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Category: General

History of Slavery

[ 13 ] January 17, 2016 |


A couple of articles on the history of world slavery that may pique your interest on a Sunday morning.

First, here’s a really interesting photo essay on African slaves in Iran in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Evidently, this is a really sensitive topic, especially among rich families who say these people were “servants,” not slaves. Sounds to me like white people in the American South telling themselves fairy tales about how their domestic slaves were almost like family, had better lives than they would have in Africa, etc.

Second is this essay on how the Haitian Revolution scared the pants off slaveholders in Cuba.

Slave rebels in Saint Domingue as well as in Cuba drew from diverse array of ideological influences. Ferrer cites the well-known example of a rebel slave captured and executed in Saint Domingue in 1791, who was reported to have carried gunpowder, an African talisman, and pamphlets on the Rights of Man: symbols of modernity, African tradition, and the French Revolution in a single pocket.

The mounting French Revolution seems to have exerted the single most significant influence, particularly in its more radical phases. But the signal traveled in both directions: though Ferrer does not mention it, in January 1794 the multiracial Saint Domingue delegation was received, as C. L. R. James movingly describes in The Black Jacobins, with great enthusiasm by the French Revolutionary Convention, which proceeded to abolish slavery throughout the empire.

Similarly syncretized intellectual and political traditions influenced slave conspiracies and rebellions in Cuba. In this context, Ferrer discusses at length the most important of these rebellions, the 1812 insurgency led by José Antonio Aponte, a free man of color, who was a carpenter, artist, and possibly a priest in the Afro-Cuban religion of Santería.

Aponte and his associates devised a plan to burn the sugar mills and attack the fortresses and armories of Havana, seizing weapons to arm the four hundred men who, according to Aponte, were organized and waiting to rise up when called. When the appointed moment arrived, Aponte issued a public declaration of freedom for the slaves that was later nailed to the doors of the palace of government.

The movement was violently defeated and Aponte was hanged on April 9, 1812. His rebellion took place in the period of ascendant anti-slavery activity throughout the Atlantic colonies that followed the Haitian Revolution, alongside plots and conspiracies in Trinidad, Jamaica, the United States, Puerto Rico, and Brazil.

Certainly the Haitian Revolution was on the mind of slaveholders in the U.S. from the moment it happened until the end of slavery. That was especially true after Nat Turner’s Rebellion. The difference between the U.S. and Caribbean though is that there simply weren’t enough slaves to have a successful rebellion in the U.S., whereas in most of the Caribbean, that was at least a possibility, if not a likelihood.


And Now, the Switch

[ 70 ] January 17, 2016 |


Nobody could have etc.:

Walmart abruptly announced Friday that it was abandoning a promise to build stores in Washington’s poorest neighborhoods, an agreement that had been key to the deal allowing the retailer to begin operating in the nation’s capital.

The giant retailer cited increasing costs for the new projects and disappointing performance at the three D.C. stores it opened over the past several years. But news that Walmart would pull out of two supercenters planned for east of the Anacostia River, where its wares and jobs are wanted most, shocked D.C. leaders. In one case, the city had already committed $90 million to make a development surrounding one of the stores viable.

Tales from the Corporate University

[ 58 ] January 16, 2016 |

The story of the chocolate milk ‘study’ at the University of Maryland shouldn’t really be a surprise to anyone paying attention, unfortunately. There are two things I find particularly striking about it, though. First, the shamelessness of it; there didn’t seem to be much of an effort to make this look like serious research or otherwise disguise what was going on:

The first problem here is that the research itself is breathtakingly suspect. There was no comparison group or treatment in the study. The scientists didn’t even test another brand of chocolate milk. They only looked at a Fifth Quarter Fresh, which its maker claims comes from “super, natural cows.”

Worse, the scientists didn’t even bother to publish their results before publicizing them, according to an excellent probe of the release by the health news watchdog Health News Review.

