Preble County

When Leaders Lie, And Supporters Embrace It

When you say you follow Jesus but support laws that hurt people Jesus helped – people stop believing you & you hurt Christianity. — Mark Sandlin

Regardless of where one stands on the Border Crisis issue, some facts hold up despite this era of dishonesty. The shift that created the crisis was the ‘Zero Tolerance” policy implemented by Attorney Jeff Sessions in April – a policy that has the earmarkings of Stephen Miller. And, as The Atlantic, reported,

…if the goal were simply to draw voters’ attention to the border, there are plenty of ways to do it that are less controversial (not to mention, less cruel) than ripping young children from the arms of asylum seekers and sticking them in dystopian-looking detention centers. But for Miller, the public outrage and anger elicited by policies like forced family separation are a feature, not a bug. 

As appalling as this tactic is, many Christians failed to stand up and reject the hate. It is reminiscent of the 1950s-1960s Civil Rights movement where, historians noted,

“Simply put, any suggestion that the religion of southern whites aided the civil rights struggle grossly perverts the past. While many evangelicals displayed kindness in their personal dealings with blacks, most also enthusiastically defended a system designed to advantage whites and to correspondingly disadvantage African Americans at every turn.”

(The article is an interesting read as it sheds light on the way evangelicals pervert the teachings of Jesus)

But, Trump, who less than a week earlier stated he could not solve the problem (a lie) — Tweeting CHANGE THE LAW — decided, in fact, he could. So, he signed an Executive Order on June 20, ending the process of separating children from their parents.

Congressman Warren Davidson, a self-professed Christian who represents Ohio’s 8th Congressional District where I live, wrote on Facebook:

“I’m glad the President acted swiftly to resolve the crisis on our southern border today.”

He wrote this, despite knowing that the crisis was, at minimum one or two months old, and also knowing the Trump administration created the situation by implementing the Zero Tolerance tactic.

When Is A Lie, A Lie?

As NPR, reported, calling a statement a lie is a matter of determining intent, which may be splitting hairs, but it does speak to where we have fallen in our political discourse. In the essay for NPR, the writer takes exception to the organization’s definition and concludes,

More important is that the media and the public register a fundamental fact: Top people speaking for the United States aren’t telling us the truth — starting with the president.

Davidson, who held his cards close to his chest concerning his opinion of Trump, when Davidson ran for election in 2016, has proven to be one of the President’s loudest cheerleaders. Recently he posted on Facebook an article about how great the economy is doing (although none of this goodness has trickled down to Preble County), and when I posted an article with an opposing viewpoint, in response to his assertion, a reader immediately denigrated the article because it was from ABC.

So, in response to the man’s denigration, I posted some Preble County stats which demonstrate the economy is not so great here, followed by the same ABC article edited by Fox News. As a former reporter, I knew the article ran across all news agencies because it was not a commentary, it was just a ‘straight up, hard news’ story. Both versions of the article attested to the reality that many are not sharing in the economy’s ‘goodness’.

But, what I found most interesting, is the ignorance concerning information dissemination that exist in parts of the Trump camp — ignorance that politicians are exploiting. Even though small, rural communities are seeing little, to no, improvement as Wall Street rages – because Wall Street and Main Street are two distinctly separate economies — for fans, there is little faith in information outside their echo chamber. And, if these fans live in more affluent regions, that reality is projected onto all of America.

For politicians, as the saying goes — it’s like taking candy from a baby — making spoon feeding ideology to their base child’s play.

Afterthought

Some of the most comical news I read on Facebook this past week came from my local commissioner who seemed giddy with excitement after getting to shake hands with Vice-President Mike Pence. Pence was in Ohio on Friday touting the greatness of the GOP tax cut (and booming economy). On Facebook the Commissioner said:

My mind went immediately to the song choice because “We are the Champions” feels like an odd selection for the homophobic Pence. The man singing the song, Freddie Mercury, was bisexual and married to a man at the time of his death.

It feels like a Southern rock anthem with some subtle racism would have been a better choice.

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Categories: 8th congressional district, My America, Preble County, Religion | Leave a comment

When It Comes To Chemical Addiction, The Joke’s On Small Town America

“This post is so gross. Non-violent drug offenses drain tax payer money. These people need treatment not prison,” an English teacher responding to the post said. The Gratis Police Department replied, “Who said anything about prison?”


When I screen-grabbed the Gratis Police Department’s Facebook post, it had been shared about 7,500 times, earning it the designation of ‘viral’ by a Dayton, Ohio TV station. When I noticed it, I saw it as yet another reminder of the classism that exists inside my county.

