Monday, September 28, 2020


Greetings, blog reader. It is Monday, September 28, 2020, time to review where we stand on the crises of the day. Let's focus on the two leading problems of the day, the pandemic and the political crisis. 

PANDEMIC. According to our usual source, Worldometers, COVID-19 continues to infect and kill people at about the same rates except for an up-tick in South Carolina.

The case count in the world is 33,342,965. This was up 2,079,605 in the last week, September 21-28. This was a rising rate of 7%, the same as the earlier week. In the world there were 375,589 deaths in the week for a total of 1,002,985, a rising rate of 4%, the same as the preceding week. A million people have died of COVID-19!

The United States continues to be the epicenter of the pandemic, with the most cases and deaths. Last week, there were 316,700 new cases in the U.S., for a total of 7,321,465. This was a rising rate of 5%, up slightly from the 4% of the prior week. As for deaths, 5,336 Americans died of the plague last week, for a total mortality of 209,454. This was a rising rate of 3%, the same as the earlier week.

South Carolina saw a surge in new cases. It reported 8,179 new cases for a total of 145,887. This was a rate of 6%, up from the 4% of the earlier week. As for deaths, there were 127 in SC last week for a total of 3,326. This was a rising rate of 4%, up from the 2% of the previous week. It is clear the disease is spreading rapidly in SC.

Charleston County reported 328 new cases last week for a total of 15,817. This was a rising rate of 2%, the same as the earlier week. The county reported 4 deaths last week for a total of 260. This was a rising rate of 2%, up slightly from the 1% of the previous week. It is clear the disease continues to spread readily in Charleston County.

At present rates, we can expect about 300,000 Americans to be dead of the coronavirus by the end of the year although some experts are predicting much higher numbers because of seasonal changes. Winter weather will certainly facilitate the spread. All signs indicate a vaccine will not be available until next year, if then. The future of this pandemic looks bleak.

POLITICAL CRISIS. It is just 36 days until Election Day in the United States (actually people are already voting in many states). The political crisis is growing ever more intense as we draw nearer to the Day itself. 

I have to confess, dear reader, that today I am worried about the future of our country. I have studied history a great deal for the past 67 years, since the Fourth Grade. I have seen many national crises come and go, as Cuban Missile Crisis, assassinations of the 1960's, Vietnam War, Iranian Hostages, the Iraqi wars, and 9-11. For each of these, the question was how it would impact on the country. There was never a doubt that the country itself was in jeopardy. Now there is. I fear that the very existence of the democratic republic we have come to know and love may not survive the coup d'état underway against it. A minority coalition appears to be making a concerted effort to overthrow the great nation state our ancestors built and handed to us. As I said recently, this is a pull-the-fire-alarm-emergency.

The President of the United States is leading this coup. He has said very clearly that he will not commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses. He has also declared, repeatedly, that he will not accept the result of the election if he loses the vote. No president has ever said such things. Trump and the Trumpistas have thrown down the gauntlet against democracy. He is being backed up by about 40% of the American people, particularly by the Republican Party, and the reactionary media. He has heavily armed self-styled militias ready to take to the streets. More importantly, he and his Senators have packed the federal courts with young, right-wing judges who will do his bidding. Trump and the Republicans have said more than once that they fully expect the election to be decided ultimately by the U.S. Supreme Court. If so, we will see the counter-revolutionaries most likely complete their coup. Under this internal assault, the old American democratic republic will be hard pressed to survive. The country we have known and loved is on the brink. This is something I never thought I would live to see but here it is. And, if you think this is just hyperbole, you have not been paying attention to the news.

It is always helpful to keep the big picture in mind. We are witnessing the clash between two historic forces that always appear in revolutionary times: Revolution v. Counter-Revolution. First, there is the force of the revolution. In this case it is the Great Democratic Revolution that arose strongly in 1960s America and gave freedom, justice, equality and inclusion to the elements of society that had been ignored and excluded, namely blacks, women, the old, the poor, and homosexuals. The changes were sweeping and enormous. However, a reaction arose led by the social elements that felt most threatened and displaced by the revolution, namely white working class men (fear of immigrants and foreign competition), white southerners (fear of blacks), white evangelical Christians (fear of secularism), and big business (fear of loss of control of wealth). This counter-revolution was solidified in 2016 by Donald Trump who combined their cause with autocracy. This right-wing alliance has attacked virtually all the institutions that made the modern democratic republic, now the election process itself. It is now asserting, or attempting to, its power over the will of the majority of the people. 

A good deal of the problem at hand comes from the incongruity of the evolving democracy and the original institutional structure of the country. The United States did not start out as a democracy. At best, it would be called a representative republic. Power was largely in the hands of a minority, the white landholders. The majority were excluded: women, slaves, Indians. Moreover, when the founding fathers drew up the Constitution, they saw a collection of individual states, not of people. Thus, they created the Senate to represent the states, at two senators each. This is now wildly undemocratic. The smallest state, Wyoming (pop. 579,000), has the same vote in the Senate as the largest state, California (pop. 40,000,000). What this boils down to is that the small states, that tend to be rural and socially conservative, control the Senate over the large states, that tend to be urban and socially liberal. At present, Republicans have a majority vote in the Senate (53-47) and represent only 48% of the American people. At current demographic trends, by the year 2040, 30% of the population will have 70% of the Senators while 70% of the population will be represented by 30% of the Senate. This is a big red flag.

Even more undemocratic was the founding fathers' set up for presidential elections. Instead of trusting the people to choose the president, the democratic thing to do, they created out of thin air a strange and unique creature called the Electoral College. The president and vice president are elected by majority vote of the Electoral College. Each state gets the same number of votes in the EC that it has in Congress. For instance, South Carolina has two senators and seven representatives in Congress. This gives SC nine votes in the Electoral College. The EC is undemocratic because the Senate is undemocratic. Several times in American history, the choice of the people was not the winner in the EC. Twice in the last twenty years, the president chosen by the EC was not the choice of the voters. Trump won 46.1% of the popular vote in 2016 while Clinton won 48.2%. Thanks to the Supreme Court (a body not chosen by the people) and the Electoral College (a body not chosen by the people) we have had a president for the past nearly four years who is consistently unpopular with the citizenry, and for good reason.

One other point about the Electoral College that may impact on this year's election is that the Constitution specifies that the state legislature will decide how that state's votes are cast in the Electoral College. Most of the battleground states today have legislatures controlled by Republicans. Conceivably, they could discard the popular vote and choose electors pledged to Trump thus giving Trump a majority in the EC, and the election. This would be stunningly anti-democratic, but not surprising in the current climate. There are signs the Republicans are heading in this direction. If this does not work to secure Trump's reelection, the Supreme Court would be the backup. Either way, the coup would be complete. 

Thus, there is a wide and growing divergence between the will of the people and the institutions of our government. This is highly dangerous for the future of the country. Having packed the federal courts with counter-revolutionary judges, we can expect all sorts of roll backs of the democratic reforms of the past sixty years, against the wishes of the majority, starting with Obamacare. A recent Pew Research study found that 53% of the American people favor keeping the Affordable Care Act while 38% want it overturned. With Barrett on the Supreme Court, it is all but certain the Court will declare the ACA unconstitutional. The courts will also go after abortion even though 61% of Americans want to keep it legal, a number that is continually rising. We can also expect the right-wing courts to restrict rights for homosexuals even though 70% of the American people say homosexuality should be accepted. This growing hostility between the will of the people and their governmental institutions is a bright red danger signal.  

