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Showing posts from June, 2015

You go, Bree!

Ending Juneteenth on a positive note, it was a very gratifying moment to see Bree Newsome take matters into her own hands and lower the Confederate flag for South Carolina.  Of course, she and her compatriot were subsequently arrested and now face charges for defacing public property.  But, as you can see from the video, she didn't drop the flag and her spot man carefully folded it up and handed it over to police.  It was a very respectful show of public disobedience, and I imagine charges will eventually be dropped.

What goes around, comes around

It seems it is no longer in corporate interest to associate itself with inflammatory symbols or individuals, especially when an individual attacks the fastest growing demographic group in the United States.  The Donald has been fired by NBC, largely over the comments he made at his presidential launching party at Trump Tower.  Not surprisingly, Univision will no longer associate itself with him either.

Just last week, Fox had enough of Sarah Palin, releasing her from a contract.  In this case, it appears to be more a lack of relevance than any inflammatory thing she said, since Fox tends to give its faux news celebrities a very long leash.

Rush Limbaugh also finds his viewing audience shrinking, as more and more radio stations are dumping his program.  Of course, you can still find him all over the Internet, mostly on Media Matters, which is singularly obsessed with the old windbag.

The Donald may just be the worst human being on the face of the earth.  Sadly, he seems to relish that…

Look away, Dixieland

The Religious Right  is entertaining if nothing else.  A Texas pastor threatened to set himself on fire if the Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay marriage.  Now we can only wait and see if Rick Scarborough goes through with his fiery threat.

It was a rough week for Evangelical Conservatives, particularly those in the South, who not only saw the SCOTUS open the flood gates to gay marriage, but Dixie flags taken down all over their fair region.  Adding to the Trifecta of Horror is that the Affordable Care Act now appears here to stay, as the SCOTUS also ruled against the faux case against federal subsidies, essentially ending the five-year war Conservatives have waged against "Obamacare."
What's a religious conservative to do now, other than to immolate himself?  It seems our Republican candidates are going to take the case to the people, their people anyway.  Ted Cruz has vowed to make his opposition to gay marriage central to his campaign.  He is not alone in this stan…

The Southern Strategy - RIP

To read Matt Lewis' article you would think the GOP lost its soul when it made its play for the disaffected Dixiecrats in the 1960s with the so-called "Southern Strategy."  I don't think Barry Goldwater actually set out to win the hearts of angry segregationists but that's what happened in 1964, with Barry winning a handful of Southern states in an otherwise "blue tidal wave" that swamped his campaign.

Goldwater championed state rights, but not at the expense of Blacks.  After all, he was an active proponent of a desegregated military, starting with the Arizona National Guard.  But, Goldwater is remembered most for his opposition to the Civil Rights Bill of 1964, and as such garnered the support of Strom Thurmond and other recalcitrant Southern leaders who cast their lot behind him in the general election that year.

This very narrow legacy was subsequently exploited by Nixon and Reagan to great affect.  Racial bating became standard operating procedure…

The Americanization of the Apple

It's strange how our society loves a great diversity in flowers but tends to like generic fruits and vegetables.  In the first chapter of Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan charts the incredible adventure of the apple from the mountains of Kazakhstan to the rolling hills of Indiana and Ohio.  The apple is so incredibly diverse that no seed will yield exactly the same fruit, which is why Chinese figured out long ago that to get their desired fruit they had to take cuttings from their favorite trees.  A practice developed in Europe by the Romans.

The apple found its way to America in the 17th century and quickly became a priced fruit, not so much for its succulent taste as for hard cider.  This was the reason Pollan suggests John Chapman, A.K.A. Johnny Appleseed, brought the apple to the Northwest Territory in the early 19th century.  The man has since become mythologized to the point most persons see him chomping on red delicious apples while spreading the word of God.  At the time,…


You don't hear much of Juneteenth, celebrated in the month of June, when in 1865 slavery was officially abolished in Texas.  Ralph Ellison spent the second half of his life crafting a novel around this theme, only to die before completing a manuscript that had stretched to over 2000 pages.  In 1999, his literary executor, John F. Callahan, put together a condensed form of the novel that met mixed reviews.  I'm still waiting for the unabridged novel.

In it, we meet a young "hi-yaller" man who passes for white, and eventually becomes consumed with hatred for his own race.   Ellison's ambition was to create a grand symphony of a novel that dealt with the multi-layered aspects of being Black in America, something along the lines of Duke Ellington's Black, Brown and Beige Suite.  Ellison's first protagonist sought to be invisible in society.  In Juneteenth, Bliss makes himself all too visible and defiant in his attempt to eradicate his past.

