Friday Post Zeta Reads: We’re all hanging on and the bumpy rides keep comin’

This is an old fish/seafood market turned woodshop across the street from me. It’s lost its old tin roof.

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.

It looks like a leaf shredding bomb went off every where. Fortunately, our neighborhood kids decided to clean the avenue up for us old folks. They got some fresh bananas from my tree and some cash for their good work!

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

My kitchen stairs or one of the sites of the leaf shredding hurricane debris

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.”

Super Dome in the middle of the eye and yes these were the colors I saw.

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.

This is my friend Grace Athas’ photo of the center of the eye over her uptown home.

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?


ClusterFuck Friday Reads: Can the Trumpist Regime get any more Incompetent?

Bourbon Street (a rare empty time) - Picture of New Orleans ...

Good Day Sky Dancers!

I’m waiting for a phone call from Doctor Daughter who was on call last night at her hospital in the Seattle Burbs.  Youngest Daughter joined my graduate class in Derivatives on Wednesday night to talk about Options strategies and the consumer retail brokerage market from Denver to the students held up here in New Orleans.  I’m beginning to feel superfluous which is fine but I worry about them both.  I especially fret about the doctors in Seattle and I can only imagine the stories that I will hear today.

My paychecks continue and I’m paying my bills which keeps me in the thankful old lady range.  I’m trying like crazy not to get sick again although I–like BB–wonder if the Mardi Gras Flu that kept me sick and home for 3 weeks last month was COVID 19 instead of Influenza Type B.  At this point, I’d be glad to have some antibodies because my lean/mean blue cross blue shield ACA health plan keeps me from doing anything but the required annual visits, etc.  I’m having to hold out to get sick or whatever until the less expensive–but still not inexpensive–Medicare becomes available to me in the fall.

 

So now the narrative is that my city is supposedly to  blame as the supposedly evil place that gave it to the rest of the country because Mardi Gras.  This is from the NYT.  We’ve reached the demonize the cities with all those people of color portion of deflecting blame from the Orange Snot Blob.

In a grim irony, there is a rising suspicion among medical experts that the crisis may have been accelerated by Mardi Gras — the weekslong citywide celebration that unfolds in crowded living rooms, ballrooms and city streets — which this year culminated on Feb. 25.

It is the city’s trademark expression of joy — and an epidemiologist’s nightmare.

“I think it all boils down to Mardi Gras,” said Dr. F. Brobson Lutz Jr., a former health director of New Orleans and a specialist in infectious disease. “The greatest free party in the world was a perfect incubator at the perfect time.”

The feeling is at once familiar and distinct for a city whose history is punctuated with epic disasters, including the deadly yellow fever outbreaks of 1853 and 1905, and Hurricane Katrina a century later in 2005. Once again, New Orleanians are afraid they could be neglected by national leaders, only this time because the coronavirus is a worldwide calamity.

“This hurricane’s coming for everybody,” said Broderick Bagert, an organizer with the community organizing group Together Louisiana.

Mr. Edwards, who, like most other Louisiana governors, has extensive experience dealing with hurricanes, said the state was struggling to confront this new kind of disaster. “We don’t really have a playbook on this one,” he said.

“If you have a flood or a hurricane it’s only a small part of the country that’s affected, so you can get the full attention of the federal government and you can get a lot of help from sister states,” he said. “That’s not possible right now because this is in every state in our country.”

As a kind of ghostliness settles over a locked-down nation, the effect of social distancing feels particularly jarring in New Orleans, a city that runs on intimacy — from the deep webs of kinship and geography that connect families and neighborhoods to the fleeting threads that bind strangers and regulars in storied restaurants and packed, sweaty clubs.

 

The fact that the Trumpist regime underplayed this disease at a time it was arriving in places like Seattle, Boston, NYC and yes, New Orleans cannot be underplayed right now. Nor can the fact that Trump refuses to truly act to flatten the curve and step up the production of hospital supplies and ICU beds in first, the worst hit cities, and then seeing that it continues to go to the next wave of places.

None of our cities are to blame. The Federal Government clearly botched this from the very beginning.

The Next Coronavirus Hot Spot: Louisiana Races to Prepare for the ...

From WAPO: “From party to pandemic: New Orleans fears Mardis Gras fueled coronavirus outbreak as cases spike”.

More than a million dancing, singing, bead-catching celebrants packed the streets of the French Quarter and other venues across this city in the weeks leading up to the sprawling open-air party that is Mardi Gras.

There was little worry during the February festivities about the new virus that had infected a few dozen people in other parts of the country. The city’s top health official believed the flu “is far more dangerous right now than the coronavirus,” she told the Times-Picayune/New Orleans Advocate newspaper.

Thirteen days later, on March 9, Louisiana reported its first case of covid-19. Then came another, and another. Clusters broke out in several nursing homes. The cases popping up across the state were not easily linked to each other, meaning that a galloping community spread was already underway.

A terrible realization began to dawn on residents and political leaders: The famous bonhomie of the world’s biggest free party may have helped supercharge one of the most rapid spreads of the coronavirus, which is now threatening to overwhelm Louisiana’s health-care system and potentially make the state one of the next epicenters.

“We had people from all over the world. We also had the spread of this virus, and people did not realize it was spreading,” said Rebekah Gee, a former state health secretary now on the faculty of Louisiana State University’s medical school. “So people not only caught beads, but they caught covid-19.”

As of Thursday, Louisiana had reported 2,305 cases and 83 deaths related to coronavirus — with about two-thirds of the cases and deaths in the New Orleans metro area. During the first two weeks of known infections, the virus was coursing through Louisiana at an extraordinarily rapid pace, according to an analysis by Gary Wagner, a professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He found that the rate of growth in that period was the highest in the world.

Gov. Edwards: 'Our Trajectory Is Basically The Same As What They ...

One of the biggest barriers to progress is Jared Kushner’s Shadow Task force which CREW says violates multiple laws.

Jared Kushner’s shadow coronavirus task force appears to be violating both the Presidential Records Act (PRA) and Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) by using private email accounts with no assurance their communications are being preserved and by meeting in secret, according to a letter sent today by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). The failure of the White House to comply with any of the PRA and FACA requirements leaves the public in the dark about the work the shadow task force has done and the influence of private industries on the administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Kushner’s task force, composed of a team of allies from within the government and representatives from private industries, has operated adjacent to the official government task force spearheaded by Vice President Pence. With confusion over the shadow task force’s role and who its members are, and reports that the members of the shadow task force communicate using private email accounts, CREW has reason to believe the White House is not creating and maintaining accurate and complete records of the shadow task force’s activities as required by the PRA.

