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?


Lundi Gras Reads

dscn0392It’s a beautiful day for Carnival Season today!

It’s warm and sunny!  We’re so overrun by tourists that it’s not the weather keeping me inside.  It’s work and the Krewe of Chad who all seem to be obnoxiously planted in the nasty Air BNBs around me. This season totally lacks the intimacy and family feeling of the Katrina one and the ones from years ago, that’s for sure!  The pictures on this post are ones I took at Endymion 2006 which was the first Carnival season after Hurricane Katrina.

Here’s a friend of mine telling you all about our Chad problem.  They’re a pesky tribe of entitled 20-30 something white men that are related to “bros” but not quite in the same category.  You can also find the definition of “Chad” in the urban dictionary.  Our Chads have turned parade going into a tail gating experience where they literally shove small children and families out of the way to plant their tents and keggers.

A stereotypical douchebag asshole/jock/frat boy/ with an ego the size of the planet, who needs a swift roundhouse kick to the jaw, ala Chuck Norris style (though if actually issued by Norris, this punishment may be too extreme, even s of for a chad). Basically, they think they’re the best at everything, love to talk shit, and are a general nuisance in every way possible.

A chad is somewhat easy to sight, as they’re everywhere, but the only way to know for sure is to talk to/observe one. They typically dress in a similar manner to a “bro”, though are not in fact bros. They either wear the latest fashionable clothing from big brands, or highly expensive graphic tees, most likely of the MMA (Mixed martial arts) variety. They most likely sport a tribal tattoo, or something of the like. They most commonly drive V6 Mustangs, S10 pickup trucks, or crotch rockets.

Chads can be found in large numbers at Frat houses, local hipster bars, and nu metal concerts (which are obviously real metal shows…). They often travel in groups of a few, but can be found in swarms at these establishments. Other than being cocky and talking shit, other popular pastimes of chads include, but are not limited to: beer pong, racing hondas, UFC, and blasting nu metal on their stereo because they think it makes them look like a badass.

dscn0382The Endymion parade on the Saturday night before Mardi Gras is usually ground zero for the Chads.  This weekend it took a deadly twist when a highly intoxicated Chad drove his pick up truck into a group of parade goers injuring small children and adults.  Thankfully, no one was killed.  Of course, all the right wingers initially screamed it was a terrorist.But no, it was just a Fucked up Chad in a Pick up Fuck as white as can be. His grandma and his Daddy think some evil man gave him a drink that kicked his blood alcohol up to over 3x the legal limit because, obviously, he’s a “good” kid. That means he’s a white boy and they just get led astray every now and then rather than do these constantly stupid things that make them feel good and ruin every one else’s life.

The man accused of being behind the wheel, 25-year-old Neilson Rizzuto of Paradis, had his first court appearance Sunday. His bond was set at $125,000. Rizzuto has so far been booked on two counts of first-degree negligent vehicular injuring, one count of hit-and-run driving causing serious injury and one count of reckless operation of a vehicle. Orleans Parish Magistrate Commissioner Robert Blackburn said he based the bond amount on anticipation of more charges.

The latest figures from officials say that Rizzuto’s truck struck up to 32 pedestrians, sending at least 21 to area hospitals for treatment. While an NOPD statement said there were “at least 28 victims, 21 of whom were treated at local hospitals, Rizzuto’s arrest documents said 32 people were struck. NOPD spokesman Beau Tidwell said the casualty list was “fluid.”

dscn0373Fortunately–as I said–no one has died but it appears that five still have very serious injuries I’m really hoping that the city will rethink its strategy of pimping us out like it’s all good. I’ve never seen so many tourists all over the neighborhoods.  I have no idea how the police are coping with it.  Usually, they’re concentrated in a few places.  I feel invaded here.

Tomorrow is Mardi Gras and the State of the Union Address.  I cannot bring myself to blog or watch it.  Here are some reads to indicate why the so-called President will only be an illegitimate Russian Usurper to me.  We have a problem with more than Chads.  We have a problem with White Male Terrorism and Kremlin Caligulia is a conduit and catalyst.  How many times have we written about this and discussed it only to find it ignored and enabled by Republicans?

Adam W. Purinton was charged with first-degree murder Thursday in the shooting death of Srinivas Kuchibhotla, a 32-year-old systems engineer from India. Purinton, a 51-year-old white man, allegedly shot Kuchibhotla and two other men at Austin’s Bar and Grill in Olathe, Kansas, Wednesday night.

According to one witness, Purinton’s attack was motivated by bias. The Navy veteran reportedly shouted, “Get out of my country,” before opening fire on Kuchibhotla and another Indian engineer, Alok Madasani, who is 32. Purinton also shot a third victim, a 24-year-old white man named Ian Grillot, who stepped in to intervene.

“[It] wasn’t right,” Grillot — who is in stable condition, along with Madasani — said in a video obtained by the Kansas City Star. “I didn’t want [Purinton] to potentially go after somebody else.”

If Purinton’s attack was indeed spurred by xenophobia, then Wednesday’s shooting was an act of terrorism. At a time when anti-Muslim hate crimes are rising across the United States and President Donald Trump is ordering roundups of undocumented immigrants and banning Muslims from entering the country under the pretense of national security, there are few more potent forms of political violence than the kind committed by white Americans against non-whites, Muslims and immigrants.

This is not a new phenomenon. White terrorism has shaped the U.S. in countless ways, seen and unseen, for years. But in their rush to paint Muslims and immigrants as the most pressing threat to Americans’ safety, many whites and conservatives refuse to admit that homegrown white terrorism has been a threat for much longer — and with a much higher death toll.

dscn0359The White House has been silent and still plans on instructing law enforcement to focus on a small piece of our violence problem.

Earlier this month, for example, at the Louvre Museum in Paris, a young man attacked a group of soldiers: Wielding a machete, he ran at them shouting in Arabic, “Allahu akbar.” Police shot and subdued the suspect, who was taken into custody with serious injuries. The attempted attack placed terrorism back in the headlines of French politics, renewing fears and concerns around security and immigration. Here in the United States, President Donald Trump used the incident to justify his exclusionary policies toward Muslim immigrants and refugees. “A new radical Islamic terrorist has just attacked in Louvre Museum in Paris. Tourists were locked down,” said Trump on Twitter. “France on edge again. GET SMART U.S.” This was of a piece with statements Trump made in the wake of incidents in Nice, France, Berlin, and other attacks overseas claimed by militant Islamist groups.

There was no such statement about the two men in Kansas. No condemnation of the racial violence that grievously wounded an American and claimed the life of a law-abiding legal resident. But then, Trump is rarely interested in those incidents. Just two days after the attempted attack in France, 27-year-old Alexandre Bissonnette shot and killed six worshippers at a mosque in Quebec City. Described by activists as a “white nationalist,” Bissonnette was known locally as a right-wing, anti-immigrant troll inspired by extreme right-wing figures like Donald Trump and France’s Marine Le Pen. Where Trump was vocal in the face of the incident in Paris, he was silent following the murders in Quebec. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer called the attack “a terrible reminder of why we must remain vigilant and why the president is taking steps to be proactive instead of reactive when it comes to our nation’s safety and security,” which reads as a defense of the administration’s travel ban. This was an odd choice of words, as Bissonnette was a native-born white Canadian, not a refugee or Muslim immigrant.

dscn0369We continue to experience the suppression of dissent and of truth.  We get nothing on the ongoing attacks on Jewish Cemeteries and bomb threats made to JCCs.  Philadelphia is the latest place to have cemetery desecration.   As usual, American communities of Muslims has been more responsive and helpful than the Republicans.

