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Wikipedia could define 'politician'

04 PoliticianSpeechWell, election day is over, and a hearty congratulations to all the winning candidates at all levels of government. Compared to other elections over the years, I guess you can say it's the best money can buy! Ridiculous amounts of money are poured into these elections, and make no mistake about it, it's to buy influence and power.

So, with that said, regardless of your political affiliation or whether your candidate won or lost, it's time to move on and get America on the right track for the sake of our children, grandchildren and future generations.

Unfortunately, America's political leadership at all levels is rendering us morally bankrupt. I appreciate all the comments and reactions I received from last week's editorial, "Have you no sense of decency?" It confirmed my pretense that as a nation, we are very aware that our overall morality has dipped substantially below what is deemed acceptable or civilized.

Politicians today treat honesty, integrity, truthfulness as virtues that are only mere suggestions in the game of life. Depending on the situation, our children are taught to engage these virtues with healthy skepticism as convenience options only if it's advantageous for personal gain. In other words, it's acceptable to steal, lie, cheat and commit crimes if you can justify it internally or financially afford it. This "fake it until you make it" style of morality eventually fails with devastating consequences.

In politics, the consequences of these character deficiencies are embarrassing for the candidate and devastating to the party. They also represent an insult to the American people at all levels of government. Again, this is an indictment of all political parties. This conspicuous and obnoxious behavior is motivated and initiated by excessive greed, money and power. And, in many cases, all three. It wouldn't surprise me if Wikipedia listed the definition of politician as “A person who displays conspicuous and obnoxious behavior usually motivated by excessive greed, money and power, or all three." It's a sad reality.

Now the election is over. Hopefully, we will be able to get our state and country on the right track. One thing is for sure; we will be able to recognize who will stand up for the American people and make them the highest priority. Sadly, we have just gone through nearly four years of embarrassing, disrespectful and severe disruption of the presidency and Americans have concerns and questions that need to be answered:

Will this kind of deploring behavior continue? Will America be safe from criminals? Will law and order be abandoned? Will the confidence of the FBI, CIA and NSA be restored? Will our government secure our borders? Will the new administration start looking out for all the American people's health and welfare? Let's hope so. The survival of our country as we know it will depend on it.

Right now, America is a country divided. I'm not referring to red states and blue states. I'm talking about patriotic Americans who fear our government is selling out our heritage and our nation for their personal gain. If this is not the case, then the new reigning administration should waste no time in assuring us of that. This would be the first step in healing and bringing this country back together. After four years of continual discourse and attacks on the president, the new administration has a beautiful opportunity to take specific and immediate action to do whatever needs to be done to make every American feel this is their country.

Again, congratulations to all the newly elected officials. Our weekly newspaper will continue to focus on and serve the Fayetteville, Fort Bragg and Cumberland County community with integrity, honesty and truthfulness. Let's encourage our leadership to do the same.

Thanks for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

Look, up in the sky! It's a bird, it's a plane!

04 Inkedasteroid LIThis column is written about a week before the election so I have no idea who won. Or if a winner or martial law has been declared. Or if all is sweetness and light and each side has graciously accepted that the other side has won. Who knows? The Shadow knows but he ain’t telling. Perhaps this column will never appear in print. Not because Up & Coming’s Publisher Bill Bowman will actually read it before it appears. Bill and I sit on very different sides of the political fence so it is a minor miracle this column has lasted all these many years. However, I digress.

The reason this column may never soil the pages of world literature is because there is the possibility that the asteroid named 2018 VPI will hit the Earth on 2 November 2020. This is the day before the election thus wiping out the Earth and all its inhabitants including printing presses. This may or may not be an improvement over our current situation. Let us ponder 2018 VPI which is cruising towards us at 25,000 miles per hour. NASA found 2018 VPI in 2018 with its Near-Earth Object Observations Program. Science guys including TV star Neil deGrasse Tyson tell us that 2018 VPI is fairly small, about the size of an olive green 1960’s refrigerator. They tell us 2018 VPI has less than a half per cent chance of hitting us. Supposedly even if it did hit us, it wouldn’t destroy the Earth. However, let us remember that this is the Year of Our Lord 2020 when anything can and will happen. The experts also told us that the Titanic was unsinkable. The experts told us Hillary was a sure thing to be elected President in 2016. So, there is that.

