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Birth pains for plowshare conservatives

I'm an Independent. I believe America needs a balanced budget based on the priority needs of people, not the demands of crony capitalists. I see our dependence on ever-increasing debt as a form of slavery.

Democrats boast that America’s budget was headed toward balance under President Clinton. While his role in that achievement is debatable, it’s true that our country’s finances were in much better shape when Clinton handed Bush the reigns than when Bush handed them to Obama.

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Waddling toward Jerusalem

Sacrifice is a perennial theme for me. In a recent column I discussed two kinds of sacrifice. One involves the waiver of some personal gratification, a selfless gift that contributes to creation. The other is a selfish taking of life, a killing made for private gain.

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Nashville's song for our country (land and nation)

Last month I received a phone call from a friend in Nashville who I worked with when I lived there in 1991. His name is Sizwe Herring.

Sizwe -- which means "land and nation" in Zulu --  is the visionary director of the George W. Carver Food Park. For two decades, the park has served as a community demonstration site for composting and gardening in Nashville’s inner-city neighborhoods. The park is located on state-managed public land adjacent to an interstate that runs through the city.

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The fallout of our trickle-down economy

Radiation leaking from American-designed reactors has made its way into Northwest milk and Northeast rain. Nowhere near enough to pose an immediate threat to Americans, say public officials. Yet the nuclear poison is wreaking havoc on Japan, and it is traveling great distances.

Officials have repeated two messages since day one of this tragedy. First, there’s no cause for alarm. Second, this will not alter government’s plan to subsidize more nuclear reactors.

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Do we feel lucky?

The Monday following Japan’s deadly earthquake, tsunami, and unfolding nuclear nightmare, we bought fish for our first family aquarium. Jennifer and the girls and I pored over the beautiful swimmers at a pet store in Seaside, Oregon, evacuated three days prior.

An employee’s helpful advice about keeping a healthy tank was a welcome counter-balance to the grief and worry hanging over us. The catastrophe in Japan came less than three weeks after a smaller quake did serious damage in New Zealand. Are we next in line for tectonic turmoil?

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March Hare meets the Mob

This post was first published as a column in the Cannon Beach Citizen, in the 1st congressional district of Oregon.

“We’re all mad here.” -- Lewis Carroll

Actually, Mr. Carroll didn’t say that. He merely put those words into the mouth of a furry character in one of his children’s books. Surely the man was as sane as the average deacon.

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Do it in the name of love

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”                   -- Mother Teresa

Dudes are notoriously lame when it comes to Valentine’s Day. Over the years, my actions and inactions have placed me among the ranks of Troglodites who ignore or defame the meaning of this celebration.

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Welcome to the Garden Party

"Sir, are you a singer-songwriter?''

The question came from a Greeneville High School senior who shall remain anonymous because I don't want to embarrass him. We were at a play-group reunion. Last time I saw him, 12 years ago, he was sporting a Batman cape.

"Now think about it,'' I replied, "if I really looked like a singer-songwriter, would you call me 'sir'?''

Batman didn't miss a beat. "Well, maybe if you were knighted, like Elton John.''

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Baby, it's cold outside

The rich inner experience of Christmas is coated with a sweet nutty blend of pop culture. Features for the holiday range from angels to elves, from wise men to talking snowmen, from Jesus, Mary, and Joseph to Rudolph, Prancer, and Vixen. Believers bask in the starry wonderment of Christ’s rustic birth while decking the night with merriments as bright as Las Vegas.

Howdy Babe!

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Two Santa Clauses or none?

There are some things Americans know about ourselves without having to hear it from pollsters. We know we love Santa Claus, for example. When offered a choice between having no Santa for Christmas, or having twice as much Santa, we’ll grab the latter.


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