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Uh-oh! I’m becoming a dotard!

  How likely is it that a celebrated man of words like me could learn a valuable vocabulary lesson from a certifiable whack-job like Kim Jong Un, the weird manchild in North Korea who doesn’t even speak English? Well, that’s exactly what happened this week during a war of words between Kim and his rival nutcase in America, Donald Trump. In one of Kim’s nasty exchanges with Trump the other day, he asserted — or rather, his translators asserted — that the American president is a “dotard.”...

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Is football doomed?

  The question in the headline above is perhaps overstated. Football does not currently face actual extinction, but there’s plenty of evidence that it’s in decline of late in terms of attendance, TV ratings and, most importantly, participation. And let’s not have it said that the controversy over conspicuous protests staged by Colin Kaepernick and certain other players during the playing of the National Anthem is a major factor in the fall-off of public interest in football. Dismay with Kaepernick’s actions has...

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Lest we forget that Obama inherited huge problems

  It was only eight months ago today that Barack Obama’s two-term stint as president came to an end, but most folks probably sense that much more time has passed since that change-of-the guard took place. The principal reason that Obama seems to have been gone from office a longer time is that his successor, Donald Trump, is such a colorful and unpredictable man and has thus become a huge media attraction. I haven’t researched the statistics, but I would bet the farm that Trump’s campaign and the early months of his...

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Relax! Trump won’t nuke North Korea, unless…

    President Trump created quite a stir this morning when he threatened, in a speech at the United Nations, to destroy North Korea if it doesn’t cease and desist with its nuclear saber-rattling. The big surprise is that anyone seriously gave credence to this rhetoric. Let’s get real here, folks. Unless Trump and the military brass-hats who advise him have taken complete leave of their senses, there is no way in hell that the United States would pre-emptively nuke North Korea. That would constitute the murder of tens of...

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A most eventful year

  If, like me, you’re a history buff, prepare yourself for the coming media orgy commemorating the 50th anniversary of one of the most eventful years in modern American history — 1968. The television networks and book publishers no doubt are busy these days preparing retrospectives on the happenings of that year — a feast I keenly anticipate, especially from my perspective as a person who experienced much of it, in one way or another. I was a political activist in my mid-20s in those days, which made me, even...

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A politician’s “base” is not necessarily an admirable thing

    During last year’s presidential campaign, Donald Trump unwittingly made an especially insightful comment about the people who comprised his political base. “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody,” he said, “and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” Trump supporters with an ounce of intelligence, if there were any such people, should have been offended by the candidate’s remark, but no backlash arose among his staunchest fans. Rather, his base mostly seemed flattered. In...

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Why are so many Republicans skeptical of science?

  “All people are born alike – except Republicans and Democrats.”  — Groucho Marx. In the 50-plus years I’ve been writing about politics, I’ve never found a completely satisfying answer to the question posed in the headline above. I’ve even read scholarly academic articles, including one from the National Institutes of Health bearing the unwelcoming title:  “The Automatic Conservative: Ideology-Based Attentional Asymmetries in the Processing of Valenced Information.” But all  I got from that...

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A belated birthday greeting

    Further evidence that my memory is fading with old age emerged today when I came across a note to myself that I should write something about the great Jane Addams when her 153rd birthday rolls around on Sept. 6. But, of course, Sept. 6 was last Wednesday. Oh, well, I don’t need any special occasion to sing the praises of Jane Addams. I’ve done it on numerous occasions, as regular readers of this blog may recall. Still, I’ve been amazed over the years at how little Rockford has done to celebrate the legacy of...

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1 trillion is a far bigger number than you realize

      Big numbers get bandied about so casually these days — thousands, millions, billions, trillions — that we tend to lose a sense of their true meaning. They all seem to blur together as if the differences among them are almost negligible. Almost nobody, for example, seems to have been terribly surprised at President Trump’s stated desire to spend a trillion dollars to rebuild America’s infrastructure. A trillion dollars!  That’s a lot of money,  but big numbers don’t shock us as much...

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Does Irma embarrass climate-change deniers?

  At this writing, much of the state of Florida is bracing for a direct hit this weekend by Hurricane Irma, which raises a few interesting questions: What do the inveterate deniers of climate science think of all this talk of doom and gloom? How will these skeptics explain away the havoc Irma is expected to visit upon the Sunshine State? Is Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who ordinarily is a skeptic when it comes to climate alarmism, going to apologize for his previous senselessness? Why should residents of Scott’s state heed his warnings...

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Here’s why evening newscasts are so depressing

  For virtually all of my adult life, I’ve been a regular viewer of early evening newscasts on ABC, CBS or NBC, and I’ve discovered in recent years that the commercials on these programs generally are more depressing than the news. I’ve lived alone for years now, leaving me free to switch among the TV channels all I want, which I regularly do during the news programs airing at 5:30 p.m. here in the Central Time Zone. I flip around a lot on the chance that one of the networks will feature a worthy news story that...

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Percentage of white Christians in America is declining

  If you get the impression that America is not what it used to be, you’re correct to an extent that probably would surprise you. USA Today, in a report on a new study, says this: White Christians accounted for 80% of the U.S. population when Jimmy Carter was president; that number had dropped to 54% by 2006, and white Christians now make up only 43% of the U.S. population, as the number of people unaffiliated with any religion has swelled. Wow! Those numbers are shocking even to me, and I pride myself as one who usually pays a lot...

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