Wednesday, January 20, 2021

A triumph of the cause of democracy.

Here are contents of my first e-mail from the White House under the current administration. Let's just say that after 4 years of e-mails from He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named this is a VERY different sort of tone. Hallelujah! 

January 20, 2021
Inaugural Address by President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
As Prepared for Delivery
The United States Capitol
Chief Justice Roberts, Vice President Harris, Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer, Leader McConnell, Vice President Pence, distinguished guests, and my fellow Americans. 

This is America’s day.

This is democracy’s day. 

A day of history and hope.

Of renewal and resolve.

Through a crucible for the ages America has been tested anew and America has risen to the challenge. 

Today, we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate, but of a cause, the cause of democracy.

The will of the people has been heard and the will of the people has been heeded.

We have learned again that democracy is precious.

Democracy is fragile.

And at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.

So now, on this hallowed ground where just days ago violence sought to shake this Capitol’s very foundation, we come together as one nation, under God, indivisible, to carry out the peaceful transfer of power as we have for more than two centuries.
We look ahead in our uniquely American way – restless, bold, optimistic – and set our sights on the nation we know we can be and we must be.

I thank my predecessors of both parties for their presence here. 

I thank them from the bottom of my heart. 

You know the resilience of our Constitution and the strength of our nation. 

As does President Carter, who I spoke to last night but who cannot be with us today, but whom we salute for his lifetime of service. 

I have just taken the sacred oath each of these patriots took — an oath first sworn by George Washington. 

But the American story depends not on any one of us, not on some of us, but on all of us.

On “We the People” who seek a more perfect Union.

This is a great nation and we are a good people. 

Over the centuries through storm and strife, in peace and in war, we have come so far. But we still have far to go. 

We will press forward with speed and urgency, for we have much to do in this winter of peril and possibility.

Much to repair.

Much to restore.

Much to heal.

Much to build.

And much to gain. 

Few periods in our nation’s history have been more challenging or difficult than the one we’re in now.

A  once-in-a-century virus silently stalks the country. 

It’s taken as many lives in one year as America lost in all of World War II.

Millions of jobs have been lost.

Hundreds of thousands of businesses closed.

A cry for racial justice some 400 years in the making moves us. The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer.

A cry for survival comes from the planet itself. A cry that can’t be any more desperate or any more clear. 

And now, a rise in political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism that we must confront and we will defeat.

To overcome these challenges – to restore the soul and to secure the future of America – requires more than words. 

It requires that most elusive of things in a democracy: 



In another January in Washington, on New Year’s Day 1863, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. 

When he put pen to paper, the President said, “If my name ever goes down into history it will be for this act and my whole soul is in it.”

My whole soul is in it.

Today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this: 

Bringing America together. 

Uniting our people.  

And uniting our nation.

I ask every American to join me in this cause.

Uniting to fight the common foes we face: 

Anger, resentment, hatred.

Extremism, lawlessness, violence.

Disease, joblessness, hopelessness.

With unity we can do great things. Important things.

We can right wrongs.

We can put people to work in good jobs.

We can teach our children in safe schools.

We can overcome this deadly virus.

We can reward work, rebuild the middle class, and make health care 
secure for all.

We can deliver racial justice.

We can make America, once again, the leading force for good in the world.

I know speaking of unity can sound to some like a foolish fantasy. 
I know the forces that divide us are deep and they are real.

But I also know they are not new. 

Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal that we are all created equal and the harsh, ugly reality that racism, nativism, fear, and demonization have long torn us apart.

The battle is perennial. 

Victory is never assured.

Through the Civil War, the Great Depression, World War, 9/11, through struggle, sacrifice, and setbacks, our “better angels” have always prevailed. 

In each of these moments, enough of us came together to carry all of us forward.

And, we can do so now. 

History, faith, and reason show the way, the way of unity.

We can see each other not as adversaries but as neighbors.

We can treat each other with dignity and respect.

We can join forces, stop the shouting, and lower the temperature.

For without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury.

No progress, only exhausting outrage.

No nation, only a state of chaos.

This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the path forward. 

And, we must meet this moment as the United States of America. 

If we do that, I guarantee you, we will not fail.

We have never, ever, ever failed in America when we have acted together.

And so today, at this time and in this place, let us start afresh.

All of us.

Let us listen to one another.

Hear one another. 
See one another.

