Demons Among Us

“They are not demons, not devils…

Worse than that.

They are people.”

Andrzej Sapkowski, Wieża Jaskółki

There are demons among us. The worst of these are those who would have you believe they are angels. Demons with fake angel wings instead of “wolves in sheep’s’ clothing.” Demons dressed in suits or suit dresses, welding their power over us. They are about to ruin my love for the horror genre…and my country.

MTG easing into the day, contemplating her next mischief

I love the horror genre…especially those with demons. Not slasher movies, I’ll explain why later. I do give a nod to the original “Halloween.” Demons don’t get any more malevolent than Mikey in his Captain Kirk mask.

I was hooked when Reagan MacNeil in “The Exorcist” brought new meaning to the term “projectile vomit” and laughed as the Pillsbury Doughboy did his Godzilla impersonation in “Ghostbusters.”

Present day its Paramount’s “Evil” with its horrifying yet humorous portrayal of demons being pursued by a Priest, a non-believing psychologist, and non-believing Muslim techy. “Good Omens” featuring an angel and a demon joining forces to save the world from the Apocalypse caught my interest too. Seems the unlikely pair found common ground. The secular world held their desire more than the post Apocalypse. A glass of a good wine with a meal in a swanky French restaurant beats hellfire and brimstone every time. It seems humor as much as horror dictates my viewing choices.

Latest Republican backroom meeting (a scene from “Evil”)

Even without humor, horror movies and TV programming do not scare me as much as the real world around me. Horror movies are not real. I know that. The January 6th riots were real and horrific, as real to me today as two years ago. Demons residing in the hearts of men…that’s real. There is no humor…that’s real.

Demons in the guise of angels defending what happened on that day and receiving top committee assignments in the new Congress. Demons laughing in our face.

Demons 2021, horns and all

According to Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, “A demon is a malevolent supernatural entity. Historically, belief in demons, or stories about demons, occurs in religion, occultism, literature, fiction, mythology, and folklore; as well as in media such as comics, video games, movies, anime, and television series.”

The belief in demons has been around as long as humans have been unable to explain the evil they encountered. The fear of being possessed by demons seems to be a common thread in most religions as if evil can’t be found in the hearts of mere men without possession.

Even the evil minions attempt to blame demon possession. David Berkowitz, aka the Son of Sam, is the most well-known example of a serial killer blaming a demon for their actions. He claimed possession by the demon possessing his neighbor’s dog, Sam. If Berkowitz had had a jury of QAnon followers, he would have beaten the rap.

Many believe that certain evils had to be perpetrated by a minion of the devil that had taken over some poor unsuspecting soul. It couldn’t be just man’s inhumanity to man. How can you rationally explain Berkowitz and an estimated thirty to fifty serial killers operating in the US at any given time? This is why I don’t like slasher movies and worry my enjoyment of horror will be diminished because the real world is becoming scarier. Too real…too close to the truth…demons walk among us.

As dangerous as serial killers are, I don’t fear them as much as those possessed into thinking they are doing good when they are not and that their way is the only way to save the world…or at least to make America great again.

Satan’s Demon Trinity

“Never trust a demon. He has a hundred motives for anything he does … Ninety-nine of them, at least, are malevolent.” ―  Neil Gaiman, The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes & Nocturnes

As I watched our politics in “inaction“ for the last few weeks, I think of the above quote. Our political system has been taken over by malevolent demons…at least those fifteen or twenty on the far right who seem determined to hold our country ransom. They must be possessed, there can be no other explanation.

Vestiges of the Tea Party, or their minions, made a deal with Kevin McCarty and maybe the devil too. I’m sure there are some demons on the far left but Bernie Sanders doesn’t seem to be possessed…oh wait, the right believes “The Squad” is possessed and Nancy and Adam are devils incarnate…Lilith and Lucifer? Too high an accolade?

Once, during election leadups, those running for office attempted to pass themselves off as angels only concerned with the needs of their constituents, their silken, gossamer white wings spread wide, halos brightly polished to a blinding shine to ensure their followers couldn’t see their demon horns. Quickly they trade their angel regalia for those resembling a Dark Ages gargoyle as soon as they enter the hallowed halls of government.

I’m not sure that is true today. Many were gargoyle like from the beginning and were elected or reelected nonetheless. This scares me even more. How else do you explain Jim Jordan in shirt sleeves bellowing into a microphone. We have people blind to their demon’s malevolence…which makes me wonder about their own possession.

A Green Jim Jordan. I cut off his horns.

Maybe I’m being too dark. Maybe instead of little demons and devils I should start watching some Zombie programing…” The Walking Dead” or “iZombie.” Wait there are parallels there too, “Brains, I must have Brains!!!” Fine, but I doubt you will find any in the hallowed halls of Congress. Especially the right-side of the aisle.

***

Point: The notion that gargoyles were demonic was introduced in “The Horn of Vapula” (Lewis Spence, 1932), in which a demon familiar becomes a horned and goatlike gargoyle. Prior to this time gargoyles were thought to be protection against demons.

If you are a fan of “Ghostbusters” (1984) you also know that gargoyles appear as horned canine statues in the movie where they are possessed by the demonic spirits of Zuul and Vinz Klortho.

Point Two: While there is much to wish for regardless of party, I believe the Grand Old Party has sold its soul to the Devil.

To access Don Miller’s Authors Page, click on the following: https://www.amazon.com/stores/Don-Miller/author/B018IT38GM?ref=ap_rdr&store_ref=ap_rdr&isDramIntegrated=true&shoppingPortalEnabled=true

I Still Don’t Understand What’s So Bad About Kwanzaa

“For families across the country, today marks the beginning of a joyous time to reflect on the rich African-American culture and to remember the principles of unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith—principles that reflect our most cherished values as Americans.” — Barack Obama

I originally shared a similar post in 2015. Once again, I made the mistake of reading some of the comments made about Kwanzaa from some of our news sources. Little has changed it seems, so I decided to rewrite and share again.

Kwanzaa is racist. It is contrived. SOME PEOPLE are trying to replace Christmas. The founder was a Sixties’ black militant felon with ties to the Black Power Movement and not even African. Most of these arguments are made by very “hard right” publications like…well all of them. Or made by internet trolls on liberal or middle of the road news sites.

Is St. Patrick’s Day racist? It’s no longer a religious celebration I would say. Is Cinco de Mayo racist? It celebrates a great Mexican victory over the French…Mexico for the most part doesn’t celebrate it. There are dozens of other ethnocultural celebrations, mostly white celebrations, so why pick on Kwanzaa? Are our racist petticoats still showing?

Kwanzaa is contrived. All holidays are contrived. When Adam and Eve were created or our forefathers learned to walk on two feet, did they have a holiday to celebrate? I don’t think so. I don’t know when the celebration of Christmas first occurred. Well, I do. I also know there was no biblical mandate to celebrate the Birth of Christ at all.

Emperor Constantine first mandated the celebration of Christmas on December 25 in 336AD. Constantine didn’t know when Jesus was born. No one knows and Constantine did it as much as a political move as a religious one. Does that detract from its importance? While Christmas was celebrated in the colonies before John Smith raised a glass of eggnog, it didn’t become a national holiday in the US until 1870. Contrived? Made up? Well, the date is.

Again, why are we picking on Kwanzaa? If you are going to pick on a contrived holiday pick on St. Valentine’s Day. The former religious celebration has become an observance of guilt for the purpose of lining the pockets of candy makers, jewelers, and florists.

