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[24 Nov 2015 | No Comment | ]

Pundits and pols have been writing the political obituaries of “outsiders” Donald Trump and Ben Carson ever since they began leading national polls this summer. I have not been one of them, but I currently believe Carson is slipping, though it’s possible he can carry Iowa and some Evangelical-dominated southern states.
People love his religiosity, but now that national security has come to the fore, his clumsy, incoherent ignorance of foreign affairs must be apparent to his most pious admirers. It was made glaringly worse last week when a couple of …

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[17 Nov 2015 | One Comment | ]

Forget for a moment that the last Republican debates exposed frontrunner Ben Carson as clueless on international affairs and the economy. He recently claimed without any verification that China is engaged in Middle East combat. An earlier debate moderator demonstrated that his tax reform numbers didn’t add up–they would add trillions to our debt. “The numbers are correct,” he asserted–stopping just short of saying “because I said so.”
Let’s also suspend disbelief and agree he actually tried to attack his mother with a hammer and stab a relative in the belly …

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[12 Nov 2015 | No Comment | ]

Talk about stores prepping for Christmas early, we are a year from the 2016 presidential election and 4 months from the Iowa Caucuses and New Hampshire primary yet we’re bombarded hourly with “breaking news” about polls and debates. The two are linked, especially for Republicans, because those who get to appear on the prime-time “debates” are those who show the best numbers in an average of often unidentified polls with varying records of accuracy.

Okay, politics is entertainment–most successful candidates know that–but we ought to get a few things straight in …

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[3 Nov 2015 | No Comment | ]

After a mere seven years Barack Obama finally wakened to some of the problems of the glut of high-stakes, standardized testing (about 112 tests per K-12 pupil) that has plagued school kids and teachers for decades.
“Learning is about so much more than filling in the right bubble,” he said last week in a pivot timed to the departure of his basketball buddy Arne Duncan as US Secretary of Education–a position he should never have held.

I have written time and again that standardized tests in English and math as primary measurements …

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[27 Oct 2015 | One Comment | ]

Next March’s Democratic primary election gives voters a chance to rid Cook County of one of its worst public officials, State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez–the least savory county prosecutor since the vile Edward V. Hanrahan 45 ago. (The Democratic primary winner here almost automatically wins in November.)
Alvarez, a surprise winner in 2008, coasted to re-election in 2012 but this year lost the backing of the Democratic Central Committee, which stayed neutral. Her main opposition is Kim Foxx, a reform-minded, 16-year veteran of the state’s attorney’s office who served as chief of …

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[20 Oct 2015 | 5 Comments | ]

First we should recognize that whoever came up with the socio-political term “pro-life” was brilliant. Even those of us who support a woman’s right to choose certainly would not want to be considered “anti-life,”  or coldly “pro-abortion,” so we wound up with the term “pro-choice,” which does not have half the emotional impact. Score one for those who are still fighting Roe v. Wade.
Stick with me–I am not going to reargue the issue of abortion. I want to consider the full meaning and extent of being pro-life–an issue that lasts …

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[16 Oct 2015 | No Comment | ]

I am pleased and proud to announce that my column for the Chicago Daily Observer has once again been honoredby the Chicago Journalists Association as the best blog for 2015. The column previously has won CJA awards forcommentary in 2010 and 2014. A series of awards in other journalistic areas will also be presented.The ceremony will be held this coming Friday, October 16 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Chicago’s West Loop.

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[13 Oct 2015 | No Comment | ]

A well known retired political reporter occasionally seeks out my thoughts on issues or poses questions to pick a fight  or match wits. Today I’ll respond to a few  of his pertinent questions:

Q: It would be interesting to read any thoughts you have on whether  changes in the news media  and advertising have affected  presidential campaigns.
A: Clearly the fragmentation of TV into multiple cable channels, some devoted almost solely to politics and the 24-hour news cycle  has changed the game radically. There are no  more universal facts or truths, only …

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[6 Oct 2015 | 2 Comments | ]

The angry revolt in the Republican presidential primary contest, pitting unelected “outsiders” against “establishment” candidates such as Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee and Marco Rubio–all current or former elected officials– is made doubly unpredictable by the bizarre, complex GOP delegate selection process.
The “outsiders,” Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson, cumulatively are leading with half the vote.
Despite rumors–or hopes–to the contrary, Trump can still win the 1235 delegates needed for nomination, but so too can Rubio, the only “establishment” official polling in double digits–or Bush, Kasich and …

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[28 Sep 2015 | 2 Comments | ]

I’ve been watching presidential races since 1948 and am coming to the conclusion that none has been as confounding as this one–on both sides.  It was so simple for so long: Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic nominee and Jeb Bush the Republican. I’ll bet even Donald Trump thought so. It still might wind up that way but with the conventions a year away it might be neither.
Let’s look at the Democrats first.
Everyone expected an all-out assault on Clinton even before we learned of her private e-mail server, which was …