We continue a great tradition of voices speaking out

No, I am not “smug”!

I do not know Emmett Rensin but after reading this, I think he is as full of shit as a Christmas turkey,  but that is not me being “smug”,  it is just an observation.
He might have a point about there being a “moral difference or policy divergence” between the left and the right but for the fact that it has been proven over and over and over again (and well documented) that what they claim is “moral difference or policy divergence” is rooted in belligerent ignorance, Biblical judging and void of real policy knowledge.  So I fail to see how we can be guilty of not accepting what is not even established fact.

Some may indeed express their incredulity in a “smug style” because it is rather an odious thing to behold and one can be forgiven for not respecting the idiocy.  It is sad, but it IS that simple.  It is not “theory”, it is proven fact “that conservatism, and particularly the kind embraced by those out there in the country, was not a political ideology at all”.  It just isn’t and their repeated hypocrisy proves it is not even a remotely closely held principle as they abandon it at every turn when it suits or benefits them.  They may well rail against “welfare” but they line up for the free clinic trucks too.

He also wrongly claims we think “stupid hicks don’t know what’s good for them”.  Of course they do, they just choose to wallow in their blame and anger rather than reach for solutions that prove their idiocy and hypocrisy.  They are not “getting conned by right-wingers and tent revivalists”, they seek them out for affirmation of their hate, bigotry, racism, and for reinforcement that their moral superiority is rooted in proof of white supremacy and heritage.  Voting against their own self-interest is not what they mean to do, they are voting against the “others” getting any support, even if it hurts them too.

His level of maturity is further proved by claiming we all develop the “disdain cultivated in the aftermath of a divide quickly exceeds the original grievance. You lose somebody. You blame them”. Well no, you might, but WE don’t.  At least the grown-ups in the room don’t.  We have the capacity to know that we contributed to the breakup by what we did or did not choose to do.

Liberals chose to lift up the burdened and the most expedient way to do that was at the expense of the rest of us.  That hurt those with little charity in their humanity and a baffling array of disdain for the poor, immigrant, gender bending and struggling we all came from.

I do not believe they were ever our “allies” and when the Democrats started to embrace Civil Rights and equality (which Southern Democrats were not steeped in), they started leaving.  Nor are they “rubes” by any means; they sought and often helped create the right-wing media that feeds their hate.  And no, I do not want to “win” and make progress so badly that I will ever agree to respect that mindset.

If it makes you feel guilty to be called a “smug liberal” think how ‘great’ it would feel to be Ann Coulter’s friend. In reality we are not “smug”; we are deeply troubled and puzzled that so many chose regression and isolation rather than understanding and equality.  And if the right-wing is not “smug” in their disdain for us, the media that does not toe their line and government that does not reflect their moral code, what the hell are they?

I will agree that the internet made some of it much worse, but it also offers a world of rebuttal and refutation if you are willing to look for it.  A liberal is much more likely to be disturbed by their own Facebook or Twitter “newsfeed” because the media has been so complicit in respecting right-wing BS and so afraid of their massive boycott campaigns that we have to look at the source to know it is not a right-wing site sneaking into it.  Find yourself “troubled by the currents of contemporary political life” do not look to traditional news outlets to debunk or call it out.  They won’t, not until it is safe to do so.

And, for the record, history has more than proven that liberals are better informed because they work at it they are not “smarter” but they are not as quick to let their political support cloud their every decision.  The extreme left notwithstanding.

Liberals do not so much process “better” they just do not use a stopped up filter and aim to see all variables before they pronounce.  We do not have “better brains” we just have less hurdles to understanding the human toll.

I will agree that for a long time we thought if we just explained the truth (black people are not less, gay people are not deviant, the poor need to be included), that we could get people to understand, but many of us now realize that is just not going to penetrate so we plan to out-maneuver, over represent and stand in unity as we move forward.  We know now we can write them off and go for the population centers to win in the places we can and obstruct and shame where we cannot.  I do not call that “smug” either, I call it realistic.

The bottom line is that we are no more “smug” than the right and far less damaging to the liberty and individualism they proclaim to uphold.  Ironic but true.

I think Rensin has taken the words of a few and extrapolated them to be speaking for all.  Dangerous stuff. The differences are real, that is why they are studied and why explanations are needed for some to grasp them.  If we were indeed so “smug” we would not need to vilify or decry the stupidity of those demanding respect for their regressive beliefs and authoritarian efforts.  Smug would only have to sit back and watch it fall on its own heavy burden.

