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Born May 18, 1953; got saved at Truett Memorial BC in Hayesville, NC 1959. On rigged ballot which I did not rig got Most Intellectual class of 71, Gaffney High School. Furman Grad, Sociology major but it was little tougher than Auburn football players had Had three dates with beautiful women the summer of 1978. Did not marry any of em. Never married anybody cause what was available was undesirable and what was desirable was unaffordable. Unlucky in love as they say and even still it is sometimes heartbreaking. Had a Pakistani Jr. Davis Cupper on the Ropes the summer of 84, City Courts, Rome Georgia I've a baby sitter, watched peoples homes while they were away on Vacation. Freelance writer, local consultant, screenwriter, and the best damn substitute teacher of Floyd County Georgia in mid 80's according to an anonymous kid passed me on main street a few years later when I went back to get a sandwich at Schroeders. Had some good moments in Collinsville as well. Ask Casey Mattox at if he will be honest about it. I try my best to make it to Bridges BBQ in Shelby NC at least four times a year.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

High Noon and Brooke Simmons of Walker County Alabama

    Last week  Cliff Simms in the Steve Bannon White House, His Bama outfit Yellowhammer News took pride in spotlighting My US Congressional District which includes Walker, Winston, DeKalb, Etowah and points in between. Robert Aderholt is our Congressman.

    Brooke Simmons was a staffer for Aderholt in his DC office a few years ago. A graduate of Washington and Lee U, she took some courses with my acquaintance Doug Cumming, whose father Joe was Marshall Frady's boss in the Atlanta bureau of Newsweek in the 60s.

   Doug and I are both big fans of Furman's Marshall Frady.

   I think at one point Brooke's Mother was on the school board in Walker County. Judge Frank Johnson the Lincoln Republican both Bill Moyers and myself, not to mention Howell Raines hold in highest esteem was from Lincoln County.

    This blog is to say I am convinced all named so far would be appalled at the praise Yellowhammer News heaped on Aderholt and his district.

    A graduate of Samford University, the values Yellowhammer praised are those of the alt right and the fundamentalism of their networked Rick Burgess. Those values are not shared by the likes of the aforementioned, their political calculus is something other.

   I have read Hochschild's Strangers in Their Own Country. As the son of Baptist minister raised in a working textile class church in South Carolina, a grad of Furman University where Mike Hubbard's son is now a Junior and Lee Atwater's daughter Salley a grad, I think I understand the class and religious resentments of this district that would compel 87 percent to go Trump.

    As Hochschild reveals some of these complaints are quite legitimate. There is a great Paradox and a "Deep Story" to explore.

    But the carnival Barker Donald Trump and his minions in Bannon and Miller and Simms with the goofy complicity of politicians like Aderholt are not the remedy.

    There is a sickness in this predicament someone must take head on. I'm hoping Brooke Simmons, as an example, and folks like her in the district who understand why Frank Johnson was such a great man can ralley and at least name this malady and begin to move it in another direction.

    With a witless Bama Baptist convention it will be difficult as the politics of race have been transmogrified into the politics of religious nationalism--see Rick Burgess, Trey Gowdy, Stephen Miller and a recent oped in the Ga Baptist Christian Index--but somebody must speak out.

      Today NPR FResh Air had a great examination of the great American Movie High Noon. For me the implications are the Bama 4th are self evident. To a lesser degree and not quite as handsome I lived it out in 2007 when I voted out of the Collinsville Baptist Church.

    Cut to the chase, long story short I will share, give it my best shot to  bring this blog to the attention of recent Birmingham Southern President General Krulak.

   Tom Corts is no longer on the earth. I am hoping Krulak will run for US Senate against the Rick Burgess/Cliff Simms/Stephen Miller Bama GOP and begin to lead Alabama out of this dark ignorant wilderness Yellowhammer championed last week.


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Lays Potato chips and Westbrook Basketball Fans

    This post is gonna be pretty random day in the life kinda thing. This morning I opened a big bag of potato chips right after breakfast with a pledge to only eat 15. About 30 later I closed the bag but it's that kind of day. Donald Trump had a news conference and further embarrassed the New Yorker, me too....Had two wieners for lunch with Steak and Shake Chili and slaw. Good call.

