It was terrific

Flew in from Austin Friday morning and checked into the Marriott Washington that afternoon.
While staking my claim to my half of the closet, MalcmTex called me from on the road;  he was
speeding on down from New Jersey and we were just hoping we would be able to get to the
Crossfire taping on time.  I ordered a killer Chicken Caesar Salad from Bartender Sam
(the kind man who took care of us in the bar late Saturday evening.)  Malcm got in with
enough time to spare to wolf down the salad and race on to George Washington U. for Crossfire.

Back home in Texas, I have been watching Crossfire every evening after work with my Mom;
we are both Yellowdogs with a lot of opinions.  We shout down Novak, even if he can't hear us,
the big lout.  It was a huge thrill to see the set up close, and to be a part of the audience rumblings
and chuckles.  I was annoying the hell out of a Republican couple seated in front of us with my
barely stifled outbursts of appreciative laughter over Begala's remarks, or hissed accusations of
"that's bullshit!"  whenever Carlson treated us to one of  his logical disconnect/misdirection responses.
In truth, Tucker Carlson was far more human in person than I had perceived through the lens of TV.
But Begala is purely admiration for him is through the roof.

Afterwards, we dined at a kickass little burger joint with purportedly the largest beer selection in the world.
They are probably telling the truth -- they served nearly 1000 beers.  I think I saw that baldheaded Democrat
pollster there...(neither Carville nor Mock Carville, nor was it James Cramer.  Another good looking baldy.)

We poked our noses into Blackies, and said "hello" to our fellow travellers.

We eventually went  back to the hotel, cracked open a fresh bottle of Chinaco Reposado
and ...eventually slept -- dreaming of the Clinton years and of the events to come.

We had overdone things a bit that night...we hadn't tried all 1000 of the beers, but we had our share.
Having hollow dyspeptic tummies, we wandered about the neighborhood until we located breakfast
at a polished spot called Cafe Kaffe.  I couldn't really handle the monster hunk of salmon Malcm was
working on, but I had a plate of the biggest mutant grapes and strawberries I have ever seen.  They had
to have been spliced with mastodon DNA to get that big.  And still yummy...the miracles of science.
(Further off the subject, there is a display at the Smithsonian Museum of American History demonstrating
how we have freeze-proof tomatoes because some nut decided to splice tomato genes with those of
the Arctic Flounder.)  We shopped for some chips to go with the salsa I brought with me, and then napped.

A bit late, I realized that I was missing lunch with Julie.  Astonishingly,  Julie (who is a goddess) was still
downstairs.  I was privileged to join the group and have a bit of quality time with her and with the other
fascinating Bartcoppers present.  Julie had caught of bit of some of my partisan raving, and reminded me
of that centrist view that we Dems must present in order to win.  Playing to WIN.  She is one smart lady.
I could have gone home happy at that point, I thought.

Malcm and I spent the better part of that day socializing with each other, and wondering what the evening
would bring.  Partytime was upon us in a flash.  We approached the building housing West 24 and joined
the Bartcoppers milling about outside, waiting for the afternoon party to clear out.  We goggled at the
Mock Carville.  We talked ferrets with the pros and heard everyone's travel stories.  Before too long we
were inside, drink in hand, among like minds, instant friends.  WE HAD A BLAST, DO YOU HEAR ME!?
We drank, bought raffle tix, got noshes from the tuxedoed waiters, chomped on the best damn chocolate ever.

Julie's story always makes me cry with pride for her, and with wonder:  could I be as brave?
I don't think so, but I have her courage as example.  She was wonderful.

I met/saw Conason!  Brock!  Carville!  (Holy cow!)  Faun!  The ZenFerrets!  Flight!  Don from OK!
The Minnesota Connection!!  I was lucky enough to speak with some truly great minds, Gene, Nancy.
Malcm is a heeeuuuge fan of James I am...and we have so many more heroes now, you Bartcoppers.
Bart, for one.

And Bart, I saw your face, you handsome dog.  (I was the suicide blonde who told you that Shirley Manson
was looking for you.)  Bart, if you wanna be shy, that's cool.  But I previously had visualized you as the
sugar-gulping hick from Men in Black.  Kinda like the demon spawn of Stephen King and Joe Bob Briggs.
BART, you are NOT at all an ADD hick.  If  _I_ were President,  I would make you an Ambassador.
Pick your country.  Make it a good one.  I'm thinking, Mexico.

At the end of a perfect evening, we made our way back to the hotel, where Sam the Bartender scored
some nice salads for us.  Aiming to hit the bed and not the floor, we retired, toasted everyone's health
in absentia with a round of Chinaco shots, and slept happy.

The next day, we detoxed with a square breakfast at the Hawk and Dove Pub on Capitol Hill.  Then we
visited the Botanical Gardens...and after that, the FDR Memorial.  It was probably the boozy remnants of
the night before, but I became very very emotional reading FDR's words, thinking of our instant national
leadership.  Would I be alone in thinking that Dubya needs to be dragged down to the FDR by the scruff
of his blueblood neck, and made to read every word?  Malcm reminds me that he wouldn't internalize any
of it anyhow, and it would just be a waste of time.  The FDR is truly a unique memorial and very moving.

We went by the Library of Congress, but it was closed on Sunday.  It tops our list for next time.
There's always got to be a next time in Washington D.C.

Late that evening, we located a fairly authentic Mexican food joint in the barrios of D.C.;  they served
a damn decent chile relleno and chicken enchilada platter.  Fresh salsa, chips and cold Dos Equis.

We drank beer at Blackies and saw Secretary of Health Tommy Thompson having drinks with an
Assistant Deputy Attorney.  We tried not to stare, while trying to figure out what they were talking
about.  The bartender at Blackies is a bottomeless well of political lore.  The stories THAT man
can tell would fill several large and fairly sensational books.

Before crashing for the evening, we packed our bags and toasted to the health of Julie, Bart and
absent friends once more with the now depleted bottle of Chinaco.

I would have dozed on the plane -- I flew Continental and we were packed in like it was a livestock transport.
I don't know why they don't just pull out the seats and just give us crates with a hole in the slats through which
to stick our heads.  The gentleman in the seat next to me saw my copy of "Blinded by the Light" -- I am
participating in the effort to index this book to make it all the more of the Jedi Sabre once it is
easily searchable.  He was excited to talk to another liberal -- and the direct flight passed quickly.  Mom picked
me up at the airport.  My Mom is the eloquent and buttkicking trollbasher who posts as Hjaybeeeee.
She had to hear about everything...we relived it all over again.

Weekends just don't get any better than this.

Later that week, after my bipolar boss had chewed me out, I had tripped and fell and gashed both my hand
and knee wide open, the kid's pet rabbit got tangled in the cable wiring and unhinged the entire entertainment
center, and the sheer drudgery of a 9-5 job was hard upon me, after all that, I am still buzzed.  I'm high on JulieCon.

I am inspired, I am hopeful for the future, I see us taking back the lost seats of state government, the House,
the Senate and ultimately, I see us taking back our country.  I see us taking a page from Julie's book and
rising above the muckrakers and bottomfeeders to rebuild this country.

Bartcoppers, JulieConners, I was very pleased to make your collective acquaintance.
See ya next time!


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