“If there was ever a time we need records and transparency, this is it. As the seriousness of this pandemic continues to grow, the public needs to understand who in the White House is making policy decisions, who from private industry is influencing those decisions, and how decisions to address this pandemic are being made,” said CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder. “After this crisis has passed, we will need to be able to look back at how this administration responded to the situation and have the full picture of what was going on behind closed doors in order to understand what we could do better in the future.”

The PRA requires the president and his staff to document, preserve and maintain records of “the activities, deliberations, decisions, and policies that reflect the performance of the President’s constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties.” With Kushner at the head, the shadow task force’s development and implementation of federal strategies to address the coronavirus pandemic fall within these requirements.

The shadow task force also appears to fall under FACA provisions, which are triggered whenever a committee within the Executive Office of the President is advising the president and is not “composed wholly of full-time, or permanent part-time, officers or employees of the Federal Government.” The FACA prohibits such committees from being “inappropriately influenced by the appointing authority or by any special interest.” Contrary to the FACA’s requirements, the shadow task force is operating in secret, with neither the members of Kushner’s committee nor their interests fully disclosed to the public. Understanding and preserving the committee’s actions and conversations will be key in understanding how the administration ultimately decided to approach its COVID-19 response efforts.

Notice the part about Kushner’s private emails.

Photos: New Orleans' French Quarter Deserted With COVID-19 Social ...

Trump has pulled back the offer of ventilators to NYC, demonized Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, and now appears to be attacking GM and FORD who are simply waiting for the proper channels to get activated.  WTF?

The White House had been preparing to reveal on Wednesday a joint venture between General Motors and Ventec Life Systems that would allow for the production of as many as 80,000 desperately needed ventilators to respond to an escalating pandemic when word suddenly came down that the announcement was off.

The decision to cancel the announcement, government officials say, came after the Federal Emergency Management Agency said it needed more time to assess whether the estimated cost was prohibitive. That price tag was more than $1 billion, with several hundred million dollars to be paid upfront to General Motors to retool a car parts plant in Kokomo, Ind., where the ventilators would be made with Ventec’s technology.

Government officials said that the deal might still happen but that they are examining at least a dozen other proposals. And they contend that an initial promise that the joint venture could turn out 20,000 ventilators in short order had shrunk to 7,500, with even that number in doubt. Longtime emergency managers at FEMA are working with military officials to sort through the competing offers and federal procurement rules while under pressure to give President Trump something to announce.

But in an interview Thursday night with Sean Hannity, the president played down the need for ventilators.

Fear and uncertainty in New Orleans: A city in the grip of ...

This is an interesting headline from a Michigan: “‘After Trump Attacks Whitmer, She Says Vendors Aren’t Sending Desperately Needed Coronavirus Supplies. “They’re being told not to send stuff to Michigan.”‘  

After President Donald Trump issued scathing comments about Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, saying she’s “not stepping up,” and “doesn’t know what’s going on,” she told WWJ 950 the state is having trouble getting the equipment they need to fight the novel coronavirus.

“What I’ve gotten back is that vendors with whom we’ve procured contracts — They’re being told not to send stuff to Michigan,” Whitmer said live on air. “It’s really concerning, I reached out to the White House last night and asked for a phone call with the president, ironically at the time this stuff was going on.”

The other stuff was Trump speaking with Sean Hannity on FOX News about Whitmer, a Democrat who has said very pointed things about the federal government’s lack of coordinated response to the coronavirus crisis. Trump said of Whitmer, “She is a new governor, and it’s not been pleasant … “We’ve had a big problem with the young — a woman governor. You know who I’m talking about — from Michigan. We don’t like to see the complaints.”

Michigan’s request for disaster assistance has not yet been approved by the White House, and Trump told Hannity he’s still weighing it.

“She doesn’t get it done, and we send her a lot. Now, she wants a declaration of emergency, and, you know, we’ll have to make a decision on that. But Michigan is a very important state. I love the people of Michigan.”

In her public addresses closing schools, bars and restaurants, and issuing a shelter in place order, Whitmer has complained about the federal’s government lack of organization and state assistance, but she told WWJ she has never personally attacked the president.

“It’s very distressing,” she said about Trump’s attack, noting that she was only one of several governors who noted “the federal preparation was concerning.”

But she apparently struck a nerve with the president. And now the question is whether the leader of the free world could possibly take it out on medical professionals, patients and communities who desperately need help.

“I’ve been uniquely singled out,” Whitmer said. “I don’t go into personal attacks, I don’t have time for that, I don’t have energy for that, frankly. All of our focus has to be on COVID-19.”

This continued pettiness ruling our National Public Health Policy and Actions should be called out immediately.  I still believe no press outlet other tha CSPAN should be carrying the Trump’s political and disinformation-laden pressers.  They can edit him out and play the Science portion and quit scaring the rest of us.  But look, he didn’t cancel his damned rallies during the same Mardi Gras period.

So, I guess if me sitting home is the best I can do to help this, here I sit.  Still, we rely heavily on our Congress Critters to do the right thing right now.  You still might want to give them a ring and an earful.  Please be safe!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Monday in my Bubble Read

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

I went to the other timeline for a very brief moment on Saturday and I’m trying to stay in the good timeline for awhile.  Today, we can stay in our bubble.  I’m giving myself permission to believe that most of us that live in this country have just about had enough of the last few years.  I personally have endured enough.  Join me in a bubble with “Gutsy Women” and the book tour that came to New Orleans with its authors Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsean Clinton.  It’s a delightful book and I had a delightful time including getting to sing happy birthday to Hillary and handing her my Krewe of Hillary Campaign button while telling her that all her New Orleans Volunteers wore them proudly.  I will always be with her.   Fellow Hillary Volunteer Sharon Normand caught the moment on the photo at the top here.  Yup, that’s my hand!

But Clinton received a rapturous response Saturday when she and her daughter Chelsea spoke at a sold-out event at St. Charles Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans about “The Book of Gutsy Women — Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience.”

The 450-page book by both mother and daughter profiles more than 100 women, in politics (Shirley Chisholm and Ann Richards), athletics (Abby Wambach and Venus and Serena Williams), medicine (Florence Nightingale and Clara Barton) and other fields, including Ruby Bridges, who integrated an all-white elementary school in New Orleans in 1960.

The 900 people who filled the Uptown church heard stories about famous and little-known women for $45, which included a copy of the book from Octavia Books, which sponsored the event.

“I’ve been a fan of hers for my entire life,” said Jennifer Greene, a New Orleans attorney originally from Little Rock. “I wouldn’t have missed this for the world.”

