Browsing the archives for the American History category.


Who’s Really Responsible for the Toddler Invasion

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American History, Congress, Immigration, Obama Administration

Two articles to read together today — one is from the New York Times editorial board

The revised legislation sought to appease the hard-liners, who were insisting on swiftly expelling migrant children but also intent on killing the Obama administration’s program to halt the deportations of young immigrants known as Dreamers. Tea Party members believe, delusionally, that the program, called DACA, has some connection to the recent surge of child migrants, who would never qualify for it. On Friday night, the House passed a bill that dragged immigration reform so far to the right that it would never become law. …

…The Senate’s attempt to address the border crisis, meanwhile, is also dead — filibustered by Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama. Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican who engineered the House revolt, was exultant. Nothing will happen there until September, if then.

Meanwhile, the border crisis is still a crisis and people are suffering. The Border Patrol and refugee programs will run short of money for aiding and processing traumatized children. Immigration courts will still be overloaded, due process will continue to be shortchanged or denied. Because House Republicans killed a comprehensive reform bill that passed the Senate more than a year ago, the larger immigration system, choked by obsolete laws, backlogs and bureaucratic breakdowns, still awaits repairs.

Again, it’s important to understand that the Right’s carping about “Dreamers” is a red herring straw man on steroids. The law they claim is responsible for the border crisis does not apply to people crossing the border after June 2012.  Meanwhile, the Right refuses to address the law that does apply, signed by President G.W. Bush, that says these children cannot be deported without a hearing. But Republicans in Congress refuse to provide money to help speed up the hearings; they want to ignore the law and just deport the children. And then they call President Obama a lawless tyrant.

The NY Times editorial is as good a capsule version of where we are with immigration as I’ve found.  Meanwhile, A.W. Gaffney explains who really is responsible for the instability in Central America that is driving so many to take refuge here.

But why is the region so underdeveloped, why is poverty so entrenched, and why has the colonial legacy of inequality proven so resistant to social and political change? Though the situation is admittedly complex, the dismal state of affairs in Central America is in no small part the result of the failure of social democratic and left-of-center governments to maintain power and enact socioeconomic change; this failure, in turn, is sadly (in part) the consequence of the ironic “success” of U.S. foreign policy.

A pattern of U.S. interference with the democratic processes in these Central American countries goes back at least to the 1930s and has continued nearly to the present day. In other words, the U.S. persistently has seen to it that popularly and democratically elected left-leaning leaders were replaced — violently, if necessary –by right-wing despots. And this has a whole lot to do with why these countries are dysfunctional now.

Looking at Congress today, one might argue the U.S. finally is doing to itself what it did to Guatemala — make it an ungovernable mess.  We don’t learn.

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Little Boys With Big Toys

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American History, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

Today the war between self-appointed “militia” and the BLM continues with a protest of the closing (in 2007) of Recapture Canyon, Utah, to motorized vehicles. Today a bunch of spoiled brats with big senses of entitlement plan to ride around Recapture Canyon on ATVs in the name of “freedom.” The issue with the area is that it is full of archeological sites, including some nearly intact Pueblo dwellings, and the ATVs were smashing things, which is why the BLM made it off limits to ATVs. Here’s a video made in 2010 that shows what the area is like:

(Update: Saturday’s Illegal Cliven Bundy-Endorsed ATV Rally Runs Through Sacred American Indian Sites)

As soon as the BLM said people had to stop riding ATVs in Recapture Canyon, the Spoiled Brat Militia, also called the Little Boys With Big Toys, made riding ATVs in Recapture Canyon a Big Deal Cause. Never mind that Utah is this huge sparsely populated state with who knows how many trails to ride on; if they can’t ride through Recapture canyon and smash up artifacts at will they are being Oppressed.

