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[12 May 2015 | No Comment | ]

Two recent events again test the limits–if any–on 1st Amendment rights to free speech, with the ancillary question of “hate speech”
In one episode the international Poets, Editors, Novelists organization (PEN) honored the writers and editors of the French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo, whose 11 staff, editors and cartoonists were murdered by a couple of Muslim jihadists because of the publication’s sarcastic verbal and pictorial depictions of their faith, along with similar assaults on other religions. The magazine is an equal opportunity insulter, though the protests of Catholics, Jews, Mormons etc …

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[6 May 2015 | One Comment | ]

A couple of weeks ago I suggested Hillary Clinton should welcome serious opposition in her primary, largely to ask the tough questions and inoculate her on issues that could be deadly if sprung in the general election. Of equal import is a challenge from the left to force her hand on progressive issues instead of mouthing generalities.
Most progressives hoped Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren would play that role, but she consistently refuses.

But lo! we now have a genuine progressive in the race whose positions easily match Warren’s …

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[28 Apr 2015 | 2 Comments | ]

Every few days we get a new report of police killings–here in Chicago, New York, Baltimore and places you likely never heard of, like Ferguson MO, all across the country. Typically an unarmed person–often a youth, usually of color–is shot dead. There are protests–sometimes violent–it turns into a media event and eventually the officer involved either faces no charges or is found innocent.

In an unusual case here, an officer who fired over his shoulder into a small crowd of people and killed a woman, was charged with involuntary manslaughter. His …

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[21 Apr 2015 | No Comment | ]

Remember the 2008 presidential primary when Sen. Hillary Clinton uncorked videos showing Sen. Barack Obama’s  minister and mentor Rev. Jeremiah Wright making explosive racial comments in his sermons including his notorious “God damn America”? The object was to contaminate Obama with the fiery clergyman.
It was a low blow–guilt by association–but it eventually helped Obama. Things were unsettled for several weeks but then Obama gave his famed speech on race relations, which calmed things down and he went on to win the nomination. By the time the McCain campaign re-raised the …

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[14 Apr 2015 | No Comment | ]

I was shocked–shocked–to learn Sunday that Hillary Clinton decided to run for president. Who could have imagined?
OK– there were rumors to that effect and I may even have opined on some.
The very first column I wrote for the Chicago Daily Observer, back in mid-2007, she was running for president against a field of senators including an African American guy with a funny name.

I was not exactly wild about the former first lady turned senator from New York because she voted to get us into the Iraq war and refused to …

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[6 Apr 2015 | One Comment | ]

There is more than a bit of irony to the fact that the week-long run-up to two major religious holidays this past weekend, Easter and Passover, should be marked by debates about whether “freedom of religion ” legislation in Indiana and Arkansas is based on genuine belief or an excuse to discriminate.
As a secular or “cultural” Jew I admit I spend more time admiring great Christian churches in Europe, Buddhist temples is Southeast Asia and an occasional Islamic mosque than I do attending services in the synagogues of my ancestral …

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[24 Mar 2015 | One Comment | ]

I have long believed, and written several times, that Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not want and never wanted a Palestinian state–the basis of the so-call two-state solution for peace in what many call the Holy Land–though until the eve of the recent Israeli election, he always piously said he supported the idea. (Neither, to my reckoning does Hamas, so I have no illusions about Netanyahu being the sole obstacle.)

Then remarkably, apparently faltering in the polls, barely a day before the election he came straight out and said there …

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[17 Mar 2015 | No Comment | ]

The New York Post, always conservative, always sensational, published a front-page story this weekend accusing Barack Obama’s muse-in-chief Valerie Jarrett of leaking the story of Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal e-mail system while secretary of state–along with other supposedly White House-generated nastiness about Clinton.

The e-mail story itself has legs and will haunt Clinton until she comes fully clean, which she is reluctant to do. I doubt if it can prevent her from winning the Democratic nomination, but has the potential of damaging her in the general election, depending on …

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[9 Mar 2015 | No Comment | ]

The Richard M. Daley regime, by way of helping itself politically, unwittingly did the Rahm Emanuel campaign a favor by establishing a megaphone for pre-existing tensions between African Americans and Latinos. For good measure the Emanuel campaign is trying to reinvoke the old Black-Jewish civil rights alliance, which has fractured through the years. Good old Chicago politics, racial convolutions within religious  conundrums.
The central fact is that Emanuel is in an historic runoff against a Mexican-American in an election where the African American vote plays a key role. Four years ago, …

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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 …