Friday, January 30, 2004

We Didn't Start The Fire

I like to look back on history to comfort myself that all of the trials we face now have been faced before. On the great canvas of history we fight out the internal, personal strugges of light against dark, good against evil, enlightenment against ignorance. Although the current battle for the presidency of the United States worries me, I look back on the thoughts from the first half of our century and find some solace. They faced much of what we have faced. And somehow they got us here.

    "Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it." ~ George Orwell (1903 - 1950)

They apparently had their own Dub-yas to respond to:
    "When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President; I'm beginning to believe it."~ Clarence Seward Darrow (1857 - 1938)
    "I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts." ~ Will Rogers (1879 - 1935)
    "I have always been among those who believed that the greatest freedom of speech was the greatest safety, because if a man is a fool, the best thing to do is to encourage him to advertise the fact by speaking."~ Woodrow Wilson (1856 - 1924)
    "The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first, and love of soft living and the get-rich-quick theory of life." ~ Theodore Roosevelt (1858 - 1919)
    "The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie--deliberate, contrived and dishonest- but the myth- persistent, persuasive and unrealistic."~ John F. Kennedy (1917-1963)
    "There ain't nothing that breaks up homes and nations like somebody publishing their memoirs."~ Will Rogers (1879 - 1935)
    ""Who controls the past," ran the Party slogan, "controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.""~ George Orwell (1903 - 1950)
    "A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.", "If all economists were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion."~ George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950)

They had their own Howard Dean:
    "Do you realize the responsibility I carry? I'm the only person standing between Nixon and the White House." ~ John F. Kennedy (1917-1963)
    "The Buck Stops Here.", "I never give them hell. I just tell the truth, and they think it is hell." ~ Harry S. Truman (1884-1972)
    "The best executive is one who has sense enough to pick good people to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.", "In any moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing."~ Theodore Roosevelt (1858 - 1919)
    "Let's talk sense to the American people. Let's tell them the truth, that there are not gains without pains." ~ Adlai Stevenson (1900-1965)
    "Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world. Unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves. All progress, therefore, depends on unreasonable people." ~ George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950)
    "A radical is a man with both feet firmly planted - in the air; a conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned to walk forward; . . .a liberal is a man who uses his legs and his hands at the behest - at the command - of his head.", "A government can be no better than the public opinion which sustains it."~ Franklin D. [Delano] Roosevelt (1882 - 1945)
    "Without enthusiasm, there is no progress in the world."~ Woodrow Wilson (1856 - 1924)

Even Milhouse has a few pieces of advice for Dean:
    "A man is not finished when he is defeated. He is finished when he quits.", "It is necessary for me to establish a winner image. Therefore, I have to beat somebody." ~ Richard M. Nixon (1913-1994)

And they faced the challenges that Dean has faced this month:
    "It is not enough to have every intelligent person in the country voting for me. I need a majority." ~ Adlai Stevenson (1900-1965)
    "Politics has become so expensive that it takes a lot of money to even be defeated." ~ Will Rogers (1879 - 1935)

The battle for the presidency essentially comes down to the battle within ourselves between hope and fear. In retrospect I think that in November hope always wins. Howard Dean gives us hope that our future can be better. He will be our next President.
Just need to get this off my chest...

I supported Howard Dean before I ever heard of a blog, Joe Trippi, or Zephyr Teachout.

I supported Howard Dean because I heard Howard Dean speak, and it was first Democrat I'd heard in a long while who acted as if the Democratic party was an opposition party.

I support Howard Dean because he's the only man in the race who can say he's made it easier for kids w/out health insurance to live.

I support Howard Dean because he approved civil unions when it could have cost him his career, and his life.

I support Howard Dean because this deficit needs to get cleaned up now or our kids will have to do it.

I support Howard Dean because he started "Success by Six", a program that not only cut down on child abuse, but in the long term will save money on prisons and drug abuse centers. You hear that, Republicans, a government program that's effective AND efficient. Shove that up your collective asses, THAT's how you're supposed to run government.

I could ramble on like this for a long time, but with everyone laughing at Deanies now because the campaign's running out of money, I say fuck that, I gave them money so Howard Dean could be president.

