Archive for the ‘Political Statements’ Category

Is a Consistent Standard Too Much to Expect or Maintain?   Leave a comment


Unlike many other people, I feel no compulsion to express every or every other thought that I have–certainly not in writing.  Also, my historical methodological bias inclines me to sit back, read, and observe before writing or speaking much.  Nevertheless, I do feel free to comment in developing events in the news from time to time.

The handling of classified documents has been in the news recently.  Donald Trump’s case is in a league by itself, given that the federal argument asked for the return of the documents, he refused, and the federal government finally acted to reclaim them.  This is an easy case to evaluate.  However, the cases of Joe Biden and Mike Pence, who have been consistently cooperating with federal authorities, are alike.

For the sake of truth in advertising, I lay my partisan cards on the table.  I cast my first vote in a presidential election in 1992.  I have voted in every subsequent presidential election.  I have always voted for Democrats.  My partisan bias does not mean, however, that I give Biden a pass in this case and condemn Pence mercilessly.  And I do not mistake a partisan affiliation for a cult of personality.

Rather, I sit back, read, and watch.  I also vow to apply one standard to both Biden and Pence in this matter.  I refuse to assume any negative intention in the absence of evidence for it.  I assume, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, that these are cases of the accidental misfiling of papers.  This does not mean that such misfiling is unimportant.  I also guess that such misfiling may be more common than many people may think.

To apply one standard to Biden and another standard to Pence in this matter is to show one’s colors as a partisan hack.  I have no difficulty applying a consistent standard in this case.  Yet acting accordingly is more than one can reasonably expect from many people–including some members of Congress and the punditocracy–unfortunately.




A High Price Tag for Homophobia in Florida   Leave a comment

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is waging a culture war in the hope of advancing politically.  In the process, he does not think through the consequences to the taxpayers of Orange and Osceola Counties, apparently.

Due to Disney’s pushback against the “Don’t Say Gay” law, DeSantis and allies in the legislature have potentially saddled the taxpayers of Orange of Osceola Counties with more than one billion dollars in debt.  Dissolving the Reedy Creek Improvement District (created by state law in 1967) triggers a provision of that 1967 law obligating taxpayers in the affected counties to pay off the outstanding bond debt for the Reedy Creek Improvement District first.  That debt is nearly one billion dollars.  Not counting the one billion dollars, dissolving the Reedy Creek Improvement District imposes an additional tax burden of 163 million dollars on the taxpayers of those two counties.  This translates into a 25 percent hike in property taxes.  Adding one billion dollars really hikes property taxes, potentially.

The attorneys at the Walt Disney Corporation know the 1967 law well.  Ron DeSantis has learned about it after making a greater fool of himself.

In chess terms, this situation seems to conclude with Disney checkmating DeSantis.  I congratulate Disney.  May responsible, cool, heads in the legislature head off these tax shocks.  In the meantime, how high is the price taxpayers must pay for the bigotry and vindictiveness of Ron DeSantis?




Outlawing the Truth   Leave a comment

Georgia, my native state and my home, has joined the Hall of Shame yet again.  Governor Brian Kemp has signed into a law a bill that severely curtails the discussion of racism in public school classrooms.  The son of a bitch, who denies being racist, has emboldened racists and set back the cause of racial justice.

Pardon my “French,” O reader.  I harbor no objections to selective, well-placed, and strong language that calls proper attention to the reality of situations.  I do object, however, to profanity as verbal wallpaper.

For the record, I am White.  Most of my ancestry came from the British Isles and Western Europe.  The major exception is the Cherokee ancestry on my mother’s side.  But, for all intents and purposes, to steal a line from Gilbert and Sullivan,

I am an Englishman.

I add the following details to the list of relevant background information.  My main academic interests are race, racism, and religion, especially in the U.S. South.  I am, unavoidably, a product, to some extent, of my culture, for good and ill.  The racism in my thoughts comes from my sick, racist culture, not from my parents, who taught me better.  Their influence helps me to counteract and not to give voice to the racism that reveals its ugly self in private, inside my cranium.  My better angels fight these battles valiantly.

I reject the premise that people of color have a duty to avoid making White people uncomfortable.  I also reject the premise that the proper response to discussions of racism and its effects in society is to shut down those conversations, perhaps even to criminalize them.  Such discussions ought to make all people profoundly uncomfortable.  That discomfort is evidence of an active social and moral conscience.  That discomfort ought to lead to constructive efforts–both individually and collectively–to combat racism and to correct its corrosive social effects.

