LikeTheDew.com https://likethedew.com A journal of progressive Southern culture and politics Sun, 16 Jun 2019 22:23:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.1 https://likethedew.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/cropped-DewLogoSquare825-32x32.png LikeTheDew.com https://likethedew.com 32 32 Florida: Time to open the door to voters https://likethedew.com/2019/06/14/florida-time-to-open-the-door-to-voters/ https://likethedew.com/2019/06/14/florida-time-to-open-the-door-to-voters/#respond Fri, 14 Jun 2019 20:30:45 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=71231
“These restrictions are not required by the plain language of Amendment 4. Nor are these restrictions what a supermajority of voters contemplated when they voted Yes on Amendment 4.” – American Civil Liberties Union (Florida)

As I described in a column for a Florida newspaper last year, Florida law formerly prohibited convicted felons from voting for life. At the time, it was estimated that 1.6 million Floridians had felony convictions. But on Nov. 18, 2018, Floridians voted almost 2 to 1 to amend the Florida Constitution to rescind the ban (with a few notable exceptions, like murderers and sex offenders). The change took effect 1-8-19.

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“These restrictions are not required by the plain language of Amendment 4. Nor are these restrictions what a supermajority of voters contemplated when they voted Yes on Amendment 4.” – American Civil Liberties Union (Florida)

Florida law formerly prohibited convicted felons from voting for life affecting an estimated 1.6 million Floridians. On Nov. 18, 2018, Floridians voted almost 2 to 1 to amend the Florida Constitution to rescind the ban (with a few notable exceptions, like murderers and sex offenders). The change took effect 1-8-19. 

Florida voters have clearly spoken regarding reintegrating these individuals once they have paid their debt to society. There is absolutely no reason why these citizens should not be immediately registered. However, the newly elected Governor and other GOP big wigs have been purposefully attempting to delay implementation (per the “legislative action’” they say is needed). The Governor is about to sign Senate Bill 7066, a party-line vote bill violating the spirit of Amendment 4. SB 7066 will force former felons to fulfill all financial obligations before they can get the right to vote restored.

If we look at partisan politics, it’s obvious why the GOP went this route.

 A major Florida newspaper recently ran a survey of the political affiliation of those being added to the voting roles as a consequence of Amendment 4, finding: “More than half of those who lost their voting rights, 52 percent, were Democrats … 33 percent were independents … 14 percent were Republicans. By comparison, Democrats make up 37 percent of all voters in Florida, Republicans make up 35 percent.”

Over 21% of African-Americans of voting age in Florida were disenfranchised before the Amendment passed. Frankly, as a former Republican County Commission Chair in a rural Georgia County, I understand why DeSantis and the others in the Florida legislature are worried. They have played the race card for years and now it is clearly going to come back and bite them in 2020.

But, understanding why they are worried and supporting their actions are quite different. We should all be 100% against their stalling, which is yet another example of un-American, unconstitutional voter suppression of minorities. 

Frankly, America’s low voting rates are an embarrassment when compared to other democracies. Further, the misleading and clearly incorrect statements (unsubstantiated voter fraud and the like) by our elected officials at all levels to justify this horrible situation are equally embarrassing.

Ideally, we are supposed to be a fair, unbiased nation which encourages all of its citizens to vote, regardless of party affiliation. Actions like those of DeSantis and his ilk betray our cherished ideals, as do obvious attempts by both parties to gerrymander voting districts. I know; gerrymandering by a political opponent is the reason I left office after two terms. My district looked like a horseshoe.

The effort to obtain approval of Amendment 4 should not have been a partisan effort, but it clearly was. The GOP putting financial hurdles in the way of voting is just a updated 2019 poll tax.

It’s time for the GOP in Florida and other states to wake up and look beyond short-term politics. Otherwise, with the rapidly changing demographics in states like Florida, Texas and Georgia, the GOP is in danger of becoming a permanent minority party.

Jack Bernard

Jack Bernard

Jack A Bernard is a retired SVP with a national healthcare corporation. He was Chair of the Jasper County, Ga Board of Commissioners and Republican Party. He was also on the Board of Health for Jasper County and is currently on the Fayette County BOH. Bernard has over 100 columns published annually, primarily in the South.

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The armed bureaucracy https://likethedew.com/2019/06/14/the-armed-bureaucracy/ https://likethedew.com/2019/06/14/the-armed-bureaucracy/#respond Fri, 14 Jun 2019 20:30:10 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=71252

 “Sooner or later they end up in a cage, where (they) belong.”

This is hardly a surprise: A recent study by the Missouri attorney general’s office shows that black drivers are at least twice as likely — in some towns, much more than that — to be stopped by police as white drivers.

And a few days before the study came out, something called the Plain View Project hit the news. The project, an exhaustive, two-year analysis of social media posts by some 2,800 police officers and 700 former officers, from police departments across the country, revealed another non-surprise: a racist subculture permeates American police forces.

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 “Sooner or later they end up in a cage, where (they) belong.”

This is hardly a surprise: A recent study by the Missouri attorney general’s office shows that black drivers are at least twice as likely — in some towns, much more than that — to be stopped by police as white drivers.

And a few days before the study came out, something called the Plain View Project hit the news. The project, an exhaustive, two-year analysis of social media posts by some 2,800 police officers and 700 former officers, from police departments across the country, revealed another non-surprise: a racist subculture permeates American police forces.

The researchers “found officers bashing immigrants and Muslims, promoting racist stereotypes, identifying with right-wing militia groups and, especially, glorifying police brutality,” according to the Associated Press.

SWAT team members, some armed with assault rifles, prepare for an exercise

Thousands of such posts — from officers’ personal Facebook pages (and thus public) — can be seen at the Plain View website. The comments, such as the one at the top of this column, are raw and unconstrained by political correctness. Other examples:

“It’s a good day for a choke hold.”

“Death to Islam.”

“If the Confederate flag is racist, then so is Black History Month.”

The implications of all this won’t go away by simply implementing stricter PC in the ranks — “Officers, you must hide your prejudices!” — but rather, they cut to the core of how we maintain and, indeed, how we define, social order. We define it militarily, which means, ipso facto, we require an enemy who has to be repressed so that “we” can feel safe.

Thus a story like this, reported by ABC News, is typical, not unusual:

“A Chicago mother is accusing Chicago police of using excessive force on her family, including her 8-year-old son, who officers allegedly handcuffed and left in the freezing rain for 40 minutes, according to a federal civil rights lawsuit filed against the Chicago Police Department.”

In March, on a day when it was 32 degrees and raining, the police awakened the family via bullhorn at 6 a.m. in order to execute a search warrant, which alleged that one of the boys living in the house was in possession of an assault rifle. The officers, wielding assault rifles themselves, marched the family, including a number of children, out of the house, where the adults and the 8-year-old boy were handcuffed and forced to stand in the rain while the police searched the house. No assault rifle was found and no one was arrested. However:

“Officers also allegedly damaged or destroyed personal property and ‘shouted profanity and insults at the family’. . . according to the lawsuit.”

And, oh yeah: the family was African-American.

The plaintiff’s attorney, summing up the military mindset driving the incident, said at a news conference: “Chicago Police officers behave as if our children of color and their trauma is collateral damage.”

The raid, in short, took place in a war zone. It was the South Side of Chicago, but it could have been Iraq.

Feel safer?

All of this adds up to a serious national need to rethink how we protect ourselves and establish social order. Right now we’re doing so with an occupying army, a product of the white man’s history of colonialism, slavery and conquest. The occupying army serves the rich and well-off — and it does so, when necessary, behind the barrel of a gun, which is the country’s ultimate symbol of authority. When the gun is out, this authority supersedes any other civil right, like freedom of speech.

And then you need to add into the mix the fact that power corrupts. Remember Ferguson, Mo., where 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer in 2014 because he wasn’t walking on the sidewalk? When the U.S. Department of Justice dug more deeply into the matter, it found that “the department was targeting black residents and treating them as revenue streams for the city by striving to continually increase the money brought in through fees and fines,” according to Vanity Fair.

“‘Officers expect and demand compliance even when they lack legal authority,’ the report’s authors wrote. ‘They are inclined to interpret the exercise of free-speech rights as unlawful disobedience, innocent movements as physical threats, indications of mental or physical illness as belligerence.’”

Fascinatingly, a different vision of social order emerged during the protests that followed Michael Brown’s shooting. Ron Johnson, a captain in the Missouri Highway Patrol, was appointed commander of operations shortly after the Ferguson protests began and, rather than playing the usual game of militarized intimidation, reached out to the grieving and outraged community and actually marched with the protesters.

A different sort of future momentarily opened: one with a unity of understanding. The police got it; they saw the need for change, for sanity, for justice. They weren’t, my god, afraid of the protesters, freaked out by the welling crowds of people demanding change. This lasted all of two days, when the governor relieved Johnson of command.

