LikeTheDew.com http://likethedew.com A journal of progressive Southern culture and politics Sun, 18 Feb 2018 15:31:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.4 http://likethedew.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/cropped-DewLogoSquare825-32x32.png LikeTheDew.com http://likethedew.com 32 32 Glory Beneath The Lights http://likethedew.com/2018/02/18/glory-beneath-the-lights/ http://likethedew.com/2018/02/18/glory-beneath-the-lights/#respond Sun, 18 Feb 2018 15:31:10 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=68889 Lincoln Journal, brittle and yellow with age. One naked bulb gives me light to read as the roof turbine creaks, a squeaky metronome ticking away the seconds. Time. How easily it leaves us in the dust. These programs, ten cents each, colors fresh still, amount to time capsules. Right away I open the 1965 Greensboro Tiger program and see youthful faces. Tommy Bunch, No. 22, with his blond crew cut. Dark-haired Alex McGee, No. 57, athletic Walter Palmer, No. 61, ageless Eddie Drinkard, No. 53, flattop-wearing Boyd Lake, No. 54, and Mike Blackmon, No. 33, he of thick eyeglasses that spawned the greatest nickname ever, “Seal Beam.” In all, thirty-three players filled the 1965 roster. We’d win eight games, tie one, and lose one.]]>
Note the old mimeograph playbook.

From a box in my late parent’s dusty attic come memories. Old football programs and stories in the Lincoln Journal, brittle and yellow with age. One naked bulb gives me light to read as the roof turbine creaks, a squeaky metronome ticking away the seconds. Time. How easily it leaves us in the dust. These programs, ten cents each, colors fresh still, amount to time capsules.

Right away I open the 1965 Greensboro Tiger program and see youthful faces. Tommy Bunch, No. 22, with his blond crew cut. Dark-haired Alex McGee, No. 57, athletic Walter Palmer, No. 61, ageless Eddie Drinkard, No. 53, flattop-wearing Boyd Lake, No. 54, and Mike Blackmon, No. 33, he of thick eyeglasses that spawned the greatest nickname ever, “Seal Beam.” In all, thirty-three players filled the 1965 roster. We’d win eight games, tie one, and lose one.

Two days later back home, when I looked through each program, Region 10-C memories flooded over me…. Bus rides to games, wearing white shirts and dark ties. Getting off the bus, ready to conquer towns like Wrightsville, Louisville, Wadley, and Wrens. Putting on the uniform … inserting the thigh pads, lacing up the shoulder pads, adjusting the chinstrap. Taking the field and more often than not taking the game.

Afterwards, coming home through the dark Georgia countryside yellow lights glowed in houses as I replayed the game in my mind. It was important to remember these rare experiences never to be repeated and ultimately to be forever taken away. Pulling up to the gym late at night in old No. 20, the legendary red-and-white school bus. Weary and sore, we unloaded canvas bags holding our uniform, shoes, pads, and helmet from storage bins below.

Home games were ritualistic. We’d eat pre-game meals at Jacksons’ Home Café, “Where People Meet To Eat.” Each meal was the same, a hamburger steak. Then we’d go to the gym and idle away time. Then dress in the locker room. Go through pre-game warm-ups, calisthenics, punting and receiving, run plays … then back to the gym for a final meeting with the coaches.

Game time. We’d line up in pairs and rush onto the field beneath those legendary Friday night lights. The cheerleaders formed an allée of legs through which we ran. Pom-poms shaking, “Go Devils go.”

We went.

Writing with randomness, a medley of smells come to me. Fresh-cut grass, the salty smell of sweat, the musty smell of soggy uniforms, the breath of an opponent smashed against you in a pile, the greenish-dry smell of the lime lines. Of all the smells, fresh-cut grass was best. To this day a new-mown lawn brings back memories of Friday nights. I remember, too, August and two-a-day practices and nights at the old Y camp down by the lake. Gone now. I remember taking salt pills and drinking from a water bag hung from the Buddy Bufford arch. The heat. Relentless.

Small-town boys harbor dreams. For a brief time we were celebrities. During my four-year career I played first unit on the junior varsity and started three years on the varsity, right safety and halfback. We played both ways back then. Most of all I remember the games. The plays. The injuries.

Big games against Washington-Wilkes and Warrenton. From 1964 to 1966 we failed miserably, tying Washington-Wilkes twice and losing once, beating Warrenton once and losing twice. People talk about crowd noise at big games. I can’t recall hearing the fans … not once. The sounds I remember were play calls in the huddle, the clap of hands as we broke, and the thud of punts. Oh, and the officials’ shrill whistles. Everything else seemed to be in a dream, like some old movie without sound.

To play was to get hurt. On my very first play, the opening kickoff against Washington-Wilkes, a Tiger missing cleats spiked my left leg. Doctor Pennington cut a hunk of meat out, stitched me up, shot me up, and I went right back in. I got knocked out twice. Covering a punt, I got blocked and as I rose from the grass Alex McGee tried to leap over me. His knee hammered my forehead. Out cold. On another punt return Putnam County’s great running back Brent Cunningham planted his helmet in my chest and ran over me, bruising my sternum. It hurt as bad as any injury I received. The pain lasted six months.

My senior year a guy speared me. I had run a sweep around left end and after I was down he dove into my lower back helmet-first. Broke three vertebrate. Had to wear a brace the rest of the season. Was he flagged? I can’t remember. Broke a toe and a finger and spent time in the whirlpool. But here’s the thing. I’d go back and do it again. Playing the greatest game of all did good things for me. Watching a game you once played you better feel the game’s urgency. It instilled a desire to stay in shape. And it shaped how I perceive other men. Over the years, I’ve seen how some men who never played football seem difficult, like spoiled babies. Playing on a team and having a part to do on every play instills an appreciation for discipline and execution. And toughness too. Life hurts. There’s no avoiding pain.

I played football between the glory days of the early 1960s and the Larry Campbell era. Even though we were winners, I view my career with disappointment. We didn’t go undefeated and I didn’t play as well as I should have. A 70-yard touchdown against Mt. De Sales and an interception against the Greensboro Tigers were senior year highlights. The angle of pursuit works. I ran a back down from about thirty yards away across the field, saving a touchdown, but I can’t recall the game, Louisville? The disappointment gave me reason to be motivated, to make sure the rest of life would not be as disappointing as a record of 22-6-2 was.

Football. It’s behind me now but sometimes I dream I’m suited up again. The dreams seem to be in color but what stands out from those nighttime apparitions are black nights, white helmets, and glaring lights. I hate waking up. It’s worse than the end of another season because it’s the only way I can play now. I’d give anything to play again and even at my age I’d suit up for a game given the chance. To be sixteen again.

I hear the boys of Lincoln County don’t care for football much now. I hear they don’t go out for the team. I hear they like their iPhones and social media more. They sound like sissies. They should wear pink skirts and paint their nails. Wear earrings too. I bet some do, the sissy Susans.

Someday when they are cleaning out their dead mom and dad’s attic, maybe they’ll come across a box of old cell phones. That won’t summon up memories nor resurrect any kind of glory will it. Let’s just hope they don’t grow up to be difficult, unappreciative men. If they do and they well might, a few fleeting years of sweat, pain, and teamwork could have worked miracles for them. Some small-time glory beneath the lights? Feeling like a celebrity for a moment? It’s something you carry the rest of your life, and I feel sorry for the boys who will never know just what it feels like or how it might have changed their life.

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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I See Something. And I’m Saying Something http://likethedew.com/2018/02/16/i-see-something-and-im-saying-something/ http://likethedew.com/2018/02/16/i-see-something-and-im-saying-something/#respond Fri, 16 Feb 2018 11:55:03 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=68872 300 school shootings since 2013 with 18 this year, I’m seeing something. And I’m saying something. When a former student entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with an AR-15, smoke grenades and plenty of ammo, he killed 17 students and teachers. After learning that students and teachers were worried about him, every politician took the opportunity to say the banal “If you see something, say something!”  ]]>

After the tragedy in Parkland, Florida, our elected officials are screaming “If you see something, say something!” Well, after nearly 300 school shootings since 2013 with 18 this year, I’m seeing something. And I’m saying something.

When a former student entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with an AR-15, smoke grenades and plenty of ammo, he killed 17 students and teachers. After learning that students and teachers were worried about him, every politician took the opportunity to say the banal “If you see something, say something!”

“As reactions poured in Thursday, President Donald Trump focused on the young man’s mental health, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he wants the Justice Department to study how mental illness and gun violence intersect, to better understand how law enforcement can use existing laws to intervene before school shootings begin,” wrote Terry Spencer and Kelli Kennedy with the Associated Press.

Shooter Nikolas Cruz and his cache of weapons
Shooter Nikolas Cruz and his cache of weapons

“‘It cannot be denied that something dangerous and unhealthy is happening in our country,’ Sessions told a group of sheriffs in Washington. In ‘every one of these cases, we’ve had advance indications and perhaps we haven’t been effective enough in intervening,” the authors continued.

Believe it or not, Barack Obama suggested the exact same thing after the Sandy Hook shooting. He sought permission to allow the CDC to study how mental illness and gun violence intersect, exactly what Senator Sessions called for. But in 2016, Congress extended the two decade ban on enabling the CDC to study the causes of gun violence, including mental health. Any guesses as to how Senator Sessions voted on that?

In that same AP article, the reporters wrote “Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott said he’s already told House Speaker Richard Corcoran that ‘if someone is mentally ill, he should not have access to a gun.’”

Well, four years after the Sandy Hook shooting, President Obama and Congress finally reached a compromise, according to the Hartford Courant. “U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, the second-highest ranking Republican in the chamber, fought to include legislation in the bill that would require a full judicial hearing to ban someone with mental illness from buying guns.” Sure it would make it much harder for law enforcement to stop someone with mental illness from buying a gun, but it was at least something, right?

Well, here’s what happened in Trump’s first month in office. “President Donald Trump quietly signed a bill into law Tuesday rolling back an Obama-era regulation that made it harder for people with mental illnesses to purchase a gun,” according to Ali Vitali with NBC News. It was revoked by H.J. Res. 40, and supported by the NRA. In 2017, Nicholas Cruz (Nick Cruz, Nikolas Cruz) bought an AR-15. Scott’s Florida didn’t fingerprint him, require a special permit, or require a waiting period which could have helped law enforcement.

“So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior,” tweeted President Trump. “Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!”

Well, I am reporting that our health officials are unable to study the effects of mental health on gun violence, and have been barred from doing so for more than 20 years. And I am reporting that a law that would keep mentally ill people from buying a gun that passed not long ago was also repealed last year.

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Author’s Note: This column is in honor of Jamie Bishop, the son of my colleague and friend Michael Bishop. Jamie was killed by a mentally ill gunman at Virginia Tech, along with 31 other students and faculty on April 16, 2007.

