LikeTheDew.com https://likethedew.com A journal of progressive Southern culture and politics Mon, 15 Apr 2019 14:23:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.1.1 https://likethedew.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/cropped-DewLogoSquare825-32x32.png LikeTheDew.com https://likethedew.com 32 32 Man of the People? https://likethedew.com/2019/04/15/man-of-the-people/ https://likethedew.com/2019/04/15/man-of-the-people/#respond Mon, 15 Apr 2019 14:23:55 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=70883

“Among men of honor a word is a bond”: Italian proverb

Although I’ve lived in Georgia off and on since 1964, I’m the grandson of Italian immigrants. As the fictional Don Corleone of Godfather fame once said: “I am old school; I believe in respect.” And honor being the basis for that respect.That’s why Don Trump is unlike Don Corleone, who had some positive characteristics. 

According to the Pew polling (10-1-18), only 24% of Americans believe Trump is even tempered (even less than 50% of Republicans feel this way). Per Pew: “Fewer than half (of all Americans) say that Trump is a strong leader (43%), well-informed (38%), empathetic (36%) or trustworthy (34%).”

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“Among men of honor a word is a bond”: Italian proverb

Although I’ve lived in Georgia off and on since 1964, I’m the grandson of Italian immigrants. As the fictional Don Corleone of Godfather fame once said: “I am old school; I believe in respect.” And honor being the basis for that respect.That’s why Don Trump is unlike Don Corleone, who had some positive characteristics. 

According to the Pew polling (10-1-18), only 24% of Americans believe Trump is even tempered (even less than 50% of Republicans feel this way). Per Pew: “Fewer than half (of all Americans) say that Trump is a strong leader (43%), well-informed (38%), empathetic (36%) or trustworthy (34%).”

Trump says he was a tough kid from Queens. No, he was the pampered kid of a wealthy tycoon, not self-made like Corleone. Although given Trump’s nature, he must have pushed around smaller kids. Growing up in blue collar NY neighborhoods, I saw bullies running their mouths and throwing around their weight against the weak.

And spoiled he was, sent off to expensive private boarding schools. Trump then went to fancy, expensive private colleges, his entry greased by Daddy. Upon graduation, Daddy provided him with hundreds of millions in seed money, back when a nice new car was $3,000. 

Through Daddy’s connections (physicians and others), he dodged the Vietnam draft… five times. Poor guy had “bone spurs.”

During this same period of time, my brother dropped out of GA Tech and joined the Army, although he had a metal pin holding his upper and lower left arm together. He couldn’t straighten his arm and was in periodic pain. Back then if you could breathe and weren’t in college, you volunteered or were drafted.

Don Corleone was tough as nails. But, true to the code that Italians like me were brought up under, he had honor. Corleone measured a man’s worth primarily by that factor.

Not so for Trump. Trump is not immoral. He is amoral and Americans know it, per Pew. Morality, facts and truth have no meaning for him.

There is an old saying that describes Trump: “How can you tell when a politician is lying? His lips are moving!” Most Americans (and our allies) see Trump’s lack of honesty.

But, his lack of ethics should surprise no one. His history is replete with deals in which he unethically nailed his partners with no remorse. It is no accident that although his enterprises went broke numerous times, Trump walked away unscarred as his hapless, trusting partners bit the dirt.

Furthermore, Trump is proud of these exploits. Those guys were suckers, according to him.

Trump’s attitude toward taxes is telling. He stated he is too “smart” to pay taxes (or ever show tax returns due to his permanent audit). You losers can pay them. Other candidates can show you how their income is derived, not me! 

His attitude towards immigrants shows how his politics is transactional. Most Americans do not know that Trump Tower in Manhattan was built by illegal immigrants or that the contractor hired by Trump shorted their pay to the tune of $600,000 …and didn’t pay them until a court order forced him to do so.

Don Corleone was ruthless. Seeing an opportunity, he moved quickly, taking no prisoners. In that one way, he was like Trump, unconcerned about destroying the Constitution to build his wall.

It’s unfortunate that a minority of Americans electorate choose to ignore Trump’s many shortcomings, buying the fallacious argument that these facts are somehow untrue or caused by socialistic “Fake Media”. But, there’s hope. Per a Morning Star poll (2-19), voters in 33 states supported Trump when he took office, but that number has fallen to 17.

If the 2020 election isn’t rigged, we will be rid of Trump. But, given unfettered Russian tampering and the Barr report whitewash, that remains a big “if”.

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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At Home, A Short History of Private Life, by Bill Bryson https://likethedew.com/2019/04/14/at-home-a-short-history-of-private-life-by-bill-bryson/ https://likethedew.com/2019/04/14/at-home-a-short-history-of-private-life-by-bill-bryson/#respond Sun, 14 Apr 2019 14:48:14 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=70869

Bryson, in his various entertaining books, likes to poke at the reader’s vulnerability with quick accounts of the many catastrophes in history, whether by plague, war or primitive medical procedures. Or he might cite the coming nuclear holocaust, random meteor hit or volcanic eruption that will swiftly turn the earth into a vacant desert. To be sure, all this stuff is perfectly possible. In his sketches of remarkable individuals he also keeps our attention by citing their extreme financial success or, more often, their poverty, suffering and lack of recognition, despite contributing mightily to the march of civilization. I imagine him having a team of researchers who hand him lists of fascinating facts which he weaves into his text, around a theme. In his book One Summer, 1927, he uses events from that short fecund period as springboards to examine the broader picture. Lindberg crossing the Atlantic to look at aviation, Babe Ruth to look at baseball, its history, including salaries. He does much the same in At Home: A Short History of Private Life, spinning off the rooms in a rectory he purchased in England.

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Bryson, in his various entertaining books, likes to poke at the reader’s vulnerability with quick accounts of the many catastrophes in history, whether by plague, war or primitive medical procedures. Or he might cite the coming nuclear holocaust, random meteor hit or volcanic eruption that will swiftly turn the earth into a vacant desert. To be sure, all this stuff is perfectly possible. In his sketches of remarkable individuals he also keeps our attention by citing their extreme financial success or, more often, their poverty, suffering and lack of recognition, despite contributing mightily to the march of civilization.

At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson

I imagine him having a team of researchers who hand him lists of fascinating facts which he weaves into his text, around a theme. In his book One Summer, 1927, he uses events from that short fecund period as springboards to examine the broader picture. Lindberg crossing the Atlantic to look at aviation, Babe Ruth to look at baseball, its history, including salaries. He does much the same in At Home: A Short History of Private Life, spinning off the rooms in a rectory he purchased in England.

The small church graveyard near the rectory, he early in the book tells us, is final resting place to 20,000 souls, layered over the many years such that the church itself seems to be sinking into the rising land. As the author moves from room to room he expands outward in his narrative to some of the many stories his research has compiled. The “hall” for example evokes the evolution of the word and an examination of living conditions over time, from primitive, shared, no-privacy quarters to today’s many-roomed mansions. How did early humans survive the winters, heat their quarters, cook their meals, order their affairs, treat their servants, serve their masters? How were parsons privileged, what was the typical culinary arrangement at the dinner table – or cave floor, depending on time frame?

A typical story is of Joseph Paxton, humble gardener, who came up with a design for a grand exhibition building when nearly 300 proposals by architects were turned down as unworkable, too expensive and incapable of being built in the timeframe necessary. His design out-shown the professionals aesthetically, came in under budget and made the near impossible timeline. The solution was a very large scale greenhouse. Bryson uses the occasion to comment on the times, 1851, when glass was so expensive that most structures had small and few windows. Events coincided such that the lowering of a glass tax, Paxton’s availability and a happenstance visit to a French exhibit contributed to the happy outcome. Paxton, incidentally, was the inventor of the Christmas card. And did you know that the outdoor privvy was the rule, in London and elsewhere, until this exhibition which had flush toilets, which turned out to be as popular as the exhibits and sparked a new trend?

Speaking of France, another spin-off, this time of the room called passage (or hallway). The Eiffel Tower was built of iron, just as it became, as building material, obsolete. Steel had just been invented, making way for the industrial revolution. That little aside, how steel was accidentally discovered by blowing air into pig iron, comes under the chapter titled, “The Cellar. Anyway, Alexandre Gustave Boenickhausen-Eiffel had a reputation as a noted bridge builder. He also designed the superstructure for the Statue of Liberty, the thickness of which, Bryson informs us, is less than a tenth of an inch. Eiffel’s solution to that problem, created the technique of curtain-wall construction, the most important building technique of the twentieth century, making skyscrapers possible. All that from the Passage. Of 100 entries in a competition for an iconic centerpiece for the Paris Exposition of 1889, Eiffel’s was chosen. Who can think of Paris without bringing to mind this structure? Yet certain French celebrities embarrassed themselves in their opposition to this “atrocity!”. Not mentioning any names but some of their initials were, Emile Zola, Paul Verlaine and Guy de Maupassant. Bryson mentions that not only was it the largest thing ever built but the largest completely useless thing.

So merrily on goes Bryson, covering the The Study, The Kitchen, The Pantry, The Garden, The Bathroom (of course – did you know that ancient Babylon had drains and sewage system and the Minoans had running water and bathtubs well over 3500 years ago?) , The Dressing Room, The Nursery and ending with, yup, The Attic. Bryon’s attic has a tiny, architecturally baffling balcony from which he gazes out on the landscape, imagining how it must have appeared at various past times, – back to the Roman occupation, way back to lions, elephants and exotic fauna grazing on arid plains. And with this he explains that the difference there is attributable to a temperature that humans alive today will live to see again. A change humans will have to adapt to at a much faster than geologic pace. His closing sentence, “The greatest possible irony would be if in our endless quest to fill our lives with comfort and happiness we created a world that had neither.”

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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How to Help Tornado Victims: Hands, Heart and Hound the House and Senate https://likethedew.com/2019/04/12/how-to-help-tornado-victims-hands-heart-and-hound-the-house-and-senate/ https://likethedew.com/2019/04/12/how-to-help-tornado-victims-hands-heart-and-hound-the-house-and-senate/#respond Fri, 12 Apr 2019 12:37:24 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=70842 Sometimes you cover a story from afar.  Sometimes, that story is little more than a mile away.  That’s how it was on March 3, 2019 as relatives gathered for my wife’s birthday in Columbus, Georgia, yet we spent much of it huddled in the house hallway, hoping for the best.  I won’t soon forget what sounded like a nearby tree snapping in two.

We were spared the worst of it, but many in East Alabama and West Georgia weren’t so lucky.  There are a lot of people wondering what they can do.  Here they are: the three H’s of help.

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Sometimes you cover a story from afar. Sometimes, that story is little more than a mile away. That’s how it was on March 3, 2019 as relatives gathered for my wife’s birthday in Columbus, Georgia, yet we spent much of it huddled in the house hallway, hoping for the best. I won’t soon forget what sounded like a nearby tree snapping in two.

