“Well, our brilliant leader (no one is smarter than him, he said so) has begun cavalierly calling this man with his finger on the trigger in North Korea and total control over the use of monstrous weapons, “Rocket” Man like a child in the schoolyard trying to provoke a fight. If conflict ensues it will not be this draft-dodger or his pampered children who are placed in danger and sent in harm’s way to a far-flung war zone to engage.

We are talking about the deaths of literally thousands and tens of thousands of people-maybe even millions-many of them sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and even grandparents that are Americans. To treat the threat of a horrible war with such a thoughtless approach-as though it is no big deal-something to be joked about and belittled shows the depth of this-and I’m choking on it-president’s ignorance, arrogance, and lack of feeling for his fellow man. Is there no end to this madness? Is there no balm in Gilead for those of us seeking a return to sanity?” –Pat Jones


“This is the final paragraph of an article I just read in answer to a friend who asked his Black friends to provide examples of white privilege. (I would like to note that more accurately, his statement should be “white, straight, male privilege”) This woman wrote an extensive, sensitive response to his request which is quite long. This last paragraph is good instruction for everyone:

“As to you ‘being part of the problem,’ trust me, nobody is mad at you for being white. Nobody. Just like nobody should be mad at me for being black. Or female. Or whatever. But what IS being asked of you is to acknowledge that white privilege DOES exist and not only to treat people of races that differ from yours ‘with respect and humor,’ but also to stand up for fair treatment and justice, not to let ‘jokes’ or ‘off-color’ comments by friends, co-workers, or family slide by without challenge, and to continually make an effort to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, so we may all cherish and respect our unique and special contributions to society as much as we do our common ground. With much love and respect, Lori.” –Richard Moberly


“I’m presently watching President Inept Narcissist Two Second Attention Span read a speech to the United Nations. I understand and respect that all Presidents in the modern era have used speech writers. Having said that…it is clear that no President has differed so greatly in what they say in their off the cuff remarks vs. what they say in their speeches written by others. Everyone knows that Trump is an incessant liar. His positions can change from day to day, or hour to hour, or sentence to sentence. He has no moral compass. He has no credibility here or anywhere in the world. What an embarrassment. He’s The Emperor With No Clothes. I’m thankful that he’s temporary.” –David Click


“DACA defines what we stand for as a nation, a program redefined in this early century. “Dreamers,” as were all immigrants to this country in the past, were allowed to fulfill their ambitions. Let it not become a nightmare for these young people. A bonus to our country, and a tragedy if our small-minded politicians prevail in ending the program. DACA kids, and their parents and extended families, remind us of what makes the USA great. There’s no need to “Make America Great Again”; it remains great as long as we welcome those already here and the new arrivals from across the world.” –Nicholas Friedin


“PYONGYANG (The Borowitz Report)–In what some security experts fear could be a high-stakes war of Elton John lyrics, minutes after Donald Trump called Kim Jong Un “Rocket Man,” the North Korean dictator responded by calling Trump “Honky Cat.”

“As he issued the Elton John-based attack, Kim warned that he had an extensive collection of the singer-songwriter’s albums and was prepared to weaponized every lyric in them.

“The White House immediately struck back, warning Kim that ‘any further provocation involving an Elton John lyric, especially ‘Tiny Dancer,’ will be seen as an act of war.’

“But any hope that Kim would be silenced was short-lived.

“Responding to the White House, Kim stated, ‘I see the bitch is back,’ before signing off, ‘Goodbye, Yellow-Wigged Toad.'” –Ed Rabel




[The following mostly unedited conversation appeared in the E-edition of the Herald-Dispatch in August, 2017. Explanatory notes placed appropriately; otherwise, it appears as originally printed. The exchange was brought on by the editor’s response to a column in the H-D by a local columnist, who shall remain unnamed. The subject of the original column was anti-abortion and the body of the exchange, after a bit of back and forth on criticism, is on the subject of abortion.]

BILL: Milt, as you so often say when facing criticism regarding what you write in your own column, this is the opinion section. What’s good for the goose?

MILT: So it is. And so, I expressed my opinion above, as I generally do when I disagree with comments about my own columns. Also, it irks me and many others that [unnamed whose column was on the subject of “abortion”] never comes here to defend, explain, comment on criticisms, or expand on his thinking, etc., etc. Sometimes, he writes like he’s the voice of God, and anyone who disagrees with him (especially us liberals) is bound for the lowest levels of hell. Balderdash! I’m certainly neither goose nor gander, so what’s your point Bill?

