The Association Live

I never could figure out why these guys didn’t hit it bigger than they did. They had a unique sound, good songwriters, and a marvelous stage presence. For a while in the 1970s you couldn’t go to a wedding without hearing “Never My Love” or “Cherish”. Here’s an odd fact from Wikipedia: “Never My Love” has been accredited by BMI as the song with the second most US airplay in the 20th century (Number One? “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin”).

Here’s a three-song set the Association did in 1979, with five of the original seven guys performing.

That damned flag

Ta-Nehisi Coates:

Roof’s belief that black life had no purpose beyond subjugation is “sick and twisted” [as South Carolina’s Governor Nikki Haley said today] in the exact same manner as the beliefs of those who created the Confederate flag were “sick and twisted.” The Confederate flag is directly tied to the Confederate cause, and the Confederate cause was white supremacy. This claim is not the result of revisionism. It does not require reading between the lines. It is the plain meaning of the words of those who bore the Confederate flag across history. These words must never be forgotten. Over the next few months the word “heritage” will be repeatedly invoked. It would be derelict to not examine the exact contents of that heritage.

Examine those contents Coates does, in a dozen paragraphs, with the same number of citations and links to source documents, most of them despicable in their claims of white superiority, their claim to a Southern way of life far better than that of Northerners, and even a claim that the treatment of their “employees” was far more humane than that of Northern businessmen.

The difference between us is, that our slaves are hired for life and well compensated; there is no starvation, no begging, no want of employment among our people, and not too much employment either. Yours are hired by the day, not cared for, and scantily compensated, which may be proved in the most painful manner, at any hour in any street of your large towns. Why, you meet more beggars in one day, in any single street of the city of New York, than you would meet in a lifetime in the whole South.

I find that justification for the continuation of slavery almost unbelievably delusional, but it was typical. The author was James Henry Hammond, Governor and Senator of South Carolina prior to the Civil War.

Read the entire article Coates has written. It’s well argued, as always, and the quotations are enlightening.

Dad, you’re missed

12. Lew in front of Abraham Lincoln Home, Springfield, IL

This was 1951. We were en route from Sunnyvale, CA to Dad’s next duty station in Charleston, SC. I was not yet one year old and Dad was 25. We stopped in Springfield, IL to see the only home Abraham Lincoln ever owned. He lived there from 1844 to 1861.

Charleston

Yes, the motive was race hatred. Yes, the prevailing atmosphere in South Carolina as epitomized by the Confederate Battle Flag situated in a place of honor on the Statehouse grounds and by the celebration of Confederate Memorial Day is one that validates segregation of the races. No, Fox News, this was not part of a war against Christians. No, Republican Presidential candidates, it wasn’t an “accident” (Governor Perry), an “act of sickness” (Rand Paul), a vehicle by which you can re-express your love of the Second Amendment (Marco Rubio) or an act of a “whacked-out kid” (Lindsey Graham).

This was an act of racial hatred. Pure and simple. No frills added.

Here, watch Jon Stewart’s monologue. If you’ve seen it already, watch it again.

R.I.P. Phil Austin

Austin was one of the three surviving members of The Firesign Theater (Pete Bergman died in 2012). Austin died today. I spent many a night listening to their first four albums, trying to understand their surrealistic humor while ingesting substances which might have had an impact on that understanding.

His most famous role in the troupe was Nick Danger, Third Eye.

Catapult the Propaganda!

Apparently the words the alleged shooter spoke before opening fire last night at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston mean less than nothing to Fox News, at least if the panelists on its “Fox and Friends” show are any guide. According to a survivor he said “I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.”

Somehow I don’t think he thought that Christians were perpetrating crimes of that nature against his fellow whites, but then I’m not employed by Fox.

“Most people jump to conclusions about race [said pastor E.W. Jackson, who not so coincidentally is both black and a losing Republican candidate for Va. Lieutenant Governor a while back]. I long for the day when we stop doing that in our country. But we don’t know why he went into a church, but he didn’t choose a bar, he didn’t choose a basketball court, he chose a church, and we need to be looking at that very closely.”

As Wonkette says, if he’d wanted to shoot black people he’d have gone to a basketball court, but he went to a church so he must have wanted to shoot Christians.

How the hell do you make your mind work that way?

Tangentially, I wonder if Fox has ever employed a Jew, an atheist, or a Buddhist? Employing a Muslim would be right out, of course.

Blood from stones

The European Union’s Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission seem to be hell-bent on forcing Greece’s new ruling government to agree to even more pension cuts (they’ve already been cut by about 30-50 percent in the past five years) and raising value-added taxes in order to get more cash to pay the current pensions and some of its debt obligations.

These pensions are not particularly generous now; they’ve already been trimmed by at least 15% and up to 44%.

Greek pensions are now, on the whole, far from exorbitant: social security ministry figures show the average main pension is €713 a month, and the average top-up pension – typically funded by an industry retirement scheme – €169 per month. Some 60% of pensioners get less than €800 gross a month, and 45% live on less than the monthly poverty limit of €665.

I’m no expert, but it seems to me that since the current Greek government won election by saying there would be no more austerity programs instituted and that the Greeks have suffered enough (unemployment jumped to 28% in the five years that Europe has been demanding these programs), trying to force it to accept more would mean it would be forced out of office. Europe seems to think it can just push and push and push and eventually the poorer EU members will have to acquiesce to its “take your cod-liver oil” approach. The anger at Europe is already high; I suspect it would be so high if that happened that Greece’s ultra-right-wing Golden Dawn party might win enough seats to form a government. Considering that Golden Dawn is at least fascist if not neo-Nazi, that doesn’t seem to be a result the rest of Europe should want.

Tuesday’s Women’s World Cup results

Australia played Sweden to a 1-1 draw, meaning the Aussies finished second in Group D with a 1-1-1 record. Cameroon defeated Switzerland 2-1 to advance to the knockout round from Group C, Japan beat Ecuador 1-0 to advance, also from Group C, and oh yeah, the Americans beat Nigeria 1-0 to finish first in Group D (2-0-1) and advance to the knockout round themselves.

The Americans got their goal from Abby Wambach (number 183 overall and number 14 in World Cup play for her career) in the 45th minute, which made for a very worrisome second half for the average fan like me. Every run the opponent makes could tie the match, so my stomach starts to churn when they get possession. But the Americans held Nigeria off and I didn’t have to resort to Pepto-Bismol. Their next match will be

against the third place finisher from Group B/E/F, with the opponent to be determined after tomorrow’s final Group Stage matches. The Round of 16 contest will take place June 22 at 8 p.m. ET at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Alberta.