Tag Archives: America

Racial Violence, Islam, Christianity, America and Me… Part Two

While Louisiana reels or tries not to reel from tensions centering around Baton Rouge. There are families in Texas that do not  yet feel the need to pivot mostly to our news stories. They are the families of the officers killed in the recent Dallas police ambush which preceded the one in Baton R0uge. The fallen officers killed have been identified as: Dallas Police Department  Senior Corporal. Lorne Ahrens, age 48, who had been with the department since 2002; Dallas Police Department Officer Michael Krol, 40, who had been with the department since 2007; Dallas Police Department  Seargent. Michael Smith, 55, a former U.S. Army Ranger who had served in the department since 1989; Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Officer Brent Thompson, 43, a former U.S. Marine who had been serving in DART since 2009. Thompson was the first DART officer to be killed in the line of duty since the department was founded in 1989 and last in this mention Dallas Police Department  Officer Patrick Zamarripa, 32, a former U.S. Navy sailor and Iraq War veteran who had been with the department since 2011.This event was without equal in carnage of this kind in the period since 9/11  as far as killings in the United States. On that fateful day in 2001 that we all can remember who were Americans and anything near adulthood 72 law enforcement officers died in the totality of horror that is lumped together as the September 11 attacks. But this attack by Micah Xavier Johnson surpasses the  two 2009 shootings in Lakewood, Washington, and Oakland, California, where four officers each were killed as well as the recent killings perpetrated by Long in Baton Rouge.

The shootings in Dallas were also a sort of peak thus far in the attack of radially conscious black actors against a combination of the white people of this country and the policing authorities as a direct and declared target. In addition to their significance for race relations they of course have other claims to fame and infamy. Five officers  in a community which has been honored for its excellent race and community relations were killed and nine other law enforcement officers as well as  two civilians were injured when shot by a decorated ( although not at the higher levels)  and experienced US military veteran whose life shows many of the tensions and stresses of life in America in his generation from his upbringing in Mesquite Texas, to his birth in Missisisippi. Most of the victims were shot during the protests, where they distinguished themselves by maintaining an unthreatening demeanor and presentation of a policing force. At least one Officer was killed  during a shootout that developed after the killer launched his attack.The dead comprised four Dallas Police Department (DPD) officers and one Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) officer. Four of the injured officers were from DPD, three were from DART, and two were from El Centro College. Seven of the injured officers were treated at Parkland Memorial Hospital, famous for recieing the fallen President Kennedy. Two officers underwent surgery. One civilian was shot in the back of the leg, breaking her tibia.

Unlike Baton Rouge, no Black Officers were killed in the attack and the shooter was part of the city and community  in which he did the killing.  I reacted to that deadly attack on police with a post referenced here. I will not spend very much space or very many words revisiting that attack in this post.  There has been significant research into the background of the Dallas Cop Killer Micah Johnson who also had other names. The deceased and almost-certainly-correct-and-yet-never-to- be-tried-because-he-is-dead shooting suspect, Micah Johnson, had no criminal history.  In terms of understanding what happened in Dallas there are different levels  of understanding.

Micah Xavier Johnson had a number of aliases and one was of the Anglo type and the other was Islamic or at least Arabic with Islamic resonance.  He visited assertive  and strident political causes online and investigators found that he liked several websites dedicated to Black Lives Matter and the New Black Panthers. But he was also involved with groups that are seen as going over the line of respectable discourse in this country —  the Nation of Islam and the Black Riders Liberation Party, two groups the Southern Poverty Law Center considers hate groups.  The Nation of Islam stands out as the only one with a strong Islamic connection but there is more evidence of his interest in Islam.

Dallas shooting montage

There is no shortage of racial tension in the United States nor has there been in my lifetime and there is no single image, event or idea which epitomizes race relations here. There is no single person who embodies the experience of all or even most white people or black people in the country. There is no single position on a gauge which really accounts for how good or bad race relations are, that is the truth.  But truth, as I have cited John Denver’s song for saying many times, — is hard to come by.  The relations between the races in America have a complex reality and a complicated history. Before even getting to the many legal, economic, procedural,  and religious questions that are pertinent to this post there is also the question of language and terminology. The first image in this article is a montage of people including Steph Curry, Mariah Carey, Jeremiah Wright, Soledad O’Brien, Vanessa Williams and Corey Booker who currently identify as Black. That is a legal, political and cultural decision. In the State of Louisiana where this post centers its attention people like them — who look like them and perhaps more than that have not been considered Black. This division into Black and white was accomplished in large part getting people like this to accept the designation of African-American. But the same processes and struggles had been ongoing long before that particular drama of terminology… Polarizing the country into Black and White even occurs to some real degree in a country of white and non- white. But there has been a middle ground approach which in our history also fostered greater sensitivity to 0ther differences within a responsible context. This post will get into that history a bit below. I have proposed addressing that set of realities which is represented in this discussion in my model constitutions which take up many posts and pages and in my writing about them in posts such as this and this.  The current crisis is nothing compared to what may be coming down the road if we do not address our situation well.
Colored African Americans montage

The  place where I am writing is a place with very specific racial history which is very significant in the United States of America. Every other place may have a thing which they may have done with racial overtones that falls across the line of history into the realm of legends where history joins folklore once again. But South Louisiana has many claims to fame in racial history. Perhaps if a few are listed they will add to the discussion of racial identity and relationships in America

The Battle of New Orleans is one of those parts of American history which was an enormously important event which has been minimized by various group over the years for political reasons. Many of these varied minimizers would hate and despise each other more than anyone involved in that important battle and some in fact have hated and despised each other — but nonetheless it has been a very important event which could not be accepted by many as decisive in American history and occurring as it did. One of the reasons that the battle of New Orleans was not given the fair share of credit it deserves in the age of Jim Crow segregation was because of race relations and racial identities among those in the flotilla of Jean Lafitte. Today there is little incentive to resurrect the sources buried then because Blacks were not equal in the complex reality of the period but they had vastly more opportunities and nearly equal positions than at many other times and places. In addition the society as a whole had both better (not well known) and worse (very well known) positions for African Americans of various identities including but not limited to the free negroes. Mulattoes, Quadroons, Octaroons and others of mixed race could be slave or free but they were not negroes. Sometimes the differences were large and sometimes they were slight.

Acadians who increasingly are called Cajuns have a white identity which is careful and as nuanced as whatever the society they are in may allow but they are a white ethnic group which has attachments to non-white groups that included their involvement with Jean Lafitte. the arguably very small act of setting up a relationship with Jean Lafitte and the Baratarian Association specifically to provide for the defense of their interests in the region and of their own lives and liberties from the depredations of the British.  The person who would have been most in charge of this activity would have been Gils Robin. The memories of this period persist across Acadiana.  

There is a Jean Louis Robin Canal and a Jean Louis Robin Lake to this day in South Eastern Louisiana. In the aftermath of hurricane Katrina  journalist Ken Wells did a book published in 2008 about the family still building their own boats and navigating the waters of that region. Today they are only partly Cajun culturally and genealogically  and have become part of another cultural fabric beside the homes of their Cajun ancestors. But in his book they remember the ties between the outlying Cajuns of that region  the pirates and privateers of the Barataria Association. Folkloristically, the story would be more or less that the brothers Gils, Martin and Jean Robin would have moved to the region shortly after the Acadians had settled in the Lafourche region relatively nearby. Their small community would have ties to  Attakakpas and Oppelousas Prairies of  Louisiana in the West as well as with Lafourche. Martin Robin who was a godfather to one of the Lafitte children was the grandchild of one of these brothers. Jean Lafitte also had a number of titles he sometimes used that are capable of being given Cajun interpretation unique to it Helllenic Centre Ouest Languedoc vernacular.  But the words have other possible explanations. In addition to the role Lafitte played in the Battle of New Orleans which was crucial in terms of artillery and supply and guides to the waters of the area Cajun units also fought in the area. Future Governor Henry Schuyler Thibodaux was a Lieutenant who saw action there. In addition Cajun or Acadian units served in several parts of the encounter. The service record was perhaps mixed in that battle but while some Acadians may have been farmed out to the other units and deployed some real expertise in throwing up defenses along the wetlands it does seem to be likely that the plurality of Acadians served on the ill-fated West Bank line under David Morgan.  Morgan had put his troops in a more or less indefensible position to support Patterson, the artillerist not from Lafitte’s group. The bad position was exacerbated by the Kentucky riflemen in the unit who were sick exhausted and without Lafitte and others from Louisiana would have been unarmed for all practical purposes. At the moment of the attack all witness blamed the break in the line on the lack of courage not of the Cajuns but the troops from Kentucky. However, a court of inquiry found them also without fault because the position was so ill conceived and because the overall glory of the event was enough to overshadow the failures. Nonetheless men  very likely to biased in favor of the Kentuckians over the men from South Louisiana thought they broke first.  So the ties between my own ethnic community and the Creoles of color are both deep and important ties.

Picture map creoles

The most fierce fighters on the American side in the battle of New Orleans  may well have been the Free Blacks. I did write earlier that no North American Colored officers existed before the Confederates of the Louisiana Native Guard. However, anyone who knows the battle well will remember Major Savary and Lieutenant Listeau were officers of color who fought in the battle. However, it seems very likely that their commissions like many titles of the era were carried over from other service. They held commissions as Spanish troops in Santo Domingo and the US recognized those commissions. This was intended to be temporary. Dominique Youx the Lafitte artillerist who played the most significant role of direct fighting by any Baratarian is of uncertain  (certainly not Cajun) ancestry and became a respectable citizen of Louisiana when others went to galveston for  the chance to continue a disreputable way of life.  He likely had some colored ranking people in his unit but they were not formally commissioned, that leaves Listeau and Savary as exceptions to my statement about the Louisiana Native Guard. The Spanish had a few knowingly and  officially commissioned colored officers in the Caribbean but not in their North American forces. Nonetheless, the victory at New Orleans was the greatest in American history at that time by many measures and Cajuns were there. So also were many creoles of color not all of whom considered themselves black or were considered such.

President Barack Hussein Obama has explicitly condemned the supposed absurdity of words and ideas such as “Octaroon”. He has been quick to make every African American Black in his ordinary speeches and has few real options given his ideology. He  has presided over the dismantling of the Confederate Heritage preserved in monuments across much of the South. He has added to the  impossibility of seriously examining the Confederate legacy as regards race relations. All those things listed above I believe to be demonstrable parts of his presidential legacy. But the truth is that the lack of understanding and discussion of the racial realities — realities we may not understand but which we nonetheless use to guide every day decisions that affect millions — has been badly inhibited for a long time.

I think that the constitutional realities were less than ideal for Micah Xavier Johnson, that does not excuse him for avenging Philando Castille and Alton Sterling as he did. But he was a man who had a gift for killing and attacking and for forming passionately held political convictions.  A child of divorce and a marginal student he found a way to honor and decency in the US military. But he came home an alienated and violent man in an individualistic and dishonest society.  Alienation underlies the violence,rage, unreasoning rhetoric and chaos coming from much of the Black community today. Alienation affects many others in our country and I think in part for constitutional reasons.  That includes alienated white southerners and many cops.

But the Cajun people with whom I most identify have suffered enormous alienation in this country.  For Cajuns it was often the case that there was a sense of facing three unpalatable realities at the same time. It was a cultural shift from a time when French heritage and American citizenship had enjoyed a more promising and positive relationship than they were coming to have in the years between 1865 and 1943. The portraits of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI had hung in honor in the halls of the Congress in Philadelphia before the Capital was moved to Washington and the District of Columbia. The Louisiana Purchase was both a friendly act and one which established a very definite equality between Citizens of France in Napoleonic Imperial Louisiana and those of the current United States of America. The result was a new country which was in a real sense a merger of two societies. This unity had been imperfectly but impressively sealed in the Battle of New Orleans. While other states, like Missouri would find themselves under the British common law after entering the Union, Louisiana itself at least would remain under the State’s new version of the French Civil Code. In 1847 the first laws describing language in schools were passed and the assurance was made of right to English only, French only and bilingual education. The Acadian Governor Mouton had from the Cajun point of view presided over the zenith of antebellum life in Louisiana before the forces of chaos and destruction which led to the Civil War were pouring across the region and were contested by his son Alfred Mouton. That same Alfred Mouton was killed in that war and so it was to that same golden age which Margaret Mitchell commemorated in Gone With the Wind was in fact a golden age in memory for many Cajuns as well. The horrors that followed were no less horrible for them than for other Southerners in fact they may have been worse years to come on average but the complexities of the period which followed were not going to be simply defined. Postbellum America was an increasingly alienating and hostile place for Acadians to live out their lives and destiny as Acadians or Cajuns.

But one may well argue that Black people are far more alienated and that certainly the Confederate monuments help to alienate them and cannot possibly point to anything that Black or other African American people  would relate to in a way that might point to a path forward. A path rooted in Christian experience primarily, in the leadership of whites but in hope for full realization of African American  potential. Probabaly most people who feel that way would still feel that way after reading this post but there are other arguments to be made from the facts. There is no way to avoid writing that despite all that has been written by very many competent people about the issues related to race in these decades I find that there are many large areas of important experience that are not duly explained.

While the Code Noir of 1685 was not the law in effect in Louisiana in 1860 it was still the strongest single source of the legal spirit behind the Louisiana Civil Code and the customs and practices of the State. That law stated in its final article the following: Article LIX. We grant to freed slaves the same rights, privileges and immunities that are enjoyed by freeborn persons. We desire that they are deserving of this acquired freedom, and that this freedom gives them, as much for their person as for their property, the same happiness that natural liberty has on our other subjects.

An ocean of ink has been expended to show that by no means did any spirit of this law exist in the South. That has been done by those of a more Southron party and disposition and those more inclined to extol the benevolence of the wonderful Union reconstruction. There is evidence that much of that ink does not deal adequately with the facts as they existed in Louisiana. We see that in the period of time immediately following Louisiana’s secession, Governor Thomas Overton Moore issued pleas for troops on April 17 and April 21, 1861. There is a great deal to be learned from the incidents related to the creation and the rest of the story of the Louisiana Native Guard. So that story is outlined here in brief. It remains in testimony to realities of that era.
In response to the governor’s request, a committee of ten prominent New Orleans free people of color who included people across the color spectrum which in their society was not the only factor for determining a family or an individual’s rank but was the single most important purely social factor in a complex social system. The certified were a group of people less than one eighth Negroes who were proven to be committed to the social order of antebellum Louisiana and these enjoyed a special relationship with the Creole and Cajun elite. These people were being woven into the fabric of the merged culture of Louisiana after Statehood until the War. Below them were the Octoroons, the Quadroons, the Mulattoes and the true free blacks. Writers today will tend to call all of these people free blacks and they have their reasons for doing so but that is not how they saw themselves. This complex and racially conscious and stratified community was represented in this Committee of Ten who called a meeting at the Catholic Institute on the 22d of April. About two thousand people attended the meeting where muster lists were opened, with about 1,500 free men of color signed up. The anglo Southron Governor Moore included in all the proper and ordinary channels these applications and included these men as part of the state’s militia. The Louisiana Native Guard is so named because they were natives who were not quite citizens but they were accepted as armed patriots in the Confederate cause. It bears adding that while this text asserts that Acadians were largely very free under the laws of 1685 many French people were not. Thus in the way of thinking of many in Louisiana including most Cajuns these freed people had preserved the kind of liberty and status a 1685 Frenchman would have who did not enjoy the freedom of a Coutume, a religious order, a knightly order, a chartered city or a privileged family. That was still a real level of freedom. Ancient Acadian rights, the Louisiana Purchase and the US Constitution allowed the Cajuns more freedoms to which the freedmen were not a party. Likewise the “Kentucks” as Cajuns sometimes called the newcomers asserted the rights of Scotsmen, Englishmen and the rights of the Louisiana Purchase and the US Constitution. Those were rights to which these people were not a party but did not preclude them from preserving the rights of French Colonial Natives which were transferred as an unspecified adjunct to the rights of Citizens under the Purchase. So the new militia regiment of colored Natives was formed during May 1861. The men were mostly but not all from the Francophone community, some members of the colored Confederate regiment came from wealthy prominent gens libres de coleurs families. they filled the majority of NCO posts initially but the majority of the men held the rank of private soldiers and were in civilian life clerks, artisans, and skilled laborers. at the end of that fateful May on the 29th in 1861, Governor Moore appointed three white officers as commanders of the regiment, and company commanders were appointed from among the larger group of elected non-commissioned officers. This volunteer militia unit was the first of any in North American history to knowingly have African-American officer. That is not because there had not been colored soldiers under the United States, Britain, Spain and France. It was Louisiana as she rose up for Dixie that chose to take this step.Though ten per cent of the members of this Confederate unit would later join the Union Army’s First Louisiana Native Guard, the two are regarded by most as separate military units. It is one of the tragedies of the falling and failing South that these men never fired a shot in anger as Confederates against the Yankee invader. While there may be many other stories for which their fate is a better one for a Cajun view of what the South it was supposed to be it was a sign of bad times to come. It indicates something about the customs, commerce and status of person in Louisiana that these Native Guards were traditional American militia volunteers, and as such supplied their own arms and uniforms. One here is reminded of another article of the Code Noir, as follows: Article XV. We forbid slaves from carrying any offensive weapons or large sticks, at the risk of being whipped and having the weapons confiscated. The weapons shall then belong to he who confiscated them. The sole exception shall be made for those who have been sent by their masters to hunt and who are carrying either a letter from their masters or his known mark.

There is every reason to believe that the even as the Code lived on in more current laws regarding arms restrictions strictly enforced against slaves were not applied to these men in their daily lives before the war.These were displayed in a grand review of troops in New Orleans on November 23, 1861, and again on January 8, 1862. The terribly wasted troops offered their services to escort Union prisoners taken prisoner by the Confederate forces at the First Battle of Bull Run. One could imagine that this could have been done with white troops as well and with international observers it might have been a means of showing the possibility of Confederate policy working out a secure future the abolitionist powers they sought to ally with as they marched through New Orleans.But this would have required the kind of social daring the COnfederacy would usually lack.

