History Repeats Itself … If We Let It

As I so often say, and as many with better minds than mine have long said before me, if we fail to learn the lessons of history, then we are destined to repeat our mistakes.  In an article in The Guardian, Steve Philips writes about the lessons we need to have learned from the post-Civil War era and what our future holds if we fail to heed those lessons …

If America fails to punish its insurrectionists, it could see a wave of domestic terror

Steve Phillips

We must not repeat the mistakes of the years after the 1860s war for white supremacy that we call the civil war

The last time the United States failed to properly punish insurrectionists, they went on to form the Ku Klux Klan, unleash a reign of murderous domestic terrorism, and re-establish formal white supremacy in much of the country for more than 100 years. As the House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol attack begins televised hearings this week, the lessons from the post-civil war period offer an ominous warning for this moment and where we go from here.

It is often difficult to sustain the requisite sense of urgency about past events, however dramatic and shocking they may have been at the time. Memories fade, new challenges arise and the temptation to put it all behind us and move on is strong. On top of all that, Republicans quickly and disingenuously called for “unity”, mere days after failing to block the peaceful transfer of power. If we want to preserve our fragile democracy, however, Congress and the president must learn from history and not make the same mistakes their predecessors did in the years after the 1860s war for white supremacy that we call the civil war.

In 1860, many people believed that America should be a white nation where Black people could be bought and sold and held in slavery. The civil war began when many of the people who held that view refused to accept the results of that year’s presidential election. They first plotted to assassinate president-elect Abraham Lincoln (five years later, they would succeed). Then they seceded from the Union, and shortly thereafter started shooting and killing people who disagreed with them. By the end of the war, 2% of the entire country’s population had been killed, the equivalent of 7 million people being killed based on today’s US population.

Despite the rampant treason and extraordinary carnage of the war, the country’s political leaders had little appetite for punishing their white counterparts who had done their level best to destroy the United States of America. After Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth successfully assassinated Lincoln in 1865, Andrew Johnson ascended to the highest office in the land. Johnson, a southerner who “openly espoused white supremacy”, “handed out pardons indiscriminately” to Confederate leaders and removed from the south the federal troops protecting newly freed African Americans.

The historian Lerone Bennett Jr captured the tragedy of the moment in his book Black Power USA: The Human Side of Reconstruction, 1867-1877, writing: “Most Confederate leaders expected imprisonment, confiscation, perhaps even banishment. Expecting the worst, they were willing to give up many things in order to keep some. If there was ever a moment for imposing a lasting solution to the American racial problem, this was it. But the North dawdled and the moment passed. When the Confederates realized that the North was divided and unsure, hope returned. And with hope came a revival of the spirit of rebellion … this was one of the greatest political blunders in American history.”

With that revival of white supremacist hope came ropes and robes and widespread domestic terrorism. Mere months after the ostensible end of the civil war in April 1865, half a dozen southern young white Confederate war veterans gathered in Pulaski, Tennessee, in December 1865 to discuss what to do with their lives, and they decided to form a new organization called the Ku Klux Klan. The first Grand Wizard of the KKK, Nathan Bedford Forrest, was a Confederate general who had been pardoned by Johnson. In less than one year, Forrest would go on to orchestrate “336 cases of murder or assault with intent to kill on freedmen across the state [of Georgia] from January 1 through November 15 of 1868”.

The effectiveness of the domestic terrorism in crushing the country’s nascent multiracial democracy was unsurprising and undeniable. In Columbia county, Georgia, 1,222 votes had been cast for the anti-slavery party in April 1868, and after the reign of terror that year, the party received just one vote in November .

Lest we think this was all a long time ago, the House committee hearings are about to remind us all that we had an insurrection just last year. Not only did a violent mob attack the country’s elected leaders and attempt to block the peaceful transfer of power, but even after the assault was repelled, 147 Republicans – the majority of the Republican members in Congress – refused to accept the votes of the American people and attempted to overthrow the elected government of the United States of America.

