Category Archives: Sedition Watch

Kavanaugh Wrap-Up: The Wheat from the Chaff

Too many media people around this past week’s supreme Court hearings wasted their energy doing horse race and atmosphere coverage. Political sportscasters, I call them; and pretty bush league at that.

Their frame was: the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh (hereafter “K“) is a done deal, so all that matters is the hullabaloo, that and the shadow horse race preview of the 2020 Democratic presidential contest. Which meant excessive attention to whether aspirants Kamala Harris or Cory Booker managed to draw some blood and get a boost from a bombshell revelation.

Senators Cory Booker,left, and Kamala Harris, right, peering over the parapet.

But the pair, it was reported, didn’t bring any real ordnance, and neither came out with a 2020 home run. That’s true enough, and for the media political sportscasters, this was all that mattered. And that’s utterly mistaken. Continue reading Kavanaugh Wrap-Up: The Wheat from the Chaff

McCain’s best “Maverick” Performance: as a witness against torture

I have to start here by repeating a caveat, best stated by Esquire‘s Charles Pierce:

“It has been fashionable for a while now to place McCain somehow above politics; the “maverick” thing was based on a sparse list of examples. There was the campaign finance law that he championed with Russ Feingold, a law that lies now in ruins because of judges for whom John McCain loyally voted. He campaigned vigorously to give the president a line-item veto until a Supreme Court led by William Rehnquist explained forcefully that such a measure was hilariously unconstitutional. He thoroughly supported Reagan’s adventurism in Central America, was a protege of Henry Kissinger, got snagged in the Keating 5 corruption and became a campaign-finance reformer only after skating on that episode more cleanly than the other four miscreants, one of whom was John Glenn. He was a reliable Republican vote on every nomination and every policy that evidenced the Republican Party’s slow slide into madness and chaos and he was unable and not a talented enough politician to stop it.

All true, sadly. Yet Pierce, who differed sharply with McCain on Continue reading McCain’s best “Maverick” Performance: as a witness against torture

Civility, Schmivility: A Quaker Dialectic, Then & Now

Debates over “civility” are nothing new for Quakers. And other people.

The last time I was thrown out of a retail establishment, it was a screen printing shop in Fayetteville NC, near Fort Bragg. I came in on a  warm day in 2007, wanting some tee shirts made for a conference being planned by Quaker House. The shirts were to be black, and the wording something like this:

I handed over a CD with the image on it, and the guy at the desk put down his cigarette & slid it into a computer. I couldn’t see the screen when the image came up; but his widened eyes told me.

He stood up as the CD slid back out of the slot. “Hey, Sarge,” he called, and carried it into a back room.

“Sarge” was out in a couple moments; likely retired Army. He didn’t throw the CD at me, but dropped it on the counter and made clear in a loud voice that anybody at Guantanamo or what we were just learning to call “black sites” was a goddam terrorist who deserved whatever they got, and that he was not about to print such treason as this on any of his shirts.

I didn’t quibble. But I called the next shop on my list before I went in, to see if they too had any objection. The shirts got done. And I didn’t think til later about how the issue of who was being uncivil here could be fitted into the “It’s Complicated” category:

Was it “Sarge,” who at best might have considered my image some very bad joke that didn’t play; or was it I, who brought such a patently offensive message into his patriotic establishment?

Or consider this image: Continue reading Civility, Schmivility: A Quaker Dialectic, Then & Now

Is 45 Making Jesus Great Again?

For a long time I’ve felt that much of the deepest internal struggles in American culture have religious roots.

Sure, there’s also politics, class, race, gender and empire involved as well. But take off your Bubble-colored glasses and look closer, and religion pops up in most of these contexts too.

Making Jesus Great again?

Further, one passage, Romans 13:1-7, has long been close to the center of these conflicts. It equates worldly rulers, and  their use of “the sword”, with God’s divine order. and has long been used to support whichever ruler a preacher most favors.

Continue reading Is 45 Making Jesus Great Again?

The Independent Report on the Charlottesville Riots

 

 

A long read.
[But there’s a much longer version if desired.]

These excerpts from the full report, linked below, have been compiled to make the substance of it more accessible.

NOTE the principal author of this 220-page report is Timothy J. Heaphy, of a major law firm Hunton & Williams. The firm was retained by the City of Charlottesville to conduct an exhaustive investigation and produce this report.
From Heaphy’s biography on the firm’s website:

Prior to joining Hunton & Williams LLP, Tim was the United States Attorney for the Western District of Virginia, serving as the chief law enforcement officer responsible for prosecuting federal crime and defending the United States in civil litigation.

During his tenure as United States Attorney, Tim served on the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee, advising the Attorney General on emerging policy issues, He has testified before Congressional committees several times on issues ranging from guns to synthetic drugs to sentencing reform. Continue reading The Independent Report on the Charlottesville Riots

Richard Spencer, U. of Florida & Free Speech: All Winners. But It Was Ugly.

