Category Archives: Race

First Draft Potpourri: Bayou Briefing

It’s been a difficult week. Everyone I know is upset about the Charlottesville neo-Nazi riot. It’s taken a lot out of me because I know and love the place as I said on Monday. That’s why it’s time to lighten things up a bit. It may not work but comic relief is my middle name. I guess I should’ve capitalized the phrase in that case.

The post is NOT called Bayou Briefing because it’s all stories of the Gret Stet. It’s because the Bayou Brief has published my first column. Holy shameless plug, Batman.

It’s called The Fog of New Orleans Mayoral Race History and they even let me tell some jokes. Unlike some other Bayou Briefers, I wasn’t Born on the Bayou but neither was John Fogerty for that matter:

We’ll keep it in the Gret Stet of Louisiana for now.

Tweet Of The Week: Former Louisiana Governor and federal inmate Edwin Edwards’ 90th birthday soiree was held on August 12th; his actual DOB is 8-7-1927. I’m envious: there was no flooding like there was on my birthday a week earlier. Oh well, I guess us Leos have to stick together. Holy Grandfalloon, Batman.

The big shebang took place in Red Stick and EWE did his Cajun Shecky shtick as you can see from this tweet by the AP’s Melinda Deslatte:

Edwin Edwards, of course, opened a can of whoop ass on Trump’s buddy David Dukkke in 1991. He may have been a crook but he was our crook.

We’ll keep it down South, but first a marginally relevant musical selection:

Actually, I posted that because Dr. A and I usually drive through Birmingham on our way home from the Commonwealth of Virginia. Fast.

My Kind Of Cover-Up: Democratic Birmingham, Alabama Mayor William Bell was tired of looking at a Confederate monument across from City Hall. He had a novel solution:

Bell covered up the monument to Confederate veterans, first with tarps and then with wooden walls erected by city workers overnight Tuesday. Bell told reporters earlier in the day that his immediate goal was to temporarily cover the monument “until such time that we can tell the full story of slavery, the full story of what the Confederacy really meant.”

“What the Confederacy represented was the maintaining of individuals as being less than human, of promoting a supremacy doctrine that is no longer valid, and wasn’t valid then,” he added.

I guess you can tell that Mayor Bell is black. He’s being sued by the  Lost CauserAlabama AG for violating a new state law that protects Confederate shit. It’s thrilling that this is happening in the city where Bull Connor sicced police dogs on civil rights protesters.

It looks as if Birmingham is finally living up to the chorus of the Randy Newman song:

I still don’t think it’s “the greatest city in Alabam,” my money is on Mobile since they have Carnival, but Mayor Bell not only rules, he rocks. Speaking of those who do neither:

Your Twit President* Tweets: I hadn’t planned to do this segment but when I checked TPM that plan went out the window alongside the running joke in my Bayou Brief column.

The Lost Causer In Chief announced his candidacy to be the second president of the Confederate States of America in a “beautiful” tweet storm this morning:

That’s why I added Lost Causer In Chief to my panoply of Trump nicknames.

The whole “they’re trying to change history” thing drives me batshit crazy; almost as crazy as Trump. There are no monuments to Hitler in Germany or Austria. They haven’t forgotten that history, dipshit. I wish we could make like Mayor Bell and cover up Trump’s big bazoo.

How’s that whole disciplining the president* thing going, General Kelly? Not very well from the looks of it.

It’s time to cheese it across the pond for our final segment.

Finest Festival In The District: There was a different kind of Rumble in Brighton recently. Over cheese. I am not making this up:

A festival celebrating cheese is facing serious backlash for running out of it, something the weekend-long event’s organizers apparently didn’t “anticipate” a “demand for.” This Fyre Festival–level fiasco was held in the English city of Brighton and, it’s also worth noting, had sold out beforehand. It’s part of a traveling festival series literally called the Cheese Fest, where people pay £3 to £6 in advance to supposedly enjoy a drool-worthy afternoon filled with endless raclette wheels, halloumi fries, grilled cheeses, and the “most amazing mac and cheese in the world.”

The complaints started pouring in immediately on Saturday — too few stalls, outrageous lines, woefully underprepared vendors, not enough bathrooms. Very soon, the eponymous food ran out entirely. Some visitors noted they didn’t get so much as a sample-size morsel. As the afternoon stretched on, visitors kept coming, spawning more awful feedback, and organizers allegedly stooped to removing negative comments from the event’s Facebook page.

No cheese at the Cheese Festival? It’s too bad that organizers didn’t have Brie Larson or Adrastos crush Alison Brie there to distract attention.  It’s a pity that there are no chicks named Cheddar…

The Brighton cheese rumble reminds me of one of my favorite Python sketches:

Cleese: It’s not much of a cheese shop, is it?

Palin: Finest in the district sir!

Cleese: (annoyed) Explain the logic underlying that conclusion, please.

Palin: Well, it’s so clean, sir!

Cleese: It’s certainly uncontaminated by cheese.

The last word goes to John Cleese and Michael Palin to the strains of bouzouki music. I am uncertain as to whether there was a bouzouki at the  Brighton cheese rumble. One would hope so since there was no cheese. Finest festival in the district, sir.

Your President* Speaks: Lost Causer In Chief

We all knew it couldn’t last. I’m referring to Trump’s second Charlottesville statement on Monday. Call it a brief spasm of coerced contrition over his initial reaction to Saturday’s neo-Nazi riot. Actually, it looked more like a hostage video of a man reading words he did not believe in. Believe me.

Tuesday’s ranty press conference was the latest in a series of  public meltdowns. This time he revealed himself as the Lost Causer In Chief. I halfway expected him to demand that statues of him be erected in towns across the country. He’s a big enough dick to demand such an erection, after all.

Let’s tackle a few of the Insult Comedian’s comments with the odd comment by your humble blogger. Somebody’s gotta be humble in a country headed by a blowhard and braggart. I forgot a b word: Bigot.

Q Let me ask you, Mr. President, why did you wait so long to blast neo-Nazis?

THE PRESIDENT: I didn’t wait long.

Q You waited two days —

THE PRESIDENT: I didn’t wait long.

Q Forty-eight hours.

THE PRESIDENT: I wanted to make sure, unlike most politicians, that what I said was correct — not make a quick statement. The statement I made on Saturday, the first statement, was a fine statement. But you don’t make statements that direct unless you know the facts. It takes a little while to get the facts. You still don’t know the facts. And it’s a very, very important process to me, and it’s a very important statement.

So I don’t want to go quickly and just make a statement for the sake of making a political statement. I want to know the facts. If you go back to —

<SNIP>

And honestly, if the press were not fake, and if it was honest, the press would have said what I said was very nice. But unlike you, and unlike — excuse me, unlike you and unlike the media, before I make a statement, I like to know the facts.

Mr. Conclusion Jumper (no relation to Mr. In Between) wanted to know all the facts before spouting off? Even by Trumpian standards, this is preposterous piffle. He wouldn’t know a fact if it bit him in the dead nutria atop his head.

Esme Cribb of  TPM has compiled a list of all the times the Kaiser of Chaos leapt to conclusions about *other* terrorist episodes.  (I love her name: she sounds like a Dickens character.) Apparently, fact checks only apply when the terrorist is a Trumper.

Q Nazis were there.

Q David Duke was there.

THE PRESIDENT: I didn’t know David Duke was there. I wanted to see the facts. And the facts, as they started coming out, were very well stated. In fact, everybody said, “His statement was beautiful. If he would have made it sooner, that would have been good.” I couldn’t have made it sooner because I didn’t know all of the facts. Frankly, people still don’t know all of the facts.

This latest idiocy is, yet again, about the fact that the people don’t love him and hang on his every word. We’re ingrates as far as Trump is concerned. He should be worshiped. Why? I’ll never know.

THE PRESIDENT: Okay, what about the alt-left that came charging at — excuse me, what about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?

Let me ask you this: What about the fact that they came charging with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs? Do they have any problem? I think they do. As far as I’m concerned, that was a horrible, horrible day.

It’s a documented fact that the neo-Nazi, neo-Klansmen, neo-Confederates initiated the violence. They were the ones who showed up clad in riot gear. That’s a whole lotta neos. If I were into The Matrix movies I might make a Neo joke but I’m not so I won’t. I just couldn’t get past the presence of Keanu Reeves, dude in the role of Neo, dude.

Now where the hell was I? Oh yeah, your white nationalist president* speaks.

THE PRESIDENT: But not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch. Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue of Robert E. Lee.

Q Should that statue be taken down?

THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me. If you take a look at some of the groups, and you see — and you’d know it if you were honest reporters, which in many cases you’re not — but many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee.

So this week it’s Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?

So, Trump is conflating the Civil War with the American Revolution now? The first and third presidents were present at the creation of the republic; neither committed treason like Lee or Jackson. Trump does have something in common with Stonewall Jackson though. They’re both sociopaths. Believe me.

I planned to save the reaction to today’s diatribe for the end but this one is priceless. It’s one New Orleanian quoting another New Orleanian on the tweeter tube:

Back to this episode of your white nationalist president* speaks.

Q Mr. President, are you putting what you’re calling the alt-left and white supremacists on the same moral plane?

THE PRESIDENT: I’m not putting anybody on a moral plane. What I’m saying is this: You had a group on one side and you had a group on the other, and they came at each other with clubs — and it was vicious and it was horrible. And it was a horrible thing to watch.

But there is another side. There was a group on this side. You can call them the left — you just called them the left — that came violently attacking the other group. So you can say what you want, but that’s the way it is.

Q (Inaudible) both sides, sir. You said there was hatred, there was violence on both sides. Are the —

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I think there’s blame on both sides. If you look at both sides — I think there’s blame on both sides. And I have no doubt about it, and you don’t have any doubt about it either.

<SNIP>

Q The neo-Nazis started this. They showed up in Charlottesville to protest —

THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me, excuse me. They didn’t put themselves — and you had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides. You had people in that group.

There are “very fine people” who are neo-Nazis wearing riot gear? That’s a new one on me. Neo-Nazis and white nationalists are not “very fine people” they’re what kids today call haters. It’s what they do. It’s what they live for. It doesn’t bother Trump because he’s one of them. The politics of grievance and revenge are Trump’s politics even though he grew up with wealth and very white privilege. I’d call it a paradox but I try to use language the Insult Comedian will understand. That was a lie; something he does understand. Believe me.

The most significant reaction came from the erstwhile Gret Stet Fuhrer:

That’s really all you need to know about the third Charlottesville statement. It pleased David Duke, Richard Spencer, and their neo-Nazi brethren. They didn’t buy the second statement, they didn’t even give it secondhand love.

Anyone who was shocked by Trump’s latest hissy fit has not been paying attention. He started toying with running for president in 2011, which is when he began beating the birther drum. His entire political career since then has been based on racism and bigotry. No shock to any of our readers but it apparently still is to the MSM and most Republican office holders. It’s who and what he is.

A personal note. I believe in free speech but I do not believe in being nice to neo-Nazis and white nationalists. My father and three uncles fought against fascism in World War II. One uncle was killed in action in Italy. We didn’t fight a bloody war against the real Nazis only to see them rise to prominence 72 years after their ignominious defeat. They’re LOSERS, Donald. So are the Confederates. So much for “so much winning.”

Speaking of veterans, some people are quoting remarks made by Bob Dole denouncing racism in his 1996 acceptance speech. The problem with that is that Bob Dole is still alive. Bob Dole endorsed Donald Trump in 2016. We haven’t heard a peep from him or most party regulars about the transformation of the GOP into a white nationalist party. I guess they’re afraid to have a cross burned on their tidy white bread lawns.

Here’s hoping that the Charlottesville is a turning point in the struggle against our white nationalist president* and his despicable supporters. Remember what Hillary Clinton said about the basket of deplorables? She was right about that and so much else.

Since the Pepe the frog crowd  is fond of using memes to wage their war against trite genocide, I’ll fight tiki torch fire with tiki torch fire:

Lost Causers Fester In Charlottesville

I’ve spent a lot of time in Charlottesville over the years. It’s a lovely college town with a population of 45K when the University of Virginia isn’t in session. Dr. A spent her formative years in Staunton 45 miles away, and studied and worked in Charlottesville. We know and love the place. We still have friends there including Parenthetical who wrote a guest post about the May warmup demonstration aka the Klanbake.

Charlottesville is not your typical “moonlight and magnolias” Southern college town. UVA alums think of their school as a Southern outpost of the Ivy League and the town is full of preppies, not bubbas. But just like ANYWHERE in America, there are bigots, xenophobes, and racists nearby. Never forget that one of the ugliest fights over school desegregation took place in liberal Boston. And the president* who gave a green light to the self-styled alt-right is from liberal New York. It may be trite to say it but racism and bigotry are an American, not Southern, problem. It’s everywhere.

About the post title. I’ve mostly used the labels Lost Causers and Lost Cause Fest to describe the anti-monument removal protesters in New Orleans. Since Richard Spencer is not tied to my city (David Dukkke must be slipping), we saw less neo-Nazi shit here but who are bigger losers in history than the Nazis? The Lost Cause label fits them and will remain affixed to their odious cause here at First Draft.

I’m a writer so words mean a great deal to me. I remain conflicted as to what exactly to call the self-styled alt right. I lean in the direct of calling them white nationalists as a way of linking them to the right-wing nationalist movements in Europe. I tend to prefer the label neo-Nazis to just plain Nazis because the latter word is tied to a specific time, place, and people. I am not, however, going to quibble over those terms: a Fascist is a Fascist is a Fascist.

It’s obvious that the right-wing extremist groups who gathered in Charlottesville hope to replicate the Nazi vs. Communist street thuggery that preceded the Nazi takeover of Germany. The anti-fa folks are playing into their hands but it’s hard to argue with someone who defends themselves. Tension in Charlottesville was exacerbated by Virginia’s status as an open carry state. While I think that’s madness, there is a way to reduce the level of thuggery at future demonstrations in open carry states. Many of the neo-Nazi, unmasked Klan types were carrying riot shields, helmets, and billy clubs or baseball bats. Those items can be proscribed in the permitting process thereby allowing the cops to remove a person possessing them from the scene of the future crime. Legislative action would be better but I’m not holding my breath.

I was at a birthday party for a good friend on Saturday night. There was much talk about Charlottesville and the Insult Comedian’s non-statement about the neo-Nazi riot. As Athenae pointed out yesterday, there aren’t MANY SIDES to this issue. It’s a choice between fundamental human decency and hate. I’d like to focus on another side of Trump’s poorly delivered and half-assed remarks:

My administration is restoring the sacred bonds of loyalty between this nation and its citizens, but our citizens must also restore the bonds of trust and loyalty between one another. We must love each other, respect each other, and cherish our history and our future together. So important. We have to respect each other. Ideally, we have to love each other.

On the surface this sound okay because he talks about love, trust, and loyalty. The key phrase is in bold face: this is whoever wrote the remarks (my money is on Miller) way of signalling to the Lost Causers that Trump is on their side. This march was allegedly about keeping a monument to Robert E. Lee and cherishing history as seen by Richard Spencer and erstwhile Gret Stet Fuhrer David Dukkke. It’s certainly how they understood his remarks as historian Rick Perlstein pointed out on his Facebook feed:

I let Rick read the Daily Stormer so we didn’t have to.

It’s telling that a president* who is willing to attack gold star families, disabled reporters, Kim Jong-un, and Chinless Mitch by name is unwilling to call out neo-Nazis and Lost Cause racists. Why? They’re part of his base. Even if Trump is forced into naming names, it will be grudging, half-hearted, and meaningless. We know where he stands. He’s one of them.

It’s time for some comic relief. One of the twitter feeds I’ve been enjoying of late is Yes, You’re Racist. This particular exchange made me laugh on a rather grim weekend:

The picture of that slack-jawed preppie moron led to this bon mot by one of my favorite people on the tweeter tube, me:

Mosley was, of course, the leader of the pre-World War II British Union of Fascists. I half way expected to see the banner of his party waved in Charlottesville last weekend:

If you see the flag at future Lost Cause Fest events, you know what it is.

The best thing I’ve read about the events in Charlottesville came from Slate’s Dahlia Lithiwck who lives there. Here’s how she finished her piece:

The Nazis may come to town, terrorize and threaten people with guns, even brutally murder a young woman. This president may fail to condemn it. But all right-thinking Americans will recoil in horror. And white supremacists will be replaced. There is no room for them here. On Saturday they were relegated to parking at the shopping mall and walking miles in the hot sun, in their sad supervillain Comic-Con outfits. Today they are already slinking back to their own homes, where they are also being replaced, by history, by moral justice, and by our children, who are growing up exactly where they belong, at home, irreplaceable, sacred, and, especially today, brave.

I should give Dahlia the last word but I want to circle back to the featured image of Captain American punching Hitler. I am not an advocate of violence but Nazi punching strikes me (pun intended, it always is) as the least bad and most understandable form of violence. People who attend a rally packing heat below their absurd tiki torches deserve mockery and the odd punch. I’ll stick to the former but I’m beyond sermonizing about the latter.

