Good Day Sky Dancers!
I’m going to really cop out on you today because I’m exhausted and I need to finish my grades. A good deal of the reason for the exhaustion is the hell realm that’s been my street lately. The Tourists are back and they’ve joined in with the local colony of hipsters to search out every nuisance business and event in the area and wander around like lost toddlers.
A 3 day a week rave in the Navy yard with its dusk to dawn thumpa thumpa music and skateboarding and skating while breaking and entering, trespassing, and noise ordinance violating has driven me to call the police and I’m calling the mayor and my city council member next. Last week I found myself hoping that the Chinese space rocket would take out the entire Navy base and a few other select buildings in the area. The Desk Sargent at the local precinct keeps telling me I’m not the only sleep-deprived local asking for help with the noise and zoning violations going on around here. (Yes we have laws here!)
You can’t sit on your porch during Tourist infestations because they assume you’re just a Disneyland like freebie for them invading your neighborhood so they can ask you dumb questions like “where’s the nearest Applebees”? It came from an elderly couple so I told them out by the airport–which is true–but I really wanted to say something like Topeka, Kansas. I suggest you visit there instead. If it was one of these colonizers I’d suggest the middle of Lake Ponchartrain during Hurricane Season.
So, the entire night, 911 call and all came to a blaring stop when we had one of the largest Formosan Termite swarms that I’d ever experienced. It seems Jerky Hipsters, Ugly American Tourists, and Colonizers can’t tolerate the little beasts. It was so bad that a few found a crack in my bedroom window and headed towards my desk lamp. I pulled the window down immediately followed by the black-out shades in my bedroom I installed to save my life from the Air BNB invaders at the AirBnbs on both sides of me.
If you stay every use an AirBnb I’m pretty sure I can’t talk to you ever again. You have no idea how miserable it makes the lives of locals all over the planet. Stay in a damn hotel or any of the lovely motor Inns out by the Airport! Thank you very much!
So … the Onion sent me the perfect article for me to post for this Open thread.
Enticing potential bookers with the apartment’s best features, a New Orleans Airbnb reportedly touted Monday its location in the heart of the city’s historic Airbnb quarter. “Located mere steps from a wide array of other Airbnbs, this apartment is the perfect spot for a couple or two friends to explore the sights and sounds of the Big Easy’s iconic Airbnb district,” read the listing in part, adding that the apartment was located on the top floor of a beautiful gut-rehabbed building dating all the way back to 2009. “A private and spacious apartment located right where a 1852 Creole cottage used to be, our year-round rental offers incredible views of dozens of other Airbnbs with a long and storied tradition of hosting bachelorette parties and boys’ weekends. Upon your arrival, you’ll find we’ve even made a little walking tour of all the best short-term rentals dotting the Airbnb Quarter, or you can strike out on your own, and who knows? While you’re out getting coffee and beignets, you might even find yourself stumbling upon some of the oldest Airbnbs in the city.” The apartment listing also touted the benefits of staying near the colorful local community, encouraging customers to experience firsthand New Orleans’ famous Instacart and UberEats delivery drivers.
They forgot to add you can have fun treating the locals like your private concierge and ensuring every neighborhood bar now has conversations worthy of the Applebee’s in Topeka, Kansas.
Note: No Termites were hurt during this particular snark session where I whine about the worst business models ever necessary because no one can make a real living at anything else.
You may discuss amongst yourselves or completely change the topic.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Good Day Sky Dancers and Happy Christmas to those who celebrate!
Usually, I have these wonderful pictures of the Lutcher Bonfires that are lit to greet Père Noël! They were cancelled this year due to the Covid-19 outbreak. This has been a holiday season unlike any other in my life time. There were some normal things up and running even after the Katrina Xmas. We still have very French traditions down here despite Napoleon selling us out to Thomas Jefferson. Reveillon–the Christmas Eve Feast– is one of my favorites because, yes, FOOD!
In France, a country where at least 60 percent of the population identifies as Catholic according to Europe Now, even the majority who may be a little irregular in their attendance at Sunday services will often come out for midnight mass. And, as 100 percent of the country’s population are serious foodies, naturally la messe de minuit is followed by a sumptuous meal called le Réveillon, which translates to “the awakening.” Which kind of implies that you’ve fallen asleep during mass – tsk tsk – but still, a luxurious meal of escargots, oysters, roast pheasant, and foie gras followed by bûche de Noël and washed down with Champagne is a pretty nice way to wake up from a long winter’s nap.
