When Conservative became Noservative

Our friend Brosephus shares his thoughts on today’s Republican conservatives, or ‘noservatives’ as he so aptly dubs them. What, he asks, has happened to the Republican Party in the past decade or two? Where is the party that actually DID something instead of simply trying to put roadblocks up for the other party? Brosephus’ post is one well worth reading and pondering. Thank you, Brosephus!

The Mind of Brosephus

Cover of Time Magazine from March 21, 2016

There’s been several topics that have popped up that I haven’t had the time to write about. Most times, these topics usually get discussed in the comment section. I appreciate that because I don’t always have the time to post a new topic to address recent events to allow “on topic” commenting.

That said, I happened to come across the above Time Magazine cover, and I think it asks a very important question that we don’t discuss enough. What happened to the Republican Party? I’m talking beyond the personality cult it’s become with the sole intent on pissing off liberals. What happened to the ideas and guiding principles of conservatism?

For example, let’s discuss immigration for a minute. Conservatives will whine and bitch to no end about how immigration is a problem and there’s a border crisis going on. We’ve been hearing…

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Tribal troubles

Ever since a few years ago when a reader informed me that the reason for racism in the U.S. … or anywhere, for that matter … was ‘tribalism’, I have despised that term. I consider myself to be a part of NO tribe, but rather an individual thinker who agrees with some things, disagrees with others. But, I am not a part of any tribe that seeks to put their own religion, ethnicity, skin colour, gender or gender identity, above others. To me, that is the height of stupidity and arrogance. Anyway, I found fellow blogger and author Kevin Brennan’s views on Amy Chua’s book about political tribes to be thought-provoking and interesting. You might, too!

WHAT THE HELL

By now it’s pretty obvious that our politics are marked in this era by rampant tribalism. That’s why I wanted to read Amy Chua’s important book, Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations.

Chua aptly identifies the tribalism that’s currently ripping America to shreds, though her conclusion that all we need to do is really talk to each other and really, like, listen, isn’t a viable option to my mind. When you have half the country denying that the ocean is full of saltwater, it’s hard to listen to those people and not break down in tears. They believe conspiracy theories that have zero chance of being true, but the bottom line is that believing these theories is the signal (to one another) that you’re in the Trump Tribe. It’s like a hand stamp that lets you back inside the disco.

Where this book comes through most…

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Tears Of Shame … Yet Again

Over the past few weeks, we have read with horror about the discovery of unmarked graves at Canada’s boarding schools that housed indigenous children a century ago.  But guess what, folks?  We may well find the same here.  The U.S. does NOT have clean hands when it comes to the treatment of the original settlers in this land, the Native Americans.  The New York Times has presented a moving article that frankly brought tears to my eyes when I read it last night, so I have decided to share it with you, my friends.


Lost Lives, Lost Culture: The Forgotten History of Indigenous Boarding Schools

Thousands of Native American children attended U.S. boarding schools designed to “civilize the savage.” Many died. Many who lived are reclaiming their identity.

The last day Dzabahe remembers praying in the way of her ancestors was on the morning in the 1950s when she was taken to the boarding school.

At first light, she grabbed a small pouch and ran out into the desert to a spot facing the rising sun to sprinkle the taa dih’deen — or corn pollen — to the four directions, offering honor for the new day.

Within hours of arriving at the school, she was told not to speak her own Navajo language. The leather skirt her mother had sewn for her and the beaded moccasins were taken away and bundled in plastic, like garbage.

She was given a dress to wear and her long hair was cut — something that is taboo in Navajo culture. Before she was sent to the dormitory, one more thing was taken: her name.

“You have a belief system. You have a way of life you have already embraced,” said Bessie Smith, now 79, who continues to use the name given to her at the former boarding school in Arizona.

“And then it’s so casually taken away,” she said. “It’s like you are violated.”

Bessie Smith, 79, was forbidden from speaking her Navajo language once she began attending a federal boarding school and nearly forgot her native tongue. “It’s so casually taken away,” she said. “It’s like you are violated.”Credit…Sharon Chischilly for The New York Times

A memorial set up after the discovery of 215 unmarked graves at a former boarding school in British Columbia.Credit…Amber Bracken for The New York Times

The recent discoveries of unmarked graves at government-run schools for Indigenous children in Canada — 215 graves in British Columbia, 750 more in Saskatchewan — surfaced like a long-forgotten nightmare.

But for many Indigenous people in Canada and the United States, the nightmare was never forgotten. Instead the discoveries are a reminder of how many living Native Americans were products of an experiment in forcibly removing children from their families and culture.

Many of them are still struggling to make sense of who they were and who they are.

In the century and a half that the U.S. government ran boarding schools for Native Americans, hundreds of thousands of children were housed and educated in a network of institutions, created to “civilize the savage.” By the 1920s, one group estimates, nearly 83 percent of Native American school-age children were attending such schools.

Tolani Lake School children and staff in an undated photograph.Credit…National Archives

“When people do things to you when you’re growing up, it affects you spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally,” said Russell Box Sr., a member of the Southern Ute tribe who was 6 when he was sent to a boarding school in southwestern Colorado.

