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Comey, Lynch and Clinton

[ 91 ] April 26, 2017 |

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The big Times story on the Comey coup d’etat contains this striking detail:

Ms. Lynch understood Mr. Comey’s predicament, but not his hurry. In a series of phone calls, her aides told Mr. Comey’s deputies that there was no need to tell Congress anything until agents knew what the emails contained.

Either Ms. Lynch or Ms. Yates could have ordered Mr. Comey not to send the letter, but their aides argued against it. If Ms. Lynch issued the order and Mr. Comey obeyed, she risked the same fate that Mr. Comey feared: accusations of political interference and favoritism by a Democratic attorney general.

If Mr. Comey disregarded her order and sent the letter — a real possibility, her aides thought — it would be an act of insubordination that would force her to consider firing him, aggravating the situation.

This further convinces me that there was nothing Lynch could have done at the time to prevent Comey’s election-tampering. He may well have refused a direct order, and even if he nominally followed it word of the investigation definitely would have leaked out only with an additional “what is Lynch trying to hide?” angle, which would have been even worse.

Lynch did screw up earlier, however, although I primarily blame Bill Clinton:

In late June, Ms. Lynch’s plane touched down at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport as part of her nationwide tour of police departments. Former President Bill Clinton was also in Phoenix that day, leaving from the same tarmac.

Ms. Lynch’s staff loaded into vans, leaving the attorney general and her husband on board. Mr. Clinton’s Secret Service agents mingled with her security team. When the former president learned who was on the plane, his aides say, he asked to say hello.

Mr. Clinton’s aides say he intended only to greet Ms. Lynch as she disembarked. But Ms. Lynch later told colleagues that the message she received — relayed from one security team to another — was that Mr. Clinton wanted to come aboard, and she agreed.

When Ms. Lynch’s staff members noticed Mr. Clinton boarding the plane, a press aide hurriedly called the Justice Department’s communications director, Melanie Newman, who said to break up the meeting immediately. A staff member rushed to stop it, but by the time the conversation ended, Mr. Clinton had been on the plane for about 20 minutes.

The meeting made the local news the next day and was soon the talk of Washington. Ms. Lynch said they had only exchanged pleasantries about golf and grandchildren, but Republicans called for her to recuse herself and appoint a special prosecutor.

Ms. Lynch said she would not step aside but would accept whatever career prosecutors and the F.B.I. recommended on the Clinton case — something she had planned to do all along.

Mr. Comey never suggested that she recuse herself. But at that moment, he knew for sure that when there was something to say about the case, he alone would say it.

It’s telling that Lynch’s staff realized immediately what a terrible idea the meeting was. Lynch should have refused, but she was in an awkward spot. What Clinton was thinking, I can’t begin to imagine, but it was an astonishingly stupid thing to do under the circumstances.

It’s very possible that this blunder was not ultimately consequential. I think Comey’s inappropriate “extremely careless” editorializing was inevitable, and it’s very possible he would have sent the letter that blew up the world no matter what. But Comey is a partisan who is strongly convinced that he is the only Nonpartisan Man of Integrity left (and is also still able to convince credulous reporters that he’s free of partisan motives even as he consistently favors one side, but we’ll leave the for another post.) And as the story makes clear, he is therefore particularly offended when he believes other people have partisan motivations. It’s possible that his insubordinate decision to send the letter was motivated in substantial measure by the Clinton/Lynch meeting. And it was certainly a foolish, no-upside risk. It’s been obvious for a while that Bill Clinton has lost his fastball, but this has to be the worst example.

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Pre-existing conditions protections for the GOP, but not for thee

[ 42 ] April 26, 2017 |

Republicans: So cartoonishly evil that if one were to squirt turpentine, acetone and benzene on them, they’d melt.

