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home : opinion : editorial July 6, 2020

Supreme Court upholds cellphone robocall ban
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Monday upheld a 1991 law that bars robocalls to cellphones.
Monday, July 6, 2020

Justices rule states can bind presidential electors' votes
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Monday that states can require presidential electors to back their states’ popular vote winner in the Electoral College.
Monday, July 6, 2020

Next election could decide if Washington, D.C., becomes 51st state
The drive to make Washington, D.C., a state has been a favorite of some Democrats for years. Why wouldn't it be? If enacted, a new state, formed from deepest-blue D.C., would create two new Democratic senators and one new Democratic member of the House. For a Democrat, what's not to like?
Monday, July 6, 2020

No more delays: What to know about the July 15 deadline
It’s time to do your taxes — no more delays.
Monday, July 6, 2020

Waste-watching: Sewage can help track pandemic virus trends
NEW YORK (AP) — One county in Utah beat back a spike of pandemic virus infections in the spring, and another saw its rate jump. Both trends showed up in their sewage.
Monday, July 6, 2020

No Trump
I'm taking the day off, not from swimming in the swamp of sickness of a loved one, where I've been since October; not from veering between anger and terror because half the people I love are on the super-high-risk list, while I'm only plain old risk.
Monday, July 6, 2020

Frederick Douglass' July 5 words are germane to our time
This year above all, our Independence Day commemorations and introspection ought not to conclude on the Fourth of July. Indeed, in a year like this -- in our national moment of reflection and rebellion -- we require one more day of contemplation on our national character and our national purpose.

This year, we should not conclude our national self-assessments on July 4.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

In Texas, Bar Lives Matter
I have a soft spot for bars, and for the people who like to go to them.

For one thing, bars put me through law school. When I was 21, I took a step up from serving "coffee and," which had helped me get through college, to serving and making cocktails.

My first bar job was in a glitzy, Mob-run nightclub that only looked glitzy in the dark. The required outfit was green pants, a white halter top and high-heeled sandals. I learned to balance a tray with a tip jar, thread dollars through my hands and dance with myself if we had no customers -- all for 99 cents an hour plus tips. I got fired for suggesting that we could all get together and work fewer nights and make less money.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

No, Trump isn't going to drop out
After he's repeatedly survived the unsurvivable, we are supposed to believe that President Donald Trump might quit the presidential race before it truly begins because of a spate of negative polling.   

This is the latest chatter among (unnamed) Republicans, according to a widely circulated Fox News report and cable news talking heads. 

Friday, July 3, 2020

Some of you rabbits are winning. others not
Rabbits. Rabbits! They're hopping all over New England, my yard included. They need to eat and, being rabbits, have lots of mouths to feed. What more could a rabbit want than a fresh head of cabbage, organically grown by my calloused hands?
Friday, July 3, 2020

Antifa's a laugh riot - until it comes for you!
I wonder if Milo Yiannopoulos, Ben Shapiro, Charles Murray and Heather MacDonald are reacting to these antifa riots the same way I am.
Thursday, July 2, 2020

In reopening casinos, the virus is the dealer
Those who wagered on a visit to Las Vegas confronted mixed messages on mask wearing, to say the least.
Thursday, July 2, 2020

In Texas, Bar Lives Matter
I have a soft spot for bars, and for the people who like to go to them.

For one thing, bars put me through law school. When I was 21, I took a step up from serving "coffee and," which had helped me get through college, to serving and making cocktails.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Will pandemic and protests spur rural relocation?
Living in a rural central Illinois town (Toulon, pop. 1,400), I am alert to any forces that might spur relocation to hinterland communities, which are often struggling to maintain population and vitality. Are the pandemic and recent urban, sometimes violent protests such prompts? I conclude there might be some, modest movement to already attractive communities outside the metro regions.
Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Some monumentally hard decisions
One of the recently vandalized monuments is a statue of poet John Greenleaf Whittier. Someone smeared "BLM" and "(expletive) Slave Owners" on the seated figure prominently displayed in the city named after him, Whittier, California.
Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Our age of superstition
We live in a society gripped by a quasi-religious fervor and obsessed with symbols and irrational fears. 
Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Some monumentally hard decisions
One of the recently vandalized monuments is a statue of poet John Greenleaf Whittier. Someone smeared "BLM" and "(expletive) Slave Owners" on the seated figure prominently displayed in the city named after him, Whittier, California.
Wednesday, July 1, 2020