The odds are that 2018 VPI probably won’t destroy the Earth. But what if 2018 VPI is just a warning shot from some alien race or even a cranky Greek God? We have all seen enough movies about aliens deciding to destroy the Earth to know that somebody out there might not like us. If the Klingons have been picking up the political ads from the last six months, they probably hate us by now. If the Klingons don’t get us, maybe Thor is angry at us. Thor may have upgraded his weapons from thunder bolts to asteroids. It is no accident that HBO is running the Bruce Willis magnum opus “Armageddon” right now. Does HBO know something we don’t? Are the cable wizards trying to warn us of pending disaster? Has anyone seen Bruce Willis lately? We may need him in the next reel to save the Earth for real.

Right now you are probably asking yourself, “Self, how big does an asteroid or a comet need to be to destroy the Earth?” You could ask the dinosaurs this question because they were around 65 million years ago when an asteroid about 6 to 9 miles wide smacked the Earth. Unfortunately, none of the dinosaurs survived the impact. Bruce Willis wasn’t born until about 65 million years later so he couldn’t save the Earth. Without Bruce Willis the best the dinosaurs could hope for was to be impressive fossils or petroleum. A rather large unpleasant visitor from outer space hit the Yucatan Peninsula 65 million years ago leaving a 110 mile in diameter crater. This led to climate change and multiple bad days for the dinosaurs.

This interstellar event horizon collision did provide a financial windfall for Stan Sacrison some 67 million year later. In 1987, Mr. Sacrison found an almost complete skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex in Montana. Mr. Sacrison naturally named his find after himself calling him Stan the T Rex. Stan was a big boy, 40 feet long and 13 feet high. It turned out Stan was worth a lot of money, selling last month by the Christie Auction for $31.8 million. This was the largest amount a fossil ever sold for. Good job, Stan. Stan’s Mom would be proud of her boy finally making good after 65 million years. It shows the value of perseverance. It’s an ill asteroid that blows no one no good. So even though all the dinosaurs had to go to dinosaur heaven, at least Mr. Sacrison had a good pay day.

Can anything good come from an asteroid striking and destroying the Earth? It would wipe out COVID-19 and the My Pillow Guy. Herd immunity would instantly take place leaving the Rona no place to go. Bill Barr would no longer be U.S. Attorney General. We would no longer have to put up with obnoxious Dook basketball fans. Q Anon could no longer rant about demons in pizza parlors. You would never again have to struggle to open those plastic bags at the grocery store that stick together in the produce section. Spam robo calls would cease forever. You would never have to remember your new passwords.

If you are actually reading this deep into the column, congratulations. The Earth was not destroyed by 2018 VPI. Unfortunately, you are now living in a world of post-presidential election hijinx. Maybe that errant asteroid creaming the Earth doesn’t look so bad after all. Good luck with the election fall out. Like Roseanne Roseannadanna once said, “It’s always something.”

Pictured: An asteroid named 2018 VPI is cruising toward the Earth at 25,000 miles an hour. The science guys tell us there is a very small chance it could hit the Earth.

Have you no sense of decency?

02 bright flag waving"Have you no sense of decency?"

