Sunday Reads: Memorial Days and One Hot Summer AheadPosted: May 27, 2012 Filed under: Congress, Domestic Policy, Festivities, GLBT Rights, House of Representatives, Human Rights, morning reads, Psychopaths in charge, religious extremists, Republican politics, science, Senate, the GOP, U.S. Politics, Voter Ignorance | Tags: Americans for Tax Fairness, Bush tax cuts, Charles Worley, Civil War, evolution, Florida, Gov. Rick Scott, History, John Waters, LBGT, Memorial Day, rich people, Sunlight Foundation, voter disenfranchisement 32 Comments
This is a long weekend for many of you, and I hope that you all are enjoying it! Take care because it is during these weekends that bring about travel and water related fatalities.
Earlier this week, Boston Boomer mentioned something in a comment about the origin of Memorial Day. So I thought this link from the New York Times was interesting… Many Claim to Be Memorial Day Birthplace
James Rajotte for The New York Times
Like the one over in Mississippi, this Columbus was founded in the 1820s and sits just a few minutes from countryside in almost any way you drive.
Residents say it was here, in the years after the Civil War, that Memorial Day was born.
They say that in the other Columbus, too.
It does not take much for the historically curious in either town — like Richard Gardiner, a professor of teacher education at Columbus State University here — to explain why theirs is the true originator of a revered American holiday and why the other is well-meaning but simply misguided.
“I’m going to blame Memphis to some degree,” Professor Gardiner said, about which more later.
Oh boy, there is nothing like a good old-fashioned squabble about something that dates back to the Civil War.
The custom of strewing flowers on the graves of fallen soldiers has innumerable founders, going back perhaps beyond the horizon of recorded history, perhaps as far as war itself. But there is the ancient practice and there is Memorial Day, the specific holiday, arising from an order for the annual decoration of graves that was delivered in 1868 by Maj. Gen. John A. Logan, the commander in chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, a group made up of Union veterans of the Civil War.
According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, roughly two dozen places claim to be the primary source of the holiday, an assertion found on plaques, on Web sites and in the dogged avowals of local historians across the country.
Yet each town seems to have different criteria: whether its ceremony was in fact the earliest to honor Civil War dead, or the first one that General Logan heard about, or the first one that conceived of a national, recurring day.
The article mentions several of the towns that claim being the first, but it focuses on two specific towns.
the claims of the two Columbuses, eyeing each other across Alabama, are among the more nuanced and possibly the most intertwined.
Columbus, Miss., was a hospital town, and in many cases a burial site, for both Union and Confederate casualties of Shiloh, brought in by the trainload. And it was in that Columbus where, at the initiation of four women who met in a 12-gabled house on North Fourth Street, a solemn procession was made to Friendship Cemetery on April 25, 1866.
As the story goes, one of the women spontaneously suggested that they decorate the graves of the Union as well as the Confederate dead, as each grave contained someone’s father, brother or son. A lawyer in Ithaca, N.Y., named Francis Miles Finch read about this reconciliatory gesture and wrote a poem about the ceremony in Columbus, “The Blue and the Gray,” which The Atlantic Monthly published in 1867.
“My view is it’s really the poem that inspired the nation,” said Rufus Ward, a retired district attorney, sitting in his basement and sipping a mint julep (his grandmother’s recipe, he said, the one she shared with Eudora Welty).
The Georgians dispute little of this. But they argue that the procession in the other Columbus was actually inspired by the events in their Columbus.
And what about Georgia’s Columbus?
…Professor Gardiner points to a local woman named Mary Ann Williams, who in the spring of 1866 wrote an open letter suggesting “a day be set apart annually” and become a “custom of the country” to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers.
That day, described as a national day, was chosen to be April 26, the anniversary of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston’s surrender in North Carolina to Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman of the Union Army. The letter, or a summary of it, ran in newspapers all over the South, and as far west as St. Louis and as far north as New Hampshire, leading to widespread ceremonies on that day.
It also ran in the The Memphis Daily Avalanche on March 27, 1866. But the paper had the wrong date — April 25.
“This misprint right here is the difference between what you’ll hear in Columbus, Mississippi, and here,” Professor Gardiner said, concluding that the Memphis misprint traveled to the other Columbus. The Mississippi commemoration did take place a day earlier, he admitted, but they go too far in claiming they came up with it independently. “I just can’t — I don’t buy it.”
But this day set by Mary Ann Williams was only for the Confederate dead. And still to this day the south celebrates Confederate Day, our Banjoville courthouse is closed on that day.
However, according to Professor of History David W. Blight, Yale University…the event that brought about Memorial Day is…
…a mostly forgotten — or possibly suppressed — event in Charleston, S.C., in 1865 at a racetrack turned war prison. Black workmen properly reburied the Union dead that were found there, and on May 1, a cemetery dedication was held, attended by thousands of freed blacks who marched in procession around the track.
