The Kudzu Kronicle

Because not all Southerners are the same

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Class is over; crass is in session

We can disagree on politics. We can disagree on building a wall or tearing down Obamacare. We can even disagree as to whether CNN is a fake news outlet. (Well, actually, no we can’t. It’s not.)

But we absolutely cannot disagree on which of the first families — the one leaving the White House or the one coming into it — has more class, decency and the kind of family values that so many evangelicals and others purport to espouse. The Obamas have handled unprecedented and unjustified disrespect with a grace that I’m not sure any other presidential family — Democrat, Republican or Whig — could have mustered. Donald Trump can’t even handle an SNL joke.

What’s most striking about the photo collage that I created above is the double-standard at play. Can you imagine the vitriolic hatred that would be spewed had the Obamas been pictured in the exact same way that the Trumps are as they were coming in to the White House? Flip-flop the roles in the photos, and the Trumps would be seen as restoring decency to the White House from a disgusting, trashy family. The problem is that even without flip-flopping the photos, many Trumpists still see decency being restored.

But that’s the kind of double-standards the Obamas have faced all along. It comes from the same people who thanked President Bush for “keeping us safe” but would have called for Obama’s head had 9/11 happened on his watch. I didn’t blame Bush then or now for 9/11, but you know that Obama would have been dragged out of D.C. by pitchfork-toting right-wing nutjobs and actual fake news consumers had it occurred under him. These are the same folks who would have hurled the worst kind of insults at Michelle Obama — perhaps the coolest first lady ever — if she had posed for the kinds of photo shoots Melania Trump has done.

I guess those kinds of folks look at this picture and see a “privileged” Obama family juxtaposed with simple, decent folks who relate to common Americans, a family led by a man who scratched and clawed and wisely bankruptcied and smartly tax-dodged his way to the top starting with a mere $1 million loan from daddy and a third wife who fell in love with Donald Trump for his charm and good orange looks.

Fact is: If you can put politics aside and still prefer the family on the left over the family on the right, fake news is not your biggest problem — that, my lost friend, would be delusion.


2017: The year in PREVIEW

For years, I’ve given my readers a sneak preview into the coming year. And, based on analyses provided by Russian intelligence agents, I’ve yet to be wrong about anything. Ever.

My 2017 year in preview was published Tuesday by the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, but if you’re like most Americans, you probably don’t — or can’t — read. So, for your listening pleasure, I’ve asked the Margaritahill Times audio department to provide a podcast version of the 2017 year in preview. You can hear it below:

Has CNN abandoned the news business for an all-Trump format?

I’ve got a crazy idea for a new television network. Bear with me because it’s kinda out there, like Ted Turner out there. But here’s my idea:

I think we need a 24-hour cable news network — all news, all the time. When something happens in the world, you can go to that channel to learn more about it. And, vice versa, if you’re not sure what important news is happening in the world, you can turn to that channel and learn what that might be.

What’s that you say? We already have 24-hour news channels? Oh, I beg to differ.

We used to have 24-hour news channels. Now, we have 24-hour punditry — on Fox News, on CNN and I assume on MSNBC, which I don’t watch. Everything now is a discussion and staging of right vs. left on every issue.

“Welcome to CNN Tonight, I’m Don Lemon. Tonight, Donald Trump has dinner with Mitt Romney. He had a grilled chicken sandwich and a kosher dill pickle. To my left is Fred Finklestein, who supports Vlassic Kosher Dills, and to my right is Sally Saltheimer, a Heinz Zesty Dill backer.” Continue reading

If it’s a whale of a story, check it out before sharing

When I started working at the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer in 1997, our newsroom had a beautiful view of the Chattahoochee River — a view that would later be blocked by a Synovus parking garage. One day, while a few newsroom staffers were gazing out a window toward the river and wishing they had normal 9-to-5 jobs, they noticed an unusual amount of folks flocking to the river.

It seems folks had come to see the baby killer whale that had swum all the way up the river, only to get stuck near the Eagle & Phenix Dam (which was blown up a few years ago to make way for the stunning whitewater that now flows there). Sure enough, there it was bobbing up and down. It was bobbing up and down, of course, because it was inflated plastic. It turned out to be a publicity stunt, and I guess it worked.

