LikeTheDew.com http://likethedew.com A journal of progressive Southern culture and politics Tue, 21 Aug 2018 18:27:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 http://likethedew.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/cropped-DewLogoSquare825-32x32.png LikeTheDew.com http://likethedew.com 32 32 Global warning: ‘fake news’ is a fraud http://likethedew.com/2018/08/18/global-warning-fake-news-is-a-fraud/ http://likethedew.com/2018/08/18/global-warning-fake-news-is-a-fraud/#respond Sat, 18 Aug 2018 11:36:39 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=69604 Boston Globe, ridiculing its financial difficulties and charging, with typically nonsensical phrasing, that the paper “is now in COLLUSION with other papers on free press. PROVE IT!” How had the Globe offended our most powerful and petty elected official? By encouraging the editorial boards of newspapers coast to coast to same-day publish their own, individual responses to Trump’s incessant press bashing and claims that journalists are “the enemy of the people.” More than 300 papers, large and small, from The New York Times and to the Yankton County Observer in South Dakota, responded to the Globe’s suggestion, standing up for the First Amendment and their own reporters’ integrity.]]>

In yet another alarming tweet about the supposedly “fake” news media, President Donald Trump this week assailed the Boston Globe, ridiculing its financial difficulties and charging, with typically nonsensical phrasing, that the paper “is now in COLLUSION with other papers on free press. PROVE IT!”

How had the Globe offended our most powerful and petty elected official? By encouraging the editorial boards of newspapers coast to coast to same-day publish their own, individual responses to Trump’s incessant press bashing and claims that journalists are “the enemy of the people.” More than 300 papers, large and small, from The New York Times and to the Yankton County Observer in South Dakota, responded to the Globe’s suggestion, standing up for the First Amendment and their own reporters’ integrity. Even the Florida Times Union, which endorsed Trump in 2016, joined the chorus.

Trump’s attack on the Globe in particular is scurrilous — and patently ridiculous. The paper has been published daily since Ulysses S. Grant was president, and whatever profitability problems it has are not, as Trump likes to insinuate, the result of editorial bias. Rather, they have to do with the difficulty of monetizing traditional, general-interest reporting amid the glut of information and opinion that’s available for free – or at least appears free – on the Internet. Even with a reduced budget and staff, it’s still an outstanding, reliable source of news.

Upside down head by the author, © Noel Holston.PROVE IT?

Well, an exhaustive investigation by Globe reporters uncovered decades of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests in the city’s diocese. The reports won the Globe a Pulitzer Prize in 2003 and became the basis of Spotlight, winner of the best-picture Oscar in 2015. Even the Vatican acknowledged, grudgingly, that the expose of pedophile priests was anything but fake.

The Globe won another Pulitzer in 2013, in the “breaking news” category, for its thorough, aggressive coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing and the police hunt for the terrorists. No one in the shaken city doubted the Globe was publishing news that was real.

On Wednesday, just hours after Trump tweeted his anti-Globe screed, the paper reported that the Red Sox had lost to the Philadelphia Phillies by a score of 7 to 4. Sox fans were no doubt disappointed, but I doubt any of them insisted that their team hadn’t really lost, that the Globe had for some reason misrepresented the outcome. And why would it? It wouldn’t make business sense.

None of this is meant to suggest that Globe reporters never make mistakes or that its editorial convictions don’t sometimes bleed into its news reporting. Like all newspapers – including The Orlando Sentinel, the Minneapolis Star Tribune and Newsday, three that have employed me – the Globe is the product of imperfect human beings who occasionally get facts wrong and far more rarely make stories up. The former will get you a reprimand. The latter, when detected, will get you fired. Newspapers, in my 30-plus years of first-hand experience, are obsessively concerned with their credibility. Soul searching about ethics, fairness and accuracy is a journalistic pastime far more common than knocking back shots of Jack Daniels at the corner bar.

What anybody using a fraction of his or her critical faculties understands is that what Trump calls “fake” news is almost entirely just reporting that he and his staunchest supporters don’t like. He not only wants to “control the narrative,” a common enough goal of presidents and CEOs alike, but also to see himself lionized, celebrated, worshiped.

Tough luck. It doesn’t work that way. Never did. In a great, rare country like ours in which the citizenry and the press are Constitutionally guaranteed freedom, Trump can at best expect a wide range of coverage, from fawning devotion by most of the newscasters and commentators on Fox News Channel to the cautiously balanced right- and left-inflected editorials of Atlanta Journal-Constitution to the accentuate-the-negative news thrust and bare-knuckled punditry of The Washington Post. They all enjoy the same freedom to tell it as they see it.

As do I. As do you. As does the President.

News flash: The press is not the people’s enemy, and the President of the United States is not the people.

Noel Holston

Noel Holston

Noel Holston, originally from Laurel, Miss., is a freelance journalist, songwriter, storyteller and actor who lives in Athens, Ga., with his wife, singer-songwriter Marty Winkler. In a previous life, he was the TV critic at Newsday in New York and, before that, a critic and feature writer for the Minneapolis Star Tribune and The Orlando Sentinel.

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A Year After Charlottesville, Racists Still Haven’t Made Progress http://likethedew.com/2018/08/18/a-year-after-charlottesville-racists-still-havent-made-progress/ http://likethedew.com/2018/08/18/a-year-after-charlottesville-racists-still-havent-made-progress/#respond Sat, 18 Aug 2018 11:15:40 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=69609 she told the officer she should be released because “I’m a clean, thoroughbred, white girl.” When the officer asked what she meant by that, she replied “You’re a cop; you should know what that means … you should know based on the people that come in this room.” Rather than dismiss all charges, and escort her home with an apology for having pulled over a white person, she was treated like anyone else who would behave so dangerously. I don’t think her race and gender will help her case in court any better.]]>

She blew past the stop sign at 64mph in a 30mph zone, and then blew at least twice the legal limit in Bluffton. With drink and drugs in her system, it was a pretty easy case. Then she told the officer she should be released because “I’m a clean, thoroughbred, white girl.”

When the officer asked what she meant by that, she replied “You’re a cop; you should know what that means … you should know based on the people that come in this room.”

White supremacists clash with police in Charlottesville, VA August 12, 2017Rather than dismiss all charges, and escort her home with an apology for having pulled over a white person, she was treated like anyone else who would behave so dangerously. I don’t think her race and gender will help her case in court any better.

Think white people typically try to use race to get out of a jam? The officer doesn’t agree. “Making statements such as these as a means to justify not being arrested are unusual in my experience as a law enforcement officer and I believe further demonstrate the suspect’s level of intoxication,” the police officer noted in his report.

At the same time, another white woman was trying another plea for attention. She was trying to attract TV viewers by saying extreme things, trying to top her media colleagues with this gem.

“In some parts of the country, it does seem like the America we know and love doesn’t exist anymore,” this commentator said. “Massive demographic changes have been foisted upon the American people. And they’re changes that none of us ever voted for and most of us don’t like. From Virginia to California, we see stark examples of how radically in some ways the country has changed. Now much of this is related to both illegal, and in some cases, legal immigration that, of course, progressives love.” This TV pundit, Laura Ingraham, tried later to walk back her media comments, but didn’t apologize.

I’m glad she walked those comments back, because they certainly aren’t supported by the data on how Americans really think. The “we” she refers to, in survey and after survey, accept and even embrace these changes. Only between 2% and 4% agree with the KKK, white nationalists, and white supremacist movement, with those disagreeing ranging from 73% to 94%, in an NPR/PBS poll. For the sake of comparison, the Black Lives Matter movement registers 50% of Americans agreeing with the group and only 33% disagreeing with them in this same NPR/PBS poll. More than 80% reject such white supremacist views in an ABC News/Washington Post survey. And pollsters now find people more willing to share their true beliefs in surveys.

Extremists who oppose this America are shrinking as well, as peaceful counter-protesters vastly outnumber their little bunch, while turnout among white supremacists are few in number, an embarrassing handful from Newnan to our nation’s capital. That ain’t U.S.

What we learned in Charlottesville, Austin, and among Neo-Nazi groups, however, is that there still will be extremists, angry enough to kill because they have fewer and fewer friends out there. There will still need to be vigilance on such domestic terrorists, just as we must watch out for al-Qaeda and ISIS, similarly weakened but dangerous as well with their leaderless resistance.

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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Is Brett Kavanaugh Trump’s Get Out of Jail Free Card? http://likethedew.com/2018/08/16/is-brett-kavanaugh-trumps-get-out-of-jail-free-card/ http://likethedew.com/2018/08/16/is-brett-kavanaugh-trumps-get-out-of-jail-free-card/#respond Thu, 16 Aug 2018 09:47:29 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=69598

I don’t know whether Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump’s U. S. Supreme Court nominee, should be confirmed. But I can tell you that for an ordinary civilian like me, trying to come to a considered opinion about that is a tall order.

The sources we all naturally turn to in these things are too preoccupied with their own agendas to help out much. The U. S. Senate, which has to sign off on the nomination, is so riven and embittered that the members are serving up nothing but partisan noise. And the media heavyweights who’re supposed to be cutting through all that are as often as not adding to the clamor. When they’re not misstating Kavanaugh’s views, they’re more interested in handicapping his chances than illuminating his record.

Kavanaugh and his family with your presidentI’m not here to defend Kavanaugh. Nothing qualifies me to do that. What I’m going to do instead is offer a small case study in the extent to which an interested citizen wanting to act responsibly here is pretty much on his or her own.

