Late Night Horrorshow Open Thread: The Proper Commemoration of “Confederate Memorial Day”

One of those “just in the family” things they don’t talk about in front of the Yankees, apparently, because I don’t remember hearing about it before. This year’s commemoration gets a more fitting memorial. Angela Helm, at The Root:

On Monday, Alabama is set to observe Confederate Memorial Day, commemorating the sons of the South killed in the U.S. Civil War. No surprise there. Alabama loves fighting with Mississippi for the title of “most racist state” (though they actually may be running neck and neck with “everything south of the Canadian border” if we’re keeping it real).

I find this amusing, not just because of the abiding ridiculousness of the holiday itself—which for me and most black people is a dressed-up way of reveling in institutional racism and anti-blackness (contrary to claims of “love of heritage”)—but because I just so happen to be in Alabama today, Monday, for a press preview of a memorial and museum dedicated to those both forgotten and annihilated through acts of racial terror across the country, and I will touch this holiest site on … Confederate Memorial Day…

… [H]ere in America, the God some trust is not on the dollar bill, it is the dollar bill. Here, as we all were whispered songs of “sweet lands of liberty,” black Americans perished in a nightmare of running blood and burning flesh and mass rape for pleasure and profit; that story all but erased from history and replaced with men playing war games, re-enacting so-called acts of valor for an indefensible premise…

The national lynching memorial, the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, will stand atop a hill, in remembrance of the more than 4,000 victims of racial terror on U.S. soil, which the Montgomery, Ala.-based Equal Justice Institute has meticulously tracked for six years.

The accompanying Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration, located in a former slave warehouse, will also tell the tale of our sojourn here: from enslavement to widespread public executions, to Jim Crow, to the continued violence against black bodies through mass incarceration and police violence.

The museum and memorial are but two drops in a bucket recognizing the true “legacy” of this nation; it’s a befitting tribute to those who weren’t able to throw up statues and establish holidays, their bodies sometimes snatched and ripped apart for keepsakes. It finally acknowledges, in a lasting way, what this country wrought upon its literal children, drafted into another war they never signed up for, but one in which they certainly perished, strange fruit hanging from poplar trees…

 
Fred Hiatt, in the Washington Post:

In the Riverfront Park of this state capital, you will find a series of panels depicting the city’s history. They will tell you when the first white settler arrived, how riverboats transformed Montgomery into a trading hub for cotton “and many other important commodities,” and how the city became the cradle of the Confederacy.

They will not tell you that the most important of those other commodities was human beings.

It is the sort of lacuna, says Bryan Stevenson, that allows people to “achieve political victories by celebrating the greatness of America.”

“The question is, which decade are black Americans supposed to want to relive?”
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Happy News: Trump’s Voter Suppression Czar Loses Another One

Per the hometown Topeka Capital-Journal:

U.S. District Court Judge Julie Robinson on Wednesday ruled Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach was in contempt of court for failing to comply with her orders in a lawsuit over the state’s voter registration law.

Robinson ordered Kobach to pay for attorney fees for litigating the contempt motion, with additional remedies to be determined later.

American Civil Liberties Union attorneys complained Kobach routinely defied a temporary injunction issued by Robinson in 2016 to block enforcement of the state’s proof of citizenship law.

Kobach’s office refused to update language on its website suggesting that new voter applicants may not be able to vote after November 2016 elections. Kobach also failed to follow through on a promise to Robinson that counties would send postcards notifying voters they could participate in elections, even if they failed to show a birth certificate or other documents when they registered.

“The judge found that Kris Kobach disobeyed the court’s orders by failing to provide registered voters with consistent information, that he willfully failed to ensure that county elections officials were properly trained, and that he has a ‘history of noncompliance and disrespect for the court’s decisions,’ ” said ACLU attorney Dale Ho. “Secretary Kobach likes to talk about the rule of law. Talk is cheap, and his actions speak louder than his words.”

Kobach for years has championed the need for strict voter registration laws as a way of keeping noncitizens from voting. At a trial last month, he struggled to provide evidence to support claims of widespread voter fraud.