We have not achieved justice for all
As we approach this Fourth of July, we -- the heirs to the Declaration of Independence -- are engaged in nationwide introspection on the nature of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" nearly two and a half centuries after those seven words became an uplifting shorthand for the American creed.
Monday, June 29, 2020

The coming 2020 train wreck
President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden agree on one thing -- the other side is trying to steal the election.
Friday, June 26, 2020

We have not achieved justice for all
As we approach this Fourth of July, we -- the heirs to the Declaration of Independence -- are engaged in nationwide introspection on the nature of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" nearly two and a half centuries after those seven words became an uplifting shorthand for the American creed.
Friday, June 26, 2020

Great moments in racism: The dashcam tapes
If you were watching MSNBC last Sunday, you may have seen Imani Perry, professor of African-American studies at Princeton University, and wondered, as I did, Why do I know that name?
Friday, June 26, 2020

In Reopening Casinos, the Virus Is the Dealer
Those who wagered on a visit to Las Vegas confronted mixed messages on mask wearing, to say the least.
Friday, June 26, 2020

Audit shows US send $1.4 billion in virus relief payments to dead people
WASHINGTON (AP) — A government watchdog says nearly 1.1 million relief payments totaling some $1.4 billion went to dead people in the government’s coronavirus aid program.
Thursday, June 25, 2020

Once started, mob violence targeting monuments is hard to stop
What do George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, Ulysses S. Grant, Father Junipero Serra and Christopher Columbus have in common?
Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Tulsa Showed Us the Superior Path to November
What didn't happen in Tulsa last weekend was gratifying and a relief. The protests against racism were overwhelmingly orderly. President Donald Trump's rally also proceeded without serious incident and, notably, without much of an audience.
Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Polls don't predict winners, but they do highlight issues
If there is one golden rule that political professionals of all stripes, parties and ideologies embrace, it is that the only poll that matters is the one on Election Day. It actually is possible to put a precise time on the moment when any lingering doubts about the utility of this rule were swept away.
Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Like swimming in the same pool: Is it safe to form a COVID-19 support bubble?
(AP) — Is it safe to form a COVID-19 “support bubble” with friends?
Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Thomas Jefferson must stand
They're coming for Thomas Jefferson.  

This was always obvious, but now it's even more plain. Protestors in Portland, Oregon used axes and ropes to topple a statue of President Thomas Jefferson. The New York City Council is agitating to remove a statue of the author of the Declaration of Independence from its chambers. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

A cry for help, but what kind of help?
In a recent column, I averred that the George Floyd death and protests-in-reaction represented a classic case of the powerful “us versus them” syndrome that is baked into the human brain. Racism is a subset of this syndrome.

Floyd’s brother gave testimony this past week to Congress that was in effect a cry for help for the “thems” of our society. But what kind of help, and will it really help?

Saturday, June 20, 2020

The virus slightly cools the planet. Can it do more?
Some say the pandemic has become a permanent ally in the fight against climate catastrophe. It has jump-started a drop in the burning of fossil fuels, and that will continue. Others say this is short-term thinking: The public may abandon its concerns over global warming as it tries to climb out of the economic hole left by the COVID-19 lockdowns. Let's accentuate the positive.
Saturday, June 20, 2020

Political grief on top of fear, depression and economic loss
COVID-19 is not at all over and shows every sign of staging a return. We've been through a lot of fear, depression, and losses of income and loved ones. Much can't be changed, but the leadership can, from sloppy governors to President Donald Trump at the top of the heap. Trump seems not just incapable of forming a rational response to a virus but also uninterested in doing so -- and the public seems to know it.
Thursday, June 18, 2020

Yale has to go!
The Democratic Party is being forced into taking ridiculous positions by its insane base. Defund the police! Dishonor the flag! Throw Christopher Columbus in a lake!
What a wonderful gift! All Republicans have to do is take the other side. Make themselves the alternative to madness.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Why the inconsistencies in coronavirus rules?
As the country struggles to vanquish coronavirus, Americans are witnessing a bizarre phenomenon in which some authorities tolerate and even praise highly politicized mass gatherings while at the same time suppress small activities -- like taking children to a playground -- that are important to quality of life.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that when it comes to public gatherings, the "highest risk" for coronavirus transmission occurs during "large in-person gatherings where it is difficult for individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and attendees travel from outside the local area."