Confederate General David Twiggs failed to accept the unit’s offer, but thanked them for the “promptness with which they answered the call. That was a response that reflected the way such transactions occurred in the military. The Louisiana State Legislature had begun to change the society into something new when they passed a law in January 1862 reorganizing the militia into only “…free white males capable of bearing arms… ”. The Native Guards regiment was effectively disbanded by this law on February 15, 1862. Despite the change in racial ideology already starting Governor Moore used his executive powers to reinstate the Native Guards to oppose the U.S. Naval invasion. But when the regular Confederate forces under Major General Mansfield Lovell abandoned New Orleans the whole system was plunged, into disarray. Cajuns served in the regular Confederate Forces and had militia units advancing to defend the city as well as the unauthorized units that have always been part of the culture who hoped to join in the fight in their traditional guerilla manner. But none of these units did well when the Confederate forces withdrew and the militia units were left to fend for themselves. The Native Guards were subject to the same relative disgrace and so it was no great surprise that they were again, and in finality, ordered to disband by General John L. Lewis, 1862, as Federal ships arrived opposite the city. General Lewis of the Louisiana Militia as he sent word to their units deployed in useless positions disbanded these colored Confederates and cautioned them to hide their arms and uniforms before returning home. He also began the process requiring them to hide their COnfederate service, later ten percent of this unit would serve in the Union and be among the most distinguished colored troops. Some came to the irregular Cajun militia according to spoken tradition and assisted in the armed and highly secretive smuggling supplies to Confederate forces during the war. None of those ever received much recognition even though some did fire shots in anger at Union forces in these irregular units. The white creole Colonel Felix Labatut maintained the belief that colored troops could make a difference and was proven right by the Union service with distinction of his former officers Cailloux and Morrison in the cause of the Yankee invaders.

The moratorium of colored troops by the South certainly did not limit the deployment of colored troops by the union. Whatever the injustices and horrors of the slaveholding South may have been there were plenty of woes in the war and reconstruction that followed. From the Cajun point of view it was a bitter irony to lose possible GLC units and see that throughout the war and in the time of the period after end of hostilities in the Civil War was a time in which Cajun folklore reports that people believed that Yankee bureaucrats had motivated and armed a quarter of a million freed slaves and loosed them in strongly encouraged rage upon the Southland. This period followed the kinds of endless horrors described in books like Yankee Autumn in Acadiana and local institutions of my ancestors rolled over to face the new challenge. the Knights of the Invisible Empire of the Ku Klux Klan Also known with the same name given here but with the word White preceding all the others i.e. “White Knights…” also known as the Ku Klux Klan, the KKK and the Klan. The Klan share many motifs, traditions and operating procedures with the much older Ridelles and somewhat older Comites de Vigilance that existed among the Acadians. However, the Klan always had it own symbols too and those grew in importance and common symbols declined. The Cross-Lighting was never an Acadian symbol but perhaps went with the ideas of ethnic differentiation that are very Acadian. Knights of the White Camellia have been basically a special Louisiana version of the Ku Klux Klan. The name is a triple entendre it references the beautiful flowers of this area, the legendary kingdom of Arthur of the Round Table, and the Chivalric legacy left by French Catholic  Christian Prince Camille de Polignac, a fine specimen of all that being white as well as being human can offer. Aside from a relatively long list of titles his ordinary name was Camille Armand Jules Marie, Prince de Polignac.  He was a handsome, well educated, musical, mathematical, valiant and well traveled aristocrat who was a Confederate General during the Civil War. This Prince took command from the Acadian Confederate General Alfred Mouton after he died achieving the last major victory under the Confederate flag. Cajuns cannot be expected to say that right or wrong as life may be there is nothing to be admired in this Prince that is absent in a miserable ignorant Black field hand given a gun and a few weeks training. The Prince as a friend of Mouton embodied a sense of the lost potential of Acadiana to bring the South into a prominent place in the world. Christian institutions in the White Supremacist South did offer a flowering of African American potential and that flowering was largely vandalized by Southern factors but also by the union. Getting rid of Confederate heritage will not mend our woes. The roots of our struggles these days in my opinion are in various forms of alienation and a solution I could tolerate will start with telling the truth. Telling the truth many times in difficult ways will not solve the problems alone but it will  be part of making a start at solving the problem.

Racial violence is not going to end tomorrow. Ending racial violence cannot be achieved in isolation form other challenges.  I believe that we need radical change. But most radical change is bad. Getting the right radical change when it is needed is almost miraculous….



I have posted about race in America before on more than one occasion. This is a link to one such post. But I will provide much of the text as needed here below.  It is only a moderately distilled and limited boiling down of the original in the next few paragraphs.  There is some effort to cover the news but there is more than that an effort to discuss how a great deal of America’s trouble seems to me, it is made real by near experience.  That includes a sense that law enforcement and the judicial system are not exactly fixed in the role of protecting me from outside invasion — they have other roles as well. In following the economic collapse and in 2013 the official financial bankruptcy of Detroit, I remembered my ex-wife’s trips to Troy and our entertaining one of her supervisors when she came to Louisiana. I also remember my numerous trips to Michigan. I remember troubled neighborhoods and cities I have visited or lived in around the world.  The school shootings remind me of my many experiences in schools. The soaring prison population reminds me of my many visits to and interactions with prisoners. One of the pastors of the church parish to which I belong and which I have regularly attended most of the last fifteen years has been to prison. Governors Edwards and Leche, Attorney General Jack Gremillion, Commissioners Brown and Roemer (Roemer was the father of Governor Roemer) all went to prison.  One of the more successful members of my father’s law school class who was also one of his good friends went to prison. Several of my first cousins have gone to jail and a sizable number of my friends and classmates over the years have done time.  Those numbers are not an abstraction for me. Lots of prisoners are black and a lot of others are in some way tied up with the results of our attempt at a misguided racial revolution.  But misguided or not I do understand to some real degree the resentments and fears of many black people in the United States.  I could empathize with black kids protesting over the Trayvon Martin shooting who were afraid of getting shot and the many whites and Asians not protesting who are afraid or disturbed by the racist Black masses of vengeful, ignorant people who harbor those calling for blood, making death threats and collecting money for bounties. This is a real tension and crisis but there are plenty of people who are not black who are concerned about run-ins with the police.  When discussing the Trayvon Martin case the role of the President in responding to this crisis is very debatable but it surely can be said that it was not quickly resolved or defused.

White House redo

We all have images of what leadership should look like which are not simple portrayals of reality.

Much of the current Black Lives Matter movement began with the shooting of Trayvon Martin.  But actually it was less on the fateful night of February 26, 2012,  when in Sanford, Florida of these United States, George Zimmerman delivered the bullet that killed Trayvon Martin that the protests really became intense.  There were large protests that Trayvon’s killer was not charged. the masses of Blacks who erupted in the streets in those early days could make some claim to acting within reason. The original discussion focussed on the factual reality that after the largely untrained and officious Zimmerman shot Martin, who was young and  unarmed, during an altercation  which went on in the context of some kind of policing by Zimmerman and became physically intense between the two men and he was not charged with anything. The police who arrived were perhaps predisposed to see his side of things (so it could be argued) because they were responding to an earlier call from Zimmerman, the police had fresh and clear evidence as well because of the call and the fact that they arrived on the scene within two minutes of the shooting. Zimmerman was taken into custody, treated for head injuries, then questioned for five hours — a reasonably thorough response but still not as exhaustive as many. The police chief in charge of the investigation and arrest stated that Zimmerman was released for lack of  evidence to refute Zimmerman’s claim of having acted in self-defense. In fact it did seem to be the case that  under Florida’s Stand Your Ground statute, the police were prohibited by law from making an arrest in this case. But the optics were at least controversial and the protests might be just. They became intense  and also really anti social in a new way when the issue became different. Right or wrong Zimmerman was arrested and charged for the fatal  shooting of a 17-year-old African American high school student.  The shooter was a significantly battered  28-year-old mixed race Hispanic man who was the neighborhood watch coordinator obviously doing his earnest best for the gated community and in this situation he killed Trayvon  Martin  living with relatives there and he was acquitted on July 13, 2013 and the protests began to deny the basic legitimacy of the justice system. This dislocation from a watchdog of the system was intensified when the protest spewed hatred at many parties when on February 24,  2015, the United States Department of Justice announced that “there was not enough evidence for a federal hate crime prosecution.” In that intense 2013 period there was another set of racial realities on my mind.

The posts I wrote about the Trayvon  Martin case came at a time when I would rather have been paying tribute to a local and personal connection in an uncomplicated with one of that  same  year’s National Medal of Arts recipients: A man who has had his work put into successful television formats, who has a center named after him in my undergraduate alma mater, who has had his work and career recognized in many ways as this native of Louisiana and former Stanford University Stegner Fellow Ernest Gaines had that same year at eighty years old received an important  award from the hands of President Barack Hussein Obama. Gaines was the only novelist on the National Medal of Arts list that year – he had already received the National Medal for the Humanities in 2000 and a similar honor from France and his work has been translated into Chinese and most large European languages.  Poets and novelists have been awarded regularly the National Medal in both categories but I am not sure how many have received both awards.  The language of the citation includes the following statement that Gaines is “recognized for his contributions as an author and teacher. Drawing deeply from his childhood in the rural South, his works have shed new light on the African-American experience and given voice to those who have endured injustice.”

Gaines was born more than 80 years ago on the River Lake Plantation near the small town of Oscar, in Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana. His ancestors had lived on the same plantation, River Lake, since slavery, remaining after emancipation to work the land as sharecroppers for five generations. Gaines and his family lived in the houses, much expanded, that had once served as slave quarters. His parents separated when he was eight; the strongest adult influence in his childhood was a great aunt, Augusteen Jefferson, crippled from birth, who crawled from kitchen to the family’s garden patch, growing and preparing food, and caring for him and for six of his brothers and sisters.

This became the setting and premise for many of his later works. He was the oldest of 12 children, raised by his aunt, who was crippled and had to crawl to get around the house. Gaines’ first years of school took place in the plantation church. When the children were not picking cotton in the fields, a visiting teacher came for five to six months of the year to provide basic education. Gaines then spent three years at St. Augustine School, a Catholic school for African Americans in New Roads, Louisiana. Pointe Coupée Parish, “Negro schooling” in the Parish did not progress beyond the eighth grade at that time.

At the age of fifteen, Gaines moved to California to join his mother and stepfather. He wrote his first novel was written at age 17, while babysitting his youngest brother, Michael. In 1956, Gaines published a short story, The Turtles, in a college magazine at San Francisco State (SFSU). He graduated in literature in 1957 from SFSU. After spending two years in the Army, he won the Stegner, a writing fellowship to Stanford. In most years since 1984, Gaines has spent the first half of each year in San Francisco and the second half at the university in Lafayette, Louisiana, where he has taught a workshop every autumn. But in 1996, Gaines did spend a full semester as a visiting professor at the University of Rennes in France where he taught the first Creative Writing class ever offered in the French University system  Gaine  remains deeply rooted and he and his wife a home on part of the River Lake Plantation where he grew up.[ He has also had the church he grew up with moved to his property.

He has been open about what he most treasures from those days, “I was raised by a lady that was crippled all her life but she did everything for me and she raised me,” he wrote. “She washed our clothes, cooked our food, she did everything for us. I don’t think I ever heard her complain a day in her life. She taught me responsibility towards my brother and sisters and the community.””

Ernest Gaines has at least two ways in which he has walked the path of a man of letters, a race man and a son of Louisiana.  One part of his legacy is his work and life as a writer in residence, commercial success and regional celebrity. That must be taken into account in any assessment of his work and its impact on racial identity and politics. In that area he has been about the advance of his racial group as well as himself.  When I was at enrolled the university where Gaines taught I was never enrolled in one of his classes, I did however attend lectures he gave, two of which were hosted by Dr. Patricia Rickels, now deceased,  whom both of us knew very well and who was both in the English Department and head of the Honors Program to which I belonged.  I spoke to her and students who knew him well about him much more often than I spoke to him and I read his books and bought several although at a time when I often got books signed I never had his books signed nor asked him for anything that I recall except once for his plans for classes in the coming semester which I recall he did not much appreciate.  Gaines was a well dressed, disciplined man who was an intimidating physical specimen and more often in the national spotlight than anyone else in the Department when I was there. A strong academic, a strong son of Louisiana and a strong Black man – he was all those things.

The other side of Gaines is his writing itself. He preserved characters and scenes of White Creoles, Cajuns, Anglos and other people along with the African-American characters often described in ten different ways by use of the same “N word” now left out of some versions of Huckleberry Finn. The black people are humans with hopes, dreams, consciousness and aspiration. In A Gathering of Old Men, there is cowardice, backwardness, ignorance and folly portrayed with realism in the African-American Community. There is also courage, cleverness, hope and community as old men with shotguns having fired a shot face down the white supremacist Cajun establishment.  In the Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman there is failure and lack of achievement but also perseverance, a struggle for decency and a triumph of continuity.  In A Lesson Before Dyingthere is a bit of heavy-handed moralizing, racial philosophizing, and more Black assertiveness than anywhere else but there is real pathos, tender regard for life and law and compromise as people of all colors find them.  These are likely his most important works but not as revealing or upsetting to mainstream America as some of his lesser pieces.  I have always liked reading Gaines and found him fulfilling to read as well.  I once gave a copy of a Gaines novel, I believe it was Of Love and Dust to a friend and relative of mine, now deceased, who was a self-identified White Racist and asked the person to read it and get back to me. The response as best I recall it was, “That N***** can write. I really could hardly put the book down because it is story you feel. He knows and sees everything I do about N****** and he writes in a fully N*****ish fashion but he makes you think about what is right and how people should relate to each other because you know he is not afraid of the truth.”  Gaines has a unique voice, I doubt that friend would have read an entire book by many other Black writers and maybe none at all who wrote about Blacks chiefly.   Marcia Gaudet of the University of Louisiana’s Ernest Gaines center was quoted by a West Coast interviewer associate with the Stanford University where Gaines has long had ties and she said: “His literature is based on memory of the past, and it’s somewhat different from that of many African-American writers of the mid-20th century, who based their work on erasure of that past and moving their characters to Northern urban settings. Gaines was one of the first to go back and look at what the hardships were.” I pay tribute to Ernest Gaines here. But we all know that the arts alone will not save our society — they have an important part to play but it will no alone decide our fate.

The school shootings and other mass killings which Obama has loved to lump in together in his cries for gun control are not all racially motivated. The toll they take are also both real and significant. But so are all the acts of violence, disorder and depravity which destory our quality of Iife and do not involve a gun It is hard to see how the Rolling Stone cover of Dzokhar Tsarnaev helped to address the problem then or why  it helps that nobody can discuss the fact that police and much more so unarmed white citizens have been driven by violent and disorderly blacks for so much our American heritage in a sustained campaign of ethnic cleansing.. However, it does remind us of how real our social problems are today.  This is a society in crisis. I have a different perception of the Tsarnaev’s to add to the big picture of who they are which includes them being Muslim, Chechen, young, living in Boston and a dozen other realities that defined who these brothers were and who Dzokhar still is. But I want to think about their sense of ethnicity and identity and heritage in a society without very strong moorings in that regard. The alienation they felt led them to radical Islam and we have found a kindred and connected set of empathies in the recent cop-killers which is outlined in this post. Alienation and an inability to seriously understand diversity, federalism and sicuss one’s own background with those who surround one’s daily life — these are realities of American daily life.

If it is dangerous not to know one‘s self and it is dangerous not to know the world it is also more dangerous than some would think not to know the elements of one’s history as played by one’s neighbors. I am an Anglo-Acadian. I will not be discussing that heritage here as it relates to the Confederate heritage or American heritage but I have written of such things elsewhere .  The word Christian was first used in Syria. It makes all Christians weak that there are few Christians left there and a priest was beheaded and it was scarcely reported here.   We are living in a deadly blindness and are seeking a solution in trying to wipe out our own white supremacy for no particularly good reason – rather than trying to make it better. The Trayvon Martin movement is full of racist and violent blacks who want to control the country but not themselves. We are running out of time for a good plan.

Besides the Trayvon Martin protests, the bankruptcy of the City of Detroit and the collapse of al sense of a real legal system I have learned other things.  I learned them over a life which has been punctuated by crises before the current cop killings. I have made proposals here which seem radcial and far-fetched and even if they do not seems such have a small chance of success. But they are serious proposals. Such proposal have in large part come about from the realization that it is a demonstrable fact that cowardice, corruption and cruelty are normal in governance and yet fatal as well and those who live in such modes of what might be called evil often applaud themselves most loudly for doing their best. I know hard times loom large and am aware of the fact that life is without apparent justice in countless cases, but I am trying to be part of creating a plan for a better future. My model constitutions have already spelled out the answers I would propose. What I am asserting here is mostly that the course we have been on will not work and will not be survivable if continued.  Race and ethnicity must be faced and understood differently and that must happen soon. Doing it right will matter a lot.
I have decided to write most of everything I write from now on in preparation for the future which has stretched out so bleakly and horribly ahead of me for so long to be vastly worse than it has long been. I think that the time will be coming soon enough when I will sign off my web presence entirely but I will at least have written the things I will have wanted to say as the years of living hell extend into a limitless misery at least until death. I need to set a frame of reference I suppose, the person I respect the most among the living in the world today is me. That does not make me happy but it is the truth.

