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The Whole World Is Watching
Posted by JeffR in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Tue Feb 24th 2009, 10:56 PM
No mention of switchgrass.

No warnings about the imminent threat of human/animal hybrids.

No mission to Mars.

Nothing about how to put food on your family.

No answer to whether our children is learning.

No assurances about how a free and democratic Iraq will be a beacon in the Middle East.

No reminder of how incredibly safe we are now that Saddam is gone.

Not a word about how Ahmadwhatisname is the most fearsome madman the nation has ever faced.

No reminder that the government never stops thinking about ways to make us less safe.

Not a hint of strategery about how we're going to triumph over radical Islamaniacs who hate us for our freedoms.

No indication that Freedom Fries will once again adorn the menu at the Capitol Hill noshery.

Not a thing about how we have to watch what we say and support the Commander in Chief in time of war.

No reassurances about bringing dignity and honor back to the White House.

No indication of willingness on the part of the First Lady to adorn herself in bordello drapes.

Not a single smirk.

Nary a "heh-heh."

Well, damn.

This is not the change I voted for.

Oh, wait. Yes, it is.


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Posted by JeffR in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Sun Feb 15th 2009, 08:41 PM
"There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children." – Nelson Mandela

By Mandela's measure, America's soul is sick.

While the poverty rate among all Americans is currently estimated at about one in eight, among those 18 and younger it is about one in six.

To put the numbers in more concrete terms, consider this: the number of poor children in the United States is greater than the combined populations of New York and Los Angeles.

And every 33 seconds, a newborn American takes his or her first breath in poverty.

In Mandela's terms, the Children's Defense Fund 2008 annual report is indeed revelatory. Among its findings:

753 white babies per day begin their lives in poverty, along with 794 African-American babies and 956 Latino babies.

Nearly six million children in the United States experience extreme poverty, defined as being a member of a family whose income is below half of the official poverty line. That poverty line, of course, is widely considered outmoded and inadequate as a measure of real poverty.

Nine million American children have no health insurance. In Texas, which fares worst among all 50 states, 20 percent of children are uninsured. Nationwide, 20 percent of Native American children and 20 percent of Hispanic children likewise have no insurance coverage.

Among industrialized nations, the United States ranks 22nd in low birth weight rates and 25th in infant mortality.

In 2007, 12.7 percent of children in the United States received food stamp assistance. The number has risen each year since 2000 and the coming of "compassionate conservatism" to Washington.

The percentage of American children experiencing homelessness in a given year is estimated to be anywhere from five to almost eight percent. In Illinois alone, 25,000 children annually are homeless.

As "bail-out" fever sweeps Washington, it's time to put poor children at the top of the priority list.

Please contact President Obama and demand action: /

Phone: 202-456-1111

A mere eight states are home to more than half of poor children in America: California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio and Texas.

Contact information for the Governors of these states follows:

17.3 percent of California's children live in poverty

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-445-2841
Fax: 916-445-4633

Web contact form:

17.1 percent of Florida's children live in poverty

Governor Charlie Crist
Office of the Governor
The Capitol
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001
Phone: 850-488-7146
Fax: 850-487-0801

Web contact form:

19.7 percent of Georgia 's children live in poverty

Governor Sonny Perdue
The Office of the Governor
State of Georgia
203 State Capitol
Atlanta, Georgia 30334
Phone: 404-656-1776
Fax: 404-657-7332
Web contact form:

16.6 percent of Illinois's children live in poverty

Governor Pat Quinn
Office of the Governor (Springfield)
207 State House
Springfield, IL 62706
Phone: 217-782-0244
TTY: 888-261-3336

Office of the Governor (Chicago)
James R. Thompson Center
100 W. Randolph, 16-100
Chicago, IL 60601
Phone: 312-814-2121

Web contact form: /

19.4 percent of Michigan's children live in poverty

Governor Jennifer Granholm
P.O. Box 30013
Lansing, Michigan 48909
Phone: (517) 373-3400
Phone: (517) 335-7858 - Constituent Services
Fax: (517) 335-6863

Web contact form:,1607,7-168-2...

19.4 percent of New York's children live in poverty

Governor David Paterson
State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224

Phone: 518-474-8390

Web contact form:

18.5 percent of Ohio's children live in poverty

Governor Ted Strickland
Governor's Office
Riffe Center, 30th Floor
77 South High Street
Columbus, OH 43215-6108

General Info: (614) 466-3555
Fax: (614) 466-9354

Web contact form:

23.2 percent of Texas's children live in poverty

Governor Rick Perry
Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711-2428

Phone: (512) 463-2000
Fax: (512) 463-1849

Web contact form accessible through this page: /

This essay reposted in full by permission of

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Posted by JeffR in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Fri Jan 02nd 2009, 05:09 PM
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 25:

"(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection."

– adopted and proclaimed December 10, 1948 by the General Assembly of the United Nations

Sixty years later, the signatories of this declaration might be shocked at the lack of progress in making these simple principles a reality. Nowhere is that lack of progress more paradoxical than in the United States of America.

In a nation where urgent public policy priorities are legion, why is poverty not at the top of the list? Why is it deemed acceptable or intractable? And why do so many believe that the poor are "others" when in fact they are a large and growing proportion of "us"?

"A 1997 study by University of Michigan economist Rebecca Blank found that one third of all U.S. residents will experience government-defined poverty within a 13-year period." – The Poor Will Always Be With Us: Just Not on the TV News, Neil deMause & Steve Rendall, Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting, 2007

"The official poverty line – about $20,000 a year for a family of four – is an arbitrary one, created in the 1960s and only adjusted for inflation since then. Over time, it has fallen steadily further from the social mainstream: It used to be about 50 percent of median income; now it's about 30 percent. Studies of a minimally decent standard of living routinely find that the typical cost is twice as high as the poverty line, or higher. Ninety million Americans – nearly one-third of the nation – have household incomes below twice the poverty line, a figure far larger than the 'official' number of 37 million in poverty." – Mark Greenberg, Center for American Progress, 2007

The deMause and Rendall study quoted above is a jaw-dropping indictment of mainstream media's failure to report the truth. But the so-called progressive community and its news outlets have been little better, consistently avoiding poverty in favor of a host of seemingly more "fashionable" causes.

While the Fourth Estate bears much responsibility for our ignorance about poverty, so do our elected officials. For some, lying came easily:

"You can't help those who simply will not be helped. One problem that we've had, even in the best of times, is people who are sleeping on the grates, the homeless who are homeless, you might say, by choice." Ronald Reagan on Good Morning America, January 31, 1984

For others, a mixture of wishful thinking and self-congratulatory rhetoric helped to obfuscate policy failure and cloud public debate:

"When I sign {the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act}, we all have to start again, and this becomes everybody's responsibility. After I sign my name to this bill, welfare will no longer be a political issue." Bill Clinton, August 22, 1996

Democratic politicians are still fond of citing FDR's and LBJ's heroic efforts at fighting poverty, as if victory has been won, as if those efforts had not long ago been subverted by corporatist zealots and think-tank propagandists.

Republicans, by contrast, are not simply in denial. Hostility toward the poor is enshrined in their ideological thousand points of blight, and they can generally count on complicity from the other side of the aisle.

On the campaign trail, we heard a lot from President Elect Obama about the dichotomy between Wall Street and Main Street, and the dangers facing the middle class. What he seldom spoke of are the streets where the poor live, or where they wander homeless, betrayed by a nation's faltering commitment to affordable housing and social justice. Perhaps campaign strategists and pollsters decreed that such topics didn't "test well" with voters.