Despite all these red flags, the university touted the study: “Fifth Quarter Fresh, a new, high-protein chocolate milk,” the release reads, “helped high school football players improve their cognitive and motor function over the course of a season, even after experiencing concussions.” The milk manufacturer also featured the “findings” on its own website.

The second element to the story I find particularly striking is the bargain-pricing strategy for their integrity:

As it turns out, the maker of Fifth Quarter Fresh chocolate milk — which comes from a dairy cooperative in Hagerstown, Maryland — funded 10 percent of the study, and the university funded the rest.

El Chapo: Fashion Guru

[ 41 ] January 16, 2016 |



I’m a little disappointed that the U.S. and Mexico haven’t started a new era of relations with a trade. You extradite El Chapo to us. We extradite Sean Penn to you. It’s brilliant. The problem may be that Mexico does not want to bring such a horrible writer into its nation and really, who could blame it. It’s like when Americans say they wish we could give Texas back to Mexico. What did Mexico do to us that it deserves Texas? Talk about a new era of neo-imperialism. We shouldn’t be using Mexico to dump our national sewage. And thus we have to keep Texas and we have to keep Sean Penn.

In any case, Americans may have a new Che to inspire some Latin American fashions:

“We noticed on Saturday night,” he said, when friends and customers started calling. The brothers discovered that two Rolling Stone photos showed Guzmán in shirts of their design. The Esteghbals wasted no time. They advertised.

“MOST WANTED SHIRT” quickly appeared on the website of their store, Barabas, below the famous photo of Penn and Guzmán shaking hands, the drug lord in a shirt striped silver and light and coated with a black cobweb design. The fabric – silk, according to Penn – gleams with a metallic sheen. Esteghbal explained, unprompted: “He’s a most-wanted man!”

In a video for the magazine, Guzmán appears in a shirt with a similar paisley print, but in two shades of neon blue. He could be incognito only hiding in a forest of glowsticks and discoteca strobe lights, or at the scene of a particularly hideous detergent accident at the laundromat.

Esteghbal said he did not know why Guzmán would have been drawn to the shirt – “probably the design”.

The brothers’ website describes their “philosophy of fashion” with a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, the former first lady and civil rights activist, that reads: “One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes.”

“Good words, good thoughts, good deeds” is the brothers’ mantra.

Asked about the risks of his advertising – that people might associate Barabas clothing with the brutal murders, cartel wars and legacy of corruption and addiction that Guzmán’s name suggests – Esteghbal paused to think. “No no, we’re just making clothes.

“I cannot say anything right now on that. They can think however they want to think, but reality is reality.”

For now, he said he’s content to sell the shirt, $128 a pop. “And sales are skyrocketing.”

If there’s anything that Eleanor Roosevelt cared more about than fashion, I just don’t know what it could be. Certainly she has a lot in common with El Chapo. And I’m sure Esteghbal will totally donate all that cash he’s making on El Chapo shirts to the victims of Sinaloa Cartel violence….

NFL Divisional Round Open Thread

[ 283 ] January 16, 2016 |


Kansas City (+4 1/2) at New England This game is particularly tough to call given that it’s hard to say what exactly the Patriots will look like — will they have any semblance of an offensive line? Why, given have that he had so semblance of an offensive line and a game plan that expressed indifference to getting the #1 seed, did Smilin’ Bill Belichick put Tom Brady out on the field as a target for Ndamukong Suh and will this have effects that are felt two weeks later? Will Edelman be an actual factor or just a decoy like Gronk in Super Bowl I forget the roman numeral? Given this combination of injury concerns, it’s hard for me to give up 4 and a half points, given that when all was said and done the Chiefs and Patriots were basically dead even in quality this year (and note that in weighted DVOA KC comes in #2 and New England #9.) I still pick KC with trepidation — the Maclin injury is significant, and while Andy Reid can match up with almost anyone as a Monday-to-Friday coach having him on the sideline against Belichick in a playoff game has to give Chiefs fans chills (and Eagles fans nightmares.) Still, Reid’s adventures in clock and timeout management are most significant at the end of close games, and if it’s a close game there’s a 4 1/2 point cushion. I think this game will at least be close. And if it’s a blowout, I frankly think the Chiefs are more likely to be on the long end.