Kwanzaa begins on December 26 and ends January 1 and is not a religious celebration at all. It is a celebration of family, community, nation, and race and doesn’t compete with Christmas or the dozen other year end or New Year celebrations. Why not pick on them?

I cannot deny that Kwanzaa’s founder, Maulana Ndabezitha Karenga (born Ronald McKinley Everett) was a Sixties Black Power militant, who at the time had never set foot in Africa. Let’s remember this is an African American celebration celebrating African culture, not an African celebration celebrating African culture. He did serve time on felony charges and was paroled in the mid Seventies. His time in prison was well spent. He is now Dr. Karenga and taught African Studies which I guess makes him even worse…a liberal.

The Sixties were a time of social strife. Civil Rights, the War in Viet Nam, gender inequality, the Native American movement, and the Chicano movement were just some of the social issues championed by people like Cassius Clay, known to us now as Muhammad Ali, or Tommie Smith’s and Juan Carlos’s Black Power Salute at the 1968 Olympics.

Kwanzaa was “contrived” just two years after the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and just two years before the assassination of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy. African Americans might be forgiven for wanting something positive to hang on to…and still might.

Karenga created Kwanzaa in 1966 to be the first pan-African holiday. Karenga said his goal was to “give Blacks an alternative to the existing holidays and give Blacks an opportunity to celebrate themselves and their history, rather than simply imitate the practice of the dominant society.”

Kwanzaa is inspired by African “first fruit” traditions, and the name chosen is from Swahili, “matunda ya kwanza.” The rituals of the holiday promote African traditions and Nguzo Saba, the “seven principles of African Heritage” that Karenga described as “a communitarian African philosophy”. Thank you, Wikipedia

Those seven principles are: Unity, Self-determination, Collective work and responsibility, Cooperative economics, Purpose, Creativity, and Faith. Radical?

To say it is not African is absurd. There are over fifty countries in Africa and some three thousand tribal units. Many of the countries did not exist at the time Africans were being shipped to the New World. Each tribe has a different culture. Kwanzaa is a blending of those cultures. Many African Americans do not have the luxury of knowing the country or tribe of their origin, so Kwanzaa is not culture specific. Whoopsie doo dah! I would say celebrate to your heart’s content and if you don’t…quietly go about business.

If you would wish to learn more about Kwanzaa, History.com, connected to the History Channel, has a link: http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/kwanzaa-history you might want to visit. I would say “Don’t let the facts confuse you.”

Political Football…Woah Nellie!!! They’re Taking it to the House.

“You really do own your illiteracy, don’t you?”

“Yeah, I’m thinking about moving to America and running for public office.”
― Alexis Hall, Boyfriend Material

I coached high school football for twenty-nine years. I understood the game as it was played at that time, but I assure you I’ve never understood American politics. Just like football today doesn’t resemble the game I played and coached, politics do not resemble the “game” I grew up with. While American football has become more entertaining, Political football has not. It has become painful.

Politics has always seemed a bit dishonest to me, but today, politicians are hiding their dishonesty in plain sight. Politics is not about morals. It’s not about ethics. It’s not about governing. It’s about power. Win at all costs! If American politics were college football, both teams would have received the NCAA “Death Penalty.”

The fans in red shout, “Push ’em back, push ’em back, wayyyyy back!”

It is political football season, and the United States is down late in the game and facing a third down and a taxi ride…third down and forever. For those who don’t understand “football-ese” there are no plays for third down and ridiculously long yardage that gives a coach any hope for success. Yet here we are facing what I think is a mid-term, third down, “Hail Mary” at best.

Our political system is broken, that shouldn’t be a news flash. The breakage has been going on forever plus a day and it is growing worse…on both sidelines. If the system were a football, it belonged to Tom Brady during Deflategate. It gets worse, both teams have lost their starting quarterbacks and are down to their third string linemen. Negative yardage plays are the rule not the exception. They should think about punting on first down.

What is the game plan? There doesn’t seem to be one. Let’s pull a play out of a helmet and see if it works. Punch them in the face and hope for a snot bubble. Games are not won by who yells the loudest and politics shouldn’t be about who yells the most heated rhetoric. But…here we are hurling insults at the other team…I mean political party. Just insults and no substance.

The cheerleaders in blue yell, “Shimmy up a toothpick, slide down a pine, look at the scoreboard and see who’s behind…YOU!!!”

My hopeful voice tells me it will be okay, brighter heads will prevail and the lamebrains will be voted out. Then a blond lamebrain already elected reminds me otherwise. My cynical voice tells me there is no way because we are playing a political game of football with selfish and mentally challenged coaches and ethically challenged players who only care about the numbers on the back of their jerseys. The fans? They only know the colors of the jerseys, red or blue, and their allegiance is to a color not the country.

Fans in red yell while pointing, “Kill ’em, Kill ’em we don’t care, we’ve got a graveyard over there,” they honestly mean it. This is not a metaphor. (This was a cheer at my college alma mater. There was a cemetery next to the stadium. It was metaphor.)

The political ad season is upon us. The political ad playbook is to misinform and propagandize and it works. Hitler’s big lie is alive and well and we swallow it like a greasy stadium chili dog washed down with flat beer…and we like it and ask for more. Research? This is football not a physics lab.

Our teams use every misdirection play in the playbook from reverses to flea flickers to lonesome ends, but our favorite is the hidden truth…I mean the hidden ball trick. Distract and confuse the opposition’s fan base who is also distracting and confusing their opposition’s fan base. Where has truth gone and why do we allow ourselves to be lied to? Is lying the first rule of political football? Is accepting lies the second rule?

Again, I hear the cheerleaders dressed in blue chanting, “Chewin’ tobacco, chewin’ tobacco spit, spit, spit. Ex-lax, Ex-lax, go team go!”

In my deeply red state of SC, I think I shall vomit into my facemask. Thank goodness I can DVR and run past the ads. One gubernatorial candidate, the incumbent, launches forward passes of “We don’t do that down here” while his liberal, Commie loving opponent brings up football as a metaphor.

It doesn’t matter that the liberal is not a Commie, the red team will win easily because it is easier to support the team rather than the truth and it is the fans’ fault because they could care less about the truth and just hate the word liberal. Being called a liberal in South Carolina is like waving a red cape in front of a bull. Nothing good will come of it.

Just a few South Carolina truth bombs. “Go Deep Henry!” Preferably out of the end zone, through the runway and out of the stadium. Take your ball home with you.

We rank in the top ten of the worst states for domestic violence, infrastructure, education, equality, and obesity according to the latest US News statistics. We rank in the bottom fifteen in public healthcare and access to healthcare, and despite a top twenty economy, rank in the bottom fifteen in economic opportunity. We rank 47th. of fifty in infant mortality.

None of those rankings matter as long as “We don’t do that down here” and thumb our noses at Washington. We will continue to vote against our best interest because “That’s how my daddy and his daddy voted.”

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t totally blame you, Henry. You are the quarterback but only as good as the players on your team and the fans that continue to cheer for their side regardless of truth.

The facts are this, the red team has been in total control of South Carolina, the Governor’s office, the Senate, and the House, for nineteen consecutive years. Yea team!!!! We rank forty-fourth overall among the fifty states. As we like to say, “Thank God for Mississippi.”

