Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Second Miner, Mario Sepulveda Out Chile mine rescue.hq
So I spent the whole night watching the amazing rescue of 33 brave men. An operation that will continue well into tomorrow. An operation that was so well thought out it will no doubt be the benchmark of how things are done in the future. As I watched through the happy tears I thought of the moon landing and how my parents must have felt. That feeling that anything is possible has been lost for decades. It reappeared briefly when Obama was elected but that feeling was only shared by half of the country. Watching this "rebirth" with the entire world gives us all the feeling that great things ARE possible when egos are set aside and everyone involved is working on the greater good. Which in this case was 33 human lives.
I want to think that the same thing would have happened here but sadly, I know that would not have been the case. Here, before any rescue operation could commence the fight over who was at fault would come first. Then the fight over who should incur the cost would no doubt follow. It would be government against industry while the world watched and the miners suffered. I'm not here to bash on this country, I'm just stating a fact about what has happened here. I remember right after 9/11, while everyone was walking around in a state of shock something happened. We realized (ever so briefly) that it wasn't "us" or "them" who was attacked. It was 'we" and for a while "we" were nice to each other. We were polite on the road, we waited patiently in check out lines, we consoled each other and for once we all used the majestic plural. We all spoke for each other because for that moment, we were one.
That didn't last long. Soon the political mudslinging started and we went back to being the Divided States of America. Back to us and them (which I know I have written about a bunch of times.)
This amazing rescue has the potential to bring us back to "we", for almost 24 we were all glued to the television (or internet) getting minute by minute updates. We all cheered each time a man emerged from the capsule named Fenix 2, we all were calling these men by their names, like we knew them and we all were annoyed at the political ads that ran on the news networks during the coverage. In the middle of a miracle we were reminded of our reality.
I think we need to take a page from the Chileans and their incredible spirit, they emerged in good spirits and were all greeted by their president who stayed with the rescue the entire time. They were all grateful and thankful as they hugged and cried. They didn't consult with lawyers before doctors, they talked with family and not reporters. They wish to go on to live quiet normal lives, I don't know if that's going to be possible since they all have many exciting opportunities ahead of them (if they wish). In this country the group would have had a team of lawyers before the first one saw daylight.
I guess I keep going back to that skepticism I'm so famous for owning.
With midterm elections near the country is once again divided. I have gone back to posting political stories on my Facebook page, I am trying to stay out of heated debates. With the Chile story still fresh in my mind I'm going to try and keep a piece of those 33 men with me. I'm going to try to think in "we" again. I'm going to hope that others out there felt what I felt watching the rescue: that having a feeling of unity and a sense of accomplishment feels so much better than the arguing and constant desire to be right.
I'm going to think about Mario Sepulveda emerging from what had to have been hell on earth with a huge smile on his face handing out souvenir rocks and leading cheers like his team just won the World Cup.
One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.
Monday, October 11, 2010
Saw this today and had to share. I know I've been absent lately but I promise to catch up soon!
From Vicky Bell's Blog:
Letter to my daughter ( in the wake of senseless tragedy)
Hello my girl,
I wanted to say hi and tell you how much I miss you and that I hope your classes are going well and that you are having fun too.
But I also have to have a mommy moment- bear with me here. I won't take long, and I won't be saying anything I haven't already said in one form or another, but it is important.
You may or may not have heard about the NJ college student who killed himself last week because his room-mate had posted videotape of him having sex with another guy. A terrible, senseless tragedy.
My mommy job requires that I remind you of two essential things:
Nothing ruins your life forever. NOTHING.
Nothing ruins your life forever. NOTHING.
If that young man had only waited a couple of weeks nobody would have cared- he'd have gotten past it. People have short memories- life would have gotten better, much better. His parents and friends? They loved him prior to the tape- they would have loved him afterward too. A few awkward moments and then life goes on.
But when you are young you don't know that even the awkward moments are fleeting. On this, you just have to trust the old people. Remember when you were really small and cried and cried over something? Well, it didn't last. That's kind of what it's like- awful things happen, you feel like there's a rock in the pit of your stomach, somehow time goes by and it gets better. I promise you, it ALWAYS gets better.