Ellison had been…

Stars and Bars

... or "The Stainless Banner" as it was called at the time, was the Confederate war flag adopted as its "national" flag in 1863.  It flew over the South for all of two years, proudly representing their defiance in the face of "Northern Aggression," particularly during the sieges of Vicksburg and Atlanta, which immortalized the "Lost Cause."

That's some heritage!  The previous Confederate flag was adopted in 1861 before hostilities broke out, and amended to include all 13 seceding states after the war had started.  Yet, you don't see this one flying over state buildings in South Carolina.

South Carolina has a long history of secession attempts, dating back to 1832, when it first tried to dodge the Tariff Act of 1828 by claiming it had a right to its sovereign boundaries since its constitution preceded that of the United States.  The dispute was eventually settled by Andrew Jackson, an anti-Federalist himself, with the Compromise Tariff A…


If Reince Priebus is having a hard time reining in the Koch Brothers, he now has the $8 billion man to contend with.  The Human Hair Piece has officially launched his campaign, producing a one-page financial disclosure that has already been called into question.  Whether his net worth is $8.7 billion (as he states) or $4.1 billion (as Forbes states), he is still a very rich man, despite four filed bankruptcies over the last 25 years.  Obviously, "it worked out very well for him."

This isn't the first time he has declared himself a candidate for President, in 2000 he briefly launched a bid for the Reform Party nominee, claiming that Pat Buchanan was only in it for the $12 million in federal matching dollars the party qualified for after Ross Perot elevated the Reformists to national contention.  The Donald didn't need to waste his time with such paltry figures, he could generate all the cash he needed.  But, his bid didn't go very far and Pat ended up representi…

The Education of Rachel Dolezal

In an odd way, Rachel Dolezal may be learning what it is like to be black now that she has been outed.  She finds herself ostracized from a community she had fully attached herself to and unable to immediately return to the community she was once part of.  The only difference is that TLC or some other cable network is probably already shaping a reality show around her, much like Caitlyn Jenner is due to have her coming out party this Fall.

Even odder is how readily Caitlyn Jenner's transformation has been accepted by the mainstream media, to the point ESPN even gave "her" the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, but Rachel is viewed as a pariah.  Hasn't Bruce appropriated a new gender for his own vanity, without having had to really know what it is like to be a woman in society?  His status as an honored Olympic athlete and his proximity to the Kardashians have allowed him to live what can only be described as a charmed life, but to hear him tell it, he has "suffered&quo…

Black Like Me

No one likes to be punked, especially one's parents, who cried foul when their daughter had invented a rough and tumble family of her own to gain entry in the Spokane black community, where she quickly rose up the ladder to become the local head of the NAACP.   To hear her parents tell it, the last straw was when Rachel reported a "threatening package" to local police, which the post office challenged.

Her parents decided to pull the plug on their daughter's masquerade, providing photographs that showed she was white and described her heritage as primarily Czech.  It proved to be a tough blow for Rachel, who had to step down from her head post of the local NCAAP chapter amid all the furor surrounding this startling revelation.  She has managed to upstage Bruce, I mean Caitlyn Jenner, which is no small feat.

There have been no end of jokes at her expense, but some comics have chosen to leave Rachel alone.  Dave Chappelle simply doesn't want to go there, which i…

Nice job, Democrats

One can certainly argue that President Obama didn't do enough to bring Democrats on board the Trans-Pacific Partnership at the early stages of discussion, but what Congressional Democrats have done is gut one of the few safeguards this treaty agreement had to offer in the way of protection for American workers.  The humiliating rebuff, as the Washington Post calls it, will probably come back to haunt Democrats in the election cycle, as the TAA, which the trade adjustment assistance is referred to, is crucial in leveling the playing field in this bold new trade agreement.

Many Republicans joined Democrats in defeating the TAA because they see it as wasteful to the overall deal.  Dems mostly want to see the fast-tracking aspect of the trade agreement removed, but since that wasn't up for a vote they went after the TAA, essentially throwing a monkey wrench into the works.  Michigan Democrat Daniel Kildee put it bluntly, "if I'm opposed to [fast-track] authority, it'…


Jeb was always regarded as the "smart one" among Pere Bush's four sons, but it seems that somewhere along the line he lost his edge over his three brothers.  So far, he hasn't distinguished himself on the campaign trail, and now his past statements are coming back to haunt him in a big way.

