Saturday, August 29, 2015

We Need a Kinder, Gentler Nation

“I want a kinder, gentler nation.”  Does that sound familiar?  That was the vision revealed by George H. W. Bush in his 1988 speech when he accepted the Republican nomination for President.  In that same speech, he observed that the Presidency provides an incomparable opportunity for “gentle persuasion.”  Evidently the electorate agreed and he was elected.  What a difference twenty-seven (27) years make!

Now we have a candidate for President who is running on a “bully platform,” literally. Sad, I don’t even have to say his name and you know whom I’m talking about.  He embodies the exact opposite of the kinder, gentler nation vision.  His “my way, or the highway” attitude, while it satisfies the inner desire for “payback” to whomever you blame for whatever your plight, a nation cannot survive based on anger and hate.  That is not the America that our forefathers envisioned. 

We have a person running for President whose major promise is to round up eleven million people and transport them across the border.  I picture railcars loaded with babies, mothers, fathers, and grandparents, all weeping.  Another candidate says he will patrol the borders with armed drones.  And in the background, their fans are yelling, “Hell, yeah!”  This is from the political party that has cornered the vote of the evangelicals. We are becoming anything BUT a kinder, gentler nation.

If there was ever any doubt that we need a kinder, gentler nation, look no further than the events of this past week.  In Virginia, a mentally ill man with a gun executed two innocent, young professionals, while they were simply doing their job.  Some of the other high-profile shootings include Chattanooga, Charleston, Sandy Hook, Aurora, Virginia Tech, Tucson, and Columbine.  Donald Trump is teaching us it’s okay not to be politically correct any longer.  Therefore I will say, “All these mass shootings were committed by a crazy person with a gun.”

A new study released last week showed the U. S. leads the world in mass shootings.  I repeat, IN THE WORLD!  The FBI defines a mass shooting as the killing of four or more people, not gang related or family related.  By those standards, the Virginia shooting doesn’t even qualify as a mass shooting.  Just another day in the killing field.

If someone knew how to stop these crazy people with guns from killing, they’d win the Nobel Peace Prize.  Nobody knows for sure, not even the all-knowing Donald Trump.  However, since we know the problem, we should at least start working on the solution.  The conversation on the expansion of mental illness services has not even begun.  Every time someone mentions any type of gun control, people barking like National Rifle Association (NRA) trained seals shout down the conversation.  We need a kinder, gentler NRA and that just may lead us to a kinder, gentler nation.

By the way, I have a new hero.  His name is Andy Parker, the father of Alison Parker, the young news reporter from WDBJ TV in Virginia.  I don’t think the NRA is going to be able to shout down Andy Parker.  Mr. Parker’s mission is sensible gun control and he is very motivated.  Godspeed Mr. Parker!

You heard it here first, folks!  Guess who’s running for Governor of Georgia in 2018?  Casey Cagle, our current Lieutenant Governor.  No, he hasn’t announced this news but why else would he announce last week that he was cutting off all funding to Planned Parenthood?  I told you in last week’s column that Governor Deal had investigated the Georgia Planned Parenthood organization and no wrongdoing was found.  Therefore, there is no logical reason Casey Cagle would make an announcement of this nature other than if he’s running for Governor.  Announcements of this sort are usually the job of the sitting Governor.  Cagle is starting early to pander to the old white men of the Republican Party.  Women should educate him that women’s health services are not exclusive to liberals and minorities and teenagers of liberals and minorities. 

If this early grandstanding by Mr. Cagle is any indication, the rhetoric in the next Governor’s race won’t be any kinder and gentler than that in this presidential primary. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Jimmy Carter for Cancer Survivor

My husband, George, and I learned early on in our life that you shouldn’t put off today what you may never get to do again.  We call these “Janis Joplin” opportunities.   In July 1970, George and I spent his R & R from Viet Nam in Honolulu.  We learned that our all-time favorite rock singer, Janis Joplin, was appearing at the International Center Arena during our stay.  We stood in line at a local record shop to buy tickets. At the very last moment, we decided our time on the Island was short and that, “we’d have plenty of other opportunities to see Janis.” So, we walked away.  Three months later we realized we squandered an opportunity to make a lasting memory due to her untimely death.

On Monday, I learned of Georgia’s very own, former President Jimmy Carter’s battle with Cancer and I knew George and I were faced with a Janis Joplin opportunity.  We had discussed going to Plains to hear the President teach Sunday School for quite some time, but never made the trip.  Unaware of the thousands of other people with the same feelings, I made motel reservations in Americus for Saturday night.

