May 2009 Archives

One of the worst things about writing a book about recent history is that the goldarned fools just keep making more of it. This is bad enough in any circumstance, but when your subject is the South, which the Ol’Bloviator’s always is, the problem is compounded by the fact every event suggesting one thing is certain to be followed almost immediately by one suggesting just the opposite. For example, here’s what the OB is up against as he struggles to put the finishing touches on a history of the South since World War II. (Yes, dammit! This is the same book he was struggling to finish this time last year. What of it? If you think you can do any better, he’ll be happy to let you try.)

James Young was still in elementary school in 1964 when an earthen dam outside his hometown gave up the bodies of three young civil rights workers and Philadelphia, Mississippi, became an enduring symbol of the savagery that had greeted those who were trying to bring racial justice to a still recalcitrant South. Nearly forty-five years later, last Tuesday to be exact, when Young won the Democratic Primary run off that, in the absence of a Republican opponent, assured he would be the city’s first black mayor, he described his victory as “an atomic bomb of change” for the town of 7,300 that had yet to shed its reputation as a citadel of white racism at its murderous worst. Campaigning against a white opponent on the proverbial shoe-string with no more than a dozen workers and volunteers and unable to afford even yard signs or buttons, Young had won 51.5 percent of the vote from an electorate that was 55 percent white. The key to his win, he believed, lay in his comfort in campaigning in all of the town’s neighborhoods, black or white. Looking back, he insisted, “[t]here was no real negativism in this campaign. . . . There was no door slammed in my face. . . . I even talked to my opponent’s mother.”

Here was an event suggesting that a real change in racial attitudes had finally come to a place where hope for it had once seemed nothing short of foolish, but as is so often the case with the South, the heartening news from Neshoba County was quickly tempered by a jarring reminder of how much resistance to change can be found elsewhere. Five days after James Young’s much-acclaimed breakthrough in Philadelphia, the New York Times Magazine ran a story that revealed how impregnable the inner ramparts of racial exclusion remained for some white southerners. Since 1971, when the public schools were first integrated in the onion-growing “Wiregrass” section of south central Georgia, Montgomery County High School has held only one school-sponsored mixed-race prom, and in keeping with longstanding custom, on May 1, 2009, the “white folks prom” proceeded without incident and without black students, save for a small group who showed up to cheer and snap photos as their gussied-up white classmates made their way inside. The following evening, the “‘black folks’ prom,” which was actually open to white students but attended by only one, also went off without a hitch. Students had planned both events, but neither were held on school property or supported by school funds.

Both white and black students claimed that they wanted an integrated prom, but their repeated efforts toward that end had been stonewalled by school administrators and white parents. According to Timothy Wiggs, student council president and one of 21 black students (out of 59) graduating in 2009, “We just never get anywhere with it.”
Turns out this ain't unheard of elsewhere. Even though the actor Morgan Freeman sprang for a big blowout last year at the first-ever integrated prom in his hometown of Charleston, Mississippi, some of the white parents insisted on staging an alternative event where even heavy tans were frowned upon.

Likewise, Montgomery County white students protested, perhaps a little too much, that that their parents were to blame for this awkward and anachronistic situation. Said one, “We do everything else together. We hang out. We play sports together. We go to class together. I don’t think anybody at our school is racist.” Terra Fountain, a white 2008 graduate who was living with her black boyfriend insisted, “[I]t’s the white parents who say no. . . . They’re like, if you’re going with the black people, I’m not going to pay for it.”

Fountain’s open cohabitation with a black man seemed to indicate that the old public sanctions against sexual intimacy between blacks and whites ain’t much of a “no-no” no more among the teen set in Montgomery County. The same was true of the even more striking story of Skyla Deem, who, escorted by her black boyfriend of eighteen months, Barry Burch, had been the only white student at the black folks prom. Barry admitted he had felt “kind of sick, kind of down” the next evening when Skyla attended the white folks prom without him because “I felt it was a hostile environment,” although Skyla’s selection as senior class president certainly suggested that their relationship bore no particular stigma among their classmates,

