Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Book Report - Les Miserables

[The following account is fiction. Any similarities to real people are purely coincidental.]

I guess it really hit me when I told my sister Shirley that I wanted to go to France. She didn't understand that at all. 

"I just don't even have a desire to go anywhere else. Why...all there is to see in Europe or Asia are some crumbly old buildings that smell like dirty socks or moldy cheese. Can you imagine having to raise a family out there among all those non-Mormons?"

This came from someone who had never gone farther from home than southern Idaho. I suppose her visit there left a nasty taste in her mouth for the rest of the outside world...all those potato fields can be hard on almost anyone. I tried to convince her that Twin Falls was probably not the best place from which to judge the rest of creation.

"If you've seen one place out there you've seen them all and you're better off not seeing them anyway and staying put where your children can grow up with other children of their own faith. Besides don't you remember what happened to Mac Norton last year when he went off to New York to work for the summer?" added Shirley.

"No, can't say as I remember that anything happened to Mac", I replied.

"Well, he came back with that awful looking beard and wore sandals to church until the Bishop talked to him about how he was having the wrong kind of influence on the young boys."

I didn't say it to Shirley, but I really liked Mac's beard and I was sorry he'd shaved it off. That's not the main point here though. The point is that Shirley was just saying what the rest of the ward members would have said. They were good people, in fact they were exceptionally good people, but they didn't have the same vision of the world that I did. I just knew it. I was the only one that really understood the world. I wanted to go places and see different people; I wanted to walk where Shakespeare and Dickens had walked; I wanted to climb the tower of London and walk through the halls of Notre Dame; I wanted to see the view from the top of the Great Wall and gaze out across Athens from the Parthenon. And then I wanted to write about the places and people I had seen.

It would be a great novel, one that would touch the lives of millions of people - and, of course, sell a million copies. I would use the money made from the book for charitable causes, since it's a sin to daydream about getting rich unless you plan to use the money for charity. Yes, I would write a great novel, win the Nobel Prize and maybe the Pulitzer Prize as well and then give it all to the poor. That's what Jean Valjean would have done.

You know Jean Valjean...I'm sure I've told you about him before. this going to help me with my book report?

Of course, just hang with me for a couple minutes here son. Let's see, where was I...oh yes, Les Miserables.

No book...and I had read quite a few for an almost-sixteen year book had ever, nor do I think another will ever, affect me as deeply as Les Miserables. I read it as an assignment in English class. We had to choose a book from a list of 20 or 30 approved books given to us by Mr. Mohr. Almost everyone in class did the same thing; we went to the library, looked at all of the books to see how many pages they had, and then picked the book with the fewest pages. I think I picked out The Old Man and the Sea and figured I could read it over lunch one day. No one even thought of trying a book with more than 150 pages...well almost no one. I wasn't going to be different, but then Darcie made some rude remark to me in French class like:"Oh! Is that your book for English? I'm sorry, I thought it was my bookmark."

I couldn't think of a really appropriate response because she was reading a book with at least 500 pages and because I always got a little flustered around Darcie, but I made a lame attempt anyway.

"Oh, this is just my warm-up book. I plan to read a couple more books on the list as well. I hope you haven't bitten off too much with that book of yours, Darcie. You'll have to read faster than you usually do to finish it before graduation two years from now."

You really said that dad?

Yeah, not one of those really snappy comebacks that I was known for around school, but, nonetheless, it had an effect.

Darcie gave me a squishy look and ignored me for the rest of the class. I went back to the library the next day and checked out the longest book on the list - Les Miserables – 1,259 pages. I carried it around school for a couple of weeks just to leave a deep impression on all those who were reading The Old Man and the Sea and to make sure Darcie saw it. I didn't really intend to read the monster, it was just for effect. But then Mr. Mohr saw me with it in class one day and he made me come to the front of the class with the book. It was horrible!

He smiled and held the book high for everyone to see and said: "Class, I have been noticing the books that all of you have chosen to read this term. Brian is the only one who has the drive and courage to tackle a book of this magnitude. I wish you would all be a bit more adventurous, for this is truly a great book. Thank you, Brian. You may return to your seat."

That was when I realized how clueless teachers are. I hope I never do something like that to you son. It was embarrassing, humiliating, and degrading! I'm sure he meant well, but teachers simply have no brains at all. They drag you out in front of everyone else and make you out to be a complete idiot under the pretence of giving you a compliment.

