Saturday, January 30, 2021




REJOICE! 

DIOCESE OF SOUTH CAROLINA ANNOUNCES FIVE CANDIDATES FOR BISHOP



January 30, 2021. This morning, the Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina announced a slate of five candidates for the office of bishop of the diocese. Find the press release about this here .

Interesting to note that only one of the five is local, the Ven. Calhoun Walpole, archdeacon of the diocese. There is another woman, an African American, and two white men. All appear to be highly qualified for this post.

The walkabouts are scheduled for April 12-14. These may be "virtual." 

The election of the new bishop is set for Grace Church Cathedral on May 1, 2021. It too may be "virtual."

This is a beam of bright light in our long, dark night of crises. As everyone knows, the diocese has been shaken to its core by a traumatic schism, through no fault of its own. A group of people in the diocese years ago felt they knew better than the collective wisdom of the mother church. They insisted that open homosexuals and women were not equal children of God worthy of equality and inclusion in the life of the church. Instead, they joined a new denomination explicitly created to keep gays and women out of acceptance and power. Indeed, the bishops of the new church just a few days ago, reaffirmed their narrow stance. They even declared the absurdity that there was no such thing as a "gay Christian."

The Episcopal Church in lower South Carolina survived the assault of the insurrectionists. The Episcopalians from Georgia to North Carolina kept the faith of love for God and for neighbor. They stood against the storm; they stood for human rights when it was the hard thing to do. This is not the first time people have suffered for doing the right thing and it will not be the last.

Today is a moment for Christians everywhere to rejoice, most of all the Episcopalians of eastern South Carolina. A new bishop is on the way.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

 



NOTES,  26 JANUARY 2021



Welcome, blog reader, on Tuesday, January 26, 2021. It is time for our weekly check in on the crises we have been covering. 


PANDEMIC. Consulting our usual source of data on the pandemic, Worldometers, for the week of January 18-25, we find that there were small signs that the rate of spread may be lessening. Numbers of cases and deaths continue to soar, but the pace may be slowing in some ways. 

The number of cases of COVID-19 in the world is now right at one hundred million (99,839,954). This was a 4% weekly rise, a slight dip from the 5% rate of the previous week (Jan. 11-18). In the last month, the pandemic has spread to 20m people, a rate of 25%. As for deaths in the world, the number is now well over two million (2,140,489). Last week 100,000 people died of covid, a rising rate of 5%, the same as the earlier week. In the past month, 368,000 people died of the disease, a 21% rise. The past thirty days have been the worse so far of the pandemic in numbers of new cases and deaths.

In the United States, the pandemic continues to spread rapidly, but at a slowing pace. Last week (Jan. 18-25) there were 1,220,075 new cases of COVID-19, a rising rate of 5%, down from the 7% of the earlier week (Jan. 11-18). This means that 25,702,125 Americans have been infected, or app. 8% of the national population. This makes it comparatively a highly contagious disease. Unfortunately, there are new strains of the virus now circulating that are much more contagious. As for deaths, 22,288 Americans died of COVID-19 effects last week, for a total of 429,490. This is a rising rate of 5%, down slightly from the 6% of the earlier week. In the last month, 90,000 Americans died of the disease, or nearly a quarter of all deaths in the last year. The U.S. is clearly experiencing the worst phase, so far, of the pandemic.

In our local states, the figures are mixed. In South Carolina last week there were 30,141 new cases for a total of 418,325. This was a rising rate of 8%, slightly higher than the 7% of the previous week. In the last month, there were 120,000 new cases reported in SC, a 40% rise. As for deaths in SC, the state reported 310 last week for a total of 6,547, a rate of 5%, down from the 7% of the earlier week. In the past month, the state listed 1,500 deaths, app. 40% rise. It is starkly clear that the past 30 days have been by far the worse of the pandemic, so far, in SC.

In Alabama, the rates are slowing, if slightly. Last week, the state reported 18,572 new cases (as compared with 30,141 in SC), for a total of 441,170, a rising rate of 4%, down from the 5% of the previous week. Last week, the state reported 540 deaths for a total of 6,660, a rising rate of 9%, down from the 15% of the earlier week.

In Charleston County, the numbers may be lightening. Last week, the county reported 1,955 new cases, for a total of 30,997, a rising rate of 7%, down from the 8% of the previous week. As for deaths, the county listed 9 for last week, a total of 361. In the last month, the county listed over 7,000 new cases, about a third increase. 

We should pause for a moment and let scope of this tragedy settle in. 429,490 Americans have died in this pandemic. 6,547 of these were in SC, 6,660 in AL. All of this happened withing one year. The experts are warning us that we are on track to lose several hundred thousand more of our fellow citizens before this nightmare is over. God help us.

Yes, we have vaccines, but no they are not being administered well. The supply system is slow while the delivery is chaotic. In many places, the people who are eligible to get the vaccine cannot do so. The new administration in Washington says it will turn heaven and earth to beat this pandemic. We will see.


LITIGATION. As for SC, nothing new to report. We are awaiting the breakaway contingent's brief to the SC supreme court. Apparently this will appear next month. The Episcopal diocese of SC is appealing the outrageous decision of Judge Dickson that purported to overturn the SCSC decision of 2017 concerning the schism. Also next month we are likely to learn if the U.S. Supreme Court will take the case from Fort Worth TX. The Episcopal Church is asking the supremes to grant cert, that is, to take an appeal of the case. Last year, the TX supreme court ruled entirely in favor of the entity that left the Episcopal Church and claimed to retain all on the way out. So, as usual, we are just waiting in camp between battles of the legal war that seems to be never ending. I think we are all feeling battle fatigue.


POLITICAL. There is good news and there is bad news. The good news is that democracy prevailed in America. This validates the Great Democratic Revolution of the past half century. The American people reaffirmed their democratic principles and rejected the anti-democratic challenge from the Trumpistas. The bad news is that a large, angry, and irreconcilable (at least so far) minority of Americans who are ready to install an anti-democratic regime, even with violence. This is the huge danger lurking over America. More than half of members of the Republican Party continue to believe the lie that Trump really won the election and the Democrats stole it by rigging the vote. Also, the same number think it is OK for a mob to attack the Capitol and overthrow the constitutional government. The Republicans in the House of Representatives and the Senate are reflecting this shocking sentiment in their party. They have shown absolutely no intention of cooperating with an administration that most of their voters think is illegitimate. The Republicans in Congress have signaled they will do what they can to obstruct the new administration. 

In two weeks, the former president, Donald Trump, will be put on trial in the Senate. This is historic and unprecedented because what he did was historic and unprecedented. No president of the United States has ever incited a mob to overthrow the government. This brings us to an enormously important moment in American history. Trump must be held accountable for the political crime with which he is charged (inciting an insurrection against the United States). He must be convicted. If he is acquitted, it will be a signal that any president in the future can attempt a coup d'état and if it fails, so what? There will be no consequences. If Trump is acquitted, the future of the American constitutional government is in grave peril. It is doubtful that it will survive for very much longer. Under certain leadership and organization, any president in the future could seize power, suspend the constitution, and make a fascist regime. Right now, he or she would have about 40% of the people supporting such a move. 

The grave nature of this moment is the product of our American failure to come to terms with our racism. Our fragile nation-state is on the verge of coming apart at the seam of racial division. The violent mob that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 was spurred overwhelmingly by white supremacy. They wanted to preserve, even by death, what they see as a white man's country. They came a lot closer to succeeding than we originally believed. Next time, they may prevail.

In my view, the stakes are clear. It is not at all difficult to see what is happening in the U.S. now. America will continue to develop as a democratic society or it will veer to an anti-democratic, fascist state. For a democratic society, we must hold all people to be equal and govern by majority rule. This means we must defeat the white supremacists and their fellow anti-democratic travelers. It is as simple as that. For starters, we must convict Trump of a crime against America. This was the worst act any president has ever made. If we tolerate this, we will not keep our constitutional democracy.

