Minding The Issues

A Continued Discussion On Police Brutality In Lakewood

I am glad that after years of being around national, state, and local police violence that posting a story about how it appears in Lakewood has created a discussion in our city. I am glad that Bob Stoltys and John Mazzei have continued the discussion in the past print and online posts. They each mention points that I would like to respond to because if Lakewood wants to strive to be unique among Cleveland's inner ring suburbs and be exceptional to them, then continuing this discussion where white suburbanites in this area dare not touch might add to the city's sense of pride in their city. Now is the time to discuss matters of racism and race in America and that makes Lakewood a part of the discussion. 

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Volume 13, Issue 14, Posted 12:35 PM, 07.18.2017

Guns, Violence, Culture

As we are all aware, our nation is undergoing an epidemic of slaughter by firearms. In the most general sense, this is not new. For many decades, criminal firearm fatalities have been a fact of American life. But this recent use of guns is different. Previously, the fatal attacks, horrendous as they may have been, were purposeful – they grew out of gang warfare, or drug dealing, or personal revenge, for example. They were directed at specific victims, and in most cases, though not all, they were one-on-one assaults. By contrast, the killings we have become so familiar with have no purpose except killing for the sake of killing, and are aimed not at specific individuals but at as many random individuals as possible.

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Volume 9, Issue 8, Posted 9:37 PM, 04.16.2013

Reflections From The Political Prism

“Everyone deserves world-class care”

Those who champion our existing health-care system, i.e., those who don’t want to change it, often point out that the Cleveland Clinic, along with other leading health facilities, draws patients from all over the world (Saudi Arabian sheiks, for example) because the Clinic offers them the best care in the world.

Yes, the sheiks look to the Clinic when they need the very best life-saving care. But if that is true of the sheiks, it is true also of the citizens of Peoria and millions of other Americans who would benefit from the Clinic’s world-class care. Obviously they can’t all be treated by the Clinic, even apart from financial considerations, because the Clinic can only accommodate so many. These millions of Americans must turn to whatever care is available to them, which may be far less than the Clinic offers. Why should we extol the care afforded Arabian sheiks, while ignoring the quality of care available to American citizens?


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Volume 8, Issue 7, Posted 10:03 PM, 04.03.2012

Our Congress Of Vienna Moment

During the height of the Arab Spring some months ago, observers compared the Arab uprisings to the democratic revolutions that swept Europe in 1848. Like their Arab counterparts, the 1848 revoutionaries aimed to wrest control from the rigid, autocratic rulers of the day.

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Volume 7, Issue 18, Posted 10:48 AM, 09.07.2011

On Health Care And Our Nation

Let’s get clear about the Obama administration’s plan for universal health care, which has caused such an uproar.

To clarify the issues, I offer a modest alternative: The law would require–repeat, require–that anyone who lacks health insurance would NOT be able to appeal to emergency rooms for medical care, nor be allowed to enroll in Medicaid (assuming that he or she did not meet the eligibility requirements before suffering a serious illness or injury), nor receive any other charity care. Whenever they sought medical care, they would have to pay the full price that the doctors and hospitals demand.

What would be the result of this plan? Whenever such a person suffered a life-threatening illness or injury, one of the following would in all probability happen:

 

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Volume 7, Issue 16, Posted 1:16 PM, 08.09.2011

A Tale Of Two Teachers

Long, long ago but not too far away– if memory serves, it was at Harding Junior High School– I was taking an algebra course with a teacher of stern and rigid principles. I don’t remember her name, and I don’t want to guess, lest I slander the innocent. I will simply call her Miss Straitjacket.

The subject under discussion was negative numbers. Miss Straitjacket said something to the effect that minus 2 is less than plus 2. I raised my hand said, no, minus 2 is the same quantity as plus 2; they only have different signs. I could have mentioned that minus 2 multiplied by minus 2 is plus 4, but I didn’t. I rested content with asserting an obvious truth.

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Volume 7, Issue 14, Posted 8:15 AM, 07.13.2011

How I Got My Education

When filling out an application or answering a survey, I have no trouble responding to the “Education” box, checking “beyond college” or “post-graduate”, or however it’s phrased. But I always feel that the answer is incomplete, because the question has ignored the wiser parts of my education.

After college, I served my two years in the Army. By fortunate circumstance, I became a typist at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. My supervisor, Sergeant Harry Edinger, was considerate and easy-going; his favorite expression to his subordinates was, “Take your time.” I learned that Sergeant Edinger had led a hundred men to safety across a frozen lake in North Korea during the great retreat following MacArthur’s Folly. I asked myself, “Could I, waving my Harvard B.A. in my hand, have led a hundred men across a frozen lake under combat conditions in the Korean winter?” Hell no.

