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Gorsuch won’t bring much change to high court

  A question: Once Neil Gorsuch takes his seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, how much different will that panel be from what it was a year ago? Answer: Probably not much. The high court likely will be pretty much the same as it was just before Justice Antonin Scalia died suddenly last winter. Gorsuch says he’s a devoted disciple of Scalia’s brand of interpreting law and dispending justice. So, why should he be expected to blaze new trails on the high court? Sure, I think it’s outrageous that this appointment has fallen to...

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Where do I sign up to become a Muslim?

  As an agnostic of long standing, I think most, if not all, religions are based on nonsense. Still, I’m strongly tempted to declare that I’m a Muslim — just to counter all the Islamaphobic bigots out there. The principal targets of my wrath in this regard are Donald Trump and all the dimwits who think he’s really going to “make America great again.” He and they make me almost pine for the loathsome Richard Nixon, who helped engineer the Republican Party’s “Southern strategy,” whereby...

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The fuss over one of Trump’s stunts obscures another Trump stunt

  As the public controversy over Donald Trump’s policy regarding travel to the United States by refugees and citizens from seven Muslim countries raged on today (Monday), nothing much was said yet about a new executive order requiring that for every new federal regulation of business that’s implemented, two must be rescinded. The president put it this way in a statement apparently addressed to Congress and bureaucrats: “If you have a regulation you want, number one, we’re not gonna approve it because it’s already been...

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Remember how the Terri Schiavo case hurt the Republican Party?

  Catholic TV channel EWTN’s  blanket coverage of today’s anti-abortion march in Washington included an interview with a man who invoked memories of the controversial Terri Schiavo case of 12 years ago, about which I’ve written on several previous occasions. Here’s my updated take on the matter: On March 31 of 2005,  a 41-year-old Florida woman named Terri Schiavo,  who had been lingering in a vegetative state for 15 years following a sudden illness, finally died. Thus ended a protracted legal and political battle...

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The history of gun control in America is not widely known

  During a recent random examination of the stuff standing in piles in in my otherwise fashionable apartment, I ran across a fascinating article about guns in America by Jill Lepore in a five-year-old edition of The New Yorker magazine. It read in part as follows: The United States is the country with the highest rate of civilian gun ownership in the world. (The second highest is Yemen, where the rate is nevertheless only half that of the U.S.) No civilian population is more powerfully armed. Most Americans do not, however, own guns,...

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Trump unwittingly comes up with a good idea

  The best thing Donald Trump has done in the first week of his presidency — even if it won’t accrue to his political benefit in the long run — is propose a formal investigation of his claim that millions of votes in the November election were cast fraudulently. It’s such a good idea that it should be applied to all of the crazy stuff he’s said along the political trail. Congress should establish a subsidiary of the FBI dedicated exclusively to investigating debatable arguments advanced by...

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Has Trump’s egotism reached the point of insanity?

  In the wake of a piece about President Trump I posted here yesterday, I was going to devote today’s outing to some other subject — but I can’t. The Donald’s latest unfounded rant about how he supposedly was cheated out of millions of popular votes in the November election demands my immediate rebuttal. Trump won the election of 11 weeks ago today with 306 electoral votes. But Hillary Clinton got 2.8 million more popular votes than Trump received. That’s the largest such margin for a second-place finisher...

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Regarding Trump’s strangely contradictory tweets

  Donald Trump’s first full day as president was a clumsy political disaster. And on the following day, his Twitter account was somehow hijacked by someone who’s reasonable — or he experienced a miraculous epiphany. Follow along here. This is quite a story: On a visit to CIA headquarters on Saturday, the ever-egotistical Trump stood in front of a memorial to intelligence agents who have died in the line of the duty and inappropriately complained that the media have underestimated the size of the crowds at his inaugural...

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What will wingnuts do now that Obama is gone?

  Today’s transfer of power in the White House is fraught with ironies, not the least of which is that polls show that the outgoing president is much more popular than the new guy. More to the point, the departure of Barack Obama deprives the right-wing crazies, a noisy minority, of the principal target of their political invective. The time has passed for Obama to do all the evil deeds the wackos have long predicted. He wasn’t born in Africa. He’s not a Muslim.  He didn’t seize everyone’s guns. He...

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Polls that aren’t rigged can still be worthless

  In a post published here the other day, I faulted Donald Trump for whining that polls that produce results  that don’t favor him are “rigged.” I argued that The Donald apparently doesn’t understand the scientific efforts that go into reliable polling. Well, today I’m here to concede that some polls — too many of them, actually — are unscientific and consequently are worthless. These polls aren’t rigged, at least not in the sense that Trump implies, but they’re highly misleading....

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The future of religion in America is increasingly murky

  If we Americans bother every once in a while to take a serious look at how our society is profoundly changing from what it used to be, we’re often surprised at what we find. Take religion, for example. The long-held stereotypes of religious people in this country simply don’t apply any more. Daniel Cox, research director at the Public Religion Research Institute, wrote this last summer on the website FiveThirtyEight.com.: “The U.S. was once a predominantly white Christian country, but fewer than half of Americans (45...

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Donald Trump doesn’t understand the science of polling

President-elect Donald Trump’s says that polls showing his approval ratings at historically low levels as his inauguration draws near should be taken with a big grain of salt. . “The same people who did the phony election polls, and were so wrong, are now doing approval rating polls, Trump said today. “They are rigged just like before.” . The problem with that analysis is that there’s little or no evidence to support it. Trump, like so many other Americans, simply doesn’t understand the science of polling....

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