The last word is part of my continuing effort to prove that there’s a Kinks song for every situation. This song is about Captain America asking for help in a troubled time:

I remember, when you were down
And you needed a helping hand
I came to feed you
But now that I need you
You won’t give me a second glance
Now I’m calling all citizens from all over the world
This is Captain America calling
I bailed you out when you were down on your knees
So will you catch me now I’m falling

The song was written for 1979’s Low Budget album but rings truer than ever:

Sides

I’ve been reading about them for months now.

Trump supporters. Trump voters. Most of them in rural areas, lots of them poor.

All of them white.

I’ve been reading lots of stories about why they voted for Trump. Sympathetic stories.

And all these stories say the same thing.

I never heard anybody blame Hispanics for local crime, or make racist remarks about them; it was much more common to encounter Islamophobia, although the nearest mosque is about four hours away.

All the stories say the same thing. “Trump’s voters didn’t mention race.”

They did, though.

They are talking about race.

They don’t use the word “black” or “Hispanic.” They don’t use the epithets. They don’t say that, so we say they’re not talking about race.

When they talk about people taking from the system, though?

They’re talking about race.

When they talk about undocumented immigrants swarming over the borders taking American jobs?

They’re talking about race.

When they talk about crime, they’re talking about race. When they talk about schools, they’re talking about race. When they talk about culture, about parenting, about music, they’re talking about race.

You can almost see it, the black or brown person they imagine in their heads, the pre-arranged exception to the sweetly stated rule that of course all of us are equals before our God. You can hear it in their voices when the picture shifts and if you say you can’t you’re a liar.

White people like me go to church with white people like them. We have dinner with white people like them. We work with white people like them and you can hear it, the nastiness underlying their assumptions when they’re among people who look like them.

Every single one of them is talking about race, and every single one of them who hates Obama (not talking about disliking or criticizing Obama, talking about hating) is talking about race and we have to stop letting them off the hook, like this is some kind of big mystery.

Where did it come from? We wonder.

We have to stop acting like there are only two sides, good upstanding citizens who’d never in a million years ride in a rally like the one in Charlottesville, and the motherfucking grand wizards. We have to stop acting like this is the dichotomy: 

Sometimes I worry that I am going to end up working on a plantation, or behind a wall or in a camp, the way things are going. I have to ask about race. “People try to make us out as crazy rednecks or hood-wearing Klansmen,” a man from rural Ohio told me.

Because if that’s the dichotomy, of course the light is winning, and Hillary Clinton (or shit, even Ben Carson) is president, and when this bullshit went down yesterday the president came out and said, “Fuck this shit, wave a Confederate flag and get hanged for treason, you garbage slobs.” If the bar we’re holding people to is “not a torch-bearing Nazi,” well, lots of us pass that test.

 

Passing that test shouldn’t be enough to get you into heaven. It shouldn’t be enough to buy you sympathetic profiles in every publication imaginable. It shouldn’t get you excused from racism. Racism doesn’t have two faces. It has a thousand, including the ones in Charlottesville, but also including all those nice people who just voted for Trump because they were mad at the world, and all those nice people who just think political correctness is out of control, and all those nice people who just moved here for the schools.

Racism has a thousand sides (including the one in the mirror, let’s not kid ourselves, crackers). You’re not lighting up a tiki torch? Good for you, I guess, but don’t come over here looking for a medal when you pulled a GOP lever because Obama gave too many people extra welfare.

You didn’t have to say the n-word to talk about race. Those people in Charlottesville heard you loud and clear.

A.

The Fog Of Cosmopolitan History

I wish I were writing about the drink they were obsessed with on Sex and the City or the magazine of that name. Not that I’d drink a cosmopolitan since they contain the demon vodka. I’m referring to comments by made by alt-right nutbar Stephen Miller in response to a question posed by CNN’s Jim Acosta. Acosta is on the verge of becoming the Dan Rather of the current White House press corps. You may recall that Dan the Man was the teevee reporter who really got under Tricky’s skin when the Watergate shit was hitting the fan. Splat. Tom Brokaw was a mere fly to be swatted away. I’m surprised Nixon didn’t make Ron Ziegler his designated fly killer. He was vaguely Priebusian, after all.

Back to the “pride” of Duke University who makes up for his lack of people skills with his use of buzz words:

The conversation went off the rails. At one point, Acosta implied the policy would favor immigrants from English-speaking countries — a logical assumption, if English speaking skills are prioritized in green card applicants.

“Are we just going to bring in people from Great Britain and Australia?” he asked.

“No! This is an amazing moment,” Miller said triumphantly. “This is an amazing moment. That you think only people from Great Britain or Australia would speak English is so insulting to millions of hardworking immigrants who do speak English from all over the world.”

“Of course the are people who come — ” Acosta began.

“But that’s not what you said, and it shows your cosmopolitan bias,” Miller said.

“It sounds like you’re trying to engineer the racial and ethnic flow of people into this country as policy,” Acosta said.

“Jim, that is one of the most outrageous, insulting, ignorant and foolish things you’ve ever said,” Miller said. “The notion that you think that this is a racist bill is so wrong and so insulting”

That part of the exchange was too juicy to cut. I’ve bold-faced the buzz words: cosmopolitan bias. There has been much back and forth as to whether this makes a white dude with a boring name a Nazi neo or otherwise. It think it shows his inclination toward Putinesque neo-Fascism since Putinism is derived from Soviet Communism when it metastasized into kleptocracy.

“Rootless cosmopolitanism” was a Stalinist buzz word deployed during a post-war anti-Semitic campaign waged by the Soviet dictator and his lackeys. Many of the enemies purged by Stalin during the Thirties were Jewish but the post-war campaign had more to do with the Red Tsar’s paranoia and dipsomania. Stalin was a vodka drinker. What more evidence do you need that vodka is Satan’s beverage?

It really doesn’t matter what one calls the likes of Miller be it Nazi or Facisct. He’s a white nationalist aka white supremacist aka racist aka bigot. He’s also known as a malaka, which ends in aka. We have a theme here, which has nothing to do with the Mardi Gras Indian song Aka Aka. Yeah, I know, it’s Iko Iko. Cut a brother some slack, y’all. I have a pun community to tend to.

Miller is also historically illiterate and an obnoxious know-it-all. That makes him the perfect Trumper. I am filled with glee whenever the White House trots him out to alienate everyone who isn’t a fan of Jeff Bo and Bannon. Thanks, Donald.

This is as good a time as any to point y’all at the Vanity Fair profile of Miller that discussed in a Saturday post in a segment called Annals of a Duke Puke. The segment title is as true now as it was two months ago.

I don’t feel like writing a treastise on my views about immigration. I’ve already done that so I’ll point you in the direction of a 2014 post, Pulling Up The Drawbridge. It says it all.

Finally, I feel bad for rock and roll hall of famer Steve Miller for having the same name as the Duke Puke. The Real Steve Miller gets the last word with a song that, despite the title, has nothing to do with MAGA maggots.

“Somebody get me a cheeseburger.”

What’s more American than that?

NOLA Mayor’s Race: The Forgotten Cause

New Orleans is experiencing monuments fatigue according to four leading contenders to replace Mayor Mitch Landrieu. Tyler Bridges of the Advocate quotes several of the front-runners in a front pager from Monday’s dead tree edition:

The monuments are serving as a huge distraction to this entire campaign,” said Desiree Charbonnet, a former Municipal Court judge who has won attention by collecting the biggest campaign war chest.

“We have way bigger fish to fry,” added Charbonnet, who is African-American. “They’re down. They’re probably going to stay down. The next move is to discuss what everyone can agree on to replace them.”

First of all, the phrase “war chest” is one of the lamest clichés of political journalism. It should be sent to the same place they’re storing Lee, Davis, and Beauregard.  If I weren’t opposed to capital punishment, I’d advocate the phrase be led to the gallows or taken out back and shot. Enough already.

The leading candidates: Desiree Charbonnet, Michael Bagneris, Latoya Cantrell, and Troy Henry are African-American. They’re all eager to be the crossover candidate who reaches the 36% of voters who are white, which is why they’re downplaying the monuments mishigas. Charbonnet has already proposed an OTT anti-crime package in the hopes of attracting white law-and-order voters. It does nothing for me or other white liberals who are a substantial chunk of the 36%. It would also be wise for Charbonnet not to say the monuments are “probably going to stay down.” That just generates uncertainty and more questions on an issue she wants to avoid.

