LikeTheDew.com https://likethedew.com A journal of progressive Southern culture and politics Mon, 13 Jan 2020 17:02:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.2 https://likethedew.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/cropped-DewLogoSquare825-32x32.png LikeTheDew.com https://likethedew.com 32 32 LikeTheDew.com http://likethedew.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/dew3_mh4feed.png https://likethedew.com 88 31 A journal of progressive Southern culture and politics 110899633 Breaking the Spell of a Death Cult https://likethedew.com/2020/01/13/breaking-the-spell-of-a-death-cult/ https://likethedew.com/2020/01/13/breaking-the-spell-of-a-death-cult/#respond Mon, 13 Jan 2020 14:39:56 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=72823

“People will go to seed on anything” was my grandfather Elmer Hickman’s favorite comment on humanity. If you have never raised a garden then the old fashioned metaphor might be lost, but the adage is an observation - and a caution - that people can turn anything positive, useful, rewarding, and/or healthy into its opposite. For the most part obsession is basically harmless or at worst annoying. However the tendency can be destructive. As guns tend to be for a certain demographic. To be sure, hunting can be an entertaining and healthy hobby. And firearms definitely offer individuals working in some high risk jobs a useful measure of physical safety. Yet for some, guns are clearly fetish objects.

Foodies can be indulged because they often know where the best restaurants are. Car buffs can be forgiven their love for particular makes, models and years because their obsessions remain aesthetic. Even UFO nuts are at least momentarily amusing. Gun fetishists are different because they invest dangerous objects with irrational philosophic and political meanings. In the most extreme cases guns are their personal and political identities.

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“People will go to seed on anything” was my grandfather Elmer Hickman’s favorite comment on humanity. If you have never raised a garden then the old fashioned metaphor might be lost, but the adage is an observation – and a caution – that people can turn anything positive, useful, rewarding, and/or healthy into its opposite. For the most part obsession is basically harmless or at worst annoying. However the tendency can be destructive. As guns tend to be for a certain demographic. To be sure, hunting can be an entertaining and healthy hobby. And firearms definitely offer individuals working in some high risk jobs a useful measure of physical safety. Yet for some, guns are clearly fetish objects.

Foodies can be indulged because they often know where the best restaurants are. Car buffs can be forgiven their love for particular makes, models and years because their obsessions remain aesthetic. Even UFO nuts are at least momentarily amusing. Gun fetishists are different because they invest dangerous objects with irrational philosophic and political meanings. In the most extreme cases guns are their personal and political identities.

Chances are that you have met them. Rather than a proper focus on family and work, gun fetishists build little arsenals. Instead of civic engagement with the range of real problems fellow Americans face, like the forever war in the Middle East, climate change, foreign interference in our elections and pharmaceutical price gouging, gun fetishists spin fantasies about ‘gun grabbing’ Federal government and liberal elected officials intent on imposing dictatorship.  In their minds, the millions of non-military firearms owned by civilians are invested with the magical ability to defeat, and therefore deter, totalitarian conspirators. That a U.S. Army infantry unit would slice through a mob of armed civilians playing soldier like a hot knife through butter simply has not occurred to them.  That few of those who bellow such beliefs about gun ownership would actually muster in such a mob goes without saying.

To be a gun fetishist is generally to be ignorant of recent popular revolutions against dictatorships. Where recent revolutions have succeeded in replacing dictatorship with democracy, the revolutionaries have been unarmed. Communist regimes collapsed across Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union in 1989 and 1990 because governments because activists armed themselves with words rather than weapons. Non-violent revolutions have the best chance of producing democracies. Violent revolutions tend to result in new dictatorships, civil war or anarchy.  Compare today’s peaceful and democratic Czech Republic with today’s strife torn Libya. Anyone committed to liberty and democracy ought to be committed to defending First Amendment freedom of speech, press and assembly. Yet unless it involves de-platforming conservative speakers on university campuses, gun fetishists are more likely to condemning “fake news” or joking about running over protesters who dare to block traffic. They don’t care much about freedom unless it manifests in the shape of a gun.

Gun fetishists generally don’t compare the United States with other countries if they can avoid doing so. The America they have helped to saturate with guns presents embarrassingly high firearm murder rates compared with other wealthy democracies. That culturally similar Australia and New Zealand have reduced gun crime by reducing own ownership is tabooed truth.

Among the greatest conceits of gun rights absolutists is the idea that their beliefs are motivated by rational calculation of risk and/or reasoned defense of constitutional principle. The problem is they themselves have an unmistakable demographic profile. Gun ownership in the hands of a small fraction of the population, concentrated among older white men living in the South and Midwest. Some 50% of all guns in America, some 133 million firearms, are owned by just 3% of the population (theguardian.com). A majority of American individuals and American households are gun free. The reality is that gun fetishism is largely motivated by fear and resentment of racial and ethnic minorities and by unacknowledged perceptions of reduced social status.

Notably, gun fetishism tends to be a demographically Evangelical Protestant phenomenon. Unlike many religious traditions that offer scope for adherents to invest objects and places with special meaning, Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Sufism and Theravada Buddhism are examples, Evangelical Protestantism is bereft of such focuses of attention.  So for the sort of Evangelical Protestant who attends services only at Easter and Christmas to please family members, guns may be metaphysical substitutes. Which points the way toward something helpful that families and friends worried about the individuals in their lives who have “gone to seed” about guns can do. If the unrecognized desire is for physical objects or places to invest with philosophic and political meaning, perhaps what they need is a spiritual vocation. Convincing them to spend a week mediating at an ashram in California seems out of the question for most of these troubled souls and spending a week locked into a tour of the ‘Holy Land’ would likely make the problem worse. However a week spent walking the pilgrim paths of Ireland might calm them and even restore the hope that has gone missing in their lives. Mission trips building schools in Central America are another possibility. Almost anything that shifts their attention away from the fetishes of their death cult for more than few days could help break the spell.  In absentia lucis, Tenebrae vincunt.

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An Open Letter to GOP Legislators https://likethedew.com/2020/01/11/an-open-letter-to-gop-legislators/ https://likethedew.com/2020/01/11/an-open-letter-to-gop-legislators/#respond Sat, 11 Jan 2020 22:08:38 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=72793

On August 9, 1974, I was in Germany. Giant headlines read, “Nixon: Ich Gehe.” I am going.

I recall profound embarrassment at President Nixon’s resignation, which I presumed tarnished America’s image abroad. A German stranger set me straight: “You don’t understand. Your country deposed a corrupt leader without a coups or a drop of blood. The system worked.”

That aha moment instilled in me a deep appreciation for the brilliance of the Constitution’s framers. Similar to the way that Apollo 13’s near disaster elicited one of NASA’s finest hours, Watergate elicited American democracy’s finest hour. The Constitution worked as intended. But only because congressional leaders, including those of the president’s own party, put allegiance to country above partisanship.

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On August 9, 1974, I was in Germany. Giant headlines read, “Nixon: Ich Gehe.” I am going.

I recall profound embarrassment at President Nixon’s resignation, which I presumed tarnished America’s image abroad. A German stranger set me straight: “You don’t understand. Your country deposed a corrupt leader without a coups or a drop of blood. The system worked.”

That aha moment instilled in me a deep appreciation for the brilliance of the Constitution’s framers. Similar to the way that Apollo 13’s near disaster elicited one of NASA’s finest hours, Watergate elicited American democracy’s finest hour. The Constitution worked as intended. But only because congressional leaders, including those of the president’s own party, put allegiance to country above partisanship.

Senators Scott and Goldwater and Representative Rhodes hold an informal press conference following their August 7 meeting with President Nixon
Senators Scott and Goldwater and Representative Rhodes hold an informal press conference following their August 7 meeting with President Nixon

For those who don’t remember, here’s how Watergate played out. As the depth of Nixon’s cover-up came to light, legislators worked behind the scenes and across the aisle to orchestrate a smooth transition of power. Vice President Spiro T. Agnew–under scrutiny for bribery, extortion, and tax fraud–resigned from office, allowing Gerald Ford’s appointment as VP. Highly regarded on both sides of the aisle, Ford was confirmed by overwhelming majority. Then, days before the three articles of impeachment would come to a vote in the House, a congressional delegation, including conservative icon Senator Barry Goldwater, visited the Oval Office to inform Nixon he had lost House support. Furthermore, he would have only fifteen supporters in the Senate. Conviction certain, Nixon resigned, and Ford became president.

Fast forward to the impeachment of Donald Trump. The difference between then and now is that during Watergate, congressional legislators of integrity populated both sides of the aisle.

In contrast, today’s GOP functions as cult of personality, putting allegiance to a divisive and corrupt president above country and Constitution. Most of those of conscience have jumped ship. Those remaining have sold their souls, abandoning every value once professed.

The “party of deficit hawks” has ballooned the deficit. The “party of family values” puts refugee children in cages. The “party of God” genuflects to a man who embodies all seven deadly sins and has told 15,000 lies since taking office. The “party of the Constitution” systematically undermines constitutional checks and balances by stacking the courts, indulging fake news, and casting journalists as “enemies of the people.” The “party of anti-communism and strong defense” hamstrings investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election; knee-caps an ally, Ukraine, by spreading Putin’s false narrative; and disparages loyal State Department officials and military officers who have faithfully served our country for decades under Republican and Democratic Administrations.

Elected representatives swear to “support and defend the Constitution . . . against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Donald Trump is the greatest threat to those founding principles in my lifetime. By sowing division and unrelenting dishonesty, he poses domestic threat. By prioritizing his own survival over the nation’s, he invites foreign interference in our elections.

History will not judge today’s GOP kindly. The hour is late, but not too late for redemption: put country before party.

Respectfully yours,
Dave Pruett
Harrisonburg, VA 22801

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Normal Nation https://likethedew.com/2020/01/11/normal-nation/ https://likethedew.com/2020/01/11/normal-nation/#respond Sat, 11 Jan 2020 21:10:28 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=72802

With the assassination of Gen. Qasem Soleimani, Donald Trump has arguably done more to undermine US interests in the Middle East and sow the seeds of a region-wide war than either George H.W. Bush in 1991 or George W. Bush in 2001. His secretary of state says that all the United States wants is to “get the Islamic Republic of Iran to simply behave like a normal nation.”

