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Total number of comments: 190 (since 2013-11-28 14:43:02)


Showing comments 190 - 101

  • Is Donald Trump at War with the Republican Party?
    • Hmmm. Stones in glass houses. Sounds like Kristalnacht to me – and Mr. T. and his Jack-booted thugs would be fine with that, make no mistake (only with Mehicans, Mooslims, and Libtards). I think Prof. Cole is right to give attention to someone whose policies could well lead to . . . well, where we have been before. But worse.

      Some questions:

      Are we sure, once T. is given power, he will ever relinquish it?

      Or will we be dragged into a war, make the sands glow, and then, well, once the sands glow I fear we will have pulled the walls about our ears. And who, pray, will pay for reconstruction once our cities are piles of dust? Oh yes, Vicente Fox!

      Or will we stumble along, with merely horrible and awful, as opposed to existentially destructive, decisions?

      Oh wait, he thinks climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese . . . well, so much for eliminating the existential threat the VTY (Vulgar Talking Yam, hat tip to Charlie Pierce!) poses.

      And hooboy, you think people are angry now – how angry will they be if Obamacare is not repealed but expanded? When the wall is not built? When Muslims are not deported? When we are revealed as a weakened power by his showing his hand through further foreign adventurism?

      This is a great force for Evil (and I say that as one who dislikes the term Evil due to the theological implications of the word, but there it is), so Prof. Cole should address it as he does. Or we can go all Weimar and think that Herr Hitler is a little extreme here, a bit extreme there, but that maybe the time for thinking is over (hint: IT NEVER IS!)

  • Forget the Trump/Cruz Circus: Why Liberals are the Future of America
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 04/13/2016 at 8:46 am

      This is a great post and very true. Let me suggest a few more liberal goals:

      Let's have a universal set wage that everyone gets paid - no, I don't mean minimum, I mean let's deep six the military and give everyone 18-social security age a set stipend to live on every month as Finland has started to do.

      Let's make food free and open public cafeterias a la Brazil so that no one goes hungry.

      Let's make national a generous family leave law for those with new borns.

      Let's stigmatize dirty energy and have a Marshall Plan for solar, wind, and tidal energy.

      Let's have a permanent national Center for Peace (and name it after our greatest post-presidential statesman, so the Carter Center for Peace), that will work on diplomatically resolving conflicts and building prosperity in conflict regions with the same resolution and commitment with which we make war via the Pentagon.

      Let's morph Obamacare into single payer.

      Let's get rid of all these damn guns and outlaw the NRA.

      And the capstone, as always . . .

      pars Republicana delenda est!

      (Though it seems to be doing a pretty good job of destroying itself on its own these days - Hooray! Progress!)

  • Fall of Palmyra: Syrian regime races to take ISIL's 'Berlin' and forestall 'Partition'
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 03/28/2016 at 10:35 pm

      I think we need to put the concern for the safety and security of the Syrian people first and foremost, and I am glad for the people of ancient Tadmor that they are no longer under the heel of Daesh (ISIS, ISIL). As a classicist and one who was in Palmyra many years ago (1994), I am deeply relieved that the ancient ruins did not suffer more damage than it did, and it appears some of those ruins will be able to be restored. It is a ray of slim light in an otherwise horribly tragic situation for a people I recall as warm and welcoming, and a country with a cultural patrimony on the scale of (in ancient terms) of Italy, Greece, or Turkey.

  • 30 Americans die worldwide from Terrorism annually, while 130,000 die by accident
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 03/27/2016 at 8:34 am

      Two observations Juan, to add to this nice post of yours:

      1. A helluva lot more people die by gun deaths via crime, accident, and suicide, than by terror attacks – at least in this country. Yet there has been active obstruction against ANY action in that area. Hell, the CDC isn’t even allowed to research guns as an actual public health hazard thanks to ignoramus Republicans and the carnificious (i.e., blood-thirsty), craven, and greedy NRA.

      2. From ancient Athens to the contemporary USA, democracies seem to be pretty shitty at risk assessment at times. Hungry kids who grow up to be dysfunctional adults are a far far worse threat to US security and economic viability than ISIS – period, end of report.

  • GOP debate Civil? Candidates urged torture, child-murder, backing bloody Dictatorships
    • Hi Juan. Let me second some commentators here and say thanks for watching last night so we did not have to! A random thought about the brutality that has been a hallmark feature of these horror shows parading as GOP debates: Trump often goes on at great length about beheadings by ISIS and how we need to go “all Medieval” on their ass. We would do well to remember that we, too, have a tendency to the barbaric. Case in point: my father censored mail in WWII. He would open letters to make sure no unseemly pictures were sent home that could compromise the narrative of “the good war”. Pics of GIs with trophy heads, sometimes lined up in a row on the ground, were not uncommon. One day a soldier in his unit who had been on patrol (in the Philippines) brought a pair of ears to him, proudly displaying them as a trophy. My father asked how he knew the ears were from a Japanese soldier. The soldier then produced an earless head.

      Now, let us have done with finger wagging about comparing the GOP to Nazis. When you have the glorification of violence or incitement to it, when you have race-baiting and calls for ethnic cleansing, when you beat up protestors and sucker punch people of color for exercising their first amendment rights, when you extol military power and build your foundation on it, you are there. Tu es Schicklegruber et in ista merda partem construam! (“Thou art Schicklegruber and on such shit shall I build my party”). There is a deep deep danger here – we should all be aware the Nazis were a democratically elected party that enabled Hitler to gain supreme power, and that fascist regimes and the countries they take over don’t usually end at all well. And no, this is not panic, this is prudence.


  • Top 6 Signs Trump is wrong & Islam doesn't 'Hate us'
    • Try Runciman's 3 volume History of the Crusades - if memory serves the opening volume contrasts the tolerance of the Muslims against the destructiveness of the Christians. But Professor Cole could speak better to this than I can. Runciman's virtue is that he is a reasonably good story-teller, but the work is surely dated (published in the 50s) although I was happy to see a fair amount of citation of primary source material. Any recommendations Prof. Cole?

      And as always, pars Republicana delenda est!

  • How the US went Fascist: Mass media Makes excuses for Trump Voters
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 02/28/2016 at 1:12 pm

      True enough Ben!

      We have been stewed and marinated in a supine press for years, and, what is worse, a media wedded to not informing but entertaining. The current situation has not arisen suddenly; it has been coming for four or five decades now, and the GOP, despite “establishment” protestation, has laid the foundation to it brick by brick. So we go, for example, from Republicans and Democrats all agreeing in the 70s that fluorocarbons were a danger that needed stopping to a GOP frontrunner who dismisses the overwhelming evidence for climate change as a hoax, and the party goes with him.

      Only now, for a variety of reasons, the process has been accelerated, to the point where in a matter of months we get used to a degenerate vulgarian carnival barker spouting patent mendacity about race, gender, Muslims – hell, everything is simply a bald-faced lie, wrapped up in obfuscating ramblings. And there is no follow up from the media, no challenge to him, even though he advocates policies that constitute war crimes. Say what you will about Reagan, Bushes I and II, and Bill’s sexual peccadillos, (and I despised all of these guys), at least they had a modicum of dignity and decorum.

      Time to implement Cheney’s 1% plan, but to do it our way: if there is even a 1% indication that an American presidential candidate indicates that he/she will rule by fascism and the unscrupulous use of violence, then he/she is ineligible to appear on any ballot, period, end of report.

      And as always, pars Republicana delenda est!

    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 02/24/2016 at 3:00 pm

      Thank you, and as always, pars Republicana delenda est!

    • Dear Southern Poverty Law Center:

      I bring to your attention a hate group that you should perhaps start to monitor. It’s called the GOP, and it has been around for many years, and in the course of that time flirted with some dangerous ideas that it was able to sugarcoat with coded language and front groups, allowing plausible deniability to some of its more prominent members. One of its members some decades ago, by way of example, never openly used epithets but made reference to “welfare queens driving cadillacs” as a way to attack social programs that helped people of color. Not long after, another prominent member implied, in order to appear “tough on crime” during an election, that African-American men were coming to rape white women.