BILL: My point, Milt, is that you lash out at people who criticize you on your column seemingly using the defense that it’s your opinion, therefore immune from criticism. And here you are lashing out at [unnamed] for his opinions. Seems rather hypocritical.

MILT: Bill, sometimes I’m hypocritical. What’s so strange about that? Most people are from time to time. Actually, it’s not hypocritical to be aggravated by responses to what you have to say, while being really critical of a completely different person. What you’re confusing here is oranges and apples. Oh, well, yeah, I don’t like to be criticized, but since I am frequently criticized, I think it’s perfectly okay if I lash out now and then. Whatever….

BILL: Well if [unnamed] criticized you, you would certainly be entitled to criticize him back, but he doesn’t. But at least you admitted you are sometimes hypocritical, so kudos on that, and yeah, you’re probably right, most of us are from time to time.

MILT: Bill, I think you have missed something. There are times when [unnamed] entire column is a rebuttal (or criticism) of one of my columns. He never uses my name, but the material and the theme is familiar…. Bill, opinion is never exempt from disagreement or criticism. That doesn’t mean I have to like it!

BILL: Interesting comments, some of which I see your point. I haven’t seen much of what you refer to as [unnamed] entire column being a rebuttal (or criticism) of one of your columns, but maybe I just missed that. I couldn’t find that in this particular column. I take it from your response to him that you’re fine with abortion?

MILT: I wrote a three paragraph response giving you two real examples I encountered as a minister, and hit a wrong key on my computer and deleted it before I could send it…but yes, I do believe in abortion under certain conditions if that’s the mother’s choice. And it is the mother’s choice (along with her physicians, family and mentors). As I remember my bottom line, it is definitely not MY CHOICE, YOUR CHOICE, OR ANY RELIGIOUS GROUP’S CHOICE. I also believe if a person believes in abortion under certain circumstances, then they believe in abortion, period. For me, it’s an either-or situation.

Some fetuses, i.e. severely deformed, without brainstems, without limbs, situations where there are defective chromosomes and genes, etc. that should not be allowed to term. I believe abortion is warranted for conception by rape, incest, and other situations that a woman must live with for the rest of her life. If you believe what it says in the book of Genesis, it says, “And God breathed into man the breath of life and man became a living soul.” To me, that means that a fetus is NOT “a living soul,” until it takes breath outside of the womb. Man, I wish I had not lost my first response, but it vanished for good. I hope this explains my belief satisfactorily. But, I will confide that it took me a long, long time to come around to this way of thinking. My wife helped. When we were married I was 100% definitely opposed to abortion, period!

BILL: “To me, that means that a fetus is NOT “a living soul,” until it takes breath outside of the womb.” I agree with that, Milt. If even then. I’ve always wondered about the fact that we seem to accept that when a person dies, the soul leaves the body, which recognizes that the two are distinct from each other. It’s the entry point which to me is totally in question.

MILT: I hear you. I’m skeptical of such an ancient statement from the earliest chapter in Genesis on which to base such a critical decision…but…in my lengthy post I lost, I gave two examples of children I saw while I was in the ministry that never should have been born. I was very close to both families. Frankly, they were living in hell with a child that should have been, in most anyone’s opinion, I think, aborted.

One was a 11-12 year old boy, no speech, no measurable IQ, no awareness of surroundings or recognition of family members, completely confined to an apparatus with a feeding tube and requiring the 24-hour attention of his parents and one older sister, who was not only normal but quite bright [intelligent]. The boy developed pneumonia, which [in his condition] he contracted fairly often and was hospitalized. The doctors consulted with me and asked if I would help them [convince] the parents to decide to let them stop medications [and food and water] and allow the child to die. I conducted the boy’s funeral. The daughter was then able to go on to college, and I think she is a master’s degree teacher now. The parents, too, have a life. The boy never should have been born [aborted], in my opinion.


