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“Let’s Make The Confederate Flag A Hate Crime”: It Is The American Swastika And We Should Recoil From It In Horror

Early Thursday morning, the State House of South Carolina voted to remove the Confederate flag from the grounds of the State Capitol. Gov. Nikki Haley has pledged to sign the bill immediately, and the flag may come down as soon as today.

Frederick Douglass, the former slave who escaped to freedom, and became a major abolitionist and civil rights leader a century and a half ago, foresaw this day.  But he foresaw, too, that it would be a long time coming.

Speaking in Boston just days before the South surrendered at the end of the Civil War, Douglass warned that the North’s victory would not mean that that war had truly ended: “That enmity will not die out in a year, will not die out in an age,” he predicted.

As a former southerner himself, Douglass knew just how deep allegiance to the Southern slave-holding culture went. He declared:

“I believe that when the tall heads of this Rebellion shall have been swept down, you will see those traitors, handing down, from sire to son, the same malignant spirit which they have manifested, and which they are now exhibiting, with malicious hearts, broad blades, and bloody hands in the field, against our sons and brothers.”

Six years later, in 1871, Douglass wrote that,  “A rebellion is upon our hands today far more difficult to deal with than that suppressed, but not annihilated, in 1865.” He was speaking of the rising wave of mob violence and terrorism directed against African Americans all across the region. Like a “pestilence,” Douglass observed, “this last form of the rebellion – covert, insidious, secret, striking in the darkness of night, while assuming spotless robes of loyalty in the day – is far more difficult to deal with than an open foe.”

Has the age of “enmity” finally ended? Has the “malignant spirit” finally died away? Has the “pestilence” finally abated?

The answer to all of these questions is “no.” The hateful actions of Dylann Roof remind us of that. So do the white supremacist websites Roof found appealing. So do the many Confederate flags displayed in places across the South — and beyond — today, emblazoning T-shirts, affixed to car bumpers, and worn as lapel pins in business suits.

The heritage these flags stand for was a bloody war initiated by the South. Those Southerners who fired the first shots to attack U.S. troops at Fort Sumter – just a mile or two from the church where Roof gunned down nine black worshippers – aimed not only to “defend” slavery, but to promote slavery’s spread across the nation, especially in the West.  The defeat of the South was the defeat of the slavery system.

That defeat is still mourned by many sympathizers with the Confederate cause across the nation, who have somehow forgotten that the Lost Cause was the cause of slavery. To them, the Confederate flag is an innocent symbol, a symbol that honors the Confederate dead and preserves the memory of their gallantry and fighting spirit.

To black Americans, meanwhile, these flags send a clear, painful, and frightening message:You don’t belong here. By being here, you are in danger. This nation is not for you.  It was no coincidence that those who opposed the civil rights movement for desegregation and integration across America began to resurrect the use of the flag in the 1950s and 1960s.

Americans who refuse to acknowledge the connection between the Confederate flag and the horrors of slavery and white supremacy are still in the grip of a “malignant spirit” handed down from generation to generation from 1865 to this day.

It is a fine thing that the Confederate flag will no longer fly above the South Carolina state capitol. But displaying the Confederate flag anywhere is, at bottom, an act of hate. It should be recognized as such, and punished as a hate crime.

Given the millions who suffered under the whip of slave masters, and all the families separated as slave traders sold sons and daughters away from their parents, and wives away from their husbands, All Americans should recoil from the Confederate flag with the same horror we feel for the Nazi swastika.

That, I feel confident, is what Frederick Douglass would think.

 

By: Nick Bromell, Salon, July 11, 2015

July 12, 2015 Posted by | African Americans, Confederacy, Confederate Flag, Slavery | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Hillary’s Strategy Is Actually Brilliant”: From A Strategic Standpoint, Clinton Is Right To Stay As Low Profile As Possible

Has any future president been more misunderstood than Hillary Clinton?