The new Republican amendment, introduced Tuesday night, would allow states to waive out of Obamacare’s ban on pre-existing conditions. This means that insurers could once again, under certain circumstances, charge sick people higher premiums than healthy people.
[…]
Republican legislators liked this policy well enough to offer it in a new amendment. They do not, however, seem to like it enough to have it apply to themselves and their staff. A spokesperson for Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) who authored this amendment confirmed this was the case: members of Congress and their staff would get the guarantee of keeping these Obamacare regulations. Health law expert Tim Jost flagged me to this particular issue.

Mass Effect: Andromeda Brings Postcolonialism To A New Galaxy (Spoiler Free)

[ 113 ] April 26, 2017 |

Video games are here (they can be queer) and we need to get used to them making a cultural impact through interactive storytelling. I had played Sid Meier’s Civilization series all throughout my undergrad years, as any respectable International Relations student would, but it wasn’t until my 20’s that a roommate suggested I use their Xbox for a role-playing game.

So let me introduce you to the game that got me hooked and talk a little a bit about the way the latest installment is confronting postcolonialism through story development and casting.

The Mass Effect Trilogy Had A… Mass Effect

The original Mass Effect series was a huge critical and commercial success in the gaming industry. Made by the Canadian company Bioware, the third and final installment of the trilogy in 2012 had approximately 50% of it’s sales are in North America and 40% in Europe. Publisher Electronic Arts estimated that Mass Effect 3 sales were upward of $200 million in that same year.

Throwing a party with all your space friends.

Throwing a party with all your space friends.

As a role-playing game, story and characters are the main attraction of the game. The third-person combat is still important, but if the plot doesn’t resonate with the audience then most of the fun of combat vanishes. The story is largely affected by the player’s decisions in-game and is so integral to the Mass Effect experience that players became infuriated when they thought all their decisions had become nullified by the ending.

Bioware puts a lot of effort into character development and any visit into the fandom will reveal just how much audiences love them. The producers were able to attract highly visible talent like Martin Sheen, Freddie Prinze Jr.. Seth Green, Carrie Anne Moss, and Tricia Helfer and Michael Hogan of Battlestar Galactica fame to make characters even more lovable.

The company is generally aware of its particular appeal

The company is generally aware of its particular appeal

If you’re interested in the impact of gender, race, and sexual representation in the Mass Effect series there’s also plenty to mine. Particularly in the sex department. There is celebration and criticism aplenty. You might even want to check out my investigation of alien sex in fiction media here.

Beyond those messages of representation, however, let me point out that the big moral of the Mass Effect trilogy is that cooperation between different species is good. Specifically, cooperation that is embodied in an intergovernmental organization. Space United Nations. Space European Union. A clever Vice piece took the plot of Mass Effect and transposed it into the Brexit debate with a Remain slant.

 

 

 

Mass Effect: Andromeda, Galactic Civilization Reboot

For all the good bits about being governed by a multi-species galactic government, the Milky Way was far from perfect. There were enough discontents present to start pining for a whole new galaxy. In  Mass Effect: Andromeda you play a “Pathfinder”, a job that mixes exploration and colonial affairs. Sara/Scott Ryder was put into cryo-sleep between games one and two and traveled through dark space for 600 years to reach the Andromeda galaxy. Whatever happened in the Milky Way, its gone and totally irrelevant to your new story.

The kett. You know they're "bad" because their leader wears a cape in space.

The kett. You know they’re “bad” because their leader wears a cape in space.

The Andromeda Initiative is a private organization that set out to colonize a number of “golden worlds” in the Heleus cluster. The developers of the Initiative knew that they would likely come across new alien species in Heleus, and so in the beginning of the game you’re given a bit of background on protocols for First Contact. There is one alien species that will be hostile to you, a group of invaders called kett, and another native species that is not hostile but definitely skeptical, the angara.

The angara. You know they're "good" because they have blue plants.

The angara. You know they’re “good” because they have blue plants.

 

The angara live on a number of planets in the Heleus cluster but a generations long disastrous war with the kett and a natural disaster have destroyed their infrastructure and most of what they knew about their history. They are vulnerable, but you and your team from the Milky Way are not. Little details about first contact with natives in North America are dropped in side conversations where characters say that “this time will be different”.

