the suzi parker files

Politics, Pop Culture and Ponderings

Posts Tagged ‘George W. Bush

No Cheerleaders at Super Bowl XLV — Sad Day for Tradition

leave a comment »

Confession: I once owned a pair of pom-poms.

Back in the 1970s, at age 4, it seemed the right thing to ask my parents for as a gift. The fluffy red and white pom-poms were official and expensive — cheap just wouldn’t do for my nascent cheerleading career. I shook them during college football games and at least one Super Bowl.

But little girls hoping for cheering inspiration at Sunday’s Super Bowl XLV game in Dallas between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers won’t get it. For the first time in the Super Bowl’s 45-year history, there will be no cheerleaders on the sidelines.

Neither the Steelers nor the Packers have cheerleading squads. Four other NFL teams — New York Giants, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions — also do without. The Steelers were ahead of the pack when they decided in 1970 to abandon the Steelerettes, and in 1988, Green Bay decided their fans didn’t care too much for the Sideliners. (Maybe their name had something to do with their fate.)

Many who see cheerleading as sexist are applauding the no-cheerleader zone this weekend.

For others, cheerleading is an institution — they argue it’s a legitimate sport The long list of stars and politicians who have cheered either in high school or college includes Ann-Margaret, Halle Berry and Paula Abdul, along with presidents George W. Bush, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower.

But on the professional side of sports the tradition is not as strong and male cheerleaders are practically non-existent except the Baltimore Ravens, which has the only professional co-ed team in the country. It’s the women who shimmy and shake in skimpy outfits for football and basketball teams like the Los Angeles Lakers, and are often better described as dance squad members than cheerleaders.

The modern version of the cheerleader began in 1971 when Dallas Cowboys owner Tex Schramm wanted stunning model-like women who could dance like Radio City Rockettes. Ta-da! The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders sizzled onto the football field.

As members of the National Football Association Cheerleading and the National Basketball Association Cheerleading, these women are also involved in charity work, modeling and fundraisers. They pose for calendars and posters. The try-outs are competitive and physically tough.

“In order to try out for pro cheer squads, you have to prepare yourself mentally, physically and socially. Pro cheerleading squads are looking for the best of the best,” advises the website

Oh, and the pay? Not much. According to Dancecheer, cheerleaders may receive between $15 and $50 per game. And pro athletes? Millions.

For many cheerleaders, the reason for cheering is to launch a career in entertainment, broadcasting or modeling. Maybe if they are lucky, they can cash in like Paula Abdul.

Cheerleaders, however, have always seemed to get a raw deal at the professional sports level, even in half-time productions.

Once upon a time, Super Bowl half-time shows were almost quaint, instead of gigantic spectacles. They featured college marching bands and the innocent Up With People troupe. During the first Super Bowl between the Packers and Kansas City Chiefs in 1967, the Anaheim (Calif.) High School Drill Team performed. In 1983, the Los Angeles Super Drill Team performed. According to the event’s history, the last time any drill team performed was in 1987, when various Southern California teams were invited to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

The teams’ cheerleaders always stayed on the sidelines.

Will 2011 be a watershed moment for NFL cheerleaders? Will the league decide they simply don’t need any pretty girls on the sidelines cheering on their teams anymore?

The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders are making sure that doesn’t happen. The pop culture icons, who made many a Generation-X boy melt in their blue-and-white halter tops and hot pants, have decided to give it their all this weekend. While they won’t be inside the arena on Sunday, they are seizing the Super Bowl moment.

On Thursday, the cheerleaders were at the Super Bowl Media Center. They signed autographs and posed for pictures. According to The Kansas City Star, fans ignored baseball legend Nolan Ryan to see the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders — a legend in a state where the pom-pom is patented.

Some fans will send kudos to the Packers and Steelers for saying good-bye to cheerleaders years ago. But for some, pom-pom waving girls on the sidelines are as American as football itself. There’s something to be said for tradition. Just ask the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.


Watch Out, Sarah Palin: Barbara Bush Is the Original Mama Grizzly

leave a comment »

Barbara Bush is the grande dame of the GOP.