Green Bay at Arizona (-7 1/2) Actually betting NFL games against the spread is generally about as fiscally sound as paying people large commissions to pick stocks, but on exception is betting on games where I talk myself into a different team at the last minute — betting against the team I settle on has a 1.000 winning percentage. I can’t even reconstruct my reasoning behind talking myself into taking Kirk Cousins over Aaron Rodgers last week and let us forget this ever happened. I’m not going to go the other way, though, and overcompensate by tabbing Green Bay this week. The Pack looked better against the rich man’s version of the Texans* last week, but it was also the first time they looked like a team that belongs in the divisional round since November 22. And they’ve moved up in class from the narrowly best in an unspeakably bad division to the team that was, soup to nuts, the best in the league this year. Granted, the injuries to the Arizona defense — most notably the sublime Tyrann Mathieu — are starting to pile up, and this could be an issue against Carolina or Seattle. And who knows, maybe Aaron Rodgers will go crazy one more once. But I just don’t see Green Bay having the depth to hang with Arizona on the road.

Seattle (+2) at Carolina Do I think the 10-6 Seahawks are a better team than the 15-1 Panthers? I do. Much of the difference in records comes down to luck in close games — the Panthers were only a game better in terms of their point differential, and when you consider that the Panthers played literally the easiest schedule in the league…”15-1″ is really neither here nor there. And while the teams were close to a wash this season, there’s also fact that Seattle has been at this level or better for four years while the Panthers were outscored by 35 points last year with personnel that wasn’t radically different. Do I think Russell Wilson is a better QB than the consensus MVP? Sorry, but I do (and that’s no knock on Newton.) None of this is to say that I feel as confident as this might imply. The Panthers’ only decent receiving weapon is a tight end, but as it happens tight ends have eaten Seattle alive this year (including, of course, Olsen himself.) After the Carolina fiasco I had assumed that Carroll and Richard would be able to scheme to attenuate this problem, but at least in the Minnesota game their stategery was “put Kam Chancellor on him and pray,” which “worked” only thanks to the endless generosity of Blair Walsh. I would assume they’ll try something different this week but then I would have thought that last week. And speaking of timeout management, the Seahawks were burning timeouts because they couldn’t get their offense organized like Rex Ryan himself was on the sideline — if Carroll/Bevell/Wilson can’t get that straightened out it could really cost them a playoff game, and indeed already should have. But still — I think the Seahawks are a better team, by a greater margin than the implcit point they’re getting as the road team. Figures to be the best game of the weekend, at least.

Pittsburgh at Denver (-7 1/2) The easiest pick of the week for me, which is not to say that I don’t have misgivings. The last two years, the issue with picking the Broncos in the playoffs is trying to figure out how much worse Peyton Manning was than his season’s statistics would be in January and February. This year, it’s trying to figure out how much better Manning will be in January than his horrific season stats, if any. Manning wasn’t exactly throwing lasers in his relief appearance, and it’s hard to think of him throwing ducks and give up more than a TD. On the other hand, I’d rather have a washed-up Manning than a green A.J. McCarran, who Pittsburgh struggled to beat despite getting upwards of ten points from dubious-to-horrible calls — the phantom unnecessary roughness call on Smith, the failure to call the leading-with-the-crown penalty on Shazier, and most crucially the failure to flag Porter for unsportsmanlike conduct that the NFL was effectively conceded was erroneous — in high-leverage spots. To be clear, this doesn’t mean that the Steelers didn’t “deserve” to win the game or some such — sometimes you get breaks, you have take advantage of them, the Hill fumble wasn’t just a blunder by the Bengals but a fantastic play by Shazier, plus they lost their QB to injury and they’ll be without the services of their star wideout, who was injured by a cheap shot that received a four-game suspension that was probably inadequate. But, still, Brown will be out as the Steelers go from playing a very good defense to a great one. And while Roethlisberger is genuinely great player and can be remarkably effective playing through injuries, I’m not picking a QB with a separated shoulder against the league’s best pass defense on the road. The Broncos QB situation will be a serious issue if they make it to the conference championship, but I don’t think it catches up with them here.

