The Way They Were






Look at what I found! Old yearbook photos of some well-known Austin & Texas political figures. Can you name them all? The winner gets to buy me a drink and/or some tires, depending on how tonight goes.

Just kidding about the pictures being authentic (not kidding about the drink). Go here to make your own (and email it to me!). Hours of entertainment as we await The Greater Depression!

Oh, to have a 1954 economy and hairstyle.




Some entries received today...








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Let the sky fall. I'm not running to the cave.

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"And for whom the vultures have now come home to roost."

Thank you, Congressman Lloyd Doggett, for representing me so eloquently.

Signed,

Your Constituent.






Me with Rep. Doggett on Election Night 2006,
seconds after Democrats took back the House.
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I'll let Michael Moore say it for me.

An email from Michael Moore this morning that bears repeating.

Grim.




Friends,



Let me cut to the chase. The biggest robbery in the history of this country is taking place as you read this. Though no guns are being used, 300 million hostages are being taken. Make no mistake about it: After stealing a half trillion dollars to line the pockets of their war-profiteering backers for the past five years, after lining the pockets of their fellow oilmen to the tune of over a hundred billion dollars in just the last two years, Bush and his cronies -- who must soon vacate the White House -- are looting the U.S. Treasury of every dollar they can grab. They are swiping as much of the silverware as they can on their way out the door.



No matter what they say, no matter how many scare words they use, they are up to their old tricks of creating fear and confusion in order to make and keep themselves and the upper one percent filthy rich. Just read the first four paragraphs of the lead story in last Monday's New York Times and you can see what the real deal is:



"Even as policy makers worked on details of a $700 billion bailout of the financial industry, Wall Street began looking for ways to profit from it.



"Financial firms were lobbying to have all manner of troubled investments covered, not just those related to mortgages.




"At the same time, investment firms were jockeying to oversee all the assets that Treasury plans to take off the books of financial institutions, a role that could earn them hundreds of millions of dollars a year in fees.



"Nobody wants to be left out of Treasury's proposal to buy up bad assets of financial institutions."


Unbelievable. Wall Street and its backers created this mess and now they are going to clean up like bandits. Even Rudy Giuliani is lobbying for his firm to be hired (and paid) to "consult" in the bailout.



The problem is, nobody truly knows what this "collapse" is all about. Even Treasury Secretary Paulson admitted he doesn't know the exact amount that is needed (he just picked the $700 billion number out of his head!). The head of the congressional budget office said he can't figure it out nor can he explain it to anyone.



And yet, they are screeching about how the end is near! Panic! Recession! The Great Depression! Y2K! Bird flu! Killer bees! We must pass the bailout bill today!! The sky is falling! The sky is falling!




Falling for whom? NOTHING in this "bailout" package will lower the price of the gas you have to put in your car to get to work. NOTHING in this bill will protect you from losing your home. NOTHING in this bill will give you health insurance.



Health insurance? Mike, why are you bringing this up? What's this got to do with the Wall Street collapse?



It has everything to do with it. This so-called "collapse" was triggered by the massive defaulting and foreclosures going on with people's home mortgages. Do you know why so many Americans are losing their homes? To hear the Republicans describe it, it's because too many working class idiots were given mortgages that they really couldn't afford. Here's the truth: The number one cause of people declaring bankruptcy is because of medical bills. Let me state this simply: If we had had universal health coverage, this mortgage "crisis" may never have happened.



This bailout's mission is to protect the obscene amount of wealth that has been accumulated in the last eight years. It's to protect the top shareholders who own and control corporate America. It's to make sure their yachts and mansions and "way of life" go uninterrupted while the rest of America suffers and struggles to pay the bills. Let the rich suffer for once. Let them pay for the bailout. We are spending 400 million dollars a day on the war in Iraq. Let them end the war immediately and save us all another half-trillion dollars!



