Friday, April 28, 2006

Want to SuperSize Your Sign?

My business partner's father passed away suddenly 40 days after my dad died. It was the most bizarre and unbelievable situation, to have both of us facing the loss of our fathers in such a compressed timeframe, and yet it has been tremendously comforting to be able to talk to each other about where we are right now/where we think we'll be in 6 months/how our families and kids are doing/etc. We both have said that we would never wish it on each other, but if it had to happen we are glad that it happened this way so we can have each other as we navigate this new road without our dads.

Yesterday we talked about "signs." You know, signs. Those things wanted by almost every grieving person on the planet that will tell you that your loved one is okay and that they did not suffer at the end, and that you believe will give you some kind of mental tranquility in the current emotional chaos that is your new life.

I was lying in bed awake the other night talking to my Dad in my head, basically doing a total low-rent off-Broadway version of Yentl (think Julia Roberts in the starring role with Ryan Seacrest instead of Mandy Patinkin. Yeah. That bad):
Papa Can You Hear Me?
Papa Can you See Me?
Papa Can You Find Me in the Night?
I remember everything you taught me
Every book I've ever read...
Can all the words in all the books Help me to face what lies ahead?
The trees are so much taller And I feel so much smaller;
The moon is twice as lonely And the stars are half as bright...
Papa, how I love you... Papa, how I need you.
Papa, how I miss you Kissing me good night.

Anyway, my point is that I always thought myself above the whole "I need a sign" thing. I've always figured that having real faith means that you don't need tables to shake or pictures to fall off walls in order to believe that someone you love is still with you, or to believe that they are indeed fine. But talking to my friend who definitely wants one made me kind of want one too. (Yes, I'm in third grade...)

So there I was in bed doing my low-rent Yentl thing, asking my Dad to send me something so I can know he's okay. And then I started saying, "Oooh, actually Dad, don't, because that would really freak me out if my lights turned on or my window opened. So maybe don't do anything weird but do something normal. But, then again, if it's normal how will I know it's a sign? Damn. Okay, back to the drawing board. But whatever you do, do NOT show up in my bedroom. That will be weird."

So I kind of gave up on the sign thing, even though I secretly wouldn't have minded hearing a still, small Scottish voice in my head say, "E! Light a match, will ye?!" as I left the bathroom. So I figured it was not to be, as it is generally not to be for 99.97% of the world's population who (I have to remind myself) have been exactly where I am today in perhaps much worse circumstances. And then I wondered that if perhaps this "sign" business is for real, that maybe the person waiting for one is my Dad, waiting for a sign from me that *I* am okay rather than vice-versa. I don't know.

All I know is that today my sign arrived.

In the form of a wee old man wearing black calf-high socks with very white sneakers, khaki shorts, a button down shirt and a funky hat. At a McDonalds. Having his free coffee. (Is this sounding familiar to those of you who knew my Dad?!)

No kidding. He walked into the McD's (which I have to say is in a random location far from my home and was a totally random and unplanned place for me to be at that time), made a beeline for me and The Bambina (who was putting herself outside a 6 piece nugget happy meal), smiled at me widely and announced, "Good god, you're blond! In 30 years your hair will match your {white} T-shirt! Beautiful! Absolutely beautiful!" He then went up to order and came right back, sat two seats away from us and started telling me about his daughter and grandchildren and talking to the Bambina as if he'd known her for years and of course she's not scared of him because why would she be nervous about an old man like him?!"

Add to this moment the fact that The Bambina looked at him as he walked away to order, then looked at me quizzically and said, "Bumpa?" and then asked it again as he was sitting near us. So I told him that he was reminiscent of my father who had recently passed and so my daughter was seeing the similarities and trying to figure out if he was The Real Bumpa, ie{which I didn't say aloud}, "black socks: check; kooky hat: check; brilliant white sneakers: check; gregarious to total strangers: check; seems to enjoy my company: check; but--face and voice: not so much." He laughed and said, "Well, it sounds like your dad was a man with style."

We sort of each went back to our meals, not long after which Bambina and I left. As I was leaving, I picked her up to carry her and took one last look back at our friendly neighbor, just to say a final goodbye. He looked up, smiled at me, and shamelessly stuffed about 12 sugar packets into his pockets.

No More Calls! We Have a Winner!

