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Opinion

Generals historic, memorials modern

As reaffirmed by history, the sacrifice of lives to the cost of democracy is no new undertaking. In 431 BCE, the Athenian leader, Pericles, delivered these words to commemorate the heroic dead of the Peloponnesian War: “For heroes have the whole earth for their tomb; and in lands far from their own, where the column with its epitaph declares it, there is enshrined in every breast a record unwritten with no tablet to preserve it, except that of the heart.” Then as now, we would do well to keep our heroes in our hearts.

TSA looking for Minotaurs

The Transportation Security Administration has been in the news a lot lately. The coverage has not been flattering. Too few screeners, high failure rates and government-leading rates of employee turnover are but a few of the leading complaints against the embattled agency.

Making Fun of Transgender People

When I was a lad, I often heard jokes about blacks, Latinos and gays, who were regarded as amusing because of their supposed inferiority and defectiveness. Today most people would be embarrassed and offended by such humor. But, at least in some places, there is one group that is still a safe source of yuks: transgender people.

interconnected

We’re interconnected, aren’t we? The Middle East, Arkansas, its governor and General Assembly, its Highway Commission. And the little old lady in [Editors: choose your town] who is driving a car a third smaller than her last one but which is getting a third better mileage.

Airport lines: your government failing you

This summer, air travel is for people who expect to go to hell and want to know what it will be like. Security lines have reached epic lengths in many airports. Thousands of travelers have missed flights. And the Transportation Security Administration now advises passengers to arrive two hours before departure for domestic flights — and three in some places.

Protect them to protect us

On this day in 1866, the cause of animal welfare took a giant leap forward. New York philanthropist and diplomat, Henry Bergh, founded the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Bergh’s interest in protecting animals began while he served as the U. S. representative to the court of Russian Tsar Alexander II. While at this post, Bergh often saw the Russian peasantry mercilessly beat their work horses with whips and knouts.

Stick a pin in me…

At several points in my life I have had a bulletin board. On these boards I’ve pinned post cards from trips, photos of friends, menus, magnets, mementos, school fliers and other little arcana as suited me at the time. Given their predictable appearance in the back-to-school aisles of the local big box store, it’s probably safe to assume that the custom continues.

Tesla vs. dealers: Let buyers decide

America is the land of the free - unless your idea of freedom includes a right to build cars and sell them directly to the public, rather than through a third party. For those who try to do that, America morphs into a semi-feudal system of state-law trade barriers and bureaucracy whose ostensible purpose is to protect consumers but whose actual one is to protect incumbent holders of automobile retail franchises, as expert testimony confirmed at a Federal Trade Commission conference on the subject in January.

Putting words in someone’s mouth

I recently saw a silly cartoon that gave me an idea for this column. The first frame showed two siblings sitting on the floor amidst piles of torn paper. The second frame showed the older of the two with a comic bubble showing a lightbulb above his head. He then began sticking bits of paper in the younger one’s mouth, saying, “Chew! Chew! Swallow!” at the younger’s loud cry, the mother rushes in and asks, “WHAT’S going on here?” The older calmly answers, “Aw, nothing, I’m just puttin’ words in Timmy’s mouth.”

What Trump and Sanders get wrong on trade

Donald Trump says the problem in the United States is that “we don’t win anymore.” Trade is his favorite example, based on our longstanding trade deficit. But in one big area, America is a big global winner, year after year. That little-known fact exposes the basic, fatal error in Trump’s lament.

Modern privateers still influential

On this day in 1776, the Continental Congress issued a document entitled, “Instructions to Commanders of Private Ships or vessels of War, which shall have Commissions of Letters of Marque and Reprisal, authorizing them to make Captures of British Vessels and Cargoes.” This declaration gave the captains of privately owned commercial ships the right to attack and plunder British ships without any legal consequences. Thus began the long American tradition of private military contractors.

Pacts old, new and irrelevant

Twenty-five years ago today, the Warsaw Pact came to an end. Formed as a military counterpoint to the West’s North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the original assembly included the Soviet Union, East Germany, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, and Albania.