I have to stop writing this and you have to stop reading it. They are staging a financial coup this morning in our country. They are hoping Congress will act fast before they stop to think, before we have a chance to stop them ourselves. So stop reading this and do something -- NOW! Here's what you can do immediately:




1. Call or e-mail Senator Obama. Tell him he does not need to be sitting there trying to help prop up Bush and Cheney and the mess they've made. Tell him we know he has the smarts to slow this thing down and figure out what's the best route to take. Tell him the rich have to pay for whatever help is offered. Use the leverage we have now to insist on a moratorium on home foreclosures, to insist on a move to universal health coverage, and tell him that we the people need to be in charge of the economic decisions that affect our lives, not the barons of Wall Street.



2. Take to the streets. Participate in one of the hundreds of quickly-called demonstrations that are taking place all over the country (especially those near Wall Street and DC).



3. Call your Representative in Congress and your Senators. (click here to find their phone numbers). Tell them what you told Senator Obama.



When you screw up in life, there is hell to pay. Each and every one of you reading this knows that basic lesson and has paid the consequences of your actions at some point. In this great democracy, we cannot let there be one set of rules for the vast majority of hard-working citizens, and another set of rules for the elite, who, when they screw up, are handed one more gift on a silver platter. No more! Not again!



Yours,

Michael Moore

MMFlint@aol.com

MichaelMoore.com



P.S. Having read further the details of this bailout bill, you need to know you are being lied to. They talk about how they will prevent golden parachutes. It says NOTHING about what these executives and fat cats will make in SALARY. According to Rep. Brad Sherman of California, these top managers will continue to receive million-dollar-a-month paychecks under this new bill. There is no direct ownership given to the American people for the money being handed over. Foreign banks and investors will be allowed to receive billion-dollar handouts. A large chunk of this $700 billion is going to be given directly to Chinese and Middle Eastern banks. There is NO guarantee of ever seeing that money again.




P.P.S. From talking to people I know in DC, they say the reason so many Dems are behind this is because Wall Street this weekend put a gun to their heads and said either turn over the $700 billion or the first thing we'll start blowing up are the pension funds and 401(k)s of your middle class constituents. The Dems are scared they may make good on their threat. But this is not the time to back down or act like the typical Democrat we have witnessed for the last eight years. The Dems handed a stolen election over to Bush. The Dems gave Bush the votes he needed to invade a sovereign country. Once they took over Congress in 2007, they refused to pull the plug on the war. And now they have been cowered into being accomplices in the crime of the century. You have to call them now and say "NO!" If we let them do this, just imagine how hard it will be to get anything good done when President Obama is in the White House. THESE DEMOCRATS ARE ONLY AS STRONG AS THE BACKBONE WE GIVE THEM. CALL CONGRESS NOW.

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Deductibles for Obama!

All four tires on my car, whose Texas plates say “OBAMA,” were slashed on Tuesday night. I have filed a police report and have since had my tires replaced through my insurance.
However, my $500 deductible should not go to waste, which is why I'd like to raise $500 for Obama's presidential race.
Donate today to Obama to show these guys that the air cannot be taken out of our tires!

Deductibles for Obama

Goal Thermometer
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An OpenLetter to the Knife-Happy Vandal Who Slashed My Tires Last Night.

Dear McSlasher,

My coworker's first words to me today when he came to give me a ride to work were: "You sure seem to be handling this well." I guess he expected me to be mad or crying or both.

Well, yeah, I thought. Yeah, my two front four tires are slashed and yeah, I could think of a lot better ways to spend $500 than on a deductible to my insurance company to get my car towed and two new tires. Yeah, it's a total hassle and really frosts my cookies that someone would decide to be so destructive and -- frankly -- wasteful.

But even with those thoughts, this morning when I looked at the razor holes and slits in the sidewall of my tires, I didn't feel surprised or saddened. A literal manifestation of how I have felt for the last few years -- gouged, deflated and disabled -- was sitting before my very eyes, in a puddle surrounded by fallen leaves, the kinds that start to scatter off the cedar elms this time of year that I used to run through as a child barefoot, exclaiming "Golden coins! Golden coins!"

