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

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Snort Bites – November 2013

At this moment, the turkey is in the oven, filling the house with the aroma of roasted fowl and stirring up memories of past Thanksgivings when we gathered with our immediate families and celebrated our blessings. Yet the outside world beckons, and we must acknowledge noteworthy events and silliness.


This week’s episode of the long running series featured the death of the Griffin’s family dog, when it was hit by a car. Several thoughts occurred to me when I heard this news:

Family Guy is still producing original episodes airing on prime time?

The Brian character was one of the more introspective characters who exuded a higher than normal intelligence than most other animated characters in prime time television history. So what the deuce was he doing playing in the street?  (Full disclosure: I did not see the episode.)

The outcry since the episode aired has been huge. One report stated that 30,000 fans have signed a petition demanding that Brian be restored/resurrected/brought back from animation heaven to the show. How nice, but unfortunately we live in a world where children are starving, democracy is failing (see below), and overall there are a myriad of more important issues than the existence or non-existence of a pen and ink rendered canine.

I wonder if these same 30,000 people would willingly sign a petition with the heading, “I don’t have a life!”

With Brian’s death, Family Guy series creator Seth McFarlane has cut his voice over work load by a third; according to Wikipedia, he voices Brian, Peter and Stewie Griffin. Another report has stated that this event could boost sales of show-related toys and merchandise. Regardless of the real reason for Brian’s demise, whether it’s decreasing chores or increasing the bottom line, it might be a sign that the show has runs its course.  

If you have to kill off a character to maintain interest in the show, then maybe it’s time for that show to slip quietly into the night. Are you listening, The Simpsons?

And now the noteworthy, but not as silly…


So much for the great experiment in democracy for Egypt! The ruling military regime has banned public demonstrations and jailed protestors. We must hasten to point out to one of the oldest civilizations in the world that this is not democracy!

The freedom to openly express disagreement and dissent is a vital part of the democratic process. While many of us in America may appreciate that Egyptian authorities are targeting a group that is decidedly anti-American, we recognize that this same group does deserve to share a forum where they can be comfortable voicing their concerns. Otherwise, they may resort to violence to get their point across, which is a lesson America learned the hard way.

Piloting jet airliners into skyscrapers is not an acceptable expression of First Amendment rights.

Let’s hope that Egypt will rethink its hard line attitude towards relatively peaceful dissent.


And as the aroma of roasting meat gets stronger, I am reminded of everything I have to be thankful for: a roof over my head and the ongoing economic opportunity (i.e., job) which allows me to maintain my home; the love and support of a wonderful woman (snarky comments notwithstanding); my two precious cats, and the love of my family a few hours away.

By all means, let’s count our blessings and indulge in seconds…

(Thank you for reading and Happy Thanksgiving!)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Questions and Successes of the ACA

I have been working harder this last month than, I dare say, I’ve ever worked before. I have just concluded working 14 days in a row – two Sundays included! The weekend shifts were only four hours long, but there were more than several week days when I worked ten hours. I’m not complaining, the money is good, but I cannot do it every day of the year.  

How hard have I worked? Let’s put this way: the concept of Friday as that period of time on the calendar that is recognized as the start of a two day period reserved for rest and relaxation (i.e., the weekend) has lost all meaning to me.

I am exhausted.

It is open enrollment season at my job, and we’ve seemingly been answering questions for everyone (and their mothers) about their health insurance choices for next year. It appears that all insurance carriers are changing their policies this season, given that major portions of the Affordable Care Act (we’ve been told not to refer to it as the derogatory term Obamacare during our phone conversations with clients) become effective soon. With these changes come questions about the plans, questions about the ACA, questions about myths and misinformation about the ACA, and of course, many times these questions are accompanied by lots of frustration, screaming, and yelling about the myths and misinformation about the ACA.

During this time, within the last few weeks, I had an opportunity to go to the federal government website for information. Yes, it’s true: I went into the website untethered, came out the other side, and lived to recount the tale. So did Anne Marie. Oh, we didn’t apply for coverage or anything like that, but the experience was interesting nonetheless.