    This afternoon I was banned from the Westbrook "Christian" Basketball facebook wall. That brings the total to four including the Collinsville Baptist Church, Library and Historical Association and Gaffneyites. Nobody wants to engage a serious exploration of politics especially if Jeeeesus told them what to think. Oh yeah Rick Burgess banned me too on Rickand Bubba wall.

  So far I'm in good standing with the Ga Baptist Christian Index but I'm pushing it.

     I'm not sure some of the Westbrook fan really are Christians. They were calling our boys special ed and saying we got our Shoes at Trade Day. I went on their wall to tell em my Momma had more class than their Momma and they banned me. Also recommended some books for their Christian lyberry: The Anointed by Giberson and Stephens, Evolving in Monkeytown by Rachel Held Evans,  Apostles of Reason by Worthen and Harvard Lit Critic James Wood The Fun Stuff. Was about to wax eloquent, go off on em about Wood on George Orwell and Eton but the provincial barely a step above Rick Burgess probably wouldn't understand anyway; nor would they admit Danny Ford for whom the freeway spur is named--his brother Joe--about a half mile from their campus said on national TeeVee "I shouldn't have went out on the field.".

   And they should google Rick Bragg in Southern Living on Trade Day, " A goat and a Ball Peen Hammer"; and Pat Conroy historical piece on the Great Santini about his trip to the Rome Ga Lyberry. Westbrook folks except for the three or four that are my "frands" are about that classy.

    There are some nice folks who send their kids there. I know some of them and proud of their children, but these fat Mommas--look at their facebook pix, who talk about body odor of Sand Rock Fans and are too effete to sit in a play off game where folks are stacked four deep under the basket; well they just don't appreciate good authentic HS basketball.

   I spoke briefly to the Lafayette Coach at the game Saturday. He was up to scout the game, had a long drive. Had a lot more "class" than a lot of the Westbrook fans. Bear Bryant would say the same thing.

   I could say more with a reference to what Uncle Fremont said about Higgins shoe store on Broad Street in Rome Georgia in 47, but that's enough for now.

    Plus Westbrook is about to get a lesson in humility when they face Lafayette tonight, and LJ Peak never went to their High School and they never got in a pickup game with Kevin Garnett, KayGee!

   Well Little Billy is two on the 21st and Big Andrew is 18 the 24th.

    I got enough for some turkey and dressing at Cracker Barrel tonight and tomorrow its Rome Ga to hear Patrick Phillips at Berry and the FUMC on the lynchings in Forsyth County in 1912, Blood at the Root, while Willimon is holding forth at Wofford. But don't expect anybody maybe two or three, of the Westbrook fans to give a shit.

   God Bless America. As Bobby Kennedy said, "It's On to Chicago and Let's Win There!!!"

Friday, February 10, 2017

Willimon and Willie Earle at Wofford

   Will Willimon has written a new book a collection of sermons anchored in remembrance of the lynching of Willie Earle in Greenville SC in 1947. Willimon says he was one year old when the lynching happened.

   The lynching of Willie Earle became an international story lesser known than the Scottsboro Boys and was big notch in the writing career of Rebecca West. A Rev Hawley Lynn  of Grace UMC in Pickens SC spoke prophetically from his pulpit shortly after the lynching and was chastised for it.

    Willimon is hosting a daylong conference on the lynching Friday Feb 17 at Wofford College in Spartanburg SC, his alma mater, in the hometown of Trey Gowdy where Billy Graham is a member of the First Baptist Church.

    Longtime Duke Chaplain, Willimon as the Bishop of the North Alabama UMC for seven years in 2009 coincided with Jeff Sessions and the Bama GOP draconian immigration bill. It was part of Mike Hubbard's Republican Handshake that flipped the state Red. It would've deported a quarter of the students at my Mother's alma mater Collinsville Elementary and High School in DeKalb County.