In 1995, when Jeb first ran for Florida governor against Lawton Chiles, he felt it incumbent upon himself to write a book, as all aspiring politicians seem to do these days.  In it, he gave his thoughts on character and how to better mold it, including a sub-chapter on "Shame."  Jeb felt there was something seriously amiss in our society and that maybe we needed to bring back public shaming to put persons back in line.  He referenced Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, which he probably would have been best advised to read again before making these judgments.  Jeb lost his bid in 1995, but won handily in 1999 over Buddy McKay.

Apparently, his thoughts on shami…

The Politics of Stupid

A politician can be forgiven a few miscues, after all he or she is trying to appeal to a large cross-section of voters and it is easy to get lost in his or her own rhetoric from time to time.  However, this presidential campaign looks like it will keep Politifact very busy.

The problem is that candidates don't seem to work from the same set of data.  They present conflicting reports, if they bother to do so at all, on everything from the Affordable Care Act to Climate Change.  It's not like this data can't be checked.  For matters concerning the government, we have the Government Accounting Office, or GAO, which is bipartisan.  For matters of science, we have a variety of esteemed sources to draw from.   But, if these facts don't play into your political message, they tend to be discarded, so the candidates will turn to other less reliable sources in an attempt to bolster their arguments.

So far, Ted Cruz has been the loosest with the facts, according to Politifact, …

Rick Santorum v. the Pope

Rick is the kind of guy who generally thinks he has God on his side, but in his latest battle he is going up against the Pope himself.  In the Catholic Church, you can't get any closer to God than the Holy Pontiff, but Rick seems to think he still has God on his side.

It has to be one of the more absurd developments on the Campaign Trail 2016.  Rick is upset that the Pope is speaking out on climate change, believing that the Pope has other things to worry about than the Earth.   What has angered conservatives like Rick is that the Pope plans to release a new encyclical that will encourage priests to give more attention to climate change.  In Santorum's mind, the Pope should focus on heavenly matters and leave earthly matters to politicians like himself.  It doesn't matter that the Pope has a Master's degree in Chemistry, Rick thinks the Vatican is way out of line.  Of course, he is not alone in this opinion, but being Catholic I guess he feels more compelled to say so…

An Oyster the size of Manhattan

I remember being a disappointed the first time I had Oysters Rockefeller.  I wasn't a big fan of spinach so the fancy dish was lost on me.  I associated it with New York, but apparently it was the invention of Antoine's Restaurant in New Orleans back in 1901 in honor of John D. Rockefeller.  The original green puree had no spinach, but rather was a mixture of parsley, watercress and other herbs, which lends itself better to seafood.

A few years back, Mark Kurlansky chose to tell the history of New York from the perspective of the oyster, which has an underlying midden of shells discarded by native Americans centuries ago.  On the surface, it seems like a great idea for a book, but Kathryn Hughes questions his thesis in this review.  In her mind, Kurlansky has taken the single commodity history genre one book too far in trying to tell a complex history through oyster anecdotes.  Maybe so, but at a pence on it is hard to resist.

I grew up in Northwest Florida, wher…

The New Israelites

Harry Truman said a long time ago on the Palestinian Question that Israel had a better lobbying group, which is why he ultimately recognized the Jewish state despite his public misgivings.   Apparently, what Truman wanted was an Arab-Jewish federation, or binational state, which would have given Jews and Palestinians equal voice in government, but Israel rendered that question moot when it declared independence in 1948.  Since then, the United States has been its staunchest ally.  Even Truman found himself revising his opinions on the Jewish state in his memoirs.

It is understandable that Americans would be such ardent supporters despite the anti-Semitism that had long been on display in the country.  Roosevelt made no attempt to intercede on the behalf of German Jewish passengers aboard the S.S. St. Louis, which found itself docked off the coast of Cuba in 1939 hoping to secure passage on its way to the United States.  The ship was turned back, and the 900 Jews were forced to return…


To read this article in Slate, Cheneyism is alive and well.  Long considered the Bush Doctrine, the National Security Strategy developed during his administration was largely the creation of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.  They had revived the hawkish foreign policy of the Reagan administration after what many Republicans considered to be the soft policy of Clinton, who preferred to maintain a no-fly zone over Iraq rather than oust the embattled strongman once and for all.

The aggressive foreign policy of the Reagan administration had largely been to fund what was regarded as sympathetic insurgency movements in Central America, using whatever hook or crook necessary.  We were still fighting Communism at the time, and we wanted to get rid of the socialist government in Nicaragua, among others.  This led to the notorious Iran-Contra affair, which resulted in several top ranking Reagan officials being indicted, notably Ollie North.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, many former soci…