Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Name of the Day...

...belongs to Professor William A. Birdthistle of Chicago-Kent College of Law.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Eight divided by forty...

...equals .20, or twenty percent. That little bit of math is included in the price of this (free) blog.

Here's another: twelve divided by forty is .30, or thirty percent.

Where am I going with this? Next week I turn 58. Optimistically, I have only 40 years left on the planet. (And whether or not that's optimistic is the subject of another post.)

I had a conversation with a Bernie Sanders supporter this week about the upcoming election. And, if I understood him correctly, he didn't see the urgency in voting for Hillary in order to prevent Trump from attaining the White House. Again, if I understood his argument, there wasn't enough of a difference between Hillary and the Republicans in the first place, and if Trump were elected it might actually pave the way for a better president in four or eight years, much as the disaster of W.'s administration led to the election of Obama.

It's an interesting idea and one in which I'll bet many "Bernie or Busters" subscribe. (It's also a little Marxist: blow up the current system in order to achieve something better.)

And that's where my little math problem(s) come(s) in.

I'm currently reading The Coming of the Third Reich, by Richard J. Evans, above. And, in the last thousand or so years of German history, the twelve years of Nazi rule were really just a drop in the bucket. But if you were, say, 58 years old in 1933, the next twelve years were thirty percent of your remaining life. (That's assuming, of course, that you lived to be 98 -- or lived through the Nazi years at all.)

And my point is that I don't have eight -- or even four -- years to squander on a Trump presidency. In the best case scenario, two terms of the Donald would be twenty percent of my remaining life.

And this is also why, I think, people don't necessarily get more liberal or more conservative as they get older; they get more pragmatic. When I was young I wanted to change the world and create a libertarian society. Then, as I got older, I realized it was a pipe dream and that the problems of today need to be solved today (or soon). I don't have fifty or a hundred years to wait.

If Trump really does get elected and "blows things up," which I don't doubt he would, I'll be 66 years old when he leaves office. I'll need Social Security, Medicare and, oh, a functioning country at that time. Now the next president who follows a Trump mess (and it would be a mess -- yikes!) might be the Second Coming of Obama, but that would be too late for me.

So I'll vote for Hillary in November. I think she'll continue the legacy of Obama and maybe -- who knows? -- even improve on it a little. But the most important thing to me is keeping someone so obviously unqualified for the office as Trump out of that office.

And Bernie Sanders will still have plenty of influence on Clinton as a senator from Vermont (and a possible challenger in 2020).

To paraphrase one of our Founding Fathers, "Give me incrementalism, or give me something close to it!" I'm with Her.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Ben Howe, a contributor... the conservative blog, is quoted in a piece on FiveThirtyEight this morning, "The End Of A Republican Party: Racial and cultural resentment have replaced the party’s small government ethos."

Talking about the Tea Party (my emphasis):

“This isn’t the most artful way to say it, but it’s like, where do you go when the only people who seem to agree with you on taxes hate black people?” Howe laughed ruefully. “I think what you do is you say, ‘Well, I may lose but I can’t align myself with them.’

But instead, Howe said, he made moral compromises he regrets.

“There are some things that I don’t have core values about, that I can be negotiable on, compromise on. But then there are other things that I can’t budge on,” he said. “I think I thought I had to budge on some things: ‘Yeah, this guy talking to me right now just said he agrees with my taxes and also we need to get that Kenyan out of office.’ Why did I stand there and say, ‘Yeah’? You know? I shouldn’t have done that. I should’ve said, ‘Wait, what? No, that’s stupid. You’re stupid. Don’t be stupid.’

And isn't that one of the main problems with today's Republican Party? Instead of standing up to the crazies (as William F. Buckley famously did with the John Birch Society a couple of generations ago), the modern-day Republican "leaders" encouraged their behavior, thinking they could control them. And now, with the ascendance of Donald Trump, they've discovered that the most repugnant members of the GOP coalition control them.

Too bad someone like Mitch McConnell or John Boehner or John McCain or Mitt Romney hadn't said something back in 2009 like, "Rush Limbaugh is wrong to say he hopes the president fails. If the president fails then we all fail. We need to work with Obama to see that the country thrives."


