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Commentary Uncategorized

Trump, Autocracy, and Racist Lackeys

How many degrees of separation can we find between the Trump Administration and real live steaming-shit Nazi scum? Just one, it turns out, and you’ve seen him on TV.

160327103842-donald-trump-melania-trump-tweet-stephen-miller-sotu-00000000-large-169.jpgIn a series of interviews and public statements eerily reminiscent of those old shouting-Hitler ragefests from Nazi Pep Rallys in the 1930s, Donald Trump’s “Senior” Advisor Stephen Miller lost his shit and declared, among many things, that “…the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned!” But don’t take it from me, check out this cut from last Sunday’s appearance on Meet The Press and stick around to the end to catch the horrified responses from conservative television personalities Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski.

“Oh my god.” They both say.

Chilling, right? I was shocked at first, but then I stared to do some digging, and it turns out that Miller was college buddies at Duke University with a guy named Richard Spencer, who you might recognize from this video…

If not, then surely this rings a delightful little bell….

It turns out that Miller supported Spencer, who also happens to be married to a notorious Russian propagandist,  in his early work, laying the groundwork for the uncloseted white supremacist organization the National Policy Institute,  who believe stuff like this:
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I know. I mean, holy shit, right?  And yeah, I have a download of this entire speech in case you think I’m cherry picking.
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Is anyone surprised?  Trump’s guru, Miller’s mentor, and Breitbart mastermind Steve Bannon, is a like-minded NPI true believer. And Miller formerly worked for unapologetic racist and new Justice Secretary Jeff Sessions.

Welcome to the New America.

 

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Commentary

Happy Columbus Day!

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Commentary Uncategorized

I’m More Patriotic Than You…

…And I can prove by being the biggest asshole I can be to Olympic Gymnast Gabby Douglas, a young woman I never met, barely heard about, and haven’t thought of since her spectacular performances in the London Olympic Games of 2012.

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In case you’re living under a rock–and if so, I envy you–you at least know who Gabby Douglas is, but just in case, here’s the lowdown: American gymnast, kicked ass in London four years ago, made the team again this year as a bit of a long shot at age 20. Once a darling of the media, and those who are told by the media who is supposed to be our darling, she was replaced this time around with a younger, even better model of cute tiny bouncing jumping twisting tumbling cover-your-eyes-she-could-fall bundle of energy and recast as the somber old fogey grasping for a last chance at glory.

Douglas did well, but not as well as the last time around, and she was clearly disappointed in herself, which the media played up, contrasting her unhappiness with the effervescent ebullience of Simone Biles, the aforementioned new darling. Douglas was good enough to compete for the team award, however, which won a Gold Medal, which should have been the crowning moment for a stupendous week, if it weren’t for a lapse.

During the playing of the American National Anthem. Douglas stood straight-backed and stoic, hands at her side.Uh-oh.
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The internet exploded with angry recriminations as spit-spraying idiots tripped all over themselves in competition to prove how fucking awesomely patriotic they are by trying to administer the biggest symbolic beat down on some kid, by tearing into a young woman whose big crime is a breach of the “flag code.”

I could not help but wonder what mode of torment would sufficiently punish this horrible bitch for her irredeemable transgression. Would tar and feathering be good, or is that too old fashioned? What about burning at the stake?  Or hanging?–but that might remind us of some stuff great-grandpa did on his night rides that we’d rather not talk about. Gunfire seems to be in vogue–but it turned out they were content to rant on twitter like a bunch of petty little children.

It didn’t help that the internet is filled with photos like this, from a previous competition:
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The Twitter noise was intense, as morons vomited recriminations from trailer packs across the country. You can find them easily enough, but I won’t link a thing here, lest I generate hits for these bellicose asshats. But the content is easy enough to imagine: bitch, traitor, ingrate, baby, un-American, and a host of subtle and not so  subtle racial stuff, much of it aimed as impaling Ms. Douglas as a proxy for the Black Lives Matter movement. It’s been hard to read any of it without feeling ashamed by my own patriotism, wondering, is this the country that I love so much?

Seriously. This is what outrages us? What a small, ugly people we’ve become. They ought to build a wall to keep us in. Until then, I’m forced to wonder, which is more unpatriotic?
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sheer awesomeness

The Black Swallow of Death

I know, you’ve missed me–I’ve been buried in real-world work again–but I’m swimming towards the surface.  In the meantime, here’s a transcript, with some additions, from a Facebook post that’s making the rounds–a story too fascinating, exciting, and (sadly) unsurprising to not share with you.

Eugene_Jacques_Bullard,_first_African_American_combat_pilot_in_uniform,_First_World_War Do you know who this is a photo of? Chances are you don’t, but don’t feel bad because probably not one American in one million does, and that is a National tragedy. His name is Eugene Jacques Bullard, and he is the first African-American fighter pilot in history. But he is also much more then that: He’s also a national hero, and his story is so incredible that I bet if you wrote a movie script based on it Hollywood would reject it as being too far-fetched.

