Showing posts with label flag. Show all posts
Showing posts with label flag. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

We have reached our sell-by date as a country

Let me try to get my head around this thing: Nike yanked a special-edition Fourth of July shoe because Colin Kaepernick was offended by the Betsy Ross flag "because of its connection to an era of slavery."

Two immediate reactions:

1. Supportive as I was of the kneeling protests during the national anthem at football games and the like . . . Nike and Colin Kaepernick can kiss my red, white and blue ass.

 2. The Constitution of the United States has an even more intimate connection to the "era of slavery." Perhaps we need to just rip up the whole fucking thing and call a merciful end to a country that seems to have attained -- and blown past -- its sell-by date.

We're outta here, bitches. And we're keeping the beef.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Ve haff veys to mach joo zaloot ze banner uff freedom

In case there was any doubt left that the Republican Party has given itself over to the fascist bullying of the right, consider Hal Daub -- a University of Nebraska regent plotting his very own Night of the Long Knives against a trio of college football players.

Were they communists working undercover for Red China, plotting to destroy Husker baseball and make ping pong the national sport?

Were they deep-cover moles for Vladimir Putin, planning to hack the university's computer network and mete out 26,000 incompletes?

Did they not want to Make Football Great Again in Lincoln?

No, it was worse than that . . . at least for Daub, a Donald Trump delegate and onetime congressman who missed the House Un-American Activities Committee by this much.

What the players did was kneel in protest during the national anthem before a Nebraska road game at Northwestern last week. I think it is clear by now why they did. And for that, there must be consequences -- human rights, freedom of conscience and the First Amendment be damned.

Daub (R-Paraguay)
NU Regent Hal Daub of Omaha said he was disappointed in the Husker players because he doesn’t believe a football game is the place to express political or social views. Expressing their views is fine, he said, but not when it’s “disruptive.” 
“You don’t have to put your hand over your heart or sing, but out of respect for other people’s point of view and wishes, the respect they could show would be, at least, stand or not be on the field” when the anthem is played, he said.
Daub also said he was disappointed in the reaction from Husker football coach Mike Riley, who backed the players.
“I was not pleased with his response,” Daub said.
Daub said he believes the matter will be a topic of discussion among the regents at some point. 
“Nobody’s out to censure anybody or limit anybody’s free speech, but speech is limited,” Daub said. “Conduct is limited.” 
Daub, who served in the U.S. Army, said he’s received between 50 and 60 emails about the issue, and the majority disagree with the players’ decision.
The Lincoln Journal Star reported that Daub said the players “had better be kicked off the team.” 
But Daub denied saying that during an interview with The World-Herald.

Asked what kind of punishment, if any, the players should face, Daub said he’s unsure.

“I think that’s a debate that will unfold here,” he said.

NO, I THINK the debate that should unfold here surrounds how Daub (R-Nuremberg) even thinks he has any moral right to speak on the subject, much less condemn Husker linebackers Michael Rose-Ivey and Mohamed Barry or defensive end DaiShon Neal.

Hal Daub was mayor of Omaha from 1995-2001, presiding over this Midwestern city at a time when, thanks in part to Daub's "get tough" policy, residents of predominantly black north Omaha came to see the police department as almost an occupying force . . . in the German sense of the term. Police-community relations, in a word, were awful.

Community leaders talked of certain Omaha cops with a reputation for routinely roughing up African-Americans for no other reason than they could get away with it. The tactics did not lead to any great reduction in -- or great campaign against -- violent crime in the city.

For example, here's something that ran in the Omaha World-Herald in September 2000:
Omaha black leaders said Tuesday that they have no intention of losing the momentum for action demonstrated by people who gathered Monday at a civil-rights protest. 
The Rev. Everett Reynolds, president of the local NAACP branch, said
community leaders and members were planning to gather next Monday at Morning Star Baptist Church, 20th and Burdette Streets, to plan the next move.

"We have a lot of folks that are excited and want to do something," he said. "Our task now is to put that in focus."

More than 1,000 people gathered about noon on the steps and the grassy courtyard of the Douglas County Courthouse, protesting recent police killings.

