Tears, get ’em while they’re warm

Maybe this one from the AFA makes sense in context.

For a different kind of tears, here is the Stonewall Inn on Pride Week.




For those of you who were worried, as far as I can tell the greatest threat to my marriage is still whether ON the laundry basket counts as IN the laundry basket. It does, right?

“RAISE HELL: The Life & Times of Molly Ivins”

Courtesy commentor Tenar Darrell, there’s a Kickstarter to finish the first documentary on Molly Ivins:

Molly came up through the journalistic ranks at a time when women entering the field were relegated to the “snake pit,” a misogynistic term for the women’s columns: food, fashion and gardens. She was having none of that. At the age of 26, Molly became the first woman to co-edit the Texas Observer, one of the only liberal newspapers in the U.S.

She honed her skills by standing toe to toe with the politicians at the Texas legislature where she would drink them under the table. Her prolific liver earned her welcome into the good ol’ boys club. Molly’s wry good olʼ gal Texas voice publicly sucker-punched the arrogant and the entitled and gave voice to those who suffered from their abuse. She was beholden to no one and set a tone and direction that’s been adopted by comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert today.

Hers was a prescient voice, bringing attention to what she saw as a crisis in American democracy. She fought particularly hard for campaign finance reform to keep from what she called, “big bidness” from influencing political decisions. Molly wrote and said, “Either we figure out how to keep the corporate cash out of the political system or we lose the democracy.” This is an issue our nation is still grappling with…

The documentary unfolds through visually intimate interviews of Mollyʼsʼ childhood friends, family and colleagues. In contrast interviews with politicians, pundits and pontificators from both sides of the political spectrum will be dramatically lit to illustrate the black and white polarization of “politics as usual.”

These interviews will be juxtaposed with footage from her personal appearances and, from her personal archives, a trove of photos, writings and audio recordings never before seen and heard. Graphics will animate quotes from her columns with images of Texas iconography to visually illustrate Mollyʼs satiric writings.

There will be no narration in Raise Hell. Molly’s voice is the voice we want to hear, to laugh with, learn from and be inspired by. Underscoring all of this will be regional music driving the narrative forward: Texas honky-tonk blues, civil rights anthems and a composer written score…

Can’t hardly wait for this! (Fortunately, I already have all her books… )

Battle Flag Acquisition Strategies


Early this morning, I was doing some research on the endurance of corporate culture, studying how sometimes the spirit of a smaller, acquired firm can permeate the larger, acquiring organization. It’s not unusual for a big behemoth to acquire a scrappy smaller company solely for the purpose of infusing the moribund giant with fresh blood, and when the companies’ interests align, it can create an unstoppable marketplace force…for a while.

With that dynamic still on my mind, I moseyed over to Booman’s place and read a post that hit upon something that has been bothering me about the focus on the rebel flag in the wake of the domestic terrorist massacre in Charleston:

But the focus on the Confederate Flag can have an unfortunate side effect. What, after all, does that flag mean when it doesn’t simply mean white supremacy?

It’s meaning in those cases in nearly identical to the meaning of the modern conservative movement. It’s about disunion, and hostility to the federal government, and state’s rights. It’s anti-East Coast Establishment and anti-immigrant. It’s about an idealized and false past and preserving outworn and intolerant ideas. It’s about a perverse version of a highly provincial and particularized version of (predominantly) Protestant Christianity that has evolved to serve the interests of power elites in the South. It’s about an aggrieved sense of false persecution where white men are playing on the hardest difficulty setting rather than the easiest, and white Christians are as threatened as black Muslims and gays and Jews.

“Those blacks are raping our women and they have to go.”

That’s what the Confederate Flag is all about, but it’s also the basic message of Fox News and the whole Republican Party since the moment that Richard Nixon promised us law and order.

But it’s not black people who have to go.

It’s this whole Last Cause bullshit mentality that fuels our nation’s politics and lines the pockets of Ted Cruz just as surely as it has been lining the pockets of Walmart executives.

Today, maybe the governor down there had an epiphany. Maybe this massacre was the last straw. But, tomorrow, we’ll all be right back where we began with Congress acting like an occupying Confederate Army.

If we solve a symbolic problem and leave the rest untouched, then what will really change?

You can’t bury the Confederate Flag without, at the same time, burying the Conservative Movement.

Let’s get on with it.

He’s right. For many white people, the rebel flag represented moldy old myths about the antebellum South. But think about how nicely that mythology dovetailed with the lies about the pre-Civil Rights era that paleocons like Pat Buchanan tell themselves.

Like a moribund corporation, the GOP acquired Confederate culture with the Southern strategy, harnessing the racism in the South and its echo nationwide to build the present day Republican Party. That’s why Ronald Reagan launched his presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi. That’s why an always-wrong, New York City-born legacy hire who is relentlessly eager to send other people’s kids off to die in glorious causes is tweeting nonsense that his ancestors would find…puzzling:

So, the rebel flag should come down in South Carolina and every other state capitol in the former Confederacy, and with surprising (to me) swiftness, it looks like it will. That will be more than a symbolic victory; it will be the partial righting of a very old wrong.

But there’s a danger in “otherizing” the South in this context. It’s not wrong to condemn its blinkered myth-making and prideful backwardness, but there’s a hazard in moral preening within and outside of Dixie, a risk of declaring a tidy victory when the dinosaurs in the state capitols of the former Confederacy finally sink into the tarpit they’ve thrashed in for 150 years.