Lee County Alabama Tornado animation is GOES-16 satellite movie of the storm cell producing the EF-4 tornaoo which killed at least 23 people in Lee County, Al and neighboring Georgia – the image is a combination of visible and infrared imaginery by NOAA
GOES-16 satellite movie of the storm cell producing the EF-4 tornaoo which killed at least 23 people in Lee County, Al and neighboring Georgia – the image is a combination of visible and infrared imaginery by NOAA

We were spared the worst of it, but many in East Alabama and West Georgia weren’t so lucky. There are a lot of people wondering what they can do. Here they are: the three H’s of help.

1) Hands. Stories are pouring in of folks racing to Lee County, or North of Columbus, to help search for survivors and assist with the cleanup. Among those were LaGrange College’s baseball team, who had just blanked Berea in a game moved up to early in the morning to avoid the storm. These defending conference champs used their hands, instead of protecting their valued palms, to help in Waverly Hall. Another LC student all the way from Rhode Island went with friends to help with the mess. Many other Southerners are pitching in, doing their part.

2) Heart. Whether you are a neighbor or far away, you’re Americans are doing their part, helping donate supplies. From church groups such as UMCOR and Alabama CBF along with the work of many other denominations, news organizations, and community groups are also providing guidance on how to help.

3) Hound the House and Senate and the White House. Let’s face it. Our disaster relief has been a disaster over the last few years. We still haven’t cleaned up from Hurricane Maria, which hit Puerto Rico, or done much for the victims of Hurricane Michael in North Florida and South Georgia. We need to cut the crap in Washington, and stop treating these storms like photo ops, good for public relations, but ignore them in the budget. End the empty promises. Our real national emergency is our government abandoning the governed in such storms.

I’m sure I’m going get a lot of flak for saying this. People are going to be quick to blame the other party, or insist that their own party is doing everything possible. Well when these areas that are struck stop looking like war zones for long periods of time, then we know the job’s done. Until then, our politicians need to work as hard as those volunteers rushing in to help.

Lately there’s been a darker edge to disaster relief. Some elected officials from the Midwest voted against aid to the East Coast recovery from Hurricane Sandy, but were quick to demand their dollars when tornadoes struck their backyard. Any politician who turns their back on an American just because they’re from a different state needs to be voted out of office ASAP.

Look up your member of the House and Senate here. Send them each a letter letting them know exactly what you think about our atrocious national response to deadly storms. Light up President Trump’s switchboard. Flood them with snail mail and email. They won’t take it seriously otherwise. Then maybe by the time a mile long tornado going 175 mph goes through your neighborhood, your government will have heard the message, and will stop playing games with relief efforts.

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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Bobbed Hair and Other Sins https://likethedew.com/2019/04/05/bobbed-hair-and-other-sins/ https://likethedew.com/2019/04/05/bobbed-hair-and-other-sins/#respond Fri, 05 Apr 2019 12:08:42 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=70826

We were listening to some old-time music during a drive last week, and up came a song by David “Stringbean” Akeman, a banjo player and singer who had been a star of the Grand Old Opry in the 1950s and the TV show Hee Haw in the 1970s.

 

Why do you bob your hair, girls? It is an awful shame
To rob the head God gave you and wear the flapper’s name.
You’ve taken off your covering, it is an awful sin.
Don’t ever bob your hair, girls, short hair belongs to men.

 

Jessica, my wife, is a lifelong Baptist, and she knows the Bible much better than her husband, a backslidden Methodist. She was able to quote pretty accurately the biblical authority for the prohibition on hair bobbing: “Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.” (I Corinthians 11:14-15)

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We were listening to some old-time music during a drive last week, and up came a song by David “Stringbean” Akeman, a banjo player and singer who had been a star of the Grand Old Opry in the 1950s and the TV show Hee Haw in the 1970s.

Why do you bob your hair, girls? It is an awful shame
To rob the head God gave you and wear the flapper’s name.
You’ve taken off your covering, it is an awful sin.
Don’t ever bob your hair, girls, short hair belongs to men.

Jessica, my wife, is a lifelong Baptist, and she knows the Bible much better than her husband, a backslidden Methodist. She was able to quote pretty accurately the biblical authority for the prohibition on hair bobbing: “Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.” (I Corinthians 11:14-15)

Stringbean recorded “Don’t Bob Your Hair, Girls” in the early 1960s, but as the lyrics suggest (“wear the flapper’s name”), the song originated earlier. Alfred Reed, a Virginia musician, wrote and recorded it in 1927. The song was a somewhat tongue-in-cheek comment on women’s changing image and status in society.

Others took the “New Woman” more seriously. In 1941, John R. Rice, a Baptist minister from Texas, published Bobbed Hair, Bossy Wives, and Women Preachers. (He was against all three.) On the bobbed hair issue, Rice wrote:

I remember a time when every good woman, that is every one who was not a harlot, received the utmost respect from practically every man….But today the masculine, rebellious woman has lost the reverence and respect good women once inspired in all men. Oh, women, what have you lost when you lost your femininity! When you bobbed your hair, you bobbed your character, too. Your rebellion against God’s authority as exercised by husband and father, has a tendency, at least, to lose you all the things that women value most. If you want reverence and respect from good men, if you want protection and a good home and love and steadfast devotion, then I beg you to take a woman’s place! Dress like a woman, not like a man. Have habits like a woman…. And if you want God to especially bless you when you pray, then have on your head a symbol of the meek and quiet spirit which in the sight of God is of such a great price.

Rice started his ministry in the 1920s as a member of the Southern Baptist Convention, but he broke with the SBC in 1927 over its openness to modernist ideas. Southern Baptists were too liberal for him! But this was well before the so-called conservative takeover of the SBC in the 1980s and 1990s, when the association boycotted Disney over its promotion of gay rights, changed from pro-choice to anti-abortion, and formally announced that wives should submit to their husbands. With J. Frank Norris and others, Rice founded the Independent Fundamentalist Baptists.

So anyway, we heard Stringbean telling women not to bob their hair, and it got me thinking.

I thought about Baptists. I ask students in my History of American religion course, “What do Baptists believe?” We finally conclude with the answer, “Darned near everything.” For example, some Baptists are Calvinists and believe in predestination (only those chosen by God at the beginning of time will go to heaven; there is nothing we can do about it). Some are Armenian and believe in free will (salvation is our choice and a result of our action and belief). It’s hard to imagine a broader spectrum than that—until you discover that some Baptists are Universalists, which means they believe everyone is going to heaven.

Some Baptists have tried to keep women out of the pulpit, and then there’s Oakhurst Baptist Church.

I thought about Methodists. I was raised Methodist (my father was a Methodist minister), and even though I haven’t been to a regular service in a long time, I still think of myself as a cultural Methodist.

Hearing a song that united the Bible with efforts to keep women in their place reminded me that a few weeks ago, leaders of the United Methodist Church met to discuss a possible change to the church’s policy that “homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” Specifically, progressives in the church hoped to win acceptance of homosexual clergy and the ability to perform same-sex weddings.

Progressives lost; the church voted not only to keep the existing policy, but to strengthen its enforcement. “The Bible tells us that we need to stay faithful to the Word,” said one delegate at the conference; the church’s current policy “is God’s plan, it’s the will of God, it is the biblical way.”

David S. Williams, in From Mounds to Megachurches: Georgia’s Religious Heritage, wrote favorably about the role of Methodism and of people like Frances Pauley and Dorothy Tilly in the civil rights movement. He offered this snippet from the 1950s: “If you do not know what social action to take, watch the Methodist women, and where they lead, follow.” He quoted historian Alice G. Knotts, who wrote that Methodist women “adhered to a gospel message which some of them interpreted as transcending race, class, and gender.”

But Williams also wrote about how southern Methodists, like southern Baptists, split from their northern counterparts in the 1840s in defense of slavery.

If he publishes a second edition of the book in a few years, Williams will no doubt add a discussion of Methodists to the last chapter (“Culture and Worship Wars”).

Listening to Stringbean sing about women who bob their hair, I thought about how religious belief is intertwined with society and culture. Just as God created us in His image, we tend to create religion in ours.

David Parker

David Parker

David B. Parker, a native of North Carolina, is Professor of History at Kennesaw State University. He has written on humorist Bill Arp, evangelist Sam Jones, novelist Marian McCamy Sims, the history of the word "y'all," and other southern topics.

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Patrolling the Wire https://likethedew.com/2019/04/04/patrolling-the-wire/ https://likethedew.com/2019/04/04/patrolling-the-wire/#respond Thu, 04 Apr 2019 11:30:40 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=70802 During World War II the US and USSR were uncomfortable and cautious allies. The ideological differences between Soviet communism and American capitalism were irreconcileable – an ideal shared with its Western Allies. At the end of the war the relationship between the Allies and the USSR deteriorated into a strong feeling of distrust and suspicion. Following the 1945 Yalta and Potsdam Conferences, Germany was divided into four occupation zones controlled by the USA, Great Britain, France and the USSR. Berlin, situated inside the Russian Zone, became a Four Power city and access from the west was primarily by air. The Soviet occupation and imposition of Communist governments in the Eastern European countries confirmed their intent to dominate all of Europe. They wrongly believed the US was not committed to defending democracy and the “Cold War” became inevitable because of the opposing ideologies. It became colder in the 1950s and 1960s when the Soviets backed the North Korean People’s Army in its invasion of South Korea, and supported the Communist Ho Chi Minh in the Vietnam War.

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Officers Mess and Goering Room: Gutersloh 1959
Officers Mess and Goering Room: Gutersloh 1959

During World War II the US and USSR were uncomfortable and cautious allies. The ideological differences between Soviet communism and American capitalism were irreconcileable – an ideal shared with its Western Allies. At the end of the war the relationship between the Allies and the USSR deteriorated into a strong feeling of distrust and suspicion. Following the 1945 Yalta and Potsdam Conferences, Germany was divided into four occupation zones controlled by the USA, Great Britain, France and the USSR. Berlin, situated inside the Russian Zone, became a Four Power city and access from the west was primarily by air. The Soviet occupation and imposition of Communist governments in the Eastern European countries confirmed their intent to dominate all of Europe. They wrongly believed the US was not committed to defending democracy and the “Cold War” became inevitable because of the opposing ideologies. It became colder in the 1950s and 1960s when the Soviets backed the North Korean People’s Army in its invasion of South Korea, and supported the Communist Ho Chi Minh in the Vietnam War.

In the Cold War it was easy to identify the other side. They wore a different uniform and there was a barrier between the West and East in Europe where most of the action took place. The barrier was a fence that ran about 250 miles from the borders with Czechoslovakia, Austria and Switzerland in the south through the middle of Germany to the Baltic Sea near Lubeck in the north.

It wasn’t a high fence but the trees were cleared on either side to give the East German guards a clear view from their watch towers. The barbed wire fence and anti-personnel mines, along part of the border, were designed to keep people in.

As part of the Allies’ containment strategy the border was regularly patrolled during daylight hours by photo reconnaissance and fighter aircraft to respond to any Russian violation of West German airspace. This game of “cat and mouse” was known as “patrolling the wire”.