To summarize, the minority union of Trump and the reactionaries is now attempting a right-wing coup d'état to establish power over the majority of the American people who want to continue the Great Democratic Revolution. If Trump winds up getting reelected this will all but seal the coup. Some will depend on whether the Democrats win the majority of the Senate. If so, they could temper, but not necessarily shut down, this coup. If Trump wins and the Republicans keep a majority in the Senate, the coup will be complete and the democratic republic we have known and loved would be in mortal peril. It is highly doubtful that it could survive as we have known it another four years under such circumstances. This is why I am really fearful today.

I am not ready to assume the worst will happen. When we get right down to it, the outcome of this crisis all depends on whether the American people are more unified or disunified today. In  my theory of contemporary America, the fundamental reason the Great Democratic Revolution (1960's+) succeeded was that the country had a (forced) unity in the Cold War for a long time. The coronavirus has forced a certain unity on the country in 2020, and the president has failed spectacularly to lead the country against this threat. Two hundred thousand dead Americans are testimony of this. So, I think the question of the day is, has the pandemic unified the country enough to keep the institutions of the nation from being seized by the minority?

I see reason for hope. At base, the future of our democratic republic rests on the will of the people to keep it. Even though the U.S. did not start out as a democracy, it has evolved more and more along democratic lines. After two and a half centuries of working this out, even at the cost of many lives and much treasure, I see a populace devoted to the principles of equality and human rights and the procedures of majority rule. Thanks to the GDR, America is a far more democratic society than it has ever been. 

However, we know from history that states rise and fall. None lasts forever. The U.S. will not last forever. There are numerous democracies that failed in history. The first ones that come to my mind are the French Revolution (replaced by Napoleonic dictatorship in 1799) and Weimar Germany (replaced by Nazi totalitarianism in 1933). I would also throw in the Roman Republic (replaced by the Roman Empire in 1st Century B.C.E.) even though it was not very democratic. All of these happened against a backdrop in which the majority of the people were not steeped for centuries in a democratic tradition. America is. If we are saved from the present anti-democratic assault, it will be because the American people want to keep the greatest experiment in human government ever created. I believe in the end we will even though the institutional structures we have known may change. Meanwhile, I shudder to think what will happen in the next few months.

As always, remember we are here for the living of this hour. Let us seek to muster all the strength and courage we can to meet the challenges of this time of our lives. Peace.

Friday, September 25, 2020


There is some news today concerning the ongoing litigation between the Episcopal and Anglican dioceses in lower South Carolina. On yesterday, 24 September, the Anglican lawyers submitted to U.S. District Judge Gergel, "Defendants' Response to Plaintiffs' Second Petition to Enforce the Injunction." This was a reply to the Episcopal lawyers' paper of 10 September asking the judge to enforce his injunction of September 19, 2019. That injunction essentially banned the breakaway association from claiming to be the heir of the historic Episcopal diocese. The judge declared that the Episcopal diocese was the legal heir of the old diocese and that the breakaway group formed a new association when they departed from the Episcopal Church in 2012. After the judge issued the injunction, the breakaways adopted the name "Anglican Diocese of South Carolina." 

In yesterday's Response, the Anglicans declared they had removed the questionable terms, listed by EDSC on 10 Sept., from their websites: "Defendants [ADSC] have removed the protected terms from their websites upon notice from this petition." Attached to the Response was an affidavit of  James Lewis, Canon to the Ordinary of ADSC. He declared: "I also contacted all of the clergy and communicators of the Diocese via mail and notified them of the second petition, instructing them to delete the seals, names, and additionally protected terms from the second permanent injunction wherever they occurred electronically." So, ADSC claims it has scrubbed its sites of the banned terms.

This is not quite true. On a cursory look, I found right away two instances of continuing apparent violations of the judge's injunction. 

---"On January 26, 2008 at a festival service in the Cathedral of Saint Luke and Saint Paul in Charleston, Mark Joseph Lawrence was consecrated the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina." Wrong. He was consecrated bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina in 2008. He remained bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of SC until December 5, 2012 when he was given an official "Release and Removal" by the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church. The "Anglican" diocese did not exist before October 15, 2012. It was created by the people who left the Episcopal Church in 2012. Lawrence and his followers regarded him as the bishop of the breakaway association.

Find the above quote here.

---The breakaway congregation occupying the old Trinity Episcopal Church on Edisto claims to be "Trinity Episcopal Church." See their website here. In fact, there is only one Episcopal church on Edisto Island. It is now called the Episcopal Church on Edisto and its meets in the New First Missionary Baptist Church building. Perhaps the folks at Trinity did not get Lewis's memo.

So, in spite of the ADSC officials' claims, there is still cause for the Episcopal Church lawyers to ask Judge Gergel to enforce his injunction against the breakaways.

Two other bits of information I discovered in yesterday's court filing, which I have since confirmed, that would be of interest to everyone:

---On August 8, 2020 , the South Carolina Supreme Court officially agreed to accept the Episcopal lawyers' appeal of Judge Edgar Dickson's outrageous order attempting to nullify the SCSC decision of Aug. 2, 2017. So, we can expect the SCSC to proceed with this. We do not know yet whether they will hold a hearing or go straight to a written decision.

---The lawyers for the Episcopal Church side are to submit their brief (arguments in the case), concerning the appeal, to the South Carolina Supreme Court, by October 11, 2020.

Now we await Judge Gergel's response to the Episcopal side's petition for him to enforce his injunction. We also await the briefs the two sides will present to the SCSC regarding EDSC's appeal of Judge Dickson's order. After that, at some time we should get a ruling from the SCSC. The question at hand is whether the present SCSC justices will uphold the SCSC decision of Aug. 2, 2017. It is unimaginable the state high court would overthrow a final decision of the SCSC, and one that had been sent back down to the lower court on Remittitur. This would throw the entire judicial structure of South Carolina into chaos.

Thursday, September 24, 2020


What we have suspected and feared for a long time is actually coming to pass. The convincing evidence came yesterday in President Trump's news conference. This is a attempt at an overthrow of our democratic republican government and it is being carried out by the leader of that very republic and his army of enablers. For those of us who want to preserve our historic government, this is a break the glass and pull the fire alarm moment, and if you do not think so, I urge you to read Barton Gellman's new article in The Atlantic, "The Election that could Break America." Find it here .

The evidence of this attempted coup is now unmistakable. Trump has repeatedly and publicly rejected the idea he would concede his office to anyone. He, and his number two acolyte, the Attorney General Bill Barr, have repeatedly denounced and rejected the validity of mail-in ballots. The Republican Party has employed over one thousand lawyers who have descended on "battleground states" to disqualify mail-in votes (which would be overwhelmingly for Democrats). They have already had some successes, as in Pennsylvania where they brought a successful suit in the state supreme court to throw out all mail-in ballots that were not mailed in two envelopes (the ballot inside an envelope that is inside another envelope). In the election of 2016, this would have disqualified 100,000 (mostly Democrat) votes. Trump carried PA by 42,000 votes.

