Sunday, January 31, 2016

Georgia School Children Are Not Lab Rats!

Admit it!  You know it feels good to be vindicated and be able to say, “I told you so.”  I’m feeling pretty darn good right now!  In this Unfair and Unbalanced column on September 30, 2015, with the headline of “About Those Abortion Videos,” I pointed out that the videos were a fabricated lie meant to destroy Planned Parenthood.  I called out Presidential candidate, Carly Fiorina, for dramatically describing an abortion scene she attributed to Planned Parenthood as a lie.  For telling this truth, I earned my first “Editor’s Prerogative Disclaimer”, and a lengthy Letter to the Editor from a pro-life interest group.  In that same column, I told you the truth moves slower than a lie.  

Last week, in Texas (I repeat, TEXAS!)  a Grand Jury was impaneled to hear evidence to indict Planned Parenthood.  In a surprising turn, the Grand Jury indicted the two people who brought the charges and who made the videos!  I did a happy dance!  I often doubt our justice system but my faith has been restored.  “I told you so!”

Now I hope that justice will be served to the 100,000 people of Flint, Michigan.  This is America, folks!  Governor Rick Snyder and the powers that be, knew the water was poisoning the residents of Flint and did nothing.  The first step toward justice is Governor Snyder has to go! I have to ask the question, “If the 9,000+ children whose IQ’s are being lowered by the lead poisoning were largely White and had Republican parents, would the Republican Governor Snyder have chosen to sit on his derriere for two years?”

Will Georgia’s education system end up like Michigan’s?  Michigan is an example of what happens when we the people have no voice in how our government is run.  The people of Michigan voted for a public act that allowed the State to seize control of troubled cities, and that included schools.  This is not very different from the Amendment to the Georgia Constitution that Governor Deal will have voting on the ballot in November. This amendment allows only the Governor to make decisions regarding our children’s education. 

I told you before of Governor Deal’s plan to take over “failing” schools.  It just so happens that these schools are located in minority and poor areas, just like in Michigan.  Michigan usurped the power from local school districts in poor and minority cities, even dissolving some school districts.  We now know that Michigan’s take over of public schools was a complete and total failed experiment.  We can’t afford to experiment with our children in Georgia.  They are not lab rats.

If Governor Deal and his cronies have their way, we will have no input into how our schools are run.  The first thing we learned about U.S. Government in school is that we are a democracy because we have a system of checks and balances.  I fear we are running out of checks and our balance is running low. 

By the time you read this, everybody in the world will know who won Iowa.  I follow presidential politics closely and I can tell you, I don’t have a clue what the outcome will be. Neither does Chuck Todd.  Historically it has not mattered.  Nobody has ever said, “So goes Iowa, so goes the rest of the country.”  I just hope if Ted Cruz wins Iowa, Will Davis doesn’t hurt himself jumping up and down. 

Remember, this is an “opinion” column.  In my opinion, High Falls has the greatest Fire Department in the entire universe, or at least in Monroe County.  Saturday night, I calmly made a 911 call explaining that I was making a “just in case” call because we smelled something suspicious in our house.  It was less than five minutes before the red truck army arrived.  With their heat-seeking thingamabob, they located the source and pre-empted what could have been a devastating fire.  I didn’t even know there was a thingamabob.  I do know that contributions to your local fire departments help them buy other thingamabobs that can be life-saving.  So the next time you see a “boot” chip in extra for more thingamabobs. 

While on the subject of High Falls, people here are excited because we have a new hardware store!   A real hardware store.  Clint & Co Hardware is located at the corner of High Falls Road and Lake Shore Drive.  You can find most anything you need for home repairs and projects.  Yea!  We no longer have to travel twelve miles to get a certain size screw, bolt, or part for a leaky toilet.  If you get a wild hair to paint your bedroom, there is a paint section.  A lumber section is coming soon.   It doesn’t take much to make the humble people of High Falls happy.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Donald Trump is God!

There’s an old saying, “One day in politics is equal to a week in real life.”  I haven’t written a political column in two weeks and boy do I have lots of material!  However, one particular incident spoke loudly to me.

Just when I thought this 2016 Presidential campaign could not get more farcical, I heard a familiar screechy, scratching on a chalk-board-like, voice.  I realized at that moment that Donald Trump is GOD.  He raised Sarah Palin from the dead! 

Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Trump for President adds an interesting twist to what’s sure to be a hit movie script.  There’s nothing better than a good “true fiction” movie.  Also, there’s nothing better than a movie that evokes emotion so strong you yell obscenities at the screen, while at the same time, laughing as hard as you would during a National Lampoon movie. 

At the endorsement event, Trump stood beside Palin grinning like a Cheshire cat (my apologies to all the Cheshire cats out there).  As she squealed and repeated every Palinism that we thought was dead and buried with her, I could see fear increase on the Donald’s face.  If there were a “thought bubble” over his head, it would have read, “What have I done?”  Knowing full well Sarah Palin would eventually say something so egregious she could possibly derail Trump’s campaign, my “thought bubble” would have read, “Baha, ha! baha, ha, ha, ha!”

It was not surprising that in less than twenty-four hours, I stopped laughing.  She was no longer funny!  Sarah Palin made the most heinous, offensive, self-serving statement of her career.  Until now, Trump’s words about Senator John McCain, a former POW, were the most despicable utterances in campaign history, when he said John McCain was a loser because he was captured.  “I don’t like losers,” Trump scowled.  Palin trumped that on Wednesday when she blamed President Obama for her son’s Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  That’s why she said her son got drunk, slugged his girlfriend in the face, kicked her in the knee, while holding an AR-15 assault rifle. Huh?  Did I hear that right or am I as deaf as Bernie Sanders?

Every veteran in our country, especially those suffering from PTSD, every woman, especially those who have suffered at the hands of domestic violence, should be outraged.   To use PTSD for her own political expediency is reprehensible.  And Donald Trump was complicit in his approval of what she said.  When are we going to hold these people accountable for their words?

This incident has conjured up a lot of questions in my mind.  If Sarah Palin was concerned about her son, Track Palin, having PTSD, why didn’t she use her vast political power to get help for him?  If she felt he wasn’t getting the help he needed, she had the world stage at her disposal to discuss this issue in a constructive manner instead of simply blaming Obama.  I’m curious why she blamed Obama and not President George Bush since Track Palin served under his administration.  Also, since this episode happened at Sarah Palin’s home, I’m curious to know if Sarah Palin is the owner of that AR-15 assault rifle that Track Palin used in the commission of this felony?  I’m even more curious to know if Palin has removed her arsenal from her home?

Surely, surely, by blaming Obama, Palin is not suggesting that Track should get a “pass” for his violent behavior.  Lest we forget, just a few months ago, a Forsyth man suffering from PTSD slugged another man in the Waffle House.  He was sentenced to ten years in prison.  Also last year, the State of Georgia executed a man suffering from PTSD who shot a police officer.  Armed with this information, I am furious that Sarah Palin did not use her political position to advocate for Veterans Courts and raise awareness of the problems faced by many veterans.

Borrowing the words of Governor Chris Christie, it is time for Sarah Palin and her entire dysfunctional family to “sit down and shut up!” 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Riddle: When is a Rooster Not a Rooster?

I am a lover of anything politics.  However, even as early as we are in this election year, I am sick of hearing about it.  I have to remind myself that there are other important things.  That’s why this week I’ve opted to ask you to solve a riddle:  “When is a rooster, not a rooster?”

I can do a lot of things well, but chicken farming ain’t one of them. When I started my flock ten years ago, I thought it would be so easy to raise chickens. My childhood memories consist of Daddy buying biddies, putting them in the yard, and a few months later, we’re either eating their eggs or eating them. While allowing my first flock to free-range, they fell prey to predators.  Soon, I was left with one annoying guinea. 

Having been spoiled to the rich taste of homegrown chicken eggs, I didn’t want to invest the time needed for baby chicks to start laying. A friend told me about an auction in Barnesville. Being my first auction ever, I was thrilled to be the high bidder on eight 4-month old white rocks. They were huge, healthy, white chickens that appeared would start laying in the next couple of months, if not weeks. 

By the light of day, I realized that these chickens were nothing more than commercial chicken house chickens. That was okay with me as long as they provided eggs. That first night, I noticed they didn’t attempt to roost; they just sat on the ground. I then noticed that they didn’t scratch at the soil. I attributed that to being in a chicken house all their life. But they could eat! I would fill the feeder and four hours later it would be empty. And they didn’t just drink water; they funneled it.

A friend offered to give me a rooster. I eagerly accepted because I thought an experienced free-range rooster could teach the ladies how to scratch, how to roost, and make them more contented in general. Didn’t happen. The rooster wouldn’t have anything to do with them. My suspicions escalated the day I bought three grown Rhode Island Red hens and threw them in the pen. Bam! Bam! Bam! The rooster was delighted to see them and was strutting his stuff.

