Daily archives: July 4th, 2008

President Bush: America has more than 300 people

In the midst of his remarks at a Naturalization Ceremony at Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia, today, President Bush said the following:

Throughout our history, the words of the Declaration have inspired immigrants from around the world to set sail to our shores. (Interruption continues.) These immigrants have helped transform 13 small colonies into a great and growing nation of more than 300 [sic] people. They’ve made America a melting pot of cultures from all across the world. They’ve made diversity one of the great strengths of our democracy. And all of us here today are here to honor and pay tribute to that great notion of America. (Emphasis mine)

Add that to the incredibly long list of Bushisms.  At least today we might presume the president was in his element, with many others who struggle with the English language as well.

Here’s to January 20, 2009.


Former Senator Jesse Helms Dead at 86

The Jesse Helms Center reports that former United States Senator Jesse Helms died at 1:15 a.m. this morning in Raleigh. Further details on funeral arrangements will be forthcoming.  He was 86.

From the New York Times:

Former Sen. Jesse Helms, who built a career along the fault lines of racial politics and battled liberals, Communists and the occasional fellow Republican during 30 conservative years in Congress, died on the Fourth of July.

Helms left quite a legacy as he worked to demonize anyone slightly to the left of Mussolini. Among other things, Helms opposed civil rights, gay rights, women’s rights, foreign aid and modern art.  Helms led the Senatorial opposition to the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday in 1983. He rarely made a speech in the United States Senate without somehow managing to mention homosexuality, and was particularly vitriolic when speaking of blacks, gays and lesbians, blaming them for “the proliferation of AIDS,” and stating that he disliked using the word “gay” to refer to them since, “…there’s nothing gay about them.”

Jesse liked to sing, once serenading Senator Carol Mosely Braun:

Soon after the Senate vote on the Confederate flag insignia, Sen. Jesse Helms (R.-N.C.) ran into Mosely-Braun in a Capitol elevator. Helms turned to his friend, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R.-Utah), and said, “Watch me make her cry. I’m going to make her cry. I’m going to sing ‘Dixie’ until she cries.” He then proceeded to sing the song about the good life during slavery to Mosely-Braun (Gannett News Service, 9/2/93; Time, 8/16/93).

More on his legacy of racism:

Helms’ impeccable racist credentials include calling the University of North Carolina (UNC) the “University of Negroes and Communists.” (Charleston Gazette, 9/15/95)

At the 1993 GATT conference in Geneva, Sen. Ernest Hollings (D.-S.C.) commented on the African delegates attending the conference: “Rather than eating each other, they just come up and get a good square meal in Geneva.” (Washington Post, 2/5/94)

Hollings reportedly referred to blacks as “darkies” in a 1986 interview, and has called supporters of Sen. Alan Cranston “wetbacks,” called the Rainbow Coalition the “Blackbo Coalition,” and called Sen. Howard Metzenbaum “the senator from B’Nai B’rith.”

On Don Imus’ radio show (4/4/95), Senator Alfonse D’Amato (R-N.Y.) mocked O.J. Simpson judge Lance Ito, calling him “Little Judge Ito” and speaking in a mock-Japanese accent that bore no resemblance to the native-born Ito’s speech.

In 1991, D’Amato commented on WABC radio (9/13/91) that New York’s African-American mayor, David Dinkins, should go to Africa “and stay there.” (Newsday, 9/16/91) In 1986, when D’Amato was asked about a low-income housing project in his state, he reportedly commented, “We didn’t do too well with the animal vote, did we? Isn’t it the animals who live in these projects? They’re not our people.” (New Republic, 3/10/86)

Praise has started coming in from Republicans, a party Helms dragged far, far to the right:

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said few senators could match Helms’ reputation.

”Today we lost a Senator whose stature in Congress had few equals. Senator Jesse Helms was a leading voice and courageous champion for the many causes he believed in,” McConnell said in a statement.

No doubt a dark-skinned, smiling Jesus welcomed him with a hearty, “Shalom!” and a big, wet kiss.

Two in Chicago won’t see July 4

I guess I don’t understand the charm of handguns.

From the Chicago Tribune:

Two people were shot, one in the head in the Loop late Thursday as thousands of people streamed out of downtown after the city’s Fourth of July fireworks display and the Taste of the Chicago.

Both shootings occurred about 10:40 p.m. roughly a block apart, Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said.

This is as good as time as any to reflect once again on the proliferation of guns in our society.  The clock has only recently passed the midnight hour here in Chicagoland, and already two are dead.

I spoke with a local member of our police force yesterday evening.  I asked him, informally, what he thought of last week’s Supreme Court decision striking down the ban on handguns in Washington, D.C.  Did he think there should be more gun control?

He said, as I might have expected, that the current laws should be enforced.

And I agree.

The problem in our society is not that we have too many guns.  It’s that we use them too many damn times.  We need to control ourselves.  We need to find more effective ways of handling conflict.  We need to learn how to channel the rage we feel sometimes.

Yes, the answers lie in the schools, in the media, in the churches, in the family, in the neighborhoods, in congress, in state legislatures…, and many other places as well.

But the answer to gun violence begins the next time any one of us feels angry, and every time after that as well.