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our troubled world
I have just finished rereading Macbeth for the first time in many years. The actor Kenneth Branagh was on The Charlie Rose Show recently touting his production which is now playing in New York’s Park Avenue Armory. As we know, it’s a tale of ambition and treachery. But why read it again now in the throes of summer when we’re usually looking for “light reading suitable for the beach”?
back to wholeness
In Paul Fussell’s book on WWI, The Great War And Modern Memory, a deep sense of irony pervades. A scholar of eighteenth-century English literature, he was heavily influenced by the satiric writings of Jonathan Swift and Samuel Johnson. During WWII, he served as a second lieutenant in the 103d Infantry Division where he picked up his “dark, ironical, flip view of war.” In an article he wrote for the PBS program The War, A Ken Burns Film, he said: “The war made me a foot-soldier for the rest of my life and after any war foot-soldiers are touchy.”
devil in the details
Having just completed a three-part series titled “An Educator’s Lament” on the symptoms, causes and stakes of the demise of American education, I was planning to retire the keyboard for a few days. Then the news broke on Vergara v. California. Alas, I feel compelled to weigh in. Vergara v. California concerns teacher tenure — the granting of “permanent” teaching positions — in California’s system of K-12 public education. On June 10, 2014, California Superior Court Judge Rolf M. Treu ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, who oppose California’s tenure statutes, and against the California Teachers Association, which favors them.
states have choice
The politics surrounding climate change is getting warmer.
President Obama has caused quite a ripple in this arena with his proposals to cut carbon emissions by 20 percent. He has taken a back door step to remove this issue from the do-nothing Congress, and exercised his executive power under the Clean Air Act to move toward fewer carbon emissions.
Like an amoeba, Rayonier is splitting, but not in the interest of promoting organic existence. Rather, the real transformative and productive endeavors, which informed the operations of the original corporation to convert trees into paper and other useful products, is being left behind, as the new moniker, Rayonier Advanced Materials, Inc., is clearly designed to disguise, in the interest of promoting speculation in Real Estate development. I suppose we could say it’s a matter of separating the doers from the seers.
see the evil
In today’s Washington Post, there’s an excellent op/ed about a threat to the integrity of our nation’s judicial system. That is, the piece is excellent but for one glaring omission.
Entitled “Keep politics out of the courthouse,” it is written by retired Chief Justices of two of our states’ Supreme Courts, Ruth McGregor of Arizona and Robert D. Orr of Indiana. McGregor and Orr give three examples of how altogether inappropriate kinds of political pressure have lately been brought to bear upon our “independent” judiciary.
Who should Democrats and Independents vote for in the May 20 Republican U.S. Senate Primary? Before recoiling at the seemingly inappropriate nature of this question, please consider the following. Michelle Nunn appears to have the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat locked up. Unless voters want to cast votes in contested races further down the ballot there is little reason to participate in the Democratic primary beyond the public display of civic virtue.
Never mind that in the U.S. it has been become all the rage, since the supposed cradle of central planning, the U.S.S.R., crumbled. That raises suspicion about the sincerity of the opponents to begin with, but might be explained as a simple case of rivalry rearing its head. More worrisome is the realization that, in terms of man’s well being, failure may be what planning ultimately aims for.
In other words, planning on a grand scale looks to be designed to destroy the population for whom it claims to provide…
Why do so many Americans doubt the scientific consensus about Darwinian evolution and anthropogenic climate change? Although the temptation is to attribute these sentiments simply to religious indoctrination and corporate public relations, feelings of powerlessness and resentment may also be in play.
Consider the large differences in acceptance of different scientific conclusions in March 20-24 AP-GfK Poll. Where a mere 4% of respondents doubt the link between cigarette smoking and lung disease and only 6% doubt that mental illness is a medical condition affecting the brain, fully 42% doubted that life evolved through natural selection and 37% doubted that humans were responsible for global warming…
Politicians from both parties might perform public anguish about the student loan problem but it is painfully obvious that they just don’t get how serious it is. The most recent Congressional legislation tying interest rates on student loans to the several points beyond the interest rates on treasury notes might have looked like an important reform in Washington, where achieving anything bipartisan is hailed a great victory, but not to the 37 million young Americans who are on the hook for more than one trillion dollars in student loans that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. They owe an average of $29,000. In an economy that no longer produces enough decent jobs
“Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” — Matthew 6:21.