The British Air Force (RAF) was responsible for a large section of the wire running from east of Kassel in the south of Germany to the Baltic Sea in the north, along the Baltic coast of Schleswig-Holstein to Denmark, and south along a small part of the North Sea coast of Germany which included the Isle of Sylt – known for its sandy beaches, cold water, unique language and nude sunbathing. Sylt was a popular destination for the photo reconnaissance aircrew.

The headquarters of No. 2 Group RAF Gutersloh was the nearest western airbase to the border with East Germany, 240 miles west of Berlin and as one pilot said: “about five minutes flying time from the Russians”. In 1959, Gutersloh was home to four squadrons of interceptor fighter and photo reconnaissance aircraft – primarily the British-made Hawker Hunter and Supermarine Swift. Many of the pilots were World War II veterans and the others were young and care-free with no combat experience. For them the Cold War was an adventure and a real-life training experience.

The Gutersloh air base had a short history. It was constructed about 1935 as a forward night fighter base for the Luftwaffe’s versatile Junkers JU88C, captured by US forces in 1945 and handed over to the British. In 1959, RAF Gutersloh was better known for its role in patrolling the wire between West and East Germany, its Officers Mess, Cellar Bar and Goering’s Room in the tower.

Hermann Goering, a pilot in the German Luftwaffe during World War I, was the Commander in Chief of the Luftwaffe in World War II and a close ally of Adolf Hitler. During World War II Goering was a frequent visitor to Germany’s forward air bases, including Gutersloh, and there were several stories about the Goering Room. One story was when Goering interrogated the Luftwaffe pilots after they returned from a mission he said if they didn’t tell the truth the ceiling would fall on them. Junior officers had placed a hinge at one end of a beam in the ceiling with a pulley system and steel cable to the Cellar Bar. With a signal they would let the beam fall within inches of the terrified pilot’s head.

The other story had Goering boasting about the might of the Luftwaffe and swearing that if Germany lost the war the ceiling above him would fall on his head. On a signal an officer released the beam and literally brought the roof down on Goering. The British pilots enjoyed telling the stories and playing the game.

The RAF low level covert border flights and their overflights into East Germany became a contest between the pilots to see who could penetrate further into East Germany’s airspace before the Russians chased them back across the border. They recorded the Russian Air Force response time and photographed anything of interest which was studied closely at the debriefing. The photographs of nude bathers at Sylt and passionate farm hands enjoying themselves in the fields near the border were viewed separately by the aircrew.

The RAF Commanding Officer at Gutersloh in 1959 was one of the most highly decorated British pilots from World War II. He flew over 100 operational missions in several different aircraft as a Bomber Command pilot, Commanding Officer of a Pathfinder Squadron and as a Master Bomber directing air raids over Germany. After the war he worked with the Technical Intelligence arm of the RAF, responsible for gathering information on the capabilities of the Soviet Air Force. When a MiG 15 airplane crashed in one of the Eastern Bloc countries he was sent in dressed as a farmer to examine the wreckage and the MiG’s electronic equipment. At Gutersloh, he was held in awe by the younger pilots who talked openly about their CO’s experience, courage and understanding of Russian airplanes and technology. He encouraged the overflights and lead his pilots deeper into East Germany in his favorite Hawker Hunter airplane. The RAF pilots patrolling the wire during The Cold War were at the front of the action and better understood the Russians than the politicians sitting comfortably thousands of miles away.

In 1989-1991 the USSR and its Eastern European satellites imploded. Politicians in the US and its Allied countries declared the Cold War was over and claimed “we” had won. This followed the overthrow of Communist Governments in Soviet-controlled Eastern Europe, independence of the Baltic States, Ukraine, Byelorussia and Russia, the break up of the former Yugoslovakia, fall of the Berlin Wall and reunification of Germany. Thirty years on from the self declared victory some historians are questioning whether the game is actually over or if the Russians just took a time out to regroup and strengthen the team. In the first Cold War the Soviets opposed the western countries with the support of Communist Governments in Eastern Europe where the ideology had been imposed on them. Now those countries have moved closer to western idiology and Russia has signed up a like-minded China to their team. Marxism-Leninism-Maoism is alive and well in Russia and China while liberal capitalism or anti communism is still alive in most western countries. The game isn’t over just because one side declares victory when there is still time on the clock. The military uniforms and Mao suits may have been replaced by western style Saville Row and Brooks Brothers suits but underneath the Marxist-Leninist ideology remains the same. Putin is still a Stalin follower and Xi a Mao follower. Both control the media in their country and try to influence the media in western countries. Mao’s thoughts were documented during the Cultural Revolution in the “Little Red Book” which was compulsory reading for the Chinese people. Xi’s philosophy and state-controlled media articles are documented in the “Little Red App” (Study Xi Strong Country) which was launched for Chinese smartphones as “voluntary” reading in early 2019.

Mao’s Long March lasted a year, covered 4,000 miles across China and installed Mao as the leader of China’s Communists. Xi was confirmed as President of China for life by the Communist Party Congress in 2018. His long march will be up the technology road.

Josef Stalin and Mao Tse-tung Posters: China 1972
Vladimir Putin (Kremlin) and Xi Jinping (Narendra Modi)

The Cold War hasn’t ended; it just looks and feels different, and needs a new name – The Cyber War. The Cyber War highlights the threat of electronic incursions and violation of democratic values by foreign players and corrupted social media. Unless these incursions are blocked, foreign players could use offensive cyber capabilities to access, control or destroy western communications systems and infrastructure such as the electricity grid, water and fuel supplies, communications, transport, banking, education and medical systems. Patrolling the wire takes on a completely new dimension. Now we need highly trained cyber warriors to block foreign incursions via wireless and undersea cable networks; block encrypted messages if they can’t be decoded; block offensive videos, messages and live streaming of mass murders on social media like the recent terrorist attack in New Zealand, disrupt terrorist communications and further develop anti-drone technology. It is a huge technological challenge and it will require a deep understanding of the ideology and motives behind the cyber incursion. The risk of just relying on intelligence gathered through monitoring the cyber space is we will ignore the ideological differences between Communism and Capitalism. It is not smart to lock all of your doors and leave the windows open (pun intended) – a mistake we made when we declared The Cold War was over and we had won.

In the Cold War incursions came from the other side of the wire. In the Cyber War incursions are coming from both sides of the wire which makes blocking or destroying them legally and politically more complicated. If we do nothing or just focus on the other side of the wire the war will be over, the ceiling will fall on our heads and our ideological opposites will have won.

RAF Gutersloh was closed in 1993 and the site was handed over to the British Army for use as an Army helicopter and logistics base, before returning it to the German authorities in 2016. Today the quiet city of Gutersloh is known as the headquarters of the Bertelsmann media conglomerate, owners of the Penguin Random House publishing company, the home of the Miele appliance manufacturing company and a software-based technology company, Reply Deutschland. The technology company specializes in the design and development of software solutions for new communications channels and the digital media. Given RAF Gutersloh’s role in the Cold War, it is somewhat ironic that a software-based technology company has now established itself just down the road from the air base that was responsible for patrolling the wire.

Ken Peacock

Ken Peacock

Ken Peacock, a former senior Australian executive of a mining company, first visited China in 1972 at the end of the Cultural Revolution and before diplomatic recognition by the Australian and US Governments. This was the first of many visits to China during the 1970s and 1980s. In 1978, he traveled throughout China with a trade delegation and revisited Shanghai where he stayed at the Shanghai Mansions Hotel and discovered the “Last Bottle of Gin in China”.

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Trump’s Pick Of Nikki Haley Shows A Change In His 2020 Election Strategy https://likethedew.com/2019/04/01/trumps-pick-of-nikki-haley-shows-a-change-in-his-2020-election-strategy/ https://likethedew.com/2019/04/01/trumps-pick-of-nikki-haley-shows-a-change-in-his-2020-election-strategy/#respond Mon, 01 Apr 2019 11:14:18 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=70793

News out of Washington DC that Mike Pence would not be on the ticket for the 2020 election stunned members of Congress, media personalities, and pundits like myself.  While Pence did say he would serve out the remainder of his term until January of 2021, it was quite a blow to the conservative wing of the party.  But such a move was seen by Republicans as improving Trump’s chances of winning reelection.

Haley, a former South Carolina legislator, became the first female governor of the Palmetto State in history. Trump tapped Haley to be his United States Representative to the United Nations.  The two clashed on policy regarding Russian hacking, American military intervention in Syria, and immigration from Honduras, leading Haley to resign.  While some thought Haley would challenge Trump in the primary, she endorsed the president and announced she would join the campaign.  But nobody realized how she would be added to the ticket.

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News out of Washington DC that Mike Pence would not be on the ticket for the 2020 election stunned members of Congress, media personalities, and pundits like myself.  While Pence did say he would serve out the remainder of his term until January of 2021, it was quite a blow to the conservative wing of the party.  But such a move was seen by Republicans as improving Trump’s chances of winning reelection.

Nikki Haley - Caricature by DonkeyHotey

Haley, a former South Carolina legislator, became the first female governor of the Palmetto State in history. Trump tapped Haley to be his United States Representative to the United Nations.  The two clashed on policy regarding Russian hacking, American military intervention in Syria, and immigration from Honduras, leading Haley to resign.  While some thought Haley would challenge Trump in the primary, she endorsed the president and announced she would join the campaign.  But nobody realized how she would be added to the ticket.

Not since Gerald Ford chose not to run with Vice-President Nelson Rockefeller in 1976, in favor of Kansas Senator Robert Dole, have we seen a sitting president choose not to run for reelection with his sitting second-in-command.  While Ford-Dole came up short against Jimmy Carter, a snap Rasmussen Reports poll revealed that Trump had now pulled into a statistical tie with  Joe Biden and Stacey Abrams, and ahead of the Democratic candidates, Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris.

Publicly, Democrats announced that such a move would not change their election strategy.  But privately, several House of Representatives members expressed dismay that with a woman on the ticket, Trump would do better with a demographic he had done poorly with in 2016.

By this time, you are probably frantically checking your cell phone for Google News, or you’ve already flipped on Fox News or CNN for details.  It’s fake news, written around April Fool’s Day.  But there’s a point to this story, to catch your attention.  Americans who are gearing up to protect this country from hackers are going to be looking for such “fake news,” but they’re unlikely to find much from Putin’s slick operatives.

The Russian game has changed for 2020.  Knowing that news organizations and social media are now wiping such material off of their sites, our foreign adversaries are trying a new tactic.  They’re trying to amplify existing, legitimate, and yes, extreme content, which has some reality, to the forefront of the election.  Instead of making up news, the new Putin tactic is to get people to see a few obscure events as “the norm.”  The result is to be the same as the spread of fake news, however.  And it’s to present a distorted view of reality, so Americans will get mad at each other, point fingers at each other, give more divisive, and tune out of politics, or get madder online.

