Opinions

6/25/03


The True Citizen
P.O.Box 948
Waynesboro, GA
30830
(706) 554-2111
The Pledge of Allegiance

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one Nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Harold Rowland
The Cupboard Was Bare

Do you remember Old Mother Hubbard? She went to the cupboard to get her poor dog a bone. Getting there she found it empty so the pup was out of luck.

It always seemed strange to me that Mrs. Hubbard kept bones in her cupboard. Closest thing to a cupboard in my youth was grandma’s pie safe. There was never any bones in there, just tea cakes, country ham left from breakfast or last night’s supper, some biscuits, maybe some pie and a cake. I suppose Mrs. Hubbard might have put roast chicken or something in the cupboard that might be expected to yield a bone.

At any rate, the old lady’s cupboard came to mind when I read another warning that we are depleting the oceans of its largest species of fish. According to some surveys the population of these largest ocean fish has been reduced by some 90 percent. Even so, there are no international rules or protective measures to slow or reverse the rape of the high seas.
I have often wondered how long the earth’s resources could continue to support the burgeoning masses of its population? Take shrimp for instance. How many shrimp do you suppose are consumed in a single day of a human feeding frenzy? And consider poor old North Carolina, drowning in a sea of liquid waste from commercial hog farms. Keeping Mrs. Hubbard’s cupboard full of pork is polluting land and water and air.

This commercial farming of dwindling species seems the likely answer to human need but here, too, there are drawbacks and brewing crises. Hybrid salmon escaping from salmon farms are threatening the integrity of the wild salmon by interbreeding and eliminating some of the natural survival skills of the wild fish.

Aside from the cupboards of the world, how about the fuel tanks? Every time I hit an interstate I marvel at the endless flow of traffic. I wonder how many millions of gallons of oil and gasoline are being reduced to harmful emissions floating around in our pristine atmosphere? And how many more gallons of crude can there be left in the innards of this old planet?

Ever so often some politician mutters something about a new, clean, plentiful energy source. It usually winds up as some kind of boondoggle for one industry or another and winds up being less efficient and more expensive than petroleum. We pay lip service to the subtle crises developing all around us, but as long as we can find the bone in our cupboard we will do nothing about them.

Guess we are more like old Jack Sprat. Remember him? He could eat no fat and his wife could eat no lean but ‘twixt them both, they licked the platter clean.

"
You can reach me at Rowlandsr@aol.com.


Ben Roberts
The Forest Or The Trees
The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.
– Jack London


I got a letter from an old friend, Danny Mayer, last week. Like a lot of the people I am closest to, Danny and I let far too much time pass between our conversations. It’s been over a year since I’ve actually seen Danny and that was at his wedding last spring. We chalk it up to work and financial constraints and he being a newlywed.

Danny is working on his doctorate of English at the University of Kentucky. We first met when we worked together in a restaurant in Athens. Danny is by far the most well read person I have ever known, and over the years, we have each introduced the other to numerous writers and bands.

It was Danny who convinced me to move to Montana. So what if I didn’t have a job or a place to live. Those are minor details that work themselves out in Danny’s view. There’s too much to do, too much to see, to let such small things stand in the way. Not that it was a terribly difficult task, but Danny was a good salesman.

So I went. And Danny and I and another guy from Alabama holed up in a drafty old house in Missoula, Mont., where we struggled to pay the rent and keep the heat running. We all worked jobs in restaurants, and the highlight of the day was seeing what leftovers the other guy brought home. I worked in a nice Italian joint and provided fresh baked bread and pasta. Danny always brought home a bag of day-old baked potatoes.

Whenever one of us had a particular windfall to celebrate or if we just got the urge, the three of us would head to an old bar on the main street that had an honest-to-goodness Cajun kitchen in the back. The owner was actually from Louisiana. We’d eat gumbo and po boy sandwiches and whoever had the most money that week bought the pitchers of the cheapest beer the place would serve.

At the time, we thought we were suffering, like all aspiring writers are supposed to in their youth. Looking back now, I realize it was one of the freest times of my life. I have fond memories of those days and remember them often.

I truly trust only a handful of people’s opinions in this world, and Danny is certainly one of them. He has read numerous things that I’ve written and like any true friend he’s told me when I’ve failed to get something right or if I’ve missed the mark. And Danny is not someone who believes in giving unwarranted praise just for the sake of someone’s feelings.
He told me that he’s been reading my columns lately and that he’s actually enjoyed them – a compliment that I do not take lightly.

But Danny also gave me a word of warning: Don’t get too comfortable. Be careful not to forget the things you want to do. Remember your dreams. In Montana, we had a small front stoop, not quite a porch, but we’d sit on those steps and have discussions that lasted well into the wee hours. We were in the prime of our youths, 22 and 23 years old. We talked of the future that seemed so far away at the time. There were numerous dreams then, some still have the chance to come true and others are gone now, drifting away like the words we spoke.
Danny’s advice could not have come at a better time. Lately, I’ve felt the familiar confines of my life closing in like the walls of a room. I’m in a rut and I can’t seem to shake it. There are those old feelings that make you think even your skin is too tight. My work has suffered, things around the house have been left undone and you wonder just what the point of everything really is. More than once, I’ve thought about throwing a bag in the truck and heading south for Mexico.

