Elliott Brack – LikeTheDew.com http://likethedew.com A journal of progressive Southern culture and politics Wed, 19 Sep 2018 10:58:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 http://likethedew.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/cropped-DewLogoSquare825-32x32.png Elliott Brack – LikeTheDew.com http://likethedew.com 32 32 No Man Is Above the Law in the USA: That Includes President Trump http://likethedew.com/2018/06/10/no-man-is-above-the-law-in-the-usa-that-includes-president-trump/ http://likethedew.com/2018/06/10/no-man-is-above-the-law-in-the-usa-that-includes-president-trump/#respond Mon, 11 Jun 2018 03:59:02 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=69292

It’s just like the little fellow who cried “Wolf!” too often, which after a while no one paid much attention to his panicking.

That’s the way I’ve come to feel about the many Tweets that President Trump continues to send out. He had adopted this way to “reach the people” in spectacular fashion, though it may hurt him as much as he thinks it helps.

No other president has been so open about his thoughts, diplomatic, political or personal, as he has. Some may say that this form of communication is good. It certainly is an innovative way to let many know his feelings. Their ramifications must keep his staff in dithers.

But the many Tweets have less impact today, since some people have stopped paying attention to them. Now if only the media would put these Tweets into perspective more, or even stop reporting each of them.

Absolute Pardon TweetEvery now and then one Tweet looks larger. In a Tweet on Monday, the president declared that he has the “absolute right” to pardon himself for any crime.

Let’s think some about that Tweet.

First, does this mean that the president even himself recognizes that he has committed some crime? That in itself is scary.

But mainly, is there any American in the entire country, even those favoring the president, who believes our president is above all of the laws of this country? That seems a far reach.

From time to time, the Supreme Court, in creating new rulings, sometimes turns the country on its ear. Brown vs. Board of Education, for one, and Roe vs. Wade, have both led the way in changing the minds of lots of people .

But nowhere in the 200+ year history of the United States has any one president declared himself to be a person with absolute power. That’s not the American way.

And it is unthinkable in our republic.

We have three branches of government, each with their own distinct elements, to guide our nation. Each is a separate, though equal, element of our government, and each has served our nation well in guiding our country.

We hope that our country never gets to the stage where President Trump has to inveigh a pardon to himself. That would be disastrous to his presidency. It would also probably convince enough Republican senators to vote with the Democrats and impeach the president.

We certainly hope that it doesn’t come to that.

Remember President Trump by his very nature is primarily a negotiator. We suspect even he realizes he can’t pardon himself, but is full of bluster and is merely trying to reinforce his connection with followers in putting this out this Tweet. We must live with him feeling this way, at least for two years, if not six years.

Yet can someone rule absolutely? Maybe in the past, and maybe even today…..in Russia. But not in the United States of America.

Having someone think of himself as a ruler, a dictator, able to pardon his own self if he does something wrong? That, simply, is not the American way.

Our country was developed with the idea that no man is above the law. That cornerstone of our government most certainly applies to the president, too.

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Americans distinctively thrive under our Bill of Rights http://likethedew.com/2017/05/31/americans-distinctively-thrive-under-our-bill-of-rights/ http://likethedew.com/2017/05/31/americans-distinctively-thrive-under-our-bill-of-rights/#respond Wed, 31 May 2017 10:18:09 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=67265 Bill of Rights.]]>

 George Washington addresses the Constitutional Convention in 1787.

Most Americans probably don’t realize how unique are their individual rights, compared to people living under other governments.

Our Founding Fathers, in all their inspired wisdom, gave early Americans more rights than previously had any government anywhere in the world. Those same rights, often multiplied in some ways, remain a cornerstone of living in the United States and go a long way in defining what it is to be an American.

They are easily identified in our Bill of Rights.

Perhaps the most far reaching of our rights is found in the first amendment to the Constitution. Those 46 words of this amendment are mighty in several ways.

First, let the words of the First Amendment ring out themselves:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

We need to be aware of those words all the time.

The significant aspect is that these words have benefitted Americans since December 15, 1791, when Virginia became the 10th state to ratify the Bill of Rights, making them the law of the land.

So, Americans for nearly 250 years have enjoyed these freedoms. And I am persuaded that the very adoption of the Bill of Rights, and living under them all these years, has caused Americans to be distinctive from citizens of other nations. The American citizen knows and enjoys the freedoms expressed in these Bill of Rights. And because of these rights, he has thrived, innovated and grown, sometimes even taking on the government, as is his right, when he feels the government is not acting as it should.

Citizens of other nations are no doubt much more timid in their approach to their governments. After all, they are not armed with the rights that Americans have.

The concept of a free press, you note, is in the very first of these Bills of Rights. Look at all it gives our citizens: freedom of religion, and of exercising it; freedom of speech, and of the press, to assemble when they want, and to sue the government if a citizen has a beef with the government.

Wow! What great freedoms this gives us, that people of other nations do not enjoy.

Sometimes these freedoms produce actions that startle us. Even today’s much-discussed governmental leaks derive from our freedoms. After all, being free citizens allows people to take a different view sometimes from the way the government is acting. And if these people see something amiss, their backgrounds tell them this is not right, and they seek means to make these hidden actions made public.

Leaks about our government have been around for ages. They protect our citizens by making questionable governmental acts public, exposing shoddy actions, and protecting our citizens.

The most interesting aspect is that these leaks often come from average citizens, who recognize something amiss, and improves our nation by putting these secrets forward for open discussion.

No other nation enjoys the protection like our Constitution give us. These freedoms express themselves in many different ways, as our citizens live under the protection of the Constitution.

It’s something no other nation has, and is part of what makes the United States great.

Enjoy them as you thrive.

