LikeTheDew.com https://likethedew.com A journal of progressive Southern culture and politics Mon, 19 Aug 2019 14:00:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.2 https://likethedew.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/cropped-DewLogoSquare825-32x32.png LikeTheDew.com https://likethedew.com 32 32 110899633 Footsteps on the Moon, Lunatics at the Window https://likethedew.com/2019/08/19/footsteps-on-the-moon-lunatics-at-the-window/ https://likethedew.com/2019/08/19/footsteps-on-the-moon-lunatics-at-the-window/#respond Mon, 19 Aug 2019 13:58:25 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=71835

Fifty years ago, I was a jackleg production supervisor in Fairfax Cotton Mill Spinning Room—a “second-hand” in the vernacular. Dealing with 40 or 50 allegedly adult people occupied in a manufacturing production process only reaffirmed my long-held sneaking suspicion: that being, there is no such thing as a truly grown-up person, including me. One of the few good things about an aggravating second-hand’s job was the extra week’s vacation given to such harassed individuals.

During the week of July 20, 1969, the same week Neil Armstrong left the first footprints on the moon, I took the extra week’s vacation to which I was entitled.

I, my wife Yvonne, our two young sons and my baby brother, were spending a few days at my uncle’s rustic Lake Martin fish camp, a beautiful, if remote, tree-shaded spot hard at the edge of the water. Usually a really pleasant place to relax and kickback, there was a fly in the ointment this trip. Some low-life, hell-bound, snake-in-grass had stolen the camp’s air conditioner.

Astronaut Edwin Aldrin poses for photograph beside deployed US flag surrounded by footprints - NASAEven worse, the area was in the grips of an unmerciful, heat wave. Not a breath of air stirring, and so muggy breathing was difficult. The tree leaves were so still they looked like paintings.

Sleep was impossible. At midnight it hadn’t cooled off a tad and we were all still awake. Inside the camp, the air was stifling hot. And outside was even worse.

After getting no relief taking a late-night swim, and sitting in my LTD and running its air conditioner, we decided to pack it in and head home.

We were at home an hour later, shouting hosannas to our air conditioner, which was running at full blast I might add.

Someone flipped on the TV, just in time to see Neil Armstrong hop off the Luna Lander and start prancing about the moon, bouncing like a balloon in the wind.

What an unforgettable day and even more unforgettable night.  And the excitement wasn’t over. In fact, it was just beginning.

We watched the TV proceedings for a while and finally everyone drifted off to bed. Yvonne went to bed before me, but soon returned saying the bedroom light bulb had burned out. When she asked me to replace the burned-out bulb, I resisted, saying I was tired and would do it the next day.

Besides, I said, why do we need a light in the bedroom when we’re sleeping? I can do it tomorrow.

She gave up on the new bulb and hit the sack. I soon followed, but was unable to sleep.

I finally started yawning and beginning to drift off when I heard a noise at the window. Startled and fully awake again, I realized that someone was removing the window screen.

I sat up in bed and reached for the pistol I usually kept in the bedside nightstand. It was a large .357 Magnum Colt Python pistol, reputedly with the power to stop anything, man or beast.

But I had taken the pistol with me to Lake Martin – and mistakenly left it in the car. Which I wasn’t aware of until I reached for it—and discovered it missing.
Oh, Lord!

By the time I realized the gun was not in the drawer, I could hear the window being raised. It was being raised because it had been left unlocked.

Why would anybody lock a window?

I was on full alert by now, certain Jack the Ripper or some deranged lunatic was crawling into our bedroom.

And me with no weapon.

I hurriedly jumped out of bed and hit the light.

Nothing!

Uh-oh, it struck me that, in my lethargy, I had failed to replace that pesky bulb.

Fortunately, I remembered the picker stick used to hold up another bedroom window when it was opened. A picker stick is a loom part that legions of mill hands brought home to prop up windows, club fish or to serve as a semi-pro self-defense weapon.

A picker stick can be quite effective used this way, as has been often proved. Deadly, even.

Events were proceeding at a terrifying pace. I could hear someone grunting as he slid through the window. I quickly grabbed the picker stick and stepped to the window where the uninvited guest was crawling into the house.

The room’s only illumination came from an outside security light on a pole across the road.

But, even in that dim blue light, by the time I reached the window, someone’s head was plainly visible in the parted curtains.

While the American Dream has varied definitions, the worst American Nightmare usually has only one—waking to find an unknown intruder in the house. This horror had come to pass in my jumbled life.

I drew back the picker stick, preparing to deliver a vicious strike to the exposed noggin. But, just as I was about to land the crushing blow, a timid little voice whispered loudly, “Hey Kerry—ain’t you awake?”

Kerry was my oldest son. I instantly recognized the voice of Jeff, a really neat kid who lived down the street. Jeff, my son Kerry’s friend, was also nearly deaf.

Jeff and Kerry, rambunctious to their core, had planned this surreptitious nighttime visit. (And, as later learned, not for the first time.) Only Jeff had come to the wrong window.

Realizing how close I came to braining this kid, I got so weak I had to drop to one knee.

I’m afraid I talked really ugly to Jeff, even though deaf, he got the gist of my meaning, and quickly fled into the night.

I woke up Jeff’s daddy with a phone call and told him what had happened. Alarmed, he said, “Jeff just barged in the back door. I’ll have prayer with him.“

I was wide awake again by then, and didn’t try to sleep. Yvonne, awakened by the commotion, had gotten up with me. We were sitting at the kitchen table a short time later when there came a knock at the carport door.

It was Jeff, accompanied by his parents. They ordered Jeff to apologize for the scare and ask for our forgiveness. Which he did, shaking, with tears streaming down his face. It was revealed that he and Kerry had been slipping out their window late at night and visiting each other. Which didn’t make a lick of sense, but when you think about it, totally unremarkable boy behavior.

Before Jeff and his parents arrived, I had retrieved the Colt revolver from the car. It lay there on the table between us as Jeff and his parents apologized.

I couldn’t take my eyes off the pistol. Had it been in its usual place that star-crossed night, there is a more than good possibility that I would have blown Jeff’s head off.

His intrusion had alarmed me so badly I was in a “shoot first and ask questions later” frame of mind. Only my forgetfulness in leaving the pistol in the car spared Jeff’s life.

As Neil Armstrong said, July 20, 1969, was a great step for mankind, for sure. But it could have been a bad step for me. And an even worse step for Jeff. Jeff could have gone to wherever the dead go, and I would still be carrying the agonizing memory of mistakenly killing a likeable boy I knew well.

It still sends a shiver down my spine when I think of it, lo, this half century later.

I never read or hear comments about Neil Armstrong’s Moon Landing without remembering how close I came to sending a thoughtless, but harmless pubescent boy on the journey from which no one ever returns.

Nothing but pure luck prevented such a horrible tragedy.

And they who dismiss the relevance of pure luck in our haphazard affairs haven’t been paying close attention. Trust me on this…

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Trump: no John McCain (and neither is Senator Graham) https://likethedew.com/2019/08/19/trump-no-john-mccain-and-neither-is-senator-graham/ https://likethedew.com/2019/08/19/trump-no-john-mccain-and-neither-is-senator-graham/#respond Mon, 19 Aug 2019 13:56:38 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=71836

“I don’t remember anybody treating ... John McCain the way they’re treating Donald Trump.”- Senator Graham (the Hill, 7-18-19)

Senator Graham, you are 100% correct. For obvious reasons, virtually no self-respecting, intelligent person can equate Trump with McCain. I am at a loss as to why you would expect them to be treated in the same way.

Trump is a divisive draft dodger and a proven con man who only loves power (and himself). Virtually every word out of his lying mouth details how he’s smarter, better looking and richer than anyone else. Trump even had the nerve to say he was helping out at the Towers on 9/11.

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“I don’t remember anybody treating … John McCain the way they’re treating Donald Trump.”- Senator Graham (the Hill, 7-18-19)

Senator Graham, you are 100% correct. For obvious reasons, virtually no self-respecting, intelligent person can equate Trump with McCain. I am at a loss as to why you would expect them to be treated in the same way.

Trump is a divisive draft dodger and a proven con man who only loves power (and himself). Virtually every word out of his lying mouth details how he’s smarter, better looking and richer than anyone else. Trump even had the nerve to say he was helping out at the Towers on 9/11.