And so you are presented with a series of choices throughout the game to see if you really will be different. Every action you take in fighting the kett and clearing the natural disaster, both threaten all of you equally, you must negotiate power with the angara. You can use them as serfs for your outposts and cannon fodder for your war, or you can make them equal partners in rebuilding both civilizations anew.

Africa: A Galaxy Far, Far Away

Jaal Ama Darav, straight ladies new #1 alien crush.

Jaal Ama Darav, straight ladies new #1 alien crush.

Even more curious are accents the creative directors chose to give the angara: products of British colonialism. North American accents are of course also a product of British colonialism, and everyone is speaking English, but they are largely the default in this game. British accents sometimes make an appearance and at least one alien race speaks universally with a created accent that sounds a little Slavic. However the angara are a mix of Australian, New Zealand, South African, and other African accents. The voice actor for your angaran squadmate, Nyasha Hatendi as Jaal, is British-American actor of Zimbabwean descent. Hatendi speaks normally with a British accent, but for Andromeda he (or the directors, or even both) chose an African accent. Perusing the names of other voice actors listed in the game, we see a number of other African names, though no specification on whether or not they played both angara or Milky Way species. You can take a look at the principal voice actors and their characters here.

A fan-made Javik meme, using his favorite word for the Milky Way species.

A fan-made Javik meme, using his favorite word for the Milky Way species.

This is the second time Bioware has included an African accent in their representation of an alien. The first was with the bonus character of Javik in Mass Effect 3. That voice actor, Ike Amadi (whose exact African ancestry I am unable to determine) speaks normally with an American accent but also put on an African accent to play an ancient “vengeful warrior”. I bristled a little bit at first, but then relaxed at the special sort of irony of Javik derisively referring to all the other species as “primitives”.

 

If somebody on the creative team put that in on purpose, then perhaps they also put a key exchange between Jaal and a curious human in there too. “We are not mystical others,” Jaal tells a (black) human Liam in a side conversation. It is a common thread in all their conversations, with Jaal trying to convince Liam that the angara are pretty much just like every other sentient species in the universe: diverse and often contradictory. Somebody on the team, perhaps even Nyasha Hatendi himself, had maybe been reading some Edward Said and/or Franz Fanon and it accidentally on purpose seeped in.

Edward Said is judging your alien crushes.

Edward Said is judging your alien crushes.

Although there is something to be said about constantly presenting African accents as exclusively alien. Certainly they give a Euro-American audience the connotation that this species is from far, far away. But does it reinforce the idea that Africans are “others”? Are Africans themselves not present in a spacefaring human society?

Shut Up And Take My Money

Andromeda, like any cultural product intended for the masses, is unlikely to go to deep into these issues. It has to stay simple in order to be understood by the widest possible audiences. But it seems clear that Bioware as a company wants to appeal to progressive values and critical race theorists, and that I think is a positive direction for media in a capitalist society.

Mass Effect: Andromeda is the first installment into what we can assume will be a multi-part story. The game debuted in March 2017 and Bioware is currently working on downloadable content (DLC) that will add new mini-adventures to the current game. Let’s keep an eye on what happens.

A Hive of Scum and Villainy

[ 55 ] April 26, 2017 |

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I mean, sure you would think that Jeffrey Loria would be the worst possible person to own the Marlins, barring Daniel Snyder wanting to break into baseball. But no! Evidently, no one can join the new Marlins ownership team without breaking into a special elite rich man’s douche club.

Former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter is part of a group led by ex-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush that has reached an agreement to purchase the Miami Marlins after submitting a bid of $1.3 billion, according to multiple media reports.

Jeter and Jeb! Was Henry Kissinger not available? Pat Buchanan too busy talking to white nationalist groups to get involved? Alex Rodriguez too busy worshiping portraits of himself? John Elway too involved in hanging out with the equine side of his family? At the very least, it would seem to serve Tom Brady’s trips to visit Herr Trump at Mar-a-Lago.

Still, one can assume Scott Walker was too lame and boring to get invited into this club, which at least says something for them. Can still root for the Marlins over the Brewers anyway.