One blue fan base yell, “Go back, go back, go back into the woods, your momma dresses funny and your team ain’t no good!

The red counters with, Go back, go back, go back into the woods! Your breath smells like cat piss and your girl does too.” Infantile? Yes, we are.

We have abandoned all truths. We’ve abandoned those truths that made us what we were, and our political parties hold much of the blame for turning our country into the football game from hell. We the fans share the blame…are to blame. We allow it. We vote for the same old tired rhetoric our grandparents voted for. Our loyalty is to the team and not to the game. Ethics? We can’t spell the word because we rank 44th. in education.

In real football games, one team wins, and one team loses. In most cases, when the clock runs out, we shake hands and go to the local watering hole, forget our good-natured hazing, and raise a few whiles discussing what went right or wrong. In political football, no one wins except the politicians and their rich supporters, and we go to the local watering hole and try to bludgeon each other to death.

Let’s face facts about political football, it’s not about morals. It’s not about ethics. It’s not about governing. It’s all about power. A recent quote, “I don’t care if Herschel Walker paid to abort endangered baby eagles. I want control of the Senate,” from former NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch sums it up. She added that “winning is a virtue.”

Just like a football game where winning is the only thing, we really don’t care about lies and deceit and who paid how much for a blue chip QB. We just care about the W and the political National Championship.

How else do you explain a football great who is running for the Georgia Senate that obviously took too many helmets to the head or a woman in SC running for Superintendent of Education who has never stood in front of a classroom and has yet to meet the qualifications to run? These are just a couple of examples.

I don’t know what November must hold. There will be fumbles and interceptions. Crushing defeats and winning by the skin of our teeth. There will be bizarre plays and goal line stands. This will also be repeated in 2024.

I know, I will be glad when the political football season is over, win, lose, or draw. I would never say that about American football.

Interested in reading more of Don Miller’s thoughts? His authors page can be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR3U-N4HtAUsEOnyjKd_cVNPL6ywvzooknWm93aa0gGRAVnaIpKPPzIjlDc

Rant Alert: Why Teachers Have it so Good

“Teachers got it good they [teachers] get a great pension they never pay in the social security they get free lunches they only work 9 months a year and have weekends off.” – Facebook PhD

Note to self, don’t read the comments, it will take time out of your life you can’t get back and cause irritations you simply don’t need. Mr. Facebook PhD, “Have you ever used commas or periods?” Names have been changed to protect the mentally deficient.

I feel the need to clarify…no, I feel the need to rant since Mr. Facebook PhD refused to engage. Remember, don’t read the comments!!!!

Teachers do have pensions. In South Carolina where I taught until retirement, we contribute seven percent of our salaries to have a pension. Seven percent. Even after I retired and “double dipped”, a misnomer, I paid seven percent into my pension which didn’t increase my retirement one penny.

We also contribute to our own healthcare after retirement to the tune of $100.00 per month on average. It is, with Medicare, great healthcare unless you are becoming deaf, going blind, or losing your teeth.

Nationwide, most teachers pay into social security although there are some teachers that don’t, about 1.2 million. Their states chose to roll the dice that their state offered pensions would pay better. A few rolled ‘seven come eleven’ and others have thrown ‘snake eyes’.

Free lunches? “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch” and most teachers have little time to gulp it down anyway. I’m sure there are school districts that provide teachers with free lunches but for over forty years I bought mine or carried a paper bag with a sandwich, yogurt, and a pack of Nabs. Oh, for those days of rectangular pizza slices with a side of corn and a cup of peaches.

I normally ate on the move making sure little Johnny or Jenny Sue didn’t do something stupid. My favorite duty station was restroom monitor…eating my turkey sandwich while breathing in ‘ode de urine’ making sure little Johnny wasn’t lighting up a blunt or flushing someone’s head in the urinal.

The final nail that caught my attention, the fallacy of having three months off in the summers and free weekends. “There ain’t no such thing as a free summer or weekend.” There are courses to be taken, instructional workshops to attend, standards to be reviewed, and yearly plans to be made during the summer…and now you must review your syllabus making sure nothing you teach or none of your reading material suggests CRT, Marxism, or why little Johnny has two dads or two mothers.

Weekends? Papers to be graded, grades to be recorded, and lesson plans that must be turned in first thing on Monday morning.

But what about your planning period? Parents to contact or professional learning communities or data meetings to attend…a quick trip to the restroom? Planning? Rarely does planning happen. Did I mention that most weekday evenings suck too?

As a side note, because many are confused, teachers are paid for the one hundred eighty days they teach and whatever planning days are added in. In our state, South Carolina, it is one hundred and ninety days. Federal holidays? Nope. Summer? Nope. Our one hundred and ninety days are divided into twelve months so that we don’t starve in the summer. Still many must take summer jobs just to supplement their families’ income if they can work it around workshops, we aren’t paid for…or paid little, to attend.

So, while we are paid over the summer, we are not paid FOR the summer. Further note, many school districts are moving to year-round school. Did the pay go up…nope, nope, nope, they are still on site for one hundred and ninety days.

Much is being written and there are myriads of opinions about teacher shortages. Good, experienced teachers dropping out, few new teachers entering the profession. Anyone who slept through my US History class has offered an opinion.

Many teachers have pointed to the increase in lack of respect from politicians, administrators, parents, and students. While lack of respect has certainly increased, it is not new. Teachers have never been recognized as ‘real’ professionals…we aren’t even recognized as real state employees unless it benefits the state.

When I first faced a class of smiling faces some fifty years ago, I was an anomaly of sorts, a male in a profession populated by females. At the junior high school there were only four males on staff. A principal, an assistant principal, a physical educator, and yours truly.

Male teachers were recruited to coach, not to provide mentorship in the classroom unless it was a blue-chip athlete. Coaches with history degrees were a dime a dozen which is why I added a physical science certification to put beans on the table…ridiculously small plates of beans. Yes, I was originally recruited to coach but am proud of my teaching career. I didn’t teach to coach, I coached to teach.

Why might you ask? Teaching was viewed as women’s work, a nice side job to keep the ‘little lady’ out of trouble and supplement the household income provided by the male who ‘did the real work.’ This was an improvement over the days when ‘schoolmarms’ had to quit if they got married. The view that teaching was a side job is one of the reasons teachers haven’t been paid as professionals until recently, if at all. Presently, women make up seventy-five percent of the nation’s teachers.

Another problem in what was once ‘textile country’, you don’t need to have much education to run a machine and uneducated workers don’t expect to get paid as much. “Keep ’em stupid, keep them poor” might have been a mantra.

That belief is a holdover from the textile days which ended in the Eighties and why we have a challenging time finding qualified technicians and engineers to fill our needs. We must recruit from other states and countries to maintain our 24th-place ranking in economic outlook.

Teachers tend to be looked down upon because of the “Those who can do, those who can’t teach” mentality which has been around much longer than the past decade. A family member once asked me in all seriousness when I was going to get a real job. Another asked me when I would graduate from teaching at a junior high school.

Public Education is in decline and parents, politicians and those who believe education should be used to fatten certain people’s billfolds (private schools) are throwing the dirt in its grave. With three hundred thousand teaching vacancies, many states are lowering their teaching standards to allow anyone who can breathe the opportunity to teach. Many parents believe this is fine as long as their schools provide free childcare and a couple of free meals during the day. One more slap in the face of dedicated teachers.

Public education hasn’t helped itself. Bloated administration costs, emphasis on testing instead of problem solving, passing everyone to elevate graduation rates, and a decrease in reading and math skills upon graduation have not endeared public education to certain groups, including me. We continue to lag in math and reading. There are more Facebook PhDs on the horizon, but these won’t be able to add and subtract either.

Add to this toxic brew, the politically motivated accusations of indoctrination, grooming, teaching CTR, teaching Marxism, etcetera, ad nauseum, I understand why good teachers are getting out and teacher education programs are sucking air. I had two choices of callings when I graduated from college. In this environment I would pick the other one.

I would like to emphasize three points that exemplify the problems found in South Carolina. This is an incomplete list.

We have formed a task force in South Carolina at Governor Foghorn Leghorn’s insistence to study teacher recruitment and retainment. There are no presently teaching teachers on the task force. These members are political appointees and the two who have taught haven’t in several decades.

A new state superintendent will be elected this November and one candidate running does not yet have the qualifications to run and no teaching experience. She has never stood in front of a classroom. I pray she will not meet the qualifications in November because in our state, she will be elected because so many people vote straight party ballots.

If education is fully funded in South Carolina this year, it will be the first time in over a decade.

If you want to know what is wrong with education try something different and it is not a task force. Ask a teacher and involve frontline teachers in problem solving…something we’ve really never done and probably won’t. Until then we will exclaim with pride, “Thank goodness for Mississippi.”

To sum up, a quote from former teaching peer, Brent Boiling, “Teachers at *** used to be like gourmet chefs…. creative and free to do their jobs as professionals. Now they’re McTeachers.”

Don Miller’s author’s page can be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR1pVsy-a3ZtRJ98EGHW-xrQS0R-IUosd_iDVGMICpugfL0tbofyolue8Yw

An Affront to my Southern Sensibilities

“I’m always sketchy of people who don’t like grits.” – Author: Jaycee Ford

I have many Yankee friends along with those from other parts of the country.  Good folks are good folks no matter where they come from…except when it comes to food…or harping on perceived Southern backwardness which, unfortunately includes our Confederate past and the original sin of slavery and the Jim Crow that came after it.  Don’t pontificate because Southerners authored the book on pontification and when you speak to me about fried food or our original sin you are preachin’ to the choir. 

If it is backward to revere the callused hands of our forefathers then, yes, we are backward, but most of us are not the repressive, inbred, missing more teeth than we have, morons we are portrayed to be. 

We have a gracious plenty of those repressive, inbred morons and I’m missing a few teeth myself, but for most of us, Southern identity has more to do with food, accents, manners, and music than our Confederate flag flyin’ past. I did date a distant cousin once upon a time but only because pickins’ were slim… The emphasis should be on distant and not on cousin. We did not inbreed, nor did we breed in the backseat of my ’63 Ford.

In my circle of friends, Southern identity is open to all races, a variety of ethnic groups, and people who moved here from above the Mason-Dixon.  It incorporates more than “South” Alabama or Texas but includes Southern France, Southern Italy, Southern Asia, and any other country you can describe as “South” of anywhere. West Africa, which is south of the South, made an even greater contribution I should add especially when talking about food and music…or our original sin.   

In all honesty, the repressive morons are just the most vocal as they watch their way transition to the chamber pot of life.  They are not the most numerous. It’s just the rest of us are silent, sitting quietly thinking, “Well, bless your heart.”  We should be more vocal and drown them out and the “bless your heart” in this case is a negative comment.

Still, my Yankee friends, there are limits to my Southern sensibilities, mostly those limits involve food…especially this time of year.

I am a day from the first of my three annual physicals and food is on my mind.  October, the fright month, and I’m not speaking of the horror of Halloween and candy corn.  I’m speaking about the blood work that will be done, the weigh-in, the blood pressure check, the electro-cardiogram with its ice-cold electrodes applied with Gorilla Glue, the body scan to see if any more skin cancer is eating me alive.  It will be the yearly reckoning and one that has me tighter than a tick on a fat dog.

I’m a week away from “paying the piper” for a lifetime of excess.  Platters of “Southern” fried chicken and catfish, oversized cathead biscuits smothered in creamy sawmill gravy, salty pork rinds, cigars, and brown liquor.  Since my heart attack in 2006, my diet has been limited to mostly leaves and cardboard, the seasonings removed from the angelic hands of my ancestors and replaced with a bit of shaken Mrs. Dash. 

Little fried, little creamy, little salty, limited cigars and little brown liquor…well, brown liquor can be used for medicinal purposes, and I light the cigar to smell it more than I smoke it.  The keyword is little as in much less than I might wish, so, my sensibilities are affronted when my Yankee friends try to school me on “good” food. 

It could be I’m just amid a bacon grease withdrawal. For instance, and in no order:

Throwing away the bacon grease instead of using it as a “flavorin’.”  Blasphemy! Bacon grease should be stored in a coffee can right on the stovetop for easy access.  Bacon grease is culinary “gold.” Eggs fried or scrambled in bacon grease, greens or beans sautéed in bacon grease and then cooked to death. Bacon grease cooked in bacon grease.

Biscuits and creamy sawmill gravy are most certainly a main course and biscuits running in butter and honey are a dessert. To say otherwise could end a friendship.

It is Duke’s Mayonnaise, or it is nothing. If I have a choice between Hellman’s or Miracle Whip, I’ll look for mustard to put on my tomato sandwich.  Yuck.  Sidenote, tomato sandwiches should be served on soft, white bread.  Save your multigrain for Reubens and such.

Also, I am well-read.  I know a tomato is a fruit and not a vegetable in every state of the union save one.  It is a vegetable in South Carolina by legislative decree. As if my legislators have no better use of their time.

Don’t serve grits from those little brown packets that you microwave with water and then gripe about how bland they are.  Grits are a blank canvas.  They should be stone ground, cooked with cream, and at the minimum contain cheddar cheese and butter.  And please, just serve me the box that the packets of “flavored” grits come in.  Addendum: Grits should never be served with sugar. 

I’ll drink water from a stagnant, primordial swamp before I drink unsweetened tea.  It should be served sweet with lemon slices to sour it up. One more Southern paradox?

Instant tea? Just shoot me.

Chicken fried steak and country fried steak are not the same.  Chicken fried involves egg batter, country fried a dusting of flour only.  Note to prospective cooks, I’ll eat either and smile.

Don’t ask me to come for the barbecue and then serve hot dogs and hamburgers.  That’s grillin’.  A barbecue is not a place. Barbecue is slow-cooked pig parts over wood coals.  Barbecue is a noun, not a verb.  Note:  If you want to serve some of those German sausages in addition to the slow-cooked pig parts that will be fine with me.  Put it in a bun and you can pretend it is a hot dog and I’ll be okay.  I’ll even eat one. 

Mac and cheese should not come from a little box that contains everything you need to make it taste like noodles and Velveeta and nothing else.  Good mac and cheese is not orange in color.  It is a cheesy crisp brown on the outside and at the corners and creamy and pale on the inside.  It contains more than just mac and cheese. Addendum:  It is also perfectly acceptable to list good mac and cheese on the vegetable menu of your local ‘meat and three.’

Side note: good cornbread doesn’t come from a package or a box and “nanner puddin'” should not be made with instant pudding.