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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Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari http://likethedew.com/2018/02/11/sapiens-a-brief-history-of-humankind-by-yuval-noah-harari/ http://likethedew.com/2018/02/11/sapiens-a-brief-history-of-humankind-by-yuval-noah-harari/#respond Sun, 11 Feb 2018 19:02:49 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=68851 Big Bang and what followed - being physics, chemistry, biology and finally culture, throwing in everything but the kitchen sink, though it is implied. Once evolution had produced, according to Harari, the last common Grandmother of Chimpanzees and humans, we emerged as the genus Homo, breaking into several main camps - Erectus, Rudolfensis, Neanderthalensis and Sapiens, with other short-lived (relatively speaking) members who didn't make it. Of course, neither did the main ones, except for a ferocious serial killer called Homo Sapien. Harari accuses this group, us, of virtual genocide in bringing to extinction the other members as well as hoards of other species and genera.]]>

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah HarariThe subject of Sapiens is a trifle broad, covering as it does, beginning at the beginning, Big Bang and what followed – being physics, chemistry, biology and finally culture, throwing in everything but the kitchen sink, though it is implied.

Once evolution had produced, according to Harari, the last common grandmother of chimpanzees and humans, we emerged as the genus Homo, breaking into several main camps – Erectus, Rudolfensis, Neanderthalensis and Sapiens, with other short-lived (relatively speaking) members who didn’t make it. Of course, neither did the main ones, except for a ferocious serial killer called Homo Sapien. Harari accuses this group, us, of virtual genocide in bringing to extinction the other members as well as hoards of other species and genera.

You can keep your left thumb marking the timeline just before the first chapter. It informs us that the Universe has been expanding for 13.5 billion years, the earth settled in around 4.5 billion, a billion years later organisms emerged, and the genus Homo appeared about 2.5 million. Homo Sapien comes in at 200,000 years and their (our) cognitive revolution at 70,000. A lot of this stuff you, as a casual reader, have to, like the Trump follower, take on faith, trust the experts, although in this case the “experts” have credibility.

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah HarariThe timeframe in question here is divided up into major revolutions by the author – after hunting and foraging for a few million years someone got the fateful idea, about 12,000 years back, to have an Agricultural Revolution, with its domestication of plants and animals. This was gradual, despite my wit but carried on until the Scientific Revolution of only 500 years ago. What made these revolutions possible also sealed the extinction of the other members of the Homo club, what Harari calls the Cognitive Revolution of about 70,000 years back. This DNA mutation or whatever, enabled Homo Sapien to imagine, which enabled complex social structures. Sapien was no match, one to one, for the stronger Neanderthal but the capacity to imagine, to “fictionalize”, gave us a fatal, for them, advantage. And it laid the ground for our own successor, the non-biological being we are about to create. Harari leads us to this argument but puts off the sales job to his next book, Homo Deus.

And that is an impressive feat, to have another book to follow this comprehensive, dense look at our journey. I would have thought he’d be exhausted and at most, ferreting around for the energy to begin to research his next scholarly project. The guy has already done it. But back to this one. He throws in interesting details like, it took 300,000 years for the daily use of fire to become routine. There is a persuasive description of how animals became domesticated. He credits the quirky adoption, in Western Europe, of an attitude of incomplete knowledge, curiosity, with its eventual dominance, in the form of a capitalist colonialism. That colonialism was (is) cruel with dire consequences AND he would argue, benefits. The mindset retrieved lost knowledge of India’s past civilizations, for example, and united a diverse array of people into the present state of India. It also engaged in some serious drug dealing, even going to war with China for its right to sell opium there, gaining also the long-term lease of what came to be Hong Kong.

Harari likes to challenge convention, provoke a little controversy. He suggests that Homo Sapien was more content in the days of hunting/gathering, had more leisure and enjoyment whereas the agricultural life brought us tedium and long work days, extending down the long line to our own over-scheduled lives. He argues that the ability to imagine myths and religions, beliefs, enabled Sapiens to create large cities and empires, something the pre-cognitive peoples lacked. This short-coming limited the size of a band of foragers to less than 150 members. He lays out some perfectly arbitrary and ridiculous beliefs, contrasts them with contemporary thought and suggests that they serve the same function. When someone says they love their country they don’t realize that the whole thing is fiction, the “country” is an arbitrary area. That the value of money or property are completely fictive, unreal. He sketches the development of money from early barley to coinage to electronic transfer of funds around the planet, all imaginary and based on trust. Despite the “truth or not” of these beliefs, they unify, provide the cohesion necessary for a society to thrive, even if it’s only an elite who actually prospers.

Speaking of controversy, Harari describes Sapien as a vicious, efficient serial killer. He backs this up by showing that we had reached the far corners of the earth, spread from Africa, across Europe and Asia, to Australia, to the tip of South America by 10,000 BC. Wherever we went, vast numbers of other species went extinct. This trend continues though of course, like a virulent parasite, we insure our own demise when we kill our host. We have grown in numbers from one million 150,000 years ago to today’s near 7 billion, crowding other species out, with our numbers and with our domestication and thus proliferation of certain species ie, chickens, cows, pigs. All unsustainable.

Along with two colleagues, in the late 90s, I attended a 5 day course called Living on the Edge of Evolution. We covered much of the same ground as Sapiens and there was an emphasis on values. What values brought us to this moment in time? What values do we need to adopt to survive the fate our current values are bringing us to ie, nuclear holocaust, polluted life system, over-population? The three of us returned to Atlanta and did several 7 week workshops using the template of that training in California. The workshops culminated in intensive weekends in North Georgia where we all left rejuvenated and optimistic about the future of Sapiens and the life system. Little did we know what was coming in the Bush/Cheney administrations, the disappointing Obama presidency and now, the calamity.

The author’s notion of where Sapien is heading does not cheer me up either. When I think of how empires have treated their new subjects, how corporate raiders treat their acquisitions, how the patriarchy treats women, minorities, slaves… I fear for the people of my home country when the next empire rumbles into town, China perhaps, Harari’s notion of AI (artificial intellegence) a non-biology critter or an advanced culture from another galaxy or dimension. We can hope, despite discouraging precedent, that they will break with the historical record and come with beneficial intentions. It could, and should, happen from within but in these discouraging times it is hard to muster the imagination in that direction.

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Post-script: The citizen who identifies with the current leadership supposes that that leadership represents their interests. Why? Probably because the leadership seems to mouth important shared values. One way for the ordinary citizen to free themselves from this association, which I suggest is actually NOT in that citizen’s interests, is to examine those supposed shared values – racism for example. The average citizen actually has more in common with workers of other races, ethnicities and nations than with the so-called leadership and those who control them, the 1%.

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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Good Ideas and Bad Ideas That Donald Trump Has http://likethedew.com/2018/02/09/good-ideas-and-bad-ideas-that-donald-trump-has/ http://likethedew.com/2018/02/09/good-ideas-and-bad-ideas-that-donald-trump-has/#respond Fri, 09 Feb 2018 17:53:08 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=68844 Good Idea: Military Parades. This might shock you that I would think this was a good idea. The Military Times reports that 89% oppose such an idea. And there is a chance that this could look like the showy spectacles that Soviet Union used to put on in Red Square, or that North Korea does on a regular basis. A conservative student of mine, who served in the armed forces, thinks that while some vehicles could be used, having heavy tanks and treads would ruin the urban roads, costing lots of money that could be spent on veterans and VA hospitals.]]>

Over the last few weeks, President Donald Trump has said and done a lot of things. Many of these ideas are ones that my students and members of the community have been discussing, and people have asked me about. Some are good ideas. Others are bad ideas.

Good Idea: Military Parades. This might shock you that I would think this was a good idea. The Military Times reports that 89% oppose such an idea. And there is a chance that this could look like the showy spectacles that Soviet Union used to put on in Red Square, or that North Korea does on a regular basis. A conservative student of mine, who served in the armed forces, thinks that while some vehicles could be used, having heavy tanks and treads would ruin the urban roads, costing lots of money that could be spent on veterans and VA hospitals.

But I think it would be a good idea to honor our servicemen and women. Other democratic countries like France have such parades. But it should include the veterans who served our country, showing our support for them as well. And it definitely should not be hijacked by politicians for political reasons.

Bad Idea: Saying The Opposition Party Engaged In Treason By Not Clapping During The State Of The Union. Here’s what President Trump said to a crowd in Cincinnati after his State of the Union Address. “They were like death and un-American. Un-American. Somebody said, ‘treasonous.’ I mean, Yeah, I guess why not? Can we call that treason? Why not? I mean they certainly didn’t seem to love our country that much.” Trump later said that he was “joking.” But Trump clearly leveled a charge against Democrats that carries the penalty of death in this country, for merely doing what Republicans did during Obama’s State of the Union Addresses, minus the “You lie!” yell.

It’s not only a political wrong, but a moral wrong as well to call for another’s death. At some point, people have to stop making excuses for Trump. “He didn’t know any better.” “He didn’t mean it.” “Can’t you take a joke?” Allowing such incendiary comments is grooming the United States for authoritarianism, and assassination attempts like the one that severely wounded U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords and left several people dead in Tucson, Arizona.

Good Idea: Supporting The Syrian Kurds. Trump is backing the Syrian Kurds, doing more than Obama did for them in his terms. And the Kurds responded by helping beat ISIS on the ground, teaming up with some U.S. military advisers. Now this same group is under attack by Turkish dictator Erdogan. The Trump Administration has called upon Turkey to stop attacking our best allies against ISIS. He should do a little more for Kurdish allies in the war on terrorism, defending against such attacks (our generals on the ground agree) and maybe relent on that “Muslim ban” to let in some Kurdish refugees fleeing these assaults.

Bad Idea: Saying You’d Love To See A Government Shut Down. “Let’s have a shutdown,” Trump said while discussing immigration laws. “We’ll do a shutdown and it’s worth it for our country. I’d love to see a shutdown if we don’t get this stuff taken care of.” Knowing that such remarks could well cost the GOP their Congressional majority, Republicans caved to the Democrats on a number of budget matters. Individual GOP congressmen and congresswomen called out the president for such remarks, remembering how Newt Gingrich lost on government shutdowns by calling for them. The best news was announced by GOP Senator David Perdue about a bipartisan commission to draft legislation to stop all of these fiscal cliffs and budget shutdowns for political gain. If the reform is truly bipartisan, it will be a major achievement.

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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Cultivating Wisdom Instead of Fighting Stupid http://likethedew.com/2018/02/09/cultivating-wisdom-instead-of-fighting-stupid/ http://likethedew.com/2018/02/09/cultivating-wisdom-instead-of-fighting-stupid/#respond Fri, 09 Feb 2018 16:44:25 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=68835

As Georgia’s coast faces a daunting future, we must expand the capabilities of our political, policy, and regulatory bodies.

