Opinion

In observance of the Thanksgiving holiday this week, it might be a good time to take stock of the world and our place in it. As bombs and rockets explode on battlefields around the globe, we can take comfort in our relative security at home even as U.S. troops remain in the danger zone in Afghanistan. The bitterness and rancor from the election just past is starting to recede in most quarters, though there are some for whom the fear and loathing for the other side will remain, although hopefully we won’t have to hear it so much anymore.

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Bill Hammond, the president and CEO of the Texas Association of Business, issued a prediction this week. By 2040, if current trends continue in Texas, one-third of Texas adults would not have a high school diploma, Hammonds said. His concern strikes me as being very similar to the little boy who killed his parents and then pleaded for mercy before the judge on the grounds he was now an orphan.

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2012 has been a crazy year in presidential politics, from Rick Perry’s suggestion that Texas might secede from the Union to Rick Santorum railing against all forms of birth control to Newt Gingrich’s talk of an American colony on the moon by the end of his second term. While that is unlikely to occur in the foreseeable future – either a lunar colony or a Gingrich presidency – those bizarre notions might have been surpassed this week by the Republican nominee for president, former Gov. Mitt Romney, who appeared on the CBS News program 60 Minutes.

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As we mark the second week since the Beaumont Independent School District got caught letting a bigoted principal shut down an adult cosmetology class rather than admit a gay student, some things never seem to change. Once again a district functionary commits a clearly wrong act, triggering the typical BISD response – first deny, then lie.

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One of the things that sets America apart from most other countries is the freedom we enjoy to give our opinions and basically say what we want to say. The importance of this right was reflected in numerous quotes of Thomas Jefferson who placed freedom of speech and freedom of the press at the highest level of our constitutionally guaranteed liberties. The right to speak one’s mind was further reinforced by a revolutionary new concept in America when early on our Supreme Court ruled that truth was a defense to libel and slander.

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Prejudice is an ugly thing. After decades of struggle to promote equality in these United States of America, we obviously have a more just society than the one we inherited from previous generations. But there is still plenty to be accomplished on the road to equality, despite unmistakable progress.

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My kids and my husband were off to do something fun, and I readily admit, I wanted to go and share their afternoon with them. I wanted to be with those I love, have some fun, and see and hear about what they were enjoying.

However, somewhere in my brain, and perhaps my heart, I knew I had work to do and I also knew I needed to get it done while I was fresh and alert. At the end of a tiring and busy day, my writing would suffer.

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Recently, prompted by a Republican rant about how America’s economy and the world would be better off if we would only get government off the backs of corporations, I engaged in a sometimes dangerous exercise. I started thinking about it. Almost every speech Mitt Romney or his surrogates make contains the same philosophy. They talk about how, if we simply gave tax breaks to corporations and rich people, and did away with the oppressive regulations, we would free up the job creators to produce untold numbers of jobs, and we would all once again be prosperous, rolling in dough.

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The Beaumont City Council has been a fairly congenial body in recent years, mostly devoid of the grandstanding, pandering and petty bickering often seen among elected officials who represent diverse constituencies. The norm on this council has been to build consensus, finding areas of compromise and agreement. This is often accomplished out of the public eye, which is a discussion for another day. But in recent weeks, an ugly strain of racially tinged discontent has surfaced at city hall in Beaumont.

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