Thursday, April 29, 2010

Alabama and the English Language

According to our new George Wallaces, in which the South and Southwest GOP has transformed itself into the hub of anti-Latino racism, it is all about speaking English. No, seriously.

'This is Alabama; we speak English,' governor candidate says

Amid a national debate over Arizona's tough new immigration law, Republican Alabama gubernatorial candidate Tim James (and son of previous Gov. Fob James) vows in a new campaign ad that if he's elected, he'll give the state driver's license exam only in English, as a cost-saving measure.

"This is Alabama; we speak English," he says in the ad. "If you want to live here, learn it."

Tim James' campaign video -- Language @ Yahoo! Video

It's not clear how James thinks the change would save the state money. Marc Ambinder of the Atlantic says Alabama could actually lose billions of dollars in federal funding if it enacts the measure, and he points to an Alabama political blog that runs down the legal history for why the exams are in multiple languages.

James says he's been attacked by the left for the ad, singling out MSNBC host Rachel Maddow. A writer on her blog called the ad "just plain mean" and argued it was simply pandering to the candidate's conservative base.

"I have come under attack and under assault by a very interesting group of far-left reporters," he said Monday, according to the Birmingham News. He said English exams are a public safety issue, to ensure drivers can read signs. Exams are currently given in Arabic, Chinese, English, Farsi, French, German, Greek, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Thai and Vietnamese, according to AOL News.

— Liz Goodwin is a national affairs writer for Yahoo! News.

By the way, this is what the gubernatorial candidate of Alabama considers 'speaking English.'

Yes, Mr. James, that is an amazing display of English speaking skills in your part of the country. I am certain when Shakespeare was writing his plays and sonnets, he had you and your voters in mind.

I do not know how to disappoint all of those white people in the state of Alabama, but if speaking proper English was the requirement for living in the US, you would be deemed no more American than any first generation immigrant. Actually, they would be worthier of citizenship, since many of those immigrants already speak better English than the the Republican gubernatorial candidate and the barely-hinged base of his state's primary voters.

How sad that we deport the wrong people.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Boobquake 2010

For the record, I am not a "breast man," or whatever a cynic might use to discount this quaint story. In fact, I would not otherwise care about tomorrow, but for the fact that this Monday, April 26, 2010, is officially Boobquake, an international women's response to Iranian senior cleric Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi's claim that "immodest women" are the leading cause of earthquakes.

Promiscuous women make the earth move says senior cleric

A SENIOR Iranian cleric says women who wear revealing clothing and behave promiscuously are to blame for earthquakes.

Iran is one of the world's most earthquake-prone countries, and the cleric's unusual explanation for why the earth shakes follows a prediction by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that a quake is certain to hit Tehran and that many of its 12 million inhabitants should relocate.

"Many women who do not dress modestly ... lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes,'' Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi said.

Women in the Islamic Republic are required by law to cover from head to toe, but many, especially the young, ignore some of the more strict codes and wear tight coats and scarves pulled back that show much of the hair.

"What can we do to avoid being buried under the rubble?'' Sedighi asked during a prayer sermon on Friday.

"There is no other solution but to take refuge in religion and to adapt our lives to Islam's moral codes.''

Seismologists have warned for at least two decades that it is likely the sprawling capital will be struck by a catastrophic quake in the near future.

Some experts have even suggested Iran should move its capital to a less seismically active location.

Tehran straddles scores of fault lines, including one more than 80km long, though it has not suffered a major quake since 1830.

In 2003, a powerful earthquake hit the southern city of Bam, killing 31,000 people - about a quarter of that city's population - and destroying its ancient mud-built citadel.

"A divine authority told me to tell the people to make a general repentance. Why? Because calamities threaten us,'' said Sedighi, Tehran's acting Friday prayer leader.

The Iranian government and its security forces have been locked in a bloody battle with a large opposition movement that accuses Ahmadinejad of winning last year's vote by fraud.

Ahmadinejad made his quake prediction two weeks ago but said he could not give an exact date.

He acknowledged that he could not order all of Tehran's 12 million people to evacuate.

"But provisions have to be made. ... At least 5 million should leave Tehran so it is less crowded,'' the president said.

I am not the biggest fan of event Facebook groups, not the least semi-pornographic ones, but here it is, along with the fan page (until it gets shut down), for the sake of science, naturally. And just in case you are really interested, here is the blogger who started it all, Blag Hag's Jen McCreight.

Of course, there are no earthquakes here in Jesusland yet, but I am waiting, particularly since this region of the US is filled with many religious boobs who take to blaming disastrous events on women, gays, and just about anyone who is not a white male Evangelical Christian.

In fairness to the religious right, one of my increasingly, probably-soon-to-be-ex-heroes, President Evo Morales (thanks to political anxiety closet), has purported recently that processed chicken makes you gay.

Cochabamba: Evo offends global gays

After scoring points with global environmentalists with his World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth (CMPCC) in Cochabamba this week, Bolivian President Evo Morales has got himself in hot water with gay activists across the planet. On April 21, he commented to reporters at the CMPCC on the dangers of factory-farm chicken--but in half-baked (pardon the pun) and homophobic terms. "The chicken we eat is full of feminine hormones," the populist president said. "And therefore when men eat these chickens, they experience deviances in being men."

Morales added that genetically modified products cause baldness. "Baldness is such a common illness in Europe that it appears normal, almost all of them are bald, and this is because of the things they eat, while indigenous peoples don't have baldies, because we eat other things."

Bolivia's opposition politicians were quick to jump on the remarks. "Trading in urban legends is a very poor theme for the summit," said opposition deputy Andrés Ortega.

But international gay organizations are also outraged. Spain's National Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Transsexuals and Bisexuals sent a letter of protest to the Bolivian embassy in Madrid protesting the remarks. The president of the Argentina Homosexual Community, Cesar Cigliutti, said: "It's an absurdity to think that eating transgenic chicken can change a person's sexual orientation. By following that reasoning, if we put male hormones in a chicken and we make a homosexual eat it he will transform into a heterosexual." (AFP, Guardian News Blog, April 22; Peru21, April 21)

Evo is certainly on the right side in the global gastro-wars, but its a shame to see him discrediting his critique of the industrial food system by mixing it up with such ugliness (and wackiness).