Consider three major challenges already underway:

  • Sea-level rise, flooding and storm damage are getting worse. So far in the 21st century, the U.S. has suffered annual hurricane damage four times the yearly average in the last century. Georgia has incurred about $5 billion in storm-related expenses just over the past two years.
  • Natural resources that support some 40,000 jobs on Georgia’s coast – at least $2 billion in business, about a fifth of the coastal economy – are at greater risk from activities such as fossil-fuel processing and obsolete policies governing forestry, energy, and agriculture.
  • Global trade is both an opportunity and a threat. In attempting to capture foreign markets, Georgia’s natural resources are threatened by over-exploitation and collateral damage caused by negligent practices. A sustainable, accountable approach to Georgia’s trade and economic development is urgently needed.

Wisdom must be applied to presenting reliable information and expanding the vision of decision-makers to ensure that longer-term consequences of positions on these and other major issues are properly considered.

To successfully confront these profound problems and safeguard future generations, a comprehensive, fact-based action-strategy is essential. This strategy must be based on an objective state-sponsored study of Georgia’s coastal threats and opportunities in the 21st century – prepared with extensive public involvement.

We cannot afford suffering costly, self-inflicted harms brought by willful negligence.

David Kyler

David Kyler

Executive Director at Center for a Sustainable Coast.

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Quitting Time http://likethedew.com/2018/02/07/quitting-time/ http://likethedew.com/2018/02/07/quitting-time/#respond Wed, 07 Feb 2018 12:54:34 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=68825 The State, “had a great story he swore was true,” said Hughes, who’s a lady. Don’t let the name, Warren, fool you.]]>

No guts, no glory they say, and it is true. If you’ve ever taken a job and realized right off it was a mistake but stayed anyway, this column is for you. If you wished you had had the courage to quit that first day, then this column really is for you. Well, some folks do quit day one. Here’s a tale about a fellow you can’t help but admire. You just want to put yourself in his shoes.

I came by this courageous tale thanks to friend and reader, Warren McInnis Hughes, who told me a story reporter Bert Lunan liked to tell. “Like us,” said Warren, “Lunan was a restless wanderer.” Lunan, who worked two stints at Columbia’s The State, “had a great story he swore was true,” said Hughes, who’s a lady. Don’t let the name, Warren, fool you.

It’s a life lesson for sure that Warren shared. Lunan called his story, “Knowing when to fold ’em,” and it made him and his tale immortal. “I tell it to this day,” said Hughes. Indeed, she does. Lunan was working for a newspaper in Kentucky when a new reporter with a fine reputation came in for his first day. The new reporter spent some time in the newsroom and then made the rounds of his new beat. He came back in the late afternoon of his first day and said, “Well, that’s it. I’m leaving.”

“When will you be back,” asked a colleague.

“I won’t. I’m quitting.”

“Quitting? Why?”

“I just don’t like the feel of the place.” (Some of you know exactly what he felt.)

Lunan would wrap up his story saying, “See, the important thing is, “you got to know when to fold ’em. Not later, immediately.”

As Kenny Roger’s sang, knowing when to fold ’em is sound advice, and I commend this courageous and honest reporter for quitting on his first day of work. It’s something I should have done. Call it quits on the very first day, and more than once. I’ve quit four jobs and in two instances I just walked out the door. No notice, nothing. Just cleaned out my desk and walked. It felt great I assure you. Was it reckless? Sure. Was it necessary? Yes. What good is a job if it drives you crazy? And here’s the best part. Not only did I survive, I ended up in much better circumstances. So much for burning bridges. Lunan, you see, was right. “You got to know when to fold ’em.”

I folded them in one case when I was hired to be a writer when all the boss man needed was a dolt to follow him around taking notes. I folded them when a big boss man hired me as a writer when in reality all I did was edit technical reports all day long. “You hired a jet pilot to be a crop duster,” I told him. Technically he and his underling replaced me with a lawyer “who could write.” I felt like Brer Rabbit who had just been tossed into a briar patch. Ecstatic. I cleaned out my desk the next morning at dawn and vamoosed, never to be seen again.

In another situation I was hired to write web content except there was one problem. There was no web content to write. This job, in the early days of the Internet, was ahead of its time but nonetheless a bad fit for me. I hung in there ten months. Ten months too long. The very first day I should have said, “Well, that’s it. I’m leaving.”

In one instance that got pretty heated, I got tired of working for a drone with the intelligence of a dung beetle. He sicked his lieutenant on me and after a lot of harassment I just walked out. But, I should have left much earlier. Like a carton of old greenish sour cream, a job really does sour and that’s when you know it’s time to leave.

It’s been said there are worse things than having no income, and I agree. How many people do you know who have toiled away at a job they hate just to earn a paycheck. Now doing what it takes to support a family is noble, and I applaud that. But I know and you know that sometimes we hang onto a job because it’s just easier than finding a better one. Never a good thing.

Quitting time. It can apply to bad relationships, bad lifestyles (smokers), and even the places where we live. “You just don’t like the feel of the place.” It worked for that fine reporter and I’ll wager it can work for you too.

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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Open Veins of Latin America, Eduardo Galeano http://likethedew.com/2018/01/21/open-veins-of-latin-america-eduardo-galeano/ http://likethedew.com/2018/01/21/open-veins-of-latin-america-eduardo-galeano/#respond Sun, 21 Jan 2018 19:37:40 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=68639 Open Veins of Latin America Edwardo Galeano has written a Latin American equivalent of Howard Zinn's People's History of the U.S. As difficult as it has been for the subject of Zinn's book, not your generals and presidents but the people, ordinary workers, the plight of Latin America's people has been much harsher. More akin to the victims of slavery and the land-stealing expansion and massacre of Native Americans. The ruling class in the U.S., or much of it, currently aspires to total control whereas the rulers of our southern neighbors have had it from day one. First the native population was coopted, enslaved and slaughtered. Then came ...]]>

Open Veins of Latin America by Eduardo GaleanoOpen Veins of Latin America Eduardo Galeano has written a Latin American equivalent of Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the U.S. As difficult as it has been for the subject of Zinn’s book, not your generals and presidents but the people, ordinary workers, the plight of Latin America’s people has been much harsher. More akin to the victims of slavery and the land-stealing expansion and massacre of Native Americans. The ruling class in the U.S., or much of it, currently aspires to total control whereas the rulers of our southern neighbors have had it from day one. First the native population was coopted, enslaved and slaughtered. Then came that part of the population not deft, clever, well-placed or ruthless enough to insinuate themselves into the local elite. Slavery, slaughter, hunger and merciless exploitation has been the daily grind of those unfortunates.

Galeano points out that the settlers of the U.S. had to eck out a way to survive, taking cues from the natives at first who knew how to do it. Since there were no particularly desireable resources, like the gold of South Amercia, to hypnotize European royalty, North America became primarily a dumping ground for Europe’s access population. The fiercest focus of exploitation was where the gold was, at first, then various natural resources. So, by a sort of distraction the colonies developed an independence not tolerated in the south. Even later, with the settlement of the west, the general population rather than an elite was given land. If they worked it successfully they prospered, or at least survived. With the southern model, workers did not own land but were viewed as disposable slaves or cheap labor, working it for the owners. The owners were sub-colonialists for the European masters. This accounts for the greater prosperity of the north, according to Galeano. This prosperity, obviously, excluded the original inhabitants and slaves, a legacy of unimaginable injustice that lives on, nurtured by white privilege and class division. The 1% profited from the scourge of slavery and continues to profit from the division caused by racism and an abysmal ignorance.

This was the situation in Latin America, colonialism. With national independence a neo-colonialism emerged where a local elite thrived serving the European manipulators, exchanging local resources and cheap labor, for luxury imports and a privileged life. The slaves and later the peasants were kept in line by the usual methods – the whip, the overseer, the police and army. One exception occurred but like the French Revolution, was soon crushed by surrounding nations, threatened by a “bad” example. Paraguay came under the dictatorship of Gaspar Rodriguez de Francia who reversed the usual state of affairs. Torture, prison, police and death squads were put to work but this time against the oligarchy instead of dissidents in the general population. Land reform, locally beneficial projects, industry were all developed for a truly independent Paraguay, escaping the colonialism directed by Eurpoean business interests. These by the way, were primarily British. Even when the gold was flowing to Spain and Portugal, the lion’s share ended up in Britain via their business acumen versus the royal families’ aristocratic, decadent and unsustainable wars and lifestyles. These frivolous values were exported of course to Latin America, mirrored in elite rule and mass poverty. The Paraguayan experiment lasted from 1814 – 1840 under Gaspar and to about 1865 under his successors who continued and vitalized the policies. Travelers of the times remarked that Paraquay lacked beggars, thieves, hunger, illiteracy and great fortunes held by oligarchs.

Brazil and Argentina, threatened by the subversion of this “bad apple,” invaded Uruguay and from there Paraguay, putting a stop to the experiment in the most decisive and ruthless manner, returning the country to the fold of cheap labor, export economy, elite rule and a seriously outta luck peasantry. The true winner in this endeavor was neither Brazil nor Argentina but British bankers who funded the war, leaving both countries deeply in debt. Eventually Latin America left the British orbit, only to be captured by the U.S. as it became the dominant imperialist power. Remember the Monroe Doctrine?

There have been some hopeful developments since Galeano’s book was published in 1971 – Chavez, Castro, Nicaragua but on the whole the oligarchy beats back any threat. The U.S. (under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the “liberal” President Obama) was quick to recognize a coup in Honduras that overthrew a democratically elected president on flimsy pretenses, paid mercenaries, terrorists really, to turn back Nicaragua’s revolution under Reagan, and of course has been illegally attacking and undermining Cuba since 1959, meddling with Venezuela’s attempts to extricate itself from colonialism and supported oppressive regimes and coups all over Central and South America. This is the force running through not just Latin America’s history but the world’s… a force that has mostly, but not always, overwhelmed the resistance that arises to its injustice. This is the cancerous force that must be subdued if our species is to have any hope of surviving. It is out there, yes, but it is also in here, and seductive. Though it is another discussion, the struggle between greed and justice can be reduced to the question of who will dominate, both personally and societal, ego or presence.

###

Author’s Post Script: Venezuela’s President Chavez handed Obama a copy of Open Veins at a function. Obama later said, to his shame, “He can give it to me but I don’t have to read it.”

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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Prayers From Stall No. 1 http://likethedew.com/2018/01/21/prayers-from-stall-no-1/ http://likethedew.com/2018/01/21/prayers-from-stall-no-1/#comments Sun, 21 Jan 2018 18:40:09 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=68675

 

Life experiences fuel writing, which is a mysterious thing. Something happens and it sends your mind to places long forgotten. Writing’s beautiful. You startle yourself with a luminous phrase. Writing’s frightening. A thing sends your mind to places you avoid. Something last week sent my mind to a time I dread and it has me rethinking how I travel this road called Life.

