Archive for the 'President Bush' Category

Ten Years

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

Ten years ago today, I started a journey called “Shakespeare Teacher” that hoped to entertain, enlighten, and energize a small but dedicated audience of readers.

The world was different back then. George W. Bush was in the White House, and my dissatisfaction with that reality drove a lot of my early posts. I found myself with a lot to say, and Web 2.0 offered a unique platform to express my opinions and offer my analysis. When Barack Obama took office, I still cared about politics, but my edge became dulled by complacency.

I mostly sat out this past election because it was awful and because I thought Donald Trump could not possibly win. That was a mistake. Now, I find myself once again with a lot to say, but my platform for saying it is no longer what is was. Web 2.0 technologies have taken a backseat to social media, and most of us get our news and analysis folded in with our baby pictures and viral videos. Is there still a place for the Shakespeare Teacher and his twopence? I’m thinking that there just may be, if I can play to my strengths.

I’ve become very aware of the way that language is being twisted and manipulated in politics and society, and I can write about that. New policies will affect education and the arts, and I can write about that. We will see parallels between real life as it emerges and Shakespeare’s examinations of power, and I can write about that. And, of course, I can still entertain with the word games, puzzles, riddles, and anagrams that have come to define this tiny little corner of the Internet for the past decade. I might even write about teaching Shakespeare from time to time.

The Shakespeare Teacher is back. If you’re in, I’m in.

Happy New Year.

Shakespeare Anagram: Love’s Labour’s Lost

Saturday, April 27th, 2013

From Love’s Labour’s Lost:

They have been at a great feast of languages, and stolen the scraps.

Shift around the letters, and it becomes:

At George Bush’s last gala event, they ran a defense of a past he can’t.

Three Truths and a Lie

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

Your results may vary.

Over the past few days, Mitt Romney made three of the four statements below. The other statement, I just made up. Can you find the fake Romney quote among the genuine?

I put links to the sources after each quote. They lead to the story as reported by Talking Points Memo, your source for liberal-friendly political news. The fake quote’s source link leads to my favorite picture of President Obama.

1. “I admit this, he has one thing he did not do in his first four years, he’s said he’s going to do in his next four years, which is to raise taxes.” Source

2. “Look, George W. Bush was president when the financial meltdown began. I know that. And the Obama team has done a pretty good job of turning all of that around. But, the next four years are going to be critical.” Source

3. “The largest contributors to the Democratic Party are the teachers’ unions. And so if they can elect someone, then that person is supposed to be representing the public vis-a-vis the teachers’ union, but actually most of the money came from the teachers’ union. It’s an extraordinary conflict of interest.” Source

4. “Well, we do provide care for people who don’t have insurance. If someone has a heart attack, they don’t sit in their apartment and die. We pick them up in an ambulance, and take them to the hospital, and give them care. And different states have different ways of providing for that care.” Source

How did you do?

The fake quote was inspired by this story. And now that you know which of the quotes are real, feel free to discuss them in the comments section.

UPDATE: Should have waited a day

“[D]on’t forget — I got everybody in my state insured,” Romney told NBC. “One hundred percent of the kids in our state had health insurance. I don’t think there’s anything that shows more empathy and care about the people of this country than that kind of record.”

The Hartfordian Theory

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

The release of the birth certificate certainly proves that someone named Barack Obama was born in Hawaii in 1961. But Hartfordians don’t deny that Barack Obama exists; we just don’t believe that he is the current president. The Hartfordian theory is that the current President of the United States is actually former senator Christopher Dodd.

All of the questions surrounding Obama’s past are easy to reconcile, once you realize that his many accomplishments are actually those of Dodd. Much has been made of Obama’s 2004 keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention, a call for unity that thrust him into the national spotlight. But records from the time show that the real Barack Obama was only a state senator. The DNC would never have given him that kind of platform. Christopher Dodd was a United States senator, and potential presidential candidate. Clearly, it was Dodd who gave that speech.

In the Senate, the man from Hawaii stood in as a front for legislation that Dodd would have considered too controversial to put his own name on. For example, the Mercury Export Ban Act of 2008 was supposedly sponsored by “Senator Barack Obama.” But the true author of the bill left behind plenty of coded messages in the text, so posterity would have no doubt who really sponsored it. (Click below for a larger image.)