While irrationality is predominantly a right-wing obsession these days, be it the Southern Baptists, the Vatican, or the mullahs in Iran, sadly, it appears that even our side has a few fools. Shame on you, Evo. Shame on you.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

GOP to Latinos: Drop Dead

I am sure if they passed a bill requiring all police officers to affirmatively force every gun owner to fork over their papers, proving the legal purchase of the person's firearms on demand, anywhere, on the threat of imprisonment (i.e., suspicion), the white right voters of Arizona would have a very different reaction than the one potentially targeting every Latino in that state after yesterday. Welcome to white America's more open reversion to state-sanctioned racism. I guess Jim Crow never left us.


Arizona governor signs immigration bill
By the CNN Wire Staff

Phoenix, Arizona (CNN) -- Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed a bill Friday that requires police in her state to determine whether a person is in the United States legally, which critics say will foster racial profiling but supporters say will crack down on illegal immigration.

The bill requires immigrants to carry their alien registration documents at all times and requires police to question people if there is reason to suspect that they're in the United States illegally. It also targets those who hire illegal immigrant day laborers or knowingly transport them.

The Republican governor also issued an executive order that requires additional training for local officers on how to implement the law without engaging in racial profiling or discrimination.

"This training will include what does and does not constitute reasonable suspicion that a person is not legally present in the United States," Brewer said after signing the bill.

"Racial profiling is illegal. It is illegal in America, and it's certainly illegal in Arizona," Brewer said.

The rules, to be established in by the Arizona Peace Officers Standards and Training Board, are due back to her in May. The law goes into effect 90 days after the close of the legislative session, which has not been determined.

What will Arizona's immigration law do?

Previously, officers could check someone's immigration status only if that person was suspected in another crime.

Brewer's executive order was in response to critics who argue that the new law will lead to racial profiling, saying that most police officers don't have enough training to look past race while investigating a person's legal status.

"As committed as I am to protecting our state from crime associated with illegal immigration, I am equally committed to holding law enforcement accountable should this stature ever be misused to violate an individual's rights," Brewer said.

She added that the law would probably be challenged in courts and that there are those outside Arizona who have an interest in seeing the state fail with the new measure.

"We cannot give them that chance. We must use this new tool wisely and fight for our safety with the honor Arizona deserves."

The bill is considered to be among the toughest immigration measures in the nation. Supporters say the measure is needed to fill a void left by the federal government's failure to enforce its immigration laws.

Its leading sponsor, state Sen. Russell Pearce, said this week, "Illegal is not a race; it's a crime."

"We're going to take the handcuffs off of law enforcement. We're going to put them on the bad guy," said Pearce, a Republican.

Fellow Republican state Sen. Frank Antenori said the biggest reason he supported the bill was because a rancher in one of the counties he represents was murdered by someone who crossed the U.S. border with Mexico illegally. He said the person of interest in the killing had crossed the border numerous times and cited other similar violent crimes.

"The citizens of this state are tired of the catch and release that is going on by the federal government where they grab people, they process them, and they take them back and drop them on the other side of the border," Antenori said. "They just come back, and we have no border security down here."

After the signing, the Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police, which had opposed the measure, issued a statement saying, "law enforcement professionals in the State of Arizona will enforce the provisions of the new law to the best of their abilities."

The state's largest police union, the Arizona Police Association, is in favor of the law.

In the hours leading up to the bill's signing, about 2,000 people rallied at the Arizona capital, and President Barack Obama, in the nation's capital, called the legislation "misguided" but said the federal government must act on the immigration issue.

Read excerpts from remarks Friday by Obama and Brewer

"Our failure to act responsible at the federal level will only open the door to irresponsibility by others. That includes, for example, the recent efforts in Arizona, which threaten to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and their communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe," the president said at a naturalization ceremony for 24 members of the military.

Brewer's counterpart in neighboring New Mexico, Gov. Bill Richardson, called the new law "a terrible piece of legislation."

"It's against the democratic ideals of this country," he told CNN's "Situation Room." "It's a step backwards. It's impractical."

He said the law would not combat the problem of illegal immigration or take the place of comprehensive reform.

iReport: Share your thoughts on immigration policy

Latino members of Congress also slammed the bill.

"When you institutionalize a law like this one, you are targeting and discriminating at a wholesale level against a group of people," Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Arizona, said Tuesday.

Grijalva closed his two district offices Friday when an unidentified caller threatened to blow up his Tucson office and kill his staff members. The caller also said he was going to be "exercising my civil liberties, and I'm shooting Mexicans at the border," according to Grijalva's district director, Ruben Reyes, who fielded one of the calls.

Grijalva and Rep. Luis Gutierrez, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Task Force on Immigration Reform, had called on Brewer to veto the measure.

Gutierrez is a leading supporter of a proposed overhaul of U.S. immigration laws and said the Arizona issue shows why an overhaul is necessary. He has urged Obama to "put his back into the push" and to let Arizona know that federal law trumps state legislation on immigration.

The Virginia-based Hispanic Leadership Fund also criticized the law, saying in a written statement, "Having to 'carry your papers' is a hallmark of authoritarian regimes -- not of the Constitutional Republic that our Founding Fathers wisely passed on to us. Arizonans and all Americans deserve an immigration system that works, not a draconian big government desecration of the Bill of Rights."

Brewer said that "decades of federal inaction and misguided policies" have created "a dangerous and unacceptable situation."

The governor said Arizona's law mirrors federal statutes on immigration enforcement, "despite the erroneous and misleading statements suggesting otherwise."

Asked what criteria will be used to establish reasonable suspicion of someone's legal status, Brewer said, "I don't know. I do not know what an illegal immigrant looks like."

However, she added, her executive order requires the Arizona Peace Officers Standards and Training Board to address the issue.

"I know that if AZPOST gets [itself] together, works on this law, puts down the description, that the law will be enforced civilly, fairly and without discriminatory points to it."

Notice, no tea party folk will be protesting this expansion of government power. That is because the right in this country has never had a problem with big government, so long as it serves their interests--namely, to keep this country looking and praying like them, for as long as possible. It is no different than their ideological brethren who took up arms 149 years ago to maintain ownership of black people. It is no different than their ancestors who took to sheets and burning crosses to make sure those black people remained disenfranchised. And it is no different than the Know Nothing mentality of those early American Protestants who claimed the Irish Catholic immigrant population was undermining our Constitutional republic, never mind the non-Anglo Europeans who came after them. The fear of Latinos has at its heart of fear of the dwindling presence of the white race in the US, which is what also fuels anti-immigrant fervor in contemporary Western Europe.

