Charleston, the Republican right, and the lessons of Martin Luther King

It’s a hard life, it’s a hard life
It’s a very hard life
It’s a hard life wherever you go
If we poison our children with hatred
And there ain’t no place in Belfast for that kid to go

A cafeteria line in Chicago
The fat man in front of me
Is calling black people trash to his children
And he’s the only trash here I see

And I’m thinking this man wears a white hood
In the night when the children should sleep
But, they’ll slip to their window and they’ll see him
And they’ll think that white hood’s all they need

It’s a hard life, it’s a hard life
It’s a very hard life
It’s a hard life wherever you go
If we poison our children with hatred
Then, the hard life is all that they’ll know
And there ain’t no place in Chicago for those kids to go

– Nanci Griffith, “It’s A Hard Life Wherever You Go”


By now few people, perhaps with the exception of the talking heads on FOX, are claiming that there was anything random or mysterious about the brutal murder of nine innocent African American people on the hallowed ground of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. The facts are in and irrefutable. A 21-year-old white man poisoned by racist hatred decided that he was going to murder African American people in a sacred and historic place and he proceeded to cold-bloodedly do it.

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Game of the week

No hesitations here! It’s Nick Saban’s ‘Bama versus Les Miles’ Tigers of Louisiana State. The game is in Tuscalooussa, which gives Alabama an edge. Many experts are saying that the game pits LSU’s very special running back Leonard Fournette against Alabama’s defense, a defense that is considered the best in the country. But my suspicion is that Alabama’s interior seven on defense and LSU’s running game will play each other to z standstill and the game’s outcome, therefore, will pivot on quarterback play and special teams. And here the Crimson Tide hax the advantage. In any case, it should be a great game.

Football at this level is anything but amateur. It’s a big time cash cow for universities, such as Alabama and LSU, and a full time occupation for players (who don’t get paid) and coaches (who do and quite well). And we’re finding out, moreover, that the danger of long-term brain trauma for players is acute. But this blogger has to admit that he still likes the sport. And for now I have a lot of company. If we have a national pastime it’s football – professional as well as college. Baseball fell off that perch years ago.

Chuy Garcia and the right to a city

“Chuy Garcia and the right to a city” first appeared on on March 27, 2015. Read it on

Chicago is abuzz these days as incumbent Mayor Rahm Emanuel is in an unexpected and fiercely competitive election runoff with challenger and longtime progressive Latino leader Jesus “Chuy” Garcia. What was supposed to have been a waltz into a second term for Emanuel has turned into a fight for his political life.

Garcia got a late start, is behind in the polls, has nothing close to the deep pockets or name recognition of Emanuel, and is up against the city’s political establishment and “Gold Coast,” but – and this is what makes the Windy City’s elites lose sleep at night – he is gathering momentum and support from many unions and community leaders and organizations. And it is entirely possible that he comes out on top when the ballots are counted on April 7.

Here’s why.

Obama and the politics of outrage

“Obama and the politics of outrage” first appeared on on February 9, 2015. Read it on

Some of the commentary from the left on President’s Obama’s recent State of the Union address struck me as too negative, even cynical in a few instances. It’s said that the speech was at once too little, too late, and too celebratory. Some left critics went further, claiming that it was nothing but idle, and even deceptive, chatter since the president knew that any progressive initiatives in his speech are dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled 93rd Congress.

A season’s reflections on socialism

“A season’s reflections on socialism” first appeared on on December 23, 2014. Read it on

This season, besides gaiety, good food and drink (and may all of us have an abundance of these), brings moments of quiet reflection. Sometimes the reflection is of a personal nature; other times, it’s about the larger world in which we live.

Both are good for the soul. But here, I’m going to stick with the larger world – and making it a better one – with some reflections on socialism. It is a subject on which my thinking has changed significantly over the past decade, and continues to evolve.

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