Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Secret Handbook

If you’ve been following the Republican leadership race (and who hasn’t?), you’re probably wondering how the various candidates are able to consistently stay on message. You’re probably also wondering why there is so little difference between their positions. The answer lies in an unknown, recently-leaked manual called "The Secret Handbook for Republican Presidential Candidates." Here are some of its entries:
Age, Sex and Race
The Republican Party prides itself on being an equal opportunity elector. We don’t care whether you’re young or old, male or female or black or white. Heck, we don’t even care if you’re Hispanic. But the one thing we do ask is that you be rich....really, really rich. Electoral politics is not for the faint of heart and definitely not for those light in the wallet.
It’s really pretty simple; Christ must be your personal savior, preferably in the context of a fundamentalist strain of Christianity. No exceptions. Sorry Joe Lieberman. We try to be as flexible as possible on this matter which is why we’ve kind of looked the other way for that Mitt Romney fellow. But, truth be told, we’d be more comfortable with an out-and-out born-again Baptist.
Affairs (the Newt Gingrich Rule)
It’s OK to have an affair so long as it was in the last century and you’ve shown at least some remorse. Recent affairs, however, or ones lasting longer than twelve years will be fatal to any candidate unless she’s a woman. After all, we’re not Democrats.
Brain Freezes (the George W. Bush Rule)
Good ole boy impressions are perfectly acceptable. So, too, are the occasional malapropism and slip-up. But beware of lowering your perceived IQ under the political Mendoza line (as of today, about 90). One or two brain freezes won’t necessarily be fatal unless followed by a double mistake on who can vote and when. We’ve added a Rick Perry Corollary this year, also known as the Two-drink Maximum Rule.
Taxes (the Grover Norquist Rule)
This one’s pretty simple. No new taxes. Period. Fullstop. Exclamation point. Don’t even waffle on this one (are you listening Jon Huntsman?) or say "Read my lips." And don’t forget; ‘no new taxes’ is just the minimum position. If you actually want to win the nomination, you have to propose lowering taxes, especially for the wealthy. Acceptable positions include "a flat tax", "no tax" or even "9-9-9," whatever the heck that means.
Gun Control (the Charlton Heston Rule)
Republicans like guns. And we like others to like guns, too. That’s why we support the right to bear arms and, if necessary, arm bears. Whatever it takes to keep freedom ringing loud and clear in our streets in the middle of the night is fine by us. If you absolutely, positively have to waffle on this issue, you can always claim to be a bit of a moderate and propose personal limitations on small, handheld nuclear weapons.
A Mexican Fence
When it comes to immigration, the minimum acceptable position is a fence along the Mexican border. What kind of fence or how tall is entirely up to you. Ten feet, twenty feet, wire mesh, concrete, electrified. Be creative. How about an alligator-filled moat or a tourist-themed Great Wall of Texas?
A Female Candidate (the Sarah Palin Rule)
If you wish to be the first female Republican presidential candidate, stay out of the race. That way you can’t screw up and, with any luck, by the time the convention rolls around, there’ll be no one left to run except for you. This is also known as the anti-Michele Bachman Rule.
Libertarians (the Ron Paul Rule)
We welcome libertarians into the Republican Party. We’re just not that keen on having them run as president. Let’s face it; every party needs a little comic relief and Ron Paul is both little and comic, kind of our version of Dennis Kucinich. But there’s no point in making the next election any easier for Obama than it has to be.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Who's Naughty or Nice

Ho! Ho! Ho! Santa Claus here and I want to answer some special letters I received this Christmas season. It’s not just kids who write me looking for presents, you know. This year I got some written requests from a few grownups, too.
Although Santa tries to get every kid who writes to him a present that he or she really wants, that same rule doesn’t always apply to these older correspondents. More often than not, I find it’s better to give them something they actually need.

Barack Obama
Ever since he was a little boy in Indonesia, Barack has been asking to live in a big white house. I finally managed to make that one happen for him but now he’s asking for everything under the sun like a Democratic-controlled Congress and a five percent unemployment rate. Hey, I’m Santa, not a miracle worker. There’s only so much I can do. But I do know what Barack needs and that’s why this Christmas I’m going to bring him a kick in the pants, a stiffer spine and a crazy Republican presidential nominee.

Hillary Clinton
I remember Hillary when she went by the name of Rodham which was right up to 1992, as I recall. Anyway, poor Hillary has not always gotten what she wanted for Christmas including the Democratic nomination in 2008 and a faithful husband. But that doesn’t mean that this is her year. I know she’d like to see her boss trip up and take a political face-plant but I’m going to save her best present for 2016.

Mitt Romney
Little Mitt has had it pretty easy all these years. His dad was the head of American Motors and the governor of Michigan so he got just about everything he wanted. That included the governorship of Massachusetts and a cushy corporate gig. Now he says he wants the Republican nomination. Before he gets that gift, however, I think he needs a few other things like a personality de-stiffener, a consistent platform and maybe a new style of underwear.

Newt Gingrich
I’ve known Newt since he was knee-high to a grasshopper which, ironically, makes a great meal for a newt. It’s been hard trying to keep up with his Christmas wishes over the years since he keeps changing his mind on such things as ethical standards, consulting contracts and wives. Now he says he wants to run the whole dang country. This year, however, I think I’m just going to give him what he really needs: a daily dose of humility and a five-second delay when speaking.

Ron Paul
From the moment he could talk, little Ronnie was the odd child. He never wanted more; he always wanted less. As in less government, less spending, less foreign involvement. Now he’s actually asking me for something more, namely the Republican presidential nomination. Before I can do that, however, I’m going to have to get him a moderate platform and a whole new personality. Until then, he’ll have to make do this year with a leather-bound collection of the works of Ayn Rand.

Rick Perry
At least there’s one guy whose wants are the same as his needs. That’s why I’ll be putting a one-way ticket back to Austin in Rick Perry’s stocking this Christmas.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Last Liberal Republican

The last living liberal Republican has decided to disown that label. Tired of being called a "liberal" or even a "socialist", Dirk Delaney, 76, of Providence, Rhode Island could no longer take the incessant ridicule and finally gave up.
In the last century, liberal Republicans once roamed the American political landscape in huge numbers. They were heard to regularly proclaim their liberal social views on op-ed pages, at national conventions and even during presidential elections.
"I remember when we had a real say in the Republican Party," said Delaney. "Why we once even had one of our own as Vice President."
"You remember Nelson Rockefeller, don’t you?" questioned Mr. Delaney plaintively. "He was a liberal Republican, you know."
But those days of left-leaning Republicans thriving in large numbers in every state of the union (except possibly Idaho) are long over. The socially progressive member of the G.O.P. seems to have gone the way of the dodo bird.
In recent years, sightings of liberal Republicans had become rarer and rarer. It was thought that there might still be some small groups of these exotic creatures in sanctuaries in the northeast but they were seldom spotted in public or in print.
"I know there were a few left," said Delaney. "But they would only reveal themselves to me in private. They were afraid to go public for fear of being labelled ‘pinkos’, ‘commies’ or, even worse, ‘Democrats.’ It got so bad that even the moderate ones were loath to admit that they had once voted for Richard Nixon or Gerald Ford."
Now that Mr. Delaney has foresworn the hated label, there may be no one left to carry on the once-proud tradition of liberal Republicanism. In fact, rumor has it that an application has been made to formally induct that phrase into the Oxymoron Hall of Shame.
"I had great hopes for that Mitt Romney fellow," said Delaney. "His father George was a liberal Republican, you know. But you’d never know it to listen to his son. I don’t think he even acknowledges his real father anymore. The last I heard, he said his dad was a poor, hardworking dirt farmer who died when Mitt was just an infant."
With the disappearance of the last liberal Republican, the G.O.P. is reportedly marking the transition by changing its informal description as "the party of Lincoln" to "the party of Reagan" or possibly even the "G.O.T.P.", as in the Grand Old Tea Party.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Republican Idol

