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NC legislators’ answer to rising sea levels? Make rising sea levels illegal!

A recent short article in Scientific American by North Carolina native Scott Huler outlines the latest loony southern denial of science.

In the face of forecasts that Atlantic Ocean levels will rise by more than three feet before the end of the century, a group of 20 legislators from coastal counties in North Carolina have introduced a bill in the State House of Representatives that would make measurements of anything more than incremental changes in sea level against the law.

“We’ve got resorts to build and we don’t care what the rest of the ocean does—our sea isn’t going to rise by more than 15.6 inches,” writes Huler. “Because otherwise it’s against the law.”

The full, contorted explanation of the bizarre law—“mental gymnastics” is the term used by a Bible scholar I quote in Better Off Without ’Em to describe the way fundamental southerners justify their medieval decrees—is outlined in the article.

Huler stretches a bit to tie the proposed legal limitation on sea levels (goddamn Atlantic Ocean!) to the state’s recent constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. (Goddamn gays!) Not that I should talk—I managed to shoehorn a mini Survivor rant into a recent blog post of my own about southern schools.

Mostly, though, the article is both a typically funny and typically depressing piece about a part of the country where, when weighing the pros and cons of policy issues, the people and their elected officials often as not, as Huler notes, bury their heads in the swamp muck and allow ignorance and wishful thinking to hold sway over things like scientific evidence and basic observation of reality.

The article is linked above and also here.

Psycho school psychologists, teabaggers (the original kind) and Carolina snatch flashers. This is why they think Obama is a socialist and the Civil War was about states’ rights

The chapter dedicated to education in Better Off Without ‘Em is titled “The Three Rs of Modern Southern Schools—Revenue, Resentment, Resegregation.”

It attempts to explain why southern students historically rank at the bottom of virtually all traditional measures of academic performance.

High school graduation rates. SAT scores. Basic literacy. Rebel states reliably dominate the lowest strata of all these categories.

There are empiric reasons for the less-than-robust classroom performance of southerners. Despite prevailing wisdom in some unenlightened corners, however, one of them is not that southerners are simply dumber than the rest of the country.

It’s just that they act like it so much of the time.


Louisiana public school shrink wants to exterminate “young black thugs”


Perhaps the year’s most hideous example of southern academic deficiency (I’d call it “shocking,” but these types of stories are all too common in Dixie; several are covered in Better Off) is the case of a school psychologist in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, named Mark Traina.

Concerned with what he allegedly calls the “Black Army of Thugs” currently rampaging against the American way of life, Traina spends his down time presenting his schooled racial insight on the Internet and Twitter.

His alleged final solution for dealing the scourge of black youth currently poxing Louisiana is for them to be “put down not incarcerated. Put down like the Dogs they are!”

A molder of young southern minds, Traina, of course, also swears he’s not a racist. Just a realist.

Gawker posts the Traina story beneath the humorously straightforward slug: “THAT’S RACIST.”

I don’t follow Gawker as obsessively as some people I know, but, given this type of rapier commentary, maybe I should.


CBS and University of Alabama Survivor Colton try to teach nation a lesson in race relations


Traina’s “Just because I rage against young black men doesn’t mean I’m a racist” ilk isn’t hard to find in the South, as any fan of Survivor can tell you.

The worst TV moment of the year so far has to be the recent Survivor season-finale effort to rehabilitate the image of the show’s resident racist and proudly gay cracker, Colton Cumbie, the superior southern belle who in the grand tradition of xenophobic lynch spirit harassed and bullied black and Asian players on the reality show.

In one of the most shameless an callow reality performances since everything that happened on last week’s Bachelor/Bachelorette (yes, I somehow keep up with this shit), Survivor producers dragged Cumbie’s mother onto the show for a repellant display of the old “We’re not racist, that’s just people misrepresenting us poor southerners” routine.

This after the misunderstood Coltie’s own phony display of repentance somehow failed to connect with anybody north of Hayfoot, Mississippi.

At least the nauseating support of the University of Alabama student and Bama native might finally give me a reason to stop watching that goddamn time suck of a show, especially since Survivor producers seem to be hinting at bringing Cumbie back next season.

As one audience member on the show explained, Cumbie’s bigoted southern swagger is just “good television.”

True enough, I guess—news coverage of fire hoses and German shepherds during Civil Rights unrest in the 1950s and ‘60s was a ratings winner and helped make the careers of journos like Mike Wallace. CBS, apparently, doesn’t easily forget lessons of the past.


More glorious southern academic tradition: football and teabaggers


Less portentous, though disturbing in its own way, is the continuing court wrangle over the case of the University of Alabama fan who teabagged an incapacitated Louisiana State University student after Alabama defeated LSU in January’s college football championship game.