Kobach’s chief legal counsel, Sue Becker, continued to argue in the weeks leading up to the trial that it wasn’t necessary to send postcards. It wasn’t until the contempt hearing that Kobach “changed course,” Robinson wrote, and “claimed he had personally directed his staff to ensure that postcards be sent.”…

She also said Kobach was disingenuous in arguing her orders were ambiguous. Kobach admitted during the contempt hearing that he understood individuals covered by the preliminary injunction should be treated no differently than other registered voters.

She pointed to an ACLU witness who testified that when he called the Sedgwick County elections office, he was told it wasn’t clear whether he was registered.

Kobach’s “confusing notices, and his patent failure to fully inform and monitor compliance with the preliminary injunction order, caused confusion and misinformation,” Robinson said.

A day after the contempt hearing, Kobach said it was clear his office had bent over backward to comply with the judge’s orders. As a candidate for the GOP nomination for governor, Kobach rallies supporters by telling them he likes makes the ACLU unhappy.

“As soon as the ACLU sues, I know we have made the right decision,” Kobach said during a debate last week…

Preliminary twitter reports seem to indicate that “the office” — in other words, Kansas taxpayers — will be on the hook for whatever Kobach ends up paying in fines. Perhaps this may change a few Kansas voters’ minds about the ‘massive threat’ of (nonexistent) ‘voter fraud’?

 
Related reading:



We Can Always Use Some Bitter, Cynical, Gallows Humor, So Here’s A Kudlow Post

Larry Kudlow is the pure distilled essence of a Trump appointment, the type specimen of the breed, and the perfect expression of the state of Republican “thinking” on not just economics, but any matter in which actual knowledge and a respect for empiricism might help.

Via Wikipedia, we find he is barely educated, at best, in the fields in which he now works:

Kudlow graduated from University of Rochester in Rochester, New York with a degree in history in 1969. Known as “Kuddles” to friends, he was a star on the tennis team and a member of the left-wing Students for a Democratic Society at Rochester.

In 1971, Kudlow attended Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, where he studied politics and economics. He left before completing his master’s degree.

I’ll admit that Kuddles is kinda cute, but an unfinished masters degree in a policy school is not one you’d usually associate with economics acumen.

He went on to a stellar business career, managing to get fired repeatedly for substance abuse on the job, including a claimed $10,000/month cocaine habit that got him canned from Bear Stearns in 1994. (It’s interesting to note that a frantic effort is underway today to diminish such inconvenient truths on Kudlow’s Wikipedia page.)

Fortunately for Kuddles, he cleans up well, dresses nicely, and can tok gud. So he was able to revive his career as a TV gasbag, with a series of appearances and then shows on CNBC, the network that figured out the markets could be covered like sports teams.

Unfortunately — for the rest of us, if not for the ever-failing-up Kudlow — he’s been wrong about almost every key economic call since Methuselah was in diapers.  He is a Laffer disciple, a supply-sider whose faith that there is no tax that is too low, no plutocrat whose needs must not be served, is impervious to any test of reality.

Consider this:

In 1993, when Bill Clinton proposed an increase in the top tax rate from 31 percent to 39.6 percent, Kudlow wrote, “There is no question that President Clinton’s across-the-board tax increases … will throw a wet blanket over the recovery and depress the economy’s long-run potential to grow.” This was wrong. Instead, a boom ensued. Rather than question his analysis, Kudlow switched to crediting the results to the great tax-cutter, Ronald Reagan. “The politician most responsible for laying the groundwork for this prosperous era is not Bill Clinton, but Ronald Reagan,” he argued in February, 2000.

And this:

Kudlow firmly denied that the United States would enter a recession in 2007, or that it was in the midst of a recession in early to mid-2008. In December 2007, he wrote: “The recession debate is over. It’s not gonna happen. Time to move on. At a bare minimum, we are looking at Goldilocks 2.0. (And that’s a minimum). The Bush boom is alive and well. It’s finishing up its sixth splendid year with many more years to come”. In May 2008 he wrote: “President George W. Bush may turn out to be the top economic forecaster in the country” in his “‘R’ is for ‘Right'”.