In fact, Complete France says that a single Réveillon is not sufficient to make la saison des fêtes sufficiently joyeuse – instead, they celebrate le Réveillon de Noël on Christmas Eve (or rather, early Christmas morning) and on New Year’s Eve they partake in le Réveillon de la Saint Sylvestre. Can’t make it to France this year? That’s ok. Nineteenth-century French immigrants brought this tradition to that French-est of U.S. cities, New Orleans. Visit New Orleans notes that the early, midnight mass-based tradition seemed to have died out by the WWII era, it was revived in the 1990s in a more secular version.
You may see what Christmas Eve dinner looks like around the world too at that link! Believe me, it’s top quality Food Porn!
There was an intentional bombing this morning in Nashville.
A large explosion was reported in downtown Nashville early Christmas morning.
The explosion happened in the area of Second Avenue and Broadway near Commerce Street occurred around 6:30 am Friday. Heavy black smoke could be seen rising above the affected area.
MNPD, FBI, and ATF are investigating the explosion of an RV outside 166 2nd Avenue North downtown.
Officers responded to a call of shots fired call on 2nd Avenue at approximately 5:30 a.m. The department’s Hazardous Devices Unit was called to check the RV. As those officers were en route, the vehicle exploded outside an AT&T transmission building. Multiple buildings on 2nd Avenue were damaged, some extensively.
They’ve not released any more information than that as of this writing. However, this is some interesting commentary.
Here’s a few links to show you how litigious, unsuccessful, and crazy Trumpist law suits can be. Trump and his cronies seem to be better at getting put in jail with criminal lawsuits than successful getting what they consider justice mostly because of hurt widdle feefees.
Gabriel T. Rubin / Wall Street Journal:Trump Lawyers Get Little Backup From Their Firms or Universities — Chapman University becomes the latest organization to formally distance itself from the president’s legal efforts to challenge the election results
Joe Walsh / Forbes:Judge Tosses Out Rep. Nunes’ Lawsuit Against Washington Post — A federal judge dismissed a defamation lawsuit against the Washington Post from Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) on Thursday, the latest development in a string of legal battles waged by Nunes against mainstream media outlets …
Jon Swaine / Washington Post:Sidney Powell’s secret intelligence contractor witness is a pro-Trump podcaster — As she asked the U.S. Supreme Court this month to overturn President Trump’s election loss, the attorney Sidney Powell cited testimony from a secret witness presented as a former intelligence contractor …
Ashton Pittman / Mississippi Free Press:
Republican Mississippi Senator: Trump’s Pardons ‘Smack of Cronyism and Political Favors’
Sen. Brice Wiggins, a prominent Republican member of the Mississippi Senate from Pascagoula, broke ranks with most members of his party in the state last night as he criticized President Donald Trump’s ongoing pardon spree.
Wiggins, who served as an assistant district attorney for seven years and as a youth court prosecutor for one year before joining the Mississippi Senate in 2012, said in a tweet thread yesterday evening that Trump’s pardons “aren’t good.”
“They smack of cronyism and political favors. As such, they erode our faith in the rule of law,” Wiggins, who chairs the powerful Senate Judiciary Division B Committee, wrote in a tweet thread Friday night.
Samya Kullab / Associated Press:
Relative of Blackwater victim in Iraq says pardons ‘unfair’
Faris Fadel had just one word to describe the recent pardoning by the Trump administration of four private security contractors convicted of killing Iraqi civilians — including his brother — in a public square 13 years ago: Unfair.
Fadel’s brother, Osama Abbas, had been on his way to work that fateful day. He had just crossed a street into Baghdad’s Nisoor Square to do a money transfer — a last minute change in plans that would cost the 41-year old electrical engineer his life.
At the time, the Blackwater firm had been contracted to provide security for U.S. diplomats in Iraq. It was four years after the 2003 invasion of Iraq that ultimately toppled Saddam Hussein. The four men, military veterans working as contractors for the State Department, opened fire in the crowded traffic circle killing 14 Iraqis, including a child, and wounding over a dozen more.
Hunter Walker / Yahoo News:
Jared Kushner played a key role in White House pardon ‘free for all’
“Everyone’s sending emails to Jared,” a source familiar with the process said. “If you want to make something happen, go to Jared.”
