28 December 2016

The name "Chickamauga"

Chickamauga does not mean “river of death”, or “bloody river”, or “dwelling place of the chief”, or ‘the stagnant stream”.  It is definitely not Cherokee, even the Cherokee themselves have always said that, nor is it likely Muskogean.  It almost certainly came from the closest allies of the Cherokee in the wars of the later 18th century, the Shawnee.

The word “Chickamauga” has been given a variety of spellings such as “Chickamaugee” in the survey report of Col. Samuel Long to the Western & Atlantic Railroad on possible routes to connect with the Tennessee River beyond the Georgia state line.

Two other places in the Southeast have similar names.  The village of Chicamacomico now in Rodanthe, North Carolina, on the Outer Banks near Cape Hatteras, and the Chicamacomico River near Dorchester, Maryland, both lie in areas originally inhabited by peoples who spoke Algonquin languages like the Shawnee did.  In both cases, the name is translated as “dwelling place by the big water”, the suffix “mico” meaning “chief”, “great”, or “big”.  Without the suffix, it becomes Chicamaco, “dwelling place by the water”.

Among the Cherokee

The first appearance of the name Chickamauga (or a variety thereof) in the tristate area or even the trans-Blue Ridge region was in late 1776 at a spot on the east side of a tributary to what the Cherokee called Egwanimaya, or Great River (the Tennessee).  This settlement was later called Old Chickamauga Town by the Daughters of the American Revolution, which the Cherokee called “Tsikamagi”.

Since Chickamauga was Dragging Canoe’s dwelling place (though its headman was another man named Big Fool), the eleven Cherokee settlements in the region, four of them on Chickamauga River, or South Chickamauga Creek alone, became known as “Chickamauga Towns”.  These were abandoned in 1782 with the relocation of their people to the (new) Lower Towns area to the west, but reinhabited after the conclusion of the Cherokee-American Wars in 1795.

In addition, many writers at the time, and even more so in later decades, referred to the people of this Cherokee resistance as “the Chickamaugas” as if they were an entirely separate people, which is not accurate.  Some used the more precise term “Chickamauga Cherokee”, which gave way to “Lower Cherokee” after the relocation west from the Chickamauga Towns. 

To reseachers and historians this can sometimes be a bit confusing, since there had for decades been a division called “Lower Towns” on the Tugaloo, Chattooga, and Keowee Rivers in northwest South Carolina and northeast Georgia.  This original group of “Lower Cherokee” relocated west in 1777 to North Georgia above the Chattahoochee River and became known as the “Upper Cherokee” of the “Upper Towns”.

In 1820, the Cherokee divided their territory into eight districts for electoral, legislative, and judicial purposes, each of the districts being further divided into three precincts.  All of Hamilton County (and much further) south of the Tennessee and west of Ooltewah (Wolftever) Creek became part of Chickamauga District, which had its seat at Crawfish Springs in what’s now Georgia, which also served as the voting place for its first precinct.  Its second precinct, voting at the home of Hunter Langley in Lookout Valley, may have been in Hamilton County, or perhaps it was in Dade County, Georgia.  The rest of the county fell into Amohee District, which had its seat at Thompson Springs near Cleveland, Georgia; one of its precincts met at the home of Kalsowee in Long Savannah in the northern section of eastern Hamilton County.

Civil War

During the Civil War, for two-and-a-half days in September 1863, the Union and Confederate armies fought the bloodiest battle of the conflict in northern Walker County, Georgia, in a region the locals called Mud Flats, which gave its name for the battle to the Confederacy.  The Union, however, called it the Battle of the Chickamauga, referring to the West Chickamauga Creek, but by the end of the 19th century, it became simply the Battle of Chickamauga.

In honor and anticipation of the 1889 Blue and Gray Barbeque reunion of Union and veterans who fought at the Battle of the Chickamauga/Mud Flats and the Battles of Chattanooga, the State of Georgia set aside Chickamauga Battlefield Reservation, intended as a first step of establishing the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park.  The larger park was chartered in 1890 and inaugurated in 1895.

Post-Cherokee Removal communities

Under John D. Gray, the Western & Atlantic Railroad (W&A) constructed its line south to Tunnel Hill, Georgia, from Chattanooga in the late 1840s.  Initially, its first stop east of South Chickamauga Creek was Campbell’s Station.  But when the post office of Chickamauga, Tennessee, began operating out of there, the depot became Chickamauga Station, and the community became Chickamauga, Tennessee.

At the same time (1850), residents of Poe’s Tavern, the first seat of Hamilton County abandoned in favor of Dallas (then Harrison in 1840, finally Chattanooga in 1870), voted to change their name to Chickamauga, Tennessee, but since they didn’t have mail service at the time there was no conflict with the other Chickamauga on the W&A.

In 1888, the Chattanooga, Rome, & Columbus Railroad (CR&C) built a depot at Crawfish Springs, Georgia, former seat of the Chickamauga District of the Cherokee Nation.  The CR&C changed the name of its depot to Chickamauga in 1891, and the community incorporated as the Town of Chickamauga, Georgia, in 1892 (and as the City of Chickamauga in 1913).