For those who say I am being facetious or judgmental, or that it is about 'illegal immigration,' then why is there no mention or complaining from the Michael Savages about the hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants in this country from Europe? Few of them speak English, right away, and yet no complaints about the Russians. The concentration is on almost always on Mexicans, as this bill will obviously be targeting them (the empty protestations notwithstanding from the Governor of Arizona that abuses will not be tolerated [this after signing a bill that commands law enforcement to racially profile and abuse the state's Latino population]). Here are at least some more honest white conservatives.

When you see the teabaggers demonstrating about "taking our country back," this is what they mean by their country. Where were these people when George Bush made the Fourth Amendment a dead letter, allowed the NSA to spy on all of our internet activity, signed a Medicare bill that put almost a half trillion new dollars of deficit government spending in health care? Not a care in the world. Could it be that they did not care because of who it was taking away their rights, or the rights of people whose existence they do not care to recognize to begin with?

The sad irony is these disaffected Republicans are fighting a war they cannot win. Ultimately, they will lose, no matter how much they use the power of the state to temporarily turn this country into a cantonized gulag of internal passports for non-whites, because there are more Latino immigrants in this country legally than those who are here illegally, having larger families and they are followed by more immigrants, while these paranoid white folk are aging and dying off with less than two kids per family. The median age for a white American today is almost forty. What you are seeing with this legislation is the last surge of a fading breed who gave this country our greatest historical crimes. Unfortunately, our Bavarians have won this round, until the courts, demographics, and/or human decency finally sets in.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Big Brother Webcam School

If you read the beginning of this story and nothing else, you would think those 56,000 pictures that the Lower Merion School District took of its (mostly) underage students were of an appropriate nature, just read the bottom third of the article.

Pa. district took 56,000 images on student laptops

PHILADELPHIA – A suburban school district secretly captured at least 56,000 webcam photographs and screen shots from laptops issued to high school students, its lawyer acknowledged Monday.

"It's clear there were students who were likely captured in their homes," said lawyer Henry Hockeimer, who represents the Lower Merion School District.

None of the images, captured by a tracking program to find missing computers, appeared to be salacious or inappropriate, he said. The district said it remotely activated the tracking software to find 80 missing laptops in the past two years.

The Philadelphia Inquirer first reported Monday on the large number of images recovered from school servers by forensic computer experts, who were hired after student Blake Robbins filed suit over the tracking practice.

Robbins still doesn't know why the district deployed the software tracking program on his computer, as he had not reported it lost or stolen, his lawyer said.

The FBI has opened a criminal investigation into possible wiretap violations by the district, and U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, of Pennsylvania, has introduced a bill to include webcam surveillance under the federal wiretap statute.

The district photographed Robbins 400 times during a 15-day period last fall, sometimes as he slept in bed or was half-dressed, according to his lawyer, Mark Haltzman. Other times, the district captured screen shots of instant messages or video chats the Harriton High School sophomore had with friends, he said.

"Not only was Blake Robbins being spied upon, but every one of the people he was IM chatting with were spied upon," said Haltzman, whose lawsuit alleges wiretap and privacy violations. "They captured pictures of people that have nothing to do with Harriton. It could be his cousin from Connecticut."

About 38,000 of the images were taken over several months from six computers the school said were stolen from a locker room.

The tracking program took images every 15 minutes, usually capturing the webcam photo of the user and a screen shot at the same time. The program was sometimes turned on for weeks or months at a time, Hockeimer said.

"There were no written policies or procedures governing the circumstances surrounding activating the program and the circumstances regarding turning off the activations," Hockeimer said.

Robbins was one of about 20 students who had not paid the $55 insurance fee required to take the laptops home but was the only one tracked, Haltzman said.
The depositions taken to date have provided contradictory testimony about the reasons for tracking Robbins' laptop. One of the two people authorized to activate the program, technology coordinator Carol Cafiero, invoked her Fifth Amendment right not to answer questions at the deposition, Haltzman said.

About 10 school officials had the right to request an activation, Hockeimer disclosed Monday.

The tracking program helped police identify a suspect not affiliated with the school in the locker room theft, Hockeimer said. The affluent Montgomery County district distributes the Macintosh notebook computers to all 2,300 students at its two high schools, Hockeimer said.

As part of the lawsuit, a federal judge this week is set to begin a confidential process of showing parents the images that were captured of their children.

The school district expects to release a written report on an internal investigation in the next few weeks, Hockeimer said. School board President David Ebby has pledged the report will contain "all the facts — good and bad."

In other words, according to the Lower Merion School District, taking pictures of half naked teens is not at all "salacious or inappropriate." If this school district dug through the kids' mail boxes at home, the IT department and superintendent would be fitted with orange jumpsuits and put away in prison for quite a few years. But they get to remotely activate web cams on their computers in their homes, take over 56,000 pictures, including at least one of them in a state of undress, and this somehow is only a civil matter? If our prosecutors are going to turn sexting 16 year olds into sex offenders, why not the administrators of the Lower Merion School District?

I have little doubt the student who sued the district is not the only one they took pictures of in the buff (depending on how one judges in the buff). I think there is a good argument to be made that the school board president, the technology coordinator, as well as those who installed the software and took the pictures should all be subject to child porn charges, if indeed there were genuinely nude pictures (although I am not sure of being "half dressed" as a teenage male would suffice). What better way to teach people in positions of power in our government the value of accountability than to hold them to the same laws they impose on everyone else?

Of course, none of this going to stop our friends at the NSA from cataloging all of our phone calls, and monitoring our internet activity, emails, and IMs. That is one form of big government no one seems to care about--the people in this school district, the teabaggers (least of all), or the screamers on Fox 'news.' Here is the side of the state you will not be seeing covered on your mainstream news station.

Security Watch: Beware the NSA’s Geek-Spy Complex
By Noah Shachtman

Early this year, the big brains at Google admitted that they had been outsmarted. Along with 33 other companies, the search giant had been the victim of a major hack — an infiltration of international computer networks that even Google couldn’t do a thing about. So the company has reportedly turned to the only place on Earth with a deeper team of geeks than the Googleplex: the National Security Agency.
Most of us know the NSA as the supersecret spook shop that allegedly slurped up our email and phone calls after the September 11 attacks. But NSA headquarters — the “Puzzle Palace” — in Fort Meade, Maryland, is actually home to two different agencies under one roof. There’s the signals-intelligence directorate, the Big Brothers who, it is said, can tap into any electronic communication. And there’s the information-assurance directorate, the cybersecurity nerds who make sure our government’s computers and telecommunications systems are hacker- and eavesdropper-free. In other words, there’s a locked-down spy division and a relatively open geek division. The problem is, their goals are often in opposition. One team wants to exploit software holes; the other wants to repair them. This has created a conflict — especially when it comes to working with outsiders in need of the NSA’s assistance. Fortunately, there’s a relatively simple solution: We should break up the NSA.
Here’s the problem: Say you’re a Google customer — and who isn’t, really? You want to know that Google is safeguarding your data and your privacy. Trouble is, when Google calls the NSA, everyone watching sees it as a package deal. The company wants geeks, but it runs the risk of getting spies, too. The NSA’s wiretapping directorate has a vested interest in keeping company information at least slightly open in case they need to take a look someday — the NSA is, after all, the agency that tapped AT&T switching stations (OK, OK, allegedly). So if Google appeals to the NSA, it could poison its relationship with its customers (and compromise your personal information, to boot). The NSA and Google can pinky-swear that they’ll never ever put a back door in Gmail, but intelligence agencies aren’t known for keeping their promises.
A broken-out bureau — call it the Cyber Security Agency, or CSA — that didn’t include the spooks would obviate this conflict. “A separate information-assurance agency,” says Michael Tanji, a 21-year veteran of intelligence services, including the NSA, “will have a greater level of acceptance across the government and the private sector.”
That acceptance is vital — because the dotcom and dotgov universes are already having to rely on the NSA, no matter what the drawbacks are. The Defense Department turned to the director of the NSA to head its new Cyber Command. The Department of Homeland Security routinely turns to the NSA for cybersecurity help. Technically, rendering this aid isn’t the NSA’s job, says Richard Bejtlich, a former Air Force cybersecurity officer now with General Electric. “But when you’re in trouble, you go to the guys who actually have a clue.”
An independent CSA would be trusted more widely than Fort Meade, improving collaboration among cybersecurity geniuses. It was private researchers and academics who led the effort to corral the ultrasophisticated Conficker worm. And the National Institute of Standards and Technology worked on federal desktop security. A well-run, independent CSA would be able to coordinate better with these outside entities.
The idea of splitting up the NSA’s geeks and spies has come up before. It’s one of the reasons that the NSA’s directorates have separate budgets and separate congressional oversight. But a previous push to break them up was dismissed — because back when mail was paper and banking was done with a teller, the lines between codebreaking and codemaking were fuzzy and the benefits of a trusted network protector were less clear. But that was then. Today, as unsafe as electronic information is in a world of hackers and Internet worms, it’s even more unsafe locked inside the Puzzle Palace.
Contributing editor Noah Shachtman ( writes about commentator Andrew Breitbart in this issue.

So, Google is infested with NSA spies. This makes a mockery of Google's feigned shock and outrage at the Chinese government for allegedly hacking into their network. Not only does Google allow the NSA to hack into its system, and collect our data without our knowledge (the Fourth Amendment be damned), which it keeps purposely open just enough for our government to infiltrate the company's ranks, but undermines the same principles of openness, freedom of expression, and non-interference from outside parties that it conveniently uses to paternalistically lecture states who do not fit into Google's future business plan.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Justice Stevens's Replacement

From the looks of most of President Obama's potential picks to replace Justice John Paul Stevens, they are central casting for the Blue Dog Coalition.

Elena Kagan is considered the most liked of Obama's possible choices, particularly amongst Senate Republicans, but she is also a pro-corporate Solicitor General and an advocate of the broad executive powers of the presidency, even during the Bush era. During her confirmation hearings for Solicitor General, Kagan told the Senate "that someone suspected of helping finance Al Qaeda should be subject to battlefield law -- indefinite detention without a trial -- even if her were captured in a place like the Philippines rather than a physical battle zone." That someone like this would even be considered for the Supreme Court by President Obama is an exemplar of the moral cowardice of this administration. That she was confirmed as Solicitor General with any Republican support is the primary reason she is considered qualified for being on the Supreme Court, as her judicial background is nil. Notice, Sarah Palin has no problem with our President "palling around" with the likes of a possible Supreme Court Justice who thinks US citizens deemed to be terrorists should be subject to indefinite detention without trial. Just suggesting her name should be enough for any real progressive to be up in arms.

The next nominee is Merrick Garland, a leftover from the Clinton Administration, and like most of the other candidates is an Ivy Leaguer. The last member of the troika on the short list (and a non-Ivy Leaguer to boot) is Diane Wood. She is considered a "consensus builder" and being a 'moderate liberal', which is a nicer way of saying another moderate-conservative for the court. My favorite candidate mentioned, and as such a person considered less likely by the so-called respectable media for nomination, is ex-Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears. She has an extensive judicial record supporting free speech and civil liberties, something most of the other candidates either have remained silent on or supported the Bush administration. Even she is not perfect (her views on abortion have yet to be expressed, even after years of judicial experience), but Sears is head and shoulders above the collection of moderate to moderate-conservative nominees on the short list.

Of course, this will not stop the Republicans from accusing whoever Obama nominates of being a socialist (or judicial activist, which is basically the same thing to the right these days anyway) and racist against white people (with the extra kicker of being called a man hater if the nominee is female). If it turns out to be just another white guy, naturally, he will have the privilege of only being called a socialist/judicial activist who hates god. Such is the disconnect of the contemporary Republican Party that they think a healthcare bill which gives insurance companies a subsidy is evidence of Mao Zedong's return.

What we are losing with John Paul Stevens is one of the last genuinely progressive voices on the court. The chance of Obama replacing Stevens with another progressive seems remote. In fact, the President has already declared his intentions to make a "quick pick" to the Supreme Court, meaning someone amenable to the knee scrapers for the insurance lobby like Joe Lieberman, Bill Nelson, to say nothing of any member of the GOP.