The truth of much policy and political philosophy is that it exists framed and living in a dialectic between that which must be done in a crisis and that which can be reasoned and properly debated in relative leisure during times not defined by a particularly urgent crisis.  Lives like those of Gaines and others do map out a path of the minds that must engage the crises in which we live. History well understood makes it possible to be better informed about what is possible in a the new time in which we live. But we must have the basic facts and realities of society clear enough for our decisions to possible matter .  The struggle of every society to formulate policy and then to put it into effect is one of the great themes of history although it may less often make its way into the titles of books or even their chapter headings. The truth is that most good historians telling most good and important histories have at least some interest in how the people of a given period discussed and intellectually prepared for a great historical crisis when it was incipient, developing and the then escalating. The activity during the time when the crisis is acute is not likely to produce original theoretical frameworks or innovative discussion which is really excellent. Instead those acting in the acute stage are often doing more than can be expected if they can reach for and apply the best theories and remedies which have been reasoned out and proposed in advance.


There is no shortage of information out and about which connects Islam to terror, here is such a post. The concern about how intense and intrinsic the basic disagreement with Islam may be is also something which has been discussed here and there online.  The first link given has John Quincy Adams expressing the awareness of a basic animosity in Islam itself. The second post shows how Sarah Palin feels that Iran is outside the pale of diplomacy and how this relates to Islamic governance there.

One of my Facebook friends who also purchased the house I was living in before recently moving into my grandparents old house has long published a string of posts about Islam and its history with the West. I publish one of those posts here. It is unattributed beyond him but the facts are more or less right — with the exception that Crusade is a Christian word and Jihad is the Muslim equivalent. I reproduce this post from a man whose names start with the initials P. P. only knowing that it is largely correct and also expresses the feelings of a real American in my own sphere of contact and influence:

630 Muhammad conquers Mecca from his base in Medina.
632 Muhammad dies in Medina. Islam controls the Hijaz.
636 Muslims conquest of Syria, and the surrounding lands, all Christian – including Palestine and Babylonia/Mesopotamia (Iraq).
637 Muslim Crusaders conquer Iraq (some date it in 635 or 636).
638 Muslim Crusaders conquer and annex Jerusalem, taking it from the Byzantines.
638 – 650 Muslim Crusaders conquer Persia (Iran), except along Caspian Sea.
639 – 642 Muslim Crusaders conquer Egypt.
641 Muslim Crusaders control Syria and Palestine.
643 – 707 Muslim Crusaders conquer North Africa.
644 – 650 Muslim Crusaders conquer Cyprus, Tripoli in North Africa, and establish Islamic rule in Iran, Afghanistan, and Sindh.
673 – 678 Arabs besiege Constantinople, capital of Byzantine Empire.
691 Dome of the Rock is completed in Jerusalem, only six decades after Muhammad’s death.
710 – 713 Muslim Crusaders conquer the lower Indus Valley.
711 – 713 Muslim Crusaders conquer Spain and impose the kingdom of Andalus. The Muslim conquest moves into Europe.
718 Conquest of Spain complete.
732 Muslim invasion of France is stopped at the Battle of Poitiers / Battle of Tours. The Franks, under their leader Charles Martel (the grandfather of Charlemagne), defeat the Muslims and turn them back out of France.
762 Foundation of Baghdad.
785 Foundation of the Great Mosque of Cordova.
789 Rise of Idrisid amirs (Muslim Crusaders) in Morocco; Christoforos, a Muslim who converted to Christianity, is executed.
800 Autonomous Aghlabid dynasty (Muslim Crusaders) in Tunisia
807 Caliph Harun al—Rashid orders the destruction of non-Muslim prayer houses & of the church of Mary Magdalene in Jerusalem.
809 Aghlabids (Muslim Crusaders) conquer Sardinia, Italy.
813 Christians in Palestine are attacked; many flee the country.
831 Muslim Crusaders capture Palermo, Italy; raids in Southern Italy.
837 – 901 Aghlabids (Muslim Crusaders) conquer Sicily, raid Corsica, Italy, France.
869 – 883 Revolt of black slaves in Iraq.
909 Rise of the Fatimid Caliphate in Tunisia; these Muslim Crusaders occupy Sicily, Sardinia.
928 – 969 Byzantine military revival, they retake old territories, such as Cyprus (964) and Tarsus (969).
937 The Church of the Resurrection (aka Church of Holy Sepulchre) is burned down by Muslims; more churches in Jerusalem are attacked.
960 Conversion of Qarakhanid Turks to Islam.
969 Fatimids (Muslim Crusaders) conquer Egypt and found Cairo.
973 Palestine and southern Syria are again conquered by the Fatimids.
1003 First persecutions by al—Hakim; the Church of St. Mark in Fustat, Egypt, is destroyed.
1009 Destruction of the Church of the Resurrection by al—Hakim (see 937).
1012 Beginning of al—Hakim’s oppressive decrees against Jews and Christians.
1050 Creation of Almoravid (Muslim Crusaders) movement in Mauretania; Almoravids (aka Murabitun) are coalition of western Saharan Berbers; followers of Islam, focusing on the Qur’an, the Hadith, and Maliki law.
1071 Battle of Manzikert, Seljuk Turks (Muslim Crusaders) defeat Byzantines and occupy much of Anatolia.
1071 Turks (Muslim Crusaders) invade Palestine.
1073 Conquest of Jerusalem by Turks (Muslim Crusaders).
1075 Seljuks (Muslim Crusaders) capture Nicea (Iznik) and make it their capital in Anatolia.
1076 Almoravids (Muslim Crusaders) (see 1050) conquer western Ghana.
1086 Almoravids (Muslim Crusaders) (see 1050) send help to Andalus, Battle of Zallaca.
1090 – 1091 Almoravids (Muslim Crusaders) occupy all of Andalus except Saragossa and Balearic Islands.

Only after all of the Islamic aggressive invasions is when Western Christendom launches its first Crusades.

1094 Byzantine emperor Alexius Comnenus I asks western Christendom for help against Seljuk (Muslim Turks) invasions of his territory.
1095 Pope Urban II preaches first Crusade; they capture Jerusalem in 1099.”


So now I conclude, what do we expect or want to happen if America does not face the facts of being eroded and interpreted into a position where it cannot respond. People like our President tend to believe that the Christianity among Blacks emerged as a sort of covert Islam. There is an element of truth in that. But all Christianity brings forth the culture of those who embrace the faith. In addition not all slaves came to the new world with Islamic roots and not all converts were slaves. We have much to do and honestly not much chance of of doing it. But our national future hangs in the balance.

Louisiana and the Lost Legacies

The  recent study that is reported on by the Washington Post here brings up issues familiar to readers of this blog. Louisiana is ranked the third worst state in the nation in which to grow up. The article reports on the recently released  Annie E. Casey Foundation’s release of the findings of its 26th annual Kids Count report. While the report deserves more critical and sanguine analysis of methods, biases and presumptions than it receives it remains a professional and respected investigation into the health, education and economic well-being among American children and seeks to determine what trends are indicated by data collected and compared in the study. I have visited the issues of Louisiana’s low rankings before almost exactly a year before this post came out in fact. That post which is excerpted here from time to time appears at this link.

Louisiana has often been ranked at or near the bottom of various surveys and  studies that claim to show the relative position of various states in the United States as regards the kind of excellence a particular study seeks to define and understand. Those seeking to lead or hold public office in this state have long had to contend with the perception of inferiority as well as with the rankings that proclaim that inferiority. There are few enough conversations regarding policy which do not include a discussion of these realities: Louisiana is perceived as straggling and in many regards (even if the studies are flawed in some ways), it is straggling as regards the United States. One hesitates to post pictures with this kind of  an opening paragraph and to identify people with the negative comments and  categorization of the State. But most of those deeply involved in life here are well aware of  these perceptions and both the problems that cause the poor rankings and the problems that arise from  the poor rankings.

There was a ranking of Louisiana schools among the schools of the United States of America last year at about this time that inspired my earlier post. That article was discussed in the Daily Advertiser and  if the link still functions should be accessible here.  The survey ranked Louisiana schools at 47 out of perhaps 51 systems with the district of Columbia. Interestingly, the  Yahoo News did a ranking of fifty states about the same time and did that ranking on the broadest possible basis and ranked Louisiana of all fifty states and in that ranking Louisiana came out ranked fifth.  The two surveys may have been profoundly different and the new Casey Foundation survey may have  looked at different things as well. But surveys are tricky things, as are polls, studies and rankings. The question of what is good is a philosophical one and philosophy is very much in decline in this country and the world. We may ask if California’s horrible history of unsustainable water policy was built into the Casey study, or Oklahoma and the Northern plains far above them had to account in some way for soil depletion in the thirties and the resulting horror of the Dust Bowl. Or whether displaced Aboriginal Americans were made to count against people in terms of determining the tolerance of New England and the Mid West. My guess is that a trained critical and philosophical inquirer being honest would find that almost nothing like this was attempted but that in countless ways a punishment for slavery and the Confederacy’s perceived rebellion was built into the study.

The reality of the South as a subjugated and oppressed region of the United States does not cease to exist because things are never reported that way. Assumptions are never perfect in any of our major policy discussions and deeply held assumptions are seldom closely examined.  While we decry global warming and other forms of climate change  and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and the rise of ISIS and many other groups devoted to modern Islamist Terror Jihad, and the crumbling US infrastructure and signs of geopolitical tension the tendency which defines our era most of all is the unwillingness to consider how larger systems of thought and belief distinctive to our own time might need to be reformed to handle the crises of our times. My undergraduate alma mater got rid of its philosophy department since I graduated and there are many reasons for this and the simple existence of such a department does not in fact assure anyone or any institution of very much but it is nonetheless a significant datum.
This sort of  deep and pervasive intellectual blindness is grievous beyond being simply sad and  when closely examined only goes to show how horribly out of balance the priorities of this society are in fact. Such decisions  as what to do with budgets, whom to hire and what courses to teach are often made very much in direct response to studies, polls and surveys which are really malicious in design if not in human intent (although that should not be taken for granted). Therefore a truly horrifying decision can make a kind of sense when one reasons from many bad starting places provided by highly respected sources and reinforced by federal policy all at the same time.
The Vermilion Parish School Board employed me as a substitute teacher for several years and then a few years ago employed me in a chaotic and abusive mess without definition through a new computer system. But it was not the worst system I have been exposed to. I have a GED diploma from Abbeville High School to bring together study in over a dozen pre-collegiate institutions and my dearly cherished niece and goddaughter graduated from the same school in a year after being admitted  and having done two years at John Paul the Great Academy in Lafayette. The institution struggles for money often enough and I have been shorted, had supplies misplaced or lost because of odd conditions symbolic of shortages and have known others who have experienced similar problems. But lately the Board has been praised for having very high graduation rates compared to the rest of the State of Louisiana. This has not ended the budget crisis and there was an announcement that no human French teacher would be assigned to Erath High School in the Future. The Parish  public system has several High Schools but not a plethora. As I recall there are now Abbeville High, Kaplan High, Gueydan High, Erath High, North Vermilion High and none other that I can think of at this time. There used to be more and some students travel a long way past old high schools to their new facilities. There are many home school students, various correspondence schools and a few modestly sized but not tiny sectarian or private schools in addition to the old  Catholic  high school which was refounded and renamed Vermilion Catholic High School when I was more or less and infant (it is a successor to Mount Carmel High School). Its hard to know how much the public schools represent the totality of education in the parish.  I reacted strongly in an email circulated in the aftermath of this decision and my reaction was very negative. I feel that  this single decision was made possible by rankings of graduation rates and is a horrible attack on our Vermilion Parish professional community and on our cultural life and heritage.
Every part of the country lives in a tension with these national rankings and their local consequences and there are many ways to respond badly. I found the VPSB choice horribly disloyal to the local community and its needs and traditions — although what will happen in the end I am not sure. However, others have supported their local communities in ways that undermine all integrity of the whole system. But the education picture in the country as a whole is far from clear. Lying, fibbing, making up nonsense and ignoring reality are very important parts of the reporting of schools and of educational performance in this country more than most. I discussed the Atlanta Public Schools in those terms in a post linked here.
But I  will revisit the most relevant parts of the post within this blog post. The Atlanta Public Schools were reacting to their very poor performance  on these tests which are another basis for making so many decisions. I respect their concern that the tests are not perfect measures of anything and do not always produce worthwhile goals and incentives for educational policy. As those who read me extensively in this blog or otherwise will know, I have been a teacher in numerous contexts as well as being a person who has taken many standardized tests. I have also advised people I cared about who take standardized tests.The testing culture which shapes testing results and does not produce the prosecutions which occurred in Atlanta is not a pure and pristine testing culture by any means.  Let me assure anyone unsure that people provide skinnies and acquire early copies of master forms and provide for special conditions for pretty girls who can use their favors to influence the right people, for stellar athletes who cannot make the grade after extensive tutorials and for the relations of rich donors to universities and prep schools. Teacher’s pets can sometimes be rewarded with hints that are unfair to others. That kind of impurity which is not so shocking but offends a sense of the sportsmanship that goes with standardized testing regimes is rampant enough to offend but not pervasive or normal in most testing regimes around the world. Beyond all of this in our own country margins are attached to scores to provide affirmative action for racial minorities, for women, for veterans and for the disabled before making decisions that will apply the scores. Different people react differently to different elements of these variations but  they all make the tests something other than pure objective scientific measurement.  Similar things happen in the world of polling, surveys and  studies.
 In addition to all of these ways of shaping  results not very good but very old techniques of  intimidation, cheating lies and abuse not much modified since the early stone ages still occur in all sort of places around the world and are not absent from educational measurements. If that is the case then does it matter if the  kind of criminal cheating on a massive scale occurred in Georgia under what amounts to official gangsterism as the APS scandal  of 2013  and before? Does it matter that Beverly Hall and others in the Atlanta Public School System presided over wholesale distortions in public school testing, motivated largely by inflated racial loyalties driven by distorted national policies and false perspectives? Yes I think it matters.  Just as it matters that the VPSB superintendent Puyau who appears to be of at least partial Louisiana French descent is not able find the loyalty to fight for our region’s heritage Just as the it matters that the President Anthony Fontana child of a Sicilian American father who was a teacher  and a Cajun (therefore American) mother who was a teacher could not find motivation to fight harder to preserve this key teacher if he fought for that at all. It is not so much that compared to the Atlanta system in a state that did better in the Casey Foundation study the VPSB were not paragons of ethics. Compared to the APS the VPSB deserved none of  all the horrible and relatively obscene things I was calling them in my inside voice as I type that first email response to the news — that is not the point. The point is that in response to all of the vast supply of objective information that is supposed to make things better the VPSB in this instance became part of a vast and comprehensive societal movement to worthlessness. I write these angry and inflammatory words about them or about the APS or about the measuring  establishment  and  yet anyone can guess that I wonder if  perhaps we  who dislike these outcomes largely deserve them. I write that because I know the basic futility of my complaints because I surely cannot make all the difference alone and apparently others feel much the same, the people who feel that sense of hopelessness are not stupid. The measures  of the Board I called the Very Poorly Structured Budgeters  in my email were based on a contempt for their constituents that comes largely from national studies designed against these people and which they use to calculate needs and resources and make decisions that arise from accepted practices and from the parameters by which they define their objectives it is a larger picture and not their specific practices which are entirely flawed. That does not mean there is no personal are moral fault. I was not then and am not now  afraid for my critique to come to the attention of Puyau, Fontana or anyone else in my small community.  Nor was I afraid to offend the Black Exaltationists of the country in the APS post.  I believe they should be grown ups and perhaps they believe that as well. But despite whatever differences we may have this is not only about personal values. Just as I criticize them I also know there is wholesale lying and cheating is occurring in many school districts around the country.
I myself have mixed feelings and a mix of things to say about standardized testing itself. I know we have visions create by national standards and studies that are shaped by those who do not believe high schools should ever have more diverse educational outcomes leading to apprenticeships, tech schools and work programs for a good portion of seniors who will still graduate and take some classes in the main school. Those are things that I think should happen.  Likewise they should offer advanced college prep and individual classes. I also think a military track should exist in each school. In other words I think the public school system is broken. I think reliance on studies that are assumed to be well intended but are not  must change or we will pay an ever higher price.
This sense of what the ideals are is very real and very powerful and the APS case in Georgia illustrates that fact.  Consider the stature  of Beverly Hall and the thirty or so other school officials indicted in the investigation of cheating in the Atlanta Public School System. This is especially important because Ms. Hall has been honored as National School System Superintendent of the Year and has been a symbol for many of the direction in which our American educational culture ought to be moving.  Hall’s behavior cannot be understood without reference to the national policies arising from the issue of race and the significance of these events being first uncovered beneath the Georgia flag. In this struggle by the State of Georgia and other authorities to deal with these issues the colors which were the confederate battle flag has waved above this instance of endless and widespread nonviolent black supremacy. The flag has often been attacked in Georgia but the falsification of all standards to promote the relative position of the Black race in our society has been fostered by all our learned and moral opinions. Now the  the whole Confederate history is nearly wiped away  because homicidal action of Dylan Roof in a very political but also sacred church. This action surely needs to be condemned and I have done so, but it has a context in the violence of our society more than in the Confederate Flag. The events and actions of this young man are much horrifying in appearance and also so prejudged that any chance he went in to do something other than murder cannot be considered by many who never prejudge any other homicide that way. He may have been looking for trouble but not planning to kill anyone — a trial should determine that.
The Washington Post article cited here at the start of this post is Christopher Ingraham’s continuance in a well established tradition of  showing the horrors of the South carrying onto the future from the past. But other horrors are little examined. We have not as a society correctly calculated the consequences of rhetoric and policy extolling equality in a way which destroys ethnic and regional richness and replaces it with shallow absurdity. Or the consequence of an indoctrination maniacally  demonizing racial distinction and white supremacy of any kind.   We do not consider the consequences of failure to investigate highly organized falsifications and badly designed standards while pouring resources into repeatedly simplifying the mechanisms of stopping fraud at many points. We do not understand the exigencies of any kind of meritocratic institutions on which we must rely. Today as we think back on the Independence Day anniversaries of 150 years since the greatest battle ever fought in the Western Hemisphere was drawn out at Gettysburg and the horror of the Vicksburg siege ended in the failed Confederacy we must recognize the change which Gettysburg assured has been a complicated kind of change bringing both good and evil to Georgia and the South. We must also consider that process launched in and for our nation. The occupation of the South and the repression of its state institutions by the federal government has never ended and has not abated. The morals of it have never been fairly examined.  But examining and measuring have been part of the oppression. But before focusing on race let me examine some other implications of all this horrific mess.
The creation of a destructive class of vicious and entitled black abusers has been one result, Dylan Roof and others who may be like him has been another result, but they are not the only groups empowered and supported against the society and culture of these states and all of the union. Just as not all in our School Board are eager to destroy our heritage and there are  in countless school districts many African Americans who would participate in a more positive system drawing on a diverse set of roots of progress. But these people are overwhelmed in the stream of a fantasized racial exact equality in our land. The Black Republicanism which many in the South and the Northern Opposition sought to stop in the War Between the States has reached its fruit and full flower in many places across our society. This racial element is very significant in all of this although one must applaud the black officers of the court who are involved in the prosecution and the black teachers and administrators who lost their jobs in droves opposing the total adulteration of scholastic integrity. There story is not much being told yet and may not be told. It is a story which ought to inspire us to give to the United Negro College Fund and to see in institutions like Grambling and Southern University in my own state. There is in such racially conscious institutions a different ethic than the wholesale cultural terrorism that the US Supreme Court has imposed upon the Union of the States. We are not likely to see such an outpouring of generosity to the UNCF by “Southron” whites of the old school.  We are more likely to see the anger and resentment captured in at least some of the Trump supporting movement. I am not sure Trump is a bad guy but his approach breeds alienation. It is more successful and appealing than anything I have to say in a country rocked by hopeless resentment or racially charged righteous anger.
Right now  when they meet a blindly accepted  national standard relatively honestly and their graduation rate is high a school board may feel that they can do anything they want and they are the good guys. What something like the last French teacher or the last teacher’s absence in any major subject and this subject most of all can do to a community is a hard thing to calculate. I do not know even now in the case of the VPSB who voted which way and I do not no know the depths of their budget crisis, I do not know just how intransigent the teacher’s union was in preventing other settlements.  But while this situation of crisis and the structural maladies are enormous that does not absolve the persons involved. The standards received from some national measuring apparatus are not to be examined in detail they are to be used to define all aspects of life and not to be criticized by anyone who know what I consider most worth knowing for any reason. Often time a norm is not a standard of excellence but a prohibition of excellence “Making every child a little behind” who is “common to the core” is my idea for a good honest name for our pedagogical history.
California has migrants and illegal aliens whose educational status is often less honestly reported than ours and I recommend reading Leah Remini’s book Troublemaker and asking yourself if her memoir doesn’t indicate that lots of the Scientologists in the Golden State are not getting much of an education as we usually measure it. Tom Wolfe’s  novel Bonfire of the Vanities describes a fictional public school outside the Deep South that is horrifying and is based on his deep and meticulous factual research. And are we supposed to believe that in the horrors of Chi-raq — bloody Chicago they do all the even we know they do but tell the truth about children’s welfare?   There are troubles here but there are troubles everywhere and the national lying campaign does not help.