What are the chances for Trump's conviction? Not strong. Trump still has a lot of power over his fans. Recall that he got 47% of the popular vote. He has a huge and highly devoted following. At this moment, it is doubtful that enough of the Republican senators have the courage to do the right thing. Tom Rice of South Carolina did the right thing. The senators could do it too. However, today it looks as if courage is in very short supply among Republican senators.


The year 2021 was supposed to be better. We were so relieved that we survived 2020. I still want to believe that things will be better, that the pandemic will end, that the courts will finally come to reason in the church cases, that our fragile democratic republic will survive. I want desperately to believe, and so I will keep my face in the direction of the light. We still have a long and hard way to go in our dark tunnel. So, I think it important to keep reminding ourselves that we are here for a reason, and that is to be God's people in this hour in time. We are all in this together. We are here for the living of this moment, as challenging as it may be. Peace.   

Monday, January 25, 2021

 



NOTE ON TEXAS CASE AT SCOTUS



Several months ago, the Episcopal Church petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for cert in its appeal of the Texas Supreme Court decision that found all in favor of the breakaway diocese of Fort Worth. On January 6, 2021, SCOTUS put TEC's request for cert on its docket for Conference of January 22. This morning, SCOTUS released all of its decisions from the Conference of the 22nd. Absent in the release was any mention of the church case from Texas. Apparently, in their meeting on the 22nd, the justices deferred a decision on TEC's request for cert. The next scheduled Conference is February 19. If the justices take up the matter then, the news of a decision would be released on Monday, February 22.

SCOTUS will either deny or grant cert. If they deny, the Texas Supreme Court stands as the final law. If they grant, SCOTUS will hear the case and either affirm or replace the Texas Supreme Court decision. This would be done probably by July of this year.

For more information, see Scotusblog .

Sunday, January 24, 2021




ACNA BISHOPS CONDEMN HOMOSEXUALITY, AGAIN



Apparently, the schismatics in the Anglican Church in North America are having some sort of internal dissension concerning their group's interface with homosexuality. A few days ago, the ACNA bishops felt it necessary to issue a long, detailed letter condemning homosexuality, again. One would think they had already made this perfectly clear when the new denomination was set up in 2010. The ACNA was created to keep active homosexuals from acceptance and women from equality in the life of the church, as opposed to what had happened in the Episcopal Church which had given full inclusion and equality to homosexuals and women.

The ACNA bishops declared, again, that homosexuality is a "disorder:" While same-sex attraction is one manifest type of disordered affection..." They went on to pronounce adultery and divorce as other kinds of disorder, but the letter says nothing more about these. Apparently, all "disorders" are not equal in ACNA. (BTW, retired Ugandan archbishop Stanley Ntagali, a prime leader in the fight against TEC and the "sin" of homosexuality in the Anglican Communion, just admitted adultery.)  Moreover, the bishops rejected the idea that homosexuality is an inborn, lifetime reality, instead, insisting that one's sexual orientation is changeable. Of course, the bishops, again, condemned same-sex marriage as against scripture. Curiously enough, the longest section of the letter insists that the term "gay Christian" not be used, instead "Christians who experience same-sex attraction," again, implying that homosexuality is changeable. Finally, the bishops declared that their view to be that of "biblical orthodoxy." There was really nothing new here, so one can only wonder why the bishops felt it necessary to issue this statement.

One should be cautious about declaring certain social mores to be biblical orthodoxy. Our understandings of social relationships change just as our understandings of right and wrong human behavior evolve over time. For instance, between 1619 and 1865, practically every southern preacher extolled the biblical orthodoxy of slavery. In fact, the Bible is indeed replete with references recognizing slavery. One can make a much stronger case that the Bible defends slavery than that it condemns homosexuality. There is only a handful of references to homosexuality in the entire Bible and all of them are controversial when placed in context. Yet, no one in his or her right mind today would defend slavery as biblical orthodoxy. Our understanding of slavery and of morality have changed a great deal in the last century and a half since the Civil War. And too, our understandings of homosexuality have changed drastically in the past half-century. What may be seen as biblical orthodox today may not be seen the same way over time. Indeed, Christianity, while based on certain fundamental truths of the Gospels, is an evolving religion, interpreting and reinterpreting the basics. The Christianity of today is a far cry from that of the First Century.

It is helpful to keep the ACNA in the context of the great contemporary culture war of which it is a definite expression. The schism in South Carolina, and the birth of ACNA, were sparked by the Episcopal Church's embrace of open homosexuals. As we all know, the direct cause of the SC schism in 2012 was TEC's move to bless same-sex unions. The people who made the schism, and the ACNA, were reacting against the great democratic revolution that swept America, and the Episcopal Church in the second half of the Twentieth Century and the first part of the Twenty-First Century. In that period, Americans' understanding of homosexuality went from mental illness to acceptability and inclusion. The people who made the schism, and ACNA, wanted to keep the pre-revolutionary culture where power rested among the heterosexual white males. And so, the schismatics are resolved to keep homosexuals and women from inclusion and power in the church. Hence, last week's reiteration of their condemnation of homosexuality. What we do not know is why they felt they had to do this at this time. Is there a crack in ACNA's solid wall of homophobia that the bishops are trying to patch up?

I think we have to be very careful about having the church declare human arrangements as unchangeably "orthodox." Historically, such rigidity has cost the church dearly. For instance, in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, the church taught a definite physical description of the universe derived from religious understandings of the Middle Ages. As science developed and proved that view to be wrong, it was science that developed as the great purveyor of knowledge about nature. The church's credibility suffered, and religion's role in society has declined ever since. For a great many people, science and technology now define reality.

It is clear that the anti-revolutionary religionists are fighting hard to retain the traditional social structures of the pre-revolutionary period. They are the counter-revolutionaries in the great democratic revolution. This has taken a very definite turn in American politics. Only a couple of weeks ago, the Rev. Franklin Graham declared that the Republican members of the House of Representatives who voted in favor of President Trump's impeachment were Judases, as if Trump were the Christ figure. Indeed, some 80% of white "evangelical Christians" voted for Trump, not once, but twice. They were an essential base of Trump's support. Why? Because they see in him a savior figure who would roll back the social reforms of the great democratic revolution and keep what they see as biblical orthodoxy. In the same way, the schismatics in South Carolina, and the ACNA, are fighting hard to keep their understanding of orthodoxy. Time and the tide of history are against them but that does not stop them from trying to stop the clock.

Meanwhile, all of us should bear in mind one of the fundamental truths of the Gospels, the great commandments, love God and love neighbor. Love is the common quality that lifts us beyond ourselves into right relationships with God and our fellow human beings, all of whom were made in God's image. 

Monday, January 18, 2021




NOTES,  18 JANUARY 2021



Welcome, blog reader on Monday, January 18, 2021. It is Martin Luther King Day, a moment of special importance for us southerners. Every time I go through the Black Belt of Alabama, and cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge, I am flooded with memories of our painful past but ever so grateful for the heroes, as Blessed Jonathan Daniels, who sacrificed all to diminish the evil of racism among us. This war is not over, not by a long way, as the events of 6 January jarringly reminded us. Nevertheless, now it is time for our weekly check-in on the crises at hand. First, the pandemic.


PANDEMIC. The plague of COVID-19 is ever worsening. Experts predict it will continue to worsen for another couple of months at least. 

According to our usual source, Worldometers, we are approaching one hundred million cases in the world. As of this morning it is listing 95,553,772, a rise of 5,000,000 in the past week. This means the disease spread by 10% in just the past two weeks, 20% since Christmas. Deaths in the world are still running at 5% increase. 96,528 people in the world died in the plague last week for a total of 2,041,239. Thus, more than two million people died in the past year of this one disease. 

