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Who Knew?

03 MELANIA copyLove him or loathe him, Americans know a great deal about Donald Trump. We know about his three marriages to foreign-born and/or women who model. We know about his five children with three different mothers, and we know about his nonexistent wellness routine involving a penchant for fast food. 

We know much less about the personal lives and habits of most of the contenders for the Democratic nomination, all of whom want to oust Trump. At last Google, 24 Democrats — not all of them household names by any means — have announced the candidacies. Most of us know next to nothing about most of them — other than political positions, and probably not much of those. 

In addition, for only the second time in United States history, there is a chance that the presidential spouse might actually be a first gentleman, not a first lady. Here are three men staring at that possibility. 

The Huffington Post says Bruce Mann is the husband Elizabeth Warren refers to as “sweetie.” The presidential hopeful couple live in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with Bailey, their golden retriever, when they are not on the campaign trail. Married for nearly 39 years, they met at a law conference in Florida and married in 1980, after Warren proposed to Mann in a college classroom. Like his wife, Mann’s career has been as a law professor, though she got tenure at Harvard before he did. Huff Post speculates that Mann, who favors front-zip sweaters, would wear traditional suits by American designers for inaugural events.

Kamala Harris also married a fellow lawyer, Douglas Emhoff, a partner in a Los Angeles-Washington firm and a transplanted New Yorker. The two met on a blind date set up by a mutual friend. Shortly thereafter, Emhoff dropped to his knee and proposed. Harris said yes, and they celebrate their fifth anniversary this month. Harris calls Emhoff her best friend and sous chef, because they enjoy cooking together. Emhoff is Jewish, and Huff Post speculates that his holiday theme for the White House would involve multi-cultural celebrations.

Jonathan Gillibrand, whose presidential-hopeful wife, Kristen, took his name when they married in 2001, is a British national and business consultant. The couple met on a blind date. When he proposed using a snowball as a prop to hold the engagement ring, the bride-to-be almost threw the snowball at a squirrel before she realized she should open it. The couple has two sons. Huff Post speculates that he would want pints of Guinness served at the White House Christmas Party.

Huff Post forgot a fourth potential first gentleman, Chasten Buttigieg, husband of Pete Buttigieg. At 29, he is by far the youngest of the first gentleman hopefuls. At the moment, he is on leave from his job as a Montessori teacher in South Bend, Indiana, helping his husband campaign for president. The couple met four years ago and married in June of 2018, making them potentially the first same-sex couple to live in the White House. Chasten Buttigieg has been quoted as saying his priorities as first gentleman would be improving public education, access to arts education, and mental health.

Moving along, other aspects of the campaign trail are getting attention as well. 

The Huff Post also wanted to know how candidates in the crowded field are taking care of themselves — physically, mentally and spiritually. 

Cory Booker says that in the mornings he exercises, meditates and reads something not given to him by his staff.

Kamala Harris says she goes to spin cycle classes and cooks for herself, adding this. “You have to work out. … It has nothing to do with your weight. It’s about your mind.”

Kirsten Gillibrand works out in the early mornings in women-owned studios and also attends Christian worship services.

And, former Vice President Joe Biden? According to his staff, Biden stops regularly on the campaign trail for a scoop or two of ice cream, which they view as a form of self-care.

Perhaps that is why Biden remains the Democratic frontrunner.

We deserve transparency on Civil War Center

02 pub penBelow is an editorial that appeared in The Fayetteville Observer on Saturday, Aug. 17. It was written by Troy Williams a local resident, journalist, legal analyst, WIDU radio personality and member of The Fayetteville Observer’s Community Advisory Board. It is being reprinted with the permission of Lorry Williams, executive editor of The Fayetteville Observer. It is an excellent piece of journalism that exposes and articulates many of the suspicions and serious concerns Fayetteville citizens have about the governing attitudes radiating from city hall and the mayor’s office specifically. Many people, including myself, feel the mayor and many of his closest constituents have intentionally used false claims, accusations and threats of racism to intimidate and gain political favor and advantage or as a vehicle to distract the public attention away from failed corrupt political activities or basic incompetencies. Transparency and the media are not friends to this kind of regime. Expect journalists like Troy Williams and Karl Merritt and community newspapers like Up & Coming Weekly to come under attack in an effort to eliminate the public’s access to local media providing facts, information and the truth. This is what newspapers do. And, what the First Amendment is all about. Besides, this weekly community newspaper is on record as being the city of Fayetteville’s biggest advocate for over 23 years. It’s highly inconceivable and practically impossible that Up & Coming Weekly’s journalistic mission and mandate of advocating for the citizens of Fayetteville/Cumberland County by providing fair, transparent and honest community coverage would actually change overnight just because of political or racial reasons. This is not who we are. Enjoy.