Later, a DoJ report shredded Johnson because of his “extensive community engagement efforts. . . . As a result, he was less engaged in day-to-day, hour to-hour incident command responsibilities and instead became the public face for the police response. As a result, the full responsibilities of incident command were often not executed. This resulted in a diminished ability to spend time monitoring the changes in staffing needs, to provide direction for command, and to engage in effective communications with commanders and deployed personnel.”

Notice the military-speak! Lots of Johnson’s fellow officers were outraged and deeply critical of him. He didn’t act like the commander of an armed bureaucracy. He marched with the enemy.

Robert C. Koehler

Robert C. Koehler

Robert Koehler is an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist and nationally syndicated writer. His new book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound is now available. Contact him at koehlercw@gmail.com or visit his website at commonwonders.com.

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Fire and Fury: Inside the tRump Whitehouse – Michael Wolff https://likethedew.com/2019/06/14/fire-and-fury-inside-the-trump-whitehouse-michael-wolff/ https://likethedew.com/2019/06/14/fire-and-fury-inside-the-trump-whitehouse-michael-wolff/#respond Fri, 14 Jun 2019 17:18:09 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=71239 Wolff's title comes from the rant tRump impetuously directed at North Korea, that it would be met with “... fire and fury and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen...”.

This irresponsible mouthing, a terroristic threat really, came in response to a reporter's question about North Korea at an August 8, 2017 discussion of the opioid crisis. Trump had been reading a statement in a monotone, bored stiff, anxious to get back to his golf game.

The question perked him up and Dr. Jekyl became Mr. Hyde, a loose cannon of major proportions, hiring and firing staff as impulsively as he tweeted whatever crossed his mind, surrounded by lackeys sucking up and vying for position, trying to channel his presidential power down whatever road their particular variant of right-wing ideology demanded, using always the strategy most likely to succeed, flattery.

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An illustration of Trump holding his hat while riding a nuclear bomb by Tom FergusionWolff’s title comes from the rant tRump impetuously directed at North Korea, that it would be met with “… fire and fury and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen…”.

This irresponsible mouthing, a terroristic threat really, came in response to a reporter’s question about North Korea at an August 8, 2017 discussion of the opioid crisis. Trump had been reading a statement in a monotone, bored stiff, anxious to get back to his golf game.

The question perked him up and Dr. Jekyl became Mr. Hyde, a loose cannon of major proportions, hiring and firing staff as impulsively as he tweeted whatever crossed his mind, surrounded by lackeys sucking up and vying for position, trying to channel his presidential power down whatever road their particular variant of right-wing ideology demanded, using always the strategy most likely to succeed, flattery.

An email forwarded around the White House, from a disgruntled staffer, then out onto the net, summarized what working for tRump was like: 

It’s worse than you can imagine. An idiot surrounded by clowns. Trump won’t read anything – not one-page memos, not brief policy papers; nothing. He gets up halfway through meetings with world leaders because he is bored. And his staff is no better. Kushner is an entitled baby who knows nothing. Bannon is an arrogant prick who thinks he’s smarter than he is. Trump is less a person than a collection of terrible traits. No one will survive the first year but his family (meaning of staff). I hate the work, but feel I need to stay because I’m the only person there with a clue what he’s doing. The reason so few jobs have been filled is that they only accept people who pass ridiculous purity tests, even for midlevel policy-making jobs where the people will never see the light of day. I am in a constant state of shock and horror. 

It bothers me when people call tRump an idiot. They do it out of anger and frustration and it’s hyperbolic. The man is certainly narcissistic but a literal idiot, no. Idiot Savant perhaps, for he’s capable of charming millions of people despite his many and dangerous faults. Referring to himself in the third person as a stable genius, hard to believe he isn’t joking but since he’s apparently not, something’s screwy.

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael WolffThe book covers the 9 month period of Steve Bannon’s tenure, a bazaar right winger with an anarchic streak toward chaos and strangely, in favor of single payer health care! Bannon and Kushner, tTrump’s son-in-law (with partner Ivanka, the president’s daughter) acted as though they were chief of staff while Priebus, the official chief of staff, suffered their interference and a more or less constant belittling from the president. Vicious, juvenile office politics ruled the White House from day one. The chief of staff is traditionally a powerful figure since everyone must go through him to get in to the oval office. tRump by turns megalomaniac and insecure narcissist… does all the talking in meetings, very little listening and makes decisions based on his “gut” unless relentless and massive interventions are applied. Even then, he can walk out of a room having agreed on some course and suddenly tweet the opposite. The whole administration is a failed state. tRump calls his daughter and Kushner the kids, supposedly New York liberals who he humors. Their intent seems to have been to bring in the Wall Street crowd to run things while Bannon’s was more in the scorched-earth Gestapo camp. Nothing much gets done except the cabinet appointees, all anti-democracy ideologues with frequent ethical lapses, out there doing damage from respective departments. House speaker McConnell stalled federal judge appointments under Obama, saving them for tRump, who attempted to reward a business crony with a judgeship. Staff intervention turned the appointment duties over to the Federalist Society, assuring over 100, to-date, right wing extremists now sitting on the federal bench, including of course the Supreme Court. This of course, in addition to those Bush/Cheney installed. In Georgia we can be grateful that somehow progressive judge Totenberg slipped through the ideological filters.

I.F. Stone, in his book on the Fifties shows how governmental abuse is not exactly new but he also cites a 1957 supreme court decision that put an end to senate and house committee trampling of citizen rights in hearings that were truly witch-hunts. The current supreme court would doubtless come down in favor of such congressional misbehavior though they would probably protect trump’s prerogatives under Dick Cheney’s theory that if the president does it, it’s legal.

The recent movie Vice also confirms that sinister attacks on democracy are hardly unprecedented but trump’s administration is pretty unique in its clown car chaos. Fire and Fury narrates the downfall of Steve Bannon, though he is still out there in zany never right-wing land doing mischief, especially in Europe, working to birth a new fascism there. The book also provides a glimpse of billionaires who throw their disproportionate influence around our government, and it also documents the dysfunction we have voted upon ourselves which ought, we can hope, to inspire an uprising at the ballot box.

Tom Ferguson

Tom Ferguson

Tom is a painter, a cartoonist, a musician, a thinker and more. View some of his web sites:

  • www.thinkspeak.net (Painting)
  • toons.thinkspeak.net (Political Cartoons)
  • thinkspeak.bandcamp.com (Music)
  • tfthinkspeak.blogspot.com (blog)

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Father’s Day and a woman’s right to choose https://likethedew.com/2019/06/09/fathers-day-and-a-womans-right-to-choose/ https://likethedew.com/2019/06/09/fathers-day-and-a-womans-right-to-choose/#respond Sun, 09 Jun 2019 18:14:30 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=71200 The old bumper sticker, “Keep Your Laws Off of My Body” isn’t old and isn’t a bumper sticker. It’s a chilling reality for women today. And Father’s Day is a perfect time for men to wake up to women’s reality—to stand up and speak out on behalf of women’s reproductive health and rights. Several weeks ago two-dozen white male Alabama legislators passed a draconian anti-choice bill and where were the men opposing them?  A rash of similar abortion bans—most with no exception for rape or incest—passed across the South and Midwest and where were the men? Besides Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Kentucky, and Louisiana are denying a woman’s right to choose; more states are poised to follow. Thankfully, all of these laws are being vigorously challenged in the courts. Are women wrong to believe men’s silence represents tacit approval, is a form of complicity? If we want women to believe we're their allies then, to borrow a Missouri maxim, we have to show them.

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The old bumper sticker, “Keep Your Laws Off of My Body” isn’t old and isn’t a bumper sticker. It’s a chilling reality for women today. And Father’s Day is a perfect time for men to wake up to women’s reality—to stand up and speak out on behalf of women’s reproductive health and rights.

Several weeks ago two-dozen white male Alabama legislators passed a draconian anti-choice bill and where were the men opposing them? A rash of similar abortion bans—most with no exception for rape or incest—passed across the South and Midwest and where were the men? Besides Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Kentucky, and Louisiana are denying a woman’s right to choose; more states are poised to follow. Thankfully, all of these laws are being vigorously challenged in the courts. Are women wrong to believe men’s silence represents tacit approval, is a form of complicity? If we want women to believe we’re their allies then, to borrow a Missouri maxim, we have to show them.

Whether you’re a father, stepdad, father figure, brother, uncle, nephew, coach or mentor, it’s way past time to find your voice and stand with women. Let’s use Father’s Day 2019 to publicly and loudly stand up women’s reproductive rights.