And far from being chastened, the enemies of democracy in the Republican party have only become emboldened, like their Confederate counterparts of the last century. Just as happened in the years after the civil war when the prospect of large-scale Black voting threatened white power and privilege, the defenders of white nationalism have engaged in a legislative orgy of passing pro-white public policies – from trying to erase evidence of racism and white supremacy from public school instruction to laws making it increasingly difficult for people of color to cast ballots. As journalist Ron Brownstein has warned, “The two-pronged fight captures how aggressively Republicans are moving to entrench their current advantages in red states, even as many areas grow significantly more racially and culturally diverse. Voting laws are intended to reconfigure the composition of today’s electorate; the teaching bans aim to shape the attitudes of tomorrow’s.”

All of this is happening because the insurrectionists have not and believe they will not be punished. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Democrats control Congress and the White House, and they can take strong and decisive action to ensure appropriate consequences for people who seek to undermine democracy. The House of Representatives impeached Donald Trump in 2021 for incitement of insurrection, and Congress can still invoke the 14th amendment’s provision banning from office any person who has “engaged in insurrection”. All those who aided and abetted Trump’s insurrection should face the full force of the laws that are designed to protect the multiracial democracy that the majority of Americans want. The fate of democracy in America is quite literally at stake.

Juneteenth Is Now Official, But …

Tomorrow is Juneteeth.  If you don’t know what Juneteenth is, please visit my post from last year to refresh your memory.  In short, Juneteenth is “a holiday celebrated on 19 June to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved people in the US. The holiday was first celebrated in Texas, where on that date in 1865, in the aftermath of the Civil War, slaves were declared free under the terms of the 1862 Emancipation Proclamation.”  But in this, the era of extreme racism in government, police, and society, it is much, much more than that.

I was so moved that I was speechless, a rarity for me, when President Biden signed a bill, the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, into law yesterday declaring that June 19th is, from this point forward in the United States, a federal holiday.  The bill landed on the President’s desk despite some 14 members of the House of Representatives who objected.  Yes, my friends, 14 people who We the People elected to federal office, to the United States Congress, are still so blinded by bigotry that they refused to honour the day that, at least on paper, Black people won the right to be free and equal in the eyes of this nation.

Those 14 representatives are …

  1. Mo Brooks (Alabama)
  2. Andy Biggs (Arizona)
  3. Andrew Clyde (Georgia)
  4. Scott DesJarlais (Tennessee)
  5. Paul Gosar (Arizona)
  6. Ronnie Jackson (Texas)
  7. Doug LaMalfa (California)
  8. Thomas Massie (Kentucky)
  9. Tom McClintock (California)
  10. Ralph Norman (South Carolina)
  11. Mike Rogers (Alabama)
  12. Matt Rosendale (Montana)
  13. Chip Roy (Texas)
  14. Tom Tiffany (Wisconsin)

Remember their names, for these are some of the most racist, bigoted representatives in the United States Congress today.  Also note that ten of the fourteen are from states SOUTH of the Mason-Dixon line … states that fought on the side of the Confederacy trying to preserve slavery just 150 years ago.

There seem to have been two schools of ‘thought’ (and I use that term loosely) among these fourteen as to why they do not support this bill.  Some said it was because of the bill’s name as ‘Independence Day’, and others objected … believe it or not … to federal workers getting yet another paid holiday!  Remember that members of Congress get numerous, lengthy paid holidays each year, far in excess of what the average worker gets.  A few of the more ignominious comments …

  • “Juneteenth is more debunked Critical Race Theory in action.” – Paul Gosar
  • “… I do not support more days off for federal employees.” – Ronny Jackson
  • “Naming this day ‘National Independence Day’ would create confusion and push Americans to pick one of those two days as their independence day based on their racial identity.” – Thomas Massie
  • “I don’t believe it’s healthy to reach into the dead past, revive its most malevolent conflicts and reintroduce them into our age.” – Tom McClintock
  • This isn’t an effort to commemorate emancipation, it’s very clearly tied to the larger hard-left agenda to enshrine the racial history of this country as the prime aspect of our national story.” – Matt Rosendale
  • “… needlessly divides our nation on a matter that should instead bring us together by creating a separate Independence Day based on the color of one’s skin.” – Chip Roy

