LikeTheDew.com https://likethedew.com A journal of progressive Southern culture and politics Fri, 29 May 2020 15:51:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.1 https://likethedew.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/cropped-DewLogoSquare825-32x32.png LikeTheDew.com https://likethedew.com 32 32 LikeTheDew.com http://likethedew.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/dew3_mh4feed.png https://likethedew.com 88 31 A journal of progressive Southern culture and politics 110899633 Wyatt, Our ‘New’ Dog https://likethedew.com/2020/05/29/wyatt-our-new-dog/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=wyatt-our-new-dog https://likethedew.com/2020/05/29/wyatt-our-new-dog/#respond Fri, 29 May 2020 15:51:11 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=73733

Four years ago, we laughed when my wife Margaret noticed that we were adopting Wyatt, a “lab-pit mix,” on the Ides of March. We harbored no disrespect for soothsaying, mind you; it’s just that getting a new dog is normally a happy event, not a portent of trouble.

So color us naive. OK, dense; it was a long time before we even noticed the irony of having gotten a three-legged dog from a Pawleys Island rescue shelter named All-4-Paws. But may it please the couzrt: Our thoughts were focused on our “new” dog, nothing else.

Heck, it didn’t even matter to us that Wyatt, less than a year old then, was already a two-time loser, having flunked two “trial” adoptions with his “put it where the sun don’t shine” attitude toward two of his four prospective parents, both of them the husband. Toward me and Margaret, his attitude was, “Thank heaven, you finally got here. What kept you?”

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Wyatt, our celebrity, death defying lab-pit mix

Four years ago, we laughed when my wife Margaret noticed that we were adopting Wyatt, a “lab-pit mix,” on the Ides of March. We harbored no disrespect for soothsaying, mind you; it’s just that getting a new dog is normally a happy event, not a portent of trouble.

So color us naive. OK, dense; it was a long time before we even noticed the irony of having gotten a three-legged dog from a Pawleys Island rescue shelter named All-4-Paws. But may it please the couzrt: Our thoughts were focused on our “new” dog, nothing else.

Heck, it didn’t even matter to us that Wyatt, less than a year old then, was already a two-time loser, having flunked two “trial” adoptions with his “put it where the sun don’t shine” attitude toward two of his four prospective parents, both of them the husband. Toward me and Margaret, his attitude was, “Thank heaven, you finally got here. What kept you?”

Well, what had “kept” us was the same thing that keeps a lot of people from getting a new dog: We were still mourning the death of another dog, a red nose Pitbull named ‘Dro, short for Pedro, so named because Mother Nature had blessed him with a banditto mask across his soulful eyes, the better to steal hearts, and a lovable disposition that made you forget about pressing charges for the theft.

Wyatt, our celebrity, death defying lab-pit mix
Wyatt

But that was then, November 2015, and this was now: March 2016. We had seen Wyatt’s picture on the animal shelter’s website, looked him over from afar and up close, thought about it overnight, prayed for ‘Dro’s forgiveness, and made up our minds: Wyatt’s the one.

What we little suspected at the time was that the ages-old warning, “Beware the Ides of March,” might well have been addressed to the dog, not to his new owners. He had barely settled in at his new home before we had to rush him to an emergency vet in Myrtle Beach, where he was diagnosed with pneumonia. Worse, the vet gave him only a 50-50 chance to pull through.

In fairness to All-4-Paws, we don’t think that Wyatt was sick when we got him. What we did begin to think, and soon, was that Wyatt was lucky to be alive, even with only a 50-50 chance of surviving his first year. Here’s why:

We learned little by little that Wyatt had endured a brush with death even before we got him. He had been found one icy day in Loris, SC, a town up the road a ways from Pawleys Island, by a couple who noticed buzzards circling behind their barn.

Curious, the man went searching and saw a puppy apparently frozen to death. Thinking to save him at least from the buzzards, he pried the pup from the frozen ground to dispose of him in a nearby trash can. But on the way to an ignominious end, the buzzards’ frozen dinner moved! Wyatt was alive!

His next stop, after a gee-whiz appearance on local TV, was at All-4-Paws, and you already know how he got from there to our house, in Pawleys Island. The story made the local news — TV and weeklies.

Wyatt also beat his pneumonia! Still we couldn’t help but notice a foreboding score for so young a pup: Wyatt 2, Grim Reaper (and buzzards) 0. The saying, “Three strikes and you’re out,” also crossed our minds. But the operative word in “narrow escape” is “escape.”

Next we discovered that Wyatt was famous! Often while walking a recovering pneumonia victim around the grounds of the Tidelands Waccamaw Community Hospital in Murrells Inlet, we were brought up short several times by passersby who hailed us with laughter and surprise and a jovial, “Is that Wyatt?” They had seen him and his story on TV.

Moving right along, at 35 miles per hour to be exact, barely a month later Wyatt tumbled out the right-rear window of our car onto the the always-busy Highway 17, AKA Ocean Highway, which from Georgetown to Myrtle Beach is a race track. And this spring Friday afternoon was no exception.

Riding shotgun, I heard a commotion behind me and turned to my wife, who was driving, and exclaimed in horror and disbelief, “Did Wyatt just go out the window?”

“No way!” she said, but she was already pulling over, eyes glued to the rear-view mirror.

Indeed, Wyatt had leaned out too far and fallen out the window. “Ass over tea kettle,” as my late sainted grandmother would have said.

As the car stopped rolling, I jumped out and ran back to see about him. Luckily, it appeared he had landed at least in part on the grassy shoulder of the road and, though dazed, seemed all right — or would be if I could get to him before he wandered back onto the busy highway as cars flew by.

From then on, I began to think of him as half cat. Or maybe all cat. Whichever, now he had used up three of his putative nine lives in the first few months of his young life. No wonder we thought he was snake-bit.

Speak of the Devil! One night a few months later, he kept us awake by whimpering, this from a dog that normally could give sleep lessons to Morpheus. At the 2Animal Hospital of South Carolina next morning, we found out that Wyatt had indeed been bitten by a snake!

“Big one, too,” said the vet, Dr. Matthew Stone, pointing to the width between two fang marks he had found on Wyatt’s leg.

The snake must not have been poisonous, but — brace yourself — the doctor’s examination revealed that Wyatt had lymphedema in his right rear leg. Moreover, it was a birth defect, was incurable, would worsen with age, and would render him basically a three-legged dog for life.

How much worse could this get!

Well, we all know that Fate is fickle, but in Wyatt’s case she did a complete about-face. And wouldn’t you know it was a woman’s touch that did it? Notoriously aloof, Wyatt fell so hard for Margaret that he began to give her what I called “his love stare.”

And the relationship became a two-way street.

“I can read his mind,” Margaret said. “He’s thinking, ‘Hey, I’ve got my own food bowl, my own water bowl, my own bed! And around here I am somebody! Life ain’t so bad, after all.’” And my wife delivers this glowing prognosis while stroking his beautiful blond coat and his crippled leg. All the while, Wyatt looks mesmerized with contentment, and even a tad smug.

Jackson, our other dog, a beautiful blue nose Pitbull, dressed all the time in the evening wear characteristic of the breed, i.e. a tuxedo
Jackson

Jackson, our other dog, doesn’t seem to mind. A beautiful blue nose Pitbull, dressed all the time in the evening wear characteristic of the breed, i.e. a tuxedo, Jackson is nowhere near as needy as Wyatt. Besides he has seniority and knows it. We’ve had him since he was a pup. He’s now eight, and Wyatt is only four (as of the Ides of March, 2020).

They get along famously, though as different from each other as, well, purebred and half-breed can be. For instance, on beach walks Jackson sticks to the shore. Hey, water is for drinking! Wyatt, however, believes water is best for plunging into and riding the waves — sort of like life as he’s known it so far. Yippy! Jackson is as sweet a dog as you could find anywhere; Wyatt remains essentially aloof, and he can do Attitude better than any canine I’ve even seen. To wit:

I took him recently to get a shot and a once-over that included ye olde rectal check. Usually on veterinary visits, he comes back into the waiting room, happy to see me there. But this time, he sailed right past me, ignoring me except for shooting me a look of betrayal that said as clearly as looks can speak: “I’ll get you for this, Bob.”

Now for a final piece of irony. We adopted Wyatt to replace ‘Dro, but we did not expect him to be another ‘Dro. No way. Wouldn’t be fair to either dog. And probably not possible anyhow. Nevertheless, Wyatt is as much a one of a kind canine as ‘Dro was, and we love him just as much. He even excels Dro in two things, the aforementioned Attitude with a capital A, for one.

The other, thank Heaven, is a total disregard of thunderstorms. They terrified ‘Dro. And he could not be mollified except by the storm’s subsiding. Wyatt, on the, uh, other paw, pays them no mind. And why should he? Before he was even two years old, he’d already been through Hell and half of Kansas — and survived.