Yet the President Elect has also written eloquently about poverty in The Audacity of Hope. Of any national politician in the past three decades, he seems closest to being someone who understands something about the systemic causes and mechanics of the poverty trap. So, at least, I hope.

Recently I wrote about a grassroots commitment to making January Poverty in America Awareness Month, a personal campaign to help ensure that poverty remains high on the Obama Administration's agenda, and on media radar screens. The response here was very heartening. I'd humbly ask that you reread that piece and take some time this month to raise awareness about poverty, homelessness and hunger, and to advocate for real change on these issues.

This is not a substitute for other actions we can and must take to fight poverty. If we have time, energy and money to contribute, then of course we should.

Yet we can also help break through the de-facto media blackout and help politicians understand that poverty must be recognized as a central challenge of what Barack Obama, quoting Martin Luther King, has referred to as "the fierce urgency of now."

To this end, four members of the DU community will be contributing essays on the next four Fridays, covering "old poverty" versus "new poverty", economic injustice, listening to those closest to the problem, and the role of the media. They will be lending their voices to what must become a mighty chorus if poverty in America is ever to be ended.

I urge you to watch for these posts and to join your voice with theirs.

I wish everyone a peaceful, hopeful and happy 2009. There are none who deserve this more than the poor among us.

This project is dedicated with love to the late Sapphire Blue, who did so much to keep poverty issues front and center at DU.

This essay is reposted in full by permission of

Feel free to use the graphic below in your signature line, but please don't hotlink. PM me if you have any questions.

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Posted by JeffR in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Mon Dec 22nd 2008, 09:39 PM
Shakespeare, Sonnet 116:

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:

O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken

Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.

If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Posted with love and solidarity to GLBT DUers. Until your rights equal mine, my rights are a lie.

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Posted by JeffR in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Sun Dec 21st 2008, 03:49 PM
They are children and they are seniors.

They are minorities and they are white.

They are straight and they are gay.

They are college graduates and high school dropouts.

They are disabled or sick without insurance and they are healthy.

They are jobless without benefits and they are working one or more low-wage jobs.

They are mothers and fathers and they are sons and daughters.

They are devout believers in God and they are atheists.

They are conservatives and they are liberals.

They are recent immigrants and they are descendants of Mayflower families.

They are strangers and they are friends, relatives, neighbors.

They are invisible, yet they are hidden in plain sight.

They are the poor. They are one in eight of us nationally, but in Milwaukee, Philadelphia or Newark, the number is around one in four. In Detroit or Buffalo, the number is closer to one in three.

For middle class Americans today, a rapidly worsening economy threatens foreclosure, unemployment, lost health insurance, ambitions deferred, dreams abandoned. For over 36 million Americans, however, the crisis is already here.

The media, mainstream and alternative alike, have paid shockingly little attention to poverty in America. The same can be said of all but a few of our politicians.

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development has declared January "Poverty in America Awareness Month" with these stated goals:
· Releasing a powerful public service campaign to raise awareness of poverty in America.
· Encouraging the editorial media to focus on poverty.
· Educating the public to be sensitive to the needs of those in poverty and to treat poor people with respect.
· Holding events in Catholic schools and public settings to make sure poverty is top-of-mind for all Americans.

Whatever one's religious beliefs, or even if one has no religion, it's difficult to imagine anyone committed to social justice being unsympathetic to these aims.

On behalf of a group of DU members (all of whom, I hope, will add their comments here), I'd like to urge everyone to follow the example of the CCHD and devote some time in January to help raise awareness about poverty.

What can be done in fifteen minutes a week for four weeks?

Write to your local newspaper, write or call your elected representatives and, perhaps most importantly, contact President Elect Obama to help ensure that his vision for change includes addressing poverty, hunger and affordable housing as the urgent issues they are.

Can fifteen minutes a week of our time really help? There's only one way to find out.

Please consider making this effort your resolution for a truly New Year. January marks a new beginning for the nation after eight long, terrible years. Let's do what we can to make it a new beginning for the poor as well.

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Posted by JeffR in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Fri Nov 21st 2008, 01:38 PM
The issue of homelessness is dire, and the solution is low-income housing. This is not a high-visibility issue, and it's important to let the Obama administration know that low-income housing desperately needs attention.

Please read through the facts about low-income housing below, pick one or two facts that you see as important, and write one or two sentences about it to the Transition Team at:

Then, please pass this on to friends, family and anyone you can think if in order to take action on this. Homelessness MUST be eradicated in the richest country in the world, but it won't be unless we start now to draw attention to this issue!

Thank you for your efforts!

Between 1970 and 1995, the gap between the number of low-income renters and the amount of affordable housing units skyrocketed from a nonexistent gap to a shortage of 4.4 million affordable housing units – the largest shortfall on record. 1

Even with low wages, many poor people could afford housing if they had access to government-subsidized public housing. However, the federal government has been cutting back on building housing and providing subsidies for housing since the early 1980s. There is a 10-year waiting list for Section 8 vouchers in Massachusetts, and no more are being given out. 2

According to HUD, in recent years the shortages of affordable housing are most severe for units affordable to renters with extremely low incomes. Federal support for low-income housing has fallen 49% from 1980 to 2003. 3

Rep. Barney Frank, in his proposal for The National Housing Trust Fund Bill, said that there are 9 million people in need of low-income housing, and 6 million available units.

Research identifies the lack of affordable housing as the primary cause of homelessness among families in the United States. 4

In recent years, over 200,000 private-sector rental units have been lost annually, and 1.2 million unsubsidized affordable housing units disappeared from 1993-2003. HUD budget authority in 1978 was 65 percent more than its 2006 budget. 5

Right now, the number of homeless male and female Vietnam era veterans is greater than the number of service persons who died during that war. 6

Over the last 30 years, annual tax expenditures for home owner subsidies have grown from less than $40 billion to over $120 billion per year. Every year since 1981, tax benefits for home ownership have been greater than HUD's entire budget and have dwarfed direct expenditures for programs that benefit low-income renters. Those benefiting the most from this tax program may actually be banks and real estate corporations that make their largest profit margins on high-end housing. 5

HUD isn't even using the funds it has available. For instance, Fort Wayne Housing Authority, which has a waiting list for help paying rent with more than 2,000 families on it, had millions of dollars it failed to spend on the program, a new audit shows. 7

Despite what the New York Times on Dec. 2 (2007) called an "acute rental shortage," HUD plans to spend $762 million to demolish public housing and replace it with only 744 new units of affordable housing. HUD will spend an average of $400,000 for each new mixed-income unit, while statements by HANO'S own insurance company have shown that many of the multiple-unit buildings to be demolished could be repaired for less than $10,000 per building. 8

Prior to 1996, federal housing law provided that every public housing unit that was demolished had to be replaced on a one-for-one basis with another public housing or equivalent unit. In this manner, the nation's inventory of public housing units would remain constant, and housing would remain available to meet the housing needs of the nation's most vulnerable populations, such as the very-poor, the elderly and the disabled. However, in 1996, this requirement was suspended and later repealed by Congress. 9

In fact, from 2000 to 2008, almost 100,000 units of public housing have been demolished, but only about 40,000 units of public housing have been constructed. This means that over 60% of the public housing units demolished over the last eight years have not been replaced, and the nation has lost over 60,000 public housing units. 9

Finally, it should be noted that the largest federal housing assistance program is the entitlement to deduct mortgage interest from income for tax purposes. In fact, for every one dollar spent on the low income housing programs, the federal treasury loses four dollars to housing-related tax expenditures, 75% of which benefit households in the top fifth of income distribution. More over, in 1994 the top fifth of households received 61% of all federal housing benefits (tax and direct), while the bottom fifth received only 18%. 10

1. Institute for Children and Poverty, 2001
2. Betty Reid Mandell, New Politics, Volume XI, No. 3
3. National Low Income Housing Coalition, 2005
4. Burt, M.R. "What Will it Take to End Homelessness?" Washington, DC: Urban Institute, 2001 - cited by the Chicago Alliance to End Homelessness
5. The Western Regional Advocacy Project
6. Department of Veterans Affairs
7. Dan Stockman,The Journal Gazette
8. Lewis Wallace, In These Times /
9. Return of One-for-One Replacement for Demolished Public Housing Units by Bill Wilen, Director of Housing Litigation, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law
10. p. 90, Poverty And The Homeless, Mary E. Williams, Editor 2004

Cross-posted in the Poverty and Activist HQ forums. This post is the result of research by a group of DUers and others dedicated to advancing the cause of affordable housing and related issues.

