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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 …

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[17 Jun 2015 | No Comment | ]

Much of the world now knows of the verbal combat between filmmaker Spike Lee and Mayor Rahm Emanuel and a couple of aldermen because Lee’s forthcoming film to be shot here is called “Chiraq.”
The portmanteau was not coined by Lee but by local rappers several years ago during the rise in gun violence that made our city’s name a punchline. Consider: more than 10,000 shootings and some 650 murders in the past four years under Emanuel’s reign. In absolute numbers, we are the murder capital of the nation, though not …

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[8 Jun 2015 | 3 Comments | ]

You can’t open a paper in this state without at least one story on our financial mess and one on the epic King Kong vs. Godzilla political struggle between new Republican Governor Bruce Rauner and the Democratic Speaker of the House Michael Madigan/ Senate President John Cullerton, both of whom have veto-proof majorities.
The state is in a deep financial hole. Rauner blames it on the unions and thinks he can cut services enough to balance the budget. (That’s nuts.) The legislature however passed a budget with a multimillion-dollar deficit to …

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[1 Jun 2015 | No Comment | ]

The Republican National Committee hoped to avoid a multiplicity of presidential primary debates in the belief that what seemed an endless series of debates coupled with a wide range of weird banter helped discredit the party’s ultimate nominee in 2012. They have a good point: the debates gave months of fodder to Saturday Night Live, Jon Stewart, Bill Maher et al.

In reality, these group performances bear as much resemblance to actual debates as I do to the actual George Clooney. Nevertheless, debates they are called and the myth lives on.
This …

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[26 May 2015 | No Comment | ]

Next year’s race for the US Senate in Illinois promises to be one of the more unusual battles in many years. It’s already under way with incumbent Republican Mark Kirk running commercials a year and a half before the general election because he senses who his strongest Democratic opponent will be.

You could almost call Kirk’s commercial a shameless bid for sympathy were not both his situation and his likely opponent’s so tragic. Both candidates are physically challenged–with the Democrat’s not only more serious, but the result of war wounds. Kirk’s …