It is a steep hill we climb

Last Wednesday was a day women have been waiting for, working for, speaking out of turn for, making trouble for — for hundreds of years now. 

On Jan. 20, 2021, Kamala Harris was sworn in as Vice President of the United States of America. She was given the oath of office by Justice Sonya Sotomayor, the first Hispanic, Latinx member of the Supreme Court. Later in the ceremony Jennifer Lopez performed “America the Beautiful” and the youngest ever inaugural poet, Amanda Gorman, recited her inaugural poem. 

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Grave consequences to follow assassination

The assassination of Iranian Major General Qasem Suleimani is the latest in a string of incoherent, dangerous foreign policy decisions by the United States. Not only will his death escalate tensions with Iran, already heightened since the U.S. pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, it will help consolidate power and support behind the hard-liners within the Iranian government. Killing Suleimani will not curb future attacks against Americans, it will not reduce the chance of future deaths of Americans, it will create more. Already Iran has vowed to retaliate against the United States and U.S. forces abroad, they announced that they will be restarting their nuclear program with no restrictions on uranium enrichment, and the Iraqi parliament voted to expel all U.S. troops from Iraq. 

Politics too often beats our morality

The past few weeks have demonstrated the dark direction the United States is taking in foreign policy. Our country declared Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank legal, and the Senate blocked a resolution by the House to recognize the Armenian mass killings that took place during WWI as genocide. Politics, domestic and foreign, are guiding our foreign policy far more than the information, history, and morality that should. 

Learning to relish the meaningful moments

As fall draws to a close, and the leaves turn brown to pile up on the sidewalk instead of in the trees, the cycles existing all around us become more obvious, more visible. 

My personal stressors in life are those everyone young person faces: finding employment, making enough money, trying to figure out what I will do with my life. A few nights ago, I had a dream about my grandmother, my father’s mother. She was young again in my dream (and alive) and had long, beautiful, curling blonde hair. The rest of the dream is a blur, but I remember being in awe of her beauty. As I woke up, I relished the opportunity to have been with her for a few moments. 

You don’t turn your back on friends

By Hannah McLeod • Guest Columnist

The raid that led to the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was possible because of our military presence (the brave men and women who serve), allies in the region and intelligence agencies. The president of the respected Council on Foreign Relations said on Sunday, “The irony of the successful operation against al-Baghdadi is that it could not have happened without U.S. forces on the ground that have been pulled out, help from Syrian Kurds who have been betrayed, and support of a U.S. intelligence community that has so often been disparaged.” It is true that Donald Trump has pulled troops from Syria in a hasty decision that occurred without forethought, abandoned our Kurdish allies, and regularly criticizes and undermines the work of the CIA and other intelligence agencies. Trump often criticizes these agencies as part of his “deep state” conspiracy. 

The facts are known, the outcome is not

People can disagree on whether or not Donald Trump should be removed from office. That is our right. But there can be no disagreement about the facts. 

Trump would be, technically, the third president to be impeached, following Andrew Johnson — among other things for his removal of Secretary of War Edwin Stanton —  and Bill Clinton (for having sexual relations with that woman and then lying about it under oath). Obviously Nixon was on his way but chose to flee the scene rather than undergo trial. Of those impeached, none have been removed from office. 

Let’s encourage young adults to engage

Many readers know or suspect that Hannah McLeod, who has been publishing columns semi-regularly in The Smoky Mountain News since mid-2018 after graduating from Appalachian State University, is related to me. She’s my daughter.

Hannah is smart, well-read and stays informed on happenings in our country and abroad. She can discuss literature or poetry, current events, music, movies, pop culture, geography, history, and is fluent in Spanish. She took her college classes seriously and managed to earn two undergraduate degrees. 

Evangelical fingerprints all over abortion bills

By Hannah McLeod • Guest Columnist

Living outside the United States makes it easier to ignore the day-to-day whirlwind of political and social bull that pervades our society. The back and forth, the focus on optics instead of outcome, the now-faster-than-24-hour news cycle. My days here in Costa Rica are centered around making sure everyone gets fed, that the house runs smoothly, and whether or not there is good surf. Presence is a must. 

Administration makes mistake with gender plans

The current administration is in the process of trying to erase transgender/cisgender people. If they have their way they will define gender as biologically incontrovertible, determined by genitalia at birth. This definition will exist in title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in education programs that get government financial assistance. It will also inform section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which investigates medical discrimination based on sex, in which sex includes gender identity and presentation. It would effectively relieve doctors of any obligation respect gender that may differ from genitalia at birth. 

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