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Voluntary Americans

When I was a young child, we said the pledge of allegiance first thing every morning in school. I placed my hand on my heart and recited words I’d been taught, not giving much thought to what they meant or where they came from. We might have even sung the national anthem, I can’t remember. Then some guy filed a lawsuit challenging the state’s right to require his child to swear under god or something, and we stopped pledging allegiance, and instead dived straight into some other form of indoctrination. With all the recent hoopla about football players kneeling during the national anthem, it reminds me that symbols are no substitute for substance. And it is the substance of a thing that sh

Duck and Cover

I am old enough to have been a child during the Cold War. And I’m young enough to have only a vague recollection of the quintessential American Cold War school drill. We were periodically marched out into the hallway, lined up against the wall and told to squat down on the floor and cover our heads with our coats. Exactly what crouching under coats would do to ward off nuclear warheads we didn’t know and of course, the actual threat of nuclear war was too abstract for us to grasp at that age. And as children, we could be forgiven for just going along with the program, following orders and doing as we were told, no matter how nonsensical. But today, there are far too many Americans who hav

Churchifying

Call it what you like – moral relativism or just plain old hypocrisy – we are steeped in a culture in which an alarming number of people are entirely comfortable ignoring one “sin” while actively condemning another. Church marquees proclaim messages of piety and devotion, yet most devotees go to church once a week so they can tick off that obligation and promptly go back to raising hell. That Trump chump lauds the return of the phrase “Merry Christmas” to our national lexicon while cozying up to Nazis and white supremacists in order to snag votes. I guess he figures Santa was good to him this year, since he’s reveling in a so-called tax reform bill that will deprive 20 million Americans of

So Do We Feel Better or Do We Feel Worse?

The Republican National Committee has made it official: women don’t matter in this country … or girls either, apparently, not even underage children. For all the obligatory nattering about “the children, the children” usually accompanied by prodigious handwringing, we don’t give a damn about children. We’re about to elect an accused pedophile into the hallowed halls of the U.S. Senate. And I say “we” because this issue is larger than just the RNC or the DNC or the asses or the elephants. It’s larger than the current scandal du jour (or should I say du hour). It’s a testament of something too many of us have already known for far too long from painful personal experience: this country’s m

Middle America

So let’s take a look at the scourges facing “Middle America” today. I put that phrase in quotes for a few reasons. One, because despite its on-size-fits-all denomination, it, like most similar categories, is hardly monolithic but is as varied as the kinds of cereal offered at the local Wal-Mart. Two, because it, like the dodo of millennium past, is a vanishing species and thus deserving of quotation marks. And third, because it seems that until that particular slice of Americana – whatever that is – experiences a phenomenon, it’s not a reality in the “real American” psyche. Anyway, let’s list the plagues currently befalling that swath of America that a dwindling number of people can hones

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