dog world of venture capitalism all those years? You don’t get to the top of that world by being nice to everyone. You get to the top of that world by adopting an air of ethnocentrism, or a posture of superiority over those you believe don’t measure up to your standards. 

Critics on the Liberal Media side have discounted his apology. It was said as nonchalantly as someone would wave away a fly that is annoying them. The apology could also have been seen as self-serving. It would have carried more weight if the victim could actually hear and accept the apology, but he died in 2004. I believe he’s beyond caring about anything Romney would have to say on the subject.

There is a certain amount of arrogance that must be present in anyone who would approach someone with a pair of scissors. Try as he might, Romney may find it hard to shake this from his persona. His campaign tries to portray him as someone to whom everyone can relate, but this may be a lost cause. Unlike Romney, many people find the thought of firing workers distasteful. Unlike Romney, many people may not find stories that his daddy closed a factory and threw thousands out of work as humorous.

The Romney bully story may stick to him. Enough people may question whether this arrogant use of ethnocentrism may raise its ugly head at an inopportune time in the future. It could result in a lapse of judgment when Romney really needs to be a wise, compassionate leader. Maybe I’m being a little harsh on Romney. Or maybe it’s the Liberal Media talking….

(Thank you for reading! What? Ron Paul quit? What’s the world coming to!)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

High Five for the President (Part Two)

I think same sex-couples should be able to get married.”

Eleven words which have been spoken by thousands of people over the last few decades, but few paid any attention. Okay, great, so you think gay people should not be second class citizens anymore. Fine, but there’s still not enough people who share this sentiment that it will affect change. True, a majority of Americans are slowly adopting this position, but apparently not enough in any one place to make state legislators pay attention.

Ah, but last week those words were spoken with all sincerity and honesty by the President of the United States. Now people are paying attention.

I don’t want to minimize the significance of this historic moment of American history, but I do want to put it into perspective. It’s wonderful that Obama’s personal opinion on the subject has finally evolved. Many people of the same mindset saw his admission as a great step forward, and in many respects it is a giant step in the name of civil rights. Now will Barack Obama lead the charge up the steps of the Capitol with an equal marriage rights bill clutched to his chest? Well, um…probably not. 
Obama is letting the movement ride state-to-state. So far, a handful of states have seen the light of a progressive society and enacted same-sex marriage statutes. However, many other states (like mine) prefer to remain in the dark ages, wrapping a cloak of rigid, religious morality around their ignorance and fear. The movement hasn’t caught fire yet, but truth be told it’s farther along in a handful of states than I would have thought possible at this point in my lifetime.

Like many great moments in history, the actual event happened so fast — as in blink of an eye fast — that many of us had to stop what we were doing and say “What just happened here?” Actually, everybody has been asking that question since the President uttered these eleven words in the presence of ABC news anchor Robin Roberts and a news crew on Wednesday, May 9, 2012.

Some commentators weren’t so surprised; they saw all the signs of how Obama’s thoughts on the subject were evolving, and felt deep inside the President would come around to their way of thinking. They point to his ordering of his administration's Justice Department to discontinue defending the Defense of Marriage Act. They pointed to his administration's repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” in the military. They knew that he would endorse same-sex marriage as a civil right, but the question was when.

Reports have come out — after the fact — that the President would make his true feelings known before the convention. According to these observations, that timetable had to be moved up when Vice President Joe Biden voiced that he was comfortable with same-sex marriage on “Meet The Press” (May 6). Some cynical observers (full disclosure: including me) thought that Biden’s statement was not a gaffe, but the administration's way of testing the waters for this controversial stance. The White House has made some noise since then that this was not the case.

Sure enough, press accounts surfaced later in the week stating that Biden was called to the Oval Office, where he personally apologized to the President. Believe it or not! Actually, that meeting could have gone one of two ways:


Obama: “Okay Joe, let’s go to the woodshed.”

Biden: “You are right, Mr. President. I was wrong. Please accept my heartfelt apology for my transgression.”


Obama: (laughing.)  “Ha, Joe! We did it! Our carefully choreographed sound bites worked like a charm!”

Biden: “Yes, Mr. President! It went beautifully!”

Obama: “Let’s celebrate! I’ll have a Bud Light. You want your usual, Joe? A low alcoholic beer?”

Biden: “Sounds great!”

Obama: “But before we do that, let’s celebrate with a victory fist bump! (They bump clenched fists.)  Woo-hoo!”

As I said, believe it or not, or something like that.

So who benefitted from the President’s admission? Certainly the Democrats, as they raised millions more for their election coffers after the Obama interview, even though they weren’t having trouble raising money before. The liberals are energized, knowing that they have their President back. Conversely, the religious right is also energized to further support their platform of fear and ignorance.  

The media have paid some attention to a group who may now feel betrayed: evangelical African-Americans, who supported Obama in 2008, now don’t know what to do since the concept of gay marriage violates their sense of morality. What can one say to them, except to remind them that not too long ago they were riding in the back of the bus without voting rights, and everybody telling them where they could and could not get a drink of water. Let’s face it, the gay community wants to ride upfront, and frankly, it’s about time somebody said that their time has come.

Thank you, Mr. President, for standing up for justice. Still, we shouldn’t kid ourselves: the struggle for justice has a long way to go.

(Thank you for reading. Everyone, let’s do a fist bump!  Woo-hoo!)