Embed from Getty Images

Here are a few things men—not just dads—can do:

  • For fathers: in lieu of a gift ask your family to make a donation to a local clinic, Planned Parenthood, NARAL, or all three. (Also, support the National Network of Abortion Funds at abortionfunds.org.)
  • Volunteer at a clinic, including escorting patients inside
  • Urge your faith community leader to deliver a sermon supporting a women’s right to choose (or be the guest speaker yourself)
  • Write a letter to the editor stating your unequivocal support for women’s reproductive rights
  • Invite a group of men over to talk about the threat women face and why men need to break their silence
  • Insist researchers to accelerate work on developing male birth control
  • If you have a son old enough, talk with him about respecting women’s autonomy
  • Let your daughter know you unequivocally support her right to control her body
  • Alert anti-choice legislators that you won’t just vote to unseat them, you’ll work to elect pro-choice candidates

We men have been complacent for too long, detached from women’s reality, smug in our armor of privilege. But there are cracks in our armor. As Katha Pollitt wrote recently in The Nation:

[F]or every woman with an ill-timed, unwanted pregnancy, there is probably a man who is unhappy about it, too. Men, too, can have their lives stunted by unwanted childbearing. They, too, suffer when a pregnancy pushes them into marriage, or into marriage with the wrong person¼For men as for women, ill-timed or unwanted children can mean giving up ambitions and dreams. It can mean decades of regret for not doing right by children you didn’t mean to have or have no real connection to or perhaps have never even met.

Of course, there are men in the reproductive rights battle but they’re most visible on the anti-choice side. They lead or are prominent in organizations and protests; they harass clinic workers, patients and families, and they are the primary assassins, murdering not just doctors who perform abortions but clinic workers, too. Once these children are born though, like most anti-choice activists they are mute on the subject of supporting children outside the womb. Why aren’t more men calling out their hypocrisy?

Even if not all men are fathers, we are all sons. It’s not too late to step up in support of not just the women in our lives—but all women—at a vulnerable time in theirs: mothers, wives or lovers, sisters, daughters, nieces, neighbors.

Women are facing a full-blown emergency. The clock is ticking; a test case to overturn Roe v. Wade could soon be before the Supreme Court. With the flames of intolerance looming at our sisters’ windows, men must join the bucket brigade to put out the fire. Now.

Rob Okun

Rob Okun

Voice Male magazine editor Rob Okun's anthology, VO​ICE MALE - The Untold Story of the Profeminist Men's Movement​, was published at the end of 2017. His op-eds and commentaries have appeared in numerous newspapers (The Telegraph, London; Boston Globe; San Diego Union-Tribune; Albany Times Union) and on websites including Ms., Counter Punch, Women’s eNews, and Alternet. His writing is syndicated by Peace Voice. A former executive director of one of the oldest men's centers in North America, Rob is a member of the boards of the Center for Men and Masculinities, and North America MenEngage, and he is vice president of the board of the New England Center for Women in Transition, the battered women's agency serving northwestern Massachusetts.

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Grand Old Party is Dead https://likethedew.com/2019/06/09/grand-old-party-is-dead-2/ https://likethedew.com/2019/06/09/grand-old-party-is-dead-2/#respond Sun, 09 Jun 2019 15:45:12 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=71214 “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” – Ronald Reagan, First Inaugural address.

Many observers believe that Trump has caused the moral demise of the GOP. He clearly has helped, especially in regard to evangelicals, but he didn’t start the downhill slide. Nixon and Reagan deserve the honor for that initiating that move.

Over the last several decades, the Republican Party has gone from a party that supported civil rights and social security to the party that wants government out of the way so that corporate America and the wealthy can rule. There are no longer many moderates left in the party, much less a liberal Rockefeller wing.

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The last straw

“Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”– Ronald Reagan, First Inaugural address.

Many observers believe that Trump has caused the moral demise of the GOP. He clearly has helped, especially in regard to evangelicals, but he didn’t start the downhill slide. Nixon and Reagan deserve the honor for that initiating that move.

Over the last several decades, the Republican Party has gone from a party that supported civil rights and social security to the party that wants government out of the way so that corporate America and the wealthy can rule. There are no longer many moderates left in the party, much less a liberal Rockefeller wing.

In 1935, only 15% of Republican House members voted against the creation of Social Security; only 20% of GOP Senators did. In recent years, President Bush (43), former Speaker Ryan and other GOP leaders wanted to do away with Social Security as we know it.

I moved to rural Georgia in 1964, the year the Civil Rights Act passed. An astounding 80% of House Republicans voted for it, versus only 60% of Democrats. The Senate was the same story with 82% of GOP Senators in support versus a little over 2/3rds of Democrats. The GOP showed similar support for the Voting Rights Act (82% in the House and 94% in the Senate).

In 2013, a Supreme Court dominated by anti-government GOP appointees gutted the Voting Rights Act. The GOP has not supported efforts to correct abuses, but instead has actively engaged in voter suppression.

In 1965, 50% of GOP House members voted to create Medicare, as did 41% of Republican Senators. Senator Jacob Javits(R-NY) introduced legislation in 1070 to expand it in to all ages. Now, there is no Republican leader willing to stand up for its expansion, even for those 55-64.

Along the way, the GOP base has also changed dramatically. Millennials are significantly more likely to be Democrats versus Republicans (Pew, 2-19).

A Pew survey (2-19) shows that only 54% of Republicans now believe that the deficit is a major problem, down from 82% in the Obama years. Meanwhile, the annual deficit has grown every year since 2015, going from $438 billion to a projected $984 billion in 2019. Fiscal conservatives just stare in wonder.

So, how did this change in the GOP come about, was it accidental? No. The rightward turn of the GOP was a draconian Nixonian tactic known as the “Southern Strategy,” devised by Lee Atwater and others. Per Atwater (1981): “By 1968 you can’t say “n****r” — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.”

In his 1980 campaign, Reagan gave a speech near Philadelphia, MS where three civil rights workers had been murdered just 16 years before. His speech was widely publicized due to Reagan saying things like: “I believe in states’ rights”. Clearly, this event was a successful attempt to let the right-wing reactionary forces know that he was on their side.

Which brings me to our current President. Trump let the Charlottesville white supremacists know how he felt: “You had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.” His remarks were not surprising in that he has a long history of documented racism going back 40 years.

The GOP has had a long-held belief in limited government and the balance of powers. That is why in 2014 Mitch McConnell stated about Obama’s immigration executive orders: “It may serve him politically in the short term. But he knows that it will make an already-broken system even more broken, and he knows that this is not how democracy is supposed to work.”

I agreed with McConnell at the time regarding executive power (but not on immigration). It’s Congress’ role to fix a broken immigration system.

But McConnell has determined that there is no longer a Republican Party. There is a ReTrumpican Party that will blindly follow this President down the road to unconstitutional authoritarianism, as shown by the GOP reticence to overturn the unconstitutional wall executive order.

Recently, it has come out that Barbara Bush no longer considered herself a Republican. Although I’m a former Chair of the Jasper County Republican Party, I’ve been voting for Democrats on the state and national level for some time. For me, this latest GOP spinelessness is the proverbial last straw. As of this column, I am now a former Republican.

Jack Bernard

Jack Bernard

Jack A Bernard is a retired SVP with a national healthcare corporation. He was Chair of the Jasper County, Ga Board of Commissioners and Republican Party. He was also on the Board of Health for Jasper County and is currently on the Fayette County BOH. Bernard has over 100 columns published annually, primarily in the South.

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Ice Cream and Respect https://likethedew.com/2019/06/09/ice-cream-and-respect/ https://likethedew.com/2019/06/09/ice-cream-and-respect/#respond Sun, 09 Jun 2019 14:34:14 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=71193

“Did they look like a bunch of thugs”?

It was a question asked of me about union trades people attending a conference.

I have worked with unions for years as a management representative. In that work, I negotiate contracts with unions and I serve as a trustee on pension and health and welfare plans. For the most part the negotiations are vigorous but civil. And the resulting contracts are fair to both labor and the businesses that sign them.

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“Did they look like a bunch of thugs”?

It was a question asked of me about union trades people attending a conference. 

I have worked with unions for years as a management representative. In that work, I negotiate contracts with unions and I serve as a trustee on pension and health and welfare plans. For the most part the negotiations are vigorous but civil. And the resulting contracts are fair to both labor and the businesses that sign them.

The contracts include a progressive pay scale for different levels of skill and experience. They also include money to pay for apprenticeship education, retirement plans and health insurance. 

The employers gain as well, having skilled, on-demand labor to produce goods or build buildings. And the cost of labor becomes a unit price that is relatively easy to track and mark up.

And while union workers’ wage packages typically are higher than those of non-union workers, many businesses consider their union affiliations a competitive advantage.

Now, back to the “thug” question: the answer, of course, is the attendees looked like people enjoying the beach and the opportunity to share a common interest. The conference was held at an older hotel. The fare was simple and attire was decidedly casual. Many of the attendees brought their families. A lot of wives and children were in attendance at the lunch where the governor spoke about the importance of workforce. Many of these skilled craft workers were visibly proud to have their work recognized in front of their families.