I decided to seek the help of a chicken expert. He said he had been in the chicken business for 53 years. I told the crusty old man my story. He said, “Lady, you ain’t never gonna get an egg from them chickens. What you have is a capon!” Confused, I asked, “What’s a capon?” He replied, “A capon is a castrated rooster.” He went on to explain caponization and the effect it has on the chicken. The high steroid content of their food while developing, creates retardation (among other things.)

After that education, I had a dilemma. What do you do with castrated roosters? I listed them on Craig’s List for free but didn’t get any takers. I decided we had to eat them. It has probably been fifty years since I last witnessed a chicken killing but figured, “How hard could it be?”   My grandson, 10 years old at that time, said he wanted to help.  I was intensely proud that I could give him this unique experience.

I told my grandson to hold the feet and when I chopped off the head, he needed to hold the rooster to the ground so it wouldn’t flop. I admonished him, “Don’t turn loose!” With a full audience looking on, I chopped, and my grandson turned loose. Chaos ensued as the headless chicken began to jump around and actually was doing back flips. Every move my grandson made, the chicken was right behind him. Thus, my grandchildren learned first hand the meaning of  “running around like a chicken with his head cut off.”

When the chicken calmed down and the audience stopped yelling, my grandson looked like he had been involved in a massacre; he was covered in blood from head to toe. I was clean due to the fact that I wisely fled the scene. From there, the children had an educational experience and learned all about the anatomy of a chicken. We plucked, cleaned, quartered the rooster, and put him in the freezer.  My grandson said he was sure he was going to have nightmares about being chased by a headless chicken. My 8-year-old granddaughter vowed she was now a vegetarian. My 3-year-old grandson said, “Grandma, that was rude of you to cut that chicken’s head off.” For several years thereafter, if I served chicken to them they would ask, “Where did that come from?”

At the time all this happened, I thought the entire rooster experience was a nightmare.  I now know it was the making of a happy memory.  I’m certain my grandchildren will be telling this memory to their children and the experience will live on, regardless of who is elected President this year.

So, the answer to the riddle “When is a rooster not a rooster?” is “When it is a capon.”

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Grieving for the Times of the "Goat Man"

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out the Trump phenomena.   The common dominator of Trump supporters seems to be anger.  Then I recalled that anger is a stage of grief.  That led me to the conclusion that well-intentioned Americans are grieving the loss of our Country, as we knew it.  Our grief has manifested itself in anger.  We’ll never be able to go back to those carefree times.  Those times when we were tolerant of each other and didn’t fear for our families or ourselves.  Then, that led me to think about the life and times of Charles “Chess” McCartney. 

Unless you are a senior citizen (as defined by the AARP), and a native Georgian, you have probably never heard of Charles McCartney.  However, you have probably heard of the legendary “Goat Man” from your parents or grandparents.  The Goat Man died in 1998 in a nursing home in Macon at the age of…nobody knows.  One thing for sure, there will never be another Goat Man because an era of tolerance for eccentrics was buried with him.  Nobody would be allowed to live the way he did in today’s society.

The Goat Man was a wandering, itinerant preacher who created the “Free Thinking Christian Mission” and he traveled the Eastern United States, in a cart pulled by a bunch of goats.  Unless you experienced seeing the Goat Man, I know it sounds incredulous. 

I feel so fortunate to have the memories of the Goat Man.  It speaks volumes of my childhood in White Oak, Georgia, in the 1950’s when I say the most exciting thing that happened each year was the arrival of the Goat Man.  We would hear of his pending arrival days, sometimes weeks in advance.  Tourists traveling U. S. Highway 17 would stop at Daddy’s service station and mention they had seen the Goat Man.  Upon hearing this, I would make it a point to ask customers if they had seen the Goat Man and how far away he was.  I would constantly stare down the highway hoping to be the first one to get a glimpse of our “guest.”  Then you would hear shouts, “The Goat Man is coming!”  He would usually arrive on a Saturday.  That rattletrap cart, pulled by those scraggly goats, was a beautiful and exciting sight.  Oh, did I mention you could smell him coming before you actually saw him?