According to the people who have studied what is going on in these shenanigans, the plan of Trump and the Trumpistas is simple and clear. Most Republicans will vote in person on Election Day, Nov. 3. Trump will be ahead in the count that day. They will declare Trump the winner and challenge the validity of mail-in ballots on whatever ground they can find. This will throw the final vote count into chaos under lawsuit after lawsuit (this is where the 1,000 lawyers come in). Remember, Trump's whole M.O. is to create chaos. The outcome of the election, they hope, will be impossible to determine officially. 

Under the terms of the U.S. Constitution, the people do not elect the president, the states do. It designates the state legislature as the decider on the state's votes. What the Trump train will do is to create enough confusion and uncertainty in the outcome of the popular vote on Nov. 3 that the state legislature will have to decide on that state's electors to the Electoral College. Most of the state legislature in the "battleground states" are controlled by Republicans. The Republican majority could vote through a slate of pro-Trump electors for the state. The Electoral College will vote on December 14. It elects the president. Under this scenario, Trump would be officially reelected. As Trump said yesterday, if we throw out the mail-in votes, there will be no need for him to concede anything. The plan of this attempted overthrow is plain for all to see. Trump is working to remain in office by overthrowing the election and he will do this by invalidating the mail-in votes and throwing the decisions to the Republican-controlled state legislatures. This would be a  coup d'état, that is, an overthrow of the majority-rule democratic republican government we have developed in this country for the past two and a half centuries. Majority government would be replaced by minority rule, under an authoritarian president.

Just because this coup has started does not necessarily mean it will succeed. History is littered with coups that failed. However, it is also filled with coups that succeeded. What will happen now in the U.S. is very much up in the air. It will depend on certain factors such as the will of the majority of the people to retain our democratic republic. On a practical level, it probably depends most on the members of the Republican Party, particularly on the party office-holders and leaders. If they remain in lock-step, as they did in the impeachment vote in the House and Senate, Trump will come much closer to success. All of our institutions will be put to the test, probably most notably the courts. That is why the Republicans are frantic now to place a new justice on the Supreme Court, as Trump said yesterday. They are rushing through confirmation of a new young, right-wing justice in order to have a solid lock on the court which may very well end up deciding the election, as the court did in the Election of 2000 when the conservative majority handed the win to the man who lost the popular vote. So, there is an open question as to whether the institutions will hold and defend the democratic republic, or will enable this coup. I expect we will also see violence in the streets. In fact, it may well by part of the plan. The Republican Attorney General of Kentucky, a protégé of Senator McConnell, just yesterday announced a settlement in the Breonna Taylor case that was guaranteed to create street demonstrations/violence that Republicans could then use as an excuse for energize its base for "law and order." The armed forces sent in to keep "peace" could also be used to overthrow the popular vote.

Back to the big picture. We are witnessing a great clash between two historic forces, the proponents of the Great Democratic Revolution, and the reactionaries opposing the GDR. For simplicity, let's call them the Revolutionaries and the Reactionaries. The GDR, that started in earnest in the 1960s brought dramatic and sweeping reforms in favor of equality and inclusion of elements historically ignored or marginalized particularly blacks, women, the old, the poor, and homosexuals. Cumulatively, this was nothing less than a great democratic revolution. However, the elements that felt most threatened by this revolution arose in a counter-revolution to stop and turn back this hated course of change. They were working class white men, white southerners, white evangelical Christians, and big business. When Trump came along in 2016, he unified and energized this Reactionary coalition. He made a deal with them. He would champion their cause of the destruction of democratic reform if they would support his autocratic power. The deal was solidified. It remains so. The problem is that this anti-democratic alliance is not a majority of the people. It is a minority regime and can only sustain its power by destroying the majority institutions. That is what is happening now in the coup under way. It is an attempt of a minority to seize power from the majority. In other words, it is an attempt of the old white male power structure to overturn the GDR and this is being championed by a man who wants to be all-powerful.

The Eighteenth Century philosophers, who were the intellectual fathers of modern democracy, as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, knew that democracy had an achilles heal. If the people have the right to determine their government by majority vote, they could vote to overthrow democracy. The philosophers could not find a solution to this problem. I do not think that is our problem today. The majority of the American people do not want to end our democratic republic. The question is what they will do to defend this fragile government that is now under attack by the very officers whom they entrusted to protect and defend the government. The philosophers thought this problem would be solved by majority vote and this would have to be protected by the will of the people. That is the issue today. 

I will return soon with some reflections on historical examples of counter-revolutions and coups. 

Monday, September 21, 2020



THE QUOTE OF THE DAY:  To make life a little better for people less fortunate than you, that's what I think a meaningful life is. One lives not just for oneself but for one's community. Ruth Bader Ginsburg.    

Greetings to you, blog reader, on this Monday, September 21, 2020. It is time for our periodic visit to the big crises we have been following for months now.

PANDEMIC. The major news of the day is that the United States passed the 200,000 mark in reported deaths of COVID-19. America continues to be the world's epicenter of the pandemic with by far the most cases and deaths. There is a lot of talk about a vaccine but the science indicates it is still many months away.

The rates of new cases and deaths in the world and in the United States remained the same this week as last. According to our consistent source, Worldometers, there were 31,263,360 cases in the world. Last week (Sept. 14-21), 2,051,483 cases were added, a rising rate of 7%, the same as the earlier week. There were 36,509 deaths in the world for a total of 965,509, a rising rate of 4%, also the same as the previous week.

In the U.S., 296,310 new cases were reported last week, for a total of 7,004,768, a rising rate of 4%, the same as the earlier week. As for deaths, 5,598 were reported last week for a total of 204,118. This is a rate of 3%, the same as the previous week. Thus, in both the world and the U.S., COVID-19 disease continues to spread and kill patients at the same rate as recent time.

However, South Carolina and Alabama are reporting improving figures. In SC, 5,844 new cases were reported last week for a total of 137,708. This is a rising rate of 4%, down from the 6% of the earlier week. There were 55 new deaths reported in SC for a total of 3,199. This is a 2% increase, down significantly from the 6% of the preceding week. In AL, 6,207 new cases were reported last week for a total of 144,962. This is a 4% increase, down from the 5% of the earlier week. AL reported 86 new deaths last week, a rising rate of 4%, up slightly from the 3% of the previous week. In AL, 2,437 people have died of COVID-19.

Charleston County continues to show real signs of slowing the spread. It reported 365 new cases for a total of 15,489. This is a rising rate of 2% for the week, down from the 5% of the earlier week. There were 3 new deaths reported last week, for a total of 256. This is a rising rate of 1%, down from the 3% of the preceding week. While rates have slowed noticeably, Charleston County still leads the state in cases.

The bottom line of the pandemic is that it continues to spread and to kill people in the world and the U.S. without slowing down. There are improvements in SC and AL but it remains to be seen if these will be long lasting. As rates stand now, we can expect 300,000 Americans to be dead of the plague by the end of this year. Actually, the number will probably be higher as people spend more time indoors in cooler weather. As there is still no national policy to deal with the disease and a vaccine is still a long way off, the future of the pandemic looks grim in our country.

LITIGATION. To my knowledge, nothing has changed recently in the courts between the competing dioceses. We are still waiting on some movement on three issues. 

1-On Sept. 10, the Church side filed a petition with Judge Gergel for enforcement of his Sept. 19, 2019 order placing an injunction on the breakaway side from claiming to be the historic diocese. My guess is that the Anglican diocese will file a counter-argument with Judge Gergel some time soon. At any rate, at some point, Judge Gergel will respond to the Church's petition. 

