Why was Fred Phelps disbarred?

Friday, April 30, 2010

I knew he was disbarred, but never heard the reasons. I always assumed it was because he was an obnoxious asshole. The decisions can be found at State v. Phelps, 598 P.2d 180 (Kan. 1979) and In re Phelps, 459 P.2d 172 (Kan. 1969). From the first one:

Phelps has, by his conduct, shown that he does not have the proper concept of the obligations devolving upon an attorney requiring him to deal fairly and honorably with his clients, and enjoining him to demean himself in such manner as not to bring embarrassment to nor discredit upon his profession.

(h/t to Volokh)

I believe that one or more of his kids still practice law, but I wasn't able to find anything on them.


We Suck,...

... so go over to Streak's or Rickey's instead.

Have a good weekend.


Imagine if the Tea Party Was Black

Monday, April 26, 2010

I have seen this reposted at a few places including over at Streak's blog and maybe originally found here. I think he has a point.

Imagine if the Tea Party Was Black - Tim Wise

Let’s play a game, shall we? The name of the game is called “Imagine.” The way it’s played is simple: we’ll envision recent happenings in the news, but then change them up a bit. Instead of envisioning white people as the main actors in the scenes we’ll conjure – the ones who are driving the action – we’ll envision black folks or other people of color instead. The object of the game is to imagine the public reaction to the events or incidents, if the main actors were of color, rather than white. Whoever gains the most insight into the workings of race in America, at the end of the game, wins.

So let’s begin.

Imagine that hundreds of black protesters were to descend upon Washington DC and Northern Virginia, just a few miles from the Capitol and White House, armed with AK-47s, assorted handguns, and ammunition. And imagine that some of these protesters —the black protesters — spoke of the need for political revolution, and possibly even armed conflict in the event that laws they didn’t like were enforced by the government? Would these protester — these black protesters with guns — be seen as brave defenders of the Second Amendment, or would they be viewed by most whites as a danger to the republic? What if they were Arab-Americans? Because, after all, that’s what happened recently when white gun enthusiasts descended upon the nation’s capital, arms in hand, and verbally announced their readiness to make war on the country’s political leaders if the need arose.

Imagine that white members of Congress, while walking to work, were surrounded by thousands of angry black people, one of whom proceeded to spit on one of those congressmen for not voting the way the black demonstrators desired. Would the protesters be seen as merely patriotic Americans voicing their opinions, or as an angry, potentially violent, and even insurrectionary mob? After all, this is what white Tea Party protesters did recently in Washington.

Imagine that a rap artist were to say, in reference to a white president: “He’s a piece of shit and I told him to suck on my machine gun.” Because that’s what rocker Ted Nugent said recently about President Obama.

Imagine that a prominent mainstream black political commentator had long employed an overt bigot as Executive Director of his organization, and that this bigot regularly participated in black separatist conferences, and once assaulted a white person while calling them by a racial slur. When that prominent black commentator and his sister — who also works for the organization — defended the bigot as a good guy who was misunderstood and “going through a tough time in his life” would anyone accept their excuse-making? Would that commentator still have a place on a mainstream network? Because that’s what happened in the real world, when Pat Buchanan employed as Executive Director of his group, America’s Cause, a blatant racist who did all these things, or at least their white equivalents: attending white separatist conferences and attacking a black woman while calling her the n-word.

Imagine that a black radio host were to suggest that the only way to get promoted in the administration of a white president is by “hating black people,” or that a prominent white person had only endorsed a white presidential candidate as an act of racial bonding, or blamed a white president for a fight on a school bus in which a black kid was jumped by two white kids, or said that he wouldn’t want to kill all conservatives, but rather, would like to leave just enough—“living fossils” as he called them—“so we will never forget what these people stood for.” After all, these are things that Rush Limbaugh has said, about Barack Obama’s administration, Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama, a fight on a school bus in Belleville, Illinois in which two black kids beat up a white kid, and about liberals, generally.

Imagine that a black pastor, formerly a member of the U.S. military, were to declare, as part of his opposition to a white president’s policies, that he was ready to “suit up, get my gun, go to Washington, and do what they trained me to do.” This is, after all, what Pastor Stan Craig said recently at a Tea Party rally in Greenville, South Carolina.

Imagine a black radio talk show host gleefully predicting a revolution by people of color if the government continues to be dominated by the rich white men who have been “destroying” the country, or if said radio personality were to call Christians or Jews non-humans, or say that when it came to conservatives, the best solution would be to “hang ‘em high.” And what would happen to any congressional representative who praised that commentator for “speaking common sense” and likened his hate talk to “American values?” After all, those are among the things said by radio host and best-selling author Michael Savage, predicting white revolution in the face of multiculturalism, or said by Savage about Muslims and liberals, respectively. And it was Congressman Culbertson, from Texas, who praised Savage in that way, despite his hateful rhetoric.