And this:

When Obama took office, Kudlow was detecting an “inflationary bubble.” That was wrong. He warned in 2009 that the administration “is waging war on investors. He’s waging war against businesses. He’s waging war against bondholders. These are very bad things.” That was also wrong, and when the recovery proceeded, by 2011, he credited the Bush tax cuts for the recovery. (Kudlow, April 2011: “March unemployment rate drop proof lower taxes work.”) By 2012, Kudlow found new grounds to test out his theories: Kansas, where he advisedRepublican governor Sam Brownback to implement a sweeping tax-cut plan that would produce faster growth. This was wrong. Alas, Brownback’s program has proven a comprehensive failure, falling short of all its promises and leaving the state in fiscal turmoil.

The reviews are coming in. Via the BBC:

David Stockman, Mr Kudlow’s former boss during the Reagan administration, told the Washington Post in 2016 that Mr Kudlow’s prediction that tax cuts would lead to growth was “dead wrong”. Instead, he said the cuts led to budget deficits.

More recently, he has warned that Mr Kudlow would not be able to rein in the president.

“As much as I love him … Larry’s voice is exactly the wrong voice that Donald Trump ought to be hearing as we go forward,” he told CNBC.

Liberal economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has been sharply critical, noting that Mr Kudlow missed signs of the housing bubble and recession.

“At least he’s reliable — that is, he’s reliably wrong about everything,” Mr Krugman tweeted.

Indeed in December 2007 – just as the recession was beginning – Mr Kudlow wrote in the National Review: “There’s no recession coming. The pessimistas were wrong. It’s not going to happen.”

It is interesting that Kudlow himself doesn’t seem to disagree with his predecessor on the issue that got Cohn out. From a quick take bylined by him, Laffer and Stephen Moore (another stellar, always-wrong econ public intellectual) here he is on Trump’s tariff announcement:

Tariffs are really tax hikes. Since so many of the things American consumers buy today are made of steel or aluminum, a 25 percent tariff on these commodities may get passed on to consumers at the cash register. This is a regressive tax on low-income families.

I wonder how that squares with the new job. ETA: I know how it squares. It’s already been forgotten. We’ve always been at war with Eastasia.

But that’s just SOP in the circles in which Kudlow travels:  intellectual rigor doesn’t actually matter.  He’s under no obligation to be consistent in any of his pronouncements, and he certainly doesn’t have to be right about anything as long as he provides cover for the true Republican (n.b.: not just Trumpian) policy goal: the transfer of more and more of our society’s wealth to those who are already wealthy — and hence, in the GOP/Rand/Sociopath view of the world, those who are virtuous enough to deserve such riches.

For all of you who’ve wondered why the US can’t be more like Kansas — we may now we get to find out.

Image: Thomas Shields Clarke, A Fool’s Fool,  c. 1887.



Wednesday Morning Open Thread: “Treasonous”

He’s just a tummler at heart, a white-bread Rodney Dangerfield, working the Suburban Racist circuit. Getting the reliable cheers by promoting time-worn tropes of Us vs. Them — honor and patriotism be damned. Kudos to Tammy Duckworth for her response, as reported in the Washington Post:

“We don’t live in a dictatorship or monarchy. I swore an oath — in the military and in the Senate — to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, not to mindlessly cater to the whims of Cadet Bone Spurs and clap when he demands I clap,” Duckworth (D-Ill.) wrote in a tweet. She used a nickname she has given Trump, who has said he was granted a medical deferment during the Vietnam War after he was diagnosed with bone spurs in his feet.

Duckworth, who lost her legs in 2004 while serving in Iraq as an Army helicopter pilot, then shared this quote from Theodore Roosevelt, lifted from an opinion piece the former president wrote during World War I: “To announce that there must be no criticism of the president or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.”…

In a Senate floor speech last month, Duckworth called Trump a “five-deferment draft dodger” who had no business accusing Democrats — such as herself — of not caring for the military.