Here’s more examples of things to file under removing democracy from the country. The White House removed Democratic Governors from a joint Press Conference.

Monday morning, Trump put an end to the bipartisan post National Governors Association and President press availability by shuttling the Democratic governors off site.

The plan is for us to become a military state as far as I can tell.

President Trump will propose a federal budget that dramatically increases defense-related spending by $54 billion while cutting other federal agencies by the same amount, according to an administration official.

The proposal represents a massive increase in federal spending related to national security, while other priorities, especially foreign aid, will see significant reductions.

According to the White House, the defense budget will increase by 10 percent. But without providing any specifics, the administration said that most other discretionary spending programs will be slashed to pay for it. Officials singled out foreign aid, one of the smallest parts of the federal budget, saying it would see “large reductions” in spending.

dscn0399The military budget is by far the largest chunk of change in our budget historically.  The rest are pittance by comparison.  I imagine it all will be announced tomorrow night.

We typically have a SOTU live blog here at Sky Dancing. I’m really sure I’m not up to it and I’m not sure any one else is interested so we can discuss below and see what comes of it. Let us know your thoughts.  Maybe BB or JJ are stronger willed than me.

So, have a good few days!  I’ll take pix if I decide to hit the streets in search of beads and fun!  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Lazy Saturday Reads

4600535791_e2384409c1_bHappy Memorial Day Weekend!

This is the weekend when we reflect on the costs of war.  The holiday is rooted in our own civil war but it gives us a chance to think on those who have come and gone before us.  Memorial Day used to be the day my family would go on picnics to the family plots in all these little towns around Kansas and Missouri armed with every imaginable gardening tool.  I don’t think we were unique in that but I do think it might’ve been a regional thing to do.

I spent a good deal of yesterday in St. Louis Cemetery #1 standing by a shady palm tree near the crypt memorializing those who died in the Battle of New Orleans from the Orleans Battalion.  You’ll see that there were very few dead in this battle on the side of the Republic.

The cemetery dates back to the late 1700s.  It’s probably best known as the resting place of Marie Laveau and a crazy movie scene in Easy Rider.  I was actually there for a funeral for a favorite professor of a friend.  His family were some of the first French folks to settle here.  The process of adding new family members to a crypt is an interesting one.

13319982_10153758786958512_3404328470106535680_nThere were tours all around us yesterday.  So, the tourists got to hear the piper, the brass band music, and the burial service provided by a priest.  I’m always happy when a few of them get to see that the traditions here continue and that we all have to live around the folks who come to visit us.  They get to see that we’re actually a living, breathing city and not just a place of old buildings and bars.

While Marie Laveau is probably the most famous inhabitant of crypt space, I’d suggest you read up on Dr. John Montanee who is the father of New Orleans Voodoo. Dr. John actually taught Marie.

Sometimes when a person becomes legendary they cease to be human beings and instead become the legend themselves. Dr. Jean is remembered according to his legend, as a powerful gris gris man who was rich, got a lot of women and who was the teacher of Marie Laveaux. The whole context of the trauma of the Diaspora is left completely out of his-story, and this is not only unfortunate, but it is highly disrespectful. My belief is that his goal from the onset of becoming a slave would have been to reclaim his personal power and power within the community (whatever community he ended up in), and to do so using his strength and charisma. This internal fortitude was enough to achieve his eventual freedom from slavery; it is said that his West Indian master taught him to be an excellent cook and grew quite fond of him, and eventually gave him the gift of freedom. As a result, Dr. Jean left Cuba to be a cook on a ship and eventually ended up in New Orleans where these characteristics of strength, charisma and fortitude landed him as a gang leader of cotton rollers. Within that community, he began to be known for his apparent supernatural powers and fortune telling abilities. This set the tone for his eventual great success in New Orleans. All through the various narratives of his-story, we can see his ability to transcend the normal performance of a given task and exceed all expectations.

Dr. Jean was likely a man who liked to make grand entrances in an effort to make his presence known. But, he more than likely retreated from this showy demeanor to a very warm and gregarious human being. People probably liked him more than not and he likely had many friends, and at least as many acquaintances. He would have been someone who would have started a family as soon as possible and given the culture from which he came, would likely have had more than one wife and many children. Family would have been very important to him and he would have taken his role as provider very seriously – yet another mechanism to drive his entrepreneurial spirit.

In addition to being successful in his various jobs and as a provider, he would have taken his role as a leader of the Voudous quite seriously, as well. As gris gris is a religiomagical system originating in Senegal and practiced by the priests, it makes perfect sense that he would have brought knowledge of the tradition with him to New Orleans. Gris gris is one of the most unique characteristics of New Orleans Voudou and a tradition that persists to this day – his contribution to the New Orleans religion is unsurpassed. He expected to be noticed and he was, as his legacy lives on in the heart of the Mysteries and can be heard and felt in the beat of every drum.

So, there are a lot of folks buried along side the illustrious founding families in this and the many old cemeteries to be found in New img_2353Orleans.

I’m using all of this to lead up to some sad news.  JJ’s brother Denny lost his struggle last night after her eldest son received his high school diploma.  This is one of those days where milestones can be bittersweet.  We love you JJ and wish all the best as you and your family make these transitions.

So, here’s some suggested reads for today.

Here’s a follow up to my post on the collapse of Venezuela from the NYT:”Venezuela Drifts Into New Territory: Hunger, Blackouts and Government Shutdown.”

Venezuela’s government says the problems are the result of an “economic war” being waged by elites who are hoarding supplies, as well as the American government’s efforts to destabilize the country.

But most economists agree that Venezuela is suffering from years of economic mismanagement, including over-dependence on oil and price controls that led many businesses to stop making products.

Some Venezuelans are channeling their frustrations into demonstrations against the government. Mr. Maduro’s opponents, who now control the National Assembly, have been staging weekly protests in support of the recall referendum.

Last Wednesday, protesters clashed with police officers who fired tear gas at the demonstrations and were attacked with bottles and rocks.

“The economic situation of this country is collapse,” Pablo Parada, a law student, who was participating last week in a hunger strike in front of the O.A.S. office in Caracas. “There are people who go hungry now.”

Mr. Parada said the purpose of his hunger strike was to pressure the O.A.S. to push Venezuelan officials to allow the referendum to take place this year, the only way he felt the country could recover.
There is often little traffic in Caracas simply because so few people, either for lack of money or work, are going out.

On a recent day in the downtown government center, pedestrians milled about, but nearly every building — including several museums, the public registry office and a Social Security center — was empty, giving the appearance of a holiday.

Only the guards were at work.

“It’s in God’s hands now,” said one, Luis Ríos, echoing a common phrase heard here.

Here’s an interesting article in Slate on “White washing” in the Asian American Community and the “bamboo” ceiling in America. Easy_Rider We’ve discussed before  this via the whiter-than-white portrait of Bobby Jindal that once hung in his office.

