Saturday, June 24, 2017

3 Chords & the Truth: An amazing audio value!


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Friday, June 23, 2017

Want to know why the Democrats can't win? This.


If we're honest, many of us who fear for our country under a reckless and unstable president who's bucking to become a reckless and unstable dictator have had our fleeting "Will no one rid us of this nut with the nuclear codes?" moments.

That always is followed by a mental checklist of all the ways that would be really, really bad. "It'd spark a civil war" is on there somewhere. The last item is "Congratulations. You will have just become what you abhor."

That last thing is rather the point of William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar . . . that play the Republicans so love to hate, now that theater companies are staging it with a Caesar who looks like Donald Trump and not one who looks like Barack Obama. That last thing is the acknowledgement that empowering one's darkest impulses  is to cast off even the veneer of civilization; it is to become a murderer to stop a despoiler, to destroy this democracy in order to save it.


You feel bad thinking it. You feel ashamed to admit to thinking it. You resolve that surely there is another way, even in the face of an unprecedented threat to American democracy and civil society.

That, I would think, is the reaction of normal, self-aware Americans. That is not the reaction, obviously, of many in the Democratic base. Enter Phil Montag, a now-former official of the Nebraska Democratic Party.
Nebraska Democratic Party Chair Jane Kleeb removed a party official from his post today after a recording surfaced of him making offensive remarks about the shooting of U.S. Rep Steve Scalise. 
Kleeb removed Phil Montag on Thursday morning as co-chair of the state party’s technology committee after The World-Herald sent her a link to the recording on a black advocacy website. 
In the recording, Montag said he wished Scalise was dead, and he called the Louisiana Republican obscene names. The conversation took place in a private home in Omaha between Montag, Nebraska Democratic Party Black Caucus Chair Chelsey Gentry-Tipton and a friend of hers. In an interview Thursday, Montag said that he was “horrified” by the shooting of Scalise and all gun violence, that he “absolutely” did not wish Scalise was dead and that the recording had been edited to take his words out of context. 
“I did not call for the congressman’s death,” Montag said. 
Scalise, the House majority whip, and four other people were shot June 14 at a Washington, D.C., area baseball field as Republicans practiced for a congressional baseball game. The gunman was shot and later died. Scalise’s injuries were life-threatening; he is still hospitalized and listed in fair condition. 
On Thursday, Kleeb acted immediately upon hearing the recording. 
“This is the first I am hearing this,” Kleeb said by email Thursday morning. “As soon as I heard it, I sent it to the (party) officers and then sent an email to Phil Montag informing him I am removing him from his appointed position as Co-Chair of the Technology Committee. ... Wishing a Member of Congress or any individual dead is disgusting and has no place in our party.”
IF THIS IS how a Democratic activist is talking in Omaha, Neb., I'm not sure I want to know what the activist Democratic base is saying in San Francisco. Again, from the Omaha World-Herald:
Motherf***er (R-La.)
In the recording, Montag, referring to Scalise, says “this (obscenity), his whole job is to get people, convince Republicans to (obscenity) kick people off of (obscenity) health care. ... I’m glad he got shot. I’m not gonna (obscenity) say that publicly.”

“Well then what are you saying it to us for?” a friend of Gentry-Tipton, Destin Madison, asks in the recording.

“I wish he was (obscenity) dead,” Montag says as the recording continues.

“Why are you telling us but not telling anyone else?” Madison asks.

“Because I’m trying to figure this (obscenity) out,” Montag replied.
I DON'T KNOW about you, but if I know so little about Steve Scalise that I'm referring to him as "that Scaife guy," I certainly don't know enough about the man to have any idea whatsoever whether or not he's a "motherf***er." "Motherf***er" is the first (obscenity) in the newspaper account.

I mean, I usually try to know what someone's name is before calling him a motherf***er. That's just me.

And even when I feel I do know enough about someone to drop the mother of all curse words on him and his from 5,000 feet, it's my practice -- and again, I don't know about you -- not to do it in front of people I don't know well enough to know they're not recording it for the benefit of YouTube.

Obviously, wishing a fellow human being dead is, shall we say, morally fraught. The propensity to do so is not a quality one looks to emulate. Neither is being happy others have been shot and grievously wounded.

But then we get to the part where we're wondering just how stupid does a party official have to be to talk like this, no matter whether it's in public, in private or in one's sleep. Is the political party of Phil Montag one in which you'd place your confidence?




From the Google cache of Montag's now-deleted Medium blog

I UNDERSTAND why Montag is furious at the congressional Republican motherf . . . the congressional Republicans. I understand. I passed furious and entered into heartsick months, if not years, ago.

It's clear that, to Montag, ripping health insurance away from millions will cause untold scores of people, devoid of means and of coverage, to avoid seeking help. And many -- like Montag's friend Devon -- will die because of that.