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Posted by JeffR in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Wed Nov 12th 2008, 12:00 PM
If you missed the story about Ms. Dunbar, read this thread by texastoast:

I think we should all let Ms. Dunbar and the Board know what we think about this. Here's what I sent:

Ms. Dunbar:

As the saying goes, you're entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts. What you wrote is not opinion, but essentially an accusation of treason against Mr. Obama.

As a public official, specifically one involved with education, you have a responsibility to conduct yourself with dignity and in the public interest. Your ludicrous, intemperate, baseless remarks do neither.

Growing up in the Deep South, I witnessed all sorts of intolerance, hysteria and divisiveness, much of it cloaked with the same sort of Taliban-level false piety you use to justify your profoundly regressive and extremist views. Most Americans have evolved - if you'll pardon the term - past such primitivism. If you have not, or cannot, you do not belong in public life, and most certainly should have no influence on education policy.

Your own education, if you have the ability to read for comprehension, might begin with a careful study of the President Elect's book "The Audacity of Hope" in which he elegantly lays out his deep love of the country and his practical ideas for strengthening it and moving it forward into a brighter future.

As you seem to lack a sense of shame, it's doubtful that your resignation from the Board will be forthcoming, but at a minimum, you owe the TEA, the citizens of Texas and our new President an apology.


Contact info for the SBOE:

And here is Ms. Dunbar's own website: /

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Posted by JeffR in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Mon Nov 03rd 2008, 07:53 PM

How y'all doin' tonight, DU?

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Posted by JeffR in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Sat Nov 01st 2008, 04:39 PM
What kind of irredeemable nincompoop tosses around laughably antiquated and demonstrably false accusations of socialism at his opponent in this day and age?

What kind of chowder-headed coot picks a miserable, sneering little fraud like Sarah Palin for his running mate and further maintains that she was thoroughly vetted, is fully qualified, has provided him with much counsel and was always his first choice?

What kind of gormless hypocrite claims again and again to be a maverick while feverishly giving oral service to the rabid maniacs that are his party's unthinking base?

What kind of shameless liar uses Ayers and Khalidi as sticks to swat Obama, when he himself has connections to both of them?

What kind of unregenerate vulgarian offers up the wife who bankrolls him as a contestant for Miss Buffalo Chip to a crowd of drunken bikers?

What kind of tone-deaf panderer claims with a straight face that he knows how to win wars, knows how to capture Bin Laden and knows how to fix the economy, yet steadfastly refuses to offer any specifics of how he would do these things?

What kind of mealymouthed nitwit can't appear on stage without his spouse standing two feet behind him at all times?

What kind of puerile knuckle-dragger centers his campaign around demonizing his opponent while claiming to respect him?

What kind of dishonorable pud allows his audiences to screech like meth-addled gibbons when the name "Obama" is mentioned?

What kind of drooling coward won't allow the sitting (though illegitimate) President and Vice President - members of his own party - to attend his convention?

What kind of skulking weasel cheats at the Saddleback forum?

What kind of shambling incompetent devotes so little effort to organizing on the ground that he ends up lamely defending states that Democrats haven't won in over four decades?

What kind of clueless clown either doesn't know how many houses and cars he and his wife have, or simply refuses to give straight answers about them?

What kind of undignified slob punctuates every utterance out of his yellow rictus with the words "My friends" while constantly framing his rote codewords with stubby-fingered air quotes?

What kind of hopeless buffoon allows his campaign to claim his war injuries make him unable to use a computer, mere days after he himself claimed that he was learning to get online?

What kind of forked-tongued fatcat makes po-faced claims to represent change from the corruption and cronyism he has spent a lifetime helping to advance?

What kind of self-loathing freak hires the very people who did an obscene hatchet-job on his wife and family eight years ago?

What kind of smug tool pretends to suspend his campaign to address an economic crisis, rushes to Washington only to sit silently while his peers, including his opponent, do the actual work, and then tries to use the whole episode to dodge a debate with his opponent?

What kind of craven toadstool tries to justify his abysmally nasty campaign by citing his opponent's unwillingness to engage in a series of phony townhalls?

What kind of insufferable shitheel uses his own horrific experiences as a prisoner of war like a parlor trick, over and over and over, when he supposedly doesn't like talking about these experiences?

What kind of nauseating huckster can't even win the endorsement of once-reliable conservatives like Colin Powell, Michael Smerconish, Scott McClellan and Andrew Sullivan?

His name is John Sidney McCain, and on the evening of November 4th, 2008, he can add "failed Presidential candidate" to his curriculum vitae.

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Posted by JeffR in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Mon Sep 29th 2008, 12:50 AM
You know, so that while she learns what his positions are, he can learn them too?

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Posted by JeffR in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Fri Sep 05th 2008, 01:14 AM
7:02 PM:

Trace Adkins sings our national anthem, and not very well, but I try to savor it since the evening will only go downhill from here.

7:08 PM:
Sho' nuff. CNN once again tells us via one of their bottom-of-the-screen FACTs that Palin was elected Governor of Alaska as a "maverick reformer". Mm, FACTy. I wonder if Adkins could be persuaded to come back out and sing "Fixin' To Die Rag"...

7:33 PM:
Utah Governor John Huntsman puts Sarah Palin's name in nomination as the VP candidate. He either has a very sore throat or his voice is changing. If the latter, then in the spirit of bipartisanship I wish him a successful puberty.

"We are looking for a rebel, a renegade. We are looking for Sarah!" he croaks. After already sitting through two nights of this jive, I'm looking for a rusty nail to scrape across my wrists.

After the now-obligatory reference to Palin being a "hockey mom" - what on earth ever happened to America? - he tells the convention and the nation that Palin is: "Not afraid to kick a few fannies and raise a little hell." This probably ties in to those ethics investigations underway in Alaska, but Huntsman doesn't pursue the subject further.

7:39 PM:
Mitch McConnell, looking as chipper as I've seen him since his heyday as a Muppet, tosses it over to the Alaska delegation to move that Palin be acclaimed the VP nominee. Evidently still jet-lagged, the Alaska delegation complies with his request.

7:42 PM:
Heart's "Barracuda" blares from the Xcel Center PA. I'm hoping the Wilson sisters will follow Jackson Browne's lead and stop the GOP from using this song, but I've always been an idealist...

7:48 PM:
Time for an uplifting feminist message from a revolting little toadstool, Tennessee Representative Marsha Blackburn, who claims that Palin speechified yesterday with: "A voice that spoke with the accent of real America." Is that what that accent was? I thought it was the sound of a cat with its tail caught in a screen door, but I'm a Southerner, so my opinion on such things is perhaps suspect.

Blackburn promises that Palin will be a "revolutionary second in command". Surely McCain's Naval Academy training will enable him to identify mutiny when he sees it. He was, however, near the bottom of his class at Annapolis, so maybe not...