      Over time this group has metastasized like a cancer on the body politic into further front groups. These include more talk radio haters than you can count, a propaganda front group known as Fox, and other front groups, including the Tea Party, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, ABC, CBS, NBC (none of whom have ever called out this group for its hate or racism), Fred Hiatt’s WaPo editorial page, the WSJ’s editorial page, the Cato Institute, the American Enterprise Institute, the Project for a New American Century, and local militias (one of which recently took over a wildlife refuge in Oregon). Note, this is only a partial and small list.

      Lately this front group has been taken over a number of state legislatures, governorships, even the Congress. Some of the members of these legislatures – such as Issa of California – rather ominously have vocally supported militias against their own government. Also of late, members of the front group have assessed the situation and decided that they don’t like how brown and progressive the country is becoming (one suspects a president of African descent particularly exacerbated them) and so are openly throwing off their cover as purported political or news organizations and advocating a number of policies that appear genuinely quite dangerous for the continuity of two centuries of free governance here in the US.

      These include but are not limited to: open incitement to violence; open calls to violence; boasting about acts of violence; advocating racism and bigotry to the point that some members are calling not just for a wall on our southern but also northern border; the ethnic cleansing of the US through mass deportation; the open use of nuclear weapons; the elimination of rights for women and LGBTs; the closing of places of worship of entire groups, specifically (but ultimately not limited to) mosques.

      This front group has been particularly adept at exploiting tribalism. Taken collectively it is extremely powerful, controlling virtually the entire media, corporate, and military sectors of our society, and many – far too many- of the political and judicial offices. So as you attempt to investigate, legally persecute, check, arrest and imprison its members, you will have a great deal of work on your hands. I would recommend class action against it, since it’s responsible not just for the toxic environment in our politics, but has also been complicit in all manner of illegal activity. This includes active participation in gun deaths (e.g. it is a big supporter of the gun industry), cancers of all sorts (it’s a big fan of environmental degradation), wrongful death and imprisonment of minorities (choose here any number of policies you care to cite – say indifference to police violence against blacks, or drug enforcement that is designed only to help the prison industry and hurt minorities), torture and war crimes (see Iraq, Afghanistan, and Gitmo), and the loss or damage of American cities and infrastructure to human driven climate change which it denies (see Katrina, 2005).

      Perhaps doing something dramatic – say going on to Morning Joe and arresting one of its hosts on air for complicity in treason for helping a candidate who wants to willfully overturn parts of our constitution – would give the country the wake up call it needs before we head any further the way of Italy in the 1920s. I would recommend, if you can get the country’s attention that way, that you could maybe then start to arrest more of its members and supporters, and perhaps start a movement that, as in post-war Germany, would then outlaw the party, its affiliates, and then, as was the case in Germany, move the country to a more free, egalitarian, and socially progressive place.


      Herr Weisse Rose

  • Trump's SC Victory and anti-Muslim Hatred
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 02/21/2016 at 8:38 am

      "They know better deep down": I'm not sure I agree Juan. This is the state where sedition and treason was taken to its ultimate conclusion at the beginning of Lincoln's presidency. The state has a tradition of being at the forefront of succession, and the success of Trump requires a mere Occam's Razor explanation.

      And as always, pars Republicana delenda est!

  • 5 Worst Foreign Policy Moments of GOP New Hampshire Debate
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 02/08/2016 at 3:52 pm

      FIVE worst moments? I detected only one very long one that started when the first candidate entered the stage and the last left.

      Honestly, at what point will an adult step up and put the GOP collectively over its knee and soundly thrash its fat probuscidian ass? Let's see they doubled down on torture, carpet bombing, repeal of health care for millions, and let's not forget the vague discomfort of the audience caused by Donald Trump when he stated that under him no one would die in the street (let us not forget that for this party compassion is weakness); they honestly did not know, it appeared to me, whether to cheer or hiss.

      Atrocious, horrific, blood-thirsty, cruel, sadistic, carnificious, policies should disqualify you from running for office, and frankly from voting as well. Hey assholes (yeah, I'm looking at you Muses of Discord and your attendant fellating Myrmidons), how about funding research for cancer, or money for hungry kids, or for resettling the refugees we created in no small part through our ghastly, ghoulish, grotesque Middle East "policy" (such as it is)?

      What a bunch of half-penny purse empty wits! And, as always, pars Republicana delenda est!

  • Foreign Policy Winners and Losers in Iowa
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 02/02/2016 at 12:18 pm

      The numbers you cite are in error - AP at least is reporting that over 170,000 dems voted, down by about 25k from the last caucus or two.

      But the whole question is moot - at this late date the absurd complexities of our electoral system are a joke. It is no way for a mature people to run a modern democracy (I know I know, I said a MATURE people!).

  • Rhetorical Terror: GOP Candidates Pledge War Crimes, Carpet-Bombing, Asian Land Wars
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 01/29/2016 at 8:55 am

      pars Republicanorum iure et legibus ac consulto publico delenda est!

      (Cato the Elder speak for "The GOP, legally and by public legislation, must be destroyed" - hey conservatives, how do you like this version of Cato now!!!!! You might, um, want to think about renaming that institute after another Roman - maybe Nero, Caligula, Commodus or Heliogabalus; that will better suit your party's temperament.)

  • Will Trump destroy the Republican Party, or Push it to Far Right?
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 01/28/2016 at 5:38 pm

      Neither - it really can't be pushed farther to the right than it's flirtation with neo-facism (the only thing the GOP has not openly advocated at this point is genocide, though the Iraq war came damn close), and is "too big to fail" (how will it be dismantled on a state level?). As I've written in comments here time and time again, it will eventually need to be outlawed, as were the Nazis in Germany. How that will play out I have no idea.

      As Professor Chomsky pointed out the other day, the GOP represents a grave threat to human survival, perhaps the gravest (yes, even more than North Korea or any of the other [relative to the US] smaller militaries you care to cite). I am quite glad to see he has finally caught up with GWC's view of the arc of history and our present moment.

  • Biggest Trump Lies 2015: 76% of what Donald Trump Says is Garbage
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 12/27/2015 at 4:09 pm

      Yes, please do. Let us take as a given that your fever imagination that she has lied about this is true. So what. She's done worse - and so has Trump. He is a fascist and incites to violence (have you SEEN his rallies?)

      As for 76% of what he says being untrue, oof. I think that must be conservative at best.

      You want to hit Hilary on something? How about expressing support for the repressive regime in Egypt, about which Juan has written.

  • Would Syrian Refugee Baby Jesus be allowed to immigrate to the US?
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 12/24/2015 at 8:19 am

      Great post for the holiday Juan! Wow! Wish the whole thing could be put on a bumper sticker, but maybe we could cram Matthew 25 onto a protest sign in at the GOP convention this year – oh wait, only the Pauline rants against homosexuality and the Book of Revelation (the one where God sends anyone liberal or not American to hell) matters. Well, never mind!

      One quibble though. You state:

      “Greeks considered Jews to be “atheists” because they rejected the pantheon of gods.”

      But let us not forget the “God-Fearers” – those Greeks who were attracted by what they perceived as a highly ethical message of social justice in Jewish scripture, and even attended synagogue. In fact, some Greeks were so impressed that they actually became patrons of synagogues (as inscriptions in places such as Sardis [in the Roman province of Asia, now western Turkey] will attest). As not all Americans reject the Syrian refugees, so too, not all Greeks were at logger-heads with the Jews. Indeed, the pagan literary critic Longinus in his treatise On the Sublime cited the creation story in Genesis as an example of what he felt constituted “sublimity”.

  • Ghoul's Glossary: A Donald Trump Translation Dictionary
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 12/23/2015 at 6:56 pm

      In the third paragraph read "largest so-called Liberal media outlet". Sorry for the confusion!

    • hquain you are absolutely right. Look, a schlong to most people means a dick - he may as well have said that Hillary got hosed in '08 - and there is no mincing such a term. Hosed does not mean to be drenched with a garden hose, it means screwed. Schlonged is the same damn thing and anything else is special pleading.

      As for TPM - yes, Josh Marshall's attempted nuanced parsing of the term "fascism" is, again, just special pleading. A political party whose candidates seriously discuss mass deportation and using collective punishment against innocents is using the language of the Nazis - plain and simple. That is the company they keep, and no amount of push back will alter that basic fact.