The Nashville, Chattanooga, & St. Louis Railway retained the name Chickamauga for its Tennessee depot there until the 1930s, when it finally changed to match the name of its post office, Shepherd.  After that, the name Shepherd came into common local usage.  Partly because of this, some have an understandably mistaken impression that Chickamauga and Shepherd refer to two different communities, but that is not the case.

After the Cherokee Land Lottery in Georgia, settlers in one section of Walker County adopted the name East Chickamauga, doubtlessly named for that branch of the greater river.  The name appears on the census in 1840 and 1850.  The area became part of Catoosa County in 1853, and the name East Chickamauga ceased to appear in records.

Post offices

In 1850, the post office of Chickamauga, Tennessee, was established in the Campbell’s Station depot, which soon also adopted the name Chickamauga Station.

Civilian postal service was disrupted during the war, at least at Chickamauga Station.  When the opportunity arose in 1866 to get their own post office under the community’s name, the residents of the northern Chickamauga (the former Poe’s Tavern) grabbed it to become Chickamauga, Tennessee.  When service was restored at the “original” southern Chickamauga on the W&A the next year (1867), its post office became Chickamauga Station, Tennessee.

With the coming of the Cincinnati Southern Railway through the northern community of Chickamauga, a citizen named Mel Adams offered land for a depot provided the post office there adopt his name.  Thus, Chickamauga became Melville in 1878.  The southern Chickamauga Station post office eventually returned the name of its post office back to Chickamauga (sans “Station”) in 1882.

In 1890, the post office of Crawfish Springs in Walker County became Chickamauga.

Due to confusion in mail with the post office of Chickamauga, Georgia, the post office of Chickamauga, Tennessee, changed its name to Shepherd, Tennessee, in 1898 (although I’ve known that for years, it only just now occurred to me to wonder why they didn’t simply change it back to “Chickamauga Station, Tennessee”).

When the Louisville & Nashville Railroad ceased operations at Shepherd depot in 1955, the post office of Shepherd, Tennessee, necessarily closed along with it.  To replace it, Chattanooga postmaster Frank Moore located a satellite office in Brainerd Hills Shopping Center and named it Chickamauga Station.  In 1984, it moved a few miles down East Brainerd Road next to where the old Rains place once stood, retaining its name.

A couple of decades before the railroad depot, the patriarch of the extensive Hixson clan in the area, Ephraim Hixson, operated the North Chickamauga, Tennessee post office 1833-1839.

Meanwhile, in Walker County, Georgia, the community of East Chickamauga hosted the first post office of Chickamauga, Georgia, 1836-1837.

Religious institutions

When the American Board of Missioners established Brainerd Mission in 1817 on the left bank of the South Chickamauga Creek across from the reoccupied Cherokee town, its missionaries named its body of worship the Church of Christ at Chickamauga.

After the Cherokee Removal, settlers in the Ocoee District (all the county south of the Tennessee River; the county north of the river was part of the Hiwassee District) established Chickamauga Camp Ground at the later Ryall Springs for religious camp meetings, used even before the Removal.  Camp meetings there begat Blackwell’s Chapel (now Graysville) Methodist Church and West View (now Cornerstone Community) Cumberland Presbyterian Church.  It also served the Baptists who regularly met at a local schoolhouse at the crossroads of the former Brainerd’s Road with the old stage road from Harrison; they formally organized the “Baptist Church of Christ at Concord” in 1848.  It was still being used at the time of the Civil War.

Chickamauga Cumberland Presbyterian Church was founded in 1839 at Cumberland Camp Ground at Silverdale Spring.  In 1876, it became Pleasant Grove Cumberland Presbyterian, then Silverdale Cumberland Presbyterian in 1930.  The first Baptist church in the Ocoee District, Good Spring (later Tyner, now Heritage) Baptist, was organized at the camp as well in 1838, along with House’s Chapel (now Tyner) Methodist Church in 1844.

Chickamauga Baptist Church, the second Baptist church in the Ocoee District, was incorporated at Sivley, later Taliaferro, Spring, in the King’s Point area in 1838, a few months after Good Spring.  The spring is reportedly located on TVA’s public recreation property south of the river on the lake.  In 1927, the congregation changed its name to Oakwood Baptist.

In the southern Chickamauga, Tennessee, residents organized Chickamauga Chapel Baptist Church in 1867.  The congregation became Chickamauga Station Baptist in 1902, then Shepherd Baptist in 1908.

Schools and other institutions

In 1871, the Chickamauga School for black students opened its doors on Chickamauga Road a little south of the railroad village.  It continued as Chickamauga Elementary School until its closing in 1987, by which time it had long been integrated.  Under segregation, its students matriculated to Booker T. Washington High School in the nearby Shot Hollow community.