Thank you, Dad, for sending the only sign you knew I'd be open to seeing and believing: petty larceny of condiments by a kooky wee man.

Diff'rent Strokes

I shiznit you not, my friends. I have just realized that The Bambina is channeling none other than Arnold Jackson of Diff'rent Strokes when I ask her to do something. This is the exact expression I am given as she inquires (as a liberated and self-actualized toddler of whom I am most certainly not the boss although I seem to mistakenly think so), "Whatchootalkinbout Mama?"

I was getting annoyed at the faces and the almost-constant limit-testing that I know is 100% normal but also 100% tiring. Now, it just makes me laugh. Especially because I now give her the same expression back and revel in her confusion as she wonders, "Who the hell is Willis?!"

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Saturday, April 22, 2006

My People Are Going to Hell and All I've Got is This Lousy T-Shirt

My 9 year old niece told me the other day that some Christian kids in her class told her that people who don't believe in Jesus are going to go to hell. When she asked, "Who do you mean?" they very flippantly said, "You know, Jews and Muslims. Anyone who isn't Christian."

Nine year-olds. Consigning entire groups of people to hell from the comfort of their plush suburban school desks. These children have been taught at home that--let's include the Chinese here--BILLIONS of the world's inhabitants are going to hell because they don't believe what the Christians of a small church in a small suburban town in a small state in the USA believe.

I was absolutely speechless when my niece brought it up. How in the hell does a grown-up make sense of that kind of statement for a child? That there is no way for her to achieve "salvation" but through Jesus. And not just "Jesus" but a very specific "Jesus" as defined by those kids' churches.

So how to answer? Should I give her the theology:

Genesis (8:21 and 4:7) clearly states that mankind was created with the inclination toward evil and the ability to master this inclination. That we can repent and do the right thing and find our way back to God directly. The Hebrew word for repentance is "teshuvah" which literally means "to return" to God. Malachi: "Return to me and I shall return to you." Most importantly, Ezekiel: "When the wicked man turns away from his wickedness...and does that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive." For sweet pete's sake I could go on and on with the chapter and verse, but something tells me these kids' parents would just say I'm misinterpreting my own damn scriptures.

So, should I give her the "F Them" attitude? I'm thinking not, simply because, unlike the parents of those kids, I'd really rather not teach her that other children are going to hell for their beliefs, no matter that I consider them to be erroneous at best and criminally insane at worst (the hell part, not the believing in Jesus part).

So what my mom and I did was just talk her through our own beliefs, rather than taking a swing at those of others. We talked about a few things:

--The fact that Judaism does not believe in Hell as a place. There is no eternal damnation in Judaism that we know of. Ecclesiastes says: "The dust will return to the earth, as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it." In the paraphrase of Bill Cosby: God is the one who breathed life into us, and it is God who'll take it out. No demons involved.

--The fact that the word Satan in Hebrew literally means an adversary that comes to challenge us. God created temptation to test our loyalty. And, going back to Genesis where we are given the urge to temptation but also the ability to master it, we know that it is within our ability to beat a satan. So, no devil waiting for us in the foyer after we die.

As you can tell from my chapter and verse quoting, we were getting ourselves all worked up about how to competently explain things until we had some kind of theological harmonic convergence and started to say the same thing simultaneously:

If there is a hell, GOD will decide who goes there. Not your friends at school.

That seemed to work for her and she went about her business unfazed, as every 9 year old should.

It reminded me of a little blurb in an old and marginally funny book titled "Only In America" by a (Jewish) man named Harry Golden. It was published in the '50s, so many of his references are lost on me. But one anecdote made me laugh, especially in light of the recent press release by elementary students that I'd be flying to Hades first class:

The Downtown Luncheon Club is More Exclusive Than Heaven
I am puzzled by the letters and pamphlets I receive from Christian and Hebrew-Christian mission groups urging me to become a convert. I am also puzzled by the vast sums of money appropriated by many church organizations for the purpose of carrying on this mission work. The Downtown Luncheon Club I cannot join. If they don't want me for one hour at the Luncheon Club, why should they seek my companionship in heaven through all eternity?"

Support Our Troops...