      Look, the largest so-called media outlet, MSNBC just gave Trump a free hour long info-documentary last night. We are living through a very dark chapter of this country indeed, and as I posted earlier, the damage is done - no matter who wins next November the country has already lost substantially as a result of this immature petulant vulgarian (not to mention his supporters and the party on to which he hangs his hat - or hair piece as the case may be).

    • Great post Juan. I saw that clip of him inciting his mob against journalists who were surround by it. This is neither entertaining nor funny. He is playing with fire and sooner or later his grotesque buffoonery will have even more dire consequences than it has already. He is fast-tracking the GOP to my prediction that ultimately that party will need to be outlawed as a white supremist hate group. The damage has now been done - he is precipitating headlong our political discourse, such as it is, to its nadir. For where else is there to go after advocating ethnic cleansing and inciting violence?

  • Rural Fury over Arabic Script in World Cultures Module forces closing of Augusta, Va. Schools
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 12/19/2015 at 7:54 am

      Yeah, this one is about as pathetic as it gets for a whole boat load of reasons - the ignorance, the fear, the close-mindedness, you name it. But as one who lives in a rural area none of it, I must say, is too surprising. Whether you call it Red, Rural, or Confederate America, people of a progressive or liberal mindset (i.e., those of us who have the courage to live in a fact based universe rather than marinate in a fever swamp) need to learn they have nothing to work with (or, to use a favorite adage of mine, never teach a pig to sing - it wastes your time and annoys the pig).

  • Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 12/19/2015 at 7:46 am

      I was a bit taken aback that you would even pose this question – of course Jews, Christians, and Muslims worship the same deity and even have the same “founding patriarch” as it were in Abraham. They are different strains of worship of the same deity of course, but perhaps that is why the feud is so bitter between the three – because there is no fight worse than a family fight.

  • Top 10 Signs the US is the Most Corrupt Country in the World
    • Juan, while I am sure you don’t mean to, you write this as though the public were a passive spectator and not an essential culprit for corruption. While many of us believe in vigilance in regard to maintaining our experiment of self-government, there is a critical mass of the public that variously ignores, is apathetic to or ignorant of its responsibilities in this regard. There has been, in short, a complete collapse of public virtue that has fed your ten points substantially. I know that we historians shy away from moral or ethical assessment in terms of analyzing historical causality – but there are occasions when we disregard it at the peril of impoverishing a full knowledge of a given historical period. Here is John Adams on this:

      “When the people give way, their deceivers, betrayers, and destroyers press upon them so fast, that there is no resisting afterwards. The nature of the encroachment upon the American Constitution is such as to grow every day more and more encroaching. ... The people grow less steady, spirited, and virtuous, the seekers more numerous and more corrupt, and every day increases the circles of their dependents and expectants, until virtue, integrity, public spirit, simplicity, and frugality become the objects of ridicule and scorn, and vanity, luxury, foppery, selfishness, meanness, and downright venality swallow up the whole society.”

      This (i.e., the corrupt nature of our politics) has not come about just by an elite leading the people by the nose; the people have decided that they want to be led by the nose. The public virtues of mutual affection towards fellow citizens, of generosity, of the common good, have all but universally collapsed into a compressed black hole of self-indulgent rage, fear, selfishness, and willful ignorance. Neal Postman and many other cultural critics, (even Frank Zappa in a stunningly prescient 1984 episode of the now defunct Cross-Fire) saw it all coming and warned us. But we didn’t need them to tell us how all of this could go down – Cicero and Aristotle long ago instructed us about the dynamics by which free states can sink into totalitarianism, and now It Can’t Happen Here has become It Is Happening Here.

      So much for faeces Romuli (“the left over shit of Romulus”, as Cicero referred to the crude and ignorant Roman mob), anyone for faeces Americae?

  • Trump vs. the Founding Fathers on Muslims Coming to US
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 12/10/2015 at 7:58 pm

      You are absolutely right. But any precedent for prosecuting those who make war on the poor? I wish there were, and there should be . . . we must stand up for them, but they must also stand up for themselves as a political force? How is this to be done? I don’t know. I sometimes think of the Rabbi Hillel’s words in this regard: "If I am not for myself, who will be?"

    • The comments in this thread have been generally quite good and powerful, even though I understand our voices are quite small. I have written in comments here before, many times now, that the GOP will eventually need to be outlawed as a White Supremist Hate Group. Sorry if I preen for a minute or two about my prescience - I wish I were wrong, but this has been coming on for many years. But does any one else feel that this is going anywhere else but in this general direction, unless Cruz is elected, really does make the "sands glow", and in which case we are all cooked? Hilary, Cruz, Cheney, they all hate Muslims, but The Don (yes, the reference is to Corleone, because who the fuck else does The Don [Corleone and Mr. T.] sound like?) hates Muslims in his own fashion (apologies to Tolstoy!)

      Maybe Canada and Mexico can invade before we do anything more truly dire and establish a war crimes tribunal before we actually commit them . . . after all, wasn't that, in a sense, how the Iraq War (2003 not the 1991 fiasco) was justified? Remember "preventive war"?

      I've watched the career of the GOP since Reagan with fascination - it has been a revelation to me what small minds wielded to limitless ambition can achieve and how they can destroy a country full of clever men. But Trump is not the disease, no, we must look elsewhere for that! He is merely the putrefaction, the great stench that comes after death in a gust of really bad breath.

      He is a lesson in history, that mankind, above all else . . . still needs . . . its sense . . . of SMELLLLLLLL.

    • Quayle, Dubya, Palin, Carson, Trump: there is no bottom there is no bottom there is no bottom there is no bottom there is no bottom . . .

  • Roof, Dear and Tashfeen Malik: 'Self-Radicalized,' 'Terrorism,' 'Lone Wolf' and Double Standards
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 12/06/2015 at 4:16 pm

      The hell they don't - it's called the NRA. Stack up how many American's have died at the hands of Muslims versus by the direct lobbying efforts of the NRA. There's no argument who has the more blood on its hands.

  • If Trump can track Muslims, close Mosques, what can he do to You?
    • As we read the papers this morning it is clear the Republicans have us on a path to something like Japanese-American WWII internment. How did it come to this? I mean, for God’s sake, my father fought WWII and I had relatives occupied in Norway and Denmark; that war was a product largely of racism and bigotry, and it did not start in Poland – it started with people talking like Trump. The war started on the pages of Mein Kampf and in hysterical speeches at places like Nuremberg and in the Reichstag. It started with a supine, frightened populace embracing a strong man.

      I am not fond of WWII analogies – they are cheap shots and it is easy to overstate them, but the rhetoric we now hear is nothing if not alarming.

      What a goddam fool I’ve been. I thought Reagan was something the country had to get out of its system but would ultimately return to its senses, and it didn’t. I thought Dan Quayle was the most mind-numbingly callous and stupid politician ever thrust on the American public, but 16 years later along came Sarah Palin. I thought that the Tea Party took menacing white supremacy (remember the guns at their rallies?) as far as the nation would tolerate it, and apparently I was quite wrong on that one too.

      Yet I stand by what I have written before in my comments on Professor Cole’s blog: I may not live to see it, but the GOP will, at some point, need to be outlawed as a White Supremacy hate group. Carthago delenda est!

    • GrumyWithoutCoffee 11/20/2015 at 9:09 am

      This is why we need to keep the feet to the fire of bigots like Bill Maher (who I have come to loathe) and others who have contributed to what can only be termed an ominous turn in American politics this election cycle. Yeah yeah, it’s been coming for decades and was always there in the American psyche – but even Lee Atwater had to hide behind codes (Willy Horton = scary brown/black people who will rape white women).

      The mask has now come fully off – behind the smiley face of a thousand points of light there lurks an ugly bully who is, at base, a coward, and (one need not add the qualifier “one suspects”) a fascist; how appropriate that a supremely arrogant know-nothing is now the front-runner of the GOP (I used to think GOP stood for Grumpy Old People, but now we see it means Govern Off Phobias). Their favored candidate has long since ceased to be funny (and let’s face it, he never was) and brings to mind Voltaire’s quip (cited by Timothy Egan in the NYT this morning, though in a different context), that if you can get people to believe absurdities you can get them to commit atrocities.

