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04/12/2015 01:06 AM

The Chinese Menu of Truthiness

Christian and Islamic Endtime prophecies are often so vague that people can interpret them in widely disparate ways. This theme runs throughout the Revelation trilogy . These prophetic seers in effect claim to know the mind of God i.e. Truth with a Capital T. However, scripture also teaches us that human beings are fallible and may just, from time to time, edit the voice of God, Allah, or whomever, to suit their purposes. The characters in the Revelation trilogy , for various reasons, pick prophecies, aphorisms, and truths from a sort of Chinese menu -- the essence of what Steven Colbert labeled truthiness.

This week, the South Carolina government provided a parable of this process. In the state's brief to the Supreme Court opposing same-sex marriage, they have taken an 'originalist' argument that the 14th Amendment clearly allowed discrimination against married women should the states choose to do so. Because the 14th Amendment provided African-American males with the right to own property and contract with whomever they wished, but did not provide the same rights to females of any ancestry, it clearly left to the states the rights to determine marital rights. For the record, the South Carolina Attorney General has made it clear the state does not plan to deprive women of property rights they currently have. He just wants you to know that doing so would not be unconstitutional.

At least one Supreme Court justice has made this argument before. Justice Antonin Scalia, in an interview with California Lawyer made the statement "The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn't. Nobody ever thought that that's what it meant. Nobody ever voted for that. If the current society wants to outlaw discrimination by sex, hey we have things called legislatures, and they enact things called laws."

I argue to be consistent with that argument, let's do the same with the Bill of Rights. The First Amendment does not guarantee Freedom of Religion to any religion that did not exist in 1787. Similarly, the Right to Bear Arms enshrined in the Second Amendment does not include any weapon that was manufactured after Constitutional ratification. Under the Seventh Amendment all civil trials involving more than $20 must be held before a jury. The Eighth Amendment prohibits excessive bail, let's use 1787 values for that as well.

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Albert Davenport is the author of In the Shadow of Midnight: Daedalus, A Tale of Savannah and the upcoming novel Revelation 11

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04/24/2015 08:50 PM

Toni Morrison, God Help the Child

God Help the Child by Toni Morrison My rating: 4 of 5 stars This is a fine novel. Not perfect, not even really complete in a writing-workshop “craft” sense, but surely Morrison’s best since Love. God Help the Child is a striking example of Saidian late style: the furious and unresolved valediction. Spoilers below. God […]

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John Pistelli was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He now lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he teaches literature and writing. His reviews and essays have appeared in Rain Taxi, Powells.com, Dissident Voice, and New Walk. His fiction has appeared in The Three Rivers Review, The Legendary, and Whole Beast Rag.

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02/08/2014 12:45 AM

ONLY "MB"


"White people are taking over the city," Marion Barry said tonight during a radio interview with yours truly and Lyndia Grant on her WYCB-AM 1340 program, which she billed as a Black History tribute to "MB's" civil rights work. So, under those ground rules, we all just had a blast shootin' the breeze with him about his health and his legacy. Contrary to rumor, the "Mayor-for-Life" sounded much stronger than we'd expected. However, he acknowledged that he is receiving therapy ...in an undisclosed physical rehabilitation center and says he's walking better and his muscles are better and his spirits are high, and he's looking forward to celebrating his 78th birthday on March 6. He does, after all, he said "have a 77-year-old body" and "it's a miracle that he is alive." No kidding. He alluded to diabetes as the main culprit and said the city is not doing anything about the disease that affects so many blacks. Asked, of course, about his legacy, he said, "I've helped a lot of people." Asked what the "Mayor-for-Life's" public policy priorities would be if he was actually the mayor now, he answered, "helping people stay in the city," because "the white people are taking over the city." And, he'd try to get more "jobs, jobs, jobs" which was actually the priority of his first term.
On a lighter note, MB "loves" the show "Scandal." He pointed out that Judy Smith was working in the US Attorneys Office when he was on trial, and "she's the one trying to clean up that bullshit they were puttin' out there." Only MB; we let him slide on a few of the legal details -- this time. Graciously, he thanked me for being nice! As Mary Layton said, it was a "lovefest."

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Adrienne Terrell Washington is an award-winning journalist, commentator and professor. She has covered local and national news in the nation's capital for over three decades. Her "A Washington Note" blog provides throught provoking insight into current events. When not blogging, Ms. Washington writes memoir and historical pieces.

04/07/2015 03:15 PM

Poor? On Assistance? No fun for you!

In the latest move to make being poor more miserable than it already is, the state of Kansas has banned the use of welfare benefits for going to the movies, the swimming pool or even buying underwear if it could be characterized as "lingerie." No lace trimmed undies for you, young woman. Why? According to one legislator, because being on assistance means "you're sort of less than other people." Yup, she said that. Less than other people. Because apparently being poor is a moral issue. You just wouldn't be poor if you were 'good' rather than.....poor. Here's the story.

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Anniken Davenport is the author of the upcoming novel Labor Force about a dystopian not-too-distant future where the judicial system arrests those with needed skills to feed corporate needs. She is also working on a nonfiction book proposal with Albert Davenport entitled The Business of Poverty.

She holds an MA in both fiction and non-fiction writing from Johns Hopkins University. Ms. Davenport, an attorney with vast experience in criminal, labor and employment law, has authored college textbooks, and numerous professional articles.