Left Side

Left Side: Prison Reform

Deeply embedded in our national consciousness is the notion that the United States of America is devoted to “liberty and justice for all.” Alas, we have failed to live up to that ideal. Consider this: Here in the “land of…

Left Side: Should College be Free?

Two years ago, when Bernie Sanders made “free college” a centerpiece of his campaign platform, critics on the right—as well as many self-proclaimed moderates—scoffed at his proposal. But the fact is, none of the criticisms hold up to scrutiny. The…

Left Side: Qualifications for Presidency

The Constitution of the United States spells out only two requirements for anyone wishing to become president: the person must be a “natural-born citizen” and must be at least 35 years old. It is to the credit of the document’s…

Left Side: Developing Alternative Energy Sources

If there is a single slogan that resonates more than any other with Trump’s loyal base it is, “America first.” The sentiment is understandable, given that the United States is no longer the industrial powerhouse that it was throughout much…

Left Side: The GOP Tax Plan

President Trump told a lot of whoppers during his first year in office, but the biggest lie of all was his claim, in mid-December, that the GOP tax plan was “one of the greatest Christmas gifts to the middle class.”…

Left Side: NFL Players Kneeling During the National Anthem

In 2016, when NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeled in protest during a pre-game playing of the National Anthem, he set off a firestorm of controversy that illuminated the deepest divisions in our society. On one side are super-patriots (or those…

Left Side: Political Debates In Media

One evening about 20 years ago, I sat down to dinner with Charlton Heston to celebrate the publication of a book we’d been working on together. Our conversation covered a wide range of topics, from his early childhood to his…

Left Side: Federal Government Funding Public Broadcasting

Last spring, in an appeal to his arch-conservative base, Donald Trump pledged to eliminate funding for PBS and NPR, as well as the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Trump certainly wasn’t the first…

Left Side: First Amendment Rights

Abraham Lincoln—arguably the wisest president we’ve ever had—once said that America will never be destroyed from the outside. “If we falter and lose our freedoms,” he added, “it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” Today, in the wake of Donald…

Left Side: Women's Rights and Sexism

It’s no secret that this country is sharply divided. But the polarization is perhaps starkest on the issue of women’s rights. Consider this: Last year, as Hillary Clinton was campaigning to become the first woman president in our nation’s history,…

Left Side: Pride Assemblies in Public Schools

When Cox High School announced late last year that it planned to hold a student-organized gay-pride assembly, some people—predictably—voiced opposition. Incoming school board member Victoria Manning was chief among them. In an email to the board chair, she argued that…

Left Side: A House Divided

In the weeks following the election of Donald Trump, a question echoed throughout the land: How could this have happened? To understand the answer, we have to go back about a year to a campaign speech Trump gave in Iowa.…

Left Side: The War Over Women

The military may have its own distinct culture, but it is made up of people who come from society at large. With this in mind, it’s clear that the goal of achieving gender equality in the military is part of a larger objective: raising consciousness about sexism in general.

Left Side: Family Values

The USA is the only major country in the world that dos not guarantee paid family leave. That must change-but as part of a bigger picture.

Left Side: This Is Not a Drill—For Now

Earlier this year, environmentalists won a temporary victory when the federal government turned its back on a proposal to open the waters off Virginia to offshore drilling. “We heard from many corners that now is not the time to start…

Left Side-Issues With Objectification

My liberation as a man is tied to your liberation as a woman. —Tony Porter, national speaker on the problem of domestic violence. Every semester in the classes on American culture that I teach at Old Dominion University, I ask…

Left Side-Reading, Writing ... And Religion?

Believing … that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his god … I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment…

Left Side-Dollars for Defense

Whenever the subject of military-spending comes up, I’m reminded of President Eisenhower’s farewell address to the nation. To my mind, it was as prophetic as George Washington’s, if not more so. Eisenhower could have focused on America’s triumph in World…

Leftside-Sex and Selfies

I remember vividly the first time I saw a naked woman. Well, a photograph of one, at any rate. I was 12 years old and hanging out with my friend Al one Saturday afternoon, when he said, “Come here, I…

Leftside - A Polarized Public

Let’s face it: When it comes to the subject of global warming—or climate change, to use the more recently preferred term—we’re caught in a polar vortex. I’m not talking about the streak of extreme cold we had this winter. I’m…

Leftside The Bland And The Beautiful

In 1848, a New York City landscape architect named Andrew Jackson Downing proposed the creation of a 500-acre park in the middle of Manhattan. It would serve, he said, as “the lungs of the city.” He and the man who…

Left Side Deadly Decisions

Whenever I think about the death penalty I think of Michael Dukakis. Remember him? In the 1988 presidential debates, he was asked how he would feel about the death penalty if his wife were brutally raped and murdered. Dukakis responded…

Left Side Media Mistakes

A number of years ago, The Virginian-Pilot ran a relatively brief article about the efforts of religious conservatives to insert creationism into school curricula, alongside the teaching of the theory of evolution. In an attempt to appear balanced, the reporter…

Left Side: Roll Of The Dice

On most social issues I’m a staunch libertarian. I firmly believe, for example, that both recreational drugs (see last month’s column) and prostitution should be legal. But whenever I contemplate the legalization of gambling I’m a little more ambivalent. Don’t…