LikeTheDew.com https://likethedew.com A journal of progressive Southern culture and politics Tue, 04 Aug 2020 11:39:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 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 Immigration and Melania Trump, the new Einstein https://likethedew.com/2020/08/04/immigration-and-melania-trump-the-new-einstein/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=immigration-and-melania-trump-the-new-einstein https://likethedew.com/2020/08/04/immigration-and-melania-trump-the-new-einstein/#respond Tue, 04 Aug 2020 11:39:36 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=74221

Florida is a true immigrant melting pot. My grandfather moved to Miami in the 70s and one of the first things he did was learn Spanish (not hard since he was a French immigrant himself).  

President Trump’s always counted on Florida’s electoral votes; that’s why he recently moved his official residence to that state. But a CNN poll shows him behind Biden, 51-38, a real problem for Trump.  

According to pollster Harry Enten: “Trump is behind in a state no Republican has won the presidency without in 96 years.” Much of this is due to COVID-19; a new Quinnipiac study indicates that only 36% of Floridians approve of his handling of school openings. But I also believe his hypocritical stance on immigration in a state full of immigrants may not have helped him either.  

On immigration, our President is duplicitous… no surprise. He hates immigration (especially of people of color) but has married two immigrants.  

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Florida is a true immigrant melting pot. My grandfather moved to Miami in the 70s and one of the first things he did was learn Spanish (not hard since he was a French immigrant himself).  

President Trump’s always counted on Florida’s electoral votes; that’s why he recently moved his official residence to that state. But a CNN poll shows him behind Biden, 51-38, a real problem for Trump.  

According to pollster Harry Enten: “Trump is behind in a state no Republican has won the presidency without in 96 years.” Much of this is due to COVID-19; a new Quinnipiac study indicates that only 36% of Floridians approve of his handling of school openings. But I also believe his hypocritical stance on immigration in a state full of immigrants may not have helped him either.  

On immigration, our President is duplicitous… no surprise. He hates immigration (especially of people of color) but has married two immigrants.  

caricature of Melania Trump

Pre-Donald, minor-league model Melania had temporary work permits.  So, how did Melania of Slovenia gain entrance and obtain citizenship, short circuiting the usual visa process? David Leopold, past President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, stated (Washington Post): “What did she submit? There are a lot of questions about how she procured entry into the United States.”   

Via Donald, she obtained a top immigration attorney and miraculously got “EB-1” status. The EB-1 “Einstein visa” is given to top people in their field who have:  “an extraordinary ability, are an outstanding professor or researcher, or are a multinational executive or manager.” Only .003% of immigrants were accepted that year through this program, including only 4 other people from Slovenia. (WashingtonPost.com)   

In 2006 she became a citizen and her Slovenian parents entered as “permanent residents”. By then Melania was a Trump, not a Knauss. They are now very close to becoming citizens themselves.   

Trump never said it was wrong to bring them over under the “chain migration” provision that he wants to abolish, tweeting: “CHAIN MIGRATION cannot be allowed to be part of any legislation on Immigration!”  It’s funny how that works, isn’t it?  

At a time when our President decries illegal immigrants as “animals”, it is vital to understand how he plays by a different set of rules when it comes to immigration. And, it did not start with Melania.  

Trump Tower, where Trump lived before 2016, was built in 1980 by Polish illegal immigrants. Trump hired a contractor to build the Tower, standard procedure. The contractor hired the illegal immigrants, but per Time magazine: “Trump sought out the Polish workers when he saw them on another job, instigated the creation of the company that paid them and negotiated the hours they would work.”   

To make matters worse, the contractor failed to fully pay the workers. The matter ended up in court, no rarity for Trump related ventures. The Polish workers won the case and were paid $254,523.59 by the contractor.   

But the matter was not yet completely resolved, with their pension fund money still up in the air.  “Finally, in 1998, when the question of whether Trump was the legal employer of the Poles was set to go to a jury trial, Trump settled. No one knows how much he ended up paying to compensate the union pension fund.” (Time

Criminals who “infest our country” is how Trump describes illegal immigrants. If that is true, why did he seek out illegal immigrants to work on his centerpiece Tower? When will he inscribe: “built by an infestation of rapists, criminal and animals” on the front of that Tower?    

Even after his impeachment, Trump’s approval ratings are at an all-time high with his base, especially older white men. When will these supporters come to their senses and say enough is enough? Frankly, despite the polls, I am not optimistic due to obvious voter suppression. The only way Trump will lose in November is if brown and black people in swing states like Florida get out and vote. Only time will tell if that becomes a reality.

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The Trump Nightmare https://likethedew.com/2020/07/27/the-trump-nightmare/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-trump-nightmare https://likethedew.com/2020/07/27/the-trump-nightmare/#respond Mon, 27 Jul 2020 12:22:32 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=74216 By now it is an established fact that Donald Trump may, or may not, accept the results of the presidential election. He will definitely accept a win, and he “will have to see” about accepting a defeat. If he is soundly defeated, as the current polls suggest, he may leave the White House quietly. But if the vote is close, there’s no telling how Trump might react—and, more importantly, how his supporters in Washington and nearby Red states might react.

In a worst-case scenario, Trump would refuse to step down and launch a cavalcade of lawsuits to protest the “rigged” election. Republican former Lt. Governor Ted Strickland of Colorado offered this nightmare scenario: “I fear this election could lead to civil unrest in this country because Trump would happily be a cheerleader for that kind of response. We are facing circumstances in this country we have probably never faced in our history, because we have a president who has no regard for our constitutional system of government. ... He is fully capable of putting his own ego and perceived self-interest above what’s right for the country.” Indeed he is.

But even before we get to November, there’s another nightmare scenario that could decisively shape the country’s political future: Trump’s use of emergency powers to create a sense of national crisis. Former Senator and presidential candidate Gary Hart writes in the New York Times (July 23): “We have recently come to learn of at least a hundred documents authorizing extraordinary presidential powers in the case of a national emergency, virtually dictatorial powers without congressional or judicial checks and balances. President Trump alluded to these authorities in March when he said, ‘I have the right to do a lot of things that people don’t even know about.’”

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By now it is an established fact that Donald Trump may, or may not, accept the results of the presidential election. He will definitely accept a win, and he “will have to see” about accepting a defeat. If he is soundly defeated, as the current polls suggest, he may leave the White House quietly. But if the vote is close, there’s no telling how Trump might react—and, more importantly, how his supporters in Washington and nearby Red states might react.

In a worst-case scenario, Trump would refuse to step down and launch a cavalcade of lawsuits to protest the “rigged” election. Republican former Lt. Governor Ted Strickland of Colorado offered this nightmare scenario: “I fear this election could lead to civil unrest in this country because Trump would happily be a cheerleader for that kind of response. We are facing circumstances in this country we have probably never faced in our history, because we have a president who has no regard for our constitutional system of government. … He is fully capable of putting his own ego and perceived self-interest above what’s right for the country.” Indeed he is.

But even before we get to November, there’s another nightmare scenario that could decisively shape the country’s political future: Trump’s use of emergency powers to create a sense of national crisis. Former Senator and presidential candidate Gary Hart writes in the New York Times (July 23): “We have recently come to learn of at least a hundred documents authorizing extraordinary presidential powers in the case of a national emergency, virtually dictatorial powers without congressional or judicial checks and balances. President Trump alluded to these authorities in March when he said, ‘I have the right to do a lot of things that people don’t even know about.’”

Hart notes that these secret powers, contained in “at least a hundred documents,” “may include suspension of habeas corpus, surveillance, home intrusion, arrest without a judicial warrant, collective if not mass arrests and more; some could violate constitutional protections.”

Considering what Trump has previously said and done, these possibilities are by no means overdrawn. His expansive view of presidential power, supported by Attorney General Barr and other sycophants, reflects complete disregard for the Constitution. 

Trump said on April 13: “When somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total. And that’s the way it’s got to be. It’s total.” 

And he has acted like that’s the case on immigration, the Mexico border wall, the deployment of federal agents to US cities, and of course the refusal to submit to Congressional oversight. This man, as I have written many times, and as many conservatives are now coming to believe, is the greatest threat to the security and well-being of the United States.

Gary Hart writes that the secret documents grant “virtually dictatorial powers without congressional or judicial checks and balances.” 

We have no idea about the origin and scope of these powers, why they are secret, whether or not they carry any limitations, and who beside a president has access to them. Absent this knowledge, we are at the mercy of a would-be dictator who believes what’s good for Trump is good for America—and therefore, that resorting to emergency powers is entirely right and proper.

A few days after Trump’s election in 2016, I wrote about the “nightmare” we were about to experience. “Soon enough we will know the full extent of the damage Donald Trump will exact on the political system and society.” It’s all come true. But we must do everything possible to prevent this latest nightmare from coming true, for it will surely mean the end of the American experiment.

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Georgia and COVID-19: I hate to see what doing it wrong looks like https://likethedew.com/2020/07/23/georgia-and-covid-19-i-hate-to-see-what-doing-it-wrong-looks-like/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=georgia-and-covid-19-i-hate-to-see-what-doing-it-wrong-looks-like https://likethedew.com/2020/07/23/georgia-and-covid-19-i-hate-to-see-what-doing-it-wrong-looks-like/#respond Thu, 23 Jul 2020 20:49:11 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=74199 “Georgia has been a great example of a state that’s done it all right.”-Trump 

I’m the former Director of Health Planning for Georgia and spent decades at high executive levels in for profit corporate healthcare. Trump has misled the nation once again when praised Georgia’s response to the virus.

Some social media sites are very accurate regarding COVID-19 information; but most are not, with many on the right showing gross political bias. That causes a lot of misinformation to float around and be self-perpetuating on social media. That misinformation is one reason why Georgia and America are so far behind many other states and nations in their COVID-19 responses.

Here are some “down to earth” fairly easy to understand Pandemic facts ...

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“Georgia has been a great example of a state that’s done it all right.”

Trump

I’m the former Director of Health Planning for Georgia and spent decades at high executive levels in for profit corporate healthcare. Trump has misled the nation once again when praised Georgia’s response to the virus.

Some social media sites are very accurate regarding COVID-19 information; but most are not, with many on the right showing gross political bias. That causes a lot of misinformation to float around and be self-perpetuating on social media. That misinformation is one reason why Georgia and America are so far behind many other states and nations in their COVID-19 responses.

