'Tis the Silly Season: Give the Gift of Politics!
Gift Guide recommendations from the Chronicle news staff
Cheney roasting on an open fire ... Ashcroft nipping at his nose ... Yes, the holidays fill the Chronicle news staff with, uh, good cheer, and you can share in our high spirits by giving the gift of politics this season. Herewith, some of our favorite trinkets, tchotchkes, and swag for your shopping pleasure:
Two Unemployed Democrats Co. is based here in Austin and offers wearable politics for like-minded non-Republicans at its Web site, www.seeyageorge.com. Designs include "Like Father Like Son -- One Term Only," "Don't Blame Me (I Voted With the Majority)," and "One Person. One Vote. (May not apply in your state)." Most shirts $13.95. Other items available.
Of course, anti-Bushism abounds in the gift market, much of it smarmy and cheap. A cut above in quality and perspicacity is Micah Wright(www.micahwright.com), who offers his eerily apt retro-WWII-propaganda poster pastiches (themes include "Invest in Invasion! Re-Elect George Bush!" "John Ashcroft's Watching YOU!" and "Hey YOU! Stop Asking Questions!") as T-shirts, cups, etc. at CafeShops.com (www.cafeshops.com/cp/store.aspx?s=warposter or follow the link from his Web site).
More earnest and perhaps more in the peaceful spirit of the season: Build awareness of Texas' central role in world militarization with your Made in Texas campaign T-shirt. The M.I.T. campaign, sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee, highlights "War: Our Biggest Export" on the Austin-designed, Austin-produced shirts featuring all your favorite Texas defense contractors. The suggested minimum donation is $12. Preview and order online, and learn more about the M.I.T. campaign at www.madeintexas.us.
If your leanings are proudly uni-partisan, you can purchase Texas Democratic Party logo items -- shirts, bumper stickers, caps, a nifty desk clock, and so on -- at www.txdemocrats.org; surprisingly, the Texas GOP does not sell its stuff (hush, you) on its Web site, but you can shop for your favorite pachyderm at www.republicangifts.com or www.georgewbushstore.com. The latter is operated by Spalding Group, the official licensee for George W. Bush swag. Aren't you glad to know the President of These United States has a licensing deal? As for the other parties, the Libertarian Party of Texas has no online shopping option, and the state Green Party's e-tail setup is still under construction.
Someday, all that yick-yack will be worth a lot of money, right? Well, "a lot" is a relative term, but collectors of political memorabilia abound and have their own association, the American Political Items Collectors or APIC (apic.us). One member, Austin's Drew Julian, offers items for sale on his Web site at www.io.com/political. In addition to buttons, posters, and ephemera from campaigns you remember (candidates from all over the country and for every office), Julian has many items from days gone by. The old-time Austin yellow dog of your acquaintance might delight in a Creekmore Fath for Congress matchbook ($4), a Bob Eckhardt for Legislature push card (also $4), and several Frances Farenthold for Governor posters ($3 each).
Another politicollector, Ron Gunzburger -- webmaster at www.politics1.com -- holds periodic online auctions of buttons and such; the current auction, running through January, features "Hispanics for Bush/Quayle" and "Athletes for Reagan/Bush" buttons, among others. Speaking of auctions, there's always eBay (www.ebay.com), which last we checked was offering 468 different Enron logo items for sale.
Calendars are always a popular stocking stuffer, and at www.bushcalendar.com you can find "They Misunderestimated Me!" -- a page-a-day calendar of stupid things said by Our American President. Celebrate the new year with "more and more of our imports come from overseas" on Jan. 2. For a more edifying page-turner, the 2003 Southwest Labor History Calendar features 86 photos of regional labor history; order from the George Meany Center's Southwest Organizing School in Santa Fe. Call 505/992-8477 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
After all that shopping, how about relaxing with a little music? Times have been tough for the Singing Senators since they cut "Let Freedom Sing!" in Nashville in 1998, with John Ashcroft leaving to pursue solo projects and Jim Jeffords splitting with the group, citing creative differences. The hammy, flat-voiced attorney general's "Let the Eagles Soar" has been in heavy rotation among aghast Web users (it's on the CNN Web site), but his earlier albums (there are at least three) are sadly out of print. You can, however, pick up Ashcroft's book Lessons From a Father to His Son at Audible.com.
Meanwhile, Utah's Orrin Hatch (not one of the original SingSens) is rocking both the House and the Senate; in his free time, the chair-apparent of the Judiciary Committee has written more than 300 songs, some recorded by Donny Osmond, Gladys Knight, and Brooks and Dunn. You can order Hatch's own recordings (and songbooks) at www.hatchmusic.com, which features audio clips and not-to-be-missed pics of Hatch with his musician friends (Osmond, Paul Williams, Barry Manilow). The seminal Heal Our Land features "God Bless Our Homes and Families," "America Rocks!" and "The Answer's Not in Washington," among other classic tracks. The CDs are $15.98; cassettes and songbooks list for $9.98.