“We couldn’t speak our language, we couldn’t sing our prayer songs,” he said. “To this day, maybe that’s why I can’t sing.”

The discovery of the bodies in Canada led Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, the first Native American to head the department that once ran the boarding schools in the United States — and herself the granddaughter of people forced to attend them — to announce that the government would search the grounds of former facilities to identify the remains of children.

That many children died in the schools on this side of the border is not in question. Just last week, nine Lakota children who perished at the federal boarding school in Carlisle, Pa., were disinterred and buried in buffalo robes in a ceremony on a tribal reservation in South Dakota.

Many of the deaths of former students have been recorded in federal archives and newspaper death notices. Based on what those records indicate, the search for bodies of other students is already underway at two former schools in Colorado: Grand Junction Indian School in central Colorado, which closed in 1911, and the Fort Lewis Indian School, which closed in 1910 and reopened in Durango as Fort Lewis College.

“There were horrific things that happened at boarding schools,” said Tom Stritikus, the president of Fort Lewis College. “It’s important that we daylight that.”

A committee at Fort Lewis College in Colorado has begun investigating the institution’s past and is studying how to search its former campus for the possibility of the remains of children who died there.Credit…Sharon Chischilly for The New York Times

Fort Lewis Indian School, which closed 111 years ago, was dedicated to eradicating Native American culture. Now, on its former grounds, student are planting Native American crops.Credit…Sharon Chischilly for The New York Times

The idea of assimilating Native Americans through education dates back to the earliest history of the colonies.

In 1775, the Continental Congress passed a bill appropriating $500 for the education of Native American youth. By the late 1800s, the number of students in boarding schools had risen from a handful to 24,000, and the amount appropriated had soared to $2.6 million.

Throughout the decades that they were in existence, the schools were seen as both a cheaper and a more expedient way of dealing with the “Indian problem.”

Carl Schurz, the secretary of the interior in the late 1800s, argued that it cost close to $1 million to kill a Native American in warfare, versus just $1,200 to give his child eight years of schooling, according to the account of the historian David Wallace Adams in “Education for Extinction.” “A great general has said that the only good Indian is a dead one,” Capt. Richard H. Pratt, the founder of one of the first boarding schools, wrote in 1892. “In a sense I agree with the sentiment, but only in this: That all the Indian there is in the race should be dead. Kill the Indian in him and save the man.”

Students and staff at Fort Lewis Indian School circa 1900.Credit…Courtesy of the Center of Southwest Studies, Fort Lewis College

Those who survived the schools described violence as routine. As punishment, Norman Lopez was made to sit in the corner for hours at the Ute Vocational School in southwestern Colorado where he was sent around age 6. When he tried to get up, a teacher picked him up and slammed him against the wall, he said. Then the teacher picked him up a second time and threw him headfirst to the ground, he said.

“I thought that it was part of school,” said Mr. Lopez, now 78. “I didn’t think of it as abusive.”

A less violent incident marked him more, he said.

His grandfather taught him how to carve a flute out of the branch of a cedar. When the boy brought the flute to school, his teacher smashed it and threw it in the trash.

He grasped even then how special the cedar flute and his native music were. “That’s what God is. God speaks through air,” he said, of the music his grandfather taught him.

He said the lesson was clear, both in the need to comply and the need to resist.

“I had to keep quiet. There’s plenty where it came from. Tree’s not going to give up,” he said of the cedar. “I’m not going to give up.”

Decades later, Mr. Lopez has returned to the flute. He carves them and records in a homemade studio, set up in his home on the Ute Mountain Ute reservation in Towaoc, Colo.

Norman Lopez, 78, playing a flute outside of his home. He said a boarding school teacher in Colorado smashed his hand-carved flute and threw it in the trash.Credit…Sharon Chischilly for The New York Times

Russell Box Sr. spends his days at his home in Ignacio, Colo., painting images of Native American symbols and ceremonies he was told to forget at the boarding school he attended as a child.Credit…Sharon Chischilly for The New York Times

In the same boarding school, Mr. Box was punished so severely for speaking Ute that he refused to teach his children the language, in an effort to shield them the pain he endured, his ex-wife, Pearl E. Casias, said.

Years of alcoholism followed, he said. His marriage fell apart. It was not until middle age that he reached a fork in the road.

“I had been yearning in here,” he said, pointing to his heart. “My spirit had been yearning in here to stand in the lodge,” he said, referring to the medicine lodge that dancers enter during the annual Sundance, one of the most important ceremonies of the Ute people. “Then one day I said to myself, ‘Now I’m going to stand.’ And when I said that inside of me, there was a little flame.”

He went to the Sundance for the first time. He stopped drinking. This year, one of his daughters reached out to her mother, asking if she could teach her how to make beaded moccasins.

But for many, the wounds just do not heal.

Students and staff at Grand Junction Indian School in central Colorado in an undated photograph.Credit…Museums of Western Colorado

Jacqueline Frost, 60, was raised by her Ute aunt, a matron at the boarding school who embraced the system and became its enforcer.