Here are some “down to earth” fairly easy to understand Pandemic facts:

caricature of Donald Trump was created by DonkeyHotey
  • How well has the USA done in halting the spread of the virus versus the rest of the world: the USA is 4th in population and has 25% of the world’s COVID cases;
  • How much have COVID-19 cases increased in Georgia over the last few months: the figures at CovidTracking.com show a very significant rise in deaths, hospitalizations and cases through 7-23-2020.
  • What are the specific Georgia COVID-19 numbers as of 7/23: Georgia has had almost 152,302 cases with over 15,922 hospitalizations and 3,335 deaths. 
  • How have  Georgia COVID numbers risen over the last few months: on 3-6-2020, there were 0 cases; by 4-1-2020 there were 4,638 cases and 139 deaths; by 5-1-2020, 27,270 cases with 1,154 deaths; by 6-1-2020 47,618 cases and 2,074 deaths; by 7-1-2020, 84,237 cases and 2,827 deaths; by 7-23-2020, cases rose quickly to 152,302 and deaths to 3,335. It appears that for Georgia the final number of cases for July will be double that of June.
  • What is the percent of Americans who get virus and die from COVID-19: 3.7% overall as of 7-20-2020. 
  • What percent of seniors who have the virus die: it’s difficult to obtain CDC’s figures for the USA ( objectively, it should not be, the reader can surmise the politics behind why it is hard to get here in the USA and not in other nations); in Italy, for instance, the rate is 12.8% for those 70-79 and 20.2% for those 80+.
  • What’s “Herd Immunity” for the USA: this means 60%-70% of the American population getting the disease;
  • Which Americans are at high risk: seniors plus those with diabetes, asthma, lung disease, obesity, and many other medical issues.
  • What’s the US Population over 60, seniors: 73 million Americans are over 60 (another 22 million are 55-59).
  • How many other Americans are at high risk: KFF estimates the number to be 41 million (not readily available on the CDC site but it should be, again, the reader can surmise why it is not in the USA but is for other nations).
  • What is the rate of “persistent symptoms” for those recovering? Per a recent JAMA article, 87%.
  • Was there a pre-existing national strategic plan to confront the crisis: Yes, the previous administration’s National Security Council constructed a 69 page “Playbook for Early Response” regarding how to prepare for and contain pandemics. However, it was never used by the current Administration, which has never explained why or had its own plan.
  • What could the USA (and Georgia) have done much earlier to prevent the spread: many things, including but not limited to: establishment of a national strategic plan to fight the epidemic; accurate, coordinated and consistent  information dissemination at the Federal level; early testing, tracing of those infected, isolation of those exposed; national directives to businesses prohibiting them from selling preventive equipment overseas and mandating that they convert production capacities to produce COVID-19 related items (masks, gloves, ventilators, and so forth); and centralized, rational national purchasing/distribution by the Federal government of PPE and supplies used to fight the virus.
  • Is a mask effective: a mask will help to prevent other people from catching the virus from you; there is absolutely no sense in Governor Kemp prohibiting cities from requiring masks; in fact, due to the surge, he should be requiring masks when leaving the home, including in schools.
  • Is social distancing necessary: social distancing is designed to prevent you from being close enough to an infected person to catch the illness; again, there’s no reason (other than politics) why Kemp has not rescinded hos order “reopening” recreational places like bowling allies. 
  • Why isolate young people with the virus: young people are spreading COVID-19, sometimes to high risk groups (parents, grandparents and those with pre-existing conditions).
  • Are there drugs proven effective in treatment of COVID-19: numerous trials are under way, but there is no medically accepted “miracle cure” (and that includes hydroxychloroquine).
  • Are there any home remedies that can prevent or cure COVID-19: no, including ingesting/shooting bleach, using hand dryers, rinsing with saline, taking antibiotics, bathing and going out into the sun or cold.

    There are many other common misconceptions about the virus. Surprisingly, these misconceptions still exist six months after the virus hit our shores. The reader can make his or her own conclusions about why these incorrect assumptions are so widespread based on the facts listed above, including failure to act on the national and state levels.

    The reader must also make an evaluation of where we in the US (and Georgia) stand versus other developed nations/states regarding our virus preparation and response. It is critical that your assessment be factored into your vote in November if we expect improvement in both the response to this virus, which will be with us for many years, and other state and national emergencies.
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Standing up to the armed and inarticulate https://likethedew.com/2020/07/23/standing-up-to-the-armed-and-inarticulate/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=standing-up-to-the-armed-and-inarticulate https://likethedew.com/2020/07/23/standing-up-to-the-armed-and-inarticulate/#respond Thu, 23 Jul 2020 20:11:20 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=74186 Here’s a quietly unsettling moment from the current cries for change churning across the nation:

A teenage girl is at a grocery store in the small town of Marion, Virginia. Her brother, Travon Brown, age 17, had recently become both beloved and hated — the center of controversy — in the town, because he had organized a protest against racism in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. This was one of thousands of such protests across the country, but the majority-white town was nonetheless riled up over this affront, according to the Washington Post, which took a long, deep look at events there.

Indeed, a neighbor had burned a cross on the family’s lawn after the protest and wound up getting arrested. That was by no means the end of the unrest. At the store, the Post informed us, Ray’Kia “was confronted by a stranger . . . who asked the 16-year-old if she was Travon’s sister and then pulled up his shirt to reveal a handgun.”

Get it?

This is the USA, land of the Second Amendment. The stranger wasn’t threatening to murder a young, African-American woman (I don’t think), just tossing a warning into her awareness that armed, white America will never change. Guns are the speech of the inarticulate.

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Here’s a quietly unsettling moment from the current cries for change churning across the nation:

A teenage girl is at a grocery store in the small town of Marion, Virginia. Her brother, Travon Brown, age 17, had recently become both beloved and hated — the center of controversy — in the town, because he had organized a protest against racism in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. This was one of thousands of such protests across the country, but the majority-white town was nonetheless riled up over this affront, according to the Washington Post, which took a long, deep look at events there.

Indeed, a neighbor had burned a cross on the family’s lawn after the protest and wound up getting arrested. That was by no means the end of the unrest. At the store, the Post informed us, Ray’Kia “was confronted by a stranger . . . who asked the 16-year-old if she was Travon’s sister and then pulled up his shirt to reveal a handgun.”

federal agents confronting a Portland protester

Get it?

This is the USA, land of the Second Amendment. The stranger wasn’t threatening to murder a young, African-American woman (I don’t think), just tossing a warning into her awareness that armed, white America will never change. Guns are the speech of the inarticulate.

I begin with this fleeting moment — nothing further came of it — simply because it captures both the worst and best of who we are. This was not the end of the protest movement in Marion, nor has Donald Trump’s infusion of secret, federal “police” into Portland, Oregon — with more of the same coming to other cities, including Chicago, where I live — put an end to the nation’s protest movements: the demands for change and consciousness shift. But I see a surreal symmetry here. The inarticulate but oh-so-powerful President Trump is sending the same sort of message . . . to a city, to a country.

The message can probably be summed up thus: This is a divided nation. Always has been, always will be. White people run things here and that isn’t going to change. We live in an us-vs.-them world. Get used to it. Stay in your place, whoever you are.

Trump is tapping into the same consciousness as the guy in the grocery store. American fascism is always a force waiting to be born.

As Juan Cole writes: “It now appears clear that part of that strategy is to send Federal agents dressed like Iraq War troops to Democratic-run cities, on the pretext of protecting Federal property, and then for them to attack and provoke Black Lives Matter and Defund the Police protesters, causing violence to escalate and using it . . . to scare the suburbs. The exercise also has the advantage for Trump of entrenching a new form of secret police and of turning Federal agents into instruments of his authoritarianism.”

As some writers have pointed out, it could also be Trump’s re-election strategy: “In this regard, Trump appears to be following Richard Nixon’s 1968 ‘Southern Strategy,’ perhaps even on the advice of former Nixon advisor Roger Stone,” Thom Hartmann writes. “Provoke violence, make cities burn, and then promise to keep white people safe with ‘law and order.’”

What’s crucial here is not to give them what they want, i.e., a pseudo-civil war, which will be crushed by the heavily armed “good guys” — the ones firing teargas and rubber bullets, arresting protesters for no apparent reason and throwing them into unmarked cars.

In this context, meet “Naked Athena.” Actually, she is an unidentified woman, but she was thus dubbed when photos of her appearance — wearing nothing but a face mask and a stocking cap — at a Portland protest rally last week, taken by a photographer for the Portland-based Oregonian, went public.

The photographer had been covering a protest into the wee hours last weekend when, according to the Oregonian, at nearly 2 a.m., as police officers stood in a confrontational faceoff with a crowd of protesters, suddenly “a naked woman appeared. She walked out to the intersection in front of where police were standing. . .  She paced the area near the crosswalk. She laid down, kicking up her feet. She did ballet poses.” At one point, police officers shot pepper balls at her feet. She stayed put.

Basically, everyone was stunned. After about 10 minutes, the police simply walked away.

The photographer, Dave Killen, said: “She was incredibly vulnerable. It would have been incredibly painful to be shot with any of those munitions with no clothes on.”

Perhaps what’s most stunning here is the power of vulnerability. And so I return to Travon Brown, and the second protest he organized in Marion. Yes, the protesters were met by a crowd of counter-protesters, who, as the Post reports, started shouting things at them like “Antifa sucks” and “Go home!” Anger bubbled.

“When protesters began to talk back, Travon turned and shushed them,” according to the Post. “He knelt near the front, his right fist raised to the air.” As he did so, the caustic sarcasm from the counter-protesters continued. But then . . .

“Travon began shouting ‘I love you’ across the divide, and soon all the protesters were shouting it and the faces opposite them were momentarily quiet and confused.”

And later the chief of the county sheriff’s department shook his hand, happily reporting that not a single person had been arrested.

As Jeffrey Isaac wrote, when Brown cried out “love!” . . . “he seems to have meant it in the way that Martin Luther King, Jr. meant it — not as mere sentiment of affection, but as ‘agape,’ an active performance of human solidarity, a way of engaging with one’s oppressors, and communicating with bystanders . . .”

Love — so much deeper, so much more vulnerable, so much more powerful than hate. In the long run, this is the force that will create the change so many of us are calling for.

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George, Breonna, Ahmaud, Trayvon … What Now, White America? https://likethedew.com/2020/07/22/george-breonna-ahmaud-trayvon-what-now-white-america/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=george-breonna-ahmaud-trayvon-what-now-white-america https://likethedew.com/2020/07/22/george-breonna-ahmaud-trayvon-what-now-white-america/#respond Wed, 22 Jul 2020 19:27:23 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=74175

Ten weeks before a white policeman killed George Floyd on a Minneapolis street, three white officers wearing plain clothes bashed down the Louisville door of another Black American, Breonna Taylor. A “no-knock warrant” tied to a drug investigation permitted their forced entry. 

They killed Taylor in her home in the middle of the night. When they searched for drugs, they found none. Taylor’s boyfriend was subsequently charged with assault and attempted murder since he fired his licensed weapon at the intruders, wounding one officer in the leg. The charges were dropped when his frantic 911 call was released. Roused from sleep, he had reported unknown intruders and “somebody kicked in the door and shot my girlfriend.” 

