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What will wingnuts do now that Obama is gone?

  Today’s transfer of power in the White House is fraught with ironies, not the least of which is that polls show that the outgoing president is much more popular than the new guy. More to the point, the departure of Barack Obama deprives the right-wing crazies, a noisy minority, of the principal target of their political invective. The time has passed for Obama to do all the evil deeds the wackos have long predicted. He wasn’t born in Africa. He’s not a Muslim.  He didn’t seize everyone’s guns. He...

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Polls that aren’t rigged can still be worthless

  In a post published here the other day, I faulted Donald Trump for whining that polls that produce results  that don’t favor him are “rigged.” I argued that The Donald apparently doesn’t understand the scientific efforts that go into reliable polling. Well, today I’m here to concede that some polls — too many of them, actually — are unscientific and consequently are worthless. These polls aren’t rigged, at least not in the sense that Trump implies, but they’re highly misleading....

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The future of religion in America is increasingly murky

  If we Americans bother every once in a while to take a serious look at how our society is profoundly changing from what it used to be, we’re often surprised at what we find. Take religion, for example. The long-held stereotypes of religious people in this country simply don’t apply any more. Daniel Cox, research director at the Public Religion Research Institute, wrote this last summer on the website FiveThirtyEight.com.: “The U.S. was once a predominantly white Christian country, but fewer than half of Americans (45...

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Donald Trump doesn’t understand the science of polling

President-elect Donald Trump’s says that polls showing his approval ratings at historically low levels as his inauguration draws near should be taken with a big grain of salt. . “The same people who did the phony election polls, and were so wrong, are now doing approval rating polls, Trump said today. “They are rigged just like before.” . The problem with that analysis is that there’s little or no evidence to support it. Trump, like so many other Americans, simply doesn’t understand the science of polling....

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Interesting inaugural firsts

  The following is a list of inaugural firsts culled from material obtained from the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies: In 1793 in Philadelphia, George Washington delivers what remains to this day the shortest inaugural address – 135 words. In 1801, Thomas Jefferson became the first president inaugurated in Washington D.C. In 1809, James Madison held the first inaugural ball. Tickets were $4. In 1825, John Quincy Adams became the first president to wear long pants, instead of knee breeches, for his swearing-in. In...

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Obama has less than a week to take away our guns

  With only a few days left in Barack Obama’s presidency, one wonders if the paranoid bed-wetters at the National Rifle Association are still afraid that the jack-booted thugs in his employ will soon descend upon our homes to seize all our firearms. Indeed, one wonders why anyone ever had any such fears. Never once did Obama ever propose a blanket ban on guns. Most of the measures he’s advocated — stronger background checks for firearms purchases, for example — are supported by a majority of Americans.  But Wayne...

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Obama’s first Inaugural Address

  For purposes of comparison to what Donald Trump will say at his inauguration next Friday, here’s the text of Barack Obama’s address on the first day of his presidency back in 2009. My fellow citizens: I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition. Forty-four Americans have now taken the...

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Trump makes Obama look truly great

  In my book, Barack Obama has been a pretty good president, especially considering the obstacles placed in his way by shameless Republicans in Congress and by right-wing kooks in the underbelly of the Internet. But Obama is downright great when you compare him to his immediate successor, Donald John Trump. Granted, Trump has not yet taken office, but when he finally takes the oath next week, his lack of popularity will be worse than any other newly elected president in American history. Meanwhile, Obama leaves office on a wave of pretty...

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U.S. murder rate was higher when Ronald Reagan was president

  It won’t be until later this year that the federal government releases its official statistics on murder in America during 2016, but we already know enough to dispel certain popular myths. We’ve all heard, for example, that homicides were frighteningly common in Chicago last year.  In reality, however, Chicago ranked 8th among U.S. big cities in its per capita murder rate, according to preliminary figures. In descending order of murders committed,  higher rates were recorded in St. Louis, Baltimore, Detroit, New Orleans,...

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Yes, let’s teach public school students about religion

  Having recently dissed Vice President-elect Mike Pence for suggesting that creationism should be taught in science classes in public schools, I should qualify my rejection of the idea. Creationism has no legitimate place in a science curriculum — except perhaps as an example of nonsense. But religion deserves a sharper focus in the classroom than it currently receives in public schools. Of course, valid history is going to touch upon the profound role of religion in the rise of virtually every civilization. American history alone...

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Mark my words: Trump is doomed

    My record in making predictions about Donald Trump’s political career is not an enviable one, I have to admit. I publicly said he wouldn’t run for president, but I was wrong. I also missed the mark in predicting that he wouldn’t win the Republican nomination, and I missed again when I said he would never defeat Hillary Clinton in the general election. But here’s where I redeem myself: The Donald is not going to serve a full four-year term in the White House. He’ll either be impeached or forced to...

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“Inherit The Wind”

  Vice President-elect Mike Pence recently suggested that the Bible be taught in science classes in public schools, which brought to mind this story: A colorful censorship controversy in the spring of 1963 drew national attention to Harlem High School  in the Rockford suburb of Loves Park when dramatics teacher Ruth Ann Johnston decided to stage a student production of “Inherit The Wind.” The play is a fictionalized treatment of the celebrated trial of John T. Scopes, a high school teacher in Dayton, Tenn., who was arrested...

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