It was a much bigger turnout than the estimated 300 people published in The World-Herald Monday evening. The lower figure was based on an estimate provided by one of the protest organizers late in the morning while the crowd was still gathering.

Calling it a "funeral for justice," about 400 cars wound their way from 24th and Lake Streets to downtown. Headlights on and horns sounding, they made downtown streets look and sound like midtown Manhattan at rush hour.

Organizers pleaded for an end to past wrongs, including the killing of black men by police officers and a lack of response by the criminal-justice system.

In particular, leaders decried Officer Jerad Kruse's shooting of George
Bibins after a high-speed police chase. Bibins, who was unarmed, had been fleeing from police in a stolen Jeep.

Kruse was charged with manslaughter, but those charges were dropped before the case went to a grand jury. The grand jury declined to file charges.

In a peaceful demonstration, speakers called for authorities to release
information about the Bibins shooting and bring charges against the officer.

"What I hope happens is they take notice that the community has had enough and that the Bibins family wants answers and the community wants answers," Eric Bibins, the brother of George Bibins, said after the protest ended.
Reynolds joined him - hoping that the protest put a dent in community denial and put some pressure on local authorities.

"I'm hoping they'll understand the dissatisfaction and do what is right," Reynolds said.

At the start of the protest, pallbearers carried a metallic gray coffin
through the crowd and set it at the top of the courthouse steps. Looking to the coffin, the Rev. Larry Menyweather-Woods said: "Justice, Omaha-way, is inside."

"We want to bury this justice," said Menyweather-Woods, whose Mount Moriah Baptist Church was the starting point of the procession and rally. "We want a new justice to rise up."

In words and signs, the residents unleashed a flurry of frustration about race relations in Omaha. On the one hand, they said, they're harassed by police. On the other hand, they're ignored by city policy-makers.

One sign said: "There is no justice in north Omaha. There's just us."

THE PROTESTING football players in Lincoln, I am sure, have never heard of what happened when Hal Daub was mayor of this city 50 miles northeast on Interstate 80. Michael Rose-Ivey is from Kansas City, Mo. Mohamed Barry is from Georgia. DaiShon Neal is from Omaha, but when this story appeared in the World-Herald, I don't think he read it -- he was not yet 3.

Regent Daub, on the other hand, probably would like to forget some of these inconvenient truths of the Omaha he led as mayor. More accurately, Daub probably would like us to forget what happened then.

Like another incident from deep in the Daub days, the October 1997 shooting of Marvin Ammons on a north Omaha street during an early, freak snowstorm. Ofc. Todd Sears told investigators he thought the Gulf War veteran, who was African-American, had a gun in his waistband. It was a cellphone.

A grand jury indicted Sears in 1998, but a district judge dismissed the indictment due to alleged misconduct by an alternate grand juror. The cop never faced charges -- a second grand jury declined to indict but harshly criticized Omaha police in the case.

Now, Hal Daub, NU regent, is concerned that the Husker players' actions are "disruptive." That's rich.

The man could teach a seminar on disruption. The out-of-control police department and the "get tough" political dogwhistles of Hal Daub's Omaha created a racial tinderbox that was truly "disruptive" -- not to a football game in Evanston, Ill., but to civil society and domestic tranquility right here in Omaha, Neb.

How dare Daub, with his blood-stained record, wrap himself in Old Glory to lead a self-righteous, constitutionally challenged pogrom against black football players who did nothing but take a damn knee.

A First Amendment-approved knee.

But what's free speech -- or trying to ruin the lives of three college kids -- when there's political hay to be made in Donald Trump's Amerika. Only a man so small could talk so big about a transgression so non-existent.

Only a man without shame in a country with no memory.

UPDATE: I don't know that I've ever seen the president of a university bitch-slap one of his bosses, but it just happened at the University of Nebraska. I think we have a keeper here.

God, I love this state.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Dispatches from Trump's Amerika

Somewhere in Bumf****, Fla., there's a principal who apparently isn't obsessed with where one half of 1 percent of the American population gets to pee.