Stories of murdered Blacks are stunningly familiar even when the sites are not: Ferguson (Missouri), Brunswick (Georgia), Sanford (Florida). So many names in so many places: Fayetteville, Baltimore, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Dallas, Sacramento.... Recalling each identity and distinguishing one circumstance from another is challenging when the conclusions are the same: another Black American in the grave. 

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Ten weeks before a white policeman killed George Floyd on a Minneapolis street, three white officers wearing plain clothes bashed down the Louisville door of another Black American, Breonna Taylor. A “no-knock warrant” tied to a drug investigation permitted their forced entry. 

They killed Taylor in her home in the middle of the night. When they searched for drugs, they found none. Taylor’s boyfriend was subsequently charged with assault and attempted murder since he fired his licensed weapon at the intruders, wounding one officer in the leg. The charges were dropped when his frantic 911 call was released. Roused from sleep, he had reported unknown intruders and “somebody kicked in the door and shot my girlfriend.” 

Stories of murdered Blacks are stunningly familiar even when the sites are not: Ferguson (Missouri), Brunswick (Georgia), Sanford (Florida). So many names in so many places: Fayetteville, Baltimore, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Dallas, Sacramento…. Recalling each identity and distinguishing one circumstance from another is challenging when the conclusions are the same: another Black American in the grave. 

Collectively, they echo the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, which commemorates 4,400 racial terror lynchings between 1877 and 1950. The tally trickles upward as research identifies new names and places. But that’s all in America’s past, isn’t it? 

Breonna Taylor’s murder rose to national and international attention after George Floyd’s murder. His magnified hers. 

White America could not attribute his death to familiar explanations like showing the wrong attitude, wearing the wrong hoodie, or walking or jogging through the wrong neighborhood. Our modest, moderate, majority white society can no longer deny evidence so utterly black and white. Video of a handcuffed man breathing his last has fixed to the frontal lobe of the nation’s conscience. 

Is it a tipping point for comprehension or another unbelievable headline that, over time, white America will forget to believe? I hope the country has finally reached the critical mass of such murders so that white America pauses, lowers our defenses, and finally recognizes that justice is not equal, that Black lives have mattered little–and have never mattered equally.

In my town, Louisville’s protesters and many allies maintain a daily vigil in Jefferson Square Park across from City Hall. A local petition to rename it Breonna Taylor Park has attracted 15,000 signatures, a number growing daily. (More than 10 million have signed the change.org petition “Justice for Breonna Taylor.”) The park is a few blocks from a Civil Rights Trail that honors Sit-In sites at local stores, theatres, hotels, and restaurants during the 1950s and 1960s. 

A few blocks further, a plaque marks the site of a slave pen: “By the 1850s Kentucky was annually exporting between 2,500 and 4,000 of its slaves down river to the large plantations farther South.” Some of Louisville’s ancestors traded in human flesh, speculated on its value, and maximized profits through the free flow of capital, their human property. 

I wonder how many white tourists and locals who read these markers sigh to themselves and think, “Thank goodness that’s all over” or mutter an anodyne, “things sure are a lot better nowadays.” Yet, as William Faulkner famously wrote, “The past isn’t dead. It isn’t even past.” 

Say their names: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin … they force us to recognize that values such as equality and justice for all are ideals that we espouse more than they are facts of life that all Americans live. 

Until they are, James Baldwin’s sense of history will persist, “The story of the Negro in America is the story of America. It is not a pretty story.” Yet every story can be written with a different ending and we Americans, collectively, are the authors of this one.

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Face the facts: Donald Trump does not care about you or your kids https://likethedew.com/2020/07/22/face-the-facts-donald-trump-does-not-care-about-you-or-your-kids/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=face-the-facts-donald-trump-does-not-care-about-you-or-your-kids https://likethedew.com/2020/07/22/face-the-facts-donald-trump-does-not-care-about-you-or-your-kids/#respond Wed, 22 Jul 2020 18:47:13 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=74169

There is no easy way to tell you about the loss to our learning community. [NAME OF DECEASED] [FACTS OF DEATH] [DATE].

I know this is upsetting. I’m devastated, but I will not pretend to know what you are going through. If you have questions about [NAME OF DECEASED’S] death, please let me try to answer them. We can take as much time to talk about this as you need. Your feelings are okay. Anger, disbelief, and sadness are common, and crying is okay. …

Teacher template to report student death to classmates

This summer, American teachers are drafting templates for messages on the inevitable illness and death that Trump-ordered school openings will bring.

Teachers across America are facing special challenges in addition to those of all of their neighbors this summer. COVID-19 must be reckoned with as teachers are responsible for the safety of our children.

Despite the fact that the spread of this virus has not been contained and cases are spiking in many areas, reckless politicians and spineless lackeys are forcing the mandate: “School must reopen.” 

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There is no easy way to tell you about the loss to our learning community. [NAME OF DECEASED] [FACTS OF DEATH] [DATE].

I know this is upsetting. I’m devastated, but I will not pretend to know what you are going through. If you have questions about [NAME OF DECEASED’S] death, please let me try to answer them. We can take as much time to talk about this as you need. Your feelings are okay. Anger, disbelief, and sadness are common, and crying is okay. …

Teacher template to report student death to classmates

This summer, American teachers are drafting templates for messages on the inevitable illness and death that Trump-ordered school openings will bring.

Teachers across America are facing special challenges in addition to those of all of their neighbors this summer. COVID-19 must be reckoned with as teachers are responsible for the safety of our children.

Despite the fact that the spread of this virus has not been contained and cases are spiking in many areas, reckless politicians and spineless lackeys are forcing the mandate: “School must reopen.” 

Arizona teacher Kimberly Lopez Chavez Byrd died after teaching a summer school class. Trump’s response when asked about it: “Schools should be opened. Schools should be opened. Those kids want to go to school. You’re losing a lot of lives by keeping things closed. We saved millions of lives while we did the initial closure.”

We are seeing the poorest management of this disease in the world. When the world has lost 605,000 and the US has lost 143,000, something is utterly incompetent from the top down.

I know the sacrifices students, parents, and teachers make to ensure the promise of a better future that an education brings. Trump’s demand is nothing short of devastating cruel foolishness. 

Devastating because we know his orders will increase the duration and spread of a deadly virus that has already infected millions. 

Cruel because he refuses to care about the increased and unnecessary suffering of others. 

Foolish because he continues to trust his gut, which is frequently wrong, instead of the advances achieved through the scientific method and evidence-based decision making.

I learned of the drowning death of a student of mine in our community college, and spent hours processing what to do. There is no good way to share the bad news of a classmate who will not be returning to class, and I struggled evaluating how to make the least traumatic terrible news delivery. I decided that I could safely share he’d drowned while swimming, that people sometimes do not realize how quickly hypothermia can set in, and that the water was still quite cool despite the hot weather. I identified the resources available on campus, and sent emails to confirm my plans for making the resources available to students who wanted to utilize them.

How many times will teachers have to do this in the coming months?

I remembered the gross insensitivity I’d faced as student and the promises I’d made to do better than certain faculty. I was graded down for a presentation I gave the day my brother died, because I seemed distracted; now, as a teacher, I vowed I would do better. I did some reading on common responses and warning signs. I looked over group work and in-class activities to identify which students might have developed relationships. I spent most of the weekend to make sure I did not fail my students.

Now, of course, chances of more sickness, more hospitalization, and more deaths are more likely. When courses at my school, Cuyahoga Community College, went online after the outbreak, students described symptoms and fears. Literally all of them had worried about their exposure. Those who wanted tests could not get them. Some had waited in line, but had been turned away. Many had jobs they still needed to go to, and few felt they could adequately concentrate let alone prepare for class.

I’m grateful it has already been decided that my courses this fall will be fully online. It also gives me the opportunity to fully develop the curriculum and lesson plans. Creating alignment in my classes and delivering on learning outcomes is different in the virtual space of online learning. But there is great expertise on best practices for teaching and understanding how students learn in the remote platform environment. 

Trump’s forced reopening of schools will cause deaths of students, teachers, and their families. So I should alert everyone to The National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement, as they have guidance and advice for coping and dealing with the unthinkable. Their templates are for addressing students, parents, and staff in the unfortunate event of suicide or death from various causes. 

Thanks, Trump, and your minion DeVos, for shattering the world of education for so many, for setting back the US in so many tragic, absolutely avoidable ways. As we get closer to voting for sanity on November 3rd we won’t have to remember far back to recall why it is past time for you to step down and move aside. My duty to my students is to protect the learning environment and ending such derelict non-leadership is part of that duty that I share with teachers everywhere. 

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The Campaign in Atlanta to Keep Women off Bicycles https://likethedew.com/2020/07/20/the-campaign-in-atlanta-to-keep-women-off-bicycles/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-campaign-in-atlanta-to-keep-women-off-bicycles https://likethedew.com/2020/07/20/the-campaign-in-atlanta-to-keep-women-off-bicycles/#respond Mon, 20 Jul 2020 17:47:00 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=74128

In the Summer of 1895, one of the biggest topics of conversation in Atlanta was bicycles, specifically the question of women riding them. The “anti” side was led by James Boardman Hawthorne, a minister who had risen to some prominence in Southern Baptist circles and who was serving at Atlanta’s First Baptist Church.

Hawthorne had a reputation for wanting to keep women in their place (as he saw it). Ten years earlier, at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, he had been one of the most vocal opponents of seating two female delegates from Arkansas. “I love the ladies,” Hawthorne said, “but I dread them more.”

The preacher based his opinions on the Scriptures. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians clearly said: “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak…. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church” (14:34-35). Hawthorne was also fond of Paul’s first letter to Timothy: “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence” (2:11-12).

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In the Summer of 1895, one of the biggest topics of conversation in Atlanta was bicycles, specifically the question of women riding them. The “anti” side was led by James Boardman Hawthorne, a minister who had risen to some prominence in Southern Baptist circles and who was serving at Atlanta’s First Baptist Church.

Rev. J. B. Hawthorne, from An Unshaken <br>Trust and Other Sermons (1899)
Rev. J. B. Hawthorne, from “An Unshaken
Trust and Other Sermon”s (1899)

Hawthorne had a reputation for wanting to keep women in their place (as he saw it). Ten years earlier, at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, he had been one of the most vocal opponents of seating two female delegates from Arkansas. “I love the ladies,” Hawthorne said, “but I dread them more.”

The preacher based his opinions on the Scriptures. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians clearly said: “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak…. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church” (14:34-35). Hawthorne was also fond of Paul’s first letter to Timothy: “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence” (2:11-12).