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Volume 7, Issue 3, Posted 4:07 PM, 02.08.2011

Once More Around Lebron

The passage of time can add perspective, so let’s take one more turn around l’affaire LeBron.

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Volume 6, Issue 15, Posted 8:42 AM, 07.27.2010

A Call For All Real Americans

Our time has come. Tea Parties, state elections, and the rising voice of the people proclaim that the forces of Big Government will soon be defeated and a new era of Freedom is at hand. Now it is for us to throw off the bonds of Socialism and exhibit our God-given Personal Responsibility.

Obama’s Socialist health-care grab will soon go down to defeat, along with his other Socialist measures that make us slaves to government. We will defeat his environmental proposals built on the myth of global warming, and we will drill for whatever natural resources God has given us to enjoy.

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Volume 6, Issue 7, Posted 9:23 PM, 04.06.2010

February Is Not Enough

Is the only way to get rid of racism to, “Stop talking about it?”

Actor Morgan Freeman suggested this in an interview with the Associated Press, saying that the concept of dedicating a month to black history is “ridiculous.” For Freeman, black history is synonymous with American history. Continuing to label people “black” and “white” and setting aside a month to honor African-American history does little to eliminate racism in society.

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Volume 6, Issue 5, Posted 8:25 AM, 03.10.2010

Slander in the Sun-Post

This article has two themes. One is Obama vs. McCain and in particular one of the many slanderous slurs – namely, infanticide – the McCain camp has directed toward Obama, as well as the rebuttal of that accusation. The second theme is the responsibility of the media when they are asked to convey slanderous (or libelous, to be technical) material.

The first theme takes the form of a story. The story begins with a letter-to-the-editor in the Sun newspapers accusing Barack Obama of supporting infanticide, and it continues with my attempts to rebut the accusation, including a conversation with a Sun newspaper editor and a letter-to-the-editor which was not printed.

The second theme appears in my discussion of the issues raised by this incident...

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Volume 4, Issue 22, Posted 9:29 AM, 10.24.2008

On Iraq Withdrawal and Iraq Future

At its September 4 meeting, the City Council passed a resolution favoring a timetable for comprehensive withdrawal of all troops from Iraq, with all votes affirmative except for Demro’s abstention.
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Volume 3, Issue 19, Posted 4:06 PM, 09.14.2007

On Dog, Persons and Commodities

The crimes of Michael Vick haunt me. I look into our beloved dogs’ eyes and I think of the atrocities that Vick and his partners-in-crime committed, and I shudder. “How could they have done such things?”
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Volume 3, Issue 18, Posted 4:54 PM, 08.27.2007

On Platforms & Achievements

Lakewood Public Library’s new building looms majestically above the avenue, like a distinguished paterfamilias watching over his protégés. The city’s school buildings have all been rebuilt and spruced up and technologized.
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Volume 3, Issue 16, Posted 2:41 PM, 07.31.2007

Right Song, Wrong Stanza For Celebrating Our Nation

Our national anthem, as we all well know, is serious business. Why else would we play it at every public event? Why else does an individual, especially a male, risk his safety if he fails to stand when it is played?
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Volume 3, Issue 13, Posted 10:49 AM, 06.15.2007

Minding the Issues:Notes from an Appreciative Agnostic

The atheists are on the attack. The likes of Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins have recently written books aiming to eradicate belief in God and devotion to religion, Christianity in particular. This may be a backlash against the intrusion of certain religionists, especially those called fundamentalists, in our lives. (On this, more later).
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Volume 3, Issue 11, Posted 2:57 PM, 05.24.2007

Arthur, Mr. Wells, and the Frontier Mentality

America, historians tell us, has been largely shaped by its frontier. Of all the types of frontier life, none has received more popular attention than the Wild West, and perhaps the best-known and most enduring example of Wild West life is the gunman-to-gunman shootout.
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Volume 3, Issue 10, Posted 10:21 AM, 05.09.2007

Minding The Issues: Three Scandals and What We Should Remember About Them

By the time this reaches print, the scandals involving the Duke lacrosse team, Don Imus’s racist/sexist remarks, and the firing of U.S. attorneys may be out of mind, overshadowed by the tragic and senseless shootings at Virginia Tech. However, the scandals are worth keeping in mind for the deeper problems they exhibit.
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Volume 3, Issue 9, Posted 10:10 PM, 04.20.07

Buckley v. Valeo: Democracy's Roadblock

Do I need to belabor the obvious? We are now in the middle of the 2008 “money primary,” in which candidates vie not for the favor of voters but for the largesse of contributors, with the clear aim of amassing enough money to make their victory seem inevitable. (So much for “one person one vote.”) One presidential candidate at least has dropped out not because his program was unworthy or even unpopular, but simply because he couldn’t raise large amounts of money.
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Volume 3, Issue 8, Posted 9:09 PM, 04.06.07

Misused and Misunderstood Sayings (2)

In the previous issue I held that misuse of an expression is not merely a matter of taste but rather demonstrates obtuseness of one kind or another -- about logical consequences, historical context, or distinctions.

