We continue a great tradition of voices speaking out

Donald Trump

If Donald Trump was elected president, would he like it? Wouldn’t he find his personality and ambitions//goals restricted? Wouldn’t he be really frustrated with the realities of job?

I don’t have an opinion yet.

But I wonder if  Trump began his campaign as a lark and is happily surprised to be on top. Maybe he is like a surfer who got a great wave and is pleased as punch he is riding so long. It must be glorious.

Am I unable to take him seriously because he isn’t serious?


John Wilkes Booth

It’s  hard to be compassionate about even a long dead, albeit historically significant, man whose single momentous decision carried consequences that damaged many people.

One thinks the rest of the world feels the same. They don’t. It’s a shock to come upon modern-day Americans in love with John Wilkes Booth, cause of  some of our country’s deepest anguish.


They say John Booth was fun.

Well, except for the rage, narcissism, intractability, and drunkenness, he was fun. Did I mention political naiveté (aka stupidity)?

There are people out there, right now, alive today, who love John Wilkes Booth. They wax poetical about him on the Internet.

They say John Booth and his league of conspirators were NOT criminals. No. These people were “political zealots” – sort of independent-contractors, plain-clothes soldiers. (Loose cannons? — no no no.)

John Booth, 26, had a great body. Muscles. Vigor. Hair, dark and thick and wavy. Dreamy eyes. At death, John Booth presented one bedraggled but freakin’ gorgeous corpse.

And everybody liked him – even no-nonsense historians agree on this point.

Toward the end, John Booth’s behavior often seemed strange. He quit the theatre, drank a lot, and was morose. Still, one made excuses for him. It was, after all, wartime and John Booth’s side was going down.


Family, friends, and theatrical stage fans were shocked when John Booth upped and killed President Lincoln. Next, they heard he, himself, was killed. Amazing!

One may surmise this was the end of news from John Booth.

But, actually, no.

The U.S. and Lincoln family aside, John Booth’s crime was very bad for his own family, friends, and co-workers.

They never say anyone was angry with John Booth. They say everyone grieved.

Sure. Loved ones regretted John Booth’s death —– because they wanted to wring his neck themselves! Well, maybe not his Mom.

What did his people get for love and friendship of John Booth?

Here’s a list. Several  got to double dip.

  • Arrest. Imprisonment. Interrogation.
  • Repeated arrest, imprisonment, interrogation.
  • Fear of arrest, imprisonment, interrogation, and of being hanged.
  • Being hanged.
  • Years of imprisonment.
  • Job loss.
  • Financial hardship and/or catastrophe.
  • Angst.
  • Shame. Indignity.
  • Questions without answers.
  • Questions. Questions.
  • Never-healed marital strife for a sister and outraged brother-in-law.
  • Post traumatic stress.
  • Sorrow.


What manner of man wrought all this?


John Booth had a fiancée and supposedly a favorite prostitute. For sure he had pics of five women in his pocket when he killed the President. One was of the fiancée, Lucy. Don’t know about the prostitute.

Whatever. President Lincoln’s murder prevented the marriage and this was the only good thing that came from the awful thing.

Lucy lucked out.

(Historical research sources available upon request)

I don’t always say a lot about Labor Day but it is the one day everyone who works for a living should think about, celebrate and most of all appreciate. Unless you were born into wealth that I cannot fathom, you have a job or a career that lets you earn the life you live, support your family and enjoy events, vacations and life’s milestones.  Some of us work a lot harder than others, some have work that is a passion, some barely make ends meet, some struggle mightily, some seem to lead charmed lives, some throw it all away, some appreciate all they have.  In other words there are all sorts of us.

I do a lot of research about working people because the “working class” is who I identify with and consider myself proud to be among.  I know my politics wear thin for some but I am who I am and I do not come from a place of ignorance on any subject (mainly because I do not speak on a subject if I am ignorant –that’s the trick).

Working people are underpaid and often overworked.  School teachers, police officers, fire fighters, EMT’s, and the soldiers who fight to protect us all over the world are all not paid near their worth.  So then, what chance does a restaurant, hospitality, janitorial, or unskilled worker have for better wages and benefits?  It is the age old struggle I know, but I also know that ditch-diggers and janitors used to be able to support their families and now that struggle is much harder than just a generation ago.

As we move toward equality and diversity which is progress, we move away from valuing workers and striving together, which is regression.  How is that? What have workers done?  Our work ethic, productivity, loyalty and ability have not crashed and burned, they are intact.  Our needs have not outpaced society. The only thing that has really changed is the ratio of wages to that work ethic, productivity, loyalty or ability.  We have lost ground because the system is skewed to send profits and benefits to the top.   How we change that is easy, vote out those who skewed that system and screwed us over.  How we do that will require voters to look past the ‘guns, God and gays’ memes and see what has been done while they thought they were “values” voters.  Vote your pocketbook, because trust me, you have been, just not the way you think.