Anti-Hartfordian critics have pointed out that it is impossible for Dodd to have sponsored both Obama’s legislation and his own at the same time. But Dodd is one of the great legislative geniuses of all time, and was able to manage it without raising suspicion. In 2010, “President Barack Obama” signed into law the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The former president, George W. Bush, had been opposed to financial regulation. But the man from Hawaii takes office, and all of a sudden financial reform is on the table? Obviously, Dodd signed his own bill into law.

The idea that the President of the United States is Barack Obama is one of the greatest frauds ever perpetrated on the American people, despite overwhelming evidence that it is actually Chris Dodd. I guess people just see what they want to see.

Just Kidding

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Feedback on my recent post about The Rules has led to a concern that my humor is too subtle and not everyone might get that it is a joke. As this regularly happens to me in real life, I thought it might be a good idea to sprinkle a few drops of water on my dusty-dry sense of humor, and clear up a few items on the blog that were always meant to be taken with a grain of salt.

ONE. The Rules were a satire that applies equally to members of both sides of the political spectrum, including me at times. You should definitely vote.

TWO. To the best of my knowledge, Rick Astley never performed in The Two Gentlemen of Verona. That was a Rickroll setup. Sorry. But there really is a “never give her o’er” speech.

THREE. The rap song “Mary, Mary” by Run DMC is not really about Queen Mary I of England. The song was actually written by Michael Nesmith of The Monkees. No, seriously.

FOUR. King Henry VIII never really used online file-sharing services. Someone really did search for that, though.

FIVE. President Bush did not really let the door hit him on the ass on his way out of the presidency. That’s just an expression.

SIX. Shakespeare did not really use PowerPoint. If he had, he would have probably created the best presentations ever, and today’s scholars would be debating whether or not he had really created them.

SEVEN. I was never really serious about the feud.

EIGHT. I am not really a mixer, a battery, or any of the other riddle answers. I am forty, though.

NINE. Waiting for Superman is not really my favorite of the Superman movies. I like the one with Richard Pryor better.

TEN. I don’t really think my readers need a list of examples of when I was joking. I just thought it would be funny.

Googleplex – 2/14/10

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

It’s time once again to check in on what searches people have done to find themselves at Shakespeare Teacher, and to respond in the name of fun and public service. All of the following searches brought people to this site in the past week.

was erikson influenced by shakespeare

That’s a great question. I think it’s fair to say the idea that human beings develop in distinct stages was pioneered by Sigmund Freud in the 20th century, when he outlined his psycho-sexual stages of development in childhood. Erik Erikson, a developmental psychologist strongly influenced by Freud, described his own set of psycho-social stages, which carried through to adulthood.

Groundbreaking as these ideas were, they were to some degree anticipated by Shakespeare in his Seven Ages of Man speech from As You Like It. In the speech, Shakespeare describes seven developmental stages that carry through from childhood to adulthood, and the common characteristics that men display at each stage. Freud and Erikson would later codify this scientifically, but the Bard was able to figure it out just by observing the human condition. Point: Humanities!

It’s worth noting that both Freud and Erikson wrote about Shakespeare, and Hamlet in particular, to describe their theories. In a 1962 article entitled “Youth: Fidelity and Diversity,” Erikson actually references Shakespeare’s “ages of man” before spending about four pages examining fidelity and identity in Hamlet. So it would seem that the answer to the question is, yes, Erikson was influenced by Shakespeare to some degree, as was Freud. But influence often tends to be reflective, and the developmental psychologists certainly left their mark on Shakespeare as well.

poetic elements in song mosh by eminem

I touched on this a bit about a month ago. I used to use “Mosh” to teach poetic devices, and I’m having trouble finding a more contemporary replacement. I’ll just give a sampling of each of the poetic devices I mentioned in that post. I tend to use only the middle stanza and the chorus, which I make into a handout. I also distribute the Prologue for Romeo and Juliet as a handout, so we can compare the two.

Repetition: “We gonna fight, we gonna charge, we gonna stomp, we gonna march”; “All you can see is a sea of people”; “If it rains let it rain”; “Rebel with a rebel yell”

Rhyme: Not only is there end rhyme, but there is internal rhyme as well. “They tell us no we say yea, they tell us stop we say go/ Rebel with a rebel yell, raise hell we gonna let em know”; “yea the wetter the better”; “that we need to proceed”

Rhythm: “Mosh” is written in anapestic tetrameter, which I always point out is the same meter as “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”… and other popular poems as well. The Prologue for Romeo and Juliet, of course, is in iambic pentameter.