He has called that the first Memorial Day, as it predated most of the other contenders, though he said he has no evidence that it led to General Logan’s call for a national holiday.
“I’m much more interested in the meaning that’s being conveyed in that incredible ritual than who’s first,” he said.
I agree with Blight’s assessment too. The meaning of the day is what is most important.
So with that in mind, please take a moment today and remember all the soldiers who have died in the service of their country.
More news links after the jump.
David Brooks Stands up for Fellow Rich Man Mitt RomneyPosted: January 21, 2012 Filed under: 2012 presidential campaign, Media, Republican presidential politics, Surreality, U.S. Politics | Tags: Charles Pierce, David Brooks, Mitt Romney, rich people, wealth 11 Comments
I just read David Brooks’ latest column, and thanks to Charlie Pierce, for once it didn’t make me feel like throwing my computer across the room. If you haven’t yet read Brooks’ defense of Mitt Romney’s wealth, please do so ASAP.
Brooks read the new book about Romney by Boston Globe reporters Michael Kranish and Scott Helman, and what he took from it is that–because of the gumption he must have inherited from his industrious Mormon ancestors–Mitt worked really really hard and pulled himself up by his own bootstraps! We shouldn’t be hard on Mitt for being one of the .01% of the 1%, because hard work was in his DNA or something. Brooks:
Mitt Romney is a rich man, but is Mitt Romney’s character formed by his wealth? Is Romney a spoiled, cosseted character? Has he been corrupted by ease and luxury?
The notion is preposterous. All his life, Romney has been a worker and a grinder. He earned two degrees at Harvard simultaneously (in law and business). He built a business. He’s persevered year after year, amid defeat after defeat, to build a political career.
Romney’s salient quality is not wealth. It is, for better and worse, his tenacious drive — the sort of relentlessness that we associate with striving immigrants, not rich scions.
Where did this persistence come from? It’s plausible to think that it came from his family history.
OMG! So Mitt’s success in business and politics had nothing to do with his father George Romney’s being head of American Motors, Governor of Michigan, and presidential candidate? It had nothing to do with with his dad’s Washington connections? Never mind, just read Charlie Pierce’s response. It’s priceless. Here’s that last part of it (Brooks quotes are in italics; Pierce quotes in bold):
George Romney, Mitt’s father, was born in Mexico. But when he was 5, in 1912, Mexican revolutionaries confiscated their property and threw them out. Most of the Romneys fled back to the U.S. Within days, they went from owning a large Mexican ranch to being penniless once again, drifting from California to Idaho to Utah, where again they built a fortune.
(Jesus, things really picked up there. One minute, Miles is eating beans and gravy in a Mexican shack and, the next minute, his grandson is heading up American Motors. What could have intervened in the meantime? Oh, I remember now. Big Business and Big Government! George Romney went to Washington, worked as a congressional aide and then became a lobbyist for the aluminum and auto industries. He also worked to the NRA during the New Deal. His contacts fast-tracked him into the upper echelons of the American automobile industry, whence he went into politics. These are avenues of immigrant striving that are largely closed to, say, Willard Romney’s gardener, and, very likely, to his grandchildren, too.)
It is a story of relentless effort, of recovery and of being despised (in their eyes) because of their own success. Romney himself experienced none of this hardship, of course, but Jews who didn’t live through the Exodus are still shaped by it.
Mitt Romney can’t talk about his family history on the campaign trail. Mormonism is an uncomfortable subject. But he must have been affected by it.
(We pause here for a moment to ask two important questions: a) Are there any editors at the New York Times op-ed page? And, b) Are they all freaking drunk or what? Yes, Willard Romney’s distant ancestors had it tough. This has little or nothing to do with why Willard is acting like a rich foof on the campaign trail for the second consecutive presidential election cycle. Go back far enough, and David Brooks’s family are low-browed slouching primates eating antelope with their hands in the Serengeti. This would not excuse bad table manners on his part. And Mitt Romney does not decline to talk about his Mormonism on the campaign trail because it’s too painful. He declines to talk about it because half his lunatic, Bible-banging base thinks it’s a cult in which is worshipped Satan’s longjohns.)
His wealth is a sideshow.
(Hell, Willard doesn’t even know he’s rich. That’s how all that money snuck off to the Caymans when he wasn’t watching. To hell with better reporters. Can we at least have a superior class of courtiers?)
Thanks to Charlie Pierce, a David Brooks column just made my day. I hope my good mood holds through the South Carolina returns tonight.