By any definition of normalcy, the United States has long been out of whack. Now, abnormality has reached dangerous proportions, with the president making wild war threats, deploying thousands of troops to the region, and again displaying all the hallmarks of a leader out of control: reckless tweets, impulsive decision making, vengeful motives, obliviousness to consequences. Trump says he wants to avoid war, but he is doing everything possible to bring it on.

This is a good time to set the record straight on what lies behind Trump's Iran policy.

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With the assassination of Gen. Qasem Soleimani, Donald Trump has arguably done more to undermine US interests in the Middle East and sow the seeds of a region-wide war than either George H.W. Bush in 1991 or George W. Bush in 2001. His secretary of state says that all the United States wants is to “get the Islamic Republic of Iran to simply behave like a normal nation.”

Donald Trump on a psychiatrist’s couch

By any definition of normalcy, the United States has long been out of whack. Now, abnormality has reached dangerous proportions, with the president making wild war threats, deploying thousands of troops to the region, and again displaying all the hallmarks of a leader out of control: reckless tweets, impulsive decision making, vengeful motives, obliviousness to consequences. Trump says he wants to avoid war, but he is doing everything possible to bring it on.

This is a good time to set the record straight on what lies behind Trump’s Iran policy.

First, Trump has a history of hostility to Iran, and frequently criticized Obama for failing to confront Iran.

Second, US policy relies on threats: In response to Iran’s nuclear weapon potential, Trump believed using force to “blow them away to the Stone Age” was a threat that would work. Now he boasts that if conflict occurs with Iran, “it would go very quickly,” with fifty-two targets identified for attack, including (a war crime) “cultural sites.”

Third, US policy on Iran serves Israeli and Saudi interests. Before the 2016 election, US allies in the Middle East, notably Israel, used money and lobbying to persuade Trump to join in a hardline policy on Iran, starting with withdrawal from the nuclear deal.

Fourth, regime change is the goal of US policy toward Iran, as stated many times by Pompeo and John Bolton, and “maximum pressure” is the means to achieve it—preferably by promoting the destabilization of Iran’s economy through sanctions and reducing Iran’s oil exports to zero.

Fifth, presidential abuse of power. The president has all the authority he needs to engage in targeted assassinations or large-scale attacks on Iran, say White House officials. He can choose to consult with Congress or not consult. Trump did not consult; he notified Congress after the fact in a classified document that seeks to justify US actions. He also did not consult intelligence officials or European allies, thus further discounting their importance in policy making.

Sixth, false pretenses. The administration has provided no evidence that killing Soleimani will save lives, or that it will save more lives than it endangers, or that it will promote US influence in Iraq (where the parliament has invited US troops to leave) or Syria (where the US has already betrayed the Kurds), or that it will help to defeat ISIS, or that it will keep Iran from going nuclear (which Iran has answered by saying it will no longer abide by restrictions in the 2015 nuclear deal). In short: a cacophony of lies and miscalculations.

Seventh, wag the dog. Trump in 2011: “the only way [Obama] figures that he’s going to get reelected — as sure as you’re sitting there — is to start a war with Iran.” And: “Just as I predicted, @BarackObama is preparing a possible attack on Iran right before November.”

Is this the behavior pattern of a normal nation? Deterring war by making war? Boasting of a quick victory as though Iran is Iraq? Pretending that democratic decision making is a thing of the past? Insanity. Now as for Wag the Dog? Makes sense…at least for an impeached president.

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Hate Inc., Matt Taibbi https://likethedew.com/2020/01/11/hate-inc-matt-taibbi/ https://likethedew.com/2020/01/11/hate-inc-matt-taibbi/#respond Sat, 11 Jan 2020 18:50:09 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=72798   Embedded in Taibbi's lively reportage, the message of Hate Inc. is that U.S. mainstream media have evolved from maintaining a more or less calm and unified take on what stories are publishable and what are not, in service to power to be sure, to frenetic, partisan coverage with a point of view aimed at a particular demographic. Taibbi uses Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky's 1988 book, Manufacturing Consent, to describe this shift, a shift he fears has accentuated polarization and created a loss of media credibility among the electorate that is irrecoverable and very bad news for democracy. The chief culprit is “left” media's irresponsible, journalistically sloppy commitment to the Russian Collusion story. ]]> Hate Inc.: Why Today’s Media Makes Us Despise One AnotherEmbedded in Taibbi’s lively reportage, the message of Hate Inc. is that U.S. mainstream media have evolved from maintaining a more or less calm and unified take on what stories are publishable and what are not, in service to power to be sure, to frenetic, partisan coverage with a point of view aimed at a particular demographic. Taibbi uses Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky’s 1988 book, Manufacturing Consent, to describe this shift, a shift he fears has accentuated polarization and created a loss of media credibility among the electorate that is irrecoverable and very bad news for democracy. The chief culprit is “left” media’s irresponsible, journalistically sloppy commitment to the Russian Collusion story.

Published just before the shift, Taibbi describes how Manufacturing Consent applies to the two periods. In the pre-shift phase the media had a lock on a profitable segment of advertising which the digital age unlocked, lowering profits and sending the industry into a panicked search for audience share to deliver to its advertisers. Fox News hit on it first. Following the sports model of picking a side and rallying the fans to rabid loyalty and emotional investment. CNN, MSNBC etc; soon followed, all using the same tactics: aim for a certain demographic, build loyalty, keep them pissed-off at the other side and sitting on the edge of their seat with “breaking news” and purchasing their advertisers’ products.

The pre-shift media kept what Chomsky called the “parameters of discussion” to a narrow range, usually called conservative to liberal. This reflected the range of opinion among the owners who carefully hired people with the appropriate beliefs to run their business. So vigorous-appearing debates were actually quite constrained. Search that media in vain for socialist commentators, that point of view being outside polite discourse. I was aware of Manufacturing Consent and pretty much, for that reason, avoided mainstream news for a long time. The book didn’t actually recommend this but rather an eyes-open critical reading. So I was taken aback, even delighted, when encountering Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews etc; on MSNBC mocking “wingnuts”. It took me awhile to realize that though things had stretched some, those same basic parameters were still there. Socialism could actually be mentioned now and then without hysterical demonizing, but not too often. The main thrust was going after those crazy lying right wingers on Fox, Republicans in the congress and administration, cheering for “our side”, the reasonable moderate liberals. Fox of course was the mirror image. The networks tried various mixes, CNN attempting sometimes to outfox Fox, even hire away its commentators, MSNBC fairly strictly sticking to the anti-right. The strategies were the same for both “sides”, just different targets. The big mistake, according to Taibbi, was bringing that strategy to the Russian Collusion story.

Taibbi condemns this shift as NOT journalism but entertainment. Previously news could be more like a book seller’s prestige publications, not necessarily profitable but enhancing the brand. Now you had to hold your audience at all costs, with desperate measures and journalistic standards be damned. If a journalist was on a “team”, it was journalism, not a political party. This effort has been very profitable. The “product” comes from, is selected from, the same old sources, reporters, but of an ever-shrinking pool.

The author confesses that he is actually fairly non-political, more interested in his family than politics but “If tortured…” he’d confess to being progressive, voting, being lightly activist, giving a little money here and there but mostly he sees the world from an absurdist position. Humanity is the three stooges he says, we try our best but mostly fail. Taibbi confesses to having worked his audience from a niche called the vitriolic essay, a take-down artist but with always the right people being taken down. I remember sensing this reading him, being entertained as he “took down” the people I loved to hate but sensing something off. Especially if he included people I respected, like Bernie. He seems to recognize the urgency of climate change or the threat of nuclear holocaust, the obscenity of military spending, rule of the 1% etc; in one sentence then slip into, it’s not all that important or the flippant statement that we used to hire people to do our vitriol, meaning elected officials. Taibbi does not mention that Hillary took the popular vote, by 2-3 million, when critiquing her campaign. Nor does he mention the obstruction of justice offenses in the Mueller report (and why didn’t the dems include these in the impeachment?!). But I have to buy his take, that if you’re looking for corruption you do it without partisan protection, you call a spade a spade. Without that objectivity there is a credibility loss that makes it easier to believe tRump’s wild accusations of fake news.

Taibbi’s book includes a section explaining why Rachel Maddow is paired with Hannity on the cover, the claim that both use the same partisan strategies to make money for their network (and selves). A second section is an interview with Noam Chomsky, discussing he and Ed Herman’s book in today’s context.

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TCM Ambushed: Comcast Says “Thanks Atlanta!” https://likethedew.com/2020/01/11/tcm-ambushed-comcast-says-thanks-atlanta/ https://likethedew.com/2020/01/11/tcm-ambushed-comcast-says-thanks-atlanta/#respond Sat, 11 Jan 2020 18:48:43 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=72670 Turner Classic Movies from its basic cable services in Atlanta and other locales. This is especially annoying to Atlantans. Back when Comcast "suits" were tormenting playmates in the sandboxes, Atlanta was the dominant place in the cable universe, thanks to Ted Turner. By the mid '70s, Ted Turner had moved beyond selling ads on billboards. Even running a highly successful UHF station did not satisfy his ambitions. So he bought the Atlanta Braves. He bought the Atlanta Hawks. He won the America's Cup. Things were looking pretty good here on earth for Ted Turner. Then he looked to the skies where satellites could beam programming from his Channel 17 (elsewhere known as SuperStation TBS) to viewers nationwide.]]> So Comcast, with no apologies, pulled Turner Classic Movies from its basic cable services in Atlanta and other locales. This is especially annoying to Atlantans.

Back when Comcast “suits” were tormenting playmates in the sandboxes, Atlanta was the dominant place in the cable universe, thanks to Ted Turner.

By the mid ’70s, Ted Turner had moved beyond selling ads on billboards. Even running a highly successful UHF station did not satisfy his ambitions. So he bought the Atlanta Braves. He bought the Atlanta Hawks. He won the America’s Cup. Things were looking pretty good here on earth for Ted Turner. Then he looked to the skies where satellites could beam programming from his Channel 17 (elsewhere known as SuperStation TBS) to viewers nationwide.