And if he needs any more of my goddamn money, he can have it.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Recovery Efforts

Nevsky thinks that I'm not worried enough. But I'm not panicked and worried about the house falling down because the house already fell down. It fell down when the Patriot Act was passed. It fell when the Congress gave our cowboy/frat boy President carte blanche to start war. It fell when our Congress, our elected officials whose SOLE job is to work in our best interests as a people, started passing bills that had names in direct opposition of what they actually do - such as "No Child Left Behind". An unfunded mandate is useless to me. Worse yet, it is useless to the children of America and that means the future of America.

A hurricane of bad policies and politics has ripped our country apart. What we need to do now is grimly determine who will work on the recovery effort. We aren't who we were as a nation, so now we have to determine who we will be. That is the criteria I use when I look at the candidates to oppose George W. Bush.

Kerry is considered the current frontrunner because of his wins in Iowa and New Hampshire. As well as suffering from a charm deficit (Nevsky's brother is right - Lurch, but without all the charm), Kerry was also a of very little use as a Senator. He was neither a strong leader or a good follower. (Sorry, but a good politician is either one or the other and a great politician is both.) I would love to see Kerry in charge of the Veterans Administration - it is in dire need of help and he has a strong passion for the work. I would hate to see him as President. As Nevsky just wandered over and pointed out, he comes off as FrankenKerry. He has all of the same things going against him that Al Gore did, but without any of the benefits. Kerry will not be able to lead our national recovery effort.

Lieberman is in last place of the 'serious' candidates right now, and for good reason. Lieberman excels at negotiation, compromise, and getting along with Republicans. Lieberman will not be able to lead our national recovery effort.

Clark came late to the party and is now only hanging out with people he thinks will like him. People who worked with him either loved him or hated him, a classic profile for a brown-nosing Golden Boy. Being an approval seeker myself, I don't want one in the White House. Tough decisions are hard enough to make without secretly wondering how everyone else feels about it. If he won the Presidency I would entirely expect him to bound up to the stage and say, "You like me! You really LIKE me!" As far as military cred is concerned, I like Kerry's better. Clark will not be able to lead our national recovery effort.

Edwards seems earnest enough. Did he mention that he dad worked in a mill....? I wouldn't be bothered by an earnest President with populist tendencies. I like most of his voting record and stated views, especially on education when he pointed out, "The president continues to tout private school vouchers. I oppose them because they divert resources and energy from reform and divert students into the only schools that don't have to meet high standards." His youth bothers me a bit. Would the UN put him at the kiddie table? But the pace of the campaign seems to be taking a toll on him so it's quite possible that he will look like an adult by November. I sincerely doubt that Edwards will be able to lead our national recovery effort.

Dean was the frontrunner right up until the voting started. I still believe that when the dust settles in November Dean will be the last man standing. You may not agree with Dean, but you have to respect him. Reviewing his record he proves to be both a strong leader and a good follower - and is judicious in his use of both talents. I find him to be charming and intelligent. He's trying very hard to get people to understand the relationship between taxes and programs - something I've been trying to do for years but have never seen a politician do before. Dean doesn't get along with Republicans but he is willing to handwrite a note of apology if, in his own opinion, he has tripped over disagreement and into insult. He doesn't worry overly much about what other people think because he trusts his instincts and his own mind. (He's like Captain Kirk, but without the Orion slavebabes.) He's a top-shelf manager, has infectious enthusiasm, and has been the only candidate to change the landscape of future elections with his campaign. He has managed to give hope for a brighter future along with a dose of pragmatic counseling. Dean is already leading our national recovery effort. Now all we have to do is move him into the White House.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

It's disappointing.

As of now, about 10:15 pm, Kerry is beating Dean 38-26, and though the numbers might narrow a tad, a Dean nomination is becoming less and less likely.

I'm not giving up on him. I'm going to work for him here in Virginia right up through to the primary on Feb. 10.

But right now, I'm just wondering for the life of me how a guy who has been nothing but a success politically, a guy whose policies seem like a common-sense centrist's wet dream, a guy that can engage people intelligently and charmingly, a frickin' Democrat who got people to open their wallets and their hearts to the political process for the first time in years, is losing to a guy who makes me think "fire BAD!!!!"

If it turns out to be Kerry, I hope someday someone writes a book about what happened to the Dean campaign, because right now, I just can't figure it out.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Oooooooh, my stomach hurts.

