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How Did I Miss That? Mankiller for the $20; Citizen Godzilla

In the journalism trade, they call it a “scoop” or a “beat” and, if it involves special access to a source, a “get.” The basic idea is arriving at a destination first.

No beats are allowed at the U.S. Supreme Court, which is obsessive about releasing decisions to the entire world at exactly the same time. So it was that my first notice that the SCOTUS, voting 6-3, has declined the latest invitation to gut Obamacare was when I saw my Republican cousin Ray Sixkiller doing a happy dance. He knew the GOP presidential candidates just dodged an artillery shell fired by the fringe of the party. Had the SCOTUS ruled otherwise, the lack of an alternative for the people losing health insurance would have been political kryptonite.

ICTMN has been suggesting what we call “Jackson Removal” from the $20 bill, a word play on Indian Removal, Jackson’s historical signature issue. Jackson Removal has significance beyond the general project of improving the currency.

When Women on 20s began agitating for Jackson Removal in time to put a woman on paper money for the centennial of the victory for woman suffrage in the 19th Amendment, the women advanced Cherokee Principal Chief Wilma Mankiller to the final ballot in recognition of the Cherokee body count from Jackson’s policies, but the unofficial referendum selected Harriet Tubman—an escaped slave, Union spy, and conductor on the Underground Railroad---perhaps in recognition of the vicious way Andrew Jackson ran his slave business.

Led by the nation’s “newspaper of record,” The New York Times, the debate over Jackson Removal continued. Responding to Women on 20s, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew had good news and bad news. He agreed that a woman needed to be on the currency when the 19th Amendment is 100 years old in 2020, but went on to announce that the bill in line for redesign is the ten rather than the twenty.

I immediately rapped out a report explaining how crazy it would be in historical terms to expunge Alexander Hamilton from paper money and keep Andrew Jackson. I sent the story reacting to Secretary Lew off to my editor with no thought of “beating” anybody, but the next day, The New York Times published an op-ed by Steven Rattner, a pundit on economics whose last government post was “Car Czar” during the recession. His historical analysis was the same as mine.

The next day, the Wall Street Journal noted comments by former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, comments I have tracked down to his blog on economics at the Brookings Institution. Economic heavyweight Bernanke, like economic heavyweight Rattner, agrees that the historical record ought to make this decision a no-brainer.

Secretary Lew’s self-imposed deadline to decide on the redesign of the ten, which will have an impact on the twenty, is the end of the year. Until then, the debate is very much alive.

The logic is what it is, regardless of who got there first. Cousin Ray thought I made too much of getting there first, but had to admit, “When you are out in front of the parade, you ought to beat the drum.”

Andrew Jackson on the twenty-dollar bill was not the only controversy in the news over symbolism, but the other symbol involved recent tragedy rather than historical tragedy. The fresh and raw grief over the murders in South Carolina trumped the generational trauma in the Trail of Tears.

Grief played a major role in two news items this week. For the first one, from South Carolina, you would have to see the video. I’m no fan of Republican Gov. Nikki Haley, but her first press conference after the racist killings at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston was way above and beyond politics. She was fighting back real tears.

Subsequently, Gov. Haley came to Jesus on the Northern Virginia battle flag, symbol of southern resistance to Brown v. Board of Education, when she had for years acquiesced to the historical fraud of claiming it as the Confederate battle flag, symbol of the great patriotic cause of resisting the War of Northern Aggression.

Dylann Storm Roof put up numerous pictures of himself on the web displaying the Stars and Bars, and he left no doubt it is a beloved and iconic (if recent) symbol of white supremacy. Haley is not an uneducated woman and she probably knew of the historical fraud, but the emotion that led her to call for the removal of the racist symbol was real. Any claim that her tears were fake is a political bridge too far.

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That Nikki Haley’s epiphany is recent is true but beside the point. Born Nimrata Randhawa into a Sikh family, she now represents as “white” and “Christian.” Like the other Indian-American governor, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Haley has supported legislation to suppress the black vote. Cousin Ray reminded me that no American Indian should need Nikki Haley or Bobby Jindal to understand assimilation with the zeal of a convert.

The second grief-centered item was a fascinating piece in The New York Times on reactions to the unexpected death of SurveyMonkey CEO Dave Goldberg, 47, in a freak gym accident. Within SurveyMonkey, it brought home the personal nature of relationships within highly creative Silicon Valley start-ups. Outside SurveyMonkey, it brought home the cutthroat struggle for top notch talent when, “Within days, recruiters for other tech companies were calling employees to see if they were interested in leaving.” Money talks, sometimes crudely.

When the confidential source for Watergate scandal information, Deep Throat, declaimed that reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward should “follow the money,” he was stating a rule with explanatory power far beyond Richard Nixon and Watergate.

Following the money behind the racist ideas that motivated Dylann Roof leads to Earl Holt III, president of the Council of Conservative Citizens. The CCC (not to be confused with FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps) is the national progeny of the White Citizens’ Councils, formed to resist the Civil Rights Movement in ways less violent than the KKK: litigation, threatening the jobs of activists, boycotting businesses that “gave in” to serving blacks too easily. Holt has given at least $57,000 to Republican candidates, according to The New York Times, including presidential aspirants Rand Paul, Rick Santorum, Scott Walker, and Ted Cruz. A list of speakers at CCC functions included another candidate, Mike Huckabee.

The Associated Press reported from Salt Lake City that a Komatsu PT250-5 front-end loader valued at $130,000 disappeared from a construction site, but was found later abandoned in a Mormon Church parking lot. “There is no truth to the rumor,” Cousin Ray smirked, “that the police were looking for two guys on bicycles wearing neckties.”

Gloom Wire reported that the happy news that 1954 immigrant Godzilla has been granted Japanese citizenship, memorialized in a residency certificate placing the big guy in the Shinjuku Ward of Tokyo. “There is no truth to the rumor,” Cousin Ray announced, “that Godzilla applied for Japanese citizenship after the Creek Nation lost his enrollment application for the second time and the Cherokee Nation rejected him because the Godzilla family is on the wrong section of the Dawes Rolls.”

R.I.P. Don Featherstone, who walked on at age 79. He was the inventor of Phoenicopterus ruber plasticus. The less scientific name is the pink plastic flamingo. Don’t decorate your lawn without one. “Bird Clan,” Cousin Ray suggested, “definitely Bird Clan.”

I’ve always been a fan of the slogan and the reality, “Keep Austin Weird!” Lately, the weird has bled over into Texas, starting with the governor’s decision to mobilize the State Guard in case of a federal takeover. You know, like the War of Northern Aggression?

BloombergBusiness reported the latest weird. Texas has passed a law to “repatriate” the physical gold owned by the University of Texas endowment. UT is always nip and tuck with Harvard for the richest endowment in the country, depending on the price of oil, because the Texas Constitution set state lands aside to create “a university of the first class.” Texas has done that in spite of the best efforts of the Texas Legislature.

Early on, lawmakers engineered one of the great land swindles of all time when they traded state lands bordering railroads for a greater acreage in West Texas without water and therefore worthless. It was a swindle worthy of American Indian land thefts, thefts that left Indians with only three tiny reservations in the state, none of which belong to the people who lived here when the colonists showed up.

The swindle of Texas education backfired when the “worthless” land turned out to be the Permian Basin. The swindle of Indians was more successful, leaving indigenous Texans exiled to Indian Territory and tiny bits of trust land for the Tiguas (from New Mexico), the Alabama-Coushattas (from the Southeast), and the Kickapoos (from the Wabash and Iowa River basins).

The Permanent University Fund has been buying physical gold as a hedge against the Wall Street Casino that blew up in 2008 and is now re-inflating. The gold, worth $650 million, is stored in a rented New York vault at a cost of a million dollars a year.

Moving the hoard to Texas requires finding or building a vault and protecting it. How can Texas make money on this?

“Easy,” Cousin Ray snarked, “put the robbery concession up for bids.”