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    • Seven Rules for Running a Real Left-wing Government
      (With the Bolivian coup overthrown, back to the top.  I’ve noticed this is the article of mine front-line activists refer to most.  Originally published May 16, 2016.) So, we have had a right-wing coup in Brazil. In Venezuela, the left still controls the Presidency, but has lost control of parliament. In Argentina, the right has […]
  • Top Posts

Memorial Day: For the Union Dead

Burial ground for Union soldiers who died at Andersonville Prison

Burial ground for Union soldiers who died at Andersonville Prison

Memorial Day

was first observed in 1865 as Decoration Day by liberated slaves, who independently set up, decorated and proclaimed an ad-hoc graveyard – a field of “passionless mounds” – to honor dead Union soldiers.

In 1868, General John A. Logan issued the original order for Memorial Day.

Learning about the history of Memorial Day put me in mind of a poem by Robert Lowell, who was a conscientious objector during World War II and did time in federal prison for resisting the draft. Later, he was involved in the Civil Rights movement and the antiwar movement during the 1960s. He was arrested at the famous peace march that surrounded the Pentagon in October, 1967. This protest is described in Norman Mailer’s The Armies of the Night.

For the Union Dead

Relinquunt Ommia Servare Rem Publicam.

The old South Boston Aquarium stands
in a Sahara of snow now. Its broken windows are boarded.
The bronze weathervane cod has lost half its scales.
The airy tanks are dry.
Once my nose crawled like a snail on the glass;
my hand tingled to burst the bubbles
drifting from the noses of the crowded, compliant fish.

My hand draws back. I often sign still
for the dark downward and vegetating kingdom
of the fish and reptile. One morning last March,
I pressed against the new barbed and galvanized

fence on the Boston Common. Behind their cage,
yellow dinosaur steamshovels were grunting
as they cropped up tons of mush and grass
to gouge their underworld garage.

Parking spaces luxuriate like civic
sandpiles in the heart of Boston.
a girdle of orange, Puritan-pumpkin colored girders
braces the tingling Statehouse,

shaking over the excavations, as it faces Colonel Shaw
and his bell-cheeked Negro infantry
on St. Gaudens’ shaking Civil War relief,
propped by a plank splint against the garage’s earthquake.

Two months after marching through Boston,
half of the regiment was dead;
at the dedication,
William James could almost hear the bronze Negroes breathe.

Their monument sticks like a fishbone
in the city’s throat.
Its Colonel is a lean
as a compass-needle.

He has an angry wrenlike vigilance,
a greyhound’s gentle tautness;
he seems to wince at pleasure,
and suffocate for privacy.

He is out of bounds now. He rejoices in man’s lovely,
peculiar power to choose life and die-
when he leads his black soldiers to death,
he cannot bend his back.

On a thousand small town New England greens
the old white churches hold their air
of sparse, sincere rebellion; frayed flags
quilt the graveyards of the Grand Army of the Republic

The stone statutes of the abstract Union Soldier
grow slimmer and younger each year-
wasp-waisted, they doze over muskets
and muse through their sideburns…

Shaw’s father wanted no monument
except the ditch,
where his son’s body was thrown
and lost with his “niggers.”

The ditch is nearer.
There are no statutes for the last war here;
on Boylston Street, a commercial photograph
shows Hiroshima boiling

over a Mosler Safe, the “Rock of Ages”
that survived the blast. Space is nearer.
when I crouch to my television set,
the drained faces of Negro school-children rise like balloons.

Colonel Shaw
is riding on his bubble,
he waits
for the blessed break.

The Aquarium is gone. Everywhere,
giant finned cars nose forward like fish;
a savage servility
slides by on grease.

The ancient owls’ nest must have burned.
Hastily, all alone,
a glistening armadillo left the scene,
rose-flecked, head down, tail down,

and then a baby rabbit jumped out,
short-eared, to our surprise.
So soft!- a handful of intangible ash
with fixed, ignited eyes.

Too pretty, dreamlike mimicry!
O falling fire and piercing cry
and panic, and a weak mailed fist
clenched ignorant against the sky!

Robert Lowell

Your Breakfast Read, Served By The Confluence

Sunday Read

  • Barack We Hardly Knew Ye
  • Nuance Is a Fine Word Until It’s Pronounced Flip-Flop

    In short, Mr. Obama argued, what seemed like a reversal wasn’t a reversal at all.
    […]
    It is a tactic Mr. Obama has employed repeatedly as president, as he has recalibrated his approach to positions on any number of issues. He told Planned Parenthood that his first act as president would be to sign an abortion rights bill into law; now he says it is “not my highest legislative priority.” He promised gay rights advocates that he would work for the repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, but he has pushed action into the future. A proponent of transparency, he released previously classified memos describing the C.I.A.’s harsh interrogation techniques. But then he moved to block the release of photos showing abuse of detainees — a 180-degree turn from his administration’s previous position.

