General Colin Powell (1937-2021)

octogenarian with multiple myeloma

Colin PowellThe first substantial story about the death of Colin Powell that I saw appeared in Common Dreams. “Colin Powell, Who Helped George W. Bush Lie Nation Into Iraq War, Dead at 84.”

Further: “It’s crucial to remember just how important Colin Powell was to selling the Iraq War, and how deliberately he used his public credibility to boost the lies that pushed us into the war. That is his biggest legacy.”

Certainly, as someone who was vigorously active in opposing the Iraq war for months before it began in 2003, I recognize the outsized role his United Nations presentation played in “legitimizing” the 2003 invasion. They never did find those weapons of mass destruction that Saddam Hussein was supposed to have had.

Still, I’m uncomfortable defining most people over their biggest mistake. It is especially so when Powell acknowledged and regretted the speech repeatedly, calling it the biggest blunder in his career.

From Daily Kos: “Born in Harlem, New York, to Jamaican parents, Powell was a retired four-star general who served in multiple administrations. He was an icon of the Republican Party, serving as the youngest and first Black national security adviser under former President Ronald Reagan and first Black national security adviser and as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H.W. Bush.”

“In 2008, during then-candidate Barack Obama’s presidential run, Powell stood up to decry those who falsely called Obama a Muslim in order to discredit him… In his later years and during former President Donald Trump’s presidency, Powell began to move away from the party he had affiliated himself with for so long.”

Vaccine disinformation

It is true that Powell died of complications from COVID-19, though he was fully vaccinated. But it’s also accurate that the octogenarian was being treated for multiple myeloma, cancer that forms in certain white blood cells.

So when John Roberts, Fox News‘ co-anchor of “America Reports,” tweeted news of Powell’s death to promote vaccine disinformation, he was rightly blasted.

“According to… Roberts, Secretary Powell’s [breakthrough] death ‘raises new concerns about how effective vaccines are long-term,’ which is both manipulative and false, given the facts surrounding his health – namely that he was 84 and battling cancer that impacts the body’s ability to fight infections… Roughly 7,100 such deaths have been reported in the US, with 85% occurring in patients 65 and older.

“Vaccine disinformation is ‘a big reason behind low inoculation rates,’ the L.A. Times recently reported… Fox News aired claims that undermine COVID-19 vaccines on 99% of days in the last six months, according to research by progressive media watchdog group Media Matters for America. Only two days from April through September didn’t feature the sowing of doubt about the safe and effective shots.”

The former Cuomosexuals

Ch-ch-ch-changes

cuomosexualsMy daughter pointed out that after Andrew Cuomo agreed to resign as governor of New York, Trevor Noah was trending on Twitter. Otherwise, I never know what’s trending on Twitter.

The talk show host was being mocked for declaring himself one of the Cuomosexuals in 2020.

“’Never let Trevor Noah forget this,’” the rightwing pundits proclaim when including “a 2020 video of Noah praising the governor for ‘crushing it the most right now’ when it came to his pandemic response…

“While Noah changed his tune since news of the sexual assault allegations and nursing home scandal broke, even posting a celebratory tweet following Cuomo’s resignation, conservatives want to ensure Twitter does not forget the late-night hosts’ initial take.”

Fascinating, he said, in his best Mr. Spock voice

My takeaway here is that, according to these folks, one is not allowed to have an opinion about someone, then to change one’s mind when new circumstances arise or when additional information becomes available.

OK, got it. That is plain stupid. We’re supposed to feel about, say, Bill Cosby in 2018 as we did in 1988?

Many people were comforted by Andrew Cuomo’s daily briefings. They felt that he was attempting to tell them the truth about the coronavirus infection rates, and the latest science, even when it was not particularly good news. This was in drastic contrast with the daily briefings in DC when whatever things Drs. Birx and Fauci et al. said were often countermanded and undermined by their boss.

There were LOTS of Cuomosexuals all over the country, notably the parodist Randy Rainbow. This is explained well in this New Yorker article.

I was recently reading an issue of the magazine The Week from June 2021. The experts suggested that the decline of COVID-19 was on track. No, they did not predict the level of vaccine resistance nor the speed of the delta variant – those two factors being related – so that now mask-wearing indoors is recommended, even among the vaccinated like me.

Changing their minds

It’s also OK to change one’s mind. Back in 2007, Kathy Hochul – pronounced HO-kul – “while serving as the Erie County clerk… threatened to arrest undocumented immigrants who applied for driver’s licenses.” But in recent years, the future New York State governor has supported “the state’s so-called Green Light law.”

Even as President, Barack Obama evolved on the issue of marriage equality. Initially, he opposed same-gender marriage, but his position evolved.

As a person growing up in the church, I’ve seen the changing roles of women, laypersons, and others. The church I attend now only had male ushers, dressed in a certain way, when I was born.

Frankly, people who believe that God, whoever They may be, never changes, so that we need to be doing the same thing, regardless of the needs of the people, make me damn angry.

