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.






Most thinking people are surely concerned with the trash along the roads of America. IT IS EVERYWHERE! I am especially concerned with litter in the part of Kentucky where I live. The question is, what can be done about it? Some would suggest heavier fines and stricter enforcement of existing laws. My view is that such laws are almost impossible to enforce and crate a great deal of hostility and resentment as well. I would hope, too, that we could enlist the chief offenders in any litter abatement program that we might devise. Any such program ought to be easy to administer, inexpensive, and involve most of the community.

Here is my suggestion:

Designate the first Tuesday of every month as “TRASH TWOesday” when everyone would be encouraged to pick up at least TWO Pieces of litter. It would be the one day each month when all of us would zero in on litter removal and would thus involve many in the community.

To make the day a bit more visible, lawn signs and bumper stickers could be printed announcing the day:  “Today is Trash TWOesday, etc.” Schools, churches, and businesses would be enlisted to see that their property would be litter free on that day. Five interested people in your town or county would be given twenty dollars in one dollar bills to be passed out in TWO dollar token rewards to the first person or group of people seen picking up trash.

A bank might provide seldom-used $2 bills to make this even more interesting.

In addition, people picking up trash would give the TWO-finger sign to passing motorists and pedestrians to show they are part of the program. Friends, family, and paid workers would not be eligible. I’m sure some nice person would supply the money for the first several months, and I am optimistic enough to think that in a few months, there would be no more litter, and that because of widespread community involvement, even the litterers would see the error of their ways!

This simple, inexpensive plan could work for towns and counties all over the state–my state, your state–all over the United States!!!! Wouldn’t it be nice if our state became the most litter-free in America? How about if America became the most litter-free country in the whole world? I like that idea. Soon, people all over the world would be saying, “When you visit the United States, you never see any litter. It’s the cleanest country I’ve ever been to.” Now, that really would be nice!

Ernie Tucker is a long-time resident of Ashland, Kentucky.  He is a retired History professor from the Ashland Community Technical College (ACTC). Ernie is a raconteur, collector, writer and notable character around the state of Kentucky.



Most folks like you and me don’t give much thought to “science” per se. After all, we’re not scientists and we are not inclined to contemplate the importance of science in our daily lives.

Because of our lackadaisical attitude toward science and how it affects our everyday lives, many of us (not including this writer) are unaware that the present administration is stripping various agencies of the federal government of its scientists.


For example, a May 8, 2017 Associated Press article in the Los Angeles Times’ headline read “Trump’s EPA dismisses half of the scientists on its advisory board.” According to Science Magazine (2015), the EPA published “a controversial regulation aimed at improving protection for wetlands and small streams” in a “400-page technical tome assembled by agency researchers as the rule’s scientific foundation and justification.” In March, 2017, President Trump “signed an executive order aimed at gutting the rule.”


Although Peter Thiel, a biomedical research investor, is surprisingly one of Trump’s few supporters in Silicon Valley, he is an outspoken advocate for government-fostered science. He says, “Voters are tired of hearing conservative politicians say that government never works. They know the government wasn’t always this broken. The Manhattan Project, the Interstate Highway System, and the Apollo Program–whatever you think of these ventures, you cannot doubt the competence of the government that got them done. But we have fallen very far from that standard, and we cannot let free market ideology serve as an excuse for decline.”

The budget that Trump has sent to Congress “whacks 18 percent from N.I.H.’s [National Institute of Health] budget, and even more from the Department of Energy and the E.P.A.’s [Environmental Protection Agency] science programs.

According to the Editorial Board of the New York Times (March 17, 2017) a “$250 million annual grant program administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ‘supporting coastal and marine management, research and education’ would be killed [in Trump’s budget], including programs that provide important resources to help coastal states prepare for the coming effects of climate change.”

The above paragraphs document my theory that the Trump administration is anti-science. It should come as no shock, especially in the last example, since President Trump admittedly does NOT subscribe to climate change.


