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home : opinion : editorial August 3, 2020

Will the center hold? It must
I am hearing a worried buzz about our republic not holding together, something I have never in my long life encountered before. Some (many?) on the “left” worry about President Trump calling the election invalid and holding onto power. From the “right” comes concerns that those leading and supporting groups like Antifa and Black Lives Matter hope to build their protests into insurrection.

Over a beer recently after tennis, I could not help but overhear most of a conversation in the booth next to ours. An intense Trump supporter was loudly expressing such fears of insurrection from the far left. As if to clinch it, he added: “Bill Gates and George Soros are trying to take over the world, you know.” He was serious.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

The land of plenty sinks into anxiety
A friend and I shared the same consumer frustration -- and guilt over having it. We each wanted a bike rack for our cars but could not obtain our first choices.

"I wanted to order a 1UP bike rack," my pal, who used to manufacture sports equipment, said. "Sold out and won't take orders until August 29th."

Friday, July 31, 2020

Thirty years of access for those with disabilities
Some 83 years ago, a group of disgruntled Americans organized a sit-in at a broom shop here. There were 107 of them, and their spokesman said, "We are only asking for our legal rights." Their sit-in was in the tradition begun by the radical International Workers of the World, and their action was the physical expression of what the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. would say the day before he was killed: that by sitting in, protesters were standing up.
Wednesday, July 29, 2020

The disgrace of Portland
If only mobs were allowed to destroy federal property without consequence.

Then, there wouldn't have to be any dispute over federal agents defending a federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon; it could simply be overrun and burned to the ground with no unwelcome resistance.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The many dangers of voting by mail
President Trump has said many times that voting by mail -- which will play a big role in this November's presidential election -- is vulnerable to fraud. "There is tremendous evidence of fraud whenever you have mail-in ballots," Trump has noted. The November election, he added, "will be, in my opinion, the most corrupt election in the history of our country."

Democrats and many in the press have pushed back hard. Trump's claims are "false" and "baseless" and "preposterous" and "debunked," they said. Voting by mail is safe and reliable.

Monday, July 27, 2020

This is Mike Madigan's last hurrah
ILLINOIS — As one who scribbles largely about things Illinois, I feel almost obligated to observe on the bombshell (certainly for the small fraternity that follows Illinois politics) news that utility ComEd has agreed to pay a $200 million fine for bribery of Illinois officials. The announcement by the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago identifies Illinois House Speaker Mike the ultimate object of the bribery.
Saturday, July 25, 2020

In defense of Liz Cheney
In this summer of Republican discontent, a handful of GOP House members have identified what's ailing the party: Liz Cheney.
Friday, July 24, 2020

Those who want a COVID shot deserve to get it first
Will there be a vaccine against coronavirus? Eventually, we pray. But in this age of unreason, undue attention is already being paid to those who may refuse protection against this often-fatal disease.
Friday, July 24, 2020

The disgrace of Portland
If only mobs were allowed to destroy federal property without consequence.

Then, there wouldn't have to be any dispute over federal agents defending a federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon; it could simply be overrun and burned to the ground with no unwelcome resistance.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Those who want a COVID shot deserve to get it first
Will there be a vaccine against coronavirus? Eventually, we pray. But in this age of unreason, undue attention is already being paid to those who may refuse protection against this often-fatal disease.
Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Illinois has not been well managed; would a crash-and-burn help?
As I walked a country road near my rural town this past week, a local slowed his pickup alongside me.. “We’re moving to Florida, Jim.” He paused, then: “Illinois is not well managed, you know.” Three weeks ago, a hugely successful commodities trader friend, who lives in splendor on a big swath of Lake Michigan in Lake Forest, called: “Jim, we’re moving to Florida. It’s the taxes and the weather. And I can work from there.”
Monday, July 20, 2020

November's outcome is as uncertain as ever
Consumer warning: Before you get locked into a narrative about how the presidential election will unfold, consider what happened the other day in Maine and Alabama.

