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Using police officers as revenue generators often invites distrust of them

Perhaps you haven’t noticed a certain commonality among many of the recent violent incidents involving police officers and racial minorities: The troubles often arose from enforcement or investigation of petty offenses. Yes, laws are laws, and even relatively piddling ordinances should be obeyed. But when enforcement of petty stuff falls inordinately on certain populations and is calculated mainly to generate revenues for the municipality, something is wrong. In  a broad review of this kind of thing for Mother Jones magazine, Jack Hitt...

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Think Congress will block the nuclear deal with Iran? That’s highly unlikely!

A friendly tip: If you can find a rabid Republican who’s willing to wager coin of the realm on the chances that Congress will block the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran, take the bet. And ask the sucker if he or she has any like-minded friends who want to make similar wagers. You see, lots of people apparently don’t understand the equation. Yes, majorities in both houses of the  Republican-controlled Congress are sure to vote against the deal. And some Democatic lawmakers will join with them. But that...

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Huckabee’s reckless rhetoric reflects Trump’s poisonous influence on the process

The equation here is rather simple: Donald Trump has shown in recent weeks that an upstart political candidate can dominate the news and attract followers simply by saying outrageous things. Other candidates soon follow suit, just to gain public notice — and the whole process suffers as a result. We saw this cause-and-effect starkly illustrated the other day with Mike Huckabee’s mindless imitation of Trump’s scurrilous rhetoric. Trump drew widespread notice with his ridiculous generalization that Mexican immigrants to the...

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Lots of Republican kooks still think that Obama is not a real American

One of the more pathetic aspects of Mitt Romney’s effort to deny Barack Obama a second term in the White House a few years ago was the extent to which he or his surrogates portrayed the president as the dreaded “Other,” a “foreign” interloper who’s not really American. “I don’t think he understands America,” Romney said of Obama at one point. “I wish this president would learn how to be an American,” said Romney campaign chairman John Sununu. Obama’s political philosophy “does not comport with the American experience,” Romney said in a...

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Pretty soon, you’ll likely hear lots more talk that Donald Trump is a Democratic plant

So far, my record of predictions regarding Donald Trump is pretty poor. I said he would never actually announce his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination, but he did. Then I said he wouldn’t file the candidacy paperwork, but he did. Then I said he wouldn’t make the financial disclosures, but he did. Well, now I’ve got another Trump prediction: I think we will soon hear a major outcry that he’s just a troublemaker planted by the Democrats to make the Republicans look like fools. There has already been...

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The lies global-warming deniers tell themselves are real whoppers

  In the seven-plus years that I’ve been writing in this space about global warming and climate change, I’ve occasionally mentioned that there are certain cultural aspects to the denialism advanced by some people. Devoutly religious deniers, for example, don’t want to think that God would allow great harm to come to our planet. Sen. James Inhofe, the Oklahoma Republican, is one of these people. Some folks simply have a fundamental disdain for the smarty-pants scientists who are warning us of impending environmental...

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Here’s why Donald Trump appeals mostly to people of little political sophistication

A list of synonyms for “sophisticated” includes these words: knowledgeable, aware, practical, educated and experienced. These are not words that apply to people who want simple answers to complicated problems. They are not words that apply to people who think Donald Trump makes a lot of sense. Trump’s political rhetoric consists mainly of streams of consciousness adding up to ridiculous simplisms. He promises to be a president who simply tells everyone what to do — the Mexicans, the Chinese, whomever. There is no...

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Gallup: Favorable view of pope declines among Americans, especially conservatives

In advance of a September visit to America by Pope Francis, the Gallup organization is reporting that the pontiff’s favorability ratings have declined in this country. The drop is especially precipitous among American conservatives, whose favorable views of Francis have dropped by 27 percentage points since last year. Still, Francis’ overall favorable rating of 59 percent is far better than that for his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI in a poll taken five years ago. HERE‘s what the Gallup report says: After Pope Francis was...

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Des Moines newspaper’s call for Donald Trump to abandon his candidacy is ridiculous

Let’s stipulate from the outset here that Donald Trump’s chances of winning the Republican presidential nomination are exceedingly slim, and his prospects for actually taking up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue simply don’t exist. The American electorate is not that crazy. But let’s not pretend that Trump’s candidacy serves no useful purpose. On the contrary, The Donald’s bid for the presidency is good for the nation on several counts. Mainly, it points up all the flaws and charms and fun of the entire...

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Even this most dire climate forecast ever won’t likely convince the die-hard deniers

Regular readers of this blog are aware that I follow the issue of climate change rather closely, as evidenced by my numerous posts debunking the nonsense peddled by people predisposed to casting doubt on scientific consensus. It’s not mere coincidence, I should note, that there’s a distinct overlap of global-warming deniers and those who reject Darwinian theories of evolution. Indeed, the attitudes among some people on both matters is largely based on religious zeal. The long record of stubbornness on the part of these folks...

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How in the world can Obama be blamed for the tragedy in Chattanooga?

From time to time, I surf through the right-wing blogosphere just to see what’s on the minds of people of that ilk — especially the generally overwrought folks who post comments on their favorite websites. Yesterday was the latest such occasion, and the timing could hardly have been more propitious. It was soon after the tragedy in Chattanooga, Tenn., where four U.S. Marines were shot and killed by a young man who turns out to have been a Muslim. The wingnuts were in especially high dudgeon. I expected, of course, that lots of the...

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Does Illinois Republican Mark Kirk think ugly rhetoric will save his Senate seat?

The consensus among political pundits these days is that Sen. Mark Kirk, the Illinois Republican, likely will lose his re-election bid next year to Democrat Tammy Duckworth, a disabled veteran of the war in Iraq. It should come as no surprise, then, that Kirk would seize every effort to attract the attention of the voting public. But his strategy in that regard went way too far the other day when he resorted to shockingly reckless rhetoric in condemning the Obama administration’s agreement with Iran on the issue of nuclear weapons. In a...

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