2-Request to SC Court of Appeals to expedite the Church's appeal of Judge Dickson's order to the SC Supreme Court. 

3-Response of the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit, to the appeal from the Anglican diocese of Judge Gergel's order.

POLITICAL CRISIS. There has been a sudden and dramatic turn of events with the death of liberal icon "the notorious" RBG. We now face two huge crises on the national scene, the election and the new justice for the Supreme Court. Each one of these would be enough, but together they will strain every seam of our civic fabric. The nation will survive, more or less, but God only knows in what condition. 

The more events move along, the more I am confident in my theory of contemporary America. We are witnessing a titanic clash between two enemy forces, that of the Great Democratic Revolution and that of the Counter-revolution. This state of affairs, also called the culture war, is about to reach a huge turning point. The next four months will be monumentally crucial to the future of the United States. 

The side of the ongoing Revolution has lined up with the Democratic Party. The Counter-revolution has taken over the Republican Party which has also become the personal realm of Donald Trump. The situation with the Supreme Court seat has brought to a head the culture war between the two sides. The unexpected death of Ginsburg has greatly energized the "base" of both sides. 

The Revolution is the majority party while the Counter-revolution is the minority party. The Republicans know they are shrinking as a political force. Soon, the United States will be a majority minority country. The Republicans have won the popular vote for president only once in the last thirty-two years, in 2004. They gained the White House twice otherwise, in 2000 by the Supreme Court and 2016 by the Electoral College. This year, they are likely to lose the presidency, the House of Representatives, and the Senate, at least according to the bookies in Las Vegas. Therefore, for the last few years, the Republicans have put a highly concerted effort into controlling the third branch of the federal government, the courts. They have packed the courts with young, right-wing judges who serve for life. They are about to pick such a person for the Supreme Court giving the court a powerful 6-3 conservative majority wildly divergent from the attitudes of the majority of the people of the nation. 

Thus, the courts will become the power base of the Counter-Revolution for a long time to come. The Republicans have completely politicized the judicial process, the supposedly non-partisan branch of the federal government. After they have lost the executive and legislative branches, they will have the judicial branch for decades. They cannot undo the basic reforms of the Great Democratic Revolution but they can use the courts to eat away at the edges and in some cases severely diminish what has been accomplished. For instance, abortion is a huge issue on the Counter side. They can abolish it in effect if not technically. We will also see dramatic roll-backs in rights for blacks, women, homosexuals, the poor, and the old, all of which were the great beneficiaries of the Great Democratic Revolution. We will also see a big boost in the enrichment of the wealthiest people as well as repeal of environmental protections.

If Trump gets reelected, we can expect a tsunami of roll-backs of democratic reforms, much greater than what we saw in Trump's first term. If the Republicans keep the Senate, we will also see a virtual dictatorship from the White House. The Republican Party has become Trump's lap dog and no one exemplifies this more than SC Senator Lindsey Graham. Four years ago, he vowed loudly that he would never change his opposition to confirming a Supreme Court justice in an election year. Now, he is shamelessly and loudly declaring just that. Hypocrisy flashes in neon lights. If he had any credibility before, he certainly has none now. No thinking person would believe anything he says forevermore. The point is, Trump has cowed the entire Republican party. They are going to rise or fall with him: and I think we can safely predict how this faustian bargain is going to turn out.

At any rate, we are heading into the greatest national crisis since at least 1968, and I would argue since the Civil War. I feel more and more that America will be different on the other side of this crisis. Trump and the Republicans have already broken down many of the agreed upon norms and rules of our common civic life. In order to have a functioning democracy, we have to have majority rule. This is something the Republicans have refused to accept. We also have to have agreed-upon rules, something else Republicans have repudiated. With guardrails gone, Democrats are now talking about nuclear options if they gain Congress and the presidency such as statehood for Puerto Rico and Washington D.C. This would automatically add four Democratic Senators. They can also abolish the 60 vote rule in the Senate to stop filibusters. Moreover, they can raise the number of justices in the Supreme Court to any figure they choose. The Dems could pack the Court with a majority of young liberal justices. So, what the Republicans have started is a very dangerous game. They may rue the day they ever started it. No one knows where this is going. I for one agree that if the Republicans discard norms and rules in order to try to repeal the Great Democratic Revolution, the Dems will have no choice but to respond in kind. The nation should not let the minority rule the day. This would be the end of the democratic republic.      

A PERSONAL REQUEST for prayers for the rector of my parish, St. Luke's, of Jacksonville AL. The beloved Rev. Robert Fowler tested positive for COVID-19 a few days ago.

He is at home treating the usual early symptoms. So far, so good. St. Luke's has not had an in-person service in six months. The plan was to resume services in the building on October 4. All plans are on hold now as we wait and pray for a speedy recovery. Please add the Rev. Robert Fowler to your prayer list.

The more the distressing crises move in on us, the more time I seem to spend in my garden (besides, the weather has turned cooler and drier). It needs me and I need it. The garden is now moving into its fall phase. This is a time of bitter-sweet beauty as we enjoy the last full flush of flowering while knowing cold and dormancy are just around the corner.

Japanese Silver Grass "Cabaret" (Miscanthus sinesis condensatus 'Cabaret'). I am fond of ornamental grasses and have many clumps in my garden. They all reach their fullest flowering in late summer/early fall. Pampas grass is by far the most popular ornamental grass in the south but there are many other good ones. Owing to their sizes, grasses are not recommended for most home yards and gardens. This clump is eight feet across.

Some roses are still in bloom. This is "Coral Drift," one of the best of the shrub roses. Its small size at a couple of feet makes it a good addition to a sunny spot in the yard/garden. It puts out a profusion of coral flowers from frost to frost.

Chinese Abelia (Abelia chinensis) is an excellent shrub for the southern garden. In summer and fall it is covered in countless tiny white flowers that are aromatic (similar to tea olive). I have this on the far side of the garden from the gardenias. This shrub needs a lot of room. This one is about ten feet across. As you see, it is a favorite of butterflies. I am blessed with lots of butterflies and hummingbirds and am saddened when they depart in October.

Finally, my usual sign-off. We are in a dark hour of crisis on crisis. We must not deny this. Our lives are disrupted. Death stalks our families, friends, and communities. No one asked for this. That choice was not ours to make. Let us meet the perils of this night head on with strength and courage and live this hour to the best of our ability. No one knows what is going to happen, but my study of history, my patriotism to America, and my faith in Christianity tell me we have the wind at our backs. Let us move forward together. Peace. 

Thursday, September 17, 2020



With a month and a half to go to the general election of 3 November, the red state of South Carolina is showing some curious life on the blue side. Quinnipiac released a new poll yesterday sowing the senate race in SC to be a dead heat among likely voters, 48% to 48%. Yes, believe it or not the Democratic colt Jaime Harrison is running neck and neck with the Republican war horse Lindsey Graham. I had to check the figures twice to believe it. Harrison is an African American; Graham is white. (Remember South Carolinians have elected a black man to the U.S. Senate, the sitting Senator Tim Scott.)

To be sure, President Trump is polling ahead of Biden in SC, 51% to 45%, closer than one might have expected but still a majority for reelection. At least the Dems have a fighting chance.

