History 1378 Syllabus

Fall 2016

History 1378

Prof. Buzzanco

Office Hours: By Appointment



 Required Books


America Since the Civil War package, which includes 3 books:

 American Power, American People

Nunn-McGinty Reader Series, As They Said It

Nunn-McGinty Reader Series, American Society Since 1900


You can purchase the card with the codes at the bookstore or at this site,





Your grade in this course will be based on your scores on three exams [which may include essays and  IDs], two during the semester, at dates announced in class and on Blackboard ,worth 100 points each, and a final exam, worth 150 points.   Practice questions will be given out before the tests and review sessions with TAs will be scheduled.

Makeup Policy–read carefully.  We do not want to get flooded with requests for makeups.  Do everything in your power to be here on test dates.  If you miss an exam due to verifiable emergency conditions, with proper documentation, there will be makeup tests given on a case-by-case basis, at the discretion of the professor/TAs. On the day of your scheduled make-up, you will be required to make up all missing tests.  The only excuses for missing that day will also be medical or other emergencies [not travel plans], for which you must provide written documentation. If you miss the makeup test, you will receive zeroes for those tests.  Additionally, it is your responsibility to notify your TA that you have missed an exam and to schedule a make-up as soom as possible.


Make sure you attend class regularly and keep up with the assigned readings. If at any time you are unsure of the material we are covering, please ask the T.A. or me.

For information on Incompletes or other UH policies and requirements, consult the UH Student Handbook.


Questioning a grade: If you have questions or other issues with the grade you received on a test, this is the procedure to follow. 


First, the TAs will not discuss your tests right after we turn them back to you (other than to correct a math error in the grading).  Please look at your exam and wait a day before contacting your TA.  Make an appointment with him/her and come to that meeting with specific questions and concerns and be prepared to specifically explain why you deserved a higher grade (do not simply say “I studied and thought I should have done better”).  If the TA and you do not reach an agreement, the TA will re-grade the entire test and the score be increased, decreased, or stay the same.


If at that point you still are not satisfied, make an appointment with me and bring  your specific concerns and questions and I will go over the exam and, as above, possibly re-grade it and give a new score accordingly.  At all times be respectful and courteous toward the TAs , and the same is expected of their interactions with you. At the end of the semester, please do not send me an email asking for your grade to be raised because you need extra points to maintain your GPA or to graduate or for other such reasons.  Again, any questioning of your grade must include specific questions or comments regarding the specific questions on the test.


Classroom decorum: Please put away your cell phones and any other devices besides a laptop.  Be courteous and quiet.




Topics and Reading Assignments


(American Power, American People is APAP;

As They Said It is ATSI;

American Society Since 1900 is AS 1900)


Week 1


Background: Reconstruction, Capitalism, Labor Wars, Empire


APAP, chapter 1

ATSI, chapter 1


Week 2

Imperialism, Markets, the Great War


APAP, chapter 2

ATSI, chapter 2

AS 1900, chapter 1



Week 3


The Aftermath of War Abroad and at Home


AS 1900, chapter 2

ATSI, chapter 3


Week 4


The 1920s


APAP, chapter 3



Week 5


FDR and the New Deal


APAP, chapter 4


Week 6


The Onset of War


APAP, chapter 5

AS 1900, chapter 3


Week 7


War, the Bomb, and Cold Wr


APAP, chapter 6

AS 1900, chapter 4


Week 8


The War at Home: Domestic Containment (Conformity and Counterculture)


APAP, chapter 7

ATSI, chapter 4







Week 9


Taking the Third World, Origins of Vietnam


ATSI, chapter 5

Vietnam and the Transformation of American Life,



Week 10


The Modern Civil Rights Era


APAP, chapter 8

ATSI, chapter 7

AS 1900, chapter 5


Week 11


Questioning Authority: The 1960s


ATSI, chapter 6

AS 1900, chapter 6


Week 12


Backlash and the Rise of the Conservatives


APAP, chapter 10

AS 1900, chapter 7


Week 13


Globalization and Militarism from Reagan to Clinton


AS 1900, chapter 8


Week 14


Economic Crash and Background to 9/11


Week 15


Economic Crash and Background to 9/11


APAP, chapter 11

ATSI, chapter 8

AS 1900, chapter 9


Week 15


The U.S., Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Middle East


APAP, Conclusion



Final Exam



























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History 1378 Outlines


Aftermath of the Civil War  

3 Key Issues

  1. Reconstruction
    Slavery, Freedom, and Civil Rights
    KKK, Lynchings, 
    SharecroppingThe South as Colony
  2. Western Movement and Indian Genocide
    Wounded Knee
  3. Triumph of Capitalism  (North v. South)
    Industrialization and Incorporation