Fresh mangoes, Whittier Law School edition

[ 57 ] April 25, 2017 |

The impending closure of a low-ranked California law school featuring cratering bar passage numbers, soaring graduate debt, and terrible employment outcomes seems to have driven friend of the blog Steve Diamond (a law professor at another low-ranked California law school featuring pretty much exactly the same things in a slightly less spectacular form) right over the edge.

Ever since Whittier’s central administration decided to pull the plug on their increasingly embarrassing law school, Diamond has been letting loose frankly unhinged-sounding tirades against anyone who dares to suggest that this just possibly might have been a justifiable decision, as opposed to a neoliberal Cato-funded crypto-racist conspiracy to . . . OK read it for yourselves, if you’re in the mood to get out of the boat:

Here, Dean of Northwestern Law School Dan Rodriguez makes the radical suggestion that people either criticizing or defending Whittier’s decision to close its law school might not yet have all the relevant information.  It turns out he’s a closet racist who hates Hispanic people like Dan Rodriguez, and is also engaged in a conspiracy to improve California’s bar passage rates, or something  (I confess I’m not paying super close attention, so maybe one or more of the stalwart LGM crew can explain the theory at work here. Be sure not to miss the comments!).

A couple or three data points, since we all love the data:

The average educational debt of 2016 Whittier law grads who had such debt (about 90%) was probably around $250,000.  (This figure is derived as follows: the average Whittier grad who took out law school loans took out $179,056 in such loans.  After accrued interest and fees this would equal about $210,000 when the first bill came due in November.  Average undergraduate debt these days at graduation is around $35,000, and interest also accrues on that when people are in law school.)

A grand total of 29 of Whittier’s 141 2015 graduates were known to be making $52,500 or more ten months after graduation.  38 of 141 had jobs as lawyers.

Given that only 22% of Whittier’s first-time takers of the California bar passed it in July, those numbers seem unlikely to improve for the latest graduating class.

Diamond’s statistics on lawyer salaries in Orange County are about as relevant to the question of whether it’s a good idea to go to Whittier as statistics regarding the salaries of tenured professors at UC-Irvine are to the question of whether it’s a good idea to enroll in a fifth-rate graduate program.

 

Too Much Winning

[ 35 ] April 25, 2017 |

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Trump and Sessions’ fascism once again halted by the courts.

A San Francisco judge barred enforcement of President Donald Trump’s executive order withholding funds from so-called sanctuary cities that fail to comply with federal immigration demands by shielding undocumented immigrants.

San Francisco and its Silicon Valley neighbor, Santa Clara County, on Tuesday both won preliminary injunctions blocking the Jan. 25 edict by Trump who declared sanctuary jurisdictions cause “immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our republic.” The city and county argued the president’s order violated the Constitution and threatened to deprive them of funding for local programs.

Of course given that Neil “Murderer of Disabled Black Arkansas Prisoners” Gorsuch is now on the Supreme Court, I don’t know how optimistic I am in the long term, but all this seriously slows down the horror of Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III and his attempt to impose the race relations of 1931 on the entire country.

Chris Cillizza – a study in contrasts

[ 80 ] April 25, 2017 |
West Coast Weather Vanes - Godzilla Weather Vane (you know you want one).

Godzilla Weather Vane by West Coast Weather Vanes (you know you want one).

Yesterday.

Today. (Thanks to commentariat Stepped Pyramids for sharing.)

In defense of Ivanka Trump after she was hissed at in Germany

[…]

But, it’s important to remember that Ivanka is, first and foremost, her father’s daughter. As such, she is going to defend him — as would almost every daughter in any situation in which her dad is under attack. And, whatever you think of the Trumps, it’s beyond debate that they are a very close-knit family who always sticks together.

Some restrictions apply. Offer not valid for wives and/or children tRump doesn’t want.

Then there is the fact that Ivanka Trump spent the entire campaign insisting that she had seen her father up close more than any of his critics and knew for a fact that he was committed to workplace equality and to helping women thrive. To walk away from that view would be to abandon what she spent the last 18 months telling us about her dad based on her own firsthand experiences.