 

Edgar exercise: slavery, BLM, Obama

black people are not a monolith

All the black people in your life are tiredFor my last Times Union blog post this month, even after my goodbye piece, I reposted the first part of my February 5  piece from this blog, about asking three different people (living or dead, famous or not) ONE question.

Edgar, a contrarian who most TU bloggers became familiar with, wrote:

I’d ask Antonio Johnson how it felt to be an African American AND the first American owner of a slave (John Casor).

This actually did happen. “John Casor, a servant in Northampton County in the Virginia Colony, in 1655 became the first person of African descent in the Thirteen Colonies to be declared as a slave for life as a result of a civil suit.”

This predated the large-scale codification of slavery in the future United States by race, in the 1670s and later. Would Johnson’s singular act cause him distress over what became mass enslavement of black people in the years to come? Interesting question and of course unanswerable.

I’d ask Republican President Lincoln how it felt to free Democrats slaves.

Since formerly enslaved people had not yet received the right to suffrage, I don’t know what “Democratic slaves” means. That said, I’ve been recently helping my daughter with American history. It’s clear that Lincoln wanted the states of the Confederacy to rejoin the Union as soon as was feasible. His second Vice-President, Andrew Johnson, WAS a Democrat.

Black Lives Matter

I’d ask Martin Luther King if he approved of the violence perpetrated by members of the “some lives matter, depending on skin color” movement which has abandoned his highly effective peaceful protests against racism.

As is his wont, Edgar has twisted the meaning of Black Lives Matter. That said, he asks a legitimate question about tactics. Yes, there were non-violent actions on the part of demonstrators back in the 1950s and 1960s. The other side – i.e., law enforcement – was often not as pleasant. See Selma, March 7, 1965, e.g. And when America saw the actions of Southern police, the nation was outraged.

“Some 2,000 people set out from Selma on March 21, protected by U.S. Army troops and Alabama National Guard forces that [Lyndon] Johnson had ordered under federal control.’

The Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1956 took over a year, and it involved legal maneuvering. The Little Rock Nine integrated the high school in 1957 with the help of federal troops. In other words, the force of law and/or people with weapons.

MLK’s nonviolent campaign was much less successful when he moved North. And he died by violence.

Black Lives Matter started in 2013 and was largely ignored. It wasn’t until America could finally be ready to see for itself a black man being murdered by a white cop that people seriously started saying, “Oh, THAT’S what they’ve been talking about!” A whole lot of people of various races demonstrated for BLM in 2020. Most of them were peaceful.

Some folks were not. They may have calculated that it was 65 years since Rosa refused to give up her seat, and over half a century since Martin was murdered. How long, and by which tactics, will we be free?

King said, “A riot is the language of the unheard.” What do you do when you keep saying it, and they’re still not hearing it? I suspect MLK would understand, even if he disapproved of the tactic.

Barack

And of you, I’d ask, do you think that, in your lifetime, we’ll have had a black president… as a bonus question.

When Barack Obama walked the streets of Chicago, people saw a black man. From the NIH:  “African Americans in the US typically carry segments of DNA shaped by contributions from peoples of Europe, Africa, and the Americas.” Obama’s racial profile is different from most black Americans. But to suggest he isn’t black is disingenuous. And a boringly divisive trope.

It’s been my theory that some thought that he, as a child of a white mother, wouldn’t be too black. But he kept disappointing them by doing “black” things such as singing Al Green and promoting Hamilton, a musical with a mostly black cast.

Know that many white parents – Halle Berry’s white mom, for one – made sure their children would know how to negotiate this country as black persons, if only because that’s how they’d be perceived in America anyway.

Ibram X. Kendi said recently on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah that black people are not a monolith. We have a diversity of experiences. Barack Obama’s is one experience. And Edgar doubting his “legitimacy” as a black person does not make it less so.

Dec rambling: Year in the Wilderness

“What in God’s Name are You Doing?”

Tales of the Unelected
Courtesy of Rich Ragsdale – https://www.instagram.com/richragsdale/

For Calling the Spirit Back from Wandering the Earth in Its Human Feet by  Joy Harjo (1951- ).

Beware of Bad Faith.

The untold story of how the Golden State Killer was found: A covert operation and private DNA.

Ken Levine, who used to write for CHEERS: I no longer find Cliff Clavin funny.

Race Car Crash From Hell—and the Science That Saved Its Drive.

R.I.P., Ann Reinking.

She’s from Schenectady. Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer  Becomes Winningest Coach in Women’s Basketball History.

What If You Could Do It All Over?

President Obama – Inspiring Future Leaders and “A Promised Land” | The Daily Social Distancing Show.

America’s Capital of Dead Vice-Presidents.

My Name Is Roscoe: The Life and Legacy of “Fatty” Arbuckle.

On Jeff Smith, problematic people, food, and memory.

Lethologica: When a word’s on the tip of your tongue.

