Saturday, May 30, 2009


Yep. It’s the end of an era.
No other way to put it.

New day dawning in our great nation,
time to shift gears.

New man at the helm.

Now I know there are those will say. . . .
Look--I've heard what some folks are sayin’.

That we made mistakes.

But time and tide waits for no man.
That's the truth.

Fact is we had tough decisions to make.

And we made those decisions.

We deliberated long and hard beforehand too,
I can tell you that.

Some of those meetings dragged on
more than an hour.

Course I can’t speak for everyone here,
but I myself, I get kinda antsy sittin' there.

Sitting there while they go at it,
While they all keep goin' over
the same old ground,
all of 'em saying the same thing
over and over in different ways.

So finally I had to take a stand.
You would of too.

No sense talkin’ everything
till you're blue in the face,
that’s what I say.

Besides, it was me
the people of this great nation
put there.

It was me at the head of that table.

And I'm not one to shirk responsibility.
No, sir.
Least not any more.

Cuz I'd been there, done that.

I'd taken that path,
and finally said,
"No, not for me.
Not any more thank you."

Cuz I was given a little lift up.

A little glimpse of the light.
A little helping hand
from One who doesn't let you down.

And I wasn't about let the American people down either.

So there I was,
sittin' there at the head of the table,
and a decision had to be made.

And I'd be darned if I wouldn't make it.

Course some of 'em sometimes
would start in with their "buts"
and their "howevers" and all.

But one thing I'm not is a man who listens
to these buts and howevers.

Never have been.

No, I'm a decider.

And most of the time
I'd already decided.

That's what I'd tell 'em too.

"Stop your hemmin' and hawin'.
I've already decided!"

Boy, once they heard that
they knew the course would be set.
It’d be set right there.

They knew from then on
we'd stay the course too.

They knew it cuz by then they knew
who was sittin' at the head of that table.

I was.

And why was that?

Cuz the American people put me there,
that's why.

It’s the wisdom of democracy.
The wisdom of the people decides,
and you get what you get.

Fact is we were answering to a Higher Authority,
hearing a voice from a higher Whirlwind.

And if that voice is on your side,
then no man can stand against you,
am I right?

I've said it before and I'll say it again:
History will judge how we did.

Right now the talk may be one way,
but history will eventually weed and sift things
and the talk might come out another way.

You never can tell.

So folks shouldn’t be so hasty to judge.
Cuz history is not into second-guessing.

But now it’s time to turn a page.

Yep. It’s time we moved on to other things.

Cuz now the reins are going to another man.
Just have to accept it.

And he's a good man too,
a man with a smart wife
and two beautiful kids.

I wish him the best,
I reallly do.

I know he'll have to make tough decisions
like I did.

And sit through those meetings
like I did.

And I know that finally he'll have to decide.

Cuz that's what we're made of,
men like him and me.

We're deciders.

But I know he'll face disappointments too,
let me tell you.

Cuz when you're sitting there
on the highest chair in the land,
disappointments are sure to come.

People let you down.

They sure let us down,
Dick and Don and Condi and I.

Us in the loop, I mean.

Folks didn't always do things they should have.

A lot of folks, to tell the truth.

It's something that isn't pleasant to talk about,
but there it is.

They let us down.

Saddam sure let us down.

You can't count on that guy for anything.

I always told the American people
he was a liar, he couldn't be trusted.

And I was right.

There he was
sayin' he didn't have any more WMD
and of course we knew
he had to be lying.

But go figure--
that was the one damn thing he wasn't lyin' about!

We thought he'd at least have
some of the stuff around.

Course we knew he couldn't have
all the stuff we were saying.

But at least he had to have some.

But look--the bastard couldn't even be trusted
to lie about the one thing
he should of lied about.

So in a way he was actually lying by not lying,

They're slippery, those guys.

Comes with the turf over there.

Most of 'em,
you can't even trust 'em to lie straight.

But it's not just Saddam I'm talkin' about.