If you got ’em by the eyeballs, their hearts and minds will follow.

SuperStation TBS offered a plethora of programming which included almost every Braves game, almost every Hawks game, classic movies and all-time TV favorites such as Leave It To Beaver and The Andy Griffith Show. If you found yourself glued to the tube in the dark, dank hours of the early morning then you might see Bill Tush,  Turner’s “low-budget Walter Cronkite,” deliver whatever he considered the news that day. Tush was assisted by his co-anchor, a German Shepherd named Rex.

Ted Turner was an Atlanta cult hero in those days. He may not have planned the free-for-all atmosphere at Channel 17 but he let it happen and his own quirky spirit certainly inspired it.

But as the ’70s turned into the ’80s, Turner was becoming more serious, in his own way, about the world. He began talking about a 24-hour all-news network. People thought he was nuts. Something like that will never work, so said the experts.

Though the idea had taken on various concepts in his head, he took a respectful approach and launched Cable News Network (CNN) on June 1, 1980. On that night CNN’s best known reporter, Daniel Schorr, interviewed President Jimmy Carter, then in the middle of one of the toughest years a post World War ll president ever faced.

Schorr gave CNN street cred with the discerning Left and Ted Turner found himself being taken more seriously in all corners. Though only four years had passed, it seemed a long time since he and Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Tug McGraw staged a pre-game race to see who could push a baseball across the infield with his nose the fastest. Ted won, coming away with a bloodied nose and forehead. His Braves were awful that year and the next three. Turner would do whatever it took to get a few thousand more fans to the game, even shedding some skin. Give him credit, interest in the team picked up and with an eye to the future, he brought in baseball people who developed a winning team.

The Braves did experience a half decade of respectability (1980 – 1984), even winning a division title in 1982 with an impressive group of young players developed in the team’s system. But Ted, being Ted, wasn’t satisfied with the success the Braves had achieved. In 1984, he fired manager Joe Torre, who in 2014 would be inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Torre succeeded Bobby Cox, who was fired in 1981 after four seasons. Cox was inducted in the same Baseball Hall of Fame class as Torre. The road to Cooperstown for Cox began when he was once again named as manager of the Braves in 1990. From there on, Turner never gave thought to finding another manager for the Braves. Besides, the world of cable TV was keeping him busy enough. Or better yet, Turner was keeping the world of cable TV busy. It’s that way with daring innovators.

Having learned he should let the baseball people run his baseball team, Turner focused his attention on what he knew best: TV programming. As with professional sports, there was always competition in broadcasting and the competitors in that field had deeper pockets than a George Steinbrenner. Since Turner never had bags of cash for his acquisitions, he often had to be the high-roller, betting on the come. He’d get the financing, knowing he’d make good with his next big idea.

CNN earned him gravitas but not long-term security in the broadcasting world. William S. Burroughs said, “When you stop growing, you start dying.” Turner kept that philosophy in mind; he would keep growing.

So Turner commenced on a shopping spree lasting nearly a decade. It wasn’t always a smooth ride. He wanted to buy one of the major networks, working hardest on a deal that would merge CBS with CNN. That didn’t take, so he entered another whirlwind, acquiring MGM/United Artists for $1.4 billion from Kirk Kerkorian. Then Kerkorian immediately bought United Artists back from Turner.

The MGM purchase appeared quite the risk for Turner but he wanted to create original programming for the SuperStation and MGM had the studios and a stream of films in production. However, the current batch of MGM productions stiffed and the films in the can looked no more promising. “One turkey after another” was how Turner described MGM’s upcoming releases.

Up against it, Turner ended up selling most of the assets acquired in the MGM purchase.  Still he managed to keep the MGM film library, which included the RKO and pre-1948 Warner Brothers films. For all the back-and-forthing, wheeling, dealing and disappointments Turner experienced in his efforts to grow his company, in the end he got what he wanted: truckloads of quality programming for the SuperStation and even another network or two.

In October 1988 he launched Turner Network Television (TNT), another cable network with programming similar to the SuperStation. Classic films, old TV shows and more sports.

Included in the MGM film libraries were the Warner Brothers (Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies) and MGM (Tom and Jerry) cartoons. Turner not only had Bogart and Bacall to fill his time slots, he also had Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. Further inspired, in ’91 he purchased Hanna-Barbera Studios. More cartoons. Yogi Bear, Fred Flintstone and scores of popular animated characters. Another viewing choice is birthed: Cartoon Network.

The truckloads of quality programming acquired by Turner in the mid ’80s found a home on April 14, 1994 when he launched Turner Classic Movies (TCM). Nothing but classic films. Uninterrupted and unedited. 24 hours a day. 7 days a week. Cinephiles with insomnia now had something to do with all that extra time. Its first film was Gone With The Wind, Turner’s favorite and the same film TNT debuted with six years earlier.

TCM committed to go beyond presenting the automatics such as Gone With The Wind, Casablanca and Singin’ In The Rain. Underrated and overlooked films receive prime-time exposure and special commentary from the network’s hosts before and after the films are shown. Viewing the films and absorbing the filmmakers’ intentions enhance one’s personal education. Perspectives on how Elia Kazan moved directly from Gentleman’s Agreement to Pinky are gleaned just as one may observe how The Beatles moved from Revolver to Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. It isn’t just art for art’s sake; it’s observing culture and the times we’ve lived through or the times our grandparents told us about. Imagine that: being informed and entertained while sitting in front of the tube. Turner Classic Movies, like Ted Turner’s grandest venture, Cable News Network, fulfills its mission. Once you tune in, you’ll do so again and again.

But Comcast, the cable company that provides the wiring and beaming so Atlanta viewers can watch their favorites, has decided TCM isn’t top-drawer after all. On October 10, with little notice, they stripped it from their basic service. Comcast’s customers were told they could retain TCM by agreeing to pay another $9.99 monthly. What a swell bunch they have at Comcast. No doubt some of their customers would like to say, “Here’s your $9.99 for TCM, but that’s all you get. Please pull the rest of your channels from my set — and you can start with Pat Robertson, Joel Osteen and the rest of those charlatans. I want my TCM.”

Most of us will likely suck it in, though. Send the extra bucks and just recognize it as more insidious larceny, like at the gas pumps during the next contrived crisis. The better-informed Atlantans will also realize Comcast cares little for the city that enabled the cable industry’s greatest pioneer to succeed while trying out his latest wild idea. Atlantans will always appreciate Ted Turner. We’ll just endure Comcast and whatever conglomerate replaces them in good time.

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Brother Billy- humanitarian? https://likethedew.com/2020/01/11/brother-billy-humanitarian/ https://likethedew.com/2020/01/11/brother-billy-humanitarian/#respond Sat, 11 Jan 2020 17:36:16 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=72784

“My father knew Donald Trump, he believed in Donald Trump, and he voted for Donald Trump.”-Franklin Graham

Having lived in small Southern towns for most of my life, I believe that almost all preachers in these towns are good people, generally modest folks who care much less about themselves than their flock. The typical local Reverend cares much more about the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of his church's members than he does extremist politics or getting wealthy.

I don’t feel similarly positively about televangelists, especially Brother Billy Graham who I believe indirectly inspired quasi-religious conservative activism having nothing to do with righteousness. Per his son, Graham supported Donald Trump, arguably the least moral President who has ever held office. But given Graham’s hypocritical history, it’s not at all surprising.

 

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“My father knew Donald Trump, he believed in Donald Trump, and he voted for Donald Trump.”-Franklin Graham

Having lived in small Southern towns for most of my life, I believe that almost all preachers in these towns are good people, generally modest folks who care much less about themselves than their flock. The typical local Reverend cares much more about the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of his church’s members than he does extremist politics or getting wealthy.

Franklin and Billy Graham in Cleveland Stadium (June 1994) taken by Paul M. Walsh
Franklin and Billy Graham in Cleveland Stadium (1994)

I don’t feel similarly positively about televangelists, especially Brother Billy Graham who I believe indirectly inspired quasi-religious conservative activism having nothing to do with righteousness. Per his son, Graham supported Donald Trump, arguably the least moral President who has ever held office. But given Graham’s hypocritical history, it’s not at all surprising.

For example, Mark, 10:17-25 reads: “One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven.” I am not a religious scholar, but doesn’t the above quote mean that Billy Graham (worth $25 million at his passing) will be poor in heaven? Should we be surprised that he hypocritically supported a clearly immoral con artist who made his fortune by deception, dishonor and deceit?

(Note: To be fair, it should be noted that Brother Billy was not our richest preacher. There are five wealthier American preachers (Beliefnet): 1. Kenneth Copeland: $760 Million; 2. Pat Robertson: $100 Million; 3. Benny Hinn: $42 Million; 4. Joel Osteen: $40 Million; and 5. Creflo Dollar: $27 Million.)

Moreover, Brother Billy was also a Nixon supporter, defending him right down to the bitter end. Further, he told Nixon, an anti-Semite, that: a. “This stranglehold (by Jews) has got to be broken or the country’s going down the drain.” and b. “They (Jews) don’t know how I really feel about what they’re doing to this country”, among other anti-Jewish comments.

Would Jesus, a Jew, have approved of Brother Billy’s documented anti-Semitism? When the missionary Stanley Jones asked Gandhi about Jesus his response was “I love Christ. It’s just that so many of you Christians are so unlike Christ.” Gandhi’s statement describes Graham very well.

According to the conservative pundit George Wills (WP, 2-22-18): “Graham frequently vowed to abstain from partisan politics and almost as frequently slipped this self-imposed leash, almost always on behalf of Republicans.” For example, Brother Billy bought a Washington Post ad in November 2012, right at election time, urging religious people to vote biblical values such as “support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman.” Clearly, the ad was political and partisan.

Did this set the tone for today’s myopic evangelicals, 80% of whom approve of a President who has been married three times and has had numerous salacious affairs while married? A man who epitomizes the moral opposite of nearly everything that evangelicals believe.