The “thug” question came from a man who has explained to me on more than one occasion that workers should be grateful for the good jobs that business owners “give” them. That comment is always made as if it is an unimpeachable argument that serves as a bulwark to keep us safe from discussions of liberal Democracy.

photo of colorful scoops ice cream by UdraAt the conference my granddaughter and I were in line to get ice cream behind a man and his teenage son. The boy was talking to his father about ice cream flavors when the boy turned his head and I could see the cochlear implant that allowed him to hear his father. An implant paid for by a medical plan negotiated by a union.

Would the boy have had the implant if his father had simply been “grateful” that someone “gave” him a job? Would he and his father have had that run-of-the-mill conversation about ice cream.

We hear constantly about the virtues of capitalism with its attendant free markets and competition. But competition in a capitalist economy involves all aspects of commerce. Businesses must also expect to compete for the skilled labor to produce the products they sell. Skilled, professional labor certainly is an advantage in any marketplace.

Nothing could be more American and capitalist than labor banding together to negotiate to protect its interest.

And we are lucky there are still people willing to work hard and demand proper respect and pay for their effort.

Bill Caton

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November Surprises https://likethedew.com/2019/06/06/november-surprises/ https://likethedew.com/2019/06/06/november-surprises/#respond Thu, 06 Jun 2019 19:38:29 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=71151

Most American voters know that an October Surprise is an unexpected event that happens in the month before a presidential election. Let’s consider two November Surprises that happened in the year before an election.

In November of 1963, JFK seemed to be gliding toward nomination for a second term, but was surprised in Dallas. And in November of 1979, Jimmy Carter was surprised when sixty-six Americans were taken hostage at our embassy in Tehran. Carter won his nomination but lost the White House to Reagan and his slogan “Let’s Make America Great Again.”

If by November of this year, a mere five months from now, the House of Representatives manages to impeach both Trump and Pence in time for a Senate trial...

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Most American voters know that an October Surprise is an unexpected event that happens in the month before a presidential election. Let’s consider two November Surprises that happened in the year before an election.

In November of 1963, JFK seemed to be gliding toward nomination for a second term, but was surprised in Dallas. And in November of 1979, Jimmy Carter was surprised when sixty-six Americans were taken hostage at our embassy in Tehran. Carter won his nomination but lost the White House to Reagan and his slogan “Let’s Make America Great Again.”

If by November of this year, a mere five months from now, the House of Representatives manages to impeach both Trump and Pence in time for a Senate trial, Republican senators might surprise us by joining Democrats and voting to convict Trump and Pence, thus elevating Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to the White House and freeing a herd of GOP elephants thundering into the primaries in early 2020.

Animated of gif of Trump becoming Pence becoming Pelosi becoming Clinton

A Pelosi presidency would be a surprise that could energize both Republicans and Democrats as well as the electorate.

It may surprise most Americans to learn that the majority party in the House of Representatives does not have to elect a member of the House to be the new speaker. They can elect anyone who qualifies for a seat in the House.

And here could come an even bigger November surprise. If Pelosi became president, instead of selecting a new vice president, she could simply ask the House to immediately elect Hillary Clinton as the new speaker, then resign in favor of Clinton and stand for election as speaker.

In other words, Nancy Pelosi could surprise us all in November by putting America back on course three years after we lost the way. And President Clinton could surprise us by announcing she will not run in 2020.

Julian Riggs Smith

Julian Riggs Smith

Although I have kept a home in New Hampshire for fifty years and have been a town councilor there for more than ten years, I was born in Louisiana, grew up there and on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, graduated Tulane, began my full-time teaching career in Alabama, ended it forty years later in Florida, and have had a home on Saint Simons Island since 1993.

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Alabama Medicaid expansion, now is the time https://likethedew.com/2019/06/02/alabama-medicaid-expansion-now-is-the-time/ https://likethedew.com/2019/06/02/alabama-medicaid-expansion-now-is-the-time/#respond Sun, 02 Jun 2019 11:20:50 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=71153 “It’s imperative that Alabama expands Medicaid to the maximum extent possible under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).”- William Elsea, M.D.

Even after the ACA, 11% of Alabamians 0-64 are still without insurance (down from 16% in 2008, per KFF). In fact, there are only 14 other states which have a higher rate of uninsured (AHR,2018).

It is unconscionable that in one of the most religious states in the USA, Alabama has not already acted to provide healthcare coverage for 449,000 of our brothers and sisters whose health is undeniably imperiled by lack of insurance. If Medicaid expansion were approved, 340,000 of them would be covered (UAB, Becker).

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“It’s imperative that Alabama expands Medicaid to the maximum extent possible under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).”- William Elsea, M.D.

Even after the ACA, 11% of Alabamians 0-64 are still without insurance (down from 16% in 2008, per KFF). In fact, there are only 14 other states which have a higher rate of uninsured (AHR,2018).

It is unconscionable that in one of the most religious states in the USA, Alabama has not already acted to provide healthcare coverage for 449,000 of our brothers and sisters whose health is undeniably imperiled by lack of insurance. If Medicaid expansion were approved, 340,000 of them would be covered (UAB, Becker).

Surgeon with Alabama flag on backgroundAlabama is now at the point where thousands of poor people’s lives may be saved by Governor Kay Ivey and the Alabama legislature. Surely the vast majority of Alabamians would choose to do this—to assure health care for the poor, including many of the homeless—when 91% of the cost will be borne by the federal government. Surely, the legislature can find the funds for this vital service, even if it does mean raising taxes.

Thirty-six states have already done this and are using the federal money available to Alabama for Medicaid expansion. Why send Alabama’s hard-earned tax money to treat resident of other wealthy states like NY, CA and Massachusetts when Alabama has more than 400,000 needy citizens? And, there seems to be no other Federal plan to take the ACA’s place, no matter what rhetoric you might hear.

On the national level, Trump has stated time and again that we would all have “great” healthcare… and at a reduced cost. But he just hasn’t figured out what kind of a miracle obtaining that would take for common folks, people who aren’t obnoxious NYC billionaires with inherited wealth who have had everything delivered to them on a silver platter.

Frankly, we have a confused President who has no idea at all what national healthcare reform should look like and no plan to achieve any measurable goals. Meanwhile, Trump has forced the DOJ to refuse to defend the entire ACA, something even conservative AG Barr appears to be resisting.

Of course, if the ACA (Obamacare) departs, say hello to getting booted off policies due to pre-existing conditions. Tell your 23-year-old kid that just got out of college with a sociology degree and severe asthma who happens to be on your insurance to ASAP quit his job as a waiter and find something, anything, that provides health insurance coverage for him. Hard hats and lower middle-class white-collar workers… forget those large subsidies that are now making your premiums affordable.

Just trust that Trump will take care of the problem in 2020 after you elect him. He has publicly promised it to you. That’s right, just like he did in 2015 when he promised to implement his secret healthcare nirvana after the 2016 election. (As a bonus, in 2020 Mexico will be building and paying for the wall as well.)

The problems with the ACA are obvious. Before it was ever implemented, Jack Bernard identified and commented on those problems in the Washington Post, USA Today, NYT and elsewhere. But, until we are willing to go to a proven Canadian or European model (like Medicare for All), we have got to live with both Obamacare’s strengths and weaknesses.

We understand why taxpayers are frustrated. As Jack Bernard wrote in the NYT (10-13) “Americans are generally fed up with what they see as government incompetence and lying.“ However, the clear (undisputed by experts) facts show that the ACA is a world better for the working poor and medically needy than what we had before. That’s why over half of Americans now support it. And, it is very doubtful that even this far-right SCOTUS will find it unconstitutional, given Roberts’ prior views.
Medicaid has enabled provision of essential health care for decades. It has been both effective and cost-efficient, providing preventive and curative services for some of our most underserved residents.

The hundreds of million dollars in new federal funds Alabama would receive under expansion would also help save Alabama hospitals, especially in some smaller rural communities where countless Southern hospitals have already closed their doors due to the strain of indigent care. Further, Medicaid expansion would also directly/indirectly create tens of thousands of new jobs for Alabama residents.

Expansion of Medicaid should not be a partisan issue. It’s a moral issue of concern to all Alabamians, regardless of party. Now is the time to act; delay is unacceptable. Alabama voters: call the Governor’s office and your state legislators to ask them to move ASAP.

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A Common Threat Is Uniting Judaism, Christianity & Islam https://likethedew.com/2019/05/31/a-common-threat-is-uniting-judaism-christianity-islam/ https://likethedew.com/2019/05/31/a-common-threat-is-uniting-judaism-christianity-islam/#respond Fri, 31 May 2019 12:14:18 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=71143

When the shooter attacked the Jewish synagogue in a California suburb, he also claimed responsibility for vandalizing a mosque in the same state.  Muslim groups were among the first to offer sympathy and condemnation for the attacks on Sri Lankan Christian Churches and the synagogue in Poway.  And Christians were quick to condemn the shooting at synagogues in Pittsburgh and California.

What’s happening is that all three monotheistic religions are starting to realize that they are all facing a common evil, and it’s not one of these fellow faiths, as some have suggested.