We have a hierarchy when it comes to which drugs are offensive.

Initially, in the county’s history, alcohol was our preferred drug, and it’s still the one most tolerated. In Spine Intact, Some Creases, Eaton High School graduate, and prolific author, Victor J. Banis, touches on Preble County’s mores on alcohol when he says,

“There is a general attitude that a boy by then (14) ought to be able to look after himself. This is reflected in the attitude toward drinking as well. Most small town families feel that when a boy is old enough to walk over to where the men are congregated and pick himself up a beer, he is old enough to drink it. It is not unusual, then, to see a teenage boy drinking in the local taverns, at any rate it wasn’t then (1940s). Everyone knows everyone in these towns so it is rarely a mystery to a bar owner how old his customer might be.”

Although, locally, the drinking has moved from the bar to the home, there still is no shortage of adult complicity as parents and/or adults willingly supply alcohol to underage consumers. And, presently, just like Hollowing Out The Middle points out there is a hierarchy to who is arrested in these high school ‘drinking parties’ — with the Stayers always be selected over the Achievers.

Who Gets Arrested?

Marijuana is so widely accepted in Preble County that in the last five or six indictments for cultivating marijuana, the defendants served no time for the offense — receiving treatment in lieu of conviction.

Another example of who is — or is not — arrested is the alleged statement by a Preble County business owners. Upon learning about the fentanyl problem a few years ago (that left 60 dead in one weekend in nearby Cincinnati), this individual’s concern was not so much for the dead, but rather a fear that a personal supply of marijuana would become tainted with the deadly additive. One would be hard-pressed to find an arrest record on the individual, however, if one looked close enough, they may find a relative employed in the county’s courthouse.

Meth, though, a drug that became entrenched here in the mid-to-late 90s, is considered the drug of ‘low-class’ people. We aggressively pursue these cases (and heroin), by and large, because those chemically addicted to meth, are poor.

The poor are the easiest to prosecute.

How they ended up on meth, though, has a common thread. Many began by experimenting with marijuana and/or alcohol.

Addressing The Problem, Not The Symptoms

Last year, about 10-12 percent of the children removed from Preble County homes were taken due to the presence of drugs. Some of our chemically-addicted neighbors faced severe trauma, often at a very young age, leading to their addiction. Others were mistreated in our foster homes and/or children’s home. One of my former co-workers, who I choose to remember as the 20-something full of life, now, 20 years later, struggles with addiction and is in-and-out of prison.

Another woman I met decades ago recently died of a heroin overdose. She left behind a family and children. In her death, I find the essence of her life because she was an organ donor — and in her death has given life to others. Many of our chemically addicted have been beaten down by us. They are the subject of poorly-crafted jokes, treated as less than human all the while as we, in Preble County still, in the 21st century, debate whether addiction is a disease or a choice (as if it matters). But some of the chemically-addicted, that I have personally met, made the ‘choice’ as young teenagers or preteens, forever altering the chemistry of their brain.

One individual, who spent time in my home last year, began experimenting with drugs as hard as Xanax in sixth or seventh grade. I’ve yet to meet a 12- or 13-year-old who understood the long term implications of consuming alcohol, marijuana, Xanax or any other chemical. And, I have yet to meet a 12- or 13-year-old who automatically knew where to purchase the contraband.

Since the 1970s, Preble County has been policing and prosecuting drug use from the angle of ‘how do we crush this out.’ It has not worked.

It’s time to ask a new question, try a new approach, and leave the joke-writing to professionals.

Gratis Ohio Police Department.

Afterthought


I also find it interesting that the officers had the time to edit the post multiple times — once to include the legal disclaimer. There seems to be more pressing issues than trying to trick a chemically-addicted person into turning themselves in.

For example, according to data from the Dayton Crime Lab and Ohio Attorney Office — 124 rape kits were submitted for evidence from Preble County over the past two decades. Between 1999-2017, of the 27 rape indictments processed through the Preble County Common Pleas Court — 17 returned a guilty conviction while four were dismissed, five were acquitted and one defendant plead to a lesser charge. These numbers suggest either a weakness in investigation or a weakness in prosecution.

National data demonstrates that in 92-98 percent of the reports — a rape, in fact, did occur. In solving these crimes, it may have the desired affect of reducing our illicit drug use.