This is Obama's way of saying we are getting a corporate friendly pick (i.e., one of the three members of the short list). I hope I am wrong. Like with the public option on the healthcare bill, and our troops remaining in Iraq, if Obama actually grows a spine and does something right for a change by selecting a progressive nominee to the Supreme Court (that is, Leah Ward Sears), I will offer to make a public apology to the White House. I do not anticipate being wrong about this, though.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Banking Sector and You

Being an ex-employee of high finance, all these many moons ago, watching what has happened in the past four years has been instructive to me, in my perch in the ivory tower. I was associated long ago with practices like foreclosing on homes of people with catastrophic healthcare costs, the practice of lending and mortgages to people without proof of employment or income, and variable interest rate loans. It is why I quit the industry a decade ago, to cleanse myself of those soulless practices, and went back to grad school, so angry it made me to how my employers would take away peoples' lives, while then handing out credit cards like drugs at colleges with 25% APRs. However, even then, I never anticipated a $600 trillion derivatives market, which is not only unregulated but unlisted. Betting on our futures with a system that is ten times greater in GDP size than our global economy is not my idea of reasonable, particularly in light of how our banks gutted and threw us into the current recession.

One of the most educational and informative interviews I have seen in a long time is C-SPAN's Q&A with Janet Tavakoli. She is an ex-engineer and finance executive, who has written several articles and books on her old employers and how/why they have wrecked our economy and way of life. It is almost an hour long, but it is well worth the time and effort, and it synopsizes many of the problems we currency face (and will encounter in the near future).

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Confederacy Month: Celebration of Treason and Racism

If one believed the Governor of Virginia, Ron Paul, or Pat Buchanan, the Confederacy was a just and noble cause of freedom, instead of a rebellion by slaveholding terrorists and treasonists--the revolt of our Catos. Governor McDonnell's initial proclamation left out the issue of slavery entirely, until intense criticism forced him to feign a religious awakening and half-apology to black people for accidentally forgetting about them.

McDonnell's omission, however, is nothing new for white Southerners. The lost cause has, over the past 40 years, evolved into a near universal attempt to suppress or deny the existence or recognition of slavery, for obvious reasons. White conservatives today realize that they cannot get away with publicly thinking the way they did before the civil rights movement and expect to be taken seriously. This is why National Review recently unleashed an all-white symposium on what is wrong with blacks in America--and this from a publication that back in the 1950s openly supported white supremacy and segregation. It is no short irony that the ancestors of the infatuates of the lost cause felt quite differently about the issue of slavery as a cause of the Civil War.

In furtherance of this de-bunking, here is the Virginia ordinance of secession of April 1861. Notice the primary cause mentioned being the "oppression" of the "Southern slaveholding states" by the North.

Virginia Ordinance of Secession
April 17, 1861


To Repeal the ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America, by the State of Virginia, and to resume all the rights and powers granted under said Constitution:

The people of Virginia, in their ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America, adopted by them in Convention, on the 25th day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eight-eight, having declared that the powers granted them under the said Constitution were derived from the people of the United States, and might be resumed whensoever the same should be perverted to their injury and oppression, and the Federal Government having perverted said powers, not only to the injury of the people of Virginia, but to the oppression of the Southern slaveholding States.

Now, therefore, we, the people of Virginia, do declare and ordain that the Ordinance adopted by the people of this State in Convention, on the twenty-fifth day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy-eight, whereby the Constitution of the United States of America was ratified, and all acts of the General Assembly of this State, ratifying or adopting amendments to said Constitution, are hereby repealed and abrogated; that the union between the State of Virginia and the other States under the Constitution aforesaid, is hereby dissolved, and that the State of Virginia is in the full possession and exercise of all the rights of sovereignty which belong to a free and independent State. And they do further declare that the said Constitution of the United State of America is no longer binding on any of the citizens of this State.

This Ordinance shall take effect and be an act of this day when ratified by a majority of the votes of the people of this State, cast at a poll to be taken thereon on the fourth Thursday in May next, in pursuance of a schedule hereafter to be enacted.

Done in Convention, in the city of Richmond, on the seventeenth day of April, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-one, and in the eighty-fifth year of the Commonwealth of Virginia

For those neo-Confederates who still live the illusion of your cause being about anything else, here is the 1861 Texas state legislature's secession declaration. Notice the lack of any mentioning about economics, taxes, tariffs, or any of the other nonsensical claims that post-civil rights era white conservatives have manufactured in their apologias.


A Declaration of the Causes which Impel the State of Texas to Secede from the Federal Union

The government of the United States, by certain joint resolutions, bearing date the 1st day of March, in the year A.D. 1845, proposed to the Republic of Texas, then a free, sovereign and independent nation, the annexation of the latter to the former, as one of the co-equal states thereof,

The people of Texas, by deputies in convention assembled, on the fourth day of July of the same year, assented to and accepted said proposals and formed a constitution for the proposed State, upon which on the 29th day of December in the same year, said State was formally admitted into the Confederated Union.

Texas abandoned her separate national existence and consented to become one of the Confederated Union to promote her welfare, insure domestic tranquility and secure more substantially the blessings of peace and liberty to her people. She was received into the confederacy with her own constitution, under the guarantee of the federal constitution and the compact of annexation, that she should enjoy these blessings. She was received as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery - the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits - a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time. Her institutions and geographical position established the strongest ties between her and other slaveholding States of the confederacy. Those ties have been strengthened by association. But what has been the course of the government of the United States, and of the people and authorities of the non-slave-holding States, since our connection with them?

The controlling majority of the Federal Government, under various pretences and disguises, has so administered the same as to exclude the citizens of the Southern States, unless under odious and unconstitutional restrictions, from all the immense territory owned in common by all the States on the Pacific Ocean, for the avowed purpose of acquiring sufficient power in the common government to use it as a means of destroying the institutions of Texas and her sister slaveholding States.

By the disloyalty of the Northern States and their citizens and the imbecility of the Federal Government, infamous combinations of incendiaries and outlaws have been permitted in those States and the common territory of Kansas to trample upon the federal laws, to war upon the lives and property of Southern citizens in that territory, and finally, by violence and mob law, to usurp the possession of the same as exclusively the property of the Northern States.

The Federal Government, while but partially under the control of these our unnatural and sectional enemies, has for years almost entirely failed to protect the lives and property of the people of Texas against the Indian savages on our border, and more recently against the murderous forays of banditti from the neighboring territory of Mexico; and when our State government has expended large amounts for such purpose, the Federal Government has refuse reimbursement therefore, thus rendering our condition more insecure and harassing than it was during the existence of the Republic of Texas.

These and other wrongs we have patiently borne in the vain hope that a returning sense of justice and humanity would induce a different course of administration.

When we advert to the course of individual non-slaveholding States, and that a majority of their citizens, our grievances assume far greater magnitude.

The States of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa, by solemn legislative enactments, have deliberately, directly or indirectly violated the 3rd clause of the 2nd section of the 4th article [the fugitive slave clause] of the federal constitution, and laws passed in pursuance thereof; thereby annulling a material provision of the compact, designed by its framers to perpetuate the amity between the members of the confederacy and to secure the rights of the slave-holding States in their domestic institutions - a provision founded in justice and wisdom, and without the enforcement of which the compact fails to accomplish the object of its creation. Some of those States have imposed high fines and degrading penalties upon any of their citizens or officers who may carry out in good faith that provision of the compact, or the federal laws enacted in accordance therewith.

In all the non-slave-holding States, in violation of that good faith and comity which should exist between entirely distinct nations, the people have formed themselves into a great sectional party, now strong enough in numbers to control the affairs of each of those States, based upon an unnatural feeling of hostility to these Southern States and their beneficent and patriarchal system of African slavery, proclaiming the debasing doctrine of equality of all men, irrespective of race or color - a doctrine at war with nature, in opposition to the experience of mankind, and in violation of the plainest revelations of Divine Law. They demand the abolition of negro slavery throughout the confederacy, the recognition of political equality between the white and negro races, and avow their determination to press on their crusade against us, so long as a negro slave remains in these States.

For years past this abolition organization has been actively sowing the seeds of discord through the Union, and has rendered the federal congress the arena for spreading firebrands and hatred between the slave-holding and non-slaveholding States.

By consolidating their strength, they have placed the slave-holding States in a hopeless minority in the federal congress, and rendered representation of no avail in protecting Southern rights against their exactions and encroachments.

They have proclaimed, and at the ballot box sustained, the revolutionary doctrine that there is a "higher law" than the constitution and laws of our Federal Union, and virtually that they will disregard their oaths and trample upon our rights.

They have for years past encouraged and sustained lawless organizations to steal our slaves and prevent their recapture, and have repeatedly murdered Southern citizens while lawfully seeking their rendition.

They have invaded Southern soil and murdered unoffending citizens, and through the press their leading men and a fanatical pulpit have bestowed praise upon the actors and assassins in these crimes, while the governors of several of their States have refused to deliver parties implicated and indicted for participation in such offenses, upon the legal demands of the States aggrieved.

They have, through the mails and hired emissaries, sent seditious pamphlets and papers among us to stir up servile insurrection and bring blood and carnage to our firesides.

They have sent hired emissaries among us to burn our towns and distribute arms and poison to our slaves for the same purpose.

They have impoverished the slave-holding States by unequal and partial legislation, thereby enriching themselves by draining our substance.

They have refused to vote appropriations for protecting Texas against ruthless savages, for the sole reason that she is a slave-holding State.

And, finally, by the combined sectional vote of the seventeen non-slaveholding States, they have elected as president and vice-president of the whole confederacy two men whose chief claims to such high positions are their approval of these long continued wrongs, and their pledges to continue them to the final consummation of these schemes for the ruin of the slave-holding States.

In view of these and many other facts, it is meet that our own views should be distinctly proclaimed.

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.

That in this free government all white men are and of right ought to be entitled to equal civil and political rights; that the servitude of the African race, as existing in these States, is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations; while the destruction of the existing relations between the two races, as advocated by our sectional enemies, would bring inevitable calamities upon both and desolation upon the fifteen slave-holding states.

By the secession of six of the slave-holding States, and the certainty that others will speedily do likewise, Texas has no alternative but to remain in an isolated connection with the North, or unite her destinies with the South.

For these and other reasons, solemnly asserting that the federal constitution has been violated and virtually abrogated by the several States named, seeing that the federal government is now passing under the control of our enemies to be diverted from the exalted objects of its creation to those of oppression and wrong, and realizing that our own State can no longer look for protection, but to God and her own sons--We the delegates of the people of Texas, in Convention assembled, have passed an ordinance dissolving all political connection with the government of the United States of America and the people thereof and confidently appeal to the intelligence and patriotism of the freemen of Texas to ratify the same at the ballot box, on the 23rd day of the present month.

Adopted in Convention on the 2nd day of Feby, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-one and of the independence of Texas the twenty-fifth.

In fact, there were four Confederate states who passed formal declarations of the causes of secession (not including the ordinances that all of the traitorous states issued). Not one of them mentioned states' rights anywhere in their declarations. Not one mentioned tariffs, taxation, and all of them mentioned the importance of the maintenance of slavery, and in the case of Mississippi, as with Texas, compared the white race's ownership of slaves akin to a religious sanction.

Here are the declarations of the causes of secession. They number in total over 7,900 words, issued by the very states who tried to break apart this union, which Governor McDonnell chooses to celebrate. I challenge anyone to find one mention about the Tenth Amendment, taxes, and explain to me why slavery was mentioned as the cause in every single declaration of secession (if indeed it was about something other than slavery).

The following is a part of a speech from the Vice President from the Confederacy, Alexander Hamilton Stephens (ironic name choice, seeing how Alexander Hamilton was a staunch opponent of states' rights and slavery), giving his inaugural address to the Confederates States of America. Again, credit should be given to the white Southerners of that time period for their honesty in stating what they really thought about black people and slavery in general.

Cornerstone Speech by Alexander Hamilton Stephens

But not to be tedious in enumerating the numerous changes for the better, allow me to allude to one other though last, not least. The new [Confederate] constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution African slavery as it exists amongst us the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the "rock upon which the old Union would split." He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact. But whether he fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood and stands, may be doubted. The prevailing ideas entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old constitution, were that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with, but the general opinion of the men of that day was that, somehow or other in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away. This idea, though not incorporated in the constitution, was the prevailing idea at that time. The constitution, it is true, secured every essential guarantee to the institution while it should last, and hence no argument can be justly urged against the constitutional guarantees thus secured, because of the common sentiment of the day. Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the government built upon it fell when the "storm came and the wind blew."

