Sunday Cartoon Blogging – June 28, 2015

There will be limited blogging for the next seven days, as the Wrongologist and Ms. Right head to Bermuda.

It was an epic news week, from the killings in Charleston to the ACA decision by the Supreme Court, 6-3, in which Antonin Scalia wrote the 21 page dissent. Then came the Marriage Equality decision. Antonin Scalia wrote another dissent, starting with:

I write separately to call attention to this Court’s threat to American democracy

Here is the Cliff notes version of both Scalia dissents: “I stole the 2000 election for this”??

They shot and missed:

Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press
Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press

Republicans secretly happy about SCOTUS decision on ACA:

COW Replacement Plan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marriage equality decision not popular with everyone:

COW Rainbows

And the Supremes said, “Let them eat cake”:

COW Cake

The big change on the Confederate flag doesn’t change much:

Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press
Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press

What the Flag means:

COW Flag Means

 

 

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Symbolism Weakened in South Carolina

On Monday, South Carolina’s governor Nikki Haley announced a plan to remove the Confederate battle flag from the grounds of the SC state house. That got many Republican presidential candidates off the hook after a weekend in which most delivered waffles about the subject.

But, everything you need to know about the conservative Republican position on the Confederate flag in 2015 was summed up by Bill Kristol on the very same day:

Bill Kristol tweet

OK. Time to talk about history. The South seceded, and then fought a war to preserve slavery. It was not a war of Northern aggression. It was a war of Confederate choice, and the choice was made first by South Carolinians, who were the first to announce their secession.

SC’s Declaration of Causes of Secession was issued on December 20, 1860, after the election, but three months before Abraham Lincoln took the oath of office. If you choose to read at the link, you’ll see the entirety of their complaint had to do with slavery. They were angry:

• That slaves were escaping from their territory and Northern States were refusing to send them back
• That blacks had been granted citizenship in some Northern states
• That the election of Lincoln would lead to slavery’s exclusion from the new territories

Here is a snippet: (emphasis by the Wrongologist)

A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the Common Government, because he has declared that that “Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free,” and that the public mind must rest in the belief that Slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction.

Lincoln was explicit during the early years of the war that he fought back, not for slavery, but to preserve the union. Today, some modern “confederates” use those quotes from Lincoln to argue that the war wasn’t about slavery, but that is revisionist history.

The people who started the war, in every confederate state, were explicitly doing so to preserve slavery. Read the other secession statements. Read the speeches of leading confederate politicians. Read the founding CSA documents, in which the CSA states were free to do anything they wanted except end slavery. In fact it’s clear that the main purpose of even having a confederation was to preserve slavery.

The Confederate flag was basically forgotten after the civil war until the civil rights movement when the battle flag was resurrected by those in the south who were against the federal laws prohibiting lynching, segregation, and vote blocking. In other words, that flag has been used only by those promoting white supremacy. Heritage? Of course, but for a flag that represents something that existed for four years?

The flag is just a start. Why are there Civil War reenactments in the South? Battle field reenactments where they honor their defeat of the north, focused on battles they won in a war that they lost. Imagine if Mexican Americans had an Alamo reenactment where they storm the Alamo and kill Davy Crockett.

Taking down the Confederate flag over the South Carolina Capitol, along with Walmart and EBay stopping sales of the flag, and the number one Confederate flag manufacturer ending production are all important steps, but they are the just a few steps on a long road.

The next big question is will country music follow the lead of Governor Haley and distance itself from the Confederate flag? The rebel flag is deeply interwoven into country and southern rock music, that relationship is both deep and wide.

This stuff is symbolic, and a very important symbol is being phased out.

This is meaningful.

See you on Sunday.

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A Civil War Meditation

May 9th was the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War. It passed unnoticed in most national media. Despite Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, America’s black citizens were not truly free until MLK made us really see their problems during the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s. In 1965, the 100th anniversary of the Civil War, the Voting Rights Act was passed.

The Voting Rights Act, along with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, were the largest step forward for equal rights in our nation’s history, certainly more important than the Emancipation Proclamation.

We are fascinated by the Civil War because it is an epic story. The American Republic was founded in 1789, and the nation only lives 72 years with slavery before it is torn apart by the argument over states’ rights, and the right to own slaves. We go on to fight a war that kills some 750,000 people, (equal to 7 million today). We then free 3.5 million people overnight, and then take years to try to put the country back together. Today, about 1 in 3 Americans can trace an ancestor to one side or the other in the Civil War. That adds up to about 100 million of our population who are remotely connected to the war.

