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Why do people believe myths about the Confederacy?

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James W. Loewen, Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Vermont, has an interesting column in the Washington Post:

History is the polemics of the victor, William F. Buckley allegedly said. Not so in the United States, at least not regarding the Civil War. As soon as Confederates laid down their arms, some picked up their pens and began to distort what they had done, and why. Their resulting mythology went national a generation later and persists — which is why a presidential candidate can suggest that slavery was somehow pro-family, and the public believes that the war was mainly fought over states’ rights.

The Confederates won with the pen (and the noose) what they could not win on the battlefield: the cause of white supremacy and the dominant understanding of what the war was all about. We are still digging ourselves out from under the misinformation that they spread, which has manifested in both our history books and our public monuments.

Take Kentucky. Kentucky’s legislature voted not to secede, and early in the war, Confederate Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston ventured through the western part of the state and found “no enthusiasm as we imagined and hoped but hostility … in Kentucky.” Eventually, 90,000 Kentuckians would fight for the United States, while 35,000 fought for the Confederate States. Nevertheless, according to historian Thomas Clark, the state now has 72 Confederate monuments and only two Union ones.

Neo-Confederates also won western Maryland. In 1913, the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) put a soldier on a pedestal at the Rockville courthouse. Montgomery County never seceded, of course. While Maryland did send 24,000 men to the Confederate armed forces, it sent 63,000 to the U.S. Army and Navy. Nevertheless, the UDC’s monument tells visitors to take the other side: “To our heroes of Montgomery Co. Maryland / That we through life may not forget to love the Thin Gray Line.”

In fact, the Thin Grey Line came through Montgomery and adjoining Frederick counties at least three times, en route to Antietam, Gettysburg and Washington. Lee’s army expected to find recruits and help with food, clothing and information. They didn’t. Maryland residents greeted Union soldiers as liberators when they came through on the way to Antietam. Recognizing the residents of Frederick as hostile, Confederate cavalry leader Jubal Early demanded and got $300,000 from them lest he burn their town, a sum equal to at least $5,000,000 today. Today, however, Frederick boasts what it calls the “Maryland Confederate Memorial,” and the manager of the Frederick cemetery — filled with Union and Confederate dead — told me in an interview, “Very little is done on the Union side” around Memorial Day. “It’s mostly Confederate.”

In addition to winning the battle for public monuments, neo-Confederates also managed to rename the war, calling it “the War Between the States.” Nevermind that while it was going on, no one called it that. Even Jeopardy!accepts it.

Perhaps most perniciously, neo-Confederates now claim that the South seceded for states’ rights. When each state left the Union, its leaders made clear that they were seceding because they were for slavery and against states’ rights. In its “Declaration Of The Causes Which Impel The State Of Texas To Secede From The Federal Union,” for example, the secession convention of Texas listed the states that had offended them: Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa. These states had in fact exercised states’ rights by passing laws that interfered with the federal government’s attempts to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act. Some also no longer let slaveowners “transit” through their states with their slaves. “States’ rights” were what Texas was seceding against. Texas also made clear what it was seceding for: white supremacy:

We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable.

Despite such statements, during and after the Nadir, neo-Confederates put up monuments that flatly lied about the Confederate cause. For example, . . .

Continue reading.

The outright lies are amazing, particularly those included in school textbooks: despite being blatant falsehoods, they are taught to young American children.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 July 2015 at 9:49 am

Posted in Education, GOP

Republicans Take Aim at Poor Women

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An editorial in the NY Times:

One would imagine that congressional Republicans, almost all of whom are on record as adamantly opposing abortion, would be eager to fund programs that help reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies.

That would be the common sense approach, anyway.

And yet since they took over the House in 2011, Republicans have been trying to obliterate the highly effective federal family-planning program known as Title X, which gives millions of lower-income and rural women access to contraception, counseling, lifesaving cancer screenings, and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.

