Friday, October 31, 2008

Sex and Grounding for "Crazies"

Cheshire has an amazing post called "Sex with Crazies" that I think any person with disabilities should check out. As someone who is determined to live unashamed of being quite mad, I simply adore this post. It feels like she dug around in my head and picked out exactly how I feel about this.

Sex allows me to physically connect with my partner, who is the only person whose judgment of reality I know I can trust more than my own. Sex makes him real to me and it makes me real to myself. It's a source of certainty in a world where I'm sometimes not quite sure about a lot of things. In essence, it is something I need.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Modern-day Thanksgiving Story

Imagine this:

You and your family live on a house with a farm. Y'all own it. The deed is in you and your wife's name. When you die, your plan is for your children to inherit it. Now, let's say I decide to leave where I'm living right now and come on your property. Maybe I'm half-dead by the time I reach your farm, so--out of the kindness of your heart--you give me water and food and you even let me come and spend a few nights in your guest room while I recover from my trip. After a few days, I thank you and leave out of the front door.

A week later, you notice that some of your livestock hasn't come up to the feeding trough so you go out to walk the perimeter of your property to make sure there are no holes in the fence. As you get to the edge of your field, you suddenly see some people having a rather fine barbecue celebration on your land. You go up and take a closer look and you see me. However, this time I'm not alone. Now I have my cousins and my grandmother and my childhood neighbors with me, too. We've already started taking down your fence and using it to build more permanent housing because the tents that we brought with us are pretty ragged. We were also pretty hungry when we arrived, so we killed a few of the cows and pigs that we saw ambling around in the field. We were thirsty, so we started digging some holes to make wells, too.

I walk up and I give you a big hug and let you know that since I saw how friendly you were the last time, I brought a few of my loved ones to meet you and they liked the place so much that they've decided to settle down here. I then tell you that this seemed like a great idea to me because I really enjoyed my last visit, so it looks like we're going to be neighbors. You are really unprepared for what you've seen, so you go back home to regroup your thoughts and talk to your family about how y'all want to deal with this.

This land has been in your family for hundreds of years. It's not a vast property but it is big enough to support the needs of your family. You have worked this land with your own two hands and those of your adult sons and daughters. You are very careful about how you use this land so that when they grow up, it will be able to support their families, too. You had no desire to be any one's landlord. You just wanted to take care of this inheritance from your ancestors.

When you and your family sit down and talk about it, there is a bit of disagreement about how to deal with the invaders. Your family members want to go and take a look at the scene for themselves before they make up their mind. The next day your sons go out to the edge of the field where my fellow immigrants are preparing the cows and pigs they just killed that morning so that the barbecue can start back up again. Your sons are pretty indignant at the fact that my crew has killed even more of the livestock. They start yelling at us and picking up the carcasses that my brother just slaughtered. My brother thinks that since he killed them they belong to him so he kills one of your sons and the other one barely makes it back home alive.

Well, since you sent these hostile, invading, thieving sons of yours to come and raid our food supply, we now declare open season on anyone from your family that tries to come close to our newly built homes. At this point, your patience is spent. You just want me and my folks to go away. After two weeks of trying to make this clear to me with no avail, an emissary arrives at your doorstep, waving the white flag and possessing a message from me. The note says that I'm really sorry that my brother killed your son and that we ate so much of your livestock. I tell you all about how my brother always was a hot-head, but I'm nothing like him and I certainly don't condone what he did. I let you know that he was severely lectured about what he did and has shown contrition.

The gist of the message is that it's pretty cold out there in the fields and even though we tore down the entire fence, there still wasn't enough wood for us to build adequate housing. Therefore, we need you to let us crash in your guest bedroom for the winter and if you do this, when the Spring comes, we promise we'll leave you alone completely and start being self-sufficient. Oh yeah, I'm going to need you to share your food supply because we haven't been able to find any more cows and pigs lately and we don't like the taste of the corn, which is the only thing edible thing we've found on our land.

You confer with your wife and daughters and last surviving son. It's cutting things close but, if you are careful, you and your family think you can survive the winter even if you shared some of your food with us. Together you decide that you'll give my emissary a fourth of the food you have stored away, but you let him know that you simply can't allow my entire family to move in.

Well, I'm really excited to see that you decided to share some of the remaining food from the land we share with you. Once I eat, I can think a bit more clearly and suddenly I realize that it's really quite unreasonable for you to expect me to let my grandmother and grandfather and nieces and nephews freeze to death when I know you have that empty guestroom in your house. I mean, the idea of freezing babies and old people is considered absolutely barbaric where I come from.