The struggle of life in Louisiana is an easy one to simplify.  The student who struggle in many ways with situations in our public schools and post secondary education  are preparing for a life of struggle here or away from here. But the struggle is not always fairly meaured as regards what we achieve in an ongoing struggle as to where we stand in the country.  Louisiana has been amazingly dominant in the millions of pounds of seafood landed at saltwater ports. There are times when half of the top five or ten ports were Louisiana ports in that category. We have never done as well in ranking of the dollar values of catches landed. Although the seafood industry is still a big deal.

Louisiana has done an amazing job of leading in the production of offshore oil and gas at various times but has gotten little of that money into state coffers to invest in things like education. The federal government has taken most of that revenue from huge categories of mineral production and has sent back funds in other forms with less social benefit like transfer payments to needy in systems that foster permanent poverty.

The Gulf of Mexico's oil reserves remain vital to our country's future.

Louisiana has a vast treasury of cultural resources but exists in a society committed in general to degrading and destroying those resources over time.Jean Lafitte National Park and CODOFIL notwithstanding there has been a constant war on the distinctive values and traditions and assets of the state. So one has to ask what people here are being educated towards and why and how.

This may be one of the many reasons why although Louisiana has above average military enlistment it ranks below some of its neighbors in the former Confederacy. The military establishment here is significant but certainly not the biggest Fort Polk came out of recent reductions pretty well but over the decades has lost ground to other bases like Fort Hood. Fort Polk may have to change its name to Fort Parks but for now is named after a Confederate General. So rankings are part of the overall struggle to make sense of our place in the world.


My cousin Severin was killed in battle in Afghanistan.

Not very many people read this neglected blog compared to its heyday. However many of those who do have not heard of the term Silicon Bayou. There is disagreement about all aspects of the term. However the truth is that the area from New Orleans to Houston including Baton Rouge and Lafayette most of all is a technology center for the nation many aspects of the industries and universities in the region are ranked well in the fields of technology and information science.  The future is being built and sought here and has been for a long time. The results are always going to be mixed for many reasons.  I myself once led a group of interested people around the world in developing a plan for colonizing the Moon and Mars. There are thousands of ventures that do not achieve major recognition that have some influence. But there are also large operations and institutions.

How a crater on the Moon or Mars might be developed.

That brings us back to the idea of perception. Louisiana has a substantial tourism industry and a substantial film industry. Both of these industries labor to improve perceptions of the state in different ways. Nonetheless, there is little perception nationally or globally of how much this state faces challenges for the world and the nation and not caused primarily by the negligence or incompetence of this society itself. In fact I am very discouraged about the state, personally discouraged and discouraged at all kinds of levels. But the State has problems brought on us from the larger society as well. Those problems and our reactions to them affect our children’s lives as well.

Shrimp boats become skimmers

In the face of all the challenges of Louisiana life in this time it is interesting to not that Lafayette has been ranked as one of the happiest or the happiest city in the United States of America.  This happiness is not indifferent to or disconnected from all of our modern struggles but is perhaps rooted in our older heritage. That is perhaps also a key to how we perceive ourselves.


my great grandmother's painting

As we all seek to find our way forward it is useful to remember who we are, to see who we wish to become and to try to help our young people realize dreams they and we both can value and affirm. The future after all is uncertain and we cannot be sure where everything will end up. I know that we will not find a way forward if we lose all respect for one another.

Congratulating Louisiana State Senator Fred Mills on reforming Marijuana law...


Presidential Politics and Ideologies

This blog has been among many other things the site for a duel between the very unevenly resourced ideological positions of President Barack Hussein Obama and the ideological positions of Frank Wynerth Summers III. That is not entirely a fair analysis of anything but it is close enough to be useful. It is close enough to the truth to open this blog post. Remember the book The Age of Obama? Has is turned out the way that book led us to believe it might turn out if the great bringer of Hope and Change were to bring his policies into the White House for eight years? What of all the articles in periodicals and pieces on television shows that predicted a post racial America, has that happened?

Lately there has been the shooting of the people in the Emanuel AME Church, the Lafayette Theater shooting, the bombing of two church exteriors of different types, the burning of black churches and the recent graffiti attack on a synagogue in San Antonio and much of this received barely a mention in this blog but there have been mentions. Like the police officers shot and the neighborhoods burning this sort of thing seems different that the usual ideological conflicts I have discussed here.  There are serious Nazis and neo Nazis in America who are far more dangerous to some people than the painting and shooting folks seen lately and it is not easy to say how much the two groups interact. One could argue that America’s political parties are losing control over their brand and the ideologies associated with being Republican or Democrat can’t compete  within their own labels. So what is the ideological framework here that faces the ideological complexity of the world? Are we living in an America so transformed by a continuous Civil Rights struggle that a new and unified America based on equality looks out at the world through that lens?

Did David Remnick’s book The Bridge capture the essence of an Obama who fulfilled the dreams behind the Civil Rights Movement and encapsulated and personified them in himself?

Conservative Indian-American scholar Dinesh D’Souza has produced two films, numerous lectures and the book The Roots of Obama’s Rage  which among other things seek to explain Obama as an anti-colonialist ideologue.  I think that his analysis is basically correct in large areas. However, there are also areas where I disagree with him and the work to be done to analyze all of this scholarship and writing goes far beyond what I can do in this post. The truth is that Obama as he is perceived by his supporters and any other positioned person he happens to be do not always come close enough together to be examined as one thing and one person or leader. Will this ideology of anti-colonialism be the legacy of Obama that his successor will have to deal with?

The popular mass street politics of the left may yet be telling ...

The popular mass street politics of the left may yet be telling …

In other posts I have dealt more than I will here with the energy behind the Black Lives Matter Movement, the Occupy Movement, The Tea Party, Act Up, protesters for and against the Confederate Flag. With these and so many other signs of discontent can we speak of an American ideology that will be led by a President? Do we simply have a society of contending ideologies?

Does Al Gore have a chance of leading a Green Ideology into power in the Democratic Party and then into the White House? I am pretty Green and would not join the Green Party and have left the Democrats, I probably would not come home with Al but would someone else? Would enough people unite with him around those issues to constitute an ideological shift? Former Vice President Gore has not declared that he is running but we can imagine a Green Democrats ideology that might be formidable…

Louisiana State Bird a victim

Louisiana State Bird a victim

Nonetheless lots of Americans care about the environment and some are pretty dismissive of it and those splits do not always relate to a very identifiable ideology. Gore himself seems far from a predictable ideologue. Nor is it clear that Americans are seeking a leader with a strongly ideological bent as they are facing moderate complex political systems in competition as well as places and systems like Cuba, Iran, North Korea and ISIS who seem to have very strong and clear ideologies

What is Donald J. Trump’s ideology? Most of us are not sure. We feel more sure about Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul if we have any idea what an ideology is we feel that each of those men are very ideological and committed. We may not evaluate their ideologies the same way but most of us feel that they clearly have evolved and embraced a distinct political ideology.  We may also not be sure about whether an American President should have a distinct ideology. Is ideology a word that applies to American politics?

We have a responsibility to understand the words we use to shape our live and society. This is a picture of the Declarators committee.

We have a responsibility to understand the words we use to shape our live and society. This is a picture of the Declarators committee.

I think we can disagree a great deal about what the American ideological framework is, about what it ought to be and about how intensely it should interact with Presidential politics. Nonetheless, I think most serious and honest people will come to accept after study that ideology has its place in American politics as well. America must engage a world shaped by complex ideological factors. One of the challenges of recent years has been to define the ideology of President Barack Hussein Obama.


The crowd of people who are running for President of the United States may not be aware of the fact that struggle of ideologies across the world is a great struggle. It is a struggle as complex and challenging in its implications as any struggle across the face of the globe has ever been.

The world always goes on around family events and sometimes they get a bit of notice.

The world always goes on around family events and sometimes they get a bit of notice.

We are facing a great deal of complexity in the way that power and development are configured in the world. China ruled by the Communist party is influenced heavily by the hybrid post Soviet gangster oligarchy cum neo-socialist planning cum free market capitalism of Russia.  China is also influenced by its own reinterpretation of neglected socialist paths, Confucianism and its Imperial Heritage. China is influenced positively and is also pushed to active opposition by post KMT Taiwan. It is influenced by the capitalist American treaty partners in the region — Japan, Korea and Vietnam. The British Commonwealth’s lingering influence in Hong Kong and its bastion in India are continuing influences. The Muslim provinces and the Muslim powers in the region also exert a definable influence. Chinese ideology is not a random hodgepodge of all these influences but it is responsive to all of these influences.   The next American President will have to pay some attention to the realities that the Chinese are paying attention to if he or she wishes to understand what Chinese leaders and thinkers are planning and doing. The Chinese constitution is important to understand but the ideology by which leaders operate within the constitutional framework is not less important to understand.

What then of the ideologies that dominate Mexico, Japan, the United Kingdom,  France, Saudi Arabia, Cuba and Iran? Are we ready to allow the next leader to take office without a thorough understanding of at least how an ideology or system of political ideas tends to operate in and across systems of power and forms of governance?

Obama has been President of the United States and written two books which I have read. I think I understand some things about his ideology by now. That will leave its mark on our future regardless of what else happens.

Donald Trump and the Current Political Moment

Donald Trump is running for President. He is a significant and influential figure in the United States of America. He is not merely a rich man but a man with an association with the ideas and conceptions of wealth across America.   His show The Apprentice and his casinos all represent the glamour and and appeal of money in an unapologetic way.

I have begun drafting this post just before the first debate of the Republican primaries of the Presidential electoral campaigns. This will give him a chance to go up against other people, in fact only nine other men who also want to be President of the United States of America. It might be that the least successful approach to this subject in terms of timing would be to write a post just before the debate that will allow us all to see what is going on in the life, mind and politics of Mr. Donald Trump.  So far we know little except that  he is a wealthy celebrity businessman who questioned whether or not President Barack Hussein Obama was born in the United States.

Americans are concerned about  the shrinking economic prospects in the country. Americans are concerned about a sense of diminished hopes for the kind of future that can lead to outcomes they believe in and a better future than the current state of things. Many find in Donald Trump a chance to believe in someone who is eager to proclaim that he can lead America back to greatness. His slogan is, “Make America Great Again”.

Familiar Greenbacks

America is used to paper money as a great symbol of National unity as well as the tangible form of our unifying preoccupation.

Donald Trump has been saying a lot of things that a lot of Americans  can understand and which represent feelings many Americans share.  He shows a confidence in America and its power to win and to lead which many people find very attractive. I am not sure of all the context of his remarks about immigrants from Mexico. I am sure that Mexican and other migrants arriving with all sorts of levels of documentation do contribute greatly to our economy. They also inflict and exact a cost. I agree with anyone who believes that one of the primary tasks of governance is to control borders and sovereign territory and to manage the census, records and planning related to demographics and population groups. It is also true that all sorts of crime, smuggling risk is associated with our borders. Unlike Mr. Trump I really want to let anyone who thinks about me in political terms know that I really want to see America double down and double down again in its commitment to NAFTA, the Organization of American States, the Pan American Games, the creative and sensitive reinterpretation of the Monroe Doctrine and many other institutions. I want to see the United States become a country where a man like Jorge Bergoglio could be well known even before his address changed to the Vatican and he became the Bishop of Rome.

I just read Mike Huckabee’s book God, Guns, Grits and Gravy. I wonder to what degree Donald Trump intends to be an antidote to Huckabee. Trump is the other kind of populist than Huckabee’s populism based in the NASCAR, Southern Baptist and  Duck Dynasty hubs of the South. Huckabee contrasts Bubba-ville and Bubbleville and there is no doubt that Trump is from what Huckabee calls Bubbleville. Is Trump rooted  enough in the other conservative elements of American society given how far he is from Bubba-ville?

Gettysburg settled upon our country many parts of a new consensus . . .

Gettysburg settled upon our country many parts of a new consensus . . .

We face many challenges as a society, a federal union and as the United States of America. Donald Trump is like many other running for President of the United States in that he is an accomplished person who has shown he can get things done. He is like them in his capacity to express himself in a way many people find compelling and in that he cares about this country.

I am not a Republican. But I am interested in watching the Republican Primary debates. In Louisiana we have an open primary, majoritarian outcome system. Although this is modified for the Presidential and only truly national (although it is a Federal and not unitary election in structure) US election it still affects the way we approach politics. Here anyone can vote in a primary and if one person gets more than half of all votes cast he wins as Jindal did in his first election as governor. If not the two top vote-getters run again and one is assure to have more than half the vote cast and is elected.

So since I left the Democrats in 1993 and have voted as a Louisiana citizen not being in a party has not affected me as much as in most other states. However, a few elections have had closed primaries for complex constitutional reasons. But the Presidential elections are under a different set of rules. Louisiana is also one of a few states that has its statewide elections in the year before the Presidential elections when the national party primary elections are being contested.

I expect Donald Trump to make headlines tonight. But what kinds of headlines where?

We all have images of what leadership should look like which are not simple portrayals of reality.

We all have images of what leadership should look like which are not simple portrayals of reality.

Many of us are concerned about divisions in the country. Does Donald Trump have what it takes to reach people who would identify more with Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Carla Fiorino and Mike Huckabee. People one might possibly notice were Latino, African-American, women or Southern?

He certainly cannot win by getting the votes of only rich celebrities. I think that the debate tonight is his to lose. This is a long way from the White House. But this is Trump’s moment.  Can the Miss USA promoter stand out in his own line up of candidates?

There is a song interpreted by Julianne Hough which says in part,

Hard to find, took some time
But I think that I might be hittin’
On what’s been missing all along
Singing my hallelujah song

Trump has been honest in his concern for Christians being tortured and killed and it has caused him to search his faith I think. It has not been something he has done very gracefully. I think he may well live to regret this whole campaign. But I think now he is on a moral and spiritual quest carrying a lot of Americans with him. Can a worldly, rich, good-timing man who loves the spotlight  emerge as a great leader? Many are eager to say “no!’ I am not one of those people. I believe the Donald really is digging in and I am not sure whether what he finds will be enough to produce greatness or not…

Dying Young in America: Contrasts in Black and White

I am going to discuss Thanksgiving in this blog post. I  wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving here and will do so again. But unfortunately this is not a post about the joys, pleasures and warmth of the season.   Sadly it panders the personal to the political. Because I feel obligated to engage the issues of my time and place.

A Christmas turkey opened like the one ready for Thanksgiving here and now.

A Christmas turkey opened like the one ready for Thanksgiving here and now.

There is a lot being said about race in America right now.  I am adding to it a few ideas that may give shape to larger and smaller discussions of race in this blog. To do this I am sacrificing a chance to blog on Thanksgiving topics solely. I am discussing the death of a relative outside an obituary context. But I feel that I want to give some general ideas of what I have always thought about race before dealing with recent events out of context or not responding as some visit racial posts I have put up in the past.

The Civil Rights movement has shaped much of my life experience. I am fifty years old.

The Civil Rights movement has shaped much of my life experience. I am fifty years old.

I am out not doing as much as I should to get ready for Thanksgiving probably. That includes the fact that this post is not as thanksgiving oriented as it ought to be in an ideal world. I did find some holiday spirit yesterday as I made an effort to be in the right spirit and also to rush through the Thanksgiving shopping I am doing to help my mother this year.  I enjoyed the three years when I brought a turkey twice and a ham once. It made me feel less bleak in the holidays. I also enjoyed the company and the leftovers. It is always a challenge to blend dishes as I recall back from the years when I won turkeys for Thanksgiving and hams for Christmas at the big house from the Meridional football prediction contests and or combined with vendor canvassing contests by the same newspaper. I think of those years and the three years I bought the family smoke turkeys to add to Thanksgiving.. I will plan to attend on my own wheels and schedule but let Mom’s goods represent the kitchen I used in those years. I will try to pick up a few drinks. I will probably only be there not so very long and am trying to control how much I eat this season and have no separate leftovers to store so mostly a seat is what I will require. I of course look forward to the visit I also remember cleaning up after the big meals and know that is a gift to all of those who attend which goes past the limited time I will be there and so I am appreciative of that as well. I do remember a couple of pretty sad Thanksgiving Days spent by myself. Likewise some  shared with friends, relatives and near strangers in odd groupings.

A dinner over a holiday other than the principal dinner at the home my grandparents owned on 1812 Palmer Avenue in New Orleans -- my uncle Will and I

A dinner over a holiday other than the principal dinner at the home my grandparents owned on 1812 Palmer Avenue in New Orleans — my uncle Will and I with Dad on the right edge

Thanksgiving Dinner is of course a big deal and a special occasion. It is great of my sister to host this event this year. The details change from year to year but I am glad to see the family keeping things going and her role is appreciated. This season I intend to do less of everything than usual and see how things work day to day but I hope to enjoy what I am able to do. But the holidays are special and sacred. This year mine are crowded with distractions.

I spent Sunday and Monday marking the passing of Jerrel “Bubba” Hancock who died Thursday, November 20, 2014. . This was a very traumatic time and the loss of such a young life was stinging. I was off Facebook for a while and lost a few FB friends  from my list with whom I mostly communicated by Facebook and the lest of those who left included the widow of my Uncle Will and her children. I just discovered when my mother asked me to identify a picture of the person who had been killed in an oilfield explosion  that Jarel “Bubba” Hancock was killed offshore. Kayler and Jennifer’s father was Will’s friend and after he died Will and Brenda eventually  got married and reared them together. Kayler’s husband came to some of our family gatherings as a couple and then a family. When I got the new  I was more stunned than I probably had a right to be… Bubba was only 24 and aside from his widow Kayler Roy Hancock leaves two children Lane Ross Hancock and Lexi Linn Hancock. He was a really great presence to be around. My condolences were first extended to Brenda Summers, Bubba’s sister Shalacy Griffin by name and  to all of his family and friends who may be on my Facebook account.  Here I would extend my condolences to the whole family including his father, Clarence Hancock;  his mother, Sue Clark; grandfather, Jerrel Dean Hancock; three sisters, Shalacy Griffin and her husband Heath, Courtney Duhon and her husband Keith, and Brittney Lopez and her husband Joshua; nieces, Emile Duhon, Emma Pommier, Journey Lopez; nephews, Cade Touchet, Jett Lopez, Ryker Griffin; nephew/godchild, Jax Lopez; aunt, Joyce Clark Cuevas; mother-in-law, Brenda Summers; and sister-in-law, Jennifer Pommier and her husband Jeremy.  There is so much tragedy in the story. I did contact Brenda on Facebook and called and then went to meet the mourners at  Vincent’s funeral home in Abbeville which handled the arrangements. In a life taken offshore or in an oil and gas related accident or incident people here recognize that this is a dangerous industry which also supports our local economy. Much as with whalers in history’s whaling communities, seamen in ports and miners in mining communities we note the deaths of those who fall in this line of duty as having a communal element just a little removed from a military or first responder funeral. May Bubba rest in peace.  He was gathered to his kinfolk who include his grandmother, Wilda M. Clark; great grandmother, Ella Pontiff Suire; grandfather, John Clark; uncle, John Clark, Jr.; and father-in-law, William C. Summers, My uncle. The funeral services were held Monday, November 24, 2014 at a 10:00 a.m. with a Mass of Christian Burial at St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church   and   Reverend Bill Melancon officiated the services and there were  many mourners and some well sung hymns. I do not pretend to know what everyone was thinking or felt although I did here some people talking.

View of Bubba's funeral from near the church entrance looking at the altar.

View of Bubba’s funeral from near the church entrance looking at the altar.

He was laid to rest at St. Paul Cemetery after the Mass but I did not attend the actual burial.  No doubt there will be questions about any negligence that may have cost Bubba his life but this was not a time when such questions were foremost.  People gathered to honor his life, console his bereaved and  note his passing.

Funeral cortege arrives at church which will carry the remains out to burial a bit more than an hour later.

Funeral cortege arrives at church which will carry the remains out to burial a bit more than an hour later.

However, Monday night the news came out that a grand jury did not indict Darren Wilson the officer who shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. This incident of the issuing of a no true bill caused or occasioned a violent response across the city and disruptive protests across the nation.  This is Thanksgiving week and I normally post about holidays near the holidays as you can see here, here and here. In addition, I also  devote myself to supporting the Holidays in a variety of ways.  But this year is different.  I am in the midst of some holiday preparations but they are a scaled down version of some years. I am I supposed somewhat distracted from the season by many concerns of many kinds. Happy Thanksgiving to all Americans regardless of race, ethnicity or circumstance.  I have had a bit of a bump in views and visits on this blog and I am pretty sure that such an increase had more to do with the events surrounding the Ferguson riots and the shooting of Michael Brown by Darren Wilson than it has had to do with the Holiday. Perhaps some people are looking for answers outside the political mainstream more than usual. The Holiday deserves a great deal of a post but this is not such a post. This is not even a heartwarming family post if one takes out the fact that it occurs when one might post about Thanksgiving. This is a post about America, family and community but not nearly enough about the kinds of shared feeling between colonists and aboriginal Americans which has a place on our calendar for shared and celebrated memories. The stuff about the country in this note is not about that Plymouth Thanksgiving but perhaps is related to another root of the Thanksgiving Day holiday. I have blogged about Acadian, Texan and other roots of Thanksgiving besides the Plymouth Holiday. I have also mentioned the Lincoln roots. Those seem most suitable today. So I am thinking about another of the many fathers of the Thanksgiving Holiday. To some degree it was proclaimed by Abraham Lincoln after the extremely bloody Battle of Gettysburg. Even if one believes that Gettysburg was a great and important moment of good (my own feelings are ambiguous but I am more of a Confederate sympathizer than a Lincoln fan — that much is sure) this was the darkest pattern to help make the Thanksgiving tradition. Even if you just count Yankee dead it was a bloodbath which would not have rated such a holiday under any other President we have had up to now. I don’t see the current somewhat Illinois man proclaiming such a holiday in such circumstances either. This holiday too will come after quite a bit of tumult although nothing compared to the scale of Gettysburg.

Gettysburg settled upon our country many parts of a new consensus . . .

Gettysburg settled upon our country many parts of a new consensus . . .

In this blog I have certainly addressed racial issues.  For many years I  sought to avoid addressing this so publicly and clinically as I now do quite regularly. There are many reasons for that one is that race is used to confuse issues as often as to clarify them.  There is a black man around here who is suing to see why the police shot his son and that man and his substantial body of supporters have behaved nothing like the mobs of radicals or would-be radicals and others around Ferguson and the shooting of Michael Brown. However, I do believe that we are in a racial crisis in America. I believe any number of very bad outcomes are more likely than those outcomes I would consider to good. The Ferguson riots are not isolated from a bigger picture in my view. Other instances of racial problems I have discussed can be found here, here and here. We must acknowledge those things that cause us anxiety and I am anxious about the state of racial politics in this society, the recent events associated with Michael Brown and Darren Wilson  only illustrate more alarming tensions and trends.  While it is mostly in writing I confront that anxiety here by stating what I believe to be the truth. Nonetheless, there is some long history of my life which has also been devoted to dealing with racial questions. This is a relatively risky and thankless thing to do in living acts or in writing in this blog or elsewhere but I undertake to do it because it is necessary for the other objectives of the blog. I am not defining and discussing race here in the context of every possible perspective, system of priorities or historical antecedent. I am primarily writing about race as it relates to the constitutional history of this country and the  transformation of America advocate which has occurred in my lifetime and the different transformation advocated  in this blog. That does not mean that I do not believe that the things I argue, advocate and suggest here are objectively true and valid.  It only means  that these positions and ideas would not be equally relevant to  all other circumstances and positions. I have decided to address issues of race race in my life and writing and have done so for a while.When I say that this is risky I mean that it is conceivable thatI will suffer some terrible outcome for publishing this. Such a thing is not at all impossible. But I feel the need to state my position as clearly as I can. I think that it is a serious matter. Besides Bubba’s tragic death I also think of the terrible incident involving Austin Rivault and his companions shot by Seth Fontenot. You can read more about this incident here. While this is a terrible situation nothing like the Ferguson, Missouri response is contemplated on any side of the issue.

Austin at a faith Camp reunion a few years before he was shot.

Austin at a faith Camp reunion a few years before he was shot.

Let me say that these ideas do not come out of the blue. They come out of  a tradition informed by American experience, Acadian experience, Louisiana experience, French experience, Greek and Hellenic experience and many other traditions that join to form the experience and tradition which I represent.  They are informed by a life time of travels and studies and dialogs with people of varied cultures and races around the world.  These ideas are also informed by reading and examination of any of a number of scientific surveys, treatises and postulated models for human development and behavior.  They are based on the long devotion to the study of Scripture and Church doctrine but not in the sense that I am postulating them as the authoritative Christian position. In fact, they are heavily controverted within all parts of the Christian Community. The people rioting in and with Ferguson also have a context. They see the Occupy Movement, the Arab Spring and popular culture from rap songs to movies like the Hunger Games and Insurgent in their minds. I share their awareness of tumult and  their sense of the need for change. Here then are  Twelve Principles of Racial Politics that should be understood to apply to all of my thoughts and assertions within this blog and within all of the political  models and programs I outline for application in the larger world: First Summers Racial Politics Principle:

  1. Race does exist but it is one of the more relatively fluid, complex and continuously self-transforming  categories and groupings that define humanity, the human community and the distinctions between people.
race is one part of understanding human diversity it is not the only part.

race is one part of understanding human diversity it is not the only part.

Second Summers Racial Politics Principle:

  1. As an existing quality or property of a person racial well-being was intended to be protected by the founding fathers as part of that intangible form of property that the Declaration describes as “the Pursuit of Happiness” which should not be understood solely in individual terms. The founders also intended their documents to apply in a different way to “their posterity” than to all of humanity without distinction. No understanding of America which does not embrace these realities is adequate fo charting the course of America.
We have a responsibility to understand the words we use to shape our live and society. This is a picture of the Declarators committee.

We have a responsibility to understand the words we use to shape our live and society. This is a picture of the Declarators committee.

Third Summers Racial Politics Principle:

  1. In the republican Union and in what I believe to be our proper destiny as a Federal American Empire of the United States all persons should start off on a path to hold the basic rights to vote, enter into contracts, hold property, bear arms and marry regardless of their race.
Liberty must evolve but not be abandoned.

Liberty must evolve but not be abandoned.

  1. Many of the ideas of human dignity coming from a spiritual perspective can be asserted and explained even to a materialist atheist. I believe materialist atheism is not such a great thing but we need to govern race in America and many things almost at this level because of the diverse ways in which our spiritual perspectives express more beautifully a basic truth in ways which are not as compatible as they become less basic. But all share in the holy heritage of humanity’s special place in God’s order in my theology.
My friends, brothers in Christ and fellow music makers in New Zealand.

My friends, brothers in Christ and fellow music makers in New Zealand.

Fifth Summers Racial Political Principle:

  1. The State, constitutional authority and Union may assert classifications of race when a strong interest compels them to do so and then they must limit such findings to individuals upon whom they are passing judgments. The basic body qualified to declare race is the family and they should do so. The fact that family has almost no legal existence or stature in America is an evil that should be remedied and does not vitiate this principle.
The Current Queen of England and Scotland's United Kingdom with Eisenhower

I don’t think any two constitutional changes are the same. The British Monarchy is not our target here.

Sixth Summers Racial Political Principle:

  1. Families should belong to weak and loose but not powerless and non-existent associations of ethnicity which have their own racial policies published and define race within their own context. Acadians, True Yankees, New York Jews, Louisiana Italian-Americans are examples that   come to mind. These should have some legal standing. This is also a legal principle that should apply elsewhere and usually does so that the ethnic quality is seen as part of  legal right.

Seventh Summers Racial Politics Principle:

  1. Whatever the races that make up the human race may be they all have some cluster  of advantages and disadvantages that generally obtain. None is inferior in every way nor superior in every way to the others. However, they can be discussed in terms of inferiority and superiority which are meaningful.

Eighth Summers Racial Politics Principle:

  1. It is fairly clear that there are two largely fair-skinned races which have shown more capacity for many thing which are  vital to survival of large populations in complex and varied circumstances  and to the progress of civilizations. One of these is the complex and somewhat hodgepodge collection of  white  and near white peoples developing in a complex history over Europe, the Mediterranean basin, and along tendrils into Westernmost and Central Asia. The other is the race more homogenous in every way but also a complex web of mostly near white and some pure white races centered in North Asia  and the great Chinese plains. Many other races are an admixture of these races and other races their racial position must be recognized as intermediate. Black Africans developed some highly successful groups but in general were low in population, free-exploration and  civilized arts. Slavery and their expansion into mixed race groups was a means of progress and stability that existed far outside the Triangular Atlantic trade.

Ninth Summers Racial Political Principle:

  1. It is the nature of  a true civilization to create a common and public thing in which the best are able to achieve greater rewards and to be recognized as superior but are also tied to the needs not only of a theoretical whole but to benefits for all sections of society. America should be a white supremacist society in which many principles as important and more important than racial distinction are upheld to assure opportunity and decent humane autonomy to all persons and groups which participate supportively in our civilization. Among the nonracial principles to be upheld are: Federalism, Subsidiarity, Conservation, Progress, General Welfare, Common Defense, Decent Respect for the Opinions of Mankind, Due Process of Law, Family autonomy and I am proposing Royalism. I will not  define these principles here.

Tenth Summers Racial Political Principle:

  1. We must honor America’s specific racial reality. In our case we ought to exhibit due respect for senior ethnic groups within races and do a good job of ordering such things. We also must  give official recognition to the Western over the Oriental in this land as a matter of history .   We must give special protection and recognition to the American Aboriginal peoples as having both rights that flow from who they are but also from seniority. Nonetheless “Western White” settlers are our predominant leadership race. We must recognize also the uniquely complex and multiply referenced status of Creoles of Color in three principal communities: Louisiana, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands we must allow them to help define published ways of integrating those mixed race African-Americans they wish to receive who wish to enter  those communities.

Eleventh Summers Racial Politics Principle:

  1. We must find ways for things to be made equal where that is appropriate, separate and near equal and stratified where appropriate. We must develop a racial consciousness and laws which are predictable, fair and reflect reality. Once this is established then some of the members of society have to be willing to kill and die for it or it will not endure.

While I did post this just before Thanksgiving Day and I have been preoccupied with politics, policy, chores and other matters — I did celebrate Thanksgiving Day properly with family and the grand dinner required.  I add that part of the post last and can say that I enjoyed it thoroughly if in some degree of moderation.

Thanksgiving Dinner 2014 -- a single backlit shot to serve for a whole set of images and memories...

Thanksgiving Dinner 2014 — a single backlit shot to serve for a whole set of images and memories…


My Election Day and the Next Step In American Public Life

I have written two blog posts on this election cycle already and you can link to them here and here. I also listened to election coverage on the radio, watched it on  cable television viewable in waiting rooms and came home to watch ABC’s coverage last night. While I was doing those things, I also had a busy mix of errands and recreation with my mother in New Orleans. We saw lots of tourists where we went but also many people in the busier streets holding posters supporting local candidates. the weather was beautiful and it was good day to do almost anything worth doing in New Orleans.

Window in the Saint Louis Cathedral in New Orleans showing the sainted King of France for whom the church is named caring for the sick directly.

Window in the Saint Louis Cathedral in New Orleans showing the sainted King of France for whom the church is named caring for the sick directly.

The struggles America is engaged in are clearly showing in the elections of the last twenty years. America is struggling with ISIS and as the new One World Trade Center opens in New York we are all aware of how serious a threat this can be, or at least that it can be a very serious threat. Many Americans have been expressing doubts about whether we are taking this threat seriously enough.  National security and defense are not the only factors in yesterday’s trouncing of the Democratic establishment in our government but it was certainly a factor.

Window in St .Louis Cathedral showing the Crusader saint's body being borne back when he died after launching a great war against Islamists who were terrorizing local Christians and others.

Window in St .Louis Cathedral showing the Crusader saint’s body being borne back when he died after launching a great war against Islamists who were terrorizing local Christians and others.