Alliteration: Note that in “we gonna mosh through the marsh” the words “mosh” and “marsh” start and end with the same sounds. Compare with “doth with their death” in the Prologue for Romeo and Juliet.

Antithesis: “They tell us no we say yea, they tell us stop we say go”; “from the front to the back”; “some white and some black”

Allusion: There’s a reference to George W. Bush in the passage.

Emendation: This is where I edited the reference to George W. Bush. I usually change it to “Stomp, push, shove, mush, [mock] Bush” even using the brackets like a Shakespeare editor.

president bush reads shakespeare

In a 2006 interview with Brian Williams, President Bush claimed to have recently read “three Shakespeares” in addition to curling up with some Camus:

WILLIAMS: We always talk about what you’re reading. As you know, there was a report that you just read the works of a French philosopher. (Bush laughs)

BUSH: The Stranger.

WILLIAMS: Tell us the back story of Camus.

BUSH: The back story of the the book?

WILLIAMS: What led you to…

BUSH: I was in Crawford and I said I was looking for a book to read and Laura said you oughtta try Camus, I also read three Shakespeare’s.

WILLIAMS: This is a change…

BUSH: Not really. Wait a minute.

WILLIAMS: A few months ago you were reading the life story of Joe DiMaggio by Richard Ben Cramer.

BUSH: Which was a good book.

WILLIAMS: You’ve been on a Teddy Roosevelt reading kick.

BUSH: Well, I’m reading about the battle of New Orleans right now. I’ve got an eclectic reading list.

Williams didn’t ask him what “Shakespeares” he read, but I have my guess at one of them, as well as a selection I wish he’d read.

somewhere in the number pi is shakespeare

The constant pi is nature’s random digit generator, stretching out infinitely long and with no predictable pattern. This means that any finite string of numbers can be found somewhere out in the vast expanse of digits.

So if we were to express the Complete Works of Shakespeare in, say, ASCII code, it would indeed be represented as a very long, but certainly finite, string of digits. This string of digits is represented somewhere in pi, not once, but an infinite number of times. What’s more, the very first time it appears would be a finite distance in. Which means, there is some number X where you could say that if you start X digits into pi, you can read the Complete Works of Shakespeare.

Before you get too excited by that, you should realize that X is so unfathomably large that it would most likely be beyond human comprehension to even find a way to express it, let alone come anywhere near identifying it. You may think of the monkeys-at-typewriters thought experiment (and for our purposes, we can consider both the digits of pi and monkeys typing to be generating random characters). Even using theoretical monkeys, the number of simian typists needed would be beyond astronomical.

But, yes, the Complete Works of Shakespeare are somewhere in pi with a probability of 1. If the thought of that makes you smile, I’ve done my job.

what was king henry four’s last name

Henry IV was often referred to as Henry Bolingbroke, but actually, his last name was Plantagenet.

In fact, all of the English kings from Henry II to Richard III carried the surname Plantagenet. This means that throughout the entire Wars of the Roses, the Yorks and Lancasters all had the same last name, which is found throughout the history plays. This is because both sides were led by male-line descendants of Edward III. There is a reference to this in Richard III, as Richard hits on the widow of the cousin he killed:

Glo. He that bereft thee, lady, of thy husband,
Did it to help thee to a better husband.
Anne. His better doth not breathe upon the earth.
Glo. He lives that loves thee better than he could.
Anne. Name him.
Glo. Plantagenet.
Anne. Why, that was he.
Glo. The self-same name, but one of better nature.
Anne. Where is he?
Glo. Here.

The long Plantagenet line comes to an end in 1485, when Richard III is defeated by a young man named Henry Tudor.

rick astley allusion to shakespeare

Rick Astley, before he became well known as a singer, did a bit of acting and even performed in some Shakespeare. Most of his Shakespeare work was done on stage and not screen, but there is a video clip of him performing the “never give her o’er” speech from The Two Gentlemen of Verona. The video can be found on YouTube here.