*This blog really should acknowledge Bill O’Brien scouring through Chuck Pagano’s archive of 1960s high school footage and coming up with a wildcat play to his defensive end with a bad groin, which worked out exactly as well as you’d expect. SUPERGENIUS!

The Long Arm of Bakke

[ 38 ] January 16, 2016 |


I originally missed this Sigal Alon piece in The Nation on how the discourse of diversity helped kill affirmative action. She rightfully sees Bakke as laying the groundwork for the evisceration of race-based college admissions soon to be eliminated entirely in Fisher.

 The Bakke case is often looked upon as the landmark ruling for legitimizing race-conscious admissions policies in higher education. Justice Powell set the stage for what came to be known as the “diversity rationale” for race-conscious admissions policies—the argument that having a diverse student body in postsecondary institutions serves a compelling government interest because “the ‘nation’s future depends upon leaders trained through wide exposure’ to the ideas and mores of students as diverse as this Nation of many peoples.” Race-conscious admissions, then, are permissible because, when narrowly tailored, they serve this substantial educational interest.

 The Bakke ruling shifted the rationale for affirmative action from reparation for past discrimination to promoting diversity. This, in essence, made the discourse about affirmative action race-neutral, in that it now ignores one of the key reasons for why we need to give an edge to minorities. Today the University of Texas, Austin, when defending the consideration of race and ethnicity in admission decisions, cannot say that this practice is needed because of persistent racial inequality; because minority students do not have the same life chances as white students; because there is extensive racial discrimination in the labor and housing markets; because students who study in poor high schools have less chances for learning and lower achievements; or because growing up in poverty impedes your cognitive development. The only argument at the disposal of UT Austin in defense of its admission practices is that it needs a diverse student body to enrich the educational experience of privileged white students.

Today, the fate of affirmative action rests solely on the Court’s endorsing diversity as a compelling societal interest. The oral arguments in Fisher this week demonstrate the fragility of this situation. Chief Justice Roberts questioned the educational benefits of racial diversity, asking, “What unique perspective does a minority student bring to a physics class?… I’m just wondering what the benefits of diversity are in that situation?”

Of course Roberts is too secure in his own privilege to see that in fact there is value in having a diverse classroom, even in physics. Science may indeed matter differently to people from different backgrounds. Shocking! Of course, had the Court rejected Bakke‘s case entirely, Texas would have had a lot sturdier legs to stand on than just diversity. Even if Powell was OK was diversity as a principle, he rejected the key civil rights element of affirmative action.

But then Powell was named to the Supreme Court by Greatest Liberal of All Time Richard Nixon so I don’t see the argument’s value. I’ll bet that conservacrat Barack Obama wouldn’t name defenders of affirmative action to the Supreme Court!

This Day in Labor History: January 16, 1961

[ 5 ] January 16, 2016 |


On January 16, 1961, lettuce workers in the Imperial Valley of California walked off the job in one of the first modern actions of agricultural worker militancy that would eventually lead to the rise of the United Farm Workers and other farmworker unions in the 1960s and 1970s.

Imperial Valley lettuce growers, like farmers across the Southwest, made their profits off very low wages. From the very beginning of agribusiness in this region, farmers relied on inexpensive transient labor, usually by people of color. This labor could be white, as it was during the Great Depression. But mostly it was Mexicans and Filipinos. The Chinese primarily worked on the railroads and in the cities and the Japanese tended to buy their own farms at first opportunity, often on land abandoned on white farmers. The Filipinos took over much of the agricultural labor in the early 20th century, but the ending of Filipino immigration after the Tydings-McDuffie Act in 1934 meant that the long-term answer for farmers would be Mexicans. These concerns are the primary reason why agricultural labor was excluded from both the immigration acts of the 1920s that effectively ended immigration from eastern and southern Europe but did not affect the Americas, as well as the National Labor Relations Act and Fair Labor Standards Act, the core labor legislation of the New Deal. The entry of the U.S. into World War II threatened farmers’ cheap labor force even more and thus the government created the Bracero Program with Mexico. This really allowed the farmers to exploit workers like never before.

