Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 27, 2015

Television news, whether local or national network, could be entitled Trivial Pursuit. Few of the reports are of much importance and, when one is included, such as the rash of forest fires or the latest shooting, the obvious underlying issues usually are ignored. It’s no wonder that voters are uninformed. On ABC, the latest fad is to make the reports sound like newspaper headlines, devoid of verbs, laden with gerunds. The local NBC outlet has lowered credibility and seriousness still further by hiring anchors who appear to be barely out of their teens. Much of local the broadcasts is given over to the weather, where forecasts mimic precision by giving us one or two degree variations for adjacent communities.
Speaking of voters, we in King County have received "Official Primary and Special Election Ballots." We are to vote for the County Director of Elections and two Port Commissioner positions. Why the first is an elective office is beyond me. It may be necessary to elect Port Commissioners, but the seriousness with which that process is taken is illustrated by the presence of Goodspaceguy in the race for Position 2. Goodspaceguy is an actual person who has run under that alias often enough — for various offices, unsuccessfully — to be described on Wikipedia as "a perennial candidate." It adds: "He is a self-described extraterrestrial life", who has introduced himself as coming from "Phoebe, one of Saturn's many moons." Having such a person on the ballot is a bit strange, but then Donald Trump is running for the presidency.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

July 5, 2015
The Confederate flag long has been overdue for removal, from the culture as well as from flag poles. It finally took a mass murder of African-Americans in a church, by a young racist who had posed with Confederate flags, to set off a wave of protest. The revulsion against the flag began with photos of the South Carolina capitol showing American and state flags at half-staff, but the rebel flag at full height. Once begun, it spread with surprising speed, catching some Republican politicians off guard, requiring a hurried reversal of position. 
The reason — excuse — for flying the Confederate flag has been that it symbolizes Southern pride, culture or history, or that it honors confederate war veterans. Always left out is that the Southern culture in question was based on slavery, and that secession, creation of the Confederacy and the Civil War grew out of the determination to preserve and extend it. Ordinances or declarations of secession in several states expressly referred to slavery as the issue. Here is an excerpt from the Declaration of the Causes which Impel the State of Texas to Secede from the Federal Union:
We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable.
That . . . the servitude of the African race . . . is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, . . . while the destruction of the existing relations between the two races, as advocated by our sectional enemies, would bring inevitable calamities upon both and desolation upon the fifteen slave-holding states.
South Carolina, in its Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union, complained that fugitive slaves were not being returned and that northern states "have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign [62] the property of the citizens of other States."[63]
The Constitution of the Confederate States of America protected slavery:
No. . . law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed. [Article 1, §9, ¶4]
The Confederate States may acquire new territory. . . . In all such territory the institution of negro slavery, as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected by Congress and by the Territorial government; . . . [Article 4, §3, ¶3]
The Confederate flag is a symbol of racism, and should be taken down everywhere.

The other aspect of culture represented by the Confederate flag is rebellion, in its extreme form secession. Consider The League of the South, the web site of which features the Confederate flag. An article by its president, J. Michael Hill, declares that secession is "As American As Apple Pie!" and offers ten reasons to secede, including (odd syntax in the original):
1. The U. S. government is an organized criminal enterprise, secession is the only way to return to legitimate government . . .
3. The South's unique history and culture is worth protecting . . .
6. Third World immigration into the South, secession removes the federal government's interference and lack of performance . . . .[64] 
The unique history and culture include the notion that the South belongs to "Anglo-Celtic" people. The threat to that dominance (from immigration) is called "Southern demographic displacement."

Hill also wrote this, in February of this year: "This 14th of April will mark the 150th anniversary of John Wilkes Booth’s execution of the tyrant Abraham Lincoln. . . . A century and a half after the fact, The League of the South thanks Mr. Booth for his service to the South and to humanity."[65]  Assassination as Southern pride.
Finally, to underscore the League’s devotion to the symbol of rebellion, separatism and racism, Hill offered this on June 19, two days after the Charleston mass murder:
Everywhere leftists are calling for the removal of the Confederate battle flag, especially at the State House in Columbia, SC.
We in The League of the South agree that a flag should be taken down. Not the most recognizable historic flag of the South but the flag of our occupiers for the last 150 years. [indicating the American flag]
Among its sins, the national flag represents "open borders and Third World immigration," but in "sharp contrast, our beautiful battle flag . . . stands for the heroic effort our people made 150 years ago to avoid the fate were [sic] are experiencing today.[66]     

The pro-flag arguments invoke states’ rights or, more defiantly, "state sovereignty." Near the beginning of a long and rather muddled article on The New American,[67] the author quoted the NAACP Southeast Regional Director Earl Shinhoster:
. . . Shinhoster referred to the Confederate flag as an "odius [sic] symbol of a bygone era." But Shinhoster hit the nail on the head when he identified the issue behind the flag: "It represents state sovereignty, state rights, a rejection or resistance to federal control, and it has an adverse effect on basic issues of human need."
Somehow the last phrase got lost in the ensuing discussion. Instead the focus was on sovereignty.
One thing is certain: Respect for the heritage and traditions of the South is still strong. But the greatest Southern tradition of all is not the Confederate battle flag, but the battle for state sovereignty that was fought under it.
That battle is far from over and the participants in the fight have no intention of striking their colors until constitutionally limited government is restored. [68]
He has forgotten that, when it suited the Southern desire to protect slavery, the South invoked federal enforcement of federal law, in the form of the Fugitive Slave Act, and denounced northern states which interfered with it. States’ rights, like other political ideologies, is a flexible instrument.