Freedmen’s Bureau
Dawes Act

U.S. Coal Production
1870–20K tons/yr

Rolled Steel Production
1870–14K tons/yr

Industrial Machinery
1870–$117 millions
1910–$512 billions



Capitalist America and its Challenges

Class Formation and Work Culture  “Saint Monday”  and lyrics
Skilled and Unskilled Work
Image–Pyramid of Capitalist System
“Long-Haired Preacher”

Labor Struggles and Class Conflict
Gilded Age
“Great Uprising,” Haymarket, Homestead, Pullman

Agrarian Uprisings
From Family to Commercial Farming
Producers’ Image
The Grange
Populists (Railroads, Monopolies, Trusts)  (Platform)
Silver Solution  (editorial cartoon)

Image–1877 strike
Image–1877 strike  
Image–1877 strike
Image–Pullman strike
Image–Pullman strike
Image–Pullman strike

Image–Bryan and anti-imperialism
Image–Anti-Imperialim and Anti-Trust
Cross of Gold Speech, text
Cross of Gold Speech, audio
William Jennings Bryan
The Wizard of Oz

“Saint Monday”
Knights of Labor/cooperatives
Mark Twain
Henry Clay Frick
Eugene Victor Debs
William Jennings Bryan
“Cross of Gold”



Production, Overproduction, and Markets
Missionaries and Imperialists
The New Empire
Critics  (
“To The Person Sitting in Darkness”)   

     Frederick Jackson Turner, Josiah Strong, John Fiske, Brooks Adams, A.T. Mahan, Charles Conant
“Social Darwinism”
Queen Liliuokalani
Spanish-American War
Emilio Aguinaldo
Mark Twain  

U.S. Cotton Production and Prices
1870–4.3 million bales           1871–18¢/lb
1882–6.9 m                             1880–10¢/lb
1891–9.0 m                             1891–7¢/lb

1873–368 m bushels/40 m exported       1866–$1.52/bu
1882–555 m bushels/150 m exported     1878–77¢

Image–Cartoon of imperialism
Image–Killed Filipino Soldiers
Image–Atrocities in Philippines
Image–Spanish fleet at Manila Bay

The Response to Industrialization and the Call for Reform
Social Justice and Muckraking
Social Equality: Ideas and Laws
Women’s Suffrage
The “Other” Progressives
 “Corporate Liberalism”
Conservative Reform and “cooperation”
 Banking, Insurance, and Meat Packing
Image–Tenement House c. 1900
Child Labor Images
Image–Child Labor
Image–Child Labor
Image–Child Labor 
Image–Child Labor protest 
Image–Triangle Shirtwaist Fire   (Website on Triangle Fire)
Woody Guthrie’s “1913 Massacre”   (Lyrics)
“Bread and Roses”   (Lyrics)
Woody Guthrie’s “Jesus Christ”   (Lyrics)

Lincoln Steffens
Ida Tarbell
Upton Sinclair, The Jungle 
Pure Food and Drug Act/Meat Inspection Act
Social Gospel
Alice Paul/Carrie Chapman Catt
Margaret Sanger
Pragmatism, “Brandeis Brief”

European Background (Map c. 1900)
     Lenin’s Critique of Capitalism  (Lenin image)
The Race for Empire
     Britain, France, Germany
Entangling Alliances
Balkans Powderkeg  (map)
U.S. Response
Wilson’s so-called Neutrality  (Wilson Image)
Financial Support
International Law–submarines (Image)  

Imperialism, theHighest Stage of Capitalism
entente cordiale
Open Door
Robert Lansing
Colonel Edward House
William Jennings Bryan
The Lusitania (Image)
House-Grey Memorandum
The Sussex 
“Making the World Safe for Democracy”

U.S. Exports
 To Allies                            To Germany
1914        $754m                     $345m
1915        $1.28b                     $29m
1916        $2.75b                     $2m