White House advisor I. Trump is so unprofessional that she will reflexively defend her horrible, disgusting boss because he happens to be her dad, no matter how horrible and disgusting he might be. However, she knows him well and her defense of him is based on facts, so people should trust her judgement.

Or something. Whatever it is, it can’t be that White House officials defend their bosses because that’s part of their job. And they may catch some flack from the public as a result. Especially if their boss is a festering choad. There’s no room for Cillizza to engage in condescending, schmaltzy hand wringing about filial duty if one takes that view.

And anyway, time for another logical fallacy!

You can hate Donald Trump’s views on and treatment of women — and lots of people do! But, to expect Ivanka Trump to publicly condemn her father or his record on women’s issues is a bridge too far.

(e_e)

No one said anything about her publicly condemning him, either. Really, I’m surprised CNN waited so long to hire this doofus.

Donald Trump: Truly a Man Who Loves the Working Class

[ 23 ] April 25, 2017 |

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The building trades getting into bed with Trump sure is paying off!

President Donald Trump, who assured labor leaders earlier this month that they will “always find an open door” at his White House, is close to nominating a bona fide union-buster for one of two open seats on the NLRB, POLITICO’s Mel Leonor reports. Doug Seaton, a Minnesota “lawyer for employers,” is one of three candidates on the administration’s shortlist to fill two empty positions on the labor board.

“Starting with Ronald Reagan,” Leonor writes, “Republican presidents have often named stridently anti-union executives and attorneys to the NLRB. But labor and management sources queried by POLITICO couldn’t remember a previous instance when a president placed on the NLRB a ‘union avoidance’ consultant or ‘persuader,’ an occupation known colloquially as union-buster. The Labor Department requires union-busters to disclose their anti-union campaigns publicly. Seaton has done so on six occasions, most recently in May 2016.” At the moment Seaton’s leading a seventh persuasion campaign to decertify the Service Employees International Union from representing Minnesota’s 27,000 home health care workers.

Unions are none too pleased that a union-buster may soon sit on the labor board. ‘That is way out of line,” said Larry Cohen, former president of the Communications Workers of America. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said in a written statement that Seaton’s nomination “would be the latest example of Trump turning his back on workers.” Seaton “has spent his professional career fighting workers’ effort to join unions and gain a voice on the job,” she said. “He has no place on a board whose sole mission is to empower and protect working people.” (The preamble to the 1935 National Labor Relations Act, which created the NLRB, commits the United States to “encouraging the practice and procedure of collective bargaining.”)

Joe Schmitt, a management-side lawyer in Minnesota who worked with Seaton in the 1990s, told Leonor, “I’m on the same side as Doug, but he is one of the most extreme management-side lawyers I know. I’m not a big fan of unions, but Doug is much less of a fan.” For his part, Seaton rejects the label “union-buster.” Unions often “fudge” and “misrepresent” what unionization is, he said. “We are simply brought in to explain. There’s always another side to the story. Here it is.” A White House spokesman told Leonor:“We don’t comment on personnel issues.”

I’ve written on the problems of an increasingly partisan NLRB before. If Trump chooses this individual, it will be another major step, but one that probably any Republican would make at this point. I don’t think President Cruz or President Walker would be any different on these issues. It’s a reminder that the problems we face are about 20% Trump, 80% a fireeating Republican Party that just doesn’t care anymore.

That’s why he’s had so many of them

[ 108 ] April 25, 2017 |

The jokes write themselves, again.

Ivanka Trump was booed at a panel in Germany on Tuesday when she described her father, President Donald Trump, as a “tremendous champion of supporting families.”

Tough crowd, and ze feel good buzzwords, zey do nothing!

“The German audience is not that familiar with the concept of a first daughter. I’d like to ask you, what is your role, and who are you representing, your father as president of the United States, the American people, or your business?” pointedly asked Miriam Meckel, serving editor-in-chief of German newspaper WirtschaftsWoche, in her opening question.