The source, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the ongoing process, spoke with Yahoo News on Monday, before Trump issued the spate of pardons and commutations. They predicted the coming onslaught of pardons.
“It’s going to be a free-for-all,” the source said.
They went on to claim that Kushner was “keeping score” and tracking the people asking for clemency. “He’ll let you know where you stand,” the source said. “The ones who are going to get pardoned and get to the top of the list are the ones who have representatives, staff or counsel that were loyal to the president.”
The White House did not respond to requests for comment. A second source familiar with the pardons said they “believe technically that pardons and clemency were under Jared Kushner in the White House.”
One pardon recipient was Kushner’s own father, Charles, a real estate developer who was convicted in 2005 on charges related to illegal campaign contributions, tax evasion and witness tampering that stemmed from an extortion plot in which he hired a woman to seduce and blackmail his brother-in-law. Pardons also went to former members of Trump’s presidential campaign who were ensnared in the investigations into his presidential bid, including Paul Manafort, Trump’s erstwhile campaign chairman, and longtime adviser Roger Stone.
Anyway, hope you pass some good times, mes cher amies! We’ll get through this together! January 20, 2021 is coming and Kamala’s going to get the work done and Joe’s gonna calm things down for sure!
What’s on your on reading and blogging list today? And, are you binging anything juicy?
Good Day Sky Dancers!
It’s been a few overwhelming days for me and I’m quite exhausted. New Orleans was very fortunate that Hurricane Zeta was a fast mover because she was like 1 mph off a Category 3 hurricane when she hit and hit she did. We’re going to be digging out of shredded leaves, downed trees, and infrastructure messes for awhile. Fortunately, only six families lost their homes and one person died. It could’ve been way worse.
I was really fortunate that the city and the power company had done several things to stop tree damage on my avenue and in my neighborhood just a few weeks ago. The Tree Trimmers got the old oaks trimmed of dead branches and the power company reinforced the lines with brackets and and pole supports. A large number of homes through out the metro area or still out of power. Mine came back on Thursday morning.
However, both my phone and my cable tv and internet at the house are acting hinky. I was about to check the weather channel one last time last night when I found that the only channel I had on the entire cable set up was MSNBC which was the last thing I was watching. Fortunately, the entire compliment of channels returned this morning. The Wifi has been slow off and on. I couldn’t get mobile data on my phone Wednesday night so I was completely cutoff from everything except texts and phone calls. My understanding is that the Sprint Tower had damage and that network completely went down so something similar must’ve happened with the Verizon Tower. My cable company still is showing a lot of outages and problems in the neighborhood so I’m just lucky I’ve got what I’ve got.
I spent Wednesday night reading the rest of a book on Kindle–which was amply charged for the event–by hurricane lamp light. We were totally in the center of the eyewall when it came through which was the most ethereal experience I think I’ve ever had. The city was texting us to stay inside but I wanted to get Temple out for a quick in and out walk. It was quiet and the clouds to the west, east, and north of me were swirly dark grey clouds with an eerie purple tinge. To the south, over the river, the sky was a brilliant orangish gold. I failed to bring my phone camera out with me but some others have captured the moment so I’m sharing some pictures I took but those were taken by others.
Today, I learned that a lot of polling places may not be up in time since about 70% of our schools are without power or damaged some how. I think my fire station is likely okay but I’m going to go check them out on Temple’s next Trot around the neighborhood.
And the final days of the 2020 presidential campaign look ugly.
I can’t really say I’ve been reading much or watching much TV on any of this because I’m rather traumatized enough from everything going on . But, everything I’ve seen
makes me glad I’ve been incognito for a few days. The desperation around the Trump campaign is just frighteningly damaging to every one including his cult. I still can’t believe they abandoned a bunch of Omahans on an Airfield in freezing weather or let a group of Floridians pass out from heat exhaustion. Both were finally rescued by actions of the local fire departments which the Kremlin Potted Plant in the White House wasn’t going to praise until he found out if it was a friend or a foe. WTF?
The COVID 19 pandemic–despite Trumpist attempts to ignore and downplay it–is getting worse. NPR reports that they’ve been hiding statistics also. No surprise that! “Internal Documents Reveal COVID-19 Hospitalization Data The Government Keeps Hidden”
As coronavirus cases rise swiftly around the country, surpassing both the spring and summer surges, health officials brace for a coming wave of hospitalizations and deaths. Knowing which hospitals in which communities are reaching capacity could be key to an effective response to the growing crisis. That information is gathered by the federal government — but not shared openly with the public.
