Tuesday, September 26, 2017

There Is No Bottom

I was reading a little on Facebook this morning now that my internet has been at least for the moment healed of its afflictions. I came upon a little post by my old friend Sundae Horne, of Ocracoke Island, NC. The tourists there are being ordered to evacuate because Hurricane Maria is still serious and approaching close to the island, and overwash, flooding, and some serious winds are expected. Sundae says they'll be ok, and having sat through one hurricane on Ocracoke in the '90s, I expect she's right, and we can at the same time be glad the damn storm isn't what it was when it crossed Puerto Rico.

Anyway, Sundae posted a reference to a 1943 Supreme Court Decision called West Virginia School Board V Barnette. Here's a link to the decision, which is important enough to have achieved a wiki-page.


So every rightwing idiot now in government, plus many who aim to be, or used to be, have been entirely wrong on the facts concerning Mr. Kaepernick and his responsible and one might say even touching efforts to bring some justice to a part of America which continues to be abused by a great many government employees--police--on the basis of their race, and nothing else. Even our President can rail at this entirely constitutional protest. Richard Petty can rail at it and threaten to fire any of his employees who might dare to make some peaceful protest during the incessant nationalistic displays which decorate every NASCAR race: song, fireworks, air show, prayer.

I was born in 1943. It has been unconstitutional since 1943 for anyone to force an American to stand for the National Anthem.

Jesus Fucking Christ!

From the wiki page:

West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943), is a decision by the Supreme Court of the United States holding that the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution protected students from being forced to salute the American flag and say the Pledge of Allegiance in school. The Court's 6–3 decision, delivered by Justice Robert H. Jackson, is remembered for its forceful defense of free speech and constitutional rights generally as being placed "beyond the reach of majorities and officials."

It was a significant court victory won by Jehovah's Witnesses, whose religion forbade them from saluting or pledging to symbols, including symbols of political institutions. However, the Court did not address the effect the compelled salutation and recital ruling had upon their particular religious beliefs but instead ruled that the state did not have the power to compel speech in that manner for anyone.

Anyone still want to argue that Mr. Trump is not an authoritarian thug? And by the way, thank you LeBron James for your wonderfully considered remarks yesterday in Cleveland, at the presser.

And meanwhile the whole NFL thing Trump ignited last Friday can actually be understood as a total and effective distraction from what could easily become the worst natural and human disaster in this century:


Why aren't there U.S. Army divisions already on Puerto Rico, and, as the poster says, an airlift. And how can Mr. Trump even mention the economic problems the island has been facing, which stem in large part from ill considered previous US policy. Puerto Ricans are Americans!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Where Are the Dixie Chicks?

I believe the tweet is pretty much not a metaphor, but a literal description. I also think parakeets have very little to tell us about winning strategies in chess, or foreign policy, or economics, even if it is true as Jackie Onassis told Daryl Hannah that criticism in print can be ignored because the next day it ends up on the floor of the bird cage. So we still have a president with the mind of a parakeet. I knew a parakeet once, when I was a kid. His owners called him Keats. He flew around their house at will and was friends with their two tiny lapdogs, and lived a very long time. His owners were my aunt and uncle, Libby and Ed. Aunt Libby played piano and gave a try at teaching me, which didn't take. Violin was "my instrument." She also introduced me to rural southern blues by giving me an LP of a guy named Pink Anderson. Later, she and I went to the Bob Dylan concert at Reynolds Coliseum on the NC State campus, where we discovered that Reynolds, so delightful for the Dixie Classic basketball tournament, was acoustically not so much.

Not long before that Dylan concert I recall the rather remarkable appearance of Nikita Khruschev at the United Nations, where he took off his shoe and beat it on the podium, and said (in our translation) "We will bury you." This was understood to be a prediction and a metaphor for the titanic clash of organizational theories we used to call Communism and Capitalism. On the field, as usual, it was simply about struggling to survive. It was also understood to be a breach of diplomatic decorum, and proof that the Soviet revolutionaries were still uncouth, just like Stalin. After all, they killed Trotsky in Mexico with an ice axe.

Mr. Trump yesterday complained about all the bad deals the US has made. He claimed that the Iran Nuclear Agreement was the worst ever. I wondered if he'd just forgotten, or never learned of, a couple of bad deals we made in earlier times: there was the Louisiana Purchase, which Thomas Jefferson, notable slave owner and "race mixer" had pulled off, totally screwing France, and there was Seward's Folly, the purchase of Alaska just after the Civil War, which totally screwed Russia. A bad deal is a bad deal ain't it. That's just math. In Trump's zero-sum world, one party always gets the shaft. This is precisely why North Korea will hold on to its nuclear weapons. Trump lives in Deadwood.

Lawrence O'Donnell made the deepest point about the speech last night. Mr. Trump wants to somehow bring North Korea to negotiations in one paragraph, yet down the page a few moments and he wants to break a negotiated agreement with Iran, thus confirming North Korea's deepest suspicions. Their translators continue to puzzle over the Elton John reference. See Osnos's New Yorker article if you want to be more afraid.