Within hours of the announcement of Kavanaugh’s nomination, he was branded by the usual suspects as a “dangerous radical.” And he was pilloried on the Senate floor as Trump’s “get out of jail free card.” The basis for that characterization was a 2009 Minnesota Law Review article arguing, among a number of things, that sitting presidents should be immune from criminal and civil proceedings against them until they’re out of office. Another article in the Georgetown Law Journal in 1998 also got a passing mention.

Some media outlets converted Kavanaugh’s view that Congress should exempt the president from legal process into the view that the Constitution has already done that. Either way, the suggestion lurking under the “get out of jail free card” label is that Trump and Kavanaugh have a corrupt unspoken deal that, should a criminal indictment of Trump ever reach the Supreme Court, Kavanaugh will decide in his favor.

That all sounded pretty slimy, so I totally geeked out, working through both the 1998 and 2009 articles, as well as several key Supreme Court cases they cited. Here’s my dispatch from the weeds.

The 2009 article got the most attention but the one from 1998 is actually more revealing. Cherry-picking detractors zeroed in on one statement to convict Kavanaugh of craven deference to presidents generally and Trump in particular. He proposed that Congress enact legislation providing that, “The President of the United States is not subject to indictment or information under the laws of the United States while he serves as President. The statute of limitations for any offense against the United States committed by the President shall be tolled while he serves as President.” “Tolling” the statute of limitations means stopping the clock on it until the President leaves office.

What the media outlets and Facebook lawyers neglected to point out is that this proposal occurs in an article defending a law authorizing special prosecutors to investigate the Executive branch, including the President. Kavanaugh dismisses debates over who should appoint special prosecutors and when as “illusory,” noting that, “Even the most severe critics of the current independent counsel statute concede that a prosecutor appointed from outside the Justice Department is necessary in some cases” (emphasis his). So the article offers a clutch of proposals that Kavanaugh thinks would make a special prosecutor law more effective (emphasis mine). In that connection, the proposal immediately following the one about presidential immunity would sharply restrict the executive privilege that presidents appeal to when they don’t want to disclose information to investigative bodies.

Kavanaugh’s preferred venue for reforming special prosecutor laws is Congress because he says it’s “debatable” whether the Constitution bars criminal indictment of the President. That isn’t just his opinion. The issue has in fact been debated for decades with no settled outcome. In a 2017 article on presidential obstruction of justice, University of Chicago Law School professors Daniel J. Hemel and Eric A. Posner note that, “…the claim that a sitting president cannot be convicted of a crime while in office does not represent settled law.” So nothing has changed in that regard since Kavanaugh said as much in 1998.

The 2009 article doesn’t add much to the earlier one. It’s a laundry list of policy proposals, whose adoption Kavanaugh thought would make the government operate more efficiently. In 2009 he expanded the immunity he thinks Congress should confer on the President to both criminal and civil proceedings. He defended expanded immunity not on Constitutional grounds but because he thinks legal proceedings, civil or criminal, brought against the president would impair his or her ability to carry out the duties of the office.

President Bill Clinton claimed exactly that sweeping immunity merely in virtue of his office when Paula Jones sued him for sexual impropriety. And his argument for it was the same as Kavanaugh’s. But a unanimous U. S. Supreme Court didn’t see it Clinton’s way.

I’m not a lawyer, but from what I can tell, the expansive immunity that Kavanaugh thinks Congress should grant the president has never in the whole history of the Republic been conferred on the President by the Supreme Court. The closest it ever came wasn’t very close. In Nixon v. Fitzgerald(1982), a sharply divided Court held, five votes to four, that the President has absolute immunity from civil damage claims for actions taken in his official capacity. The Court was careful to note that it was taking no position on whether presidential immunity extends to criminal prosecutions as well.

So what about this “get out of jail free” stuff? Hard to credit for several reasons, not least being that it’s silly on its face. In neither his 1998 nor 2009 article did Kavanaugh propose that the President be permanently exempt from prosecution. That would be unconstitutional under Article I, Section 3, providing that a President impeached in the House and convicted in the Senate would be “liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law,” on removal from office. Kavanaugh is conservative, but he’s not crazy.

Neither can I see Trump’s nemesis Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicting him for anything, not, God knows, because Trump hasn’t done anything indictable, but because Mueller doesn’t strike me as the type who would ask a grand jury to return an indictment whose constitutional credentials are up in the air. Even the Watergate Special Prosecutor, who indicted several of Richard Nixon’s senior minions, named Nixon only as an unindicted co-conspirator.

Even if Mueller rolls the constitutional dice on an indictment, which ends up in the Supreme Court, Kavanaugh can’t save His Orangeness all by himself. He’d have to persuade four other justices to do something that the Court has been unwilling to do in the whole history of the Republic. Even if he’s every bit as talented as his boosters say he is, I can’t see him pulling that off.

But, look, I didn’t tell you all this to make you feel better about Brett Kavanaugh. I did it to make you feel worse about the people who’re making it so hard for us to do our due diligence on this.

Nor can I forget or forgive the people who were clutching their pearls about Hillary Clinton’s e-mails, Goldman Sachs speeches and whatnot instead of voting for her. If they had, it would be the Fox News gargoyles now sliming her Supreme Court nominees, maybe including Merrick Garland, as “dangerous radicals.”

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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The Battle For Paradise, Naomi Klein http://likethedew.com/2018/08/15/the-battle-for-paradise-naomi-klein/ http://likethedew.com/2018/08/15/the-battle-for-paradise-naomi-klein/#respond Wed, 15 Aug 2018 12:02:09 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=69586 The Battle For Paradise applies the insights Namoi Klein shared in her important book, Shock Doctrine, to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. In what she calls Disaster Capitalism, state actors collude with ideologues and business interests to enact radical, unpopular policies and programs while the populace is preoccupied with some crisis. The Patriot Act is an example, passed during the 911 trauma, as is the dismantling of the New Orleans' public school system and public housing in the wake of hurricane Katrina.]]>

The Battle For Paradise by Naomi KleinThe Battle For Paradise applies the insights Namoi Klein shared in her important book, Shock Doctrine, to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. In what she calls Disaster Capitalism, state actors collude with ideologues and business interests to enact radical, unpopular policies and programs while the populace is preoccupied with some crisis. The Patriot Act is an example, passed during the 911 trauma, as is the dismantling of the New Orleans’ public school system and public housing in the wake of hurricane Katrina.

Who will start the bidding - Tom FergusonPuerto Rico was already in crisis when Maria struck. The island is essentially a U.S. colony, the inhabitants having no right to vote nor representation in Washington DC, although they have U.S. citizenship. Puerto Rico provided low-wage workers for off-shore factories, attracted also by low taxes. These tax laws expired in 2006 creating a devastating flight of companies to even cheaper labor and tax locales. The government’s response was to borrow money. Of course, eventually payback falls due. The next step, as Greece can tell you, is austerity. The U.S. Congress passed PROMESA, a law that created a 7-member panel, 6 of whom did not live on the island, to oversee island finances, holding veto power over elected officials. This ploy is not restricted to colonies, it has been used in Michigan by that conservative governor to aid in the general project among the rulers to expand the third world to the whole world. Many islanders refer to this measure as a coup d’etat and the panel as La Junta. Their predictable solutions are privatization of public resources, cuts to pensions and services, schools… the course big capital would have us believe is inevitable and the only road back to stability. Stability always translates into a reassuring climate for the 1%.

Puerto Rico has a history also of resistance. The dictum that, “we are many they are few”, empowering to the many, fearsome to the few, plays out across the planet. The many have strength in numbers, the few have resources to obfuscate, confuse, divide since they mostly control the discussion via ownership of the media, disproportionate influence on government and other institutions. In Puerto Rico’s case the many are in various states of economic trauma while the few meet in plush hotels and plan to turn the island into a gated tax haven for the well-heeled.

But not quite all are traumatized. Some of the population scame through Maria more successfully than others. While much of the island still lacks electricity, some small areas had solar and this is up and running. Organic farms fared better than the mono crop agriculture that was completely wiped out. These community activists seek alternatives to the corporate way which has rendered the island heavily dependent on food imports and fossil fuel, centralized energy grids. The Battle of Klein’s title is here, the capitalist money-chasing, elitist greed enthusiasts – the few – versus the people, an old old story, an ancient struggle, nearly always won by the few… but not always.

Klein has done a video on the subject also, of the same title:

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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Hiawatha http://likethedew.com/2018/08/13/hiawatha/ http://likethedew.com/2018/08/13/hiawatha/#respond Mon, 13 Aug 2018 10:22:15 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=69578

Ye who love the haunts of Nature,
Love the sunshine of the meadow,
Love the shadow of the forest,
Love the wind among the branches, . . .

Listen to these wild traditions,
To this Song of Hiawatha.

— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Trail Marker by Dave PruettSince my early teens, I’ve loved the out-of-doors and spent many a good moment there, sometimes in the company of others, often in blissful solitude.

At the age of forty, beset by an unexpected urge to solo trek, I strapped on a JanSport backpack large enough for a bathtub, filled it with fifty-four pounds of gear and sustenance, and hiked north on the Appalachian Trail (AT) out of Damascus, Virginia, bound for the high country of Mt. Rogers and Grayson Highlands. After a schlep of nine miles, mostly uphill, I collapsed and camped right beside the trail, too exhausted to search for a better spot. Each day thereafter, I grew stronger. By day four, lugging a pack for fifteen miles seemed the most natural thing in the world, and taking it off at the end of the day occasioned the euphoria of feeling weightless. Dad, who had just retired, picked me up in the afternoon of the fifth day, and we spent a sweet night with Grandma at the family cabin, my halfway house back to civilization. I’d knocked off fifty-five miles in all—and had a glorious adventure.