For example, the media reported that only 106,185 people successfully completed enrollment on the website during the 30 days ending November 2. Alas, this number was only half of the story, as per the government website. The Obama administration also reported that an additional 975,407 applied and received eligibility determination during that time period. These people are still shopping as per the update published on November 16. (Source:

Somehow, everyone in the media, liberal and otherwise, overlooked this second statistic. This may have happened due to human nature and not a deliberate attempt to mislead the public. It’s well known that bad news sells newspapers and the low number of people who successfully found health insurance from the website during its first month of operation was underwhelming, at the very least for the Obama administration. Apparently, even the liberal media needs to sell a few more papers these days.

Since then, there have been more discouraging reports about the website’s progress towards its goal of signing millions of Americans to affordable healthcare policies by the original deadline. Naturally, the ACA’s critics are emphasizing, perhaps too gleefully, that the website is a failure, therefore ACA is a failure, and therefore Obama is a failure. This realization wouldn’t sting so much if it weren’t for the fact that perception always trumps the reality of the situation.

The perception that the website is a failure is so huge, that it is hard to believe that it is all due to incompetence within the Obama administration.   

Considering that the ACA did not mandate any funding to set up the website in the first place (another factoid I learned in the last few weeks, and this one came from a blog on The Huffington Post), it’s a miracle the website is operational at all. Also, there are so many people who have devoted unlimited resources to ensuring the failure of the ACA, it would not surprise me that there is an organized effort to sabotage healthcare reform.

Organized effort, as in conspiracy theory? Okay, if this gets me membership in the tin foil hat club, then yes, fit me for the metallic chapeau now!

We may eventually find out - eventually, as in, not necessarily our lifetime - that the ACA’s troubles have been caused in large part by hacktivists who may be funded by some well off Tea Party members. I have no proof now, but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if this effort can be traced back to some very high levels in corporate America.

All of the negativity about the ACA and the website overshadows the success stories about people logging in and signing up. Granted, the stories are few, but there are successes nonetheless. For example, there is the story about a Mr. John Boehner of Washington, DC. He encountered some difficulties, again according to a report on The Huffington Post, but after four hours of diligence and perseverance, he received an e-mail confirming that he was signed up on the website.

That’s John Boehner, as in Speaker of the House John Boehner, as in leader of the legislative group that he has voted to repeal the ACA at least 39 times John Boehner. In the past, he has vowed to repeal the law which will give millions of Americans the chance to have affordable healthcare, and instead of avoiding the concept with a ten foot pole, he jumps onto the website and registers. AWK-WARD!

As for me, tomorrow I’ll be back at work, and hopefully I won’t have to answer as many questions as I have in the last three weeks. Fortunately, it is a short work week…

(Thank you for reading! Now please, no more questions!)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Winning Shouldn’t Be Everything

God help me, I’m beginning to take pity on the GOP! The Republican Party has taken a lot of heated constructive criticism lately. 

Two examples just from the past few days: in a recent article, one commentator called on the party to “stop electing amateurs who serve little more than ideological indulgences, who exploit resentments that play well enough among the base, but whose positions make them nonviable in general elections.” A current political office holder has bluntly echoed this argument by claiming the party’s recent electoral losses are due to “bad decision-making and loss of courage.” 

Now consider that these comments came from MSNBC’s Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough and New Jersey governor Chris Christie, respectively, and we can see the party’s dilemma. These comments came from the party’s friends, and not from the other side of aisle!

As much as I have enjoyed watching the collective stupidity of the extreme right wing Tea Party sink the Republicans hopes in the last few years, I realize that a Republican Party-less America is not a viable option. The party will not disband or go out of business, and they should do neither. The party provides a voice for those who embrace traditional values while eschewing progressive idealism. Okay, their views are not for everyone, but it works for them.

This is tolerance talking. Tea Partiers, please take note.

The country needs to allow a place for people with these views to congregate on the political landscape. And no, my fellow liberals and progressives, concentration camps are NOT a workable option.