Imagine a black political commentator suggesting that the only thing the guy who flew his plane into the Austin, Texas IRS building did wrong was not blowing up Fox News instead. This is, after all, what Anne Coulter said about Tim McVeigh, when she noted that his only mistake was not blowing up the New York Times.

Imagine that a popular black liberal website posted comments about the daughter of a white president, calling her “typical redneck trash,” or a “whore” whose mother entertains her by “making monkey sounds.” After all that’s comparable to what conservatives posted about Malia Obama on freerepublic.com last year, when they referred to her as “ghetto trash.”

Imagine that black protesters at a large political rally were walking around with signs calling for the lynching of their congressional enemies. Because that’s what white conservatives did last year, in reference to Democratic party leaders in Congress.

In other words, imagine that even one-third of the anger and vitriol currently being hurled at President Obama, by folks who are almost exclusively white, were being aimed, instead, at a white president, by people of color. How many whites viewing the
anger, the hatred, the contempt for that white president would then wax eloquent about free speech, and the glories of democracy? And how many would be calling for further crackdowns on thuggish behavior, and investigations into the radical agendas of those same people of color?

To ask any of these questions is to answer them. Protest is only seen as fundamentally American when those who have long had the luxury of seeing themselves as prototypically American engage in it. When the dangerous and dark “other” does so, however, it isn’t viewed as normal or natural, let alone patriotic. Which is why Rush Limbaugh could say, this past week, that the Tea Parties are the first time since the Civil War that ordinary, common Americans stood up for their rights: a statement that erases the normalcy and “American-ness” of blacks in the civil rights struggle, not to mention women in the fight for suffrage and equality, working people in the fight for better working conditions, and LGBT folks as they struggle to be treated as full and equal human beings.

And this, my friends, is what white privilege is all about. The ability to threaten others, to engage in violent and incendiary rhetoric without consequence, to be viewed as patriotic and normal no matter what you do, and never to be feared and despised as people of color would be, if they tried to get away with half the shit we do, on a daily basis.

More on the the author can be found here.


The Nerdery

I like tabletop games. I like video games. I talk with undue passion about the intricacies of the beer brewing process. I am a nerd.

Some of my nerdly passions also include reading and discussing all things physics; black holes, baby universes, time travel and the like. Thus, I was thrilled when The Discovery Channel advertised that they are running a mini-series by Stephen Hawking. Aptly titled "Into The Universe with Stephen Hawking", the series gives Hawking a free hand to discuss what comes into that big brain of his from the origin of the Universe to alien life.

The show premiered last night. I DVR'ed it on hi-def, so I can't wait to crack into it tonight when I get home from my golf league. I love Hawking, I've read all his books, and I love the subject matter. Nothing stimulates my brain more than thinking about where we've been, where we came from and where we're going. And this, by all accounts, is the series that really delivers.



Thursday, April 22, 2010

My good friend Greg is an enabler; every time he goes on a trip, he returns with several beers for me to try that neither of us have heard of. Some are horrendous (more on that in a future post; "Beers I Have Endured" is a feature I may bring to the blog), most are great and some are simply amazing. Greg is my favorite enabler.

While at his house last night, Greg presented me with a beer that could have been worrisome were it not for the fact that I'll try anything: the UK's Wells Brewery Banana Bread Ale.
(yes, that's the bottle for the pic on a table that includes my own tabletop gaming passion, Warmachine...not all dorks drink Mountain Dew all night; some of us drink beer)

My brain screamed out in terror: another fruit beer! Say it ain't so! From Cerise to Apricot Ale, fruit beers, with a few exceptions, tend to resemble alco-pops and wine spritzers more than fine balances between fruit and beer (Dogfish Head's Aprihop, Magic Hat's #9 and Unibroue's Ephemere are some of my favorite exceptions to that rule; Pyramid's Aprihop, Hilton Head's Blueberry Wheat and AB's Wild Blue Blueberry Lager are the worst adherents). But being of warped mind and tolerant body, I decided to dive in and give it a shot.

I am glad I did.

Wells offering pours like a loaf of homemade banana bread; golden brown, capped in a creamy fluff. Carbonation like the flecks of banana throughout. Lacing down the sides of the glass like the bits of sticky sweetness that hangs on to the pan. Looked tantalizing enough, and thankfully, none of that electric purple color you get in other fruit beers. Subtle like a Brit, this beer.

Blindfold me and I would swear this was a slice of banana bread. Banana taffy, sticky sweet, reaches out of the glass first. The beer bottle claims that organic bananas are used in every batch and I don't doubt it. Right behind that is caramel-toffee from lovely malts and even a walnut aroma from the interplay between malt and yeast. Not much in the way of beery aromas; the bananas dominate. But traditional British-style bready aromas work wonderfully with the bananas to fool any nose into convincing its accompanying palate into expecting bread instead of beer.

