04/12/2011 archive

Never Forget

The Truth About the Confederacy

Tony Wikrent, Corrente

Mon, 04/11/2011 – 10:03pm

The 150th anniversary of the Fort Sumter bombardment that formally began the Civil War is tomorrow, and wrong-wingers throughout the South and the rest of America are fixing a big celebration. There’s going to be a seemingly infinite issuance of blogs, articles, radio interviews, and television appearances that will proffer a prettified picture of a brave and stolid South, courageously defending the “true conservative Constitutional” principles of states rights, individual responsibility, and limited government. If you’re one of the many Americans who don’t really know that much about the Civil War, you have probably been perplexed by the number of wrong-wing Republican politicians who have made open statements of admiration the past year or two for the Confederate ideas of states rights and secession. This very lengthy diary is designed to fully inform you what the Confederacy was really like – a society suffering acutely from class differences; a society ruled by a slave holding oligarchy that was sickeningly arrogant and grasping, as well as racist. A number of myths about have been developed about the “Lost Cause” of the Confederacy for over a century, and those myths and lies are probably going to be repeated so often the coming days and weeks that you’re going to want to puke. My intent for this diary is to help shatter those myths and lies.

“Plant corn! Plant corn!” the editor of the Macon Telegraph wrote. “We must have large supplies, or poverty and suffering will come upon us like a strong man armed.” The True Democrat in Little Rock, Arkansas demanded that not a single seed of cotton be planted. The Florida Sentinel of Tallahassee bluntly warned that the planters’ addiction to cotton would lead to famine and the fall of the Confederacy.

But, Southern planters generally ignored these laws and pleas, and continued to grow as much cotton as possible. United States Senator from Georgia, First Secretary of State of the Confederacy, and Confederate General Robert Toombs, and a half dozen other planters in the area of his Georgia plantation, were upbraided by the local Citizens’ Committee of Public Safety for planting almost all their acreage in cotton. Toombs responded in the best fashion of today’s libertarians and conservatives: “My property, as long as I live, shall never be subject to the orders of those cowardly miscreants, the Committees of Public Safety . . . . you cannot intimidate me.”

By the fall of 1862, there was so much cotton being harvested that the South’s warehouses could not store it all. As a result of the South oligarchs’ arrogant greed, there was never enough food grown to meet the South’s needs. Thousands of letters from desperate women whose men were in the Confederate Army began to flood the offices of local and state officials. Most of them included pitiable pleas for assistance, or requests that their husbands be allowed to leave their military units and return home, even if only temporarily. One woman wrote directly to Jefferson Davis: “If I and my little children suffer and die while there Father is in Service I invoke God Almighty that our blood rest upon the South.” An open letter to the Savannah Morning News bluntly declared “The crime is with the planters . . . as a class, they have yielded their patriotism, if they ever had any, to covetousness . . . . for the sake of money, they are pursuing a course to destroy and demoralize our army-to starve out the other class dependent on them for provisions.”

These pleas also fell on deaf ears. Rather than responding to the desperation of the majority of the people, in the spring of 1863, the Confederate Congress passed a series of taxes, including a ten percent levy on all agricultural products including livestock, fodder, and food crops such as wheat, corn, potatoes, peas, beans, and peanuts. Soon, many “impressment officers” were taking far more than one tenth of a farm’s goods. Moreover, they were reluctant to “inconvenience” the richest and most powerful, so they stripped poorer farms almost bare, before even considering what the large plantations might offer. This, of course, is not that much different than what conservatives today have achieved with their four decades of tax cuts – the tax rates for the rich have been cut, but the poor actually pay an increased percentage because of local and state retail taxes, and increased FICA taxes. Williams notes that “On the Civil War’s eve, nearly half of the South’s personal income went to just over a thousand families. The region’s poorest half held only five percent of its agricultural wealth.”