      That this sort of discourse has entered mainstream political discussions is truly hair-raising. That we have been frog-marched, since last Friday night, to an immediate state of collective fear and frenzy belies our claim to be the home of the brave (and eventually land of the free as well). We are more like Graham Chapman in the Holy Grail, screaming “Run Away” from a rabbit.

      I for one will no longer vote for my representative, who I have voted for and supported for years, Kurt Schrader (D-OR), one of the disgraceful democrats who voted to prohibit Syrian refugees from entering this country, and I wrote him and told him as much. We cannot cause horrible situations in the global south or Middle and Near East, create humanitarian disasters, and then refuse to assist those innocents we have injured, directly or indirectly. I don’t care how many Mexicans or Muslims live next to me – we’ve got a responsibility, and for a party that advocates personal responsibility as a virtual religion (usually in order to consign the least among us to perdition) the GOP sure as shooting shit hasn’t a clue about the responsibility of nations one to another.

  • Top 10 Reasons Governors are Wrong to Exclude Syrian Refugees
    • GrumyWithoutCoffee 11/17/2015 at 6:51 am

      “8. The US owes these refugees”. Honestly this is the top reason for us to accept these refugees for the very reasons you point out. It should be number one on your list. I am frankly stunned that we created such a horrible snake-pit and only choose to rescue a paltry 10,000 from out of it – in a country of 300,000,000 that seems the perfect definition of mean-spiritedness or worse. And frankly the same could be said of the peoples fleeing from conflict or economic stress in countries points south of the Texas border. It is vile in the extreme and the only consolation will be how this reads centuries from now in the histories of our age. Just be thankful you are not a part of the vicious reptilian mob cheering on Trump’s “yoooge” wall.

  • GOP Candidates' Clown Car hides Deadly intent to Enrich the Rich
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 11/10/2015 at 8:49 am

      A little dispatch from Red America – I live in a poor rural western community of 5000. The situation, just to listen to my neighbors (all of whom live in the Fox News Universe) and from what I know about the personal lives of the people in our town, is much much worse than people on the Left (myself included) imagine. Why?

      For starters, most of the kids in this community have kids themselves – they are becoming sexually active at 13, parents at 14, and dropping out of school by 16 (or earlier). The kids (i.e., parents) can’t do percentages, they can’t do fractions, they can’t do statistics. Economics and history? Forget about it. The value of art, music, or any aspiration to higher learning? That’s a great way to get beaten up or derided at the local school board meeting. Hell, our community is so mean-spirited and tight fisted that it voted a four day school week, the minimal allowed by state law, so it wouldn’t need to pay more taxes towards education (this in a supposedly solidly blue state). I used to teach in suburban Maryland in the DC area – the kids were as privileged, well dressed and well-heeled as any you might see in a wealthy suburban area; in the rural west, to walk into some elementary schools is like walking into a Russian orphanage – skinny kids in hand-me-downs with sunken eyes (in part, I suspect, because many parents in the area deem it acceptable to withhold food from kids as punishment). The highest aspiration of many of our kids here is not to become a doctor or lawyer or professor, but to work as a grunt at one of the local lumber or plywood mills (when they are hiring). There is a decided “poverty of low expectations” here – and I am guessing that this is typical of rural communities throughout the country.

      But it gets worse: there is, of course, zero respect for diversity, and racism is just a given. When the massacre in Charleston went down, the confederate flags came out (and I live in a northwestern state). There is a complete mistrust and hatred of the government (pronounced guv-mint), even though most people in our community depend on it or are retired from it. Anyone who reads is dismissed as “brainwashed” (!). The poor, women, and people of color are on the gravy train, and the rich, in the eyes of these people, are getting hosed (why they identify with the wealthy is beyond me – utterly beyond me).

      I have learned that there is just no point in having a discussion with these people about, well, anything, but I am spreading the word these days: talking will do little good, because you have nothing with which to work. One simple example as to how bad it is: I was regaled with the tale in the wake of a police shooting that 200 blacks and 200 whites each were killed by cops annually – so, this person asked, if the number is equal how can there be discrimination? To which I noted that, while that may be the case (and I can’t verify said statistic) African Americans only make up 8% of the population, so were disproportionately targeted. The response to this hard-core fact? “That’s your opinion”. Yeah, in the way 2 + 2 = 4 is “my opinion”.

      Let me repeat: There is simply nothing with which to work. And the politics of this nation simultaneously exploit and perpetuate this. These days, I am frankly at a loss.

  • Bush Sr. Blames Neocons for Ruining W.'s Presidency: Is he Warning Jeb?
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 11/06/2015 at 2:50 pm

      Yes, I think this is spot on. The country has been, for half a hundred years now, like the proverbial frog in the pot who never detected that the water went from cold to boiling, and it is now cooked. The far right has grown so extreme that the middle (which the press desperately tries to occupy for fear of appearing “biased”) is somewhere to the right of Ronald Reagan – on a good day. Top that off with a zero regard for facts, truth, and any compassionate realistic policies that will enrich people’s lives, give them economic stability, maintain a clean environment, and make us competitive globally (except for our extreme militarism), and you have a fine recipe for disaster.

      But I am not sure the country is center right - poll after poll shows it is closer to Sanders on many social and economic policies - we are social democrats, we just don't know it, and the powers that be make sure it stays that way.

    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 11/06/2015 at 8:48 am

      And how has Dick Cheney been punished for his war crimes? Yesterday Congress voted to honor him with a statue in the national Capitol building. I’ll say it until I am blue in the face: do 38 in a 25 zone and you will suffer more consequences than the bloody-minded junta that took over our country in 2001 (recall Gore won that puppy with the popular vote) and proceeded to shred our constitution and destroy a couple of countries, effectively creating an on-going humanitarian disaster. Last I checked law and accountability were as much if not more necessary for democracy than even free elections. Lovely.

      This is the way of the modern GOP: is there any candidate, except for maybe Rand Paul, who does not want to gin a war up with Iran? Boots on the ground in Syria? Escalation to go after ISIL?

      As I have stated before, at some point, if it does not peter out slowly due to demographics, the GOP will simply need to be outlawed as a Hate Group. I probably won’t live to see it, but I’d sure like to see the day when Cheney suffers a damnatio memoriae, his statue is defaced, and then dragged symbolically, like some Roman emperor, and tossed into the Potomac (which at that late date, with rising sea levels, will likely fill up the National Mall at high tide – so it need not be dragged far, just toss it off the steps [and oh, the irony!]).

  • Jorge Ramos explains his ejection from Trump's press conference
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 08/27/2015 at 11:56 pm

      Just saying' what? Please do expand. What do you mean precisely?

    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 08/27/2015 at 11:55 pm

      Trump epitomizes the modern Conservative personality which is, defined succinctly:

      Someone who has everything denying anything to those who have nothing.

  • Top 5 Ways Obama's 'All of the Above' Politics led to Sanders & Trump
    • GrumpyWithoutCofee 08/05/2015 at 11:41 am

      The problem with comments such as yours, Paris68, and Katty Wampus is that sometimes incremental or “centrist” (ugh!) solutions or approaches are to things that represent dire existential threats. Human driven climate change is just such a threat, and our collective response has been abysmal. We are not talking about perfection (pace Katty Wampus), we are simply talking, on this issue, about handing down a livable planet to our children.

  • Actually, Oldest Qur'ans are in Sanaa, Yemen & in Danger of Saudi Bombing
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 07/23/2015 at 9:03 am

      “The earliest fragment of the New Testament in manuscript is from 125 CE and full manuscripts are later.”

      This may well be true, but scholars of early Christianity generally accept that the oldest canonical gospels are Acts (written possibly as early as the 40s CE), then Mark (dated to roughly 75-85 CE), then Luke and Matthew (stemming from a common source known as Q after the German term, die Quelle, “the Source” for the two gospels), then John (anyone’s guess – the mid 90s CE to as late as the 120s is the general consensus, and more likely the 90s). Of course, the whole matter of what became canonical and how is a very fraught matter and remained unsettled even after the earliest manuscript fragment; hence the complete exclusion from the gospel accounts of any of the Gnostic gospels.