But I have a somewhat different and darker thought: What if Asian Americans are underrepresented in media because non-Asians have yet to reconcile themselves to Asian overrepresentation in the uppermost echelons of U.S. society? Don’t see that many Asian Americans as CEOs or in other leadership roles? Just give it time. Whether you look in Silicon Valley, Wall Street, elite academia, or America’s burgeoning medical-industrial complex, you’ll find a disproportionately large and fast-growing number of Asian Americans. Earlier generations of Asians often found themselves stymied by the so-called “bamboo ceiling,” which largely reflects the fact that new arrivals in America tend not to have the social connections they need to reach the highest rungs of the organizational ladder.

Sanders continues to be a busybody loser.  This time he’s suggesting what Hillary should do for a running mate choice.

“If Hillary Clinton were to win and Hillary Clinton were to bring onboard a conservative or moderate-type Democrat, I think politically that would be a disaster,” Sanders said in an interview with The Young Turks’ Cenk Uygur.

Uygur asked if Sanders had any suggestions for VP — specifically citing Sen. Elizabeth Warren(D-Mass.), whose name has been floating as a possible running mate for months.

Sanders said policy and a track record for fighting against Wall Street were the most important factors in a running mate.

I really have an intense, white-hot dislike of this man.

Here’s another one that’s a great read:  “Japanese American internment survivor hears troubling echoes in Trump rhetoric.”

Sugimoto, now 80, finds herself thinking a lot about those three years she spent in internment camps in Arkansas. The spirit of that deeply disturbing part of her childhood, an episode she believes has been all but forgotten within the narrative of American history, appears to be raising its ugly head once again.

“I think it’s dangerous the way he spouts off,” she said. “Not knowing any history, making no connections with what he says should be done today – it’s worrying and upsetting.”

She’s talking about Donald Trump, and his mass targeting of ethnic and religious groups. It’s not Japanese Americans this time: it’s the 11 million undocumented immigrants, mostly Hispanic, he has threatened to round up and deport. It is alsoMuslims, who he has vowed to ban from entering the country just by dint of their faith.

And, no that’s not a ghost up there, although I do profess to being one pale white woman.  That’s just whacky little me in funeral attire resplendent with some vintage stuff.

Have a good weekend!    Remember, this is an open thread so share links profusely!!!


Friday Reads: Late Edition

Good Afternoon!

download (2)I’m running really late today despite coffee and all the usual things I use to face the morning.  I seem to be in need of hibernation.  I’m not sure if it’s the ugly political situation or just the challenges of doing any little thing these days.  Have you noticed how businesses are basically set up to take your money efficiently and create hell for you under any other circumstance?  Calling them is to enter a hell realm.  Even when you do reach a person, there seems to be little they can do but offer sympathy and customer service surveys.  Why are businesses so damned rotten these days?  Is it because they are coddled while the rest of us have been basically dropped from the master plan?

I’m going to do a little sharing of local stuff juxtaposed on some national news because I’ve been noticing how difficult life is becoming for regular people.  Here in New Orleans, we’re chasing tourist dollars by destroying the culture that brings them here and basically driving off the workers that do the daily stuff of dealing with them.  I’m beginning to think that the entire plan of the Aspen Institute is to turn every major city into a seamless, architecturally bland, sea of guys sporting manbuns.  We seem to be selling our treasure to the highest out-of-town bidder who then remakes it into something totally new Portland or new Seattle or  new Brooklyn. Then, we all have to indulge boorish burbies in all the places we used to use to escape them.

Here’s a great example.  This nice old home used to be the equivalent of a hostel owned by a friend of mine. It was called the Mazant Guesthouse and was heavily used by Europeans because it had no A/C, a communal kitchen, and was extremely cheap.  The first thing the new owners did was try to tear down the backhouse.  Thankfully, the historic commission stopped them.  Now the entire property is just another reminder of the folks city government is trying to attract to all parts of the city including our personal, private backyards.   Asking price?  $1.65 million.  You could’ve bought entire blocks here for that just a few years ago.  So, you can imagine what that’s done to the rental market and what that’s doing to property tax valuations.

imageThis revitalization includes sanitizing the city’s really awful past as an outpost of the Confederacy and Lost Cause by removing statues that used to attract more pigeon shit than attention. We tear down a very historical Woolworth’s with an intact counter that was central to the Civil Rights Movement and no one mourns that at all.  We had an opportunity to put a great Civil Rights museum downtown for a real tourist experience.  But no, we spend time removing rather than preserving the sites to use them to elucidate the awful past.  We’d rather have a Dave and Buster’s than a National Jazz Park. 

Several items came to my attention today that show the master plan is to transform us into the destination of the manbun crowd  and that is having all kinds of unintended consequences.  The example sits right next door to me.  Two guys from NJ charge $180 a night for one side of a double that’s been redone to look like a badly decorated boutique hotel inside and barely maintains a semblance of its historical past outside.  It used to be home to two families.  Some NJ guy bought the family home across the street and it’s the ugliest thing you’ve ever seen now. It was an arts and crafts double but now it looks like some weird, awkward Cape Code monstrosity and it’s selling for way over $.5 million. Both homes were stripped of their historic architecture during renovation. My guess is some out of town rich people will Air BNB the arts & crafts double too which is currently illegal and against zoning laws. It used to be a rental when I moved here but was a single family dwelling until it sold.  A barber who worked down in the quarter lived there.  Regular folks that are renters aren’t here any more.  But, don’t take my word for it.  New Orleans now ranks second as the worst market for renters in the nation. 

New Orleans is gaining notoriety among America’s mid-sized cities as a place where renters must devote an increasing share of their income to housing expenses.

Make Room, a campaign by nonprofit affordable housing developer Enterprise Community Partners, extracted Census data to rank the top “10 worst metro areas for cash-strapped renters.” New Orleans was No. 2.

According to Harvard’s data, 35 percent of renters in the New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner statistical area devote 50 percent or more of their income to rent and utilities, only slightly less than top-ranked Miami where the rate was 35.7 percent.

The Make Room initiative was launched in May 2015 to push for policy changes and additional resources for cities where the lack of affordable housing is acute. Angela Boyd, the campaign’s managing director, said the effort seeks, in part, to debunk misconceptions that affordable housing is an issue only for coastal cities and targets renters in need of subsidies or government assistance.

“Some people think affordable housing is for the homeless or residents of public housing, but it also takes into account moderate income (renters),” Boyd said. “These are people who are probably already your neighbors.”

I wonder how all those restaurants are going to find help when there are no more places for their employees to rent in the city at the wages they can pay?   While the city is hassling over statues and renting its lampposts to hang fetus fetish propaganda, there’s vladimir-putin-man-bun-funny-meme-hairvery little discussion of things that are really wrong here.  We may be good at attracting celebrities to film stuff and buy houses, but we’re absolutely forgetting the majority of our population in the rush to be cool for pennies on the tax dollar.

On Wednesday night, Douglas Brown allegedly jumped over the counter of a New Orleans Subway after ordering a sandwich, according to the Times-Picayune, but was foiled in his attempt to nab the cash register drawer because it was tethered into place. Instead, he grabbed a bunch of cash and ran. He was detained 25 minutes later.

 It’s unclear who will represent Brown. Yesterday, the Orleans Public Defenders refused to take his case. The underfunded office, which says it represents nearly 85-percent of all defendants in the parish but has a budget just half the size of the district attorney, simply can’t handle any more.

“Our workload has now reached unmanageable levels resulting in a constitutional crisis,” Chief Defender Derwyn Bunton said in a December statement, giving one month’s notice that they would start refusing some clients charged with felonies carrying long sentences. “As Chief Defender, I can no longer ethically assign cases to attorneys with excessive caseloads or those that lack the requisite experience and training to represent the most serious offenses.”

