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new neighbor from the west
First sighting, a hazy afternoon near the Georgia-South Carolina border. Driving east on Highway 221 toward Clarks Hill Dam, I spotted a gaunt, leggy, yellow dog loping along the left shoulder. As I approached this wild canine, it darted across the road right in front of me, looking back as if to say, “That was easy.”
“That’s a coyote,” I thought. I had seen one before. Well, maybe. I live on the edge of the largest forest in a city’s limits in the eastern United States. Lots of wildlife around these parts. Deer, bald eagles, and omnipresent opossums. Raccoons, of course. Running a trail here, I spotted a tawny dog…
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.
And how many more times will I be asking myself this question over the next days?
Tomorrow’s presidential election presents a host of conundrums. Voting for a third-party candidate that represents one’s moral principles, like Green Party candidate Jill Stein, is an attractive option… and one that those of us in deep-red states like Mississippi have the advantage of taking. However, especially in the swing states, there are reasons to consider voting for a candidate who…
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.
A pattern in support for Donald Trump has repeated itself twice in recent months. In early August, Trump’s continued questioning of the ability of a judge to do his job because of his Mexican heritage, combined with his days-long attacks on a Gold Star family that had publicly criticized him, led a number of Trump voters to withdraw their support. Then …
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’.)
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…
just for attention
This ugly presidential campaign will soon be over, but ugliness threatens to continue beyond Election Day. Donald Trump, who threatened that if he wins he will seek to jail his opponent, has been inciting his followers with accusations that, if he loses, it’s because of a conspiracy.
Win or lose, Mr. Trump threatens the foundations of American democracy. Polls indicate that Trump probably will lose…
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.
can i hear an amen?
Shortly after the advent of Christianity, the Church Fathers adopted a set of seven “Cardinal Virtues”: humility, charity, temperance, diligence, kindness, patience, and fidelity. These universally desirable traits, which establish the gold-standard for character, were borrowed partly from Greek philosophy and partly from the teachings of the Old and New Testaments.
Mirroring the Seven Cardinal Virtues are Seven Deadly Sins: pride, greed, gluttony, sloth, malicious envy, wrath, and lust…
for the people
Countless electrons are being agitated during this election cycle over what a voter who can’t stomach either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump should do. What’s being offered the conflicted and afflicted is pretty depressing.
One tortured option invites voters to simultaneously salve their consciences and save their country by trading their votes. This strikes me as so bizarre that I’m not sure I even have it right. But the idea seems to be something like this…
Are political courage and smart ideas enough to unseat an entrenched incumbent? Jeremy Salter is counting on a thoughtful electorate ready for overdue criminal justice reform as the challenger in the contest for Floyd County District Attorney against incumbent Leigh Patterson. That Patterson is the most prominent of the four local public officials in the county who recently changed their affiliation from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party adds an element of drama to the race…
That Hillary Clinton trounced Donald Trump in the first debate between the party presidential nominees on September 26, 2016 is obvious. She was clear while he was confusing. She was self-possessed while he was easily baited. The differences were so obvious that they tended to obscure what their responses revealed about their respective geopolitics. A bare bones content analysis of the number of references to locations reveals much about their perspectives on global politics.