They tried and failed in 2011, when the Senate was under Democratic control — although they still managed to extract significant cuts from an already underfunded program. Now that Republicans run the show, opponents of sensible and effective family planning are back to kill it off for good. Last Tuesday, a House subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Servicesproposed to eliminate all Title X funding — about $300 million — from a2016 spending bill.

The bill would also slash funding by up to 90 percent for sex education, specifically President Obama’s teen-pregnancy prevention initiative. The only winner was abstinence-only education, whose funding the subcommittee voted to double, despite the fact that it has basically no effect on abstinence and has been associated with higher rates of teen pregnancy.

Meanwhile, Title X, which was enacted by overwhelming bipartisan majorities in Congress in 1970, is caught up once again in the nation’s abortion wars — even though like all federal programs, it is barred from providing any funding for abortions.

Republicans have complained that this ban is subverted by Planned Parenthood, which performs abortions and is Title X’s biggest recipient. They want to deny the organization any federal funds at all. But 90 percent of the women who visit Planned Parenthood clinics are there to get contraception or other reproductive health care, not abortions.

What Title X grants actually do is help prevent unwanted pregnancies —more than one million in 2012, which translates to about 363,000 abortions avoided. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 June 2015 at 5:21 pm

The racist base of the GOP

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Not all in the GOP are racist, by any means. But there is a substantial block, particularly in the South. Paul Krugman points out in his NY Times column today:

. . . My own understanding of the role of race in U.S. exceptionalism was largely shaped by two academic papers.

The first, by the political scientist Larry Bartels, analyzed the move of the white working class away from Democrats, a move made famous in Thomas Frank’s “What’s the Matter With Kansas?” Mr. Frank argued that working-class whites were being induced to vote against their own interests by the right’s exploitation of cultural issues. But Mr. Bartels showed that the working-class turn against Democrats wasn’t a national phenomenon — it was entirely restricted to the South, where whites turned overwhelmingly Republican after the passage of the Civil Rights Act and Richard Nixon’s adoption of the so-called Southern strategy.

And this party-switching, in turn, was what drove the rightward swing of American politics after 1980. Race made Reaganism possible. And to this day Southern whites overwhelmingly vote Republican, to the tune of 85 or even 90 percent in the deep South.

The second paper, by the economists Alberto Alesina, Edward Glaeser, and Bruce Sacerdote, was titled “Why Doesn’t the United States Have a European-style Welfare State?” Its authors — who are not, by the way, especially liberal — explored a number of hypotheses, but eventually concluded that race is central, because in America programs that help the needy are all too often seen as programs that help Those People: “Within the United States, race is the single most important predictor of support for welfare. America’s troubled race relations are clearly a major reason for the absence of an American welfare state.”

Now, that paper was published in 2001, and you might wonder if things have changed since then. Unfortunately, the answer is that they haven’t, as you can see by looking at how states are implementing — or refusing to implement — Obamacare.

For those who haven’t been following this issue, in 2012 the Supreme Court gave individual states the option, if they so chose, of blocking the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid, a key part of the plan to provide health insurance to lower-income Americans. But why would any state choose to exercise that option? After all, states were being offered a federally-funded program that would provide major benefits to millions of their citizens, pour billions into their economies, and help support their health-care providers. Who would turn down such an offer?

The answer is, 22 states at this point, although some may eventually change their minds. And what do these states have in common? Mainly, a history of slaveholding: Only one former member of the Confederacy has expanded Medicaid, and while a few Northern states are also part of the movement, more than 80 percent of the population in Medicaid-refusing America lives in states that practiced slavery before the Civil War.

And it’s not just health reform: a history of slavery is a strong predictor of everything from gun control (or rather its absence), to low minimum wages and hostility to unions, to tax policy. . .

Written by LeisureGuy

22 June 2015 at 5:02 pm

Posted in Daily life, GOP, Politics

Tagged with

Paul Ryan overtly lying about Obamacare

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Big surprise: he has nothing unless he lies, so he lies.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 June 2015 at 3:06 pm

Posted in Congress, GOP, Healthcare

Cybersecurity Bill to unleash NSA

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Lee Fang writes at The Intercept:

Only a week after Congress passed reforms to the Patriot Act ending the National Security Agency’s metadata phone collection program, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, with the help of big business allies, ismoving to expand domestic surveillance of a different type.