And fooled my palate was. Big bold banana taste, slight caramel, roasted nuts and toffee fill out the flavors in this beer. The banana is the star without a doubt. Maybe it's that bananas are more subtle and less powerfully-sweet (like berries or cherries can be), but I found that is wasn't overpowering. Like the aroma, my tongue swore (as it too often does) that this wasn't a beer at all.

My only criticism of this beer is that it is a bit of a one-trick pony; it's all banana bread and very little beer. It lacks the complexity of a truly world-class fruit beer. As a novelty, though, it's really well-done and I'd drink more than one on a night; it's not every day you drink a beer that makes you swear it's something else. If you don't like bananas or banana bread, I sure hoped you stopped reading at the title of the post! But if you want to try a nicely done, unique beer, give Banana Bread Ale a shot. What it lacks in intricacy it makes up for in tastes we all love from grandma's kitchen. In Yorkshire.


But...But...Both Sides Have Their Nutters!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

If we just look hard enough, I am sure we will find that left-wing hippies say stuff just as bad as this too.


Left-Handed Behavior

Friday, April 16, 2010

About 3 years ago, I tried and failed miserably at brewing a milk stout. By adding lactose, a milk-derived sugar, a beer gains a creamy feel and a residual sugary sweetness (lactose is unfermentable by beer yeast). On an especially roasty stout, the addition of lactose gives a coffee-and-cream impression that is just astounding when done right. This is what I failed to do!

That said, a brewery that has been quite successful at a milk stout is the Left Hand Brewing Company about 30 miles outside of Denver, CO, in the town of Longmont. I am generally quite happy with many of their selections, but my favorite one overall is their delicious Milk Stout. I don't think I'm alone in my enjoyment of their offering; they won the World Beer Cup in 2006 and 2008 for this delicious selection.

To the tasting.

Oh look! Another really dark beer in my fridge! Unsurprisingly, Left Hand Milk Stout pours a brown dark enough to be mistaken for black in my pint glass. Even in my basement's modest lighting, I saw lovely ruby-red highlights in the beer around the edges of the brown-black concoction. It was capped with a thick finger of creamy cappuccino foam. The beer as a whole could have been a glass of high-end latte as much as a fine beer. And as I drank, it left rivulets of lovely lace down the sides of my glass; sticky-sweet reminders of my too-quick progress through this pint!

So the beer looks, so the beer smells. The first aroma that hit my nose are coffee and cream. Left Hand gave me a big, bold roasted malt character topped with unmistakable sweet cream and chocolate. The sweetness didn't compete with the generous roasted character as much as cut it just enough to not be overwhelming. The aromas finished chocolaty and even just a little bready. But my nose can only play with beer for so long before my mouth wants a piece of the action (was that maybe a little dirty?).

While the roasted-coffee aromas played the dominant role on the nose, it's the cream and chocolate that play prominently on the taste. Beautiful sweet cream and chocolate malt play on top of the roasted coffee flavor like a cappuccino sprinkled with dark chocolate. Left Hand Milk Stout becomes a beery mocha latte; my tongue rejoices in its two favorite drinks becoming one! The stout finishes with hints of bready yeast and malts and a bitterness that comes from dark roasted malts more than from hops. I dare say that I didn't really detect much in the way of hops (there must be some in there somewhere!), but I didn't want them and I didn't miss them. The bitterness is like the kind you get from coffee; it comes from the roast and not some other foreign ingredient.

The silky, milky creaminess added a ton of body to this beer, making it borderline heavy, but without a heavy impression. Thick and creamy, not heavy and syrupy. The higher carbonation in this stout backs the body off just enough that this beer becomes easily sessionable without being too filling.

Everything in this beer just works right. Nothing seems out of balance and the shift from coffee aroma to creamy-sweet taste is pleasant enough that people hesitant to drink "dark beer" actually enjoy this one because it's not a huge challenge to the taste buds. Even novice beer drinkers are impressed with Left Hand Milk Stout's recognizable flavors and aromas. Pro drinkers (you know, everyone on this blog) love it for its complexity and adherence to a classic British style of beer so "nutritious" that it was historically given to nursing mothers. It has milk in it after all!


Last Word on Virginia

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Via Facebook, I was forwarded a note from a guy named Tim Wise. He is a prominent anti-racist author and speaker (check his web site for his bio).

Rather than post excerpts from his Facebook note, since you can't link to the whole thing, I will post it in its entirety. It was a worthwhile read and provided some insight, better-worded than any tirade I can conceive, about why the Virginian claim to Confederate Day is really horrible beyond the obvious.

