LikeTheDew.com https://likethedew.com A journal of progressive Southern culture and politics Thu, 05 Dec 2019 13:39:06 -0500 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3 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 Jimmy Carter’s Busy 95 Years https://likethedew.com/2019/12/05/jimmy-carters-busy-95-years/ https://likethedew.com/2019/12/05/jimmy-carters-busy-95-years/#respond Thu, 05 Dec 2019 13:39:06 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=24311 So on October 1, 1924 Jimmy Carter was born at the Wise Hospital in Plains, Georgia. When you get that close to the century mark, much of what’s remembered can strike those younger as timeworn and antiquated.

Calvin Coolidge was president, assuming office 14 months earlier upon the death of Warren G. Harding. On November 4, Coolidge was elected to the presidency in his own right, extending the Republicans’ hold on the White House which would eventually reach twelve years.

It would be another nine years and two months after Carter’s birth that the 21st amendment passed, invalidating the 18th amendment and putting prohibition behind us. Such images bring to mind The Untouchables, the great television show which ceased production in 1963. That was 56 years ago. Jimmy Carter was only 39, working the family’s peanut warehouse in Plains and serving the first of two terms in the state senate. Things moved too slowly there, especially considering all that Jimmy Carter wanted to accomplish for his district — and for the state of Georgia. It was time to move up a level or two. He announced his candidacy for governor.

The 1966 campaign infused and enthralled Carter. And it broke his heart. He lost just when the momentum seemed headed his way. It gave Carter a serious case of the blues. If he was listening to Bob Dylan at the time, he’d console himself with these words: “there’s no success like failure……. failure’s no success at all.”  Jimmy Carter was certainly sharp enough to figure that out. He’d experience a spiritual renewal, assemble a rock-hard determination and try again. There’d be success, more success and some failures. Put it all together and you have a brilliant life, one that he’s still working on. There’s more to do.

You Know What I’m Sayin’ And You Know What I Mean . . . .  In 1970 Jimmy Carter ran for governor once more. He won the Democratic primary and easily defeated his Republican rival, an Atlanta TV news anchor. His victorious campaign was beneath him. Voters opposed to integration heard things in Carter’s speeches that hit home. He said that when he became governor, George Wallace, the vile segregationist from Alabama, would be invited to speak in Georgia. Carter had no intentions of following up on that. The same motive was at play when he sought and received endorsements from Georgia politicians Roy Harris and Marvin Griffin. They were both arch-segregationists and would find little, if anything positive, about Carter as governor. That was especially the case when Carter gave his inaugural address after being sworn in as governor on January 12, 1971. He made it plain enough:

“I say to you quite frankly that the time for racial discrimination is over.”

His words were appreciated and welcomed by moderates and liberals in Georgia but the tone of his campaign, passing himself off as “basically a redneck,” was confounding. It may be important that your candidate wins but it’s also important that your candidate wins honestly.

Jimmy Carter was a successful if not beloved governor in Georgia. Restricted to only one consecutive term as governor, he would find himself out of work in January 1975. Some felt he wasn’t popular enough to be elected dogcatcher in the state, let alone U.S. Senator or to the governor’s office again in four years. So he expanded his territory and aimed high. On December 13, 1974, he announced his candidacy for President of the United States.

Not having a job, Carter was able to hit the hustings early, making hay early against a less-than-compelling group vying for the Democratic nomination. As spring 1976 approached, the party’s establishment cast a wary eye on the Georgian. Anyone-But-Carter stirrings commenced. Candidates such as Frank Church and Jerry Brown jumped in but it was too late. Carter had built up a sizable lead in the early innings. The nomination was his. Now all he had to do was defeat President Gerald Ford, already hindered by a weak economy and his pardon of former President Richard Nixon.

But once Ford fought off Ronald Reagan for the Republican nomination, he found his own voice and hit the road, labeling Carter as a waffler. Even if one didn’t favor Ford, his new-found passion was impressive. “He wavers, he wanders, he wiggles and he waffles, and he shouldn’t be President of the United States,” Ford declared from the stump, seeming to enjoy himself.

Carter nearly wasn’t President of the United States. The Ford attacks were effective as Carter blew a wide lead in the opinion polls. Just a few weeks before the election, an interview with Carter appeared in Playboy magazine. The interview was fascinating, perhaps the most open presentation a candidate for the presidency has ever made. But Carter opened up too much, acknowledging that even as a devoted Christian, he too sinned, occasionally lusting in his heart for other women. That didn’t upset his wife Rosalyn though the Bible-thumpers, especially in the Deep South states where Carter’s lead was precarious, were aghast.

But the Deep South came through for Carter, even by the tiniest margins, like in Mississippi. On the morning after election day the margin of victory didn’t matter so much. Now it was time for Carter and his team to shape a government as he liked to put it, “as good as the American people.”

Looking back, Carter’s ’76 campaign, at the beginning a lonely sojourn, is awe-inspiring. “Jimmy Who?” moved from handshake to handshake to the Democratic nomination at Madison Square Garden and then to the new place his family called home, The White House, in two years’ time. There were bumps in the road during the campaign, but Carter came away undaunted. Being president, however was another matter. The job is quite often a matter of damage control. Unexpectedly, things happen in the government and abroad that test a president’s executive skills. It’s a complicated world; the president has to respond in a business-like manner. Americans expect the president to be in control, to be an expert in crisis management. What harms a presidency most is a sense of things unraveling from within.

Now You Must Provide Some Answers . . . .  Things were going well enough for Carter in the early months of his administration until the personal finances of his Office of Management and Budget Director Bert Lance were called into question. The man tasked with managing the nation’s finances was hardly prudent or transparent with his own. Lance, a longtime friend of Carter’s, went down slow and hard once questions about big loans and bank overdrafts were raised. It was a short presidential honeymoon and the ardor could not be rekindled, not even after Lance’s resignation.

Jimmy Carter did not see himself as Commander in Chief of Damage Control. He set lofty goals for his administration. With Vietnam and Watergate in the rear view, it was a time for changes in direction, even some that seemed radical to much of the American public. One was securing the Torrijos-Carter Treaties, which gave Panama control of the Panama Canal after 1999. There was a hue and cry over the idea of the United States giving back anything, even if was something, as one politico said, that we had “stolen fair and square.” Negotiations to turn over the canal to Panama began during the Lyndon Johnson administration and continued under Nixon and Ford. Carter sought quick implementation. He got it but it became a major wedge issue in the next two elections (’78 & ’80). 20 of the 68 senators who voted to ratify the treaties were turned away by voters. Carter realized the risk they were taking. In 2010, he paid tribute to those who voted for ratification by calling it “the most courageous vote in the history of the U.S, Congress.”

Carter showed great fortitude and creativity in negotiating the Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt in the the late summer of 1978. Twelve days of secret negotiations resulting in a peace that has held for four decades.

There was another breakthrough less than three months later. On December 15, Carter announced the United States on January 1, 1979 would grant formal diplomatic recognition to the Peoples Republican of China. It was the finishing touch on what started when Nixon went to China in 1972 and is still — for better or worse — the most significant foreign policy move of the last 75 years.

Americans had to be impressed. Their president was a peacemaker. That sort of reputation didn’t hurt Carter midway through his first term. In politics, however, glory fades quickly. He was getting hit on his left by Teddy Kennedy. Surely Kennedy wouldn’t seek the 1980 nomination; would he? He was getting hit on his right by Ronald Reagan, who just missed being the 1976 Republican nominee. He was loaded for bear. On the day the U.S. officially recognized China, there were still 22 months before the presidential election. The season of crisis management was at hand.

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Immigration policy https://likethedew.com/2019/11/27/immigration-policy/ https://likethedew.com/2019/11/27/immigration-policy/#respond Wed, 27 Nov 2019 15:20:18 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=72359

Under pressure from the state, Nashville Mayor John Cooper has rescinded former Mayor Briley’s order discouraging cooperation with ICE. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. The deeper problem of what to do about immigration in Tennessee, the South and the nation remains. We need national leadership an d it's sorely lacking.

On immigration, our President is duplicitous… no surprise. His deception is consistent with his long-standing record of using “alternate facts” to prove whatever weird point he chooses to make. Let’s look at that record.