As you know, your close friend John McCain was the exact opposite, a true war hero who loved his nation much more than himself or his party. Who can forget his courageous vote against the ill-advised GOP driven ACA repeal (with no replacement at all)? McCain is the only reason people with pre-existing conditions can get insurance today. 

Trump had the nerve to say with a straight face that McCain, who was horribly tortured in captivity, was not a hero. But Trump said he himself was, even though he got out of serving due to a “Trumped up” statement by his family doctor saying he had bone spurs. My brother served in Nam even though he had a metal pin in his elbow and couldn’t even straighten his arm. 

John McCain was a traditional, fiscally conservative Republican, a modest man with a firm set of values that he lived by. It was elected officials like McCain that made me run for office as a fiscally conservative Republican (I won twice). It was Trump …along with that spineless enabler, McConnell…who forced me to finally leave the GOP this year. Since 2016, it has become the Retrumpican Party, dedicated to backing the President no matter how outrageous his conduct.

Senator, the real question is what happened to you after McCain’s death? You went from being a principled maverick to a shameless shill for a reality show aberration who is destroying civility within our great land as well as any hope of bi-partisanship.

Senator, Winston Churchill once said: “Some men change their party for the sake of their principles; others their principles for the sake of their party.” You obviously fit in the lattercategory.

Senator, you represent a state with a large African-American population. How can you believe that Trump has no responsibility for the tremendous increase in racist violence and bigoted incidents that are occurring since he came into politics? Beto O’Rourke recently said: “Of course he’s racist. He’s been racist from day one.” (MSNBC)

Certainly, you are aware of his racist history prior to him taking office, including: cases in the 1970s successfully brought against the Trump companies for discrimination; Trump accusing the Central Park Five of rape and never apologizing after they are found innocent; racist comments to employees at his Casinos; statements about Mexico exporting criminals to the USA; Trump’s birther campaign going back to 2011 when he first started accusing our first black President of being a Kenyan; and other clearly bigoted statements and actions too numerous to state in a short column.

Senator, he has only gotten worse since he became President, splitting our nation into warring factions and encouraging white supremacists, with David Duke calling it “treason” to vote against him. He called white nationalists and Nazis in Charlottesville “fine people” and African nations “shit holes”; and encouraged his followers to yell “send them back” regarding four Congresswomen of color.

There’s an old Southern saying that my wife likes to repeat: “you lay down with dogs; you get fleas.” Senator Graham, as long as you and the GOP are in bed with this unconscionable, lying, racist President, you will all be in dire need of flea powder.

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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Dead Canaries https://likethedew.com/2019/08/12/dead-canaries/ https://likethedew.com/2019/08/12/dead-canaries/#respond Mon, 12 Aug 2019 19:09:12 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=71814

“Many people think that the fight for America is already lost. They couldn’t be more wrong. This is just the beginning of the fight for America and Europe. I am honored to head the fight to reclaim my country from destruction.”

This is how the El Paso killer ended his white supremacy screed, posted just before he “went in” and killed 22 “invaders” who were shopping at a Walmart’s store this past weekend. And, as everyone knows, half a day later another armed maniac wearing body armor and sporting a semiautomatic went on a shooting rampage outside a bar in Dayton, Ohio, killing nine and wounding 26. And a few days earlier, a gunman killed three people, including two children, at a festival in Gilroy, Calif.

So what else is new? Should we sing the national anthem?

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“Many people think that the fight for America is already lost. They couldn’t be more wrong. This is just the beginning of the fight for America and Europe. I am honored to head the fight to reclaim my country from destruction.”

This is how the El Paso killer ended his white supremacy screed, posted just before he “went in” and killed 22 “invaders” who were shopping at a Walmart’s store this past weekend. And, as everyone knows, half a day later another armed maniac wearing body armor and sporting a semiautomatic went on a shooting rampage outside a bar in Dayton, Ohio, killing nine and wounding 26. And a few days earlier, a gunman killed three people, including two children, at a festival in Gilroy, Calif.

empty shell casings on a US flagSo what else is new? Should we sing the national anthem?

Something is terribly wrong in this country of almost 400 million guns — wrong beyond solution by gun control or increased security measures . . . at shopping malls, schools, garlic festivals, churches, temples, synagogues and everywhere else. Americans are killing each other at an average of one mass shooting a day. How is this possible? What poison is permeating the social infrastructure?

Nearly seven years ago, after the horrific shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, sociologist Peter Turchin called the nation’s mass murders, which have been increasing at a dizzying rate over the last half century, “canaries in a coal mine.”

He wrote: “The reason we should be worried about rampages . . . is because they are surface indicators of highly troubling negative trends working their way through deep levels of our society.”

In other words, tragic and horrifying as such events are in and of themselves, they are also collective signals of some deeply embedded flaw in the social infrastructure that must be discovered and addressed. Racism is only part of it. Guns are only part of it.

Consider the media consensus after the El Paso shootings that it was also a “hate crime.” Was this supposed to ramp up its level of seriousness? Innocent people are dead no matter what you call it. Pondering whether it should be considered a hate crime seemed as nitpicky to me as pointing out that the shooter not only killed 22 people but parked his car illegally before entering Walmart.

Here’s what it was: a dehumanization crime. In every mass shooting rampage that has ever taken place, the killer had no personal connection to his victims. They weren’t people, they were either symbols of a social wrong with which he was obsessed or, at best, collateral damage.

Turchin called this “social substitutability” — substituting a particular group of people for a general wrong, proclaiming them enemies because of their ethnicity, religion, presence in a classroom or any other reason.

Engaging thus has another name. It’s called going to war.

“On the battlefield,” Turchin wrote, “you are supposed to try to kill a person whom you’ve never met before. You are not trying to kill this particular person, you are shooting because he is wearing the enemy uniform. . . . Enemy soldiers are socially substitutable.”

They’re gooks. They’re nips. They’re hadjis.

Writing in the wake of a mass murder way back in May (in Virginia Beach), I noted: “War is a combination of dehumanizing and then killing an enemy along with any civilians in the way (a.k.a., collateral damage), and then glorifying the process: that is to say, it’s mass murder plus public relations.”

When we celebrate war, salute it and revere it, we’re not celebrating the corpses in mass graves or the bomb-shattered cities and villages and wedding parties. We’re not celebrating the radioactive fallout, the birth defects caused by depleted uranium or the global military’s unfathomably large carbon footprint contributing to the environmental collapse of Planet Earth. We’re not celebrating PTSD and the high suicide rate among vets.

We’re celebrating the waving flag and the national anthem, the glory and the bravery and the heroism. All this stirs the heart — especially the heart of a young man — like little else. All of which brings me back to the El Paso killer’s screed. He was going off, fully armed, to a shopping mall to kill moms and dads buying school supplies for their kids in order “to reclaim my country from destruction.”

He was playing war. My guess is that they’re all playing war, in one way or another. Whether or not the mass murderer is a vet — and a large percentage of them are — they are giving meaning to their lives by turning their anger and despair into a military operation. When we mix racism in with the easy availability of lethal weaponry, it turns into terrorism, which is to say, collective lunacy — a lunacy surpassed in its scope and human cost only by the lunacy of war itself.

So my question is this: Why can’t we talk about this at the national level? How many minutes of the last two Democratic presidential debates were devoted to the defense budget or nuclear weapons or the 21st-century phenomenon of endless war? Tulsi Gabbard, a vet, used about a minute of her time to address the issue, taking a clear stand against our regime-change wars. Otherwise . . . nada.

Does anyone think that lockdown drills in the public schools or security checks at shopping malls (a recent New Yorker cartoon depicted a woman in a grocery checkout line removing her shoes and putting them on the conveyor belt) will keep us safe? Does anyone believe that our current political system is capable of addressing the prevalence of war and the trillion dollars-plus we hemorrhage annually for “national defense” and prisons and “border security”?

Does anyone doubt that the mass murders will continue?

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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Single Payer and Employers: a good marriage https://likethedew.com/2019/08/12/single-payer-and-employers-a-good-marriage/ https://likethedew.com/2019/08/12/single-payer-and-employers-a-good-marriage/#respond Mon, 12 Aug 2019 15:23:31 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=71808 Supporters of single payer healthcare proposals (Medicare for all) focus on patient benefits: universal access, lower healthcare costs, and improved outcomes. However, employers also benefit. During a series of informal interviews with one of the authors, small business owners expressed what they expected from an ideal healthcare plan: 

“Get me out of healthcare benefit management."  Time expended on benefit management is time lost from core business management. 

