LikeTheDew.com http://likethedew.com A journal of progressive Southern culture and politics Sun, 22 Apr 2018 12:06:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.5 http://likethedew.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/cropped-DewLogoSquare825-32x32.png LikeTheDew.com http://likethedew.com 32 32 Testimony, Robbie Robertson & Gangster, George Anastasia http://likethedew.com/2018/04/16/testimony-robbie-robertson-gangster-george-anastasia/ http://likethedew.com/2018/04/16/testimony-robbie-robertson-gangster-george-anastasia/#respond Mon, 16 Apr 2018 16:55:56 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=69182

The title of this memoir, Testimony, begs the question, where’s the cross examination?

This Wheel's on Fire: Levon Helm and the Story of the BandMy jokey reference has to do with the feud between Robertson and drummer Levon Helm. That tension is finessed in this intriguing view of one of rock’s great bands, the Americana rockers, the Band. Levon’s main complaint in his book, This Wheel’s on Fire, was that Robbie pretty much broke up the band by hoarding songwriting credits, and the money that brought his way. Robbie claims that he insisted on equal credits, shared royalties early on, but later in the book mentions, without explanation, that he made sure Richard and Rick got credit on one of his songs. Obviously he wouldn’t have to do that if they were taking equal credit.

It’s an unsettled argument. I tend to come down with tradition. The songwriter gets songwriter royalties, the performers get performance royalties, so that’s just standard. REM deviated perhaps by sharing equally but Stipe only did the lyrics so that makes sense. It is absolutely true that the other members of The Band gave the songs personality, contributing mightily to their success… yet, that is recognized in performance royalties. But I ain’t arguing, I don’t get any of that action. Besides, Levon seemed like an ornery cuss sometimes, even without the array of paranoia-inducing drugs he, and they, got into. Witness him leaving the band when they were touring with and getting boo-ed by Dylan’s folk fans for going electric. Witness him pulling the scope out of his nose-throat exam in that documentary. And witness Levon, Rick and Richard all going stupid and doing heroin. So, petty stuff went on, yeah, but what music came out of that combination of personalities. They probably could have made interesting music getting lyrics out of the phone book but Robbie’s lyrics hit a chord with the public.

Testimony by Robbie RobertsonThe Last WaltzIn Testimony, the book covers Robertson’s early life but ends after the Band’s filmed finale in the venue they first played as the Band, San Francisco’s Winterland. This was the acclaimed film, The Last Waltz. It is so hard to get and hold a band together, a truth echoed in Robbie’s observation when he spent time with John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo and of course in his own band. This is a fun part of the book, little teasing introductions to celebs Robbie routinely ran into – Jonie Mitchell, James Taylor, Carly Simon, Miles Davis, Henry Miller, David Geffen, Charles Loyd, Neil Young, Jamie James (Jimmie Hendrix), Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, SLN crew, endless musicians, apparently totally comfortable and un-awed. Just as Previte the gangster found himself the smartest guy in the room, so did Robbie, often enough to insure his acceptance in those rarified circles.

At 15, Robbie’s then band opened for Ronnie Hawkins in Toronto. Ronnie was impressed and invited the precocious guitarist to audition. He dropped out of high school and trained to Arkansa, was given a chance to prove himself and worked to make that happen. They had to disguise his age since they were playing clubs he was too young to enter – fake mustache, etc;. Levon Helm, the only other eventual Band member at the time, became Robbie’s mentor and confidant. Personnel changes and Ronnie Hawkins’ eventual shift in interest whittled the group out and down to the five guys who made music history, first as Dylan’s backup band, then as the Band. It was their musical mastery and Robbie’s songs (and Dylan’s) at the heart of their taking the country by storm. Funny, in some of Dylan’s interviews he complained about getting bands together in high school and having someone come along and steal the players. He finally got his revenge by swooping in on Ronnie Hawkins, taking the Band on tour.

CarnyI watched an interview with Robbie, promoting his book, on youtube. He wasn’t asked if he’s still making music or much about what he’s been up to. Immediately after The Last Waltz, he was in a film with Gary Busey and Jody Foster, Carny it was called. But apparently he made enough money and got enough of the spotlight that he could just do whatever quiet thing he decided to do. Which, wikipedia tells me, is a lot: producing other artists, doing film scores, solo albums, co-writing, getting awards left and right. Having a rich, princely life.

Gangster by George AnastasiaThe first song Robbie got published, at 15, was stolen by a mob-infiltrated publishing company. Which brings me to another book I’ve been reading, Gangster by George Anastasia. This is a genre I return to periodically, that I find fascinating for some reason. One of the many despicable things mobsters do is move in on an established business, like the publishing company, and take it over, or demand a percentage of the profits for “protection,” maybe use if also for money laundering.

Ron Previte was nudged out of the Air Force when his incorrigible thievery became obvious but not proveable. With an honorable discharge he was able to join the Philadelphia police department where he took his skills to new heights. Again his behavior, not so uncommon for awhile in that department, became a liability when a reformist Chief came aboard. Nudged out again he took up security work at the new Atlantic City casinos. Now the thievery got truly imaginative, profitable and decadent. Eventually he was busted and became an informer for the New Jersey State Police. This allowed him to pursue his criminality unimpeded. Disgusted with him after some years the state passed him onto the FBI.

His casino and street work had brought him into contact with the Philadelphia mob and since he was such an “earner” he wormed his way into their hearts. He discovered that he was pretty consistently the smartest guy in the room so didn’t mind ratting these sorry guys out, feeling that it was only a matter of time before they were all in prison anyway. Over a period of years he wore a wire and got the goods for the FBI. He continued his shake-downs, extortion, drugs, receiving stolen property business (never murder he claims), making substantial money all while drawing a salary from the Feds and allowing them to fund schemes designed to lure mobsters into drug deals and various other illegal operations in order to get them off the streets.

Previte seemed to admire the old time gangsters with their Omerta and so-called “honor” but the new version, typified by New York’s John Gotti, was foolishly flamboyant, way too public, courting the media, public and ostentatious spending, seeking celebrity… obviously bringing attention to themselves in ways that would advantage the authorities who wanted to bring them down. Omerta of course was the code of silence practiced by the older generation but suddenly, facing life in prison, many criminals, even high-ranking Cosa Nostra made members, did deals with prosecutors that decimated the ranks. There certainly was no lack of replacements but it was becoming more and more stressful and risky to pursue criminality for profit. The deal-making with authorities became quite contagious and, at least for awhile, the Philadelphia mob was in disarray.

The government made a deal with the highest ranking mobster in Philadelphia to testify against his former cronies, which didn’t work out so well for the government. Juries returned “not proven” verdicts on all charges dependent on boss Ralph Natale’s testimony. The government had Natale but gave it up for nothing, as it turned out. The big boss is handed a get-out-of-jail-free card. Ron Previte however, with his tapes, was more successful, putting many of the crew in for relatively long terms. They were not convicted of the murders they were surely guilty of, disappointing the prosecutors and FBI, having traded the top boss for a chance at the others, especially the real boss, Joey Merlino. They did however put top cadre away for a good many years, 14 for Merlino, not enough given his crimes, but still… and the Feds were moving in on the replacement boss, Joe Ligambi, now presiding over only about a dozen members, down from 70. And the 300 pound “fat rat”, Ron Previte? Five years probation and a million dollars for risking his life to make those recordings. Of course the vacuum created by good police work was soon filled by Russian and East European gangsters, another story.