I just can't take the excitement before the day of the NH primary. Recent polls from both Zogby and SUSA have my man, Howard Dean, within 5 points of John "uuuuuuuuuh, friennnnnnnnd" Kerry and closing in. But the Iowa burn has left me shaken and unlike my colleague, CmdrSue, who feels that Howard will pull it out eventually in a 50-state contest, I'm fearing that anything less than a convincing second means the Doctor is toast.

I recently did some time at a Dean table down here in Virginia and was amazed by the positive response; people clamoring to vote for Dean, lots of bumper stickers given away, even those not supporting him saying he was getting hosed by the media. C'mon, people! Do you really want to deal w/Kerry for the next 6 months? My biggest fear is Kerry's going to seal the deal and become the Democratic nominee, only for voters to discover he's (as my brother humorously put it) "Lurch without the charm" just in time for Dubya to sober up and win the election.

We need Dean because he's the best shot we got to beat Bush. Simple as that. I just hope my stomach lining can take it.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

"Why, God, why?"

Some things make me lie down on the floor, stare at the ceiling, and say, "Why, God, why?" Surprisingly, the Iowa results didn't do that. Goes back to the old adage about battles and wars, I guess. (Dean and I are both Scorpios. It's all about the long range plan...) So what can make me contemplate the ceiling tiles in abject misery? Things like the email I got from the Democratic National Committee this morning.

    This week, the Boston Globe reported that Republican staffers on the Senate Judiciary Committee repeatedly accessed computer files belonging to Democratic members over the course of the year, stealing strategic memos and leaking them to conservative media outlets.

    Republicans immediately jumped on the defensive, blaming the computer glitch that allowed them to access the files. That's like a burglar blaming an unlocked door when he robs your house!

A few quotes that I think express my reaction:

    "Hegel was right when he said thatwe learn from history that
    man can never learn anything from history."
    ~George Bernard Shaw

    ~Jon Stewart

Everything old is new again. Last time the courage of the owner and staff of the Washington Post brought Watergate down around the ears of the Nixon administration. Who will be brave this time?

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Read this and cry.

I swear, if I didn't find this on the White House webpage I would have thought I was reading the goddamn Onion.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

In the end, WE let Howard Dean down...

I've been laying underneath my desk in the fetal position after Howard Dean's crash-and-burn in Iowa for a couple of days, I was shocked and stunned. Then I read Tom Schaller's excellent post-Iowa analysis in the Daily Kos and a few things became clear to me. Although Howard Dean praised his organization in Iowa yesterday in NPR, the volunteers that went to help in the state were really unprepared for the brutal backroom dealings that are the nature of the caucus. It reminded me of last month's Meetup; a person leading a group to Iowa was excited about "watching" the caucus as it took place. Watching it. We should have had people down there working IN the caucus meetings trying to convince the supporters of non-viable candidates to come to Dean. Where was the union muscle? This was a caucus, not a freaking Phish concert! And had I had any inkling of what was going to go down I should have gotten my smug ass out of my computer room and helped.

Fine, fine. Ultimately, results are results. The Dean campaign has to take a good, long look at itself and what it did wrong, but Dean supporters (like myself) need to swallow a coupla spoonfuls of reality, take a deep breath, and get back to f***ing work.

I still believe Howard Dean is our best shot at getting Dubya out.

Oh, and Kerry? Good for him. He showed me he's a double-tough bastard who shouldn't be written off too lightly. But unless he's already made a deal with Pat Buchanan to run as a tandem unit, I still don't believe he can beat Bush head-to-head.

Monday, January 19, 2004


We got our BlogSpeak comments back and they are now hosted by HaloScan. Thanks to HaloScan for picking up the BlogSpeak users and keeping the archived comments. Very cool. Harry at BlogSpeak - we'll miss ya.

Friday, January 16, 2004

(I'm a geek, I am, I am, I am.)

