Sunday, May 31, 2009

Tulsa Race "Riot"

Today is Sunday, 31 May 2009.

On this date in 1921, what is usually known as the “Tulsa Race Riot” began.

That it occurred in Tulsa, Oklahoma is true. That it had to do with race is true. That it was a “riot” is lies.

Many, if not most, white Tulsans of that day were white supremacists, and therefore deeply angered by the fact that the local Black community had prospered, for that prosperity put paid to all the malignant egotistic lies of white supremacy.

Therefore many white Tulsans conspired together, attacked the ghetto, burned much of it to the ground, and murdered at least 300 Black Tulsans, and perhaps as many as 3,000.

Not one of the murderers or arsonists was ever tried, let alone convicted, let alone imprisoned.

What those white Tulsans did was no more a “riot” than what the Nazis did.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

In Memory: James Earl Chaney

Today is Saturday, 30 May 2009.

James Earl Chaney was born in the African-American ghetto in Meridian, Mississippi on this date in 1943. He would later become a volunteer, then a paid staffer in the organizing office of the Congress of Racial Equality at Philadelphia, Mississippi. On 21 June 1964, Chaney and fellow CORE staffers Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were assassinated outside Philadelphia by the Ku Klux Klan.

On Chaney’s tombstone is the inscription:

“There are those who are alive,
Yet will never live,
There are those who are dead,
Yet will live forever.

Great deeds inspire and encourage the living.”

Also on this date:

In 1788, Voltaire died.

In 1960, Pasternak died.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Royal Dutch Shell on Trial for Crimes Against Humanity

Today is Wednesday, 27 May 2009.

Beginning in the 1950s, oil has been pumped from the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, causing widespread environmental destruction. Most of the revenues are siphoned off by the central government, much lost to corruption, and only a pittance benefits the people of the Delta, who have been and are being subjected to harrowing human rights abuses. Deeply complicit in these crimes are foreign oil companies, particularly Royal Dutch Shell.

One of the champions of the rights and welfare of the people of the Delta was Kenule "Ken" Beeson Saro-Wiwa (born 10 October 1941), a novelist, television producer, environmental activist, and President of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP). After a show trial, Saro-Wiwa was assassinated on 10 November 1995 by the Nigerian military dictatorship headed by Gen. Sani Abacha.

A lawsuit against Shell for its crimes is scheduled to go to trial today in United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

For more on Ken Saro-Wiwa:

For more on the trial of Royal Dutch Shell:

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Day

Today is Monday, 25 May 2009.

"Wars cannot be ended, only never begun".

Friday, May 22, 2009

First Firefly of Summer

Today is Friday, 22 May 2009.

The first firefly (Lampyridae) of summer was observed this date near our Reflecting Pool at 8.43pm Central Daylight Time (20.43 Universal Coordinated Time/Greenwich Mean Time).

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Tamil Tragedy

Today is Wednesday, 20 May 2009.

And so 26 years of armed Tamil struggle in Sri Lanka have ended, with the victory of the Sinhalese majority, and the deaths at government hands of more than 100,000 Tamils, or more than 5% of their number.

Surely the deaths can be overlooked, given that the Sinhalese dictatorship was mortally threatened by Tamil self-rule, let alone an independent Tamil state, given that the Sinhalese number a mere 70% of the population, and the Tamils an overwhelming 10%.


The ethical character of the Sinhalese government was perfectly encapsulated in the final days of the conflict, when it denounced reports that its military was shelling Tamil civilians with heavy artillery, and then, a few days later, claimed it had ceased such shelling as an humanitarian gesture.

It should not escape notice that Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon, was a British Crown Colony for the 152 years preceding re-independence in 1948. It is obvious that the re-structuring of the local society by the virulent white racism of the British Empire, and the example set by the latter, only exacerbated the extant prejudices of the Sinhalese majority against the Tamil minority. The present outcome was virtually guaranteed through the donation by “Western Civilization” of its highly refined tool-kit for military and social technologies of oppression, exploitation, and destruction.