Where I come from, the religion teaches that old people should be revered. I've seen the way your kids barely get along with each other and sometimes even resort to fisticuffs. I decide that it's high time I introduced you godless people to my religion, because you folks sure do need to learn how to behave like civilized people! That settles it for me: My people are going to stage an intervention.

We're going to wait until nightfall and then we're going to come and break down your doors. If you had given my emissary a key, we wouldn't have to cause so much damage just to get inside, so it's really your fault if anything gets broken. I hope no one in your family is killed in the process, especially those pretty, unmarried daughters of yours. However, if a few of your family members do die, we must surely consider it an unfortunate accident. Besides, if we don't come in and introduce your family to our religion, your sons and daughters may go on to one day have children of their own who behave poorly towards each other.

While you and your family are sleeping in your beds, you hear a crash downstairs. Guess who it is? It's me and my friends and my cousins and my brother. My brother comes up and tells you how he wanted to personally apologize for the misunderstanding that he had with your thieving son. He's going to make up for what he did by doing you the honor of taking one of your unmarried daughters off your hands and making an honorable woman out of her by letting her come live in his tent and have his babies. Just think, now you know that your future grandchildren will be able to grow up among civilized people. Isn't that great?

You have no intentions of allowing things to go any further, so you grab your gun from off the wall. Even though you manage to kill a few of my cousins, there aren't enough bullets in your gun to kill us all. As you attempt to reload your weapon, we kill your wife and son and blast off your right leg. Because we're nice people, we bandage you up and place you in the guestroom all by yourself so that you can recuperate in peace. We promise we'll take good care of things while you're incapacitated.

Since you can't get out there and farm anymore, my uncle has agreed to bring you food every day so you don't even need to leave out except to go to the bathroom. In fact, it would probably be best if you didn't leave out of the room at all because we're making some changes to the house and might experience some difficulties moving around on those cheap crutches of yours. After all that has occurred, don't you think that you should just live out the rest of your days in my guestroom and forget about all that has happened? We both lost people we loved, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't agree to live together in peace, right?

I know that you planned to leave this land to your descendants and I'm going to make sure that still happens because my brothers and your daughters will have lots of children who can live here for the rest of their lives. My people will also honor your family's bravery by naming a school after your dead sons. Every Fall, we'll have a big barbecue where we kill a few pigs and some cows and celebrate the first year we spent together on this land. Isn't that great news?

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Never-Ending Arguments About Multiculturalism

Over at the Libertarian Republican blog, Eric Dondero has posted a video where a person playing the role of Thomas Paine lectures Americans about the supposed dangers of multiculturalism, diversity, and multilingualism.

Personally, I think it was a rather ignorant video. The speaker seems utterly confused about American history.

This nation has always been multi-ethnic. There has never been a time where people considered all of its residence as belonging to one culture. Without this diversity, just think about how much would be missing from our nation's history.

Secondly, this business about the English language is just divisive crap. When has this nation ever been English-only? Never. Spanish has been spoken here since before it became the United States of America. Why should we pretend as if it is somehow "foreign"? The English language is just as foreign, if you want to be factual. If folks really want to take it back to the "old school", then English would have to be phased out completely because there are plenty of languages that were being spoken here before English was ever introduced.

I think it's great that many people here choose to acknowledge and celebrate their heritage. We all deserve to be able to retain elements of the cultures that our ancestors came from. It's like colors in a crayon box. Calling a crayon "blue" doesn't change the fact that it's still a crayon. Calling another crayon "pink" doesn't mean we are trying to put the uniqueness of being pink above the uniqueness of being a crayon. I could call stretch out the label and call it "the pink that reminds me of the pepto-bismol that I used to drink when I was sick" and it would still be just as much a crayon as all the non-pink ones.

We don't need to pretend as if we all have the same customs and traditions in order for us to be wholly American. I love to pig out on brats at Oktoberfest. I like to share a few drinks with my friends and fam on St. Patrick's Day. I go out and catch all kinds of goodies during Carnival season and I believe that the Lenten season is a perfect time for spiritual contemplation and sacrifice. I love how Tet gives New Orleanians a second opportunity/excuse to pop firecrackers in between 4th of July celebrations. Isn't all of that a part of being an American? The fact that we are a culture where all of this stuff is a part of who we are is what makes us unique.