The students, a girl and boy, who were involved in the taping and posting-- they are being charged with bias crime, invasion of privacy and possibly other things. Their college life is over. They will have to live with this death the rest of their lives-- and their families are devastated. What they did was so wrong- but also so kid-stupid. Not to mention mean. And so their lives will be different forever- but even so- their families will love them and they will have time enough to hopefully live in such a way as to make meaning from their mistake.
So, my beautiful girl, never, ever think something is unfixable. NOTHING you do will ever keep us from loving you. NOTHING you do could be so awful you can't get past it.
And if someone is mean to you, and it isn't something you can ignore-- seek out people to talk to about it. Surround yourself with people who are supportive. If you ever need help and don't know how to ask- try writing a letter instead. And right now- before you might need such help- think about who you would talk to if needed. In the midst of turmoil sometimes we don't always think as clearly- having a plan makes it easier to find help in crisis. And remember there are always alternatives. Always.
Finally, don't be mean. Don't let other people be mean.
Stand up for the underdog, protect those who aren't as smart or confident or easygoing as yourself.
Treat people's feelings like fragile little puppies- if you play with them- be gentle.
I love you so much and I know you really don't need me to tell you this stuff.... but it's my job.
Love and hugs,
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Growing up in New York we had rain all the time, it was no big deal, just a part of every day life. If it was really bad we'd don our slickers and rain boots, carefully applied over plastic bags (I'm not sure this was a universal practice or just on my house). We'd get to school with no problem and no one every complained. Here in Los Angeles, the rain turns into an event. Things get canceled, roads get shut down and the general IQ of the City of Angels lowers significantly. It's just water, I don't get all the drama.
We went to Dr. Phil today and traffic was awful, I had to get off the freeway because it wasn't moving. Luckily I am the Queen of Sidestreets (among many other titles) and made it with time to spare. I'm not really in the mood to discuss the session, I'll just stick with the weather for now. On the way home the sky opened up and the rain came down like I've never seen here in Los Angeles. My usual route takes me from the 10 West to PCH and on nice days traffic crawls due to beach goers and amateur shutterbugs, today ride just sucked. Not only do the roads flood easily making the middle lane the only one available for navigation but there are actual idiots that think it's fun to ride through the "ponds" that have been created.
I made it home and stayed there until I had to pick up K from school. Not because I don't know how to drive in the rain or that I'm afraid of it, it's everyone else out there. Everyone says that Los Angeles drivers are some of the worst out there, while I agree with that I am perplexed by the fact that like 80 percent of my friends and neighbors came here from somewhere else. They say that Los Angeles attracts the most beautiful people, so does that mean that the bad driving gene is attached to the beauty one? I'm not saying that all pretty people are bad drivers, I'm just trying to figure out some sort of correlation.
By the time I got to school the worst of the rain had stopped. Moms were dressed in the finest rain gear discussing the horrible ordeals they all suffered earlier. I waited outside raingearless talking to the crossing guard while my hair frizzed to monumental levels.
I like the rain.
I like how it feels. I like how it smells. I especially like how it clears the air. After a rain, the view around Los Angeles can be magical. When I first moved here I ended up in the concrete Park LaBrea it felt safe for me, coming from New York. I had a gatekeeper and a patio. How cool. One day after being here about six months, it rained. It rained a lot. I was happy, I missed actual weather, my friends were turned into complaining babies and I got my first view of "STORM WATCH!" A strange news event that happens the minute the rain reaches the ground. The next day I marveled at how clean everything looked, the usual smell (a mix of car exhaust and fast food) was gone but the coolest thing? There were mountains to the East. How strange that I never noticed before. I was told that the rain washes away the smog. Ewww. I can only imagine what kind of crap we're breathing in around here.
Anyway. I think the point of this was to say that it's just rain, it's here to do good, why does it have to be an annoyance? I would think the people of this fine city would be happy to find a cleaner looking (and smelling) city. That's never the case. Is it because more work is necessary? More attention is required? Who knows. I just think people need to complain.
