Author: Jack Cluth

About Jack Cluth

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Portland’s Thought Police attack again

Another controversy has erupted over a Sellwood-Moreland business, this one over the owner’s views on gays and same-sex marriage…. Facebook and other social media sites have exploded over a soon-to-open fresh meat and vegetable store called Moreland Farmers Pantry. Neighbors and nearby business owners, once excited by the prospect of the new shop, are now backing away…. “They’re choosing to open a business in a very open-minded neighborhood,” said Tom Brown, owner of Brown Properties and president of the Sellwood Moreland Business Alliance. “I think their personal views are going to hurt.”

be-dogIf I’ve written it once, I’ve written it a thousand times. In a democracy that guarantees freedom of speech, one must accept that free speech can be (and very often is) offensive and/or objectionable speech. I may abhor your views, but I’ll defend your right to them…and I’ll expect nothing less from you.

It’s the forcible implementation of those views where the rubber meets the road. This is the point in the story where I should introduce Chauncy Childs. Her claim to fame should be limited to opening a grocery store in Portland’s trendy Sellwood neighborhood. Because we live in the age of over-sharing (and over-reacting), Childs finds herself hip-deep in a controversy that may imperil the success of her business even before it opens.

Childs’ “crime” is opposing same-sex marriage and has saying as much in Facebook posts. Here in Portlandia, such views are considered heretical and offensive. The correctness (or lack thereof) of her opposition to same-sex marriage is something I’ll leave to others with intellects and debating skills more nimble than my own. My concern is with the fate that Childs may suffer because of her publicly-stated views.

Don’t get me wrong; I find Childs’ opposition to same-sex marriage to be as abhorrent as it is wrong. That said, she’s well within her right to hold (and voice) that opinion. She’s stated very clearly she neither plans nor intends to refuse to do business with members of Portland’s LGBT community. Childs has made it clear she’ll welcome all to her business. Yet there are those among Portland’s Liberal majority promising they’ll never set foot in any business run by a homophobe and bigot.

But is that really what Childs is? Or is this a case of political correctness being employed to destroy someone guilty only of holding an opinion contrary to the majority?
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He died for your sins…and your right to oppress those who don’t share your beliefs

The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.

  • Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion

A reader unfamiliar with my writing might draw the mistaken conclusion that I’m anti-religion. Far from it; I believe religion has much to offer. What’s so funny about peace, love, and understanding (apologies to Elvis Costello), right? How could something that at its core attempts to elevate mankind’s better angels be a bad thing? The CONCEPT of religion is at its most basic a good thing. It’s the EXECUTION that makes it the vehicle for hypocrisy, repression, and mass murder it’s become.

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This is why Cinderella wears those glass slippers

From November through early March, I rarely pay attention to college basketball. For whatever reason, I can’t gin up anything resembling excitement and enthusiasm until the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament rolls around.

In my not so very humble opinion, it’s the single best sporting spectacle this country has to offer: 68 teams, all with the hope of running the table and winning a championship. Doing that is a daunting task: in a one-loss-and-you’re-out tournament, the champion must win six consecutive games (seven if you begin in the play-in round) against competition whose degree of difficulty increases with each successive round.
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It’s not a party until the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei shows up

When you head out to Minneapolis’ premier German restaurant, Gasthof zur Gemütlichkeit, you expect brats and bier and kraut. You might not expect the Third Reich. But then, Christmas is a time for special celebrations. City Pages got an anonymous tip last week in the form of a photo that appeared to show a Nazi hootenanny at the convivial Teutonic eatery.

abfIt turns out that Georges Santayana was right- those who don’t know history really ARE condemned to repeat it. (And sometimes even those who DO understand it.) What better way to prove the never-ending truth of this pronouncement than having a Nazi-themed Christmas party at a German restaurant? What could POSSIBLY be misunderstood or misinterpreted?

I understand the party was for members of the WWII Historical Re-enactment Society, Inc., who evidently like to play dress up- even if it means not so subtly honoring a brutally murderous regime responsible for the deaths of six million Jews.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night, eh? Peace on Earth and Goodwill Towards Men? Or perhaps not so much.

 
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Guns and Jesus: Hey, it’s Kentucky. Why not??

The Kentucky Baptist Convention wants to “point people to Christ” by giving away guns at Second Amendment Celebrations hosted across the state. In the words of spokesman Chuck McAlister the strategy is “outreach to rednecks,” and 1,000 people are expected to attend the next event. To lure the nonreligious into the fold, the churches are offering a handgun, shotgun, or long gun as door prizes…. “The number of unchurched men who will show up will be in direct proportion to the number of guns you give away,” McAlister told The Courier-Journal. “And I can almost tell you the number of men who would show up based on the make or model. There is a huge interest among unchurched men in the state of Kentucky regarding guns and gun rights that is even more of a draw than a toaster or money would be.”