As someone who cannot imagine any possible scenario in which I would cast a ballot for the former Secretary of State, U.S. Senator, First Lady, and Goldwater Girl, I note this with a heavy heart. But Clinton’s deafening and widely criticized silence since announcing her candidacy isn’t a weakness or a failing on her part. It underscores exactly the professionalism, strategizing, and discipline that explain why she is atop the polls.

She has nothing to gain and everything to lose from shooting off her mouth for at least the rest of the year. Like an aging boxer who survives more by smarts than by slugging, Clinton knows that the fight for the White House is a 15-round bout that will certainly go the distance. Only a showboating chump would punch themselves out in the early rounds.

Sure, over the past few weeks, she’s lost some ground among Democratic voters to socialist Bernie Sanders. But she’s still ahead of him, not to mention the ever-growing gaggle of Republican rivals. Sure, ever since announcing she was running for president, Clinton has stayed awfully quiet, popping up in Chipotle surveillance camera footage like Patty Hearst on the lam and eschewing actual public events for “intimate” meetings with vetted, handpicked supporters.

On the rare occasions when she does step out of her bubble, things have gotten hinky, like when she literally roped off the press during a Fourth of July parade in New Hampshire. The optics of that scene—photogs and journos being physically restrained from getting close enough to her highness to take good pics or ask embarrassing queries—would be shame-inducing if not suicide-inducing to most candidates.

But do we need to spell it out, really? Hillary Clinton is not most candidates.

She’s learned from the acknowledged master—husband Bill, who can’t even be bothered to flatly promise not to give paid speeches if he becomes First Dude—that there’s never a reason to give in to common decency and slink off into the dark night of political oblivion. Hillary Clinton hasn’t driven a car since 1996 and it’s a safe bet that she hasn’t felt shame for even longer.

Since announcing for president, Clinton has granted exactly one televsion interview, with CNN’s Brianna Keilar, and smartly used the occasion to attack the Republican field for their weak-tea responses to Donald Trump’s muy stupido assertion that Mexican immigrants are mostly rapists. Indicating that she was “disappointed” (read: elated) “in those comments,” Clinton went on to note that her Republican rivals “are all in the same general area on immigration.”

The worst part of that? She’s absolutely right. Once the party of near-open borders (watch this video from 1980 in which Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush one up each other on praising the contributions of illegal immigrants), today’s GOP, with minor exceptions, vilifies the wretched yearning to breathe free, at least when they come from Latin America.

In 2004, George Bush won 44 percent of the Hispanic vote. Eight years later, Mitt Romney—who counseled that illegal immigrants should practice “self-deportation”—pulled just 27 percent. In the GOP “autopsy” of Romney’s failure in 2012, the authors wrote, “If Hispanic Americans hear that the GOP doesn’t want them in the United States, they won’t pay attention to our next sentence.” Given the way that the current candidates have been non-reacting to Trump, that might be the best outcome the Republican Party could hope for.

Against such a backdrop, Clinton is right to keep mum, except when making easy layups against her opponents. Let Bernie Sanders whip Democrats into a progressive frenzy and then step in with vague nods toward equality and growth for all. She knows full well that Sanders is not her real rival—that will be the GOP nominee, not a frothing-at-the-mouth socialist from a state with a population smaller than Washington, D.C.’s.

She also knows as well as anyone that her toughest challenge will be sweetening the air of inevitability that surrounds her like noxious secondhand smoke. No one outside of their immediate families wants to see a Clinton-Bush contest, but such a showdown is more likely than not. She may indeed be as “arrogant” as Commentary and a thousand other similar publications contend, but she’s likely smart enough to realize that nothing humanizes her more than right-wing outlets foaming at the mouth about everything from blowjobs to Benghazi.

This is not to say that she’s a perfect candidate. In fact, the roping off of journalists—on a day celebrating independence, no less!—suggests Hillary Clinton is in many ways singularly off-putting. Her feminist bona fides were rightly called into question during her time as First Lady, her time as senator from New York was unmemorable, and her tenure as secretary of state nothing short of disastrous. When under attack, she’s capable of mind-bogglingly stupid comments, like when she started talking about Bobby Kennedy’s assassination during the end days of her 2008 run for the Democratic nomination.

This is why she is smart to be running a rope-a-dope strategy, essentially letting her opponents (Democratic and Republican) punch themselves out in the early rounds. When they’ve taken their best shots and mostly exhausted themselves, she can come off the ropes and throw a haymaker or two. Along with forgoing shame, this is another great tactical advantage she’s learned from her husband.

Bill Clinton outlasted his opponents—think Newt Gingrich and a gaggle of moralistic congressmen, many of whom had skeletons of their own to hide. Bill was like Muhammad Ali taking on George Foreman in the jungle heat, a personable motormouth who loved to talk and press the flesh (sometimes a bit too much, to be sure). Hillary is turning into a defensive master, but on her own terms. She’s more like Floyd Mayweather, nobody’s idea of a fun person to hang out with, but capable of taking huge amounts of punishment and coming off the ropes in the late rounds to secure victory.

If the eventual Republican nominee—whether it’s Jeb Bush or Rand Paul or god help us all Donald Trump—wants a real chance at the crown, they’d do best to back away from Hillary and the anger-bear rhetoric that only makes her more sympathetic. The nominee would do well to outline an actually positive and inclusive message about how they plan to guide the country into the 21st century rather than constantly harp on last century’s scandals, the need for even newer and bigger wars, and protecting us from the scourge of immigrants so desperate for a better life that they’re willing to risk arrest to come to America.

A Republican employing positive rhetoric—which is exactly how Barack Obama toppled Clinton in 2008—would pull her out of her crouch and cause her to swing recklessly and wildly. In all that lunging, she’d be likely to knock herself out. But so long as the Republicans keep smacking themselves in the face, she’s smart to hold her punches.

 

By: Nick Gillespie, The Daily Beast, July 10, 2015

July 12, 2015 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Media | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“GOP Governor Flubs Civics 101 Test”: Mary Fallin Falls Short In Her Most Basic Governmental Responsibilities

Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled last week that a state-sponsored Ten Commandments monument on the Capitol grounds violates the state Constitution. It wasn’t a close call – the justices ruled 7-2 that the six-foot-high, stone Christian display is at odds with the law that requires state government to be neutral on matters of religion.

The more controversial twist came this week, when Gov. Mary Fallin (R) and the GOP-led legislature announced they’re prepared to ignore the state Supreme Court, at least for now, while they consider new solutions.

The Republican governor talked to reporters, saying roughly what you’d expect her to say: she’s “disappointed” with the court’s decision; she thinks they made the wrong call; etc. But as KFOR, the NBC affiliate in Oklahoma City, reported, Fallin added one related thought that wasn’t expected at all:

Gov. Fallin said she believes the final decision on the monument’s fate should rest with the people.

“You know, there are three branches of our government. You have the Supreme Court, the legislative branch and the people, the people and their ability to vote. So I’m hoping that we can address this issue in the legislative session and let the people of Oklahoma decide,” she said.

The KFOR report added, “Despite what the governor said, the three branches of government include the legislative, executive and judicial branches.”

It was obviously an unfortunate slip-up, but the point isn’t to just laugh at a politician’s gaffe. There’s actually a substantive angle to all of this.

We can certainly hope that Fallin, a former multi-term member of Congress, knows what the three branches of government are. Indeed, in Oklahoma, she’s the head of one of them – the one she left out this week.

But what matters in this controversy is the governor’s appreciation for the branches’ specific duties. For example, it’s up to Oklahoma’s judicial branch to rule on constitutional questions, such as whether the state can legally endorse one religion’s sacred text.

It’s up to Oklahoma’s executive branch to enforce the law. For now, the governor has decided she doesn’t want to, at least in this case.