On Saturday morning, accompanied by another couple, we set off on our adventure to southwest Georgia.  Plains is a mere 100 miles from High Falls but the contrast is notable.  Farm after farm.  Field after field of dried up corn stalks.  Field after field of green plants we could only guess was peanuts or cotton.  Something new on the landscape was a field of solar panels.  The most significant difference is that we were BELOW the gnat line.  The gnats were so bad, we had to cut holes in the seat of our britches to keep the gnats out of our eyes.

Instead of going to straight to our motel in Americus, we decided to do a reconnaissance trip to Plains so we would know where the church was located for our Sunday School visit with President Carter. Uh, Oh.  The half-street town was bustling!    All roads leading to, and in and around the town, were flanked with signs reminiscent of Carter’s political signs.  At the top, with a black background it reads, Jimmy Carter.  Below that, with a green background, it reads, for Cancer Survivor.  I approached a police officer and asked, “Where can I get one of those signs?”  He directed us to the Plains Historic Antiques and Inn, “last building on the left” and said to ask for Miss Jan.  I later learned this was Jan Williams, a close Carter family friend, and we labeled her the “gate-keeper” for all things Jimmy in Plains. 

As we entered the door to the shop, a lady was standing by a few of the Jimmy Carter for Cancer Survivor yard signs.  I knew this was the right place.  We introduced ourselves and she said she was Jill Stuckey.  George and I looked at each other with that brain-spinning look.  Years ago, we were actually acquaintances of her late husband, had even been to their house, and met their prized companion, a Jack Russell Terrier.  Small world.  Jill is the Chairman of the Board of Friends of Jimmy Carter Historic Site.

I asked Jill to tell me the origin of the signs.  She related that on Monday, Mike Luckovich, the two-time Pulitzer prize recipient, editorial cartoonist for the Atlanta  Journal-Constitution, featured the sign in his cartoon.  She called the AJC and got permission to use his creation for the signs.  The vision was to display the signs in the town to show support to Jimmy when he returned from his first chemo treatment on Thursday.  A huge rush ensued to get the signs designed, printed, and in the ground.  The signs achieved their purpose because Jimmy was said to be very happy and appreciative.  Jill says not only has the demand gone world-wide, President Carter asked her to order more.  If you want your own yard sign, contact Friends of Jimmy Carter Historic Site (FJCHS).  They are a tad pricey at $25 each, but the proceeds go to cancer charities and FJCHS.

Now I have good news and bad news.  The bad news is that we opted not to attempt to go to Sunday School due to Ms. Jan warning us of the low odds of getting a seat.  Turns out that was a good decision.  People spent the night in sleeping bags.

The good news is that we were able to attend Rosalynn’s birthday celebration that featured the amazing St. Genevieve High School Jazz Band and Chorus from Los Angeles, California.  It was hard not to dance in the aisle.  It was held in the small high school auditorium that is now an historic site.  Jimmy’s smile lit up the room as he sat with Rosalynn and many of their family members and friends.  We felt blessed to be there and we didn’t have to sleep on the ground.

Remember, if there is something that you want to do, go ahead and do it!  Don’t let a Janis Joplin opportunity pass you by.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Newton's Law and Politics

Every one has asked the question, “What is wrong with our country today?”  I finally figured it out. Remember Isaac Newton’s third law of motion?  Me, neither, until I looked it up.  “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”  The same is true with Democrat and Republican politics. 

It is a war over ideology between the two parties so great that nobody is governing. The people are so confused, they are unsure what we’re fighting to achieve and who we want to win.  Like my daddy used to say, “We don’t know whether to spit or go blind.” 

How else do you explain the Donald Trump phenomenon?  I am astounded when I hear an otherwise intelligent person say they love what Trump is saying and appear to be taking him seriously. That’s where Newton’s law comes in.  For every action that Trump says he will take as President, what will be the equal and opposite reaction?  Do you really think that Mexico will pay for Donald’s wall and be glad to do it?  What will be the opposite reaction?  Remember, a wall works both ways.  Other than the wall, we have yet to hear a single feasible plan to accomplish all the greatness he says he can bring us.  He is full of bluff and bluster and frankly, the thought he would be in control of that red button scares the begezzes out of me.

Trump’s rhetoric regarding Mexico and China is threatening in nature.  According to Newton’s third law, they will be threatening in return.  Trump says repeatedly, “You treat me fairly and I will treat you fairly.”  That’s Trump’s version of Newton’s third law.

We, as Americans, have come to expect a high level of entertainment.  We have no shortage of that in this primary election season. 

Governor Deal has been enjoying little to no scrutiny during the distractions on the national scene.  He is moving unimpeded with his plans to take over our public education.  His administration continues to give the appearance of the most corrupt ever.  Erin Hames, Deal’s education policy advisor and architect of the Governor’s education take-over plan, has left the Governor’s office to work for the Atlanta Public School System.  She will be advising them on how to avoid the take-over of their school system by Governor Deal.  She got a $96,000 no-bid contract.  She will continue to offer policy advice to Governor Deal.  Only in Georgia!