The poll had numerous detailed questions that were revealing. In one, regarding the candidates as "Favorable," Harrison won 47% to Graham's 44%. That means more than half of the voters of South Carolina did not see Graham favorably. In another, regarding the candidates as "Unfavorable," there was an even bigger gap. Harrison was 34% unfavorable while Graham was at 49% unfavorable. That means approximately half the voters of SC view Graham in a negative light.

I have no empirical evidence of why Graham is now seen so poorly by the people of South Carolina. He started out as a critic of Donald Trump. Before the Election of 2016, he called Trump a "kook." He said he would destroy the Republican Party. Remember, first impressions are usually right. Then, after Trump won a big victory in SC, Graham reversed himself and became one of Trump's loudest and most loyal knee-jerk supporters on Capitol Hill. Since Trump has majority popularity in SC, one would think Graham would share in that. Apparently not. This leaves one wondering why Graham is having such a hard time winning reelection. 

It is not just South Carolina that is leaving me puzzled. How about Alabama, one of the deepest red states in the nation? There, recent polls have shown the Democratic incumbent Senator Doug Jones polling even with the Trump loyalist Tommy Tuberville (Auburn football coach who has never held an office), 46% to 46%. At first everyone assumed the Republican candidate would easily ride the president's coat tail into office, but now maybe not. There is no doubt Trump will win a landslide in Alabama. At this point, whether Tuberville will win is uncertain. 

The Senate races in South Carolina and Alabama are fascinating, yet leaving me scratching my head. I had assumed the Republican candidates would win running away. Could it be that these states, which will vote for Trump, will also vote for Democratic senators? As they say, we shall see.

Monday, September 14, 2020


Greetings, blog reader, on this Monday, September 14, 2020. Here's a wish that you and yours are safe and secure as our long night of darkness continues. Our problems seem to be multiplying. Numerous out of control wildfires are ravaging California, Oregon, and Washington. Tropical Storm, soon-to-be hurricane, Sally is churning her way toward the central Gulf coast. The pandemic is running rampant still as people are falling sick and dying all around us. The failing economy is throwing millions of workers out of their jobs. Our streets are filled with people demanding racial justice. The political campaign is turning uglier by the minute. Parents are wracking their brains trying to decide whether to send their children back to school. Alas, even my team, Florida State, lost to Georgia Tech last Saturday (Bobby, we miss you, buddy). Enough already. All we need now is to break out in boils to wonder whether we really are Job. I for one am asking, whatever next?

As for TS Sally, my brother and sister live in Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi (as this a.m., to be the point of landfall). They are expecting up to ten feet [!] of storm surge and up to twenty inches [!] of rain. My brother's house, which is on the water, is on stilts ten feet above the ground. As you can imagine, everyone there is on pins and needles now.

PANDEMIC. COVID-19 continues to spread at about the same rate as last week with one significant change of a slight uptick of cases in Charleston County.

According to our usual source, Worldometers, in the world, there were 1,899,104 cases reported, a rate of 7%, the same as the earlier week (Sept. 1-7). The total number of cases in the world is 29,211,877. As for new deaths in the world, 35,424 were reported, a rising rate of 4%. This is down slightly from the 5% of the week before. There are now 928,887 reported deaths in the world of the disease.

The spread in the United States is also showing slight improvement in the week of Sept. 7-14. There, 248,037 new cases were reported, a rate of 4%. This is down from the 5% of the earlier week. As for new deaths, 5,627 were reported in the week, a rate of 3%. This is the same rate as the earlier week. There are now 198,520 reported deaths of the pandemic in the U.S. At the present mortality rate, there will be around 300,000 Americans dead of the disease by the end of the year 2020. The United States has by far the most cases and deaths of this disease in the world. The U.S. has 4% of the world's population and 23% of the cases as well as 21% of the deaths. There is still no national policy to combat this disease. In fact, President Trump has said he is "down playing" the pandemic. We now know as a fact, from his own words on tape, that he and his administration deliberately refused to defend the nation against what they knew would be a contagious and deadly disease. This is a national scandal and humiliation.

In South Carolina, the spread continues at about the same pace. Last week, the state reported 6,912 new cases for a total of 131,864. This is a rising rate of 6%, the same as the previous week. Deaths were reported at 177 last week, for a total of 3,064. This is a rate of 6%, down slightly from the 7% of the earlier week. Charleston County, however, is showing a slight uptick in new cases, 684 last week. This is a 5% spread, up from the 3% of the earlier week. The county is now listing 15,124 cases of COVID-19. It also listed 7 new deaths last week, for a total of 253. This 3% rise is down from the 5% of the earlier week.

Alabama is showing slight improvement in the spread and mortality. There, 6,441 new cases were reported, for a total of 138,755. This is a rising rate of 5%, down from the 6% of the earlier week. The state reported 75 new deaths, for a total of 2,351. This is a rate of 3%, down from the 5% of the week before. 

POLITICAL. Another kind of storm is churning toward us, the impending national election of 3 November. The presidential campaigns are getting meaner by the day. President Trump said a couple of days ago he was now going to get "vicious." What does he think he has been so far, Mr. Rogers? I had better not get started on Trump right now, but I will let you know he did give me some good chuckles recently. First, he compared himself, favorably, to FDR and Winston Churchill. That was hilarious. (He was serious!) Next, he is telling his followers to expect twelve more years as president (unconstitutional) because he deserves it. Moreover, he wants to be added as the fifth president on Mt. Rushmore. Too, he insists he had done more for blacks than anyone since Lincoln. As a kicker, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. These are all hoots to everyone except him and his drink-the-Kool-Aid followers. After I stopped laughing about FDR and Churchill, I turned angry. Trump's name should never be mentioned in the same breath with those towering saints of the Twentieth Century who together saved civilization from a satanic apocalypse. Trump is the very antithesis of these monumental statesmen. Really, he is the worst president in American history, hands down. What closed the case was he himself in nine hours of tapes with Bob Woodward.  

On another note, we now know, from the Church court filing of 10 September, that the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina and St. Philip's Church, of Charleston, each received over $150,000 in PPP government funds a few months ago. I also believe it to be true that the Episcopal diocese of SC and some parishes took PPP money, apparently less than $150,000 (the SBA did not list the PPP "loans" of less than $150,000).

This is wrong and, in my opinion, unethical. It is wrong for both the church and the state. It is bad for the church because it moves the Church toward a client relationship with the state. It is bad for the state because it violates the sacrosanct founding principle of the separation of church and state as enshrined in the First Amendment. As tempting as it is for churches to take tax-payer money, this road is fraught with dangers. To maintain full independence and integrity, every church entity should return the money they took under the PPP program. In fact, I am pleased to report that numerous churches across America did refuse to apply for the "loans," some even had changes of hearts and returned the money.

That is enough grumbling for the day. There are also lots of good and wonderful things happening all around us. I watched the service at Grace Church Cathedral yesterday and was heartened to see 35 people appear for confirmation. Even in this day of COVID, the church goes on, life goes on. And, that is what we must relish in this hard time. There is light in the darkness. One of my favorite places to go to reflect on these things is the garden of the Anniston Museum of Natural History, in Anniston AL. 

Ginger and papyrus line this pool. This little-known Eden has the largest collection of palms in Alabama as well as many rare and unusual tropical plants.