I was to speak at a complex where elderly people congregate. I was minutes from speaking when a tad too much coffee sent me to the Men’s Room. I began to do what men do when I heard whispers, loud whispers. A man was sitting in stall number one. All I could see were his white walking shoes and one of those HurryCanes standing upright by his feet. I never saw his face. Not once.

I don’t believe he could hear that well. He didn’t know I was in the room with him. His whispers were loud. “Oh Lord,” he prayed, “Just once let me sit next to someone without losing control of my bowels. Just once, Lord, help me, please.”

I didn’t mean to eavesdrop but, caught in a moment, I had no choice. TMI, I know. He continued to pray and in an odd amalgam of memory and empathy “Mr. Piano Man,” Billy Joel’s song popped into my head. “There’s an old man sitting next to me. He says, son can you play me a memory. I’m not really sure how it goes, but it’s sad and it’s sweet, and I knew it complete, when I wore a younger man’s clothes.”

How I wished this man had been wearing a younger man’s clothes. When he did wear a younger man’s clothes, I wonder if he ever thought this day would come. Or maybe some infirmity struck just of late. I debated writing this column. It seems like an invasion of privacy but the next night a friend casually said, “Tom, I’ve been thinking about killing myself.”

I tried to play it off, “Well, we all have these thoughts you know.”

His comment and the prayer from stall no. one reveal a truth. Once you reach mile markers approaching 80, Highway Life turns into the Road of Dread and a hitchhiker named Fear rides alongside you.

Don’t fear the reaper” goes another song. Well, every time I walk into a convenience store with its ragtag humanity loitering there, I think, “Today’s the day I get shot.” When I’m driving down an interstate cast among speeding eighteen-wheelers, I think, “Today’s the day a wreck throws my obituary onto the page.”

But you want to know the truth? I don’t fear the reaper. I fear his henchmen – Dependence, Incontinence, Depression, Weakness, Despair, and Amnesia. I fear the passing of time that hastens the day my body’s betrayal arrives. Something will go haywire; it always does. As my Grandmother Walker approached her last few miles, on a summer day even, she would sit wrapped in a shawl next to a space heater and stare out the window. “Tommy, look at those horses out there.”

“Yes ma’am, they sure are pretty.”

There were no horses.

In the spring of 2003, a doctor at MUSC ushered our small family and cancer-stricken father into a room and prayed. Then he told my father there was nothing more they could do. Dad cried without making a sound. Tears streamed from his eyes, which had long lost that spark of life. Dad cried and made not one sound. Nothing.

A year earlier the surgeon’s blade had removed his larynx.

I’ve been traveling Highway Life a while now and I have seen fellow travelers fall by the wayside. Some died young as only the good can do. Outside of cancer, most succumbed to accidents, strokes, heart attacks, and, in one sad case, suicide. God bless them all.

I’ve experienced hundreds of sermons, dozens of funerals and graveside farewells, revivals, and many a memorial service. The whispered prayer from stall no. 1 was the most earnest, most impassioned prayer I’ve heard. Ever. Every ounce of this man’s soul went into it. I never saw his face but I will never forget him. And I thank him. He’s given me a new perspective on the route I should take onward. Way too many people live a life devoid of physical activity. They pay the price down the road.

We all have our demons. Dreading the embarrassment old age unleashes sitting next to a fellow human being might be the worst. The fellow praying in stall no. 1 renewed my resolve to take better care of the only thing I truly own. My body.

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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Darryl Rhoades And The Ticking Clock http://likethedew.com/2018/01/18/darryl-rhoades-and-the-ticking-clock/ http://likethedew.com/2018/01/18/darryl-rhoades-and-the-ticking-clock/#respond Thu, 18 Jan 2018 13:46:28 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=68583 tell you fancy and tell you plain. Pomus, who had written the lyrics to "Save the Last Dance for Me," "This Magic Moment," "Little Sister," and many more hits, had also taken time to advise and assist Lou Reed, Shawn Colvin and Dr. John with their songs...]]>

Even Bob Dylan knew he could learn something new about songwriting from Doc Pomus. It was the summer of 1988. Already Dylan had written enough great songs to merit a Nobel Prize for Literature, which would come 28 years later, but at the time Dylan was suffering from writer’s block. As Dylan would put it, he needed advice from someone who could tell you fancy and tell you plain. Pomus, who had written the lyrics to “Save the Last Dance for Me,” “This Magic Moment,” “Little Sister,” and many more hits, had also taken time to advise and assist Lou Reed, Shawn Colvin and Dr. John with their songs. Doc was available whenever a songwriter wanted to discuss the art, the craft, and the creation of a song. Darryl Rhoades, wildly popular in Atlanta with his Hahavishnu Orchestra, came to New York City and he too found Pomus to be a willing teacher. Pomus also impressed upon Rhoades that a songwriter should apply self-discipline to his work: If you say you’re a writer, then don’t waste your time, keep writing. And as the decades have passed, Darryl Rhoades has followed Doc’s advise.

Given how Rhoades and his band packed the Great Southeast Music Hall, the Bistro and the Electric Ballroom in the last half of the ’70s, he had every reason to believe he would hit nationally with his unique brand of theatrical and satirical rock. Applying Donald O’ Connor’s approach, Rhoades would make ’em laugh with his musical send-ups. Jan and Dean’s “Dead Man’s Curve” became the Jaws -inspired “Surfin’ Shark.” He dolloped his “Burgers from Heaven” with ’50s teenage heartache. The audiences would roll in laughter over his parodies of songs by the Allman Brothers Band and Chicago. No one in show business or politics was safe from Darryl’s acerbic wit. He wanted to poke at everyone and everything, all the while being so likeable about it.

But it takes only a minute to skim (and groan) over a list of the top ten novelty/comedy hits of all time. Oh yes, some were popular and momentarily amusing, but then quickly forgotten. For perspective, please remember the Chevrolet Vega was the 1971 Motor Trend Car of the Year. Besides, Rhoades never wanted to be Ray Stevens. There was too much music to write and too many important things to say, so as the days and years passed, he kept writing, just as Doc Pomus instructed.

Darryl Rhoades has recorded thirteen albums since taking direction from Pomus. That’s a mess of writing, and as the days and years have passed, Rhoades expounds on the mess known as life. Those of us now in our seventh decade probably realize that no matter how good we feel, we’re still in the season of death. We hope to see more decades pass, but many family members, friends, and colleagues aren’t around to share them with with us. Rhoades acknowledges that by dedicating his new album, The Last Goodbye, to Doc Pomus, Joel Dorn, Col. Bruce Hampton and other friends who’ve left the planet. Hampton always wanted to encourage a friend, just as much as he enjoyed making a friend. One can just hear Bruce, between plates of appetizers at a Buford Highway eatery, declaring The Last Goodbye as Rhoades’ best album yet. And Bruce would be right.

Rhoades isn’t pushing the comedy or theatrics this time around. Instead, as he told Like The Dew, his focus on The Last Goodbye is “the ticking clock and what we do with it.” Backed by a stellar group of musicians and singers (all hail Deborah Reece and Martina Albano), Rhoades fulfills the promise that lurked underneath that big shark mask in the ’70s. To those really paying attention back then, it was obvious he had the musical chops, and when talking with him, it was obvious he had a keen eye on what was happening out there and why it was happening. On The Last Goodbye, Rhoades, some four decades later, again observes, reveals, and redeems. It’s even a step up from his solid 2008 album, Weapons of Mass Deception.

The Last Goodbye covers much ground musically; jazz and country inflections abound and the straight-ahead rock approach is also intact. One of the album’s best songs,”The Little Hand Was On Goodbye,” has an early Byrds’ influence. Their recording of Dylan’s “My Back Pages” comes to mind. Though not as probing as Dylan’s masterpiece, “The Little Hand Was On Goodbye” imparts a series of one’s recollections and summations. Covered are second thoughts, remorse and the valley of recriminations, all based on the protagonist’s experiences. Looking back while saying goodbye is a theme that comes up repeatedly on the album. The season of death is given its due.

Interestingly enough, I gave The Last Goodbye its first listen shortly after watching the second-ever episode ofThe Twilight Zone. Rod Serling and Darryl Rhoades, together at last, so to speak. In “One For The Angels,” Mr. Serling has us consider one Lou Bookman, a street peddler, working the lower-middle class streets of New York, hawking ties, lotions, and various trifles. It’s July 1959 and on his next birthday, Lou, played by Ed Wynn, will celebrate his 70th birthday, but not if Mr. Death, who’s been stalking Lou most of the afternoon, can help it. Mr. Death sees the affection Lou and the neighborhood kids have for each other. That’s all in the “record” but he watches, unbeknownst to all, as Lou gives away a couple of toys from his case. Lou promises the kids ice cream later as he walks up to his room. There he sees Mr. Death making himself at home. Lou is so good-natured that he’s hardly bothered by the well-dressed stranger, the same one he saw while pitching his wares. But it’s another thing when Mr. Death tells Lou his time is up. Departure will be at midnight tonight. Both hands will be on twelve o’clock and Lou has to wave goodbye. Yet Lou won’t hear any of it, his will is too strong. So he makes a deal with Mr. Death, but it goes awry minutes later. So Mr. Death makes other arrangements. Just outside Lou’s building, 8 year-old Maggie, whom Lou adores, is hit by an old pick-up. Maggie will die at midnight. Lou can stay but Maggie has to go. Mr. Death has a quota to maintain. Lou determines he’ll keep Mr. Death out of Maggie’s apartment until after midnight. Then she’ll be in the clear. Mr. Death takes most of the evening off but returns at a quarter of twelve. Then Lou decides to make a “truly big pitch” to Mr. Death. The pitch will make “the skies open up;” it will be “one for the angels,” the kind of pitch he never made before. He presents whatever he pulls out of his case, ties, spools of thread, no matter what the item, Mr. Death is enthralled. “I’ll take all you have,” he tells Lou. Finally, with the clock about to strike twelve, Lou proffers himself to Mr. Death. Whatever services are needed, Lou will provide. Mr. Death remains impressed, “Mr. Bookman, you are a persuasive man.” But when midnight arrives, Mr. Death realizes he’s been had. He can’t take Maggie with him, but he reminds Lou they made a deal. Mr. Death can’t leave empty-handed. That’s acceptable to Lou. He grabs his sales bag, telling Mr. Death that he may need it “up there,” if that’s where he’s headed. Mr. Death responds, “Yes, up there. You made it.”

And that brings us to our familiar dimension, more predictable than the dimension of imagination, as described by Mr. Serling. It’s the one where we have our own ticking clock and the choices of what to do with it. Darryl Rhoades, seriously contemplating and seriously rocking, covers all that very well on The Last Goodbye.

