Saturday, December 26, 2015

Climate Change Deniers Waiting on Hell to Freeze Over

You’ve heard of “Christmas in July.”  Well, we just experienced “July in Christmas.”  How can anyone, especially the leaders and wanna be presidents of this country, continue to deny the obvious? 

At the Conference on Climate Change in Paris this month, 195 countries came together and signed onto a plan to combat global warning.  Yet, in the United States of America, we are divided, mostly along party lines, on whether global warming is even occurring, despite overwhelming empirical evidence.  Waiting until hell freezes over to act will be too late!

In my column last week, my wish for you was to “make a memory.”  That’s what I thought of on Christmas Eve as the tornado sirens were sounding and an emergency warning came over our phones to “take cover now!” As George and I were running in circles bumping into each other, my mind was screaming, “I didn’t mean this kind of memory!”  Had it been an actual tornado, I’m pretty sure we would be in Kansas right now because we never left our porch.  Our lack of action had more to do with disbelief than panic.

I’m sure my neighbors, who live along the banks of the Towaliga River, were also experiencing disbelief as they hurriedly moved out their precious belongings from their homes to avoid the floodwaters.  When you live on the river, this is not an extremely rare occurrence, but not at Christmas time! 

This Christmas time flooding does have one redeeming aspect.  A check with High Falls State Park revealed they are experiencing an unusual number of day-trippers viewing the vicious water spewing over the dam and the rocks.  Families are taking advantage of this occurrence to enjoy the outdoors and spending time with each other.  Now that’s a good Christmas memory!

As we put away our Christmas bounty and pack away our decorations, it’s time to turn our attention to the New Year celebration.  Do you believe in the traditional New Year’s Day meal?  Some call it a superstition.  Whatever you call it, I believe in it.  Just ask my children!  My children can turn down collard greens any other day of the year, but on New Year’s Day, I make them eat greens even if they have to choke it down!  It can’t be proven that eating collard greens assures you of having money the entire year.  But it can’t be disproved, either.  I’ve had lots of lean years, and I always wondered just how bad things would have been if I had not eaten greens for money, black eye peas for good luck, and hog jowl for happiness.  I’m not going to test the theory!

Over the years, I have softened on my hard line taken on New Year’s Day food.  It’s okay not to eat collard greens specifically. Turnip greens, mustard greens and that new stuff, kale, can be substituted.  Hog jowl does not have to be eaten with the black eye peas.  It can be fried and eaten for breakfast that day, or you can substitute any pork product, like ham, with your black eye peas.  However, there is no known substitute for black eye peas.

It’s also that time of the year when we have to make the big decision.  Our New Year’s resolution.  I’ve never had much success with those.  And, I hate for people to ask me, “What is your New Year’s resolution?”  If I tell them and don’t keep it, everyone will know I’m a failure.  Therefore, this year I’m not going to tell anyone my resolution.  Let’s just say, if I show up skinny, you’ll know what it was.  If I don’t, you’ll never know that I tried and failed again!

As we close out 2015, I thank you (the readers) and Will Davis for allowing me to share my opinions on issues facing us as Monroe Countians, Georgians, and Americans.  Buckle up!  2016 may be a rough ride.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Republicans: The Zombies are Coming and We're All Going to Die!

 Last week during the CNN Republican debate, I saw no peacemakers on that stage.  No doubt, our country has one of the most serious situations we’ve ever had to deal with.  I wanted to hear the candidates express a new, realistic approach, and one that would minimize the loss of innocent lives. Not a single candidate presented an idea that did not include, bigotry, hate and kill, kill, kill.   

Donald Trump doubled down on his plan to kill the families of Islamic terrorists.  He also wants to close down the Internet in certain parts of the world.  Ted Cruz calls for carpet-bombing ISIS terrorists.  Chris Christie insisted that he would engage in shooting down Russian aircraft in spite of the fact that it may cause nuclear war.  Carly Fiorina wants the private sector to help NSA with monitoring communications.  Excuse me!  Remember Eric Snowden, the treasonous so-in-so that did more to harm our nation’s security than any traitor before? He WAS in the private sector, supposedly helping NSA.  And Ben Carson keeps talking about opening up a child’s head.  Rubio will make your teeth chatter.  He paints a very bleak picture of our future.  Kinda like, “The Zombies are coming after us and we’re all going to die!”

Those candidates who express their plan to deal with Syria and Iraq say nothing different than what President Obama is already doing.  It’s just they are yelling louder and sounding tougher.

The Republicans spent two hours at the debate demonizing President Obama and Democrat Hillary Clinton.  Their mantra is “Obama has not kept us safe!”  I contend that President Obama has kept us as safe, or safer than anyone else could have under the same circumstances.  They seem to forget that the attack on the Twin Towers was under a Republican President.  No, Obama doesn’t talk in a tough, harsh manner.  Obama doesn’t bully.  He maintains a calm, thoughtful demeanor.  He doesn’t evoke fear and dread of war in the pit of our stomach as people like Trump, Cruz, and Rubio do.

At this most wonderful time of the year, you are fortunate if you didn’t watch the GOP debate.  I could feel the Christmas spirit being sucked right out of me.  Much like the Grinch, the Republican presidential candidates are using fear-mongering to steal our Christmas.  Christmas is a state of mind.  We feel happy.  We feel joy.  We feel thankful.  We feel love.  Unfortunately, some feel sad.  But we should never feel afraid as we do this year.

If you regularly read my column, you were not surprised to hear Valdimir Putin endorsed Donald Trump last week.  They have much in common.  I told you a few weeks ago how Putin and Trump “love them some communist women.”  Trump’s former wife and current wife are both immigrants from communist bloc countries.  In the recent past, an endorsement by a highly trained, KGB agent, now President of Russia, would have been the kiss of death for a candidate.  However, Donald Trump embraced that endorsement with gracious praise, blushing like a schoolgirl, and America only yawned. 

No matter how much you hate President Obama and for whatever reason, you should not condone a romance between Putin and Trump.  Further, surely you don’t believe that Putin is sucking up to Trump for the love of peace and betterment of the United States.