The slave holder exemption, of course, was based on the slave holders’ fears of a slave revolt – all the prattle about paternalistic love for an inferior race, and that race’s child-like love in return, apparently forgotten. In a number of counties, government officials begged to be released from draft quotas because they feared sending more men off for military service would fatally weaken local slave patrols. C.F. Howell of Jackson County, Mississippi wrote his governor that “now we have to patrol every night to keep them down.” One planter in Alabama ignored the Confederacy’s need for military manpower and openly pleaded with the men of his area to stay at home and save their families “from the horrors of insurrection.”

The slave holder exemption turned out to be a huge mistake, because Confederate soldiers were forced to recognize that the South’s oligarchs had begun the war not so much to fend off supposed Yankee encroachments on their rights, but to preserve slavery and protect the oligarchs’ investment in slave property.

Confederate authorities noted over and over again that the Unionists they sought to repress and kill were comprised of the poorest men in their areas. One Confederate official tried to explain to his superiors that the locals “have little understanding and less sympathy for the difficulties of slave holders.” South Carolina planter and former governor James Henry Hammond, who had married expressly to acquire 7,500 acres and 147 slaves from his bride’s family, wrote candidly to a friend that “The poor hate the rich & make war on them everywhere & here especially with universal suffrage. . . The war is based on the principle and fact of the inequality of mankind-for policy we say races, in reality, as all history shows is as the truth is classes.” Hammond was a vocal proponent of the death penalty for advocating abolition.

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”

Dean Baker: Paul Ryan in Your Pockets: Government by People Who Hate You

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan put out a budget proposal last week that will leave the vast majority of future retirees without decent health care by ending Medicare as we know it. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis, most middle-income retirees would have to pay almost half of their income to purchase a Medicare equivalent insurance package by 2030. They would be paying much more than half of their income in later years.

This sort of broadside against the living standards of the middle class might have been expected to draw an outraged response in a nation that exalts the lifestyle and values of the middle class. Instead the punditry rallied around Mr. Ryan’s plan to deal with the problem of run-away entitlement spending, crediting it for being “serious” even if they did not embrace all the details.

Eugene Robinson: In budget wars, the GOP demands the impossible

Far-right Republicans are winning the budget wars because they understand something that nobody else in Washington seems to grasp: The old truism about politics being the art of the possible is no longer true.

There’s no question who won last week’s showdown. The outcome – nearly $40 billion in painful cuts – goes well beyond the GOP’s initial demands. That Democrats were able to save a few pet programs is something but not much. You really don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing.

And as anyone who’s paying attention can plainly see, The Great Shutdown Standoff was just a skirmish in a much bigger conflict. At issue is a fundamental question – what is the nature and purpose of government – that was first answered more than two centuries ago, when Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson duked it out as warring members of George Washington’s first Cabinet. Hamilton’s centralized government was victorious. There are those who have never forgiven him.

Cenk Uygur: Progressives Must Stand Up to the President

These budget negotiations were a giant win for the Republican Party. President Obama initially cut $40 billion from his own budget proposal — and he got absolutely no credit for that. It was a very typical preemptive concession by the president. It was so typical, you wonder if he recognizes what an indisputably terrible strategy it is or if he has a different agenda.

So, after getting no credit for his original $40 billion concession, then the negotiations began at square one. The Republicans claimed in February that they wanted $32 billion in cuts from that point on. About a week ago, the president came out and announced that they had given the Republicans another $33 billion in cuts — a billion more than they originally asked for. And still the Republicans wanted more.

Ari Berman: Why President Obama Is Losing the Budget Fight

Friday night’s dramatic budget agreement represented a major defeat for President Obama and Congressional Democrats. On substance, John Boehner and Congressional Republicans received $7 billion more in spending cuts than they originally asked for. From a messaging standpoint, the entire debate unfolded on the GOP’s terms (excerpt for a brief interlude concerning Planned Parenthood)-the discussion was about how much to cut, not whether to cut or who would be impacted by such cuts or if such cuts would depress economic growth. The word “jobs” was practically absent from the debate.


The president is following the example of Bill Clinton after the 1994 election, who brought in Dick Morris to “fast-forward the Gingrich agenda.” Often lost in this story is how Clinton, en route to a balanced budget, fought Gingrich over steep spending cuts and vowed to protect “Medicare, Medicaid, education and the environment,” as part of the budget deal. Clinton confronted, then compromised. Obama has fast-forwarded the Boehner agenda with no pushback, even bragging about enacting “the largest annual spending cut in our history.” The president is practically doing Boehner’s job for him!