Come on, do you folks really want to try and deny that this is the stuff that contributes to what makes it great about being from this country?

By the way, appeals to "common sense" aren't logic-based. Just because a few or even a lot of people think a certain way doesn't mean that belief is logical or even beneficial for the rest of us to adopt. It seems to me that folks often resort to "common sense" appeals when they don't have facts to back up their point. If the creator of the video actually had any valid arguments, he wouldn't need to dress up as some historical figure to try and bolster his claims. That's an attempt to appeal to authority which is, also, not logical.

Power Corrupts. Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely.

So, it's beginning to look like Obama may have a pretty good shot at winning the Presidential election. It's already pretty clear that the Republican party is going to lose a lot of seats in Congress. People are speaking like all of this is already a given, so I've started to think about it a lot.

You know, I'm a bit nervous about the idea of both houses of Congress and the Presidency being in the hands of one party. I just don't think that too much power in the hands of one group is healthy for a nation. This has nothing to do with whether I trust Obama or McCain, the Democratic or the Republican parties.

Down here in Louisiana, we have a pretty good mix of Democrats and Republicans running things. We're infamous for our history of corrupt politicians but that corruption has never been limited to just one party. We are pretty good about allowing almost everyone to have a chance to govern things. We have black Democratic mayors in the state's two biggest cities (Ray Nagin in New Orleans and Kip Holden in Baton Rouge) and even our Republican governor, Bobby Jindal is a person of color. Our last Governor was a white, female Democrat (Katherine Blanco) and the one before her was a white, male Republican (Mike Foster).

That makes me feel like we are a lot more sensible than most folks give us credit for. Politicians are forced from politically veering so far that they stop considering the needs of the entire constituency. They won't get any higher than mayor or district representative unless they have fairly reasonable way of dealing with those who disagree with their personal views.

When Republican Bobby Jindal was running for Governor, he is the only candidate who came and campaigned over at Southern University, the largest HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) member in the state. Some might assume that since African-Americans tend to vote Democratic, it would be pointless for a Republican candidate to campaign there. Bobby Jindal didn't take that attitude. Whether or not his visit directly resulted in those students deciding to vote for him, it did impress a lot of the Democrats (especially the black Democrats) that I know and that may have garnered him enough votes to put him over the top. On October 20, 2007, he was elected to the Governor's office making him the youngest governor in the US and the first ever Indian-American to serve as a governor of a state.

My daddy and I like to joke that all of the Republicans are closet Democrats and all of the Democrats are closet Republicans. Seriously though, that's okay with me and I think that most people in the state like it that way, too. If the national elections go the way many folks believe it will, I wonder whether it will really turn out to be to our benefit. Maybe it will. I hope so.

How Many Times Should McCain be Allowed to Mention he was a POW?

Because I'm a big nerd and a political enthusiast, I've been having a grand time watching events unfold as we head towards the Presidential election on November 4th. I've watched all the debates and The German and I even played the game where we counted how many times each candidate used one of their signature phrases or terms. We counted how many times Barack Obama and Joe Biden said the name "George Bush" and we counted how many times John McCain and Sarah Palin used the "maverick" label. It's become a popular game and some folks even use it as a fun way to get pleasantly toasted but I certainly would never dream of doing such a thing. ;)

Let's face it. Both candidates have a few buzz words that they have been attempting to drill into the minds of voters and it's starting to become a bit of overkill. I want to rip my hair out every time I hear the word "change" used by any of these four candidates. Enough already! I get the point and I'm pretty sure everyone else does, too. I realize that the English language is not very old but it has been around long enough for there to be several different words they could be using just to liven up their vocabulary a bit. Meh, maybe I'm being too picky. After all, I often repeat myself, after all. At least I know I'm not the only one who is tired of hearing certain stuff being repeated by both candidates while they are on the campaign trail.

Some people have complained about how McCain is constantly bringing up the fact that he spent time as a POW (prisoner of war). To be honest, I put that in a different category from the other frequently used terms that I'd like to see eliminated from the vocabulary of both candidates. Yeah, I know McCain talks about being a POW in almost every rally where he's a speaker. Still, I feel like this is one area where the fellow deserves to be cut a bit of slack.

In a way, I feel like I may be able to relate to why McCain does this. It reminds me of how I'm always talking about my cancer experiences. Sometimes you can go through something so horrible that you NEVER stop wanting/needing to talk about it. I know that folks are probably tired of hearing about my broken ribs and cracked sternum et cetera, but those experiences are so woven into who I am that I can't really talk about who I am without telling you about what I've been through. So, you know, I'm a bit sympathetic when it comes to this.

I'm sure that McCain is aware of the fact that his supporters like hearing about his time in the service. Sometimes I suspect that many of these folks are trying to live vicariously through listening to the harsh details of McCain's time as a POW, but that's a whole other subject, I guess. I'm also fairly confident that his campaign managers are happy about the way his war stories pump up the crowds and helps to rally his base. However, I just don't think that fully explains why he keeps talking about it.

By now, he has to know that many people think he's using it gratuitously. Yet, he continues. I honestly don't think he can stop himself and I'm not so sure that he deserves criticism for that reason. There are plenty of other things that you can criticize, so I sort of feel like it would be okay for folks to just leave this one alone.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Ex-Soldiers are not Exempt From Criticism

Recently I was involved in a conversation on a libertarian blog and while the host was exchanging expletives with a more left-leaning commenter, he asserted that, since he was a former U.S.A. soldier, nothing he said could possibly be shameful or lacking in decency or integrity. The host also went on to denigrate the commenter as a yellow-bellied coward simply because he hadn't served in the military.

On more than one occasion, I've heard conversations like that where mentioning some one's person's military service is used in an attempt to deflect some criticism of their behavior. In fact, it seems increasingly common given the fact that our nation is approaching the apex of a very heated battle for the Presidency and the contest is between a senator who is a military veteran and another senator who is a civilian with a prior background as a professor and law expert.

I have a few feelings about the tactics that are being used by some of those people who've been confronted about the problematic behavior of a former member of the military and now I want to use this post to speak directly to those folks.

Any half-educated person in this country can probably name several examples of people who were soldiers but went on to engage in unethical behavior and make fools of themselves in very public ways. Remember, Benedict Arnold was a soldier too. Are you going to tell me that having been a soldier means he didn't make a fool of himself or engage in shameful behavior? Think about the implications of what you're saying.

The idea that not serving in the military says anything about one's character is just illogical. For instance, I come from a long line of soldiers. One of my ancestors even fought besides George Washington himself. However, I have never joined. Is it because I lacked the courage to serve as a soldier? Nope. I am simply too disabled to qualify.

Though I couldn't join, I did sign up for a civilian job on the Navy base instead. That was the way I managed to serve my country. When my brother joined the army, I did my best to support him with my prayers and my words of encouragement. When his bunk-mate and fellow soldier dropped dead before his eyes, our family helped him pick up the pieces.

Besides us, I know plenty of people who have never enlisted and will never be soldiers but have managed to serve their country just as much and sometimes even more. There are the researchers working in labs discovering new and better armor for the troops. There are the scientists working to create treatments and preventatives for the soldiers who may have to be deployed to God only knows where, where they may face all sorts of harmful biological and/or chemical agents. There are the linguists working in various branches of government, helping the USA keep track of our interests around the world in as close to real time as possible. There are the wives and husbands who hold down the fort all by themselves so that the soldiers have a loving and nurturing home to look forward to coming back to.

Lots of these people aren't Libertarians or Republicans or Democrats and lot of them are. In the end, they are all doing what they can to make this country a better place. In my opinion, that means they deserve better than to be called cowards or any of the other expletive-riddled insults being used to describe non-soldiers that criticize what they see as unethical or untruthful.

That's just my two cents. Take it or leave it.

A Few Words About Palin and the Exploitation of Trig

I really hadn't decided whether or not I was going to discuss Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin here on my blog. So many people are talking about her that I didn't feel like re-hashing the conversations that are taking place all around the blogosphere. However, I'm so fed up right now that I just can't hold this in any longer.

I think I'm going to either scream or throw up if I hear one more person claim that Sarah Palin shouldn't be criticized because she is, after all, the mother of a little "special needs child" and, "Omigosh isn't she brave for actually chosing to have the baby even though she knew it would have a disability?" Enough with the bullshit people!

If Palin's status as the mother of a person with disabilities (PWD) makes her off-limits for criticism, this certainly doesn't apply to me because in a game of cripple oneupsmanship, I win. Now that I've gotten that out of the way, I've got just a few words to say about this person.