Like a lot of folks, I’ve been so caught up in living lately that I’ve been missing out on life. Work and bills and grocery lists have all seemed to take up my life. Simple tasks that consume us and steal away our lives, minutes and hours at the time – time that quite frankly, could be better well spent.

The whole situation reminds me of a line from the movie, “The Shawshank Redemption,” where one character tells another that he’s got two choices in life: “Get busy living or get busy dying."
contact benr@thetruecitizen.com

Bill Shipp
Why Hillary Snubbed Zell

Hillary Rodham Clinton does not mention Zell Miller once in her best-selling, presidential-prepping memoir “Living History.” The Georgia senator must be disappointed. He also may wonder why he was left out.

Briefly, more than a decade ago, Miller was one of the most important people in the lives of Bill and Hillary Clinton. He provided a secret and secure haven for Hillary in the midst of an agonizing personal and political crisis – not to mention offering her a strong shoulder to cry on.
Miller delivered a rafter-rattling keynote speech to the 1992 Democratic National Convention, calling Bill Clinton “the only candidate for president who feels our pain, shares our hopes.”

His association with the Clintons goes back at least 25 years as both Bill and Zell served as lieutenant governor and governor of their respective states. They shared political strategies and handed off consultants to one another. Among them: James Carville, Ray Strother and Dick Morris. Today, Zell and Hillary serve side by side as members of the Senate.
From her book, however, you would never know she and Zell were once close, or even know each other.

Perhaps that is understandable. “Living History” is, in its way, a guidebook to Democratic political correctness. No political writer should be without it. Her roll call of friends, helpers and inspirations range from Sen. Ted Kennedy and Jackie Onassis to Mario Cuomo and Eleanor Roosevelt. Miller is not a good fit among the “perfect Democrats.” She even praises the double-agent adviser Dick Morris for his good works for Clinton and writes in almost glowing terms of the wild-man Carville.

She takes hard shots at the likes of former Speaker Newt Gingrich, special Whitewater counsel Kenneth Starr and former Sen. Al D’Amato. She paints the black hats in vivid colors of meanness. Of course, Miller can’t be listed in the villains’ column either. So gray-hat Miller is just plain missing in action from the pages of “Living History.” Perhaps remembering the Zell Miller of 1992 was too painful. Hillary was staying (some say hiding out) in the Georgia Governor’s Mansion in early 1992 when the Gennifer Flowers sex scandal broke. In fact, Hillary was sitting at Zell’s side watching TV news when word of the relationship between Gennifer and Bill was first broadcast nationally. Miller would never discuss how Hillary reacted, except to say that he was one of her “biggest fans” and that he admired her strength.
Miller was always happy to recount how he went to bat for Bill Clinton in the Georgia presidential primary that year, persuading Democratic stalwarts such as Sam Nunn to cast aside doubts and support Clinton. Miller almost single-handedly stopped the momentum of the on-rushing Democratic candidate Paul Tsongas.

Despite the sensational Flowers affair, Clinton won Georgia, went on to conquer the Super Tuesday primaries and sew up the presidential nomination. Clinton credited Miller with saving his campaign, and, of course, his coming presidency. Miller was tapped as a Clinton keynoter at the Democratic National Convention. The Clintons said he delivered an eloquently hard-hitting speech. “Bill Clinton is a Democrat who has the courage to tell some of those liberals who think welfare should continue forever, and some of those conservatives who think there should be no welfare at all, that they’re both wrong,” Miller shouted. The Clintons really liked old Zell.

That was then. Now Miller is off Hillary’s radar. He doesn’t have much national Democratic value any longer. At 71, he’s about to retire from the Senate, where he is identified with disdain (and sometimes with anger) as a “Bush Democrat.” Two of his former consultants, Carville and Morris, have either denounced him as a Democratic traitor or “exposed” his past campaign tactics. Only Ray Strother has kept the Miller faith.
In Georgia, Miller is a hero, polling the highest favorable numbers of any homegrown political figure. Nationally, he is regarded as a pariah among Democrats, a name to be avoided in polite political conversation.

A couple of days before my daughter Edie presented me Hillary’s book as a Father’s Day gift, I interviewed Sen. Miller’s for an article on why the government doesn’t simply remove “the terribly unfair tax” (my term, not Miller’s) on Social Security benefits. The House and Senate could repeal the tax on benefits instead of creating a huge new bureaucracy to administer a subsidized prescription drug program, I offered. Miller reminded me that he is a co-sponsor of a bill to remove the 1993 tax on benefits. "Where did this damned tax come from anyway?” I asked. "Bill Clinton,” Sen. Miller said quickly without making any effort to explain or defend his old pal.

Bill Shipp is editor of Bill Shipp's Georgia, a weekly newsletter on government and business.
He can be reached at P.O. Box 440755, Kennesaw, GA 30144 or by calling (770) 422-2543,
e-mail: bshipp@bellsouth.net, Web address: http://www.billshipp.com

Legal Organ of Burke County, Waynesboro, Sardis, Midville, Keysville, and Girard