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Time to be Alive https://likethedew.com/2020/05/27/time-to-be-alive/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=time-to-be-alive https://likethedew.com/2020/05/27/time-to-be-alive/#respond Wed, 27 May 2020 15:42:23 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=73686

A gentle rain fell on this cool, late-spring day and two geese moved in the creek that glides through Homewood Park. Up the creek, and then back down. Silent. Only a slow wake marking their time with the water.

Ann and I had the time to eat a picnic lunch in our car and watch the geese and the creek and listen to the rain because the Novel Coronavirus quieted the clamor of our important daily lives.

We are fortunate to be able to work from the safety of home, so our experience of the last few months has not been as difficult as it could have been. We miss being together with our families and hugging grandchildren. We miss being with our friends at church and teaching Sunday School for five-year-olds. We miss visiting with the good people at all the small local places – Devinci’s, Diplomat Deli, Ranch House, Golden Rule, Savages and Demetri’s. This disruption has been jarring.

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A gentle rain fell on this cool, late-spring day and two geese moved in the creek that glides through Homewood Park. Up the creek, and then back down. Silent. Only a slow wake marking their time with the water.

Ann and I had the time to eat a picnic lunch in our car and watch the geese and the creek and listen to the rain because the Novel Coronavirus quieted the clamor of our important daily lives.

We are fortunate to be able to work from the safety of home, so our experience of the last few months has not been as difficult as it could have been. We miss being together with our families and hugging grandchildren. We miss being with our friends at church and teaching Sunday School for five-year-olds. We miss visiting with the good people at all the small local places – Devinci’s, Diplomat Deli, Ranch House, Golden Rule, Savages and Demetri’s. This disruption has been jarring.

It started for us in early March when we watched from the car as our son and daughter-in-law picked out dresses and shoes from Jack n Jill and Sykes that the children would not be able to wear to church on Easter. Evelyn, with the wisdom only a three-year-old can possess, said to her one-year-old sister, Mallory: “Granny and Poppy are trapped in the car.” So different than when we bought another granddaughter, Caroline, her first Easter dress there 10 years ago.

Days slipped away and we often found ourselves confused and angry. It was like breaking any habit, I suppose. But we started building small things into our lives. We began streaming excellent Bible studies and services from Trinity United Methodist Church. We can no longer go inside Devinci’s on Wednesday nights so they drop a pizza in our trunk that we carry home to eat. The same with our other haunts where we have come to know the proprietors. This separation is difficult, but these kindnesses provide their own depth of community.

Bread, cookies, coffee cake from Savage’s. Meat from Mr. P’s. Barbecue from Golden Rule. We even have a new friend who does most of our Shipt-shopping for us. She found some excellent Easter candy and of course we shared some of our marshmallow eggs with her. We were unable to get disinfectant wipes for several weeks, so she gave us some of hers.

We visit with Evelyn and Mallory from the car and leave them treats hidden around the yard. We ache to hold them, but we have fun. Every Sunday night we have a Zoom meeting with children and grandchildren from Auburn to Philadelphia.

Ann and I play cards and talk. It occurred to us that in our nearly 40 years of marriage we have never spent this much time together. And so this virus and its deadly consequences has given us something we could not have imagined in our earlier busy lives – space within our time.

I have started planting and taking care of flowers and herbs on our deck and sunroom. It no longer seems like work. I tear mint leaves and drop them in to brew with the tea bags. Potatoes get fresh chives.

We are separate from friends and family, but closer in many ways than before. We “visit” like my grandparents did on Sundays. Just spending time. We leave cookies on porches to let folks know we are thinking about them. We even drag up chairs to sit in friends’ yards to talk from a distance and the time seems precious.

There is beauty in pace. Not leisure, but space to expand into the spring air, into the world where we actually live, the world outside our minds. There is danger in this world, but there is sun, birdsong and breeze. There is time to turn off the TV, open the doors and listen. Time to walk outside and gaze at the trees, the bees and the blooming flowers. Time to stand in the itchy grass in the heat and humidity of our South. Time to be alive in this living world.

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Signed, Sealed, Delivered https://likethedew.com/2020/05/27/signed-sealed-delivered/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=signed-sealed-delivered https://likethedew.com/2020/05/27/signed-sealed-delivered/#respond Wed, 27 May 2020 14:59:06 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=73678

Voting by mail could be dangerous, according to Donald Trump, but as with so many things he says and tweets he's wrong, but in an odd way, he's also right. I say that as someone who filed an absentee ballot for the first time in my long voting career. This is embarrassing to admit, but I found out that I am an uninformed voter - like the many, many voters in the elections I have covered as a reporter. Before I get into that, let's deal with the questions Trump has raised.

Complaint: It results in fraud. Fact: There have been few examples of actual voter fraud in the history of voting. Oddly, one of the few examples of fraud involved a Republican race in North Carolina.

Complaint: It will help Democrats and hurt Republicans. Fact: Higher income Republicans did vote absentee more than lower income Democrats in the past. But Trump's appeal to lower income, less educated Republicans means that group is expected to result in more such votes than in the past.

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Voting by mail could be dangerous, according to Donald Trump, but as with so many things he says and tweets he’s wrong, but in an odd way, he’s also right. I say that as someone who filed an absentee ballot for the first time in my long voting career. This is embarrassing to admit, but I found out that I am an uninformed voter – like the many, many voters in the elections I have covered as a reporter. Before I get into that, let’s deal with the questions Trump has raised.

Complaint: It results in fraud
Fact: There have been few examples of actual voter fraud in the history of voting. Oddly, one of the few examples of fraud involved a Republican race in North Carolina.

Complaint: It will help Democrats and hurt Republicans.
Fact: Higher income Republicans did vote absentee more than lower income Democrats in the past. But Trump’s appeal to lower income, less educated Republicans means that group is expected to result in more such votes than in the past.

Mr. Trump may be dismayed to find out that voting by mail or absentee ballots is proving popular and being used by Secretaries of State in both Republican and Democratic states. In Georgia, there has been a record 1.4 Million absentee ballots provided in a state with 7.2 Million registered voters. If you’re confused about the difference between absentee ballots and mail voting, you’re not alone. Absentee ballots and voting by mail are basically the same. The difference is that some states require excused absentee ballots — as in you’re unable to vote in person, while others just say you can vote absentee by mail.

Back to my point: My “Official Absentee/ Provisional/ Emergency Ballot” from Georgia had 11 partisan races, 13 non-partisan races and six party questions on the ballot for the Democratic Party primary. I should say, for the record, I have been registered Independent my entire journalism career, and I have voted for both Republicans and Democrats. I only got this ballot by default.

Let me do another aside. The six “party questions” were somewhere between facile and funny. The questions were along the line of the old joke questions: Does a bear poop in the woods? Is the Pope Catholic? EG:

Question: Should Georgians work to stop climate change and listen to the scientific community? Proposed Answer: No, let’s all just move to Mars.

Question: Should every eligible Georgian be allowed to register to vote? Proposed answer: No, they should have to pass an IQ test first.

Anyway, sarcasm over, you get the point. There were four more questions like those. Now, back to my point:

I, of course, knew all the candidates for president even though there is now only one ‘real’ choice. I knew ‘of’ the two Democratic candidates for the House seat, but although I knew of them, I didn’t know details. Warning sign – number one. And I was familiar with four of the seven candidates for U.S. Senate. Ding. Ding. That was my second warning sign. I only knew four of the seven. It got worse.

I didn’t know anything about the two candidates for Public Service Commissioner. I didn’t know anything about the four candidates for the two seats as Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia. And, frankly, I didn’t know much about many of the candidates for the various offices in which there was only one contender. Sixteen of the seats were uncontested. So, you could either scratch the box or ignore them.

That’s what I would have done in the past. Not this time. I decided I needed to educate myself. It took much longer than I expected and, as I said at the start, I found out just how uninformed I was. One of the legislative candidates was basically a professional politician. Nope. Won’t mark that tab. One of the court candidates was endorsed and supported by The Federalist Society which warns against the “orthodox liberal ideology.” No way, I’m voting for her.

And, no, I’m not going to tell you which is which. Do what I did, please. Before you make that letter “signed, sealed and delivered,” make sure that you have really signed off on them before sealing your commitment and making sure they will deliver on what you believe in.

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Philosophy as Theology for Adults https://likethedew.com/2020/05/27/philosophy-as-theology-for-adults/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=philosophy-as-theology-for-adults https://likethedew.com/2020/05/27/philosophy-as-theology-for-adults/#respond Wed, 27 May 2020 14:00:00 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=73679

The title, deliberately provocative or just kidding, speaks to the difference between the two disciplines. The former trying to figure things out. The latter assuming Christianity or whichever favored religion, has it already figured out and the object is to figure that out.

In other words philosophy seeks to penetrate mystery through reason. Theology through the structure of an existing (sacred?) text or mythology. Both exercise intuition and imagination but one in a more constricted language.

Superficially, theology seems, as the title teases, the lesser vehicle because it excludes and assumes so much. But going deeper the difference may dissolve and amounts to merely a personal preference for a certain kind of language. Theology deals with concepts like sin and the soul and philosophy uses ethics and consciousness. You could say that by the soul, theology means consciousness, that by struggling with ethical dilemmas philosophy examines sin...

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The title, deliberately provocative or just kidding, speaks to the difference between the two disciplines. The former trying to figure things out. The latter assuming Christianity or whichever favored religion, has it already figured out and the object is to figure that out.

In other words philosophy seeks to penetrate mystery through reason. Theology through the structure of an existing (sacred?) text or mythology. Both exercise intuition and imagination but one in a more constricted language.

Feature: Capitalist, Climate, Military, Nuke Threats vs The Activisit

Superficially, theology seems, as the title teases, the lesser vehicle because it excludes and assumes so much. But going deeper the difference may dissolve and amounts to merely a personal preference for a certain kind of language. Theology deals with concepts like sin and the soul and philosophy uses ethics and consciousness. You could say that by the soul, theology means consciousness, that by struggling with ethical dilemmas philosophy examines sin. Theology concerns itself with salvation, philosophy with awareness. In this notion of equivalence the creation of the world by Godis a metaphorical phrasing of the big bang and the void out of which it sprang. One could argue, I would, that philosophy carries less baggage to obscure the project but others might find that theology works for them. Whatever gets you through the night, whatever it takes to arrive at enlightenment, salvation or presence. A rose by any other name.

Fundamentalist religion and philosophy continue this equivalence, or deny it, on a “lower” level where adherents, “believers” and “atheists”, dismiss each other as delusional. The rub is that on this level one can get hurt. Inquisitions, interrogation, prison, torture and execution seem to flourish to the degree that intolerance, fear and ego rule. Democracy has evolved as a hopeful way to steer clear of violence and domination by allowing citizen input into what sort of system we will live in and providing non-violent conflict resolution apparatus, the courts for example, for settling differences. The uncompromising fundamentalist forces, like the in-your-face Michigan militia and the billionaire’s funding them, make this difficult. History could be seen as an on-going struggle between these factions, democracy and authoritarianism.

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Workers have no party or safe harbor during the pandemic https://likethedew.com/2020/05/25/workers-have-no-party-or-safe-harbor-during-the-pandemic/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=workers-have-no-party-or-safe-harbor-during-the-pandemic https://likethedew.com/2020/05/25/workers-have-no-party-or-safe-harbor-during-the-pandemic/#respond Mon, 25 May 2020 19:30:14 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=73671 I remember being very impressed with the young senator from Illinois as he spoke at the 2005 AFL-CIO national convention in Chicago about the dignity of the worker and the bold history of the labor movement in this country.

“They could have accepted their lot in life or waited for someone else to save them,” Barack Obama told the crowd of thousands. “Through their actions they risked life and living. They chose to act. In time, they won. … It started with hope, and it ended with the fulfillment of a long-held ideal. A humble band of laborers against an industrial giant – an unlikely triumph against the greatest odds – a story as American as any.”

A few years later, as Obama became president, he saw those promises and dreams plunge into the abyss of the Great Recession as countless workers lost their homes and their livelihood. So what did the nation’s first African American president do? He assembled an all-star Wall Street insider group of advisers—Larry Summers, Timothy Geithner, Rahm Emanuel--to help him guide American Business back to safe harbor. Banks were too big to fail, and corporate bailouts were the order of the day.

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OXFORD, Miss. – I remember being very impressed with the young senator from Illinois as he spoke at the 2005 AFL-CIO national convention in Chicago about the dignity of the worker and the bold history of the labor movement in this country.

“They could have accepted their lot in life or waited for someone else to save them,” Barack Obama told the crowd of thousands. “Through their actions they risked life and living. They chose to act. In time, they won. … It started with hope, and it ended with the fulfillment of a long-held ideal. A humble band of laborers against an industrial giant – an unlikely triumph against the greatest odds – a story as American as any.”

A few years later, as Obama became president, he saw those promises and dreams plunge into the abyss of the Great Recession as countless workers lost their homes and their livelihood. So what did the nation’s first African American president do? He assembled an all-star Wall Street insider group of advisers – Larry Summers, Timothy Geithner, Rahm Emanuel – to help him guide American business back to safe harbor. Banks were too big to fail, and corporate bailouts were the order of the day.

As for those laborers whose praises Obama sang in Chicago, they got no bailouts and they struggled as best they could to survive.

Working class people in America today really have no safe harbor, even in a pandemic that has real unemployment hovering around 20 percent, the highest since the Great Depression. The Republican Party, as always, looks at them with deep suspicion that they’re all either freeloaders or potential freeloaders who want an easy ride on the back of the billionaire class that funds the GOP and the journalists and preachers who use their podiums to teach obedience.

In the White House is a renegade Republican who talked the talk to working people on the campaign trail but who never walked the walk. He serves the bosses, not the people who work under them. He orders meatpackers and poultry workers back to work but says nothing to the owners to make sure the workplace is safe. He even promised those owners protection from liability. Like your typical cookie cutter Republican, he is contemptuous of government oversight and safety regulations.

During the administrations of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson, workers could turn to the Democratic Party as a loyal ally. However, the party largely abandoned the working class after the 1960s and became the party of identity politics where one’s race, gender, and sexual orientation, not class, are paramount to one’s identity.

Obama and his vice president, Joe Biden, who now will lead the party in this year’s presidential election (among his likely advisers is Obama’s old hand Larry Summers), liked to boast their credentials as men of the people, but they led a party too beholden to its corporate donors and too bereft of a true uniting vision to speak to regular folks any more. That’s why many of those folks, out of desperation, turned to the empty promises of the demagogue who now occupies the White House. At least he offered them the illusion of a promise, certainly more than what Bill and Hillary Clinton ever offered.

Bernie Sanders was a ray of hope to working people, but he has largely joined the party machinery since his abdication. Perhaps he tired of being an outsider in the millionaires club that the U.S. Senate still is.

The current pandemic has exposed the ugliness of the American economy, where workers depend on the management class for their health insurance, which those workers lose when they lose their jobs.  Income inequality is at a 50-year high in the United States, which Donald Trump loved to boast as the world’s greatest economy before this coronavirus landed on our shores.

This is a nation where the prison system has become the world’s largest gulag, and struggling minorities and immigrants sit in its barbaric cells for months, even years, before they can receive a semblance of justice. Watch as those prisoners become an increasingly popular source of cheap labor. That’s what happened when sanitation workers in New Orleans went on strike earlier this month to protest their $10.25-an-hour average wages and unsafe working conditions during the pandemic. They were fired and replaced by prison inmates making $1.33 an hour.

Still more and more workers are rising up. Teamsters are once again revolting against the Hoffa dynasty that has compromised the union’s mission as a voice for laboring people. Smithfield Foods workers have protested the lack of safety measures in their jobs.

“At the edge of despair, in the shadow of hopelessness, ordinary people make the extraordinary decision that if we stand together, we rise together,” Obama told the crowd that day in Chicago in 2005. “And we do.”

He was right. Obama was always good at speeches. He told the truth, a lived truth and the only hope for American workers, and they don’t need a politician to tell them that it is true.

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Memorial Day Rethought https://likethedew.com/2020/05/25/memorial-day-rethought/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=memorial-day-rethought https://likethedew.com/2020/05/25/memorial-day-rethought/#respond Mon, 25 May 2020 14:10:28 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=73662

It was 35 years ago that, as a man of 34, I ventured forth to commit my first felony. 

I had put my affairs in order. I had made certain my sons were going to be fine. I switched the deed to my 40 acres and my solar cabin to my father. I had walked my 40, along the river, along the field, and into the woods. I hugged my old golden birch trees, Betula alleghaniensis, and my large Norway pines and white pines. I got down on my knees and lowered my face directly into the ground cover bryophytes that beckoned.

Ronald Reagan was playing nuclear chicken with Leonid Brezhnev, ramping up offensive, first-strike capacities in the US arsenal, which were highly destabilizing. The Pershing II missiles were new and deployed in Europe, with a radically reduced flight time to Moscow of just 5-7 minutes. Nuclear weapons on cruise missiles took longer but were virtually stealth, programmed to fly low, under radar, making the Soviet defenses highly nervous. 

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It was 35 years ago that, as a man of 34, I ventured forth to commit my first felony. 