"Calm down, everyone! Health care reform isn't a 'government takeover of health care.' In fact, it's very similar to what Republicans did in Massachusetts. Let's work with the president to get a bill to our liking."


"Donald Trump should just shut up about the president's birth certificate. Everyone knows Obama was born in Hawaii, not Kenya. Let's focus instead on solving problems and making life better for the average American."

But instead they chose to ride the Tea Party tiger and now find themselves, not the Democrats, inside the tiger's belly. And they also find themselves in a shrinking, not growing, Republican Party.

They have no one to blame but themselves.

Friday, July 15, 2016

For all those who...

...are freaking out about Hillary Clinton's recent soft poll numbers, just remember that the country is essentially divided about 50/50 Republican/Democrat and that the race would probably have ended up close anyway.

The most important factors in November will be the perceived health of the economy (good enough to elect Mrs. Clinton), President Obama's approval ratings (which seemed to rise just around the time that Trump and Hillary became the apparent nominees -- go figure!) and whether or not there's a significant terror/national security event in the fall.

Need more reassuring? Democrats have won five of the last six popular votes, their demographics continue to improve, and they have a big advantage in the Electoral College.

Don't be too surprised if the results look a lot like the election of 2008, above, or 2012, below.

Edmond L. Browning, the presiding bishop...

...of the Episcopal Church from 1986 to 1997, died at age 87.

While Browning's obit in the New York Times isn't particularly remarkable, it's a reminder to me of the evolution of organized religion in America -- in particular the decline of the Episcopal Church -- during my lifetime.

If the United States had ever had an "established" church it would have been the Episcopal. In fact, before the Revolution the Church of England was designated the established church in no less than six colonies: Virginia, New York, Maryland, South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia. Once known as "the Republican party at prayer," the denomination counted the most presidents (eleven), the most Supreme Court justices (35) and as many as three-quarters of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. (Not only are there no Episcopalians left on the Supreme Court, but for the first time ever there isn't even one Protestant.)

Membership in the Episcopal Church peaked at about 3.4 million in the mid-1960s, shortly after I was born. The high estimate -- the high estimate -- of today's membership is around three million, or a little less than one percent of Americans.

But what a one percent it is (my emphasis):

Episcopalians tend to be considerably wealthier and better educated than most other religious groups in America, and are disproportionately represented in the upper reaches of American business, law and politics, historically in the Republican Party, but more recently, the Democratic Party in large proportions as well. In the 1970s, a Fortune magazine study found one-in-five of the country's largest businesses and one-in-three of its largest banks was run by an Episcopalian. Numbers of the most wealthy and affluent American families as the Vanderbilts, Astors, Whitneys, Morgans and Harrimans are Episcopalians. The Episcopal Church also has the highest number of graduate and post-graduate degrees per capita (56%) of any other Christian denomination in the United States, as well as the most high-income earners.

The key phrase there is "in the 1970s." (If you'll recall, Jerry Ford, an Episcopalian, was president then. I wonder if any of his kids still are.) But "the Vanderbilts, Astors, Whitneys, Morgans and Harrimans" sounds a little dated. I mean, where is the reference to the Buffetts, Gateses, Jobses, Bezozes or either of those two guys who founded Google? Do you think any of them are Episcopalians? I wonder if any have ever even been in an Episcopal church.

What's the moral of the story here? I don't know; like the movie above says, things change. (Great flick, by the way.) Maybe Bishop Browning died while the dying was good. Who knows? In a few more decades there may not be any Episcopalians left at all.

They had a great run, though, didn't they?

Michael Crawford, whose cartoons...

...appeared in The New Yorker, died at age 70.

The Name of the Day...

...belongs to James M. Fee, a lawyer in the New York office of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Frank Bruni begins...

...his excellent column in the New York Times today by saying (my emphasis):

I have many qualms about Barack Obama’s presidency. I worry that he exhausted too much political capital too soon on Obamacare. That he overcorrected for his predecessor’s foreign debacle. That he wore his disdain for Congress too conspicuously.

I'll leave those last two qualms for another post. But I can't let that first one go without a comment.

If I remember correctly (and I'm too lazy to Google it right now), before the financial crisis hit in the fall of 2008 polls showed that the most pressing domestic issue was health care reform.

