Tuesday, November 4, 2008

... lots and lots of emails

Still buying time until polls open,
more roars from the crowd

I’m still catching up on the posted comments and emails in response to The Real Muck Road Trip, but far and away the most provacative resulted from the Confederate Encounter episode and were posted by RobertsTennesseee, the second of them after reader Sherry noted the initial report of the skinheads’ supposed plot against Barack Obama.

First comment: I see that your visit to Sweetwater unearthed some of Tennessee's more interesting negative cultural relics: absolute crap sold in flea-markets and the pathological clinging to a symbol more desperate than religion and guns -- the confederate flag. Also, don't forget that the Ku Klux Klan was originally organized in Tennessee. Your blog posting provokes a question my wife and I keep asking ourselves: "What the hell are we doing here?"

Second comment: I shared David's blog posting about the Tellico Plains Sons of the Confederates with the afternoon volunteer here at the Loudon Democratic Office...(We'll call him Joe, the former mayor). His immediate response was, "Black folks aren't allowed in Tellico Plains." I asked him how that could possibly be enforced. He said that they could be shot at. Maybe that's heresay and an exaggeration, I don't know. But, I do know how chilling it can be for African-Americans to be in mountainous areas of East Tennessee where front porches are draped with the Confederate Flag. I have had plenty of friendly conversations with white supremists and confederate holdouts here in east Tennessee. But I'm not African-American. And if David were African-American, he may not have conducted a cordial interview with the Sons of the Confederacy. I don't want to demonize anyone, positioning myself as having superior beliefs; however, I want to defend and advocate racial tolerance and equality. How can these two principles be reconciled while confronting entrenched racism?

My response: I looked up Tellico Plains at Wikipedia, and learned it consists of 1.6 square miles of land, with (based on the 2000 Census) a population of less than a thousand souls. “The racial makeup of the town was 96.74% White, 0.81% Native American, 0.12% from other races, and 1.51% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.75% of the population.”
My guess: The place is a little short of African Americans, synagogues and mosques, and (the answer, my friends, with apologies to Peter, Paul and Mary) that backyard clothes lines have white sheets blowing in the wind.

From a blog reader with the unlikely handle of Mr.Murder (who evidently types as badly as I do), on bluegrass music star Ralph Stanley endorsing Obama:

The Ralph Stanley radio piece is inspriational. "Barack Obama has been married to the same woman for thirty years, he's a family value man." Maybe McCain will have trophy wife no. 3 respond?

My response: As a husband of 28 years preceded by a pair of Ex’s, I won’t blame McCain for his marital misadventures. On the other hand, his “trophy” came fully loaded. There's no shortage of money or beer in his household!

Friend Mitchell in New Mexico, on the free T-shirts that Bonnie and I picked up at Virginia Tech’s “Adult Swim” carnival:

You can add the T-shirt to your collection. If I remember correctly, you once had a pair of Mickey Mouse ears custom-embroidered with "PRESS" on them. Still relevant after all these years.

My response: I had a few editors who were Goofy. (Not that I wasn’t.) But speaking of the “Adult Swim” posting, the topic headline was “Adult Swimming” and lured at least two blog visitors who arrived through a topic search directly from a porn site. Maybe when my readership seems to be declining, I can come up with some double-entendre bait and pretend they came for the articles.

Bonnie’s guest turn as a writer (Bonnie Goes Blogistic) elicited several interesting comments:

From RobertsTennessee:

Your observations remind me of John Steinbeck's book, "Travels With Charlie," which chronicles his road trip with his dog. His section on travels through the south is laden with disbelief that so many people in the south can immediately open conversations with a racial slur. My wife complains about people immediately asking, "Where do you go to church?"

From friend Marguerite:

Well done, Bonnie. I had much the same experiences when in Georgia. I just hated it and felt like I was in another country or another time. One time I was so sick of hearing the people, that when I was made the center of attention for a Happy Birthday rendition in a large restaurant, I replied with my rendition of New York, New York! I don't know what made me do it, but it was totally spontaneous and I was totally sober!

I do get upset when the Bible or religion is misused so. It reminds me of how during the 60's, the Republicans co -opted the flag as a symbol of patriotism. Now, if you mention religion or the bible, you are considered a "Family Values" advocate and that term has become synonymous with narrow-mindedness.

In fact, if we believe in God, we should be more caring, less judgmental, more sharing, less selfish, and more active, less reactive.

Our minister has been talking to us about the ten commandments in a wonderful way. We hear "do not steal" but what we are being told in that is to share! How many "good Christians or good Jews" do this? In the difficult times that our country is facing whomever wins, we would be wise to turn to some of the lessons in the Bible. And that does not mean posting things on bathroom walls or using religion for self aggrandizement.

From friend Barry:

I'm a little confused, are you saying that the 10 commandments and Baptist churches are a bad thing or just that you don't see them where you live?

My comment: No comment

This forwarded email came from my former neighbor, Ed:

Quote from the Oct. 14 British Spectator
"Barack Obama"
Here's a quote from the Oct. 14 British Spectator that sums it up perfectly: "You have to pinch yourself - a Marxist radical who all his life has been mentored by, sat at the feet of, worshiped with, befriended, endorsed the philosophy of, funded and been in turn funded, politically promoted and supported by a nexus comprising black power anti-white racists, Jew-haters, revolutionary Marxists, unrepentant former terrorists and Chicago mobsters, is on the verge of becoming President of the United States. And apparently it's considered impolite to say so."

My response: Gee, I funded him, too – close to 150 bucks. And when I was in college and published a now-largely-embarrassing volume of poems, a Marxist bookstore in Baltimore happily put it on the shelf for sale. Guess that means we’re all fellow travelers, huh? Gimme a break – all these Obama word-association games are just silly-stupid and reminiscent of the kind of extremist false rhetoric used by followers of Lyndon LaRouche (also known as LaRouchies). You might have to accept the idea that Obama is going to be your president, as well as mine... and better for both of us if he makes some headway against the nightmarish problems brought on by the departing Bush administration. But other than that, Ed, I still like you.

Finally, a few comments on my wacky political history of Maryland’s Sixth congressional district, represented by long-time Republican incumbent Roscoe Bartlett.

From friend Al, who lives in (and manages to endure) the Silly Sixth:

Your recollection of (Goodloe) Byron dying while jogging is correct. The word in Washington County at that time was that the autopsy showed he had hereditary heart disease, and wouldn't have lived as long as he did if he hadn't exercised so much. (Widow) Beverly Byron was a very conservative Democrat, well suited to the Sixth District, but not beloved by some of the powers that be in the suburban sections of the Sixth. Some of these powers threw their weight behind Tom Hattery in the Democratic primary in 1992, thus ending Beverly's tenure. I understand she was mightily pissed by lack of support during that race, and essentially resigned from active Democratic politics forever. This is the circumstance that led to Roscoe's election. It was the second or third time he'd run for the seat. One of the key issues in his campaign was term limits; he vowed he'd resign after one or two terms (I forget which)
Seems he's forgotten too.

From Mitchell, on sometime mental patient and homeless bum Melvin Perkins:

I think I recall Perkins running for some office in Baltimore-- Mayor? City Council? State Representative? I don't remember for sure-- but I remember that there was even a televised debate with all the candidates attending. I do, however, remember that one of Lyndon LaRouche's droids also ran for the same position; neither one of them won the election, but Perkins placed higher. From then on, whenever I saw one of the LaRouche crowd handing out leaflets and/or trying to raise some money, I never failed to ask them how it felt to have someone in their organization who got fewer votes than a genuine mental patient.

My comment: Melvin Perkins rarely missed an opportunity to run for public office -- any office. He would file his candidacy as a pauper, so he did not have to pay any fee. That’s also how he would file lawsuits against anyone who said anything negative about him. Arrested and charged with indecent exposure after urinating off a loading platform at the Baltimore bus depot, Perkins responded by filing a multimillion-dollar lawsuit alleging false arrest. When Perkins ran for congress in the Sixth, a friend of mine who was a regular in a downtown bar set up a collection jar to buy him a one-way ticket to Hagerstown to visit his future constituents. Melvin picked up the money and disappeared – later claiming he took the bus to Hagerstown, got lost in the fog there, and then came back. I never got over the fact that 14,000 people voted for him because he was running as a Republican.

Speaking of which, the polls open in less than seven hours. Vote early (but not often!), and may the best candidate win. G'nite.

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