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Showing posts from February, 2016

Everyone Love Martin

As Black History Month rolls to an end, one of the most interesting developments is how everyone loves Martin these days.  Martin Luther King, Jr. that is.  He has been used to defend  gun rights and commemorated by no less than Donald Trump for his "record-breaking crowd" at Liberty University this past January.  Everywhere you turn, conservatives are heaping praise on MLK, especially in condemning Black Lives Matter, which they seem to think Martin would have never approved of.  Here is Fox and Friends using his niece Alveda King to say that her uncle would never have condoned such a group.

This kind of cultural appropriation is nothing new.  Few would ever admit that Memorial Day stems from a commemoration first held by Black Freedmen in Charleston, South Carolina, on May 1, 1865.  Black music was appropriated throughout the 20th century by everyone from George Gershwin to Elvis Presley to the Beastie Boys.  One can also find it throughout the fashion industry, in art a…

O.J. Simpson vs. the Criminal Justice System

You knew it had to come and here it is -- The People vs. O.J. Simpson in all its lurid details for the Millennial generation that was still in diapers when the Trial of the Century took place.  Today this show trial acts more as a footnote to the racial strife that dominates network television, where a Super Bowl halftime show becomes prime fodder for round-the-clock cable news thanks in large part to the bodice-busting Beyonce, who appears to be every white conservative male pundit's wet dream, and her controversial X.

I'm of two minds whether to watch this new crime serial or not.  On the one hand, it is from the hands of American Horror Story creator, Ryan Murphy, who is drawn to all the lurid urban horror stories like a moth to a flame.  He is using this trial to launch a new string of mini-series appropriately entitled American Crime Story.  He couldn't have started with a more juicy trial, especially with the Kardashians as a convenient reference point for the Mille…

Being Glenn Beck

I guess if Donald Trump can claim the ghost of John Wayne, then why can't Ted Cruz claim George Washington?  However, I have to question if Glenn Beck is the official spokesman for George Washington.

The conservative talk show host has been tromping around the Cruz campaign trail, offering up artifacts like a compass and an 18th century copy of Don Quixote, claiming they once belonged to George Washington.  He says "America needs someone like Cruz who displays the exactness of a surveyor."  That's almost enough for anyone to spit his coffee out on the keyboard.  One can say many things about Cruz, but "exactness" is not one of them.

Don Quixote would be the more apt comparison -- a person with a spittoon on his head that holds onto an archaic set of Medieval knight-errantry values, battling windmills and declaring his love for an old hag in a tavern he thinks is his queen and lady despite the numerous rejections.  Why Glenn would want to hold this book as …

The Losing Game

Getting a good return on your investment is pretty rare in politics.  What amazes me is how big businessmen will sink their money into losing efforts when the writing was on the wall all along.  Maybe they thought a huge SuperPAC would carry any candidate through the primaries, but with Jeb calling it quits just three primaries into the election season, the role of big money is now being called into question.

Oddly enough it is Donald Trump who is questioning that line of reasoning.  He's more than capable of funding himself, yet has relied on twitter, instagram, numerous appearances on television news programs, as well as "Trumpkins," cyber bullies and trolls to get his message out.  He has spent far less money than any other major candidate in this campaign, and gotten the most bang for his buck.  
In Iowa, Trump spent $90 per vote as opposed to Bush's $795.  In New Hampshire, the Donald spent even less at $40 per vote, as opposed to Jeb's $1200.  Only Ted di…

Goodbye Harper Lee

Harper Lee had a very short-lived return to the limelight with the publication of a long lost novel, Go Set a Watchman.  It was met with mixed reviews, largely because the novel tarnished the image of Atticus Finch we all had from To Kill a Mockingbird, widely regarded as one of the best American novels of the 20th century.

To Set a Watchman actually predated To Kill a Mockingbird, but never was published because her editor, Tay Hohoff, felt it would be best for Lee to focus on Scout's childhood.  The runaway success of her latter novel meant that her first novel was tossed into the dustbin of history.  It probably would never have been resurrected had not Ms. Lee regained attention in 2007, when George Bush awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  Unlike most authors, Lee had only one novel to her credit, and everyone was curious if there was more.  So, we were presented with To Set a Watchman in 2015, as it seems Lee didn't try to publish anything after To Kill a Mock…

Captain Obvious shoots himself in the foot

or how Jeb's "America" backfires

As Jeb's campaign self-destructs in South Carolina, it is clear that some persons are much better at pandering to the base of the GOP than others.  Jeb is very bad at it. Not only did he shoot himself in the foot with one of his more recent tweets, but his website recently expired and his server redirected persons to Trump's website.  Talk about the ultimate humiliation.

It doesn't stop there.  Jeb spent most of the past few weeks trying to woo Gov. Nikki Haley's endorsement in the upcoming South Carolina primary only for her to endorse Marco Rubio.  Jeb looked positively beaten in this video interview.  It was hard for "Captain Obvious" to put a smile on what has transpired in the Palmetto State.

From the get-go, Jeb has been running his campaign like it was 1999, and I mean that literally.  His campaign team has been blithely unaware of how the internet works, much less how effective it can be as a campaign too…

The Political Tale of Horny Bill and Calamity Hillary

or How I Learned to Love Bill Clinton

Historians will no doubt have a field day with the Clintons in the years to come, especially if Hillary wins in November.  There has never been anything in American history to compare with this power couple, which ruled Arkansas for 11 years and has the potential to make it 16 years in the White House.  Add to that Hillary's 8 years in the Senate and 4 years as Secretary of State.  There was even an attempt at one point to nominate Bill as Secretary General of the United Nations after Kofi Annan stepped down.