Christmas is a time to make memories and share memories.  When I was a child, I was only allowed to ask Santa for one item.  After careful consideration, I asked Santa for something I had never owned, a brand new coat.  That same year, I heard from school friends something about Santa that I did not believe.  To prove them wrong, I feigned sleep and watched as my mother lifted something dark out of her steamer trunk.  The next morning I was awakened with the words, “Look what Santa brought you!”  I saw the most magnificent coat I’d ever seen.  It was black with silver threads throughout.  This time I had to feign joy.  It wasn’t because I didn’t like the coat.  It was because that coat represented the truth that I didn’t want to know.  Later that day, I overheard my mother say she sold two of our pigs at market to pay for the coat.  That cinched it.  I officially hated that coat.  My life lesson learned that day was, make sure you don’t hate for the wrong reasons.  And, some things just aren’t worth the price you have to pay.

Merry Christmas and I hope you make a memory.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Trump is Radicalizing America

We’ve heard the word, “radicalization” a lot lately. Radicalization is a process by which an individual or group comes to adopt increasingly extreme political, social, or religious ideals.  I was astonished when I heard an expert on the subject say, “With today’s Internet, someone can be radicalized as quickly as a week to two weeks.”  How could that be? 

Radicalization is not exclusive to Muslims.  While I learned that 1-2 weeks is probably an unlikely short period of time to change a person’s way of thinking, I realized that a large segment of the population of an entire country could be radicalized in only six months. 

Donald Trump’s radicalization of America started on June 16, 2015, the day he announced his candidacy for President.  My first thought when I heard his slogan, “Trump Will Make America Great Again,” was that it implied America was not great. I think most Americans were fairly content six months ago.  Sure, we had our share of problems, any country does.  We had made it out of a terrible recession, people were able to buy homes once again, and the price of gas had fallen dramatically.  With the Democrats looking forward to a woman President and the Republicans looking forward to getting rid of Obama, there was reason for optimism.

Then along came Donald Trump and revived the most distasteful characteristics in many Americans.  He started with Xenophobia; the fear of people from other countries.  I daresay not many Americans feared Mexicans before hearing from Donald Trump that Mexicans rape our women and that he will build a wall to keep us safe.  From there it was an easy leap for people to agree with him that we should round up all eleven million Mexicans living in our country and send them back.  Then he added Syrian Refugees to his hate list.  He’s said a lot of abominable things, but to say we need to go after the families of Islamic terrorists is beyond anything our country has ever stood for.

His rhetoric keeps getting more and more extreme.  He keeps pushing the envelope.  Last week he said America should have a complete and total shutdown of Muslims coming to our country.  I was sure he overloaded his mouth this time.  I thought for sure politicians and Christians en masse would castigate him because freedom of religion is written into our Constitution.  I thought wrong.

Every time we turn on the television.  Every time we turn on the radio.  Every time we read the newspaper.  Donald Trump is there pounding hate into our brain.  He has mainstreamed bigotry, racism, Islamophobia, and Xenophobia.  How far will we American’s allow him to go? 

In just six months, this country has changed drastically, in large part due to Donald Trump.  We have been diminished in the eyes of the world.  How can any American seriously consider voting for someone that comes to office who lacks respect from important world leaders?  His radical stance on issues is pitting neighbors against neighbors, family against family, race against race, Christians against Christians.

It’s not just social and political radicalization.  It is also radicalization of our religious ideals.  A large segment of Trump’s support comes from people who identify themselves as Christians. Reince Priebus, the Chairman of the Republican National Party identified the Republican Party as a religion. That’s a sad commentary.   I am a liberal and I am a Christian, but my religion is not the Republican Party or the Democratic Party. 

I know better than to mention religion in this column.  I know I’ll be blasted with hate mail even though my intentions are honorable.  However, Donald Trump threatens the foundation of our nation in the name of Christianity.  We must not let that stand. 
Christians who agree with Donald Trump’s hate-filled rhetoric and support him in his endeavors should feel the shame.  You are being radicalized and don’t even realize it.   

To those who regularly read my newspaper column, last week you must have thought it lacking unusual incoherence (even for me).  It was.  Just when I was preparing to send the finished product to the Editor, I received news that my niece had died.  In my shocked state, I inadvertently sent an unfinished working draft of the column and did not know it until I saw it in print on Tuesday.  And to think, I worry if I'll misspell a word.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Trump is Dancing on Victim's Graves

Unless you live under a rock, you know another mass shooting took place in America last week, this time in San Bernardino, California.  Like you, I am very troubled, scared, and disgusted over these events.  My feelings turned to heartbreak when I heard Lt. Mike Madden of the San Bernadino Police Department share his account as a first responder to the scene.  This physically strong man, with a quiver in his voice and tears threatening his eyes, described the sheer horror and carnage that he witnessed that day.   He spoke of hearing the wounded moaning and whaling.  He described his sensory overload.  Clearly, he was grieving.

Contrast that to what Donald Trump said after the horrific killing of 14 and wounding of 22.  He said,  “When things like this happen, my poll numbers go up.”  He may as well have taken out his tap shoes and danced on their graves.  Trump went on to disparage the Muslim faith and President Obama.  He stated, “There’s something wrong with him.”  I submit there’s something wrong with you, Mr. Trump, and you are unworthy to be President of this nation.  Your rhetoric is flaming the fire of Islamophobia and possibly endangering the life of our President.    

Attention all 6.2 million registered voters in Georgia!  Your most personal identifying information, including your date of birth and social security number, was released to twelve organizations in October by the office of Secretary of State, Brian Kemp.

You may wonder if this happened in October, why are we just now hearing about this unprecedented data breach?  After all, when data of this sort is released by “clerical error” or by a hack, Georgia laws require victims to be notified and offered free credit-monitoring service for a year to defend against identity theft.  The answer is simple…Brian Kemp decided to do nothing unless the voters found out.  It nearly worked!

Lucky for the Secretary of State, other matters over-shadowed what should have been a front-page news story in Georgia.  After all, this is the largest breach of voters’ personal data in any state in this country.  However, unlucky for Brian Kemp, two concerned citizens filed a class-action lawsuit last week that exposed this data breach. 