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Fairness in government is basic to laws and customs of our nation http://likethedew.com/2017/04/13/fairness-in-government-is-basic-to-laws-and-customs-of-our-nation/ http://likethedew.com/2017/04/13/fairness-in-government-is-basic-to-laws-and-customs-of-our-nation/#respond Thu, 13 Apr 2017 12:29:43 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=66872

Though it’s not stated in the U.S. Constitution, the quality of fairness is embodied in our government. After all, we are a nation of laws, and that alone speaks to reason and decorum in deliberations. Throw out fairness and you move toward chaos.

Without fairness, you raise questions of trust and partiality and bias, and even decorum.

This basis of fairness in our everyday lives extends to relationships and commerce. Without fairness, major questions arise in our day-to-day activities.

We raise these points in considering the recent confirmation of Neal Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. We congratulate him on his elevation from U.S. Court of Appeals from the 10th District. We presume that as a lawyer, Judge Gorsuch always thought such a position as desirable and sees this confirmation as the pinnacle of his legal career.

However, Judge Gorsuch’s name will always be associated with that of federal appellate Judge Merrick Garland, the choice last year of President Barack Obama for the vacancy created when Justice Antonin Scalia died unexpectedly on February 14, 2016.

A month later, on March 16, 2016, President Obama nominated Merrick Garland, the chief justice of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, to the Supreme Court. This was a normal procedure. Judge Garland was a reasonable and somewhat centrist choice, and his confirmation was anticipated.

Our country recognized that by having a nomination from a Democratic president, it was possible that this could influence the tenuous split on the Supreme Court, possibly giving centrist elements a 5-4 majority over conservative judges.

Then a bombshell struck! Senate Republicans maneuvered with what was a virtual pocket veto of the president’s choice. They simply announced that the Senate would not hold hearings on the potential justice.  With Republicans having a majority in the Senate, this derailed the president’s choice in making the nomination. And we had a divided 4-4 court all these months.

caricature of Mitch McConnell is by DonkeyHote
Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is the one elected official responsible for this unfair shenanigan and this usurping of the normal process.

This failure to hold hearings on Judge Garland smacks of downright unfairness.

The one elected official responsible for this unfair shenanigan and this usurping of the normal process is Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate majority leader. While there has been deep partisanship in Washington within the last decades, no element of policy has approached the level that this division has brought to our government.

This obvious partisanship is not confined to the Republicans. The Democratic Party also shares the blame for this continual divide.

But one person within the Republican Party, Senator McConnell, has been responsible for such a high level of unfairness in this selection of a new Supreme Court justice. Senator McConnell will go down in history as the architect for deep mistrust in the way the Senate has maneuvered in this nomination. Never in its years of history has it taken such a major step in uprooting established transition.

McConnell’s final move last week was having his Senate colleagues adopt the “nuclear option” of allowing only a majority of senators (not the normal 60) to confirm court nominees.  While Senator McConnell may delight in his victory now, this can come to haunt Republicans in future years, when as it usually happens, the party in power loses, and now has to abide by the same rules that it forged, without being in power.

And who’s to say when the Republicans will lose their current majorities? Sometimes the winds of government shift quickly, as Democrats now realize… and Republicans may soon.

We yearn for the days of established rule, a more courteous government, with objective equal treatment in an impartial and fair manner. Senator McConnell has ensured that we don’t have that now.

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Crumbling buildings in rural south Georgia can depress you http://likethedew.com/2017/03/29/crumbling-buildings-in-rural-south-georgia-can-depress-you/ http://likethedew.com/2017/03/29/crumbling-buildings-in-rural-south-georgia-can-depress-you/#comments Wed, 29 Mar 2017 15:51:47 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=66758

Delapidated South Georgia Farm House

Returning from South Georgia after attending a funeral this week, we got off the Interstates for a while, and enjoyed the less stressful driving on the back roads. All in all, it‘s much more enjoyable, too, as you see how the crops are doing (the Vidalias are green topped and ready for harvest), check out the small communities, and see Georgia in a way as it was in the past.

This time one particular element struck me: in much of rural Georgia, there are many, many homes, barns, and other outbuildings that are no longer in service, abandoned, deteriorating, and wasting away. The buildings remind you of nostalgic times. They sit there, virtually forgotten, a reminder of much of our past that was considerably more hardscrabble and tougher life than we have it today. It can depress you.

Often they are on land that has been virtually forgotten, no longer plowed, not even being used to grow timber, just worn out and not used for basic crops. It may tell us that it’s hard to get people to work the land these days, since farming does not always pay off handsomely.

Yet someone owns that land, and pays taxes on it, however low that may be.  On many acres of land in South Georgia, young pine trees are beginning to surge upward, though maybe only 3-4 feet tall, all laid out in precise rows. And yes, some farms lie fallow, timed to rotate crops.  Yet much other land and the abandoned building on it tells me that no one has plans to use this land anytime in the future.

It does not give a good impression for any part of the state to have an abundance of run down forlorn former homes and barns withering away for all to see. Oh, for the likes of some program, like Urban Renewal, which was used by cities, to clean up similar structures. But who would pay for this?  After all, it’s up to the landowner, and they see no return on it. But these same landowners have tractors, backhoes and even bulldozers that they use today in farming, and could simply attack these structures with these machines to give their land a better appearance. Yet what is the incentive?

Delapidated South Georgia BarnMany of the key county seat towns are deteriorating themselves, as seen by the many boarded-up buildings in these towns. Some point to modern retailing, with the Wal-Mart infusion, as contributing to this problem.

While much of North Georgia is progressive, you see an entirely different Georgia south of Augusta, Macon or Columbus. While there are a few pockets of progress, such as seen in Douglas, Dublin, Thomasville, Statesboro, Tifton and Americus, they are few and far between. Much more common are communities which are not attractive to development, and seemingly wasting away. There is little incentive for outside individuals or firms to move into these communities.