As for me, I'm just happy that my car doesn't look as dirty.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
So last night I'm on Facebook and I see a post by a friend explaining that her impending bad mood will be a result of the master cleanse diet she is about to start. A few funny comments followed and then there was mine: I want to do this! Then I looked it up, while it was doable, it wasn't going to be fun:
The Master Cleanse claims to be a way to cleanse the body of and remove the cravings associated with drugs, alcohol, tobacco, eating, "Coffee, tea, and various hot drinks." The cleanse involves drinking only a concoction made from fresh lemons, grade B maple syrup and cayenne pepper, as well as a laxative tea. No solid food is eaten for the entire cleanse.
For people in good health, the body is designed to eliminate normal everyday toxins from itself through the lungs, kidneys, liver, and other eliminator organs. Nutritionist Jane Clark points to a lack of essential nutrients in this program, citing a deficiency of protein, vitamins, and minerals in the regimen. As a result of these deficiencies, including far fewer calories than the recommended amount for health and optimum functioning, individuals on the diet may experience headaches and a variety of other symptoms in the short term and the diet is potentially harmful over the long term.
I see a few problems here, well really two. No coffee or wine. Not only are they obviously forbidden but the purpose of the cleanse is to remove the craving of these wonderful things. The laxative tea sounds rather unpleasant as well. I want to rid my body of toxins not eliminate my hobbies (little cleanse joke there).
I try my best to eat a healthy diet, I try not to eat bad carbohydrates (try being the key word here) but sometimes it doesn't work. Last year my will was made of iron. I didn't let as much as one breadcrumb pass through my lips and it showed. My pointy hipbones we the reward for that. I don't know how it happened but the points are gone and my jeans are tight. Even when I get back into the "Zone" the weight that normally fell off isn't budging. I thought that maybe a cleanse was the way to go. I had always heard that people who did them always felt better after even though it was tough to do. I didn't know about the laxative thing. I don't really want to do that.
I eat right, I drink plenty of water, I don't eat junk food (yes, there are exceptions to that) I don't drink that much alcohol, sure I love my wine but never to excess. Nothing seems to be working. I really wanted to do a cleanse but after reading lengthy poo reports on one website I don't think that's the path I want to take. I suppose I just need to cut down on the lattes. Get more then 4 hours of sleep a night and stop sharing treats with K. I need to dig deep and channel the focused me from last summer. That might be difficult because swimsuit season is over. Nothing keeps a girl on her diet like a tiny bikini.
I do have this awesome pair of jeans I bought last year. They are a size I don't think I ever wore and for a few minutes around last Halloween they fit. I won't even try to get them on now but maybe next week I'll try them on and assess the damage. This whole weight thing has me perplexed, it was so easy for me last summer when I was miserable and unhappy. Now things are so much better and I can't keep cupcakes from flying into my mouth. Was it all the inner turmoil? I actually think it was a control thing. I felt like I had no control of anything going on in my life, I did however monitor and measure every piece of food that came near me.
So for me, in order to maintain the weight I like, I either have to be angst ridden or spend 10 days chained to a toilet? I'm just going to do my best, keep the treats to a minimum and think of my super skinny self in a bikini. I'll try to keep my diet and my mind in the "zone."
I can master cleanse from the inside out but I'm going to start with my head not my bottom.
Monday, October 4, 2010
I know there are exceptions to every rule. Not all Republicans are mindless teabaggers, not all Democrats are liberal hippies and not every Oakland Raider fan is a felon. OK, I'm not so sure about that last one. You get the picture though. Sometimes I wish the rules didn't apply tome but I'm realistic and know better. My daughter does not yet have teh skills of reasoning yet and believes that she is indeed the exception to every rule. In fact at one point this weekend I wrote that as my Facebook status:
M is changing K's name to Exception because clearly the rules do not apply to her."
I'm sure I have to take some of the blame for her gigantic ego, (I refuse to use the word ginormous because it's stupid and not an actual word, I don't care what Webster says) but not all of it. Some of it has to do with the fact that we have a lot of friends who don't have kids and they often spend time with us. K is used to being around adults and she prefers it sometimes. We had her first birthday party at a friend's house because they had a huge backyard, we thought that was necessary with new walkers and their parents. We invited our old friends who didn't have kids and our new friends, who did. It was a typical party for us, too much food and plenty of booze, we feel that if you have to suffer though a kid party you should have the option to dull the noise with a beer or bloody mary.
It was a fun day, K showed off her wicked running skills and there were only a few meltdowns. K was pleasant enough, playing with her friends when they crawled near her. It wasn't until they left that she really opened up and let loose. It wasn't just me that noticed, all our friends thought it was funny that K was annoyed by her tiny buddies. After that she wasn't just our kid, she was our cool kid. She was welcome wherever we were, that was good for us because we always seem to be lacking in the babysitter department.
So that pretty much continued her whole life. We would receive invitations that said "no kids" except K. We would go to bbqs where there were kids and would always hear "wow, how come K isn't a brat like other kids?" (that one was news to me) She also acted like one of "us" and we were always told that she "was an old soul." When our friends J and P had a party to celebrate their recent commitment ceremony it was an adult only event, of course it really was an adult only and K event.
You get the picture, she is welcome and we are grateful. A few months ago her karate sensei was having a party for visiting black belts and friends from the dojo, he invited us and wanted K to go. We weren't that comfortable with that so we told K that we could go for dinner but sit st our own table. After the meal was done we could stay for a few minutes but that was it. When we got there we say at our own table and were prepared to dine that way. Sensei and crew showed up and were escorted to a huge table and came by to say hello. He then insisted that we join them. So we did. We also stayed long after dinner, long enough to watch K dance around with everyone as they told us how cool she was.
Cut to Saturday, another such party was about to take place and K was planning on being there. This time was different, at the last party the daughter of one of the visiting black belts was there and she's 14 (but looks a lot older), we felt OK because the girls were together most of the time. This time it was truly adults only. We told her that we were not taking her but again we would have dinner there. She absolutely did not understand why we were protesting. We explained to her that having a child at a bar is not appropriate (no flaming here, it's a restaurant). We told her that some people go out and leave their kids at home, it's not fair to them to have to censor themselves around someone else's kid.
I suppose I can understand her difficulty in understanding this since she has always been the exception. Now there's an exception to the exception? I didn't have enough wine in the house to try and explain that. We had dinner and saw our friends, we stayed a few minutes, long enough to greet everyone and then say goodbye. K was happy that she got to be a part of the evening but was unhappy that she was forced to leave so early.
So now we have a new ongoing dialogue, I am trying to explain the exceptions to being the exception. Not an easy task but it's a good lesson for me. I need a brush up on my patience and tolerance.
Friday, October 1, 2010
Interesting article in the Voice this week. Let me know what you think. While he make a lot of good points I know that racism is not the way to fight racism:
White America Has Lost Its Mind
The white brain, beset with worries, finally goes haywire in spectacular fashion
By Steven Thrasher Wednesday, Sep 29 2010
About 12:01 on the afternoon of January 20, 2009, the white American mind began to unravel.
It had been a pretty good run up to that point. The brains of white folks had been humming along cogently for near on 400 years on this continent, with little sign that any serious trouble was brewing. White people, after all, had managed to invent a spiffy new form of self-government so that all white men (and, eventually, women) could have a say in how white people were taxed and governed. White minds had also nearly universally occupied just about every branch of that government and, for more than two centuries, had kept sole possession of the leadership of its executive branch (whose parsonage, after all, is called the White House).
But when that streak was broken—and, for the first time, a non-white president accepted the oath of office—white America rapidly began to lose its grip.
As with other forms of dementia, the signs weren't obvious at first. After the 2008 election, when former House majority leader Tom DeLay suggested that instead of a formal inauguration, Barack Obama should "have a nice little chicken dinner, and we'll save the $125 million," black folks didn't miss the implication. References to chicken, particularly of the fried variety, have long served as a kind of code when white folks referred to black people and their gustatory preferences—and weren't many of us already accustomed to older white politicians making such gaffes? But who among us sensed that it was a harbinger that an entire nation was plunging into madness?
Who didn't chuckle, after all, the first time they heard that white people had doubts that Barack Obama had even been born in the United States and was therefore ineligible to be president? It sounded like one of those Internet stories in which some (usually white) writer does his best to prove something everyone knows to be true is actually the exact opposite. And you go along with it for a few paragraphs to see how long the writer can convince you that what you know is right is actually wrong.
Seemed like that, didn't it? After all, what was the beef? Obama's father was Kenyan, and the kid was born in Hawaii—which is barely a part of the United States to begin with (only a state in 1959!). His mother was white, and after the Kenyan guy left, she married an Indonesian guy, so little Barack lived in Jakarta for a while before coming back to Hawaii to be brought up largely by his white grandparents. . . . And that's it? Come on, this was after-school-special material, the kind of thing that brings a tear to your eye because little half-Kenyan/half-white Barry made good, not the stuff of conspiracy novels.
But the more you shook your head at it, the more it seemed to have taken root deep in the lizard part of the white nervous system. Obama is not an American. He says he's Christian, but he has a Muslim-sounding name. He's not black, he's not white. . . . Is . . . is he even human?
Today, Newsweek has found, nearly a quarter of Americans believe that Obama is a Muslim, with barely 42 percent of the nation accepting his claim that he's a Christian. CNN finds that a quarter of Americans also believe that Obama was "probably or definitely" born in another country.
Harris found in an online poll that 14 percent of Americans believe in their hearts that President Barack Obama is the antichrist, with nearly a quarter of Republicans saying so.
At least in this form, however, Satan (sometimes) wears a flag pin.
What was going on? Had decades of sucking down so much high-fructose corn syrup not only made Americans incredibly obese, but also messed with white brain chemistry to the point that some sort of tipping point had occurred?
Not a bad theory, but no, there's a simpler explanation, with two parts: For the first time in their lives, baby boomers are hard up against it economically, and white boy is becoming outnumbered and it's got his bowels chilled with fear.
"In an age of diminished resources, the United States may be heading for an intensifying confrontation between the gray and the brown," writes Ronald Brownstein in his July National Journal article, "The Gray and the Brown: The Generational Mismatch." That's a polite and understated way of saying that older white folks are losing their shit as they're being replaced by young brown and black kids while the economy is in the crapper.
Brownstein notes that 40 percent of the nation's population under 18 is already non-white, with that number significantly higher in the Southwest (read: Mexicans!). By 2023, that number of young non-whites will be an outright national majority.
At the same time, the baby boomers are getting older. At 80 percent white, boomers have gotten pretty used to dominating nearly every field of endeavor in this country since they came of age—politics, business, education, the arts—just about everything but MTV programming. Boomers set the national agenda in so many ways that we can forget how much the national economy and national media cater to them. Bewildered by the number of Cialis ads you see on television showing those flabby couples sitting in bathtubs? Or the way that older women are suddenly "cougars" and "MILFs" and . . . oh, yeah, you remember, boomers are getting old, but still want to think they can get the sheets sweaty. See? Boomers and their fixations and fears explain nearly everything. . . .
Anyway, as boomers age, they get more politically active. That's just human nature, and their 40-million-strong AARP is the nation's biggest lobbyist. But as they try to wield that power, they're running into the growing, and less white, younger generations.
"Like tectonic plates, these slow-moving but irreversible forces may generate enormous turbulence as they grind against each other in the years ahead," writes Brownstein.
At some point, when tectonic plates build up enough tension, that destructive energy gets unleashed in a major earthquake, which is a pretty good metaphor for what happened on November 4, 2008. A black man got elected president, and suddenly every aging white boomer in this country turned into Carole King—they sure as hell felt the earth moving under their feet.
Meanwhile, the brother moving into the White House inherited the kind of mortgage that even Wall Street executives might hesitate to call "subprime."
A devastated economy. Two wars, neither being fought with clear goals. Housing markets that resembled war zones. A health system crippled with costs. An auto industry cratering.
But surely, in a time of crisis, the country could pull together to fix this mess, right?
Can you help a brother on health care? No.
The economy? No.
Financial regulatory reform? No.
National security? No.
Now, some black folks can be forgiven for thinking, as they watched the political drama in Washington unfold over the past two years, that this was just another form of the same old thing they'd put up with in one way or another in this conflicted multiracial country.