Preparations and the American Contribution
“Democracy” at Home

Wartime Propaganda Images

Trench Warfare (Image)  (Image)  (Image)
Armistice/11 November 1918
Espionage Act
W.E.B. DuBois
Camp Logan Riots, Houston  (Image)
Lynching  (Image)  

The Continuing Crisis in Europe: The Versailles Conference  (Image)
     Bolshevism (Image)
     Germany: Reparations or Reintegration-Setting the Stage for
                                                                            World War II
 The Fight for the League of Nations, Abroad and at Home

Questions and Lamentations
Containing Labor

All Quiet on the Western Front
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Palmer Raids



The New Corporate State
Herbert Hoover and Trade Associations
Consumer Culture /Loans and Advertising  [Image]   [Image]  [Image]  [Image]  [Image]  [Image]  [Image–contemporary]   
Buying Fun and Economic Growth


Images of the Depression:
And More 
And Many, Many More
Causes:  Surplus Capital, Foreign Economic Crises, Stock Market,
Lack of Economic Diversity, Poverty, Credit Crunch

Hoover’s Responses
:  Balanced Budget, Tariffs, Government Spending
Dawes Plan

The International Debt Triangle:

Germany pays reparations to France, England
France, England pay off Loans to U.S.
U.S. sends aid, such as Dawes Plan, to Germany

Trade drops, from $3b in 1929, to $900m in 1933 and currencies are devalued 
US Share of Global Trade
Shrinking Global Trade

[FDR]  [FDR]   Roosevelt and the Politics of Illusion and Hope
The 3 Rs (Relief, Recovery, Reform)
First New Deal: Conservative, pro-Business Reform
    NIRA (NRA) , AAA [Image], SEC  [Image] 
    List of New Deal Programs
Second New Deal: “Thunder on the Left”
 —Woody Guthrie  [Video]     [Image]   [Image]  Will Rogers  [Image] 
    FDR’s Critics: Sinclair [Image] , Townshend, Lewis, Long  [Video]     [Image]  [Image]  
    Social Security, WPA (Works Progress Administration) [Image],   Video       Wagner Act
Recovery in ’37?  The Curse of the Balanced Budget
Military Keynesianism to the Rescue!
“Bank Holiday”
National Planning
“Grapes of Wrath”
PWA  (Public Works Administration)
CCC  [Image]  
“Share Our Wealth”
 Flint  (Article and Audio) 
John Maynard Keynes

Europe (Map of German Expansion)
    Mussolini and Hitler
    British and French [Non]-response
        Rhineland Reoccupation–1936    (Map)
        Spanish Civil War (Poster)   (Spanish anti-fascist posters)
        Anschluss, 1938   (Image)
        Munich, 1938  (Image)
        Sudetenland/Czechoslovakia–1938   (Map)
        Poland, 1 September 1939   (Map)
    America, Tokyo and the “Greater East-Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere” (Map) 
        The Invasion of China

The U.S.
    Undeclared War (article)   (Woody Guthrie–“The Sinking of the Reuben James”)
    Conflict in the Pacific
    “The Arsenal of Democracy”

Neville Chamberlain
Mukden Incident
Pearl Harbor
Neutrality Acts
“Phony War”
The Battle of Britain 
“Cash and Carry”

Destroyers for Bases
(War in Europe maps) 

Soviet Invasion  (Map)
The Grand Alliance: Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin
The Politics of War: The Second Front
D-Day and Victory: Seeds of Cold War (Allied Offensives)
The Pacific War (Map)
The BOMB!  Why?


Nazi-Soviet Pact

Manhattan Project
Atomic Diplomacy:
    Feb. 1945: Soviet agrees to war v. Japan
    Spring 1945: U.S. planners expect Japanese surrender
    Spring/Summer 1945: Japanese overtures to Soviet; American
        planning for invasion (1 November 45, 1 January 46), casualty estimates 25-50K
    VE Day: Soviet to enter war in Asia on 8 August
    July 1945: Stalling Potsdam
    16 July: Potsdam Conference and Almogordo (Truman before the conference)   (Truman’s shift in demeanor)
    6 August: Hiroshima (bombing image)  (city image)   (casualty image) 
    9 August: Nagasaki

The Alperovitz Debate
Critics of the Bomb


Wartime Factors
        Second Front
        Italian Surrender

    Reconstructing Postwar Europe
        Yalta and the Question of Eastern Europe
            Poland   (map)
            Germany   (4 Zones and Reparations (map))