Tom Ferguson

Tom Ferguson

Tom is a painter, a cartoonist, a musician, a thinker and more. View some of his web sites:

  • www.thinkspeak.net (Painting)
  • toons.thinkspeak.net (Political Cartoons)
  • thinkspeak.bandcamp.com (Music)
  • tfthinkspeak.blogspot.com (blog)

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Southern Men http://likethedew.com/2018/04/14/southern-men/ http://likethedew.com/2018/04/14/southern-men/#respond Sat, 14 Apr 2018 16:25:40 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=69163 Whiskey Myers. Chad recently told me about these guys and through the magic of Apple Music, I looked them up, sampled a few songs, and downloaded their latest album. Apple Music, like Amazon Prime, is about as close as one can get to having a crack dealer. Whiskey Myers is a Southern Rock band with good songs, an interesting singer, and enough variety to keep listening. I play them from time to time but have recently been flooded by other music and neglecting the guys.]]>

My middle child and I are having a disagreement about music. The dust up is over a band called Whiskey Myers. Chad recently told me about these guys and through the magic of Apple Music, I looked them up, sampled a few songs, and downloaded their latest album. Apple Music, like Amazon Prime, is about as close as one can get to having a crack dealer.

Whiskey Myers is a Southern Rock band with good songs, an interesting singer, and enough variety to keep listening. I play them from time to time but have recently been flooded by other music and neglecting the guys.

Nathaniel Rateliff has a new album. I’ve rediscovered legends John Prine and James McMurtry, and the death of Dolores O’Riordan reminded me of the genius of the Cranberries, which reminded me of intriguing girl singers, which brought new interest in the Pretenders. So I’ve been busy.

In a more recent phone conversation, Chad told me he wanted us to learn “Ballad of a Southern Man“, a Whiskey Myers song he likes. So I downloaded the song and the chords. The first verse perturbed me significantly.

In two stanzas and a chorus, “Ballad of a Southern Man” clicked every box of the Republican political strategy of the last fifty years; God, Guns, and White Supremacy. This has not only worked extremely well in American political races, it excels in the music world, especially Country Music. Charlie Daniels, Toby Keith, and Hank Jr, have made millions hitting those same hot points over and over. Many others have followed suit; artistically and financially.

I’ve never been a fan of such stuff. Those talking points are inflammatory, too simple, and untrue. The history of America is steeped in intriguing, complicated events and issues not easily explained in song verses or bumper stickers. But bumper stickers and song verses match our political philosophy and attention span. So they work.

Ballad immediately mentioned gun ownership, family loyalty, religion, and disdain for rich, establishment figures. In the second verse, they offer a stanza that reads: “We still pledge the original way and say ‘Merry Christmas’ not ‘Happy Holidays’.”

As we should know, the original version of the Pledge of Allegiance was geared toward schoolkids, dreamed up by two flag salesmen brothers, and made no mention of God. Most people this song is targeting think Franklin and Jefferson penned the Pledge in the original Constitution.

As far as Christmas is concerned, anyone that thinks saying Happy Holidays diminishes Christ, hasn’t been paying attention. Christmas is the most lucrative holiday of the year worldwide, lost any semblance of reverence decades ago, and was stolen from a pagan celebration of the Winter Solstice called Saturnalia. Happy Holidays indeed.

I’ve been conflicted about my southern-ness since I realized black people were just like I was and quit standing for “Dixie,” forty years ago. I’m proud of my heritage but am trying to reconcile my past while moving forward. Waving the Stars and Bars in one hand while brandishing my AR 15 doesn’t work for me. Besides, the Republicans have used this formula to slowly destroy the middle and working class of America under the very noses of those most damaged by it.

I like my Southern Boy songs with at least a little more thought. After cooling down from hearing “Ballad of a Southern Man,” I downloaded “Good Old Boys Like Me,” a classic by the honey voiced, incomparable Don Williams.

I’m better now.

Mike Cox

Mike Cox

Mike Cox currently writes a weekly column in South Carolina for the Columbia Star called "It's Not a Criticism, It's an Observation." He is trying to grow old as gracefully as possible without condemning the current generation in charge to doom. Each day this task gets harder as the overwhelming evidence mounts. He currently has two published books; Finding Daddy Cox, and October Saturdays. His columns have won three South Carolina Press Association awards since 2003. Mike has three sons and two grandchildren and lives in Irmo, Sc, just outside of Columbia.

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Life in the Key of Stupid 4/12/18 http://likethedew.com/2018/04/12/life-in-the-key-of-stupid/ http://likethedew.com/2018/04/12/life-in-the-key-of-stupid/#respond Thu, 12 Apr 2018 21:21:57 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=69153

Pennsylvania, now leading the nation in school security, takes it up a notch again.

The folks in Erie, Pennsylvania, not to be outdone by the folks in Schuylkill County PA, have raised the bar (or bat) in the school protection racket.

You may have heard that Schuylkill County, PA. is lamely doling out buckets of rocks (I shit you not) to students and faculty to sling-about in case semi-automatic weapons fire goes wafting through their classrooms. But Erie, PA. is supplying a far more deadly weapon – a baseball bat. And not a full size bat either – it is a deadly, miniature, 18 inch baseball bat. My guess is the wily folks who thought this up made it miniature so it can be legally used as a “concealed carry” bat. Permits and 6 months of appropriate training will be required in order to carry it.

Minature Bat Given out to schools
William Hall, the superintendent of the Millcreek Township School District in Pennsylvania, with one of the miniature bats given to teachers in response to recent school shootings. (Credit: a screenshot of video from Erie News Now)

William Hall, the superintendent of the Millcreek School district, didn’t want to get everyone’s hopes up too high and said,

“We’re not just going to go hide.” The 18-inch wood bats are also meant to be “symbolic, to remind people that the old policy of simply turning off the lights, shutting the door and hiding, is not enough..” Now, he says,“one option is fighting back. They are no match, of course, for a gunman toting a semiautomatic weapon.”

Even so, Mr. Hall said, “I think a bat could disarm a pistol with a nice swing.”

(I passed out for 20 minutes after reading that last part).

What say you? Turning off the lights is not a strong enough deterrent to bullets zipping around at 3,000 feet per second? And a magic, symbolic bat to beat back the real, non-symbolic bullets may be the right defense?

Well, on top of thinking that Willy Hall is a symbolic ignoramus, apparently this is what a generation raised on 50 years of Sgt. Rock and Archie comic books brings to the party.

Don’t restrict weapons – give a teacher a bat? Are. You. Fucking. Kidding. Me?

New 2018 Pennsylvania School Shooting Policy Strategy:

A school shooter will mistakenly think, Sally, a 5th grader, sneaking up real close to him, carrying a miniature baseball bat, is just on her way to miniature baseball practice and poses no threat. While the shooter is preoccupied killing everyone else in the room Sally is able to lay the shitheel out with a real old-fashioned ass-whipping.

OK, good to know, I will be removing my child from that school. Stupid should not be part of the curriculum.

Mr. Hall, not content to be knee deep in stupid, went full belly-flop and said,

“The bats are meant to be used only during a “hard lockdown situation and are locked up in the district’s buildings and classrooms so they don’t fall into the wrong hands.”

(At this point I passed out again).

Let me get this straight: They wisely lockdown these magic, bullet-defying, miniature baseball bats – but don’t lockdown the regular, non-weapons grade, baseball bats used in gym class?

Here’s todays homework kids – please write neatly and put your name in the upper right hand corner:

Billy’s country locked down all the actual weapons.

Jimmy’s country gave everybody magic baseball bats and rocks.

Who dies next week, Jimmy or Billy?

Is it just me or does this all smell like a huge, reeking pile of dumbass?

Trevor Stone Irvin

Trevor Stone Irvin

Illustrator and Designer living in the Candler Park area...At one time I worked at the Atlanta Constitution and then for CNN at the startup...it all seemed too much like real work so I went freelance...which my father defined as "being unemployed for a real long time".

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The New ‘Unspeakable’ http://likethedew.com/2018/04/09/the-new-unspeakable/ http://likethedew.com/2018/04/09/the-new-unspeakable/#respond Mon, 09 Apr 2018 12:22:35 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=69139 In Brecht's play "Galeleo" two fellows have just witnessed the shenanigans of the hierarchy and one, stunned, asks, "How do they do it?" The other replies, "It is easy once you get the knack of it." ]]>

Forty-four years ago yesterday, on April 8, 1974, the American Psychiatric Association took homosexuals off its sick list.

Reparations? Refunds?