When I see folks post and share all kinds of incorrect information on social media, even more so during this crazy election season, I’m reminded that folks have always been gullible — it’s just that gullibility seems to be the norm and accepted and excused these days. Continue reading

Twenty-five years ago, the ink got in my veins for real in Valdosta

It’s hard to believe, but 25 years ago this month I became a full-time newspaperman, taking an entry-level sportswriting job down in Valdosta, Georgia — the high school football mecca just above the Florida state line.

Granted, I’d had part-time newspaper gigs for a couple of years before that as a sportswriter in Americus and Montezuma, but Valdosta was the first real job. It was owned by a company called Thomson Newspapers back then, which had a reputation for being cheap and paying terribly — which I found to be completely, 100 percent true.

But those couple of years in Valdosta were where I truly got my on-the-job training in such newspaper basics as pagination, eating at 24-7 diners, cussing and trash-can kicking. Valdosta truly is a beautiful community with some small-town charm and big-city conveniences, but not too much of either. And there’s nothing like a football Friday night in Valdosta, where I spent an awful lot of time at Martin Stadium and Hyder-Bazemore Field.

That was a long time ago, and I’ve forgotten more than I remember about those days, but there are a lot of folks that I won’t forget from those days, including: Continue reading

Fun with health insurance

Every since I had a serious car wreck in 2000, I’ve had too many pleasurable experiences with private health insurance companies to enumerate. Whether it’s not paying what they’re supposed to, inventing new bureaucratic potholes and red tape or just being the usual obstacle between you and your health, it’s always something. And ever since 2000, the rates have been going up.

This year I’m with a company called Coventry One, which was recently acquired by Satan’s Health Insurance, Inc. In an Obamacare sabotage state like Georgia, it’s more expensive than it is in places like Kentucky and Minnesota where their state government puts the welfare of its citizens over petty politics. Yet, I haven’t had any real disputes about their coverage because my general approach to America’s out of control, capitalist three-headed health care monster of Big Pharma, Private Insurance and Profit-Driven Care is to just not get sick, hurt, cough, sneeze or anything. I just go home and lock myself in a padded room.

But, I still have to pay a premium because (1) it’s the law and (2) a meteorite might slam into my padded room. Coventry One, however, gets real confused about processing these payments, and I’ve never had a problem with the three-headed monster taking money from me until now. For instance, I made a payment in April, they credited to my account, it never cleared, I called to ask if it was ever going to clear, they said sure and don’t worry about it, etc. It never cleared the bank, but Coventry shows it as fine. I made a payment earlier this month (June) and it did clear. But they say it didn’t. I’ve sent them proof to show it’s cleared and they won’t respond now except with automated calls to say I need to pay my June payment.

Perhaps I shouldn’t talk about them second-hand like that, though. Perhaps, I should just show you exactly what you can expect from their billing department. Enjoy! Continue reading

Guy Noir investigates the Braves

As if this whole new Atlanta Braves stadium wasn’t enough of a mess, now they’ve called in a private eye to look into this. Guy Noir’s report from the latest “Prairie Home Companion,” recorded Saturday at the Fox in Atlanta, starts about the 44-minute mark if you wanna skip ahead.

Five years into a new adventure

When I left the newspaper business full-time 5 years ago, the business had gotten very tough. You were either unemployed or extremely employed — and I had gotten extremely employed.  I was burned out, and so were many journalists I knew. Newspaper profits were declining if they existed at all, and the resources just weren’t there to get the job done anymore — yet the expectations of workers just became more onerous.

The whole do-more-with-less concept gets wearisome when it actually becomes do more, more, more with less, less, less. Newspaper executives who spent too much time in meetings even came up with ideas to improve the paper that actually made the jobs of myself and others — particularly copy editors and page designers — even more difficult and time-consuming. If they got any more “efficient,” we might never have gotten a paper out.

Like a lot of folks who had been in the newspaper business a long time, though, I felt stuck. I didn’t want to go into PR and sell stuff or spin stories for some corporation.  My skills were pretty limited to telling stories or conveying information in one form or another — not a lot of use for that on the railroad or assembly line.

Thank goodness I had a motivating factor to keep me looking. I was way over on the left side of Georgia in Columbus but had fallen for a pretty lady back in Middle Georgia. So, I kept looking for employment opportunities closer to my old stomping grounds. After months of searching and months of increasing head-butting with newspaper bosses, I stumbled across The Fuller Center for Housing, which was looking for a director of communications. Continue reading

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