Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Real Change Takes Time: Lesson #6,743

From the right, and now increasingly from the left, we’re getting used to hearing Where’s the change, Obama?

I anticipated this sort of horseshit from the established right, a now completely rudderless opposition party who are determined to see the President’s agenda (and the POTUS himself) fail at any cost. The stakes are high, but it’s evident to anyone who’s even remotely paying attention that the GOP are willing to sacrifice the nation, over the well being of citizens, in their quest to achieve and maintain political power. If the Republican Party were an ex-lover, they’d be the type to slash your tires by dark of night, kidnap your beloved pet, or spend hours calling to hang up on you. Whatever, not much surprise here (see also BREAKING! stories on the wetness of water).

What’s harder for me to stomach is the bizarre intransigence from the left of center folk who decry ‘incrementalism’. We saw this all throughout the healthcare debate; we saw it again with DADT, and again with FinReg. Nothing has been good enough for these people. Nothing.

Again and again, over and over, issue after issue. I’m not talking about the general swath of leftward-leaning people who have disappointments. I have a few of my own. I’m talking about the self-absorbed, holier-than-thou lefty motherfuckers who are willing to hand control back over to the aforementioned power-mongering GOP, purely out of spite.

These are the same assholes who are willing to sit out the midterms, deliberately dampen enthusiasm for Democrats down ticket, and shoot all of the country in the collective ass, just to teach that dirty Corporocrat shill Obama that they will not brook any ‘dirty fucking hippie punching’. He needs to be more like LBJ they say, more like FDR. Apparently, hippies have been too busy shitting themselves (and complaining about the stink) to read an 8th grade history textbook.

If they had, or even if they had the will power to read beyond the Huffington Post headlines or spatula their dialated pupils off the front page of FireDogLake, they’d know that the substantial progressive achievements of both FDR and LBJ were only possible because of significant compromises and political deal-making. In fact, many of the programs, laws, and policies we know and love started small, and improved over time. A long time. You know, little shit like social security and civil rights. The kind of things that only begin to live up to our ideals as Americans.

Recently, I’ve been reminded that real gestalt level change takes time. This little lesson came to me the other day as I carried out one of the regular functions of my job — a gig made possible in large part by the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Thanks Obama and Democrats, you swarthy bunch of neo-liberal corporatist shit-sandwich servers tossing us all under the bus!

SRSLY people, let’s get a goddamned grip. Change takes time. Given the challenges we face as a nation, now is most assuredly not the time for poutrage.

For those that don’t know, I’m an archaeologist (no dinosaurs, no gold). I used to work for a large corporation that provided environmental consulting services to a variety of clients. I got laid off when the economy tanked. Now, I work for a federal agency that is fielding a number of ARRA funded projects, most of them related to infrastructure repair and improvement. This one in particular involved the widening of a public roadway.

During construction, there was a late discovery of a historic mining adit. It fell to me to try to find something out about this hole in the ground. To begin, I conducted a review of GLO plats in an effort to collect any available chronometric information for the feature. While the GLO plats and associated survey notes provided some information from 1855, 1858, and 1949 for the specific area of the discovery, they revealed no evidence of historic mining activity (either as mapped features or subjects of mention in the surveyors field notes). Digging deeper, a review of available Bureau of Land Management (BLM) records failed to produce any historic or modern mineral claims for the area. The paucity of data with regard to this kind of feature isn’t particularly unusual, and in no way precluded the possible historic era origins of the feature. It could be that the adit and/or affiliated remains and features may have been deemed unworthy of mention and omitted from survey notes, or simply were not observed in the course of each cartographic/survey effort.

Additionally, I checked out the BLM’s California Automated Land Records Management Improvement Project online database to scan available Master Title Plats and the Historical Index. The results showed only one land patent within the project area–a cash entry filed on November 1st, 1880 by Edward Booth. A number of other historic land patents (homesteads, scrip patents, and cash entries) had been filed in the vicinity though none of these directly accounted for any mining activity in the project area.

So, where are we now? Based on a field recording of the adit (and possibly associated prospect features noted in the vicinity), it’s likely that the adit feature is representative of a drift-mining episode. The drift mining method was well in use across California by the mid-1850s, reached its peak in the 1870s before virtually ceasing.  The technique came back into popular use after 1933.

This is about all we know, save that in 1880, Edward Booth held a land patent for the spot. Usually, this is where the story ends. Most of the time, if we’re lucky enough to get a name associated with a place, we generally find out very little about the person. They’re often just lost in history, their stories forever untold, and for the most part this is where we give up. We write up our findings, show our due diligence, and move on. As it turned out, Edward Booth still had a story to tell.

