Do what it takes to protect battered women

There was so much blood all over the place that her home looked more like a slaughterhouse. That’s what she said. She said that he chased her back into the bathroom and she felt the cold, sharp barrel of a pistol pushed hard against her head, and his threats, always with the threats he came, relentless, unpredictable, set off by anything, set off by nothing at all. How many times had he beaten her bloody, threatened to kill her, lost control utterly? She didn’t say.

The end, perhaps, of the Bush tyranny

In the five years since the terrorists attacked us on 9/11, it has seemed that President Bush could get away with virtually anything, from falsely connecting the attack on 9/11 to our pre-emptive war on Iraq to completely ignoring the Constitution (which he took an oath to defend) in various and egregious ways, including warrantless wiretapping and the seemingly endless detainment of so-called “enemy combatants” in Guantanamo Bay.

Who’s the wimp now?

Just in the past couple of months, I have been forced to confront a prejudice I didn’t really know I had. For years, as it turns out, I have secretly harbored a suspicion that most people who claim to suffer from debilitating back pain are either hypochondriacs — who complain about everything from chronic migraine headaches to an unbearable sensitivity of the eyelashes — or simply freeloaders looking to get out of work and/or draw disability, the sort of people who show up to court hearings in wheelchairs and neck braces and are seen the next day playing racquetball or doing workout routines on the uneven parallel bars.

Immigration and a complicit, angry America

On July 13, the Buncombe County Republican Action Club posted two billboards in Asheville featuring a photograph of a Mexican flag flying over an American flag, the latter of which was also turned upside down. The accompanying message read, simply, “Had Enough?” I’m not sure, but I believe the original photograph was taken when some high school students in California hoisted the flags in this configuration, a stunt that was quickly shut down, but not before the photograph was taken and transformed into a rallying cry for the Action Club and its supporters. The topic, of course, is illegal immigration, a complex problem that the Action Club would like you to believe is not complex at all, but the result of bleeding heart liberalism, pure and simple.

Somebody get that cow a pizza

Driving down Russ Avenue on yet another scorching day, I saw a couple of girls out in front of the Pizza Hut waving at people as we drove by. Behind them, there was a big sign promoting a sale on pizza. I couldn’t really tell you what the sign said because the look on the girls’ faces was so forlorn, so pathetic that I watched them instead. Their waves were not even half-hearted, arms barely lifted, heavy probably from the exertion and the heat, their motions slow and sodden.

I hear the mountains calling

Even though she’s an Indiana girl who had only seen the ocean once before we met, there is something about the beach that feels like home to Tammy. She especially likes Sunset Beach, where we go every summer. When I was a kid, on the rare occasions my family took a vacation, we went to Myrtle Beach, about a half hour south of Sunset Beach, but another world entirely in character.

Someone who understands me

In every town I’ve ever lived in — and I have lived in several — I have made a Sports Friend. In case you don’t know what a Sports Friend is, perhaps a brief definition is in order: a Sports Friend is someone with whom you can talk about urgent issues of monumental importance. For example, how will the Charlotte Bobcats’ selection of Adam Morrison help the team’s chances of making the playoffs this season? Do the Carolina Panthers have a chance at winning the Super Bowl? What is wrong with the Atlanta Braves?

Truth about kids and synchronicity

Before our son was born almost a year and a half ago, Tammy and I made an important decision. She would stop working and stay home with our two kids until they were both in school. We weighed the advantages and disadvantages, realizing that losing her income would put us in occasional tenuous circumstances financially, but we felt that even if we had to go into the red some months, even if we had to watch our credit card debt crawl (and sometimes leap) upward, it would be worth it for our family.

The principle is always important

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

The art of the graduation speech

A few years ago, I was asked to give the keynote speech for an area high school’s graduation ceremony. At first, I thought one of my so-called friends must be playing a joke on me. Why would anyone want a local newspaper columnist/college English teacher to address a group of graduating high school seniors? What would I be expected to say? “Esteemed graduates, you face many problems and challenges in the world you are about to enter — skyrocketing health care costs, our dependence on foreign oil, the scourge of terrorism — but when all is said and done, if you do not finally get a grip on comma usage, I swear I will track down every last one of you and write nasty little comments with a red pen on everything you ever write from now on. If you do not learn the difference between ‘their’ and ‘there’ I will haunt you from beyond the grave. Now go forward and prosper, but do not let your participles dangle.”

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