Doing that is challenging.  Shutting down and outlawing those conversations is easy.  The latter strategy is consistent with one conservative strategy regarding racism–to deny racism and to play at being color-blind.  Conservatism emphasizes personal responsibility and downplays collective responsibility.  An emphasis on personal responsibility has a legitimate place, but that legitimate place is never in the context of downplaying collective responsibility.  Both personal and collective responsibility should exist in balance.

Here I stand.  I will do no other.




Remember January 6, 2021   3 comments

On January 6, 2021, I watched the news in horror as a mob Donald Trump sent to the United States Capitol attacked that structure and the brave police officers guarding it.  I wondered what had happened to my native country, which I love.

I still wonder what is happening to my country.

The dominant wing of the Republican Party is Trumpian.  It is, therefore, an existential threat to the continuation of representative government in the United States of America.  The dominant wing of the Republican Party in 2022 has authoritarian tendencies.  These tendencies are antithetical to a political party with a long track record of favoring smaller government.  The dominant wing of the Republican Party is a fascist death cult of personality.

This cult has outgrown Trump.  Elements have turned against him.

I like to be cautious.  When I become alarmed, I do so because people who know far more than I do have become alarmed.  When I read of people who witnessed the rise of the Third Reich become alarmed about the United States, I take those voices seriously.  When I read political scientists saying that the future of our democratic republic is at risk, I take those voices seriously.

I lay my proverbial cards on the table.  I am a Democrat.  I am, to be precise, a Democratic Socialist.  If I were a Canadian, I would vote for the New Democratic Party.  Fixing the Republican Party is not my job.  No, that is the responsibility of Republicans.  I recall hearing about George H. W. Bush, when he was a Republican Party leader in Texas in the 1960s, expelling members of the John Birth Society from the state party.  The Republican Party needs latter-day George H. W. Bushes, who will expel all who were complicit in and supportive of the treasonous activities of January 6, 2021.  The Republican Party needs to do this now, for the sake of the country.

Elections have not always made me nervous.  I have frequently disapproved of the results.  Yet, prior to 2016, I did not think that when, my preferred candidates lost, the future of the republic was at stake.  Prior to 2016, those candidates against whom I voted and who won were usually were freedom-loving patriots.  (A few scared the hell out of me, though.)  Overall, however, they were misguided, but they did not seek to bring down the republic, at least.

Now I fear for the future of my homeland.  The threat is internal, from the far right, which is becoming less marginal.  We have a republic, if we can keep it.  I pray that we can and will.

Another internal threat arising from the Big Lie is that, in some states, including Georgia (where I live), new election laws permit the state government to overturn the election results–all in the name of “election security.”  This does not soothe my fears for the future of representative government in the United States of America.

May God help us all.  May God save us from each other and ourselves.




The Moral Dimension of Vaccine Mandates   3 comments

When I was a wee lad, my parents had to prove my status regarding certain vaccines before they could enroll me in public schools.

When I was applying to colleges and universities for my undergraduate and graduate degree programs, I had to do the same before I could enroll.  If I needed a booster, I got one.  If I had not received a given vaccine, I got one.

When I was a freshman at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Tifton, Georgia, I told the germane officials that I tested a false positive for tuberculosis.  I told the truth.  Said officials, not convinced, sent me to the Tift County Health Department for a chest x-ray.  They the college sent me to my county health department once a month for a few months.  A nurse drew a sample of my blood and gave me a bottle of pills.  I finally proved that I was not going to give anyone tuberculosis.

These were well-reasoned and proper policies.

I, as a Christian who takes the Bible seriously, cannot escape mutuality, a principle encoded into the Law of Moses, the messages of the Hebrew prophets, and the moral teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.  We are all, in the eyes of God, dependent upon, responsible for, and responsible to each other.  We belong to God and each other.  Whatever one does or does not do, affects others.

Without romanticizing the United States homefront during World War II, I note that sharing sacrifices and hardships was the consensus position.  That is not the consensus during this COVID-19 pandemic, sadly.  When I read stories about delusional and/or selfish people who refuse to get vaccinated, I read stories about public menaces.  When I read stories about unvaccinated COVID-19 patients in hospitals harassing doctors and nurses, I shake my head.  When I read stories about the families of such patients threatening the lives of medical professionals, I wonder what the hell is wrong with these people.  When I read stories of people with conditions other than COVID-19 who have died because they had to wait for room in overwhelmed hospitals, I wonder what will convince some people to get vaccinated.  The stubbornly unvaccinated and those who enable them have blood on their hands.