Here it is (he makes several links in his post; I have tried to recreate those links in the text below):

Virginia is for Liars: Neo-Confederate Mythology, Racist Realities and Genuine Southern Heroes
Today at 12:42pm
Virginia is For Liars:
Neo-Confederate Mythology, Racist Realities and Genuine Southern Heroes
By Tim Wise
April 13, 2010

Am I the only one who finds it a bit too coincidental that in the midst of a political season in which conservative whites can be heard screaming that they “want their country back,” the Governor of Virginia should declare April “Confederate History Month?” Or that others would be clamoring for the inclusion of a “Confederate Southern American” identity box on the decennial census forms? I mean, damn, waxing nostalgic for the 1950s is one thing, but the 1860s? Quite telling, to say the least.

And yes, I know, the Governor’s proclamation wasn’t really about desiring to fondly remember everything about those days, and certainly not the less palatable aspects of the period such as the enslavement of African peoples. Slavery, after all, wasn't even mentioned in the proclamation. Rather, Governor Bob McDonnell was just trying to remind all good Virginians (the white ones at least) that they should deign to honor their ancestors who fought so valiantly for a cause they believed in. That the cause in question was, well, ya know, slavery, is but a minor quibble, which "doesn't matter for diddly," in the immortal words of self-proclaimed "fat redneck," and Governor of Mississippi, Haley Barbour.

For this last sentence--specifically the part where I note the centrality of slavery to the southern cause--I can now expect to receive literally hundreds of angry and rambling e-mails from neo-Confederates insisting that I have committed a “heritage offense.” To suggest that the Confederacy's purpose was in any way the maintenance of slavery is, to these folks, a vicious and untrue calumny, placed upon the heads of their brave forefathers unjustly by leftists and liberals, beholden to Yankee propaganda, and unwilling to see the finer nuances of antebellum ideology.

But aside from the fact that so-called Yankees are perfectly capable of doing first-rate historical research on the period and discerning the true causes of the North/South conflict at the time, the fact is, I am no such breed of animal. I am a southerner, and most of my family has been in the South, going back at least 250 years, and in some cases, all the way back to the Virginia of the 1630s. In other words Bubba, and as Flo used to say on that TV show, Alice, you can “kiss my grits.”

Several of my family members served the Confederacy in battle. Whether or not they understood the battle to be about slavery (and let’s not kid ourselves, most all southerners at the time knew full well that maintaining the institution of enslavement was the point of their breakaway government), their leaders made clear that this was the very purpose of the confederacy. So, if we are to remember history, we must surely begin with this fact: that whatever sacrifices confederate soldiers made, they made them for an underlying mission that was evil; a mission that cannot be sanitized, scrubbed clean of all inculpatory evidence, and turned into something valiant and worthy of positive commemoration.

What the Confederacy Was Not About

To suggest, as the neo-confederates do that the seceding states left the Union to preserve "state's rights" as a principle--separate and apart from the right to maintain slavery in those states, specifically--is absurd. After all, the rights that southern leaders felt were being impeded were specifically those rights tied to the maintenance of the slave system, and its extension into new territories in the West, recently added to the nation as a result of the war with Mexico. Because the Republican Party and Lincoln were "free soilers"--dedicated to banning slavery in the new territories--the slaveocracies of the South were convinced that their economic systems would be crippled over time, as they became outvoted in the Congress, and as the nation moved to a free labor system, as opposed to one deeply reliant on enslavement.

That the only "state's rights" being fought for were the rights of said states to operate a slave system was attested to by southern leaders themselves. In December of 1860, Alabama sent commissioners to the other slave states to advocate for their secession. One of the commissioners was Stephen Hale, whose job was to persuade Kentucky to leave the Union. In his letter to the Governor of Kentucky, he asked and answered the question as to which "state's rights" were being violated by the North.

"…what rights have been denied, what wrongs have been done, or threatened to be done, of which the Southern states, or the people of the Southern states, can complain?" he asked. In the very next paragraph he offered the answer, clearly and unmistakably:

"African slavery has not only become one of the fixed domestic institutions of the Southern states, but forms an important element of their political power, and constitutes the most valuable species of their property…forming, in fact, the basis upon which rests the prosperity and wealth of most of these states…It is upon this gigantic interest, this peculiar institution of the South, that the Northern states and their people have been waging an unrelenting and fanatical war for the last quarter of a century. An institution with which is bound up, not only the wealth and prosperity of the Southern people, but their very existence as a political community…They attack us through their literature, in their schools, from the hustings, in their legislative halls, through the public press…to strike down the rights of the Southern slave-holder, and override every barrier which the Constitution has erected for his protection."

So too, the conflict was not about trade and tariff issues, as often claimed by the revisionists. Although the South had long opposed high tariffs on goods from England--which had a disproportionate impact on the South because they raised the cost of goods the region needed and which were not locally produced, and also made it more costly for Britain to purchase southern cotton--by the time of secession, the tariffs had been cut dramatically. Alexander Stephens, who would become Vice-President of the Confederacy noted as much when he spoke to the Georgia legislature in 1860, explaining:

"The tariff no longer distracts the public councils. Reason has triumphed...The present tariff was voted for by Massachusetts and South Carolina. The lion and the lamb lay down together--every man in the Senate and the House from Massachusetts and South Carolina, I think, voted for it…(the duties) were made just as low as Southern men asked them to be, and those are the rates they are now at."