— And I can’t forget Florida Governor Rick Scott: he did what it took. So did UF President W. Kent Fuchs; and some others, we’ll get to shortly. [NOTE: Update on shooting arrests below.]

[BTW: I wasn’t in Gainesville, this commentary is based on reports from several respected media who were on the scene, especially: the Orlando Sentinel; the Miami Herald; the Gainesville Sun; and the Washington Post.]

It’s early, but the speech by Richard Spencer at the University of Florida on October 19 could turn out to be an important precedent, and  a “teachable moment” for American colleges.

One part of this precedent is that on a 52,000 student campus, the vast majority agreed with leaders of many stripes, and stayed away.

A Miami Herald column by Fabiola Santiago put it well:

      Without an audience, Richard Spencer is just another racist nobody.
      He’s made a name for himself out of stoking prejudice and he counts on stirring enough emotion to draw crowds and publicity and keep his hateful gig rolling along.
     There’s only one antidote to this kind of modern-day creep: Don’t make his ruse worth his while.
     Let him speak, but don’t reward him with your presence.
    Stay home.
   Play some Beatles.
   Imagine.

Richard Spencer, at the University of Florida

But we don’t have to imagine: in fact, the auditorium where Spencer spoke was no more than half-full.

Further, nobody on campus had even invited him: as a public, tax-supported  institution, UF rents some of its facilities to public customers; Spencer’s manager simply booked the room. Judges have rightly issued orders upholding such public access for most speech events. Continue reading Richard Spencer, U. of Florida & Free Speech: All Winners. But It Was Ugly.

The Spirit of the Klan Haunts the 2016 Election

The Spirit of the Klan Haunts the 2016 Election

Let’s talk about building a wall to keep out immigrants; it’s a thing in the current campaign. But it’s not a new idea. How about this earlier version?

kkk-wall-vs-immigration

The image is from 1928, and a bit fuzzy. Note the three faces peeking over the wall: the “Red” is for eastern Europeans & Jews; “Rum” is for Irish, as deemed to be all drunkards, and stupid; and at left, the one with the big pointed hat is the Catholic church, as the force behind immigrants from Italy and other predominantly Catholic countries (especially Irish again).

Today the wall would be on the Mexican border, and focus on keeping out Latinos and Muslims. But the image is, to me, eerily familiar. Continue reading The Spirit of the Klan Haunts the 2016 Election

Dog Days True Quaker Stories: The Party That Went On Too Long

The Party That Went On Too Long
A True Story for the Anniversary of Richard Nixon’s Resignation

Seat belts were only for airplanes when I was nine, in 1951. So one day I leaned forward over the back of the front seat, to ask a question of my mother, who was driving.

The radio was on, and a news report had just finished. The announcer had said something about the Communist Party. 

i-led-3-lives

This party had been mentioned before, in other news reports I had begun, just barely, to notice. We had no TV yet, so it was all scattered words without pictures, which gave rise to my question:

“Mommy,” I said, “how can a party go on so long? Continue reading Dog Days True Quaker Stories: The Party That Went On Too Long

2016: Politics “When The Sky Darkens”

2016: Politics “When The Sky Darkens”

Most years, I just  put up with politics: it’s as necessary as taking out the trash, but only about as interesting.
Sure I have my preferences, and occasionally a candidate is exciting, for awhile. But usually I’m eager to get it over with, and go back to what feels like real life.
This year is different. I’m following the campaigns as closely as I can, with a morbid, horrified fascination.
 The NY Times‘s Roger Cohen gets at the reason why: Democracies can die.
2016: Politics "When The Sky Darkens"
Many parts of our former republic, including civil liberties, are already close to catatonic; and profoundly anti-democratic forces (the secret security state, the war machine, vote suppression) are already loose, some beyond our control (which is why we mostly prefer not to think about them). 
But all this could get much, much worse, depending on how this political year turns out.

Cohen comes at the 2016 campaign from the BTDT (“Been There, Done That”) perspective, of those who have seen — and lived– this movie before.

It’s also a movie which is being remade today in more and more corners of their continent.

And What about Ours?

Let Roger Cohen say it: Continue reading 2016: Politics “When The Sky Darkens”

Anti-Disestablishmentarianism: The Word for Southern Marriage Holdouts

Anti-Disestablishmentarianism: The Word for Southern Marriage Holdouts
Do kids still joke about learning to spell “anti-disestablishentarianism”?
I used to think it was a fake, something made up, like Mary Poppins’s “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”

But no! It was real. And in fact, I just realized that TODAY, for the very first time ever, I can use the term in a piece of factual writing, in its actual meaning.
Because that’s what going on in a few holdouts spots across the American South: fits of Anti-Dis-Establishmentarianism.

keep-calm-and-get-off-my-antidisestablishmentarianism
Continue reading Anti-Disestablishmentarianism: The Word for Southern Marriage Holdouts