Thursday, February 27, 2020


The Episcopal diocese has just released a report on today's hearing. Find the article here .

According to this, Judge Dickson spent just thirty minutes listening to arguments concerning the Episcopal diocese's three petitions before the judge:  to implement the SCSC decision of Aug. 2, 2017, to appoint a special master, and to conduct an accounting. 

In the end, the judge gave no indication of when or how he would rule on the EDSC petitions.

The Episcopal side and the Anglican side have presented contradictory petitions to Judge Dickson. The Episcopalian lawyers are asking the judge to implement the SCSC decision that awarded 29 parishes and Camp St. Christopher to the Episcopal diocese. On the other hand, the Anglicans are asking the judge to set aside the SCSC decision and rule himself on who owns the 29 and the Camp. The Episcopal lawyers have a pending request in at the state supreme court asking the justices to issue a Writ of Prohibition to prevent Judge Dickson from ruling on the property issue since it was settled in the SCSC decision. We are awaiting a reply from the SCSC.

So, the bottom line of today is that Judge Dickson listened to arguments on why he should or should not implement the SCSC decision. For twenty-five months, we have been waiting on Judge Dickson to act on the SCSC decision. On the face of it, today changed nothing. Time will tell whether the lawyers' arguments today had any impact on the judge who seems so reluctant to implement the SCSC decision.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

NOTES --- 26 FEBRUARY 2020

Since we have not heard otherwise, we may assume Judge Edgar Dickson will proceed with the hearing he scheduled for tomorrow. It is to be at 10:00 a.m. in the Orangeburg courthouse. Unfortunately, I am unable to attend. I expect the Episcopal diocese to post a report about the hearing by the end of the day tomorrow. I will post commentary here after I have received a first-hand report of what transpired in the hearing.

Judge Dickson stated as the topic of the hearing the Episcopal diocese's motions for implementation of the South Carolina Supreme Court decision of August 2, 2017. Long ago, EDSC petitioned Dickson to enact the decision, particularly by a special master and an accounting. However, at the last hearing, Dickson asked the two sides to submit proposed orders for a decision on the Anglican diocese's Motion for Clarification of Jurisdiction (they submitted the proposed orders a few weeks ago). That motion asked the court to set aside the SCSC decision on property and to have the circuit court decide who owns the 29 parishes in question and the Camp. It makes no sense to me that Dickson would jump from the ADSC Motion for Clarification to EDSC's motion for implementation. These two motions are contradictory.

All of this is complicated by the fact that the Episcopal diocese has gone to the state supreme court asking for a writ of prohibition to keep Dickson from ruling on the ADSC motion for clarification. So far, there has been no response from the SCSC on this. I do not see how Dickson can proceed with a ruling on the Motion for Clarification until we get a ruling from the SCSC on the writ. So, I really do not see much point in having a hearing tomorrow. What can be accomplished before a response from the SCSC?

Meanwhile, the anti-Episcopal Church side continues to misrepresent the litigation. They are saying the SCSC decision does not say what it says. They refuse to recognize the three majority orders on the last page. They assert that the five separate opinions that the justices wrote meant no decision. This is not true. On the last page, the court listed the three majority decisions. They are explicit. A majority recognized that the Episcopal Church owns the 29 parishes and the Episcopal diocese owns the Camp. It does not matter that the justices wrote separate opinions explaining their votes. That is irrelevant to the majority decisions. Moreover, the Anglicans insist the way the justices arrived at their decisions invalidated the majority decisions. For instance, Chief Justice Beatty said a parish had to give explicit accession to the Dennis Canon and yet no evidence was presented of explicit accession. How the justices arrived at their decisions is also irrelevant. The only thing that matters in any supreme court decision is the majority decision. How the justices arrived at the decision is irrelevant. Most seriously, the Anglicans assert that the circuit court can and must re-litigate the property issue in blatant contradiction of the August 2 SCSC decision. In fact, the SCSC has settled the property issue. A circuit court does not have the right to discard a supreme court decision and re-litigate the issues of law that were resolved in the decision. So, the Anglican leadership continues to misinform and mislead their people.