— Bill Bowman

    Up & Coming Weekly Publisher

 

Fayetteville’s City Council approved a rezoning request earlier this week.

The rezoning for the North Carolina Civil War and Reconstruction History Center will move the multimillion-dollar project a step closer to becoming a reality in Cumberland County. While the council is moving forward, Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin is doubling down in his efforts to thwart the project. According to a WNCN news story, the mayor’s stated objections are racial tensions and funding.

A couple of months ago, Colvin sent me a text. He said, “Brother, do you have a candid interest in resolving the conflict about the civil war, or is it just a topic of interest right now? This is a genuine question. If so, when will you start to employ bridge-building efforts? I am available on Friday if you are serious about it.”

Colvin was referring to appearing on my radio morning talk show as a guest, and I agreed to have him on air with me Friday, June 7.

The interview did not go well, and I’ll admit to the part I played. I felt Colvin strayed away from his original stated objective of bridge-building. He decided to dig in deeper with his opposition to the project, and it turned into a cantankerous dialog with us taking shots at each other. During the back-and-forth, Colvin declared that he had received numerous emails from citizens in opposition to the project.

After the interview, I became more interested in these alleged emails, and I decided to make a public records request to see them. The following Monday, my official request for access to the emails was in the hands of the city’s corporate communications officer, the city manager, city attorney and the mayor. My request for emails related to the project specifically targeted Colvin’s official city email and his private account, as well. Within a few days, the corporate communications officer had honored my request and much to my surprise, the numerous alleged emails turned out to be one email. I was disappointed because the mayor’s statements to the listeners on my radio show were misleading. At a minimum, what he said was disingenuous.

Is there some significant racial opposition from African-Americans for this project? I don’t think so. Is there an intentional effort by some to make this racially divisive? I’m convinced there is. One former minority Fayetteville city employee, an attorney, referred to the center as a KKK project on a social media page. These kinds of comments are inflammatory and meant to divide our community. Colvin says he will work to get public hearings scheduled to talk about the center. An African-American elected official said that an attempt was also made earlier this year to get key members of the African-American community to conduct a public hearing. The hearing would not have been sanctioned by the city. The proposed meeting failed because of lack of interest. It remains to be seen how successful Colvin will be trying to accomplish the same thing through City Hall.

The mayor’s two main reasons for opposition to the center are supposedly racial tensions and funding. Let’s deal with the funding question first. Fayetteville’s contribution to this project is an investment. The annual projected return is going to be a plus for Fayetteville and Cumberland County. You don’t have to be an economic genius to figure this out. It’s basic math. How can you deny the positives of $20 million a year coming to our community? Colvin continued with WNCN news, “You wouldn’t want to have a $20 million economic positive impact with a community that’s in an uproar or divided, so you have to weigh what’s the interest of the city of Fayetteville and Cumberland County.” I’m still looking for all the uproar and divided things within our community. The only instances of such that I’ve seen thus far are coming from the mayor’s office. I’m not saying it doesn’t exist. Maybe it does, but share the evidence with the rest of the community, and it needs to be more than one email. Don’t treat this center like your downtown business with silent partners who don’t want to be identified. If there is significant opposition for this project, no matter where it’s coming from, there ought to be transparency, and the whole community ought to know.

I have to credit the mayor though; he’s a real Democrat. His comment, “Over the last two years our country has really moved in a different direction with race relations, so I just want to make sure that we are thoughtful in the process,” is a swipe at President Trump. I’m not going to debate the merits of his comments. I am taking issue with his assertions that we need to put our lives on hold because of what’s happening on Capitol Hill. The so-called racial tension is all the more reason why we need this center. The truth needs to be told, Mr. Mayor, ask your preacher. The scripture says, “The truth shall make you free.”

Dog Men, friend or foe

04 Dog manRight now you are probably asking yourself, “What are Dog Men, and how should I feel about them?”

As a public service, today’s column is going to give you something new and exotic to worry about - Dog Men. America in the first quarter of the 21st century has a short attention span. We keep running out of things to concern us in the middle of the night. Trade wars, mass shootings, Mueller reports and bizarre weather events all fade into oblivion as the next fresh horror appears in the collective consciousness. 

Dear Leader himself has warned that the Chinese are not going to capitulate to his tariff trade war because they are waiting to see if a Democrat is elected to replace him in 2020. The Democrats are warning that the Russians will again be supporting Dear Leader’s re-election in 2020. This leaves America in the interesting position of the Chinese trying to manipulate our election to support the Democratic nominee and the Russians trying to manipulate our election to support Dear Leader. What could go wrong under these circumstances? Both the Chinese and the Russians want what is best for America. Pick your poison: A Chicom- or a Russkie-supported U.S. President. But even this colorful situation divides the country into tribes. 