In his article published in Parade Magazine (insert snarky Rand Paul attribution swipe here), Scarborough invoked the spectral spirit of conservative immortal William F. Buckley to present his cure for what ails the GOP. He argues that the party can choose between the conservative pragmatism of Buckley, or go the way of extreme right wing fruitcake (characterization mine) Glenn Beck. He argues that the Republicans can win elections again if they choose the path taken by party icons like Ronald Reagan and Dwight Eisenhower. 
Unfortunately for the time being, Scarborough’s party is held hostage by a movement that is twisted around big business. Twisted as say, a poison ivy vine around a thorny rose bush. Specifically, the party is tangled up in the big business philosophies of billionaire siblings David and Charles Koch. The situation was wonderfully skewered in Will Farrell’s not-so-subtle, and unfortunately overlooked, 2012 satire The Campaign. The story revolved around a congressional race between an ideological challenger and an incumbent deep in the pockets of billionaire businessmen. In this case, the corporate bad guys are dubbed the Moch Brothers. (Will Ferrell subtle?  Surely we jest!) It may be a trick of my hearing or my subliminal consciousness, but one character’s Southern drawl pronunciation of the Moch name comes out sounding like “Marx”, which completes the absurdist circle back to another group of satirists from a previous age.

The Campaign questions the philosophy that winning is everything. It’s a point which Scarborough, unfortunately, over emphasizes in his article. Don’t get me wrong: I do like Joe Scarborough. Yes, he is a diehard conservative with a deep hatred of Obamacare/Affordable Care Act, but he has said complimentary things about the other side of the aisle from time to time. He realizes that extremism is keeping his party out of power. In the end, he laments that he is tired of seeing his party lose every election.

I agree with Scarborough…up to a point. Yes, it’s nice when your side wins, but that is and should not be the ultimate goal of winning in politics. The prized goal should be enacting and enabling policies that have a positive impact on your constituents and society as a whole. If an office seeker wins election only to start an endless cycle of fund-raising for the next election the day after they are sworn in, then I hope they will do everyone a favor and STAY THE HELL HOME!  

We don’t need any more political hacks in Washington who are only there to get high on power, as Ferrell’s character did in The Campaign. We need public servants who will take their job seriously. As a taxpayer, I am appalled at the sheer waste of my money used to maintain the legislative branch of the federal government, only to see them bicker like school children and ultimately not resolve a damn thing. I want my money back!

As for Scarborough, if he is truly tired of losing, then maybe he should consider registering as a Democrat. Subtle? Moi?

(Thank you for reading. No PAC money was used to produce this entry, which did not once mention Mama Grizzly Bore.)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Guilty Pleasure of You Know Who

Okay, I’ll admit to having a guilty pleasure: Sarah Palin. I tried to ignore her temptations and go on a Sarah free blog diet. Unfortunately, it’s so hard to pass her up when she’s making so many “If-she-had-a–brain-she’d-be-dangerous” comments.

Actually, she was never far from my mind, even when I was dieting. When the FDA last week announced plans to totally ban trans fats from food production, I couldn’t help wondering what the divine Mrs. P would say on the subject. I could just hear her ranting about government intrusion to our God-given right to stuff whatever artery-clogging fats we can into our bodies, and in turn clog the nation’s emergency rooms with preventable cardiac events.

More unfortunately, she has another book to sell. What a coincidence: I have a blog to write, and I was getting low on ideas.

Palin is touring the countryside now, hawking her newest book, Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas. I will refrain from saying where it is available for purchase because I don’t give a flying eff if you buy it or not. As we can surmise by the title, it’s another right-wing offensive against the alleged war on Christmas. 
Her appearance on The Today Show this week stands out as an already bizarre event on her new book tour.  Host Matt Lauer noted that the Tea Party was trying to repeal Obamacare. Palin responded with a boisterous, “Right On!” Lauer tried to extract more details about any plans the Tea Party has to replace the President’s health reform law, but to no avail. She launched into another series of obviously memorized sound bites about more competition, less tort reform threats, and “less trajectory of cost increases”. Huh? More competition where? In the health insurance marketplace or the healthcare sector itself? How does one seek out which healthcare professional will give you the better deal if, let’s just say, you’re suffering from a gunshot wound?

I can just picture this scene in an emergency room as the hapless victim shops around for a surgeon: “You can pull the bullet out for $750, but this guy across the hall says he’ll do it for $500, and he’s in my network. Now wait, is the anesthetist and radiologist you use participating with my carrier? I have some paperwork for you to fill out…oh, sorry, don’t mind the blood…”


Given the chance to give concrete proposals, Palin blew it to appeal to her hard core, take no prisoners, don’t even think about compromise base. So three cheers for the status quo, where insurance companies can drop coverage for individuals when they become sick.