Career and family intervened, and few such opportunities presented themselves until I semi-retired at sixty-four. Hiking the full AT and peddling across country remained on the bucket list, but was I over the hill? Most likely. Certainly my JanSport days were over. The external-frame beast and its archaic gear gave way to an internal-frame North Face, a lightweight down sleeping bag, and a three-pound MSR tent. Much as I loved that faithful brass Svea white-gas stove, it went to pasture, replaced by a 1.7-ounce titanium contraption atop a five-ounce propane canister.

In July 2013, the second summer into my retirement, my wife dropped me late one morning in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, the rough midpoint of the AT, and I naively headed south and uphill from the Shenandoah River with forty pounds of gear, including seven days of food. I’d hoped to make one hundred miles in a week and in the process convince myself that the twenty-five intervening years since my first solo trek had not robbed me of much stamina. Oh, was I wrong.

Rescues:

The route snaked over the infamous boulder-strewn “roller-coaster” that fatigues even veteran Appalachian Trailers, past the delicious Bears Den youth hostel—where thirty bucks gets you a bed, a shower, a washer, a pizza, and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s—and to the threshold of graceful Sky Meadows State Park. I showered at Bears Den, but left immediately, cognizant that should I remain longer, I’d succumb to the Sirens of Comfort.

On the morning of day five, with thirty-four miles under my belt and a painful blister at the end of a toe, I awakened to terrifying numbness along my right arm. Fearing heart attack, I popped a baby aspirin — always a companion — and called my wife to rescue me at Route 50. With no other symptoms of heart trouble, I calmed and began to explore other possible origins for the worrisome numbness. In the two hours it took Suzanne to arrive, an alternative theory surfaced. Years ago I’d damaged an elbow from regularly lugging a leaden briefcase to and from work. While navigating the “roller coaster,” I’d relied heavily for balance on a hiking pole in my right hand, the stronger one. The constant pressure along my arm had revived the old elbow injury and pinched a nerve. It wasn’t a heart attack, but it was time to throw in the towel. Three weeks elapsed before full feeling returned in the arm.

The next summer, expectations trimmed, I tried again, anticipating a three-day inaugural trek. Two buddies dropped me near Front Royal, Virginia, and joined me for a few miles as I hiked into Shenandoah National Park, headed south. Eight miles and two-thousand feet in elevation later, now alone, I set up the tent on rocky trail, moments ahead of a thunder storm.

On day two, I planned another eight to ten miles, but unwisely extended to twelve, lured by visions of a shower at Matthew’s Arm campground. Exhausted and eager to call it a day, I raced downhill to the campground, a descent of seven-hundred feet in elevation, pounding all the way. Alas, there was no shower, only a “comfort station.” Dejected, I rested at a picnic table. Ten minutes later, I could barely walk, my left knee stiff and agonizingly painful. The following morning, after a near-sleepless night of continual pain, I hobbled to the Skyline Drive to meet my long-suffering wife. Rescue two.

This time the injury was severe. I’d mangled the meniscus. For two months I limped in pain, then spent another two months recovering from arthroscopic surgery. It seemed my backpacking days were at an end. One orthopedist said: “No more; take to biking instead.”

That was no doubt good advice from a physical point of view, but deadly from a psychological one. Fortunately, my general practitioner recognized the dilemma and gave tentative blessings to continued hiking, with provisos. During the spring of recovery following surgery, pondering options, I sought a compromise with myself. Were I to limit the number of days per trek to three, the maximum pack weight to thirty pounds, and the maximum distance to eight miles per day, could I, just possibly, keep trekking long enough to complete the Virginia AT, a full quarter of the 2200-mile footpath? More to the bargain, with distance expectations diminished, might there be more occasions to stop and “smell the wildflowers” along the way.

I gave it a shot. The third summer, I completed five short section hikes, about twenty miles each, finishing the AT through Shenandoah National Park. By the end of a section, the troublesome knee was sore and stiff, but it recovered after a few days of rest and acupuncturist-recommended exercises to open the joint. Some prophylactic ibuprofen before hiking also helped tamp down swelling. And sure enough, a turtle’s pace had advantages. The experience became richer.

By the end of the fourth summer, having turned sixty-eight, I’d completed all sections of the AT between the Shenandoah and James rivers.  Most memorable was the high country near Cole Mountain, where the trail wound through open meadows.  Even in thick rain and fog, I found the meadows magical, a stark contrast to the cloistered, dark woods.
True confessions: summer four also required a rescue, this time due to August heat and a ten-mile section of trail without water. Thanks again, Sweetie.

Hazards:

Sometimes I hike with friends, but often alone. I enjoy both modes, yet admit that at advanced age the unexpected becomes more threatening when alone: a heart attack; dehydration, heat exhaustion or heat stroke; copperheads and rattlers; insect stings; and bears to mention a few of the things that can get you. But the scariest hazard is a fall. In season five I dodged a bullet, and learned an invaluable hiking lesson the hard way.

The trail I was walking, slightly downhill, cut along a steep slope. As always, I relied on a hiking pole for balance. Planting it firmly at each step, I unwisely held it in the wrong hand, at the precipitous edge of the trail. Without warning, the pole cut through the berm, sent me tumbling ten feet down the embankment. Going down, my left calf cramped, the most painful part of the episode. Mercifully there were no rocks where I landed, only brush. I crawled back to the trail, bleeding from deep contusions on my right knee. When my wrist swelled, I realized I’d sprained that as well. No rescue this time, but my first-aid kit, unopened for years, was put to good use.

By now one might wonder whether the writer is a masochist. In addition to the aforementioned hazards, I’ve walked multiple days in the rain, endured thunderstorms in a tiny tent, packed up wet andn chilled to the bone, been consumed by blood-sucking insects. Though I don’t think I’m a masochist, I can’t honestly proclaim that these hikes are fun. Truth is, seven to eight miles a day— while carrying a load on rocky terrain that rises and falls through heart-pounding elevation changes d—is mostly an ordeal. A wet moss-covered rock or boot placed in the wrong spot can spell disaster. Being constantly on high alert is itself exhausting. , Were I able to remain out longer than three days, my body might adapt a routine where prolonged exertion, vigilance, and deprivation become “natural.” But age and knees no longer allow long excursions.

What I can say is this: my soul craves wildness. And then there’s the intriguing observation by my poetic and beach-loving friend Michele: “Salt cures all things: sweat, sea, and tears.” A good sweat is medicinal. In the recovery period after a trek, I sleep well, I’m more peaceful, happier. Admittedly, this enhanced state of being fades within days. But by planning and anticipating a section-hike each month during the summer and fall, I can projecte)) the benefits throughout much of the year. I’ve also come to recognize that the worst thing one can do to any machine, including the human body, is not to use it. I conclude that the risks of not g undertaking these hikes are worse than the risks of doing them.

Thru-Hikers:

Rhododendron tunnels, ever-changing rock formations, unencumbered vistas, rippling brooks, nighttime chirps, musty smells, and immense silence: these beckon my soul when reason and comfort say “no.” Still, for safety sake, it’s a relief to encounter other hikers on the trail. On the AT, there are day hikers, section hikers, and thru-hikers. Thru-hikers complete the entire AT in one long walk of four- to six-months. Two-thirds of those who set out never finish. If you’ve never attempted a multiple-day trail hike with a load, you can’t imagine how arduous the task.

The demographic distribution of thru-hikers is distinctly bi-modal. There are the young Turks in their twenties who haven’t started careers, and there are us retirees in our fifties and sixties with time on our hands. There are precious few in between.

Over the past five hiking seasons, I’ve developed some impressions of thru-hikers. They come in waves. The young, fit, and gregarious head north from Springer Mountain, Georgia, in late February or early March. They boogey, often knocking off twenty to twenty-four miles a day. Their wave crests near Roanoke, Virginia, in May. The last time I camped near a trail shelter, I encountered about twenty-five of them. It was hard to find a spot on the ground even for a 6two-foot by six-foot tent. This bunch can be rowdy and profane. I’m no prude, but somehow the constant F-bombs grate on me when sitting at a picnic table deep in pristine woods. Still, these guys, and almost as many gals, look after one another. They’re not a bad lot.

The older thru-hikers — and the more introverted ones, young or old — come in the second wave. They tend to start later (say, in April) to avoid the mobs in the first wave, and they pass through central Virginia late in the month of June. I admit I like these folks better. They’re not as likely to be burning up the trail. They’ll stop, make small talk, give you tips, and most of all warm you with a smile.

On the last day of my most-recent section hike, I encountered “Rusty,” resting on a rock during a water break. He looked to be about fifty, with a lean build, a bandana, and longish gray hair. We were headed in opposite directions, so I asked him if the trail to the south crossed the Blue Ridge Parkway. I was due to meet my wife at milepost 74.9 around three p.m. My trail map was inconclusive about whether the Parkway and footpath physically crossed or were only proximate. Rusty happily opened the Appalachian Trail app on his iPhone to address my concerns. It revealed that, although the road and the trail did not quite cross, they were just yards (not miles) apart at the rendezvous point. As Rusty navigated the iPhone with dexterity, I noticed his mal-formed hands, and that he sometimes used a knuckle to tap the screen. I couldn’t help but wonder if his feet were similarly afflicted and how that might affect long-distance travels by foot. I didn’t ask, of course. Still something exchanged in both the silences and the words between us, and I felt a kinship. On that day I met several like “Rusty,” each a kind soul, a lover of “the haunts of Nature.” I felt more than ever that given a chance, nature can redeem the hearts of men (and women).