“Keep my employees healthy.” Successful businesses require able employees – healthy both physically and mentally.  

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Supporters of single payer healthcare proposals (Medicare for all) focus on patient benefits: universal access, lower healthcare costs, and improved outcomes. However, employers also benefit. During a series of informal interviews with one of the authors, small business owners expressed what they expected from an ideal healthcare plan: 

"SINGLE PAYER It's What The People Want"“Get me out of healthcare benefit management.”  Time expended on benefit management is time lost from core business management. 

“Keep my employees healthy.” Successful businesses require able employees – healthy both physically and mentally.  

“I’ll pay for healthcare, but not more than my competitors.” Healthcare costs should be equitable regardless of size, region, or industry… but they aren’t now. Smaller start-up firms lack the clout to negotiate the lower premium prices enjoyed by larger employers. 

“Don’t make my employee benefits any worse than those of my competitors.” Equal employer contributions toward healthcare deserve equal employee returns. 

“Keep my healthcare costs stable.” Unpredictable healthcare costs render strategic planning impossible. 

Employers confirm that our current system achieves none of these goals. And whatever its good intentions, the Affordable Care Act did little more for employers than award them unwanted responsibility for navigating a complex array of federal laws, achieving little other than increasing paperwork and business expenses. 

These burdens do not afflict employers in other industrialized nations. Per OECD 2017 figures, these nations pay less for healthcare yet enjoy broader coverage with better outcomes. While the US spends $10,209 per capita for healthcare, most other countries spend half that: For example: Israel- $2,834; Italy- $3,542; Canada- $4826; UK-$4246; Netherlands-$5386. All these nations spend less but get more. 

US overspending on healthcare does more than just increase business expenses. It drains resources from other social spending vital to a healthy economy: education, energy research, and infrastructure. Inadequate spending on these services cripples our international competitiveness. 

Whether these industrialized nations choose a single payer or a multi-payer plan, their national universal care plans share these characteristics: 

  • Everyone participates in a mandated healthcare plan. Individuals, not employers, are responsible for complying with this mandate. 
  • Every healthcare policy offers identical, comprehensive benefits. And “comprehensive” means “treatable conditions receive treatment,” not “unlimited.”
  • Patients, not employers or insurers, choose providers. And provider payment reflects the value of service, not insurance coverage. 

By using this efficient combination of single risk pool, single benefit schedule, and single network, single payer plans generate enormous administrative savings. 

How much savings? American businesses and workers pay over $1 trillion annually in administration, about 31% of all healthcare spending, nearly three times higher than international competitors. Insurance billing in these countries is as simple as the swipe of a healthcare card. 

What does our extravagant administrative spending pay for? Not for healthcare. Each year, American health insurance administrators process four billion claims. But there’s more: Physicians spend $82,000 annually to collect payment from insurance companies. And employers pay for additional HR personnel dedicated to managing increasingly complicated healthcare benefit plans.  

 In contrast, the simplified billing of single payer would cut American administrative costs by at least half. These recovered administrative savings are more than enough to cover the uninsured and expand benefits for all employees. 

 Single payer plans address the five healthcare goals that employers want most. 

Competing healthcare proposals (e.g. medical savings accounts, high risk pools, public options, Medicare by-ins and Medicaid by-ins) must demonstrate that they adequately address these goals to be credible. So far, none have. 

For employers seeking a more functional healthcare system, one that allows them to concentrate on core business and compete internationally, single payer remains the gold standard. 

Samuel Metz MD And Jack Bernard

Samuel Metz MD And Jack Bernard

Samuel Metz, MD (retired) is a member of Oregon Physicians for a National Health Program. He was a member of the Oregon legislature’s “Universal Access to Health Care” work group and the Oregon Medical Association’s “Health Care Access and Financing” task force.

Jack Bernard is a retired SVP for a national healthcare corporation and has mentored hundreds of small business with SCORE.

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NC Medicaid Expansion – Only A First Step https://likethedew.com/2019/08/07/nc-medicaid-expansion-only-a-first-step/ https://likethedew.com/2019/08/07/nc-medicaid-expansion-only-a-first-step/#respond Wed, 07 Aug 2019 19:44:52 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=71697 “For every $1 increase in taxes, we're talking about more savings through getting rid of premiums, copays, and deductibles. So overall people would do better, and more importantly they would never need to worry about not getting the care that they need." -Adam Gaffney, MD (President, Physicians for a National Health Plan, on Medicare for All)

The Governor of North Carolina is working hard to get Medicaid expansion approved. And, his efforts should be commended: 40,000 good paying new jobs and an additional half million state residents with insurance, which will also have a positive effect on financially hard pressed NC hospitals which are now writing off medically uninsured as bad debt.

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“For every $1 increase in taxes, we’re talking about more savings through getting rid of premiums, copays, and deductibles. So overall people would do better, and more importantly they would never need to worry about not getting the care that they need.”  – Adam Gaffney, MD (President, Physicians for a National Health Plan, on Medicare for All)

NC map with stethoscopeThe Governor of North Carolina is working hard to get Medicaid expansion approved. And, his efforts should be commended: 40,000 good paying new jobs and an additional half million state residents with insurance, which will also have a positive effect on financially hard pressed NC hospitals which are now writing off medically uninsured as bad debt.

However, Medicaid expansion only a stop gap measure. As someone with an extensive health policy background who has researched and written about the topic in newspapers around the nation, I agree 100% with Dr. Gaffney regarding Medicare for All. Single payer is not only a moral imperative and completely feasible, it is the only way to control our nation’s runaway health expenditures.

I’m a confirmed capitalist. I’ve been a VP or SVP for several large for-profit healthcare firms. Generally, private enterprise is more efficient than government.

However, the exception to the rule is healthcare financing. Medicare’s overhead is 2% versus 12% for the for-profit insurance companies.

Repeated OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) analyses illustrate that we pay much more per capita than any other affluent democracy for healthcare… each year, every year. For example, France is considered to have the best healthcare system in the world while we are 37th (WHO, 2000). Yet, France’s 2017 per capita expenditures were $4902.  Our per capita health expenditures were $10,209…over double theirs

And it’s not just France; all developed nations have greater involvement of government in their healthcare financing systems versus here and all cover 100% of their citizens at a much lower per capita cost than here. For example, here are per capita costs for other democracies: Israel-$2833; New Zealand- $3,682; Australia- $4543; Canada- $4826; and Denmark- $5182. 

Part of the reason for the difference in cost is our emphasis on private insurance companies. Clearly, single payer is the ultimate solution… but is opposed by the massive and influential healthcare industrial complex for obvious self-interested reasons. Therefore, insurance companies and drug companies…assisted by the outrageous SCOTUS decision in Citizens United permitting “dark money” …are spending tens of millions to prevent Medicare for All, which would cut their obscene profits as well as ridiculous executive compensation. 

One of the fallacies these companies and their lobbyists perpetuate is that we are more expensive due to better quality here. Yet, healthcare outcomes in the USA (as measured by mortality and morbidity statistics) are worse than other democracies. 

A recent study analyzed quality, access, efficiency, equity, general health among 7 developed nations (US, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, Australia, UK and the Netherlands). We ranked last (Commonwealth Fund, 2010).

Yes, this is partially due to our unique American life style (lots of guns, fast cars, etc.). But a large part of the difference is because many of our states have high proportions of uninsured. They are getting inferior care, causing unnecessary death and disease.

For example, our maternal deaths are much higher than other advanced nations (ProPublica, 5-12-17). Per the ProPublica study, “60 percent of such deaths were preventable”.

Infant deaths are another example of poor outcomes here versus every other advanced nation. Our national rate of death per 1000 live births is 5.8, as opposed to much lower rates in other democracies: Israel- 3.0; Italy- 3.0; France-3.5; UK-3.8. (World Bank data, 2015) 

Rates vary among states. Per the CDC (2017), North Carolina has a 9/1000 live births infant mortality rate.  Our rate is worse than Uruguay, Lebanon, Romania, Bulgaria, Chile, Albania and so on.

National infant mortality rates here vary widely by race/ethnicity: Non-Hispanic black: 11.4; Hispanics:5.0 and Non-Hispanic white: 4.9. To give you a reference point, the deaths per thousand for Black infants in the USA is worse than Turkey, Peru, Libya, Thailand and so forth.