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Selective social distancing rules one of the great scams in American life
Earlier this week, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot had big news -- the city is opening up its iconic Lakefront Trail after months of being closed off as part of a COVID-19 lockdown.

That Lightfoot kept the trail closed even after Chicago had experienced large-scale Black Lives Matter marches -- thousands just last weekend during the "Drag March for Change" -- is one small instance of the flagrant social distancing hypocrisy across the country in recent weeks.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Real police reform begins in the fine print
In Minneapolis, the police force is being disbanded. In Toronto, the police chief has stepped down in the face of cuts to his budget and demands for answers about the role of police in the death of a Ukrainian-Afro-Indigenous woman who fell 24 stories after officers arrived to assist her. Here in Pittsburgh, a "Black Lives Matter" mural sprung up along the Allegheny River.

And in Washington, D.C., lawmakers are struggling to respond to the furious reaction to the police killing of George Floyd.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Biden's VP list narrows: Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Susan Rice and others
WASHINGTON (AP) — Joe Biden’s search for a running mate is entering a second round of vetting for a dwindling list of potential vice presidential nominees, with several black women in strong contention.
Saturday, June 13, 2020

'Us versus Them' syndrome on display in conflict over police, race in America
In his illuminating 800-page book “Behave,” Stanford neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky describes how the brain shapes our actions, sometimes based on hard-wired “Us versus Them” predispositions.
Saturday, June 13, 2020

Defund the police? Stop abusing the language
You know you have a stupid declaration on your hands when you have to explain what some on your side really mean. Such is the burden of Democrats trying to limit the damage from the childish demands to "defund the police."
Friday, June 12, 2020

A presidency is a terrible thing to waste
President Donald Trump is in the midst of a polling swoon largely of his own making.
Friday, June 12, 2020

Why you no longer recognize your country
Mass looting throughout the nation. Police precincts burned to the ground. Murdered cops. An historic church in Lafayette Park set on fire. Video after horrifying video of innocent Americans being beaten senseless by gangs of thugs, as one political party demands: "DEFUND THE POLICE!"
Thursday, June 11, 2020

The 'Defund the Police' dilemma
What seemed like a crazy slogan on the far left -- "Defund the Police" -- is threatening to become a reality in some cities around the country. On Sunday the president of the Minneapolis City Council announced that a two-thirds majority of the council now supports "ending the Minneapolis Police Department." Council members said they will be "taking intermediate steps toward ending the MPD through the budget process and other policy and budget decisions over the coming weeks and months."
Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Law and order isn't fascist
Confronted by a clear and present fascist threat, the staff of The New York Times rose up last week to humiliate and punish quislings in its ranks.  

In a now famous op-ed, Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton called for federal troops to quell riots and looting, an idea that the Times staff considered worthy of Oswald Mosley or Benito Mussolini. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

My town
Almost 30 years ago, my mom called me in a panic after seeing photos of a Nordstrom store that had collapsed during the Northridge earthquake. And for the first of many times, times I miss, I had to reassure her that it wasn't my Ralph's that was burning, wasn't my CVS that was looted, wasn't my neighborhood where police were staging. Los Angeles is a very big place.
Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Will home farming survive a vaccine?
Farm-to-table refers to freshly grown produce -- that is, fruits and vegetables not transported from some distant time zone or even hemisphere but recently harvested on boutique acreage just outside town. The foodie media trumpet the virtues of local food sources, and their cosmopolitan audience tries to honor them when they visit farmer's markets or read menus.
Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Of course destruction of property is violence
Breaking things and burning buildings is enjoying a vogue it hasn't had since the late 1960s or early 1970s.

