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Solemnly Swearing

Those watching the Presidential inauguration (which includes everybody in the known universe, except perhaps a few East Texans who failed to pay their cable bill) may have noticed a dicey moment between President Barack Obama and Chief Justice John Roberts, when Roberts administered the oath of office.

Interestingly, Obama is the first President in history who, while in the U.S. Senate, voted against the confirmation of the Chief Justice who eventually administered his oath. Roberts was also opposed by Vice President Biden.

The inaugural awkwardness passed quickly, so as a public service, Letters From Texas Worldwide Headquarters, C-Span Division, presents the full transcript of the exchange:

Roberts: Are you prepared to take the oath, Senator?

Obama: I am.

Roberts: I, Barack Hussein Obama…

Obama (interrupting): I, Barack…

Roberts: …do solemnly swear…

Obama: I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear…

Roberts: that I will execute the office of President of the United States faithfully…

Obama: …that I will execute…

Roberts: …faithfully the office of President of the United States…

Obama: Wait a damn minute, isn’t it supposed to be “faithfully execute?”

Roberts: With all due respect, Mr. President, I’m the judge here. Just repeat what I say.

Obama: Why would I do that? I didn’t even vote for your confirmation. If I had my way, you’d be teaching first year law in some hell-hole backwater unaccredited law school in the Bahamas. And another thing – couldn’t you have invested in that ‘Hair Club for Men’ stuff before gracing my stage with your big fat bald spot?

Roberts: Look you skinny little twit, lets just get through this, shall we? And by the way, you might be the President after today, but my court has the last say on everything, and we’ll be weighing in on your cute little so-called “pro-choice” crap, buster!

Obama: Says you, mo-fo, but just try it and I’ll expand the size of the court, which a Democratic Congress and I can do whether you like it or not, since the Constitution doesn’t say how big the court has to be. And by the time I get through with you, you won’t be able to find that other jackass Scalia in the crowd!

Roberts: Look, now you made Michelle drop the Lincoln bible!

Obama: How the hell would you know it’s a bible, you apparently can’t even read an oath, one sentence at a time!

Roberts: You little snit, how’s about I rule that it’s constitutional for me to kick your ass?

Obama: You couldn’t even kick John Paul Stevens’ ass, and that’s if he spotted you the first 5 swings. And he’s older than dirt!

We’re off to a great start, don’t you think?

Update: The New York Post has the story under the best headline.

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Well, for one thing…

…January 20th is going to be one hell of a bad-ass “take your daughters to work” day.

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The major Democrats running against each other for President earlier this year all seem to be doing quite well. Obviously, Barack Obama will become President on January 20th. So far, we know that Joe Biden will be the Vice President. Hillary Clinton will be the new Secretary of State. Bill Richardson is slated to become the next Commerce Secretary.

But what of John Edwards? Letters from Texas Worldwide Headquarters, Tabloid Sleaze Division, can now reveal exclusively that even John Edwards has employment opportunities available to him.

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Obama is Toast!

For those Republicans among you who had hoped that Obama would be toast, now he is.

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Things are getting WAY too Hope-y and Yes-We-Can-y around here

Elections are wondrous things. It’s a special time of hope, during which the dreams of approximately 49 percent of the entire voting age population of the United States of America are completely crushed.

Election time is also a time of reflection. Mostly, I’m reflecting about what the hell I’m going to do with these useless freakin’ pictures of me with John Edwards, which I threw into the back of my closet a few months back.

And elections are a time to turn your back on that which has passed, and instead focus on the promise of the future. Which in many cases consists of election recounts and lawyer-dominated election result challenges, very ugly speakership fights, and the impending doom of 5 months worth of the legislative session.

I just thought I’d share, because there seems to be a distinct lack of cynicism in the air today. And frankly, we just can’t have that.

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The picture that personifies the day

Alfred Johnson, captured in a moment of election day exuberance, as he walked to school this morning in our East Austin neighborhood.

Hope indeed.

(thanks to Dolly Ensey for sending this in!)

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How to Watch a Presidential Election Unfold on Election Night

As a public service to you, the crap-reading public, Letters From Texas Worldwide Headquarters, Electoral College Division, proudly presents these tips for watching Presidential election returns come in.

