collateral damage of war
“Let us pause in life’s pleasures and count its many tears,
While we all sup sorrow with the poor;
There’s a song that will linger forever in our ears;
Oh! Hard times come again no more.
“’Tis the song, the sigh of the weary,
Hard Times, hard times, come again no more
Many days you have lingered around my cabin door;
Oh! Hard times come again no more.”
on the campaign trail
Bellevue, Ill. – Psychologists say there is growing evidence that GOP candidates scare pets and small children.
The psychologists, meeting here for their annual convention, said the research is based on interviews with parents whose children watched the first GOP debate and have since had difficulty sleeping without a parent in the room or leaving the lights on all night.
OXFORD, Miss. – Politicians and local editorial writers love Howard Industries of Laurel, Miss. The editors at the Laurel Leader-Call shower their blessings on Jones County’s largest employer and castigate any naysayer who might want to offer an alternative viewpoint. Politicians shower the producer of electrical transformers with money—taxpayers’ money…
freedom to discriminate
It’s a natural law: a pendulum, once swinging, will always reverse its course.
Sometimes, it takes forever for that pendulum to move the other way. Look at the State of Georgia, Democratic always until 2002, when the Republicans finally won the governor’s office. Up until then, the statehouse had been slowly moving toward a more conservative, Republican bent, with the GOP finally gaining control of both houses in 2004.
less carbon = jobs + lower taxes
Wall Street likes it simple: promote bull markets; avoid bear markets. But there’s now an elephant on Wall Street, and few are daring to talk about it.
In you hadn’t noticed, the market has been essentially flat for a year; that is until it cratered last week, losing 18 months worth of gains. Unlike the crash of 2008, there’s no obvious smoking gun.
all tangled up
There have been hundreds of thousands of words written and spoken about the unspeakable tragedy of the nine people gunned down at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. In time, there will be many more; books will be written and countless analysis will be presented seeking to find some meaning in what happened. In time, the events of the tragedy will become a permanent part of the history of Charleston and our people, indeed the whole state and nation.
Not only that, but that this move to bring the Confederate flag into the discussion would be one that reverberates all across our country, making that symbol of the Old South a new rallying cry for all sorts of people of this country? Who would have thought?
In effect, it was the human heart speaking to our country, recognizing the sufferings of the people of Charleston, and in particular, the suffering of black people. We remember how our country has itself suffered from those who won’t give up a lost cause….one that brings division, not union, to our nation.
beneath the american flag
That my first visit to the Lincoln memorial in 48 years would bring tears was unexpected. Yet on a sunny September Sunday in 2012, at the feet of his massive marble likeness, staring solemnly upon the chiseled words of President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, salty drops dot my face.
There is poignancy simply in standing where I scampered a lifetime ago as an unknowing four-year-old. But, my tears this day are for something more immediate – at least for me. This moment, the text of our 16th President’s second inaugural speech, and especially his Gettysburg Address fall this day upon a heart still moved by a different visit two days prior.
breakfast over hard
“Ol’ Obama knocked it outta the park yestiddy didn’t he?”
“Sumbitch always does. He always does.”
“Big O was fuckin’ magnificent in Charleston. I can’t believe he actually sang ‘Amazing Grace.’ I think he knew Clementha Pinckney…”
The conversation was on-going at a table across from where I’m taking refuge from ominous weather. As near as I can tell, their names are Stan, Roy and Tommy. All three are African-American. They are gray-beards, firmly ensconced in the demographic labeled ‘active seniors…
marriage equality. life.
Thomas Wolfe was wrong: We can go home again!
As two Suthunahs living in exile in New Joisey — one from Georgia, the other from Alabama — we share a photo essay of our 41-year marriage which today the Supreme Court made legal in every state of the union.
Samuel A. Ward was organist and choirmaster of our parish in Newark, NJ, when he wrote “America the Beautiful.” “Thy fruited plane” indeed. “Thy liberty in law,” Amen.
I recognize some Americans still feel threatened by gay marriage. I don’t understand that fear, but I respect it. I also respectfully suggest if you believe gay marriage is about what happens in the bedroom, you really don’t understand marriage at all.
I’m 55. I don’t remember my age when I first realized I had gay friends in high school. It’s certainly not something anyone was open about at the time. It wasn’t something we talked about.
But, I remember the moment I knew it was wrong to deny two loving, committed people the same respect we give married couples solely because they are the same gender.
My wife and I attended An Evening of Prayer Tuesday at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Pawleys Island. The special event was an ecumenical vigil for the victims of the Charleston massacre on June 17 at Emanuel AME Church at the hands of a moral idiot.