We are in a hard time; and let's not try to pretend otherwise. We have crisis on crisis besetting us. We wish it would all go away and everything would return to "normal." However, that choice is not ours to make. We are experiencing anxiety, fatigue, even fear. These are all natural and are to be expected. However, we must not let those feelings get the best of us. As Job, we cannot know now the reasons for all our sufferings, but like Job we will not waver in our faith and confidence in the God of the universe. As always, we should remember we are here for a reason and it is for the living of this hour whatever it may bring. Peace.

Saturday, September 12, 2020


It seems to me the people who broke away from the Diocese of South Carolina are having a hard time accepting the reality of their unfortunate situation. They refused to accept the state supreme court ruling that 29 parishes and the Camp were property of the Episcopal Church. They refused to accept the federal court ruling that the identity, names, and emblems of the historic diocese belong solely to the Episcopal Church diocese. We learned through a court filing two days ago, they are still in denial after all this time and all these court orders.

Nearly a year ago, on September 19, 2019, federal court judge Richard Gergel issued 1-a judgment that the Episcopal Church diocese is hierarchical and the Church diocese is the legal heir of the historic Diocese of South Carolina, and 2-a permanent injunction forbidding the association that broke away from the Episcopal Church from claiming to be in any way the historic diocese. The breakaways cleaned up a bit but left a lot untouched. So, Judge Gergel issued a second order of enforcement on December 19, 2019 (this is called the First Enforcement Order). He demanded that the breakaways cease and desist from claiming in any way to be the historic diocese. 

The new association, calling itself the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina, appealed Gergel's decision to the United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit, where it stands now. We are awaiting either a hearing or a written decision from the appeals court. The ADSC asked Judge Gergel for a stay pending the appeal. He denied the request. The ADSC also asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for a stay pending the appeal. It too denied the request. Thus, Gergel's two orders to the ADSC are fully functional.

Yet, even after all this, the people in the ADSC continue to claim to be the historic diocese. So, on 10 September 2020, the Church lawyers went back to Judge Gergel asking again that he enforce the order he published nearly a year ago. The filing was entitled "Second Petition to Enforce the Injunction." It gives in detail 27 specific violations of the breakaways against Gergel's order. Find the Diocese of South Carolina's press release about this here . This contains a link to the Second Petition itself. Attached to the Petition are the actual exhibits of the 27 violations. 

In the end, the Church lawyers asked the judge to enforce his injunction. It did not call for money or other penalties. This left me wondering why not. Is not it time to have some teeth in the enforcement? How about arresting the breakaway authorities for contempt of court, or at least slapping an attention-getting fine? (Can't you see the swat team raiding the Coming Street headquarters and hauling off the officers in handcuffs?) What else is going to make them obey the court orders that they have ignored twice ? 

Anyway, the breakaways seem to be in need of a history lesson, so I will offer them a brief run-down.

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1---The Episcopal churches in South Carolina formed an association in 1785. It was later called: the Diocese of South Carolina, the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, and the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina.

2---In 1789, it was one of nine state associations that formed the Episcopal Church.

3---The Diocese of South Carolina has remained a part of the Episcopal Church (except for the Civil War years).

4---In January of 2008, Mark Lawrence was consecrated as the XIV bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina.

5---Lawrence was removed as bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina on December 5, 2012, by the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church.

6---The Standing Committee, supported by the bishop and others, resolved to leave the Episcopal Church on October 15, 2012. This was confirmed by a convention of most of the local churches of the diocese on Nov. 17, 2012.

7---When this group of people left the Episcopal Church, it did not take the diocese with it. It created a new religious denomination separate from the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of South Carolina. This new entity is now known as the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina.

8---The new association declared its bishop as Mark Lawrence. He remains the only bishop of the new religious body.

9---The Episcopal Church reorganized the Diocese of South Carolina under a new standing committee and bishop.

10---The newly formed association obtained an injunction controlling the rights, names, and emblems of the historic diocese, from the circuit court in January of 2013. This injunction remained in place until it was superseded by the federal court order of Sept. 19, 2019.

11---The entity now known as the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina was created on Oct. 15, 2012. Under federal decree of Sept. 19, 2019, it has no right to the identity, names, and emblems of the historic diocese. The federal judge issued an injunction forbidding the new association from pretending in any way to be the historic diocese.

12---The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina and its denomination, the Anglican Church in North America, are not parts of the Anglican Communion. The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of South Carolina are parts of the Anglican Communion.

13---The South  Carolina Supreme Court ruled on Aug. 2, 2017, that 29 of 36 local parishes, and Camp St. Christopher, remained property of the Episcopal Church. The circuit court judge, Edgar Dickson, refused to implement the decision and instead reinterpreted the decision to reach an opposite conclusion. Dickson's nullification is now on appeal in the high state courts (where it is likely to be overturned in favor of the original SCSC order).

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The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina and its local congregations might want to pay attention to the facts of this matter if they want to avoid contempt of court penalties. I doubt that Judge Gergel will be amused at the flagrant disregard of his two orders. I know it is hard for these people to accept because they were fed incorrect and misleading information and opinion by their trusted leaders before the schism. Before the break, people in the old diocese commonly believed they could take the diocese out of the Episcopal Church, intact, and could take their local church properties with them as they departed. These assumptions turned out to be wrong. The state supreme court ruled that the bulk of the local churches were property of the Episcopal Church and the federal court ruled the diocese did not leave the Episcopal Church. It is hard for anyone to accept that what one once believed confidently to be true, is not, in fact, true. 

Friday, September 11, 2020


This blog is celebrating its seventh anniversary today, 11 September 2020. I started it on Sept. 11, 2013, expecting it to last briefly. I had no idea it would still be going seven years later. I never imagined that so many people would care to read the modest postings I would offer.  I set up this blog for two reasons, to keep people informed of the progress of my research and writing a history of the schism, and to help keep people informed of what was happening to the two sides in the aftermath of the split of October 15, 2012. The book was published in August of 2017, so that part is over. I am now contemplating a new volume or a revised version of the original book once all of the litigation is over, that is, if I live long enough, which at the pace of the litigation is entirely dubious. 

When the secessionists started the legal war on January 4, 2013, I expected the litigation would last a few years and all would be over and settled long before 2020. I had no idea which side would prevail. Here we are seven and a half years later and the legal war is still dragging on. This is frustrating because the Church has won in both federal and state courts, yet nothing is settled. Right now we are in appeals, again. The Church side is appealing Judge Dickson's outrageous attempt to nullify the South Carolina Supreme Court decision of August 2, 2017. The breakaway side is appealing federal Judge Gergel's masterful order of September 2019 which recognized the Church diocese as the heir of the historic diocese and placed an injunction of the secessionists to prevent them from pretending to be the old diocese. I expect the Church appeal to go to the SC Supreme Court and the Anglican appeal to be rejected by the federal appeals court. This should happen within the next few months. However, no one can predict a time frame for all of this. The breakaway side has shown it will deny, delay, and appeal until the cows come home. This whole mess could drag on for years to come. God only knows when it will all be over.

As the litigation seemed to be going on forever, I changed the purpose of this blog from providing information and comment on the schism to other topics I considered of importance. I changed the name from "The Episcopal Church Schism in South Carolina" to "Ron Caldwell's Blog" to reflect the change. Lately, in addition to the schism, I have been paying attention to the crises going on in our lives, particularly the pandemic and the coming election. 