Neither Clinton mentioned President Donald Trump by name.

The closest came when Chelsea answered a question about the rise of bullying in the United States.

“The bullies are often quoting the president, particularly when girls are being bullied,” Chelsea said. “It’s just so painful to me that his demeaning treatment of women broadly but specifically with my mom and Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi and others is clearly being watched by kids across the country and often has given further motivation to the meanness already there.”

j=NO.hillary.102719.007.jpgIt really was just a conversation about how Chelsea and Hillary had picked the women for the book.  Chelsea told us that that it had been significantly downsized given the original number of essays they had written.  Some of the women were historical and some still lived or had lived recently so there some quite personal stories too.  It was nice to be around nice people talking primarily about nice things.  I long for the days when we could discuss things more politely and civilly.

Here is an excerpt of the Book from CBS “Sunday Morning”.  It’s Hillary’s essay on Margaret Chase Smith. 

When I was a little girl, my family subscribed to Life magazine, which came to our house every week on Friday. When I came home from school, I’d eagerly grab it and lie down on the floor in our living room to read it before I had to set the table for dinner. It was in those pages that I first encountered Senator Margaret Chase Smith, who was the first example I ever remember seeing of a woman elected official. Following her career—from the campaigns that led to her becoming the first woman to serve in both houses of Congress to her history-making candidacy for president of the United States in 1964—shaped my understanding of politics and public service. She embodied the thrill of breaking barriers—and the challenges that come with being “the first.”

Born and raised in Maine, Margaret discovered a passion for politics when her husband, Clyde Harold Smith, was elected to Congress. She campaigned for him and, after he was elected, joined him in Washington. During his first term, he became gravely ill, and Margaret stepped in to fill as many of his obligations as she could. She traveled back and forth between Washington and Maine, appearing at events on behalf of her husband. With Margaret’s help, Clyde was reelected in 1938. His health, however, declined quickly. In the spring of 1940, he put out a statement urging his friends and supporters to stand behind Margaret if he could not run in the upcoming election. “I know of no one who has the full knowledge of my ideas and plans or is as well qualified as she is, to carry on these ideas and my unfinished work for my district.” He died the next day.

Margaret easily won the special election to serve out her husband’s unexpired term. At the time, most of the few women who served in office had been elected or appointed to fill a seat vacated by a husband or father. It was so common it even had a name: “the widow’s mandate.” Though she had never planned on it, Margaret was now the state’s first woman member of Congress. (“Mrs. Smith Goes to Washington,” read one headline.)

Oh, and the Clintons stopped by Melba’s which is probably the most unique restaurant/literacy center/laundromat you’d ever want to see!  And, did I mention the food?    MMMMMMmmm …

On Saturday morning the Creole gumbo was simmering, the daiquiri machines were churning and the dryers were spinning at Melba’s and Wash World, the connected po-boy shop and laundry at Elysian Fields Avenue in New Orleans.

Then the sleek black SUVs pulled up and out stepped former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton, former president Bill Clinton and their daughter Chelsea Clinton.

The political power family was not here to talk politics.

Instead, they were visiting the unique literacy program and family learning initiative that has taken root at Melba’s and Wash World with the support of their foundation. It’s a program they plan to bring nationwide in the months ahead.

Melba’s and Wash World together present a kaleidoscope of local art and New Orleans emblems around the business of doing some laundry and grabbing a quick bite.

Earlier this year, it also debuted its latest feature, the Family Read & Play Space. A colorful niche by the washers and dryers has kid-sized furniture, toys, coloring materials and a collection of books for a wide range of young readers. The aim is to turn the time families spend together on a laundry errand into an investment in a child’s future, strengthening early literacy and engaging their curiosity.

“We’re thrilled with what they’ve done here,” said Hillary Rodham Clinton.

But back to to the book event! They took two questions from the audience.  Both were from little girls.  One of the little girls just wrote you are my president. The other asked about bullying. Chelsea had some great stories and advice.  She’s really a most articulate and impressive young woman.

The event’s most personal moment happened when a 9-year-old child in the audience asked the Clintons how they stand up to mean comments. Chelsea said she has gotten used to getting hate all her life because of who her parents were. People told her when she was 8 years old that they wished she had been aborted. When Bill Clinton was in the White House, everyone from Rush Limbaugh to Saturday Night Live made fun of teenage Chelsea’s appearance.

As painful as that experience was, she’s grateful because it’s left her better able to handle the abuse that many famous women have to deal with in the social media age. Today, she said, the most hateful comments come anti-abortion commenters, because of her pro-choice stance, and anti-vaccination activists, because she’s a professor of public health.

“I’m really thankful that that happened at a young age, because I think that has served me well, particularly in this moment we’re living through when there’s lots, sadly, of ugliness,” Chelsea Clinton said.

Hillary Clinton praised her daughter for always responding with politeness and “cheerful shade.” She said there will always be hate in society; what’s important is that “leaders in a democracy like ours are supposed to be trying to bring people together. They’re certainly not supposed to be fomenting bullying and hatred.”

She quoted what her husband Bill Clinton said in his recent eulogy for U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings: “Freedom cannot last if half of us are supposed to hate the other half about everything.”

Secretary Clinton never explicitly mentioned Donald Trump, the man she lost the 2016 election to, but he lingered as the elephant in the room.

At one point the moderator, Susan Larson, asked her to talk about “the role of anger as a motivating force for women.” Clinton gave a sighing, drawn-out, “OK …” and the entire room burst into laughter and applause.

“I think what’s important here is that the anger that you’re talking about is anger at injustice,” Clinton continued. “It’s anger at inequality… It’s that kind of anger that can motivate the movement into courage and into taking action.”

So, for me, today is a day where I just may continue to leave the TV off. Between watching the service for Elijah Cummings and listening to our last president’s words and then spending Saturday awash with tales of Gutsy Women by Gutsy Women I really want to stay in the bubble today and maybe for awhile longer.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Monday Reads: Right now, we can choose between keeping our Republic or losing it

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

I placed a call to Boomer last night to make sure she had the phone numbers down here for some criminal attorney friends of mine because I was deep into working with folks to start planning protests in New Orleans and an opportunity popped up for this morning. I wasn’t actively planning on getting arrested but it seemed likely that there would be arrests.

I was getting ready to head out when I was stopped by the reminder of a meeting that I had completely forgotten but had to attend. During the meeting helicopters flew low over the house heading downtown. I was really startled. I’ve attended protests and rallies before but I know how important these would be. My spidey sense knew there were going to be arrests and there were. Some guy also tried to run over a protester with a pick up truck.