Anyone who reads this blog regularly probably already knows this but, for those who might not, it is my position that having a disease/disorder/health condition/sickness is not enough to qualify for canonization. I regularly interact with a lot more people with disabilities than the some people probably ever bother to get to know in their lifetime. As a result, I can authoritatively assert that some PWD are kind-hearted. Some are fearless and courageous. Some are gentle and compliant with their caretakers. But you know what? For every PWD like that, I know others who are bigoted, others who are untrustworthy, others who are extremely annoying to be around. Get it? We run the entire personality gamut exactly like those in the non-disabled population.

In case you aren't sure about the implications of this revelation, I'll spell it out. No one deserves any brownie points or gold stars just because they didn't abort a pregnancy where the fetus was found to have disabilities. I am just the sort of "defective model" that many people in this society have the tendency to under-value and, for that reason, I am quite critical of some of the specious arguments people use to try and support pro-choice positions. However, that doesn't mean that those who continue these pregnancies (where the eventual baby will have "special needs") are somehow superior to the rest of the world's mothers. Do we lavish people with praise for not burglarizing the houses next door to them? Do we award academic honors to any college student who doesn't drop out by the end of a semester? Do we owe any admiration for those whose only accomplishment is not achieving complete failure at the task that they chose to attempt? I say we don't. It takes much more than that to make you a hero(ine) in my opinion.

So, with regards to Palin, being a political candidate who is the parent of a child with disabilities doesn't mean she isn't still an ignorant ass with policies that are bad for most Americans and especially bad for those of us Americans who are living with serious disabilities. As several mothers of children who have Trisomy-21 (Down's Syndrome) have been pointing out, for Palin to have her infant out there at these rallies being passed arm-to-arm among crowds is extremely irresponsible. As someone with a compromised immune system, I can attest to how large crowds like these Republican rallies can be the kiss of death for folks like us and that's no exaggeration.

Even though I strongly disagree with many of her policies, I'd have more respect for Palin if she at least had the sense to keep her baby away from all of these people breathing all over him, at least until his immune system has had a chance to develop. I have grown to truly destest this woman.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Few Words About the Death of Muslim U.S. Soldier Corporal Khan

I really applaud General Colin Powell's comments on "Meet The Press". It's a shame that some people are so filled with hatred for anything they perceive as different from them that they were blind to Powell's obvious attempt to keep the Republican base at least partially intact despite McCain's disastrous blunders.

The picture of the grave of Corporal Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan (the fallen U.S. soldier who happened to be a Muslim) that Powell mentioned really touched my heart. It never ceases to amaze me how many Muslims still proudly serve in the military despite all of the prejudice they face throughout society. That's a kind of loyalty and optimism that reminds me of the era when African-Americans volunteered for the military even though they lacked equal rights back home.

I'm usually a bit jaded when it comes to war imagery but this picture of Corporal Khan's mother next to her son's grave made me cry real tears. Here are a few other pictures that I've found on the Internet.

Free Image Hosting at

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Allahyarhamuh Khan

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Bee Gees' "Stayin Alive" is the Key to Proper CPR Rythm

The German sent me a link to this story last night. I think it's absolutely amazing. I've been meaning to find out when the local 4-H organization will be starting its next CPR class. I think I should stop putting it off now. My roommate cousin took a class years ago when she was going to school to become an EMT and I know that if she can learn it, then so can I. ;)

CHICAGO, Illinois (AP) -- "Stayin' Alive" might be more true to its name than the Bee Gees ever could have guessed: At 103 beats per minute, the old disco song has almost the perfect rhythm to help jump-start a stopped heart.

In a small but intriguing study from the University of Illinois medical school, doctors and students maintained close to the ideal number of chest compressions doing CPR while listening to the catchy, sung-in-falsetto tune from the 1977 movie "Saturday Night Fever."

The American Heart Association recommends 100 chest compressions per minute, far more than most people realize, study author Dr. David Matlock of the school's Peoria, Illinois, campus said Thursday.

And while CPR can triple cardiac arrest survival rates when properly performed, many people hesitate to do it because they're not sure about keeping the proper rhythm, Matlock said.

He found that "Stayin' Alive," which has a way of getting stuck in your head anyway, can help with that.

His study involved 15 students and doctors and had two parts. First they did CPR on mannequins while listening to the song on iPods. They were asked to time chest compressions with the song's beat.

Five weeks later, they did the same drill without the music but were told to think of the song while doing compressions.