No. Instead they created a new category of disorder, namely homosexual clients who have trouble coping with society’s stigma — the same stigma to which the APA had long given its imprimatur.

In Brecht’s play “Galeleo” two fellows have just witnessed the shenanigans of the hierarchy and one, stunned, asks, “How do they do it?” The other replies, “It is easy once you get the knack of it.”

doctor using battery charger clampsI am enormously grateful that my parents were Baptists and held a healthy distrust of psycho babel. Had they been Episcopalians they might have subjected me to months and months of reparative therapy.

I got an inkling of what that alternative entails when I went for therapy at the Psychological Clinic of the University of Alabama while coping with the stresses of graduate school. The clinic offered me a choice: either a “regular” therapist to cope with stress, or, if I preferred, an aversion therapist to help me cope with my homosexuality.

The latter would connect my genitals to a gadget that administered varying degrees of electronic shock. Once wired, they gave male clients naked pictures of persons of their own gender. If the clients grew tumescent, the machine responded with a jolt of shock. The goal was to make homosexual objects anathema for the clients.

Aversion therapy was practiced all over the country, not just in the backwaters of the Black Warrior River in Tuscaloosa.

“I am quite comfortable with my homosexuality, thank you very much,” I responded, “and I do not need shock treatments to engender the anathema which I already experience for aversion therapists.”

Two or three decades later, as one of Tuscaloosa’s most published graduates, I asked the chair of the Psychological Clinic what the University of Alabama had done to help the victims of the, by then, long discredited aversion techniques. She never replied.

“I’m sorry” is the new “unspeakable.”

Louie Crew Clay

Louie Crew Clay,  81, is an Anniston, Alabama native and Professor Emeritus at Rutgers. He lives in East Orange, NJ, with Ernest Clay, his husband for 44 years. He holds an M.A. from Auburn University, a Ph.D. from the University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa), and honorary doctorates from three seminaries of the Episcopal Church. He is the founder of Integrity, an international organization of lgbt Episcopalians/Anglicans. Editors have published 2,730+ of Louie Crew Clay's poems and essays — including Letters from Samaria: The Prose & Poetry of Louie Crew Clay, NYC: Church Publishing, Inc., November 2015 and  Our Station Forgot to Give the Evening News,  Poetry Superhighway. An eBook in the press' annual 'The Great Poetry E-Book Free-For-All,' online from December 1, 2016. You can follow his work at Rutgers.edu. See also Wikipedia.org. The University of Michigan collects Clay’s papers.

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Yes, the Austin Bomber Was A Terrorist http://likethedew.com/2018/04/07/yes-the-austin-bomber-was-a-terrorist/ http://likethedew.com/2018/04/07/yes-the-austin-bomber-was-a-terrorist/#respond Sat, 07 Apr 2018 13:02:32 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=69128

As I write this column, I am teaching a class on terrorism at LaGrange College.  We watch films, have discussions, and conduct research projects into terrorism to see if it works….and its ability to accomplish its goals are vastly overstated.  We ask what is terrorism, and who is a terrorist.

If the Austin bomber had a Muslim-sounding name, or converted to Islam, people would have no problem pegging him as a terrorist.  But because he’s American, and claims to be a Christian, so many seem so reluctant to call him what he is: a terrorist, and a particularly nasty one.  Instead, they paint him as a sad “troubled soul” that we’re supposed to sympathize with.

Austin terrorist bomber Mark Conditt (facebook)
Austin terrorist bomber Mark Conditt

People are wary of calling Mark Conditt a terrorist because he posted a number of religiously conservative views at his online college class.  But of course being a Christian conservative doesn’t mean you are a terrorist.  In fact, Jesus Christ would clearly reject Conditt’s actions.

But maybe there’s another way to look at this.  One of the films I show for people is “Katherine,” starring Sissy Spacek, set in the 1970s, based on a real person.  She’s a nice college girl from a rich family who goes to Guatemala to teach the poor people, and finds nothing but oppression abroad.  She finds the same when she tries to aid inner-city kids.  Even those she tries to help in both cases reject her naïve idealism.

She self-radicalizes, joins a group of leftist militants, and tries to set off a bomb to kill many, but it explodes prematurely, taking her life.  She’s painted as a sympathetic character, but she’s still obviously a terrorist.  Regardless of your aims or ideals, you’re judged by your methods, and no end is justified by the means of the slaughter of innocents.

The other reason people fear labeling Conditt a terrorist is perhaps they fear their own son or daughter could easily become this person.  As CBS reports “Conditt’s family said in a statement they had ‘no idea of the darkness that Mark must have been in.’”

However, Conditt’s family didn’t have him in your typical church and Sunday school where you learn that Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself.  He was a part of a group called “RIOT” (Righteous Invasion Of Truth), where this “Christian” survivalist group discussed weapons and dangerous chemicals (and how to mix them) and would role-play, according to The Independent.  He had a target list of additional victims, provided a video report where he expressed no remorse for the killings.  And he waited to detonate the bomb until the police got to his car door, trying to take down a few officers in his own cowardly suicide blast.

Are we surprised when someone enters an ISIS camp, and then carries out a terrorist attack?  Even if that kid is “troubled” or “seemed like a nice guy” beforehand, does it really matter?

What’s important to remember that just because someone is liberal or conservative, Christian, Muslim or otherwise, it doesn’t make you a terrorist to believe in something or seek change.  When you take steps to implement your views which violate your religious beliefs, or in our case, what America stands for, you’re a terrorist, regardless of skin color, religion, economic class, or ideology.  And we need to investigate the connection between hate groups and terrorism, as such attacks threaten our country.

 

John A. Tures

John A. Tures

John A. Tures is an Associate Professor of Political Science at LaGrange College in Georgia.  He writes about international politics, elections, sports, and the War of 1812.

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If By MAGA http://likethedew.com/2018/03/27/if-by-maga/ http://likethedew.com/2018/03/27/if-by-maga/#respond Tue, 27 Mar 2018 12:46:52 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=69084 de facto and de jure - is embedded in the nation’s culture; an America in which the oppression of people of color is so prevalent as to be invisible to the oppressors; an America in which anti-Semitic attitudes are normative...]]>

My friends, I had not intended to discuss this controversial subject at this particular time. However, I want you to know that I do not shun controversy. On the contrary, I will take a stand on any issue at any time, regardless of how fraught with controversy it might be. You have asked me how I feel about MAGA. All right, here is how I feel about MAGA:

Make America Great, Hate, All, War, Pollute, Unjust, Sick, Selfish, Unequal, Unfair, Lie, Fear, Cruel, Bully, Sexist, Thuggish, Stupid, Scared - or Truthful, Just, Fair, Smart, A Friend, Equal, Clean, Hopeful, Help, Free, Healthy, Kind, At Peace, Good, Groovy, Happy, Vote, Think AgainIf when you say MAGA you mean returning to an America in which systematic racism – both de facto and de jure – is embedded in the nation’s culture; an America in which the oppression of people of color is so prevalent as to be invisible to the oppressors; an America in which anti-Semitic attitudes are normative; an America in which a simple glance suffices as justification for a brutal death sentence administered by hateful mobs; an America that reviles rather than welcomes the stranger; an America in which the air and rivers are dark with industrial poisons; an America in which religious minorities are treated with contempt rather than the respect enshrined in the nation’s Constitution; an America in which tens of thousands of our youth are sacrificed needlessly on the altar of geopolitics in an unwinnable war; an America in which our industries and the world’s economy are hobbled by protectivism; an America in which great medical advances are used to enrich the few rather than cure the many; an America in which the high offices of the nation are occupied by kleptocrats who seek to enrich themselves by virtue of their positions; an America in which politicians exhibit a flagrant disregard for the truth; an America in which self-serving propaganda is lauded while the free press is excoriated; then certainly I am against it.