America continues to be the epicenter of the pandemic as it has been all along. This is a national shame and disgrace for the richest and supposedly most technologically advanced society in the world. Last week, the U.S. reported 1,564,716 new cases for a total of 24,482,050. In just the last two weeks, the disease has spread by 15%, 50% in the last month. Deaths in America are equally shocking. The number now stands over 400,000 (407,202). 23,927 Americans died of the plague last week, 80,000 in the past month. We have all seen the sorrowful pictures of overflowing hospitals and make-shift morgues. Experts say this situation will continue and worsen. We can expect the death number to hit half a million in the next month. At this rate, this plague is on track to match or exceed the Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918-19 when 600,000 Americans died.

The figures for our local states are no more reassuring. In South Carolina, the rate of the spread has decreased but the rate of deaths has increased. Last week, SC reported 23,659 new cases, for a total of 388,184, a rising rate of 7%, below the 12% of the earlier week. However, in the last month, the disease has spread by 50% in SC. Deaths continue to climb. Last week, 426 South Carolinians died of covid, up 7%, for a total of 6,237. In the last months, deaths in SC have climbed by 30%.

Charleston County continues to reporting mounting numbers. Last week, it listed 2,075 new cases, a rising rate of 8%, for a total of 29,042. Six months ago, this number was what the entire state of SC reported. In just the last month, cases have grown by 30%. As for deaths, the county reported 17 last week, for a total of 352. This is a steadily rising death rate of 5%. 

Alabama is faring no better. It reported 20,598 new cases, a rising rate of 5%, for a total of 422,598. This means that nearly 10% of the state has contracted the coronavirus. In the last month, 100,000 Alabamians have been hit with the virus, a 30% increase. The death rate is also alarming. Last week, a staggering 786 people in Alabama died in the plague, for a total of 6,120. In the last months, deaths from the coronavirus have nearly doubled in Alabama. Clearly, the pandemic is racing out of control in our southern states, as in practically the rest of the U.S.

The vaccines have been available for a month now and the distribution has been mixed, to say the least. Since there is no national plan, the local states and counties have been on their own to administer the vaccine. I would describe my local area as controlled chaos. It is being offered to everyone over 75 but with no orderly process. Yet, only about 10% of people over 75 have been able to get vaccinated. I know first hand, the state of Mississippi is even worse. There, the local officials offered it to everyone over 65, first come first serve. Pandemonium was quickly followed by exhaustion of the supply. The state is awaiting new shipments. Phone lines and computer systems have crashed everywhere as people desperately seek guidance on how to get the vaccine. Again, we see national shame in our response to the pandemic. 

It is clear we are in the depths of this pandemic. The problem is we do not know how much deeper the depth will get before the the plague starts to abate. I fear we still have months to go and countless more cases and deaths to endure. May God help us in our hour of emergency. 


LITIGATION. Out of sight for some time now is the litigation in the schism in South Carolina. Actually, matters are on hold as they have been for more than two months. Right now we are awaiting the responding brief to the SCSC of the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina in the Episcopal Diocese's appeal of Judge Dickson's ruling. To my knowledge ADSC has not filed its brief. I can only assume they have obtained time extensions. The Episcopal Diocese filed its brief more than two months ago (Nov. 12). Typically, the other side has 30 days to respond. ADSC got one extension so I assume they got another. If it were another 30 day extension, this would put a due date of Feb. 12. Remember that ADSC's tactic for the last three and a half years has been deny and delay, so what is happening now is no surprise. ADSC lost in both state and federal court. They denied the state loss and threw up every roadblock possible to delay the outcome. They even got a friendly local judge to go along with them to deny the state supreme court ruling. The federal court is also on hold as the appeals court granted a stay pending a decision of the SC supreme court. So, we are waiting, waiting. After eight years of legal warfare, we should be used to this by now.


POLITICAL. I am waiting to exhale. We have two more days to go. Apparently, President Trump will not try some cataclysmic Wagnerian flaming twilight of the gods. My guess is he will issue a flurry of pardons to everyone around him, maybe to the insurrections of Jan. 6, and maybe to himself. Who knows. Nothing should surprise us after four years. 

Joe Biden is to be sworn in as the new president on Wednesday at 12 noon. I will be glued to my TV. A new era will begin. However, we still have to deal with the awful remains of the Trump tornado. For starters, the Senate will have to conduct a trial of Trump since he has been impeached by the House. It is an open question of whether he will be convicted. 17 Republican Senators would have to join the 50 Democrats, a tall order. 

At the same time, and perhaps even more importantly, the nation must confront white supremacy. We must prosecute the insurrectionists of Jan. 6. We must subject domestic terrorist groups to legal scrutiny. This will be a major problem for the country, but one that must be handled.


Finally, let us all pray for our country. We are in a bad place, the worst political and health crises in memory, I would argue since the Civil War. The nation is badly and dangerously divided. The very structure and integrity of our constitutional, democratic republic is at stake. This is not hyperbole. As always, keep in mind we were put here for the living of this hour. It is our mission and our faith is our calling. Peace.     

Saturday, January 16, 2021




THE MOST DANGEROUS FOUR DAYS



God help us to make it through the next four days in one piece. Joe Biden will become the new president at 12:00 p.m. on Wednesday, 20 January 2021. This means Donald Trump has four days left as the most powerful man in the world. By all news reports, he is increasingly delusional and unhinged as his time runs out. He is down to a few dubious advisers as the My Pillow guy, Mike Lindell and Steve Bannon. Lindell went to see Trump yesterday carrying a note to declare martial law. With Trump anything is possible. Nothing he will do in the next four days should surprise us. He could indeed declare marital law, cancel the inauguration and keep himself in power by force. He could also dispatch nuclear weapons. He could attack another country and start a war. Who knows? What we do know is that his personality cannot accept that he lost the election. Apparently, he really believes he won and that the Democrats conspired to steal the election from him. With this sort of mindset, anything is possible.

If Trump does try anything dire or extra-constitutional, we, the American people have to stop him.

Friday, January 15, 2021




R.I.P, JOANNE ROGERS (1928-2021)






Joanne Rogers, Mrs. Fred Rogers, has died at the age of 92. She was a concert pianist, an accomplished artist in her own right, but will be forever remembered as the life spouse of Mr. Rogers. On top of all our other woes, this was not news we wanted to hear now. We loved Mr. Rogers, and Mrs. Rogers too. We should all thank God they walked among us and showed us how to be our best selves at all times.

Find an article about her death here .





FOUR YEARS



A little more than four years ago I posted the following piece on this blog. I wrote it on the day after Donald Trump had been elected president of the United States. I wondered at the time if I were exaggerating the danger of Trump. Perhaps, I thought in the back of my mind, hoping for the best, that Trump would learn, would adjust to the high demands of the office the people had entrusted to him. I am here today to admit I was wrong to be hopeful.

The Trump presidency turned out to be worse than I could have imagined in 2016. The damage he and his enablers have done to our constitutional, democratic republic is wide and deep. After four years of Trump, America lies severely wounded. I want to believe we will recover from our wounds but I know it will be long and hard. One has only to turn on the news and look at the pictures of Washington D.C. today to understand the gravity of the moment. 20,000 National Guard troops are encamped to keep counter-revolutionary mobs from disrupting the legal and legitimate government.

After next Wednesday, there will be time for a postmortem on the Trump years. I am sure a library of books will soon be published telling us all about it. We do not need anyone to tell us the worst of what happened. It is staring us in the face. President Trump incited a violent mob to overthrow the constitutional government. It was all driven by a big lie that he himself perpetrated. No president in American history had ever tried to such a thing. I could not have imagined four years ago that any president would do that. 

And so, with five days to go, this student of history begins his reflections on the Trump presidency. I need to take some time because I am still traumatized by the events of 6 January. The good news is that the American people rejected the anti-democratic president and his intimidated party, in the mid-terms and in the general. The constitutional, democratic republic survived its biggest threat since the Civil War. The bad news is that nearly half the country supported (and still supports) an attempt to destroy our constitutional, democratic republic. A large and powerful minority has shown it is willing to use violence to defeat democracy and keep a minority, white supremacist regime in power. This is the terrible, lurking danger of the moment. So, even though Trump will leave office in a few days, the dark legacy of Trumpism will haunt us for a long time to come.
 