Republicans have gained control of the US Senate and extended their majority in the House of Representatives. The governors races also went largely to the GOP. There is a sense of staggering loss among many Democrats.  That sense of a huge outcome took top billing on the daily e-mail from the decidedly liberal Huffington Post. There is little to debate about the clarity of the results.  But some report that the White House is not seeing a very clear or focused response to the President and his policy. Some are emphasizing his excuses more than the article I chose to link to in the last sentence. We will have to see how his press conference actually goes this afternoon at two thirty Washington time. We will also have to see how the years play out. Last midterm election he was willing to be candid and say that his party got a shellacking. Policy shifts and candor are two different things.

My mother poses in front of the statue of the Hero of New Orleans who fought the British Empire and become President and the Church of the Sainted Crusader King.

My mother poses in front of the statue of the Hero of New Orleans who fought the British Empire and become President and the Church of the Sainted Crusader King.

I am writing from Louisiana where the nation will be watching the December 6, 2014 runoff between Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu and Republican Congressman and physician Bill Cassidy. Local media has been ready for this race and are reporting it pretty well I think at this early hour. There will be a month more before that vote plays out. Landrieu has invited Cassidy to engage her in six debates. My mother and I went to New Orleans to pick up her expedited passport. The City Care Forgot (not really) was at its best yesterday. We had a tiring schedule but enjoyed the trip thoroughly.

My mother took a picture of me in front of a restaurant that shares my name. We enjoyed eating but did not eat at Frank's yesterday.

My mother took a picture of me in front of a restaurant that shares my name. We enjoyed eating but did not eat at Frank’s yesterday.

The truth is that one election will not determine the course of the country entirely and mostly shows us where we are and where we plan or hope to go.  So much of America is made up of the little and medium sized efforts of its people. the artisans, entrepreneurs and artists of the French Quarter and the French Market are contributors who are not elected and whose lives will be affected by the election but not in simplistic and highly predictable ways.  We bought a few things and did some appreciating. Mom bought a couple of  famous Central Grocery Mufuletta  sandwiches for some young near beggars in the street. The people doing business there are resilient and like many Americans find politics as one part of their lives.  Most Americans were too young, too sick, too criminally convicted, too unsure of their legal status, too busy or too apathetic to vote in this elections cycle.  That is the real majority.

Artisan entrepreneur makes pot plant holders. We bought his fine cypress productions.

Artisan entrepreneur makes pot plant holders. We bought his fine cypress productions.

So does politics matter? I definitely think it does.  I voted for ten of the fourteen constitutional amendments on Louisiana’s ballot and against four. The State ‘s electorate as a whole voted for six and against eight.  Five of the six newly enacted were amendments I favored. Three of the eight opposed were ones I also opposed. These amendments make a difference or at least they often do so. You can read some reporting of how this worked out just here.   But life goes on today much as it would have gone on if the Democrats had won. Change takes a while to play out and is uncertain.

Mom shops and talks on the phone at  the New Orleans French Market.

Mom shops and talks on the phone at the New Orleans French Market.

I hope to hear the President speak today. I will follow the new Congress with interest. I will vote in the Senate Runoff. But I have other things to worry about and hope for and so do you. The big event is over and we must now live, work, trade, fight and pray. life goes on.

The Midterm Elections and Some Issues Beyond

This is the day before election day.  I have a lot to try and discuss here although it my second post on this election. The first can be seen just here and has some useful links and a guide to the constitutional amendments. But this election has a context and this post is part of my effort to provide some context for this post.

In less than twenty four hours the polls will open in Louisiana. This is after a week of early voting which for us closes a week before election day itself. The election will matter for certain.  I feel that my own life is very much in a mode where I know that anything I choose to write is simply  a small chance of expressing some concerns and trying to discuss what is of interest to readers. There is no longer a great chance that I will exercise any kind of direct influence over the offices or issues I discuss in the way that some people thought I might when I was younger.

I do feel that as we vote in the Senate election there are some issues related to the current news which are worth mentioning. We feel in many parts of this country and the world that America is losing its step and has lost some of its path. Most Americans do not feel that the country is heading in the right direction. I am writing this post amid a number of relatively serious problems related to the act of posting itself. This has been a perpetual part of my life for as long as I can remember — there have been major obstacles which involved technically executing a task which tend to overshadow any problems with whatever plan or program I might be discussing or proposing. I have had good functionality with the blog but today it is bad as it ever was in its worst days — and perhaps it was never as bad as today. But by the time I post it those issues may be resolved. The world changes fast and those elected tomorrow may not know what the greatest issues facing them will be. Nor do those in the Senate know who will be President for the majority of the term to which they are being elected.

We all have images of what leadership should look like which are not simple portrayals of reality.

We all have images of what leadership should look like which are not simple portrayals of reality.


There are issues related to space in the news today and over the last few days. Space in my opinion as important an issue as there is and you can touch on some of my views on the subject here, here, and here. However, space flights have always been risky.  One of the bigger risks is how much space is not an issue in this election.  That alone could indicate to me where we are going in terms of dealing with the real challenges of the human species and global civilization heading into the future. I am sure some Senate races are dealing with space but Louisiana’s is not much if at all concerned with it. Louisiana’s race may yet come to great prominence. Some are predicting this and granting its likely place in the national conversation.

NASA stock footage loose in the world reminds us of where we can go.

NASA stock footage loose in the world reminds us of where we can go.

“All politics are local” the old saying goes. On that basis we may understand why Ebola, the issues rocking Ferguson, Missouri and the issues related to water management in the Western United States do not feature prominently here. We have a new pipeline based oil spill. We have ruins in old flood zones by the acre.  We have issues with higher and other public education funding. Louisiana’s race does deal with the Obama Presidency, the issues of Medicare, the AHCA  (or Obamacare), the records of the candidates and how each candidate reacts to immigration issues.  There is discussion of the economy which is national.

Familiar Greenbacks

America is used to paper money as a great symbol of National unity as well as the tangible form of our unifying preoccupation.

They are not much discussing Britany Maynard’s suicide, the violence perpetrated by professional athletes, the rise of ISIS or other issues that provide a context for what all of us here them saying. I think that the US system has some real benefits it derives from a system where the President and Vice President are truly elected  in a national contest which involves states only as means to that national goal and a legislature which really is composed of state elected officials. Of course there are costs to this system as well. But each member of both houses is likely to know something about the State that elects them or within which they are elected.

Maness, Landrieu and Cassidy all have to show that they connect with past challenges. They have to show that they can lead in future crises. But it is hard to say if the national political realities will eclipse some of these memories. Memories of storms and oil spills and their legacies.

A flotilla of shrimp boats adapted for skimming oil.

A flotilla of shrimp boats adapted for skimming oil.

The news is bleak on many aspects of foreign affairs and that will certainly hurt Landrieu who is closely tied to the President. There is recent new from Syria that is very bad indeed as seen here but may in reality be even worse news. Louisiana has paid a good share of the cost for all these wars in that region in the lives and time of the military personnel and their families.  But we remember the National Guard elsewhere as well. The struggle to defend our coasts is endless.

National Guard fights a different battle

National Guard fights a different battle

Whoever comes to power there will be issues related to sex, the sanctity of life, quality of life, racial harmony and constitutional reform. The truth is that few Americans are optimistic that those they elect will effectively deal with these challenges. But I hope all who read me and can vote will do so. I hope that in voting they will know that writing to congress, local elections, civic participation and good citizenship will all be required as follow-up. I am in favor of larger changes but also of working hard to make the best of what we have and trying to make it work.  We really do need a government. People have shown themselves unhappy with their government for a long time but it is becoming a very serious issue now. This poll is the best indication yet of  what people are feeling.

Asian-American Relations Now and Later

Various organizations and disciplines define “East Asia” in different ways. The region is incredibly diverse from the point of view of the many people who live there. The United Nations Organization officially classifies South-east Asia (the 10 ASEAN members plus East Timor) as a distinct region, but other sources add North-east and South-east Asia together to form East Asia which is the practice in many scholarly and popular articles. I tend to see the Region as North East Asia, Greater Malaya composed mostly of great archipelagos, Southeast Asia and then its great neighbor which is Greater Hindustan. The reader may struggle along but eventually get plenty enough feel for my subject to derive some benefit. It is always important to remember that China is vast, diverse and encompasses many climates, racial types and cultural groups. But almost all of it is north of almost all of Greater Malaya where President Obama and I spent some of our younger years. He was in Muslim Indonesia and I was in the Christian Philippines. Nepal and Bhutan have nothing to do with Southeast Asia in any strict sense but are continental land-locked and are more like other countries sandwiched between Northeast Asia and Greater Malaya  than they are like Greater Hindustan. They are a border of two regions North East Asia and Greater Hindustan made to resemble Southeast Asia ( a third region) in recent centuries. But this whole part of the world is the subject of this post and you do not have to know it all very well to understand my post..

The economic and national entities of East Asia are thus Japan; the Democratic People’s Republic of (North) Korea; the Republic of (South) Korea; the People’s Republic of China (and its special administrative regions Hong Kong and Macau) Republic of China (Taiwan); and the 10 ASEAN members: the Philippines, Vietnam, The Kingdom of Cambodia, Laos, The Kingdom of Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, and Indonesia. The lack of useful statistical data makes including East Timor problematic and Bhutan and Nepal are simply remembered without much to actually say about them and so unless otherwise indicated, it will be omitted. Bhutan is a beautiful kingdom that holds its own in changing times and seeks a community path for its traditions in the modern world and the educated in the region largely know of its existence.

As I look around at China coverage in the United States  I am reminded of something  I brought up when I was recently remarking in a comment made on a post by Baroness Valentine on the Lords of the Blog.There I wrote that  I hoped the House of Lords has paid sufficient attention to the visit of Premiere Li Keqiang and his wife Cheng Hong to Britain despite the lack of discussion of this and Spanish succession in the Lords of the Blog. While China is not in the World Cup and China is not involved in a state visit here it seems clear  to me that most Americans know too little of China.

China is the country doing too much for job creation, too much for overall growth, too much for long-term growth. I mean it when I say “the country” at least among major players. Their problems are largely from too much emphasis on economic growth. Almost all other major players have made this a priority which is very low and even though economic abuses are causing problems everywhere they pale compared to problems related to other causes. Because of this national attitude relations with China will determine a significant part of the employment picture for the EU, the USA and others for some years ahead.  It is a bit strange for me to write about anything related to employment as I have never been all that secure and right now I run errands and do lawn work and keep house in a situation where I am continuously exposed to risks of being blamed for some kind of  financial malfeasance because unlike China where cash payments hand-delivered and my very secure debit and ATM card at the Agricultural Bank of China  were usable for all things and sufficient for them here I have never been able to negotiate the vast ocean of requirements which inflate our personal debt and exposure in so many ways and are so tied to a pervasive ideology not subject to much criticism. here my finances are always subject not to one but to many factors over which I have no control despite which I only have a few big financial problems and penury I do not have lots of bad checks, huge credit card balances or anything else. of that type. My view of America is not that of a financial columnist and it is from the point of view of such insecurity that writing something like this  becomes somewhat absurd but also offers unique opportunities for insight. On the one hand as I write about American policy in Asia I write knowing  I have spent a huge amount of time in Asia and know a lot about the region but on the other hand my situation in life is so bad that it seems pointless to discuss any of it when I am so weak and vulnerable here. But that is the nature of the things I really cannot change. Whatever happens for the rest of my life I certainly feel that I have learned something about Asia and its surrounds which continues to form my view of the world.

I recognize that the big opportunities in Asia will not be to mimic me exactly. But in my life so far politics, military exchanges and business have gone on around me in Asia and I have tried to stay abreast of those things while focusing on my other more immediate concerns.I do not believe that these facts of potential which exist in Asia demonstrate a set of facts that has to be good or bad for the EU, the United States or other players.  But a realistic American economist should realize that  Mandarin speaking tour guides, agents and brokers with several Asian languages, English teachers in China, experts on trilateral trade with China in the developing world and those selling products at competitive prices to deal with growth related problems in China ought to be part of a picture of long term growth and accessible growth today. In Asia itself those who have ancestors and ties in the region and resemble the dominant racial group of any given market will often find it much easier to succeed.  The Philippines is an exception where White Americans of all types and Mestizo Hispanic Americans can hope to find advantages which offset racial minority status disadvantages. Black people can usually expect that their race will be a significant disadvantage in most business contacts with pockets and current where it may be an advantage.  Racial consciousness is in general very high in the region. China no longer uses terms like foreign devil in general but most countries do have some similar practice that is common enough. Arabs can hope for some ethnic and possible racial prejudice in their favor if they are Muslims in a Muslim area but like the Philippines for Americans it should not be thought to be more than it is.

Further those who can find a fascination with the Chinese mindset ought to have a special role in munitions sales, peace studies and international development planning. China is not the only story but it cannot be ignored. That is where a great deal of the potential in the world will remain regardless of what really happens in the next few years.

I am trying here to lay out my first real Asia policy post on this blog since Premiere Li Keqiang came to power in China and he and his sophisticated wife Cheng Hong began touring the world.  There is a lot going on that needs to be addressed in a post like this if it is to have any significance as regards the state of things out there. I graduated from the University of Southwestern Louisiana in May of 1989 with a degree in English and the honor of a Latin phrase after the designation of a bachelors degree. There have been many days since mid May of 1989. Each of them was a bit different than the others. Suddenly I am coming up on 20 years. Sooner or later it had to happen. Actually it had to happen exactly 20 years after I graduated unless I died. It was always likely to make me feel that my life was not exactly where I had hoped it would be. Twenty years ago was a rather high mark in my life. But not a perfect time at all. However, the  Republic of the Philippine Islands was very much part of my  context for life in those days. I left the Philippines with my whole family when we came to the United States and my brother Simon Peter Emmanuel Summers sought medical treatment for Prader-Willi Syndrome. It was at that time that I enrolled at what was then USL and is now the University of Louisiana. Then after earning a year’s worth of credits in one semester I returned to the Philippines and stayed there till my brother Joseph was born and then returned to the United States, lived the summer in Abbeville and went to school at the Franciscan University of Steubenville the next fall. The following summer I visited my parents in the Philippines and then went back to Steubenville and after some complications finished up at USL — marrying in 1987 and graduating in 1989.

Leading my sisters on a carabao in the Philippines.

Leading my sisters on a carabao in the Philippines.

The journey since those days has been a complex one at least. I do not suppose there is much to say about it which is not laced with anecdotes of trial and There have been other good things and times.  I have done a wide variety of work with lots of writing, teaching and organizing in the mix. I would not have done most of those things if my life had been more successful as it seemed to promise to be. What I know is that my life has been a journey in a very literal sense. When I graduated I went to work that summer for the law Firm of Mangham, Hardy, Rolfs and Abadie in the offices near the top of the First National Bank Tower in downtown Lafayette. It was as close as I have ever come to feeling like my life was on a smooth and established track and not a trek through dangerous places. I was headed off to Tulane Law School in the fall. A lot of people in my life who have always behaved badly toward me when they were around chose not to that summer. I had been on television and in the newspapers a great deal when I won the Outstanding Graduate award and it seemed like I would be given some space to do things one step at a time in a way that I have never really known at any other time. My time at Tulane Law School that first run was one of the worst times of my life. That is from my point of view saying a great deal. We lived next to a family who were in charge of our floor in student housing and screamed and roared many hours every day. These were among the many experiences in my life which really have provided no benefit to me here. Although I did not stay in China for many reasons I did feel that my advice to students and other work there could draw more on these experiences. Almost all work here in the USA in recent decades has bordered on pure hell for many reasons. I am not sure how typical that contrast is among people who have been in both regions. China had plenty of problems but I felt less malicious interference built into the work structure itself.

My trip to China ranks near the top of these events. I have posted the link to the university level institution called the Shandong Institute of Business and Technology where I taught that was the China Coal  Economic College a few years before I was there. Set on the Shandong Peninsula where Confucius and Mencius began Classical Chinese scholarship the Campus overlooked the glorious Yellow Sea. These are some of my students and advisees graduating two years after I left.Frank

These young women in the photo are some of my students and advisees graduating two years after I left. It was a time with many opportunities to learn a lot more about China than I had in all of my reading prior to that point in  time and it had a deep influence on my life and thinking. When I returned to America  I wrote an article for a newspaper I had written for before many times about my experiences. When I wrote the article I intended to go back to China but that did not happen.


Front page of an article Iwrote about my journey to China and time there. The top photograph is of English Corner which was largely organized and facilitated by Lu Ting ting who is on my Friends List although her name appears in characters I cannot reproduce.This is the front page of an article I wrote about my journey to China and time there. The top photograph is of English Corner which was largely organized and facilitated by Lu Ting ting who is on my Friends List on Facebook when she can be and my contact on Linked In. Although her name appears in characters I cannot always reproduce online or by hand. 

One of the most influential political figures of my life has been Bill Clinton. When I lived in China during the 2004-2005 academic year his book My Life was widely sold there in English and Mandarin.  When Clinton ran for President the first time he had a sign in his campaign headquarters viewable by most in the movement which said: “It’s the economy  — stupid!” My own personal economic failure has been enormous at many levels. But I had a pretty good economic existence in China. I brought some money with me but I was furnished with a home apartment, cable, high speed internet, steam radiator heat, electricity, travel credits, bonuses for extra and exceptional work through my job and it was an extraordinary opportunity to see and do many things.The economy of East Asia is one of the most successful regional economies of this time around world. There is history is a long history of dealing with many of the same issues that challenge the global economy today. In broader East Asia we find a group of some of the world’s largest and most prosperous economies : China, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore,Taiwan and South Korea. This post brief as it is will at least link to some details about these major economic powers.