      The earliest non-Christian accounts of the Christians themselves predate the earliest manuscript (fragment) you cite. The historian Tacitus, writing likely between 110-120 CE mentions the (aberrational) persecution of the Christians in his Neronian books of the Annals (15.44), while his friend and contemporary, Pliny the Younger, writes to the emperor Trajan sometime between 109-111 CE while governor of Bithynia Pontus (a section of northern Turkey) about how to proceed as regards the Christian community (in a letter from book 10.96-7). The point is that we do have independent sources concerning the Christian community and its spread prior to the first manuscript (fragment).

      But the date you give of 125 is a little misleading: that may be the earliest date of a fragment of a gospel, but the final canonization of what we know to have become the New Testament in its complete form is much later, relatively speaking.

      For example, it was the bishop of Alexandria, Athanasius in the early to mid-fourth century CE during the reign of Constantine (312-37 CE!), who decided to include the Book of Revelation as among the canonical gospels of the New Testament. It was intended as a weapon against fellow Christians deemed heretics, and its inclusion occurred at a time when people were killing one another in the streets of Alexandria over the nature of Christ (was he the son of God or not? – the question was not a done deal yet; see Paula Frederickson’s excellent study, From Jesus to Christ).

      The take-away: earliest fragments in the 120s; earliest books maybe from the 40s, but not the four biographies (they date from the 70s to maybe 120s), earliest outside (i.e., pagan Roman) references dating to the 110s (roughly), and the NT does not take its current complete form before the fourth century.

      By the way, the history of the OT is equally, nay, even more fraught. (Yeah, creating policy based on these texts is a great idea! Gay marriage? OMG what about Paul!)

      And as always, hate to beat a dead horse Juan since I've posted it before, but Jesus spoke Aramaic, the Bible is written in Greek a generation or more (depending on the epistles, gospel account, etc.); we have no idea precisely what Jesus said or taught, only a vague and general outline - as through a glass darkly.

  • Trump Swiftboats McCain the Way W. Swiftboated John Kerry
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 07/19/2015 at 8:08 am

      "Trump is a one-man advertisement for campaign finance reform, socialism and banning casinos."

      I think that you have an unintentional omission here Juan. What I think you probably meant to write was:

      "Trump is a one-man advertisement for campaign finance reform, socialism and banning casinos as well as comb-overs".

      Seriously though: yes, we should honor McCain's war record, but I for one will never forgive him for the further degradation of US public political discourse by foisting Sarah Palin into the public spotlight.

  • Chattanooga: Assault Weapons a Security Problem for U.S. (Cole @ Truthdig)
    • "In other words, anything to avoid talking about the real issue . . . "

      Right you are. In the wake of these heinous shootings we can't muster immediate and swift outrage at arms manufacturers but can, in a matter of weeks, remove the Confederate flag. Don't get me wrong - it is high time to De-Confederatize the US (and just removing the flag won't do it, but it is a good start symbolically). But can anyone ever imagine the same reaction towards guns - their owners, dealers, and manufacturers - as there was towards the stars and bars? One would have thought that after so many children were massacred in Newtown- at Christmas time no less - that that would have been the straw that broke the camel's back. But no - like Pharaoh we are hard hearted and impervious on this issue, angel of death or no angel of death.

  • No, Mr. Netanyahu, Iran isn't trying to Take over the world & it isn't ISIL
    • You mean the airliner shot down by the US complete with footage of bodies and wreckage in the sea? The one in which every one of my office co-workers at the time explained to me was most likely faked by the Iranians to hurt the omni-benevolent US of A? No restraint involved - instantly sunk into the contorted-explanation hole that sticks to the narrative of an omni-Greatest.Country.In.History.Ever.

  • Bernie Sanders' 10,000-person crowd in Madison biggest of any Candidate so Far
    • Right you are - but of course there is a piece about Scott Walker. I don't agree with Sanders on Middle East policy, but at least on just about everything else he seems to realize that we are trying to have a civilization here!

  • Who does Jerusalem belong To?
    • An easy question! Let the Arabs and Turks, the Italians, and the Iranians maintain joint control, since the Ottomans, Romans, and Persians have the longest greatest historical claims on the location!

      I recall that you have posted a similar post before, and made a similar argument (I believe about Israel itself). Or, we could just let the whole damn dispute end, occupy the place with UN forces, and not let anyone have it; just give the Muslims, Christians, and Jews access to the holy sites, but no one people possess it.

      Frankly all of this "who gets what" seems pretty reptilian to me. Rome, Jerusalem, poor Palmyra - none of these places belongs to Italians, Jews, or Syrians. They belong to all of us and stand as testaments to the majesty and genius of our species.

      To whom does Jerusalem belong? To me, to you, to all of us. But it is not unique in this regard, because so too does Paris, Istanbul, Damascus, and New York.

  • How Muslim-Americans can avoid being Trolled by Israel-Firsters: Look again at the Prophet's example
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 05/05/2015 at 7:44 am

      Thanks Juan for this great discussion concerning the birth pains of Islam and it’s early history. (It calls to mind early Christianity – a radical sect deeply committed to non-violence until the State [i.e., the Roman Empire and Constantine the Great] became heavily involved and connected with church hierarchy and doctrine. Thank you Constantine, for the Church militant -NOT!). Many of us would have no clue about Islam’s teachings of tolerance, patience, and peace were it not for your posts.

      Yes, the violence in Dallas is inexcusable. But so, too, is the event. How is this sort of provocation based on anything but bigotry? For a contest depicting cartoons of the Prophet, replace with a contest the provocatively caricatures Blacks, Jews, Hispanics, or Gays. Such bigotry would not be tolerated; the evil perpetrated by the gunmen in no way negates the immature, insecure, hateful mindset that would offer $10,000 to mock and metaphorically throw mud at someone’s faith.

  • Top Ten ways to prove you Love the Earth on Earth Day
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 04/22/2015 at 11:34 am

      I would also add:

      11. Grow your own food, whether it's just a couple of tomatoes in pots or a full blown victory garden. To offset one's carbon footprint we should all be growing as much of our stuff at home as possible and have Victory Gardens as we did in WWII. If you don't have a green thumb, plant easy to grow stuff like tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, pumpkins, squash, potatoes, and tomatoes. Use organic fertilizer if possible, and remember, jogging and biking are for those not in good enough shape to garden! (I.e., it's a great calorie burner!)

      12. Shop at your local farmers market - it supports small business and small farmers (many of these are young and the political demographic among small farmers will surprise you!) many of whom are dedicated to sustainable environmental stewardship. Plus, it supports the local economy. Stores such as Safeway are headquartered in California - why send your money there instead of keeping it in Michigan (or, in my case, Oregon)? Also shop locally owned businesses that sell local products - as an added benefit, it is nearly always the case that you will find the tastes and flavors of your own region superior to stuff imported from elsewhere. Also, eat seasonally: strawberries are for May through August (at least in my neck of the woods), not January!

      13. Stop eating out; food waste from restaurants and fast food joints is an environmental disaster. In addition, food eaten out is laden with salt, fat, plus who the hell knows from whence it came! Save restaurants for special occasions or vacations.

      14. You can compost virtually all of your kitchen waste, even paper towels (provided they are clean white ones with no dye), except for meat and oil. It cuts down on landfills and the environmental degradation associated with them.

      15. Keep a couple of hens in your backyard. They are easy to keep, and will produce much more nutritious eggs than those poor birds kept in factory farms. There will be a few more happy chickens in the world, and the demand for factory eggs will be all that much less because you now have your own eggs. Give them the worms from your compost as treats. Three or four Gold Sex Links or Rhody Reds should easily give you well over a dozen eggs weekly; and in addition, they are beautiful remarkable creatures.

      16. Lobby your local government if they won't allow you to keep chickens - as long as you don't have a rooster any such law is ridiculous. Hell, I'd even say we should be keeping goats and sheep.

      17. Get rid of the campus greens that pervade throughout this country and convert them to pasture or garden for students in various related disciplines to work.