Well, I'm not a kid anymore and the golden coins are falling on Washington politicians and burying Wall Street investors. And while you may get your kicks writing "OBAMA SUCKS" notes to leave on my windshield, I entertain myself by calling people in Sealy, Texas old enough to remember voting when there was a poll tax but progressive enough to see Obama's vision. I walk outside on achingly hot sunny weekends, and suck down cold Dr. Peppers in the doorway of the home of a retired Navy officer wanting an Obama sign, while you creep around in the night with a box cutter. Because while you are clearly evil and destructive, there is nothing more evil and destructive than those who sit idly by and do nothing. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, "We will have to repent not merely for vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people."

So, McSlasher, go ahead and do your damage. Key my doors -- I know a good paint shop. Dent my hood -- Fix-A-Dent loves me. But I'm keeping my plates, I'm keeping my voice and I might even slap a few stickers on the bumper now.

Oh and my tires? Slash them again. The tire repair shop owner (I'm guessing he's a Democrat) gave me a lifetime warranty on them.

How's that for change we can believe in?

Peace,
MR

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My Convention Lovechild

I assume by now most of my Facebook friends have seen my Afterword in the Texas Observer, entitled "The Obama Awakening," but for those of you who haven't can find it here.
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Hope is My New Facebook Friend.

Like Obama, I never had much time after the convention to bask in the glory of the four days that were the Democratic National Convention. Invesco is still a very clear, crisp dream that faded into night, fireworks and tears, and then one last lingering look at the stadium, glowing with spirit as bodies spiraled around glass-encased stairwells, chanting "Yes we can!" I didn't get out of the Invesco parking lot until some time after nine...ten...maybe eleven. I wandered onto a free shuttle, destination anywhere, sent a few highly exclamatory text messages ("CANNOT BELIEVE IT!!!!" "AMAZING!!" "SI SE PUEDE!!!"), and fell asleep to the hum of the idling engine in the long line of cars. I didn't awake until I was being nudged out of my seat by the man next to me, my damp palm holding tightly to my American flag, my cheek plastered to the CHANGE sign I had placed up against the window. I got off the shuttle at Union Station, and from there, I remember very little until I awoke the following day on Alaskan Airlines Flight #75 in Juneau.

Juneau initially seemed so irrelevant to the week's activities, but I kind of liked the idea of it. I was going for my second cousin's wedding, but I figured it would also serve as a kind of retreat, a moment when I could stare out at a glacier and reflect on the four days prior; take deep gulps of Alaskan air and try to commit to memory every moment I had experienced in Denver.

As we taxied to the gate in Juneau, I turned my cell phone on and watched the screen think while it powered up. As the emails flooded in, I saw a "CNN Breaking News" email. Sleepily, I clicked on the email to see what sort of post-convention excitement it could be.

Sen. John McCain picks Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate on GOP ticket for White House, CNN learns.

I was so incredibly tired that for a moment, I really thought my eyes were deceiving me. 'Alaska Gov.?' I thought. Aren't I in Alaska? This can't be right.

A quick look at the mountainside around me and three stuffed bears later in the airport terminal, it was confirmed that I was in fact in Alaska, and that my quiet retreat to Juneau was now suddenly politically-charged. "Did you hear the news?" and "Aren't you glad you're in Juneau while this is going on?" would be repeated over and over to me during the three days I was there. No, I didn't want to know anything about the Alaskan governor whom the locals described as a flip-flopper beauty queen. Just let me bask in my DNC glory.

And so the convention for me became much like the confetti that rocketed up around Barack Obama after his speech at Invesco -- momentarily high but falling slowly and softly away. And I arrived home after the convention to face handfuls of red, white and blue tissue paper hastily grabbed off the floor on my way out of the stadium, and my happiness turning to illness caused by the too-quick return to sea-level: the reality of Sarah Palin.

I got the bends.

Until today, when I got an invitation to join the "I Have More Foreign Policy Experience Than Sarah Palin" group on Facebook. What was surprising was not the group name, nor the validity of the subject, but the sender.