I know its fashionable to hate PACs, but this one I love, and here's why:

For the sake of all Americans, we cannot allow partisanship to dominate the debate around Iraq, Afghanistan and the threat of terrorism. We cannot let the same rancor color our policies regarding the welfare of our servicemembers and Veterans. The Bush administration must not be allowed to cow sensible Republicans and Democrats from offering critiques and alternatives to our current course of action at home and abroad with baseless accusations of anti-Americanism. At the same time, the Democratic Party cannot continue to evade a unified position on a success strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan. The young men and women returning from duty abroad, and their peers who have joined the political battle their deployment sparked, represent the best hope for America to transcend the destructive partisan rift that threatens to paralyze this great nation at a profound moment of truth. We can shape a positive agenda that embraces the challenges that lay ahead, an agenda that reverses the alienation and impotence that so many Americans feel when presented with the reality that "our politics is more polarized than the people themselves."



Friends With Low Wages

Maybe I'm a bit late finding this one, but I loved it. If you haven't already seen it, enjoy.


Best Week Ever

I wish I had a more glamorous reason for not posting in 5 full days, but I only have two pretty lame ones:

1. I have a raging cold, sore throat, etc etc and I don't feel like doing much. Strangely, Bambina seems unmoved by my pleas for mercy...

2. I'm late filing my business state taxes and for various unavoidable reasons don't have access to all my financial data, so I'm spending any available time getting those done so I can not owe more than one month's penalty.

Yeah. I'm having a good week.

The Joys of Urban Life, Part 36

If you are a regular reader of The Haggis you will perhaps already know about my unofficial list of joys of living in DC. Yes, they include crazy-easy access to smithsonians, fun daily sightings of completely-inside-the-beltway personages like Vernon Jordan, Morton Kondracke, Senator Alan Simpson, and Carville. All to the good for a political junkie like myself. As a regular reader you will also remember the less-salutary joys of living in DC, which include:

1. Weird dude jerkin' it on a park bench in broad daylight.
2. "Roving horticultural experts" who knock on your door at 10pm wanting to come in and talk to you about any yard work they might be able to do for you.
3. Uber-aggressive squirrels whose behavior turns the kiddie park into their very own vermin-style Escape From New York; and I ain't no Snake Pliskin.
4. Clueless tourists who seem DETERMINED by their idiotic behavior to be killed by either an oncoming car, a metro train or the secret service.

Well folks, we can now add the following new joy to this ever-growing list:

5. People who steal your trash cans.

Yep. My trash cans were stolen. Put them out the night before, woke up to find my trash bags on the ground and my bins gone. At least one other neighbor awoke to the same situation, all of which begs the following three questions:

A. Who in the hell steals TRASH CANS?!!
B. How much crack does a trash can get you nowadays anyway?
C. Who do you call when your trash cans are stolen? The police? "Yes officer, stolen. Gone. Let's see, it was green with "District of Columbia" printed on the side. Yeah. Yep. Just like the one outside the station house. What are the odds of finding mine?"

So now I have to call and request new ones, or worse, go and pay for my own, only to put them out again and risk their theft. My only solution is to follow the lead of those people who used to put little notes to potential thieves on their cars like, "radio is broken" or "radio will not work if removed from console." I always considered it a sign of the coming apocalypse that people were leaving notes for criminals, but now I think it's just good old fashioned common sense, as are those little signs that say "Protected by ADT" outside homes, just in case a thief is wondering if you're alarmed or not.

To that end, I've decided to put a Lojack sticker on my new trash cans. Oh--and just to be extra safe--engrave and trace in black permanent ink: "PROPERTY OF MAN WITH SMALL PENIS."

That oughta do it.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Genocide in Darfur: We Can't Say We "Didn't Know"

For a better discussion of what is going on in Darfur than I can competently undertake in one blog post, please go to Briefly, the situation is thus:

Not since the Rwanda genocide of 1994 has the world seen such a calculated campaign of slaughter, rape, starvation and displacement. The Sudanese government continues to flout international law with impunity.

What will you tell your grandkids when they ask how it could have gone on for so long with so little resistance from the rest of the world (ie, YOU)?

If you are in the area, come and join us on Sunday, April 30th at 1:30 PM on The National Mall for the RALLY AGAINST GENOCIDE - TAKE ACTION FOR DARFUR

The American Jewish World Service is organizing the Jewish community to join an interfaith rally sponsored by the Save Darfur Coalition. Save Darfur is a coalition of many religious and secular groups, and the Jewish community especially is mobilizing, in recognition of our historical (although pretty recent in terms of world history) experience with genocide.