      18. Develop a local, sustainable food system in your community that includes community gardens and community pasture to help employ disadvantaged or wayward youth, and whose products can be used to feed the less fortunate.

      The food system has a bigger part to play than just getting rid of beef, as you note. It is not, however, beef per se that is the problem. It is the feeding of the beef, and the quantities in which it is consumed. The reformation of the food system would be a big step in changing the way people think about the planet on Earth Day. Many if not most of us know the difference between a homegrown tomato and one that will fall off a truck in Florida and bounce. But the same holds true for just about everything, from melons to beets. If people knew how pork, eggs, chicken, cucumbers, corn, chard, and strawberries should really taste as opposed to the poor quality stuff found in the stores, I am convinced there would be a revolution.

  • Do GOP Frontrunners have an Iran policy besides Sanctions and Bombs?
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 04/08/2015 at 3:00 pm

      I know - as I've posted in comments before, all of these are features not bugs!

    • Shorter commentator response to your post: No. Next question!

      Okay . . . let's have some fun with this now . . .

      Do GOP frontrunners have a solution to human driven Climate Change besides denial?

      No, next question.

      Do GOP frontrunners have a response to childhood hunger in the US apart from cutting public assistance?

      No, next question.

      Do GOP frontrunners have a healthcare policy solution apart from gutting Obamacare?

      No, next question.

      Do GOP frontrunners have a policy solution for depressed wages in our country apart from attempting to gut workers rights under the guise of "right to work" laws?

      No, next question.

      And so on . . .

      I suppose we could have some fun and change this into a multiple choice type quiz, as in,

      Do GOP frontrunners have a policy on anything that is not utterly wrong-headed and not designed to appeal to a popular base that rests squarely on the shoulders of racism, false nostalgia, and rabbid nativism? Please circle the appropriate response:

      A. No, next question!

      B. Freedom!

      C. Thththththppppppttttttt!

      Cruz/Palin '16 - because "This Time, Why Not the Worst?"

  • A Game-Changer in Syrian War? al-Qaeda-led Factions take Idlib
    • I’m with you – all of those fabulous cities, esp. Aleppo, so damaged and ruined, and gods know about Crac de Chevalier, Saladin’s fortress, Palmyra, and on and on and on. I traveled through Syria as a grad student in Classics exactly 20 years ago. It is a history that belongs not to modern Syria, not to any one state entity or people by virtue of its diversity, but to the world – due to its importance and its dynamism. Worst of all are all of the different people I encountered who were so curious about the west and the US, who wanted to engage and discuss. Where are they now? Huddled in rumble digging in for a fire fight? In a refugee camp in Turkey? Dead? Ain’t the legacy of western colonialism and imperial adventurism grand? Of course we should not dismiss local and regional pathologies, but honestly, would we be looking at this map now in grief had not the Supreme Court ruled against the US electorate in 2000? I doubt it.

  • Mideast Apocalypse 2030: Why Obama wants the Palestine Issue Solved. Now.
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 03/24/2015 at 3:25 pm

      This was my thought as I read the scenario. The US has had an unhealthy relationship with Israel for my entire life, and the selective historical narrative that dominates in this country concerning Israel’s history, both ancient and modern, does not show any signs of a much-needed (popular) revisionism anywhere on the horizon. I think Professor Cole does an awesome public service (okay, I’m using an adjective my students would use!), but as you say, in his apocalyptic vision the US of A’s absence is a 600 lb. gorilla.

      A more likely scenario would be a humanitarian disaster that would once again fall on the Palestinians with a US president on the phone with an Israeli PM, with said president politely telling him that if he doesn’t stop he’ll get really mad and may even raise his voice, stop saying please, and wag his finger at a camera at the next presser. But pull the plug on aid? Exercise veto power at the UN? A weapons embargo against Israel? UN inspectors for nuclear weapons in Israel? Significant humanitarian assistance from the US for food, housing, and doctors in Gaza? Hey, let’s not get crazy here.

      But one of the commentators in this thread (HT to Kodachrome) is more spot on: there is no problem so big that human-driven climate change will not render it more acute. Time takes care of most problems; we have decided that it will take care of this one.

  • All the Wars and Coups of President Ted Cruz
    • Uh, most of our high elected officials are socio-paths of (unfortunately) reasonably good intelligence (probably in my time Reagan and W excepted), with a nonetheless long litany of crimes under their belts that reach from Chile to Cambodia to Iran to, frankly, our own communities (where Jonny/Jane can't read or write not because his/her school is under-funded but because s/he hasn't been fed). There are plenty of conservatives in academe to the point where in grad school I learned to engage with no one concerning politics in my department (and it was a part of the school of arts and humanities!) Ignorance and callous disregard for human welfare can reign as supreme in an Ivory Tower in the northeast as it can in Kansas (or Oklahoma, or Texas, or wherever the Confederate or Revanchist mindset holds sway).

  • Tom Friedman & funding ISIL: Israel/Iran Derangement Syndrome
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 03/21/2015 at 1:26 pm

      At this late date there is no doubt that Thomas Friedman has a breathtakingly immoral view of the use of power. But “Suck. On. This.” and now his “let’s join ISIS” drum beat are in some respects among the least of his outrageous statements. It’s bad enough he’s given a platform to spew his half-baked stream of consciousness venom that helped drive the country to war in 2003. For my money though, nothing will ever top his remark in that now infamous interview with Charlie Rose when he stated with no remorse – in fact with barely restrained triumph – that “We hit Iraq because we could”. That immediately brought to mind something Bill Clinton said during the Lewinsky scandal – that he did it, he confessed, “for the worst possible reason, because I could”.

      I suppose I could go in the backyard this afternoon and hold my dog’s head in a bucket of water until it drowns, because I can. Or trap a few squirrels in my trees and stick them alive on the grill, close the lid, and slowly roast them. Heck, think I’ll head to the pond, catch a mess of fish, cut their fins off and throw them back alive. Because I can. In Tommy Friedman’s bleak Thucydidean universe, the strong do as they wish and the weak suffer what they must. Nor is this immoral in the eyes of Friedman and his ilk; they are just inheriting a law they deem immutable and are simply acting upon it, just like the Athenians.

      It brings to mind David Brooks’ dismissive quip that “the concerns of the mothers of service men don’t matter” on the PBS Newshour during the propaganda campaign that functioned as the pre-game entertainment to The Mother of All US Debacles in 2003. (You may have missed David’s remarks in the ocean of stupid excreta spewed from the orifice of so many other movers and shakers who help funnels your tax dollars away from shit you need like well fed children and cancer research to mercenary legions run by criminals and profiteers like Erik Prince, Supreme Regent of Darkness).

      Creatures like this should not be fired. They should be arrested and tried on charges of aiding and abetting the disturbing of our peace and made to serve long hours of community service in VA hospitals cleaning bed pans and latrines. Period, end of report. As a parting shot, if you are less morally self-aware than Bill Clinton, well, that says it all doesn’t it?

    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 03/21/2015 at 12:59 pm

      Just a gentle correction. There was a Jewish Diaspora well before the advent of Rome - arguably Judaism itself is in part the product of Diaspora that predates anything "Classical". The Jewish Diaspora in fact dates to the last 3rd (ca 722 BC) of the eighth century BC, with the Assyrain conquest. In the 590s BC Nebuchadnezzar relocated a substantial number of Jews to Babylon, while some fled to Egypt (but for modern politics and war, there might still be an ancient Jewish community in Mesopotamia - hell, even still a Babylon but for its destruction for a US air base [link to link to By the time of the late Roman Republic (the second century BC) and possibly well before, there was a substantial Jewish community in Rome (which exists to this day), and there is even a synagogue, possibly of this date, at Rome's ancient port in Ostia.

  • Top 5 ways Netanyahu sabotaged US and Israel Interests
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 03/16/2015 at 10:26 am

      "Why can't non-Republicans ask Americans how much more war can we afford, and how much more do we want?"

      Network ratings, huge corporate profits, and assorted socio-economic-political pathologies that effectively strangle any such complex dialogue and serious questioning and criticism in its cradle. Next question. (Also see my recent post under Juan's take-down of Tom Cotton).