Ms. Frost said she remembered the beatings. “I don’t know if it was a broom or a mop, I just remember the stick part, and my aunt swung it at me,” she said, adding: “There was belts. There was hangers. There was shoes. There was sticks, branches, wire.”

She, too, turned to alcohol. “Even though I’ve gone to so much counseling,” she said, “I still would always say, ‘Why am I like this? Why do I have this ugly feeling inside me?’”

By the turn of the century, a debate had erupted on whether it was better to “carry civilization to the Indian” by building schools on tribal land. In 1902, the government completed the construction of a boarding school on the Southern Ute reservation in Ignacio, Colo. — the school that Mr. Box and Mr. Lopez both attended.

The impact of the school, which was shuttered decades ago, can be summed up in two statistics: In the 1800s, when federal agents were trawling the reservation for children, they complained that there were almost no adults who spoke English. Today, about 30 people out of a tribe of fewer than 1,500 people — only 2 percent — speak the Ute language fluently, said Lindsay J. Box, a tribal spokeswoman. (Mr. Box is her uncle.)

“There were horrific things that happened at boarding schools,” said Tom Stritikus, the president of Fort Lewis College. “It’s important that we daylight that.”Credit…Sharon Chischilly for The New York Times

Jacqueline Frost, 60, holds a photo showing how she was forced to adopt the look and attire of a white girl. She said she was beaten by a Ute aunt who served as a matron at a federal boarding school designed to assimilate Native children.Credit…Sharon Chischilly for The New York Times

For decades, Ms. Smith barely spoke Navajo. She thought she had forgotten it, until years later at the hospital in Denver where she worked as director of patient admissions, a Navajo couple came in with their dying baby and the language came tumbling back, she said.

It marked a turn for her. She realized that the vocabulary she thought had been beaten out of her was still there. As she looked back, she recognized the small but meaningful ways in which she had resisted.

From her first day in the dormitory, she never again practiced the morning prayer to the four directions.

Unable to do it in physical form, she learned instead to do it internally: “I did it in my heart,” she said.

In her old age, she now makes jewelry using traditional elements, like “ghost beads” made from the dried berries of the juniper tree. When she started selling online, she chose the domain: www.dzabahe.com.

It is her birth name, the one that was taken from her at the boarding school, the one whose Navajo meaning endured: “woman who fights back.”

A Gross Miscarriage of Justice

Texas has been much in the news lately.  First you had the winter storms … people dying because of power outages that could have been avoided had it not been for the stubborn resolve of the state to be independent of the rest of the nation.  And off went ol’ Ted Cruz, one of two U.S. Senators representing Texas, to warm, sunny Cancun, Mexico.  Then there were the bills slashing women’s rights, and most recently the attempt to pass bills that would severely restrict about half the state from being able to vote in next year’s election.  It almost seems as if Texas doesn’t consider itself a part of the United States.  Oh wait … they don’t!  In February, State Representative Kyle Biedermann formally filed proposed legislation that would give Texans a chance to explore opting out of the union in a referendum. Biedermann began talking about the potential “Texit” in early December, saying it’s his response to a federal government that is “out of control and does not represent the values of Texans.” 

I say, let ‘em go!  Let the “great” State of Texas opt out of the union, let them figure out how to support their own economy, how to take care of their poor and elderly.  I would predict a mass exodus from Texas into places like Arizona and Oklahoma within a matter of weeks, especially if Texas keeps the ignoble Governor Abbott in charge!

But I’m not here to talk about the secession that isn’t going to happen because it isn’t legal … I’m here to talk about a ruling yesterday by a federal judge in Texas, Andrew S. Hanen of the United States District Court in Houston.  Judge Hanen ruled yesterday that President Barack Obama exceeded his authority when he created the program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), by executive order in 2012.  Nearly a decade after the fact, when thousands of young people who were brought to this country as children, some even still babies, have made this their home, have jobs, school, friends, homes … this judge rules that ultimately they must be sent back???

NO!!!!  NO NO NO NO NO, ‘Judge” Hanen!  I will fight you tooth and nail on this one, as will MOST of the rest of the nation … apart from those who are so white that they think their whiteness entitles them!  Take your Texas narrow-minded ego and shove it somewhere!

Under the judge’s ruling, immigrants enrolled in the program will for now retain the ability to stay and work in the country, though those protections could evaporate.  The Department of Homeland Security may continue to accept new applications and renewals for the program known as DACA but is prohibited from approving any of them.

Since its inception, DACA has enabled more than 800,000 immigrants who were brought illegally to the United States or fell into unlawful status when they were children to remain in the country, finish school, go to college, get jobs, buy homes, and start families.  The former guy often threatened to force the Dreamers as they are known to return to their countries of origin, even though most have no family or connections in those countries.  I thought that with the xenophobic former guy out of the White House, the Dreamers were safe from bigoted persecution.  Obviously, I was wrong.

President Biden has expressed an interest in extending a path to citizenship to the Dreamers, but the Texas ruling throws a wrench into that, though the Biden administration is almost certain to appeal the ruling.  The other option would be for Congress to pass federal legislation, but we’ve seen in the past months that the Republicans in Congress have zero intention of working with the Democrats and once any such bill reached the Senate, it would be subject to the filibuster and certain death on the Senate floor.