And she finally has said something that a lot of Republicans – not to mention Democrats and independents – have been thinking about Sarah Palin. Barbara, never one to mince words, shared her opinion about Palin on CNN’s “Larry King Live” Monday night.

“I sat next to her once,” Barbara Bush told King. “Thought she was beautiful. And I think she’s very happy in Alaska, and I hope she’ll stay there.”

The former first lady’s sentiment touched a nerve in tea party circles on Monday. On Glenn Beck’s radio show, he hinted that her remark was shallow before calling her “oat meal box lady.” He attempted to backtrack by adding that Barbara was his “favorite Bush.”

Barbara Bush’s comments about Palin may have – intentionally or not – flamed a fire that could scorch through the Republican Party in the next two years, truly pitting the tried-and-true Republican establishment against Sarah Palin’s social network, grassroots movement.

As one GOP insider told me, “Sarah Palin can continue playing her victim card to rail against the Republican establishment.”

Then again, such discord might just trigger a White House run by Jeb Bush.

Palin is not likely to take Barbara’s comments in stride. While she may not tweet about them, she will likely get her media army, in which Beck ranks as an officer, to lambaste the Bush family. That may be a big mistake.

Related Stories

For many, Barbara Bush has always appeared as the warm, cuddly grandmother who bakes cookies and plays with grandchildren. But she’s hardly such a teddy bear. She’s as hardcore and blatantly honest as an anarchist punk rocker. Remember what she said in 2005 after visiting Hurricane Katrina refugees in Houston’s Astrodome? “What I’m hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas,” she said at the time. “Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality.”

Last week, former President George W. Bush told “Today” host Matt Lauer a harrowing story about how his mother suffered a miscarriage, placed the fetus in a jar and showed it to him.

“I never expected to see the remains of the fetus, which she had saved in a jar to bring to the hospital,” Bush writes in his new book, “Decision Points.”

He told Lauer: “The purpose of the story wasn’t to try show the evolution of a pro-life point of view. It was really to show how my mom and I developed a relationship.”

That’s honesty to a fault.

But as the late Marjorie Williams noted in her 1992 exhaustive Vanity Fair profile, Barbara Bush can be both old guard privileged in pearls and down-to-earth on the farm, but she pulls absolutely no punches. She didn’t when her husband was running for re-election against Bill Clinton, and she doesn’t now at age 85.

Williams, who died in 2005, wrote that even Barbara’s stepmother was fearful of her. Aides and staff who had worked with the Bushes over the years described Barbara as “difficult,” “tough as nails,” “demanding” and “autocratic.” A 1988 campaign staffer recalls that “when she frowned it had the capacity to send shudders through a lot of people.”

In the same profile, Williams wrote that former President George H.W. Bush would tell reporters who had angered Barbara with something they had written about her husband, “Look out, the Silver Fox is really mad at you.”

Is Barbara mad at Palin, the tea party and now Beck after his rant on Monday?

With a pedigree rooted in the conservative moneyed East Coast elite, Barbara Bush is the polar opposite of Palin, the tea party’s queen. Maybe the fractured Republican Party of 2010 reminds the Bushes of the 1992 election when third party candidate Texan Ross Perot assisted in costing them a second term in the White House.

In the same Larry King interview, George H.W. Bush said, “Well I don’t know what [the tea party] really is. Some of the ideas make a lot of sense. But how it fits in, I know it was in the paper today, they were talking about what the tea party would do to get the Republicans in Congress to do something. But these people have all been elected, whether they’re tea partiers or not, so I’m confused by it frankly.”

A lot of other people are equally unsure about the tea party movement. People are not mystified by the Bush family, however.

The Bush family is a known commodity, a political dynasty not to be dismissed. Former President George W. Bush is currently enjoying a resounding new surge in popularity thanks to his memoir. He’s on talk shows and at book signings around the country, attempting to polish his political legacy, like presidents before him. Then there’s Jeb Bush, the son who was supposed to be president but stepped aside for his brother.