NPR has obtained documents that give a snapshot of data the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services collects and analyzes daily. The documents — reports sent to agency staffers — highlight trends in hospitalizations and pinpoint cities nearing full hospital capacity and facilities under stress. They paint a granular picture of the strain on hospitals across the country that could help local citizens decide when to take extra precautions against COVID-19.
Withholding this information from the public and the research community is a missed opportunity to help prevent outbreaks and even save lives, say public health and data experts who reviewed the documents for NPR.
“At this point, I think it’s reckless. It’s endangering people,” says Ryan Panchadsaram, co-founder of the website COVID Exit Strategy and a former data official in the Obama administration. “We’re now in the third wave, and I think our only way out is really open, transparent and actionable information.”
Susan B Glasser writes this at The New Yorker: “Denialism, Dishonesty, Deflection: The Final Days of the Trump Campaign Have It All. The President is ending his reëlection bid with scandals that call into question the legitimacy of next week’s vote.”
Whether or not Trump once again succeeds in pulling an unlikely win out of a near-certain defeat, this fall’s campaign may well go down as one of the most scandalous periods of his norm-shattering Presidency. Trump in recent weeks has openly flirted with white supremacy and bizarre conspiracy theories. He has demanded that the U.S. government investigate and jail Biden—it is not clear for what—and he has publicly threatened to fire the F.B.I. director and the Attorney General for failing to do so. He has held rallies at which his supporters chanted “Lock him up,” and did and said nothing to stop them. He has broadcast so much misinformation that social-media platforms such as Twitter have, for the first time, regularly warned readers about the veracity of his posts. He has lied so much that the Times found seventy-five per cent of his statements during a single rally to be untrue. He has issued orders that threaten to politicize the government long after he is gone, including an executive order, last week, which would remove key protections from the professional civil service; the potential consequences of this move are so significant that, on Monday, the Republican Trump appointee who would have to oversee it resigned in protest, warning that the decision will “replace apolitical expertise with political obeisance” across the government.
In recent weeks, scandalous revelations about Trump’s corruption include the Times’reporting on hundreds of millions of dollars of debt that Trump is personally liable for. (He will not say to whom.) The Washington Post disclosed this week that Trump has used his power to direct at least eight million dollars from the U.S. government—–and his political supporters—into his personal businesses since he took office. The consequences of Trump’s Presidency, meanwhile, include the forcible separation of at least twenty-six hundred migrant children from their parents at the southern border, and last week the awful news came out that five hundred and forty-five of these children are now stranded alone in the United States, owing to the authorities being unable to locate their mothers or fathers.
And this parade of horrors, of course, also includes Trump’s record on the coronavirus, a disastrous performance that, as of this week, has left more than two hundred and twenty thousand Americans dead. Universal mask-wearing could prevent perhaps a hundred and thirty thousand Americans from dying, according to a study in the scientific journal Nature which was released earlier this month. Yet Trump not only refuses to issue a national mask mandate; he has repeatedly and publicly questioned the need for mask-wearing during the fall campaign and has held numerous White House events with packed crowds of unmasked attendees.
Then, yesterday, the NYTs dropped what would be an October Surprise that kills Trump’s chances if we still lived in what was the normal United States of America. Here it is summed up by New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait: “Trump Corruptly Meddled With Probe Into Crimes by Bank in Turkey.” The MSNBC coverage of this is evidently what got my TV stuck on the channel. I was glued to the screen. This is like immediate impeachment material for Trump, Barrett, and the Goddesses know who else?
In 2016, Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan asked then-Vice-President Joe Biden to lean on federal prosecutors who were investigating a Turkish bank for financial crimes and to hand over a dissident cleric living in the United States. The requests seemed to be on Biden’s mind when he publicly addressed reporters and piously explained that, in the United States, the justice system doesn’t work like that. “I suspect it’s hard for people to understand that as powerful as my country is, as powerful as Barack Obama is as president, he has no authority under our Constitution to extradite anyone,” Biden explained to reporters. “Only a federal court can do that. Nobody else can do that. If the president were to take this into his own hands, what would happen would be he would be impeached for violating the separation of powers.”
Well, the justice system works like that now.
The New York Times has a comprehensive report on Erdogan’s successful efforts to recruit top Trump administration officials into his corrupt scheme.