Hawthorne cited Paul’s warnings about women when he blocked a female evangelist from speaking in his church in 1891.  Members of the church voted overwhelmingly for a resolution agreeing with Hawthorne. It was not a unanimous decision. Among the opponents was Benjamin F. Abbott, a long-time member of the church and a prominent Atlanta attorney. According to the Atlanta Constitution’s coverage of the event, Abbott and Hawthorne met in the church lobby and almost came to blows, “until the minister was induced to leave by his wife.”

Hawthorne expanded his opposition of women beyond the church: he opposed all efforts by women to move beyond their traditional roles. He described the so-called “New Woman” as “self-willed, contentious, arrogant, noisy, combative, … a hideous monstrosity.”

Hawthorne’s biggest attack on the New Woman began with a sermon on July 21, 1895. His text was from the Lord’s Prayer: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” As an example of someone who gave in to temptation, Hawthorne offered a hypothetical young woman who sees a bicycle race and wishes to participate. “Swayed by this feeling,” Hawthorne said, “she mounts a bicycle.” And then, “she realizes her disastrous mistake and begins to suffer from the unenviable notoriety of her indelicate and unwomanly conduct…. She says that it was her love of exciting pleasure that tempted her to take the false step. She is mistaken. It was not the love of pleasure, but a personal devil.”

The devil made her do it!

“Quite a little breeze has Dr. Hawthorne succeeded in stirring up by his protest against the riding of bicycles by women,” wrote Julian Harris, the young news editor for the Constitution in a column later that week. The Constitution reported daily on what quickly became the big topic of conversation in the city. There were opinions on both sides of the question. Some accused Hawthorne of sensationalism, and others agreed with him. One letter to the editor said, “The new woman is a Boston institution, opposed to all southern ideas of gentility and refinement.”

The paper reported “a strange parade” in front of Rev. Hawthorne’s home later that week when a half dozen “lady wheelists” took to the street. “As gracefully as the eagle soars these fair wheelers spun along the high embankment and smiled sweetly in the direction of the anti-crusader.”

BAD SIDE OF CYCLING: DR. HAWTHORNE POINTS IT … L L P
The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945); Jul 29, 1895;
ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Atlanta Constitution pg. 5
Click to read from a PDF

Hawthorne himself waded into the fray. “I have no time to waste on frivolous critics, who assume that whatever is new and exciting should receive public approbation,” he began a letter to the editor, before wasting time to write 600 words against those critics.

Hawthorne announced that he would preach again on the issue the following Sunday. “The public appetite has been given a keen edge by the newspaper controversies of the past week,” the Constitution reported, and it predicted that “a large congregation will gather to hear him.”

Hawthorne did not disappoint. His title was “Satanic Spiders Who Weave Webs for Human Flies.” “Many satanic spiders in Atlanta have spun beautiful webs in which to catch and destroy unsuspecting flies,” he said. Those webs could be so tempting—and so dangerous. “The characteristic weakness of the new woman is to covet the prerogatives, honors and pleasures of men, and just so far as she yields to this temptation she degrades herself, and becomes despicable in the eyes of all people of virtuous sensibilities. If there is any object on earth which makes jubilee in the realm of unclean spirits it is a ‘society woman’ in masculine habiliments straddling a bicycle, and preparing to make an exhibition of her immodesty on the thoroughfares of a great city.” Hawthorne said he was “making this fight” in order to save women who had fallen into that web and to protect “husbands … who are tired of putting their children to bed and of waiting until the noon of the night [midnight] for their bicycle riding wives to come home.”

Rev. Henry McDonald, pastor of Atlanta’s Second Baptist church, weighed in on the controversy. He said that “he hated to see innocent pleasure made into a sin” and that he “failed to see anything wrong or immoral in the mere riding of a bicycle by the ladies.”

Royal Daniel, a Constitution columnist, wrote, “Whatever may be said by moralists, we who have sisters as pure and fair and chaste as moral ever was, or ever will be, will not believe them immodest after we see them return from a pleasant spin with the blush of health upon their cheeks, with their eyes sparkling with pleasure and delight, simply because they ride wheels and wear bloomers.’

On the other hand, the Woman’s Rescue League in Boston (it “rescued” unwed mothers) passed a resolution in support of Hawthorne because “thirty per cent of the ‘fast girls’ that have come to the Rescue League for aid were bicycle riders at one time.”

first baptist church photo

The controversy, egged on by the Constitution, continued for several weeks. One of the last salvos came in early September, when Hawthorne asked the newspaper to reprint the “testimony” of Dr. Forbes Winslow, “the famous London alienist” (psychiatrist), who had been in New York recently to chair a meeting on lunacy at the International Medico-Legal Congress. Winslow was asked about women and bicycles, and his response was printed in a New York newspaper: “Horseback riding produces in women substantially the same disastrous results and temptations as does the bicycle, but not to so marked a degree.… Both exercises are too violent for the physical construction of women, and produce such conditions as lead to abnormal appetites and desires.…  Moral perversion is alarmingly on the increase.… I have no hesitation in condemning for women all those amusements or occupations which tend to take them from the nursery. That is where woman properly belongs.”

But by this time, the threat of moral perversion had lost a bit of its hold on Atlanta, and the city moved on.

A lot has changed in the last 125 years. First Baptist church, now a megachurch known as First Baptist Atlanta, moved to Dunwoody (an Atlanta suburb) in 1989, with Rev. Charles Stanley as senior pastor. Southern Baptists never took a formal stand against women on bicycles, but they continue to have issues with the New Woman. In 1984, the Southern Baptist Convention finally took a formal stand against female ordination: “We encourage the service of women in all aspects of church life and work other than pastoral functions and leadership roles entailing ordination.” And in 2000, the church said, “A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband.” Or, as Rev. Hawthorne (almost) said back in 1884, “We love the ladies, but we dread them more.”

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Tallulah Point Outlook https://likethedew.com/2020/07/20/tallulah-point-outlook/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=tallulah-point-outlook https://likethedew.com/2020/07/20/tallulah-point-outlook/#respond Mon, 20 Jul 2020 17:43:27 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=74142 An Enduring Icon Endures No More

In that precious time of boyhood summers, our family would drive from Lincoln County, Georgia, to the North Carolina Mountains. That meant a winding trip up Old US 441. Back then we had no Disney World. We got our thrills at mountain overlooks and Tallulah Gorge stopped us in our tracks. I’d dash from the car straight to the porch. Just like that I beheld the Grand Canyon. I’d stare across a wide, deep chasm, and see red-shouldered hawks riding thermals.

The old tourist stop at Tallulah Gorge looms deep in my memories, 1,000 feet deep. When passing that way I always stop. On a recent trip to the Chattooga River, I drove Old US 441 and made my way to the gorge. There, I met Mary Beth Hughes, operator of Tallulah Point Overlook. “I’ve been coming here all my life,” I told her. “So have I,” said a man overhearing me.

“Well, we’re closing at the end of July,” said Mary Beth.

Closing? A place people have been going to since 1912, closing?

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An Enduring Icon Endures No More

This building has long overlooked Tallulah Gorge.

In that precious time of boyhood summers, our family would drive from Lincoln County, Georgia, to the North Carolina Mountains. That meant a winding trip up Old US 441. Back then we had no Disney World. We got our thrills at mountain overlooks and Tallulah Gorge stopped us in our tracks. I’d dash from the car straight to the porch. Just like that I beheld the Grand Canyon. I’d stare across a wide, deep chasm, and see red-shouldered hawks riding thermals.

Mary Beth Hughes

The old tourist stop at Tallulah Gorge looms deep in my memories, 1,000 feet deep. When passing that way I always stop. On a recent trip to the Chattooga River, I drove Old US 441 and made my way to the gorge. There, I met Mary Beth Hughes, operator of Tallulah Point Overlook. “I’ve been coming here all my life,” I told her. “So have I,” said a man overhearing me.

“Well, we’re closing at the end of July,” said Mary Beth.

Closing? A place people have been going to since 1912, closing?

Only a few have run this mountain overlook, an enduring attraction with stay power. Harvey’s Famous Lookout operated from the early 1900s until mid 1980s, then it ran as Tallulah Point until 1989. It’s been Tallulah Point Overlook since 1994.

The Tallulah River runs through the gorge and mountain water runs through Mary Beth Hughes’ blood. Mary Beth and the overlook were destined to meet. After graduating from Appalachian State University, she lived in Boone, North Carolina for six years. Then wanderlust struck.

“In 1987 I got at job at New Morning Gallery in Asheville. Shortly after working there, we started carrying rustic twig furniture. I thought I needed to meet the artist.” Meet the artist, Don Bundrick, she did.

“Two years later we married and I relocated to his home in Tallulah Falls, Georgia, in 1990. A young married couple with a two-year-old son, we needed something to do in addition to Don’s furniture creations. It was 1994 and we knew Tallulah Gorge State Park was being formed. Don, an ex-Outward Bound instructor, had the idea to rent mountain bikes to park visitors.”

Red tape discouraged them, so they decided to sell t-shirts and drinks and rent mountain bikes elsewhere. Tallulah Point was unoccupied so Don talked to the owner who agreed to rent them part of the building.

To Earth’s Edge

The gorge, cut by the Tallulah River, is 1,000 feet deep.

“We borrowed $100 off our credit card to buy drinks and candy from Sam’s Club. Friends helped us paint the interior. Artistic friends put handmade items in our store on consignment. There was also old inventory in the shop that the owners agreed to split 50/50 with us.”

They opened Tallulah Point Overlook on what seemed the edge of Earth August 20, 1994. “We had no business plan and no capital. We didn’t even have mountain bikes. That very first day, we made $200, doubling our $100 Sam’s Club investment. We bought mountain bikes in September on our credit card.”

Misfortune arrived the next summer. Thieves stole all the mountain bikes. “Fortunately the shop had taken off,” said Mary Beth. They started a side business, Tallulah Adventures, and rented canoes and funyaks. They offered rock climbing trips, guided hiking, camping trips, and mountain bike rentals. Eventually they narrowed things down to canoe rentals but in time that fell by the wayside.

Their best asset? That wonderful view from Tallulah Point. You cannot drive by without stopping. “We just stumbled into running the Point,” said Mary Beth. “We had no idea what the future would bring.”

Well, the years brought folks like me and they brought change. Mary Beth and Don divorced in 2009. “I got the business since I worked it the most. Don had other interests he wanted to pursue.”

The years brought great memories too. “Burt Reynolds came in. We were too shy to say anything, as we weren’t sure it was really him, but as his party was leaving, I asked a woman if he was Burt Reynolds. ‘Yes,’ she said. I get a kick out of telling folks Burt Reynolds used our restroom.”

