The Kudzu Kronicle

Because not all Southerners are the same

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Have I meat-ed the end?

A couple of years ago, I wrote a column to help me cope with my son’s shocking conversion to vegetarianism. I come from a family barely evolved from Cro-Magnon man — you know, those guys who flew on pterodactyls and had their cars tipped over by giant racks of brontosaurus ribs. We have always been meatatarians.

As I said at the time, though, everyone should be a vegetarian. It’s way better for the environment, and scientists are pretty insistent that it’s better for your health, too. Unfortunately, as I also said at the time, it was too late for me. I was already one brontosaurus rib over the line — yep, sittin’ downtown in a railway station, one rib over the line.

Then I found out the main artery into my heart was so clogged that even a Drano burger couldn’t clear it out. The doctor sent some pipe cleaner up my arm, cleared that sucker out, put in a stent and suggested that I’d have to do it all over again very soon if I didn’t give up my Cro-Magnon diet, especially red meat — you know, burgers, steaks and mammoths. Continue reading

What men look for in underwear is no Secret

Like a lot of husbands, I’ve been accused on occasion of not listening. By “on occasion,” I mean a few times every day. However, my wife knows one way to get my attention:

“I got a coupon.”

“What’s that?”

I’ve also been accused of being a cheapskate, although I prefer terms like frugal or spending-challenged. I’m definitely not embarrassed to present a coupon and save a few bucks.

She said it was for a store that specializes in women’s underwear and lingerie and such. I’d reveal the name of the store, but I prefer to keep that a Secret. I wasn’t all that interested in the product, but I was still interested in saving a few bucks. However, I was unimpressed that the coupon was to get seven panties for $35.

You’ve probably seen panties from this particular store. I suspect seven of their panties takes about 3.5 cents worth of material. I nearly spit out my generic coffee when she told me how much they cost.

“That’s a special?! I haven’t spent $35 on underwear in the past 20 years!” Continue reading

The kids are all right

Today’s column in the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer is about some young folks who give me hope for the future — those impassioned, articulate kids from Parkland, Fla.; a group of college kids from Ohio’s Wittenberg University who are working with my nonprofit this week; and my own kids.  I take a couple of jabs at Georgia’s pandering politicians like Casey Cagle (who represents the worst in American politics), but mostly it’s about why you should quit worrying about kids eating Tide Pods and be optimistic. They haven’t been Cagle-ized yet. They still have integrity. So, check out the column. Also, you can see my interview with one of the kids in the Fuller Center for Housing video below, along with a gallery of their first day’s work Monday. Rain drove us off the roof today, but the group is helping another nonprofit here in Perry, Georgia, this morning.

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It’s about to get tougher for American charities and the poor

If you’re poor, it’s probably not very reassuring when Speaker Paul Ryan touts the extra $1.50 you’re getting in your paycheck. America is turning on you — demonizing the poor, slashing taxes for the rich and reducing incentives to give to charity. Poverty is about to grow, along with financial inequality.

Nonprofits like the United Way are expecting big declines in their revenue this year, largely due to the tax reform that disincentivizes donations to charity because standard deductions are increased for so many in the bottom 80 percent. Meanwhile, programs for the poor are being slashed, leaving a bigger need for the work of nonprofits, who will have less money to do the work.

Tax reform is not doing much to help the poor, the bottom 20 percent. And that’s a huge problem because the poorest 20 percent of Americans are far more generous than the top 20 percent — and that counts those giant gifts from folks like Bill Gates. The top 20 percent gives only 1.3 percent of its income to charity, while the bottom 20 percent gives at more than double that rate. They don’t have much, and they can’t give much, but they give what they can. They see the problems around them. If they could give more, they would. History shows that if the rich, as a whole, can give less, they will. Continue reading

The great curling debate

I know you are as excited as I am for the upcoming Winter Olympics. I’m wearing my USA t-shirt, bought a snow-cone machine and am making some hot cocoa right now. OK, let’s go! USA! USA!