Yet every once in a while, a firm will move into rural South Georgia, and rave about their good fortune to locate there. They cite a willing and happy labor force, and note how dependable they are. There just don’t seem to be enough of these companies who think this way and want to locate in South Georgia.

Much of our rural areas may never be the pristine, neat areas we would want. But a little house-cleaning, so to speak, or bulldozing would make the areas much more attractive.

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Gerrymandering rampant http://likethedew.com/2017/01/29/gerrymandering-rampant/ http://likethedew.com/2017/01/29/gerrymandering-rampant/#respond Sun, 29 Jan 2017 15:38:41 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=66250

“Late in 1788, just after Virginia voted to ratify the Constitution and join the union, former Governor Patrick Henry persuaded the state legislature to remake the Fifth Congressional District, forcing Henry’s political enemy James Madison to run against the formidable James Monroe. The ploy failed and Madison won anyway, eventually becoming the nation’s fourth president. Monroe’s career wasn’t over, though: He succeeded Madison as president.” (From the Library of Congress.)

It’s a menace to democracy, awkward, unnatural, outlandish, usually circuitous and often a patchwork, difficult to envision.  Right now, however, it’s within the law, and its outcomes are hard to understand.

I’m talking about some of the nation’s 435 Congressional districts.

The term “gerrymandering” has been around since the early days of our nation. Today’s hard-nosed Congressional manipulators make sure that the Congressional districts are often drawn to favor one particular party. It can happen in any of the states, with the political party in power when the lines are being redrawn being the culprit, trying to squeeze out for the next 10 years the opposing party.

A chart illustrating gerrymandering in its most basic form – how to steal an election by Steven Nass via Wikipedia.org and used under a Creative Commons license

Some observers say that such gerrymandering amounts to the politicians picking their voters, instead of the people picking their politicians. By squeezing more votes from one party into a concentrated zone, the picking party can maintain control of its Congressional seats better.

Therefore, the way the district lines are drawn is often crooked, unwieldy, unsightly, sometimes pits natural enemies in the same district, and causes great confusion among voters as to the district in which they reside.

Boundaries for North Carolina’s 12th United States Federal Congressional District created by the US Department of the Interior (Public Domain) via Flickr
Boundaries for NC’s 12th US Congressional District

Take a look at North Carolina District 12 (below). Now for the life of me, I can’t tell you whether it is represented by a Republican, Democrat or Independent. This District extends from Guilford County in the north (Greensboro and High Point area) to Charlotte in Mecklenburg County, is strange.  Just look at the district map again. Does this look like a naturally-formed district, with constituents having similar overall interests, other than Interstate 85?

Map showing Georgia Congressional Districts by John S. Quarterman via Flickr and used under a Creative Commons license
Map showing Georgia Congressional Districts

Fortunately, we in Georgia don’t have such unusually-drawn districts as some states. About Georgia’s worst is David Scott’s 13th District, which stretches from parts of Henry County westward including parts of Clayton, Fulton, Douglas counties and part of Cobb. At least these are in the same metro area, where the North Carolina District 12 has portions of Greensboro, Winston-Salem and Charlotte within its borders.

Understand, recently the Democrats have particularly been hurt by gerrymandering, as more state legislatures (which often draws the district lines) have been controlled by Republicans. But the GOP doesn’t have a strangle hold on gerrymandering. Both parties try to use it to their benefit.  It needs to be outlawed.

Some 37 states let the legislature draw the lines. Four states have independent commissions, and nine states have advisory, back-up or political groups drawing the lines. (Ballotpedia.)

Congressional redistricting methods by state via Ballotpedia.org
Congressional redistricting methods by state

Meanwhile, Democrats, hurt most recently by Republican gerrymandering, have enlisted former Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. to lead the fight against Congressional gerrymandering. He anticipates attacking this effort through the courts; on the campaign trail; and through ballot referendums. It could  prove to be a major effort seeking to bring more order back to government.

Attacking gerrymandering is not an easy operation. Right now the focus will be on the redrawing of lines in 2022, after the 2020 census determines state populations. But with so many Congressmen in safe seats, even a successful anti-gerrymandering operation may not make great strides until 2032. Many of us won’t be around to see this campaign come to victory.

Gerrymandering: today it’s worse than you think.

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Trump administration may be turning point for our government http://likethedew.com/2017/01/14/trump-administration-may-be-turning-point-for-our-government/ http://likethedew.com/2017/01/14/trump-administration-may-be-turning-point-for-our-government/#respond Sat, 14 Jan 2017 08:00:33 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=66112

Donald Reagan caricature by DonkeyHotey

Thinking back politically into the middle of 2016, I must admit that I began to wonder if the GOP challenger Donald Trump might be moving the United States toward a seminal and decisive change.

The question came into my mind, “Will Trump be a person who will have a transformative moment to the political system similar to the way Ronald Reagan changed the Republican Party?”

Yet in questioning this new phenom on the political scene, we never thought it would bring massive questions to the government. We merely thought that this would be something that would change the Republican Party.

How wrong I was.  Indeed it appears that Donald Trump captured a wave of sentiment among the American people.  They wanted more than just small tinkering with our government. Many of the Trump supporters want wholesale changes.

All this was during a time when it appeared that the front-runner was Hillary Clinton, who had a proven and well thought-out platform, not some off-the-cuff program to shoot from the hip as Donald Trump was doing. Our thinking went: how could a country expect to get good government from such a blow-hard as Donald Trump, especially when the alternative was a person loaded with years of political experience, both in the halls of the White House, and in the Senate?