Let Us Beat Swords into Plowshares, sculpture by Yevgeny Vuchetich - 1959 gift of the Soviet Union to the United Nations - garden of the United Nations Headquarters in New York City
Let Us Beat Swords into Plowshares, sculpture by Yevgeny Vuchetich – 1959 gift of the Soviet Union to the United Nations – garden of the United Nations Headquarters in New York City (Neptuul/CC)

I had put my affairs in order. I had made certain my sons were going to be fine. I switched the deed to my 40 acres and my solar cabin to my father. I had walked my 40, along the river, along the field, and into the woods. I hugged my old golden birch trees, Betula alleghaniensis, and my large Norway pines and white pines. I got down on my knees and lowered my face directly into the ground cover bryophytes that beckoned.

Ronald Reagan was playing nuclear chicken with Leonid Brezhnev, ramping up offensive, first-strike capacities in the US arsenal, which were highly destabilizing. The Pershing II missiles were new and deployed in Europe, with a radically reduced flight time to Moscow of just 5-7 minutes. Nuclear weapons on cruise missiles took longer but were virtually stealth, programmed to fly low, under radar, making the Soviet defenses highly nervous. 

Just five years earlier, the King of Prussia Plowshares group had shown the way. They entered a General Electric plant and grabbed a Mark 12-A warhead and symbolically but really “hammered swords into plowshares” (Isaiah 2:4). It was electrifying to those of us who were working for peace and disarmament of the most unsoldierly weapons ever built, nuclear bombs.

As a Dad, it took me several years to craft my life to be able to do a Plowshares action, that is, an act of direct disarmament, literally using hand tools to dismantle or disable a weapon of war. 

In the meanwhile, others worked to oppose these godawful weapons and I joined them. Committed peace activists in Michigan refused to allow the construction of a thermonuclear command center there without nonviolent resistance. I joined them. We pulled survey stakes along a 56-mile route through portions of four state forests in the Upper Peninsula, a route planned for the antenna that would transmit commands to all US nuclear submarines, possibly the order to launch hydrogen bombs. 

We were resonating with “da Yoopers,” the folks from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, who, in 1978 referenda in all eight counties in the UP, voted 80 percent against having this facility built. That is a landslide. That is a mandate. 

But when Reagan was elected he broke the democratic promise and ordered the command center built. 

So we resisted. 

Despite our weekly efforts (led by two nuns and a priest) pulling survey stakes, the Navy got the command base built. So, on Memorial Day, 1985, I took my hand tools and dismantled some of it, went to my buddies in Marquette, Michigan for beer and pizza, and the next morning I turned myself in. 

I was convicted of a felony but the judge barely slapped my wrist. I frankly was afraid of the harsh sentence just handed down to my friends who did the same thing at a missile site in Missouri, and they were sentenced to 18 years in prison. 

I was fortunate. My judge was not inclined to send me away for more than a couple weeks or so. I did nothing compared to the original Plowshares resisters. But in the great sweep of American history of such activities, I was at least paying up more than Henry David Thoreau, who wrote the iconic essay on his war tax resistance, Civil Disobedience. He spent all of one night in jail.

So, to me, Memorial Day will always be a peace holiday. It should commemorate the hundreds of millions who did not die from thermonuclear warfare this year. May we be so lucky until next Memorial Day.

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Most Transparent President? https://likethedew.com/2020/05/25/most-transparent-president/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=most-transparent-president https://likethedew.com/2020/05/25/most-transparent-president/#respond Mon, 25 May 2020 12:23:39 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=73658

"There has never been, ever before, an administration that’s been so open and transparent.”; “I’m the most transparent President, probably in the history of this country” -Trump

President Trump has stated similar things at various times. Obviously, he either totally believes what he said or is unconcerned about misstating the facts, not a rare occurrence in this Administration. Here’s a very brief description of Trump’s historical relationship with the concept of transparency:

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“There has never been, ever before, an administration that’s been so open and transparent.”; “I’m the most transparent President, probably in the history of this country”

Donald John Trump

President Trump has stated similar things at various times. Obviously, he either totally believes what he said or is unconcerned about misstating the facts, not a rare occurrence in this Administration. Here’s a very brief description of Trump’s historical relationship with the concept of transparency:

COVID-19
Trump has repeatedly stated the exact opposite of what was being told to him behind closed doors. For example, he says that China should have notified us about the Coronavirus “3 or 4 months sooner”. China released information about COVID-19 in December. Almost immediately, US health and intelligence organizations began telling the administration that the virus was a danger to our nation. Trump and GOP leadership ignored or minimized the danger until it became so obvious that the stock market crashed in March. Only then did Trump acknowledge the pandemic, and even then, he downplayed its length and severity, wavering on containment measures. He continues to hide negative information from the public, attacking reporters rather than answering questions in briefings.

Removing Five Inspector Generals
Inspector Generals (IGs) are the non-partisan internal watchdogs who make sure that Federal Government programs are administered legally and ethically ensuring that there’s no fraud or malfeasance. In the last few months, Trump has terminated or transferred the IGs for Intelligence, Defense, Health and Human Services, Transportation and the State Department simply for doing their jobs and accurately reporting abuse and waste in this administration. Removing them is the opposite of transparency.

 Taxes
When he ran for office, Trump stated that he would release his taxes after an audit was complete. It’s been nearly 4 years and we have yet to see his taxes. All other Presidents in the modern era have released their returns. What is Trump hiding? There are many possibilities, among them he: a. pays no federal taxes; b. has had shady dealings with Russian oligarchs, the Saudis and others; c. is not nearly as wealthy as he has stated; d. has paid countless people to refrain from revealing negative secrets about his personal life and financial dealings; e. has given very little to charity and/or f. has stopped many cases against him by paying off the litigants in back room deals.

Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs)
Per an article in the Atlantic, the Trump campaign’s nondisclosure agreement stated that the NDA applied to anything that “Mr. Trump insists remain private or confidential” and was applicable “during the term of your service” and “at all times thereafter.” And, all staff and volunteers were forced to sign.

Closed Settlements
Going back many decades, Trump has engaged in closed settlements. For example, the Trump organization entered into two such settlements with NYC regarding allegations of housing discrimination.

Open settlements
The Trump University lawsuit (and settlement) in 2016 was brought by people alleging “Trump University is more like an infomercial, selling non-accredited products, such as sales workshops, luring customers in with the name and reputation of its founder and Chairman, billionaire land mogul Donald J. Trump.” Trump settled.

Firing James Comey
Trump fired Comey directly due to the FBI probe of alleged collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. Doing so had the effect of curtailing the FBI’s efforts to discover the truth, the opposite of transparency. 

Ukraine and Russia
In reality versus “Trump world”, Trump blocked most people with direct knowledge of his statements and actions regarding the Ukraine and Russia from testifying to either Mueller or Congress. That includes the most relevant witness, himself.

Release of Documents
Trump’s policy has been to release classified documents which help him personally while not sharing others which might hurt him, including during the Mueller and House investigations. There can be no such thing as “selective” transparency.

Visitor Logs
Trump hides the names of those he meets with, as opposed to President Obama who really was transparent.

Attacks on the Free Press
No other administration in memory has been as negative as this President towards the free press. At every opportunity, he has lambasted largely accurate reporting for being biased. He has even criticized his favorite news network, Fox, when it has not been positive enough towards him.

Charges for Secret Service at Trump Properties
The Bush’s didn’t charge for the Secret Service at their properties. Trump says that he charges next to nothing. But, as usual with this President, that just isn’t true. In fact, the Secret Service is being charged up to $650 a night at Mar Lago. The total for security for the family almost certainly runs much more than the $120 million originally budgeted in 2017. Again, due to lack of transparency, we may never know.

Is this President really as transparent as he states?  Read the above and judge for yourself while you’re quarantined for COVID-19, a virus that up until recently Trump said was a minor inconvenience and someday would just vanish.

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Crisis yields some good news for planet, neighbors https://likethedew.com/2020/05/19/crisis-yields-some-good-news-for-planet-neighbors/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=crisis-yields-some-good-news-for-planet-neighbors https://likethedew.com/2020/05/19/crisis-yields-some-good-news-for-planet-neighbors/#respond Tue, 19 May 2020 13:06:35 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=73641

Buried beneath the headlines of coronavirus doom and gloom, you can still find a little good news.

Case in point: Renewable energy produced in the U.S. this year may yield more electricity than power that comes from coal-fired plants for the first time ever. Why? Because more people are at home and businesses have been empty, drained by people hunkering down in the pandemic.

“In just the first four and a half months of this year, America’s fleet of wind turbines, solar panels and hydroelectric dams have produced more electricity than coal on 90 separate days — shattering last year’s record of 38 days for the entire year,” according to The New York Times on May 14.

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Buried beneath the headlines of coronavirus doom and gloom, you can still find a little good news.