ARIES (March 21 - April 19)
Star Wars Character : The Emperor
The Emperor has demonstrated his liking to inflict pain on people just
as people born under the sign Aries often do. He feels he is at the
center of the universe and he must be in control. He enjoys being a
leader and his aggression and quick-tempered attitude also helps him
with this.
TAURUS (April 20 - May 20)
Star Wars Character : Chewbacca
Chewbacca is a dependable creature but he can tend to be stubborn.
He likes material possessions and loves to win at games. He tends to
hate being bossed around or losing and he may succomb to his physical
strength when upset.
GEMINI (May 21 - June 20)
Star Wars Character : Ewok
Ewoks are playful little creatures as are Gemini's. They tend to be
extremely curious, craving knowledge but sometimes having short
attention spans. For the most part they are charming and lovable
beings but they can seem scattered and high-strung at times.
CANCER (June 21 - July 22)
Star Wars Character : Luke Skywalker
Luke seemed to be somewhat whiny sometimes but he eventually
developed the thick hard shell of a cancer. He is strong willed and
persistent to get what he wants. He never shys away from a fight at
the first sign of danger. Not to mention he began to master the element
of mind manipulation.
LEO (July 23 - Aug. 22)
Star Wars Character : Princess Leia
Leia adds a whole new meaning to high self-assurance which is
evident in Leos. She is a nurturing person with great physical
strength. Like many Leos she will see that her mission for good is
completed and she is very optimistic about the outcome.
VIRGO (Aug. 23 - Sept. 22)
Star Wars Character : C3P0
C3P0 shows his efficiency when working for a good caused but he
tends to be a little bit fussy when it comes to doing something out of
the ordinary. Like many Virgos he wants to stay out of the spotlight
and he does well at picking up minute details.
LIBRA (Sept. 23 - Oct. 22)
Star Wars Character : "Obi Wan" Kenobi
As always Obi Wan continues forward in his pursuit of justice and he is
determined to succeed. He conveys his art of persuasion through the
force. He displays his supreme intelligence and is very talented in
obtaining balance between himself and his surroundings.
SCORPIO (Oct. 23 - Nov. 21)
Star Wars Character : Han Solo
Han is a powerful character. He also tends to be possessive and lusty
which would explain Han's greedy nature. He feels threatened by Leia's
attempt to order him around which displays the disliking scorpios have
for people who try to control them. He is often prone to suspicion and
jealousy as seen in The Empire Strikes Back. However, his resiliance
and passion lead him to get what he wants.
SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22 - Dec. 21)
Star Wars Character : Yoda
Yoda is superbly wise and he has been known to spread this wisdom
widely. He seems to be impatient and pushy when people take his
teachings too lightly. As always his philosophical side always peeks
CAPRICORN (Dec. 22 - Jan. 19)
Star Wars Character : R2D2
R2's ambition and inexhaustible desire to reach their goals/destination.
He is a very loyal, sometimes going to great lengths to help someone
out. He is a very social unit winning the hearts of many with his cute
AQUARIUS (Jan. 20 - Feb. 18)
Star Wars Character : Darth Vader
Vader can be cruel and torment people who disagree with him but deep
down there is a peace-loving, friendly side to him. He has a knack for
inflicting pain on people and he uses his intellect during battle.
PISCES (Feb. 19 - Mar. 20)
Star Wars Character : Lando
Lando is the typical character with his head in the clouds. He is
self-sacrificing but may be too passive to stand up to Vader. He
became fairly pessimistic when put under pressure. He also poses as
a chameleon wanting to change his scenery on occasion.
Everybody Loves the Mouse (Especially Me)

In case you haven't been to the site yet, now is a great time to check out - they've revamped it. The war is on. Meanwhile, go out to Fast Company and vote Michael Eisner off the island in their poll.

Are we men or are we mice? We're mice, we're mice, we're mice!!!!! (The team chant for my fantasy football team, the 'Orlando Mousketeers'.)

Thursday, January 15, 2004

So What Are Ya Gonna Say About It?

Since my regular blog comment site is down I am trying a new one. Tell me how you feel about the new comments.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

If I Ran The Circus (That's What I Want)

Things really do get stuck in my head from time to time. Which, if you know me, is something of a surprise. I always say that I have a mind like a steel colander. Not quite awful, but well below the steel trap that I had in my youth. Some things that got stuck there over the years:

When I was in third grade I ran across a Dr. Seuss book I had never seen before, "If I Ran The Circus". I read it at school and LOVED it. I didn't see it again for years, but it was always stuck in the back of my head. To this day when people ask my opinion on a decision I start my answer with, "Well, if I ran the circus..." and think of that book. Last year I made a pilgrimage to the Children's section of Barnes and Nobles to make sure that it existed and I hadn't dreamed it. (I hadn't ever seen it again in 25 years!) Then this month my husband was unboxing some of his old toys and books that his dad cleaned out of the attic and there it was!!! I knew we were a match made in heaven. He had my book.

