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Let’s not ever forget the greatness of Jane Addams

  The recent decision to replace the mug of the somewhat disreputable Andrew Jackson with a likeness of abolitionist Harriet Tubman on the front side of the $20 bill was a good one, to be sure. But I was surprised that the prior discussion of the matter didn’t include wider consideration of Nobel laureate Jane Addams for the honor. In my book, and in the opinion of more than a few historians, Addams was no less than the greatest woman in American history. A social reformer, educator, author, lecturer, feminist, pacifist, political...

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Peggy Noonan says Donald Trump’s greatest strength is his devout patriotism

  There was a time four or five years ago when I took great pleasure in occasionally poking fun at Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan, who frequently substitutes the vibes she’s feeling for analysis of any hard political facts. She wrote, for example, on the eve of the 2012 presidential election that her magic vibes were telling her that the suddenly chirpy Mitt Romney would vanquish the relatively dour Barack Obama at the ballot box. Of course, it didn’t turn out that way, but Noonan never followed up with an...

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There aren’t enough ill-informed white men in America to make Trump president

  In early March, I wrote this about the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination: “The Donald is not going to become president. No way. No how. Never. Ever. “This isn’t just wishful thinking. Rather, it’s based on one simple political fact of life: The nominee of a sharply divided political party never gets elected president.” That was in late winter. It’s springtime now, and the Republican Party remains sharply divided, despite recent signs that some GOP politicians seem to have resigned...

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Let’s be clear about the crime for which Dennis Hastert has been sentenced to prison

  A federal judge in Chicago sentenced former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, an admitted child molester, to 15 months in prison this morning — and already there’s a widespread outcry that the punishment is far too soft for such a grievous offense. Apparently, much of the public is confused about this matter. Yes, Hastert has admitted taking sexual liberties with boys while he was wrestling coach at Yorkville (Ill.) high school decades ago. And yes, Judge Thomas M. Durkin referred to Hastert as “a serial child...

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Admit it, political correctness has achieved a few welcome successes

  Say what you will about political correctness, but it’s not as bad as some conservatives pretend it is. Sure, so-called speech codes on college campuses sometimes are ridiculous or run counter to the mission of higher education. But in bucking these excesses, let’s not throw out the proverbial baby with the bath water. Properly understood, political correctness often is subtle and unofficial. It usually represents just a gradual change in public morals. To wit, as consciousness is raised with respect to women and...

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Why do we put millions of Americans in jail just for being poor?

  Most of the time, we Americans proudly think of our country as one that’s based on an unparalleled sense of fairness and justice. But every once in a while, we come across evidence that such is not always the case. It has never previously to occurred to me, for example, that we’re putting millions of people behind bars every year simply because they can’t post the cash bail for arrests on minor offenses. I was a great admirer of Robert F. Kennedy back in the 1960s, but I somehow missed it when he said this about the...

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The rock ‘n’ roll generation is getting pretty old

  Media coverage of today’s death of musician Prince Rogers Nelson, commonly known simply as Prince, briefly took me by surprise. Every once in a while, I have to remind myself that virtually  everyone who’s younger than I has grown up with rock music as the soundtrack of their lives. I tend to forget that fact, perhaps because rock arrived on the cultural scene the same year I became a teenager and was dismissed by more than a few critics as a passing fad. I sometimes forget that rock was once just kids’ music —...

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Much of our world is ruled by laws of probability

  A conversation I had with a friend the other day about the science of political polling inevitably led to one of my favorite subjects — the laws of probability. Most people seem to be unaware of the extent to which laws of probability apply to the business world. The polling industry is just one example. Many other businesses, from gambling casinos to advertising to weather forecasting to who knows what else, consciously and willfully take into account the laws of probability. It’s a truly fascinating subject, as I’ve...

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Ted Cruz seems to think states should have a right to ban interracial marriage

The legality of interracial marriage in America is so widely taken for granted these days that most folks probably think that state laws against it were fairly commonplace only many, many years ago, during the worst times of segregation in our country.  But I’m old enough to remember when such laws prevailed in nearly half the states. It may surprise you to learn that 22 states had laws against interracial marriage when I graduated from high school. And 16 states still had such laws when I was 24 years old in 1967. That was the year...

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Even if only gradually, political loyalties in America are constantly shifting

When I was a kid more than half a century ago, states of the Deep South were still fiercely loyal to the Democratic Party. The region was widely known as the Solid South — solidly Democratic, despite the party’s gradual post-war shift toward the cause of civil rights. But, that was then, and this is now, as the old saying goes. The South has long since become a stronghold of conservative Republicanism, at least for the most part. There are many reasons for this shift, including the GOP’s so-called Southern Strategy of nearly...

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Democrats should prefer Trump over Cruz as the GOP nominee

  As things stand now, it seems likely that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic standard-bearer against Republican nominee Donald Trump in the November general election — and that’s the best possible scenario progressives can hope for. Trump would be better than Ted Cruz for Democratic prospects in several respects. He’s more widely hated than Cruz among Republicans, especially the establishment types. And he’d be a greater drag on the whole GOP ticket. In more than a few locales, down-ticket Republican...

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Democrats should prefer Trump over Cruz as the Republican nominee

As things stand now, it seems likely that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic standard-bearer against Republican nominee Donald Trump in the November general election — and that’s the best possible scenario progressives can hope for. Trump would be better than Ted Cruz for Democratic prospects in several respects. He’s more widely hated than Cruz among Republicans, especially the establishment types. And he’d be a greater drag on the whole GOP ticket. In more than a few locales, down-ticket Republican candidates are...

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