rule of the thug
As America enters the Age of Trump, it is important to recognize that what’s happening is not just about Trump, and not just about America. Forces kindred to Trump have lately been ascendant around the world.
We see different manifestations of this same ascendant force that has borne Trump into the presidency in Putin’s Russia, in Erdogan’s Turkey, in Britain’s Brexit movement, in right-wing ethno-nationalist parties across Europe (France, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland, etc.), in Netanyahu’s Israel, and in Duterte’s Philippines.
make america ache again
Amid rising concerns among millions of jobless, destitute and desperately angry white males that he is about to cave to political pressure, President-elect Donald Trump reassured his supporters Monday that he still plans to destroy every last vestige of their health care.
“Everybody who voted for me is not going to have to mess with going to the doctor, I guarantee you!” Trump tweeted …
snake oil salesmen
HSA stands for Health Savings Account, which is what Congress wants to substitute for the ACA to get them off the hook doing what they don’t want to do anyway — provide for the general welfare. The “general welfare” is such a plebeian assignment and never done! Privatization, here we come!
The problem is that bankers …
an education is earned
There is no higher calling than helping young people find their way because you care about them and their futures. There is no higher religion than human service. To work for the good of young people is the highest creed. Reward follows service.
Kathleen Cleaveland gave most of her adult life to her students at Hendersonville High School and she served them extremely well.
greetings from ireland
A year ago, spending Christmas with my son’s family in Ireland, I finally decided to make the move. I’d been living eleven years in Harrisonburg, Virginia, near my youngest son. I was happy in America, comfortable, well established with good friends and plenty of activities. But my son had moved to Kansas in 2014 and I was long flights away from him and his brothers in UK, Ireland, Kansas, Arizona and Australia, all urging me to move …
no right to give up
One of the challenges Bertram Gross’ book, Friendly Fascism, presents the reader with is this: if your views coincide with those that a major, long-term, well-funded propaganda campaign has aimed to instill, wouldn’t it be prudent to reconsider those views? We don’t come into this world armed with disinformation detectors. We tend to trust those around us and more or less uncritically adopt their values. Born into a Muslim world, chances are you’ll be Muslim. Born into a Catholic family in Italy? …
shoring up our godly cred
At noon on January 20, Donald J. Trump will take the oath of office as President of the United States: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” And then he will add the phrase “so help me God.”
Those four little words are not in the Constitution, but …
We were in the vehicle on the interstate traveling to see my dad for his birthday and to have a family dinner when my sister called to say she thought he was having a heart attack and was taking him to the hospital. Other than a handful of colds through his seventy plus years and one case of food poisoning, my dad had been the ultimate mind-over-matter-vitamin and herb-man. I often wondered if he really had the mind-over-matter power, if he could will his heart to heal.
According to a 2016 poll by Yale and George Mason University, 3 out of 4 registered voters think the climate is overheating and more than half believe it’s caused by human activities.
Meanwhile, politicians who are paid millions in campaign contributions by the fossil fuel industry block much-needed action to curtail the worst impacts of continuing emission of greenhouse gases. Due to such corrupt denial of facts, millions of Americans …
He had always wanted to go hunting with his big brother, and this was going to be his first trip. It was also going to be his last.
He got up early. Real early. They wanted to be in position by dawn. Sunrise was at 7:30. That meant they had to leave the house by 6:30, allowing for a half hour drive and a 20-minute walk into position. He was up at 5 o’clock. At least that’s what he told his brother…
Hillary was dead, not dead dead, but dead as a hammer in the world of politics. The Electoral College was dedicated to its duty, and voted according to expectations, with its members then checking themselves into rehab.
It was in this world that The Donald lived. High potentate, head banana, big-wig and man in charge, living large in The Tower while waiting for the residents of the public housing to move out so he could move in, if he decided he wanted to downgrade…
Immediately following the 2016 presidential election, I emailed four German friends: “After 240 years, the great American experiment has ended, badly.”