On Tuesday, McConnell and Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., announced plans to attach the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act to the National Defense Authorization Act.

Though touted as a measure strictly to enhance cybersecurity through information sharing, privacy advocates say CISA is actually about cyber surveillance. The bill provides liability protection for businesses that voluntarily share “cyber-threat” data with the government. Big business has lobbied for CISA because companies see it as a way to shift some anti-hacking defenses onto the government, which would save them money.

But critics say CISA would not have prevented the high-profile hacks its supporters cite as evidence of the need for action. And Burr’s version of the bill creates a back-door channel for the government, including the NSA, to vacuum up huge new tracts of consumer data.

“Last week, the Senate made history when it passed the USA Freedom Act, taking a major step forward for Americans’ privacy,” said Robyn Greene, Open Technology Institute’s policy counsel in a statement. “Passing CISA would be like taking two steps back. CISA is essentially a cyber-surveillance bill that would empower the NSA and FBI by giving them access to vast new troves of Americans’ information, and let them use that information for investigations that have nothing at all to do with cybersecurity.”

As we noted earlier this year, CISA’s vague definition of a cybersecurity threat that triggers information sharing with the government includes . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 June 2015 at 12:11 pm

Once again, “Bleeding Kansas”: This time it’s jobs.

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Bleeding Kansas” was the name prompted by the bloody conflicts as defenders of slavery clashed with those who believed in human freedom in the period 1854-1861. Nowadays, however, Kansas is bleeding jobs, thanks to Gov. Sam Brownback’s policies; he has ambitions of doing the same thing to the US as a whole.

Take a look at the non-farm job situation, comparing the US as a whole (upper line) to Kansas (lower line), both lines normalized with jobs on Jan 2011 as 100. From that starting point, where both were the same (100), you see what happens with the Brownback plan:


The chart is from Paul Krugman’s blog post, which is worth reading (it’s brief) for the discussion and links. And the comments there are also interesting.

UPDATE: More here—and Kansas is finally thinking about restoring some of the taxes they have cut, so long as the tax burden falls mostly on the poor.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 May 2015 at 10:35 am

Posted in Business, Daily life, GOP

Sen. Ted Cruz: “A charlatan”

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So says Dana Milbank in the Washington Post, providing as an example:

As he prepared for his presidential run over the last year or so, a hawkish Sen. Ted Cruz has said U.S. policy in the Middle East and elsewhere is a mess because of President Obama’s weakness — particularly his failure to enforce his own “red line” after the Syrian regime used chemical weapons.

“A critical reason for [Vladimir] Putin’s aggression has been President Obama’s weakness,” the Texas Republican said in a typical appearance, on ABC News last year. “You’d better believe that Putin sees that in Syria,” he added. “Obama draws a red line and ignores the red line.”

This takes quite a lot of chutzpah, even by Cruz standards. It’s true that Obama didn’t enforce his red line in Syria — in large part because Cruz rallied opposition to bombing Syria.

I was reminded of Cruz’s hypocrisy this week by Rep. Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican who served three tours in Iraq and two in Afghanistan as an Air Force pilot. Kinzinger, who favors a muscular foreign policy, was one of a small group of House Republicans leading the effort to give Obama authority to bomb Syria in 2013 — but they were undone when Cruz began declaring that bombing the Syrian regime would make the United States “al-Qaeda’s air force.”

“I think Ted Cruz bears some responsibility for not enforcing the red line,” Kinzinger told me. “The Republican support began crumbling the more Cruz spoke. His words implied that anyone who voted for strikes would be acting as an agent of al-Qaeda.”

Condemning Obama for failing to enforce the Syrian red line after blocking him from enforcing the very same red line? This is vintage Cruz, who I’ve long suspected to be a charlatan. . .

Continue reading.


Written by LeisureGuy

28 May 2015 at 11:15 am

Posted in Congress, GOP, Government


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