I don't think I would have minded it too much, dad.

Well, just wait a couple years and you'll understand. Anyway...

When I returned to my seat I couldn't help but notice the cheesy grin on Darcie's face. She knew I had no intention of reading that book. I went home that night a bit dejected and feeling very much like the title of the book. I knew I would have to read Les Miserables now and I really was miserable as I opened the book and began to read. I didn't realize that no one ever reads the whole thing. What they do is go and find one of the many shortened, condensed versions. Why, if I had only looked, my mother (your grandmother) had the Reader's Digest condensed version sitting right on the shelf at home, all 250 pages of it. Well, I never knew about them and I'm glad I didn't. I read every one of the 1,259 pages, and by the time I reached the scene where the Bishop gives Jean Valjean the candlesticks and redeems his soul, I was lost in a magical world from which I would only surface occasionally for food and sleep. I couldn't think of anything else for weeks even after I closed the last page. I couldn't even think about Darcie, although she was all I had been thinking about before. I felt like it was my book, my personal treasure that no one else would ever quite understand it. I was glad that all the rest of the class had not read this great book. They didn't deserve to be a part of this new world that now was mine.

I read it again before our assignment was due and wrote a report that got me the A grade I wanted, but I didn't really care about the grade. And I certainly didn't want to talk about the report or the grade with anyone, like I usually would have. I couldn't. It was too personal…too sacred almost. But, of course, Darcie couldn't let it slide.

"What's the matter Brian?"

She was trying to get a peek at my paper. And she was using that sweet sarcastic voice that normally would have had me primed for a sarcastic comeback.

"Oh, dear. Did wittle Bri-Bri not get the highest grade in the class? That is so tragic."

She puckered her lips up into a pout, but I just sat there, my eyes gazing off into space. How could she not understand? It was all so clear to me now. I was Marius...and Darcie...she was Cosette. I'd guess I'd really known it for a long time, but before reading Les Miserables I'd ignored it. I couldn't ignore it anymore.

Darcie leaned closer over my desk and grabbed for my report, but as she did it her long dark hair brushed against my arm. I don't really know what came over me then...everything happened so fast that it's kind of a blur in my memory...but as she grabbed for the report, the next thing I remember is that I had pulled her face next to mine and kissed her. But the best part was that she was kissing me back!

So, you may or may not believe me, but if I hadn't read Les Miserables I would have never kissed your mother. And if we hadn't kissed, you wouldn't be here today.

But dad, I'm only in second grade...Les Miserables isn't on my reading list. I've got to choose between Rah Rah Radishes, Junie B. Jones, and Splat the Cat.

I see...perhaps you should go ask your mother. Just don't tell her about the whole Les Miz thing. Her version's a little different than mine.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Politicians Love a Parade

I hope you will all be watching for the "Vote for Bart" campaign in Monday's 24th-of-July parade. I don't know yet if we will actually make it into the parade, but the campaign staff is hopeful. We do have a few minor problems to hurdle first, however. The first problem is that we've had some trouble lining up a limo. The last I heard, we had been offered an old lime-green VW bug with pink flowers on the doors...hardly appropriate for a distinguished politician such as myself.

But the parade...ah, now every politician loves a parade, and I am no exception. Thousands of voters lining the streets just waiting to shake your hand...with their hand that probably hasn't been washed in a week or perhaps was just used to wipe their nose, or who knows what else.

And then there's the babies. You have to kiss the babies, I suppose. Not that I don't love babies, you understand, it's just the thought of what else has been touching those little cheeks...or what might still be hanging from their little noses.

Oh...and I forgot the horsey know what I mean. I just don't know what I would do if I got stuck behind a bunch of horses. Yes, they do try to clean it up...those little clowns following the horses and scooping it all up...but there is always some residue. And if the parade is moving too fast they just can't get it all.

Well perhaps, since we can't get the limo, we...and I hate to disappoint those of you who were counting on seeing me in the parade...we may not make it this year. But feel free to pass out some "Vote for Bart" fliers if you do go.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Election Endorsements

[We are at the headquarters of the "Vote for Bart" presidential campaign, where the professor has promised us an update on the progress of the campaign.]

Dear Friends and Supporters...It's wonderful to have a chance to visit with you again and reassure you that things are moving our way out on the campaign trail. It is an intense political campaign that you and I have undertaken, and I want you to know that I am deeply committed and totally devoted to this effort. I am spending at least five minutes every day (well, maybe it's every other day) to the "Vote for Bart" campaign and, this intensive effort is paying off...the campaign is gaining a lot of momentum. Why only this week we managed to pull in endorsements from several big names: the King of Norway, for example, along with the Mayors of Buffalo and Atlanta. I don't think any other candidate can match that!

What? moment please, my committee wants a word with me...

It seems that the committee members feel that it might be important to mention that I was talking about Mr. Orville King who lives in Norway, Maine...I tried to explain that no one really cares which King of Norway it is...he is, after all a King and he lives in Norway. That is the absolute truth. And we think it is just possible that he may have endorsed me along with, as I previously mentioned, those great leaders of two of this nations most important cities.

What?...not again! One moment...I really must do something about this committee.

Okay...well, here it is. Apparently I was not completely clear about the mayors of Buffalo and Atlanta either. Although it is just a minor point, I should perhaps have noted that I was talking about Buffalo, South Carolina (pop. 1,569) and Atlanta, Illinois (pop. 1,616). I am sure that none of you would have mistaken for one minute my earlier remarks and thought that I was talking about Buffalo, New York and Atlanta, Georgia. There are some politicians who might try to mislead with statements like that, but you can be absolutely, 110% sure that I will never stoop to such tactics. Why only the other day, I was mentioning this very problem to my good friend and supporter Robert Downey, Jr. He agreed...

What? Please don't keep interrupting me...okay, so he's not exactly my, I haven't met him in person. But I am certain he would support our campaign...I mean, I did go to see Iron Man three times...and I bought the DVD. And what about the fact that I also went to Sherlock Holmes twice? Don't you think he'd take that into consideration? Don't you...

[It seems like this might be a good point to break off our interview with Professor Bart this week. Be sure to come back again for more updates as the "Vote for Bart" election campaign rolls across America.]

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Richard’s Forest – A Tale of Urth

You can click the map below to see a larger version.

Mr. Diggley Poppin, an older gentleman with prickly looking gray hair, a stubbly beard, and a bright blue vest beneath a violet waistcoat was resting quite comfortably at a table in the Blue Pig, his favorite alehouse with a pint of Tibi’s Best. Not only was the Blue Pig a favorite of Mr. Poppin, but Mr. Poppin was also a favorite of Hedrick Tufft, owner of the Blue Pig. The reason was not because Poppin drank a lot of ale, which of course he did, but because when Poppin was in the house, others were sure to follow and business would be brisk. Mr. Poppin, you see, loved to tell stories…the old tales…tales of great deeds and war and honor and beauty…and no one else in town could tell them nearly as well as he did.

So, it was on this night, as it was on most, that Poppin’s quiet solitude was short lived. The table was soon rather crowded as he was joined by Herny Jinks, and then Bob and Roy Mawten, followed by Gub Trinkle, Norry Lumlock, Bertie Veztle, and several others. Herny waited for what he thought was a polite amount of time before bringing up the topic that everyone came for.

“Naw, that’s been mighty unusual,” said Herny, responding to Roy’s comment about the amount of rain they’d had the past month. “Reminds me of the story ya telled us about travelin’ to that great castle down south,” continued Herny to Poppin.

“Yes, the southern hills can get wet at times,” said Diggley, sensing that Herny was working his way up to a more direct question.

“Could be tha’ p’rhaps ya got time t’ leave us another tale? I’m thinkin’ p’rhaps the one ‘bout them giants, when’s they got their comeuppance from the Lady...or p’rhaps the one about those critters what lives in Yolli, ya know, them ugly grawks…at least I think that there’s what ya called ‘em. Why I’d even settle fer another time a hearin’ ‘bout those salt dogs…maggocs ya said folks in the northeast called ‘em.”

Poppin cleared his throat before taking another draught from his glass. “Yes, well I suppose I could tell one short story. Let’s see now…I don’t believe I’ve told you the story of Richard and the Lady Queen in quite some time.”

There were nods all around the room and several present piped in that they didn’t remember that story at all and couldn’t he please tell a story with giants in it.