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Greetings from our (not so) New Idiocracy

bill14718_11808312391-thumb-275x306One of the disturbing aspects of the crisis in Ukraine is the dearth of information being provided by cable news outlets. If you’ve ever doubted the power and influence of the media infotainment complex, Ukraine should serve as confirmation.

CNN tries, but, being CNN, the “news” is packaged more for entertainment than information. MSNBC is caught up in their personality-driven programming, most of which involves pundits and other “experts” pontificating at some length about the significance of things which allow them to revel in their own mellifluous tones.

Fox News Channel? I’m probably not the one best suited to speak to the relevance and/or accuracy of FNC’s coverage. They’re less a news outlet dedicated to objective journalism than the propaganda arm of Koch Industries and the GOP.
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Backasswards priorities: Because ‘Murrica

Think of all the things we could have used that money for: funding education, free healthcare, roads, bridges, curing cancer, you name it. That was our money. We’ll never know what they spent it on and we’ll certainly never see it again.

– Jesse Ventura
12yrs 
You can learn a lot about a person by understanding what their priorities are. The same can be said for a country, which doesn’t bode well for America, what with our priorities being what they are these days. The truth of what we’re collectively willing to spend our money on reveals us to be a callous, intolerant lot far more comfortable with killing foreigners than with helping our own.

Shouldn’t we be able to expect that our tax dollars would be put to use here at home, in order that America might be a better place? I know; I can be SO naive sometimes….

Before I get too far along, I thought it would be useful to consider the sheer, almost incomprehensible immensity of the amount of money we’re talking about here: four to six TRILLION dollars. I find it more impactful to see the numbers: $4,000,000,000,000 to $6,000,000,000,000.

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Sometimes drawing a line in the sand is the best and only move

adickerBarring a minor miracle, Portland Public School teachers will go on strike Thursday. I’m not going to pretend to know or even fully understand the issues involved in this contretemps; what I do know is that this run up to a potential strike was inevitable.

Like districts all around the country, PPS has demanded ever more and greater things from its teachers- larger class sizes, heavier work loads, less preparation time. Eventually a breaking point was bound to be reached.

It would appear we’re there.

The biggest problem- and this is not a problem exclusive to Portland- is that education is not a value. As a society, we view funding education not as an investment in the future, but as another expense to be squeezed and minimized to whatever degree possible. No one wants to pay higher property taxes, but if we want a quality education for our children we need to face the reality that it can’t be done on the cheap. Education doesn’t grow on trees, and despite what so many of us think, teachers aren’t merely those who can’t get “real” jobs. Most teachers do what they do because they love children and want to make a difference.

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The Kansas Taliban: Like the real Taliban only less tolerant

[C]onsider the bill itself. When passed, the new law will allow any individual, group, or private business to refuse to serve gay couples if “it would be contrary to their sincerely held religious beliefs.” Private employers can continue to fire gay employees on account of their sexuality. Stores may deny gay couples goods and services because they are gay. Hotels can eject gay couples or deny them entry in the first place. Businesses that provide public accommodations—movie theaters, restaurants—can turn away gay couples at the door. And if a gay couple sues for discrimination, they won’t just lose; they’ll be forced to pay their opponent’s attorney’s fees….

russian_propagandax400Imagine if you will a place where a person can be legally marginalized simply because of whom and how they love. Imagine that the full force and power of the state has been repurposed in order to make treating that person like a second-class citizen perfectly legal and acceptable.
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In a world ruled by youth, “experienced” is the new “obsolete”

Discrimination due to age is one of the great tragedies of modern life. The desire to work and be useful is what makes life worth living, and to be told your efforts are not needed because you are the wrong age is a crime.

– Johnny Ball

horse-you-rodeI’ve been reluctant to write about my employment situation, mostly because I haven’t had anything interesting to say about it. I’ve also wanted to be careful in case a potential employer were to stumble upon my dark, musty, lightly-traveled corner of da Interwebs. While I normally don’t overly concern myself with the opinions of others (this is my sandbox, after all), I haven’t wanted to do anything that might complicate my chance of securing gainful employment. Seeing as how making a living trafficking in heart-breaking literary brilliance is looking increasingly less likely, I’ve had to turn to more conventional (i.e.– less interesting and exciting) ways of keeping Fred (our cat) in kibble.
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Wendy Davis: A strong, capable woman…who therefore must be destroyed

In an article that was published on Real Clear Politics Thursday morning, Ann Coulter claimed that Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis is nothing more than “a gold-digger who found a sugar daddy” who took advantage of her ex-husband Jeff Davis to get her way in life. Essentially, in her article, Coulter frames Davis as someone who never had a tough time in her life and who has always taken advantage of others to get what she wanted.