____________________________________________


originally posted on November 9, 2016: 







 
 
DESCENT INTO DARKNESS
 
 
 
 
To quote Sir Winston Churchill about Nazi Germany, We are in the presence of a disaster of the first magnitude. The United States of America has reached a new low; and we did it to ourselves. We have no one else to blame. We have betrayed our democratic-republican values. We have entrusted our precious government to an egomaniacal and valueless strong-man who now has no check, let alone bounds. He won by dividing people against each other and bringing out their worst instincts. He has no understanding of American history or democratic values. If he carries out his campaign promises he will discard the Constitution of the United States. After 240 years, we have met the enemy and he is us.
 
How did we get here? That will be a question thrown around for years to come. I offer my take:
 
Yesterday's election was the revenge of the Angry White Man. Trump channeled the AWM brilliantly. The AWM got back at everyone and everything he blames for his troubles: foreigners, women, blacks, corporations, the media, the Washington government, and the traditional political parties. The AWM now expects Trump to restore the world as it was in the 1950's when there were plenty of good paying factory jobs and blacks, women, Hispanics, and homosexuals knew their "place" and stayed there. This is in fact an illusion but the AWM does not know this. He will learn it when the dictator he has put in power fails to produce this return to the AWM Eden. Reality will eventually set in, but God only knows what will happen between now and then. I was wrong about my pre-election predictions about the AWM. He was angrier and more numerous than I had imagined.
 
To put this in the bigger picture of history, the AWM is a large part of a counter-revolution going on in the late Twentieth and early Twenty-First Centuries. The revolution occurred in the Twentieth Century when the democratic-republican system won WWI and discarded monarchism, pulled the world out of the Great Depression, crushed Fascism-Nazism-Militarism in WWII, and witnessed the disintegration of Soviet Communism in the 1980's. In the second half of the Twentieth Century, this democratic revolution carried out a vast reform movement in America to bring liberty, equality, and justice to social groups long marginalized and maligned: African Americans, women, the disabled, the impoverished, the elderly, Hispanics, homosexuals. The great democratic revolution of the Twentieth Century was one of the most dramatic transformative events of world history. However, every great revolution of history has an inevitable backlash, a counter-revolution led by people who felt threatened and displaced by the revolution. In America, that counter-revolution came from the AWM. Donald Trump simply tapped into this and did so spectacularly.
 
America has decided to move to an authoritarian government. The question now is how far this anti-democratic counter-revolution will go before it too runs its course and is overcome by the overall tide of history. Trump will have no limit on his power. He has a one-party government in a Congress that is completely controlled by a cowed Republican Party. The Democratic Party has been shut out of power. There will be no limit on what the dictator can do. If he follows his campaign promises, he will deport millions of people, throw his opponent in prison, and shut down the free press. The Bill of Rights will be assigned to the rubbish pile. An economic depression will devolve.
 
There is no way to sugar-coat this disaster. This is the darkest day in American history in my lifetime. However, we should not get carried away by the numbing shock of it all. This is a disaster but not a catastrophe, at least not yet. We Americans have survived a great deal in 240 years. We can weather this too if we wish. We survived the Civil War. 
 
We are now moving into a great unknown. The people have made a decision to hand over power to an unpredictable and loose cannon. God only knows where we go from here. Even though my faith in the wisdom of the common man and woman has been shaken, it has not been destroyed. We as a nation are better than this. In time, I believe we will listen to the better angels of our nature and right the wrong we have done. The disturbing thing now is that we do not know the terrible events that will occur between now and then. 
 
I have faith that democratic republicanism will survive. The values and principles on which this country was founded and has thrived for these two centuries are too deeply embedded in our national psyche to be discarded now. The great democratic revolution of modern history will go on. History is progress, but not one in a straight line. It moves in fits and starts. This is a setback but not an end.

What does Trump's election mean for the schism in South Carolina? Trump and the Republican-controlled Senate will get to make a majority on the U.S. Supreme Court. There is already one vacancy to fill that will break the present 4-4 conservative-liberal split on the Court; and there will probably be several other vacancies in the next few years. A solid conservative majority on the Supreme Court could mean that the Court will reject the claims of the Episcopal Church over the dioceses. It may well be that the long delay in a written decision of the South Carolina Supreme Court comes from the fact that the justices know their decision is likely to be appealed to SCOTUS and their arguments will be scrutinized carefully by the high court. Thus, Trump's victory could very possibly mean the defeat of the Episcopal Church before the U.S. Supreme Court and the ultimate failure of its legal claims of sovereignty over the dioceses. 

Sometimes one pays a heavy price for doing the morally and ethically right thing. Our nation will now pay a price for righting the wrongs of our society just as the Episcopal Church is paying a price by losing five dioceses. But would we have wanted it otherwise? Would we have wanted to do the wrong thing just to keep short-term peace and unity? I think not. In the end, the right will prevail because it is right. That is the most fundamental of all values of American democracy and Christianity. This is just as true now as it was yesterday.  

Thursday, January 14, 2021

 



TOM RICE OF SOUTH CAROLINA,

A PROFILE IN COURAGE




Tom Rice is the conservative Republican member of the House of Representatives representing one of the most conservative parts of one of the most conservative states in America. His district includes Myrtle Beach and Florence (the Grand Strand, PeeDee). Last November, Trump carried his district by 19 points. On Jan. 6, Rice joined most Republicans in the House and voted to reject the Electoral College returns from Arizona and Pennsylvania. Yesterday, Rice reversed himself to do the right thing against all odds. 

He was one of ten Republicans who voted for the Article of Impeachment against President Trump. The charge was incitement of insurrection against the United States. Reportedly, Rice did so as a surprise to everyone else, including his staff. Why did he do it? Word is, he was repelled by the president's actions while the mob insurrection was occurring. Trump stayed in the White House watching the violent attack occurring and saying nothing for hours. Every Congressperson and even his Vice President were in mortal peril as the crazed mob rampaged through the Capitol. Apparently, this was too much for a man of conscience. He suddenly crossed the aisle to vote that the president should be charged with high crimes and misdemeanors against the United States. Rice was the only Republican from the south to vote for impeachment.  This could only have come from deep in his heart.

One can bet Rice has received death threats against himself and his family. No doubt his life is in danger. He may well have ended his political career. He will be up for reelection in two years. No doubt he will have primary opposition supported by the far right who will be out for his scalp. 

Those Americans, in South Carolina and elsewhere, who want to protect and preserve the constitutional, democratic republic should say a word of gratitude to Tom Rice, a rare profile in courage, an unlikely light who shone bright in one of the darkest days of American history. 

Tom Rice, man of South Carolina, will forever be enrolled in the book of the great American profiles in courage.

Find an article about Rice's vote on impeachment here .

Wednesday, January 13, 2021




AN HISTORIC DAY

PRESIDENT TRUMP IMPEACHED, AGAIN



History will be made today, Wednesday, January 13, 2021. The U.S. House of Representatives is set to pass an Article of Impeachment against President Donald Trump. He will become the first president to be impeached twice.

The House is set to convene at 9:00 a.m., to have discussion, and to vote on the bill of impeachment. It is all but certain to pass with practically all, if not all, of the Democrats and some of the Republicans. 

The charge in the bill is "Incitement of Insurrection." On Wednesday, 6 January 2021, President Trump harangued a mob in Washington urging them to march on the Capitol where the Congress was meeting to certify the legal and legitimate election of Joe Biden as the next president. Trump railed that he had won the recent election and that it had been stolen from him. The mob stormed the Capitol killing one policeman, injuring 50 others, and threatening the lives of the Vice President, the Senators, and the Representatives in the building. For a long time Trump did nothing about the mob action except stay in the White House and watch on television. Finally, he told the lawless mob he loved them.

On yesterday, 12 January, the House passed a bill calling on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the Twenty-Fifth Amendment. It was approved 223-205. One Republican joined the Democrats. Under the bill, Pence would call the cabinet to remove Trump from office and assume the office of president himself. Pence declared that he would not invoke the Amendment.

The most interesting aspect of today's events will be the words and deeds of the Republican Representatives and Senators. They will have to decide whether to defend the indefensible or side with the Democrats against Trump. On yesterday, some media outlets carried a story that Mitch McConnell, Republican majority leader in the Senate, said that Trump committed an impeachable offense and was leaning toward supporting Trump's conviction in the Senate trial. If this story is correct, it would be a major shift of the political stage. However, there is no indication that McConnell has changed his mind about convening the Senate before January 19, the last whole day of Trump's term. If McConnell were truly in favor of removal, he would call the Senate into session immediately.

Should Trump be impeached and removed from office? Yes. He incited a mob to attack the constituted government in order to overthrow a legal and legitimate election and keep himself in power. We all know what happened on the 6th. If this act of a president is not impeachable, nothing is. This kind of behavior of a president cannot be tolerated. If it is, it will bring the end of the American constitutional government and democracy. It is as simple as that. The people who promoted and participated in the attempted coup d'état of January 6, 2021, must be prosecuted under the full extent of the law, and that begins with Donald Trump.


I will return with comments as events unfold today.

_______________________________


UPDATE. 11:30 a.m. CST. The procedural votes are over. The House has moved to two hours of debate over the proposed Article of Impeachment. The Democrats, led by Jerry Nadler will control one hour and the Republicans, led by Jim Jordan, will control the other hour of debate. Afterwards, the House will vote to approve or reject the proposed Article of Impeachment. Speaker Nancy Pelosi is addressing the House first.

_______________________________


2:55 p.m. Debate concluded. Voting begins.

The Democrats were united and focused while the Republicans were all over the place in the debate today. This is a reversal of the usual process in Congress.

The most surprising remark of the day was from Kevin McCarthy, the Republican Minority Leader. He said Trump was responsible for the mob action on the 6th and that he should be censured. He also declared that Antifa had no part in the mob attack. In fact, the Republicans dropped the Antifa fiction today.

Most of the other Republicans reiterated various talking points:  --procedure is unconstitutional, --not enough time, --Democrats supported mob violence last year in the BLM demonstrations, --Trump did not incite the mob, he called for peaceful demonstrations, --the mob violence was only from the "fringe" groups, --we must set this aside for the sake of "unity."

Two people dominated the day, Lincoln and Liz Cheney. In fact, Lincoln's name was brought up over and over by both sides. Cheney was quoted by the Dems because of her demand for Trump's impeachment.

Return at conclusion of voting.

_____________________________

3:35 p.m. PRESIDENT TRUMP IMPEACHED.

The vote in the House of Representatives was 232 for and 197 against. All Democrats voted for. 10 Republicans voted for.

The Article of Impeachment will be sent to the Senate. The latest word is that the Majority Leader, McConnell, will not reconvene the Senate until Jan. 19. Thus, President Trump will not be removed from office. The trial in the Senate can proceed in the new Senate after Biden becomes president on the 20th. One reason for proceeding after Trump leaves office is that the impeachment includes the provision that Trump would be banned for life from any political office.

Thus, history was made today. Donald Trump will go down in history as the only president to be impeached twice. Moreover, he is the only president ever charged with inciting insurrection against the United States.

In the contest for worst president in American history, we have a winner, hands down.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021




NOTES,  12 JANUARY 2021




Welcome, blog reader, on Tuesday, January 12, 2021. The national political crisis is worsening by the hour. The President of the United States, who incited a mob to overthrow the constitutional government, has refused to resign. The Vice President has refused to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove the president from office. The House is Representatives is set to pass tomorrow an article of Impeachment asking the Senate to remove President Trump from office because of the "high crime and misdemeanor" of incitement of insurrection against the United States of America. The Republican majority leader in the Senate is refusing to reconvene the Senate until the last whole day of Trump's term thereby removing any possibility President Trump can be removed from office. The Republican party continues to protect a president who is a clear and present danger to the nation. This is more than a national shame and disgrace, it is one of the two major political parties being complicit in the crime against America. The Republican party will be forever stained by this treachery against our constitutional democracy. My guess of why Republicans are doing this is that after all that has happened, they are still bullied by Trump and afraid of his "base" on election day.

Who were the people in the mob last Wednesday who carried out a violent assault on the Capitol? We know they were almost all white, and included affluent as well as middle class people. However, the bulk of the mob was "The Angry White Working Class Man." On Nov. 1, 2018, on the eve of the mid-term elections, I posted a piece discussing this subject in an effort to understand why TAWWCM is angry and willing to fight for this demagogue. I think it may be enlightening to reexamine this question in light of last week's attempted coup which was driven primarily by white working class people. 

Donald Trump may be a sociopath but he is no fool. He understood innately how to gain power. It worked. He combined economic conservatives and cultural conservatives to rise up against the great democratic movement of the late 20th and early 21st centuries: the traditional Republican core, big money (Wall Street, corporations, the very wealthy) and white working men, white evangelicals, and white southerners. The great recipients of this coalition were the very rich. He gave them a huge tax reduction that led to a colossal transfer of wealth to the top 1%. This shifted the tax burden down to lower classes. To the cultural conservatives he threw bones such as "the wall" which is a charade. In fact, he led white lower class people to act against their own self interest in order to pour more money into the pockets of the very wealthy. Yet, they still do not get it. This is what I cannot understand. So many Republicans are still defending the pretend wizard who has been revealed behind the curtain. I have relatives and friends who are still defending Trump. I will keep talking with them to try to understand their thinking. 

Meanwhile, I am re-posting my Nov. 1, 2018 article on the white working class man. Perhaps it will help us get a little clearer picture of why the mob acted as it did last Wednesday. 
_______________________________________


Originally posted on Nov. 1, 2018:    



WHY IS THE ANGRY WHITE
WORKING CLASS MAN ANGRY?




Why is The Angry White Working Class Man (TAWWCM) angry? This is a question I have been asking myself a long time now. After research and thought, I will share with you my view of this, for what it is worth:

America is now engaged in a great culture war. The war has been going on for several decades and is getting ever more violent. Generally speaking, one side of the war wants to expand democratic rights of equality and inclusion in society while the other side wants to roll back rights. After the Second World War, America went through its Great Democratic Revolution in which the nation extended power to social elements that had long been kept out of power, particularly African Americans, women, the old, the poor, the disabled, homosexuals, and transgendered. In the life cycle of great political revolutions of modern history, this is called the "radical" phase of revolution. The radical phase always produces a backlash from people who oppose the reforms for one reason or another. The period of backlash is called the "reactionary" phase because the opponents are reacting negatively against the changes. We are now in the reactionary phase of the Great Democratic Revolution. Eventually, the life-cycle ends in a sort of settlement between the radicals and the reactionaries that brings an end to the revolution.

The schism of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina is part of the culture war. The diocesan leaders objected to the Church's reforms enacting equality for and inclusion particularly for gays but also for women and transgendered. When TEC adopted the blessing of same-sex unions in 2012, the DSC leadership declared the independence of the diocese from TEC. Later, they joined the Anglican Church in North America, a new denomination explicitly set up to institutionalize male power.

What brings up the culture war anew is the impending national election, The vote on Tuesday, November 6, will be very much defined by the culture war.

The pro, or "radical," side of this war is readily apparent. They are the people who most benefited from the reforms, particularly African Americans, women, and gays. But, who are the people on the other side? Who are the "antis," or "reactionaries"? They are the people most opposed to the democratic reforms. The core of this group is TAWWCM.

This leads us back to the original question. Why is he angry? For an answer, we have to go back into history. We have to consider the traditional understanding of masculinity in American culture. Society had a definite concept of masculinity from the start to about 1960. The masculine man was to be strong, confident, assertive, fearless, and dominant. This is now what we commonly call the Alpha Male. The historic American man endured danger to get to America, tamed the wild wilderness, fought wars heroically, particularly the Civil War, conquered the west, subdued the "savage" Indians, and built the railroads. By the early 1900s, he was personified by Teddy Roosevelt, the quintessential rugged individualist. In the First World War, he was the Doughboy who punched out Kaiser Bill. The Great Depression of the 1930s threw him back on his heels but not for long. He was soon called to his greatest challenge ever, fighting two wars at the same time against powerful enemies. World War II brought to the height the traditional view of masculinity, the popular imagination perhaps best represented by John Wayne.

As a reward for this great display of masculinity, the U.S. government rewarded him with the G.I. Bill in 1944 (find here ). This allowed millions of returning veterans to go to college and to start businesses. This was one of the greatest and most consequential laws ever adopted in the U.S. Thus, from 1945 to 1960, the American man, with his traditional understanding of masculinity, enjoyed a golden age. By this point, the Man believed he had a definite role to play, and this was the way society was supposed to be. In popular culture, masculinity was defined by the likes of "Father Knows Best" on TV and the numerous cowboy heroes at the movies. Davy Crockett, the essential frontiersman, was all the rage.

As  much as the white working class man wanted this world to last, it was not to be. In fact, sweeping societal changes affecting the races began to appear soon after WWII: integration of the army, integration of the schools, civil rights and voting rights acts in the 1960s. These led to the incorporation of blacks into public life, such as good jobs. Societal norms for women changed dramatically. In 1960 they got "the pill," In 1973 they got Roe v. Wade. These gave women control over their own bodies for the first time in history. Men lost "control" over women. As for gays, society gradually extended rights and inclusion to them. This was capped by legalization of same-sex marriage by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015. Society gradually removed moral judgment from homosexual activity.

While men's traditional understanding of masculinity was under assault all around by societal changes, it was also being threatened by economic developments. White working class men depended on good-paying manufacturing jobs. In 1947, one in three workers had a substantial manufacturing job with which they could support a family well. Today, only one in eight has such a job (see here ). In the half-century after WWII, the American economy trended from manufacturing to service. The manufacturing work that did remain increasingly went to robots. Thus, the working man was gradually displaced from economic security. Traditional masculinity required a man to provide well for his family. Added to this was a rising fear that immigrants were flooding into the country to take good jobs away from working class whites.

Thus, two uncontrollable factors collided at once to challenge the traditional societal understanding of masculinity, equality of social elements long under his "control," and the disappearance of his economic security. At the same time, a third factor entered, the military defeat in the Vietnam War. Traditional masculinity required mastery of the enemy. Unable to control the enemy, the U.S. simply left Vietnam to its own fate, the first such case in American history. This was another crushing blow to the old understanding of masculinity in America. 

By the 1970s, things had changed drastically for the American working class man. He had lost control over social elements, lost good manufacturing jobs, and lost a war. This was a crushing, even devastating blow to his understanding of  his masculinity, what it meant to be a man in American life. He became disoriented, frightened, even desperate. Many men wanted to lash out against their real or perceived enemies. This was what real men did. When confronted by challenges they responded with force and dominance. They fought back. In America, this meant guns. America is a land of guns, a romanticization of the rugged individualist and the wild west. Unwelcomed change, fear, and guns created a toxic stew of danger ahead.

In the 1970s, popular culture began to reflect the plight of the angry white working class man. The morality plays of the cowboy movies and TV programs common in the 1940s and 1950s gave way to white man rage films. The loner takes to violence to right what he sees as wrong. The movie "Dirty Harry" (1971) started this genre. "Walking Tall" (1973) accelerated it. (see here )

So, the anger of the working class white man goes back at least to the 1970s. By then, American society no longer defined masculinity as the Teddy Roosevelt, or John Wayne-type. Society now expected these once-dominant men to share power with blacks, women, and gays. The old dominator was supposed to become the new cooperator. Many white men did not take the changes in societal expectations lightly. Some responded by retreating to what they knew, the role of the forceful dominator. As self-perceived victims, they sought revenge.

As a political factor, the revenge of TAWWCM began to boil up in the 1990s but in that decade it was largely papered over by the prosperity of the times. The macho conduct of the Iraq War (2003-11) brought back momentarily a bit of the old masculinity. Then, a man of African heritage was elected president, twice, a woman was nominated for president, and Donald Trump entered the scene.

To TAWWCM, Trump was the personification of the old masculinity: aggressive, relentless, unyielding, destructive, dominant, and, most of all, anxious to attack all of the Man's perceived enemies. Trump ruthlessly delivered personalized destruction to a large field of opponents. TAWWCM loved it and quickly became devoted to him as a savior figure. It was not what he said so much as how he said it. They knew he lied or exaggerated a lot. But they did not care. They had found their Alpha Male. Through him, they could restore their own lost masculinity.

Actually, the Trump phenomenon was a combination of three forces: Trump, TAWWCM, and the very rich. Trump has no driving political philosophy. Apparently he is in it to enhance his businesses. The Man wants restoration. The very rich want favors for Wall Street, big banks, the corporate world and the super wealthy. Interesting to note that the only significant law passed in Trump's first two years was a massive tax cut for the very wealthy and big corporations. Of course, that means the national tax burden will shift down to middle and working classes. But, TAWWCM does not see that. He sees only his hero in the culture war. So, Trump has formed a coalition of self, white men in the culture war, and the very rich. He rode this coalition to victory in 2016. He believes it is is recipe for success in 2018 and in 2020. While he plays almost entirely to his "base" of TAWWCM, his ties to the super rich remain almost hidden. It is fair to suspect that Trump is only using the working white man to achieve what he rally wants which is more wealth.

Trump has mainlined, if not normalized, language of demonization and violence. Cases of actual physical violence against minorities have escalated in the last two years. Just in the last week, three angry white middle-aged working class men were charged with killing two blacks at random, sending at least fourteen bombs in the mail to Trump's opponents, and murdering eleven Jews in their own synagogue. These are examples of the culture war, but it is important to note that this is a one-sided war. It is the anti-democratic side that is attacking the pro-democratic side. The charge that this war is coming from both sides, or is the fault of both sides, is flatly untrue. 

Trump has declared that the upcoming election is a referendum on him. He thinks his base will turn out in droves to validate him. He is doing everything he can to energize them. He has made immigrants the target of white anger. We will see next Tuesday what the votes really think about Trump and just how extensive his support is.

Now, back to the schism in South Carolina. The discussion above helps us understand what happened and why. The understanding of masculinity was fundamental to the break. The schism occurred after two big events involving this issue, normalization of church life for non-celibate gays, and authority for women. The first moves of schism occurred after the Episcopal Church adopted the ordination of women. Of the five dioceses that voted to leave the Church, three had refused to ordain women to the priesthood. The dioceses voted to leave after a woman was elected presiding bishop. With its opposition to power for women, gays, and transgendered, DSC's schism from TEC can be interpreted as an attempt to restore the traditional understanding of masculinity: male domination. It is interesting to note that while DSC made a major point of denouncing homosexuality and transgender, it showed little interest in adultery, divorce, and remarriage. The man's ability to control all these things would be crucial to the restoration of old masculinity. The dominant man must be free to divorce and remarry. DSC has never allowed a woman to exercise any office of authority (not even to be a rector of any large parish). Its new parent, the ACNA does not allow women to be bishops. DSC and ACNA believe they have restored traditional masculinity.

Now we have a better understanding of why TAWWCM is angry. He is lashing out at the world in which he has lost control. He wants to restore "the good old days." He does not realize that he really has lost control and he cannot regain it. However, he can, and is, doing harm to those he blames for his losses. Unfortunately for all of us, we have a president who is actively stoking social anger and resentment. No one wants to think about it, but under the wrong circumstances, this situation could develop into a civil war. If the violence continues to escalate, that would be the logical outcome of this crisis. That is why I say we are in a national emergency. That is why we must all go to the polls next week and vote. This is still our country; and we should not allow it to slip into violent disintegration again. We did that once and the results were cataclysmic. We must not allow that again.