The fact is, the worst of all tariffs ever imposed--known in popular lore as the Tariff of Abominations--had been most harshly enforced during the Presidency of Andrew Jackson, a Southerner. Yet no state save South Carolina ever threatened secession over this "mother of all tariffs," suggesting that it alone (or others like it, even less harsh) would hardly have been a significant contributor to the rupture of 1860-1861.

Wearing Their Racism On Their Sleeve: The Real Reason for Secession

Not state's rights, not tariffs, but slavery and the desire to maintain and extend its reach was the reason for southern secession, for the creation of this putrid confederacy the Governor of Virginia (and the legislatures of several other southern states) would have us commemorate. CSA Vice-President Stephens explained as much in crystal clear detail when he noted that the Confederate government's "foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and moral condition."

In this address, delivered in Savannah in the spring of 1861, Stephens went on to distinguish the centrality of racism and slavery in the South, from that of all past governmental systems, including the United States:

"This, our newer Government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth. Those at the North...assume that the negro is equal, and hence conclude that he is entitled to equal privileges and rights, with the white man. If their premises were correct, their conclusions would be logical and just; but their premises being wrong, their whole argument fails."

Then in April, 1861, after Virginia lawmakers had voted 2-1 against secession, Stephens traveled to Richmond to implore the state's leaders to change their minds and join the confederacy. In order to convince them, Stephens made what he thought would be his most persuasive pitch, laying out the case for dissolving the union in blatantly racist terms. He noted:

"One good and wise feature in our new and revised Constitution is that we have put to rest the vexed question of slavery forever…On this subject, from which sprung the immediate cause of our late troubles and threatened dangers, you will indulge me in a few remarks as not irrelevant to the occasion."

He went on to articulate the principle of white supremacy as being central to the ideology of the Confederate government:

"As a race, the African is inferior to the white man. Subordination to the white man is his normal condition. He is not equal by nature, and cannot be made so by human laws or human institutions. Our system, therefore, so far as regards this inferior race, rests upon this great immutable law of nature. It is founded not upon wrong or injustice, but upon the eternal fitness of things. Hence, its harmonious working for the benefit and advantage of both…The great truth, I repeat, upon which our system rests, is the inferiority of the African. The enemies of our institutions ignore this truth. They set out with the assumption that the races are equal…hence, so much misapplied sympathy for fancied wrongs and sufferings. These wrongs and sufferings exist only in their heated imaginations. There can be no wrong where there is no violation of nature's laws…It is the fanatics of the North, who are warring against the decrees of God Almighty, in their attempts to make things equal which he made unequal."

Only after Stephens's presentation, in which racial supremacy was the clear and singular rallying cry, did Virginia opt to secede, suggesting that their decision was not merely in response to a perceived federal invasion of the South, or state sovereignty in the abstract, but because of the perception that white supremacy and racism were imperiled. One wonders if Governor McDonnell will require that Virginians reflect upon this aspect of their role in the confederacy: namely, that only after being whipped into a racist fervor by appeals to white supremacy did the state's lawmakers even seek to join the breakaway government in the first place.

Additionally, we know that secession and the formation of the Confederate system was about the desire to maintain enslavement of blacks, because of the proclamations made by various leaders of the southern states at the time. Four states issued explicit "Declarations of Causes" for their secession, and in each case their stated reasons specifically spoke to the fear that the slave system upon which they had grown dependent was imperiled. Mississippi, for instance, listed its grievances with the North as follows: the failure to uphold the Fugitive Slave laws, enticing of slaves to run away, the desire to prohibit slavery in the territories, the desire to exclude new slave states from the union, and the desire, ultimately to abolish slavery in all the Union.

When South Carolina's legislature voted for secession, it reported out two documents from its convention. The first was a Declaration of Causes, which spoke exclusively about the increasing "hostility" of the Northern states to the institution of slavery. The second was an address to the other slaveholding states, written by Robert Barnwell Rhett.

In Rhett's document – an exhortation to the other slave states to secede – he argued:

"The fairest portions of the world have been turned into wildernesses, and the most civilized and prosperous communities have been impoverished and ruined by Anti-Slavery fanaticism. The people of the North have not left us in doubt as to their designs and policy…they have elected as the exponent of their policy one who has openly declared that all the States of the United States must be made Free States or Slave States…if African slavery in the Southern States be the evil their political combinations affirm it to be, the requisitions of an inexorable logic must lead them to emancipation. If it is right to preclude or abolish slavery in a territory, why should it be allowed to remain in the States?"