The average number of compressions the first time was 109 per minute; the second time it was 113. That's more than recommended, but Matlock said that when it comes to trying to revive a stopped heart, a few extra compressions per minute is better than too few.

"It drove them and motivated them to keep up the rate, which is the most important thing," he said.

The study showed the song helped people who already know how to do CPR, and the results were promising enough to warrant larger, more definitive studies with real patients or untrained people, Matlock said.

He plans to present his findings at an American College of Emergency Physicians meeting in Chicago this month.

It turns out the American Heart Association has been using the song as a training tip for CPR instructors for about two years.

They learned of it from a physician "who sort of hit upon this as a training tool," said association spokesman Dr. Vinay Nadkarni of the University of Pennsylvania.

He said he was not aware of any previous studies that tested the song.

But Nadkarni said he has seen "Stayin' Alive" work wonders in classes where students were having trouble keeping the right beat while practicing on mannequins. When he turned on the song, "all of a sudden, within just a few seconds, they get it right on the dot."

"I don't know how the Bee Gees knew this," Nadkarni said. "They probably didn't. But they just hit upon this natural rhythm that was very catchy, very popular, that helps us do the right thing."

Dr. Matthew Gilbert, a 28-year-old medical resident, was among participants in the University of Illinois study this past spring. Since then, he said, he has revived real patients by keeping the song in his head while doing CPR.

Gilbert said he was surprised the song worked as well as it did.

"I was a little worried because I've been told that I have a complete lack of rhythm," he said. Also, Gilbert said he's not really a disco fan.

He does happen to like a certain Queen song with a similar beat.

"I heard a rumor that 'Another One Bites the Dust' works also, but it didn't seem quite as appropriate," Gilbert said.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Catholics Should Vote for McCain?

I sometimes enjoy reading from Catholic journals online. I grew up in a Catholic dominated city so the church's teachings have always had an impact on my life even though I was never a member of it. Today I came across an editorial on the Catholic Online site by Robert Stackpole entitled "A Plea to Catholic Obama Supporters".

This article is full of specious arguments. Firstly, McCain is NOT anti-abortion according to how the Catholic church defines it. He has gone on record many times and stated this. He has said that he's “come to the conclusion that the exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother are legitimate exceptions”. He also supports fetal tissue research. He doesn't even have a consistent record with regards to so-called "partial birth abortions". In 1999 he voted YES to allow partial birth abortions (Bill S. 1692 ; vote number 1999-340). So, tell me again how this is an issue of either supporting a pro-choice candidate or a pro-life candidate?

Is it less evil if a candidate only supports violating the church's position under those circumstances that seem right in their own eyes? Furthermore, anyone who has stated that he'd gladly support the war in Iraq continuing for the next HUNDRED YEARS has absolutely no pro-life credentials. Perhaps, Robert Stackpole thinks people should gloss over the fact that we can't even begin to count how many of the "unborn" die when their mothers are bombed into oblivion. Should we be supporting McCain's gruesome "two-for-one" deal? That's exactly what it is if we define abortion as the killing of unborn people with all the rights as those who have already been born.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

McCain's Wink and Nod Strategy is Nothing New

Belledame has an interesting discussion going on over at her blog called "Reaping the Whirlwind" where she mentions how presidential candidate John McCain recently had the delightful experience of being booed by his own crowd of supporters at a campaign rally.

Besides her post, which is interesting in its own right, the comments also caught my attention. Several people were of the opinion that McCain didn't intend for his rhetoric to stir up the level of militant racism that his supporters are now exhibiting. Some people feel like he's now trying to turn course and discourage people from reacting to his words in the way that many of them have. At the same time, some of the commenters on Belle's thread expressed very different sentiments about his running mate's intentions. No one seemed to have any doubts about whether Sarah Palin is purposely inciting violence at these rallies. Now, I completely agree about what's being said with regards to Palin. She isn't backing down one bit. However, I'm just not understanding where folks are coming from with this McCain theory.

I am more than a little bit perplexed when I hear folks say things along the lines of, "Boy, McCain sure has let this election change him from the fairly decent bipartisan sorta guy he used to be" or "I don't think he meant to open up a Pandora's box THIS much". I'm sorry, I just don't see it. This is the same guy who voted against making Martin Luther King day a Federal holiday back in 1983. He wasn't even fifty years old at the time. This is the same guy who was still calling Asians "gooks" back in 2000. This guy has purposely fanned the flames of racism in very precise ways.