Jeff Cochran

Jeff Cochran

Jeff Cochran worked in advertising at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for 27 years before accepting a buy-out in the Summer of 2008. In the seventies/early eighties, he handled advertising for Peaches Records and Tapes' Southeastern and Midwestern stores. He also wrote record reviews for The Great Speckled Bird, a ground-breaking underground newspaper based in Atlanta.

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Our church was named for Robert E. Lee — here is how we changed it http://likethedew.com/2018/01/18/our-church-was-named-for-robert-e-lee-here-is-how-we-changed-it/ http://likethedew.com/2018/01/18/our-church-was-named-for-robert-e-lee-here-is-how-we-changed-it/#comments Thu, 18 Jan 2018 13:44:31 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=68658
The R. E. Lee Memorial Episcopal Church in Lexington, VA, in Aug. 2017, prior to the name change to Grace Episcopal Church
The R. E. Lee Memorial Episcopal Church in Lexington, VA, in Aug. 2017,
prior to the name change to Grace Episcopal Church. (Creative Commons)

Confederate symbols in churches, especially Episcopal churches in Virginia and the National Cathedral in Washington, have followed a pattern of controversy parallel to, but distinct from, the civic battles over their removal from public spaces.

In Episcopal churches directly associated with Robert E. Lee, the controversy has been a deeply emotional, semiprivate clash of sensibilities, one side claiming to respect the sacredness of history and the other, the history of sacredness.

A bookplate with the coat of arms that was removed from St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Richmond, VA.
A bookplate with the coat of arms that was removed from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, VA. (Creative Commons)

It has been, under the surface, a re-litigating of Lee’s terms of surrender at Appomattox.

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in downtown Richmond is the church Lee and Confederate President Jefferson Davis attended during the Civil War. Five months after the mass shooting in a black church in Charleston, S.C., by a neo-Confederate in June 2015, St. Paul’s began removing images of the Confederate flag from kneelers, bookplates and plaques.

“This decision is completely asinine,” one reader commented online in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “These are monuments to the dead and have a deep and direct connection to the history of this building. Burning books and removing historical markers will not help you resolve your juvenile white guilt, self-hatred, or racism.”

The rector of St. Paul’s, the Rev. Wallace Adams-Riley, resigned on Sept. 15 amid speculation that the church’s embrace of Presiding Bishop Michael C. Curry’s call for racial reconciliation — wholeheartedly endorsed by Adams-Riley — had played a part. St. Paul’s own commitment to the national project is called the History and Reconciliation Initiative, which some felt was somehow behind Adams-Riley’s resignation. A statement from the vestry rebutted these rumors.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” the vestry said. “HRI is the most vibrant and energized project St. Paul’s has undertaken in many years. This work is a mandate of the Presiding Bishop and was Wallace’s gift to the church, and we intend to live it forward fully, without reservation.”

The interior of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Richmond, VA, in 2013
The interior of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, VA, in 2013. Photo by Ron Cogswell (Creative Commons)

Meanwhile, at Christ Church, in Alexandria, a 1773 Episcopal parish that claims George Washington and the Lee family as former worshippers, a relatively new rector was pushing for the removal of heavy memorial plaques to Lee and Washington on either side of the altar, both donated by parishioners after Lee’s death in 1870.

A plaque in memory of Robert E. Lee at Christ Church in Alexandria, Va., in 2013
A plaque in memory of Robert E. Lee at Christ Church in Alexandria, VA, in 2013. (Creative Commons)

The Rev. Noelle York-Simmons, suggesting the church needed to be “radically welcoming,” had run into resistance.

“The discussion about the appropriateness of the plaques in our worship space caused friction in our parish family,” read an Oct. 26 letter signed by York-Simmons and the vestry. “We understand that the discernment process has felt confusing and exclusive. We hope all parishioners will be more fully involved as we move forward.”

In Lexington, Va., the friction began for R.E. Lee Memorial Episcopal Church in 2015 after the Charleston shooting. A parishioner who teaches Shakespeare at Washington and Lee University next door wrote a letter to the rector, the Rev. Tom Crittenden, and the senior and junior wardens calling for a “frank, Christ-centered discussion about the name.”

Father Crittenden believed that compromise was possible, with enough love and forbearance. It turned out to be a far more difficult and costly belief than anyone imagined. But in the end, he was right.

I was on the vestry of the parish for all three years of the controversy. On Sept. 18, 2017, my final year, I voted with a bare majority 7-5 to change the name to Grace Episcopal Church.

To me, it felt like a miracle, considering how unbending the resistance had been since 2015 among some lay leaders and how empty the church’s youth program had become because of the alienation of younger families. The defense of Lee’s memorial name, which would have mortified Lee the traditional churchman, had become a gothic battlement against the shifting cultural winds.

The sign at R. E. Lee Memorial Episcopal Church in Lexington, VA.
The sign at R. E. Lee Memorial Episcopal Church in Lexington, VA. Photo by Michael Noirot (Creative Commons)

“Grace” seems the right word, a return to what it was called in the 19th century when Lee was senior warden after he joined the church in 1865. (“Memorial” was added after he died in 1870; it became R.E. Lee Memorial in 1903).

In 2015, Father Crittenden did not try to stop the issue at the church door. But neither did he push toward a foregone conclusion. He summoned a special vestry meeting. He helped organize house meetings and parish meetings for well-run discussions. Instead of a vote, there was a survey. Nearly a third of the congregation felt there was something wrong with the name, from a Christian perspective.

Despite all of this effort at dialogue – or maybe because of it – most members were unhappy with the process. Although the vestry had imposed a super-majority requirement on itself for such an upending change (falling one vote short, 9-6, in November that year), neither side felt that the vote settled anything. The church ended the year in a dark funk.

In the face of a fractured church that one vestry member compared to our national political discourse, the rector sought outside help that turned out to be based on radical peace-building techniques from the pacifist Mennonite branch of Christianity.

Cooperative by Design, LLC, is a consortium of “peacebuilding practitioners,” most of whom have connections with Eastern Mennonite University, an hour northeast of Lexington in Harrisonburg. Father Crittenden researched the group and, with the vestry’s approval, invited two of its consultants (one an Episcopal priest) to the vestry retreat in January 2016. Two things were memorable about their visit to that retreat: A technique of giving an individual the power to speak while others listened and secondly, the idea that conflict was not something to be “resolved” but was a kind of energy that could be used for “transformation.”

Such conflict-transformation was to come from recommendations by a group of six parishioners who would experience that transformation themselves. It would be expensive: The original contract was for up to $12,000, but the work took more time and effort than the consultants had planned on. In the end, Cooperative by Design submitted bills totaling more than $16,000.

The Rev. Tom Crittenden of Grace Episcopal Church in Lexington, Va.
The Rev. Tom Crittenden of Grace Episcopal Church in Lexington, Va. (Courtesy of Tom Crittenden)

It was hard, wrenching work for the six on the committee. They all said as much, although they were reluctant to speak as individuals about the experience. After nine months of two-hour meetings every two weeks, plus leading about a dozen focus groups with more than 100 parishioners, this “Discovery and Discernment Committee” formed a bond of confidentiality: No grandstanding. When the committee members submitted their final 15-page report in April, they seemed to me like castaways rescued from an island after a powerful common experience.

Father Crittenden was seeking healing and reconciliation, so he did not put a limit on where God might lead the committee. But even he did not expect the committee to come back with a recommendation to change the name, or that it would cost him his job. When they first came, the consultants had insisted that the name change was only a symptom, a “presenting” issue of conflict underneath. What the underlying issue or issues might be was anybody’s guess.

Robert E. Lee as symbol, a symbol generations of white Southerners invested with almost Christ-like qualities (as historian Emory M. Thomas has noted), has been hard on the rectors of Lee’s churches. The reason Father Crittenden resigned after it was all over is complicated, and in some ways, inexplicable. A steady, patient, gifted man, Father Crittenden announced his resignation after 10 years at R.E. Lee Memorial, and three and a half weeks after the name change.

In one of his last sermons, he called the D&D report our “John the Baptist moment.”

To many parishioners, it seems he was chewed up unfairly by the name-change controversy. He was faithful to a middle way, a way that worked beautifully for him in his previous parish in Tallahassee, Fla. There, his church flourished and weathered liberal-conservative battles over doctrine that had caused six other Episcopal churches to split or close down.

In the fullness of time, it was his middle way that changed the name from R.E. Lee to Grace. The Discovery and Discernment Committee had found “identity” as an underlying issue. The answer to that identity could not be a stark binary choice, dividing “winners” and “losers.” It had to be compromise. The committee’s recommendation was to restore the historical name of Grace, but also create a subcommittee “to honor Lee and the history of this parish in meaningful and significant ways.”

It took the vestry five months to accept that compromise, and even then, it was with a close, bitter vote. But the D&D committee’s recommendation became the map. No more argument was needed. Now a sign hangs out front for “Grace Episcopal Church, 1840,” and a history committee I chair, dominated by church members who opposed the name change, is discussing an interpretive sign for the front of the Parish Hall with brief sketches of famous people who worshipped in the church.

That would include Lee, of course, but also could include Jonathan Daniels, a former cadet at Virginia Military Institute who was martyred in Alabama in 1965 while helping register blacks to vote.

Father Crittenden’s farewell sermon was on All Saints Sunday. He said that he prays we will continue to implement the Discovery and Discernment Committee’s recommendations — “all of them,” he added. “Last April, the vestry ‘tabled’ some of the recommendations. People of God, we don’t, we can’t table the work of the Holy Spirit!”

Doug Cumming

Doug Cumming

Doug Cumming worked for newspapers and magazines in Raleigh, Providence and Atlanta for 26 years before getting a Ph.D. in mass communication at UNC-Chapel Hill in 2002. Since then, he has taught at Loyola University in New Orleans and Washington & Lee University, where he is now a tenured associate professor of journalism. His first book, "The Southern Press: Literary Legacies and the Challenge of Modernity," has been published by Northwestern University Press.

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Offshore drilling not needed, dangerous to coastline http://likethedew.com/2018/01/18/offshore-drilling-not-needed-dangerous-to-coastline/ http://likethedew.com/2018/01/18/offshore-drilling-not-needed-dangerous-to-coastline/#respond Thu, 18 Jan 2018 13:05:09 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=68652

For many years, the Center for a Sustainable Coast has aggressively opposed proposals to drill for oil and gas in the Atlantic Ocean along Georgia’s coast.

Now resurrected by the Trump Administration, offshore drilling comes at a time when global supplies of fossil fuels are glutted and the U.S. is exporting more oil and gas than ever before. Yet, employment by fossil fuels is less than the number of jobs created by the development of clean energy, primarily solar and wind power.

