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Acosta Accosted

03AcostaAfter a brief and not very interesting or successful teenage babysitting career, my earliest jobs were in our family’s radio business. Memorable among them was one early stint as a radio reporter. My boss was Jeff Thompson – yes, Up & Coming Weekly’s Jeff Thompson. 

We called each other “Boss” and “Scoop” and still do. Jeff taught me that journalism and our First Amendment are critical to our nation’s stability, not just for information reported but as a check on government. A big story I reported was a Fayetteville City Council meeting in which a retiring councilman voted to send the entire council, including himself and his wife, to a municipal convention far away – San Francisco, California, perhaps. Council members would travel on the city’s dime even though that particular councilman would be out of office within weeks. He did not even seem embarrassed.

Fayetteville taxpayers were all over that story and all over the short-term traveling councilman.

That story was important locally but paled, of course, in the long shadow of Watergate. That dogged investigation by The Washington Post exposed a corrupt president and ultimately led to the only presidential resignation in our nation’s history. You, I and the rest of America and history would never have known about our president’s perfidy had not two young and intrepid reporters persevered.

Fast forward to Tampa, Florida, where President Trump held a campaign-style rally just last week. Why a sitting U.S. president supposedly doing our nation’s business needs such a rally is a legitimate question, but our current president holds them regularly and revels in the applause of attendees. He must have been in hog heaven in Tampa, as supporters cheered his comments about witch hunts and his version of American diplomacy with Russia. 

What stopped me and many other First Amendment supporters in our tracks were hostile Trump true believers, at least one of whom wore a shirt emblazoned with “F*** the Media,” taunting CNN’s senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta with shouts of “CNN sucks” and raised middle fingers. I caught a glimpse of this on TV that evening myself, and my first thought was that someone is going to get hurt here, just as a young man did at a Trump campaign rally right here at our Crown Coliseum in 2016.

Blessedly, no one did get hurt that night in Tampa, but such language and behavior do nothing to strengthen our republic or bridge the deep divides among Americans with differing political views. Fueling the flames of strong emotion is Trump, who repeatedly refers to news media as “enemies of the people.” 

Apparently, the president’s fanning of the flames worries media bigwigs as diverse as New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger, who met with Trump about it last month, and Fox News anchor Shep Smith, who says flatly, “Journalists are not your enemy.”

How on Earth did we get here?

The First Amendment says this: “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

These are the words that make us different from other nations like Russia, China and North Korea, where citizens do not hear diverse news stories and points of view, where they cannot voice their own thoughts, where they cannot practice the religion they choose or none at all, where they cannot gather to peaceably disagree with their governments. This is the amendment that not only gave a firm foundation to our fledgling nation more than two centuries ago but that has sustained us through wars, including one pitting Americans against each other, depressions, and the wildly diverse points of view that make us the nation we are.

Some of us voted for Donald Trump. Some of us voted for Hillary Clinton. Some of us voted for various other candidates, and some of us sat on our sofas and watched TV. But as Jeff taught a naive and inexperienced young woman, reporting is fundamental to our nation. We Americans do not have to like the information reported, but it is critical that we love, respect and support the right to report information and opinion in all their diverse forms.

Photo: CNN correspondent Jim Acosta

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Bellflowers betrayal: A trifecta of hypocrisy

02LSF stackedHope Mills elected officials cannot seem to get over their personal and political bickering long enough to do their job of serving the residents of Hope Mills. Mayor pro tem Mike Mitchell is blinded by pettiness, but it is commissioner Jesse Bellflowers, former commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, who totally self-destructed when he turned his back on suffering military veterans, the Lone Survivor Foundation and the taxpaying residents of Hope Mills. Bellflowers disgraced the honor of all U.S. military veterans, living and deceased. So much for “No man left behind.” Bellflowers left thousands behind with his flip-flopping political antics. He single-handedly achieved an unprecedented trifecta of hypocrisy.

It’s embarrassing. 

This week, I’m yielding my space to a patriot and veteran – the honorable Don Talbot. His open letter to veterans and the community pretty much sums up the meltdown in Hope Mills. His message speaks volumes to the way Hope Mills residents and veterans alike feel about what’s going on. 

Both Don and I welcome your comments and input. Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

– Bill Bowman

To those following the saga of the Hope Mills Commissioners dealing with the offer from Lone Survivor Foundation, there are some discouraging details emerging from the meetings. 

We can start with Commissioner Bellflowers, who is a military veteran. He made the motion to revisit the proposal, and then voted against his own motion, thus postponing all action on the proposals until after a report is rendered from the Town of Hope Mills Parks & Recreation Department consultant. 