So what should we do?  Recognize that while there’s less fake news, sharing the most extreme stories out there is giving people a false impression of what’s really happening.  Watch what you share.  Post some positive, true stories about people cooperating, working together, helping each other, being kind, the kind of activities that make up 98% of the day.  Show that we’re more united than others think.  Don’t let the Russians win by putting the times we disagree into an echo chamber to amplify the content.  Support candidates that don’t play the division game for political gain.  We’re called the United States for a reason.

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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Investigation into Trump Collusion Was Deeply Flawed… Here’s How https://likethedew.com/2019/04/01/investigation-into-trump-collusion-was-deeply-flawed-heres-how/ https://likethedew.com/2019/04/01/investigation-into-trump-collusion-was-deeply-flawed-heres-how/#respond Mon, 01 Apr 2019 10:55:08 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=70787 Now that the Special Counsel’s investigation has been concluded, and it has been announced that no more indictments will be forthcoming from the Mueller team, it can be fairly said that the Special Counsel has left an impressive prosecutorial record. The raw statistics alone are impressive: 34 individuals and three companies were indicted, convicted or plead guilty to felony charges, including many of President Trump’s closest associates

Reviews of the Mueller Report may be an entirely different matter. This past Friday, Special Counsel Mueller sent his final report to Attorney General William Barr, which did not conclude that the President committed a crime, but also did not exonerate him. In Barr’s view, “the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.”

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Now that the Special Counsel’s investigation has been concluded, and it has been announced that no more indictments will be forthcoming from the Mueller team, it can be fairly said that the Special Counsel has left an impressive prosecutorial record. The raw statistics alone are impressive: 34 individuals and three companies were indicted, convicted or plead guilty to felony charges, including many of President Trump’s closest associates.

Reviews of the Mueller Report may be an entirely different matter. This past Friday, Special Counsel Mueller sent his final report to Attorney General William Barr, which did not conclude that the President committed a crime, but also did not exonerate him. In Barr’s view, “the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.”

The puzzling “no collusion” finding by Mueller is particularly troubling since this conclusion was apparently reached without any actual interview or sworn testimony by Trump as to, for example, what was going through his mind when he invited the Russians to hack into the Clinton Campaign’s database to find her “missing” emails or when he appeared to have advance knowledge of one or more of the WikiLeaks data dumps.

Donald Trump Jr. also got a free pass from Mueller when he was not required to answer questions under oath as to what he was thinking when he set up the Trump Tower meeting with the Russians in the hope and expectation that they would turn over hacked emails and other Clinton dirt. Since intent is always a necessary element in a criminal conspiracy, and the silent operation of the mind can only be divined by either the words or actions of an individual, or by asking him or her what they were thinking at the time, it is difficult to reconcile the decision not to interview these seemingly important witnesses and Mueller’s sterling reputation as a thorough prosecutor.

Could Trump have been given a pass on an interview merely because he was a sitting President, and could Don Jr. have been given a pass because he’s a member of the first family? Or is there a more reasonable explanation, which is that Don Jr. is the target of an ongoing criminal investigation, and Mueller did not want to jeopardize that ongoing investigation by interrogating him now while he is still technically a target?

Since the U.S. does not officially believe in royalty, and our system of laws is premised on the concept that no man is above the law, how then can a conclusion be reached that neither Trump nor any of his inner circle conspired with the Russians when neither Trump nor at least one other key player (Don Jr.) were even asked to explain what they were doing when they met with the Russians, talked about getting access to Clinton dirt, and discussed the lifting of U.S. sanctions on Russia.

Mueller’s conclusion of “no collusion” must be carefully scrutinized, since it appears to be based on a very narrow reading of what constituted Russian interference in the 2016 election. As summarized in Barr’s March 24th letter to Congress, the Special Counsel’s investigation focused on two major aspects of Russian interference. The first involved attempts by a Russian organization, the Internet Research Agency (IRA) to conduct disinformation and social media operations in the U.S., with the aim of interfering in the election, and the second involved Russian government efforts “to conduct computer hacking operations designed to gather and disseminate information to influence the elections.”

If there was no conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russians, and the meetings were completely innocent, then why did so many Trump campaign officials lie about their contact with Russian officials during the campaign and transition period? Jeff Sessions, Jared Kushner, Don Jr., and many others either lied about their meetings with Russian officials, or they intentionally failed to disclose those meetings on government disclosure forms they were required to file with U.S. law enforcement agencies. The obvious reason for why they lied about these meetings and phone conversations was not to get dirt on Clinton or sabotage the DNC. Rather, these exchanges were more broadly focused on how the Trump campaign, transition team and administration would adopt a pro-Russian policy agenda, such as reducing or eliminating the crippling U.S. financial and economic sanctions on Russia and accepting Russia’s de facto annexation of Crimea, in return for Russia’s independent efforts to damage the Clinton campaign and to get Trump elected.

Although the Barr letter’s summary of Mueller’s “no collusion” conclusion is extremely cursory, and the full Mueller Report itself undoubtedly contains much more detail, there is already a vast reservoir of information that can be gleaned from the Mueller indictments themselves, as well as from the publicly available sentencing memoranda and court filing by the Special Counsel’s office. When these materials  are combined with mountain of information publicly disclosed over the past several years as a result of reliable investigative reporting, there is already ample evidence to reach a conclusion that is the direct opposite of what Mueller apparently concluded. The Trump Team coordinated on numerous levels with Russian agents and operatives (including WikiLeaks) in their efforts not only to broadly assist Russia with achieving goals that were contrary to existing U.S. foreign policy and antithetical to U.S. interests, but also to more narrowly influence the 2016 presidential election and to swing it in Trump’s favor.

Kenneth Foard McCallion

Kenneth Foard McCallion

Treason & Betrayal: The Rise and Fall of Individual-1 by Kenneth Foard McCallion Kenneth F. McCallion heads an accomplished team of civil litigation and human rights attorneys at McCallion & Associates LLP. He is a nationally recognized expert on constitutional law, especially the impeachment clause, and has significant expertise in the fields of civil RICO, criminal law, and the history of Treason and Espionage in U.S. history. McCallion spent the early part of his law career working as a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice, handling high-profile organized crime prosecutions and working on major labor racketeering cases, including some investigations that dealt with labor racketeering involving the construction of Trump Tower and other major construction projects in the New York area. He also worked on numerous sensitive counterintelligence investigations involving Russian espionage in the U.S., involving coordination between and among U.S. Department of Justice and FBI agents with the CIA and U.S. State Department. McCallion received his B.A. from Yale, and his J.D. from Fordham Law School. Previous publications include Shoreham and the Rise and Fall of Nuclear Power, and The Essential Guide to Donald Trump.

Treason & Betrayal will be released on April 15, 2019 wherever fine books are sold.

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Green New Deal justifiably omits nuclear power https://likethedew.com/2019/03/30/green-new-deal-justifiably-omits-nuclear-power/ https://likethedew.com/2019/03/30/green-new-deal-justifiably-omits-nuclear-power/#respond Sat, 30 Mar 2019 20:12:49 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=70780 Georgia “Public Service Commission” vice-chair Tim Echols’ comments against the Green New Deal (GND) could hardly be more misleading, misinformed, and cynically ironic. [Savannah Morning News, March 29, 2019.]

In his deeply flawed rejection of the progressive GND proposal, Echols defends Georgia’s energy policy, falsely portraying Plant Vogtle as a praiseworthy centerpiece of our state’s achievements. Even casual observers of the protracted, wasteful fiasco known as Plant Vogtle recognize that it’s a tribute to extravagant corporate welfare – absurdly over budget, now double the starting cost at $30 billion, and years behind schedule, a horrendous but profitable hoax foisted on U.S. taxpayers and Georgia Power customers.

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Georgia “Public Service Commission” vice-chair Tim Echols’ comments against the Green New Deal (GND) could hardly be more misleading, misinformed, and cynically ironic. [Savannah Morning News, March 29, 2019.]

In his deeply flawed rejection of the progressive GND proposal, Echols defends Georgia’s energy policy, falsely portraying Plant Vogtle as a praiseworthy centerpiece of our state’s achievements. Even casual observers of the protracted, wasteful fiasco known as Plant Vogtle recognize that it’s a tribute to extravagant corporate welfare – absurdly over budget, now double the starting cost at $30 billion, and years behind schedule, a horrendous but profitable hoax foisted on U.S. taxpayers and Georgia Power customers. 

If that profligate transfer of wealth from citizens to entrenched corporate autocracy is Georgia’s pride and joy, the state’s energy policy – and our collective future – are doomed.

Even if Vogtle were completed – running on schedule and within budget – an impartial, complete assessment of nuclear power explains why there are so few plants now being built. True, unlike coal and other fossil-fuel power-plants, no carbon emissions are produced in generating electricity with nuclear reactions. But, like the scripted banter of a well-rehearsed huckster, this claim deceives by truncating the truth. 

The reasons for omitting nuclear power from the GND include:

  • Accidents such as Chernobyl and Three Mile Island demonstrate costly, dangerous public safety risks of nuclear power.
  • Mining and processing nuclear fuels, combined with construction and close-out of nuke-plants, produce huge amounts of carbon emissions.
  • After nearly 70 years of investigating, no acceptable method for long-term (10,000-year) storage of deadly radioactive waste has been found.
  • The cost of building a nuclear plant requires corporate financing – lavishly supplemented by government-guaranteed loans, without which the nuke industry would not exist.

Unlike nuclear power, solar equipment can be scaled-down to ownership by individual households, reducing revenues primarily benefiting major corporations that further concentrate wealth among executives and well-heeled stockholders.

One of GND’s major goals is correcting unfair and unhealthy income disparities, which are facilitated by public policies that reward corporations at the expense of the public. By supporting decentralized energy technology, such as rooftop solar, and omitting corporate-dependent power sources like nukes, the GND will help working people build economic security.

Contrary to Echols’ claims espousing the scandal-ridden Plant Vogtle project, GND’s aims – though ambitious – are legitimate. Providing clean energy while overhauling U.S. public policies to offer greater access to living-wage employment and equitable business opportunities is a commendable, timely enterprise vital to America’s future.

David Kyler

David Kyler

Executive Director at Center for a Sustainable Coast.

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After The Funeral https://likethedew.com/2019/03/26/after-the-funeral/ https://likethedew.com/2019/03/26/after-the-funeral/#respond Tue, 26 Mar 2019 13:02:24 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=70757 Family funerals are different from other funerals. A family funeral makes me drift. I look at the flowers and listen to the ministers and music but my mind wanders. I avoid looking at the casket, choosing to summon up memorable moments, like scenes in an old cinema. I remember the person in full bloom.

When things really hit me, however, is after the funeral, when life supposedly gets back to normal, whatever that is. I put away my suit and recall kicks into high gear. And so it was that I began to call up memories of Aunt Sister, she of two familial names, whom we buried March 19.

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Family funerals are different from other funerals. A family funeral makes me drift. I look at the flowers and listen to the ministers and music but my mind wanders. I avoid looking at the casket, choosing to summon up memorable moments, like scenes in an old cinema. I remember the person in full bloom.

When things really hit me, however, is after the funeral, when life supposedly gets back to normal, whatever that is. I put away my suit and recall kicks into high gear. And so it was that I began to call up memories of Aunt Sister, she of two familial names, whom we buried March 19.