Journalist: “Mr. Gandhi: What do you think of Western Civilization?”

Gandhi: “I think it would be a good idea.”

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

In Memory: Rodger McFarlane

Today is Tuesday, 19 May 2009.

It is with great sorrow that The Museum of the Bourgeois memorializes the death of Rodger McFarlane, first executive director of Gay Men’s Health Crisis, and former executive director of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

Rodger committed suicide last Friday in New Mexico, after a struggle with heart problems and pain resulting from a broken back. He was 54.

I was privileged to work with Rodger in New York City. Rodger was one of the finest organizers and nonprofit executives I’ve known.

I extend my condolences to Rodger’s family and friends.

Malcolm X was born on this date in 1925.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Brown v. Board

Today is Sunday, 17 May 2009.

On this date in 1954, the Supreme Court of the United States, in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), found that de jure racial segregation in public schools violated the Constitution.

Unfortunately, tens of millions of white Americans remain enchained by fantasies of white racial superiority, and discrimination continues the work of slavery and segregation, doing its best to exploit and oppress Black Americans.

Many white Americans still cannot forgive Blacks for the crime of slavery.

In Memory: Jackson State Murders

Today is Friday, 15 May 2009.

I’ve been so caught up in following the dénouement of the civil war in Sri Lanka that I forgot to post the following column.

On 14 May 1970, a few more than a hundred students at Jackson State College, in Jackson, Mississippi, an historically Black institution, gathered to protest the murders eleven days before at Kent State. Cars were overturned and fires were set, then extinguished.

Shortly after midnight on this date, a force of at least 75 members of the Mississippi Highway Patrol and Jackson Police Department opened fire, unprovoked, on the students, murdering two. The police later claimed they had come under sniper fire, but no evidence was ever uncovered to support this rationalization.

No police were ever charged in the murders, let alone convicted. Is it any surprise that coverage of the murders of Black students was hardly a ripple, compared to the tidal wave of publicity surrounding the Kent State murders?

Murdered were Phillip Lafayette Gibbs, 21, a junior, and James Earl Green, 17, a student at Jim Hill High School; twelve others were wounded.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Che Lives!

Today is Thursday, 14 May 2009.

On this date in 1928, Ernesto “Che” Guevara was born.

Yes, I know the birth certificate says 14 June 1928, but I find persuasive the scholarship concluding that the date was almost certainly faked by a month, to conceal the fact that Che’s mother was pregnant when she married.

So anyway, my bookseller received a recently-published book I ordered on Tuesday, but I waited until today to pick it up: Che’s Afterlife: The Legacy of an Image, by Michael Casey (Vintage/Random House, 2009).

A book report in due time.

Obama Coddles War Criminals

Today is Wednesday, 13 May 2009.

The cowardly decision of the Obama regime not to release photos of US military crimes against Iraqi prisoners is rationalized as avoiding further inflammation of anti-US sentiments in the Middle East, which latter would in turn endanger US military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is absurd and asinine to imagine that, given the hundreds of thousands of needless deaths In Iraq caused by the Cheney-Bush regime, or murders one should say, that anti-US sentiment can be significantly more inflamed.

Given the Obama regime’s policy of coddling the Bush-Cheney war criminals, and its eager embrace of scapegoating lower ranks, I can only draw the conclusion that Obama is loathe to "inflame" American anti-war crimes sentiments.

When Gerald Ford coddled the war criminals of the Nixon regime, he at least had the excuse that he was also one of them.

What's Obama's excuse?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mike Bloomberg: A Real Mutha

Today is Sunday, 10 May 2009.

Mike Bloomberg, Mayor of the City of New York, has been named the First Annual Mother’s Day “Real Mutha” by The Museum of the Bourgeois.

Week before last, at the Mayor’s dictation, the City began applying a state law for the first time since it was enacted in 1997, forcing homeless families who have job income, however meager, to pay up to 50% of that income as rent for the privilege of residing in often-squalid city shelters.