Save Darfur


Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter Theology, 9 Year-Old Style

My 9 year-old niece brought the house down this weekend with her theological questions about Easter. She had just learned from my mom and sister about how Easter is about the resurrection of Jesus, the Savior for Christians, etc etc. So what was her major concern about that explanation in a world of Easter bunnies and Easter eggs?

"Um, so, okay. I'm not sure I get it. So when Jesus came back to life for Easter, which did he come back as? The rabbit or the chicken?"

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Ten Ways Dems Can Win in 2008: Number Two

{See March 29th for the first entry}

Number Two:


The latest Zogby poll shows that while she is solid enough with the Dem base, HRC "scares away more independents than she attracts." Scaring away independents is the number one way to lose a campaign, and I for one would like to win. I offer this with all due respect and with the caveat that I actually like her. But her public opinion negatives are as high as her positives, and I just don't think she can win.

Did I mention that I want to win?

The Ultimate Challenge

My Dad was always issuing challenges to us growing up. "Quick! How do you spell formaldehyde?" "Quick! Name the work and the composer!" {Answer: Vivaldi/Four Seasons/Spring} "Quick! Name the books of the Bible!" {Answer: GenesisExodusLeviticusNumbersDeuteronomyJoshuaJudgesRuthSamuel

You get the picture. Always throwing out challenges, trivia, questions, brain teasers, ethical dilemma hypotheticals, menial tasks to be completed, some vastly more annoying or infuriating than others. "Quick! Show me how you plant tomatoes for maximum fruit." {Answer: I don't remember}. "Quick! Show me how you change a flat tire on the car at 11pm with only the light of my keychain flashlight to guide you. I'm not raising helpless females in this house!" or "Hey-show me how you can stand for 3 hours holding a flashlight under the sink while I 'fix' the pipes and mutter endlessly about stupid f*&^%ng plumbing," or "Hey--show me that you can find a way to enjoy high school without the money, possessions and limited house rules of your friends."

Yep, some challenges were harder than others.

I've thought a lot through the years about why he did it. Maybe to teach us interesting stuff, to keep us on our toes, to make us stronger and wiser, to teach us to think on our feet, to prepare us for the big, bad world. Maybe. But I think it finally became clear to me this week, courtesy of The Bambina.

Tuesday afternoon The Bambina picked up my cellphone, flipped it open and said, “Bumpa!” which she used to do to tell me to call my dad so she could talk to him. So I tried to dissuade her a little by saying, “what will you say to Bumpa if we call? Will you tell him we love him and miss him?” “uh-huh. Bumpa.” So we should call Bumpa? “uh-huh.” So we "dialed" Bumpa and she started yelling, “BUMPAAAA!!!” which is what she’d do when we got my parent’s answering machine so he’d hear her and pick up the phone. As you can imagine, I literally had to leave the room so simultaneously painful and touching was the moment. I was so happy that he’s still in her head that she randomly wants to call him, and yet so profoundly sad and grief-stricken that we can’t just call him.

She did it all afternoon and kept saying, “Bumpa. Eyes. Bumpa Eyes.” I was asking her, “does Bumpa have eyes? Do you see Bumpa with your eyes?” But I never figured out what she was trying to say. A part of me wants to believe she’s feeling his presence and telling me that he’s okay. But good sense and logic would tell me that it's just me imbuing a 2-year old’s mumblings with meaning I want them to have…

Anyway, as I sat there listening to her yell, "Bummppppaaaaaaaaaaaah!" I wondered how I could keep her love for her Bumpa alive while managing my own grief in losing him. And then I realized that it's not really complicated at all: This is simply my father's final--and most daunting--challenge:

"Quick! Show me that you are a strong woman, a great mother, a devoted daughter to your mother, and a full-grown adult in your own right. Okay, good."

"Now show me you can do it without me."

I'm Calling Falwell

Like most toddlers, The Bambina has her very own Going-To-The-Potty Poster onto which we place reward stickers every time she either a) tells me she needs to go to the potty, b) does peepees in the potty, or c) does poopies in the potty. Her big delight is in picking the particular sticker that will go on the poster, so I thought I'd buy her some cute doggie stickers since they are the current object of her daily obsession. If we don't go to the park and see (preferably very big) doggies at least once a day, she is completely inconsolable. Hence, the doggie stickers as reward for pooping. Kind of apropos, no?