This sky is still that weird yellow color indicating bad weather approaching as I start looking for local news. The insidious mix of bad policing practices, racism, and an Administration marching us towards Fascism means it is rightly lit. The sky is a sick color.

AG Jeff Sessions–the oldest living confederate widow–and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen–who is sounding more like a character from an Orwell book each passing day–are in New Orleans addressing Monday’s opening session of the National Sheriff’s Association annual conference. Law enforcement and immigration were the topics. Protests were the order of the day. There were 5 arrests.

There was a woman hit and injured by a cursing truck driver who took off unarrested and unfollowed. I rabbled the troops last night so I’m probably back on some list. It’s been since the Nixon years I’ve had that distinction except now I’m on social security and semi-retired. The tits are getting saggy but the ability to know right from wrong has never been stronger. I’m not a university student any more. I am a university professor.

The DHS Secretary is doing what all the women employed in this administration are doing. Lying for the big guy. Gaslighting for the big guy. Signing on to the Direct Express to the lowest hell realm for the big guy.

From HuffPo: “DHS Secretary Says There’s No Family Separation Policy ‘Period’. Last week, DHS announced that nearly 2,000 kids had been separated from their parents during a six-week period ending last month.” It’s mislead the Sheeple Monday. Trump must be assigning them to either Putin or Kim Jong Un for training sessions on Despot Support and Propaganda Techniques.

“This misreporting by members, press and advocacy groups must stop,” Nielsen wrote in a series of tweets Sunday evening. “It is irresponsible and unproductive. As I have said many times before, if you are seeking asylum for your family, there is no reason to break the law and illegally cross between ports of entry.”

We do not have a policy of separating families at the border,” she continued. “Period.”

The Convention Center is about 2 miles down the river road from me. It’s a short bike ride or bus ride there. Louisiana Sheriffs are living up to their image per Raw Story. New Orleans protesters are fierce.

A woman hit by a truck driver while protesting a speech given by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in New Orleans Monday said the man driving was shouting about the demonstrators — and that he wasn’t stopped after colliding with her.

John R. Stanton, a national correspondent for BuzzFeed News, tweeted that Sarah Morrison, the woman struck by the truck, told him the driver “was cursing at protesters before he hit her.” “[New Orleans Police Department] didn’t stop him,” Stanton continued, adding that they took a report from the woman who is shaken by alright after the ordeal.

Here’s some background information from the Raw Story link.

The woman, identified by the New Orleans Times-Picayune as “Sarah Morris,” said she was protesting Sessions’ speech in light of the Trump Justice Department‘s recent policy changes that separate children from their parents when detained by immigration officials.

“This isn’t what our country is about, taking children and caging them and they are doing this in our land,” the woman said. “Where does it go from here? Where does it end?”

The woman also told the Times-Picayune she doesn’t believe she was hit intentionally, and that she suffered a hit on the head and had cuts on her knee that drew blood.

Demonstrators didn’t find out about the attorney general’s speech at the National Sheriffs’ Association or the planned counter-protest until hours before it was slated to begin. He appeared alongside Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA).

Subsequent reports from the protest revealed that police from multiple Louisiana parishes had begun arresting demonstrators.

Raw Story has now included an update.

UPDATE: In a statement to Raw Story, NOPD said it is investigating the driver hitting the protester outside the Sessions speech. Although NOPD interviewed the driver, “no charges have been filed nor have any arrests been made at this time.”

TV station WWLTV is reporting five people have been arrested. It is also reporting on the content of Sessions speech.

Meanwhile, Sessions took the opportunity on stage to show his support for law enforcement, call for longer sentences for criminals and address to controversy at the US-Mexico border where families are being separated by authorities as they illegally enter the country.

“There’s an important conversation in this country about whether we want to be a country of laws or if we want to be a country without borders,” Sessions said. “We cannot and will not encourage people to bring their children – or other children – to the country illegally by giving them immunity in the process.”
Sessions directly addressed the controversy surrounding new video and images of children being detained in cells and cages after their parents are arrested for illegally crossing the border.

“We do not want to separate children from their parents, we do not want parents to bring their children in illegally,” he said. “We can not and will not encourage people to bring their children or other children to the country unlawfully by giving them immunity.”

Sessions continues to gaslight us on the process and existence of asylum.

Over the weekend, I pasted the links and quotes to the Immigration and Custom site where it clearly stated this as the way to seek asylum.

To obtain asylum through the affirmative asylum process you must be physically present in the United States. You may apply for asylum status regardless of how you arrived in the United States or your current immigration status.

You must apply for asylum within one year of the date of their last arrival in the United States, unless you can show:

  • Changed circumstances that materially affect your eligibility for asylum or extraordinary circumstances relating to the delay in filing
  • You filed within a reasonable amount of time given those circumstances.

You may apply for affirmative asylum by submitting Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, to USCIS. See Form I 589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal for instructions on how to file for asylum,.

If your case is not approved and you do not have a legal immigration status, we will issue a Form I-862, Notice to Appear, and forward (or refer) your case to an Immigration Judge at the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). The Immigration Judge conducts a ‘de novo’ hearing of the case. This means that the judge conducts a new hearing and issues a decision that is independent of the decision made by USCIS. If we do not have jurisdiction over your case, the Asylum Office will issue an I-863, Notice of Referral to Immigration Judge, for an asylum-only hearing. See ‘Defensive Asylum Processing With EOIR’ below if this situation applies to you.

Affirmative asylum applicants are rarely detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). You may live in the United States while your application is pending before USCIS. If you are found ineligible, you can remain in the United States while your application is pending with the Immigration Judge. Most asylum applicants are not authorized to work.

I felt I needed to capture all this as it seems disappeared at times.

Former First Lady Laura Bush has penned an editorial. She knows what this policy represents. All good people do of faith and of reason alone. This a take from CBS.

Former first lady Laura Bush criticized the Trump administration over the practice of separating undocumented migrant families, taking children from their parents at the border. “I live in a border state,” Bush wrote in a Washington Post op-ed that was posted Sunday evening. “I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart.”

She continues, “Our government should not be in the business of warehousing children in converted box stores or making plans to place them in tent cities in the desert outside of El Paso.” She called the images “eerily reminiscent of the Japanese American internment camps of World War II, now considered to have been one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history.” (While the images may be similar, the Japanese Americans were, in fact, U.S. citizens who already lived in the United States when they were forcibly removed to internment camps)

For Bush, the practice of separating families threatens our national identity as “a moral nation.”

“We pride ourselves on believing that people should be seen for the content of their character, not the color of their skin. We pride ourselves on acceptance,” she writes. “If we are truly that country, then it is our obligation to reunite these detained children with their parents — and to stop separating parents and children in the first place.”