Arson and looting are a perennial feature of urban unrest, but they have been pretty universally condemned for decades now -- until the past week or so.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Point and Counter Point
Friday, June 5, 2020

Sweden backtracks on its low-pain pandemic cure
Sweden offered hope that the coronavirus could be reined in without great inconvenience or economic pain. Unlike its neighbors in Scandinavia and elsewhere, Sweden didn't put its people in strict lockdown. Restaurants, bars and shops buzzed with their usual customers. Gyms stayed open, and kids under 16 went to school.

Images of Swedes sunning themselves at crowded cafes dowsed many quarantined Americans and Europeans with envy. Even as other societies start letting people venture forth, they still generally require masks for entry in stores and other businesses.

Oh, how we wished Sweden's approach would work! Apparently, it didn't.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Liberal arts colleges in peril; can they be saved?
There are 4,000 degree-granting colleges and universities in our nation: community colleges, private liberal arts colleges, regional and urban public universities, and graduate research centers. I have taught within each type; each has its strengths and makes distinctive contributions to society.

Yet I have a soft spot in my heart for the liberal arts college, of which there are 700-800 in the U..S. With 500-2,000 students each, the schools offer a personal approach rarely found elsewhere. Rather than specialize the mind, these schools broaden and enlarge the mind.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

COVID-19 reveals a deeper, more enduring tragedy about America
The last several weeks have been hard, the last week perhaps the hardest. Feeling more confined than confident, Americans nonetheless itched to get out, on bike trails, amid neighborhood streets, in stores, at picnic groves, by the shore or lakeside. And it was at those venues -- trails, streets, stores, groves, shoreline and lakeside -- that it became clear to all of us that months into the COVID-19 calamity, we remain full of questions and bereft of answers.

It became clear, too, that many of the questions we harbor -- maybe unexpressed but surely felt -- are vital questions about personal and public character, about the country's resolve and national purpose. These uncertainties always have lain beneath the country's surface, visible only a handful of times -- during the Revolution and the Civil War, to be sure, but also during the two world wars and, vividly, during the Vietnam struggle. And in the civil rights era and again during Watergate.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Yes, meet rioters with overwhelming force
Restoring order to America's cities isn't a complicated proposition.  

All it requires is resources and determination, and a firm rejection of the  longstanding progressive fallacy that an overwhelming police presence is "provocative" and "escalatory" and must be avoided.

As has been established across decades of civil disturbances, it is police passivity that emboldens mobs. When the cops stand by, or don't show up or, even worse, run away, it is a permission slip for destruction. They might as well supply the spray paint, bricks and hammers for the crowds, and beckon them into the local Target or Nike store to take whatever they want. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Jeff Sessions, a wild Senate race and Trump's 'personal feelings'
Jeff Sessions is in a surreal place. He spent 20 years as a senator from Alabama, followed by 21 months as U.S. Attorney General, and now he is in a tightly competitive race to win back his old Senate seat. He was the first important national figure in government to endorse candidate Donald Trump back in early 2016. That endorsement was an important boost for Trump, whom other Republicans were dismissing at the time. The newly elected Trump picked Sessions for attorney general.

At the Justice Department, Sessions worked hard to implement the president's agenda on issues like immigration and crime. But as far as relations with Trump were concerned, it all went to hell in early March 2017, when Sessions, who had been on the job all of 21 days, recused himself from supervising the Trump-Russia investigation.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Transcripts released of Flynn's calls may show that he was wrongly pursued
WASHINGTON (AP) — Transcripts of phone calls that played a pivotal role in the Russia investigation were declassified and released Friday, showing that Michael Flynn, as an adviser to then-President-elect Donald Trump, urged Russia’s ambassador to be “even-keeled” in response to punitive Obama administration measures, and assured him “we can have a better conversation” about relations between the two countries after Trump became president.
Saturday, May 30, 2020

The return of the tea party
It's 2009 again, or feels like it.  That was when spontaneous, grassroots protests against overweening government sprang up and were widely derided in the media as dangerous and wrong-headed.
Saturday, May 30, 2020

Illinois Republican lawmakers want an audit of state employment agency
SPRINGFIELD – A group of four Republican state representatives is calling for a state audit of the Illinois Department of Employment Security to examine a data breach at the agency and its continued slow adaptation to the unprecedented number of unemployment claims during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Friday, May 29, 2020

Bottom line: If you fear an encounter, avoid it, but let us take our own risks
ILLINOIS — Since I live in a small out-of-the way county that has had one reported case of COVID-19, a second recently rumored, I have been hesitant to write about The Big Disruption in our lives. I am obviously not sharing the valiant struggles of nurses and their associates, at the side of infected patients gasping for air, most in densely populated urban centers like Chicago, or in nursing homes.
Friday, May 29, 2020

Summer people are already here. And are Snowbirds staying?
When the pandemic hit this winter, city people with second homes moved into them. This upset the rhythm of beach, lake and mountain communities that attract a lot of "summer people" -- but not until the summer.

As for winter destinations -- Florida, Arizona, Texas or any ski area -- the snowbirds seem to be lingering into the spring. Full-time locals may wonder when they will leave. They're going to leave, right?

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Quarintine game! The Kim Jong Joe plan
We're all going crazy and running out of things to do during this endless shutdown. We've painted the dog, counted pavers in the backyard, and rearranged the spice rack alphabetically and also by color. What we really need right now is a new game!
Thursday, May 28, 2020

Some of our most faithful troops
While serving as a sentry with French forces in the Argonne Forest in 1918, a black American private fought off German attackers. Unfazed by his wounds, he hurled grenades until they ran out, shot his rifle until it jammed, used his rifle as a club until it broke, and finally used a bolo knife until reinforcements arrived.  

The French recognized Henry Johnson's heroism with a Croix de Guerre, while the U.S. gave him the Medal of Honor -- posthumously, almost a hundred years later. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Jeff Sessions defends himself, but stays loyal to the president
It hasn't been in the news much, but former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, now in a tight Republican primary to win back his old Alabama Senate seat, has been talking a lot about his time in the Justice Department and the issue that made him a persona non grata in Trumpworld: his March 2017 decision to recuse himself from supervising the Trump-Russia investigation.
Saturday, May 23, 2020

Biden's most ridiculous veep prospect
Stacey Abrams has another distinction to add to her resume -- she's among the most preposterous potential vice-presidential candidates ever.  

Her attempt to leverage a failed Georgia gubernatorial bid into a spot on the Democratic ticket is so brazenly absurd that it's hard to think of precedents. 

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Coronavirus doesn't just kiill people -- it's white!
I guess now it's OK to identify viruses by where they came from. Lately, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been calling COVID-19 the "European virus" 1 million times per press conference.

Here's Cuomo at a single briefing last week: "... the virus that had attacked us from Europe ... the virus came from Europe ... the virus was coming from Europe ... New York is where the European flights were coming in ... Virus came from Europe ... we had this European virus attack us ... we had people coming from Europe bringing the virus."

So "European virus" it is!

Friday, May 22, 2020

To tax or not to tax? Pritzker's graduated tax fails on all counts
The only major, contested issue on the ballot this fall in our Blue State will be whether to enact Gov. JB Pritzker’s proposed constitutional amendment to allow graduated income tax rates. I think the Pritzker approach — not the concept — is wrong-headed. I try to explain here.
Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Pandemic makes end-of-life care harder
I just lost a dear elderly friend to cancer. Home hospice workers kept him comfortable. He spent his final weeks watching spring unfold in the outdoor Eden he had nurtured for decades. He died peacefully at night with me present.
Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Don't Stay Home! Die!
Or, to be fair, you may not die; you may just be the type who kills other people.

Sound like government playing God? Making life and death decisions? Just what conservative orthodoxy has insisted for years government must never do? Yes.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Liberal privilege in two tweets
This week, we'll look at two tweets that encapsulate everything that's wrong with the "white privilege" narrative consuming our nation.
Saturday, May 16, 2020

What we still don't know about the Flynn case
The Michael Flynn case will soon be over. It began on Jan. 24, 2017, just four days into the Trump administration, when two FBI agents went to the White House to interview Flynn, then the brand-new national security adviser. Ignoring protocol, they questioned him about a phone call he had a few weeks before, during the transition, with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. By the end of the year, Flynn had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in that interview.
Saturday, May 16, 2020