For the AFL-CIO, the bracero program was a threat to American labor. In 1959, the federation created the Agricultural Workers Organization Committee (AWOC). This organization, largely made up of Mexican and Filipino-Americans and eventually led by the great Filipino-American labor leader Larry Itliong, sought to force the Department of Labor to eliminate bracero labor by having small numbers of domestic
workers call strikes at farms. This could work because braceros were banned as scab labor in the agreement with Mexico. Moreover, there was some greater public sympathy with farmworkers at this point because of the recently aired Edward R. Murrow documentary special “Harvest of Shame,” which aired in November 1960.

The strike itself began because the growers, seeking to maximize their profits, decided not to pay wages at the agreed upon set wage. Farmworkers do have one advantage to other striking workers and that has to do with the spoilage of produce. If they stay out long enough, farmers simply lose their entire crop. On January 16, AWOC called its workers out to force the farmers to pay the agreed upon wage and not use braceros. It started using its strategy of taking advantage of the bracero strikebreaking provision. At one farm, striking workers rushed in to disrupt the camp, a riot started, and a cook and two Mexican workers were injured. This led to both a raid upon union headquarters in Brawley, California where over 40 unionists were arrested and demands by the Mexican government to get its citizens out of these farms. The DOL pulled 2,052 Mexican citizens from California farms, including over 1,000 from the Imperial Valley lettuce farms, leading to the growers objecting and finally a meeting with Secretary of Labor Arthur Goldberg. But AWOC and the DOL led to a serious disruption in the Bracero Program.

But this did not mean that AWOC would win the strike. The major goal of the Kennedy administration was to solve the strike, not end the Bracero Program, even though the 1960 Democratic Party platform had a plank calling for its end. The meetings led by Goldberg and Undersecretary of Labor Willard Wirtz mediating between the growers and labor were fraught with problems because leading union participants were not even invited and the growers refused to sit down with labor. The growers began raising pay rates quietly to convince workers to not strike while Goldberg and Wirtz decided that if a field was not being picketed at a given time that the braceros could continue to work. Given the limited resources of AWOC (and the United Packinghouse Workers of America, which was also representing some workers), winning the strike was impossible. They couldn’t picket 40,000 acres of lettuce at once. This pleased the growers greatly. The Imperial Valley News wrote, “Growers are not said to feel that Secretary Goldberg is more sympathetic to his cause than was his predecessor James Mitchell.” Of course Goldberg came from a Democratic administration and Mitchell had served under Eisenhower. Once again, the actual actions of the Kennedy administration proved to be less than liberal.

AWOC received a lot of bad publicity for its aggression toward braceros and George Meany shut it down later in 1961, possibly at the request of Arthur Goldberg who had long hated radicalism in labor and who had played a major role in the CIO expelling communist unions in 1947. Meany never really supported AWOC anyway and had mostly created it to cut Walter Reuther from using his people to organize farmworkers. But AWOC would soon revive playing an important role in early farmworker organizing, especially among the Filipinos that would play an underrated role in the early history of the United Farm Workers. This was helped by AWOC head Norman Smith, an old CIO organizer, refusing to hand over money from his treasury that he had never told Meany about. Moreover, the ambivalence to outright hostility these unions would have to undocumented workers after the end of the Bracero Program in 1964, including from Cesar Chavez himself, would repeat the actions of AWOC in 1961.

This strike did not lead to a union victory exactly. But when Kennedy renewed the Bracero Program later in 1961, he publicly stated he ordered Goldberg to correct the abuses and protect the wages of American residents in the fields. In fact, Goldberg then raised the minimum wage for braceros in the California fields to $1 an hour at a time when the national minimum wage was $1.15. he also sent 57 more inspectors to the California farms to monitor the program and ordered the restoration of the piece rates the lettuce growers had violated. UPWA director of west coast operations Bud Simonson later noted, “It looks like we won the Imperial Valley strike of 1961 after all.”

The 1961 strike it was in many ways the first real moment that showed growers what they would have to face as the 1960s and 1970s went on: worker militancy combined with public sympathy and greater anger over poverty that would force agribusiness on the defensive like never before, eventually leading to union recognition for at least some farmworkers.

The material from this post comes mostly from Frank Bardacke, Trampling Out the Vintage: Cesar Chavez and the Two Souls of the United Farm Workers. Each and every one of you should read this fantastic book. Some is drawn from Mae Ngai, Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America, another highly worthwhile book.

This is the 167th post in this series. Previous posts are archived here.

“We could have gotten zero.”

[ 44 ] January 16, 2016 |


Joe Lieberman is definitely a man who can afford to be made to look ridiculous, and in his position as head of the NoLabelsUniteForUnity081216 floating circle jerk this will happen with even greater frequency than usual:

We had no idea when we started out down this road how many candidates would make the Problem Solver Promise,” said No Labels’s co-chairman and former U.S. senator Joe Lieberman, a longtime Democrat from Connecticut who retired as an independent after losing his party’s primary. “Today, six have! I’m glad we got six. We could have gotten zero.”

Rarely have I been more amused to see people acting this pathetically. We’ve gotten six people to agree to our meaningless plan for fiscal responsibility! And the most recent is a particularly YOOOOOOOOOOOOGE get, whose commitment to Fiscal Dignitude is reflected by his plan to use upper-class tax cuts to add eleventy trillion dollars to the deficit!

Via Pierce, who observes:

The Jon Huntsman Campaign Memorial Function Room at the Stupid Café is one of our most popular features. It’s nearly always booked, usually by the weekly luncheons of the various No Labels/Third Way/Both Sides Suck cosplay organizations that have sprung up. It’s no surprise, then, that the man for whom the room was named, and his incredibly irrelevant lollipop guild, booked the room for their annual awards. And, boy howdy, did they put on a show.


In his next life, Joe Lieberman is going to come back as a spittoon.

Happy Birthday

[ 24 ] January 15, 2016 |

In Chicago, a number of people gathered to mark Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday in a suitable manner.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel hosted the city’s Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast Friday amid growing calls for his resignation and backlash surrounding the annual event.

The breakfast celebrating King’s life is in its 30th year, but some notable black leaders will be sitting this one out, as dozens pledged to boycott in their belief that King’s life and legacy has not been honored on the streets of Chicago.

Writing exercise – Hand-wring in the nut graf … Go!
Surely this was not what the late Mayor Harold Washington envisioned when he hosted the first MLK breakfast in 1985. The event was a target for protest groups calling for the resignation of Chicago’s current Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Whatever “this” means. (And don’t call me Shirley.) The event did not go off sans hitches:

The advertised guest speaker, author Isabela Wilkerson who boycotters asked not to speak, did not appear. The crowded ballroom included many seniors, some who say they were invited within the past 24 hours.

“I did mine yesterday. Got your invitation yesterday? Yeah,” said Richard Lackey, a breakfast guest.

Mayor Emanuel shows his understanding of the situation:
“This was not about me. It’s about Dr. King, his life and his life’s work,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Mayor Emanuel just wants you to focus on the photo op. related to a dead black man.

No, not that one, y’ fool!

Pollution, Past and Present

[ 30 ] January 15, 2016 |


Air pollution, Louisville, 1943

The history of pollution goes back a long time:

First it was wood fires in ancient homes, the effects of which have been found in the blackened lungs of mummified tissue from Egypt, Peru and Great Britain. And the Romans earn the dubious credit of being perhaps the first to spew metallic pollutants into the air, long before the Industrial Revolution.

“We saw the harmful effects of air pollution even in Roman times,” says Mark Z. Jacobson, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University, director of the Atmosphere/Energy Program and author of the textbook Air Pollution and Global Warming: History, Science, and Solutions.