This week, Bunton’s office made good on that pledge and began refusing clients. In response, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Louisiana last night filed a class action lawsuit in federal court against Bunton and Louisiana State Public Defender James Dixon on behalf of plaintiffs who were assigned public defenders but then placed on a waiting list.

“So long as you’re on the public defender waiting list in New Orleans, you’re helpless. Your legal defense erodes along with your constitutional rights,” said Brandon Buskey, Staff Attorney with the ACLU’s Criminal Law Reform Project, in a statement. “With every hour without an attorney, you may forever lose invaluable opportunities to prove your innocence. You also may be forced into a crippling choice between waiting months for counsel or doing bail and plea negotiations yourself. The damage to your case can be irreparable.”

Mayor Mitch Landrieu maintains that while the city has increased its funding of the office that they have “barely kept pace with state funding cuts,” the Times-Picayune reports. The defenders contend that “the additional local funding is enough to stave off mandatory furloughs, but not enough to provide representation in serious felony cases that is constitutional or ethical.” Bunton and Dixon could not be reached for comment.

abraham-lincoln-man-bun-hairstyle-funnyThe total focus on re-imagining New Orleans  appears to include putting street cars everywhere and making sure no road goes unfixed endlessly as long as it is  uptown.  I’m not sure it includes a vision of much else.  We seem to be highly focused on accommodating a certain segment of American society to the exclusion of a nearly everything else.   From what I can see, we’re really not “winning” in any sense but Charlie Sheen’s or whatever it is Mayor Landrieu has in mind.  He did come to us as the LT. Governor whose sole job is to fixate on tourism.  Maybe that’s the issue he just can’t move beyond.  I really don’t know. But, as far as I can tell, the development we’ve been getting recently is really killing exactly what we’ve been good at doing for a very long time.

Does resilience mean dumping your core competencies and the things that make you unique for the latest trendiness?

What happens when a city because a laboratory for hair brained schemes like charter schools and whatever you call this urban development trend that seems to be making us some blander version of ourselves?  One of our issues has been the lack of health care for so many people.  I’m hoping that the state’s move to now accept the Medicaid Expansion will help these kinds of statistics.  Meanwhile, we can only look at the skeleton of Big Charity Hospital which was once the hallmark of a civilized nation.

Indeed, Place Matters for Health in Orleans Parish, a report prepared by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies and the Orleans Parish Place Matters Team, in conjunction with the Center on Human Needs, Virginia Commonwealth University, and the Virginia Network for Geospatial Health Research, noted that “Life expectancy in the poorest zip code in the city is 54.5 years, or 25.5-years lower than life expectancy in the zip code with the least amount of poverty in the city, where it is 80.”

I’m beginning to think the entire “sharing” economy is basic piracy.  I came across this at AJ and was appalled that folks would do this on both supply and demand side of AIR BnB.  I swear this corporation is just an international crime syndicate that makes money off of illegal and destructive activities.

Airbnb may be the next high-profile target of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, following media reports this week that the online accommodation service includes listings from settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories that are advertised as being in Israel.

Anyone staying in an Airbnb-listed settlement property “facilitates the commission of the crime of establishing settlements and therefore aids and abets the crime,” said John Dugard, professor of international law, and a former Special Rapporteur to the UN on Palestine.

“The same applies to making money from property built on illegal settlements.” Airbnb takes a commission on property rentals, and so is profiting from Israel’s colonisation of Palestine.

Hosts who list properties via the company are required to provide accurate locations. As such, stating that settlements are located in Israel – when they are in fact illegal under international law because they are built on occupied territory – is a violation of the company’s terms.

I would like to think that just because you can make money off of something doesn’t mean that you should do it, the government should allow it, or there should be legal businesses encouraging it.  But then, it seems state and local governments are also doing anything to quit providing services to citizens while heavily subsidizing private businesses for whatever reason.  At what point do we decide that businesses and rich people should pony up their fair share of the bill of living in a civilized country,state and city of laws, institutions and regular people?

The city of Flint, Mich., is in the midst of a water crisis several years in the making. The city opted out of Detroit’s water supply and began drawing water from the Flint River in April 2014, part of a cost-saving move. Eighteen months later, in the fall of 2015, researchers discovered that the proportion of children with above-average lead levels in their blood had doubled.

The city reconnected to Detroit’s water system in October, but the damage was done. Water from the Flint River was found to be highly corrosive to the lead pipes still used in some parts of the city. Even though Flint River water no longer flows through the city’s pipes, it’s unclear how long those pipes will continue to leach unsafe levels of lead into the tap water supply. Experts currently say the water is safe for bathing, but not drinking.

A group of Virginia Tech researchers who sampled the water in 271 Flint homes last summer found some contained lead levels high enough to meet the EPA’s definition of “toxic waste.”

Economic theory states that we should tax nuisance activities heavily to both discourage them and to collect funds for the damages they inflict on the citizens around them.  (Think any kind of pollution.) Subsidies are to be given to those manbunwashingtonsquareactivities that won’t occur–even though they are highly beneficial to society–because they won’t provide profits to private businesses. (Think public transportation and education.)  It’s a really basic and simply theory that’s been proven useful time and time again. There are some things we really do want to tax the hell out of because we want less of it and we want to recover the damage it creates. Many rules and regulations exist to protect current property owners and stakeholders.   Here’s a brief little lesson on Pigouvian Taxes and subsidies that’s worth a watch that gives you a good idea of the costs and benefits.   I’m not sure why the entire concept has gone out of style.  Perhaps it’s because the Aspen Institute doesn’t find it trendy enough. Although my gut says it’s likely because lobbyists and political donors prefer to be enabled rather than held accountable.

Anyway, what I think I can say is that we’re making it difficult (e.g. taxing) for the wrong people to exist in society and we’re subsidizing the folks that are just making things worse.  I believe this is why there’s such disgruntlement at working, poor, and middle class income levels.

The question now, is how do we really change this?  When are we going to stop selling our society to any bidder for any sleazoid reason in the name development?

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 


Friday Reads

CNgK0x3UwAIE22-Good Morning from the land of resplendent PTSD triggers!

August is my least favorite month.  I basically try to slog through it.  I can’t recall anything good EVER happening in August.  This year is no different.

They say criminals always return to the scene of their crimes.  Today, Dubya Bush returned to New Orleans to “commemorate” Katrina. But, it’s a brief hit and run before he heads off to Mississippi.  That should remind every one that what they asked Louisiana to do before getting help was not what they required of Mississippi where Haley “white council” Barbour reigned. Mass Murderer Heckuva Job Brownie needs to be reminded of this fact still.  This sentence from the ABC link pretty much says it all.

Bush largely took a hands-off approach, frequently saying that rebuilding was best left to locals.

All over our country, Republican government officials are refusing to do their jobs in a hissy fit of  selfishness and ideology.  I mean really, if you don’t like government, maybe you shouldn’t be an elected government official or a government worker.  We generally call them public servants for a damned good reason.

Kim Davis is doing everything she can to avoid doing her job. Now the Rowan County, Kentucky clerk is petitioning the Supreme Court to allow her to not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Davis was slapped down just yesterday by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, which said that she or anyone in her office must issue marriage licenses to all couples regardless of gender.