Chris Hedges: Why the United States Is Destroying Its Education System

A nation that destroys its systems of education, degrades its public information, guts its public libraries and turns its airwaves into vehicles for cheap, mindless amusement becomes deaf, dumb and blind. It prizes test scores above critical thinking and literacy. It celebrates rote vocational training and the singular, amoral skill of making money. It churns out stunted human products, lacking the capacity and vocabulary to challenge the assumptions and structures of the corporate state. It funnels them into a caste system of drones and systems managers. It transforms a democratic state into a feudal system of corporate masters and serfs.

Teachers, their unions under attack, are becoming as replaceable as minimum-wage employees at Burger King. We spurn real teachers-those with the capacity to inspire children to think, those who help the young discover their gifts and potential-and replace them with instructors who teach to narrow, standardized tests. These instructors obey. They teach children to obey. And that is the point. The No Child Left Behind program, modeled on the “Texas Miracle,” is a fraud. It worked no better than our deregulated financial system. But when you shut out debate these dead ideas are self-perpetuating.

Richard Dreyfuss: Libya and Humanitarian War

Two elder American statesman, at least one of which might better be put on trial for war crimes, have come up with an attempt to square the circle by reconciling “realism” and “idealism”-that is, neoconservative interventionism-in regard to “humanitarian” wars. They fail.

Writing in the Washington Post, Henry Kissinger and James Baker make an effort to describe the principles that ought to be applied when invading, bombing or otherwise attacking a country over cases in which direct national security interests aren’t at stake but human life is. Leaving aside whether or not readers ought to take Kissinger seriously on a matter of public policy, the two men declare: “Having served four US presidents during a variety of international crises, we view the choice between ‘idealism’ and ‘realism’ as a false one. Just as ideals must be applied in concrete circumstances, realism requires context for our nation’s values to be meaningful. To separate them risks building policy on sand.”

Amanda Marcotte: What Is and Isn’t Abortion: A Primer

Repeat after me: The recent standoff over the budget came down to funding for contraception, STD testing and treatment, and cancer screening. Make special note of what word was not in that list: abortion. That’s because abortion wasn’t on the table in the fights—there was pre-existing consensus that the government will not subsidize abortion care.

Of course, if you read the mainstream news, you would not know this. For instance, this front page article from the New York Times falsely characterized the fight over “abortion funding,” even though the funding in question was over health care that is not abortion.  The actual funding fight over contraception, cancer screening, and STD testing and treatment was not mentioned, though it was alluded to parenthetically. This article is failed journalism.  Yes, I realize the anti-choicers say “abortion” a lot, but our job as journalists is not to report lies as if they were truths, but to report the truth, no matter how much kicking and screaming the liars are doing.  We certainly do not write something as searingly unprofessional as this:

   Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic majority leader, stressed repeatedly on Friday that his party was committed to defending abortion rights, and he characterized the fight as one over women’s health.

Unless you believe a woman with untreated cancer or chlamydia is “healthy”, his statement is just a matter of fact, not a “he said/she said” sort of thing.

Mike Farrell: Believe It or Not

In Washington, Tea Party types and their Republican acolytes kept threatening to shut down the government, their mantra, a paraphrase of the old Reagan canard, “Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.”

In Florida, their spiritual doppelgangers, Pastor Terry Jones and his Islamophobic Christian zealots, tried, convicted and destroyed by fire a copy of the Quran, mindlessly heaping insult on Afghan injury and igniting a riotous defense of their faith against Western invaders that cost many lives.

Elsewhere in our country, Birthers, Tenthers and others, angry but not sure why, decry socialistic, fascistic, communistic, Hitlerian Obamaesque schemes and warn lawmakers to “keep your government hands off my Medicare.”

What’s happening here?