For some reason, the vigil brought to mind the opening lines of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, one of the most famous openings in all of literature: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” …
bad for business
The S.C. General Assembly put the Confederate battle flag in a place of prominence on the Statehouse grounds. Now after nine deaths in the horrendous Charleston church shooting, the legislature must take it down. Today, as the body of state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, the slain Jasper County Democrat and pastor of the church, lay in honor at the Statehouse, imagine the feelings of those who had to pass the Confederate flag before they paid their last respects.
grief and fear
The Irish poet William Butler Yeats wrote many years ago in The Second Coming that,
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned.
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
First, yeah this is long, but just maybe, it’s time for long, cuz it’s been a long time comin’.
I suppose it all started with Michael Jackson and his desire for a “white” nose, which didn’t turn out so well. Why a really handsome, very talented guy would willingly fuck up his face is truly beyond me. Michael was said to have lightened his skin, while Rachel Dolezal is said to have darkened hers.
time for action
Most South Carolinians don’t know a lot of out-of-the-closet, vociferous racists. They’re probably around, just like they have been since two people who didn’t look like each other first met. But in our society — here and in other states — they generally live on the fringes.
A hundred years ago, racism was institutionalized in the South with Jim Crow laws and separate but equal schools.
racist act of terror
These past few days I have been frantically trying to wrap my brain around the slaughter of nine African-American men and women at the Emmanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston S.C last Wednesday night.
The crime was heinous, profane and an extreme act of cowardice. It was pre-meditated, mindful and calculated. Above all — it was a racist act of terror.
As I headed to bed Wednesday night, a white gunman shot and killed nine people in an historic black church in the center of town just four blocks from where I used to live. Unaware of the evil, sleep came quickly. But in the wee hours, the ping of a text from an Australian colleague woke me. I didn’t want to read it and tried to go back to sleep. But after tossing and turning, I read the text, only to learn the heart-wrenching news about what was going on a few miles away. I was dazed.
I did not personally know the beautiful souls who were massacred while gathered in prayer with a stranger at Mother Emanuel on June 17, 2015, but I can’t stop weeping. In part, my tears are the product of troubled introspection. I am a proud southerner with deep roots. My father has always been puzzled by my “ancestor worship.” My husband and children mock my addiction to ancestry.com with quips like, “did you know Mom is 99.9% Anglo-Saxon and cousin of the Queen?” But I can’t help but feel pride when I find another link on my family tree confirming my forefathers’ presence south of the Mason-Dixon line before secession.
“We are in trouble just now because we do not have a good story. We are between stories.” — Father Thomas Berry
I’m not Catholic. Nevertheless, fond of this pope, I’ve eagerly awaited the release of Laudato Si’, Francis’ encyclical on ecology and climate. Immediately after its June 18 release, I paged wildly through it and was blown away. Laudato Si’ is absolutely stunning in sweep, depth, and wisdom. It is exactly the right document, at the right moment, by the right person.
With so many people professing concern for saving the souls of others, we have precious few willing to search their own. Facts about the Emanuel AME Church massacre in Charleston are yet unfolding, but political machinations to deny the obvious racial motives speak volumes about our society’s inability to confront this issue.
The alleged actions of a hate-filled young white man accused by police of slaying nine black church goers in Charleston say nothing about me as a white man living in America.
playing a patient game
Virtually every caricature cartoon has Putin always beating Obama at chess. Stupidparty love to suggest that Obama is playing checkers against a chess grand-master. Odd since chess would be beyond their powers. Perhaps we should revisit this issue.
Not long ago a strapping Russian super hero, overwhelmingly proud of his disturbing mix of a jedi judo six pack physique and chess thumping grand master heritage, was strutting half naked across the world stage seemingly out maneuvering any mortal who got in his way. A Palin with a brain, his task made easy by a disingenuous myopic American administration through 2008 being held in contempt in the court of world opinion…
nra gun myths reevaluated
Ironically – let us begin with a Joke.
Man walking along a road in the countryside comes across a shepherd and a huge flock of sheep. Tells the shepherd, “I will bet you $100 against one of your sheep that I can tell you the exact number in this flock.” The shepherd thinks it over; it’s a big flock so he takes the bet. “973,” says the man. The shepherd is astonished, because that is exactly right. Says “OK, I’m a man of my word, take an animal.” Man picks one up and begins to walk away…
When my cellphone rings, the opening notes of The Thrill is Gone signal me. I will have to consider changing that now. The author and singer of that song has moved on to Rock and Roll Heaven. B. B. King died in his sleep Thursday after nearly a year in hospice. I can’t imagine anyone was surprised; death happens to us all and this one has been imminent for quite some time. But hearing him tell me the thrill is indeed gone might be more than I want to hear every time my phone rings.
great sucking sound
“The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, … may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.” – James Madison in The Federalist Papers.
