Gone With the Wind

Well, I’m back sooner than I thought.  I just finished reading the book Gone With The Wind last night, a book I hadn’t read in probably 60 years.

Obviously, like everyone else of my generation, I have seen the movie at least once a year ever since I first knew enough to know to watch it.  It is a good movie, of course, but I had a slight memory of Scarlett having other children than just Bonnie Blue Butler.  So I got the library to reserve a copy for me to read.  I got it a little over a week ago, and got so engrossed in it that I managed to read all 959 pages of it in five days and nights (not steadily, but in bits and pieces of time).

It is a magnificent book, but I had no memory of all the politics in it.  I knew there were a lot of people in the South who never got over losing the Civil War, but I did not realize how very much it had been passed down through the years.  Margaret Mitchell wrote the book in 1936, it was copyrighted in 1938, and the movie came out in 1939.  But I am totally shocked at how true the story is today, down in the Deep South, among those Conservatives.  I understand a little more why they act the way they do today.  They still don’t seem to have gotten over losing the Civil War.

This book is, of course, about the Georgians.  The young men of that time were so gung-ho about going to war with the Union, and they were all about States’ Rights, and seceding from the Union.  The war was about the land, and about slavery.  While I hear often from people who have never really studied that period of time in US history that it was about economics, I think Margaret Mitchell got it right.  It really was about the way of life of the plantations, and slavery.  The Northern states had their own Negro populations, but they were free blacks, no slavery.  One learns a great deal about that simply by watching the movie Glory, or reading any of the many books written about that event – Lay This Laurel is one of the best.  As well, the underground railroad that existed at the time to save runaway slaves lay out the stories told by the Negroes who ran away from evil slave owners – those that did not treat their slaves well, or who sold individuals away from their own families.  They were treated like animals, with no feelings.  The Northerners did not believe life in the South was any other way.

Mitchell’s fictional families, like the O’Haras and the Wilkes’s and the families in Atlanta we meet after the war starts, were good to their slaves, and therefore, were more sympathetic to the readers.  As I, in these more modern times, do not approve of owning people, or treating people like animals, I would have been against the Civil War then.  But what if I had been born into one of those wealthy plantation owner families.  Those genteel folk were just as confused as what was happening as anyone who went from riches to rags.  But the real horrors of the aftermath of the Civil War were those Negroes who were freed, and then were turned loose to fend for themselves after the war.  Many of them chose to stay with their white owners.

The aftermath of the Civil War gave the South the Carpetbaggers and the Scalawags – the Freed Men Association who made promises to the Negroes, but who did not give them instruction on how to live free.  Far too many of those northerners made promises, but gave no jobs; told them they had right to what the plantations had, which seemed to give the ex-slaves rights to the white women and the luxuries, including burning down the mansions and stealing the land.  This is why the Ku Klux Klan came about – as a protection for the people whose land was being taken, and who women were under attack.  The organization originated in Tennessee.  Of course, over time, the KKK was proven to be a terrorist organization, and within a few years, was outlawed.  Today’s KKK is made up of men who want to return the KKK to the way it was then, without the same reasons it was originally established.

Reconstruction is what happened to the states until they took the oaths.  Tennessee was readmitted in 1866; Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, and the two Carolinas were readmitted in 1868; Texas, Virginia, and Mississippi were not readmitted until 1870.

Reconstruction disenfranchised the Southern plantation owners and the men who fought for the Confederacy; they took the label of Democrats, and were forbidden to vote in their state elections.  Those people of the North who put the Confederacy under military rule were called Republicans, and they would take the Negroes from precinct to precinct to vote in every election numerous times.  This went on for years until the states were able to have governing bodies who could come up with a majority, but this still was not possible until Loyalty Oaths were taken, and Amendments adopted.

The book covers the years from 1861 until 1873.  Scarlett went from age 16 to 28, and young women who were not married by the time they were 25 were considered spinsters.  Of course, the flower of male youth was pretty much killed off during those years.  And the genteel manners of the Old South kept most of those plantation families from changing their ways.

