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[2 Mar 2015 | No Comment | ]

Other than a bit of envy of its football and baseball teams, the image Detroit summons up in most Chicagoans is fear. Bankrupt, depopulated, no future. Can we be headed in the same direction?
Of course not. Oh, sure–we forced a couple of hundred thousand  African Americans out of town, but we’re still pretty well populated. Besides– Detroit  was a single-industry town, dependent on the automotive business, which moved farther out of town and lost market share to the Japanese and Germans (who we thought lost a war to us).

Chicago, on …

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[23 Feb 2015 | No Comment | ]

Last week ISIS was making gains in Libya, but said to be stalled elsewhere. President Obama hosted an international seminar on how to combat IS (or, his preferred acronym, ISIL) ideologically, continuing the discussion about whether we were fighting “violent extremism” or “Islamic extremism/violence/terrorism.” (He reiterated his position that we are not at war with Islam, but with a terrorist organization that has hijacked the name of Islam.)

I dealt with the latter subject last week and have no need to go back to his choice of words; however, I want …

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[17 Feb 2015 | One Comment | ]

There is a certain inherent contradiction in Barack Obama’s persistent refusal to identify the jihad we’re fighting in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere as “Islamic terrorism.”
He again refused to name the beast in an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, a centrist who has what many believe to be the best of the Sunday morning political talk shows. “I don’t quibble with labels. I think we all recognize that this is a particular problem that has roots in Muslim communities,” Obama told Zakaria. “But I think we do ourselves a disservice in …

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[10 Feb 2015 | No Comment | ]

A couple of years ago, when then-Congresswoman Michele Bachmann came up with one of her wackiest outbursts, announcing that she met a woman whose child became mentally retarded shortly after getting vaccinated for HPV, a sexually transmitted disease, most of the country laughed it off as just one more goofy Bachmannism. She was promulgating an urban legend based on a totally discredited paper some unqualified character wrote linking the HPV vaccine to autism.
Considering the source, I thought to myself, that should end any such controversy.

Little did I know about my …

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[5 Feb 2015 | One Comment | ]

I’m sure you are familiar with the Yiddish word “chutzpah”–defined as a child who murders his mother and father, then pleads for the mercy of the court because he is an orphan.
Apologies for invoking the cliché, but this is the first time I’ve found a chutzpah double-header and can’t decide which of the two perpetrators is worse.  I speak of course of the possibly unprecedented, invitation extended by Speaker of the House John Boehner to have a foreign head of state,  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, address the US congress …

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[26 Jan 2015 | 2 Comments | ]

I admit to a certain lunacy by remaining a Cub fan, having first been seated in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field in 1938. Though I don’t attend many games anymore, it’s the only place I have attended longer, though less consistently, than the saloon formerly known as Riccardo’s, now Stefani’s 437 Rush, where, under-aged, I first sipped a red wine in 1950.

Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks, in recent years occasionally dropped into Stefani’s and I had the chance to exchange greetings with my second Great Cub Hero. The first was …

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[20 Jan 2015 | One Comment | ]

The actions of two small cells of French jihadists–and the presumed presence of more–are doing Benjamin Netanyahu’s work for him.
Netanyahu has worked long and hard to persuade French and other European Jews to emigrate to Israel.  Right-wing Israeli websites for at least a decade describe–not always accurately–acts of French, mainly Muslim, anti-Semitism. Some are greatly exaggerated, others accumulated over several years, but made to seem very recent.

This is not a holy man calling his coreligionists home. It is a politician aware first that the anticipated immigration numbers into Israel have …

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[12 Jan 2015 | No Comment | ]

The recent hostage taking and killing in a kosher market in Paris occurred a short 10-minute walk from where I used to have an apartment (which I sold in 2014). Over the years I would stop in there occasionally to pick up a snack or two, which is kind of scary to think about.
The horrific mass killings at the offices of the now well known Charlie Hebdo took place only another short walk from the market.
So why did these killings take place at this time?

Hitting a newspaper office and a …

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[5 Jan 2015 | 3 Comments | ]

When I go to work in a campaign, either as a paid or volunteer consultant, I always let my readers know at the time but make no further mention of the candidate.  In short, I do not use this column as propaganda for a client.  Therefore I want to say why I became a senior advisor to mayoral candidate  Jesus “Chuy” Garcia. (Pronounced “chewy”–a traditional Mexican nickname for Jesus, pronounced “haysous”).

I’ve known Chuy for 30 years and helped him in the past–as when he won a 1986 special aldermanic election …

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[29 Dec 2014 | No Comment | ]

Unless you are a Republican who can revel in the trouncing your party gave President Barack Obama in November,  it wasn’t a particularly good year. I chronicled some of the ups and many of the downs, including some  highly personal, in my weekly outpourings .
I lost a half dozen close friends including the sculptor Caroline Lee and the journalists Jon Anderson and Susan Nelson, but wrote of only about one: my dearest pal of many decades, Ron Dorfman, founder of the Chicago Journalism Review and crusader for gay rights, who, …