How the most religious democracy in the world (Pew, 7-31-18) can justify letting its citizens go without needed care is beyond reasoning. Helping the unfortunate is supposed to be a basis of Judeo-Christian doctrine. How can we as a nation be content and just ignore this level of hypocrisy?

Single payer is not only right morally, it’s right from an efficiency and quality standpoint. However, it will not happen unless two things occur: a. the Democratic Party presents a unified block in supporting true Medicare for All (as the debates showed, they are not yet there) and b. what’s left of the GOP moderates in Congress finally have the courage to do what is right versus playing to their base (an even tougher fight). Our citizenry must pressure both parties now, not later.

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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Different Year, Same … Stuff https://likethedew.com/2019/08/03/different-year-same-stuff/ https://likethedew.com/2019/08/03/different-year-same-stuff/#respond Sat, 03 Aug 2019 19:49:34 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=71704 The Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution says, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” (ratified 1870)

Eighty-eight years later the Atlanta Constitution reported (February 20, 1958) on a Georgia General Assembly session devoted to exactly that. 

The parliamentary maneuvering pitted allies of arch-segregationist Gov. Marvin Griffin against loyalists of more “moderate” Lt. Gov. Ernest Vandiver. Griffin’s Floor Leader, W. Colbert Hawkins, tried to revive the governor’s previously defeated proposal for a $1 poll tax by attaching it to a Vandiver bill. By adopting his amendment, Hawkins confidently asserted, “You will have done something for this bill and you will have done something for the counties of Georgia that have a problem with Negro registration.” 

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The Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution says, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” (ratified 1870)

Eighty-eight years later the Atlanta Constitution reported (February 20, 1958) on a Georgia General Assembly session devoted to exactly that. 

Grunge Georgia state flag. Georgia flag brush stroke.The parliamentary maneuvering pitted allies of arch-segregationist Gov. Marvin Griffin against loyalists of more “moderate” Lt. Gov. Ernest Vandiver. Griffin’s Floor Leader, W. Colbert Hawkins, tried to revive the governor’s previously defeated proposal for a $1 poll tax by attaching it to a Vandiver bill. By adopting his amendment, Hawkins confidently asserted, “You will have done something for this bill and you will have done something for the counties of Georgia that have a problem with Negro registration.” 

 While the amendment was crushed, Vandiver’s more “moderate” bill was no less aimed, as the Constitution reported, at “curbing the Negro vote.” What passed for moderation was a measure requiring any aspiring voter who couldn’t read and write a section of the Constitution to pass a “difficult” thirty-question test.

Lest all this moderation give the wrong impression, Rep. Frank Twitty, a Vandiver ally, assured the members that Vandiver was stout on securing the franchise for whites. I can’t improve on the newspaper’s unadorned account of the debate: 

“’There has been some misapprehension on how the lieutenant governor and his friends stand on voter registration,’ Twitty said. 

“But Twitty said he did not ‘believe in taxing a man’s right to vote.’ He said repeal of the poll tax had been a good thing for the state.

“’Let’s tighten voter qualifications, but let’s not put a tax on a man’s right to vote,’ he said. 

“He said the [Vandiver] bill would give local registrars the ‘weapon’ they need to combat ‘insidious organizations’ such as the NAACP by keeping off the registration rolls those ‘who ought not to be there.’

“’Let’s give the local registrars the weapons they need to preserve the Southern way of life as we know it in Georgia,’ Twitty said.

“Rep. Raymond M. Reed…warned that the NAACP would ‘school’ Negroes to enable them to pass the 30-question test proposed by the bill. 

“’But who is going to school the poor white people who can’t pass the test?’ Reed asked. ‘If you want to play into the hands of the NAACP, this test will do it.’

“Rep. William M. Campbell…warned that measures such as the voting bill would ‘drive the Negroes into the NAACP.’ 

“’We haven’t got the Negro problem in our county that some of you have,’ Campbell said. ‘We control them and we don’t have to come to the Legislature and ask for help to do it.’”

Now fast forward to 2014 when Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp was running for reelection. That summer, the “Negro problem” hung in the air like humidity and gnats, as Kemp warned a Republican gathering that, “Democrats are working hard, and all these stories about them, you know, registering all these minority voters that are out there…, if they can do that, they can win these elections in November.” 

And when Kemp ran for governor in 2018, the “Negro problem” was exponentially more urgent because his opponent was an African-American, Stacey Abrams. Once again, he clumsily warned supporters: “And as worried as we were going into the start of early voting was the literally tens of millions of dollars that [the Abrams camp] are putting behind the get-out-the-vote effort to their base. A lot of that was absentee ballot requests. They have just an unprecedented number of that…which is something that continues to concern us, especially if everybody uses and exercises their right to vote….” 

Since the greatest threat to Kemp’s political ambitions was maximum voter participation, he did everything he could, from his perch as Secretary of State, to obstruct voter participation, resorting to measures that burdened African-Americans disproportionately. 

Meanwhile the Trump administration had been scheming since Trump’s election in 2016 to include in the 2020 Census an item asking respondents whether they’re U. S. citizens. By a freakish turn of events, we learned that the citizenship question was the brainchild of Thomas Hofeller, a Republican operative who was, until his death in August of 2018, a master of partisan gerrymandering. Without getting into the eye-glazing details, according to a December 14, 2019, federal court filing, he’d figured out that adding a citizenship question to the Census would allow states to apportion Congressional and state legislative representation in a way that would advantage “Republicans and Non-Hispanic whites.”  

Poll taxes and literacy tests were already on life support in 1958, the former outlawed by constitutional amendment in 1964 and literacy tests by Congress a year later. While I shudder to think what extra-legislative methods for “controlling the Negroes” Rep. Campbell was darkly alluding to, the bitter reality is that he turned out to be on the side of history. The methods are more subtle, inventive and ingenious now than whatever he favored, but they stand in an unbroken line of “Negro-control” measures and institutions reaching much farther back than 1958. 

Nor should anyone suppose that episodes like the citizenship question fiasco are just routine elections-have-consequences developments. The plaintiffs’ brief in the citizenship case had it right when it described Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s sponsorship of the citizenship question, not as merely discriminatory, but as driven by “discriminatory animus.” At the most rarified levels of the federal government, it’s still Georgia in 1958.

During the early years of the Republic, Americans thought of themselves as a forward-looking people eager to seize the future. It’s our continuing national tragedy that our native optimism has so often been betrayed by those among us who’d rather reenact ancient hatreds than enlist in great projects and enterprises aimed at our common flourishing. 

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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Melania’s letter to me https://likethedew.com/2019/08/02/melanias-letter-to-me/ https://likethedew.com/2019/08/02/melanias-letter-to-me/#respond Fri, 02 Aug 2019 10:36:06 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=71710 Melania and I have never been very close. I mean, I really liked her pictures in GQ and the NY Daily News. Her skimpy outfits are quite appealing. But we were never formally introduced and never really spoke. But recently all that changed.

Melania reached out to me via a personal letter because she states that Donald and I are “friends.” She even sent me a check for $45. All I had to do was send her one back. She “urged” me to send “$5,000 or more.” What?

I looked hard at her correspondence to determine where in Nigeria I was to send the money and if a Prince was involved. Surprisingly, I was asked to send the funds to the Republican National Committee (RNC) right here in the good old USA.

Melania told me why it was urgent that I send the money: “to prevent that travesty” (i.e. “Socialist programs” by the Democrats). But I have some real questions about her letter before I do. Here are her statements about her “Donald” (as she calls him in her letter) and the situation as she sees it, along with my questions:

Melania: Donald’s “resolving the issues facing our nation” and “accomplished so much.”

My Question: Which issues are resolved? It certainly seems like we have the same domestic and foreign problems we had before he arrived in DC… and then some. The Middle East is an even worse mess with Iran back to building a nuclear bomb. China is still eating our lunch economically. Korea hasn’t disarmed. Our infrastructure is falling apart. Social Security and Medicare are running out of money. The military budget goes up every year, as does the national debt which has reached record levels under this administration. Despite Donald’s rhetoric, there are even more illegal immigrants than prior years.

Plus, now we have Nazis marching in our cities and hate crimes are up dramatically. And, both parties have increased their name calling rather than working together (the only exception being that they have agreed to spend money we don’t have).

Melania: “unnecessary government regulations are eliminated”

My Question: Do you mean the regulations on the fossil fuels that are polluting our air and water? Or are you referring to the fuel efficiency standards that were helping cars and trucks to double their miles per gallon by 2025? I know that deregulation helps your contributors like the Koch brothers, but how does that help my grandkids with asthma and the increasing number of people with COPD and cancer caused by pollution?

