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Archive for August, 2013

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

cropped-bg-dolls1Took me a second, too.

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Here We Go Again!

DMDJRZFMJXZKVNI.20111119190217I’ve been resisting the urge to post football photos, but today is opening day.  So here is Nebraska’s defense corraling Michigan last year.

Watched Gameday on ESPN, which confirmed my suspicion that they are all about the SEC all the time.  Near the end of their coverage this morning, it seems as though even the hosts were tired of talking about Johnny Manziel.  I’m sure as hell tired of hearing about him.

Wyoming at Lincoln tonight.  Should be a walk but with the Huskers you never know.  Fingers crossed.

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At Least They Had an Argument

628x4715Yesterday the British parliament voted not to participate with the US in a retaliatory attack on Syria, despite a fiery speech from PM David Cameron urging them to do so.   I listened to some of the debate (thank FSM for Al-Jazeera America) and was very impressed by its quality.  I’m so used to the ignorance and posturing that pass for premises in the US Congress that I really enjoyed hearing reasoned public discourse for once.

The argument that seems to have swung the body toward a vote of “no thanks” was their memory of another US president inviting them to make war on a different country in the Middle East.  In that case, we recall too readily, there were no WMD.  Many members wanted to make sure that this was not yet another snipe hunt, this time for WMD that probably exist but that may or may not have been used by the Assad regime.  Can’t blame them for that.

So Bush-Cheney strikes again.  They created so much distrust among our allies that in future the US may be left high and dry whenever it asks NATO countries for help.  Thanks, guys.  Of course the present Congress will blame Obama for the British defection, claiming he isn’t assertive enough or man enough or too blah to twist the proper arms.  Think this is far-fetched?  Yesterday I heard Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, speaking on NPR, blame Obama for the deficit.  And 25% of Republicans in Louisiana blame Obama for the slow response to Katrina.  Nothing is beyond these people.  I will not call their beliefs “arguments” because argument requires attention to facts.

Which is why the US needs to wait for the UN inspectors’ report on Syria before we respond militarily.  Hans Blix, the weapons inspector who sent negative reports on WMD from Iraq right up to the time of that invasion, said as much the other day.  We don’t want to further the suspicion-myth-half-truth common among Middle Easterners that the US is still trying to make up for its defeat in Vietnam.

I am a pacifist, usually.  But the brutality of chemical attacks, and the photos from Syria, take my breath away.   Some days I wish reality were more like the movies.  Wouldn’t it be cool if we could sneak some operatives–say Eric Bana and Naomi Watts–into the storage facilities where those weapons are kept.  These operatives would saturate the facility with an agent that rendered the chemicals harmless.  Then the operatives would escape with no one the wiser, and the next time Assad (or whoever) used those weapons they’d end up dropping maple syrup all over the desert.

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A Stone of Hope

080711-martin-luther-king-memorial-12Photos of Dr. King’s memorial have been much in the news this week because of the commemoration of the march on Washington.   When I saw the first pictures of this statue as it was being installed, I was dismayed.  It looked to me as though Dr. King were trapped inside a huge rock.  Which, come to think on it, is an appropriate metaphor for his life and work.  But hardly inspiring to the rest of us.

But as I see more pictures (and I’d love to see it for reals) I realize that it can also be read to say that Dr. King has emerged from an entrapment, triumphant and calm.  This reading is supported by the message engraved on the side of the monument:

539w

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Fifty Years On

Today is the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington.   A re-enactment is taking place on the mall as I write.  This time, though, a memorial to Dr. King stands among the other markers of national history.  The original march is typically rendered now as Dr. King’s day because of the stirring “I Have A Dream” speech he delivered from the steps of the Lincoln memorial.  But the event was organized by two other men–Bayard Rustin and A. Philip Randolph–whose contributions are for the most part unrecognized by all but historians of the Civil Rights movement.

imagesThe march was Randolph’s idea, but he turned to Rustin to make it happen.  They knew that the spectacle of hundreds of thousands of people assembling peacefully would force national news organizations to cover the march, and they hoped the coverage would make an indelible dent in Americans’ lack of awareness of the civil wrongs being inflicted daily on black folk.  And they succeeded.

Rustin was a brilliant organizer, and he got this massive thing off the ground with only eight weeks to prepare.  He was a pacifist, and had been a conscientious objector during World War II.  It was Rustin who introduced Dr. King to Ghandi’s theory of nonviolent resistance.

LBJ awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Randolph back in 1964.  Rustin’s medal was awarded just this year, posthumously, by President Obama.  Why the wait?  Hmmm.  Perhaps because Rustin was a communist, as were many post-war black intellectuals?  Or because he was gay?  Whatever the reason, his genius and his courage are now receiving their due from historians, as well as from the nation’s first African-American president.

bayard

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963482463001_2626589501001_video-still-for-video-2626917301001Yesterday, speaking at the commemoration of the 1963 March on Washington, Rep. John Lewis said this:  “I got arrested 40 times during the ’60s, beaten and left bloodied and unconscious . . . but I’m not tired. I am ready to fight and continue to fight, and you must fight.”

Lewis is now seventy-three years old, and he is still ready to kick ass.  This time he’s after the Supreme Court’s gutting of the Civil Rights Act and the Rethug attempt to shrink voting rights down to the size of a gallon bucket.