The next presidential election is almost a year away and already there have been a dozen Republican presidential debates with plenty more to come. Apart from their sheer number, perhaps the most surprising fact about these encounters is their high TV ratings.
In view of those ratings, rumor has it that at least three major TV networks are in a bidding war to make the debates an ongoing weekly series. Recently leaked draft scripts hint at what we can expect from future episodes:
Thursday, November 17th
Mitt Romney tires of endlessly debating and getting no bump in the polls. The former Massachusetts governor decides to take a pass on the next debate but doesn’t know how to do it without causing a big ruckus. Romney finally decides to announce a fake religious holiday on November 17th called the Mormon Day of Silence when the faithful must not speak for 24 hours. The candidate shows up anyway, keeps his vow of silence and sees his polling numbers double overnight.
Thursday, November 24th
All but counted out of the race, Rick Perry chooses to play to his strength: hilarious miscues. The Texas governor decides to become the leading Republican joker and walks onto the debate stage dressed as a Thanksgiving turkey. Perry stumbles, stutters and, when asked, is unable to come up with even one policy position. Leaving the audience in stitches, he declares himself America’s comedian-in-chief. Sadly, his presidential polling numbers keep falling although, on the plus side, his vice presidential numbers soar.
Thursday, December 1st
Herman Cain continues to battle allegations of sexual harassment and yet still retains high polling numbers. Figuring that denial equals success, the former pizza chain exec decides to deny unreported incidents of sexual misconduct, drugs and even money laundering. The other candidates are mystified as Cain’s numbers rise faster than warm pizza dough.
Thursday, December 8th
Ron Paul’s frustration at being a perennial also-ran finally shows through. The charisma-challenged candidate figures that if sex scandals helped Herman Cain’s standing, they can do the same for him. During the debate, Paul claims that he slept with seven women, two men and a goat ---- all at the same time. However, no one believes him and his numbers drop like Ayn Rand’s popularity at a socialists’ convention.
Thursday, December 15th
Seeing no movement in her campaign, Michele Bachmann takes a giant risk and dresses up as Sarah Palin for the latest debate. Neither her husband Marcus nor Newt Gingrich notices Bachmann’s transformation although Gingrich does become strangely aroused. At first, the crowd responds positively but when the disguised Bachmann continues to speak in mostly complete sentences, the ruse is revealed and the audience turns on her.
Thursday, December 22nd
In this Christmas episode, the debate regulars get a surprise visit from President Obama who joins the Republican presidential hopefuls on stage. When asked what he’d most like from Santa for Christmas this year, Obama replies: “World peace and ABM - anyone but Mitt.”

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

More Cherry Apologies

In an event rarer than a solar eclipse, Don Cherry has apologized. After tearing a strip off former tough guys Stu Grissom, Chris Nilan and Jim Thomson, calling them “hypocrites”, “pukes” and “turncoats”, the “Hockey Night in Canada” blowhard took it all back.

At first it was assumed that the apology was sincere and heartfelt. But given the threatened legal action by Messrs. Grissom, Nilan and Thomson, it appears that Mr. Cherry’s ‘mea culpa’ was more motivated by fear of financial loss than sincere regret. In fact, some other threatened lawsuits may explain these additional unexpected apologies from hockey’s most colorful commentator:


“I truly regret calling various Nordic hockey players ‘chicken Swedes’,” said Mr. Cherry. “I don’t know what I was thinking. Those guys are tough and can really play hard.” Cherry denies that his about face had anything to do with a cease-and-desist letter he received from the Stockholm law firm of Peterssen, Petersson & Pedersson. “I was wrong,” said Cherry. “Any of those guys can go into a corner with a dozen eggs in their pocket and some of them would definitely break.”

Ron MacLean

"Cripes, did he really think I was serious with all my comments about him?”, said Cherry. “I was just kidding around, that’s all.” Apparently MacLean could take no more and engaged the services of the Toronto law firm Bleedum Drye to make his case. “OK, so he’s not a sniveling little butt kisser,” said Cherry. “If that’s what he needs to hear to make this lawsuit go away, then so be it.”

Bobby Orr

“This one breaks my heart,” said Cherry. “I love the guy; I really do and now I’ve gotta deny my love.” Apparently the greatest defenseman to ever play the game had reached his limit with expressions of love from his former pal Grapes. “It hurts to say it,” said a tearful Cherry. “But I apologize for any hugs, kisses or other expressions of affection directed towards Mr. Orr and I will never embrace or embarrass him again.”


“I didn’t know that ‘pinko’ was a bad word,” said Cherry. “I just figured those bicycle riders like the color pink and that’s why you call them pinkos. I’m truly sorry for any offense I may have caused and I will never use that word again.” Asked to comment on the NDP’s platform and recent electoral success at the federal level, Don Cherry declined. “I’m staying mum when it comes to those guys although I think all you kids at home can guess what my real opinion might be.”

The Canadian Apparel Federation

“I can’t lie,” said Cherry. “This one really hurts.” The former Boston coach was talking about his apology to the entire Canadian menswear and fashion industry wherein he undertook to stop wearing any more outrageous suits and shirts. “I’m sorry if my clothing choices caused any damage to the haberdashery sector of this great country of ours,” said the style-challenged former coach. “I honestly thought I looked great in those outfits. Now I know better.”

Friday, October 14, 2011


“A museum dedicated to John Diefenbaker has decided to give a man who suspects he's the former prime minister's only child access to its artifacts for DNA testing.”
- The Canadian Press - 16/9/2011

Toronto native George Dryden is on a mission to prove that he is, in fact, the illegitimate son of Canada’s 13th prime minister. If nothing else, Mr. Dryden’s feistiness and dogged determination suggest that he may well be John Diefenbaker’s son.
But it turns out that Mr. Dryden is not the only potential illegitimate child of a recent Canadian leader. Rumor has it that the following people may also have illegitimate links to 24 Sussex:

Fred Wilson
This Ottawa native may be the love child of former prime minister Joe Clark. One anonymous source suggests that the polite, soft-spoken thirty-one-year-old was conceived on December 13, 1979, the very day that Mr. Clark’s minority government was defeated, nine months less a day since he took power. At the time, Mr. Clark’s defeat was blamed on his inability to do math but instead it may have occurred because of a secret assignation with one Enid Wilson in the Parliamentary cloak room. Nine months less a day later, Ms. Wilson gave birth to a baby boy with a distinctive receding chin.
Unlike George Dryden, Fred Wilson has not made any attempts to establish his true parentage. “Mr. Clark seems like a very nice man,” said Mr. Wilson. “And I assume he’s very busy. It wouldn’t really be right to bother him about such a minor matter, would it now?”

Gilles Lalonde
The 26-year-old from Montreal apparently has a strong case for claiming Brian Mulroney as his father. Not only is Mr. Lalonde the spitting image of Canada’s 18th prime minister, his mother, former Mulroney housekeeper Giselle Lalonde, has confirmed a brief relationship with her former boss.
Yet Mr. Lalonde has not pursued the matter further. In fact, the smooth-talking, lantern-jawed Montrealer has adamantly denied that Mr. Mulroney is his biological father. “I’ve got a nice little restaurant business here in Montreal,” said Mr. Lalonde. “If it was ever established that I’m a Mulroney, I could lose half my customers overnight. I’ve got nothing against the guy but, heck, I’ve gotta make a living.”

Phyllis Smith
Calgary is home to this 21-year-old aspiring accountant who, with her ski-slope nose and slight midriff bulge, bears an uncanny likeness to our current prime minister. DNA testing has, in fact, established that Ms. Smith is Stephen Harper’s daughter. However, since Phyllis Smith’s mother Brenda has adamantly denied being even a ten-foot pole length away from Mr. Harper, the biological connection was, until recently, a mystery.
“My mom says she’d rather sleep with a rattlesnake than Stephen Harper,” said Phyllis Smith. “And I believe her.” But there is a simple explanation. It turns out that there was a slight mixup with donor samples at a Calgary fertility clinic 22 years ago and the rest is history.