The second case is almost unbelievable…but I was totally shocked when I saw the situation. The boy, probably 17-18 years old was kept in a cage [literally]. He had no normal human abilities or capabilities. He made screeching noises like an animal and swung back and forth in his cage, holding onto the upper bars. He was, for all intents and purposes, an animal. He was somewhat vicious [savage], so his food was placed in the cage and, of course, they had to do their best to keep the cage as clean as possible. [I don’t know how they accomplished this.] The explanation I was given was that while he was being born, he had to immediately have a blood transfusion and was transfused with the wrong type of blood [blood type]. Okay, he was born, but, in my way of thinking, immediately upon understanding the gravity of the situation, he should have been immediately aborted. I know lots of people would say that would have been murder, but, in my thinking it would have been a medical, post-partum abortion…and a blessing to his family. Actually, his condition (which required the immediate transfusion) should have been identified in the uterus and the entire situation could have been very different. I don’t know. [Perhaps, doctors did not have that capability back then.]

I just believe that sometimes the consequences or results of a birth are not a moral issue at all…but a humane and ethical one. With these situations (and others) I still remained anti-abortion until I married my wife. Over the years, she helped me to understand that abortion is a woman’s choice…. Isn’t it strange that those people who are so anti-abortion seem to have no such compunctions about taking the life of someone who has committed a heinous crime? It just seems to me if we as a society so value life we ought to be very careful to allow compassion and understanding in situations where a life is to be taken. This is what has shaped my way of thinking on abortion. It also seems to me that those people who so vehemently oppose abortion should be willing to adopt an “endangered” child to insure that life! Such an unwanted child was adopted into my aunt’s family and became a well-educated professional who is of great service to his community.

Bill, for your information, I also believe in euthanasia. I would hope that should I ever be completely inhumanized by some fatal disease, i.e. Alzheimer’s or A.L.S. or a disease that completely debilitates me and steals the quality of my life, that my wife would take me to a state where euthanasia is legal that that my life would be humanely terminated. What a blessing that would be!…WOW! I really laid it all out there, didn’t I?

BILL: Yes, you did (lay it all out there). I’ll never agree with you politically, most likely, but I do on these things you just wrote about…I definitely do not believe life begins at conception.

MILT: I understand that, Bill. But my politics is based on the general moral and spiritual principles I discussed in my responses. Let me give you another thought. I could never be a Republican conservative if Donald Trump is an example of that party. I can sum him up in one word: disgusting! I cannot agree at all with those who think he is good for America, i.e. [unnamed]. Yet, I was a moderate Republican until Bill Clinton’s second term, when I liked what he was doing with the economy and switched parties. To attempt to compare Clinton’s moral lapses with Trump’s total lack of respect for women and marriage is ludicrous. No comparison. As far as I’m concerned I got out of the Republican Party at just the right time!

[I admit this conversation might be boring to many; but, to others it might give some insight into how one might form a tenable, sensible opinion on such important subjects as abortion and euthanasia…and political affiliation. –the Editor] 




I attended the University of Virginia (1982-1986). One summer, I worked at a restaurant about a block from the park where the clashes occurred last Saturday morning. My memories do not match what I witnessed on the television screen. It was surreal to watch people yelling and taunting each other, lobbing and being hit by bottles, spraying and being sprayed by mace and then engaging in random fistfights in an area I recall as being quiet and bucolic. What caught my attention is that those engaging in the violence were doing so voluntarily. They were mutual combatants. Certainly the young woman killed by a car was not part of the melee that I saw. Her death was an act of evil. And, I would place in the evil category (albeit a lesser category) the mutual combatants I witnessed fighting in the street. They were both returning evil for evil.


The public outcry in the wake of the street skirmishes apparently did not witness what I saw on the news. Government officials and media pundits generally focused on the white supremacists, Klan members and neo-Nazis (bigots) - their wrongdoing and our public intolerance for their thoughts and beliefs. There was no mention of the beatings I saw some of the bigots received in the streets.

The hatred, loathing and disdain heaped upon the bigots in the street and later in the media is exactly what the bigots want the public to feel and then pile upon them. Evil wants to be repaid with evil because even righteous loathing fuels the bigot’s hate-filled rhetoric intellectually and has no connection with logic or reason–they being in the same category with flat-earther’s.  Emotionally, I pity them. Yet, when all the focus is on the bigots we seem to ignore others who engaged in the mutual combat. This is an issue of concern because it seems to tacitly approve violence by some against others.