Unfortunately, he is obsessed with using authoritarianism to foster Americanism among his students. In other words, "Love your country . . . or else." A story Wednesday from WBBH television in Fort Myers proves that you can't make this stuff up:
A Collier County principal is requiring students to stand during the national anthem at school events or face ejection. 
Lely High School Principal Ryan Nemeth told students during video announcements they'll be ejected from school sporting events if they refuse to stand for "The Star-Spangled Banner." 
Nemeth told students the issue is very important to him, and the policy applies to students at all school-sponsored sporting events. 
"You will stand, and you will stay quiet. If you don't.. you are going to be sent home, and you're not going to have a refund of your ticket price," he told them.
NEVER MIND that respect -- or love -- coming at the barrel of a gun (or the threat of being kicked out of a football game) isn't. What it is, is a lie. A Potemkin pledge. It is standing for nothing before a national symbol that half-assed dictators have turned into full-fledged idolatry.

The only legitimately American response to a half-witted, authoritarian bully like a certain Florida principal is to quite deliberately, ostentatiously and quietly sit during the Star-Spangled Banner.

And students who do will find the Constitution is on their side.

"Over a decade ago, Chief Justice [Charles Evans] Hughes led this Court in holding that the display of a red flag as a symbol of opposition by peaceful and legal means to organized government was protected by the free speech guaranties of the Constitution," Justice Robert Jackson wrote for the majority of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1943 when it decided West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnett.
Here, it is the State that employs a flag as a symbol of adherence to government as presently organized. It requires the individual to communicate by word and sign his acceptance of the political ideas it thus bespeaks. Objection to this form of communication, when coerced, is an old one, well known to the framers of the Bill of Rights. 
It is also to be noted that the compulsory flag salute and pledge requires affirmation of a belief and an attitude of mind. It is not clear whether the regulation contemplates that pupils forgo any contrary convictions of their own and become unwilling converts to the prescribed ceremony, or whether it will be acceptable if they simulate assent by words without belief, and by a gesture barren of meaning. It is now a commonplace that censorship or suppression of expression of opinion is tolerated by our Constitution only when the expression presents a clear and present danger of action of a kind the State is empowered to prevent and punish. It would seem that involuntary affirmation could be commanded only on even more immediate and urgent grounds than silence. But here, the power of compulsion is invoked without any allegation that remaining passive during a flag salute ritual creates a clear and present danger that would justify an effort even to muffle expression. To sustain the compulsory flag salute, we are required to say that a Bill of Rights which guards the individual's right to speak his own mind left it open to public authorities to compel him to utter what is not in his mind.

REMEMBER, this ruling came in the middle of World War II. The justice continued:
Government of limited power need not be anemic government. Assurance that rights are secure tends to diminish fear and jealousy of strong government, and, by making us feel safe to live under it, makes for its better support. Without promise of a limiting Bill of Rights, it is doubtful if our Constitution could have mustered enough strength to enable its ratification. To enforce those rights today is not to choose weak government over strong government. It is only to adhere as a means of strength to individual freedom of mind in preference to officially disciplined uniformity for which history indicates a disappointing and disastrous end. 
The subject now before us exemplifies this principle. Free public education, if faithful to the ideal of secular instruction and political neutrality, will not be partisan or enemy of any class, creed, party, or faction. If it is to impose any ideological discipline, however, each party or denomination must seek to control, or, failing that, to weaken, the influence of the educational system. Observance of the limitations of the Constitution will not weaken government in the field appropriate for its exercise. 
2. It was also considered in the Gobitis case that functions of educational officers in States, counties and school districts were such that to interfere with their authority "would in effect make us the school board for the country." 
The Fourteenth Amendment, as now applied to the States, protects the citizen against the State itself and all of its creatures -- Boards of Education not excepted. These have, of course, important, delicate, and highly discretionary functions, but none that they may not perform within the limits of the Bill of Rights. That they are educating the young for citizenship is reason for scrupulous protection of Constitutional freedoms of the individual, if we are not to strangle the free mind at its source and teach youth to discount important principles of our government as mere platitudes.
WELL, this is the Age of Trump, and I suppose it's more likely than not that "to strangle the free mind at its source and teach youth to discount important principles of our government as mere platitudes" is exactly what people want out of public education today.