Contrary to claims made by ill-informed or biased politicians, much of America’s offshore production of oil and gas — if it ever happens — will be destined for foreign markets. Therefore, such resources are not for “American energy independence” but rather intended to serve the profit motives of massive fossil-fuel corporations.

This means that coastal Georgia’s thriving tourism and outdoor recreation economy – worth about $2 billion annually and supporting some 40,000 jobs — would be jeopardized just to enable oil and gas companies to squeeze more profits by exploiting offshore reserves.

These reckless offshore activities, concurrent with rollbacks in regulated safety measures, would impose unacceptable risk to beaches, marshes, wildlife, and barrier islands. One only needs to recall the 2010 BP oil spill to conjure horrifying images that we must do everything possible to prevent occurring on Georgia’s coast.

Moreover, offshore oil and gas development along our shoreline would raise the specter of unprecedented industrialization of Georgia’s coast. Any such outcome would severely degrade our region’s quality-of-life and world-renowned natural environment. Allowing risky exploration and extraction of these resources is simply not in the interest of Georgia’s citizens and taxpayers.

Furthermore, demand for fossil fuels is projected to be declining, as many nations are actively developing electric vehicles. Additionally, many cities, including Atlanta, have adopted plans to eliminate the use of fossil fuels to reduce emission of climate-warming greenhouse gases. By the time any nearby offshore fossil fuels would be available — if they ever are — there would be greatly reduced need for these resources. It would be far more strategic to keep oil and gas in the ground for future use, if ever needed.

Accordingly, we encourage coastal Georgians to join us in actively opposing offshore drilling. We are submitting written comments to federal officials, explaining our well-reasoned, ample justifications for defeating the proposal in the public interest.

David Kyler

David Kyler

Executive Director at Center for a Sustainable Coast.

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Walking Tall http://likethedew.com/2018/01/06/walking-tall/ http://likethedew.com/2018/01/06/walking-tall/#respond Sat, 06 Jan 2018 19:22:48 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=68551 Walking Tall was on television while I was trapped inside during the initial days of 2018. Not the lame PG version starring The Rock but the original gritty 1973 offering with Joe Don Baker in the title role. That movie was loosely based on former Tennessee Sheriff Buford Pusser. A big stick and some locals claim, a glossing over of the truth, permeated the Hollywood version. America was just coming to grips with horrible liberal ideas like racial equality, respect for working women, and fair treatment to accused perpetrators...]]>

Joe Don Baker as Buford Pusser in Walking Tall 1973.jpg

Walking Tall was on television while I was trapped inside during the initial days of 2018. Not the lame PG version starring The Rock but the original gritty 1973 offering with Joe Don Baker in the title role.

That movie was loosely based on former Tennessee Sheriff Buford Pusser. A big stick and some locals claim, a glossing over of the truth, permeated the Hollywood version. America was just coming to grips with horrible liberal ideas like racial equality, respect for working women, and fair treatment to accused perpetrators. Miranda Rights were more likely a movie sub plot than an actual practice, especially in the South.

Death Wish, the Dirty Harry series, The Choirboys were all cop movies taking a political stance. Police Brutality was a new concept and America was still terribly divided by the Viet Nam War.

Movies about heroic law officers valiantly fighting mafia connected criminals while liberal courts, the media, and pantywaist citizens restricted their efforts were as popular as father/son movies where neither understood the other.

Right in the midst of this came Walking Tall, the inspirational story of a Tennessee sheriff that gained fame for cleaning up McNairy County Tennessee. Joe Don Baker was perfect as Pusser and the movie was typical of Seventies grit, a newfound relish for violence, and political messaging.

I never saw the whole movie. Saw bits and pieces in later years as it entered rerun status. I decided against donating my money to the cause after I figured out what the message would be, especially after a series of ads ran on local am radio just before the movie premiered in Tuscaloosa.

The spot featured the local owner of the theater chain enthusiastically endorsing this movie. He said Walking Tall represented what was right with America in those fractured times, and urged parents to take the kids, even though it featured an “R” rating. But the rating was for violence, not sex.

I’ll never forget that last line. It remains the most memorable thing about Walking Tall for me. Walking Tall offered the kids a lengthy ambush of Pusser and his wife that rivaled the ending of Bonnie and Clyde. It featured the local sheriff enforcing his rules with a giant stick capable of splitting heads open with one swing. And all this was deemed okay because the future of America was at stake.

Sam Peckinpaugh was credited with ushering graphic violence into American theaters with The Wild Bunch. Slow motion gore with blood and flesh flying became a mainstay in movies. So did the obligatory sex scene, or at least a shot of a naked woman about an hour in.

True to our Puritan roots, we Americans had much more of an issue with the nudity and promiscuous sex than we did the extreme violence. To this day we are unchanged. I’m not enough of an expert to claim this has some influence on our society. But we do live in a time where violence, real and make believe, is mostly ignored, while we treat sex like a bunch of junior high kids.

Someone more educated than me must read the signs and decide if this is significant.

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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Man Of Peace http://likethedew.com/2017/12/29/man-of-peace/ http://likethedew.com/2017/12/29/man-of-peace/#comments Fri, 29 Dec 2017 22:35:29 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=67698

Man Of Peace by Bob DylanLook out your window, baby, there’s a scene you’d like to catch
The band is playing “Dixie,” a man got his hand outstretched
Could be the fuhrer
Could be the local priest
You know sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace

“Man of Peace” Bob Dylan, 1983

Saturday, August 12, 2017. Another lazy, muggy morning in Northeast Georgia. On my way back to Atlanta. A Chevrolet pick-up, vintage mid ’70s, just ahead, is plodding along even slower than my car. As I pass the truck, I can’t help but read a sticker stretching across the back of the cab. In all caps, the sticker proclaims, “JESUS PAID THE PRICE.” The driver expresses his gratitude to a loving Jesus Christ, but on the truck’s rear window are two Confederate flag stickers. Really, that’s no surprise in rural Georgia. Many in the hinterlands of Georgia wear their religion on their sleeves. The same goes for their political and social views, no matter how hateful and contradictory their politics are to the message of the Man who paid the price.

80% of the voters in the congressional district along that stretch of 365 voted for Donald Trump in November 2016. The remaining 20% there must shiver and quake, or at least keep their political opinions to themselves, just as part-time residents like I do, unless kindred souls are around. Besides, I go up there to do the chores, push a mower across an acre or two, and when finished, enjoy the quiet, with Hank Williams singing his lonesome blues on the CD player inside. Just rock to the music on the porch; don’t rock the boat.

Arriving back home, where our local precinct went for Hillary Clinton by numbers approaching 90%, I stop in front of the TV with the ubiquitous CNN on, bringing news of violence at a White Nationalists rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Counter-protestors showed up to shout down the racists. Charlottesville, like my community, is a liberal enclave, where voters chose Clinton by a wide margin. And so Charlottesville is invaded by riffraff with their Confederate and Nazi flags, spewing hatred and getting physical with those who say this sort of behavior isn’t welcome here. But they would hear nothing like that. Scout Finch wouldn’t be able to shame these 21st Century Bob Ewells. Instead, it’s America that’s shamed.

Already the United States of America had just gone through its most tense week since 9/11. The President of the United States, the aforementioned Donald Trump, had spent the past several days sabre-rattling, shaking up the world with his talk of nuclear war with North Korea. Trump, who never recovered from a severe case of arrested development before entering grade school, was stepping across the line that former presidents would never approach, at least not publicly. But these are very different days. Trump makes them so. Like the rabble gathered in Charlottesville, 62,984,825 U.S. citizens, so distressed by eight years of the nation’s first black president, decided they must take their country back. As if this was Romania in the early ’90s. The hard-core Trumpers want to take their country back alright, way back to the 1850s, when the Barack Obamas of the world were kept in their place, shackled and chained when necessary.

Could Be The Fuhrer …  With his campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” Trump was widely thought to be harking back to the 1950s, not one hundred years prior, when James Buchanan was president. The shackles and chains of the 1950s were the Jim Crow laws, which were coming to an end, but still there was enough legally-enforced segregation for many Trumpers to look at that decade as the last golden age for America. Trump didn’t have to say it, his messages and the company he kept more than implied it. Always the salesman, he could persuade moderate Republicans (known to exist here and there) he wanted to be president for all Americans. Never mind such company as Steve Bannon, friend to hate-mongers. As with Satan in Bob Dylan’s song, “Man of Peace,” Trump’s “got a sweet gift of gab” and “a harmonious tongue.” He knows “every song of love that ever has been sung.” Or at least Trump thinks he does.

Written in 1983, the same year Trump Tower opened in Midtown Manhattan, “Man of Peace” has Satan swaggering through your door. He lays on the BS, with compliments and accolades flowing freely. If he thinks your cause is worthy of his support; he’ll write out a check here and now. Dylan’s Satan is endowed with all the blustering characteristics easily associated with Trump.

He’s a great humanitarian, he’s a great philanthropist
He knows just where to touch you, honey, and how you like to be kissed
He’ll put both his arms around you
You can feel the tender touch of the beast
You know that sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace

Though “Man of Peace” wasn’t included in Dylan’s trilogy of Christian albums, its imagery is straight from the New Testement. In verses 13 and 14, chapter 11 of Second Corinthians, the Apostle Paul is bemoaning — some 2000 years before televangelism — those who exploit the Gospel for their own material gain.

(13) For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
(14)And no marvel: for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

The false apostles of the modern age, namely televangelists, exploit their followers, begging for money to maintain their lives of luxury. Historically, the TV con-artists hawking the “prosperity gospel” and other perversions of the Christian message have gained their largest following in the 15 so-called Sun Belt states, 13 of which went for Trump. Desperate viewers are desperate voters. And as Stephen Stills wrote, though with a different scenario in mind, “Paranoia runs deep, into your life it will creep.” Paranoid and resentful, millions of Americans, thinking they’ve lost their shot at the American dream due to the advancement of minorities and a more liberal social order, believed they could make America great again. That’ll show those college-educated seculars. So they vote for an ill-tempered lout whose personal behavior exceeds the worst examples they ever heard about in Sunday School. Many of them, supposedly committed to the tenets of fundamentalist Christianity, are also the ones most devoted to President Trump. They ignore the 5th chapter of Matthew and other parts of the four Gospels in which Christ made plain his love for humanity. The Fundamentalists rally behind Trump’s hateful remarks about Mexicans who come to work in this country. They cheer on his administration’s moves to weaken environmental regulations which protect the air and water, all part of the world they believe God created in six days. Just as they sacrifice their hard-earned money for cheats like Pat Robertson and Joel Osteen, they set their brains free for Donald Trump. And they think Trump gives them their money’s worth even if they realize Trump’s lifestyle more resembles the late Hugh Hefner’s than their own. But that doesn’t matter. Just like Satan, Trump knows just where to touch them. Trump knows full well many exurban and rural church-goers are uncomfortable socializing with black Americans, sending their kids to school with black kids and, much less, supporting a health care law that supports black people too. Face it, a vast amount of support for Trump is rooted in prejudice toward African-Americans. Trump’s presidency, as was his campaign, is a hate-thy-neighbor enterprise. He knows they understand why David Duke, formerly a KKK Imperial Wizard, and still an extreme white nationalist, supports him.