I found it quite educational to realize how we got from that time to modern times, and why the Old South now calls itself Republican, why they still hate the Negro, why the Civil Rights Act did not work as it should have (this is why government offices all over the South have so many black employees – the private white companies still would not hire them).  I don’t know why they keep changing what we should call them to be politically correct.  I think African American came about because the word Negro is the Spanish word for black – but while black is beautiful, I’m not sure many of them today like being called black.  Or why so many of them call one another the n-word, but get infuriated and insulted if a white person uses the same word.

All in all, re-reading this book 60 years later, under the influence of what politics is doing now, especially in the Deep South, was very enlightening, and helps me understand a little more why the Conservatives are acting the way they are now.  They just don’t accept that they lost the Civil War.

PS:  There was another book I read about the Civil War all those long years ago called Taproots which,  if I remember correctly, told the same basic story, but from a Mississippian’s point of view, but I do not remember the name of the author, and have never found the book listed under it’s name on the computer.  It probably went out of print long ago.

PPS:  One other fictional story about the Old South is the movie Raintree County.  I don’t even know if it was a book, or just a screen story.

Carol Stepp, Austin, TX


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Hey there, ya’ll

I know I haven’t written a blog for a couple of months – not much to say these days.  However, I’ve had to convert to a newer, better (?) blog page, and I plan to write a log blog on my 75th birthday, on December 4, musing about what I have seen in three-quarters of a century.

I’ll be back, ya’ll.

Carol Stepp, Austin, TX

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I’m Running for President

I watched the Republican debates last night – three hours I’ll never get back. Only one of the debaters between both shows said anything I agreed with 100%. In the midst of all the men (and woman) who were yelling “boots on the ground”, Rand Paul at least recognized that what these idiots were calling for was more and more of our young men and women being harmed, maimed, and killed. I got angrier by the second. Build up our military? How are you going to sell that? Maybe if you set up a new draft, we will have young people marching and protesting again. I cannot think of any other way to build up our military. I hope our youth are not going to run to the recruiting offices knowing what Afghanistan and then Iraq have done to so many of their generation. And how many of these debaters calling for boots on the ground are going to send their own children and grandchildren into the massacres. At least Rand Paul suggested we train the Middle Eastern folks to fight their own battles. But they probably are not interested since they know the US will step in and take care of it. They better be sure they are ready for our invading and then staying in their countries.

So I’m going to run for president. My platform will be: free health care and free education for every person who is a citizen of this country. Equal rights for each and every citizen of this country. Jobs available for work on the infrastructure for every road, bridge, and dam in the US. All foreign military bases closed and every military member brought to fight against any aggression against the United States of America. Yes, even if we have to fight on this land – perhaps if we had the damage done here that has been done in every other country we have fought in, our warmongers might learn that war is not pretty if you have to look at it. National Guard immediately kept for damage control brought by disasters. A straight-across, with no exceptions or loopholes, 15% income tax rate for providing the money for all these things. These tax rates will also be charged on the real property of all religious institutions.

No official religion for the United States, no official language for the United States. The United States was established as a nation where everyone had equal freedoms, and the Statue of Liberty which stands so tall in New York Bay will go back to its “bring us your poor and your oppressed” motto. We have room. All jobs sent to other countries will be returned to the United States, and manufacturing will be brought back to this country. Everything will be made “in America by Americans”. Wages will be living wages for every person who is capable of working. Welfare will be for those who honestly need it, with proof that a person really is not capable of working. Everyone will pull their own weight who are able. I put 47 years in the workforce, and I did it while fighting clinical depression for at least half of those years.

Federal laws will supercede any states rights, and every state will pull together as a part of the United States of America. Any state who does not want to work together for a common cause will be allowed to leave the Union, understanding they cannot be allowed back in. They will also lose all Federal monies for infrastructure and disaster.