For those who do not take the beliefs of the Confederacy's Vice President as being of great value, here is an abridged version of the inaugural address of the Confederacy's President Jefferson Davis. Yet again, note the lack of any mentioning of the issue of tariffs, taxation, or other bogey causes generated by contemporary neo-Confederate historians, including President Davis's honest expressions on the issue of slavery.

Confederate States of America - Message to Congress April 29, 1861 (Ratification of the Constitution)

MONTGOMERY, April 29, 1861.

Gentlemen of the Congress: It is my pleasing duty to announce to you that the Constitution framed for the establishment of a permanent Government for the Confederate States has been ratified by conventions in each of those States to which it was re-ferred. To inaugurate the Government in its full proportions and upon its own substantial basis of the popular will, it only remains that elections should be held for the designation of the officers to administer it. There is every reason to believe that at no distant day other States, identified in political principles and community of interests with those which you represent, will join this Confederacy, giving to its typical constellation increased splendor, to its Government of free, equal, and sovereign States a wider sphere of usefulness, and to the friends of constitutional liberty a greater security for its harmonious and perpetual existence. It was not, however, for the purpose of making this announcement that I have deemed it my duty to convoke you at an earlier day than that fixed by yourselves for your meeting....

Under this contract of alliance, the war of the Revolution was successfully waged, and resulted in the treaty of peace with Great Britain in 1783, by the terms of which the several States were each by name recognized to be independent. The Articles of Confederation contained a clause whereby all alterations were prohibited unless confirmed by the Legislatures of every State after being agreed to by the Congress; and in obedience to this provision, under the resolution of Congress of the 21st of February, 1787, the several States appointed delegates who attended a convention "for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation and reporting to Congress and the several Legislatures such alterations and provisions therein as shall, when agreed to in Congress and confirmed by the States, render the Federal Constitution adequate to the exigencies of Government and the preservation of the Union." It was by the delegates chosen by the several States under the resolution just quoted that - the Constitution of the United States was framed in 1787 and submitted to the several States for ratification, as shown by the seventh article, which is in these words: "The ratification of the conventions of nine States shall be sufficient for the establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the same." I have italicized certain words in the quotations just made for the purpose of attracting attention to the singular and marked caution with which the States endeavored in every possible form to exclude the idea that the separate and independent sovereignty of each State was merged into one common government and nation, and the earnest desire they evinced to impress in the Constitution its true character - that of a compact between independent Stares. The Constitution of 1787, having, however, omitted the clause already recited from the Articles of Confederation, which provided in explicit terms that each State retained its sovereignty and independence, some alarm was felt in the States, when invited to ratify the Constitution, lest this omission should be construed into an abandonment of their cherished principle, and they refused to be satisfied until amendments were added to the Constitution placing beyond any pretense of doubt the reservation by the States of all their sovereign rights and powers not expressly delegated to the United States by the Constitution. Strange, indeed, must it appear to the impartial observer, but it is none the less true that all these carefully worded clauses proved unavailing to prevent the rise and growth in the Northern States of a political school which has persistently claimed that the government thus formed was not a compact between States, but was in effect a national government, set up above and over the States. An organization created by the States to secure the blessings of liberty and independence against foreign aggression, has been gradually perverted into a machine for their control in their domestic affairs. The creature has been exalted above its creators; the principals have been made subordinate to the agent appointed by themselves. The people of the Southern States, whose almost exclusive occupation was agriculture, early perceived a tendency in the Northern States to render the common government subservient to their own purposes by imposing burdens on commerce as a protection to their manufacturing and shipping interests. Long and angry controversies grew out of these attempts, often successful, to benefit one section of the country at the expense of the other. And the danger of disruption arising from this cause was enhanced by the fact that the Northern population was increasing, by immigration and other causes, in a greater ratio than the population of the South. By degrees, as the Northern States gained preponderance in the National Congress, self-interest taught their people to yield ready assent to any plausible advocacy of their right as a majority to govern the minority without control. They learned to listen with impatience to the suggestion of any constitutional impediment to the exercise of their will, and so utterly have the principles of the Constitution been corrupted in the Northern mind that, in the inaugural address delivered by President Lincoln in March last, he asserts as an axiom, which he plainly deems to be undeniable, of constitutional authority, that the theory of the Constitution requires that in all cases the majority shall govern; and in another memorable instance the same Chief Magistrate did not hesitate to liken the relations between a State and the United States to those which exist between a county and the State in which it is situated and by which it was created. This is the lamentable and fundamental error on which rests the policy that has culminated in his declaration of war against these Confederate States. In addition to the long-continued and deep-seated resentment felt by the Southern States at the persistent abuse of the powers they had delegated to the Congress, for the purpose of enriching the manufacturing and shipping classes of the North at the expense of the South, there has existed for nearly half a century another subject of discord, involving interests of such transcendent magnitude as at all times to create the apprehension in the minds of many devoted lovers of the Union that its permanence was impossible. When the several States delegated certain powers to the United States Congress, a large portion of the laboring population consisted of African slaves imported into the colonies by the mother country. In twelve out of the thirteen States negro slavery existed, and the right of property in slaves was protected by law. This property was recognized in the Constitution, and provision was made against its loss by the escape of the slave. The increase in the number of slaves by further importation from Africa was also secured by a clause forbidding Congress to prohibit the slave trade anterior to a certain date, and in no clause can there be found any delegation of power to the Congress authorizing it in any manner to legislate to the prejudice, detriment, or discouragement owners of that species of property, or excluding it from the protection of the Government.

The climate and soil of the Northern States soon proved unpropitious to the continuance of slave labor, whilst the converse was the case at the South. Under the unrestricted free intercourse between the two sections, the Northern States consulted their own interests by selling their slaves to the South and prohibiting slavery within their limits. The South were willing purchasers of a property suitable to their wants, and paid the price of the acquisition without harboring a suspicion that their quiet possession was to be disturbed by those who were inhibited not only by want of constitutional authority, but by good faith as vendors, from disquieting a title emanating from themselves. As soon, however, as the Northern States that prohibited African slavery within their limits had reached a number sufficient to give their representation a controlling voice in the Congress, a persistent and organized system of hostile measures against the rights of the owners of slaves in the Southern States was inaugurated and gradually extended. A continuous series of measures was devised and prosecuted for the purpose of rendering insecure the tenure of property in slaves. Fanatical organizations, supplied with money by voluntary subscriptions, were assiduously engaged in exciting amongst the slaves a spirit of discontent and revolt; means were furnished for their escape from their owners, and agents secretly employed to entice them to abscond; the constitutional provision for their rendition to their owners was first evaded, then openly denounced as a violation of conscientious obligation and religious duty; men were taught that it was a merit to elude, disobey, and violently oppose the execution of the laws enacted to secure the performance of the promise contained in the constitutional compact; owners of slaves were mobbed and even murdered in open day solely for applying to a magistrate for the arrest of a fugitive slave; the dogmas of these voluntary organizations soon obtained control of the Legislatures of many of the Northern States, and laws were passed providing for the punishment, by ruinous fines and long-continued imprisonment in jails and penitentiaries, of citizens of the Southern States who should dare to ask aid of the officers of the law for the recovery of their property. Emboldened by success, the theater of agitation and aggression against the clearly expressed constitutional rights of the Southern States was transferred to the Congress; Senators and Representatives were sent to the common councils of the nation, whose chief title to this distinction consisted in the display of a spirit of ultra fanaticism, and whose business was not "to promote the general welfare or insure domestic tranquillity," but to awaken the bitterest hatred against the citizens of sister States by violent denunciation of their institutions; the transaction of public affairs was impeded by repeated efforts to usurp powers not delegated by the Constitution, for the purpose of impairing the security of property in slaves, and reducing those States which held slaves to a condition of inferiority. Finally a great party was organized for the purpose of obtaining the administration of the Government, with the avowed object of using its power for the total exclusion of the slave States from all participation in the benefits of the public domain acquired by all the States in common, whether by conquest or purchase; of surrounding them entirely by States in which slavery should be prohibited; of thus rendering the property in slaves so insecure as to be comparatively worthless, and thereby annihilating in effect property worth thousands of millions of dollars. This party, thus organized, succeeded in the month of November last in the election of its candidate for the Presidency of the United States.

In the meantime, under the mild and genial climate of the Southern States and the increasing care and attention for the wellbeing and comfort of the laboring class, dictated alike by interest and humanity, the African slaves had augmented in number from about 600,000, at the date of the adoption of the constitutional compact, to upward of 4,000,000. In moral and social condition they had been elevated from brutal savages into docile, intelligent, and civilized agricultural laborers, and supplied not only with bodily comforts but with careful religious instruction. Under the supervision of a superior race their labor had been so directed as not only to allow a gradual and marked amelioration of their own condition, but to convert hundreds of thousands of square miles of the wilderness into cultivated lands covered with a prosperous people; towns and cities had sprung into existence, and had rapidly increased in wealth and population under the social system of the South; the white population of the Southern slaveholding States had augmented from about 1,250,000 at the date of the adoption of the Constitution to more than 8,500,000 in 1860; and the productions of the South in cotton, rice, sugar, and tobacco, for the full development and continuance of which the labor of African slaves was and is indispensable, had swollen to an amount which formed nearly three-fourths of the exports of the whole United States and had become absolutely necessary to the wants of civilized man. With interests of such overwhelming magnitude imperiled, the people of the Southern States were driven by the conduct of the North to the adoption of some course of action to avert the danger with which they were openly menaced. With this view the legislatures of the several States invited the people to select delegates to conventions to be held for the purpose of determining for themselves what measures were best adapted to meet so alarming a crisis in their history. Here it may be proper to observe that from a period as early as 1798 there had existed in all of the States of the Union a party almost uninterruptedly in the majority based upon the creed that each State was, in the last resort, the sole judge as well of its wrongs as of the mode and measure of redress. Indeed, it is obvious that under the law of nations this principle is an axiom as applied to the relations of independent sovereign States, such as those which had united themselves under the constitutional compact. The Democratic party of the United States repeated, in its successful canvass in 1856, the declaration made in numerous previous political contests, that it would "faithfully abide by and uphold the principles laid down in the Kentucky and Virginia resolutions of 1798, and in the report of Mr. Madison to the Virginia Legislature in 1799; and that it adopts those principles as constituting one of the main foundations of its political creed." The principles thus emphatically announced embrace that to which I have already adverted - the right of each State to judge of and redress the wrongs of which it complains. These principles were maintained by overwhelming majorities of the people of all the States of the Union at different elections, especially in the elections of Mr. Jefferson in 1805, Mr. Madison in 1809, and Mr. Pierce in 1852. In the exercise of a right so ancient, so well established, and so necessary for self-preservation, the people of the Confederate States, in their conventions, determined that the wrongs which they had suffered and the evils with which they were menaced required that they should revoke the delegation of powers to the Federal Government which they had ratified in their several conventions. They consequently passed ordinances resuming all their rights as sovereign and Independent States and dissolved their connection with the other States of the Union...


That address totals over 7,800 words, with dozens of references to slavery, with no mentions of the Tenth Amendment, taxes, etc. Also, take note of Davis's stress of the cause of the Civil War, the main sentence of which I shall restate from his address. "As soon, however, as the Northern States that prohibited African slavery within their limits had reached a number sufficient to give their representation a controlling voice in the Congress, a persistent and organized system of hostile measures against the rights of the owners of slaves in the Southern States was inaugurated and gradually extended."

Governor McDonnell has a master's degree and a juris doctor, and is by all accounts a student of history (even if his graduate degrees were obtained from a third tier college). There is no way that he could be ignorant of this issue. He has surely read these documents, or some of them, during his academic life. I read the Texas declaration of secession when I was in high school. If any conservative has ever wondered why African Americans vote 90-plus percent against your party, you need no more instruction. It is your support for the people who fought to keep them in chains, your past defense of segregation, and post-civil rights movement paternalism that has marginalized you and the modern GOP to being a white man's party. You have only yourselves to blame for your own oversight and oblique hatred for the people who kept this country together in one piece.

For the McDonnells, Pauls, and Buchanans, you can have your slaveholder's month, in hell.