And, keep in mind, he appointed former Texas Governor Rick Perry to head up the Department of Energy, which is rich with scientists and thrives on scientific knowledge and input. Perry, you’ll recall, when running for the presidency, although he botched remembering the name of the agency in debate (Oops!), was FOR abolishing the Department of Energy…which he now heads!

Science is literally the backbone of technological development and underscores all of the advancements we have made in all of the areas for which the Trump administration apparently has little respect.

The decline of first-rate science and mathematical training in our primary and secondary schools, coupled with the growing disenchantment for these subjects at the highest levels of our government is frightening.

That the current administration is gutting national agencies of scientists is calamitous!



The U.S. Senate is reportedly considering a healthcare bill, although few will admit to seeing it or knowing its contents. Rumors indicate it will not, as hoped, be a “kinder, gentler” version of the House bill. There’s been a great deal of criticism of the direct effects of the House bill including, but not limited to, tens of millions without insurance, astronomical cost increases for seniors and those with pre-existing conditions, inability to get coverage for preexisting conditions, watered-down coverage (with many standard situations not covered) and loss of support for those in nursing homes. However, I’ve heard little regarding the effects on those not included above.

Please note the following is not deeply researched, but largely the product of my own logical process and as such could be far from accurate. I’d love feedback from those more deeply-informed than I.

Let’s imagine an employed head of family with a spouse and two children. Insurance for this family is provided by his/her employer and deducted from his/her paycheck. In fact, both spouses enjoy this benefit, so if one loses his/her job, there’s a back-up plan. This happy family is probably laboring under the illusion that they have nothing to fear. I believe this is far from the truth!

The disappearance of billions of dollars from medical payments will impact clinics and hospitals. Personnel will be laid off and programs will be cut. Wait-time for all services will be longer and some “frills” will disappear. If you need a class on dealing with your child’s juvenile diabetes, for instance, it may no longer be offered as often or not at all. If it takes you a month to get an appointment with your doctor now, that wait may double. If you child falls off the playground equipment and breaks an arm, the emergency room visit may stretch to eight hours as opposed to four.


Ted Chan, founder of Care Dash, an online site for feedback on doctors, (yeah, I did some research!) was quoted in Becker’s Hospital Review on March 9, 2017, as saying: 

“Repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without clear guidelines for replacing coverage will drive up costs across the board for patients, employers, and hospitals. Without requiring all to be insured, hospitals will be the insurers of last resort and will absorb the costs of uninsured patients seeking care. One recent study found that half of hospital bills go unpaid and that will only likely increase without an individual mandate….

When hospital bills go unpaid, taxpayers and local governments are often forced to pick up the tab. The question is not whether healthcare coverage should be paid for, it’s who pays.”


If you live in a rural area, the impact may be even greater, as rural medical services are economically tenuous. With fewer patients to serve and more low-income individuals, tight budgets are a constant. Under the ACA, there were supposed to be provisions to help rural medical programs, but many of these provisions were revised or never implemented.

Our happy fictional family may find their medical costs increase despite their insured status. When a family isn’t insured, that doesn’t mean they don’t get sick! They do, however, wait longer to seek treatment, present as sicker when they do go to the doctor, and their treatment is therefore more expensive. Since the bill is less likely to be paid, the hospital must recoup as much as possible in the form of increased costs for those WITH insurance. When insurance companies pay more, they’re going to raise the cost of their policies. Our fictional family will pay in increased insurance costs.

People who don’t have insurance are more costly employees. Since they can’t afford preventive care, they’re more likely to be sicker and miss additional time at work. (I’d prefer they NOT work, since someone coughing over my fast-food order is not something I relish!) I suspect this was one original motivation for employer-sponsored healthcare coverage.

Therefore, Fictional Family will be affected directly by the proposed healthcare bill. The medical services they need may well become harder to access, their health insurance costs increase, and their communities become a less pleasant and welcoming place to live.


Deborah G. Hankins is a retired “worker” who lives with her husband Milt and their little chihuahua Jose in Ashland, Kentucky. She is a leader in the local “Indivisible” group and is seriously concerned about our future under the present administration.