Marsha, Marsha, Marsha's not done yet though. "Last night, my NASCAR dad fell in love with a hockey mom." My sympathies to Blackburn's mother. I hope this all works out for her.

7:52 PM:
The Congresswoman notes that John McCain was a POW. Why on earth have the Republicans been sitting on this information until now?

8:02 PM:
Flip over to CNN. Wolf Blitzer informs viewers that the Best Political Team On Television is: "watching, paying attention and listening." Obviously, this is going to be an historic evening.

8:06 PM:
Tim Pawlenty takes to the podium. CNN opts to interview a weirdly costumed delegate instead. Back to PBS.

Anyone wondering why Pawlenty didn't get the VP nod is left in no doubt almost immediately. Hearing him speak is as exciting as hearing your dog start to heave at 5:00 AM.

"Barack Obama gives a good speech," says Tim, "But the best sermons aren't preached, they're lived." Sermons? Preached? Not only do Republicans refuse to separate church and state, they refuse to separate talking from stupid.

8:08 PM:
Over the past two days, the convention has raised the oratorical device of repetition to a level I can't recall since I used to watch "Romper Room".

"John McCain put our country first." Well, keep throwing that at the fridge until it sticks, Tim.

8:10 PM:
Pawlenty winds up with a weird riff on "Sam's Club voters", a demographic I've never heard of. I only hope they can co-exist in the Republican Big Tent alongside those NASCAR dads and hockey moms.

8:13 PM:
Reappearing like the fatted calf from his exile to the private sector, former Senator Bill Frist, once the Great White Hope for his party's nomination, says some worthwhile things about alleviating AIDS and other scourges overseas. As long as he doesn't intend to diagnose via videotape, so far so good.

8:17 PM:
Frist calls Cindy McCain "America's most passionate advocate for peace". I choke up briefly, remembering Mrs. McCain's desperate attempts to prevent Shock and Awe. God bless her for trying.

Frist goes on to describe international poverty and AIDS relief as "a foundation for peace". No wonder the GOP threw this pinko overboard!

8:24 PM:
Back on CNN, an intriguing argument erupts between Roland Martin and Bill Bennett about McCain's many flip-flops. Sniffing controversy, Blitzer puts the kibosh on the segment and cuts to a commercial.

8:26 PM:
Sam Brownback, who once ran for something somewhere is working up some Romper Room repetition of his own, inciting all 112 delegates with a refrain of: "Yes, we will!"

8:28 PM:
Brownback, a poster boy for American unexceptionalism, tells us: "I believe in American exceptionalism."

He then reminds us that McCain can't raise his arms. Something to do with being a POW, I suppose. I don't know why the GOP expects me to make these connections for myself. Why don't they just lay out the facts once and for all?

circa 8:40 PM:
As I'm in the kitchen getting dog biscuits for Chlöe and Zen, the convention airs a brief video about September 11, 2001. I return to the TV to hear John King commenting that there was no mention of Bush in the video. These Republicans sure know how to circle the wagons.

9:00 PM:
Senator Lindsay Graham, the walking definition of gormlessness, takes the stage. Although I learned long ago never to be embarrassed for Republicans, since they don't have the sense to be embarrassed for themselves, Graham really pushes my resolve.

He praises Joe Lieberman for "breaking with his party". He doesn't specify which party he means.

9:11 PM:
Video tribute to Sarah Palin. Sample line: "When Alaska's maverick joined America's maverick..." Presumably, when McCain hits the stage, he'll call for Alaska statehood!

9:15 PM:
Tom Ridge up for 17 minutes of puffery about McCain, marred by a few gratuitous swipes at Obama that he abruptly spits out as if a bug had landed in his mouth.

9:28 PM:
A video tribute to Cindy McCain, narrated by Gary Sinise. Intentionally or not, it reinforces the stubborn notion I have that Cindy is a Pat Nixon for our time, the difference being that Cindy can afford better than a cloth coat.

9:35 PM:
Cindy Lou herself takes the podium. And why not? She probably paid for it.

She refers to Palin as a fellow hockey mom. What the hell is going on in Arizona?

9:47 PM:
"I think John was a hero in Vietnam." Well, me too, Mrs. McCain, but I wouldn't marry him or vote for him for President.

9:55 PM:
Some remark of Cindy's provokes yet another chant of "USA! USA!" I could believe, over the last few nights, that Republicans think they just discovered the damn place.

9:56 PM:
Cindy wraps up. The speech was stilted and smarmy, marking it as one of the better speeches of the week.

9:59 PM:
The ever-noxious Alex Castellanos discusses McCain with crack anchor Anderson Cooper. "He does best in a town hall format," Cooper sagely observes. "He's the townhall guy," notes Castellanos.

10:04 PM:
Video tribute to John McCain. Seems McCain was a POW and is a maverick.

The narrator proclaims: "What a life, what a faith, what a family." What a crock.

10:13 PM:
Maverick time, at last! Thank God, because after three days of this tripe, I'm about ready to put my foot through the screen.

McCain plants himself in front of the same sort of green backdrop that made him look so pitiful back during the primaries. Ah, GOP stagecraft.

10:16 PM:
Some patriot in the upper deck of the arena holds up a sign that reads: "You can't win an occupation." He flips it over and the cameras catch: "McCain votes against vets." This is the first inkling of truth I've seen at a Republican convention since, well, ever.

10:20 PM:
McCain addresses Barack Obama. "You have my respect and my admiration. We're fellow Americans. That's an association that means more to me than any other." Somewhere on the campaign trail, a relieved Senator Obama will finally get a decent night's sleep.

10:23 PM:
McCain vows to "get this country back on the road to peace and prosperity" without mentioning which political party put it into the ditch.

10:24 PM:
A second protester is carried out of the Xcel Center. McCain calms the multitude. "My friends, please don't be diverted by the ground noise and the static." Senator, I find myself wondering, just what is the frequency?

10:28 PM:
"Change is coming."

"I've been called a maverick."

10:52 PM:
The candidate who doesn't know how to use a computer tells America that: "We have to catch up to history."

10:56 PM:
McCain tells us he was a POW!

11:02 PM:
Chants of "USA! USA!" Someone in the cheap seats holds up a sign that reads "The Mavrick". It's hard to keep up with McCain's complexity. Apparently, he's a maverick, a former POW and a mavrick.

11:04 PM:
"We never hide from history! We make history!" With that and a few God Blesses, John McCain is done talking. He is now the Republican nominee for President, though I was almost certain for months it would be the dazzling, charismatic Duncan Hunter.

11:08 PM:
As the cheering continues on the convention floor, the balloon drop is executed with almost military precision. If President Obama is serious about being bipartisan, he might consider making McCain Secretary of Balloons...

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Posted by JeffR in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Thu Sep 04th 2008, 01:23 AM
6:58 PM:
Yesterday was a race to see whether the GOP convention had more empty seats or empty platitudes. It was a draw. Tonight I expect platitudes to edge ahead, slightly. As Mitch McConnell gavels the session to order, there are just slightly more people in the hall than there are at a typical PTA meeting in Wasilla, Alaska.

But like moths to a flame, delegates file in as "America the Beautiful" is torn to shreds by John Shillington and Ruby Brown, apparently friends of the McCains in Arizona. If they ever perform this at McCain dinner parties, rest assured Cindy has the sense to put away the good crystal in advance. With vibrato more wobbly than the candidate's positions on tax cuts and offshore drilling, they make their way through a version that rivals "Hey Jude" in length. At some point, they seem to run out of the song's actual written verses and start making up new ones on the spot. A couple of excruciating modulations later, they've provoked at least one woman in the crowd to close her eyes tight and throw her arms skyward. She's either figuring the Rapture is imminent, or she's beseeching a merciful God for the PA to blow a fuse.