Seven years ago, my students and I researched the link between religion and war.  Contrary to what many scholars have argued, our statistical evidence from 1648 to the present found that it was a distant fourth cause among the four issues of war that were studied (regimes, real estate and resources).  The idea of fundamentalist religions attacking each other over minor matters of differences in doctrine in recent years is largely a myth, often inflated by critics of religion, a relic of the Thirty Years War and cases far earlier.

As we speak, in North Georgia, Rabbis, Imams and Pastors are putting on another inter-faith conference, an event which occurs with increasing frequency, as these shepherds try to remind their flocks of their that the fellow lambs aren’t the threats…it’s those wolves out there.

Think of that Chabad synagogue shooter, calling out the Jewish “race,” claiming they are using immigration to wipe out the “European” race, while attacking a Muslim place of worship and expressing admiration for the New Zealand spree killer who used a gun to wipe out congregations at mosques.  In fact, the Christchurch shooter did his best to film the event so he could upload it on Facebook.  The Poway synagogue shooter even tried to record his activity.  He had already uploaded his “manifesto” of hate online as well.  The ISIS killers of the Tamil Christians were seeking media attention for their cruel bombings as well.

Another news site asked if the Poway killer’s Christian “theology” could be to blame, but his moderate Presbyterian congregation and message could hardly provide anything that would recommend killing anyone else.  It seems he, the New Zealand shooter, and the Sri Lankan bombers of Christians all have something in common: An inflated sense of self.

Research these murderers and you won’t find some ignorant poor person who is doing a crime out of desperation.  He or she tends to be well-education, well-off, with many of life’s benefits available.  But these are “6’s” who think they are a “10” and feel someone else is to blame for not having the world worship at their feet, just as Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin or Mao Tse-Tung once did.  So they replace love with instilling fear to get others to pay attention to them.  These modern day executioners seek victims who are helpless, because the narcissist is a coward at heart, instead of “picking on someone their own size.”  Social media, not a congregation of like-minded religious people, is the audience, because they know their fellow worshippers wouldn’t approve.  Of course there are zealots in each faith who call for such violence and demonization of others, but it’s for themselves and their own selfish purposes and not their faith.

That doesn’t mean that such inter-faith activities are useless.  I applaud these congregations for having them, our college and other schools and communities for hosting them, and those elected officials for supporting them.  The more people realize that this is the norm, and killing those of other religions is a deviant behavior, the better the chances we have to combat such societal evil.

John A. Tures

John A. Tures

John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Georgia.  He can be reached at jtures@lagrange.edu. His Twitter account is JohnTures2.  My class includes Devin Andrews, Troy Bradley, C.J. Clark, Baley Coleman, Casey Evans, Nick Harris, Ben Hays, Jacob Hester, Dillon Knepp, Blake Konans, Porter Law, Alanna Martin, Jessica Noles, Wade Rodgers, Damir Rosencrants, Payton Smith, Lawrence Terrel, Caleb Tyler, Andrew Valbuena, Benjamin Womack.

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Pawleys Island’s Forgotten Beach https://likethedew.com/2019/05/30/mckenzie-beach/ https://likethedew.com/2019/05/30/mckenzie-beach/#respond Thu, 30 May 2019 10:32:20 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=71135

Blink as you hurry through Pawleys Island, S.C., to get to the beach and you could miss one of the most interesting sights around: the remains of a beach that is no longer there.

On the east side of Highway 17, catercorner to a Fresh Market across the road, lies a big vacant lot with vine-tangled ruins that look like the setting for a Tennessee Williams play or a novel by William Faulkner.

In fact, the whole property, 37.5 acres, has the look of a long-ago Southern yesteryear, or as poet Langston Hughes might have put it: the look of a dream deferred.

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Blink as you hurry through Pawleys Island, S.C., to get to the beach and you could miss one of the most interesting sights around: the remains of a beach that is no longer there.

On the east side of Highway 17, catercorner to a Fresh Market across the road, lies a big vacant lot with vine-tangled ruins that look like the setting for a Tennessee Williams play or a novel by William Faulkner.

Road to McKenzie Beach, Pawley's Island, SCIn fact, the whole property, 37.5 acres, has the look of a long-ago Southern yesteryear, or as poet Langston Hughes might have put it: the look of a dream deferred.

“McKenzie Beach is a most unusual property,” said Gordon Berl, a Pawleys Island real estate agent with the Dieter Company. Berl became interested in the property’s history while representing some of the owners who recently wanted to sell. It is no longer posted for sale.

Still, Berl’s description of it as “a most unusual property” is dead right. In the 1930s and ‘40s, it was the site of a popular beach resort owned and operated by blacks. Only one other beach for black vacationers was anywhere nearby: Atlantic Beach, some 40 miles on up the road, next to North Myrtle. In the South of that era, beach access for blacks was rare. Beachfront ownership was rarer still.

There is no recorded history of McKenzie Beach, but the few facts available say that it began in 1934 as a partnership between Pawleys Islanders Frank McKenzie and Lilly Pyatt. At its peak, it featured cabins; a causeway from the mainland to the shore; a foot-bridge to the beach (toll: 10 cents); a restaurant; and a pavilion.

Legend has it that “big-name recording artists like Little Richard performed there,” but the tunes most likely wafting from the pavilion were the big-band sounds of, say, Duke Ellington’s “Take the A Train” (1941) or Count Basie’s “One O’Clock Jump” (1937) — in other words, the sophisticated jazz of that era, not the primal (and toe-tapping) squeals of Little Richard, whose first hit, “Tutti Fruitti” didn’t come until 1955.

Alas, by that time, the McKenzie Beach Resort was, one might say, gone with the wind. Hurricane Hazel, a category 4 sea monster, blew the place to oblivion in October 1954.

Today a fence bars entry to the property, a no-trespassing sign and a lock on the gates underscore the meaning of the fence and sign, and a dirt trail named Old Beach Road runs straight as a string down the north side of the property toward a foot-bridge that’s no longer there.

But the property’s obvious desirability still beckons to both buyers and dreamers. Want to make an offer? Bring lots of money.

Old Beach Road, McKenzie Beach, Paywleys Island, SC“It’s expensive,” Berl said. “But I don’t know of another property around here that stretches from the Ocean Highway to the sea.”

Or another site that attracts more attention from gee-whiz vacationers. After you finish reading your morning paper, be it The Times or the Fort Mudge Moan, get on your computer and google McKenzie Beach; you’ll get an idea how much interest this property has aroused in passersby over the years, some even suggesting that the state should erect a historical marker there — which is similar to Berl’s ideas for the place.

He said, “I’d like to see the property acquired by the local populace and see it developed into something that would anchor the community for generations to come while highlighting the important history of the site, which otherwise likely will be lost.”

He also believes “very strongly” that, although he didn’t get any takers, such an acquisition is possible, given, he said, the requisite resources and determination.

“The whole property, including the marsh, is co-owned by eight people,” he said. “I represented three of the eight, who together owned 40 percent of the property. They were asking $4.95 million.”

What would the whole property cost? That’s hard to pin down because the land’s numerous owners, Berl said, include some who don’t want to sell, others who might sell but are not eager to sell, and still others whose basic position is: “Well, it depends.”

Berl’s clients included Dr. Gladys Manigault Watkins, a retired educator and writer who now lives in Washington, D.C. In the 1950s, her family had a summer residence at McKenzie Beach, and in 1963, her father, Walter Manigault, partnered with Modjeska Simkins, a civil-rights activist from Columbia, to buy the property to save it from bankruptcy. (Yes, that was The Modjeska Simkins, Columbia-born and often called The Matriarch of Civil Rights and Social Justice in South Carolina.)

Most longtime residents of these parts (Georgetown, Pawleys Island, Murrells Inlet, Litchfield Beach and North Litchfield) have a pretty good idea where McKenzie Beach was located. For those unfamiliar with this neck of the woods, the beach was somewhere between the northern tip of Pawleys Island and the southern tip of Litchfield Beach — and might even have been the southern tip of Litchfield Beach proper before Hazel carved a new shoreline there.

No matter where exactly it was located — or where you’re from — you’re likely to agree there is something sad and maybe even haunting about an Old Beach Road in the Carolina Lowcountry that is now a geographical non sequitur: an old beach road with no beach to run to.

