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Who runs the U.S.? We’ve always known that money and politics go hand in hand, but these days that seems to be truer than ever. Do what you want at the voting booth, but it’s Wall Street bankers and corporate bigwigs who pull the strings that make our politicians move this way or that way.

It must have been a mom who coined the adage “time flies.” I swear it feels like last week when I was a seventh-grade teacher having contractions in the Waynesville Middle School cafeteria and barely making it to the hospital before my water broke.

Martin A. Dyckman • Guest Columnist

A hero is, almost by definition, someone who didn’t set out to be one. That thought is prompted by the New York Times Sunday page-one profile of our North Carolina Senator Richard Burr. Will he be the nation’s hero in the greatest constitutional crisis since Watergate four decades ago?

According to the article, Burr — a Republican — didn’t want to be assigned to the Senate Intelligence Committee, much less to chair it, as he does now.

When my wife brought up the possibility of camping at this year’s Merlefest — a four-day and three-night music festival in Wilkes County — naturally, we thought she had taken ill or had just awakened from a bad dream, which will sometimes cause her to say things like, “Did you put away the jar of spiders” or “No, you cannot borrow my helicopter.”

When I read about Wicked Weed Brewing getting bought by AB InBev (formerly Budweiser) — one of the world’s largest brewing conglomerates — my instinct was to be incensed at the decision.

For years, this newspaper has been a very vocal advocate of the homegrown, buy local movement whose roots reach deep into these mountains. As late as the 1950s there were pockets of Appalachia where people still grew, raised, hunted and made a great deal of what they needed to survive. Nowhere else in this country is the resolve to be independent from governmental authority and corporate marketers worn so easily and proudly by so many.

I’ve tried hard to keep grief out of my columns lately. There’s only so much melancholy and broken-heartedness readers can take when reading the weekly paper over a cup of coffee. But with this Sunday being Mother’s Day, I couldn’t help but write a little about my own mom today.

At some point in the future, here’s something you might never hear again: “I was born in Franklin.”

Look no further than this Macon County town if you want stare right in the face of the agonizing state of the health care crisis in this country. Due strictly to bottom-line concerns, officials who run Angel Medical Center say come July the hospital will no longer deliver babies. Too expensive, too much of a losing proposition.

“What? Over? Did you say ‘over’? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!”

— John “Bluto” Blutarsky, Animal House, 1978

“I mean had Andrew Jackson been a little bit later you wouldn’t have had the Civil War. He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart …. People don’t realize, you know, the Civil War, if you think about it, why?”

— Donald J. Trump, White House, 2017

By Martin A. Dyckman • Guest Columnist

Russian paratroopers dropping on the White House lawn could scarcely do more damage to the United States than what the North Carolina Senate called for last week: a convention of the states to tear up the U.S. Constitution. How Donald Trump would love that.

At 37, I’m still sorting out what I want to be when I grow up. 

When I was 8, I sent a children’s book to a publisher in Raleigh. Last Tuesday, I submitted a children’s book to several publishers. In between those two submission dates, I have been a waitress, sales associate, school psychologist, English teacher, essential oil distributor, instructional coach, social media manager and writer.

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