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It’s not too early to start planning Rockford’s bicentennial

  Longtime residents of Rockford would agree, methinks, that this city has seen better days. It’s seen worse days, too, but the current batch of problems and challenges sometimes seem especially daunting. Mind you, it’s not my purpose here to itemize the difficulties facing the Forest City.  Nor can I prescribe any magical cure-all. I can, however, suggest that there’s something the people of Rockford can do to lift their spirits, pursue a common cause, learn from the community’s past and focus on a brighter...

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National Review is trying to slay the scary monster it helped create

    Every now and again, I’ve been reading the conservative journal National Review almost since the celebrated William F. Buckley Jr. founded it more than 50 years ago. But only rarely in recent years has the magazine offered anything more than a mildly interesting measure of what’s been on the minds of the pseudo-intellectuals on the political right. More often than not — especially since the advent of the Internet, Fox News and right-wing talk radio — National Review has been of negligible importance. Bill...

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Why does John McCain continue to defend Sarah Palin?

    One has to wonder if Sarah Palin has something on John McCain, something that prevents him from ever uttering a disparaging word about her. When Palin clownishly endorsed the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump, a man who has insultingly questioned McCain’s heroism in the Vietnam War, McCain reacted almost approvingly. “I respect her view,” he said. “I have great affection and appreciation for her. I respect what she does.” Appreciation for her? As McCain’s running mate in the 2008 presidential race,...

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Would traditional Republicans run a third-party candidate against Trump?

    Here’s an irony for you: A few months ago, the poohbahs of the Republican Party were worried that Donald Trump might mount a third-party challenge if he doesn’t win the GOP presidential nomination. That kind of thing likely would be good for the Democrats. Now, suddenly, certain elements of the Republican establishment — columnist George Will and neo-conservative opinionist Bill Kristol, to name two — are at least toying with the possibility of running a third-party candidate against Trump, if he’s...

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Has Obama been a divisive president? C’mon! Get real!

To hear Republicans tell it, the presidency of Barack Obama has been the most divisive in modern times, perhaps in all of American history. And it’s all his fault. That’s like blaming the victim for the crime. In truth, no president in my lifetime — not even the crooked Richard Nixon, who was forced to resign in disgrace — has been the target of more vicious invective than Obama. The right-wing noise machine has questioned Obama’s American birthright,  called him a Muslim, impugned his patriotism and labeled...

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Memo to GOP: Don’t cite Reagan’s record as ideal in U.S. relations with Iran

    You would think — wouldn’t you? — that Republicans would no longer be so foolish as to hold up Ronald Reagan as the perfect example of how a U.S. president should deal with Iran. But you’d be wrong. Consider, for example, the collective Republican reaction to the Obama administration’s successful diplomatic efforts to gain the release of four Americans held hostage by the Iranian regime. Sen. Marco Rubio seemed to speak for his GOP colleagues when he said this: When I become President of the United...

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The flap over whether Ted Cruz is qualified to be president is a teachable moment

  An elementary school instructor named Beth Lewis once offered this observation: “A teachable moment is an unplanned opportunity that arises in the classroom where a teacher has an ideal chance to offer insight to his or her students. It is not something that you can plan for; rather, it is a fleeting opportunity that must be sensed and seized by the teacher.” This definition comes to mind with the current controversy over whether Sen. Ted Cruz is qualified to serve as president under terms of the U.S. Constitution. Article II of the...

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Media persist in misreporting political poll results

    There’s a story in this morning’s edition of The Des Moines Register (see HERE) bearing the headline: “Iowa Poll: Cruz holds 3-point lead as Trump attacks.” The piece is a classic example of how the mainstream media often misreport the results of political polls. Indeed, the Des Moines paper’s story is especially bad. You have to go way down in the story to find the respective poll percentages for Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. They’re buried in a graphic of poll results and appear only in fine...

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Memo to Donald Trump: “Born in the USA” is not a patriotic anthem

    For more than 30 years now, countless people have misinterpreted Bruce Springsteen’s classic song “Born in the USA” as some kind of celebration of America. It’s no such thing. Rather, the song is a bitter lament of a young man who was drafted into the Vietnam War. (“[T]hey put a rifle in my hand/ Sent me off to a foreign land/ To go and kill the yellow man…” When the young man returns from the war, he has trouble finding a good job, which further embitters him. “Down in the shadow...

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The federal government should sponsor a trillion-dollar lottery

    You’re aware, no doubt, of the buzz these days over the billion-dollar-plus jackpot in the multistate Powerball lottery. The odds against buying a ticket with the winning numbers are roughly one in 292 million. But that hasn’t deterred countless people from plunking down coin of the realm for an exceedingly slim chance at riches beyond their dreams. Perhaps the strangest thing about this phenomenon is that people who wouldn’t bother playing the Powerball game when the jackpot was a piddling $100 million or so...

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Donald Trump is not unlike George Wallace

    One of the advantages (if that’s the word for it) of being my age is that I’m old enough to remember a lot of the social, cultural and political goings-on in the America of half a century ago. Take, for example, the national political rise of arch-segregationist George Wallace back in the 1960s. What a character he was, and what a bigot. I once attended a Wallace rally — but only as an observer, mind you. It was a scary experience, not so much because of Wallace’s rhetoric as the ugly demeanor among his...

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The Baseball Hall of Fame is still a stupid joke

      The election of Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza  to the Baseball Hall of Fame was announced yesterday. Big freaking deal! Don’t get me wrong. Both these guys deserve the honor, but so do lots of other players who have not been selected for enshrinement. By the same token, some of the players who have been enshrined don’t deserve it. Dizzy Dean? Come on. The guy won a piddling 150 games. Let’s face it. The Baseball Hall of Fame is a joke and always has been. All you need to know about the Hall is that the...

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