I Can Smell Something Cooking … Yet the notion of some Christians proclaiming a love-centered faith while supporting a political movement attracting Neo-Nazis and Klansmen ultimately offends leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), a denomination founded for the convenience of slaveholders. Over the last quarter century, Southern Baptist leaders have at last gained a sense of decency regarding race relations. The SBC was compelled to speak out on what was happening in the homeland. For their annual meeting in Phoenix last summer, wording for a resolution condemning white supremacy and the alt-right was proffered by Dwight McKissic, a Texas pastor who happens to be black. McKissick’s verbiage was tough, but right on the money:

“there has arisen in the United States a growing menace to political order and justice that seeks to reignite social animosities, reverse improvements in race relations, divide our people, and foment hatred, classicism, and ethnic cleansing.”

McKissick’s resolution went on to denounce the “toxic menace” that is white nationalism, the alt-right and their “totalitarian impulses, xenophobic biases, and bigoted ideologies that infect the minds and actions of its violent disciples.” It all sounded reasonable enough but it had to get through a committee hesitant to offend any Southern Baptists who might share the alt-right’s worldview. After all, 81% of white evangelicals, a good share of them Southern Baptists, voted for Trump. Not wanting to create a schism within the Church, especially among politically conservative white members, the resolution failed to get through the committee. Those white conservatives didn’t want their church knocking even the most vile Trumpers — and besides, the denomination, in their opinion, had done enough placating to the liberal crowd. In 1995, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) finally apologized for its advocacy of slavery (remorse coming a century and a half too late). Then in 2015, the SBC called for racial reconcilation, and the next year called on “brothers and sisters in Christ to discontinue the display of the Confederate battle flag as a sign of solidarity of the whole body of Christ, including our African American brothers and sisters.”

Perhaps the words solidarity and reconciliation weighed heavily on the hearts of many SBC leaders and church messengers as they gave more thought to McKissick’s resolution against white supremacy. So later the same day, the resolution was reconsidered and affirmed by the committee. Approval by the SBC, unaminous even, came the next day.

The Tender Touch Of The Beast … Even while SBC members can feel proud of what would have been truly courageous — or in some Baptist circles as truly blasphemous — three and four decades earlier, they still have renegade reverends like Franklin Graham, hustling the Word in his Man of Peace disguise. All the while, Graham blames Satan for the confusion he himself creates. Consider the explanation of Trump’s election victory he offered to Emma Green of The Atlantic.

“He did everything wrong, politically,” Graham told me. “He offended gays. He offended women. He offended the military. He offended black people. He offended the Hispanic people. He offended everybody! And he became president of the United States. Only God could do that.” Now, there’s “no question” that God is supporting Trump, Graham said. “No president in my lifetime — I’m 64 years old — can I remember … speaking about God as much as Donald Trump does.”

So there you have it, Franklin Graham knows that God supports the Trump administration. Did God tell him that or did Trump tell Graham of a conversation he had with God? Whatever, knowing that God is on Trump’s side, Graham, on August 13, posted a defense of Trump on Facebook, without mentioning the death of Heather Heyer, run down by a white supremacist at the Charlottesville protest. Why grieve for an innocent woman when Trump’s legacy is at risk?

Shame on the politicians who are trying to push blame on President Trump for what happened in Charlottesville, VA. That’s absurd. What about the politicians such as the city council who voted to remove a memorial that had been in place since 1924, regardless of the possible repercussions? How about the city politicians who issued the permit for the lawful demonstration to defend the statue? And why didn’t the mayor or the governor see that a powder keg was about to explode and stop it before it got started? Instead they want to blame President Donald Trump for everything. Really, this boils down to evil in people’s hearts. Satan is behind it all. He wants division, he wants unrest, he wants violence and hatred. He’s the enemy of peace and unity. I denounce bigotry and racism of every form, be it black, white or any other. My prayer is that our nation will come together. We are stronger together, and our answers lie in turning to God. It was good to hear that several Virginia and Charlottesville leaders attended church today at Mt. Zion. CNN said, “The racial divides that fueled Saturday’s violence were replaced by unity Sunday…” Continue to pray for peace and for all those impacted by Saturday’s tragedies.

Graham puts the blame on Satan, but comes to the defense of President Trump, whose verbal tirades seem influenced by the Man of Peace. Guided by hubris, Graham conveniently overlooks the entanglements his father, the great evangelist Billy Graham, created by getting too cozy with President Nixon, especially in the wake of Watergate. Basking in the glow as friend and advisor in the Oval Office, he wallowed in Nixonian depths, hooked by the president’s obsession over Jewish domination of the media. The reverend jumped right in, telling Nixon, “This stranglehold’s got to be broken or the country’s going down the drain.” Graham went from Nixon’s spiritual advisor and friend to sycophant, allowing the president to vent his paranoia and bigotry. Serving Nixon proved a disservice to Graham’s ministry and to his own image, so carefully crafted. The fallout from the Graham-Nixon relationship would last for decades, peaking in 2002 when the Nixon White House tape of his shameful comments was released by the National Archives.

Stung by Watergate and sordid revelations of Nixon’s character, Billy finally learned his lesson and from then on served as “Pastor to the Presidents” more privately. The humble approach better-served his ministry. But a new wave of Bible-thumping, politically-minded, and acquisitive preachers, like the televangelists, took a different approach. Humility was for losers. They would serve the Lord wearing the finest clothes and jewelry while driving their luxurious cars to and from their sprawling homes. They’d connect with their followers by offering a dash of Jesus, some right-wing politics, and a story of starving souls in Third World countries that viewers could help by sending contributions to their TV ministries.

As Dylan points out:

Good intentions can be evil
Both hands can be full of grease
You know that sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace

Franklin Graham works the good-intentions circuit. In the mid-70s, he joined the world relief organization, Samaritan’s Purse. Founded by Bob Pierce, who also founded World Vision in 1950, Samaritan’s Purse has done laudable work providing humanitarian aid to people in over 100 countries. In the last few months, they’ve been working in Texas, Florida and the Carribean after the devastation of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. As the organization’s website declares, “Whether in the United States or abroad, we come alongside hurting people to bring emergency relief aand practical help in the Name of Jesus Christ.” Nothing wrong with that. But Franklin Graham, who as president and C.E.O. of Samaritan’s Purse since 1979, has not only “come alongside hurting people,” he’s also made time to hurt people. People like the members of the Islamic faith. In 2010, he was quoted in Time magazine as calling Islam “a religion of hatred. It’s a religion of war.” The next year, in comments to CNN‘s John King, he seemed to cast doubts on President Barack Obama’s Christian faith: “Now it’s obvious that the president has renounced the prophet Mohammed, and he has renounced Islam, and he has accepted Jesus Christ. That’s what he says he has done. So I just have to believe the president is what he has said.”

Playing to the Psycho-Baptist wing of American Evangelicalism, Graham knows his audience well. They’re the type of people who root against the Trapp Family when watching The Sound of Music with their kids. Graham, so unlike his father, who worked to build bridges with those of other faiths, goes after the other. Whatever the other may be at the time, like Hinduism. He wows the Psycho-Baptists, observing that “no elephant with 100 arms can do anything for me. None of their 9000 gods is going to lead me to salvation.”

There’s Going To Be A Feast … Graham is certain of his salvation and he’s certain of colossal paydays. As CEO of Samaritan’s Purse, his earnings from 2009 through 2013 totaled $2,599,658.00. As CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), his other full-time gig, his earnings from the same period exceeded $500,000.00. There was also another $97,000.00 he made with BGEA and related organizations. Nice work if you can get it. That is if you can get away with convincing two major employers you’re a fully-engaged full-time CEO. The Charlotte Observer reported Graham’s 2013 compensation from Samaritan’s Purse alone made him the highest-paid CEO of any international relief agency based in the U.S. The Observer went on to report Graham made more with Samaritan’s Purse in the fiscal year ending in June 2014 than the $597,000 earned by Gail McGovern, CEO of the American Red Cross, even though its budget was seven times larger than Samaritan’s Purse’s.

While preaching for the BGEA, Franklin Graham appears genuine as he describes the suffering of those living in poverty-stricken countries. Obviously, he’s moved by the starvation and lack of hope. That’s to his credit. He decries the human-trafficking and its attendant exploitation by rich businessmen, but to retain the interest and cash donations of his fawning fundamentalists, he delivers fire and brimstone against secularism in the USA. Graham and his bitter zealots long for the days in which Christians could dominate public school classrooms: Make the kid participate in prayer and Bible study or send him out in the hall with the other heathens. Secularism and Communism are the same thing,” Graham bellows from the pulpit, setting aside his TV anchorman bearing as he calls on Christians to become politically-involved.

The Psycho-Baptists, dreaming the United States will become a theocracy, abandon the spirit of love and mercy Jesus shared in his three-year ministry some 2,000 years ago. “Love thy neighbor as thyself”* is so old hat when it’s deemed imperative to keep Muslims out of the country. Or when putting the clamp down on Mexicans and Central Americans, be they striving to work on America’s farms, or children escaping violence in their own nations. They disregard Jesus’s admonition that “all who draw the sword will die by the sword.”** The Psycho-Baptists instead support taking their guns to church and stockpiling the ammo. They shuck off their vestiges of decency in public discourse and social interaction to support a presidential candidate whose meetings with women could easily turn into a fondling festival. That candidate becomes president and their support of one Donald Trump calls for embracing lies while easily forgetting “the truth shall set you free.”*** The debauchery Travis Bickle lamented in Taxi Driver is a Sunday School picnic compared to the low ebb that Trump, Graham and the Psycho-Baptists have delivered to our country.

The seventh verse of “Man of Peace” captures the fear, the loathing, and the downright insecurities of the Trump era:

Well, the howling wolf will howl tonight, the king snake will crawl,
Trees that stood for a thousand years suddenly will fall.
Wanna get married? Do it now.
Tomorrow all activity will cease
You know, that sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace.

With guitarists Mark Knopfler and Mick Taylor joining in, “Man of Peace” swings. It’s a straight-ahead, mid-tempo rocker that keeps chugging along. “Man of Peace” was the first studio recording by Dylan to feature four instrumental breaks. Knopfler takes a guitar solo, Taylor takes a couple, then Dylan comes in with a harmonica solo. One comes away from listening to the song noting that Dylan’s message is serious but that doesn’t keep him from making the music lively and entertaining. After all, Dylan says Satan is in the background first and “then he’s in the front,” with “both eyes looking like they’re on a rabbit hunt.” So you better stay lively.

