Sunday, March 27, 2016

Confession: Fugitive from Justice

This week, I felt we needed a respite from all the gloominess and goofiness going on in our world, our nation, and our state.  The following true story is my attempt to lighten things up.

I love springtime and attending the various festivals.  Here in Forsyth, we just celebrated the Forsythia Festival and Macon is in the midst of the Cherry Blossom Festival.  As much fun as they may be, I cannot bring myself to attend the festivities held at night.  I suffer from post-traumatic stress!

In an effort to improve my PTSD, I have decided to confess to my past criminal act and my life as a fugitive from justice.  Here it goes, folks, and please don’t judge me too harshly.

In our young married days, George and I called Savannah home for ten years.  In 1976, Savannah started a street festival to promote its downtown area in honor of the Bicentennial.  It was called “Night in Old Savannah.”  This became a wonderful annual event with great food and great entertainment.  It was at one of these celebrations that we were able to hear patriotic, singing legend Kate Smith, sing “God Bless America”, live (well, almost) and in person.   

When our son was only two years old, we made our annual trek to “Night in Old Savannah.”  After walking and carrying him through throngs of people, we were exhausted. We finally found a place in a nearby, unlit square where we could sit and still hear the music. 

All the benches were occupied but a nice grassy area was available.  We collapsed in the long, soft grass beside a group of teenagers.   The teenagers began picking at our son, or visa versa.  In any event, our son pulled up a hand-full of the long, soft grass and threw it at the teenagers.  They reciprocated.  In just a short while, other teenagers joined in the grass fight.  Our son was in the thick of it, and at times they would all bombard him, actually burying him in grass.  All the while he was laughing and having the time of his young life.  The darkness of the square did not allow us to see anyone’s face. We could only see the outlines and shadows of everyone in the square, including the adults getting into the act of throwing grass.  This was truly a fun night in old Savannah!  Good, clean fun with teenagers playing with a small child.

Two days later while reading the newspaper, an article caught my eye.  Vandals Destroy Rare Grass in Square.  As my knees began to shake, I read the article.  The article stated it was believed that teenaged revelers at the Night in Old Savannah celebration destroyed a rare border grass that was imported from Argentina (or one of those South American countries) and it was going to cost the City of Savannah thousands of dollars to replace.  I became so hot, it’s a wonder the newspaper didn’t catch fire! 

For weeks, I was afraid to take our son out in public for fear someone would recognize him and yell, “There’s that kid that destroyed the rare grass!”   Like every criminal, I returned to the scene of the crime.  I couldn’t believe how it looked in the daylight and couldn’t understand how we could mistake the obvious borders for a place to sit. 

Phew!  I feel much better.  I pray that after 40 years, the statute of limitation on grass vandalism protects my family! 

Good news for residents of High Falls, Blount, and anyone in need of help with your food budget!  The Bell’s of the Trading Post located at 42 N and Blount Road have opened a free food pantry.  The food pantry is open each Thursday and Friday with fresh produce and many other grocery items.  No questions asked.  This is a much-needed service to our community.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Religious Freedom Bill Hogwash

It’s a great day in America and the entire world!  Millions upon millions of people are dancing in the streets.  Donald Trump announced he is not running for President and is going into seclusion without his cell phone.  Then I woke up!

We have a lot to look forward to this week.  Spring has sprung, the Easter Bunny is coming, and the State Legislature drops the handkerchief on another less than awe-inspiring session. 

Waiting for the legislative session to be over each year is like waiting on Christmas; it seems to take forever for it to get here and when it’s over, we’re often left disappointed and think, “What a waste of hard earned dollars!”  Here’s a prime example:  Much time, effort, and energy (not to mention tax dollars) was spent on passing the HB 757, the Religious Freedom Bill.  It more aptly should have been called the Right to Discriminate law. 

For two years, this Religious Freedom Bill went back and forth between the House and Senate.  Finally, HB 757 emerged and was lauded as a “compromise” bill.  We all know that Republicans love to compromise.  Yeah, right!  Instead of making the bill more palatable to more people by softening the language, the implications were made harsher.  This legislation now allows for any faith-based organization to fire, or refuse hiring anyone with whom they disagree on religious grounds, not just LBGT people.  And to make it sound even more acceptable, they threw in a provision that pastors will not be forced to perform same-sex marriages.  Huh? 