What is sometimes lost in the story is that Lincoln, a Republican, introduced big government to America. At the start of the war, the country had a weak central government. Lincoln built the centralized state. Consider what Lincoln created:

• The first national income tax
• The first military draft
• The Quartermaster Corps, which became the 2nd largest employer in the country during the war, behind only the Union Army
• The largest confiscation of property in US history when he emancipated the slaves. Slave owners in the South lost $3.5 billion of net worth in the process
• A re-imagining of the US Constitution, passing the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, ending slavery, formalizing birthright citizenship, creating black male suffrage, and guaranteeing equal protection under the law. It can be said that these Amendments were a second American revolution.

Conservatives ask: “Where did big government come from?” It was invented by Lincoln, a Republican, to win the Civil War. If the Civil War ended with Constitutional Amendments that can be called a 2nd American Revolution, perhaps the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts of the mid-1960’s was yet a 3rd American Revolution. And there may be other “revolutions” to come.

Yale University Professor of Civil War History, David Blight wrote in The Atlantic that the nation has never truly gotten over that conflict. He says that the great issues of the war were not resolved at Appomattox, and in a sense, not only is the Civil War not over, it can still be lost.

When we think about the legacy of the Civil War, one of the issues that we have re-visited since the Reagan era is the revival of a debate about states’ rights and the place of federalism in our Republic. This is a persistent legacy of the Civil War, the issue of state power versus federal power: does America owe its first loyalty to the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, that says the Constitution, federal statutes, and treaties are “the supreme law of the land?” Or does the 10th Amendment come first, which states that the federal government possesses only those powers delegated to it under the Constitution?

Professor Blight says that the question we have to ask the states’ rights supporters is: “states’ rights to do what?” Or, “for whom and against whom?”

During the Civil War, the states’ rights argument was used to preserve the racial order in the South. Today, the states’ rights debate is hidden in the term “limited government”, versus the right’s categorization of “big government”.

Lately, conservative partisans have brought back “nullification”, but couched in near-Orwellian terms, such as “right to work,” or, “religious freedom.” We have 36 state legislatures controlled by Republicans that are trying to eliminate abortions, remove environmental protections, enhance gun rights, and privatize education, all of which need a weaker federal government to succeed.

And every time a politician of the South says she/he is “standing on principle” and pledges “a return to our founding principles of limited government and local control,” our progress from the time of the Emancipation Proclamation, through the New Deal reforms, to the 1960’s Civil Rights acts are again threatened.

50 years after the Voting Rights Act, we are finally aware that there are millions of Americans who have never fully accepted the verdict of Appomattox.

As Professor Blight said this week in a BBC lecture, as long as we continue to debate states’ rights, and as long as we continue to leave the “problem” of racism unresolved, we will need to study our Civil War.

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – May 10, 2015

The Republicans seem to have a bumper crop of presidential candidates. We can expect about 20 Republican candidates to announce before the running really starts. While it raises talk about the “Clown Car”, it also shows the strength of the Republican’s “bench.” Republicans have multiple governors and senators who could run a credible campaign in the presidential election. Contrast this with the Democratic Party. Who has what it takes to challenge Hillary Clinton’s position for the Democratic nominee?
COW Hillary Coronation

It’s partly the strength of Hillary’s resume, but the Democrats have no viable alternatives. If Ms. Clinton stumbles, the Democrats would be stuck trying to win with Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, or Jim Webb. This is indicative of a huge problem for Democrats: It has no bench. Consider this:

• Before the 2010 election, the Democrats controlled 61 of the 99 state legislative bodies in the US. By the end of the 2012 election cycle, they controlled 36; today, they control 30.
• The number of Democrats in the House dropped from 257 in mid-2010 to 201 after the 2012 election. Now, that number stands at 188.

And they are counting on older, war horse candidates for open Senate seats in 2016: Their nominee in Ohio will be Ted Strickland, who will be 75 by the 2016 election. In Pennsylvania, Democrats will likely go for former Governor Ed Rendell, or former Representative Joe Sestak. In Wisconsin, Democrats will probably look to former Senator Russ Feingold, and in New Hampshire, current Governor Maggie Hassan is the top choice.

