Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Tuesdays with Paulie 7/3/07

"What's the matter with you?"
"You ain't got no arms. ... Let me see your arms"

Call it ignorance, immature, tactless or even mean. Whatever term you want to use, it is amazing some of the words that come out of an adults mouth when they have to deal with people who have a physical disability.

My first summer after losing my right arm to cancer, I immediately began dealing with these people. I'm not talking children asking their mommy why that man only has one arm. That is normal healthy curiosity for a child. I'm referring to adults and the stupidity crosses all economic and social classes.

I recall being at a car wash the first summer after my amputation. An older man was drying my car, looked at me and said, "Hey man, where your arm at?" I wasn't hurt, just shocked. It was 1988 and I was 17 years old. I knew I couldn't explain the cancer to him, he obviously couldn't comprehend the truth. I blurted out, "Vietnam." Granted, I was 4 years old when the war ended, but this schmuck believed me. I later regretted that answer. I believe it is disrespectful to Veterans of our wars to lie about serving.

Some people can't help being stupid. Others are just ignorant and self-absorbed. I once had a woman in a grocery store tell me that I shouldn't go to places that children may be at because I will scare them. I didn't have a response, your brilliant blogger was speechless. Maybe that was for the best. No child should hear their mom being called a B or C word.

So why am I bringing this up? Dawn Larson was born with Holt-Oram Syndrome, she has diminutive hands about six inches from her shoulder. This amazing woman uses her feet as most people use their hands. I have personally dined with a woman who suffered this illness and it is remarkable to watch them eat, using utensils with their feet.

On two separate occasions, Larson with her children in the back seat, went through a McDonald's drive thru, gave the first window cashier her credit card with her feet and then proceeded to pick up their food at the next window. What happened next is just sad.

"What's the matter with you? . . . You ain't got no arms. ... Let me see your arms," the employee said to Larson as he pulled back her food. The employee apparently continued making rude remark and then got the manager. According to Larson, the manager came to the window and also looked at her with "disgust." She eventually told them to hand the food to her son, who has one full size arm.

A few months later a similar incident happened again at a different McDonald's. This time the clerk in the second window looked at her and said "Oh, no, I'm not doing this." This time they refused to give the food to her son as well as a friend who went into the store. Eventually an employee came out to the car and handed their friend the food.

Larson has filed a lawsuit against Mickey D's on the grounds that her civil right were violated. I would say that she has an air tight case and if McDonald's was smart they would cut her a seven figure check to make this go away.

McDonald's hasn't handled the situation well. The Oak Brook, IL corporation first released a statement claiming, "under no circumstance was this customer denied any service at any of our locations." They later email the Chicago Sun Times, who broke this story, with the typical standard line that they take the allegations seriously and have a strict policy against discrimination.

This story is disturbing on every level. Each employee who treated this woman with such disrespect should immediately be fired. The company needs to make a passionate public apology and make a big donation to a charity of Larson's choice. Then they should cut her a big check that will put her kids on easy street for the rest of their lives...Check out the Sun Times story, which include photos of this courageous mother of four.

Bush Grants Scooter Clemency
Prison term commuted, still on probation and will pay fines

By now you've heard that President Bush has commuted the prison sentence of Lewis "Scooter" Libby, former chief of staff for V.P. Dick Cheney. Reaction regarding this decision has been predictable. Democrats, especially the Presidential candidates, have jumped on the disagreement bandwagon, while Republicans mostly support the decision.

The fact of the matter is that Libby was found guilty of obstruction of justice, which is a crime not to be taking lightly. However, his punishment was in my opinion too severe. 30 months in jail, 250k fine and probation. This was a first offense for Libby.

President Bush was correct to not comment about the case until it went to a jury and the appeal process was near completion. His decision to commute the prison portion of the sentence was the right thing to do. If Libby would of been given a sentence of a year or less, I would had not agreed with the Presidents ruling, but 30 months in addition to the fines and probation was wrong. The former V.P. Chief of Staff is still on probation and will pay a 250k fine.

While the media makes a huge deal about this decision and condemns the President as whole. Let's remember that the clemency bar was lowered by former President's Ford and Clinton.

Ford pardoned President Nixon, which ultimately cost him the 1976 election. To Ford's credit, he did so because he felt it was in the best interest of the country to end the "national nightmare." On the other hand Bill Clinton Pardoned Marc Rich, who was convicted of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, criminal forfeiture and trading with Iran in violation of trade embargo. Lets's not forget former Congressman Mel Reynolds (D-IL), who had sex with a 16-year old campaign worker. Clinton commuted his sentence, which included bank fraud.

Bush was right, Clinton was wrong and Ford...I'll let history decide.

Happy Birthday America

You can catch Paulie at the Highland Park Parade marching with the Republican Jewish Coalition. I'm the fat, one-armed guy with the beautiful family.

God Bless the United States of America



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