Pat Edwards was the only commissioner who voted to keep the conversation about the plans for Lake Bed #2 going. This is where it gets really interesting because information has it Mayor pro tem Mitchell had a report from the consultant stating that they (the consultant) do not recommend the use of Lake bed #2 for the Parks & Recreation department.

People need to learn the date of the information transmittal because if Mitchell withheld that report from the commissioners, then their vote to delay the proposal until fall is compromised. 

I call on the mayor and city manager of Hope Mills to investigate the timeline of the consultant’s report and when Mitchell received it.

 As The Fayetteville Observer stated in an opinion column recently, “it appears the board was too distracted by political squabbling to see the possibilities. That may turn into a loss for the town and for the veterans that Lone Survivor could serve.”

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Modern conservatives have liberal roots

05john locke“Can I speak to Mr. Locke?” During the quarter-century that I served as either president or vice president of the John Locke Foundation, we got such calls on regular basis.

Some actually wanted to talk to me and just mistook one twosyllable name beginning with “John” for another. But others thought the John Locke Foundation was a charitable foundation named after a wealthy benefactor and hoped a personal call might get them money for a local project or a school trip.

Still others believed John Locke was a former government official who had set up a think tank to advance his political philosophy, and wanted to talk to the “big man” rather than settle for a subordinate.

My standard response to the question was that callers would find it challenging to set up a conversation with Mr. Locke unless they believed in séances. He died in 1704.

John Locke was, in fact, a former government official who devoted much of his life to advancing his political philosophy of limited government and individual liberty. But independent research institutes didn’t exist in his day. While much of his early career was spent as a scholar at Oxford, Locke did most of his writing on philosophy and government – and performed most of his public service in appointive posts – as an aide to a powerful English statesman and political activist named Anthony Ashley Cooper, the first Earl of Shaftesbury.

Locke originally joined Shaftesbury’s household and political retinue as his personal physician, and Locke helped save his life after Shaftesbury’s chronic liver condition grew acute enough to require surgery. Later, during the late 1660s and early 1670s, Locke helped Shaftesbury oversee the new Carolina colony, write its constitution and even design the street grids and land-use rules for Charleston and other cities to be founded across the Carolinas.

When Shaftesbury began contesting power with other English politicians and the Stuart monarchy, Locke again helped him plot strategy and convert abstract philosophical ideas into distinct principles and concrete proposals. Locke would later influence Western philosophy with his own powerful writings, both on questions of how we can come to know the truth of things (epistemology) and how the coercive power of government ought to be used to protect individual rights and serve the public good (political philosophy).

When the North Carolinians who founded what would open its doors in early 1990 as the John Locke Foundation discussed the potential name of the North Carolina think tank, we considered a variety of options. Some state-based research institutes have simple, descriptive names, such as those of our neighboring peers the South Carolina Policy Council and the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.

Other think tanks honor American founders or other historical figures from the states in question, such as New Hampshire’s Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, which is named after New Hampshire’s famous former governor, chief justice and signer of the Declaration of Independence. The president of the Josiah Bartlett Center happens to be a former John Locke Foundation colleague, Andrew Cline.

In the end, we decided on John Locke. He never ventured across the Atlantic. But as the founder of political liberalism, and with some historical ties to the Carolinas, Locke was just the right fit.

As our philosophy is usually called conservative, why choose a liberal namesake? Because the classical liberalism of Locke helped to shape what is now termed modern American conservatism.

During the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries, when liberals and conservatives competed for office and influence, they were debating the proper balance between liberty and order. But the rise of socialist, populist, and progressive movements in the late 19th and early 20th centuries pushed classical liberals and conservatives into an alliance to defend limited government and market economics.

One Carolina legacy of John Locke and his patron Anthony Ashley Cooper is the iconic city of Charleston, nestled between the Ashley and Cooper rivers. The other can be found further north, in the think tank whose board I still proudly chair.

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The Buffalo Soldiers

15Buffalo Soldiers PhotoIf you have lived in Fayetteville for any amount of time, you have probably been stuck in traffic while hundreds of motorcyclists jam up the roads in some kind of motorcycle procession. I know times like this may be frustrating, but your patience and understanding help others safely travel to raise money for various charities, groups and individuals in the area.

One of these charitable groups is the Fayetteville Chapter Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club of the National Association of Buffalo Soldiers & Trooper Motorcycle Club.

On July 21, Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club presented five checks for $1,000 each to five high school students. The gift was part of the club’s College Scholarship of Excellence awards. The recipients of this year’s academic achievement awards are Nyah Kite, Harnett Central High; Destiny McMillian, Fairmount High; Mailyn Nelson, E.E. Smith; Myles Nooks, E.E. Smith; and Jesenia Ortiz-Ruiz, Cumberland International Early College High School.