Robert Lamb

Robert Lamb

I grew up in Augusta, Ga., where I attended Boys' Catholic High. After service in the Navy, I attended the University of Georgia, majoring in English, and then began a (wholly unexpected) journalism career on the old Augusta Herald, an evening paper, and ended years later in Atlanta at The (great) Atlanta Constitution, which I left in late 1982 to write The Great American Novel. That goal has proved remarkably elusive, but my first attempt (Striking Out, in 1991) was nominated for the PEN/Hemingway Award. My second novel, Atlanta Blues, spent a few minutes on the best-seller list in (at least) Columbia, S.C., and was described in one newspaper’s year-end roundup as “one of the three best novels of 2004 by a Southern writer.” My third novel won no honors but at least didn’t get me hanged; titled A Majority of One, it is about a clash between religion and the Constitution over book-banning in the high school of a Georgia town. For my next novel, And Tell Tchaikovsky the News, I returned to an Atlanta setting for a story about the redemptive powers of, in this case anyhow, “that good rock ’n’ roll.” I've also published a collection of short stories and poems: Six of One, Half Dozen of Another. One of its stories, “R.I.P.,” was a winner in the S.C. Fiction Project in 2009. Before retirement, I taught creative writing and American literature at the University of South Carolina and its Honors College, and feature writing in its School of Journalism. I maintain a now-and-then blog at boblamb.wordpress.comand I walk my dog on the beach a lot at Pawleys Island, S.C.

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Roe v. Wade In The Crosshairs https://likethedew.com/2019/05/28/roe-v-wade-in-the-crosshairs/ https://likethedew.com/2019/05/28/roe-v-wade-in-the-crosshairs/#respond Tue, 28 May 2019 21:09:47 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=71123
Right photo - the Supreme Court Justices who decided Roe v. Wade – Front Row, Left to Right: Associate Justices Byron White (dissented), William J. Brennan, Jr., Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, Associate Justices Potter Stewart, and Thurgood Marshall; Back Row: Associate Justices William Rehnquist (dissented), Harry A. Blackmun, Lewis F. Powell, Jr., and William O. Douglas. Left photo – the Supreme Court Justices who could overturn Roe v. Wade – Front row, left to right: Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito. Back row: Associate Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice Elena Kagan, Associate Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh.
Left photo – the Supreme Court Justices who decided Roe v. Wade – front row, left to right: Associate Justices Byron White (dissented), William J. Brennan, Jr., Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, Associate Justices Potter Stewart, and Thurgood Marshall; back row: Associate Justices William Rehnquist (dissented), Harry A. Blackmun, Lewis F. Powell, Jr., and William O. Douglas. Right photo – the Supreme Court Justices who could overturn Roe v. Wade – front row, left to right: Associate Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., Associate Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Samuel A. Alito; back row: Associate Justices Neil M. Gorsuch, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Brett M. Kavanaugh.

In the mad scramble to take down Roe v. Wade, which affirmed women’s nationwide right to pre-viability abortions, state legislatures are throwing together bills fashioned to be struck down so they can be appealed to the U. S. Supreme Court. Even after reading several of the recently enacted anti-abortion statutes, I have no idea how the authors of them envision getting them before the Court. To my layman’s understanding, it looks like some of the states on this bandwagon have stumbled into a morass which courts are likely going to be extremely reluctant to wade through.

The Alabama and Georgia bills in particular switch indiscriminately between the terms ‘human being’ and ‘person’ with no apparent awareness that, though synonymous in dictionaries, they’re not in history and real life. In real life, human beings and persons are distinct but overlapping categories.

A human being is a member of the biological species homo sapiens, membership in which depends just on genetic makeup. But the concept of a person is more elastic than that. It’s more like a club to which biological humans have been admitted or not depending on the prevailing cultural climate. What marks the boundary between insiders and outsiders is that insiders treat one another as if more than personal convenience is involved, but regard themselves as morally free to treat non-persons as nothing but instruments of their own convenience.

There are two kinds of human-person mismatch: humans who aren’t persons and persons who aren’t humans. As an example of the first kind, the philosopher Aristotle famously thought that there were biological human beings who weren’t persons, but “natural slaves,” “living tools” whose “usefulness diverges little from that of animals; bodily service for the necessities of life is forthcoming from both, from slaves and from domestic animals alike.”

Belief in that mismatch has been painfully durable in American history.

While Aristotle endorsed the concept of human beings who aren’t persons, the Judeo-Christian tradition asserts the reality of a person who isn’t a biological human being. God, on this story, is, if anything, the only true person, from whom our status as persons is derived. We’re persons only because, as the Biblical creation story has it, God created us “in his own image and likeness.” That can’t mean anything remotely like having the same genetic composition, because God, being God, has no genetic composition. Existing outside of space and time, He (substitute your favorite pronoun) can’t be a human being, except for the period when He became His own son so He could die for our sins.

Before slavery was outlawed in America, slave holders, schooled in both Aristotle and Christianity, tied themselves up in knots trying to make their Christianity line up with Aristotle.

There are many other instances of human being-person mismatches, some of them horrifically familiar.

Somewhere between these two poles, there are semi-persons, like honorary members of the personhood club, beings who though not genetically human we nonetheless regard as entitled to better treatment than what our mere convenience dictates. These semi-people are protected by laws against cruelty to animals. Our pets and domestic animals are covered, but many others aren’t. When we prohibit cruelty to animals, we do that for their sake as well as ours.

Here’s what all this has to do with the anti-abortion legislative stampede to the courts.

Both Alabama and Georgia confidently claim that “science” shows a fetus to be a person. Georgia’s law is emphatic about that: “Modern medical science…demonstrates that unborn children are a class of living, distinct persons…. The State of Georgia, applying reasoned judgment to the full body of medical science, recognizes the benefits of providing full legal recognition to an unborn child….”

That’s hooey. Modern medical science, even the “full body” of it that all the members of the legislature applied their “reasoned judgment” to, demonstrates no such thing because it can’t. All the biologists and medical researchers can tell us is that human fetuses are, to the surprise of absolutely nobody, genetically and morphologically members of the biological species homo sapiens. But they can’t tell us anything about who among us should be admitted to the persons’ club.

So membership in the community of persons calls for a decision, not a discovery, and these bills can only be invoking science to cloak their provisions in an aura of neutral non-sectarian objectivity.

But Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey blew their cover when she said, after signing her state’s anti-abortion bill into law, “To the bill’s many supporters, this legislation stands as a powerful testament to Alabamians’ deeply held belief that every life…is a sacred gift from God.” Language like that warrants the strong suspicion that appeals to science were intended to conceal the law’s sectarian motivation, allowing it to slide by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution.

If our DNA nowhere spells p-e-r-s-o-n, the obvious next question is whether there are court cases holding that a fetus is a person within the meaning of the Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment. It provides, among other things, that no state shall “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Justice Harry Blackmon, who wrote the majority opinion in Roe v. Wade, noted that Jane Roe’s appeal “collapses” if fetuses are persons under the Fourteenth Amendment. But when lawyers for Texas, where the case originated, were pressed to produce federal or state court decisions so holding, they couldn’t. And as recently as 2018, the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit noted, in Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky v. Commissioner of the Indiana State Department of Health, that there are still no such cases.

So if science can’t promote fetuses from persons-in-waiting to full-fledged persons, and there are no legal precedents affirming fetal personhood, it seems that five Supreme Court justices could promote them only by doing what the late Justice Antonin Scalia complained about in his powerful Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey dissent: just make something up out of whole cloth. That’s the very thing that conservatives have always lambasted so-called liberal judges for.

Leon Galis

I'm an Athens, GA, native and have been living in Athens since 1999 after retiring from the faculty of Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, PA. Since 2008 I've written approximately 80 columns for the Athens Banner Herald and a handful for Flagpole Magazine in Athens.

 

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Daily newspaper in Little Rock innovates, bringing more prosperity https://likethedew.com/2019/05/28/daily-newspaper-in-little-rock-innovates-bringing-more-prosperity/ https://likethedew.com/2019/05/28/daily-newspaper-in-little-rock-innovates-bringing-more-prosperity/#respond Tue, 28 May 2019 16:48:31 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=71116

Daily newspapers aren’t what they used to be. They are thinner, with less news and advertising, and just plain don’t cover the news as they once did. Today most daily newspapers only cover a small geographic area close to their main city. In Gwinnett, we now see the pitiful coverage which both the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Gwinnett Daily Post offer.

Unfortunately, the impact of the Internet has drastically reduced daily newspapers to the point that at best, they are marginally profitable. Small daily and weekly newspaper have not seen their quality diminish as much, and most of these are still profitable.

What makes all this so bad is that newspapers once provided the basic information people needed to be good, informed citizens in our republic.  The declining quality of newspapers means that not as much useful and necessary information is available for our citizens, threatening our nation’s ability for voters to be informed.

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette front pageYet not all newspapers are doing poorly. There are a few newspapers that have forward-thinking and creative publishers who have taken steps to insure their newspaper’s long term viability. One of those persons is Walter Hussman Jr. of Little Rock, Ark. Read today’s accompanying article below about how Mr. Hussman has thought through a dilemma and improved his newspaper and the state of democracy in his state at the same time, and to remain profitable and in business.