On This Day In History April 12

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

April 12 is the 102nd day of the year (103rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 263 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1961, aboard the spacecraft Vostok 1, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin becomes the first human being to travel into space. During the flight, the 27-year-old test pilot and industrial technician also became the first man to orbit the planet, a feat accomplished by his space capsule in 89 minutes. Vostok 1 orbited Earth at a maximum altitude of 187 miles and was guided entirely by an automatic control system. The only statement attributed to Gagarin during his one hour and 48 minutes in space was, “Flight is proceeding normally; I am well.”

After his historic feat was announced, the attractive and unassuming Gagarin became an instant worldwide celebrity. He was awarded the Order of Lenin and given the title of Hero of the Soviet Union. Monuments were raised to him across the Soviet Union and streets renamed in his honor.

The triumph of the Soviet space program in putting the first man into space was a great blow to the United States, which had scheduled its first space flight for May 1961. Moreover, Gagarin had orbited Earth, a feat that eluded the U.S. space program until February 1962, when astronaut John Glenn made three orbits in Friendship 7. By that time, the Soviet Union had already made another leap ahead in the “space race” with the August 1961 flight of cosmonaut Gherman Titov in Vostok 2. Titov made 17 orbits and spent more than 25 hours in space.

Today is the 50th Anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s Flight into space.

Fifty years later, relive the world’s first space odyssey

‘Moon Shot’ recounts cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s history-making orbital trip in 1961.

MSNBC Science Editor Alan Boyle recaps Yuri Gagarin’s historic space mission, as shown in a Soviet documentary video.

Six In The Morning

Japan: Nuclear crisis raised to Chernobyl level

Japanese authorities have raised the severity rating of their nuclear crisis to the highest level, seven.

The BBC 12 April 2011 Last updated at 08:15 GMT

The decision reflects the total release of radiation at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi power plant, which is ongoing, rather than a sudden deterioration.

Level seven previously only applied to the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, where 10 times as much radiation was emitted.

There have been no fatalities resulting from the leaks at Fukushima, and risks to human health are thought to be low.

Meanwhile a 6.0-magnitude earthquake on Tuesday prompted the plant’s operator to evacuate its staff.

The operator of the Fukushima plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco), said it was checking the status of the plant after the quake, the second to hit in as many days, but said there had been no reports of problems with external power.

Letting Atlas Shrug

John Aravosis at AMERICAblog, after considering  his own wage losses and others who can’t find jobs, thinks that it may be time to just let the Republicans do their worst and let them destroy the economy:

If the Republicans want to make a political/electoral issue out of the debt ceiling, then let’s not raise it. Hand the keys to the legislation, to to speak, to Boehner and McConnell, and tell them it’s their choice whether the legislation passes. And when it doesn’t pass, and the world economy melts down, no one will elect a Republican for decades to come.

I’m simply tired of dealing with Democrats who don’t have half a brain or half a backbone, and Republicans who would rather demagogue, and lie, than fix the country.

I’m getting there.

Obama’s Lack of Moral Center

Recently in a series of articles here, Michael Kwiatkowski discussed Pres. Obama’s morality and the the immorality of supporting him, as well as, the immorality of not challenging his presidency and other Democrats in 2012. In a post at Echidne‘s blog, Anthony McCarthy picks up this theme of “A Moral Vacuum At The Top”:

Does Barack Obama have a moral center? Is there something that he, ultimately would be unable to compromise away because it is not a negotiable point? Is every value, every moral declaration fungible? An item of spiritual commerce to be bartered so he can, in the end, announce that he’s not lost due to him agreeing to something with the Republicans?

The idea of morality has been made unfashionable in what we, by default, must consider the modern Western intelligentsia. That is the only success that what got called “liberalism” in elite circles has entirely succeeded in over the last century. In the quest for personal liberty morality has been progressively de-emphisized, then redefined, then ignored. Morality has come to mean, not only self-righteous nagging, but an attribute of the unacceptably old fashioned and uncool. The elevation of cynical “realism” as a replacement for the genuinely liberal virtues might be the most obvious evidence of a genuine moral vacuum, an absence of real morality. After more than two years of watching the presidency of Barack Obama, I can’t believe he really believes in anything but his image as a savvy broker, a cool macho deal maker. Watching him trade away the enormous reserve of political power he was given by the voters in 2008, I have to conclude that the things he has bartered for the ability to say he won it seems as if the people who depend on those things aren’t that big a concern to him.