Melania: “the mainstream media…pursue their strategy of deception and misinformation”

My Question: Is it the media that is reporting fake news or is the administration lying to the public? The venerable Washington Post has documented that between 1-20-17 and 4-27-19 your Donald has told over 10,000 lies. There are dozens upon dozens of documented cases of Donald telling major falsehoods negatively affecting our nation both at home and internationally. We are a laughing stock among both our allies and our enemies.

Melania: If Democrats “capture total control of our government” they will “enact their Socialist programs” and “radical agenda”

My Question: Are you referring to socialist programs like increased funding for or expansion of Medicare and Social Security? Or are you referring to our public education system? The GOP has at various times described both as radical and socialist.

Melania: “our country’s military is being rebuilt” by Donald.

My Question: When did our military, the envy of the world, suddenly fall apart? Its budget is as large as the next 10 nations combined. According to the Nation (5-7-19), our total military spending is now $1.2542 trillion (including war, VA, nuclear, defense, Homeland Security and other components.) When is it enough?

Melania: contributions are needed so Donald “can withstand the non-stop brutal assaults” from “Democrats, the mainstream media, ultra-liberal special interest groups and other radical factions”

My Question: Aren’t the brutal assaults coming from Donald who said about four American Congresswomen “if they don’t like it (America), let them leave?”Isn’t Donald the one who equated Nazis with peaceful counter protestors in Charlottesville? Isn’t he the one who calls his enemies denigrating, insulting names? Obama never said Donald came from Kenya or asked to see his birth certificate and college grades.

Melania: “everything… is on the line in the upcoming elections”

Wow, Melania, I really don’t have a question about your last statement; you’re completely correct for a change. The 2020 election will determine if we will continue to move toward our own unique form of home-grown populist fascism… or if the American public will come to its senses and vote out a budding dictator who doesn’t believe in democracy or American values.

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 immoral silence to the destructive xenophobia of “Just Leave” https://likethedew.com/2019/07/19/the-immoral-silence-to-the-destructive-xenophobia-of-just-leave/ https://likethedew.com/2019/07/19/the-immoral-silence-to-the-destructive-xenophobia-of-just-leave/#respond Fri, 19 Jul 2019 13:35:12 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=71619

Donald Trump tweets “why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came” and doubles-down by then accusing four sitting members of Congress of hating America (referring to Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, NY; Ilhan Omar, MN; Rashida Tlaib, MI; and Ayanna S. Pressley, MA). Only one of the four, Omar, was born outside the US, and was a refugee fleeing war in Somalia.  

“Just leave” is a dog-whistle for white nationalism. Research shows that supporters and opponents of Donald Trump respond differently to racial cues. Simply put: Trump intentionally and incessantly works to make white people angry at minorities, his divisiveness is working. Hate crimes in the U.S. are up, especially in pro-Trump areas and places where he held rallies. His divisive rhetoric was a motivating force for mosque attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand and other hate crimes here and abroad, as cited by the attackers themselves in most cases. A bigoted bully his entire career, openly and unapologetically racist for decades, it is dishonest to pretend there is a debate; then there is the dishonesty of silence.

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Donald Trump tweets “why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came” and doubles-down by then accusing four sitting members of Congress of hating America (referring to Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, NY; Ilhan Omar, MN; Rashida Tlaib, MI; and Ayanna S. Pressley, MA). Only one of the four, Omar, was born outside the US, and was a refugee fleeing war in Somalia.  

Donald Trump - Caricature by DonkeyHotey“Just leave” is a dog-whistle for white nationalism. Research shows that supporters and opponents of Donald Trump respond differently to racial cues. Simply put: Trump intentionally and incessantly works to make white people angry at minorities, his divisiveness is working. Hate crimes in the U.S. are up, especially in pro-Trump areas and places where he held rallies. His divisive rhetoric was a motivating force for mosque attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand and other hate crimes here and abroad, as cited by the attackers themselves in most cases. A bigoted bully his entire career, openly and unapologetically racist for decades, it is dishonest to pretend there is a debate; then there is the dishonesty of silence.

The breadth of silence of silence from the Republican party (and his rise in Republican voter support shown in subsequent polls) showcases the tacit support of the insinuation that people of color are foreigners. Either Trump speaks for American conservatives or their cowardice is too great to mount any opposition. Minority House Leader Kevin McCarthy stands by Trump’s side and nods approvingly with Trump’s messages that minorities are a threat to American safety, values, and people of color do not belong. Majority Senate leader Mitch McConnell, a descendant of slave owners (census records show two of his great-great-grandfathers owned more than a dozen slaves) pretends to be the statesman and tells everyone to calm down, as if Trump should be permitted to engage in all the cruelty and bullying that suits him.

Since the 1780’s the great American Melting-Pot has been an important metaphor. It was used to articulate the blending of different cultures, ethnicity, and nationalities into a single American identity. The logical extension of a true support for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness combined with the acknowledgement of “created equal” that is perhaps best expressed E pluribus Unum—out of many, one—our national motto. 

These time-honored values are not defended by those who truly need to model them, as history shows. In Rwanda, leading to the 1994 genocide, the Hutus failed to defend Tutsis when bigoted leadership called them “cockroaches.” German non-Jews failed to stand up to Hitler as he ramped up in the early 1930s with actions not dissimilar to Trump right now. This is comparable to McCarthy and McConnell failing to correct Trump’s anti-brown bigotry. 

It is not easy to push back against bigotry. In McCarthy’s Bakersfield, CA, where I’m from, I remember the lesson well. In high school in the 90’s “just joking” racism bought me acceptance, and speaking out against pejorative slurs earned me the recognition of “race traitor.” I can tell you every time I spoke out it made a difference, and I slept at night. Even if you didn’t speak out about the “very fine people” neo-Nazis in Charlottesville (Trump’s approving words), you can say something about the concentration camps at the Mexican border; you can defend the Americans being told to leave, we need to be united on 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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Applying The Lessons Of Hurricane Pam To Climate Change https://likethedew.com/2019/07/18/applying-the-lessons-of-hurricane-pam-to-climate-change/ https://likethedew.com/2019/07/18/applying-the-lessons-of-hurricane-pam-to-climate-change/#respond Thu, 18 Jul 2019 21:45:38 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=71602

Ever heard of Hurricane Pam? It hit New Orleans in July of 2004. The Category 3 storm made a direct hit on the Crescent City, destroying half-a-million homes, displacing a million residents, and killing an estimated 25,000 to 100,000 citizens.

By now you’re probably wondering what’s up. Hurricane “Pam” was actually a simulation of what would happen if New Orleans received a direct hit from a Category 3 storm. A host of government agencies found that such a catastrophe was the worst natural disaster that could hit the USA, topping both a St. Louis and San Francisco earthquake in terms of casualties.

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Ever heard of Hurricane Pam? It hit New Orleans in July of 2004. The Category 3 storm made a direct hit on the Crescent City, destroying half-a-million homes, displacing a million residents, and killing an estimated 25,000 to 100,000 citizens.

By now you’re probably wondering what’s up. Hurricane “Pam” was actually a simulation of what would happen if New Orleans received a direct hit from a Category 3 storm. A host of government agencies found that such a catastrophe was the worst natural disaster that could hit the USA, topping both a St. Louis and San Francisco earthquake in terms of casualties.

The Department of Homeland Security read the findings…and did little, if anything. They praised themselves for handling everything well, and learning during the process. Yet a year later, Hurricane Katrina blasted through the Gulf of Mexico, slamming well to the East in Pass Christian, Mississippi. New Orleans didn’t even get a direct hit. The failure of the levees was a human-made disaster. And clearly FEMA wasn’t ready for something that was just a fraction of what Hurricane Pam could do.

President George W. Bush and Homeland Security Michael Chertoff claimed that nobody could have anticipated the results of Hurricane Katrina. But their own government did, and did little about it, which explains the awful response.

We’re about to make the same mistake on climate change.

Every year, more than a dozen government agencies put together the National Climate Assessment, which explains what could happen with climate change, including its worst effects. But the government has recently repeated its error on Hurricane Pam, preventing the National Climate Assessment scientists from reporting its findings on scenarios.

For example, the Department of Agriculture was unable to assess how changes in the weather could hamper farming in the United States of America. As a local farmer’s bumper sticker reads “No Farms, No Food.”