    Some Obama Enemies Are Made Totally of Straw (h/t edgeoforever)


  • The Next Battle
  • In Court Pick, Obama Seeks Experience of Real World

    President Obama, who has often cited intellect and empathy as qualities he wants in a Supreme Court nominee, said in a television interview broadcast Saturday that he was also looking for “somebody who has common sense and somebody who has a sense of how American society works and how the American people live.”

    Obama Says He Will Announce Supreme Court Pick ‘Soon’

    Whose SC pick is it anyway?
    Senate GOP: Not so fast on Court pick

    Democrats contend that Republicans are planning to slow-walk an inevitable confirmation. The GOP has an incentive to do so: Conservative activists have vowed to use the court fight to raise money, fire up their base, identify troops and rebuild their movement, with millions of dollars in advertising planned.

    Earl Warren, a justice with empathy


  • Brava
  • Gay US diplomats to receive equal benefits (via HuffPost)

    Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will soon announce that gay American diplomats will be given benefits similar to those that their heterosexual counterparts enjoy, U.S. officials said Saturday.

    […] Clinton says regulations that denied same-sex couples and their families the same rights and privileges that straight diplomats enjoyed are “unfair and must end,” as they harm U.S. diplomacy.

    May other states join Iowa as beacon of equality


  • “War On Terror”
  • Obama’s liberal base takes aim over terror policies

    Have We Already Lost Iran?

    Dick Cheney: Washington trembles at the return of ‘Darth Vader’

    ‘Terror debate’ is phony drama

    U.S. Relies More on Aid of Allies in Terror Cases

    The United States is now relying heavily on foreign intelligence services to capture, interrogate and detain all but the highest-level terrorist suspects seized outside the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, according to current and former American government officials.

    Would we do just about anything to show some sort of “success” in the “War On Terror”?
    FBI ‘lured dimwits’ into terror plot

    The arrest of petty crooks over a plan to target Jews has put the use of sting operations under fire


  • GOP Still Looking For a Strategery
  • Pelosi seems to be weathering Republican criticism just fine

    GOP Sees Road to Revival Starting at Guantanamo

    GOP Rep. rips ‘reprehensible’ video

    At least one Republican doesn’t think it’s OK to compare Nancy Pelosi to Pussy Galore.
    […]
    “I thought it was reprehensible, irresponsible and unpersuasive. If we’re going to regain the credibility of the American people, we’re going to have to stop with silly antics like that. It may get a snide chuckle inside the Beltway, but it offends most people. We have to get away from the politics of personal destruction”

    Is Colin Powell still a Republican?


  • Af-Pak Headaches
  • Stalemate

    A single company of U.S. Marines is slugging it out with the Taliban in Afghanistan’s toughest ghost town. The battle shows how limited troop numbers have hurt the war—and why the U.S. is changing its strategy.

    Battle for a Taliban town of terror

    Initially welcomed, the mullahs controlled Mingora with burnings and beheadings. Now the Pakistani army is attempting to expel them

    Pakistan’s Anger

    As Zardari’s offensive against the Taliban uproots more than a million Pakistanis, a seething mistrust of the United States only grows.


  • Economy Watch
  • Let Them Go Bankrupt, Soon: Solving Social Security and Medicare. (Maybe Dakinikat should take it to Robert Samuelson)

    $1 Trillion and Counting for Our Two Wars

    On September 12, 2001, could we have predicted spending $1 trillion for wars allegedly fought in response to the tragedy gripping our nation? Could we have imagined the human as well as economic costs?

    Moral Hazard and the Meltdown

    Why did so many players place these large, risky bets? A simple yet significant part of the answer is that the potential gains and losses were asymmetric. If housing prices continued to climb, or at least not fall, the participants could achieve large profits. If housing prices failed to appreciate, or even fell, the losses would be largely borne by others, including taxpayers. “Heads” and the bettors would win — “tails” and others would lose.

    Obama hopes for `leaner, meaner’ GM and Chrysler

    How Beijing is Battling the Global Crisis

    The West is pinning its hopes on China to revive the global economy. Beijing is orchestrating its efforts to combat the crisis as meticulously as it once planned the country’s spectacular economic ascent


  • Good Pick
  • Obama Picks Shuttle Veteran To Be First Black NASA Chief

    President Obama yesterday nominated a former Marine aviator and space shuttle astronaut to become the new head of NASA and oversee a broad review of the agency’s ambitions for manned and robotic space exploration.
    Retired Maj. Gen. Charles F. Bolden Jr. will become the first African American to run the space agency if approved by the Senate.
    In addition to his long résumé of military and NASA experience, Bolden served more recently as chief executive of a defense and aerospace consulting firm.


  • VA Follies
  • Bull’s-eye on McAuliffe in Va. race


  • Better Than Fiction
  • Revealed: how Italy tried to cut a deal with the Mafia


  • WTF???
  • Man charged in penis ‘puppet’ incident

    The police report of the incident said Timothy Wayne Martin, 44, of Auburn, Wash., was arrested after residents of the Arcadia Apartment Complex in Federal Way called police at about 10:30 a.m. May 13 and reported a man standing over an air conditioner intake wearing only an unbuttoned flannel shirt and “was apparently manipulating” his penis with a string “like a puppet,”


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