This is not surprising considering the Anglican leadership's track record of dealing with the truth. In the last two days in his blog, Kendall Harmon, an officer of the Anglican diocese, twice called the EDSC "the brand new TEC Diocese in South Carolina" and the ADSC "the Historic Anglican Diocese of South Carolina." Judge Gergel has TWICE ordered the ADSC to cease and desist from claiming to be the historic diocese. In fact, there is a legal injunction in place. Moreover, both Gergel and the federal appeals court have refused to stay the injunction pending the appeal. The Anglican leadership would be wise to remember that the federal court has recognized the Episcopal diocese as the legal and legitimate historic diocese and the Anglican diocese as a new creation in 2012.  

Not questionable is the fact that today is Ash Wednesday, a somber and sobering day. We are humbled to remember from whence we came. However, we know that forty days from now will be a glorious rebirth when the darkness will turn to light again, as it does every year.

Speaking of darkness, the political situation today is most unsettling. Last night's Democratic debate was a disaster. Trump and the Russians must be celebrating today. As of this moment, it looks as if Bernie will be the Dem nominee. Although I admire him greatly, I firmly believe he cannot get elected president. Trump and the right-wing media machine will smear this "socialist" to scare off moderate voters. The thought of another four years of President Trump is, well, I will save that for another day. We have enough downers for today.

You in South Carolina are called to vote this Saturday, if you have not done so already. I hope you will vote. 

I vote next Tuesday when Alabama and fourteen other states will hold their primaries. As so many other Democrats, I still have not decided for sure for whom to vote but am now leaning to Pete. I was leaning to Warren yesterday. Then, last night she went off the rails on Bloomberg and accused him of telling a woman to get an abortion. That woman's word was many years old and had never had any evidence. It was a baseless accusation that had no place in a televised debate. Warren meant to diminish Bloomberg, but only tarnished herself. I think she is toast. Buttigieg, on the other hand is the brightest, best informed, most articulate, most consensus-building of the candidates. He probably would not win, but I want to thank him for being there and giving reason to an otherwise crazy time.

Monday, February 24, 2020


How do we find the courage to go on when we are surrounded by so many things that would hold us back? One way we do it is by the support of others. In today's video, a nine-year-old boy who is gay asks Pete Buttigieg how he can be brave and tell the world he is gay, just as Pete has done. Pete's spontaneous response is heart-warming. And, it brought people in the audience to tears. It may do the same for you. 

Find the video here . 

Saturday, February 22, 2020


The Episcopal Church and its Diocese of South Carolina have gone to the South Carolina Supreme Court for help with Judge Edgar Dickson. On yesterday, 21 February 2020, they filed "Petition for a Writ of Prohibition" with the state high court. In short, it asks the court to step in and prohibit Judge Dickson from re-litigating the property issue that was settled in the SCSC decision of August 2, 2017.

Find the Episcopal diocese's news release about this here . This contains the link to the Petition for a Writ of Prohibition.

To refresh everyone's memory, here is the last page of the SCSC decision. The three majority orders are clearly and plainly written, even enumerated as (1), (2), (3). 

The SCSC decision was assigned to Judge Dickson upon Remittitur (Nov. 19, 2017) from the high court. A remittitur is an order to implement a higher court decision. It is the assigned task of the circuit court to put into effect the SCSC decision.

However, the Anglican diocese refused to accept the SCSC decision. On March 23, 2018, they filed "Motion for Clarification of Jurisdiction and for Other Relief" with Judge Dickson. This claimed that the SCSC had not settled the property issue. The Anglican lawyers claimed the SCSC opinion was unclear, confusing, conflicted and ultimately unenforceable. Their motion for clarification asserted that since the SCSC had not settled the property issue, Judge Dickson should do that himself since he had the jurisdiction to do so. Meanwhile the lawyers claimed the 29 had not acceded to the Dennis Canon, the implication being that Dickson would have to rule against the Episcopal Church's claim of ownership under the terms of the Dennis Canon. Dickson began moving in that direction. He held a hearing, on November 19, 2018, concerning ADSC's  Motion for Clarification and then asked the two sides to present evidence about the parishes' accession to the Dennis Canon. He began collecting a mountain of papers from the two sides as he held three hearings. All the while, in the 25 months, Dickson did nothing to implement the terms of the SCSC decision favorable to the Episcopal Church.

So, the fundamental issue in contention is the ownership of the properties: the 29 parishes and the Camp. The Episcopal lawyers claim this was settled by the SCSC decision in favor of the Episcopal Church. The Anglican lawyers claim the issue was not settled by the SCSC decision because it was not clear and that Judge Dickson has jurisdiction to settle the property issue himself. 