   American and Soviet Designs : Churchill, Stalin, and Truman
Open Door, Empire, Defense


Strategies for Hegemony: Economic and Political

Bretton Woods
IMF [Currency Stabilization]
World Bank [“reconstruction and development”]
The dollar and convertibility

United Nations
Security Council and Veto
Inclusion and Power


    Containment: Economic, Military and Political  [Kennan]
        Bretton Woods, Loans and the Marshall Plan
        The “Iron Curtain”
        The Truman Doctrine
        Berlin Blockade
    Cold War/Hot War in the “Third World”

        Chinese Civil War: Mao Zedong [CCP] vs. Jiang Jieshi [Guomindang]
        The “China Lobby”

        The Cold War Turns Hot:  Korea  (map) 
        NSC-68 and Military Keynesianism

    “Ducks” Everywhere
        Iran, 1953: The Fall of Mossadegh   (map)
        Guatemala, 1954: Ousting Arbenz    (Map)  
        Cuba, 1959-present: Contesting Castro 
        Chile, 1973: The Allende “Threat”

   1945-Present: The Spectres of Nationalism and Neutralism
        Indonesia, Egypt, India  [SukarnoNasserNehru]

Containment–at Home

Red Scare, Again

   “Who Lost China?”
   The Rosenbergs
    “God Bless America”

 African Americans/Civil Rights
  RobesonDuBois, Haywood, King


      Back to the Kitchen (home-ec-text-1950s)
      Baby Booming
     June and Ward


      TV/Education/Comics, etc.

Roy Cohn
“Lavender Scare”

Joseph Welch [“Sir, have you no sense of decency”] 
“Hollywood Ten”
American Life in the 1950s

    Consumption and Culture
        Economic Growth [Military-Industrial Complex
        Organization Men in Gray Flannel Suits
        Education and Conformity
        “Little Boxes”       

    The “Other” ’50s
        “Birth of the Cool”   [Miles]   [Thelonious Monk]      [Charlie “Bird” Parker]
[“In the Mood”]    [“A Night in Tunisia”]    [“So What”] 
        Hep Cats, Jazz, and Dope
        The Beat Life  [Ginsberg]  [Kerouac]  [Burroughs]
        Rebels without Causes and JDs
        America   (lyrics) 
        Mad Magazine    [Alfred E. Newman]   [Bill Gaines]   [Alfred E. Newman] 
        Playboy [Hugh Hefner]

VIET NAM    [Map]   


Why Viet Nam?
 Cold War Context
 Economics [rebuilding Asia]

The War
 Attrition War
 Divisions over Strategy
 Air War

Why the U.S. Lost?
 Guerrilla Warfare
 Politics in Viet Nam
 The U.S. Context
    French Indochina
    Ho Chi Minh
    Viet Minh
    Domino Theory
    Viet Cong
    Ngo Dinh Diem
The Modern Civil Rights Era

    World War II and the Northern Migration
    The Legal Challenge to Apartheid
         Brown v. Board
    Montgomery and the Emergence of
            Martin Luther King
    “I Have  a Dream”
    Legislative Triumph: Civil and Voting Rights Acts

 Liberal Backlash, post 1965
    Northern Rage: Malcolm X
    Black Power/Black Panthers
    Poor People’s Campaign
    The Assassination of King
    Rosa Parks, 12/55
    Emmit Till
    Little Rock, AK
    Sit-Ins [SNCC]
    Freedom Rides
    Freedom Summer
    Birmingham Boycott–“Bull” Connor
    States’ Rights

The 1960s: Questioning Authority and Commodifying an Era



    The New Left and Antiwar Movement
            “participatory democracy”

    Countercultures: Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll

    “La Raza Unida”–The Chicano Movement

    Women’s Liberation
    C. Wright Mills
    SDS [Students for a Democratic Society]
    Port Huron Statement
    Hippies [image]
    Haight-Asbury    [Jerry Garcia]         [The Airplane]  
    The Pill
    LSD–Timothy Leary [“tune in, turn on, drop out”]
    “Summer of Love”  
    Woodstock  [Jimi]  [Janis]
    Bob Dylan
    The Beatles
    Cesar Chavez–UFW
    Reyes Tijerina [New Mexico]
    Brown Berets
    Betty Friedan–The Feminine Mystique
    Miss America 1968–“freedom trash can”
60s Backlash and The Age of Nixon

Foreign Policy
      “Vietnamization” and Kent State 
      Ending the War
      Arms Sales

 At Home
     “Law and Order ?
      Evil Liberals
      Oil Crisis
      Welfare and Environment

 The Legacy
    The Imperial President
    The Last Liberal?