First, and above all, do not go through this process completely sober. McCain and Obama aren’t, why should you? Drink heavily – some of you are about to be very disappointed, and will need to drown your sorrows. Most of you will be ecstatically happy, and you’ll want to be in a celebratory mood. Either way, bust out the booze.

Now onto the meat of the issue.

The networks will call various states for one of the candidates as soon as they can. If exit polling plows a clear enough mathematical path, they’ll do so immediately after the last polls close in a state. Therefore, the poll closing schedule becomes crucial. (all the following times are in Central Time – local to most of Texas)

6 p.m. Central Time
Polls close in Georgia, Indiana, and Virginia. McCain should carry Georgia. If he doesn’t, it could be early indication of a very bad night for Republicans. Virginia is leaning Obama, barely. If Obama takes it by more than a point or two, watch out – it could indicate that Obama has also carried North Carolina. If Obama fails to carry Virginia, it could be an early indication that you’re staying up later than you thought – slow down on your drinking. If Obama is ahead in Indiana, which has been voting Republican in past Presidential elections, that’s an early and bad canary-in-the-mineshaft sign for McCain – pick up the pace on your drinking.

6:30 p.m. Central Time
Polls close in Ohio, North Carolina, and West Virginia. If Ohio and North Carolina split, it might be a longer night. If Obama carries both, down another drink quickly, you probably won’t be up very late. You might also glance at West Virginia, which McCain should carry. If he doesn’t, he’s in deep trouble.

7:00 p.m. Central Time
The last polls close in the Florida panhandle, and in New Hampshire, Missouri, and Pennsylvania. In the off-chance that McCain wins New Hampshire, and doesn’t lose Florida, Obama supporters are in for a long night, slow down on the drinking. On the other hand, if Obama carries Missouri, especially by more than a squeak, order your next round with a little less water and a little more scotch.

Also, please note that contrary to popular belief, the last polls in Texas do not close at 7 p.m., they close at 8 because El Paso is in the Mountain Time Zone. However, sometimes the networks jump the gun, so they may call Texas for McCain at 7 instead of 8. Because, sheesh, it’s just El Paso.

8 p.m. Central Time
By now most results from the East Coast and Midwest will be pouring in. If all the likely blue states in those regions, plus Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Florida can now be called for Obama, you can probably safely call the entire race for Obama. But if Obama loses Florida, he’ll need Ohio more urgently. If he loses that too, then you better drink heavily and pray for New Mexico, Colorado, and Nevada. New Mexico and Colorado’s polls also close now, but you might need to wait a while for either of those states to be called, especially New Mexico. Drink up. You might also glance at Arizona now, because their polls close as well. McCain should win it, but if he doesn’t, it will be a total embarrassment for him.

9 p.m. Central Time
Polls close in Nevada and Iowa. You’re trying to pay attention to Nevada, but you’re drunk. McCain is still holding out desperate hope that he might carry Iowa despite his poor showing in the polls, because he needs it. He won’t carry it, but pay attention to the point spread if by now the electoral vote count is still close – it might indicate something about left coast states. I frankly doubt it, but I’m trying to give you people something to do while you drink.

10 p.m. Central Time
Polls close in California, which Obama will carry, and if he hasn’t already won, that state’s mighty 55 electoral votes will officially carry him over the top, exceeding 270. You’re probably already passed out, and even if you’re not, you won’t remember it later. Also, try to keep the drunk text messages to a minimum.

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Letters From Texas “Biggest Baddest Politically Savvy Mo-Fo In Texas” Contest!

Winners announced

Think you know what’s going on in the race for President? Well talk’s cheap, bucko. We’re having a contest!

Email me with your best guess for how many electoral votes Obama will get, and the winner not only gets a free t-shirt of his or her choice from, but will also be enthusiastically bragged about on this website as The biggest baddest politically savvy mo-fo in Texas, 2008 Edition. Now how the hell can you beat that with a stick, like you do your cat?

Personally, I think Obama is heading for 319 electoral votes, but I’ll change my mind 12 times between now and election day. What about you? And, oh yeah, we’re not letting you wait until the last minute either. You have to enter by Halloween, because one never knows what surprises await on the final weekend before election day.

CNN’s electoral vote calculator map is a helpful tool to help you work out the math.