This column is not intended to negate the good works of Brother Billy. For example, to his everlasting credit he bravely pushed desegregation at a time when it was not popular in the South, his home. However, he also supported a racist for President in 2016.

The mainstream media seems much more interested in shamelessly dwelling on Brother Billy’s fame rather than in evaluating his true legacy, including his numerous negatives. This column is simply intended to balance the scales and make us objectively reflect on his life and impact on our society.

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The Fish Farm https://likethedew.com/2020/01/11/the-fish-farm/ https://likethedew.com/2020/01/11/the-fish-farm/#respond Sat, 11 Jan 2020 17:11:16 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=72778 It was 6am when I heard the water gurgling into the empty bath tub. I had left the tap on before I went to bed to make sure there was enough water to wash myself in the morning. I could hear water pipes rattling throughout the hotel and footsteps in the room above as someone headed for their bathroom. There was no need to hurry as the water was turned off after 10 minutes leaving about six inches of a brown-colored warm liquid in the bottom of the large tub. At 6pm the water would be turned on again for 10 minutes for those who wanted to wash in cold brown water. I had been awake for more than an hour, sitting by the open window to catch some air and watch the sunrise across the hotel gardens. It was early May and the temperature was already close to 70F with humidity over 80% so any breeze was welcome in the non-air-conditioned room. The desk fan was noisy but I had kept it on all night to keep the mosquitos moving.

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It was 6am when I heard the water gurgling into the empty bath tub. I had left the tap on before I went to bed to make sure there was enough water to wash myself in the morning. I could hear water pipes rattling throughout the hotel and footsteps in the room above as someone headed for their bathroom. There was no need to hurry as the water was turned off after 10 minutes leaving about six inches of a brown-colored warm liquid in the bottom of the large tub. At 6pm the water would be turned on again for 10 minutes for those who wanted to wash in cold brown water. I had been awake for more than an hour, sitting by the open window to catch some air and watch the sunrise across the hotel gardens. It was early May and the temperature was already close to 70F with humidity over 80% so any breeze was welcome in the non-air-conditioned room. The desk fan was noisy but I had kept it on all night to keep the mosquitos moving.

It was my first visit to China and I had been invited to attend the Chinese Export Commodities Fair (Spring) 1972 held in Guangzhou (formerly Kwangchow) from April 15 to May 15 for negotiations with government officials attending the fair from Beijing. The Fair (more commonly known as the Canton Fair) was first established in 1957 as a biannual exhibition of Chinese goods for sale into the export market. The majority of attendees were European commodity traders and textile buyers who attended the fair for a whole month, twice each year. I was not a textile buyer but a seller of minerals to China and it was easier to meet in Guangzhou than take the train from there to Beijing.

Diplomatic relations with The People’s Republic of China had not yet been established and travel to Guangzhou was only by train from Hong Kong. I had left Kowloon train station on an early morning train packed with European commodity traders and their companions, some imported from Europe and others collected in Hong Kong, with my baggage including a “survival kit” purchased at the local stores near the train station. My “survival kit” included the essentials for a potentially long stay in China – soap, towel, toilet paper, medications, scotch, vodka, wine, ketchup, crackers, cheese, canned sardines, olives, small camera, color film, radio/tape player, cigarettes, books and Hong Kong newspapers. Only the camera, exposed color film and the radio would return to Hong Kong. The other items were consumed or traded. As a non-smoker the two cartons of cigarettes were valuable for trading and playing poker with other foreigners. The local train arrived at Lowu, on the border between Hong Kong’s New Territories and China, at 10am and we walked along the tracks across the bridge over the river into Shenzhen (then Shumchun) where we spent four hours being “processed” through customs before catching the non-stop train to Guangzhou. The train arrived late in the day.

After a thorough search, my “survival kit” passed the scrutiny of the customs officials. The alcohol limit was two bottles of no specified size so I bought two one-gallon bottles of liquor at the store next to the Kowloon train station and a one gallon cask of wine in a box marked “sample only”. Assisted by the other commodity traders attending the fair, the scotch, vodka and wine was to last about two weeks. Supplies of other essential items, especially soap, toilet paper and Imodium, also lasted about two weeks so trading became a necessity. Boredom was the common enemy of the commodity traders attending the fair for a month so they organized a book lending library, regular football and volley ball games, nightly cocktail parties and regular poker games. I hoped to stay for two weeks before returning to Hong Kong. The days were long as the negotiations were short, and leaving the hotel compound to explore the city was discouraged.

We were not permitted to travel outside Guangzhou except on an organized visit to a People’s Commune to see the happy workers. All foreigners were encouraged to make the visit at least once. As the visit to the People’s Commune was a long day we were served a full breakfast before the early start. On the morning of the tour we were assigned to special tables in the hotel dining room to introduce ourselves to the other travelers and served a large English breakfast of cereal, eggs, bacon, potatoes, bread and fruit with hot instant coffee or tea. It was more satisfying than the usual Chinese breakfast. We were escorted from the dining room to the waiting bus full of comradery and nutrients. There were about 60 foreigners and one interpreter on the old uncomfortable bus as we bounced along the rough dirt road into the countryside.

Chinese men harvesting at the Fish Farm (1972)

Two hours into the tour we stopped beside a large fish farm and were escorted to a small white concrete hut at the side of the lake. We were advised to take our toilet paper so welcomed the stop. The hut, with two holes in the floor, was large enough for two people so the interpreter stood outside with the long line of traders while in turn we each dumped into the holes. Underneath the hut were two large wooden drums to collect the donations and when we finished workers carried them out into the lake to feed the fish. When questioned about the stop, the interpreter explained: “You westerners have more sh…t and you have better sh…t so we can breed larger fish for sale to Hong Kong and other places.” I thought: “yes and it is free!”

After the brief stop at the fish farm we continued to the People’s Commune where we were greeted with smiles and offered tea. The commune leader talked to us, through an interpreter, about life in the commune today and how it was different under Chairman Mao before showing us around the commune and a worker’s one room hut. Children were lined up in the street to applaud and thank us as we walked by.

The visit to the fish farm and People’s Commune was a long day but educational. I learned feeding with high nutritious food was the most important part of fish farming, westerners were full of sh…t and why the children at the commune thanked us. Also, I learned not to order fish at the hotels in Hong Kong.

A year after my visit to Guangzhou, diplomatic relations were established between the USA and China leading to a huge increase in western visitors with their nutrients. Forty-five years later, China is the largest exporter of farmed fish providing more than 50% of the world’s supply. It was achieved with the help of the “westerners” so a little hint for the trade negotiators: “If you want to reach a peaceful solution to the trade imbalance don’t give them any more sh…t!” Ken Peacock December 30, 2019 Photographs used were taken by the author.

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Road Trips: The Crossroads https://likethedew.com/2020/01/09/road-trips-the-crossroads/ https://likethedew.com/2020/01/09/road-trips-the-crossroads/#respond Thu, 09 Jan 2020 13:35:20 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=72738

Author's Note: This is an excerpt from a book project about various travels during my life. (so far) The working title is "Road Trips."

Winding through thick green forests in southern Missouri; heading to Arkansas' Petit Jean State Park. A planned leisurely trip through territory visited by everyone from Rooster Cogburn to Bigfoot turned to monotonous thanks to a steady downpour for five hours. A nice mix of Blues favorites and my middle child makes it much more enjoyable; if not memorable.

Progress was as slow as molasses in the wintertime. The only highlight was a catfish dinner in Mammoth Springs, AK, just out of Missouri. The place was called Fred's Fish House and we ate tasty, farm raised catfish in a second floor dining room looking out on Main Street. We had the place to ourselves during the late afternoon lull.

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Author’s Note: This is an excerpt from a book project about various travels during my life. (so far) The working title is “Road Trips.”

Winding through thick green forests in southern Missouri; heading to Arkansas’ Petit Jean State Park. A planned leisurely trip through territory visited by everyone from Rooster Cogburn to Bigfoot turned to monotonous thanks to a steady downpour for five hours. A nice mix of Blues favorites and my middle child makes it much more enjoyable; if not memorable.

The catfish dinner at Fred’s Fish House in Mammoth Springs

Progress was as slow as molasses in the wintertime. The only highlight was a catfish dinner in Mammoth Springs, AK, just out of Missouri. The place was called Fred’s Fish House and we ate tasty, farm raised catfish in a second floor dining room looking out on Main Street. We had the place to ourselves during the late afternoon lull.

Five hours later we were the only occupants at the breezeway between the Petit Jean Mather Lodge great room and the wing where our more modest room sat. The view provided us included a notch between two Ozarkian peaks nestled with fog, and bordered by towering hardwoods.

the view from Mather Lodge breezeway on Petit Jean Mountain
The view from Mather Lodge breezeway on Petit Jean Mountain

Fresh drinks in our hands, rocking chairs under our asses; we sat there until well after midnight, doing what the two of us do best; talk aimlessly about whatever. Sometimes seriously; sometimes absurdly; sometimes facetiously, we can talk for long periods without losing the thread. Two eerily similar minds separated only by life’s experiences.

My middle child is more like me than either of his brothers. He currently reminds me of my former, younger self, much more opinionated, self assured, and content in having figured the world out. As Bob Dylan and Roger McGuinn pointed out in “My Back Pages,” we mostly learn how much we don’t know as we age. I was so much older then. I could have sat there all night.

Early the next morning, we tracked down the cave paintings at Petit Jean; the reason we made this detour from the Blues highway. The open air cave did in fact include ancient drawings but they were negatively affected by mildew and humidity which rendered them nearly invisible. Soon we were on I-40 headed east toward the Crossroads, in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

Muriel’s piano from the Hollywood Cafe

Two weeks before this trip began, I realized we must add a destination. It seems the Hollywood Cafe is about forty-five minutes from downtown Clarksdale. Where Muriel played piano every Friday, as Marc Cohen sang in “Walking in Memphis“. It was unanimous; we had to stop.