Race and Culture
    Punk and Hip Hop

The 1980s–the Backlash Continues
    October Surprise?

    Killing Hope
        The New Cold War
        “Star Wars” [SDI] and Military Keynesianism
        Slaughters in Central America

A “New” Cold War

    Aftermath of Detente
Committee on the Present Danger and “Team B”

Brzezinski in Charge/Carter’s Cold  War–Afghanistan and the Olympics

Reagan, Military Keynesianism and the “Evil Empire”

The Gorbachev Alternative

Reverse Robin Hood Economics
      The Poor Get Poorer [chart on page 305]
Reagan’s Economic Policies
        Cutting the Safety Net
        Clarence Thomas
        Rodney King and the L.A. Uprising of ’92

End (?) of the Cold War
The Bloc Crumbles
Looking for Enemies
Rogue States and Nuclear Outlaws
Saddam to the Rescue

    “The Evil Empire”
    Nuclear Freeze Movement
          (Three Mile Island/China Syndrome)
Liberation Theology and the Pope
   El Salvador–FMLN vs. the Death Squads /the Murder of Romero
    Guatemala–the Horror Continues
    Nicaragua–Sandinistas vs. the Contras
    Contra-Cocaine connection
    Domestic surveillance–the CISPES case
    Anita Hill

I’d like to make an appeal in a special way to the men in the army. Brothers, each one of you is one of us. We are the same People.  The farmers and peasants that you kill are your own brothers and sisters.  When you hear the words of a man telling you to kill, think instead in the words of God, “Thou shalt not kill!” No soldier is obliged to obey an order contrary to the Law of God. In His name and in the name of our tormented people who have suffered so much, and whose laments cry out to heaven: I implore you! I beg you! I ORDER you!! STOP THE REPRESSION!!!

 Integration and Hegemony
Bretton Woods–IMF and World Bank

TNCs and Transnational Institutions

Who makes the call?
Investor-to-State rights/Chapter 11
Mississippi Funeral Parlors

Work and Wages
Job Losses   (Chart)

‘Till Debt Do Us Part

Budget Deficits    (2)   (3)
Budget Deficits Projections
Contributions to Deficit
Public and Private Bond Market Debt

Globalization and its Discontents
“The Battle of Seattle”
“Call It Democracy”   (Lyrics)


The Road to 9/11, and Iraq: The US and the Middle East   [map]

Background: Oil and Nationalism
Israel and Palestine
Iran, Egypt, Iraq

6 Day War and Yom Kippur/Ramadan War
US support of Israel

Islamic Revolution, and the Iran-Iraq War

AfghanistanMujahadeen, and “Blowback”

Terrorism in the 90s

9/11 and the Bush drive to war
Lies and Deceptions


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Oligarchs Want Cruz Control

“Cruz gains steam with 2 wins on ‘Super Saturday’” 

(Washington Post Headline, 6 March 2016)

e9e2161f-0611-4086-868b-9ab050380818Donald Trump has really rattled the ruling class. Cruz won a few more delegates, but yesterday’s results were consistent with previous GOP primaries yet the media and frightened Republican politicos are all out there pimping Ted Cruz now (the Grey Lady also has the “Cruz has momentum” narrative).  Indeed, Cruz’s campaign hasn’t approached the success of Bernie Sanders on the other side, but the same media elite have declared him DOA and anointed Hillary already.

Here’s what’s important, I think: It’s not that Trump is different from past oligarchic leaders (esp. in the GOP) but in fact  he’s troublesome because he’s so open, crude, and vulgar about the way they think. Trump’s not saying anything new really, he’s just doing what he does in plain view.  He avoids the bullshit rhetoric about liberty and humanitarianism and all that “hopey, changey” stuff and cuts to the bone.  Trump doesn’t represent the “beginning” of something new and ugly, and he’s not the “product” of Fox News; he’s an American politician who’s lost his inside voice.  Homer Simpson often says “think it, don’t say it,” before he says it.  Trump doesn’t even have that level of control over his thoughts–he just blurts out what the ruling class would otherwise only say behind the  doors of the Bohemian Grove, at Davos, in the hallowed halls of Ivy League schools.