Only in Florida and Illinois, where Reps. Patrick Murphy and Tammy Duckworth are slated for Senate nominations, are younger incumbents likely to move up.

A party with a strong, young bench in each state is like a basketball team with lots of young talent; they may not be all that good yet, but everyone knows they will be at some point. This void threatens to limit the Democrats in the not-too-distant future, and needs to be remedied quickly, or the party will be in a minority position for a very long time.

Contrast with Republicans:

COW GOP Candidates

Jade Helm brought out the best in Texas:

COW Jade Helm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Deflate Gate” came back to haunt the Patriots:

COW Game Balls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tom Brady’s homoerotic moment:

COW Brady

In Great Britain’s election, the Scots declare independence from England, and England from Europe:

COW UK Election

Britons vote after six weeks of campaigning. That’s only 42 days for the pundits to make their dough. The NY Times reports that in the UK, each party is limited to spending $29.5 million in the year before the election.

All TV channels are required by law to give the main parties and their leaders carefully measured free time at peak viewing hours to state their cases. Paid TV advertisements are forbidden. And on election day, television and radio shows are forbidden from discussing campaign issues, talking about polls or dissecting individual candidates until the polls close at 10 pm.

Let’s try it, America!

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Thirty Years of Wrong

Everyone probably knows about Jade Helm 15. It is a two-month operation by the Pentagon in which Special Forces from four branches of the military will carry out simulated operations amid territory designated as “hostile” in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado.

US Army Special Operations Command said that simulated exercises like this are routine. They also said that the public wouldn’t experience any disruption in their day-to-day lives, since the entire operation takes place in remote areas.

But, many Texans have expressed both suspicion and opposition to the project. Some claim it’s an attempt to institute martial law. Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz told Texans that he is on it: (emphasis by the Wrongologist)

My office has reached out to the Pentagon to inquire about this exercise…We are assured it is a military training exercise. I have no reason to doubt those assurances, but I understand the reason for concern and uncertainty, because when the federal government has not demonstrated itself to be trustworthy in this administration, the natural consequence is that many citizens don’t trust what it is saying.

And Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) called up the Texas Guard (one of three of Texas’ quasi-military groups), ordering them to “monitor” the Special Forces troops during their eight weeks of training.

Abbott seems to think his weekend warriors will accomplish…what? Then again, if you’re convinced that Jade Helm 15 is a false-flag operation designed to distract you while The Black Guy in the White House and his evil Muslim overlords plot a takeover of Texas, nothing will convince you otherwise.

It can be exceedingly difficult to discern where the parody ends and the serious conspiracy theories begin. Here is a claim from The Common Sense Show:

You see, there are these Wal-Marts in West Texas that supposedly closed for six months for ‘renovation’. That’s what they want you to believe. The truth is these Wal-Marts are going to be military guerrilla-warfare staging areas and FEMA processing camps for political prisoners.

How do you reason with people gripped with an ironclad conviction that all of the above is true, and that those who can’t see it, are dupes under the influence of Obama, Rachel Maddow, and George Soros?

Texas isn’t a barometer of much, except perhaps the price of oil pipe for fracking. Illegal immigration is going down. The number of Mexican-Americans in the voting population is going up. Rick Perry is still learning to count to three, and Ted Cruz, a graduate of Princeton and Harvard Law School, certainly knows which way is up. Apparently, he is more a deeply cynical man than a deranged one. Either way, he’s unfit for public office.

This false issue and the Republican response to it, is another example of Neo-Fascism in America. In this case, it is billionaires aligned with corrupt Republican politicians. They have an organization, ALEC, that drafts and shares model state-level legislation among state governments in the US. They have purchased state and federal legislators to do their bidding. Fascism doesn’t say, “We hate you!” It says, “Those guys over there hate you. They’re out to get you. Luckily, we’ve come to help you”.

This is the price we are paying for false equivalence by the media, which was popularized starting in 1982 with CNN’s Crossfire. It’s the same thing you get if you allow children to engage in anything their little heart desires: What do you get when there are no negative consequences for despicable actions, including bigotry, or in-your-face political ham-handedness?

You get a situation that is out of control, as it has been in the past 30 years.

Today’s conservatives/Republicans/libertarians are grown-up delinquents who have figured out that there is no bed time, no chores, no tests to take, and no need to eat their vegetables of responsibility.