Speaking of the election, I must confess that I made a misjudgment about President Trump and I need to clear it up now. All along I have characterized Trump as incompetent, meaning unable to understand and handle the many issues and problems around the presidency. I tended to view him as a morally and ethically vacant entertainer, all show and no substance. As for the virus, I assumed he cared nothing and knew nothing about it until it was too late. So, I attributed all of Trump's shortcomings to simply being incompetent. 

We now know this view of Trump was and is incorrect. Two days ago, the journalist Bob Woodward released 18 taped conversations between himself and Trump made this year [nine recorded hours of a president speaking candidly in real time, in the middle of a national crisis, is an historian's gold mine]. Trump revealed he knew in January of the seriousness of the coronavirus and that he remained very well aware of all the truth about the coming pandemic from then on. He called it "deadly stuff." Indeed. Knowing what he knew, he went on to make two fateful choices: to keep the truth about the pandemic from the American people, and to make no concerted national effort to stop or lessen the pandemic in the U.S. In fact, in many ways he tried to stop what efforts there were of mitigation.

Trump's own words on tape show he was not morally and ethically vacant. In my view, his actions were decidedly immoral and unethical. So, it is not correct to say President Trump was incompetent. In fact, the tapes prove he knew very well what he was doing and set about to do it methodically. At least as a partial result of his choices, the U.S. has had by far the most cases and deaths in the world. We are now looking at nearly 200,000 dead Americans, far more than any country on the globe. We do not know Trump's motives for this historic dereliction of duty, but they really do not matter at this point. The effects of his actions are the important things at hand, and they are devastating. 

To put this in perspective, suppose right after impact, Captain Smith had kept secret the fact that Titanic had hit an iceberg and was fatally wounded, perhaps because he did not want the people to "panic." In time, it would have become obvious to everyone onboard the ship was going under and taking some 2,200 people with it but by then the tilt of the ship would have made launching lifeboats very difficult if possible at all. Probably everyone on board would have died in the icy waters. That did not happen as some 700 passengers did get into lifeboats and were rescued. There would have been more except Smith could not get people to realize the danger for a long time. Smith's heart-wrenching decision to spread the alarm early on kept the disaster from becoming a catastrophe (Smith was last seen at his post on the bridge). When it really counted, Captain Smith made decisions of great moral and ethical courage.     

The only other incident in modern American history to rival Trump's mishandling of the pandemic was President George W. Bush's creation of a war against Iraq on the twin charges that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was developing a nuclear weapons program. Both were false. We still do not know if Bush knew these were lies, or actually believed they were true because he was surrounded by neo-con advisers who assured him they were true. This is not the case with Trump. He knew the truth about the coming pandemic from day one and yet chose to deny its existence and to do virtually nothing to stop it. In my thinking, what Trump did was worse that what Bush had done. Trump knew the suffering, death, and national turmoil that was likely to happen, yet he tried to hide the truth as he refused to make a national plan to mitigate the disease. He left it up to the states and local governments. His motives for doing this are still unclear. He claimed to Woodward he did not want to "panic" the nation. This notion has no credibility considering that we have had nothing but chaos, confusion, and turmoil from his administration for the past three and a half years. With Trump it is a drama a day. Since panic is what he thrives on, his excuse of wanting to prevent panic was and is ludicrous.

Knowing all we know about Trump, his handling of the pandemic should not be surprising, but I still find it shocking and deeply disappointing. We have come to expect our presidents to act in the nation's best interests, or at least try. Trump failed at this spectacularly and he will be forever known in history as the president of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. The greatest and richest country in the history of the world is now laid low by an incredibly tiny organism. It is a national humiliation.

Trump's new tapes will certainly hurt his chances of getting reelected and I suppose Democrats as myself should be glad, but I am not. I grieve for my country. I grieve for the 193,000 Americans who died. I grieve for the families who lost their loved ones. I grieve for the millions who lost their jobs and for those made hungry and homeless. 

Back to the anniversary of this blog, I am sure I have benefited the most from this long venture. If you have found this space useful, I am doubly glad.

What will happen in the next seven years? God only knows. We are now in trying times. Whatever comes our way, we will all face it together, I hope with all the strength and courage we can muster. I expect to keep up this blog as long as I can and readers find it of interest and use. If it helps even a little bit to get us through the crises upon us, it will have been worth it. Thank you reader, for giving me your time and attention all these years. I look forward to more years. Peace. 

Monday, September 7, 2020


Every year my heart is gladdened when the pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana) in my garden reaches its fullest flowering in late summer because 1-its gloriously beautiful blooms are eye-catching, and 2-cooler and drier air is just around the corner. So, fellow southerners, let us rejoice. It is pampas grass time. 

Welcome, blog reader, on the seventh day of September 2020, Labor Day. In America, today marks the unofficial end of summer and the beginning of the last phase of the campaign leading to the general election of 3 November. Election Day will arrive in less than two months.

Like it or not, we are in a unique and historic moment of time in which we are afflicted with layers of crises. First we have the worst public health crisis in a century. The COVID-19 pandemic is running rampant, particularly in America. It has disrupted our daily lives as nothing since the Second World War. Simultaneously, we have the worst economic crisis in America since the Great Depression: mass unemployment, business closings, recession. Moreover, we have mass, sometimes violent, social demonstrations in virtually every city and town as people demand racial justice or "law and order." And, in the midst of all of this, the United States is heading into a monumental political test, the likes of which the nation has not seen since 1968, possibly since the Civil War. It is enough to make even the strongest person wilt in despair, or maybe stay in bed cocooned in covers. We should not and need not do that. Let us take a closer look at some of the storms swirling around us.

PANDEMIC. COVID-19 continues to spread at about the same pace. According to Worldometers, in the past week, 31 August to 7 September, there were 1,899,163 new cases in the world for a total of 27,312,773. This is a 7% rise. As for deaths in the world, there were 92,384 in the week, up 5%. 

The United States continues to be the worst hit country in the world with by far the most cases and deaths with no end in sight. In the last week, there were 285,413 reported new cases, a rising rate of 5%. There were 6,026 deaths in the week, 3% increase. The death total for the U.S. is now 193,253. The actual figure is believed to be much higher. Thus, nearly 1,000 Americans are dying of the disease every day. This is about the same rate as the last few months. 

The southeastern states continue their longterm paths of outpacing the U.S. In South Carolina, there were 6,628 reported new cases in the last week, for a total of 124,952. This is a 6% rise, above the national number. In SC, there were 178 deaths in the week, for a total of 2,887. This is a 7% rise.

Alabama is faring about the same. There, 7,079 new cases were reported, for a total of 132,314. This is a 6% increase. There were 114 new deaths in the week. As of now, 2,276 Alabamians have died of the plague.

Charleston County continues to be a hopeful spot in the dismal numbers. It reported 440 new cases last week, for a total of 14,440. This is a relatively low 3% rise. However, the county continues to be the hardest hit in the state. The county is now reporting 246 deaths, up 11 last week. The spread of the disease in Charleston County is now below the state average as it has been for the past few weeks.

In general, the pandemic is spreading apace in the U.S., particularly in the southeast. It is killing about 1,000 Americans a day. Nearly 200,000 of our compatriots have died of the virus. We can expect 300,000 to be dead by the end of the year. 

LITIGATION. As far as I know, nothing has changed recently in the litigation between the two dioceses. Now that August has passed, perhaps the new month will bring some movement on the three issues we are watching: whether Judge Dickson will grant a stay pending the Church's appeal of his order; whether the SC Court of Appeals will agree to pass the appeal along to the SC Supreme Court; and whether the U.S. Court of Appeals will hold a hearing or go to a written decision.