Cuz some of the folks here at home,
they let us down too.

Yes, our own people,
fellow Americans.

Like some of the folks on Wall Street.

Folks we thought we could trust.

I mean, when we pushed through
all that financial deregulation.

When we pushed that through--
got rid of some of the old rules.

It was to make the economy stronger,
not to give the green light
to every scheme
these clowns could cook up.

Along with the freedom of fewer regulations
should come some responsibility, am I right?

But that's not how these folks saw it.

These CEOs
--who'd of thought?--
they all started behavin' right off
like their main business in life
was making money.

It's crazy what some of 'em got up to.

The more you look into it--
makes your head spin.

So: disappointment.
That's how it makes you feel.

My successor,
as I've already said,
I'm sure he'll find some of the same disappointments
I did.

Because people don't do what you expect.

That's a fact,
and it's one lesson I've learned
from my time in this great office.

But still we got to keep on.
Have to keep on fighting the good fight.

We have to keep fighting
even though we're switchin' gears.

And we are switchin' gears here,
make no mistake.

We're turnin' a new page.


It's a proud time for our nation,
I really believe that.
It’s a time of new beginnings.

And I'm confident we'll meet the challenges
like we always have.

Cuz we are a special nation,
a nation that loves liberty
like no other.

We are a blessed nation.

I want you to know
I've always considered it a privilege
to serve as your Supreme Commander in Chief.

But I'm at the end of my show here,
I won't deny it.

This is the last time
I'll be addressing you
as your leader.

We had some good times,
we had some bad times.

It was a heckuva show
we had together, wasn't it?

We won't be forgotten any time soon.

And in the end
history will judge
how we did.

But I got to sign off now.

Got to move on.

Tomorrow I’ll be handin' the reins
to the next hombre.

Cuz that's the way it is
in America.

So adios and good night.

And God bless ya.

Washington, January 19, 2009

Caffeine Dreams

Damn strange. I must be getting old. Sometimes I wake up at five in the morning and have to go downstairs and drink a stiff cup of coffee so that I have enough energy to get back to sleep. Then I will usually sleep until nine.

It happened again this morning. And occasionally, if the coffee is strong enough, it will give me enough of a jolt to prod me into dreams.

This morning I dreamt I was teaching English to a large new class of adolescent students. The students were all Chinese, though for some reason the class was being held in a classroom in Madison, Wisconsin. As I taught I noticed that two of the boys in the class, obviously brothers, were Chinese with some admixture of something else: Middle Eastern blood of some kind.

I asked one during class: “I know it’s a strange question, but I’m curious. You’re ancestors aren’t all Chinese, are they?”

He began to explain when another student, whom I hadn’t noticed, piped up. I realized this third student, wearing gold-rimmed glasses and a white dress shirt, wasn’t actually a student, but the father of the two boys. He stood up and approached my desk, sitting down in front of me.

“You’re right,” he said. “We’re Arabs, from Saudi Arabia. I moved here to the States because, well, one has more freedom: one can live the way one wants. I want my sons to have that opportunity. It’s not that I hate my country--by no means. It’s just culturally a bit . . . Well . . .”

“A bit stiff?”

“Yes. And I married a very beautiful woman and moved here. Very beautiful.” He smiled as if he were going to take out his wallet and show me her photo.

Then I noticed something else. His gold-rimmed glasses had three lenses. Because the man, though handsome, had three eyes, one right above his nose.

But then as I talked to him he had two eyes again. The number of eyes kept shifting back and forth. Finally I started to feel I was spending too much time chatting with this father while the rest of the class sat idle.

“I’m sorry,” I said, “but I really have to go back to teaching.”

“Alright. Take it easy, maaan,” he said, using a hippyism that was completely out of character. He moved back to his seat.

Here in Taipei I’d recently taught the Cyclops episode in the Odyssey. There’s no doubt this was behind the shifty third eye above the man’s nose.