The triumphant fan then posted the video of his Yellowhammer jammer perched magnificently on the passed-out student’s neck.

The de-poised LSU fan has since filed a civil damages complaint against the Bama booster and his championship balls.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune has all the sweaty details.

I have to say, the whole teabagging spectacle has never made much sense to me. Sure, it sucks to pass out and have some guy’s spunk sack drooping over your head, but is it really that much less publicly humiliating for the teabagger himself to be seen with his junk on a drunk?

If you’re gonna get that close to your fantasy then get all Ted Haggard and try to wash everything away with the “I was just wasted, out of my mind, I didn’t know what I was doing” excuse, why stop there? Why not just go all the way and shove your pipe in the guy’s mouth and get it over with?


North Carolina vag flash


Appropriate, in light of all this turgid action, that the Dixie school year would end with a case of the vapors overtaking residents of Lake Norman, North Carolina.

Genteel Lake Normanites there were scandalized after the local high school yearbook printed a photo of a female student supposedly flashing her cooch while wearing her cap and gown.

The particulars of the photo are in dispute. Is that real genitalia or merely an unfortunate gown flap? (And, poor thing, should it really be all that hard to tell the difference?

I’m sure dedicated Googlists can find the un-doctored original photo somewhere, though all the versions I found have the student’s face and crotch obscured with those criminally insinuating black bars. The photo is reportedly on page 14 of the hot-selling Lake Norman High School yearbook, a certain future eBay treasure.

I have no idea if the picture shows genitalia or not, but the best comment I found on the uproar comes from In presenting a local news video account of the incident, Complex writes: “Here’s an entire news report on the subject. Lake Norman, nestled in North Carolina, is obviously not that popping of a town.”

Even less so, thankfully, now that the school year is about over.

It’s “pitchy” and “dog,” but not in a Randy Jackson way

7 types of baseball ballpark eaters

A taxonomy of dining-types around the Big Leagues

Even if you hate hot dogs. Even if you fear all the nitrates, hormones, cow lips, anal flaps and sawdust pumped into them. Even if stuffing a slippery, pink, semi-rigid flesh pole approximately six inches in length into your mouth incites repellant sexual imagery, there’s one place in the world where you’ll not only eat a toxic meat missile slathered in mustard water, but smile and burp out an order for a second.

The ballpark.

Where else, after all, would you pay $14 to horse down chewy pizza and stale Cracker Jack at 8 o’ clock on a Wednesday night, much less shout “Dirty Sanchez!” at Latin ballplayers whose names suddenly strike you as hilarious four $8 Miller Lites into your evening?

Full story here on Food Republic …



U.S. govt. spending millions to honor seditionists, slaveholders, Klan defenders

Among the many properties destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was Beauvoir, the seaside Mississippi estate where disgraced Confederate president Jefferson Davis (he was indicted for treason and stripped of his American citizenship following the Civil War), lived out his final days.

Beauvoir is where Davis spun out his outrageously bullshit post-war history of the Confederacy, giving rise to, among other notions, the ideas that slavery had nothing to do with the “War of Yankee Aggression.” And that the South was actually the victimized party in the war, despite the fact that it was the South that actually started by the Civil War by attacking American troops at Fort Sumter in April 1861.

Yeah, and Japan didn’t bomb Pearl Harbor, either. That’s basically the logic of Davis and 150 subsequent years of Confederate revisionists.

But the bigger outrage today is that the U.S. government has now awarded Beauvoir and its Sons of Confederate Veteran caretakers $14.5 million to reconstruct the ruined estate. The plans include construction of an imposing and elaborate Jefferson Davis Presidential Library.

Weirder still is that the money is coming from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, aka FEMA.

I wonder how many houses and apartments in New Orleans and around the Gulf $14.5 million might build or repair? Once again, “heckuva job,” FEMA.

The story outlining this bizarre use of federal funds appears in the May 2012 issue of Harper’s magazine beneath the headline, “Unreconstructed: The federal government builds a shrine to its archenemy.”

You need an account to access stories on the Harper’s website (and the article isn’t even posted yet, anyway). The author of the piece is Daniel Brook. Here’s a link to Brook’s website. It’s worth picking up the mag off the shelf to read the two-page piece.

According to Harper’s/Brook, once the Jefferson Davis library is finished the entry will bear the Great Seal of the Confederacy and the Latin motto “Deo Vindice” (“God Will Vindicate”).

The Beauvoir madness and hypocrisy is reminiscent of grudge-bearing, division-promoting Confederate monuments splattered all over the South, several of which I cover in Better Off Without ’Em.