Scandals tend to be complicated, especially scandals involving banks. But this one is extremely simple. The basic elements:
1) The Justice Department was prosecuting financial crimes by a Turkish bank.
2) Turkey’s president asked President Trump to quash the investigation.
3) Trump has personally received more than $1 million in payments from business in Turkey while serving as president.
4) Two attorneys general loyal to Trump, Matthew Whitaker and William Barr, both pressured federal prosecutors to go easy on the Turkish bank.
The Times adds plenty of new detail to the last point, which is yet another blow to anybody who hoped Barr might preserve some shred of respect for the rule of law. “In mid-June 2019, when [Geoffrey] Berman met with Mr. Barr in Washington, the attorney general pushed Mr. Berman to agree to allow the Justice Department to drop charges against the defendants and terminate investigations of other suspected conspirators,” the Times reports. When Barr subsequently fired Berman, who resisted his pressure, Justice Department officials cited his stubbornness on the Turkey case “as a key reason for his removal.”
If you read one thing today make it this article. It is imperative he be voted out of office and removed as quickly as possible along with his appointments at the DOJ.
In the eye of a hurricane
There is quiet
For just a moment
A yellow sky
So, we’ve got a bit further to go on our Country’s Bumpy Ride. Tomorrow is Halloween. Sunday is All Saints Day. Tuesday the votes are counted and I take my soul to the poll. Wednesday I turn 65. What a long strange ride this is.
Take care! Check in !
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
I found some really interesting things for you to read and watch today but let’s just do a quick Drumpfistan Detritus Dump first. It’s easy to look at US History and recoil from the dark side with its huge numbers of crimes and cruelties inflicted by ‘White Christian Hegemony’. Andrew Jackson’s removal of hundreds of thousands of indigenous Americans from their Tribal Lands on the Trail of Tears should be forced reading every time we celebrate any holiday like Columbus Day. The contributions of women in this country have long buried, discounted, and discouraged. The absolute impact of how our country was built on the slave trade and on the institution of slavery which has created lasting effects of racism that just do not go away is poorly understood by many Americans. This last year we have learned how vested so many are in the idea of White Christian Male Hegemony that it hurts to watch any action taken by any one in the White House. They will destroy everything to protect it.
Racist and misogynistic attacks by this Administration on two black women US Representatives–Maxine Waters and Frederica Wilson–and a young black gold star widow–Myeshia Johnson–continue to gall. The blatant misogyny and racism and this ongoing dog whistle and bait show provide us a glimpse into minds that obviously believe that some gold star families are more ‘sacred than others.’ This leaves me shocked and deeply saddened. The attacks are also awash with lies and so disrespectful that none of these old, white, ‘Christian’–yes I’ve taken to using ironic quotation marks–men can’t even speak their names correctly if at all.
This is not the power of soft bigotry. This is full on white supremacist mode. No thinking person can deny this.
A grieving, pregnant widow and mother of small children has been compelled to go on Network TV to defend the Congresswoman that mentored her late husband. We all believe Frederica Wilson.
The pregnant widow of U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson, who was among four U.S. service members killed in Niger earlier this month, expressed a mix of blame and sorrow today on “Good Morning America,” saying she was “very angry” about President Donald Trump‘s condolence phone call and upset because she says he struggled to “remember my husband’s name.”
ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos spoke to Myeshia Johnson, who criticized Trump’s handling of the phone call that started a firestorm of controversy.
I still can’t move beyond this. Meet a retired Chicago police officer …
We continue to stand witness to the suffering of our country men and women in the Virgin Islands and in Puerto Rico. The fact we now likely have incredibly failed military policy in Niger that ended the lives of 4 soldiers is at the heart of the Drumpf-created media circus that we’re watching. It serves to take our minds off of that and the suffering in our Caribbean territories. McCain has joined in with swipes at Drumpf’s successful Draft Dodging during the Vietnam war. Bone spurs? Seriously? Now would be a really great time for Congress to have some truth seeking hearings but their heads are up the asses of millionaires and billionaires seeking tax cuts.
Meanwhile, we have “Forever Wars”. It also seems the groundwork is being laid for a few more. It’s the belief of quite a few of us that the entire West Wing and the Drumpf Pentagon is out looking for an excuse to preemptively strike North Korea.