Yet, for all the evidence that the age-old taboo against interracial dating and sex might be in tatters among the teeny-boppers, maintaining the fiction was clearly important to a great many white parents. Kera Nobles, a black senior, noted that her white girlfriends would “tell you in a minute, ‘Don’t tell mama who I’m going out with’” because “[t]hey don’t want to get put out of the house.” Segregated proms were not going to stop interracial dating, she insisted, “One night is not going to change it.” Perhaps not, but this “one night” was obviously sufficient to give black students reason to reflect on their relationships, romantic and otherwise, with the white classmates who were partying without them. “My best friend is white,” one of the girls insisted. “She’s in there. She’s real cool, but I don’t understand. If they can be in there, why can’t everybody else?” Another was puzzled because none of her white friends had texted her during the prom. “I’m thinking that these people love me and I love them, but I don’t know. Tonight’s a different story,” she admitted. The color line might seem faded and fuzzy among the young set in Montgomery County most of the time now, but every year when prom season rolls around, there’s no pretending that it isn’t still there.

More than one observer picked up on the striking propensity for self-destruction among those who tried to make sense of the South back in the days when it seemed so hopelessly impervious to reform. Some of these troubled Dixiologists opted for the quick exit by hanging themselves from doorknobs, while others, like Faulkner, took their time and drank their way out. These days, the South torments us mainly by embracing change one minute and slamming the door on it the next. As the ol’ Bloviator can attest, this will still drive you to drink a mite more than you should sometimes, and although the suicide rate is down some among his kind, trust him, the whiplash can be hell.

Y'all [Don't ] Come Back Now, Heah?

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So how would you like for your tombstone to read “Here lies a man who preferred Rush Limbaugh to Colin Powell”? I guess Dick Cheney may think that sounds better than “This fool would shoot you!” I’m not sure many folks would agree, but then, as Dickie C. said about widespread public doubt about the Iraq misadventure, “So?”
Yegads! If turning the micophone over to this malevolent megaturd is the best the Republicans can do, maybe the Dems should split up voluntarily in the interest of preserving our two-party system. I don’t know how it is where you are, but in a recent poll, one-half of the Texas Republicans surveyed (as opposed to only one-third here in left-wing Georgia) indicated they would support secession. To all these soreheads, I say, “Hear! Hear!” Y’all head on out, by all means. That should take some of the pressure off Social Security and Medicare, and, hopefully y’all will find a place more to your liking, somewhere, for example, that even pre-schoolers can pack a Glock if it suits ‘em. Any discussion of kids obviously presumes y’all don’t just outlaw sex altogether, except, of course, for the drop-trou quickies in airport toilets that would be required to keep your politicians happy. Just think, Rush could blare from the speakers all day long, and Michael Savage could offer goose-step instruction in the evenings. You wouldn’t have any trouble with anti-war protestors because with the percentage of draft-dodgers in your crew, you’d never be able to raise an army. One thing’s for sure, any of y’all fantasizing about a second go at Gettysburg should definitely get real. As he did with Vietnam, General Cheney would have to beg off, pleading “other priorities.” Nobody would be very keen on paying taxes, either, of course, but then government is just for poor folks and sissies, and you can always hire private security, right?
Yessir, sounds like it might be a mighty good time to vote with your feet. It’s not as though you didn’t try to warn us about this soft-on-terrorism socialist who not only got himself elected--Didn’t anybody else notice this guy is black? – but depending on whose poll you believe, after nearly four months in office, has an approval rating at or above 60 percent while Brother Cheney’s sits at 18 percent. While we’re talking percentages, Cheney’s approval numbers are only three points shy of the portion of the population currently willing to identify themselves as Republicans. Just to give you a little perspective, there are that many Americans who will actually cop to being liberals, for God’s sake! And now, even the former co-manager of ol’ Johnny Mac’s campaign, that good-looking Huntsman feller from out there in Utah has opted to join the Obama administration as ambassador to China. Has he had it with the Mormons or the right wing of his own party? I’m guessing he’s willing to accept a post that will require him to subsist on a steady diet of eels and carcinogens just so he won’t have to explain why he’s not pursuing the GOP nomination in 2012.
Finally, this just in : As if you needed more evidence that this country has turned its back on your sacred gospel of “what’s-mine-is-mine-and-what’s yours-soon-will-be-too,” a new Rasmussen poll shows one-third of the respondents saying they would actually be willing to pay more taxes so that all Americans could have health insurance. If that ain’t socialism straight out of Russia, then please tell me what is?
Yep, it’s definitely time for you folks to whizz on the fire and holler for the dogs. I’m not sure where you might be headed, but I’m assuming that President Palin will demand a place where she can continue to keep her eye on Russia. At any rate, once you get settled, send us a forwarding address in case somebody asks where all of last fall’s “Real Americans” have gone.