She arrived August 11, 1923, as Sarah Evelyn Walker. I knew her as Aunt Sister. I didn’t know her name was Sarah until she was gone. She passed through times, which many of us will never see. Born during Prohibition, she was six when the Great Depression arrived. Sixteen when World War II erupted. Eighteen when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Forty when JFK died in Dallas. Forty-six when Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon. And there were hundreds upon hundreds of personal events she collected. What we call “life.” Births. Deaths. Vacations. Meals. Heartbreak. Elation. Disappointment. Careers. Family. Beloved pets.

The things she learned. That’s why losing a loved one is like having a museum or a great library burn to the ground. Aunt Sister was the oldest of my late Mom’s sisters and she outlived all the girls save one. She would have been 96 August 11. When you live that long, you acquire a treasure chest of knowledge and experience. My memories include her home on a street called Kings Way, family reunions and hearing her laughter. I remember, too, at Kings Way, watching her, Mom, and Dad listening to Fats Domino’s 1956 recording of “Blueberry Hill.”

“I found my thrill/On Blueberry Hill/On Blueberry Hill/When I found you.”

I recall too when she told me about her job in an ammunition factory helping the war effort. The authorities arrested a co-worker, an operative, who was rendering ammunition defective.

Not quite ten years ago in a bit of random recall Aunt sister shared memories of her youth and the Great Depression with me. I hear her voice as I read what she recalled and I see people long gone: “Sundays mama would fix something special. We’d go to church and in the evening we’d go for a stroll. Wild grapes grew at an old home place and we’d climb trees. Mama and daddy taught us all about trees. We’d find muscadines, what we called fox grapes. We’d set out hooks for fish on Saturday nights. We’d fish on Sundays but we were scared the Devil would get us. Everybody had dresses made from bolts of cloth provided by the WPA so everybody looked alike.”

Aunt Sister remembered making do … “We didn’t eat eggs, we bartered them for things we didn’t have. Mama made her own snuff … dry them (tobacco leaves) out and put them in a sack and pound them into a powder and add sugar … we made homemade syrup … we ate organic and didn’t know it … soles of shoes would flap and daddy would wire them together … they would scratch others if they got too close … in spring dad would borrow $65 to buy cotton seed, fertilizer. In fall he’d pay back the $65 when the crop came in; what was left was all we had to make it to the next year.

“I remember wonderful meal soup with a hambone. Each family member could get a bite or two of meat and she’d mix meal and green onions from the garden. We entertained ourselves with seesaws, a flying jenny, and greased it with an old animal skin. Picking cotton and playing in pile of cotton: we had a good time.”

She remembers dresses made from flour sacks. “They had to be washed a lot to get the numbers and printing out.” She remembers her daddy making persimmon beer. “It had baked sweet potatoes in it and clean broomstraw went in the bottom to strain it. When it was ready, we all got one glass; it was sharp and tickled your tongue. That night a mule wandered through the yard and pulled the stopper out and that was the end of the persimmon beer.”

She recalled summer nights when “it was so hot we’d sleep on pallets on the grass beneath the stars. We shared a good garden with those whose garden failed. Daddy would kill a beef every year. Neighbors would do the same thing. He’d put it in a wagon and take it to the neighbors and share part of it. When they killed a beef they did the same thing. So everyone had some beef that way.”

It’s said that those who lived through the Great Depression never returned to who they were before it struck. I believe it. Here Aunt Sister recalls those hard days, but through it all, beneath it all, you detect hope and compassion. And sleeping on grass beneath the stars? What a beautiful way to deal with adversity.

Well, the years they do go by. My family tree grows young supple limbs as old, brittle limbs break away. One day I added up all the elders I knew as my “growing-up” family when I was a boy. The list came to eighteen names. Today, only two remain. I like to think the other sixteen are together again and they’re busy catching up with Aunt Sister now, and I’ll tell you something you can take to the bank. She will have a lot to tell them. A lot. And you can bet there’ll be plenty of laughter.

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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School Choice Has Nothing To Do With Schools https://likethedew.com/2019/03/23/school-vouchers-has-nothing-to-do-with-schools/ https://likethedew.com/2019/03/23/school-vouchers-has-nothing-to-do-with-schools/#respond Sat, 23 Mar 2019 12:03:11 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=70724 Legislation now pending in the Georgia General Assembly provides for tax-supported vouchers parents can apply toward private school tuition for their kids, the vouchers to be worth roughly what the state spends on a child in a public school.

Vouchers draw a predictable response from public school advocates: There’s no evidence that vouchers raise student achievement and overwhelming evidence that they divert funding from already strapped public schools.

It’s important to understand that the opposing forces on this issue aren’t even on the same planet.

To the public-school defenders, it’s all about educational access and quality.

To the voucher proponents, it’s only about reducing government’s footprint in American life. Boosting student achievement isn’t a priority for them and diverting public funds from public to private schools is a feature, not a bug.

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Legislation now pending in the Georgia General Assembly provides for tax-supported vouchers parents can apply toward private school tuition for their kids, the vouchers to be worth roughly what the state spends on a child in a public school.

Voucher Crew by David FitzsimmonsTo the voucher proponents, it’s only about reducing government’s footprint in American life. Boosting student achievement isn’t a priority for them and diverting public funds from public to private schools is a feature, not a bug.

Vouchers draw a predictable response from public school advocates: There’s no evidence that vouchers raise student achievement and overwhelming evidence that they divert funding from already strapped public schools.

It’s important to understand that the opposing forces on this issue aren’t even on the same planet.

To the public-school defenders, it’s all about educational access and quality.

To the voucher proponents, it’s only about reducing government’s footprint in American life. Boosting student achievement isn’t a priority for them and diverting public funds from public to private schools is a feature, not a bug.

The voucherists take their inspiration from a 1955 article by the late libertarian economist Milton Friedman, who argued for vouchers from a general premise about the role of government.

“I shall assume,” he said, “a society that takes freedom of the individual, or more realistically the family, as the ultimate objective, and seeks to further this objective by relying primarily on voluntary exchange among individuals…. In such a free private enterprise exchange economy, government’s primary role is to preserve the rules of the game by enforcing contracts, preventing coercion, and keeping markets free.”

That assumption makes public education a fat target because, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics, government at all levels in this country spends about $660 billion a year on elementary and secondary public education, an immense government footprint.

Although most of that wealth eventually find its way into the private economy, Friedman would’ve preferred by far that it bypass government entirely.

Friedman’s first choice was that all education be fee-for-service. But failing that, he argued that the only thing justifying any government role in education is some benefit that can’t be packaged, priced and distributed in discrete bits by voluntary private exchange. He thought that living in a society of citizens committed to democratic values is such a benefit.

Public school advocates have traditionally made exactly this case themselves. We can’t uphold democratic values, they say, unless people have at least a rudimentary understanding of them. So we need public schools to educate people for citizenship and community leadership.

Freedman accepted that premise but argued that the traditionalists’ conclusion doesn’t follow because we can secure what he and they agree is a public good without having the government operate schools. All it takes is for government to give people money they can use to send their kids to privately owned schools meeting minimum government standards for transmitting democratic values.

That sounds reasonable and public-spirited. But Friedman gives the game away when, noting that his voucher scheme would apply only to grades K-12, he makes the astonishing claim that most of “the appropriate content of an educational program for citizens of a democracy” would be covered by “the three R’s,” just basic literacy.

That tells me that the rhetoric about instilling democratic values in our children is only a thin rationale for Friedman’s real objective: diverting public funds to subsidize what’s essentially a private, not a public benefit.

With public schools enrolling the vast majority of the K-12 population, there isn’t enough demand to entice many private operators into the educational services sector. So Friedman proposed to create a robust private K-12 educational services market by spreading a lot of public money around and setting a very low barrier to entry for private operators, just the capacity to teach basic literacy.

Over time, he foresaw the virtual disappearance of public K-12 schools, except in rural areas whose populations can’t support more than one school. But he looked forward to even those government schools falling to advancing urbanization.

So what blessings did Friedman expect from this massive shift in the way we educate most of our kids? Contrary to what some current voucher cheerleaders predict, he didn’t see competition forcing traditional public schools to up their game. In fact, nowhere does he suggest that there’s anything wrong with traditional public schools educationally. The only thing wrong with them, by his reckoning, is that they’re government operated.

He counted on privatization to “stimulate the development and improvement” only of private schools, enabling “them to grow relatively to State institutions.”

The whole point of this scheme, remember, is to phase out public schools in favor of the private sector, awash in new entrants having to get up to speed. Except for rookie private operators on steep learning curves, promoting educational quality wasn’t on Friedman’s agenda, hardly surprising since the genius of free markets isn’t to deliver quality. It’s just to maximize the satisfaction of consumer preferences whatever they are.

As he put it, “…competitive private enterprise is likely to be far more efficient in meeting consumer demands” than other arrangements.

We need only look to the auto market for an example. The auto market doesn’t just crank out Rolls Royces. It casts up everything from Rolls Royces to clunkers decaying on used car lots.

In the same way, what we should expect a private education services market to deliver is whatever there’s enough demand for: schools that prioritize athletics over academics, the arts over STEM subjects or the reverse, high-powered college-prep, religious doctrines, etc.

Provided they’re not government-mandated, Friedman is fine with the market even offering racially segregated schools. And after justifying all this in terms of educating for democratic values, Friedman sums up by saying, with no apparent awareness of the irony, that in Friedman-world, parents will be able to vote for and against schools with their feet instead of “through cumbersome political channels.”

It can’t be any clearer that there’s absolutely no common ground between traditional public-school advocates and school voucher supporters. While the former are committed to quality education as they understand it, the latter are committed only to choice for its own sake. In the world the choice forces envision, your neighborhood public school wouldn’t be on the menu.

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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The rich are no smarter than you https://likethedew.com/2019/03/22/the-rich-are-no-smarter-than-you/ https://likethedew.com/2019/03/22/the-rich-are-no-smarter-than-you/#respond Fri, 22 Mar 2019 15:21:59 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=70745

Nothing makes me angrier than stupid rich people getting unfair advantages. These same entitled rich people then turn around and fight against so-called "entitlement" programs and affirmative action because they seem to think their achievements are based on merit while the rest of us who actually work for a living—or at least try to—are nothing more than lazy freeloaders or unscrupulous “welfare queens” who deserve to die if we can’t afford our hospital bill. 

Now we see some richies arrested for lying, bribing and cheating to get unfair advantages for their offspring. To hell with them and their unearned privilege. May they suffer the indignity of a second-rate college or otherwise rot in a minimum-security prison.

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Nothing makes me angrier than stupid rich people getting unfair advantages. These same entitled rich people then turn around and fight against so-called “entitlement” programs and affirmative action because they seem to think their achievements are based on merit while the rest of us who actually work for a living—or at least try to—are nothing more than lazy freeloaders or unscrupulous “welfare queens” who deserve to die if we can’t afford our hospital bill. 