Mr. Hussman and his family have been thinking outside the box in the newspaper industry for years. The family owned a small group of Arkansas newspapers when I visited one of those newspapers in Hot Springs, Ark., about 25 years ago. A newspaper publisher from Newnan and I, while attending a National Newspaper Association meeting in Hot Springs, visited his plant. What we found astounded us.  Expecting to see a sleepy operation in an out-of-the-way town, turned into us finding and exciting new venture in one of the most modern newspaper plants we had ever seen. They were years ahead of other newspapers in technology.

In 1998, Mr. Hussman bought the afternoon Chattanooga Free Press, in competition with the stronger morning Chattanooga Times, run by the sister of the New York Times publisher.  The following year, Mr. Hussman had the upper hand, and eventually bought out the Times in Chattanooga. Today it is a healthy newspaper, Chattanooga Times Free Press.

A similar thing happened in Little Rock, where the Hussmans had owned The Arkansas Democrat since 1974, an evening paper against the stronger morning and well-established Arkansas Gazette. Charging hard at the Gazette, Mr. Hussman offered free want ads in many categories, and adopted several up-front activities that eventually had the long-time Gazette owners looking forward to selling out to the Hussmans. In 1986, the Gazette was sold to the Gannett newspaper conglomerate. After a five year newspaper battle, in 1991 the Gazettesold to the Hussmans.

It was the same old adage: better management through forward thinking and a willingness to try something different, which made the significant difference. That’s the way the Hussmans have run their operations over the years. And Mr. Hussman’s changes have resulted that his Little Rock newspaper has a statewide readership of informed citizens, good for democracy in Arkansas.

Read Mr. Hussman’s explanation in “A letter to subscribers” and see the innovations that the Little Rock newspapers have adopted today. If other daily newspaper publishers are smart, they’ll adopt some of the Hussman tactics, see their newspapers be of higher quality and profitable, and greatly improve their overall community. That’s good for any community, and for democracy, too.

Elliott Brack

Elliott Brack

Elliott Brack is a native Georgian and veteran newspaperman. He published the weekly Wayne County Press for 12 years; was for 13 years the vice president and general manager of Gwinnett Daily News, and for 13 years was associate publisher of the Gwinnett section of The Atlanta Journal and Constitution. He now publishes, in retirement, Web sites on Gwinnett County, http://www.gwinnettforum.com, and Georgia news, http://www.georgiaclips.com.

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A Thirst for Knowledge https://likethedew.com/2019/05/28/a-thirst-for-knowledge/ https://likethedew.com/2019/05/28/a-thirst-for-knowledge/#respond Tue, 28 May 2019 16:11:21 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=71095 June 1 is moving day in Hartsville, South Carolina. That’s when the South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics (GSSM) sends 138 seniors into the world. Among them Abbi Fralick and Randi Gamble will graduate, while Patricio Ortiz and Christian Dunlap rise as seniors. Each student’s story has nothing to do with complacency but everything to do with excellence. These students thirst for knowledge and they welcome difficult challenges.

Randi Gamble of Summerville is an achiever who was eager for new challenges. “I wanted more math and science,” she said. She got that math and science at the Governor’s School and fit right into the environment. “I liked the community here. I liked being surrounded by people who wanted to go to college and be successful in life.”

(L - R) Christian Dunlap, Patricio Ortiz, Abbi Fralick, and Randi Gamble look toward a bright future. Fralick and Gamble graduate from South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics June 1. Dunlap and Ortiz are rising seniors.
(L – R) Christian Dunlap, Patricio Ortiz, Abbi Fralick, and Randi Gamble look toward a bright future. Fralick and Gamble graduate from South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics June 1. Dunlap and Ortiz are rising seniors.

Going to GSSM changed Randi. “Living here on my own allowed me to better know who I am,” she said, acknowledging that being around family can sometimes hamper that. “I’ve grown a lot as a person.”

She plans to attend New York University in New York City to study Spanish. That represents a big change, but change is the path she treads. She wants to go to law school and to get a master’s as well. Her career choices include becoming an immigration lawyer and healthcare as well. “I want to help people who are vulnerable,” she said.

Life and learning changed Randi, and she wants people to understand that she’s a hard worker and that the path she’s chosen hasn’t been a smooth one. “Growing up things weren’t always easy,” she said. That’s a fact. Her father died last fall. “It was hard to continue being in school, but I did.” That she did and soon she will enter a new world entirely and further pursue her goal to help people, vulnerable people especially.

Abbi Fralick hails from North Augusta. A summer science camp at GSSM following eighth grade impressed her. ” The camp focused on neuroscience. “I really liked it,” she said. She appreciated the in-depth approach and realized her fellow students were more like her. “I felt more comfortable here academically.”

Abbi plans to attend Dartmouth, perhaps pursue neuroscience studies and become a physician. “I’m interested in the bigger picture as healthcare goes,” she said, “the public policy side of healthcare.”

Attending GSSM changed her. “I was shy when I came here. I’m an only child and coming here was a transition.” After arriving at GSSM it didn’t take her long to realize she was surrounded by a lot of academic superstars. The shyness faded and she had fun with new friends. “One month after moving in here, around 3 a.m., my friends and I decided to make a music video, Justin Bieber’s “Baby.” “That was one of the first time I felt, ‘It’s ok here. I can do hard things and have fun, too.’ ” She laughs as she recalls how she and three friends ended up with eyeliner all over their faces.

Abbi was the tennis team co-captain and played basketball while at GSSM. “I wasn’t that good but I had fun.” She also served as the drama stage manager. Her fellow students elected her Student Council president. That doesn’t sound shy does it.

Christian Dunlap, a junior, came to GSSM, in part, because his mom was moving to Ohio and his dad was living in Rock Hill. Coming to GSSM solved two problems for him. He had a home away from home and could immerse himself in a rigorous learning environment.

“Academically, I’ve changed,” said Christian who keeps his focus on academics and high standards. “Anyone who has the willpower can come to the school here and thrive. Coming here is definitely a solid step academically.” He’s a bit unsure for now but he believes he may study English or math. He’s interested in writing and math. “I might like to work with statistics.”

Before coming to GSSM, Christian had never met Asians or Muslims. Nor had he met wealthy people. “Everyone is different and everyone has a story to tell.” That’s for sure and so does a young man by the name of Christian Dunlap. This summer he will go to China to work on a documentary on an engineering project to help China better manage pollution. After that he’ll work for the ACLU in Washington, DC thanks to a scholarship.

Christian appreciates all the wonderful opportunities coming his way and says none of it would have happened had he not decided to come to Hartsville. He has a message for others like him. “The school would love to have you and your talents.”

Patricio Ortiz, a junior, is from Simpsonville. His grandfather was a Bolivian diplomat sent to the US. Patricio brims with energy and strives for excellence in all things. He wanted a challenge in high school so he took a college math course. Later he applied to GSSM. He likes the intense focus on academics.

“I fell in love with writing and will take more English and writing courses my senior year. I’ll take every writing class, every math, chemistry, and physics elective.” He and his fellow students have fun too. During a room check one night, fellows from another floor staged a mock attack. “They hit us with pool noodles.” No harm done. Boys will be boys as the saying goes.

Patricio takes the reins from Abbi as the newly elected president of Student Council. As for the summer break, it won’t be much of a break. From June 3 until August 14 he’ll research condensed matter physics at Clemson. “I’ll be working with a laser, a $2 million Linseis System, that’s dangerous to work with but safeguards are in place.”

Patricio, looking to the future, sees himself as a mathematician or physics teacher. Don’t rule out public service. He enjoys the YMCA Youth In Government program. “We get to debate bills in the State House chamber.” Writing, politics, teaching? In all likelihood, Patricio will purse public service. Whatever he pursues, he’ll do fine.

In its 30th anniversary year, GSSM is graduating another stellar class. All students support each other’s quest for achievement and all will make great leaders. As for Randi, Abbi, Christian, and Patricio, all will succeed in whatever they do. Their pursuit of excellence and desire to conquer challenges will serve them and our society quite well. In an age when it’s vogue to criticize young people it’s reassuring to see that the desire to succeed is alive and well, and especially so among students at GSSM in Hartsville, South Carolina.

Tom Poland

Tom Poland, A Southern Writer – Tom Poland is the author of fourteen books, 550 columns, and more than 1,200 magazine features. A Southern writer, his work has appeared in magazines throughout the South. Among his recent books are Classic Carolina Road Trips From Columbia, Georgialina, A Southland, As We Knew It, Reflections of South Carolina, Vol. II, and South Carolina Country Roads. Swamp Gravy, Georgia’s Official Folk Life Drama, staged his play, Solid Ground.

He writes a weekly column for newspapers and journals in Georgia and South Carolina about the South, its people, traditions, lifestyle, and changing culture and speaks to groups across South Carolina and Georgia. He’s the editor of Shrimp, Collards & Grits, a Lowcountry lifestyle magazine.
Governor McMaster conferred the Order of the Palmetto upon him October 26, 2018 for his impact upon South Carolina through his books and writing because “his work is exceptional to the state.”