The Hollywood featured a veritable shrine around Muriel’s piano in the corner. To her and Cohen. We landed there during Happy Hour to fried green tomatoes my aunt Dana would approve of and solid catfish strips. Jukebox wasn’t bad either. Long before we were ready, we literally dragged ourselves from the bar stools and headed south. There will be a return trip.

Clarksdale Crossroads

Clarksdale offers a local guitar store with two proprietors that will talk your head off about all the greats that have stopped by, three local blues clubs with possibilities dependent on the day one shows up, and the actual Crossroads, where Robert Johnson made a deal with the Devil.

Chad and I spent the night at the Shack Up Inn, barely south of downtown Clarksdale on the old highway. A collection of ancient, mismatched structures pulled together on an old farm location, a giant bar, and funky hired help make you want to return soon.

  • the lobby photo of the Shack Up Inn was taken by Steve Mays

Several rooms feature pianos, and you can pick up a loaner guitar at check in. We had brought our own: Cheap ones we bought in St. Louis and planned to donate in New Orleans to the Youth Music Association manged by Tipitina’s.

We stayed in the Robert Clay shack, brought in from a former bootlegger’s place just up the road. A shifty ceiling fan that surprised us by working the entire time, tin roofing lining the shower, and a screen porch featuring mismatched chairs and the rear seat from an old Buick made the place special.

We sat on that porch, guitars in hand, and played “House of the Rising Sun” until we got it right. Or what sounded right after several trips back inside to refill mismatched glasses. I thought the night before, sitting with my son in the quiet, was a lifetime highlight, but the second night was just magical.

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Killing General Soleimani: Hail Mars! Hail Pluto! https://likethedew.com/2020/01/03/killing-general-soleimani-hail-mars-hail-pluto/ https://likethedew.com/2020/01/03/killing-general-soleimani-hail-mars-hail-pluto/#respond Fri, 03 Jan 2020 20:41:33 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=72725

The  United States killed Iranian Quds Forces Commander General Qassam Soleimani. There is no hyperbole or exaggeration too great to encapsulate what may befall tens of millions of families. 

The equivalent of the killing of General Soleimani would be as if the Iranians assassinated General Richard Clarke, the US four-star general in charge of all US special operations, but only if General Clarke had the name recognition of Colin Powell and the competency of Dwight Eisenhower. 

Those Iranians in government and civil society who want restraint, de-escalation and dialogue will find it hard to argue against retaliation. After more than 20 years of Iran enduring insult after insult, provocation after provocation, and attack after attack, I find it hard to believe there are many Barbara Lees in the Islamic Consultative Assembly (she was the only member of the US Congress to vote restraint after 9.11.01).

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The  United States killed Iranian Quds Forces Commander General Qassam Soleimani. There is no hyperbole or exaggeration too great to encapsulate what may befall tens of millions of families. 

The equivalent of the killing of General Soleimani would be as if the Iranians assassinated General Richard Clarke, the US four-star general in charge of all US special operations, but only if General Clarke had the name recognition of Colin Powell and the competency of Dwight Eisenhower. 

Medieval representation of Mars, sitting on a rainbow with a sword and a sceptre, excites men to war is from Othea's Epistle
Mars (sitting on the rainbow) excites men to war

Those Iranians in government and civil society who want restraint, de-escalation and dialogue will find it hard to argue against retaliation. After more than 20 years of Iran enduring insult after insult, provocation after provocation, and attack after attack, I find it hard to believe there are many Barbara Lees in the Islamic Consultative Assembly (she was the only member of the US Congress to vote restraint after 9.11.01).

A young man, better and brighter than those who sent him to Iraq to be in my command in the Marines in 2006, asked me last evening:

“So let’s assume Soleimani is responsible for the embassy raid on the 27th. What should the proper response be? I think it would have been a great reason to talk to the Iranians and start from a 0-0 standpoint.”

That is what we are promised each election cycle by the two war parties: thoughtful, wise and judicious leadership – recognize the abyss and don’t step into it.

Imagine if President Trump were to say before Congress and the American people: “I know the danger of where we are, I respect Iran’s grievances and I ask them to respect ours, I am going to Tehran to meet with President Rhouhani. I have seen what Bush and Obama wrought, I will do different.” 

Pluto riding a Unicorn - The Abduction of Proserpina
The Abduction of Proserpina (Pluto’s on the Unicorn)

And what if then he told every member of Congress or the media who criticized him to stand and to offer up what they had sacrificed in the last 20 years. Would not that kind of leadership get him re-elected? Would there ever be a tally of the bodies, minds and souls saved? Yes, a late night fantasy of mine, pushed by the eternal hope of the too many unforgiving ghosts of these wars, but hope seems to be all we have right now.

2000 years ago in Rome a bull would have been slaughtered in the Temple of Mars to placate and appeal to the God of War. This weekend in DC, as well as most assuredly in Tel Aviv, and quite possibly London, the finest wines and liquors will be opened, without a seeming care that the sacrifice required will not be measured in a single animal, but in millions of dead and destroyed humans.

In Rome they worshiped Pluto as the God of the Underworld and of Death. Fittingly, Pluto was also the God of Money and Wealth. In these times it seems neither Mars or Pluto seems sated by the bodily and spiritual forms of the dead. If we pull down Lincoln and Jefferson in DC and hoist Mars and Pluto in their places I doubt Mars and Pluto’s appetites will be met, but as least we would be honoring those who are served.

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Privatization Assaults What Makes Public Schools Public https://likethedew.com/2020/01/03/privatization-assaults-what-makes-public-schools-public/ https://likethedew.com/2020/01/03/privatization-assaults-what-makes-public-schools-public/#respond Fri, 03 Jan 2020 17:59:44 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=72709 Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, one of the more aggressive players in the movement to privatize public schools. That inspired intense debate on social media, where everything important happens, about the Broad Foundation’s spotty record at educational “reform.” Hostilities really exploded when social media mavens circulated an article by “advocacy journalist” Jeff Bryant detailing how several graduates of the Broad Superintendents Academy ripped off and otherwise abused the school districts they managed. The figures in the rogue’s gallery Bryant exposed were so unsavory that I couldn’t help wondering why the Broads wanted to even be identified with them. (In fact, according to a Forbes Magazine profile, Eli Broad retired from the Foundation two years ago.) Maybe I haven’t been reading the right stuff, but nothing I’ve read explains why Eli and Edythe Broad would sink any of their billions into the sketchy operations that their detractors have been exposing regularly. I get why crass mercenary careerists of all persuasions would be salivating over the more than $600 billion a year the nation spends on public elementary and secondary education. But I don’t get what’s in it for the Broads personally.]]> My local public school district is in turmoil. The board of education recently placed the superintendent on administrative leave and appointed an interim superintendent. One of several things that sealed the superintendent’s fate was his having cozied up to the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, one of the more aggressive players in the movement to privatize public schools. That inspired intense debate on social media, where everything important happens, about the Broad Foundation’s spotty record at educational “reform.”

Eli and Edythe Broad founders of the Broad Foundation
Eli and Edythe Broad founders of the Broad Foundation

Hostilities really exploded when social media mavens circulated an article by “advocacy journalist” Jeff Bryant detailing how several graduates of the Broad Superintendents Academy ripped off and otherwise abused the school districts they managed. The figures in the rogue’s gallery Bryant exposed were so unsavory that I couldn’t help wondering why the Broads wanted to even be identified with them. (In fact, according to a Forbes Magazine profile, Eli Broad retired from the Foundation two years ago.) Maybe I haven’t been reading the right stuff, but nothing I’ve read explains why Eli and Edythe Broad would sink any of their billions into the sketchy operations that their detractors have been exposing regularly. I get why crass mercenary careerists of all persuasions would be salivating over the more than $600 billion a year the nation spends on public elementary and secondary education. But I don’t get what’s in it for the Broads personally.

I’ve never met Eli and Edythe. They’re not friends of mine. So I’m not privy to their innermost thoughts about education. But Diane Ravitch gave the best public account I know of in her now classic study of the privatization movement, The Death and Life of the Great American School System, first published in 2010 and reissued in an expanded edition in 2016. As Ravitch makes clear, the Broads ventured into education to implement a theory.

They believe that Eli Broad’s managerial prowess as a spectacularly successful entrepreneur in homebuilding and insurance can be replicated at scale in large urban public-school districts serving predominantly minority populations. The key to raising achievement levels among those kids to the level of their white counterparts has little to do with the traditional concerns of teachers and principals with curriculum and the other things that go on during a typical school day. It has far more to do with system-wide governance, specifically jettisoning the cumbersome, wasteful, sluggish bureaucracy of traditional public schools in favor of the command and control model native to the corporate and military worlds. That approach, coupled with a laser focus on measurable outcomes, will, the Broads believe, rescue children of color from decades of educational malpractice.

Since maximizing “return on investment” is central to the corporate model, the Broads prioritize large urban public school districts with either elected boards sympathetic to the Broad approach or boards appointed by sympathetic city mayors, as in New York City. The idea is to place Broad-trained superintendents in districts promising minimal resistance to the Broad agenda.

To see why the Broads or anybody else would be drawn to this project, it helps to know that leaving no child behind has been the holy grail in American education for over a hundred years. In 1900 Georgia’s state superintendent of instruction told the National Education Association,

“Time was when the power of the teacher was measured by what he could do with a bright boy or a bright girl. From the beginning of this new century the power of the teacher will be measured by what he will be able to do with the dull boy, the defective child. More than ever before in the history of this world the real test of teaching power will be measured not by what can be done with the best, but by what can be done with the worst boy in school.”

They didn’t mince words back then.

Since this was 1900, we can be pretty sure that the children the superintendent was talking about were all white. But that wasn’t true when Lyndon Johnson, in a major 1965 Great Society initiative, got Congress to enact the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The theory then was that poor kids of all races would flourish if they didn’t have to go to school in dilapidated, poorly equipped and maintained school buildings. So ESEA funneled massive federal aid to poverty-stricken schools, Johnson fully expecting that raising them to the level of more affluent areas would raise the poor kids’ educational achievement as well. But as Johns Hopkins University sociologist James Coleman showed in a massive study, funding levels didn’t have much impact on student achievement. The study so disheartened Johnson that he wanted to keep it from Congress. Since Johnson’s Great Society, the story has been one of broken dreams, with the holy grail of a vanishing achievement gap in our diverse school population ever receding into the distance.