You don’t have to know much about the “trade” deal called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to be more than a little suspicious. First, there are the very peculiar bedfellows. Supporting the TPP are President Obama and most Congressional Republicans, the same Republicans who’ve vehemently opposed his every initiative for the past six and one-half years.
stupid, stupid, stupid
It is projected that sometime in 2015, Gun Deaths will become more ubiquitous in the USA than Auto fatalities — at over 30,000 lives per year. By way of comparison in the UK Automobiles are 1,300% more deadly than Guns (using 2011 data).
Baltimore represents the inevitable confluence of trends that only spell more disaster down the road. The trends at play are: 1) Gun Culture 2) Inherent deep rooted Bigotry and 3) the disenfranchisement of the voters –with the consequent undermining of Democracy.
religious intolerance act
For years, you have heard people in the South say: “Thank God for Mississippi!”
They meant that were it not for that state, their own state might rank 50th out of 50 states in some category. Mississippi has traditionally ranked 50th in educational attainment, family income, education and other indices. These other states of the South were mighty pleased that their own state didn’t rank below Mississippi. Of course, their state might rank close to Mississippi, but not dead last.
Some of my readers at Gwinnett Forum have asked if I was serious about requiring that the Georgia General Assembly meet only once in every two years.
In short, you betcha! Why? Because most Georgians will tell you that nothing is safe when the Georgia Legislature meets, as members introduce all sorts of measures that negatively impacts its citizens, most bills only benefiting some local constituent.
The reports of a settlement on Sea Island, Georgia, are disturbing on many counts, not the least of which is that the Sea Island Company no longer exists. Not only have many of the assets of the bankrupt, family-owned firm been acquired by an artificial body that called itself “Sea Island Acquisitions,” as if acquisition were an honorable enterprise, but that Limited Liability (little responsibility) Corporation has now morphed into an alphabet string that’s not even a pronounceable acronym, SIA PROPCO II, LLC…
A healthy by-product of opening my mouth to criticize others is being forced to assess the risk of having to eat my own words. I’ve learned the hard way to find my weaknesses before others do it for me. It saves glass walls if I can just hit myself with the rocks inside the house.
Last week, I tweeted disappointment with the Georgia Senate for passing SB 129 which blocks local governments from banning plastic bags.
in sports metaphor
Georgia’s transportation game clock was ticking its final minutes when a 2012 “Hail Mary” pass fell with a thud far from the intended receiver. Uncomfortable with the game on the line, leaders in the General Assembly and the Governor’s Mansion pitched a panicked audible to voters and local governments with the T-SPLOST referendum. Its rejection left leaderless chaos for two-a-half years, during which we’ve seen little reason for hope and backsliding across metropolitan Atlanta.
A situation vexing Newton County citizens for years erupted on metro Atlanta airwaves this week when television station 11 Alive aired stories of an ongoing investigation into payments made to county attorney Tommy Craig. Unanimously reappointed this month by the Board of Commissioners amid a public outcry of opposition, Craig was paid a reported $1.1 million by the county in 2014. He was also the center of much controversy last year when citizens questioned the reported $21.6 million spent to date on a reservoir project championed and managed by Craig…
anything to win
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.
doing your part
These climate deniers are making me crazy! Every day, it’s some new story about some Republican lawmaker making up the most inane justifications for why he or she doesn’t believe the Earth’s climate is changing or why, if it is, then it’s not caused by humans. And these people are in charge!? Lord, help us!
Just this week, something hit my Facebook news feed linking to a Mother Jones story proclaiming 72 Percent of Republican Senators Are Climate Deniers. Now, I’m no scientist… But, that’s just nuts! Someone please stop these people!?
a stain on values
Those are some of the emotions I feel after hearing of the way the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States has treated people in detention in the War on Terror. For this to be happening in a nation that says that all individuals have certain human rights, no matter what their station, the CIA actions are the highest of hypocrisy, which also goes against the basic principles that the American people hold high.
bias in our justice system
Over two decades ago I first wrote an Op Ed piece on the value of a human life. The focus was that in this society we continue to value a human life on a sliding scale with white males at the top and black males at the bottom. Yes, our societal norms have changed over the centuries since the first Africans were brought to the shores of the Americas, but have our values, especially in terms of valuing human life, changed. If you look at what is taking place today, the answer is probably NO.
you are the enemy
“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” — John F. Kennedy, 1962
One might think that, by turning Martin Luther King, Jr., into a cultural icon and electing a black president, America has bid farewell to its racist past. Recent events in Ferguson, MO, New York, and Phoenix, however, blow holes in that fantasy. Only by neutering King could America iconify him. Virtually anyone can resonate with the “I Have a Dream” King of 1963. But the “Beyond Vietnam” King of 1967 makes us squirm in profound discomfort.