The amazing thing to me is how this marriage survived given all the recorded affairs Horny Bill had.  Yet, Calamity Hillary stood by her man, and even helped shush some of the women who brought charges against Bill in the 90s.  Bill's 1992 campaign looked like it was going to unravel much like Gary Hart's campaign eight years before, but thanks to Hillary's unflinching support, Bill survived the numerous sexual allegations tha…

Welcome to the Dumbest Show on Earth

Trump joins Michael Savage in fueling conspiracy theories around the death of Scalia.  Ted Cruz promises no gluten-free MRE's if he is commander-in-chief.  Jeb believes a hand gun is the symbol of America.  Marco Rubio said he was faking it when he showed support for the immigration reform bill back in 2013.  Ben Carson thinks Muslims who embrace American values are schizophrenic.  And, John Kasich doubles down on his proposal to create a new government agency to promote Judeo-Christian values.

This is all well and good as far as South Carolinians are concerned.  A  PPP poll found some rather disturbing opinions being expressed in the Palmetto State.  Not surprisingly, most South Carolinians believe the Stars and Bars should still be flying over the state capitol, but what is alarming is the degree of anti-Muslim sentiment among state residents.  Not only did 25 per cent of those polled believe Islam should be banned in America, but 47 per cent supported Trump's idea of creat…

The ten-dollar founding father without a father

It's a strange day, to say the least, when Hamilton becomes the most talked about event at the Grammy Awards.  Well, that and Taylor Swift's smackdown of Kanye West with another vicious retort in their on-going feud.

It must be every historian's dream to have his biography of a famous figure made into a Broadway production.  This is exactly what happened with Ron Chernow's epic account of Alexander Hamilton.  There is no doubt that AH was a colorful figure.  He was the illegitimate son of a British-French Huguenot woman and a Scottish laird on the Caribbean island of Nevis, who didn't look like he was going anywhere until adopted by a Nevis merchant who saw great potential in the young man.  Young Alexander won an essay contest that so impressed community leaders that they raised the money to send him to North America for an education.

Hamilton always seemed to be a step ahead of his contemporaries, earning the favor of George Washington during the War for Indep…

In George we trust

President's Day is usually a time for sales, everything from mattresses to trucks, as it is out with the old and in with new.  People start thinking about Spring even if still buried in snow.  There are parades and every year a pretty good-sized crowd descends on Mount Vernon to honor our first president.  Admission is free so why not.  I feel most remiss in never having visited Mt. Vernon, even though I had the chance to do so when I lived in Washington, DC.

While most presidents have an air of controversy surrounding them, George has managed to skate clean through the centuries virtually unsullied.  Sure, there are those who complain that he was a slaveholder.  Every year there is a new story about Washington and his slaves, like this one from the Smithsonian that highlighted one of his slaves who escaped rather than be made a wedding present.

Of our first 12 presidents, only two didn't own slaves.  You probably guessed that is the Adams family -- father and son.  Even Mart…

Scalia is Dead

The Republicans lose their biggest ideologue, casting a cloud over the election cycle.  Republican candidates were quick to politicize the Supreme Court justice's death by demanding that the Senate not give into any of Obama's "liberal appointees," while the President struck a more conciliatory and somber tone, saying he will nominate a successor.  It is doubtful that the Senate will agree on a nominee but stranger things have happened.

I guess you could call it a pre-emptive strike on the part of the Republicans, who were quick to evoke the Thurmond Rule.  The only problem is that Uncle Strom's unwritten rule only applies in the last 6 months of a President's term, which as John Oliver noted, doesn't begin until July 20.  It seems the GOP panicked when they heard the news, oh boy!

It is hard to feel too much sympathy for Scalia, who has often struck an inflammatory tone on his decisions, but apparently he was a real pussy cat outside the Supreme Court c…

Oh Hillary!

I was hoping Hillary would sit this election cycle out and we would see some new faces in the Democratic primaries.  Instead, we end up with a 74-year old activist as the voice of the young people in the Democratic Party, polling 84% among Millennials and consistently destroying Hillary in social media polls.  In fact, Bernie outpolls Hillary in all the demographic groups except Baby Boomers.

2016 has been a weird election year and it just got weirder with Team Hillary now challenging Bernie's Civil Rights creds.  They called on the Democratic Black Caucus, John Lewis, in particular, to question if Bernie was even there back in 1963 when they all were walking the walk.  Lewis claims he never saw Bernie at any Civil Rights Rally.  Of course, the March on Washington, which Bernie attended, was a very large affair so it isn't surprising that they didn't brush shoulders.  However, John made it sound like Bernie's involvement in the Civil Rights movement was minimal at bes…

Black is Beautiful

You have to hand it to Beyonce for making the Black Panthers and Malcolm X a part of Black History Month whether Middle America wanted it or not.  Fox News is still raging over her Super Bowl Halftime performance, with many of their guests calling it "racist" that she could reference these notorious figures in her routine.  Many have compared her performance to the KKK, despite the fact that no crosses were burned during the program.  Suffice it to say, the Black Panthers and Malcolm X are generally seen in a bad light, even by black police sergeants.

Maybe this is a good time to find out more about the two.  For starters, the Black Panthers were founded on Malcolm X's concept of black nationalism.  Malcolm X was assassinated in 1965, which was one of the reasons Beyonce was referring to him, and the Black Panthers were formed the following year in Oakland, coincidentally the same year as Super Bowl I.  She, like many others, have linked the two to Black Lives Matter, w…