The billionaire Mayor Mutha’s justification: “Everybody else is doing it, and we're told we have to do it, so we're going to do it."

“Everybody else is doing it”: If everybody else were jumping off a cliff, would you?

“… and we’re told we have to do it …”: “I was only following orders”.

Read the article referenced below, including the plight of a single mother of a 2-year-old child, being looted by Mutha Bloomberg of $336 of her magnificent $800 a month income. That is 42%. (She also pays nearly $100 a week for child care.)

The same Mike Mutha who manipulated the political process in order to be eligible to buy a third term (with his personal fortune), thus further feeding his rancid, bloated ego.

All the plagues of hell be with you, Mutha Bloomberg.


Happy Cold War Day!

Today is Saturday, 9 May 2009.

On this date in 1945, the evil empires of the USA/USE and the USSR, having the previous day put paid to the far-more-evil empire of Nazi Germany, commenced the Cold War, the struggle to become the world’s only Superpower.

Hence, the holiday named “Cold War Day” (by analogy with Victory in Europe Day/V-E Day), or “CW Day” for short.

Granted, sticklers might argue that the Cold War began at 2301 Central European Time on 8 May 1945, the moment when the German surrender became effective. While technically correct, the co-location of V-E Day and CW Day on 8 May would result in celebration of two holidays on one day, and thus one day less of net celebration.

That’s why I chose to designate 9 May as Cold War Day back in 1975. Unfortunately, the holiday is not currently widely observed.

Nevertheless, Happy Cold War Day!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

V-E Day

Today is Friday, 8 May 2009.

V-E Day in 1945: Victory in Europe. The evil empires of the USA/USE, USSR, and UK defeat the far-more-evil empire of Nazi Germany. Unfortunately, the victors don’t draw the moral, “Crime doesn’t pay”, but the conclusion, “Violence is good”.

On this date in 1880, Gustave Flaubert died.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Blood of Indochina

Today is Thursday, 7 May 2009.

On this date in 1954, the French fortress at Dien Bien Phu fell to the Viet Minh.

The next day, the French government began negotiating withdrawal from its Indochinese colonies. Vietnam was subsequently split into two halves: the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in the north, ruled by the Viet Minh, and the Republic of Vietnam in the south, ruled by the dictator Ngo Dinh Diem. The latter became a client of the United States, primarily at the instigation of its Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, supported by his brother, Allen Dulles, Director of Central Intelligence. This would lead to some 5 to 6 million more deaths by 1975, when US influence was finally expelled.

Interestingly, the law firm of J.F. Dulles had represented the interests of Nazi Germany in the US during the 1930s.

The Quote of the Day is from yesterday’s The New York Times. By way of background: Mia Farrow is currently on a 21-day hunger strike to draw attention to the mass murder in Darfur.

“We appreciate Mia Farrow’s intentions and we respect her for her interest in the welfare of the Sudanese people,” says Khaled al-Mubarak, media councilor at the Sudanese embassy in London. “She is a good actress and a good human being, but as a politician she is only a beginner. She is like George Clooney, who has also got involved in the Darfur question. He is good looking but ignorant. She is ignorant too.”

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Jail Them All

Today is Wednesday, 6 May 2009.

The entire point of torture as an interrogation technique is simple: torturers must convince subjects that the former have absolutely no compunctions whatsoever about, if “necessary”, inflicting irreversible damage up to and including death. That they would regard a subject’s death as of no more ethical consequence than squashing a cockroach. Threatening death has functionality only if one will actually kill.

Thus, the protestations of the impresarios of waterboarding that “of course we wouldn’t really do it” ring hollow. Either they wouldn’t do it, the threats are pointless, and waterboarding is purely sadism, divorced from any investigative utility, or the waterboarders really would kill by drowning, and are therefore self-confessed criminals against humanity. Given the propensity of American authorities for extra-judicial executions by means of drone-delivered missiles, there is no reason to doubt that they would shrink from murder by drowning.