Major powers come and go from the center stage of geopolitics and alliances are even more perishable than powerful global status but one of the more durable facts about this planet is the economic importance of East Asia. In this post I will refine the idea of regions a bit more, rambling  as I often do rather than sticking with a single definition from the start.  I will start by asserting that there is no real American foreign policy that will work unless it is also a pretty solid policy as regards a region with these powers and the overlapping group of our treaty partners which includes Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines.


Major positive factors have ranged from favorable political-legal environments for industry and commerce, through abundant natural resources of various kinds, to plentiful supplies of relatively low-cost, skilled and adaptable labor. I taught a talented group of undergraduates whose contribution I valued in China. I will however say that they were in general not the most privileged or secure in their society just as most of my friends from the university years were not among that group of the most privileged in my society. It caused me to think back on my own years in college. However, China is not the only place that I have been. There were journeys to Micronesia, Mexico (on numerous occasions) as well as to Nova Scotia/ Acadie. Each of these journeys has added to the long route across and just above the surface of this planet which I have drawn out in my life.  Nor have I really increased my rate of travel as an adult  — in fact the contrary is true. Prior to graduation  from USL I could list the Philippines, Europe, Colombia, Mexico, Tonga, Samoa and New Zealand were among the places that I had visited long enough to feel that I had lived there. Travel has been a very large part of my education and personal development.  One fact is that I claim to propose a movement from the right and yet many of my values are universal to all human beings and much of my life experience is international which contrasts starkly with the rightist Nationalism that many will be more familiar with. This is in part because I believe in creating games that are not zero-sum in international affairs and developing such structures where they already exist. It is in part because I really believe in space colonization as the means to reshape our very long-term future. Lastly, it is in part because I am a Christian and take the charge of the gospel seriously in all aspects — although I do not always conform to it very well.

Although I had one failed business attempt of substance in the Philippines and a few other smaller failures  I was successful in some endeavors in church related ministry and through that lens got to known some significant business and government figures. Likewise in China I was not in business but I assisted students majoring in business, taught some business writing and taught a large number of students who were International Finance majors. Wikipedia states in an article on East Asia  that:

East Asian populations have demonstrated rapid learning capabilities – skills in utilizing new technologies and scientific discoveries – and putting them to good use in production. Work ethics in general tend to be highly positive.

I reached the conclusion  shared by many that in modern societies, a high level of structural differentiation, functional specialization, and autonomy of the economic system from government is a major contributor to industrial-commercial growth and prosperity. I brought to China some experience in business, although no great successes a few successes that won some significant recognition. Among these was a bit of international trade: Then I was working in seafood sales and brokering as I had done many times before including even during my time at Tulane Law. I went down with the owner and chief sales manager of the privately held company that was my employer on a buying trip to Merida. This was typical of a lot of things about my seafood crowd. The owner paid for four tickets, four registration packages, four hotel and food packages and in me provided one of the two or three best interpreters on the trip. However, the trip was supposed to be a sales trip sponsored by the US Department of Commerce and we were there buying. While that exact event was unique it somehow encapsulates all of my considerable experiences in the fishmongering world. While there Lieutenant Governor Paul Hardy presented me with the honor of Honorary Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana. He gave me a very large and beautiful certificate that I was proud to display as I was to mention the honor on my resume. When I got back I set up those purchases and set up a series of chain and institutional sales for off-main-demand-curve size catfish. I would leave that industry to teach but would return to it and other business ventures from time to time.

The US dollar is freely traded currency in the entirety of the Far East as far as I know and few contend that any currency from outside the region challenges its level of acceptance. However, that is changing as the British Pound has just become exchangeable with the Chinese Yuan or Renminbi   on the markets in Shanghai. But the USA has an historic advantage over the Pound not found elsewhere in a trading systems that covers much of the human population and a region where trading systems are relatively open. Exports are desired as imports throughout the region and the risks are quantifiable. Military and security imports are the most desired in China and other product bought in China and elsewhere with zero or low duties  attached on imports of consumer and capital goods do considerably helped stimulate cost-efficiency and change in their own often harsh economic system. However legal mimicry on the edge of the law and piratical patent and copyright infringement are more common in this region as sophisticated threats to US companies than perhaps in almost any other region except the surround of true East Asia which I am including to some degree in this post.  While soaring poverty rates in the Philippines and Vietnam and extreme consequences of displacement in China are factors tha t must be addressed by American corporations and governments the truth remains that compared to many places free contract for employment and the flexible mindset and work that comes with the genetic and cultural heritage of the labor force in the region makes a desirable labor market for Americans to be involved in over the long term. There are many assets difficult to reproduce elsewhere which are very significant  factors making for promising and sustained business-economic performance across these economies.

Finally, globalization is likely to continue to benefit the Asian economies for some time in general terms.  These benefits will increase the buying power of many kinds of potential clients and consumers and it is these relatively large and fast-growing markets for consumer goods and services of all kinds which can play a vital role in America’s future as well. The path  of my life has not included my personal return to the Philippines since I was there in  my college years nor a return to China since those days described here. Liu Ting ting responded to one of my posts on Facebook with correspondence that may not belong here . But I reproduce it anyway as being illuminating:

  • 刘婷婷 Those old pictures brings me back to my campus life —- happy and free from any restraints . It seems that those beautiful days all forsook me a hundred years ago,I couldn’t even find a trace of them…….
  • 刘婷婷 There are too much strange sensation and unique thoughts I wanna share with you, but when it comes to writing or conversation, I just don’t know how to express them. I wish you well and be happy……
  • Frank Wynerth Summers III Ting ting, It makes me happy to hear from you. I am glad you are made nostalgic by the pictures.

However, that  personal connection to these people is not the sole basis of my thoughts about China and Asia. I read a great deal and communicate with a lot of people as I did when I was there — and I have maintained ties since I left. I did take the time when I was in China to watch television and buy a periodical now and then and I have done such things since arriving back in the United States. All of that has led to a bit of an understanding acquired over time. But not the deepest one.

My family and I have shared connections we have preserved with the Philippines and through the Philippines to the rest of Asia. One of those connections comes from having been connected with the East Asian Pastoral Institute where I studied for a while with my father in Manila. When we did the  Scripture Ventures program there we met with people from many Asian countries and got to know some of them. Some we stayed in touch with for a while but that has all faded away over time for me at least.

Meeting at Big Woods with Filipino friends who are US citizens now.

Meeting at Big Woods with Filipino friends who are US citizens now.


But this is not simply a post to rehash a series of older posts and pages in this blog. I am trying to discuss primarily how the United States of America should relate  to the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Republic of Korea, Japan (and its Emperor), Mongolia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Brunei. Secondarily, I am discussing how the USA should relate to Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Viet Nam, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar,  and the rest of Southeast Asia. Thirdly, I am discussing how the USA should relate to India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. Four regions then fall into this discussion: North East Asia and Malaya (or Maphilindo) are two regions at the center of my focus. Southeast Asia is the Secondary focus and Greater Hindustan is the Tertiary Focus. In other words, East Russia, The Great Northern Corridor, Persia, the Levant and the Arabian Peninsula would all be regions in Asia which would not be part of this discussion directly. Most people in the world live in the regions that I am discussing here. Is there a policy that works for all of these places? Is it meaningful to write and speak in such terms. I live in a region of Louisiana with a significant Vietnamese population. The valedictorian of my niece’s recent graduating class is a young Vietnamese American surnamed  Nguyen. But it is fascinating how despite many successes in the story of these migrants so little has been done to use the ties, skills and appearance of these people to increase US and Louisiana ties to South East Asia. The top three students in academic achievement were all of Asian descent.

I  do have deep ties not only to the United States but also to Europe and the Americas as a whole.  In the years since I graduated from there have been opportunities to do things that I had not done including but not limited to teaching in China. I have had many experiences that are meaningful to me here in America and ties me to the region of North America just as Asians are tied to their region. I do not think we should forget that trade and ties and knowledge do not mean ceasing to be distinctive. But we will have better chances to understand one another in the future.

The journey has had its surprising joys.Mary graduates from UL L as I did. A young mom who does not make time for Facebook yet.Mary graduates from UL L as I did. A young mom who does not make time for Facebook yet. Watching one brother Joseph and one sister Mary graduate with higher Latin honors than I earned from my college alma mater has been a joy and a blessing. It has been a joy to see another sister Sarah graduate with a perfect GPA from Louisiana State University where I got my masters degree. It has been a joy to have my middle sister Susanna graduate with honors from the Franciscan University of Steubenville where I won one of two Sophomore Class Awards (one for men and one for women) in 1985. I look forward to having my youngest brother graduate from UL-L which is my renamed alma mater  in his time. My handicapped brother Simon received his certificate of Academic completion of merit from Abbeville High School when I was working for the school board in which they are located and which administers them. All of those were joyous milestones.

I have mentioned my trade mission experience in Mexico and I have traveled a great deal in the US, Mexico, Canada and Colombia.  It is important that America chart its course and know its own surroundings.  It is also important to see that booming trade between China and Brazil is an important factor in the world economy. China is part of this hemisphere in many ways. I like China although there are plenty of things I found to criticize and oppose. I also had problems there and in the Philippines which I have written about and discussed but which do not make an appearance in this post. My view of things calls mostly for awareness. In some ways I find the Chinese and I to be a bit alike in that regard.    They are in general less eager for open confrontation than Westerners. The Chinese military is into diplomacy, espionage, training, digging tunnels, fortifying basements, buying hardware, maintaining discipline and  planning for all outcomes. This is in stark contrast to many other groups, nations and powers that need much more direct confrontation to preserve their institutions and the support their forces need to survive.

I speak Spanish and I have also taught that language in the USA. I have enjoyed and do enjoy my Acadian heritage and ties to Canada.  I am not an excessive Sinophile. This post is one part of my overall view of things.

Libby Maturin, Ashley Mire, Anika, Alyse, Sarah and Maria. Mine in Zacatecas is locale.Lower : Soren, Alyse and Anika in Zacatecas.Libby Maturin, Ashley Mire, Anika, Alyse, Sarah and Maria. Mine in Zacatecas is locale.Lower : Soren, Alyse and Anika in Zacatecas. Zacatecas is a great cultural and historic center in Mexico. Mexico is a huge part of any real economic plan for the United States of America. Family Missions Company run by my family members operate in China and Mexico among other places. I have also been a bit below the surface of the planet a few times. Mammoth Caves is one of my favorite US National parks and I have enjoyed visiting mines like those in the beautiful Mexican city of Zacatecas.

 My advice is that we should know Asia and ourselves and understand each new set of circumstances that emerges. The future will be full of surprises.

Critical Resentments and How I Navigate My Life

This post has been edited after some delay from its original condition but not all that much. It still keeps a kind of unfocused and compound structure and still preserves in most passage the point of view of the time it was written.  However, this first paragraph is entirely from October of 2015, while the rest is from May of 2013.  Today it is easy to see that mass shootings across the United States, crises in Syria and related to Syria, bad relations with Russia and the rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders will be among the trends and events for which the second Obama term is  remembered. In addition it is also true that Amanda Know has finally been acquitted of almost  all serious charges in truly final hearing. This does not answer all issues related to her case. Did she murder the woman and were false approaches  a cause for a confusion that could never be overcome? Was there a ritual element that did or did not involver her or her boyfriend in any way? I assume and hope that she is as innocent as she now stands declared. I hope that she can go on with her life.  But at the time I wrote this I was upset at the way connections were made and the way that paths were pursued.  Italy is now retrying a woman executed for witchcraft 300 years ago. I do not believe there are no witches nor do I believe that none of them deserve to be prosecuted. I was very angry about the Amanda Knox prosecution because I did not believe a good case was made that she was a woman who was in fact a devotee of ritual murder.  I also mentioned the heavy rockets and now we are seeing a real interest in exploring Mars related to current missions reporting from their and related to the fame of The Martian. A longer time has passed since I advocated planning to colonize the Moon and Mars.  But the reasons to consider such a course are not less compelling.

So we now begin the more lightly edited section of this version of this post. I abandon the readers and history to the point of view that I had at that time. For many people it appears that all times seem largely alike even though new situations are always arising. Many people constantly say almost the same exact things about larger events than those in their own lives and some constantly revisit the same rhetoric for describing their personal situations. For me and for some others it is perhaps truer to say that each time is a bit different even though the situation in it are somewhat familiar and reminiscent or predictive of past and future situations. So this is a kind of transition paragraph between where I am now and where I was then in my thinking. From here down little has been changed but the formatting of a few lines.  I can find in the lines below a view of who I was and what I was thinking a bit over two years ago.

For example in summing up the first weekend in May of 2013 for me I could write: “ My nephew won his first boxing bout at a scored tournament while others of us in his family, including me, have been absorbed in other matters. My call of congratulations missed him while he was out serving at Mass. Old friends have arrived from the Philippines to celebrate a big occasion with our family and my parents met them at the airport. My brother Joseph is celebrating a birthday a couple of days early. The weather is spectacular here in south Louisiana.” This exact mix of circumstances seems pretty unique to me.
This piece will be a bit longer than my average piece. Those who read my stuff frequently will know that I am interested in the dates on the calendar and what holidays are being observed and what seasons are in play from nature and the various political and cultural institutions of our time. For example as I have been working on this essay the Greek Orthodox Christians celebrated the Feast of Christ’s Resurrection. I have also noted that other things like the coming of The Great Gatsby have been going on. More personally, I have put up two videos in anticipation of the celebration of a family event. Lastly, I have mentioned the struggle I have experienced with allergy season. This is a time like any other when I am in synch with some things and out of synch with some other things. In recent years and over the course of my lifetime the media has been on occasion filled with the violent deaths of people on such occasions as the President Kennedy Assassination, the Martin Luther King Assassination, the Bobby Kennedy Assassination, Jonestown massacre, the Oklahoma City Bombing, the Rodney King Riots, the Waco Branch Davidian conflagration, Ruby Ridge raid, Colombine High School Shootings, the 9/11 Attacks Fort Hood Shooting, Colorado Dark Knight Shooting, The Newton Sandy Hook Shooting and the Boston Marathon Bombings. In addition to these violent episodes I think of all those I have known who have died suddenly and violently without so much media or public recognition. Many of them were pretty well covered in regional or local media but not at the center of the entire national discussion.
I have felt some sense of doing something important to myself at least as in recent weeks I have prepared and posted two of my intended trilogy of videos related to the fiftieth wedding anniversary of my parents. They represent and preserve in very brief form a kind of narrative and description of a story that I believe is important and certainly is important to me. As for the general tone and view point of the two video, I stand by them and they are in my opinion both true and authentic. Both emphasize the positive and good aspects of fifty years which have been just a bit longer than my own life and have been the single most significant influence on my own life. In this essay I am going to take a moment to reflect on both what my own life and point of view are and how I am seeing the life ahead of me – however short or long it may be.

The word English word critic and related words such as critique, criticize and critical come from Greek κριτικός (kritikós), “able to discern”, which is a Greek derivation from the word κριτής (krités), which means roughly “a person who offers reasoned judgment or analysis”. It is unclear whether there is any connection to a man named Crito and the Dialogue in Plato’s Dialogues or (Dialogs) named for Crito – The Crito. This is the last of the dialogs or conversations about philosophy in the life of Socrates. He is executed at the end of it and the pending execution forms the basic framework of the conversation. Crito is certainly both critical of Socrates for his refusal to resist execution by fleeing from prison with his assistance and he is criticized by Socrates for what he says. Thus it could be the character is given the name Crito by Plato (or fabricated with the name Crito –not everyone accepts that the dialogs are based on fact) or it could be that they try to live up to his name in the tone of their conversation. Also, despite some texts seeming to indicate that the word existed before Socrates it may be that this is a gloss by some ancient clerks and that the word came into Greek in honor of the death of the great gadfly and the actions of his companion. One is reminded of the conversation between Peter and Jesus regarding Jesus going up to Jerusalem to face crucifixion which follows upon Jesus declaring Peter’s role as Rock and precedes the mystical peak of the Transfiguration. When Jesus foretells his condemnation by the leaders of his own people and crucifixion by the Romans Peter is eager to persuade him to change his plans to avoid these horrible events. Jesus tells Peter (as retold in Mark 9 and Matthew 16) that he is in this instance “Satan” – opposing God’s will. So Crito criticizes the legal system to which Socrates has been a devoted citizen subject. When one comes across Jesus and Socrates one is reminded that not only they but quite a few other people have been very serious about things. It is a fact we can sometimes forget. While people often use the term pundit for people who comment on politics and events I think that I am by many measures more of a critic than anything else as regards the sort of writing I do in Facebook Notes and Blog Posts. Perhaps like Crito and Peter that criticism is often born of a sense of resentment for the way things are turning out and the costs involved. However, in the case of both Jesus and Socrates both were men who spent years being largely critical of others, of institutions, of laws and of sacred customs. Each intended to bring about change and each on did contribute to vast webs and ripples of change across space and time. Both were executed. In each case this had at least something to do with their own criticisms of the status quo.
Crito (Ancient Greek: Κρίτων) is a short but important dialogue by the ancient Greek philosopher Plato. It is a conversation between Socrates and his wealthy associate Crito regarding justice (δικη). The men gathered in the cell or chamber where Socrates awaits his poisoned cup also converse in a disciplined manner in the same dialogue about injustice (αδικια), and the appropriate response to injustice. The truth is that it is more than just possible to empathize in both these cases of ancient teachers being killed with the opponent and critic beside them. Even such an unusual modern reader as myself readily wants to see a form of justice that does not require killing Socrates and a divine plan that does not require Jesus’s death. In the case of the Athenian philosopher Socrates thinks that justice cannot be repaid with injustice and two wrongs don’t make a right either. What that means is that when Crito offers to use money and influence to help Socrates escape execution the philosopher will not accept this and argues that he has been nurtured and lived under the Laws of Athens and should be willing to die by them as well. His duties to his family, friends, reputation and other matter Crito brings up to criticize his plan of accepting death are not relevant. He ends by having his disciples pay the sacrificial chicken he owes to a certain god. Part of human life is to face death and to try to find a way to face one’s own death well. Of course facing life is no easy task either.
I am not a hypochondriac but in addition to my health problems I have most of the problems which are experienced by those afflicted with a myriad of merely imagined diseases. I have been exposed to many horrible diseases and do not even have the resources to screen for which ones I might or might not have contracted. I am really stuck in a new way in my life despite the fact that it is a life in which being stuck has been a big motif all along. It may be that I was simply always going to be someone who negotiated a deal for something I did not much like rather than seeing life as a realization of hopes and dreams. It certainly appears that such an outcome is an ever more foregone conclusion. I am writing about this and wondering whether to try to continue on with anything else that I am doing online after my upcoming birthday. It seems to me that June 15, 2013 is a time to perhaps admit that I have done almost and at least nearly all I can do and it has brought me to a place that has nothing much to offer me anymore.
I am at a place in my life where it is possible and perhaps inevitable that I confront and analyze where life has brought me. It is a good time to take a moral inventory and also to try to define my own motivations. I also think that America is still at a place of crisis…
I am going to try to explain where I have come by some of the basic components and qualities of my point of view in this post. I think that there is not so much a need for this as there is a possibility that such an action could be useful.
Two Major Sources of My Critical Point of View and their Consequences

Problems of the Opposition
I take a critical position and have a critical point of view partly because I often oppose the politics of those in leadership in my own country. Partly, oppose the politics of those in leadership in my own country because I have already undertaken critical commitments.
Many people are more “oppositional” in much of their behavior than I have ever been. Jails, mental hospitals and cemeteries around the world are filled in part by people who acted more rashly and directly in opposing the order of things around them than I ever have. Yet, I have long and often opposed many of the powers at work in this world. Certainly I consider myself a more pronounced political opposition than either major party in these United States faces in the other party. Opposition has a high cost and is tiring. When one has confronted many opposing forces on behalf and in defense of one’s church and then other opponents in one’s church there is a cost in that. When one has confronted many opposing forces on behalf and in defense of one’s country and then other opponents in one’s country there is a cost in that. When one has confronted many opposing forces on behalf and in defense of one’s ethnic affiliations and then other opponents in one’s ethnic affiliations there is a cost in that. When one has confronted many opposing forces on behalf and in defense of one’s former political party and then other political party in one’s church there is a cost in that. I am not alone in having paid all of those varied costs. However, not nearly everybody has paid such costs.

