What ever happened to the home of the brave?

What ever happened to the home of the brave?

FILE - In this Nov. 6, 2015, file photo, President Barack Obama speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. Even as Obama tries to make a hard case for sentencing reform, prisoner rehabilitation and confronting racial bias in policing, he has been less clear about the death penalty. Obama has hinted that his support for capital punishment is eroding, but he has refused to discuss what he might call for. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

So here's my question: What ever happened to the land of the free and the home of the brave? A gang of French citizens resident in Belgium commits a terrorist atrocity in Paris, and it's somehow President Obama's fault.

Americans didn't used to freak out this way. The Paris attacks appear to have thrown much of the nation into the kind of panic we haven't seen since ... well, since the great Ebola crisis of 2014, when many of the same people were bleating like goats and predicting a deadly epidemic that would kill us all in our beds.

That was Obama's fault too, remember? By failing to block nonexistent direct airline flights to Liberia, he'd left the U.S. vulnerable to contagion. Or something.

Because the whole world is a TV show, and the president of the United States is in charge of the script. Unless the president is named Bush, of course, in which case it's somebody else's fault.

Probably the French, actually. Remember "Freedom Fries"?

16 hours ago(0)
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How to rescue free speech in American academia

In last week's column, I described how the national anti-free speech movement poses an imminent threat to freedom of expression in American academia.

Those advocating for the anti-free speech movement attempt to interpret the "language of free speech" to their advantage so that it applies only to them, but not to others. Their analysis often cites Title IX's antidiscrimination provisions and accuses free speech advocates of using "weaponized words" to silence anti-racism protestors, but invariably ignores the long history of court decisions that have repeatedly applied First Amendment protections to offensive speech at public universities.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has had tremendous success with its Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project, which its website describes as "a national effort to eliminate unconstitutional speech codes through targeted First Amendment lawsuits."

The Los Angeles Times described FIRE's work as "the first-ever coordinated legal attack on free speech restrictions in higher education."

While the Supreme Court's decisions interpreting the First Amendment apply only to public universities, it is vital that we also protect the core values of freedom of expression at private colleges. How can this be accomplished?

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Immigrants arrive with their pasts intact

Immigrants arrive with their pasts intact

An elderly refugee walks to past the Greek-Macedonian border as tents with stranded migrants are seen in no-man's land near the northern Greek village of Idomeni, Friday, Nov. 27, 2015. Macedonia toughened rules for crossings earlier this month, in the wake of the deadly Paris attacks, restricting access to citizens from countries typically granted asylum in Europe, including Syria and Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)

WASHINGTON -- Until the advent of Donald Trump's presidential candidacy, the word "immigration" tended to mean the controlled and more-or-less legal movement of one people to another country. Oh, there were always "border troubles" here and there, but nothing to (so to speak) write home about.

Today, immigration has become a weapon of foreign policy on the part of certain states; it has become the No. 1 question, and the most irritating one, in the campaign for the presidency; and it has incorporated the intention of some failed states and brutal terrorist groups to destroy Western democracies -- from within.

Since these questions -- of where people belong, what citizenship really entails, and how important cultural identity is to human beings -- are now of utmost importance to nations like the United States and the members of the European Union, let us consider some of them, one by one.

-- Why are so many Syrians trying to emigrate, especially to Europe?

Well, of course, they are trying to escape the terrible killing fields, but few observers have noted another salient reason for the emigration outward: Syria's extraordinary population growth.

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Small Business Saturday reflects shopping changes

There is no denying the significance of Black Friday for merchants and consumers. It is a key date on the calendar for millions in preparing for the Christmas season.

But another date is growing in importance.

Held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Small Business Saturday rallies communities to support local small businesses. Now in its sixth year, Small Business Saturday is a day about which 55 percent of consumers say they are aware.

From coast to coast, many will kick off the holiday shopping season by supporting local, independent businesses. A new survey commissioned by the National Federation of Independent Business and American Express concludes more than three of four consumers (77 percent) are planning to shop small during the 2015 holiday season.

According to a report via, here are some retail trends and other things to consider as you shop at your favorite small businesses.

November 27, 2015 2:30 am(0)
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Vietnam stories have lessons for all

The Times and Democrat gets high marks for recognizing the service of Vietnam veterans in its series “Vietnam: They Served With Honor.” Each story brought me closer to the person who gave of himself when he was called upon to serve his country.

When our country pulled out of Vietnam without a victory, the veterans of that war were not heralded. In each story was a chapter of a hero who fought to preserve the integrity of the United States of America.