This is precisely why we have a Bill of Rights. Perhaps it's not so much to protect us from an abusive government but, instead, to protect us from ourselves.
Language of fascists, racists and morons in this video definitely NSFW

IN TRUMP'S AMERIKA, the above video displays what "love of country" comes to when severed completely from any understanding of human dignity or the principles at the core of the American republic. 

It is the principles that underlie the Bill of Rights (and the Fourteenth Amendment) that define the United States of America. Not race, not region, not class, not ethnicity and not religious affiliation, but those principles define what it means to be American.

And whether we're talking about half-witted, racist vulgarians in Massachusetts or authoritarian school principals in Florida, that shared contempt for those tenets that define us as Americans call into question the loyalty of those making "patriotism" such an issue in the first place.

Traitors are as traitors do.

HAT TIP:  Jeffrey Toobin in The New Yorker.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

American idol

“A firm rule must be imposed upon our nation before it destroys itself. The United States needs some theology and geometry, some taste and decency. I suspect that we are teetering on the edge of the abyss."
-- Ignatius J. Reilly

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

All-American fascism

I just spent a lot of time contemplating this 1976 Pulitzer Prize-winning news photo at a Newseum-sponsored exhibition at Omaha's Durham Museum.

I suggest members of today's half-witted, mean-spirited "patriotic" lynch mob at Louisiana State University spend some time as well with this image by Boston Herald American photographer Stanley Forman. It didn't win the 1977 Pulitzer for spot-news photography for nothing.

The context differs between Boston 1976 and LSU 2011. The animating spirit, however, remains the same.

I hate it when my alma mater keeps living down to the 1974 Randy Newman song that so memorably references it.

Go in dumb, come out dumb, too

My first reaction to what happened to a hapless Louisiana State grad student by the name of Benjamin Haas was that someone who was dumb -- or naive -- enough to do what he did, where he did it, pretty much asked for whatever he got.

Which, in Haas' case, was plenty.

What Haas did was threaten to burn an American flag on the LSU parade ground in protest of the treatment of another student -- one arrested and charged with pulling down the Stars and Stripes from a war-memorial flagpole and then burning it. Haas wanted to stand up for "freedom of speech."

That's fine and good, but the problem here wasn't any usurpation of the First Amendment -- the LSU flag burner wasn't arrested for that. The charges involved destruction of public property, arson and theft.

Holier-than-thou "progressive" do-gooders bug me. (And don't get me started on angry, right-wing cranks.) In this case, my annoyance
blinded me.

WHEN The Daily Reveille's story on the protest finally went online today, along with an accompanying video, it became pretty clear that the "hippie" was the least of the problems on the Baton Rouge campus this day. The real problem was a "patriotic" mob purporting to stand up for God, country and "freedom" by doing what mobs do.

Think Little Rock Central High School, 1957.
A jeering crowd swarmed after communication studies graduate student Benjamin Haas on the Parade Ground this afternoon after he outraged many students and community members with an announcement that he planned to burn an American flag.

Though Haas didn't burn the flag as he originally announced yesterday on Facebook, the mob of people tore after Haas until he slipped into a police car and was escorted off campus by police.

Haas did not have the needed permit to burn a flag, which is why an actual flag burning did not take place, according to LSU Media Relations.

After chasing Haas off campus, the group of more than 1,000 straddled Highland Road, shouting a back-and-forth banter of "GO AMERICA" and "GO TIGERS."

"I initially began this flag burning protest to define due process for students and suspected terrorists alike, to call on LSU and universities across the country to defend basic human rights and avoid putting students into the criminal justice system when it can be taken care of internally," the pre-written text of Haas's speech read. "In the name of peace, there will be no flag burning today. This country and the flag that flies over it stands for freedom, democracy, love, peace and the ability to question our government."

Haas attempted to recite his speech a few times, but the crowd cut him off, chanting "U-S-A" as horse-mounted police worked their way through the maze of people, pushing them back and eventually escorting Haas off campus in a police cruiser.


Rebecca Favre Lipe, vice president of the Baton Rouge Tea Party, said she was "amazed" at the demonstration of patriotism from attendees.

"We have First Amendment rights, but there's also respect," Lipe said.