In case you were concentrating on the mass murder stories and have not heard about the threat of your identity being stolen, I will enlighten you.  In October, The Secretary of State’s office released 12 data disks to various organizations that are subscribers of the voters’ registration list.  These lists are distributed once a month to anyone wishing to purchase it.  The Atlanta Journal Constitution is the organization that reported receipt of this confidential information to the Secretary of State’s Office and returned their disk immediately.  A comprehensive list of those receiving these disks has not been reported, other than to say, political parties, news media, and Georgia Gun Owner Magazine received it.   I don’t have to tell you how distraught I am that a gun magazine was given my social security number!

The Secretary of State, Brian Kemp, explained the release of this information as a “clerical error” and that he had taken administrative steps to correct it.  It wasn’t until an outcry from watchdog groups that he decided to provide the required credit monitoring services.  The question now is, do we, the victims and taxpayers of Georgia have to pay for Brian Kemp’s colossal screw-up?

The right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy.  The person charged with protecting that process is an elected constitutional officer, Secretary of State.  This is not the first time Brian Kemp has been cavalier about his duties and responsibilities as the highest election official in Georgia.  You may recall the incident in 2014, concerning 51,000 voter registration forms that were submitted to his office and only 9,000 were processed.  The other 42,000 were unaccounted for.   At the time, I thought it was blatant partisanship on his part since the registration forms not processed were predominately Democrats.  Now I think it was gross incompetence. 

Come on Democrats!  In 2018, let’s return the Secretary of State’s Office to the stature it had under the leadership of the Honorable Ben Fortson, David Poythress, and Max Cleland.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Surprise! Another Terror Attack

We knew it would happen somewhere, but we prayed it would not.  We were still basking in the glow of the love we feel when our families come together for a grand meal.  There was not even time to eat the leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner before it happened.  Another terror attack! 

A radical Islamic extremist, like those Senator Ted Cruz obsesses about, did not perpetrate this attack.  A Mexican, like the ones Donald Trump demonizes, did not perpetrate this attack.  It wasn’t an illegal alien, and not even an immigrant that struck terror in the hearts of the people of Colorado Springs.  It was a “good ole American.”  Once again, it was a good ole “White Extremist” (and crazy, too) killing and maiming, changing people’s lives forever. 

By the time this paper is printed, we should know if this attacker was an anti-abortion extremist.  It seems too coincidental that the attack took place at the Planned Parenthood building where anti-abortion protests take place six days a week.  Whatever his motives were, we know he didn’t kill in the name of peace and love.

According to the Washington Times in June 2015, in the fourteen years since 911, white supremacists and anti-government radicals have killed nearly twice as many people as jihadis.  These are the kind of terrorist we don’t talk about.  These are the kind of terrorists we don’t pay attention to.  We shrug them off as being odd, as being loners. We justify some behaviors as Second Amendment rights.  We cannot identify these people by the color of their skin or by the clothes they wear.  There’s not much we can do to prevent these kinds of attacks, but we can make sure that we don’t condone hate speech.  We can make sure that we don’t foster environments that promote violence against whom we don’t agree.

As an example, last week Ted Cruz was delighted to announce that he received the endorsement for president by Troy Newman, one of the most infamous anti-choice leaders.  As president of Operation Rescue, Newman is nothing more than an Anti-Abortion terrorist.  Newman has said that in a perfect biblical society, abortion providers would be executed.  Cruz said of Newman’s endorsement, “I am grateful to receive the endorsement of Troy Newman…We need leaders like Troy in this country who will stand up for those who do not have a voice.”  By killing those doing their legal job?

Another example. In early November, Republican candidates Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, and Bobby Jindal, pandered to Kevin Swanson, by speaking at his National Religious Liberties Conference.  As we know, “religious liberty” is code for “hate gays.”  Kevin Swanson (ironically from Colorado) is a religious talk radio host who advocates that the government execute gays, but only after they are given a chance to repent. 

Why are we surprised when a crazy goes off the deep end and kills innocent people?  How can we expect people to act in a sane manner, when those seeking to be the leader of the free world, not only agree with people who advocate murder, but are also grateful for their support?  What message does that send?

In the President’s address to the nation this week about the Paris terrorist attacks, he said, “If you see something, say something.”  Keep that in mind as you go about your daily activities.  You can’t recognize a terrorist by the way he looks, but if he does something seemingly suspicious, don’t worry about looking silly.  Run like hell and call the police.

The community of Blount, located at Highway 42 and Blount Road, will be a busy little place this weekend, full of the Christmas spirit.  Cross Link Meadows will have an old fashioned Christmas Extravaganza on Saturday, December 5.  While you’re in the area, stop by the Trading Post located just before Paran Baptist Church.  They are having a $1.00 sale and you will have hundreds of items from which to choose.  If you’re searching for items to re-purpose, this is the place for you.   Also, back in the woods is a place called The Store.   It’s harder to find but worth the search.  

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Trump and Putin love them some Communist women

We find ourselves in a moral conundrum after the horrific attacks in Paris last week. At least some of us do.  There are those that feel, “Hey, my family is safe, who cares about all those orphans and widows from Syria?”  Turning our backs on refugees and immigrants is not what this country is about.  If so, we should tear down the Statute of Liberty.

The fear mongering that is going on with politicians is shameful.  Republican Presidential candidate Ben Carson compares Syrian refugees to rabid dogs.  I admit, Candidate Ted Cruz’s argument that our country should block refugees from coming in may have some validity.  According to Ted himself, his father fought along side Fidel Castro for four years in the 1950’s before fleeing to our country.  Because of our refugee policy, Ted Cruz now has all the advantages this country has to offer. Ted Cruz is also deemed a U.S. citizen by virtue of our birthright citizenship law.  Just think.  If our country had used the vetting process back then that we use today, we would not be subjected to Cruz’s anger and vitriol. 

And Donald Trump.  Mr. Anti-Immigrant!  Mr. Anti-refugee!  Concerning Syrian refugees, he will build a wall.  Neither Christians, nor Muslims from Syria may come in.  He wants a Muslim registry and ID cards issued.  That sounds eerily familiar.  Oh yeah, Nazi Germany.  And my favorite, he says he will “bomb the s***t out of them.”  Gee, I thought those 28,000 bombs that we’ve dropped on them already were real.  And more troubling, Trump says we have to close all Mosques. 

Like Cruz, Donald Trump is a hypocrite of the highest order when it comes to immigrants and refugees.  Trump is married to his third wife, Melania Kanavas, from Slovenia, a former Communist bloc country.  Trump married the nude model in 2005.  Mrs. Trump became a naturalized citizen one year later in 2006.  Hmmmm.  

Lest we forget, Trump was also married to another Communist bloc country native, Ivana Zelnickova Trump.  In order to obtain a foreign passport, she conveniently married a childhood friend to immigrate to Canada.  She did not become a U. S. Citizen until after she married the Donald.  Trump and Vladimir Putin have lots in common.  They both love former Communists.

Most ironically is the fact that both Trump and Cruz want to abolish the 14th Amendment that grants birthright citizenship.

Obviously, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, and more citizens of this country than I can fathom, do not have a moral conundrum.  Enough of all that doom and gloom stuff! 

I have always loved Thanksgiving even before there were Black Friday sales.  Throughout the years, I have great Thanksgiving memories, and what good are memories if you don’t share them?

Last year, I shared with you the Thanksgiving memory of when I cut the chicken’s pecker off.  (In case you missed it, not that kind of pecker!).  This year I want to share my memory of the funniest Thanksgiving.  This is at the expense of George, but I know he’ll forgive me because he didn’t leave then. 

This memory is about the first Thanksgiving George and I spent together and our first family gathering.  I was a senior in high school and George was a freshman in college.  We had been dating for nearly a year and my sister was hosting Thanksgiving dinner.  We were both nervous.  After everyone was seated, my sister sat the platter with the huge turkey in front of George and as she handed him the carving utensils said, “You can carve the turkey this year!” I wanted the floor to swallow both of us up.  I somehow knew he had never had a big fork and knife in his hand, not to mention sliced a turkey.  

He didn’t panic and ended up passing the test with flying colors.  Instead of fleeing, he went with it.  As he sat there with the carving tools poised over the turkey, he said, “Where do I start?”  My sister said, “You start with the breast.”  George held one side of the turkey with the knife and lifted the other side up and peaked under.  Then he peaked under the other side.  The look in his eyes literally said, “I don’t see a breast!”  By then the entire family burst out in uncontrollable laughter.  And made a memory.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving and I hope you make a memory!

Friday, November 13, 2015

I Don't Give a flying doughnut about the Starbuck's Cup

You don’t miss something until you need it.  That’s the only way I can explain why I never realized that complimentary seating has disappeared from department stores.  I have endured a year-long saga with my knees.  Thanks to Dr. Dana Peterman and her great staff at Healing Arts Physical Therapy in Forsyth, I am finally able to go shopping unassisted.  Although my knees are working properly, I still need to build my stamina.

Last week I was having a rack attack and there’s not a better place to feed that craving than Belk Department Store when they are having a big sale.  After about thirty minutes, I realized that I was exhausted and needed to rest a moment.  I started looking for a place to sit down.  I was incredulous that throughout the entire clothing section, there was not a single place to rest.  I finally found a place, IN MY CAR!  I literally shopped ‘til I dropped. 

I’m not picking on Belk, as I now understand that most stores have removed chairs that used to be available for people that need to sit.  It’s a conspiracy!  It’s a war on the infirm!  I’m sure Obama is responsible for this!  Where’s my buddy The Reverend Al, Al Sharpton, when you need him?

I called the manager of Belk and asked him “Why don’t you have chairs for your customers in case they get tired?”  He said,  “We have to use the space for merchandise.”  I told him, “I would have spent a lot more money if I had a chair for two minutes.”  He then told me that I should have asked a store employee and they would have gotten one from somewhere.  I thought, but didn’t say, “ Are you kidding?  Store employees are almost as scarce as chairs.”

I think there is something far more sinister to this disappearing chair issue than a space problem.  I will continue to investigate.  In the meantime, if you are in a store and can’t find a chair, DEMAND one (if you can find a store employee.) 

By now you must be wondering why I’m telling you this.  I thought it might help you understand how a liberal thinks.  It’s issues of this nature that I care about. I could give a flying doughnut what design is on a Starbuck’s cup.  Besides, our new Dunkin’ Donuts has snowflakes and snowmen on their cups if that’s important to you.

Nothing new happened in the Presidential circus this week.  Donald Trump is perfecting his stand-up comedy routine on the Iowa crowd.  He spent 95 minutes telling an audience last Thursday that “I’m a good Christian.  Everybody knows that.”  “I’m gonna fix things.  Everybody knows that.”  “Ben Carson has pathological disease.  He says so in his book.”  “Five minutes in a bathroom can’t cure that.”  I give his speech a “thumps up” for its hilarity.  I particularly liked the part where he first appeared to be undressing when he demonstrated how a belt buckle wouldn’t stop a knife.  You can’t pay for entertainment like that.

The Republicans had their fifth debate last week.  Carly Fiorina did nothing to dissuade me that she is not an Avatar.  John Kasich pointed out the ridiculousness of Trump’s mass roundup of eleven million Mexicans.  I liked that, but evidently the right-wing focus groups did not.  When the feasibility of doing such a thing was questioned, Trump pointed to Dwight Eisenhower’s mass deportation in 1954 called “Operation Wetback.”  He intimated that it had to be a good thing because it was a plan by a nice guy as evidenced by his slogan, “I Like Ike.”  Can things get any more bizarre?

Yes they can.  Ben Carson spent his week trying to convince voters that he did in fact try to kill his mother with a hammer and he did try to murder someone by stabbing them with a knife in the stomach.  He blamed the liberal media for questioning what he said in his own words, in his own book. 

The Veterans Day observance at the courthouse last Wednesday was a top-notch tribute to Monroe County veterans and all veterans who served our country.  If you missed it, put it on your calendar for next year, 11-11 at 11 a.m.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Our President Should be Smarter Than a 5th Grader

The democratic process to elect our president has taken a nosedive.  We’ll have to leave it to history to decide if this is the moment in time where we took a wrong turn. 

Fox News sponsored the first 2016 GOP debates.  Fox News set the criteria that candidates must place at least 2.5% in four national polls to be in the debate.  The four polls were not specified.  Other media outlets followed suite with this criteria.  This week, Fox Business News will host the GOP debate and have applied criteria using the four polls of their choice.  In lieu of the CBS/New York Times poll that is highly regarded, they chose the worst performing poll in the last election cycle, the Investors Business Daily.  This new process designed by Fox News and the GOP has eliminated candidates like, Scott Walker, Lindsey Graham and George Pataki before the first vote has been cast.  We have trivialized our democratic process by breaking it into three groups decided by the Media:  Adult table.  Kid’s table.  And the “You don’t even get to eat” table. 

Don’t misunderstand.  As a Democrat, I don’t have a dog in this fight other than concern for our country.  I am concerned that instead of candidates being culled by the voters; media is culling them.  We have long accepted the practice that the Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire primary have been used as an introduction of candidates to the country. It is a “meet and greet.”   We never quibbled about these states being first to choose because we knew the choices made by those two states were seldom indicative of how the nation would vote.  And it still isn’t!  However….

This year, by the time the GOP has their caucus in Iowa and primary in New Hampshire, there may not be a viable candidate left for the GOP voters.  Lacking money and lacking the mentality to say outrageous things to attract attention, some really good presidential candidates may have been cast aside by this new electoral process.  When the GOP gets over their anger and wants a President for the good of our country, who will be left?

Due to his wealth, Trump may have the capability of persevering, but Ben Carson appears to be on borrowed time.  Whether or not it is determined that Carson fabricated his offer of scholarship to West Point is inconsequential.   I’m more concerned with other more troubling things I’ve heard him say on national television.  He says he was a young kid full of rage.  He admits attempting to stab someone with a knife but hit a belt buckle.  He says he tried to hit his mother in the head with a hammer.  He spoke of other acts of violence.  Then he said he over-came it and became a famous neurosurgeon.  Good story.  Nothing matters more in politics than a good story.  Remember how far Zell Miller’s story of helping his poor ole Mama haul rocks to build their cabin took him? 

Carson’s own narrative via his books and many speeches has created his persona.  Since his “story” is what he’s basing his qualifications for President on, thorough vetting by the press is expected and necessary.  Every word uttered by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton has been dissected and investigated.  Sorry Mr. Carson.  You do not deserve special treatment by the media.

Despite Dr. Carson’s good story, am I the only one that wants our President to be smarter than a 5th Grader?  Ben Carson justified his lack of governing experience by saying, “Every signer of the Declaration of Independence held no elective office.”  Huh?  Does he think there was no government before that time?  No colonies?  No Continental Congress?  Does he think that 59 men just decided to sign this document?  He also said in defense of his inexperience, “The Ark was built by amateurs and the Titanic was built by professionals.”  Luckily The Ark didn’t hit an iceberg.  Then he states that the Egyptian Pyramids were built by Joseph to store grain.  I have no comment about that.  He said, “Obama Care is the worst thing since slavery.”  Even fifth graders know healthcare is not worse than human bondage.

Finally, Ben Carson’s testiness when confronted by members of the press asking for clarification of some of his previous statements, tells me that he didn’t go into this endeavor with his “eyes wide open.”  Get it?

Sorry you missed my column last week.  It was great!  It was huge!  It was the best ever!  However, the Editor didn’t have the space on the Obituary page to print it. 


Friday, October 30, 2015

Republicans. A Party of "Whinos."

I was underwhelmed with the CNBC Republican debate last week.  What I saw on that debate stage were eight angry white men, one angry white woman, and one Forrest Gump.  John Kasich, normally mild-mannered, came right out of the gate like a bull saying that all his opponents’ policies were crazy.  I agree, and since I feel Kasich is the most qualified Republican in the race, I was buoyed that this could be Kasich’s moment.  Not to be, though.  Trump came right back at him and slapped him with his connection to the Lehman Brothers scandal.  Right before my eyes, I saw Kasich tuck his tail and crouch in the corner like a wounded dog. 

I was appalled that the angry white woman, Carly Fiorina, asked that we vote for her because she would be “Hillary’s worst nightmare.”  I know people love female catfights, but hopefully not enough to vote for a person for that reason.  

Ted Cruz is the most consistently angry candidate.  I wonder if his face would break if he laughed?  Chris Christy is rude and the master of bullying.  That’s a symptom of anger.

Mike Huckabee may be the angriest of them all.  He’s certainly not the poster boy for Christianity, in my opinion. 

Poor Jeb.  He just can’t sink to the level of the other candidates.  To please his base, he was supposed to be angry during the debate.  He tried, but you can’t show anger if you’re always smiling!  Those weren’t smiles of happiness, however. Those were smiles of disgust.  He is accustomed to more substantive and civil exchanges.

Rubio, Rubio, where for art thou, Rubio?  He’s a lost little boy with a Rolex watch. 
He pretends anger and toughness, but I see the fright in his eyes.

And Ben Carson?  He has accomplished much in his medical career and by most reports, a nice guy.  We all like Forrest Gump but we wouldn’t want him to be our President. 

The candidates turned this debate into nothing more than a fight over time to speak to get that “sound bite” moment.  They were asked plenty of economic policy questions.  Many chose not to answer them.  Those that did answered the questions in a sophomoric manner.  “We need to pay taxes like a tithe.”  “We need to fill out an IRS postcard and send it in.”  Still my favorite, “We’re going to build a wall, a huge wall, and put a big beautiful door in the middle.”  Broad statements like these lack a fundamental understanding of political reality.

The complaining, moaning, and groaning of the unfairness of the debate moderators began before the first question was ever asked.  Then they complained about the assignment of green room (waiting room) space. “His room is more luxurious than mine!”  Since the debate, the grousing has gotten stronger.  I see this as nothing more than an attempt to detract from their lack of policy knowledge.  They want their questions to be “more fair.”  Translated that means, “softer questions.”  Trump’s theme of the night was that Hillary got only softball questions in the CNN debate in Las Vegas.  Mr. Trump, they only appeared to be softball questions because Hillary made it look so easy to hit the ball over the fence. 

Now the GOP presidential candidates are making demands on the networks for future debates.  Ted Cruz suggests that moderators should have to prove they are Republicans before they can moderate.  Perhaps Ted Cruz should prove he is an American citizen before he is allowed to join that debate.  I wouldn’t be surprised if their next demands involved writing their own questions or being provided questions in advance. 

Ben Carson thinks the debate should not be that of sharing opinions, but a chance for voters to get to know the candidates and their thought processes.  By the way, Mr. Carson, the question you were asked about your connection to Mannatech was not a “gotcha” question as you are saying.  Unless, of course, it “got you.”  That was a fair and relevant question within your guidelines of “getting to know” you and your “thought processes.” 

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again.  The Republicans are in a mellava hess. I did not see an electable candidate on that stage.  They are a party of angry “Whinos.”

Saturday, October 24, 2015

What's the Republicans Plan Now?

I have always heard that a week in politics is like a year.  Using that premise, last week in politics was like two years; especially when you consider the record setting, eleven-hour Benghazi Committee Hearing failed attempt to destroy Hillary Clinton.

For those that watched this hearing, gavel to gavel, as I did, you should have no lingering doubt that from the git-go, this committee was designed to hand the presidency to the Republicans by eliminating their biggest threat, Hillary.  Instead, it appears their plan backfired.  The Republicans on this committee were an embarrassment to our governing process and to our country.  As evidence, FOX News, who could never get enough of “Benghazi,” pulled their live coverage of the event when it became apparent that this hearing was a disaster for Republicans and Hillary was far too presidential looking.   

Friday night, I watched the most fascinating interview of Hillary Clinton with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.  I wish everyone could have seen Hillary as her most relaxed, candid self.  While flipping channels, I observed during this same time, FOX News was showing a Fox produced documentary on Benghazi, still attempting to keep the lies alive.  I could only shake my head and laugh.

And the final thing I have to say about Benghazi.  More than one person has accused me of being disrespectful to those who died in service to our country by my support of Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, against the conspiracy theorists.  Conversely, it is clear now that it is the Republicans who are disrespectful by using this unfortunate incident for political gain.  How much more evidence do they need?  There is no there, there.  It’s time to move on to the next “Freedom Caucus” inspired Hillary scandal. 

Upon the realization of the gigantic failure of the Republicans this week, Friday, lame duck Speaker Boehner formed another Benghazi-like committee to fire up their base supporters.  This time it is said to investigate fetal tissue donations, but of course it’s about Planned Parenthood.  Besides, FOX needs something new to talk about.  The House Democrats know it’s a farce but just like the Benghazi Committee, they are obligated to serve on the committee as a defensive measure.

Thank you Vice-President Joe Biden!  When Biden announced that he would not be a candidate for President, Democrats everywhere sounded a collective sigh of relief.  I was one of those!  It’s human nature not to want to make a choice between two of your friends.  The years of service to our country as Democrats by Hillary and Joe have made them our friends.  We know them.  We love them.  Now we don’t have to choose.

You may ask the question, “What about the choice between Democrats Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton?”  Personally, I do not see that as a choice.  If Sanders were a loyal Democrat, I could understand why some would find it a tough choice.  However, Sanders has run and served as a Socialist Independent his entire career and is a newcomer to the Democratic Party for this election.  I will certainly support the Democratic nominee and if by some fluke it is Sanders, I will support him.  Sanders is also doing a nice job showing voters there is someone more liberal than Hillary. 

You may have noticed that so far this presidential election season, I have said very little about Dr. Ben Carson.  I see no reason to.  Yes, he’s ahead at this very early date in Iowa, and who knows, he may end up winning Iowa.  I say that only based on the fact that historically, the Iowa Republican caucus voters seem to choose the most extreme conservative in the race and/or the most religious, but not often pick the ultimate nominee. I agree with Trump, Monsanto is putting something in those potatoes in Iowa!  Thank goodness the rest of America has a vote.

We thoroughly enjoyed our grandchildren’s fall break in Florida’s Port St. Joe.  I stayed confused the entire time.  Although we stayed in the Central time zone, we crossed over that imaginary line back into the Eastern time zone many times as we were out and about seeing the sites.  I never knew what time it was.  We will all experience our normal day or two of confusion when we switch to Daylight Savings here on Sunday, November 1st.  However, I spent a week feeling like I was in Ground Hog Day, the movie.

Upon arriving home here in High Falls, I encountered a situation as mysterious as the stealing of 100 cats a while back.  Much to my chagrin, my Monroe County Reporter was missing from my mailbox!  I desperately wanted to find out if my name was on the Obituary page again.  Luckily the MCR has an online edition for subscribers.  I bet when they find those catnappers, they will find my newspaper!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

UNFAIR AND UNBALANCED: I Hope the Dems Don't Screw it up

UNFAIR AND UNBALANCED: I Hope the Dems Don't Screw it up: I can identify with Kermit the Frog’s song, “It’s Not Easy Bein’ Green.”   Cause folks, it’s not easy being a liberal opinion column wri...

Friday, October 16, 2015

I Hope the Dems Don't Screw it up

I can identify with Kermit the Frog’s song, “It’s Not Easy Bein’ Green.”  Cause folks, it’s not easy being a liberal opinion column writer in this newspaper.  I was provided a rare opportunity to express the opinion of the silent minority in this very conservative paper, in this conservative county. I did not make the decision to do this lightly.  I knew it wouldn’t be easy.  However, I felt morally obligated to speak for progressives who deserve validation of their opinions, as much as conservatives do. 

Now over a year later, I’m happy to report that I’m still alive!  Actually only “half alive.”  Have you noticed that for the past two weeks, half of my column has been relegated to the bottom corner of the Opinion page and the other half is continued on the Obituary page?  A friend told me, “Everybody reads the obituaries to see if their name is there, so that’s a good thing!”  Really?  Imagine seeing your name in bold black letters there!

I was very proud of the presidential candidates in the Democratic debate.  It certainly served to winnow down the field of candidates.  I was pleasantly surprised that the viewer-ship of this debate was a Democratic record of 15.3 million.  Lacking the excitement of the GOP debate, I assumed people wouldn’t watch a debate addressing real policies.  I’m happy I was wrong.  I hope the Republican candidates in their next debate will take a page from the Democrats and have a policy debate, rather than scenes from a snarky reality show. 

If you ever had any doubt about Hillary’s electability, the debate in Las Vegas should have convinced you.  I know it’s difficult to look at a woman as a President, but think of her in comparison to all the other candidates, Democrat or Republican.  Be honest now!

There’s one thing Bernie Sanders could have said better than, “I’m tired of hearing about Hillary’s emails.”  I wish he had said, “I’m tired of hearing about Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi!”  (And I said it three times!)  After all, we learned directly from two Republican Committee members and one Republican Committee investigator that the Committee investigation was designed to bring down Hillary’s poll numbers. There have been many other investigations and all rejected the notion of a conspiracy.

Enough is enough! Hillary is scheduled to testify before the Benghazi Select Committee next Thursday.  Lacking evidence that Hillary is culpable of any wrongdoing, I think the Benghazi Committee should be dissolved and the case closed. 

The GOP appears in disarray.  Despite the massive number of potential candidates, they don’t have the ONE candidate that mostly represents the ideology of a majority of the people.  In contrast, the Democrats seem to have their act together.  It appears that the Democrats have THAT candidate.  But hold that celebration!  Historically, when things are going well with the Democrats, they will figure out a way to screw it up. 

I think of the old refrain, “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.”  I’ve been a Dem all my life and I’ve seen repeated fractures of the party on the local, state, and national level.  Right now, some leaders of the Democratic National Committee are calling for the Chair, Debbie Wasserman Shultz, to resign.  I’m certainly not privy to the details of the infighting but it’s typical of our Party.  Even here, who would have ever imagined that the local Monroe County Democratic Party would be hijacked?  Hijacked at a time when the local party was growing and just last year, had as much, or more activity for Democratic candidates as the Bibb County Democratic Party. 

The Chairman of the Monroe County Democratic Party is one of the most revered citizens in the county. He’s been faithful over 40 years.  He has seldom missed a State meeting.  (I’m not stating his name because I did not discuss this with him before writing my column).  It is my information that a new MC Democratic Party has been formed and John Howard is Chairman.  Yes, Mayor John Howard, who is running in the non-partisan election in the City of Forsyth.  It is my understanding that he did not offer to join the already existing Democratic Party.  I do not know Mr. Howard, so I am not questioning his motives.  It only makes sense that inclusiveness would have been better politics for the Party.

I will be in Florida for a few days with my grandkids this week.  While I’m gone, let me know if you see both my name and picture on the Obituary page.

Friday, October 9, 2015

The GOP is in a Mellava Hess!

In my column last week I suggested that in the absence of sensible gun control, we should just give in and dress our children in bulletproof vests and protective headgear before sending them to school.  When I wrote those lines I thought it was such a preposterous and outlandish proposal that it would cause people to realize that perhaps guns aren’t worth these drastic measures.  Little did I know, my fantasy is already a reality.

After reading my column, a friend sent me a web link to a site called Bullet Blocker.  When I clicked on the link, what I saw turned my stomach.  The cover picture was of a mother holding her little daughter’s hand as they were walking to school.  The little girl was wearing a bulletproof backpack! 

The Bullet Blocker site advertises an array of bulletproof garments and other items. These clothing items are very stylish and designed to conceal its life-saving function.  As you can imagine, they are a tad pricey.  If you hurry, there is a purple child’s backpack on sale for $189.   A child’s nylon jacket is a mere $750.

The company has a nice collection of bulletproof leather jackets for a minimum of $1000.  These jackets are suitable for the more casual affairs you attend where you suspect a shooting may occur.  For you businessmen who deal with irate clients, you can purchase suit jackets starting at $1,000.  I particularly like the farm jacket for $1,000. Lots of shootings take place on farms.  If you work in a medical clinic, a white bulletproof lab jacket is the perfect protection for only $900.  Spend a lot of time at the gym?  A bulletproof duffel gym bag for $300 may be for you.  If you are on a tight budget but want minimum protection, you can purchase various briefcases for less than $500, or a notebook folio for only $145.

A sign these body armor garments are growing in popularity and have become mainstream, replacement bulletproof inserts and backpack panels can be purchased from The North Face, Under Armor, JanSport and LL Bean, to name a few.  So for you who want to protect your child without mortgaging your house, you can buy a Walmart book bag for $10 and then purchase a backpack protective bulletproof panel for $99.

The mere fact these items are on the market is a sad commentary on where we are in this world today. If I had a stockbroker, I would be saying “buy, buy, buy.” 

In last week’s MCR, I hope you read the guest column by Erick Erickson entitled Gold Dome:  Pay to play.  Most of you know Erick Erickson as a popular WSB right-wing radio host, a frequent fill-in for Rush Limbaugh, and Fox News contributor from Macon.  I nearly missed his column because, for some reason, I’ve never been a fan.  He predicted the days of the GOP controlling the legislature in Georgia are coming to an end. He says the Republican Legislators view their office as a get-rich-quick scheme.  He said the Legislature under the leadership of Lt. Governor Casey Cagle and Speaker David Ralston is nothing more than a Ponzi scheme of check writers.  And I really loved the part about Republican leaders are for sale to the highest bidder and do not listen to voters.  Erick Erickson explains that lobbyists and special interest groups, like billionaire casino owners, are hauling money into the State Capitol.   There’s little doubt that casinos are in our near future in Georgia.

These were words of one of the most prominent Republican, conservative pundits in our country.  I have been writing about the shenanigans under our Gold Dome for quite some time now.  Erickson is very plugged into the Republicans and what’s going on at the Capitol.  If he says it’s bad, then I believe it must be very bad!  I feel so vindicated! 

Georgia isn’t the only place with warning signs that the GOP is falling apart.  Look at what’s going on in Washington.  The GOP there is in a tailspin.  They are in a mellava hess.

Marilyn Langford

Friday, October 2, 2015

My Solution to Gun Violence

Last week, the Editor of this newspaper placed a disclaimer on my column stating, “This column does not represent the views of this newspaper or its ownership.”  Of course it doesn’t!  Everybody knows that!  There would be no point to this column if it did.  Therefore I affirm the disclaimer made by the Editor.  I am solely responsible for my words and for that reason; I strive to always tell the truth and not simply please the Editor with my opinions.  I therefore offer my hand to Will Davis, the Editor, and say, “Let’s just agree to disagree!”

Before the ink was dry on John Boehner’s resignation, the Republican’s choice to succeed him as Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy took to the podium for Americans to get to know him.  Mistake.  As soon as he opened his mouth, Republican leaders everywhere must have thought, “What have we done?” 

First, on Fox News McCarthy bragged that the Benghazi House Committee’s mission was to lower Hillary’s poll numbers. He seemed very happy it was working. I couldn’t help but smile because finally the allegations and suspicions about this bogus “truth seeking” committee were confirmed.   This wasn’t just a gaffe; McCarthy forgot he wasn’t supposed to tell the truth!

My first clue that perhaps McCarthy wasn’t ready for primetime came when he said, “Hillary is untrustable.”  Huh?

McCarthy then took to the floor of the House of Representatives and made the most incoherent speech ever made from the well of the House. I also point out that he was reading, or attempting to read, from prepared text.  For instance, he said, “ To those who return home are being disrespected by the VA, that can’t keep the simple promise to all of our heroes to the need when they need it most.”

And then among many other incoherent statements, McCarthy said, “We must engage this war of radical Islam if our life depended on it.” 

I thought I was watching a parody skit from Saturday Night Live.

I admit that part of me thinks it’s funny for Republicans that they are about to elect, not only the least experienced Speaker in modern history, but one that is inarticulate in both the written and spoken word. This can only help the Democrats.  However, this will only hurt our country and our reputation in the world’s eyes.  Remember, The Speaker of the House is next in line, after the Vice-President, to be the President of the United States.  Where do they get these guys?

Normally I write about events and issues occurring in real-time.  I just can’t bear to write about another tragic shooting.  As President Obama said, “This has become routine.”  I was talking to my sister about this latest massacre and she said, “Now, there’s no use in you jumping on gun control again.”  My sister and I rarely agree on issues, but this time I agree with her.  If the mindset of Americans about guns has not changed after so many tragedies, it’s hard to keep hope. 

If the National Rifle Association won’t give an inch to help remedy this situation, then perhaps it’s time we “tapped out”.  Instead of sensible gun laws with background checks, we can place our children in bullet-proof vests and protective headgear before we send them off to school.  We can shut down all movie theaters and we can outlaw all public gatherings.  We send our children to Pre-K to prepare them for school.  Maybe we should include firearms training in that program.  After all, banning weapons capable of massacring a class full of children in seconds will violate our Second Amendment right to bear arms.  I’m not making fun; I’m making a point.

That point is it’s time we admit that our love affair with guns has gone too far and is taking the lives of too many Americans.  The truth is, our forefathers who crafted the Constitution, did not fathom any weapon more powerful than a musket. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Truth Moves Slower Than A Lie

Truth moves slower than a lie.  Case in point is the big lie to the American people told by Republican Presidential candidate, Carly Fiorina.  She stood on the debate stage at the Reagan Library before 20 million Americans and painted a gruesome picture of a fetus in a Planned Parenthood video.  Her performance was passionate and convincing.  However, she wasn’t aiming to win an Oscar.  She was trying to win our vote for President of our country.

Chances are you heard the big lie, but the truth hasn’t reached you yet.  The video does NOT exist.  Yes, there is a highly edited stock video produced by the anti-abortion folk but Planned Parenthood had nothing to do with it.  It has been exposed as a fabricated LIE!  The fallout from this lie is immense. 

The Republican legislators of the extreme rightwing have used this lie to promote de-funding Planned Parenthood.  These 40 Tea Party legislators, led by Republican Presidential candidate, Ted Cruz, have vowed to shut down our government if they don’t get their way.  We need to call it what it is: a threat to over-throw the government.  We do not know the amount of damage that may be caused by a shutdown of our government.  I don’t want to find out.

The first obvious victim of Fiorina’s big lie is Speaker of the House, John Boehner.  He announced that he was done!  Reading the tea leaves for the next couple of months, Boehner knew it would be war with those 40 Tea Party legislators over Planned Parenthood funding.  He is tired of fighting.   I’ve made no secret that Boehner is not one of my favorite people, but I knew in my heart that Boehner loved this country and would not let the Tea Party extremists do harm.  This news was very unsettling and I am fearful for our country.

Carly Fiorina is a disgrace to our electoral process and to woman-hood.  Her lie dealt a big blow to an institution that has been nearly a hundred years in the making.  Planned Parenthood has probably done more for women than any other organization. Her lie perpetuates the belief that Planned Parenthood is only about abortion. 

The truth is, only 3% of Planned Parenthood’s budget is allocated for abortion services and NO federal funds are used.  That’s the law.   The main services provided by Planned Parenthood include birth control, pap smears, cancer screening to include mammograms, and many more female health services. 

This is war against women and it is shameful that one woman, Fiorina, is willing to throw the health of so many women under the bus for her own political gain.  Don’t let the lie stand.  Spread the truth!

I had a wonderful time visiting with the Pope.  I have never witnessed anything like it in my lifetime.  Pope Francis is an inspirational moral leader and he brought a message of love and peace to our country that has been missing for some time.  The faces of each one in the massive crowds showed pure joy.  It was a week of positive vibes instead of the negative attitude ever present in our country.  I hope that feeling will stay and not leave with the Pope.

I said in my column last week that, “surely Trump won’t try to upstage the Pope!”  Well, he tried.  And failed.  After the Pope’s address to the joint session of Congress, Trump said the Pope was wrong about climate change.  That punch didn’t land.  Then he picked a couple of fights with female reporters.  Normally this would be the lead story, but not this time. 

The message the Pope delivered was in direct contrast to Trump’s constant diatribes.  The Pope spoke of our country as a land of immigrants and reminded us of the Golden Rule.  The Pope talked about seeking too much riches and greed.  On the heels of Trump condoning hate speech against the entire Muslim religion, the Pope spoke of religious tolerance.  In your face, Donald Trump!!