Tom earned a BA in Journalism and a Masters in Media at the University of Georgia. He grew up in Lincolnton, Georgia. He lives in Columbia, South Carolina where he writes about Georgialina—his name for eastern Georgia and South Carolina.

Visit Tom's website at www.tompoland.net. Email him at tompol@earthlink.net.

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Memorial Day https://likethedew.com/2019/05/28/memorial-day-2/ https://likethedew.com/2019/05/28/memorial-day-2/#respond Tue, 28 May 2019 16:06:58 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=71091 On my eighteenth birthday, I made a visit to the Tuscaloosa draft board with three of my closest friends. Randy had turned eighteen a week earlier; Nick and Richard both on the 20th. At some point earlier in the year, as we waited for spring, and positive news from Vietnam, we had decided to go register for the draft together. Sort of as a joke on the Assistant Principal, who knew us, and knew we were friends.

On April Seventh of that year, two weeks and two days before I would become eligible for military service, we got the news about Yank. Allan Gaines was his real name but we knew him as Yank. He had an old Jeep without a roof or doors, and mounted a big chair in the very back. Whoever sat there looked like Granny Clampett from the Beverly Hillbillies. He joined the Marines and was excited about going to war.

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On my eighteenth birthday, I made a visit to the Tuscaloosa draft board with three of my closest friends. Randy had turned eighteen a week earlier; Nick and Richard both on the 20th. At some point earlier in the year, as we waited for spring, and positive news from Vietnam, we had decided to go register for the draft together. Sort of as a joke on the Assistant Principal, who knew us, and knew we were friends.

On April Seventh of that year, two weeks and two days before I would become eligible for military service, we got the news about Yank. Allan Gaines was his real name but we knew him as Yank. He had an old Jeep without a roof or doors, and mounted a big chair in the very back. Whoever sat there looked like Granny Clampett from the Beverly Hillbillies. He joined the Marines and was excited about going to war.

he U.S. flag is flown at half-staffWe were at a party at someone’s home we didn’t know when we learned Yank had been killed by an explosion in some place we couldn’t pronounce, much less find on a map of Southeast Asia.

I remember bits of the funeral. Ronald, the baddest motherfucker in our inner circle, broke down like a little girl as we walked outside. The rest of us were in shock. During the viewing, it appeared that Yank’s face had been put together with clay, but that could be just me.

I also remember Taps. It was my first military funeral and hearing that song on a single horn was the saddest thing I’ve ever heard. To this day. And I was going to put my name on an availability list before the month was out.

I always think about Yank on Memorial Day, and some guy named Blackie. He was the only casualty my father ever talked about when discussing his time in World War II. I missed a lot of sleep while my brother was in Vietnam but he made it home alive. Different but alive.

I don’t remember Memorial Day 1968. Everyone I knew was desperately trying to get into the National Guard or the Army Reserves. No one wanted to be drafted and no one wanted to join the Marines. Anyone going to college could get a deferment but I had already decided to work and get married. I didn’t know anyone with rich parents, so the idea of a medical deferment was beyond my comprehension.

I do know that in those days every family was affected by that war because of the draft. Supporting the military is much easier today because such a small number of people enlist, and many are people that think their best chance at a good life is militarily. We tell strangers thanks for their service, but most of us don’t know many people actually serving.

1968 proved to be the deadliest year for American soldiers. Almost 17,000 soldiers were killed, more than in any other year before or after. I got my draft notice in May of 1969, about two days after my wife found out she was having our first son.

News reports suggested the war was winding down as the country was ripping apart. I called the local draft board and asked if becoming a father changed my status, not expecting much success. I was told it did, and to forget about reporting. I was too damn scared to dig any deeper.

Memorial Day is for remembering those close that died for us during wartime. Maybe one day, if we’re lucky, war itself will be a faint and distant memory.

Mike Cox

Mike Cox

Mike Cox currently writes a weekly column in South Carolina for the Columbia Star called "It's Not a Criticism, It's an Observation." He is trying to grow old as gracefully as possible without condemning the current generation in charge to doom. Each day this task gets harder as the overwhelming evidence mounts. He currently has two published books; Finding Daddy Cox, and October Saturdays. His columns have won three South Carolina Press Association awards since 2003. Mike has three sons and two grandchildren and lives in Irmo, Sc, just outside of Columbia.

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Day of bad memory https://likethedew.com/2019/05/28/day-of-bad-memory/ https://likethedew.com/2019/05/28/day-of-bad-memory/#respond Tue, 28 May 2019 16:01:14 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=71108 The frustration I experience with dishonest politics reached a peak with Memorial Day this year. I saw protest signs and memes to the effect of: “Some gave all. All gave something. Trump gave nothing.” While it perfectly captured my frustration, it was oversimplified and failed to articulate the real failures. 

Donald Trump, who dodged the draft with alleged bone-spurs, simultaneously gets it right and wrong. War is ugly and Vietnam was Kissinger’s and Nixon’s crime against humanity. I will not condemn anyone for refusing to carry out misdeeds. The problem is that he refused for the wrong reasons—cowardice and selfishness. A moral being does not say, as Trump has, that dodging STDs was his own personal Vietnam. A moral being might more closely resemble Anthony Bourdain who said, “Once you’ve been to Cambodia, you’ll never stop wanting to beat Henry Kissinger to death with your bare hands.” Not that I condone violence, I just understand that witnessing the aftermath and trauma from violence and war—even decades later—present existential challenges that shake a person to the core.

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The frustration I experience with dishonest politics reached a peak with Memorial Day this year. I saw protest signs and memes to the effect of: “Some gave all. All gave something. Trump gave nothing.” While it perfectly captured my frustration, it was oversimplified and failed to articulate the real failures. 

Donald Trump, who dodged the draft with alleged bone-spurs, simultaneously gets it right and wrong. War is ugly and Vietnam was Kissinger’s and Nixon’s crime against humanity. I will not condemn anyone for refusing to carry out misdeeds. The problem is that he refused for the wrong reasons—cowardice and selfishness. A moral being does not say, as Trump has, that dodging STDs was his own personal Vietnam. A moral being might more closely resemble Anthony Bourdain who said, “Once you’ve been to Cambodia, you’ll never stop wanting to beat Henry Kissinger to death with your bare hands.” Not that I condone violence, I just understand that witnessing the aftermath and trauma from violence and war—even decades later—present existential challenges that shake a person to the core.

For more than a decade I have taught students receiving post 9-11 GI Bill access to higher education. Many of these students have shared sentiments: “You’re the first civilian I’ve ever felt comfortable sharing these stories with” or “I wish everyone was as open minded about these things as you are.” By the end of the term they let me know, “I fought in the war, but now I understand why,” which I consider the highest praise. 

I think it is collective bad memory that makes it possible for Bush, then Obama, then Trump to ignore the consequences of waging war, and for society as whole to do so too. 

American flags adorn headstones at the Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery following this year's Memorial Day flag placement ceremony conducted by airmen assigned to the Arkansas National Guard's 189th Airlift Wing in North Little Rock, Ark., May 24, 2017. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Stephen Wright

Lip service is paid to the fallen on Memorial Day, but any correction to the mythology being presented is almost immediately condemned. Why is that? Why do we allow politicians to use sacrifice for political stunts but cower the moment that the politics responsible for the sacrifice are exposed? 

Trump himself challenged that Obama would start a war with Iran to boost his ratings. He now beats the drums of war—with Iran. I think we can safely guess that he believes it would provide a boost to his ongoing failures. Great diplomatic efforts have been sabotaged and undermined in literally every global arena he has entered. But while blowing up the Iran Deal was sheer lunacy, nothing shows his shortsightedness more than his trade war with China; China did not become a powerhouse by brokering good deals, they did so by using their peace dividend to invest on development and infrastructure. Imagine if the US had spent trillions of dollars on education, infrastructure, and technology instead of war?

The empty ceremonies for the lives cut short could actually mean something; when people actually care, the ceremonies matter. The surest sign of sincerity—good memory—is evidenced by how a person treats the living. People who care about those who sacrifice might care more about my veteran students with PTSD and permanent disabilities. Maybe the VA is adequately funded, but Medicaid and Medicare (sources of healthcare for more than half of veterans) are not. Over a million veterans’ households receive benefits through the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), programs that have been cut by the current President’s budget.

Politicians who really care about honor and commitment are taking steps to combat homelessness. More than 40,000 veterans were homeless in 2017. 

The bottom line is this: Memorial Day serves as another mechanism for avoiding the true costs of war. By keeping the “perceived” costs down politicians are able to garner more support for their violent campaigns. Truly honoring the fallen requires being the kind of person worth fighting for, and that kind of person does not send children to die when it can be avoided. I refuse to accept that moral amnesia honors anyone who died as a sacrifice for the freedoms of others; we can do much better than this.

Wim Laven

Wim Laven

Wim Laven, Ph.D. is an instructor of Political Science and International Relations at Kennesaw State University and is syndicated by PeaceVoice.

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