While President Donald Trump rattles sabers on Twitter and slams “Rocket Man” Kim Jong Un, there is also a perceptible hardening of tone among senior officials. Military action to halt North Korea’s march to a missile tipped with a nuclear warhead that could hit the US mainland appears to be a growing possibility.
Trump upped the rhetoric another notch in an interview with Fox Business Network broadcast Sunday, in which he said Washington was “so prepared, like you wouldn’t believe” for any contingency with Pyongyang.
“You would be shocked to see how totally prepared we are if we need to be,” Trump said. “Would it be nice not to do that? The answer is yes. Will that happen? Who knows, who knows.”
Trump’s power to shock has been eroded by the extraordinary spectacle of his nine months as President.
Yet it’s still stunning to hear an American President speaking so openly about the possibility of a war, that could, under some scenarios, cause the most devastation of any US conflict, at least since the Vietnam War.
And then, again, he talks shit about our allies who will probably leave us high and dry on any Drumpf war adventure.
Donald Trump has blamed a rise in crime in the UK on “radical Islamic terror”, despite there being no evidence to support the claim.
In an early morning tweet the President said: “Just out report: ‘United Kingdom crime rises 13% annually amid spread of Radical Islamic terror.’ Not good, we must keep America safe!”
So, enough of this … let’s end on the UPSIDE of humanity.
Paleontologists in Germany have discovered 9.7 million-year-old fossilised teeth that a German politician has hailed as potentially “rewriting” human history.
The dental remains were found by scientists sifting through gravel and sand in a former bed of the Rhine river near the town of Eppelsheim.
They resemble those belonging to “Lucy”, a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton of an extinct primate related to humans and found in Ethiopia.
However, they do not resemble those of any other species found in Europe or Asia.
Scientists were so confused by the find they held off from publishing their research for the past year, Deutsche Welle reports.
Herbert Lutz, director at the Mainz Natural History Museum and head of the research team, told local media: “They are clearly ape teeth. Their characteristics resemble African finds that are four to five million years younger than the fossils excavated in Eppelsheim.
“This is a tremendous stroke of luck, but also a great mystery.”
At a press conference announcing the discovery, the mayor of Mainz suggested the find could force scientists to reassess the history of early humans.
I discovered a gem of a page on FaceBook. It’s called History’s Women Adventurers. It’s loaded with video after video of amazing women. Now, I’m looking for more about them.
From Scary Mommy: GIFS of “women just destroying SHIT”. Yup. You’re enjoying some of them on this post! Do take a brief look at the lives of two adventurous women! You’ll be glad that you did! The Facebook page is an amazing collection of short videos of adventuring women’s lives. Here’s an article about the effort to celebrate the legacies of these women.
Also, go Check out Doug McCash’s tweeter feed for artwork on homes and buildings through out New Orlean’s 7th ward. Doug is an Arts and Entertainment writer at The Times-Picayune. There’s some really fine street art out there.
So, at least I ended my rant with something uplifting. Destruction and creation and evolving life; What could be more human?
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
BostonBoomer got into a bad fight with a bush that needed trimming and came out the loser yesterday. She’s laid up at her mother’s house with a terrible, horrible, awful, very bad rash. So, I’m writing today’s post and it’s on the tardy side as usual these days. I’ve never been a morning person but now I have no reason to be since all my lectures, etc. happen in the evening. So, I’m just going to get us caught up on some thoughts today on the cultural shift of the last few weeks and give you a few suggested reads.
There’s some interesting things going on in New Orleans that I thought I’d share with you. We’re a southern city in a southern state even though our history is more nuanced that some of the other southern states and cities. There are two very prominent statues in the city from our past. The first is one of Andrew Jackson atop a stallion to recognize his role in the Battle of New Orleans.
The second statue stands on top of a huge column and is part of a traffic roundabout called Lee Circle. It is, of course, a statue of Robert E. Lee the Confederate General. Lee looks more than a little defiant with his back to the Mississippi and his arms crossed. He faces due North.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu has decided that he’d like to take down the statue and rename the circle because he feels that it’s a little too much of a monument to a confederate general. My question is when do we cross the line from glorification of past sins to erasing some history that we need to really discuss and understand.