Last week, Jeb Bush told CNN’s Candy Crowley, “I really have to stay focused on this goal of achieving some financial independence, financial security for my family.” He added, “You never say never about anything.”

Who knows their children better than a mother? No one. Barbara Bush may have been, consciously or unconsciously, laying the groundwork for a Jeb Bush White House run. Jeb Bush is seen by some Republicans as the only potential candidate who is the whole political package on policy and politicking.

Palin may have her Mama Grizzlies lined up, but Barbara Bush is the original Mama Grizzly with a dynasty to protect. As Palin writes in her new book out Tuesday in bookstores, “Grizzly bears — mamas or otherwise — are beautiful, ferocious, serious-as-a-heart-attack creatures. When you come upon one, you don’t give her a hug. You tread lightly. Because when the ones she loves are threatened, she rises up.”

It sounds like she’s talking about Barbara Bush.

Written by suziparker1313

March 8, 2011 at 10:42 pm

Zombie Nation: A Political Virus in the Walking Dead Among Us

leave a comment »

Good-bye, vampires. We have become a zombie nation.

And not just because of the millions of anti-depressants prescribed each year by doctors. Zombies, the flesh-eating, brain-hungry ghouls, tap into a national sentiment of impending doom and isolation.

Zombies are currently red hot and everywhere. The undead have recently conquered television, books, movies, video games and the Internet. Zombie walks frequently occur across the country. Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” has been re-written to “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.” Even George Romero’s 1968 zombie classic, “Night of the Living Dead,” has recently been turned into an interactive YouTube game.

For the last few years, sexy, smart vampires who quote poetry and like rock music have wooed teen girls and boys along with middle-aged women longing for a kiss from “Twilight’s” beautiful Edward Cullen. “Twilight” was the biggest best-selling book in 2008.

But such gauzy Gothic romance, with dashing vampires dancing in our dreams, has vanished. Enter mindless, horrifying corpses that remind us of our impending doom and isolation.

The apocalypse is right around the corner. Isolation is better than uniting. Grab your gun, your wife, your kids because they’re coming to get you. Every man, woman and child for himself. Forget about your neighbors. Besides, they probably aren’t on the same side of the political zombie DMZ anyway.

Conservatives feel attacked by liberal zombies like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid who devour the freedoms, which were set up by the Founding Fathers. After this month’s midterm elections, liberals think the red symbolizes the blood and brains of progressives, and there could be more gore coming in 2012. Then there’s Sarah Palin, who has become Queen Zombie with a loyal army that defends her, her family and her Mama Grizzlies.

Everyone is lying. They all want domination. No one can be trusted. We’ve been there before as a country.

When “Night of the Living Dead” premiered in October 1968, the country was at a critical stage. Gloom surrounded everything. It had already been a dismal decade — John F. Kennedy’s assassination, the Vietnam war – leading into that year.

In January 1968, the Viet Cong launched the Tet Offensive. On March 31, President Lyndon B. Johnson announced he would not run for reelection. Four days later, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis. Riots erupted. In June, Robert F. Kennedy was shot and killed in Los Angeles. War protests broke out frequently. Unrest ruled. By the end of the year, zombies had invaded the country. As Robert Ebert wrote about 1968’s “Night of the Living Dead:”

“The kids in the audience were stunned. There was almost complete silence. The movie had stopped being delightfully scary about halfway through, and had become unexpectedly terrifying. There was a little girl across the aisle from me, maybe nine years old, who was sitting very still in her seat and crying… It’s hard to remember what sort of effect this movie might have had on you when you were six or seven. But try to remember. At that age, kids take the events on the screen seriously, and they identify fiercely with the hero. When the hero is killed, that’s not an unhappy ending but a tragic one: Nobody got out alive. It’s just over, that’s all.”

Flash forward to 2010. The country is still waging two wars. Citizens have lost faith in their government and leaders. The economy is unstable. Terrorists are looming in the shadows. Countries such as Chile and Haiti, where the legend of zombies thrive in voodoo, are destroyed by catastrophic natural disasters. Even flying to an exotic locale for escape is tainted by fear as the TSA, checking every nook and cranny of the body, reminds everyone of more fear. It sounds like a script for a horror movie. Next line: An unknown creature is coming to get us. And it’s not as sexy as a vampire.

