Category Archives: Newspaper Opinion Columns

Opinion Columns originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Don’t Underestimate Putin’s Threat – by Deborah Levine

Originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press

Ukrainian-born Comedian Yakov Smirnoff jokingly said Russia’s secret police, the KGB, stood for Kiss Goodbye Your Butt. That was decades before another comedian, Volodymyr Zelensky, became Ukraine’s president. But Zelensky knows there’s nothing funny about Russia’s annexation of the eastern part of his country. Fortunately, we have helped guard against further Russian encroachment. So what was Trump thinking in using our aid as a pawn in this political chess game?

The Russians have never been muted in their aggressive global reach. From Vietnam to Cuba, the United States and the former Soviet Union wrestled in a Cold War. As the Soviet Union, Russian invasions included Poland, Ukraine, Latvia and what became the communist republic of Eastern Germany. A relentless dictatorship from czarist times to the present, the number of people who tried to escape Russian rule are legendary.

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We’re lost in space – by Deborah Levine

(originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press)

What should I write about in these incredibly tumultuous times? It’s impossible to keep up with the Ukraine details. Then there’s asking China to investigate the Bidens when Donald Trump Jr. developed luxury condos in Indonesia with millions in cash from a China-owned construction business. And Reuters reports that Ivanka Trump’s Chinese trademarks include voting machines. How do we handle the just-joking defense, not to mention the bullying, denials, distractions, and denunciations? Despite everything, the reality will emerge. It will become a question of severity. Is this an impeachable offense or inappropriate behavior? My answer is yes to both. So now what?

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All is not lost – by Deborah Levine

Originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press

In a month where there seems no end to disasters, scandals, and threats, I celebrated my birthday looking for a ray of hope. Can a whiff of integrity emerge from a whistle blower’s urgent concerns that apparently link our president, the Ukraine, and extortion? Will our faith in leadership mean that floods and fires aren’t our nation’s future.  Maybe, we’ll even have the courage to control mass shootings. Alternating between holding my breath and large noisy sighs, my hubby and I went off to the movies for a bit of escapism. Who knew that the ray of hope would show up with the popcorn.

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It’s the Environment, Stupid – by Deborah Levine

Originally published as an opinion column in The Chattanooga Times Free Press

The GOP is determined not to be upended by Sharpie Gate.  Presidential primaries in several states have disappeared and the party wants us to know “…The contrast between Mr. Trump and the Democratic field is a demonstration of just how much Mr. Trump understands the American psyche and just how much most Democrats do not.” They know that in this week’s contest for weird news, “Sharpie Gate” might outdo the Taliban-Camp David story, the firing/resignation of John Bolton, the U.S. military’s spending related to Trump’s Ireland golf course, and maybe all the other 12,019 false or misleading presidential statements documented by Fact Checker.

How did this mess escalate so quickly? We began with a silly photo-op when Trump, trying to prove his earlier claim that Dorian put Alabama at risk, produced a map showing the hurricane moving in a sharpie-drawn curve towards Alabama. We progressed to goofy when Twitter erupted with sharpie memes: Trump with 6-pack abs, bone spur feet, and, my favorite, a check from Mexico for ten trillion dollars for the wall.

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Aid in Peril and So are We – by Deborah Levine

Originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press

When President Trump threatened to cut off $4 billion in foreign aid, the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition emailed how cuts could limit the response to outbreaks of the deadly ebola virus. Concerned, I immediately thought of John Germ, past president of Rotary International, who spoke at Glynn Hodges’ recent Mastermind meeting. Yes, we were inspired by his story of being the first in his family to graduate college. And we were speechless at his stories of navigating outdated military planes on the verge of crashing. We empathized with his struggles to finish college while marrying and having his first child. But it was his dedication to eradicating polio world-wide, his ability to see the challenge as an invitation, that held us in awe.   

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Gun debacle and debate, again – by Deborah Levine

Originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press

We all know that after the back-to-back mass shootings this weekend, there will be renewed discussion over gun control and safety. We also know that the debate will probably go nowhere, as usual. Even though many of these massacres are committed using military style weapons, many anti-gun control folks maintain that owning these semi-automatic rifles is a  constitutional right.  Why should law abiding persons be limited because of a few crazies out there.  But given that CBS news reports more mass killings in 2019 than days so far this year. It’s time to re-examine our cultural norms regarding military-style weapons.   

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Talk Show Field Day – by Deborah Levine

(originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press)

Talk Show Field DayThe latest thing in political discourse is a doozie. The liberal “Squad” has become the hate target of the week, revving up the President’s campaign rally in Florida. Charges of racism are flying all over the place after the “Send her back” chant. Thirteen seconds went by as the President sat back and took it all in. While push back was furious with much “racist” name calling applied to Trump. He disavowed those chants the next day and claimed he’d immediately started to talk fast to silence the unruly crowd. Talk show hosts had a field day with that one. The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah inserted a video of Olympic track star Usain Bolt winning a medal in the same time it took before Trump spoke.

Trump basked in the congratulations of a right-wing British commentator known for hateful anti-Muslims and anti-Semitic remarks. But I doubt anyone in the UK or the US was surprised when Trump immediately turned around and ranted about the Squad’s anti-Semitism and racism. Our political warming is producing unprecedented heat waves, stoked by increasingly divisive leadership.

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Diversify into the Future – by Deborah Levine

Originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press

“As we gather together at this exploration & celebration of our cultural diversity, let us ask for the blessing of our Creator who has placed us all on this precious planet. Let us give thanks for our shared hope for a future where we can harmonize, not homogenize, the intersection of race, ethnicity, religion, generation, and genders represented in this room.” That’s how I began my invocation prayer for Chattanooga’s Chamber of Commerce Diversify Summit. The luncheon at the Convention Center was packed with every generation, from grey-haired sages to newborn infants with their moms. Attendees represented corporations, small businesses, universities and colleges, nonprofits, networking groups, media, and municipal agencies.

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Abortion and Political Football – by Deborah Levine

(Originally appeared in The Chattanooga Times Free Press)

I hate the idea of abortion. I hate everything about it and I know I have plenty of company. No one has warm fuzzy thoughts about abortion. Whether you’re pro or anti-abortion, the term evokes pain and suffering as well as sorrow and mourning, Abortion has been a political football for as long as I remember, but the game has become more intense than ever.

Abortion was just a whisper in high school back in the sixties when a friend got pregnant at sixteen. She had the baby, dropped out of school, and never returned. It wasn’t an uncommon story since Roe vs. Wade didn’t became law until 1973. Birth control pills weren’t even a whisper because while legal in 1965, it was only for married couples. Unmarried women weren’t allowed to purchase birth control until 1972, another seven years.

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Our Fall Creek Falls Challenge – by Deborah Levine

Originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press

Your may think that the cost overrun for the Fall Creek inn is a state budget issue is just a dollars and cents issue. You’re probably annoyed that you’re paying for the extra $11 million with your tax dollars. Those overruns pushed the replacement cost from $29.4 to $40.4 million and pushed the completion date from 2020 to 2021. Was it an accident that increased the damage? Were mistakes made and now you’re stuck paying the bill to clean up the mess? The answer should get your attention, and keep it.

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