Me and the Yankees: A follow-up

Three weeks ago I wrote, but yesterday just published, a seemingly-confused mental and emotional vascilation regarding the secession of South Carolina 150 years ago. As my undoubtedly-better half has occasionally commented, my spiel on Reconstruction is (besides being incredibly boring to most) "Yankee Outreach". And she should know, being born a Jayhawker, both geographically and in temperment.

Occasionally, it goes beyond boring and into pedantry.

The point of the thing, I suppose, requires two elaborations. The first is part of my general disdain for all things imperial. The United States government treated its own as imperial subjects, and a whole lot of innocent people, who shared the misfortune of geography, suffered for the sins of a comparative few. The counterargument is to be made that a whole lot of people suffered in the antebellum South because of the misfortune of the color of their skin. To the extent of racism (which is still an ongoing problem in every corner of our little country), that is perhaps true. But, the larger point is that the persons complicit in the slave trade, North and South, were never the ones who suffered. It was the poor, the iceberg class --9/10ths below the surface-- that did the fighting, bleeding, dying, and post-war suffering. Those who truly profited moved along, bid their time, and bought their pardons. Where was "Reconstruction" for the flesh marketers in the North, and the Northern profiteers off the inhumanity of slavery? There was none. To the victors go the spoils, including, I suppose the ability to continue to demonize another part of the nation for a century and a half, without confronting the "winner's" own remarkable, blinding hypocrisy.
James Henry Hammond Slave Owner Brad Delong                                                                          
Worth your read; Berkeley's Econ 113: Economics of Slavery

The second point, and one which I was probably a bit inarticulate in expressing, is that of the many many people drafted, bought/sold, and who otherwise fought for the South, very few of them were lifting a rifle to support continued subjugation of other human beings. The nation is, and has, always been at war between the pastoral South and the industrial North. The Constitution is, if nothing else, an intrinsic muddle of the those competing interests. Regionalism has always been stronger than our nationalism. Having traveled extensively, to 92% of the United States, I can definitely vouch for the proposition that our regional differences outweigh our national similarities...there is as much difference between the American Southwest and the Northeast, as there is between the United States and Canada. Folks in Portland don't have the same regional concerns or characteristics as those in Omaha. Charlotte is nothing like Chicago. We are about 7 discrete nations held together by a common tonge (increasingly irrelevant), a common currency, and the threat of government-sanctioned violence to hold the whole thing together.

If nothing else, the average kid in the South was fighting to protect his backyard, and his home, or because his government drafted him to do so. I dare say the missionary zeal of violence to prove a point was much more likely to be found in the North. And what were those points? One is obvious: Our fellow human beings deserved better than to be enslaved by the landed gentry and large growers in the South. And you know what? Every 17 year-old kid who slapped on some Navy Blue and went to march into our hostile Southern terrain, to die in heat and humidity, awash in deadly animals and insects, died for a worthy cause -- theirs was a just war.

The second point is less obvious: to those Yankees who marched down here to prove that a "more perfect union" can be achieved by force, and by bloodshed; or those who were led to believe so by their government, they were wrong. That portion of the equation is a bankrupt premise, because they were fighting to preserve, not a "union" or the "republic" but, America's growing empire and its growing economic hegemony. While Lincoln's private correspondence was a bit more forthcoming about this point, American history has yet to fully recognize that fact.

Lest there be any doubt that it was an imperial war to preserve territorial and economic Empire, I do challenge you to read exactly what happened with "reconstruction", and how the otherwise-nonculpable citizens of the American South were treated by their victorious overlords. To the kids in Heather Gray, who recognized that they were being invaded and occupied, to the extent hey fought to protect against the inevitable "Nation-building" that would occur under Reconstruction, not a damned one of those kids is to be faulted, just as those who fought for imperial purposes were in the wrong.

Like I said, it's complicated.


It's complicated: 150 years ago and today.

*I originally was going to publish this on 12/20/10, but decided against it. After letting it percolate for a bit, and some editing, I decided to give it a go. It's complicated.

It's complicated. That is the only way to describe my feelings today. Complicated. Today is the 150th Anniversary of South Carolina's secession from the Union. And this will probably be long, perhaps angry in parts, but please bear with me: This is complicated for Southerners, but what I say is notsome neo-Confederate fantasia.

 On Dec. 20, 1860, this was the South Carolina flag. Pay attention to the St. George's Cross in blue; it would later become a St. Andrews cross and is visceral symbol that still divides America.

For those in the United States North and Midwest, the Civil War is largely a by-blow of a different time and place, with the tried and true American notion that it was fought and won by those who held the belief that human beings should not be enslaved and brutalized for profit. You learn about it; maybe go to Gettysburg or Sharpsburg; make a few jokes to Southerners that cross your path; absorb the memes and move along.

The average person in Schenectady or Syracuse, Des Plaines or Des Moines, Toledo or Harrisburg, Bangor or Hartford just doesn't reflect very often on what it means to lose a third of the male population, to have martial-law imposed on from without, to have the civilian population  subjected to rampant rape robbery and murder, and then to be economically isolated for another half of a century under the guise of "reconstruction".

Coming from a different view, though, I can tell you that in the South, we take a very different view: it was fought largely on our soil. The farmhouses with aging stones still mark where a descendant died in the backyard. Old, stately oaks and sycamores still display the gouges from random shots that spared a random person while ripping another soul violently from its body.

Everywhere around you is history, distant and near: and they are all ever-present reminders of a War that never died; and one which existed well before the first shots were fired on Ft. Sumter in April of 1861.

  That tree is still probably alive. 

I'm not going to sit here and say that those who died in the American South were rebels and traitors deserving of death: Most weren't. Like most wars, their interests were not what was at stake. The vast majority were poor, dumb farm kids conscripted and told to point a gun and shoot at other human beings. A mere 10% of the South owned slaves; needless to say, those 10% did not do the bleeding and dying in that war. That 10% never has. And there were others who thought they were being invaded, and fought to protect their home...that included a not-insignificant number of freed black slaves.

Fucking disgusting: Southern blacks beaten mercilessly in Georgia.

But was the system barbarous? Of course it was; and the 10% of the plantation class never admitted that to themselves.  Equally barbarous was Northern industry built on the bodies of maimed children, exploited miners, and, yes, slaves: For instance, New York in 1862 was the second largest slave port in America. Moreover, Boston was the largest exporter of slave made textiles. No good guys here. Just profiteers on all sides.

Also fucking disgusting: a mentally retarded Boston child forced to the factory...

And the Bronx slave market...

There was, and remains, just so much god-damned hypocrisy on both sides that I -to this day- have a hard time coming to terms with the enormity of the lies, the magnitude of the human misery, the blood, the acrimony, the recriminations that led to, occurred during, and linger after that War. And, as a Southerner, being part of an occupied portion of the nation, we still carry those emotional tokens and that besieged mentality...even as we try to make a better place, a better United States than the one we lived in in 1860. But, that change has to come from within, and the victors will never understand -- but must-- that "a more perfect union" cannot be achieved through force and murder of its own.

Just as the Antebellum South, and its apologists, need to understand that the barbarism of slavery -- no matter how many of the U.S's bills were paid with that money -- is not, and never was, a sane, rational, human, humane or sustainable way to make a fortune. Nor was it a good cause to engage in the most senseless, bloody conflict of our brief national history. Ours was not a just cause -- at least to the extent of defending slavery. The willingness and ability of alleged partners to dissolve a confederation/union, should and ought never have been denied. And, to the extent that equals have no way out, and then defended territorial sovereignty? Well...that's a different matter.

Slavery made us an evil nation, as well as a very rich one; from the plantations that used slaves, to the Northern factories and shipyards who imported human beings and exported slave products. 150 years later, we're still not healed: The legacy of that war, and the legacy of four centuries of inhumanity will do that. As will being treated as the nation's retarded cousin in the basement.

And, so long as the North continues to treat 40% of the American population as redheaded stepchildren, warily apologetic for the sins of others, then it never will be healed. Just as it will never be healed until the unreconstructed types grow the fuck up, quit romanticizing the war as anything other than the protection of a stultyifyingly rigid world of caste, class and sheer brutality.

Like I said; It's complicated.

TGIF Lost Souls!

Wh00T! Friday fell upon us quickly this week (awesome). I did not get to my cool story RE: Seattle but it's coming...you can't sit on something like that for very long.

Alas, it's a busy one for me today. I see the pre-posted Roma story has already hit, and there's another one due a bit later which is likely (even for me) probably the most controversial thing I've ever written. But, as you'll see, it's complicated.

Anyway, happy Friday, and TGIF indeed. Please enjoy Fields of the Nephilim, with ...And there will your heart will be also.

I love this song. I love this band


How do I love Romania, let me count the ways.

First, it's got a kick-ass book about the amazing life of Atilla Ambrus, the anti-hero described in Ballad of the Whisky Robber as:

the Robin Hood of Eastern Europe. He's the onetime pelt smugger, goaltender (possibly the worst in the history of pro hockey), pen salesman, Zamboni driver, gravedigger, church painter, roulette addict, building superintendent, whiskey drinker, and native of Transylvania who's decided that the best thing to do with his time is to rob as many banks as possible.

 Okay, so he's Hungarian (close enough, right?)

Second, it's got Roma (Gypsies), and Gypsie curses.

Double, double toil and trouble: witches in Romania are planning to cast a spell on the country's rulers because of laws that will force them to pay tax for the first time.

Cat excrement and dead dogs, rather than eye of newt and toe of frog, will go into their cauldron – but they are hoping to put a Macbeth-style hex on the country's president, Traian Basescu, and his government after the imposition of a tax regime aimed at tackling the recession.

Intriguing. Tell me more...

A dozen witches will hurl the poisonous mandrake plant into the river "so evil will befall them", a witch named Alisia said. The threatened curse is not being taken lightly in a country with a long tradition of superstition. Basescu and his aides have been known to wear purple on certain days in an attempt to ward off evil.

The new law is part of the government's drive to collect more revenue and crack down on tax evasion. It will force the likes of witches, astrologers and fortune tellers to register their professions and become liable for 16% tax in line with other self-employed Romanians.

The Queen witch Bratara Buzea said she would lead a chorus in casting a spell using a concoction of cat excrement and a dead dog. "They want to take the country out of this crisis using us? They should get us out of the crisis because they brought us into it," she said.

There's not much more to add to a story that kick-ass, other than to wish more power to the good occult Roma, and good luck in both your necromancy and tax evasion...

Where's Borat to defend me? I sense the evil eye of a Gypsy Witch
(Yes, she really is...went to prison and everything for it).



Help us, Jesus...

Indeed. Indeed.

Good Grief, who let the fucking Wingnuts into the Capital --well, besides the mouthbreathers just elected to the 112th Congress?


My Public Plea for Constitutional Literacy...

Caveat: This may be the most legal-heavy post I've ever done here, but that's only because the stakes are so high. Carry on.

Just because it comes in your size doesn't mean you should wear it.

Case in point (and, ladies, you're welcome).
Stolen Attributed to SodaHead.

That adage isn't just for clothing either...In fact, it is apropos on other occasions, such as reading. Just because you can read a thing, doesn't necessarily mean that you should read a thing (looking at you Robert Jordan!) or that you will understand said reading material (I took graduate classes in the Philosophy of Physics from Oxford professors...trust me on this one).

Bastard. Hardest. Bastard. Class. Ever. Bastard.

And, the adage absolutely is salient to an object of veneration, such as the Constitution of the United States, that brilliant flexible document from the Enlightenment. It should be taken with gravity, because it is weighty, it is important (especially Article III, really go read that one), and absolutely should not be read aloud by those who do not understand it, honor it, or care about the provisions it doesn't like (such as the XIVth Amendment) simply to score cheap political points.

But, that would be asking too much, wouldn't it? Per the BBC

Republicans have opened the second day of their rule in the House of Representatives with a full reading of the US Constitution, the first time the entire document has been read aloud in Congress.

The reading was prompted in part by Tea Party activists concerned that the document has been somewhat sidelined.

Representatives from both parties took turns reading different sections.

The fact that democrats went along with this political grandstanding was absolutely nauseating. Simply nauseating.

I am all for reading the Constitution. I think everyone should read it. My daughter read the entire thing, then paraphrased it in her own 9 year old vernacular. As a result, she's a better person, a better student and a better citizen. Everyone should have to do it. As an AP Government student, I didn't. Taking political science classes in college, I didn't. Hell, even in most law schools it's not required to read the entire thing (really, most people never even read the Public Lands clause until it's time to study for the bar).

So, rather than grandstand, I've decided to perform a public service, one that I hope you sincerely will take me up on. 

1. Below is complete version of the Constitution. Every word, every amendment. Please read it.

The Constitution with Annotations
File Size and Format
Article I. Legislative Department (also see Supplements)
PDF 1.1M
Article II. Executive Department (also see Supplements)
PDF 640K
Article III. Judicial Department (also see Supplements)
PDF 836K
Article IV. States' Relations (also see Supplements)
PDF 249K
Article V. Mode of Amendment
PDF 112K
Article VI. Prior Debts, National Supremacy, Oaths of Office
PDF 164K
Article VII. Ratification
Amendments to the Constitution
File Size and Format
First Through Tenth Amendments: Bill of Rights
First Amendment--Religion and Expression (also see Supplements)
PDF 819K
Second Amendment--Bearing Arms
Third Amendment--Quartering Soldiers
Fourth Amendment--Search and Seizure (also see Supplements)
PDF 293K
Fifth Amendment--Rights of Persons (also see Supplements)
PDF 458K
Sixth Amendment--Rights of Accused in Criminal Prosecutions (also see Supplements)
PDF 220K
Seventh Amendment--Civil Trials
PDF 108K
Eighth Amendment--Further Guarantees in Criminal Cases (also see Supplements)
PDF 184K
Ninth Amendment--Unenumerated Rights
Tenth Amendment--Reserved Powers
Eleventh Amendment--Suits Against States (also see Supplements)
PDF 148K
Twelfth Amendment--Election of President
Thirteenth Amendment--Slavery and Involuntary Servitude
Fourteenth Amendment--Rights Guaranteed: Privileges and Immunities of Citizenship, Due Process, and Equal Protection (also see Supplements)
PDF 1.1M
Fifteenth Amendment--Rights of Citizens to Vote
PDF 140K
Sixteenth Amendment--Income Tax
Seventeenth Amendment--Popular Election of Senators
Eighteenth Amendment--Prohibition of Intoxicating Liquors
Nineteenth Amendment--Women's Suffrage Rights
Twentieth Amendment--Terms of President, Vice President, Members of Congress: Presidential Vacancy
Twenty-First Amendment--Repeal of Eighteenth Amendment
Twenty-Second Amendment--Presidential Tenure
Twenty-Third Amendment--Presidential Electors for the District of Columbia
Twenty-Fourth Amendment--Abolition of the Poll Tax Qualification in Federal Elections
Twenty-Fifth Amendment--Presidential Vacancy, Disability, and Inability
Twenty-Sixth Amendment--Reduction of Voting Age Qualification
Twenty-Seventh Amendment--Congressional Pay Limitation
Via the U.S. General Portal Access www.gpoaccess.gov.

 2. That can be daunting, and sometimes thing pertaining to individual liberties, powers of the President, Administrative law as a shadow government and Congressional powers are absolutely inscrutable to the non-legal trained (and, even then, to us).  So, if you find yourself befuddled by the language, try these helpful pointers to understanding the Constitution of the United States:

  • Read the history of how it was formed. A more fascinating story will never be told. 
  • Check out the Amendments which were proposed, but never ratified by the States.
  • For those with no legal education, or for those who truly want to understand how things work, and do so in generally laymen's terms, you will absolutely do no better than Prof. Linder's Constitutional Interpretation site at the University of Missouri-KC, School of Law. This should be required reading for every senior in American High Schools and/or Freshmen in College.
  • For those with an advanced understanding, such as law students, poly sci folks, lawyers, and regular ole informed, educated citizens with a fascination for such, I highly recommend Jack Balkin's Balkinization blog. While this largely revolves around Executive powers and the interplay between politics and Constitutional law, the discussions are always lively, and more than well-researched.

Seriously. You owe it to yourself, and you owe it to your country.

You also need to find out who this Virginian is, one who bears a University named in his honor in that State, was the 4th President of the U.S., and absolutely dead-on about most things constitutional...since, you know, he wrote the fucking thing.


Thursday: Political Grindcore

Thanks Napalm Death, post-punk grind godfathers on the Noise/Earache label. After the Peel sessions, these guys went to the fucking A-list.

What is their relevance to today? For a post coming a bit later about hypocrisy...until then, enjoy Napalm Death's "Circle of Hypocrisy" from 1990's seminal "Harmony Corruption".

I got a concussion in the 1991 show in Atlanta when Barney kicked me in the head. I had just dropped a hit of four-way; probably not the wisest choice for first-time acid use.
And, no, I don't regret a second of it.

Lyrics go now:
Talk of unity - a far cry from the slander and rivalry
Why should we encourage what in fact is a circle of hypocrisy

Impulsive jealosy
Where;s the so-called harmony?
Internally untrusting
Externally inspiring

Assume your place above the rest
The wisest of the less
The knowledge you'll never possess
Compensated for with single-mindedness

Bored with life you turn to test
Battleground for pettiness
Pick at flies to justify
Temper's raised - You wonder why?