No, zombies are toxic, gritty and gory with exposed bone and hanging flesh. They wear tatters instead of Gothic romantic frills or leather jackets. Zombies don’t quote the Greek philosophers and Percy Bysshe Shelley. They grunt and moan. While vampires live in castles and mansions, zombies live in the grave, reminding us of our ultimate destination.

President George W. Bush preached that he was a uniter not a divider. That mantra didn’t exactly resonate. Obama won his campaign with too much promise of bringing sunshine into the country once he hit the Oval Office. Everyone could feel warm and cuddly like a Care Bear once again. That’s not working so well for him either.

Jon Stewart’s recent “Restore Sanity and/or Fear” rally may have been right on the mark. In AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” a new show about zombies, of course, desperation for survival pushes many of the characters to the brink of insanity. As a country, we may not be far from that.

Written by suziparker1313

March 8, 2011 at 10:40 pm

A Cheerleader and Her Free-Speech Rights, Tied Up in Court

leave a comment »

A high school cheerleader, kicked off the squad for refusing to cheer for a player she said raped her, is fighting in court for free-speech rights she said were denied her.

The case has attracted national attention, including support for the woman from domestic-violence and First Amendment groups. The (now-former) cheerleader has appeared on CNN, and 15,000 people have an online petition asking the school district in her small town of Silsbee, Texas to apologize to her.

In the fall of 2008, the cheerleader, identified in court documents as H.S., was at a post-football game party at a friend’s home when she said three boys, including the school’s star basketball player, Rakheem Bolton, took her into a game room and sexually assaulted her. He and the others were arrested, but a grand jury declined to indict them. A year later, however, Bolton was indicted on a felony charge of sexual assault of a child, according to The Silsbee Bee. Two months ago, Bolton pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of simple assault in the case, was fined $2,500 and ordered to perform 150 hours of community service and take an anger-management course.

Several months after the assault, during an away basketball game, when Bolton went to the free throw line, H.S. refused to cheer. H.S.’s attorney, Larry Watts, told Politics Daily that the cheer was “Two, four, six, eight, ten, Come on, Rakheem, put it in.”
H.S. said she had previously taken such a stand and refused to cheer for him. But this time, the principal and other school officials told her to cheer or leave. She and her parents left, and she was subsequently cut from the squad, Watts said.

In May 2009, the family sued the Silsbee school district, Richard Bain, Jr., the superintendent; Gaye Lokey, the principal; Sissy McInnis, the cheerleading team’s adviser; Bolton, the basketball player and David Sheffield, the district attorney in federal court on grounds that H.S.’s 14th Amendment rights (especially her right to equal protection) had been violated. According to an account in the Washington Post, H.S.’s lawyer also argued that the district attorney “violated the First Amendment by retaliating against H.S. for filing sexual assault charges by revealing details about the case to the public.” H.S. contended she was punished because of her “symbolic expression” not to cheer for the player.

The defendants moved to dismiss her complaint, and the judge agreed, saying H.S.’s lawyer failed to clearly state an actionable claim. The judge gave H.S. a chance to amend her complaint and refile it. She did, and the defendants again moved to dismiss. The case was indeed dismissed, and H.S. appealed to the Fifth Circuit.

On Sept. 16, a three-judge panel of the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld the dismissal, ruling that the cheerleader’s First Amendment right to free speech was not violated because in her role as a cheerleader, she “served as a mouthpiece” for the school, not herself. It further ruled that school officials “had no duty to promote (her) message by allowing her to cheer or not cheer, as she saw fit.” It also ruled that her act constituted interference “with the work of the school” because as a cheerleader, she was at the game “for the purpose of cheering, a position she undertook voluntarily.” Finally, it ruled that the cheerleader and her family must pay court costs for bringing about a frivolous suit.