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Under pressure from the state, Nashville Mayor John Cooper has rescinded former Mayor Briley’s order discouraging cooperation with ICE. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. The deeper problem of what to do about immigration in Tennessee, the South and the nation remains. We need national leadership an d it’s sorely lacking.

On immigration, our President is duplicitous… no surprise. His deception is consistent with his long-standing record of using “alternate facts” to prove whatever weird point he chooses to make. Let’s look at that record.

Anyone who has seen the photo spreads (in the British version of GQ) of a half-naked Melania Knauss on Trump’s own plane knows what the future President saw in her. Let me give you a hint: it was not her brain. 

Melania Knauss Trump applying for her Einstein visa

So, how did Melania of Slovenia gain entrance into the good old USA and obtain citizenship? According to Washington Post reports earlier this year, the “Einstein visa” was her route to becoming a citizen. This specialized EB-1 visa is given to top people in their field and completely short circuits the usual visa process. Per the Washington Post it’s given to people who have:  “an extraordinary ability, are an outstanding professor or researcher, or are a multinational executive or manager.”

Prior to meeting Donald, minor-league model Melania was on a series of temporary work permits beginning in 1996. But after dating playboy Donald (starting in 1998), she was suddenly deemed to be very special, obtained a top immigration attorney and miraculously got “Einstein” status in 2001. In fact, in 2001 only 5 people from Slovenia were admitted under the EB-1 category. According to the Washington Post report, only .003% of immigrants (3 in 1000), were accepted that year through this program, which was established to bring top scientists, Nobel laureates and the like into the country… not little known, undistinguished runway models whose primary talent is dating a narcistic showman.

As indicated in the Washington Post, David Leopold, past President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, stated: “What did she submit? There are a lot of questions about how she procured entry into the United States.” To say the least, Mr. Leopold.

Then, after she became a citizen, her parents (Viktor and Amalija Knavs) were brought over from Slovenia in 2006 as “permanent residents”. But, by then Melania was a Trump, not a Knauss. They are now citizens themselves, no surprise.

Strange, I have never heard our President say that it was wrong for Melania to bring them over under the “chain migration” provision that he says is just awful and 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 the Melania situation.

Very little is made of the documented fact that Trump Tower, where Trump lived before the White House, was built in 1980 by Polish illegals. Per Time magazine (8-25-16): “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 even worse, the contractor failed to pay the workers what they were owed. Eventually, the matter ended up in court, no rarity for Trump related ventures. The Polish illegals 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. Eventually, Trump settled

Criminals who “infest our country” is how Trump describes illegal immigrants. If that is true, why did he seek out illegals to work on his Tower? When will he inscribe “built by an infestation of rapists, criminal and animals” on the front of the Tower?  Are the laws just for us and not him?

Is it fine for Trump to declare that he can do nothing about his policy of separating babies from their mothers at the border? And then falsely blame it on Democrats saying it is not his policy but their law? And then to suddenly reverse course and say he is correcting a great injustice, while never admitting that it is his own policy that created the great injustice in the first place?

We need immigration reform. But it won’t happen until we have real leadership. And that means a change in 2020.

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Tillis, Kurds and Military Spending https://likethedew.com/2019/11/18/tillis-kurds-and-military-spending/ https://likethedew.com/2019/11/18/tillis-kurds-and-military-spending/#respond Mon, 18 Nov 2019 14:20:09 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=72345

“There aren't that many hate crimes occurring in the country” – Tucker Carlson (2-22-19)

Defense spending is an important economic factor, especially in North Carolina and the rest of the South. Defense personnel spending in NC had an annual impact of 7.1 billion in 2017; NC is the fifth highest such state with only VA, CA, TX and Maryland spending more. Generating over $1,000 annually in defense spending per resident (oea.gov) and 140,434 jobs, many in this area of the state, the military is a driver of the local economy. 

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“There aren’t that many hate crimes occurring in the country” – Tucker Carlson (2-22-19)

Defense spending is an important economic factor, especially in North Carolina and the rest of the South.  Defense personnel spending in NC had an annual impact of 7.1 billion in 2017; NC is the fifth highest such state with only VA, CA, TX and Maryland spending more. Generating over $1,000 annually in defense spending per resident (oea.gov) and 140,434 jobs, many in this area of the state, the military is a driver of the local economy. 

More importantly, if not for our vaunted military, I would not be free. Neither would the reader nor any other American.

Our military has certainly been shown to be effective in promoting the dual goals of world order and democracy. We have been a steady force, supporting our allies…which is why both Democrats and Republican politicians are so upset at Trump’s decision to let our Kurdish allies be slaughtered by Turkey, which considers them terrorists.

I fully agree with the President that we have got to get out of permanent wars. But there are certain areas where we must have a presence because if we are not, a power vacuum is created. In this case, filled by Iran, Syria, Russia and Turkey. None of these nations are friendly to democracy.

I don’t understand why any Senator, Republican or Democrat, would say that we do not have the resources (see below) to help protect our Kurdish allies at least until an equitable withdrawal can be arranged. And, I cannot understand why Tillis (or any) Senator would give our erratic, spontaneous, unknowledgeable President the “benefit of the doubt” when he was obviously suckered by a Turkish despot into making an impromptu phone call decision to withdraw our forces and leave our longtime allies to be slaughtered. 

We are without any doubt the strongest military power the earth has ever known, spending as much as the next ten major powers combined on defense. Military spending has already doubled in the last 10 years to over $700 billion dollars annually. We also spend 4% of our gross national product on the military, while most NATO nations spend around 1%.

So, the national resources are clearly there to achieve our aims. But Congress must determine if our military spending is both efficient and effective, a constitutionally mandated role that Tillis and those like him refuse to play, preferring to look the other way while this President makes all decisions unilaterally (including abandoning the Kurds, as well as reallocating NC military projects and spending the money on an ineffective border “wall”).  

As a fiscal conservative and former corporate exec, the questions that must be asked by Congress are: “what is the appropriate level of funding for defense?” and “where should that money be spent”? Tillis and other supposed conservatives have simply got to get over their long-time addiction to blindly increasing our military spending and then delegating responsibility to this President without any public oversight. 

The Syrian Kurdish situation is just the latest example. Trump’s erratic move will simply cause greater instability and conflict in the region, which will inevitably lead to more American involvement later on. And, much greater long-term expenditures by the USA. Senator Tillis, how is this being fiscally responsible, conservative… or rational?

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Michael Cohen’s Lesson https://likethedew.com/2019/11/12/michael-cohens-lesson/ https://likethedew.com/2019/11/12/michael-cohens-lesson/#respond Tue, 12 Nov 2019 14:55:15 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=72334

They’re cheering Trump in Atlanta, cheering him in Monroe, La.

This is the world of TV that Neil Postman warned about in Amusing Ourselves to Death, now taken over the whole American brain and nervous system, our national politics. The system now seems to have no memory, not even of the TV drama we saw 10 months ago. My memory ain’t so good any more either, and spending time with my father, whose memory gears are totally stripped, makes me wonder if I remember correctly that scene on CNN back in February.

That was when Michael Cohen, Trump’s “fixer” for 12 years, came clean in sworn testimony before the House Oversight Committee chaired by Rep. Elijah Cummings. Cohen was a broken man, the very image at the heart of the gospel, confessed and empty and ready to begin to be a full human for the first time, humble, in tears, bearing witness. And Cummings was up there on the dais, the son of sharecroppers and a black Baptist, looking like a preacher, judging but sympathetic.

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They’re cheering Trump in Atlanta, cheering him in Monroe, La.

This is the world of TV that Neil Postman warned about in Amusing Ourselves to Death, now taken over the whole American brain and nervous system, our national politics. The system now seems to have no memory, not even of the TV drama we saw 10 months ago. My memory ain’t so good any more either, and spending time with my father, whose memory gears are totally stripped, makes me wonder if I remember correctly that scene on CNN back in February.

Michael Cohen and Elijah Cummings caricatures by DonkeyHotey

That was when Michael Cohen, Trump’s “fixer” for 12 years, came clean in sworn testimony before the House Oversight Committee chaired by Rep. Elijah Cummings. Cohen was a broken man, the very image at the heart of the gospel, confessed and empty and ready to begin to be a full human for the first time, humble, in tears, bearing witness. And Cummings was up there on the dais, the son of sharecroppers and a black Baptist, looking like a preacher, judging but sympathetic.