There are several books to be recommended for further reading:

Susan Faludi, Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man. Harper Collina, 1999. According to the blurb on Amazon, "The common theme that runs through the book is that men have attempted to live up to the expectations of masculinity established in post-World War II America, only to find society not living up to its end of the bargain as globalization, downsizing and other economic pressures have made it difficult for men to live up to their expected roles as providers...Ordinary men are losing self-esteem and a sense of purpose."

Michael Kimmel, Angry White Men. Nation Books, 2013. Amazon: "Many white men, as members of a historically dominant group in America, have reacrted to increases in social inequality and the loss of economic advantage with overt anger and rage...including domestic violence, shootings, involvement in white supremacist groups, an the men's rights and fathers' rights movements."

Wayne Allen Root, Angry White Male: How the Donald Trump Phenomenon is Changing America---and What We Can All Do to Save the Middle Class. 2016. Amazon: "Root makes his case why he and his brethren have every right to be angry. Millions of angry white males are not on the attack but rather responding in self-defense." While the books above are critical, this is defensive. It is endorsed by Trump, Ann Coulter, and Mike Huckabee.


Your thoughts are important to me and to my readers. Tell me what you think. Send to the email address above.

Monday, January 11, 2021




NOTES,  11 JANUARY 2021



Greetings, blog reader, on this Monday, 11 January 2021. We have nine days to go in President Trump's term. Let us hope and pray the country survives what will probably be the longest nine days in history. It is Monday and that means time to check in on the crises of the hour. Today, two are predominate, the pandemic and the political.


PANDEMIC. The COVID-19 plague continues to race at a quickening pace. We are in the ever worsening winter spike in the pandemic. We have only to look at this morning's figures in Worldometer, our usual source, to verify our worst fears.

In the world, there were nearly 5m new cases (4,832,559) of covid for a total of some 90m. In just the last two weeks, this number has jumped by 10%. Deaths are also spiraling out of control. Last week (Jan. 4-11), there were some 87k deaths from the coronavirus. That means nearly 2m (1,944,711) people in the world have died from the plague. This is a rising rate of 5% a week. A half a million people have died of covid in just the last month. 

The United States continues to be the world's epicenter of the pandemic as it has been all along. Last week (Jan. 4-11), the U.S. reported 1,614,027 new cases for a total of 22,917,334. This number climbed by a third in just the last month. As for deaths, the U.S. listed 21,959 last week for a total of 383,275. This is a rising rate of 6% a week. The U.S. is now averaging over 3,000 deaths a day, four times what it was in the summer. As we know from the media, many hospitals and morgues are overflowing with the dead and dying. It is horrifying.

The rates in our southeastern states are even worse. Last week South Carolina reported 39,053 new cases for a total of 364,525. This is a rising rate of 12%, well up from the 10% of the previous week. In the last two weeks, there has been a 44% jump in new cases in SC. As for deaths, there were 327 last week in the state, a steadily rising rate of 6%. As of now, nearly 6k South Carolinians (5,811) have died of COVID-19. Deaths and hospitalizations are soaring in SC.

Charleston County continues to see rising numbers too. Last week, it reported 1,926 cases, up 8%, for a total of 26,967. In the last month, cases jumped by a third. As for deaths, there were 12 in the county last week for a total of 335. 

Numbers in Alabama are even worse. There the state reported 26,805 new cases for a total of 401,900. This means that one in ten people in the state have contracted the coronavirus. It is clearly racing out of control. Hospitals have been overrun. As for deaths in AL, the state reported a staggering number of 456 last week. This was double the week before. As of now, 5,334 Alabamians have died of the plague. It clear that COVID-19 plague is racing out of control in our local states.

While all the data can only horrify us, we have to remember that the vaccine has arrived. Vaccinations are being handled by the local authorities. That means it is different by state and county. And, this means it is rather chaotic. 

I will relate to you my experience for what it may be worth to you. When the vaccine first arrived in my county (Calhoun, AL), it was offered to the most vulnerable, as it should have been: hospital personnel, EMTs, police, nursing home residents and the like. Then, it was opened to residents over 75 (that means me). So, last week, the local major hospital set up shop to administer the vaccine in the local convention center. It is rather small and holds less than a thousand people. They announced first come, first served for the week. Well, you can imagine pandemonium on the first day. On Monday, thousands of county residents (all over 75) descended on the place to line up in the dark and cold for hours before the doors would open at 7:00 a.m. It was a nightmare. My wife and I decided to bide our time. On Wednesday, friends of ours went and reported still impossible lines. They stood for three hours before getting to the front just in time before the vaccine supply of the day was exhausted. Remember this was for people over 75, so the average age was probably 85 and half the people were in wheelchairs, with walkers, or hobbling on canes. My wife and I decided to go at opening time on Thursday. When we arrived at 7:00, the traffic was backed up for blocks away. The convention hall was already full and closed. Fortunately, the authorities had learned a lesson and were handing out appointment cards to the overflow. We got one to return at 11:15 a.m. So, we went back at that time and had to stand in line for only an hour. We got the Moderna vaccine. The nurses made everyone wait 15 minutes afterwards to be sure there were no bad reactions. I saw none.

The nurse told me my arm would be sore and I would be tired for a day or two. She was right. My arm was quite sore for two days. And, the day after the shot, I took several naps. I was indeed fatigued. But, those were the only side effects I had and I count myself very fortunate to have had the vaccine and to have had virtually no bad after effects. We go back for our second vaccination in a month. Hopefully, the authorities will be a bit better organized by then.

My advice to you is, if you have not had a vaccination yet, call your county health department or your family doctor's office and find out the plan for the local administration of the vaccine. Make you plans according to the local schedule and get your vaccinations as soon as possible. Bear in mind the plague is racing our of control everywhere, even with more contagious strains.


POLITICAL. Parallel to the worst public health crisis in a century, we are in the midst of the worst political crisis in America in the last century and a half. The president of the United States incited a mob to overthrow the constituted government. This is the very definition of sedition (inciting people to overthrow a government). The people in the mob and the people who incited them must be held accountable. If they are not, this will lead to more and worse mob actions. As a student of the French Revolution, I can guarantee you that if one mob actions succeeds, there will be a parade of intensifying mob uprisings. Political chaos will ensue. Stable government will be impossible. 

As for the people who incited the mob, President Trump certainly did. Everyone recognizes this fact. But, he was not alone. Don Jr. and Rudy Giuliani did as well. Then, there is the embarrassment of Alabama, Mo Brooks, member of the House of Representatives from Huntsville. He harangued the mob, before their march, for ten minutes with the theme "time for fighting." He yelled at the crowd that the Democrats were stealing the election, helped by treacherous Republicans. "Will you fight for America?" he shouted to the mob. He ended with the blast,"The fight begins today." If inciting mob action is a federal crime, Mo Brooks should be treated under the law. At the very least he should be expelled by vote of the House of Representatives. Failing that he must be censured. No member of Congress should be allowed to get away with inciting a mob to overthrow the government. Mo Brooks' behavior was so off base, even the very conservative Republican governor of Alabama issued a disclaimer. Then, there is the other embarrassment of Alabama, the new senator, Tommy Tuberville, who in his campaign could not name the three branches of the government, was one of only five senators (of the 100) who voted to overturn the legal and legitimate elections in Arizona and Pennsylvania. The vote came AFTER the mob attack on the Capitol demanding just that. He and the other four senators should be censured by the Senate. The ring leaders of the five, Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, should be expelled from the Senate, or at the very least censured. They must not be allowed to get by with this scot-free.

So, what now? It seems that Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, is giving an ultimatum to Mike Pence, the Vice President, that if he does not invoke the 25th Amendment within a day, she will proceed with impeachment in the House. If so, the House is likely to vote to send an article of impeachment (incitement of insurrection) to the Senate by mid-week. If that is not impeachable, nothing is. The last word from Mitch McConnell, the majority leader of the Senate was that he would not reconvene the Senate until Jan. 19, the last whole day of Trump's term. This would kill any chance of removing Trump as president. There is talk that the Senate would take up the impeachment sometime later in the Biden administration. As of now, everything is fluid. Events should become clearer today as the hours pass. 