Two years previously, at a trail shelter, I met two brothers from Pennsylvania whom I still recall with fondness, though I can’t summon their names. The older brother, then over sixty, was a warmed-over hippy who’d hiked half the Appalachian Trail, north to south, in his twenties. He’d stopped at Harper’s Ferry and had longed ever since to complete the southern half of the trail. His brother, a few years younger, was an engineer in a titanium manufacturing plant. He’d lost several ribs to childhood cancer, but he’d survived and stayed fit. The older brother had talked the younger one into section-hiking the lower half of the AT, nibbling off a sizeable chunk each summer. The brothers were clearly close, and they readily took me in. I camped with them one evening and hung with them for most of the next day, but we parted when my daily mileage limitation required me to stop. Distance backpacking demands that each trekker follow his or her own drummer.

The kindly brothers were well-provisioned and well-prepared. They were the first to introduce me to an ultraviolet SteriPEN for water purification. I now use one religiously. Impressively, they’d freeze-dried their own camp food and processed their own beef jerky. Like most distance hikers, forced to jettison every non-essential ounce to shrink the ever-oppressive load, they’d realized they were over-supplied and offered me a pack of jerky. It was the best I’ve ever eaten, even better than Melton’s jerky from the Mennonite market in Dayton, Virginia. I sure hope those guys are nearing Springer Mountain by now. They so deserve to finish and celebrate.

Each passing year brings more “vintage” hikers to the trail. With the recent publication of Grandma Gatewood’s Walk, the numbers of older hikers will likely continue to swell. If you haven’t yet heard the story, Emma Gatewood was the first woman to thru-hike the AT, completing it in 1955 at the age of sixty-seven. She carried her primitive equipment in a sack slung over her shoulder. The next year she did it again. Then, for good measure, she section-hiked the entire trail the year after that.

Trail Names:

Thru-hikers assume trail names, losing their given names and non-trail identities. A trail name, I suppose, offers a useful blend of familiarity and anonymity. No one signs the log book at a trail shelter with their given name, and when you meet another hiker, you ask only for a trail name. Some trail names — say, “Montana”— associate the hiker with where they’re from. Others get identified with an item of gear or clothing, say, “Bandana.” Most earn their trail name in Native-American fashion, from some random trail event that seems a defining experience. The Appalachian Trail thru-hikers register of 2015 features “Wistful,” “June Bug,” “BonBon,” and “Dream Catcher,” among hundreds of others. The memorial Appalachian Trail “Foot” Bridge over the James River is so named, tongue-in-cheek, for William Foot, a dedicated Appalachian Trail maintainer and promoter. He and his wife, both thru-hikers, were collectively “The Happy Feet.” I’ve forgotten most of the trail names encountered this season. But among these are the long-haired, helpful “Rusty,” “Ramble On Rose,” and “Madiera.” A fortyish woman, “Madiera,” is thru-hiking the entire AT a second time, this trip with faithful companion “Ramble On Rose.”

Not being a thru-hiker, I don’t have a trail name. I’ve toyed with a few, but until recently none seemed to fit. My camping buddies sometimes call me “Dave of Tucson” in reference to where I went to graduate school thirty-five years ago — and my fondness for deserts. But having lived the second half of my life entirely in Virginia, “Dave of Tucson” doesn’t quite cut it.

Five years ago, two of those buddies and I were driven off the trail by a raging downpour in Grayson Highlands State Park. As we slunk to shelter in defeat, we encountered a sixty-year-old woman thru-hiker, plowing along happy as a clam in raingear. The following day we ran into a seventy-year-old former coach and long-distance section hiker. Acknowledging our lack of the Right Stuff, we good-heartedly dubbed one another “Wuss1,” “Wuss2,” and “Big Wuss.” But, damn-it-all, I can’t go through trail life with the moniker “Big Wuss.” A couple of years later, I bestowed upon “Wuss1” a far more fitting appellation: “Brave Fart.” He’s as good a trail companion as one could ever ask for, a solid rock in an emergency. Oh yeah, and at over seventy, he’s admittedly an “old fart,” but only in age, not disposition.

When I was a child, younger than the age of three when memory sets in, Mom read to me from Longfellow’s Song of Hiawatha. Although I’ve no conscious recollection of those moments, what the epic poem now evokes in me is primal. I’ve absolutely no doubt that those words are connected in some mysterious way to both my affinity for all things Native American and my love of nature.

As I was parting from “Rusty,” having just learned his trail name, he enquired about mine. “Well, I don’t really have one,” I confessed, then added almost in the same breath: “But, I’m thinking of ‘Hiawatha.’”

“Hiawatha.” I like that.

Dave Pruett

Dave Pruett

Dave Pruett, a former NASA researcher, is an award-winning computational scientist and emeritus professor of mathematics at James Madison University (JMU) in Harrisonburg, VA. His alter ego, however, now out of the closet, is a writer. His first book, Reason and Wonder (Praeger, 2012), a "love letter to the cosmos," grew out of an acclaimed honors course at JMU that opens up "a vast world of mystery and discovery," to quote one enthralled student. For more information, visit reasonandwonder.org

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Marsha Polier, Portrait Artist http://likethedew.com/2018/08/13/marsha-polier-portrait-artist/ http://likethedew.com/2018/08/13/marsha-polier-portrait-artist/#respond Mon, 13 Aug 2018 10:04:28 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=69569

Note: The North Carolina Museum of Art has exhibited Marsha Polier’s work. A fellow at the MacDowell Artist Colony, she worked with Time Life Music on vintage imagery. For more than 30 years she documented events for the University of Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth University.

Nancy Allison, tells Marsha’s story.

Ectasy

Like most Southerners, Marsha Polier tells a great story. She also spins tales without saying a word. The fine art photographer from Raleigh grew up surrounded by prints of famous paintings her father, architect Lewis Polier, received. Marsha helped him mat and place these prints on a special wall in the home. While the wall of stories “with their settings full of detail and information about lifestyle, time, and place,” surely developed Marsha’s inner eye, her father’s space-efficient, eco-friendly home influenced many subconscious and conscious artistic decisions in her life.

At four, she had her own easel; at nine, her parents gave her a Kodak Brownie she still owns. Even more important was seeing her father at his drawing board with “T-squares, triangles, and hand-sharpened mechanical pencils, the vellums and blueprints showcasing his meticulous renderings.”

Marsha’s mother, Afton, an exuberant, outgoing woman who had been active in high school theater productions encouraged imaginative and artistic pursuits in her four daughters. An art career for Marsha became a natural goal. “As a child, nothing was more exciting to me than a box of new crayons.”

Marsha followed her muse studying studio art, art history, and photography at UNC-Greensboro. Blessed with a mother who loved acting and a father who considered the landscape, materials, and physical setting of a house characters in its story, Marsha began creating narratives with her artwork. But first she had to learn her craft, and in 1968 that meant physics, specifically, Dr. Anna Joyce Reardon’s Physics of Light class. “Our all-female class mixed darkroom chemicals from scratch in large cylindrical vats—stirring with paddles, wearing rubber aprons, gloves, and goggles,” Marsha recalls. Reardon stressed, “the science and not the art or aesthetics of photography. A perfect negative and fine printing were very important.”

As Marsha mastered photography’s technical skills, came to grip with chemicals, and worked with a pinhole camera as well as a 35mm and 4×5 speed Graflex, she continued to draw and paint. After two years she transferred to the School of Art, now VCUarts, at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, where she would be introduced to graphic design and hone her skills in photography and illustration. There she met pinhole artist Willie Anne Wright. Photography spoke to both as nothing else did, and although their styles were different, formed the basis of a close friendship that continues to this day.

Marsha Polier

“At age 25 I wanted my work to look like no other photography I’d seen. For a number of years, I avoided, as much as possible, looking closely at or studying the work of other photographers in museums, galleries, publications in my effort to ‘listen to myself’ and ‘follow my own nose.’ Having said this, I confess I’ve always admired the work of two early female photographers: 19th century English photographer Julia Margaret Cameron and early 20th century American photographer Nell Dorr. Both photographed family and friends in home environments, much as I ended up doing. The imagery and tenacity of Deborah Turbeville and Willie Anne Wright made indelible impressions on me.”

At VCU Marsha found her niche as an artist. Still a painter at heart, she decided to mix paint and photography. “I loved working in watercolors and I was loving photography. One day, I was 23, I began combining the two, with no goal in mind. I was sitting at my drawing board with my image of an old house with garden on matt surface photography paper. I already had my watercolor palette on a white china plate full of colors I’d custom mixed for some other project. I used a clean, very dense, tiny photographic sponge to control water as I stroked on color with sable brushes.”

Since then, she has finished her black and white images with watercolors, pastels, colored pencils, and oils. Never keen on the intensely saturated effects of color film, she uses her prints as a canvas for her own color interpretation. It’s slow and painstaking, no computers involved. Each photo can take up to 30 hours. “With hand coloring, it’s possible to color the same image ten different times in ten different ways, changing the colors each time, and often I do. I rarely use the same colors in the ‘real’ setting. I like making up my color scheme. I love being able to soften and mute color and be inventive.”