On April 4, 1967, exactly one year before he was assassinated, Martin Luther King, Jr. made public his opposition to the Vietnam War, articulated in his iconic “Beyond Vietnam” speech. Presented at Riverside Church in New York City, “Beyond Vietnam” was the most controversial speech King ever delivered. In it, he confronted head-on America’s “triple evils” — racism, economic injustice, and militarism — and called for “a radical revolution of values” to restore our nation’s integrity. Afterwards, many supporters, black and white, abandoned him…
can't teach character
Ever hear of “due diligence?” That’s a term often seen in business stories, particularly when public accountants are working at checking the financial background of companies who might want to buy or sell to one another.
Some people at the University of Georgia apparently don’t understand or use the term “due diligence,” especially when it comes to recruiting football players.
40 days in georgia
There’s an exhilaration abounding throughout Georgia today. Hurrah, hurrah, the Georgia General Assembly is no longer in session. You can relax a little more this week. Almost as on cue, the Legislature again got little done. They confused some issues, angered a lot of people, scurried home quickly because of the early elections this year, and in general, accomplished little. But you can bet they did two things: they collected their pay, and put in more time toward their pensions. A compilation of what the lawmakers did this year was presented in the Sunday Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The one-page list showed only on three items did the Legislature accomplish significant changes, good or bad.
a book review
Eastern Europe and Russia – When the Soviet Union dissolved it left secret police and security personnel suddenly on the outs and without paycheck. Given their skill sets, for many, criminal behavior was the logical next step. The party apparatchiks were often out of work too but some were positioned to advantage. Prior to dissolution, national resources such as oil were sold abroad and the profits fed into the soviet system, keeping it alive…
so patently dishonest
Clever public relations officers working somewhere in the bowels of the Pentagon have decided that henceforth the Guantanamo hunger strike will be termed a “long term non-religious fasting.” What’s more, rather than being subjected to forced-feeding the “non-religious fasters” are now being treated to “enteral feedings.” What are we to make of such obvious lexical fig leaves?
That the Crimean Crisis would be exploited by Republican Congressional leaders to criticize President Obama was inevitable. Politics hasn’t stopped at the water’s edge in the United States for a very long time. What wasn’t inevitable was the shamelessness of Senator John McCain’s denunciation of President Obama in a speech to the most powerful ethnic foreign policy lobby in Washington. In a March 4th address to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Arizona Republican complained about a “feckless foreign policy where nobody believes in America’s strength anymore.”
war in afghanistan
What would winning the War in Afghanistan look like? America has been at war there for 13 years and you would expect that after thousands of casualties and spending immense sums of our tax dollars something that could be deemed victory would have been achieved by now. Instead of that we are presented with soon to be retiring Rep. Howard P. ‘Buck’ McKeon, Chair of the House Armed Services Committee, chiding the America people and President Obama for not wanting to keep fighting the longest war in our history.
union rights are civil rights
Chip Wells, 43, an 11-year veteran at the 5,200-worker Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi, says the recent bad news coming out of the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, did nothing to deter him and fellow pro-union Nissan workers from their campaign to join the United Auto Workers. “People think that derailed us,” says Wells, who works in Nissan’s paint department, “but we think it made us stronger.”
taking god's name in vain
HB 1023 and SB 377 are now slithering through the dank halls of Georgia’s government. These bills would allow business owners to openly discriminate against gay Americans by denying them employment or services: banning them from restaurants, hotels etc. (Translation: anybody who wishes to discriminate against someone for any reason need only say that it’s because it’s part of their “personal religion”.) The so-called “Preservation of Religious Freedom Act” would, in effect, permit any individual or for-profit company to ignore Georgia’s anti-discrimination and civil rights laws.
pandering to stupid
I live in Georgia. The General Assembly is in session. It is our annual celebration of stupidity, ignorance, pandering, baiting, and hate. It is open season on history, the Constitution, science, mutual respect, and common sense. It is a loathsome time. 40 days and $20 billion in public cash. One party, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for some. This is an election year and our elected cannot legally accept campaign contributions while in the legislature is in session. The pressure is on in the hurry to protect poor little Georgia from big meanie pants Washington. Blame Obama. Praise Jesus. All hail the NRA and Georgia Carry. Cut taxes, but give give give to bidness.
georgia hb 875
It’s the first day of school. Imagine weepy parents and eager teachers. Imagine clingy children, it’s the first time we leave them in the care of our school. Some kids are thrilled with their new found independence. Now imagine that teacher armed with an AR-15, a lightweight, 5.56 mm, .223-caliber, magazine-fed, air cooled rifle with a rotating-lock bolt, actuated by direct impingement gas operation. A weapon we see in the movies. But it’s not a movie. It’s Georgia and it could be real, with passage of HB 875.
“This we know: the earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.” — Chief Seattle, 1854
On January 31, the Department of State issued its environmental assessment of TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline. If built, the KXL will transport petroleum from Canada’s Alberta tar sands to a neighborhood near you. At least that’s the hype. The safe bet is that the oil will be sold to the highest bidder…
useless on ice
A dozen years ago, during the early spring, I was visiting my son in Pennsylvania. Among the scheduled activities was an opportunity to see my ten year old grandson play basketball that Saturday at the local YMCA. Upon rising that morning and peering out the bedroom window, I felt a tinge of disappointment. A dusting of snow had come during the night. I walked down to get coffee and expressed my regret to my son. He looked at me with surprise and confusion until he realized what I meant.
What is it with Republican governors and traffic jams? Up in New Jersey, we’ve got Chris Christie’s staff ordering up some “traffic problems” for Fort Lee, perhaps as a prank, and in Atlanta, Georgia, we’ve got Nathan Deal and the Mayor of Atlanta hosting each other at lunch while the traffic all around the city flops around in slush.
something is wrong
The state of the Union is crap. 20% of the country is doing OK. 1% is doing fantastically. 0.001% is doing so well it’s criminal, literally. They don’t own everything yet but they do own all the politicians, judges, regulators, academics, and reporters. So they’re getting there. The other 80%, the rubes, the muppets, the serfs, are mired in an undeclared, ongoing depression. 50 years on I can safely state that the War on Poverty has been won. The poor have been defeated, the middle class conquered.
I wouldn’t be writing about this now but for the 1996 Olympic Games. They were in Atlanta, you may recall, although probably the only thing you remember is the bomb Eric Robert Rudolph planted at Centennial Olympic Park. We didn’t know that at the time. Instead, we all blamed a luckless security guard who probably kept the death toll at one when he spotted Rudolph’s bomb. But before that, there was Cobb County.
not so lame duck
The phrase “media bias” is used when someone does not agree with how a news organization presented a story. News organizations themselves accuse other news agencies of various biases, particularly with regard to where an organization falls along the liberal-conservative continuum. Fox News accuses the mainstream media, of which Fox apparently is not a part, of a liberal bias. So-called progressive organizations such as MSNBC accuse Fox News of having a conservative bias. When it comes to media bias, point an accusatory finger in any direction and you’ll likely hit a target.
Worthy of Comment
Also on the Dew
WARNING: This feature has nothing to do with politics, terrorism, or race relations. It does, however, touch upon your unavoidable visit from the Grim Reaper. Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful, lest you let other people spend it for you. — Carl Sandburg In my explorations along back roads, deep woods, and left-behind places, I come across forgotten graveyards. Their tombstones, like tragic figures in some sad drama, long ago surrendered to weathering. Stones cut from rocks softer than granite appear to me Read on →
I sympathize with those brushing aside the "Deflategate" scandal swirling around the New England Patriots as much ado over little of consequence. After all, the Patriots absolutely annihilated the Indianapolis Colts 45-7 in the AFC Championship Game on January 18. It’s hard to conceive any edge Patriots quarterback Tom Brady allegedly gained from playing with deliberately underinflated footballs could be primarily responsible for that butt whipping. Still, I’ve long wondered what our easy acceptance of cheating in sports says about our society. Considering the "Spygate" incident of 2007, when New England coach Bill Belichick was fined $500,000 and his team $250,000 for Read on →
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men should do nothing.” Whether Edmund Burke or someone before him first said it is a matter of some debate. But, we all recognize the statement. It’s a weighty sentiment for weighty times, one often referenced in the context of the worst atrocities inflicted on mankind. But, there’s another way to think of this: Every act of good, no matter how small, isolated, or even invisible, is a victory for all that is right. On Sunday, my wife and I saw “Unbroken,” the Angelina Jolie film based on the book by Laura Hille Read on →
My friend Tom says most, if not all, great writers are fractured individuals. I hope he’s wrong about that; I’ve always been a happy, well-adjusted guy. I plan to achieve Great Writer status one day and would hate to think lack of a tortured soul, along with precious little talent, will prevent such dreams. The only thing even remotely dark about me is my middle name. If I had been a girl, none of this would have happened. I would have been Betty Louise. At least that’s what my mother said. The Mike part of my name originated with an old Army Read on →