Now we see some richies arrested for lying, bribing and cheating to get unfair advantages for their offspring. To hell with them and their unearned privilege. May they suffer the indignity of a second-rate college or otherwise rot in a minimum-security prison.

The college bribery scandal is just the latest example of what anyone who’s been paying attention should already know: the United States is not a meritocracy. The biggest marker of success seems to be the zip code you are born into—regardless of how talented, intelligent, or charismatic you are. The Horatio Alger story has gone from mythical to fraudulent. 

The real tragedy is that many average people, whose parents cannot afford to spend millions to send them to Harvard, operate under the assumption that a person’s financial net worth is equivalent to actual worth. I blame this primarily on our education system and our mainstream media, both of which do the masses a grave injustice by shielding them from class-based analysis. 

I recall learning about Helen Keller and watching “Miracle Worker” as early as elementary school. Missing from the lessons was the important detail that Keller, who joined the Socialist Party of America as an adult, acknowledged that she would not have achieved personal success—much less celebrity status—if she had not been born of wealthy parents. This would have been a far more useful classroom discussion-starter than questions about overcoming disability that omit any mention of class or other structural considerations. I was led to believe in my formative years, thanks to public schools, that every achievement, no matter how suspicious or improbable, can be attributed solely to personal ambition and talent. 

The mainstream media took over where schooling left off. It’s no exaggeration to say that media personalities are obsessed with actors, athletes, monomaniacs, zealots, wealthy entrepreneurs, eccentric politicians, and anyone else who can be spotlighted rather than contextualized. To put it simply, we do not celebrate team players—we celebrate ball hogs. We celebrate people who would suffocate their own twin just so that they could emerge from the womb a little sooner. And when I say “we,” I am talking about everyone—even those of us who stand to gain nothing from this celebrity-obsessed culture except the juvenile diversion of vicarious living.

Think of what the common people would gain from a feature story that, instead of lionizing a mediocre celebrity, questioned whether he or she was worth such honorifics in the first place. The reporters could scrutinize the celebrity’s past performance in school, talk to the friends they had before they were famous, browse their tax returns, learn how they performed on standardized tests, and so on. This is what journalism is supposed to be but often is not. What if they had produced stories like this in 2016 about Trump and ran them on the major networks as often as they ran his childish-rants? I doubt he would have garnered many votes.

But instead, we as Americans pretend as if every rich person is smarter, more attractive, or otherwise better than we are because we didn’t win the (zip-code) lottery. We like celebrities for the sole reason that they are celebrities. We let our inadequate education and uncritical media determine how we think about those with more power and privilege. This serves the purpose of keeping us in intellectual chains so that we would never dare organize ourselves and challenge these two-bit oppressors with their baseless braggadocio and ghastly comb-overs. Most of us would rather be them than fight them. 

Please. The rich are no smarter than you. But they think they are, they want to you think that, and they are pushing you around like you’re the small kid on the playground. They have been stealing your lunch money and sense of self-respect for generations. 

What are you going to do about it?  

Matt Johnson

Matt Johnson

I am 31 and hold a BA in Journalism and an MA in Peace and Conflict Studies.

My work experience/interests comes in five general areas: 1) Media/Writing/Editing, 2) Community Organizing, 3) Education, 4) Counseling, and 5) ADR/Facilitation/Mediation/Restorative Justice.

I am trained in community conferencing, large-group meeting facilitation, cross-cultural dialogue facilitation, mediation, crisis counseling, and nonviolent third-party intervention.

My career and educational interests are grassroots social movements, social justice, international peace, restorative justice, mediation, facilitation, gender-based violence, and progressive education.

I am always looking for ways to contribute to any of these fields, but my long-term goal is to teach at a university in the social sciences field.

I am the co-editor and author of the 2018 book Trumpism: The Politics of Gender in a Post-Propitious America (Cambridge Scholars Publishing).

Matt Johnson, syndicated by PeaceVoice.

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Ever Did The Cows Come Home? https://likethedew.com/2019/03/22/ever-did-the-cows-come-home/ https://likethedew.com/2019/03/22/ever-did-the-cows-come-home/#respond Fri, 22 Mar 2019 14:33:49 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=70738

When I was attending third grade in the Alabama cotton mill-village where I grew up, our teacher, Miss Braswell, was a young, pretty woman just starting her career.

Once when the chubby principal, Mr. Hooten, a dour, moon-faced, preacher-looking fellow who wore vests and wire-rimmed glasses sat in on Miss Braswell’s class, she was more than eager to show how well we had been taught.

Stepping briskly to the blackboard, she wrote “ever” and underlined it with three firm chalk marks–Dash! Dash! Dash!

After telling us to get out a sheet of our Montag Blue Horse notebook paper, she said we should write a sentence using that word. She gave us two minutes.

When time was up, Miss Braswell, started with the row on the left and asked the first boy, Tommy, to stand and read his sentence. (There were all boys in that row.)

Tommy, bashful to the bone, slowly rose and glanced apprehensively at Miss Braswell, and then Mr. Hooten, who was seated on a folding chair at the back of the room.

Boy looking throught the fence from the cover of Ever Did The Cows Come Home by JL Strickland
From the cover of Ever Did The Cows Come Home by JL Strickland.

Then, nervously clearing his throat, grasping the notebook paper with both hands, Tommy thusly spake these immortal words: “Ever did the cows come home?”

Miss Braswell wouldn’t have been more shocked if Tommy had read his sentence in Latin. Now it was the young teacher’s turn to glance anxiously at Mr. Hooten.

Taken aback, she said, “Tommy, that doesn’t make sense. Try again. You know better than that.” Then she told the boy behind Tommy to read his sentence.

Again, another red-faced boy shuffled to his feet and, after a long pause, in an usually loud voice, hurriedly blurted out, “Ever did the cows come home?” Miss Braswell, blushing a bright crimson, was gobsmacked.

When she finally regained her senses, she, in a shrill voice, said, “Are you all copying each other’s paper? I’ll have none of that!”

Nobody said a word. As stated before, Miss Braswell was pretty, but she was also redheaded, with a sprinkle of freckles that her face-powder couldn’t hide.

And, while usually nice and pleasant, she had a temper that sometimes got the better of her. (Mill-village folk described such high-strung, excitable people as being “fractious.”)

She quickly ordered the third boy to read his sentence. Her tone had sharpened a tad. Well, maybe more than a tad. She kept casting sidelong glances at Mr. Hooten, who while impassively silent, was as hard to ignore as a grizzly bear. (Or a 900-pound gorilla who seemed to be gaining weight by the second.)

The third boy slowly got up and, after shifting his weight back and forth like he was getting ready to ‘rassle, looked down at his paper. But before he could read his sentence, Miss Braswell snapped, “And it better not be ‘Ever did the cows come home?'”

As he intently studied what he had written, a noticeable shiver ran down the lad’s body — like he was undergoing an ice-water enema.

Without reading a word, he let out a weary sigh and sat down, a perfect picture of defeat.

Miss Braswell flew to the boy’s desk and snatched the paper from his hand. She didn’t read his sentence aloud — it wasn’t necessary.

Judging from the banshee wail that sprang from the depths of her very soul, it was obvious the third boy too, had written, “Ever did the cows come home?”

Miss Braswell might have possessed a peppery temper, but she was sensitive as well. She stood there fighting back tears as she studied the third boy’s sentence, avoiding Mr. Hooten’s stern glare.

It was at this very moment, as tension filled the room and something horrible seemed about to happen, that Douglas, one of the country kids who rode the bus to school, felt it necessary to speak up.

Douglas announced to the room at large, “A fool knows ‘Ever did the cows come home,’ ain’t right. A durn cow ain’t got no home — they stay in the barn when they ain’t in the pasture.”

Miss Braswell, long legs pumping, fled from the room like an Olympic sprinter. With Mr. Hooten waddling right behind her.

I don’t remember how long she was gone. Some of the girls, all of whom adored Miss Braswell, ran to the door and peeked out the window at our distraught teacher pitifully sobbing in the hall, as Mr. Hooten gently consoled her.

However, most of the boys, quickly taking advantage of the teacher’s absence, immediately began whooping and hollering and practicing our spitball marksmanship.

Not that we needed much practice.

After she finally returned to the classroom, eyes red and swollen, I do recall her keeping her head down on her desk for what seemed like a really long time.

But, from that day on, in my heart of hearts, I wanted to be a writer. Especially after witnessing first-hand the power words can have on people. Even the wrong words.

To those harboring doubts that even wrong words have power, I would suggest they consider the unfathomable popularity our President has with some misguided people.

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When It Comes To Hate Crimes and Laws, Go Beyond The Statistics https://likethedew.com/2019/03/20/when-it-comes-to-hate-crimes-and-laws-go-beyond-the-statistics/ https://likethedew.com/2019/03/20/when-it-comes-to-hate-crimes-and-laws-go-beyond-the-statistics/#respond Wed, 20 Mar 2019 14:30:11 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=70710 My state of Georgia is one of the only states that doesn’t have a hate crimes law.  Should the state join the rest of the country in developing such a statute?  Should states with such laws toughen them?  Normally, when there’s a problem, I like to take the analytical approach, and dive into the statistics to study the evidence.  But this is a case where we need to go beyond the numbers when deciding an issue that may be one more based on morality than science.

So why is Georgia one of only a few without a hate crimes law?  In fact, the Peach State used to have one, but the courts struck it down as being too vague.  While other states across the country sought to craft their own bills, a response to a series of horrible torture-killings from Wyoming to Texas where human beings were targeted by virtue of being someone different, Georgia stalled.

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My state of Georgia is one of the only states that doesn’t have a hate crimes law.  Should the state join the rest of the country in developing such a statute?  Should states with such laws toughen them?  Normally, when there’s a problem, I like to take the analytical approach, and dive into the statistics to study the evidence.  But this is a case where we need to go beyond the numbers when deciding an issue that may be one more based on morality than science.

So why is Georgia one of only a few without a hate crimes law?  In fact, the Peach State used to have one, but the courts struck it down as being too vague.  While other states across the country sought to craft their own bills, a response to a series of horrible torture-killings from Wyoming to Texas where human beings were targeted by virtue of being someone different, Georgia stalled.

More than a year ago, my students and I took on the project, at the suggestion of State Senator Matt Brass, a Republican whose district stretches from my small college town to the outskirts of Atlanta.  There are plenty of Democrats who go all out on this issue, but some Republicans have also stepped up to introduce, and vote for reform.  The Hate Crimes Bill (HB 426) passed the Georgia House 96-64 and is headed to the Georgia Senate.  As GOP House member Chuck Efstration of Dacula said, District Attorneys (of both parties) have been pressing for this law.  If the Senate also passes it, Governor Brian Kemp could make some good history, and erase some bad history, with the stroke of a pen.

There are always challenges too with counting crimes and comparing them to laws.  If you don’t have a hate crimes law, you don’t have a “hate crime.”  States that protect more groups may well report more hate crimes, possibly giving the false impression that the law isn’t working.