(Do I really have to repeat that universal health care was brought up by Theodore Roosevelt about a hundred years ago? Or that Bismarck brought it to Germany in the nineteenth century?)

When President Obama was inaugurated in 2009 he had a very small window in which Democrats controlled the House and had a super-majority in the Senate. (Remember that Al Franken wasn't sworn in until July of that year? And that Scott Brown took office the following February?) He really had just a slim chance to get it right -- and he did.

Now Obama will go down in history as the president who finally passed universal health care in America. Joe Biden was right: it's a Big Deal. I predict it will go down in history as his greatest accomplishment.

So if not on health care reform what does Mr. Bruni think President Obama should have been spending his political capital? Should Obama -- as he has been often criticized -- been more focused on the economy? One of the first things he did was pass the largest stimulus bill in history! (And saved the auto industry to boot.) How much more "focused" should he have been?

Seriously, what else should President Obama have been doing with his political capital in 2009 besides saving the US economy and passing the most consequential domestic reform since Medicare?

How about a column on that, Mr. Bruni?

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Theresa May is expected... assume the role of British Prime Minister tomorrow. (That's her in the snazzy Black Watch blazer.)

Could the leaders of Germany, the UK and the United States all soon be women?

Looks a little different from this:

In case you missed... yesterday, it looks like Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana (right) will be announced as Donald Trump's running mate sometime this week. (The GOP convention starts next Monday.)

Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia (left), meanwhile, is still the odds-on favorite to be Hillary's vice president.

Gov. Pence, a former Congressman, was once a right-wing radio host in Indiana and has been described as "Rush Limbaugh on decaf." I get why Trump would want him: he has Washington experience, is a "true conservative," would reassure the party establishment and could actually serve in the Oval Office if called upon. He's a great "get" for Trump.

Why Pence would want the job, though, is a bit of a mystery to me. The Donald is bound to get crushed in November; why would anyone with a future in Republican politics want to hitch their wagon to his star?

Monday, July 11, 2016

Oswego East went 6-3...

...last year before losing to Geneva, 36-19, in the first round of the playoffs. (The Vikings, 9-2, lost the following week to Bradley-Bourbonnais, 41-22.)

The Wolves beat West Chicago, Marian Catholic, Plainfield South, Plainfield Central, Minooka and Romeoville by a combined score of 167-38. They lost to Plainfield North, Plainfield East and Oswego by a combined score of 78-49.

Why do I bring this up today? Why do I care? More importantly, why should you care?

Good question. I noticed on this morning that Oswego East is the only school with a top prospect at both quarterback, Jaylon Banks, and at running back, Ivory Kelly-Martin, above. (Elijah James is also listed, at defensive end.)

The Iowa-bound Kelly-Martin, the leading rusher on Nazareth's Class 5A state championship team last year, transferred to Oswego East in January. From the Chicago Tribune:

Ivory Kelly-Martin had 190 carries for 1,972 yards and 33 touchdowns for Nazareth last season. He carried 13 times for 170 yards and four touchdowns in the Roadrunners' 42-21 championship game victory over Lincoln-Way West Nov. 28 in DeKalb. His second TD in the game for 96 yards set an IHSA title-game record for any class for the longest run from scrimmage.

Now, admittedly, I don't know anything else about the Wolves. But on paper, they have to have one of the most formidable offenses in the state with Banks and Kelly-Martin in the backfield. Do they have a good offensive line? Do they have anyone for Banks to throw to? Is there anyone on defense besides James? I have no idea.

But these guys are officially on my radar.

Will I drive all the way out to Oswego to see them play? Maybe. Their first big test should be at Plainfield North on September 23. The Tigers were 6-4 in 2015 and handed Oswego East its first loss of the season, 28-9, in Week Three. Can the Wolves avenge last year's defeat? If they're 4-0 going into that contest it may be worth the trip.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Last week I wrote...

...a post about blacks, whites and gun control in which I repeated my suspicion that the Second Amendment is being used to protect fearful whites from a modern-day slave rebellion. (Skip to 6:35 in the clip above.)