When believing all women leads to evil
The hashtag #BelieveWomen stemmed from an era when women claiming to have been sexually assaulted were broadly dismissed. That is, if you ignore the history of white women falsely accusing black men of rape. Those women were largely believed and the accused often summarily tortured and hanged by the neck from a tree.
Friday, May 15, 2020

Fauci is not the villain
For his critics, Dr. Anthony Fauci cemented his status as the Rasputin of public health with his Senate testimony the other day.
Friday, May 15, 2020

It happened in New York
New York is the greatest city in the world. It also is uniquely suited to the spread of the coronavirus.  

As the national debate over re-opening continues and the political blame game intensifies, it's worth considering the scale of New York's outbreak. There is nothing like it anywhere else in the country, and almost nothing like it in the rest of the world. 

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Trump trolling for fun and profit
In 2003, during the George W. Bush administration, the columnist Charles Krauthammer coined the phrase "Bush Derangement Syndrome" to refer to some of the president's more unhinged critics. It was funny, and given Krauthammer's background -- he was a medical doctor specializing in psychiatry -- it had the ring of truth.
Monday, May 11, 2020

Everyone deserves to live under the Biden standard
Why should Joe Biden get due process, but not others accused of sexual misconduct?  

That's the question raised by the progressive reaction to Tara Reade's accusation against Biden on the one hand, and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' new rules for handling sexual harassment cases on college campuses on the other. 

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Apologies to Helen
"When you're a mother, you'll understand."

How many times did my mother say that? And how many times did I think, "No, I won't, because I'll be a better mother"?

Saturday, May 9, 2020

More than comfort, 'Golden Girls' could be our future
No surprise that Americans have spent much of their lockdown watching TV -- nor that one of the most-watched shows has been "The Golden Girls." First aired in 1985, the sitcom portrays four older women, three widows and one divorcee, sharing a house in Miami.

They're "sheltering in place" in that they don't have outside jobs to go to. They do venture out to restaurants, volunteer work and hospitals, but almost all their activities take place at home. The enemy scratching at their windows is not a virus but the indignities of old age, which they shoo away with biting humor.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Lab theory of Wuhan virus cooked up in a neocon lab
Just because the media say something doesn't necessarily mean it's not true. In the case of Trump's claim that COVID-19 originated in a Wuhan lab -- or as I call it, the All Cultures Are the Same! Theory -- the media are probably right.

Granted, whatever the truth is, it will somehow become an argument for more immigration and more war. Still, the lab theory sounds a lot like what we were told before going to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. We need to liberate the poor Afghans and Iraqis from their vile leaders! They're just like us!

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Lockdown extremism is a vice
We will be in a fight against the coronavirus for months, if not years, and yet it is time to declare mission accomplished on one very important goal.  

Now, the rhetoric around the shutdowns has shifted, and not very subtly -- flattening the curve and saving the hospitals are "out," and not allowing any additional cases to emerge is "in."

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

50 years ago, America heard the drumming in Ohio
Four dead in Ohio.
It was a newspaper headline before it was a Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young lyric. Ripped from the headlines about an event 50 years ago Monday, the song and the moment it commemorated were seared into the memory of a generation, much the way Picasso's 1937 antiwar painting "Guernica" came to symbolize the Spanish Civil War.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Northwestern engineer think he's found a better way to farm
Since I was a boy growing up in rural Illinois post-World War II, American agriculture has achieved momentous productivity increases, from about 45 bushels an acre of corn back then to an average of 180 today, with farmers in my area sometimes getting 300 bushels per.
Saturday, May 2, 2020

No, science can't tell us how to respond to the coronavirus
If you thought the coronavirus presented difficult policy questions, don't worry -- we have science. 
Saturday, May 2, 2020

Federal appeals court in Chicago nixes withholding aid from sanctuary cities
CHICAGO (AP) — A sharply worded ruling by a federal appeals court in Chicago on Thursday said the Trump administration policy of threatening to withhold grant money from so-called sanctuary cities to force them to comply with its more stringent immigration policies violates the separation-of-powers provisions enshrined the U.S. Constitution.
Friday, May 1, 2020