     Willimon --an easily googled piece Willimon repents, ethics daily -- compared his fellow Methodist Sessions law to the fugitive slave act.

     I am convinced were Willimon a US Senator he would've voted against Jeff Sessions for Attorney General as would Atticus Finch, his creator Harper Lee and her sister Alice who one time moved the previous question against the White Citizens Council in a South Alabama Methodist District meeting; Judge Frank Johnson, a Baptist Republican, and Pulitzer Prize nominee Wayne Flynt, the Auburn Historian now writing the definitive biography of Harper Lee.

   Sadly I talked to a staffer GOP Rep Bradley Byrne, a few days ago, an Auburn Grad who did not know who Frank Johnson and Wayne Flynt were.

     Willimon as an administrator as Bishop was not without his dissenters, among other things for his clubfooted move of a pastor at Nations Chapel UMC near Huntsville. But I am not a Methodist, my Dad was a Baptist preacher. However I was delighted--somebody said it was like the  Pope coming to town though Dietrich Bonhoeffer himself had passed through in 1931--when Willimon came to the Collinsville Methodist Church in 2004 or so. I was there as was Mark Morgan who sought counsel with Willimon while a student at Duke, Mark one of the local Baptist preacher's son.

    And a year or so later I received the eucharist, took Communion from Willimon at the New Oregon Methodist Church near Desoto State Park.

     Whatever snippets of mistakes Willimon mighta made, this platform Friday Feb 17 is remarkable. Will Willimon take this moment to speak against Jeff Sessions and the Trump administration? Is Willimon and his audience well versed in the anthology Jumpm Jim Crow which focusses on the politics of Upstate SC from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Era. Has Willimon read Emory proff Joe Crespino's Strom Thurmond's America about Upstate Scions Roger Milliken who has given millions to Wofford, and Charles Daniel of Greenville for whom the Chapel on my alma mater's campus is named; has Willimon explored and will he talk about the role race played in the evolution of Upstate SC Republicanism, the dark zones, the gray areas in the life of these two legends who otherwise have a great deal of leadership and jobs creation for one of the brighter spots on America's employment landscape these days. How does Sunbelt downtown destination City Greenville, the landscape of Willie Earle's lynching; how prophetic indeed will Willimon be about it all.

    Is Willimon conversant in Paul Harvey's great book from his lecture series at Mercer in 2008 Moses, Jesus and the Trickster? How will Willimon translate, interpret for Jeff Sessions and Trey Gowdy and Donald Trump journalist Jelani Cobb's  recent piece in the New Yorker that took an unflinching look at the race history of South Carolina in reference to the Charleston trial of Dylan Roof?

    What does Willimon make of the political legacy of Lee Atwater and SC Gov Carroll Campbell, Atwater of the infamous early 80's "nigger memo" where he confessed race baiting of the 60s evolved into Adrian Rogers and Jesse Helms abortion card,  Karl Rove's religion card, and now Jeff Sessions, Steve Bannon and Donald Trump's Nationalism card grounded in anti immigration?

   Has Willimon seen Furman proff Melinda Menzer's utube video protesting Trump in downtown Greenville last week, giving homage to the legacy of Max Heller, who Atwater worked to defeat and put Carroll Campbell in Congress.

     Like WA Criswell as spotlighted in Wuthnow's Rough Country, Willimon has "convening power". He has a moment to make some noise for the cause of Jesus and the legacy of Martin Luther King and Judge Frank Johnson and Furman's LD Johnson who he named a saint in my presence at one moment in Alabama. Just how prophetic will Willimon be next Friday in Spartanburg in the backyard of Trey Gowdy and Billy and Franklin Graham.

    More on Willimon and his new book with some teaser chapters and the Wofford event can be easily googled at his blog, The Peculiar Prophet.

    I hope he does well and Meet the Press and NY Times, Oxford American and New Yorker take notice.

And related:


Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Gaffney High's Miss Chadwick and Harvard Lit Critic James Wood

      I've told versions of this story many times before but it deserves a retelling. I was gonna devote my blog time today with a suggested book list for New Sec Ed Betsy Devos but this compulsion Trumps that one so Betsy is on hold.