And when Alabama Commissioner Stephen Hale wrote to the governor of Kentucky in late 1860, after Lincoln's election but before his inauguration, seeking to persuade him to leave the union he argued similarly:

"The Federal Government has failed to protect the rights and property of the citizens of the South, and is about to pass into the hands of a party pledged for the destruction not only of their rights and property, but…the heaven-ordained superiority of the white over the black race…Will the South give up the institution of slavery, and consent that her citizens be stripped of their property, her civilization destroyed, the whole land laid waste by fire and sword? It is impossible; she cannot, she will not…"

Hale's fanatical commitment to the notions of white supremacy and African savagery was made clear later in the letter when he argued:

"…this new theory of Government (as articulated by the Republicans) destroys the property of the South, lays waste her fields, and inaugurates all the horrors of a San Domingo servile insurrection, consigning her citizens to assassinations, and her wives and daughters to pollution and violation, to gratify the lust of half-civilized Africans…"

He continued by conjuring up the fear that whites and blacks would be made social equals under Republican rule: a fate that, to hear him tell it, was worse than death,

"If the policy of the Republicans is carried out," Hale explained, "according to the programme indicated by the leaders of the party, and the South submits, degradation and ruin must overwhelm alike all classes of citizens in the Southern states. The slave-holder and non-slave holder must ultimately share the same fate—all be degraded to a position of equality with free negroes, stand side-by-side with them at the polls, and fraternize in all the social relations of life; or else there will be eternal war of races, desolating the land with blood, and utterly wasting the destroying all the resources of the country. Who can look upon such a picture without a shudder? What Southern man, be he slave-holder or non-slave-holder, can without indignation and horror contemplate the triumph of negro equality, and see his own sons and daughters, in the not distant future, associating with free negroes upon terms of political and social equality, and the white man stripped, by the Heaven-daring hand of fanaticism, of that title to superiority over the black race which God himself has bestowed?"

Hale then explained that a Southern triumph over the Union would allow the maintenance of slavery as its principal (and only mentioned) benefit, and would serve as a bulwark against black barbarism.

"If we triumph…we can…preserve an institution that has done more to civilize and Christianize the heathen than all human agencies beside—and institution beneficial to both races, ameliorating the moral, physical and intellectual condition of the one, and giving wealth and happiness to the other. If we fail, the light of our civilization goes down in blood, our wives and our little ones will be driven from their homes by the light of our own dwellings. The dark pall of barbarism must soon gather over our sunny land, and the scenes of West India emancipation, with its attendant horrors and crimes, be re-enacted in our own land upon a more gigantic scale."

Praising Villains and Ignoring Real S/heroes: The Real "Heritage Violation"

Aside from a mere historical dispute however--and truthfully, as the evidence above indicates, there is no real dispute among actual historians--neo-confederate mythology is disturbing for another reason. Namely, it forever tethers the history of the South to the history of a four-year breakaway government, as if the latter can and should speak for the former. It conflates the South and the Confederacy, and in so doing suggests that this is what makes the region special, and that this is what we in the South should be proud of.

Yet, such a purposeful distortion does historical violence to the memory of the brave southerners who fought against racism, enslavement and the subordination of peoples of color. It suggests that the South is better represented by Jefferson Davis than Martin Luther King Jr. or Fannie Lou Hamer, or any of the leaders of the civil rights struggle, almost all of whom had southern roots that ran every bit as deep--deeper in fact--than most of the folks running around in confederate costumes re-enacting long-ago battles. To venerate the confederacy as a proud part of southern heritage is to elevate it to an equal or even superior position vis-a-vis that struggle, and to suggest that one should be just as proud of an ancestor who believed in owning other human beings as with an ancestor who stood up for freedom and justice.

Even for white southerners we surely can point to better role models than this. Why turn to Johnny Reb for sustenance when we have Moncure Conway, Duncan Smith, William Shreve Bailey, John Fee, Virginia Foster Durr, J Waties Waring, Anne Braden, Bob Zellner, and Mab Segrest from whom we might draw inspiration?

Why identify with an ignoble cause led by bigots when we have genuine heroes and sheroes, black, white and all shades between, whose efforts on behalf of human dignity and equality lasted far longer than the lifespan of that wicked confederacy? Why confirm every unjust stereotype about white southerners--which is what neo-confederate nonsense does--by cleaving to a tradition that is forever bound up with racism and white supremacy? In the greatest irony of confederate revisionism, then, those whose apologetics have come to define the movement, do a great disservice to the many antiracist legends whose stories are as southern as their own, and in the process, do a disservice to the south.

It is time for those of us who are proud southerners to reclaim our land, and our story, and our heritage: a heritage that includes all of us. A heritage that is as much about Tuskegee as the University of Alabama, as much about Jackson State as Ole Miss. A heritage that is as much about Medgar Evers as it is about George Wallace. And a heritage that, if we are prepared to fight for it, can be as much about justice in the present and future, as it was about injustice in the past.

Tim Wise is the author of five books on race and racism. His latest is Colorblind: The Rise of Post-Racial Politics and the Retreat from Racial Equity, from City Lights.



Monday, April 12, 2010

Sometimes, this blog is simply a method of catharsis for me. So if I sometimes get unreasonable, it is most likely because I am venting.

I took Thursday and Friday off from work last week to relax and have some time to myself to recharge my batteries a bit. Friday ended up not working so well. Part of the reason was because my sump pump went out and I didn't notice it until a large portion of my storage area in my basement was flooded. But thanks to some quick thinking, the fact that everything of value is stored in plastic totes on plastic shelves, and the good people at Hedlund Plumbing in Lansing. I was back in working order. A few fans and a couple of dehumidifiers later, my basement is again bone dry. But that was still several hours out of my day off that I had to use to clean up my damn basement.

But that's not my big bitch.

My big bitch was that earlier that day, I went to my local book store to browse and relax and look for some new stuff...and I came across this piece of shit called How Evil Works by David Kupelian. At first, it looked interesting. Then I read the back cover of those who lent their support and thought it was the greatest book evah: Malkin, Hannity, etc.

I spent more than a goodly amount of time reading Kupelian's treatise. Here's what it boils down to: people on the left, and Kupelian's ideas about what they stand for, are evil. There is only one way for America, and those who disagree with that Way (primarily liberals and people whom they sympathize with) aren't just wrong, they're evil.

That makes me NUTS.

This is what it all boils down to: that if one disagrees with the talking heads on the Right, they aren't just "wrong" or "misguided" or even "have a different view." They're actually evil.

This could not be worse for America. I believe that this is why we see bricks through windows. Why Bart Stupak feels like he can't even connect his home phone any more and that he has to retire. Why Pelosi gets death threats. People like Kupelian have whipped people into a froth...and have paionted their political opposites as evil. And what do we good Christians do with evil? Apparently throw bricks through their windows, phone-in threats and the like.

The even bigger problem is that Kupelian doesn't speak for some fringe. Malkin, Beck and Hannity each pull viewers and readers in the millions. Malkin's venomous book spent weeks at the TOP of the NYT Bestseller list for "Culture of Corrpution." That's the real danger; this sentiment is shared among those considered the "mainstream" of conservative thought. This is unconscionable.


Eight Best Thrash Metal Songs

Friday, April 09, 2010

As a child of the 80's I saw the proliferation of Metal and while many were gravitating towards the pop-metal rhythms of bands like Bon Jovi and Poison, I preferred the harder stuff. The writers at Gunaxin came up with a list of 8 Thrash Metal songs you have to hear. While I feel they may have left some deserving choices off and I would have ranked Motorhead higher, I think they did a good job.


An open letter to Tiger Johnny Damon's wife abt Michigan!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

I don't post often, but this just was just hilarious to me so I thought I would throw it out there for consumption.

As you may or may not know, Johnny Damon is the newest Tiger. He signed a huge one-year contract. He previously played for Boston, then the Yankees. Apparently, his wife (who is a debutante of sorts) didn't think Michigan or Detroit were "cosmopolitan" enough and she didn't want him to come here. So the Tigers had to give him more money to placate that problem. So he is here now.

Sean Mann, of Let's Save Michigan, composed an open letter to Johnny Damon's wife. The letter is awesome. But even more awesome are the pictures that Sean created, using several cut-outs of her.

I think this is simply awesome, and wanted to share...

Link Here


10 Media

Monday, April 05, 2010

For most of us, it's spring break time. That means that while I should have more time on my hands to do posts, I am too busy screwing around to otherwise yak on our slice of interweb heaven.

That said, because I am lazy, I am ripping this idea off of Cole's Balloon Juice, which ripped it off of some other post from earlier. The subject? Post 10 books that have influenced you and why.

Cole gets into a piece whereby the Top 10 books claimed by some prominent bloggers are analyzed for their erudition, thoughtfulness, uniqueness, etc (and, not to mention, that some of the claims must be bullshit; nobody as a kid read A Brief History of Time). But we don't worry about here. If Dick and Jane Play Doctor had some influence on you, list it. If you're one of the zillion Nietzsche fanboys, that's great too.

I'd like to add a twist. We're mostly all Gen X-ers here, and are influenced beyond books. Thus, let's modify our list to be "10 Media: 10 books, magazine articles, web sites, radio spots, graphic novels, comics, music or movies that influenced you." If you list 10 lies, that's fine. But if you list the Bible, I may punch you. Or Ayn Rand.

