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Gender: Male
Hometown: Southern California
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 14,523

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June 23, 1865: Last Confederate General in the field, Brig. Gen. Stan Watie, a Cherokee, surrenders…

On this date in 1865, Brig. Gen. Stan Watie (CSA, defunct), signed a cease-fire agreement with Union forces. He was the last Confederate General, and his troops -- the First Indian Brigade of the Army of the Trans-Mississippi -- the final force in the field for the now-defunct CSA to lay down their arms. The American Civil War was over.

There's a certain irony to the denouement, that a brigade comprised of native Americans should be the last active force fighting for the Confederate cause, but then, the War was filled with little ironies and big contradictions. And native Americans played a role in it throughout. Watie was the highest ranking native American for the South, while Ely Parker, a Seneca, held the same high rank in the Union army. Parker, however, as an attorney and civil engineer, had the distinction to serve on Gen. U.S. Grant's staff, and was picked by Grant to write the terms of surrender presented to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. That document is in Parker's handwriting.

Few Cherokee held slaves before the War. In this, they were similar to their white Confederate allies. They opposed the Union largely out of fear the Federal Government intended to carve a State out of the land they'd been forced onto by that same Government. Those fears proved valid after the War, when Oklahoma was established.

Watie's forces were both efficient and ruthless during the War. It is said they fought in more battles West of the Mississippi than any other Confederate unit. They also committed some of the war's most vicious atrocities, including the slaughter of Union troops and black civilian teamsters during a raid on a supply convoy in September, 1864.

I mention this both to mark the end of the War's sesquicentennial and to give a glimpse, for those unaware of it, at the War's complexity and the myriad individuals who fought it for so many different causes.

Let us hope, when the War's bicentennial is observed, that at least some of the passions that fed the Civil War, and continue to plague us today, will have finally, at long last, passed away.

Over the years, I've come to realize, the issue of "which candidate" is totally irrelevant to me...

By the time California votes June 7, 17 primaries will have already been held in 40 states. The decision will have been made long before the parade makes it out here.

The decision will have been made for me by the good people in the likes of places such as Iowa, Utah, South & North Carolina, Nevada, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Ohio, Puerto Rico, Florida, Missouri, Arizona, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Arkansas.

Yeah. It's just an illusion, that I have a voice in the decision. Totally worthless process so far as I'm concerned.

So really, the decision has little to do with me and my beliefs. Unless I want to give money. Which places me in the odd position of looking at Citizens United with a slightly jaundiced view -- adamantly opposed to the concept, regrettably convinced money is the sole option open for people in States relegated to the rear to have an impact.

Tell me that doesn't suck hind wind.

* * *

The Democratic Primary process bypasses those of us who must vote late in the season. Regardless the candidate, the process itself is stacked against us here in the "Golden State."

Instead of the present, flawed process, where people in Iowa of all places have a disproportionate influence on who leaves the race early and who's seen as a "frontrunner," I favor dividing the nation into 6 electoral districts instead and the choice of which district should vote first would rotate among them, so every 24 years each of us would have an opportunity to vote first in the Presidential primary.

All states in an electoral district would have their primaries on the same day. This way, campaigns would focus on a select geographic region -- costs would be lower, there wouldn't be as much travel required, and the media buys would be more focused as well, since neighboring states would be addressed at the same time.

There'd be the added benefit that citizens of each district could expect (indeed, demand) that politicians address the regional issues of their concern as well as the national issues, thereby denying the candidates the opportunity to hide behind national platitudes instead of answering specific questions important to a select electorate.

If the primaries were held every 3 weeks, the primary season could be over in some 3 to 4 months, which might help focus every voter's attention earlier in the process.

But it'll probably never happen. Too many vested interests with too much at stake in the present, crippled system.
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