Fallin suggested that she’d like “the people” to “decide” what’s constitutional. The problem with such a remedy, aside from the confusion over civics, is that civil liberties shouldn’t necessarily be open to popularity contests. That’s largely the point of having rights and the Constitution in the first place – the goal is to enshrine certain protections for the public that cannot easily be taken away without due process.

It’s unfortunate that Fallin flubbed the details when trying to describe the three branches of government, but it’s arguably worse that she’s falling short in her most basic of governmental responsibilities.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, July 10, 2015

July 12, 2015 Posted by | Mary Fallin, Oklahoma, Ten Commandments | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Scott Walker Gets Schooled By His Neighbor”: Minnesota Governor Walloping Walker’s Wisconsin In Terms Of Economic Growth

Wisconsin and Minnesota share a common cultural heritage that until recently included a healthy Midwestern strain of progressive politics. Elected in 2010, Governor Scott Walker upended a hundred years of liberal populism, charting a conservative path for Wisconsin that made him a darling of the Republican Right, but left his state with a serious budget shortfall and disappointing job growth.

Meanwhile, across the border in neighboring Minnesota, Governor Mark Dayton has relentlessly pursued liberal policies, embodying the tax-and-spend Democrat that Republicans love to caricature. The result, surprising to many, is that the Minnesota economy is going gangbusters while Wisconsin’s job growth has fallen to 44th among the 50 states.

Dayton’s success steering his state’s progressive course has been a surprise. He was a middling senator at best, serving a single term from 2001 to 2007 before returning to Minnesota disillusioned with the way Washington operated. Time named him one of America’s “Five Worst Senators” in 2006, and he was known mainly for his inherited fortune as the great-grandson of the founder of Dayton’s department store, which became Target. As senator, he donated his salary to underwrite bus trips to Canada for senior citizens buying low-cost prescription drugs.

“Minnesota’s gains are not because Mark Dayton has overpowered the state with his political acumen,” says Lawrence Jacobs, a political science professor at the University of Minnesota. He describes the low-key Dayton as the “anti-politician,” someone the voters trust because he’s not smooth enough to fool them. “His skill is he has a clear agenda, and he’s unyielding. This is not pie-in-the-sky Great Society adventurism.”

Dayton has a majority Democratic legislature just as Walker has a Republican controlled legislature, bolstering the ongoing policy experiment in their states. The two governors have pursued agendas that mirror their respective party’s core beliefs, and the results so far suggest that the starve-the-government, tax-cutting credo of conservative orthodoxy has run its course.

Dayton has raised the minimum wage, and he’s significantly increased taxes on the top 2 percent of wage earners to close a budget shortfall and to raise money for investments in infrastructure and education. In the legislative session that just ended, some Democrats joined with Republicans to block his goal of expanding universal preschool. But he did get more scholarship money to educate 4-year-olds.

“This is the largest tax increase we’ve seen in Minnesota, over $2 billion,” says Jacobs. More than three-quarters of the new spending is on education, compared to Wisconsin, where education is on the chopping block, and Walker is at odds with professors and administrators alike at his state’s flagship university system.

Minnesota has also passed the state’s version of the Affordable Care Act (MNsure), and while its implementation has been rocky, it is in place and serving tens of thousands of people.

Dayton ran for governor in 2010 on an unapologetically liberal agenda, and won narrowly after a recount. He was reelected comfortably in 2014, and his approval rating in the latest Minneapolis Star Tribune poll is 54 percent. Contrast that with Walker’s 41 percent, and you’ve got a clear picture of how each is faring in the eyes of voters.

Dayton’s idiosyncratic style is in tune with the times, and at 68, he has no ambition for national office. Walker is running for president and touting hard-right policies that play well with Iowa caucusgoers. He opposed raising the minimum wage, has significantly weakened unions, reduced spending for education, cut taxes on the wealthy, and increased taxes on the middle class in part to pay for the tax cut. According to the nonpartisan Wisconsin Budget Project, Walker gave tax breaks that disproportionally favored upper-income earners while cutting $56 million in tax credits for working families.