But, if when you say MAGA you mean an America in which members of all political persuasions value the Constitution and the nation’s interests over those of their own party; an America in which the spirit of compromise is alive and healthy; an America that speaks softly but carries a big stick; an America that is a steadfast friend to its allies and an implacable enemy to its foes; an America in which all citizens, regardless of color, national origin, religion, and sexual preference, are protected from discrimination; an America in which women control their own procreative capabilities; an America with clear air and clean water; an America that extends a helping hand to the poorest among us; an America in which all citizens possess equal opportunity to succeed to the best of their abilities; an America that is inclusive rather than exclusive; an America in which the press is valued as a guarantor of freedom; an America with an economy unfettered by trade restrictions and that stands astride the world as a Colossus; an America that inspires the globe by its values; an America that lifts its lamp beside the golden door; then certainly I am for it.

This is my stand. I will not retreat from it. I will not compromise.

[Inspired by the famous 1952 “If By Whiskey” speech by Noah S. “Soggy” Sweat, Jr., of Mississippi.]

 

Steve Krodman

Steve Krodman

Steve Krodman, AKA the Bard of Affliction, lives in the steaming suburbs of Atlanta with his wife and cat. He is partial to good food, fine wine, tasteful literature, and Ridiculous Poetry. Most significantly, he has translated the Mr. Ed theme song into four languages.

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Stone Age Stupidity http://likethedew.com/2018/03/26/stone-age-stupidity/ http://likethedew.com/2018/03/26/stone-age-stupidity/#respond Mon, 26 Mar 2018 11:12:47 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=69076 A Pennsylvania school has taken great steps in implementing a safety policy for mass school shootings.

The solution is to supply the teachers and students with weapons capable of repelling the onslaught of a shooter wielding an automatic weapon. Match firepower with firepower you say? Not quite. Each classroom will be supplied with a 5 gallon bucket filled with rocks … yes, rocks. These deadly rocks will be used to bring down any maniac with an AR-15 that happens by, spitting lead, at about 2 rounds per second.

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A Pennsylvania school has taken great steps in implementing a safety policy for mass school shootings.

The solution is to supply the teachers and students with weapons capable of repelling the onslaught of a shooter wielding an automatic weapon. Match firepower with firepower you say? Not quite. Each classroom will be supplied with a 5 gallon bucket filled with rocks … yes, rocks. These deadly rocks will be used to bring down any maniac with an AR-15 that happens by, spitting lead, at about 2 rounds per second.

How does this work? Mrs. McWissenhimer, the 4th grade teacher, passes out rocks to the students one by one, whispering, “Bobby, you have the best arm, get out in the hallway and take that sonufabitch out.” While crawling out the window, she yells to the class, “If Bobby goes down, send out big Sarah to take a run at him-good luck!”

Yes, folks we’ve brought back the most bizarre form of defensive “stoning” since David and Goliath.

I can only assume that school budgets will increase so students and faculty will receive the appropriate number of hours of rock tossin’ training – as accuracy will be critical. If really stretched, the budget for science books could instead be used for the installation of vats of boiling oil on the roof above every entrance to delay shooters– Yes, we’ll try anything, anything but take his fuckin’ gun away, noooo, we don’t want to do that.

Up until now a student’s only defense has been to grab the odd microscope or black board eraser to heave, willy-nilly, at marauding shooters in order to defend themselves – As anyone can see, that is purely an act of desperation. But a five gallon bucket of rocks, well now, that’s a sure-fire, well-crafted, defense strategy guaran-damn-teed to save lives.

Little Jimmy can stop sweatin’ now – cuz’ all it takes to stop a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a rock.

There is an old saying: Never bring a knife to a gunfight – I’m going to include rocks in that strategy as well.

If rock throwing was an effective deterrent to automatic weapons fire – the NRA would stand for the National Rock Association and Bass Pro Shops would have a whole line of high caliber rocks for sale.

Hey, here’s an idea – lets equip every child and teacher with Hollywood, movie-style, blood packets. At the first sign of trouble every student and faculty member would explode their blood packets, flop over, and play dead where they sat … the shooter, walking through the school would assume that another shooter had already beat him to it and move on to the local Starbucks in frustration. Yes, blood stains all over your good school clothes is a high price to pay, but at least everyone is still alive. (See, doesn’t that sound stupid? – Yes it does, because it is).

To add a dose of ignorant to stupid- Former GOP Pennsylvania senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum said Sunday that the protesting students should respond to the massacre of their classmates by “taking CPR classes” instead of “looking to someone else to solve their problem.” Really? A CPR class is gonna solve this problem?

I read Santorum’s comment to say “Fuck all you kids, Congress ain’t gonna do shit for you, but your whiny ass needs to learn CPR.” It doesn’t get more ignorant and condescending than that.

Is this really what is seen as reasonable in today’s America?

We give a child a rock to defend its life against a gun? We suggest that learning CPR to keep classmates alive while being shot at – is a solution? This what masquerades as reason in America today? Does this makes any sense at all? Forget home ownership, forget affordable health care — is the American Dream now simply to survive high school in the most violent western society on earth?

I thought school was to teach biology, history or trigonometry – The curriculum is now Absurd Strategies in Death Avoidance.

If you think that this is reasonable – I have a bucket full of rocks with your name on it.

Trevor Stone Irvin

Trevor Stone Irvin

Illustrator and Designer living in the Candler Park area...At one time I worked at the Atlanta Constitution and then for CNN at the startup...it all seemed too much like real work so I went freelance...which my father defined as "being unemployed for a real long time".

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Atomic Accidents, One Summer, The Way of All Flesh, O. Henry, James Gallant http://likethedew.com/2018/03/25/atomic-accidents-one-summer-the-way-of-all-flesh-o-henry-james-gallant/ http://likethedew.com/2018/03/25/atomic-accidents-one-summer-the-way-of-all-flesh-o-henry-james-gallant/#respond Sun, 25 Mar 2018 18:31:55 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=69060

Reading books carefully by Tom FergusonGiven the facts about the effects of the livestock industry on the life system, our health and the animals, meat-eaters are nudged toward vegetarianism, vegetarians towards veganism. Denial of course kicks in quickly for many. Given the facts about nuclear power and weapons, the devastating accidents, already upon us and hanging over us always potentially, with its expense, its mind-bogglingly long-term waste, its devilishly complicated design and proliferation issues, the average person shudders and takes a stand against. The average nuclear physicist or technician, enthralled with the intricate technical challenges, may acknowledge the dangers and expense but in the end, overwhelmingly, like the meat-eater, comes down in favor.

Atomic Accidents, A History of Nuclear Meltdowns and Disasters by James MahaffeyThus comes down James Mahaffey in his book, Atomic Accidents, A History of Nuclear Meltdowns and Disasters. Despite Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and now Fukushima (and many others), all discussed quite objectively in the book, with just the slightest pro-nuke coloration, he jumps to a conclusion little different than the propaganda we’ve heard over the years. True, he is grounded in knowledge that allows him to pounce upon mis-readings and misunderstandings among the non-scientist opposition but still, we’re talking about boiling water here. Well, and destroying civilization – the slow way or the fast way. But to the scientist, all this is understandably fascinating. It’s a bit like religion. The first one that gets ahold of you, you usually stick to. Why isn’t the challenge of intermittency for solar and wind as fascinating a challenge? Seems reasonable to assume that it could be met given the billions spent on nuclear. Some claim that it is already met. See Arjun Makhijani’s, Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free, A Roadmap for U.S. Energy Policy, a free download at IEER.org (Institute for Energy & Environmental Research). Then there is the disturbing fact Harvey Wasserman points out, that every nuclear reactor is a pre-positioned nuclear device to a terrorist.

A Brief History of Nearly Everything by Bill BrysonBill Bryson is an entertaining writer. His, A Brief History of Nearly Everything starts out by explaining that the Universe as we know it is rather roomy. And he does try to cover everything the development of science has revealed. To keep it interesting he often lingers on dramatic threats, like the fact that the whole of Yellowstone is a potential magma explosion, perhaps relieved or delayed by the effusions of Old Faithful and the like. Were the explosion to occur we would have basically the same effect as nuclear winter with a massive dust cloud blocking the sun for longer than civilization can probably stand, at least the U.S. version. And this explosion happens to be well overdue if you believe in geologic patterns. His One Summer is lighter fare. Everything in the book pivots from some event that happened in the summer of 1927. Lindberg’s crossing the Atlantic, Al Capone’s corrupting presence in Chicago, talking movies, broadway plays and the exodus to Hollywood of its finest actors, Henry Ford’s Model T and A, the decisions that locked in the coming stock market crash, Coolidge, Hoover and Roosevelt. And, as they say, more! A very fun read for your beach trip.

