Saturday, December 15, 2007

The GOP’s Southern Strategy and Ronald Reag

Several Op-Ed pieces have appeared in the media this past month regarding the so-called “Southern Strategy” of the Republican Party and Ronald Reagan’s role in its success. The debate of late focuses on whether the strategy is racist and was Reagan a racist.

There is no question that following passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the GOP gained more and more political power in the southern states, until achieving a Republican “Solid South” resembling the old Democratic “Solid South”. Demographers, geographers, economists, historians, political scientists, journalists and pundits have offered a myriad of reasons for the change. One of my favorite Republicans, Kevin Phillips, wrote an excellent and prescient analysis of this trend in the late ‘60s: The Emerging Republican Majority. As good as this book is as a geography of political change, it, as well as most of the other analyses, misses the main point.

That point is racism. The Democratic Party in the South had its share of committed racists prior to 1964 (I am sure that many remain). Indeed, many of these racists stayed with the party until the 1980s, most likely due to local traditions. It was Reagan, however, in 1980 who won the racist votes for the GOP with his campaign speech in Philadelphia, Mississippi. At the urging of Senator Trent Lott (R-MS), then a member of the House, Reagan announced his candidacy for the presidency in Philadelphia and also stated his emphatic support for states rights. By so doing, Reagan sent a blatant message of support for racism, and he quickly was endorsed by the KKK (they were in attendance at the speech). For a more complete and erudite history of this event, please see'%20Rights.htm, as well as recent nationally syndicated columns by Bob Herbert, Paul Krugman and David Brooks.

The Reagan years, viewed with nostalgic awe by the GOP, was laced with race-baiting tactics and legislation, exemplified by Lott’s and Reagan’s attempt to grant tax-exempt status to the racist Bob Jones University (their efforts were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in an 8-1 decision). Note that Lott lost his Senate Majority leadership post by stating that the USA would b e better off if the avowed racist Strom Thurmond has been elected president. Just about every Republican in a leadership position in Texas, for instance, switched parties following Reagan’s endorsement of “states rights.”

Racism remains the most destructive domestic problem in the USA. We will not become a true “nation” until this is remedied.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sherman, let's enter the Wayback Machine and return to the last century...

Arrived in Boston in the wee hours of Sunday and headed to Cape Cod to sister Cape Cod Janie's house. My godmother (mom's older sister, Claire) is recovering from a fall and I surprised her in RI with a visit this afternoon. She is a WW II vet and was stationed in DC as a WAC where she met her future husband Tony. As a marine with the First Marine Division, Uncle Tony was in the attack on Guadalcanal in 1942. On this Veterans Day 2007, I honor all veterans of all wars for their sacrifices, including Aunt Claire, Uncle Tony, Uncle Bob, Uncle Harry, Uncle Rich, Dr. Rearick, Kim's dad, Betsey's dad, George, Bob Frisk, Norm Aubin, Donnie Marquis, Paul Durand, John, John, Joe, Cousin Jack (Jean-Louis), Max Clelland, Daniel Inouye, George McGovern, Kurt Vonnegut, Hank Bauer, Ralph Houk, Pat Tillman, Ted Williams, Phil Rizzuto, and so on. But most especially, my father MCPO Aldor D. L'Heureux, USNR(ret), who served from 1944 until 1987.

Thanks to all of you for your efforts, especially in those wars where the motives were/are despicable and the leaders morally and ethically bankrupt. Because his service was so honorable, I also thank George H. W. Bush. On the other hand, I cannot thank nor will I mention by name, those who dishonored these fine people with phony service appointments far from harms way doing political work.

Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose! (sorry Francophiles for any Joual-type grammar errors).

Friday, November 9, 2007

My Godfather's Folks were from Napoli!!!