Apparently Mr. McClintock and Mr. Rosendale do not believe in that old adage that if we forget the lessons of history, we are destined to repeat it.  And Mr. Roy must have his head buried in the sand if he doesn’t realize that this nation is already hopelessly divided on matters of race, among other issues.  What a bunch of narrow-minded bigots these 14 white males are, with no sense of history, no sense of humanity, only their own belief in their white supremacy.  Folks, please, vote these jerks out next year … our very lives depend on it.

♫ Tom Dooley ♫

Tonight, I’ve been working hard for several hours on my post for mine and Jeff’s project that will publish at 3:00 this afternoon.  At a few points, I found myself actually digging holes in my scalp out of frustration, trying to get my point across without being offensive to anyone.  Throughout, I had a song in my head … nope, not Tom Dooley … Ride Like the Wind by Bob Seger!  But, I played it in February 2019, and I’ve done too many re-duxes lately … time for something new and original.  So, when I finished the first draft and emailed it to Jeff for his review, I decided … how ’bout something from waaaaaay back, something fun?  And thus …

Tom Dooley was released in 1958, the year I turned 7.  Leg braces and Coke-bottle-thick glasses, braids in my hair … I cut quite an image, don’t you know!  What were you doing in 1958?  I think that was the year my dad taught me to ride a bike … we lived at the top of a steep street at the time … need I say more?


Tom Dula

This song is written loosely based on the life of one Thomas C. Dula (pronounced Dooley), a former Confederate soldier who was convicted of murdering Laura Foster.  National publicity from newspapers such as the New York Times turned Dula’s story into a folk legend. Although Laura was murdered in Wilkes County, North Carolina, Dula was tried, convicted, and hanged in Statesville.

Suddenly, I find myself wondering just why I thought this song would be ‘fun’.  However, since it is 1:30 a.m. and I really want to play this bloomin’ song, and I still have comments to answer and my a.m. post to clean up, I’m not changing boats in mid-stream, else I’ll never get to bed.  Could just be that the rabbit hole has made me a bit macabre … forgive me, friends, but try to remember … what were you doing when this song hit #1 in the U.S. and #5 in the UK in 1958?

Tom Dooley
The Kingston Trio

Throughout history there have been many songs
Written about the eternal triangle
This next one tells the story of a Mr. Grayson,
A beautiful woman, and a condemned man named Tom Dooley
When the sun rises tomorrow, Tom Dooley must hang

Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Hang down your head and cry
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Poor boy, you’re bound to die

I met her on the mountain, there I took her life
Met her on the mountain, stabbed her with my knife

Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Hang down your head and cry (ah-uh-eye)
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Poor boy, you’re bound to die

This time tomorrow reckon where I’ll be
Hadn’t-a been for Grayson, I’d-a been in Tennessee (well now, boy)

Hang down (your head) your head (Dooley) and cry
Hang down your head and cry (ah poor boy, ah well-ah)
Hang down (your head) your head (Dooley) and cry
Poor boy, you’re bound to die (ah well now boy)

Hang down (your head) your head (Dooley) and cry
Hang down your head and cry (ah poor boy, ah well-ah)
Hang down (your head) your head (Dooley) and cry
Poor boy, you’re bound to die

This time tomorrow reckon where I’ll be
Down in some lonesome valley hangin’ from a white oak tree

Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Hang down your head and cry (ah-uh-eye)
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Poor boy, you’re bound to die (ah well now boy)

Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Hang down your head and cry (poor boy ah well uh)
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Poor boy, you’re bound to die
Poor boy, you’re bound to die
Poor boy, you’re bound to die
Poor boy, you’re bound to die

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Alan Lomax / Frank Warner / John A. Lomax
Tom Dooley lyrics © T.R.O. Inc.

Honouring Racism????