Here’s the deal: you’re considered entered in the contest if you email me by midnight, October 31st, with your estimate of how many electoral votes Obama will get. In case of multiple entries by the same person, only the last entry will count (in other words, you’re allowed to change your mind, until the deadline)

Why email? Because it wouldn’t be fair for the late entries to see what the earlier entries have guessed. Also, some people might not want to out themselves prior to the election.

All entries which correctly guess the number of electoral votes Obama receives (or ties for closest) will be enthusiastically bragged about on this website as the official Letters From Texas Worldwide Headquarters Biggest Baddest Politically Savvy Mo-Fo In Texas. And one will get a free t-shirt of his or her choice (in case of a tie, a drawing will be held to choose the t-shirt winner).

Feel free to comment, but remember that you’re not entered until I get your email. Good luck!

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Special note to the remaining “undecided” voters of America

People. Seriously. I keep seeing you in the polls. I know some of you just don’t want to tell a pollster who you’ll vote for, so you claim to remain undecided. Others of you simply don’t want to admit that you’re not voting at all, but indeed you live under a rock, never intended to vote, and have paid no attention. Whatever – I salute you. This is not addressed to any of you people.

But, for those of you who truly do intend to cast a ballot by the time the polls close on November 4th, but who remain undecided in the Presidential race: WTF are you thinking?

This issues have never been more clear. The distinctions between the candidates could not be more stark. The choices as to what direction you would most want the country to go are obvious.

So whats say you just make up your little bitty minds, hmmmmm? Meanwhile, here’s the impression the rest of us have of you at the moment.

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Time to put this election to bed

Clearly, the Obama supporter was wrong, and he’ll be fined for it.

But the McCain supporter is even worse off – his candidate is well represented, both on a yard sign and in the back of his truck .

(for a guy who claims to have hated McCain, does it occur to you that putting the stuff in “small bags” was kind of polite? Yeah, me too.)

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Photo caption contest

Put your entry for most absurd caption in the comments section regarding this special moment, which happened when McCain felt uncharacteristically frisky immediately after the final Presidential debate.

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Now we know why they’re doing so well in the polls: their razor-sharp focus on the important issues of our time.

In related news, I thought a short review of several pictures McCain supporters are spreading around the web might be relevant. Please note that these are the tamest ones – I found many too offensive to post.

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Presidential Debate Preview

For the second-to-last Presidential debate, I wrote this in my debate preview:

John McCain is down in the polls, and sinking farther every day. The shine is off his running mate, states previously considered “safe” for Republicans are suddenly toss-ups, and McCain desperately needs a game-changer.

He won’t get it.

Another eight days have passed, and McCain’s electoral map hole is even deeper. The economy has dealt him nothing but bad cards, and yet to win the election McCain must run the table in key states.

Remember traditional key states? They include Ohio (Obama up 3.4%), Pennsylvania (Obama up 13.4), Florida (Obama up 5), Nevada (Obama up 3), New Mexico (Obama up 7.3), Colorado (Obama up 5.2), Wisconsin (Obama up 10.4), and Michigan (where McCain pulled his campaign out altogether, and Obama is up double digits).

The electoral map is full of toss-up states which should be solid Republican states. In fact, Obama is currently leading in no fewer than 9 states which George Bush carried in 2004.

If McCain doesn’t change the game dramatically, he will lose the election in a land-slide. Tonight is his last best opportunity. The question now, as it was eight days ago, is can he change the game?

The answer is still no.

The remaining question for debate-watchers is, will McCain even try? I believe he will.

McCain’s last big choice will be settled tonight. Will he stay above the fray, remain “Presidential,” only delivering soft blows to Obama tonight while attempting to explain what kind of President he would be? Or will McCain abandon his years-long “good guy” persona, and instead take over as chief Republican pit bull, and attempt to deliver a body blow to Obama which will cause voters to take a second look at their options?

Make no mistake – neither option is a winner for McCain. If he doesn’t attack hard, he will lose. Swing voters who currently seem to have few remaining doubts about Obama will have no reason to begin doubting. If he does attack hard, while he may solidify the same Republican-leaning voters who came home after the Palin V.P. choice was named, McCain will cut himself off from the very swing voters he needs to even compete in this election.