“If we as a nation did not give people an opportunity after they made mistakes to change their lives, a whole lot of people would not do very well,” Cummings said. He seemed to be rising to that heroic level that Sen. Sam Ervin of North Carolina attained during the Watergate hearings. “We are better than this,” he said. “We really are. As a country, we are so much better than this.”

Cohen sat silently listening to this sermon, and began to cry.

Cohen is spending three years in a federal prison now, forgotten. Elijah Cummings is dead, and seems forgotten.

Republicans now have joined hands to defend Trump against this impeachment inquiry. They are doing, in their own fashion, what Cohen warned them that he had done for so many years.

“Everybody’s job at the Trump organization is to protect Mr. Trump,” Cohen said.

“Every day, most of us knew, we were coming in, and we were going to lie for him. And that became the norm.”

Every day, the Republican have their talking points, their defenses for Trump. Back in February, against the dramatic scene that played out between Cohen and Cummings, their  defense was that Cohen admitted he had lied, over and over, so why should we believe him now?

That’s an interesting catch. If someone who has lied and lied and lied for his boss wants to come clean, what can he do? Confess. But he’s a liar. So his confession must be a lie.

“That’s some catch, that Catch-22,” [Yossarian] observed. “It’s the best there is,” Doc Daneeka agreed.

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Are We Wired for Religious Intolerance? https://likethedew.com/2019/11/12/are-we-wired-for-religious-intolerance/ https://likethedew.com/2019/11/12/are-we-wired-for-religious-intolerance/#respond Tue, 12 Nov 2019 13:20:41 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=72320 If somebody with $10 in his checking account tries to buy a house with a check for $500,000, his belief that God will cover the check won’t spare him criminal prosecution or at least a psychiatric examination. We take it as a mark of a character or mental disorder when people rely on mere belief to make things happen in their material environment. Hardly anybody over about the age of ten expects the world to work that way.

But faith in the power of mere belief is the cornerstone of one of the world’s great religions. The best-known verse in the New Testament’s Gospel of John (in the King James version) is, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” According to Wikipedia, this one verse has been called the “Gospel in a nutshell,” so central it is to mainstream Christianity.

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If somebody with $10 in his checking account tries to buy a house with a check for $500,000, his belief that God will cover the check won’t spare him criminal prosecution or at least a psychiatric examination. We take it as a mark of a character or mental disorder when people rely on mere belief to make things happen in their material environment. Hardly anybody over about the age of ten expects the world to work that way.

But faith in the power of mere belief is the cornerstone of one of the world’s great religions. The best-known verse in the New Testament’s Gospel of John (in the King James version) is, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” According to Wikipedia, this one verse has been called the “Gospel in a nutshell,” so central it is to mainstream Christianity.

Let that sink in for a minute. The overwhelming majority of us don’t rely on mere belief to populate our checking accounts. But a great many of the same people who aren’t that loony are guided through life by the deep conviction that they can exempt themselves from the laws of physics and biology if they just accept that Jesus is who he says he is: The Son of God. When Martin Luther insisted that we’re “saved by faith” rather than works as the Catholic Church held, he was adamant that the faith involved, judged at the bar of reason, is crazy, as he put it, “impossible, absurd and false.” We alone among living creatures think, in the teeth of overwhelming contrary evidence, that we can secure eternal life just by believing that God will suspend for our sake laws of his own creation that would otherwise permanently reduce us one day to a few dollars’ worth of chemicals.

Rise of the guardaians from Dreamworks
Right to left: Sandman, Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Jack Frost.

So powerful is the pull of this privileged instance of the miraculous power of mere belief that it captures people of every station in life. Jimmy Carter, former nuclear engineer and president, talking to his Sunday School class recently about death, said, “I will live again.” And the congregant of a rural Alabama church told a newspaper reporter about Heaven that “It’s gonna be suitable to each person. So, whatever makes me happy. I like birds. So outside my window, there will be birds.”

If we were this credulous about virtually everything else in life, we’d make a wreck of it in short order. So what could possibly be going on here?

Browsing old newspapers for another project, I came across a 1958 Atlanta Constitution column by one Charles L. Allen, a minister. Following Ralph Waldo Emerson, Rev. Allen said, “We are by nature instinctively and incurably worshipers. We have an insatiable hunger for the Eternal.”

Michelangelo’s The Last Judgement in the Sistine Chapel.

I think that’s right, though not for the reason that Rev. Allen does. The conviction, crazy by Martin Luther’s estimate, that we can secure nothing less than immortality by stocking up on the right beliefs reflects our evolutionary inheritance, the way natural selection has wired us. We’re fiercely attached to our lives because most creatures who aren’t don’t survive long enough to reproduce, passing along their genes to their offspring. So ingrained is our will to live that we can’t easily reconcile ourselves to the prospect of just disappearing into nothingness. Hence, the “insatiable hunger for the Eternal” that Rev. Allen spoke of. The immense religious edifice we’ve erected on the “Gospel in a nutshell” is the work of our genome. That’s what drives us to project ourselves out into an eternal future, complete with windows and birds outside them.

But what would otherwise be a benign offshoot of natural selection has a downside. The same wiring that makes believers of many of us makes intolerant believers of some of us. The stakes, remember, couldn’t be higher: nothing less than eternal life. And you don’t get that by believing in just anything, not Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy or the Great Pumpkin. Eternity depends on signing onto the right belief, the true one. Get it wrong and you’re just worm food.

That puts immense pressure on the religious freedom guarantees we enjoy under the First Amendment to the Constitution. They’re meant to carve out a private sphere within which we’re at liberty to believe as we think fit about ultimate things, like eternal life, and to live accordingly.

But American religious pluralism demands that we still the promptings of our evolutionary inheritance insofar as it says, “This way and no other.” If it’s our very biological makeup that drives us perversely to doctrines we’re convinced hold the key to casting off the bondage of organic nature and graduating to supernatural eternity, then some of us aren’t going to be able to survey the diverse American religious scene as a collection of equally eligible “life-styles.” After all, if the religious views I reject are just eligible “life-styles,” then I have no assurance that my religious commitments aren’t just one more eligible “life-style” choice among the rest. But life-styles don’t win eternity. Only true belief does. And since biological makeup doesn’t vary from person to person, virtually everybody is under pressure, to some degree, to take his or her own religious beliefs as the saving ones and all contrary ones as damning. And it’s a dangerously short step from there to the belief that error has no rights.

If there’s anything to this story, it isn’t just religious beliefs other than our own that we’re wired to reject. We’re just as wired to reject anything that casts doubt on whatever we’ve seized on as the “keys to the Kingdom.” It’s evolution’s little joke that our very evolutionary endowment, our biologically-based fierce attachment to life, turns many religious believers just as fiercely against any naturalistic accounts of why they hold the beliefs on which they’ve staked their eternal life.

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No, Tucker, South Carolina hate crimes are real https://likethedew.com/2019/11/12/no-tucker-south-carolina-hate-crimes-are-real/ https://likethedew.com/2019/11/12/no-tucker-south-carolina-hate-crimes-are-real/#respond Tue, 12 Nov 2019 13:08:34 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=72322

“There aren't that many hate crimes occurring in the country” – Tucker Carlson (2-22-19)

Black and gay Empire star Jesse Smollett made up a story about being attacked; his lie may have far reaching consequences, especially for Fox viewers. From now on, regardless of the facts, they will be told by Fox that all hate crimes are just “snowflake” mirages. And, because Fox viewers believe all other news sources are biased, don’t try to confuse them with reality.

The truth’s much different. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is the national authority on hate crimes. The SPLC documented the rise in hate groups over the last few years. Pre-Trump (2015) there were 892 groups. The number has grown every year since, with 2018 seeing 1020 hate groups, 17 in South Carolina.

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“There aren’t that many hate crimes occurring in the country” – Tucker Carlson (2-22-19)

Tucker Carlson - caricature by DonkeyHotey

Black and gay Empire star Jesse Smollett made up a story about being attacked; his lie may have far reaching consequences, especially for Fox viewers. From now on, regardless of the facts, they will be told by Fox that all hate crimes are just “snowflake” mirages. And, because Fox viewers believe all other news sources are biased, don’t try to confuse them with reality.