Though everyone agrees that the U.S. immigration system “isn’t working,” she says, “the injustice of zero tolerance is not the answer.”

It is very rare for Bush, the wife of ex-President George W. Bush, to wade into political controversies, but perhaps this exception is less surprising because it is in keeping with her longtime advocacy for children. In her op-ed, she writes that while the material needs of the migrant children are being met with “beds, toys, crayons, a playground and diaper changes,” at shelters run by by the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement, “the people working at the shelter had been instructed not to pick up or touch the children to comfort them. Imagine not being able to pick up a child who is not yet out of diapers.”

It reminded her of her late mother-in-law, Barbara Bush, who picked up and comforted a young child dying of HIV/AIDS. “She, who after the death of her 3-year-old daughter knew what it was to lose a child, believed that every child is deserving of human kindness, compassion and love,” wrote Laura Bush. “In 2018, can we not as a nation find a kinder, more compassionate and more moral answer to this

You may read her words at WAPO.

It’s clear to nearly ever one that this is a deeply immoral and indefensible position. Yet, every administration official and Trump cult follower are doing everything they can to avoid directly discussing the situation. I’ve never seen such Orwellian pretzel twists of logic and words in my life. If any of this stands, we’re clearly on the road to an autocratic, fascist, dictatorship what ever laws our on our books. The new meme is “come to the table” which buys into the lie that this is a law passed by democrats. What it asks for is a negotiation with a kidnapper, asking for ransom, and demanding an apology for making him do the deed.

Each Republican elected official–including the ones that preface their surrender with some form of objection–is leading us down the path to ruin and evil. What causes this illness? This acceptance of pure unadulterated evil?

Nearly every day, voters have been confronted with heart wrenching stories about immigrant children being separated from their parents upon crossing the border into the United States.

The president incorrectly blames his administration’s policy on Democrats, but regardless of his attempt to pass the responsibility, self-identified Republicans have his back, according to a new Ipsos poll done exclusively for The Daily Beast.

The poll of roughly 1,000 adults aged 18 and over, and conducted June 14-15, asked respondents if they agreed with the following statement: “It is appropriate to separate undocumented immigrant parents from their children when they cross the border in order to discourage others from crossing the border illegally.”

Of those surveyed, 27 percent of the overall respondents agreed with it, while 56% disagreed with the statement. Yet, Republicans leaned slightly more in favor, with 46% agreeing with the statement and 32 percent disagreeing. Meanwhile, 14 percent of Democrats surveyed supported it and only 29% of Independents were in favor.

The sample, according to Ipsos, included 339 Democrats, 335 Republicans and 204 Independents.

On Saturday, President Trump continued to falsely assert that Democrats were to blame for the horrific stories of families being torn apart.

From WAPO: “Trump team cannot get its story straight on separating migrant families” Go look at this Orwellian Laundry list of quotes.

You may watch the speeches from Sessions, Nielsen, and the shame of Louisiana, Congressman Steve KKK Scalise here.

You may read about the even more shameful Trump words here.

Trump continued to cast blame on Democrats Monday, as he detoured from planned remarks on U.S. space policy to defend his administration’s policies. “I say it’s very strongly the Democrats’ fault,” he said at the White House.

“The United States will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility,” he added. “Not on my watch.”

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The one Republican taking action is the Republican Governor of Massachusetts. From WGBH: “Baker Cancels National Guard Deployment To Border, Citing ‘Inhumane’ Treatment Of Children And Families.”

Governor Charlie Baker is canceling the deployment of Massachusetts National Guard troops to the border in light of recent reports about the Trump Administration’s practice of separating immigrant children from families.

“Governor Baker directed the National Guard not to send any assets or personnel to the Southwest border today because the federal government’s current actions are resulting in the inhumane treatment of children,” said Baker communications director Lizzy Guyton in a statement sent to WGBH News.

State officials announced early in June that Massachusetts National Guard troops would be deployed to the border to support in security operations. One helicopter, aircrew, and military analysts from Massachusetts were set to head to the border at the end of June.

The crew was to “provide aviation reconnaissance to offer an additional tool for observation and tracking of unlawful activity in the region,” according to the Mass National Guard.

The cancellation comes amid increased scrutiny over the Trump Administration’s practice of separating children from families at the border, in some cases detaining children in makeshift facilities and, in one facility in Texas, cages. The practice has been condemned by the United Nations, a coalition of Catholic bishops, and numerous public officials, including former First Lady Laura Bush.

Previously, when asked about the Trump Administration’s practice of separation of children and families on Boston Public Radio in May, Baker said he had “ a huge problem with that.”

The deployment was a response to a proclamation signed by President Trump in April calling on National Guard troops to assist in securing the border. The request was made by invoking a statute of U.S. law known as “Title 32,” which allows governors to review requests for National Guard troops and deploy at their own determination, and troops remain under state control. (A “Title 10,” request, on the other hand, is involuntary and troops operate under federal control.)

It’s raining now but that odd yellow color remains. Maybe the wisdom beings are pissing on the Convention Center roof. It would be an irony given it would likely enthrall the wanna be despot planted by Russia and angry WiPiPo. Golden showers on his police state.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Memorial Day Reads

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!!

Today used  to be known as Decoration Day.  It originally commemorated Civil War dead but now–as Memorial Day–it honors all who have fallen in service to our country as members of our armed forces. It became a federal holiday in 1971.  I think I write on this each year, but much to my chagrin, the state of Mississippi just recognized the federal holiday recently. It was a highly controversial move.

On May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, called for a nationwide day of remembrance later that month. “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,” he proclaimed.

The date of Decoration Day, as he called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle.

On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there.

Many Northern states held similar commemorative events and reprised the tradition in subsequent years; by 1890 each one had made Decoration Day an official state holiday. Southern states, on the other hand, continued to honor their dead on separate days until after World War I.

There are states in the South that still celebrate the Confederate version of Memorial Day.

In Georgia the day has been called “State Holiday” since 2015, when Confederate Memorial Day and Robert E. Lee’s birthday were struck from the state calendar. The state holiday list says the official holiday is April 26 but will be observed this year on Monday, April 24.

New Orleans opened the still deep and contentious wounds of the Confederacy by deciding  what to do with some of our Confederate symbols this month.  Mayor Mitch Landrieu and the city tore down four of the most visible monuments built by Lost Causers years after the surrender of the South. He commemorated the occasion with this speech. This is an interview from NPR he gave shortly after the speech.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MITCH LANDRIEU: These statues are not just stone and metal. They’re not just innocent remembrances of a benign history. These monuments celebrate a fictional sanitized Confederacy, ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, ignoring the terror that it actually stood for.