During the 1970s, Marsha began a series that would win a Silver Medal at a juried show at the NC Museum of Art and become part of the portfolio that earned her a fellowship/residency at the MacDowell Artists Colony at age 28. The series, Ecstasy, stems from a visit to Virginia with friends. Four girls jump for joy on a mountaintop, all flinging their long hair back at the same moment.

“As one of four sisters, these Ecstasy images have special meaning for me. They conveyed exhilaration, freedom, happiness and energy. This feeling represented me, a self-portrait I suppose.”

HammockDog by Marsha Polier

Much of her fine art portraiture has been of children. From the beginning she wanted to take photos on their turf, not in a studio. “Most children have plenty of props. For me, it was best to stage in their space, to collaborate with the children and use some of their ideas to develop my ‘storytelling.’ This made their picture one of a kind, and perhaps offers the kids a chance to time-travel back in years to come and see their ‘child-tidy’ bedroom, scattered toys, favorite clothes and books, and so forth.”

“When I married at 33 and had children, photography and the other paying jobs had to fit around my family life. Family always comes first. I spent many hours in my darkroom or coloring in my home studio after the kids were in bed at night.”

Like many artists, Marsha sacrificed to keep making art: freelancing graphic design and waitressing, photographing, and writing a column for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, and taking documentary photos for VCU and The University of Richmond. “The fine art photography rarely supported itself. I did what I felt drawn to, not to what I deemed practical as a career. I never ‘decided’ to be a photographer or an artist. I simply couldn’t resist the pull it had on me.”

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Contact Marsha Polier at marshaphoto@gmail.com for purchasing or commissioning her work. See her work, Marshaphoto, on www.Etsy.com.

Tom Poland

Tom Poland, A Southern Writer – Tom Poland is the author of twelve books and more than 1,000 magazine features. A Southern writer, his work has appeared in magazines throughout the South. Tom grew up in Lincoln County, Georgia, where four wonderful English teachers gave him a love for language. People first came to know Tom’s work in South Carolina Wildlife magazine, where he wrote features and served as managing editor.Tom’s written over 1,000 columns and features and seven traditionally published books. Among his recent books are Classic Carolina Road Trips From Columbia, Georgialina, A Southland, As We Knew It, and his and Robert Clark’s latest volume of Reflections of South Carolina. Swamp Gravy, Georgia’s Official Folk Life Drama, staged his play, Solid Ground in 2011 and 2012.He writes a weekly column for newspapers and journals in Georgia and South Carolina about the South, its people, traditions, lifestyle, and changing culture and speaks often to groups across South Carolina and Georgia.Tom earned a BA in Journalism and a Masters in Media at the University of Georgia. He lives in Columbia, South Carolina where he writes about Georgialina—his name for eastern Georgia and South Carolina. Visit my website at www.tompoland.net Email me at tompol@earthlink.net

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Immigration … Not What It Used To Be http://likethedew.com/2018/08/10/immigration-not-what-it-used-to-be/ http://likethedew.com/2018/08/10/immigration-not-what-it-used-to-be/#respond Fri, 10 Aug 2018 11:26:03 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=69562

There is a very prevalent issue in our country today that is pulling on my heartstrings. Immigration. Now I realize there are two sides to this issue, but try putting yourself in their place. If I lived in a country where I couldn’t find work that paid enough to feed my family, my children could not get a good education, or we were living under a dictatorship with no freedom, I would be doing the same thing these poor people are doing… getting to the United States. I know that the proper way to achieve this is to go through the legal process, but if you are fleeing for your life, or there is little or no money to pay for this, what are you to do?

American people immigration is an illustration created by © doomkoMy life has been filled with the joy of knowing people from all over this world. As a child I spent a great deal of my time in the coalfields of West Virginia where my grandparents owned a grocery store/moving company and many of their customers were from Italy, Poland, Ireland, or Germany. These were good, hard-working, kind people who added a lot to the community. Once I was very ill and a kind gentleman from Germany made me a wooden cradle for my doll. I have never forgotten that.

When my parents divorced my mother rented an apartment for us to live in from a Greek family. They were very supportive of mother’s situation and understanding too, for I feel certain the rent wasn’t always on time.

Once a year here in Harrisonburg, Virginia we have a gathering for refugee/immigrants to welcome them to our community. It is a special evening that my daughter and I share, hearing the stories of why they have left their homeland and some of the stories would break your heart.

But the one incident that touched me like no other was recently when people were trying to come into the states from Mexico and the children were taken from their families. What has happened to our country that such a thing could be thought of, much less carried out, is beyond my comprehension.

Let us hope and pray that our values and goals will be revived and we can once again hold our heads up high to the rest of the world.

In honor of those seeking a better place to live I dedicate this poem:

Don’t Come!

Don’t come you tired, poor and hungry
Yearning to be free,
For our country isn’t exactly
What it used to be!

Gone are the days when we offered
Safety from oppression
And most of us are finding ourselves
In a state of deep depression.

For you see, I have known folks from far and wide
Who’ve come here to make their home.
But sadly we can’t take you now, though we bid you a fond adieu,
The torch doesn’t shine as brightly as it used to do.

So, best of luck you tired, poor and hungry
Yearning to be free.
You huddled masses aren’t as welcome
As you used to be.

For those of us who feel your pain
Those thoughts we do not share.
We know you just want safety
And a chance to breath free air.

Our prayers are with you and our hope is with you too,
That you will find the home you seek
And start your life anew!

Karen Alley

Karen Alley

Karen Rose Alley was born and reared in West Virginia but spent the better part of her life in Ashland,Kentucky and Penn Laird, Virginia. She enjoys reading, crafts, baking … especially banana bread. And of course, writing. She and her husband Oscar have been married 55 years and have three children and seven grandchildren.

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Dealing with Censorship http://likethedew.com/2018/08/07/dealing-with-censorship/ http://likethedew.com/2018/08/07/dealing-with-censorship/#respond Tue, 07 Aug 2018 10:16:05 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=69551

Does anyone know the difference between nudity and brief nudity? Seriously, I’m stuck. Movie ratings are based on such things as how many naked body parts are accumulated in the entirety of a film, how many F-bombs are dropped during the dialogue, and whether sex is depicted as serious or frivolous. Why?

For as long as we have been able to watch a story on a screen of some sort, there have been people, usually power hungry hypocrites, defining what is acceptable for others to see. I’ve always wondered how this system originated.

This film has been passed by the national board of censorshipFor someone to determine what is harmful, he must view copious amounts of questionable material and then explain to the film makers what must be removed to avoid irreparable harm to the viewers. If he’s watching all this smut and gore, isn’t he being harmed? I also wonder how someone decides what to censor. We all see things that make us cringe but there is a wide disparity where individual tastes are concerned.

We identify certain things as unacceptable or questionable, and blindly determine an age, usually 18, when someone is mature enough to not be shattered by offending sights like extended views of quivering breasts. I’m zeroing in on my seventh decade and am still somewhat affected by quivering breasts. Besides, I can’t think of a single thing that magically changed for me emotionally when I turned 18.

Which brings up the other, more important question. Why naked breasts and butts? Since the big three monotheistic religions appeared about 5000 years ago, we have evolved into thinking that any view of female body parts entice menfolk into uncontrolled lust and dire behavior so terrible the world is at risk.

Before these now prominent religions were invented, many of the world’s beliefs were focused on women and fertility. Humans celebrated the very things most of the world now considers too controversial to even mention, much less treat sensibly.

We modern humans are also much more likely to censor sexual scenes and leave violence alone. One would think that exploding heads, slow-mo severed arms, and human bodies being torn into pieces by various evil creatures, would be much more harmful than watching a couple of pretty people commit a mortal sin in synchronized harmony with a peppy soundtrack.

Sex depicted in movies is as far away from actual sex as one can possibly be. The actors involved in a movie sex scene are much, much prettier than anyone most of us will ever have sex with. The vast majority of humans never see people that good looking, much less get intimate with them.

And the choreography; gee whiz. I’ve never experienced, or known anyone else that’s experienced, the slow motion dance moves involved in on-camera hanky-panky. I’m pretty sure that stuff is an actual crime against nature.

But I’m in the minority. Every ten years or so, we decide that pornography, nakedness, and prurient interests are going to destroy mankind as we know it. Greed, need for control, and stupidity have been with us since we first stood up and no one sees fit to place limits on those behaviors. Why aren’t we worried about repeated depictions of those behaviors harming our morality?

Has anyone watched Succession?

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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Here’s How Russian Hacking Will Hurt You Personally http://likethedew.com/2018/08/03/heres-how-russian-hacking-will-hurt-you-personally/ http://likethedew.com/2018/08/03/heres-how-russian-hacking-will-hurt-you-personally/#respond Fri, 03 Aug 2018 11:45:50 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=69544 intelligence agencies, and now our Senate Intelligence Committee as well as Republican and Democratic House Intelligence members have found solid evidence that Russia hacked our 2016 election, and is actively seeking to manipulate this upcoming election and future elections. And yes, it will come to hurt you, whether you believe that it’s happening, or not. You now know about the indictments against a number of Russians for their role in the hacking during the 2016 election. Regardless of your political party, you should also know that many people trust our investigators and intelligence community. Today, a Gallup poll revealed that only six percent see Russia as an ally, and another 25 percent see the country as at least friendly, if not an ally. But a strong majority isn’t being duped by the propaganda, as 37 percent see the country as unfriendly, with another 29 percent viewing the country as an enemy, the highest numbers since the 1990s when Communism in Russia suffered a stinging defeat.]]>

Our intelligence agencies, and now our Senate Intelligence Committee as well as Republican and Democratic House Intelligence members have found solid evidence that Russia hacked our 2016 election, and is actively seeking to manipulate this upcoming election and future elections. And yes, it will come to hurt you, whether you believe that it’s happening, or not.

