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Lessons we can learn from Bill Clinton’s impeachment

  The growing buzz about whether President Trump deserves to be impeached brings to mind a serial argument I had with a conservative friend of mine when Bill Clinton faced a somewhat similar crisis nearly 20 years ago. The big problem with this subject is that many Americans don’t understand the impeachment process. They liken it to a criminal trial, but it’s not the same thing — not by a long-shot. Clinton was impeached by the U.S. House on two counts, both of which stemmed from his scandalous sexual dalliance with...

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This guy wouldn’t hire people who used bad grammar

  Even in this age of the Internet in general and Google in particular, my lifelong habit of clipping articles that capture my fancy serves me well as I get older and my memory begins to fade. Google doesn’t help much when I don’t even remember that a particular column or article was something I wanted to save. A good example arose the other day when a casual search of my storehouse of good stuff led me to a piece in the Harvard Business Review  by Kyle Wiens, the boss man at several  online businesses, who refused to hire...

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The Bill of Rights still outranks the American flag

  It behooves me, I suppose, to stipulate at the outset here that I don’t approve of flag-desecration as a means of protest. But neither do I approve of laws against it. There are many examples of free expression with which I don’t agree, but it’s not for me — or anyone else, in most cases — to decide that the flag merits special protection. Here’s the story. At a street demonstration outside the Republican National Convention of 1984 in Dallas, a young man named Gregory Lee Johnson was arrested for...

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The future is not what it used to be

  The clever headline above is something I borrowed from the late French poet and philosopher Paul Valery — and it’s true. The future is never what it used to be. The future, by definition, is always ahead of us. When it gets here, it’s no longer the future. In that sense, the future — as a guess, educated or otherwise, of what lies ahead — is subject to change as it draws near. In 1980, a study report entitled “Global 2000,” commissioned by then-President Jimmy Carter and prepared under the...

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I was a fool to credit Trump with any common sense

  At about this time yesterday, I bucked the conventional political wisdom and boldly predicted here that President Trump would decide against pulling America out of the Paris accords on climate change. I was wrong — way wrong. Trump announced this afternoon that the U.S. would exit the Paris agreement and revealed, in effect, that the crazy likes of radical ideologue Steve Bannon now hold greater sway than ever in the administration. A few weeks ago, we had cause to hope that Bannon had been demoted to nothingburger duties, but...

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I predict that Trump won’t pull U.S. out of Paris accord on climate change

  As I write these words, it’s a little past 2 p.m. on Wednesday, May 31, 2017, and most of the major media are reporting that President Trump likely will make good this week on his campaign promise to withdraw the United States from an agreement among most of the world’s nations to cooperate in fighting against the effects of global warming. I disagree. If Trump was going to reject the Paris accord, he would have done it by now. He wouldn’t be stalling around. I think he’s just trying to create the impression...

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Sean Spicer burnishes his Repubican bona fides

  White House spokesman Sean Spicer returned today to his role as mouthpiece for the Trump administration and used the occasion to demonstrate his familiarity with the Republican Party’s book of bad grammar. Most Republicans, if you haven’t learned from my many previous rants on this subject, seem to have a profound distaste for using the formal name of America’s other major political party. To them, the noun “Democrat” is always used as an adjective. Accordingly, Spicer referred today to “Democrat...

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A memory of John F. Kennedy

On this 100th anniversary of the birth of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, it occurs to me that his presidency has mostly passed from a memory to a chapter in history. Most Americans living today don’t remember JFK. They’ve only read or heard about him or seen documentaries about him on television. Here’s an account of how some of the people of my adopted hometown learned of Kennedy’s death nearly 54 years ago: It was lunch hour in Rockford on a warm, rainy Friday in November. Marjorie Owens was watching “As the World...

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Is stupidity making a comeback in American politics?

  Eight years ago, somebody whose name I don’t recall wrote an essay in some publication or another about how the election of Barack Obama as president seemed to signal a pronounced turn away from anti-intellectualism in American politics. The piece made fun of the stupid things said and done by the likes of Republicans George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, Dan Quayle and other fools of their ilk. The author hopefully predicted that Obama’s presidency would open a new age of popular respect for brains among our national leaders. One...

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Whatever became of the Founding Fathers?

  Is it my imagination, or have today’s American politicians completely forgotten the nation’s Founding Fathers? I can’t remember the last time I heard a prominent Republican or Democrat invoke the thoughts — imaginary or otherwise — of the authors of the Constitution to justify some current political scheme. It used to be that barely a day would pass without somebody on the left or right expounding on what the Founding Fathers “intended” when they invented this republic. But we shouldn’t...

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Here’s the real minority crime problem

  The most frequent commenter among the regular readers of this blog made some predictable point or another the other day about black crime in America. But he, like so many other people of his ilk, seems oblivious of the real problem of minority crime in this society. It’s about time that the truth of the matter be laid bare: The problem of crime, violent or otherwise, is mostly the fault of our largest minority group —  men. Our failure to face this fact squarely, to deal with all of its implications and to seek gender-based...

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I have a love-hate relationship with air conditioning

  The month of June arrives next week, signaling the approach of summer and warmer weather,  about which I have mixed feelings. You see, I have a problem with air conditioning. Let me explain. I went to an afternoon party a few years ago at the lovely home of a solidly middle-class couple who seemed oblivious to the increasingly uncomfortable temperatures of the day. “Is their AC on the fritz?” I asked a friend. “It’s not like they can’t afford it.” They didn’t have  air conditioning, I was told....

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