Show respect to one another.

Politics need not be a raging fire destroying everything in its path.

Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war.

And, we must reject a culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured. 

My fellow Americans, we have to be different than this. 

America has to be better than this. 

And, I believe America is better than this.

Just look around.

Here we stand, in the shadow of a Capitol dome that was completed amid the Civil War, when the Union itself hung in the balance. 

Yet we endured and we prevailed.

Here we stand looking out to the great Mall where Dr. King spoke of his dream.

Here we stand, where 108 years ago at another inaugural, thousands of protestors tried to block brave women from marching for the right to vote. 

Today, we mark the swearing-in of the first woman in American history elected to national office – Vice President Kamala Harris.

Don’t tell me things can’t change. 

Here we stand across the Potomac from Arlington National Cemetery, where heroes who gave the last full measure of devotion rest in eternal peace. 

And here we stand, just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people, to stop the work of our democracy, and to drive us from this sacred ground. 

That did not happen.

It will never happen.

Not today. 

Not tomorrow. 

Not ever. 

To all those who supported our campaign I am humbled by the faith you have placed in us.

To all those who did not support us, let me say this: Hear me out as we move forward. Take a measure of me and my heart. 

And if you still disagree, so be it. 

That’s democracy. That’s America. The right to dissent peaceably, within the guardrails of our Republic, is perhaps our nation’s greatest strength.

Yet hear me clearly: Disagreement must not lead to disunion.

And I pledge this to you: I will be a President for all Americans. 

I will fight as hard for those who did not support me as for those who did.

Many centuries ago, Saint Augustine, a saint of my church, wrote that a people was a multitude defined by the common objects of their love.

What are the common objects we love that define us as Americans?

I think I know.







And, yes, the truth.

Recent weeks and months have taught us a painful lesson.

There is truth and there are lies.

Lies told for power and for profit.

And each of us has a duty and responsibility, as citizens, as Americans, and especially as leaders – leaders who have pledged to honor our Constitution and protect our nation — to defend the truth and to defeat the lies.

I understand that many Americans view the future with some fear and trepidation. 

I understand they worry about their jobs, about taking care of their families, about what comes next.

I get it. 

But the answer is not to turn inward, to retreat into competing factions, distrusting those who don’t look like you do, or worship the way you do, or don’t get their news from the same sources you do. 

We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal. 

We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts.

If we show a little tolerance and humility.

If we’re willing to stand in the other person’s shoes just for a moment.
Because here is the thing about life: There is no accounting for what fate will deal you. 

There are some days when we need a hand. 

There are other days when we’re called on to lend one.

That is how we must be with one another.

And, if we are this way, our country will be stronger, more prosperous, more ready for the future. 

My fellow Americans, in the work ahead of us, we will need each other. 

We will need all our strength to persevere through this dark winter. 

We are entering what may well be the toughest and deadliest period of the virus. 

We must set aside the politics and finally face this pandemic as one nation. 

I promise you this: as the Bible says weeping may endure for a night but joy cometh in the morning. 

We will get through this, together

The world is watching today. 

So here is my message to those beyond our borders: America has been tested and we have come out stronger for it. 

We will repair our alliances and engage with the world once again. 

Not to meet yesterday’s challenges, but today’s and tomorrow’s.  

We will lead not merely by the example of our power but by the power of our example.

We will be a strong and trusted partner for peace, progress, and security.

We have been through so much in this nation.

And, in my first act as President, I would like to ask you to join me in a moment of silent prayer to remember all those we lost this past year to the pandemic. 

To those 400,000 fellow Americans – mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, sons and daughters, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. 

We will honor them by becoming the people and nation we know we can and should be. 

Let us say a silent prayer for those who lost their lives, for those they left behind, and for our country. 


This is a time of testing. 

We face an attack on democracy and on truth.

A raging virus.

Growing inequity.

The sting of systemic racism.

A climate in crisis.

America’s role in the world.

Any one of these would be enough to challenge us in profound ways.

But the fact is we face them all at once, presenting this nation with the gravest of responsibilities. 

Now we must step up. 

All of us. 

It is a time for boldness, for there is so much to do.

And, this is certain. 

We will be judged, you and I, for how we resolve the cascading crises of our era. 

Will we rise to the occasion? 

Will we master this rare and difficult hour? 

