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Profile Information

Name: Mister Rea
Gender: Male
Hometown: Houston
Home country: Moon
Current location: afk
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 42,642

About Me

I live in Houston, if you can call this living. I teach history to 11th graders. They don't appreciate my genius. I'm an active Democrat really only around election time (knock on doors, make a few phone calls, maybe donate a dollar or two if I think it'll do some good). I'm 48. I'm datin a real special gal right now, but if I don't watch my step I may have to edit out this sentence. I have pretensions toward being a director of performance art, although I've only put on one show (as of Dec 2011). I'm currently working on a second show. Our group is called Invisible Lines (www.invisiblelines.net). I mostly drink Shiner Bock beer because it's a mouth full of heaven. I'm a nut about George Washington, Martin Luther King Jr, and John Dewey. I've resisted for three years saying "I told ya so" about Barack Obama (but then again, I supported Biden in '08 so my room for complaining is minimal). That said, I'll certainly vote mediocre over evil any day of the week. I want Elizabeth Warren to run in 2016. And a pony. I totally want a pony.

Journal Archives

Dear Abby (cheating wife letter)

Jefferson and Hemings.

I wrote this as a reply that got out of hand in another thread. I thought I'd post it here, too, for anyone who is interested in this topic. The DUer I was replying to remarked that Thomas Jefferson was a rapist. I couldn't exactly dispute it; but I counted fully concur either. So here's how I split the moral difference.

It's harsh, and problematic, to judge 18th century behavior by 21st century standards. I certainly see the case for calling the Jefferson-Hemings relationship de facto rape. Obviously, legally speaking, it was not. How much consent Sally Hemings had will never be known. Absent that, all we can do is project--it's not even guessing--what we think might have happened there.

Sally Hemings was not just a slave. She was also Jefferson's sister-in-law. Sally's father was also the father of Jefferson's beloved wife Martha. Upon Martha's marriage to Thomas, her mother compelled her father (John Wayles) to send off the little quadroon girl (Sally's mother was at least mulatto, and quite possibly more than half white) who reminded her of her husband's on going affair with one of his slaves. Sally, then just a child, became a gift to the newlyweds, and thus legally owned by her own sister. Gossips as she grew up liked to note how much she resembled Martha Wayles Jefferson.

There's a special sort of denial-of-the-obvious that has to go on in a slave-owning household, but deep in their guts the Jeffersons must have known they were in legal possession of blood kin.

After Martha's death in 1782, Thomas went into a deep depression. His horrible performance as war governor also played a part in his funk. His friends tried to buck him up, keep him busy. They returned him to Congress, where he worked on plans to develop the west, including keeping Ohio free of slavery. Next they sent him off to Paris to replace Ben Franklin as minister (ambassador) to France. Once settled there, he sent for his daughter to join him there. Sally, now a teenager, came along as part of the retinue.

While single in Paris in the 1700s, Thomas Jefferson dogged it up. His most serious dalliance was with a brilliant English actress, who also happened to be married. If I recall correctly, she was not the only Mrs. he dallied with. I'd have to look that up but I'm not around my books right now. But Maria Cosway, the actress intellectually stimulated him. See his Debate between the Heart and Head letter to her. He made a fool of himself for Mrs Cosway. Once he tried to impress her by hopping over a fence in a single leap. He was not an athlete. He stumbled and broke his ankle. Maria left him anyway.

It's probably about this time that Sally caught his eye, with her resemblance to his wife and her doubtless compliant character, what with her being a slave and all. She was also, alas, not as bright as her sister. Abigail met Sally and, probably not knowing the family dynamics, was thoroughly unimpressed with the girl. Whatever charms she held for TJ, it was not her scintillating wit. This, along with her race and lack of capicity to actually refuse sexual consent, sets Sally Hemings apart from most of Jefferson's other known paramours.