Here are a few more examples:

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Volume 3, Issue 5, Posted 4:04 PM, 02.23.07

The Ugly American and Other Misused or Misunderstood Sayings

It gripes me – and many others, I suppose -- to hear someone misuse a common saying. On the surface, these irritations are only a matter of taste – or pedantic preference -- but on a second look we might find more obtuseness than mere preference. One incident especially summed it up for me . . .
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Volume 3, Issue 4, Posted 5:05 PM, 02.09.07

Immigration: What to do about it? -- Everything

In a previous column I admitted to having no solution to the immigration problem. But discussions with the Lakewood Public Library’s “Great Decisions” group changed my perspective. And immigration is worth another round of discussion, for under the new and (hopefully) improved Congress it might again be on the table.
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Volume 3, Issue 2, Posted 9:09 PM, 01.12.07

Thoughts on Martin Luther King Day

As Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday approaches, my thoughts turn not toward him but toward Bob Moses. No, not Robert Moses the highway megalomaniac, but Bob Moses the civil rights leader.
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Volume 3, Issue 1, Posted 4:04 AM, 01.07.07

What Is (Are) Conservatism?

Judging by the recent election, we may hope that the nation is recovering from its posttraumatic stress disorder. Or to look at it another way, we are awakening from a six-year sleep punctuated by nightmares. More and more of us realize that the Bush administration is merely a deplorable aberration, born of arrogance and nourished by stupidity. From the start it was obviously not liberal, and conservatives are realizing as time goes on that it is not conservative either.
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Volume 2, Issue 24, Posted 2:02 PM, 11.20.06

Minding the Issues - Our Representatives -- What Is Their Job?

As the time approaches for campaigns and campaign promises, multitudes of politicians are competing to be our representatives. So this might be a good time to consider what they are competing for: What does the job of a representative consist of? (By "representatives" I mean not only legislators but also executives such as presidents and governors.) What are the legitimate grounds for a representative's decision? Conversely, when do a representative's constituents have a right to feel betrayed?
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Volume 2, Issue 17, Posted 2:02 PM, 08.14.06

The Essence of Bushism

The Bush administration is unique within recent history. Its antagonism toward liberalism has been evident almost from the very beginning, and now conservatives have begun to distance themselves from it also, for various reasons such as fi scal irresponsibility.
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Volume 2, Issue 14, Posted 4:04 PM, 07.11.06

Minding the Issues - Let's Get Government Out of Religion

Let's Get Government Out of Religion
When is a tempest-in-a-teapot not a tempest-in-a-teapot? When it reflects deeper issues. That is why I hope you will bear with me as I recount my enforced displacement on Election Day, last May 2nd.
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Volume 2, Issue 12, Posted 4:04 PM, 06.06.06

College Tuition: For Your College and For My College

"What's the deal here? Why do costs outstrip inflation? A college education is one of the most expensive and important things you'll ever buy, and, yes, it's still a good value, blah, blah, blah, but you can find out more about a lot of other products."
So said Margaret Spellings, Secretary of Education, on a subject of great concern to many Americans -- college tuition.
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Volume 2, Issue 8, Posted 4:04 PM, 04.10.06

Health Care and Health Savings Accounts (Part 2)

The Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) program, in effect since 2004, provides tax deductions to individuals on condition that they spend the tax-free money on health care needs. The Bush administration's rationale is that "market forces" will drive down health-care costs, just as they drive down the costs of other commodities.
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Volume 2, Issue 5, Posted 12.40 PM / 08th March 2006.

Health Care And Health Savings Accounts, Part 1

The Bush program for health care focuses on Health Savings Accounts, a program to give tax deductions to the individual health-care consumer for certain amounts of money, on condition that the individual spend the money on health care needs at his or her own discretion. The program has been in effect since the beginning of 2004, and has just recently been re-emphasized by the Bush administration, including mention in the State of the Union address.
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Volume 2, Issue 4, Posted 01.12 PM / 08th March 2006.

Learning from Iraq: the Logic of Condemnation and Regret

You don't need to be an inveterate Bush-basher to recognize that the Iraq War is far from a complete success. To be sure, it may yet come to a successful conclusion - successful from the American point of view - some years down the road. But more likely the outcome will be successful instead for some group at odds with our interests, for example Shi'ites and their Iranian allies, or Al Qaida. From its misconceived beginning to the present, the war has been riddled with mistakes and erroneous assumptions.
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Volume 2, Issue 2, Posted 09.16 AM / 24th January 2006.

Intelligent Design: Skeptical Thoughts about the Skepticism (2)

In my last column I distinguished between evolution and natural selection, which is the supposed mechanism by which evolution is accomplished. Evolution is established beyond question, in my opinion, but not natural selection. The crucial question is: What is the cause of evolution- natural selection? Intelligent Design? something else?
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Volume 2, Issue 1, Posted 08.29 AM / 11th January 2006.

Intelligent Design: Skeptical Thoughts about the Skepticism (1)

Never learned much biology. . . . But as time went on I came to understand that the accepted principles of a field of study contain, along with the true and profound, a certain amount of enshrined obtuseness bordering on stupidity. (The professions of academia and journalism are the chief examples in my catalogue, but there is no reason to believe that the sciences are exempt.) So there may be some advantage in looking at the Intelligent Design controversy from the outside.
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Volume 1, Issue 13, Posted 12.54 PM / 30th December 2005.

Patriotism

"Patriotism" is such a brass-band word that it's hard to get a handle on. We're all familiar with the martial trappings of patriotism - the thrill of pride at our country's triumphs, the urge to sacrifice, the homage to veterans who have made the sacrifice. But is that all? Where is patriotism when danger disappears? If patriotism is love of country, what kind of love is it? What, at bottom, is patriotism?
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Volume 1, Issue 12, Posted 02.58 PM / 30th November 2005.

The Culture of Life (American Style)

Before turning to the main subject, I would like to praise religious persons of uncommon good will. I am thinking of medical missionaries throughout the world. I am thinking of the missionary priests in Latin America during the 1500s who tried to save natives from the evils of European conquest, and of their latter-day counterparts who composed the Liberation Theology movement until it was squelched by the late pope. I am thinking of the four nuns killed in El Salvador. I am thinking of those religiously-inspired civil rights workers and martyrs, of whom Martin Luther King Jr. was only the most illustrious. And many, many others.
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Volume 1, Issue 9, Posted 03.41 AM / 20th October 2005.

Nox Vox Populi: Kevin O'Brien's Universe

Like most people, I have a fairly casual attitude toward op-ed columns and letters to the editor in other publications. I read them and pass on. But occasionally a piece will appear that is so noxious it must be challenged and dissected. Kevin O'Brien's column in the August 10 Plain Dealer, on the occasion of the memorial for troops lost in the Iraq War, is such a piece.
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Volume 1, Issue 7, Posted 07.54 PM / 18th September 2005.

Supreme Court: What Locke Actually Said

n the last issue I talked about supposedly "activist" judges, defined in three ways: 1) ignoring the original text of the Constitution; 2) overriding the decisions of Congress, the president and the states; 3) disregarding precedents. Activist judges, so-called, are usually thought to be liberal, but there is one group of activist judges, in the third sense listed, that is decidedly conservative. Bush's second appointment to the Supreme Court may come from this group.
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Volume 1, Issue 6, Posted 04.16 AM / 09th September 2005.

The Legend Of The Grand Inquisitor

Symbols are always worth noting, for they help bring into focus some of our half-formed ways of thinking and feeling. They clarify what had been indistinct; they solidify what had been scattered and amorphous.
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Volume 1, Issue 4, Posted 06.13 AM / 09th August 2005.

What I Know and Think I Know About Social Security - Part II

In the last column I outlined the way in which Social Security works, including the progression of its benefit schedule, and suggested changes that could be made to remedy the solvency gap with which the system is faced. Let's focus now on Bush's proposal for private Social Security accounts.
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Volume 1, Issue 2, Posted 10.19 PM / 04th August 2005.

What I Know and Think I Know About Social Security

Rarely if ever has a subject of public importance been so obscured by demagoguery, endlessly recycled rhetoric and misplaced emphasis as Social Security and its problems. But after some modest research and a great deal of thought I may have broken through the smoke and mirrors.
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Volume 1, Issue 2, Posted 03.57 PM / 19th July 2005.

Lakewood, the "American Dream," and Classical Athens

As a college freshman I took a Humanities course that dealt in large part with classical Greek literature. During one lecture, Professor Havelock, mentioned that the ancient Greeks, meaning primarily the Athenians, lived better than we do. There was no chance to discuss this remark in class, so through all these decades I have wondered what he meant. Perhaps Lakewood will show me.
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Volume 1, Issue 1, Posted 04.29 AM / 24th June 2005.