“Ah, yes, giants…no this story does not have giants. But since there seem to be quite a number of you who have no recollection of ever having heard it, this must be the one for tonight. So, let me see…it all happened down south, not too far from the Great Castle of Emendi where the Lady Queen lived. Richard…quite a sad story really…young Richard was a soldier in the Queen’s personal guard. He came from a poor family, but without him…aah, life would be quite different for all of us.” With that, Poppin began the tale in earnest.

“Richard ran away from home just shortly after his sixteenth birthday. His father was mean…meaner than a full grown maggoc…and continually drunk, which was usually a good thing because, when he was drunk, he didn’t beat Richard as often as he would when he was sober. Richard had no mother…she died when he was just a boy. All he remembered of her was the softness of her lips and her warm cheek when she would kiss him goodnight. Since her death, life had been hard, almost unbearable at times it seemed, but Richard was strong. And he had a gift—the ability to dream. Even when everything around him was painful, when his father was in a fit of rage, or when he couldn’t find a morsel of bread to eat—even then, he could dream. Richard kept his sanity and his will to live by dreaming.

“His favorite, his most private, most special dream was this: that one day he might meet and serve the great and beautiful Queen who ruled all of Emendisira. It was a dream that kept him warm on the cold nights when he slept under the trees to avoid another beating. It was also a dream without hope. A poor farm boy like Richard would most likely never even have a chance to meet the great Queen, let alone serve her.

“But life is full of surprises, and so it happened that one day, while Richard was at market buying a little bread and some potatoes to fix for his father’s dinner, the unexpected happened.

“The market was busy as usual in the town square of Mendila…Mendila, as you know, is a sizable town down south. I once had the good fortune of spending some time in Mendila myself,” said Poppin.

“An’ tha’was on yer trip to the Lady’s castle, weren’t it?” asked Herny.

“Yes, yes. That was the time. But we were talking about Richard. He was at the market, you remember. People buying and selling, haggling over prices, inspecting produce and wares for any imperfections that might lower the price. Richard had only a few pennies to spend, money he earned himself. His father hadn’t earned anything for years and he spent most of what Richard brought home on wine and ale. But the father still expected that food would appear each night on the table. If it did not, Richard knew he would have a few more bruises the next morning.”

Diggley Poppin rose out of his chair now and stood before the gathering crowd. His face was reddening from the heat of the fire and from the tankard of ale, which Hedrick Tufft continued to refill. Poppin was warming, as he always did, to the tale and to his audience.

“So it was that as Richard headed back up the road to his father’s home he met them…the Royal Guard. And not only the guard, but Her Majesty! Nothing could have been more unexpected to the poor boy. The Lady Queen was riding on a beautiful dark stallion, with a mane the same color as her long dark hair. Richard bowed low along the forest highway as the procession passed, terrified but still trying to sneak glances at the Lady because this would certainly be his only chance to ever see her.

“Then the unexpected happened. As the Queen came up along side him, she stopped. Richard could hear the stallion breathing and then it seemed as if an angel spoke.

Rise young man, she commanded in a gentle, but compelling voice. Tell me your name.

Richard had to look around to determine if the angel was speaking to him. It was then that he looked up into those perilous dark eyes…eyes into which many greater men had gazed…gazed and lost their lives. No one ever looked upon those eyes and remained the same person. Richard was no exception. He would never again see the world in the same way. But at that moment he could not imagine any reason the great lady would have anything to say to a poor peasant boy like him.

Richard is what I am called, My Lady, he replied, trying to sound as calm and mature as he could.

“As he spoke, Richard looked again into the Queen’s eyes. They were dark, as dark as midnight, and yet from them shone a light that penetrated into the deepest recesses of his soul. Tears welled up in his own eyes because he knew that he could keep nothing from her…if she asked he would have shared with her the deepest desires and darkest corners of his mind. But she did not ask…she did not need to ask.

Richard, come closer, said the Queen.

“She reached down and lifted his face so that he was transfixed by her penetrating gaze. It was only a brief moment, but it seemed an eternity before a smile traced its way across her lips and she spoke.

You have nothing to hide, Richard. That much I can see clearly. Your heart is pure and you have an inner strength greater than many men twice your age. I can also see that you are kind…that you are a young man of courage and honor. I do not see into the future, but if I could see into the future, I believe I would see that you have something great to do in this world.

“With that the Queen released him and turned to go, but hesitated.