Any hidden monies by any corporate types will be, if found, confiscated. The rich are allowed to be rich, but not off the backs of the middle class. There will be no lower class of have-nots, unless they choose to be a have-not. But the US will not step in to “give” them freebies.

Marijuana will be made legal. It will be taxed at the going sales tax rates set forward by each state, and the monies left in the state(s) for use in its own infrastructure and wage rates

It is understood that not everyone will like these rules and pledges. Why not?

Carol Stepp
Austin, TX

Please note: I did not say anything about the environment and global climate change. That is because everyone needs to adopt common sense and start doing their best to stop pollution and trashing of your environment. It may already be too late to actually save our planet. So our space exploration mavens should already be getting ready for a general exodus from the planet Terra (Earth). There does not seem to be much hope for change unless everyone stops and thinks about it NOW, and starts trying to reverse the damage already done.

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Politics and Reel Life

I watched a very thought-provoking movie last night. It is at least a year old, and probably most of you have seen it. Ironically, it seems to have been made before its time, and is now so true it is downright scary. It is called White House Down. Now, it came out the same time as Olympus Has Fallen, and I think maybe Olympus stole some of its thunder. So now is the time that whoever chose one over the other to catch the other.
Olympus Has Fallen is good – it is about a Korean man who wants to take over all of Korea, and wants the US out of Korea completely. It stars Gerard Butler and Aaron (short memory loss, I can see his face, but can’t bring the name up), and is a very exciting movie, with lots of bangs and explosions. I enjoyed it, but it is pure fiction.
On the other hand, White House Down, which stars Channing Tatum, with Jamie Foxx as the president (and a very good actress who played daughter Emily) were present and there were lots of bangs and explosions and bells and whistles. More than Olympus.
But here is the thing – it is about a black president who works through diplomatic measures to bring peace to the Middle East – and shockingly, Iran is the country most involved. The president misses getting kidnapped at the beginning, and works with Channing’s character to try to stop the takeover (the character was just turned down for the Secret Service), which is done by Americans, led by the man who was the Speaker of the House who just retired. Through a lot of events, the president is presumed unable to serve, so Posse Comitatus makes the VP president. Then our American bad guys sent a missile to shoot down the new President, which leaves the man who took over as Speaker of the House President. I’ll call him John Boehner.
After all that, we find out that this new Speaker/new President …………well, I don’t want to give it away. Just watch it.
And if you already have, watch it again.
And then I’ll play it on the big television in our community room.

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A Cock-Eyed Optimist

When the sky is a bright canary yellow, I forget every cloud I’ve ever seen….

As I lay in my bed last night, unable to go to sleep (which happens quite often these days), I had so many things rolling around in my head. And one of them was that I am just a cock-eyed optimist.

When I got all gung-ho about a march on Washington to protest another possible war, and wanting to include a lot of young people who would be affected, along with a bunch who already were affected, that came out of my brain on another sleepless night. But truth is, I am not capable of doing such a thing.

I was reading last night before trying to go to sleep, and I read an article in my AARP Magazine about scams on both men and women for money. Some of them came from Nigeria and Malaya, but it seems those who are being attacked are those who have signed up on dating sites on the Internet. Men and women are being romanced only to have their money targeted.

Well, I won’t fall for such a thing, and I am not on any dating sites. But it made me think about the blog I just wrote about a march on Washington, in which I very unthinkingly said I would need financial help. Whoa, stop, look, and listen.

Truth is, I don’t have a clue as to how to go about setting up such an event (though I’ve done some things in my life on a much smaller basis).

I do not know how to

Get permission to do a march and have a place for the meetup;
Get the needed public address system together;
Put up a stage and find chairs;
Get acquainted with the politicians I would love to be there;
Advertise/publicize such a thing to reach the largest audience.

And when I said I needed financial assistance, I was thinking about myself and how I could get there and where I would stay and what concessions should be available and how to have water for everyone, or coffee, or anything else should it be cold or hot outside.

So I saying here, if anyone who can do all these things wants to run with this, then I would be glad to help in whatever way I could from Austin, TX, and then I would have to figure out how to get myself there.

Really, I’m just an older woman with lots of missing teeth and use a walker to get around. With delusions of grandeur, I guess. Though I was not in truth looking for glory for myself – just trying to get a point across.

I hear the human race, is falling on its face, and hasn’t very far to go
But every whippoorwill is selling me a bill, and telling me it just ain’t so.

A couple of years ago I was thinking very seriously about running for U. S. Senator from Texas in an attempt to get rid of John Cornyn. But once I got into the basics of how to do this, I was advised to check with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) about what was required, and ran into the same old wall I always do – you have to have money to ask for money. Plus you have to have everything in place before you even file the paperwork to run a campaign.

So money is everything, a thing which I keep trying to disbelieve, thinking that we should all have the same rights, and the same chances, to do anything to improve the state of the States. I don’t want that to be true. Unfortunately, I keep forgetting that, and then come out with another, what I think is, great idea. And I jump and try to run with it, and then something comes along and says “uh uh, you can’t do that”.

I do not know why I keep this optimistic attitude in the face of so many reasons to not have it. I know I won’t ever change, so I know I’ll always have to face up to it eventually.

Many years ago, along about 1963, I was in a very optimistic state. This in spite of escaping from an impossible home situation. Then somebody murdered my president, and a war in Vietnam was heating up, I had two children which I did not know what to do with, and most of us of my generation did not believe we would live until 30. I finally decided then that it was no use being good and trying to accomplish things – I might as well go to hell since everyone was telling me that was going to happen. But the hippie/drug generation started, and I went all out to have a good time. I gave up my girls, started drinking, and was all promiscuous. Then one day, I woke up and I was 30, and I decided I should try to do something with my life.

I managed to live abundantly, and mostly correctly, with a few sidesteps into darkness, and today, here I am, basically content, pretty happy, and still a cock-eyed optimist. I wouldn’t change who I am, but I sure get over-excited when I come up with a good idea.

So I’m bowing out unless someone else who can afford it, and who knows how to do it, comes along, and then I’ll do my best to help.

I can hear people rant and rave and bellow, that we’re done and we might as well be dead, but I stuck like a dope with a thing called hope, and I can’t get it out of my mind……….

Lyrics from Cock-Eyed Optimist from South Pacific, music and lyrics from Rodgers and Hammerstein.

Carol Stepp
Austin, TX

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The Real Cost of War

As I sit here listening to commentators and pundits talking about the presidential candidates, particularly those running on the Republican side, and listening once again to “oppose Barack Obama” no matter what, and the case of Iran, I am struck by what I believe no-one is paying attention to – the real cost of war. I’m not talking about the cost in machinery of war – I’m talking about those who have to get on the ground, with their guns and their RPGs, and their hot and heavy equipment. I’m talking about the ones who actually have to go into the war physically, the youth and the general grunts.

So, I want to start a movement – a ground swell – a meeting in Washington DC with all those who care about the human beings who have to go to war to please the money people who don’t have to put themselves in harm’s way. I would like to speak at that meeting, march, whatever you want to call it. I want a peaceful movement. I want younger people to go en masse who have not had to go to war physically, who might already be thinking about how it could affect him or her mentally and physically. I would also like to have those who have had to fight these wars and have physical or mental injuries be there. I want to put faces on war, that would be required to go and fight the wars, the men who don’t get wealthy on war because they don’t have to go and actually do the warring.

I’d like to do this in late October or early November – before it gets frightfully cold, but is not likely to be too hot to draw crowds.

I am a 74-yo woman, I’ll be 75 in December, and have been through WWII (although quite young, but with memories of uncles); Korea (an ex-husband, as well as family members); Vietnam (high school friends); Grenada; Desert Storm; Gulf Storm; Iraq. Now we’ve got politicians calling for war with Iran, but these are the ones who wouldn’t actually have to go into the fight itself.