Christ on a crutch, Lewis is one tough dude.  Here he is being arrested:

John Lewis Being Arrested in Nashvilleand bloodied and bruised:

john_lewis5-thumb-640xauto-4419-1This image is by now iconic–it even appears briefly in the movie “The Butler.”

I wonder if Lewis would be so widely admired today, though, if people knew he was a socialist, as were many other people in the movement (for more about this, see Harold Meyerson’s fine essay in The American Prospecthttp://prospect.org/article/socialists-who-made-march-washington).  The original march was about freedom AND jobs, and it was animated by the socialist spirit of its organizers, Bayard Rustin and A. Philip Randolph.  There was also a strong strain of socialist thought in King’s part of the movement, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.   MLK began to see the importance of economic justice the longer we worked with these folks, and he foregrounded its importance in his last years.   I sometimes wonder if he weren’t killed because of his socialist leanings–his message about economic equality was much scarier to the powers that be than was his campaign for civil rights for black folks.

But back to Lewis:  Here he is speaking at the original march on Washington:

John Lewis Lincoln Memorial March on WashingtonAnd here is the original passage from his remarks that was heavily edited by the organizers of the event:

“I want to know, which side is the federal government on?

The revolution is at hand, and we must free ourselves of the chains of political and economic slavery. The nonviolent revolution is saying, “We will not wait for the courts to act, for we have been waiting for hundreds of years. We will not wait for the President, the Justice Department, nor Congress, but we will take matters into our own hands and create a source of power, outside of any national structure, that could and would assure us a victory.”

To those who have said, “Be patient and wait,” we must say that “patience” is a dirty and nasty word. We cannot be patient, we do not want to be free gradually. We want our freedom, and we want it now. We cannot depend on any political party, for both the Democrats and the Republicans have betrayed the basic principles of the Declaration of Independence.

We all recognize the fact that if any radical social, political and economic changes are to take place in our society, the people, the masses, must bring them about. In the struggle, we must seek more than civil rights; we must work for the community of love, peace and true brotherhood. Our minds, souls and hearts cannot rest until freedom and justice exist for all people.

The revolution is a serious one. Mr. Kennedy is trying to take the revolution out of the streets and put it into the courts. Listen, Mr. Kennedy. Listen, Mr. Congressman. Listen, fellow citizens. The black masses are on the march for jobs and freedom, and we must say to the politicians that there won’t be a “cooling-off” period.

All of us must get in the revolution. Get in and stay in the streets of every city, every village and every hamlet of this nation until true freedom comes, until the revolution is complete. In the Delta of Mississippi, in southwest Georgia, in Alabama, Harlem, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia and all over this nation, the black masses are on the march!

We won’t stop now. All of the forces of Eastland, Bamett, Wallace and Thurmond won’t stop this revolution. The time will come when we will not confine our marching to Washington. We will march through the South, through the heart of Dixie, the way Sherman did. We shall pursue our own scorched earth” policy and burn Jim Crow to the ground — nonviolently. We shall fragment the South into a thousand pieces and put them back together in the image of democracy. We will make the action of the past few months look petty. And I say to you, WAKE UP AMERICA!”

Even (or especially) a former communist like Rustin knew that these sentiments were too tough for Americans to swallow in 1963.  The organizers also worried that such direct condemnation of powerful Democrats would hamper Kennedy’s judicial efforts, meager though they were.  So Lewis tempered his remarks.  But he hasn’t quit fighting, even though “socialist” is now a dirty word that can’t safely be uttered in public.

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Impeach His Blah Ass!

impeachment_500_364

You’ve probably heard that Rethugs are screaming about impeaching Obama.  It may be that Frankenstein’s monster (Limbaugh and Faux News) has finally turned on Dr. Frankenstein, insofar as the din from the systematically misinformed has become so loud and so thoroughly mean-spirited that it has engulfed high profilers.  Hence  Coburn of Oklahoma and that slimy grifter from Texas, Ted Cruz, both supported impeachment at their respective town halls.  (Of course they may simply have feared for life and limb had they failed to do so).

Trouble is, they have no grounds.  Thing is, grounds are required by that pesky Constitution of the United States.  Maybe they could bring an impeachment proceeding because the President’s new dog–Sunny–is all black, unlike Bo, who at least has white feet.

Here’s the etymology of “impeach,” helpfully supplied by the Free Internet Dictionary “The word impeach can be traced back through Anglo-Norman empecher to Late Latin impedicre, “to catch, entangle,” from Latin pedica, “fetter for the ankle, snare.” Thus we find that Middle English empechen, the ancestor of our word, means such things as “to cause to get stuck fast,” “hinder or impede,” “interfere with,” and “criticize unfavorably.” A legal sense of empechen is first recorded in 1384. This sense, which had previously developed in Old French, was “to accuse, bring charges against.”

As if it weren’t enough that Obama has been hobbled, ensnared, entangled, ever since his inauguration by Rethug nastiness, now they want to fetter him officially (which, given his heritage, carries really horrible overtones).

Why they think such talk will endear them to a majority of Americans who elected Obama–twice–is beyond me.  Sure, they probably have the House sewn up thanks to their gerrymandering efforts, unless their screwing with voting rights creates a voters’ backlash, which it very well might.  But at this rate they can’t expect to win a national election for many many years to come.

Which outcome is devoutly to be wished.

UPDATE:  Salon has a piece on this nuttiness:  http://www.salon.com/2013/08/23/party_of_wackadoos_the_delusional_impeachment_crusade/

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