The assertion that the three orders in the SCSC decision are unclear is not credible. A simple reading of page 77 shows the three majority decision to be perfectly clear. The supreme court justices issued three explicit orders by majority vote. That is the way supreme court decisions work. A mystery is why Judge Dickson has refused to implement the SCSC decision. Another is why he is entertaining a motion that clearly contradicts the SCSC decision that he has been charged to implement.

What is a "writ of prohibition"? Find the Wikipedia article about it here . According to the article, "A 'writ of prohibition," in the United States, is an official legal document drafted and issued by a supreme court, superior court, or an appeals court to a judge presiding over a suit in an inferior court. The writ of prohibition mandates the inferior court to cease any action over the case because it may not fall within that inferior court's jurisdiction..."

Lack of jurisdiction is the exact argument the Episcopal lawyers made in their Petition of yesterday. On page 1, they wrote, "Petitioners respectfully request this Court to issue a Writ of Prohibition to prohibit Respondent Judge Edgar W. Dickson ("Judge Dickson") from exceeding the Circuit Court's jurisdiction by ruling on a Motion for Clarification...a case that has been decided by this Court [SCSC] and is now before the Circuit Court on remittitur." On page 18, the Church lawyers concluded, "A writ of prohibition is required to ensure that the authority of this Court's [SCSC] ruling is preserved, that this litigation be brought to an end without further, unnecessary delay, and that the property rights this Court awarded to Petitioners be respected."

The Church's filing of yesterday leaves two questions to be resolved. 1-Will the Anglican lawyers file a response with the SCSC? and 2-Will Judge Dickson proceed with the hearing he has scheduled for Thursday, February 27, or will he cancel or postpone it? 

I will relay news as I receive it.

I, for one, think it is high time for the Church to take more aggressive action to get the SCSC decision implemented. Twenty-five months of waiting is a long time. What the lawyers did yesterday was hardball, but a move entirely justified, in my opinion. It is unimaginable that the South Carolina Supreme Court would not enforce a final decision that is now the law of the land. Of course, the Anglicans want to change the rules of the game, but they do not have that right. They cannot replay the game under their own rules. The game is over. They lost.  

Monday, February 17, 2020


Yet again, Judge Edgar Dickson has scheduled a hearing in the church case. This one is to be at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, February 27, 2020, in the Orangeburg County courthouse, in Orangeburg SC. This will be the fourth hearing he has held in this matter. I wish I could tell you, dear reader, what is going on with Judge Dickson, but honestly I have not a clue. I hate to say it, but very little of what he has done makes any sense to me. He has spent more than two years shuffling papers and marking time. Meanwhile the schismatics remain in control of the properties and other assets of the historic diocese that the high state court and the federal court both said belong to the Episcopal Church and its diocese. 

Find the Episcopal diocese's announcement of the hearing here . Find scepiscopalians' remarks about it here . In his email to the lawyers of last Friday, Judge Dickson said he wanted a hearing on the Episcopal diocese's three outstanding motions which essentially ask the judge to implement the South Carolina Supreme Court decision of August 2, 2017, particularly with a special master and an accounting. He has not addressed these before.

A brief review of the matter before Judge Dickson is in order. On August 2, 2017, the SCSC issued its long-awaited decision on the suit between the secessionist diocese (now called the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina) and the church diocese (the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina). The SCSC issued three clear orders on the last page of the decision: 1-the eight local church entities that had not acceded to the Dennis Canon were free of trust control, 2-the twenty-eight local churches that had acceded to the Dennis Canon were now property of the Episcopal Church, and 3-Camp St. Christopher was property of the Episcopal Church diocese.

The Anglican diocese asked the SCSC for a rehearing in 2017. The SCSC refused. It also asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case in 2018. SCOTUS refused. That meant the case was closed. It could not be appealed or altered.

The SCSC issued a Remittitur to the first circuit court, the court of origin, on November 19, 2017. A remittitur is an order to implement a higher court decision. The chief judge of the first circuit, Diane Goodstein assigned the case to the only other judge of that circuit, Edgar Dickson. He officially received the case on January 10, 2018 (that's 25 months ago if you are counting).