The Goat Man would pitch camp across from the service station and locals and tourists would stop to visit and often times laugh at the vagabond.  Occasionally someone would buy one of his postcards depicting his travels.  The highlight of his visit was his preachin’.  I knew the Goat Man was special because my Daddy, who only left the house on Sunday’s to “go see a man about a dog,” would make a special trip to White Oak to take Mama and I to attend his Sunday afternoon preachin’.  He preached fire and brimstone with a ragged Bible in his hand.  It was obvious he couldn’t read. When reciting a verse and his memory failed him, he always blamed it on the goats eating that page.

An idiosyncrasy that I have today is because of the Goat Man.  One day he milked a goat, put some in a tin cup and urged me to drink it.  Hot goat milk! Yuck!  To this day, I don’t drink or taste something totally unfamiliar.     

So, I grieve over the loss of the Goat Man and what he symbolized–a time when things weren’t so complicated and if a person wanted to be “free” they truly could be.  The Goat Man cometh no more.

The truth is, we can’t go back to those times that seem so great in hindsight.  We are all grieving.  However, we don’t have to let hate and anger cloud our good judgment and hasten the demise of this great country. 

Marilyn Langford



Saturday, January 2, 2016

2016--Georgians Most Important Vote Ever

If you thought 2015 was a politically crazy year, wait until you see what’s in store for 2016. 

On the State level, we have a lot of unfinished business from 2015.  Just because you haven’t heard much from the Gold Dome in a few months, doesn’t mean they have not been scheming…strike that.  I meant to say, “planning.”  Look for Senator Josh McKoon to have figured out a way to get his homophobic legislation, the one he disguises as a religious freedom bill, finally passed.  This year, I wouldn’t be surprised if he included the wording, “…religious freedom for anyone but a Muslim.”

In November of this year, we Georgians will have the opportunity to cast perhaps the most important vote of our lifetime.  No, it’s not about whom you will vote for as President.  It’s much more personal to us in Georgia than that.  It’s about whether we will fight for our children and their education, or turn total control over to Governor Deal and the Koch Brothers.  The most important decision you will make this election year is whether to vote for the Amendment to the Georgia Constitution to give Governor Deal the power to decide how, where, and what our children will be taught. 

The name of this Amendment has not been released yet.  Look for it to have a title designed to evoke an immediate approval, much like the “Religious Freedom” bill.  “Hell yeah, I’m in favor of religious freedom!”  It’s not until you actually read the Bill that you learn it’s anything but freedom.  They have already changed the language once.  They started out using the term “Failing Schools.”  Then they realized those words indicated the color and economic level of those they were targeting.  Then someone suggested the term “Opportunity Schools” was more palatable and deceptive. 

We don’t know what name they will ultimately use to identify this enslaving Amendment but look for it to be something unidentifiable, but memorable. Prior to 1976, Governors in Georgia were limited to one four-year term.  That changed when the very popular Governor George Busbee, spear-headed amending the State Constitution to allow Governors two consecutive four-year terms.  The campaign was massive, yet simple.  It consisted of signs and placards posted in every available space, “Vote YES on Amendment 2.”  I never knew if people even knew what they were voting “yes” for but it passed overwhelmingly. 

As for the wording of the Amendment, each word will be analyzed and market tested.  The goal will be to meet the requirements of the law while keeping the wording as innocuous and confusing as possible.  The Amendment will probably read like Donald Trump wrote it. After all, his words are duping America and he says nothing of substance.  It could read something like, “Do you vote to amend the Georgia Constitution to make Georgia’s school students the smartest and greatest in the entire world?” You shout, “Hell yeah!”

What the wording won’t tell you is that we will be selling our children to the highest Charter School bidder.  You won’t be told that our entire education system in Georgia will be restructured.  Don’t like what they are doing?  Complain to your local school board.  Nope, won’t be one.  Vote out the State Superintendent of Schools?  Can’t.  He will be appointed by the Governor and will answer only to the Governor and his handpicked bureaucrats.  The wording won’t tell you that you will have no say-so in the way your school is run.  The teachers won’t work for you, the parent.  They will work for the privately owned charter schools. 

Make no mistake about it.  Shortly, we will be bombarded with an unprecedented advertisement campaign financed by the special interest groups that will benefit from taking over our school system.  The ad campaign will start dark with scary statistics.  Closer to the election, the ads will offer hope and inspiring stories convincing us that Governor Nathan Deal, a former junk dealer, knows how to teach our children.  These ads will be good because this is Governor Deal’s legacy.  Unlike an elected Governor or President, you can’t vote out an amendment to our State Constitution in four years. 

I don’t always fault Governor Deal.  I praise him for his efforts to bring casino gambling to Georgia.  He says “No,” but his eyes say “yes.”