Maynard Jackson, former Atlanta mayor, and Randall Bramblett, a musician, visited the Point. “One of my favorite bands is Blackberry Smoke, a southern rock band out of Atlanta,” said Mary Beth. “Last year I met the band members and I was telling lead singer, Charlie Starr, where I lived. He said he and his wife loved camping up here and when she was eight months pregnant, they climbed the steps into the gorge, then went to this great little shop on the edge of the gorge, my place. It made me smile knowing the lead singer had been in my shop.”

The outlook was closed from 1989 to 1994. “When we opened, people thanked us. They were glad to see it open again since many had been coming here since they were children.”

I knew what she meant. For decades the Point has drawn me back. I took my two daughters there. I’d go out of my way to see the place. Going to the Chattooga? The Point is not far.

Mary Beth turned wistful. “Many people tell us they’ve been coming since they were children. Parents who brought their kids now bring grandchildren. It’s a place of family traditions and memories. People are sad that we will no longer be here.”

Killing the SkyeBurger Cafe

Boone, Asheville, then Tallulah Falls—each move took Mary Beth closer to the flatlands. She loves the mountains so she dug in her heels. Tallulah Point Outlook would be Mary Beth’s last stand. Here she would stay and run a cafe.

“I had my son build beautiful rough-sawn slab tables, bought fun colorful stools, and moved our dipped ice cream and fudge upstairs. I hoped to have a little café up there.” She waited for the right time and thought that time had arrived in 2020 but 2020 turned brutal.

“I had most of the equipment. I had remodeled the kitchen and rewired it. I had partnered with a friend who had had the China Cat Café there twenty-two years ago. I was excited to have her back because she had experienced success with the vegetarian SkyeBurger she created in that spot years ago.”

Covid 19 put the brakes to the SkyeBurger Cafe. Then more bad news arrived. Her landlord sent notice that she had to vacate the premises as of July 31. That killed the cafe. “All our plans and efforts went out the window, such a waste, a huge disappointment.”

Mary Beth lost her spectacular view, a chasm with a river falling into it overlaid by blue sky. “I never tired of it, never took it for granted, and every day I’d go on the porch and feel so much gratitude for working there. The absolute best was my perch on the upstairs porch where I would do computer work and keep an eye on the ice cream shop.”

And storms too. “The wind would start whipping and things would blow around like crazy and we’d run to close the doors and windows. I loved the gorge in all kinds of weather and found it to be beautiful no matter what, no matter when, fog, rain, mist, no visibility, sunshine, cold and snow. I loved it all.”

Moving On

Mary Beth has to pick up and move on. She’s taking her tagline, “Come on in,” with her to Tallulah Falls at 100 Main Street across from Bluegrass Square. “I’m going to call my new place Tallulah Point General Store.” She intends to use the same design elements for brand recognition. “People will know it’s me.”

She’s moving into an old general store that sat empty for several years. “I’m starting over again in an old empty building. I did pretty good the first time around so I think I will this time too.” And there’s a Harvey’s Famous Lookout connection. J.E. Harvey built and ran the old general store she’s moving into. She lived in his old homeplace for four years following her divorce as well.

She plans on having those wooden slab tables her son built installed on the old store’s porch. ‘Inside will be my chrome tables and old style stools where the ice cream will be.’

She hopes to finally have that café and intends to keep as much of the Point feeling as she can. “I get to use my old display counters and antique furniture like I’ve done at the Point. I’ll have the same merchandise. It will basically be the same store but without the view or heavy foot traffic. People will have to seek me out and I’m hopeful they will. I will miss being at the place I loved with all my heart all these years.”

Mary Beth’s oldest son was two when she and Bundrick started the Point. “He used to get off the school bus here. My youngest son started going to the shop with me when he was an infant. I had a porta crib for him behind the counter. When he started walking, I pinned a bell to his shirt so I could hear where he was. Tallulah Point Overlook has been a huge part of our lives. I’m sad to see it go but I am embracing new opportunities with an open heart. Time to go. Time to start something new. Time to downsize. I just pray and hope I can make it in this new location that does not have the built in foot traffic the overlook had.”

Foot traffic it had for sure. Just before I left for the Chattooga, a son brought his father in, a long-time fan of Tallulah Gorge. Mr. Weaver, 93 years young, has been coming to the Point for seventy-two years years.

Mr. Weaver and son

The overlook at Tallulah Gorge has been a big part of many lives, mine for sure. The next time I round that curve on Old US 441 I’ll stop to see the gorge but I won’t get any ice cream. I won’t see Big Foot lurking in the trees nor will I see the slender female mannequin wearing a bikini top and Army helmet. Nor will I see Mary Beth. As for the next chapter, time will write her story as she leaves the gorge Karl Wallenda famously walked across in 1970. Mary Beth will walk a tightrope too as she starts another business in a difficult time.

Goodbye, Big Foot

The rest of us? Let’s hope someone can convince the landlord to give this icon one more chance. In a world where abysmal events grow more common and more abysmal, it made me happy to peer into an abyss and forget my worries for a while. My parents did and so did my children. My hope is their children will too … if they get the chance.

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Senators Jones, Manchin and Romney – men of conscience https://likethedew.com/2020/07/20/senators-jones-manchin-and-romney-men-of-conscience/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=senators-jones-manchin-and-romney-men-of-conscience https://likethedew.com/2020/07/20/senators-jones-manchin-and-romney-men-of-conscience/#respond Mon, 20 Jul 2020 16:06:35 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=74149

The president asked a foreign government to investigate his political rival. The president withheld vital military funds from that government to press it to do so. The president delayed funds for an American ally at war with Russian invaders. The president's purpose was personal and political. Accordingly, the president is guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust.” – Senator Mitt Romney

Senators Doug Jones and Joe Manchin voted for removal of Trump, knowing that it could cost them votes and possibly their seats in their very red states. They are men of honor in an age where lies and deceit have become commonplace. But what about the GOP side?

Incredibly, Mitch McConnell publicly stated (12-17-19) that he would not be objective about the Trump removal trial, saying: "I'm not an impartial juror.” Subsequently, he and all other Senators publicly swore an oath (1-16-20) before God that, “I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution” an oath administered by the Chief Justice. Mitch McConnell’s hypocrisy knows no bounds.

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“The president asked a foreign government to investigate his political rival. The president withheld vital military funds from that government to press it to do so. The president delayed funds for an American ally at war with Russian invaders. The president’s purpose was personal and political. Accordingly, the president is guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust.”

Senator Mitt Romney

Senators Doug Jones and Joe Manchin voted for removal of Trump, knowing that it could cost them votes and possibly their seats in their very red states. They are men of honor in an age where lies and deceit have become commonplace. But what about the GOP side?

Incredibly, Mitch McConnell publicly stated (12-17-19) that he would not be objective about the Trump removal trial, saying: “I’m not an impartial juror.” Subsequently, he and all other Senators publicly swore an oath (1-16-20) before God that, “I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution” an oath administered by the Chief Justice. Mitch McConnell’s hypocrisy knows no bounds.

The sad truth is that McConnell and the rest of the GOP Senators…with the notable exception of Romney … care more about themselves than they do the nation, the Constitution or their oath. They are afraid of the political retribution that will come their way if they defy Trump.

For a prime example, look at what is happening to Sen. Mitt Romney, long known as an honorable and highly religious man. The majority of independents supported Romney’s vote to remove Trump, 47%-33%. But only 15% of Republicans agreed with Romney’s vote, while an astounding 76% disapproved (Morning Consult/ Politico). 

Even the Utah Republican Party criticized him, tweeting “As a party, we strongly disagree with the vote cast today by Senator Romney.”

Matt Schlapp is chairman of the Conservative Political Action Conference and is generally reasonable, if partisan. But on the show Full Court Press (Greta Van Susteren), he stated this about Romney coming to the CPAC Annual Meeting: “This year, I would actually be afraid for his physical safety, people are so mad at him” and “We won’t credential him (Romney) as a conservative.”  

But that’s mild compared to right wing on-line newsletters. For example, Real American Pundit (2-12-20) stated: “Mitt Romney may be one of the most hated politicians in America”; “(Romney’s) recognized as a traitor among Republican Senators and President Donald Trump.”

Of course, the Trump camp is pushing this Washington DC atmosphere of hatred. At the National Prayer Breakfast, where politics is normally kept to a minimum, Trump tweeted about Romney: “I don’t like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong.” How strange coming from someone whose morals are questioned even by his most fervent religious backers.And Donald Trump Jr. tweeted: “He’s now officially a member of the resistance & should be expelled from the GOP.”

As Romney stated: “Corrupting an election to keep one’s self in office is perhaps the most abusive and destructive violation of one’s oath of office that I can imagine.” However, I have given up trying to convince right wingers, like my best friend who only believes what Fox and Hannity tell him, that Trump should have been removed by the Senate. 

The 76% of GOP voters that disapprove of Romney’s vote to remove Trump will never believe Trump unethically attempted to coerce the President of the Ukraine into investigating someone who was a political rival. Or, that he blocked the Ukraine and Russia investigations every chance he could, obstructing Congress in its Constitutionally mandated duties.  Or that he violated tradition and ethics in commuting Roger Stone’s sentence (again, Romney was the only GOP big shot to directly criticize it).

If a left-wing politician like a Senator Sanders would have done taken similar actions, McConnell and the other hypocrites on the right would have tarred and feathered him. That they almost unanimously found Trump innocent will go down in history as a black stain on the soul of the Republican Party. Lincoln must be rolling over in his grave if he sees what the Grand Old Party has become.

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Is Wearing a Mask Unmanly? U.S. Rhetoric About Toughness May Explain Why Countries With Female Leaders are Beating Coronavirus https://likethedew.com/2020/07/16/is-wearing-a-mask-unmanly-u-s-rhetoric-about-toughness-may-explain-why-countries-with-female-leaders-are-beating-coronavirus/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=is-wearing-a-mask-unmanly-u-s-rhetoric-about-toughness-may-explain-why-countries-with-female-leaders-are-beating-coronavirus https://likethedew.com/2020/07/16/is-wearing-a-mask-unmanly-u-s-rhetoric-about-toughness-may-explain-why-countries-with-female-leaders-are-beating-coronavirus/#respond Thu, 16 Jul 2020 18:06:04 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=74049 “Cover Your Face in Public,” a large highway sign instructed drivers entering Manhattan a few weeks ago. “We are NY Tough,” read the next digital panel.

It was a nice try by the state’s communications team at a time when President Trump consistently derided mask-wearing as “weak,” but equating it with toughness is a hard sell.  As recent Covid-19 statistics have shown, New York could have said “We are NY Smart,” yet the sign-writers evidently believed that to counter the “weak” narrative, only “tough” would do.