When I was 15 I lived briefly in Chapel Hill, NC. They had the coolest, kitschiest University radio station ever. I heard part of a song there once that I couldn't get out of my head for YEARS. Since I only caught part of it and this was pre-music-on-the-internet I had no hope of finding it. Then Adam Sandler put it in his movie soundtrack! The song is "Money (That's What I Want" by the Flying Lizards.

If Everything Old is New Again, Where Can I Get My Hip Replaced?

Working through the WWdN archives I ran across one of my favorite subjects - aging - in his post 'ain't this the life?'. Hmmm, maybe 'favorite' subjects is pushing it, but it is definitely something that is often on my mind. Why?

  • My favorite music is older than I was when I first heard it.

  • My favorite movies, tv shows, and games are 'ancient history' to teenagers.

  • When my mother was my age she had two tween boys and a squalling infant. I'm lucky I finally got around to getting married and buying a house last year.

  • My husband is as old as my step-father was when I met him. (Which at the time I assumed was a real adult, but turns out to only be 35.)

  • My peeps are starting to get 'conditions'. And, MAN, are they getting crotchety.

  • I was starting to key into this whole aging issue when I was around 27. I had always been keenly aware of my own mortality (at 14 I was already wondering what I could do to make my legacy - what I would leave behind to mark my passing), but I was also always the youngest of any group I was in. Part of my identity, I guess, was 'youngest'. By 27 I had covered enough road to have plenty of people behind me calling the 'youngest' spot no matter where I went.

    This mild fascination with the passage of time has mostly manifested at times like the following:

    Waiting in line for Star Wars tickets at the re-release. Friend says, "I totally remember seeing this in the theater back in 1977. It was SO cool. I think I saw it a hundred times!" Sue says, "Yeah, it seems like yesterday. But, you know, that was twenty years ago. Twenty years before that it was 1957. That seems mind boggling to me. When our parents took us to Star Wars they were our age, so they were standing in line thinking 1957 wasn't all that long ago... How can that be?" Friend, "That hurts my brain."

    Since I've been making those comments for about six years now you can imagine how my popularity has soared. My husband, however, refused to be shocked and awed by the passage of time. But he teaches college biology and got a first hand taste of how times change. While talking about animals in one lab he was really getting into his discussion and tossed off the comment, "So can you imagine wresting an animal like Jim from Wild Kingdom?!" Dead silence. "Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom?.... Marlin Perkins?...." Blank looks. The sound of a lonely cricket in the distance. "Or.... the Crocodile Hunter?" Wild enthusiasm from the crowd.

    But for all that I think that the rubber really met the road last month when I was talking to a young teen Lord of the Rings enthusiast and mentioned that Sean Astin had been in town back in 1991 and I had always regretted not getting his autograph. (Even more so his DAD's autograph - the uber cool John Astin had dinner at the table next to mine on my 21st birthday but I couldn't get up the guts to bug him.) I was about to try to commisserate with the girl that if only she had been here she could've gotten Sean's autograph. But shortly after 1991 left my lips I realized SHE HADN'T BEEN BORN YET. Shocking. Simply shocking.

    Monday, January 12, 2004

    I Finally Get It

    I started blogging because it seemed like the cool thing to do and I hoped that I had something to say. I both continued and stalled because I started to feel pressure over making my posts 'good enough'. As though the title of my blog were "The Great American Novel" instead of "Thoughts That Get Stuck In My Head".

    But today I'm unsettled and casting about for something to do with disquiet in my soul. It's the kind of day that when I was younger I would write letters to my best friend - my step-sister - because we were unlucky enough to live miles apart. (Yes, kids, this was back in the day before IMs and cell phones with unlimited plans and free long distance.) I was apparently very unsettled and disquieted because she has boxes of letters from those teen years. I also deluged Dwight Schultz with letters until I got an autographed picture. My letter writing became so significant over the summer of 1984 that I dubbed myself "The Great Letter Writing Bandit".