Lee was not exactly Nathan Bedford Forrest, the ex-Confederate General who helped to found the KKK. Nor, was Lee a particularly gung-ho Confederate General to start out with if you remember your history. Lee did something completely different than Forrest after the Civil War. He became an educator and an advocate of educating black Americans. Lee also freed his slaves 10 years before the war. So, he was a complex man with a complex history as are most of our historical figures. Still, both of these men who led an insurrection need to be understood without glorification. Can a monument area become an outdoor teaching museum made to elucidate instead of glorify just as many of our National Parks and Museums already do.
After the Battle of New Orleans, Andrew Jackson became a U.S. President who is notable for the “Trail of Tears” which was the policy of forcibly and violently removing Native Americans from their land. The Chocktaw nation was removed from their land in the south and sent on what amounted to a death march west to what is now Oklahoma. There are two National Parks where Jackson figures prominently. One is the Chalmette Battlefield site where the Battle of New Orleans took place. The other is Trail of Tears National History Trail. One is a site of national pride. The other is a site of national shame. Jackson, you may recall, is still etched on our $20 bill. If any one’s statue needs to come down it is surely that of Andrew Jackson.
However, history is a nuanced bitch and should never be white washed or banned or removed. While I fully support removing the Confederate Battle Flag off of public buildings that aren’t museums, I question the wisdom of Mitch Landrieu and others who want to remove monuments rather than use them as an opportunity to teach.
Again, If any one deserves to have all his monuments torn down it is the genocidal Jackson. Yet, without the win at the Battle of New Orleans we might have a totally different history with the British. The citizenry who could vote at the time made him President. He was an extremely controversial President and at times very unpopular for a variety of reasons. Studying the variety of reasons helps us to learn about past mistakes and the ramifications of these mistakes to our present and future.
Andrew Jackson had long been an advocate of what he called “Indian removal.” As an Army general, he had spent years leading brutal campaigns against the Creeks in Georgia and Alabama and the Seminoles in Florida–campaigns that resulted in the transfer of hundreds of thousands of acres of land from Indian nations to white farmers. As president, he continued this crusade. In 1830, he signed the Indian Removal Act, which gave the federal government the power to exchange Native-held land in the cotton kingdom east of the Mississippi for land to the west, in the “Indian colonization zone” that the United States had acquired as part of the Louisiana Purchase. (This “Indian territory” was located in present-day Oklahoma.)
The law required the government to negotiate removal treaties fairly, voluntarily and peacefully: It did not permit the president or anyone else to coerce Native nations into giving up their land. However, President Jackson and his government frequently ignored the letter of the law and forced Native Americans to vacate lands they had lived on for generations. In the winter of 1831, under threat of invasion by the U.S. Army, the Choctaw became the first nation to be expelled from its land altogether. They made the journey to Indian territory on foot (some “bound in chains and marched double file,” one historian writes) and without any food, supplies or other help from the government. Thousands of people died along the way. It was, one Choctaw leader told an Alabama newspaper, a “trail of tears and death.”
Now is the time to talk about replacing the statue of Robert E. Lee, as iconic as it is controversial, from its perch at the center of Lee Circle, Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced Wednesday (June 24) during a gathering held to highlight his racial reconciliation initiative.
“Symbols really do matter,” he said. “Symbols should reflect who we really are as a people.
“We have never been a culture, in essence, that revered war rather than peace, division rather than unity.”
The slaying last week of nine black people in a historic Charleston, S.C., church at the hands of Dylann Roof, an avowed white supremacist, has sparked heated debate about whether the Confederate battle flag and other symbols associated with the country’s racist past ought to be displayed in public places.
Just two days ago, Landrieu was noncommittal when asked whether the Lee statue should be removed, though he called for a larger discussion on it and other Confederate monuments in New Orleans. The 2018 Tricentennial Commission, whose tasks include addressing the city’s complex racial history ahead of its 300th anniversary, would also examine the propriety of the monuments continued display on public property, the mayor’s office said.
“These symbols say who we were in a particular time, but times change. Yet these symbols — statues, monuments, street names, and more — still influence who we are and how we are perceived by the world,” a spokesman said in a statement. “Mayor Landrieu believes it is time to look at the symbols in this city to see if they still have relevance to our future.”
Now, I will give him credit if he manages to get Jefferson Davis Parkway renamed. That shocked me the first time I saw it. But, there’s an opportunity lost in the Lee Circle suggestion. That opportunity is to highlight a complex moment in history and a complex man. One of his former slaves Rev. William Mac Lee wrote some fascinating bits about their lives together.
