Here's part of "Tricky Living," copyright by Russ Walter, second edition. For newer info, read the 33rd edition of the "Secret Guide to Computers & Tricky Living" at


Why do they call it “politics”? Because discussing it is the fastest way to get Aunt Polly ticked.

Conservative’s lament

Conservatives say:

If you’re young and not a liberal, you haven’t got a heart.

But if you’re old and not conservative, you haven’t got a brain!

That quote was attributed to Winston Churchill (Britain’s prime minister during World War 2), but according to his fans, there’s no record he ever said it. That thought was expressed by many people, including a French historian in the 1800’s. I call it the Conservative’s lament.

The lament is correct. Young people, forever optimistic, believe that the world will be a beautiful place if you treat everybody kindly and liberally. Old people, who’ve been mugged and cheated by many “nice-looking” people, become cynical.

For example, when President Jimmy Carter and I were young, we both believed the Soviets would treat the rest of the world kindly if the rest of the world would treat them kindly. But then the Soviets, without provocation, invaded Afghanistan. I was disillusioned, and Jimmy Carter was voted out of office.

When I was young, I believed that all people who claimed to be poor should be given generous welfare benefits. But after I chatted with many welfare recipients who used their money to eat in fancy restaurants, buy drugs, and visit prostitutes, I grew more cynical about the needs of the “needy.” Sure, there are members of society who are truly desperate and do need welfare money; and sure, the rich have a moral obligation to give large sums of money to the truly needy poor. But when I see the large percentage of welfare recipients who abuse and even laugh at the system, I want to cry.

When the governor of Alabama, George Wallace, was young, he ran for office on a platform of being nice to blacks. He even kissed black babies. He lost the race. Then he changed his tune, became a cynical anti-black segregationist, ran for office again, and — because he was a cynical segregationist — won! Although I don’t recommend imitating him (since segregation is immoral), his life proves one point: cynicism pays.

Why Democrats make me smile

Democrats tend to be liberal, and Republicans tend to be conservative. But what is “liberal,” and what is “conservative”? What’s the difference?

In 1974, Representative Craig Hosmer (Republican from California) published a funny list of differences in the Congressional Record. He got it from a source that wished to remain anonymous. Several people tried updating (or censoring) that list (especially Rowland Nethaway, senior editor of the Waco Texas Tribune-Herald, in 1998). Here’s my own attempt to update that list further:

Republicans raise dahlias, Dalmatians, and eyebrows.

Democrats raise hell, kids, and taxes.

Republicans employ exterminators.

Democrats step on the bugs.

Republicans go fishing on their boats.

Democrats stay fishing at the docks.

Democrats eat the fish they catch.

Republicans hang them on the wall.

Republicans grab financial pages and love them.

Democrats grab financial pages and shove them — into bird cages.

Republicans consume ¾ of all rutabaga produced in this country.

Democrats throw out the rest.

Republicans follow the plans their grandfathers made.

Democrats make up their own plans — but ignore them.

Democrats take individual delight in reading banned books.

Republicans form censorship committees to read those books as groups.

Democrats give their worn-out clothes to the less fortunate.

So do Republicans, who are smarter and take the tax deduction.

The junk along the road was thrown from car windows by Democrats,

but can’t be seen by Republicans from the back of their limos.

Democrats name their kids after athletes, entertainers, and politicians.

Republicans name their kids after the richest ancestors.

Republicans close their curtains at night — but needn’t bother.

Democrats leave their curtains open — to amuse Republicans.

Republican boys date Democrat girls.

They plan to marry Republican girls but feel entitled to a little fun first.

Republicans sleep in twin beds, often in separate rooms.

That’s why there are more Democrats.

Recently, it’s become less true that most Republicans are rich and most Democrats are poor. To predict how a person will vote, don’t ask about the person’s income; instead, ask about church attendance: Protestant “churchgoers” (who attend church at least once a week) tend to vote Republican.

Researchers have recently discovered an even more accurate way to determine who’ll vote Republican: ask what kind of God the voter believes in. If the voter believes God is vengeful (punishes sinners and other “bad people”), the voter will probably vote Republican; if the voter believes God is forgiving (like Jesus) or laissez-faire (he created the world but then left it alone), the voter will probably vote Democrat.