I think that a certain amount of conflict is simply part of human nature. I do believe that my own nature is more imbued with a propensity to conflict than most human natures. But I have been in a number of situations that have heightened that aspect of my life… It was never really likely that I would wear a uniform of any military or police organization and I never have. But if I had done so then perhaps my life would make more sense from a variety of points of view. The closes I ever came to adding that kind of public and rational disclosure to my life’s history was a prolonged episode involving the Central Intelligence Agency known by its initials the C.I.A. or the CIA. This organization is the largest American civilian intelligence agency the position and structure of which have been reformed more often than other agencies. It lacks the kind of institutional support which the military can bring to its own agencies. Like a lot of people I grew up fascinated with spy movies and television shows. Twice before I was eighteen I met someone overseas whom I interacted with and who may well have been with the CIA. When I was sixteen years old I published a long letter to the editor in The Morning Star a Roman Catholic newspaper objecting to the draft and then going further. I had lots of reasons but as time went on felt that perhaps I had closed off a career that might be my best channel for my particular talents. In an onging process of figuring things out I applied to the Central Intelligence Agency while in college, seeking a career as an operative. I spoke with my wife, went through several phone interviews and was sent a first application. It was sort of approved and I was sent a second application and for it I got a recommendation from then US Senator John Breaux. This was sort of accepted and I was scheduled for initial testing and I sort of passed. Then I signed a confidentiality agreement of some kind for whatever happened thereafter. I cannot say more than that there were head games involved and I would describe my connections with the agency as just enough to endanger my friends and associates overseas by association and not nearly enough to get paid and supported.
I have spent a lot of time in places where there was conflict but I also have spent a lot of time alone in my room, at a picnic table in a park or elsewhere – reading, writing or using a computer’s keyboard or mouse. Solitude has defined my life as much as any conflict has and as much as the whole of conflict in my life has as well. These themes of conflict and solitude define my life in distinction and contrast to whatever themes of community and family there may be as well. Like a good number of people who write a lot I am fairly interested in myself. People tend to be interested in where there daily bread comes from and in the years when I taught, wrote, did outside sales or a number of other things for a living my daily bread seemed to come mostly from my own inner resources. So in writing and in other parts of my life, self absorption has been another theme which has been in contrast and distinction to themes of community and family in my life. Yet is all of this enough to describe whatever sense of alienation I have? Do the reasons for alienation matter much?
Just as I am posting this essay my parents have begun a series of events celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversary, which actually falls on the Thirteenth of May. It pleases me that we have in some sense been able as a family to fully mark the occasion. It is a milestone each of my parents saw their own parents reach. I could easily devote all my energy to reflecting on and writing about that huge portion my life which is purely personal or familial. Given the joys and the difficulties this event occasions for me internally and objectively I could write a full note about that and not bother writing about the many social, cultural and political things I write about in this note. It is more dangerous to criticize the government than it used to be according to many analysts. I am not sure that is true, it seems many people criticize it and survive now and many people have been punished by third parties and varied public means for criticizing it since the start of the republic. But despite that reality of continuous risk I know I have already paid a price and risk paying a greater price. Yet I do choose not only to discuss events and trends but to criticize and oppose. I choose to state my grievances on many matters. My own life would provide plenty to write about, however, I am still compelled to address national and global matters in these posts.
For me the election of Barack Hussein Obama as President of these United States of America was a signal that the time had come for me to expend the very little energy and resourcefulness which I could devote to criticism in criticizing a man who would make already intolerable prospects of this country much worse and do so much more quickly. I still think that was an appropriate reaction to his election. But this note will not be in the same vein as most of the others I have written. This note will be largely about better aspects of the Obama Presidency.
I find myself writing this note from a position in a set of circumstances I could not have predicted. The fact that I am not feeling well is a small part of that unforeseen circumstance. The fact that I cannot afford to deal with the misery of allergy season effectively through any of many effective means (not all of them purely medical) and do engage in a tiresome and expensive struggle this time of year has social implications. Countless people have suffered far worse health conditions than I have and still do every day. Yet, I can look back on all the many bad days in my life as well as the good ones and know that I was often heavily burdened when I was undertaking things that would still have been a great challenge if I had not been burdened. It can seem at times as though my life has always been a combination of the effects of living in a society in decay, being personally ill used and struggling to maintain my health in adverse conditions. Yet I know there have been good times as well. So it is with Obama’s Presidency, it may turn out that serious wrongs come to be connected to him in time for which he shall be held responsible – yet he has not been as bad a President as could be. I want to discuss what has been better than the worst possible case…
I have been among Barack Obama’s most committed and harshest critics since the day he was elected President. In general that will continue until he is out of office or I am unable to criticize him. However, I have on occasion praised this or that decision he has made and this or the other thing he has done. In addition I have written a great many times that he did not personally create any number of problems and bad behaviors for which I hold him responsible. I am going to dedicate this essay appearing as a post or note to putting forth some balance as regards Obama. Balance is not the same as truth. This does not change our fundamentally polemic pose towards one another’s positions and even persons. This is simply a matter of balancing the record of things I have chosen to write about President Barack Hussein Obama. Even in this essay it will be necessary to include some critical remarks but I want to address areas where I will clarify things I have written before.
I am going to address five areas where I think Barack Hussein Obama has done a better job than my harshest rhetoric would suggest. I am going to mention three reasons why I have had to oppose him that do not reflect so badly upon him or even his presidency as some of the other reasons I have for my opposition.
Where I think Barack Hussein Obama has done better than I warned

Privatizing Heavy Lift Rocketry
Whatever bad things may have been happening in the space program the heavy lift rocketry program is not as badly off as I suggested it might be by now. His decision may be as good as any has been lately. SpaceX and the Antares rocket system are both promising developments.
It may be that Elon Musk and others are going to bring America surely and not so slowly into a better position in terms of the space industry than we have been in and do so with sufficient speed to make a difference. I think there is a lot wrong with the space industry and with US space programs but I think things are better than they had appeared to me to be and better than I had indicated in some of my early writings. In addition scramjet technology is advancing whether despite Obama or not. These things matter a great deal to me. I believe the space industry is essential to human hope. Obama may have done less to kill it and more to help it than I have given him credit for up until now.
Avoiding Directly Inciting Social Unrest
I have seen a change in America sense Barack Hussein Obama became President of the United States and it has empowered a flagrancy of violence and anti-social behavior as I predicted. It is also true that his rhetoric is often of the type which undermines the coherence of this society and puts a great deal at risk. I never said he would directly incite total social chaos and upheaval – inever implied that either. However, he has in fact been averse to sacrificing all the advantages of the presidency to be a mere demagogue. It is not a very big difference but he has done better than the overall tone of my remarks and predictions would suggest.
Personal Racial Sensitivity
There has been some discontinuity for the better between the Obama who was elected and the President. In some small degree he has been more fair-minded and lucid about racial issues and above all has not been continuously in the habit of evoking his blackness as a matter of shaping the discourse in public around the White House. The difference is not total but he has done better than some of my more extreme writing might have seemed to predict that he would.
Sustained Systemic Attacks on Constitutional Governance
While Obama has not been a great model of either reverence for the constitution or effectiveness in dealing with the constitutional machinery and political realities of governance he has not completely given up the effort to govern legitimately. I never said he would by this point or ever in so many words. However, I have suggested that he is a truly hostile force as regards our national well-being. In time history may be written that shows most of my worst fears are true or such history may not be be written. Then it will be up to others to see how correct such histories are anyway. For the moment, however, Obama is still acting as President and not something else. I suggested that his greatest harm had little to do with this issue and I still say so but he is at least acting as a President for now.
Confronting BP and Not Reconfiguring the Economic System
The Obama administration has done well in policing the BP disaster in the Gulf overall. One cannot doubt that many administrations would have done worse. I do not approve of every decision he has made but I do think he has enforced the laws we have and has not made a strong public push for some radical new solution like nationalizing BP. Overall, he has handled this crisis fairly well and his administration and legacy have both benefitted from his good work in this regard.
These sorts of overstatements are part of the cost of being a critic. They are not without impact on me or my long-term credibility and they are not entirely avoidable. This has been typical of the long lasting and building cost of being me in my own country and in the world. My next formative influence shaping my point of view has to do with the experience of being an American abroad.
The Problems of American Identity
In addition to my problems in fitting in with the prevailing views of things in the United States I have lived much of my life outside the United States and have many associates in other countries. Some are American and some are not. American identity is not all good or all bad. It does not make everything better or make everything worse but it certainly creates an influence on all aspects of one’s interactions in life. We know of protest against Americans throughout much of the Moslem world, that North Korea has more or less made a religion of hating and despising America and fearing it as well. We ought to know vastly better than we do of the many times the British and the European Union snub and sideline Americans in the international affairs. But there is more to all of this than that. The attitudes and realities , manifest in the Italian scene as regards the Amanda Knox trial have a great deal to show us about the state of American Identity in places like Perugia, Italy.

I watched the broadcast of the Amanda Knox interview with Diane Sawyer on ABC on the last night of April 2013. In watching it I came to the experience as one who has been around jails, trials, law offices, police stations, hospitals and crisis outreach programs a good bit. I am not easily shocked and I know that law enforcement is a complicated and messy undertaking. It seemed that smoking pot and sleeping around was more alright with some Italians than others. There may well have been a web of racial, national and ethnic tensions in all this that we will never fully understand. But the Italian legal system has declared that Rudy Guede is guilty. This black man whose DNA is allegedly all over the crime scene is an Ivory Coast native raised in Perugia. He got a shorter sentence than the 26 years assigned to Amanda because he gave evidence against her and her boyfriend and in that trustful relationship with the police he also opted for a fast track trial. Rudy Guede does not seem to be closely connected with Amanda in any previous allegations or anecdotes and to have been at most on the very edge of her life. He was convicted in October 2008 of having sexually assaulted and murdered Kercher, and is currently serving a 16-year sentence. He could be out on parole before the Knox matter is resolved. It also seems that in the trauma of her initial questioning by police Amanda implicated the black man with an African name fro whom she worked and that she was partially or very stoned on Marijuana at the time. If she had nothing at all to do with the murder she seems unprepared to be Secretary of State – but that is not the question at hand.
In October 2011, Knox and Sollecito, who had both been in prison for years were released after both convictions were overturned at the second level trial. The language used in overturning their convictions was stronger than the bare minimum needed to effect the deed of setting them free. Perhaps that and the American press makes it hard for Italy to swallow the criticism of their system The liberating court’s official statement of their grounds for overturning the convictions included language by the judges stating that there was a “material non-existence” of evidence to support the guilty verdicts. The judges further stated that the prosecution’s theory of an association between Sollecito, Knox and Guede was “not corroborated by any evidence” and “far from probable”.[ The murder and subsequent events, especially Knox’s arrest and trial, received worldwide press coverage, often in the form of salacious tabloid reporting. Some observers criticized the media for not describing the case accurately and dispassionately, as they believed it could influence the court case. In March 2013 the appellate trial judgment was set aside by the Italian supreme court. Knox and Sollecito’s appeal will be reheard.

I felt that the case presented to her native country’s people by this young woman justified some response from me even though it comes at a time when I have many other things on my mind and in which I am more convinced than ever that the only way to address the issues presented in this or any of the many crises confronting America is to undertake broad and sweeping changes. I am sure that there are other people with things to say and write and they can do so. But I am in a quiet an rational way enraged, once I become enraged I usually remember the cause for the rest of my life. That does not contain and encapsulate all of my emotions related to this incident but it does describe my principal emotion as relates to this matter. Perhaps Amanda Knox is a Satanist priestess who lures black men into her apartment to kill her roommates brutally in sex games. But this seems unlikely. It seems so unlikely that I think it would be good for Italians to find out that despite the movies not all Americans who are violent are Italian-Americans or Black. There is no miraculous pass that applies to human scum who use the courts to vilify and savage a nation and construct absurdities.
If the courts are right so let it be seen. If not then it might be unlawful to say that I hope some of the real American underworld will reintroduce itself to Italy in time so they do not fantasize about dangerous Americans and go blaming a promiscuous tourist. So because it is unlawful I am not saying it in this blog post. It might be good for them to know there really are some people who are both bad guys and Americans – 100% both. However, our government really is made up of a bunch of sissies – I can’t argue against that perception much. There is no lower form of life than the kind of prosecutor who handled this case if in fact he was guided only by prejudice. And his prejudice is a threat to all Americans.
The facts of the case do not suggest that Amanda had anything to do with the case. The facts do suggest that Americans are a persecuted and hated minority in Italy. Meredith Susanna Cara Kercher, a British university exchange student from Coulsdon, South London, roomed with Amanda Knox who did not flee the area or try to hide from the police or anyone else when her roommate was brutally murdered. Meredith Susanna Cara Kercher was murdered in Perugia, Italy, on 1 November 2007 at the age of 21 and there was lots of blood and a man was found guilty of raping her. She was found dead on the floor of her bedroom in the dwelling she shared with Amanda who was out sleeping with her boyfriend and Kercher’s body was left to in plain connection with the place Knox lived as she was rendered lifeless by stab wounds to the throat. Amanda and her sex and drugs lifestyle that may offend some people in Italian justice did not appear to need to provide any motive. The motives appear to have been rape and robbery. Some of Kercher’s belongings were missing, including cash, two credit cards, two mobile phones, and her house keys. Italians were on the court that threw out her conviction and among others who worked for her but there seem to be many who felt it was alright to suggest that she was violent and abusive because she was an American. Somehow I think that if American bombers had laid waste Much of Italy more recently than the forties there would be fewer Italians who would blame our violence primarily on the pot-smoking girls who have sexual adventures in Italian cities with big tourism industries. Europeans have often had a hard time distinguishing forensic guilt and social undesirability – as have many other cultures. But Americans have to take this factor of anti-Americanism into account. It is a policy concern.

It seems that the United States does have an extradition treaty with Italy and so there is the very real question of whether or not Amanda Knox will have to return to Italy to stand trial. There is also the very real question as to whether or not she was involved in the murder of Meredith Kercher. The facts of the case are not entirely in dispute nor entirely agreed upon by the parties but it does seem right to identify the questions of the case as it relates to an American sheltering under our flag who has at least in part been singled out as an American for being an American abroad.

A good country would be putting Italy in pain. We are not a good country. We are sick and weak. If Amanda Knox is a murderer that does not answer the whole question, she is not likely the kind they say she is. Italy is not the most hostile country and it is not all their fault. We need to teach our daughters to represent better values abroad but we also need to stop lying to ourselves. Fewer people fear us and more despise us every year and we need to change our attitudes at home to change that reality abroad.
So while I have no connection to Amanda Knox, an American exchange student from a different region of America and value the life of her roommate Kercher I must say I presume my countrywoman has been horribly lied about. I also believe Knox’s then-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, an Italian student, who was convicted at the initial stage of a two-level trial process deserves support from Americans. They were sentenced to 26 and 25 years respectively and now they can be retried. I have paid a heavy price for what I perceive as very little of what it takes to make a decent life. There is no way for me to relax and cheer up. But while I am critical I am not happy to always be critical. I wish I could celebrate happily and with abandon far more often. I wish I got along better with more people and groups. But I am myself and will keep being myself – it is not likely to be a future of happy and easygoing getting along…

Another video post — encouraged but a month late