8:00 PM:
Phony diversity segment begins with Michael L. Williams (an African American), Chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission. Williams seems to have borrowed one of Tucker Carlson's bow ties for the occasion, along with Carlson's habit of spewing meaningless bilge into the nearest microphone.

Next up is Luis Fortuño, Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico to the United States Congress. He talks for a while and then stops talking.

8:22 PM
Diversity be damned, the Republicans have actually found another white person who wants to talk! It's Meg Whitman, former president of eBay and McCain national campaign co-chair. Proving that it's a small world after all, she says nothing more substantive than the African American and Hispanic speakers before her. Is this a great country or what! She does mention that the party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan is now the party of John McCain. In my mind's eye, I picture that famous illustration of the evolution of humans from simple sea creatures to Homo Sapiens, only in reverse.

8:28 PM:
Amazingly, Whitman warns America: "Government shouldn't spend more than it takes in!" Even more amazingly, the Republican crowd cheers as if they'd never countenance anything else. In the time it takes for the cheering to die down, we've spent another few hundred thousand dollars occupying Iraq. This is nothing to Whitman, of course. After all, she was in charge of a company where customers would probably bid $4000 for my dirty socks if I painted a fuzzy image of Christ on them. (And no, they're not for sale.)

8:33 PM:
CNN's annoying little FACT box on the bottom left of the screen tells me that Palin was elected governor of Alaska as a "maverick reformer". Where would we be without FACTS?

8:40 PM:
Meg Whitman be damned. It's time for a real businesswoman. Yep, it's Carly Fiorina here to brag about how she nearly destroyed Hewlett Packard.

But soft! She doesn't mention HP, spying on employees, golden parachutes or anything of the like! Nevertheless, she has an awful lot to say.

First off, John McCain - wait for it - was a POW...

8:45 PM:
Carly says McCain believes: "Americans should be freed and empowered to make their own choices." As long, presumably, as those choices don't include reproductive freedom, gay marriage and smoking marijuana.

But Fiorina isn't shooting for such picayune policy details. She's turning her fabled business savvy to mass hypnosis. "I know John McCain," she notes again and again. Carly, AJ Foyt once gave me a personal tour of the pits in Indianapolis, and there was the time I sat one table over from John Updike in a cafeteria at my alma mater, but I don't like to brag about such things myself.

8:48 PM:
Fiorina confidently proclaims McCain will balance the budget by 2013. Wow, a mere 13 years of Republican misrule since a Democrat did the very same thing! Impressive.

8:50 PM:
Apparently, knowing John McCain means you can keep talking and talking at this shindig. Still not tiring, Carly says McCain: "will never shrink from calling evil and oppression by their names." Unlike that hapless Obama guy who insists on addressing these abstract concepts as "Beauregard" and "Wanda", right?

She segues immediately into lauding McCain for valuing the contributions of women to our country. She doesn't say whether this holds true if they plaster on the makeup like a trollop, however.

8:56 PM:
Diversity redux. Former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele, an African American, asks the delegates: "Ready to party in this house tonight?" To paraphrase Todd Rundgren, I guess some folks is even whiter than me.

Steele nears the crescendo of his speech with these immortal words: "Government should never be powerful enough to infringe on the rights of individuals." Umm...

9:01 PM:
Flip to CNN. Wolf Blitzer is saying to Anderson Cooper: "Sometimes we hype things." Anderson nods. I leave the room to get my second large drink of the evening.

9:02 PM:
CNN mercifully cuts away from those two and we get to join Kyra Phillips, who's chillin' with none other than Kurt and Heather Bruce at the Peanut Farm Restaurant in Anchorage. Heather is Sarah Palin's sister.

"Welcome, guys!" chirps the unsinkable Phillips. Asked the family reaction to the Palin nomination, Heather responds, not quite circumspectly enough: "Omigosh, omigosh. I can't believe this is happening. This is great, but this is crazy." Yes, well.

Kyra: "Was Sarah interested in politics in high school?" Heather: "No!"

9:06 PM:
Enough of CNN's investigative reporting! Romney is up to remind America why he's the most oily, most unctuous, most unbearable figure in American politics. He does not disappoint.

He begins by admonishing the "Eastern elites" of America that it's time to look to the west, because the sun is about to rise in Arizona and Alaska. Not having read the Book of Mormon, I have no idea if this is prophecy, a simple end-times weather report or just Romney being, well, Romney.

He goes on. And on. And on. Time for a change from a liberal Washington to a conservative Washington. Must stop the spread of government dependency. Need a party of Big Ideas, not a party of Big Brother.

9:14 PM:
Mitt avers it's time to: "Keep Al Gore's private jet on the ground!" Nice to see Romney won't let Al off the hook for the election that was stolen from Gore 8 years ago. Nope, time to go after his plane too. Take that, Al Gore. The first chants of "USA! USA!" of the night begin a groundswell among the well fed, ludicrously attired attendees. Long as the enemy's name begins with the letters A and L, good enough, it seems.

9:16 PM:
Mitt, unaware that he lost this year's nomination - or acutely conscious that the GOP 2012 nom is wide open - follows up with: "Just like you, there's never been a day when I was not proud to be an American!" I can't wait to watch Obama bite this supercilious little greaseball's ass in 4 years...

CNN's David Gergen dryly describes Romney's spew as: "A great speech, for the 1970s." Maybe, but it would have pissed me off back then too.

9:25 PM:
Huckabee up, to thank the "elite media" for uniting the GOP. References to Madonna's costume changes, Barack Obama's Excellent Adventure in Europe. Claims Obama brought back "European" ideas. Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité; that kind of dangerous European thinking, I guess he means, but who the hell knows?

At some point he indirectly tells Americans they can inflate their tires to whatever level they want.

Palin got more votes for mayor than Biden got for pres... McCain was a POW... kids have school desks because of our Armed Forces, who conquered the Nasties and brought a bunch of desks back Stateside...

The booze is kicking in, but I'm gonna need a couple Valium on top of that to hope to catch up with the GOP.

9:53 PM:
Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle tells America that: "Mayors are CEOs, governors are CEOs." I think back to the two CEOs I ever met, and what utter, irredeemable dicks they seemed to be.

9:59 PM:
CNN cuts back to Anchorage and Sarah Palin's sister, who privately informs me and millions of other people that her family's opinions are private. Right then, thanks, Heather. I didn't ask for your opinion to begin with, but whatever.

10:01 PM:
Rudy! No this is the most oily, most unctuous, most unbearable politician in America!

Why, oh, why, didn't I start drinking at mid-afternoon? I might have been able to handle this.

As Cindy McCain watches from her seat in a thicket of Palins, Giuliani rambles on. And on. And, still, on.

Left wing media and Hollywood celebrities don't get to choose the President.

McCain was a: "Top Gun kind of guy." Wonder how many Top Guns lost 5 planes? No matter, Rudy's forging ahead.

Community organizers are funny! Somehow this results in yet another chant of "USA! USA!"

10:15 PM:
Convention crowd rises in a cheer of "Drill, baby, drill!" as Rudy flashes his dentures at them. Cutaway shot of Bristol Palin looking as enthusiastic as the Xcel Center custodial staff must feel about cleaning up after all these slobs.

10:17 PM:
Sixteen minutes in, Rudy finally mentions 9/11. Stunning forbearance! It's a new record, folks.

10:20 PM:
"If I were Joe Biden, I'd wanna get that VP thing in writing." Well, if I were Rudy Giuliani, I'd wanna get it verbally, through whispered rumors, smoke signals or however else I could. But that's just me... Rudy's apparently cool with everything.

10:27 PM:
Gratuitous pseudo-feminist appeal from Rudy. The man is a born PUMA. This narrative bolstered throughout the evening by closeups of delegates' buttons proclaiming "Hoosiers for the Hot Chick!" or "Hottest Governor/Coolest State!"

10:29 PM:
What's-Her-Name is up, at last. My will to live is failing at this point.

Thinks the name of the country we illegally invaded and are still occupying is "Aieeereeaack".

Loves her husband.

Was hockey mom, whatever the hell that is. Was involved with the PTA.

Takes on "nattering nabobs of negativism" and "effete intellectual snobs". Oh wait, sorry, that was a wholly unqualified GOP VP candidate 40 years ago. But wait, that's more or less what she said.

Said "thanks but no thanks" to Congress about that Bridge to Nowhere. Obviously hasn't dipped into the blogosphere, which showed days ago that this version of the story is mooseshit.

Obama authored two memoirs but not a single major law; never uses word "victory" unless he's talking about his own campaign. Styrofoam Greek columns. Obama wants to "turn back the waters and heal the planet." Blah, blah, blah. Perky, though. Very perky.

10:43 PM:
"Being a small town mayor is a lot like being a community organizer, except a mayor has actual responsibility." Which, of course, Palin exercised by putting Wasilla $22 million in debt...

11:03 PM:
"The American Presidency isn't supposed to be a journey of personal discovery!" she says. Somewhere, George Walker Bush smiles and thinks, "Heh, heh, I knew it!"

11:04 PM:
Palin reminds the crowd and the TV audience that McCain was a POW.

Then she leaves the stage and Abraham Lincoln and Jesus Christ sit down and weep. It's nice to have the company.

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Posted by JeffR in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Tue Sep 02nd 2008, 11:56 PM
8:00 PM:
I'd understood that the convention was being held in St. Paul, but the folks in the crowd shots confirm that it's actually being held in Squaresville.

8:04 PM:
David Brooks informs the PBS audience that it would be a mistake to skip over McCain's history as a POW. He needn't worry.

8:05 PM:
Bill Bennett reminds CNN viewers that James Madison never left the country, and that when Sarah Palin finally got a passport, she went not to Paris, but to Kuwait. No mention of her tarmac stop in Ireland, however.

8:12 PM:
From the podium, Norm Coleman threatens Republican Jihad on Middle America: "We're going to paint the entire Mississippi watershed John McCain red!" Yikes!

Then tells dodgy story about Jefferson as lead-in to the curious and creepy refrain: "John McCain has a face that says 'Yes'!"

8:20 PM:
Just saw an African American guy on the convention floor. Not sure why he was there.

8:26 PM:
Bill Bennett proclaims "the brooding omnipresence of Ronald Wilson Reagan." Time for a bathroom break.

CNN interviews 19 y/o mayor of Muskogee, OK. Poor kid believes John McCain will keep him safe, says meeting Giuliani would "make my dreams come true." These kids today.

8:28 PM:
Tucker Bounds tells Gwen Ifill Palin has been "fully vetted" and she will "electrify the place" on Wednesday. Then runs out of Xcel Center before mean old Campbell Brown can tease him again.

9:22 PM:
Video tribute to GHW Bush claims "he helped put the ghosts of Vietnam to rest". Not sure how this squares with the rest of the party doing their damnedest to achieve the opposite. Oh well.

9:24 PM:
Wolf Blitzer describes Barbara Bush as a "magnificent lady". Bathroom break.

9:32 PM:
David Brooks: "Rush Limbaugh is no idiot." What an idiot.

9:39 PM:
Former POW Orson Swindle introduces five Medal of Honor winners. First chants of "USA! USA!"

9:45 PM
It's Pickles!!

She's excited by the McCain/Palin ticket! She's proud that the first female VP will be a Republican woman!! I have no idea who she was talking about.

Speaking about W, she notes: "A lot has changed in the last eight years." Yeah, duh.

Pickles tells vets: "America honors your service and gives you our thanks." CNN cuts to a yawning military man on the convention floor.

And now it's time for Preznit Satellite. He says his duties have kept him in Washington tonight "overseeing hurricane relief". Great relief felt in both St. Paul and New Orleans, undoubtedly.

W praises "two people of character, decency and integrity" then goes into a complete non-sequitur about his parents.

Talks about McCain. Geez, apparently McCain was a POW! W says "his arms were broken, but not his honor". No mention of 2000 primary attempts to paint McCain as dishonorable.

9:57 PM:
Bush still talking...

Mentions the "angry left". Cindy McCain smiles. This leftist is now officially angry.

Surge is working. Dangerous world. Lessons of September 11. Man we need is John McCain.

Says 3 or 4 words about Sarah Palin. Something something something.

"Americans have always lived on the sunrise side of the mountain." Why does George Bush hate the Americans who live on the other side of the mountain?

10:03 PM:
Pickles up again, praising Cindy McCain's charitable work abroad. It's apparent that Cindy has 100 times more foreign policy experience than Palin. I'm getting really confused.

10:04 PM:
It's Gipper Time! Please, Gipper, don't hurt 'em!

Video tribute to Reagan discussing his early years in politics. "Some dared breathe the word 'maverick.'" Some dared breathe the word "jerk" too, but that doesn't get a mention.

Replaced Carter's indecision with "conviction politics". If only Iran-Contra had resulted in conviction politics, I muse sadly.

"Ronald Reagan saved our America, saved our century and changed the world." Hot damn, how come nobody ever told me about this before?

10:09 PM:
Fred Thompson is warmly applauded by the same people who ignored him back during the primaries.

Says Palin is a "breath of fresh air". She's "from a small town, with small town values" but the pundits have attacked her. Damn pundits! More: "Democrats and the media are in a state of panic!"

Reminds us that McCain was a POW! Very handy, since I'd just forgotten about that.

"If Roberta had been the McCain captured by the North Vietnamese, they would have surrendered!" In other words, John McCain isn't as tough as a 93 y/o woman...

Fred launches into a sort of oratorical sequel to "Passion of the Christ" by detailing every injury McCain suffered. No charts and diagrams for those of us with a less than perfect understanding of anatomy. Says McCain took 8 trips to Iraq "seeking truth, not publicity". A blatant attempt to discredit George W. Bush, who only took 2 trips there for publicity...

"McCain stood up, called for more troops, and now we're winning!" Chants of "USA! USA!"

Says Senate has its share of "smooth talkers and big talkers". Seems like a nasty reference to Orrin Hatch, but maybe I'm wrong.

Says McCain doesn't give "teleprompter speeches designed to appeal to America's critics abroad". Well, that's a relief, I guess.

10:29 PM:
Ignoring the warning beeps from his pacemaker, Fred continues.

Describes Obama as: "most inexperienced, most liberal nominee to ever run for President."

"We need a President who doesn't believe protecting an unborn child is above his pay grade!"

Rambles on some more then leaves amid more chants of "USA! USA!"

10:37 PM:
David Gergen says speech "brought convention to life". Not so fast, David! Next up: Joe Lieberman!

10:39 PM:
Lieberman takes the stage, with a mere 20 minutes to prove he's the biggest hosepail on the planet. Can he do it? Of course he can.

Minutes into his speech, Lieberman has smothered the newly awakened convention with a bipartisan pillow.

"What's a Democrat like me doing at a Republican convention like this?" I wished he'd contacted me directly. I have a detailed answer to that question.

"Country matters more than party!" He doesn't say which country, of course.

10:44 PM:
Chants of "USA! USA!" So Lieberman meant the USA, I guess.