I leave the task of responding to the remaining search terms to my readers:

what would malcolm say about shakespeare advice in hamlet

what do shakespeare have to do with the gilded age

love letters written by shakespeare

who played in the kings men in macbeth

id, ego, superego of othello

four letter shakespearean rebuke

Larger Questions

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

Monday’s Question of the Week was about the President’s new policy of “prolonged detention” for terror suspects who seemingly cannot be tried and cannot be released, and what larger implications this practice might have in the future. So far, nobody has touched it. It’s possible some are still pondering this question, while others are composing their carefully-worded responses. However, it’s also possible that I chose the wrong question. Let’s try another angle…

What icon will Doonesbury use to represent President Obama? In the past, Bill Clinton was represented as a waffle, while first-term George W. Bush was represented as an asterisk in a cowboy hat (later changed to a helmet from the Roman empire). The Doonesbury FAQ offers the following:

We appreciate the interest of the hundreds of readers who have written to ask — with varying degrees of impatience — whether there will be a Doonesbury icon for President Obama. Suggestions for an image have been generously forthcoming — halo, basketball, Ray-Bans, Blackberry, teleprompter.

My vote is coins. This represents “change” in one sense, and in another the financial challenges he inherited. What do you think?

What icon should Doonesbury use to represent Obama?

Question of the Week

Monday, May 25th, 2009

On this Memorial Day, we remember and honor the men and women who have given their lives in the service of our country. Their sacrifices have helped keep us safe from harm, protected from tyranny, and secure in a way of life that upholds the values we cherish. This week’s Question invites us to examine what it was we believe they fought and died for, and how we can best honor their memories.

President Obama is doing the right thing by closing the detention camp at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. In some cases, this will mean a transfer of prisoners, while in other cases, it will lead to a trial. But there is one group that has triggered a serious policy discussion that has challenged the President to demonstrate how he will keep us safe while upholding the ideals that are fundamental to our nation.

What do we do with foreign nationals whom we do have a credible reason to believe are intent on doing harm to Americans, but whom we are not able to prosecute because they were tortured under the Bush administration and would therefore have to be released?

President Obama’s solution is “prolonged detention,” which means that they will be held without trial indefinitely. This is a preventative measure, intended to protect potential victims of future terrorist attacks. But many believe that holding suspects indefinitely, even suspects who openly declare their desire to harm Americans, crosses a line that America ought not cross.

Some would brand them as Prisoners of War, but that doesn’t quite work, since we are in a conceptual war with no conceivable end. Others would suggest bringing them to trial anyway, but we then risk setting them free. That doesn’t seem like such a great idea either. That may very well be the worst possible option, except for all of the others.

And you may be comfortable with President Obama having the right to decide who should be held in “prolonged detention” in 2009. But would you feel just as comfortable with President Cheney having that power in 2013? What we do now sets a precedent, and sends a powerful message about who we are as a nation. We can’t take that lightly.

But some of these prisoners, if released, could pose a serious threat. That can’t be taken lightly either.

What should we do?

Shakespeare Anagram: Measure for Measure

Saturday, March 14th, 2009

From Measure for Measure:

What sin you do to save a brother’s life,
Nature dispenses with the deed so far
That it becomes a virtue.

Shift around the letters, and it becomes:

Obama, with no hesitation, waives the defeated Bush’s evil order to stop test research in future days.

Breaking News

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

WASHINGTON – Former President George W. Bush was admitted to Georgetown University Hospital yesterday afternoon for injuries sustained when the door hit him on the ass on his way out of the presidency. President Bush’s injuries are reported to be minor, and he is expected to make a full recovery.

“This is a regrettable incident,” said newly sworn-in President Barack Obama, who then paused to assume a posture that onlookers described as Lincolnesque, “but let me be perfectly clear. I expressed grave concerns about the door to President Bush. I thanked him for his service to our nation, and advised that he not let the door hit him on the ass on his way out. Had he heeded my warnings, and the warnings of many others, he would not be in the position he finds himself in now.”

A spokesman for the Secret Service said that the danger posed by the door was known. However, the departing President inexplicably paused as he was leaving office, something he had been warned not to do, allowing the door to hit him on the ass on his way out. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs speculated that President Bush may have paused in response to a suggestion from incoming Vice President Joe Biden to “make like a tree.”