In Abbeville, South Carolina, for example, the inscription on the Confederate monument in the middle of town is basically a declaration of eternal sedition: “The world shall yet decide, in truth’s clear far-off light, that the soldiers who wore the gray and died with Lee were right.”

Unbelievable. Imagine statues of SS soldiers inscribed with quotes from Mein Kampf in every little town in Germany.

By the way, Abbeville’s stately monument wasn’t erected in the emotional aftermath of war in 1865, but in 1906 and then in a ceremony replacing the original with a new one in 1996.

“The world shall yet decide in truth’s clear far off light, that the soldiers who wore the gray and died with Lee were right.”

Not that the soldiers were patriotic. Or courageous. Or true to some ill-begotten sense of duty. They were right.

The only possible interpretation of this statement is that the cause for which the South fought—dissolution of the United States in order that the South might preserve slavery and, thus, the economic underpinnings and political clout of its privileged class—was a morally righteous mission that still resonates today.

A lot of people hear the title Better Off Without ’Em and assume the book is nothing more than a Yankee assault against rednecks, mucous snorters and sleeveless simpletons.

But the real point is that “better off without ’em” cuts both ways.

Maybe martyrdom is just part of the regional character, but if southerners really feel so strongly about venerating the ideals and carnage launched by a bunch of slaveholding elites with their heads so far up their asses that they started a war with a far larger, wealthier and more mechanized force that today they’d build a $14.5 million shrine to honor those ideals rather than help fellow citizens in need, why not go ahead and live in that country instead of having to just fantasize about it?

Commies still haunt the southern mind

You hear a lot about southerners wanting to re-fight the Civil War. What you don’t hear is that far more of them want to re-fight the wars of the 1950s and ’60s.

I include a few examples in BETTER OFF WITHOUT ’EM, but the batshit du jour from the southern GOP is a fresh case in point.

Recalling the good times paranoia of Joe McCarthy, Florida U.S. Representative Allen West is claiming the U.S. government and opposition party are crawling with commmies.

At a public event last night, West responded to a question about Marxists in the American legislature by saying, “I believe there is about 78 to 81 members of the Democratic Party that are members of the Communist Party.”

Here’s a Washington Post link to the story.

West isn’t an isolated ghost hunter.

Imaginary communist subversion was a running theme of a startling number of conversations I had in the South during book research.

Do you know about the million-strong Chinese army currently sitting on a Caribbean island awaiting the signal to invade the United States? As I found out in Alabama, there are plenty among the trailer park gentry and possum patriot set who will swear to you it’s true.

South Carolina is most dysfunctional state in America

In BETTER OFF WITHOUT ‘EM, I nominate South Carolina as the most dysfunctional state in the country and outline the “7 Deadly Sins of Southern Politics,” among them willful obstruction of government.

South Carolina governor Nikki Haley’s recent appearance on The Colbert Report underscored my arguments.

It also offered a funny and fascinating look at why her state, and the South as a whole, dominate virtually every state-by-state breakdown of social ills in this country.

Colbert introduced the governor with a secession joke (lots of southerners venerate Dixie’s secessionist history, though when they see it mentioned in books like mine the same people pretend to have massive emotional breakdowns over the very idea) and went on to call South Carolina politics “just one notch above Honduras.”

Haley laughed and agreed with the “joke.”

The ensuing exchange highlighted Haley’s slavish devotion to the southern pol’s time-honored strategy of obstructionism, which places blind, bitter resistance above the interests of constituents.

Colbert: What is next for South Carolina? How’s unemployment going down there?

Haley: It’s down for the seventh month in a row.

Colbert: Really?

Haley: Yes.

Colbert: And we’re not gonna credit Obama for that, are we?

Haley: No, we are not. (Laugh, shit-eating grin.)

You can see the full interview here.

I don’t begrudge anyone their political philosophy, but there’s a difference between opposition and sabotage.

Haley may be Indian American, but she’s showing herself to be nothing more than part of a grudge-bearing, crybaby and ultimately destructive southern political tradition that reaches back to the 1800s.

Her “Honduran” approach to governance is in lockstep with blinded-by-hate rebel pissants such as South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint, who in 2009 promised to make health care reform “Obama’s Waterloo.”

Apparently, as far as pols like Haley and DeMint are concerned, it’s better to continue a brain-dead opposition to a majority-elected American government than it is to safeguard the well being of their people.

According to the state of South Carolina’s own figures, which I found online today (five-year-old figures, but they seem to be the most recent posted by the state), South Carolina ranks first in the nation in the rate of stroke victims, third in diabetes, third in infant mortality, fifth in adult obesity, sixth in hypertension, cough, cough, cough and, here’s the inevitable kicker, eighteenth in residents who have no health insurance.

