Southern Mythology regarding the Civil War

There is a persistent myth held by many southerners that the reason for secession of the southern states was “states rights” rather than slavery.

Here is a link to the secession declarations of Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas.  All four clearly state that the attitude and actions of the northern states toward slavery is the precipitating cause of the secession.  The South Carolina declaration even goes so far as to say that states do not have a right to prohibit slavery within their borders by ignoring the Fugitive Slave Act.  So much for “state’s rights”.

No matter what a person’s attitude is toward modern regional politics, perpetrating clearly nonsensical historical myths doesn’t serve any good purpose.
So if you’re doing it, stop it.

When will we southerners stop falling for cornpone buffoonery?

I’m about as southern as it’s possible to be.  My family landed in Virginia in the late 1600s, worked their way southward through the Carolinas, and entered North Georgia in 1825, as a result of the removal of the Creek Indians, and the subsequent land lottery.  My accent is thick enough that I’m sometimes incomprehensible to people from other regions.

Yet when I see an interview on the national news, and realize the person being interviewed has a southern accent, I brace myself and wait for some backwards, reactionary, flat earther or thinly disguised racist nonsense.  Thankfully it doesn’t always come, but the southerner says something bizarre often enough that I would never place odds against it.

This morning I was reading through the Georgia Pundit newsletter, and found that two GOP members of the Georgia House, Jason Spencer of Woodbine, and Charles Gregory, of Kennesaw, have introduced a nullification bill, declaring that Georgia is not subject to federal law.

As entertaining as this might be at the local League of the South meeting, for a serious legislative body to have clownish bills like this presented makes Georgia a laughingstock.  So in honor of those two fine denizens of the cornpone red rubber nose circuit, I present this clip from the 1940’s radio  comic Senator Claghorn, in hopes that southern politicians, especially Georgia politicians, will take heed and stop behaving like buffoons.

Sorting out the Douglas County GOP racial kerfuffle

The Georgia GOP, like the national GOP would really like to shake the widely held observation that they are the party of older white men.  They don’t want to make changes in their attitudes toward minorities, but they’d like to present a better public relations face.  They would love to stamp out the White House watermelon patch post cards, Obama food stamp cartoons, witch doctor cartoons and t-shirts, and racist conspiracy theories which swirl around in the GOP base like an uncontrollable maelstrom.

At the same time RNC chair Rince Priebus was meeting with African-American Republicans in Atlanta, the Douglas County GOP was denying a seat at the GOP’s state convention to the chair of the Georgia Black Republican Council.  The incident is summarized in this article, with updates, from Political Insider, Jim Galloway’s column and blog at the AJC

A short summary is that on a 3-2 racially split vote, the Douglas County GOP board denied Michael McNeely a seat at the convention.  Due to the ensuing embarrassment and “bad optics”, as someone called it, the state party overruled the vote of the Douglas County GOP (the details on how this was done are not clear to me at this time).

Douglas County is a county on the verge of turning blue.  The non-Hispanic white population of the county is in decline, and has dropped to 48.5 % as of the 2010 census.  Furthermore Obama won the county in 2008 and 2012.  The county is on the verge of becoming solidly Democratic.  The changing demographics combined with behavior like this from the GOP will likely speed up this transition and make it irreversible.

Fact check of Steve Stockman’s State of the Union fact checking

jecarter4:

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Georgia Gwinnett College and Progressive Georgians

A story ran in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution this morning entitled Tough Times at Georgia Gwinnett College.

As a Georgian I saw nothing unusual about the story.  The weak commitment to education of the Republican majority in Georgia is leading to devastating cuts in yet another institute of higher learning here.

What interested me was the comments below the article.  One commenter blamed the cuts on “the underprivileged”.  Another comment blamed it on immigrants.

Progressives in Georgia absolutely have to take an in-your-face approach to both the cuts themselves, and the bigotry which gets stirred up when the issue arises.

Education is how people advance, and the Democratic Party of Georgia and progressives here have got to fight and roll back the Libertarian nonsense which puts forth the notion that only those from families who are already affluent enough to afford it should be able to attend college.

College needs to be cheap and it needs to be high quality.

We need to be contacting our legislators, even those of us in conservative districts, and energetically advocating for not only maintaining the current levels of funding for education at all levels, but improving the system.

As for the xenophobic and racist comments often accompanying the sort of article at the link above — answer them directly. The article made no mention of undocumented immigrants, yet a couple of posters jumped in to blame Georgia’s crappy commitment to education on immigrants.

We need to start pushing back on this nonsense in a big scale way.  I’m not saying we need to be shrill (in fact we shouldn’t be), or make pie-in-the-sky demands (we should learn the issues and figure out how each proposal gets funded).  But if we don’t start fighting why are we even here?

If you are reading this, and you are a Georgia citizen, I ask you to do two things which will only take a few minutes.  Go to the link above and leave a comment on the article.  And go to the website of your state legislator and leave them a comment expressing concern (or outrage, take your pick) over the cuts to Georgia Gwinnett College.

