More Columns

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The vigilance of an informed public is vital to the success of a democratic society. It requires an open and responsive government and a media to keep watch over the duly elected leadership.

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Sitting in the darkened balcony of Sanford’s Temple Theatre last Friday evening and watching a lively, sold-out production of the musical “Footloose” on the well-worn stage below, I found myself pondering two questions in between bursts of applause.

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I’m from New York. You got a problem with that? No, seriously, do I amuse you? You think I am sort of a clown?

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This should never have happened. The election of Donald Trump as president is, to put it mildly, a travesty. Even Trump was surprised. No one in this country thought he would win.

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I am writing this essay as Christmas, as we have come to know it, draws to a close — Dec. 25. Our stomachs are full, the dishes are clean, and the wrapping strewn all about for much of the day has been corralled in. Wonderful gifts both given and received.

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Way back in the spring of this year, Steve Bouser, intrepid editor of The Pilot’s Opinion pages, convened a group of some of us regular columnists to discuss our collective efforts.

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When I was a young boy, I loved baseball as much as anything. The first team I played for went 14-0; we even got our picture in the newspaper. The next year, we lost our first three games. And it was then that I finally learned what the game was all about.

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Famed Pulitzer-winning columnist Jimmy Breslin once told a story about the day Richard Nixon resigned. He was sitting in the office of future House Speaker Tip O’Neill and watching Nixon leave the South Lawn of the White House as Gerald Ford was sworn in as the 38th president of the United States.

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Have you heard the latest kerfuffle from Camp-Trump? It seems the Donald, or someone speaking on his behalf, has suggested that if Trump does not win, there will be — get this — “a taco truck on every corner.”

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Trevor Noah, host of “The Daily Show,” recently remarked that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were the two luckiest candidates in history: They are each running against the only person they could have any chance to beat.

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The national political conventions this summer will bring part of the painfully torturous campaign of 2016 near to its end. And with that final death knell, a grateful nation will breath a collective sigh of relief.

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Last week, The New York Times reported that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has strong support among the evangelical community. Then it was announced that Jerry Falwell Jr. has endorsed him.

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For Christmas in 1983, my father generously gave me the world’s best portable electric typewriter. It did everything the fancy office models could do. A Smith-Corona Supreme — I loved that typewriter.

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Last month, when Vice President Joe Biden announced he would not be running for president in 2016, he was saying goodbye to electoral politics. His name will probably never appear on a ballot again.

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At the very beginning of my days working in politics, I learned early polling was nearly always indicative of only one thing: name recognition. Has the voter ever heard of the candidate? What they say and believe is not that important.

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My friend died last month of brain cancer. We were not very close, but we were good friends nonetheless. We shared a portion of our youthful adult years and a few pizzas and pitchers of beer along the way — and the shared hope that his father would one day become president.

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Our town is blessed with many wonderful retirement communities. Penick Village, in particular, is a true extension of Southern Pines itself.

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It has been a very long time since I was in fourth grade, and I don’t have kids. I have fond memories of meeting good friends — some of whom I still keep in touch with.

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After the “crack” tawdry news organization TMZ aired footage of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice slugging and knocking out his girlfriend, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has come under fire. He has failed miserably in taking care of the matter.

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A concerted effort is being made to put on our best face while The Opens are in town. After all, the world is watching.

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The Bicentennial year 1976 — think “Happy Days” and “Laverne & Shirley” — was the last election campaign in which neither a Bush nor a Clinton ran for president of the United States.

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In Great Britain, it is said, a hamlet becomes a “village” when it builds a church. In Southern Pines, a village was built when the Episcopal Church opened a retirement community for ministers.

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As I have grown to expect, a Christmas card from my good friend Monica is usually the first I get every year, and it often lands in the very first week of December. She is joyously, if not painfully, well-organized.

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I cannot think of a single invitation that was packed with more kindness than the one I got that day. It was Father’s Day 2003, and I was at St. Alban’s church in the shadow of the National Cathedral. The day, that year, was of no particular interest — my father had died the previous fall.

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Locally, the Moore County Department of Social Services recently challenged folks to see if they could live within this budget. And Vice President Joe Biden’s family has made a similar call to raise awareness of hunger here and around the world. I wanted to see what this was like, so for seven days I fed myself on $3 a day, just to prove it could be done.