Art and commentary by Kimberly Harris

Archive for February, 2011

President Obama Appoints a Cheese Czar

President Obama Appoints a Czar to manage the Federal Cheese Reserves

Dr. Al Gorgonzola, the newly appointed Cheese Czar

After reading alarming accounts in the news regarding the possibility of widespread food shortages in the near future, President Obama met with key officials in his cabinet to be briefed about possible measures he might propose in order to mitigate the impact on the citizenry.

The President had just seen the World Bank’s recently released Food Price Watch report which announced the disturbing news that the Bank’s Food Price Index had gone up by 15% in the three months between October 2010 and January 2011 and is a full 29% above its level a year ago. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization further stated that a 30% increase in food prices would be likely next year as well. The President’s advisors explained that a number of factors were at work, and that these were largely beyond anyone’s control, with global warming as the primary culprit. Among causes cited were devastating floods in Brazil, Pakistan and Australia, unprecedented droughts in Russia, Argentina and China and below average harvests in the United States and other countries. Increased demand and domestic inflation resulted in higher rice prices in some Asian and African countries and the diversion of corn for the production of ethanol was also considered to be a cause for increased prices in basic foodstuffs, including beef and poultry. In the United States, it is predicted that this year 40% of domestic corn production will be destined for processing into biofuels.

The officials were at a loss as to how to shield the US against this dangerous global phenomenon until Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack reminded the President of the existence of the nation’s Strategic Cheese Reserves, which are stockpiled deep underground in caves in Missouri. This hoard is the result of a longstanding federal program dating back to the Depression Era whereby the government purchased much of the excess cheese that was produced by the dairy industry. Only officials with high security clearances know for sure, but there is said to be well in excess of a million tons stored there with a current market value approaching $9 billion. Secretary Vilsack proposed that this cheese be mobilized and made available to needy people, much in the fashion as food stamps are today.

The President’s new Press Secretary, Jay Carney, even went as far as to suggest that Mr. Obama could garner favor among low-income voters by pitching bricks of cheddar from a White House balcony into a crowd of hungry, chronically unemployed, although the group unanimously discounted this idea.

The first lady was horrified at releasing the estimated 23 trillion calories stored in the cheese caves to an already overweight public, fearing that this would undermine her “Let’s Move” anti-obesity campaign. However, Mrs. Obama agreed to listen to all of the arguments put forth at the meeting.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar cautioned the President that for some time, the United States Geological Survey had been concerned that increasing underground geothermal activity caused by climate change could heat the cheese to the point where it would melt and violently erupt out through fissures in the rock, and potentially smother entire communities with a scalding yellow ooze. Secretary Salazar suggested that this would be an opportune time to release the stockpiles and clear out the caves, because FEMA would likely be incapable of dealing with a catastrophe of this nature, as their rescue launches would not be able to navigate in a medium as dense as molten cheese, which would quickly clog the heat exchangers on their engines.

Prior efforts to mitigate threats to the public and avoid a catastrophic caseous meltdown, numerous federal initiatives have been in place for some years. In 1995, the Department of Agriculture created a non-profit organization called Dairy Management, Inc. It is funded through assessments charged to the dairy producers and the taxpayer dollars and has a mandate to increase demand for U.S. dairy products.

Unfortunately, attempts to reduce the vast stores of cheese have only been met with moderate success. According to the New York Times, the best promotional efforts put forth by Dairy Management Inc. and the Department of Agriculture in their 2002 partnership with Pizza Hut in their celebrated 2002 “Summer of Cheese” only resulted in a meager incremental consumption of 102 million pounds cheese, which scarcely put a dent in the 1.3 million tons that are believed to exist in the nation’s underground repository.

Recognizing a unique opportunity to solve two worrisome problems at the same time, President Obama and his advisors moved swiftly to put a plan into action. Due to the magnitude and complexity of the undertaking, the President soon realized that it would be necessary to appoint a Cheese Czar to oversee the operation. After consulting his most trusted advisers, Mr. Obama soon settled on his leading candidate, a distinguished industry expert named Al Gorgonzola. Dr. Aloysius Gorgonzola earned his PhD in Food Science from the University of Wisconsin and later spent some time as an Assistant Professor at the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research. As an articulate speaker and an authority on cheese production and long-term storage, Dr. Gorgonzola fit the bill perfectly for steering America’s cheese policy and running what would soon become a high-profile operation with considerable public and media visibility. Within days of his nomination, the White House held a formal ceremony in the Rose Garden and invited many of Washington’s luminaries to participate in Mr. Obama’s historic conveyance of the prestigious title of Cheese Czar to a beaming Dr. Gorgonzola.

When Fox News television host Greta Van Susteren read the White House release, she immediately recognized Dr. Gorgonzola as a fellow Wisconsin cheesehead, and quickly contacted his office to arrange for him to appear on her show, “On the Record” and defend his suggestion that the state’s iconic football team be renamed “The Green Cheese Packers” because they always shoot for the moon.

Illustration by Kim Harris
Story by Don Rudisuhle

Jonathan Roosevelt Rat Portrait

Jonathan Roosevelt was a piebald rat that was one of President Theodore Roosevelt’s many exotic pets. He lived in the White House in the early 1900s and liked to play with the president’s children.

A portrait of President Theodore Roosevelt's pet rat

Jonathan Roosevelt Rat's Presidential Portrait

There has been a longstanding rumor that Jonathan rode in Teddy Roosevelt’s front jacket pocket during his famous charge up San Juan Hill during the Spanish American War. The actual truth was that he stayed home and took advantage of Colonel Roosevelt’s absence to conduct a raid of his own on his master’s cheese cellar back at Oyster Bay, New York

Piebald is a generic expression used to describe an animal that has patches of black and white or other colors.

Cupid on the Day After

Cupid is at the bar having a post-Valentine's Day drink

Cupid laments unfulfilled expectations of love

The day after Valentine’s Day can be pretty rough when the expectations for love are high but are ultimately not fulfilled.

Maybe we all expect a little too much of Cupid around Valentine’s Day. He is overworked and can only do so much and he takes his failures personally.

Robert Shops Etsy for Priscilla’s Birthday Presents

Robert chooses strange Valentine's Day gifts for his girlfriend including a giant squid hat

Maybe Robert should have gone to Jared's

Looking for those last minute special gifts for that special someone? Maybe it’s best not to take a tip from Robert.

Robert hopes to make this an extra special birthday this year for his girlfriend Priscilla with the purchase of handmade gifts from her favorite online marketplace, Etsy

He spent many hours browsing through the myriad of shops and strolling down their virtual aisles. He just knew she would love the giant fleece squid hat, the living moss heart-shaped belt buckle, the spectacular tulle tutu, a hand-knitted cowl and a quizzical needle felted owl. He wasn’t really sure about the camouflage tights, although he thought they were quite alluring.

Cupid Exceeds his Maximum Gross Takeoff Weight


Cupid eats too many Valentine's Day chocolate and can't get off the ground

Cupid exceeds his maximum gross takeoff weight

Have you already eaten that chocolate candy heart that was meant for your loved one? Don’t feel bad, you are in good company.

Don’t be too disappointed if your romantic dreams remain unfulfilled because of Cupid’s failure to show up this year. It appears that he packed on a few extra pounds binging on cream-filled valentine chocolates and is experiencing trouble getting off the ground because his overindulgence resulted in him exceeding his maximum gross takeoff weight.


Dusty the Hopeless Romantic

Dusty the bulldog leaves Fifi the poodle yellow love notes in a snow drift.

Dusty, the Hopeless Romantic

Dusty was a hopeless romantic who often left love notes in the snow for the objects of his affections.

Angelo, the Cupid Love Psychic

A retired Cupid is giving advice to the lovelorn over the telephone

Financial pressures from the recession force Cupid out of retirement and into a second career

The tough economy forces yet another senior citizen out of retirement and back into the work force.

Having finally retired after years of service in the matchmaking industry, Cupid hung up his quiver and was looking forward to having time to relax and pursue his favorite hobbies, bowling and hang gliding. However, the recent stock market collapse decimated his savings and left his 401K worth less than a bag of last year’s stale candy hearts. After reading an inspiring article in the AARP monthly magazine about seniors who successfully pursued second careers after retirement, Cupid decided to draw on his extensive experience in matchmaking and set himself up as a telephone love psychic. Now, as Angelo, the Cupid Love Psychic, he is supplementing his meager Social Security income with revenue from giving advice to the lovelorn

Bunga Bunga! Is There No End to the Political Sex Scandals?  