Richard, if, when you come of age, you still desire and wish to serve me as you do now, then I will grant your wish. Come to Emendi, to the great castle, after your sixteenth birthday and you will be trained and fitted for the Royal Guard. I will always need men of honor like you.

“The Queen smiled again at Richard before motioning to the Royal Guard to move on. Richard knew then that he loved her more than anything else in this world.

“The two years seemed like an eternity, but finally the time came. Richard left home before dawn on the day of his sixteenth birthday and never looked back. Life at the castle was exciting and he frequently caught glimpses of the Lady Queen. He spent his first year in training…and he excelled, not because he was the strongest or the tallest or the bravest, but because he had the most heart, the most desire.

“At the start of his second year he was appointed to the Royal Guard. To be appointed at such a young age, seventeen, was almost unheard of. Among the current guardsmen, only Captain Yorth had been that young at the start of his service. Yorth remembered his own youth and knew that both good and bad came with being young. The young ones had quicker reflexes and keener senses, but they were also impulsive and tended to overlook important things because of lack of experience. Yorth knew that Richard had the necessary desire, the necessary training, but he was still not sure Richard was ready for the Royal Guard. Nonetheless, the Queen insisted.

“Later that same year…they say it was a beautiful fall afternoon with the forest trees of the Emendi Hills covered in reds and golds…the Queen and her guard were traveling light and quick to the stronghold of Oliindivi to meet with the Olii Council, a group of weak-kneed men who needed constant nurturing from the Queen to keep them from doubting her power and her intentions. Her guards were not even in full armor, only a light coat of mail, because no enemy had attacked in this part of Eastern Urth for many years.

“The road through the forest was always dangerous, but the Queen loved it because of the beauty of the trees. The guard marched both in front of, beside, and behind the lady. Richard’s place was at the rear of the guard, a place reserved for the most expendible of the men, since it was usually the rear that was attached first.

“It happened just after they had passed a particularly dense clump of trees. Richard heard the snap of a twig. In front of him, Richard could see the Lady Queen riding next to Captain Yorth and laughing gently as they talked. Why, thought Richard, should he worry about one small noise among the trees? There was no reason to suspect that any of the enemy was left in this part of the kingdom. Regular brigands and highway robbers would not dare to attack the Royal Guard. And yet, when Richard turned toward the noise, there under the darkness of the trees, he could see the glint of a pair of eyes and the movement of a bow.

“Richard had only the briefest moment in which to make his decision. Without saying a word he slipped up alongside the Queen, reached up and took hold of one of the straps of her horse’s saddle. Then with a quick thrust of his strong young legs he leaped up into position behind the Lady. He wanted to tell her not to be afraid, to tell her that he loved her, to tell her that this was the greatest honor of his life, but his leap had been timed perfectly. An arrow, its tip enhanced perhaps by some evil enchantment, pierced through his coat of mail and into his back, stopping only after it had punctured his heart. Richard slumped forward, his body still protecting the beautiful lady with the dark eyes as two more arrows found their mark in his back.

“Captain Yorth spun in time to see that young Richard, requested to be with the guard by the Queen on this journey (even over Yorth’s protests) was leaping up onto her horse. What impertinence! Yorth thought in that one short second before he saw the first arrow find its mark.

The enemy is upon us! Defend the Queen! he shouted as the men went from relaxed and laughing to positions guarding all sides of the Lady.

“Two more arrows flew from the trees before a hail of return fire felled the assassin. He was only one…but one assassin is often more dangerous than a whole army. And this one almost found his mark—almost, but not quite—one brave young man, a young man of virtue and honor, had remained vigilant.

“Captain Yorth lifted Richard’s body gently down from behind her majesty. She dismounted and sat for several minutes holding the young man close to her, her tears washing down onto his pale face. Richard Pureheart she named him. There he was buried with all the honors the Lady Queen could bestow. Later a monument was raised over his grave to honor him and the woods were renamed, ‘Richard’s Forest’, by which name it is still known to this day.

“It is said that if Richard had not been there that day, the world as we know it would be quite a different place. Without the Lady Queen to lead them, the peoples of the Eastern Urth would never have resisted and repelled the invading armies of the west, without her the Chosen One never would have come, no, he never would have even existed…and without her, your humble servant would never have left the Northeast Bolk.”