My wife and I have buried all of our parents. Three of them died in nursing homes or in assisted living. One was on Medicaid at the end. You think we're not abjectly terrified of what our future holds in Trump's America? In Republican America?

But the thing is this: Why should we have any confidence that Democrats would wield power any less intemperately than the Republican Party of Donald Trump, Steve King, Mitch McConnell and Steve Scalise?

How can you lead a county or a state, much less a country, when you hate half of it so much that it's permissible to wish those people "f***ing dead"? After all, a lot of Americans out there think Scalise is doing a heck of a job.

Right now, it's clear than Montag has done a "heck of a job" for Nebraska Democrats . . . in the "Brownie" sense of the phrase. I wonder what he thinks of all those Trumpkin Republicans who wish all the "libtards" were "f***ing dead"?

If they weren't before, they might be now. They know, just as I know, that Montag is far from alone in the Democratic Party. If the Democrats really want to know why they just can't win -- even with the specter of Mad King Donald hanging over us all like an orange-hued Sword of Damocles -- that just might be why.

Listen, I am no Republican. You know those ubiquitous "tests" you find on Facebook? I took the political version of one of those; it said that, economically, I'm 75 percent socialist and that in most other areas, I'm centrist. The test said I should, in reality, be a European-style Christian Democrat.

On the other hand, I am no Democrat. I used to be one, but I also am a Catholic. The Democrats have spent years trying to convince people like me that we're no longer welcome in the party. Finally, with their unyielding attitude about the "contraception mandate" under Obamacare, the Democrats finally persuaded me.

So I left.

NOW, with the national uproar over the Omaha mayoral election -- yes, the national uproar over the Omaha mayoral election -- the party's national committee chair made it clear that pro-lifers no longer are welcome in the party. Let's see how that works out for them.

So far, we have established that prominent Democrats want pro-lifers out of the party. We have established that a local party insider, Montag, would like some Republicans "f***ing dead." And I, as a Catholic who believes what his church proclaims, have a pretty good idea that when exposed to exactly what the Catholic Church proclaims, a lot of Democrat true believers might want me "f***ing dead," too.

Of course, believing what the Catholic Church proclaims puts me pretty substantially to the left of many Democrats on a lot of things, but that's not important now. Because the problem with Democrats is, like Republicans, it never was about people -- and it sure is hell never was about "diversity" or "tolerance" or being able to "coexist."

It's about ideology. It's about the "ism." It, just like with the Republicans, ultimately is about radical autonomy and individualism. Some might call that "alienation." I would.

What it's not about is the common good. What it's not about is authentic freedom.

"Do what thou wilt," yes. Freedom, no. Those who object will be dealt with, right Mr. Montag?


THEY WILL be dealt with, just like biology professor Bret Weinstein at Washington's Evergreen State College.

"That's unfair!" Democratic activists and officials would say right about now. Maybe it is, but it really doesn't matter. That is how Democrats' social-issue monomania and their ideological intolerance have allowed the entire party to be defined across the great heartland of the United States -- to the point that it's barely even a viable political party across wide expanses of the South and Great Plains.

You know, like Nebraska. I wonder why.

A lot of Americans don't wonder at all. Thanks to Democrats like Phil Montag, they know exactly why . . . which is why they keep voting Republican.

You have to be pretty bad off as a political party to make your opposition, which has gone full neofascist, seem reasonable by comparison.


Looking across the dystopian landscape of America's dysfunctional politics, one wonders whether we're just plain finished as a country. It seems unpatriotic to think it, but you fear that we may have lived to see the end of "us" and the beginning of "me and all those other motherf***ers."

If that's the case, we're all going to end up "f***ing dead."

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Is this heaven?


Is this heaven?

Well, it's the College World Series on a hot summer evening
in Omaha . . . so we're in the neighborhood, at least.

Geaux, Tigers!

Click for full size version

Thursday, June 15, 2017

'Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace. . . .'

Click for full-size screenshot

This obviously isn't akin to laying eyes upon the Christ child in the temple but somebody, somewhere, is feeling rather like Simeon in the Gospel of Luke -- he can die in peace now, having seen this home page of the Jonesboro Sun.

It is a triumph on every level -- including, note well, story placement.

I am not sure we want to live in a world where there is not an Arkansas. I'm not saying we want to live in Arkansas, mind you. . . .

Monday, June 12, 2017

This was the city: Omaha, Nebraska


It was a Saturday — July 3. It was hot and muggy in Omaha, Nebraska.

We got up at the usual time that morning, 7:45. About 8:30, we started to open every window, turn on every fan.

We started to draw the blinds to block the hot sun come afternoon. It was supposed to be almost 90.

While we were doing that, we turned on the radio. My brother’s Winthrop. We call him Stinky. The boss was Dad. My name’s Favog.