The truth’s much different. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is the national authority on hate crimes. The SPLC documented the rise in hate groups over the last few years. Pre-Trump (2015) there were 892 groups. The number has grown every year since, with 2018 seeing 1020 hate groups, 17 in South Carolina.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has indicated much the same. There were nearly 2000 anti-Semitic incidents in 2017, up 60% nationally from the year before. Some were very serious, including 163 bomb threats.

FBI 2017 statistics, which only include crimes reported to the authorities and thus under-report, show the fallacy of Carlson’s statement. The FBI documented over 8000 hate related offenses. The breakdown of these offenses was: 60% racial/ethnic; 21% religious (mostly against Jews); and the rest primarily sexual orientation. Over three fourths were committed against individuals versus institutions.

As usual, Carlson was ridiculously non-objective in his zeroing in on the Smollett incident. Just one week before the Carlson rant, Coast Guard Lt. Chris Hasson was arrested by the FBI and accused of planning a mass terror attack. His target list included liberal TV news personalities and Senators, among others. What has Carlson said about this hate crimes case? Nothing at all, naturally.

Advocating a “white homeland,” Hasson, who has been in the military for decades, has written that he was a “skinhead” and wants whites to “wake up.” And, he’s not the only one having been in our military with these views. Look up Tim McVeigh, Michael Tubbs, and Louis Beam. How many other current members of our Armed Forces feel the same? Why haven’t these folks already been weeded out of our defense forces?

Carlson was correct in one way; hate crimes against white, old-money, upper-class Episcopalians like him are rare (especially in lily white La Jolla where he’s from). As historian Rutger Bregman told him on air in a segment which never ran: “You are a millionaire funded by billionaires, that’s what you are.”

 But Carlson and others need to accept that this is an increasingly diverse country and folks like him are not in the majority…certainly not in the growing multi-ethnic, multi-racial millennial group. The rest of us should be and are concerned about hate and violence, especially in the age of “both sides” are equally wrong Trumpism.

It is very encouraging that Georgia, one of 5 states with no hate crimes statute, is finally recognizing that there is a problem there. It is significant that a new Hate Crimes bill (HB 426) has been sponsored in the Georgia House by a Republican, Rep. Efstration (note: Georgia’s 2000 Hate Crimes bill was declared invalid by Georgia’s Supreme Court). And, the Indiana Senate just passed a similar bill. That will leave SC as one of only three states without hate crimes legislation, although bills have been introduced every year since the Charleston massacre.

As an ADL spokeswoman said: “Hate crimes are different… Hate crimes are felt by entire communities, and when they are not adequately addressed, entire communities feel isolated, disenfranchised, unsafe and threatened.” Now is the time to act, South Carolina legislators. Now, not later.

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Police Shootings-Texas https://likethedew.com/2019/11/05/police-shootings-texas/ https://likethedew.com/2019/11/05/police-shootings-texas/#respond Tue, 05 Nov 2019 19:12:49 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=72309 Other than California, Texas has the most killings of civilians by police officers (MappingPoliceViolence.org). Having lived in both states, this is disturbing to me. 

From 2013-2016, 303 unarmed African Americans were shot and killed by police in the USA. Women accounted for 25 of these deaths.

In all likelihood, in most instances these officers incorrectly thought “he has a gun”. Clearly, better law enforcement training and recruitment are needed. But if we had tighter gun laws, maybe police officers wouldn’t be so afraid of being shot and overreact.

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Other than California, Texas has the most killings of civilians by police officers (MappingPoliceViolence.org). Having lived in both states, this is disturbing to me. 

From 2013-2016, 303 unarmed African Americans were shot and killed by police in the USA. Women accounted for 25 of these deaths.

In all likelihood, in most instances these officers incorrectly thought “he has a gun.” Clearly, better law enforcement training and recruitment are needed. But if we had tighter gun laws, maybe police officers wouldn’t be so afraid of being shot and overreact.

Therefore, there are two interrelated but separate problems which need to be addressed: a) police violence against black citizens as described above and b) guns in the hands of people who should not have them, permitting them to commit crimes.

Law Enforcement

Between January 2013 and Dec. 2018, there were 133 African Americans killed by Texas law enforcement. That’s roughly double the rate for other races.

I am from a law enforcement family with relatives who have been with the FBI, New York Police Department and corrections departments. I fully support the appropriate use of force against criminals, regardless of race. And, I believe officers should be treated with respect.

But respect goes both ways. We cannot simply assume a police officer is in the right if all the evidence shows him to be wrong. And, that seems to be the case in both the Dallas and Fort Worth shootings.

Lancet is a British academic medical journal, one of the most respected in the world.  As reported in Lancet (June 21, 2018) researchers found: “… police killings of unarmed black Americans have a meaningful … impact on the mental health of black Americans;” “Mental health impacts were not observed among white respondents and resulted only [in the black community} from police killings of unarmed black Americans …” These statements were based on a survey of nearly 39,000 African Americans.

Based on their review of past studies, these researchers also found: “There is strong evidence of systematic targeting of black Americans by police in the identification of criminal suspects, as well as in their prosecution, conviction, and sentencing in the criminal justice system.” Further, they found that police were “rarely charged, indicted, or successfully prosecuted.”

For many decades black (and some white) ministers have been preaching about overt police violence against black men. Nothing has come of their good intentions. It’s past time for action, not talk or prayer.

There is a reason why only 35% of black respondents believe that police are doing a good job compared to 75% of whites (Pew poll, 2016). Targeting of black residents via profiling must be stopped.

Police must receive basic training to understand the history of minorities in the USA and their interactions with police. Bad apples must be weeded out at the Police Academy level.  Training for experienced law enforcement officers must occur on a recurring basis. Confidential reporting instances of police racial bias should be facilitated. Finally, when instances of police brutality are discovered, appropriate punishment must be netted out.

Gun Control

Regarding the broader issue of gun control, the Gifford State Gun Law rankings are out. The Gifford report shows conclusively that states with tougher firearm laws have fewer gun deaths. 

Texas scores an “F” due to very lenient gun laws. It also has the 12.4-gun deaths per 100,000 which is above the national average. My NRA buddies always reply: “what about New York?” Well, New York deaths are only 3.7 per 100,000 residents.Texas, with lots of guns, has a death rate three times New York.

When you read this newspaper and others, it seems that there is always a shooting in the city or nearby. Contrary to what the NRA states, every “good guy” having a gun is not the solution. Why then isn’t the state legislature pushing for greater gun control? The NRA (and its lobbyist’s money) is the answer.

Per the Gifford Report, Texas legislation is needed to: 

  • Strengthen background checks by preventing “gun show” type sales where no background check is currently done
  • Restrict carry permits
  • Permit cities and counties to further regulate firearms
  • Restrict the sales of semi-automatic assault weapons, large magazines and unsafe handguns
  • Limit how many guns can be purchased within a specific timeframe
  • Require gun owners to register their arms and report transfers of ownership

If Texas residents want to lessen unjustifiable police brutality and the use of guns by criminal elements, they will vote for elected officials who endorse the above actions. The alternative is to do nothing, permitting discrimination and violence to continue.

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The Best World Series Ever https://likethedew.com/2019/11/01/the-best-world-series-ever/ https://likethedew.com/2019/11/01/the-best-world-series-ever/#respond Fri, 01 Nov 2019 12:51:29 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=72302

Watching baseball really isn’t really my thing … my thing was rugby, l lost some teeth but had loads of fun. But without a doubt this is the best World Series I have ever witnessed.

Recently in the NYT’s there was an Op-ed by Jennifer Weiner discussing the appropriateness of heckling President Douchebag at a baseball game. And there is much to agree with what she says. The writer admits to deriving a certain pleasure of watching Doofus Donny’s face turn from a triumphant-emperor grin just to melt into a petulant child-frown as he realizes he struck out in the Worlds Series of Fuck You.

The “Lock Him Up” chant was a bit of icing on the cake. But the writer deals in half measures. She finds his behavior valid of being booed – but doesn’t like the fact that she enjoyed him being booed. Really? That’s your crime against humanity? She tries to appeal to her better angels and wades into the tired “Is this who we should be?” argument.