The continuing assertion by the GOP that the President is behaving illegally, or that his orders should be ignored, is contributing to public distrust. Since our laws flow from the Constitution, it’s particularly annoying that those that claim to love it the most are directly attacking it with claims like this.

We are surfing down a very slippery slope. Right-wing politicians win elections by demonizing the government. They are now addicted to it. Like other addicts, they have to keep upping the dosage to get the same effect.

Unfortunately, they’re into serious overdose territory now.

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RIP Guy Carawan

Unless you were around for the folk revival era in the late 1950’s − early 1960’s, you probably don’t know who Guy Carawan was. He co-wrote and popularized the protest song “We Shall Overcome” in the American Civil Rights Movement by teaching it to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1960. He just died at the age of 87.

Wrongo has written about the genealogy of this song:

The story behind the story of We shall Overcome is that the song is based on the early hymn “U Sanctissima.” Charles Albert Tindley, a minister in Philadelphia, added new words in 1901 and called his new hymn “I’ll Overcome Some Day.” In the ensuing decades, the song became a favorite at black churches throughout the American south, often sung as “I Will Overcome.” Eventually, the song was brought to a workshop at the Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, TN. The school’s cultural director was Zilphia Horton. Pete Seeger visited the school and changed “We will overcome” to “We shall overcome.” Guy Carawan, a great folk artist who plays the hammer dulcimer, was then a music director at the Highlander School. He introduced it to civil rights activists during a Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) meeting in 1960. Frank Hamilton was in Seeger’s band.

The song’s copyright includes Zilphia Horton, Frank Hamilton, Pete Seeger and Guy Carawan, but omits Charles A. Tindley.

Carawan lived in California at the beginning of the folk revival movement, but ended up at Highlander, a place famous for its role in left-wing southern organizing in the 20th century. Few know that Rosa Parks had already trained at Highlander on civil rights issues before refusing to move to the back of the bus which led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Martin Luther King had visited Highlander as well.

In 2013, NPR’s Noah Adams had a piece about Carawan and the song. Apparently, Carawan heard the song in the early 1950’s when he was finishing graduate work in sociology at UCLA and doing some singing on the side. He also learned about the Highlander Center, and eventually that’s where he spent most of the rest of his life. He told a history of the song:

I first heard this song from a friend of mine, Frank Hamilton. He taught me this song, and he also had put some chords to it [on guitar]…When I came to Highlander in 1959, Zilphia Horton had died, and I had some singing and musical skills and they needed somebody there. So by the time I came to Highlander, I was playing it with the guitar…

Today, few people sing at civil protests. Somehow, outside of concerts and church, we have lost an understanding of the power of shared singing, of unrestrained sincerity, and the strength it provides to the group.

But its power was important to Dr. King. Here is what he said about the song on March 31, 1968, just days before his death:

There’s a little song that we sing in our movement down in the South. I don’t know if you’ve heard it…You know, I’ve joined hands so often with students and others behind jail bars singing it: ‘We shall overcome.’ Sometimes we’ve had tears in our eyes when we joined together to sing it, but we still decided to sing it: ‘We shall overcome.’ Oh, before this victory’s won, some will have to get thrown in jail some more, but we shall overcome.

One difference between the civil rights movement, which resulted in political change, and the Vietnam demonstrations which did not, was the power of churches working together with students, singing a song that reflected the struggle. Regardless of whether it was sung by Mahalia Jackson, the earnest Carawan, Pete Seeger, or simply kids carrying signs, it had a power to inspire.

A successful movement also required a charismatic leader like Martin Luther King, Jr. who could tell a story, and take America on the journey with him.

Guy Carawan isn’t well known today, but he was really important to the civil rights movement of the 1960s, and he will be missed. Here is Guy Carawan singing “We Shall Overcome”:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tftdes9dp-A

For those who read the Wrongologist in email, you can view the video here.

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – April 26, 2015

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether same-sex marriage bans are constitutional. Gay marriage is currently legal in 36 states. And, by the end of this Supreme Court term in June, same-sex couples will either be able to wed in all 50 states, or gay marriage bans may be restored in many states where they’ve been struck down.