I’m tired of our youth being destroyed by war. If you are tired of it as well, please think about this, think about maybe doing a meet with speech, and possibly a few politicians as well, but let’s make it the people, the ordinary everyday people, who are the most affected by war and destruction and death.

I have a page on Facebook. If this raises enough interest, I will work with those who can help me put this together. I have never done anything like this. And frankly, I will need a little financial assistance to be able to show up and talk and meet people who feel the same way I do. I would love to hear from others who want to do the same. I want a groundswell of those who have to pay the physical cost of war.

Anyway, this goes automatically to FB, and my page is public, and it is named Carol Stepp.

Who is with me?

Carol Stepp, Austin, TX

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A second commentary on Mobs/Mafia

I raised a big shit storm when I made a comment about how I thought there was a “Jewish” Mafia (which is an impossibility anyway since the word Mafia only to Sicilians) on a site about Bernie Sanders. I mentioned the Kochs, along with Sheldon Adelson and Paul Wolfowitz. I was called names, told I needed psychiatric care, and accused of having a lot of problems. And one person even told me I was looking at the past. I was informed that the Koch Brothers are Catholic. So, let me change my wording. Because I am not anti-Semitic just because I used the word Jewish – nor am I anti-Sicilian because I was trying to use the actions of the early New York mobs as an example of what seems to be going on with the buying of politicians and the daily killing of black people, and the number of people who are getting guns and going out an killing people.

So to clarify, though it probably won’t make any difference because there are those who will jump on a single word, to make a noise and totally ignore what I am trying to say.

So the Koch Brothers are Catholic: so were Lucky Luciano, Vito Genovese, Carlo Gambino, the Luchese Family, Al Capone. The neo-cons, though, are mostly Jewish. This has nothing to do with their religions – just who they are. As for looking at the past, I still believe that we learn by studying history, and trying to not to repeat. Actually, Lucky Luciano spent part of his time during WW II (beginning in 1943) helping out the Americans in their move from North Africa into Sicily on their way into Italy, their fight against the Italian Fascists. Through Luciano, and several of his henchmen, they got the Sicilian Mafia to pave the way for their march through Sicily, and those members of the Italian Mafia were enemies of Communism, fighting in group against Communism coming into Sicily, and trying to get it out of Italy completely. They were behind the downfall of Mussolini, who had persecuted the Mafia in particular. Because of Luciano’s work, his prison sentence was commuted by Thomas Dewey, the very man who put him into prison for his work with prostitution, though Luciano was deported to Italy. Where he lived out the rest of his life, putting up with a lot of harassment, until he died of a heart attack in 1962, at the age of 64.

I have an admiration of the early mob/Mafia. To them family, and Familia, was important, and they took care of them. Yes, it took a lot of murder, but they did what they intended to. They killed themselves, but left the ordinary Americans alone. Oddly enough, the Mafia in America came to it greatest power because of the government – prohibition brought bootlegging, and that is how the bulk of their wealth came from.

Todays mob-types, whether Jewish or Catholic or whatever are not like that. These folk are more interested in padding their own pockets, but not in helping out the ordinary Americans. It is ironic that the Italians, Russians, Jews pre-Israel, Irish, Bulgarians, Albanians, and all the rest who were considered mob/mafia from the beginning of the 20th century through about 1972, when they were considered to have been defeated by the American government. Unfortunately, those folks hated black people, and did everything they could to keep them out of the American dream.

When I speak of today’s mob/mafia-types, I am talking about those people who are using their money, and their power, and their nastiness to keep the ordinary Americans down, poor, unable to make their lives successful. But buying politicians and law enforcement and attacking blacks and giving guns to their choice of citizens is not working on the same level of Americanism as the early Mobs/Mafia did. You need to look back to learn what should not be done now and in future. As long as you refuse to do that, and just attack what I and others like me are saying tells me you choose to not see what is right in front of your eyes. Probably because you have chosen to be on the wrong side.

Carol Stepp, Austin, TX

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