You remember the “Unite the Right” fiasco in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017?  The rally was organized by a large number of different groups, mainly white supremacists and neo-Nazis.  People died, more were injured, some beaten up, others injured when a car plowed into a group of people.  And remember in the aftermath, when Donald Trump said there were good people on both sides?  That rally was in protest of plans to remove a Confederate statue of Robert E. Lee, a Confederate general.

In the days following Charlottesville, Confederate  statues began falling:  activists in Durham, North Carolina, used ropes to tear down a statue of a Confederate soldier outside the city’s former courthouse; authorities in Baltimore moved to take down the city’s Confederate monuments; and the mayor of Birmingham, Alabama, where state law prohibits the removal of a Confederate monument from a city park, ordered it covered up with plastic.

Confederate statues are a source of great controversy, as some claim they are a valuable part of U.S. history, while others say they enshrine evil – the evil that was slavery.  Some accuse those who want the statues removed of attempting to “wipe out any pride Southerners should have in their heritage.”  Trump argued that the removal of these monuments amounted to “changing history,” adding, “I wonder, is it George Washington next week?”; then later, tweeting that “the history and culture of our great country” are “being ripped apart” by those who wish to see the monuments gone.

There remain some 1,500 memorials to the Confederacy around the nation today.  One such is a statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest that stands 25 feet high and depicts Forrest on a horse, shooting behind himself, flanked by Confederate battle flags.  The sculptor of the statue is Jack Kershaw—who is primarily known for defending the assassin of Martin Luther King Jr.  The statue is located in Nashville, Tennessee, in plain sight of Interstate Highway 65.  Since it is located on private property, it cannot be removed by state or county officials, and efforts to use landscaping to obscure it from view have failed. Forrest statue.jpegLet me tell you just a bit about Nathan Bedford Forrest …

Forrest was a Confederate Army general during the American Civil War.  On April 12, 1864, he led the Battle of Fort Pillow, also known as the Fort Pillow massacre, at Fort Pillow on the Mississippi River in Henning, Tennessee.  Fort Pillow was an African-American Union fort, and even thought the troops surrendered, they and their families who were residing within the fort were brutally tortured and murdered.  The total deaths were estimated at 350, including women and children, and there were almost as many injured or captured.


Nathan Bedford Forrest

Then in 1867, after the conclusion of the Civil War, Forrest became the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, a position he would hold for two years.  The Klan, with Forrest at the lead, suppressed voting rights of blacks and Republicans in the South through violence and intimidation during the elections of 1868.  Near the end of his life, he denied his role in the Fort Pillow Massacre, and claimed he had never been a member of the KKK, but his words are proven to be lies in the annals of history.

So why, you ask, am I giving you a history lesson today?  Because yesterday, the State of Tennessee celebrated the life of Nathan Bedford Forrest.  It is bad enough to have a statue of a Confederate figure, but to celebrate a man who was responsible for the deaths of African-Americans solely because their skin is dark … that, my friends, is an abomination.


Governor Bill Lee

In 1921, a state representative named John Travis of Henry County, Tennessee, got a bill passed marking the 100th birthday of Nathan Bedford Forrest, and every year since, the state’s governor has signed a proclamation to observe “Nathan Bedford Forrest Day”.  This year was no exception, and current Governor Bill Lee signed the proclamation on Thursday.

Even Republican Senator Ted Cruz, for whom I have more pity than respect, spoke against honouring a man who should have been tried as a war criminal …

“This is WRONG. Nathan Bedford Forrest was a Confederate general & a delegate to the 1868 Democratic Convention. He was also a slave trader & the 1st Grand Wizard of the KKK. Tennessee should not have an official day (tomorrow) honoring him. Change the law.”

proclamation.jpgMy friend Herb tells me that I am too critical of the South.  Things like this might explain why.  Racism is alive and well all over the United States, but in most places it simmers beneath the surface, while in the South, they embrace it, they are proud of the heritage of slavery, proud to be the home of the KKK.  Sorry, folks, it’s time to change the law that honours a slave trader, murderer and racist extraordinaire.  You won’t find statues honouring Adolf Hitler in Germany, nor will you find a day dedicated to honouring his memory there.