The most amusing quote Bridges got out of the candidates came from businessman Troy Henry. He ran against Mitch Landrieu and finished a distant second with 13.8% of the vote in 2010. He’s best know for his friendship and business partnership with Wendell (Bunk) Pierce. Here’s Henry putting his foot in his mouth:

Henry said he supported the removal of the Battle of Liberty Place monument, which commemorated a white supremacist militia that fought in the city’s streets against Louisiana’s biracial Reconstruction-era government in 1874.

“It was a tribute to something heinous,” he said. “The other ones, quite frankly, I don’t know enough about the details and backgrounds of those folks,” meaning Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Gens. Robert E. Lee and P.G.T. Beauregard.

That’s right ladies and germs, a man who wants to be Mayor of New Orleans, with its tri-centennial year on the horizon, is either a historical ignoramus or wants to duck the issue so badly that he’s willing to look like one. It reminds me of the just ousted  White House communications director who don’t know Mooch about history. Don’t blame me for that groaner: I got it from First Draft pun consultant James Karst.

One candidate who is willing to discuss the monuments is a guy named Frank Scurlock. He was opposed to removal and was on the periphery of the Lost Cause Fest demonstrations. It’s unclear how many locals are still sitting emotional hillbilly shiva. Scurlock is a non-factor in the race but could get 5-10% of the vote from Republicans and unrepentant bigots. He has money but his ceiling is 15% which was Trump’s total in Orleans Parish. New Orleans is a very blue city, y’all.

Do I think the monuments issue should dominate the Mayoral race? Absolutely not but neither should it be ignored. We still need a conversation as to what to do with the removed monuments as well as a coherent policy on how to address this issue in the future. The candidates are doing themselves no favors by ducking it. They should also remember how many of the 36% are white liberals. Hillary Clinton got 81% in Orleans Parish. Repeat after me: New Orleans is a very blue city, y’all.

I’ll give the last word to former city councilman and current talk radio host Oliver Thomas. Oliver was the frontrunner to succeed Nagin in 2010 before a gambling habit and sticky fingers sent him to jail.

“It’s disingenuous,” said Thomas, a former city councilman. “When (the candidates) talk to us privately in the black community, it’s a real issue. They’re down with the brothers and sisters. But when they talk to the white press, they say we should move on. There’s one speech to the black community, and there’s another speech to the white community letting them know they’re a safe candidate.”

It’s time for less profile and more courage on this divisive issue.

Your Fondest Wish Comes True. THEN WHAT?

So let’s say that tomorrow Trump is indicted, impeached, frog-marched out of the White House, and his entire team including Pence and Ryan are in prison and Orrin Hatch is president.

Let’s say this happens (not a quarter of it is going to happen) and we all watch it on TV.

Then what? I mean it, then what? Like the next day what happens? We pop the champagne and assume it’s all over?

I think a lot of my fellow pale-faced liberal types are underthinking the amount of violence people of color, young people, and women are already facing because of Trump, and that’s after a VICTORY. Their whole angry worldview was validated in a national election and it’s just made them MORE angry. I didn’t think they could get more angry but they are.

These are the people arming and prepping themselves for the apocalypse, who bought an extra AR-15 just to piss those libtards off and have been stockpiling ammo since the days of that draft-dodger Bill Clinton. We all had a good time clowning on Meal Team Six back when they seized a frickin’ bird sanctuary, but put one of those assholes in a crowded room and he could mow down a movement.

Ninety percent of Trump supporters? If he’s thrown out of office they’ll be fine as long as whatever comes after him immediately gives them jobs. They’ll go to work and they’ll have less time to be pissed off. I don’t have an answer for that other 10 percent but I think we’re downplaying the threat they represent to people already feeling marginalized and targeted.

So if I seem less openly enthusiastic about the idea of impeachment or criminal proceedings against the Trump Syndicate, it isn’t because I think they’re innocent of anything. It’s because even if they’re found guilty, they won’t suffer a fraction as much as those with so much more to lose already.

A.

Malaka Of The Week: Paul Congemi

It’s been quite some time since I wrote a “never heard of them and hope to never hear of them again” malaka of the week post. The time is nigh. And that is why Paul Congemi is malaka of the week.

Congemi is best described as a minor league Insult Comedian. He’s running for Mayor of St. Petersburg-Florida, not Russia-and lost his shit at a candidates forum the other night and attacked one of his opponents thusly:

After the assertion was made he was a “non-factor” in the race, Mayoral Candidate Paul Congemi snapped back at members of the Uhuru movement and their candidate, Jesse Nevel during a mayoral debate July 18 in St. Pete.

Congemi’s response was one many may not have expected.

“Mr. Nevel you and your people talk about reparations. The reparations that you talk about, Mr. Nevel, your people already got your reparations. Your reparations came in the form of a man named Barack Obama,” Congemi said, pointing a finger at the audience as he spoke.

He continued, “My advice to you, if you don’t like it here in America, planes leave every hour from Tampa airport. Go back to Africa. Go back to Africa. Go back!”

He seems nice.

This is what Trump has wrought. People feel free to say things in public that shouldn’t even be uttered privately. Malaka Congemi’s diatribe is not an isolated incident: hate crimes are on the rise. Do you want to see video? We have embedded video:

Perhaps the best thing about this story is the punworthy name of the reporter, Evan Axelbank. I could pun on that name until the cows come home but I won’t. Why? I don’t want a broken axel, you can take that to the bank. I guess that promise was evanescent…

I support the right of minor candidates to run for municipal office. Here in New Orleans, perennial candidate Manny Chevrolet Bruno is making his umpteenth run for Mayor with the recurring slogan, “a troubled man for troubled times.” Congemi is just plain trouble since this is his idea of an apology:

On Wednesday, Congemi clarified his remarks, saying that his advice was meant only for Nevel’s group of supporters. “Not all African Americans. Just those that Nevel represents,” Congemi wrote in a statement sent to the Tampa Bay Times.

The Uhuru Solidarity Movement organizes white people to join Africans in their struggle to “reclaim their land, labor, resources, and self-determination,” according to its website.

It fights for reparations to redress systemic discrimination against black people.

Oh, it’s only the uppity ones, not the good ones. Now where have we heard that before?

I wonder if David Dukkke has any plans to campaign for Congemi. The latter might as well go all the way in his campaign since he has no chance of winning. And that is why Paul Congemi is malaka of the week.

The last word goes to  my homeys, the Meters:

Oh yeah, hat tip to Lamar White Jr. of the Bayou Brief.

Look Who Just Showed Up, Everybody!

It’s the anthropologists of Real America, again, making sure we hear from a guy who carries Grover Norquist’s bags around! 

In 1997, Patterson was riding in a car that was hit by a drunk driver, and the bones of his left arm were shattered into several dozen pieces. After six surgeries, he suffered permanent nerve damage, decreased arm mobility, and no future as a closeup magician. Having acquired his G.E.D., he enrolled in classes at the University of Miami. The quality of Patterson’s writing impressed an instructor, who persuaded him to apply to Columbia. The year that Patterson turned thirty, he became an Ivy League freshman. He majored in classics. Every night, he translated four hundred lines of ancient Greek and Latin. In class, he often argued with professors and students.

“The default view seemed to be that Western civilization is inherently bad,” he told me. In one history seminar, when students discussed the evils of the Western slave trade, Patterson pointed out that many cultures had practiced slavery, but that nobody decided to eradicate it until individuals in the West took up the cause. The class booed him. In Patterson’s opinion, most people at Columbia believed that only liberal views were legitimate, whereas his experiences in Grand Junction, and his textbook lessons from magic, indicated otherwise. (“States of mind are no different than feats of manual dexterity. Both can be learned through patience and diligence.”)

“Look, I’m a high-school dropout who went to an Ivy League school,” Patterson said. “I’ve seen both sides. The people at Columbia are not smarter.” He continued, “I went to Columbia at the height of the Iraq War. There were really legitimate arguments against going into Iraq. But I found that the really good arguments against going were made by William F. Buckley, Bob Novak, and Pat Buchanan. What I saw on the left was all slogans and group thought and clichés.”

Patterson graduated with honors and a reinvigorated sense of political conviction. For the past seven years, he’s worked for conservative nonprofit organizations, most recently in anti-union activism. In 2013, the United Auto Workers tried to unionize a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, where Patterson demonstrated a knack for billboards and catchphrases. On one sign, he paired a photograph of a hollowed-out Packard plant with the words “Detroit: Brought to You by the UAW.” Another billboard said “United Auto Workers,” with the word “Auto” crossed out and replaced by “Obama,” written in red.