Texas is not alone in attempting to end the DACA program … it is joined by a number of other states … most in the South, not coincidentally:  Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, South Carolina and West Virginia.

Currently, about 650,000 immigrants are enrolled in the program. Among them are some 200,000 frontline workers who have performed essential jobs in health care, agriculture, food processing and education, among others, during the coronavirus pandemic.  About 250,000 U.S.-born children have at least one parent who is enrolled in DACA, and about 1.5 million people in the United States live with a beneficiary of the program.  Most of these people do not have family or friends in their country of origin and many do not even speak the language!  How cruel, how inhumane it would be to simply end the program and deport these people!

Ultimately, the case is likely to end up on the docket of the U.S. Supreme Court.  I wish I had more confidence in the Court’s sense of justice than I have today.  The words at the base of the Statue of Liberty read, in part …

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”

They do NOT say “as long as they are white people of Anglo-Saxon ancestry!!!”

♫ Come Together ♫

I was in the shower yesterday evening when this song popped into my head.  What is it about the shower?  I dunno, but that’s where I get most of my inspiration for my music posts!  Perhaps the water droplets beating down on my poor empty head, or perhaps because that’s the only place I can sing without the cats howling and the girls running out of the house screaming?  Anyway, I only knew two lines of the lyrics, so my vocalization in the shower amounted to a lot of dum-dum-dum-dee-dum-da-la-dum.

I must confess complete ignorance about the origins of this song … never in a million years would I have guessed that John Lennon wrote this as a campaign song for … of all people … Timothy Leary!  Yes, Timothy Leary of 1960s LSD fame once decided to run for Governor of California, and asked John Lennon to write a song for him … this is that song!

After Timothy Leary decided against using this song for his political campaign Lennon added some nonsense lyrics and brought it to the Abbey Road sessions.  In a 1980 interview with Playboy magazine, John Lennon said:

“The thing was created in the studio. It’s gobbledygook. ‘Come Together’ was an expression that Tim Leary had come up with for (perhaps for the governorship of California against Reagan), and he asked me to write a campaign song. I tried and I tried, but I couldn’t come up with one. But I came up with this, ‘Come Together,’ which would’ve been no good to him – you couldn’t have a campaign song like that, right?”

According to SongFacts …

John Lennon was sued for stealing the guitar riff and the line “Here comes old flat-top” from Chuck Berry’s “You Can’t Catch Me.” The lawsuit did not come from Berry, but from Morris Levy, one of the music industry’s most infamous characters (see our interview with Tommy James for more on Levy). He owned the song along with thousands of other early rock songs that he obtained from many poor, black, and unrepresented artists. Levy sued the Beatles, or more accurately, John Lennon, over the song around the time the Beatles broke up.

For years, Lennon delayed the trial while he and the Beatles tried to sort out all the legal and business problems that plagued Apple Records. Finally, in an attempt to avoid the court room as much as he could (Lennon felt like he was appearing in court more often than not), he settled with Levy. Lennon agreed to record his Rock N Roll album, which was just a series of cover songs, including three songs Levy owned (including “You Can’t Catch Me”) on the tracklist.

The deal made sense: Lennon always wanted to make a covers album, and Levy wanted the value of his songs to increase (when a Beatle re-records a song, that is just what happens). To make a long long long story short, Lennon recorded the album over the Lost Weekend, a year-or-two period when he was separated from Yoko Ono and lived in Los Angeles. During that time he was often drunk or high, and was rather sloppy and useless. Levy was getting frustrated with the lack of progress. Phil Spector was the producer, but in a fit of madness (which was not too unusual for Spector) he ran away and stole the recording session tapes. Levy invited Lennon to his upstate New York recording studio, and that is where he finally recorded the album, which ended up with only two Levy songs: “You Can’t Catch Me” and “Ya Ya.” 

The Beatles recorded this on July 21, 1969 and it was the first session John Lennon actively participated in following his and Yoko’s car accident 3 weeks earlier. John was so insistent on Yoko being in the studio with him that he had a hospital bed set up in the studio for her right after the accident, since she was more seriously injured than he was.

The British Broadcasting Company (BBC) banned this because of the reference to Coca Cola, which they considered advertising.  That might ‘splain why it didn’t chart in the UK … or much of anywhere outside the U.S.  When rumors were spreading that Paul McCartney was dead, some fans thought the line “One and one and one is three” meant that only George, John and Ringo were left. The line “Got to be good lookin’ cuz he’s so hard to see” was supposed to be Paul’s spirit.  🙄  Sheesh … some people will buy into anything!