Remember Blazing Saddles? "We'll take the n...s and the c...s, but no Irish." They let my greatgreatgrandpappy Sweeney from Cork in anyway. I was never any good with riddles, so I won't attempt snappy repartees to comments when my counter comment may prove beyond all shadow of a doubt my blockheadedness. If you were from La Ville du Nord you would understand my lack of mental faculties beyond rote memorization of my Baltimore catechism. "Who made us? Dog made us. Why did Dog make us? Dog needed a best friend." I am also lesdyxic when I get tired.

I wonder if my Sweeney forbear was an illegal? So many of the Irish came to these shores for work and just stayed on. I know for a fact that until very recently Boston, Toledo, Detroit and Chicago still had their share. Probably still do. It’s so easy to pass when you just stay in the neighborhood where everyone speaks in the same dialect as you. I know that Polish Grampa Joe had his papers for steerage on that ship from Bremen and I am sure that Canadian French Great Grandpa Joe and Great Grandma Rose-Delima just hopped a train from Quebec.

So, with the Democratic-controlled House passing a free trade bill with Peru today, I guess that opens up more grape and lettuce picking jobs for all those folks who will get “laid-off” from their middling paying primary and secondary economic sector jobs. Remember, W has really grown the economy by providing millions of minimum wage and below jobs (many industries do NOT have to abide by minimum wage laws) for all those folks who are getting foreclosed on as their jobs evaporate into increased profits for the Upper 1%. But wait, there’s more! We get plenty of grapes from South America, so maybe those lettuce pickers will be kings until we can get well-preserved (anti-freeze?) lettuce from the Far East. Hey, I saw organic garlic at a well-heeled supermarket in Seattle a few months ago so I guess that the lettuce can’t be far behind. I saw a Tommy Bahama shirt for $185 at a Nordstrom store near Portland OR – made in China, of course. Got to be an obscene profit in there somewhere for someone! Now, I must state for the record that I own several Tommy Bahama shirts but there is limit even to my conspicuous consumpting ways.

I wish that I had thought of that...

One correspondent referred to Rudy as "Ghouliani" in reference to kszyman's query. I like it. Next time, please comment on the blog O Exalted Commentator so everyone can share your wit!! Tomorrow, I will be heading east to Beantown and the Big Apple to visit family and friends as well as handling a job for one of the Shrewsbury Street Gang in Worcester, MA. Those of you unfamiliar with mobster lore may not know that the late head of the New England mob, Raymond L. S. Patriarca, hailed from Shrewsbury Street in Greyhound town. Oh, New England: home of the Red Sox, Patriots, the best baked beans, never-ending chicken dinners (the Woonsocket area), chowder and clam cakes, dynamites, Flo's hot dogs, Hot Dog Annie's, Saugy 's, Del's, more mayors, judges, governors and police in prison than even Louisiana, and the shenanigans of almost as many mobsters as the Big Apple ("Bullet-Riddled Body Found in Trunk of Car - Foul Play Suspected"). I will report on the gastronomic delights such as full-belly fried clams and Italian grinders ("Italians" in ME), washed down by coffee milk ("A Swallow Will Tell You"). Maybe a mocha cabinet...

Please, if you read the blog , send me a comment even if you hate it and are offended. "Somebody go back and get some dimes."

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Mea Culpa

OOO WEE BABY!!!!! My initial posting received generally positive reviews and comments. Those east of Eden liked it, those west of Eden liked it but politely cautioned me that Texans would be offended, and those in Eden (er, TX), so far, have been bloggingly quiet although one Dallas-ite orally exclaimed during a telephone conversation that he was not aware that I hated TX and Texans so much. Mea culpa, or for those of you not Latinized by a nun, priest, monk, or unmarried female Latin teacher in high school - OOPS! I do not hate…that is for Red Sox fans (they hate anything to do with Yankees, even such a fine soul as ARod), racists (everyone who isn’t them), Curt Schilling (anyone to his left – I bet he faked the bloody sock thing), and designated hitters (they hate themselves for being one dimensional).