Opponents of same-sex marriage shouldn’t worry, because Rep. Steve King (R-IA), the Pride of Iowa, has their backs. He proposed legislation to strip federal courts of the ability to make any ruling on marriage. His “Restrain the Judges on Marriage Act of 2015” would, if enacted, strip federal courts of jurisdiction in all cases related to marriage. The bill would leave the issue solely to State courts. Mr. King released this statement along with his bill:

For too long, federal courts have overstepped their constitutionally limited duty to interpret the Constitution. Rather, federal courts have perverted the Constitution to make law and create constitutional rights to things such as privacy, birth control, and abortion. These un-enumerated, so-called constitutionally-protected rights were not envisioned by our Founding Fathers.

He isn’t alone with the “my religion is supreme” arguments:

Mike Huckabee warns gay rights will outlaw Christianity: Because God-fearing Americans know that the gayz will destroy traditional marriage and Christianity. Is THAT what you want, America?

Anti-Gay Activists: We Are Prepared to Die to Fight Gay Marriage ‘Slavery: E.W. Jackson, the 2013 Republican nominee for lieutenant governor of Virginia said this at the National Press Club. Maybe dead anti-gay activists is not such a bad idea.

Iowa GOP official says Christians should enjoy special rights: No, Steve King didn’t say this, it was Tamara Scott, a Republican National Committeewoman. She conceded that Muslims had First Amendment rights, but she said Christianity should be favored under US law.

Look, these charlatans have to whip up their base, those Gulfstreams aren’t going to buy themselves.

So in honor of their ideas, the anti-gay right gets a free McDonald’s next time in NYC:

COW Big Anus

GOP jerks twerk for Koch dough. Very hard to un-see this:

GOP Jerks Twerk

Loretta Lynch finally gets ticket punched to DC:

COW Lynch to DC

Europe still thinking about an acceptable migrant solution:

COW Eurodeath

 

Earth Day comes and goes with speech-making and little change:

COW Earth Day

 

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Forget the Supremacy Clause, What about the Sanity Clause?

Go sell crazy somewhere else” – Jack Nicholson, 1998, “As Good As it Gets

Some bad ideas return constantly to the public stage. People try to rewrite the US Constitution, or re-litigate the issue of states’ rights, whenever the existing law seems inconvenient to them. This is another example.

Nevada is considering “The Nevadan’s Resource Rights Bill (NRR) AB408”, which if passed, would declare that all federal lands not used for military, etc. should be owned and controlled by the state of Nevada. That is not inconsequential, since 85% of Nevada’s lands are owned by the US Government. Who is behind this bill? None other than Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who doesn’t recognize the supremacy of the US Government. His issues with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) were well-covered last year.

Back then, The Atlantic reported that Bundy hadn’t paid his grazing fees since 1993, and owed $1.2 million. Bundy does not recognize federal authority over the land where his ancestors first settled in the 1880s, which he claims belongs to the state of Nevada. His governmental issues go much farther than just the BLM:

I believe this is a sovereign state of Nevada…I abide by all of Nevada state laws. But I don’t recognize the United States government as even existing.

OK. Now Bundy is proposing a bill to get Nevada’s land back. The Nevada-based Ralston Reports quotes from a Bundy email call to action:

The natural resources of America are being stolen from the people and claimed by the federal government…If we lose access to the land and natural resources, we become beggars to those who control access. Without doubt this is the greatest immediate threat to the individual person and people as a whole. More lives, liberties and property can be taken under this threat than any other we see.

Bundy’s big problem is that the Constitution says he is wrong. His bill in the Nevada legislature is just another attempted attack on Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution. For those who took US government way too long ago, here is what it says:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

So, when state law is in conflict with federal law, federal law must prevail. There have been many claims that state laws conflict with federal laws. In those lawsuits, The Supreme Court looks at whether the state law directly interferes or is in conflict with federal law. The US has won the vast preponderance of those suits.

But, maybe to Bundy, the Constitution, like the Bible, says only what the reader believes it says.

Enough civics for today. Bundy and supporters have no idea how the nation they profess to love so much actually works. They seem to have no idea what the Constitution, which they say they revere, actually says.

They are “patriotic” only to point that patriotism will justify whatever they want to do, whenever they want to do it. The Bundys are about to re-litigate over a settled constitutional issue, 170 years after the fact.

Just keep this in mind: No matter how wild and crazy you and your friends get on your Las Vegas weekend, you will not be the craziest person in Nevada when you wake up with your hangover.

It’s well past time for the government to nullify Bundy’s attempted nullification, and make him pay the $1.2+ million he owes the US taxpayers.

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