How Is This Possible?

by W.D. Ehrhart Where do I begin? Let’s just dive right in: Donald J. Trump claims he is the same as a veteran of military service because he went to a military academy as a schoolboy, though he avoided military service during the American War in Vietnam by obtaining a medical deferment for bone spurs from a podiatrist who was financially beholden to Trump’s father. Apparently, he learned a lot about war at the New York Military Academy because he has subsequently claimed that he knows more about war than career generals and admirals. He has considered awarding himself the Purple Heart Medal while musing …

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New Life for Local Newspapers

by Jim Hightower How about a little bit of good news for a change? Specifically, good news about news. The demise of local newspapers has been a very depressing story in the last few years, with several thousand of them gobbled up by Wall Street profiteers. Those money powers loot the publications’ assets, then callously shut down each community’s paper, or reduces them to empty news shells. So that’s that—local print journalism is passé, right? Wrong! High-spirited, community-minded subscribers in places like Glen Rose (Texas), Hamburg (Iowa), Portland (Maine), and International Falls (Minnesota) are humming an upbeat tune of regeneration that could be titled “Not …

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College Admissions: Foul & Fair

by W.D. Ehrhart I find myself fascinated by the current debate over the Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision in Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College overturning a previous 2003 case and effectively gutting affirmative action in college admissions based on racial criteria. I recently retired from high school teaching, and I watched a lot of kids go through the college admissions ordeal. I had students who scored poorly on SATs and ACTs, but who were excellent students I was never reluctant to write college recommendations for because they were smart, savvy, hard-working, and well-grounded. And I had kids with superlative standardized …

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Joe Manchin’s Pipe Dream

by Jim Hightower Rube Goldberg would marvel at Sen. Joe Manchin’s wacky, convoluted machinations to rig the system so fossil fuel polluters can run roughshod over nature, local people, and democracy. Goldberg was a master of satirical cartoons, drawing hilarious schematics of convoluted contraptions to do silly tasks. His “Self-Operating Napkin,” for example, involved a spoon, cracker, toucan, skyrocket, sickle, and a pendulum attached to a napkin—all operating sequentially to automatically wipe the chin of a soup eater. So here comes Joe with his own sequential machinations to (Zip! Ping! Sproing!) push his pet corporate boondoggle into law. Manchin’s Mountain Valley Pipeline would ram a …

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Lifting the Lamp Beside the Golden Door

by W. D. Ehrhart As I write this—July 4th, 2023—our nation is celebrating the 247th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.  English settlers had first arrived along the Atlantic seaboard in 1607, and were soon joined by Dutch, Swedish, French, and more English settlers.  The Spanish had already colonized Florida and what is today New Mexico.  William Penn attracted Welsh and a large number of German settlers.  Early on, others began arriving from Africa in chains. Even the people who were here when the Europeans arrived came from somewhere else, though a lot earlier.  We are indeed, as has so often been said, a nation …

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Phillis Wheatley: “the Surprising African Poetess” *

by W.D. Ehrhart In 1990, I spent a semester as the Visiting Professor of War and Social Consequences at the University of Massachusetts at Boston. My office was in a building named for Phillis Wheatley. I’d never heard of her, but discovered that she was an African-born slave whose Boston owners had brought her up as a “house servant” and allowed her to learn to read and write. She had even published a book of her poems. I tracked down some of her work, but didn’t find it very interesting. Like so much of the poetry written in English in the later 18th century on …

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