On the other hand, it's not like Sally wouldn't have benefited in some small degree from yielding to her master's* advances. A slave cannot hope for freedom, but she can aspire to more comfortable circumstances. Becoming the boss's bedwarmer would certainly afford her that, along with less work duties and the occasional bauble TJ might've lavished on her out of affection. Was the relationship coerced? At some implied level, almost certainly. And yet we have plenty of character witnesses in history recounting Jefferson as a gentle, introverted, brainy man. He had a track record for pursuing smart women.

But who knows, perhaps Jefferson himself was tired of the games the smart girls play. Perhaps Maria's come-hither-go-thither games burned him out. He was in his 40s when he took Sally as a mistress--well into middle age in that day--and quite the bumpkin at love. A simple lover and an uncomplicated affair can be quite a comfort to a man who needs sexual healing more than he needs the thrill of the chase. He was always a man who sought peace, harmony, and equilibrium in his other relations. He acquired no personal enemies in life, only political ones. He didn't suffer from "testosterone poisoning" as many sexual predators tend to do. He was a slaveowner, but hardly the possessor of an Ottoman harem. It seems unlike him to be a tyrant in his household, although for all that can be known we must always remember that absolute power has the capacity to corrupt absolutely even the gentlest human characters. At what is more absolute than the power to sell another soul down to a Carolina rice swamp over a lover's tiff?

If to Jefferson the children they had represented secret little octoroon joys, to Sally they might have also represented a kind of domestic insurance. But again, these are only stabs in the dark. My guess, as much idle speculation as is anyone else's, is that he sought the path of least resistance in taking his half-sister-in-law to bed, but didn't exactly need to threaten violence (beyond that which slavery entails) to close the deal.

People are complicated and, when slavery is a social institution rather than a simple felony, passing judgment on them from 200 years away is bound to folly.

Quote from Jefferson showing his small gov't philosophy

I'm reading Jefferson's Notes on Virginia (1783), written to correct European misconceptions about North America's governance and ecology. It's fascinating. Here's what he wrote comparing the relative anarchy of Indian society with the heirarchical structures of Europe--presumedly Jefferson found the young United States halfway between the two extremes (this was 18 months after Yorktown, but while the Treaty of Paris was still being negotiated). I thought the last paragraph was interesting.

Teej said:
When the first effectual settlement of our colony was made, which was in 1607, the country from the sea-coast to the mountains, and from Patowmac to the most southern waters of James river, was occupied by upwards of forty different tribes of Indians. Of these the Powhatans, the Mannahoacs, and Monacans, were the most powerful. Those between the sea-coast and falls of the rivers, were in amity with one another, and attached to the Powhatans as their link of union. Those between the falls of the rivers and the mountains, were divided into two confederacies; the tribes inhabiting the head waters of Patowmac and Rappahanoc being attached to the Mannahoacs; and those on the upper parts of James river to the Monacans. But the Monacans and their friends were in amity with the Mannahoacs and their friends, and waged joint and perpetual war against the Powhatans.

We are told that the Powhatans, Mannahoacs, and Monacans, spoke languages so radically different, that interpreters were necessary when they transacted business. Hence we may conjecture, that this was not the case between all the tribes, and probably that each spoke the language of the nation to which it was attached; which we know to have been the case in many particular instances. Very possibly there may have been antiently {anciently} three different stocks, each of which multiplying in a long course of time, had separated into so many little societies. This practice results from the circumstance of their having never submitted themselves to any laws, any coercive power, any shadow of government. Their only controuls are their manners, and that moral sense of right and wrong, which, like the sense of tasting and feeling, in every man makes a part of his nature. An offence against these is punished by contempt, by exclusion from society, or, where the case is serious, as that of murder, by the individuals whom it concerns.

Imperfect as this species of coercion may seem, crimes are very rare among them: insomuch that were it made a question, whether no law, as among the savage Americans, or too much law, as among the civilized Europeans, submits man to the greatest evil, one who has seen both conditions of existence would pronounce it to be the last: and that the sheep are happier of themselves, than under care of the wolves. It will be said, that great societies cannot exist without government. The Savages therefore break them into small ones.