I have a friend. We'll call her E-dub. Those of you who are regulars will know her antics well, but what you might not know about her is that since I met her, in November 2006, I have very quietly tolerated her conservative beliefs. While the girl can drink, she also is a very devout Catholic from North Carolina who married a career Army officer she met at Duke. I never tried to sway her, figuring it was a lost cause, and if I did, I was too drunk at the time to remember.

So when I got an invitation from E-dub, of all people, to join the group, my jaw dropped. It'd be like what I'd imagine finding out you have a long lost sibling would be like. I very quickly joined the group, then questioned on E-dub's Facebook wall "Does that group invitation mean that you might be one of those beloved swing voters casting a vote for obama in north carolizza despite your conservative catholic pretenses?"

And this -- THIS! -- coming from a girl who wore a mock-turtleneck on Sixth Street the first time she went out:

i think i have to vote absentee in KY. cause we wont have lived in NC but for a couple days come election time. but she definitely may have pushed me over the edge. like i was standing on the edge, and she gave me a big ol shove away from her and her people.

As I was doing a celebration dance in my chair, either for E-dub seeing the light or McCain's plan backfiring, or maybe a little of both, I had another wall post from E-dub:

an addendum: during the DNC, i realized that whatever my particular economic or social leanings may be, this country truly, actually, physically needs Obama to get elected. If he doesnt, i think the educated, optimistic, forward thinking people in America may just plain give up. and that would be terrible.

That would be terrible. And you know what, I can't be one of them. It was the fog of war that gave E-dub and I any sort of common ground to begin with. And so onward into the fog we go.
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A Tale of Two Stump Speeches

At the TDP 40 Year High School Reunion Kickoff Party at Antone's tonight, I took some video footage of the two stump speeches we heard (three if you count the 18 year old Patrick Rose look-alike kid that Noriega sent to speak on his behalf). We are in an election year, right? Valinda? Larry Joe? Crickets?

Anyway, before Grupo El Cheese-grater-o performed, we heard from two state representatives. Candidate #1 has been peddling the same stump speech for the last seven months. Candidate #2 has only been telling his stump speech since Labor Day. Candidate #2 has been in the Texas House for almost twenty years, somehow existing despite not having a website.

Mark Strama, you should learn from your elders.

Candidate #1 - Mark Strama


Candidate #2 - Elliott Naishtat
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The Blogosphere and The Case of the Youngest Delegate

Some of you may have seen the "Not Quite the Youngest Delegate" mini-documentary featuring John Moritz, Rick Cofer, David Broockman, KT from BOR chattering away in the background and yours truly. At the time, after being assualted with a Flip camera when I was minding my own business attempting to connect to the Radisson Red Roof Red Lion Hotel wifi, I was feeling pretty good about getting the facts straight about who really was the youngest delegate.



But this article from the Llama Ledger (yes, I'm completely embarrassed I'm having to site cite the Llama Ledger) proves that we were all wrong.

When Texas State Senator and DNC co-chair Leticia Van de Putte boasted an 18-year-old as part of her state's delegation, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who also co-chairs this week's Convention, shot back.
"We have two 18-year-olds as part of the Kansas delegates...one is actually not 18 yet, he will be 18 by the time he votes in November," Sebelius said. "Whenever you can one-up Texas, you try to."
But in fact, someone has them both beat.
"Our youngest delegate is David Gilbert-Pederson, he's 17, and he's from Minnesota," said Democratic National Committee Secretary Alice Travis Germond.
Oops. Does anyone in Minnesota even own a Flip camera?
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The Devil You Know

Anyone get their color back from their Palin pallor yet? Not me. Tonight at trivia, we were trying to come up with a suitable, topical name for our team. After a few minutes of tossing around Palin-isms (I wanted to go with "I Only Shoot Coyotes Wolves From the Ground") my mother, who brings to the team her extensive knowledge of Beatles trivia and lantana varietals, said, "Why don't we come up with something totally un-Palin related; a more fun current event!" When my mom's the one looking for positives, you know it's bad. $85 billion dollar AIG rescue bad.