  • Just How dangerous is Sen. Tom Cotton, Iran Letter Crackpot? You'd be Surprised
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 03/13/2015 at 7:34 pm

      As an addendum to my previous post. Everyone with me, to the tune of the Adams Family:

      "They're icky and they're gooky, they're really very spooky,
      They're always kinda kooky, the Young Republicans,
      Badabadeep, "snap snap".

    • Yeah, well . . . so much for young people being more “liberal”. But it was inevitable. A full generation has been raised under the shadow of Reaganism and crack-pot-crank-gas-bag-“think”(HA!)-tank punditry, whose fumes now pervade our political discourse like a rotting corpse. What alternative will younger people know?

      Look, for forty years hate radio and conservative organizations have ruined the social infrastructure of our country in a vendetta campaign against – I shit you not – Lincoln, FDR, Kennedy, Clinton, and now Barack Hussein Obama the Black. They are enraged against, well, everyone: Gays, Mexicans, the New Dealers, unions, the Union (for defeat of the Confederacy), intellectuals, the “liberal” media (ha! that’s a real fucking joke!), people of color, Hillary (for being Hillary), and Obama (for which, I suspect, they now hate the entire country – “How dare the unreal America of the cities send this Black Muslim Socialist to take away our guns and give us health care in rural communities plagued by meth and domestic violence!”)

      So many of our children who have grown up in this festering stew are at this late date little more than frogs in a slowly heated pot – and now they are cooked (politically, spiritually, environmentally, and economically): They will debate the merits of war, torture, and destruction of the social safety net, because they have been studiously inculcated by nincompoop parents who have listened themselves to assorted nabobs such as Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, or Bill O’Reilly (who in fairness is the veteran of many imaginary wars). So don’t you know McCarthy was scapegoated for being a patriotic commie hunter? Are you aware that Nixon was just the victim of the liberal media? Did you know that Lincoln violated the most cherished laws of the free market by his violation of southern property rights? (That that property was human chattel is no cause for embarrassment). Naturally FDR’s New Deal prolonged, in fact, the Great Depression. And of course the Clintons killed Vince Foster in the Oval office and had George Stephanopolis (aka “the guy shocked by blowjobs”) get rid of the corpse.

      The emergence of young-ish creatures such as Cotton (or Paul, or Cruz, or Rubio, or Walker, or take your pick) is not surprising, although it makes their emergence – like maggots from the corpse of what’s now left of the Republic – no less nauseating or depressing.

  • Giuliani & Obama: Immigrant Families and Really Loving America
    • Giuliani’s assertions are nothing short of infantile, but let’s cut to the chase: define precisely how one shows “love” for one’s country. I take the “country” to be defined as the land and its people. Just how do we show “love” for each?

      By opposing attempts to preserve the land? By allowing oil companies to befoul its waters? By allowing them to ruin its land by fracking? By opposing setting aside more of it that is beautiful and pristine for future generations to enjoy? By extracting as many of its resources as possible? By depriving citizens of the public good of its waters? By depleting its fisheries? By supporting big ag so it can dump chemicals into the soil and create mono-cultural deserts of corn and soy? By cutting down its forests? By destroying the very climate that has helped to create and maintain it? There are plenty of people out there, especially on the right, trying to do just that.

      Is this to “love” the land?

      And just how do we show “love” of its people? By opposing a living wage? By condemning their children to hunger? By depriving the people of access to medical care? By sending the family members of people off to fight in wars of aggression based on lies? By duping the people with boogie-men (Muslims, Commies, etc.) to transfer their hard-earned and increasingly scarce resources to wealthy friends? By ignoring the epidemic that of gun violence that kills so many? By funding weapons programs at the expense of (say) education or cancer research? By constantly traducing a government that consists entirely (at least in theory) of the people’s sovereignty? Again, many on the right will defend any and all of this, all under the utterly specious, selfish, and self-serving pretenses of – take your pick, “security”, “growth”, “opportunity”, “free-dumb” (not a typo!)?

      Is this to “love” the people?

      If this is what it means to “love” one’s country, then you can have it!

      But all of this is a moot point at best, because this very discussion is idiotic: Patriotism, love of country, nationalism – all are indicative of a type of arrested development and infantilism, a product of the R-Complex of the Truine brain dating back to our reptilian ancestors, the part that celebrates hierarchy, territoriality, and aggression (to paraphrase Carl Sagan). It is as much as saying, “Look at us we are great/look at them they are bad” (aka “We’re number One”, aka “USA USA”, aka “Greatest Civilization in History” kai ta alla!). Wouldn’t politics be a lot more fun and interesting in this country if we demanded a type of Socratic give and take, in which journalists actually, gee, I don’t know, did their job, were confrontational, and required that politicians actually defined their terms (just what is a “Family Value”; just what the hell “values” are “Value Voters” espousing – how do we define and understand them?; what is “national security” – will bombing more Muslims in the name of “security” make us more “secure”)? Wouldn’t it be a better place if collectively we could actually be, gosh, self-aware and not be fearful of being self-critical? However, as should be clear in this instance, the assumptions underlying Giuliani’s nonsense are grossly flawed from inception.

      One would have thought, in light of the blood-lettings of the 20th century based on such “love” of country, that this sort of discussion would have gone out of acceptable discourse, right along with the sort of racism or sexism that seems to have attended it. Alas, this is the age of Maher, where bigotry against people based on creed has become acceptable even among so-called liberals – so why not throw “patriotism” into the mix as well? I think humanity needs a new model and paradigm before it’s too late.

  • Jeb Bush on Foreign Policy: Peddling old Iraq Myths Again
    • Hmm, yes, well. All of this rather reminds me of Roman involvement in the East – which ultimately led to its conquest and colonization. Take out Philip V of Macedon in 197/6 BC and you end up with a power vacuum and need to drive out Antiochus the Great, King of Syria, in 189-7 BC. Drive out Antiochus and you end up with Perseus, Philip’s son, filling the vacuum and having to fight him in 169-8. Perseus gone? Not a problem – Andriscus will fill the vacuum in 149-8 BC and you will get a fourth visit by the Romans – only this time they won’t leave (well, not until 1453 AD! But hey, what’s 1600 years of occupation more or less). Plus ca change . . . But FerGawdsSake, I mean, is there no one in the State Department, no one in our political community, who reads Livy or Polybius anymore?

      Worst of all, what should be clear at this late date is that the results of US involvement confer, exclusively, generous donatives of misery, tears, and unintended consequences. We should mandate it that the self-assured ignoramuses who freely bestow the fruits of our toil to their friends in war industries and anyone else remotely enmeshed in their sociopathic fever dreams of a vast pax Americana, first read the simple remarks of King Archidamas, spoken nearly 2500 years ago and related by Thucydides, who, at the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War, noted that military action requires careful and calm consideration (the very antithesis of the U.S.’s collective Monty-Pythonesque, “MUSLIMS!!!!! RUNNNN AWAAAAAAY!!!!!”) and the recollection that in war you control neither events nor outcomes.

      On a less relevant matter: As an academic it has been my privilege to know individuals of deep intelligence and compassion. Do you mean to tell us that in 2016, out of a vast talent pool of 300 million souls in this country, we are having hefted upon us yet another Clinton or Bush? This truly is the death of the Republic!

      There is nothing left for it but to “Let each man go to his own country!” (as Agamemnon says in Homer’s Iliad).

  • GOP's Scott Walker: Pitches possible Syria War to make us Like Him
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 02/03/2015 at 10:54 am

      “What is shocking is that the GOP hopefuls think that a ground war in Syria is an attractive campaign promise, the 21st century equivalent of a chicken in every pot. What will you and I gain from a Syria war launched by the leader of Wisconsin? What did we gain from the Iraq War?”