Supposedly Accessible
Come support our scene
Just another target
Harassed to the extreme


This Week's Internet Winner...

Off to a long, weird, oddly busy week. No time like the present to unleash this week's internet winner, the Busey-faced Walrus :)

Wait till tomorrow, BTW, to see the incredibly awesome, but true, story that I share with you tomorrow: It restores my faith in both humanity and Seattle. Until then, Winnar.

That is an excellent Walrus face. Simply excellent.
Both of 'em.

Jane Austen, how do I hate thee...

Jane Austen perpetuates the Fee Tail to our children (think of the little girls, won't you); her notion of romance is roughly analogous to a tepid Cleveland Steamer; everyone hovers in/around the petty gentry class and the landed polite society....and Mr. Darcy needs a good cockpunching. Just to make me feel better.

Now, that said, for just one moment, let's get raw: Let's have some Austen with a set of "Thatchers" shall we?"

Jane Austen Fight Club


Happy Wednesday MFers...

Or, as I call it, "God, this week has flown by; it's the middle of the Work-Week Day already". Weird busy week. New Secretary started, emergencies dropping like dead birds all over the place, and here we sit on Hump Day and I have surprisingly little done.

Time to throw some elbows on the day...

Slut's "Wednesday"...I really like this video, and the lyrics are none-too-cheery either. Just the thing to kickstart some existential angst...



Who knew?

Mystik Spiral knew, of course, that Tuesday could be this busy. Presenting the criminally forgotten "Daria", with her brother Trent's band, "Mystik Spiral".

I'm just sad that the track "Little Sister" doesn't have a video.

Does anybody know? Does anybody know why we're here? Excellent lyrics, and right up there with the lyrics to this lil' diddy, "Every Dog Has Its Day" (f. such lines as "you ate up all my kibble").



Fair thee well, Geraldine Hoff Doyle

As the old year fades, we look forward to the new day, obviously. However, it is also time to take a moment to think about and honor those not with us for the dawn of 2011. I lost two friends this year, and another with very poor prognosis. Death is just as much a part of life as being born, though.

However, this isn't about personal goodbyes; this is a nationwide farewell to the 86 year old Geraldine Hoff Doyle, who passed away last week. You've never heard of her personally, she was a retired housewife to her dentist husband, Leo Doyle. But, Geraldine was --like so many other women in the War Generation-- invaluable to kindling the can-do spirit of the ladies who made the economic and war engine run.

 And, she was a world class beauty to boot...

See Geraldine was working one day at the GE munitions factory in Michigan (her home state), when a young UPI photographer snapped a photo of her, hard at work pressing sheet metal...

I don't understand why men wouldn't want this in the workforce 

An in-house graphic artist loved the photo so much that he thought he'd use a stylized version of it, perhaps make it a bit spiffier, to give the ladies at the munitions plant something to be proud of, to be motivated for. What he created, and what Geraldine and others took inspiration from, is as iconic an image of Americana as you will ever see. You, of course, know that painting as Rosie the Riveter.

 Yes, yes you could.  And did.

Later adopted as a signpost of feminism, gender equality, GLBT issues and many many others, Rosie's face has graced everything from toilet paper to toothbrushes; tee shirts to torpedoes. But, while it's too often used for movements based upon otherness or issues that are divisive (wrong-headedly, I add), let's think for a moment about what this really was: A time when we really did band together to save humanity from the horrors of true fascism and of true tyranny, and millions upon millions more dead (no matter how loosely we use those words today, we have no idea what the face of evil looks like; our grandfathers saw those faces).

Hubris aside, we owe Rosie, Geraldine and all of the others far more than we ever paid back. Let's start by adding a few words to your dark prayers. 

 Fairwell, Geraldine Hoff Doyle, the hero to millions of Americans, for more than one generation and more than one cause.  
Dead at 86.


New Year's Pin-Up: The French Cat

Via Harlottville, comes the French Cat, an absolutely stunning, curvy beauty of wood-tacular proportions :)

Hot. Hot. Hot.
 And, I love the Royal Blue she's rocking as well.


A New Year...

Hope it's a good one for you and your'n. Let's get Monday off to a good start: Later today, we say goodbye to an old friend, and an icon, but let's not let that bum us out just yet, shall we?

NYC's own Baghdaddio's performing the standard.
I miss live music, terribly.