Hey, get over it! This is bloviation, satire, silliness, and pontification (I get to pontificate because I was abused, I mean raised, as a Roman Catholic – I lost my religion at puberty, however). Man, some of my best friends are Texans…no, really!!! If I tried to name them all I’d be sure to forget someone. So suffice it to say that they run the gamut from A to Z and hail form Texas itself to Kenya, India, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Ohio, Louisiana, Iraq, Lebanon, California, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, as well as three other RIers (including another Woonsocket Rocket). Hope I didn't leave out a state.

More great things about TX: Austin Land & Cattle; Barbara Jordan; Texas Western beating Kentucky way back when; Earl Campbell; Buddy Holly; the Flatlanders; karst topography; kolaches in West (by far the best); Amy’s Ice Creams (she did learn the trade from Steve Harrell in Northampton MA); Hoover’s (oh, man those smothered pork chops on Saturdays with green beans, okra with tomatoes, iced tea and buttermilk pie are a death row denizen’s dream of a last meal before they stick it to her/him); Big Bend; following Cousin Jack through Beaumont, Houston, Austin, Fredericksburg, Ozona, Van Horn and El Paso (did not get to sleep on the ridge shelf, though); steak; gorditas and tamales at the Little Diner in Canutillo (even though I had to sit beneath a photo of W); sitting in John Maddens chair at Chuy’s in Van Horn (no kidding – check it out!!); dodging deer on I-10 west of San Antonio and east of Fort Stockton; steak; El Mercado and the Riverwalk in San Antonio; armadillos; Willie Nelson; steak; enchiladas pipian; brisket; Dublin Doctor Pepper; steak; Mexican Coca Cola; and the best company head honchos I have ever worked for. Again, mea culpa. And Janis and SRV, of course.

Since kszyman asked such good questions (see comments), I decided to place my responses in the main blog as well as blather on some:

(1) Now that Pat Robertson has endorsed Rudy Giuliani (NYC’s famous fire truck chaser, opportunist DA – see “The Five Families” book for details – and 9/11 liar) God is on Rudy's team and he (Rudy, not God) will need no more new money. Pat will change slot machine slugs into cash at Rudy's next fund-raiser (Rudy will wear the latest Donna Karan business ensemble). I do not harbor any bad vibes about lapsed Roman Catholics who do not attend Mass, especially those who support gay rights and a woman’s right to control all aspects of her own body and soul. So said, I have a problem with Rudy’s penchant for lying, exaggerating, claiming credit for others work (see “The Five Families”) and what he calls his constant praying to God and Jesus. This phony God stuff dripping from candidates’ lips must stop. In Rudy’s case, if you pray to someone or something but do not attend your professed mythology’s gatherings nor attend to its dogma, you are a hypocrite. (That goes for me, also)
(2) Mitt Romney’s hair is just too perfect and he is far too metrosexual for me. And, of course, he exhibits more religious and political hypocrisy. When in MA, Mitt professed gay rights and women’s choice. Hey, when in Rome (no that’s Athens actually)…Now Mitt seems to have been brainwashed (the apple doesn’t fall far from the supermarket shelf) and become a born again Latter Day Saint. He’s a Saul becoming a Paul or George I becoming a religious right stooge. Either way, he’s another hypocrite, but just too cute. I prefer the jowly Richardson, goofy Huckleberry (oops, Huckabee), or alien Kucinich look.
(3) Alas, I have not read Obama's book, so unlike an idiot such as Bill O'Reilly I do not have a stupid opinion to express. Hey, I was in a Hungarian restaurant a couple of weeks ago and darned if the people there spoke English like they were born here.

While I am making fun of the above magnificent intellects, let me dispense with other pretenders to the throne.