I thank The T&D for its presentation and those who were willing to let others know that accountability still matters regardless of the political outcome. Our military has a spirit of uniformity that passes through from generation to generation regardless of religion, creed or color, and every veteran can attest to that. It's the God factor of one nation under him.

The Vietnam era is my era and I served in the Navy. After leaving the Navy, I became an operating engineer (retired) and served 20 years as town councilman (retired from politics).

I am a 65-year-old preacher with this observation: We can all benefit from what every trained military man or woman knows that they are a part of something that's bigger than them. It can't be about you when it's on the line.

November 27, 2015 2:00 am(0)
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Be careful what you wish for

The most recent terrorist attacks against unarmed citizens in Paris have reignited the discussions about the safety that Americans feel slipping from us. One cannot help but wonder when such an attack will be performed once again on our shores. It has not gone unnoticed that President Barack Obama's indecisiveness seems to place his head in the ground while his behind is extended outward for the world to kick. Many of our country's citizens have gotten in that line to have their turn with their foot.

As a occasional Facebook participant, I have been reading with intrigue the various posts regarding the firm and resolute stance other world leaders are taking in response to ISIS' latest acts of warfare. In particular is the military response of France's President Francois Hollande and that of Vladimir Putin of Russia.

It is apparent that many in the United States seem to be longing for a similar leader for our country. A leader who will take necessary action against those who intend to cause us harm. Based on Obama's track record of “lines in the sand,” one can't help but openly wonder what our president would do if that same attack happened here.

Being a red-blooded American as I am, and a man who believes it is my responsibility to defend my family from harm, I lean toward being appreciative of the response of France's and Russia's leaders, all the while being dismayed by the pacifist response of our democratically elected (twice) leader as he focuses on the “real” threat to the world and our way of life, at least in his opinion -- the weather (climate change).

I wish we had a Ronald Reagan leading our country. He would show the world not only how to lead a nation in crisis, he would have firmly, clearly and forcefully responded ISIS by the time this article is printed. Yes, we are looking for a leader, someone who seems to care at least as much for the citizens of this country as Obama seems to have for those of Muslim heritage. But that is wishful thinking, our leader occupying the White House has a golf game he can't miss, and he can't be bothered. But do we really want a leader like Putin?

November 27, 2015 1:45 am(0)
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What are you giving to your church?

" ... and this temple lies in ruins?"

Haggai 1:6 reads, "You have sown much, and bring in little; you eat, but do not have enough; you drink, but you are not filled with drink; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he who earns wages, earns wages to put into a bag with holes."

If you are truly following Jesus Christ, then the question is: "What, really, are you giving to your church?" In this passage, Haggai, the prophet, speaking on behalf of God, is openly questioning the Jewish people (supposedly God's people) as to why they have ignored His church, all the while focusing on their homes, bank accounts and such.

Where are your first fruits going? When you get your paycheck, where does giving to the church rank in your budget? With regards to your spare time, where does your service to the church rank when you count your spent hours for the week?

I know these are "in your face" questions, but in verses 5 and 7 of chapter 1 the Lord God, both before and immediately after presenting these questions to His people, charged them to "consider your ways."

November 27, 2015 1:00 am(0)
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Flooding edition says special thanks on Thanksgiving

The Times and Democrat’s Thanksgiving Day edition includes many extras, but none more significant than the 24-page section on October’s historic flooding.

The pages will rekindle memories of those frightening days in early October and serve as a reminder that the recovery is ongoing still for many right here at home and around South Carolina.

For the record:

• Rainfall totals from the early October storm shattered records, exceeding the totals for any hurricane in South Carolina history.

• The unofficial state record for five-day total rainfall, which had stood for 107 years, was surpassed at more than a dozen reporting sites.

November 26, 2015 2:30 am(1)
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Thanksgiving’s military connection

We Americans have much to be grateful for. Every year we gather together with friends and family to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. When we do, we should be grateful as well for the service of the American military in far-flung outposts.

Thousands of American servicemen and women stationed abroad will celebrate this Thanksgiving with turkey and televised football at bases around the world. America is a military superpower; and over the course of the past 200-plus years, we have been militarily involved with almost every country on earth.

There is a surprising connection between Thanksgiving and at least one American military invasion.