It's like that dude ate Smart for breakfast.

You're so Boehn (I'll bet you think this cliff is about you)

You misled your whole party
Like everyone owned a yacht
You had strategically got the districts drawn
So the House of Reps could be bought
You had one eye on the mirror
As you watched yourself cry a lot...

And all of the press said that you'd reach a bargain,
you'd reach a bargain, but...

You're so Boehn
You probably think this cliff is about you
You're so Boehn (you're so Boehn)
I'll bet you think this cliff is about you
Don't you? Don't you?

Oh, you set this up some months ago
When you were still quite naive
When the pretty Foxes told you polling said
What you wanted then to believe
But you gave away your marbles when
You Kool-Aid was cut with Tea

I had a dream that you wanted to govern
Wanted to govern, but...

You're so Boehn
You probably think this cliff is about you
You're so Boehn (such a pain!)
I'll bet you think this cliff is about you
Don't you? Don't you?

{musical interlude - dancing Tea Bags launch onto stage like Chinese Opera dancers, wielding scissors instead of swords}

We had a race and got your ass battered
Got your ass battered, but...

You're so Boehn
You probably think this cliff is about you
You're so Boehn (teardrops rain!)
I'll bet you think this cliff is about you
Don't you? Don't you?

Well, I hear you went up to Grover Norquist
Who naturally showed no class
Then you turned your back on the Teabag crowd
While they handed you back your ass
Well, they make you bend low all the time
And when they don't, then it's...
Some Koch Brother goon
Or the Chamber of Commerce
Chamber of Commerce, and...

You're so Boehn
You probably think this cliff is about you
You're so Boehn (you're so Boehn)
I'll bet you think this cliff is about you
Don't you? Don't you?

You're so mean, Bucky

Sir Patrick Stewart with Justin Bieber's hair

This post is how I end my 2012 on DU.

Love makes a family

Pictures from Adolf Hitler's worst Christmas ever

December 1941

Der Fuhrer seems pretty damn glum for a guy celebrating the birth of the Christ Child. This was the Yuletide right after his big blitz into Russia got bogged down fighting "General Winter," despite his own advisors' assurances it'd all be over by Hanukkah. And on top of that, his distant allies in Japan had just gone and done something silly in Hawaii that he was certain would be nothing but trouble in the long run. So, it's no fun for the holidays for Adolf Hitler here. But at least he can look forward to Santa helping him with his coal shortage problems (one stocking at a time!).

You can have my Sabrejet when you pry it out of my cold dead hands.

If the Founding Fathers were around in the 1950s, I'm sure they would've included jet fighters in the Second Amendment. When the black helicoptors come for me, it's my Constitutional right to fight for my freedom, not to just go hiding out in some cornfield hoping they'll fly by and not use their infrareds or the GPS on that goddamn chip their Gray allies put in my head--I don't care what the fuck my dad or the judge or Dr. Lowenfeld says, that shit really happened and I just fucking know the government was involved. You know what the first thing Communists do when Communism takes over a country? They start rounding up the airplanes. A well-winged citizenry is the best defense against totalitarianism, be it Red, Gray, or the so-called mental health professionals who cover up for their so-called experiments. Weather balloons my ass. Hell's bells, weather balloons don't probe you, I mean, not there anyway. If I could just get my sabrejet off the ground, those silver floating nazis'd be the first to go. God bless America!

Star Trek? No, try Freedom Trek! fightin' for freedom!

(NB: Dorn owns and flies a sabrejet, not a prop plane. I mean, c'mon, he's a Klingon for crying out loud!)

<== These fuckers are watching you!


As I get older, I find myself becoming more conservative.

Props to this thread ==> http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1002&pid=1953862

I'm 49. I may act like a kid most times, but there's no denying that I'm officially middle aged now. I have high blood pressure and a receding hairline. And even if I don't shout at them about it, I don't like it when those damned kids are on my lawn.

That's a metaphor, of course. My "those damned kids" I mean Fox News and their Republican muppets. By "my lawn" I mean Medicare and Social Security. By "high blood pressure" I mean "hypertension"--which somehow sounds worse.

But I really am becoming more conservative as I age along. Besides Medicare and Social Security, I also want to conserve the environment, the middle class, and the Bill of Rights. I want to conserve the economic wellspring of I want to conserve the national parks from greedy developers (or "despoilers" as we conservatives call them) who will liberally scatter their pollutants about the ecosystem. In fact, they are "radicals"--literally, as they rip up the ground up by the roots, looking for mineral deposits that should belong to all the people, not just a few hoity toity eastern liberal elites who went to Ivy League schools and now control soulless, and thus unChristian, corporations.

As a conservative, I steep myself in traditional American values and constantly worry that we are losing touch with the things that made America great. I stand up for great conservative institutions that built and empowered America's greatestness: labor unions and civil rights movements and the sanctity of marriage. As a conservative, I wish to see these institutions spread to include all Americans. When we bring all Americans into the mainstream, the waters swell and the lifting tide raises all boats.

I am aging aggressively now and becoming starkly pro-business. When megacorporations drive mom-and-pop shops out of business, I know it weakens America. I support whatever will build new businesses--like extensive investment in the country's physical commercial infrastructure: repair more roads, build more bridges, expand internet connectivity, clean up the cities, shift to renewable, sustainable energy sources, and stamp out poverty. These are the things that built America, from the Erie Canal to the Transcontinental Railroad to the telegraph networks to the interstate highway system. When America builds infrastructure, business flourishes. Do that more, I say.

I stand firmly in favor of the American Work Ethic: hard, honest work is not only pro-family, it is also the best way to instill character-buiding family values in future generations of America. So I support spending more money on education, more money on job training, so that employers can be attracted to a superior American workforce, and more money on OSHA inspections on these new American workplaces--because I want to conserve American fingers and backs and lungs along with the rest of the American things I favor conserving. People who lose their health in an unsafe work environment lose the benefits and joy that comes from an honest day's labor.

I'm particularly conservative on taxes. No more free rides, I say!! Everyone should pay their fair share of taxes. No more deadbeats--I'm looking at you, investor class, who only pay 15% income tax on your incomes because it's all catorized as capital gains. You've been getting more government than you've been paying for--for decades now! The bill is due, maybe overdue judging from the size of the annual deficit. Time to pay the bill and tote your own load, you country club slackers! You tell me being an investment capitalist is a real job? Well, time to pay a real grown-up's tax rate then--or don't you believe in America, capitalism, and honest work? And you other tax slackers, yes, I'm looking at you corporations who pay no taxes at all! Get off the government welfare, Walmart, and quit sucking on Uncle Sam's teat! No more free loaders!!

I am a religious conservative too! I believe in churchin'. I think it's vital for kids to grow up in an enviroment rooted in values and a clear sense of right and wrong. No society in history has been so arrogant and neglectful as to put that burden solely on parents. We need a growth of churches, a swelling of churches, a veritable mushrooming of spirituality in this country. And obviously the more religions the better. Let all stand as equals, for they are created equal (and what is more American than that idea?). Let there be Christian churches and Jewish synagogues and Muslim mosques and Pagan covens and Buddhist temples and Flying Spaggheti bowls and atheist what-ever-ya-wanna-call-ums because enduring family values, by criminey, take a whole village to build and sustain.

And keep 'em all the fuck out of politics.

I am a stallwart economic conservative, an Adam Smith conservative, by damn! Adam Smith's radical insight in the 18th century was the understanding that the source of a nation's wealth is not land, but labor. Else, why would small nations like England and France come to dominate large ones like China and Russia? It is work that makes a nation great, and thus it is work that we must protect. That means bolstering American jobs, expanding American jobs, and when necessary protecting American jobs. Oh, I believe in open and vigorous trade too; I'm no isolationist. But above all else, it is the number of people working profitable, upwardly mobile jobs that will tell us how prosperous America is.

I believe in family values because I believe in the value of all families. It's not just cold economics that makes me feel that way. However I will point out that economic statistics tell us that married couples are better citizens--they commit fewer crimes, own more insurance, raise kids who are more likely to be college-bound, live longer, get sick less, earn more, and are more likely to be homeowners than their unmarried counterparts. So I am pro-traditional marriage and I wish see traditional marriage extended to everyone who wants to enjoy the benefits of it. Also, I'm a small government conservative, so states should quit telling private citizens who they can and can't marry.

But I am also pro-family values because I'm a sentimental conservative. I love a good wedding. They're not just good for business; they're good for the heart. I believe in the enduring family values of America. I believe in infrastructure improvements like George Washington did--I am all but mad for them! I believe in honest work and honesty pay like Abraham Lincoln did--and history shows it is the work of strong labor unions that best secures widespread prosperity to all. I am a "gung ho" American--from the Chinese phrase meaning "pull together"--working as a team we all benefit when the greatest number of us prosper. It makes no conservative sense that each of person is just in it him or herself. History rejects that model. Competition is healthy, but cooperation is vital. I believe in a healthy balance between competition and cooperation: I wish to conserve that from the hateful, organized criminals who plunder companies from Wall Street, destroying the real wealth of work in America and exchanging it for the illusory wealth of electronic capital. They are pirates and there are whole baneful boardrooms full of such criminals who ought to be put behind bars. Cause, yes, I am a law and order conservative too.

Above all else, I believe in that most enduring of American values: progress. I wish to see that conserved most of all. The history of our land, of our people (and as a conservative, I believe we are literally "one people") is a story of expanding rights and expanding inclusion to include the talents and dignity of all of us. We all contribute. We are all stakeholders and this is a land where, as Jefferson and Franklin taught, the few should not prosper at the expense of the many. I believe in values that are deeply rooted in the American dream--that if you work hard, if you play by the rules, and by jingo if you make that 1% play by the ever-lovin' rules too, then we'll all do better. If you look out for the least of us, then, you look out for all of us, because you expand who all we mean when we say "we."

This is the kind of conservative I am. And you are all free now to get off my lawn.


Goddammit, Bobby.

I wasn't even 5 when he was murdered. Even if you weren't alive yet when he died, when we lost him, you feel his absense. You may not know it or have words for it, but you feel the Bobby-shaped hole in our public square. Martin was a robbery; they took from us the voice that explained so gorgeously and etherally how we, as The People, can matter in a democracy. But Bobby's death wasn't a robbery; it was a cold, violent detour away from what could have been.

That's the phrase that will always haunt. What could have been. Even if, like all martyrs, he is changed in our hearts by the missing of him from what he was in flesh and in hustings. There is that weight in us, in what we needed him to be, perhaps what we need to be in ourselves, and the gravitation of that shadow of knowing: it won't ever be perfect.

But we miss him, in places we can't give name to sometimes, we who need to miss him, we who need to believe in someone who drew the line and let no hesitation for what is convenient or hard stop him from standing for what is right. We miss him in places that hurt for those among us who have always been forgotten and thought of as less. Bobby, for his life of pain and grit, never thought of anyone as less. We miss him for the imperfections in ourselves that need that crowd stirring "vigah" and that heart-felt, soul-deep toothy grin that beamed out bring on the fight; I know where right stands. We miss him for his arrogant challenges, like David with a slingshot, against the mighty and the corrupt.

Goddammit, Bobby. Why? Why is it you still?

I know what you'd say. Why not? Why wait for the dead? Why not do it yourselves? Roll up your sleeves. Sweep the mess where you're at.

Goddammit, Bobby. I miss you anyway.
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