As they did in 2004, the scientists provided the answers on the natural world. But it’s our government appointees who are replacing these assessments with their own opinions.

It’s not just Democrats and Independents who recognize the danger of climate change. “Nearly 8-in-10 Americans (78%) believe the world’s climate is undergoing a change that is causing more extreme weather patterns and sea level rise, up from 70% in December 2015,” writes Monmouth University’s pollsters. “Of note, nearly two-thirds of Republicans (64%) now believe in climate change, a 15 point jump from just under half (49%) three years ago.”

The poor handling of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 helped bring about the Democratic Party takeover of Congress in 2006, and a change in the presidency in 2008. Unless the administration takes these reports seriously, they won’t be around long enough to keep them under wraps.

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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NRA: anti-gun control myths and Alabama https://likethedew.com/2019/07/18/nra-anti-gun-control-myths-and-alabama/ https://likethedew.com/2019/07/18/nra-anti-gun-control-myths-and-alabama/#respond Thu, 18 Jul 2019 12:58:05 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=71608 “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” – 12-2012, NRA EVP Wayne LaPierre after Newtown massacre.

When you read this newspaper, it seems that there is always a shooting in Birmingham or nearby. Murders by guns per capita for Alabama are the second highest (22/100,000) in the USA … 10 times higher than Hawaii, a state with tough gun control. Alabama’s gun laws are also among the loosest in the nation.

Contrary to what Mr. LaPierre states, every “good guy” having a gun is not the solution, as Alabama illustrates. Why then isn’t the Alabama state legislature pushing for greater gun control? The NRA (and its lobbyist’s money) is the answer.

Way back when, the NRA was an OK organization teaching city folks (and kids like me) how to safely handle firearms. But that changed. The NRA is now an extremist group, opposed to any and all regulation of firearms and constantly preaching against the “gun grabbers.”

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“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” – 12-2012, NRA EVP Wayne LaPierre after Newtown massacre.

 

When you read this newspaper, it seems that there is always a shooting in Birmingham or nearby. Murders by guns per capita for Alabama are the second highest (22/100,000) in the USA … 10 times higher than Hawaii, a state with tough gun control. Alabama’s gun laws are also among the loosest in the nation.

Contrary to what Mr. LaPierre states, every “good guy” having a gun is not the solution, as Alabama illustrates. Why then isn’t the Alabama state legislature pushing for greater gun control? The NRA (and its lobbyist’s money) is the answer.

Way back when, the NRA was an OK organization teaching city folks (and kids like me) how to safely handle firearms. But that changed. The NRA is now an extremist group, opposed to any and all regulation of firearms and constantly preaching against the “gun grabbers.”

Wayne LaPierre all gunned up in front of the Alabama State CapitolAs a long-time gun owner, I’m aware of the NRA’s positions. In their own words, here’s how they mislead American gun owners:

 

Statement 1: “Banning guns from law-abiding Americans based on the criminal act of a madman will do nothing to prevent future attacks.” (NRA statement after Las Vegas massacre)

Facts: Loose background checks and loopholes, such as the ridiculous gun show exception, permit madmen to easily obtain weapons. There were armed law enforcement officers on the scene in Las Vegas who could not prevent the murders.

 

Statement 2: The NRA Institute’s goal is “preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

Facts: The Constitution reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The Second Amendment doesn’t mention individuals. Until a 5-4 case in 2008, the Supreme Court had interpreted it to mean state militias could have weapons. 

 

Statement 3: “Nobody knows if or when the fiscal collapse will come, but if the country is broke, there likely won’t be enough money to pay for police protection…We, the American people, clearly see the daunting forces we will undoubtedly face: terrorists, crime, drug gangs, the possibility of Euro-style debt riots, civil unrest or natural disaster.” (Wayne Lapierre, 02-2013)

Facts: We are a Constitutional Republic governed by laws made by elected representatives. We have survived many financial collapses, Prohibition and a Civil War. There’s no reason to believe the NRA/survivalist narrative that our society and civilization are suddenly now on the verge of collapse.

 

Statement 4: “If so-called gun-free zones supposedly save lives, why doesn’t Obama simply declare Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan to be one big, happy, gun-free zone?” (NRA CPAC 2015 speech)

Facts: We are not a Middle Eastern nation with a long history of extreme instability. Every other democracy in the world has greater gun control than in the USA. All have much lower per capita gun deaths.

 

Statement 5: “Their laws don’t stop the scourge of gang violence and drug crime that savages Baltimore, Chicago and every major American community.” (NRA at CPAC, 02-2018, after Parkland)

Facts: States with stronger guns laws have fewer gun deaths per capita than those with loose laws. The worst half dozen (AK, AL, MT, LA, MO, MS) all have very loose gun laws. The least deaths are found in states with tough gun control laws (HI, MA, NY, RI, CT, NJ).

 

Statement 6: “But what if, when Adam Lanza started shooting his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School last Friday, he had been confronted by qualified, armed security?” (12-2012, Wayne LaPierre, CPAC)

Facts: Since this statement was made in 2012, we have numerous mass shootings where armed guards were present, and many people still died. The best known is Las Vegas where a single shooter with a military type weapon killed 58 and wounded 422 innocents.

 

Statement 7: We can’t lose precious time debating legislation that won’t work. (12-2012, Wayne LaPierre, CPAC)

Facts: Politicians stating that “you’re in our thoughts and prayers” has not stopped any mass shooting ever. Only legislation will help, as shown above (statements 4 and 5).

 

What can Alabama voters do? Vote against any state or federal politician who receives an endorsement or “A” rating from the NRA. We need change and that’s the only way to get it.

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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Donald’s and Ivanka’s Talk https://likethedew.com/2019/07/12/donalds-and-ivankas-talk/ https://likethedew.com/2019/07/12/donalds-and-ivankas-talk/#respond Fri, 12 Jul 2019 12:13:17 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=71573 “I don’t know of anyone in his inner circle who can say to him: ‘Mr. President, when it comes to civil rights and race issues, let me give you some hindsight, some insight, and some foresight on these issues”’ ~ X-Rep. JC Watts (R-Ok, NBC, 8-20)

Rep. Watts, I believe that there is someone who has tried to get through to him. I don’t have an actual recording of the conversation that Ivanka and her Dad had after Trump’s remarks on the Charlottesville tragedy, but I am sure that it went something like this:

Donald: Did you see the news, Ivanka? They are criticizing me again for just saying that both sides share the blame. Fake News!

Ivanka: Yes, Dad. But, I am not sure you are totally on solid ground here.

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“I don’t know of anyone in his inner circle who can say to him: ‘Mr. President, when it comes to civil rights and race issues, let me give you some hindsight, some insight, and some foresight on these issues”’ ~ X-Rep. JC Watts (R-Ok, NBC, 8-20)

Rep. Watts, I believe that there is someone who has tried to get through to him. I don’t have an actual recording of the conversation that Ivanka and her Dad had after Trump’s remarks on the Charlottesville tragedy, but I am sure that it went something like this:

caricatures of Ivanka and Donald were created by DonkeyHoteyDonald: Did you see the news, Ivanka? They are criticizing me again for just saying that both sides share the blame. Fake News!

Ivanka: Yes, Dad. But, I am not sure you are totally on solid ground here.

Donald: Didn’t you see those lefties who were attacking those poor guys who just wanted to preserve their monuments and their history? It’s huge!

Ivanka: Dad, the rally was held by the Nazis, the KKK, and white supremacists. They just used the Confederate monuments as an excuse to be there. And, they deliberately chose a liberal college town close to DC and NYC so they would get lots of publicity. They were just looking for trouble and almost all the violence was on the part of the racists.

Donald: Those KKK people were there, but there were many good people with them. Many!

Ivanka: Dad, why would good people be marching with violent racists?

Donald: And, there were bad people on the other side, the alt-left.

Ivanka: Pop, where did you get that word? There is no “alt-left. The Black Panthers and the Weatherman disappeared 40 years ago. The “alt-left” is just a made up term to try to show a nonexistent false equivalence between white supremacists and those standing against racism.

Donald: What about those Black Lives Matters (BLM) people and the shootings of police officers?

Ivanka: Pop, come on, don’t you know BLM supporters are not black supremacists? They are just normal folks who want to make sure that the police don’t shoot defenseless black people like we have seen on the videos. And, BLM does not advocate shooting police. I just do not see how you can equate them with white supremacists who obviously have a long and proven history of horrible violence.

Donald: Wrong! I was watching Fox News and there were many instances of violent black people on the news. It’s true, I saw it! I mean, I understand it because those people are all poor and weren’t raised like you and me. And, you know, they are not that smart. I’m not prejudiced. It’s not their fault, it’s genetic. They are better at sports than we are.

Ivanka: Dad, you are wrong and please don’t say these ignorant, bigoted things to me. There are violent people of all races, and separatist Black groups here and there, Dad. But performing violent acts in the name of racial purity is something that historically is concentrated in the white supremacist movement. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) documents thousands of cases of violence against people due to race, religion, and sexual orientation. Attacks on Jews and Muslims have escalated tremendously since you’ve been in office and I am concerned. Aren’t you?

Donald: Have you been listening to the Fake News again? You have to learn to ignore anything that you see on TV news unless it is on Fox, the only honest network. Man, I hate that Ailes passed, Roger was a really good guy who liked women just like I do. Anyway, those people control what you hear and see on television, except on Fox.

Ivanka: Wait, what people, father? Jews?

Donald: I never said that, but I have heard that many times. Anyway, your husband is one of the good ones, not like that leaker Gary Cohn who criticized my Charlottesville remarks when I was just being fair and balanced.

Ivanka: Father, remember, I converted. You’re talking about me and your grandchildren.

Donald: Yeah, so, what’s the problem? Now, your one of the good ones too! Not like that Schumer. He’s a real Jew, clannish, just like all those people.

Ivanka: Pop, when you say things like that, someone might get the wrong impression and think that you are hopelessly bigoted.

Donald: Me? No way. I employ lots of Jewish lawyers, they’re shrewd and not overly honest. And that Steve Miller, he really is one of the good ones. He says whatever I tell him to as long as I pay him enough.

Ivanka: Dad, my Rabbi tells me that people who ignore and excuse bigotry are just as bad as those who practice it, maybe even worse.

Donald Forget about it. You just can’t believe those people. I really don’t know what they have done to you, Ivanka!

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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Glad Some Republicans Oppose Campaign Dirt By Foreign Governments https://likethedew.com/2019/07/11/glad-some-republicans-oppose-campaign-dirt-by-foreign-governments/ https://likethedew.com/2019/07/11/glad-some-republicans-oppose-campaign-dirt-by-foreign-governments/#respond Thu, 11 Jul 2019 14:35:22 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=71562

In an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopolous, Donald Trump said he didn’t feel that he would have to contact the FBI if a foreign government offered him campaign dirt on whoever he faces in 2020, and overruled his own FBI Director who said that Donald Trump Jr. should’ve contacted the FBI when he was contacted by the Russians with an offer of campaign dirt.

“There’s nothing wrong with listening.  If someone called from a country – Norway -- we have information on your opponent.  Oh, I think I’d want to hear it,” Trump said, according to Politico.

The Republican Party was split on the issue.  GOP Congressman Chris Stewart from the House Intelligence Committee approved taking such information, provided it came from an ally.  It wasn’t specified who Stewart considers an ally.  But as you’ll soon see, it’s wrong anyway.

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In an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopolous, Donald Trump said he didn’t feel that he would have to contact the FBI if a foreign government offered him campaign dirt on whoever he faces in 2020, and overruled his own FBI Director who said that Donald Trump Jr. should’ve contacted the FBI when he was contacted by the Russians with an offer of campaign dirt.

“There’s nothing wrong with listening.  If someone called from a country – Norway — we have information on your opponent.  Oh, I think I’d want to hear it,” Trump said, according to Politico.

Donald Trump - Caricature by DonkeyHotey-cThe Republican Party was split on the issue.  GOP Congressman Chris Stewart from the House Intelligence Committee approved taking such information, provided it came from an ally.  It wasn’t specified who Stewart considers an ally.  But as you’ll soon see, it’s wrong anyway.

Some pivoted to Hillary Clinton, claiming she did the exact same thing.  GPS Fusion hiring a British agent to look into Trump’s dealings with Russians was exactly what the Trump campaign did in hiring Cambridge Analytica out of the U.K. to mine Facebook.  But if Vladimir Putin comes knocking with some KGB stuff, that’s where the real trouble is.

The Federal Election Commissioner provided a “Statement Regarding Illegal Contributions From Foreign Governments.” This foreign interference is something our Founding Fathers expressly forbade, and condemned.

Thankfully, there were some brave Republicans who echoed the FEC Chair to state exactly why such behavior is not what an American President should ever do, according to the Politico story “Republicans lash Trump for being open to foreign oppo..”

“The law is pretty clear. You can’t take anything of value from a foreign government,” Graham said he told Trump. 

“You don’t ever want to take foreign money, that’s illegal. And the next route to money is information,” said Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.). “So if you take information from somebody that’s foreign and it’s involved in your campaign, you’re inviting the risk of inviting foreign money into your campaign.”

Senators James Lankford (R-OK), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Susan Collins (R-ME) also were quoted in the Politico story as condemning receiving foreign opposition research.  “I would not do it and I would encourage everyone else not to do it,” agreed Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.).”  Mitt Romney (R-UT) lent public criticism to the move too.

There are those who seek to penetrate our democratic elections to control our people’s choices, and there are politicians who allow it.  An attempt to protect U.S. elections from foreign interference by unanimous consent was defeated by Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, with his own questionable family foreign ties, is trying to block efforts to secure American elections.

I am sure each Senator who publicly takes a stand against these forces will pay a heavy price politically for his or her courage.  The least I can do is write a column to praise these brave Republicans who put America before their political careers.

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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Celebrating Independence Day https://likethedew.com/2019/07/04/celebrating-independence-day/ https://likethedew.com/2019/07/04/celebrating-independence-day/#respond Thu, 04 Jul 2019 17:32:49 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=71459 The Declaration of Independence, Updated" in honor of our holiday. We took it a step further – here are more Dew stories, which appeared around the 4th of July each year going back to our first 4th in 2009 - a pretty random and eclectic sample of great stories by some truly wonderful writers (apologies to anyone who feels left out). Click on the story title to read more. Enjoy. And please comment.

Click for Page 1 (2018)Page 2 (2017)Page 3 (2016)Page 4 (2015) • Page 5 (2014)Page 6 (2013)Page 7 (2012)Page 8 (2011)Page 9 (2010)Page 10 (2009)


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Alert Dew reader Bob Lamb suggested reposting “The Declaration of Independence, Updated” in honor of our holiday. We took it a step further – here are more Dew stories, which appeared around the 4th of July each year going back to our first 4th in 2009 – a pretty random and eclectic sample of great stories by some truly wonderful writers (apologies to anyone who feels left out). Click on the story title to read more. Enjoy. And please comment.

2018


Click for Page 1 (2018)Page 2 (2017)Page 3 (2016)Page 4 (2015) • Page 5 (2014)Page 6 (2013)Page 7 (2012)Page 8 (2011)Page 9 (2010)Page 10 (2009)


We The People

We The People

All of us. 100%. Those who are here. As one.

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Culture of ignorance on rise in America https://likethedew.com/2019/07/02/culture-of-ignorance-on-rise-in-america/ https://likethedew.com/2019/07/02/culture-of-ignorance-on-rise-in-america/#respond Tue, 02 Jul 2019 15:26:02 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=71450 There’s a reason that a horse wears blinders:  So it won’t get spooked by something weird that’s outside of its vision tunnel.

All across our country, too many people are wearing blinders on an array of issues that is unraveling the fabric of the American way of life. We are ignoring big problems, hoping they’ll just go away.  But they get worse and worse.

Instead of proactively confronting issues from race and gun violence to immigration reform and the decay of our democracy, we keep drinking from the font of ignorance.

Where is the American spirit found in the lean and hungry Greatest Generation that won World War II and capitalized on innovation to thrust our country to become the world’s superpower?  On a couch? Glued to a smartphone screen? 

It’s far past time to stop wallowing in a tribalized, uncivil America and really pull together.  Regardless of whether you’re conservative, independent or liberal, our way of life is at stake.

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There’s a reason that a horse wears blinders:  So it won’t get spooked by something weird that’s outside of its vision tunnel.

The Blinder Cap embroidered with Make America Ignorant AgainAll across our country, too many people are wearing blinders on an array of issues that is unraveling the fabric of the American way of life. We are ignoring big problems, hoping they’ll just go away.  But they get worse and worse.