(1) Hillary Clinton: too W-like for me and too willing to attack some distant country to show she’s just one of the guys.
(2) Duncan Hunter: what a wack job.
(3) Mike Huckabee: a goofball and an ordained minister to boot (hey, I am one also - minister, that is - and all it takes is responding to the ad in the back of Rolling Stone or High Times).
(4) Dennis Kucinich: as far to the left as he is and as much as I agree with him on just about every issue, there is something about him that bewilders me. Not the UFO thing – Barry Goldwater saw them and he is regarded as a saint by the rapturous right – but it is his being so out of touch with humor. Bill Maher gave him several softballs to hit and Cleveland’s finest Roman Catholic Slav didn’t even swing. Very disappointing, and he plays the God card way too much.
(5) Mike Gravel: despite the fact that he and I went to Assumption College in Worcester, MA (20 some odd years apart) and that he speaks the truth, he does so only because he cannot win.
(6) Barack Obama: talks a spectacular game. His 2004 Democratic convention address had even Republicans mesmerized. But, his congressional record is weaker than either John Kennedy’s or John Kerry’s. I must say that it is far better than W’s pre-Governor of TX resume (W being Gov in TX was actually an uncredited and unintentional homage to Governor William J. Le Petomane in “Blazing Saddles.” Look up Le Petomane and learn what the name means!).
(7) Ron Paul: He is truthful, honest and certainly respects the Constitution (unlike any of the other elephantine candidates). Despite his claims to be a Libertarian, he is running as a Republican and his voting record, while not as dangerous as Hunter, clearly labels him as suspect.
(8) John McCain: His 2004 kiss on W’s cheek was the last straw for me.

Well, I have run out of gas and my new ultra low carb diet does not allow me beans, so I will have to stoke up on cabbage, Brussels sprouts and other green fartables. Other candidates that are running will just have to be patient. In the interim, please consider the words of the renowned Kinky Friedman who, when he announced that he was running for governor of TX, asked, “How hard can it be?”

For the record, I am currently re-reading "On the Road" and "A Child's Garden of Grass" with "Blackwater" on deck.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Those of you who know me will understand the title of my blog. Some of you may remember my nickname in Bowling Green, KY as the Rhode Island Redneck. Since I spent 29 of my first 36 years in Little Rhody, I just cannot get the dynamites, fried clams, fish 'n' chips, Del's, chowder (never with cream or milk!!!) and clam cakes, and 'Gansett out of my system. So call me a RI Yankee or a RI Redneck...

Let me state this about TX: the Austin Lounge Lizards "Stupid Texas Song" sums most of my feelings about TX and Texans. First the cons: arrogance; ignorance; bad baseball teams; George H. W. Bush; George W. Bush; Neil Bush; Barbara Bush (the grandmother); Jeb Bush; Tom Delay; Dick Armey; Rick Perry; Lone Star Beer; summer; spring; autumn; winter; cedar fever; Alberto Gonzalez; Harriet Miers; tornados; overated colleges and universities; pickup trucks; SUVs; Dick Cheney (I don't care if he registered to vote in WY and he was their House Rep - he's a Texan by choice); Amarillo; Dallas; Houston; Beaumont; Port Arthur; Westlake; football mentality; I-35 in Austin; malls, shopping centers and cheerleaders. I could go on...

The pros: cheerleaders; The Salt Lick; Round Rock Express; Lubbock (for the great musicians from thereabouts); steak (oh my - yes yes yes); San Antonio; Louis Meuller; BBQ; Lost Maples; Fredricksburg; Dan Rather; Bill Moyers; Ron Paul's honesty and courage; Andy Pettitte; the Pedernales River; Shiner Bock; Christina Marrs; The Spankers; Anne Richards; Molly Ivins; Jim Hightower; Don Luis at Azul Tequila in Austin; Antone's; Waterloo Records; Cheapo Records; The Saxon Pub, The Mucky Duck; Bend Studio; Matt the Electrician; Wammo; The Spurs; and did I mention the steak? I could go on...

Further details will be forthcoming.