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[26 Aug 2014 | No Comment | ]

If it hasn’t happened by the time you read this, do you have any doubt we soon will be bombing ISIS (aka ISIL, aka IS) sites in Syria? The real question is who will be our “partners” on the ground. Will we make a pact with the devil and ally with the murderous dictator Bashar al-Assad or find and arm some “good guys” who are against both Assad and ISIS? How about Turkey or an Arab state threatened by ISIS? Or will we expand our 800-plus trainers and advisers and …

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[19 Aug 2014 | No Comment | ]

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is sliding down that legendary slippery slope. A series of polls, including some sponsored by both daily newspapers, shows a steep decline in popularity since his overwhelming 2011 victory, placing his approval rating around 36 percent.
Numbers like that for an incumbent, even six months from the February 3 nonpartisan election, typically emit an aroma of defeat–especially an unrelieved decline with no hint of reversal. Earlier polls suggested that despite Emanuel’s $9 million warchest, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle could fling the former ballet dancer out …

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[13 Aug 2014 | No Comment | ]

As we all know, according to oft-quoted Republican officials and miscellaneous loudmouths, President Barack Obama can do nothing right–even when he’s doing exactly what the majority of Americans want him to do, such as avoid putting “boots on the ground” in the Middle East.  Had he listened to  the Bombsey Twins, Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, we would now be at war around the globe. Not exactly what this war-weary nation wants.

Nothing brings this into sharper focus than the devastating putsch through parts of Syria and Iran by ISIS, …

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[4 Aug 2014 | One Comment | ]

ust as George W. Bush and Osama bin Ladin needed each other to reinforce their constituencies, so do Binyamin Netanyahu and Khaled Meshaal, the head of Hamas, need each other, but for a different reason: neither wants a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine dilemma.
With the lesser-known Meshaal, who lives exiled in Qatar, the issue is clearly stated: Hamas is dedicated to the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state. In a recent interview he rather coyly suggested he could live side-by-side with Christians and Jews, but only if they were …

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[29 Jul 2014 | No Comment | ]

As I’ve written time and again, the best-intentioned police officers find it difficult to impossible to gain the cooperation of minority communities in solving crimes because the people there often fear the police as much as the gangs. The neighborhoods also know the police have their own code of silence (the Outfit calls it “omerta”) wherein everyone from the mayor, chief of police and even the best cops protect the five or so percent of brutal or corrupt ones. Otherwise the torturing cop Jon Burge would have gone to the …

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[21 Jul 2014 | No Comment | ]

Not many weeks ago Vladimir Putin was being lauded as a strong and decisive leader by the least likely cast of characters—Richard Cheney, John McCain, Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the Obama hate-fest.  The ovations came not out of love for Putin, but to contrast him with the “weak” Barack Obama.
 
Obama, in his worst foreign policy failure, drew his infamous “red line” against Syria’s chemical weapons, some of which were used on Assad’s own people, and seemed poised to intervene forcefully. But he tossed the ball to …

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[15 Jul 2014 | No Comment | ]

Chicago’s toll of 82 shootings over the July 4 weekend, resulting in at least 17 deaths, made international news, reinforcing our reputation as the nation’s murder capital. It is even possible, as a Chicago Magazine investigation found recently, that the number of killings has been under-reported by reclassifying and even ignoring certain killings not due to gunfire.

Police Chief Garry McCarthy vigorously denies the charge and both he and Mayor Rahm Emanuel constantly point to the fact that despite the headline horrors, actual murders keep going down and the rate has …

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[7 Jul 2014 | No Comment | ]

George Packer’s brilliant, deeply disturbing “The Unwinding,” which won the 2013 National Book Award, tells a sad story about the past four decades in American life through a series of biographical sketches.

It describes, as a Guardian critic put it, “the coming apart of something in the national fabric: the unravelling of unspoken agreements about the limits to Wall Street’s greed; about what a congressman would or wouldn’t do for the right price; about what a company owes its workers, or what the wealthy should contribute in tax.”
I contemplated that during …

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[1 Jul 2014 | No Comment | ]

By some odd coincidence last Tuesday (June 24) hundreds of thousands—probably millions—of eyes were on Mississippi for one or both of two uniquely related events:

–Political junkies were watching the Republican runoff election results wherein teapartier Chris McDaniel seemed poised to knock off six-term incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran after one of the nastiest campaigns seen anywhere.
 
–Others with an interest in civil rights history were watching PBS’s exceptional two-hour American Experience episode documenting the amazing story of 1964’s “Freedom Summer” in the Magnolia State.
 
We know now that Cochran, the “establishment” underdog for …

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[24 Jun 2014 | No Comment | ]

Though both my feet are planted firmly on the left, political censorship is one thing that rankles me when it comes from either side of the political spectrum—even mine. Perhaps it’s the increasing polarization in our society reported in a recent Pew Poll, which showed a rising tendency of opposing sides to demonize each other, but it seems to me censorship in one form or another is escalating.
 

 
This season’s college commencement addresses, you will recall, featured a series of student protests based on the politics of the invited speakers on …