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[25 Aug 2015 | No Comment | ]

A few months ago it was all so simple: the 2016 presidential candidates would be Hillary Clinton for the Democrats and Jeb Bush for the GOP. Now there is cause for wonder–and perhaps some revisionist thinking.
First, I have always warned against early polling, as any glance back at the 2012 Republican “frontrunners” shows: first Michelle Bachman, then Herman Cain, then Rick Santorum, on and on until the inevitable Mitt Romney grabbed the lead and held it through the nomination. Within days of Donald Trump’s announcement he started rising and looked …

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[18 Aug 2015 | No Comment | ]

You may recall only a few months ago Chicago police officer Dante Servin was charged with “reckless” involuntary manslaughter because he fired five shots over his shoulder from inside his car, pointing toward four youths in a dark alley. He was purportedly aiming at a specific young man because the officer feared for his life–the usual excuse–but instead killed a totally innocent young woman accused of no misbehavior.

The judge immediately threw the case out because State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez had dramatically undercharged the officer. The cop’s action was beyond reckless–pointing …

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[12 Aug 2015 | One Comment | ]

While spending a long weekend in Seattle with my son and grandchildren, the older of the two boys and I were going to take in a downtown rally for Sen. Bernie Sanders on Saturday. Turned out grandson Asa wasn’t feeling well so we didn’t go–and missed the now notorious interruption of Sanders’s speech by the group called “Black Lives Matter.” The same group prevented his speaking more than a few words several weeks ago at the NetRoots Nation convention. (Later Saturday evening Sanders did address a massive rally, uninterrupted.)

You may …

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[4 Aug 2015 | No Comment | ]

A couple of months ago this column proposed, “ What we need across the country, in major counties or districts, is a special prosecutor’s office dedicated solely to grand juries hearing cases of police killings, brutality or serious misconduct.… [the prosecutor] protected from political reprisals.”

The idea is that county prosecutors must work hand in glove with the local police to solve and prosecute crimes. This makes it almost impossible for those state’s attorneys to indict and prosecute police shootings and killings to the fullest extent of the law–as we …

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[28 Jul 2015 | One Comment | ]

Opinions on the impending Iran nuclear deal run the gamut from the salvation of society to apocalypse now.
If it works as the six-nations who negotiated it believe, it is the first and most important step on the long journey toward reconciliation of many conflicts in the Middle East. If it fails, views range from a moderate setback to a “catastrophic mistake” that could set off a new nuclear arms race leading even to Israel‘s annihilation.

I’m for it, though not without some trepidations, as anyone familiar with …

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[20 Jul 2015 | No Comment | ]

I’m not a psychohistorian, especially when the subject is still living–though hampered by problems of
age–but I’m willing to bet that “Go Set a Watchman” is the real novel that Harper Lee always wanted to
publish. But she got talked or even bullied into watering it down from a seriously political indictment of
the 1950s South in transition to the inspirational and perennially best-selling “To Kill a Mockingbird,”
whose 1960 publication coincided with the rising civil rights movement.
 
While neither book is a literary masterpiece, “Watchman” is more complex and subtle in its
characterizations–a better novel, …

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[14 Jul 2015 | No Comment | ]

Since everyone else is sounding off on the Republican presidential candidate with the weird hairdo, I might as well join the scrum. (Unfortunately, I share a first name with him, which was bad enough with Rumsfeld–much better with Duck.)
What I keep hearing are echoes of a couple of candidates long past: George Wallace and Richard Nixon.

The late Alabama governor ran for president three times, twice in Democratic primaries and once in an independent party–but always with the same essential segregationist message. When he was campaigning in places where he couldn’t …

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[6 Jul 2015 | One Comment | ]

The Supreme Court of the United States has been outraging one side or another since the birth of our nation, like supporting slavery then outlawing it. Abe Lincoln wanted to expand it from 9 to 12. When Franklin Roosevelt tried adding to its “nine old men” he was censured by all sides for “packing” the court.

Following the Obamacare and same-sex marriage decisions, SCOTUS was roundly condemned on the right. Sen. Ted Cruz accused all the justices of being (gasp!) lawyers; others complained none were Evangelicals. Gov. Bobby Jindal proposed abolishing …

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[30 Jun 2015 | No Comment | ]

Last week was amazing for civil and human rights–Obamacare was upheld, same-sex marriage became law, the Supreme Court put teeth in the weak 1968 fair housing act and ruled states did not have to put the Confederate battle flag on license plates if requested. Then came South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley’s call to remove that flag from state grounds–followed by other states taking similar action and major retailers announcing they would no longer sell paraphernalia displaying it.
A mere hundred and fifty years too late, southern officials finally got the message …

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[22 Jun 2015 | No Comment | ]

I’m white inside but that don’t help my case
‘Cause I can’t hide what is in my face
How would it end, ain’t got a friend
My only sin is in my skin
What did I do to be so black and blue
Long before “black is beautiful” came that 1929 musical plaint, “Black and Blue,” title taken from a Langston Hughes poem. With Fats Waller’s music it became a huge hit, sung by Louis Armstrong and major African American singers of the 30s. Small wonder so many lighter skinned black people tried and still …