Category Archives: Civil Liberty

Back on the Fear Standard

I may be in the shoal waters of Godwin’s Law, but bear with me.  The thing about World War II, aside from being the Big Event of the 20th century (or maybe because it was the Big Event of the 20th century), was the drama.  A world clawing itself out of years of economic mayhem, [...]

Mandela’s Ripples

I pulled out my old green, black and red “Abolish Apartheid Divest Now” button.  It was once pinned to the lapel of the black tweed blazer I wore every day, part of the 80’s newspaper reporter uniform (costume, I suppose). I got the button up in Buffalo.  Allegany County, where I lived and worked, had [...]

The Old Canal

The temperature’s been below freezing here for the last week.  At times well below freezing.  Even at low-altitude Burlington there’s a dusting of snow – frozen crystalline rime – but more important, ice. Ice on the barge canal is almost thick enough for skating.  If it stays cold, maybe by Sunday.  For now, it’s Black [...]

Legalize It

Which will be legal first in all 50 states: possession of small amounts of marijuana (say, under an ounce) or same-sex marriage? That’s a quantitative, not qualitative question.  Your chance to predict, pure oddsmaking.  My prediction: pot.  Although same sex marriage has a 14 to two lead, I see pot crossing the 50-state line first. [...]

Nobel, Schmobel

It was pretty clear the Nobel Peace Prize committee goofed when they awarded the 2009 version to Barack Obama, apparently for the sole reason that he was not George W. Bush.  I have sympathy for their error; I was as tired of W’s arrogant idiocy as anyone. Four years later, I wonder if the Nobel [...]

Going Down in History

I studied history in college and feel an obligation, as a witness to history, to write something about the political hostage taking in Washington, but I (like everyone I know) have crisis fatigue.  Really, since 9-11 it’s been one war, recession, mass murder or environmental disaster after another. In the first of these posts for [...]

Pink Collar Ghetto

My old boss, Sue Goetschius, was in the New York Times a few weeks ago.  Alfred University and Alfred State College were tussling with their namesake village over money.  Sue’s acting vice president for external affairs at the university, but three decades ago she was Allegany County bureau chief for the Olean Times Herald.  I [...]