The Kudzu Kronicle

Because not all Southerners are the same

Pause the boycott, kick off those New Balance sneakers and enjoy a Kirk Cameron movie

Another week, another boycott. Yawn.

That was me yawning, not Nike, of course. The folks at Nike are jumping up and down and yelling because their sales are soaring. I don’t think it has anything to do with the Colin Kaepernick ad. It likely has more to do with folks who just like to see boycotty snowflakes melt with rage and have fun making it happen.

I admit that I do like to see snowflakes melt — and I’ve found over the last few years that the folks who scream “SNOWFLAKE!” the loudest are often the most easily offended and always feel persecuted. Yes, it is so hard being a straight white male from a long line of privilege. It’s like time-honored values such as misogyny, racism and homophobia are just fading by the wayside. Awww.

I don’t like to see snowflakes melt enough to go out and buy a Nike t-shirt, though. That’s kind of a personal thing with me. I just don’t like shilling for brands and corporations. Well, except Margaritaville. I’ve done enough shilling for that brand that Jimmy ought to let me have one of his retirement homes for free. I did head to the gym last week in a Nike t-shirt that my wife bought me just to see if some loud-mouthed snowflake might have something to say. Just out of curiosity, of course.

Boycotts are nothing new. The Montgomery Bus Boycott was just a little over 60 years ago — when America was “great” — and really helped accelerate the Civil Rights Movement. But lately boycotts have evolved into petty protestations that people do not think the same way you do. “MY THOUGHTS SHALL NEVER BE CHALLENGED!”

Lately right-wingers have boycotted — or at least said they were boycotting (but not really) — Netflix, the NFL, Nordstroms, Starbucks, Target, Anheuser-Busch, Macys, Nabisco, Amazon and Pepsi. Big deal. I’ve been boycotting Pepsi for years, but for the right reason — taste. And last I checked, Amazon is doing quite well as Jeff Bezos makes more money in a day than President Trump pays out daily to keep various women quiet. That is not fake news because I got it straight from an aninominunimous source inside the White House who guarantees Bezos makes more money in a day than that. He makes more money in a day than I will in 1,247 lifetimes. Continue reading

Feel free to ban me from your funeral

When it comes to funerals, I’d rather be golfing. No, that’s not a quote from President Trump, who got a few holes in while a lot of Americans were mourning both Sen. John McCain and Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin last week. That quote is from me. I really don’t enjoy funerals. Then again, my golf game is a mournful sort of event — especially for people who want to see eagles, birdies and pars instead of various multiples of bogeys.

Unfortunately, I’ve had to go to my share of funerals for family and friends over the years. In fact, in the 17,585 days I’ve been on this Earth, I’ve yet to have the good fortune to be banned from a funeral. There’s still time, though, so if you would like me banned from your funeral, act now. I won’t be offended, and you can never schedule your tee time too early.

Last week’s funerals also got me thinking about my own funeral. I’ve not scheduled it yet, so don’t get too excited, but I do agree with Sen. McCain’s insistence upon having a lot of input in your own funeral. Perhaps if Aretha Franklin had planned her funeral, it wouldn’t have been the disorganized mess it was this past Friday.

I also don’t want a funeral as looooong as Aretha’s. A lot of folks thought the most awkward part of the service was when that bishop fondled Ariana Grande on stage and made a stupid joke about her name, but I thought the most awkward part was six hours into it when Aretha sat up and said, “Can we we get on with it already? I got places to be!” Continue reading

Why I ain’t a Democrat … or a Republican

When you’re a white guy from the South with a Southern accent, a pickup truck, a shotgun and two — count ’em, two — Lynyrd Skynyrd t-shirts, folks around here assume you’re a Republican. They assume you’re a genuine, Obama-birth-certificate-doutin’, Hillary hatin’, Fox News lovin’, Trump-worshippin’ right-winger.

Well, I ain’t. I mean, I’m not. I buck that stereotype in these here parts. The thing about most stereotypes, though, is that they often are generally true. Most of the folks I know around here who fit that description are indeed right-wingers — some to the point of wearing a Q shirt and mumbling “lock her up” in their sleep.

The conservatives I know think I’m a Democrat. I ain’t. I mainly vote that way right now because I think the GOP has fallen down a hole while chasing a crazed orange rabbit. I consider myself an independent with my views ranging from left to right and averaging somewhere in the middle — which, granted, is a mighty lonely place these days. It’s hard to get folks fired up about moderation:

What do we want?!
Moderation!
When do we want it?!
At a reasonable juncture when it will effect necessary positive outcomes across a vast spectrum of interests and needs in a prudent fashion!
What do we … I’m sorry … what?

“Ha! You ain’t no moderate!” I can hear my right-wing friends saying. Not on every issue, no, but on some. And take that gun out of your mouth, Gomer.

So, where do I stray from some liberals? Well, here are a few areas: Continue reading

In this labor market, companies must make work more workable

American companies have long tried to figure out how to get more productivity out of their workers — so long as it doesn’t involve paying them more. Other than that, they’re open to all options — as long as those options are no different than the way they’ve always done things.

Recently there have been a lot of stories on companies — generally not American ones — that have experimented with 32-hour workweeks or retaining 40-hour workweeks but making it four 10-hour shifts instead of five eight-hour shifts. That’s a good start.

When I began working at the Ledger-Enquirer in 1997 as a copy editor, my schedule sounded fairly awful — Friday through Monday — so I had no weekend. But I did work four 10-hour days and had three straight days off, Tuesday through Thursday. Granted, it wasn’t uncommon to pull an overtime shift on one of those days, but when I did have three straight days off it felt like a mini-vacation and I was refreshed enough to get through a 35-inch story about a Harris County Commission meeting when I returned to the office.

Obviously not every company is designed to accommodate four 10-hour days, but many of those who’ve been able to pull it off have reported more productivity, less absenteeism and happier employees.

It seems to me that more American companies would consider such incentives in this tight labor market. The unemployment rate in the U.S. has been 5% or lower since December 2015 following the steady recovery from the Great Recession, meaning companies are fighting each other for the best employees. Continue reading

We can now replace the Supreme Court with a vending machine

I didn’t get caught up in President Trump’s game show hype about picking a replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy — the closest thing to a swing voter we had on the Supreme Court. We all knew it would be someone meeting the approval of The Federalist Society, Heritage Foundation and whatever combination of that is responsible for the bad guys in “The Handmaid’s Tale.” I admit I did hold out a grain of hope that Trump would keep “The Celebrity Appresident” interesting by nominating someone like Gallagher or Pee-Wee Herman, but no such luck.

Brett Kavanaugh will be easily confirmed, so the Democrats might should focus their energy on getting people to the polls instead of fighting in vain to stop him from being seated. Their apathetic voters and the people who think one party is just as evil as the other is the reason we will have a right-skewed Supreme Court for many years to come.

Conservatives want the court to have a majority of right-leaning justices, hopefully the kind so disinterested in counter arguments that they’ll be like Justice Clarence Thomas and not even ask questions or quit snoring during arguments. Liberals want the court to have a majority of left-leaning justices, the kind hated by the American Society of Christian Cake Bakers.

I, however, want the court to have nine swing voters. I want nine justices who may rule 9-0, 5-4 or 7-2. I want each case considered on its own merits in regard to the Constitution in context with a world 230 years older than the Constitution. I don’t want to see every outcome already determined before a case gets to the bench. If all the justices are going to adhere to predictable ideology, we might as well just have a vending machine for cases outside the court and save some time and money in the process:

“Please insert your case and 75 cents. Congratulations. Here is your 5-4 decision. Enjoy your oligarchy and have a nice day.” Continue reading

They’re real journalists — and they put out a damn paper

Let me be clear: I am not a journalist. I have a column that appears in a newspaper once a week. As I’ve told people, it’s like a movie “based on a true story” — and it’s somewhere between 1 and 99 percent true every time.

However, I did spend more than 20 years as a real journalist. I didn’t expose Iran-Contra. I didn’t bring down Nixon, and I didn’t uncover Clinton’s mess with Monica Lewinsky — although I had to read way too many stories about it and had to read the whole Starr Report when we printed it at the Ledger-Enquirer.

But, still, I was still a real journalist. I laid out thousands of pages and edited many thousands of stories at the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer and Americus Times-Recorder about murders, rezonings, business developments, new laws, council meetings, new plays, you name it. I laid out upcoming events, sports schedules, TV lineups, food inspections, church calendars and listings for civic and self-help groups. I tweaked the kerning on three lines of the NFL standings so it didn’t throw off your entire Standings & Scoreboard agate on page 2. I covered high school and college athletic contests, snapped thousands of photos and interviewed famous coaches like Vince Dooley and Dan Reeves, along with celebrities like Charlie Daniels and the legendary Bo Duke — er, I mean John Schneider. Continue reading

Larry David and I agree on a few things — especially small talk

One of my former bosses at the Ledger-Enquirer — whom I, with fond affection, called “Pork Chop” — kept trying to get me to watch some HBO show called “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” At the time, I didn’t even have HBO and barely watched any TV that wasn’t sports or news.  (Yes, kids, there was a time when there were news channels that told you what was happening in the world instead of offering perpetual punditry.)

I declined, but Pork Chop insisted: “No, you don’t understand! This guy is you! You have to see it.”

“The bald Jewish millionaire behind ‘Seinfeld’ is just like me, huh? Yeah sure.”

But Pork Chop and her husband finally brought in a stack of DVDs from the first few seasons of the show, and, sure enough, he was in many, many ways … me. Although, at the time, I had way better hair. Now, we’re getting more similar on that battle front, as well.

Larry and I agree on many issues — such as pretentiousness, politics, social norms, societal obligations, golf, political correctness, etc. And we definitely agree on avoiding small talk, which is the subject of this week’s column in the Ledger-Enquirer, linked below.

This week’s column in the Ledger-Enquirer

We desperately need a viable third party in this country

On most issues facing this country, I’m a centrist. On a few issues like health care, I’m a “Crazy Bernie” lefty. On issues like religious extremism, I’m a right-wing lunatic hawk. But, mostly, I’m a centrist … which means no party in D.C. is working for me.

Then again, I don’t have the riches to buy myself a politician the way Big Pharma, Big Banks, Big Oil and Big Everything Else can. They don’t seem interested in Big Broke. (Coincidentally, U.S. health care is working to keep me Big Broke, which is why I’m big on Bernie.)

Beyond the money controlling politics, the partisan divide with our two-party system has become extreme. From the day they take office, politicians are worried about the next election instead of governing. And the problem has become so fine-tuned that 51-49 is considered a mandate. Even when you lose a popular election by 3 million votes, you can claim a mandate.

So, once either party has control, governing takes a backseat to pushing hard-line agendas through “mandates.” When the two parties have divided power, we get gridlock. Sometimes we even get gridlock when there is division within a party as we see now with the GOP-led Congress. Continue reading

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