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Gallup: Obama’s approval-disapproval numbers virtually even

Here’s something you won’t hear much about from the right-wing noise machine: President Obama’s job-approval rating hit a seven-month high over the weekend in the latest Gallup Daily Tracking poll. The two-point difference to the negative side in the approval-disapproval rating was within the poll’s margin of error. Obama apparently got a boost from his recent initiatives on immigration reform and normalization of U..S. relations with Cuba. At this point in George W. Bush’s second term, his approval rating stood...

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Big surprise! John McCain is war-mongering again!

It seems that every week or so,  Republican Sen. John McCain is calling for American boots on the ground or bombers in the air in some trouble spot or another somewhere in the world. This time it’s North Korea. McCain scoffs at President Obama’s characterization of North Korea’s hacking of Sony Pictures’ computers as merely “an act of cybervandalism.” Rather, he says it’s an outright “act of war” to which “we need to react vigorously.” Any day now, McCain likely will call for...

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Here’s why I wish certain people “Happy Holidays”

If  I know that a person is a self-appointed guardian of Christmas orthodoxy, I make a point of wishing them “Happy Holidays” — just to annoy them. On the whole, however, I probably say “Merry Christmas” more often than “Happy Holidays.” You see, it’s only the self-righteous quibblers on this matter who deserve to be annoyed — people who buy into that Fox News nonsense about a “War on Christmas.” There are millions of Americans who aren’t Christians (or aren’t...

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Can someone please answer this simple question?

Why are most of the politicians who cite human-rights issues as the reason for their opposition to improvement in our relationship with Cuba the same people who say they’re not bothered by the human-rights abuses itemized in the Senate committee report on torture?

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Colbert’s otherwise lame finale rescued by glee club of celebrities

Political satirist Stephen Colbert ended his nine-year run as a pseudo-right-winger on Comedy Central last night with a show that was surprisingly uninspired in the first half but a triumph in the end when a huge group of celebrities joined him on-stage for a farewell song. The number was “We’ll Meet Again,” a song made famous by British singer Vera Lynn during World War II. The singers on Colbert’s stage were: Jon Stewart, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, James Franco, Katie Couric, Michael Stipe, J.J. Abrams, Mandy...

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Obama will negate much of the embargo against Cuba on his own

Congressional Republicans have been arguing of late that President Obama has precious little authority of his own on most issues of governance — immigration, for example. Most GOP lawmakers theorize that there isn’t much the president can do without explicit directions from Congress. And now that argument likely will be put to another test with regard to changing relations between the United States and Cuba. HERE‘s the situation: President Obama will move as soon as next month to defang the 54-year-old American trade embargo...

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Here’s why so many conservatives say Obama is a Muslim

If you’ve ever wondered why your crazy Uncle Fred from Cedar Rapids keeps sending you emails claiming that Barack Obama is a Muslim, HERE‘s a plausible explanation: Conservatives who claim that Barack Obama is really a Muslim don’t actually think the president is a follower of Islam, according to religious scholar Reza Aslan. They are just using the label to “otherize” him. “Islam has become the by-word for whatever is foreign and exotic, whatever is fearful, whatever is strange and unfamiliar,” the University of California,...

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Marco Rubio says he doesn’t care if he doesn’t speak for most Cuban-Americans

Sen. Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican, is hopping mad at the Obama administration’s move toward normalization of U.S. relations with Cuba, and he says he doesn’t care who disagrees with him — even if they’re Cuban-Americans. When it was pointed out to Rubio yesterday that two-thirds of Cuban-Americans support diplomatic relations with Cuba, he responded with this: I don’t care if the polls say that 99 percent of people believe we should normalize relations in Cuba. I don’t care if 99 percent of people in polls...

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Don’t expect much of a backlash against Obama’s Cuba initiative

The announcement today that the Obama administration is moving to normalize relations between the United States and Cuba has triggered some squawking among right-wingers and U.S. lawmakers of Cuban descent. All in all, however, it seems unlikely that the complaints will swell to a big uproar. Antipathy toward Cuba among Americans has faded significantly in recent decades, as we see HERE: Nearly 15 years ago, President Bill Clinton authorized federal agents to return Elian Gonzalez, who had been rescued at sea and sent to live with relatives...

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With just two weeks left, it’s a cinch that 2014 will end up the hottest year on record

What we have here is bad news on two counts — or, putting it another way, it’s bad news and worse news. It’s bad news for the climate-change deniers who remain convinced that all this talk of global warming is just a bunch of pseudo-scientific hooey. It’s worse news for the people around the world who will have to deal with the consequences of an increasingly warm planet. John Abraham has more on the matter HERE: [A]ccording to those who deny the basic physics and our understanding of climate change, this year wasn’t...

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People I’ve heard of who died this year

The only names on this list are those that ring a bell with me. Thousands of people who were notable in their fields of endeavor, but unknown to me, have been excluded. I’ve also excluded personal acquaintances of mine and local luminaries so as to avoid the embarrassment of missing a few. In roughly chronological order of their passing, these are the people I at least vaguely remember from the world at large: Juanita Moore, actress. Phil Everly, singer. Saul Zaentz, film producer. Jerry Coleman, baseball player and broadcaster. Larry...

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Cheney’s claim that the U.S. didn’t prosecute Japanese for waterboarding is false

Dick Cheney, a torture enthusiast if there ever was one, told Chuck Todd of  “Meet The Press” the other day that the United States did not prosecute Japanese soldiers for waterboarding American prisoners of war. But, of course, in this matter as in so many others, Cheney is flat-out wrong. As we see HERE, the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, , which lasted from April 29, 1946 to Nov. 12, 1948, classified waterboarding as torture — and the United States actively prosecuted Japanese soldiers who resorted to...

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