Many of us did not recognize the baggage that Mrs. Clinton hauled around with her. We did not understand the depth of voters with sometimes pure hatred for her candidacy. While both candidates had low rankings in the eyes of the people, it just seemed like Mrs. Clinton’s time was due, and surely the women of this country would flock to her support.

We were wrong.

The flocking was of another nature, not male-female, not philosophical, but more of a gut nature.  Many people, especially in key states, favored the shoot-from-the-hip of Donald Trump. Mrs. Clinton’s unpopularity was her undoing. We now realize that she was a flawed candidate.

We also thought that the often-discussed Electoral College would be Mrs. Clinton’s salvation. By focusing on close races in key states, such as Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and even in Ohio, we figured that Mrs. Clinton would capture the majority of votes in these states, giving her the electoral victory, even if she should lose the popular vote.

The exact opposite happened. She lost these key states, and even North Carolina, too, which provided the margin of electoral votes to make Mr. Trump the president. We thought the electoral college would be the salvation of Mrs. Clinton.  But it proved to be savior of the of the Trump campaign, even though Mrs. Clinton won the popular vote.

We have no problem with the electoral college. We still think it is a protective device against having some popular person just paying attention to key states, and forgetting the lesser areas of this country. It makes a person’s vote in every state really count in the balloting for the presidency. If we relied solely on the popular vote, small states would really be disenfranchised.  The Founding Fathers understood this, and gave us an apparatus that still works.  Mr. Trump’s election proves it.

Years from now, we suspect people will see the election of Donald Trump as a major turning point in the history of the United States. How it will turn out is up for grabs, but for sure, on January 20 the United States will make a definite turn. We hope it takes us down the road to better government, though we can’t think now what that will be.

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Remembering a friend who served a unique nonprofit board service http://likethedew.com/2016/11/29/remembering-a-friend-who-served-a-unique-nonprofit-board-service/ http://likethedew.com/2016/11/29/remembering-a-friend-who-served-a-unique-nonprofit-board-service/#comments Tue, 29 Nov 2016 16:01:42 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=65745

It’s best to have all types of people making up a nonprofit board.

A good board consists of people coming at problems from several different angles, creating a board of advisers who can successfully lead the institution toward a good path. You want full and fair discussion, and not people who are essentially “Yes” persons who go along with whatever someone proposes.

Every idea that comes up doesn’t need to see the continual light of day.

Let me tell you of one significant board member.

Elliott Brack
Elliott Brack

He was the late Bill Fields, who joined a board that I was once chairing, The Red and Black Publishing Company, which oversaw the operations of what was then the daily Red and Black newspaper at the University of Georgia.  Mr. Fields was a perfect candidate for the board, I thought, since he had been for many years managing editor of The Atlanta Constitution. While the newspaper had an editor and a publisher, Mr. Fields was the top person in the newsroom. He had been a veteran of many years in leading this news team in producing a high-quality, newsy edition each day (something I miss today.)

When Bill began attending the quarterly meetings of the Red and Black Board, I was most pleased. But then I got worried. Bill was punctual in getting to the meetings, usually in Athens, and would also attend when we met at other places, in Atlanta, or on the coast, or at some other site in Georgia.  We had a good board, and good attendance at the meetings.

Yet while at each meeting, Bill would listen carefully, but for his first few meetings never said anything to contribute to the ongoing discussion. He would not quiz anyone coming before our board. He gave nothing to the conversations. This went on for a year or more, and while he was good in attending, I began to worry about his participation. Was he bored?  Was he not getting anything out of the proceedings?  Why was he silent?

After all, you wanted each board member to contribute from their background. What could we do to engage him in our deliberations? I was wondering if he ever would open up and help the organization.

One day we had one particular idea tossed out with great gusto by a person on the board. The presentation lasted quite a while, and finally the person was through talking.

To my great surprise, Bill raised his hand. “Yes, Bill?” I said.

“That’s a dumb, damn idea,” Bill pronounced, and said no more.

Wow! Now I understood. Bill was paying attention all along. He was just a person of few words. And that crazy idea that had been before the board died quickly.  Bill, indeed, was a good board member. He gave solid, thoughtful service in his own way.

We also remember something else about Mr. Fields. He usually left the newspaper office about 10 p.m. each night, after guiding the staff, and essentially knowing most every story that would appear in the next morning’s newspaper.

However, Bill once told us, nothing made him madder than to walk out on his driveway the next morning, and find that his Constitution had not been delivered.  “I know, yes, I know of about every story that was going to be in that paper, but I just wanted to read it in my own paper the next day,” he said. “Nothing makes me madder than to miss my home delivery.”

It’s great to have people like Bill Fields in your memories.

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Authoritative book on Cobb is major service to his reputation http://likethedew.com/2016/06/13/authoritative-book-on-cobb-is-major-service-to-his-reputation/ http://likethedew.com/2016/06/13/authoritative-book-on-cobb-is-major-service-to-his-reputation/#respond Tue, 14 Jun 2016 02:47:12 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=64254 Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty. The book enhances and clarifies the reputation of Georgia’s “Big Peach,” who was maybe the most controversial player in baseball. The book won the 2015 Casey Award for the best baseball book of the year. Ty Cobb was the greatest batsman in baseball history, an average of .366, the highest lifetime average of any baseball player.]]>
This iconic photo by Charles M. Conlon shows Cobb stealing third base during the 1909 baseball season
This iconic photo by Charles M. Conlon shows Cobb stealing third base during the 1909 baseball season

A sports author has done the state of Georgia and Ty Cobb, in particular, a major service.  Author Charles Leerhsen of Brooklyn, N. Y. has published an authoritative biography: Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty. The book enhances and clarifies the reputation of Georgia’s “Big Peach,” who was maybe the most controversial player in baseball. The book won the 2015 Casey Award for the best baseball book of the year.