Let me make one more observation to put this concern in perspective. The bigots had a permit to assemble in the park. Those protesting this bigotry had choices. I would have suggested “nothing-ing” the bigots by ignoring them. Another approach would have been to stage a counter-protest down the street. Instead, the protestors ignored regulations for lawful assembly and went to the park in mass to confront the bigots. Who were the aggressors?




Kristin Beck, who spent two decades as a Navy SEAL, has a challenge for Donald Trump in the wake of his morning tweetstorm announcing a ban on transgender service members. From Business Insider:

“Let’s meet face to face and you tell me I’m not worthy,” Kristin Beck, a 20-year veteran of the Navy SEALSs, told Business Insider on Wednesday. “Transgender doesn’t matter. Do your service.”

Beck is a bonafide American hero:

Beck is not just your average service member. Born Christopher Beck, she served for 20 years in the Navy with SEAL Teams 1, 5, and, eventually, the elite 6. She deployed 13 times over two decades, including stints in Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan. She received the Bronze Star award for valor and the Purple Heart for wounds suffered in combat.

“I was defending individual liberty,” she said. “I defended for Republicans. I defended for Democrats. I defended for everyone.”

Beck’s missions in Afghanistan helped take out Osama bin Laden. What an embarrassment to this nation and a stabbing insult to patriots like Beck, who simply want to serve their country.

[Article first appeared in Daily Kos, Wednesday, July 26, 2017. Reprinted with permission.]





[Renowned West Virginia reporter and commentator Ed Rabel shares his thoughts on social media. Following are some of the important, unedited comments he has shared in the past few weeks.]

“I have decided to treat Trump for the joke he is. As Sigmund Freud theorized, by turning something threatening into a game, we rob it of its power over us. In this way, play transforms a passive experience into an active one, allowing us to gain mastery over a threat.

“We liberals give Trump way too much importance by parsing every tweet and speaking about him in hushed tones. It’s easy to feel powerless by the deluge of depressing headlines. But by subverting his authority even in subtle, silly ways, we loosen his herculean grasp on us.

“Who’s with me? All together now: ‘Little Donnie Duck is a quack, quack, quack!'” LOL



“During ‘Made in America Week,’ Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club applies to hire 70 foreign workers…

“The for-profit club, where President Trump spent numerous weekends this spring, asked permission to hire 15 housekeepers, 20 cooks and 35 waiters because it says it cannot find qualified Americans for those jobs.”

“Trump doesn’t understand that Robert Mueller is not a contractor, he’s in a civil litigation dispute with, someone he can intimidate and wear down and threaten and bleed out.

“Bringing in another New York deal maker, “The Mooch,” won’t help him understand the existential threat he faces in Washington from Mueller.”

“When Trump lies that millions of votes were cast illegally for Clinton in 2016, he betrays an insecurity that stems both from his personality and from knowing that most Americans wanted someone else to run the country.

“If Trump had begun his administration by reaching out to Democrats on a plan to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, he may have had a chance to confuse, if not divide, the opposition. Instead, he decided to wage a relentless battle against the federal bureaucracy and the news media–which comes off as defensive instead of confident.

“Any chance Trump has to gain majority support and get reelected probably depends on changing his behavior. That is a difficult task for any politician, much less an inexperienced one in his 70s. The knowledge that millions of Americans consider his 2016 victory undemocratic and illegitimate could render it impossible.”

 “Seems to me that by declaring he can pardon anyone, including himself, Trump is admitting that he and his family and aides are guilty of crimes against the state and against the American people including, but not limited to, treason.

“That his followers do not care that they voted for and continue to support him and his criminal administration is a very sad commentary on who they are for continuing their support of him and who we are standing by, meekly, to permit our government –our country- to fall in the hands of a traitor.

“That many millions of Trump’s followers–diehard fans of Donald Trump–subscribe to the now discredited theory of SOCIAL DARWINISM cannot be denied. Their white supremacist mantra, racism and bigotry have their roots in this late 19th century clap trap. Their belief in Trump, the ‘strongman’ or tin-pot dictator comes out of the conviction that liberalism is weakness and only the fittest should survive. Their campaign to deny health care as a right of all citizens is rooted in the madness that sick people who can’t pay should be allowed to die. Like their master, Donald Trump and his ilk, they are yesterday’s people.

“When Trump says, ‘Let’s Make America Great Again,’ he means let’s bring back the racist policies of the past that were the rationalization for Anglo-Saxon or Aryan cultural and biological superiority.