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Watching baseball really isn’t really my thing … my thing was rugby, l lost some teeth but had loads of fun. But without a doubt this is the best World Series I have ever witnessed.

Recently in the NYT’s there was an Op-ed by Jennifer Weiner discussing the appropriateness of heckling President Douchebag at a baseball game. And there is much to agree with what she says. The writer admits to deriving a certain pleasure of watching Doofus Donny’s face turn from a triumphant-emperor grin just to melt into a petulant child-frown as he realizes he struck out in the Worlds Series of Fuck You.

The “Lock Him Up” chant was a bit of icing on the cake. But the writer deals in half measures. She finds his behavior valid of being booed – but doesn’t like the fact that she enjoyed him being booed. Really? That’s your crime against humanity? She tries to appeal to her better angels and wades into the tired “Is this who we should be?” argument.

Here are a couple of her quotes and my response.
The booing is fine. It’s my own reaction to the booing that troubles me — the joy I took from Mr. Trump’s pain and the example it sets for my kids.- A) If the booing was fine, then it shouldn’t trouble you and B) Your kids need to learn this shit as early as possible so they don’t let it happen like we did.

We — Democrats, liberals, progressives, the resistance, whatever you call the other side — are supposed to be better than that. There is no comparison, we are better than they are and booing a lying douchebag doesn’t change that. When are we going to realize that treason, high crimes and misdemeanors, lying to the American people, gutting the judicial, stealing a president’s Supreme Court pick, and talking to our enemies in private are all a bit worse than booing?

Her thinking is that Michelle Obama’s “When they go low, we go high” may be a better way to deal with this disgusting administration and the ignorant goons that support him. And I love Michelle, a whip-smart, classy woman if I ever saw one. And I think that “going high’ is good advice at most dinner parties. Well, dinner parties which don’t include republicans – because who would want to eat food that has been around a republican? She feels that in the battle to instill decency and morality back into the public sphere acting in an impolite manner may destroy our decency and morality. She poses the question – who we will be after this shit-gibbon is finally gone? Will we become shit-gibbons? The answer is no, no we won’t, not by a long shot. Did we abandon all decency after the American Revolution? We did call King George a lot of shitty names, and not just at baseball games, we printed those slurs against his majesty in newspapers. (Now, we did abandon our decency after the Civil War but I’ll let that lie for now.)

The Op-ed confused me as I didn’t think this type of thing needed explaining to the general public. I thought the stadium response to a vile, lying sum-bitch was appropriate and self-explanatory. It made me proud that America can still fill a baseball stadium with mostly decent people. We aren’t going to politely talk this president or any republican into doing the right thing – that just ain’t happnin’. So, when do we take the blinders (and gloves) off?

“Going low” doesn’t destroy one’s humanity, it doesn’t dissolve one’s morality, and it doesn’t nullify ones decency. Every so often there comes a time when you must fight or be destroyed – the Hitlers and Mussolinis had to be killed to be stopped – they weren’t talked out of stopping. And they started the same way disgusting Donny started. If groups of people had “gone much lower, much sooner,” things would have been better, fewer people would have died. My advice, don’t tolerate the intolerable.

And those that fought, protested, hated, killed, and died to defeat those vile forces did not lose their morality, decency and sense of better self – they preserved it.

Just as violence, horror and immortality will always be a permanent part of mankind, decency and principle are always hiding in there as well. Decency and principal are also baked into man’s DNA, just in smaller amounts.

The real question is “when and how fast” do you go low in order to outflank the abhorrent rise of violence, immorality, bigotry, and the gutting of the legal system standing before you? It’s a little late to be worried about common courtesy. Act now before it washes over you leaving only loss in its wake. If the snake grows significantly larger much will be lost. At the point people have to spill blood in order to self-correct – your philosophy of what is civil and what is not won’t matter a whit. 

The booing and chanting at the stadium was morality in action. It was “going high” … it was American values on display for us to see and act upon.

So, play ball. Vote like your life depends on it – because it does.

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Deconstructing Trump: The Trump Phenomenon Through the Lens of Quotation History by Dr. Mardy Grothe https://likethedew.com/2019/10/29/deconstructing-trump-the-trump-phenomenon-through-the-lens-of-quotation-history-by-dr-mardy-grothe/ https://likethedew.com/2019/10/29/deconstructing-trump-the-trump-phenomenon-through-the-lens-of-quotation-history-by-dr-mardy-grothe/#respond Tue, 29 Oct 2019 19:28:09 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=72266 “What a sweep of vanity comes this way.”—Shakespeare

Dr. Mardy Grothe has compiled an anthology of quotations in his new book Deconstructing Trump that will astound, entertain, and educate you as he puts our disturbing current era into historical perspective.

In his preface, Grothe writes that he has given us “one-thousand quotes from the past—most from the very distant past—that speak to the unconventional, controversial, and even clownish political novice, Donald J. Trump.” These quotations are stirring and give us a vantage point to understand better the recklessness of the man and his administration.

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“What a sweep of vanity comes this way.”—Shakespeare

Cover of Deconstructing Trump: The Trump Phenomenon Through the Lens of Quotation History by Dr. Mardy Grothe

Dr. Mardy Grothe has compiled an anthology of quotations in his new book Deconstructing Trump that will astound, entertain, and educate you as he puts our disturbing current era into historical perspective.

In his preface, Grothe writes that he has given us “one-thousand quotes from the past—most from the very distant past—that speak to the unconventional, controversial, and even clownish political novice, Donald J. Trump.” These quotations are stirring and give us a vantage point to understand better the recklessness of the man and his administration.

As a psychologist, Grothe tells us how many people fell into what his profession calls reactive depression after Trump was elected. He found himself in shock after Trump’s victory and had trouble coping with the new reality. He had difficulty concentrating, smiled and laughed less, drank a bit more than he should, and slept fitfully. He soon realized he was so negatively affected by Trump that he came up with the label Trump Adjustment Disorder. Thus, he found a way out of his depression through bibliotherapy, a form of supportive psychotherapy in which carefully selected reading materials are used to assist a subject in solving personal problems.

When you open this book, you immediately sense that you are on the threshold of a great journey of illumination. Throughout, Grothe’s selection of quotations is straightforward, universally true, and speak for themselves without ever mentioning Trump by name. When asked, even Republicans told Grothe that the quotations fit Trump like the proverbial glove. In this collection, he has made perfume out of the tobacco juice that is the Trump presidency, to paraphrase the American essayist Elizabeth Hardwick.

A variety of examples create a brilliant billboard illuminating Trump’s vanity, boastfulness, extreme narcissism, deliberate distortions, downright lies, curdling malice, underhandedness, and outrageously crude language. Ranging in time from antiquity to the end of the twentieth century before he became president, they play the role of some goddess of retribution who holds the hammer of historical condemnation.

The book alphabetically spans the words of Abigail Adams to Émile Zola, with a considerable number of influential writers throughout history in-between. The reader is in the midst of a breathlessly exciting game. The quotations always find some way of taking hold, of confining, defining, and even possibly understanding the incoherence and fantasy of this administration. Here are a few examples:

“How is it possible that the love of gain and the lust of domination should render the human mind so callous to every principle of honor, generosity, and benevolence?”—Abigail Adams

“If you shut up truth and bury it under the ground, it will but grow, and gather to itself such explosive power that the day it bursts through it will blow up everything in its way.”— Émile Zola.

One of my favorites about half way through is from Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov,

A man who lies to himself is often the first to take offense. It sometimes feels very good to take offense, doesn’t it? And surely he knows no one has offended him, and that he himself has invented the offense and told lies just for the beauty of it, that he has exaggerated for the sake of effect, that he has picked on a word and made a mountain out of a pea—he knows all that, and still he is the first to take offense, he likes feeling offended, it gives him great pleasure, and thus he reaches the point of real hostility.”

An apt passage from Moliere’s Tartuffe (1664) sums up how the likes of Trump and many before him have masqueraded through history as so-called leaders hoodwinking too many naive people. And in verse, to boot:

“Those who have greatest cause for guilt and shame
Are quickest to besmirch a neighbor’s name.
When there’s a chance for libel, they never miss it;
When something can be made to seen illicit
They’re off at once to spread the joyous news,
Adding to fact what fantasies they choose.
By talking up their neighbor’s indiscretions
They seek to camouflage their own transgressions,
Hoping that others’ innocent affairs
Will lend a hue of innocence to theirs,
Or that their own black gold will come to seem
Part of a general shady color-scheme.”