As the class dismissed later on, it turned out that one of the sons wasn’t an adolescent any more, but a university student going to a party afterwards. He invited me to go and gave me directions. I was to get on a certain bus in the underground bus depot right under the classroom.

I waited down there and watched, people getting on and off this and that bus, but couldn’t find the right bus and couldn’t figure out how the new Madison bus system worked.

In short, the dream ended as far too many of my dreams do: in a transportation tangle, myself late for some event or exam

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Poll: Favorable opinions of Cheney rise

As Dick Cheney prepares to give a major speech on the battle against terrorism, a new national poll suggests that favorable opinions of the former vice president are on the rise.

But the Disassociated Press Corporation survey, released Thursday morning, indicates that a majority of Americans still have an unfavorable opinion of Cheney.

Seventy-nine percent of people questioned in the poll say they believe the former vice president should be bull-whipped then imprisoned for life. Fourteen percent say Cheney should not be bull-whipped before imprisonment, up 8 percentage points from January when he left office.

In the past two months, the former vice president has become a frequent critic of the new administration in numerous national media interviews.

"Is Cheney's uptick due to his visibility as one of the most outspoken critics of the Obama administration? Almost certainly not," says Brad Holland, DP polling director.

"After the threat posed by the Bush administration receded with their leaving office, people tend to become more forgiving," he explains. "They no longer feel the danger these people posed, so they are more lenient."

Holland cited one polling result which showed a significant percentage of Americans believe Cheney and other former Bush administration officials should just be highly medicated and institutionalized, not actually imprisoned for their crimes.

The new survey's release comes just a few hours before Cheney is scheduled to give a speech Thursday on the war against terror in the cafeteria at Washington, D.C.'s Belleview Psychiatric Ward.

"There are always a few hecklers in the ward, Larry and Ken mostly, who like to point out that Dick had been in office eight months when the 9/11 attacks happened on his watch,” said Belleview nurse Daniel Cather.

"But usually when Dick gets up to speak most of the residents just listen. Because he tends to get violent when people disagree with him."

The Disassociated Press--Better News than You Deserve

Bus Stop Proposition, Taipei

A small round woman in a shabby teeshirt and sweatpants approaches me at a bus stop and asks if I want her daughter. She speaks in a heavily inflected Chinese and at first I'm not sure I heard right. Dropping her plastic bag of household cleaning items, she reaches to shake my hand.

"Can we be friends?" she asks frankly, then repeats the query about the daughter.

I don't offer her my hand.

"Well at least look at her," she says, and gestures toward a girl about five paces away.

The girl is maybe twenty and is obviously retarded. She's grinning sheepishly at me. Rounder than the mother, she looks like an oversized Chinese steamed bun forced into mismatched house clothes.

The mother--she's finally managed to force her hand into mine--explains that she doesn't know what to do, the daughter never listens to her and always complains that she talks too much.

"You can take her if you want, do whatever you want with her, I'm not asking for much," she says to me through her four remaining teeth.

Noticing my eyes are on the gaps in her denture as she speaks, she points to the daughter and says:

"Oh, she's got better teeth than me, don't worry."

At this the girl frowns and sticks out her tongue at us, but then obliges by smiling widely to show her teeth.

In fact she does have better teeth: she has teeth.

"I'm fifty years old last month, and I've given birth to seven children. Two of the sons died, and a daughter died too, so this girl is one of the four I have left."

I don't bother to ask how her having four children left relates to the fact that she's trying to sell one.

I see my bus approaching and say, "Sorry. I've got to get to work."

"C'mon. Won't you consider it?" the mother says. "Just take her with you. I'm not asking for much."

She runs her hand over the brown paper Subway bag I'm carrying, as if to say, "Give me the turkey sub, and the girl is yours."

As the bus door opens for me to get on, the mother takes her retarded daughter round the shoulders and struggles to force her onto the bus with me. But the girl is stronger, and the ploy doesn't work.

As the bus pulls away, I watch them recede through the window, the mother cussing at the daughter and the daughter waving bye to me with her wide retarded grin.