Faced with a budget shortfall and no way to plug it without additional revenue, Republicans in the Wisconsin legislature are rebelling against additional spending cuts. But Walker shows no sign of softening his stance against raising taxes or fees. Other Republican governors, notably Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal, are in the same quandary.

“It seems like they’ve been backed into a corner and are just going forward with pure ideology and discounting any contradictory evidence,” says David Madland, author of Hollowed Out: Why the Economy Doesn’t Work without a Strong Middle Class.

As the director of the American Worker Project at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, Madland in his book takes on the premise that inequality is good in the sense that helping the rich get richer is going to help everybody else, that a rising tide lifts all boats. Trickle-down economics has gotten a bad rap and is rarely invoked as a phrase anymore, but the belief that tax cuts are the engine of economic growth remains the core of GOP ideology.

That Minnesota’s economy rallied under progressive policies while Wisconsin’s has struggled is “one more data point proving that trickle down is wrong,” says Madland. While it’s tricky to attribute the well-being of a state’s economy solely to its political leadership, Minnesota is experiencing much stronger growth than its neighbor. Dayton has also proved responsive to the business community, easing early fears that his liberalism might go unchecked.

Walker, on the other hand, has doubled down to the detriment of his state on policies that are backfiring. And if voters in his home state aren’t buying what he’s selling anymore, that doesn’t bode well for his presidential campaign.

 

By: Eleanor Clift, The Daily Beast, July 19, 2015

July 12, 2015 Posted by | Economic Growth, Mark Dayton, Scott Walker | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Beyond A Little Tone-Deaf”: Pat Buchanan Warns Of Another Civil War; The Time Of Mass Right-Wing Civil Disobedience Is At Hand

In his latest column at WorldNetDaily, paleoconservative commentator Pat Buchanan argued that given the Supreme Court’s ruling that legalized same-sex marriage and the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s decision to remove the Ten Commandments monument from the state capitol grounds, a “rebellion” unlike any seen since the Civil Rights Movement “is likely to arise from the right.”

Buchanan situated this “coming era of civil disobedience” in a long tradition that began with the Founding Fathers. “What else was our revolution but a rebellion to overthrow the centuries-old rule and law of king and parliament, and establish our own?” he asked.

“U.S. Supreme Court decisions have been defied and those who defied them lionized by modernity,” he added without noting that the positions his civilly disobedient activists would support wouldn’t be “lionized by modernity,” given that they’re based on the teachings of a man who — if he ever even lived — has been dead for 2,000 years.

Buchanan connected the coming struggle with the Civil Rights Movement — in particular, with Martin Luther King, Jr., whose “Letter from Birmingham Jail” he quoted. “One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws,” King wrote, to which Buchanan replied, “what is an ‘unjust law’?”

Apparently, they are the ones that atheistic liberals have yet to write, but most certainly will in the coming years. “Laws will be passed to outlaw such practices [like refusing to perform a same-sex wedding] as discrimination,” Buchanan wrote, “and those laws, which the Christians believe violate eternal law and natural law, will, as Dr. King instructed, be disobeyed.”

For all his high talk about morality — especially as it pertains to racial injustice — Buchanan was a little tone-deaf as to a certain issue of current import: the causes of the Civil War. “That war was fought,” he wrote, “over whether 11 Southern states had the same right to break free of Mr. Lincoln’s Union as the 13 colonies did to break free of George III’s England.”

He concluded by saying that a similar separation is on the horizon. “If a family disagreed as broadly as we Americans do on issues so fundamental as right and wrong, good and evil, the family would fall apart,” he explained, “the couple would divorce, and the children would go their separate ways.”

“Something like that is happening in the country. A secession of the heart has already taken place in America, and a secession, not of states, but of people from one another, caused by divisions on social, moral, cultural and political views and values, is taking place.”

 

By: Eric Kaufman, Salon, July 10, 2015

July 12, 2015 Posted by | Civil Rights Movement, Civil War, Pat Buchanan | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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