Everyone looked around the table rather slack-jawed, stumped for a moment at the prospect. What on earth is newsworthy other than Sarah Palin? Finally, someone muttered "ACL Fest?"

We eventually went with an actual headline that was running on the front page of CCN.com today: "Bush Lands in Texas; Residents Urged to Leave."

I never thought I'd say this -- okay, I would never have said this before Sarah Palin -- but I miss George W. Bush.

Maybe it's a little Stockholmish, but I feel like George Bush, especially over the last year, has finally become tolerable by deciding to STFU, no doubt cattle-prodded into quiet submission by his handlers.

George Bush is sorta normal, kind of the (deserving) whipping boy for the last eight years. He has an ape-like face and a confounded countenance that has got me starting to think (I know, clearly I'm losing my mind) "Maybe that whole Iraq thing was just a 'Doh!' moment...maybe?" Bush has daughters with names like Laura and Barbara who go out and get fall-down drunk in Mexico. Who the hell names their kids Trig and Track and teaches their daughter to groom her son like a cat? When it comes to the boys club, Bush is almost a docile little pawn when placed next to Sarah Palin's conniving ways.

I guess it helps me to know that Bush can't get elected again. And I don't want to be called a concern troll, really I don't. But there's something to be said for the devil you know. Not much, but something.

Oh well. As Jon Stewart says, she doesn't need to know the Bush doctrine. She is the Bush doctrine.

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"And I don't know what it is..."

Tragically funny. Sort of reminds me of how "strategery"made me simultaneously crack up and want to move to New Zealand.

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Heck yeah, y'all can.

It seems everyone is all bent out of shape about the Obama email that went out Thursday declaring "Drive for Obama," encouraging Texans to drive to New Mexico to help volunteer in the battleground state.

I admit that it seems a little weird, after getting the green message pounded into my head for four days in Denver (I can't throw away a water bottle without feeling a pang of guilt), that the Obama campaign would now ask for us to drive hundreds of miles to help his campaign. It makes me feel like I'm going to end up as Carbon Bigfoot.

But...hold your Hybrids, people. This is, after all, a race, is it not? We can't pout in the corner about our state not being crucial, especially after we bitched all through the primary about what a huge PINTA it was to have the Texas two-step caucus system actually put on its dancing shoes. The Obama campaign has stuff to, business to take care of. It's time to put on our big girl panties and, as my dear Colorado friend Cashmoney used to advise me when it got cold out and we were dressed for a beach in Hawaii, "it's time to nut up." Or, alternatively, "ovary up," for those of you who are still on speaking terms with your ovaries.

If turquoise jewelry and adobe isn't your style, then I suggest you let the New Mejicanos worry about change we can believe in and you knock on a few doors for Texas House candidates like Valinda Bolton, Donnie Dippel or Diana Maldonado. Those of you in DFW (I'm terribly sorry about that, by the way) can walk a few miles for State Senate hopeful Wendy Davis, or Houstonites -- once you're done dealing with that massive upper-level disturbance -- get thee to the Harris County Coordinated Campaign offices and help out Chris Bell.

Yeah, it's not as glamorous and no, you don't get cool blue and red OBAMA stickers out of it. But as Obama keeps reminding us, over and over again, like a patient parent during a long road trip to the kid who keeps saying "Are we there yet?" -- it's not about him. It's about us. You may not get to go to the big ball, Cinderella, but you can still dance.
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Y-Ike-s!

Sept. 7

Sept. 9
Sept. 11


Ike's looking like a real squirrelly sucker. Typical.

Nothing to do but hunker down and pray for daylight. Good luck, my great state of Texas.
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Act Who?

This is your Elliott Naishtat RSS feed, since he doesn't have a website. And, since it's "citizen reporting," it can't be considered stalking.




In Step 1 of getting Elliott Naishtat to start a website with DLCCWeb, I had to find out if Representative Naishtat was even on ActBlue for the contributions page. He is, however the results were dismal. One supporter and $25 dollars raised across all of ActBlue?