It’s a grim assessment. I arrived at this discomforting conclusion while raking leaves and talking to a neighbor who served in the Peace Corps in a former Soviet republic. She’s seen failed states firsthand, and America, to her, has that “feel.” And she’s worried her children will grow up in an oligarchy.
It starts by driving 500 miles to seven different tree farms, farmers markets and retail establishments to argue with seven fingered cretins about how “there is no way in hell I’m going to pay you 100 bucks for a dead, eight-foot tree.” At some point, finding yourself in state other than the one in which you started, and having been told by the seventh tree ape to “shove it” in several languages and hand gestures, you decide to cut your losses (no pun intended) …
Perpetrators must first envisage crimes before they commit them. Often that entails a fantasy that their intended victims deserve what’s coming for having committed the same crime. Psychological projection helps dodge acceptance of moral responsibility. When the envisaged crimes are political, the fantasies projected onto opponents are often spun as conspiracy theories.
After years of loopy conspiracism from populist conservatism it is easy to overlook the fact that as primary candidate, as party nominee, and even as President-elect, Donald Trump deployed only a few of the many available conspiracy theories to denounce Hillary Clinton…
I’m burnin’, I’m burnin’, I’m burnin’ for you —Blue Oyster Cult
Against a backdrop of clinking glasses and Motown’s “Baby Love,” TVs around the bar flashed breaking news—an airliner had crashed. The conversation shifted from football rivalries to death and friends who had recently crossed the Great Divide. That led to insurers’ euphemistic “final expenses.”
It was a family story passed down to each generation and could have been made into a movie. In the days when the world needed more heroes my great grandfather quietly told the story of his survival from the Crimean War.
My great grandfather John Cobban was born sometime between 1823 and 1828 when he was christened at Keig in Aberdeenshire, named after his father who was a tenant farmer on a 6,000 acre estate beside the River Don. He worked at the Forbes Estate until he left Scotland to join the 93rd Southern Highlanders and fight in the Crimean War…
The day after the election a man wearing a gun in a pizza joint during lunch was crowing to me, “We elected ‘im!” Alabamians – gun-toting and otherwise – did vote overwhelmingly for Trump. But it was not just Alabama, was it? Every rural area in the country voted for Trump. Big money has run over the Democrats since Reagan, crushed lower-income people and used the resulting disillusionment to build a coalition based on ignorance and resentment …
time running out
Recurring floods on Route 80 from Savannah to Tybee Island provides evidence that sea-level rise is already taking its toll. As the climate continues to overheat, primarily due to the emission of greenhouse gases [GHGs] in burning and producing fossil fuels, sea-level rise and other impacts of climate change will get much worse.
To many, the following outline might seem self-evident but given U.S. presidential election results, a review is apparently in order:
1) The elite (1%) rule for the benefit of themselves, their agenda consisting always of the task of maintaining and expanding their power, privilege and profits.
That’s right. I chose a five-dollar word for saying what 50-cent “forgotten” says, for I come to exalt that legendary offspring of a female horse and donkey. The left-behind mule helped build the South and did so quietly without polluting the air. Then the combustion engine came along, and abandonment became the mule’s fate. It had already been condemned to death in many a story for it’s been said no Southern story is complete without a dead mule…
Naw, you don’t have to waste your pamphlets on me. I’ll be voting the Green Lady, just like last time.
I’m old enough to remember having my first Starbucks coffee, on a chill winter’s day back in 1991. So I guess you could say I was a Party man from way back… a whole lifetime ago, seems like.
It was the Citizens United decision that changed everything. Once corporations were considered to be people …
Trump Tower, USA – In what insiders call a “tweak” to his campaign pledge to build a border wall to keep Mexicans from sneaking into America, president elect Donald Trump plans to move the wall to the Canadian border – to keep terrified Americans from getting out.