POLITICAL. The question of the day is, Will President Trump repeat his victory of 2016?

What is the difference between 2016 and 2020? Trump won in 2016 for many reasons, primarily by exploiting the socio-cultural divisions in the country. In 1990, the Cold War ended and the United States lost its external threat that for nearly half a century had forced a certain unity in the country. This unity had been crucial in the development of the great democratic revolution from the 1950's onward as blacks, women, the disabled, the poor, the old, and homosexuals won greater and greater equality and inclusion in the national life. This period saw arguably the largest expansion of human rights in the nation's history. However, this transformation also caused a backlash, mainly from the people who felt most threatened by the reforms, namely the white male power structures which had monopolized national institutions from the start. A counter-revolution developed centered in elements such as the white working class man, white southerners, white evangelical Christians, and the Wall Street oligarchy. Once the forced unity of the Cold War ended, the nation quickly devolved into tribalism stoked by political opportunists. Donald Trump arose to power on white racism, by greatly magnifying the false charge that the first black president, Obama, was illegitimate because he had not been born in the United States. Racism was the ugliest, and most powerful, part of the counter-revolutionary backlash of the post Cold War period. Trump proved just how powerful it was. He used it successfully to divide and conquer.

The schism in South Carolina was part and parcel of the clash between the two tectonic plates of contemporary American history. From the start of the great democratic revolution, the Episcopal Church aligned itself strongly on the side of revolution. It gave equality and inclusion to blacks, women, homosexuals, and the transgendered. The minority counter-revolutionaries within the Church balked at this. When it was clear they had lost the fight over democratic reforms, the reactionaries bolted. Five dioceses voted to leave TEC. The diocese of South Carolina was the last (the diocese did not leave the Episcopal Church, but the majority of the people did). These five, with a lot of help from anti-homosexual rights equatorial African bishops, formed a new denomination that aimed to be the replacement for TEC in the Anglican world. The Anglican Church in North America was explicitly created to keep open homosexuals and women from having equality and inclusion in the church. Thus, the schisms in the Episcopal Church were very much a part of the culture war in contemporary America. The Episcopal Church was on the side of the democratic revolution while the schismatics were on the side of counter-revolution.

Donald Trump was not a political figure. He had never held a public office. He had no certain positions on issues. He was a demagogue who picked up on what he believed to be a winning strategy of championing the racial backlash against the great democratic revolution, the most visible element of which had been the civil rights reforms. By promoting the birther movement against the first black president, he staked out the leadership of the reactionaries in the culture war. By carrying just enough votes in key states, he won in the Electoral College. In short, Trump won election to the presidency in 2016 because of the divisions in the country.

Once in office, Trump constructed a compact with his followers ("base"). He offered them actions on the counter-revolution by rolling back as many socio-cultural reforms as he could manage. In return, he demanded support for autocratic rule. It worked. As reaction set in, Trump built a personal rule disregarding constitutional limits and long established norms of presidential behavior. Thus, two movements came out of Trump's administration, counter-revolution and imperial presidency. More and more, the person, the office and the state combined leading to a crescendo in the Republican National Convention when fireworks spelled out TRUMP over the national mall and the White House.

Just because something worked in 2016 does not necessarily mean it will work in 2020. Times have changed. The mood of the country is strikingly different now than it was four years ago. However, Trump's strategy has not changed. He is running the same playbook as he did last time. 

What is different now is that we have layers of crises burdening the country. In 2016 there was no external threat forcing a unity on the nation. There is today, the coronavirus. Most Americans are united in fear at what the virus will do to them and their loved ones. They are looking to the national leadership for a way to rally the country and defeat the deadly enemy. That leadership, however, is missing in action. Trump has been grossly incompetent at handling the new national threat. Meanwhile, the U.S. is the world's epicenter of the pandemic with by far the most cases and deaths. Trump has utterly failed to lead the nation against its worst health danger in a century. His ineptitude has been costly to America in more ways than one. Most Americans are well aware of his failings and they hold his mishandling of the virus against him. 

Trump's strategy of 2016 is out of sync today. Most of the country is unified by the virus, not divided. His stoking of social and cultural divisions does not seem to be effective beyond his solid base of 40% or so of the electorate. However, Trump appears to be unable to adapt and change strategy. His approach of lessening the fear of the virus is not working; and his retread of divide and conquer is not working. Too, most people know Trump much better this time than they did last. A library of best selling books on Trump has been published revealing in detail this man's character and personality. Some of them are devastating. Moreover, I suspect the entertainment value of putting a "colorful" character in the White House has worn thin. So, I see many reasons to believe Trump's chances of winning this time are less than in 2016. However, we have to bear in mind that Trump does not operate by conventional rules.

Many people in the know say Trump divides the world into two groups, winners and losers. He sees himself as a winner. He will go far to keep from being seen as a loser. His recently reported comments about military service are in line with this. Even if he did not say all the appalling things he is reported to have said about fallen soldiers, he is on record disparaging military service as with John McCain and the Khans. To Trump, they are losers and suckers. 

The chilling fear I have now is that Trump will call out two para-military groups at his disposal to try to cling to power after it is clear he has lost the vote: the federal officers, as border patrol, and the right-wing, pro-Trump self-created military-styled militias, the modern Brown Shirts. We have already seen these two groups in action in Portland and Kenosha. It is possible Trump will use these groups to try to control or overthrow the election. If so, this would be a coup d'état and would force a national crisis unlike anything since the Civil War. No one wants to think about such a thing, but in Trump world nothing is beyond the imagination. Just look at how he staged the Republican National Convention breaking all the rules of the Hatch Act and daring anyone to do anything about it.

So, Trump has given us this moment of political crisis. He is raising two problems with which the voters must wrestle. He is offering to break the back of the great democratic revolution and to transform the presidency into an autocracy. If he gets reelected, he will certainly feel free to do both. That is why this election has the potential of producing the most consequential transformation of American life since the Civil War.

Bottom line---we have less than two months to go before this Battle-of-Gettysburg-election will determine whether America continues down its historic road of democratic republicanism or whether it veers to the right into a fascist dictatorship. I believe this election will determine whether America continues to develop as a multi-cultural, diverse, egalitarian democracy or swings to the restoration of the white male power structures under rule by force. 

Should we worry? Yes. Should we despair? No. As stressful and frightening as all of this is, I think we need to keep the biggest picture in mind. The Bible tells us God created humankind in His/Her image to be God's representatives in the world. We are here for a reason. We have a mission from God. As long as we keep our eyes on this, the troubles of the world will not overwhelm us. Always remember, we are here for the living of this hour. My warmest best wishes to you, dear reader. Peace. 


One more thought. Are people who give their lives in military service for their fellow human beings losers and suckers? When I want to reflect on such a question, my mind always goes back to Andersonville, the site of the notorious Civil War prison. I once lived in nearby Americus, Georgia, and came to know and revere this hallowed ground. 

So, when I want to put things in perspective, I go back to Andersonville and stroll among the 13,000 graves of men who suffered terribly and died miserably far from home. They gave up their lives on a quest to free four million of their fellow human beings from bondage. If that is not honor and valor beyond measure, I do not know what is. These men who gave up their lives so that others might have freedom were anything but losers and suckers.