There are many more things that we could learn about the horrible institution of slavery and the men that enabled it. That’s a real conversation we need to have about race. That institution has shaped race relations in this country. We can’t bury or white wash the past by removing all elements of it. We need not glorify the men, but we do need to understand the history and work to ensure we correct the sins and errors of the past. We also, need to instruct on how their actions inform our lives now by including more into these monuments or parks. Rev William Mac Lee wrote this about his former owner.
I was raised by one of the greatest men in the world. There was never one born of a woman greater than Gen. Robert E. Lee, according to my judgment. All of his servants were set free ten years before the war, but all remained on the plantation until after the surrender.
We have an opportunity in these places where monuments reside to discuss the sins, the complexities, and all of the people impacted both past, present and future. There’s more than enough land there to introduce us to William Mac Lee and his descendants as they struggle to navigate the post Civil War South as well as understand the ways that Lee atoned and evolved.
Even statues of the nasty Nathan Bedford Forrest give us an opportunity to put a face and history on the horrible acts of the KKK including lynchings which were frequent and savage in many parts of our country. So, rather than just bury this history and these men, why not use the sites to explore the history of the lives they shaped? Lee became an advocate of black education even while maintaining the racist notions of the time that African Americans were savages that could eventually be brought to full status through education. That’s an attitude that needs elucidation because it still informs many in the South. I remember thinking of Lee when Barbara Bush made her pronouncement at the AstroDome on Katrina refuges. Forrest created the original domestic terrorist organization. How did these men take such different paths? How far have we come or not come since then?
So, in all of this call to bring down monuments, I hear no similar call to remove the statue of the genocidal Jackson that is also surrounded by enough land for us to be regaled not only with his victory at the Battle of New Orleans but his savage treatment of the Southern Tribes. The square could be used to connect the Jackson of Chalmette Battlefield to the Jackson of The Trail of Tears. For some reason, we seem incapable of grabbing teaching moments when they are upon us. But think, no one plowed under the major concentration camps and there are Holocaust Museums. They are are there for us to learn, understand, and evolve.
The SPLC has asked that holidays celebrated in the names of Jeff Davis and Robert E Lee be dropped. This is appropriate. It’s important to remove the glorification even while we search for deeper understanding of the acts, men, and history.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has launched an online petition asking that Alabama and four other states drop holidays honoring Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee.
“It’s time to stop the celebrations,” the petition says. “We should honor those who represent American ideals, not those who led the fight to preserve slavery.”
The other states listed are Arkansas, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi.
The petition follows other calls to remove symbols honoring the Confederacy since the murders of nine African-American worshipers at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C., two weeks ago.
Gov. Robert Bentley had Confederate flags removed from a monument on the north side of the state Capitol last week.
In Birmingham today, a city board voted to explore removal of a Confederate monument from Linn Park.
SPLC President Richard Cohen said it was a good time to act on the organization’s concerns about holidays honoring Confederate President Davis and Lee, the South’s top general.
“We thought that now, while the public is sensitive to these issues and in some sense has a broader understanding of the nature of these kinds of symbols, that it would be a good time to put this issue on the public agenda,” Cohen said.
He said the petition was a way to start conversation.
“Why we honor people who fought to preserve slavery is a question I think the public has to ask itself,” Cohen said.
Again, it is a completely different thing to revere or honor bad actors. So, I’m a firm advocate of museums, parks, and national historic sites that tell the full picture. I’m not in favor of glorification. Maybe, we should also have a conversation on the true stories behind the Thanksgiving myths eventually. Plus, some one needs to talk to Mitch Landrieu about Andrew Jackson. The man committed genocide plain and simple. But that’s enough from me!!!
Here’s a few interesting things that you might want to read today.
- The Donald is tanking the Trump brand–which is really the only true asset he’s had for some time–as both Serta and Macy’s dump the bloviating presidential candidate’s brands. It seems that each of the companies prefer a diverse customer and employee base to the old goon.
- The US Navy Yard was shutdown this morning as reports of an active shooter emerged. They were later found to be false but caused a noticeable panic in the area.
- Candidate Bernie Sanders is drawing huge crowds on the campaign trail much to the chagrin of the beltway punditry. After all, SOCIALIST!!!!!
- Here’s an interesting story on a charter school that actually embraced teacher unions which is a bit of an outlier for that business/education model.
So, that’s my thoughts and suggestions for today.
What’s on your reading and blogging list?