We cannot forget the shameful past of this nation, nor should we.  But we do not have to celebrate it!

A SLAP In The Face …

In April 2016 the U.S. Treasury Department announced that Harriet Tubman would replace Andrew Jackson on the center of a new $20 bill.  The change was to have occurred next year to mark the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in the United States.  Why?  Because there have been only a few women on U.S. currency, and those were on the $1 coins. We thought it was about time.  There has also never been an African-American of either gender on U.S. currency. We thought that in honour of our winning the battle 100 years ago to convince men that we had a brain that functioned well enough to do something other than birth babies, cook and keep the house tidy, it would be nice to recognize a woman who had made notable contributions during her lifetime.

Harriet-Tubman.jpgI was excited to think of a woman finally appearing on a bill, and especially excited to see that woman be Harriet Tubman.  I used to teach a Black History class every February for Black History Month, and while there were many men and women who fought the fight against slavery, and then later to gain civil rights, Ms. Tubman was always one of my favourites.  Her courage and dedication were exceeded by none.  Not only did she devote her life to racial equality, she fought for women’s rights alongside the nation’s leading suffragists.

Andrew-JacksonSo, she was to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.  Let me tell you just a little bit about Andrew Jackson.  He was a slaveowner, known for his cruel treatment of slaves. At one point, he owned as many as 161 slaves and was well-known for brutally whipping them in public and putting them in chains.  He was also the man who was responsible for the forced removal of Native Americans from their ancestral lands.  Jackson’s Indian Removal Act resulted in the forced displacement of nearly 50,000 Native Americans and opened up 25 million acres of Native American land to white settlement.  Tens of thousands died during forced removals like the Trail of Tears in what is now Oklahoma.


Trail of Tears

And now, let me tell you a bit about Harriet Tubman.  Harriet Tubman was born into slavery in 1822. Early in life, she suffered a traumatic head wound when in a fit of temper, her owner threw a heavy metal weight intending to hit another slave but hit her instead.  In 1849, following a bout of illness and the death of her owner, Harriet Tubman decided to escape slavery in Maryland for Philadelphia. Rather than remaining in the safety of the North, Tubman made it her mission to rescue her family and others living in slavery via the Underground Railroad.  

Harriet-Tubman-3Altogether it is believed that she made some thirteen trips to guide a total of approximately 70 slaves to freedom via the Underground Railroad, and then came the Civil War.  Harriet Tubman remained active during the Civil War. Working for the Union Army as a cook and nurse, Tubman quickly became an armed scout and spy. The first woman to lead an armed expedition in the war, she guided the Combahee River Raid, which liberated more than 700 slaves in South Carolina.

Harriet-Tubman-4Compare these two people.  Andrew Jackson’s face is on the $20 bill, and Harriet Tubman’s was scheduled to be as of next year, but those plans have been nixed until 2028.  Why???  Because Treasury Secretary and bootlicker Steve Mnuchin does not wish to upset Donald Trump, whose hero is the abhorrent Andrew Jackson, that’s why!

See, Trump was on the campaign trail when the decision to put Ms. Tubman’s image on the currency was announced, and he expressed his displeasure, calling it “pure political correctness” …

“Well, Andrew Jackson had a great history, and I think it’s very rough when you take somebody off the bill. I think Harriet Tubman is fantastic, but I would love to leave Andrew Jackson or see if we can maybe come up with another denomination.”

He then suggested that perhaps Tubman could grace the $2 bill … a denomination that is no longer being printed.  In this writer’s opinion, Trump’s statement was a slap in the face, not only to Harriet Tubman, but to women, and particularly African-American women, throughout the nation.


Steve Mnuchin

Steven Mnuchin’s attempt to justify the postponement was laughable b.s., something pertaining, he said to ‘security’ and ‘counterfeiting issues’.  The reality, however, was reported in the New York Times on Wednesday …

Mr. Mnuchin, concerned that the president might create an uproar by canceling the new bill altogether, was eager to delay its redesign until Mr. Trump was out of office, some senior Treasury Department officials have said.