The residents of ancient Rome referred to their city’s smoke cloud as gravioris caeli (“heavy heaven”) and infamis aer (“infamous air”). Several complaints about its effects can be found in classical writings. “No sooner had I left behind the oppressive atmosphere of the city [Rome] and that reek of smoking cookers which pour out, along with clouds of ashes, all the poisonous fumes they’ve accumulated in their interiors whenever they’re started up, than I noticed the change in my condition,” wrote the philosopher and statesman Seneca in A.D. 61.

Roman courts considered civil claims over smoke pollution 2,000 years ago, notes Stephen Mosley, a lecturer at the School of Cultural Studies at Leeds Metropolitan University who has written extensively about the history of air pollution. The jurist Aristo declared, for example, that a cheese shop could not discharge smoke into the buildings above it.

The empire even tried a very early version of the Clean Air Act. In 535, then Emperor Justinian proclaimed the importance of clean air as a birthright. “By the law of nature these things are common to mankind—the air, running water, the sea,” he wrote.

Later, smelting to create lead and copper came along, fouling medieval air. Analyses of ice cores from the Arctic reveal that extraction and smelting on the Iberian Peninsula, England, Greece and elsewhere increased lead in the environment by a factor of ten.

Pollution is also with us today, often for the most nefarious and morally bankrupt reasons. Like in Flint:

But emergency managers, particularly the ones appointed by Governor Snyder (a Republican) have been far more focused on cuts for their own sake, particularly crushing unionized public sector workers. The idea to temporarily use Flint River water while another pipeline was being constructed was one of those cost-saving measures.

It was immediately obvious that the water was filthy, and residents loudly protested that it was cloudy, smelled bad, and tasted worse. General Motors stopped using the water because it was literally corroding their machinery. But Snyder and his handpicked head environmental official Dan Wyant studiously ignored the problem — despite internal warnings of lead poisoning as early as July of last year — until an outside scientific study demonstrated extreme levels of lead in Flint children. In late December — over a year after the water switch — Snyder finally apologized and Wyant quietly resigned.

Now Snyder has already been forced to pony up over $10 million to switch the Flint water system back to the way it was before (hooked up to Detroit, basically), and the city is asking for some $50 million more to replace lead pipes. But that’s very likely only the beginning. Flint’s population is roughly 100,000, and several families have already sued state and local officials over the lead issue. It’s unclear so far how badly the city’s children have been poisoned, but it’s a pretty safe bet the state will end up spending tens or perhaps even hundreds of millions on settlements.

And that’s where a moral atrocity becomes an economic self-kneecapping. Aside from the cost of settlements, children are the major portion of the future’s economic capacity, which depends critically on their ability to function normally. Destroying their brains with heavy metals will rather impede their ability to get the jobs and pay the taxes that will get Flint on a sound fiscal footing.

Returning poor Americans to lead exposure is basically the upshot of Republican governance; no doubt Rick Snyder sees the real problem here as the ability of citizens to sue over this. The temerity of anti-government Snyder now begging President Obama for federal relief would be LOL material if it wasn’t so serious and if it all wasn’t part of the drowning government in a bathtub so long as I don’t need strategy of Republicans. See here:

“Mistrust in government is at a heightened level,” Snyder, a Republican, said in a request dated Thursday and released to The Associated Press.

Huh, I wonder why that would be? No doubt Republicans will spin all this as why government doesn’t work and waltz into another couple of terms in the statehouse in Lansing.

The Hackery Never Stops

[ 152 ] January 15, 2016 |
Dumb and Dumber (Screengrab)

Dumb and Dumber

H.A. Goodman is a national treasure:

I recently had the great pleasure of appearing on the Benjamin Dixon Show, where I explained that Bernie Sanders could easily win a landslide victory in 2016. If you enjoyed my latest article on the subject, just watch my discussion with Benjamin Dixon.

Benjamin Dixon is becoming a national presence, and I thank him for giving me the opportunity to explain why my conscience will only allow me to vote for Bernie Sanders, and not Donald Trump or Clinton.