We have, therefore, no foreign policy. Just the sad tweets of a parakeet who's flown out the window and is utterly lost.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

"They" Were Happy

My high school class had a mini-reunion yesterday, fried chicken and barbeque and sweet tea, with desserts from home. I live at the far western edge of the Research Triangle, so far that just past me the area code changes, probably to the great delight of the town fathers, who dream only of the good old days when there were textile and furniture factories, and a huge dog food plant smack in the middle of town. I punched in the coordinates of the reunion into Mr. Garmin and set off, caramel cake on the front seat beside me. It was an interesting tour of the sprawl, for in fact we have become, in the "Triangle," yet another Philadelphia. The Garmin took me in a sensible transit, on the diagonal, across the whole thing, with many roads included that I'd not been near for decades. I got to the destination within minutes of the prediction Garmin made at the outset! Bravo. The visit was fun, the food was great. I left kinda early as I also had a cake for my recouperating sister. Garmin once again got me out of the labyrinth and on to sis's place, which is on yet another extremity of the great sprawl, she picked the NW quadrant some decades back, where I'd picked the SW. Driving back home in the late afternoon, I was going mostly south, through hay fields and silage and fat cattle. I didn't need the Garmn for that leg.

So I got up this morning to check all the sites I check, it's actually a strategy to turn on my brain, and there's coffee involved I must tell you. Also a modest load of dishes in the sink to do. And here I find this article, right off the bat:


There is a pattern, a long-term trend. It's happened in Michigan recently, with the assault on city government in Detroit. It's happened here in NC, with the assault on city government in Charlotte and more generally. The "locals" are not to write rules about pay floors, or about bathrooms. Republicans view Democrats these days as merely representatives of the clamoring masses, aiming in one way or another to toss spanners into the spokes of industry. Democrats will not be quiet and let the system eventually provide its bounty in "appropriate" measure. "Why not just raise the minimum wage to $50.00 an hour?" they ask.

It's Sunday. After I finish up the dishes I might watch a little football, although there is a NASCAR race, and my man Kyle Busch might well win it. So the masters entertain us all, and we are not to notice that Mr. Kaepernick does not take the field again this Sunday, and very little will be said about the Administration's studied attempt this past week to pick off one of the critics whom they at least perceived to be amongst the weakest--a young black woman in the employ of a muddled sports network that had already fired a right wing jock loudmouth for ridiculing the transgendered, a class of Americans which seems to be, by Republican doctrine, the designated scapegoats of the era.

This is how they roll. The battle for sanity and compassion is endless. There's a blog I need to read sometime called "WTF is it now?" This is why now and again somebody decides to just say "fuck it" and punch Richard Spencer in the face while he's being interviewed. No, it ain't fair. But as the fine article in the link points out, on the other side there are alleged scholars who write paeons to colonialism which omit all reference to atrocities carried out in the name of the rulers. And in the early '60s the sainted conservative writer William F.Buckley, Jr.,, who is supposed in the Myth of William F. Buckley, Jr., to have driven all the Birchers plumb out of the Movement, not to mention driving the snakes out of Eire, argued on Public Television that of course the South was right to suppress the black vote.


Marcy Wheeler makes a good point today as well.


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Jemele Hill

We finally got our internet back. The one that works, and doesn't stall out. Turns out it was a bad modem. Could have been much worse I think.

Yesterday I drove my sis home from a rehab center where she'd been for a couple of weeks, rehabbing a knee replacement. She's doing great, and it was a delight to see her so happy at the simple moment of walking into her own house again. She's a very determined person--trains dogs in agility skills if that tells you anything. I think she will make a full recovery, and she might even do the second knee, which is a tough choice after actually experiencing the first one.

The Trump reaction to the dreadful and ongoing hurricane tragedies is pathetic, no matter what some parts of the media say. Shilling his tax "plan" in the face of enormous aid demands from Texas, Florida, and the Caribbean US seems not only heartless, but plainly nonsensical, unless you entirely accept the Alice-in-Wonderland idea that all tax cuts yield even more government income, the great Laffer Curve scam Reagan perpetrated on the country in the early '80s. The tragedy in St. John, US VI, should humble anyone who can see beyond their own ego. I guess I should add, QED to that. It also seems like Pelosi and Schumer might should have just kept quiet after their little dinner with Mr. Trump. Why push him into the corner? The goal is to rescue some 800,000 real people from a US policy disaster. Let's get that done and worry later about who installed "amnesty" on whom.

From a great website, the conclusion to a good article on Trump's Charlottesville comments:

Finally, Trump said:

So this week, it’s Robert E. Lee, I noticed that Stonewall Jackson’s coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after. You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?

Wrong question: the proper question is: when does it start? When do we fully face our racist past? Looks to me as if we have started. We have started admitting what we should have admitted a long, long time ago: that our wonderful country has an ugly racist past and, worse, an ugly racist present. Some of us are dealing with it by removing Lee’s statue, It is happening fast. We have started with the traitors. Will we get around to Jefferson and Washington? Maybe. If we decide their own racism and enslavement of people means they don’t deserve a statue. That’s for us to decide and not for the racists and their allies, even if their allies are powerful media groups. Even if their allies are in the office of the President.


The sports pundit Jemele Hill was "repremanded" by her employer, ESPN, for asserting on air that Trump was a racist. ESPN was prompted to react to Hill, perhaps, by Sarah Sanders' assertion from her podium as White House Spokesman that Hill had committed a firing offense. By that logic, Trump should resign because of his support of Birtherism. Just sayin'.