Poppin said the last part in almost a whisper.

With the story finished, an unusual quiet pervaded the normally noisy alehouse. It was Herny Jinks who finally broke the silence.

“I do think I’d like to see that forest sometime,” said Herny.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Ice cream politics

The "Vote for Bart" 2012 election committee has informed me that I need to be a little more open about my personal family life and help the public feel like they are all my close friends (which of course they are...I love the general public as long as I don't have to have them all over for Sunday dinner). Anyway, a few tidbits about me...let's see...oh yes, I love to read the world almanac, usually in that special small room with one seat and a fan.

I am also an avid slug and snail hunter -- it's quite relaxing...just get up early in the dim light of the morning after a rain or after the sprinklers have been on, take a small bucket and pluck them off of the hostas and no time you will have enough of these small creatures to feel very good about the upcoming day. And the best part is that the next morning there will be just as many back again to fill your bucket once more. They seem to come in a never ending supply. I have even thought of having my advisors look into this may be that we could discover something to help the economy.

What was that?...I'm sorry but one of my advisors has suggested that perhaps slugs and almanacs are not quite the ticket to winning the public affection. So...what else could I tell you?

Oh, I know. Everyone likes food and so do I. In fact, I actually like to cook. Why for the 4th of July this year, I made a delicious potato salad (actually, I just boiled the potatoes and eggs, but they were perfectly done potatoes and eggs). In addition, my wife suggested that I make some homemade ice cream. This, of course, is a guy kind of thing because it involves something with a motor attached to it. She suggested coconut, as a flavor. Well, I had never made coconut ice cream, but as a progressive, action oriented sort of person, I did not let this deter me.

I buzzed off to the store and purchased two bags of ice, a quart of cream, and a can of coconut milk. I then returned home to the, I mean kitchen. There I heated three cups of good cane sugar and a cup of water until it boiled. This is always my starting point for ice cream. Usually I will then add a quart of pureed fruit or something similar, but this time I threw in the can of coconut milk (actually I just put in the milk and not the can), juice from about eight limes (maybe 2/3 cup of juice) and the juice from one lemon. To this I added the quart of cream and a pint of milk along with about a half-teaspoon of coconut flavoring. Then into the ice cream maker.

As luck would have it, halfway through the churning of the ice cream, the motor broke. This of course was no problem for someone such as myself with forethought and a clear vision of the future. I simply pulled out an older machine that I had neglected to send off to the dump and finished the job. The coconut-lime ice cream was a smashing success. I would heartily recommend it to any of my supporters.

I hope that this has given you more insight into the man behind the campaign. I also encourage you to spread the word about our cause to your friends and neighbors and, if you really want to win them over, share a little coconut-lime ice cream with them.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Campaign Fundraising -- The race is on!

Okay, so some of you may have seen the report today on presidential campaign fund raising and wondered why the "Vote for Bart" campaign was not mentioned. We want to assure you that this is nothing to worry about, but all part of our long-term plan for election day success. We are definitely still in the race...and still certain that the masses will soon grab hold of our message of hope, courage, and politically correct distribution of named places (if you missed it, go to the archive and read my earlier blog on this important issue).

Just to fill you in on where we stand with funds, the news media this morning reported that Republican frontrunner, former Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney, pocketed $20 million in campaign donations during the last quarter. His challengers: former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty pulled in $4.2 million (I'm betting plenty that Pawlenty is plenty happy about being out of the governor's office in Minnesota this week after the plentiful troubles they've been having there); former Utah governor John Huntsman raised $4.1 million; and Professor Bart, not a former governor, pulled $2.86 out from between the couch cushions.

So, to sum up...except for the "Vote for Bart" campaign, which has already surpassed all of its fundraising goals for the entire campaign, all the others were somewhat disappointed. A look back to this quarter in 2007 shows that the three top fundraisers in the Republican party pulled in $53 million, about $25 million more than they have this year. They area in big trouble. And it is obvious that the cause of this large drop in funds for my challengers is because so many around the country are turning to our message...our campaign. The liberal media, of course, are trying to tie this drop in fundraising to the economy, but we (and you, my stalwart supporters, of course) know better. It has nothing to do with the economy. It has everything to do with our message.

So, keep those donations rolling in. We are going to need every penny. In fact, I think I'll go have another look in the couch.