Come Together
The Beatles

Here come old flat top
He come grooving up slowly
He got joo joo eyeball
He one holy roller
He got hair down to his knee
Got to be a joker he just do what he please

He wear no shoe shine
He got toe jam football
He got monkey finger
He shoot Coca-Cola
He say I know you, you know me
One thing I can tell you is you got to be free

Come together, right now, over me

He bag production
He got walrus gumboot
He got Ono sideboard
He one spinal cracker
He got feet down below his knee
Hold you in his armchair you can feel his disease

Come together, right now, over me

He roller coaster
He got early warning
He got muddy water
He one mojo filter
He say, “one and one and one is three”
Got to be good looking ’cause he’s so hard to see

Come together, right now, over me

Oh

Come together, yeah
Come together, yeah
Come together, yeah
Come together, yeah

Come together, yeah
Come together, yeah
Come together, yeah
Oh

Come together, yeah
Come together, yeah

Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Lennon John Winston / Mccartney Paul James
Come Together lyrics © Sony/atv Tunes Llc

My Worst Nightmare

Many things bother me at the moment:  Those who are actively rejecting the COVID vaccine; the determined obstruction by the Republican Party in Congress; climate change and those who refuse to so much as lift a finger to help reverse decades of man-made damage; wealthy people not paying their fair share in taxes; the ignorance of those who still believe in the former guy’s Big Lie, and the list goes on … and on.  However, the one thing that is keeping me awake nights, is bothering me more than any other single issue in this nation, that has made me contemplate seeking a new country to call home, is the current push for voter suppression and the fact that Congress and the Courts are doing NOTHING to stop states from attempting to move this nation back to the days of Jim Crow.

If you share my concerns, I hope you’ll take a minute to read Charles Blow’s latest column regarding voting rights … or should I say lack thereof …


Welcome to Jim Crow 2.0

By Charles M. Blow

Opinion Columnist

In the wake of the Civil War, liberals in the North went about establishing Reconstruction, passing the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, greatly expanding the rights of Black people in America, and putting severe restrictions on Southern states before they could be readmitted to the Union.

But of course, the Northern liberals soon grew impatient with and tired of dealing with Reconstruction and the racial issues in the South. At the same time, racial terror was regaining strength in the region.

After Reconstruction was allowed to fail, the last remaining federal troops — who had helped protect Black people from the terrorists — were withdrawn from the South. Even though there was a large percentage of Black voters in many of these states — and Black voters were the majority in some — the terrorists were able to significantly reduce that voter participation through intimidation and violence.

In Mississippi, where Black voters were the overwhelming majority, this suppression succeeded well enough that in 1890 the state called a constitutional convention to write white supremacy into the DNA of the state and to restrict the Black vote.

Only one Black delegate was invited to the convention.

When Mississippi established its Jim Crow Constitution, it didn’t submit it to the public for a vote. Instead, it simply declared that “This Constitution, adopted by the people of Mississippi in convention assembled, shall be in force and effect from and after this the first day of November, A.D. 1890.”

If it had gone before the people, Black voters would have surely voted it down.

Because the Constitution was not put before the voters, there was some question about its validity, but that was put to rest in 1892, when, as The New York Times reported, “The Supreme Court today settled the point, which was made in a contested election case, holding that the Constitutional Convention was the embodiment of the sovereignty of the people, and that it was competent for it to put into effect the new Constitution without submission to be voted on.”

Without the courts or Congress stepping in to protect voter rights, Mississippi served as the shining beacon of a way forward, and state after state in the South followed, copying the Mississippi example and calling state constitutional conventions of their own, establishing Jim Crow in the South.

The racist South may have fallen in defeat in the Civil War, but it rose in victory in the ballot war.

Once Jim Crow was established, Washington was in no hurry to dismantle it. Liberals simply worked around it. For decades, they simply accommodated Southern racists so as not to offend them and to retain the possibility of earning their votes.

Black voters in the region, disenfranchised and therefore disempowered, were essentially written out of the political calculus.

It would take more than seven decades before Congress would fully restore voting rights for Black people in the South. So, a 30-year-old Black voter in Mississippi who was disenfranchised in 1890 very likely died never having cast another ballot.

These voter suppression efforts were so effective and so emboldening that they even led to a movement — though unsuccessful — to repeal the 15th Amendment, which guaranteed Black men the right to vote.

In 1903, Representative John S. Williams of Mississippi, a proponent of the repeal, called the 15th Amendment “one of the greatest crimes in political history.”

Fast forward to the present, when Donald Trump is calling his election loss “the greatest fraud in the history of our country from an electoral standpoint,” in part because it was made possible by the votes of Black and brown people.

Most of Trump history was a failure and embarrassment, but one of its great ignoble successes is that it is ushering in Jim Crow 2.0.

Just as in the 1890s, the courts and Congress are not doing much to stop the march of voter suppression. In 1890, Benjamin Harrison, a business-minded liberal who believed in Black people’s right to vote, was in office. He endorsed the federal elections bill that would protect Black people from raging voter suppression in the South.

The bill passed in the House but languished and died in the Senate — even though liberals controlled both chambers — in part because those liberals were more focused on other issues.

Then, as The Washington Post reported, around the time of the Mississippi constitutional convention, “African Americans from 40 counties in Mississippi had protested to President Benjamin Harrison, but he declined to intervene.”

President Biden hasn’t declined to intervene, but he has dragged his feet and not used the full force of the bully pulpit and still hasn’t given a full-throated endorsement of ending the filibuster to protect voting rights.

America is having a déjà vu moment, reliving in real time a horrendous history of more than a century ago, and it is impossible to understand how Democrats in Washington don’t see that.