    Well, now we have IM and cell phones with free long distance and I'm even lucky enough that my step-sis moved within 30 minutes of me. But at times I am still unsettled and casting about for something to do with disquiet in my soul. Yearning to reach out and communicate in an earnest and truthful way. A way that, to me, is only achieved by writing in full sentences and using clever turns of phrase that keep me entertained.

    "Doh!" I said, slapping myself on the forehead. "THAT's what blogging is for!" Even now, as I'm typing this, I feel better. If I can use this forum to keep that monkey off my back - the overpowering need to communicate whether anyone likes it or not - then it will more than pay for itself. Wait a second, this is free....

    The Great Letter Writing Bandit is IN.

    Saturday, January 10, 2004

    Knock Me Over With a Phaser Set on Stun

    There have always been certain principles in my life - things like gravity, no white shoes after labor day, and Coke being better than Pepsi. One of the other things I had accepted as a given in my personal universe was that Wil Wheaton sort of, well... irritated the crap out of me. This wasn't just a celebrity thing - he was in our town doing a film in the early 90s. Some of his co-stars won the love and admiration of the locals, so we were by no means pre-disposed to hate all of Hollywood. But then a funny thing happened on the way to the market....

    You might remember that I'm a HUGE Disney fan. Ditto, maybe even times ten, on Star Trek. Classic Trek. (To quote Robert in Free Enterprise "I would never live in the 24th century! I f**ing HATE "The Next Generation". Only classic!" Well, maybe not quite that bad, but close.) I actually - no lie - got DRESSED UP for the last movie with Spock in it (1) because it was like an event for me. Back in the day it took me almost seven years to warm up to The Next Generation. Yeah, like it was going off the air and I was saying, "You know, this show isn't so bad." So ST:TNG stopped production, then faded from heavy syndication, and Wil Wheaton faded from my mind. Story became myth and myth became legend.

    Then he started a blog.

    Now, I don't know where he went or what he did or how everything worked out over the last ten years- but tonight I started reading his blog and I've got to say that the dude is cool. His stock rose a thousandfold with me. I was so impressed with his writing and thoughts and ideas that I dropped him an email even though I assumed it would never be read. Sometimes I just have to express my appreciation. I gave him the scope of my viewpoint so that he would know he had really changed my opinion of him. He wrote back. (2)  The dude is cool. Anyone who says otherwise has to deal with me.

    6/21/2010 Update:
    (1) Ok, so it wasn't the last movie with Spock in it. We just thought it was going to be. Based on this logic Spock may be immortal. But the point is I put on a little black dress, heels, and pearls. *ubergeek*
    (2) Wil included his now famous (but not yet at that point) tag line about not being a dick.

    Tuesday, January 6, 2004

    Another New Word

    Awhile back I shared that my vocabulary is increasing because of circumstances that are new in my life but apparently have affected the generations before me. That's why there are already words for them. Well, now in addition to kakistocracy and antinomian I have gerrymander. What is that, you say? Let us turn again to It means "To divide (a geographic area) into voting districts so as to give unfair advantage to one party in elections." Surely you know where this is going. Straight to Texas. The steamroller of the Grand Old Party has struck again.

    In case you would like to know the origin of gerrymander, tells us: A gerrymander sounds like a strange political beast, which it is, considered from a historical perspective. This beast was named by combining the word salamander, a small lizardlike amphibian, with the last name of Elbridge Gerry, a former governor of Massachusettsa state noted for its varied, often colorful political fauna. Gerry (whose name, incidentally, was pronounced with a hard g, though gerrymander is now commonly pronounced with a soft g) was immortalized in this word because an election district created by members of his party in 1812 looked like a salamander. According to one version of gerrymander's coining, the shape of the district attracted the eye of the painter Gilbert Stuart, who noticed it on a map in a newspaper editor's office. Stuart decorated the outline of the district with a head, wings, and claws and then said to the editor, That will do for a salamander! Gerrymander! came the reply. The word is first recorded in April 1812 in reference to the creature or its caricature, but it soon came to mean not only the action of shaping a district to gain political advantage but also any representative elected from such a district by that method. Within the same year gerrymander was also recorded as a verb.

    Everything old is new again. And I'm not sure I like it.