You now know about the indictments against a number of Russians for their role in the hacking during the 2016 election. Regardless of your political party, you should also know that many people trust our investigators and intelligence community. Today, a Gallup poll revealed that only six percent see Russia as an ally, and another 25 percent see the country as at least friendly, if not an ally. But a strong majority isn’t being duped by the propaganda, as 37 percent see the country as unfriendly, with another 29 percent viewing the country as an enemy, the highest numbers since the 1990s when Communism in Russia suffered a stinging defeat.

Statue of Liberty inside of Russian nesting doll - Stock image taken by maskalinCompare these numbers with 12 years ago, when 18 percent saw Putin’s country as an ally, and 55 percent saw the country as friendly (73% had a positive impression), while only 16 percent saw the country as unfriendly, and four percent saw Putin as an enemy (20% had a negative impression). We used to be a lot more trusting back then.

But as you can see, there are still about 30 percent who just don’t see it. And no, they’re not just conservatives. You can also see some on the left, who swing hard socialist, who think Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning are heroes, who hate Democrat centrists almost as much as some on the extreme conservative side can’t stand mainstream conservatives and GOP moderates. These groups don’t mind Putin’s hackers, thinking the Russian leader will help them win. Russia could just as easily dump Trump for some progressive who is more politically savvy who will do their business and will have better poll numbers. There’s no loyalty among totalitarians, as we learned after World War II, and how the USSR repaid our aid with Cold War conflict.

So here are a few ways Putin and his Russian hackers are poised to personally hurt you, whether you believe they are a threat or not.

According to Dan Coats, the Director of National Intelligence, former GOP Senator from Indiana, our country is facing danger signs along the lines of 9/11 when it comes to cyber threats. “Russia has been the most aggressive foreign actor, no question” the conservative. He finds Russians and other communists (China North Korea) are targeting “federal government agencies, the military, state and local governments, business and academia.” The Russians are going after our defense contractors, getting their hands on drone codes. Even if you don’t think manipulating our democracy is a big deal, protecting our national security does matter.

We know that Russians disseminate social media ads designed to spread fake news to whip Americans into a political frenzy, posting Facebook ads that were used to manipulate groups into flash mob actions, in places like Baltimore where riots took place. That should concern you.

But I sense some of you don’t care, as long as none of this happens outside your front door. Then you should know this. Russian hackers have stolen millions from accounts across America, as NBC News reports, with more to come in the next few weeks. If you think you’re so secure, are you sure your bank is, and that your savings won’t disappear? You can believe all you want, but when your assets disappear, it’ll be too late to recognize the danger.

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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Trump, Evangelicals, and the Virtue of Credulity http://likethedew.com/2018/08/02/trump-evangelicals-and-the-virtue-of-credulity/ http://likethedew.com/2018/08/02/trump-evangelicals-and-the-virtue-of-credulity/#respond Thu, 02 Aug 2018 11:58:24 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=69538 Roe v. Wade (1973) the U. S. Supreme Court, by a vote of seven to two, affirmed a constitutional right to an abortion under certain circumstances. What I don’t get is why conservative evangelical Christians gave Donald Trump a pass on all his other affronts to their faith in exchange for his promise to appoint judges to the Court who’d vote to overturn Roe. I’m not interested in relitigating the case. Rather, even supposing that Roe is overturned, which isn’t guaranteed should Trump’s latest Supreme Court nominee be confirmed, I’m puzzled about what evangelicals think would happen if it were. Why do they think that the result would be so favorable to their position that it would vindicate their electoral support of a man who, in virtually every other respect, is their polar opposite?]]>

In Roe v. Wade (1973) the U. S. Supreme Court, by a vote of seven to two, affirmed a constitutional right to an abortion under certain circumstances. What I don’t get is why conservative evangelical Christians gave Donald Trump a pass on all his other affronts to their faith in exchange for his promise to appoint judges to the Court who’d vote to overturn Roe.

I’m not interested in relitigating the case. Rather, even supposing that Roe is overturned, which isn’t guaranteed should Trump’s latest Supreme Court nominee be confirmed, I’m puzzled about what evangelicals think would happen if it were. Why do they think that the result would be so favorable to their position that it would vindicate their electoral support of a man who, in virtually every other respect, is their polar opposite?

Hands praying is a detail of a war memorial taken by FotografiecorWhat we have now is what you could call “local option” at the individual level. If Roe were overturned, that wouldn’t usher in the long-held social conservative dream of a nation in which abortion is illegal. It would just mean that the “local option” could be moved up several rungs from the personal to the state level.

Some states are poised to restrict abortion more than Roe permits now. But other states, freed from the limits imposed by Roe, are primed to do the very thing that horrifies evangelicals: leave the whole matter up to women and their doctors.

If evangelicals’ goal is to substantially reduce the number of abortions nationwide, then it looks like the strongest headwind they face is the loss of urgency surrounding this issue. That’s evident on several fronts.

First, in 2014, the last year for which I could find data, the number of abortions per thousand women between the ages of fifteen and forty-four was at a record low, 14.6 compared to its peak in 1981 of 29.3. It’s a reasonable guess that some of this decline is due to state restrictions on the procedure enacted within the Roe framework.

Second, public opinion isn’t on the evangelicals’ side. According to a poll last year by the highly regarded Pew Research Center, 69% favored Roe while only 28% were opposed. Even among white evangelicals, slightly more of those polled, 49%, wanted to see Roe upheld, while 47% wanted to see it overturned. And a very recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showed support for Roe at an all-time high, with 71% endorsing it and 23% opposing it.

It can’t help to move those numbers in the evangelicals’ direction when Ireland, which they might have held up as a model among developed countries, recently voted overwhelmingly against the Irish constitution’s almost total abortion ban.

Third, evangelicals’ influence seems to be waning. The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest evangelical denomination, has lost a million members in the last decade, according to in-house outlets such as Baptist News and The Wartburg Watch, the latter noting with particular alarm that the Southern Baptist Convention is shrinking faster than the Methodists.

Complicating things is the fact that overturning Roe doesn’t guarantee that a constitutional right to abortion couldn’t resurface in the future. Without getting into the weeds here, many of Roe’s critics think it rests on flimsy constitutional arguments. Even if a majority of the current court comes to agree, that doesn’t rule out a successful case in the future that reinstates a right to abortion on other grounds.

We’ve already seen that kind of shift in certain religious freedom cases. Petitioners in the wedding services industry asserting a religious freedom right to decline service to same-sex couples have been having a rough go of it. But there are lawyers out there who specialize in framing cases in such a way that they’ll percolate up through the federal courts onto the U. S. Supreme Court’s docket. And they’re figuring out that their wedding services clients may have a better shot at avoiding liability under state anti-discrimination laws if they claim invasion of their free speech rights as well as their religious free exercise rights. We don’t know yet how effective that tactic is going to be. But we can be sure that the lawyers aren’t just going to lapse into a coma if Roe is overturned.

And then there’s Karen Tumulty’s observation in the Washington Post that Roe being overturned could be just as mobilizing for pro-choice voters in state elections as Roe has been all these years for pro-life voters. So they may actually face more political pushback from abortion rights forces than they did while the latter were able to rely on Roe’s protections.

All this takes me back to my original question. Why were evangelicals so eager to take a flyer on a sketchy character like Trump in exchange for a merely speculative outcome?

I don’t mean any disrespect in saying this but I think it’s because they’re heirs to a religious tradition that makes a virtue of credulity. This is a gross simplification of a centuries old story to which countless volumes have been devoted, but the epochal rupture between the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant Reformation was over the path to salvation. The Catholic Church taught that how you behaved was critical and the Protestants taught that what you believed was. Pointing to perhaps the most familiar utterance in the entire New Testament—“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”—the Protestant Reformers, following Martin Luther, taught that we’re “justified by faith,” not works.

But the saving truths, Luther said,“which God has revealed to us in His Word, are in presence of reason…impossible, absurd, and false.” And further, “Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has.”

There’s an unbroken line from Martin Luther’s assertion of faith’s saving supremacy over reason to the observation by the pastor of the Luverne, Alabama, First Baptist Church deep in Trump country. In a Washington Post profile of the congregation, Pastor Clay Crumb, puzzled that God would have chosen profane, adulterous Trump as his instrument, confesses, “It’s a hard thing to reconcile. I think ultimately God allowed him to become president for reasons we don’t fully know yet.”

So where reason has no authority, evangelicals’ posture in all this isn’t the outcome of sifting evidence, calculating odds or striving for moral consistency. It’s ultimately an expression of faith that they, like Trump, are instruments in God’s hands, faith that at the bar of reason can only appear “impossible, absurd, and false.”

Whether that’s a sound basis for crafting public policy in a pluralistic society like ours I leave as an exercise for the reader.