In Patterson’s opinion, such issues are cultural and emotional as much as economic. He believes that unions once served a critical function in American industry, but that the leadership, like that of the Democratic Party, has drifted too far from its base. Union heads back liberal candidates such as Obama and Clinton while dues-paying members tend to hold very different views. Patterson also thinks that free trade, which he once embraced as a conservative, has damaged American industries, and he now supports some more protectionist measures. His message resonated in Chattanooga, where, in 2014, workers delivered a stinging defeat to the U.A.W. Since then, Patterson has continued his advocacy in communities across the country, under the auspices of Americans for Tax Reform, which was founded by the conservative advocate Grover Norquist. “So now I bust unions for Grover Norquist with a classics degree and as a former magician,” he told me.

He’s a flack. You sent a reporter to the Real America, NewGoddamnYorker, and you found a GOP flack with a funny backstory, and you used him as an example of why Trump won. You let him say a thousand words that all boil down to racism (unions were fine until black people and brown immigrants started to benefit) and this is how Trump is transforming rural America? This asshole lives in Washington DC, no matter where he came from, and he’s paid to push a line you’ve bit on. Nice job.

The entire piece is an exercise in how to let white people avoid saying “racism,” perhaps best exemplified in this paragraph:

Before Trump took office, people I met in Grand Junction emphasized pragmatic reasons for supporting him. The economy was in trouble, and Trump was a businessman who knew how to make rational, profit-oriented decisions. Supporters almost always complained about some aspect of his character, but they also believed that these flaws were likely to help him succeed in Washington. “I’m not voting for him to be my pastor,” Kathy Rehberg, a local real-estate agent, said. “I’m voting for him to be President. If I have rats in my basement, I’m going to try to find the best rat killer out there. I don’t care if he’s ugly or if he’s sociable. All I care about is if he kills rats.”

That’s not loaded language at all when you’re a white lady talking about a candidate who campaigned on promises to boot illegal immigrants from the country.

These people similarly seem really nice:

The calculus seemed to have shifted: Trump’s negative qualities, which once had been described as a means to an end, now had value of their own. The point wasn’t necessarily to get things done; it was to retaliate against the media and other enemies. This had always seemed fundamental to Trump’s appeal, but people had been less likely to express it so starkly before he entered office. “For those of us who believe that the media has been corrupt for a lot of years, it’s a way of poking at the jellyfish,” Karen Kulp told me in late April. “Just to make them mad.”

If you think this is new, you must have slept through the last 40 fucking years. Republican legislators have been making their bones attacking journalists and universities for DECADES. Until recently, they didn’t have a compliant media machine of their own to amplify their resentments, whip them up to turn on their neighbors white and otherwise, and suppress the votes of those they thought were looking down on them.

For as long as there have been public universities and newspapers, there have been assholes attacking them as anti-American. Once upon a time, though, we didn’t mount expeditions into the assholes’ native territory with the aim of understanding the people who wanted us dead.

In Grand Junction, it was often dispiriting to see such enthusiasm for a figure who could become the ultimate political boom-and-bust. There was idealism, too, and so many pro-Trump opinions were the fruit of powerful and legitimate life experiences. “We just assume that if someone voted for Trump that they’re racist and uneducated,” Jeriel Brammeier, the twenty-six-year-old chair of the local Democratic Party, told me. “We can’t think about it like that.” People have reasons for the things that they believe, and the intensity of their experiences can’t be taken for granted; it’s not simply a matter of having Fox News on in the background. But perhaps this is a way to distinguish between the President and his supporters. Almost everybody I met in Grand Junction seemed more complex, more interesting, and more decent than the man who inspires them.

Maybe they did. But if you are truly so dim as to think that they wouldn’t seem more complex, more interesting and more decent TO YOU because YOU’RE A WHITE GUY, I have a membership to Mar-A-Lago to sell you.

They seemed better than the man they voted for? Too bad. They voted for him. I don’t care if they’re racist and uneducated in real life or if they have a bunch of graduate degrees and ten black friends, because they voted for racism and stupidity anyway.

They don’t want people looking down on them? They can fix that really easily by BEING BETTER HUMAN BEINGS.

This whole story is a mess, and the only interesting aspect of it is the idea that voting for Trump is performative, something done not to improve anyone’s life but to make the voter feel powerful and good in a world that tries to snuff such feelings out. I wonder if anyone’s ever made that point before. 

A.

Lost Cause Fest, Mississippi Style

Photograph by Alan Hammons.

The stock line for monuments Lost Causers has been “you’re erasing history.” As you can see above, that’s just what happened next door in Mississippi.

A civil rights historical marker in Mississippi has been vandalized, obliterating information about black teenager Emmett Till, who was kidnapped and lynched in 1955.

The slaying galvanized the civil rights movement when Till’s mother, Mamie Till Mobley, had an open-casket funeral in Chicago to show how her 14-year-old son had been brutalized while he was visiting the Mississippi Delta.

Allan Hammons, whose public relations firm made the marker, said Monday that someone scratched the marker with a blunt tool in May. During the past week, a tour group discovered vinyl panels had been peeled off the back of the metal marker in Money, Mississippi. The panels contained photos and words about Till.

“Who knows what motivates people to do this?” Hammons said, noting that traffic signs are common targets for vandals and shooters in rural areas. “Vandals have been around since the beginning of time.”

I know what motivates people to do such a thing: racism. Given the marker’s relative proximity to New Orleans, it could also be misdirected payback for the removal of the white supremacy monuments here. If that sounds like a stretch, they’re still sitting hillbilly shiva across from the former Jefferson Davis monument. They’re only here on the weekends but they’re still at it.

This is not the first time the Till marker has been vandalized but it’s the most sinister. Bullet holes can be written off as the work of drunken peckerwoods. This cannot. It took time, effort, and planning. It’s the work of sober peckerwoods with malicious intent.

The electoral college victory of president* Trump has ushered in an era of intolerance as well as the new gilded age I’ve written about before. It’s fitting: Jim Crow swept the South *during* the Gilded Age. Trump’s rhetoric about political correctness has given racists and xenophobic bigots a green light to do what they do best; hate.

Trump is too dim and self-absorbed to feel any regrets over the malign forces he has unleashed. Shallow thy name is Donald. I’d like to point out that D.W. Griffith *did* feel some regrets over the turmoil caused by The Birth of a Nation. It led to a second epic, Intolerance. It was too diffuse and arty to have the same impact but it showed that Griffith was human and capable of  minimal growth. The Insult Comedian is not. But you knew that already.

Back to the notion of “erasing history.” I’m against it, but continue to believe that who or what we honor says a lot about who we are as a people. The Lee and Davis monuments were erected to honor white supremacy and a war that was waged to preserve human bondage. The Emmett Till marker was put up to honor a young man whose lynching helped inspire the Civil Rights movement.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: intent is everything. The Civil Rights movement is worthy of public celebration, white supremacy is not. It’s not the erasure of history to celebrate the positive whilst castigating the negative. I do not want anyone to forget slavery, segregation, and racial violence. I just don’t want them celebrated in the public green.

 

Someone Told People to Resent Others

This thread is worth reading, referencing as it does the ongoing “resentment politics” that have devastated Scott Walker’s Wisconsin:

As I keep saying, people do not independently come to the conclusion that all minorities are T-bone buying welfare cheats dragging on the system and burning down the ‘hood. Someone TELLS them that. We can’t just accept that outlook as the reality and address it with policy without squarely facing who is pushing the message and how they are doing it.

Because until we counter the voices yelling at them through their speakers, it won’t matter if Democrats DO come out strongly in favor of Medicare for All, if they remind people they were the only ones who gave even half a fuck about reining in rapacious health care companies, if they run ads every other second touting free community college and support for organized labor. It won’t matter if they all turn into St. Bernie Sanders, or for that matter St. Hillary Clinton as she was instead of as she was portrayed. It won’t matter if we run Obama 12 more times.

So long as there is a chorus of wingnut dickbags on Fox and talk radio (and talk radio, in Wisconsin especially, is a mental cancer) telling them Democrats want to give all your hard-earned money to lazy black women who are having too many babies, that will always drown anything else out. So long as cable news continues to poison the well of public discourse and define the narrative as “politics is broken, everybody is bad, just give up,” so long as local papers run four pages on a good day and three of those are syndicated columns talking about “Washington” being the problem, the only thing people are going to hear is what Republicans want them to hear.

It’s understandable, sure, to my fellow palefaces. Give me a choice between studying and shooting heroin, I’m gonna show you my veins. I know these people, I meet them on the regular, and you do not have to dig very far under the surface to find the jokes about people getting fat on soda and public assistance while they, the virtuous, just marvel at the destruction of their neighborhoods by “those” elements.