Even with these obstacles there’s still evidence that such laws.  A year ago, I reported the following finding our students generated.  “Dividing the number of hate groups in each state by that state’s population in the 2010 census gives us 3.05479E-06 hate groups per capita in states with a hate crimes law, and 5.34659E-06 hate groups per capita in states without a hate crimes law.  A difference of means test shows that the averages are significantly different, meaning that hate groups are more likely on average to reside in a state without a hate crimes law.”

There’s a risk in making this only about numbers.  “A single death is a tragedy,” said brutal Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.  “A million deaths is a statistic.”  He would know.  If the only thing we did was reduce these tragedies to numbers, we would lose the religious, ethical, and moral rationale for targeting these hate crime perpetrators.  These are crimes against all humanity.

But there’s always the politician, and segment of the community, who won’t budge.  Just treat a “hate crime” like any other crime, they say.  These targets need no “special” law or protection.  It’s assumed that it’s only about protecting “liberal” groups, not realizing that organizations such as the Nation of Islam are also classified as hate groups.

Critics also don’t realize how hate crimes are different from other crimes, the same way terrorism is different from traditional crimes.  The goals of the perpetrators of hate crimes committed by these domestic terrorists are twofold.  They are designed to intimidate part of the population.  But they are also about encouraging that targeted group to retaliate against another group.  Dylann Roof’s plan wasn’t only to kill blacks at a traditional African-American Church in Charleston, South Carolina, another of the five states without a hate crimes law.  It was about encouraging blacks to slaughter whites, to create a race war.  The goal of these hate crimes perpetrators is to put you, not just the minority, at risk.  Let’s take a stand, instead of putting our heads in the sand.  Contact your representatives here (http://www.politics1.com/governor.htm) to make a difference today.J

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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Stillness Speaks, Eckhart Tolle https://likethedew.com/2019/03/20/stillness-speaks-eckhart-tolle/ https://likethedew.com/2019/03/20/stillness-speaks-eckhart-tolle/#respond Wed, 20 Mar 2019 13:47:32 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=70707 When the spirit of the ruler moves against ye, yield not. One might be forgiven for seeking an alternative to the urgings of Ecclesiastes, after beating one's head against the very unyielding obstacle of status quo politics for awhile. It seems only a tiny portion of the electorate recognizes the threat of Fascism, of environmental collapse by nuclear war, climate change or just steady and persistent pollution of the life system, and with overpopulation exacerbating the whole damned thing.

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Warbucks, oil painting by Tom Ferguson (detail)

When the spirit of the ruler moves against ye, yield not. One might be forgiven for seeking an alternative to the urgings of Ecclesiastes, after beating one’s head against the very unyielding obstacle of status quo politics for awhile. It seems only a tiny portion of the electorate recognizes the threat of fascism, of environmental collapse by nuclear war, climate change or just steady and persistent pollution of the life system, and with overpopulation exacerbating the whole damned thing.

Solace is offered, often part of the problem – consumption, what capitalism recommends, or endgame superstition of your favored religion, or a nice hobby. More “spiritual” paths are also available, often leading to thickets of thoughts in the head, in the form of lists of dogma to embrace, heads to shave, foods to avoid, checks to write. Somewhere in there one of these might actually have something.

Stillness Speaks is a collection of aphorisms distributed over ten chapters under headings like, Beyond the Thinking Mind, The Egoic Self, Death and the Eternal… all set forth as pointers, sign-posts, designed to bring one into presence, the here/now. In that state, it is said, one is connected to the intelligence permeating reality as opposed to the confines of egoic mind, and from there (here) one knows what to do. In presence one experiences interconnection, the greater self which is ONE. The feeling is joie de vivre.

In that state of joy, sooner or later, arrives an impulse to creativity and that action, aligned with basic intelligence, will be congruent with what is needed. Possessed by ego one behaves egoically, the great dysfunction of our civilization and its greatest threat. Possessed of presence one behaves in ways respectful of the life system and the ONE life. This is the most powerful form of activism, not advocating or arguing for an ideology but being it. Since the whole physical array can be seen as vibrating frequencies, the specific frequency of presence affects other frequencies more powerfully than clever argument.

This appealing notion tempts – why not try it out since it has become abundantly clear where ego brings us, has brought us. One doesn’t go, in this scenario, to presence to enhance and strengthen one’s point of view. It may be that presence will bring one to conventional activism but the answer to what-to-do will come from connection not from thinking. We might approach the same old opponents with the same old arguments but with a presence that transforms. We also might do something completely different, a possibility if we set aside all preconceptions and get our “instructions” from the connected state.

Ok, so how does one get present? On the first page of the book Tolle states, “The only function of a (spiritual) teacher is to help you remove that which separates you from the truth of who you already are and what you already know in the depth of your being.” A bit later, “… words (the aphorisms) are no more than signposts. That to which they point is not to be found within the realm of thought, but a dimension within yourself that is deeper and infinitely vaster than thought.” Tolle advises putting the book down often, to pause, to reflect, become still. Because the words in this book, “come out of stillness they have the power to take you back into stillness, out of which you arose.” Instead of identifying with the passing personality, we shift to that state.

Focusing on the main task the book puts forth, namely freeing oneself from the prison of obsessive mind chatter and ego, assuming that possible, what is the obstacle? If it is true that mind-chatter dominates almost everyone then, whatever age you are, you have that many years of conditioning to overcome. Changing a lifetime habit is no easy task but if the result is a state of joy, and a chance to significantly contribute to saving the world, well hell, wouldn’t we go for it? Haven’t many religions offered something similar, pie in the sky etc;? I suppose Tolle would say that when these kind of promises were made they were either misunderstood or mere con-artist manipulation, or as in Elmer Gantry, a confused combination of the two. The basic intelligence might be just another wording for God, the joie de vivre another for heaven, pie in the sky – just words, signposts. But in the desperation of our dilemma, where an essentially fascist movement seems to be arising all over the planet and where conventional resistance has shown itself ineffective, well, we might try something else or at least adopt an adjunct strategy. Tolle expresses this polarity saying, “… the dysfunction of the old consciousness and the arising of the new are both accelerating. Paradoxically, things are getting worse and better at the same time, although the worse is more apparent because it makes so much noise.” That’s cute. And a shot of hope.

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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From Rose Hill To Brattonsville https://likethedew.com/2019/03/19/from-rose-hill-to-brattonsville/ https://likethedew.com/2019/03/19/from-rose-hill-to-brattonsville/#respond Tue, 19 Mar 2019 14:52:35 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=70688

Part I: Journey Through Time and Space

Faulkner was right. The past is not past. It’s hiding. Travel some backroads, and if you know where to look, you can find it. I did one cool Saturday in February. My journey unearthed some of South Carolina’s past, a past that’s given us so much history, a history being further examined. I traveled to Rose Hill Plantation State Historic Site and Historic Brattonsville, places that draw back the curtains on a past overlooked by many. Interpreters Nathan and Sara Johnson guided me back to a time seen through a lens called history. I could not have been in better hands. I saw the past up close.

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Part I: Journey Through Time and Space

Faulkner was right. The past is not past. It’s hiding. Travel some backroads, and if you know where to look, you can find it. I did one cool Saturday in February. My journey unearthed some of South Carolina’s past, a past that’s given us so much history, a history being further examined. I traveled to Rose Hill Plantation State Historic Site and Historic Brattonsville, places that draw back the curtains on a past overlooked by many. Interpreters Nathan and Sara Johnson guided me back to a time seen through a lens called history. I could not have been in better hands. I saw the past up close.

Rose Hill Plantation State Historic Site

When you turn off Sardis Road into Rose Hill Plantation, look uphill through old magnolias and you’ll see a plantation home. Closer in, you’ll walk past a 160-year-old rose bush, a glorious thing abloom, a garland of pink roses amid jungle-like greenery. Rose Hill, indeed. You’ll see a log cabin, freestanding kitchen, and tenant home too. More than that, you’ll see the past.

Elements of the Gists’ 1800s garden, including magnolias and boxwoods, surround the historic mansion.

Park Manager Nathan “Nate” Johnson, in his forest green, gleaming brass South Carolina State Park Servce uniform brings protocol to Rose Hill Plantation State Historic Site. Before coming to Rose Hill, Nate was a ranger with the National Park Service at the homes of Frederick Douglass, Mary McLeod Bethune, and Dr. Carter G. Woodson, a fine provenance.

Johnson, proudly wearing his ranger’s hat, delivers a synopsis. “By 1860, Rose Hill was a 2,000-acre cotton plantation. Today, the South Carolina State Park Service protects a 44-acre site at the center of the former plantation. The U.S. Forest Service administers the remaining acreage as part of Sumter National Forest.”

Sara and Nate Johnson

I look around and see thick forests in all directions, but I know that beneath the leaves and among the roots of oaks, walnuts, and pines lies soil where cotton once grew. Nate continues, “As many as 178 people were enslaved at Rose Hill by 1860, making it one of the largest enslaved communities in Union District.”

This history of cotton, slavery, and the plantation’s grandeur resurrect the antebellum era for many, but Johnson knows there’s more to Rose Hill than that. “The site contains significant resources besides the main house. Many of the site’s significant stories happened after the Civil War.” To make his point, he brings up post-Civil War times. “Reconstruction is a richly documented period in Rose Hill’s history that sheds light on the hopes, dreams, needs, and expectations of freedpeople. Labor contracts, censuses, voter registrations, court testimonies, school and church records, and militia enrollments are some of the documents we rely on to tell the story of Reconstruction at Rose Hill.”

Some know Rose Hill as the home of “Secession Governor,” William Henry Gist, the 68th Governor of South Carolina from 1858 to 1860. A leader of the secession movement, he signed the Ordinance of Secession December 20, 1860, breathing official life into the Confederacy. That’s the narrative many are familiar with but history is multifaceted and Rose Hill is no exception. Johnson’s mission is to tell lesser-known Rose Hill stories. Walking the sloping hilltop he explains. “Oral histories from former sharecroppers and tenant families who once lived on the plantation have helped us gain insight into the history of Rose Hill during the early 1900s. Their memories bring to life the landscape, buildings, roadbeds, and archaeological sites around the former plantation. We share their memories with visitors so they feel connected to the site’s history and understand its significance.”

This four-post canopy bed has occupied the Gists’ bedroom at Rose Hill from the 1800s to the present.

I’ve been to Rose Hill twice. I imagine that time when fields of white and green surrounded it. Back then, folks could see clear down to the Tyger River. The past Faulkner referred to hides here but there’s a plan to unearth some of it. Said Johnson, “Archaeology will help us discover more about the past at Rose Hill. We’re preparing for an archaeological survey of the entire 44-acre historic site. Findings from the survey and other projects will provide valuable information that can be incorporated into the site’s reinterpretation.”

Ruins of tenant houses line an old roadbed. “By studying these remains and conducting oral histories with people who once lived in these tenant houses, we are gaining a deeper understanding of the changing landscape and evolving history of the site,” said Johnson.