But there is another explanation.
White people have simply gone sheer fucking insane.
Let's look at some examples to nail down that theory.
The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now was a nonprofit that organized voter drives and worked for improved wages and housing for poor, mostly non-white Americans. And because of who they organized, they became public enemy No. 1 in the eyes of certain people not so thrilled with black folks registering to vote in large numbers.
Obama had once defended ACORN in a voting-rights case (as co-counsel alongside the Justice Department and the League of Women Voters). An ACORN offshoot was one of many Get-Out-the-Vote enterprises employed by his primary (but not general) campaign. The group's members did the same kind of community organizing that Obama had done as a young man. But throughout the 2008 election season, there was a concerted campaign to whip up hysteria about ACORN, and by November 2009, Public Policy Polling found that more than a quarter of Americans (and an outright majority of Republican voters) believed that ACORN had stolen the election for Obama.
This was, of course, after the classic bit of Nixonian "rat-fucking" pulled off by a prankster named James O'Keefe.
O'Keefe, a veteran at creating videos to make blacks look greedy and stupid (look for "Taxpayers Clearing House" on YouTube), spent the summer driving around the country with his accomplice, Hannah Giles, making videos in ACORN offices asking for advice about avoiding tax troubles with prostitution money. You've no doubt seen the images of O'Keefe dressed as a '70s pimp. But O'Keefe had carefully edited his tapes and left out, for example, that he was decked out in college preppie clothes, not pimp-wear. At least one ACORN office threw him out, and at least two knowingly played along with his ruse. (The San Diego office called the cops after he left, and the Philadelphia office filed a police report.) The upshot was that after his edited tapes became public, Congress quickly voted to strip ACORN of all federal funds. The organization effectively went out of business before the bill could take effect or be thrown out in court.
O'Keefe has maintained he was "absolutely independent" in his project. But in September 2009, the Voice reported that he'd been funded by billionaire conservative Peter Thiel and the Leadership Institute, the same outfit that funded young Grover Norquist and Karl Rove. That revelation fell on deaf ears, however, and to this day, media outlets perpetuate O'Keefe's claim that he was operating without backing.
O'Keefe got further help when his tapes were pushed by BigGovernment.com, which is run by an underhanded blowhard named Andrew Breitbart.
Months later, O'Keefe was arrested by the FBI in a bizarre prank at Senator Mary Landrieu's office, in which he was either attempting to plant a wiretap or, in his explanation on Breitbart's website, just trying to find out whether her phone system worked to help her constituents reach her. (Yeah, that was a good one.)
This summer, Breitbart picked out another black target with another selectively edited video, this one of a USDA employee named Shirley Sherrod. His editing so mischaracterized Sherrod's words and intent that the fallout, in the words of Frank Rich, "could not only smear an innocent woman but make every national institution that touched the story look bad. . . . The White House, the NAACP and the news media were all soiled by this episode."
But, hey, politics is hardball, right? We've had rat-fuckers like Breitbart and O'Keefe around forever (the founding fathers were certainly not immune to dirty tricks in their day). What's different this time, however, is just how easily the lies and distortions of the rat-fuckers are being soaked up by the damaged crania of this country's drooling white masses. What sort of senility is softening up the frontal lobes of America's palefaces that they can't see through the black-hatred of a wanker like Breitbart?
Out West, meanwhile, as home prices dropped faster than a burst piñata, an easy scapegoat was found: Mexicans. Long the scourge of aging white folks, who don't seem to understand the economics behind their cheap groceries, immigrants from Mexico, Guatemala, and other sweltering southern destinations became enemies of the American Dream.
Suddenly, it was open season on brown-skinned fruit pickers and seamstresses. Arizona passed S.B.1070—a law that would force its residents to carry identity papers with them at all times. Jurisdictions around the nation are salivating to copy suit.
Back East, meanwhile, we have our own brown-skinned devil: the Muslim. When an imam who had done diplomatic work for the Bush administration put together plans to build the Muslim version of a Jewish Community Center a few blocks from Ground Zero (but farther away than an off-track betting joint, a strip club, and the very financial institutions that had detonated the economy), white people freaked out.