“Labor Day pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers”


Happy Labor Day Monday, use it to think!

Today I’m A Virginian

—-An honorary one.

It is a bright August 24th summer morning, 8:25 o’clock, in the year of our Lord 2015 here in Ohio. Yes, you read right: Ohio. The sun is shining over the housetops across the suburban street where I live and into my home-office window. It is 60 degrees right now — don’t be jealous. The humidity is 93 percent.

I’m here at the gracious invitation of Sandi to whom, you know, this blog belongs. Like-minded thinking and feeling about human rights and a fascination with the American Civil War brought us together. We met on the blog called Crossroads operated by Civil War scholar Brooks Simpson. We also post sometimes on Civil War Memory, Civil War scholar Kevin Levin’s blog. But I’d have to say we bonded on the Lincoln Discussion Symposium where we ran afoul of Civil War pro-heritage’sh folks. We are outta there. Sandi left. I got booted.

Apart from Internet acquaintances, I do not personally know any Virginians face-to-face. I’ve been to Virginia. Obviously, it is for lovers. Nice people in Virginia.

My favorite Virginian is Ed Ayers, president emeritus of the University of Richmond. (Sorry, Sandi.) How come? We grow people with brains and good hearts in Ohio, too! We don’t have an Ed Ayers, of course. Still. It is okay that Virginia has him. In the Civil War anniversary years just completed and the Reconstruction anniversary years just underway, Dr. Ayers is where Americans need him to be.

Why do I say that? Here’s an example. Linked below is a 1:19-long talk Dr. Ayers presented titled Monuments and Memorials: The South in American History. It was sponsored by the Gilder Lehrman Institute.

The unCivil War drags on

Racist 1Here in Virginia the battle over the Confederate Battle Flag, the Sons of Confederate Veterans license plates and events rages on. I find myself compelled to join the threads and refute the revisionist history being used to justify them and it feels so eerily similar to right-wingers when they get a meme in their parrot teeth that they must all be the same people. How many can this nation handle before we implode? Looks like we may find out.

From the posts mentioning Sharpton, Farrakan, EBT, and blacks (but they’re not racists!), liberals, PC, and Democrats, it is clear who their enemy is…anyone who dares not to think as they do. There is no nuance, no attempt to consider any point but their own and no consideration for the actual events of the Civil War.

People like me, politically active and aware, as well as truly inquisitive, have studied and researched the Civil War. I have read books, follow historian blogs, and having Confederate ancestors, wrestled with the overarching issues of the greatest American tragedy that is now 150 years old.

How did my ancestors feel? Did they choose to fight to keep and perpetuate slavery? I know that white supremacy was a given, slavery was centuries old and the entire Southern economy was dependent on slave labor remaining available but did they feel it was wrong? Did they feel it was right? Did they fight for that or did they believe the North was somehow going to take their piece of land? I know many soldiers deserted, some folks refused to fight at all and all were scarred by the war and hopefully by fighting their own nation but I do not know how my ancestors felt.

I do have some sympathy for the soldier on the fields at Gettysburg and Antietam of the 50 major, and the “10,500 battles, engagements, and other military actions” in all. I can see honoring them, wanting to recognize their bravery at a time when battle was so close, vicious and bloody and again, with your fellow Americans. With casualties over 620 thousand how do you do it?

How do you “celebrate” what for most sane people is a true and horrific American tragedy? With solemnity, dignity, reverence and decorum? Or with party like rallies, miles long flag parades whooping it up on stops and re-enactments with “wanted” posters of Lincoln? With sites naming the soldiers and telling about their families and history, videos of the battlefields and discussions of their letters, or with “in your face” confrontation and dismissal of any view except “the South gonna rise again”?

And how, for the sake of decency and integrity do you just dismiss the racist use of that battle flag almost from the moment the war ended? How do you discard why the white supremacy groups to this day use that flag as their symbol too? When did it go from the banner of the fallen soldier to the banner of redneck bullies churning up the grass in a field or screeching in a parking lot? How does it go from a Civil War cemetery to the side of the road with a gun on one hip and the flag on the other? How do we ever reconcile the uses? How do you tell a racist with the flag from a “good-ole boy” with the flag and does it matter?

Clearly and beyond any doubt, these folks are their own worst enemies. They cannot go long without proving the ugly southern stereotypes we have long been plagued with. They cannot go long without their innate racism and bigotry showing even as they declare they are neither. And they are quick to anger and speak of fighting “them”.

I am willing to agree there is a context and a reason to see that flag displayed, I just have yet to see a flagger use it with reverence, solemnity, dignity and decorum. I think I will be waiting a long time and so will the soldiers.

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