GREAT. Mom left the thing on KFAB, not KOWH. Must have been listening to her soap operas. I always preferred Sandy Jackson.

Eight forty-five. What was "Big Mike" selling now? He was talking to the salad dressing guy -- Louis Albert. It seemed strangely interesting.

We sat down to listen. . . .



Saturday, June 10, 2017

3 Chords & the Truth: Hot planet, cool music


Welcome to 3 Chords & the Truth: The "Climate change? What climate change? Why have my Chuck Taylors melted onto the sidewalk?" edition.
 
Did I mention that it's going to be about 100 degrees in Omaha today?

Damn Chinese and their insidious global warming hoaxes!

Must think cool musical thoughts. Must. Think. Cool. Musical. Thoughts.


It's the Big Show, y'all. Be there. Aloha.



Tuesday, June 06, 2017

With friends like the United States . . . .



Buckingham Palace
London
Sept. 12, 2001
It is a military ceremony that has been performed countless times at Buckingham Palace but rarely has the Changing of the Guard evoked so much emotion for American ex-patriates in London and transatlantic visitors alike. 
Usually, several hundred onlookers, mostly foreign tourists, line the pavement in front of the palace to see the centuries-old tradition, which dates back to 1660. 
But yesterday, in the absence of few other focal points in the capital for the American community to gather, thousands of Americans stood in front of the palace to mourn their fellow countrymen and women who died in the terrorist attack on their homeland. 
For the first time, the Queen allowed her troops to play The Star Spangled Banner, the national anthem of the United States, during the ceremony in tribute to the many who died.
Standing beyond the palace railings, many of the 5,000 Americans broke down in tears and held their right hands over their heart in salute.
At first, the anthem, played by the band of the Coldstream Guards, was heard in a hushed silence and then slowly, one by one, many started singing until the words of The Star Spangled Banner echoed across Green Park.
As the final notes of the anthem faded away, the musical tribute from the British armed forces, so warmly welcomed by those present, was greeted by a round of applause before a two-minute silence was observed.
Traffic on The Mall, one of central London's busiest thoroughfares, came to a halt during the tribute.


* * *


White House
Washington, D.C.
June 3-5, 2017

It's been 16 years almost, and Britain's heartfelt and dignified tribute to the United States on Sept, 12, 2001, still makes me cry.

In this latest hour of heartbreak for our old friend -- and after our president's hard-hearted, classless and deeply stupid "tweetstorms" -- all Americans should be hanging their heads in shame right now.

Being that he was elected, and being that 37 percent of the people think this stupid orange lout can do no wrong, I fear Donald Trump does represent who we are as a country right now.

With "friends" like us, the Free World scarcely needs enemies. Never have I been so ashamed to be an American.

Much to remember

Pardon me if I'm a little bit offended by the traitor-in-chief invoking the memory of D-Day to seem vaguely "presidential."

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Nailed it: A vulgar talking yam


The really noxious stuff was all that simpering about how the rest of the world is playing us for suckers and laughing at us, as though the rest of the world doesn't think we've lost our mind as a nation simply by electing a vulgar talking yam.
CHARLES P. PIERCE
Esquire

The onslaught of vile, stupid acts by the (gag) president of the United States is such that mere mortals soon run out of words and descriptions worthy of the bile boiling up from the depths of our tortured, twisting guts.

Donald Trump's latest civic sacrilege was enough to leave even the wordsmiths among the American people straining in their speech and at their keyboards for something fitting to the occasion -- apart from the vilest obscenities one could summon from the darkest corner of the id. In repudiating the Paris climate agreement, the existential threat in chief -- elected by civic suicide bombers making a stupid and futile gesture on America's behalf -- declared war on Earth itself, as well as generations of humanity yet to be born.

The withdrawal was an act as deeply ignorant and foolish as it was spiteful and aggressive.

This is the point where my words collapse into screams and speakable, but unprintable, curses against Trump and those who brought him into this world.


So, this is where I leave it to Esquire's Charles P. Pierce, whom words did not fail in the face of This Present Darkness. And, boy, did his words not fail.

In fact, he summed up the Stage 4 cancer consuming our body politic in just three magnificent words. Enjoy.

It used to be the young bucks and their T-bones, or the welfare queen with her Cadillac, who were leeching off good, hard-working Real Americans. It turns out Ronald Reagan was modest. On Thursday, in a speech that was such a towering pile of complete horseshit that it may well reach the moon, President* Donald Trump told the country that the rest of the world is now the craftiest welfare queen of them all.