Illinois attorney general asks Supreme Court to weigh in on Bailey's lawsuit
SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois attorney general’s office asked the state’s highest court to consider arguments in a state representative’s case challenging the governor’s authority to oversee the COVID-19 pandemic.
Friday, May 1, 2020

Slowed COVID-19 spread leaves 1,000s of makeshift beds in Illinois empty
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois has spent tens of millions of dollars building makeshift field hospitals to prepare for an anticipated flood of coronavirus cases, but so far hasn’t had to use the thousands of extra beds. That was exactly the plan.
Friday, May 1, 2020

Q & A on Wuhan virus
As you can well imagine, my mailbox has been overflowing with questions about the coronavirus from precisely ZERO readers. So I decided to write my own questions. I know this is what you would be asking if you were not standing in line, outside, 6 feet apart, to purchase a quart of milk.
Thursday, April 30, 2020

After COVID, will we want what we wanted?
When Germany let smaller stores reopen, the expected didn't happen. Officials thought that shoppers would burst out of their five-week lockdown and spend, spend, spend. They were wrong.
Thursday, April 30, 2020

When would Joe Biden reopen the country?
The most pressing problem facing Americans today is how and when states and local areas reopen after the coronavirus lockdowns. President Trump, stressing the terrible economic damage the lockdowns have done, has (mostly) pressed for reopening sooner rather than later. He has released detailed guidelines for officials in the states to consult when deciding when to reopen.
Wednesday, April 29, 2020

The hospital crisis of our making
We had to destroy the hospitals to save them.  

You could be forgiven for thinking that's the upshot of the coronavirus lockdowns that have suspended elective surgeries and generally discouraged people from going to hospitals. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Coronavirus pandemic identifies fault lines that must be addressed
The coronavirus crisis has exposed critical fault lines in our nation’s bedrock, which must be addressed. I identify three below, but there are others, such as fiscal sufficiency for Social Security and Medicare, both programs taking a hit from the virus and our spending to combat it.
Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Amidst viral threat, Canada looks askance at U.S.
Chalk up another victim to the coronavirus that has swept across the globe: the decades-old amity that tied Canada to the United States in cross-border marriages and commercial relationships, that deepened during World War II, that took the form of three landmark 20th-century free-trade agreements, and that burst into full flower when Canada welcomed American jetliners and their passengers to Newfoundland after the 2001 terrorist attacks.
Monday, April 27, 2020

About the homeless
What about them? They have started dying. It would be surprising if they didn't. What hasn't happened -- but will -- is the numbers becoming concentrated. We'll see television anchors not only in skid row but also on streets full of well-protected neighbors who will not react well to being told that the sidewalk actually belongs to the person who pitched his tent there, and that drug laws cannot be enforced in these tents because they are "homes."
Saturday, April 25, 2020

Social distancing isn't a religion
Forgive Jacksonville, Florida, for it has sinned.  

The largest city in Florida partly reopened its beaches, and it became something of a national scandal. CNN ran a disapproving segment, and the hashtag #FloridaMorons trended on Twitter.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

As virus rages, leaders keep dodging blame
Why are some leaders so reluctant to admit that in the early days of the coronavirus crisis, they were slow to realize the seriousness of the threat?

That's the charge leveled against President Trump daily. Just look at the number of times various critics have said he has "blood on his hands." Trump has denied responsibility, and has argued that rather than being slow off the mark, he was actually quick to respond.

There is much angry debate on that point. What is clear now is that more than a few officials around the country were slow to act. And some of them in high positions -- not as high as president of the United States, but quite powerful -- are reluctant to admit it.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Can the Earth breathe deeply as oil use crashes?
The bizarre collapse in oil prices reflects a world largely shut at home. People are no longer driving much or flying at all. Factories are silent. The supply hasn't changed radically in the past month. It's the demand that's crumbled.

Environmentalists, hold that thought.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Trump and China: A love story
Liberals claim to be appalled that Trump didn't issue his stay-at-home protocols for the Wuhan virus back in January or early February.  

What do you think the media's reaction would have been if Trump had started babbling about a viral pandemic in the middle of his impeachment trial?