Judge Dickson's assigned task was to implement the SCSC decision. He has not done that. He has collected a mountain of papers from the lawyers on both sides. This amounted to thousands of pages of motions, petitions, memos, responses, responses to the responses and on and  on. He has also held three public courtroom hearings. The net result of all of this is one order. In the second hearing (23 July 2019), Dickson directed the implementation of the first of the three orders in the SCSC decision, that seven parishes be recognized as independent of Episcopal Church control. This is Judge Dickson's one and only accomplishment in all of this time, and it was favorable to the secessionists.

The first hearing should have been a warning of things to come. On November 19, 2018, ten months after he received the case, Judge Dickson held his first courtroom hearing. In it, he complained the SCSC decision was unclear and confusing. He implied he did not know what the SCSC meant for him to do, in spite of the fact that the three orders in the decision were explicit, and asked the lawyers to turn in lists of issues they wanted him to address. They did, in reams. In the hearing, the judge said he would consider only one issue, ADSC's motion for clarification of jurisdiction (to discard the SCSC decision on property). All of this went nowhere. All this time later, he has yet to rule on clarification of jurisdiction.

After fourteen months of nothing happening, the Episcopal diocese's lawyers went to the state supreme court asking for a writ of mandamus in which the SCSC would direct Dickson to implement the SCSC decision. The SCSC denied this. So, here we are nearly a year after that and practically nothing has changed.

Judge Dickson did not rule on clarification of jurisdiction. Instead, he called a hearing for July 23, 2019, supposedly on the betterments suit (ADSC's suit to make TEC pay for the property). In the hearing, the judge tossed betterments aside and made two orders disconnected. One was to recognize the independence of the seven local parishes. The other was to order mediation, in spite of the fact that mediation had already been tried and had gone absolutely nowhere (the subsequent "mediation" lasted a few hours.).

Meanwhile, the Church lawyers grew increasingly anxious and frustrated. In October of 2019, they sent a letter to Dickson asking for him to implement the SCSC decision. No response. Then they sent a second letter. This time he responded by calling a new hearing (the third) on 26 November 2019. This time, Judge Dickson reverted to ADSC's motion for clarification of jurisdiction. He said he would consult with the SCSC for direction on what he was supposed to do. He also called for the two sets of lawyers to submit proposed orders on ADSC's motion for clarification. ADSC turned in its proposed order in December and the EDSC did soon thereafter. There has been no response of Dickson to any of this.

So now, Dickson proposes to move to another issue and hear about EDSC's motions on implementation. Given his record, there can be no guarantee he will actually talk about these. He may decide at the last minute to discuss something else. He may may make some other decision or order. In short, considering the record of this whole matter, there is no way to predict what Judge Dickson will do in his next hearing.

So, what does all of this add up to? We have one action, to give the seven parishes their independence. That is it for the 25 months and counting.

Back to my first point. None of this makes any sense to me. I know there has to be a reason for all of this but it is hidden whatever it is. scepiscopalians suggests Judge Dickson is helping his friends on the breakaway side by dragging this our forever. I would not argue against that. I simply do not know why two years of virtual inaction and I doubt anyone outside Judge Dickson's close circle of friends would know.

What we do know is that Judge Dickson was tasked with implementing the SCSC decision that explicitly returned 29 parishes and the Camp to the Episcopal Church. More than two years later, the Episcopal Church still does not have the 29 and the Camp. 

Next week could be the time Judge Dickson finally moves on implementing the decision. I for one am not holding my breath. We have been down this winding road of dead ends here and there too many times. The lesson we have have learned is to expect nothing. Maybe Judge Dickson will surprise us and maybe he will not.  


Wednesday, February 12, 2020


The New Hampshire primary was yesterday, 11 February. So, what is the political landscape today? Here is my take.

The big winner of the day was President Trump. His opposing party, the Democrats, are now badly divided in various ways, as age, ideology, gender. There is no clear front runner. Unless matters change drastically, the Democrats are headed to suicidal internal warfare and a bitterly divided convention. After the convention, the Democrats will have to work hard to heal the divisions and promote the candidate in a limited amount of time. All of this helps Trump.

It seems to me the next big news of the day was the probable end of the Biden and Warren candidacies. Unless they bounce back strongly in the new few weeks, their futures look bad. I am not surprised at Biden. He simply did not have the fire within to take on the schoolyard bully. I am surprised at Warren. She was riding high a few weeks ago. For a while, the bookies in Vegas were betting on her to win. What brought on her decline is still a mystery to me. However, her trajectory seems downward and I do not see what she can do to change that.