So I have set up a page to show him that people think he needs a website. The goal is 100 -- one hundred people, not dollars. Because it's not about the amount of money he needs to raise, it's about the amount of people he needs to connect with. I'm asking everyone today to take a moment to donate any amount to the Wired4Naishtat fund, and I'm kicking it off with my one vote.

Goal Thermometer


Once you've done that, leave an idea for what his domain name should be (elliottnaishtat.com? elliottforaustin.com? ihearttacos.com?) in the comments section!
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Republicans' Enthusiasm Jumps After Convention

Republicans’ Enthusiasm Jumps After Convention...Heart Attacks Increase.

McCain edges ahead; Palin speech impediment may be a factor

by Frank Newport (and mean rachel)

PRINCETON, NJ / AUSTIN, TX -- As the remarkable exhausting two-week stretch of back-to-back presidential nomination conventions ends and Mean Rachel's migraine subsides, a weekend USA Today/Gallup Poll finds that the John McCain-Sarah Palin-Bristol Baby Daddy ticket has more than matched the Barack Obama-Joe Biden ticket's convention bounce of last week with a "rebound" bounce, similar to a "rebound" hookup, and in the immediate aftermath of the GOP Rich White People convention McCain and Palin now have a slight edge over their opponents as they prepare for their walk of shame.

The convention and/or McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate not only had the effect of moving the horserace needle bullshit-o-meter in McCain's direction, but also increased several measures of enthusiasm libido for the GOP.

There has been a very substantial jump in the percentage of Republicans men saying they are more enthusiastic about voting in this election, from 42% a week ago who would hook up with Hillary (after the Democratic convention, but before the Republican convention) to 60% today who would like to follow Palin's bridge to nowhere.

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Turning Texas Blue, One Sausage Link at a Time.

This weekend I decided to skip the Travis County Coordinated Campaign kick off, figuring they had it under control, and headed out to Elgin to blockwalk for the Bastrop County Coordinated ticket -- consisting of Larry Joe Doherty, Donnie Dippel, Chris Duggan and other D's. After the sobering wake-up call of the rural caucus in Denver last week, (or was it two weeks ago?) I decided that it wasn't worth waiting around to knock on some rural voters' doors.

Fortunately, Bastrop County also knows how to treat its volunteers. It doesn't get much better than this on a September Saturday in an election year, folks!

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Tits & Ass

(crossposted on Huffington Post as "Republican Pornography")

The last time I felt this objectified, there were wolf whistles and halter tops involved. Leave it to the Republican party -- after spending the last eight years taking my money to fund a war I don't agree with, murdering and torturing people in the name of my homeland's "security," and spoon-feeding me lies with my cereal every morning by way of the late Tony Snow -- to now strip from me the last remaining bastion of my pride as an American: the pride of womanhood.

Granted, Bill Clinton popped the proverbial cherry in making women seem weak and sheeplike in the face of power. You want to talk about 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling? There's not a ceiling high or strong enough to convince me that Hillary Clinton doesn't play into the stereotype by Standing By Her Man. She ought to take a baseball bat to that mantra and go it alone -- maybe I would have even been one of those 18 million voters. What would have been so wrong with being Senator Rodham?

But no way, no how, no McCain could even compare to the surreal experience of watching Sarah Palin take the stage and announce on Wednesday night, grinning widely, that she will "accept the call to help our nominee for president to serve and defend America." I half expected her chest to turn into two rifles, like that scene in Austin Powers when the fembot goes into meltdown mode.

Defend America? How about yourself, Sarah? How about giving McCain a swift kick in the pants and saying "By the way, I don't work for people who call women 'trollops' and 'cunts.' I don't intend to shrink wrap my sagging skin around my forehead and color my hair to Playboy bunny blonde." You want to talk about qualifications -- Palin's first lack of judgment was putting on lipstick, taking the role and regurgitating a speech that was probably originally written for a man.