Finally, viewing Southern food as only fried chicken, pork, or fish and biscuits is a great over-simplification. The Southern food of our forefathers was plant-based.  Granted, many of those plants were fried or flavored with bacon grease or fatback and very well-seasoned. Staples included stewed okra and tomatoes, whole-grain cornbread, winter greens, corn, butterbeans, sweet potatoes, and both winter and summer squash. Fried meat, poultry, or fish served daily is a modern contrivance. Certainly, there are Southern dishes that are indulgent, but indulgent food is found in any cuisine.  Beef Stroganoff anyone?

Postscript: My first battery of test came back great. My cholesterol was 121. Biscuits and gravy here I come. I’ve got a year to work it off.

Don Miller’s newest book is live on Amazon and may be purchased in paperback or download at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09GNZFXFT

Caught in a Trap…Again

If we’re being Honest…Sometimes it’s the “Church Folk” that run People away from the Church.” – Adam Hopkins

I’ve run away…and not because of Jesus.

Christian Zealotry masquerading as a man of the cloth was the trigger. Is Zealotry even a word? Must be, my spell check didn’t alert me otherwise. After being told I was on a slippery slope to hell due to my leftist leanings, the trigger took me back to a previous pig trail I followed. I’m guessing I am still following it. The path leads away from organized religion.

The original motivation for this occurred six years ago from a sermon I heard.  I wrote about it then and have retitled and rewritten in the present. What I haven’t done is changed my beliefs. We “Church Folk” have done much to destroy the Christian Church.

My original was written in a time before Donald Trump’s Presidency, before the pandemic, before Qanon, before the Capitol riots, before Joe Biden, before recounts, and before the more recent plague of wildfires, earthquakes, hurricanes, more wars, and rumors of war…and Hunter’s laptop.

My trigger, a former student now a minister, believes some of these are God’s will, others the work of Satan or Democrats, (to him and his minions…err, church members, they are the same). He also believes he is free to mix and match strips with plaids or linen and cotton, but alternative lifestyles are damned. (Leviticus 19:19)

Before times that try men’s souls”, I did not find comfort in my words then and I still do not. Times are still trying men’s souls and the words are still “trending” in my head. In other words, the trend still applies…to me.

“As Christians, we do a better job of promoting what we are against than what we are for.” This was a quote from my minister on a Sunday morning six years ago as he presented his sermon and for once I was paying attention.

Had I titled his message for him, the sermon would have read, “THE TRAP THAT IS RELIGION.” He referred to this “trap” a couple of times and his sermon provided a “thoughtful feast”…although some of his servings might have been a bit bitter.

Later in the day, as I thought about the “trappings” of religion, my thinking ran along another pig trail to a rabbit hole. Not the trappings my minister was talking about. It was “my church is bigger than your church kind of things”. Fancy eye-catching robes, repeated liturgy in unison, fireworks, and lightshows, long, long altar calls, and other public displays. It was about my God being better than your god and if you don’t believe it, I will beat you over the head with my Bible, Quran, or Dead Sea Scrolls.

My pig trail led to wealth gospels, faith healers, QAnon followers, and a video of a Baptist minister preaching about “How Women These Days are Just Not Hot Enough.” My pig trail led me to our hallowed halls of government where I see little modeling of Jesus despite my trigger’s nonvalid point that “we are a Christian nation” versus my valid point that “no, we are a constitutional nation.”

My cynicism toward organized religions has grown to epic proportions. I haven’t been able to return “to the little white church in the vale” even as my fear of COVID passed. My loss? Their loss?

After hours of self-reflection, I realized I have problems with public displays of faith, and it may be my lack of substance. Little Donnie having problems should not mean you should, unless they are empty displays, and I should clarify.  I do not mean modeling Jesus; I mean chest and Bible thumping, a handheld above the head, snakes being handled, calls for hellfire and damnation…all while hating your neighbor because they choose a different lifestyle or hating another religion because…because it is not your religion. Having the trappings without the substance.

I should clarify further, it is my problem, not anyone else’s problem. If you wish to handle a snake to prove your faith and piety, go for it, just alert me so I may be absent.

I also have a problem with the “my way or the highway” point of view of many religions, and not just reactionary Christianity.

My religious beliefs are private, personal, and hard for me to express, certainly hard for me to put into printed words. Is it because I’m not religious enough? Am I not filled with the glorious “light of the Son?” Why do I freeze when asked to pray publicly? Has my pig trail run me off a cliff?

I know some Christians believe that public displays are part of the trappings and are necessary. They are comfortable with them…I am not. I wish I were. I want the God and Christ in one to make me more “public” but, yet, they have not eased my struggle. They are busy elsewhere. They should be and profoundly so.  I do not blame them for their silence and still believe in their teachings…most of their teachings, some of their teachings, which is another part of my trap.

When I thought about the “trap that is religion” I could not help but remember the lines from the Buffett song “Fruitcakes.” The lyrics went, “Where’s the church, who took the steeple? Religion is in the hands of some crazy-ass people. Television preachers with bad hair and dimples. The god’s honest truth is it’s not that simple. It’s the Buddhist in you, it’s the Pagan in me. It’s the Muslim in him, she’s Catholic ain’t she? It’s the born again look, it’s the WASP and the Jew. Tell me what’s goin on, I ain’t gotta clue.” Like Jimmy, I really don’t have a clue.

The line about religion being in the hands of some crazy-ass people is what gives me the most pause. I believe religions have done much good…and much damage.

I am concerned about followers of reactionary American Christian Religions whose piety allows for racism, bigotry, and misogyny.

I fear zealots, especially those who wrap themselves in the United States’ flag calling it patriotism. A zealot by any other name is still a zealot whether it is religious or political. I fear those who have combined the two into one nationalistic ideology.

Locally, I am concerned when a deacon displays a “Let’s go Brandon” sign prominently on his home…that might have been “what broke the camel’s back.” I worry about and question the sincerity of some. While it is not for me to judge I find myself falling into that trap too. “Judge not lest ye be judged” and I would not want to be judged.

Where in the Bible does it say to weaponize the word of God and use it to bludgeon non or contrary believers into submission? While I don’t wish to judge, I do and find some relief from a friend’s quote, “Judge not lest you judge wisely.” I’m not sure that is Biblical, but I am sure it is not a trap.

Sorry if my ramblings resemble those of a blind pig.

More of Don Miller’s ramblings may be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR1YR8au-BVuOSJ_WJlJAWc2sZShmp9F8UTvlrr9cmNiW957CDUbTdNsivE

Hooray For Me…

And the hell with everybody else.

I grew up in a world where people were supportive of each other, regardless of political viewpoint.  If you were a liberal, conservatives might look at you side-eyed and shake their heads, but they supported you as a human being. They might talk about you behind your back, call you a ‘quare’ bird, but it was usually in whispers and in all honesty, where I grew up there were few liberals…still are few liberals.

I don’t know where that world has gone.  I hope, pray, that it is just a vocal minority but they seem to have developed a loud “hooray for me and the hell with everybody else” attitude.  Sounds selfish to me but then who am I to accuse?  I’ll just say if the shoe fits wear it. It is my opinion.

The most vocal don’t believe that falling sick to Covid is worse than getting the vaccine or the “jab” as they like to call it.  I detest hearing “I don’t need it. God will call me home when he deems it is time.”  I hate hearing “It is no worse than the flu.” Some three hundred and fifty thousand more were called to their heavenly home in 2020 than in 2019 and we seem to be on a similar schedule for 2021.