Categories: drug addiction, drug use, My America, Preble County, Small Town Politics, WTF Happened To My Hometown

Tea Party Speaker Touts ‘Schools Are Liberal And Evil’ Message In My Conservative, Rural Town

Lisa Watson is a modern-day Apostle Paul.

According to Christian tradition, Paul was travelling to Damascus when a voice from heaven and a bright light interrupted the trip. The episode led to his conversion and, indirectly, to the creation of most of the New Testament.

Watson, a speaker on the Tea Party circuit, also experienced a conversion. A self-described former member of the Left, her moment of truth included a voice and new outlook on life. Something was missing in Watson’s life, she said, and one evening, she sat down to watch “I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist.” This is how she described the aftermath (as reported in my local newspaper).

“By the time the show is over, I’m actually lightheaded. I curled on the side of my bed dizzy. And I heard a voice. The voice said, you are being lied to. My mind is racing. I’m thinking about everything he said.”

Fiscal Conservative Gone Bad

Watson presented her views in a small, inexpensive Eaton, Ohio venue ($25 an hour). The parking lot was filled on the night she advocated for a non-government funded approach to education — schools, she envisions, being operated by preachers and unpaid volunteers. The overall theme of her message (based on the newspaper article) was ‘public schools are the enemy — because they are liberal — and they are educating your children.’

She presented this message in a county:

  • That has supported a conservative political agenda for more than a century.
  • Where, in 2016, three out of four voters chose Trump.
  • That struggles to get ‘outsiders’ to teach — or substitute teach — in their school systems.
  • Where the local branch of the community college shuttered after less than a decade of service.
  • Where 11 percent do not graduate high school
  • Where 9 percent have an associate’s degree
  • Where only 14 percent have a 4-year college degree

Despite the lack of liberals in our educational system, and because of the lack of liberals in the community, her fear-based message resonates here.

Poor Choice of Venue

In a movement that prizes frugality above all else, the low-cost of the structure may have been a deciding factor, but Watson, and her supporters, could not have picked a more inappropriate edifice for the speech.

She presented the repressive ideology inside the Eaton Youth Center, located on the corner of Decatur Street and Park Avenue. When the building was constructed by Preble County youth, from reclaimed material, in the late 1930s, it was funded by the federal government as the activist government was seeking was to give young, unemployed individuals in small communities employment, and purpose. The head of the National Youth Administration, which funded the venture, said the building project was the ‘practical expression of the belief in the democratic form of government.’ In a Sunday edition of the Cincinnati Enquirer, the director said he was ‘especially proud of the Eaton Youth Center.’

But more desecrating than an ignorance that government involvement — and not unpaid volunteers — brought about the creation of the Youth Center — is the slap in the face of Stephen Decatur.

A Real Hero

Stephen Decatur, the man the street is named for, was the epitome of bravery. He faced a true enemy — as opposed to Watson’s manufactured ones. Decatur’s enemy was not his neighbors or fellow citizens.

In 1804 Decatur, and about 80 men, were commissioned to blow up a captured American ship. It was a suicide mission since the ship was anchored in a heavily-guarded enemy harbor. They embarked on the mission at night, without guns, so they would not alert nearby ships, and engaged in bloody hand-to-hand combat, before capturing the ship, setting it on fire, and escaping with their lives. The act was instrumental is changing the tide of the Tripoli War.

Preble’s Real Problems

Decatur’s history is obscure, so I would not expect Watson, or local members of the Tea Party to know it, but local organizers do know that Decatur Street is not heroic. If Watson, or her organizers, had researched problems affecting Eaton, and Preble County, they would have known that Decatur Street is home to much of Eaton’s drug activity.

About a month after Watson spoke, police agencies in Preble County conducted a ‘drug interdiction sting’ and posted the results on Facebook. In the comment section, one resident listed a Decatur Street home, close to the venue, as a drug house. But even a cursory look through the Eaton police reports demonstrate that Decatur Street has a drug problem.

Watson is correct on one thing — our society has problems in need of solutions — but she is woefully wrong on where she is placing the blame.


Afterthought

In Preble County we could start by:

  1. Improving wages for residents
  2. Creating more affordable housing
  3. Treating chemical addiction as a mental health issue, instead of a crime
  4. Removing blight buildings
  5. Developing amenities that improve the quality of life
  6. Upgrading our infrastructure
  7. Removing echo chambers and creating a community
  8. Solving the drug issue by going after distributors, and not focusing on small-time users/dealers
  9. Having employers create careers, instead of temporary jobs, so workers can build a future here
Categories: 8th congressional district, My America, Politics, Preble County, Understanding Trump Counties