My generation has grown up in the bosom of equal opportunity, or at least on an outward front. On average, men still make more money than women and dominate the political world (not to mention my workplace). But for the most part, I didn't have to ride horses side-saddle, wear stockings or become a nurse or a teacher. All of these things are so easy to take for granted until you turn on the TV and find yourself listening to a woman who is being used. Because she is a woman. Because that's what women are for.

Maureen Dowd wrote about Hillary dampening the dreams of our daughters. Palin's only purpose is to feed the wet dreams of our sons, a pretty face to deliver an ugly message smothering a gruesome eight years of huge mistakes. The Kool-Aid is so much easier to drink when you get to imagine your drinking partner in fishnets. Have another glass, baby.
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McCain Picks Bobby's World Mom for Running Mate

I can't be the only 24 year-old who thought Sarah Palin's speech last night sounded exactly like Martha Generic, Bobby's mom in the early 90's cartoon "Bobby's World" with Howie Mandel.

Just try to tell me otherwise. All Martha Generic is missing is a shotgun and the Mendenhall Glacier.

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All We Are Saying.

I spent all of the first day of the Democratic National Convention, and nearly all of the second day, feeling like a cactus planted in a fern bed. Between getting to where I needed to be (seven AM, twenty miles south of town in Aurora, Colorado, yawning over cold eggs and Boyd Richie) and finding what I needed to find (what lengths I would have gone to -- short of voting Republican -- to find some wifi in the Greater Denver area), by the time the curtain fell on Michelle Obama's speech on Monday night, I was teary-eyed and not just because of the adorable kids. Yes, they were adorable. No, I couldn't write about them because there was nowhere to write. What's the purpose of a message if the message can't get out?

The DNC threw as many logistical challenges at a kid blogger disguised as a reportlogger as bureaucratically possible. I knew things were bad when KT and Matt Glazer of BOR fame descended upon me stressing about credentials in the lobby of the Hampton Inn and Suites located on an equally bermuda-trianglesque intersection of Sherman and Broadway. The Hampton Inn and Suites held the elusive "Prada Room," a closet-sized lockbox where two suits would escort you inside to a vault of credentials. Reds, greens, purples, oranges -- our colorblind world never held so many colors with so many different meanings. The lobby was alive with hushed whisperings between laptop-laden press:

Do you have the Floor Pass? Or a Perimeter Pass?
The Perimeter Pass gets you into Pepsi, but not Invesco. Unless you trade it in on Thursday.
What about the Convention Center?
Which convention center?
Where the convention is?
Shit, what if it says Hall Pass?

I donned my grey and purple albatross and set off in the direction of the convention. The one at the Convention Center. It took me nearly all day of navigating ballrooms and getting trapped in one tedious press avail to discover that I wasn't in a caucus. More embarrassing was deciding to "hop on the light rail." I used the phrase in my mind to psyche myself out, thinking People do this all the time. I'll just buy a ticket, hop on, and head over to the Pepsi Center. I'll be there by 3 PM for the opening gavel, easy.

Thirty minutes later, damning Will Wynn and the City of Austin, I grabbed a friendly-looking man with my eyes and said, "I'm sorry. I'm from Texas. We don't have mass transit." The Field Director for the Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (as it so conveniently turned out) took pity on me and helped me take the purple H line to the orange C line over to the Pepsi Center. Shame.

I'd never felt so discriminatory while simultaneously being discriminated against. People's eyes immediately shot down to my sternum when I met them in a democratic caste system that made me start to think I should just draw a purple dot between my eyebrows and call it a convention. When I got lost at the Pepsi Center for about two hours trying to find the "Press Elevators" that promised to take me to a floor that didn't even appear to exist, I nearly lost it. I finally arrived in some special room on floor 3A, said "I just want to sit down and write," cleared a space with a sweep of my arm, and plugged my laptop into the ethernet cable. Yes, ethernet. Yes, cable. I didn't get it either. Neither did the two men who almost got into a fist fight next to me over who stole whose ethernet cable, while I tried to look harmless typing away about rural voters.

But -- but for Wednesday. Wednesday changed it. It occurred to me, late Tuesday night, that of course no one was going to allow me to do anything. It was time, I decided, to truly summon the energy of "What would Molly do?"

I had been walking in the shadow of Molly Ivins' spirit all week, having the distinct honor of writing for the same publication she wrote for and being a woman at this historically shoulder-padded event. Whenever someone would hear the words Texas Observer, their hearts would instinctively default to the last Molly Ivins story they could summon. Usually, they were funny. Always, they were meaningful. A man wearing a rainbow Obama pin and a pink hat came up to me at the Denver Diner at about 1 AM. He began telling me the story of how he had bumped into this woman with "beautiful auburn hair" in the food line at the convention in Chicago. He shared fish and chips with Molly over a hearty helping of similar philosophies. When I asked him if he was an Obama delegate, he retorted "Aren't we all, now?"

I think Molly would have liked that moment.

So with my new motto, I forged ahead, colors be damned. I decided that I would go up to every security personnel I could muster until I got where I was going, or closer to it. And somehow by Wednesday afternoon, thanks to the help of a well-placed Floor Pass, I ended up on the floor pressed up against the chairs of the Illinois and Virginia delegation. To avoid getting tossed out by DNC staffers, I migrated around between Secret Service men, a woman who fainted when Obama eventually came out, and a hardened looking New York lobbyist with squinting, dubious eyes and a shining scalp.

The lobbyist spent ten minutes ranting to me about Obama. Things needed to change, he said but Obama would never make a difference. Obama, he said, could decline all the PAC money he wanted but that Washington would never change for Obama. I listened patiently, accepted, with a teeth-gritting smile, the Special Guest Floor Pass he handed me ("I've got extras, I sure as hell don't need these things") and stared back at the stage in time to see Melissa Etheridge start to sing.

If you haven't watched Etheridge's performance from Wednesday night, you should. Put down your coffee, hit play, and just think about this for a second.



God bless America.
Your feet hurt from dress shoes and sidewalks, your shoulder hurts from a laptop you've been lugging around but unable to use, but most painful, most battered and sore, is your American spirit. You're standing next to a lobbyist who's balding and chewing gum, unimpressed with anything about life that doesn't come in a six-speed. You're rubbing shoulders with quite possibly the person who got you into this painful mess.

The times, they are a-changin'.
You glance at the old lobbyist and he looks over. He's uncrossed his arms and suddenly his gum has disappeared. Gone is the look of cynicism from his face -- it's a face of recognition, a man who has perhaps just noticed the chanting crowd around him for the first time.

And all we are saying, is give peace a chance.
The crowd is swaying and like it or not, media or lobbyist, you're swaying too. This doesn't hurt. This makes sense now.

'Cause I was born in the USA.
I was.
Born.
In the USA.

And repeat. The lobbyist is staring straight-ahead, singing along despite himself. And so are you. Colored passes hang around your neck but for seven minutes, no one asks you to move along. The Secret Service man snaps a picture with his Blackberry to send to his girlfriend. They'll want to remember this. The image. The sound. The clatter of all we are saying. Banging on, it seems, pots and pans.

I think Molly would have liked that moment.
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A Week to Remember, In Pictures.

As mentioned before, if you really want to know what I was up to all week, you'll find it over at the Texas Observer blog. Otherwise, here are some pictures of the festivities.




Red Rocks & Dave Matthews on Sunday night

Caucuses and trying to figure out where to go all day Monday, and a great speech by Michelle with their two adorable unscripted kids.

On Tuesday, a birds-eye-view of Hillary's speech and -- more importantly -- Gov. Brian Schweitzer's speech.
"The petro-dictators will never own American wind and sunshine." Amazing.

Full-circle moment Wednesday night with a reprise of "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow."

Thursday Tears.

Checking in with Gov. Palin (or lack thereof) and a bachelorette party in Juneau on Friday.

Whale watching and gorgeous mountain air on Douglas Island
on Saturday with the sister & cousins (+1).

High-altitude wedding on Sunday.


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