       Miss Margaret Chadwick taught Advanced Composition for at least 40 years as the legend goes at Gaffney High School. If I was in her last class in 1971 that means she started in the early 30s about ten years after the school was built. Her tenure there deserves official examination but until definitive history of her stay I'm going with the legend.

     After all those years she still had that light in her eye in 71. I had a facebook exchange with one of her mid 60s students today, Jerry Shinn, retired editor of the Charlotte Observer. He said he Loved Miss Chadwick.

    Most likely Libby Harrill Mitchell was in her class in the early 60s, Libby, a Furman grad who ran for Governor of Maine not long ago.

    For a long time those of us in Advanced Composition were given seven short stories to read and critique. Up until say 20 years ago I could name all seven of my assignments, but now it was Kafka's In the Penal Colony, The Secret Sharer and Joseph Conrad's In the Heart of Darkness or a Chapter.

     I procrastinated and she threatened to hold up the diploma of the "Most Intellectual" of the class of 71 who had already gotten a scholarship to Furman if I didn't turn all my essays in. Mark Poole, Andy Gunn and I sweated a little but we all got em in.

    I think Rajesh Mehra was on time and of course Diane Sarratt. Woulda been good if Lillian Ashley had stuck around and Jan Palmer, woulda made an outstanding group of scholars who got a full page picture in the 71 Cherokeean even more august, but we were proud even so.

    Near the last day of school, which was the end of her teaching career, after the memorable trip to Greenville South Carolina to see a movie and a meal at the Morrison's Cafeteria in McCallister Square I bounced into her class before the bell and said: "Miss Chadwick, I'm one of the brightest students you ever taught, aren't I?"

     She said No Stephen, you are a charm but not even in the top ten. And she began to name Kathy Martin, the Sossamon girls, Steve Williams, Barty Sides, Margaret Callison and the Caldwell girl Jerry Shinn and she wasn't even warmed up. I said okay, I get it.

    But here, I'm gonna name myself in the top ten of lifelong learning. I think I'm her only student to have met Harvard Literary Critic James Wood and read at least two of his books.  Crashed the Sewanee Writers Conference summer of 07 or so and heard his lecture on Round and Flat Characters, a chapter from How Fiction Works. Had brief conversation with him there.

     The first book of his I read was  the Broken Estate, Essays on Literature and Belief; and in the last ten days The Good Stuff. Here is the challenge to my classmates of all those years at Gaffney High. I stumbled on The Good Stuff at Dollar Tree last Friday. Got it for  a dollar right after a happenstance delightful conversation with Randy Owen, Country Music mega star at the Ft Payne Cracker Barrell.

    Owen was an English major himself.

   But Wood's book is out there. I'm sure Ft Payne Alabama is not the only Dollar Tree shelving this steal. So Gaffney High lit fans and any who see this, go get a copy today. Great stuff and Miss Chadwick would be proud.

   Here is the Guardian Review

Friday, February 03, 2017

Jeff Sessions and Rick and Bubba's threat to the Constitution

      NPR has been solid there last several days explaining for anybody who wants to hear, the threat of Donald Trump, Steve Bannon, Rick and Bubba and Cliff Simms to America. But folks in your world and mine have to pay attention instead of letting the village idiot carry the ball. In my world that would mean Martha and Thomas Barksdale, Gloria Morgan, James Payton, Jeff Graves, Tara George, Susan Weaver Morgan and her Mother Peg have to be more active. They have to act on what they know in their gut is the corrosive fluids let loose by the Trump administration, some of it in the name of Jesus Christ they have blasphemed. They have to recognize the difference between Casey Mattox and Cherilynne Crowe and they have to make it plain.

      Here is some beautiful basic insight from Jeffrey Rosen this week on NPR about the aspects of the Constitution Jeff Sessions fails to understand.