There was also a Chickamauga School for white students across the railroad tracks from the village and depot.  Its date of establishment is unclear, but it was operating by the 1904-1905 school year.  The school year 1935-1936 was its last, and given its location its safe to suggest that it fell to the expansion of Lovell Field, which it bordered to its immediate north on what used to be the Dr. J.B. Haskins farm.  Its students were probably diverted to Tyner Elementary or  East Brainerd, or both.

The General Assembly of the State of Georgia chartered the Chickamauga School System in 1905, including Chickamauga Elementary School and Gordon-Lee High School.  Gordon-Lee Middle School was added in 1991.

Physical geography

Hamilton County’s Chickamauga Lake is the reservoir created by the eponymous dam.

The Chickamauga Hills lie immediately east of Peavine Ridge in Catoosa County, Georgia, stretching north well into Hamilton County, Tennessee.  In the latter, the chain includes such heights as Bermuda Hill (overlooking Graysville, Georgia), Scrapeshin Ridge, Fuller Ridge, Julian Ridge, and several unnamed (or forgotten name) ridges, hills, and knobs.  As a matter of fact, northern Catoosa County residents in this area refer to them simply as “the ridges”.  In addition, a couple of official after-action reports on the events of 26 November 1863 use the term Pigeon Hills in reference to them.

In the survey report to the Western & Atlantic Railroad (W&A) Company in Georgia on possible routes for extension of the line to the Tennessee River from Lot 5, District 28, Section 3 of the Cherokee Land Lottery in Murray (later Walker, then Catoosa) County, Col. Long uses as a reference point the narrow opening between the northern end of Boynton Ridge to the south and the southern end of Concord Ridge to the north, now occupied by Audubon Acres, referring to it as Chickamauga Gap.

Before the gates of the eponymous dam closed, Chickamauga Island rose above the Tennessee River with its foot where the dam and Wilkes T. Thrasher Bridge now cross.  On some maps it is erroneous called Friar’s Island, but Friar’s Towhead (or Island) is the much smalled islet just below the larger island.  Friar’s Ford crossed the river over the towhead, and Rogers’ Ferry, dating to Cherokee times, also ran here.

Chickamauga Gulch is a ravine in the eastern escarpment of Walden’s Ridge through which North Chickamauga Creek flows.  Its mouth opens a couple of miles south of Daisy at the community of Mile Straight between Flipper Bend on the plateau to the south and Montlake and Grasshopper Hill on the plateau to the north.

Speaking of North Chickamauga Creek, its headwaters flow from the geographical feature known as the Double Bridges on the plateau of Walden’s Ridge.

Several streams flowing through Walker and Catoosa Counties, Georgia, into Hamilton County, Tennessee bear also Chickamauga as part of their name.

According to the lastest nomenclature, South Chickamauga Creek, which flows into the Tennessee River between Amnicola and Toqua communities in Chattanooga, begins at the confluence of East Chickamauga Creek and Tiger Creek two-tenths of a mile west of the Old Stone Church just outside Ringgold, Georgia.

The headwaters of East Chickamauga Creek spring forth between Dick Ridge and Taylor’s Ridge in Whitfield County.

The headwaters of Little Chickamauga Creek issue a couple of miles south of the community of Catlett in Walker County, Georgia.  The Little Chickamauga meets the South Chickamauga just south of Ringgold, near where Richard Taylor had his farm trading post on the Federal Road that gave the surrounding community the name Taylor’s Place.

The West Chickamauga Creek, along which the Battle of the Chickamauga/Mud Flats was fought in September 1863, rises in upper McLemore Cove in Walker County, Georgia.  The West Chickamauga meets South Chickamauga Creek in the middle of the north side of Camp Jordan Park.

Historically speaking, the name South Chickamauga Creek is rather late.  Certainly through the 19th, and probably well into the 20th, century, it was more commonly called the Chickamauga River.  That was definitely the case in pioneer annals and in official reports from both sides on the Civil War.  Just where the Chickamauga River actually began was in some dispute, however, with some carrying it as far upstream as the headwaters of what is now Tiger Creek.  Others began it at the same confluence of East Chickamauga and Tiger Creeks as today. 

Still others did not count it as the Chickamauga River until after the confluence of the West Chickamauga with the East Chickamauga just north of Camp Jordan Park.  For these, the East Chickamauga extended all the way from its Whitfield County, Georgia, headwaters to the confluence with the West Chickamauga. 

Also, the Little Chickamauga Creek used to be known as the Middle Chickamauga Creek, and the North Chickamauga Creek until well into the 20th century was more often called the Little Chickamauga Creek, with Soddy Creek being called Big Chickamauga Creek.

There is also a Chickamauga Creek in the Nacoochee Valley of White County, Georgia, northeast of the community of Sautee.

19 December 2016

Name History of Brainerd Road (Chattanooga TN)

Robert Sparks Walker is rightly praised for pulling the history of Brainerd Mission to the Cherokee out of the shadows and for leading the effort to preserve what remained.  Likewise, he deserves credit for the name of the community cobbled together from Olde Towne, Sunnyside, Dutchtown, Belvoir, and The Mission in 1926, as well as the renaming of what was then known as Bird’s Mill Road to Brainerd Road and East Brainerd Road.  But he may not have realized how close to history he came.