Last month Deal ordered an investigation of Planned Parenthood in Georgia and then cut off funding for STD test kits the next day.  Good idea, Governor!  Georgia ranks in the top ten for STD’s in the nation.  And by the way, this week it was announced that no wrongdoing was found in the operations of Planned Parenthood in Georgia.  No word on whether the funding for test kits will be reinstated.

There’s lots of “Deal” ing going on concerning gambling casinos in Georgia.  I have never read such double-speak before as Deal’s statement on whether he is for or against casinos.  He is carefully choosing his words, walking that thin line between openly approving, yet giving himself deniability.  He even disguises what he’s talking about by calling it “expansion.”  He said that “if the people voted for expansion (translated, as in expansion of gambling), in a constitutional amendment in 2016, he would not stand in the way of enabling legislation.”  This is one time I’m glad we have a crooked governor because I hate traveling to North Carolina to gamble.

Georgia, and the nation were rocked this week by the news that President Jimmy Carter has cancer.  Think what you may about his presidency, but you can never question his faith and his contributions to humanity.  Let’s all remember him in our prayers as he battles this illness.

Marilyn Langford

Friday, August 7, 2015

Donald, Please Run as an Independent!

Donald Trump has the Republican Party and the presidential candidates by the part of the male anatomy located below the belt.  Thursday night during the debate, The Donald was asked if he was not the Republican nominee for President, would he take a vow not to run as a third party candidate.  He declined to commit.  Everyone knows, even The Donald knows, that if he runs as an Independent, it will assure the Democrats win the presidency. 

In other words, Trump is trying to bully and blackmail his way to the White House so he can paint it gold and write TRUMP across the top.  Trump is saying quite boldly, “If you say or do anything to hurt my chances of ruling the free world, I will make sure the Republican Party is a laughing stock in this country.”  Either way, the Republicans are between a rock and hard place.  If Donald Trump is the nominee, Republicans lose.  If he is a third party candidate, the loss for the Republicans will be devastating.

I wish I cold be a fly on the wall at the Republican National Headquarters.  Reince Prebius, Chairman of the Republican Party is staring at all the unused “talking points” memos. The candidates are reacting in their own way. He shouts,  “It’s my job to tell you what to say! You can’t call women pigs. You can’t call all Mexicans rapists,.   You can’t say that a former POW is not a hero.   Prebius is on the phone with his boss, Roger Ailes, President of Fox News.  “I thought you said you would finish him off in your Fox News Primary!”  But The Donald is an energizer bunny.  He beats his own drum and never stops.

While watching the second tier debate (the kids table), I was struck by how mean and caustic the candidates were, especially Carly Fiorna.  They knew they had to “break out”.  They knew they had to do something to attract attention.  So, they used the old trick of saying something with such force and authority that people would believe them.  Carly Fiorna is at the bottom of the polls in the Republican field of 17 candidates.  She has a lot of men to beat before she gets her chance at Hillary Clinton.   Yet, she spent her time in the debate, not differentiating herself from the 16 men, but by doing a hatchet job on Hillary. Why?  It was a rehearsal for the Republican nomination for Vice-President. Who better to cut a woman up than another woman?

This presidential primary is unprecedented in many ways.  From the sheer number of candidates to the amount of money being raised, we’ve never seen anything quite like it in American politics.   Due to the Citizen’s United ruling from the Supreme Court, candidates are running around trying to find a “Billionaire” to finance their campaign.  That way, they won’t have to bother with mere millionaires and smaller donors.  For instance, 95% of Ted Cruz’ 38 million in contributions came from 4 donors. 

One reason the Republican Party does not know what to do with Trump is because Trump does not have a billionaire to order him around. That’s ‘cause “He ARE one!”  During the debate, Donald Trump bragged that when he gives his money to a candidate, he expects them to do what he says, when he says it.  He even went so far as to say, “They do it!”  I’m sure the more the donor gives, the more they can ask for in return.  Of course we already knew that, but we have always ignored or denied that’s the way our political system works.  It stung me when I heard the truth expressed so unabashedly.

I would like to take this opportunity to say farewell to someone I’ve never met but feel he is my friend. I have spent untold hours laughing and learning from him.  He is irreplaceable in my life.  I am speaking of  Jon Stewart who left Comedy Central’s Daily Show last Thursday after sixteen years.  Now I have to re-adjust my entire daily routine.  I have nothing to look forward to at 11:00 p.m. each night.  I may be forced to go to bed earlier, like a normal, non-retired human.

Marilyn Langford