“It’s a testament to the power of his presidency,” said a Trump source. “He believes so strongly in …
and a good eraser
“No one perhaps has ever felt passionately towards a lead pencil.” – Virginia Woolf
Liam, our four-year old Australian grandson, recently sent us his first handwritten thank-you note. He used a bright orange crayon on a green card. The letters weren’t all the same size, some were backward, and his name took up most of the page. My wife Jody and I laughed, and we immediately put the note on the refrigerator door.
banished to the forgotten
All burned houses look alike, a jumble of ashes, blackened metal, and charred wood. If you know the house that burned, however, you see ghosts. Just before Thanksgiving, my sister called—Grandmother’s home had burned to the ground. A flood of memories washed over me, like a time-lapse film where clouds stream overhead, dreamy and surreal.
Ironic that it burned two days before Thanksgiving…
red and black publishing
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.
who's your master?
When I started school outside Atlanta, I had some of the very same teachers who had taught my father years before, in the same oiled-floor buildings. Jonesboro was a small town with a big new highway, and was quickly “developing.” Just like everywhere else in the South, the only blacks at my school were janitors or lunchroom workers. Whites and blacks had never attended school together in the South before 1954, when the U.S. Supreme Court declared school segregation illegal.
I have been away for a while, working on a secret project. You know one those “If I tell you I would have to kill you” kind of things.
It was a good time to be away, not reading or listening to the “making the news” reports. My digital newspaper subscription had expired, the light on the Wi-Fi modem router was blinking red and water had penetrated the internet cable so I walked to the store early in the morning and bought a newspaper.
Who would have thought that a bone scan could be such a pleasant experience?
I didn’t. I figured I’d show up at Tidelands Health Waccamaw Hospital in Murrells Inlet, S.C., at the appointed hour, go downstairs to Nuclear Medicine, get an injection, lie on a table and listen to machinery whir around me, then get up and go home.
But two musicians whose day job is in nuclear medicine at the hospital made the scan a truly harmonious (no pun) event.
There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and corporate charity.
Last Tuesday, Nissan Canton continued efforts to whitewash its reputation by giving $20,000 to the Mississippi Food Network’s BackPack program and sending employees to
pose for promotional pictures pack lunches.
“We are humbled to play a role in the efforts to ensure that no child experiences hunger,”
corporate shill Vice President of manufacturing Steve Marsh was quoted as saying.
could it get worse?
For example, here’s what long-time friend and mentor Alabama Senator Hank Sanders had to say about the election in his “Senate Sketches” newspaper article:
I desperately called on my dear mother. Across the chasm of her death nearly 20 years ago, she reminded me of what she said to me and to her many children nearly sixty years ago. I felt her spirit moving within me. I was strengthened. Now, I can go on.
For some two generations now, way too many American liberals have been beguiled by the facile trope of “the Southernization of America,” which blames the nation’s shift to the right since the 1960s on the South’s rapid political, economic, and cultural ascent. If early takes on the 2016 presidential election, which chalk up Trump’s upset triumph to the “revenge” of the rural white voter in traditionally blue northern states and essentially leave it at that, are any indication, we may soon see “ruralization” supplant “Southernization” as the primary threat to political liberalism in this country.
dr. ben carson did what?
Ok, first a quick update: I want to just say I’m very disappointed that it looks as though I did not win either the Electoral College or the popular vote.
My campaign manager Mr. Mittens is digging through the early returns (and his bag of cat nip) in order to find out just where my campaign went south. So, unless the Supreme Court steps in I may not become president this time around. I am also deeply troubled to inform my supporters that my own mother didn’t vote for me…
Every town has its characters. But these “individualists” are usually formed by the character of the town itself.
Sinclair Lewis’ great eponymous novel explored the hopeful adventures of would-be nonconformist George Babbitt, who fails to escape his everyday identity as a real-estate salesman, Rotary Club president, country club and lodge member, and proud wearer of the Booster pin of Zenith, his fictional midsize city. Lewis won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1930 — the first American to take the honor — helped in large part by Babbitt …
do we still believe?