The road we now know by the above names was initially a branch of what the Long Knives called the Great Indian Warpath, one of several in the area.  Ultimately, this system (rather than a single route) ran from Mobile Bay in the south to Nova Scotia in the north.  The Great Indian Warpath is why John McDonald, trader and assistant to British Deputy Commissioner for Southern Indian Affairs Alexander Cameron, set up shop on the left bank of the river we now know as South Chickamauga Creek.

Just two years after John Ross and Timothy Meigs established Ross’ Landing in 1815, Brainerd Mission and the Church of Christ at Chickamauga opened their doors.  Because of its importance and interest in it nationally (Pres. James Monroe came to see it in person) and internationally, Brainerd became one of the main destinies for passengers and cargo dismembarking at the landing on the Tennessee River.  It likewise had an access route to the nearby Georgia, or Federal, Road between Athens, Georgia, and Nashville.

From 1817, when Brainerd opened, until 1838, when it closed and most of its personnel went west with the ethnically-cleansed Cherokee, the road between Ross’ Landing and the Federal Road by way of Brainerd was called Brainerd’s Road.  West of Missionary Ridge, the path followed roughly the route of McCallie Avenue, then, like the avenue once did, it turned left at the foot of the ridge to ascend its side.  This was more or less the same route as the ancient pathway.  About two-thirds of the way to the top, it divided, one branch headed toward the Shallow Ford, the other toward Brainerd over what’s now Bird’s Mill Road. 

After going along the crest for a bit, it followed what is now Rosemont, then Brainerd Road, until Talley Road goes over the hill where the Confederate rearguard attempted to hold off Sheridan’s division the night of 25 November 1863.  Where Talley Road makes a sharp left, turning north, however, Brainerd’s Road continued straight until meeting what is now Old Mission Road, which it followed until reaching Brainerd Mission.

Crossing the South Chickamauga Creek, Brainerd’s Road passed through Old Chickamauga Town along Old Bird’s Mill Road onto what is now East Brainerd Road, then continued on towards the southeastern end of the village of Opelika (the modern Graysville, Georgia), which took in much of what is now southern East Brainerd.  Here, Brainerd’s Road ran to the east side of town, fording the creek at about the same place as the railroad bridge, and continued on to meet the Federal Road, going through Ross Hollow between Peavine Ridge on the west and The Backbone on the east.  From there, turning left would take you to Spring Place then Athens, turning right would take you to Ross’ Gap and down Chattanooga Valley to go over the bench of Lookout Mountain to Running Water, Nickajack, and ultimately Nashville.

From the Removal until after the Civil War, most of the route became known simply as the Missionary Road.  In 1849, John D. Gray dammed the South Chickamauga Creek to create a reservoir for his mill, and the road between Graysville and the Federal Road moved to the west side of Peavine Ridge.  That same year, the Western & Atlantic Railroad was completed from Chattanooga to Tunnel Hill, Georgia, on the west side of Cheetooga Mountain, and Graysville and Chattanooga became two of the most important centers of transportation in the area.

After the war, the entire length of the road between the two towns became known as the Chattanooga-Graysville Pike.  Most locals, however, called the route Bird’s Mill Road because of its importance, which was such that farmers came from as far away as what is now North Chattanooga to grind their grain.  Likewise, the section between the town and the large McCallie farm at the foot of the ridge became better known as the McCallie Road.

The advent of automobiles brought changes to the road.  In Concord, as East Brainerd was then still known, Bird’s Mill Road was altered to dead end into Jenkins Road, which continued straight across along what is now called Mackey Avenue, which used to connect to Davidson Road.  Ryall Springs, or Parker’s Gap, Road intersected with Jenkins Road, and Graysville Pike branched off of that.

On the “main” Bird’s Mill Road, the completion of the Missionary Ridge Tunnels significantly altered the course of the roads, with no more need to ascend and descend the ridge.  The building of a bridge over South Chickamauga Creek somewhat downstream from the old ford between the former mission and what was known at the time as Whorley changed the route of the road. 

The building of Lee Highway in the 1920s changed the route even more, for the road then bypassed that first leg of Talley Road, and subsequently the Old Mission Road, to follow its current path.  East of South Chickamauga Creek, Lee Highway bypassed where Bird’s Mill Road now turned toward Concord headed to Chattanooga-Cleveland Pike, now Bonny Oaks Drive.

Brainerd, as a community, organized itself in 1926 with the aim of being annexed into the City of Chattanooga, and for the length the two coexisted Bird’s Mill Road-Lee Highway became Brainerd Road.  From where Bird’s Mill Road had branched off toward Concord, the road now became East Brainerd Road, only now extending all the way to Apison.  The same year, the community’s school across the road from the donor of the land it sat upon changed its name from Walnut Grove to East Brainerd along with its community, though the byroad beside it officially remained Walnut Grove Road until 1968.