After some more exhaustive research, I’ve compiled a collection of circumstantial archival data to suggest that the Edward Booth responsible for filing the land patent in 1880 is likely one of California’s first African American miners. Edward Booth was born to slaves in Virginia. One account indicates that his mother once stood in the presence of George Washington (she was reportedly much impressed with his fine breeches). Somehow the children, or perhaps the entire family, were granted their freedom, and they relocated from Virginia to Baltimore, Maryland. The eldest of several siblings, Edward Booth first came to California in search of gold in 1849 after a successful stint trading in the West Indies. After some profitable mining efforts he returned to Maryland to collect his family, and in 1851, began what would be an arduous journey to California accompanied by brothers George, Samuel, Elijah, and sisters Ann-Maria and Harriet. After repeatedly enduring the indignity of establishing that the family were legally free blacks (i.e. not escaped slaves) the group sailed from New York City to Panama, where Mr. Booth’s fluency in Spanish (probably the product of his trading career) reportedly helped to save the lives of a man and woman in dire circumstances.

To reach the port in Panama City, the family had to hire Spaniards to guide them upriver, and ride mules across the isthmus. When they reached port, the family was separated by a series of misfortunes, whereby no single vessel was able to accommodate the entire group. Edward and his sisters managed to secure passage to San Francisco aboard a steamship, and later travelled to Sacramento via the riverboat New World.  Edward’s  brothers were delayed several months more however, as their vessel (the sailing ship Cabargo) became lost at sea — a voyage that ended in a mutiny adrift. After eventually coming ashore somewhere in Mexico, the younger Booth men began their voyage anew, finally arriving in Sacramento via the riverboat Sydney Stepp in 1852.

With the exception the sisters and brother George, who remained in Sacramento as an Expressman, the Booth Brothers took to mining — initially in the Nevada City and Grass Valley area. Brothers Samuel and Elijah appear in the 1856 Nevada County Business and Residential Directory as miners, and are listed as working at American Hill, where hydraulic mining was first practiced in 1853. Later, Edward and Elijah are listed in the Placer County Directory of 1861, evidently residents of the Last Chance / Michigan Bluff area, the latter being among the earliest mining towns in Placer County. Edward Booth surfaces again in the historical record via the Placer County Great Register of Voters for the year 1890. Like his brother George, Edward was active in seeking equality for African Americans. He spoke formally before the second Colored Convention of California in 1856:

It is with pride I say, we are showing to our white fellow citizens, that we have some natural abilities. We are resolved to let them see that all we want is an equal chance, and open field and a fair fight…We intend to disprove the allegation that we are naturally inferior to them.  The colored people of Nevada County possess property to the amount of $3,000,000 in mining claims, water, ditch stock and some real estate.

One of four such events, the conventions were held in response to a Gold Rush era environment that lacked any significant legal and/or political recourse for African Americans living under racism and discrimination. The Conventions of Colored Citizens of the State of California marked the beginning of organized civil rights activism in the American West. Upon word of the Klondike strike in Alaska, Edward Booth travelled to Alaska, staked a reportedly successful mining claim, and later died in 1900.

In 1856, Edward Booth wanted equality.  He wanted an equal chance, an open field, and a fair fight. Today, in 2010, we’re still not there yet. If anyone wants to suggest that equality has been achieved, please present that particular argument to the family and friends of Oscar Grant.

Johannes Mehserle, the former BART police officer who killed Oscar Grant while he was lying face down and handcuffed in an Oakland train station, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter — his crime, according to the jury, was negligence in not knowing the difference between his heavy black gun and his light yellow Taser.

Edward Booth and Oscar Grant are just two reminders that change — the kind of change that actually fucking matters — is a process, not a destination. Let’s all remember that when we get off our whiny asses and go to the polls this November, shall we?


54 comments

  1. jsfox

    And it takes even more time when one side of the equation (Republicans) decide that change is not a good thing, but power is. Change takes even longer when some Dems  (Blue Dogs) all of a sudden come to the realization that Obama meant what he said during the campaign and get absolutely petrified of change.

    Change takes even longer when those who are supposed to be on your side (The left) decide Yes We Can actually read, Yes Obama Can because he has a magic wand and he was elected to be  the progressives’ President not the President of the entire country.

  2. — the kind of change that actually fucking matters — is a process, not a destination.

    I’ve been thinking about writing something about the nature of politics. People act like each election is a war to be won. This isn’t true. Each election is a battle in an unending war. There will never be a time when you can say, “The war is over. We can all go home and get on with our lives.”