Go out and buy your copy and several more for your friends and political opponents. These are the times that definitely try our souls.

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Camp Bucca, Abu Ghraib and the rise of extremism in Iraq https://likethedew.com/2019/10/29/camp-bucca-abu-ghraib-and-the-rise-of-extremism-in-iraq/ https://likethedew.com/2019/10/29/camp-bucca-abu-ghraib-and-the-rise-of-extremism-in-iraq/#respond Tue, 29 Oct 2019 18:45:45 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=72260 Yesterday morning, President Trump announced the death of Abu Bakr Al- Baghdadi and three of his children.  

President Trump said Al-Baghdadi, the founder of ISIS, was fleeing U.S. military forces, in a tunnel, and then killed himself by detonating a suicide vest he wore.

In 2004, Al-Baghdadi had been captured by U.S. forces and, for ten months, imprisoned in both Abu Ghraib and Camp Bucca.

I visited Camp Bucca in January, 2004 when, still under construction, the Camp was a network of tents, south of Basra, in an isolated, miserable area of Iraq. 

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Sunday morning, President Trump announced the death of Abu Bakr Al- Baghdadi and three of his children.  

President Trump said Al-Baghdadi, the founder of ISIS, was fleeing U.S. military forces, in a tunnel, and then killed himself by detonating a suicide vest he wore.

Video stills of Abu Bakr al-Bagdhadi and of a soldier torturing a prisoner at Abu Ghraib.

In 2004, Al-Baghdadi had been captured by U.S. forces and, for ten months, imprisoned in both Abu Ghraib and Camp Bucca.

I visited Camp Bucca in January, 2004 when, still under construction, the Camp was a network of tents, south of Basra, in an isolated, miserable area of Iraq. 

Before our three-person Voices delegation entered Iraq, that month, we waited for  visas in Amman, Jordan. While there, two young Palestinian men visited us and described their experiences during six months of imprisonment in Camp Bucca. Recalling the horrible experience, they remembered how fearful they felt, sleeping in sand infested with desert scorpions; they were paraded naked, for showers, in front of U.S. military women and told to bark like a dog or say “I love George Bush”  before their empty bowls would be filled with food. Unable to communicate with anyone outside the prison, they could only hope for release when their turn finally came to appear before a three-person Tribunal.

Five of their friends were still in the prison. They begged us to visit these friends and plead for their release. All of them were Palestinians studying for professional degrees in Baghdad. Reluctant to lose their chances of eventually graduating, they took a risk and remained in Baghdad throughout the 2003 Shock and Awe bombing. U.S. marines arrived at their dormitory on Baghdad’s Haifa Street and systematically rounded up students with foreign IDs. They were tagged as TCNs, “Third Country Nationals,” and herded off to various prisons.

In Baghdad, our friends in the Christian Peacemaker Teams had already developed a data base of names and prison numbers to help Iraqis discover the whereabouts of missing relatives. They found the prison numbers for two of the young men we were asked to visit and advised us to ask for Major Garrity, a U.S. military officer who was in charge of Camp Bucca.

We traveled to the southernmost town in Iraq, Umm Qasr, and sat on a weathered picnic table outside of Camp Bucca, awaiting Major Garrity’s decision. Prospects were bleak since we learned, upon arrival, that we’d come after visiting hours and the next day to visit was three days later. There was no shade, the sand was coated with black grease, and we constantly spat small black flies out of our mouths. Camp Bucca was one of the most hellish spots I’ve ever encountered. Yet we felt quite grateful when word arrived that Major Garrity had approved our visit.

A military pick-up truck drove us across an expanse of sand, and soon we were witnessing a tearful, tender embrace between one of the prisoners and his brother, a dentist from Baghdad, who had accompanied us. With no prompting, the prisoners, all in their twenties, corroborated the grievances their previously released friends expressed. They spoke of loneliness, monotony, humiliation and the fearful uncertainty prisoners face when held without charge by a hostile power with no evident plans to release them. They were, however, relieved to know we could tell their relatives we had met with them. Later, Major Garrity said the outlook for them being released wasn’t very positive. “Be glad they’re here with us and not in Baghdad,” she said, giving us a knowing look. “We give them food, clothes and shelter here. Be glad that they’re not in Baghdad.” Later, in May of 2004, CNN released pictures from the Abu Ghraib prison. We began to understand what she meant.

The November 3, 2005 issue of the New York Review of Books quoted three officers, two of them non-commissioned, stationed with the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Mercury in Iraq.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, they described in multiple interviews with Human Rights Watch how their battalion in 2003-2004 routinely used physical and mental torture as a means of intelligence gathering and for stress relief… Detainees in Iraq were consistently referred to as PUCs. The torture of detainees reportedly was so widespread and accepted that it became a means of stress relief, where soldiers would go to the PUC tent on their off-hours to “f**k a PUC” or “smoke a PUC.” “F**king a PUC” referred to beating a detainee, while “smoking a PUC” referred to forced physical exertion sometimes to the point of unconsciousness.

“Smoking” was not limited to stress relief but was central to the interrogation system employed by the 82nd Airborne Division at FOB Mercury. Officers and NCOs from the Military Intelligence unit would direct guards to “smoke” the detainees prior to an interrogation, and would direct that certain detainees were not to receive sleep, water, or food beyond crackers. Directed “smoking” would last for the twelve to twenty-four hours prior to an interrogation. As one soldier put it: “[The military intelligence officer] said he wanted the PUCs so fatigued, so smoked, so demoralized that they want to cooperate.

A sergeant told Human Rights Watch, “If he’s a good guy, you know, now he’s a bad guy because of the way we treated him.”

The violence that brought the Islamic State into being has a long history.

In numerous trips to Iraq from 1996 to 2003, our Voices delegation members grew to understand the unbearable weariness and suffering of Iraqi families eking out an uncertain existence under punishing economic sanctions. Between the wars, the death toll in children’s lives alone, from externally imposed economic collapse and from the blockade of food, medicine, water purification supplies and other essentials of survival, was estimated by the U.N. at 5,000 children a month, an estimate accepted without question by U.S. officials.

U.S. assaults, from Desert Storm (1991) to Shock and Awe (2003) — achieved through aerial bombings, children’s forced starvation, use of depleted uranium and white phosphorous, through bullet fire, night raids, blockaded medicines, emptied reservoirs and downed power lines, through abandoned state industries and cities left to dissolve in paroxysms of ethnic cleansing — have all been one continuous war. Along with the abuses of prisoners in places like Camp Bucca, FOB Mercury, Abu Ghraib, and Guantanamo, U.S. warfare predictably led to the buildup of ISIS and Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi’s commitment to “an eye for an eye.” 

Asked, in 2016, to talk about his favorite passage in the Bible, President Trump said “eye for an eye.” He didn’t seem to realize that Jesus rejected this teaching.

“But I say unto you,” Jesus said, “love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you.”

Rather than urge retaliation, Jesus spoke of dignified non-resistance through winning over the opponent.

We need not choose blindness, or the hatred that lets us be herded in fear. We can instead seek to pay reparations for suffering caused through our wars. We can work to abolish war, mourn the deaths of Al-Baghdadi’s children and question how conditions inside U.S. military camps, in Iraq, led to the extremism of Al-Baghdadi and his ISIS followers.

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Stop dividing America with words evoking racial terror https://likethedew.com/2019/10/29/stop-dividing-america-with-words-evoking-racial-terror/ https://likethedew.com/2019/10/29/stop-dividing-america-with-words-evoking-racial-terror/#respond Tue, 29 Oct 2019 17:43:31 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=72251

“Lynching” is a word that should be discarded from political discourse, especially throughout the South where thousands died from racial terror after the Civil War.

President Trump, now under intense scrutiny in a growing impeachment inquiry by the U.S. House of Representatives, tweeted in a diatribe in the wee hours of Oct. 22 that “All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here – a lynching.”

No, Mr. President.  You’re wrong. You are not being lynched.  You are not being physically ripped from the White House, bundled up ropes and taken by a mob for execution by shooting, hanging, burning or something as horrible. 