There is no reason to believe that this round of voter suppression is the end of those efforts, and every reason to dread that any successful implementation of them would serve as an accelerant of further suppressive efforts.

Voter suppression is like an invasive weed. Either snatch it up by the root at the first sign of a sprig or it will spread, unchecked, and consume the whole garden.


I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in a country that robs half of its people of the right to participate in government, the right to make their voices heard.

The United States: A SECULAR Nation! Let’s Keep It So

The United States of America is, by definition, a democratic republic.  It is also, by definition, a secular nation.  A secular nation, not one ruled by religious dogma, but by laws that are just and that benefit all citizens.  This nation is not a theocracy!  Please allow me to define these terms for you:

  • Secular – not subject to or bound by religious rule.
  • Democratic Republic – A democratic republic is a form of government operating on principles adopted from a republic and a democracy.
    • Republic – A state in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives.
    • Democracy – A system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives.
  • Theocracy – a form of government in which a deity of some type is recognized as the supreme ruling authority, giving divine guidance to human intermediaries that manage the day-to-day affairs of the government.

For the past several years, certain religions, particularly evangelical Christians, have been attempting to change the structure of this nation in such a way that would force the 330 million inhabitants of the U.S. to live by the narrowly defined rules of a single sect.  Now if, say, the evangelicals constituted a vast majority of the people in this nation – at least 98% — then this might be almost acceptable.  But they do not.  They are a minority.  Evangelicals comprise approximately 25.4% of the people in this nation.  By any standard, any way you choose to cut the pie, 25.4% is NOT a majority!  In addition, nearly as many, some 22.9% ascribe to no religion at all.

I try extremely hard to never criticize a person’s religion or religious beliefs, even though I do not share them.  I believe that we each have a right to believe as we wish, as we see fit, and that it is only right to respect others’ beliefs.  None of us know what is or isn’t, what may or may not be our future. That doesn’t mean that I give anybody the right to attempt to convert me or to shove their beliefs down my throat, and in return, I don’t ask them to listen to me expound on why I don’t believe as they do.  Rather a truce … believe as you will, just don’t expect me to believe as you do.  But today, I am seeing a threat to our secularity, a threat to the very principles on which this nation was founded.

What, you may ask, has lit my fuse?  A ‘man’ named Landon Schott, a ‘pastor’ at a church, ‘Mercy Culture Church’ in Fort Worth, Texas.  This church has become a beacon, as it were, for the new Republican Party, the one that is under some spell by the former guy and hopes to demolish the concept of ‘separation of church and state’.  This ‘man’ had the unmitigated gall, on the day after the attack on Congress and the Capitol in January, to stand in front of the Capitol and say, “Father, we declare America is yours.”  WHO THE HELL gave him the keys to the kingdom, the right to hand over our lives???

But it isn’t only Mr. Schott … he is only one of many who happened to cross my radar at the exact wrong moment.  There is an entire network of evangelical churches in this nation, with followings in the hundreds of thousands, who are on a mission not just to transform individual lives but also to turn civilization itself into their version of “God’s Kingdom”: one with two genders, no abortion, a free-market economy, bible-based education, church-based social programs and laws such as the ones curtailing LGBTQ rights now moving through statehouses around the country.

The U.S. Constitution guarantees religious freedom.  What that means is it guarantees that you can belong to any church you wish, or no church at all.  It means you can believe in any deity you choose to believe in, read any religious tomes you wish, and the United States government will not interfere – unless, of course, you engage in human sacrifices or some other illegal ritual.  What it does not mean is that you can impose your will on others. Period. In this nation there are people of many different religions:  Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Catholicism, Hinduism, Jain, and others.  There are also those of us who do not believe in a deity at all but believe that people control their own destiny.  How, then, can one single religion with very narrow views that would exclude some 75% of us, hope to control the laws of the land?

The simple answer is that they cannot and that the U.S. Constitution prohibits a theocratic government, so that’s that, right?  But is it?  Look at the Supreme Court, the branch of government that is the last best hope for interpreting and applying Constitutional Law.  Look at the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision, a blow to LGBTQ rights.  Most people expect the Supreme Court to overturn the previous Roe v Wade decision that was a boost to women’s rights.  How many states have either passed laws or have pending legislation to rob women of the right to make their own decisions regarding their health, their body?

My point is that this nation was founded on principles you will find if you read the Constitution – it’s only just over 8,000 words and easily readable in a couple of hours.  Nowhere in the U.S. Constitution will you find that religion, certainly not a single specific religion, should be the guiding principle for the laws of the land.

Y’know … it’s funny that a few years back the conservatives in this country were all up in arms saying that the Muslims who had migrated to the U.S. were trying to impose Sharia Law on the citizens of the U.S.  Now, not a single one of those people understood what the term even meant, and they had no basis in fact for their claims, but … since when did that ever stop people from making fools of themselves?  But now, they are suggesting essentially the same thing … that we impose ‘Christian Law’ upon the citizens of this nation.  We are NOT all Christians and we don’t all believe the same.  I repeat what I said in the beginning … believe and worship as you will, but this is a SECULAR nation, NOT a Christian nation!!!