The bill now sits on Governor Deal’s desk to either sign into law or veto.  Deal says he’ll have to think about it for a few weeks. What’s there to think about? If the bill is signed into law, Georgia will experience a crippling economic impact.  Most all the major companies that comprise the economic backbone of Georgia are warning of the dire consequences to our State.  Here in Georgia, we pride ourselves in our sports teams and sports events.  The Hawks, the Braves, and the Falcons are urging the Governor to veto this Bill.  No more Super Bowls, no more Final Fours, the loss of the movie industry, untold numbers of businesses leaving Georgia or not locating to Georgia, the canceling and boycotting of events and conventions. All possibilities.  If signed into law, the only convention in Georgia will be the Southern Baptist Convention.

Georgia stands much to lose and little to gain.  The need to pass legislation to protect a constitutional right is a bunch of hogwash.  Call Governor Deal and tell him so.  404-656-1776.

Sometimes when I read these bills, I have to scratch my head.  One such bill was Senate Bill 85 approved this week.  This bill, sponsored by Republican State Representative Brad Raffensperger of John’s Creek, bars immigrants without legal status from serving on local boards, commissions, and councils.   I suppose we should applaud Mr. Raffensperger for his forward thinking.  After all, there are a total of two such people serving in that capacity in the United States and that’s in California.  You should feel safer now that we are protected from this looming threat. 
Our representatives have their priorities screwed up.  They concentrate on irrelevant and unnecessary legislation while ignoring measures that actually help people instead of hurting them.  Legalizing medical marijuana oil for children’s seizures and a few other disorders last year was a step in the right direction.  The big problem is, short of traveling to Colorado, there’s no easy, legal way to obtain the medication.  There was the false hope this year the list of ailments helped by this medication would be expanded, the minimum age be raised, and a method to cultivate and distribute be identified.  Governor Deal shut it down!  It’s the equivalent of saying, “We have a cure for cancer but we aren’t going to let it be manufactured.”  Representative Allen Peake of Macon vows to continue fighting for passage of this legislation. 

Happy Easter everyone and I hope you make a memory!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Will Somebody Have to Die?


People, people, people!  Does someone have to die or do we have to witness a bloodbath to break the spell Donald Trump has over “his people.”  There has been a constant escalation of the violent rhetoric coming from the one person responsible for setting the tone of a political campaign—the candidate, Trump himself!

I don’t usually say the words “I told you so.”  In this case, I feel compelled to point out to you that I have done a pretty good job of reading the tea leaves in this highly unpredictable political campaign.  As early as August 18, 2015, in this Unfair and Unbalanced column, I talked about Newton’s third law of motion “every motion has an equal and opposite reaction,” and how this is relevant to politics.  I pointed out that for every action Trump takes, there will be an equal and opposite reaction.  After months of threats, insults, and denigrating all things we usually hold sacred, Trump has gone beyond the pale.

Additionally, in the following except from my column dated September 15, 2015, I predicted the following:

I don’t see any scenario where he (Trump) will simply quit.  He’s got all the money in the world, now he wants all the power.  I don’t know what more he can say, or whom else he can offend that would cause him to plummet in the polls.  As you may have noticed by now, I have an active imagination and I’ve been trying to conjure up what will cause the end of Trump’s run for President.  I finally figured it out!  One of Trump’s goons is going to get over-zealous, drunk on the power, and do bodily harm to an innocent by-stander or protester.  Then the good people of this country will realize they don’t want a bully for President after all.

At the time I wrote that, I obviously under estimated the power of a narcissistic psychopath to incite violence among people whom otherwise are patriotic, peace loving, and considerate of other people’s opinions and beliefs.  I read a letter of apology written by a Korean War veteran caught on tape shoving a young African American woman at a rally in Kentucky.  His local veterans organization found his behavior shocking. He said everything was calm until Trump took the stage.  Then the shouting started.  At the insistence of Trump to “Get them out” the crowd started shoving and he was pushed to the floor.  Unbeknownst to him at the time, he was surrounded by a white supremacist group and he got caught up in the “moment.”   That’s no excuse, but that’s insight into how fast a person’s mentality can change when they are caught up in an angry mob being spurred to violence by their leader. 

The big question mark in my head my entire life has been “How did Hitler and Mussolini convince so many people to share their evil thinking and carry out their evil deeds so willingly?”  After witnessing the advent of Donald Trump, I now have a better understanding of that ugly time in history. 

A very scary sign that Donald Trump sees himself as more than a presidential candidate is the way he lays a personal claim to his supporters.  When we as citizens vote for someone, we are called a “supporter.”  Trump refers to his supporters as “my people.  He constantly pits voters against each other by using the term “their people” versus “my people.”  I find this extremely offensive.  I do not belong to a politician.  Only Jesus may consider me one of “his people”. I am not, and never will be a “Kool-Aid” drinker.  

We could be on the verge of another ugly time in history.  Hopefully this column will not prove to be prophetic and nobody has to die before Trump is rejected by all of America.