Hooray for terminating young people from their parent’s policies because they’ve reached a certain age, yet the only jobs available to them are in the low wage service industry which won’t give them the opportunity to purchase their own policies.


Let’s hear it for the soon to be outlawed practice of insurance companies refusing to pay benefits because the insured has a pre-existing condition. Actually, Palin should probably rethink her position on this aspect of the ACA, since her youngest has Down syndrome. He may require a lot of medical attention when he reaches adulthood. The pre-existing clause could deny him the ability to get these services.

With the ACA, President Obama has worked to ensure that all Americans have access to affordable health care. Who could be against such an ideal that has been called the morally correct thing to do? This alone should be reason enough for the naysayers in the Tea Party to support this effort rooted in the Christian values of our country.

And Sarah Palin should know a thing or two about Christian values, because she wrote the book on the subject.

(Thank you for reading. And my Palin diet starts again…until the next time when she performs another act of public stupidity!)

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Oh Balls!

Okay, so it has not been a stellar week for the Obama Administration. The President, facing an onslaught of criticism for previous remarks that Americans would not have to give up their health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act, realized that his well-intended remarks were not totally true. This week, he apologized to those Americans who have received cancellation notices from their carriers. There is some movement in Washington to tweak this latest glitch in the law (the website is still being worked on) but how much can we expect? After all, we’re dealing with the health insurance industry, which does not have the greatest track record when it comes to the concept of common sense.

Couple this crisis with Obama’s sinking poll numbers in the areas of the economy and immigration, and we can conclude that this was not his best week since taking office. Vice President Biden did not fare much better; he tried to make a well-intentioned phone call to congratulate the winner of the Boston mayoral race, but he called the wrong person. Biden placed a second congratulatory call and, yes, you guessed it, still reached the wrong person.

At this point, I feel compelled to remind all of the Obama haters who want to see the President out of office that Biden is one heartbeat away from occupying the Oval Office. And this is being said by someone who likes Biden.

I also feel compelled at this point to use a literary device known as misdirection, where criticism is deflected into another area and another crisis, real or imagined. With this in mind, my just left-of-center liberal sensibilities prompt me to use this tactic (just as Republicans have been using the Benghazi attacks to get American minds off their intra-party woes) and declare, “Oh my God! Look over there!”

Look, indeed, at um…this week’s induction ceremonies at the National Toy Hall of Fame. (No, I’m not kidding!)

This year the game of chess — an ancient board game that fosters intuitive thinking and strategy skills - and the rubber ducky — a, um…soft piece of polymer shaped like a duck - were inducted into the hallowed halls of the hall of fame headquartered in Rochester, New York. (No, I’m still not kidding!)

The article I read in The Philadelphia Inquirer (side note to Rand Paul: did you see what I did there? It’s a literary device known as attribution!) also listed inductees from every year since the hall of fame was founded in 1998. Among past inductees are America’s icon of anorexia (the Barbie doll); America’s training game for future Wall Street plunderers of capitalism (Monopoly); along with other low tech items as the stick, the jump rope, and the ball. It’s the ball that prompted me to devote a blog entry to an injustice.

The ball was inducted in 2009, or a full 11 years after the first class of inductees. Eleven years! WTF!

Hold on, the phone is ringing!

Okay, I’m back. It was the vice president on the phone. He thought I was the new mayor of Boston. Oh well, keep going Joe! You’ll get it right one of these days!

So where was I? Oh, yes, the subject was balls!

The ball, after all (if memory serves me correctly), was invented a few minutes after the wheel. Yet it took over a decade for it to be recognized as an honorary device of amusement in the hall of fame?

Hell, even the cardboard box (2005) made it ahead of the ball. When I read this, I couldn’t help feeling sorry for the poor schmuck who devoted their entire life to lobbying for the lowly, humble ball to be elevated to greatness! I hope this person has done something worthwhile in the years since their efforts were rewarded in 2009; and I hope most of all he or she got a life!

So, how to rectify this injustice? Start a campaign to elevate the ball — along with its other non-descript counterparts like the stick and the cardboard box — to exalted, extreme honorary status within the hall of fame? Possibly, but some other poor schmuck will need to take up this fight. After all I…oh pardon me! There’s the phone again!

(Thank you for reading! You can hang up now, Joe. I ain’t answering this time.)