I didn't think he could top his ghastly American Carnage inaugural address for sheer fact-free and paranoiac mendacity, but he managed to do it on Thursday. By announcing that the United States was withdrawing from the groundbreaking Paris Accords regarding the world climate crisis, the president* wallowed in rank, xenophobic victimhood while basking in the scattered applause of the otherwise unemployable yahoos whose self-respect is sufficiently low that they still work for him. Any doubt that Steve Bannon is running this White House now, either personally or through his finger-puppet, obvious anagram Reince Priebus, now has evaporated. The transformation of the American government into a Breitbart comments thread is complete.
It was appalling. It was condescending. It was awful content delivered by a dolt who wouldn't know the Paris Accords from a baguette without the shoddy talking points that someone put in front of him. For example, he read off a fanciful list of "consequences" for adhering to the Paris Accords down through the next decades. Afterwards, Ali Velshi, a welcome addition to the MSNBC cast of regulars, pointed out that the president* was reading from a debunked report that presumed in its analysis that the U.S. would fulfill every one of its agreed-upon conditions while no other participating country would fulfill any of theirs. This is not surprising. The president* would have read a commercial for hair-replacement if someone had put it in front of him.

The least objectionable element of the speech was its utter internal incoherence.

The United States will cease all implementation of the non-binding Paris Accord and the draconian economic and financial burden the agreement imposes on our country.
Paris was a non-binding and ineffective agreement, but it was "draconian" nonetheless. The economy is booming under his leadership, but the Paris Accord was destroying it at the same time. This was a speech written by a fool, to be delivered by a fool, with the presumption that a great percentage of its target audience is made up of fools.
But the really noxious stuff was the attempt at transforming a worldwide agreement to combat an existential threat to life on this planet into what he stupidly called a scheme to redistribute our wealth to China, as if we're all not going to be buying our solar panels from China for the next 50 years because of this cluck. The really noxious stuff was all that simpering about how the rest of the world is playing us for suckers and laughing at us, as though the rest of the world doesn't think we've lost our mind as a nation simply by electing a vulgar talking yam. The really noxious stuff was all his crocodile tears about the Forgotten People, as though a lot of them are not suffering through drought, or losing their houses to floods and to landslides, about which he and his people care nothing at all.
 THAT perfectly sums up Trump: A vulgar talking yam.

May this vile expression of the American id be known as the "vulgar talking yam" so long as the stars and stripes fly over this land. Which, at this rate, will be until the Thursday after next.

If we catch a break or two.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Don Bacon's singing soprano


One has to take one's tender mercies where one might find them.

If there's any small comfort in the nonsensical, position-free response of Don Bacon, the Omaha area's congressman, to President Trump deciding to burn down the world because "Screw foreigners!" it is the following.

There's no way in hell that male Republican politicians ever will replicate themselves. No balls.

I would say that's cold comfort, but not really. There's not going to be much terribly cold about anything in our future.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Meanwhile, at the Russian Embassy. . . .


That Donald Trump. He's such a card.

You say covfefe, I say covFEEfay

Things have come to a pretty pass
Our patience is going fast,
For you tweet this and the other
While we sit here aghast

Goodness knows what the end will be
Oh, your shit is just so bat
It looks as if our POTUS is quite plowed
Please, God! Not a mushroom cloud!

You say covFEHfay and I say covFEEfay,
You say GAMMA RAY! and I say YOU'RE CRAY-CRAY!
CovFEHfay, covFEEfay, gamma ray, you're cray-cray
Let's call the whole thing off!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Q: Are there not men? A: They're gesphincto.

Click on screenshot to enlarge

Once upon a time in Louisiana, the Jesuits owned WWL radio and television in New Orleans, and Douglas L. Manship was taking to the airwaves on Channel 2 in Baton Rouge, WBRZ, to editorialize against the lawlessness -- and the folly -- of segregation.

For that, starting in 1960, Manship became accustomed to the sight of burning crosses in his front yard.

As seen on WWL-TV . . . in 2017
Small men held sway over the Gret Stet back then, but at least some of the media considered pushing back against evil times and small minds a duty, not just one of many possibilities.

In 1960, WWL was on the cusp of building a television-news juggernaut in New Orleans. In Baton Rouge that year, Manship and WBRZ were calling for calm, reason and the rule of law as segregationist passions flared over a federal order to integrate the New Orleans public schools.

As it turns out, advocating for civility (and civil society) when the angry mob is at one's door -- not to mention in control of the Legislature -- is a big job when society is under the sway of the aforementioned small minds and small men. 

In a 1962 doctoral dissertation at the Ohio State University, John Pennybacker, in a study of Manship's editorializing and the impact on Baton Rouge and Louisiana's segregationist governance, sets the scene for how much at odds the South -- how much Louisiana in particular -- found itself with the notion of civil liberties and the norms of liberal democracy:
Into this emotion-charged atmosphere stepped Dr. Waldo McNeir, a Professor of English at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Dr. McNeir, apparently feeling he had seen and heard enough, sent copies of the following letter to State Senator Wendell Harris and Representatives A.T. (Apple) Sanders and Eugene McGehee -- his representatives in the State Legislature.
Segregation is wrong. Interposition is of no legal value. Louisiana is one of the 50 states that make up this nation. State sovereignty is a dead doctrine. We must live under the rule of law or perish. Reason must prevail.