Ever since the polls got Brexit and Trumpocalypse so wrong, inquiring minds have been wondering how could the pollsters, and by extension all the media, lead us astray? In the past week, many publications like The New York Times have discussed the polling problems.
As a survey researcher, my colleagues and I can think of many reasons, but the “science” has its own jargon, and is difficult to explain (or perhaps justify). On private chat boards, they’re trying to figure out what went wrong, and how to deal with the PR problems that arise, muttering things like …
the February 23rd coup
Chaitram Singh’s novel The February 23rd Coup explores the lives of the men behind the military interventions in Latin America in a way in which the textbooks and other military novels cannot.
Depicting the overflow of political and military frustrations through interactions between characters and their superiors, their government, relationships, loyalties, and their brothers-in-arms, the novel allows the reader to fully grasp the effects
breaking through deadlocks
A friend recently asked, “Has anyone ever done a study to determine what causes the type of thinking that claims the only people with value are pretty much like me? If we knew this, could we use the knowledge to raise more caring, accepting children in the years ahead?”
I can speak only for how hard I have found it to learn that lesson. My father carefully, painstakingly educated me to have great expectations of people not like me, yet that education took a long time to take hold and become part of my character.
tinfoil hat crazy
That Donald John Trump will be the 45th President of the United States still seems unreal and that sensation is not helped by the realization that millions of the Americans who voted for him may have done so because of runaway conspriracism. As the improbable candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, the billionaire real estate developer/reality television celebrity played to conservative gullibility by …
no news is good news
Wednesday morning, my bicycle and I are leaving town, bound for Florida and a week-long ride across the Sunshine State. Far from intelligent design, the timing is lucky coincidence. But, there couldn’t be a better day to be shut off from the world by travel, nor a finer week to be pedaling the soft shoulder of some dusty Florida backroad.
Unless, of course, all hell really does break loose Tuesday night. What if we ride into a riot? Our Daytona to Clearwater route is eerily close to the infamous I-4 corridor of Bush v. Gore lore.
I grew up like the Reverend Billy Graham, who would say, “I did not know I was poor back then until someone told me that I was poor.” The country was still in the Great Depression throughout the 1930s, and we weren’t the only family that faced hardship. And there was a perk to being from “the other side of the tracks:” I was privileged to receive a real treat every Saturday morning – for I was a member of The Mayor’s Club.
parody on the stump
One says it can clean your face, your body, and prevent microbe borne disease.
The other focuses on sewage and promises to clean up all clogged systems, sewage related or not.
A contest was held to see which product was more popular.
When it was apparent that people would choose a clean face and body and disease prevention, the Drano producers decided to tout their product as a suppository laxative.
power of truth
How did we get here? How did we end up with a lunatic Republican presidential nominee, an eminently unlikeable Democratic nominee and a middle class apparently unwilling to impose its political will on this American Republic as we stagger toward an election like honey bees in a dying hive?
Our version of colony collapse disorder has been perfectly diagnosed in Low Dishonest Decades, the new book by George Scialabba.
a monstrous force
If Donald Trump wins next Tuesday – God forbid! – then it goes without saying that American politics are in for a time of profound ugliness.
But it is becoming increasingly clear that even if Donald Trump is defeated, a time of ugliness lies ahead. That forecast now goes well beyond the issue of Trump’s telegraphing of a refusal to accept the outcome. The ugliness may well begin with that violation of the American norms …
NOVEMBER FIFTH, 1916
“Boys, who’s your leader?”
Sheriff McRae stood on the dock at Everett, Washington, at the head of a mob of over two hundred vigilantes. The steamboat Verona rocked quietly on the gentle ocean waves. Then, suddenly, laughter broke out among the Industrial Workers of the World “timber-beasts” aboard the boats.
passion for preservation
An Unsung Historian Makes A Difference
If “Big Sky Bill” leads you to believe Bill Fitzpatrick hails from Montana, you’re wrong. Bill was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, but has spent most of his life in the South. After earning an MBA from the University of South Carolina in 1978, Bill chose to stay in South Carolina. He lives in Taylors. So what’s behind the Big Sky connection? He likes Big Sky Ski Resort in Montana because of the great ski weeks he and his daughter have had there near Bozeman.