Instead of proactively confronting issues from race and gun violence to immigration reform and the decay of our democracy, we keep drinking from the font of ignorance.

Where is the American spirit found in the lean and hungry Greatest Generation that won World War II and capitalized on innovation to thrust our country to become the world’s superpower?  On a couch? Glued to a smartphone screen? 

It’s far past time to stop wallowing in a tribalized, uncivil America and really pull together.  Regardless of whether you’re conservative, independent or liberal, our way of life is at stake.

Just over 25 years ago, Time magazine art critic Robert Hughes wrote an incisive book that talked about America as a “collective work of the imagination whose making never ends” until it frays when mutual respect and the sense that we’re all in this together erodes.

Culture of Complaint: The Fraying of America – Oxford American Lectures by Robert HughesIn Culture of Complaint, Hughes observed, “The politics of ideology has for the last twenty years weakened and in some areas broken the traditional American genius for consensus, for getting along by making up practical compromises to meet real social needs.”

Hugues described the dangers of tribalism and intolerance: “In society as in farming, monoculture works poorly.  It exhausts the soil. The social richness of America, so striking to the foreigner, comes from the diversity of its tribes.  It’s capacity for cohesion, for some spirit of common agreement on what is to be done, comes from the willingness of those tribes not to elevate their cultural differences into impassable barriers and ramparts.”

Yet in the last 25 years, Americans have retreated into algorithmic smartphones and idiot boxes that spew what they want to hear.  Look around and see how the culture of complaint described by Hughes has morphed into a culture of ignorance in which major problems are ignored as people live inside personal bubbles of intellectual comfort.  The corrosion is not hard to find:

Immigration. The picture of a drowned father and his child in the Rio Grande River propelled the country’s leaders into a new round of finger-pointing.  America is a country built by immigrants. We should be welcoming people fleeing oppression, not erecting barriers that lead to deaths and incarceration of children.  We’re better than what’s now happening. 

Climate change. You can’t “believe” or “not believe” in science because it uncovers facts and observations about what’s happening so we can engage in devising solutions.  The globe is warming. Climate change is causing a crisis now, not in the distant future. Ignoring the consequences found by science puts everyone in peril. 

Democratic institutions.  Why aren’t more Americans mad that Russia meddled in the 2016 elections?  Simply put, an enemy interfered with our democratic process and we mostly sit on our hands waiting for it to happen again.  And what of President Trump, who may have obstructed justice 11 times as outlined in The Mueller ReportHe makes light of Russia’s role in a fresh comment to his buddy, Russian President Vladimir Putin. People should be mad, not cozy.

Race.  More than 150 years after a war that split America, the country still hasn’t grappled with race in our culture and daily lives.  We’ve got to get beyond skin color and remember that everyone in America bleeds red, not white, brown, black or tan.

Gun violence. Too many people continue to be killed because of the proliferation of guns in America.  We’ve become inured to mass shootings, a sad commentary on the state of the country. Instead of continuing to dither, people need to demand action.  If lazy politicians don’t answer, vote them out.

Americans aren’t listening to each other.  If we want to thwart the continued fraying of America and subdue the ignorance that’s corroding our institutions, we’ve got to unclog our ears and work collaboratively in good faith to attack the rot.

Andy Brack

Andy Brack

Andy Brack is a syndicated columnist in South Carolina and the publisher of Statehouse Report. Brack, who holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, also publishes a weekly newsletter about good news in the Charleston area, Charleston Currents. A former U.S. Senate press secretary, Brack has a national reputation as a communications strategist and Internet pioneer. Brack, who received a bachelor’s degree from Duke University, lives in Charleston, S.C. with his daughters, a dog and a badass cat.

Brack’s new book, “We Can Do Better, South Carolina,” is now available in paperback via Amazon.

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Whither the Future? https://likethedew.com/2019/07/02/whither-the-future/ https://likethedew.com/2019/07/02/whither-the-future/#respond Tue, 02 Jul 2019 13:42:13 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=71410 always been going to hell, and every generation has always blamed the ones after it. Still, I have to wonder about the younger generations’ intelligence…or maybe just that they weren’t paying attention in school. A recent example: When John Glenn died, we were talking about him in the office. A Millennial – a college-educated Millennial – asked, “John Glenn? Who’s that?”]]> The world is going to hell, and it’s the younger generations’ fault. That apostrophe was correctly placed: there have been several generations since mine – the Baby Boomers, aka the Obnoxiousest Generation – and I include all of them here … Gen X, Millennials, and now Gen Z – the post-Millennials.

I’m not serious, of course. It’s not really their fault. The world has always been going to hell, and every generation has always blamed the ones after it.

FaceTime as anticipated in the 1920sStill, I have to wonder about the younger generations’ intelligence…or maybe just that they weren’t paying attention in school. A recent example:

When John Glenn died, we were talking about him in the office. A Millennial – a college-educated Millennial – asked, “John Glenn? Who’s that?”

Who is John Glenn? Really? Trying to keep steam from shooting from my ears, I said, “I’ll give you a hint … he was an astronaut.”

“Oh, yeah, now I remember … he was the first one to walk on the moon.”

Right you are, young man. And Neil Armstrong was the first to fly solo across the Atlantic.

On the other hand, a lot of Gen X’ers and Millennials are more socially, politically, and environmentally aware and involved than us Baby Boomers were at their age. We were the beneficiaries of the post-World War II age of super-consumerism, and we took advantage of all of it. PF Flyers, the tennis shoes that helped you run faster and jump higher. Schwinn Sting-Ray banana-seat bicycles, with the super-cool gearshift strategically placed right at the point where, if you slipped off the seat, there was some question about whether you’d be able to father children in a couple of decades. If you catch my drift. And helmets? We didn’t need no stinkin’ helmets. Helmets were for sissies. (Also kids from the future, since they hadn’t been invented yet.)

And plastic. God, did we go through some plastic, especially toys: everything was made of plastic. G. I. Joes and Barbies and all their stuff. Little plastic army men. Little plastic tea sets. Cardboard board games, yes, but the playing pieces – plastic. And remember the “Thingmaker?” This was a “toy” that heated up to a temperature slightly higher than the surface of the sun, and you put a metal mold in it, poured some liquid plastic/rubber goop into the mold, let it bake, and in just a few minutes … you had made your own brand-new (plastic) toy. And possibly a trip to the emergency room with third-degree burns.

Speaking of that, whose brilliant idea was it to create and market to children … the wood-burning kit? Pretty much guaranteed to catch something on fire … drapes, carpets, human flesh.

At least the toymakers were wise enough to put a minimum age warning on such devices: “For ages 8 and up.” Seems about right: an eight-year-old was certainly responsible enough not to burn a house down. But a seven-year-old? Are you insane?

Beyond the millions of tons of plastic we went through, post-WWII consumers drove gigantic cars with big, big, big gas-gobbling engines. And not just any gasoline. No, ours was fortified with…lead, to eliminate the scourge of humanity known as “engine knock.” So millions of tons of lead were gushed into the atmosphere. Small price to pay for a smooth-running engine.

So we consumed and consumed and polluted and polluted and threw away and threw away. And we were having a great time doing it…until those darn pesky post-Baby Boom youngsters started asking bothersome questions. Like, “Any chance we could start, oh, I don’t know, recycling?” And, “We think it would be a good idea to eliminate the crap y’all have been dumping into our rivers, oceans, and air. Not asking too much, are we?” And, “Any chance y’all could save some of the planet for us?”

So this old fogey thinks we might just have a chance, if we get out of the way and let the generations after us take the lead.

Just maybe not all of them. Because there’s this:

A couple of weeks ago, I was in the grocery store, getting a few things. The total came to $9.76. I gave the young lady clerk a ten dollar bill and a penny. “Why did you give me a penny?” she asked.

“So you can just give me a quarter back; makes it easier on both of us.”

“How do you know that I owe you a quarter?”

As nicely as I could, I said, “If you would, miss, please put it into the computer and let it tell you how much change to give me.” She did.

“How did you know that it was going to be 25 cents change?”

“Thank you, miss; hope you have a nice day.” I almost said, “Because I’m a savant,” but I’m afraid she might’ve responded, “A savant? Is that a Chevrolet or a Buick?”

Richard Eisel

Richard Eisel

Richard Eisel lives in Georgia. Besides writing, he enjoys reading, sailing, and baseball. He has been working on his first novel for about thirty years.  So far, he has written three paragraphs, but they are really good paragraphs.

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