Will we meet our obligations and pass along a new and better world for our children?

I believe we must and I believe we will. 

And when we do, we will write the next chapter in the American story. 

It’s a story that might sound something like a song that means a lot to me. 

It’s called “American Anthem” and there is one verse stands out for me: 

“The work and prayers
of centuries have brought us to this day
What shall be our legacy?
What will our children say?...
Let me know in my heart
When my days are through
I gave my best to you.”

Let us add our own work and prayers to the unfolding story of our nation.

If we do this then when our days are through our children and our children’s children will say of us they gave their best. 

They did their duty.

They healed a broken land.
My fellow Americans, I close today where I began, with a sacred oath.

Before God and all of you I give you my word.

I will always level with you.

I will defend the Constitution.

I will defend our democracy.

I will defend America.

I will give my all in your service thinking not of power, but of possibilities.

Not of personal interest, but of the public good. 

And together, we shall write an American story of hope, not fear.

Of unity, not division.

Of light, not darkness.

An American story of decency and dignity.

Of love and of healing. 

Of greatness and of goodness.

May this be the story that guides us.

The story that inspires us.

The story that tells ages yet to come that we answered the call of history.

We met the moment.

That democracy and hope, truth and justice, did not die on our watch but thrived.

That our America secured liberty at home and stood once again as a beacon to the world.

That is what we owe our forebearers, one another, and generations to follow.

So, with purpose and resolve we turn to the tasks of our time. 

Sustained by faith. 

Driven by conviction.

And, devoted to one another and to this country we love with all our hearts.

May God bless America and may God protect our troops.

Thank you, America.
The White House · 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW · Washington, DC 20500 · USA · 202-456-1111

Twelve Years Ago...

 Can you believe it has been twelve years?! 

Twelve years ago I wrote...


President Barack Hussein Obama

I believe President Obama will be one of the outstanding Presidents of my lifetime. But whatever occurs over the next four or eight years, this day will live in the memories of Americans as one of the most happy moments of our history.
We are beginning to live the dream.

God bless the memory of Charity Stinchcomb and all those who lived as slaves.
God bless the memory of Rosa Parks.
God bless the memory of those little children mistreated
as they integrated schools in the fifties and sixties.
God bless the memory of Medger Evers.
God bless the memory of those three boys in Philiadelphia, Mississippi.
God bless the memory of Dr. King.
God bless the memory of Silas McComb.
God bless the memory of Solomon Lasoi.

God bless this good man, our President.

God bless America.


Barack Obama turned out to be the greatest president of my adult life. Despite the despicable and determined campaign to stop his every success, he led a scandal free, progressive, patriotic, and groundbreaking administration. 

It is one of the great tragedies of our history that the presidency of this great man was immediately followed by the illegitimacy and vile criminality of his successor and that successor's enablers.

Today, Barack Obama's partner, Joe Biden, takes the reins as our servant, our unitary executive. He has, for now, the support of a slim majority in Congress and a huge majority of the American people.

He understands history. 

He reads, 

He knows what he knows and knows that he does not know it all. 

He knows that We the People are in charge and that he works for us. 

He will listen to anyone and everyone and will make decisions not for purely political reasons but to fulfill his oath. 

Like Barack Obama and all of his predecessors save one he has read and studied the Constitution of the United States. 

He understood the following words and swore them seriously when he declared:

"I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

We have a real President of the United States again.

God bless America.


For four years I have worked toward this day. 

The bloodstain on our history that is the legacy of The One Who Shall Not Be Named will never be completely cleansed from our history, but the wound has been stanched, and its assailant removed from our White House. 

Our republic is, for now, in the process of healing. It is still hurting. There is still much to do. But hope has returned to our body politic. 

We the People are on the mend.

We are celebrating today!

This picture is from the Fourth of July several years ago. 

I put out the bunting again for January 20, 2021 to celebrate Inauguration Day and the restoration of republican values to our executive branch that has already started but becomes official as this is posted.

Our house decked out for this morning in America

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Another reason for Shaws to rejoice tomorrow...

We are so proud of our young friend Carlyn Reichel. 

Here's the article in this morning's Rome News-Tribune with a headline stretched all the way across the top of page one ...

Carlyn's service for America in the Biden-Harris administration.