Down-ballot Republicans nation-wide need McCain to attack. They need the Republican faithful to come home and vote for them. The cost to McCain beyond this election, however, would be great. McCain invested years in his “above the partisan fray” branding, and if he attacks tonight, he will have abandoned all hope to maintain it.

Still, I think McCain would rather leave it all out on the field than concede, so I think he will attack. If he doesn’t, he would be ignoring the advice of campaign consultants who hate to lose and detest leaving cards un-played, and of the Republican candidate class which desperately needs him to round up their base and deliver it. If I’m wrong and he doesn’t attack, it will only be because he has decided for himself that he can lose in a landslide with honor, because history will blame George W. Bush, not McCain, for destroying the Republican brand (which I personally believe is the wise choice, and the accurate historical prediction).

If he does decide to attack, we’ll know it in the first 5 minutes of the show. Look for McCain to imply that Obama is trying to steal the election (key word: ACORN). Look for McCain to imply that Obama hates America (key word: Ayers).

Further complicating things for McCain is that moderator Bob Schieffer is bound to be far less passive than previous debate moderators Jim Lehrer, Tom Brokaw, and V.P. debate moderator Gwen Ifill.

The greatest difficulty of all for John McCain is in controlling John McCain. I believe the biggest under-reported story from the second debate was that McCain almost lost control. One could see it in his face during the “that one!” moment. You could sense the frustration and tension in him throughout the second half of the show, and one could certainly sense it as he ignored Obama’s offered hand-shake following the debate, and as he and Cindy McCain left the set immediately thereafter, while the Obamas stayed for 15 more minutes, signing autographs and taking pictures with audience-members. If McCain isn’t very careful, he could have a campaign-ending melt-down.

Meanwhile, against this backdrop of seemingly-insurmountable difficulty for McCain, all Obama must do is avoid major gaffes and stave off the McCain-introduced notion that Obama is a risky and untested choice.

Sound familiar? It didn’t work for the Democratic field in the primaries either.


Post debate update: McCain did indeed attack attack attack, and sure enough, it didn’t work work work. The overnight CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll results:

Who won?
Obama: 58%
McCain: 31

Favorable rating:
Obama: 66% (up 3)
McCain: 49% (down 2)

Who was better on the economy?
Obama: 59
McCain: 35

Who was better on taxes?
Obama: 56
McCain: 41

Who seemed more like a typical politician?
Obama: 35
McCain: 54

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Tonight’s debate preview – updated

John McCain is down in the polls, and sinking farther every day. The shine is off his running mate, states previously considered “safe” for Republicans are suddenly toss-ups, and McCain desperately needs a game-changer.

He won’t get it.

If he goes on the attack tonight against Obama, he will fail miserably, because he’s just not that good at it.

If he fails to go on the attack tonight against Obama, he’ll look weak and lost, and his campaign will not get the game-changing event they desperately need.

McCain’s chief problem at this point is that his campaign must wait for Obama or his campaign to make a serious misstep, which they plan to seize upon. The trouble is, there is a term for candidates who depend on events not in their control to win: losers.

McCain’s camp is praying for Obama to stumble tonight – by looking arrogant or aloof, by making a gigantic gaffe, or by frequently looking at his watch and drooling on himself during the debate. But Obama didn’t get where he is by making stupid mistakes, and the odds of him making one tonight serious enough to shift the narrative are slim to none.

Look for this debate to be boring as all get-out (if McCain can’t bring himself to slime Obama), or for the debate to be in future political science textbooks on what desperate candidates should avoid doing in order to avoid looking desperate (if McCain slimes Obama).

But, don’t look for Obama to lose ground. He won’t.


Post-debate update: the CNN/Opinion Research Corp. national poll of viewers following the debate found the following:

Who did the best job?
Obama 54
McCain 30

Favorable opinion:
Obama 64 (up 4 points from before debate)
McCain 51 (unchanged from before debate)

Stronger leader:
Obama 54
McCain 43

More likeable (AKA, the “hey you kids! Get off my lawn!” index):
Obama 65
McCain 28

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Obama: up with this crap I will not put!

Aaaaaand ain’t it strange that nobody objected when John McCain said the same thing a while back…thusly:

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