While nobody should be surprised that the ranks of the privatizers harbor pirates, I don’t think the Broads mean to do no more than enable rape and pillage. Their ambitions are loftier than that. What they’re after is cracking the code to abolishing the achievement gap, an accomplishment that would go down in history as the educational equivalent of a moon shot or a cancer cure. If there were a Nobel Prize for education, the Broads’ ambition would be to win it.

I’ve only scratched the surface of the anti-Broad media coverage but, if the Jeff Bryant piece is typical, the indictment of the Broad Foundation in education is that it’s the home office of a “cartel” dedicated to milking and bilking public schools of funds that should be used on other things. These accounts are laced with nods to the anti-democratic nature of the corporate command and control model, but that seems to be treated as just one among several nasty aspects of Broadismo.

I think that’s a terrible mistake. What makes the Broad approach a dire threat to public education isn’t a couple of leeches on a district’s payroll. Even if every single person to emerge from the Broad Superintendents Academy were a model of probity, what they learn there, if they take it seriously, is a stake right in the heart of what’s distinctively public about public schools.

Public school advocates haven’t done as well as they could or should at explaining what’s public about public schools. It’s not just that they’re tax-supported. With the proliferation of various voucher schemes, more public funds are flowing to private schools too. But that doesn’t convert them into public schools. Nor are public schools the sole purveyors of course content that purports to educate their charges for citizenship, like a ninth-grade problems of democracy course taught in the off season by the football coach. Nothing prevents private schools from doing that as well. And nothing prevents them from serving a diverse population, which public schools don’t always do all that well depending on the zip codes they draw from.

What’s public about public schools is that they’re fundamental in a way that private schools can’t be to representative self-government itself. For most people, their involvement with their public schools is their deepest immersion in the institutions and processes of representative self-government.

Public schools have occupied that critical role in our political culture at least since Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia. To his mind, the neighborhood school along with other local government institutions are incubators of small-r republicanism. To preserve that foundation, he even went so far as proposing that each of Virginia’s counties be subdivided into “wards” averaging six miles each, each, he said, to be a “small republic within itself.”

Local public school communities are still “small republics“ where reasonably attentive people can understand the issues, debating and deciding them among others who include their friends, neighbors and other face-to-face acquaintances.

So Broadismo doesn’t just inflict knaves and thieves on schools, as Bryant and other privatization critics charge. The command and control model at its core is a mortal threat to public schools’ essential place in the representative self-government project our political culture rests on. It runs roughshod over the fact that public schools have constituents, not customers and clients as private schools do.

Nor are the Broads alone in their hostility to the institutions and processes of representative self-government. In his 1955 brief for school vouchers, libertarian economist Milton Friedman expressed similar contempt when he defended vouchers as a way of freeing families from having to resort to “cumbersome political channels” regarding their children’s schooling.

So are school communities like mine condemned to an endless twilight struggle against Broadies’ assaults on democracy at ground level? Maybe not. One glimmer of hope is a development reported recently in a New York Times column.

Although everything important happens on social media, when I posted the column on Facebook, it diverted the inmates for about three seconds, its staggering implications utterly escaping them. The writer reported that by changing the way reading is taught there, Mississippi (let me say that again—Mississippi) has significantly raised reading scores among its public-school kids. According to the latest results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress,

“Mississippi was the only state in the nation to post significant gains on the fourth-grade reading test. Fourth graders in Mississippi are now on par with the national average, reading as well or better than pupils in California, Texas, Michigan and 18 other states.” (New York Times)

Did I mention that this happened in Mississippi?

This could turn out to be just another mirage, but if it proves to be real and scalable, one transformative result will be to cut the ground out from under “reforms” that prescribe destabilizing upheavals in the way public schools are administered. If closing at least the reading achievement gap depends on getting the science of reading right instead of commanding and controlling and applying other such nostrums, then that will expose the privatizers’ campaign to destroy public schools by “saving” them as the “dead end” that U. S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos famously said public schools are.

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Ivanka and Trump Talk: Impeachment https://likethedew.com/2020/01/03/ivanka-and-trump-talk-impeachment/ https://likethedew.com/2020/01/03/ivanka-and-trump-talk-impeachment/#respond Fri, 03 Jan 2020 17:58:00 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=72717

Ivanka: Hi, Daddy. You don’t look well.

Trump: I always look great, and it’s only because of me that you got your good looks. I’m the most handsome man on the planet. In any case, I look very well for someone who just had a heart attack.

Ivanka: Well, that’s true, but aren’t you going to make an announcement rather than just continue to say that you went into the hospital for “phase 1” of your physical? You realize that makes no sense?

Trump: It doesn’t have to make sense. If I say it, it’s the truth for those dummies out there. Anything else is just “fake news.” Anyway, my TV network will back me up and the people who watch it don’t watch any other news source. Fox is Trumpworld. My supporters will believe me rather than what they hear or see. They cheer me when I say that at my rallies, which are the biggest the world has ever seen.

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Ivanka: Hi, Daddy. You don’t look well.

Trump: I always look great, and it’s only because of me that you got your good looks. I’m the most handsome man on the planet. In any case, I look very well for someone who just had a heart attack.

Ivanka: Well, that’s true, but aren’t you going to make an announcement rather than just continue to say that you went into the hospital for “phase 1” of your physical? You realize that makes no sense?

Trump: It doesn’t have to make sense. If I say it, it’s the truth for those dummies out there. Anything else is just “fake news.” Anyway, my TV network will back me up and the people who watch it don’t watch any other news source. Fox is Trumpworld. My supporters will believe me rather than what they hear or see. They cheer me when I say that at my rallies, which are the biggest the world has ever seen.

Ivanka: Daddy, that gets me to why I came over to see you. I’m starting to worry. Witness after witness has come out publicly and said that you held up $400 million in aid to the Ukraine, our ally, to force them to start a bogus investigation into Biden, your most formidable opponent in 2020, and you didn’t release it until a few days after the whistleblower called you out. It looks really bad, like bribery and extortion.

Trump: The Ukraine is just another s***hole country. If the Ukraine wants my money to fight my friend Putin, they have to do what I demand.

Ivanka: But the money isn’t yours. Congress appropriated it to ensure national security, not get you elected. It’s not your right to stop the funds from going there. Is it?

Trump: I’m President; I can do anything I want. Who’s going to stop me? Those gutless GOP politicians? It’s not their party, and they better darn well know it or retire like Speaker Ryan did. It’s mine and I tell them what to do. They work for me, and I can fire them just by campaigning against them in the primaries

Ivanka: But what about separation of powers? We have three branches of government with equal and separate authority.

Trump: McConnell is scared to death of me, and I’m stacking the federal courts with my guys, regardless of their qualifications

Ivanka: Don’t you worry that your base may figure out what’s really going on? That you say things that are not accurate and are inconsistent with your actions?

Trump: You mean like they did with immigration? I had Trump Tower in Manhattan built by illegal Polish immigrants. I got my wife her citizenship as well as her elderly parents. But I tell these rubes we have too many people coming into the country, and the dummies believe anything I say. I’m playing the base the same way I played my partners in the Atlantic City casinos who got left holding the bag when they went bankrupt.

Ivanka: So far, that’s been true. But what if it ever changes? What if the base stops supporting you and the GOP politicians start to think for themselves?

Trump: You’ve got to understand how this really works, baby. I told Rudy to get it done so I can blame him if there’s a problem. Remember how I set up my last lawyer, Cohen? That jailbird thought he was so smart, but he was just a sucker. And so is Rudy. It’s win or lose; there’s no gray. And, I always win

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Working So Hard To Keep Our Leaders In Luxury https://likethedew.com/2020/01/03/working-so-hard-to-keep-our-leaders-in-luxury/ https://likethedew.com/2020/01/03/working-so-hard-to-keep-our-leaders-in-luxury/#respond Fri, 03 Jan 2020 16:50:00 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=72679 Mick Jagger, even by the mid-70s, was regarded as one of the beautiful people. Wanting for nothing. But he did recognize the frustrations of those who had next-to-nothing and yearned for something more -- lots more if that's okay. On "Luxury," from the Rolling Stones' 1974 album It's Only Rock 'n Roll, Jagger lays out the resentment felt by a working stiff, forever at a standstill.

And you can't call me lazy on a seven day a week
Make a million for the Texans, twenty dollar me
Yes, I want a gold ring, riding in a limousine
I'm working so hard, I'm working for the company
I'm working so hard to keep you in the luxury
Now listen, I'm a proud man, not a beggar walking on the street
I'm working so hard, to keep you from the poverty
I'm working so hard to keep you in the luxury, oh yeah

And here in Atlanta, the imperial bandwagon rolls on.

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Mick Jagger, even by the mid-70s, was regarded as one of the beautiful people. Wanting for nothing. But he did recognize the frustrations of those who had next-to-nothing and yearned for something more — lots more if that’s okay. On “Luxury,” from the Rolling Stones’ 1974 album It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll, Jagger lays out the resentment felt by a working stiff, forever at a standstill.

And you can’t call me lazy on a seven day a week
Make a million for the Texans, twenty dollar me
Yes, I want a gold ring, riding in a limousine
I’m working so hard, I’m working for the company
I’m working so hard to keep you in the luxury
Now listen, I’m a proud man, not a beggar walking on the street
I’m working so hard, to keep you from the poverty
I’m working so hard to keep you in the luxury, oh yeah

And here in Atlanta, the imperial bandwagon rolls on.

On November 15 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that “two luxury GMC Denalis used to chauffeur Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms around town were purchased for a combined $175,000 without the apparent authorization of Atlanta City Council, who had designated the money for police cars used by patrol officers and detectives.”

In 2017, while Kasim Reed was still Atlanta’s mayor, the City Council approved an expenditure of $2.6 million for 91 new police vehicles. $2.6 million. That’ll fill a parking lot with Dodge Chargers and Ford Explorers, but not so many Denalis. Protecting and serving gets pricier every day.