At Landmarks Preservation Commission meetings, white housewives from Staten Island suddenly took a great interest in preserving mid-19th-century cast-iron façades and the architecture of Daniel Badger—all to try to keep New Yorkers from taking swimming lessons in the same building where Muslims would have a place to pray. They argued that Muslims could never understand the impact of 9/11 (even though more than 20 Muslims were killed that day) and could never understand the concept of Ground Zero being holy ground (as if a building that would contain prayer services was somehow less holy than an outlet for betting on horses or stuffing dollar bills into G-strings).
But by now, those sorts of distinctions are nearly impossible to make for a white mind so cluttered by decay. Race was always a tough one for white people to deal with, but now the backflips some people are doing over it requires a scorecard.
There may be no better example than Laura Schlessinger and the great white outpouring of support following the bizarre flameout of her radio show.
It all started with the most incomprehensible of happenings: that a black woman would, out of all reason, call the Dr. Laura show seeking advice.
The sister called Schlessinger to ask how to handle her white husband's white friends, who sometimes say racist things that she's uncomfortable with, including using "the N-word."
Schlessinger almost immediately went to, "A lot of blacks voted for Obama simply 'cause he was half-black."
She told the caller not to "NAACP" her by taking her out of context.
She said "nigger" is fine to say because "black guys use it all the time."
She then wrote the caller off as having a "chip on [her] shoulder" and declared, "We've got a black man as president, and we have more complaining about racism than ever."
She told the caller that if "you're that hypersensitive about color and don't have a sense of humor" (i.e., you even question that your husband's white friends say "nigger" to you in your house), "don't marry out of your race."
The caller, Schlessinger thought, was suffering from "hypersensitivity—which is being bred by black activists." Her discomfort with the word "nigger," Schlessinger said, was just another "attempt to demonize whites hating blacks."
The reaction from white America, who clearly had not remembered to take their thorazine that morning, was overwhelming: Who, if not Laura Schlessinger, should say "nigger" with impunity?
Schlessinger announced on Larry King Live, however, that in order to "regain" her First Amendment rights of free speech, she would be canceling her show.
Constitutional experts are still trying to parse that one.
Sarah Palin then rushed to Schlessinger's, side, Tweeting in her inimitable style, "Don't retreat . . . reload!" Palin, we can only assume, wanted Schlessinger to utter "nigger" as often as she wanted.
Perhaps the two of them, having both quit their jobs, can get together and put on a road show, opening with "Zip Coon" and finishing with a rousing rendition of "Carry Me Back to Ole Virginny"?
On February 19, 2009, not a month into Obama's presidency, Rick Santelli—a former hedge-fund manager—had a meltdown on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange while broadcasting for CNBC. Santelli was incensed not that the government was bailing out the multimillionaires who had run giant financial institutions, but that assistance would also be going to help out ordinary people who found themselves defaulting on their home mortgages. Calling such folks "losers," he said, "How many of you want to pay for your neighbor's mortgage that has an extra bathroom and can't pay their bills?"
He then added that he was not only mad as hell, but wanted to do something about it: "We're thinking of having a Chicago Tea Party in July. All you capitalists that want to show up to Lake Michigan, I'm gonna start organizing."
Suddenly, other angry (and obviously very confused) white people began organizing their own "tea parties" and, from the start, had to defend themselves from charges that there was more than a little racial component to their movement.
Few were really surprised, for example, when Tea Party Express President Mark Williams turned out to have penned a letter that could have been written in the worst decades of Jim Crow: "We Coloreds have taken a vote and decided that we don't cotton to that whole emancipation thing. Freedom means having to work for real, think for ourselves, and take consequences along with the rewards. That is just far too much to ask of us Colored People and we demand that it stop!"
And it turns out that the "grassroots" modern tea party effort has been largely funded by the Koch brothers, reactionaries whose combined oil wealth places them just behind Bill Gates and Warren Buffet as America's wealthiest men. The brothers have given some $100 million toward the Tea Party's astroturf call to arms.
