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The curious overuse of the F-word

  It’s that time of year again when I’m obliged to register my annual complaint about a certain pet peeve — namely the odd penchant among people associated with the gridiron culture to use the word “football” seemingly six times in every sentence. I’ve been beefing about this for years now, and a search of the Internet shows that I’m not the only person annoyed by it. But the problem persists. Broadcasters, coaches, players and others involved in the sport have to remind themselves every few seconds that the game is called “football.”...

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Political partisans who scoff at polls usually are fools

  During a TV interview the other day, Larry J. Sabato, boss man of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia and publisher of the highly regarded Crystal Ball, offered an amusing anecdote. He said hardly a day goes by when he doesn’t receive scads of  letters and emails from people who seriously expect that Donald Trump will carry 49 or 50 states in the November election. These folks seem to think that polls indicating otherwise are rigged to overstate Hillary Clinton’s popularity among voters. In a similar vein,...

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Note to news media: False equivalence is not objective journalism

  Some years back, James Fallows of The Atlantic addressed what he called “the flawed understanding many journalists have of objectivity.” He wrote: The thinking is that pointing out that one political party is responsible for the Senate’s dysfunction would be taking sides, which would call their objectivity into question. The irony is, by pretending both sides are equally at fault for the dysfunction and refusing to report on the objective facts of the situation, they’re misleading readers and handing a huge advantage to one side....

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Global warming is stoppable — but not reversible

  Several  U.S. government agencies are reporting this week that July of 2016 — last month — was the hottest month on record since at least 1880. That makes 10 consecutive months of unparalleled global warming. One might argue, as more than a few scientists do, that the situation is a factor in the current flooding in the American South and forest fires in the American West, as well as other problems around the globe. It also raises questions addressed not long ago by Andy Skuce, a retired Canadian geoscience consultant,...

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Trump disaster likely will deepen GOP’s long-term crisis

  One of my favorite political proverbs, as I’ve noted on several occasions here, is that demography is destiny. Demography, if you don’t know, is defined as the statistical study of human populations. Political demography is the study of how certain population groups — whites, blacks, men, women, old people, young people, etc. — vote and otherwise react to political stimuli. Political scientists pay a lot of attention to demographics. It helps them assess the practicality of campaign strategies and forecast the...

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Too many Americans think they’re more patriotic than most other people

  American gymnast Gabby Douglas has been faulted by pseudo-patriotic phonies for failing to put her hand over her heart as she stood at attention the other day during the playing of her county’s national anthem at the Olympics in Rio. How predictable. Reliable pains in the derriere that they are, these self-appointed guardians of patriotic decorum can always be counted upon to assert themselves in such situations. They see it as a way to cast themselves as the truest and blueist of Americans. Fortunately for the rest of us, these...

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Remember when wingnuts didn’t want these Olympics held in Chicago?

  Like millions of other Americans and  people around the world, some of you readers probably are enjoying TV coverage of the current Summer Olympic Games in Rio.  But you may not remember when Chicago made an unsuccessful bid to host this year’s edition of this quadrennial sporting spectacle. In retrospect, I’m not especially disappointed  that Chicago lost out. The Olympics strike me as a somewhat risky investment of tons of money for any city to make, and I have my doubts that the Windy City would have ended up happy that...

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The rise of Donald Trump suggests that William F. Buckley is sorely missed

  While plowing through some old stuff the other day, I came across a blog post of mine from a few years ago on how the conservative movement has changed over the decades. It  got me thinking about how William F. Buckley, a conservative intellectual who died eight years ago at the age of 82, might have reacted to the dimwitted right-wing crap peddled these days by the anti-intellectual likes of Donald Trump. The centerpiece of my blog post was an excerpt from something Kathleen Geier wrote in The Washington Monthly. She said this: I...

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Right-wing hero Antonin Scalia said gun rights have limits

  Donald Trump’s campaign oratory this year has included occasional references to the Second Amendment and to the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia — but never in the same context. I’m guessing that Trump, like most of his ideological brethren, doesn’t really know much about Scalia’s full body of judicial work. My favorite example of this ignorance is the fact that Scalia cast the deciding vote in a 5-4 decision legalizing flag-burning as a form of free speech under the First Amendment. Right-wingers...

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Time is right to seal Trump’s image as a darling of dimwits

  The current situation in the presidential race in this second week of August brings to mind something nineteenth century British Prime Minister William Gladstone once said: “In politics, timing is everything.” Well, now is the time to paint an indelible portrait of Donald Trump as a favorite of America’s booboisie. Now is the time to make The Donald synonymous with a lack of political sophistication, with a loose grip on the realities of what makes the world go around, with a misunderstanding of the fundamentals of...

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Face it: You’ll be voting in November, even if you think you won’t

  Democracy doesn’t work exactly the way you may think it does. For example, if you think you have a right NOT to vote, you’re wrong. Everybody who’s old enough to vote does vote — one way or another. Follow me on this: Let’s say you’re Donald Trump, and you’re thinking about what it will take for you to be elected president in the November election. Well, the equation is rather simple. All you have to do is get more votes than Hillary Clinton gets. None of the other votes matter. The votes for...

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The race is Hillary’s to lose, which is Trump’s only chance

  One week after the convention season, a political pattern is emerging in the 2016 presidential race: Donald Trump is never going to win on the basis of his popularity, but Hillary Clinton could lose if her lack of popularity reaches critical mass. As things stand now, Hillary’s in pretty good shape, but I’m not quite ready to bet the farm on her chances.  It’s been a bad week for Trump, who is sinking in the polls among most voter blocs, the principal exception being lesser-educated white folks. But there’s...

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