In his two terms as mayor, Reed displayed a taste for the high life, with many of his creature comforts paid for by the working stiffs. The taxpayers keep our elected officials safe, comfy and contented in their luxury.

Reed, who supported Bottoms in her pursuit of the mayor’s office, often conveyed a Trumpian attitude when he wanted something. The hell with the legislative body, and for sure, the hell with the taxpayers. There were six-figure bonuses to award his staff members. A big party at a fat-cats’ steakhouse to celebrate the mayor’s largess. High-flying travel accommodations purchased with city-issued credit cards. Don’t worry about the cost. Joe and Joanne Taxpayer have it covered.

When Bottoms became mayor in January ’18, there was, despite the closeness between her and Reed, the hope that things would get better in the transparency department. Perhaps the new mayor, regarded as a nice person, would think of serving as a privilege — not access to privileges. That notion was set aside when seven months later, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Bottoms had booked 27 rides with Carey Executive Limousine, running up a tab of over $11,000.00. Something else that doesn’t improve quality of life for the taxpayers to cover.

The same AJC story reported that Bottoms was only spending a little more than half of what Reed had on meals charged to the city.  We also learned her security detail wasn’t paying for the mayor’s dry cleaning or fast food on city charge cards as was the case when Reed was mayor. Imagine that: paying for your own lunch.

“Luxury,” a faux-reggae track recorded when Richard Nixon was president, laments a wealth gap that seems like The Great Society when compared to the fate of the 1% and the rest of us today. Forbes magazine reports there has been a 50% increase in billionaires in this country since 2010. The Washington Post reports “the top 0.1 percent of U.S. households controls 15 percent to 20 percent of wealth (economists’ estimates vary), a degree of concentration not seen since before the Great Depression.”

But Mick Jagger’s working stiff isn’t contemplating economic stats in historical terms. He’s just tired of being bossed around while his family could use a few essentials:

Harder, harder, working, working, working
I think it’s such a strange thing, giving me concern
Half the world it got nothing the other half got money to burn
My woman need a new dress, my daughter got to go to school
I’m working so hard, I’m working for the company, oh, yeah

Working stiffs in this city who pay local taxes through a variety of means on a daily basis should look back fondly at Shirley Franklin and her mayoral administration (2002-10). Franklin had a Ford Taurus at her command, not a luxury SUV. She also showed her humility in simple ways, like showing up at the city’s jazz festival in Piedmont Park without an entourage, just a lawn chair. Franklin found a spot to plant the chair and then just grooved to the music. Sadly, the example Shirley set has hardly made an impression on today’s most prominent officials. Instead we look back at a time when politicians recognized the wonders of the common touch.

Former Atlanta Mayor Sam Massell, who served one term in the early ’70s, told us he got around in a Lincoln Continental with one police officer in tow. His predecessor, Ivan Allen, Jr., showed up at the riots in the Summerhill community in 1966 with one high-ranking police officer. It was a gutsy thing to do, given the temper of the times. We were in the decade of assassinations. Knowing he was resented by Summerhill residents, Allen still walked through the crowd, then climbed on top of a police car and asked the people to go home so no one else would get hurt.

These days we can visualize security clearing a path for a mayor’s SUV to roll through as she waves at the unhappy citizens with her doors locked and windows rolled up.

We shouldn’t resent measures to keep our elected officials safe. This is a democratic republic, not a totalitarian state like the ones Trumpsters admire. Many of us who would have never considered voting for Ronald Reagan were saddened when he was shot and were grateful when he recovered. We shouldn’t settle matters with bullets, which begs one more question: Can we apply the same efforts used to keep officials safe to insuring the safety of school children? Perhaps Republican officeholders, counting their contributions from the NRA, can give us an answer.

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A more perfect union https://likethedew.com/2019/12/31/a-more-perfect-union/ https://likethedew.com/2019/12/31/a-more-perfect-union/#respond Tue, 31 Dec 2019 15:00:17 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=72665

Current partisan politics frequently returns to questions and debates about the supreme law of the land—The Constitution—as it should, because two articles of impeachment against Donald Trump passed on December 18, 2019. This affirmed an ugly truth about Trump’s illegitimate use of the office of the White House. Trump will go down in history for his transgressions. 

Forget the bizarre Republicans like Barry Loudermilk who defended the crimes by comparing Trump with Jesus. The greater offense is the near instantaneous promises from Republican gargoyles like Mitch McConnell, who has publicly declared that he will work as a member of Trump’s defense team and forgo his oath as a juror to perform an impartial Senate trial based upon evidence and facts. 

Lines from Trump loyalists that keep being repeated ad nauseam assert that the goal of impeachment is to annul the votes of 63 million Americans because the left hates the right. However, the key principles of the Constitution could not be more clear.

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Current partisan politics frequently returns to questions and debates about the supreme law of the land—The Constitution—as it should, because two articles of impeachment against Donald Trump passed on December 18, 2019. This affirmed an ugly truth about Trump’s illegitimate use of the office of the White House. Trump will go down in history for his transgressions. 

Forget the bizarre Republicans like Barry Loudermilk who defended the crimes by comparing Trump with Jesus. The greater offense is the near instantaneous promises from Republican gargoyles like Mitch McConnell, who has publicly declared that he will work as a member of Trump’s defense team and forgo his oath as a juror to perform an impartial Senate trial based upon evidence and facts. 

Lines from Trump loyalists that keep being repeated ad nauseam assert that the goal of impeachment is to annul the votes of 63 million Americans because the left hates the right. However, the key principles of the Constitution could not be more clear.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. Article. I. Section. 1. All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives. Section. 2. The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature. No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen. Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be

Impeachment is not an effort to annul a vote, because it is clearly written as the means to respond to Presidential unconstitutional offenses. Allowing Trump to cheat in elections is blatantly in violation of our Constitution. 

But if there were even a shred of honesty in the fake claim of a desire to protect the right to vote then Republicans would stop taking steps to discourage, limit, and restrict access to voting. They would stop justifying disenfranchisement on fraudulent claims on abuses happening domestically and they would take strong action to limit the well documented and systematic efforts of foreign states to interfere with our democratic processes. They would stop calling me a “hater” for insisting that we safeguard our institutions and honor our esteemed principle that we are all equal under the law. 

“Establish justice”
Current events are frustrating absurdity. Removing Trump from office is a process clearly defined and instituted for responding to high crimes and misdemeanors; abusing the office of the White House and obstructing Congress qualify. These crimes are treated seriously because the power of people—through their vote—is of paramount importance to the function of a democratic republic. I have a deep concern for the continued dereliction of the oaths sworn by elected officials who refuse to serve the American public, honor the Constitution, or serve in the impartial and fair roles assigned to them to prevent any president from acting outside the law, to prevent Trump from being above the law. 

“Insure domestic tranquility”
Trump’s puppets assert that the 63 million people who voted for him have a right for their voices to be heard, but what about the people who voted for the candidate who won the popular vote? Where has the recognition of the mandate of the almost 66 million people who present different values, needs, and desires been reflected? Trump is bound to serve all Americans, but he only serves himself by rewarding those who are loyal to him and punishing opposition—even if it means bullying children. A deeper look presents an ugly betrayal of American elections and the right to vote. But even before he was impeached—the entirety of his tenure in office—has all been an effort to divide the country one bigoted lie after another.

“Provide for the common defense”
Trump never matured into the role of serving all Americans, and he never tried to. His xenophobic rants and juvenile bullying have inspired increases in hate crimes and threatened the security of all Americans. Trump treatment has no moral bottom, his condemnation is nonpartisan, he has insults for everyone: POWs, Gold Star families, those with physical and mental disabilities. His defenders ignore their obligation to put the country first; the only defense is the one provided to the master they fear. He does not understand common good; he only sees personal gain. He can betray any ally for the right price, no matter how grotesque, and each time he gets away with it he sinks to a new low and brings us along. Compromise and collaboration are absent from his toolbox, but these are the very skills required to hold civilized society together.

“Promote the general welfare”
Republicans continue to block measure after measure to protect the integrity of elections. They do nothing to rebuke the ongoing requests Trump makes that foreign states should interfere in U.S. elections. It is not just the core of the articles of impeachment, it is the single most important protection of American democracy as whole—it is clear winning is what they are concerned with—national security does not even register as an afterthought to such a hypocrisy. Meanwhile national and international epidemics are only getting worse. Global climate change is only a joke to a man who does not understand much beyond fiscal quarter profiteering at any cost, but the consequences are real and indisputable to those with any knowledge of science.

“Secure the blessings of liberty”
It is not hate to affirm that the President is not above the law. It is a love for my country that causes me to continue to demand action in the Russian campaign to interfere with the 2016 Presidential election—an the impeachable intention to do so again in 2020. It is moral courage that compels me to continue to join with millions of fellow Americans in protesting the urgent needs of the day, like public safety, national security, human rights, etc., which are being categorically ignored by an increasingly fascist leader and his spineless sycophants. Do not obfuscate, opposition to Trump is not the cause of the push to remove him from office; his crimes are the cause, and there has been no challenge to the evidence or facts. The only recourse at this point is removing everyone who fails to put the country — The Constitution — ahead of party from office.

The tools available to the public are clear. Trump’s defenders must be voted out. Trump, however, has stated that he is not sure he’ll voluntarily give up the power he wields. All citizens must be united in the common goal of holding Donald Trump accountable to the law. We can resist his efforts to divide us; we can be civilized though he refuses to. We can take care of those impacted most significantly by his bigoted and failing policies. We can take heed of the wisdom of our heroes like Martin Luther King Jr. “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Our institutions are weakened now by Trump and his coterie, but we must stay strong, our democracy depends on us.