“Certainly not the latter, I’m rather unfamiliar with this role as well,” Ivanka Trump responded, apparently taken off-guard. Trump went on to describe her own aspiration to influence “positive change” through her new role as a presidential adviser, proceeding to affirm what she called her father’s “advocacy.”

As the crowd hissed in reaction, Meckel proceeded to roast Trump on the president’s attitudes and his conduct toward women. President Trump has been accused of sexual harassment by multiple women and was infamously caught on tape bragging about groping women with impunity. However, Ivanka Trump continued to defend her father, even as the audience laughed.

Her defense was the standard Relative/friend of the suspect defense.

I’ve certainly heard the criticism from the media, and that’s been perpetuated,” she continued. “As a daughter, I can speak on a very personal level. I grew up in a house where there was no barriers to what I could accomplish beyond my own perseverance and tenacity. That’s not an easy thing to do, he provided that for us.”

So if a woman or girl doesn’t want tRumpledthinskin to insult or assault her, all she needs to do is make sure she’s his daughter named Ivanka. Hop to it you slackeresses!

How the GOP Made the ACA Popular

[ 101 ] April 25, 2017 |

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There are two fundamental paradoxes that created political problems for the Affordable Care Act. The first is that while as a whole the American health care system as a whole is horribly inefficient and inequitable, large numbers of politically important people (most notably, people with Medicare and good employer-provided insurance) are personally happy with the status quo. The second is that the individual components of the ACA were mostly very popular even though the law itself was not.

Republican efforts to repeal the ACA have, however, completely transformed the debate:

As President Donald Trump and the Republicans in Congress gear up for another attempt at repealing and replacing Obamacare, an ABC News/Washington Post poll finds broad public preference for keeping and improving it — including high levels of support for some of its key components.

Just 37 percent of Americans in the national survey say Obamacare should be repealed and replaced; 61 percent say it should be kept and fixed instead. Even more broadly, the public by 79-13 percent says Trump should seek to make the current law work as well as possible, not to make it fail as soon as possible, a strategy he’s suggested.

Both the status quo bias that makes any major change to health care laws enormously difficult and the popularity of the ACA’s components are now working in the law’s favor, and will make the specific Republican proposals even less popular than repeal in the abstract. I would make an Overton Window joke only the Republicans didn’t. even. try. to sell their real alternative (health care rationed by the glories of the Free Market) because it’s massively unpopular, and cynically attacked the ACA from the left instead. With a Republican in the White House the shell game doesn’t work.

Elite Liberals Need A Higher Standard

[ 459 ] April 25, 2017 |
Lloyd Blankfein, left, Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, is greeted by Hillary Rodham Clinton, former Secretary of State, for a panel discussion, "Equality for Girls and Women: 2034 Instead of 2134?" at the Clinton Global Initiative, Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014 in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Lloyd Blankfein, left, Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, is greeted by Hillary Rodham Clinton, former Secretary of State, for a panel discussion, “Equality for Girls and Women: 2034 Instead of 2134?” at the Clinton Global Initiative, Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014 in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

This is an excellent point:

Former President Barack Obama’s decision to accept a $400,000 fee to speak at a health care conference organized by the bond firm Cantor Fitzgerald is easily understood. That’s so much cash, for so little work, that it would be extraordinarily difficult for anyone to turn it down. And the precedent established by former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, to say nothing of former Federal Reserve Chairs Ben Bernanke and Alan Greenspan and a slew of other high-ranking former officials, is that there is nothing wrong with taking the money.

Indeed, to not take the money might be a problem for someone in Obama’s position. It would set a precedent.

Obama would be suggesting that for an economically comfortable high-ranking former government official to be out there doing paid speaking gigs would be corrupt, sleazy, or both. He’d be looking down his nose at the other corrupt, sleazy former high-ranking government officials and making enemies.

Which is exactly why he should have turned down the gig.