According to Democrat analysts, Republicans believe government should be like a stern father (tough police enforcement) while Democrats believe government should be like a loving mother (kind to the helpless). Why can’t we have both?

Democratic primary

When this book went to press in August 2007, 8 major Democrats were running for President. Here’s how they compare. I’ll start with the most popular.

Hillary Clinton (preferred by 30% of Democrats) went to Yale Law School and married Bill Clinton (who became President). Now she’s a Senator from New York. Since she lived in the White House and chatted with Bill often about politics, she has the most experience with Presidential matters, though her experience is second-hand. As a kid of Republican parents, she grew up supporting Barry Goldwater, who was very right-wing. Like her husband Bill, she’s a centrist, trying to appeal to middle-of-the-roaders who aren’t the far left. Her personality is brittle: her smiles are forced (ever since Bill had an affair with Monica Lewinsky), her health-care plan was rejected by Congress because she didn’t know how to be collegial, and her frosted hair turned off us leftists, though recently she’s made herself over. She’s unapproachable, surrounded by scary Secret Service agents required to guard former Presidents and their spouses. Since she’s the only female candidate, feminists think complaints about her personality are unfair jibes at assertive women. I fear she’ll suffer the same fate as John Kerry: win the Democratic primary (because she’s a centrist) but finally lose to a Republican because her personality is put-offish.

Barack Obama (20%) is the most academically gifted. He graduated from Harvard Law School (where he was president of the Harvard Law Review), and Professor Lawrence Tribe declared him the most talented Harvard Law student ever seen. He wrote two excellent books, apparently by himself without a ghost writer. He’s taught constitutional law, and now he’s a Senator from Illinois. He’s the best orator: whenever he speaks, every sentence fascinates. He’s young and looks even younger. Youngsters like him better than Hillary and chant, “Don’t tell mama, I’m for Obama!” He’s multicultural: his father was a black African from Kenya, he grew up in Hawaii and Indonesia, and he’s learned Muslim and Christian teachings. He’s the best dresser and has the best style: he knows how to look distinguished even when he’s not wearing a jacket. He talks frankly and openly (unlike Hillary, who believes politicians should be more close-lipped). He’s slightly to the left of Hillary. He’s short of experience: he’s never been an executive, and he’s been a Senator for just 2½ years.

John Edwards (15%) is a smiling Southerner who’s been a rich lawyer but now attacks rich folks and claims to want to help poor folks and make the government generously fund health care and education. His platform is much further to the left than Hillary’s and Obama’s, so I’m tempted to vote for him (since I’m a leftist); but his plan to pay for his social programs isn’t realistic: he just wants to heavily tax incomes over $200,000 and also increase the government’s debt. Voters are concerned that his wife’s cancer might distract him from paying attention to Presidential responsibilities and that his $400 haircut shows he doesn’t have true empathy for the poor. His style seems too “slick,” but by pushing for his platform he might actually create more good change than Hillary or Barack. He generously praises the other candidates, so he’s likeable and might become the Democrat nominee for vice-president again.

Bill Richardson (10%) is the nicest guy. He’s the governor of New Mexico. He’s also been the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy and the ambassador to the U.N. He’s the only candidate who’s been an executive and chatted with foreign dictators. He thinks he combines the best features of Hillary and Barack. He grew up in Mexico City, guided by his Mexican mother and American father, then went to high school in Massachusetts. He has lots of sympathy for immigrants and wants to be friendlier to Cuba. Since he governs a Western state, he doesn’t try to impose gun control.

The other candidates expect to lose but keep debating so America will hear their valuable wisdom. Joe Biden (3%) has the deepest understanding of international issues, since he served on the Senate Foreign Relations committee for 30 years and is now its chairman. He recommends that the Iraq civil war be stopped the same way the Serbian war was: split the country into two parts. His weakness is that he makes embarrassing remarks when speaking off-the-cuff. Dennis Kucinich (1%) was mayor of Cleveland and is now a Senator from Ohio; he’s a vegetarian pacifist who believes war is never a good solution. Chris Dodd (0.6%) was in the Peace Corps and wants to be friendlier to other nations; he’s been in the Senate for 27 years. Mike Gravel (0.4%) is a grumpy old antiwar activist who berates the other candidates for being empty windbags forgetting to vote for Democratic ideals; but since he was a Senator from Alaska, he favors Alaskan drilling for oil, like a Republican!