This quote has been ringing in my ears for this entire election period. Its origin is from the testimony of then-Wisconsin Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, who became both famous and infamous in the 1950s with his allegations that Communists were overrunning our national government and infiltrating Washington's federal agencies. During this time, there was intense national anxiety about the spread of communism in the U.S. History has it that the arrogant, persistent and egomaniac McCarthy met his match when he locked horns with the U.S. Army. In retaliation for not giving preferential treatment to one of his closest aides, he charged the Army with neglect for having lax security at one of their top-secret Army facilities. Televised nationally, the Army-McCarthy trials went on for months and drew national attention because of McCarthy's notoriety. However, he proved to be no match for Joseph Welch, the attorney hired to defend the U.S. Army against his outrageous allegations. On June 9, 1954, in a calculated and desperate move to gain the advantage over Welch, McCarthy, with a national television audience tuned in, attempted to discredit Welch, by charging that one of his staff attorneys was a Communist operative.

Across the nation, Americans watched and listened in disbelief. Joseph Welch responded emphatically with those immortal lines that ended McCarthy's career. The angry and frustrated Welch recoiled with: "Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness." McCarthy tried to interrupt, but Welch cut him off, "Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency?" Practically overnight, McCarthy's power, influence and national popularity evaporated. He was deplored by the public, censured by the Senate, ostracized by the Republican party, and ignored by the media. McCarthy's fanatic, mean and unjust reign of terror was over, and he died in disgrace three years later.

"Have you no sense of decency?" That is the haunting question I want to keep asking this generation of American political leadership. Has anyone running for political office retained any sense of decency? Honesty? Integrity? Have politicians become so callous and remotely distanced from humanity that they no longer contend these character traits even matter? If they matter, why are we as citizens subjected to this constant barrage of lies, disinformation and deception? Don't they realize that Americans are growing skeptical and intolerant of their lies and weary of this environment of corruption and mistrust? Have they no sense of decency? COVID-19 is a perfect example of this and perhaps why we cannot get it under control. Local, state and national government officials have politicized this pandemic to suit their agendas while frustrated Americans suffer and lose confidence in America's leadership. Morality continues to get sidelined as married politicians get caught having sex with another man's wife in the middle of a major campaign, and it's "no big deal!” Really? Have you no sense of decency? Nationally, the CIA & FBI conspire to frame and unseat a duly elected POTUS! Have they no sense of decency? Our own Congress works to obstruct, slander and defame nominees for the U.S. Supreme Court. Have they no sense of decency? The media desecrates the Fourth Estate by abandoning their journalist integrity and commitment to the American people of providing fair and unbiased media coverage of our government's Executive, Judicial and Legislative branches. Have they no sense of decency? Recently, the gross dereliction of responsibility shown by social media outlets for censoring news and information for political purposes in an attempt to influence the results and outcome of a national election. Have they no sense of decency? Lastly, and closer to home, everyone should be disgusted by the number of relentless political TV, radio and postcard mailers sent to our homes that tout nothing but unsubstantiated "lies" about candidates. Have they no sense of decency?

We are all aware of the challenges that lie ahead for our community, state and nation. I firmly believe as Americans we will get through this. Regardless of color, race, religion or political affiliation, real Americans believe in the U.S. Constitution and freedom. History has shown that we are not willing to give either of them up. At least not without a fight. When confronted with elected leaders not living up to decent moral expectations, just ask them: Have you no sense of decency?

Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

No shortage of worries

03 BabyCryingVirtually everyone I know of all political stripes has lost sleep over the 2020 elections. Several have resorted to anti-anxiety medication. Not only may we not know who our next president will be for days, perhaps weeks, even months, North Carolina has important races up and down the ticket.

Here are some issues I am worrying about since politics are off the table for the moment.

As a mother of three, my heart literally breaks for the 545 children and their parents who were forcibly separated by United States border control agents beginning more than 3 years ago. If you or I had done this, it would be called kidnapping and we would likely have been charged with that crime. Because the United States government did it, however, no one has been charged and “we the people” are now foster parents for children, some of them pre-schoolers, who should be with their own families.

The Trump administration has been forced, kicking and screaming, by various courts to release information about these children, who eventually numbered about 5500. Most of them were reunited with family or remain in the United States with legal caretakers. The 545 remaining are in a legal limbo that may never be resolved. Radio public service announcements are airing in Mexico and throughout Central America to locate their parents, but the cold hard reality is that some of these children will never be reunited with their families. Some are too young to remember their parents. Some might never have known their
own names.