The bottom line is that President Trump must be held accountable for what he has done. He incited a mob to attack the Capitol in order to force the Congress to overturn the constitutional democracy. This is absolutely intolerable if our democratic republic is to survive. Such behavior must be punished. Trump must be held accountable for his misdeeds even if the Vice President and the Congresspeople do not have the courage and strength to remove him from office. The other people who incited the mob, as well as the participants in the mob, must also be held accountable for this political crime. The future of our country depends on it.

So, get ready for a momentous couple of weeks. God only knows what is going to happen. I think we are still in a sort of shell shock at last week's events. As for me, I am getting over my initial disbelief and shock and am turning to anger. I am angry at the people who did this to my country, the greatest nation-state in the history of the world. I know, I know, we are supposed to be the people of the Jesus way, the way of love. Our presiding bishop tells us this at every turn, as he should. That is his job and he is doing it well. However, there is such a thing as tough love. It is necessary sometimes, even if we had rather not. Everyone who has ever been a parent knows what tough love is. Your 16-year-old comes in an hour after curfew with alcohol on his breath and his clothes reeking of weed. What to do? Time for tough love to keep him from following a path of self-destruction. You ground him for a month, or worse for him, take away his cell phone and computer(s) for two weeks. He may rant and rave and seethe, but deep down, you and he both know it is for his own good. Sometimes we have to practice tough love even when it hurts.

Now is the time for tough love for those of us who love this country. Deep down we know we have to do this for our own good. Let us hope and pray our political leaders have the wisdom and courage to do what is right in this perilous hour.

Remember friend, we are all in this together and we are all here for the living of this hour, as stressful as it may be. Peace. 

  

Saturday, January 9, 2021




THE AMERICAN POLITICAL CRISIS DEEPENS



Sat., 9 January 2021, 1:00 p.m. 

The crisis in our American government is getting more serious by the hour. As a lifelong student of history, I am fascinated, horrified to be sure, but still mesmerized by the recent dramatic and historic events in our country. I am trying to keep up with the news of what is happening and endeavoring to put matters into perspective as we go along. I am trying to understand what is occurring and what it may mean. Writing this blog helps me sort out my thoughts and I hope it helps you sort out yours too even if you may disagree with me. I have several observations to share with you today based on the latest news:


---The assault on the Capitol last Wednesday was much more serious than we first believed. It was an attempted coup d'état, that is, an overthrow of the constitutional government. It was not just a demonstration, march, or appeal to the Congress. It was an outright attempt to overwhelm the constituted authorities in the Capitol and force a reversal of the recent presidential election. The goal was to keep Trump in power even though he had been rejected by the people. 

The assault was also more violent than we first thought. We have only to look at the sickening videos commonly available on the Internet to see just how horrifying it was. A police officer was killed and at least 50 others were injured. At last count, 5 people were killed in the attack.


The mob crushes a police officer against a steel door.

The invaders brought in weapons. They intended to do personal violence. Outside, they had erected a hangman's noose. Inside the hysterical mob screamed for Vice President Pence as they searched high and low for him. If they had found him, they may well have killed him before any forces could have rescued him. (In the French Revolution, the mob would have torn him to shreds, cut off his head, stuck it on a pike and propped it up outside for all to see.) They also intended to take hostages as one mobster carried a handful of zip ties to bind hands and feet, obviously of the Congresspeople. If the mob had actually kidnapped Representatives and Senators, the outcome could have been catastrophic.

I am willing to speculate that the invaders had some sort of guidance inside the building. If you have ever visited the Capitol, you know it is a vast and bewildering maze of seemingly endless halls, stairways, and rooms on numerous levels. One needs a map to get around there. Yet, the invaders seemed to have no trouble finding the most important parts of that massive building. 

Finally, we know well now that this insurrection was planned. Trump himself kept saying there would be a big march on the Capitol on January 6. It had been advertised openly on the Internet for weeks. A major question now is why the authorities were caught woefully under-prepared for a mob assault that everyone knew was coming. 

We know now too that the invaders have declared victory. They have been crowing about their success ever since the assault. They even are reveling in their arrests. There are new credible reports that the far-right gangs are planning violent actions in Washington on Jan. 17, 19, and 20. If the authorities are not prepared next time, shame on them. They will have had plenty of warning.


---The public response to the attempted coup of the 6th reflects the deep division of the country. A recent YouGov poll shows that 63% of Americans opposed the attack on the Capitol. However, the same poll shows that 45% of Republicans supported the attack. Think about that for a moment. Nearly half of Republicans believe it was a good idea for a mob to try to overthrow the government. This is shocking. Moreover, only 27% of Republicans viewed the insurrection as a threat to democracy. Huh? The reality is that it was a attempt to overthrow democracy. If that was not a threat to democracy, what would be? Of course, the majority of Republicans also believe the big lie that that Trump actually won the election and it was stolen from him by the Democrats. There is absolutely no evidence to support this fantasy, yet most members of one of the two major parties in America continue to believe it.


---The Republicans' favorable views of Trump, the lie of the stolen election, and the attempted coup go a long way to explaining the reactions of the Republican Representatives and Senators since the insurrection. Trump has refused to resign. Vice President Pence has refused to call the Cabinet to consider invoking the 25th Amendment that would suspend Trump from office. Mitch McConnell, majority leader of the Senate, has just announced he will not call the Senate to reconvene until January 19, the day before Trump's term ends. This kills any chance that Trump can be removed from office by constitutional means. The House can and will impeach, but only the Senate can remove the President from office (by 2/3 vote). It appears now that the only punishment for President Trump will be a second impeachment by the House of Representatives. This is better than nothing, but still much less that is prudent for the long run. 

Only a handful of the 52 Republican senators have spoken out to criticize the president even after everyone has recognized that he incited a violent insurrection against Congress. Some Republican senators and representatives are speaking out against any punishment of Trump. SC's Graham says impeachment would do more harm than good. Actually, the harm would be in doing nothing about people who tried to overthrow our government. It was Edmund Burke who said the only way for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.


---Some Republicans, and their media friendly outlets as Fox News, are spreading the falsehood that the attack on the Capitol was the work of Antifa infiltrators and not pro-Trump demonstrators. This is another big lie. Law enforcement officials have flatly refuted this fiction, yet it continues to be promoted. Thanks to cell phones, we know who the guilty parties were.


---Twitter has deleted Trump's account. My guess is the company suddenly realized it could be legally culpable. After four years of letting Trump say whatever he wished, it is a bit late now suddenly to cry foul. 


---Trump has announced he will not be attending Biden's inauguration on the 20th. One should bear in mind that a president cannot be indicted while he is in office but can be once he is out of office. At 12:01 p.m. on Jan. 20, Trump will be out of office. Can't you picture a swarm of FBI agents handcuffing the former president, on the podium, on live TV, with the world watching? It makes good sense for Trump to stay away, maybe even in another country.


So, where does this leave us at this point? A monumental political crime has been committed. There must be punishment to fit the crime. The future of the country depends on it. As of now, it appears that the only punishment of Trump as president will be an impeachment but not a removal from office. We do not know yet what charges await him once he is out of office. 

Last Wednesday's attempt to overthrow the constitutional government is the most serious political challenge to the nation since the Civil War, 155 years ago. First, we have to recognize the gravity of the situation. Then, we must bring to justice the people who caused and participated in this insurrection. Finally, we must take measures to ensure such an event cannot happen again. All of these measures must be taken to guarantee the strength and stability of our constitutional, democratic republic. The U.S. Constitution, despite its flaws, was a work of genius. It has served us Americans well for more than two centuries. Now it is our turn to serve it well.

I expect to keep a running commentary on the events of the next 11 or 12 days. I invite you to come along. This will be too important for all of us to miss however disturbing it may be. May God help us in this the hour we were given to live. Peace.