Ty Cobb was the greatest batsman in baseball history, an average of .366, the highest lifetime average of any baseball player. He led the American league in batting for nine consecutive years, one season batting .420. He was the first player voted into the Hall of Fame. He was also a wheelhorse on the basepaths, held for years the all-time record for stealing 897 bases. And he was a superb fielder, in essence a complete baseball player.

It is when running the bases that many thought Cobb was most exciting. The celebrated sports writer, Grantland Rice, tells when in the dentist chair, his dentist told of Cobb’s style when Cobb got a base on balls with the score tied: “…he trotted slowly and carelessly …to first…then 30 feet away, he suddenly started at top speed, rounded the bag, and whirled to second.  The pitcher, rattled by such a wild move, threw badly to second, and before the ball was back, Ty was… at third, waiting to score ten seconds later on a short outfield fly. Great stuff?”

Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty by Charles LeerhsenThe public perception of Cobb has always been critical, but his reputation was deeply sullied by Cobb’s own choice of a collaborator in writing his memories. He choose, at the instigation of his publisher, a hack journalist named Al Stump, who at one time we remember wrote for the Atlanta newspapers. Stump failed to do much research, and seems to have made up vast portions of the biography

Charles Leerhsen said in a talk of Cobb at Hillsboro College, Hillsboro, Mich., about the way Stump compiled the book:  “Stump, who had never met Cobb, spent only a few days with him before setting off to write. For several months he refused to show Cobb the work in progress…. Stump was filling in the gaps by making up stories out of whole cloth, and Cobb’s voice in the book sounded suspiciously like Stump’s own. Cobb wrote letters threatening a lawsuit if the book wasn’t cancelled or rewritten. But he died soon thereafter, and the book—entitled My Life in Baseball: The True Record—came out a few months later.”

Leerhsen has done extensive research, especially in attacking Stump’s many fabrications. He shows the Royston, Ga. native in moments over his entire life, emphasizes his Southern gentlemanly manners, his love of children, and his “ordinary decency” in general. Yet he also portrays how Cobb could be combative, to the point of fisticuffs, at times.

Our hats off to Charles Leerhsen for telling a more complete story of Cobb not just on the base paths, but Cobb in real life.

Author’s Note:

  • SUGGESTION: Visit the Ty Cobb Museum in Royston, about 60 miles from Gwinnett. It is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. and opens at 10 a.m. on Saturday.
  • To read more from Leerhsen, go to Who Was Ty Cobb The History We Know That’s Wrong
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Passing stopped school buses more of a problem than you think http://likethedew.com/2016/05/20/passing-stopped-school-buses-more-of-a-problem-than-you-think/ http://likethedew.com/2016/05/20/passing-stopped-school-buses-more-of-a-problem-than-you-think/#comments Fri, 20 May 2016 12:09:09 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=64083

Chlidren getting on a stopped school bus

Vehicles passing stopped school buses is much more of a problem than most of us realize. At least where I live, Gwinnett’s school system is taking steps to address this situation, at no cost to your school tax bill. But only about 10 school systems in Georgia are participating in a new technology which improves school bus safety.

Gwinnett is partnering with Redflex Traffic Systems of Phoenix, Ariz. in having traffic cameras on its buses. Redflex  is a wholly-owned subsidiary of an Australian company, which operates the world’s largest network of digital speed and red-light cameras worldwide.  Redflex partners with over 200 communities in the U.S. and Canada in traffic safety programs.

The recommended fine locally for passing a stopped school bus is $300. From this, the schools get 25 percent, as does the county, with 50 percent going to Redflex. There is no upfront cost for Gwinnett, as all costs are born by Redflex, while the paying for the program is 100 percent violator funded. Redflex provides a turn-key program, including training and installing all hardware, maintaining the system, payment progressing and collection.

Since the school bus cameras were installed, Gwinnett County’s School Board has received $1.4 million in fine money since January, 2015, as has Gwinnett County government. The School Board is using part of that money to make purchase of new buses (each cost on average $85,000), relieving the school’s budget of that funding.

Illegally passing stopped school buses is a major problem in this country. A 2012 study conducted by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services found that 88,000 vehicles illegally pass 100,000 school buses every day. That’s 16 million illegal passings in a typical 180 day school year.

That figure is similar in Gwinnett County. The schools have only installed the cameras on 300 buses (of its total 1,650 buses running any day). Cameras are on buses in each school cluster.

Once a year the School Board asks its drivers to report how many vehicles passed their stopped bus that day. It hit 3,000 on the one-day count. Yet Gwinnett issues only an average of 100 citations for passing stopped buses each day, meaning that about 2,900 vehicles are not being cited each day. So the problem is much worse than at first glance.

Danny Jardine, the school’s chief operating officer, who oversees the school bus fleet, says that drivers simply pay no attention to the rules of the road concerning school buses. “Everyone should know what the law is when they see the stopped bus,with its lights flashing. When that stop arm comes out, people simply do not pay it any attention. We have videos of as many as six and seven cars at one time passing a stopped school bus. It scares me. And we see this not just on Buford Highway or U.S. 29. We see it even in sub-divisions!”

The law is simple. You do not pass a stopped school bus on a two-lane highway. Traffic in both directions must stop. However, on a divided highway, traffic in the opposite lane does not have to stop.  (But many drivers do not understand this either, backing up traffic on divided highways when it is not necessary.)

Danny Jardine adds: “Our job is to make sure that the school children get on and off the bus safely. Installing these bus cameras isn’t about the money we get from the fines. It’s simply about getting our students safely on and off the buses.”

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Questions arise now that presidential contest is almost settled http://likethedew.com/2016/05/13/questions-arise-now-that-presidential-contest-is-almost-settled/ http://likethedew.com/2016/05/13/questions-arise-now-that-presidential-contest-is-almost-settled/#respond Fri, 13 May 2016 09:44:35 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=64029

Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump - Caricatures by DonkeyHotey

You must admit that social media has been a mighty contributor to this 2016 political season.