Also, although I didn’t mention this alternate scenario, the FBI might give Bernie Sanders a landslide victory in 2016. Not many people understand the severity of hackers in other countries attempting to hack into a Secretary of State’s private server (a server that Wired stated was a “Security Fail”), and along with the man who set up Clinton’s server pleading the Fifth, we’re nowhere near an ending to this saga. It could easily derail Clinton’s campaign.


I don’t write for Facebook likes, but that Huffington Post article is currently at 726,000 Facebook likes and on its way to 1 million.

Remember, we’re only talking about an article on Bernie Sanders, not a music video. Its popularity is a testament to an immense undercurrent of nationwide support ignored by media and pundits. Only Bernie Sanders could catapult an article on politics to almost 1 million Facebook likes.

On June 29, 2015, Clinton still enjoyed an enormous 58.4% advantage, while Sanders had surged to a whopping 15.9%. On that day, I wrote a piece titled Why Bernie Sanders Will Become the Democratic Nominee and Defeat Any Republican in 2016. The article quickly surged to 157,000 Facebook likes.

On July 6, 2015, Clinton still had a gigantic 57.8% advantage, while Sanders had increased only to 16.8%. Two days later, I wrote a piece in The Hill titled Sanders’s integrity and honesty worth more than Clinton’s billions. It garnered 114,000 Facebook Likes.

No, I don’t write for Facebook Likes, and some of my better writing hasn’t even been noticed by readers. One of my best articles is titled Dick Cheney’s 1994 Gulf War Interview Proves Why Jeb Bush Can’t Blame Obama or Intelligence Failures that earned only 103 likes and one comment. The article did result, however, in a Ring of Fire appearance explaining how Dick Cheney destabilized the Middle East.

This “Facebook likes” methodology is highly compelling, but I’m afraid I’m going to need more data from college straw polls before I’ll be fully convinced.

To go higher on the web publishing food chain, get a load of this #Slatepitch. You might be tempted to click and see if the article is better than its transparently idiotic and offensive headline. Trust me: it’s not.

Why Treason in Defense of Slavery Monuments Matter

[ 47 ] January 15, 2016 |


Every now and again, someone wonders why I care so much about monuments to those who committed treason in defense of slavery 150 years ago. The answer is of course that those monuments are actually monuments to white supremacy and influence racists today, including Dylann Roof when he shot up Denmark Vesey’s church. Now that New Orleans is seeking to take down several monuments that reinforced white supremacy, a number of white people are going ballistic, going to show just how much these things really do matter. Jarvis DeBerry for the Times-Picayune

If the monuments weren’t a big deal, tens of thousands of people (the overwhelming majority of whom don’t live in the city) would not have signed a petition to keep them standing.

If the monuments weren’t significant, there wouldn’t have been people who drove from great distances to stand outside City Hall and wave Confederate battle flags in protest.

If the monuments didn’t really matter, there wouldn’t have been standing-room-only crowds in the City Council chambers when an ordinance to remove the monuments was being discussed.

If the monuments were nothing more than a meaningless part of our cityscape, then the contractor who has been hired to eventually remove them wouldn’t be fielding death threats or threats from other business owners to never work with that contractor again.

But city officials said in federal court Thursday morning that that is what has happened. An attorney for H&O Investments of Baton Rouge says his client has withdrawn from the job because the lives of the company’s employees have been threatened and other businesses have threatened to cancel their contracts with the company.

Somebody’s dialing in death threats because a statue to Robert E. Lee might fall? Other business owners are saying we can’t be your friend anymore because you’re removing Jefferson Davis from his pedestal?

Exactly when did these monuments start mattering to so many people?

The answer, obviously, is that they have always mattered. They were a big deal when they were erected. They’re a big deal now. And at now point in the meantime has their presence been insignificant.

Monuments to Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis are the American equivalent of monuments placed up after the fact to Nazis and Soviet leaders. They represent power intended to oppress others. Naturally the oppressors don’t like their symbols coming down. They never do. It is indeed our duty to take these monuments down.

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