Case in point: Renewable energy produced in the U.S. this year may yield more electricity than power that comes from coal-fired plants for the first time ever. Why? Because more people are at home and businesses have been empty, drained by people hunkering down in the pandemic.

“In just the first four and a half months of this year, America’s fleet of wind turbines, solar panels and hydroelectric dams have produced more electricity than coal on 90 separate days — shattering last year’s record of 38 days for the entire year,” according to The New York Times on May 14.

Wow. That’s a big deal. But it’s been coming for awhile, said Eddy Moore, who directs the energy and climate program at the S.C. Coastal Conservation League.

“This transformation has been happening for a decade or more,” he said. “Renewable energy has now become cheaper than fossil fuel and the challenges of variability are being solved on a large scale.”

A May 11 report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows coal-fired electricity generation dropped 16 percent to the lowest level since 1976 as power generation from natural gas-fired plants and wind turbines reached new records.

“We are past the tipping point and the change is accelerating. In South Carolina, this means there is a real chance to dramatically reduce carbon pollution and the unhealthy smog that goes along with it without increased cost—even with reduced cost. The environment, health and the economy all can get better. The smart money will ride this wave, not fight it.”

But the news gets even better in the Palmetto State because the General Assembly this week approved, as part of a budget deal, the closure of another coal-fired power plant at Santee Cooper. And as a bonus, lawmakers included language to allow a solar energy expansion to supply more than 50,000 customers, Moore said.

“This was done as a cost-saving measure because the old coal plants are inefficient,” he said. “This will continue our trend towards cleaner air, even after the economy ramps back up. Over the next year, we hope to see similar cost-saving coal retirement plans at other South Carolina utilities, which will make our air healthier to breathe.”

The pandemic has frustrated students and parents, who discovered they’d actually prefer to be in school or at work rather than be stuck in the house. But global shutdowns have also given a breather to the earth. Satellite imagery shows polluted air has been swept away as fewer cars jam roads. Coastal towns, like Venice, have seen waters become clearer and aquatic life return because massive cruise liners aren’t churning the sea bed.

The resilience of the planet is also found socially, despite some who protest shutdowns like armed political robots. Most people just seem to endure with more kindness. Folks are friendlier when they walk their dogs. Seamstresses pulled out sewing machines to make cloth masks, while students and volunteers produced high-tech equivalents on 3-D printers. Neighbors collect money to buy pizzas and protective gear for first responders.

It’s not necessarily a gentler world. By next week, coronavirus will be responsible for the deaths of more Americans than the 94,000 who died in the Korean and Vietnam wars.

But at home, it’s kinder. Just read the heartening story of how a group of Greenwood musicians, unable to perform in the many venues around town, decided to share their talents by performing a classic, Don McLean’s “American Pie” and splitting donations.

As reported in the Greenwood Index-Journal by executive editor Richard Whiting, McLean gave his blessing for the singers and musicians to make a new recording of his classic: “I can’t imagine what it’s like for struggling, young musicians who play restaurants and bars now and then. … So I was happy to do it.”

We’re glad he did. Give the new version a listen. It’ll bring you a smile — and maybe a tear or two.

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Ebola ’14 vs. Covid ‘19 https://likethedew.com/2020/05/18/ebola-14-vs-covid-19/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ebola-14-vs-covid-19 https://likethedew.com/2020/05/18/ebola-14-vs-covid-19/#respond Mon, 18 May 2020 15:46:04 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=73635

Security, claim peace scientists, is the experience and expectation of well-being. Analyzing management of the major 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa is instructive given Covid 19’s global rampage. Despite internal UN dysfunction, especially the veto system pitting members at cross-purposes, that organization proved its worth. 

Moral ambiguity, even disingenuity, about oil and Africom aside, America’s response was particularly stellar. The contrast with supervision of the Covid ‘19 outbreak is stark. Eugene Jarecki stated in a recent Washington Post op-ed, that “had the guidelines been implemented earlier, a crucial period in the exponential spread of the virus would have been mitigated…and approximately 60 percent of American COVID-19 deaths could have been avoided.” Jarecki’s websiteTrumpDeathClock.com charts deaths from COVID-19 and the portion estimated as preventable, 53,781 unnecessary COVID-19 deaths in America as of May 17. 

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Security, claim peace scientists, is the experience and expectation of well-being. Analyzing management of the major 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa is instructive given Covid 19’s global rampage. Despite internal UN dysfunction, especially the veto system pitting members at cross-purposes, that organization proved its worth. 

Moral ambiguity, even disingenuity, about oil and Africom aside, America’s response was particularly stellar. The contrast with supervision of the Covid ‘19 outbreak is stark. Eugene Jarecki stated in a recent Washington Post op-ed, that “had the guidelines been implemented earlier, a crucial period in the exponential spread of the virus would have been mitigated…and approximately 60 percent of American COVID-19 deaths could have been avoided.” Jarecki’s websiteTrumpDeathClock.com charts deaths from COVID-19 and the portion estimated as preventable, 53,781 unnecessary COVID-19 deaths in America as of May 17. 

Home after treating patients in Liberian clinics, two Americans were diagnosed with Ebola in July 2014. The news generated widespread worry and despite both recovering quickly, deterred UN volunteers. Donald Trump, at that time, vilified both authorities and the afflicted. Advised that unchecked, the contagious virus could result in a million plus deaths, then-President Obama set the Pentagon, National Security and the CDC the task of jointly designing ‘a logistics mission with a medical component’. 

Meanwhile USUN Ambassador Samantha Power convinced her more war-schooled National Security colleagues to arrange an emergency UN session to push through a pioneering resolution declaring Ebola ‘a threat to international peace and security’. Not only did Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, the worst affected countries, readily subscribe but the biggest ever number of co-sponsoring countries, 134 passed the resolution on 18 September. Donations were generous in response to appeals for international aid toward the emergency effort. Obama took another novel initiative by deploying 3,000 troops to build Ebola Treatment Units and train local health workers in critical areas. 

In early October, an American transport worker died after sickening on return from Monrovia, an Ebola hotspot. Hospital staff who’d tended him also caught the virus, to public consternation. Acting promptly to intercept and treat cases, Obama authorized the CDC to carry out intensive airport screening of anyone who travelled to infection areas, even as another American casualty (the last), an Doctors Without Borders MD from New York was detected. Obama wanted to avoid unnecessary blanket quarantining such as Governor Cuomo and others were imposing on symptom-free citizens. ‘Better is good’, Obama was often heard saying – doing something constructive rather than merely ‘admiring the problem’.

To quell alarm, boost morale and minimize stigma, he subsequently embraced recovered patients invited to visit the White House. He dispatched UN Ambassador Power to West Africa, already reporting more than 10,000 positive cases and 500 deaths. Power carefully adhered to protocols including social distancing and medical monitoring, while observing vastly improved practices in safe burial and greater testing capacity. Trained staff could do their jobs thanks to smart international humanitarian intervention.

Disease-free declarations were made before the New Year in respect of those three African countries who had logged the highest incidences. On this occasion, intelligent creative cooperation among UN countries defeated the epidemic. The military transitioned into purveyors of true security delivering health, education and solidarity, demonstrating a global security system offering a superior alternative to war

The peacekeeping mission also fulfilled the 1999 UN General Council‘s Declaration and Programme on Action of a Culture of Peace [UNGA resolution number 53/243]. The Global Campaign for Peace Education assesses this achieved when “citizens of the world understand global problems, have the skills to resolve conflicts and struggle for justice nonviolently, live by international standards of human dignity and equity, appreciate cultural diversity, respect the earth and each other.”

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Pandemic Shows Just How Vulnerable The World Is https://likethedew.com/2020/05/17/pandemic-shows-just-how-vulnerable-the-world-is/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=pandemic-shows-just-how-vulnerable-the-world-is https://likethedew.com/2020/05/17/pandemic-shows-just-how-vulnerable-the-world-is/#respond Sun, 17 May 2020 15:35:36 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=73626

It took a pandemic to allow us to see just how vulnerable our lives, our jobs, our nation and our world can be without proper planning. The coronavirus has highlighted the world’s weaknesses.

It also pinpoints another element: just how sensitive the interconnectedness of present day living is.  It reaffirms the Newtonian-principles of motion, especially “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”  In effect, the world’s economy is tightly-wound, with something happening in one place always eventually affecting other places. In our everyday lives, we seldom think of this. But this phenomenon is working all the time. 

A strike or disruption in the Philippines can affect the flower market in Amsterdam.  Meat packers in Virginia can impact Chinese pork and chicken consumption.

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It took a pandemic to allow us to see just how vulnerable our lives, our jobs, our nation and our world can be without proper planning. The coronavirus has highlighted the world’s weaknesses.

It also pinpoints another element: just how sensitive the interconnectedness of present day living is.  It reaffirms the Newtonian-principles of motion, especially “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”  In effect, the world’s economy is tightly-wound, with something happening in one place always eventually affecting other places. In our everyday lives, we seldom think of this. But this phenomenon is working all the time. 

A strike or disruption in the Philippines can affect the flower market in Amsterdam.  Meat packers in Virginia can impact Chinese pork and chicken consumption.

Our nation’s (and the world’s) weaknesses are seen during this pandemic. A few observations:

  • The world’s stockpile of medical supplies is inadequate. Much of this is made overseas, meaning America needs to make sure it can have sufficient storage of key components, like masks, surgical clothing and cleaning supplies.
  • Broadband Wi-Fi in the United States is sorely lacking in rural areas. This shows itself when school children in these areas fall farther behind, compared to their counterparts in built-up areas, because of the lack of interconnectedness.
  • The pandemic has highlighted that some school children, now relying on distance-learning, particularly in rural areas, lack basic computers to augment their education. This can also be seen in urban low income households. How are these children going to compete without these basic necessities for the modern world?
  • Senior living, nursing homes, and correctional institutions have become focused points of problems during pandemics, because of people living close to one another. Have you noticed how the advertising of senior living facilities have dried up recently?  Suddenly many living in such facilities feel they are  essentially in jail.
  • The just-in-time supply chains are stressed like nothing before. This idea goes hay-wire during times of stress, causing shortages. It makes some industries recognize the need for larger warehouses.
  • The airline industry is wobbly, much more than we realized. With airline companies being highly leveraged financially, the drying up of ticket purchases is shaking their very business foundation. Airlines have big notes due to banks. Some may not survive.
  • Likewise, cruise companies are scratching their heads on how to get passengers to return. Today being cooped up on a ship brings questions, no matter how good the food and entertainment could be.

We now have new heroes, people we once never thought much about, those working in the medical field, funeral homes, grocery stores, meat packers, trucking lines, and even the National Guard. We’ve appreciated first responders before (police, fire fighters, EMTs) but now recognize them even more.  Just like our military personnel, we need to continually thank people every chance we get.

There are pluses from the pandemic. We see new ways to use technological features that we did not know that we could  use effectively: i.e., cameras on computers, Zoom, etc. And many executives are finding that working from home has more advantages than once thought. Some recognize improved performances. And think of the time we once wasted in meetings; working at home allows fewer such gatherings. Now we see how much time we have spent in such often unproductive assemblies.

While we are impatient to return to normal, the pandemic has become a warning to us. If we react correctly, it can eventually improve our lives in new and exciting ways.

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The Dangerous Consequences of Bias https://likethedew.com/2020/05/17/the-dangerous-consequences-of-bias/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-dangerous-consequences-of-bias https://likethedew.com/2020/05/17/the-dangerous-consequences-of-bias/#respond Sun, 17 May 2020 14:25:16 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=73620 It must be said upfront: not all bias is bad – some of them are essentially heuristics, shortcuts that help us process patterns – but some bias is deadly and unfair. 

When I teach about bias I try to confront it with a critical pedagogy by asking students to identify cases of good bias and dangerous bias on their own. The activity is immediately jarring, bias is almost exclusively presented as a bad thing – to be avoided – a bias against bias. 

It should also be said that in teaching conflict resolution and peace studies I see my job as one of teaching students how to think as opposed to teaching what to think. It is my bias toward problem solving and away from dogma. 

In conflict, one-size-rarely-fits-all; “Sometimes,” “maybe,” and “it depends” are preferable to “always” and “never” when thinking about interpersonal relations. In science, however, there are known absolutes that should not be treated as mere opinion.

I have a deep concern for the routine and ubiquitous dismissal of knowledge and expertise during the current global pandemic. The denial of science, with examples like President Donald Trump refusing to wear a mask, showcase an anti-science bias. He declares “what do you have to lose?” in reference to medical treatments (chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for Covid-19 treatment, which risks damage to the heart by all available medical studies) but he is unwilling to wear a mask. His anti-science bias seems to be a function of his selfish bias to constantly boost his image toward staying in power.

The consequences to these biases are toxic and deadly. 

I understand it is personal and political. We all worry about the future; will I have work? Will I lose my life or that of loved ones? 

Some sectors will have it worse, but with 500-1000 colleges and universities dying from the coronavirus it is hard to keep a positive outlook for my profession. 

According to Jerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, “in households making less than $40,000 a year, about 40 percent of those working in February lost their jobs in March.” 

Again, we see biases at play – and this is the true “deep state,” which shows remarkable bias toward the wealthy elites. In the initial $2.2 trillion bailout every single American could have received $6,000, but while some received $1,200 and others received nothing, there were clearly a select few who received much more, with large corporations granted most of it, and Main Street Mom-and-Pop businesses getting very little.

We need bias-free research to make the best progress in this struggle to save lives and save jobs.

Confirmation bias, design bias, selection bias, and social desirability bias are among the many considerations researchers must address in efforts to minimize distorting conclusions. Few researchers are bias-free, so they are expected to acknowledge bias and show how they set it aside. Some bias is hoped-for; we want our medical researchers to be biased toward saving lives and good health, which motivates them to ask testable questions that can lead to real breakthroughs.

Confirmation bias could cause policy makers to decide to open schools in the fall, believing it is safe, because signs of risk are ignored or prioritized lower than a fantasy of getting “back to normal.” 

Focusing on positives has the potential to put our young population, in such a case, at elevated risk. Design bias frequently means ignoring differences across different populations, for example: Native Americans are being left out of coronavirus data and data suggest an overrepresentation of blacks among hospitalized patients. 

Doctors Without Borders – who operate in maldeveloped, Third World countries–is currently responding to the impacts of COVID-19 on the Navajo Nation, because the system has failed. 

A desire to report success and reopen states and their economies is completely understandable. But that is not generally the current data and we have lots of work that needs to be done. The truth is that we are way behind on testing, Trump brags, but it was too little and it was too late. We are not healing, the curve is not flattened except in places where local or state leadership has been rigorous, and we are setting up for things to get much worse. 

We are seeing that ignorance and dishonesty are being weaponized; Russia is deploying coronavirus disinformation to sow panic and the super-rich and their front groups are astroturfing protests (defined by Merriam-Webster as an organized activity that is intended to create a false impression of a widespread, spontaneously arising, grassroots movement in support of or in opposition to something but that is in reality initiated and controlled by a concealed group or organization) to “open America.” The death count is increasing, and people will die in devastating numbers until the pandemic is contained. Our medical communities are exhausted. People are really suffering. The only thing that will help at this point is good science and evidence-based decision making, but the voices of reason are being drowned out by dishonesty and deception. Don’t believe the hype.

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Administration’s Accomplishments https://likethedew.com/2020/05/17/administrations-accomplishments/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=administrations-accomplishments https://likethedew.com/2020/05/17/administrations-accomplishments/#respond Sun, 17 May 2020 14:25:00 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=73631 “President Donald Trump’s campaign sued The Washington Post for defamation, citing two opinion articles published in 2019 about the campaign allegedly benefiting from Russian assistance.” CNBC, 3-3-20

Trump is estranged from the truth. That’s why his automatic reaction to anyone catching him in wrongdoing is so severe. His belief is that he can do no wrong, he’s “The Donald.” Even the COVID-19 virus was supposed to just go away by Easter, although he finally changed his mind after being told by experts that he could not bluff his way out of his statement.

Trump and I were raised very close to one another, with one big difference. I was in a prefab house in a hard hat, blue-collar area; he lived in a mansion. Trump was the spoiled, narcissistic, schoolyard bully that I saw so often and despised. 

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“President Donald Trump’s campaign sued The Washington Post for defamation, citing two opinion articles published in 2019 about the campaign allegedly benefiting from Russian assistance.”

CNBC, 3-3-20

Trump is estranged from the truth. That’s why his automatic reaction to anyone catching him in wrongdoing is so severe. His belief is that he can do no wrong, he’s “The Donald.” Even the COVID-19 virus was supposed to just go away by Easter, although he finally changed his mind after being told by experts that he could not bluff his way out of his statement.

Trump and I were raised very close to one another, with one big difference. I was in a prefab house in a hard hat, blue-collar area; he lived in a mansion. Trump was the spoiled, narcissistic, schoolyard bully that I saw so often and despised. 

Trump is still that schoolyard bully, acting as though he personally took out the terrorist Al-Baghdadi. No surprise there. He has a history of taking credit for things he hasn’t done, trying to portray himself as a “tough guy”. 

I recently received a letter from my good friend Donald J. Trump. It listed his quote “amazing accomplishments” (he’s not shy), including:

  1.  “Passing the historic tax reform package that immediately paid huge dividends for millions of hard-working families.”
  2. “Driving Down unemployment below 4% and creating more than six million new jobs.”
  3. “Nominating and confirming…judges.”
  4. “Replace(d) NAFTA with a new, better deal…”
  5. Beginning to rebuild our military that the Obama administration gutted and standing up for American interests around the world.”

Trump’s faults are obvious. He has denigrated the office of President, divided the nation into warring tribes, attempted to conspire with foreign nations to win elections, blocked witnesses from testifying before Congress, taken revenge on witnesses simply reporting his actions to superiors, threatened our allies, praised racists, interfered in the Department of Justice, pardoned political supporters, attacked the free press (see above), failed to act quickly on COVID-19, and so on.

But what about his self-proclaimed accomplishments? Are they accurate and significant? Let’s review each one:

  1. The New York Times surveyed Americans in 2019 and only 40% said they benefited from the tax cut. In fact, 65% did get a cut. However, the cuts were disproportional, with the highest income taxpayers getting much more. Per Forbes (7-23-19): “The richest 1 percent received 9.3 percent of the total tax cuts, the top 5 percent got 26.5 percent, the top quintile received 52.2 percent and the bottom quintile got 3.3 percent.” Furthermore, these cuts resulted in much greater deficits (debt) with the national debt going to over $1 trillion this year, about double what it was in Obama’s last year in office. Interestingly, Trump declared in 2016 that he would pay off the deficit.
  2. Unemployment is down to 3.6%, but this is simply a continuation of a decade long trend started under Obama. Due to the Great Recession, unemployment hit 10% in 2009. It has been going down every year since, with unemployment already down to 5% when Trump took office. As for jobs, President Obama created 8.9 million jobs. Thus far, Trump created 4.7 million, roughly comparable (the Balance, 1-3-20). But that was before the coronavirus recession, killing the economy and the market.
  3. Trump and McConnell have pushed through a record number of judges, a number of them unqualified. They have disregarded Senate rules and traditions in not requiring 60% to approve lifetime appointments, something that will come back to haunt them when the Democrats take over the Senate.
  4. The US International Trade Commission has quantified benefits of the NAFTA replacement deal, USMCA. USITC found only minor benefits; it is very little different than the original deal. 
  5. The military was strong when Obama was in office and remains strong now, despite confusing policy signals from the White House. Military spending actually went up significantly during Obama’s first term (and down in his second). As for “standing up for American interests,” President Trump has been a dismal failure. Our allies view the President as a bad joke, as reflected in numerous surveys of their citizens. He has weakened NATO. His self-serving attempt to influence the Ukrainians by withholding military funding was a disaster. His negotiations with North Korea have simply given Kim an opportunity to further develop his nuclear program. By dropping the Iranian nuclear treaty, the Administration has guaranteed a Middle Eastern nuclear arms race. And, the Philippines are moving much closer to China.

In summary, voters will have to choose between the two main Presidential candidates in November. No, Biden isn’t a real progressive. But the only other candidate with any hope of being elected is Trump. 

So, here’s the question. Do Trump’s questionable accomplishments outweigh his considerable baggage, like his mishandling of the pandemic crisis, much of which I did not detail here? No, they clearly do not. Therefore, my vote goes to Biden. I hope other progressives will bite their lip and do the same.

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If Trump Be For Us, He’s Got a Helluva Way of Showing It https://likethedew.com/2020/05/17/if-trump-be-for-us-hes-got-a-helluva-way-of-showing-it/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=if-trump-be-for-us-hes-got-a-helluva-way-of-showing-it https://likethedew.com/2020/05/17/if-trump-be-for-us-hes-got-a-helluva-way-of-showing-it/#respond Sun, 17 May 2020 13:45:58 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=73601

Good day to all –

Americans are nothing if not charitable and caring. As a rule, concern for others is in our national DNA. This laudable characteristic is evident in even the ardent support and adoration shown for our special needs leader who plays a President on TV.

While declining to wear a protective pandemic mask in public, like a mature adult, The Donald would no doubt be tickled to giggle fits if he were allowed to wear his favorite hockey helmet at appearances. But, so far, his overworked minders have managed to keep him from wearing puzzling headgear, other than his truly baffling hairdo.

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Good day to all –

Americans are nothing if not charitable and caring. As a rule, concern for others is in our national DNA. This laudable characteristic is evident in even the ardent support and adoration shown for our special needs leader who plays a President on TV.

While declining to wear a protective pandemic mask in public, like a mature adult, The Donald would no doubt be tickled to giggle fits if he were allowed to wear his favorite hockey helmet at appearances. But, so far, his overworked minders have managed to keep him from wearing puzzling headgear, other than his truly baffling hairdo.

And the boy gets all pouty and grumpy when he doesn’t get his way. Perhaps allowing Mr. Trump to wear his favorite hockey helmet would give him the courage and fierce demeanor necessary to stand his ground with reporters, especially feisty female reporters who don’t mind spanking him in public.

Such “sez’s you type wimmin” seem to get Trump’s goat. (While I’ve never understood the downside of having your goat gotten. from remarks over the years, to some folks. that seems to be a real tragedy in self-esteem.)

Trump wasn’t any happier at his last press conference; especially after that female Chinese/American reporter, Weijia Jiang, jumped in his shit for being so rude to her. She finally had enough. Trump had insulted her before. Good on her! I’m on her side permanently now.

(Can’t stand rude behavior in a person. It calls for a punch in the mouth – or to the ego.)

Naturally, Trump the Chump turned tail and ran like the whiny little cowardly bitch he really is. He literally ran away from a 100 pound little lady.

Can’t say I was surprised.

This Chinese-American reporter works for CBS. Ms. Jiang, raised in WV by immigrant parents. graduated high school at 16. had a master’s degree from college by the time she was 22 years old. She’s got more brains in her little finger than Trump has in his entire whale chunk of a short-bus riding body. Though male reporters are not spared his insults. Trump seems to particularly detest female reporters. Especially those who don’t take any crap off of him.

I must say. I’ve been watching presidential press conferences for most of my long life. And, until Trump came along imitating a President, I’ve never seen an instance where reporters argued with the President face to face. To my mind, that just proves the reporters have reached the end of their rope with this disgusting, insulting, bullying, reeking sack of decomposing protoplasm.

Too bad the rest of us haven’t as well.

The problem with Trump’s strain of lunacy is that it is as contagious as Covid-19. Folks are still defending his goofy ass.

Which, of course, makes them as goofy as Trump is.

Recently, when one of Trump’s worshipers asked me what I had against The Donald, I replied that, mainly, you couldn’t believe anything he said.

Whereupon this loyal Trumpite barked, “I challenge you or anybody else to name just one lie President Trump has ever told.”

I quickly replied that I was glad he wanted to hear just one Trump lie. Because, at my advanced age, I had nowhere near enough time left to repeat them all. That would be a job for the National Archives.

(Remember – there are humans with viral qualities, too.)

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Thoughts on Visiting the LaFayette City Cemetery during the Pandemic https://likethedew.com/2020/05/17/thoughts-on-visiting-the-lafayette-city-cemetery-during-the-pandemic/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=thoughts-on-visiting-the-lafayette-city-cemetery-during-the-pandemic https://likethedew.com/2020/05/17/thoughts-on-visiting-the-lafayette-city-cemetery-during-the-pandemic/#respond Sun, 17 May 2020 12:48:45 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=73593 A few weeks ago, I started taking walks in the LaFayette city cemetery. It’s scenic and serene, and the people there maintain the proper social distance (always six feet away). On earlier visits to the cemetery, Jessica had pointed out the graves of family members, neighbors, and prominent locals, mostly unfamiliar to me, but there was one name that I recognized: James Alfred Sartain, the author, back in 1931, of A History of Walker County.

In 1929 the Georgia General Assembly encouraged each of Georgia’s counties to write its history as part of the state’s upcoming bicentennial. (Georgia was settled as a British colony in 1733, so 1933 would be 200 years.) About three dozen of the county histories were published. A few years ago, I read those bicentennial county histories, including Sartain’s, as part of a larger project on public memory in Georgia in the early twentieth century...

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We’ve been sheltering in place up in Walker county. Public colleges in Georgia went to “remote instruction” for the last six weeks or so of the semester, which means I had to work from home, wherever that might be. Jessica suggested that we stay in LaFayette, so she might help her grandmother. So here we are.

Grave of Walker County historian J. A. Sartain

A few weeks ago, I started taking walks in the LaFayette city cemetery. It’s scenic and serene, and the people there maintain the proper social distance (always six feet away). On earlier visits to the cemetery, Jessica had pointed out the graves of family members, neighbors, and prominent locals, mostly unfamiliar to me, but there was one name that I recognized: James Alfred Sartain, the author, back in 1931, of A History of Walker County.

In 1929 the Georgia General Assembly encouraged each of Georgia’s counties to write its history as part of the state’s upcoming bicentennial. (Georgia was settled as a British colony in 1733, so 1933 would be 200 years.) About three dozen of the county histories were published. A few years ago, I read those bicentennial county histories, including Sartain’s, as part of a larger project on public memory in Georgia in the early twentieth century. “The books are full of facts and lore, and often they are the most convenient way of getting at parts of the past,” I wrote. “But for us as historians, perhaps their greatest significance is as historic documents, telling us as much about the historians (and their audiences) as about the past they described.” I knew J. A. Sartain from that project.

Most of the county historians wrote from the perspective of the Lost Cause, a revision of southern history that emphasized the “rightness” of the Confederate cause. Sartain was one of a handful of the county historians who did not rely on the Lost Cause to explain the past. And he was no fan of the martial spirit that seemed to define so much of southern culture. His discussion of the Battle of Chickamauga starts with a mention of Union’s desire to “bring an end to the fratricidal clash” and ends with this:

“The battle over, the news began to trickle back home to the fireside – to mother, sister, friend. Vague and indistinct at first, it is; then suddenly it comes with a rashness that prostrates – ‘Robert is dead.’ ‘Killed in battle.’ Such heartbreaking news to the family circle, to friends and to the community! Never a word from him, – no good byes, no farewells, no mementos, no keepsakes from his person. Only silence and the vacant chair to cherish. It is all so harsh and unnatural. When will our civilizations arrive at the place where war will be outlawed? When they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks?”

I liked Sartain’s history, but I didn’t know much about his life. Sartain was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives for four terms in the 1930s, and from the state’s Official Register (available online, so a good source right now), I learned that he graduated from Howard College in Birmingham and became a teacher. He was county superintendent of the Walker county schools for four years in the 1920s.

Sartain emphasized the importance of education at the lower levels. “If you want your child to get a good education and succeed in life, don’t fail to give him the right foundation,” he said in 1923 (according to the Walker County Messenger, available on-line through the Digital Library of Georgia’s Historic Newspapers). “Look out for his grammar grade training. This is the foundation. This is fundamental. Some parents begin to get anxious about their boys and girls when they get about 14 years of age. The time to get anxious is at 6 or even earlier” (9/14/1923).

Sartain was especially a champion of the rural schools. In 1922, the Messenger summarized an interview with the new superintendent: “Walker County has splendid country homes, good farms etc., but is woefully behind in the matter of education in the rural districts” (1/20/1922). According to the Educational Survey of Walker County, Georgia (1921), the “city schools” (LaFayette and Chickamauga) were in pretty good shape, but the fifty-plus rural schools lagged far behind. The statistics are generally divided into “larger schools,” “two-teacher schools,” and “one-teacher schools.” The differences were astounding. In the one- and two-teacher schools, teachers were poorly trained (half had not gone past the ninth grade, and a quarter had stopped at the seventh) and inexperienced (over a third were in their first year of teaching). Smaller schools were usually open for just six months a year (compared to nine for the larger schools). As a result, rural students had much lower test scores (including the Monroe Silent Reading Test, the Trabue Language Scales, and the Woody-McCall Arithmetic test – who knew that there were so many standardized tests a hundred years ago?) and fewer than one student in six made it to seventh grade.

The last section of the Educational Survey contains pictures and statistics for the individual schools. The city school buildings on the first few pages of this section are big and beautiful, well-maintained, and obviously cost a good bit to build and keep up. But that is followed by page after page of small rural schools.

Waterville School has two teachers, Miss Gladys Duncan and Miss Sadie Martin. The one-room building is “in good condition,” but “needs painting outside.” The grounds are “unimproved but ample,” with “two toilets, in bad condition.” The school has seventy-one students across eight grades.

Villanow School’s one room, “improperly lighted,” has a “fairly good blackboard; no maps; no charts; no globes; no library; a few pictures; a reference dictionary.” Its two teachers, W. N. Morgan and Mrs. Ewing Reed, have eighty-six students in nine grades.

Henderson School, “one room, very small and unsuited for schoolroom,” has one teacher (Miss Chloe Kinsey) and thirty-seven students in seven grades. And so on.

This survey was published in 1921, the year Sartain became county school superintendent. He pushed for consolidation of those rural schools (newer and better-equipped school buildings) and higher pay (to attract and retain more qualified teachers). “These boys and girls are gems and flowers,” he said, “but unless they get the proper training and culture, they must lose their power and beauty.”

So tomorrow, when I pass J. A. Sartain’s grave, I will nod as I always do to a fellow historian who had no use for the Lost Cause, but I will also think of a man who understood the value of education and devoted his life to it, especially for the thousands of rural students in Walker county who deserved as good an education as their city cousins.

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Listen to the man from Tennessee https://likethedew.com/2020/05/12/listen-to-the-man-from-tennessee/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=listen-to-the-man-from-tennessee https://likethedew.com/2020/05/12/listen-to-the-man-from-tennessee/#respond Tue, 12 May 2020 13:29:42 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=73583

“I'm the number one fan of the man from Tennessee" – from the Kenny Loggins song “Please Come to Boston” written by Dave Loggins

Most of us have never heard of Jon Meacham, a Chattanooga native and Nashville area resident. A Vietnam vet and former visiting professor at Vanderbilt, he’s not flamboyant and doesn’t look like a leading man. He hasn’t had a flashy reality TV show. 

He doesn’t see the world as black or white. A very religious man, he also doesn’t attack his enemies. He is friendly with Republicans (like the Bush family) and some Democrats. 

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“I’m the number one fan of the man from Tennessee”

from the Kenny Loggins song “Please Come to Boston” written by Dave Loggins

Most of us have never heard of Jon Meacham, a Chattanooga native and Nashville area resident. A Vietnam vet and former visiting professor at Vanderbilt, he’s not flamboyant and doesn’t look like a leading man. He hasn’t had a flashy reality TV show. 

He doesn’t see the world as black or white. A very religious man, he also doesn’t attack his enemies. He is friendly with Republicans (like the Bush family) and some Democrats. 

Meacham is just a nice guy, but a brilliant historian. His most positive quality is that he can get directly to the root of a problem and explain it so that the rest of us can understand. 

He has written for the NYT, Washington Post, Newsweek and Time. He has also appeared on a variety of TV news and opinion shows on HBO, PBS, C-SPAN and MSNBC. I recently was fortunate enough to catch one of his appearances on MSNBC (4-18-20) where he discussed the pandemic in both objective political and historical terms.

According to Meacham: “We have two tributaries in American life…a tributary of hope…in a journey towards a more perfect union” and “a tributary of fear… ‘they are coming for us.’” Meacham stated that this fear goes back to 1790 when President Adams unconstitutionally threatened to shut down the free press and unilaterally deport undesirables.

Meacham goes on to describe how the right and left are viewing the crisis. The left is apprehensive, concerned about the lack of an adequate safety net, but looking towards science, facts and experts. On the other hand, the right is motivated by fear, so much so that science and facts become irrelevant.

Meacham stated that we need Presidential leadership and went on to describe how various Presidents, including Reagan, JFK and Lincoln, have overcome major obstacles to have successful Presidencies. He then compared Trump, who promotes a “partisan pandemic”, openly encouraging the misguided “liberation” folks (funded by right wing interests) to protest against various Democratic Governors. 

Maura Judkis of the Washington Post accurately described wild eyed participants in their MAGA hats, who were leaning in towards the camera: “The Ohio protest photo looked like a zombie movie.” Screaming, they truly looked hysterical. 

Per Meacham, our current Covid-19 pandemic has created a “break down of trust.” Like Lindbergh and the American neo-Nazis in the 1930s, Trump has revived and rolled out the “America First” slogan to motivate the scared masses in his base.

Meacham talked about how Trump was concentrating on “finding a ‘them’” to blame. Obviously, this is Trump’s emphasis, rather than addressing the crisis via a well thought out scientifically based plan like the three passed plan drawn up by his healthcare advisors. 

Trump wants Americans to act “not rationally, but passionately” to distract us from his failures as a leader. Along these lines, Trump desperately wants scapegoats, so he has zeroed in on China, the World Health Organization and Democrats.

Meacham went on to explain how truly devastating this pandemic is, comparing it to 9/11. On that horrible day, there were 2977 deaths, compelling us to go to war, a conflict which we are still fighting. 

We are fighting another war. As of 5-5, there were over 68,000 deaths due to Covid-19 in the US and nearly 1.2 million cases. In Georgia alone, we have had over 29,000 cases and over 1200 deaths, although our Governor has reopened the state due to special interest group pressure (versus consistency with national guidelines as designed by healthcare experts).

We can fight this war effectively based on facts and science… or we can fight it ineffectively based on emotion and partisanship as Trump and Kemp have done. The choice is up to us as Americans.

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