The election in France earlier this week shows that the triumph of populist demagogues is far from inevitable. But to beat it, mainstream politicians and institutions need to shape up — not just with better policies, but with the kind of self-sacrificing spirit and moral leadership that successful movements require.

Someone in Obama’s position can’t really rely on a “hate the game, not the players” defense with respect to America’s underachieving and overcompensated elites showering many times the country’s median income on each other to deliver platitudes, because he can work to discredit the game.

I’m not sure I buy Matt’s subsequent argument that Clinton’s buckraking was crucial to her being unable to translate Obama’s popularity into an Electoral College win. The media did not press the issue during the general — although it’s a much more legitimate line of attack on Clinton than her email server management — not least because many elite journos are either on the speaking fee gravy train or hope to be. But who knows in an election this close, and more to the point no matter how politically damaging it is it’s just wrong. In a time in which ordinary workers have faced austerity for a long time, already-rich people showering each other with huge sums of money to deliver speeches to captive audiences, put their names on college syllabi, etc. is gross. Obama is in a position to set a new precedent for liberal elites, and he should.

Heritage, Not Hate, AmIRight?

[ 222 ] April 25, 2017 |

DRC_ConfederateMonument_2

The neo-Confederates are outraged that New Orleans is being meant to poor ol’ white Southerners who bask in the glory of 4 years of treason and hundreds of years of racial repression on both sides of that treason. Here’s a Republican candidate for governor from Virginia.

I wonder if I can think of anything worse? Wait, here’s something:

My name is Wesley Norris; I was born a slave on the plantation of George Parke Custis; after the death of Mr. Custis, Gen. Lee, who had been made executor of the estate, assumed control of the slaves, in number about seventy; it was the general impression among the slaves of Mr. Custis that on his death they should be forever free; in fact this statement had been made to them by Mr. C. years before; at his death we were informed by Gen. Lee that by the conditions of the will we must remain slaves for five years; I remained with Gen. Lee for about seventeen months, when my sister Mary, a cousin of ours, and I determined to run away, which we did in the year 1859; we had already reached Westminster, in Maryland, on our way to the North, when we were apprehended and thrown into prison, and Gen. Lee notified of our arrest; we remained in prison fifteen days, when we were sent back to Arlington; we were immediately taken before Gen. Lee, who demanded the reason why we ran away; we frankly told him that we considered ourselves free; he then told us he would teach us a lesson we never would forget; he then ordered us to the barn, where, in his presence, we were tied firmly to posts by a Mr. Gwin, our overseer, who was ordered by Gen. Lee to strip us to the waist and give us fifty lashes each, excepting my sister, who received but twenty; we were accordingly stripped to the skin by the overseer, who, however, had sufficient humanity to decline whipping us; accordingly Dick Williams, a county constable, was called in, who gave us the number of lashes ordered; Gen. Lee, in the meantime, stood by, and frequently enjoined Williams to “lay it on well,” an injunction which he did not fail to heed; not satisfied with simply lacerating our naked flesh, Gen. Lee then ordered the overseer to thoroughly wash our backs with brine, which was done. After this my cousin and myself were sent to Hanover Court-House jail, my sister being sent to Richmond to an agent to be hired; we remained in jail about a week, when we were sent to Nelson county, where we were hired out by Gen. Lee’s agent to work on the Orange and Alexander railroad; we remained thus employed for about seven months, and were then sent to Alabama, and put to work on what is known as the Northeastern railroad; in January, 1863, we were sent to Richmond, from which place I finally made my escape through the rebel lines to freedom; I have nothing further to say; what I have stated is true in every particular, and I can at any time bring at least a dozen witnesses, both white and black, to substantiate my statements: I am at present employed by the Government; and am at work in the National Cemetary on Arlington Heights, where I can be found by those who desire further particulars; my sister referred to is at present employed by the French Minister at Washington, and will confirm my statement.

Here’s another, with Kevin Kruse eviscerating this person.

It’s amazing that this is still up for debate today, as all you have to do is read the secession declarations from the various southern states. Or really anything written by the white South at all between 1860 and April 1865 to know that it was entirely about slavery.

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