What America needs in addition to a good five-cent cigar is a single issue to worry about that will unite us as one nation again. We need a boogie man who unites both the Left and the Right into a single fearful mass concerned about our collective self-preservation instead of dividing us up into political Shiites versus Sunnis. Fortunately, we have such an issue that will bring America together again: the rise of the Dog Men. The late great singer Warren Zevon once sang, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” Warren is now sleeping, but his words linger on to guide us into yet another sleepless night. If you feel sleep is a waste of time that you should be devoting to worrying when the sun goes down, this column is for you. Lurking on the far edges of the internet and late-night a.m. radio are Dog Men. You may never have heard of Dog Men, but today you shall. Anxiety about Dog Men can fill in the vacuum in your bucket of worries to help keep you awake at night. 

Let us begin with a primer on Dog Men. Unsurprisingly, Dog Men are an unholy cross between dogs and men. A website devoted to Dog Men defines them as “cryptozoological beings that are large and look like upright canids.” I had to look up the meaning of the word “canid” because initially, I thought a canid was a candied sweet potato that could stand on two legs. I visualized a giant sweet potato — covered in marshmallows — stalking through the forests of North America looking for a roasted turkey to consume. It turns out a canid is not a sentient ambulatory sweet potato. According to the Google machine, a canid is a member of the species that includes dogs, wolves, foxes, jackals and dingoes. With the mention of dingoes as members of the canid species, I was sorely tempted to take a cheap shot at the dietary habits of dingoes. Displaying incredible self-restraint, I will resist the opportunity to quote Meryl Streep and Elaine Benes, who both famously said, “The Dingo ate my baby.” If a dingo could eat your baby, imagine what a Dog Man could do to a grown man. 

There are two types of Dog Men: the K-9 type, which looks like “Sasquatch with a muzzle,” who have canine-type legs without knees and very large heads and Type-2 Dog Men, who  have human-type legs with knees and ankles, featuring claws on their fingers and toes. Dog Men tend to live in the deep forests with only occasional sightings by humans. However, some urban Dog Men have been sighted in Washington, D.C., making laws in Congress. Dog Men occasionally attack people, but most encounters with Dog Men result in the observer getting away without being mangled. 

Contrary to popular belief, Dog Men are not nocturnal. They have been seen at both day and night. There are numerous websites devoted to Dog Men on the internet if you need an additional source of worry. 

So what have we learned today? Sadly, once again, almost nothing of use. It is sad to think that a tree had to die to allow this stain on world literature to be printed. 

To prevent this column from being a total waste of your time, allow me to leave you with a couple of quotes. Groucho Marx said, “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” 

Mark Twain advised: “If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.” 

If these quotes apply to Dog Men, you can decide if sleeping is still an option. 

Dog Men are an unholy cross between dogs and men 

State censorship poses big risk

05 JudgeTo the extent Facebook, Google, Twitter, YouTube and other online companies engage in viewpoint discrimination against conservatives and Republicans, they deserve condemnation and ridicule. But do they also merit oversight by lawmakers or regulators?

 Some politicians and talking heads appear to think so. They argue that when media companies de-platform individuals or institutions they label as “extremists,” or use search algorithms to steer readers away from such accounts or sites, the companies exhibit their own political biases by focusing on right-wing rather than left-wing actors — and fail to distinguish between challenging thinkers and mischievous provocateurs.

 So far, so good. But some go on to recommend that government respond to such corporate missteps in some fashion, through new laws or new regulations on online companies. However diseased our body politic may be at the moment, there is no cure to be found in de jure or de facto censorship.

 For conservatives, in particular, to suspend their traditional skepticism of big-government initiatives when it comes to online media strikes me as distressing and dangerous. There is no question which institution poses the greater long-term threat to freedom. I resent corporate bullies. I fear government bullies.

As a consumer, I choose which social media accounts to create, which websites to read and which search engine to employ. I certainly know what “network effects” and “path dependency” mean. If misbehavior prompted me to exit a popular online service, I know I’d pay a price, at least in the short run, by losing access to lots of contacts and information. But I’d still be free to leave and to patronize a new service that didn’t engage in pervasive viewpoint discrimination.

Would it truly be possible to create a competing service? I’ll answer that rhetorical question with another one: How worried are you that Netscape or Myspace will discriminate against you because of your political beliefs?

 Not very, I’ll wager, because you probably don’t use these products. Two decades ago, as the online world was growing by leaps and bounds, some 90% of internet users employed Netscape Navigator to surf the web. About a decade ago, serious people were asking whether Myspace was a “natural monopoly” given its overwhelming dominance in the new sector of online social networks. As of 2008, Myspace accounted for nearly three-quarters of all social-network traffic.

