Let’s Talk About Original Intent

by W. D. Ehrhart In a withering, indeed breathtaking, succession of recent decisions rendered by a U.S. Supreme Court now dominated by justices vetted by the Federalist Society and nominated by presidents who did not win the popular national vote, most of the past 120 years of legal progress and precedent have been obliterated. The rationale for this assault on common sense and common decency is a doctrine called “Original Intent,” which states that only those guarantees intended by the framers of the Constitution in 1787 and set forth in the document ratified two years later are valid. This is also sometimes defined as “strict …

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How Vietnam got under America’s callused cowboy skin

by Jean Stimmell Because America chose to wage a war in Vietnam, Thich Nhat Hanh was exiled from his country and ended up a renowned spiritual teacher and peacemaker, instrumental in mellowing our macho culture. It was even more of a turnaround for Ocean Vuong, the acclaimed writer and poet: He tells us he literally wouldn’t exist without the Vietnam War. That’s because his grandfather, an American soldier fighting in Vietnam, met his grandmother, “a girl from the rice paddies,” ⁠1 and married her. And then, there’s me: a hapless 19-year-old who stumbled into Vietnam after dropping out of college. I enlisted before the big …

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The Way Things Are

by W.D. Ehrhart Back in the May 20th issue of the Gazette, readers may remember an essay of mine called “Woe Is Me!” I began by cataloguing a litany of disasters and lunacies that leave me feeling hopeless about the future of this country and the planet. But then I spent a wonderful day with some friends of mine reminding me that there are indeed still many good things in this world, and lots to be grateful for. Which is certainly true. The world is full of sad stories, but none of them are mine. And for some people, life is better now than it …

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A Farewell to Arms?

by W.D. Ehrhart Back in 1990, at the first Conference of U.S. & Vietnamese Veteran-Writers in Hanoi, Le Minh Khue, a novelist who had been a teenager with a young volunteers team assigned to the military engineering command, told me that she had gone off to the war with several books in her knapsack: translations of Ernest Hemingway and Jack London. “I learned a love of life from Jack London, as well as the courage to transcend death, to keep up hope against any odds,” she said.  “I cherished the anguish of Hemingway, whose wonderful short stories deal with loneliness, death, and love of life, …

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Woe Is Me!

by W.D. Ehrhart Lately I have been struggling to find something worth writing about. What is the point? Nothing changes. I’ve written multiple essays about the madness of our uniquely U.S. gun culture; but Americans keep dying at the wrong end of firearms in record numbers, and in most states it’s easier to acquire and carry a firearm than it was ten years ago. I’ve written multiple essays about the need for the Democratic Party to get its collective head out of its ass and start functioning effectively to counter the insidious and pervasive evil that has become the Retrumplican Party, yet the Democrats keep …

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In Praise of 21st Century Luddism

by W.D. Ehrhart Believe me, I really do understand that those little handheld electronic pocket-sized gadgets that do everything from making phone calls to taking photos and videos to locating your exact position on the planet are the future, and the future is already here, and there’s nothing I can do about it. But you cannot make me like it, nor can you make me own one of those machines.  And though I try to be polite when other people pull out their SmartPhones and iPhones, it is often a struggle to refrain from grabbing the device and smashing it under my heel. Recently, a …

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