We always knew that Carlyn's heart, her brilliant mind, and her work ethic would take her far. We have been thrilled to see her work with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during President Obama's first administration and then with Vice President Biden during the second administration and after. She even occasionally wrote remarks for President Obama himself. Now I will sleep more soundly than I have in four years knowing, not only that we have a patriotic and serious president with a strong national security team, but that someone we know personally and trust implicitly is part of that team. Congratulations, Carlyn Reichel!

Carlyn has been a part of our lives since she and Brannon were cute little "birds" together in a production at Rome Little Theater and then fifth-grade classmates at Elm Street School. Several other RLT joint appearances followed. They remained close friends through elementary and middle schools and then many Rome High theatrical and choral performances right through their work on the "Howling" at the end of their senior year.  

Carlyn's Mom, Sharon, became our dear friend. She was also a teacher at Rome High School and a dedicated part of the Rome Symphony Chorus and then the Rome Festival Singers. A few years ago she moved to DC to be nearer her children and grandchildren. We miss her.

Carlin's late father Charles was beloved by all. After a career as a Lutheran pastor and college professor and administrator he was head of the National Creative Society here in Rome at the time of his sudden death in 2010. I remember that back in the 80s, when I taught in the program for gifted students in Floyd County Schools, Charles was a leader among the parents of the kids in that program.

Among those very gifted former students of mine are Carlyn's older siblings Cara and Carsten.

Cara is a wonderfully talented theatrical producer, director, writer, and actor. She and her husband Pete Mills have written and/or produced many wonderful musicals through their Prospect Theater Company in New York City. One of my thrills was singing with her company in a musical revue by Prospect at Rome Little Theatre. It was my first opportunity to perform "Lily's Eyes" the dramatic and soaring duet from The Secret Garden. (I later reprised that performance as Archibald Craven in a Sam Baltzer and Brian Sikes production of the full musical at Rome City Auditorium.)

Mischievous little Carsten has grown up to become a federal prosecutor with the Department of Justice in our nation's capital as well as a husband and daddy.

Here' is the most recent picture I could find this morning of Carlyn with Brannon and their mutual high school buddy, Rene Hickman, in 2016 at Brannon's wedding.

But we remember Carlyn as Brannon's precocious friend skating with her along the levee near our house, "trodding the boards" with her at Rome Little Theater, and growing with her into a beautiful and talented and caring young woman through their high school years.

Here are few pictures I found this morning:

Brannon and Carlyn performing in a play at Rome High.

Strapping on the inline skates...

Skating on the old levee Riverwalk. Notice the City Clock in the distance.

Do you remember when the Riverwalks were all at the base of the levees rather than the tops? This is behind our house upstream of the Turner-McCall bridge over the Oostanaula.

Heading back up the levee toward the house.

Our niece Lisette, Carlyn, and Brannon after their Rome High graduation ceremony. 

Monday, January 18, 2021

A Virtual Walk for Peace and Justice

For about twenty years on the Monday of the Martin Luther King Jr weekend I have joined like-minded folks to walk from First Avenue, in sight of the Confederate memorial, up a Broad Street filled with nearly sixty years of my memories to the Rome City Auditorium. I have written about that meaningful mile several times. 

This morning I listened to one of my favorite podcasts, "Words Matter", and heard MLK's own voice reading his famous "Letter From the Birmingham Jail". I knew immediately that that recording needed to be my post for this day. Please give his words a listen this morning. Much of it can apply to the situation we find ourselves today decades later when fascism and racism has raised its ugly head so bloodily at our Capitol building with incitement from our president. 

Sheila and I will meet Lillian and other family members later this morning at a graveside service for her cousin Thyle Trawick who died this week, so we may have had to miss the march anyway today, but I hate that the pandemic has stolen another important moment from us. 

Here are links to a few previous posts ...

Walking for Peace and Justice - 2006

MLK March - 2007

President Carter's Remarks at Coretta King's Funeral

Cruelly Treated

Friday, January 15, 2021

Daddy Warned Me About Fascim

I am conflicted. 

I am gloriously happy. 

I am deeply sad. 

I am righteously angry. 

I am completely exhausted. 

I am so proud of my state. 

I am so ashamed of some of my neighbors, relatives, and friends.

After working so hard, hoping against hope, for months on end to save our republic from the Trumpists by helping elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff we have amazingly triumphed! We have a Democratic House, a Democratic Senate, A Democratic President. Two Democratic Senators from Georgia. I am thrilled.

There are folks I truly love who are still supporting what I consider outright evil. I do not believe THEY are evil; I believe they are tragically deceived and/or else blindly loyal to undeserving, even evil, leaders. I am literally nauseated sometimes when I see their fact-free posts spreading Trumpian lies. How that tempers my joy.

How do I express myself, help call out the evil, hold those who incited and/or committed these atrocities responsible, and still maintain relationships with folks I love who have chosen to excuse the inexcusable?. 

One of the great regrets of my life is that, as an adult, I never had a conversation with Daddy about his experiences in World War Two. 

Oh we had some brief stories about about my Mother's visit at Camp Pendleton in California before he shipped out to the Pacific. But we did have a converstaion about it when I was about 12 or 13. 

Daddy's home office was in what may have once been the second auto bay of our garage in the parsonage where we lived in Ellijay. Daddy was pastor at Watkins Memorial, the Methodist church in Ellijay, just off the square. To get to Daddy's little office you went out the back door from our kitchen into what we called the "breezeway" then through the garage to the office.

During the war Daddy had taken up photography and had taken and developed and printed photos which he kept in a small album. I saw that album many times. It included a lot of pictures from Ulithi -- if you don't know the story of Ulithi you need to read it -- including shots of the grass-roofed huts, island women walking around without tops, native men in traditional dress, he and his buddies posing disrespectfully with captured Japanese flags, himself with a cigarette in his hand, etc. 

But there were also photos of the bodies of Japanese soldiers splayed awkwardly in ditches. 

I don't really remember how the topic came up. Perhaps I brought it up, or maybe he did. Just the two of us were in that little office and I remember that Daddy became very serious, even somber. In that one conversation Daddy allowed himself to describe very graphically some of the cruelty and depravity of the Japanese in the Pacific where he fought and of the fascists in Europe where two of my mother's brothers put their lives on the line. I think he wanted me to know the importance and justice of the risk he took, half a world away from his young wife and two little girls. I was terrified and nauseated especially by the his second-hand description of atrocities he had heard about from those who liberated Nazi concentration camps. 

Here's a snippet of film from Ulithi in 1944 as my Daddy might have seen the (at the time) largest naval base in the history of planet Earth.

Last Wednesday our current President who, his first wife reportedly said, kept a book of Hitler's speeches near his bed, incited a huge group of white supremacists,

QAnon extremists,

and American fascists attack our capitol. 

They planted pipe bombs, erected gallows, carried zip-ties often used as handcuffs, wore Nazi slogans on clothing and tattoos, shouted threats to hang the vice president, destroyed a memorial to John Lewis, beat Capitol police -- murdering one by bashing his head with a fire extinguisher. AFTER that obscene assault on our republic a BUNCH of Republicans (so-called) STILL voted to overthrow our republican election of 2020.

Daddy died in 1986. I cannot know how he would have been affected by the events that have occurred in America during the last 35 years. Perhaps he would have been influenced as some others have been to believe the unbelievable and excuse the inexcusable. I'm sure I have relatives who will go to their graves believing Daddy would have been on Trump's side. I don't believe that. I do not believe my Daddy went through the hell of World War Two so that we could let traitorous cowards like Donald John Trump trash our republican traditions, our elections, our Constitution. That some of the very ones for whom Daddy sacrificed so much in 1944 and 1945 and whom I still love and in other ways admire, now support the fascistic, supremacist, autocratic wannabe is -- literally --nauseating. 

I would point out that the TWO great Presidents of the United States who were my daddy's commanders-in-chief (FDR & Harry Truman) were BOTH Democratic presidents, like Joe Biden and Barack Obama NOT socialists. And like the great commander and future great president whose wartime biography Daddy gave to me when I was in fourth-grade (Ike) they were supporters of Social Security, unions, the GI Bill and other stuff labeled (deceitfully) in those days by the right-wing extremists of the day as Socialist or even Communist. Being labeled by John Birchers and their intellectual successors as "Socialist" or "Communist" or "fellow traveler" did not make Ike, or Harry, or FDR any of those things. Liberal Democrats believe in capitalism tempered by regulation and programs to protect and promote the common good.

I was first called a "Communist" during the 1968 campaign because of my support of (get this!) Hubert Humphrey. I was recently, half a century later, screamed at, thrown middle fingers, called words I choose not to repeat here shouted from dozens of threatening screeching trucks flying MAGA, rebel, and American flags emblazoned with political messages, all because I, with many other patriotic friends, peacefully promoted the election of Joe Biden, one of the most beloved by BOTH sides of any U.S. Senator or Vice President in our history. 

I am so proud of Daddy for the sacrifices he made for our republic. And I have placed my hand on my heart and sworn my allegiance to that republic hundreds of times. I have done my best to live up to that pledge during these five horrible years of watching the rise and reign of Donald John Trump. During these terrifying years I have watched supposed conservative patriots bow to, excuse, promote, defend, and even extol the closest thing we have ever had to a fascist in our White House.

My Daddy warned me about fascism. 

Friday, January 08, 2021

Assault on Our Republic

An Open Letter to Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene:

As your constituent for a few days now, and your neighbor since you decided to move to Rome so you could run for Congress from our district, I hold you accountable for your public behavior. What interesting and disappointing behavior it has been. 

During the campaign and during the aftermath of the election you contributed to fanning the flames of discord and contributed to an assault that, like the British invasion of 1814, damaged our temple of liberty, the Capitol. The irresponsibility of that mob and those who incited them took the lives of at least five Americans and injured many more. The reputation of our republic is stained.

Thugs --- flying our Star-Spangled Banner alongside MAGA and Confederate flags, and wearing Nazi and supremacist slogans and Red Hats --- did not just spontaneously appear. They were incited by easily debunked myths of thousands of 17-year-old voters, of shredded ballots, of electronic manipulation of votes, and of a grand nation-wide conspiracy that according to the myth fraudulently, somehow, defeated Donald Trump  despite the same ballots miraculously electing you and other Republicans.

Who spread these untruths? 

Primarily it was the President. But he could have been corrected and this corrosive anger assuaged and calmed by principled Republicans who listened, as Lincoln implored, to the better angels of our natures. That did not happen.  Often — instead of correcting false claims and helping your impassioned supporters accept the truth, you chose to amplify the discord and stir the venom.

Congresswoman Greene, throughout your campaign, and in the days since swearing allegiance to the grand goals of the Preamble and the principles of the seven articles and twenty-seven Amendments, you have promulgated conspiracy theories and election fraud fantasies. Perhaps they seemed harmless ploys that would set you apart, garner attention, and help get you elected.  

Those tales were not harmless, Mrs. Greene; we know that now don’t we?

For better or worse you are our representative under the dome that Lincoln built, in the building where Adams and Clay and Webster and many other greats have served, where Lincoln and Roosevelt and Kennedy and John Lewis and other heroes have lain in state. You, our representative, stood by as our President spread untruths and ginned up anger. You spread some yourself. 

It is my sincere hope that order, civility, and truth can return to the halls of our Congress and our executive branch. You have only just begun but you’ve seen the harm done to the body politick by such poisonous rhetoric. I beg you to change your ways.

Bring honor back to Congress. Admit your mistake. Call on the President to accept responsibility by resigning immediately. Failing that call for the invocation of the 25th Amendment or impeach him and support his removal. 

Enough is enough.

Wednesday, January 06, 2021


I had intended to write about this day and our tradition of taking down our Christmas decorations on Three Kings Day. We have not touched those decorations today. We, like all of America, have had other things on our minds. But surely today was an epiphany of a different sort. Today our eyes, if they weren't already, were opened to the fathomless evil of our president and some of his supporters. 

If you still uphold the crazed claims of that president after the Epiphany of January 6, 2021, then I say from the bottom of my heart, "Shame on you."

FDR's Speeches

I really enjoyed these podcasts and have copied the links and info here to save them for later. For the few who occasionally check out my blog, you might enjoy these. I want to read one of Kaye's books.

Words Matter podcast: FDR's Speeches (part 1)

FDR on Democracy with Professor Harvey Kaye - Part 1

Season 3Ep. 52

This week we welcome historian and sociologist Harvey J. Kaye for Part 1 of our discussion of his important book FDR on Democracy: The Greatest Speeches and Writings of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Harvey J. Kaye is Professor Emeritus of Democracy and Justice Studies and Director of the Center for History and Social Change at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

An award-winning author and writer, he has written 9 books – including:

Follow Professor Kaye on Twitter @harveyjkaye

Words Matter podcast: FDR's Speeches (part 2)

FDR on Democracy with Professor Harvey Kaye - Part 2

Season 4Ep. 1

This week we welcome back historian and sociologist Harvey J. Kaye for Part 2 of our discussion of his important book FDR on Democracy: The Greatest Speeches and Writings of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Harvey J. Kaye is Professor Emeritus of Democracy and Justice Studies and Director of the Center for History and Social Change at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

An award-winning author and writer, he has written 9 books – including:

Warnock & Ossoff

I think it was Larry Sabato who said if "Day of" ballots numbered more than a million the Sedition Caucus (Loeffler & Perdue) would win. He was wrong. 

While it's not over, the outstanding ballots (imo) should give each Democrat a net of at least 10,000 more votes. While there WAS a big turnout, it was a big turnout of red AND blue, as was the November election. Over 4 million voters in a run-off. As a small-r republican I celebrate that. It means we can more truly proclaim: We the People have spoken.

Why did I work so hard for months to help win this race?

Brannon and John and Lillian and Ruthie and Clemmie and Sheila, and Mother and all my family
And my former student Shayne's memory, and for all those other kids I taught over the years even those who voted the other way. and especially those who are black or Muslim or Jewish or gay or latino or immigrant
For Charity Stinchcomb's memory. And John Lewis's.
For America.
For the Oostanaula and all its tributaries and all the other watersheds of this beautiful earth.
For several relatives and friends and even folks I don't know who have serious health issues -- even if they voted differently
For everyone who has had or will have or would have had Covid
For the public schools where I spent my career
For art and music and storytelling
For the wonderful lady who I just met yesterday who is homebound and expected a absentee ballot like she got in November but for whom we could not get a ballot at this late day; she wanted so to vote for Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff and Daniel Blackman. And the grandmother I met last week in Polk County who was so appreciative that I was able to help her get her "rejected" signature approved so her vote counted toward this victory
For campaigns that do not rely on insult or lies
For all my fellow Democratic Party stalwarts who have had "Socialist!" "Communist!" yelled at them. I was first caled a communist in 1968 because I supported Hubert Humphrey (an ardent anti-communist BTW). No we are neither of those things. We are generally FDR/Obama liberals
For me, dadgum it, I am so proud to have been a very tiny part of this effort for these two good men

Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff will do us proud.

Tuesday, January 05, 2021

The 2020 Overtime

Well the 2020 voting stops in two hours --- 4 days and 19 hours of overtime. And though the voting stops the counting will go on till 4 million or so of run-off votes have been awarded as We the People of Georgia have intended. As a volunteer for the Democratic Voter Protection Team for Floyd County I will join Republican volunteers to monitor the paid staff of the Floyd County Elections office as they begin the election day tabulation of ballots. It will likely be a long night and a few long days for Elections staff and the Republican and Democratic monitors.  

Let me state this as firmly as I can: 

If you use reasonable care in marking your absentee ballot, or in touching the screen and checking the printout of your electronic ballot, your vote will be counted as you intended. 

I am very impressed with the security and accuracy safeguards built into our system; it is a vast improvement over the system it replaces. Those who claim there were major flaws in the system during the November election or this one are either ignorant of it, gullibly accepting information from untrustworthy sources, or dishonest. Period. 

Now, that does not mean that there are not external forces that work to unfairly influence voters or suppress voting. Those are ongoing issues that must be addressed: Gerrymandering, foreign interference through social media to influence votes, gross lies from some political leaders, voters because of slight signature differences, limiting hours or locations for voting in some neighborhoods and not in others, etc. BUT the voting system itself is an excellent one. 

I have raised my hand multiple times now to swear to fairly and appropriately monitor or count or adjudicate ballots. I have watched the process, along with Republican monitors, for hour after hour during all sorts of preparation, scanning, adjudication, counts, audits, and recounts. Every one involved has seemed dedicated to doing a good job. We had a few technical issues which were handled correcly and well, and, unfortunately one truly bone-headed mistake, but NEVER a purposeful mistake and every mistake was reported and corrected quickly. 

I do not know whether my candidates (Warnock and Ossoff) or the Sedition Caucus (Loeffler and Perdue) will win tonight. 

I will vomit if the liars win, but I will know that despite their loathsome "socialist" mudslinging and their fawning approval of Donald Trump's efforts to overthrow our republic, the people of Georgia will have voted for them. 

Likewise if, as I hope hope hope hope, the good guys win, I will celebrate the FACT that Georgia voted for the good guys. 

Our politics are broken, but our voting system is reliable.

The Twelfth Day of Christmas

Several years ago I asked Mother to suggest a song for my post for the twelfth day of Christmas. We agreed on this joyful standard. At youTube I discovered a number of nice versions and one awful one (Michael Bolton with an unenthusiastic Placido Domingo singing backup). I considered using a different Mormon Tabernacle Choir performance, but they sang "saints and nature sing" in place of "heaven and nature sing" -- what's with that?

For Epiphany, here is the Mormon Tabernacle Choir with Renee Fleming presenting musical gold, frankincense, and myrrh. What better way to close the Christmas season than with a rousing declaration of Joy to the World?

Monday, January 04, 2021

The Eleventh Day of Christmas


I love this carol. I have sung it many times myself. Here it is sung by Kenny Rogers, whom we lost this year, with Allison Krauss. 

Sunday, January 03, 2021

The Tenth Day of Christmas

(An earlier version of this post was published 12-15-2008) 

In 2008 Jack invited me to his church to see him in their Christmas pageant. It wasn't often during my career that a fourth-grader would so formally ask my presence at a weekend event. I asked if he had lines.

 "Yes", he admitted, "several". 

He didn't mention a song. He seemed so serious, yet humble in his request, I thought I just might do it. 

As Sheila and I were waiting for our soup and sandwich lunches at Panera that weekend Jack & his mom popped up to repeat his request and I decided to really make the effort. 

I'm so glad I did. 

The large Baptist church was nearly filled that Sunday night. The center chancel area was stacked with three tall tiers for a choir of about thirty. An inn door was erected on stage left and the adjacent stable at stage right. The lighting, sound, costumes, and sets were elaborate. 

The pastor talked about the Christmas story with a small group of children gathered at his feet as the lights revealed Isaiah for a monologue, then the desperate couple wandered through the congregation seeking a room, finally having to settle for the stable. Gabriel startled everyone with sudden appearances. Between scenes the choir beautifully sang "Lo, How a Rose" and "Silent Night" and other carols. Then the shepherds were surprised by Gabriel and his host (the choir). 

Jack is the smallest shepherd. My quiet 9-year-old student delivers his lines with conviction and abandon! .. and even humor. 

When the other shepherds visit the stable, someone must stay with the sheep. Jack's lack of seniority, I suppose, condemns him to that role. And that's when I get my surprise. 

Jack as the smallest shepherd gets to imagine what he would present the newborn king with Christina Rosetti's words as he sings (beautifully!) an excerpt (the last two stanzas I think) of the beautiful poem/carol "In the Bleak Mid-winter".

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan;
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

Our God, heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain,
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty —
Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk
And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom Angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Which adore.

Angels and Archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air;
But only His Mother
In her maiden bliss
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss.

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am? —
If I were a Shepherd
I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man
I would do my part, —
Yet what I can I give Him, —
Give my heart.


- Christina Rossetti
I wish I could let you hear little fourth grade Jack sing, but James Taylor or Susan Boyle will have to do. 

Sheila and I listen to James Taylor sing this several times during the Christmas season each year.

I also love to hear Susan Boyle's clear voice sing this song.

(First version of this post 12-15-2008)

Saturday, January 02, 2021

The Ninth Day of Christmas: O Holy Night

I have sung this beautiful song several times at Christmas Eve services. It is definitely a favorite.  My voice has low notes for a tenor or high notes for a baritone, I'm not sure. O Holy Night tests the range.

Here is Josh Groban's rendition from a 2006 performance at the Rockefeller Center tree lighting program.

Friday, January 01, 2021

The Eighth Day of Christmas: The Christmas Song

Another Christmas song written by a Jewish fellow. Mel Torme wrote this. 

Here is my recording of it.

Here the composer sings it on TV with Judy Garland  --- Do you suppose she intentionally substituted "rainbows" for "reindeers" ? --- with some scat and harmonies and other extra stuff:

The Christmas Song (Mel & Judy)

Here Ricky Nelson sings it on the old Ozzie and Harriet show:

The Christmas Song (Ricky Nelson)

And here's the one we listen to while decorating the tree almost every year:

The Christmas Song (James Taylor)