If I have offended any with this post, I apologize, for it was not my intention to do so.  I respect your right to believe as you wish, and ask only that you also respect mine.

Commitment To Ignorance?

More than a few times in the past few months/years, I have thought that the biggest hurdle to sanity in our country was one thing:  ignorance.  I don’t say ‘stupidity’, for that implies an inability to comprehend, but rather ignorance, which is the refusal to comprehend, to consider other options, other ways of doing things.  A few days ago, I came across this OpEd by Paul Krugman writing for the New York Times that I think speaks volumes about our current situation.


What Underlies the G.O.P. Commitment to Ignorance?

By Paul Krugman

Opinion Columnist

June 28, 2021

As everyone knows, leftists hate America’s military. Recently, a prominent left-wing media figure attacked Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, declaring, “He’s not just a pig, he’s stupid.”

Oh, wait. That was no leftist, that was Fox News’s Tucker Carlson. What set Carlson off was testimony in which Milley told a congressional hearing that he considered it important “for those of us in uniform to be open-minded and widely read.”

The problem is obvious. Closed-mindedness and ignorance have become core conservative values, and those who reject these values are the enemy, no matter what they may have done to serve the country.

The Milley hearing was part of the orchestrated furor over “critical race theory,” which has dominated right-wing media for the past few months, getting close to 2,000 mentions on Fox so far this year. One often sees assertions that those attacking critical race theory have no idea what it’s about, but I disagree; they understand that it has something to do with assertions that America has a history of racism and of policies that explicitly or implicitly widened racial disparities.

And such assertions are unmistakably true. The Tulsa race massacre really happened, and it was only one of many such incidents. The 1938 underwriting manual for the Federal Housing Administration really did declare that “incompatible racial groups should not be permitted to live in the same communities.”

We can argue about the relevance of this history to current policy, but who would argue against acknowledging simple facts?

The modern right, that’s who. The current obsession with critical race theory is a cynical attempt to change the subject away from the Biden administration’s highly popular policy initiatives, while pandering to the white rage that Republicans deny exists. But it’s only one of multiple subjects on which willful ignorance has become a litmus test for anyone hoping to succeed in Republican politics.

Thus, to be a Republican in good standing one must deny the reality of man-made climate change, or at least oppose any meaningful action to limit greenhouse gas emissions. One must reject or at least express skepticism about the theory of evolution. And don’t even get me started on things like the efficacy of tax cuts.

What underlies this cross-disciplinary commitment to ignorance? On each subject, refusing to acknowledge reality serves special interests. Climate denial caters to the fossil fuel industry; evolution denial caters to religious fundamentalists; tax-cut mysticism caters to billionaire donors.

But there’s also, I’d argue, a spillover effect: Accepting evidence and logic is a sort of universal value, and you can’t take it away in one area of inquiry without degrading it across the board. That is, you can’t declare that honesty about America’s racial history is unacceptable and expect to maintain intellectual standards everywhere else. In the modern right-wing universe of ideas, everything is political; there are no safe subjects.

This politicization of everything inevitably creates huge tension between conservatives and institutions that try to respect reality.

There have been many studies documenting the strong Democratic lean of college professors, which is often treated as prima facie evidence of political bias in hiring. A new law in Florida requires that each state university conduct an annual survey “which considers the extent to which competing ideas and perspectives are presented,” which doesn’t specifically mandate the hiring of more Republicans but clearly gestures in that direction.

An obvious counterargument to claims of biased hiring is self-selection: How many conservatives choose to pursue careers in, say, sociology? Is hiring bias the reason police officers seem to have disproportionately supported Donald Trump in the 2016 election, or is this simply a reflection of the kind of people who choose careers in law enforcement?

But beyond that, the modern G.O.P. is no home for people who believe in objectivity. One striking feature of surveys of academic partisanship is the overwhelming Democratic lean in hard sciences like biology and chemistry; but is that really hard to understand when Republicans reject science on so many fronts?

One recent study marvels that even finance departments are mainly Democratic. Indeed, you might expect finance professors, some of whom do lucrative consulting for Wall Street, to be pretty conservative. But even they are repelled by a party committed to zombie economics.

Which brings me back to General Milley. The U.S. military has traditionally leaned Republican, but the modern officer corps is highly educated, open-minded and, dare I say it, even a bit intellectual — because those are attributes that help win wars.

Unfortunately, they are also attributes the modern G.O.P. finds intolerable.

So something like the attack on Milley was inevitable. Right-wingers have gone all in on ignorance, so they were bound to come into conflict with every institution — including the U.S. military — that is trying to cultivate knowledge.

Something To Celebrate! 🎈

I was in the midst of gathering snippets of news upon which to unleash my world-famous snark when I came upon something so heartwarming that it made the snark take a backseat … for now, anyway.  What was it, you ask?  Yesterday, former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary!  I think that is worthy of putting the snark aside and congratulating them!  They’ve been married longer than I’ve been alive, and I’ve been alive a loooonnnnnggg time!