This morning I read in the Times, "Minnesota Officer Was ‘Reacting to the Presence of a Gun,’ Lawyer Says" (all emphasis mine):

A lawyer for the suburban police officer who fatally shot a black man during a traffic stop said on Saturday that the race of the driver, Philando Castile, played no role in how his client responded, and that the officer “was reacting to the presence of a gun” when he opened fire.

“The shooting had nothing to do with race and everything to do with the presence of that gun,” Mr. Kelly said in an interview, noting that Officer Yanez is Latino.

In that video, in which Mr. Castile is seen bleeding profusely in the driver’s seat, Ms. Reynolds tells the officer that her boyfriend had been reaching for his identification when he was shot. She also suggested that he had a permit to legally carry a gun.

And I thought, Has the NRA come to this man's defense? (I don't follow these sorts of things closely so I really don't know.)

I googled "NRA Philando Castile" and came up with this piece in the Atlantic, "The Second Amendment's Second-Class Citizens: Black citizens of the United States have seldom enjoyed the same right to bear arms that whites do."

On social-media, many are already asking why the Second Amendment did not protect Sterling and Castile, and why gun-rights advocates like the National Rifle Association are not speaking out on their behalf. In each case, there are complicated legal questions, and many of the details remain unclear, but it is true that gun-rights groups like the NRA and its allies have typically pushed for laws that would allow citizens broader freedom to bear arms than currently permitted. It is also the case that the interpretation of the Second Amendment has for decades been deeply intertwined with the ways the law protects—and more often fails to protect—African Americans in comparison with whites, a history that begins in earnest in the 1860s, flares up in the 1960s, and is again relevant today.

The two shootings give a strong sense that the Second Amendment does not apply to black Americans in the same way it does to white Americans. Although liberals are loath to think of the right to bear arms as a civil right, it’s spelled out in the Bill of Rights. Like other civil rights, the nation and courts have interpreted it differently over time—as an individual right, and as a collective right. But however it’s been applied, African Americans have historically not enjoyed nearly the same protection as their white fellow citizens.

In 1967, Black Panthers began taking advantage of California laws that permitted open carry, walking the streets of Oakland armed to the teeth, citing threats of violence from white people and particularly white cops. When people were pulled over, Panthers would arrive on the scene—to ensure that justice was done, they argued, or to intimidate the cops, the cops contended. In response, Republican state Assemblyman Don Mulford introduced a bill to ban open carry. The Panthers then decided to go to the state capitol, heavily armed, to exercise their right.

As theater, it was an incredible gesture. As politics, it was a catastrophe. The sight of heavily armed black men brandishing rifles galvanized support for Mulford’s bill, which promptly passed and was signed into law by Governor Ronald Reagan.

P. S. By the way, remember when the NRA's Wayne LaPierre said, "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun"? How well did that work in Dallas?

Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Name of the Day... a tie between two street artists, Alexandre Farto (who also goes by the name Vhils), above, and Mr. Brainwash, which is a name used by French-born, Los Angeles-based Thierry Guetta, below.

Can't imagine why Mr. Farto has an alias.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Who is this Jeff Flake guy...

...who got into it with Donald Trump yesterday? Well, it turns out that the junior senator from Arizona was born in a town called Snowflake, Arizona.

I know what you're thinking: What are the odds?

According to Wikipedia:

His birth town was named in part for his great-great-grandfather, Mormon pioneer William J. Flake.

And that may explain something else: Flake is a Mormon, and it seems that Mormons -- most famously Mitt Romney -- are really, really uncomfortable with Donald Trump.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

What would be your... word to describe Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump?

Mine would be:

Hillary -- "Capable."
Trump -- "Buffoon."

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Fourth of July is over.

Time to start thinking about high school football!

Here are just a few intriguing Week One games (with last year's records in parentheses):

East Moline (United) (2-7) at LaSalle-Peru (3-6)*;
Brother Rice (10-2) at Marist (9-5) at Soldier Field;
East St. Louis (3-6) at Providence (3-6)**;
Montini (14-0) at Maine South (8-3);
St. Laurence (10-3) at Benet (8-3);
Simeon (9-4) at Oak Park River Forest (9-2);
Jacobs (7-3) at Huntley (10-1); and
Prairie Ridge (11-2) at Cary-Grove (11-2).