16 December 2016

The Northern Terminus of the W&A

Most people to whom the question occurs about where the State of Georgia might like to anchor the far end of its Western & Atlantic Railroad coming from south of the Chattahoochee River at Terminus (later Thrasherville, later Marthasville, now Atlanta), would think the answer obvious, but as I found out recently, that was not the case.

One of the reasons Americans in Georgia and Tennessee wanted the Cherokee removed was because the Cherokee Nation stood in the way of connecting the Chattahoochee and Tennessee Rivers by rail.

In 1837, the State of Georgia hired Col. Stephen H. Long of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to survey the best route for the Western and Atlantic Railroad from Zero Mile Post (now in Underground Atlanta) to a northern terminus.  In January 1838, the State of Tennessee authorized the State of Georgia to continue the survey from the stateline to a point on the Tennessee River.  The chosen entry point was the center of Lot 5, District 28, Section 3, of the Cherokee Land Lottery.

Four locations were considered for the northern terminus: Vann’s Ferry (later Harrison); the mouth of the Chickamauga River (South Chickamauga Creek); Gardenhire’s Landing (just below the mouth of the Citico Creek); and Ross’ Landing.

The first option discarded was Vann’s Ferry, because one of the checkpoints on the want list was accessibility to a possible future route to Nashville, and this even though construction of the route to that destination was by far the cheapest.

Once Long counted out Vann’s Ferry, he and his team came up with a single point about nine-and-a-half miles past the stateline from which to continue to the northern terminus, this point of divergence, as he called it, being Kenan’s Mills, a few hundred feet from South Chickamauga Creek on its left bank.  Given the fact that Long puts this at about 2.65 miles from the mouth of the South Chickamauga Creek, the location must have been near where the later Chattanooga-Cleveland Pike crossed it.

From Kenan’s Mills, routes directly to the mouth of the South Chickamauga, directly to Gardenhire’s Landing, to Ross’ Landing via Gardenhire’s Landing, to Ross’ via a tunnel through Missionary Ridge, and to Ross’ via a deep cut through Missionary Ridge.

For railroads, a deep cut is a way through an obstacle that involves digging a passageway through the hill, ridge, or mountain (not always ground level) that creates a gully or ravine, like that which the Chattanooga Extension of the East Tennessee and Georgia Railroad built through Brabson Hill from where Erlanger now is through UTC (Univ. of Tenn. @ Chatt.) campus to the switchyards past East 11th Street.  Usually the idea is to avoid a tunnel, but ET&G did both.

In the end, due to shortness of distance, height above the level of freshets (normal spring floods), cost, and directness, Col. Long recommended the northern terminus be placed at the mouth of South Chickamauga Creek.

News of Georgia’s intentions to build the railroad to the Tennessee River, however, spurred residents of the area around Ross’ Landing into action, and provided much of the impetus for the speed with which its commissioners laid out streets, built bridges, cleared swamps.  Nor did it hurt that the landowner of the target area at the mouth of the South Chickamauga, Tom Crutchfield, Sr., also favored the Ross’ Landing location (where he also owned property).  So proficient were they at lobbying that Georgia bought land on which to build the terminal and yards before the Town of Chattanooga was even incorporated.


Had it been otherwise, perhaps we would now be living in the City of Toqua, or maybe the City of Amnicola, or even in the City of Citico.

10 December 2016

The Russians Did It! (Not)

Did no one watch (or does no one remember) season 2 of The Newsroom

Did everyone forget the groupthink-bound avalanche of stories about Saddam’s stockpile of WMDs that helped usher in the ongoing series of unfortunate events (aka clusterfucks, catastrophes) in Southwest Asia and North Africa? 

Remember how the Clinton camp, which includes the DNC, blaimed Russia for hacking Podesta’s emails that came out in the Wikileaks releases and how the FBI officially reported that no such evidence had been found?

I’ve watched the growing hysteria over Russia’s alleged hacking of the elections since the seed from which the story sprang was first planted.  Here is the sequence of events in this latest viral political fake news story as I've watched it unfold the past couple of weeks:

1) Wikileaks posts thousands of emails from the accounts of Dem operative John Podesta and the DNC proving beyond a reasonable doubt collusion between the DNC and the Clinton campaign during the primary, collusion between the DNC and the Clinton campaign with nearly every outlet in the mainstream media, including the focus on Trump which they nearly universally adopted because it was thought he would be easiest for their sorry candidate to beat.

2) Podesta and the Clintons cry foul, claim that Russians hacked the emails and was the source of the leaks to Wikileaks.

3) FBI announces there is no evidence whatsoever to prove the claims and that while Russia is undoubtedly laughing its collective ass off, it had nothing to do with it.

4) In the aftermath of the eminently forseeable defeat of the piss-poor Dem establishment candidate in the presidential election, Clinton ally John Podesta comments that Russians may have hacked the election.

5) Outlets tied to Podesta make the same suggestion.