The South is not completely red politically, just as it is not home to only rednecks.
Come November 8, Southerners will cast about 33 million votes in this oddest and nastiest of presidential elections. Of those, more than 15 million will be for the Democrat, Hillary Clinton. That’s a lot of blue living in what most assume is just red.
Yes, our region, just like our nation, is more purple than just red or blue. In Southern state and federal elections, we’re a reddish purple. In many urban areas in the South, we skew a little more blueish purple.
jimmy carter - photographs
As a photojournalist shooting a baseball game, I’d never once considered that I could be at great peril…but I’d never photographed a game from this position…from on the mound and behind the pitcher.
I stood over the pitcher’s shoulder during his windup watching the batter – his forearms tensed and his gaze narrowly focused on the orb as it left the pitcher’s fingers.
The ball floated nearer, the wood came around, gained speed and then contacted…
stranger than fiction
Mr. Getgood moved up to Self-Made Man Row
Although he swears he’s the salt of the earth
He’s so proud of the “kick-me-hard” sign that they hung on his back at birth.
He said “I appreciate beauty, if I have one, then it’s my fault”
“Beauty is on my pillow, beauty is there in my vault.”
Now just who did Elvis Costello have in mind when he wrote and recorded “…This Town…” in 1988?
what a life
In 1945, Carl Sandburg and his wife, Lillian, moved to the Hendersonville area from a small farm on the shores of Lake Michigan. A lot of people in the area wondered why this famous man had chosen our little community as his new home.
He had paid what was thought to be an astounding price of $45,000 for 248 acres of land that included a three-story main house, a barn complex and several outbuildings. Mr. Sandburg reportedly said he felt he’d bought an entire “village.” Mrs. Sandburg, a breeder of champion milk goats told friends that they had bought “a million acres of sky.”
Every Job You’ve Had, What Did It Teach You?
A Friday evening. In a restaurant where soft music and hard drinks make good neighbors, the regular crowd shuffled in as Billy Joel famously wrote. People took their seats at the bar and each person’s week took center stage. A woman lamented that we spend a third of our life working, prompting Mr. Wise Guy to pipe up. “I should have been born rich instead of so good looking.” That tired line didn’t fit. Still, we knew what he meant…
Hey, Anoni here. Some time since I posted as Gusto and I been busy: busy getting old. Gus limps more than he did a while back, and I’m going deaf. Old age has its compensations, like hearing aids and walking sticks, experience and wisdom, but it ain’t much fun. I compensate by bragging that I’m pushing 80, but Gus just holds his back and groans. No good lying about our age, in fact we’ve got to the stage feeling satisfied, when folks we know drop off the perch and we’re still here.
I am the first write-in presidential candidate who will win in a landslide. So heads up — Hillary is not the only historic choice here.
My run for the highest office in the land has gone exceedingly well. I am the first candidate to run an issue-free, wall-free, policy-free, promise-you-anything-to-get-in-office, campaign. (I know, I know, the Donald is neck-and-neck with me on this, but I’m not worried that he’ll grab the presidency – other stuff, well, you may want to be careful, just sayin’.)
A week after I became engaged to Win Mothershed on my 19th birthday in June of 1961, he left to begin active duty as an ensign in the Navy aboard the U.S. S. Yorktown, home ported in Long Beach, California. So I continued taking classes at Georgia State College, which became Georgia State University in 1971. I got a part-time job as secretary of the maintenance department at St. Joseph’s Infirmary located on Courtland Street in downtown Atlanta…
I admit it: I’m a carpetbagger. For the unenlightened, according to Merriam-Webster, a carpetbagger is “a person from the northern United States who went to the South after the American Civil War seeking private gain under the reconstruction governments.” Colloquially, a carpetbagger is any Yankee who moves to the South…and stays.