The risk is that we’ll lose focus on the modern day “Congress acting like an occupying Confederate Army,” as Booman put it. At its core, the Southern strategy was an attempt to roll back progress by hitching the anti-New Dealers’ star to the creaky old Confederate wagon. Its organizers weren’t all or even mostly slack-jawed yokels waving rebel flags. They included a fiery libertarian business man from Phoenix, a glib B-movie pitchman who hailed from Northern Illinois and a twitchy, paranoid Quaker from California.

To achieve true victory, we have to finally drive a stake through the heart of the Southern strategy, not just the Confederacy. So let’s make expunging the rebel flag from the public square the opening salvo in a larger battle to take our country back. Yes, that’s right, TAKE OUR COUNTRY BACK. With no lies and decaying myths about what that means. The flag that represents it isn’t spotless. Its founding was rooted in slavery, genocide and the oppression of women. But unlike its dying counterpart, this flag is worth saving.

Monday Morning Open Thread: Not Good At Calculating

too dumb to demand better rall

(Ted Rall via GoComics.com)

Some excellent advice from Stephen M. Walt, in Foreign Policy — “Chill Out, America“:

These days, prominent experts and politicians seem determined to keep the American people in a perpetual state of trembling fear. Richard Haass of the Council on Foreign Relations thinks “the question is not whether the world will continue to unravel but how fast and how far.” The outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Martin Dempsey, told Congress last year that “[the world is] more dangerous than it has ever been.” (Someone really ought to tell the general about the Cold War, the Cuban missile crisis, and a little episode known as World War II.) Not to be outdone, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger believes the United States “has not faced a more diverse and complex array of crises since the end of the Second World War.” And then there’s CNN and Fox News, which seem to think that most news stories should be a variation on Fear Factor

We exaggerate external dangers in part because violent events are vivid and dramatic, and they seem scary even when they are rare and when they are taking place tens of thousands of miles away. (The Islamic State understands this, by the way, which is why they use beheadings instead of something more “civilized” and discreet, such as a drone strike.) As Steven Pinker and Andrew Mack have noted, global news coverage and the 24/7 news cycle have led many people to conclude the world is becoming more violent and dangerous, when the actual long-term trend has been going in the other direction. Durable peace is a boring “non-event” in which nothing much happens, so nobody bothers to report it. And that means most people don’t appreciate how safe they really are.

But the main reason so many people stay afraid is that fear is good for the people who purvey it, and so they work hard to instill fear in the rest of us. Fear is what keeps the United States spending more on defense than the next dozen states combined. Fear is what gets politicians elected, fear is what justifies preventive wars, excessive government secrecy, covert surveillance, and targeted killings. And fear is what keeps people watching CNN and Fox News, and running out to buy the New York Times or the Washington Post. As both democratic and authoritarian leaders have long known, you can get people to do a lot of foolish things if they are sufficiently scared.

Unfortunately, this enduring exaggeration of external dangers can blind us to real problems. In fact, if you look at the past 25 years or so, it is abundantly clear that external enemies have done far less damage to the United States than we have done to ourselves…

…[W]hat ought to worry most Americans is not that we face a powerful, cunning, and hostile set of foreign rivals… The real worry should be America’s demonstrated talent for shooting itself in the foot and then pretending that was where it was aiming all along. If you want to something to worry about, you should ponder our inability or unwillingness to learn from past mistakes, the ability of special interests to warp key elements of U.S. foreign policy, the bipartisan tendency to recycle failed policies and the people who devised them, and our habitual surprise when we meddle in places we don’t understand and discover that some of the people we’ve been pushing around don’t like it, want us out, and are willing to do nasty things to achieve that goal. Unless and until these features of U.S. foreign policy are altered, even those of us who are lucky to be living here in the relative security of the United States have something to worry about.

Apart from trying to pull our socks up, what’s on the agenda as we start another week?

Tom Brady In “Deflator-Mess”

The New England Patriots clearly do not give a good gotdamn any more.

The New England Patriots have officially fired back at Ted Wells’s Ballghazi report, in the form of an impenetrable WordPress page that might as well be titled Loose Balls: The Truth About PSI. The site contains an attempt by one of the Patriots’ lawyers to fisk Wells’s report, and although it’s an exhausting read, there are some genuinely funny attempts at explaining away the painfully obvious scheme.

The most damning parts of the Wells report are text messages exchanged between Jim McNally and John Jastremski, two Pats employees who worked in the locker room and talked a lot about Tom Brady and deflating footballs. McNally even referred to himself as “The Deflator” in one of the messages. However! The Pats have a perfectly reasonable explanation for that:

Mr. Jastremski would sometimes work out and bulk up — he is a slender guy and his goal was to get to 200 pounds. Mr. McNally is a big fellow and had the opposite goal: to lose weight. “Deflate” was a term they used to refer to losing weight. One can specifically see this use of the term in a Nov. 30, 2014 text from Mr. McNally to Mr. Jastremski: “deflate and give somebody that jacket.” (p. 87). This banter, and Mr. McNally’s goal of losing weight, meant Mr. McNally was the “deflator.” There was nothing complicated or sinister about it. If there was any doubt about the jocular nature of the May 9, 2014 texts, a review of all the texts between these two men that day would dispel it.

Good God, how do I get a job as an NFL team counsel where I can earn six figures lying to the entire planet about the role of “The Deflator” in your Super Bowl win. I’m in the wrong business.

Hell these guys need to be working for Congress.