Forgive Me, For I Have Sinned … Against the English Language.

Toledo Zoo’s Tasmanian Devils are biofluorescent.

Of Breakfast Cereals and Cults.

Texas Wedding Photographers Have Seen Some $#!+”

Now I Know: The Strange Brick Circles of San Francisco and The Programmer That Couldn’t Quit and The Man Who Was Dying to Be an Actor and The Hair-Raising Stunt That Scored a Secret Touchdown and Why Your Ice Cubes are White.

Ask Arthur Anything (I did): Surgery as a teenager and Same as it never was.

2020

The Year in the Wilderness. Despair too is contagious. We share it as we shed a spore.

Pew Research: 20 striking findings.

The 50 Most Popular Names for Dogs.

What the U.S. searched for.

J Eric Smith: Best of My Web. And [blushes] I’m on his list.

Race in America

Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Pregnancy-Related Deaths.

Dr. Camara Jones Explains the  Cliff of Good Health.

Sheet from the American Psychological Association exploring the compounding impact of socioeconomic status and race on health.

Hear the story of Henrietta Lacks, an African American woman whose cells have been used to test the effects of radiation and poisons, to study the human genome, to learn more about how viruses work, and played a crucial role in the development of the polio vaccine.

IMPOTUS – three more weeks!

A Christian asks Christian Trumpers: “What in God’s Name are You Doing?”

Executions Will Be Most of Any President in Over a Century.

Spends Final Days Plotting Revenge Against His Enemies and Pardons for Everyone Else

A Shockingly Long List of His Controversial Pardons. Maybe He ‘Could Be Prosecuted for Bribery’?

Shares Video Suggesting COVID Pandemic Created to Make Him Look Bad, Lose Election.

He Leaves the U.S. Severely Compromised By Massive Russian Hack.

Mar-a-Lago Neighbors Are Trying to Block His Return.

The real reason he is so upset

Pence Blurts Out The Real Reason Why Republicans Hate Democrats.

The loathsome  Stephen Miller, The Frankenstein of Santa Monica.

MUSIC

Rudolph the Leaky Lawyer – Randy Rainbow

WE ARE · Jon Batiste · St. Augustine High School Marching 100 · David Gauthier · Gospel Soul Children Choir · Craig Adams · Braedon Gautier · Brennan Gautier · Autumn Rowe

Joel Ross’ Being a Young Black Man, Live @ The Jazz Gallery.

Johnathan Blake’s My Life Matters, Live @ The Jazz Gallery.

Kiss An Angel Good Mornin’ – Charlie Pride.

Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto no. 1 – Maestro Mehta’s 80th birthday – Khatia Buniatishvili.

Coverville 1337: Paul Westerberg and The Replacements Cover Story.

The theme song from The Flintstones – Jacob Collier.

K-Chuck Radio: It’s all in Whodini’s wand

2020 music mashups here and here

Come Together -The Beatles.

Alec Baldwin interviews  Paul McCartney on John Lennon’s 80th birthday.

Beethoven

 Cello Sonata no. 5

Music for the play The Ruins of Athens

The Piano Concertos 1 and 2

Wellington’s Victory

Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67.

This Night – Billy Joel.

August 28 is just one of those dates

the next MLK

Emmett Till
Emmett Till
August 28 is a momentous date in US history. I was thinking about a question someone asked me earlier his year. It was whether someone – Bryan Stevenson, specifically, but it doesn’t matter – was the “new Martin Luther King, Jr.”

A couple of minutes later, I realized it was the wrong question. King gave the “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, DC on this date in 1963. While he may have been a singularly gifted orator, HE wasn’t the Civil Rights Movement. There were a quarter of a million people at that demonstration alone. They all struggled to create racial justice back at home.

Millions have fought the fight since before the founding of the United States and still do so today. Most of them have names we don’t know. Some we’re familiar with because of the abuse they suffered. John Lewis, who was the youngest speaker on this date in 1963 in Washington, is recognized because he survived violence on several occasions, notably in Selma on March 7, 1965.

Others we know, probably better because they were killed. The deaths of Medgar Evers (1963) and James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner (1964) are seared in my memory. But so are the murders of Rev. James Reeb and Viola Liuzzo, both in March 1965 in Alabama. Malcolm X’s 1965 death is being reinvestigated in 2020.

NMAAHC

Emmett Till was murdered on August 28, 1955, in Mississippi. I’ve mentioned him more than once here. He might have been just another black kid killed by bigotry. But his mom had the courage to let his beaten corpse be shown to the world. My daughter went to the National Museum for African American History and Culture in February 2020 with a bunch of church folk. One of her friends was stunned by the inhumanity of his death.

Obviously, we haven’t achieved that “post-racial” nirvana some people – not I – predicted after Barack Obama was elected President in 2008. BTW, he accepted the Democratic nomination on August 28 of that year. But it’s not going to be an Obama or a King or the mother of Emmitt Till who will change the world. It’ll just have to be all of us.