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Sarah Palin’s vow to help chase Paul Ryan from office is politically foolish

  As my writings over the years clearly indicate, I’m no big fan of  U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican from up the road in Janesville who currently serves as speaker of the House. But neither am I so obtuse as to deny that Ryan’s intellect and political acumen are vastly superior to those of Sarah Palin. You may have heard that Palin is quite upset with Ryan for declaring the other day that he’s not yet ready to endorse the candidacy of Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president. Indeed, Palin is...

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Call me a Cub fan, if you’d like, but don’t say I’m part of a fan base

  One of the pleasures of geezerhood, I’m discovering, is the ever-increasing penchant for shouting at the TV when someone says something stupid. Consider, for example, my reaction to a panel discussion on one of the sports channels the other day. The subject was the great success of the Chicago Cubs so far this season. And each of the four participants in the chat found cause to mention the glee in the Cubs “fan base.” My reaction was to blurt this: “We’re fans, you moron! Don’t call us the fan...

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Trump tries to play on unreasonable fears among gun enthusiasts

  One of the great ironies of American culture is that many of the self-styled tough guys who parrot the rhetoric of the National Rifle Association actually are nervous nellies who believe virtually all of the conspiratorial nonsense about plots to take away guns. For example, all through Barack Obama’s tenure as president, the scaredy-cats have bought into every ridiculous warning that the man in the White House spends his every waking hour on plans to send out an army of jack-booted thugs to seize  everyone’s firearms. It...

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All government spending is redistribution of wealth

  As the end of Barack Obama’s presidency draws ever nearer, I’ve been combing through some of the idiotic right-wing criticisms aimed at him over the past seven-plus years. One of the most stupid of these, which I’ve mentioned here on previous occasions, has been the persistent claim that he has advocated redistribution of the wealth. How dumb can you get? All public officials who have anything to say about the spending of public funds are participating in redistribution of the wealth. Indeed, virtually every...

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Republican politicians tend to avoid the dreaded C-word at all costs

  If there’s a school for potential Republican candidates for public office, I’m sure the first lesson they’re taught is that the word “compromise” is almost always a no-no. The right-wing extremists who rule the roost in the GOP these days seem to hate the C-word with the white-hot intensity of a million suns. Never mind that our nation was founded on compromise. Never mind that the U.S. Constitution is the product of compromise. Never mind that government at all levels in this country — federal,...

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The modern-day Senate filibuster would offend the Founding Fathers

  Millions of Americans are familiar, no doubt, with the image of  actor Jimmy Stewart waging a Senate filibuster in the celebrated 1939 movie “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” That kind of thing wouldn’t happen these days. A filibuster no longer requires a senator to hold the floor to prevent a vote on a controversial piece of legislation. Indeed, the modern filibuster requires little more than a simple declaration by a minority of senators that they don’t want a certain legislative proposal to gain passage with...

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Phony Lincoln quotations never go away

  On numerous occasions over the years, I’ve had to correct efforts by conservatives to make some point or another by wrongly attributing quotations to Abraham Lincoln, the greatest of our American presidents. Perhaps the most popular of these phony quotations is something called “Lincoln’s Ten Cannots.” It reads as follows: You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot help small men by tearing down big men. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot lift the wage earner by...

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Let’s not ever forget the greatness of Jane Addams

  The recent decision to replace the mug of the somewhat disreputable Andrew Jackson with a likeness of abolitionist Harriet Tubman on the front side of the $20 bill was a good one, to be sure. But I was surprised that the prior discussion of the matter didn’t include wider consideration of Nobel laureate Jane Addams for the honor. In my book, and in the opinion of more than a few historians, Addams was no less than the greatest woman in American history. A social reformer, educator, author, lecturer, feminist, pacifist, political...

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Peggy Noonan says Donald Trump’s greatest strength is his devout patriotism

  There was a time four or five years ago when I took great pleasure in occasionally poking fun at Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan, who frequently substitutes the vibes she’s feeling for analysis of any hard political facts. She wrote, for example, on the eve of the 2012 presidential election that her magic vibes were telling her that the suddenly chirpy Mitt Romney would vanquish the relatively dour Barack Obama at the ballot box. Of course, it didn’t turn out that way, but Noonan never followed up with an...

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There aren’t enough ill-informed white men in America to make Trump president

  In early March, I wrote this about the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination: “The Donald is not going to become president. No way. No how. Never. Ever. “This isn’t just wishful thinking. Rather, it’s based on one simple political fact of life: The nominee of a sharply divided political party never gets elected president.” That was in late winter. It’s springtime now, and the Republican Party remains sharply divided, despite recent signs that some GOP politicians seem to have resigned...

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Let’s be clear about the crime for which Dennis Hastert has been sentenced to prison

  A federal judge in Chicago sentenced former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, an admitted child molester, to 15 months in prison this morning — and already there’s a widespread outcry that the punishment is far too soft for such a grievous offense. Apparently, much of the public is confused about this matter. Yes, Hastert has admitted taking sexual liberties with boys while he was wrestling coach at Yorkville (Ill.) high school decades ago. And yes, Judge Thomas M. Durkin referred to Hastert as “a serial child...

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Admit it, political correctness has achieved a few welcome successes

  Say what you will about political correctness, but it’s not as bad as some conservatives pretend it is. Sure, so-called speech codes on college campuses sometimes are ridiculous or run counter to the mission of higher education. But in bucking these excesses, let’s not throw out the proverbial baby with the bath water. Properly understood, political correctness often is subtle and unofficial. It usually represents just a gradual change in public morals. To wit, as consciousness is raised with respect to women and...

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