In 1983, the small Caribbean island of Grenada was the site of America’s largest military intervention since the Vietnam War. Ronald Reagan had defeated Jimmy Carter in the election of 1980 to become our fortieth president. Reagan took a more aggressive view about confronting Communism than his Cold War predecessors. Political upheaval on the island of Grenada gave Reagan an opportunity to reverse militarily what he saw as a dangerous expansion of Cuban and Soviet influence.

In Grenada on Oct. 19, 1983, Bernard Coard, a hard-line communist deputy prime minister, led a coup against Prime Minister Maurice Bishop, a Marxist who had assumed power after a coup in 1979. A few days later, Bishop and two other members of his cabinet were assassinated.

November 26, 2015 2:15 am(0)
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Greatest bounty: Peace on U.S. soil

One of the things we have much to be grateful for in this country is that our wars have not been fought on our own soil.

In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris that killed more than 100 people this month, Europe declared war. But although the Paris attacks were certainly horrific and tragic, they are fortunately rare in Europe and the United States -- so rare, in fact, that when they happen they make global headlines.

But there are some countries, such as Syria, that have experienced the equivalent (in terms of civilian casualties) of one Paris attack per week for the past several years. Most of those innocents killed by the hands of these same terrorists in Syria, in Iraq, in Nigeria and in Mali die unheralded deaths.

To even the most hardened of Americans, violence and destruction on such a scale is simply inconceivable. As Americans we have become accustomed to being able to retreat from a world filled with peril to a safe place. We can choose to take a day off from the hostilities if we choose.

When we step back and consider all that has happened in the Middle East over the past year alone, with all of the chaos and death and destruction caused by a group of radical Islamic extremists, we can’t help but feel gratitude for the fact that we live in a country that is at once tolerant of all religions and intolerant of terrorist violence.

November 26, 2015 2:00 am(0)
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Great road risks await travelers for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one of the most dangerous holidays for motorists because of its five-day length and the heavy traffic caused by the high number of travelers on the road.

Last year, eight people died in crashes on South Carolina highways during the holiday weekend, an increase from five fatalities in 2013.

If present trends are an indicator, this year could be worse.

As of Nov. 24, 851 people have died on South Carolina highways, compared to 720 highway deaths during the same time period in 2014.

Deaths are up in every category: 103 pedestrians compared to 93 in 2014; 121 motorcyclists compared to 83, and 13 bicyclists compared to 13.

November 25, 2015 2:30 am(1)
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Founders didn’t intend to protect hate speech

The right to free speech does not excuse or protect hate speech. Not on college campuses, not anywhere.

When the Founders amended the Constitution, they gave special protection to people who would speak out against oppression and tyranny. The First Amendment guarantees the right to free expression, including the power to protest, because the men who fought in the American Revolution understood deeply how those in power could silence the voices of ordinary people.

The First Amendment’s true, original intent was to shield a fledgling democracy against the forces of oppression. People who use the First Amendment as a shield to defend their own hate speech are defending the very oppression that our forebears fought so hard to eliminate.

Did James Madison anticipate that in the 21st century people would use the First Amendment to defend someone’s inalienable right to smear feces in the shape of a swastika on the wall of a unisex bathroom stall at the University of Missouri? Hardly.

At Mizzou, Yale, Claremont McKenna and other institutions of higher education, racist incidents like this have sparked protests, forcing the president of Mizzou and the dean of students at Claremont to resign. Students of color and their campus allies are calling for the dismantling of power structures and systemic practices that perpetuate institutionalized racism. Students across the United States are expressing solidarity, and alumni have come together across social media platforms and in some cases in person to show their support.

November 25, 2015 2:00 am(1)
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Cry havoc –with milk & cookies

WASHINGTON -- It would be easy to call protesting college students crybabies and brats for pitching hissy fits over hurt feelings, but this likely would lead to such torrents of tearful tribulation that the nation's university system would have to shut down for a prolonged period of grief counseling.

Besides, it would be insensitive.

Instead, let me be the first to say, it's not the students' fault. These serial tantrums are a direct result of our Everybody Gets A Trophy culture and an educational system that, for the most part, no longer teaches a core curriculum, including history, government and the Bill of Rights.

They simply don't know any better.

This isn't necessarily to excuse them. Everyone has a choice whether to ignore a perceived slight -- or to form a posse. But as with any problem, it helps to understand its source. The disease, I fear, was auto-induced with the zealous pampering of the American child that began a few decades ago.

November 25, 2015 1:30 am(0)
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Elloree loses leading citizen Ralph T. Crim

CITIZENSHIP! That's the Orangeburg County Community of Character trait for November.