 Neither dominator remained dominant. As the Cato Institute’s Ryan Bourne explained in a recent paper on the subject, predictions of monopoly power have often proved ill-founded, particularly in our Information Age economy. It would be especially foolish to turn today’s market leaders into some version of regulated public utilities, as that would “entrench existing positions and deter entry into sectors that over longer periods would otherwise be incredibly dynamic,” Bourne observed.

 Any institution that tries to limit what is said, broadcast and shared on the internet will find the job taxing, frustrating and counterproductive. Corporations will struggle with it. Governments will, too. That’s because all institutions are populated by the same species — by human beings with our built-in predispositions and limitations. As my John Locke Foundation colleague John Guze put it, “absolute certainty is not an option. On the contrary, fallibility across the board is an inescapable part of the human condition.”

The difference is that our transactions with corporations, even market leaders on the internet, are typically voluntary. Compliance with government directives is mandatory.

I have no confidence in the ability of lawmakers or regulators to keep their political preferences out of any oversight role they might assume in the content of online media. That’s not because I think they are horrible people. I simply know that they are people subject to the same temptations as the rest of us.

 Their access to the coercive power of government should be restricted to cases in which life, liberty and property are in danger. That means police and the courts. It means regulating specific threats to public health and safety. It does not mean attempting to police online platforms.

Any institution that tries to limit what is said, broadcast and shared on the internet will find the job taxing, frustrating and counterproductive.

Way, way beyond overdue

03 GunMany Americans—I among them—thought that the bloody gunshot murders of 20 first graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December of 2012 would be the straw that broke the back of the gun lobby and would usher in reasonable gun laws that still respect the Second Amendment. Who on God’s green Earth could have imagined that it would be acceptable for young children, babies really, to be gunned down in their construction-papered classrooms?

It was and apparently still is — because the carnage continues.

Since Sandy Hook, the following mass shootings have taken place in our country, according to CNN chronicling, all but one by a single, male American shooter. There are, of course, many others not listed that killed fewer people.

September 2013—12 people killed at the Washington Navy Yard.

June 2015—nine people killed in the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

October 2015—nine killed and nine others injured at Umpqua Community College in Oregon.

December 2015—14 killed at an employee gathering by a married couple who left their baby with relatives in San Bernardino, Carolina.

June 2016—at least 49 people were killed and more than 50 injured inside a nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

October 2017—58 were killed and nearly 500 injured at a concert venue in Las Vegas, Nevada.

November 2017—25 people were killed and 20 injured at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

February 2018—17 killed and at least 17 others injured in Marjory Stone-man Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

May 2018—10 killed at a high school in Santa Fe, Texas.

October 2018—11 killed at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

November 2018—12 killed at a bar and grill in Thousand Oaks, California.

May 2019—12 killed and at least four injured in a city building in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

August 2019—22 killed, including parents shielding their 2-month-old ba-by, and more than two dozen injured in a Walmart in El Paso, Texas.

August 2019—less than 24 hours after the El Paso shooting, nine killed, including the gunman’s own sister, and 27 injured in an entertainment area of Day-ton, Ohio.

Death toll—246 innocent people, minding their own business, shot dead.

Truth be told, it is difficult to remember all of these because we in the United States have had so many mass shootings that in some ways, we have come to expect them. No other nation on earth tolerates anything like the number and scale of gunshot murders we experience all over our nation, most recently two in one 24-hour period. 

No other nation tolerates weapons of mass killing in the hands of ordinary citizens, either. In the wake of the latest carnage come the predictable calls for increased gun control. High on the priority list because they are easy to support for law-makers and even Donald Trump are red flag laws. They would require others to alert law enforcement when they think a person is dangerous. More difficult, but supported by law enforcement, are domestic terrorism laws similar to international terrorism laws enacted after 9/11. Also under discussion are widely sup-ported-universal background checks before someone can legally purchase a gun. Ditto for longer waiting periods before acquiring a gun. Most controversial of all are bans on assault weapons like the ones used in this month’s mass murders in El Paso and Dayton, weapons designed for military use to kill as many people as possible in a short time. No one “needs” these.

Sending “thoughts and prayers,” mouthing platitudes about beefing up mental health care, making symbolic and often unwelcome visits to scenes of massacres are no longer adequate to address the growing carnage in our country. 

Taking no action, which has been our national response, is a decision to allow mass killings to continue. This is not a Republican problem. It is not a Democratic problem. It is an American problem, and the first step in addressing any problem is acknowledging that we have one. Americans of good faith and good conscience must demand this and serious action from our leaders.

Sending “thoughts and prayers,” mouthing platitudes about beefing up mental health care, making symbolic and often unwelcome visits to scenes of massacres are no longer adequate to address the growing carnage in our country. 

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