In the past couple of days, he's made a couple of statements that some people see as proof he's trying to dial back the hatred. I'm sorry, but this just looks like a textbook case of how whites use racism. How many times have we seen highly influential white political figures make the most blatantly racist statements and then let those statements stand long enough for the virulently racist people in this country to use as fodder for their causes? After awhile, the politician then comes back and claims that their view is really not as extreme as their original statements/actions might suggest. Let's examine some cases:

Jesse Helms

In 1984, when Helms faced his toughest opponent in Democratic Gov. Jim Hunt, the late Bill Peterson, one of the most evenhanded reporters I have ever known, summed up what "some said was the meanest Senate campaign in history."

"Racial epithets and standing in school doors are no longer fashionable," Peterson wrote, "but 1984 proved that the ugly politics of race are alive and well. Helms is their master."

A year before the election, when public polls showed Helms trailing by 20 points, he launched a Senate filibuster against the bill making the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. a national holiday. Thurmond and the Senate majority were on the other side, but the next poll showed Helms had halved his deficit.

All year, Peterson reported, "Helms campaign literature sounded a drumbeat of warnings about black voter-registration drives. . . . On election eve, he accused Hunt of being supported by 'homosexuals, the labor union bosses and the crooks' and said he feared a large 'bloc vote.' What did he mean? 'The black vote,' Helms said." He won, 52 percent to 48 percent.

Ronald Reagan

Philadelphia, county seat of Mississippi's Neshoba County, is famous for a couple of things. That is where three civil rights workers -- Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman -- were murdered in 1964. And that is where, in 1980, Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan chose to launch his election campaign, with a ringing endorsement of "states' rights."

It was bitter symbolism for black Americans (though surely not just for black Americans). Countless observers have noted that Reagan took the Republican Party from virtual irrelevance to the ascendancy it now enjoys. The essence of that transformation, we shouldn't forget, is the party's successful wooing of the race-exploiting Southern Democrats formerly known as Dixiecrats. And Reagan's Philadelphia appearance was an important bouquet in that courtship.

I don't accuse Reagan of racism, though while he served, I did note what seemed to be his indifference to the concerns of black Americans -- issues ranging from civil rights enforcement and attacks on "welfare queens" to his refusal to act seriously against the apartheid regime in South Africa. He gets full credit from me for the good things he did -- including presiding over the end of international communism. But he also legitimized, by his broad wink at it, racial indifference -- and worse.

David Duke
Duke pioneered the now common effort on the far right to camouflage racist ideas in hot-button issues like affirmative action and immigration, successfully appealing to race and class resentments. Similarly, he was one of the first neo-Nazi and Klan leaders to discontinue the use of Nazi and Klan regalia and ritual, as well as other traditional displays of race hatred, and to cultivate media attention.

Strom Thurmond

When he was governor of South Carolina in 1948, Thurmond ran for President on a "states' rights" (code for "white power") ticket, advocating "segregation of all the races". In 1964 Thurmond stumped the south for the blatantly racist presidential campaign of Barry Goldwater (as, of course, did the independent counsel Kenneth Starr). Ever since, in his deplorably long political career, Thurmond has continued to appeal to the racial prejudice of an electorate which has rewarded him with an eternal place in the Senate.

Before he began his political career, Thurmond was a circuit court judge. In that capacity, in 1941, he presided over the trial of a 17-year-old black tenant farmer called Samuel Osborne.

This man's basic crime was that he refused to work on a Saturday when the white plantation owner, William Walker, demanded his presence. Boss Walker, enraged by Osborne's refusal, stormed over to his shack carrying his .32-calibre pistol and the club with which he regularly beat his tenants. Osborne was sleeping and woke to find Boss Walker standing over him with a pistol. He reached for his own shotgun and fired, killing Walker.

Even in the south and even in the 1940s, Osborne was entitled to be tried by a jury of his peers and to rely on his right to self-defence. The Supreme Court had ruled just a year before the trial that the exclusion of blacks from juries was unconstitutional. Yet Thurmond allowed an all-white jury to try Osborne. He failed in his summing up to mention the right to self-defence. And when the jury duly found Osborne guilty, he sentenced him to death.

This was one of the main sources of Thurmond's popularity and one of the achievements which impelled him towards the governor's mansion a few years later.

