Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Would that be chocolate volcano cake?

When they arrived in Baton Rouge, my mother was already 4-½-months pregnant. I was what folks in the insurance industry now call a "pre-existing condition." To find work, my dad picked up the yellow pages and started calling local businesses. Even after landing a job, he could still not afford to pay for my delivery, so he worked out an installment plan with the doctor... Bobby Jindal, 2/25/09

Raj was the daughter of a bank manager. She first came to America on a scholarship to study for her doctorate in nuclear physics at Louisiana State University. She brought along her husband... the only one of the nine children in his family to attend school past fifth grade. At the time the couple immigrated, Raj was three months pregnant with their first son, Piyush. Though the university health plan denied coverage for the birth (it was ruled a "preexisting condition"), the one-month paid maternity leave was awarded as promised — that was the perk that had tipped the scales for Amar, who'd been hesitant to leave home, having worked his way up through the ranks to the respected position of assistant professor of engineering at Punjab University in Chandigarh... Esquire, July '08

It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor. It's a neighborly day in this Beauty Wood. It's a beautiful day to be neighborly. I have always wanted to have a neighbor, just like you. I always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you, and I do, so lets make the most of this beautiful day. Since we're together, we might as well say...

Hi, neighbor. I'm Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana.

I was thinking about something. Tonight, we witnessed a great moment in the history of our republic. We really did. In the very chamber where Congress once voted to abolish slavery. Do you know what slavery is? It's when somebody makes you work really really hard, and you have to do it, because he's the neighborhood bully. And today our very first African American president stepped forward to address the state of our union. My goodness. I think that's really something.

You know, regardless of party, all Americans are moved by the president's personal story, but my story is every bit as good. Do you know what the word bullshit means? No? Good?

Just like the president's father, my parents were poor immigrants who came to this country from a far away land. When they arrived in Baton Rouge, I was already in my mama's belly. I was what folks in the tax business now call a preexisting deduction.

True story - to find work, my dad picked up the Yellow Pages and looked for the graduate school . Because education is important for those who can afford it. But six weeks later, after he graduated and found a job, he could still not afford for me to be born, and so he worked out an installment plan with the doctor. Do you know what an installment plan is? It's where you pay the man for a long long time, although not too very long since my father was already pulling down a good salary. Fortunately for me, he never missed a payment, or they might have taken me back. Ha, ha.

As a child, I remember going to the grocery store with my dad. It was called the Piggly Wiggly. That's a funny name, isn't it? That's what I love about the South. Growing up in India, my father had seen extreme poverty on the family TV. When you looked at the shelves for soap, there would only be one type - 'Grit Soap'. But as we walked through the aisles of the Piggly Wiggly, looking at the endless variety of soap on the shelves, he would tell me: "Piyush, in Americans you can be zestfully clean." And I am. Are you? I hope so.

As the president made clear this evening, we are now in a time much like my daddy used to know all too well - a time when many in the downscale class, as Mister Underpants would say - have woe aplenty.

Let's talk about you, okay? Many of you have lost your jobs, and that's really very sad for you. Others have seen your college and retirement savings dwindle, or are worried about losing your healthcare and your homes. Wave goodbye! Should I care just because you're my neighbor?

You see, I've always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you, but now I'm having second thoughts. What's your opinion, King Friday? Uh huh... Uh huh... I see... What kind of cake? I think you speak wisely, good King Friday, and I agree that if these people would just apply themselves...

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