What is citizenship? What is a citizen? Being a citizen means you're a native from birth or have attained citizenship through the naturalization process. We live in a splendid state and county because those who've anteceded us have made them that way and because, through our efforts, they'll be improved.

In America throughout its history, people, acting alone or in groups, have spoken out for betterment. American citizens have been improvers, self-reliant, individualistic, ambitious, productive. This state of affairs provides us with the greatest sum of human happiness of all states and nations.

During the month of focus on citizenship, Elloree lost one of its best-known citizens in Ralph T. Crim, who died Nov. 17 at age 82. He will be missed in a community he served for decades.

He was a businessman, owning and operating Elloree Furniture Co. for 46 years.

November 24, 2015 2:30 am(0)
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A Pearl Harbor a la Francaise

The response of France, and the West, must be stripped of all sentimentality.

What happened in Paris on the night of Friday, Nov. 13, to Saturday, Nov. 14, is the stuff of nightmare or fiction, including for those who witnessed it. The Paris of concerts, of cafe terraces; Paris, the theater of a happy and carefree younger generation, became a scene from a bad crime series.

As has been said, war has been declared on us. This is a war carried on by a few determined individuals, ready to die, who can rise up anywhere. The disproportion is stupefying: seven or eight people can terrorize entire crowds. We are not afraid of death, the jihadists proclaim, as a way of declaring their superiority.

But it is life they fear, and so they ceaselessly trample it, slander it, destroy it and prepare candidates for martyrdom from the cradle.

Our crime is to exist; we are guilty of living in free and egalitarian societies. The true motor of fundamentalism is not so much fastidious respect for tradition (which would be akin to rigor) as fear of an existence based on autonomy, perpetual innovation and the dislocation of authority. To tolerate the West would be to come to terms with the progress of reason, free thought and individualism — and women’s rights.

November 24, 2015 2:00 am(0)
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Australian Christmas tree sets record with 518,838 lights

Australian Christmas tree sets record with 518,838 lights

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — An Australian set his third Christmas-themed world record in as many years Friday by illuminating a tree in downtow…

23 hours ago(0)

Baby red pandas at Philly zoo named Betsy and Ben, of course

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A pair of baby red pandas at the Philadelphia Zoo have been named after two of the city's most famous residents: Betsy and…

November 27, 2015 2:41 pm(0)

Former luncheonette owner chooses to die in her restaurant

HOPEWELL, N.J. (AP) — A 78-year-old woman decided to spend her final hours last month — to her very last breath — in the now-shuttered New Jer…

November 27, 2015 2:25 pm(0)

Where's the beef? Trucker steals 40,000 pounds of meat

LOGANTON, Pa. (AP) — Where's the beef? That's what authorities would like to know after someone stole 40,000 pounds of it from a meat plant in…

November 27, 2015 12:15 pm(0)

Oregon firefighters rescue owl tangled in fishing line

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — Wildlife rehabilitation workers say a great horned owl that was tangled in fishing line is resting after being rescue…

November 27, 2015 10:33 am(0)

Glitch causes bank customers to see billions in charges

HONOLULU (AP) — A technical glitch meant some First Hawaiian Bank customers logged on to their accounts to find that they appeared to be billi…

November 27, 2015 9:12 am(0)

4 people meet for first time after 2 pairs of kidney swaps

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — Four people have met for the first time since a pair of kidney swaps at a Connecticut hospital.

November 26, 2015 11:20 am(0)

Chinese gloat over Obama's turkey named Abe _ not Ah-bay

Chinese gloat over Obama's turkey named Abe _ not Ah-bay

BEIJING (AP) — President Barack Obama's pardoning of a turkey named "Abe" this Thanksgiving has led some Chinese to gloat at the Japanese prim…

November 26, 2015 7:03 am(0)

Meet John Howland, a lucky Pilgrim _ and maybe your ancestor

Meet John Howland, a lucky Pilgrim _ and maybe your ancestor

BOSTON (AP) — John Howland may not be as famous as William Bradford, John Carver and Myles Standish, notable passengers on the Mayflower that …

November 26, 2015 1:36 am(0)

Oldest known seabird is back at Midway Atoll near Hawaii

HONOLULU (AP) — Federal wildlife officials say the world's oldest known seabird has returned to Midway Atoll.

November 25, 2015 8:28 pm(0)

Inmate kicks out police window, jumps onto Arizona freeway

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Authorities in suburban Phoenix say a handcuffed and shackled inmate was seriously injured after he kicked out a window in…

November 25, 2015 5:06 pm(0)