In another way of saying this: look what we have done to ourselves.

We couldn’t get enough of Trump, or Bernie, and every so often, some of the other presidential candidates. So we turned inward, creating more bizarre buzzing for the political year.

You wonder if the previous standard political antics will soon be relegated to the scrap pile.  And how social media will change future races.

Not that this political year is over. Far as that goes, it could heat up as the two parties come closer to officially choosing their standard bearers. Now, at least, there is mainly only one candidate for each party to focus on. To say the obvious, it could get very pointed in the next few months as these two positions battle one another.

Though neither of the two major parties have actually officially chosen their candidate yet, most observers feel that the die is cast for both the parties. Those “in the know” nationally do not expect that a Third Party candidacy could emerge.

Of course, those media flacks have been wrong for most of this political season, when it comes to the Republicans. They also have been wrong on the Democratic side, anticipating that Bernie Sanders would not still be around now.

The real trapped persons these days seem to be the Republican candidates for state and local offices. While they may not want to cozy up to Trump, they will still be on the ticket that he heads. Will enough Republicans just stay home and not vote so that the Democratic down-ballot nominees will win?  Could happen!

Would some governorships, and possibly either both houses of the Congress, be at a major risk for Republicans?  Could happen!

We can’t imagine these possibilities. But in this political year, what has happened did not get anticipated as it was.

Now a just-released poll shows that Trump and Clinton are neck-and-neck even in Georgia. Could it be that Georgia, with defection of voters away from Trump, might become a blue state in the presidential election? While it would be a significant national event, it would mean little as far as the immediate state election is concerned.  One reason is that there are so few contested legislative races. Some 80 percent of the Georgia House and Senate have no opposition at all, much less competition from the other political party.

It will take a major Democratic thump in future years for Georgia to return to competitive legislative races. Of course, a Hillary victory in the presidential race might cause candidates for governor on the Republican side to squirm a little worried. Yet that would be a small worry for the GOP, at least for now.

All this is assuming Donald Trump would get a walloping from the Democrats in the presidential race. In reality, the presidential race will probably tighten by November.

With social media thicker than ever this political season, even the Democrats should not feel all too comfortable.

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Legislative kooks, weirdos can give Georgia a black eye http://likethedew.com/2016/04/15/legislative-kooks-weirdos-can-give-georgia-a-black-eye/ http://likethedew.com/2016/04/15/legislative-kooks-weirdos-can-give-georgia-a-black-eye/#comments Fri, 15 Apr 2016 08:20:12 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=63779

Eventually, if you elect enough kooks and weirdos to the General Assembly, don’t you figure by the time they find their way around the State Capitol, that they might, just might, introduce some crazy legislation?

It’s impossible to lay blame at any one door. However, these days in Georgia we have many more Republican legislators than Democrats in the 2016 session. (The GOP dominates the Senate 39-17; in the House, there are 118 Republicans; 60 Democrats; one independent; and one vacancy.) When we had Democrats in charge in Georgia, there were more oddball and woeful legislators in the Democratic Party. Today it is just reversed.

Few (if any) Georgia Republicans are liberal, and a good many may be moderate. Many of the GOP elected officials are conservatives, some in the far right wing, of their party. Some even cozy up to the Tea Party.

It’s from the far right wing that a politically opportunistic sideshow has emerged. Few who belong to this new element could be deemed “statesmen” in any day.

These elected officials aren’t very interested in tackling real major issues of the day. They are much more thinking of making a name for themselves. They do this by introducing legislative subjects that few people think are needed. And in doing so, Georgia gets a black eye for its far-right posturing.

Legislatures in several states have seen measures affecting the following topics introduced in the last few years. They include:

  • Voter suppression, such as cutting back on early voting, pushing for voter identification laws, roadblocking voter registration; and residency restrictions.
  • Reducing or eliminating state income taxes.
  • Blocking paid sick leave.
  • Attacking efforts to raise the minimum wage.
  • Reducing or taking down renewable energy standards.

These measures are too far sophisticated to come from these inexperienced, fruitcake legislators who are pushing for them. They are what the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is promoting.

As the nation’s statehouses have moved toward Republican majorities in recent years, ALEC has been behind much of this super-conservative legislation. To see such proposals introduced in state after state, you have to realize that there is a central, very conservative think-tank, giving these legislators the words to use, sometimes literally.

Perhaps this explains recent news. Did most Georgians really think that our state needs the law on religious liberty?  Have these people not read the 46 words of the First Amendment, which imposes no restriction on religion?  The prime person pushing this bit of tomfoolery is Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus). We owe it to him that our state came under the spotlight after the Legislature passed the religious liberty bill. Happily, Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed it.

But watch out. These legislators are not going away easily. They’ll be seeking to embarrass Georgia again by introducing this un-needed, phony issue in the next session.

As one has said, “When bad leadership arrives, it stays and stays and stays.” (Does this speak to term limits?)

How sad! Georgia and the rest of the nation is under fire from the extreme right wing in controlling much of what our statehouses are considering these days.

It happens any time any one political party completely controls any government. What we need is to have two strong parties in a near-balance of power, both carefully watching the other. When that happens, government will find itself more reasonable, more efficient, and also probably more honest.

We look forward to that day, but don’t see it coming real soon. It may test our patience.

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Seems to be simple way to solve which restroom to enter http://likethedew.com/2016/04/13/seems-to-be-simple-way-to-solve-which-restroom-to-enter/ http://likethedew.com/2016/04/13/seems-to-be-simple-way-to-solve-which-restroom-to-enter/#comments Wed, 13 Apr 2016 10:59:54 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=63777

A female-identified restroom door by Ann Fisher

We in Georgia may think we have our problems. Yet recent action by the Legislature in North Carolina puts that state in the ranks of those with reactionary actions flying in the face of reasonableness.

The North Carolina situation particularly vexes us, in that its action made no sense. Legislators there quickly passed an act, their Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, which will force public colleges and universities (as well as other public venues and government buildings) to require their restrooms be used only by people whose biological sex at birth matches the sign on the door.

It’s caused an uproar in North Carolina, with already one national company pulling a major project, which would have amounted to 400 jobs. (That company must go somewhere; maybe Georgia is in the chase for it.) Entertainers have also cancelled concerts because of this.

By the time the North Carolina legislature passed this Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, the bill was signed within 12 hours by the governor. You wonder why he signed it so quickly. You also wonder why he signed it at all, since he is up for re-election this year. We hope he loses, which will show that the North Carolina citizenry is wiser than its legislators!

The Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act wants to regulate which public restroom anyone will use, seeking to insure that people use the restroom which corresponds to their sex at birth.

But we ask you, “How do you know which sex someone was at birth?” You certainly can’t these days determine that by their dress. Today we have women dressed as men, and vice versa. When it’s time for them to seek a restroom, how’s anyone to know if they adhere to the law and use the restroom of their birth sex?

In reality, anyone trying to check that out would cause quite a disturbance. And are we to have licensed restroom monitors who by some means—we haven’t figured out yet—will say whether you or I or the next person should go into this rest room or the other? And how about the persons approving the license?

You see all kinds of problems in such situations.

Far better it would be for a woman dressed as a man to go into the guy’s restroom. Granted, that person would not use a urinal. So this person might have to go into a stall while there, but would any of the other guys in the room know or care?

Or if a guy was dressed as a woman went into the ladies’ restroom, who’s to know except that guy? At least there he would, of necessity, use the private stalls.

All this makes us think that some people seem to feel more governmental regulation is just the route to take to make our lives better. But aren’t these the same people who say they want less government? Seems they are giving us “super-government,” complicating our lives, and not paying attention to introducing legislation from the pressing problems of the day. We don’t feel determining which restroom to enter is a pressing problem. We all know which sex we are. The least we can do is use the rest room corresponding to how we are presently dressed.

What! Is this taking the reasonable route? Many legislators would not recognize that!

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Trump reminds us of Italy’s Berlusconi, when he was prime minister http://likethedew.com/2016/03/27/trump-reminds-us-of-italys-berlusconi-when-he-was-prime-minister/ http://likethedew.com/2016/03/27/trump-reminds-us-of-italys-berlusconi-when-he-was-prime-minister/#respond Sun, 27 Mar 2016 12:08:39 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=63616

Berlusconi drinking and laughing with Trump (composite image)

While Americans are somewhat thunderstruck by an independently wealthy person, like Donald Trump jumping headlong into the presidential race, and gaining traction, it’s happened in other places in the world.

One recent ego-centered and financially independent figure on the world scene to seek political power was mightily successful. We refer to former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi, who led Italy for nine years through four cabinets, often embarrassing that country with his escapades and outright peccadilloes, and was eventually forced to resign.

Berlusconi has been pictured as a “brash, bruising, billionaire businessman” who didn’t care in the least  about the way he was pictured. He was his own man, independent, and often sought to run roughshod over even his own political party. As Trump, he originally made his fortune in real estate, and later parlayed his dollars in controlling a private television empire, the most successful in Italy, raking in billions. Even his own television managers could not keep his sometimes embarrassing private movements when president out of the news.

Though caught up in all sorts of sordid behavior, often involving women, no matter what happened, Berlusconi seemed to come out ahead while in office. One person recently described him: “Nothing stuck. He had a gift of gab. He had a tone. He connected. He owned a soccer club, for heaven’s sake. Many Italians thought they saw in him one of their own. He served four terms and nine years as prime minister before an ignominious downfall.”

The publication Foreign Affairs termed his serving in this manner:

“The latest bout of political instability hasn’t just triggered a standard round of name-calling among Italy’s political class; it has dramatically worsened the outlook of Italy’s already fragile economy, scaring off investors and bringing economic reform to a grinding halt…. Berlusconi seems more than willing to risk his country’s future to save his own neck, even if just temporarily.”

Another publication called it “a party in the service of a leader.”

Berlusconi arrived in power as the head of his own Forza Italia Party, and in the parliamentary fashion of Italian politics, cobbled together a majority to give him the prime minister’s position.

Should the independent Donald Trump become the candidate of the Republican Party, he will still have to convince Congressional members of his own party to back his proposals. With Trump an “outsider” something like Jimmy Carter was, that won’t necessarily be easy.

Should somehow the Grand Old Party deny Trump the nomination, there’s even the outside possibility he could become president through an unprecedented third party. Should he happen to win, that would really create problems for Trump with the Congress, not necessarily giving him cooperation as president.

Of course, the likelihood that Trump, either as the Republican nominee or as an independent, becoming president is unlikely. The Democratic nominee, probably Hillary Clinton, would most likely easily defeat a GOP led by Trump, or dispose of Trump if he ran as an independent.

Yet the possibility remains that Donald Trump could be the next Berlusconi coming to power. We saw how rough that was for Italy when Berlusconi was prime minister.  It would be even worse for the United States with Trump as president.

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Could 2016 be the year for the death of the Republican Party? http://likethedew.com/2016/03/09/could-2016-be-the-year-for-the-death-of-the-republican-party/ http://likethedew.com/2016/03/09/could-2016-be-the-year-for-the-death-of-the-republican-party/#respond Wed, 09 Mar 2016 21:10:22 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=63472

Fighting Baby Elephants

This year you may be seeing right before your eyes the death of the Republican Party in national politics.  If it happens, we lament it. (We feel that our country benefits by have a strong two party system.) It appears that the GOP could find itself threatened in this crazy political year.

Here’s how this might turn out, outlined in a shortened step-by-step process.

  1. Donald Trump doesn’t get enough delegates to become the Republican nominee for president. Mainline Republicans nominate a non-Trump candidate.
  2. Trump bolts the party and continues his race for president on a Third Party ticket.
  3. This causes a split in the GOP conservative camp so that the Democratic nominee wins the election.
  4. Mainline Republicans place third behind Trump in the election.
  5. The Grand Old Party becomes less significant and could waste away in national politics, though the Republicans would remain strong in state politics across the nation.
  6. Meanwhile, the Third Party that Trump heads recruits more to their cause, becoming the main opposition to the Democrats. Many long-standing Republicans would join his ranks.

We suggest: this probably won’t happen. But we foresee that it could, in this turbulent political season.

After last week’s castigation of Trump by mainline Republicans, perhaps the Grand Old Party can nominate someone more to their liking. It could happen, as we have said before, the Republicans will go into their Cleveland convention with no one having a delegate majority, and have to fight out the nomination on the floor.

That would be the crucial time for the Republicans. What could happen at the GOP convention could determine just how this political year goes.

The emergence of Trump as a strong candidate, and its ramifications, may end up causing just what neither Trump nor the Republicans want: making it even more impossible to capture the presidency. With polls showing either of the Democrats, Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, with significant poll numbers over any Republican, it looks more and more like a Democratic year.

* * *

Meanwhile, the efforts by Republicans to block any nominee for the vacancy on the Supreme Court could throw a monkey wrench into this process. Now we see several candidates being suggested for the court vacancy who are already Appeals Court judges. They have previously won approval of the Senate, often by significant margins. All seem more centrist candidates than liberal.

Instead of not holding hearings on President Obama’s eventual nominee, this spring and summer might be the best chance for the conservative element of the Republican Party to influence the selection of the court nominee. After all, should a Democrat win the next presidential election, the Republicans may kick themselves for waiting to consider perhaps what would have been a more centrist nominee.

Consider this: should the Democrats win, the new president could nominate Barack Obama for the Supreme Court. Man alive! What a confirmation hearing that would be! For Obama’s confirmation, it might require that the Democrats win several Senate seats. But it could happen.

With this Supreme Court vacancy coming at a time when the court is often split, the nomination of the replacement for Justice Antonin Scalia takes on added importance.

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Georgia doesn’t need casino gambling within its borders http://likethedew.com/2016/02/27/georgia-doesnt-need-casino-gambling-within-its-borders/ http://likethedew.com/2016/02/27/georgia-doesnt-need-casino-gambling-within-its-borders/#respond Sat, 27 Feb 2016 14:30:29 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=63310

Losing money on slots by Bjørn Giesenbauer

The casino gambling industry is playing hardball, in a sneaky, unethical and vile manner, as it seeks to compel the Georgia legislature to allow this industry in Georgia.

We don’t want the gambling industry in Georgia.

To begin with, just look at tactics. The industry is preying on Georgia’s children to get this sinister racket to become legal in our state.

Here’s how: It is operating under the name of the “Committee to Preserve Hope Scholarship.” But when you examine the working of that group, it should properly be called: “The Way To Sneak Casino Gambling by Georgians.” Riding on the popular Hope Scholarship, which would get a piddling of the revenue from gambling, is despicable! How dare they!

We feel most Georgians, while pleased with HOPE, don’t want it funded from the ill-gotten profits of casino gambling! The lottery is about our limits for funding HOPE.

This casino-pushing group even has the audacity to promote the number of jobs which would be created by this gambling industry within our borders. But look carefully: imagine the level of pay for casino jobs! It is not something you want your son or daughter to be involved with.

Do you know any even middle-class employees in the gambling field? Most of the job would be low-level poker dealers, cocktail waitresses or security guards. The gambling industry also talks of jobs outside gambling, including hotels, car rental agencies, other allied fields and accountants. They are right about one thing: gambling will produce many accounting jobs — to make sure they add up all the money the profits of the casinos must move to their high-stakes owners!

Think too how many of those profit dollars would wind up in Georgia. Not many.

Another element in the “Committee to Preserve Hope Scholarship” (remember its real name of the “The Way To Sneak Casino Gambling by Georgians”) is claiming how much money Georgians spend at gambling arenas in the neighboring states of Alabama, Florida and North Carolina. The gambling industry smiles and says that Georgia should keep this money within the state. How about we let Alabama, Florida and North Carolina keep this Georgia money, for they will need it for all the problems that gambling will bring to their states. Gambling breeds insecurity, distrust, poverty and families in trouble. It takes a lot of state money to fight these problems that the gambling industry brings. These three states will need it.

We cite a place where gambling once thrived: Atlantic City, N.J. Along with Las Vegas as two places once for legal gambling in the USA, now the city has fallen on harsh times and is decaying. Gambling has not made the town attractive. Just ask yourself: would you want to live in Atlantic City, or even Las Vegas? Do we see our reasonable, productive and sound way of life in Georgia going on in cities where gambling is the major industry? Most Georgians, we feel, do not think this way.

Just examine who is funding the front for gambling, this so-called “Committee to Preserve Hope Scholarship.” It’s the likes of MGM Resorts International, Las Vegas Sands Corp., Harrah’s Entertainment and other gambling big boys. Are these the type of people we want in Georgia?

Gambling is no panacea to solve Georgia’s budget problems. The only way to beat gambling in Georgia is to tell your legislators that you don’t want gambling here. And remember, also tell them that their name will be on the ballot this November. Let’s keep Georgia casino gambling free.

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