Saturday, December 26, 2015
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
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
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
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.