Anyway, I submit to you a photo of the stickers I purchased and then happened to glance at quickly on the walk home. At best they are "unfortunately positioned", at worst the Mrs. Grossman's sticker company better upgrade their switchboard, cause Jerry Falwell will be callin'.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Devil's in the Details

This post is so sad! A school in Utah thought they had booked Jon Stewart to come to their gala, but instead had booked Jon A. Stewart, "businessman, motivational speaker and part-time wrestler."

This is why it always pays to ask ahead of time: "So, just to confirm, Paul Simon--THE MUSICIAN--will be joining us for the event, right? Because we're not sure the bow-tied, large-earlobed former senator from Illinois will be much of a draw..."

Happy Passover!

It's that time of year again, folks. When we remember the Exodus; the freedom of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt land. Refrain: "Let my people go!"

As you will see from my post last year, the refrain is key. Once again we eat the matzo. Once again we feel the pain of bondage, or rather, bindage. Once again, the manufacturers of Dulcolax offer thanks to God himself for Passover and its legions of celebrants suffering from eight days in Colon Captivity.

Anti-semites like to say that Jews control the media and the banks. We really don't. We're too busy controlling the bowel regularity industry.

Her Middle Name is Whinestein

We're working with The Bambina, who is--can you believe it--almost two years old, on using words instead of whining. From my mom's own experience, she said she finally succeeded in getting me to do it around the age of 18. Har har. But no matter! We are starting early and often, obviously to teach her verbal and social skills; but mostly to stop me from wanting to open a vein after 9 hours of "waaaaaah. waaah. uuunnnnnhhhh. wail. ad infinitum" when a simple, "Mama, up" or "Mama, help" will do.

She's been doing really well, almost to the point where I now have to watch everything I say for fear of something like, "crap" or "mother of god!" being repeated at an inopportune moment. It already happened in the car when (mais oui) a tourist walked out in front of me on a green light and I yelled, "COME OOOONNN, MORON!" A millisecond later I heard from the vehicular balcony, "Tum onh!" in my exact inflection. Yikes.

Anyway, yesterday I was on the phone with a business associate and she was whining in the background. So I said automatically, "Is there a word Bambina would like to use instead of whining?" As the sentence was leaving my mouth I noticed that her toe was stuck under a little table and it was obviously hurting her, meaning that she wasn't whining at all but trying to get my attention to help her. Just as I was feeling guilty for thinking she was a whiner, it became clear that she was less hurt than annoyed. I had no sooner finished the "Is there a word you'd like to use?..." when she stopped moaning on a dime, looked at me quite irritatedly, and then pointedly and calmly said, "Ouch."

Score so far in the Whining One-Up Sweepstakes: Bambina One, Mama Zero.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

We Found the WMD! They're in the USA.

The Independent

Does anyone else find it ironic that we invaded a country for fear of its leader using weapons of mass destruction--and whooooops!! Our very own President won't take the use of nuclear weapons against Iran off the table.

These are totally f'ing scary times, y'all.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


As if you can't tell, I've kind of lost my writing mojo these days. I look back at stuff I wrote a year ago and think, "oh, that was mildly humorous; good for me." I sit and think about what to blog about today and all I come up with is "feh." Nothing seems interesting to me, to be honest. DeLay? Whatever. Bush? Whatever. Rude annoying jackasses in front of me in line? Whatever. It was my 34th birthday last week. Whatever. Nothing is inspiring me to the level of "gotta write about THAT!"

I think perhaps I am just kind of finding my head in my new post-Dad reality. I think sometimes grief masquerades as fatigue, just to provide you with a valid reason to go to bed and sleep to dream (or not sleep and stare at the ceiling, as the case may be). It also masquerades as, dare I say it and prove my full conversion to the church of the effete: ennui. Seriously. I think I can't get giddy because my mind just can't "get it up" for anything right now. I laugh when something is funny but I don't feel real joy. I smile when someone smiles at me, but my eyes don't smile along with my mouth. I feel so lucky and happy whenever The Bambina laughs or does something new and fun, only to immediately feel the stab in my heart that my Dad won't see her do it too. I look at his photos and smile, knowing that he's not really gone. And yet he is, in all the tangible ways I'm accustomed to having him.