(emphasis mine)

This president’s policies which have expanded the worst of George W. Bush’s regime or torture, indefinite detention, the disregard of US Law, international treaties and law on human rights and war crimes lack any moral grounding, along with the stepped up attacks in Pakistan using unmanned drones that have killed hundreds of innocent women and children and targeting American citizens for assassination without due process. Consider his latest statement on Bradley Manning were he accepted the Defense Department’s assurances that Manning’s confinement as appropriate and meeting “basic standards” without question. These are all acts call in to question a moral center.

What really gives pause is China calling for the US to resign as a Human Rights judge after calling out China on its detention policies:

The United States is beset by violence, racism and torture and has no authority to condemn other governments’ human rights problems, China said on Sunday, countering U.S. criticism of Beijing’s crackdown. . . . “The United States ignores its own severe human rights problems, ardently promoting its so-called ‘human rights diplomacy’, treating human rights as a political tool to vilify other countries and to advance its own strategic interests,” said a passage from the Chinese report.

Ouch. But there’s more as

China “accused the U.S. . . . of pushing for Internet freedom around the world as a way to undermine other nations, while noting that Washington’s campaign against secret-spilling website WikiLeaks showed its own sensitivity to the free flow of information,” and further “lambasted the U.S. over issues ranging from homelessness and violent crime to the influence of money on politics and the negative effects of its foreign policy on civilians.”

h/t to Glenn Greenwald

And this is two years into Obama’s administration. His supporters can’t keep laying this at the feet of the Bush/Cheney regime.

No one seems to know what exactly is in the deal that was struck late Friday evening that ended the latest standoff with the hostage taking Tea Party. What is known id that it will target those who can least afford it. Despite all the claims that have been made that Social Security is “off the table”, that and other safety nets like Medicare and Medicaid are back on the chopping block. Considering Obama’s statement Friday night that touted the latest round of cuts to the 2011 budget as a victory, it leaves one to wonder what else he has bartered away to save his image and how much more the majority of American’s are going to pay for his capitulation to the extremists who have hijacked our government for their corporate masters. It is immoral to force those who can least afford it, to pay for more gluttony of the top 2%.

DocuDharma Digest

Regular Features-

Featured Essays for April 11, 2011-


from firefly-dreaming 11.4.11

This is an Open Thread

Essays Featured Monday the 11th of April:

Bullet the Blue Sky cranks up the day in Late Night Karaoke, mishima DJs

Six Brilliant Articles! from Six Different Places!! on Six Different Topics!!!

                Six Days a Week!!!    at Six in the Morning!!!!

from Gabriel D A Perfect Conversation – a collection of links to GOS essays that challenge the DK conventional wisdom, provide information which may lead to new ideas and push for action that is innovative or not just playing defense.

in crap! i forgot again! RiaD discusses facing reality, in Monday Open Thoughts


from fake consultant a DADT Update: The Service Chiefs Report, The Republicans Fret

from Timbuk3: The 100 Greatest Rock Songs of All Time!

Tonight #85  

The latest Pique the Geek from Translator Carbon, the Basis of Life

join the conversation! come firefly-dreaming with me….

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Captured Gbagbo calls for end to I.Coast fighting

by Evelyne Aka, AFP

1 hr 38 mins ago

ABIDJAN (AFP) – Laurent Gbagbo called Monday for an end to fighting in Ivory Coast hours after the strongman was captured by forces loyal to his rival for the presidency at the climax of a deadly months-long crisis.

“I want us to lay down arms and to enter the civilian part of the crisis, which should be completed rapidly for life in the country to resume,” Gbagbo said on his rival Alassane Ouattara’s TCI channel shortly after his capture.

Gbagbo, who has held power since 2000 and stubbornly refused to admit defeat in November’s presidential election, was detained and taken to his rival’s temporary hotel headquarters with his wife Simone and son Michel.