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“Lynching” is a word that should be discarded from political discourse, especially throughout the South where thousands died from racial terror after the Civil War.

President Trump, now under intense scrutiny in a growing impeachment inquiry by the U.S. House of Representatives, tweeted in a diatribe in the wee hours of Oct. 22 that “All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here – a lynching.”

No, Mr. President. You’re wrong. You are not being lynched. You are not being physically ripped from the White House, bundled up ropes and taken by a mob for execution by shooting, hanging, burning or something as horrible. 

What is happening, sir, is that you are facing the very process you deny is happening – due process required by the Constitution to investigate whether you and your administration violated the law in discussions with a foreign country. For the U.S. House – Democrats and Republicans – to do less is for them to abrogate their sworn duty. 

But because you don’t like what’s happening, can’t control it and want it to go away, you lash out, denigrate and act as unpresidential as any man to ever hold the top office in the land. Perhaps you’re trying to get people to pity you and massage your big ego. Perhaps you’re saying outrageous things to create further division, hoping to sweep under the rug any “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors” (Article Two, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution) by your administration.

From 1877 to 1950, an estimated 185 South Carolinians were racially lynched, according to the Equal Justice Initiative. So using a word like “lynching” to describe a process required in constitutional law is beyond the pale. Even as a rhetorical flourish in political debate, it is dangerous and politically patronizing because it reinforces 19th-century attitudes on race. It causes fear. It exacerbates the political and racial divide in a country with a sorry history of dealing with its past sins.

Your political ally, South Carolina’s own U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, should know better, too. In a defense of you, he rightfully said lynching was mob rule, but he whitewashed its true meaning by failing to admit its violence: “Yes, African-Americans were lynched, other people have people lynched throughout history. What does lynching mean? That a mob grabs you, they don’t give you a chance to defend yourself, they don’t tell you what happened to you, they just destroy you.”

Most lynching victims ended up dead, as described in a horrifying column by Michele Norris of the Race Card Project in the Washington Post: “Lynching was a fact of life for much of this country’s existence. It was the green light for decapitating the victim and the impulse to place a head on a stick and then place that stick into the ground on a well-traveled road and leave it there until the sun or the birds or the vermin had their way. Lynching was sometimes not enough. Bodies were burned and blowtorched and branded. They were gutted and skinned like animals. They were castrated, scalped, dismembered.”

Yet the president is alive and kicking. He is flailing away, destroying civility and American institutions, as recognized by some of Graham’s congressional colleagues.

South Carolina’s Tim Scott, the Senate’s only black Republican, didn’t describe the impeachment inquiry as a lynching. Rather, he said, “There’s no question that the impeachment process is the closest thing to a political death row trial, so I get his absolute rejection of the process. I wouldn’t use the word lynching.”

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat, went further on CNN: “I’m a product of the South. I know the history of that word. That is a word that we ought to be very, very careful about using.” Clyburn said he recognized that Trump was “prone to inflammatory statements, and that is one word that no president ought to apply to himself.” 

Yet the president continues to lash out at American institutions to try to save his hide. From now until the 2020 election, he’ll likely ramp up the rhetoric to create more division and fear. Stop it. It’s wrong. Face the music.

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Scared early on, why I feel a certain ownership of Halloween https://likethedew.com/2019/10/29/scared-early-on-why-i-feel-a-certain-ownership-of-halloween/ https://likethedew.com/2019/10/29/scared-early-on-why-i-feel-a-certain-ownership-of-halloween/#respond Tue, 29 Oct 2019 16:30:58 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=72246

From my earliest days, I‘ve always felt a certain “ownership” of Halloween. 

After all, it’s my birth date.

From my earliest recollection, Halloween has always scared me. Even to this day, I have no truck to watch scary television or movies nor enjoy horror stories.  Why give time to something that makes you feel uncomfortable?

The first Halloween that I recall was when I was perhaps two or three years old. We were living in Macon in an old Victorian house. People had tried to explain to me about Halloween, telling me how much fun I would have.

Yeah, sure.

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From my earliest days, I‘ve always felt a certain “ownership” of Halloween. 

After all, it’s my birth date.

From my earliest recollection, Halloween has always scared me. Even to this day, I have no truck to watch scary television or movies nor enjoy horror stories.  Why give time to something that makes you feel uncomfortable?

The first Halloween that I recall was when I was perhaps two or three years old. We were living in Macon in an old Victorian house. People had tried to explain to me about Halloween, telling me how much fun I would have.

Yeah, sure.

What I remember on Halloween night is that lots of children kept ringing our door bell, and I along with someone else (parents? Don’t know.) would go to the door, and see all kinds of goons and goblins dressed out in horrible looking masks and outfits and with makeshift instruments. 

Now recognize that this was before World War II, and that the costumes were not the sophisticated outfits that parents pay dearly for these days. These were homemade outfits that took on a sense of originality. I don’t remember a single outfit, but somewhere lurking in the background is a sense that some of these creatures were dressed in either sheets or overalls. Patchy overalls. Holes in the clothing. And carrying pitchforks and canes and other instruments in their hands. Some had their faces painted in disgusting ways.

And they all chanted the same thing: “Trick or treat?”  What was that?

In addition, they were acting too, appearing really scary to my young mind. And yes, I was apprehensive, up to the point that, pretty soon, I really didn’t care much about going to the door again when that bell rang. Yet someone seemed to coax me to the door again and again, and each time, I didn’t come back the happy young boy that I should have been in that day. I came back frightened.

All this worked into the night. I remember having dreams that night about those ragamuffins coming to our porch.

Let me tell you another aspect about Halloween: If I never see another orange, white and brown Halloween cake, it will be too soon for me. I may have enjoyed it at one time, but I consider that now pretty much a cliché, and just don’t want them around. Had enough. 

Back to the tricking and treating. In those olden days, those working Halloween meant business. If some family failed to produce the treats that these creatures were wanting, that family paid … in having their windows soaped. This was a routine from kids of those days, soaping business windows, cars parked on the street, and sometimes house windows in this outburst of mischief.  

One positive note of the modern day Halloween: the delightful story of Linus of Peanuts fame in the Halloween patch, awaiting the Great Pumpkin. The late Charles Schulz has given us a happy, lively, almost believable story of the ever-faithful Linus awaiting the Great Pumpkin coming “if he believes enough.”  Charlie Brown and the others may Trick or Treat or go to parties, but we can depend on Linus to be in that patch … awaiting.

May you have a happy Halloween. 

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Trump and Graham: It’s Complicated https://likethedew.com/2019/10/27/trump-and-graham-its-complicated/ https://likethedew.com/2019/10/27/trump-and-graham-its-complicated/#respond Sun, 27 Oct 2019 14:39:21 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=72235

“I think Lindsey Graham is a disgrace, and I think you have one of the worst representatives of any representative in the United States” and “He’s one of the dumbest human beings I’ve ever seen.”- candidate Trump, 2/17/16 (Politico)

It was not surprising to hear Trump say this in 2016. Both Graham and his mentor, Senator John McCain, publicly and privately despised Trump. And for good reason. Trump was (and is) the anti-thesis of everything they believed.

Senator Graham had earlier said about Trump: "I think he's a kook. I think he's crazy. I think he's unfit for office. I'm a Republican, and he's not. He's not a conservative Republican, he's an opportunist. He's not fit to be president of the United States." (2-17-19; Fox’s "America's Newsroom.")

 

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“I think Lindsey Graham is a disgrace, and I think you have one of the worst representatives of any representative in the United States” and “He’s one of the dumbest human beings I’ve ever seen.”- candidate Trump, 2/17/16 (Politico)

It was not surprising to hear Trump say this in 2016. Both Graham and his mentor, Senator John McCain, publicly and privately despised Trump. And for good reason. Trump was (and is) the anti-thesis of everything they believed.

Senator Graham had earlier said about Trump: “I think he’s a kook. I think he’s crazy. I think he’s unfit for office. I’m a Republican, and he’s not. He’s not a conservative Republican, he’s an opportunist. He’s not fit to be president of the United States.” (2-17-19; Fox’s “America’s Newsroom.”)

Graham also said: “My party has gone batshit crazy.” (2-16-16) when it chose Trump as its nominee. In a tweet, Graham went so far as to say that he voted for third party candidate Evan McMullin rather than Trump in the 2016 election. And, that took courage with South Carolina being one of the most conservative states (10th).