And this happened in the United States of America. We essentially kidnapped other peoples’ children and now must figure out how to raise them. No amount of money can ever atone for this. Our national shame before the rest of the world is profound, or certainly should be.

Chances are good that you know, possibly love, someone who has, had, or died from opioid addition. As a widespread condition, opioid addition is relatively new, becoming a national problem over the last three decades for many reasons, primarily widespread marketing of these drugs. Nearly half a million have died and suffering continues. Among the culprits is Purdue Pharma, which aggressively marketed its OxyContin and downplayed its highly addictive qualities.

Purdue has settled with the U.S. Justice Department for roughly $8.3 billion, some of which is to go to cities, states, tribes and individuals to address the crisis. Purdue has also filed for bankruptcy, meaning that the actual dollars for damages will be far less. Other litigation continues as do possible criminal charges against Purdue and the Sackler family, which controls the company, and other Big Pharma operations.

As with the separated children, no amount of money can atone for the suffering of those addicted to legally prescribed opioids and the people who love them.

Now, on to a “happy” worry. Americans are proving once again that what we name our children is often a fashion choice. The five top girl names in the North Carolina last year were very feminine, mostly ending in “a”—Ava, Olivia, Emma, Amelia and Charlotte. There is no overlap with those of 50 years ago—Lisa, Angela, Kimberly, Tammy and Melissa. Last year brought us lots of Liams, Noahs, Williams, James and Elijahs but fewer Michaels, Davids and Roberts. Only James and William, 4th in 1969, seems to endure in popularity, numbers 1 and 4 in 2020.

In case you want sneak previews of what names are coming our way, know this. For boys, Maverick is more popular than Adam nationwide, and there are more girls named Brooklyn these days than Anna. Quickly rising names are Kairo for boys and Dior for girls.

There are limits to parental creativity, particularly in New Zealand for some reason. Courts there have nixed “Talula Does the Hula from Hawaii,” “anal,” “Stallion,” “Sex Fruit,” “Rogue,” “Fish and Chips,” “Queen Victoria,” and “Keenan Got Lucy,” among others.

Parents who stick with oldies but goldies from the naming department apparently have fewer worries.

Pictured: For those who have lost sleep over the 2020 elections, don't expect a short reprieve between election day and inauguration day — there is still plenty to worry about.

Medicaid expansion will help close gap for low income families

04 Dobbins2016 000 1Covid-19 has exposed the inadequacies of our society and economy.

All across North Carolina and here in Spring Lake we’re seeing our families, friends and neighbors go without proper health care, jobs and sufficient unemployment benefits.

North Carolina is one of only 12 states that has not adopted Medicaid expansion even though 90% of the costs would be covered by federal funds.

It is past time for our elected officials to invest in North Carolina, our citizens and our hospitals.

It’s time to send legislators to Raleigh who’ll put aside partisan politics and listen to the needs of our citizens.

We can’t afford to be short-sighted any longer; we must begin investing now.

Affordable and accessible healthcare is necessary to ensure the wellbeing of our families, friends and neighbors.

Medicaid expansion will help close the coverage gap and increase economic growth to our state.

As retired state employees, my wife and I were fortunate to have adequate insurance coverage through the North Carolina Teachers’ Retirement System.

Because of the fact that she was insured, she received great medical care and treatment.

We didn’t have to experience bankruptcy when she became terminally ill as her final medical expenses greatly exceeded $2,000,000.00.

Many citizens of Spring Lake are not as fortunate, through no fault of their own.

As the richest and most progressive country in the world, we have a responsibility to speak up in support of the less fortunate, the disenfranchised, the poor and our elderly.

I speak on behalf of the 13,000 residents of the Town of Spring Lake, many of whom are on fixed incomes, working low-wage jobs, or have no jobs at all.

Pictured: Spring Lake Mayor Larry G. Dobbins

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