Jacques Strappe
Shawinigan native Jacques Strappe has long believed that he might be distantly related to Canada’s 20th prime minister Jean Chretien. After all, Mr. Strappe bears a definite resemblance to Mr. Chretien and has the same inability to speak either of Canada’s official languages. But he never guessed that he might actually be a son of the former prime minister.
“For me, pepper, I put it on my plate and I don’t mind if it’s proved that I’m Mr. Chretien’s son,” said Mr. Strappe. “A proof is a proof. What kind of proof? It’s a proof. A proof is a proof. And when you have a good proof, it’s because it’s proven.”

Kim Turner
Perhaps the strangest possible prime ministerial love child is Kim Turner of Vancouver, B.C. Rumor has it that Ms. Turner is not just the child of one prime minister but is, in fact, the spawn of two prime ministers.
Historians have often wondered how Kim Campbell managed to decimate a majority Tory government and reduce it to two members in the House of Commons back in 1993. Apparently her illicit affair with former prime minister John Turner and subsequent unreported pregnancy was the distraction that cost her and her party the election.
While the evidence of her twin prime ministerial parents is overwhelming, Kim Turner strongly denies any connection. “Hey,” said Ms. Turner. “Would you admit that you were related to those two losers? Let’s face it, I was in the womb longer than the two of them combined were prime minister.”

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Selling the Sizzle

TO: Earl Stuckley, CEO, U. S. Motors
FROM: Charles Miller, VP Marketing

I regret that it’s come to this. I had hoped that our ongoing disagreements with the production and engineering departments could be resolved through normal channels. But now it is clear that the impasse is so intractable that it requires your involvement.
For years now, our employees in the marketing branch have gone above and beyond the call of duty to bring our company into the 21st century. We have spent countless hours creating and designing marketing plans that will ensure our continuing profitability and long-term success.
Unfortunately, the engineering and production folks refuse to cooperate in the implementation of even our simplest idea. And, as you know, if we don’t have a product to match our advertising campaign, we don’t have a hope of increasing sales.
The various divisions of a company are not competitors. Rather, we are all members of one team — a team whose singular goal should be corporate success.
We have done our part; now we urge you to get the other departments onside as well. All that means is to design and produce a car to match our sterling marketing campaign.
They say it can’t be done but if we can dream it, whey can’t they produce it? Our TV ads touting our new H2O-powered SUVs have tested off the charts with consumer focus groups. Is it too much to ask the geniuses over in engineering to come up with just one vehicle that runs on water?
As for price points, if we expect to stay competitive with the Japanese, we need a family van that comes in under $10,000. And that means one with all the bells and whistles, too, including cup holders and a DVD player. Our print ads are ready to go with an MSRP of $9,999. Anything higher and we’re destined for failure. Just because those wacky number-crunching pencil pushers over in accounting say it can’t be done is no reason to pull the plug on this project now.
We’re no less adamant about our proposed multi-media campaign for the Pegasus — the world’s first affordable flying family sedan. We appreciate that cutting edge technology like this can’t be produced overnight. But if the production guys can’t even commit to a 2014 model, all our work on a combined Facebook-Twitter-YouTube rollout will be for naught.
Frankly, we here in marketing are tired of carrying the load for U. S. Motors. Great ideas don’t come cheaply and they don’t come along every day either. If the bright, creative minds in our shop don’t at least occasionally see a practical realization of one of their brilliant outside-the-box concepts, we’re going to lose some of our top marketing people to the competition.
We don’t want to be unreasonable. We recognize that marketing may have a monopoly on the best and the brightest. So we accept that the water-fuelled SUV and the flying sedan may have to be delayed a bit.
But in the meantime, we feel the least we can expect from our coworkers is a piddling 75 miles-per-gallon, $12,000 subcompact with automatic driver-less operation and self-cleaning option. We can roll out an ad campaign for this in three to four months. Can production at least match us on that?
I hope we can count on your support as I know you are a can-do kind of guy who is not going to take “It’s physically impossible to build a 75 m.p.g. car for $12,000" as a legitimate excuse for more heel dragging. If you can light a fire under the other departments, we’re ready to fan those flames into a brushfire of sales success.
Yours in motoring,
Chuck Miller

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Dominion of Canada

It’s official. Stephen Harper is a staunch and unapologetic monarchist.
Last month his government brought back the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Royal Canadian Navy as the official names for the sea and air branches of our military. Then he ordered that the Queen’s portrait hang in every Canadian embassy around the world.
But according to government insiders, that’s not the end of it. The Prime Minister apparently has even more Queen-friendly proposals in the works. Seldom reliable sources have revealed the following future pro-monarchist steps:
* Canada’s maple leaf flag will be replaced by the old red ensign.
* Our country will henceforth be referred to as the Dominion of Canada, the Kingdom of Canada or the Queendom of Canada.
* “God Save the Queen” to replace “O Canada” as our national anthem.
* The national capital will be moved from Ottawa to Kingston, the original capital of the united Canadas back in 1841.
* The Queen’s English will be declared our sole official language.
* Canadians will be urged to call trucks “lorries”, umbrellas “bumbershoots”, car trunks “boots” and to pronounce aluminum as “aluminium.”
* Charles will be invited to move here and become King of Canada.
* Quebec will be asked to reconfirm its defeat on the Plains of Abraham and formally surrender to the Queen.
* Dairy Queen will be designated Canada’s official soft ice cream restaurant and Burger King will be our official national hamburger chain.
* A knighthood will be posthumously awarded to a famous former Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman so that Canada’s official donut shop can henceforth be known as Sir Tim Horton’s.
* The Senate will be changed to the House of Canadian Lords. We will now refer to Hugh Segal as Lord Tubby of Kingston and Mike Duffy will be known as Lord Puffster of Charlottetown.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Fifteen Minutes A Day

A recent Taiwanese study found that fifteen minutes a day of moderate exercise may add three years to your life.
As far as I’m concerned, this is great news. Not for the reason given by the lead researcher, namely that this result will presumably encourage more people to take up a daily exercise regimen.
Rather, this study demonstrates that there’s really little reason to get off the sofa and start walking, running or climbing stairs. Let’s face it; exercise sucks, big time. So if I’m going to gain three years at the end of my life, what’s the actual cost in exercising time?
Let’s do the math. Assuming that the average life expectancy for a male is 79 and that this regular exercise thing would start at around 14 years of age, that means sixty-five years of fifteen minutes a day of exercise to increase your lifespan to 82 years.
Is it worth it? Well, fifteen minutes a day for sixty-five years means a quarter hour times 365 days a year or 91.25 hours a year. Times sixty-five years that adds up to 5,931 hours or about 247 days or two-thirds of an entire year.
As far as I’m concerned, I’m not ready to undergo a definitely unpleasant two-thirds of a year in return for three end-of-life years. Plus, that two-thirds of a year would have to be subtracted from those three years anyway. Much like a car in the garage for repairs, that time hardly counts as useful living.
Let’s be realistic, too; those years between 79 and 82 are not likely going to be your best ones. In fact, if experience is any judge, they’re probably going to be filled with aches, pains, illnesses, ailments and lots of medications.
Why spend your life annoying yourself for a quarter of an hour a day if all it gets you in the end is three years of geezerhood? Nice try Taiwanese study but this is one guy who’s not going to fall for your fancy multi-factor cohort group statistical analysis.
I don’t need any fancy research telling me to exercise. That one-or-two-glasses-of-wine-a-day-is-good-for-you study is all the medical research I require. Unless, of course, you’ve got a more-red-meat-extends-your-life study or some watching-sports-on-TV-promotes-heart-health research. Then I’m all ears.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Look Who's Bankrupt Now

A lot of folks are worried about the debt ceiling crisis. As in, what’s going to happen if the United States defaults on its debt?
Some commentators are predicting a doomsday scenario in which credit ratings plummet, interest rates skyrocket and the financial sky starts falling. Others say that failure to increase the debt limit will lead to a worldwide financial meltdown.
But is the situation actually that dire? Not really because, after all, the United States is in debt just like you and me. And we know what happens to us when our finances go south. That’s right; we declare bankruptcy.
And that’s all that’s going to happen to the United States of America on August 2nd if Congress and President Obama can’t get a deal done. America will simply declare bankruptcy.
At first, that will sound really scary and people will be predicting doom and gloom and pulling their hair out. But once everyone takes a couple of deep breaths and a Valium or two, it will quickly become apparent that declaring bankruptcy may be the best thing that ever happened to the country.
Bankruptcy means that you get to write off your debts against whatever assets you have left. In the case of the United States, that means eliminating all that monstrous debt held by China and others and eliminating it for about ten cents on the dollar.
Plus, usually in a bankruptcy proceeding, you get to protect basic family assets like your vehicle and your home. Thus, even if the U. S. goes Chapter 12, it can probably still hold on to Air Force One and The White House.
Even if America has to foreclose on The White House, is that really such a bad thing? After all, the place is two hundred years old, is really outdated and needs a heck of a lot of renovations. Letting the World Bank or the International Money Fund take possession might actually be a blessing in disguise.
Of course, some folks in Washington may lose their jobs because of this debt default thing. But chances are that won’t happen right away. In fact, many of those holding elected office likely won’t see a pink slip until November of next year.
And before we get to that point, remember who makes the laws in America. That’s right - Congress. So if they don’t like the consequences of a national bankruptcy, all they have to do is pass a couple of laws and change the rules to favor the bankrupt party.
So don’t sweat this latest so-called crisis. Every cloud has a silver lining although this particular one may well be lined with gold at upwards of $2000 an ounce.
As always though, in the end, this situation will work out just fine, at least for America’s bankers, politicians and power brokers. As for the rest of you? Not to worry. Now that the NFL lockout is over, there’ll be plenty of bread and circuses to go around for everyone.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

The Will & Kate Road Show

This is a warning to my American friends, particularly those living in Los Angeles. Watch out. Will and Kate are coming.
Prince William and his wife Catherine, the newly-crowned Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, have just spent the last week traveling across Canada and they’re now heading south for a three-day trip to L. A. I feel it’s my duty to let you know what to expect.
The Will & Kate Road Show took Canada by storm. Wherever they went, huge crowds gathered to greet them and more than a hundred journalists followed along to record their every word and fashion statement.
I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised by this phenomenon. As a Canadian, you’d think that I would understand matters royal. After all, Queen Elizabeth is our nominal head of state.
But I wasn’t prepared for the overwhelming reception Will and Kate received. It was like they were, well, royalty or something.
In recent years, we Canadians have been less and less enamored of the British royals given their wealth, aloofness and scandals. But Will and Kate seem to have revived our nation’s love affair with the royal family and, thanks to them, I suspect we’re stuck being a constitutional monarchy for years to come.
Which brings me to my warning to you folks. Don’t be fooled by what appears to be a simple, friendly diplomatic visit by Great Britain’s future head of state and his wife. I think there’s something more afoot here.
Have you noticed what’s happening in England lately? The economy is a mess, labor strife is rampant and the country is a shadow of its former self.
My guess is that this royal visit is a rearguard action, an attempt to undo the deeds of the American Rebellion or what you folks so quaintly call the American Revolution. England needs financial help and what better way to get it than to take back America?
Be careful. This cute young couple may seem harmless but I suspect they have a hidden agenda. Their ultimate aim may well be to regain their ancestors’ status as King and Queen of the Americas.
Let’s face it; despite your revolutionary roots, most of you still have a love affair with royalty. After all, didn’t you almost make George Washington your first king? And, like it or not, most women still grow up with dreams of marrying a real life prince.
You folks are sitting ducks or, in this case, sitting dukes and duchesses in waiting. Once Hollywood gets a glimpse of this glamorous couple, they’re going to want to adopt them and jump on the royal bandwagon. What movie star or mogul wouldn’t want a chance at nobility?
And once Hollywood is on board, the rest of the nation will follow and before you know it, you’re bowing and curtseying to kings and queens again. I’m just saying, watch out. If you wake up some day and find you’re paying a tax on your tea, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Monday, June 27, 2011

If Nominated, I Will Not Notice

“Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana said early Sunday that he would not become a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.....”
- The N. Y. Times - May 22, 2011

Mitch who? Oh, well, never mind. Given the ever-increasing number of declared non-candidates for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, I felt that it was probably time for me to announce my intentions as well.
Despite the urging of virtually no one, I have decided not to enter my name for the Republican nomination. I regret the inconvenience my decision may have caused to my supporter but I have every reason to believe that he will get over it.
Some will say that I withdrew my name due to family considerations. Let me make this as clear as I possibly can. I am not withdrawing in order to spend more time with my family. In fact, if the truth be known, my wife and daughter were my two biggest fans and specifically asked that I spend less time with them. Sadly, their fondest wish will now go unfulfilled.
Others have speculated that certain closet-based skeletons and previously undisclosed personal scandals caused me to reconsider my position. Let me unequivocally refute that notion right now. Without commenting on my financial shortcomings and the several unfortunate animal-related allegations, I am proud of my record and would not be ashamed to discuss these matters publicly in a presidential campaign. Given today’s decision, however, such a discussion is not presently required.
Conjecture was rife (or perhaps rifeless) that I would not run due to my past political record. That is simply not true. There is nothing in my political record that I am ashamed of or that would cause me to withdraw my name from consideration. That is, of course, because there is nothing in my political record.
Initially I had thought that the Republican Party deserved a wide array of candidates for the upcoming nomination battle. Clearly there was no shortage of right-of-center candidates including those on the hard right, the ultra right and the just plain nutty right. But there was a definite lack of left-of-center potential nominees.
With that fact in mind, I was prepared to offer myself up as a candidate to appeal to that segment of the Party faithful. However, it turns out that there is not a great deal of demand for even a centrist candidate, much less a so-called liberal one. I have been advised that the Democratic Party also has no current need for nominees of that persuasion.
In the end, I decided to absent myself from the upcoming nomination race because I realized that there was already a wealth of qualified individuals. With sterling candidates like Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich to choose from, there was no need to offer myself to the voters. I’m sure that one of those folks will make an acceptable Republican presidential nominee. At least that’s one thing Barack Obama and I can agree on.
In short, if nominated, I will not notice; if elected, I will not care.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Racing Canaries

This is an audio file which was slated for inclusion in a CD entitled "Writers' Block Party" but ultimately didn't make the final cut. A written version appeared in The Toronto Star a few years back. The MP3 icon will take you to the OverDrive site and the piece should start shortly after hitting the play arrow.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

All in a Twitter

Washington is all in a Twitter about the latest sex scandal, this one involving Representative Anthony Weiner of New York. Weinergate tells us two things: (1) those who ignore the history of sex scandals are condemned to repeat it and (2) many male politicians are not too bright.

In the interests of avoiding future D. C. sexcapades, it’s time to provide the current crop of pols a brief handy guide to the dos and don’ts (mostly don’ts) of illicit sex in the nation’s capital. Here then are some useful guidelines gleaned from the historical record:

Don’t sleep with movie stars
Sure, JFK got away with it. And although I didn’t personally know the former president, I can guarantee you that you’re no JFK and you won’t be sleeping with the likes of Marilyn Monroe. Remember that movie stars crave publicity and you shouldn’t. If you absolutely have to sleep with a celebrity, make sure she’s a foreign star that Americans have never heard of.

Don’t share the stage in a burlesque house with a stripper
Back in 1974, Wilbur Mills, the powerful chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, had a late night incident involving alcohol, driving and his companion Fanne Foxe, a well known Washington ecdysiast who jumped into the Tidal Basin. Mr. Mills survived that incident only to later take the stage with Ms. Foxe in Boston which lead to his resignation. The moral of the story? If you feel the need for an illicit midnight dip, stick to a chocolate-covered ice cream cone at your local Dairy Queen.

Don’t challenge the press to follow you
Back in 1987, presidential hopeful Gary Hart answered rumors of infidelity by challenging the press corps to follow him around. They did and – surprise, surprise – they caught him and his paramour Donna Rice in a compromising position on the deck of the appropriately named "Monkey Business." Thus, if you’re engaging in hanky panky, no need to admit it but don’t get too bold in your denials.

Don’t smoke
As Sigmund Freud once said: "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar." If Bill Clinton had remembered that catchy aphorism back in 1995, he might have avoided all the hot water he got into with Monica Lewinsky. Better yet, since Clinton had earlier claimed that he never inhaled, it would have been better if he had avoided taking up cigars at all. Cigars or no cigars, he never learned the most important White House lesson: don’t cavort with interns.

Do try to avoid being a hypocrite
People who sleep with mistresses in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. One of the first to jump on the self-righteous, dump-Bill Clinton bandwagon was the then Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. But all the time Newt was wagging his finger at Bill he was also carrying on his own extra-marital shenanigans not to mention serving his wife with divorce papers while she was receiving cancer treatment. Lesson learned? Always check your own behavior before attacking others.

Don’t use public washrooms
Larry Craig learned this lesson the hard way in 2007 in a public washroom in the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Granted, sometimes you have no choice and simply can’t wait until you get home. But if you are forced to avail yourself of a public restroom, just be sure to keep your arms and legs inside the stall and absolutely no foot tapping.

Don’t send naked pictures of yourself by e-mail
Mr. Weiner’s current predicament is a modern cautionary tale. The only packages you should be mailing are by UPS. Nobody likes junk e-mail especially when it’s a photo of your junk. It didn’t work for Brett Favre and it won’t work for you. And if your name is Rod, Dick or Weiner, that goes double. After all, it’s one thing to be scandalized; it’s quite another to be ridiculed.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Kitten Chow Mein

Harper posted a note on his official Facebook page asking people to pick a name for his family's new grey tabby. The options include "Stanley," "Smokie" and "Gandalf."

- The Canadian Press - June 5, 2011

Prime Minister Harper and his family have adopted a new kitten and invited Canadians to help name it. Eager feline fanciers had until Monday to vote for their favorite name.
The votes have now been tabulated and the winning name is "Stanley" in honor of the cup. Inside sources say, however, that some voters also submitted their own suggested names, all of which were rejected outright.
One Michael I. from Toronto apparently flooded Harper’s Facebook page with so many suggestions that his account was eventually terminated. Before Mr. I was shut down, he reportedly submitted the following names for the new cat: Nasty Guy, Auntie Democratic and Hidden A. Genda.
Jack L., also from Toronto, had a few suggested names for the Prime Minister’s kitty. Mr. L.’s first entry read: "I congratulate Mr. Harper on his majority but I urge him to rule from the center and, in that spirit, I suggest he name his new cat Moderate." His other proposed names included Parliamentary Decorum and Opposition Pussy.
Gilles D. from Montreal only made one entry but it was a forceful one presented entirely in caps. Mr. D.’s single proposed cat name was MAUDITES ORANGES!!
Elizabeth M. of Sidney, British Columbia was also a prolific contributor. All but one of her entries had an environmental theme such as Kyoto Kat, Green Tabby and Carbon Pawprint. The one exception was Debate Me.
It looks like some Conservative Party insiders also jumped on the cat-naming bandwagon. Probably looking to gain favor with the cat’s owner, John B. of Ottawa proffered the following possible names: Five Glorious Years, Our Beloved Leader and Top Tory Cat.
Based on a few not-so-rosy nominations, it appears that some Conservative Party lesser lights may be a bit bitter about their diminished roles in the new government. Two former ministers of state named Rob M. (Moore and Merrifield perhaps?) suggested Bound and Gagged and Kitten Chow Mein.
The new name has been announced and final approval was apparently contingent on a free vote within the Harper family. However, insiders say that Mr. Harper had a change of mind. At the last minute, he insisted the family vote be along party lines and his choice of Stanley therefore prevailed. Rumor has it that his alternate choices included Last Laugh, Alberta Firewall or Just Watch Me.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Crazy? You Betcha!

They say you’ve got to be a little crazy to run for president. Well, if Sarah Palin is any indication, that saying may well be true.
Just when we thought that Ms. Palin had ridden off into the sunset, she surprises everyone with a mystery bus tour to New Hampshire. Even her fellow Republicans are starting to wonder if she’s a few cubs short of a wolf pack.
The more I watch Sarah Palin in action, the more she seems to fit a pattern. A pattern that would qualify her as genuinely, certifiably cuckoo.
Now before you call me a biased liberal loony who’s just out to trash the finest potential presidential candidate from north of the 49th parallel since Ted Stevens, hear me out. All you have to do is check the official definition of something called "narcissistic personality disorder" to see that maybe what we’re dealing with is someone who, although she may well be playing with a full deck, just happens to have a couple of extra jokers.
Follow along with me as we assess each of the symptoms for this thing called narcissistic personality disorder:

Has excessive feelings of self-importance
If there’s one thing Sarah Palin has it’s an excessive feeling of self-importance. Notwithstanding a political resume as light as air, she still pretends that she’s in the same league as the big boys and girls of American politics.

Exaggerates achievements and talents
Less than a full term as Alaska’s governor seems to mean more to Ms. Palin than it does to the rest of us. It’s not clear that she did much during her brief tenure although she claims all manner of accomplishment.

Needs constant attention and admiration
Sarah Palin seems incapable of taking a break from the media spotlight. After the failed 2008 campaign, she spent a great deal of time capitalizing on her newfound fame and blaming John McCain for any perceived failures. Rather than take a break from the main stage, she elected to write her autobiography, become a television personality and then start her own bus tour.

Disregards the feelings of others and has little ability to feel empathy
Ms. Palin doesn’t hesitate to discard colleagues and supporters if it serves to advance her cause. Just ask her former Alaskan allies and John McCain about her empathic abilities.

Has obsessive self-interest
Whatever Sarah Palin does, it’s all about her. When it comes to self-absorption, she makes most teenagers look like selfless saints.

A preoccupation with power or success
Whether it was the mayoralty of Wasilla, the governorship of Alaska or the number two spot on the 2008 national Republican ticket, Sarah Palin is looking out only for herself. What looked to some as a bizarre resignation from her position as governor was merely a realization that there was nothing more to be gained for her personally.

Reacts to criticism with rage
We’ve all seen the surprising anger that Sarah Palin can visit on everyone from the "lamestream media" to her former running mate John McCain. She appears incapable of admitting fault and angrily deflects criticism by accusing others of wrongdoing.

Is preoccupied with fantasies of success and power
Sarah Palin would love to be president but she’s probably not that keen on all the work and responsibility the position entails. Her ultimate goal is to be a famous celebrity in her own right, someone who can get a daily fix of praise and adulation just by being herself.

So now that we’ve made a diagnosis, what’s the prognosis? Apparently the most effective treatment for a person with this condition is intensive psychotherapy. Perhaps the best thing for Sarah Palin (and us, for that matter) is for her to take over from Oprah Winfrey and have her own daytime talk show. She would gain all the attention she needs, might even benefit from some talk therapy and would definitely save the rest of us from a scary political future.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Dear Steve

An occasional advice column for the politically confused:

Dear Steve,
My pal Fabian and I are in a bit of a pickle. You see, a couple of months ago we both had cushy $132,000 jobs that didn’t require a lot of work. But then we thought it would be nice if we actually tried for elected positions. Everyone said we were shoe-ins but, guess what, we lost. Now we’re out of work and it really sucks. Anything we can do to get some easy work?
Larry S.

Dear Larry S.,
Leave it to me, boys. It looks like you were pretty happy with your old jobs. So why don’t we just get you reappointed? That should provide you with lots of long-term job security since, despite all the rumors, the last I heard was that no one would be touching those positions for a long, long time.

Dear Steve,
I’m at my wit’s end and I just don’t know what to do. We had this really great party and the leader kept saying that we should have an election so we could be in charge. Long story short: we lost big time and now we’re in lots of trouble. We’re looking to rebuild and someone mentioned a $2 vote subsidy we might qualify for. Can you help?
Bob R.

Dear Bob R.,
Sorry, no can do. I’ll talk to my friend Jim F. but I think he’s planning to pull the plug on that vote subsidy business. I hate to say it but maybe it’s time to roll up the carpet, take down the sign and put your party to bed. From what I hear, your former party is doing pretty well. Maybe you can find a home there.

Dear Steve,
Congratulations on your majority government. Much to my surprise, our party now forms the official opposition. I’m not sure exactly what that means but I think it’s a good thing. My members say that you can advise me as to what I should do to raise some issues that we could work on together.
Jack L.

Dear Jack L.,
Congratulations to you, too. Official opposition? That’s quite an accomplishment. As to working together, let me get back to you on that in about four or five years.

Dear Steve,
Remember me? I used to be a minister under Brian Mulroney but then I had a bit too much to drink, got on a motorcycle and rode right out of his cabinet. Anyway, good news; I’ve been reelected and was hoping to get back into cabinet. I heard that you want to reduce government and keep cabinet positions to a minimum. Any chance you could still find a spot for an old pal?
Bernie V.

Dear Bernie V.,
Yes, I’m a big believer in limited government and smaller cabinets. Nah, just kidding. Heck, we won a majority and that means if old friends need a helping hand, now’s the time to provide it. Don’t tell anybody but I’ve just upped the cabinet to a record 39 ministries. I’m almost making them up on the fly so how about we make you Minister of State for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and Francophonie? No kidding.

Dear Steve,
I’ve been hiding in the closet for a good five years now. A lot of people suspected I was there but I made sure the door was closed tight and never let anyone in to look at me. It’s been a shameful existence and I’d really like to come out now and let Canadians know who I really am. What should I do?
Hidden A. Genda

Dear Hidden,
Don’t be afraid. Come on out. It’s a different world today. People are much more accepting of philosophical, social and sexual differences. Just because you want to build more prisons when the crime rate is decreasing is no reason to hide. Nor does your desire to get rid of a functioning long gun registry make you a pariah any longer. Sure, a lot of people won’t be happy when you show your face but you have a right to be seen and heard. Welcome aboard.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Daria Does Doha

It has been widely reported that the Navy SEALS who killed Osama bin Laden were able to recover a huge cache of files including an extensive collection of pornography. Now seldom reliable sources have revealed the specific contents of that collection including:

* An X-rated video entitled "Extra Hummus Please" featuring a shawarma delivery man being tempted by a harem of 72 virgins.
* An erotic flip book with pictures of a veiled female. As the user flips the pages, the veil alternately disappears and reappears.
* A copy of the August 2006 issue of "Playmartyr." The centerfold features 19-year-old, burka-clad Amber with all four wrists and ankles exposed. Amber attends Abbottabad Community College and says her turn-ons include kittens, clouds and buff, self-immolating jihadis. Bin Laden reportedly said that he only bought the magazine to burn the articles.
* Two VHS copies of the classic middle eastern porno "Daria Does Doha" in which a fully-clad cheerleader serves figs and tea to the entire Qatar football team.
* Several copies of a monthly magazine called "Babes With Big Burqas."
* A steamy Arabic romance novel entitled "God Willing", part of a series of monogamous sex fantasies about Arab men being married to only one wife.
* An al Qaeda snuff film entitled "Top Ten Suicide Bombings of the 21st Century."
* A number of apparently fetishistic items including a leather hijab, a nylon abaya and a George W. Bush pin cushion doll.
* A hard-core pornographic film allegedly containing group sex called "We’re All Going To Hell" that has no lighting or sound.
* A series of soft-core videos entitled "Secretaries of State Gone Wild" featuring Hillary Clinton, Condaleeza Rice and Madeleine Albright look-a-likes in some semi-steamy, girl-on-girl diplomatic action. Each video shows the "secretaries" negotiating, compromising and frequently changing positions.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Joe Biden - SIC

"There was also a diary in which he [Osama bin Laden] jotted his musings on how to kill U. S. President Barack Obama, but not Joe Biden, the vice president, who, he wrote, was not worth the effort."
- The Ottawa Citizen - May 15, 2011

TO: Vice President Joe Biden
FROM: Vice Presidential Chief of Staff
RE: Increased visibility for the office of Vice President

As requested, we have investigated your surprisingly low profile in the eyes of our terrorist enemies and have considered various steps for rectifying the situation. As you said, it was disappointing to hear that you were "not worth the effort." If it is any consolation, everyone here at the White House considers that you are definitely worth killing.

The question then becomes: "How can we raise your public profile in order to attract the kind of attention that would make you assassination-worthy?" We have brainstormed this issue and here are our initial recommendations:
* It would definitely help, sir, if you had a cool acronym for your title like POTUS for the President of the United States. Consideration was given to VPOTUS and VEEP#1 but most of us felt you should go with SIC for "second in command."

* Perhaps it’s time to toughen up your image. Have you considered carrying a gun? We’re not suggesting anything ostentatious or showy. Rather, we think a tastefully conservative handgun would probably serve your purposes. Perhaps a Colt single action .45 "Peacemaker" like General George S. Patton wore in World War II except without the ivory handle.

* Few Americans are aware of your frequent use of passenger trains to travel back and forth from Washington to your home in Wilmington, Delaware. Given that bin Laden specifically targeted our country’s passenger rail system for terrorist attacks, it’s only fitting that more coverage be given to your courageous rail riding. Perhaps a press release with the heading "He may be the nation’s number two but on America’s rails, he’s number one."

* We know that we won’t be getting any more hurtful diary entries from bin Laden but to ensure that none of his top lieutenants do likewise, we suggest an open letter to al Qaeda detailing the pertinent Constitutional provisions regarding presidential succession. If they nail Obama, then you’re the President and presumably automatically their new number one target. Based on that fact alone, you should be getting a whole lot more respect.

* Although not everyone was in agreement with this final suggestion, some around the table felt it was the quickest, most effective route to attaining a higher status on the terrorist hit list. According to some, all you need do is tell an insensitive joke about Muslims, blame Islam for the problems of the Middle East or draw a cartoon or two making fun of the prophet Mohammed. Personally, I do not support this recommendation but I would add that if you do decide to follow it, I would suggest you give serious consideration to the handgun proposal as well.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Derail America

WASHINGTON (AFP) –– Intelligence seized from Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan showed his Al-Qaeda network pondered strikes on US trains on the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, US officials said Thursday.

Although the particulars of terrorist plans to disrupt American rail service have been classified as top secret, some details have been leaked as evidenced by these recently revealed excerpts:

Derail America
With our brethren stationed at switching yards throughout America, we hoped to be able to derail several Amtrak trains on September 11th. It was expected that this would cause great disruption, injuries and loss of commerce to our enemy.
On further examination, however, it was decided to terminate this operation. Apparently the derailment of several Amtrak trains on any given day would not be unusual or give much cause for concern.

Stop Amtrak
By using various means such as cutting electrical lines and draining diesel fuel, it was hoped that we could freeze Amtrak service at several major cities on September 11th. With no passenger trains leaving from those centers, it was expected that American commerce would have been brought to a halt.
Although our agents could have carried out this plan, even if it were completely successful, it would not have had any significant effect on the American transportation system as such an occurrence is apparently a regular event.

Train Highjackings
Four teams of sleeper agents have been studying at private schools in America to operate high-speed locomotives. On September 11th, we had planned to have each team board a passenger train in a different major American city.
The idea was that each team would overpower the crew of the train and take over the controls of the engine. The train would then change course and be driven directly into a major structure causing great disruption and loss of life.
Unfortunately, our American sources have now informed us that it is highly unlikely that our agents would have been able to turn the trains around and change their direction of travel. It would have been useful to have this information at the outset of planning.

Operation On Time
After much deliberation, we have settled on this final plan which we have been assured will maximize damage to the Great Satan.
It is well known that the infidels’ national passenger rail service called Amtrak is notorious for its poor service. American rail travelers have come to rely on the predictable lateness of those trains, particularly within the Boston to Washington corridor.
We have infiltrated the Amtrak network and installed sleeper agents in ticket offices and trains all along the Eastern seaboard. On September 11th, we will give the signal and our agents will take steps to ensure that train service on that day is on time and efficient.
It is expected that tens of thousands of Americans will be totally confused by this unexpected on-time service. They will therefore miss their connections, not make meetings and generally disrupt the business of the nation for that day and possibly for days to come. In the name of Allah, we pray for success.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Bird Watching In Washington

It’s springtime and a sure sign of the season is the return of various migratory birds in Washington and elsewhere. Recent sightings include:

The African American Obama
Perhaps because of its name, the African American obama is often mistakenly thought to be native to Kenya. In fact, this White House-perched bird is from Chicago by way of Hawaii. Noted for its melodious tones, the African American obama seems to have recently lost its voice and may have to return next year to one of its former homes.
The Wandering Emmanuel
Native to the Chicago area, the wandering emmanuel is known for its lengthy forays into different climes, particularly in the Washington, D. C. area. More recently, however, this bird was once again spotted in its original nesting area sporting a mayoral crown.
The Woodcutting Bush
This bird once migrated back and forth between Washington and Texas but now stays year-round in its Dallas sanctuary. Once noted for its single-minded devotion to cutting, be it taxes or troop strength, it now only cuts brush. Native to Connecticut, the woodcutting bush masks its true origins with western coloring and a faux Texan warble.
The Snowy Clinton
Noted for its snowy plumage and plump girth, the snowy clinton no longer summers in the D. C. area. Leaving its mate to forage in Washington, the snowy clinton migrates throughout the country looking for admiring crowds. Previously known for its forceful cry of "is is", "is is."
The Grousing Giuliani
Once spotted regularly in the New York City area, the grousing giuliani now makes occasional and sporadic visits to various primary states. Apparently seeking a new home in Washington, this bird has yet to find a suitable flight path to the nation’s capital. Known for its strident cry of "9/11", "9/11", the grousing giuliani has recently adopted a more muted tone.
The Thin-skinned McCain
Originally a western-based bird, the thin-skinned mccain has spent the last thirty years perched in both congressional houses in Washington. It once tried to take over the top perch but fell victim to its own stubborn pride. Can be identified by its aging plumage and its relentless cry of "maverick", "maverick."
The Pileated Palin
A rare northern species, the pileated palin hails from Alaska but now spends much of its time in New York singing for a fox. This bird’s prominent crest attracts much attention as does its elaborate plumage and its repetitive cry of "you betcha", "you betcha."
The Silver-haired Romney
Spotted throughout the United States from California to Massachusetts, the silver-haired romney regularly takes flight every four years. Although it would apparently like nothing better than to perch in a big white house in Washington, this bird’s unorthodox belief system always seems to jeopardize its intended flight pattern.

Monday, April 25, 2011

With Six You Get Eggroll

"The multimillion-dollar F-35 stealth fighter the Conservatives want to purchase comes with all the accoutrements of a high-tech aircraft — everything except an engine."
- The Calgary Herald - April 16, 2011

Throughout the federal election campaign there’s been some debate about the actual cost of the new fighter jets the Harper government is planning to purchase. The other parties kept saying that the Tories had low-balled the price. Finally, there is a satisfactory explanation. The Conservatives’ cost estimate is accurate but only because each plane comes without an engine.

What is even more surprising is that the revelation of Canada’s new engine-less fleet of fighter jets has not appeared to hurt the Tories in the polls. They’re still hovering in the high 30s with a Parliamentary majority easily in sight.
Given the public’s apparent willingness to accept just about anything when it comes to political promises, all of the federal parties are now scrambling to up the ante, to wit:

The Liberals
Since there is no downside to empty promises (or at least empty planes), Michael Ignatieff has revised his party’s commitment to healthcare spending. "We previously promised an annual increase in transfers to the provinces of six per cent," said the Liberal leader. "But we now realize that we were being, if you’ll pardon the expression, conservative in our estimate. We’d now like to up that promise to twelve per cent a year." Since there is little chance that the Liberals will form the government, Mr. Ignatieff is prepared to up that promise by six per cent a week until such time as his party sees an actual bump in the polls.

The Conservatives
After promising Canadians relatively inexpensive, albeit engine-less, planes, it was difficult for the Conservatives to come up with something better. But thanks to the Tories’ political brain trust, it looks like they may have an even more incredible promise up their collective sleeve: tax-less corporations. "I know we said that we were lowering the corporate tax rate to 15 per cent," said Stephen Harper. "But there’s really no reason we can’t knock that right down to nothing. In other words, there would still be a corporate tax rate; it’s just that it would be zero. If a 15 per cent rate creates jobs, imagine what a zero per cent rate will do."

Now seeing that there is no downside to campaign commitments, Jack Layton has decided to promise the moon. Literally. "So far we’ve promised Canadians a chicken in every pot and a Lada in every garage," said Mr. Layton. "But now we’re shooting for the moon or, to be more precise, actually promising the moon." If voters decide to elect Canada’s first NDP government, each and every citizen will be deeded a plot of land on the lunar surface. "It’s yours to keep and do with as you please," said Layton. "All you have to do is get there and stake your claim."

The Bloc Quebecois
When it comes to incredible promises, the Bloc appears to have outdone all the other parties. "If Stephen Harper can sell you an engine-less jet," said Gilles Duceppe. "Then it should be easy for me to sell Quebecers on a cost-free independent Quebec. Just vote ‘yes’ and you can have it all: a separate Quebec nation plus a Canadian passport and continuing federal transfer payments from Ottawa." Sadly, though, the cost-free Quebec nation may have one other similarity to the new F-35s: it may never fly.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"Dare to be Average" giveaway

If you've got an e-reader, you can now get my latest book "Dare to be Average" for nothing. Well, almost nothing, specifically $2.99. Just go to the Kindle store on and read away:

Friday, April 15, 2011

Shut 'Er Down

Having reached a dramatic eleventh hour agreement last Friday night, Congressional leaders avoided what was being portrayed as a catastrophic government shutdown. But would it really have been that bad? Let’s consider the consequences.

If no agreement had been reached then apparently IRS workers would have been furloughed thereby delaying any tax refund you might be owed. Is that really such a big deal? Considering that most of us probably owe taxes, the fact that tax bureaucrats couldn’t get to our files would probably have been a good thing.

There could have been a delay in processing social security claims and the issuance of cards. Again, is this so bad? We’ve been talking for years about how the social security system is underfunded and headed for bankruptcy. What better way to avert a financial implosion than to stop paying claimants for awhile. Let’s face it; the longer the shutdown goes on, the fewer claimants there’ll be when payments finally do resume.

Likewise, Medicare claims would have been stalled. Not a bad thing necessarily. (See social security above.)

A government shutdown would have meant a slowing of police investigations of certain matters. One type of case that likely would have been shelved indefinitely is bankruptcy. There are a lot of former homeowners out there who would welcome such a development. Again, not such a bad thing.

If the shutdown had lasted more than a week, then members of the military would have had to report to work without pay. Sounds harsh but think about where this might have led. Already fed up with the never-ending conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, members of the armed forces might have taken matters into their own hands and come home now.

Some say pulling the plug on government funding would have resulted in the suspension of many programs designed to clean up the environment. They also say that it would mean the closure of national parks thereby shutting out millions of visitors. Given the absence of litter-dropping, fire-starting, tree-chopping park visitors, it looks like a shutdown could have done far more for the environment that a bunch of pencil-necked bureaucrats.

Others have noted that a government shutdown could result in delays in processing FHA mortgage loans to low and middle-income home buyers. But wasn’t it just two years ago that the whole economy just about came tumbling down because of unwise mortgage loans to low and middle-income earners?

Maybe a delay will make these folks think twice about taking on more debt.

So perhaps a government shutdown would not be such a bad thing after all. In fact, if members of Congress were furloughed too, it might be the best thing that’s happened to this country in years.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Monday Night Golf

"The NFL’s national TV partners - ESPN, Fox, CBS and NBC - are not saying much about what they’ll put on the air if there are no NFL games this fall. Maybe they don’t know."