"This right-wing, redneck stuff works for them," a former Koch associate told The New Yorker. "They see this as a way to get things done without getting dirty themselves." And in primaries across America this year, the Kochs have gotten one hell of a return on their investment. After decades of pouring money into think-tanks, the billionaire brothers now have an ally no institute fellow could ever match: a scared, angry white mob that votes.
And what a mob. White folks used to shy away from candidates who e-mailed pictures of a woman being fucked by a horse, didn't they? Can you just see the scene down at the Republican Party headquarters: "Well, except for sending out those e-mails of horse-fucking, other e-mails of nigger jokes, and also fathering a love child, this guy Carl Paladino is just our kind of guy!"
Finding Rick Lazio not crazy enough, white New Yorkers nominated Paladino for governor by a margin of almost two to one.
Sure, Lazio had made an effort. He'd gone after the "Ground Zero Mosque" like a good race-baiter, but he just isn't in Paladino's mouth-frothing league. "Crazy Carl" is threatening to take a baseball bat to Albany (and our Tom Robbins explained last week how Carl's looney ravings are an empty act).
Now, try, if your cortex is not too far gone, to reel things back a couple of years. Imagine, if you can, Barack Obama surging in polls in 2008 if it were known he'd sent out e-mails of a white woman getting it from a horse, revealed that he had a 10-year-old love child, and was threatening to take a baseball bat to federal employees. It's really impossible to conjure up, isn't it?
That—right there, more than anything—demonstrates just how much the white brain has become Swiss cheese in the last couple of trips around the sun.
A close second place: the really crazy white shit happening down in Delaware, a state that never really caused much trouble (except for unleashing Joe Biden on us) until it nominated one-time witch Christine O'Donnell, who is so batshit crazy she makes Sarah Palin sound perfectly reasonable.
By now, just about everyone has seen the precious moment in MTV's 1996 Sex in the '90s when O'Donnell made this monumental discovery about masturbation: "If he already knows what pleases him and he can please himself, then why am I in the picture?" Fourteen years later, it doesn't really seem to be dawning on the still-unmarried O'Donnell that she's not "in the picture" and might never be. But that, apparently, isn't going to stop her waging war against the sex lives of everyone else.
Again, only white lunacy explains it: Neither O'Donnell nor Paladino is a fringe candidate. O'Donnell has a difficult, but not impossible, chance to become a U.S. Senator. Paladino may yet become New York's next governor. (He's already polling ahead of Andrew Cuomo among likely male voters, who are generally white and clearly stark raving mad.)
Is there any hope? Can the white mind be cured? And what—other than a massive lobotomy—can salvage it? It's hard to imagine a cure when, at this point, the patient doesn't seem to realize that he's sick. Rush Limbaugh, for example, has declared that it's black Americans who have a problem. The "black frame of mind is terrible" because of unemployment, and, equally important, because of "Tiger Woods's choice of females," he has said. What was that about a pot and a kettle?
If there is a cure, it likely won't come from Barack Obama. There are those who say that this president invited our current derangement by not being commanding enough. They say he should have inveighed Franklin D. Roosevelt, who famously said before ever being re-elected, "I should like to have it said of my first Administration that in it, the forces of selfishness and of lust for power met their match. I should like to have it said . . . of my second Administration that in it these forces met their master." But if Obama ever referred to being the "master" of anything, he'd scare white people more than he already does.
Glenn Beck is one of the downright terrified, and has said that Obama has "a deep-seated hatred of white people or the white culture." Which makes you wonder, has Beck really not seen Obama in his golf attire?
In the end, it goes beyond Obama, and the current economy, and is really about the inevitable demographic future of America, those coming browns and the grays. They will—one way or another—have to learn to get along.
It is true, as Brownstein says, that the graying boomers will hate to pay for the education, health, and welfare of the coming browns. They'll be stingy about it. They'll scream about it. But they'll have no choice but to do it.
After all, who but the hordes of young browns will be around to work when the grays retire? To pay taxes? To fund their Medicare and Social Security? And how will they earn enough money to finance boomers in their retirement if they're not well educated and healthy?
To do this dance effectively, the white American mind is going to have to focus and prioritize. Maybe, just maybe, it might be required to act with a little ever-loving sanity every now and again.