People began to gather in Free Speech Plaza around 11 a.m., where Sarah Kirksey and Hunter Hall, communications studies seniors, distributed 134 American flags they bought. As an incensed crowd snaked through Free Speech Plaza, a line of on-lookers watched from the terrace of the Union.

Two women who asked to remain unnamed brought signs reading "Benjamin Haas is a terrorist" and "You hate my flag but love my freedom."

One of the women said she labeled Haas as a terrorist because "anybody that hates America is a terrorist."

IT TAKES ONE to know one. You know?

I still think defending the original flag burner's "free speech" is a poor hill to die upon, but wha
t we saw at LSU today was a shameful, redneck mob more about getting "the hippies" than any genuine display of patriotism.

There were "terrorist" wannabes afoot, but Benjamin Haas, as it turns out, wasn't one of them. Menacing Mobs for Freedom is a circle that cannot be squared.

I may not know much, but I know intimidating unpopular minorities through angry displays and the implicit threat of violence not only isn't "freedom" but actually is the antithesis of it.

If this is how Louisiana's "best and brightest" behave, God help those they will someday lead.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Borrowing your demagoguery

The trouble with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is that he's just so very unoriginal.

He stole his name from Bobby Brady and
The Brady Bunch. He stole his response to President Obama's 2009 congressional address from Mister Rogers.

And now he's stolen the bright idea of demagoguing university sabbaticals from the Iowa Republican Party. He picked up that idea, no doubt, during all the time he's spent in the Hawkeye State -- as opposed to his own.

In November, as reported by The Daily Reveille, this was the Jindal Administration's party line against such "bad values in education" as the state's flagship university, LSU:

State Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater says Gov. Bobby Jindal's office is looking into University faculty workloads to see if students are getting the best return for their tuition.

"It's important to make sure resources are focused on the classroom and the students and taxpayers get the most value from investments," Rainwater said.

Rainwater said instructors in the LSU System are teaching 77 percent more credit hours than tenured professors. Instructors at the Baton Rouge campus teach 133 percent more, he said.

One area where faculty members do less teaching than instructors is in sabbaticals — a leave of absence to focus on research, writing or acquiring new knowledge. Rainwater said tenured faculty earn the right to have a sabbatical but not during a budget crunch.

"At a time when we're facing a very large deficit, I think it's important that we justify what sabbaticals are taken," Rainwater said.

NOT ONLY is Jindal unoriginal, he's milquetoasty. He's an Iowa Republican watered down to the point of BLECCH!

Watered down and nine months late.

In February, the Republicans in the Iowa House sought to eliminate every single sabbatical at its regents universities -- Iowa, Iowa State and Northern Iowa -- for the next year at a savings of . . .
$6 million.

The Iowa Board of Regents had considered canceling sabbaticals in December 2009, but ultimately decided such a move would harm recruitment and retention of faculty, as well as create disruptions in research and a logjam of future sabbatical requests. There were 111 requests for sabbaticals across the three universities for the 2010-11 academic year -- down 25 percent from the previous year.

The University of Iowa led the pack with 52 sabbaticals for professors. Iowa State requested 37 and Northern Iowa 18.

A year later, the ascendant Iowa Republicans are at it again. The state's GOP lawmakers propose -- again -- banning all university sabbaticals. And the new House speaker, Kraig Paulsen, is leading the charge against the eggheads, saying taxpayers just can't afford to give profs a paid "year off."

From an Associated Press article Wednesday:

But professors said the savings Republicans are promising won't materialize, and the move would cost universities in grant money and productivity.

Sabbaticals -- a paid semester or year off from teaching to write books, conduct research, create classes and write grant proposals -- are standard practice at major research universities across the nation. But at a time when other employees are facing pay cuts and furloughs, they have become an easy target for critics and an area where universities can cut to show they are making sacrifices, too.

Several schools across the country have already reduced or canceled sabbaticals, according to the American Association of University Professors. The University of Iowa has cut its sabbaticals in half over two years.

John Curtis, director of research and public policy for AAUP, said he was unaware of any case where lawmakers rather than schools themselves have cut sabbaticals, and he doubted that it would become a trend because of the tiny amount of potential savings.