Where does free will fit into this?  If I choose to roller-skate on a crowded boulevard during rush hour and am crushed by a beer truck, is that God’s will?  Where does “data” figure into this? “Oh, don’t waste my time with data, my mind is made up. There is a chance I’ll survive and if I don’t, it’s God’s will.” Not my god.

It appears that some of the same vocal minority believe storms, wildfires, and changes in climate patterns are a symptom of an angry god rather than the prodrome of a sick planet. Yep, science is for sissies, and New York got flooded because of liberal leadership despite the fact Ida traveled from New Orleans to New York over several conservative states.

Somehow the liberal media and all the world’s liberal leaders have figured out a way to keep a secret.  A worldwide plot to eradicate conservatism with facemasks, vaccines, windmills, and solar panels.  Covid and Climate Change are all hoaxes or a plot.  All we must do is take vitamins, exercise, eat well, and sweep out our forests.  If that doesn’t work, animal dewormer…yeah, I know they make it for humans too…for parasites. Just say no to windmills and solar panels while you are at it.

I’m trying to picture my parents, Ernest and Eldora Miller, members of the “Greatest Generation”, standing in a picket line, or screaming at a school board about the evils of Satan’s mask mandate and waving placards denouncing returns to Marx’s virtual learning. I can’t picture it because it would have never happened.  It is almost too humorous to consider.

Lord help us if someone mentions “lockdown.”  Oh, that slippery slope toward communism.

How did wearing a mask or getting a “jab” lead us to arguments about freedom?  Do you want the freedom to infect your family, friends, and the old guy you passed in the checkout at Wally World? 

Why are we not supportive of humankind?  Somehow humankind has become a triggering word too.  Why should we worry about people in other parts of the world not named Afghanistan?  That pesky, “Love thy neighbor” thing in the Bible? 

Does this mean my parents were unaware at best or stupid at worst?  No, they were concerned about their family, friends, neighbors, and people they had never met.  Old Ernest and Eldora saw a way to make life better for all.  They were concerned about the human collective except the most vocal will take offense to me using the word collective.  Collective is just too close to communal, and we all know where communal leads. To the great communist devil hiding under our beds.

Somewhere in the dimly lit past, I remember loading up after church into our 1953 Ford Customline and driving to our small school, standing in line with all the people I had just been in church with at the cafeteria.  My parents, grandparents, brother, and me.  Why?  To eat lunch? No. To receive the Salk vaccine on a sugar cube.  No one was protesting and polio disappeared.  Imagine that and I grew up in a most conservative place.  There was no discussion of mandates.  There didn’t need to be.

What happened to us?

Commander Spock of Star Trek fame uttered these words in the movie “The Wrath of Khan,” “Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” Captain Kirk answers, “Or the one.” I agree with Spock even though he was a fictional character.

Many will say that Spock’s utterance is too utilitarian, the doctrine that an action is right if it promotes safety and happiness, and that the greatest happiness of the greatest number should be the guiding principle of conduct.  I certainly believe sacrificing oneself for the greater good is an individual choice but no one, not me or anyone else, is asking you to sacrifice your life.  I believe the data supports that and they are not going to take your guns either.

Do some people have potentially deadly issues with the vaccine and is it worth the fear?  Sure, but a very small percentage, 0.0017 percent have died after taking the vaccine through June 14, 2021.  People died from the polio vaccine.  Look up the Cutter Incident and it was caused by a mistake. 

Do the vaccinated still catch Covid? Yes, but look at the vaccination numbers versus unvaccinated and the recovery rate.  YOU LOOK IT UP. The data shows you are much more likely to recover if you do get it and are less likely to get it, period.

For those from the “Don’t confuse me with the facts group”, it would appear, logic has disappeared, worse, it appears logic is purposely being distorted. That worries me the most. People are getting sick. People are dying because hospitals are being filled with the unvaccinated.

To be clear.  Do mandates take away freedoms?  Of course.  What I’m saying is, we shouldn’t even have to mention mandates.

Don Miller writes on various subjects, mostly uplifting non-rants. His author’s page may be accessed at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR1smB-fmScUP0JbtXJZaCzDQXYPuJKLT-n4oLUE6ojWkNkHcug5ZFWD8DE

My Southern Heritage Doesn’t Require a Flag

…or a monument.

Summer is upon me.  According to John Phillips, “The Mississippi River runs like molasses in the summertime.”  I know the summer humidity is as sticky as molasses…just like discussions about my heritage. 

The steamy humidity is a part of my heritage, as are lightning bugs and mosquitos, or violent thunderstorms, and the refreshing cool afterward.  Cutting sweet corn off the cob and salting it with the sweat off my brow.  Seems much of my heritage runs the gamut between opposite poles of good and bad.

My Southern heritage is being debated across the far reaches of this country…again.   The left is celebrating a statue of General Lee and Traveler, along with Stonewall Jackson being whisked off to a museum and the Right continues to debate the evils of Critical Race Theory, a theory I believe most have never studied…including me.  CRT is a graduate school or law school course that has been around for some forty years and is beyond the scope of what is being taught in grade schools.  Some people are confusing the truth about our checkered past for CRT.  I notice the folks crying the loudest about General Lee are also crying the loudest against CRT.  Maybe they aren’t confused at all.

These statues were erected to glorify men so gallantly in their Confederate gray or butternut.  Many monuments were bought and paid for by the Daughters of the Confederacy.  Statues bought and paid for by our grandmothers and great grandmothers can’t be bad, can they? 

The problem is many were erected in the badly segregated South of the Jim Crow era, celebrating men who caused the deaths of so many and who brought havoc and destruction to the South.  Erected by those who advanced a segregated society for another hundred years after the war. I find nothing to celebrate on this issue.

I believe there is much to celebrate about my Southern heritage. What I celebrate doesn’t increase the resentment associated with enslaved people bullied and beaten by gun bulls and patty rollers on tall horses.  The enslaved whose present and futures were lorded over by Southern aristocrats whose propaganda led poor whites to their deaths on distant hillsides.  Our heritage doesn’t have to involve a Battle Flag that flew over an army in the employ of a rebellious cluster of Southern states intent on keeping and expanding their “peculiar institution.” A “country” that only lasted for four years.

Is there nothing else we can celebrate regarding Southern Heritage?  Is there nothing else to be proud of?  Is there nothing more than flags flown from pickup trucks and belt buckles and bumper stickers proclaiming “Forget, Hell!!!!”  Are we simply the sum of our rebellious past?

We have a rich culture that doesn’t have to harken back to “old times there are not forgotten.” If you are going to lionize the exploits of soldiers on a battlefield, why look past the Revolutionary War?  More Revolutionary War battles were fought in my state than any other and some of the greatest military leaders of the war fought here.  South Carolina born and bred, Sumter, Marion, Pickens, and Moultrie, along with adopted sons like Morgan, Greene, and Shelby left their mark, not only on my state but on the nation as a whole.

Wait just a “cotton pickin’ minute.”  Weren’t some of these men slave owners? Yes, some were and despite this fact, we should neither purge them from history books nor should we discount their contributions.  As some of my right-leaning friends have told me, “It’s history”.  I agree, it is history and history should be taught warts and all.  It shouldn’t be sanitized, nor should it be taught as propaganda like my eighth-grade Cold War Civics class. History is simply what was. We shouldn’t cover it up and we shouldn’t hide from it.