And there you have it, folks.  A great woman, a courageous woman who saved many lives, cannot be honoured because it might upset the idiot-in-chief who is a fan of a misogynistic racist.  It is said that Trump has called Jackson a populist hero who reminds him of himself.  He even has a portrait of Jackson hanging in the Oval Office.  If you ever doubted that Donald Trump is a racist and denigrator of women, wonder no more … this is the proof.

President Arrested!!!

Amidst the ongoing debate in Washington circles and around the nation about whether or not a sitting president can be indicted or charged with a crime, I came across this tidbit of a time a president was, indeed, arrested.  There’s some humour here, and as I thought we could all stand to take a bit of a break from the ongoing bleakness that pervades our newsfeed on a daily … nay, hourly … basis.

This came from an article in the Retropolis section of The Washington Post and was written by Michael S. Rosenwald …

In 1872, while president, Grant was arrested at the corner of 13th and M streets in Washington. This was not a high crime, but it was — at least theoretically speaking — a misdemeanor.Grant-arrestedThe man who led the North to victory in the Civil War was busted for speeding in his horse-drawn carriage.

The story of his arrest — confirmed a few years ago by Cathy L. Lanier, who was then the District’s police chief — was told in a remarkable but obviously forgotten story in the Sept. 27, 1908, edition of the Washington Evening Star under the headline: “Only Policeman Who Ever Arrested a President.”

That policeman was William H. West, a black man who had fought in the Civil War.

“Since his retirement,” the story said, “he has decided to let the public know the true story of the arrest.”

It begins with Grant’s love of fast horses.

“Gen. Grant was an ardent admirer of a good horse and loved nothing better than to sit behind a pair of spirited animals,” the Star story said. “He was a good driver, and sometimes ‘let them out’ to try their mettle.”

And that’s where Grant, as president, rode into the law.

The police had been receiving complaints of speeding carriages. After a mother and child were run over and badly injured, Officer West was dispatched to investigate. As West spoke to witnesses, another group of speeding carriages headed toward him — including one driven by the president of the United States.

“Policeman West held up his hand for them to stop,” the story said. “Grant was driving a pair of fast steppers and he had some difficulty in halting them, but this he managed to do.”

Grant was a bit testy.

“Well, officer,” he said, “what do you want with me?”

West replied: “I want to inform you, Mr. President, that you are violating the law by speeding along this street. Your fast driving, sir, has set the example for a lot of other gentlemen.”

The president apologized, promised it wouldn’t happen again, and galloped away.

But Grant could not curb his need for speed.

The next evening, West was patrolling at the corner of 13th and M streets when the president came barreling through again, this time speeding so fast that it took him an entire block to stop.

Now Grant was cocky and had a “smile on his face,” the Star article said, that made him look like “a schoolboy who had been caught in a guilty act by a teacher.”

He said, “Do you think, officer, that I was violating the speed laws?”

“I do, Mr. President,” West said.

Grant had an excuse for his speeding, not unlike one no doubt being given somewhere right now: He had no idea he had been going so fast.

West was sympathetic but firm.

“I am very sorry, Mr. President, to have to do it,” he said, “for you are the chief of the nation, and I am nothing but a policeman, but duty is duty, sir, and I will have to place you under arrest.”

It’s worth pointing out here that standards of journalism, particularly with quotations, were not as rigorous back then as today, so it’s nearly impossible to know if this is the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help us hot type.

However, Lanier did confirm the arrest, and there are other historical references to it.

Anyway, Grant and several of his speeding buddies also arrested went with West to the police station. The president of the United States was ordered to put up 20 bucks as collateral. A trial was held the next day.

“Thirty-two ladies of the most refined character and surroundings voluntarily came into the court and testified against the drivers,” the Star story said. “The cases were contested bitterly.”

The judge imposed “heavy fines” and a “scathing rebuke” to the speeding drivers, who didn’t include the president.

He didn’t show up for court.

Grant, by the way, was also a republican!  Just sayin’ …

South Carolina Wants To Leave Home …

South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union in December 1860, and was one of the founding member states of the Confederacy in February 1861.  And now, they want to do it again.  According to an article in The Hill …

A group of Republican state legislators in South Carolina introduced a measure Thursday that would allow the state to secede from the United States if the federal government began to seize legally purchased firearms in the state.

The bill, which was referred to the state House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, would allow South Carolina lawmakers to debate whether to secede from the United States if the federal government were to violate the Second Amendment.

It states that “the general assembly shall convene to consider whether to secede from the United States based upon the federal government’s unconstitutional violation of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution if the federal government confiscates legally purchased firearms in this state.”

Now, since the major secession of the Civil War, a number of states have gotten their knickers in a wad and tried to run away from home, but in each case the idea either failed to gain momentum or was struck down in the courts.  In 2009, Texas Governor Rick Perry raised the issue of secession in disputed comments during a speech at a Tea Party protest saying “Texas is a unique place. When we came into the union in 1845, one of the issues was that we would be able to leave if we decided to do that … My hope is that America and Washington in particular pays attention. We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, who knows what may come of that.”  I have no idea what he was talking about, but remember that it was Rick Perry, the current and unlikely Secretary of Energy, and last November’s Idiot of the Week award winner.

The State of Alaska tried it in 2006, but the Alaska Supreme Court ruled that secession was illegal and refused to permit an initiative to be presented to the people of Alaska for a vote.  (See Kohlhaas v. State of Alaska)

Mike Pitts

Back to South Carolina … the measure was put together by three republican (go figure) state representatives – Mike Pitts, Jonathon Hill and Ashley Trantham – in response to anti-gun violence advocates who, in the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida shooting in February, have stepped up demands for new gun control laws, calling for prohibitions on assault-style weapons and stronger background checks for gun buyers, among other measures.

Ralph Norman

If you doubt how seriously South Carolinians take their guns, consider this:  U.S. Representative from South Carolina, Ralph Norman, was holding a town hall style meeting with his constituents in a local restaurant last Friday, when, to the dismay of most in the audience, he pulled a loaded gun from his pocket and placed it on the table in front of him.  The idea, he later claimed, was to show that firearms are not dangerous.  He kept asking people if they felt safer, and many later said they did not feel safer and were very uncomfortable about it.  I would have gotten up and left.  One constituent said, “I was very angry. I felt like it was a move to intimidate.”

The likelihood that this bill to secede will go anywhere is near nil, but the idea that they would consider seceding from the union just to be able to own assault weapons should be lost on nobody.  In 1860, states began seceding because they wished to maintain their right to own other human beings.  Now, in 2018, at least one state is threatening to secede because they wish to maintain their right to own what I would call ‘weapons of mass destruction’, for assault weapons are made only for the purpose of mass killings.  There is a part of me that wants to send them on their way and wish them well, and then petition for a border wall, not on the U.S.-Mexican border, but around the state of South Carolina!

It is a sad statement when I tell you that, in all honesty, I am far less afraid of any Muslin or Mexican, anybody from any other country, than I am the citizens of my own country who are willing to go to any lengths for the right to own killing machines.  And it is a sad statement when, instead of working together to find compromises that are acceptable to all, that make our nation safer and better, we want to hurt others.  Whatever happened to putting human life above all else?  Whatever happened to reaching out to others and seeking to understand?  What ever happened to caring, to compassion?  And for that matter, where have gone intelligence and common sense?  Think about that one for a bit.

This t-shirt was seen at a recent rally in South Carolina.

John Kelly Lost My Respect

Three months.  That’s all it took was three months for me to reverse my opinion of White House Chief of Staff, John Kelly.  This morning, I went back and reviewed my original post assessing General Kelly when he was first assigned the job.  My assessment was that he was a good man, a fair man, and while I did not like some of his political stances (immigration, women in the military, the terrorist threat), I thought he had “the right stuff” for the job he had been given, basically the job of babysitting Trump & Co.