The Way of All Flesh by Samuel ButlerNow I had heard somehow of the book by Samuel Butler, The Way of All Flesh. At one time I scoured yard sales picking up paperback classics by anyone I ever heard of in the great book department. This I recently found in my collection, so yellowed and brittle that, after a few pages I decided to get a hardback copy from the library. I even wrote a song, stealing the title without having read it in 1990, The Way of the Flesh (see https://thinkspeak.bandcamp.com/track/the-way-of-the-flesh). Well I’ve always been impressed by people who can talk, or write and this guy, Sam Butler is one, not as witty perhaps as Sam Clemens, but still, eloquent and knowledgeable enough to impress me, and keep me reading. He is constantly meandering off his story with little asides exploring human psychology, usually ending with an indeterminate dismissal of the subject as hopelessly controversial. As I’m only a few chapters into it I have little to report other than it fits into the late 19th century oeuvre of master writers, some claiming it as standing very near the tippy top of the genre.

The Best Short Stories of O. Henry William Sidney PorterSpeaking of eloquence and mastery of language, I seem to remember an early television series called O. Henry, based on his short stories (real name William Sidney Porter). The writer, similar approximate time-frame to Butler, interestingly spent some time in prison where he began to develop the craft of, as my friend Jim Marsh calls it, scribbling. Poor bloke had only ten years to write, dying with 23 cents in his pocket. I put one of his books on library hold and when I picked it up needed help to carry it to the car. I can only take it a short story at a time for it weighs heavily on my lap. I’ve developed a callous and a crink in my left hand holding it up, turning the pages with my right. So far it is situated in Central America where the author spent some time. He is noted for his kind of Rod Serling-esgue twists in the endings without the metaphysical aspect. I am going to have to renew this one more than once, coming in at 1400 pages.

Whatever Happened to Ohio? by James GallantI’ll end this sojourn with a reference to the new James Gallant e-book I’ve acquired, Whatever Happened to Ohio?. It has a wonderful hot-air balloon cover image to kind of lure you into the whimsical fantasy aspect of the tale. Said tale is highly populated, shifting from character to character in a tentatively bewildering mix which I trust, knowing Gallant’s skills, will evolve into some mightily interesting, clever and satisfying resolution. The proof is in his earlier book, The Big Bust at Tyrone’s Rooming House, set in my Atlanta neighborhood. http://tfthinkspeak.blogspot.com/2017/10/meandering-mind-stream.html This is the first e-book I’ve read and I do declare, it has some appealing features. It certainly isn’t heavy in my lap.

Tom Ferguson

Tom Ferguson

Tom is a painter, a cartoonist, a musician, a thinker and more. View some of his web sites:

  • www.thinkspeak.net (Painting)
  • toons.thinkspeak.net (Political Cartoons)
  • thinkspeak.bandcamp.com (Music)
  • tfthinkspeak.blogspot.com (blog)

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Military Veterans And Law Enforcement Take On The PROSPER Act http://likethedew.com/2018/03/24/military-veterans-and-law-enforcement-take-on-the-prosper-act/ http://likethedew.com/2018/03/24/military-veterans-and-law-enforcement-take-on-the-prosper-act/#respond Sat, 24 Mar 2018 12:26:55 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=69054 G.I. Bill, enabling military veterans the ability to go to college, something we owed to those who sacrificed so much for our freedom.  So now when we hear that veterans groups are lining up against the PROSPER Act (H.R. 4508), an attempt to shake-up the Higher Education Act of 1965, it’s worth listening to them. In the Inside Higher Ed article “Veterans Blast GOP Bill as Giveaway to For-Profits,” Andrew Kreighbaum writes “ [O]rganizations are lining up to oppose House legislation to reauthorize the law governing federal student aid, college accountability and many other aspects of higher ed. The bill, they argue, is a giveaway to predatory programs. These groups said the legislation would make veterans more vulnerable than ever to for-profit colleges of questionable quality.”  And these groups range from the American Legion to the Veterans of Foreign Wars.]]>

One of the most successful programs our country ever created was the G.I. Bill, enabling military veterans the ability to go to college, something we owed to those who sacrificed so much for our freedom.  So now when we hear that veterans groups are lining up against the PROSPER Act (H.R. 4508), an attempt to shake-up the Higher Education Act of 1965, it’s worth listening to them.

In the Inside Higher Ed article “Veterans Blast GOP Bill as Giveaway to For-Profits,” Andrew Kreighbaum writes “ [O]rganizations are lining up to oppose House legislation to reauthorize the law governing federal student aid, college accountability and many other aspects of higher ed. The bill, they argue, is a giveaway to predatory programs. These groups said the legislation would make veterans more vulnerable than ever to for-profit colleges of questionable quality.”  And these groups range from the American Legion to the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Cost of higher educationResearch by The Chicago Tribune show that for-profit schools have default rates more than seven times that of the non-profit private institutions.  This shows that private education can and does work in America, and veterans should be allowed to go to those small liberal arts colleges, where the hands-on experience and low student-to-faculty ratio are idea for them.

In fact, I’ve had the privilege of teaching several, who bring a real-world experience to my classes, filling in details for my terrorism classes, international politics, and conflict courses.  Just the other week, when a veteran of the War in Afghanistan was part of our presentation in Mobile, Alabama on groups and strategies, his discussion of the Northern Alliance and first hand encounters had the audience of professors and graduate students paying close attention.

Some vets are liberal, but most others are decidedly more conservative.  They tell me they appreciate my efforts to offer balanced courses, and like the focus on evidence-based research and statistics.  And they provide a work ethic that’s a good lesson for our students.

But what they don’t want is a watered-down education, having to pay a lot for a little.  And they’re not alone.  Law enforcement has taken a skeptical look at the PROSPER Act as well.

“A bipartisan group of 30 attorneys general signed on to a letter Thursday opposing House legislation to reauthorize the Higher Education Act over a provision that would bar states from regulating student loan servicers,” writes Kreighbaum in another article, titled “AGs Oppose PROSPER Act Over Ban On State Oversight Of Loan Servicers.”

They responded harshly to a notice from Education Secretary Betsy DeVos that only the national government can regulate loan servicing companies.  “At a time when millions of Americans are struggling with student debt, we need more cops on the beat — not fewer,” wrote one Attorney General.

Congress has already shown a willingness to work across party lines for reform.  Already, Republicans and Democrats have boosted Pell Grants, the National Science Foundation, and preserved the National Endowment for the Humanities, while many of the DeVos initiatives went down to defeat.

Later this month, Lt. General Ronald Burgess and Police Chief Lou Dekmar will be addressing our college students at separate events.  We’re listening to the military and law enforcement.  It’s time the rest of the country hears what they have to say about the PROSPER Act and attempts to revise the Higher Education Act which has served us so well since 1965.

 

John A. Tures

John A. Tures

John A. Tures is an Associate Professor of Political Science at LaGrange College in Georgia.  He writes about international politics, elections, sports, and the War of 1812.

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Queer Credentials http://likethedew.com/2018/03/21/queer-credentials/ http://likethedew.com/2018/03/21/queer-credentials/#respond Wed, 21 Mar 2018 10:36:16 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=69037 Macon Herald, (Thursday, March 20, 1975): 1. The Birchite paper quoted Presiding Bishop James Dees, Anglican Orthodox Church, suggesting that my husband Ernest Clay and I had caused a local tornado. We did. That's queer power for you! We took good aim too, taking the steeple off the white Baptist church whose pastor had excoriated us.]]>

Forty-three years ago today: The headline blared: “National ‘Gay’ Group Active in Ft. Valley,” Macon Herald, (Thursday, March 20, 1975): 1. The Birchite paper quoted Presiding Bishop James Dees, Anglican Orthodox Church, suggesting that my husband Ernest Clay and I had caused a local tornado.

We did. That’s queer power for you! We took good aim too, taking the steeple off the white Baptist church whose pastor had excoriated us.

A dean and colleague at Fort Valley State University lived next door. He said that with credentials like that I should apply to head the school’s Department of Agriculture. A friend asked Ernest and me to kiss in her garden so that her greens would grow.

The funny bone of most citizens atrophied. The following year the vestry of my parish asked me to “find some other place to worship.” I explained that I was there not at their invitation, but at the invitation of the Lord of the feast. Sunday after Sunday the vicar refused to share The Peace with me, and the Episcopal Bishop of Atlanta summoned me for discipline saying that I was “disturbing the peace and good order of the church.”

My friend Father Richard Younge in San Jose, California warned me not to get a big head about this attention: “It takes no special magic to cause a tornado in central Georgia. Instead, try making rain in the Mojave Desert.”

“Happy are you when people shall say all manner of evil about you falsely regarding your faith in me. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad.”

Louie Crew Clay

Louie Crew Clay,  81, is an Anniston, Alabama native and Professor Emeritus at Rutgers. He lives in East Orange, NJ, with Ernest Clay, his husband for 44 years. He holds an M.A. from Auburn University, a Ph.D. from the University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa), and honorary doctorates from three seminaries of the Episcopal Church. He is the founder of Integrity, an international organization of lgbt Episcopalians/Anglicans. Editors have published 2,730+ of Louie Crew Clay's poems and essays — including Letters from Samaria: The Prose & Poetry of Louie Crew Clay, NYC: Church Publishing, Inc., November 2015 and  Our Station Forgot to Give the Evening News,  Poetry Superhighway. An eBook in the press' annual 'The Great Poetry E-Book Free-For-All,' online from December 1, 2016. You can follow his work at Rutgers.edu. See also Wikipedia.org. The University of Michigan collects Clay’s papers.

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So What If Healthcare Is A Right? http://likethedew.com/2018/03/18/so-what-if-healthcare-is-a-right/ http://likethedew.com/2018/03/18/so-what-if-healthcare-is-a-right/#respond Sun, 18 Mar 2018 11:42:10 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=69027

Donald Trump does one thing very well. He sucks all the oxygen out of the news space, making it close to impossible for anybody to find out about anything that’s not him. But in 2003 before Trump came on the scene blotting out everything else, then U. S. Representative John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) introduced a sweeping health care bill meant to revolutionize the country’s health care delivery system. He reintroduced the bill in every Congress until his retirement and it’s still pending in the House of Representatives as H. R. 676, “The Expanded and Improved Medicare For All Act.” As the title suggests, if enacted, the bill would establish a universal, single-payer health care system financed by a range of new taxes.

CADUSEUS CAMPFIRE by Daryl CagleThe moral principle that proponents of universal health care appeal to is that it’s a right, not a privilege. Right on cue, Representative Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) invoked the principle when he announced that he’s taking over as the bill’s point man. “Health care,” he said, “is a human right, and Medicare for All is an idea whose time has come.”

It’s an indication of how freighted the principle is that Atul Gawande, a highly regarded commentator on health care, devoted a New Yorker Magazine article last fall to the question whether the principle is true, that is, whether health care is a right. It’s also a measure of how hard it is to say anything useful about this that Gawande punted, settling for just reporting some ordinary health care consumers’ befuddled, incoherent musings on the subject.

It’s a reasonable guess that vindicating the principle is so urgent to many people because they think that, if true, it would settle all the outstanding health care policy issues at a stroke. Advocates seem to think that there’s a short inferential path from the principle to the policy.

But there isn’t. So instead of doing what Gawande couldn’t or wouldn’t, I’m just going to stipulate, as the lawyers say, that health care is a right and try to figure out where that leaves us at the policy level. If I’ve got this right, it turns out that accepting health care as a right leaves us about where we are now.

It’s not hard to see why proponents of Medicare for all think that appealing to the health-care-is-a-right principle gives them a lot of leverage in the policy debates. After all, rights are very strong moral claims. If I have a right to something, then you have corresponding duties toward me. That’s why we’re all so eager to claim rights to one thing and another. If they weren’t moral chits that we could call in against other people, nobody would care about them.

But there are rights and there are rights. A lot of conservatives seize on the Declaration of Independence rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” as paradigm cases of rights. That’s because the duties corresponding to those rights are just duties of forbearance, of mere non-interference. So all it takes for me to discharge my duty to respect your rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is basically to leave you alone. Duties of forbearance aren’t very costly or burdensome.

A right to health care, though, isn’t like that. If I have a right to health care, then you have toward me a performance duty. That is, you have a duty, not just to stay out of my hair, but to actually do something that gets me the health care I have a right to. And it’s because a right to health care imposes performance duties on others that conservatives don’t want to hear about any such right. Or at least they think they don’t.

If a right to health care imposes a corresponding performance duty, who exactly has that right? Intuitively, it seems that everybody would. But is that true?

According to Business Insider, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is worth upwards of $100 billion. If he needs a heart transplant, for which the going rate, depending on where you are, is $1 million give or take, about thirty minutes worth of his last year’s earnings would cover the bill. I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t think I have a duty to kick in for Jeff’s replacement ticker. Able to buy and sell me countless times over, he can self-insure for any conceivable health care he might need and still have eye-popping wealth left to indulge his every whim.

My intuitions about Bezos-type cases tell me that we don’t have an unqualified right to health care. What we have is a right to health care that we need and can’t afford. In other words, we have a means tested right to health care.

But guess what? That qualified right to health care is already deeply embedded in government policy, the most obvious example being Medicaid, established in 1965. We’re at one another’s throats about where to fix the qualifying income level, what services should be covered, how much providers should be paid and a whole bunch of other vexing issues. But there’s a broad consensus favoring a means tested right to health care.

If political morality gets us no further than this qualified right to health care, how do we get to a single-payer system of universal coverage? If there’s anything to my story so far, just saying “Health care is a right, not a privilege!” over and over again won’t do it. To see why, let me disturb Jeff Bezos again.

I said that I don’t think I have a performance duty to help Jeff get a heart transplant, or even a bottle of aspirin. But if I have a means tested right to a heart transplant, he has a duty to help me get one if I need it but can’t put my hands on $1 million. And as we found out with the Affordable Care Act, people really, really don’t like to be taxed to fund a public benefit that they don’t themselves qualify for or want. One thing that made the Affordable Care Act so politically toxic is that people who didn’t qualify for its premium subsidies were furious over being taxed to fund subsidies for people who did.

On a reasonable understanding of the principle that health care is a right, then, it doesn’t capture everybody. Not everybody has a right to health care. It’s only people who need it and can’t afford it who have a right to it. Those are the only people toward whom society has a corresponding performance duty.

That puts us squarely atop one of the most active fault lines in American political life, where there’s unremitting conflict about who really “needs” health care and who really “can’t afford” it, those on one side pushing to expand the morally deserving population and those on the other pushing back in the opposite direction. For example, as the New York Times reported recently, several states have applied for waivers so they can require able bodied Medicaid beneficiaries to work. Predictably, work requirements provoked howls of outrage from health care rights advocates, who think the requirements are contrary to the program’s original purpose. But so entrenched is the principle of health care as a means tested right that even officials in one state which has a work requirement defend it, with a straight face, as promoting the health of Medicaid beneficiaries.

If there’s a case for Medicare for everybody, then it’s based less on political morality than on the tactical benefit of means testing nobody, to spare us the prospect of endless debilitating warfare over who does and doesn’t deserve it. The reason that our current Medicare system for those over age sixty-five is so uncontroversial isn’t because we’ve checked out that population and determined that they all “deserve” health care largely on the government’s dime. It’s because we’ve decided not to even ask that question about them. So if we ever get to Medicare for all, that’s how we’re going to get there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leon Galis

I'm an Athens, GA, native and have been living in Athens since 1999 after retiring from the faculty of Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, PA. Since 2008 I've written approximately 80 columns for the Athens Banner Herald and a handful for Flagpole Magazine in Athens.  

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Bullying http://likethedew.com/2018/03/16/bullying/ http://likethedew.com/2018/03/16/bullying/#respond Fri, 16 Mar 2018 11:22:53 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=69021 Camden County Tribune & Georgian published an article about a recent case of “bullying” at our high school. A link to a video was posted on the T&G's Facebook page – and I urge you all to use great caution before you watch it. Please check to make sure there are no children around, that it won't be seen by those who are emotionally fragile, and that you, yourself, are well braced.]]>

Today, the Camden County Tribune & Georgian published an article about a recent case of “bullying” at our high school. A link to a video was posted on the T&G’s Facebook page – and I urge you all to use great caution before you watch it. Please check to make sure there are no children around, that it won’t be seen by those who are emotionally fragile, and that you, yourself, are well braced.

“Two Camden County juveniles were arrested for sending this disturbing death threat video to some fellow students, but only served a few days in a youth detention center before being released back to school. Because the charge was reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor, the students will face no punishment by the school system.”

This is not “bullying” – it is terrorism at its most foul and cowardly. The video is the culmination of an ongoing program of torment on the part of students who chose to target three others. It is horrifying, nauseating, shockingly professional, and will lodge itself in your mind and heart.

All that prevents me from wanting to lock the perpetrators up and throw away the key is that they are teens themselves and obviously in need of psychological intervention. As it is, the two boys were given a plea deal for “misdemeanor disorderly conduct”…and they returned to school. That’s it. (And after each tragedy rocks this nation, people ask “Why didn’t anyone see that coming?”)

Weeping angel statue by Alex KearnsI ache for the parents of the victims. Were I them, I think my rage would lead me into questionable waters. And what do you tell their younger siblings? What do we tell ourselves?

I cannot help but think that the prevailing fad of applauding and embracing socio-political thuggery and intolerance is bearing toxic fruit. For each wretched anti-LGBTQ “religious freedom” bill (nothing more than reprehensible legislated bigotry), there is a child who is learning to feed and unleash the monster of cruelty inside. For every adult that mouths racist opinions and prattles mindless slogans of xenophobia, there is a rock in the hand of a young man or woman. And with every blow to the ideals of compassion and equality, another child is broken.

Related:

An open letter to Senator William Ligon (R – GA).

How dare you, sir? How dare you presume to say that you represent us and then proceed to act in such a way as to revolt many of your constituents and violate our trust?

On Feb. 23, 2018, the Georgia State Senate passed your SB-375 (the so-called “Keep Faith in Adoption and Foster Care Act”); a vile piece of legislated discrimination that will allow child welfare organizations, including adoption and foster care agencies (even those that are taxpayer funded), to refuse to place children with same-sex couples. What “faith” is this? Whose “faith” is this? Not mine, I assure you.

Senator Ligon, are you aware that there are more than 400,000 children in foster care nationwide and almost 14,000 in Georgia alone? Should your efforts not be directed toward attracting qualified parents and not attacking gay couples who seek only to provide a child with a solid and loving permanent home? And to do so on “religious” grounds? I am sickened by your blatant and sanctimonious display of hypocritical legerdemain.

And what of interfaith couples, single parents, divorcees and others with whom an agency might have a “religious” objection? Are the Christian/Jew couple to be punished? What about mixed-raced couples? Or are you planning to exhume miscegenation laws as your next trick? Once you’ve set us on the rancid, greasy slope of LGBTQ Jim Crow laws, where will it end? But then you’re not even making a cosmetic pretense at “separate but equal”, are you Senator Ligon? You’re just standing on your flimsy high-horse and throwing crushing rocks at those of whom you disapprove – and you’re doing it in our name.

How dare you! How dare you and your like-minded brethren convert your version of Christianity into a bullet and shoot it into the hearts of those who seek only to provide a home for a child in need. 
YOU DO NOT SPEAK FOR ME – and your actions are fueling the fires of hatred. (See above and read through again and again…imagining that your own child, Sir, was a target of vicious bullying/terrorism.)

Sen. William Ligon
121-E State Capitol
Atlanta, GA 30334 
Phone: (404) 463-1383
Email: william.ligon@senate.ga.gov

Addendum:

It has been a brutal day of shock, disgust, and (hopefully) introspection in Camden County as people try to make sense of the incomprehensible terrorizing of three of our most-loved high school students. There is little I wouldn’t do right now to crumble rafters, shout down walls, rattle the doors of complacency, and scream the truth to those who pretend that justice was done.

(I hope that my intense rage isn’t influenced by my past eleven years as the victim of a death-threat-spewing cyberstalker…but I don’t know. I, too, sought action by the courts and law enforcement and I, too, was told that “there’s not much we can do about it until he shoots ya.”) But I suspect that it’s just my extreme allergy to unfairness and that my mother-self that has roared within me since I saw the video.

And then that makes me wonder: how do the parents of the perpetrators feel? Proud of their miscreant little progeny or alarmed that they are so horribly off-track? And then I want to weep for the children who thought that making such a video (or tormenting others at all) was right or funny or clever. What is to become of them? The concept and production of the video required a level of sophisticated malevolence that shakes me.

There is a way forward in all of this – beyond the usual “forgetting in the face of the next atrocity” – but I don’t know what it is. I pray for healing for all involved. And greater wisdom and insight for myself so that I can do more than write, write, write.

There it is – a very minor epiphany. This case has, for many of us, exhumed every other lost or hurt child, every online attack, every student who failed to come home from school, every Matthew Shepard, every back turned in cruel judgment, every hope crushed by the damnation of an intolerant society, every politician willing to turn a blind eye, every one who thinks “It’s not my problem.”

Thank you for “listening” as I tap out my thoughts. Hug your kids for me, please.

Alex Kearns

Alex Kearns

Alex writes for a variety of national and international publications. A relative newcomer to the United States, she co-founded her town's first environmental organization (The St. Marys EarthKeepers, Inc.). In turns bemused, confused, entranced, frustrated and delighted, she enjoys unravelling the eternal enigma that is the Deep South.

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A Rant-let http://likethedew.com/2018/03/14/a-rant-let/ http://likethedew.com/2018/03/14/a-rant-let/#respond Wed, 14 Mar 2018 13:21:19 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=69017

I seem to have spent much of the past few decades wondering how or why others appear to be tuned in to a different frequency than I. The most basic of values are so often shockingly dissimilar, definitions are opposing, and the entire approach to life is so unalike as to make me wonder if we’re even the same species.

Case in point: a man on a Facebook page that I administer is vociferously in favor of a sometimes-contentious local issue. Fair enough – many people support this initiative. But I was curious about this rather disturbingly vehement man so I looked at his page.

Boy wearing googles and a colander on his head attached to some voltage meterIt is a festering public hellhole of pro-gun memes, falsehoods, “alternative facts”, anti-immigrant images, knee-jerk hatred, and other revolting lunacy. I’m sure that when he’s not glued to his keyboard, he probably seems like a fairly normal guy – and to many people in this country, he IS normal.

And that’s where I get confused and, admittedly, just a tad pessimistic. We are told to “find the middle-ground” but where exactly is that elusive real estate when we’re talking about things like racism? Slightly racist is okay as long as one doesn’t go all white-hood? Sexism is fine short of raping a woman? Xenophobia is tolerable as long as you don’t shoot immigrants? Homophobia is all right if you refrain from physically attacking an LGBTQ individual – deny them equality and respect all day long, just don’t beat them up?

I’m the first to proclaim that human life is 7 billion+ shades of grey – but I also know that some things are absolute…for me. There is no middle-ground in the question of whose “rights” are paramount; a madman’s to obtain a gun or a child’s to live to see the end of a school day; a “religious freedom” politician pandering to the lowest (intellectually) constituent’s or a same-sex couple’s to marry and build a family; a man whose masculinity is predicated on demeaning and subjugating females or a woman who strives to attain equality in all things.

Meh…I’m going to go back to listening to my own station. I know there are others out there but that doesn’t mean I have to dance to their discordant tunes in that polluted moral bog known as “the middle-ground.”

Alex Kearns

Alex Kearns

Alex writes for a variety of national and international publications. A relative newcomer to the United States, she co-founded her town's first environmental organization (The St. Marys EarthKeepers, Inc.). In turns bemused, confused, entranced, frustrated and delighted, she enjoys unravelling the eternal enigma that is the Deep South.

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Why Tariffs Hurt Our Economy, But Are “Steel” Used By Politicians http://likethedew.com/2018/03/11/why-tariffs-hurt-our-economy-but-are-steel-used-by-politicians/ http://likethedew.com/2018/03/11/why-tariffs-hurt-our-economy-but-are-steel-used-by-politicians/#respond Sun, 11 Mar 2018 12:34:37 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=68959

Tariffs, another name for taxes on trade, are a favorite tool of politicians to get some extra revenue, whip up some economic nationalist sentiment, and provide the promise of “protecting” American business.  But history has proved how disastrous such tariffs can be for our whole economy.  It will be the same with the new tariffs on steel and aluminum, until President Trump learns the same hard lesson that Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, Ulysses Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, Benjamin Harrison, Grover Cleveland, Herbert Hoover, Richard Nixon, and George W. Bush had to discover.

Protectionism by Adam ZyglisWhile the 1833 Tariff (opposed by the South) is credited with helping America raise enough revenue to balance the budget, the following Panic of 1837 exposed America’s economic weakness, and inhibited the U.S. ability to trade its way out of the problem.  It also bequeathed the country an issue that divided the North and South, helping contribute to the country’s Civil War years later.

Most think the Great Depression was America’s worst economic catastrophe, but it was really the Panic of 1873, which lasted six years, as opposed to the Great Depression, which lasted for four years.  And while the trigger event may have involved railroad speculation and inflation, the long-standing policy of maintaining high tariffs during and after the Civil War certainly played a major factor.  These were designed to pay off the war, but merely held back America’s economic potential with a divisiveness that hurt the country’s ability to make trade partners.

The Panic of 1893-1894 hit America as hard as the Great Depression.  A major factor in this sharp and severe recession was the imposition of a strong tariff bill, the McKinley Tariff Bill.  As with all tariffs, the bill had questionable benefits, but clear increases in prices on all Americans and paved the way for foreign retaliation on American products, and the loss of 93 Republican seats.  As the bill slowly strangled the U.S. economy, it was replaced with the Wilson-Gorman Tariff Act, which lowered American tariffs, ending the downturn, ironically paving the way for McKinley’s victory in the next election, proving voters have short memories.

Did tariffs cause the Great Depression?  My education students learn in their textbooks that it was the stock market crash that caused that economic calamity in 1929, and the massive tariff bill, the “Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act” was signed into law in 1930.  But that fails to note that (a) the Smoot-Hawley bill was working its way through Congress in 1929, before the crash, and (b) markets panicked at the realization that a trade war and higher prices were heading toward America, according to Fortune Magazine.

In fact, a report that the tariffs would be far bigger than originally planned came out a day before the market tanked writes David Z. Morris, author of the Fortune report.  Furthermore, those deleterious tariffs contributed to drag down the U.S. economy, as global trade fell by 66 percent between 1929 and 1934, another point made by Morris.  The woeful Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act was a major reason why the Reciprocal Trade Agreement Act took the tariff power from Congress, giving it to the president in 1934.  But the damage was done, as the trade war it started undermined Western cooperation, enabling Adolf Hitler to take advantage of the situation.

While Richard Nixon’s ill-fated 1971 tariff binge did not produce a similar market crash, most rate the decade’s economic performance as sluggish, a strong contrast to the impressive growth of the 1960s, 1980s and 1990s, which were accompanied by American reductions in tariffs.

Such trends occurred until George W. Bush’s brief foray into tariffs, when he imposed his own taxes on foreign steel.  While these were rescinded a short time later, the damage had been done.  Not only had the economy lost an estimated 200,000 jobs and billions of dollars, but confidence in the president’s ability to manage the economy was gone.  As a result, when the stock market collapsed, few trusted the president to handle the situation effectively, remembering his poorly conceived tariff policy from earlier in his administration.

It’s clear that tariffs protect a few industries and some jobs, but risk others to exposure in terms of higher prices and retaliation from other countries, hurting our exports.  Consumers wind up having to pay more for products, leading to recessions or worse.  Hopefully, President Trump will come to his senses and remove these tariffs, before it’s too late.

John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Georgia.  He can be reached at jtures@lagrange.edu. His Twitter account is JohnTures2.

John A. Tures

John A. Tures

John A. Tures is an Associate Professor of Political Science at LaGrange College in Georgia.  He writes about international politics, elections, sports, and the War of 1812.

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Open letter to Sen. Isakson http://likethedew.com/2018/03/07/open-letter-to-sen-isakson/ http://likethedew.com/2018/03/07/open-letter-to-sen-isakson/#respond Wed, 07 Mar 2018 16:10:05 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=68951 It would be encouraging if our elected leaders took fact-based positions rather than making invalid assertions defending the status quo. Such practices are especially troubling when, by blocking needed reforms, enormous hardships are imposed on taxpayers.

In your message of Feb. 6, you made several statements that profoundly misrepresent realities about climate-change in rationalizing your indefensible position.

First, you assert that there’s been a “gradual” warming of the earth over the last half-century. Temperature data for the past 150 years reveals that the rate of our planet’s rising temperature has become unprecedentedly rapid.

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It would be encouraging if our elected leaders took fact-based positions rather than making invalid assertions defending the status quo. Such practices are especially troubling when, by blocking needed reforms, enormous hardships are imposed on taxpayers.

In your message of Feb. 6, you made several statements that profoundly misrepresent realities about climate-change in rationalizing your indefensible position.

First, you assert that there’s been a “gradual” warming of the earth over the last half-century. Temperature data for the past 150 years reveals that the rate of our planet’s rising temperature has become unprecedentedly rapid.

While sluggish cyclical changes in global temperature over past centuries and eons have been attributed to natural causes, no such explanations account for the alarmingly fast rate of record-breaking temperatures in recent decades.

Consider the following:

  • Eighteen of the 20 hottest years on record have occurred in the past 20 years, and 2016 was the hottest year ever. [Climate Change Indicators: U.S. and Global Temperature, EPA]
  • According to the National Hurricane Center, the current-dollar cost of hurricane damage in the U.S. – so far in the 21st century – is four times greater than the yearly costs in the previous century. These damages were estimated to be some $300 billion in 2017 alone.
  • Wildfire destruction of U.S. forests has dangerously escalated over the past two decades. In fifteen of the past seventeen years, more forests were destroyed by fire than the 30-year average. [National Interagency Fire Center]

Also misleading is your assertion that there is “uncertainty in the science behind climate change.” To the contrary, the science is quite conclusive about human activities being the primary cause of escalating temperatures and rising sea levels. Numerous authoritative reports conclude that greenhouse-gas emissions are overheating the Earth, and the leaders of every other major nation agree.

By suggesting that the U.S. should stop purchasing “energy” (presumably meaning oil and natural gas) from unfriendly countries, you seem to be unaware that the U.S. is glutted with oil and gas and is now exporting more of these fossil-fuels than ever.

Moreover, your assertion that “making a rush to judgment” would harm the U.S. economy contradicts well-established facts. Clean-energy power-generation (solar and wind) now supports far more jobs than fossil-fuel power, and the costs of carbon-free energy is plummeting, according to the 2017 U.S. Energy and Employment Report.

I strongly implore you to serve the public interest by using accurate information.

David Kyler

David Kyler

Executive Director at Center for a Sustainable Coast.

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