Monday ReadsPosted: December 12, 2011 Filed under: China, Drone Warfare, Foreign Affairs, Iran, morning reads, Pakistan, Russia, Sky Dancing Blog, U.S. Economy, U.S. Military, U.S. Politics | Tags: Ann Coulter, children in poverty, consumer demand, Depression, drones, General Manuel Noriega, Hillary Clinton, jobs, Mitt Romney, New Orleans, Newt Gingrich, North Dakota, Obama's wars, Pakistan, Panama, rich people, Trade agreements, unemployment, weather 24 Comments
We’ve had some cold gloomy weather down here in New Orleans. I hope all those bowl game tourists brought their coats. It’s made for a depressing weekend. It seems like most of the news I’ve been finding matches the weather too. Another presidential election year is upon us and we’re looking at the Grinch getting the Republican nomination. Soon, all poor children will be required to mine the coal so the Grinch can place them in every one’s stockings. Well, that’s the east coast poor children. Those poor children in the middle of the country will be fattening up turkeys for the 1 percent to eat. I’ll bet Mitch can make a $10,000 bet on which of the kids will have it worse!
First up is an interesting read from the Business Insider that once again shoots down the meme that the rich create jobs. There are so many economic fairy tales around these days it’s hard to know which one to shoot down next. The bottom line is pretty much something we’ve talked about for some time. If you build it and no one comes, you don’t create anything but one more bankruptcy. It’s the consumer demand that creates economic growth.
The most important reason the theory that “rich people create the jobs” is absurd, argues Nick Hanauer, the founder of online advertising company aQuantive, which Microsoft bought for $6.4 billion, is that rich people do not create jobs, even if they found and build companies that eventually employ thousands of people.
What creates the jobs, Hanauer astutely observes, is the company’s customers.
The company’s customers create demand for the company’s products, which, in turn, creates the need for the employees to produce, sell, and service those products. If those customers go broke, the demand for the company’s products will collapse. And the jobs will disappear, regardless of what the entrepreneur does.
That’s actually some good common sense but it’s backed up by economic theory. Supply without demand just rots in the fields and molds in the warehouse. Which brings me to Paul Krugman who says it’s time to call this economic situation a depression. That’s also something we’ve bandied about here. I’d say skydancers are pretty prescient, wouldn’t you?
It’s time to start calling the current situation what it is: a depression. True, it’s not a full replay of the Great Depression, but that’s cold comfort. Unemployment in both America and Europe remains disastrously high. Leaders and institutions are increasingly discredited. And democratic values are under siege.
On that last point, I am not being alarmist. On the political as on the economic front it’s important not to fall into the “not as bad as” trap. High unemployment isn’t O.K. just because it hasn’t hit 1933 levels; ominous political trends shouldn’t be dismissed just because there’s no Hitler in sight.
Krugman takes the rest of the column outlining some of the abysmal politics and economics in Europe. I just keep checking the calendar to see if we some how time tripped back to the 1930s and some how forget what we learned the last time out. Looking at things from a war build-up point a view, there’s this link to “Obama Raises the Military Stakes: Confrontation on the Borders with China and Russia” from Global Research. This is how some leftwing thinkers see the latest in US outreach in Asia.
November 2011 is a moment of great historical import: Obama declared two major policy positions, both having tremendous strategic consequences affecting competing world powers.
Obama pronounced a policy of military encirclement of China based on stationing a maritime and aerial armada facing the Chinese coast – an overt policy designed to weaken and disrupt China ’s access to raw materials and commercial and financial ties in Asia . Obama’s declaration that Asia is the priority region for US military expansion, base-building and economic alliances was directed against China , challenging Beijing in its own backyard. Obama’s iron fist policy statement, addressed to the Australian Parliament, was crystal clear in defining US imperial goals.
“Our enduring interests in the region [Asia Pacific] demands our enduring presence in this region … The United States is a Pacific power and we are here to stay … As we end today’s wars [i.e. the defeats and retreats from Iraq and Afghanistan]… I have directed my national security team to make our presence and missions in the Asia Pacific a top priority … As a result, reduction in US defense spending will not … come at the expense of the Asia Pacific” (CNN.com, Nov. 16, 2011).