A fellow who loves the canyon named Don Peacock wrote,

One immediate consequence of the illegal ATV event is the cancellation of a well-planned trip for veterans co-sponsored by the BLM and the Sierra Club. I was to be a partner in this invaluable veterans’ program and had intended to address the vets at Sand Island, 20 miles south of Blanding, on the day following the ATV trip. Many of the veterans are, like myself, disabled from combat, with service-related trauma both physical and psychic. Native American medicine men were to prepare sweat lodges, along with traditional healing ceremonies. Navaho war veterans, whose ancestors were forced off these lands and fought in great numbers in our country’s foreign battles, had planned to assist the veterans healing program. I was especially enthusiastic to participate in the vets program because of the Navajo and the quality of the leadership of both BLM and Sierra Club outreach personnel. One of them wrote this on April 24:

“Due to the potential risk of an illegal ATV ride on BLM lands conflicting with our Cedar Mesa trek, we are postponing the event until October of this year. While the spiritual side of the event could be affected by the ATV ride, there is also the potential safety risk to BLM staff and trip participants due to the recent hostile atmosphere in the West surrounding these events.”

This great healing event for veterans has been pushed aside by a few ATV advocates insistent on illegally riding their silly toys. What a missed opportunity.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports:

Fed up with federal control over lands their families have used for generations, about 30 people on ATVs on Saturday drove into Recapture Canyon, a nearby trove of prehistoric sites the Bureau of Land Management closed to motorized use seven years ago.

San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman, acting as a private citizen, organized the event, which started with a rally in Blanding’s Centennial Park, to protest what he and supporters call federal “overreach” into local jurisdiction. Prompting the protest is their anger with what they say is the BLM’s failure to process San Juan County’s applications for ATV rights-of-way in Recapture, which is filled with Native America prehistoric sites.

It’s federal land; there is no “local jurisdiction” and never has been. These guys are destroying things that belong to all of us.

… there was little sympathy from environmental, hunting and preservation groups, as well as tribal members, who claim an ancestral affiliation with the Native Americans who inhabited the canyon 1,000 years ago. Critics say ATV enthusiasts have themselves to blame for the closure by building an unauthorized trail over archaeological sites that harbors middens, kivas, farming plots and cooking areas.

Vehicle traffic accelerates erosion of intact deposits under the routes, which can help reveal how prehistoric people thrived in this arid landscape, but only if studied in proper scientific context, according to Jerry Spangler of the Colorado Plateau Archaeological Alliance.

“Damage to archaeological sites is permanent and the information about our collective past is then lost forever,” Spangler said. “It is sad that irreplaceable treasures of importance to all Americans would be sacrificed on the altar of anti-government fervor. It is worse that protesters would be so blinded to their own insensitivity as to what others consider to be sacred treasures of their past.”

They don’t care about anybody but themselves and their “right” to ride around in noisy, smelly vehicles and ruin things for everyone else. Little boys with big toys.

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Pete Seeger, 1919-2014

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American History

A good song reminds us what we’re fighting for.”

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A New Reagan Myth?

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American History

I’ve seen the claim that Saint Ronald of Blessed Memory was opposed to military interventions crop up here and there, and I don’t believe I have heard this one until recently — Dave Weigel reports:

Robert Costa goes inside Rand Paul’s campaign to block a Syria resolution.

His team is eager to cast Paul as an heir to Ronald Reagan, who, they argue, was frequently reluctant to involve the U.S. military in foreign civil wars. “It’s about reclaiming the party from hawks and putting us back in the mode of Reagan,” says a Paul source. “As we do that, we want to help him, so we’re pushing back really hard against the isolationism chatter. That’s not what he’s about; he’s about non-intervention and the national interest.”

Waving the Reagan banner to make a case for realpolitik is, of course, totally consistent—Reagan would speak ringingly of human rights and in the next breath re-emphasize that the “human rights first” Carter strategy was a disaster.

That His Blessedness was opposed to interventions really is news to me, and not what I remember. There was, for example, that Libya thing that Saint Ronnie began in 1981 —

Libya refused to be a proper Middle East client state of Washington. Its leader, Muammar el-Qaddafi, was uppity. He would have to be punished. U.S. planes shot down two Libyan planes in what Libya regarded as its air space. The U. S . also dropped bombs on the country, killing at least 40 people, including Qaddafi’s daughter. There were other attempts to assassinate the man, operations to overthrow him, a major disinformation campaign, economic sanctions, and blaming Libya for being behind the Pan Am 103 bombing without any good evidence.

