November 28, 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.

Running Out the Clock

Nov. 27, 2021

As the birthdays accumulate, piling up like so many layers of dry leaves freshly fallen on fallow ground, one can’t resist the urge to ask, for the 73rd time, “What’s next?” It’s both a micro question, like “What to write next?” and a macro one: &... Read More >>

A Clearing in the Distance

Oct. 2, 2021

“It feels as if nothing can be overcome. Everything is being relitigated.” – Maureen Dowd

The halfway point of our 34-mile bike ride is Harbor Springs – our favorite destination, rich with Michigan history. 

Ancient glaciers wrote the ...

Einstein: Civil Rights Icon

Aug. 7, 2021

More words have been written about Albert Einstein than almost any person who has ever lived. In all those mountains of words, consisting of facts every reasonable well-educated student knows, there is almost no mention of his devotion to civil rights.

Books about Einstein continu...

The Big Tech Threat

June 12, 2021

Behind every great fortune lies a great crime. — Honore de Balzac

Big Tech is not really who we think they are.  We think they are simply hotbeds of innovation that represent the pinnacle of human ingenuity and creativity.  They are also symbols of technol... Read More >>

Racism is Having a Moment

May 1, 2021

It pierced me to my core when I read the local news accounts of the racist Snapchat that several students from TCAPS and other local school districts had exchanged messages on a “Slave Trade” Snapchat group, in which they posted racist, homophobic, antisemitic, anti-disability... Read More >>

The DIY Lobotomy

April 17, 2021

“Did you read the review in The New Yorker of the new Philip Roth biography?” I asked my well-read conservative cousin. (Yes, Black conservatives do exist!)

“No,” he responded. “I don’t read The New Yorker; too liberal.”<... Read More >>

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...

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...

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.” 

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