I was married for 15 long years and try though we did, we simply drifted further apart in our views of life.  Marriage is a complex thing … it takes tons of patience, the willingness and ability to compromise, it takes being able to say, “I’m sorry” without following it with a ‘but’.  Whenever I read about someone who has been married to the same person for 50 years, I am uber-impressed, but 75 years together has me floored!

Jimmy & Rosalynn were married on July 7th 1946, one month after Jimmy graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy.  Yesterday, they became the longest-married presidential couple in U.S. history.  Jimmy Carter, who is now 96 years of age has said that his marriage to Rosalynn, a spry 93 years old, is the single most important thing in his life.

James Earl Carter Jr, fresh from the US Naval Academy, married Eleanor Rosalynn Smith at a Methodist church in Plains on 7 July 1946

On Monday, Jimmy Carter appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America where he was asked what the secret to such a long marriage is.  His response was simple enough …

“First of all, choose the right person to marry. And every night, we try to make sure we’re completely reconciled from all the arguments during the day.”

Simple, yes?  Maybe not so simple, given that every year in the U.S. there are some 750,000 divorces, many by couples over 50 years of age.

Jimmy Carter served as the 39th President of the United States from January 20th 1977 until January 20th 1981.  Since leaving the White House, he and Rosalynn have been involved in a number of humanitarian works, the most famous being, of course, Habitat for Humanity where even as recently as last year, Jimmy could be seen on a ladder with a hammer in hand, helping build homes for those who might otherwise never own a home.

Back home, the couple supported the Habitat for Humanity charity, building affordable homes

Congratulations to Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter … two good people who dedicated their lives to each other and to humanity!  We should all strive to be more like them!

Rosalynn supported Jimmy’s rise through Democratic politics, from his election as a state senator in Georgia in 1963 to the 1976 presidential campaign, seen here

On one occasion, the couple met rock legend Elvis Presley

The 39th president of the United States and his first lady walked in the inaugural parade with their daughter Amy on 20 January 1977. They also have three sons

Dancing at a White House ball on 13 December 1978

After leaving office the Carters were involved in peace initiatives abroad. In 2002 they made a visit to communist Cuba

In December 2018, they attended the funeral of George Bush Sr in Washington DC along with other former presidents and their wives, as well as then President Donald Trump

New President Joe Biden and his wife Jill visited the Carters at their home in Plains on 29 April

Boom 🧨

Just what pleasure do people get from setting off obnoxiously loud fireworks for hours on end?  I’ve never understood it.  I am sitting here at just after midnight, and every few seconds comes another loud BOOM!  This is an apartment complex of 180 townhouses, most occupied by working class families with children and pets.  Some actually go to bed and sleep at night, but obviously not tonight. My own cats are cowering under the sofa.  There are a number of fireworks shows in and around this city with fireworks that are actually pretty, that light up the night sky with colour, so why don’t these fools attend one of those?  No, they would rather set off fireworks that only make loud noise and cause my heart to literally jump with every single one.  I am too old for this crap.

The reason for the fireworks?  Today is the 4th of July 2021.  Here in the United States it is a federal holiday commemorating the passage of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776.  There was a time when this day meant something to me. Today, I find it difficult to feel any particular loyalty to a nation that is so divided we seem to be two distinctly separate countries, only without geographic boundaries.  There is no middle ground anymore … you are either a liberal or conservative, Democrat of Republican, human or racist, thinker or follower.  There have, of course, always been such divisions, but until about a decade ago, there was a middle ground, some things that we could all agree on.  Today, that middle ground is gone, replaced by a wide chasm, a desolate wasteland where neither side will venture.  Worse yet, civility and respect have also flown the coop such that if one person disagrees with another, they will call each other vulgar names and hurl accusations, maybe even threats.

We are on a path that is taking us far from the ideology that this nation was once based on, that of “all ‘men’ being created equal.”  Racism is on the rise around the nation, promoted by many of our elected officials.  Our right to participate in our government via our vote is on the chopping block and was dealt what may turn out to be a death blow last Thursday by none other than the U.S. Supreme Court.

Inflation is >5% just in the past year, and many families who lost income during the pandemic are struggling to survive while state governments are cutting unemployment benefits.

Gun violence is beyond words … anybody can buy and own a gun … as many of them as they want.  They can buy automatic weapons that can kill everyone in the room within a minute or two.  Shootings at grocery stores, mosques, on the streets, in theaters and bars have become commonplace and one half of the nation would protect their right to own a gun before they would protect their own children.

The U.S. is the #1 per capita emitter of the carbon that is literally killing us all with melting icecaps, rising sea levels, deadly heat, water shortages, ruined crops and more and the people of this nation rebel at any suggestion that they make certain lifestyle changes to try to turn things around.

No, I’m afraid there really isn’t a whole lot to celebrate this holiday.  The one bright spot is that we do, after four long years, finally have a president who is intelligent and compassionate, who cares about the needs of the people, but even that bright light is dimmed by those who would put up obstacles at every turn to slow or halt any progress he might make.

So no, I’m not celebrating this holiday … this is just another Sunday to me and frankly I’ll be glad when this long weekend is over and the fireworks stop so the kitties can come out from under the sofa, we can stop worrying about a fire here in da hood, and my heart can settle back into my chest.