CORNISH: New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu spoke last Friday after the city took down the last of four Confederate monuments. General Robert E. Lee was the final one to go. It was an address about the decision, about the history of slavery in the city. It was an address about race. A week later, people are still talking about it, dissecting sections of the speech.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LANDRIEU: This is not about a naive quest to solve all of our problems at once. This is, however, about showing the whole world that we as a city, that we as a people are able to acknowledge, to understand, to reconcile and, more importantly, choose a better future for ourselves, making straight what has been crooked and making right what was wrong.

He was interviewed by Chuck Todd for MTP.

I’d like to continue quoting the interview from NPR.

CORNISH: I want to quote a letter to the editors of the Times-Picayune, a writer, a citizen named Charles Foy of Madisonville. He says you single-handedly managed to turn innocuous city landmarks into battlegrounds and that these monuments have stood in place for many years. He goes on to say, I can guarantee you that very few people, black or white, gave them a second thought. This is not an uncommon opinion.

LANDRIEU: Well, it’s a silly opinion. I mean that’s the argument that says it all. Mayor, we don’t know anybody that cares about these monuments. That’s because we live a block away and a world apart. And you know, this story that we told was not just about the monuments. You know, the context is that New Orleans got destroyed after Katrina. We’ve been rebuilding our whole city. And as we built back all of our schools and all of our health clinics and all of our hospitals and all of our businesses, we began to think about our public spaces and whether those public spaces really represented who we were as a people. And those monuments stuck out on public spaces like a sore thumb.

And so I asked the people of New Orleans just to think about that, and that speech was really to the people of New Orleans. It wasn’t a speech to the rest of the nation. So it’s quite a surprise that the speech has gotten so much attention across the country. But this is – the issue of race is a complicated issue for the country that we have to walk through. You can’t go around it. You can’t go over it. You can’t go under it. You have to go right through it, and it’s painful.

CORNISH: Is there a particular moment when you started to think about actually taking the monuments down?

LANDRIEU: Yeah, there was a specific moment. (Laughter) I was having breakfast with Wynton Marsalis about three years ago, and he and I were thinking about what the 300th anniversary of the city would look like, which is, by the way, next year.

And I was trying to prepare the city about how to develop itself and get ready for the future. And he said, you ought to think about those monuments. And I said, you’re crazy. I’ve walked by those monuments every day. And he said, no, I want you to really think about it. And I told him I would.

The removal of the statues came at odd times with the jobbers wearing masks and bullet proof vests.  There was heavy police presence due to a huge contingent of protesters that settled in for awhile.   It was the usual suspects.

It seems like many generations after the Civil War we still have white people trying to make a last stand on a wound that does not heal for any one.  Just as I cannot understand supporting “heritage” of a group of enslavers, I cannot fully understand the struggles of those descended from slaves. Even though I descended from old slave-owing families, all of my family fought on the Union side and was solidly against slavery so the narrative with which I grew up did not include a celebration of the confederacy.

Supporters and opponents of removing New Orleans’ Confederate monuments met Sunday afternoon (May 7) at Lee Circle, in a tense and angry confrontation that included some scuffles during a day of demonstrations.

Police quickly broke up a couple of fights, and the dueling protests appeared mostly peaceful. But heated words, slurs and profanities were exchanged, as demonstrators on opposite sides held Confederate flags and protest signs.

A march led by Take ‘Em Down NOLA, which supports the removal of the Confederate monuments, brought hundreds of people from Congo Square to Lee Circle, where they came face-to-face with groups of monument supporters who had been there since the morning. Police said more than 700 people were involved in the demonstrations.

Those advocating the removal of the statues chanted slogans like “Go home racists,” and “Hey hey, ho ho, white supremacy’s got to go.”

On the other side, a monument supporter shouted over a megaphone: “We built this country. If you don’t like it, there are plenty of other non-white countries you can go to!”

I’ve actually seen friendships end and family feuds heat up over the removal of the statues. I’m a preservationist and historian at heart and have been more active and focused on preserving, restoring, and showing our civil rights sites. I’m still waiting for the statue to appear of little Ruby Bridges and the promised memorial at the site where Homer Plessey sat down in a white part of a train. Both of these are within blocks of my home.  I also was probably one of the few people fuming when this same mayor and city council voted to destroy the Woolworth’s building with its historical lunch counter.  I’m still waiting for the statues in memorial of the victims of lynchings too. But, right now, that’s no one’s focus.

The Smithsonian Magazine had a piece on Richmond’s dealings with Confederate History. The city’s monuments became a place of protest when they added a statue of Arthur Ashe in the 90s. Their struggle has been different.

In the past couple of weeks, how we remember and commemorate the Civil War has undergone seismic shifts. The city of New Orleans is in the process of removing four monuments that celebrate Confederate leaders and an 1874 attempt by white supremacists to topple Louisiana’s biracial Reconstruction government. In Charlottesville, Virginia, a court injunction temporarily halted the city’s plans to sell its Robert E. Lee monument while alt-right leader Richard Spencer led a torchlight protest this past weekend reminiscent of Klan rallies of the past. White supremacist support for the Lee statue will likely strengthen and broaden the call to remove this and other Confederate monuments throughout the city. Curiously, however, the former capital of the Confederacy, Richmond, Virginia, has not seen a similar outcry. Why?

The city boasts some of the most significant sites of Confederate commemoration. Its famed Monument Avenue is studded with massive statues of Generals Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and J.E.B. Stuart along with the president of the confederacy, Jefferson Davis. Thousands of Confederate soldiers and officers, and Davis himself, are buried in the city’s Hollywood Cemetery—a sacred space for white Southerners grappling with defeat. Veterans’ reunions, battlefields, monument dedications, parades and the opening of the Confederate Museum in 1896 helped solidify the city itself as a shrine to Confederate memory by the beginning of the 20th century. If ever a city was ripe for calls to remove Confederate monuments, it is Richmond.

But beyond scattered acts of vandalism, locals have remained largely quiet. Part of the reason why is that over the years, the city has recognized changing perceptions of the Confederacy—and officials have addressed concerns that public spaces devoted to the city’s past do not sufficiently reflect Richmond’s diversity.

In the past few decades, Richmond has dedicated new monuments that have greatly expanded its commemorative landscape. A statue of homegrown tennis star Arthur Ashe joined Monument Avenue in 1996—arguably one of its most high-profile and controversial additions. While some Richmonders welcomed the statue, others argued that it would “disrupt the theme of the avenue,” and both its supporters and detractors mocked the statue itself.

