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

My Photo
Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Monday, July 25, 2016

“It’s Hot as Hell Here in Philadelphia/Someone Open Up the Window”*

Last week the Republican Party closed the sale of its soul to the devil by officially nominating Donald Trump as its nominee.  Progressives are aghast, including this week’s Doonesbury: all of the major characters were depicted watching their televisions or laptops with jaws hitting the ground. 

Long time party stalwarts (among them Bush White House aide Nicole Wallace) mourned the passing of their beloved party.   Tempted as I am a slightly left of center liberal to write the epitaph “GOP – 1854-2016, RIP”, news of its demise may be premature.

Scenes from the Trump acceptance speech have been played over and over ever since it actually happened last Thursday.  It reminds me of an iconic shot from Citizen Kane:  Kane/Trump at the podium in front of a YUGE reproduction of his face via photograph or really big screen video feed, and the name Kane/Trump emblazoned yards high above the photo/screen.  In the movie, we don’t get to see what Kane would have done with public office:  the scandal from an extra-marital relationship coasts Kane the election.

We will not have this luxury in real life.   Trump started a relationship with the woman who would become his second wife while still married to his first wife, and started another relationship with the woman who would become his third wife while still married to his second wife, etc, etc, and etc. Trump’s supporters are willing to turn a blind eye to his past peccadilloes much like the entire Republican Party establishment has turned a blind eye to Trump’s total unsuitability for high office.

The convention scenes may have echoed Orson Welles, but I would not be surprised if Leni Riefensthal is called in (if only in spirit) to choreograph the final scenes of the Trump campaign.   Yes, I went there!

Now that Trump’s Brownshirts, er, supporters have left Cleveland, all eyes are on the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.  This week history will be made when Hillary Clinton becomes the first woman to be nominated to be President of the United States.  Fortunately for all of us, the Democratic National Committee comported itself so that it was totally fair to Clinton and the other primary candidate, Bernie Sanders, throughout the primary season.  All actions were above board, transparent and….

No, I tried writing that last sentence while maintaining a straight face, but I couldn’t do it.

The Democratic circus comes to town today and the temperatures forecast here this week would make the weather the Founding Fathers endured in 1776 downright comfortably cool. If the weather itself was not comfortable, then the ensuing atmosphere threatens to be toxic. It would be an understatement to believe that there has been a lot of drama to sort out on the eve of the Democratic Convention.  

For one thing, the super delegate controversy reared its ugly head again and the Democratic Party establishment (unwisely) chose to stay with the status quo and preserve the unfairness of the super delegate system.  Then there were the leaked e-mails which confirm rumors from months ago that the Democratic Party was stacking the nomination in Hillary’s favor. As of this morning, the head of the DNC has promised to resign effective with the end of the convention this week.

I would like to think that I am speaking for all Democrats when I say, “Damn you, Debbie Wasserman Schultz!” 

Okay, so the Republicans had their moments of drama at their convention, and now the Democrats will have their inner conflicts to endure.  So both sides misbehaved.  So what?  If the Trump campaign has demonstrated more than anything else, it’s that voters are far more forgiving than ever, even to the point of overriding their own common sense and decency. 

On the other hand it probably would not hurt either party to get a time out in the wood shed.

*Sit Down, John from 1776.

(Thank you for reading. Donald Trump is…what?   Say what?)

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The First Part of Our Summer Democracy Events

The first event of our nation’s ongoing march to democracy began yesterday in Cleveland.   The Republican National Convention for 2016 started off with conflict in the afternoon.  The Dump Trump wing of the convention tried to get a rules change, but they were promptly crushed by the Republican convention establishment.  (As opposed to the Republican Party establishment who have chosen to stay away from Cleveland: a number of Republican members of Congress; Mitt Romney and the entire Bush clan.) 

The day culminated in a series of speeches by D-list celebrities. We here at Arteejee are hoping that Clint Eastwood’s chair from the 2012 convention will return for an encore performance.  Clint himself can stay home for all we care. 

This morning members of the left-leaning liberal media are delightfully ticking off all the missteps and snafus from yesterday’s events:

Campaign manager Paul Manafort started the day with a round of talk show interviews trashing Ohio governor and former nomination rival John Kasich;

A “Women for Trump” event which attracted maybe 12 women, and most of those were journalists covering the event for their papers;

The discovery over the weekend that one of the elevators in the convention hall was labeled “White Elevator”, the sign has since been removed;

Kansas GOP Representative Steve King making a jaw-dropping accusation of ethnocentricity at its worst  on live national television, when he questioned what other cultures have contributed to Western civilization more than white/Christian people*;

The Donald upstaging the convention himself by conducting a call in interview with Fox News Bill O’Reilly at the same moment that the mother of a victim of the Benghazi attack is pouring her heart out to the convention and a nationally-televised audience;

The main speech by Trump’s wife Melania was a stirring appeal to patriotism and the American work ethic, but WHAT’S THIS?  This morning there are credible charges that Melania lifted several passages for her speech from a speech which First Lady Michelle Obama made in 2008;

And the circus goes on and on and on…

All of these events just convince me more and more that when it comes to the Republican Party, I firmly believe that “I wouldn’t want to be like you.”

But why should I plagiarize the Alan Parsons Project, when I can play them:


*MSNBC interview with Chris Hays.

(Thank you for reading.  And next week the Democrat circus comes to my town.  Yayyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!)

Saturday, July 16, 2016

A Fashion Show

This week’s blog entry comprises a few photos of my trying on a shirt made by our wonderful fellow blogger Spo.  The editorial board here at Arteejee may grumble that this is not a proper blog entry with a few snarky comments under their breath about contractual obligations, but no matter.  This blog is named after the phonetic spelling of my initials so eff the editorial board.