Wait, what? What do you mean they’re already over? Well, yes I saw a bunch of white folks on TV recently, but I thought that was just CPAC. Hmm, in hindsight, I thought Mike Pence looked a little too agile in the half-pipe.

Perhaps I wasn’t paying attention because like so many Americans, I’ve been caught up in a tiring debate where no common ground is ever discovered. That debate, of course is “Curling: A stupid sport or merely ridiculous?”

There are a lot of sports I don’t really enjoy that many other folks do enjoy. Take soccer, for instance. Literally, gazillions of people around the world play the sport. It’s simple. It’s good exercise. You don’t need thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment to play. There’s obviously good reason why it’s so popular. I just don’t particularly enjoy watching it — or any sport where there is a significant chance that the game may end with a score of 0-0, the same score it was when you arrived at the stadium. Continue reading

Cagle steps up his pandering with Delta extortion

Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle has stepped up his game in his attempt to stand out from Georgia’s current crop of right-wingers seeking the Republican gubernatorial nomination.

He was hanging his hat on so-called “religious liberty” — the unofficial litmus test for anyone seeking the GOP nomination that proves you really, really hate gays … as opposed to the other guy who only really kinda hates gays. He vowed he would sign the pro-discrimination bill if it hits his desk in the governor’s office in 2019. And, unfortunately, he probably will be our next governor.

Now, he’s jumping on the I-luvs-my-guns bandwagon that always gains steam after kids are shot. Folks send thoughts and prayers and then rally around their AR-15s and high-capacity magazines.

Some companies are ending relationships with the National Rifle Association — often relationships that offered some form of discount to NRA members. One of those companies is Delta Air Lines, which also has vehemently spoken out against the anti-freedom “religious freedom” agenda.

Today, Cagle took his pandering to the right-wing voters to another level with this extortion of Delta on his Facebook page, an attempt that has gotten a lot of backlash from his constituents: Continue reading

If you don’t love these kids, there’s something wrong with you

This is not a post about gun control — pro or con or somewhere in the middle. No, this is about some inspiring kids.

The young people who survived last week’s horrible shooting spree at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, have impressed me with their passion for making the world a better place. Right now, the issue may be guns, but I doubt their activism will stop there. As the parent of a young man who will turn 18 tomorrow, I’m excited about the next generation. He’s a good kid, too.

These articulate kids seem to understand that it’s not enough to simply complain and protest. They are demanding accountability from politicians. And — in a move that ought to scare the hell out of career-bought-and-paid-for politicians — they are vowing to vote. And if young folks ever come out to the polls in force, no amount of gerrymandering will be able to stem their power for years to come.

These kids are demanding common-sense gun regulations.  What’s next? Are they going to demand we stop punishing kids financially for going to college? Are they going to want a clean planet? Are they going to try to help sick people instead of treating them as cash cows for greedy pharmaceutical and insurance companies? Are they going to demand campaign finance reform and an end to Citizens United? Are they going to fight income inequality and the debt? Are they going to steer us from a constant state of war? Are they going to work to empower the less fortunate rather than demonizing the poor? Continue reading

Buying a new vehicle really pushes my buttons

For a 47-year-old guy, I’ve owned relatively few vehicles in my lifetime. That’s because I drive them until well after they are paid for. In fact, if it weren’t for a kid destroying my car — and almost terminating me — at a red light on Veterans Parkway in 2000, I might still be driving a 1995 Saturn coupe.

The truck I drive today is paid for, and I’ll drive it until it blows up, hits another deer or I win the lottery and pay cash to upgrade myself to some other base model pickup — although perhaps one whose payload capacity allows it not to sink down when hauling life’s necessities like a small cooler or Nerf football.

My wife, on the other hand, had recently grown tired of her nearly-paid-for SUV, which meant that we closed out 2017 by going car shopping. Continue reading

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