During his first weeks in the White House, some of Trump’s rhetoric did tone down, and the standard joke when Trump did go on a Twitter binge was that John Kelly must have had the day off.  Things calmed down, it seemed, in the White House as it was reported that Kelly strictly controlled who got in to see Trump and what information Trump was provided.  It seemed that maybe, just maybe, Kelly was bringing a bit of sanity to the administration, though some within the administration were grumbling.

But in recent days, I have had cause to re-examine my opinion and it has changed. Something happened somewhere along the line to convince Kelly to toe the party line, to be Trump’s ‘yes-man’ and to take his turn licking Trump’s boots along with the rest of the bunch.  Where did it begin?  It began when Trump, without Kelly’s prior knowledge, politicized the death of Kelly’s son who died in combat in 2010.  Trump himself had, rightly, come under intense criticism for ignoring the deaths of four Green Berets in Niger on October 4th. As is his way, rather than address the criticism, he deflected and said (untruthfully) that none of his predecessors had even called families of fallen soldiers.  As an example, he noted that President Obama had not called General Kelly to offer condolences for his son’s death.

I expected Kelly, who has kept that part of his life very private, to be enraged at the disrespect Trump had shown, but if he was, he hid it well. And then came Trump’s disastrous call to Myeshia Johnson, widow of La David Johnson, one of the four slain soldiers.  The contents of the call should not be in dispute, as Ms. Johnson was in a car with four other people and the call was put on speakerphone.  One of those four people was congresswoman, Frederica S. Wilson of Florida, a friend of the Johnson family.  She confirmed  what Ms. Johnson told the press, that Trump could not remember La David’s name and referred to him instead as “your guy”, and that he said Johnson ‘knew what he signed up for’, but that he supposed it hurt anyway.  Such compassion, eh?

Kelly jumped to Trump’s defense and condemned Representative Wilson, going into attack mode.  He has learned from Trump, obviously. Kelly told reporters that Wilson took credit for securing the funding for the building during a dedication in 2015. The building was named for two slain FBI agents. A video of the event was soon published proving Kelly wrong, but he did not acknowledge his error nor apologize.  As recently as yesterday, he still refuses to tender an apology,

And now comes the straw that is breaking this camel’s back.

Kelly, appeared visibly pained while Trump spoke in August of the “very fine people” on both sides of white nationalist demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia.  We all thought it was because he disapproved of Trump’s racist remarks and was aggrieved that he could not stop him.  But on the other hand, perhaps he simply had a headache.

During an interview on Monday, for no apparent reason, Kelly launched into a diatribe that made no sense and seemed to show a side of Kelly that we had not seen before, an ignorant and largely racist side.

“I would tell you that Robert E. Lee was an honorable man. He was a man that gave up his country to fight for his state, which 150 years ago was more important than country. It was always loyalty to state first back in those days. Now it’s different today. But the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War, and men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had them make their stand.”

Inability to compromise?  The Civil War was about southern states refusing to give up their “right” to own other human beings, slaves.  What compromise could be had?  Oh, you can keep half of your slaves?  Or, you can keep your slaves, but you can only beat them on Wednesdays?  C’mon, Mr. Kelly, compromise was not an option.  The long and short of it is that I am certain John Kelly is smart enough to know the lie in his words, to know the history behind the Civil War, but he has signed onto the alternative-facts bandwagon aka Kellyanne Conway, and there can likely be no turning back now.

I wanted to respect John Kelly.  I had great hopes that he could at last bring some order out of the chaos that defines the White House under the Trump administration.  He was supposed to be the adult in the room.  As Samantha Bee said earlier, “John Kelly, you were supposed to be the one we didn’t have to watch like a hawk. You were supposed to be the hawk.”

I do not know why this man who had earned the respect of many through his long years of service even consented to take the job in the White House.  But whatever his reasons, he is now a part of the Trump Circus Train, and I no longer respect him, no longer expect great things.  Just another sideshow. He was our last best hope that someone could rein in Trump and at least keep him from making a fatal blunder.  That hope is now dashed.