The next big news of the day was the strong showing of Amy Klobuchar. She has moved into the top three tier. I suspect that is because she is a sensible moderate who contrasts with the problematic Sanders and Buttigieg. I do not believe Sanders can win a general election against Trump. His programs are too radical for most Americans at this point. Buttigieg is a brilliant moderate but comes with the looming unknowable factor of sexual orientation. Should Democrats take a chance on him in a general election?

As I have said on this blog many times, history is cyclical. We had a period of sweeping democratic revolution in the late Twentieth and Early Twenty-First Centuries. Blacks, women, gays, the poor and the old were the main recipients of this great revolution. Then came the inevitable counter-revolutionary backlash to resist the changes. Donald Trump, who originally had little ideology, latched onto the backlash and became the successful demagogue of the counter-revolution. Those elements of society most distressed by the democratic reforms latched onto him as their messiah: Wall Street, the angry white working class man, southern whites, and evangelical Christians. The Trump/reactionary coalition worked both ways: conservative roll backs of the reforms in return for dictatorial power. Meanwhile, this coalition came at the cost of a great deal of turmoil and chaos as a part of Trump's governing style. This has left a lot of Americans exhausted by the endless disruptions, the constant, daily outrageous doings of President Trump. Trump fatigue is a common malady in America.

If my cyclical theory of history is right, after the counter-revolution backlash runs for a while, people long for moderation, stability, peace, and order. If this is true, Americans do not want new radical reform at the present. They want peaceful moderation and restoration of comfortable order in the government and society. Therefore, the "radical" candidates, as Sanders are out of touch with the times. His proposals of sweeping reforms are way ahead of their time. I suspect what most Americans want now is an end to the lurching back and forth of reform/reaction. As a nation, we long for sensible moderation, calm, and order to replace the jolting turmoil of the Trump years. In that case, the "moderate" candidates, as Klobuchar, should gain traction in the primaries as time goes by. If  my theory is true, the Democrats should nominate a safe moderate, not a radical or problematical candidate. 

Most Americans do not want Trump to be president, they never have. Given his consistent unpopularity, the Democratic candidate could very well gain a majority of the popular vote, as Hillary Clinton did in 2016. The unknown would be the vote in the Electoral College. In 2016, Trump lost the popular vote by more than three million, but won the Electoral College, and the White House.  

South Carolina votes on February 29. Many states vote a few days later, on March 3. By then, we will have a much better idea of the political landscape of America. Meanwhile, I am still trying to decide for whom to vote. I am leaning to Klobuchar.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020


Separation of church and state is a bedrock principle of the American constitutional system. Since I am not an officer of any religious institution, I get to talk about politics in public without violating that principle. This blog posting is about politics. My usual disclaimer---what I offer here is only opinion.

How should Christians approach the voting booth? How should we go about choosing for whom to vote? Can sincere Christians choose different, even opposing, candidates in good faith? These are all good questions we ought to contemplate as we prepare to exercise our constitutional responsibilities of voting in the near future. I think our guide should be the two great commandments, love God and love neighbor. We should use this guideline to assess the candidates and make our choices. This is our responsibility as Christians. The problem with this is the difficulty of discerning which candidates best align with love of God and neighbor.

In an ordinary year it would be easy to use our moral idealism to choose our candidates, but this is no ordinary year. We have a president who, in my opinion, must be defeated. He must be denied a second term. Trump is not one to play by the ordinary rules, quite the opposite. He practices the politics of personal destruction. He cannot be defeated necessarily by simple idealism. Therefore, we must broaden our scope and combine practicality and idealism. As all Democrats keep saying, we must find the candidate best positioned overall to defeat Trump. I am old enough to remember that in 1972 Democrats went for pure idealism with McGovern and went down to a crushing defeat on practicality. We must not let that happen this year.

In November, we Americans will be called upon to choose a president, for most, the Republican or the Democratic candidate. We know with certainty the Republican candidate will be Donald Trump. As the incumbent, he arrives with great institutional strength. He also has a passionately devoted fan base of about forty percent of the nation. Here in the south, he is a cult figure who evokes strong emotions of support really surpassing the usual politician. That is the point, Trump is not a usual politician. He is something else.

(9 Feb. A traveling vendor sets up shop along a busy highway in Bay St. Louis MS in the middle of Mardi Gras season. He reported business as good. In white neighborhoods of the area, there were often two objects in the front yard, a Wal-Mart statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary (this is French Catholic country) and a Trump sign. The popular feeling for Trump is best exemplified by the flag here that shows the president as Rambo. The attachment to Trump would be similar across the lower south, from South Carolina to Arkansas where the president is wildly popular with white people.)

Primary voting arrives soon. South Carolina will hold its primary on Saturday, 29 February. Nevada holds its caucuses on 22 February. On March 3, there is a mega primary in:  Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia. By then, the Democratic frontrunner(s) should be well-defined.

On the Democratic party side, there is no clear leader at this time. Instead, there is a clump of viable candidates. For Democrats, this presents something of a dilemma as each brings strengths and weaknesses to the field. Here is my take on them:

PRO---We have to love Joe Biden, vice president under Barack Obama and long-time actor on the national political stage with a great resume of work on progressive causes. Overall considered a moderate, he has by far the best credentials on experience.
CON---Cannot beat Trump. The right-wing noise machine led by Fox News will cover Hunter Biden and Burisma 24/7 until election day. Joe cannot overcome this. Moreover, he lacks the fire to go head to head with Trump.

PRO---The brightest light among the candidates. Well-educated, well-informed, articulate, moderate in views, and energetic. Will rally young people. Will match Trump on the stage and best him intellectually.
CON---The homosexuality issue is there even if it cannot be quantified. Is the country ready to elect the first openly gay president? My biggest concern about him is not sexuality, it is lack of experience. He has only been the mayor of a medium-sized city.

PRO---The best Christian in the race is not a Christian. So what? No one rivals Sanders in passionate devotion to improving the lives of people who need help the most. Energizes young voters. I love him as he is a person after my own heart, a man of radical love and vision.
CON---Unelectable. Trumpists and right-wing media will label him a Communist. He will be on defensive the whole campaign as a self-avowed democratic socialist. Middle of the road voters will be frightened away from voting for him.

PRO---Strong progressive credentials make her a replacement choice for Sanders. Smart, well-prepared, and relentless, she will outshine Trump on the debate stage. He will not be able to bully her into submission.
CON---Not fair to her, but there is a lot of reticence to nominate another woman after Hillary's failure. Moreover, right-wing media will bombard her daily as a radical liberal set to bankrupt the country. Uncertain as to whether she can fight back successfully in view of her slide in the polls in recent weeks.

PRO---The down-to-earth, sensible, moderate, problem solver from the heart of America. She also shows a toughness of purpose, as in the Kavanaugh hearings. Good experience. Has shown strength in the Democratic debates.
CON---Same question as for Warren. Has not quite caught on with voters, at least in Iowa and New Hampshire. Trailing several front-runners. Lack of public support may signal electoral weakness ahead. 

PRO---All the money in the world to beat Trump. Has already started a massive media campaign that is effective in attacking Trump. Experience as the tough big city mayor.
CON---There is something a bit off-putting about a fabulously rich man buying his way into power. There has to be more than money. We have not yet seen exactly what he proposes to do for the country. Maybe this will become clearer soon.

I think the rest of the Democratic candidates are not viable.

So, as you can see, I have not decided for whom to vote in my Democratic primary on March 3. The one thing that every Democrat agrees on is to choose the best candidate to beat Trump. The problem is, who is that? I have ruled out Biden and Sanders are unelectable, for different reasons. This leaves Warren, Buttigieg, Klobuchar and Bloomberg. I doubt seriously that Warren and Buttigieg can get elected, again for different reasons. This would leave Klobuchar and Bloomberg. For me, Klobuchar is going to have to show some strength among voters and Bloomberg is going to have to show some policy agenda. 

Right now, the bookies in Vegas are betting on Sanders to win the Democratic nomination. If they are right, we can prepare for a Trump second term.

As everyone's, my extended family and friends include Trump fans. My unscientific survey finds two groups, one that will vote for Trump regardless. They are die-hard Trumpists. He can do no wrong. But there are others who like Trump's policies but dislike his personality. They are offended by his profanity, vulgarity, mendacity, cruelty, and, in general, lack of decency. Given the right circumstances, some of these people could be persuaded to vote for the Democrat, as the Republican voters of Alabama did to prevent the Republican candidate, Roy Moore, from winning a Senate seat. Decent people draw a line somewhere. So, as a Democrat, I am not giving up on my fellow Americans, people to whom decency still counts. I believe as a nation we are devoted to the principles of our democratic republic, principles that are being trampled by President Trump.

There are two factors to consider with President Trump. In the first, he has solidified the conservatives in a backlash against the democratic reforms of post-Second World War America. Trump's new proposed budget shows this clearly. The financial powers, the angry white working class man, southern whites, and evangelical Christians are all passionately devoted to Trump. In the second factor, he is trying to create an all-powerful executive. This would concentrate governmental power in the president by reducing the Congress and the courts to secondary status. The conservative block behind him is helping him to do this. The recent vote in the Senate on impeachment showed the effect of this alliance very clearly. Helped on by his myopic train, Trump is well on the road to building an authoritarian state. His reelection in November would greatly boost this. In my opinion, this would be a disaster for our constitutional system of government. Trump would consolidate the imperial presidency. The U.S. would in effect turn from the Roman Republic to the Roman Empire and Trump would be its first Caesar Augustus. Democracy as we have known it would die away. Therefore, this year's election is the most important in our lifetime.

Let us approach the impending primaries with the utmost of careful consideration and with fervent prayers. 

Thursday, February 6, 2020


Yesterday, 5 February 2020 was an historic day in American history. The U.S. Senate voted to acquit President Trump of two charges made against him by the U.S. House of Representatives, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The vote to acquit was a foregone conclusion. What stood out about the day was the towering character of one of the Senators of the president's own party, Mitt Romney of Utah.

Romney gave a speech for the ages. Years from now, people will still be honoring Romney's words of yesterday. What made the speech so great was the honor and statesmanship that arose over the dishonor and political expediency of the hour. The entire rest of the fifty-two senators of the Republican party fell on their knees and in line behind the most contemptible president in American history. Future generations will hold them for what they are. History will also judge Romney as the lone Republican Senator of integrity who put morality and ethics over self and defended, probably at great cost to himself, the greatest constitution in human history. 

Romney's great speech towers over this dishonorable day. We Americans are not lost if the Romneys among us arise to the need of the hour.

Monday, February 3, 2020


Signs of spring are all around us, at least at my house, and not a moment too soon. Given all the unsettling news we have had recently, we need new life, we need the beauty of God's creation as much as ever, we need to be reminded that, in spite of whatever may be happening in our lives, there is a greater power in control of the universe, and so, all will be well. The never failing rhythms of nature remind us of that.

Today was a perfect day here, sunny, seventy-five degrees and low humidity. I live in Alabama midway between Birmingham and Atlanta. It does not get any better than this. If we should need reminding why we southerners choose to live in the south, walk outside today then go back in and watch the reporters on television shiver as they trudge through the snows of Iowa to report on the caucuses tonight.

As for me today, I spent all the hours I could hold up in my garden. It needed me but I needed it even more. It has been several weeks since I have been able to get out an work in my little Eden. There was a great deal of work to be done cleaning up from winter. We are having a relatively warm and wet winter and so many plants are blooming out already.

When I planned my garden I chose plants to give year round color. There is something blooming at every time of the year, even in mid-winter. Here are some now:

Winter jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum) is covered in tiny bright yellow flowers all winter long. Good to add color to a dead space in winter.

Winter honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima). "Most fragrant" is a good name for this. This open shrub fills the whole corner of the garden with a sweet aroma similar to summer honeysuckle. It too blooms all winter long.

What would we do without camellias, aka the winter rose? In Pensacola, I grew up with camellias in practically every yard, and with good reason. I have a variety of camellia bushes in my garden. This one is "Professor Sargent," a favorite of southern gardens because it makes a medium sized bush and puts out an abundance of beautiful blooms in mid-winter.

Yet another old southern favorite is "Governor Mouton." However, it makes a large bush and requires plenty of room. It never fails to cover itself in these elegant flowers in mid-winter.

Here I am today taking a break in my garden. I have taken off the bandana and broad-brimmed hat I usually wear. I often take breaks and sit to absorb the beauty of nature all around. Today, birds sang and flew all around me (they are used to me) as frogs croaked in the drainage ditch at the back of my garden (I call it my "water feature"), butterflies fluttered, and insects hummed around the boxwoods that were putting out the aroma of orange blossoms. It does not get any better. 

I hope you too are enjoying the beauty of nature these days. How lucky we are to live in this climate.