     Jeff Sessions is no Frank Johnson and as Rosen says, Madison would be appalled at policy by Tweets as is the Trump mode:


           What are you most concerned about constitutionally right now? You're a constitutional scholar.
ROSEN: In one sense, all the constitutional conflict is maybe bad for the country but good for constitutional debate, which is what we exist at the National Constitution Center to host, trying to create a measure of public reason and resurrect the public reason that Madison thought was necessary for public - for democracy to survive. So if you ask what I'm most concerned about, I think it would be the death of that public reason.
If we really do live in a post-fact society and if we're so much in our filter bubbles and echo chambers that citizens can't converge around a common understanding of facts, then we can't sustain the public reason and civil discourse, which includes constitutional discourse that Madison thought was necessary for the republic to survive. The framers were cynical about the future of democracy. They studied failed democracies like Greece and Rome. They read Demosthenes.
They designed a constitution on the assumption that democracy might well deteriorate into demagoguery. And they created these complicated systems in order to filter the will of the people from being directly expressed. So all of these new media technologies, the idea of presidents tweeting directly to the people would have appalled Madison, who thought that direct communication between representatives and the people was the main potential source of tyranny to be avoided.
All of these filtering mechanisms are being undermined by technology, by reforms over the years, by the growing populist forces that are sweeping the world. And maintaining these Madisonian values in the face of these populist forces is something that I think liberals and conservatives increasingly should converge around.
GROSS: When you use the word populist, what do you mean?
ROSEN: Direct expression of the people's will. So Brexit is a populist referendum. You decide a huge constitutional question with one vote. The framers would never have allowed that.
GROSS: Why not?
ROSEN: They believed that you had to filter public opinion so people had time to deliberate. Only after passing through lots of different bodies and tests and checks could representative bodies or constitutional conventions be entitled to speak in the name of we the people. The people's constitutional views are supposed to be their most thoughtful, deliberative, deeply considered views completely separate from the temporary passions of the moment that can be measured by referenda or even by ordinary laws. So the whole constitutional system is designed to avoid spot votes and quick decisions and to ensure deliberation and public reason.
GROSS: And tyranny of the majority?
ROSEN: And tyranny of the majority, absolutely. And tyranny of the minority, too. The framers are concerned both about majority and minority faction. And a faction is any group of people, whether a majority or a minority, that binds together to threaten liberty and to threaten the interests of the people. And it can be mobs online, and it can be expressed in laws. And the framers designed the system to ensure that those forms of tyranny could not survive.

    End of quote. Yesterday Sarah Posner in easily googled interview held forth on that American Bastard Steve Bannon and his seduction of the Christian right which was already fucked up. Bannon named Jeff Sessions as the founder of the Nationalist movement which placed Trump in the White House.

   Alabama is ground zero for Posner's concerns in the world of Rick and Bubba and Crawford Broadcasting, Church of the Highlands and Cliff Simms.

   Is Richard Shelby, the legend of the University of Alabama paying attention? What about Nick Saban and Greg Sankey and Paul Finebaum and Greg McElroy?

    Ive read Hochschild's Strangers in Their Own Land. I get it. But Donald Trump is not the remedy and the informed conversation must take hold and very soon.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

And on the 7th Day of the Trump Presidency, Collinsville, Alabama goes national

       This morning on NPR 1a program newly elected Republican DeKalb county Alabama school superintendent Jason Barnett held forth for about ten minutes on his 16 year experience with undocumented Hispanics in the Collinsville School. My Mother is a 1939 alum of the school and my Grandfather James Columbus Jordan ran as a Lincoln Republican in the 2nd decade of the 20th Century for school superintendent.

    He was soundly defeated.

     This morning Jason did very well, all though a little choppy in his presentation about getting to know the personal stories of the multitude of Hispanic children that have crossed his path in the classroom and as assistant principal at Collinsville School. But after the host went to a fellow on the border in Texas, Jason dropped the ball. He wasn't asked and failed to mention the Collinsville soccer team, all Hispanic, who won the state championship in 2013, nor the travail of standout player on that team Jorge Avila Segura who was undocumented when he graduated.