Last week, H.S. filed a petition for a re-hearing en banc, requesting that all judges on the bench — not just a three-judge panel — hear the case. Watts said his client has no legal right to have the entire court hear the issue. A majority of the judges will have to vote to allow that. He said that the case is extraordinary in one regard.

“There aren’t many times you’re going to have a rape victim silenced or being censored classified as disruptive speech,” Watts told Politics Daily. “Her actions were not disruptive. The school officials were watching her and waiting. She was targeted. But because she was, we’re in this situation. The court has now used this to try muzzle the free speech of students even more.”

Symbolic speech is often described by legal scholars as purposefully and discernibly conveying a particular message or statement to those viewing it. It is distinguished from pure speech, which is spoken or written.

Would the cheerleader have had a stronger case if she held up a sign calling the basketball played a rapist?

Not necessarily, said Keith Werhan, chair of constitutional law at Tulane University in New Orleans. In recent years, the courts have restricted some speech by students, he said.
“I would say this conveying of an idea, expressing her feelings toward this person, is a First Amendment protected activity,” Werhan said. “It seems virtually cruel to me for the school to enforce this and force her off the squad. It’s an increasing lack of regard of individual rights and a broader trend in this area of jurisprudence. This case is an amazing dramatic display of that.”

Legal experts say the Fifth Circuit panel that dismissed H.S.’s appeal is one of the most conservative courts in the country. Emilio Garza and Edith Clement were once on President George W. Bush’s short list for a Supreme Court vacancy. Priscilla Owen, a former Texas Supreme Court justice, is also on the court in New Orleans. She was a Bush appointee whose confirmation was slowed by a Democratic filibuster.

Written by suziparker1313

March 8, 2011 at 10:35 pm

Gov. Perry Wins Unprecedented Third Term in Texas

leave a comment »

Republican Rick Perry, Texas’ longest-serving governor, won an unprecedented third term Tuesday night.

His Democratic opponent, Bill White, the former mayor of Houston, gave Perry a strong challenge. It was the first election loss for White since beginning his political career in 2003.

Perry watched the election results at Texas Disposal Systems’ Exotic Game Ranch in Buda, a small town outside Austin.

Like Republicans all across the country, Perry used widespread anti-Washington sentiment to defeat his opponent. White said in interviews leading into Tuesday’s election that Perry rehashed GOP talking points and used President’s Obama slipping popularity to nationalize the race instead of defending his own record. Perry seldom mentioned White, who worked as the deputy secretary of energy in the Clinton administration in the 1990s.
While White, a lawyer, earned endorsements in the The Dallas Morning News and the The Houston Chronicle, he had an uphill climb. The Morning News wrote that Perry had done “relatively little during a decade at the helm of state government.”
Perry became governor in 2000 when George W. Bush resigned from office to seek the presidency. He has since run twice, fending off a long line of challengers. Earlier this year, he defeated Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson and businesswoman Debra Medina in the Republican primary.
In 2006, Perry faced Democrat Chris Bell as well as author and comedian Kinky Friedman. In 2002, Democrat and businessman Tony Sanchez spent $75 million on the race but won just 40 percent of the vote.
Perry seized the tea party movement early, pondering Texas’ secession from the union at a tea party rally last year. At the time, he said, “My hope is that America, and Washington in particular, will pay attention. We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, who knows what may come of that? But Texas is a very unique place, and a pretty independent lot to boot.”
When asked about the secession comment, Perry told Politics Daily’s Matt Lewis, “I totally understand how distressed people across this country are at Washington and Washington’s disdain for people’s personal freedom.” He said he tipped his hat to the tea party for “getting people to go back and read the Constitution.”
White ran on his record as Houston mayor. He received the endorsements of environmental groups for pushing practical measures to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil with more production of domestic natural gas and greater reliance on other renewable domestic resources. He also touted Houston’s job growth under his leadership.
As late as Monday, White lobbed attacks on Perry. His campaign sent out a press release hinting that the governor might leave office early to run for president in 2012 and is just prepping himself for the national stage. The release also said that Perry was planning a tour for his upcoming book, “Fed Up: Our Fight to Save America From Washington,” soon after the election. Another potential candidate in 2012, Newt Gingrich, wrote the book’s foreword.
According to The Associated Press, Perry says in the book that he is fed up with “prohibition of school prayer, the redefinition of marriage, the nationalization of health care, the proliferation of federal criminal laws, interference with local education, the increased regulation of food — [Washington] even telling us what kind of light bulb we can use.”

