Two things are stuck in my craw today ... lucky you!
In the wake of Andrew Stack's suicide bombing of the IRS building in Austin, TX, I want to address those of you who hate the IRS with a passion. According to the Treasury Department's Inspector General for Tax Administration,
"In the past four years, there appears to have been a "steady, upward trend" in the number of threats against IRS employees."
Just stop it.
I was speaking to one of those employees in that same Austin office just hours before Mr. Stack tried to murder him, and he was a very nice man. In fact, I've dealt with employees of the IRS on a few occasions when they could have been exactly the assholes they're purported to be, and have never had an IRS employee be anything but helpful, cordial and soft-spoken, even when I owed them money. Especially then, actually.
Let's remember what our taxes pay for. In addition to funding things we might disagree with, like wars and corporate bail-outs, our tax dollars also provide roads, bridges, public schools, social services, breathable air, untainted food, drinkable water, scientific and medical research and a whole lot of other things that make our lives better. If we weren't forced to pay for those things, would you voluntarily sit down and write checks to the Social Security Administration or the Food and Drug Administration or the Department of Transportation? Yeah, me neither.
Next, let's remember that IRS employees are employees. They don't make the tax laws, they just do their jobs, and they do them with a lot more compassion and better customer service skills than your average tech desk help person or doctor's office appointment clerk. If you want to fly a plane into a building full of the people who are really responsible for the unfair and egregious tax laws in this country, fly it into the US Capitol. Try to hit the Republican side of the aisle.
Next subject: Down Syndrome
I understand that supporters of Sarah Palin are now posting all over the Intertubez that Andrea Friedman, the professional actor who lent her voice to the "Family Guy" episode presently giving Caribou Barbie fits, could not possibly have a) written the e-mail in which she defended her performance, or b) even understood what her father got her to do, because she has Down Syndrome herself. If you clicked that "Andrea Friedman" link (and if you didn't, please do) it's clear that Ms. Friedman has accomplished more in her life than I have, certainly, and (I'm guessing) more than most anyone who will ever read this blog. People with Down Syndrome are not incapable of expressing themselves in e-mail or making decisions about their lives. They are not props and they are not pets and they are not here for you to exploit.
Just stop it.
I'm Sofa King tired of hearing Sarah Palin talk about her poor, pitiful, handicapped child and what a wonderful mother she is for having him (however she got him, which is a question still unanswered). I'm tired of her illogical off-again on-again band-wagon jumping over words like "retarded," and I'm tired of her petulant whining and her pedantic lecturing when she hasn't done the very first thing that parents of children who successfully deal with the challenges of Down Syndrome do ... parent them. That's their special need ... attentive, encouraging and hands-on parenting.
I'm tired of watching her use all of her children, and especially Trig, for political gain -- and tired of hearing her supporters anoint her with sainthood and buy into the notion that she is any kind of expert on the subject of special needs children, since she has never demonstrated any desire or willingness to find anyone special besides herself or to put anyones needs ahead of her own. She's as full of crap as a Thanksgiving goose and you're stoopid if you're falling for her schtick.
I'd like to dedicate the rest of this post to a woman named Missy. She's a personal hero to me -- a successful young woman and a very talented artist who has had her work published on calendars and greeting cards, and, like Andrea Friedman, she happens to have Down Syndrome.
I met Missy when she was a patient in our office about 15 years ago. She was a young teenager at the time and came to us to undergo a Dacryocystorhinostomy to correct an anatomical abnormality with her tear ducts. At that time it was a painful surgery with a lengthy recovery that I've seen bring strong adults to their knees, but Missy was already a veteran of several surgeries to correct her facial abnormalities and improve her quality of life, and she was determined to be tough about it and not complain. Even though she was often scared, she sat stoically in an exam chair gripping my hand tightly, and tolerated whatever we had to do, including the removal of her sutures and the tubing in her nose and tear ducts. No matter how much we'd put her through on her visits she always went around the office and hugged each of us hello and good-bye, and she always had a story to tell us about some wonderful thing that had happened to her lately. Her greatest thrill was becoming Cher's pen-pal and receiving hand-written notes and letters, autographed photos and backstage passes to one of her shows. She was special in many ways, but most of all she was special because of her wonderful attitude about life and the joy she brought to the lives of others.
Missy had attended mainstream public schools since Kindergarten and was about to graduate from Junior High when she came into my life. She didn't get there by herself, though. Her mother had given up her own career to be a full-time parent and advocate for Missy when she was born, and by the time Missy was a teenager her mother was also working long hours volunteering for the MARC Center (that's the Mesa Association for Retarded Citizens).
So, Sarah, until you are even half (oh hell, a quarter) of the mother that the Missys and the Andrea Friedmans and the Chris Burkes of this world have been blessed with, just shut your selfish mouth and stop it.