Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Sunday, November 05, 2006

  Remember, remember the fifth of November

Big things are in the air, a political revolution. I could just smell it this morning, midst the pungent oak leaves in the driveway. My friend Milo stopped by while I was watching Meet the Press, on his way out to canvass for the Democratic candidate, Charles Dertinger. Milo wanted to get his talking points down pat, and he seemed to think that me and Mrs. Smintheus were the people to try them out on.

I want to raise one other issue about the Democrats, because it’s on the minds of some voters, and that is what they’ll do if they win. Until May, John Conyers, who would become chairman of the Judiciary Committee, had this on his Web site. He said, “Stand with Congressman Conyers. Demand an investigation of administrative abuses of power and make recommendations regarding grounds for possible impeachment.” Is that what it’s going to be, the Democrats, get together, investigate...

"In the first 100 hours, we're going to toughen inspections of imported spinach," Milo said.

I think spinach is too controversial, I said. Maybe you should start with the more general problems before getting into specifics. Milo was looking at his script on a bright blue paper.

Absolutely not. Absolutely not. We’re going to, we’re going to pass an increase in the minimum wage, direct negotiations for lower prescription drug prices, the 9/11 Commission recommendations to make America safe, redirect the $12 billion given to big oil toward energy independence.

Minimum wage is popular, says Mrs. Smintheus as she rushed to take the kettle off. But weren't you saying last month we need to investigate the whole rotten mess? It wasn't clear that Milo heard her.

No investigations into Iraq.

We’re going to have oversight, because that’s what—one of the problems with the Congress…

That's what Republicans want to hear more than anything, I says. They want to paint Democrats into a…what? Milo dropped several papers, picked up the blue one, and slumped into the chair closest the TV.

We’re going to have hearings and oversight. It will not lead to—we will not take on impeachment.

No investigations into Iraq, asked Mrs. Smintheus, coming in with the tea. Did Dertinger say that?

"No, investigations but no hearings," says Milo. "No, wait, sorry, thanks, hearings but no impeachment. I asked Dertinger but he didn't say anything; that's just me talking," says.

"But what if Bush broke the law?" asks Mrs. S.

Totally off the table.

Milo looked to me for help, but I wasn't going to risk the displeasure of the Other Voter in the house. "I thought you said Bush's spying was illegal?" I say.

Let me just say, the economy. You keep talking about...

Milo's talking points were getting bollixed up, but he tried to put on a brave face.

We’re going to be happy Wednesday morning.

"Then what?" pressed the Other Voter. "What's it all about? Are you going to rescue the Constitution and stop these signing statements…"

Milo wilts under pressure, which is why I was surprised he was going canvassing. "No, don't you see, we don't have time for the Constitution. We've got a list of things we need to get passed. We need to lower gas prices and raise the average mileage…"

"Yikes, I can't believe this. Sorry Milo," she says.

The contractor, Charles Schoemacher, was here a half-hour early. We piled outside and joined him, looking at the pit next to the back corner of the house.

Another contractor, George Walker, had dug it five years ago, insisting that it wasn't enough just to clean out the rain guttering on the surface. He insisted we'd have water in the basement someday if we didn't excavate down below the foundations. It didn't seem quite right, but George insisted he knew what he was doing. That was years ago, and though he keeps promising to finish the job, he never actually does it. Every month it's a new excuse.

Meanwhile, as I feared, big cracks started to open along the exposed side of the house. The windows are sagging so badly that it makes me sick to look at them. Mostly I avoid this side of the house now. It's an old stone house, has stood for about 200 years, massive thick walls, but I just don't know how you shore them up at this stage. My stomach hurts.

Charles says he can fix it. He seems a little vague about when and how, I think to myself, as I pop back in the house to turn the TV off.

...make 2007 a year of transition...

Milo says what about the windows? Charles says no problem. He can get a back-hoe up here in about two/three weeks and fill in the pit, won't cost us an arm and a leg.

Mrs. Smintheus asks about the cracks. The living room floor is tilting so badly in one corner that we don't dare use that part of it any longer. Milo's looking worried; I see later that he's dropped some of his fliers in the pit.

Charles says you fill in the pit and that will put a stop to the cracks.

Mrs. Smintheus looks over at me, worried.


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