6) Her Royal Catastrophe claims that the election was hacked.

7) POTUS says he is going to look into claims that Russians hacked the election.

8) WaPo almost immediately produces a story claiming with no verifiable sources that a "secret report" by CIA proves that Russia hacked the election.

9) Without pausing to consider WaPo's track record, especially recently, new outlets worldwide regurgitate this misinformation like they did claims of WMDs in Iraq.

Does Russia have active online assets engaging in what used to be called gray propaganda?  You bet your sweet ass, as I myself have pointed out and posted to Facebook verified stories of on more than one occasion.  Have Russians hacked computer U.S. assets?  Indubitably.  Did any Russians hack the electronic voting apparati to rig the elections?  No fucking way.  Could they have?  Yes, no doubt.  But other than the claims of the Clinton camp and the totally and completely unverified fake news from WaPo, there is no evidence of any kind whatsoever that such a thing happened.  Zero.  Zip.  Nada.  Fuck all.  Besides, rigging elections is the purview of the Clinton camp and the Democratic National Committee.

Dems, please grow the fuck up.  If you want to find out who is responsible, you need only look in a mirror (I quote from one of the best political speeches on film ever).  And get your shit together, and do it quickly.  Like it or not, Donald Trump is validly POTUS-elect, and the next four years could be hell. 

I am not one of you.  I left in the 1990s when Slick Willy and the Goldwater Girl took the Dems on a hard right turn and changed it into the Republican-lite Party.  However, if we are going to prevent a second Trump term in 2020, you need to pull your heads out of your arses and do some serious fucking soul-searching and self-criticism and get back to the social democratic policies that made the DP the unquestioned majority party in the country.


08 December 2016

Jesus: Guilty As Charged

Jesus Christ did not come to rescue Wall Street like President Obama.  He did not come to save the American Chamber of Commerce.  He did not come to free corporations, regardless of how many courts claim that they are, contrary to all rational thought, “persons”.  And he would not have agreed with that money is speech. 

Jesus Christ did not promote austerity, balanced budgets, or privatization and dissolution of government services.  He did not means test or drug screen those coming to him in desperation seeking mercy.  He did not hide the homeless from the sight of the affluent.  He did not gentrify cities with wholesale destruction of public and otherwise affordable housing in order to clear space to build apartments and condominiums for the wealthy.  He did not come to preach Third Way, supply-side, trickle-down, horse-and-sparrow neoliberal capitalist economics that make poor and working people pay for the lifestyles of the rich and shameless.

Jesus Christ did not support White Supremacism or Christian Triumphalism.  He did not build at great expense graven images in the form of gigantic crosses and statues of the Ten so-called Commandments.  He did not call for public prayer in town councils or at football games, or for God to be thanked by celebrities at awards shows.

Jesus Christ did not extol American or Israeli exceptionalism.  He did not support the original illegal immigrants to the Americas seeking a better quality of life at the expense of that of the native peoples, nor their descendants facing later illegal immigrants seeking the same.

Jesus Christ did not promote Open Carry.  He did not preach Stand Your Ground.  He did not even advocate Self Defense.

Jesus Christ did not believe in compulsory preganancy.  He condemn birth control or abortion.  He did not come to save zygotes or nonviable fetuses, or for that matter fetuses of any viability, especially at the risk of the mother’s health.  He did not teach that a woman’s only place is in the home and that her only purpose in life is to be a housewife and mother.

If you believe Jesus Christ supported or would support any single one of those things, you are not following the real Jesus Christ.  You are following Ayn Rand in a White Jesus mask riding a red-white-and-blue horse shooting fire from its nostrils, lightning from its eyes, and oats from its arse onto the road behind it for the peasants to consume.

The real Jesus Christ, by the way, was not really Jesus Christ.  In the early Christian era, he was more often referred to as Isho Nasraya in in his native Galilean Aramaic, Yeshu ha-Notzri in Hebrew, and Iesous [Ee-soos] Nazoraios [Nad-zo-rah'-yos] in Greek, all of which translate to “Jesus the Nazorean”, not “Jesus of Nazareth”.

Jesus the Nazorean was not a 21st century American with blonde hair, blue eyes, European features, and an aquiline nose.  He was a 1st century Galilean with dark skin, dark hair, dark eyes, and a big nose.  In other words, he looked more like the humans America has been bombing since 2001, as well as the humans against whom bigots in Texas and other states of the Southwest are building fences and patrolling borders, than he did any White, American, Suburban, Professional.

Jesus the Nazorean did not hang out with sanctimonius saints, billionaires, celebrities, lords of Wall Street, masters of industry, land-owners, TV preachers, colonials, the popular, the chic, the cultured, the socially acceptable.  He hung out with righteous sinners, deplorables, basement-dwellers, workers, tenants, prostitutes, thieves, collaborators, aliens, indigenous people, refugees, addicts, the poor, the outcast, the socially undesirable.  He was in the lower class, of the criminal element, and as unfree as the prisoners of mass incarceration under the empire. 