Senator Craig is about to get eaten by a monster

Senator Larry Craig's final tryst

No sooner have we finished digesting one reprehensible scandal when another set of lurid tales of sexual intrigue involving high profile political figures bursts upon the pages of tabloids and leaps off computer screens everywhere.

For the last few weeks we have been endured the increasingly scandalous accounts of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s “bunga bunga” parties, events that he explains away as orgies that he learned about under the tutelage of Moammar Gadhafi, the longstanding strongman Libyan ruler.

The European press lists a long litany of romantic liaisons involving the Italian Prime Minister. These include a hairdresser, an escort service worker, a showgirl, a nightclub dancer, a dental hygienist, an underwear model and a teenage nightclub belly dancer that goes by the moniker “Ruby Heartstealer,” to name a few.

Today the news is abuzz with the sudden resignation of Representative Christopher Lee, a two-term Republican congressman from New York. It all started a few weeks ago when Rep. Lee imprudently replied to a Craigslist advertisement from a woman who was searching for men who “don’t look like toads.” The Congressman, who is married, represented himself as being a divorced lobbyist and a “fit, fun classy guy,” seven years younger than his actual age. Even his most untoadlike appearance in the sexy shirtless photo he sent the woman failed to ally her suspicions and she soon figured out his true identity and communicated the incident to the news media. It all ended on February 9 with his unceremonious resignation, and the unflattering title of the “Craig’s List Congressman,” as well as the accompanying notoriety that placed him alongside other sexual luminaries like Eliot Spitzer (R-NY), the “Lov Gov,”  Rep. “Tickle Me Eric” Massa (D-NY) and  Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL), who allegedly courted underage congressional pages.

However the poster boy award for reckless sexual encounters goes to former Republican Senator Larry Craig of Idaho for his inopportune foot-shuffling advances towards a gentleman seated in the stall next to him in a restroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. In an unfortunate turn of events, the man turned out to be a plainclothes police officer who was in the process of investigating allegations of this very sort of illicit activity in airport restrooms. The Senator was arrested and charged with and suspicion of lewd conduct and soliciting an undercover police officer for sexual activity. In spite of his flashing a U.S. Senate business card and asserting his privilege, status and power, the Senator ultimately entered a guilty plea to a lesser charge and paid a fine. He did not run for a third term.

Jack Frost nipping at your nose?

Jack Frost is nipping at a man's nose

Jack Frost nips at a man's nose

Is Jack Frost nipping at your nose? It’s really cold outside and you can feel the bite of the frigid air. In recent days, the country has been beset by a brutal cold wave that has dropped vast amounts of snow and ice upon the land. Schools are closed, flights have been canceled and people have been stranded in their cars on the highways. In some major cities, life has virtually crawled to a standstill.

Al Gore’s Shovel-Ready Response to Global Warming

Al Gore is digging his private jet out of the snow

Al Gore and friends are off to the climate summit

Is climate change real? How do we reconcile real world experience with scientific observations? If it can be demonstrated that the planet is warming, was it caused by human activity? If so, are we capable of effectively carrying out measures to reverse the warming trend? Can we do so without compromising our fragile economic recovery? Will China and India go along? All these questions have my head spinning…

Yesterday morning when I got up, it was minus 27 degrees outside. It was 49 degrees in our bedroom. Brrr… No global warming here in Wyoming. The snow is several feet deep outside and sooner or later I will have to put on long underwear and lace up my Sorel boots and go take a shovel to it. None of our cars will start, even if I had the energy or inclination to dig them out.

A few days ago, in response to comments made on the air by Bill O’Reilly regarding the exceptionally harsh winter currently affecting the Eastern Seaboard, former Vice President Al Gore countered in his blog that for years, scientists have argued that warmer air around the world absorbs moisture which in turn falls in the form of snow when it encounters colder temperatures.

It must be mighty hot somewhere in the world to produce these massive countervailing deep freezes across the United States. I don’t know what to make of all this, but I would gladly accept some global warming, even just a little regional warming, so that I don’t have to wear mittens while I type this blog. (It was 44 degrees in my little studio when I sat down at my computer this morning.)

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