That last one looks particularly interesting.

* Admittedly not the best matchup of the evening, but it takes place at Howard Fellows Stadium (above) which is on my bucket list.

** Don't let those 3-6 records fool you; these are two perennial powers.

One of the many ridiculous...

...things Donald Trump has said in the past year (and, really, there are too many to count) is that Mitt Romney somehow "choked" in 2012.

This is a particularly pernicious meme for Republicans because it feeds into their delusional belief that A) President Obama has been an ineffectual chief executive who was an eminently beatable incumbent; and B) If the GOP could only nominate the right candidate the White House would be theirs for the taking.

I can't find the original National Review piece by Ramesh Ponnuru, but here's the gist of it (my emphasis):

Romney was not a drag on the Republican party. The Republican party was a drag on him. Aaron Blake pointed out in the Washington Post that Romney ran ahead of most of the Republican Senate candidates: He did better than Connie Mack in Florida, George Allen in Virginia, Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin, Denny Rehberg in Montana, Jeff Flake in Arizona, Pete Hoekstra in Michigan, Deb Fischer in Nebraska, Rick Berg in North Dakota, Josh Mandel in Ohio, and of course Todd Akin in Missouri and Richard Mourdock in Indiana. In some cases Romney did a lot better. (He also did slightly better than Ted Cruz in Texas, a race Blake for some reason ignored.)

Now ask yourself: Who could have done better against Obama in 2012? Newt Gingrich? Rick Santorum? Ron Paul?


The truth is that President Obama has done a really good job in the face of unconscionable Republican opposition. No one could have beaten him in 2012.

Here's a Venn Diagram...

...that illustrates the intersection of Illinois high school football fans (in red) with supporters of President Obama (blue).

(In reality, the purple section should be quite smaller.)

This may go part of the way to explain why this blog never went viral. (It's nichey.)

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:

The Name of the Day...

...belongs to Geoffrey Boycott, a famous British cricket player.

I thought that was an unusual surname when I came across it in a profile of Theresa May, the front-runner to become Britain’s next prime minister, so I did a little digging.

According to Surname Database (my emphasis):

The surname first came to real prominence in the 19th century through the activities of Captain Charles Boycott (1832 - 1897). He was the land agent to the earl of Erne in County Mayo, Ireland, and was 'socially excommunicated' for his refusal to bow to the growing power of the Land League in Ireland. He gave his name to the verb 'to boycott,' a term which it is said, is now used in every European language.

They say you learn something new every day. I can go back to bed now.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Noel Neill, who played...

...Lois Lane in the old 1950s Superman TV series, died at age 95. (Jack Larson, who played Jimmy Olsen, died less than a year ago at 87.)

Besides playing a character with an alliterative name such as her own (what are the chances?), Ms. Neill also had a background in journalism:

Noel Neill was born in Minneapolis on Nov. 25, 1920, the daughter of David Neill, a newspaperman who became the news editor of what is now The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and his wife, LaVere, a former dancer and singer.

Although Noel sang and played the banjo at fairs as a child, she had planned to follow in her father’s footsteps as a journalist. 

I wonder if anyone ever called her father "Chief"?

But some of her fans must have been just a little confused:

Women often told Ms. Neill that they had been inspired to go into journalism by seeing her character work as an equal alongside newspapermen...

Maybe they should have been more inspired to go into acting.

Yesterday, in response to...

...a post I wrote about guns, fear and race, a reader tweeted to me:

2000 shootings in Chicago so far in 2016 hope you're strapped because it wasn't white suburban people doing all that shooting.

(When I was at my brother's house in Minnesota last week he asked me what people who read my blog for the posts on high school football thought of my liberal politics. I guess we have our answer.

Actually, I'm impressed that this guy reads my stuff at all. In this Internet age most people -- including me, if I'm being honest -- only read what reinforces what they already believe. So kudos to him.)

It's hard to know where to begin, but I guess my first response to this tweet is that I've never owned a gun and probably never will. (The only time I've ever even fired a rifle was up at Boy Scout camp in northern Wisconsin with my son. He hit a clay pigeon on his very first try!)

As far as I'm concerned, guns are dangerous, especially to those who own them. And don't give me that baloney, "If you're properly trained, blah, blah, blah..." I worry most about the people who think they're qualified to carry a weapon.

Second, only one person in my family has ever been shot and killed by a gun, and it was by another white guy and it happened in the suburbs. But more on that in a minute.

Should I be afraid to live in the city? Should I be "strapped"? I don't know. Maybe. But I wrote a post on this very subject a couple of months ago.
According to the Times piece:
Chicago has long wrestled with guns and gangs, and the splintering of large gangs into smaller, disparate groups had added to the bloodshed that largely plays out on the South and West Sides. As of late April, murders were up 54 percent from last year, and shootings were up by 70 percent.
Oh, so it's a "gang" thing. Or, more specifically, a "drug trade" thing. I seem to remember reading that ever since the Feds broke up the dominant gang in the local drug trade several other gangs have been fighting over "market share" in the "industry."
Makes me kind of wonder what would happen to gun violence in Chicago if they ever legalized drugs. My great-uncle Tom "Red" Duffy was a small-time bootlegger who was shot and killed by Al Capone's gang back in the 1920s. (Capone, himself, was thought to have pulled the trigger. Talk about "high barriers to entry!") Funny, though, ever since Prohibition was repealed all of my family members have died of natural causes. Go figure.
So what's my point? The city is a dangerous place, no doubt about it. But is it because of race, drugs, gangs, poverty, guns -- what? From an article in yesterday's Tribune:

A complex mix of factors is driving the violence. But much of the bloodshed can be linked to gang conflict over everything from petty disputes to control of drug dealing, as well as the splintering of gangs into smaller cliques fighting over a few blocks at a time and easy access to guns, experts say.

Yet there are deeper societal problems at play as well, including long histories of poverty, joblessness, segregation and neglect in these crime-ridden neighborhoods.

The makeup of Chicago's gangs has changed dramatically over the years. They once were massive organizations with powerful leaders and hundreds of members who controlled large chunks of territory. Now small cliques battle for control over a few blocks.

Veteran officers say the fractured nature of gangs has made life more chaotic on the street, with rivals sometimes living just a few blocks apart.

Now back to my great-uncle, Tom "Red" Duffy. According to family lore he was a barber, in his mid-twenties and married with a young daughter. (The family disowned his widow and child -- it must have been her fault that he strayed from the strait and narrow!) I looked him up once on and his occupation was listed as "cigar salesman." This would make more sense. My father-in-law was also a cigar salesman and traveled the bar/saloon/tavern circuit in Wisconsin (after Prohibition). So Duffy probably took orders for cigars in the front and for booze in the back.

On the night he was killed -- again, by another white guy in the suburbs -- his body was taken to West Suburban Hospital in Oak Park (where I was born, incidentally). His sister, my great-aunt, was a nurse on duty. Can you imagine that?

"Hey, we got a couple of stiffs here."

"That's my little brother!"

And how about those proper WASP doctors of Oak Park? You know, the town that Ernest Hemingway once described as having "broad lawns and narrow minds"?

"F*****g Irish! Always drinking and causing trouble. Well, here's at least one mick who won't be a problem any more."

(We were barely considered "white" back then.)

But a few years later FDR repealed the Eighteenth Amendment, my family went straight (bad risk/reward ratio!) and I was eventually born (and raised) in the suburbs.

Now, if you think I'm being more than just a little self-righteous you could ask me why I chose to move to the suburbs back in 1992 and raise my own kids there. Fair question. And my answer would be something along the lines of better schools and, yes, safety. Does that make me a hypocrite? Maybe. (I've been called worse.)

But I hope -- I hope -- unlike my own father I never said to myself, "Too many blacks here." While I think pretty much all whites are at least a little racist, I also like to think that even though I'm not color-blind I'd like to be. Maybe that's the best you can do.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Robert Parkinson asks... the Times this morning, "Did a Fear of Slave Revolts Drive American Independence?"

The piece brings up something I've been thinking about for some time now: Isn't an imminent "slave rebellion" nearly always a source of fear in the white community?

Take gun control, for example. I maintain that the real reason that people (white people, to be exact) want guns is to be prepared for that "slave rebellion" that's always just around the corner. Or, to update it, to protect themselves against rioting blacks (or at least the one that's bound and determined to break into their house and either kill them or rape their wives and daughters).

(As for that last point, ask yourself: If that Stanford rapist had been black do you really think he would have gotten such a light sentence?)

I'm a big believer that fear of blacks motivates much of what white people do on a regular basis. (Like moving to the suburbs.) So the premise of that piece in the Times doesn't surprise me too much.

Prediction: the next eight years...

...will look a lot like the previous eight years.

A front-page article in the Times today, "‘President Hillary Clinton?’ She Wants Progress on Immigration and to Drink With G.O.P.," suggests otherwise (all emphasis mine):

Should she win the presidency, Hillary Clinton would quickly try to find common ground with Republicans on an immigration overhaul...

Good God! Immigration is the most motivating issue for Republicans today. First it took down Eric Cantor and then it handed Donald Trump the nomination. There is no way the GOP is going to move on immigration.

Mrs. Clinton would even schmooze differently than the past few presidents have. Not one to do business over golf or basketball, she would bring back the intimate style of former Presidents Ronald Reagan and Lyndon B. Johnson, negotiating over adult beverages. Picture a steady stream of senators, congressmen and other leaders raising a glass and talking policy in the Oval Office with her and her likely chief of staff, John D. Podesta, as her husband pops in with a quick thought or a disarming compliment.

Deeply confident that she would perform better as the president than as a political candidate, Mrs. Clinton wants to pursue a whole new approach at the White House to try to break through years of partisan gridlock, according to a dozen campaign advisers and allies who described her goals and outlook. From policy goals and personnel to her instinct for patiently cultivating the enemy, Mrs. Clinton thinks she would be a better dealmaker than President Obama if she finds willing partners on the other side.

Good luck with that! The Republicans, who have been blindly obstructionist for President Obama's entire two terms, are going to suddenly change their ways and do business with . . . Hillary? Are you kidding? They hate her as much, or more, than Obama. What are they smoking in Brooklyn?

Allies of Mrs. Clinton’s say they could imagine her, as president-elect, going to Mr. Ryan’s office this year to start talking about immigration. She believes in gestures: When Mrs. Clinton was working on the health care overhaul bill during President Bill Clinton’s first term, John Kasich, then a ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee, asked one of her aides if Mrs. Clinton would ever consider coming over to Capitol Hill to talk to Republicans about her ideas.

“I said I’d ask her, and she was eager to go, which I think shows a willingness to get things done,” said the aide, Melanne Verveer, who became Mrs. Clinton’s White House chief of staff.

Oh, and then health care reform was Dead On Arrival on Capitol Hill. Lotta good all that schmoozing did! Sheesh.

(Besides, if Paul Ryan is so much as seen in the same room as a President Hillary Clinton it will be his last day as speaker.)

No, the next eight years are going to look a lot like the last. Until Democrats can take back both houses of Congress (and get a 60-vote super-majority in the Senate) gridlock is here to stay. But, if they can somehow pull a "California" and win back all three branches of government (after the 2020 census at the earliest), we may actually see some progress on the federal level.

Until then, however, don't hold your breath.

Happy Fourth of July!

I'm back at my desk in Chicago and have two thoughts for you on my return.

The first is from a book review in yesterday's Times: What if everything you think you know is wrong?

The book, But What If We're Wrong?: Thinking About the Present as if It Were the Past, is by Chuck Klosterman.

The first sentence (all emphasis mine):

The premise of this book can be succinctly stated: Most of what we believe is likely to be wrong.

It's not a favorable review, but it's an interesting topic.

Consider the phenomenon of gravity. Aristotle attributed it to an innate striving of all solid things toward their natural place at the center of the earth (which for him was also the center of the cosmos). A couple of millenniums later, Newton overthrew the Aristotelian theory. This moves Klosterman to ask, “If mankind could believe something false was objectively true for 2,000 years, why do we reflexively assume that our current understanding of gravity — which we’ve embraced for a mere 350 — will somehow exist forever?”

It’s a good question. Philosophers of science talk about the “pessimistic ­meta-induction”: If all our past scientific theories have turned out to be wrong, our current theories are bound to be wrong too. 

My second thought of the day? Don't live to be 96.