G-MommyWhiteRacistBS-thumb-220x150It was only a matter of time before the White Conservative power structure in Texas figured out that Wendy Davis represents a legitimate threat to its hegemony. That time has clearly arrived, and the (not so very) understated but clearly coordinated attempts to smear Davis have begun. It’s easy to recognize, because the attacks are personal and rarely have anything to do with her policy positions. Whether it’s a truly cheap shot (Ann Coulter calling Davis a “gold digger”) or twisting her path from poverty to prosperity into something dark and evil, it appears the Right-wing intends to attack early, often, and below the belt.

Feeling as if you’ve seen this movie before?? It’s what the Right does when they fear they can’t win based on their ideas- if you can’t beat e’em, destroy ‘em.
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…and as God is my witness, he’ll never have to eat poutine again!

canada-exit-ceremonyIt certainly took bloody long enough, but Sen. Ted “100% Americanlike” Cruz (R-Poutine) is finally taking action to formally renounce his Canadian citizenship, which was conferred on him at birth by virtue of being born at the top of the CN Tower in beautiful downtown Calgary, in the province of Algeria. He confirmed in an interview with the Dallas Morning News this weekend that he has hired attorneys to help him with the process, which surprisingly involves more than simply saying “I break with thee, I break with thee, I break with thee” and throwing dog poop on a picture of the Queen. Who knew? So God willing and the creek don’t rise he will be Canadian-free by the end of 2014, and can then become President in 2016 just like his daddy and the Lord said he would.

caOnce upon a time, in a land far, far away (in The Great White North, if memory serves), a Savior was born, a man who would be called upon to restore his country to the path of Godliness and righteousness. Just as soon as he figured which country was actually his.
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Obama Claus: How evil Liberal trolls stole Christmas from good, God-fearing White children

The Liberal Clause takes place in the small town of Camas, WA where, for as long as anyone can remember, the children have been given the special responsibility of electing the Great Elf Council that serves at the North Pole.
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This year, however, the ballots go missing. Suspiciously, nasty ol’ Elf Peloosi discovers a box she claims are the missing ballots under a shelf in the back of a union warehouse.

The elves are so glad the ballots have been recovered that they don’t bother to question the fact that there are more ballots returned than were cast!…

The elves’ relief dissipates quickly as it becomes clear something fishy is going on. After the Liberal Party of Elves takes over the Great Council Santa Claus suddenly goes missing and the elf people are told he is being replaced.

Gather ‘round, children, ‘cuz Ima gonna tell you a story.

It’s about how an evil Kenyan-born, Islamofascist, America-hating, illegal President and his evil minions stole Christmas from good, God-fearing, faithfully Conservative Children. Oh…and how one good, God-fearing Conservative White Patriot in Camas, WA, rescued Christmas from the clutches of Liberals who would crush the spirit of Christmas…..
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Freedom of speech: Now available only to Radical Right-wing Christians

A nation founded by pilgrims who came here to worship the God of the Bible freely without interference and persecution from ruling elites and those opposed to Christianity’s influence on the culture, has now come to the proverbial fork in the road. After years of attempting to balance traditional Americana with political correctness, those pushing the new “my way or the highway” definition of “tolerance” have decided accommodating our differences of opinion is defeat.

relfI’ve long since grown tired of the Radical Christian Right’s desire to portray themselves as an oppressed class. In their delusional view of the world, the sole raison d’être of Godless Liberals is to deny Christians their God-given right to live their beliefs and speak their mind.

Oh, the humanity….
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My Christmas wish for a better America

somethingniceWith less than two weeks remaining until Christmas Day, I thought this might be a good time for me to change things up a bit. I devote a good deal of time, energy and column inches to ridiculing the twisted, sometimes inhuman philosophies of those on the Far Right end of the political spectrum. It’s richly deserved criticism, but in doing so I’m running the risk of falling prey to the one of the things I find so objectionable about the Far Right.

It’s very easy to hold forth about what you’re against, about what you find objectionable, inappropriate, and/or just plain wrong. When all you do is tear something down, you never have to elucidate what you propose to build in its place. We hear a lot these days about what angers those on the Far Right, about what they oppose. What we generally don’t hear is what they would DO. It stands to reason that if you’re proposing to tear something down that you tell us what you’re going to build in its place, no? Of course, it’s much easier to tear things down. You never really have to address the problem you decry, but you can act as if you’re making things better.

For my part, I write a lot about what I find objectionable about modern Conservatism (Which really isn’t Conservatism at all, but that’s another story for another day). I have a difficult time processing how mean-spirited self-righteousness and the politics of divide and conquer moves America forward. Rather than expound at length about this truth, today I’m turning the light around so I can focus it on myself and what I believe. In the spirit of Christmas, then, allow me to share the world I want to live in. It’s not “pie in the sky;” everything I hope for is achievable and doable. It’s just a matter of resolve and doing the right things for the right reasons.

My Christmas wish is for a world in which…  Continue reading