February 25, 2021

Isiah Smith | Author

Isiah Smith, Jr. is a former newspaper columnist for the Miami Times. He worked as a psychotherapist before attending the University of Miami Law School, where he also received a Master’s Degree in Psychology. In December 2013, he retired from the Department of Energy’s Office of General Counsel, where he served as a Deputy Assistant General Counsel for Administrative Litigation and Information Law. Isiah lives in Traverse City with his wife Marlene.


That Good Thing That Trump Did

Feb. 13, 2021

“Each of us is more than the worst thing we've ever done.” — Bryan Stevenson, in his 2014 memoir, "Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption."

Leo Tolstoy wrote, “There are no conditions to which a man may not become accustomed, particular... Read More >>

Till It's Over, Part 1 & 2

Jan. 16, 2021

Whew! Glad that's over. It looks like we have survived the worst!

As America's annus horribilis limps to a merciful close, we must resist the impulse to celebrate, assuming the worse is over. While it is true that we somehow managed to avoid a total American apocalypse, we came al... Read More >>

The Drugging of the American Mind

Nov. 28, 2020

America’s war on drugs was a fraud. Paraphrasing Shakespeare, it was a “tale … full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Nothing, that is, but a pretext to punish disfavored individuals and groups. Addicts needing medical care were treated like hardened crimina... Read More >>

What Are You Gonna Tell Her?

Oct. 10, 2020

Ludwig Van Beethoven wrote, “Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy. Music is the electrical soil in which the spirit lives, thinks, and invents.”     

Two new songs by country music singer Mickey Guyton accomplish that and... Read More >>

Truman and the Dawning of McCarthyism

Aug. 8, 2020

Picture it: The last day of July 2020. We are social distancing in a backyard in Traverse City, with friends, bemoaning the state of our country. We represent different cultures, ethnicities, and national origins. We are united in our despair.

“How did this happen?” so... Read More >>

Chess in the Time of Corona

June 6, 2020

Benjamin Franklin was a serious chess player who was captivated by the game’s metaphorical possibilities. During the American Revolution, Franklin was playing chess when his French opponent put Franklin’s king in check. The rules required Franklin to protect the king, but inst... Read More >>

Sitting on the Dock of Dismay

March 28, 2020

If the events of the last several weeks have taught us anything, it is how fragile we are. Not only our physical being but also everything in our world, which exists in a state of uncertainty. Everything can change in a second — a nanosecond, really.
 
The tumult that... Read More >>

Imagine Equality

Jan. 18, 2020

Economic equality is a good, if essentially elusive, goal. It has become fashionable in some political circles to blame capitalism for Americans’ economic inequality. But are we to believe equality can only be achieved if capitalism dies? Can we have capitalism andeconomic equality?... Read More >>

JFK and the Law of Unintended Consequences

Sept. 7, 2019

America would be a much different country today if JFK had not suffered from a bad back and other serious medical conditions.

If, like a young Donald Trump, JFK had been stricken by “deadly bone spurs” in his foot, he might never have joined the Navy, never have bec... Read More >>

Learning to See Again

May 4, 2019

Americans generally trust journalists about as much as they trust roadside sushi stands. Just because the salmon rolls look good doesn’t mean you ought to be eating them. The news we consume can be as unhealthy as raw fish gone bad. And “news” can take up parasitic resid... Read More >>

Drunken Nation

Feb. 16, 2019

“First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.” ― F. Scott Fitzgerald 
 
Life told in anecdotes:

You enter a dark cave, shadows dance upon the wall, twisted dark figures pas... Read More >>

The Divine Right of Kings

Jan. 19, 2019

Imagine this: A long black limousine floats to the edge of the sidewalk curb on Fifth Avenue and parks between the Cartier and Rolex watch shops.  Shoppers on “The Avenue” are used to seeing such high-end shoppers being driven to the most expensive shops in New York. ... Read More >>

How Civility Spreads

Dec. 8, 2018

“So let us begin anew — remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is subject to proof.” — President John F. Kennedy, Jan. 20, 1961, inaugural address

For the third year in a row, the ... Read More >>

Supreme Discomfort

Sept. 29, 2018

Ostersund, Sweden — On May 28, 1788, in Federalist 78, Alexander Hamilton wrote that the judiciary is the least dangerous branch of government. Judges under the Constitution, he wrote would possess “neither force nor will but merely judgment.” 

Add these vie... Read More >>

You Can't Go Home Again

July 28, 2018

In “A Moveable Feast,” Hemingway wrote that anyone lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man carries the memory of Paris with him wherever he goes.

I think that’s true of anyplace one happens to have spent considerable time during their formative years. ... Read More >>

Who Are We to Judge?

June 2, 2018

Who would want to be judged by the worse things they had ever done?

Who believes that it’s appropriate to condemn someone based solely on passionate allegations, and in the absence of other evidence?

Some allegations may well be (and are) accurate and sustainable. Bu... Read More >>

Enlightenment or Societal Regression?

Feb. 24, 2018

I seldom attend church — unless I’m in Miami, where I spend a part of each winter.

My relationship with religion is tenuous at best. However, I am capable of holding two opposed ideas in my mind at the same time while still maintaining the ability to function (apologie... Read More >>

Thinking Makes it So

Jan. 27, 2018

 

On May 7, 2016, a 30-year-old woman aboard an American Airlines flight from Philadelphia to nearby Syracuse, New York, had a fellow passenger escorted off the plane for suspected terrorist activity. The suspected “terrorist” was Guido Menzio, a young decorated I... Read More >>

Men Who Would Be King

Aug. 26, 2017

There’s seems to be something in the mysterious makeup of the American mind that longs for a time when kings ruled, and the people followed with blind allegiance.

You can see it in our morbid fascination with the British royal family, and the continued deification of Princes... Read More >>

The Health of a Nation

June 17, 2017

It’s an early hot, sultry Virginia morning, and I’m drenched with sweat. A pressure that feels like a two-ton elephant is crushing my chest, and I’m slipping into the darkness.

A sharp pain cuts through my chest. So, this is what it’s like to die.

... Read More >>