Friday, August 18, 2017

Sick children, corrupt party

CNN doesn't get a lot of credit from other news organizations, who often are quick to report on others' exposes, or even to follow with their own versions. I cannot say why that is.

But CNN's lengthy story about how Florida Republicans schemed to cut medical care for the sickest children in the state, so that big donor insurance companies could take in tens of millions in taxpayer dollars, deserves attention.

CNN does not mention that Florida's Republican governor, Rick Scott, is an insurance crook. So this vile trick cannot be said to be entirely unexpected.

Nut graf:

"This was a way for the politicians to repay the entities that had contributed to their political campaigns and their political success, and it's the children who suffered," said Dr. Louis St. Petery, former executive vice president of the Florida chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Remember this story the next time Mitch McConnell says Americans are suffering under Obamacare. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

21st century iconoclasm

As we contemplate storing Confederate statues (in New Orleans) or pulling them down (in Durham), it is worth asking, how did we react when Poles, Germans, Czechs etc. pulled down statues of Lenin and Marx, or when Iraqis pulled down (with some help from the US Army) statues of Saddam?

With approval, generally, I think. Few Americans worried about losing the heritage of those places.

Still popular in Tajikistan


And how did Americans react when they learned that statues to Stalin are still up in, eg, Tajikistan?

For that matter, how did they react when a bust of Stalin was put up in a congressionally-mandated park in Bedford, Virginia, one that was inaugurated without protest by President G.W. Bush?

That one took a while, but the bust was eventually put in storage. Along with one of Chiang Kai-shek.

Were rightwing admirers of Chiang miffed? Not as far as I can tell. And it seems nobody gives a damn about busts to Attlee, who was more of a socialist than Stalin ever was.

Evidently, bronze images evoke complicated reactions.

The Confederate memorials that stand, usually, at county courthouses were not wholly a result of Jim Crow or even of nostalgia for the Lost Cause.  They were peddled -- not too successfully -- by Northern foundrymasters around 1900. It's a capitalist country on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line and feelings are not expected to prevail when bucks are to be made.

My preference would be to put the statues in museums, with new statues in their place of people like, say, Elijah Lovejoy. Or if new statues are too costly, how about a text, in line with th Southern mania for erecting texts of the Decalogue? I suggest the words of the Mississippi  Convention that ratified secession:

Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth.

UPDATE Wednesday

Lee and Jackson were ridden out of town in Baltimore. Although the vote to do so was public, the removal was done without notice in the middle of the night. As we used to say, ironically, the terrorists have won. We cannot say that ironically now. The armed rightwing terrorists control the public space.

Fans of the Second Amendment, whose principal claim is that it protects the citizenry from its government,  now have to explain how that works.








Saturday, August 12, 2017

Racists and cars

The news from Charlottesville that a racist had plowed his car into a crowd of peaceful protesters reminded me of how far we have not come.

Witnesses said a crowd of counterdemonstrators, jubilant because the white nationalists had left, was moving up Fourth Street, near the mall, when a gray sports car came down the road and accelerated, mowing down several people and hurling at least two in the air.
Not quite 50 years ago, Tricia and I drove out to the hospital in Raleigh, N.C., to get syphilis tests in order to get a marriage license. We were to be married in10 days.

It was the day after Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered in Tennessee. Driving back through downtown, in a light rain, we encountered a march coming up the 4-lane road the other way, preceded by a couple of motorcycle cops and trailed by a squad car. The silent crowd, maybe a thousand or so, was, as far as I could see, all black, probably students from St. Augustine and Shaw universities, the two black colleges in town. On the front rank, the marchers carried a banner on a horizontal pole. I do not recall what it said.

 I had marched with Shaw and St. Aug students, for integration, before, but I was not aware of a march that day. I wouldn't have joined anyway since I was preoccupied with marriage.

The cars and trucks going my way came to a halt, probably at police direction, though I couldn't see that far ahead. We'd been halted for five minutes or so, and the head of the march had just passed my Saab 96 when a lifted Chevelle with big rear tires came roaring up from behind the marchers, pulled over in front of the crowd, then reversed with tires screeching into the crowd.

The marchers scattered. Unlike in Charlottesville, no one was hit (as far as I could tell) and I did not see how the police reacted. I was distracted.

As the marchers ran in all directions, many came past the line of stopped cars. One, who had a furled umbrella, smashed the windshield of the pickup truck stopped just in front of me. Another leaned in my open window and spat in my face.

As I was wiping my face I saw the two men in the pickup get out of the cab and pull a shotgun from behind the seat. They got back in the truck and the stopped cars began moving away from the commotion.

As soon as I reached a cross street, I pulled over and found a pay phone. I called the police to report two angry men with a shotgun and gave the plate number.

And then we drove home.

The Charlottesville driver wouldn't know that story, but I don't think he was imitating the Muslim assailants who have driven cars and trucks into crowds in France, England and elsewhere. I'd guess he was letting his redneck juices flow naturally.

Today would have been a good day for Whiny Baby Donald to have put some distance between himself and nazis. He didn't. His kind of people.

UPDATE SUNDAY

Saturday I heard part of an interview  with the deputy mayor of Charlottsville in which he noted that despite the presence of Mr. Jefferson's university, the city has had a long history of aniblack racism and violence. It took part in Massive Resistance to the Supreme Court's order to desegregate public  schools, for example.

He did not go back further than that. His remarks reminded me of an incident related to me by the professor in my college senior seminar, who was a graduate student at UVA when its grad school was integrated in, as I recall, 1951. (The first cracks in southern antiblack hatred came in the grad schools of public universities in several states.)

The grandfathers of the same nazis who came to Charlottesville this week came then, too, and tried to burn down the school.

The state police were called out in force and stayed on the campus for quite a while, though I don't believe they were able to identify the arsonists.

Today the New York Times has a story alleging, with entire credibility, that Trump was urged to condemn nazism and refused. The reason, clearly, is that he doesn't see anything wrong with antiblack racism (or antisemitism, either, for that matter). The proof, like the dog that did not bark in the night, is not what WBD said or failed to say but in what he failed to do.

Recall how many times he has offered/threatened to send federal help to Chicago to help deal wth its violence.

No such offer was made to Charlottesville.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Funniest story this month (so far)

So Kellyanne Conway says the White House is considering introducing lie detectors into the West Wing.

I predict some liars would be discovered.

Christians I knew

I grew up among Southern Baptists. I didn't like them. Still don't. But I was interested to see recently that the church's national conference voted to condemn the "alt-right." (A name I deplore; we already have a name for them: neoNazis.)

It was not unanimous.

Southern Baptists have always been fractious, and they're hell on liberals.

So I was interested, but unsurprised, to see what happened when a pastor called for witness statements from people who quit the church.

Next time you see a report about the National Prayer Breakfast,  think about this.

So far as I know, no other cult has voted on whether to condemn neoNazis. So there's that.