In 2003, the city dedicated a monument of Abraham Lincoln and his son to mark the president’s April 1865 visit following the abandonment of Richmond by the Confederate government. The dedication helped re-interpret Lincoln’s visit as a symbol of slavery’s end as opposed to the entrance of a conquering tyrant. While in Richmond just 11 days before his assassination, Lincoln famously corrected newly freed slaves who knelt at his feet: “Don’t kneel to me,” Lincoln responded. “That is not right. You must kneel to God only, and thank Him for the liberty you will afterward enjoy.” Four years after the Lincoln statue was erected, the city installed the Richmond Slavery Reconciliation Statue, a 15-foot bronze sculpture depicting two enslaved individuals embracing not far from the center of Richmond’s former slave market.

So, now the city of Baltimore and its mayor Catherine Pugh will try to find a path for a city with a history of racial divides and strife.  Maryland wasn’t even a Confederate state yet still has signs of the Lost Cause.

New Orleans recently took down its Confederate monuments. Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh says she is considering doing the same thing in the city.

“The city does want to remove these,” Pugh told The Baltimore Sun. “We will take a closer look at how we go about following in the footsteps of New Orleans.”

Before former Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake left office last year, she added signs in front of four Confederate monuments in Baltimore. The signs said, in part, that the monuments were “part of a propaganda campaign of national pro-Confederate organizations to perpetuate the beliefs of white supremacy, falsify history and support segregation and racial intimidation.”

But Rawlings-Blake stopped short of removing the monuments. She cited costs and logistical concerns, and left the decision to Pugh, who took office in December.

The City Commission has recommended the removal of two specific monuments.

University of Maryland law professor Larry S. Gibson, a commission member, proposed the plan to remove the Roger B. Taney Monument on Mount Vernon Place and the Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson Monument in the Wyman Park Dell.

Gibson said Taney’s statute should be dismantled because his authorship of the Dred Scott Supreme Court decision was “pure racism.” The decision held that African-Americans could not be American citizens.

“In my view, he deserves a place in infamy,” Gibson said of the fifth chief justice of the United States.

Gibson also argued that Baltimore has a disproportionate number of monuments to the Confederacy on its public property. He said that more than twice as many Marylanders fought for the Union as the Confederacy during the Civil War, but the city has only one public monument to the Union.

“Three monuments to the Confederacy is out of proportion,” Gibson said. “Probably a majority of Baltimoreans think there should be none to the Confederacy.”

The commissioners recommended that the statute of Lee and Jackson be offered to the U.S. Park Service to place in Chancellorsville, Va. The two Confederate generals last met in person shortly before the Battle of Chancellorsville in 1863.

The commission voted to keep the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Mount Royal Avenue and the Confederate Women’s Monument on West University Parkway, but to add context. Members said they needed to meet again to decide exactly what context they wanted to add.

So, there’s the past.  Axios has the numbers we should know for Memorial Day Present.

Good Monday morning, and wishing a peaceful, restful Memorial Day to you and yours. Pausing to remember a part of the beating heart of America that too often eludes us — the fallen, and the serving:

  •  U.S. military casualties from Operation Iraqi Freedom: 4,411.
  • U.S. military casualties in Afghanistan, from Operation Enduring Freedom: 2,216.
  • U.S. military personnel: 2.1 million (active duty: 1.3 million; Reserves and National Guard: 800,000).
  • Deployed overseas: 200,000.
  • About 20 veterans a day commit suicide, per the Veterans Administration: In 2014, the latest year available, more than 7,400 veterans took their own lives, accounting for 18% of all suicides in America. Veterans make up less than 9% of the U.S. population.”
  • “The Pentagon reported [last year] that 265 active-duty service members killed themselves last year, continuing a trend of unusually high suicide rates that have plagued the U.S. military for at least seven years.”
  • The takeaway, from AP: “Veterans groups say a growing military-civilian disconnect contributes to a feeling that Memorial Day has been overshadowed. More than 12% of the U.S. population served in the armed forces during World War II. That’s down to less than one-half of a percent today, guaranteeing more Americans aren’t personally acquainted with a soldier, sailor, airman or Marine.”

There were very few civil war veterans alive when I was born.  The last few of them died when I was still in diapers.  Even as a child I was confused by the number of white people that just seemed to regale the entire Confederacy, its treason, its stain of enslaving human beings, and the entire mess created necessitating the civil rights movements that were chronicled daily on my black and white TV.  As a woman now on the verge of getting her first Social Security check, the fact we still seem to be fighting this war perplexes me to no end.    But then, we now have a President that probably would have happily palled around with Jeff Davis and then entered the South as a Carpetbagger with equal ease.

May-20-1899-Diasies-gathered-for-Decoration-dayThis is President Lincoln’s last address and it was on the reconstruction.  I thought I’d share parts of it with you.

I have been shown a letter on this subject, supposed to be an able one, in which the writer expresses regret that my mind has not seemed to be definitely fixed on the question whether the seceding States, so called, are in the Union or out of it. It would perhaps, add astonishment to his regret, were he to learn that since I have found professed Union men endeavoring to make that question, I have purposely forborne any public expression upon it. As appears to me that question has not been, nor yet is, a practically material one, and that any discussion of it, while it thus remains practically immaterial, could have no effect other than the mischievous one of dividing our friends. As yet, whatever it may hereafter become, that question is bad, as the basis of a controversy, and good for nothing at all–a merely pernicious abstraction.

We all agree that the seceded States, so called, are out of their proper relation with the Union; and that the sole object of the government, civil and military, in regard to those States is to again get them into that proper practical relation. I believe it is not only possible, but in fact, easier to do this, without deciding, or even considering, whether these States have ever been out of the Union, than with it. Finding themselves safely at home, it would be utterly immaterial whether they had ever been abroad. Let us all join in doing the acts necessary to restoring the proper practical relations between these States and the Union; and each forever after, innocently indulge his own opinion whether, in doing the acts, he brought the States from without, into the Union, or only gave them proper assistance, they never having been out of it.

The amount of constituency, so to speak, on which the new Louisiana government rests, would be more satisfactory to all, if it contained fifty, thirty, or even twenty thousand, instead of only about twelve thousand, as it does. It is also unsatisfactory to some that the elective franchise is not given to the colored man. I would myself prefer that it were now conferred on the very intelligent, and on those who serve our cause as soldiers. Still the question is not whether the Louisiana government, as it stands, is quite all that is desirable. The question is, “Will it be wiser to take it as it is, and help to improve it; or to reject, and disperse it?” “Can Louisiana be brought into proper practical relation with the Union sooner by sustaining, or by discarding her new State government?”