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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reMember: one white Alabaman’s video response to Montgomery’s Legacy Museum and Peace & Justice Memorial http://likethedew.com/2018/07/27/remember-one-white-alabamans-video-response-to-montgomerys-legacy-museum-and-peace-justice-memorial/ http://likethedew.com/2018/07/27/remember-one-white-alabamans-video-response-to-montgomerys-legacy-museum-and-peace-justice-memorial/#respond Fri, 27 Jul 2018 14:10:16 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=69487 If we work in solidarity, we can reconcile and bring to a just conclusion the scandalous legacy of slavery and mass incarceration. In reMember, a 24-minute video, Louie Crew Clay, an 81-year-old white Alabaman, takes us with him to Montgomery’s Lynching Memorial and Legacy Museum. They become for Clay a mirror in which he sees himself as an unwitting Jim Crow. Not until he was 30 did he learn that his own family was involved in the Klan. For him the experience is cathartic, not as an indictment but as an invitation to reconcile, to be in solidarity with all to bring a just conclusion to the scandalous legacy of slavery.]]>

If we work in solidarity, we can reconcile and bring to a just conclusion the scandalous legacy of slavery and mass incarceration.

In reMember, a 24-minute video, Louie Crew Clay, an 81-year-old white Alabaman, takes us with him to Montgomery’s Lynching Memorial and Legacy Museum. They become for Clay a mirror in which he sees himself as an unwitting Jim Crow. Not until he was 30 did he learn that his own family was involved in the Klan. For him the experience is cathartic, not as an indictment but as an invitation to reconcile, to be in solidarity with all to bring a just conclusion to the scandalous legacy of slavery.


Acknowledgements

  • Special thanks to The Equal Justice Initiative and its founder Bryan Stevenson for shaking the foundations of bigotry and calling us to reconcile and do justice.
  • Thanks to those who envisioned, funded, and now work to sustain EJI’s two major projects:
  • The Legacy Museum:  From Slavery to Mass Incarceration and The Peace with Justice Memorial (a.k.a. :The Lynching Memorial) – visit museumandmemorial.eji.org.
  • Each of the following artists is represented with brief snippets from her or his recordings. The full recording of each may be purchased at minimal cost at folkways.si.edu/folkways-recordings/. I am grateful to The Smithsonian’s Folkways Recordings for its a stunning collection of historic voices.
    • Claude McKay, from his poem “If we must die.”
    • An anonymous singer wailing “Field Call.”
    • A snippet from “Three Salient Facts,” from Ida B. Wells’ 1909 speech to the National Negro Conference in 1909, read by Ruby Dee.
    • The opening lines of “Nice Day for a Lynching” by Kenneth Patchen.
    • “No More Auction Block,” sung by Paul Robeson.
    • “The Struggle” read by Langston Hughes.
  • Part 1 ends with the brief final portion of “Strange Fruit (1939)” sung by Billie Holliday, available at genocidetext.net/gaci_strange.htm.
  • Video maker Louie Crew Clay read his poem “I Saw Jim Crow in the Mirror.” Originally published August 6, 2015 by The Episcopal Café and posted on Clay’s Facebook wall.
  • Cheryl Albright sang “Before I’ll Be a Slave” a.k.a. “O Freedom.” The recording also features Alexia B. Teixeira, who recited an expert from the poem “Heritage,” by Gwendolyn Bennett. Published on Apr 12, 2016 by Project Pacem, Executive Producer: Michael Scully https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fsNKCFPNFY in the public domain.
  • Second Movement of Beethoven’s – Symphony No. 3, (a.k.a. ‘The Eroica’)performed by National Symphony Orchestra (London, England), 1945, conducted by Heinz Unger, downloaded from publicdomain.lafauniere.info/index.php.
  • “Time Stops” by “Silent Partner” available from Youtube in the public domain https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spy33cjJTzY.
  • “Lament” performed by MYUU from SoundCloud.com licensed under a Creative Commons License.
  • Jeffery L. Nall, organist, performing “Deep River”, from WholeNote (2014/3/24) Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0
  • Characters and Narrators in “Terror Close to Home.”
  • Fred & James Portable for Voice Dream Readers
  • David Desktop from Microsoft
  • Quean Lutibelle from East Orange, NJ
  • Graphics of lynching by counties where we and our families have lived: assembled from those provided for all counties on the website of The Equal Justice Initiated https://museumandmemorial.eji.org
  • Google’s powerful search engines yielded multiple hits, used here as a collage of lynching images.
  • Video, script, & photographs not already acknowledged are the work of Louie Crew Clay

© 2018 by Louie Crew Clay for the public domain if acknowledged.

An HRHQL Production

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 2,750+ 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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Renewable Energy Not Only Practical But Urgently Needed http://likethedew.com/2018/07/24/renewable-energy-not-only-practical-but-urgently-needed/ http://likethedew.com/2018/07/24/renewable-energy-not-only-practical-but-urgently-needed/#respond Tue, 24 Jul 2018 10:39:47 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=69525 Nolan Hertel, an array of reputable U.S. energy experts say that renewables have great promise for completely replacing other sources of electrical power generation in America within two decades. In fact, two of these well-qualified energy engineers co-authored a cover article in Scientific American way back in 2010 that set forth a well-reasoned, detailed strategy to attain fully renewable power in the U.S. by 2035.]]>

Contrary to the recent opinion column by nuclear engineer, Nolan Hertel, an array of reputable U.S. energy experts say that renewables have great promise for completely replacing other sources of electrical power generation in America within two decades.

In fact, two of these well-qualified energy engineers co-authored a cover article in Scientific American way back in 2010 that set forth a well-reasoned, detailed strategy to attain fully renewable power in the U.S. by 2035.

Mother Nature from ChiffonTwo factors have impeded the promising potential to attain a more successful conversion to clean power: (1) misleading opinion that favors conventional sources (primarily fossil-fuels) and those who profit from them, and (2) policies that, thanks to a Supreme Court decision, overwhelmingly benefit major donors who have “skin in the game” of energy production.

Expenditures on political campaigns by the Koch Brothers and other fossil-fuel capitalists such as Exxon Mobile dwarf donations made by clean energy entrepreneurs and investors. “Oil Change International” reports that, for many years, oil and gas producers have sunk hundreds of millions annually into U.S. Congressional and Presidential Campaigns, for which they’ve been abundantly rewarded.

According to their analysis, the fossil fuel industry has received about $119 in benefits for every dollar they’ve spent on political persuasion through campaign donations – a lavish return on their self-serving corruption of public policy that reinforces protection of industry interests at the public’s expense.

“Clean Technica” and other energy-industry analysts report that fossil fuels receive a MINIMUM of some $20 billion annually in U.S. subsidies, and have received huge government support for most of the past century. Despite assertions of those who disparage clean power (solar and wind) as impractical and overly dependent on government support, actually nuclear power and fossil fuels continue receiving far more tax dollars and write-offs, as they have throughout the many decades of their existence.

In fact, without American taxpayers carrying the burden of liability costs in the event of nuclear disasters, the nuke power industry wouldn’t exist. Moreover, even with such monumental subsidies, nuclear power projects are notoriously over budget and behind schedule. Georgia Power’s expansion of Plant Vogtle – if ever completed – will cost at least twice the original estimate, while ensuring an 11% return for investors regardless of performance, under Georgia’s outdated and unfair utilities law.

Not only are U.S. energy subsidies the opposite of what is often claimed, but a convincing argument has been made that transferring fossil-fuel subsidies to clean energy could yield huge savings for citizens and consumers. In May 2017, a study released by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) found that redirecting public funds from fossil fuels to clean energy would help cut the costs of adverse impacts caused by using dirty energy.  Those impacts include hundreds of thousands of respiratory illnesses induced by polluted air as well as increasing damage to property and other valuable resources caused by wildfire, major storms, and loss of food supplies – from both land and sea.

Beware of those who discredit new technology when they are deeply vested in conventional sources of profit. And be equally skeptical of arguments asserting the impracticality of innovation when history clearly demonstrates otherwise.

Rigorous support of clean energy is especially important as the nation faces unprecedented damages brought by an overheating climate. Trillions of dollars in future costs avoided are unquestionably worth billions of investment now. U.S. policies must be reformed to serve the public, not fossil-fuel investors.

David Kyler

David Kyler

Executive Director at Center for a Sustainable Coast.

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Those Primary Ads Don’t Fit The Peach State Very Well http://likethedew.com/2018/07/24/those-primary-ads-dont-fit-the-peach-state-very-well/ http://likethedew.com/2018/07/24/those-primary-ads-dont-fit-the-peach-state-very-well/#respond Tue, 24 Jul 2018 10:04:34 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=69520

Throughout the Georgia GOP Primary, we watched a series of well-qualified candidates for office run a series of bizarre ads to the far-right, far from the mainstream.  It recalled a series of spoof ads from Saturday Night Live about Texas 28 years ago that led voters to reject those candidates running wacky ads.  Georgia Republicans would do well to learn from the lessons of Texas years ago, and find ways to connect to all state voters, and not just a small subset of them.

When I was in college in 1990 out in Texas, the gubernatorial race was wide open, like Georgia is now.  Like Georgia in 2018, the race attracted a lot of candidates.  Many of them had a lot of similar views, so each resorted to a more outrageous ad to get the voters’ attention, and to win over what appeared to be a dwindling number of undecided voters.

For example, former Texas Governor Mark White was trying for a political comeback.  He bragged about how many people he executed when he was governor, because Texas is very pro-death penalty. Attorney General Jim Mattox, one of his opponents, argued in his ads that he should get the credit for all of the executed criminals, because he personally signed the death warrants in each of those cases.

Now my friends and I regularly watched Saturday Night Live.  My favorite part of the show was the political spoof ads and debates, of course.  Picking up on the Texas death penalty angle, they had “Governor Wade Hammond” run an ad (https://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/texas-campaign-1/n9895) where he sat on a stack of coffins, bragging about all the people he executed.  A little later in the show, they had his rival, “Jack Harbaugh” (https://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/texas-campaign-2/n9896 run ads promising to make criminals suffer more than a “comfy” electric chair.  Finally, at the end of the show, they had an ad from “Randy X,” who wore an Executioner’s hood, claiming he should get the credit for the deaths (https://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/texas-campaign-3/n9899) “Pull the lever for the man who pulls the lever,” his ad said.

Jokes aside, we’ve been treated to a series of ads that will just make your head shake, bringing some notoriety to the state.  We have candidates pointing a gun at a teen, people promising to have deportation pickup trucks or buses, a “good ol’ boy” caricature chasing a rival candidate off his porch with a gun, and even charges that someone backed a bad bill just to undermine another candidate.  One candidate was secretly recorded as saying the GOP race was about being the craziest.  It was perhaps the most accurate statement made in politics this year.

These candidates have good legislative and executive experience.  They’ve written legislation, enforced the rules, and need to focus on this, since we’re looking at them to be a competent chief executive for this state.  These ads give a completely different look, and not a flattering one.

It’s important to note how that Texas race finished, and how Georgia politicians can learn from that.  Disgusted with the choices, voters rejected these candidates and their strange ads, in favor of a fresh face who connected better with the voters.  The winner was State Treasurer Ann Richards, the second female governor in Texas history, and the first elected without a husband paving the way with his own gubernatorial service.  State legislator Stacey Abrams seeks to duplicate Richards’ feat this year.  Unless the winner of the primary can offer ads that reflect Georgia values (one can be pro-gun or opposed to immigration without being so over the top), she could similarly make history in 2018.

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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Sorry, But Russia Is Not America’s Friend http://likethedew.com/2018/07/18/sorry-but-russia-is-not-americas-friend/ http://likethedew.com/2018/07/18/sorry-but-russia-is-not-americas-friend/#respond Wed, 18 Jul 2018 12:22:47 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=69504

There’s a recent warming to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the ex-KGB agent from the Soviet Union who stood against pro-democracy demonstrators in the waning days of the USSR.  Now he’s looking to undo economic sanctions imposed several years ago which have frozen his territorial conquests.  Ending the sanctions will embolden this ex-Communist leader to not only remake the Soviet empire of Cold War days, but to do something his former masters couldn’t do: destroy the NATO alliance that stood up to the USSR, and America’s freedoms if they can.

Vladimir Putin - Caricature by DonkeyHotey In President George W. Bush’s final year of office, Russia attacked the Republic of Georgia, taking territory away from our former ally.  A Georgian student of mine who served to help evacuate the wounded documented the horrors from this invasion.  The United States did not respond to this aggression very effectively.  I know it was a bad year (elections, The Great Recession, etc.), but letting Putin get away with his actions would come back to haunt us.

After the Ukrainian people ousted their corrupt pro-Russian dictator who had fixed elections and attacked peaceful demonstrators, Putin responded by annexing The Crimea from Ukraine and backing pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine (who also shot down a Malaysian airliner that flew over the country).  The United States, Canada and the European Union responded with stinging sanctions that continue to plague the Russian economy today.

Evidence shows that the Russian economy lost nearly half its value, falling by nearly a trillion in value from where it was in 2013.  Russia’s Ruble lost more than 75 percent of its value.  But it hasn’t hurt the Russian people, given that goods and services still flow across borders.  But the bank sanctions, technology sanctions, and oil sanctions, have hit the Russian rich, beholden to Putin more than the dictates of any truly free market system.

This explains why Putin and his Russian agents have sought to meddle in nearly every European election, from Brexit to the rise of populists with authoritarian streaks in both West and East Europe.  And yes, the evidence clearly shows Russia meddled as well as the United States election.  The Senate Intelligence Committee, chaired by a Republican, has now concluded that not only did Putin’s regime directly interfere in the 2016 election, but will do so again in 2018 and 2020, seeing as they got away with their manipulation last time.

Democrats and liberals were duped by Russian social media accounts claiming to promote LGBT causes, Muslim, Bernie Sanders supporters, and Green Party candidate Dr. Jill Stein.  Republicans were fooled by social media claiming to represent Texan secession, the TEA Party, gun rights, veterans, etc.  While some Republicans are recognizing Russia’s role in controlling our politics, others remain skeptical, or even see Putin as an American ally, instead of our friends from free countries who have stood by us during the Cold War and War on Terrorism.

So let me tell you what Russians leaders really think of President Trump and the GOP.  Last year, I was invited to appear on RT, the Russian government mouthpiece, to talk about Trump’s policies on the Middle East and Turkey.  Since these are areas I agree with our president, I touted the benefits of these policies.  Imagine my surprise when the RT hosts spent all of their time trashing Trump’s strategy in the region, showing their true colors, while I defended Trump.  It was a similar story when Russian media mocked the Republican Senators who flew to Moscow on July 4 to try and find some common ground.

Russia played us all for fools in the last election, and will do so again, manipulating our ballot boxes and not just our news feeds.  Ending the sanctions will lead to more Russian military conquests, destabilizing Europe and America, while their leaders laugh at Trump, his supporters and his opponents behind our backs.  If you care for Truman’s Eisenhower’s, JFK’s, and Reagan’s legacy, don’t let these ex-Soviets succeed where they failed during the Cold War.

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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The Jeopardy of Journalists In America, Then And Now http://likethedew.com/2018/07/11/the-jeopardy-of-journalists-in-america-then-and-now/ http://likethedew.com/2018/07/11/the-jeopardy-of-journalists-in-america-then-and-now/#respond Wed, 11 Jul 2018 16:03:18 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=69496 Elijah Lovejoy in Alton, Illinois.  Neo-Nazis assassinated a Jewish radio show host, Alan Berg, in the 1980s.  And the massacre in Maryland is yet another sad chapter in this story, where our free press, even our free speech, protected by the U.S. Constitution in the First Amendment, is under fire. If anyone thinks the killing of five journalists for The Capital Gazette in Maryland had nothing to do with politics, you would be mistaken.  I read his Twitter feed, and his anger at the newspaper was laced with politics, frequently connecting his diatribe with quotes and references to political acts, many connected to violence and threats against the press.]]>

In 1837, a pro-slavery mob killed abolitionist newsman Elijah Lovejoy in Alton, Illinois.  Neo-Nazis assassinated a Jewish radio show host, Alan Berg, in the 1980s.  And the massacre in Maryland is yet another sad chapter in this story, where our free press, even our free speech, protected by the U.S. Constitution in the First Amendment, is under fire.

If anyone thinks the killing of five journalists for The Capital Gazette in Maryland had nothing to do with politics, you would be mistaken.  I read his Twitter feed, and his anger at the newspaper was laced with politics, frequently connecting his diatribe with quotes and references to political acts, many connected to violence and threats against the press.

Killed for telling the truthWith these five deaths, America is now tied for second in the world for journalist deaths with Syria, with Afghanistan taking the top spot.  And we’re not even a war zone.

There is a disturbing trend in democracies.  Politicians running on populist platforms are increasingly demonizing reporters, calling them “the enemy of the people.”  Others, like Filipino President Duterte, said “Just because you’re a journalist you are not exempted from assassination, if you’re a @#^&*!”  Then, murders of reporters began in The Philippines after his inauguration.

You’re actually more likely to see democracies on the list of the countries with the most murders of journalists.  My article in The Observer last year revealed that many of the countries in the Top 16 for journalist deaths were democracies.  Some deaths come from investigating the mafia or the drug trade.  But many of them are political murders, where reporters are killed for investigating corruption.

On Monday, June 26, 2018 right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos wrote to The Observer “I can’t wait for the vigilante squads to start gunning journalists down on sight.”  On June 29, the shooter at the Maryland newspaper posted his first Tweet since 2016, and then went on his deadly attack.  It’s a bit chilling, since I write for The Observer.

Sean Hannity took to the airwaves to blame…Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and Rep. Maxine Waters for the shooting.  Hannity ignored Yiannopoulos’ words, which were far more directed.

Here’s what Rep. Waters had said that led to Hannity’s blame.  “Let’s make sure we show up wherever we have to show up. If you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them and you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”

I completely reject Waters’ suggestion.  Nobody should refuse someone a meal or hassle them at home.  It doesn’t change any policy, and plays into the hands of those who publicize the incident.  It’s a dumb idea.  But it’s not even in the same league as Yiannopoulos’ direct call for violence.

Yiannopoulos is not the only one.  Cheryl K. Chumley of The Washington Times objected late last year when Wal-Mart pulled the T-Shirt “Rope. Tree.  Journalist.  Some Assembly Required” from its sales.  She wrote “But why?  After all, what’s good for the First Amendment gander is good for the First Amendment goose,” even though the First Amendment doesn’t cover company sales.  Dana Loesch called for journalists to be “curb-stomped,” which is what Nazis did to Jews.

It’s open season on journalists in America in today’s politics.  Such rhetoric and behavior must stop, lest we become like these partial democracies that are sliding into authoritarianism.

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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