Adlai Stevenson’s lament

Adlai Stevenson was the brilliant egghead Democrat who ran for President against Eisenhower but lost. He made this comment about politicians and their speeches:

It’s often easier to fight for one’s principles than live up to them.

Republican language

Republicans appeal to voters by changing the jargon. Here’s how the typical voter responds, according to Frank Luntz (a Republican pollster and spin doctor) and
Eric Effron (managing editor of The Week):

The voter doesn’t mind an “estate tax” but opposes it when called a “death tax.”

The voter is unsure about “tort reform” but favors it when called “ending lawsuit abuse.”

The voter is against “global warming” but accepts it when called “climate change.”

The voter is against “government eavesdropping” but accepts it when called “electronic intercepts.”

The voter is against “torture” but accepts it when called “aggressive interrogation techniques.”

The voter is against the U.S. starting an “invasion” but accepts it when called a “liberation.”

The voter is against war’s “escalation” but accepts it when called “troop surge.”

The voter is against war’s “civilian casualties” but accepts them when called “collateral damage.”

The voter is against the U.S. being an “occupying power” but accepts it when called a “coalition partner.”

The voter is against a U.S. “retreat” but accepts it when called a “phased troop redeployment.”

The voter is worried about “civil war” but less worried about it when called “sectarian strife.”

According to Mark Kleiman (a Democrat who’s a public-policy professor at UCLA) and his friends, here’s how Republicans redefine political terms:

Political term                   Republican definition

healthy forest                      no tree left behind

alternative energy sources   new places to drill for gas and oil

climate change                    progress toward the blessed day when blue states are swallowed by oceans

compassionate conservatism   poignant concern for the very wealthy

ownership society                civilization where just the owners have power

class warfare                     any attempt to raise the minimum wage

bankruptcy                          a means of escaping debt, available to corporations but not poor people

laziness                                when the poor aren’t working

leisure time                          when the rich aren’t working

free markets                        Haliburton’s no-bid contracts

growth                                 justification for tax cuts for the rich

simplify                               reduce (especially the taxes of Republican donors)

honesty                               lies told in simple declarative sentences, such as “Freedom is on the march.”

DeLay                                 past tense of De Lie

stay the course                    continue to perform the same actions and expect different results

stuff happens                       I don’t have to live in Baghdad

voter fraud                          a significant minority turnout

No Child Left Behind          ensuring that stupid kids learn enough to get jobs in the military

pro-life                                valuing human life up until birth

creation science                   theory that Bush’s resemblance to a chimpanzee is just coincidental

woman                                a person trusted to raise a child but not to decide whether to have one

treason                                criticizing Bush

patriot                                 Bush supporter

Patriot Act                          preemptive strike on American freedoms, to prevent terrorists from
                                           destroying them first


Republicans fear that the year 2029 will have these headlines:

Ozone from electric cars kills millions in 7th largest country, Mexifornia, formerly called California. White minorities still trying to get English recognized as Mexifornia’s 3rd language.

Castro finally dies at age 112. Cuban cigars can now be imported legally, but President Chelsea Clinton has banned all smoking.

Baby conceived naturally; scientists stumped. Couple petitions court to reinstate heterosexual marriage.

Spotted-owl plague threatens Northwest crops and livestock. France pleads for global help after being taken over by Jamaica. New federal law requires registering all nail clippers, screwdrivers, fly swatters, and rolled-up newspapers. Postal Service raises price of 1st-class stamp to $17.89 and reduces mail delivery to just Wednesdays. IRS sets lowest tax rate at 75%. 85-year 75-billion-dollar study says diet and exercise are keys to weight loss. Supreme Court decides that punishing criminals violates their civil rights. Massachusetts executes last remaining conservative.


