Monday, September 20, 2004


SEPT 20 -- The ceiling in your first floor bathroom is cracked from an old leak. The floor tiles could stand replacing. You need a contractor. You’re not committed to anyone in particular and a friend told you about a guy named George Bush. "He’s a good guy," your friend said, so you ask him to give you an estimate. Arriving at your house, Mr. Bush is very friendly, patting you on the back, "Call me George," he says. As soon has he sees your bathroom, he says, "This is gonna look great! I can do it for $5000." "That seems a bit high," you say. "Well, what if I told you it’ll increase the value of your house by twenty thousand?" he ventures. This seems pretty unrealistic but he’s very confident and convincing and, besides, what do you know about contracting and real estate? You hire him.

The next day George Bush arrives to work at your house with a small team. While you’re having coffee and watching Katie Couric, one of his workers drives a back hoe through the side of your house and into that first floor bathroom, ripping the sink and toilet out of the floor. "What are you doing?" you yell. "Well, look," he says, "whoever designed this bathroom left us with a real mess. We knew we had to take an aggressive approach. The boys and me talked about it last night and decided to come through the outside wall instead of the door. I gotta admit, when I woke up this morning I wondered whether that was such a good idea but by then there was really no looking back. But listen, don’t worry! We’re gonna re-do the whole bathroom now and it’s gonna look great." "But how much is that going to cost?" you ask. "Well," says Bush, "it’s gonna cost $50,000, but honest to God it’s gonna trans-form this house. The house will be worth twice what you bought it for. Think of it as an investment in a beautiful future."

By this time you’re a bit unnerved by what Mr. Bush and his team are doing and you decide you better get a second opinion. Another friend says he used a guy named John Kerry. He’s methodical and he likes to talk through the project with you, so he takes a bit longer than your average contractor, but he does excellent work. You invite Mr. Kerry to have a look. When he sees the bathroom he says, "Holy shit. You said you were just doing the ceiling and the floor tiles." You reply, " Right, and you said that sounded like a good idea." "Yes," Kerry says, "but this is a total disaster now. I mean, if you had done it the right way from the beginning everything would have been fine, but you need a completely new plan to deal with this." Well, you say, can you give me a sense for what you’d do and how much it might cost? "Sure," says Mr. Kerry, "but I’d like to think it through for a day or so. And at this point I really need to talk to my electrician and my plumber –– and you may have real architectural issues to deal with now" –– pointing –– "I think that’s a load-bearing wall." This Kerry is very grim and serious. You’re not getting that warm feeling you got from Bush the first time you met him. And Bush makes you feel like you were part of a big exciting project whereas Kerry seems to just want to fix the problem and move onto his next job. Not very inspiring, you think.

You decide to call Mr. Bush to let him know that you’re weighing your options. "John Kerry?!?" he exclaims on the phone, "That boy’ll say anything to get a job –– he’s just a pessimist and an opportunist! He can’t make up his mind, he’ll just talk your ear off and never get anything done. Stick with me, now. Nobody said this was gonna be easy but there is gold at the end of this rainbow, I promise you! It’s called own-er-ship. It’s called e-quit-y. I’m telling you, you put two hundred thousand dollars into this house, you’re gonna make four hundred thousand." "Alright," you say to yourself, "I’m going to be steady and stick with my original choice, my original plan."

Later that day, you catch Mr. Bush’s plumber snooping around in your underwear drawer. Bush himself is giving neighborhood children rides to the cul-de-sac on his back-hoe. You run out of the house to chase down Mr. Bush. Meanwhile his electrician (unlicensed, it turns out) has accidentally started a fire. Turning around, you see that your kitchen is engulfed in flames.

This is a choose your own adventure.

To fire Bush and hire John Kerry, turn to page 2004.
To keep George Bush on the job, turn to page 2005.


42 Americans died in Iraq in June -- the month before the handover. But 54 died in July -- 66 in August and already 54 halfway through September.

And more than 1,100 Americans were wounded in August -- more than in any other month since the invasion.

We are fighting a growing insurgency in an ever widening war-zone. In March, insurgents attacked our forces 700 times. In August, they attacked 2,700 times -- a 400% increase.

Falluja, Ramadi, Samarra, even parts of Baghdad -- are now "no go zones" -- breeding grounds for terrorists who are free to plot and launch attacks against our soldiers. The radical Shiite cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, who is accused of complicity in the murder of Americans, holds more sway in the suburbs of Baghdad.

Violence against Iraqis from bombings to kidnappings to intimidation is on the rise.

Basic living conditions are also deteriorating.

Residents of Baghdad are suffering electricity blackouts lasting up to 14 hours a day.

Raw sewage fills the streets, rising above the hubcaps of our Humvees. Children wade through garbage on their way to school.

Unemployment is over 50 percent. Insurgents are able to find plenty of people willing to take $150 for tossing grenades at passing U.S. convoys.

Mission Accomplished?


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