The Man of Peace is far slicker than any televangelist and most convincing to those who want their own biases confirmed. That’s where a guy like Franklin Graham slips in, as with his support of defeated Alabama Senate candidate, Roy Moore, an alleged child-molester. The Roy Moore who scouted young talent in shopping malls when he was in his 30s. Think of Jethro Bodine stalking the Brady Bunch girls. It’s the same Roy Moore who voiced support for a constitutional amendment voiding constitutional amendments 11 through 27. That would mean no voting rights for women, black Americans, or citizens of 18 years old. And oh yes, Moore’s constitutional designs could legally entail the return of slavery. The pistol-packin’ “Ayatollah of Alabama” argues that God is the “sovereign source of our law.” But that’s all Ten Commandments law; forget the Beatitudes. One would think this might concern the son of Billy Graham, but no…..

Franklin Graham also looks askance at even the slightest type of gun control laws, such as keeping it difficult to purchase silencers. That — in the wake of the Las Vegas massacre. Or, as covered earlier, when he showed his support for the policies of President Trump after the violence in Charlottesville, even as the alt-right’s enmity and violence that invaded the town walked hand-in-hand with the Trump philosophy.

Writing in the Huffington Post, Derek Penwell called Franklin Graham “the worst thing to happen to God in a while.” No kidding. Graham, by association, has God’s Son on the side of gun-totin’ bigots who revere Jefferson Davis and accept even the most ludicrous lies about Barack Obama. Satan can take it easy for awhile. The Man of Peace is getting plenty of help from Franklin Graham.

 

*Matthew 22:39

**Matthew 26:52

***John 8:32

Jeff Cochran

Jeff Cochran

Jeff Cochran worked in advertising at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for 27 years before accepting a buy-out in the Summer of 2008. In the seventies/early eighties, he handled advertising for Peaches Records and Tapes' Southeastern and Midwestern stores. He also wrote record reviews for The Great Speckled Bird, a ground-breaking underground newspaper based in Atlanta.

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No Is Not Enough by Naomi Klein http://likethedew.com/2017/12/29/no-is-not-enough-by-naomi-klein/ http://likethedew.com/2017/12/29/no-is-not-enough-by-naomi-klein/#respond Fri, 29 Dec 2017 16:15:39 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=68519 No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump's Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need Naomi Klein refers back to another of her books, No Logo, to talk about Trump's early recognition of the business idea to – instead of selling products, objects, sell his brand. His outrageous behavior got him attention and that helped build the Trump brand. Marketing the brand brought him millions and, the cherry on top, the presidency – where he continues his same outsized strategy.]]>

Editorial cartoon by Tom Ferguson of Uncle Sam holding the door of a man fat with money - Uncle Sam says, "Door's always open to you, sir."

In No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need Naomi Klein refers back to another of her books, No Logo, to talk about Trump’s early recognition of the business idea to – instead of selling products, objects, sell his brand. His outrageous behavior got him attention and that helped build the Trump brand. Marketing the brand brought him millions and, the cherry on top, the presidency – where he continues his same outsized strategy.

He didn’t have to pursue far right values but those values seem to accompany an all-that-matters-is-money logic. Given the stories about his refusing to pay contractors, coming out on top of deals with little regard for ethics or fairness, bankruptcies, it is quite astonishing that voters would expect him to suddenly display benevolent behavior toward them. He railed against the loss of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. but his brands were all outsourced.

The recent tax bill is another instance of blatant betrayal. Another consequence of and motivation for this bill is that increasing the national debt makes the kind of social programs the Right disapproves of unaffordable. I suppose you have to factor in the alienation – the anti-establishment to-hell-with-it attitude of frustrated working people feeling financial vulnerability bearing down on them without a clear idea that it’s coming from predatory capitalism.

Then there’s the Fox News factor. Who was it said when a Faux News figure moved to work for the Bush Administration, “The merger of the Republican party with Fox News is now complete.” The anomie is shifted, with the help of these unscrupulous zealots, to immigrants, minorities, liberals or some other scapegoat. The “smart” con man worked this field with impressive results.

Klein also references her important book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism to warn that the agenda now being pursued works best under cover of some crisis. They’re going full bore but the resistance is always easier to overcome when some dramatic smokescreen is available. The Patriot Act was rammed through congress with hardly a dissenting voice in the aftermath of the 911 crisis, a bill that gave the executive branch grave undemocratic powers.

The author hopefully postulates that it is harder to use the shock doctrine, or crisis capitalism, when the population has already been shaken down. For example, Klein suggests that the right wing Spanish government attempted to use a bombing in a Madrid subway to herd the population toward its agenda but that attempt backfired because the populace had already been manipulated by the right so often that they could see it coming, promptly throwing that government out of office, and pulling Spanish troops out of Iraq.

Other examples are given to encourage U.S. citizens to be prepared for the likelihood that Trump will create or use any crisis that might arise to advance those parts of his agenda that ordinarily would be strongly resisted. Like rolling back social security, something the right resisted at its creation and has been yearning to repeal ever since.

Although nuclear war, accidental or not, and over-population are very real threats to our civilization, the most urgent in Klein’s view is climate change. It is disheartening in the extreme then to consider Trump’s appointments to cabinet positions, climate deniers one and all. Rex Tillerson of Exxon, Secretary of State? Jeff Sessions, known racist, Attorney General? Scott Pruitt, EPA Administrator, known for his cosy relations with fossil fuels industry? Rick Perry, Energy Secretary, the guy whose position, during the presidential campaign, was that the department should be eliminated? Goldman Sacks in all things financial? The fox in the hen house, as the saying goes.

And there are those deluded souls who believe that they can turn a profit from war. War also is one of those crises behind which much profitable mischief can be carried out. It provides a nice distraction. Clinton attempted to deflect attention away from his, ah, problems, by bombing a pharmaceutical plant in Africa, pretending it was a bomb plant. Bush/Cheney were under investigation for insider trading when “patriotism” required disappearance of such investigation when the good ol’ boys invaded Iraq. Hopefully we have been conned enough to meet the next one with an effective skepticism.

Naomi suggests that the aesthetics of branding is Dynasty-meets-Louis XIV…. gold and flash. Trump’s brand is the ultimate boss who can do whatever he wants, as exampled by his own boasting about grabbing whoever he wants wherever he wants. What might have been scandalous in the pre-branding era, is now just proof of being a “winner” in the power/wealth game. Someone gets stepped on? More proof. Being entirely amoral, he thinks he can get away with anything. Being president is the ultimate branding tool. Mar-a-lago has doubled its membership fees to $200,000. The president meets there with world leaders. His children meet with them and cut deals. So the presidency and U.S. government are now a for-profit family business. Where can the ego go from here?

Reagan began de-regulation with a vengeance, Clinton, Bush and Obama enabled it further. Klein notes that this is a wholesale disparaging of the public sphere. Deregulation was like fertilizer for Trump and he is pushing it, if we-the-public let him, to where it will be irreversible.

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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When Holding Your Nose is not Enough http://likethedew.com/2017/12/26/when-holding-your-nose-is-not-enough/ http://likethedew.com/2017/12/26/when-holding-your-nose-is-not-enough/#comments Tue, 26 Dec 2017 20:15:45 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=68513

 

My new friend Dr. Jim Vickery is completing the final edit on a book about the old B-movie Western films. A tome to which I made an infinitesimal contribution. Unfortunately, I neglected to add my most unusual picture-show story; I still don’t understand how I could have forgotten such a warm, abiding memory.

It transpired thusly:

When I was growing up on the Fairfax (Alabama) Mill Village, there was family living several houses down from us on Combs Street. The family consisted of a red-haired mother and father and a houseful of red-headed young’uns. They ranged from Hoyt, the oldest, three years my senior, to several children my age and younger.

Hoyt, a roly-poly lad, was about as big around as he was tall and freckled as a butterbean; but his appearance was not Hoyt’s most striking characteristic. No, Hoyt’s feet set him apart from mere mortals: specifically, he had the most awful-smelling feet on the North American Continent, if not the entire Milky Way Galaxy. Lethal. But, he was a cheerful, happy-go-lucky sort, who ignored the insults and jibes about his stinking feet.

However, Hoyt, not dumb by a long shot, but in fact, pretty clever – or at least possessing a low-animal cunning, used his odiferous feet to good advantage. When the Combs Street gang went to the picture show, almost daily, we walked in a boisterous herd and usually sat in a rowdy group.

But, if we didn’t leave soon enough and the theater was full, there would not be enough empty seats for us to sit together. The village picture show was really popular back in the pre-TV, computer and cellular-phone days.

No Problem. Hoyt, used to making do, would scan the theater until he spotted a vacant seat. Then he would quickly sit down, remove his shoes and shocks, and crossing his legs yoga fashion, shake his feet and wiggle his toes to unleash the full poisonous power of his reeking feet on those seated near him.

Naturally, people. gagging, eyes watering, and cursing the vile fumes, fled from Hoyt’s pungent feet. Whereupon, Hoyt, grinning, would stand victoriously and wave us all down from where we were waiting at the back of the picture show. After we we were all seated, Hoyt would put on his shoes and socks. If he hadn’t we couldn’t have sat that near him.

It never failed. I knew I would have a seat if Hoyt was along to work his never-failing magic, which was nothing less than a satanic, natural, overpowering mojo.

Hoyt dropped out of school at 17 and joined the Army. He served 20 years. I’m sure he started washing his feet. Otherwise, the other recruits couldn’t have slept in the barracks with Hoyt if he pulled off his boots and socks.

And I’m sure it would have violated the Geneva Convention to force a soldier to share a foxhole with Hoyt. The Geneva, Alabama, convention if not the more famous agreement.

I used to tell my buddies that Army Intelligence could use Hoyt to make captured war prisoners spill all their secrets. All they would have to do is sit the hapless enemy down handcuffed and shackled with a barefooted Hoyt seated before them wiggling his naked toes in their face. No human alive could tolerate that torture.

Dat boy’s foots wuz deadly! In the vernacular of the old days, “They could knock a hungry buzzard off a gut wagon.”

(Actually, I shouldn’t be making fun of Hoyt. After he retired from the Army, he moved back to the Valley with his fast-talking Yankee wife; who, while possibly. lacking a sense of smell, evidently, didn’t cotton to cotton-mill villages. She soon deserted Hoyt and lit out for the territories.

Not long afterward, Hoyt committed suicide by shooting himself with a gun, according to reports. But, I really don’t know if he shot himself with a firearm, or accidentally got a deadly whiff of his own feet. Either weapon would do the trick.)

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