The mask debate has not diminished, nor has the incidence of virus cases in many states (though not New York). In Texas, some law enforcement officials are declining to enforce the governor’s recent order that all residents wear masks in public, citing constitutional rights.

One can’t help but ask, is the debate about masks—or manliness? 

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“Cover Your Face in Public,” a large highway sign instructed drivers entering Manhattan a few weeks ago. “We are NY Tough,” read the next digital panel.

It was a nice try by the state’s communications team at a time when President Trump consistently derided mask-wearing as “weak,” but equating it with toughness is a hard sell.  As recent Covid-19 statistics have shown, New York could have said “We are NY Smart,” yet the sign-writers evidently believed that to counter the “weak” narrative, only “tough” would do.

The mask debate has not diminished, nor has the incidence of virus cases in many states (though not New York). In Texas, some law enforcement officials are declining to enforce the governor’s recent order that all residents wear masks in public, citing constitutional rights.

One can’t help but ask, is the debate about masks—or manliness? 

Sociologist Michael Kimmel has written that “the story of America [is] a story of proving and testing manhood.” In the late 1890’s, for example, when President William McKinley sought to avoid war with Spain over its brutal treatment of Cubans, Theodore Roosevelt, then a Navy bureaucrat, accused McKinley of having “no more backbone than a chocolate éclair.” Jingoist newspapers agreed, calling McKinley a “goody-goody man”—or no man at all. The New York Journal published a cartoon depicting McKinley as an elderly woman pushing a broom against the will of Congress and “The People,” represented as menacing ocean waves. The caption read “Another Old Woman Tries to Sweep Back the Sea.”

Roosevelt and other hawks declared that war against Spain would strengthen American men, who had become too “soft” in their view. If men were stronger, the argument went, women would give up their quest for the vote and focus on being wives and mothers, satisfied that the nation was in good, manly hands. War did take place in summer 1898, and the quick trouncing of Spain ushered in a hyper-aggressive standard of masculinity that still holds sway with many—though women hardly forsook the vote and participation in public life.

In the face of the threats we’re confronting today, including a pandemic, it is important to remember that even in the 1890s a large number of men did not support a martial definition of manliness.  

Senator David Hill of New York, for example, asserted that whether to fight Spain was not “simply a question as to whether we were a brave enough people to enter upon the experiment.” As historian Kristin Hoganson writes, Hill “and like-minded leaders regarded the Cuban issue not as a crusade but as a policy issue to be settled by sober statement and foreign policy authorities. In effect, they contended that the kind of manhood that should govern foreign policy debate was…that of the dispassionate, educated expert, someone who exercised restraint and sober judgment.”

That sounds a lot like the debates over how to respond to Covid-19: medical expertise and the virtues of compassion and restraint versus assertions of individual “freedom” to do as one pleases.

When it comes to Covid-19, unlike manliness, different approaches can be measured objectively by numbers of cases and deaths. By that measure, the heads of state who imposed isolation measures early, relying on medical experts, clearly saved lives in places such as New Zealand, Germany, Taiwan. That those countries’ leaders are female has drawn attention. More recently, the female leader of Scotland’s government, Nicola Sturgeon, won praise for Scotland’s low virus numbers after a three-month lockdown and slow reopening.

Is it merely a coincidence that these female leaders do not carry the baggage of worrying about their manliness?  Ms. Sturgeon’s policies stood in stark contrast to Boris Johnson’s in England, and they have even fanned new calls for Scottish independence. Maybe people are ready to respond to leaders who solve problems dispassionately, based on “sober judgment” and without regard to bravado.

It can take more strength to tell people not to act than to encourage their aggressiveness. The leaders who imposed swift quarantines showed such strength. The adverse economic impacts of curbing movement and commerce were easy to anticipate, but the upside was not clear: what if the quarantines did not prove effective in reducing virus transmission and death? 

Today, few officials would argue that a course of action is right because it is “manly.” A statement such as “I want American manhood asserted” (Sen. William M. Stewart, R, Nev., speaking in 1897) would be considered as retrograde in 2020 as “men working” signs.

But concerns with manliness still influence our politics. They are more coded, especially in the language of President Trump, who has resurrected Roosevelt’s least estimable traits by portraying life as a struggle between the strong and the weak. Jeff Sessions was “very weak” and not “being a man” when he decided to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is “that woman from Michigan.” Amid the wave of protests triggered by the death of George Floyd, he pushed for governors to “get tough” and told them, “most of you are weak.”

Trump is not the only male leader to insert coded manliness concerns into the Covid-12 debate. When Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said he was willing to die to save the economy, that also echoed Roosevelt. Faced with an enemy unbeatable through physical force, Patrick turned to dying for his country as a supposedly heroic option.

Yet Covid-19 teaches that strength is not the same as physical power, nor is strength male or female. Those who insist on characterizing Covid-19 as an enemy in a war must accept that in this war, the men and women who make us stand back may be showing the strength we most need. 

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Evidence suggests possibility of blue Georgia in November https://likethedew.com/2020/07/15/evidence-suggests-possibility-of-blue-georgia-in-november/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=evidence-suggests-possibility-of-blue-georgia-in-november https://likethedew.com/2020/07/15/evidence-suggests-possibility-of-blue-georgia-in-november/#respond Wed, 15 Jul 2020 15:51:48 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=74087 While it appears that Gwinnett County could see many of its local offices land in the Democratic column come November, that’s most likely not true of the majority of the counties in Georgia. While the larger cities of the state may report in the Democratic column, much of the state, including the Legislature, will no doubt remain in control of the Republican Party.

After all, many incumbent members of the Legislature either have no opponents or weak ones.  For Democrats to take control of  the Georgia House and Senate may take several more General Elections, if and when it may occur.

Yet there remains a question of how Georgians will vote in the national presidential race. President Trump won Georgia with a 5.7 percent victory (51.3 percent) over Hillary Clinton (45.6 percent). Remember, Libertarian Gary Johnson got 3.1 percent of the Georgia vote. The president’s margin of victory was lower than the two previous Republican presidential candidates, Mitt Romney and John McCain. 

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While it appears that Gwinnett County could see many of its local offices land in the Democratic column come November, that’s most likely not true of the majority of the counties in Georgia. While the larger cities of the state may report in the Democratic column, much of the state, including the Legislature, will no doubt remain in control of the Republican Party.

After all, many incumbent members of the Legislature either have no opponents or weak ones.  For Democrats to take control of  the Georgia House and Senate may take several more General Elections, if and when it may occur.

Yet there remains a question of how Georgians will vote in the national presidential race. President Trump won Georgia with a 5.7 percent victory (51.3 percent) over Hillary Clinton (45.6 percent). Remember, Libertarian Gary Johnson got 3.1 percent of the Georgia vote. The president’s margin of victory was lower than the two previous Republican presidential candidates, Mitt Romney and John McCain. 

Now, start looking to November.  Many people think that the Georgia presidential voting will be close.  Many figure that Donald Trump will win again in Georgia. But Democrat Joe Biden is coming on strong. 

The 270ToWin site shows 10 different stateside polls, and altogether, they show no clear picture. Six predict a close Biden victory. Four show a Trump win, one as much as by 11 percent.  Go to https://www.270towin.com/2020-polls-biden-trump/georgia/ to check it out. Take your pick of the polls. 

Now overlay this with the heavy Democratic primary turnout in 2020.  In some area counties, the Democrats were turning out twice as strong as Republicans.  In Gwinnett County, there were 101,903  Democratic voters for president, with Joe Biden getting 85,688 votes. For the Republicans, Donald Trump polled 57,897.  

A similar result took place in another suburban area, as normally Republican Cobb County scored 63,696 votes for the president, and the Democratic presidential votes totaled 100,896. Joe Biden got 89,811 of these.

Fulton, Clayton and DeKalb Counties of Metro Atlanta are normally Democratic counties. This means that the suburban counties of Atlanta will probably give Joe Biden a big lead in the November voting.  That brings the question: what will the mid-size and rural counties do?

The other day we saw the returns from small Early County, in deep southwest Georgia. The presidential returns really surprised us, particularly how well Joe Biden did there. He polled 1,172 votes. There were only two other Democrats that got presidential votes:  Michael Bennet got 37 votes and Bernie Sanders won 98.  So, Democrats scored 1,307 votes in Early County. President Trump got 1,241 votes.

What?  President Trump lost a South Georgia county in the primary voting count?  Up until now, we had assumed that our sitting president would do well in South Georgia, to overcome what he would lose in Metro Atlanta.

Realize this is looking at voting in only one small rural county. This indication may be significant. It has implications for the national scene, as Georgia will vote on not the usual one Senate seat this fall, but vote on both Senate seats. Is this Trump negative margin going  to have implications for control of the Senate?

Not only that, but how about the Georgia Legislature? Is the now-in-control Republican Party vulnerable this fall?  We don’t think so….but no doubt the way President Trump is handling his office these days, not only politically but with the pandemic crisis, it gives you more room to wonder.

The upcoming General Election suddenly takes on new vibrations.

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Time to Declare an Outbreak of Peace https://likethedew.com/2020/07/15/time-to-declare-an-outbreak-of-peace/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=time-to-declare-an-outbreak-of-peace https://likethedew.com/2020/07/15/time-to-declare-an-outbreak-of-peace/#respond Wed, 15 Jul 2020 15:21:00 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=74077 The Secretary General of the United Nations issued a plea to the countries of the world to declare an immediate ceasefire. “The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war,” he said. “Let us dedicate ourselves to the real fight, which is not with each other, but is to protect our health and the health of our planet.” Can we heed his plea, acknowledge more fully than ever our profound and indisputable interdependence, and seize this perilous moment as an opportunity for broad and deep societal change?  How much more evidence do we need? Borders and boundaries do not protect us. Position and privilege may not keep us from harm. No country or village is too far away. We are all vulnerable to this virus. 

Life offers each of us more than enough suffering without armed conflict. Let us require our governments to respond to the Secretary General of the UN with their national commitments to end armed conflict. We can put our trust in the tools of diplomacy and band together across nations to alleviate the anguish of wars. Seeing through the delusions of separateness so clearly helps us mobilize for the transformation to a human race at peace with itself and the planet we share. An aware and empowered populace will hasten this change.

The current reduction of human activity forced by this coronavirus enables the earth, scarred with pollution and toxins, to begin to purify and renew itself so that in the future rivers will sparkle and stars glitter. Just as the soil, water, and air around us recovers from some of its poisons when we cease our frantic consumption, perhaps we humans, especially those with the privilege of slowing down, will accept the challenge to renew and liberate ourselves as well. This juncture provides an opening to rethink our values and behaviors, to recreate societies that reflect altruism and peace. Many whose lives are comfortable are now discovering how to live with a lot less, and as we diminish our greed, we reduce one of the major causes of war...