One of my black friends confided in me this week that he was really demoralized by all of the events surrounding the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. He was so devastated that it affected his mood, work and outlook for the future. This is a man who had a successful career, is buoyant by nature, sociable, outgoing and a humorist. He continued: “Specifically, the events in Ferguson, Mo. and Staten Island, NY plus the widespread disrespect shown to my President has made me — a normally optimistic person–very pessimistic about the future of race relationships in the U.S.”
pain in the ass
I’ve been getting older for awhile now. The whole thing starts happening around the time I’m six years old, though truthfully, it’s entirely possible that my aging could have started earlier. (But since this is my account of the story, we’ll agree it started on my sixth birthday, the one where I was all dressed up in new Roy Rogers regalla as I blew out candles and wished for a birthday pony that never showed up.) For years, ‘my aging’ rolled along in more or less an orderly fashion and at fairly comfortable pace. I paid scant attention to it — except for birthdays, of course. Truth be told, even at an early age, I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the concept of relentlessly getting older.
chronic v. infectious
This is a very short opinion piece because I don’t think it need must explanation. I want you to think the recent events in Dallas regarding the transmission of Ebola on to American soil. I see it as a big wake up call to all Americans, but specifically to affluent America. Why do I say that? For the vast majority of the 20th century our medical care system was based on a public health model…
“If the planet dies, all causes are lost causes.” — Anonymous
Humanity’s fate hangs on a tight race between two tipping points: a scientific one and a cognitive one. Scientists use the term “tipping point” to refer to a runaway feedback loop that, when triggered, abruptly and irreversibly changes the behavior of a system, such as the climate. For example, when permafrost melts, it releases methane, 50 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Thus: global warming, melting permafrost, more atmospheric methane, more global warming…
problems, not targets
Six years ago, President Obama was all for bringing our troops home from far-off wars. Much of that has happened. Now new threats to world peace are prompting some war hawks to push for “sending in the troops,” no matter where the trouble is brewing.
Good thing our military is controlled by a civilian Secretary of Defense. The military men will always advise on sending in the troops. They are trained to recommend no other way.
It’s fair to say that the South and Scotland go back a ways. For example, the cult of the “Lost Cause” that sprang up in the aftermath of the South’s failed fight for independence had something of an antecedent in the fabled “lost cause” of the Scottish Jacobites whose four-decade struggle to restore to the Stuart monarchy of Scotland to its rightful seat on the thrones of England, Scotland, and Ireland was heartily romanticized in the novels of Sir Walter Scott…
That hawkish Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham have once again blasted President Barack Obama for an insufficiently bellicose foreign policy barely qualifies as news. Of course they did. That is what they do. The scorpion always stings the frog halfway across the stream. What is worth noting is the rationale offered they present for a much riskier American foreign policy.
in the name of balance
I have claimed that America now faces one of the most profound crises in its history, but unlike with the other major crises, this time our national conversation has not focused on discussing what’s gone wrong and how it might be set right. If I’m right, what does that say about the performance of the press? Our founders instituted special protections for the press not because they had a love for journalists, but because they recognized that a free press is necessary for the maintenance of a free society.
united we stand
At first blush, the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street appear as bookends: opposing grass-roots movements on the political right and left, respectively. At second blush, the Tea Party seems the more successful. In the 2010 mid-term elections, one-third of Tea Party-backed candidates won, reclaiming the House for Republicans. And an unknown Tea Party libertarian just defeated House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in Virginia’s GOP primary. Occupy’s one obvious success is searing the 99 percent meme into the national consciousness. But a look under the hood of each is instructive.
u.s. media coverage
Listen to those defending Israeli violence against the Palestinians in Gaza and what you hear is denial. They cannot deny the facts and instead deny their emotional and moral significance. They agree that the Israeli military is bombarding Gaza and that thirteen hundred have been killed as a consequence. Rather than admit that the bombardment constitutes a humanitarian disaster and heinous war crime, however, they leap to the rhetorical devices of blaming the victim and condemning the condemner.