Neither event was particularly remarkable or surprising. You could see each of them coming from a lobster boat off the Atlantic coastline (now is the traditional height of the crustaceans' vacation-time consumption) or a shrimper in the Gulf of Mexico (the state's brown shrimp season opened six weeks ago). But these results tell us something nonetheless.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Bastille Day: The beginning of liberal madness
This Tuesday, the French celebrated Bastille Day, the mob attack on a Parisian prison that has come to symbolize the French Revolution, a period of massive violence that produced nothing other than a lot of dead Frenchmen. Their revolution was the screech of a mob, much as we are seeing in several of our own cities and towns today. So let's review this absurdly celebrated event.

As is common with mob violence, the storming of the Bastille was set off by a rumor. People began to whisper that the impotent, indecisive king, Louis XVI, was going to attack the new legislative body, the National Assembly.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Joe Biden's shockingly adequate campaign
The Biden campaign has been lucky most of all, but it’s also been smart, at least smart enough.

To go, as Joe Biden did, from left for dead to sweeping to the nomination and quickly thereafter emerging as the favorite in November is a run of success that would be the envy of any national politician.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Is remote work the road to downward mobility?
When I was a wee business reporter, I covered manufacturing in southern New England. Costume jewelry, a major industry then, has largely decamped to cheap-labor countries.

But I recall the vast differences in the quality of these mostly low-skilled jobs. At the top were great employers, offering decent wages and clean working spaces. From there, one descended to the sweatshops, some with puddles of nasty electroplating chemicals on the floor. At or near the bottom dwelled the home workers, people who would glue the backs of earrings to the fronts, often in their unventilated basements. They were paid by piecework, which meant by the number of earrings assembled, not hours worked.

Friday, July 17, 2020

There's nothing new about Roger Stone clemency
Many Democrats, along with some in the press and a few Republicans, have expressed outrage at President Trump's commutation of political operative Roger Stone's jail sentence for lying to Congress and witness tampering. GOP Sen. Mitt Romney, the only senator ever to vote to remove a president of his own party, was particularly outraged.

"Unprecedented, historic corruption," Romney tweeted. "An American president commutes the sentence of a person convicted by a jury of lying to shield that very president."

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

New York is not a COVID-19 model
If only the rest of the country could handle COVID-19 as well as New York.
Tuesday, July 14, 2020

With Trump, bypass media coverage and judge for yourself
That much news coverage is biased against President Trump goes without saying. But every now and then there comes an episode of bias so egregious that it deserves attention. The coverage of the president's July 3 speech at Mount Rushmore is one of those episodes.
Monday, July 13, 2020

Political Prosecution: Donald Trump Vs. the United States Supreme Court
Monday, July 13, 2020

Welcome to my Garden of Heroes
In this month of national introspection, and as the air is full of the thump! of toppled statues, President Trump proposed creating a national statuary park. His gallery of American heroes reflects his inclinations and impulses -- several unavoidable pioneers, such as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and baseball pathfinder Jackie Robinson, along with 29 others, mostly white and Republican.
Saturday, July 11, 2020

Zuckerberg is right
Mark Zuckerberg clearly hasn't gotten the memo. The founder of Facebook persists in defending free expression, even though free speech has fallen decidedly out of fashion.
Friday, July 10, 2020

I'm a direct5 descendant of 13 Revolutionary patriots. Deport Lucian Truscott
Fascinating news from The New York Times this week! Reviewing its op-ed titled "I'm a Direct Descendant of Thomas Jefferson. Take Down His Memorial," I gather we now weigh Americans' opinions based on who their ancestors are.
Thursday, July 9, 2020

Data released shows governors' companies among recipients of virus relief loans
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Governors who ordered shutdowns as their states responded to the coronavirus pandemic were among millions of beneficiaries of the loan program created to help small businesses weather COVID-19’s effect on the economy, data released Monday show.
Tuesday, July 7, 2020

A triumph at Mount Rushmore
If nothing else, President Donald Trump's July Fourth speech at Mount Rushmore clarified the battle lines of our culture war.
Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Virus or economy is a futile choice
Florida, Arizona, Texas and California are among the states that thought they could reopen early. They also got sloppy with requirements for wearing masks and social distancing. Now their ICUs are stretched to breaking with coronavirus patients.
Tuesday, July 7, 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

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