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The Secretary General of the United Nations issued a plea to the countries of the world to declare an immediate ceasefire. “The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war,” he said. “Let us dedicate ourselves to the real fight, which is not with each other, but is to protect our health and the health of our planet.” Can we heed his plea, acknowledge more fully than ever our profound and indisputable interdependence, and seize this perilous moment as an opportunity for broad and deep societal change?  How much more evidence do we need? Borders and boundaries do not protect us. Position and privilege may not keep us from harm. No country or village is too far away. We are all vulnerable to this virus. 

Life offers each of us more than enough suffering without armed conflict. Let us require our governments to respond to the Secretary General of the UN with their national commitments to end armed conflict. We can put our trust in the tools of diplomacy and band together across nations to alleviate the anguish of wars. Seeing through the delusions of separateness so clearly helps us mobilize for the transformation to a human race at peace with itself and the planet we share. An aware and empowered populace will hasten this change.

The current reduction of human activity forced by this coronavirus enables the earth, scarred with pollution and toxins, to begin to purify and renew itself so that in the future rivers will sparkle and stars glitter. Just as the soil, water, and air around us recovers from some of its poisons when we cease our frantic consumption, perhaps we humans, especially those with the privilege of slowing down, will accept the challenge to renew and liberate ourselves as well. This juncture provides an opening to rethink our values and behaviors, to recreate societies that reflect altruism and peace. Many whose lives are comfortable are now discovering how to live with a lot less, and as we diminish our greed, we reduce one of the major causes of war.

Might we now give up on the illusion that we are rugged individuals and proclaim our interconnectedness?  We all crave contact, which we currently attain in dystopian fashion on Zoom. In being present for each other, even electronically, we strengthen our common humanity and social solidarity. We find ways to nurture and weave our precious human web, to remember that our human needs are universal, and that our generosity is a gift that ripples out and reproduces itself. As we engage locally, we extend our concern to those millions of us who are vulnerable, perhaps experiencing increased economic hardship, political repression, the scourge of racism, the pain of exclusion, or health difficulties.

The climate crisis, appalling inequality, the destruction of our earthly home and its flora and fauna, are all powerful evidence that our ways of organizing society are dangerously outmoded. Social change emerges slowly and invisibly, yet the new is always fermenting within the old. Eventually the old ways fracture, and new realities will burst forth. Our minds, burdened by the fear and endless battles of our politics, can take us to negative images of increased authoritarianism, militarism, xenophobia, and injustice. Many will be pushing for that kind of social order, and we have to organize mightily against their demands, beginning now. But we do not serve ourselves or our society by focusing on our fears. Focus instead on what your awakened and discerning self can see and do. This planet-wide virus, tragic as it is, has the potential to galvanize multitudes. Once awake, there is no returning to delusions like walls, borders, hatreds, or an us-them mentality. Once conscious, we are all “us.”

We are each citizens of the community of life and everything we do matters in the universe. Our visions and actions are the building blocks of the community and the world we deeply wish for. We prepare for its arrival as we make the most of this potentially transformative moment. 

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Banana Republic or Constitutional Democracy? The US Military May Decide https://likethedew.com/2020/07/15/banana-republic-or-constitutional-democracy-the-us-military-may-decide/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=banana-republic-or-constitutional-democracy-the-us-military-may-decide https://likethedew.com/2020/07/15/banana-republic-or-constitutional-democracy-the-us-military-may-decide/#respond Wed, 15 Jul 2020 14:59:47 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=74074 Donald Trump’s appearance at the West Point graduation ceremonies a few weeks ago reminded some observers of the Class of 1986. That one class included several Trump appointees: Mark Esper in Defense, Mike Pompeo and two close aides (Brian Bulatao, counselor, and Ulrich Brechbuhl, undersecretary for management) at the State Department; David Urban, a senior campaign adviser; and Mark Green, formerly army secretary and now a congressman. 

It wasn’t a happy reminder to some graduates. They posted an appeal on behalf of "Concerned Members of the Long Gray Line," a coalition of several hundred West Point alumni from six decades of graduating classes "who collectively served across ten presidential administrations." "We, a diverse group of West Point graduates, are concerned. . . . that fellow graduates serving in senior-level, public positions are failing to uphold their oath of office and their commitment to Duty, Honor, Country. Their actions threaten the credibility of an apolitical military," the post said. "We ask you to join us in working to right the wrongs and to hold each other accountable to the ideals instilled by our alma mater and affirmed by each of us at graduation."

These former cadets understand quite well the fragile place democracy now occupies in the USA. They have watched events in Washington, DC, where General Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in battle fatigues, was coopted into joining Trump for a photo-op—for which Milley apologized in a speech to National Defense University graduates. 

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Donald Trump’s appearance at the West Point graduation ceremonies a few weeks ago reminded some observers of the Class of 1986. That one class included several Trump appointees: Mark Esper in Defense, Mike Pompeo and two close aides (Brian Bulatao, counselor, and Ulrich Brechbuhl, undersecretary for management) at the State Department; David Urban, a senior campaign adviser; and Mark Green, formerly army secretary and now a congressman. 

It wasn’t a happy reminder to some graduates. They posted an appeal on behalf of “Concerned Members of the Long Gray Line,” a coalition of several hundred West Point alumni from six decades of graduating classes “who collectively served across ten presidential administrations.” “We, a diverse group of West Point graduates, are concerned. . . . that fellow graduates serving in senior-level, public positions are failing to uphold their oath of office and their commitment to Duty, Honor, Country. Their actions threaten the credibility of an apolitical military,” the post said. “We ask you to join us in working to right the wrongs and to hold each other accountable to the ideals instilled by our alma mater and affirmed by each of us at graduation.”

These former cadets understand quite well the fragile place democracy now occupies in the USA. They have watched events in Washington, DC, where General Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in battle fatigues, was coopted into joining Trump for a photo-op—for which Milley apologized in a speech to National Defense University graduates. 

And they have heard the voices of General Mattis and other senior military leaders who denounced Trump’s efforts to drag the military into partisan politics. But will that be enough to ensure that the military, when and if the chips are down, acts in accord with the Constitution and not out of loyalty to its commander-in-chief?

Here’s another question: What if Joe Biden is wrong to anticipate that if Trump doesn’t step down after being defeated, the military “will escort him from the White House with great dispatch”? 

Or, as Biden has also said, what if Trump tries to postpone the election? He might be wrong on that too. Chris Cillizza of CNN writes: “the thing that could threaten Biden’s potential presidency—and the ability of the country to move on from what will be one of the nastiest elections in modern history—is if Trump simply refuses to admit he lost, never conceding that Biden is the fair-and-square president.” 

Cillizza reminds us of two things about Trump: He hates losing, and he has a history of crying “rigged” when any election doesn’t go his way. (Trump has already spoken of “massive fraud and abuse” in November; and in three tweets on June 22, he said “mail-in ballots will lead to a RIGGED ELECTION.”) 

If Cillizza is right, Biden might be able to occupy the White House without having to call on the military, but leaving Trump as the head of 40 percent of the electorate that believes he is the legitimate president. 

Will the military’s role in 2021 be supporting Biden’s attempt to regain control over the Red States? Is a second civil war conceivable? Or will America join the list of banana republics, in which the military adjudicates politics and uses its power to determine who rules? 

Top military officials surely have no love lost for Trump, who has belittled them time and again. Ultimately, though, we must depend on the military’s adherence to democratic tradition and loyalty to the Constitution, not to a despot. 

Two former defense department officials recently wrote to urge that military leaders “get ahead of Trump’s temptations and insinuations and vow publicly they will only support a peaceful, democratic transition of power and leave it to the courts and Congress to resolve any electoral disputes. Such proactive steps are about prevention, creating expectations in Washington and around the country to condition Trump from even looking in the military’s direction to support any conspiracy theories or power grabs.” 

If those preventive steps fail, the writers further urge military leaders to plan on how to “support an orderly transition and continuity of government if the results are unclear or simply not accepted by the president.” Let’s hope those leaders have heeded the warning signs from Trump and are taking this advice.

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Battleground States https://likethedew.com/2020/07/15/battleground-states/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=battleground-states https://likethedew.com/2020/07/15/battleground-states/#respond Wed, 15 Jul 2020 14:35:24 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=74071 The time for manufacturing of weapons of war has passed as a viable industry for our nation, despite the way some of our political leadership clings to economies of the past.Lisa Savage, U.S. Senate candidate in Maine

On Thursday, June 25th, President Trump’s re-election efforts took him to the “battleground” state of Wisconsin, where he toured the Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard. He railed against the Democrats as a scarier enemy than Russia or China. He also celebrated Wisconsin's win over domestic enemies like the state of Maine in securing a key shipbuilding project. "The first-in-class FFG(X) [frigate] will not just be a win for Wisconsin workers; it will also be a major victory for our Navy," Trump said.  "… 

The stunning ships will deliver the overwhelming force, lethality, and power we need to engage America’s enemies anywhere and at any time."  On many military minds, it seems, was China.

“If you just look at the geography of Indo-Pacom, these ships can go a lot of places that destroyers can’t go," said Northeast Wisconsin's Representative Mike Gallagher, a hawkish Republican outspokenly eager for future wars in the 'Indo-Pacific Command': in particular, wars against China.  "… not just frigates, but unmanned ships… it will align nicely with a lot of what the Marine Corps Commandant is talking about in terms of capitalizing on the overdue death of the [Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces] Treaty, and fielding intermediate range fires.”

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The time for manufacturing of weapons of war has passed as a viable industry for our nation, despite the way some of our political leadership clings to economies of the past.

Lisa Savage, U.S. Senate candidate in Maine

On Thursday, June 25th, President Trump’s re-election efforts took him to the “battleground” state of Wisconsin, where he toured the Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard. He railed against the Democrats as a scarier enemy than Russia or China. He also celebrated Wisconsin’s win over domestic enemies like the state of Maine in securing a key shipbuilding project. “The first-in-class FFG(X) [frigate] will not just be a win for Wisconsin workers; it will also be a major victory for our Navy,” Trump said.  “… 

The stunning ships will deliver the overwhelming force, lethality, and power we need to engage America’s enemies anywhere and at any time.”  On many military minds, it seems, was China.

“If you just look at the geography of Indo-Pacom, these ships can go a lot of places that destroyers can’t go,” said Northeast Wisconsin’s Representative Mike Gallagher, a hawkish Republican outspokenly eager for future wars in the ‘Indo-Pacific Command’: in particular, wars against China.  “… not just frigates, but unmanned ships… it will align nicely with a lot of what the Marine Corps Commandant is talking about in terms of capitalizing on the overdue death of the [Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces] Treaty, and fielding intermediate range fires.”