So, yes, I support vaccine mandates in the public and private sectors.  Yes, I favor making the unvaccinated pay higher insurance premiums.

The current economic problems are tied to the ongoing pandemic.  Do not blame any politicians, except those who enable the stubbornly unvaccinated.  Mainly, blame the stubbornly unvaccinated.

Strictly enforced vaccine mandates are morally defensible.  They are consistent with mutuality.  Nobody has the moral right to be a modern-day counterpart of Typhoid Mary.




My Third Dose   4 comments

Today I received my third dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination.

I thank God that this vaccine and other vaccines for COVID-19 exist and are available in many places.  I also know that parts of the world have no access to any such vaccine.

My civil libertarian ways have their limits.  Those limits stand somewhere before personal choice in whether to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in this pandemic.  Nobody has a moral right to choose to be a contemporary counterpart to Typhoid Mary.  Nobody should have the legal right to do so either.  When my choice endangers you, O reader–or your choice endangers me–the one making the unwise choice also makes an immoral choice.  I embrace mutuality, not individualism and personal choice taken to a dangerous extreme.   When I read about certain European governments fining unvaccinated adults severely for leaving their homes, I think that some governments have good sense during a pandemic.

I have no sympathy for those who refuse to behave responsibly, i.e, wear a mask properly, practice social distancing, and get vaccinated (if eligible and the vaccines are available) during this pandemic.  I have no sympathy for those who spread deadly disinformation that costs lives, prolongs this pandemic, and compound social and economic damage from it.  I support vaccine mandates–the stricter the enforcement, the better.  I also favor keeping those will insist on acting irresponsibly away from the rest of us, for the common good.  If certain people will not behave responsibly, this last step is reasonable and morally defensible.




How is That Offensive?   Leave a comment

I am taking a momentary break from revising some test items (for use in public school classrooms in Georgia, U.S.A.).  I write such test items for an arm of the State of Georgia.

I drafted a test item about the federal immigration law of 1924.  This law was notoriously racist, grounded in White supremacy, scientific racism, and eugenics.  In that test item, I used the term, “White Anglo-Saxon Protestants,” usually abbreviated “WASPs.”  One reviewer (whose word I must heed) advised removing it, given that some may find it offensive.

I find racism offensive.  The term “White Anglo-Saxon Protestants” accurately describes many people.  The immigration law of 1924 favored them, in fact.

By the way, I grew up a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant.  I am of mostly Western European ancestry–primarily from the British Isles.  I can trace the presence of the European side of my family in the Americas to German immigrants, English people, and Huguenots, during colonial times.  My family tree also contains a healthy dose of Cherokee DNA, but I look Caucasian.  I grew up a Southern Baptist then a United Methodist.  I am a member of The Episcopal Church, and I have strong Roman Catholic tendencies.  Whether I remain a Protestant depends on whom one asks.  I no longer think of myself as a Protestant.  I am too Protestant to be a Roman Catholic, and too Roman Catholic to be a Protestant.  Take those details for whatever they are worth, O reader.

I have written critically of thin-skinned people on this weblog. They have deserved every harsh word.

Life must be miserable for thin-skinned people, regardless of where they fall on the political-ideological spectrum.  Perhaps they would have an easier time if they tried removing the pole before sitting down.




Posted September 30, 2021 by neatnik2009 in Political Statements 2021

Cultural Rot as an Internal Threat to Representative Government   Leave a comment

Steve Paikin is one of the great journalists.  He, one of the hosts of The Agenda, from Toronto, Ontario, hosts this depressing interview.  Professor Tom Nichols correctly diagnoses the predicament in which much of the developed world finds itself politically.




Posted September 29, 2021 by neatnik2009 in Political Statements 2021

The Irresponsibility of the Georgia Board of Regents   Leave a comment

The Georgia Board of Regents, which controls the University System of Georgia, mandates neither masks nor COVID-19 vaccinations during this pandemic.

This is irresponsible.  I read news stories about K-12 teachers and students in the state dying of COVID-19.  I also live within walking distance of the main campus of The University of Georgia.  I drive through campus and see crowds of students walking.  I see relatively few of them wearing masks.