- USA Today, March 14, 2011

It turns out that the networks do know what they’ll be broadcasting if the NFL lockout continues. Here’s a sneak preview of week one’s planned replacement programming:
Sunday, September 11th, 1 P.M. - FOX: "Let’s Call It Football"
For a fraction of the cost of NFL broadcast rights, FOX has chosen to televise English league soccer games. The five-hour time difference between England and the east coast makes a perfect fit with evening games from the old country. "Did you know they call soccer football in England?" said a FOX spokesperson. "We’re hoping many of our longtime fans won’t notice a big difference what with both games having an offsides rule and lots of kicking." The network is tentatively planning a series of pre-season shows to educate North American viewers about the beautiful game. First up is a one-hour instructional video entitled "The ball is round but the field’s still square."
Sunday, September 11th, 4 P.M. - CBS: "Football Movies"
The Tiffany Network is planning to raid Hollywood’s vaults and show every football movie ever made. Starting with the classic pigskin tearjerker "Knute Rockne All American", CBS hopes to hook as many male football fans as it can. Subsequent weeks will feature everything from "Rudy" to "Remember the Titans." With a decided emphasis on heart-tugging, feel-good stories, CBS’s selection is designed to also appeal to a female audience. With any luck, by season’s end, the broadcast of everyone’s favorite football movie "Brian’s Song" will yield buckets of tears and ratings equal to or greater than actual NFL games.
Sunday, September 11th, 8 P.M. - NBC: "Hockey Night In America"
The lockout may be the best thing that ever happened to NBC. For a mere pittance, the network will be able to replace one violent, hard-hitting sport with another, namely hockey. Just like football, it’s got offsides, helmets, padding, fights and concussions. American viewers have traditionally not been interested in hockey but NBC’s test marketing suggests a few minor changes may help turn the tide. Building on the popularity of recent NHL Winter Classics, Sunday night’s televised matches will all be held in outdoor football stadiums complete with a 100-yard ice surface, 20-feet high goal posts and a movable line of scrimmage for the start of each play.
Monday, September 12th, 8:30 P.M. - ESPN: "Monday Night Golf"
ESPN is taking a big gamble and substituting PGA match play for "Monday Night Football." But maybe it’s not such a big gamble when you consider the new twists they’ll be introducing. Every Monday night will feature 18 holes of head-to-head play between two top-20 professional golfers. With an ever-increasing number of aging baby boomers hitting the links, ESPN is hoping they have a winner, particularly with their new nighttime, no-lighting format. Infrared cameras will track the progress of the likes of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson as they blindly navigate some of America’s top golf courses. With errant shots and frequent injuries, no one will be calling golf on TV boring anymore.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Will and Kate Do Hollywood

TO: David Cameron, Prime Minister, 10 Downing Street, London, England
FROM: Swifty Emanuel, Public Relations Agent, Hollywood, California
RE: Proposed Will and Kate P. R. Campaign

Hi Dave,

Good talking to you the other day. Hope all is well in jolly old England.
As for our discussion, there are almost two months to go until the royal wedding. So far, Will and Kate have done their best to keep their names in the news. But recently, I think you’ll have to admit, they’ve grown a bit desperate in their attempts. For example, the best they could do last week was a return visit to their old alma mater St. Andrews University and the christening of a lifeboat somewhere in Wales.
Thankfully, I’ve assembled a crack team of our best public relations agents and will be flying them in from Hollywood to rescue the situation. Headed by me, the team has already scheduled a bunch of events this week to halt the unfolding disaster and is quickly working on an agenda to fill the gap until April 29th, the date of the royal wedding.
Tomorrow will be wall-to-wall Will and Kate as they appear on every breakfast TV show from London to L. A. to give their take on Sunday’s Oscar winners. Not only will this help demonstrate the couple’s "common touch", it will provide plenty of opportunities to mention the royal wedding and, in particular, the date.
Later this week, the royal-couple-to-be will be live blogging on preparations for their wedding date. The British duo will be available to online visitors to answer questions on everything from Kate’s dress to the wedding dinner menu to the couple’s favorite sexual positions. Those interested can log on to
We’re proposing a geographical approach for our clients for the month of March. Week one will center European visits, week two will feature the Orient and week three has the couple touring South America.
The end-of-March "Royal Tour America" will end with a flurry of late-night talk show guest appearances on April 1st. Kate plans to do the L. A. circuit including Leno and Ferguson while Will tackles the New York scene with spots on Letterman and Fallon. No word yet on whether the couple will join up later for a tag-team interview by Barbara Walters, Diane Sawyer and, if we can swing it, Larry King but we’re definitely in the final stages of negotiations.
April presents a challenge as there is a real risk that public interest in the nuptials will begin to wane. To that end, I’ve taken the liberty of penciling in Prince William’s bachelor party for the second Saturday in April. Tentatively slated for Las Vegas, this grand bash will be hosted by none other than William’s party-savvy brother, Prince Harry. The party will be open to the public and is scheduled for the entire weekend. I’m going to assume that despite Harry’s past predilections, no hookers or recreational drugs will be included.
As April unfolds, the campaign is planning to ramp up the excitement even more. There will be daily radio phone-in giveaways of free tickets to the wedding and the reception. Some lucky folks will even win an all-expenses-paid trip to London to join in the wedding rehearsal and meet Will and Kate at the rehearsal dinner.
I think you’ll agree, Dave, that this campaign will be a winner and I have no doubt that your little country will be able to do "boffo box office" as we say here in California. Let me know what you think and I await final approval of our proposal to have Oprah officiate at the wedding. If she has to be temporarily appointed the Archbishop of Canterbury for the weekend, so be it.

Ta-ta and cheerio,
Your pal Swifty
Don't forget to check out my new book "Dare to be Average" at

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Dancing With The Pols

ABC has announced its contestant list for the upcoming season of "Dancing with the Stars." With B and C-list celebrities like Kirstie Alley, Ralph Macchio and Playboy bunny Kendra Wilkinson, the show promises once again to be a big ratings winner for the network.

Which is why ABC has decided to take the "Dancing with the Stars" concept to the next level. Having already had some success with former House Majority Leader and convicted money launderer Tom DeLay, plans are now underway to launch a new celebrity dance show with nothing but politicians.

Here are some of the possible contestants for the 2012 debut season of "Dancing with the Pols":

Barack Obama
Already practiced in the Washington two-step (two quick steps followed by two slow steps), the President is looking for all the national exposure he can get in the fall of 2012. He’ll be trying to turn his two-step expertise into a two-term waltz to The White House.

Hillary Clinton
The current Secretary of State is hoping to convince hubby Bill to join her on the show. Between the two of them, they should be able to both talk and dance the jive. If Hillary doesn’t take the crown in 2012, she apparently is ready to tough it out for four more years.

John Boehner
The current Speaker of the House is already known for his tan and his lachrymose manner. Now he wants to show off his fancy footwork, too. Given his predilection for jumping from one right wing political position to another, he should be a top contender in the swing competition.

Sarah Palin
She’s a big fan of country music and all those fancy western dance steps. But given her current television employment, she’s likely going to be a standout FOX-trot competitor as well. Look for her to dance around the Republican presidential nomination in the fall of 2012.

Mitt Romney
The merengue is described as a Caribbean ballroom dance in which feet are frequently dragged. Having extensive experience in foot dragging, look for Mr. Romney to walk away with this part of the competition. Sadly, since he favors the one-step, he won’t likely make it to the final round.

Rudy Giuliani
The former New York City mayor and perennial presidential candidate would like to join the competition but sadly his dance repertoire is probably too limited to qualify. Giuliani only performs something called the 9/11, a dance step that has long since gone out of fashion.

Rahm Emanuel
This newly minted mayor has a far better chance of landing a spot on the show. Not only is Mr. Emanuel skilled in moves like coattailing and carbetbagging, he has mastered a wealth of ethnic Chicago dance steps including the polka, the hora and the graft. If he doesn’t win next year’s competition, don’t count him out for 2016.

Scott Walker
Wisconsin’s new uber-governor has reportedly signed on for next year and will bring with him a surprising repertoire of fancy moves. Although Mr. Walker won’t reveal much at this time, it’s thought that his favorite dance is the hustle performed to the song "Tea for Two" in honor of his support base.
Don't forget to check out my new book "Dare to be Average" at