They side-eye every low-hanging-pantsed dude they see on a trip to the mall because THAT is who they picture taking everything away from them. It’s all one thing. They don’t separate their contempt into rural vs. urban vs. black vs. white boxes. I’m not making a joke. You can’t counter vagaries like that with specifics of policy.

You have to counter it with entertainment and right now we have no show.

A.

Why Don’t They Just Move?

Because this, you dipshits: 

Activists took to the streets in the summer of 1967 for 200 consecutive days of fair housing protests, and were sometimes greeted with racial slurs, eggs and rocks as they crossed the Menomonee River, via the 16th Street Viaduct, into the white South Side.

The Common Council eventually ratified a fair housing law in 1968, weeks after the federal government passed its landmark measure.

The racial dividing lines were already drawn, however, and barriers to black upward mobility remained. Even the neighborhood where the baseball slugger Hank Aaron moved in the late 1950s could not avoid a downward spiral. While the black population in the Rufus King area grew from 0.4 percent in 1960 to 89 percent in 1980, its median home value dropped from 9 percent above the city’s median to 23 percent below it, according to “Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods,” a book by John Gurda.

Those historic dynamics of race and housing have not disappeared, either. As recently as 2006, a city government report found that affluent, nonwhite Milwaukeeans were 2.7 times likelier to be denied home loans than white people with similar incomes.

So the bank wouldn’t give your grandparents a home loan, so they had no money to use to lift other family members up, so those family members couldn’t lift up others, and by the way even if they DID bootstrap and such, they’d have had rocks thrown through their windows. For shit’s sake, this is in living memory, this isn’t an ice age ago, so let’s stop with the “why does everything have to be about race anyway” nonsense. It has to be about race because it is about race.

A.

First Draft Potpourri For $200, Alex

Last week’s potpourri post smelled sweeter than jasmine so I thought I’d do it again. Actually, I hate potpourri: I had a distant relative who had it everywhere in her house even in the urn with her late husband’s ashes. I am not making this up. It made me sneeze: the potpourri, not the ashes. I do, however, like Jeopardy-style potpourri.

Eat Two, Brute? We begin with the Trumpers who are outraged about the Shakespeare in the Park production of Julius Caesar depicting the Insult Comedian as Caesar. I guess the protesters never studied Julius Caesar in high school or they’d know that the plotters are NOT the heroes of the piece. Besides, there was a production a few years back with an Obama-like Caesar, which ran without incident. Details are beyond people who say shit like this:

“People like me, I don’t even know if they’d let me in,” Ms. Pujol said outside the Delacorte Theater, the home of Shakespeare in the Park. “I am not far right. No one here is far right. We’re only accused of being far right because we love America.”

You could have bought a ticket, ya cheap bastid. Shakespeare did not have the Scalise shooting on his mind when either he, Christopher Marlowe, or Francis Bacon wrote the play. It was first staged in 1599, after all. Besides, if you were a film buff you’d know that James Mason was in his villain phase when he played Brutus in the 1953 film version. Btw, he looked almost as good in a skirt as Brando.

Is He Is Or Is He Ain’t? Team Trump is confused. Anyone surprised? Me neither. Trump’s new mouthpiece Jay Sekulow claims the president* is not under investigation as opposed to what a certain Insult Comedian with cotton candy piss hair tweeted out:

It’s more likely than not that Trump hired Sekulow because the wingnut lawyer makes frequent appearances on Fox News. He’s NOT a criminal defense lawyer. For all we know, Trump hired John Dowd because the latter wrote the report that got Pete Rose banned from baseball in 1989. Trump *is* a Yankees fan and the Big Red Machine swept them in the 1976 World Series.

Trump’s defense is going to be as entertaining as it is inept. He’ll inevitably pit them against one another, not listen to any of them, and refuse to pay. Fun times. Believe me.

Rumor Mill Blues: This is a weird one. The Hill is mentioning New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu as a Democratic “dark horse” for the 2020 presidential race. The Mayor has shown no interest in running to replace Trump, Pence, or Ryan. It’s hard to tell which one will be Oval One in 2020. The Gambit’s Kevin Allman has the details.

Speaking of the local alternative weekly, they quoted yours truly in their commentary on the Scalise shooting. Thanks, y’all.

Tweet Of The Weekend: There’s a weird cat related tweet going around. I’m uncertain if it’s meant literally or as satire:

What about white cats? I had one that-to my everlasting shame-I named Q-Tip. He was too dim as well as too sweet to plot against anything or anyone. Believe me.

Finally, a more uplifting message from the NYT’s Charles Blow:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Get Back

Collage from Une Semaine de Bonte by Max Ernst.

The celestial switch has flipped and it’s full-tilt summer in New Orleans. We’ve also had a lot of rain but not in the classic downpour between 2 and 3 every afternoon pattern. Instead, we’ve had the sort of all day rain that makes one want to curl up in a ball. Of course, Oscar and Della Street need no such excuse, it’s what they do. It’s probably down to climate change but I’m not a meteorologist so what the hell do I know?

Today is the 45th anniversary of the arrest of the Watergate burglars. That scandal is much in the news for some peculiar reason. #sarcasm. One major difference between then and now is that many people argued that Tricky Dick was too smart to be involved in such a stupid crime. We’re not hearing that about the Current Occupant who is easily the most self-destructive and stupid president* in our history. Many think he’s already the worst ever. It’s too early to say, but he’s in a race to the bottom along with George W. Bush, Andrew Johnson, and James Buchanan

Let’s move on to a happier subject, this week’s theme song. The Beatles have tightly restricted online access to the original studio versions of their tunes. Fortunately, Get Back was performed by the Fab Four during their legendary London rooftop concert.  We also have Macca on the kinda sorta rooftop of the Ed Sullivan Theatre. I guess that’s what they mean by shouting from the rooftops.

Yeah, I know. It’s called a marquee; not be confused with les Maquis.

It’s unclear to me if Jo Jo ever got back to where he once belonged. We’ll resume our rooftop shout-a-thon after the break. Marquee my words…

Continue reading

Saturday Odds & Sods: One Way Out

Part of the Migration Series by Jacob Lawrence.

It was politics Thursday here at Adrastos World HQ. In addition to Comeypalooza,  Oscar and I watched the British election returns. It’s always great fun to see the BBC’s venerable David Dimbleby at work in what are the wee hours in the UK. He gets a bit punchy whereas the young uns are falling out. I dig their graphics, especially the virtual House of Commons. It’s uncommonly cool.

The Tories ran a dreadful campaign and fell short of a majority in the House of Commons. The Maybot has vowed to soldier on with help from the Ulster Unionists but Tory knives are sharpening after her big gamble flopped. I’m not a huge Jeremy Corbyn fan BUT the man is a good campaigner and Labour made impressive gains. If the Maybot attempts to stay indefinitely there may be another election sooner than the British people would like. Stay tuned.

We return to our regularly scheduled Saturday programming.

The topic of who wrote this week’s theme song is the subject of considerable debate. One Way Out has been credited to both Elmore James and Sonny Boy Williamson. I haven’t the foggiest idea who the real songwriter is but it’s a helluva tune. There was even a 1965 variation by GL Crockett called It’s A Man Down There.

I’m not getting involved in the authorship fracas other than posting multiple versions of this blues classic. In fact, I’m staying out of the Sonny Boy/Elmore thicket altogether by posting the Allman Brothers Band, Crockett, and a rendition by John Hiatt from a Gregg Allman tribute. We begin with the version that I first heard on the radio longer ago than I care to admit. There ain’t nothing better than live Allman Brothers:

There’s only way out here at First Draft as well. I’ll show you the exit after the break.

Continue reading

Saturday Odds & Sods: All Shook Up

March by Grant Wood.

The monuments aftershocks continue here in New Orleans. I went to a friend’s kid’s birthday party and was warned to skip the subject because there were some rabid Lost Causers invited. They went there, I did not. I asked for a gold star but did not get one. I considered pitching a fit but thought better of it.

While we’re on the subject of the late monuments, I have two articles to recommend, nay, commend. First, Adrastos acquaintances Campbell Robertson and Katy Reckdahl collaborated on a story connecting the monuments and family histories. Second, the local public radio station, WWNO, has a piece about a proposed monument to Oscar Dunn a former slave who was Gret Stet Lt. Governor during Reconstruction. The monument was never built. Dunn, however, is worthy of one. That’s where I’d like this process to go: Civil Rights figures. It’s what makes sense if we were striking a blow against white supremacy and the Confederacy.