Jim DeMint must be proud.

According to the latest federal government unemployment figures (ending February 2012), by the way, South Carolina is also tied for sixth among states with the highest unemployment rate.

But, hey, fuck any government that’s reversing a losing trend if that government happens to be run by a bunch of socialist, godless northerners.

What defines “The South”?

When putting together BETTER OFF WITHOUT ‘EM, I gave a lot of thought to accurately presenting “The South” in terms of its most significant cultural totems.

In the end, I decided on chapters critiquing the region’s six most important societal pillars: religion, politics, race, education, economics and SEC football.

Football was in some ways the trickiest inclusion.

I’m feeling somewhat vindicated about the selections, however, after reading a definition of southerndom from Oxford American founder and editor Marc Smirnoff.

In a recent essay in which he harshes on fellow iconic southern mag Garden & Gun for its misguided view of southern culture, Smirnoff writes:


“In a recent segment on CBS This Morning, the current editor of Garden & Gun, David DiBenedetto, was asked if “any subjects [were] off-limits” to the magazine.

DiBenedetto: “Yeah. Politics, religion, and SEC football.”

This produced a chortle from the segment’s correspondent, Jeff Glor: “No way! No how!”

You could tell Glor thought that the juxtaposing of SEC football with politics and religion was precious. (So precious, in fact, that it allowed him not to question what it means to ban politics and religion from a portrayal of a people and region.)

G&G falsifies the South it purports to cover, because a South without SEC football, politics, and religion is a false South. How can one miss this?

Speaking of misses, there is one more subject that seems just as off-limits in the pages of Garden & Gun as SEC football, politics, and religion, but it is not mentioned by G&G editors or noticed by media reporters.

I refer, of course, to race.”


I’m not sure Smirnoff will care any more for my book than he does for G&G, but it’s nice to know we agree on at least a few big points.

Smirnoff’s article is called “G&G Me With a Buccelatti Silver Spoon! The OA Editor Objects to Media-Falsifications of the South” and you can read it here.

Better Off Without ‘Em on iTunes

“Better Off Without ‘Em” is now available for pre-order on iTunes.

The book will be released in all formats in August 2012.

"Better Off Without ‘Em" book update

To answer a few questions that occasionally show up in my email inbox:

Yes, this website is still active.

Yes, I am at work on a book about the American South.

Yes, the projected title is “Better Off Without ‘Em: A Northern Manifesto for Southern Secession.”

Yes, the scheduled publication date is August 2012.

Yes, I suck for not being on Facebook and rarely updating this site.

I’m at work on all of the above.

Genuine thanks for your interest and emails.


Oregon vs. Auburn: Oregon oracle best prognosticator in nation

Given my contentious appearance on the Alabama-based Paul Finebaum show back in August—see previous post—I may have been obsessing about this season’s Pac-10/SEC crash course more than most.

But maybe no more than Kyle Sponseller, whose summer 2010 blog post (link also at bottom) I came across this week during my obsessive rounds for more Duck vs. Auburn info. I hope Sponseller had the wherewithal to plunk some Vegas futures money down on the Ducks back in August.

Sponseller’s predictions for the Duck season are uncanny. Check the date of the post (August 27, 2010) and behold his Nostredamian clairvoyance. Not only did he predict an undefeated season for Oregon, he forecast the season of blowouts that took everyone by surprise and predicted many scores with stunning nearness.

A few examples:

Sponseller’s August prediction: Ducks 63, New Mexico 3
Actual score: Ducks 72, New Mexico 0

Sponseller’s August prediction: Ducks 45, Tennessee 14
Actual score: Ducks 48, Tennessee 13

Sponseller’s August prediction: Ducks 48, Washington State 13
Actual score: Ducks 42, New Mexico 23

Sponseller’s August prediction: Ducks 38, Oregon State 21
Actual score: Ducks 37, Oregon State 20

The second-best part? He actually picked the Cal game to be the close one, picking the Ducks to win 24-21 (they won 15-13).

Yes, Sponseller missed a few details: he picked Nate Costa to win last summer’s quarterback battle, forecast a nail-biter against Arizona and figured Alabama to win the SEC.

Still, for a UO journalism student who hopes for a career in sports journalism (inasmuch as such a thing exists), he’s off to a crazy start.

Oh, yeah, the best part of his predictions? Oregon wins the national championship by beating the SEC champion 35-31 in Glendale, Arizona.

I’ll be on hand with the Duck crew to see it in-person this coming Monday.

Sponseller’s August 27, 2010 post: