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A conversation with my friend Keith

Part of being a librarian is that you talk. You talk a lot. Much like bartenders and taxi cab drivers, people unburden themselves to you. You become part priest, part counselor, part sounding board.

One of my patrons is a very good man named Keith. I met him years ago when he would come in every weekend and ask how President Obama was doing in the Gallup polling. For several weeks I would perform this task, trying to figure out if he was happy or saddened by his sub-50% numbers. I don’t quite remember how we outed each other, but we discovered that we were kindred souls in our admiration for this president, and have been fast friends since.

He came into the library this week, and as usual, he sat down at the reference desk and we began our kaffeeklatsch, sans the coffee. Our conversations range widely, but politics are always the center of them.

Of course, we were over the moon over the wonderful week we and the President had with ACA and marriage equality. And then the conversation turned to that buffoon, Donald Trump.

“I can’t believe that Trump is doing so well in the polls,” he said.

“I can. He’s the only GOP candidate who’s not hiding his racism. He’s speaking to the GOP program.”

“Oh, now, you don’t really believe that GOP leaders are racist, do you?”

“Of course I do. Look at their utterances.”

“But the intelligentsia is horrified at what Trump is doing.”

“Look Keith, here’s the thing: in their heart of hearts, the ‘smart people’ might be aghast at the naked racism of the base. But, since Nixon, they made the calculation that kowtowing to that racism was the only way they could even hope to stand against the Democrats. And now, after 50 years, they have nothing else. No Republican can win a primary without pandering to that racism. And Democrats won’t let the survivor run away from what he had to do to secure the nomination.”

“They created a monster which is eating them.”

“And I feel no sympathy for them.”

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It’s Not The Word

It’s not the word. It’s the thought behind the word.

It’s not the word. It’s the actions taken informed by the word

Don’t think that, as Piers Morgan opines, banning the word will ban the thought.

Banning the word is merely being polite. But the same people who wouldn’t dare use the word in public believe in everything the word implies in private.

President Obama used the word “nigger” in his interview with Marc Maron, in a discourse on how racism isn’t solved.

Bill Hemmer of Fox News clutched his pearls because of the President’s use of that word. Us white folks have been taught to avoid that word, and here is Pres. Obama using it.

Like slave owners weren’t presidents.

Like the man who pushed through the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts didn’t drop it as easily as I drop “fuck”, and with as little thought.

As if a black man, who happens to be the nation’s first black chief executive, needs to be policed by white journalists on how to discuss race.

Remember, Chuck Todd said Pres. Obama can’t be “neutral” on matters of race. Because to the white commentariat, that patina of neutrality absolves them from confronting the country’s original sin.

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A Mass for the Dead


For the dead, we say, “Amen”. And for the living.
There are too many dead, and the living are riven.

Every day, a new horror, a new loss of innocence,
And the night-dimmed tide swallows us.

There is no innocence; this is a fallen world,
And men of evil revel in destruction.

When is it enough? It’s never enough.
Violence has an army of reasons,

And peace seems to be an idea
Honored more in the breach than the observance.

This is not your heritage; it is evil.
This is not your freedom; it is slavery.

Do that which you would have done unto you;
Flee from that which is harmful to all.

The answer is there, to be teased out
Of life, hard life, the only life we have.

Remember the dead, for they speak from the earth,
Pleading, “Let us not be in vain.”






#Charleston terrorism open thread



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On chasing the “Archie Bunker voter”

In case it hasn’t been made painfully clear, the Democrats seeking to succeed Barack Obama as president have no time for his coalition.

First, Hillary Clinton, the presumptive nominee, urges the President to “take advice” from Nancy Pelosi on the TPP trade deal. You know, just like her husband did when he was in charge. Oh, except, Mr. Clinton didn’t. Call me confused, but I thought that, aside from sheer incompetence or malfeasance, the members of a president’s party were supposed to take leadership from him, not nip at his heels over every initiative.

Then, of course, we had Senator Bernie Sanders opining yesterday that black Americans needed to stop voting based on race. The sheer audacity of this statement is mind-boggling. There would have been no Democratic wave of 2006, or two Obama landslides, without the African American vote. And these same African Americans, before the arrival of Barack Obama, voted in almost lock-step for every tired-ass white Democratic candidate which made it through the primary meat grinder. Were blacks voting based on race when they voted for Al Gore or John Kerry?

That was insulting enough. But that was just the shot. Here’s the chaser. Sen. Sanders then went on to say that Democrats had to regain the “working class vote”.

Let that sink in. A sitting United States senator, caucusing with Democrats, running for the Democratic presidential nomination, an avowed socialist, made a distinction between black votes and working class votes. In his mind, the two are mutually exclusive, not overlapping in a Venn diagram. Blacks over there, working class over here.

President Obama showed Democrats how to win. And it wasn’t by slavishly pining after the “working class vote”.

Let’s call that vote for what it is: white voters who left the Democratic coalition in droves after the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act, and have stayed away ever since then, generation after generation giving its allegiance to the GOP.

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RIP, Beau Biden


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Night Owl Chat – Yes, the First Lady is more awesome than you

Chat on, night owls.

(Now, dammit, where’s my gym membership card…)







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