Jesus the Nazorean did not deny to anyone food, shelter, clothing, or healthcare because they were the wrong race, the wrong nationality, the wrong ethnicity, the wrong social class, the wrong religion, the wrong gender, the wrong sexual orientation, felons, addicts, too poor, not sufficiently poor, or able-bodied enough to slave for pittance wages or in makeworkfare-for-welfare programs.

Jesus the Nazorean was neither a capitalist nor a supporter of capital.  He did not teach that a person’s only worth derives solely from their ability to produce profits.  He frequently advocated social justice and redistribution of wealth, even invading the Wall Street of 1st century Palestine to chase out with a whip the brokers, bankers, financiers, and other swindlers who had taken up residence in what was supposed to be the sanctuary of the people.

Jesus the Nazorean was an outlaw who was executed as a terrorist by the Roman empire.  And of that charge there is no question that he was guilty under imperial law.  Make no mistake; his trial and execution has fuck all to do with jealousy from the elders and religious elites.  Their sole participation, if in fact they participated at all, was as agents and clients of the state. 

Jesus the Nazorean was crucified for an act of rebellion against the state.  In his time, the Temple precinct, where the oligarchs of Judea held court, their money-changers defrauded, and the sellers of death profited, fell under the administrative supervision of the Roman prefect, so an attack on it was, legally, an attack against the empire.  The insurrection that took place in Jerusalem at the same festival over Pilate’s use of Temple money for building an aqueduct into the city made the outcome of Jesus’ trial inevitable.  Which shows that the law is not about justice, morality, or equity, but first and foremost about protecting the elite.

And “if the real Jesus Christ were to come back today,” as the 1980s song by the English punk band The The goes, “he’d be gunned down cold by the CIA”.  Maybe.  More likely, he’d be sent to Camp X-ray at Gitmo, or extraordinarily rendered to a black site in Poland or Romania, or turned over to be tortured by the secret police of Egypt or Azerbaijan or Saudi Arabia. 

If his itinerant preaching brought him into America from Mexico, he might find himself in a detention camp as an illegal alien.  Or should he somehow make it past the border patrol and vigilante militias, he would doubtless find himself on a no-fly list. 

In some states, he and his entourage would find themselves driven out of town or sent as vagrants to private prisons with forced labor for private profits.  Certain municipalities would have him arrested for feeding the poor and homeless in public.  Other communities would keep him and his crew from sleeping with spikes driven into the ground of every possible shelter and place of rest.

Here in America, he would not die on a cross.  He would die frozen under a railroad bridge, or in a booby trap at the border, or at the hands of a suburban middle-class white ammosexual wearing fear goggles “afraid for his life”, or beaten and choked to death by cops with the words, “I can’t breathe” on his lips instead of “It is finished”.


And if he were in his homeland today, he would probably die from American drones.  Or from Israeli bombs.  Or from gasoline ignited after being forced down his throat.



03 December 2016

01 December 2016

Bisexuality, from a bisexual (for Ungagged 10)

Bisexuality is not a point on a spectrum that has heterosexuality on one end and homosexuality at the other.  It’s more like the flip-side of a coin with monosexuality on its reverse.  Monosexuality includes both of those other sexual orientations, heterosexuality and homosexuality, that in truth have more in common with each other than either do with bisexuality.  Yes, heterosexuals who only have sexual attraction toward the individuals of the opposite sex and homosexuals who only have sexual attraction toward individuals of the same sex share many characteristics, but less so in both cases with bisexuals.

The idea of bisexuals flitting back and forth between partners of both sexes is, in virtually all cases, a myth.  The overwhelming majority of bisexuals, male and female, are predominantly either mostly androphiliac (attracted to men) or mostly gynephiliac (attracted to women).  Bisexuals such as Freddie Mercury who alternate with ease across the gender lines, true biphiliacs, are a rare exception.  In Freddie’s case, he had more opportunity.

Although sexual attraction may be slightly influenced by culture, society, and advertising, sexual attraction itself occurs due to biochemical physiology that is beyond the control of the individual caught in its throws.  This is true whether you’re straight, gay, or bi.  For bisexuals either predominantly gynephiliac or androphiliac, an intense attraction toward someone of the other gender often comes by surprise and sometimes at the most inconvenient of times.  I’ve known I’m bisexual at least since I was fifteen years old.  But I lean so heavily gynephiliac that it makes that easy to forget frequently, believe it or not. 

Bisexuality is misunderstood and often ridiculed not only among straights but among gays (male and female) as well.  Many straights thinks of us as crypto-gays and many gays think of us as cowards passing as wannabe-straights the way many light-skinned blacks once often passed as white to avoid legal or extralegal discrimination, and as some still do.  If it were a choice, I would choose to be monosexual of either variety, straight or gay.  But it’s not.

When I first became aware of my occasional sexual attraction toward males at fifteen, I was really confused because, like most adolescents (and adults), I was caught up in the dichotomy of straight versus gay and had not ceased being intensely attracted to girls and women (still haven’t, in case you’re wondering), so I was just confused and decided to put off dealing with it till later.  As if normal teenage angst weren’t enough to worry about.