But I have hope that inspiration will return. Just this morning I had a brief flash of it, when I went to a doctor's office and for the second time in as many weeks had to leave before even being called back by a nurse. I'm not kidding. Last week it was a 1:45pm appointment for The Bambina (those of you in Toddler World know that 1:45pm is dangerous pre- or -oughta-be-during nap time). So we get there and we wait. And wait. And wait. All of a sudden it's 2:25pm and my child was falling asleep on the chair, and I just had to leave and get her home. I was LIVID! They cancel YOUR appointment if you arrive more than 10 minutes late, but they keep a 22 month old kid waiting for almost 45 minutes with no doctor in sight!? WTF?!! They always say, "well we got a little bit backed up. We're so sorry." yeah? Then how about booking fewer patients, you asswipes?! And then they act like I am being unreasonable in expecting them to honor--at least within 15 minutes--a child's appointment time. Have YOU ever tried to keep an almost-two year old occupied for 45 minutes in a waiting room with only the toys you can cart in with you from home--during what should be her naptime? Please. It's total freakin bollocks. And since when is it MY problem that THEY can't effectively manage the business side of their operation?

Same thing today. Just a quickie consult (or so I thought) at 9:30am, so I made a client appointment for 11am about 2 miles away from the doctor's office. At 10:30 I went back to the desk and asked whether it was realistic to expect that I would be taken back and seen by the doctor in time to leave at 10:45 in order to get to work. Obviously it was all, "Oh my goodness we are so sorry; we just got a little backed up this morning..." Helloooo?! My appointment was at 9 f***ng thirty AM! What, were you open at 6am or something? How do you go off the rails by 9:30am?!! and AGAIN--why is that MY problem?! Fix it!

It's my personal one-woman tirade. One of my primary jobs as one of those easily-maligned business process management consultants was reminding organizations that internal business concerns are NOT the problem of the customer or client. That no person working for the organization should EVER excuse bad service with some sh*t like, "We're short staffed right now; I'm the only one answering phones, our computers are down...." That is total bush league excusemaking. You can give reasons and solutions, like "our computers are down so what I'm going to do to speed you through here today is x, y and z," but you never just say, "you will be seen by the doctor a full hour and 45 minutes after your scheduled appointment time because Keisha called in sick and now I'm answering the phones and putting all the charts together and the phone will not stop ringing..." You NEVER tell someone who is giving you money that you don't know what the hell you are doing with it. So that was my brief flash of inspiration: righteous indignation at the disrespect for my time.

And, had I been in the writing mood, you would have read about it.

Oh. Well. Who knew?! I've just written an actual post! Thank goodness my Inner Andy Rooney is still in the game...

Monday, April 03, 2006


With thanks to the good people at dubiousquality, I offer you the following link to completely ruin your work day. I have a mortgage that will now not be paid because I was doing this when I should have been working and billing clients. But what the he*l?! Mortgages aren't fun and this IS.


The Few, The Proud, The Inoffensively Offensive

I wrote this on Saturday 2/19/06, but figured I'd publish it now anyway because it made me laugh. Or maybe just cringe. With a sort of smile...

Setting: Friday night in the ER
Characters: My dad, me and my sister (and my mom via phone from NH where she was visiting her sister)

Enter stage left: Doctor McGreevey.

E's Dad: "McGreevey! Ya big Irishman! It's Mick, right? Or are you a Mac?!"
Doctor: "Um, I'm a Mc."
E's Dad: "Ah! An Irishman! I knew it! My wife is a Mick as well! You're all lovely in your own way, you know!"
Doctor: "Thanks, so-what brings you here?"

Thus began my dad's experience in the ER, where he proceeded to dissect the ethnicity of every single person who came into his curtained area. After Lucky Kenyan Person #3 left, I finally had to say something a la, "Dad, could you NOT ask people where they are from?! It's really quite 1954, you know..."

He completely didn't get my point. He literally could not understand what was so offensive about asking people about themselves. I tried to explain, but he just didn't get it; thereby epitomizing the notion of offensive results coming from completely unintentional and inoffensive intent. To be sure, the upside of having a completely non-malicious, politically-incorrect father is that I tend to give people a momentary benefit of the doubt when they ask about The Bambina's heritage. Because I can picture my dad asking the same question, and because I know my dad always asks because he is interested and trying to make a connection (however mortifyingly for his kids when he does it), I will often give the inquirer a minute to see if their question is well-meant or just rude before saying something like, "Do I know you?" or "Why do you ask?"