I saw this week’s bucolic featured image on the Antiques Roadshow. I used it because I like the austere lines of the print by the austere Iowan, Grant Wood. Austere seems to be the word of the day. Besides, Dr. A won tickets to the Roadshow when it comes to New Orleans this July. I want them to know we’re coming.

I was horrified to learn from the Guardian that Elvis Presley’s spell is waning with the kids today. If they think of him at all, they think of bloated Elvis from the end of his life or the notorious body in the box picture.

As his peer Fats Domino would surely say, Ain’t That A Shame. Elvis brought rock-and-roll to the masses and was its first King, Besides, what will NOLA’s own Rolling Elvi do if the Elvis mystique is diminished?

Rolling Elvi, Muses Parade, 2011. Photo by Dr. A.

This week’s theme song, All Shook Up, was written by Otis Blackwell and recorded by Elvis in 1957. According to his biographer Peter Guralnick, the reason Elvis received a writing credit is that he came up with the title.

First up is Blackwell’s rendition followed by Elvis’ studio version and then the Jeff Beck Group with Rod Stewart belting it out.

I don’t know about you but I’m, uh, all shook up, which is why we’ll take a break at this point.

Continue reading

Malaka Of The Week: Lost Causer Karl Oliver

As I said in the last Saturday post, I’m burnt out on Lost Cause Fest. I’m ready to move on but as Michael Corleone said in Godfather III: “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.” In Michael’s case it was La Cosa Nostra, in my case it’s the Lost Causers. And that is why Mississippi State Representative Karl Oliver is malaka of the week.

Malaka Oliver fits into the category of “honorees” I’ve never heard of before and hope to never hear from again. His sole current claim to fame is a Facebook post that surfaced via Mississippi Today:

I’m glad that so many posted screen shots of this unhinged rant because it may disappear much like the Lost Cause itself; other Mississippi GOPers have condemned the remarks because he used the L word: LYNCHED. It’s a word that should never be used but seems to be making a comeback in the age of pro-Trump alt-right shitbirds.

Lost Causers like Malaka Oliver aren’t big on facts. It was not the “leadership of Louisiana” that removed (not destroyed) the white supremacy monuments, it was the City of New Orleans. I remember when conservatives favored local self-government but that seems be a cause as lost as the Civil War and Jim Crow. As Mayor Mitch Landrieu put it while the Lee statue was coming down: 

“The Civil War is over; the Confederacy lost and we are better for it.”

That would appear to be evident but apparently denial is a river that runs through Karl Oliver’s district. It’s a Lost Cause because y’all lost the war. Unfortunately, they won the peace both on the ground and in the history books. That’s life in what Gore Vidal (who had deep Southern roots) called “The United States of Amnesia.”

This is an issue of local self-government. If other municipalities choose not to remove their monuments, ain’t nobody’s business but their own. I don’t believe in telling other people what to think or believe. It’s up to them. Malaka Oliver would be wise to mind his beeswax and butt out. And that is why Lost Causer Karl Oliver is malaka of the week.

INSTANT UPDATE: Malaka Oliver apologized under pressure for using the L word.  I guess this peckerwood shit stain won’t show up with a rope in New Orleans any time soon then.

I have some Lost Cause Fest lagniappe. First, a letter to the editor published by the Advocate, which is, in a word, unhinged. It’s amusing to see my yuppie, gentrifying Mayor referred to as having “a program of Social Marxism.”

Second, a NYT opinion article by Brent Staples about the motives of Richard Spencer and the tiki torch protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia. It has a pretty darn catchy title, How the Swastika Became a Confederate Flag.

Finally, my own Krewe of Spank posted this reminder of  2016’s Arthur Hard-On Mardi Gras Guide on the book of faces. The post wouldn’t embed, but here’s the picture:

Spanks for the memories.

 

Guest Post: Lost Cause Fest, Virginia Style

There was a rather Klannish Lost Cause Fest rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend. I have an old friend who is a native Virginian and longtime Charlottesville resident. I reached out to him, asking for a local’s perspective. He has blogged in the past as Parenthetical, so we revived that pen name for this post. We begin with a photo of  Lost Cause Fest, Virginia Style:

Take it away, Parenthetical:

It was a good weekend for home and garden sections around town. Richard Spencer, the UVA alumnus who has been banned from 25 European countries for his supremacist efforts, found an excuse to come back to Charlottesville last Saturday. Some folks carry a torch for their college sweetheart, but Spencer returned to carry a tiki torch for a Robert E. Lee statue that has been endangered by a recent bout of citizen input. Spencer’s appearance made national news because the unofficial leader of the Alt White got several dozen other folks to carry torches, too. (The revolution begins on Aisle 8, just follow the scent of victim complexes and lemongrass. Be careful with that lamp oil, Eugene.)

As an Albemarle County resident who lives about 10 minutes away from the statue, this protest was unwelcome, but even in a town like C’ville, it wasn’t that surprising. In the election-year yard sign wars, Trump/Pence dominated once you got even ten minutes out of town. Plus there’s the occasional Confederate flag you’ll still see in yards not much further out.

Another reason: I grew up an hour down the road in 1970s Richmond, where the memories and grudges of the Late Unpleasantness were so pervasive and entrenched that a kid wouldn’t even recognize them as such. Let’s hit the highlights.

My first Little League game was at Jefferson-Davis Elementary. My mother bought me some old Civil War board game at a yard sale, and I was always the South as a matter of course (my choice, she didn’t care). I went to private school for one year early on, and they used even/odd birthdays to divide us into two standing groups for purposes of recess/exercises/lunch/etc. You were either a Jackson or a Lee. This was over a century after Appomattox. Jacksons and Lees.

That doesn’t even get us down to Monument Avenue, with its stretch of formidable tributes to the Confederate giants. There’s Jackson, Lee, Davis … and thanks to his eponymous Circle, you even know exactly where J.E.B. Stuart is at all times (which goes to show how nostalgia always winds up improving on truth at least a little).

There’s a Southern accent where I come from, and I can’t imagine feeling truly at home anywhere else. Yet it was pretty easy to spend one’s entire youth blind to the discomfort and second-tier status that black families have faced daily from these persistent reminders, down to having to be a “Rebel” if you attend a certain high school (no, that hasn’t changed). You could probably still go your whole life in Richmond and never hear the word “treason” associated with the men so elegantly preserved for posterity on the avenue.

It was only well into adulthood before I recognized words like “treason” and “traitor” as relevant on par with the more familiar compliments. Yet all of those men knew exactly what they were doing back then. They surely knew that if they survived but weren’t victorious, they would likely face life in prison or death for their choice. Credit where it’s due, there’s bravery in that.

In the event that they lost, they sure didn’t expect to see their names plastered on dozens of schools and military bases for generations after the war. I bet those bleeding-heart Yankees regret going overboard with that aspect of postbellum make-nice — allowing names of the leaders of the insurrection to get set in concrete atop government installations(!), to be followed by their profiles cast in metal and literally placed on pedestals.

There they would remain throughout the South, waiting for the inevitable stares and questions from the next young wave of the Confederacy’s descendants, and then the next. They provided steadfast validation of the lost cause’s legitimacy, feeding an addiction to grievance when it should have been starved.

Which brings us back to Charlottesville 2017 and Klan Lite rallies, with milquetoast “What, these torches? But it’s dark out here!” attempts at intimidation by racists both too dumb and/or too timid to wear sheets. These folks like to lean on some government obligation toward “tradition” and “heritage” in these debates, but they don’t realize (or don’t let on that they realize) it was only the Civil Rights Act that brought the Confederate flag back out of the pickup truck windows and bedroom closets and museums and into vogue again around certain statehouses. Again, grievance about the loss of privilege, posing as pride.

Reasonable people can disagree about the statues. Even the mayor of this comparatively liberal island in central Virginia, a man who condemned this little tantrum flambe immediately, has supported keeping the Lee statue in place. It’s complicated. Still, when the mayor said, “This event involving torches at night in Lee Park was either profoundly ignorant or was designed to instill fear in our minority populations in a way that hearkens back to the days of the KKK,” all I wanted to say was, “Yeah, I think that’s what they call a false choice, bub.”

What government of the people and for the people can prioritize the discriminatory worldview of a long-gone era over the right of each living, breathing citizen to feel equally welcome in public spaces? Over a person’s confidence in the full true weight of their equality under the law? The next decision in the ongoing legal wrangling over the Lee statue is due in June.