world cup futbol
Dear Soccer: Congratulations! The World Cup has been truly great. You`ve really outdone yourself this time around. As it turns out, you really ARE a ‘beautiful game.’ You’ve had boffo TV ratings and you’ve inspired a resurgence of U.S. national pride. You’ve even raised our awareness of geography — such as the fact that South America is not really “… Alabama, Mississippi and the parts of Georgia that ain’t Atlanta” as many Americans previously thought. We learned other things too, such as…
lifting the veil
I am not an attorney. Indeed, the entire contents of this article is to be considered nothing more than what it is, an observation and rant regarding the recent Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision and a potential unintended consequence thereof. As a citizen, I am entitled to make observations about any damn thing I choose. This is just such an observation and not legal advice and, again, I AIN’T A LAWYER.
As the US futbol team moved from regulation into that mysterious realm known as extra time during the elimination World Cup match against Belgium, I was attending the Richland (SC) County Council meeting. Minutes before the meeting kicked off, one of the council members found the streaming broadcast on his county provided laptop. Belgium scored and he was confused as to why the madness continued. In American sports, sudden death means sudden victory.
Cochran's Mississippi Victory
The Lie: Up is Down, Night is Day. The dark spirit can lead people to see the world in a very different way than it is. There is indeed a very big problem with the Republicans, I say to the Tea Partiers, but it is the very opposite of the RINO problem you see it as. What a display of brokenness of consciousness, to see things as the very opposite of what they are! Thad Cochran isn’t aligned with the Democrats…
Cochran's Mississippi Victory
The Spirit of War. These unhinged Tea Partiers. We see they are unhinged because they are denouncing the “RINO’s” these days, trying to get rid of every Republican that is ever willing to talk to a Democrat, who’s willing to give up when the battle has been lost (like on Obamacare), who is willing to make the necessary concession when outplayed and not drive the nation into default. The unhingedness of the Tea Party — the great disconnect from reality — is also dark. It is the spirit of war. Conflict is all it will accept.
do it yourself
So, the Supreme Court has ruled that there is no Constitutional basis for agents of government requiring employers to provide particular kinds of health insurance coverage to their employees. But, I’d go further and argue that, if health services are part of the general welfare responsibilities of government, delegating those to employers is both irresponsible and inefficient. Adding a layer of middlemen in the form of insurance companies is bad enough. Expecting employers to pay the bill is adding insult to injury.
How much more slovenly can broadcast speech become? I can’t be the only one who wonders, and I’m surprised at how often the slovenly speech comes from the lips of top-of-the-line communications professionals. Hardly a day goes by that some network news announcer somewhere doesn’t talk about “Present Obama.” He (or she) is referring to the “Present” of the United States, of course. And if I’ve heard “opportunies” once, I’ve heard it a thousand times.
Cochran's Mississippi Victory
Too aligned with the Democrats? In the Tea Partiers denunciations of the Republicans, in the aftermath of Cochran’s victory in Mississippi, it keeps coming out that they see the Republicans as altogether too much like the Democrats, and too much working with them. Unhinged! Here we have a Republican opposition in Congress that has made the president’s failure its top priority from Day One, trying to keep him from accomplishing anything– not even CARING what kind of outcome would be best for the nation.
It’s almost pathetic, the Sea Island Beach Club setting up a playground in the dunes along the lines of “if we build it, they will come.”
Then along comes James Holland on one of his morning inspection flights, takes pictures and circles what he judges to be clearly illicit intrusions and impositions on the dynamic dunes.
And Holland’s got the statutes to prove his point:
Cochran's Mississippi Victory
We often hear about the disconnect from reality on the right. Paul Krugman keeps exclaiming about the way his peers as professional economists, who are on the right, continue to generate zombie ideas (disproved but never die) and refuse to recognize when they’ve been proven wrong– contrary to every value of intellectual integrity that Krugman holds dear.
Here at Blue Virginia, Lowell Feld tells us, again and again between parentheses in the morning news report, how bat**** crazy so much of what we see on the right (think E.W. Jackson) is.
It is so strange that Amazon would institute a policy that fixes something no one thinks is a problem in order to placate 400 established authors trying to limit the market opportunities of other authors. In this case, Amazon is unilaterally deleting reviews people post regarding books being sold by Amazon.
This makes no sense as Amazon’s reason for being is to sell stuff, in this case books. Apparently, Amazon does not police for revenge reviews…
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.