The precise nature of what Obama called our “presence and mission” was underlined by the new military agreement with Australia to dispatch warships, warplanes and 2500 marines to the northern most city of Australia ( Darwin ) directed at China . Secretary of State Clinton has spent the better part of 2011 making highly provocative overtures to Asian countries that have maritime border conflicts with China . Clinton has forcibly injected the US into these disputes, encouraging and exacerbating the demands of Vietnam , Philippines , and Brunei in the South China Sea . Even more seriously, Washington is bolstering its military ties and sales with Japan , Taiwan , Singapore and South Korea , as well as increasing the presence of battleships, nuclear submarines and over flights of war planes along China ’s coastal waters. In line with the policy of military encirclement and provocation, the Obama-Clinton regime is promoting Asian multi-lateral trade agreements that exclude China and privilege US multi-national corporations, bankers and exporters, dubbed the “Trans-Pacific Partnership”. It currently includes mostly smaller countries, but Obama has hopes of enticing Japan and Canada to join …
Obama’s presence at the APEC meeting of East Asian leader and his visit to Indonesia in November 2011 all revolve around efforts to secure US hegemony. Obama-Clinton hope to counter the relative decline of US economic links in the face of the geometrical growth of trade and investment ties between East Asia and China .
Pakistan is threatening to shoot down all US drones. Tis the season to be jolly!!!
According to the new Pakistani defense policy, “Any object entering into our air space, including U.S. drones, will be treated as hostile and be shot down,” a senior Pakistani military official told NBC News.
The policy change comes just weeks after a deadly NATO attack on Pakistani military checkpoints accidentally killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, prompting Pakistani officials to order all U.S. personnel out of a remote airfield in Pakistan
I wonder if people in North Dakota have the same option? Here’s the Daily Mail headline on your Daily Moment of Orwell: Local cops using Predator drones to spy on Americans in their own backyards.
One of the only confirmed uses of predator drones by local law enforcement came in June when a sheriff near Grand Forks, North Dakota, went looking for six stolen cattle.
When he arrived at the farm of Rodney Brossart, he was threatened by three men with guns and forced to retreat.
The Brossarts were known for being armed, anti-government separatists. So Sheriff Kelly Janke, who patrols a county of just 3,000 people, called in a Predator drone to look out over the 3,000-acre farm where the family was armed with rifles and shotguns.
With the help of a drone, summoned from nearby Grand Forks Air Force Base where it was patrolling the US-Candida border, the sheriff was able to watch the movements of everyone on the farm from a handheld device that picked up the aircraft’s video footage.
He and his deputies waited until they could see the Brossarts put down their weapons. Then they stormed the compound and arrested Rodney Brossart, his daughter and his three sons on a total of 11 felony charges. No shots were fired.
And he recovered the cattle, valued at $6,000.
The sheriff says that might not have been possible without the intelligence from the Predators.
‘We don’t have to go in guns blazing. We can take our time and methodically plan out what our approach should be,’ Sheriff Janke told the Times.
All of the surveillance occurred without a search warrant because the Supreme Court has long ruled that anything visible from the air, even if it’s on private property, can be subject to police spying.
Back to the Grinch that’s stealing Willard’s inevitability.
The NBC News-Marist polls showed Gingrich leading Romney in South Carolina by 42 percent to 23 percent. An October poll by the same organizations showed Gingrich at 7 percent in the Palmetto State. In Florida, Gingrich leads Romney 44 percent to 29 percent. There Gingrich has gained 38 percentage points since October.
The rapid movement highlights the remarkable rise of Gingrich as the caucuses and primaries near. Republican voters have shifted allegiances repeatedly this year and a number of state polls have shown that they are not firmly locked in behind any candidate at this point.
In New Hampshire on Sunday, Romney picked up the endorsement of Manchester Mayor Ted Gastas. But he was the target of a scathing editorial in the Union Leader, which earlier endorsed Gingrich. The headline read “Romney’s desperate hours.”
January’s coming and sooner or later, some of these folks are going to run out of money. There seems to be quite a few irrelevant candidates in the race right now. Maybe super Jeb is waiting in the wings? So here’s a good way we now MIttens is tres desperate. Here’s the TPM headline: Romney Presses Ann Coulter Into Surrogate Duty.
Turn on the radio here and you’re going to get a taste of how hard Mitt Romney is working to stamp out Newt Gingrich’s support with conservatives.
In a new radio ad launched by the Romney campaign in Iowa last week, Romney turns to conservative fire-breather Ann Coulter to make the case that he’s the most electable candidate in the Republican race. Having made a living off saying things that no politician would likely wish to be closely associated with, it’s an interesting choice — and a sign that Romney is going all out to cast himself as the more pure conservative choice to Gingrich.
Coulter endorsed Romney a month ago (after dissing him before that) and the Romney ad grabs a clip of her talking up her candidate on Fox and Friends in November.
Here’s a ghost of nightmares past. Noriega has been extradited to Panama for trial. The link goes to a BBC TV report.
The former leader of Panama, General Manuel Noriega, has returned to his home country 22 years after being forcibly removed from power by the US.
The 77-year-old was extradited from France, where he had been in prison on money laundering charges.
He is likely to spend the rest of his life in jail after being convicted in absentia for murder, corruption and embezzlement while he was in power.
OOOH, baby it’s cold outside.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?