Davis’ office just this morning again refused a same-sex couple the right to marry. Her office has until Monday to comply with the federal courts’ rulings.

Davis is represented by the founder of a certified anti-gay hate group, Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel.

“Davis will appeal one more rung up the ladder, to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, who can intervene in 6th Circuit cases, Staver said,” according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

“It is disappointing, certainly for our client, because the ramifications of the ruling is that there are no religious freedom rights for individuals if you can say a case is just against the office,” Staver told the newspaper. “The problem with that is, individuals who hold public office don’t forfeit their constitutional rights.”

But Right Wing Watch notes Staver is incorrect.

“While Staver claims that the clerk’s ‘constitutional rights’ are being violated when she is required to perform her job duties, the appeals court points out that this is not a case of individual free speech: ‘[W]here a public employee’s speech is made pursuant to his duties, ‘the relevant speaker [is] the government entity, not the individual.'”

She’s free to believe whatever nonsense she wants to believe on her own time and dime. She needs to comply, quit, or go to jail for breaking the law.  PERIOD.  Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to Elena Kagan 11889544_10104938262818755_752017656403690933_nripping her a new one.
Hillary Clinton, however, tells it like it is.   “On women’s health, Clinton compares Republicans to ‘terrorist groups'”

Republican presidential candidates are striking back Friday after Hillary Clinton compared some of them who hold conservative views on abortion and women’s reproductive rights to “terrorist groups.”

During a riff Thursday where Clinton name checked Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Clinton said Republicans are “dead wrong for 21st century America.”

“Now, extreme views about women, we expect that from some of the terrorist groups, we expect that from people who don’t want to live in the modern world, but it’s a little hard to take from Republicans who want to be the president of the United States,” Clinton said at a speech in Cleveland. “Yet they espouse out of date, out of touch policies. They are dead wrong for 21st century America. We are going forward, we are not going back.”

Meanwhile, Ben Carson has women reduced to vessels with “contents”.  This is yet another Republican attack on woman’s autonomy and moral personhood.  How did this guy pass an anatomy course?

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson is dismissing the notion that there is a “war on women,” saying the real war is on “what’s inside of women.”

“They tell you that there’s a war on women,” Carson said at a rally in Little Rock, Ark., on Thursday.

“There is no war on women — there may be a war on what’s inside of women, but there is no war on women in this country,” he continued, referring to abortion.

Democrats have accused Republicans of waging a war on women, citing efforts to limit abortion rights or access to birth control. But Republicans have pushed back on that language.
Carson said such rhetoric is only being used to divide people.

“All of those people who are trying to drive wedges between us, they are the enemy, they are not our friends, and we must learn to recognize them, and not allow them to manipulate us,” he said.

Carson’s comments come as the GOP contender’s anti-abortion-rights stance has come under fire after it was revealed that the retired neurosurgeon had co-authored a paper in which research was done on tissue acquired from fetuses aborted at nine and 17 weeks’ gestation.

“I have never actually worked with fetal tissue,” he told Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly earlier this month.

Carson also took flak when he said that RU-486, which has been dubbed the “chemical abortion pill” by some anti-abortion-rights groups, should be administered to women in cases of rape and incest.

However, some have speculated that Carson mistakenly referenced RU-486, which is administered five to seven weeks into a pregnancy, when he really meant to refer to emergency contraception known as the morning-after pill.

11903917_10204884915748318_8848208859962185406_nThe man is not an ob/gyn.  He needs to stfu.

Anyway, I’m making this short today.  I have a blanket fort to defend for a few more days and we’re running low on our supplies of red wine and pet treats.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 

 

 


Monday Reads: The Adulting Blues

adultingGood Morning!

Well, today’s the kind’ve day that makes me want to hide under the covers and have my mother do all my laundry and cooking. Well, actually my Dad used to do all the cooking but you know what I mean.  It’s been like that for at least a few days as my car’s battery gave out in a very inconvenient location on Thursday night and my bills are bigger than my latest paycheck.  A lot of my ennui and accompanying stress has to do with the uberhype of the 10 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina which for a lot of us is an ongoing process of things becoming more undone than they were before.  

Then, there’s just the constant barrage of news–none of which is particularly good–which includes ISIS destroying an ancient wonder. You know what an armchair archaeology buff I am. It’s just so easy to deal with dead civilizations rather than live ones. Trump continues to belittle any one in his path, and every one in the Republican primary is unleashing misogyny and racism. I’m going to focus on the racism today because I think both BB and JJ have given the current misogyny binge complete justice.

My friend Peter has actually written exactly what I’m feeling on this dreadful week where they’re actually pulling out parades and doing “resilience tours” to hype the city and its survival.  Like I said, we may have survived Katrina, but I still have my doubts about our surviving the hipsters, the gentrification, and our elected overseers who have forced us to privatize things that weren’t working before but now are worse and to capitalize on things that turn us into a Disaster Minstrel Show. Again, this is not my writing but Peter’s but I could’ve written it word for word except I obviously don’t have his wife!

I am dreading the influx of disaster tourists who will surely be showing up in town this week. Some of them will be sincerely motivated and others will be of the “I volunteered once with Habitat for Humanity after Katrina so I know what it was like” variety. No, you don’t. You don’t know what it’s like to be barred from your home for 6 weeks and have to sneak in like Dr. A and I did. You don’t know what it’s like to have a bad case of survivor’s guilt because you didn’t fare as badly as other people in town. You don’t know what it’s like to have to re-tell your “Katrina story” over and over again. You don’t know what it’s like to be having dinner and have do-gooders burst in to save your pets because you didn’t, or couldn’t, wash the marks off your front door. Actually, neither do I but it happened to some friends of mine. It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase putting on the dog…

The aftermath of the storm was a very painful period in the lives of New Orleanians. We’ve lived it day-in and day-out for 10 years at varying levels of intensity. That’s why I’m not enthusiastic about rehashing those days regardless of whether it’s done by resilience tour types or the krewe of “we’ve gone to hell in a designer handbag.” I wish they’d all piss off and leave me alone. I’m not the only one who feels this way.

Yes. I feel that way. Piss off and leave me alone.  Unfortunately, my neighborhood has turned into the mini-Quarter and I can’t even walk the dog around the block or have a beer without either bumping into seven bridesmaids giggling, six film crews taping, and five fucking Air BnB parasites.

This headline from WAPO actually made me scream:  A ‘resilience lab’.  They’ve obviously bought into the Mayor’s hype. This is the paragraph that’s described my reality.  Every day I walk out of my house and feel like screaming “WTF  are you doing here? Why don’t you go back to the hell realm you came from instead of bringing it here to me?”  No east coast newspaper article on New Orleans is complete these days without telling people that the place to be is my freaking neighborhood, the Bywater. I have fewer and fewer neighbors all the time. My neighborhood has been completely overrun with people hoping to redefine and cash in on cool.

He smiled at first. It looked so charming, all those people driving slowly down Burgundy Street through the Faubourg Marigny and Bywater neighborhoods, pointing cameras.

Then it dawned on Keith Weldon Medley: These folks weren’t tourists or architecture buffs. They were shoppers. And on their shopping list was almost everything that could be had in these neighborhoods, a collection of Creole cottages, shotgun doubles, warehouses and small manufacturers at a humpback bend of the Mississippi River.

In the evolution of post-Katrina New Orleans, few phenomena have been more striking than the dramatic demographic shift of places such as Bywater from majority black to majority white. One census block group in Bywater dropped from 51 percent African American before Katrina to just 17 percent afterward; the largest went from 63 percent to 32, according to a Washington Post analysis of U.S. census data.

“You saw all these white people. Obviously they were displacing black people who were here before,” said Medley, a historian who lives in the house where he grew up in the Marigny.

My daily mantra is “I see fucking stupid White People.”

So, I really don’t intend for this to be my Katrina post. I’ve been there and done that.   Let me post a few more things that are pissing me off today.

There’s an obvious asset bubble bubbling away here so the market’s correcting and the Fed is going to start bringing up interest rates. This blog has an interesting take on what’s going on which is particularly relevant to my field of research as a currency bloc and international economist.

Global stock markets are in a 2008ish kind of crash today and I really don’t much time to write this, but I just want to share my take on it.

To me this is fundamentally about the in-optimal currency union between the US and China. From 1995 until 2005 the Chinese renminbi was more or less completely pegged to the US dollar and then from 2005 until recently the People’s Bank of China implemented a gradual managed appreciation of RMB against the dollar.

This was going well as long as supply side factors – the opening of the Chinese economy and the catching up process – helped Chinese growth.

Hence, China went through one long continues positive supply shock that lasted from the mid-1990s and until 2006 when Chinese trend growth started to slow. With a pegged exchange rate a positive supply causes areal appreciation of the currency. However, as RMB has been (quasi)pegged to the dollar this appreciation had to happen through domestic monetary easing and higher inflation and higher nominal GDP growth. This process was accelerated when China joined WTO in 2001.

As a consequence of the dollar peg and the long, gradual positive supply shock Chinese nominal GDP growth accelerated dramatically from 2000 until 2008.

However, underlying something was happening – Chinese trend growth was slowing due to negative supply side headwinds primarily less catch-up potential and the beginning impact of negative labour force growth and the financial markets have long ago realized that Chinese potential growth is going to slow rather dramatically in the coming decades.

As a consequence the potential for real appreciation of the renminbi is much smaller. In fact there might be good arguments for real depreciation as Chinese growth is fast falling below trend growth, while trend itself is slowing.

The market has rebounded but the financial markets are obviously still shaky. China is the world’s largest economy now so anything house after katrinathat happens there is bound to ripple around the world.

The global whiplash underscored investors’ shaken confidence in China’s slowing economy and central bank. The world’s second-largest economy is now reeling over what China’s state media is calling “Black Monday,” during which its markets just recorded their biggest one-day nosedive in eight years.

But the mid-morning bounce off deep trading lows led some analysts to question whether financial markets had already finished their fall. Tech giant Apple, which begun the morning down 13 percent and dipping below $100, was trading 2 percent higher by the afternoon, at about $107.

The dismal opening marked a worrying continuation of last week’s free fall. The Dow’s blue-chip index plunged more than 500 points on Friday, capping its worst week since 2011 and entering what Wall Street calls a correction, having tumbled 10 percent from its May peak.

The sell-off bruised every industry, wiping out gains in rapid order after a year of mostly steady trading. Some of America’s biggest companies shed tens of billions of dollars in market value in only a few days, and the markets’ early gains have yet to restore those losses.

S&P 500 companies lost more than $1 trillion in market value last week, and the Dow and other indices are on track to record their dreariest month since February 2009.

On Friday, China reported its worst manufacturing results since the global financial crisis, following shortly after Beijing earlier this month surprised investors by announcing it would devalue the nation’s currency.

China’s benchmark Shanghai Composite index has fallen by nearly 40 percent since June, after soaring more than 140 percent last year. Markets in Europe also plummeted, and Asian shares on Monday hit a three-year low.

Economist gadfly and miserable human being Larry Summers is pearl clutching about the rate hikes.  He seems to be on a search to be relevant again but on a very wrong path. This article alone ought to make you very glad that he’s not the Fed Chairman since he seems completely oblivious to the asset bubbles that I see in assets around the country including houses once again.

Like most major central banks the Fed has put its price stability objective into practice by adopting a 2 per cent inflation target. The biggest risk is that inflation will be lower than this — a risk that would be exacerbated by tightening policy. More than half the components of the consumer price index have declined in the past six months — the first time this has happened in more than a decade. CPI inflation, which excludes volatile energy and food prices and difficult-to-measure housing, is less than 1 per cent. Market-based measures of expectations suggest that, over the next 10 years, inflation will be well under 2 per cent. If the currencies of China and other emerging markets depreciate further, US inflation will be even more subdued.

Tightening policy will adversely affect employment levels because higher interest rates make holding on to cash more attractive than investing it. Higher interest rates will also increase the value of the dollar, making US producers less competitive and pressuring the economies of our trading partners.

Please check out housing and stock prices Lala and then try again.

Republicans continue to show they have no idea about the reality of black people in this country. Trump attacked Martin O’Malley for sensitivity to the Black Lives Matter Campaign.

Appearing on Fox News over the weekend, Donald Trump admitted to being completely ignorant about the Black Lives Matter movement. “I know nothing about it,” the billionaire real estate developer said.

Of course, his lack of knowledge didn’t prevent him from harshly criticizing the effort. Trump said that he’s “seeing lot of bad stuff about it right now.” He said Martin O’Malley, a contender for the Democratic nomination, was a “disgusting little weak pathetic baby” for apologizing to Black Lives Matter activists earlier this year.

katrina_five_18Huckabee played the MLK card and completely confused King’s Son.

Martin Luther King III, the son of the late civil rights leader, said he was “perplexed” by GOP presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee’s comments last week suggesting that his father would be “appalled” by the Black Lives Matter movement.

“I think dad would be very proud of young people standing up to promote truth, justice and equality,” King said during an interview on SiriusXM radio. “I was perplexed by the comments, but people attempt to use dad for everything.”

King’s comments come in response to a CNN interview last week in which the former Arkansas governor spoke out against the Black Lives Matter movement, saying racism is “more of a sin problem than a skin problem.”

If you look at the picture of flooded New Orleans and the view over the flooded lower ninth ward towards city, you’ll see a cluster of white tallish buildings sitting right on the river in the middle of that photo.  Just a hair to the right is where my house still stands and where I’m there right now with a pillow pulled over my head trying to block out the world of adults.  I don’t want to be one of them at the moment.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 


Monday Reads: Vacation All You Ever Wanted … (Just don’t come here!!!)

Boomieworks.com-freevintageposters.com-05Good Day!

I’m still drinking my coffee and looking towards another few days of horrible heat.  Audubon Park tied a 100 year old record yesterday of 100 degrees Fahrenheit. We keep getting a few more days each year of more temps above 90.   Today, it’s also pouring so there was a distinct steamy jungle feel to the outdoors.   I’m just glad my electricity and A/C are holding up at the moment.

I’ve been finding some really interesting reads this week about the number of “tourist” cities that are fed up with tourists.  I wanted to mention the horrid heat to you because some crazy young man staying at the illegal air BnB next door has been trolling about with a black and white “Where’s Waldo” thick knit cap.  He and a bunch of other tourists now roam my streets at night like it was Bourbon.  Needless to say, it’s odd to see so many folks acting like that in what used to be like any other neighborhood full of small, working class homes. It is rapidly turning into tourist trap.

The Danes have a good idea.They’ve designated “quiet” zones. I get tour buses and bike tours and segway tours roaring by the house all the time. I know it seems odd that a bike tour would be loud, but then you’ve never heard a guide trying to shout stuff at people.

Barcelona, a city of 1.6 million that receives over seven million people a year, represents the turn toward regulation. Taxis and tour buses have taken over entire neighborhoods, while souvenir shops and bars have displaced pharmacies and greengrocers.

The city’s mayor, Ada Colau, 41, who was elected in May, announced a one-year ban on new tourist accommodation citing the swarms of students who have all but taken over the Ciutat Vella, or Old City, of Barcelona. Last August, hundreds of residents erupted in spontaneous protest after images of three Italian tourists wandering naked in the neighborhood of La Barceloneta were circulated online. Her greatest worry, Ms. Colau says, is Barcelona’s turning into Venice.

In Asia, alarm has centered on Chinese tourists; there are more of them than from any other nation. China began loosening severe travel restrictions only about 25 years ago, and the rapid rise of the middle class has sent curious — but often naïve, rude or even destructive — visitors throughout Southeast Asia.

In Thailand a Chinese tourist was recently caught on video ringing and kicking sacred bells at a Buddhist temple as if he was in a game arcade.

There have been reports of Chinese tourists littering beaches and even defecating in public. One tourist even opened the door of an airplane, as it prepared for takeoff, reportedly to get fresh air. The Chinese government responded by promising to set up a tourist black list to ban notorious known offenders from traveling overseas for up to two years.

We even get a mention in this NYT article.  I feel like my neighborhood has turned into a whore pimped by money hungry state and city officials.see-america-wpa-travel-poster

Battles like these have even reached the tourism-friendly United States.

A decade after Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans, city officials have eyed tourism as the best path for a revival. But homeowners in the French Quarter complain that the city fails to properly enforce zoning and noise regulations, inviting the party crowd into their streets. Last year, residents of Charleston unsuccessfully sued to block the South Carolina ports authority from opening up the port to more and larger cruise ships.

Tensions are bound to get worse. Notwithstanding worry about carbon emissions, more of the world’s peoples are crossing borders for leisure than ever before. Now tourism accounts for one in 11 jobs worldwide.

In 2012 the global tourism industry counted a record one billion trips abroad, and many more tourists travel within their home countries. Travel contributes $7.6 trillion to the global economy, nearly half the entire economic output of the United States.

One reason tourism is hard to regulate is its positive associations, not only with pastime and leisure but also with cultural prestige. People are proud of the vistas, landmarks and monuments that their homelands are best known for. So efforts to regulate tourism aren’t always popular.

I lived in the Quarter for five years across the street from Gallier House–a historic home–on Royal Street.  The block is full of homes with iron-laced balconies and features prominently in postcard and ads for the beauty of French Quarter Architecture.  My front door alcove was also frequently used as a urinal by young white college male students who should freaking know better during sporting events weekends and Mardi Gras.  For some reason, many people who visit here act as though we have no rules.  They mark up our grave yards, leave litter every where, and basically act boorish. I’m fine dealing with them when I’m down town which is a Tourist Mecca.  But, I’ve had it with them overrunning my neighborhood like ants at a picnic.  You can get away from them in the Quarter by retreating to your courtyard.  I’ve got them walking around all sides of my house at all hours of the night and day.  Many times they’re dragging bicycles and most times they talk very loudly.  I’m just glad I no longer have small children in the house.

vintage-travel-poster-london-englandBarcelona is evidently one city that’s really fed up.  I feel their pain.

First there were mutterings, then there were street protests, but now Barcelona is showing signs of “tourist phobia”, the city’s guides are warning.

As many as nine million visitors are expected in Barcelona this year, crammed into a few small areas of a city of 1.6 million inhabitants, more than five times the number who visited 20 years ago. With the weak euro attracting ever more tourists, and as many as 2.5 million visitors disembarking from cruise ships a year, residents are feeling besieged.

“People push us, give us dirty looks and make nasty remarks when we’re showing tourists around,” said Mari Pau Alonso, president of Barcelona’s Association of Professional Tourist Guides.

Even Jordi Clos, head of the city’s hoteliers’ association, which wants to see visitor numbers rise to 10 million, says there is an “urgent need” to make citizens more sympathetic to tourists, given the “sense of being overwhelmed” that people have experienced in recent years.

“If we don’t want to end up like Venice, we will have to put some kind of limit in Barcelona,” said Ada Colau, the city’s new mayor, shortly after she was elected in May. She is proposing a moratorium on new hotels and licences for apartments rented to tourists.

A survey for the Exceltur tourist group revealed that there are now twice as many beds available in tourist apartments – some 138,000 – as there are in hotels.

Tourist flats offer a more attractive and economic deal to visitors, and their owners can expect rents at least 125% higher than they would receive from long-term tenants. While many are let through large online organisations, such as Airbnb, others are offered by homeowners trying to make ends meet during Spain’s prolonged recession.

Venice is evidently no exception either.

All over the world our global heritage is under assault by disrespectful tourist hordes.  From Vietnam to Venice the goose that lays the golden egg of profit for the travel mYY7PORkqysbZxM-kBcxkhgindustry is slowly being bled to death.

But in Venice the fight back has begun. The citizens of La Serenissima, possibly the world’s most iconic tourism destination, are finally revolting against tourists.

In August the city of Venice, says the Venice Times, “will receive a real mass tourism ‘assault’. Visitors will sit on the steps of the century-old buildings and bridges, eating, trashing and not showing the respect these buildings deserve.”

“Walking on the small narrow streets without left and right side order, like in other cities, making the traffic impossible to stand, offering a truly claustrophobic experience.”

There are those who are not afraid to say that something MUST be done. Ilaria Borletti Buitoni former president of the Fai, an Italian Environment Fund believes that there must be some type of tourist access control in Venice. “I know that I will draw negative comments by saying this, but Venice is an open-air museum and the city is dying. The mass of tourists in the city is expected to increase to unbearable amounts in the coming years. The idea of establishing an admission ticket to the city for its maintenance should be considered. It will protect the city and improve the quality of tourism.”

According to a recent survey by the local newspaper La Nuova, 66% of its readers agree that there must be some type of restriction to Venice and only 12% believe that there should be no restriction since the city belongs to the World.

If you’re interested in the state of marriage in the US, look no further than our nation’s capitol where cheating our your spouse appears to be a national past time.  New Orleans made the top 10 cities for cheaters too!

The District once again lives up to its TV drama-concocted reputation.

The city topped a list ranking the country’s most adulterous cities for the third year in a row. The dubious title comes courtesy of Ashleymadison.com, a dating Web site for married people looking for extramarital affairs, which culled through its membership data to determine which cities have the most members per capita.

Ashley Madison claims to have more than 59,000 people registered on the site with a D.C. Zip code. (Note: This does include people who register for the site while visiting D.C. using a city Zip code.)

And the neighborhood with the most cheaters? Capitol Hill, the land of politicians, staffers and lobbyists.

The dating Web site says 10.4 percent of Capitol Hill residents are registered on the Web site. Tenleytown and Takoma Park finished second and third, respectively. With the exception of Capitol Hill, all of the top 10 D.C. neighborhoods are in the Northwest portion of the city, with the majority of the neighborhoods in affluent upper Northwest.

5169752406_4e4f31ca2eMore statues of Confederate Generals are coming down in parks around the American South.  The notorious Nathan Bedford Forrest’s statue and the memorial housing his remains is on its way to the auction block if the city of Memphis has its way. Forrest is best known for being the founder of the KKK.  He was a slave trader prior to secession.

What people see when they look up at the towering statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest in a park near downtown Memphis usually depends on their deepest beliefs, their memories, their loyalties and maybe even their DNA.

Many see a Memphis slave trader, the original grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and a war criminal who led a gruesome Confederate massacre of surrendered black and white Union troops at nearby Fort Pillow in 1864.

Others see a gallant but misunderstood Civil War general, a military genius and a hero who made a speech calling for racial reconciliation in 1875. And some passers-by have little or no idea who the guy on the horse is, and do not much care.

But this month, the Memphis City Council voted unanimously to begin an intricate process of removing the brass statue from the park — along with the remains of Forrest and his wife, encased since 1905 in its marble base. This effort joins a national wave of casting off Confederate icons since the massacre last month at a church in Charleston, S.C.

Efforts to take down public flags or monuments associated with the Confederacy are being renewed in communities like New Orleans; Tampa, Fla.; Austin, Tex.; and Stone Mountain, Ga. Yale and the University of California, Berkeley, are among educational institutions being pushed to rename campus buildings honoring people connected to slavery and the Confederacy.

But because of Forrest’s notoriety, Memphis’s harsh racial history and the fact that advocates want to disinter bodies, not just take down a flag or monument, the issue has particular resonance.

I continue to watch friends, neighbors and relatives go back and forth on this subject.  I seem to be someplace in the middle.  I don’t see any reason why lone statues can’t come down and be placed in museum. 548d170824ce87a1be1d13c205d6ce62However, I’m a preservationist and having seen some sites of some of the worst our history has to offer, I mostly look at the National Historic Landmark criteria for insight on if the site should be disturbed or not.  The site of the Battle of Little Big Horn has a monument to Custer that was installed there when he was considered a hero.  It still serves as a memorial to the 7th Calvary along with the Native Sioux and Cheyenne who fought there. When I visited the site some time in the late 60s or early 70s the statue still stands but the story and the role of Custer in history is quite different.   The Trail of Tears Historic Trail tells the story of the genocide and displacement of indigenous peoples in the American South.  Andrew Jackson does not come off as the hero of The Battle of New Orleans there. 

Same with our travels during the same period to Spanish Missions in California.  The Franciscan priests basically ran concentration camps for indigenous peoples where most died in some form of slavery.  I dare any of you not to want to burn the entire sites to the ground after reading what sort’ve heinous acts went on there.  But, these sites exist to remind us what happened and to hopefully ensure we don’t rewrite history.

BTW, one of the Fathers who set up the California Missions is about to be Canonized by this current Pope.

Anthony Morales, Chief Redblood of the Gabrielino Tongva Band of Mission Indians, said he was “stunned” and “angry” by the move, and is hoping the pontiff will reverse his decision.

“On all the 21 missions along the coast here our people were enslaved, they were beaten, they were tortured, our women were raped. It was forced labor and a forced religion,” Morales said. “There’s nothing saintly about the… atrocities on our culture, on our people.”

Father Serra himself justified the beating of Native Americans, writing in 1780: “That spiritual fathers should punish their sons, the Indians, with blows appears to be as old as the conquest of the Americas; so general in fact that the saints do not seem to be any exception to the rule.”

be62cc488a16276dccf1d658dc5b1821Here’ a pretty apt description of the atrocities committed by the Franciscans under the California Mission System. 

The formation of the Mission Indians began with the Spanish policy of congregación: the forced resettlement of Indian populations in nucleated settlements. The formation of large communities facilitated the conversion to Catholicism of the Indians. Many priests felt that it was a burden to have to visit the many small dispersed Indian communities. It was also easier for royal officials to collect tribute and organize labor drafts in the new larger communities.

The missionaries, with the help of well-armed soldiers, congregated Indians into fairly large communities which were organized along the lines of those in the core areas of Spanish America. Here Indian converts were to be indoctrinated in Catholicism and taught European-style agriculture, leatherworking, textile production, and other skills deemed useful by the Spaniards. By using Indian labor to produce surplus grain supplies for the Spanish military garrisons, the Franciscan missionaries were able to view Indians as both potential converts and labor.

The Franciscan missions were basically slave plantations which required the Indian people to work for the Spanish under cruel conditions. Indians did not come freely to the missions and once there, they were held against their will. Many attempted to escape, and the soldiers stationed at the mission would attempt to recapture them. Escape attempts are severely punished by the Franciscans.

The Franciscans, backed by a small number of soldiers stationed at the missions, imposed a rigid system of coerced and disciplined labor, enforced by the use of corporal punishment and other forms of control. This punishment including public flogging, and the use of the stocks and shackles. While the public use of corporal punishment humiliated and physically injured the individuals being punished, and it did not necessarily alter or control the behavior that the Franciscans found objectionable.

One early visitor to the missions remarked about the Indians that “I have never seen one laugh.” Most of the Indians died in the new mission environment.

The Spanish sought to Christianize the Indians by enslaving them. The Spanish intent was to expropriate not only Indian lands and resources, but Indian labor as well. Part of their goal was to obliterate all features of Native American culture and society and to create a replica of Spain in California in which land-owning Spanish would be served by an Indian peasant class.

From the viewpoint of the Spanish, Indians were a form of labor which could be exploited. The success of the Spanish colonies in the Americas were based on this exploitation. In order to maximize the profits of their colonial enterprise, the Spaniards created institutions that siphoned off surplus agriculture products and provided labor for major building projects. One of these Spanish institutions was repartimiento.

Repartimiento was the Spanish policy which gave the Spanish colonists the right to use native labor for religious education. Repartimiento functioned as a part of the Spanish mission system in all parts of the Americas, including California. Under this system, labor quotas and the conscription of people to serve on labor gangs were organized through the villages served by the missions (or, from an Indian viewpoint, the villages which served the missions).

51FSUacpEOL._SY300_Does this Pope really think this work is the act of Saints?  Anyway, our history is full of the actions of a lot of bad men.  I think it doesn’t take much imagination to see most of them were of European descent and Christian and men.

One last link before I go. If any one you know tries to say the Civil War was about “state’s rights” please send them directly to this site.   It’s the Civil War Trust and that link goes to the Writs of Secession where you get to read exactly what the war was about.  This is from the introductory paragraph of the secession declaration of the state of Georgia. Read the ones from Mississippi and Texas if you think it’s an oddity.

The people of Georgia having dissolved their political connection with the Government of the United States of America, present to their confederates and the world the causes which have led to the separation. For the last ten years we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slave-holding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery. They have endeavored to weaken our security, to disturb our domestic peace and tranquility, and persistently refused to comply with their express constitutional obligations to us in reference to that property, and by the use of their power in the Federal Government have striven to deprive us of an equal enjoyment of the common Territories of the Republic. This hostile policy of our confederates has been pursued with every circumstance of aggravation which could arouse the passions and excite the hatred of our people, and has placed the two sections of the Union for many years past in the condition of virtual civil war.

So, while we’re tearing down the statues of Confederate Generals who fought for slavery, we need to seriously look at folks like Andrew Jackson who fought for the US policy of genocide against Native Americans.  Then, the Pope needs to hear the real story of the Spanish Missions.

So, I bet you never thought you’d see a post like this!!  But, here’s some travel advice from my neighbor Dr. Bob! 

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?be-nice-or-leave