    Jorge was salutatorian his senior year and wrote a public letter to Governor Bentley about his ordeal. His teammates say half the team that won the championship in 2013 were undocumented.

    Nor did the story of 2015 valedictorian Maria Moreno get told. She too was undocumented when she graduated. Both she and Jorge are now citizens and Jorge just completed college at Hardeman Freedman.

    Last fall in Jorge Segura's presence, Supe Barnett--he was sworn in January 1 this year making him supe longer than Trump has been President and Jeff Sessions will likely be attorney General--Jason, Dr. Barnett (20 odd years my junior) told Jorge and me given his experience in Collinsville, he is stongly inclined to entertain the idea students of good scholarship and character should be awared citizenship upon graduation from the public schools.

   Public schools can be extreme vetting, the kind Donald Trump adores. Let's bring Jorge Segura and Maria Moreno to Washington DC, on air at NPR 1a, Morning Joe on NBC and Meet the Press, and with UMC Bishop Willimon of Duke and North Alabama show Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions what Democracy Looks like.

    These kids are two of the greatest Americans Ive met, and they have a lifetime in front of them. Let's make America worthy of what they have to offer!!!!!

    PS, I also want to say on the 6th day of the Trump presidency, LJ Peak of Gaffney South Carolina, my hometown, scored his 1,000 ndth point for Georgetown in a game against Creighton in the Verizon Center in DC. Too Bad President Hillary Clinton and what woulda been her predecessor Barack Obama could not be there for the game.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Yellowhammer's Cliff Simms in Trump White House

     Cliff Simms is the son of a fundamentalist Baptist preacher whose right wing luck and pluck has landed him in the Trump White house, as some kind of communications and policy strategist. My experience reading his site and listening to his mid day radio chat on Crawford Broadcasting WYDE out of Bham and Cullman was mostly playful, but now very serious. He is something of the latest incarnation of Lee Atwater, whose good hearted ignorance may make him even more sinister and dangerous.

     His circles as Ive come to understand Bama in the last 30 years make him a child of the fledgling Birch Society and Baptist politics of the late Albert Lee Smith, a bane of James Dunn and the Baptist Joint Committee on Church State Politics. It was Smith that everything suggests was part of the cabal of Crawford Broadcasting and birch society fundamentalism that held an Inquistion for Samford President Tom Corts in 93.

    Now Simms in his mid 30's best I can ascertained has cuted himself up hardwired to the Rick and bubba radio personalities of Shades Mtn Church and all are networked to Baptist Church of the Highlands and the 14 campuses, and mega church FBC Gardendale part of Adrian Rogers shadowy legacy.

     Yellowhammer and the radio program show signs of being underwritten by dark money of the NRA. The midday radio program on WYDE where his co host Scott Beason of FBC Gardendale, a failed candidate for US Congress, as well as Rick and bubba count among chief sponsor 21/31 arms of Morris Alabama, Faith Freedom and Firearms.

    It was Bircher Albert Lee Smith's widow Eunie Smith of the Bama chapter of Concerned Women of America who first introduced Scott Beason to Kansan Kris Kobach who wrote the Bama immigration bill that has propelled Jeff Sessions to an attorney general nominee. Duke Chaplain and UMC Bishop in Bama at the time Will Willimon called Sessions out on the matter in Jesus name comparing Sessions and Beason's immigration bill to the fugitive slave law. Google Willimon Repents, ethicsdaily.

     As never before the NRA dark money has a home in the Trump White House, Money and populist strategy sanctified in the fundamentalist Baptist faith.

      Simms and Rick and Bubba this past year had on air dust ups with SBC ERLC's Russ Moore.

      Simms as Atwater legacy goes has perfected his Baptist piety in the line of race baiting evolution Atwater spotlighted in Wuthnow's Rough Country. And the SBC of Bama no longer has the tools to speak to such chicanery and Biblical illiteracy.

    Rough profile here, maybe the New Yorker, Oxford American Magazine,  the Rolling Stone can dig deeper into this aspect this one of many poisonous pits of Trump's America.

Simms in his own words: