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.

God of the wide horizon and the center pivot


Loma, Nebraska
May 14, 2017

Donald Trump doesn't give a tweet


What aren't we seeing right now from the tweeter-in-chief?

I'll give you a moment. Take another look.


Uh . . . condolences . . . anything about what happened in Manchester, England last night? After all, this is the man who, saddled with the demands and responsibility of leading the free world, can find the time to tweet about this:


But not about this:


MEANWHILE, many others in politics (and every other pursuit) have taken to Twitter to express condolences, outrage and sorrow. Like Canada's prime minister, Justin Trudeau, and New York's governor, Andrew Cuomo.

But not the president of the United States, the Twitteriest of them all. At least as of this posting, nearly 11 hours after the murderous attack. Good to know.

But we already knew, didn't we?


 * * *

UPDATE: Himself finally said something, during a speech in Bethlehem. From The Guardian:
Speaking in Bethlehem, where he was meeting the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, Donald Trump said: “I extend my deepest condolences to those so terribly injured in this terrorist attack and to the many killed.”

The US president said “evil losers” and a “wicked ideology” were responsible, going beyond what British police and politicians have thus far said in attributing responsibility for the bombing.“I won’t call them monsters because they would like that term,” he said. “They would think it was a great term. I will call them from now on losers. Because that’s what they are – losers. We will have more of them but they are losers. Remember that.”
I YI YI, Forrest Trump just can't help himself, getting way out ahead of the facts as we know them . . . while he sounds a lot more like Orange Donnie from Queens calling in to Rush Limbaugh than he does president of the United States of America.

On the other hand, maybe he just let something else slip that he learned from Israeli intelligence.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Race is the reason for the season . . . of hate


WWL-TV in New Orleans had to ask.
Here are some facts about the Robert E. Lee Monument: 
Are you for or against its removal?
That probably wasn't the best idea in Louisiana, as a Democrat mayor takes down Confederate monuments in a state where a great many native-born whites have no idea who they are, apart from being the aggrieved progeny of "persecuted" mid-19th century slaveholders. Above is a meme that's emerged anywhere on Facebook where the subject of removing the Lost Cause tributes surfaces.

In fact, everything you'll see here is representative of the aggrieved-Caucasian opinion dominating every New Orleans television station's or newspaper's social-media comments sections.

Click pictures for full-size versions
In Louisiana, racism is still a thing. A big thing. And the reactions of these keyboard crusaders to removing some statues -- edifices erected by late 1800s and early 1900s white-supremacists honoring luminaries of a failed rebellion against the United States in defense of slavery -- is justification enough for why they must come down.

Thankfully, the Crescent City's last big one, a large statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee atop a 60-foot obelisk in Lee Circle, comes down today. It's not going quietly, as scores of protesters --  pro and con -- gathered there to argue and emote through the wee hours of the morning.

I've been sitting here watching the WWL live feed from Lee Circle and cyberswimming through a fetid pool of combox racism and societal resentment as good for clicks as they are deadly to a nation's soul. At one point, my very Midwestern wife came into the room to take in the scene.

She had one question.

"Why are all these people that upset over taking down those monuments?"

MY ANSWER was what I've already said: Lots of Southern white people have no idea who or what they are apart from the aggrieved identity they have in relation to the North and from having fought and lost the "War Between the States." Thus, all the talk about "Southern history," "Southern pride" and "Southern heritage."

Left out of all this "history, pride and heritage," of course, is about 40 percent of the South's population -- the descendants of those enslaved, degraded, tortured and killed by "Southern history," "Southern pride" and "Southern heritage." Those folks do not get warm fuzzies from all that blessed heritage as they drive around Lee Circle.

And that doesn't matter worth a damn to those obsessed with the "loss" of their history, pride and heritage. The reason that doesn't matter worth a damn is rather obvious, I think.

My history, important and noble. Yours, not really.

Naturally -- because men usually marry up, not down -- my wife is as tenacious as she is cute and smart and, therefore, had a follow-up:

"Why is being Southern such a huge part of your identity and your self-worth? I'm a Midwesterner, but there are a lot of things more central to who and what I am than being from the Midwest."

Great. Why not ask me why being a pissed-off Serb, Muslim or Croat is so central to Balkan identity? Actually, that was my answer, which I put as a question. Sounds better than "Beats me."