 This stand was consistent with the Lindsey Graham that I admired, the guy who in 1999 took to the floor of the Senate to say about the Clinton impeachment:“Impeachment is not about punishment; impeachment is about cleansing the office.” This version of Senator Graham was the one with lofty principles, the one who put country above party.

However, since then, Senator Graham has become a very vocal and effective apologist for “crazy” Trump, the “kook”. He has even been on television heatedly defending the absolutely indefensible: Trumps treacherous, un-American call to the Ukrainian President and his related unethical activities towards his chief challenger, Biden (supposedly, Lindsey’s close friend).

Therefore, the central question, as posed by MSNBC commentator John Heilemann (5-28-19), is: “what has happened to Lindsey Graham?” And, why has his former “country-over-party credo” (Mike Leibovitch, NYT) gone by the wayside? Is he really the “the saddest story in Washington” as NYT Columnist Frank Bruni terms him?

Joe Scarborough, former GOP conservative Congressman and current MSNBC talking head, has his opinion: “Graham didn’t have the confidence and the assurance in his (SC) voters that he could speak truth to power and still get re-elected in his state.” Is that it? Or is there more?

Per Stephanie Ruhle, also of MSNBC: “It could be that Donald Trump or somebody knows something pretty extreme about Lindsey Graham.”  

I’m an advocate for the LBGTQ community and believe it’s past time for all LBGTQ people to proudly come out of the closet. I understand from knowledgeable DC Republicans there are many LBGT Republicans involved in GOP party politics behind the scenes.

Rumors have been rampant about Graham for decades, allegations he denies: “To the extent that it matters, I’m not gay.” And “Don’t believe anything anybody tells you about my Air Force exploits. I was very heterosexual.”

And, his denials may well be true. However, I’m sure my first cousin, the first publisher of Out Magazine and a retired SVP at the NYT, heard similar statements from the folks he outed.

Trump is a low-life, New York City guy, accustomed to the down and dirty development world.  Pressuring people, ethically or not, is commonplace. His Ukraine fiasco shows he has not changed.

Does Trump have something on the South Carolina Senator, who has never been married, the same way Putin is alleged to have an unsavory tape of Trump with Moscow prostitutes? Who knows? Maybe not. I doubt the people of South Carolina would care; I don’t. 

But one thing is certain- Graham’s devolution and new-found support for Trump have became quite clear. As conservative stalwart Bill Kristol has tweeted: “History will record that @LindseyGrahamSC went out of his way to court favor with Donald Trump at precisely the moment … his enablers needed to hear a message of resistance.” Amen, brother Bill. Amen.

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Georgia through deaf eyes https://likethedew.com/2019/10/27/georgia-through-deaf-eyes/ https://likethedew.com/2019/10/27/georgia-through-deaf-eyes/#respond Sun, 27 Oct 2019 12:26:31 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=72054

We all know what we’re supposed to do when life goes all "lemon" on us. And that’s precisely what I’ve tried to do since I lost most of my hearing in 2010: make as much lemonade, in as many variations, as I can concoct.

One of those variations was writing a memoir, which turned out to be Life After Deaf: My Misadventures in Hearing Loss and Recovery, published by Skyhorse and now available via Amazon and other booksellers.  

Another variation is photography, which I took up in hopes that it would make up for the absence of music, precious music, in my life.

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We all know what we’re supposed to do when life goes all “lemon” on us. And that’s precisely what I’ve tried to do since I lost most of my hearing in 2010: make as much lemonade, in as many variations, as I can concoct.

Book jacket of Life After Deaf: My Misadventures in Hearing Loss and Recovery by Noel Holston.
Start looking.
(Skyhorse Publishing)

One of those variations was writing a memoir, which turned out to be Life After Deaf: My Misadventures in Hearing Loss and Recovery, published by Skyhorse and now available via Amazon and other booksellers.  

Another variation is photography, which I took up in hopes that it would make up for the absence of music, precious music, in my life.

Even after a pair of cochlear implant surgeries that restored some functional, rudimentary hearing, my pitch is so poor now I can barely sing “Happy Birthday” solo, let alone with extra singers to pull me off key. And listening to recorded or live music can be torture. Drum solos and gamelan gongs sound kind of like I remember them, but the more instruments you add and the more  complicated the harmonics become, the more music sounds like mush to me. A philharmonic is about as melodic as an orchestra of vacuum cleaners.

When I had implant surgery in Los Angeles in 2013 – a do-over for a 2010 operation that didn’t quite work out – I was unable to fly back home to Athens until my bored and stroked head had healed a bit. Out sightseeing, my wife and I discovered that the area of West LA near the hospital was a veritable museum of signage dating back to the 1950s, ’40s and even earlier. Everywhere we looked, it seemed, there was a ghostly hotel marquee or a rusty old neon sign.

Cameo Hotel, Los Angeles

I started snapping pictures with my phone. Once we got back home, I got myself a decent camera, a Nikon with a good zoom, and started looking for similar remnants in Georgia.

It’s surprising how many are out there, sort of hiding in plain sight in small towns, more or less invisible to the locals but practically flashing to a fresh pair of eyes.

The Red Land Motel sign at the top of this article is one of my favorites. Here are a few more examples:

I share these snapshots with you not because I consider them great photography on my part, but because they depict charming vestiges of Georgia’s past and because their kind is fast disappearing. We may not be able to save them, but we can preserve their memory.

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True Story – One More Day https://likethedew.com/2019/10/24/true-story-one-more-day/ https://likethedew.com/2019/10/24/true-story-one-more-day/#respond Thu, 24 Oct 2019 19:04:40 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=72215

This event was told to my wife by the grandmother in the story – it’s a true story and a little slice of American life.

On a hot, steamy, southern afternoon a neighbor of ours took her young granddaughter to a local photographer to have a portrait made. The child sat quietly next to her grandmother as she discussed with the photographer how she wanted the child’s portrait to be done. While showing an old photo to the photographer she explained “I want you to take a headshot of my granddaughter, in black and white, in her plaid shirt.” The new portrait was to match the old black and white photo she was holding which had been taken decades earlier of her children, all wearing plaid shirts. She wanted her granddaughter in a matching photo. Family traditions continued.

As the photographer arranged and set up equipment the young girl leaned in close to her grandmother and whispered “Is he going to shoot me in the head?” Startled, the grandmother looked down at her and said “No dear, he is going to take a picture of you, a photograph, no one is getting shot.”

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This event was told to my wife by the grandmother in the story – it’s a true story and a little slice of American life.

On a hot, steamy, southern afternoon a neighbor of ours took her young granddaughter to a local photographer to have a portrait made. The child sat quietly next to her grandmother as she discussed with the photographer how she wanted the child’s portrait to be done. While showing an old photo to the photographer she explained “I want you to take a headshot of my granddaughter, in black and white, in her plaid shirt.” The new portrait was to match the old black and white photo she was holding which had been taken decades earlier of her children, all wearing plaid shirts. She wanted her granddaughter in a matching photo. Family traditions continued.

As the photographer arranged and set up equipment the young girl leaned in close to her grandmother and whispered “Is he going to shoot me in the head?” Startled, the grandmother looked down at her and said “No dear, he is going to take a picture of you, a photograph, no one is getting shot.”

Later, in the car ride home the little girl confided to her grandmother “I’m glad he didn’t shoot me in the head.”

Take a moment and think about how deeply fucked up that is.

Think about what “taking a head shot” used to mean – and what “taking a head shot” means now.

Think about how carefully that young girl listened to and parsed those words – and those words alarmed and worried her.

Think about how a young girl’s life could be so consumed, not with playing with her toys or running around the backyard but the daily, relentless, paralyzing fear of death from the barrel of a gun.

Our gun loving, violent behavior will be a permanent part of that girl’s life as she grows into a woman. As a teenager, as a young adult, as a grown woman she will never walk through a mall or go to a concert without wondering “could it be now, is he in the crowd now – am I safe?”

This is America where a gun can appear anywhere – at any time – even on a pleasant, summer day with her grandmother in a photography studio.

We have a culture of gun violence so pervasive, so complete our children forego dreams of a future and have replaced them with fantasies of staying alive – for one more day. The American fiction of freedom.

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