“Does he even know that there are service members who are in harm’s way right now, watching him, looking for their commander in chief to show leadership, rather than to try to deflect blame?” Duckworth said…



Can’t Get There From Here

Thanking Illinois for safeguarding my biometrics is not something I ever expected to do, and yet

The state is one of two in the country where the Google Arts and Culture app’s selfie feature — which matches users’ uploaded selfies with portraits or faces in works of art — is not available. Google won’t say why, but it’s likely because Illinois has one of the nation’s strictest laws on the use of biometrics, which include facial, fingerprint, and iris scans.

 

 Good on ya, Lincolnland!

So in lieu of an art selfie, I will post a face-match I noticed myself a few years ago. I swear, I didn’t used to look like Michael Stipe, and he didn’t look like me. Somehow, in the intervening years, we converged. Maybe white guys lose all distinguishing facial characteristics as they age? (I’ll let you know.)

That’s me in the corner.

And you, you are not me.

Fables of the Reconstruction, R.E.M.’s third
album, got a lot of airplay in Chicago when I was living there in the 1980s, and my relationship with the band thereafter ran this way:
  • This song is okay, but a little limp. Not much here.
  • Why is this song still in my head after a couple of days?
  • Wait, this is a really good song!
  • Buy album

This cycle took me up through Document, their fifth album, after which I lost interest. You hardly needed to buy a record to hear R.E.M. anyway; they were all over the radio. I remember Stipe’s impenetrable lyrics angered me as a young songwriter. Now I like them. It’s funny how one’s tastes migrate over time. Young people get peevish over stupid shit. R.E.M. officially broke up in 2011. Reflecting on them now, I have to say I really miss their autumnal, Byrdsian guitars and madrigal-like vocal interplay.  Nothing stays the same, though. Including not resembling Michael Stipe.

It’s hard to pick a favorite out of so many good songs. My band Constant Velocity, in an early incarnation that included a fiddle player, covered “Fall on Me” on the radio valiantly but badly live on the radio in Champaign back in the ’90s. Cuyahoga and Don’t Go Back to Rockville are hard to argue with. R.E.M.’s cover of Wire’s Strange is a very interesting departure from the chord jangling folk-rock for which they were celebrated. A nice, straight ahead riff-rocker which brings something different (Fats Domino? Jerry Lee Lewis?) to the original. It’s great when a band bridles against its own type-casting and pulls it off.

I have a Chicago cousin who now lives in Georgia. A real Italian Beef in the land of grits and hominy. It seems very middle class where he lives. Indistinguishable from the endless suburbs of Chicago. I don’t know what the situation is really like down there locally but I have read that Georgia is a candidate to turn blue eventually. I’m sure the very knowledgeable commenters who live down there (looking at you raven) know the local angle. But let’s work to help that process along.
Here is the fund that’s split between all eventual
Democratic nominees in House districts currently held by Republicans.Goal Thermometer


Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III’s Anti-Marijuana Mandate Unites All Parties

Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Independent — all agree: Sessions’ motives are the worst. And apart from all the (poor, powerless, mostly not-white) people he’s going to hurt, the Republican “brand” will suffer because of his regressive obsession with “the demon weed”.

I’m proud that so many Democratic legislators are stepping up…


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Ignorance Is Strength

Policy analysts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were told today not to use seven words in official documents they prepare for next year’s budget. The words are

vulnerable

entitlement

diversity

transgender

fetus

science-based

evidence-based

Instead of “science-based” or ­“evidence-based,” the suggested phrase is “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes,” but in other cases, no substitute was suggested.

No names were given of people responsible for this dictum.

Policy analysts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta were told of the list of forbidden words at a meeting Thursday with senior CDC officials who oversee the budget

but, from the wording, it looks like it was a Party operative another official who gave the order. Or somebody told the senior CDC officials that that would be required.

“Transgender” and “fetus” are particularly problematic. The preference to replace “fetus” is probably “unborn baby.” I don’t want to imagine what they would prefer for “transgender.” Or, I guess, programs involving those nonexistent categories can just be struck. I’m sure the CDC budget will be decreased in any case.

 

Update: cthulu informs us that Kevin Drum has supplied substitutes. Here they are