Georgia Teaparty rebranding and Karl Rove

Get ready for the Tea Party vs Rove cage match.  The Tea Partier on this video seems to be taking the advice of Redstate, and fleeing the tea party label, though.



The Toxicity of the Tea Party Label

It’s clear the Tea Party is a damaged brand.  The Tea Party movement pushed candidates in GOP primaries who, to the horror of the Republican establishment, suffered a humiliating string of losses.

Not only that, the number of people identifying themselves as Tea Party has dropped to around 8% of the population.

It’s gotten so bad that Karl Rove has set up a fund to fight the Tea Party in primary races, the conservative website Redstate has proposed dropping the Tea Party name, and local tea party leaders  are resigning from Tea Party groups to join organizations with other brands.

The Redstate article, entitled  Tea Party 2.0: Focus on the 4 R’s & Fight Back, actually makes some good observations, although the solutions are somewhat hilarious. 

For instance, the article points out:

To make matters worse, the Tea Party movement has an attrition problem called age.

All-too-often, Tea Party meeting attendees are grandparents fighting to save America’s future for their grandchildren. Yet, the grandchildren are nowhere to be found. Why?

The solution proposed by the article?

If you’re fighting for your kids’ future, get your kids involved—and have them bring some friends.  

This has hilarious possibilities for comic awkwardness at family gatherings.  Imagine being a twenty-something, and your grandparents take you aside and ask “We’d like for you to come to our meeting of angry septuagenarians ranting about Obamacare and Agenda 21 over Chik-Fil-A sandwiches.”

The Tea Party is, after all, in aggregate, the crazy old racist grandparent or aunt posting chain emails about conspiracy theories on facebook.  The twenty year old is the young embarrassed relative who doesn’t want to unfriend the crazy older relative, but wishes they’d find another hobby.

The Tea Party was brought on by a very specific point in U.S. history, and with the passing of that point, there is no turning back the clock.

It was the point at which the first African-American president was elected ,but the changing demographics hadn’t yet reached the point where the new national progressive coalition could withstand a fierce backlash in an offyear election season.  It was the last gasp of an older generation of conservatives.  The attrition by age isn’t a symptom.  It’s the root of the disease.  There is a good reason why statistically few young people were involved in the Tea Party, and why inviting them won’t work.  The country is changing, and the Tea Party movement represents the past.

I suspect that until the gerrymandering successfully carried out by the GOP erodes by the relentless force of changing demographics, outbursts and backlashes by the Tea Party and it’s spin-offs will continue to have an effect for a few years.  But overall, it’s a movement in a death spiral.

How important is the issue of who pays for GA senator’s lunch?

This is a re-post, which I sent to my generic blog by mistake.

I have to admit mixed feelings about the news that Republicans in the Georgia Senate have asked lobbyists to pay for their committee chairs’ weekly lunches.

On the one hand it really seems to be just a modest lunch. On the other hand it makes sort of a joke of the attempts to reign in lobbyist supplied perks.

Frankly, if the $173 stipend for things like lunches the legislators already get isn’t enough, I’d rather it be transparently raised.  It’s better for the public to pay expenses of legislators, and know what those expenses are, than for a new system of smaller, but more frequent, lobbyist provided perks to be implemented.

Why did Bill Heath hide behind a printer?

This could have a more general title like “Why do politicians have bizarre and stupid responses to questions or criticism?”

Bill Heath is a Georgia state senator for district 31, which covers all of Haralson and Polk counties and part of Paulding county.  The area is northwest of Atlanta, on the Alabama line.

I have no reason to believe that Heath is stupider than average for a Georgia Republican politician.  Yet he hid behind a printer to escape questioning from a local reporter after sending out a bizarre form email in response to emails from Georgia citizens.

If you haven’t followed the whole story, click on the links above to come up to speed.  What I’m going to peruse here is Heath’s responses, and what might have been a more rational response to both the Georgia citizens who sent the emails, and to the reporter.  I’m going to put aside the politics, and just focus on his potential sane and intelligent (or at least not stupid) range of options.

First the emails: A better approach (and one not as likely to attract reporters) would have been to have a robo-message stating something to the effect:

"Thank you for your email.  I happen to disagree with you.  Chip Rogers is a fine man, etc"

This would have been both predictable (often good in a canned response), and final.

Once the reporter arrived, assuming the email I outlined was used, Heath could have said: “I don’t have but a minute, but I stand by the email. Chip Rogers is a fine man … etc”

But assuming the actual, crazy email that he sent was already out in the wild, a partial walkback would be in order:

"I regret some of the wording of my response, but I think Chip Rogers is a fine man, and I was inundated with form emails and responded a bit too … etc"

Of course, instead, we were treated to Heath hiding behind a printer, something that somehow lacks gravitas and dignity.

Why did he do it?  Well, my own view is that the GOP in Georgia has become both arrogant and a little on the crazy side, so Heath was behaving true to form.  The question is, how long do the voters in Haralson, Polk, and Paulding counties want to be represented by a senator who is, to say the least, somewhat odd and unstable.

Some things are just too funny to describe effectively.  This is GA senator Bill Heath exhibiting the dignity appropriate for a GA Republican.