  3. spacemanspiff

    As far as the proffesional left goes it all seems kind of funny sometimes. Especially the piefights on the major blogs. I understand why the big players do it ( cold hard cash) but the motivations of most counfound me. They take their presence on a blog most of the country has never heard of so seriously. The thought that a Rec’d diary works to “divide” the party is kind of umm… stupid? I guess the Netroots is great for money bombs when the weather is nice and nothing else. It’s all about egos and imagined slights now. Those that can make a difference are the ones that live in reality and not some utopic liberal paradise where everybody believes the things you believe. If 50% of the country is not in agreement with you it’s not smart politics to call them ignorant every chance you get. Instead of working together and being the adults here a lot are deciding to break the toys instead of sharing them. Not only do they break their own toys, they also have plans to bomb (can I say bomb on blogs?) Santa’s workshop when all the elves are out getting wasted on eggnog. This is the main reason the “real” Democratic base distances themselves  from the lefty extremists. They are off living in a fantasy world while those they spend hours criticizing on blogs are at least trying to get something done.  

  4. jsfox

    for a brief, but important message.

    About That Enthusiasm Gap

    Republicans have been extremely excited about voting in this election all the way since the summer of 2009. GOP voters really can’t get any more enthused about voting this year than they already are. Democrats have been significantly lagging on this front for most of the cycle but there are indications it’s getting better. For instance our July national poll found 51% of Democrats ‘very excited’ about voting this fall. In September that figure had increased to 59%.

    Source: http://publicpolicypolling.blo

    Please carry on with what you were doing before I interrupted.  

  5. creamer

     While I support much of what the White House has done, I somtimes wonder if he hadn’t gone as big on health care if we would be in better shape this November. We still would not have got significant climate change legislation. We would still be in Afghanistan. If we had not gone so big on HCR would the blue-dogs and the Maine senators have been more agreeable to a second stimulus? I suspect not.

    But we might have a better chance of holding congress. The far left is pitching a fit but had Obama gone more incremental on health care they would still be mad, but the center would be happier. They seem unable too understand that.

    When the woman at the backyard chat told the president she was “tired of defending you” she was underlining how fucked up the left is right now. He could have very easily given her a civics lesson on how our republic works and mentioned that he was tired of ungrateful suppoters who don’t realize how much he/we have acomplished.

     Last thing, how many wonder if the Federal Mandate for healthcare will hold up in court. I’m not a law scholar(not a scholar period actually),but if that goes to the Supremes I’m thinking toss up.  

  6. HappyinVT

    the mid-terms.  One seems to believe that voting Dem is rewarding them for the job they’ve done (or not done) while the second sees whatever job the Dems do as certainly better than the alternative under the current crop of Republicans.  I see the argument ~ really I do.  However, we certainly know that most Congresspeople don’t really suffer in the end; they don’t need the money and most become victims of historical obscurity  so no one should really think an electorally defeated Reid is the same as a defeated Reid.  The time to send a message to Dems via the vote is during the primary not the GE.  And anyone who says today’s Dems are the same as the Republicans needs to have their head shoved up their ass.  :)

    I’ve said before that I understand people will be disappointed ~ I dare say we all have some legitimate gripe with Congress and the Administration.  Screeching at each other, namecalling, refusing to listen are certainly not ways to drive a point home.  Always assuming the worst just gives you a headache.

    I also find it funny that many who are professing disappointment claim to have never expected much in the first place.  Or people will argue over the meaning of a sentence, or word, in a speech.  I remember last summer a discussion over verb tense in an Axelrod interview.  Yesterday, Elizabeth Warren lost some of her “progressive cred” with a few because of a speech she gave, although the quote wasn’t given the correct context.

    But maybe Obama will make Howard Dean CoS and things will be rosy again.  😛

  7. Jjc2008

    I will always vote.

    But I am a liberal, or a progressive or both or maybe I am just a dirty f*cking old hippie.  As I aged, I was more patient. But when I was patient with Clinton, the progressives trashed me.  When I wanted Hillary, I was trashed as not left enough.

    So this conversation sort of amuses me.

    Will I vote for Obama.  Of course.  It’s a no brainer.  Do I feel let down?  Absolutely.  I really felt the only differences between Obama and Hillary were she was more “hawkish” (which I did not like), but she was more pro public education (which I liked).   I also feel she and Obama were more similar on health care, though I felt without the mandates, HCR was a wash.

    I wish we had gotten more on HCR but I doubt any admin could have since the insurance lobby is so powerful.   I think Obama has turned out to be as hawkish as Hillary seemed to be….  but I am not expert on foreign relations.  I say little because I honestly don’t know what I think is the right way to handle any of it.

    I am disappointed in the whole education debate.  I despise the Arne Duncan mentality and as a forty year veteran of public education, I am angry at how easily the right wing spin has taken hold with progressives.

    Yesterday, on Andrea Mitchell, I was saddened and appalled at yet another “education nation” pushing the destruction of public ed conversation.   Continuing on the blame the unions meme, Andrea in dramatic fashion speaks of how a young, idealistic teacher wants to meet with her class on Saturdays and “the union won’t let her work on Saturdays at school.”  I am sure many, including some here, will believe that bs.