“Social Darwinism, the theory that persons, groups, and races are subject to the same laws of natural selection as Charles Darwin had perceived in plants and animals in nature. According to the theory, which was popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the weak were diminished and their cultures delimited, while the strong grew in power and in cultural influence over the weak. Social Darwinists held that the life of humans in society was a struggle for existence ruled by ‘survival of the fittest,’ a phrase proposed by the British philosopher and scientist Herbert Spencer.

“The Social Darwinists–notably Spencer and Walter Bagehot in England and William Graham Sumner in the United States–believed that the process of natural selection acting on variations in the population would result in the survival of the best competitors and in continuing improvement in the population. Societies were viewed as organisms that evolve in this manner.

“The theory was used to support laissez-faire capitalism and political conservatism. Class stratification was justified on the basis of ‘natural’ moral attributes such as industriousness, temperance, and frugality. Attempts to reform society through state intervention or other means would, therefore, interfere with natural processes; unrestricted competition and defense of the status quo were in accord with biological selection. The poor were the ‘unfit’ and should not be aided; in the struggle for existence, wealth was a sign of success. At the societal level, Social Darwinism was used as a philosophical rationalization for imperialist, colonialist, and racist policies, sustaining belief in Anglo-Saxon or Aryan cultural and biological superiority.

“Social Darwinism declined during the 20th century as an expanded knowledge of biological, social, and cultural phenomena undermined, rather than supported, its basic tenets.”





My residence is a funeral home in West Virginia. I live among the dead.

Night and day, I witness the arrival of dead West Virginians from my apartment atop the funeral home garage. I hear the sobs of loved ones who bid farewell in the chapel down below. Sad songs echo in my home place, Christian anthems once reserved mostly for natural deaths now performed often for the overdosed, the suicides and those killed by coal.

For me, death by misused drugs is not theoretical. Suicides are no rumor. And coalfield departures are not left to my imagination. The unnaturally deceased arrive, in mounting numbers, at my doorstep without fanfare on stretchers for me to see, firsthand. Such blatancy is injurious to my soul. Not to mention my civility.

Many of my neighbors are in disbelief when I tell them that deaths from cancer, black lung, suicide and drug addiction are outpacing natural causes for the first time in our written history. To them, such deaths are simply statistics to be denied. From my funereal vantage point, such deaths cannot be refuted.

How difficult must it be for someone not as profoundly acquainted with death as I am to understand what it means when I tell you that, in mountaintop removal mining counties in central Appalachia, an additional 60,000 cases of cancer are directly linked to federally sanctioned strip mining. Not until you see, personally, a withered body made so by deadly particulate blown by strip miners into our mountain air can you appreciate, fully, just how toxic and lethal our land has become.

I am dismayed by what I observe, constantly, in my house of horror. I stare at young faces frozen by death and wonder how it is that so many youngsters are being laid to rest. Once brimming with life and hope, they lie here motionless, without any expression. I want to grab them and shake them back to life. I want to erase the poisons that laid them low. I want their skin to be radiant, their eyes bright and sparkling and not dulled by the drugs that, finally, put out their lights. Then, I remember another statistic. Life expectancy for men in my sorry neck-of-the-woods is 18 years less than for men in affluent Northern Virginia.

I am saddened by how the perished here are blamed for their own demise. I rebel on behalf of the dead downstairs in the morgue when a coalfield politician proclaims that, save for President Obama and his so-called war on coal, these dead shall not have died. I know as surely as do the dead that Obama did not kill coal. Nor has he taken their jobs and, thus, in their despair, their lives. To say otherwise is a lie.

I hoped Obama’s recent visit here to help our state cope with its drug problem–number one in the nation–would mean, eventually, fewer bodies will be brought here to my place. But until we shift from the mono-economy that is killing us to sustainable economies that will save us, those dead of unnatural causes will be visiting me in numbers greater than ever before.

Ed Rabel is an Emmy Award-winning broadcast journalist and author who lives in Lincoln County, West Virginia. He has recently joined the Peace Corps for an assignment in Uganda, East Africa.  This article first appeared on December 30, 2015 in the Charleston WV Gazette-Mail and has been reprinted on-line. This editor, recalling Rabel from his early days in radio in Charleston, West Virginia, has followed his career through the years.