We journalists are thankful that Bush is President. Without him, we wouldn’t have anybody to make fun of!

Bush imitates Carson Here’s the real reason why America voted for George Bush the younger and made him President: he looks like Johnny Carson, when Johnny was young. He smiles and is a semi-intellectual affable joker.

That’s what America wants in a President: a talk-show host who smiles. That’s what America got. But after 8 years, America gets tired of seeing the same old smiles and wants to change channels.

Bush outsourced This news bulletin appeared on the Internet:

Congress announced that the office of President of the United States will be outsourced to India. The move’s being made to save the President’s $400,000 yearly salary and the record 521 billion dollars in deficit expenditures and related overhead the office has incurred during the last 5 years.

Mr. Bush was informed of his termination, by e-mail this morning.

The office of President will be assumed by Mr. Gurvinder Singh of Indus Teleservices, Mumbai, India. He’s eligible for the Presidency because he was born in the U.S. while his Indian parents were vacationing at Niagara Falls.

Singh’s future

Mr. Singh will receive a salary of $320 a month but no health coverage or other benefits.

Because of the time difference between the U.S. and India, he’ll work mainly at night, when most offices of the U.S. government are closed; but it’s believed he can handle the job without a support staff. He said, “Working nights will let me keep my day job at the American Express call center. I’m excited about this position. I always hoped to be President someday.”

Singh isn’t fully aware of all Presidential issues; but that’s okay, since Bush wasn’t familiar with them either. Singh will rely on a script tree that lets him respond to most topics. Using those canned responses, he can address common concerns without having to understand the underlying issues. A spokesman said, “We know those scripting tools work. President Bush has used them successfully for years.”

Singh might have difficulty producing a Texas drawl; but Bush has recently abandoned that “down home” persona anyway, to appear more intelligent and on top of the Katrina situation.

Bush’s future

Bush will receive health coverage, expenses, and salary until his final day of employment. After a 2-week wait, he’ll be eligible for $240/week unemployment for 13 weeks. He can’t collect Medicaid, since his unemployment benefits will exceed the allowed limit.

Bush has been given the outplacement services of Manpower, Inc. to help him write a résumé and prepare for his next job. According to Manpower, Bush may have difficulty securing a new position, since his practical work experience is limited. A greeter position at Wal-Mart was suggested because of his extensive hand-shaking experience and phony smile.

Another possibility is his re-enlistment in the Texas Air National Guard. If he chooses that option, he’d likely be stationed in Waco, Texas for a month before being sent to Iraq, a country he’s visited. “I've been there, I know all about Iraq,” said Bush, who gained valuable knowledge of the country in a visit to Baghdad Airport’s terminal and gift shop.

Sources in Baghdad and Falluja say Bush would get a warm reception from local Iraqis. They’ve asked for details of his arrival so they can arrange an appropriate welcome.

The original version of that bulletin was written by Melynda Jill and posted at

Bush’s bulb How many members of the Bush administration do you need to change a light bulb?

Some Web sites say the answer is:

None. Nothing’s wrong with the light bulb. Its conditions are improving every day. Any reports of its lack of incandescence are delusional spin from the liberal media. That light bulb served honorably, and anything you say undermines the lighting effect. Why do you hate freedom?

Other Web sites analyzed the Bush administration more thoroughly and said the answer is really 10:

1 to deny a light bulb needs to be changed

1 to attack the patriotism of anyone saying a light bulb needs to be changed

1 to blame Clinton for burning out the light bulb

1 to tell other nations they’re either for changing the light bulb or for darkness

1 to give a billion-dollar no-bid contract to Haliburton for the new light bulb

1 to photograph Bush under the banner “Light Bulb Change Accomplished”

1 administration insider to resign and write a book on how Bush was in the dark

1 to smear that insider

1 to explain how Bush has had a strong light-bulb-changing policy all along

1 to confuse Americans about the difference between screwing a light bulb
   and screwing the country


The Internet says the government’s decided to change the national emblem from an eagle to a condom, which more accurately reflects the government’s political stance:

It permits inflation, halts production, destroys the next generation, protects a bunch of pricks, and gives you a sense of security while you’re actually being screwed.