As far as the former definition goes, I am indeed “a person from the northern United States who went to the South after the American Civil War.” It was after the Civil War…104 years after…
show me your papers
The first time I was evacuated was in early 1942, at the age of nine months. The allies bombing the German City of Aachen every night had become too traumatic, so my mother took her babe and fled to the Austrian Alps.
So, I spent the next three years in this rustic farm building: two rooms and a veranda and outhouse on the second floor; wood storage, bake oven and chicken coop on the first; no electricity; no running water.
In sports, the Gamecocks wear garnet and black. Clemson wears orange and purple. In politics, South Carolina is red and deep red. These are what are known as “self-evident truths.” Things that just are. While the garnet and orange will probably last until the Second Coming, the red in South Carolina politics is changing – and changing faster than most folks think.
mule lovers memories
A friend told me the other day that “mules are so smart you can’t help but wish they could run for congress. This buddy of mine knows a lot about a lot of things. This particular day he was recalling the glory days of those noble creatures – the mule – now all but forgotten.
He was telling me about how he and another friend were about to cross a bridge and the mule in their charge refused to cross the bridge. It turned out that the bridge was unsafe. This action has unlocked stories and memories of some other mule lovers we know about.
What first struck me about Thomas E Ricks’ book, Fiasco The American Military Adventure in Iraq 2003 to 2005, was the sheer number of establishment figures who opposed the war, many of whom predicted the general consequences to include Isis. Bush the elder, General Colin Powell (despite his eventual disgraceful performance at the U.N.), General Schwarzkoph, Brent Scowcroft, Marine General Anthony Zinne
Viewers can be forgiven if they missed the geopolitics of the second debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on October 9th. The emotional tension in their encounter was certainly unprecedented in American political history. Dramatics notwithstanding, how the nominees perceive or think voters perceive international politics may be discerned from a content analysis of their geographic references.
Note that the geographic references in this debate were more narrowly focused than in the first debate on September 26th…
tallulah falls gorge, ga
When the first cool morning of October serves notice that summer heat really is gone, I recall family trips to Highlands, Cashiers, and Brevard, North Carolina. Seeing mountain forests cloaked in reds, yellows, and oranges, enjoying a breakfast of ham, grits, and redeye gravy, and taking in the wondrous sights of the mountains were fall rites during my youth. To this day, you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn’t love fall and its cavalcade of colors more than I do. It’s part of my heritage.
it is up to us
Last year’s viral internet debate over “The Dress” meme revealed peculiar limits to our perceptions. We argued ourselves silly about the dress’s “real” color, but no one’s mind was changed. We saw what we saw, and we found it bewildering that anyone could see differently.
Unfortunately, political discourse in the United States – if one dignifies it so – has come to resemble “The Dress” debate. Our ideological polarization, coupled with our tendency to validate our beliefs with our favored news sources, make it difficult for many of us to see how intelligent, moral, and sane people could possibly hold policy positions opposing our own.
each a time capsule
In Part I, we learned that life’s concerns three-quarters of a century ago were not that different from today’s interests. What strikes me most about these letters is how differently people communicate today. We send emails with the click of a mouse and they arrive in seconds. People back in 1944 put a lot more effort into their letters. And they were patient. They waited and waited and waited to hear from loved ones and a walk to the mailbox was a suspenseful time. Envelope and parchment held hopes and dreams and more. At times receiving a letter was a crushing experience. We’ve all heard about “Dear John” letters.
Dangerous but unchallenged nonsense is what listeners heard from U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson in his September 30th interview on Georgia Rewind with Bill Nigut. After performing the ritual of joviality between elected officials and journalists with Bill Nigut and Jim Galloway that is expected on the program, the third term Republican got down to the serious business of evading questions and promoting militarism. Asked about legislative gridlock in Congress, Isakson was allowed to reduce the problem to budgeting and then blame it on House Republicans and President Obama.