FWIW, in no particular order:

1. The Indiana Jones trilogy. I realize there are now 4 parts, but I do not acknowledge the newest movie as a part of that fine trilogy. Even Temple of Doom is a stretch, but is a good move in its own right. These movies were hugely influential on me as a kid. I not only give them credit for my interest in history, but also for breaking me out of my early elementary school shell. A slender nerd could be touch and get the girl. Playing Indiana Jones (I was Indiana Smith and my buddy was Idaho Monroe) during recess made me the bulk of my friends that I carried all the way through life.

2. Cliche' Alert: The Lord of the Rings trilogy, including The Hobbit, JRR Tolkein. My dad read my The Hobbit as a bed-time book in the 1st grade and I fell in love with the drama, the genre, and Tolkein's command of the English language (something I have a looong way to master...just read this blog). Pictures came alive in my head because of it, and that was well before I understood the social underpinnings and WWI/II influenecs the books had on Tolkein, which makes them only the richer.

3. The Universe in a Nutshell, Stephen Hawking. I read this about 6 years ago, and have re-read it several times since. While still a difficult read, it put into one single book all of the various ideas about how the universe works and where it came from and where it's going. Thank heavens it had graphical illustrations on every single page or I would never have grasped it. But I did, and the book continues to influence my thoughts on the subject every day.

4. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams. At once a spoof of and a substantiation of physics, science and technology. Adams is a great, if not prolific, author and his passion for what he thinks about all things science really shines through in this series of books. So much so that I find it contagious and compelling.

5. Excalibur. Despite how long it had been out of theaters, I finally saw this movie in the early 80s when I was in Middle School. It was the first medieval work that had excited me since LOTR and my first foray into D & D. This knightly, chivalrous code got me interested in looking at the military (funny how young minds think; if I can't be an old-time knight, I can be a new one!). The musical score propelled me into an appreciation for classical music (see below). And the action scenes made sure that I would be disappointed by massive-scale sword battle movies until LOTR came out.

6. Bugs Bunny. My sense of humor came from these shows. Later in life, I understood more about some of the jokes and references, and that makes them even funnier. I cannot listen to certain classical music pieces (see above) now without laughing (Barber of Seville, anyone?) and there are things in every-day life that will make me smile because they remind me of this or that Bugs Bunny cartoon. My favorite character is Daffy Duck; defeated by his own ego every single time.

7. Think On These Things, Jiddu Krishnamurti. Krishnamurti lays out a piercing analysis of culture and emotion that I find myself coming back to time and again when I really get down. How do I face myself? How do I face the world? Why is Sean Hannity such a fucking dickhead? It's all in this book and I love it dearly. I am on my 3rd copy, and regularly give people copies to read as well.

8. The Prophet, Khalil Gibran. I cannot even think about this book without getting verklemmt. We love to babble about how language is so limiting in the way we use it to describe our surroundings or emotions. Not so with Khalil Gibran. Not so.

9. The Power of Myth. This is a 6-part miniseries of an interview between Bill Moyers and mythology scholar Joseph Campbell. The first time I saw it was in a philosophy class at Grand Valley. I have seen it a few times since, and listen to it over and over again on my iPod to the point where I have favorite passages memorized as to where they are in the audiobook. I could write a day-long post about why this has influenced me and in what direction but I will sum it up thusly: we are not alone when it comes to dealing with rights of passage and trial. There are those who have gone there before us and they tell us their stories.

10. Dune, Frank Herbert. Herbert just understood human interaction, dogma, treachery, resource wars and philosophy and he put it all in one book. I'd list this book equally with Asimov's Foundation books, just a shade weirder.

On Great Books: I have read a lot of the Great Books, and I even like a few of them! Be they in highschool AP Lit courses, college courses, or just on my own for the sake of reading these things that American Society has agreed are Great Books, I have read or Cliffs Notes'ed a ton of them. But to call them influential, to me, was misleading. Sure they helped me understand how we think in Western Society, or where Democracy comes from or what-have-you. But that's not influential. Nothing in me changed when I read them and they're not something I keep referring to in my life. I read them, I know them, I took fucking essay tests on them, and I am onward. That's not to say nobody can list them or that they will be misleading if they are; this is just my experience. Like most everyone, I read Republic. I just don't list it under "influences."

Whip it out in the comments, or Hell, even just post your own post.


Question of the Day: Placating the Base

Friday, April 02, 2010

Do Liberals Ever Listen to Campaign Promises?

When Obama ran for President he never promised to immediately end the war in Iraq and promised to increase efforts to win in Afghanistan. When he implemented this strategy, liberal seemed shocked.

When Obama ran for President he said he would consider opening up drilling off the coasts of the United States (He changed to this position mid campaign.) When he announced this policy, some liberals (not environmental groups who saw it coming) were shocked.

When Obama ran for President he promised to compromise and work in a bipartisan fashion, but when he does so, liberal get pissed.

Were all these hippies stoned or drunk during the euphoria of 2008? What gives?



Potential Drunks

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