The interrogation techniques of honest cops are one thing: trick questions, lying about what they know or who confessed to what, etc. Any physical or mental coercion beyond that point is torture and crime against humanity.

By confecting legal arguments rationalizing torture, the pseudo-lawyers of the Bush-Cheney regime violated their responsibilities to honour the Constitution, and shat upon all human decency. (Of course, by their logic, shitting upon a prisoner (or a prisoner’s children) wouldn’t be irreversible damage, and would therefore be permissible.) Such pseudo-lawyers are "blood brothers" of their counterparts in Nazi Germany who concocted the legal machinery for the persecution and extermination of Jews.

If the Obama regime refuses to haul these criminals into the dock and put them in prison, as seems likely, then the regime becomes part of an on-going conspiracy to commit crimes against humanity.

Of course, prosecuting the lower-level thugs, who were, after all, acting not on their own initiative, but "only following orders" of the Leader (German: Fuhrer) class, would logically lead to prosecution of the Leader/Fuhrer class as well. And no American president has ever essayed the decency and courage required to call criminal predecessors to account.

But then, why should the Obama regime repudiate this aspect of the American Way of Life? Torture, war crimes, and crimes against humanity have been part and parcel of American imperialism since 1776, and likewise before the Founding Fathers accomplished their hostile takeover of the British imperialism franchise.

Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.

Carnegie Hall

Today is Tuesday, 5 May 2009.

On this date in 1891, Carnegie Hall formally opened with a concert conducted by P.I. Tchaikovsky.

In the Eighties, I had the honour of producing a benefit concert there. The honoree was Marian Anderson, and the Modern Jazz Quartet performed.


When four dogs live with one, getting everyone to bed for the night can be quite a chore. "No snacks?" "I need to go out again." "You told that story last week." "Could you sing the lullaby in Chinese tonight?" I thought I had posted this column last night, but obviously was distracted. Sorry. Great tune anywho.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Kent State

Today is Monday, 4 May 2009.

On this date in 1970, certain members of the Ohio National Guard conspired together and then fired, with aim and at random, into crowds on the campus of Kent State University in Ohio.

The murdered were Allison Krause, Jeffrey Glen Miller, Sandra Lee Scheuer, and William Knox Schroeder.

The wounded were Alan Canfora, John R. Cleary, Thomas Mark Grace, Dean Kahler, Joseph Lewis, Jr., Donald Scott MacKenzie, James Dennis Russell, Robert F. Stamps, and Douglas A. Wrentmore.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Happy 90th, Pete Seeger!

Today is Sunday, 3 May 2009.

If an army marches on its stomach, social movements march on their songs.

Happy 90th birthday to a great troubador of the Left, Pete Seeger.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Hail, Carol Ann Duffy!

Today is Saturday, 2 May 2009.

What great delight
finally to write:
first time in 341 years,
poet laureate of Britain

Carol Ann Duffy.


Not a red rose or a satin heart.

I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.

It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.

I am trying to be truthful.

Not a cute card or a kissogram.

I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.

Take it.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring,
if you like.

Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.
--- Carol Ann Duffy

The Museum of the Bourgeois congratulates you!

A profile may be found at:

Friday, May 01, 2009

Happy International Workers Day!

Today is Friday, 1 May 2009.

On balance, who contributes more positively to the welfare of society: trash workers and plumbers, or bankers?

Given that the sine qua non, the “without which not”, the indispensable element, of modern civilization is sanitary conditions, the obviously correct answer is “trash workers and plumbers”.


Banking existed for centuries, without significantly extending the human life span. The latter only occurred when people in urban configurations, from the tiniest hamlets to the largest cities, ceased wallowing (to be indelicate) in their own shit and piles of garbage.

Any rational and non-suicidal society would therefore obviously more generously reward the contributions of trash workers and plumbers than bankers.

But not capitalism, and thus we are (see this coming?) currently again in the toilet.

A thought for this May Day, brought to you by all the good folks at the Museum of the Bourgeois.

Happy International Workers Day!