Fortunately at the time, I was just getting involved in the youth activities of the Episcopal Church’s Diocese of Tennessee.  We had a very active chapter at our parish and I got very involved at the diocesan level also.  The atmosphere was very open and egalitarian and non-judgmental.  Boys and girls were equal, no one was bullied, outsiders were accepted as they came, and if they chose to remain the same, still accepted.  Outside of official activities, we smoked, drank, toked, and had sex like any other teenage group.

Then came university, where I joined a fraternity.  The culture of the Greek system was radically different, more traditional, with rigidly defined roles.  The second-class status to which women were relegated within the system overall disturbed me.  I felt like there was something wrong with me because I actually liked women.  Saw them as something other than to fuck or help out with bake sales.  To be fair, not all frat guys are like that, but, at least at the time, that view dominated.  And nearly all the Greek women, sorority girls and fraternity little sisters, accepted their role as second-class members of Greek society.

I should note, by the way,  that I’m talking about “Greek” as in the collegiate fraternities and sororities in Neverland that identify themselves with Greek letters.  Like Delta Tau Xi in the 1978 movie Animal House, only with better grades (usually) and not as much fun (usually).  Absolutely no relation to the country of Greece.

To add to my sense of psychological dislocation, those drives I’d first experienced in adolescence burst forth shouting to be heard.  They weren’t in response to any one person in particular, and may have risen because of the repressive nature of the Greek subculture.  The fact that I also became even more attracted towards women made it even worse.

Things reached a crisis point spring semester that year, after the expectation of being an associate member had ended and initiation finished.  I underwent severe emotional turmoil and would have killed myself were it not for my best friend in the fraternity.  Even though I was still attracted to women, those other feelings made me afraid I was gay.  I almost killed myself because if I were gay I couldn’t go out with women anymore.

Yes, I know how stupid that sounds.  When I told that to my friend at the time, he laughed his ass off, and after being offended for a moment, I started laughing too.

I made it through university in four years, though I ceased being active in the fraternity after my sophomore year.  Six months after graduating, I enlisted in the Navy the very day the USS Challenger blew up shortly after take-off.

When I got to my duty-station in the Philippines, I began having lots of casual sex with lots of women with whom I had little emotional connection and those bi urges appeared again.  I never followed through on them due to the military prohibition against same-sex sex at the time, but the more random fucking I did, the stronger they got. 

During the NIS investigation of me on suspicion of espionage, one of the issues was whether or not I was homosexual or had any sexual experiences with other males.  Lengthy sessions with the base psychologist and a battery of psychological tests showed I wasn’t, and the polygraph didn’t even blink when the question came up.  When my CO was explaining why he was going to classify me RE-4, barring me from re-enlisting, on the grounds that I was gay, I opened my mouth to object, but then he added, “or bisexual”, and I couldn’t say anything, because I knew that was true.

By that time, I was dating the woman who would become my second fiancée, whom I later married.  I never got those other urges with either her or my previous fiancée.  Nor, I should add, during my relationship with my girlfriend in Paris.

My ex-wife and divorced six years later, and after lots more random fucking, sometimes even with married women, I quit having sex.  About a year later, in my mid-30s, I finally tried sex with men, a few times anyway.  Maybe it was because the sex was casual, but emotionally I felt nothing.  That doesn’t mean I got no physical pleasure from it; I did.  But I knew that continuing to have sex with other guys knowing that I could never have the kind of emotional connection that I could achieve with a woman was not good for me and unfair to them.  Of course, looking back on my life, I’ve also worried about being able to have a quality emotional connection with a woman too.

So, I’m bisexual.  But I’m also monogamous.  I will not get involved sexually with anyone with whom I do not have a solid connection emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually as well as physically.  If that were to happen with a man, it would be by accident over a long period of time, but then that would probably be the same case with a woman (isn’t falling in love always an accident?).  This is the case, I believe, with most bisexuals, at least after they have adjusted to what they have either discovered or can no longer deny about themselves.

For me, that has to be the case, because without an intense emotional connection, the alternative for me—casual sex with many people of both genders—is not something the structure of our societies or the emotional make-up of most of us humans is ready for.

In truth, labels such as “heterosexual”, “homosexual”, “bisexual”, “androphiliac”, “gynephiliac”, etc., should be stricken from our language.  Labels are not about accuracy, they’re about definition, and definition in this case is about limitations and control, or rather hate, just as much as it is in the case of defining God, where the first step in trying to dominate God is belief.

If someone is anti-gay, anti-lesbian, anti-bi, even anti-straight, what you are really is anti-human, and as a human, I object to that, no matter how human your anti-human feeling is.  If someone has found another human to share their life with, ideally for a lifetime but in the absence of the ideal at least for a long time, who the hell is anyone outside of that relationship to do anything but be happy for and envy them?  Certainly not I.