Yeah, that’s what I remember. And then there was Lebanon — The U.S. was part of a multinational force formed in 1982 as “peacekeepers” in a civil war in Lebanon, so this wasn’t just a U.S. action. But as I recall Saint Ronnie was all gung ho about it until that little incident in 1983 when 241 American servicemen were killed in a barracks bombing. Kinda makes Benghazi seem like small potatoes, don’t it? Anyway, Saint Ronald lost his interest in Lebanon after that.

Then … on to Granada! Truly, that military action caused the American people to stand up and say, WTF?

And do we want to talk about Nicaragua and Reagan’s “freedom fighters,” the Contras? I’d call that an intervention by proxy.

This image of Ronald Reagan, Man of Peace and Restraint, seems at odds with the older view of him as the Great Serious Man with his hand on the nuclear trigger who scowled at the USSR and said, “Make my day.” Thereby bringing about the end of history, or something. I guess the real political genius of Reagan is that the Right can evoke his blessed name to bolster any position they want bolstered, even if it has nothing to do with what he actually did.

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Power of Music

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American History

I’m shamelessly copying what Anne Laurie did in a post this morning. But for some reason, this Joan Baez cover of a Woody Guthrie song has been running through my head the past few days, anyway —

The song is about a California plane crash that killed 28 Mexican farmworkers in 1948. The farmworkers were then buried in a mass grave without being identified. More than six decades later, a writer named Tim Z. Hernandez, partly inspired by the song, did a lot of detective work and identified the people in the grave. This week a large gravestone listing the names was placed on the grave, and the song was sung as part of the ceremony.

I’m sure this song was on a Joan Baez album I bought sometime in the 1970s, and I always liked it, but for some reason I never connected it to a real event. Anyway — Woody Guthrie was a great man. Just sayin’.

Here’s another version, with Arlo G. and Emmylou Harris.

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The Great March Plus 50

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American History

It’s been 50 years since the historic voters’ rights march in Washington.

Rep. John Lewis spoke 50 years ago, and he spoke again today.

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President Obama and a Poignant Anniversary

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American History, Obama Administration

The President made a powerful statement on race in America today. In the wake of the tragic Zimmerman verdict,

Mr. Obama eloquently rebutted those — like Republican Congressman Andy Harris with his dismissive “get over it” remark on Tuesday — who said that the verdict should have ended discussion of the case, especially talk about race and gun laws.

“Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago,” Mr. Obama said, adding that “it’s important to recognize that the African-American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away.”

He said there are “very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store” or “the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off.”

“That,” he said, “includes me.”

The full transcript is here. See also Why Obama Decided To Speak Out On Race And The Zimmerman Verdict.

It so happens today is the 150th anniversary of the assault on Fort Wagner by the 54th Massachusetts regiment, which you might remember was portrayed in the film Glory a few years back. The 54th Massachusetts was the first African-American regiment organized in the North to fight for the Union. The 54th suffered nearly 45 percent casualties at Fort Wagner, but gained immortality.

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Vicksburg Is Liberated!

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American History

It’s the 150th anniversary of the resolution of the Vicksburg campaign. I only wish we could round up General Grant and the boys and send them to liberate some other places, like maybe Kansas.

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150 Years Ago

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American History

On this date in 1863, in Gettysburg — Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood attacks th Devil’s Den. The 15th and 47th Alabama regiments stormed up Big Round Top, only to be told they had to take Little Round Top. And there they were routed by the 20th Maine, under the command of Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. Horrific fighting in the Peach Orchard and the Wheat Field cost many lives, but the day ended with the Confederates having gained little for their trouble.

Be sure to read “The Battle to Gain 200 Seconds” about the sacrifice of 1st Minnesota and “A Regiment Is Sacrificed at Gettysburg” about the 134th New York.

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Edward Koch, 1924-2013

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American History

Arrived at Pearly Gates asking, “How’d I do?

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