Some twelve thousand voters in the heretofore slave-state of Louisiana have sworn allegiance to the Union, assumed to be the rightful political power of the State, held elections, organized a State government, adopted a free-state constitution, giving the benefit of public schools equally to black and white, and empowering the Legislature to confer the elective franchise upon the colored man. Their Legislature has already voted to ratify the constitutional amendment recently passed by Congress, abolishing slavery throughout the nation. These twelve thousand persons are thus fully committed to the Union, and to perpetual freedom in the state–committed to the very things, and nearly all the things the nation wants–and they ask the nations recognition and it’s assistance to make good their committal. Now, if we reject, and spurn them, we do our utmost to disorganize and disperse them. We in effect say to the white men “You are worthless, or worse–we will neither help you, nor be helped by you.” To the blacks we say “This cup of liberty which these, your old masters, hold to your lips, we will dash from you, and leave you to the chances of gathering the spilled and scattered contents in some vague and undefined when, where, and how.” If this course, discouraging and paralyzing both white and black, has any tendency to bring Louisiana into proper practical relations with the Union, I have, so far, been unable to perceive it. If, on the contrary, we recognize, and sustain the new government of Louisiana the converse of all this is made true. We encourage the hearts, and nerve the arms of the twelve thousand to adhere to their work, and argue for it, and proselyte for it, and fight for it, and feed it, and grow it, and ripen it to a complete success. The colored man too, in seeing all united for him, is inspired with vigilance, and energy, and daring, to the same end. Grant that he desires the elective franchise, will he not attain it sooner by saving the already advanced steps toward it, than by running backward over them? Concede that the new government of Louisiana is only to what it should be as the egg is to the fowl, we shall sooner have the fowl by hatching the egg than by smashing it? Again, if we reject Louisiana, we also reject one vote in favor of the proposed amendment to the national Constitution. To meet this proposition, it has been argued that no more than three fourths of those States which have not attempted secession are necessary to validly ratify the amendment. I do not commit myself against this, further than to say that such a ratification would be questionable, and sure to be persistently questioned; while a ratification by three-fourths of all the States would be unquestioned and unquestionable.

I repeat the question, “Can Louisiana be brought into proper practical relation with the Union sooner by sustaining or by discarding her new State Government?

What has been said of Louisiana will apply generally to other States. And yet so great peculiarities pertain to each state, and such important and sudden changes occur in the same state; and withal, so new and unprecedented is the whole case, that no exclusive, and inflexible plan can be safely prescribed as to details and colatterals [sic]. Such exclusive, and inflexible plan, would surely become a new entanglement. Important principles may, and must, be inflexible.

This brings me to one of the removed monuments.  The vile one was undoubtedly the Liberty Place Monument.  It celebrates the bloody undoing of what Lincoln said of Louisiana and her government.

The Battle of Liberty Place Monument is a 35-foot stone obelisk that was erected in 1891 in the middle of Canal Street in honor of the “Battle of Liberty Place,” an 1874 insurrection of the Crescent City White League, a group of all white, mostly Confederate veterans, who battled against the racially integrated New Orleans Metropolitan Police and state militia.

The monument was meant to honor the members of the White League who died during the battle. In 1932, the City of New Orleans added a plaque to the monument, explicitly outlining its white supremacist sympathies, which explained that the battle was fought for the “overthrow of carpetbag government, ousting the usurpers” and that “the national election of November 1876 recognized white supremacy in the South and gave us our state.”

This was a monument to the White League. It was an attempt to overthrow the government of Louisiana and many police officers were killed.Take time to think about that inscription on its base.  You may also find the link to a video interview of descendant of one of those participating in that riot.  Listen to him say that the civil war was about states rights and never about slavery and that there was election fraud like today. It’s the one up there next to the photo of the inscription. This narrative is the narrative of the Lost Cause. It is the narrative of men like David Duke.

On Sept. 14, 1874, the White League stormed the New Orleans police station in an attempted coup d’état to remove the governor of New Orleans, Republican William Kellogg, and replace him with John McEnery, who had been his unsuccessful Democratic challenger in the 1872 election. The White League defeated the city’s integrated police department, and took control of the city for a couple of days before President Ulysses S. Grant sent down federal troops to reclaim the city. The White League quickly surrendered the city upon the arrival of federal troops, and the Battle of Liberty Place monument exists to remember the 100 White League members who died in the battle. That is to say, it exists to celebrate those who died in a failed coup with the explicit purpose of returning Louisiana to a white dominated society.

The White League, formed in 1874, was one of the last white terrorist groups that sprang up during Reconstruction. The Ku Klux Klan started in 1865 upon the completion of the war. The White League was founded by Christopher Columbus Nash, a former Confederate soldier who was a prisoner of war during the Civil War. On April 13, 1873, Nash led a white militia in the Colfax Massacre that killed approximately 150 freed blacks. The massacre erupted following white fury at the election of Kellogg to the governorship in 1872. This battle is one of the single biggest massacres of Reconstruction. Soon thereafter Nash formed the White League.

“Having solely in view the maintenance of our hereditary civilization and Christianity menaced by a stupid Africanization, we appeal to men of our race, of whatever language or nationality, to unite with us against that supreme danger,” read the platform of the White League.

Despite their clear racist and terroristic foundations, they represented a more palatable form of terror than the KKK. The White League was more mainstream than the KKK. This brand of terror had become normalized over the previous decade. The White League openly collaborated with the KKK, Southern Democratic politicians, and white business owners who facilitated the Redeemers movement to terrorize freed blacks and Union sympathizers to swing elections in favor of the Democratic Party.

President Grant was so alarmed by the threat to democracy that the White League posed that he wrote about them in his 1874 State of the Union Address: “White Leagues and other societies were formed; large quantities of arms and ammunition were imported and distributed to these organizations; military drills, with menacing demonstrations, were held, and with all these murders enough were committed to spread terror among those whose political action was to be suppressed, if possible, by these intolerant and criminal proceedings.”

d6369de50b69253980e7506ca02fd87dWhat gets me thinking when I read about all of these deaths is that the morality of our Commander-in-Chief and his/her level headed, informed life-and-death decisions create the basis of what constitutes how we sacrifice our public servants and protectors. Lincoln and Grant knew what it was like to send men to certain death and you can see that gravity in their actions, speeches and lives.  You can feel it when you read about their mistakes and their weaknesses.  You can see it in Lincoln’s depression and in Grant’s heaving drinking.  As Americans, we have always tried to use the lives of our armed forces fully knowing that we’re creating Gold Star Families and fresh graves in Arlington.

Who will be sacrificed by this administration and for what cause will we memorialize them?