Bullard was an expat living in France, and when World War 1 broke out he joined the French Infantry. He was seriously wounded, and France awarded him the Croix de Guerre and Medaille Militaire. In 1916 he joined the French air service and he first trained as a gunner but later he trained as a pilot. When American pilots volunteered to help France and formed the famous Lafayette Escadrille, he asked to join but by the time he became a qualified pilot they were no longer accepting new recruits, so he joined the Lafayette Flying Corps instead. He served with French flying units and he completed 20 combat missions.

Eugene Jacques Bullard. (U.S. Air Force photo)
Eugene Jacques Bullard. (U.S. Air Force photo)

When the United States finally joined the war, Bullard was the only member of the Escadrille or the French Flying Corps who was NOT invited to join the US Air Service. The reason? At that time the Air Service only accepted white men.

Now here is the part that almost sounds like a sequel to ‘Casablanca’: After WWI Bullard became a jazz musician in Paris and he eventually owned a nightclub called ‘L’Escadrille’. When the Germans invaded France and conquered it in WW2, his Club, and Bullard, became hugely popular with German officers, but what they DIDN’T know was that Bullard, who spoke fluent German, was actually working for the Free French as a spy. He eventually joined a French infantry unit, but he was badly wounded and had to leave the service.

Bullard became known as "The Black Swallow of Death," a pretty awesome nickname by any accounting.
Bullard became known as “The Black Swallow of Death,” a pretty awesome nickname by any accounting.

By the end of the war, Bullard had become a national hero in France, but he later moved back to the U.S. where he was of course completely unknown. Practically no one in the United States was aware of it when, in 1959, the French government named him a national Chevalier, or Knight.

In 1960, the President of France, Charles DeGaulle, paid a state visit to the United States and when he arrived he said that one of the first things he wanted to do was to meet Bullard. That sent the White House staff scrambling because most of them, of course, had never even heard of him. They finally located him in New York City, and DeGaulle traveled there to meet him personally. At the time, Eugene Bullard was working as … An elevator operator.

Not long after Eugene Bullard met with the President of France, he passed away, and today very, very few Americans, and especially African-Americans, even know who he is. But, now YOU do, don’t you? And I hope you’ll be able to find opportunities to tell other people about this great American hero that probably only 1 American in 1 Million has ever heard of.

Postscript: It’s worth noting that I also discovered this photo of Bullard being beaten by police in the famous anti-black, anti-communist, anti-Semitic Peekskill Riots of 1949. God bless America–the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Peekskill--Eugene Bullard attacked

515f1qwGj6L._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_The italicized text above arrived in my hands attributed to someone named Terry Dunn, via Facebook. I’m unsure of its provenance.

A more complete biography of Corporal Bullard appears here.
His wikipedia page is here.  (link repaired)

And there is even a book. It is amazing how much there is that we don’t know.

 

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Commentary Quote

Wednesday Words of Wisdom: W.E.B. Du Bois

m-3187One of the great writers and thinkers in the American legacy, the powerful and wonderfully controversial, W.E.B. Du Bois stands tall, his work growing in stature and significance as time passes, in the way certain monoliths seem not to dwindle in the the distance but rather to assert themselves by virtue of scale and prominence in comparison to the lesser things around them.

“I sit with Shakespeare, and he winces not. Across the color line I move arm and arm with Balzac and Dumas, where smiling men and welcoming women glide in gilded halls. From out of the caves of evening that swing between the strong-limbed Earth and the tracery of stars, I summon Aristotle and Aurelius and what soul I will, and they come all graciously with no scorn nor condescension. So, wed with Truth, I dwell above the veil. Is this the life you grudge us, O knightly America? Is this the life you long to change into the dull red hideousness of Georgia? Are you so afraid lest peering from this high Pisgah, between Philistine and Amalekite, we sight the Promised Land?”
—W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk

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Commentary meme

There Can Be Only One–My First Meme

Choose your flag. Choose your cliche.  Choose your side.
There can be only one.
Either you’re in, or you’re out.You’re either for us, or against us.
Don’t like it?  Get out.

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meme

Monday Meme: Blood, Simple

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Commentary

Sedition

SeditionTheSouthWillRiseAgain

A revolt or an incitement to revolt against established authority, usually in the form of Treason or Defamation against government.

Sedition is the crime of revolting or inciting revolt against government. However, because of the broad protection of free speech under the First Amendment, prosecutions for sedition are rare. Nevertheless, sedition remains a crime in the United States under 18 U.S.C.A. § 2384 (2000), a federal statute that punishes seditious conspiracy, and 18 U.S.C.A. § 2385 (2000), which outlaws advocating the overthrow of the federal government by force. Generally, a person may be punished for sedition only when he or she makes statements that create a Clear and Present Danger to rights that the government may lawfully protect (schenck v. united states, 249 U.S. 47, 39 S. Ct. 247, 63 L. Ed. 470 [1919]).

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Commentary

I Hate This Fucking Thing

imapsusa_2269_10880736Symbols. I should respond to them with a clearer head. I’m a smart guy, I know some things, like the way symbols work to galvanize allies and adversaries in their causes. Especially flags.  Especially in this country. A few days ago I posted about the inanity of both flag-burning and opposing flag burning, and I stand by those arguments–but I have to admit that, this morning, I could burn confederate flag. I could set its polyester weave on fire and stomp on it while it burned. And smile. I’d savor it.

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I have a bunch of relatives who live in the south–their parents, my wife’s sisters, are carpetbaggers in the parlance of the culture, not deeply ingrained in the redneck ethos, but some of my nephews feel the pull. We had a discussion around Christmas about the controversial giant rebel flag along I95 south of Fredericksburg, Virginia–my take being that it was a highly offensive symbol of oppression and sedition. They countered with the “aw, unclc Chuck–you just don’t understand, it’s a southern thing.”

It is not a southern thing.  It is an ignorant hayseed thing that, while it may be embraced by a small army of lazy-minded Buttheads who think it is cool because it’s, “you know, dude, rebellious” it is historically the battle flag of domestic enemy, the goal of which was to destroy the United States of America and maintain an economic system based on the violent subjugation of human beings. Southerners can singsong all they want about gentility and mint juleps. but the glorious past they wistfully celebrate was a feudal nightmare of petty, tyrannical lords and ladies presiding over enslaved Africans and a largely uneducated, poverty-struck underclass of white tenants and laborers.  And that’s the irony of it: most of the yahoos who idealize the glorious confederate past are descended from folks whose conditions were no better than the black folks they hated so much.

A few words pop into my mind when I see that rebel flag: IDIOT, IGNORANT, STUPID, and TRAITOR. And today, I’m done looking the other way and shaking my head at people whom I have, for the most part, given a free pass on this shit because of their mental and social defects. Maybe it will get my ass kicked, maybe it will get me shot, but I’m ready to do some finger pointing and calling out, and I urge you to do the same: when you see a rebel flag, look the owner in the eye and call ’em a racist Un-American piece of shit.

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Commentary nostalgia Tunesday

Tunesday: 1988 Revolution Music–N.W.A.

I’ve gone full cliche, recently dropping the “music didn’t used to suck” on one of my kids the other day, after seeing some lame-ass pseudo-country kiddie pop band on the teevee, a wretched clump of excrement called Florida Georgia Line.  We got a good 620049_NWADangerouslaugh at these bozos, but oh, man…before I knew it I was lecturing on the whole “when i was young” theme, all but telling them how I walked seven miles to school in the snow, up hill both ways–and I listend to some real goddam music when I did it. For some reason, N.W.A. jumped into my mind–about the most opposite thing to lame, mindless cookie cutter pop country drivel I could come up with.

I didn’t listen to a lot of rap, being a rural white kid whowas into what was called “progressive music’ at the time–but what became “college rock” and then “alternative.”  I was still buried in melodic punk and some of the Austin to Athens jangle rock of the time, but I did like that they got the establishment’s hypothetical knickers in such a twist.  Where I lived, one had to actively seek out any music not firmly rooted in the mainstream, and by mainstream I mean pop and AOR.  Interesting music just wasn’t on the radio, and even the black kids I was friends with didn’t listen to cutting edge urban music–it simply wasn’t available to us, which is probably difficult for a lot of younger people to imagine.  Simply put: if it wasn’t on the radio, it didn’t exist as more than a few lines of text in Rolling Stone or Spin magazines.

Message received.
Message received.

I can’t say that I got the music, but I got that it wasn’t for no reason that conservatives were waging war on this band.  N.W.A, in a way, was like Radio Free America, a voice of the underground, of revolution.  I was in college and just learning about social justice and the civil rights movement, neither of which had been part of my high school education, and I was brimming with the fervor of the newly converted, the freshly disgusted.

The media was telling me these guys were violent, anti-social thugs but my own sensibilities suggested that rap wasn’t all that different from the 1960s folk music I was just discovering, or the then-current punk with which my day to day life was saturated.  It would be another 4 years before Rodney King was beaten within an inch of his life on an LA freeway, and we began to understand what this music was really about.

Postscript: Last week I posted a joke entry about the supremely talented Ice Cube, and another blogger pointed out how great his comedic timing was.  I had to agree, but it occurred to me in response that “The N.W.A. stuff was both awesome and prophetic–we’re living in the world they were criticized for putting on records 30 years ago–it’s a short jump from Ice Cube’s Compton, to Ferguson, Baltimore, and the hundred of other communities where folks have been pushed past the breaking point. I’d much rather live in his zany comedies, rather than those harsh realities.”  I’m sure all those guys feel a little vindicated, but it’s got to be tough to spend so much time and energy shouting from the rooftops, knowing that you were heard, but that nothing it changed nothing.

And because I can’t resist, here’s a cover from Veruca Salt’s punk goddess Nina Gordon.