This is the shirt I won in a lottery earlier this year to mark the anniversary of the blog Spo Reflections.  (I trust editor-in-chief Warrior Queen will put the link here.  Oh, yes, that’s better.)  It arrived safely, albeit a little damp.

It was a strange twist of fate that the box holding the shirt should arrive on the only day we had rain here in Southeast Pennsylvania in nearly two weeks.  This was our weather for the last several weeks:  no measurable rainfall for a week or two, a day of monsoon type weather (the same day the box was unceremoniously dropped at my front door by the USPS without so much as a plastic bag to protect the box), and nary a drop of precipitation for the last three days since.  No matter!  The shirt dried and I am modeling it for all to see.

Thank you, Spo!

(Thank you for reading.  And yes, I know. I need a shave and a haircut!)

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Us vs Us

There are many times when, in the course of human events of our nation, an event or events force us to pause in our everyday living to confront the hard issues which need to be adjusted.  Never mind that the issues may be so complex and run so deep that they have dogged us throughout our history and seem to defy easy fixes.

In our latest cases we as a nation has witnessed two more incidences of police brutality.  In both cases African American men died at the hands of white cops. Unfortunately the tragedies of these two events don’t end there. 

Peaceful demonstrations in several American cities were quickly organized to call attention (again) to our national shame: institutional racism.  The demonstration in one city, Dallas, turned tragic when a lone, home grown terrorist sought justice (revenge) against white police officers for the shootings in other parts of the country within the last few days.  The terrorist shot at 12 white officers from his sniper perch, killing five of them.

The sniper incident was a repudiation of a fantasy put forward by the National Rifle Association.  Since Texas is an open carry state—everyone can carry guns wherever they damn well feel like it—then a good number of the thousands of protestors should have been armed.   They could have returned fire once they had sought cover.   This didn’t happen.  The protestors did the wiser thing and got the hell out of the area and harm’s way.  

Once again the racism inherent in our society was blamed for the incidences of police brutality early in the week.  Actually, if we include the sniper’s action and motives in Dallas, then we can see that racism is on both sides of the conflict.  The sniper targeted only whites and, specifically, white police officers.

So for those of us who insist on understanding problems of democracy (or problems of any nature for that matter) as simply as possible, I reckon we need to put everything in terms of black and white. We need to identify the players on both sides of the conflict:

The police, the figures of law and order who serve and protect society at large.  It is not an easy job and it is an occupation that has few material rewards.  As one of my cousins—a retired Philadelphia police officer--described it, police work is 93% boredom and 7% terror.  The officer never knows when the terror will happen.   A criminal will aim their gun at them, or another armed individual takes aim at the target they imagine is drawn on the officer’s uniform.  One shot and the officer has a life changing experience.

The time spent in waiting around for something to happen can be equally dangerous.  All the while the adrenaline is building up and without a constructive release, the officer’s emotional energy explodes just when their training is needed the most to prevent a tragedy.  It is unfortunate; it is also part of being human.  The most basic need of self-preservation prompts police officers to do the unthinkable—taking a human life—when they perceive in a split-second decision that their lives will end.

The police engage in the same socialization as members of the military.   All of us are taught that killing is wrong, but members of the armed forces have to be trained to suppress these feelings so they can become effective at their job to fight and protect their ideals.  Similarly police officers can be called upon to adopt an us versus them attitude so they can do their job of law enforcement.  Once again we are taught that everyone else is, or should be, good and well-behaved.   When law enforcement agents have to perform such tasks as placing someone in custody, then this act runs counter to what we are taught about everyone being good.

The us versus them attitude helps police’s job easier to do, but as we all know this can be abused.

Then on the other end of the conflict there is the African American community, who are understandably outraged at these latest examples of the historical racism plaguing America since the beginning.  Yes, we’ve all seen statistics that members of the African-American community are more likely to end up in prison than members of the other minority groups.  Also yes, we know statistics that many of these people are incarcerated in larger numbers than other minorities due to laws being unfairly applied to them simply because they are black.  And yes, we can assume—but unfortunately unable to prove with full certainty—that many of these incarcerations happen because of racism on the part of the judicial system.

Out of these police brutality events the group Black Lives Matter was established and has taken hold.   They bring a good point to the national conversation, but critics have denounced them as a hate group given their seemingly contemptuous attitude towards law enforcement.   Political leaders have tried to clarify the movement as not trying to deny the value of other lives beyond the African-American community, but the criticisms still persist.  Many still believe that if you are pro-black, then you are anti-cop.

Such nonsense!

So now in black and white terms (situational pun not intended) let’s put forth these ideas:

It is naïve to think that all cops are racist, just as it is naïve to think that all African-Americans are criminals simply because they are African-American.  To be fair the capacity to break the law exists in everyone: black, white, yellow and whatever.  It’s one of the darker sides of human nature.

We have to get past the idea that it is an us versus them conflict.  It is in reality it is us versus us.  And that is a notion which very few of us want to accept when our idealized national identity is questioned.

(Thank you for reading.   As Marvin Gaye once said, “What’s going on?)

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Happy 80th, Mom

My mother, Anne Lauren, would have been 80 today. With that in mind, I will post in her memory the song that she and Dad considered their song.

I think this clip is from the Alfred Hitchcock film The Man Who Knew Too Much

Please enjoy this small slice of post-World War II optimism, Cold War be damned!

(Thank you for reading. Happy Birthday, Mom, wherever you are!)