At the end of the day, a culture should not ignore its history, but there’s a lot of room between remembering and celebrating. Buoyed by the knowledge of that history and the wisdom (hopefully) imparted by time, a community has the right to choose its heroes. Just ask all the folks who renamed their entire counties after Confederates. Today, we can surrender that power to now-dead, all-white committees who made decisions in meeting rooms down the hall from the colored water fountain — people who, let’s face it, weren’t commissioning those statues so we could “learn from the darker parts of our history,” — or we can choose better.

Lost Cause Fest Update: Two Down, Two To Go

My friend James Karst is obsessed with Jefferson Davis’ arrest by Union soldiers whilst in women’s clothing. I’ve written about this before in a Saturday post and even used the above picture. Davis in drag hardly paints the heroic picture that Lost Causers wish to portray. Wishful thinking is their forte. In fact, Davis was an incompetent leader closer in temperament and ability to Donald Trump than to fellow Lost Cause icon Robert E. Lee.

The Davis monument came down in the wee hours of Thursday morning. Even before a story was posted Wednesday night by the Advocate, it was the worst kept secret in town. That’s why I was vexed with people who were peeved about the article. There was no major violence last night and has been none since the process began thanks to some stellar work by NOPD. The citizens of New Orleans have a right to know what our government is up to. I still believe the monuments should be removed in the light of day. The Lost Causers are all hat and no cattle.

I’ve been pondering the significance of the Jeff Davis statue. It’s a monument that honors the leader of a defeated power. It’s as if Bismarck had a statue of Louis Napoleon erected in Berlin after the Franco-Prussian war. I don’t recall a flood of Kaiser Bill monuments in allied capitals after the Great War. It doesn’t even happen in other civil wars: Benito Juarez didn’t pay homage to Maximilian after winning that struggle. Juarez didn’t build a wall either. In short, the Davis monument is just plain weird unless it’s about white supremacy. It is.

Since I’m allergic to Lost Cause Festers and need my sleep, I was not there to bear witness to Davis’ downfall. One could even call it the second time Davis died in New Orleans. The local media were there, tweeting the night away. Here’s are some tweets from Danny Monteverde of WWL-TV along with some commentary:

This is my favorite detail of the process. I wonder if anyone was tempted to pop bubbles to annoy the Lost Causers.

Do they expect Zombie Jeff Davis along with Zombie Judah P. Benjamin to emerge and save the day? Btw, Confederate Secretary of State Benjamin is a local without a major monument. It may have had something to do with his faith. He was Jewish. White supremacists are typically anti-Semitic and don’t consider Jews to be fellow honkies.

I’d like to close this segment with a tweet that says everything you need to know about the Lost Causers:

This is proof positive that the Lost Causers who sat hillbilly shiva at this monument were “outside agitators,” not locals. Not even dread pro-monuments Lt. Gov Billy Nungesser would say such a thing. Stay classy, Lost Causers.

I hope Mayor Landrieu keeps his word that the remaining two monuments will come down “sooner rather than later.” We need to move past this and get back to what passes for normal in New Orleans. This process has dragged on so long that I’ve been tempted to put a dress on the Davis statue as a way of saying frock you to the Lost Causers.

Repeat after me: Tear them down now, Mr. Mayor. Stop the madness.

The Fog Of History: Lost Cause Fest Update

Pro tip: the first T is silent.

There hasn’t been any progress on removing the white supremacy monuments since I last wrote about it on May 2. The Lost Causers continue to hang out at the remaining monuments, which are now surrounded with police barricades to help keep the peace.

There was a pro-removal march from Congo Square to Lee Circle on Sunday. I didn’t attend because I don’t agree with all of the aims of march organizers, Take ‘Em Down NOLA. I take a more nuanced position on future monument and street name issues. I am, however, delighted to report that there were no incidents of major violence on Sunday; just a bit of pushing , shoving, and punching. There were reports that heavily armed wingnuts might be descending on New Orleans, but if they showed, they kept their powder dry as it were. NOPD announced sterner measures and enforced them. The protest and counter-protest went off without a hitch. Let’s score one for Mayor Landrieu and Chief Harrison.

There was a brief flurry of activity surrounding the PGT Beauregard  statue at City Park. A pro-monuments group tried to obtain a temporary restraining order claiming that the statue is owned by the park, not the city. The TRO was denied but a hearing is scheduled some time this week Given the fact that the City Council voted to declare the four monuments “public nuisances,” this latest gambit is apt to fail. I won’t even dignify the law moving through the state lege with a comment. In and of itself, it’s a public nuisance. Retroactive laws are disfavored both in Louisiana Civil Law and American public law, so it should have no effect on the current controversy.

The Beauregard statue has always been the toughest case of the four scheduled to be removed. Gen. Beauregard supported racial equality and healing in post-bellum Louisiana. Whether or not he wore bellum bottoms is beside the point…

There’s an interesting piece at New Orleans Magazine’s web site by its editor, Errol Laborde. He wants to leave the Beauregard monument be. I don’t agree with him but he makes an intelligent, historically based argument. Unfortunately, nuance and this issue do not go together, which is a pity. History tends to be foggy, not black and white.

Very few people on the “let ’em stay” side have attempted to make a sophisticated argument like the one advanced by Laborde. More typical are the neo-Confederate, neo-Nazi hillbilly types who rant about heritage and against political correctness.  Then there’s this remarkable comment that popped up on WWL-TV News:

“We love our history,” said Melissa Wainwright. “We love the African-Americans. We love jazz. If it weren’t for slavery, as bad as it was, would we have jazz in New Orleans?”

Local Italo-Americans were also involved in birthing jazz and many of the early jazzers such as Jelly Roll Morton were descendants of free people of color. So, yeah, we would have had jazz without human bondage.

I glanced at Ms. Wainwright’s FB page and it’s full of right-wing conspiracy buffery and praise for the dread Milo Yiannopoulos. My least favorite ethnic Greek is her favorite gay. So it goes.

I’ve mentioned Michael Tisserand before as George Herriman’s biographer. He’s also the former editor of Gambit Weekly as well as an arm-chair philosopher or is that parader? He wrote an excellent op-ed piece for the NYT wherein he made an oft neglected point:

In the late 1980s, when I was visiting New Orleans, the city I now call home, I stopped in a neighborhood drugstore and met a charming and talkative pharmacist. As he rang up my purchase, he placed a thin newspaper in my bag. “You might like to read this,” he said.

Later, I opened the bag and saw the journal of the National Association for the Advancement of White People, filled with stories lauding the organization’s founder, David Duke.

I recall the initial shock but also a sense of recognition. It was just one of countless “just between us” exchanges that I had already been offered in my lifetime. A white-on-white “just between us” moment might take the form of a pointed comment or just a knowing glance. Once it came to me in the middle of a handshake.

They are not limited to the South, but I have come to know them well in the 30 years that I’ve now lived in New Orleans.

I’ve had many of those moments myself. It’s as awkward as hell. It’s gotten to the point where I no longer bite my tongue unless it’s going to waste too much time. People like that druggist aren’t going to be convinced by the likes of me or Michael Tisserand. It’s like trying to talk sense to a Trumper. Of course, they’re all Trumpers now.

Finally, I mentioned having a more nuanced position on future monuments controversies. I first stated it in a 2015 post, The Fog Of History: The Jacksonian Straw Man. I think that each park, school, statue, street name, or whatever needs to be asessed individually. We need to look at why they were named for a specific person and what that person’s local ties were. Intent is everything. All four of the monuments in dispute right now were erected to either honor the Confederacy or to advance the cause of white supremacy. That is why I favor their removal.

The Andrew Jackson statue at Jackson Square is a harder case. It was erected to honor his role in the Battle of New Orleans, not his slave ownership, rabid racism or overrated presidency. It’s definitely not a pro-Confederate monument. Union Gen. Benjamin Butler added a plaque during the Civil War that proclaims: “The Union must and shall be preserved.” I think the statue should stay but if folks want to add more information explaining Jackson’s role in our history, that’s fine with me. Intent and context are everything.

I realize that this is an issue where nuance went to die, but the simplistic solutions offered by people on both extremes will lead to endless controversy when there are other vital local issues that need to be addressed. I neither want to honor white supremacy nor witness a rewriting of history like that in the Soviet Union where St. Petersburg became Petrograd and then Leningrad before reverting to St. Petersburg. I give that a very low grad indeed…

The most important thing right now is that the three monuments be removed as soon as possible. The City Council has spoken. It’s time for Davis, Lee, and Beauregard to come down. It’s past time for the right-wing “outside agitators” to go home and bother people in their own communities.

Tear them down now, Mr. Mayor. Stop the madness.