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Will your heart or your head determine your election prediction?

  As one who puts a lot of faith in reputable pre-election polls, I avoid predicting that the candidate I favor will win if the surveys generally suggest otherwise. Granted, my predictions in presidential elections have been wrong on certain occasions, but only when last-minute polls show a very close — unpredictable, as it were —  race. Amazingly, however, some celebrated political pundits don’t follow my advice in such matters. At least, that was the case four years ago when several conservative commentators ignored...

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Is Donald Trump a 9/11 Truther?

  Next Sunday is the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which brings to mind the  theories of some folks, lefties and righties alike, that the terrible events of that day were part of a U.S. government conspiracy. These people comprise what is known as the 9/11 Truther Movement, and they’re still around after all these years. No official explanation of what happened on Sept. 11 will dispel their suspicions that it was all part of a villainous plot hatched by fiendish American officials who wanted a good...

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What if Trump wins the popular vote but loses in the Electoral College?

  Recent polls in the presidential race suggest that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are running almost neck-and-neck in the popular vote, which makes it possible, but still highly unlikely, that we might end up with a situation similar to what happened in the election of 2000. If you’ll recall, Democrat Al Gore won the popular vote by a margin of more than a half-million in that election of 16 years ago but lost in the Electoral College when the U.S. Supreme Court declared, in effect, that George W. Bush carried the state of...

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America needs a different national anthem

  While the rest of you argue about the propriety, or lack of it, of professional footballer Colin Kaeperneck refusing to stand during the ceremonial rendering of “The Star Spangled Banner” at his team’s games, I’m here to raise a somewhat different issue: Our national anthem is an awful song and should be replaced. Oh, I know, I know. I’m inviting the wrath of the pseudo-patriots to whom dissing ”The Star-Spangled Banner” is tantamount to burning the American flag. But don’t misunderstand me. I’m all in favor of...

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Republicans’ sharp turn to the right threatens the environment

  If you’re not totally clueless, you’ve probably noticed an increase in political polarization in America in recent years. But do you fully understand the implications of this trend for the natural environment? It’s not a pretty picture. Evidence supporting mainstream scientific theories regarding climate change grows with every passing month, but so does denialism among the right-wing political elites. How can this be? An explanation is offered in a new research article authored by prominent academics Riley E. Dunlap,...

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What makes women more religious than men?

  A movie I saw many years ago included a scene in which a small-town character was asked if he regularly attends church. His reply: “The missus does the churching for both of us.” That film was set in the 1920s, but the line about the “missus” doing the “churching” still rings true decades later. We all know people like that, don’t we? The simple fact of the matter is that women generally are more religious than men and have been for a long time. Secular humanist Susan Jacoby once put it this...

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Competitive patriotism is bogus

  In light of the current fuss over the Colin Kaepernick matter, it behooves me to repeat some of the points I made in a post of two weeks ago in a slightly different context. The subject here is what I call competitive patriotism, examples of which were widely evidenced when  American gymnast Gabby Douglas was faulted by pseudo-patriotic phonies for failing to put her hand over her heart as she stood at attention during the playing of her county’s national anthem at the Olympics in Rio. These complaints are part and parcel of  the...

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No, the two parties are not equally bad

  A warning to readers: Don’t misinterpret the headline above. I’m not going to argue here that Republicans are worse than Democrats or that conservatives are worse than liberals. That kind of thing is not the point of this post. Rather, my argument is against false equivalence in our political judgments. But this is not the same as something I posted a few weeks ago when I took issue with false equivalence in the practice of journalism, especially as a substitute for true objectivity. This time, I’m annoyed with false...

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Behold the many right-wing myths about immigration

  Your typical supporter of Donald Trump embraces so much nonsense about the immigration “problem” in America that one hardly knows where to begin debunking it all. My personal favorite is the popular notion that illegal immigration is a crime. It’s not, as I’ve pointed out on previous occasions. In and of itself, illegal immigration is a civil matter, which means it’s ruled by civil law, not criminal law. Immigration cases are heard in front of an administrative law judge, not a criminal judge. Many...

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Trump likely will find some excuse to skip the debates

  One month from tomorrow, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are scheduled to begin a set of three campaign dates over the course of just 13 days — but I have my doubts that it will ever happen. I hope I’m wrong about this, but I expect that Trump will come up with some lame rationale for skipping the debates. His campaign brain-trust (if that’s the word for it) probably will persuade him that there’s more to lose in laying bare his lack of knowledge of the issues than in finding even a contrived  excuse for...

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When will a big earthquake strike here in the American heartland?

  You probably have heard by now that an earthquake today in Central Italy has flattened small towns and killed scores of people. The death toll and damage estimates likely will climb sharply in the coming days. Most Americans react to tragedies like this with the thought that big quakes in our country are mainly a West Coast phenomenon. It’s a mistake, however, to think that such a thing can’t happen here in the heartland. The truth is that four of the biggest earthquakes in North American history occurred in late 1811 and...

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This looks like an especially good year for Chicago

  As things stand now in late August, this year of 2016 is likely to end with Chicago covered with plenty of glory. Political polls currently indicate that our next U.S. president will be Chicago native Hillary Rodham Clinton. Her two-term predecessor, Barack Obama, a product of Chicago politics, seems likely to leave office with positive approval ratings, which is no mean feat. In sports, the Chicago Cubs are the best team in baseball at this writing and in good shape to win their first World Series in more than a century. The baseball...

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