"I'm sure they feel it has great symbolic value," he said. "But the loss, of course, is what the whole purpose of sabbatical is: to allow faculty members to do research, to engage in understanding new developments in their discipline and then to bring all of that back to their teaching."

A potential fight is already brewing in Iowa, where its three public universities have asked the Board of Regents to approve sabbaticals for professors in the budget year that begins July 1. Details are expected to be made public Thursday.

The regents could approve the requests next week, but Paulsen said they should allow for public debate on the plan to cancel them first.

"It seems to be tough budgetary times. Why should the taxpayers of Iowa be paying to basically give these folks a year off from teaching?" asked Paulsen, a Hiawatha Republican who will lead a chamber that flipped to Republican control in November. "It's as simple as that."

Board of Regents President David Miles said through a spokeswoman that he will withhold comment until next week's meeting. Last year, he urged presidents of the three public universities to ensure any sabbaticals "serve to enhance the core missions of the universities."

The University of Iowa has asked the regents to approve 58 sabbaticals for next year, a slight increase after two years of sharp cuts, said Faculty Senate President Edwin Dove, who defended the practice. UI professors wrote 26 books in 2009 while on sabbatical, published 147 research articles, created and updated nearly 100 classes, and submitted 50 grant applications, Dove said.

SO IN IOWA, we have a debate over highly debatable savings in the mid-seven-figure range. But hang on a second:
House Republicans have said their plan would save $6 million and be part of a budget-cutting package introduced next year. But their projected savings apparently includes salaries that professors will earn whether they are on sabbatical or not. The actual savings would be the roughly $250,000 universities spend to hire replacement teachers, university officials said.
THE STATE'S GOP legislative contingent would appear to be disingenuous here, at a minimum. Some might say they're just playing the booboisie for a bunch of suckers, trying to appear as if they're doing something while proposing next to nothing.

At a minimum.

So, back in Louisiana, what to make of Jindal's quixotic demonizing of LSU professors?

Well, let me put it this way: Remember the number of sabbaticals Iowans have been fighting over? Keep that figure -- 111 . . . 50-something of that total at UI -- in mind.

This year, LSU has 19 professors on sabbatical. Nineteen.


One less than 20.

That's what the Jindal Administration has seen fit to harp over whenever someone frets about a worst-case $60-something million cut to Louisiana's flagship university next year. We're probably not even talking about a million bucks in highly debatable savings, here.

One thing, however, has become crystal clear. What Louisiana's absentee governor lacks in the originality or comprehensiveness of his demagoguery, he certainly makes up in audacity.

Truth in bannerizing

Louisiana unveiled a new state flag last week, which looks a lot like the old state flag.

Unfortunately, I think the new state banner lacks certain qualities that make for a good flag. For one thing, any clue about what the place is, who the people have become and what they aspire to.

Reading the New Orleans Times-Picayune story about the whole deal, you'd have no clue, though. The reporter makes it sound like everything in Bannerland is hunky dory:

The flag's design is similar to the existing flag but the brown pelican, the state bird, is more sophisticated and has three red drops of blood flowing from its breast, said Jacques Berry, chief spokesman for Secretary of State Tom Schedler's office.

The new design was required by a bill passed by Rep. Damon Baldone, D-Houma, during the 2006 legislative session based on the historical research of Joseph Louviere, a Houma student, which indicated the existing pelican seal did not have the bird tearing at its breast.

Historical descriptions of the blue flag include the three drops of blood, described as a sign of the state's willingness to sacrifice itself for its citizens. The design goes back to medieval times, when people believed pelicans fed chicks with their blood.

Unveiling the new flag took place at the conclusion of the dual inaugurations of Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, who had been secretary of state; and Schedler, who served as Dardenne's first assistant and was sworn in as secretary of state.

I WOULD HAVE rung up an expert or two at Louisiana State University for comment on political symbolism and whatnot, but they were all laid off last semester. Gov. Bobby Jindal likewise was unavailable for comment as he wraps up the Jupiter leg of his book tour.

Anyway, there's not much more to say about the whole deal. I'll just leave you with a more historically, politically and sociologically correct banner (top), which I make available to the Gret Stet free of charge.

Of course, the way things are going in my home state, even free might be too rich for its blood. All three legally specified drops of it.