Written by suziparker1313

March 8, 2011 at 10:25 pm

Maine Governor Candidate Busts Opponent for ‘Bush Terrorist’ Photo

leave a comment »

Democratic Maine gubernatorial candidate Libby Mitchell has been called out by her opponent, Paul LePage, for posing with a framed document that has an image of President George W. Bush describing him as an “International Terrorist.” In the picture, Mitchell is laughing.

The fracas began Monday night at a gubernatorial debate when Mitchell, the country’s only woman to serve as both the president of a state senate and house speaker, brought up some past comments that LePage made about President Barack Obama. LePage told a group of fisherman that if elected, he’d be on the front page frequently, telling Obama to “go to hell.” Monday night, Mitchell said that a governor must be respectful of a president.


LePage, the mayor of Waterville* and a businessman, fired back that he’d seen a picture of Mitchell mocking Bush, implying it was none too respectful. Mitchell denied the picture existed. But after the debate, LePage’s campaign released the photo. Mitchell, a 30-year veteran of state government, has since apologized.


“A person who was at a Democratic fundraiser earlier in the year with Libby Mitchell sent it to us,” Lance Dutson, spokesman for the state GOP, told Politics Daily. “This person was disgusted by Mitchell’s hypocrisy of attacking LePage about his Obama comments when there was this picture out there.”


The photo had also been previously posted on Facebook. The Democratic Party of Maine said the picture was taken in a private home during a light-hearted moment.


LePage, too, has apologized for his statements regarding Obama.

Polls show the contentious gubernatorial race is in a dead heat. The Republican Party recently launched a lengthy online ad attacking Mitchell for lavish renovations to the statehouse when she was speaker of the House. In turn, the Democratic Party released a two-minute ad titled “Statesman or Bully?”

Written by suziparker1313

March 8, 2011 at 10:05 pm

Sarah Palin to Obama: Be Honest in Address To Nation

leave a comment »

Sarah Palin had some suggestions for President Barack Obama before he spoke to the nation Tuesday night about Iraq.

In a Facebook post late Tuesday afternoon titled “Humility and Honesty About Iraq Can Inspire Trust,” Palin said she wanted Obama to show “grace, humility and some honesty before the American people tonight. Please don’t declare ‘Mission Accomplished’ and then saunter away with an assumption that your opposition to the Iraq strategy was key to our troops’ success.”

Palin also wanted Obama to say he was wrong about the surge in 2007, when Obama wasn’t 100 percent behind sending more troops to Iraq.

“Admit that the strategy long advocated by Republicans, proposed by President Bush, led by Generals Petraeus and Odierno, and executed by thousands of America’s finest – our brave men and women in uniform – brought violence under control and made responsible withdrawals possible,” she wrote.

In an earlier Twitter post, Palin wrote, “Obama speech tonite may make u dig out ur old Orwell books so rewritten history can be deciphered, depending on who gets credit 4 Iraq surge.”
In her Facebook posts, she argued that White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said on “The Today Show” Tuesday that Obama as a presidential candidate supported the additional troops. In her post, Palin goes to great lengths to argue that Obama did not support more troops.

Without such a surge as Bush ordered, Palin said, the United States would have suffered a “crushing defeat.”
Palin criticized Obama for “willful blindness” against his assessment that the 2007 surge did not work. She said her “hope is that tonight he stays consistent and looks backwards, and in this case acknowledges that credit should be given where credit is due.”

Her post immediately generated comments from her followers. “Thank you Sarah, you give me such encouragement in this dark time,” one wrote. “God bless you Madame President.”

Written by suziparker1313

March 8, 2011 at 8:49 pm