To my credit, though, I did also mention the perhaps better example of the centrality of being Protestant or Catholic in Northern Ireland, and then hating the other side because it isn't. That, she got a little more readily.

Not that it makes any sense, just like devotion to the Lost Cause or that particular definition of Southernness makes no sense . . . or how the overriding importance of one's Southernness, in the end, makes no damned sense. Of course, one of the hallmarks of being human is not making any damned sense much of the time.


WHAT MAKES absolutely no sense, though, is Southernness as defined not only as whiteness, a fallacy in itself, but as whiteness characterized by antipathy toward and contempt of a race your ancestors demeaned and oppressed. It's as if white Southerners' true religion, for all their vacuous protestations of Christian devotion, is really nothing more than some ooga-booga variant of ancestor worship . . . with the caveat that those one worships never could have done anything wrong or been gripped by evil.

Therefore, slavery must have been the fault of the black slaves. Somehow.

White man, good. Black man, bad. The end. Now, for a stirring rendition of "Dixie!"

As God is my witness, back when I was a fourth grader and first allowed to attend public school with black kids, I thought the South might be over this kind of thing by the time I was old like my parents. Well, now I'm notably older than my late parents were in 1970 -- yes, 1970 -- and this sort of hatred and bigotry is still very much a thing in Louisiana.

Obviously. That's one among several reasons I am happy to be long gone from Louisiana . . . not that the Midwest, particularly in the Age of Trump, doesn't have its less-than-edifying moments.





AND SPEAKING of Donald Trump, Louisiana's Lost Causers also use standard Republican "kick the poor" ideology in service of "Southern heritage."

This variation on the theme of African-Americans as deadbeats wonders "how many of the people whose support [New Orleans Mayor] Mitch Landrieu relies on to remove monuments actually pay state income taxes?" There are two assumptions implicit in this odious bit of dog-whistling.

One is that no decent white Southerner would be against removing paeans to the Confederacy and the Old South. Another is that people getting government benefits would be pro-Democrat, anti-"Southern heritage" . . . and largely black. That is because, as defined by the aggrieved Lost Causers, "Southern heritage" is a white thing, inextricably intertwined with reverence of the Confederate States of America and its heroes.

That's just how it is. Uhhhh . . . except when the pro-monument, pro-Confederate crowd is trying to convince the world that 1) tens of thousands of slaves and free blacks fought for the Confederate army (not so much, and usually not by choice), and 2) there were more free-black slaveowners than white slave owners (there were black slavemasters . . . but come on!).


SO . . . when considering the point where white-identity politics intersects with right-wing quasi-libertarianism in the racially aggrieved and Republican-dominated Gret Stet, I have a few public-policy thoughts that dovetail with the whole Confederate-monument conflict.

Given the righteous (and right-wing) convictions of the good, white "Christian" people decrying the villainous, minority poor who so oppress them, so suppress their "heritage" and so endeavor to erase their "history," I put forth a modest proposal. Put simply, I think Louisiana ought to be forced to live by the principles the majority of its voters are hell-bent -- and I mean that literally, by the way -- on forcing upon "the least of these," their perceived oppressors.

It is well known that Louisiana and other Southern states famously suck at the federal teat, largely because they've never been able to get their shit together. Ever. A vast, free labor source (slaves) and the lack of concern about any manner of civil society at all only masked that basic societal incompetence in antebellum times.

Therefore, we Americans who live in states that get back only what they pay into the federal treasury -- or not even that -- should just cut off America's proud, Southern, freeloading parasites. If they want "secession" and freedom from Yankees' mores, fine. They can have it, if only fiscally, alas.

And when, say, Louisiana has yet another hurricane or flood its residents and government never adequately prepared for -- even though epic floods came regularly before anyone knew of global warming and come ever more frequently now -- it need not come begging Yankees for help. Louisiana should have made better "lifestyle choices."


Tough shit now. Does it actually contribute to the fiscal well-being of the government? Federal ledger says no.

Or, as the Bible says -- and Louisianians luuuuuuuv to invoke the Bible on behalf of all kinds of stuff, particularly in service of the kinds of evil the Good Book actually condemns outright -- "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."

Reap away,
Reap away,
Reap away, Dixieland.