The Commandant in question, Gen. David Berger, has explained: “The thing that has driven us to where we are right now is the paradigm shift by China moving to sea…” Berger wants “mobile and fast” ships to keep American marines on temporary bases as near as possible to China, since “the farther you back away from China, they will move toward you.”

Fincantieri, an Italian company, acquired the Marinette shipyard in 2009, and, just last month, received a lucrative US Navy contract to build between one and 10 frigates, representing a tactical shift from larger destroyers. Outfitted by Lockheed Martin with 32 vertical launch tubes and a “state of the art SPY-6 radar system,” with power capacity to accommodate arriving “electronic warfare systems,” the frigate will be capable of simultaneously attacking submarines, land targets and surface ships. If all 10 ships are built in the shipyard, the contract will be worth $5.5 billion dollars. Rep. Gallagher and President Trump both support a Navy leadership goal of expanding the U.S. fleet well beyond its current speculative cap of 355 warships, adding multiple unmanned vessels.

Marinette had been vying with several other shipyards, including Bath Iron Works in Maine, for the multi-billion-dollar contract. On March 2, a bipartisan coalition of 54 WI legislators had signed a letter urging President Trump to direct the U.S. Navy frigate construction contract to the Marinette shipyard. “We are hopeful that the US Navy will decide to bring additional ship construction to the state of Wisconsin,” the legislators wrote in their concluding paragraph, calling the opportunity vital not just for a growing Wisconsin shipyard, “but for the communities of great Americans who will benefit for years to come from valuable and meaningful work on behalf of our country.”

The deal could add 1,000 jobs in the area and the shipbuilder plans to invest $200 million to expand the Marinette facility because of the contract. So this was a victory lap for the shipyard, but also for Donald Trump, who can deliver these jobs to a “battleground” state crucial for his hopes in this coming winter’s election. Would this rally have occurred had the contract gone to Maine’s Bath Iron Works?  Lisa Savage is campaigning as an Independent Green to represent Maine as a  U.S. Senator. Asked to comment on whether Maine “lost” when the contract went to Wisconsin, she offered this statement:

Bath Iron Works in Maine is currently engaged in union busting contract negotiations to promote its ongoing policy of bringing in contract labor that is not unionized. This follows years of no-raise contracts with its largest union, S6, the result of BIW demanding that workers sacrifice so that its owner can pay its CEO tens of millions of dollars a year and buy back its own stock. General Dynamics can afford to pay workers fairly, given the $45 million tax break the Maine Legislature granted the massive military manufacturer, and the $900 million in cash on hand the company reported in its last SEC filing.

The time for manufacturing of weapons of war has passed as a viable industry for our nation, despite the way some of our political leadership clings to economies of the past. The global pandemic emphasizes for us all the interconnectivity of our global society and the folly, wastefulness, and moral failure of war in all forms. We must transform facilities like BIW and Marinette into hubs of manufacturing for solutions to the climate crisis, including public transportation, resources for the creation of renewable energy, and disaster-response vessels.

Building clean energy systems would generate up to 50 percent more jobs than making arms systems according to research by leading economists. The two biggest security threats to the United States are currently the climate crisis and COVID-19. The Pentagon’s contractors have long contributed to the climate crisis, and the time for conversion is now.

Before the pandemic hit, and before this U.S. Navy contract was awarded to Marinette, my fellow activists at Voices for Creative Nonviolence were planning a protest walk to the Marinette shipyard. As Trump noted in his speech at Marinette, they are currently building four Littoral Combat Ships for sale to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Defense industry analysts noted, in late 2019, with the U.S. Navy no longer interested in purchasing Littoral Combat Ships from the yard, the Marinette shipyard had been “saved by the Saudis” and by Lockheed Martin, which had helped arrange the contract.

The Saudi military has been using U.S.-supplied Littoral (near-coast) Combat Ships to blockade the coastal ports of Yemen, which is undergoing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis due to a famine exacerbated by the Saudi-led blockade and an invasion involving relentless aerial bombardment. Actual cholera epidemics, reminiscent of centuries past, were another result of the war’s creation of lethal delays and shortages for Yemeni people in desperate need of fuel, food, medicine and clean water. Yemen’s humanitarian situation, worsened by the spread of COVID-19, is now so desperate that the United Nations humanitarian chief, Mark Lowcock, warned Yemen will “fall off the cliff” without massive financial support. President Trump took full credit for the Saudi contract at today’s rally.

The world that our global empire is swiftly creating, through our devastating oil wars in the Middle East and our arriving cold wars with Russia and China, is a world without winners. Maine could find ample reason to celebrate losing its battle for this contract if it considered the precious gained opportunity of which Savage eloquently reminds us: of conversion, with a net gain in jobs, to industries that prepare us against the real threats we face: devastating climate change, a global pandemic, and the corrosive shame of endless war. We must resist signing contracts with weapon makers profiting from endless immiseration of the Middle East and needless superpower rivalries inviting full nuclear war. Such contracts, inked in blood, doom every corner of our world to perish as a battleground state.

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Is the nation opening its soul? https://likethedew.com/2020/07/15/is-the-nation-opening-its-soul/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=is-the-nation-opening-its-soul https://likethedew.com/2020/07/15/is-the-nation-opening-its-soul/#respond Wed, 15 Jul 2020 14:22:06 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=74068 Topple a few statues, remove some iconic names from American institutions . . . and the ghosts of the past start to escape from history, filling the present moment. It’s called awareness.

Too much awareness can feel like chaos. Not surprisingly, a lot of people would prefer to stick with the old historical narrative, the one that’s so tried and true: This is the land of the free, the home of the brave, the birthplace of democracy. God bless America! (And forget about slavery, Native American genocide, racism, packed prisons, nukes, endless war, etc.)

The question of the moment is whether this narrative is gone for good. Are we merely in the process of making some superficial adjustments or has the national soul truly torn itself open? Will we stop short — once again — of creating a society of compassionate equality? Will we eventually (as soon as possible) retreat to another narrative of American exceptionalism and . . . uh, white power? Or are we in the process of real change?

I confess to being an optimist. The ghosts of the past that are returning to the present moment could be the harbingers of unimaginable change. Even the changes that seem trivial — rebranding Aunt Jemima pancake mix, for instance — have roots that go deep into the national identity and its sources of power...

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Topple a few statues, remove some iconic names from American institutions . . . and the ghosts of the past start to escape from history, filling the present moment. It’s called awareness.

Too much awareness can feel like chaos. Not surprisingly, a lot of people would prefer to stick with the old historical narrative, the one that’s so tried and true: This is the land of the free, the home of the brave, the birthplace of democracy. God bless America! (And forget about slavery, Native American genocide, racism, packed prisons, nukes, endless war, etc.)

The question of the moment is whether this narrative is gone for good. Are we merely in the process of making some superficial adjustments or has the national soul truly torn itself open? Will we stop short — once again — of creating a society of compassionate equality? Will we eventually (as soon as possible) retreat to another narrative of American exceptionalism and . . . uh, white power? Or are we in the process of real change?

I confess to being an optimist. The ghosts of the past that are returning to the present moment could be the harbingers of unimaginable change. Even the changes that seem trivial — rebranding Aunt Jemima pancake mix, for instance — have roots that go deep into the national identity and its sources of power.

Consider, for instance, the downfall of Woodrow Wilson, former U.S. president who was also president of Princeton University for eight years. Announcing that Wilson’s name would be removed from Princeton’s public policy school, current president Christopher Eisgruber said, according to BBC News: “Wilson’s racism was significant and consequential even by the standards of his own time.”

Wow, that’s no small deal, considering how low the standards for racial stupidity were in the early 20th century. Nonetheless, he explained, Wilson — whose legacy includes barring black students from attending Princeton, who was a friend of the Ku Klux Klan — was revered by Princeton for over a century “not because of, but without regard to or perhaps even in ignorance of, his racism.”

Princeton, he went on, “is part of an America that has too often disregarded, ignored, or excused racism, allowing the persistence of systems that discriminate against black people.”

So America’s racist ignorance is over? Examples keep pouring in. Not only are statues of Confederate generals finally coming down, but Christopher Columbus — colonialist conqueror extraordinaire — apparently has also had his day, with his statues coming down all over the place. And a particularly racist statue of Theodore Roosevelt, depicting the conquering hero grandly astride his horse as a black man and a Native American walk humbly beside (and behind) him, will be removed from in front of the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

And latter-day colonialist John Wayne, king of the Hollywood cowboys and icon of America’s conquest of the Wild West, is in trouble in Orange County, Calif., where Democratic political leaders are calling for the renaming of John Wayne Airport, thanks to the “resurfacing” of a 1971 Playboy interview, in which he said: “I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility. I don’t believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people.”

A fascinating irony about these words is the way they bounce back to the speaker, whose ignorance of and indifference to his country’s horrific history of racism indicates he was not “educated to a point of responsibility.”

And then there are the brand names that are suddenly gone, so to speak, with the wind. These include Aunt Jemima, a product that dates back to 1893, whose initial model, a woman named Nancy Green, was a former slave. Other brands with stereotypical symbols that are on their way out include Uncle Ben’s rice, Eskimo pies, Cream of Wheat and Mrs. Butterworth’s Syrup. “Retiring these products is not ‘political correctness,’” Katha Pollitt writes at The Nation, “it is the removal of a profound racial insult from our grocery stores and kitchen tables.”

And, oh yeah, speaking of Gone with the Wind, that 1939 movie of antebellum nostalgia has been taken off HBO for the time being. Its return will include “a discussion of its historical context,” according to a network spokesperson. And the reality TV show “Cops” is gone after 32 seasons, depriving Americans of the chance to watch the law-and-order game in progress from the comfort of their sofas.

At a deeper level, police accountability is no longer a matter turned over to the police unions. Derek Chauvin, killer of George Floyd, has been charged with second-degree murder, as have the other officers present at the scene of his death. Police departments in California, Texas, Nevada and Washington, D.C. have banned the police use of chokeholds. And the movement to defund militarized police forces, diverting the money to other means of establishing social order, is gaining a political foothold, not only in Minneapolis (ground zero) but New York City.

All of which will hardly matter at all if the changes stop here. The undoing of American racism — of its racist infrastructure — isn’t a simple matter of making reforms or righting a few wrongs. The above changes only matter if they indicate a national rebeginning.

As social theorist and author Joe Feagin put it in a Truthout interview: “. . . in their individual and collective protests and revolts against racial oppression African Americans have long pressed for — indeed, arguably invented — the authentic liberty-and-justice-for-all values that have gradually become more central to this country. The white male ‘founders’ version of ‘liberty and justice’ values were inauthentic, as they actually had in mind freedom for (propertied) white men.”

What matters about the present moment is that change seems to be coming from multiple directions, both outside and within the corridors of political and economic power, as our ignorance shatters and we wake up.

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