However, as the author says, the battle for state sovereignty continues, notably among the nullifiers, who continue to pretend that it is a legitimate theory despite its sullied history, illogic and lack of constitutional basis.
The day after the killings, President Obama made brief statement which addressed the racial element of the crime:
The fact that this took place in a black church obviously also raises questions about a dark part of our history. This is not the first time that black churches have been attacked. And we know that hatred across races and faiths pose a particular threat to our democracy and our ideals.
The "also" in the first sentence refers to his comment on another issue unavoidably raised by the murders:
[O]nce again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun. . . .
. . . At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency. And it is in our power to do something about it. I say that recognizing the politics in this town foreclose a lot of those avenues right now. But it would be wrong for us not to acknowledge it. And at some point it’s going to be important for the American people to come to grips with it, and for us to be able to shift how we think about the issue of gun violence collectively.[69] 
In broadcasting clips of his remarks, ABC Nightly News cut off the entire reference to guns; NBC omitted the part about doing something. Perhaps those networks agree with Fox, whose White House reporter wondered why anyone would be interested: "Why are people getting pulled into other issues like gun control right now in the wake of this tragedy and not talking about the economy, which is what matters most to people?"[70] No wonder it remains an unresolved, unaddressed issue.
It will remain so if certain of the Republican candidates become president. On June 24, Scott Walker signed a bill eliminating Wisconsin’s 48-hour waiting period for handgun purchases.[71]  Within days after the murders, during a campaign swing in Iowa, Ted Cruz underscored his reactionary views and his basic stupidity by offering up these comments:
— "You know the great thing about the state of Iowa is, I'm pretty sure you all define gun control the same way we do in Texas -- hitting what you aim at."
— "There's a famous saying, praise the Lord and pass the ammunition. There is a reason why the Second Amendment is right after the First."
— "It's sad to see the Democrats take a horrific crime and try to use it as an excuse, not to go after people with serious mental illness or people who are repeat felons or criminals, but instead try to use it as an excuse to take away Second Amendment rights of law abiding citizens."[72] 
Mike Huckabee suggested that the congregation should have been packing heat.
In February, South Carolina Governor Haley signed a law allowing those with concealed carry permits to bring their guns into bars. She favored another proposal to eliminate the permit requirement entirely and allow open carry in the state. "Criminals are dangerous, and I think that every resident should be allowed to protect themselves from criminals."[73]  And now? She ducked a question about guns: "Any time there’s a traumatic situation, people want something to blame. They always want something to go after."[74]
The mayor of Charleston is more intelligent: "It is insane: the number of guns, and the ease of guns in America. . . . It's a small -- really small group, well-funded -- that keeps this issue from being appropriately addressed."[75]  He also summed up Huckabee’s suggestion: "That is so nutty I can’t even talk. It’s crazy. Absolutely crazy."[76]
However, as if to illustrate how hopeless the situation is, the Charleston Post and Courier slapped a sticky-note ad for a gun shop on some of its papers on June 18, next to a headline about the shooting.[77]


62.An archaic term meaning "to remove or carry away to a distance, especially so as to conceal."
63. Both quotes from http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/primarysources/declarationofcauses. html

http://dixienet.org/65. http://leagueofthesouth.com/honoring-john-wilkes-booth569/
66. http://leagueofthesouth.com/take-it-down-and-keep-it-flying/
67. Published by "American Opinion Publishing, a wholly owned subsidiary of The John Birch Society."
68. http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/item/21146-the-confederate-flag-battle
69. http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/obama-statement-charleston-shooting-gun
70. http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/06/23/fox-news-ed-henry-why-are-americans-getting-pul/204107
71. http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/scott-walker-ends-waiting-times-gun-purchases
72. http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/ted-cruz-gun-control-joke
73. http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2014/02/12/3282951/south-carolina-governor-eliminate-permits-carrying-guns-public/
74. http://crooksandliars.com/2015/06/gov-nikki-haley-hey-whats-got-do-gun-laws
75. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/21/joseph-riley-gun-control_n_7631162.html?utm_hp_ref=politics
76. http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/joseph-riley-mike-huckabee-charleston-guns
77. http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/courier-post-gun-ad-apology  
Posts © 2011-2012 by Gerald G. Day