"Keep Sendin' in Them Cards and Letters, Friends!"

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One of the most gratifying things about Cobbloviate, is that as it has limped along over the last few years, it has a attracted a small but loyal following who not only tolerate the Ol’ Bloviator’s tirades and his erratic posting habits but provide some hellaciously good feedback, too good, in fact, to languish down in the “Comments” section. No one has been more stellar in this regard than ol’ JL, who describes himself as a “Linthead Emeritus” and hangs out over there in Huguley, Alabama. Here’s a very rich addendum to my last post regarding the vagaries of the stock market. It comes from someone who knows firsthand whereof he speaks, and, I think it should show those of us who might think we’ve been handled pretty roughly of late what it’s like to be totally 2X4’ed by the market and its would-be meisters.

It seems that JL’s lottery-addicted co-worker “Johnny B.” suddenly got very excited after hearing him telling his insurance agent via phone that his birthday was “1/7/40.”

He went on to say that if a person listened and watched for the signs, God would give you the numbers to play. Johnny B. said that God didn't communicate like we did, in a loud clear voice, but laid things out where we could see them, if we kept our eyes opened.

He called his brother on the cellphone and excitedly told him to hurry and buy a ticket for 1740. He told his brother that the numbers had just jumped up for him.

As he was punching in his brother's phone number, Johnny B. said, "If dis here hits, J, I'm gonna buy you a case of beer." … but the numbers didn't even come close.

When I asked him if he won everyday. He said, "No. Most of the time I read the signs wrong."

I've always felt that the way Wall St. picks stocks is akin to Johnny B.'s voodoo numerology. A hoot owl slips off a limb in the North Woods, and the lumber business stock takes a tumble, not to mention a down turn in the feather-duster industry.

If a corporation lays off 20,000 employees, the investment guys get a hard-on and pimp that company's stock to every horny customer they know.

When those smooth talking Yankees took over West Point Stevens employee retirement plan in 2000, they steered us in the direction of moving all our employee savings into company stock.

Oh, they off-handedly offered some diversity of investment, but most of us old codgers, who could see retirement from our front porch, decided to let our retirement funds remain in company stock.

While we knew various corporate raiders had been gang-raping the company since 1986, and there were troubling questions about WPS's health, we thought we could make it several more years okay.

Bad, bad, bad move. When WPS went bankrupt a few years later, our retirement and savings went up in smoke. Or should I say, lint.

Compared to the trillions Washington is pumping into Wall St. and Detroit, we lost a pittance. However, when you lose everything you had, that mounts up to a heap.

The mega-scavenger, Carl Icahn, who picked the bones of WPS and carried the rotted meat to Pakistan and China, canceled our retirees insurance and defaulted on our "vested" pensions, which were under the old-time West Point Mfg. retirement plan and separate from the new, slick, modern, sophisticated stock retirement accounts.

Be advised, "vested" doesn't mean what you think it does; not if a career swindler, who is lauded by the Wall St. Journal, and gets blow jobs from "60 Minutes", grabs a-holt of the money.

The Pension Guarantee folks took over the old mill pensions, which were cut off in 1968, and we get maybe a third of what we were entitled to under that ancient plan. People who came to work after 1968 got zero.

So basically, we old lintheads are living entirely on Social Security. Which leads me to the point I've been trying to reach through the dark back alleys of this email:

Can you imagine what a fix we would be in if people had listened to that retarded bastard from Texas who tried his damndest to deliver Social Security, bound and blindfolded, into the sweaty palms of Wall Street?

I heard that JL! I and the Missus are very fortunate to have an extremely able and honest advisor who puts his clients’ interests first. It’s good thing, too, because neither the market itself nor most of the folks constantly trying to manipulate it have any more conscience than a teen-aged boy looking for a good time after the prom.

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