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Naughty Girls And Petite Fours On Cheshire Bridge Road https://likethedew.com/2019/12/31/naughty-girls-and-petite-fours-on-cheshire-bridge-road/ https://likethedew.com/2019/12/31/naughty-girls-and-petite-fours-on-cheshire-bridge-road/#respond Tue, 31 Dec 2019 14:55:22 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=72649 Naughty Girls Lingerie and Uptown Novelties BuildingThe furniture and other accouterments at Naughty Girls Lingerie and Uptown Novelties on Cheshire Bridge Road were carried out into the parking lot and trucked away a few months ago. A gentleman in charge of clearing the building said the tenants had fallen behind on the rent. Times are tough for the sex industry along Cheshire Bridge. The landlord wasn’t getting paid and just across the street, Onyx, a strip club open for most of this century, is now closed. For a few weeks a sign out front said “closed for repairs.” Now that message is gone — in fact the sign is also gone. And the repairs? On dozens of trips past the club in the last month, no activity by the hammer and nail crowd has been spotted.

The Naughty Girls Lingerie/Uptown Novelties building is next door to the Colonnade, still a thriving restaurant but rumored to be on the way out if naughty developers get their way. That story has been circulating for a few years now. The people working at the Colonnade say they aren’t going anywhere, but look up and down the street from the fabled restaurant – change is afoot.

Hundreds of new apartments line Cheshire Bridge from Windemere to Faulkner. Also nearing completion adjacent to Cheshire Bridge and Piedmont are clusters of posh units, right behind Johnny’s Pizza, on down Manchester to Lambert. The side streets once known only to the savviest drivers taking shortcuts are now home to condos and townhouses going for half a million and more. The Manchester complex, developed by Hedgewood, has 45 townhouses going up. Most are three-story jobs and 43 of the 45 are already sold or under contract.

Further down Cheshire Bridge at the former site of Alfredo’s Italian Restaurant is Accent Morningside. It’s a sprawling luxury apartments complex overlooking the Morningside Nature Preserve. Over 200 units bringing Atlantans closer to nature. The quasi-pastoral life starts at around $1,400.00 a month.

Another big complex is going up at Cheshire Bridge and Faulkner, just above the nondescript office building which used to house Web IV Studios, where Lynyrd Skynyrd, Brick, Frankie Miller, Melissa Manchester and Peabo Bryson recorded during the ’70s.  In 1977 Paul Davis recorded his biggest hit, “I Go Crazy,” at Web IV. “I Go Crazy” was no doubt the most successful song ever recorded at the studio as it spent 40 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #7.

Crazy, of course, is the operative word on Cheshire Bridge Road these days. Residents in the surrounding neighborhoods have been unhappy over the streetwalkers and adult arousal shops along the boulevard but they may be unhappier when all the new residents — with cars as appendages — settle in. The sex industry will seem quite innocuous compared to the additional time sitting in traffic.

Rhodes Bakery from 1953

In 1953, when Atlanta streets ran differently with fewer cars by the thousands, Cheshire Bridge Road was part of Buford Highway. Since that time Rhodes Bakery has stood at 1783 Cheshire Bridge. It’s a plain-looking brick building, plain inside and out. But there’s nothing plain about the cakes, petit fours, cookies, cheese straws and other treats that Tom Rhodes and his staff bake five days a week.

Tom Rhodes was just a kid when his family moved the business from its location at Piedmont and Monroe (then called Boulevard). Through all the changes, he’s missed little that’s happened along Cheshire Bridge and he’s tried to have a positive impact on whatever’s gone down. Long a boulevard of shopping centers, fast-food joints as well as fine restaurants, a new mix of businesses up and down the stretch offered various goods and services. Hastings Nursery opened in the ’50s. Up on a hill was a fortune teller. Close by was a cooking school. Some light industrial. Strip clubs. Gay bars. The history on Cheshire Bridge Road is meaningful to Atlanta’s LGBTQ community. Now “Rainbow flags” wave in front of many restaurants in the Midtown and Buckhead area, but that wasn’t the case as recently as a decade or so back. Few mainstream restaurants in the city were nearly as hospitable to Gays as the Colonnade. That loyalty is still recognized and it’s still reciprocated.

Newcomers to our country found Cheshire Bridge a welcoming place to serve food from their native lands. In a sense, Cheshire Bridge Road has had everything although some believe it has had nothing but trouble. Such people don’t know the meaning of trouble and they sure don’t know the meaning of community.

Trouble doesn’t get to Tom Rhodes. “We have no trouble,” he says. The biggest problem he’s dealt with has been the homeless getting into his dumpster out back, looking for food. He’ll chase them out of the dumpster but then have them come in the bakery. “We feed ’em all …. If someone comes in hungry, we’ll give them rolls or something,” Rhodes said.

Then he acknowledges the changes pressing hard on Cheshire Bridge Road. There will be more condos and townhouses. Traffic will not get any lighter. But he knows many of the new people coming in give the area more color and personality. Looking out his big windows, he says, “It’s a real diverse crowd. Business is good. Lots of foot activity. The streetwalkers. Moms with strollers. Joggers.” Then he remembered a day when a guy asked for some food. There was a spread of meatloaf and sides in the break room. “We prepared the guy a plate but he said, ‘No thanks, I’m a vegetarian.'”Hopefully the guy thought to ask for some cheese straws. They’re better than any meatloaf.

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When They Were Truly The Atlanta Braves https://likethedew.com/2019/12/25/when-they-were-truly-the-atlanta-braves/ https://likethedew.com/2019/12/25/when-they-were-truly-the-atlanta-braves/#respond Wed, 25 Dec 2019 21:09:09 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=72611 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution downtown I stopped for breakfast at the Silver Skillet on 14th Street, near Georgia Tech. While there I occupied myself with coffee, eggs, grits, biscuits and that morning's edition of the AJC. There was news on the business pages that the newspaper would be getting a new publisher soon. Roger S. Kintzel would take Dennis Berry's place with Berry moving to Cox Headquarters north of the city. Unlike others who got "promoted" to Cox, Berry would actually accomplish great things for the sprawling company. Some saw a move to Cox as a step closer to retirement while Berry saw it as a collection of enticing challenges.]]> October 28, 1995. It was an overcast Saturday morning in Atlanta. On my way in to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution downtown I stopped for breakfast at the Silver Skillet on 14th Street, near Georgia Tech. While there I occupied myself with coffee, eggs, grits, biscuits and that morning’s edition of the AJC.

There was news on the business pages that the newspaper would be getting a new publisher soon. Roger S. Kintzel would take Dennis Berry’s place with Berry moving to Cox Headquarters north of the city. Unlike others who got “promoted” to Cox, Berry would actually accomplish great things for the sprawling company. Some saw a move to Cox as a step closer to retirement while Berry saw it as a collection of enticing challenges.

photo of the 1995 World Series Commissioner's Trophy on display in the Ivan Allen Jr. Braves Museum and Hall of Fame at Turner FieldBut the big news that day wasn’t the corporate carousel at the local newspaper; not hardly. What truly captivated Atlantans  was Game 6 of the World Series, to be played in Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium that evening. The Atlanta Braves had a 3-2 edge over the Cleveland Indians, needing just one more victory to be World Champions of Baseball for the first time since 1957 when they played in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

David Justice, the Braves’ brilliant but sometimes-controversial right fielder, married to actress Halle Berry at the time, contemplated how local fans would react if the Braves failed to win a fourth game.  The Braves coming up short again, just as they did in the 1991 and 1992 World Series. It was the top story in that day’s paper.

Justice was quoted in the headline as asking,”What Happens If We Don’t Win?” He then answered the question, “They’ll Run Us Out of Atlanta.”

We had another 40 hours or so to see if the city would lose a ball club in such rare fashion. In the meantime, Atlantans could spend their anxieties as that evening’s game approached.

“Hooray For The Bulldog” ….  Advertising sales people rarely worked Saturdays, usually just once a year. That day I was assigned “dog duty,” meaning I would assist in reviewing the ads in the early edition of the Sunday newspaper, referred to in the business as the “bulldog.”

Normally it was a routine task. One might find a half dozen incorrect or off-kilter ads in the 200-plus pages but as technology improved, there were seldom that many. Doing the dog some ten years earlier was a different story, but production changes had made the Saturday morning task much easier.

But this was a different Saturday morning. The Atlanta Braves were in a World Series that they were likely to win, even though Cleveland had a daunting lineup. The AJC not only had additional Braves coverage; the paper had daily special sections throughout the Braves’ post-season.

Advertisers came in big-time, purchasing additional ads throughout the paper and especially in the sports and Braves sections. So there were dozens of more ads to check out. Not only that, but on that day, we had to work with the composing department in coordinating which ads ran in the Sunday and Monday papers, based on whether the Braves won or lost the games — and the series itself.

If the Braves won the World Series, headlines in the ads would read something like “Congratulations to Our World Champions.” If they failed to win the series again, the ads would be headline with “Thanks Braves for Another Great Season,” or something along those lines.

Joe Winter, a manager at one of the suburban offices, worked with me on aligning the ads. After a time, it all looked simple enough, just a bit tedious. The people in composing were on top of it. They had been through similar situations before. The guys back there could be a cantankerous bunch at times but they were pros and most helpful. Many a time they would pull my butt from a sling, making a correction on an ad just before the papers rolled.

The October 29, 1995 edition of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution rolled off the presses perfectly. There were no complaints about any of the ads and there certainly weren’t any about the front page news of the day. The headline said it all: WORLD CHAMPS!

The Braves won the sixth game, 1-0. Tom Glavine pitched a masterful game, allowing only one hit in eight innings. Mark Wohlers pitched the ninth inning, getting the save as center fielder Marquis Grissom  made a running catch of Carlos Baerga’s fly ball.

hoto of the 1995 World Series Commissioner's Trophy on display in the Ivan Allen Jr. Braves Museum and Hall of Fame at Turner Field“Atlanta, the Braves have given you a championship,” Braves radio announcer Skip Carey joyfully proclaimed. It was the first major professional sports championship ever for the city.

Atlanta Braves 1. Cleveland Indians 0.

By the way, just to make sure the Braves would not be “run out of Atlanta,” David Justice belted a home run to lead off the bottom of the sixth inning. Justice knew his baseball and he had obviously learned a bit from his wife about dramatic flair. What great and crazy days those were.

The Braves now play by Cumberland Mall. The real “Atlanta” Braves are sorely missed.

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