    Did anyone get to ask these questions:

    “Where does she want to meet with them?  At the school?  Does she know that public schools turn off the heat or AC on weekends and that the cost of heating the school for an extra day would have to be approved.   And oh yea, how do the students get there?  Can’t bus them.  So they walk.  But wait, by law there must be crossing guards.  And if one student does not show up, who calls to make sure the parents know the child did not show up?  How about lunch? Or if it’s a couple of hours only, who is in the building to answer the phones if a child does not get home?”

    In forty years, I can tell you that tons of teachers go to school on Saturdays just to work on lesson plans.   We have to have a code to get in, and then reset it.  When we don’t do that right, the alarm goes off and police and firefighters show up.  The cost of that alone is problematic.  But we do it.

    Maybe in the good old days, pre law suits, pre security alarm systems on the schools, this would work.  And if this so called “idealistic” teacher wanted to work with the kids after hours, all the union does is inform you of the risks.  You can certainly choose to pick up a child in your own car, go to the library, or your home, or stay at their home and tutor them.   But if a child is injured, if you are accused of something, then neither the school’s or the union’s lawyers are at your disposal.   It’s reality folks.  Just like doctors, nurses, take a risk treating someone outside their practice, hospital etc, so do teachers.  But we all do it when we deem it necessary.   We CHOOSE to take the risks.  The district and the union simply warn teachers……that there is a risk.  

    The spin game has saddened me.  

    But in the end, I simply and STRONGLY disagree with the Obama administration on education.  And I am disappointed at the scapegoating by the progressive community.   Educators are not the only ones disillusioned and disappointed.   Labor in general is disappointed, as are many in the Gay and Lesbian communities.  However many in labor and education were disappointed with Bill Clinton too.  We get that it happens.  

    Doesn’t mean people won’t vote.  At least it shouldn’t. However, in midterms it is harder to convince people to do so.  However, trashing them for being disappointed is not the answer.  

    Obama and Biden need to stomp and continue stomping.  I think Obama’s last speech (in Wisconsin) is what we need more of.   Yes, they have accomplished many things, but they still have more to do and more constituents to whom to listen.  I will not stop pushing for the things I think are important but I am certainly not going to vote against progressive.   My candidate for senate here is not my first choice.  Bennet is as centrist as it gets.  But the alternative takes us backwards.

    So let’s distinguish between what the media spins (the enthusiasm gap) and reality.   Getting young people, labor, educators, gay/lesbian community out to vote is essential.   One does not do that by trashing these groups.

  8. spacemanspiff

    It’s the 50th anniversary of the Flintstones, the ideological founders of the Tea Party movement.

    Heh.

  9. Shaun Appleby

    For all the ‘center-right’ positioning of the Obama administration I wonder what the aftermath of the midterms might look like:


    My guess is that with powerful Clinton administration veterans like Summers and Emanuel gone, Obama will try to recapture the anti-establishment mojo he had in his 2008 campaign, and that rather than tacking right, he’ll try to reconnect with his liberal base by demonizing the newly empowered congressional Republicans. His decision to pick a fight on the Bush tax cuts and to personally attack House Republican leader John Boehner suggests that he’s seeking to shape the coming partisan brawl, not avoid it. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. Barack Obama has no Dick Morris in his past, and his longtime advisers from Chicago, David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett, whose influence will only grow with Emanuel and Summers gone, have nothing like Morris’ ideological ambidexterity.

    Fundamentally, Bill Clinton triangulated after the 1994 midterms because he believed America was a center-right nation. I don’t think Barack Obama believes that, which is why he won’t triangulate. By the fall of 2012, we should know if he was right.

    Peter Beinart – Exit Rahm. Left Turn Ahead. Daily Beast 1 Oct 10

    I’ve had this hunch for awhile but kind of figured it would be the narrative of his second term.  We’ll see, but it would suit me and turn around the narrative a bit.  A lot depends on what the legislative outcomes, if any, are after November but I expect to see the executive drawing a ‘line in the sand’ whatever the majorities.

  10. Shaun Appleby

    The ‘stimulus:’


    People of good faith can disagree over whether President Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package is creating enough jobs, piling on too much debt or helping the country in the long run. But it’s about time to retire one set of critiques of the stimulus: that it would be riddled with fraud, hamstrung by delays and crippled by cost overruns. So far, while the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is clearly not a political success, it is just as clearly a managerial success – on schedule, under budget and, according to independent investigators, remarkably free of fraud.

    Michael Grunwald – It’s Official: The Stimulus Isn’t a Waste of Money Time 1 Oct 10

    And it’s not ‘piling on too much debt.’  It’s likely to turn a small profit.

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