Think about it–Dick Cheney was Veep for 8 years and Trump is the most dangerous guy around? Reagan opened his campaign in Philadelphia, MS and gave us an obese black “Welfare Queen” to scapegoat. Nixon adopted an openly racist “Southern Strategy.” Bill Clinton killed a retarded Black guy to boost his numbers in the New Hampshire primary and, with the support of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, passed one of the most draconian crime bills in modern history.

Trump has unwittingly provided Americans with an important education.  He’s laid bare the facade of American “democracy.”  He’s given first-hand evidence of the way the ruling class thinks and acts, and also given us insight into how many other Americans think that way.    Ben Hooks once said something along the lines that he was more afraid of a liberal in a Brooks Brothers suit than a southern man in a white hood.  Trump’s a two-fer, the dressed up guy who lets you into the after-party to see how vile the 1 Percent really is, and also the angry man appealing to desperate white men who have lost hope and blame Blacks, Muslims, women and other groups for it instead of the capitalist bosses who run society.

And Cruz, who seems to be the the oligarch’s choice to play General Custer, is in fact worse than The Donald. A genuinely scary man who perhaps believe all the ghastly stuff he says. Trump’s merely the magician who lets the audience in on his act to see how he does his tricks. Choosing between Trump, Cruz, Clinton, etc. is like deciding whether you want a lethal injection, guillotine, or electric chair.

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Presidential Penises–the Johnson Precedent

lbjPretty much everyone’s become engorged with rage over Donald Trump’s not-so-cryptic reference to his penis size in the GOP Prez Debate a few days ago.  But when it comes to presidential johnsons, he’s not in the same league as President Johnson, as in Lyndon Baines.  He reportedly referred to his penis as “Mr. Baldy” and often talked about it in the 3d-Person, as if it were a separate identity. You didn’t needa presidential pole, er poll, to know how he felt about it.

He made reference to it often.  During a meeting on Vietnam, as the various military and diplomatic officials reported on the problems U.S. troops faced there and the popularity of the Communist leader Ho Chi Minh, he reportedly unzipped his pants, pulled out his penis and said “Does Ho Chi Minh have this?”  At another point, sensing that the war was improving, he boasted that he had Ho’s “pecker in my pocket.”  He wanted a new shower put in the White House with a nozzle aimed directly at Johnson’s Johnson.

Perhaps most famously, he discussed the need for extra size in his pants to accomodate Mr. Baldy in a phone discussion with the head of Haggar Slacks.  (Transcript below, with highlights in bold) until the conversation petered out.  So for those of you perturbed by Trump’s protuberance, he’s no more jacked up about his junk than LBJ was.

Operator: Go Ahead Sir.

LBJ: Mr. Haggar?

Joe Haggar: Yes this is Joe Haggar.

LBJ: Joe, is your father the one that makes clothes?

JH: Yes, we’re all together.

LBJ: Uh huh. You all made me some real lightweight slacks…that he just made up and sent up on his own and sent it to me 3 or 4 months ago. There’s a light brown and a light green, a rather soft green, a soft brown.

JH: Yes Sir.

LBJ: And they’re real lightweight now and I need about six pairs of summer wear.

JH: Yes sir.

LBJ: I want a couple, maybe three of the light brown, kind of almost powder color like a powder on a ladies face. Then there were some green and some light pair. If you had a blue in that or a black then I’d have one blue and one black. I need about six pairs to wear around in the evening when I come in from work.

JH: Yes Sir.

LBJ: I need…they’re about a half a inch too tight in the waist.

JH: Do you recall the exact size, I just want to make sure we get them right for you.

LBJ: No, I don’t know…you all just guessed at ’em I think, some, wouldn’t you (have) the measurement there?

JH: We can find it for you.

LBJ: Well I can send you a pair. I want them a half inch larger in the waist than they were before except I want two or three inches of stuff left back in there so I can take them up. I vary ten or 15 pounds a month.

JH: Alright sir.

LBJ: So leave me at least 2 1/2, three inches in the back where I can take them out or bring them up. And make these a half an inch bigger in the waist. And make the pockets at least an inch longer, my money, my knife, everything falls out…wait just a minute.