Thursday, April 23, 2020

The ventilator crisis that wasn't
At a coronavirus task force briefing at the beginning of April, White House adviser Jared Kushner explained the approach that would -- as events proved -- get the country through its ventilator crisis.

He was relentlessly pilloried, mocked and distorted in the press for it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

In the time of the virus, grooming takes a hit
A friend closed in his northern Italian apartment for almost six weeks emailed me saying that his wife says he looks like a "clochard." That's French for street bum. This from a man who once was a walking advertisement for fine Italian tailoring.
Monday, April 20, 2020

Four governors who are getting it right
Calvin Coolidge's stance at the Boston Police Strike of 1919 catapulted him to national prominence, to his party's vice presidential nomination a year later, and eventually to the presidency. Herbert Hoover's achievement in feeding starving Europeans after World War I gave him the heroic status that led to the White House.
Saturday, April 18, 2020

The absurd case against the coronavirus lockdown
An irony of the coronavirus debate is that the more successful lockdowns are in squelching the disease, the more vulnerable they will be to attack as unnecessary in the first place.
Friday, April 17, 2020

Liberalism, like the Wuhan virus, will never die
The media are outraged that President Trump is talking about re-opening the country, following their previous position that he sure was taking his sweet time at opening up the country.

Fortunately, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's death forecasts from the Wuhan coronavirus have shrunk from 1.7 million Americans in mid-March; to 100,000 to 200,000 two weeks ago, provided there were massive suppression efforts; to -- most recently -- 60,000.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

COVID-19: Pearl Harbor -- or War of the Worlds?
U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams warned that this week of mounting death from the novel coronavirus could be "our Pearl Harbor moment." He was referring, of course, to the surprise 1941 Japanese attack on the U.S. Navy base in Honolulu, which pulled the nation into World War II.
Monday, April 13, 2020

Passover's social justice message resonates through the ages
For two full minutes, he stood amid the flowers and the palms and a handful of American flags, absorbing the applause, exhilarating in it, and when finally the clapping subsided, when a silence fell in the room, Theodore Roosevelt spoke about the meaning of the Jewish holiday of Passover, and about the wealth gap that yawned wide more than a century ago.
Saturday, April 11, 2020

Is Joe Biden weaker today than Hillary Clinton was in 2016?
The polls show Joe Biden leading Donald Trump in the presidential race. Looking at the last 10 surveys in the RealClearPolitics average of polls matching Trump vs. Biden, Biden is leading in every one of them -- by anywhere from 3 to 10 points. Biden's average lead, in those 10 polls, is 5.5 points.
Saturday, April 11, 2020

Blaming China and WHO isn't scapegoating
President Donald Trump slammed the World Health Organization at a news briefing this week and was immediately accused of scapegoating.
Friday, April 10, 2020

I'll have the chicken testicle soup - hold the deadly virus
It's probably a coincidence, but I notice that as businesses go under, jobs are lost, careers are ended and trillions of dollars are drained from the economy, the people most avidly pushing the coronavirus panic are doing quite well.
Thursday, April 9, 2020

We need to make more of our own drugs
A country learns about itself in a crisis, and one revelation in the coronavirus emergency is that we can't make our own penicillin.

The first patient successfully treated with the antibiotic was a woman suffering from sepsis in a Connecticut hospital in 1942. Her treatment took up half the country's supply. Yet in short order we figured out how to mass produce the medicine, saving the lives of countless soldiers in World War II. Once, factories throughout the country made the stuff. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

The newest federalism
It's "federalism time" again in Washington. No, don't get your "Federalist Paper No. 10" (my favorite) out yet. Federalism time rarely involves a serious debate about the balance of power between the federal government and the states, although that is technically what American federalism is about. It's about politics, pure and simple. It's about who gets what -- in this case, tests, masks and ventilators, among other things -- and who gets blamed, the president or the governor. Every time President Donald Trump assigns one of these imperatives to the governors, as he has done repeatedly during the coronavirus pandemic, he covers for himself and sets the states up for blame. Federalism is the cover story for what can't or won't be said. It's the history many of us learned about as children and unlearned as adults: redemptive but wrong.
Tuesday, April 7, 2020

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