For the last seventy years, people have interpreted Rose Hill as a secessionist movement shrine or a window into the lifestyle of an upstate planter family. Change is coming. “A recent plan for reinterpretation aims to reinvigorate the site and help it grow,” said Johnson. “Through community outreach, oral history documentation, in-depth research, and archaeological investigations, the South Carolina State Park Service is engaging the public with difficult, yet significant, histories: slavery, Reconstruction, racial violence and terrorism, and the continuous struggle in South Carolina to define freedom, equality, and citizenship.”

To see Rose Hill Plantation is to glimpse another time … Family records tucked into an old Bible. Neck collars resting on a handsome trunk. An old tin tub where folks bathed … the L. Rickets Baltimore piano in the ballroom merits a look. Close your eyes and imagine stately dancing to a minuet from an earlier century, for surely they did. Then there’s the four-poster bed where Gist and the First Lady slept. See the portrait of distant cousin Belle Culp, hair parted down the middle like Alfalfa. Walk into the freestanding kitchen out back … see its spacious twelve-tiered brick fireplace where cooking took place. In a tenant home out back in dim light you’ll see where someone pasted newspaper to the wall to keep out the cold. Look closely and you’ll see a word, “cotton.” Check out the old log cabin where someone patched its wood with mortar. Step back and see what looks like eye of a gator in the woodwork. The imagination gets a workout here.

The Gist family Bible, an 1842 edition, is one of dozens of original artifacts at Rose Hill. Old records have long hidden inside this Bible.

Johnson said Rose Hill’s visitors enjoy the site’s stories. “The site has a long and difficult history that helps us understand the struggle in South Carolina to define freedom, citizenship, and equality. We tell those stories through the perspectives of the Gists, enslaved people, freedpeople, sharecroppers and tenant farmers, as well as their contemporaries. It’s powerful to engage with history where it actually happened.”

The new vision is to become “A plantation that uses its difficult past to help shape a better future.” Thus, the Rose Hill team has been researching Reconstruction and late 19th-early 20th century history at the site to incorporate it into their interpretation. “Part of this research has included conducting oral history interviews with former sharecroppers and community members connected to the history of Rose Hill,” said Johnson.

“We’re preparing for an archaeological survey of the entire site,” said Johnson. “We’re exploring how to open up the tenant house, which has been closed to the public for about fifteen years. We are also having conversations with the U.S. Forest Service, which maintains most of the former plantation as part of Sumter National Forest, about how to interpret and provide access to resources associated with the site, such as a cemetery for people enslaved by the Gists. Many of these projects will enable us and our community to better tell diverse stories of the African-American experience at Rose Hill and surrounding area.”

Visit Rose Hill Plantation. Nate Johnson, park manager, will give you a memorable tour and interpretation. “I establish the park’s vision and set goals so that we can reach park and agency missions. We’re in the process of reinterpreting the site to include all its complex layers of history and memory. Community outreach, collaborating with partners, and raising the park’s profile are at the core of my job. We want to get more people involved with Rose Hill and increase awareness of our site’s relevance for everybody.”

Johnson takes great pride in his work. As a kid, he loved visiting museums and historic sites, along with taking family road trips, reading history books, studying for social studies classes, and listening to elders talk about the past. That fondness for understanding the past lives in him still. “I have always had a strong belief that we can and should learn from our past,” said Johnson. He’s right.

In Part II, Preservation/Restoration Specialist Sara Johnson takes us to Historic Brattonsville.

Journey through time and space. Visit the website for details on planning a trip to Rose Hill. Rose Hill Plantation State Historic Site, 864.427.5966, 2677 Sardis Rd., Union, SC 2937.

From Rose Hill To Brattonsville, Part II: Journey Through Time and Space

In Part I Park Manager Nate Johnson led us through Rose Hill Plantation State Historic Site. In Part II, we visit Historic Brattonsville. With a bit of tailwind, it takes about 54 minutes to drive from Rose Hill to Historic Brattonsville. Not quite 42 miles, the route takes us northeast to Highway 49 through Union, Monarch Mill—by John B. Long Lake—Lockhart, McConnells, and a circuitous route over and around Draper Wildlife Management Area into Historic Brattonsville. Sara Johnson knows this journey well. She drives it five days a week. If you think she’s related to Nate Johnson, you’re close. In 2006, she and Nate worked at the Aiken Rhett House Museum in Charleston. Today they’re married and interpreters of historic sites. For Sara, it’s Historic Brattonsville.

Historic Brattonsville

You won’t find barbed wire or metal post fences on the farm in Historic Brattonsville in York County. You’ll find no anachronisms here. You will find split rail fences in this place where you can step back in time at an 800-acre historical site, one of South Carolina’s most important cultural attractions, part of the York Culture & Heritage Museum.

A split-rail fence fronts the Homestead, ca. 1828. Restoration of the Homestead began in 1975. A year later it was opened to the public.

At the property’s heart is the Brattonsville Historic District (National Register of Historic Places). It features fourteen original buildings dating from the 1760s to the 1880s. The buildings and cultural landscape reflect four generations of Brattons and the people who lived around them.

Preservationist Sara Johnson points out fingerprints in handmade bricks in an original slave house interior.

Sara Johnson works at Brattonsville as the Preservation/Restoration Specialist. It’s a good fit. “I decided when I was 11 that I wanted to be a ‘historic preservationist.’ ” When Sara was in the sixth grade she had to choose a cause to write a persuasive paper for, and she chose to write about the need to preserve old buildings. “I’ve always had a love for old buildings and a particular interest in historic building materials, so I chose to go into architectural conservation where I would be able to work hands-on on historic buildings.”

Well, I’ll say here that Sara loves her work at Brattonsville. She works with Property Manager Joe Mester to oversee the preservation of more than 35 buildings, including original historic structures, historic buildings moved to the site in the 1970s and 80s, as well as reconstructed buildings.

“A lot of what I do is hands-on preservation; work that we do in-house with our preservation team and summer interns to maintain our buildings,” said Sara. As an example, she mentions As an example, she mentions “restoration done on the two original slave buildings including repointing and rebuilding of brickwork.” Sara also performs condition assessments and prepares scopes of work for preservation of Brattonsville’s buildings as well as other historic buildings owned by York Culture & Heritage Museums. She works with architects, engineers, and contractors hired for larger projects like the upcoming restoration of the Brick House.

Dr. John S. Bratton built the Brick House, circa 1843, but died right before its completion. A planter and doctor, Bratton was also a merchant. The Brick House, a combined residential and commercial space, housed the Bratton’s mercantile store, post office, and living space on the first floor. At some point, probably during the 1850s, a wooden frame was added on the back, a bit of a mystery. Why and when was it built?

The Brick House

Let Sara take you back in time as she recounts detailed store records from 1843 to 1847. “Cloth, mostly imported fabrics but also homespun, was the most frequent item purchased. Customers also bought tobacco, pens, paper, soap, spectacles, boards, sugar, 1 lott chinaware, 4 Breakfast Plates, nails, razors, straw hats and bands, buttons, butt hinges, looking glasses, snuff, coffee, teakettles, books (including a catechism and an arithmetic book), kidd slippers, tin buckets, Epsom salts, chamber muggs [sic], pocket knives, saddle blankets, twine & bagging (for cotton) and cologne.”

You get insight into the people’s needs in the 1860s and 1870s as well. From the accounts John S. Bratton, Jr. preserved, it appears that staples (such as molasses, lard, etc.) needed by the recently freed men and women who kept working for the Brattons provided partial payment for work.”

Want more insight into life back then? Records from 1866 list the following items for sale: flax, children’s shoes, soda, paper, a coffee pot; a seine, tobacco, a comb, a hair brush, kerosene; a wash basin, raisins, a soup ladle, a tin pan, a hoop; a water dipper, a boy’s hat, lady’s gloves, soda crackers, candy; mustard, hams, children’s stockings, needles, thread; a handkerchief, a cravat, cheese, mackerel, hose; calico, laudanum, a spelling book, a padlock, bitters, a carpet broom; ginger, cologne, a lamp & wicks, a whetstone, a fine comb; matches, lemonade, a straw hat & band, and a “shaker bonnet.”

In 1885, the Bratton Store moved from the Brick House into a new, freestanding adjacent building built specifically for this purpose. At that time, the Brick House was modified to make it completely residential. New partition walls went up on the first floor and the two doors that provided separate access to the store and private space were bricked in, moving the entrance to the center. The Bratton Store operated out of the freestanding store structure until 1915 when it closed and the last of the Brattons moved from Brattonsville. The building burned in 2004. Only the stone piers and central chimney remain.

In the 1820s most slave cabins were built from logs, John Bratton, however, used brick, a unique departure from typical slave cabin construction. Some thirty years would pass before other plantations built brick slave dwellings. While time eradicated most log slave cabins Brattonsville’s slave cabins endure. No one knows why Dr. John Simpson Bratton built brick cabins in the first place.

This building may have served as a dairy as well as housing for enslaved people. It is one of two original slave buildings that remain.

Among Brattonsville’s twenty-nine structures stands an old corncrib too. You’ll see much here. See the faux grain door, painted for The Patriot. See the extraordinary brick slave cabins. Step into the old smokehouse and inhale fragrances of woodsmoke and salt. See its salted meat.

Great plans are in store for the Brick House. “We are in contract negotiations with a general contractor to undertake the restoration of the building so that it can be opened as a museum space,” said Sara. “Only the first floor of the Brick House will be restored to its appearance from the 1850s through the 1880s. The rest of the building will be stabilized.”

Restoration will include removing partition walls built after the store was moved to the 1885 building, restoring the original configuration of doors and windows related to the store entrance, building custom store cabinetry and paneled counters based on photographs of the originals. A hatch that once led from the store space into the full-height cellar (possibly used for storage of goods) will also be restored.

The store will carry things it would have in the late 1800s, based on receipts and records showing goods sold there. The historic paint colors, based on paint analysis, will be restored throughout the first floor and exterior of the building. A vintage look and feel will only get better.

Brattonsville’s vintage appearance isn’t lost on Revolutionary War re-enactors who stage The Battle of Huck’s Defeat, a Revolutionary War rallying point that eventually led to the King’s Mountain victory. At his own home, William Bratton ambushed Captain Christian Huck and 130 Loyalist cavalry belonging to British Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton’s legion, a dominating defeat.

So, history lives on at Historic Brattonsville. And what might Sara want you to know? “I’d like people to know there will be a lot of exciting changes at Historic Brattonsville in the near future. We’ll open up the Brick House to interpret a part of the Brattonsville history that has not been a major part of the site’s interpretation until now. The Brick House tells the story of the mercantile/commercial side of the Brattonsville community and can better represent the period following the Civil War when the store/post office ran out of the Brick House would have served other farming families nearby as well as the community of tenant farmers that worked for the Brattons during and after Reconstruction.”

Historic Brattonsville. Step back in time with Sara.

Journey through time and space. Visit the websites for details on planning a trip. Historic Brattonsville, http://chmuseums.org/brattonsville/, 803.628.6553, 1444 Brattonsville Rd., McConnells, SC 29726

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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