10:46 PM:
TV camera picks up another African American in the crowd.

10:48 PM:
Lieberman implores audience: "Trust me!" Yeah, Republicans, go ahead and trust him. Go on, now.

10:49 PM:
"If John McCain is just another partisan Republican, then I'm Michael Moore's favorite Democrat!" Uh, Joe, yes he is, and no you're not.

10:51 PM"
Praises Bill Clinton for welfare reform, free trade and a balanced budget. Smirks from crowd.

10:56 PM:
"It was a pleasure traveling around the world with John McCain, even with Lindsay Graham along."

Wraps up with an exhortation to Dems, Independents and Republicans to vote for McCain. "He's no ordinary candidate!" Finally, something I can agree with Joe about.

Leaves to possibly the most enthusiastic applause Republicans have given a Jew since Sammy Davis Jr. was still alive.

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Posted by JeffR in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Thu Aug 21st 2008, 07:51 PM
Part VII of a continuing series chronicling the life and times of President George Walker Bush.

Click here for Part I.
Click here for Part II.
Click here for Part III.
Click here for Part IV.
Click here for Part V.
Click here for Part VI.

Part VII: A Square Peg In An Oval Office

It was June 16, 1999. Governor George Walker Bush of Texas was conferring with his advisor Karl Rove in the Governor's Mansion. After a grueling four minutes of policy discussion, Bush was wearying.

"That'll do, Turdy. Call down to the kitchen for some PB and Js and brewskis," he ordered. "Power Rangers is coming on." As Rove headed for the phone, Bush hit the remote, but instead of a cartoon, he saw a man speaking in front of an American flag. Bush changed the channel, only to see the same image. He cursed quietly and changed the channel again, but to no avail. Every channel seemed to be showing the same thing. Bush angrily stabbed the mute button.

As Rove completed his assignment and hung up the phone, Bush yelled, "The hell is this? Where's my fucking cartoon? Who is this asshole and why is he on every channel?"

"I believe that's Al Gore, sir," said Rove.


"The Vice President, sir."

"Well, call the goddamn networks. My show's supposed to be on."

"Maybe we should turn it up and see what's going on first, sir," Rove suggested hesitantly. Bush sighed and unmuted the volume.

"If you entrust me with the presidency, I will marshal its authority, its resources and its moral leadership to fight for America's families. With your help, I will take my own values of faith and family to the presidency to build an America that is not only better off but better," Gore droned. "And that is why today I announce that I am a candidate for president of the United States —"

The television exploded in a shower of sparks as the table lamp Bush had thrown found its mark. "Listen up, Turdblossom," Bush said in a tone of barely contained fury. "We gotta stop this sonofabitch. That horndog Clinton has just about fucked this country beyond recognition with his goddamn peace and prosperity shit, and I'm not gonna sit back and watch this Gore asshole take over. Make some calls. We got some presidentin' to do."

Rove smiled and stepped carefully around the broken glass. "I'm on it, sir," he said.

"And where the hell are my PB and Js?"

"I'm on that too, sir," replied Rove.

With his vague memories of assisting with his father's campaigns back in 1988 and 1992, Bush knew that running for the presidency was hard work. He insisted on writing his announcement speech and choosing the venue by himself, throwing his family and friends and Rove himself into a panic.

Their fears were unfounded. Within days, the speech was ready, and a confident Bush took the stage at Austin's prestigious Exposé Gentlemen's Adult Entertainment on South Congress Avenue. He threw back a couple of shots, squinted out at the hushed crowd, and spoke:

"My fellow folks, today I stand before you surrounded by topless dancers like Champale here – hey, Champale, see you after my speechery – to announce, uh… oh yeah, that I am the candidater guy for President of the US of freakin' A.

Our nation has suffered bigtime under Will Clinton and his sidekick Hal Gore, and I'm here today to say: No more. It's time to restore dignitude and horror back to the White House.

My daddy was President once. If he can do it, so can I. I know it's hard work. It's hard. But it's nowhere near as hard as running to get there, having to talk to stupid people in crappy states like Nebraskawa and South Virginia and pretend you give a shit about their problems. It's all like: Oh, I lost my lousy job and oh, my kids aren't learning how to read good and oh, save me, Governor Bush, save me. And I will look them in the eye and not say a word about how I don't really care about their pitiful lives, because I'm generous like that.

I intend to be President of all Americans, but mostly the evangelicals because they'll believe anything, and also the rich folks because they're running things anyway and it's not smart to piss them off.

My opponent Hal Gore will have all sorts of policy ideas and facts and figures and egghead theories about global warming and stuff, and to him I say: Go bite a fart. Real Americans with their mainstream values and hilarious fear of God don't buy that crap. They want chickens in their pots, prayer and guns in their schools and lots of gasoline.

As President, you're damn right that's what I will give them. Thank you and God bless the Republican Party."

As the primaries approached, Rove's operatives used a clever mix of threats, lying and cheating to sideline longshot GOP hopefuls like Gary Bauer, Orrin Hatch and Elizabeth Dole. But a formidable opponent remained: Senator John McCain. There was also Alan Keyes, of course, but nobody paid any attention to him. Bush, furious at the polling data in the run-up to New Hampshire, demanded that Rove do something. Rove explained that McCain had spent five years in a Hanoi prison camp, so of course everyone knew he'd make a swell President and it would be dangerous to ever say anything bad about him.

Results from the New Hampshire Primary were ominous, with McCain beating Bush 48% to 30%. Scared for his job and his personal safety, Rove devised a plan. His nimble push-polling put the word out to South Carolina voters that McCain had not only fathered a mixed-race baby out of wedlock, but that he routinely listened to the Wu-Tang Clan while eating chitlins off the naked buttocks of Satan. It was a high-stakes move, but naturally, Southern Republicans ate it up and asked for more. McCain folded like a cheap suit and Bush romped to the nomination in Philadelphia, choosing the gregarious, common-touch Dick Cheney as his running mate.

Next up was Al Gore. With a devious strategy of grasping the issues and pointing to his solid, long political track record, Gore did everything he could to look smart, often a fatal mistake in American politics. Bush seized his opening, mocking Gore in the debates with taunts of "Sez you!" and "Oh, yeah?" and "At least my running mate's not a Jew!" while Gore sighed, droned on and generally bored viewers to tears with his ludicrous claims to have invented the wheel and been the model for the title character in Ben Hur.

Bush was dazzling on the stump throughout the fall, assuring voters that as President, he would ban abortion, outlaw the speaking of French on American soil, give each middle class American family their own Mexican slave, make flag burning a capital crime, and vigorously defend the nation from Celine Dion, whatever the cost. His poll numbers rose steadily.

Election Day dawned over a divided America. There were the Luddites who insisted an intelligent person should be President. There were Jews for Buchanan. There was the vocal contingent who had long dreamed of having a rumpled consumer advocate long past his best-before date in charge. There were solid, mainstream, family values Americans who, of course, wanted Bush. And finally, there was the roughly 50% of eligible voters who couldn't be bothered to have an opinion at all and stayed home to watch Cosby reruns.

As the returns began to come in, it was obvious that it would all come down to Florida, a decision voters in the other 49 states had long dreaded. Shortly before 8:00 that evening, some networks called the state for Gore. A flurry of threatening phone calls quickly put a halt to these outrageous claims. By 10:00, the networks declared Florida "undecided". By 2:30 in the morning, they called Florida for Bush. Two hours later, most networks retracted this position and declared the state "hopelessly fucked up beyond repair" with Bush's margin under 2,000 votes.

Days and weeks of recounts and lawsuits followed. Chads were hung and butterflies were scrutinized. Experts opined and people who didn't understand a thing were interviewed by intrepid reporters.

Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris at one point declared herself the winner. In reprisal, Nader took to the airwaves to declare himself the winner, and to state repeatedly that he saw no difference between the National Socialist Party and the Whigs. Buchanan appeared at a Palm Beach synagogue with a crowd of his staunchest supporters, who hailed him as "Mr. President" before heading off for the Early Bird Special. Gore and Bush, meanwhile, discussed settling the matter with a duel.

But pistols at dawn would not be necessary. On December 12, the United States Supreme Court handed down two decisions, the first declaring that Florida's Supreme Court's recount order was unconstitutional and the second stating simply:

"We find Mr. Gore to be a big yawn and would much prefer to have a beer with George W. Bush. Therefore, under authority we've just decided to grant ourselves, we're making him President and screw what anyone else thinks."

By five votes, George W. Bush had won the Presidency.

Next Thursday, Part VIII: So Much Brush, So Few Vacation Days.

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Posted by JeffR in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Thu Aug 14th 2008, 05:11 PM
Part VI of a continuing series chronicling the life and times of President George Walker Bush.

Click here for Part I.
Click here for Part II.
Click here for Part III.
Click here for Part IV.
Click here for Part V.

Part VI: Austin's Powers

One morning early in 1994, George W. Bush's phone rang, waking him from a deep liquor-induced sleep. "This better be good, whoever you are, or I will fuck you up," muttered Bush, and a familiar voice responded, "It's Turdblossom, sir. Karl Turdblossom." He was calling with news that George's brother Jeb was running for governor of Florida.

"I was some pissed off," Bush recalls. "I thought if my dickwad brother got his own state to run, then I should too. Me and Turdblossom talked about it and I asked him which state he thought I should run for governor in. He said why not Texas, seeing as how I lived there and all. I knew then that this was a real smart guy I had to have on my team. So that's why I decidered to throw my cat in the ring."

The decision could not have come at a more dire time for Texas. Under the radical socialist tyranny of Governor Ann Richards, the state had witnessed decent economic growth even as the rest of the nation suffered through a harsh recession. Richards had saved Texas $6 billion by rationalizing government bureaucracy. Her "Robin Hood" initiative ensured more funding for schools in poor minority districts. Her reforms of the prison system kept more violent offenders behind bars longer, and reduced inmate substance abuse. Clearly, Richards represented a grave threat to Texas and had to be stopped before she could do further damage. But how?

Rove came up with a multi-pronged strategy. While his team push-polled voters about important issues like the number of lesbians on Richards' staff, Bush began intensive sessions with private tutors, who drilled into the candidate the fine points of being the kind of guy voters would want to have a beer with. Don't sneak sips of the voter's beer, they counseled. Pay for a round now and then yourself, they advised. Don't vomit on the voter, they warned. Don't leer at or paw the voter's spouse, they noted. If the voter is bald, don't rub his head without asking first, they cautioned. Don't pass out at the bar, they insisted.

The lessons were contrary to his life experience and ran counter to every instinct he had, but he persevered, week after week, beer after beer.

Rove's diligent smear campaign against Richards, meanwhile, was gaining traction. Throughout the summer, polls showed increasing numbers of voters variously convinced that Richards was an African-American male, a Russian spy, the Antichrist, the reincarnation of Hitler, an exotic dancer named Brandi, or a woodland vole.

As summer turned to fall, Texas was gradually becoming Bush country.

On election night, Bush received two pieces of glad news. First, that he had beaten Richards, and second, that his brother Jeb had lost the Florida race to incumbent Lawton Chiles. "Served the little bastard right," Bush recollects fondly.

Jeb would go on to become Florida governor in 1998, earning an affectionate new sobriquet from his older brother, "Governor Stinky Little Copycat".

Once settled in the Governor's Mansion, Bush immediately pivoted from politics to policy. On learning that Texas was a state with a "weak governor" constitution, he declared war on Oklahoma as a show of strength. Within days, units of the Texas National Guard reached Oklahoma City, staging daring panty raids in coed dorms at Oklahoma Baptist University. Air support for the invasion was commanded by Governor Bush himself, though he failed to reach Oklahoma when his plane ran out of fuel over Gainesville.

He ejected safely and hitchhiked back to Austin. In front of the state house, under a tastefully gigantic red, white and blue "Mission Accomplished" banner, he addressed the troops:

"My fellow badass Texan warriors, major combat operations in Oklahoma have ended. In the battle of Oklahoma, Texas and our allies in the oil industry have prevailed. And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that state.

In this battle, we have fought for the cause of liberty and the end of 'weak governor' status for Texas. Your courage, your willingness to face danger for your state and for each other made this day possible. Because of you our state is more secure. Because of you Oklahoma is free. Because of you I'm the big cheese, the enchilada supremo.

Operation Okie Freedom was carried out with a combination of precision and speed and boldness the enemy did not expect and the world had not seen before. In the images of celebrating Okies we have also seen the ageless appeal of human freedom. Decades of lies and intimidation could not make the people of Oklahoma love their oppressors or desire their own enslavement.

We have difficult work to do in Oklahoma. We're bringing order to parts of that state that remain dangerous. We're pursuing and finding leaders of the old regime who will be held to account for their crimes. We've begun the search for hidden chemical and biological weapons, and already know of hundreds of sites that will be investigated.

And we will stand with the new leaders of Oklahoma as they establish a government of, by and for the Okie people. The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort even if we have to break the bank to achieve it. Our coalition will stay until our work is done and then we will leave and we will leave behind a free Oklahoma.

The use of force has been and remains our last resort. Yet all can know, friend and foe alike, that our state has a mission: We will answer threats to our security, and we will defend the peace.

We are mindful as well that some good men and women are not making the journey home, having decided that the weather in Oklahoma is better. I disagree, and they can go straight to hell for their treason.

To those of you who returned to Texas, thank you for serving our state and our cause. May God bless you all. And may God continue to bless Texas."

With the war behind him, he turned his attention to domestic matters. The budget surplus bequeathed by Richards provided a perfect opportunity to enact a $2 billion tax cut for people who didn't need it, ensuring that fiscal solvency would not soon threaten the state again. More revenues were diverted to faith-based initiatives. He also devoted a lot of time to environmental issues, undoing the shameful downward spiral toward cleanliness that Richards and her leftist followers had initiated.

It was in essence a warm-up drill for his eventual appointment to the Presidency, though many innocent Americans didn't realize it at the time.

As an exodus of horrified liberals began fleeing the state, grateful voters rewarded Bush with a second term in 1998. There was still much to be done, and the agenda was made even tougher by his habit of taking several months of vacation time annually.

Highlights of his second term included rehashing everything from his first term, but he was bolder than ever in funneling public money to faith-based organizations and slashing taxes for the rich. The transparency of his crony appointments and obscene giveaways to the private sector impressed even Rove.

As his second term neared an end, Bush declared June 10, 2000 Jesus Day in Texas. "Lots of folks thought Jesus Day was my idea," Bush remembers. "Well, I wish it had been. It was really thought up by some British guy, I think. Maybe Tony Blair, but I'm not sure." Original or not, Jesus Day cemented Bush's reputation as a devout pseudo-Christian.

By 2000, Texas had slipped significantly in national education rankings, environmental standards, fiscal health, infrastructure soundness and a myriad of other areas. Bush's work there was done.

His next career move would take the nation by storm.

Next Thursday, Part VII: A Square Peg In An Oval Office.

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Jeff Rosenzweig
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"Never attribute more intelligence to your enemy than to yourself and your brothers." - Abbie Hoffman, Revolution for the Hell of It
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