The Buffalo Soldiers’ proud history originally started with members of the 10th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army, formed Sept. 21, 1866, at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. This nickname was given to the all-black cavalry by Native American tribes who fought in the Indian Wars. The term eventually became synonymous with all of the African-American regiments formed in 1866 and still celebrated today.

The heroic efforts of the original Buffalo Soldiers led to the creation of a motorcycle club named in their honor. The Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club of North Carolina was formed June 1, 2001. The idea was to have Fayetteville and the state of North Carolina represented by some of the finest military and civilian personnel and to also uphold the legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers from the 9th and 10th Calvary.

For more information about the Buffalo Soldiers motorcycle club, visit www.ncbuffalosoldiers.com or contact their Public Relation Committee chair, Dorian “ShoTime” Brunson at shotime.bsmc@gmail.com.

If there is a topic you would like to discuss, you can contact me at motorcycle4fun@aol.com. RIDE SAFE!

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Double secret diplomacy for fun and profit

04PutinRecent world news events from Helsinki reminded me of Aunt Pitty Pat Hamilton’s great line in “Gone with the Wind” as the Northern army is about to invade Atlanta. Aunt Pitty is getting ready to lam out of town when a large explosion shakes the ground. Pitty shrieks, “Yankees in Georgia! How did they ever get in?”

Guess who’s coming to dinner at the White House this fall? Putin in the Oval Office. How did he ever get in? As Jules in “Pulp Fiction” would say, “Allow me to retort. What does Vladimir Putin look like?” He looks like the new boss. Same as the old boss. Herein lies my wildly speculative analysis of what’s happening under the rocks in Washington, D.C.

Unless you have personally been living under a rock at the outskirts of town, you probably saw Our Dear Glorious Very Stable Genius President standing next to Putin in Helsinki after their Double Secret Summit. They agreed to put NATO and Western Europe on Triple Totally Unsecret Probation. Dear Leader stood at attention beside Putin after being questioned about whether Russia had interfered with the American election. Dear Leader announced, “I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.” Our Dear Leader didn’t say it, but his thought balloon said: “And in addition, President Putin is a manly man, a thing of beauty to behold, and I really, really hope he asks me to the prom.”

There has been much speculation about what happened in the Double Secret meeting between Dear Leader and Putin. No one really knows, not even Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence – at least he was the director at the time of this writing; he may be given the James Comey bum’s rush by the time this stain on world literature hits print.

Some might think the director of national intelligence ought to know what is happening at the highest levels of security in the American government. Some would then be wrong. It’s a secret that only Dear Leader and Putin know. The rest of the world – and we American peons – will have it sprung upon us on a need-to-know basis.

This does gives rise to the opportunity to imagine all sorts of things that Dear Leader promised to do for Putin in return for Putin keeping his mouth shut about whatever dirt he has on Dear Leader. Let us commence to wildly speculate.

Despite widespread condemnation of Dear Leader’s failure to stand up for American intelligence agencies and law enforcement while kissing Putin’s ring, Dear Leader invited Putin to the White House for round two of his performance review. Putin is coming to Washington this fall on an inspection tour of his newly acquired property at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. The usual unreliable sources have revealed that in honor of Putin’s visit, Dear Leader is going to have the White House literally turned upside down like the Upside-Down House at Broadway at the Beach in Myrtle Beach. The White House will be painted red in Putin’s honor and will remain upside down and red throughout the rest of Dear Leader’s time in office.

Another unfounded rumor has it that the reflecting pool in front of the Washington Monument will be drained and filled with Stolichnaya Vodka.

One of the Double Secret Summit’s deals was to have the Russian Secret Police interrogate Michael McFaul, the former U.S. Ambassador to Russia, for possible crimes against the Commies. Unfortunately, this deal fell through when American public opinion turned against having an American diplomat submitted to the tender mercies of Russia’s intelligence agency. Putin must be mollified for the loss of getting an American diplomat to twist slowly, slowly in the Moscow wind. The rumor mill has it that Dear Leader will send Hillary Clinton, James Comey, Dan Coats and a future undisclosed draft choice to a Gulag in Siberia to be debriefed by the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence service. As a consolation prize for not getting Ambassador McFaul, Putin will absorb Montenegro, Freedonia and The Grand Dutchy of Fenwick into the growth industry that is Russia in 2018.

Dear Leader has agreed to appoint Rufus T. Firefly as the new director of national intelligence and a hollow log as the director of the CIA, as both appointees have been carefully vetted and approved by Putin. So, keep watching your TV. An exciting fall season of Russian influence is coming to a ballot box near you.

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