The laws enacted by the state legislature in these two special sessions are a disgrace and a national scandal. They have seriously damaged this country in the eyes of the world. Whatever your personal views, these are the facts. There is still time for you to show statesmanship and rise above your personal feelings.

I was born in the South. I am a citizen of the United States, a legal resident of this state for 11 years, a tax payer, and the parent of a school age child. I urge for you to vote for law and order before tragic results occur.
Legislative reaction to this was quick and to the point.

A House committee Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution condemning a LSU professor for criticizing the Legislature's anti­ integration program in a letter to his representative and ordered an un-American activities probe at the University.

Representative Mike John had this to say: "By what right does an LSU professor dare to attack the character and intentions of this legislature. I won't stand by and permit such a person to level such an unwarranted attack upon what we are trying to do here."

PLUS ÇA CHANGE, plus c'est la même chose.

Or, to quote the more legislator-friendly words of baseball great Yogi Berra, "It's deja vu all over again." "Deja vu," of course, being . . . never mind. The governors, and the governed, of Louisiana may not now (and may not ever) understand, but I assume you get the picture -- in 1960, the importance of segregation was as indispensable to the Southern psyche as the continued existence of Confederate monuments is in 2017.
 
One might assume, probably correctly, that is due to the ongoing psychic centrality of white supremacy for many Southerners -- the root of "separate but (un)equal" and the reason for the cult of the Lost Cause.

Then, just as now for small individuals in high places, the small minds of the angry unwashed have primacy over the quiet testimony of facts and reason . . . and the impartial demands of the rule of law.

The latter are the prerequisites of democratic self-governance. The former? The lifeblood of despotism. Pennybacker again:
Although, as has been noted, Mr. Manship scheduled a study of the integration problem in September of 1961, his first identified editorial was broadcast on the night of Tuesday, November 1. It was prompted by the vagueness of Governor Davis about his plans' for the first special session of the legislature. Mr. Manship called on the Governor to reveal his plans and give the people of the state an opportunity to voice their reactions prior to legislative action. He concluded the editorial with the declara­tion that "government by intrigue, mystery, silence and darkness smacks to us of dictatorship."

The Legislature convened on November 6 and, in the next few days, the plans of the Governor were made clear. On Thursday, November 10, Mr. Manship commented on the program presented. He began by describing the two principal means proposed to thwart the rulings of the court -- inter­ position and closing the schools. It was pointed out that the first of these would be tenable only if the United States were considered a feder­ ation of separate states, but "that theory of the nature of our country was settled violently by the Civil War." The second means "would seem to constitute a deprivation of property without due process of law." Finally, he decried the nature of the special session itself, stating his opinion that "some few . . . would seem to be more intent on defying the federal government and seeing their opposition to desegregation gratified than on maintaining the traditional standards of governmental action or . . . the welfare of the people."
 
On the Saturday prior to the scheduled desegregation of the schools in New Orleans, November 12, Mr. Manship appealed for reason and order. He first pointed out that there were orderly procedures for reg­istering protest of a decision of the Supreme Court. "We may ask that Court to reconsider its interpretation. That remedy having been exhausted, we may seek to amend the Constitution." Any other forms of opposition would be classifiable as rebellion and could lead to the use of force of arms for "the federal government cannot permit a state to flaunt the decrees of its courts." Unfortunately, "already the Governor and the Legislature have surrendered to their emotions." If they persist in their efforts to block integration, great harm could result. He closed with an appeal for wisdom and restraint in the future actions of the Governor and the Legislature.

By November 14 it was apparent that the state government had no intention of abandoning its opposition to desegregation. Consequently, on Monday the 14th, Mr. Manship broadcast an appeal to the people of Louisiana.

This appeal opened with the assertion that the Legislature was inciting the people to violence. Mr. Manship called for order and concluded by (1) urging the Governor to put a stop to the "Tragic comedy now in pro­ gress"; (2) asking the people of the state to inform the Governor of their views; and (3) urging "that all of us exercise reason and common sense in our handling of this crisis, before murder is committed in the name of freedom."
 
Broadcasting, Feb. 13, 1961
Despite the December ruling of the Federal District Court in New Orleans that the doctrine of interposition was unconstitutional, it soon became evident that the state was not to be deterred in its fight against desegregation. On December 9 Mr. Manship commented on the question of "Civilization and Political Action." In this rather philosophical edito­rial he pointed out that a mark of civilization "is the willingness of a people to determine their courses of action on the basis of sincere rational discussion conducted calmly by informed and responsible men." This standard was then applied to the actions of the Governor and the Leg­islature. "To refuse to follow the decisions of the federal courts after they have finally determined what action is required of us under the Constitution is to throw aside the mark of civilization." Finally, after expanding this last point somewhat, he concluded with this appeal. "It is to be hoped that the Governor and the legislature will come to their senses and fulfill their public trusts in a manner befitting officials of a civilized community."
Two days later Governor Davis Issued a call for a second special session to consider the possibility of a tax increase. Reacting to this on Monday, December 12, Mr. Manship raised several questions which were never answered satisfactorily. The questions were as follows:
1. What is the actual anticipated cost for whatever moves are now being planned in the executive sessions of the legislature in this matter of segregation?

2. What are the future financial plans for education? . . . Can the plans be financed without a new tax?

3. Will this legislature saddle the state with a new tax . . . and then fail in their objective because of . . . the federal courts?

4. It has been indicated the tax is to finance the program . . . for giving money to children who want to go to private schools, to avoid integration. . . . The tax would probably produce $45 million, but the need to finance such a program, if Virginia may be taken as an example, probably will not exceed $1 or $2 million, . . . What does Governor Davis plan to do with the rest of the money?

5. What will be the effect of a new sales tax on the hoped for industrial development of our state?
On December 13 the legislature first heard of the letter from Dr. Waldo McNeir and reacted by ordering an un-American activities probe. Mr. Manship editorialized twice on the issues raised by this action. On Tues­day, December 13, he pointed out that the writing of a letter to an elected representative would seem to be more American than un-American. In addition to this, "it is ironic, too, that the House should hint that there is some­ thing un-American about urging action consistent with the Constitution and judgments of the United States.

On December 17, a Saturday, he took a tongue-in-cheek attitude towards the state House Un-American Activities Committee investigation of the entire L.S.U. faculty — an investigation to cost $60,000. As a help to the committee he suggested they broaden their investigation to assure "that, in addition to there being no un-American activities at L.S.U., there are also no witches or demons . . . Really, what the state of Louisiana needs more than anything else at the present time is a good, legislatively sponsored and conducted witch hunt."
 
WHERE, and when, there is evil and lawlessness afoot, sometimes there also are those who stand before the abyss, warning onrushing fools of their impending doom. In the early '60s, in segregation-drunk Louisiana, Doug Manship sat before a television camera to tell Channel 2's viewers that hateful, lawless and self-destructive was no way for a state to go through history.
Today, there is . . . .

Anyone?


Anyone?

I fear all is quiet on the grown-up front. At media outlet after media outlet -- across Louisiana and this fractured, seething land -- the gatekeepers have abandoned their posts, and the mob runs unchecked across website comments sections and media Facebook pages alike.

In the breech, we get filth. Hateful racist filth, with intimations of violence just over the horizon.
 

We used to have the saying, "Freedom of the press belongs to him who owns one."  Today, absolute license is the possession of the foul-mouthed, hard-hearted and ill-educated rabble. The rabble gets this no-purchase, no-lease, unlimited-use timeshare in a fool's paradise from him who owns "the press."

And the corporate owners of a depleted media seem to be OK with that, for reasons of malfeasance or out of a desperate, cynical trolling for clicks, with hate as the bait.

Behold, WWL-TV in 2017. These are comments from its Facebook post of a story about the leader of the anti-monument movement pushing New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu to further purge the city of Confederate tributes and iconography. For Malcolm Suber, four monuments gone is just a start.

Unfortunately, this also is just a start:




WHAT WOULD the Jesuits do? Well, they wouldn't tolerate this. Not for a nanosecond.

"The planet of the apes (sic) wasn't really about apes it's (sic) was about African-Americans taking over the world"? The Jesuits, d.b.a. Loyola University of the South, not only wouldn't tolerate such toxic waste, they would hunt down one Joey J. Landry and apply the fear of God directly to his racist ass.


WWL television is not alone in its laissez-faire posture toward bigots doing what bigot do on its comments-section and social-media dime. Channel 4 is just the most egregious example at hand, at the moment.

Go to the comments on any race-related story in The Advocate, a newspaper once owned by the Manship family as well, and you'll quickly get the impression you've stumbled into a barroom long past the time when your drunken, racist uncle should have been cut off -- and every seat in the joint is being warmed by your racist, drunken uncle.

In the WWL story on removing public tributes to the Confederacy and the Lost Cause, Suber said Landrieu needed to "finish the job."

On the WWL post on Facebook, Matt Conrad said maybe "the rebels" should "finish the job first."

"These lies against the south (sic) and the confederacy (sic) need to stop," he added. The civil war (sic) was clearly not fought over slavery and this destruction lead (sic) by the misinformed must end and be reversed now!"

From 'Chris Fullerton of Denham Springs, La.'
So little truth, so many "sics."

Back in 1960 -- when the Federal Communications Commission still obligated broadcasters to offer the opposing side of an issue "equal time" after on-air editorials like Doug Manship's -- implicit threats, visible-from-space misstatements of historical fact and a basketful of sic-worthy constructions would not have been part of the bargain. Something approaching reasoned argument, free of obvious lying and fit for an all-ages audience, would have.

Neither Manship nor any other responsible media owner in 1960 (or 1970 . . . or 1980 . . . or 1990) would have given raging anti-Semites the airtime or the newsprint to present vulgar smears about how it's all the fault of the Jews.

Channel 4 just did on the planet's biggest social-media platform. It's like buying the beer for your racist, drunken uncle, only the world is his barroom.


The account of 'Chris Fullerton' may or may not be fake. But the filth is real.

LAST YEAR, I mentioned to a reporter for the late Mr. Manship's television station, WBRZ, the racist and, frankly, incendiary comments dominating his Facebook live stream of a tense and occasionally violent protest after the fatal police shooting of Alton Sterling. If the comments had been screamed at a crowd on a Baton Rouge street corner, surely there would have been arrests for incitement to riot.

The reporter's response -- And, for God's sake, should not a journalist know better than this? -- was "they have a First Amendment right."

No. No, the comment-box filth-peddlers don't. WBRZ has the First Amendment right to choose what it does and doesn't promulgate. And Facebook has the First Amendment right to decide what it does and doesn't allow on its platform.

If the racists of New Orleans and Baton Rouge -- and of Omaha and the rest of the United States -- desire to exercise, unfettered, their First Amendment right to say awful and offensive things, they have their options. They can stand on the corner and speechify. They can write up a manifesto, "sics" and all, photocopy it and pass it out to passers-by.
 

Likewise, they can email everybody they know, including The Advocate, Channel 2 and WWL-TV to let them know that it's all the fault of the blacks and the Jews. They can write a letter to the editor and see whether the editor will publish it. Or they can put it up on their own Facebook pages and hope for the best (the worst?).

The combox deplorables of the world even can start their own websites or newspapers to spread their garbage more efficiently. Many have, in fact.

What they don't have the First Amendment "right" to do is make media outlets (or even Facebook) spread their venom for them. Free of charge.


The sooner we find the last actual adult in the news media and convince him (or her) to exercise in full the press' rights under our constitutional order -- including the right to tell the scum of the earth "Not on my dime!" -- the better off America will be.

As previously stated, heat we have plenty of already. It's light that we lack.

Doug Manship, during a period in our history whose echoes we hear today, did not suffer fools in government who thought leadership was as simple as positioning oneself at the front of a racist mob. I cannot believe, were he alive today, that he'd think that providing a free (and very public) rumpus room for the racist mob would be any way to run a media outlet.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The fools in your grill: Jim Crow's bayou bastards


Like maggots on three-day-old road kill, the bastard children of Jim Crow consume all debate in Louisiana about any and every aspect of how New Orleans is driving ol' Dixie down.

Nowadays, the Facebook page of Channel 4 looks more like 4chan. Specifically, the alt-right -- and all-white -- netherworld of that discredited web forum. A few days ago, someone actually posted a meme calling Mayor Mitch Landrieu a "cuck."

The attacks against Landrieu are of the ferocity you'd expect from people whose entire identity has been mortally threatened by his rhetoric and his removal of Confederate monuments. That's because he's just mortally threatened their entire self-understanding, self-worth and worldview.
 

Click for full-size version
I don't know that people who aren't from the Deep South understand that at all. "Proud, patriotic Southerners" perceive this as an attack not only on "history" (history in the Orwellian sense of the word -- literally) but also on their very being.

Landrieu delivered a momentous speech Friday in Gallier Hall as crews pulled Robert E. Lee down off his pedestal. The address was the bravest I had ever seen from a Southern politician -- especially a white Louisiana politician. It also was the most explicit and prophetic anyone has given about the South's peculiar "heritage," which is inextricably bound up with its former "peculiar institution."


That, of course, would be slavery. America's original sin remains burrowed in Southern brains like political and cultural syphilis, and it has driven untold generations of my people mad. I think we all know what comes for the syphilitic after the crazy.

Because of the crazy enveloping my native state, Landrieu's political career is over, barring his appointment to some post in some future Democratic administration. Even if he weren't term-limited as mayor of the Crescent City, enraged whites from Shreveport to Chalmette would empty their figurative magazines into his body politic.
 
AS THE monumental battle has dragged on in New Orleans, across Louisiana and across the South, some outraged Lost Cause cultists have threatened to empty literal magazines into the mayor. A Mississippi lawmaker has taken to Facebook to suggest that Landrieu and those like him ought to be . . .  "lynched."

This is how far the South apparently has come in my 50-something years on Earth. Not very.


I was born a Southerner. I lived almost three decades in the South. And I've lived in the Midwest even longer; if anyone is bi-culturally adept at code-shifting, it is me.

Yet . . . yet. . . .


Yet, I struggle to express to non-Southerners the gravity of what happened here with Landrieu's speech, which now -- finally -- has been noticed by the national press.
You see — New Orleans is truly a city of many nations, a melting pot, a bubbling caldron of many cultures. There is no other place quite like it in the world that so eloquently exemplifies the uniquely American motto: e pluribus unum — out of many we are one. But there are also other truths about our city that we must confront. New Orleans was America’s largest slave market: a port where hundreds of thousands of souls were bought, sold and shipped up the Mississippi River to lives of forced labor of misery of rape, of torture. America was the place where nearly 4000 of our fellow citizens were lynched, 540 alone in Louisiana; where the courts enshrined ‘separate but equal’; where Freedom riders coming to New Orleans were beaten to a bloody pulp. So when people say to me that the monuments in question are history, well what I just described is real history as well, and it is the searing truth.

And it immediately begs the questions, why there are no slave ship monuments, no prominent markers on public land to remember the lynchings or the slave blocks; nothing to remember this long chapter of our lives; the pain, the sacrifice, the shame... all of it happening on the soil of New Orleans. So for those self-appointed defenders of history and the monuments, they are eerily silent on what amounts to this historical malfeasance, a lie by omission. There is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence of it.
For America and New Orleans, it has been a long, winding road, marked by great tragedy and great triumph. But we cannot be afraid of our truth. As President George W. Bush said at the dedication ceremony for the National Museum of African American History & Culture, “A great nation does not hide its history. It faces its flaws and corrects them.” So today I want to speak about why we chose to remove these four monuments to the Lost Cause of the Confederacy, but also how and why this process can move us towards healing and understanding of each other. So, let’s start with the facts.
The historic record is clear, the Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and P.G.T. Beauregard statues were not erected just to honor these men, but as part of the movement which became known as The Cult of the Lost Cause. This ‘cult’ had one goal — through monuments and through other means — to rewrite history to hide the truth, which is that the Confederacy was on the wrong side of humanity. First erected over 166 years after the founding of our city and 19 years after the end of the Civil War, the monuments that we took down were meant to rebrand the history of our city and the ideals of a defeated Confederacy. It is self-evident that these men did not fight for the United States of America, They fought against it. They may have been warriors, but in this cause they were not patriots. These statues are not just stone and metal. They are not just innocent remembrances of a benign history. These monuments purposefully celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy; ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, and the terror that it actually stood for.

After the Civil War, these statues were a part of that terrorism as much as a burning cross on someone’s lawn; they were erected purposefully to send a strong message to all who walked in their shadows about who was still in charge in this city. Should you have further doubt about the true goals of the Confederacy, in the very weeks before the war broke out, the Vice President of the Confederacy, Alexander Stephens, made it clear that the Confederate cause was about maintaining slavery and white supremacy. He said in his now famous ‘cornerstone speech’ that the Confederacy’s “cornerstone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery — subordination to the superior race — is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”

Now, with these shocking words still ringing in your ears... I want to try to gently peel from your hands the grip on a false narrative of our history that I think weakens us. And make straight a wrong turn we made many years ago — we can more closely connect with integrity to the founding principles of our nation and forge a clearer and straighter path toward a better city and a more perfect union.

UNLESS you're from there, it's difficult to grasp exactly how much white Southerners' self-conception is tied up with the Lost Cause -- the cult of the Lost Cause. Those of my generation and older were brainwashed (and that is not an exaggeration, in my first-hand estimation) into that worldview from the day they emerged from the womb. 

And in this worldview, "Southern heritage" means "white Southern heritage," because the history and "heritage" of black Southerners aren't even on the radar screen.

That is how Mitch Landrieu got to be regarded as "Yankee trash" and a "traitor" by his own people. Give the Age of Trump a few more months, and "proud Southerners" will be calling him -- openly, without apology -- what he would have been called by a great many Louisianians within my living memory.

It starts with an "N" and ends with "lover." Must I spell it out?


AS A SOUTHERNER who has made a home in the Midwest, I feel nothing but fury, loathing, disgust and shame right now. The psychotic, spiritually syphilitic South -- in its ancient hatreds and its hereditary denial of the truth of its "heritage" -- has driven me to shame and embarrassment for what I am and where I was born and raised.

I am embarrassed for me, and I am ashamed of those who I once thought were "my people." If the new iteration of the same old filth is what really counts for Southern "pride" and "history" after all these years and all that shame, Dixie can shove it up the south side of one of its northward-facing brass sentinels.

If the standard white "Southern patriot" definition of Southernness "is what it is," these are my people like German Nazis were German Jews' "people."


Go. To. Hell. And say "heil" to Hitler when you get there.