Operator: Would you hold on a minute please.

(The conversation is on hold for two minutes)

LBJ: Now the pockets, when you sit down, everything falls out, your money, your knife, everything. so I need at least another inch in the pockets. And another thing…the crotch, down where your nuts hang, is always a little too tight, so when you make them up, please give me another inch I can let out there, uh, because they cut me. It’s just like riding a wire fence. These are almost, these are the best I’ve had anywhere in the United States.

JH: Fine.

LBJ: But when I gain a little weight, they cut me under there. So, leave me, you never do have much margin there. See if you can’t leave me an inch from where the zipper (BURPS) ends, round, under my back to bunghole, so I can let it out there if I need it.

JH: Right.

LBJ: Now be sure you have the best zippers in them. These are good that I have. If you get those to me I sure would be grateful.

JH: Fine. Now where would you like them sent please.

LBJ: White House.


JH: We’ll supply the material to match it.

LBJ: “OK, I’ll do that. Uh now, how do I–can you give this boy the address because I’m running to a funeral and give this boy the address to where we can send the trousers…don’t worry, you’ll get the measurements out of them and add a half an inch to the back and give us couple of an inch to the pockets and a inch underneath too we can let out.

JH: What you’d like is a little more stride in the crotch.

LBJ: Yeah that’s right. What I’d is to give me a half inch more, then leave me some more. OK here he is.

JH: Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed the others.


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Batshitville, A.K.A. Texas

I haven’t gotten apoplectic over Donald Trump, like so many of my associates on the Left.bruner  It terrified me that he’s unleashed the Brown Shirts at his rallies, and I don’t know that they’ll be contained, but Trump himself is no threat.  He’s actually anti-interventionist in some areas, is pro-choice, and, despite all his bluster, he’s not gonna build a wall.  But the biggest reason I’m somewhat nonplussed about The Donald is that I live in a state with the most extreme, insane, and frightening politics of them all–Texas.

Since I’ve been here (1995) the most moderate and reasonable statewide office holder has been, hold your hats, George W. Bush.  The state GOP considered Kay Bailey Hutchinson and Rick Perry too liberal.  A SuperPAC ran ads in the past couple weeks accusing Trump of being too liberal.  You can’t smoke on campuses, but you can carry a gun into class.  Some folks have even resurrected a German word for Ted Cruz, Texas senator and prez candidate– Backpfeifengesicht, meaning “a face in good need of a punch.”

But when it comes to batshit crazy, the State Board of Education probably takes the cake.  The Board exist in a different world and time–like the 18th Century.  It’s mandated that Texas textbooks refer to the “Atlantic Triangular Trade” instead of slavery, that Moses be presented as a founding father, that the bible be discussed as a foundational political document. Just last year, Guv Greg Abbott appointed Donna Bahorich to chair the State Board of Ed.  She’s from Houston, a devout Republican who believes in vouchers and the aforementioned textbook editing, and she home-schooled three sons and then sent them to private school.  She has zero experience with the Texas public ed system.

Ah, but Ms. Bahorich is virtually enlightened compared to Mary Lou Bruner, who won the GOP primary for the Board of Ed last night and is guaranteed victory in the general election. Ms. Bruner rocketed to fame with her astute observations about American political life, which resonated with all her fellow-travelers on the right deep in the heart of Batshitville, aka Texas.  Barack Obama supported gay rights, she’s explained, “because of the years spent as a male prostitute in his twenties.”  The recent spate of school shootings began when public schools started teaching evolution.  Books on sex ed which teachers are reading to litte kids have been banned from prisons but are allowed in schools and they “stimulate children to experiment with sex.”  And it goes on and on . . . Continue reading

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How Would Jesus Vote?

jesushippieLiberals love to sound the alarums about the “religious right” and its influence over the Republican Party.  For a few decades now, since the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, Democrats and liberals have used evangelical Xians and other conservative churches as a bogey man to frighten their constituencies into donating money to their campaigns and getting out the vote.  If you don’t stop Jerry Falwell/Pat Robertson/etc. the country will turn into a right-wing theocracy.

To be clear, the GOP definitely used the religious right as an important tool to win elections.  It raised fears about abortion, equal rights for women, and gay rights/gay marriage to mobilize fundamentalist voters on “moral” issues.  And to be just as clear, it worked, and helped Reagan and George W. Bush in particular get elected, as well as to pass referenda on issues like gay rights.   More importantly, religion has proven a critical weapon for Supreme Court justices like the undearly-departed Nino Scalia, Clarence “Where’d Nino Go?” Thomas, and Joseph “I’m Too Uptight To Be Italian” Alito.  Even in 2016, in certain circumstances, like Ted Cruz’s evangelical-directed campaign in Iowa, religious fanatics can show their muscle.

However, the religious right has always been like the Wizard behind the curtain as well–a seemingly omnipotent and frightening visage with preternatural powers to destroy liberty and freedom.  But since the 2d Bush election, the power of fundamentalists to win elections has been exposed, and even its ability to undermine women’s right and gay rights has slipped as “business Republicans” have realized that women and Gays have money and buy a lot of stuff.

More to the point, Pew Research recently came out with a survey on “U.S. Political Groups and Their Political Leanings” which is a much-needed corrective to liberal hysteria about right-wing religions.  As the graphic below shows, there are indeed more religions that trend Democratic than to the GOP.  And if you look at the groups most strongly associated with each party, you see a clear Democratic advantage.  The most Republican-leaning group is the Mormons, with about 3.9 million members. Southern Baptists, probably the religious sect most closely associated with conservative issues, claims about 15 million members, of whom about 2/3 vote Republican, and with overall membership in decline. Continue reading

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Ginsberg, I’m Glad We Knew Ye . . .


It’s been a full month without Ginsberg today, and I still see him everywhere, often withDSCI0186 Kelsey, like I have since the day he rescued me. It’s like the day I took him to see ice. His water bowl is still out and the food I made him is still in the refrigerator. I walk the neighborhood and everyone misses him, misses the way he plodded down the streets walking like a baby hippo with suspicion in his eyes, giving the canine malocchio to those he distrusted. Passing by the trees he watered, the bushes he sniffed, the animals he tried to eat . . . But I’m lucky to have years of good memories of him. He was a curmudgeon, a wartime consigliere. He wasn’t a friendly puppy, well to anyone but me. He’d lunge at passing dogs and bicyclists, bark at anyone who even looked at the house, try to maul every cat he saw, and he did it to protect me—he was my Genco. He was a dog’s dog, a rat-pack dog, a Sinatra dog, my dog. He ate well—sirloin, chicken, turkey, yogurt. If dogs drank scotch, he’d favor Macallan 25. He was the chairman of the board. I had to spoil him for a million reasons. We never fought, he never lied, never betrayed, never took a shiv to anyone’s back. He offered, and expected, loyalty and comfort, and we simply gave that to each other. He lived outside the law honestly. Dogs have some kind of preternatural, instinctual intelligence that we all underestimate and probably don’t understand, and he was at the top of the pyramid, “A-Number One.”

And the world isn’t the same without him. When he left this life, everything changed. As he took his last breath, birds stopped in mid-air, simply hanging there without motion. Ants decolonized in honor of his struggles for liberation. Leaves began falling off trees with vertiginous speed, only to halt and turn back to the limbs they had just left. The sun and moon got confused and caused a global flickering effect, offering the greatest fireworks show ever. A Chicago alderman told the truth. A Sicilian released a grudge. Essence briefly preceded existence, and being and nothingness were as one, as they should be. People realized the bible was dyslexic and they shouldn’t have worshiped God all these eons. Drones turned into butterflies. Televisions turned off spontaneously and books opened themselves. Position and momentum could be equally discerned. Working people of all countries united. Paul Robeson saw Joe Hill. Frogs sang gloriously. The elderly got younger as they walked backwards. Schrodinger did Est and found himself.  Free Bubble-Up and Rainbow Stew were plentiful. Dogs offered a 21-Bark salute in honor of their alpha comrade. Cats took a moment of silence, in the most stirring display of gallantry and sportsmanship since Mountbatten gave India back to the Punjabs, to honor such a formidable rival whose dominance was never questioned, and to breathe a sigh of relief that they could go back to their duplicitous ways without him to keep the peace among the families.

And then, once his energy broke apart in a Vesuvial eruption and he became part of the cosmic stuff that creates all of us, bouncing with Kelsey’s and Langston’s atoms, things returned to what they had been, but they would never be the same.

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