We have a rich Southern culture and heritage going back centuries despite our “peculiar institution” and resulting Jim Crow…let me rephrase that…” including our peculiar institution and resulting Jim Crow.” It’s history.  We don’t need a flag or statues to worship under any more than we should deny the existence of mosquitoes and high humidity in our travel brochures.  They are facts we can’t or should not attempt to escape.  Facts are facts and history is history.

We have a rich and diverse heritage in my state alone.  Gullah language and art from the coast to Appalachian culture in the mountains and foothills and to German Lutherans in the “Dutch Fork” middle.  Native American tribal influences from the Catawba River, across to the Savannah, and down to Pee Dee just to mention a few.  We have art, music, and literature that sprang from slaves and sharecroppers. Beautiful cities and small towns.   Architecture, music, visual arts, cuisine, sports, a heritage that shouldn’t include praise for men enslaving other men or men who fought for them. 

When I say “shouldn’t include” do I mean we should ignore it?  Certainly not.  We shouldn’t heap praise upon the heads of my long-ago, dearly departed great, great grandfathers for fighting under the Battle Flag of Northern Virginia.  Whatever their motivation, they rebelled in the name of supporting slavery. If there was any honor in that flag it was lost when it was co-opted by the KKK and like minded white supremacists while we or our parents did nothing.

My grandfathers were poor men with little education.  Maybe they bought the propaganda about the state’s rights that included the right to enslave.  Maybe they believed in an unfair tariff that was placed on goods raised on the backs of the enslaved.  Maybe they believed it was a War of Northern Aggression.  I doubt they thought much past the surface.  Wars are started by rich, old men and fought by young, poor ones.  Still, they fought and died under the wrong banner and should not be memorialized or immortalized. 

No, I’ll stick with being proud of a heritage that includes BB King from Mississippi singing the Blues, a Southern invention.  I might sip a bit of Jack Daniels from Tennessee with a bit of Coca-Cola invented in Atlanta, Georgia.  Maybe later I’ll select from a menu that includes Cajun or Creole food from Louisiana or BBQ from anywhere in the South or shrimp and grits, from my state.  I’ve eaten enough Soul food to cause my arteries to collapse.

Afterward, I might go sit on my front porch, a Southern culture trait in itself, while smelling honeysuckle, jasmine, or gardenia with a Pat Conroy, Ace Atkins, or a James Lee Burke novel.  All notable Southern authors who follow a lineage of fine Southern authors from Faulkner, Walker, O’Conner, and Williams to name just a few.

Depending on the season I might watch my favorite sports teams, The Braves from Atlanta, The Tigers from Clemson.  I might catch a NASCAR event, a sport begun in the South that sprang from moonshiners and dirt track racers.  We have a Southern heritage attached to our sports teams and college football is a recognized religion with an attending congregation in the millions on any given Saturday.  Why can’t we Southerners be proud of that?

Again, and with fervor, my Southern Heritage doesn’t involve a battle flag or statues saluting dead Confederates.  My Southern Heritage is too rich for that.   My Southern heritage is about beautiful and historic homes and cities, sharecropper shanties, and Sears cottages. It’s about kudzu, cotton, and long-abandoned textile mills.  It’s about old men, white and black, plowing behind a mule on the river bottoms.

It is about rich music from Nashville or Muscle Shoals and even richer food from New Orleans, Atlanta, or anywhere on the coast. It’s great literature that can be as heavy as Southern humidity or as light as the scent of Jasmine.  My Southern heritage is about beautiful flower and vegetable gardens, and cotton fields bursting white in the fall.  It is about sitting on the front porch with family and friends after church and a Sunday dinner. 

My heritage is about friends and families of all races.  It is about celebrating diversity.

If I haven’t turned you off, further works by Don Miller may be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR0A3XCeFAUGkHotYyrBgt6V-v3Rl-6mVzt2hmVK3o_4rtITkiH874sjYQs

Image of Lee’s statue by Paul Mayer, Office of the Mayor, Washington, DC.

Football and the Fairer Sex

This is an odd day for me to make a blog post but after reading some of the posts concerning the Vandy kicker I felt a call to arms.  I felt a call to turn myself into a transgender female.  After reading some of the comments I was ashamed to be a male.  But then I saw some of the negative posts were from women…okay I did not want an operation anyway and I doubt I have the legs for a skirt.

You know the story.  Sarah Fuller, Vanderbilt’s star goalkeeper goes from helping the Lady Commodores soccer team win an SEC Championship to winning an audition as a kicker for the Vanderbilt football team.  The Vanderbilt kickers have a problem with Covid-19.

The Vanderbilt football squad has a problem with offense…and defense. She only had one chance to kick, a squib kick-off to open the second half and people went overboard with comments in both directions. Too much praise, too much criticism.  It was just a well-executed squib kick. No runback and the primitives among us didn’t get to see her crushed.

Do we call male soccer players for Vanderbilt Gentlemen Commodores?  No, there is no Gentlemen Commodore soccer team and I know of no program that refers to their football…or futbol team as “Gentlemen.”

Why can’t we praise people for their efforts?  Maybe it was a publicity stunt, at 0 and forever, Vandy needs good pub or to find a good pub. 

Maybe it was to stir up interest for a Gentlemen’s Commodore soccer team. 

Maybe it was what it was.  She was the best option at the time. She is still the best option but they are playing Georgia so we may again only see her once.

Nah, more than likely George Soros, the liberal boogie man, agreed to pay off the head coach’s buy out so they could fire him if the school agreed to make a spectacle of Miss Fuller.  Could happen.  The head coach did get fired. I’ve read crazier conspiracy theories.

I don’t understand why my male compadres…and their female counterparts were anxious for a person they don’t know to be turned into a pretzel by three hundred pound monster linemen. 

Fact is, she’s most likely tougher than you think, and women have been outperforming men’s expectations…and outcomes since…since…since cave dwellers went out to hunt wooly mammoths. 

She is a goalkeeper you know?  Goalkeepers are tough.  They don’t flop, grab an ankle and wallow like a limb has been torn from their bodies when being breathed on by an opposing player.  Goalkeepers cause strikers to flop, grab an ankle and wallow because a limb has been torn from their body. 

My daughter was a goalkeeper and part of me cringed when she came out on a breakaway, throwing her body at the ball while body blocking the attacking player.  Part of me cheered too, but usually not until after the play was over and Ashley was back on her feet.  “Got all your teeth, Boo?” No, I would never call her Boo.  “Got all your teeth, Spike?”

During my football coaching days, we had a kicker who happened to be a girl…and we were a first.  Said in a kind of mealy-mouthed way, “First high school football team to play a girl.  Play a girrrrrrrl.”  Said as if we might have bit down on a dog turd,Why does she get all the publicity?”  BECAUSE WE WERE TERRIBLE, NUMB NUTS!

None of the italics are true…except the terrible part.  We had “logistic” issues as in where she dressed but she was accepted as a “team member”, just like every other kid who came out. 

That’s also not to say there wasn’t some gnashing of teeth.  We’re already bad and some felt having a girl on the team made us look even worse.  “You’ve got a girrrrrrrl on your team.”

We were probably as bad as Vandy in a high school way, and she wasn’t the strongest kicker, but she did get the opportunity to kick a few extra points and succeeded.  Let me rephrase, she earned the opportunity to kick a few extra points. She was like any other reserve, we played her when we could.  She was also a soccer player and a tough nut to boot.  Bet Miss Fuller is too.

 I still don’t understand why a person would hope someone would break both her legs. Did this somehow make a mockery of football? 

Wait.  Did this somehow make a mockery of your manhood?  I think some men are afraid.  Afraid of being replaced maybe.  Afraid they will somehow be less important.  I keep reading, “Men should have roles, women should have roles.”  Usually with a Biblical reference followed by barefoot and pregnant. 

It was the same reaction when women went out and proved they could be firefighters, or law enforcement officers, soldiers, pilots, etc.  Not so secretly, men expressed their displeasure…as did some women.  Not because women weren’t capable, they have more than proven they are, but because somehow it has upset the belief people should be limited by the antiquated roles we perceive they should have. There should be no limits.

Has she proven herself an American football player? No, and she probably won’t.  She is a kicker and kickers aren’t noticed until they miss.  My hope is she proves herself to be a kicker.  She’s already proven herself to be an athlete.  A lot of other people have proven to be knuckle-dragging cretins.

Don Miller has just released the second of his Drunken Irishman Saloon series, Long Ride to Paradise. The link is https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08P81W6LZ.

His author’s page is https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR3CBHKrwrcnRx38KnvopTelH0W56XFsG7wnRRL5lUD1JpiZ4TfUy2YcxfE

YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!!!

As soon as I read the headline and before I read the article, “Trump Announces, ‘Patriotic Education’ Commission”, I thought of Colonel Jessup’s tirade in the movie, “A Few Good Men”, “You Can’t Handle The Truth!”  I felt no different after I read it.

It seems our President and a good part of our population can’t or won’t handle the truth.  Worse, I believe a portion of our population knows the truth, they just don’t care to acknowledge it.  They like things just the way they are or rather they would like to cycle them back to those thrilling days of yesteryear. Am I cynical much?

I read the article but my thoughts continued to collide with the force of a cue ball breaking a rack. Dark thoughts of a time past that seems to be determine to resurrect itself.

“Trump Announces, ‘Patriotic Education’ Commission”. Hummm…I was a product of “Patriotic Education”.  It was called Civics, taught in the backdrop of the Civil Right struggle and the Cold War.  There was a lot of wrapping the Bible in the Red, White, and Blue to boot.  “Our God is better than your god,” with Biblical quotations to prove it. 

Civics wasn’t pure propaganda but there was propaganda.  I did learn about our constitution and our federal system, but I also learned that the self-evident truths of “All men are created equal” were weak aspirations in my part of the world, not necessarily a truth. 

As my blond haired, crew cut sporting instructor explained, “We have the retarded, the dummies and mute, ni@@#*s and Indians.”  Yes, he said that.  My memory is faulty, it could have been in US History rather than Civics.

One of the more troubling thoughts among many is how much this person meant to me.  How much I wanted to be just like him.  How I followed his lead to college and then on to teaching.  How I majored in history and taught it for most of forty-one years…most likely, because of him. 

It was the Sixties and as I have found in most men, there is good, there is bad, and I hope, there is change. Don’t you hate it when your heroes prove to be mere mortals?

In the article I read, President Trump decried what he called a “twisted web of lies” being taught in U.S. classrooms about systemic racism in America, calling it “a form of child abuse.” He made similar comments at Mount Rushmore in July.

“Teaching this horrible doctrine to our children is a form of child abuse, the truest sense,” Trump said. “For many years now, the radicals have mistaken Americans’ silence for weakness. They’re wrong. There is no more powerful force than a parent’s love for their children. And patriotic moms and dads are going to demand that their children are no longer fed hateful lies about this country.” 

At best, our President has an uncomfortable relationship with the truth. Most often, the truth and the President do not reside in the same zip code. I question what “hateful lies about this country” he is channelling.  It seems to me we are again wrapping the flag around our racism and using a religion to support it.

I do not want to beat a dead mule; I have written to this theme before.  Until recently, and even that depends on where you reside in our great country, we have never taught history from an all-encompassing point of view.  We have never taught history “warts and all.”  We seem to be afraid of the truth.

Most teachers try, but standards and textbooks have only recently begun to change, attitudes even less. Those teachers who don’t try should not be teaching. I still see a type of history being taught accompanied by cheerleaders sporting red, white, and blue pom poms. “Go, Fight, Win!”

Why would we not want to teach the truth?  Does truth somehow undermine our love for our country?  Am I wrong to believe we can be patriotic and love our country despite knowing we committed travesties along the way?  Can we not wish to correct those ills and make ourselves an even better country? Is it unbearable to admit to the wrongs of our forefathers?

Change. The word seems to be the truth we can’t handle and the resistance to change seems to come from my own contemporaries…those of us who were indoctrinated to believe “My Country, Right or Wrong” not that our country ever did any wrong.  Worse, many are not contemporaries but are those I taught.

Many former students have taken to pointing out, “We are not a democracy we are a Republic.”  To what end? Why do you make this argument?  Is there an ulterior motive?  Am I being cynical to believe people pointing this out have an agenda and a need to undermine?

The word “republic” has the same meaning as the term “representative democracy.” A representative democracy is a form of democracy in the same way that a ‘purple top’ is a form of turnip. We wouldn’t say it’s inaccurate to use “turnip” to describe a purple top turnip, so it’s OK to follow in the footsteps of many founding fathers, along with Webster, and Chief Justice Marshall and simply call our “representative democracy” a “democracy.”

I would also want to point out, at the local level many of our decisions are made as a ‘direct’ democracy. Again, I wonder about motives. I wonder about truth. I feel to the depth of my bones, many would rather have a more autocratic form of government even if it is led by a former reality TV star.

My brother will now say, chill.  Go out and walk, smell the flowers, have a beer, watch a football game.  He is right, and I will, but my cynical petty coats is showing cow poo and it stinks.  I have hope in our system but it is being undermined.  My truth is becoming, “We are what we are.  This is who we’ve been and we ain’t gonna’ change.” 

We are being taken advantage of.  I’m not the world’s most intelligent guy but even I can see the seeds of division that have been planted are flourishing, both within and without.  The far right and the far left are not our friends.  Neither are any of the autocratic leaders our President seems to want to cozy up to. 

No, not our friends. Neither is the media attempting to sell advertising, a President attempting to sell blivits, and congressmen and women attempting to sell themselves. (A blivit is two pounds of manure in a one pound bag. The origin is from Kalamazoo College around 1960.)

The President’s initiative to create “Patriotic Education” is a blivit and he is sowing more seeds of discord and playing to a base that includes those who believe equality for all is somehow taking their own rights away and an affront to God. 

Watercolor by John Coffee. Line from The Green Mile

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Don Miller’s author’s page is found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR22iSzDHKzxCzPBS64mqKyX_iqjwVDmJXrd_1iVmF5be_YAnetohuhpwQI

Article quoted, Trump Announces ‘Patriotic Education’ Commission, A Largely Political Move, from NPR, September 17, 2020, Alana Wise, https://www.npr.org/2020/09/17/914127266/trump-announces-patriotic-education-commission-a-largely-political-move?utm_campaign=storyshare&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&fbclid=IwAR3pJHVlB7rxiAiDhMXODozLxk0my-rRZNfaA94Y7ekugnE5Zqr8EhJ08II

The image, from JoeBlogs