But back to the ER: My point was not helped when a young cocky cardiologist came in whom my dad perceived to be Indian. I immediately implored my dad to not guess his ethnicity because it would be so awful to get it wrong, not to mention even bring it up. So what did he do? He of course said, "Are you Indian? You look like you're from Ootacamund!" I was in mid-cringe and full-on mortification when the doctor smiled and said, "what would make you say Ootacamund?! I'm from that state, but that town is the smallest blip on the map! I can't believe you even know that town!" Cue the warm conversation and social connection...

Go figure. In a perfect world, my dad would finally "get" why ethnic inquiries are annoying and offensive, but in this imperfect one, he's rewarded for his lunacy almost every time perhaps because he is so obviously harmless. Or maybe it's akin to the luck o' the Irish; the luck o' the Scottish Jewish Americans With Asian Grandkids but Without An Internal Monologue. I mean, you know how THOSE people can be...

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Springtime in DC!

An absolute stunner of a day here in DC today. Which means that Team Haggis was out and about, taking advantage of the cool stuff in our own backyard. Here are some scenes, including The Bambina at The Supreme Court building. She went all the way up the stairs to do "noh noh" (knock knock) on the big golden doors. As is the experience for many of us these days, no one at the SCOTUS heard her knocking...

Poor Cynthia McKinney: A Victim Once Again

So the esteemed Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, after hitting a Capitol Police officer who had the temerity to not recognize her and allow her to enter the Capitol without passing through security, is apparently "a victim of being in Congress while black." Yes indeed, because those charged with ensuring the security of the United States Congress routinely don't mind when white people waltz past security and then refuse to stop when directed to do so THREE TIMES, right?

Cynthia McKinney is an embarrassment to herself, the state of Georgia, and the Democratic Party. She is the living example of someone who takes no responsibility for her actions, and who somehow gets away with it by ratcheting up the tension level of any discussion by bringing up racism.

For example, during the 2000 presidential campaign, McKinney stated that "Al Gore's Negro tolerance level has never been too high. I've never known him to have more than one black person around him at any given time." Another super example of what Jonah Goldberg (not my favorite guy, mind you) calls her "aggressive stupidity," involved her letter to the Saudi Prince who gave $10 million to New York relief efforts after 9/11, then connected the carnage to US mideast policies as if to justify mass murder, only to have Rudy Giuliani return the check. Her letter read: "Although your offer was not accepted by Mayor Giuliani," Ms. McKinney wrote, "I would like to ask you to consider assisting Americans who are in dire need right now. I believe we can guide your generosity to help improve the state of Black America and build better lives."

Her response to the tidal wave of disapproval was this: "I believe that when it comes to major foreign policy issues, many prefer to have black people seen and not heard."
Clearly, Rep. McKinney loves to call people who challenge, question or disagree with her racists. But, again, as Jonah Goldberg wrote:

"The idea that criticism equals censorship is pretty popular these days among Lefty intellectuals and journalists...but let me say it one more time: Criticizing people for saying or writing stupid or wrong things is not a violation of free-speech rights but a celebration of them. Ms. McKinney thinks she's a hero for saying unpopular things. But a bad idea doesn't become a good one simply because it is unpopular. Ms. McKinney wants to assume the mantle of a brave dissident, but she forgets that dissent is morally neutral. Ms. McKinney decided to suck up to a deep-pocketed scion of an authoritarian theocracy in order to exploit a national tragedy for her own political agenda. Her decision makes her unpopular. It doesn't make her the conscience of the nation."

Same with last week's contretemps with the Cap Police. She's making it sound like she was manhandled while doing a sit-in at a lunch counter, when the truth is much more self-involved. For whatever reason, Rep. McKinney refuses to wear the widely-recognized-by-security lapel pin given to all members of Congress and which speeds their passage around the security barriers set up for the rest of us. In refusing to wear the pin, she increases the likelihood that she will be questioned when trying to bypass security, but upon ignoring the request of a law enforcement officer to further identify herself and then bitch-slapping him, she claims racism? It's arrogance, pure and simple.

Representative McKinney, how about you wear the damn pin, and then if you are hassled at security THEN you will have a leg to stand on? Until then, can you keep the assault and battery on law enforcement to a minimum? Because nobody wants Zsa Zsa Gabor as their congresswoman.