In the end, it is concern and deep hope that we can still reach people, even if only one at a time with the idea that the person they want to exclude could be their child, niece, nephew, grandchild, or neighbor.  He calls us “smug” and to some, makes a good case, but the reality is we are still fighting to reach them even as we fight their efforts.  I guess he missed the part where the right has EVER tried to reach us or respect our side of anything?  I know I have never seen it.


Such an excellent commentary from a Southerner who “gets it” so well. Outstanding, please read.

To Breathe Your Free Air

Lee_Park,_Charlottesville,_VA Lee Park, Charlottesville, Virginia I have written about my family’s Confederate heritage in the past here at the blog (see here and here). My grandparents were like second parents to my brother and I growing up. They sought to instill in us an appreciation and love for our Southern heritage and for our ancestors who helped shape it.

As a child and as a young man, I idolized my grandmother and grandfather. In many ways, I still do. They died when I was in my early twenties–and over twenty years after their deaths, I still have the urge sometimes to pick up the phone to call them (I still remember their phone number with the same ease I remember my date of birth; and I still carry their house key on my key ring). Their portraits hang in my house and I keep their memory alive by talking about…

View original post 1,306 more words

Whose Constitution is it?

Much is still made in any internet forum of our Constitution, what is in it, what it means, what it was meant to mean and most of all how it is not followed, ignored or changed to suit… Oddities and ironies abound, like those who claim it is always only the party they oppose who is ignoring or not following it. Or those who claim to revere it, follow it, and believe in it, but also think it gave them the Amendment II to fight the government it created.

Let’s think about this for a moment. Amendment I has a boat load of freedoms spelled out. And it seems clear. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” yet many seem to think that means their Christianity trumps all (including the Constitution) and that there is no “freedom from religion”. They mock and deny other religions, atheists and agnostics but don’t you dare not say “Merry Christmas”! Then there is “or abridging the freedom of speech,” which is so widely misunderstood that many think it means no one can tell you when you are wrong or that you are wrong. When it comes to “or of the press;” many decry any press that does not feed their bias. Lastly is “or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” And we all know how well that one works out. Protests are not respected, they are also mocked and derided and getting harder and harder to even do. And try to speak to your Congressional representatives? Good one. Well that is just not how that works. But still we believe in the First Amendment, except when we don’t.

Amendment II is likely the most hotly argued and deeply divisive right in the Bill of Rights and no amount of facts, background, history, jurisprudence, mass shootings or rhetoric is going to change any minds. I wish I knew why I ever even bother trying. But I will always note that “A well regulated militia” is in there for a reason and “shall not be infringed” has just never really been true.

Amendment III about quartering soldiers has not been necessary in over a hundred years so it is there but seldom argued or discussed for that obvious reason.

Next comes Amendment IV “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” Well that one is surely not practiced as intended with (NSA and even local) law enforcement actions and judicial activism to root out criminals, drug lords, terrorists, anarchists and other assorted really bad guys, but the point remains it has not been stable and iron-clad as “rights” should be.

Amendment V “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” When a prosecutor can get an “indictment on a ham sandwich” as they say, we clearly have a problem and the piling on of charges makes a docket look like Hell’s Angels, the mob and the Crips are in town. And “Eminent Domain”? Don’t get me started.

Amendment VI “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.” Well except when the media and rumors might make that impossible…so again, not an iron-clad right.

Amendment VII “In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.” Which might explain why so many write in mediation agreements and try to settle out of court…can we trust a jury? Should we trust a jury?

Amendment VIII “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” Over two hundred years in and we still do not agree on what is “excessive” or what is “cruel and unusual. Iron-clad?
Amendment IX “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” But since these were not enumerated, we just should “know” what they are and when they have been violated? How is that working for us?

Amendment X “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” Do we even know what they meant by “the people”? And have we followed this one much? Iron-clad?

Do you see my point? People get apoplectic about the Second Amendment and scream about the First Amendment but there is little that has been free from interference, and not a whole lot of freedom delivered by these guaranteed rights when you look close enough. And it is also why all ends of the political spectrum offer their own interpretation of the Constitution.

This is such an excellent commentary. If you do not follow “Weekly Sift”, you should:

“The relative value of freedom vs rights depends in large part on how much power you have. If you are wealthy, well-connected, or otherwise privileged, then there are all kinds of things you could do, if government would just stay out of your way. But if you are poor, then the barriers you face have more to do with your lack of resources than with government regulations.”


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.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 537 other followers