By the way, I work, albeit remotely, for The University of Georgia, so I may be biting the hand that feeds me by writing and publishing this post.  So be it.  “I gotta be me,” as the saying goes.  I insist on taking a stand.

The Fall Semester began last week.  Already, to my knowledge, four faculty members at three institutions of the University System of Georgia have resigned abruptly.  They have (a) had the financial ability to quit their jobs, and (b) have valued their health.  Perhaps the most famous case was that of an 88-year-old part-time psychology.  He had come out of retirement to share his talents with the university community.  Dr. Bernstein had a justifiable rule:  No masks, no class.  One young woman refused to wear a mask properly.  When Dr. Bernstein realized she would not wear the mask properly in class, he abruptly resumed his retirement.  He cut that class session short and left.  He was correct.  The combination of age and an underlying health condition made Dr. Bernstein more susceptible than some to COVID-19.

Mark my words:  If the Board of Regents does not alter its policy soon, it will have to contend with more professors choosing their lives over their courses.  I pity those faculty members for whom the choice is between financial ruin and potentially contracting COVID-19.

I also wish Dr. Bernstein a longer and healthy life.

Furthermore, I remember when I was applying for admission to institutions of the University System of Georgia.  I recall having to document that I had received certain vaccinations.  I also remember having to get certain vaccinations.

That made sense.

The University System of Georgia should add COVID-19 to the list of diseases against which to be vaccinated.  It should also mandate wearing masks in classrooms.  It should do so immediately.




That’s Controversial!   Leave a comment

What Isn’t Controversial?

Today I conducted a Google search on The Starlost (1973-1974), one of the infamously bad science fiction series.  Ed Wood movies were bad, but they had the virtue of being so bad they were accidentally comedic.  The series, available for free at YouTube and, had bad sets, special effects, hair, wardrobes, writing, acting, and directing.  The series, which established an intriguing premise in the first episode, abandoned that premise almost immediately.  Also, scripts also kept referring to a

Class-G solar star.

The series, put out of its misery after sixteen episodes, was a train wreck.

Today I found an online article (dated April 11, 2021) proclaiming The Starlost

the most controversial sci-fi show of all time.

The author (whose name I found easily but choose not to use in this post) committed what advertising people call puffery.  He, for example, used “most” and “of all time.”  He exaggerated reality and, in so doing, made a statement impossible to confirm.  His headline was ridiculous.  The Starlost may have been controversial, but mainly it was inept.

This online story prompted me to revisit a topic that disturbs me, hence the existence of this post.

“Controversial” is a word that means little or nothing in an age of “alternative facts” and of entitled “snowflakes” from a variety of perspectives, left and right, who thrive on their outrage.  To describe anything as controversial is merely to acknowledge its existence in an age of verbal sniping.  To call anything controversial is on par with describing water as being wet.

Somewhere, some water “truther” is arguing that water is not wet.  Mark my words, O reader.

You, O reader, ought not to mistake me for a spiritual giant and a person gifted with rare insights; I do not.  I do know some lessons and possess some wisdom, however.  Life can prove educational, if one pays attention.  From my fountain of wisdom, such as it is, I offer this insight:  Life is too short to go through it in a state of perpetual outrage.  Yes, injustice should prompt outrage.  If, for example, human trafficking does not trigger your moral compass, O reader, I do not want to know you.  Balance is crucial.  Focusing on and manufacturing controversies that need not exist is one result of hypersensitivity.  Hypersensitivity is a reaction against insensitivity.  I propose settling in the middle and practicing balanced sensitivity–minus the -in and the -hyper.

Life is short.  Coping with death ought to teach one what really matters.  We human beings ought to extend grace to ourselves and each other.  I care more about a person’s character in the present day and the immediate past than long ago.  One’s character long ago is relevant if it is also one’s character in the present day and the immediate past.  Yet people change, for good and for ill.  The version of Kenneth Taylor writing this post differs greatly from many previous iterations of him.  I evaluate myself on the basis of who I am and was recently, not who I was x years ago.  Also, everybody has proverbial skeletons and creepy-crawlies in the equally proverbial closet.  If we are bent of character assassination, based on who someone used to be, we have no moral right to complain when others treat us as we have treated others.  Mutual forbearance and forgiveness would reduce much needless controversy.

The Starlost remains inept, nearly half a century later.  I do not consider it worthy of the word “controversial.”  The series is that bad.