Ron Paul
The early 1990s writings became liabilities for Paul long before last week's New Republic story. Back in 1996, Paul narrowly eked out a congressional victory over Democrat Lefty Morris, who made the newsletters one of his main campaign issues, damning them both for their racial content and for their advocacy of drug legalization. At the time, Paul defended the statements that appeared under his name, claiming that they expressed his "philosophical differences" with Democrats and had been "taken out of context." He finally disavowed them in a 2001 interview with Texas Monthly, explaining that his campaign staff had convinced him at the time that it would be too "confusing" to attribute them to a ghostwriter...

...The publishing operation was lucrative. A tax document from June 1993—wrapping up the year in which the Political Report had published the "welfare checks" comment on the L.A. riots—reported an annual income of $940,000 for Ron Paul & Associates, listing four employees in Texas (Paul's family and Rockwell) and seven more employees around the country. If Paul didn't know who was writing his newsletters, he knew they were a crucial source of income and a successful tool for building his fundraising base for a political comeback.

The tenor of Paul's newsletters changed over the years. The ones published between Paul's return to private life after three full terms in congress (1985) and his Libertarian presidential bid (1988) notably lack inflammatory racial or anti-gay comments. The letters published between Paul's first run for president and his return to Congress in 1996 are another story—replete with claims that Martin Luther King "seduced underage girls and boys," that black protesters should gather "at a food stamp bureau or a crack house" rather than the Statue of Liberty, and that AIDS sufferers "enjoy the attention and pity that comes with being sick."

Eric Dondero, Paul's estranged former volunteer and personal aide, worked for Paul on and off between 1987 and 2004 (back when he was named "Eric Rittberg"), and since the Iraq war has become one of the congressman's most vociferous and notorious critics. By Dondero's account, Paul's inner circle learned between his congressional stints that "the wilder they got, the more bombastic they got with it, the more the checks came in. You think the newsletters were bad? The fundraising letters were just insane from that period." Cato Institute President Ed Crane told reason he recalls a conversation from some time in the late 1980s in which Paul claimed that his best source of congressional campaign donations was the mailing list for The Spotlight, the conspiracy-mongering, anti-Semitic tabloid run by the Holocaust denier Willis Carto until it folded in 2001.

Is it just me or is there not a clear (and often rather effective) pattern that McCain is following? Nothing that he's done so far, including his latest mealy-mouthed words, differs from the same strategy that all these other racists have benefited from adopting.

Friday, October 10, 2008

More Political ignorance

Damn it! Why does this idiot have to be from MY state?!! *sigh*

By the way, as a child, I spent my summers in Shreveport, too. Nowadays, people of color have a significant presence in the local government. New Orleanians have voted lots of people of color into office and now even Baton Rouge has a black mayor who is wildly popular, even among many from the state's generally conservative white population. Sadly, some Louisianians haven't reacted to these changes very well.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Wanda Sykes says, "Say no to 'That's so gay!'"

I *heart* Wanda Sykes! You know, when she first came on the scene, I didn't think she was particularly funny. It wasn't anything personal but she just didn't really impress me very much. However, I think that over time she really improved her skills and I've heard her give some hilarious performances lately.

Today, Renee over at Womanist Musings has posted a video where Wanda Sykes is featured in one of the advertisements for the "ThinkB4YouSpeak" campaign. It's designed to get people to reconsider the use of some words that have become quite commonplace in the English language.

I love this commercial because it shows what's problematic about comments like "That's so gay!" There's certainly a place for lengthy explanations but these ads can get the point across to people who would probably never otherwise find themselves in a conversation about hate speech. Check it out for yourself!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Taking a Personal Mental Health Day

Today is not going very well at all. A few days ago, my mother's house was broken into. She lives out in Texas now so my brothers and I have to deal with this. That means I will be the one who gets stuck bearing the brunt of things. That's nothing compared to the rest of the drama in my life.

One of my cousins has just been charged with armed robbery. Yeah, that's right. This suburban-raised, product of a stay-at-home mom and a business-owner father with two cars, two dogs, and a cat has managed to get his picture in the newspaper along with a description of what he's wanted for. I had hoped this would avoid being in the paper because by the time he was in custody nothing had been printed but, no, there it was.

This is really overwhelming. I'm taking the weekend off. The world can wait. I'm going to crawl into my bed and I'm not getting out again unless it's to go to the bathroom. See ya' on Monday, folks.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Now is your last chance to enjoy this moment!

I need some cheering up start my day and I figured you might, too. So, check out this fun video and remember:

Carpe diem!