      Um, no, it is not shocking Juan. You are treating war as though it were a bug and not a feature of the GOP platform (and frankly, can we expect much more from the soon-to-be-coronated Hillary?) At this late date, there are some pretty standard operating procedures on this score: Frighten the hell out of them with the imagined “impending invasion of America du jour” (hey, take your pick, use Commies, Sandanistas, Grenada as the latest fortress around poor little besieged America, Saddam “Mushroom Cloud” Hussein), shovel gobs of money to the virtually unaccountable black-holes that are the Pentagon, CIA, The Auchtung Department (euphemistically called the Department of Homeland Security), enrich creatures in the private sector such as the Aryanesque Eric Prince (aka the Dark Prince of Blackwater alias Xe), give a platform to haters left and right (from Bill Maher to Rush Limbaugh), and release “feel good snuff flicks” (for that is what they are) such as American Sniper (ah, the socio-path with a heart of gold – how cuddly!), and fiercely militarize every aspect of American life (it’s one of the key reasons I’ve come to loathe all sporting events in this country).

      As I said, it is a feature not a bug: in the process resources get shifted on just about everything from cancer research to childhood hunger to investment in new energy technologies. It is our 21st century version of the Dance of Death. It’s not about what is to be gained for us, it is about what is to be gained for the ruling elites in this country and frankly elsewhere. We don’t count or matter. Perpetuation of the military machine through interference throughout the world, which in turn enrages some people who might (and only might) attack us, is, in fact, the intent.

      It is not about what “we” gained from the Iraq War part II, it is about the continuation of GOP and elite power and they use war to maintain it. After the lies of Johnson, of Nixon, of Reagan, of Bush I and II, of Clinton, and the disappointing policies of Obama, honestly where is the emotional space for any sort of “shock”. It is the perfect opportunity to argue we have no money for children, health care, or alternative clean energy sources that might protect our environment. What is truly disappointing is how many young people there are who have now come to adulthood in the obscene atmosphere in this country over the last 40 years - it has spawned creatures such as Walker who love torture and war but hate healthcare.

      As I stated above, Feature, not Bug!

  • Top 5 Planks of 2016 GOP Platform? Torture, War, Bank Corruption, Paid-For Elections
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 12/12/2014 at 3:06 pm

      “All those planks appeal to relatively narrow interests among the plutocracy.”

      The problem is, Shannon, that while the GOP does run on the planks Juan pointed out (and all too many Dems as well), they don’t actually “run” on them. They hide and obfuscate under the catch phrases of Empire and Capitalism. Hence for torture read “a few bad apples”, “enhanced interrogation”, etc.; for war read “protecting national interests”, etc.; for bank corruption read “deregulation” or “getting government off the backs of the populus Americanus”; for purchased elections read “exercise of First Amendment Freedoms”.

      The GOP is hand in glove with the “You Did Not See What You Just Saw Industry” which include powerful corporate and media interests (Dems are the same, just not on crack like the GOP). They are pretty good at convincing people that soda doesn’t make you fat, the earth is in a cooling phase, and having a gun in the house will keep you safe.

      Polls show, unfortunately, that all too many Americans still believe torture is the way to go, and that we should go back into Iraq. The Dems are pretty feckless these days, and the only good thing I have to say about them is at least they’ve managed in a few states to help legalize weed, Gay marriage, and improve access to health care. On a national level? You can have ‘em (with only a few exceptions).

    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 12/12/2014 at 7:55 am

      I would also add that pretty high on the list is the destruction of the planet. The GOP is drooling over Keystone XL, over gutting the EPA, and continues to deny the existential crisis that is human driven destabilization of the climate. This is a particularly bizarre stance for a party whose constituency is often rural and depends on agriculture for their livelihood (hence a stable climate), or gun owners many of whom are outdoorsmen who one would expect would want to protect the environment. I am hopeful that these constituencies might eventually come around on the need for a stable climate, but will it be in time to prevent a global meltdown of the eco-system and all that will entail? What is more dubious is whether they have enough of a voice within their party, and whether they have a willingness to risk breaking the apparent party orthodoxy that denies this impending crisis.

  • The Trial of Richard Bruce Cheney
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 12/11/2014 at 12:54 pm

      But, but Juan! You didn't finish the rest of the story, so please allow me:

      At this point in the trial the gallery, which Cheney had packed with well-wishers, bribed with Haliburton profits, and which included Sean Hannity, Michele Malkin, Rush Limbaugh, and assorted supine subservients from the Washington establishment, started chanting USA USA USA. Thomas Friedman, also in the gallery, hurled a profane “Suck. On This.” at the prosecutor.

      The judge tried to call for order, but just then Clive Bundy & Co. burst into the court room and started to brandish guns while railing incoherently about world domination by the UN, loss of sovereignty, the Feds, and swore by Jesus and Ronald Reagan that Cheney was a God fearing patriot protecting our free dumb [not a typo!]

      The Bundy and Washington crews then banded together and physically assaulted the witnesses and victims present in the court room, screaming that they were terrorists and a threat to the American Way of Life.

      Just when all seemed lost, Robert H. Jackson strode into the courtroom, slapped handcuffs on the unruly mob of wingnuts, including Cheney, and cast them into Spandau for life where they were given just one thing to read (Hegemony or Survival), and one movie to watch, (Manufacturing Consent).

      Not long after his imprisonment Cheney’s heart condition deteriorated, and Sean Hannity volunteered to offer up his own, but when they went to extract it they found he didn’t have one!

  • Why the Founding Fathers thought banning Torture Foundational to the US Constitution
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 12/09/2014 at 9:22 pm

      First, good post Juan. If we were a defeated power and the Nuremburg Principles applied, the Bushes, Cheneys, Yoos, etc., would possibly be hung. And the Lindy Englands and various soldiers, doctors, agents, guards, and yes, even members of the media, turned sadists would be sought out by the equivalent of Israeli Nazi hunters, and imprisoned, and rightly so.

      But to answer your question Mary, the GOP has long since lost its way and taken the country with it. The history is too long to rehearse here, but in the past fifty years, in a nutshell, we have morphed from a society able to come together when basic essential facts are presented to us (e.g., torture happened and people must be punished; the environment is in free fall and needs protection; a strong social safety net protects us all and helps our economy), to one where the “you did not really see what you just saw” industry (driven by confusionists in the media, assorted think tanks, and the Tea Party) holds sway. Hence GOP talking points such as “torture kept America safe” (and yes, they actually said this – see Sen. Chambliss of Georgia, etc.)

      I have come to merely loathe the Dems, but, as I’ve posted in comments here before, I see a day where the GOP will simply prove so destructive that it will need to be outlawed. But if Obama protects these creatures then, frankly, we should arrest him too.

  • Chokehold Victim Eric Garner's Mother: "Justice System Failed Us"
  • Why are Berkeley Students Protesting Bill Maher as Commencement Speaker?
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 11/03/2014 at 8:51 am

      Part of my thinking on this is that the history and experience of those who practice Islam in the U.S. is not the same as that of, say, African Americans, who have been a historically maltreated minority. I recall a very racist family member once telling me that if my grandma from Norway could make is as an immigrant who first cleaned houses when she came to this country in the early 1900s, there was no reasons African Americans couldn’t pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

      Um, yeah, right. Well, I suppose apart from the fact that Americans of African descent first came here as slaves, that they lived under Jim Crow in the South, were discriminated against by the passing of lots of laws, and feared the noose, that the African and Norwegian American experience were essentially the same. I think, therefore, that the KKK/Aryan analogy is a false equivalence here.

      Now those who practice Islam have certainly not had the easiest time of it in the US – we all know that; but they have also not faced the level of persecution or oppression that other groups have, such as Hispanics and African Americans. Americans are still largely ignorant about Islam and about the peoples who practice it. Having Maher at Berkeley could prove a teachable moment (and Muslim students shouldn’t be the only ones who are offended – Maher is also quite the misogynist).

      That having been said, the habit of universities giving a platform to those who already have one seems to me to be feeding on a larger more dangerous habit in the media of suppressing a greater diversity of voices and opinions – there were much better choices (how about a climate scientist to address our dire environmental situation?), but I stand by that all speech, particularly, perhaps, offensive speech, must be protected, if for no other reason than to expose and refute bigotry and error.

    • Bill Maher maintains an unsophisticated view of religion and its connection to the idiosyncratic nature of a given culture. Is Christianity practiced in the same way with the same attitudes in Italy as it is in the southern U.S.? Or in Ireland as it is in Brazil? Of course not, because its nature is determined by the particulars of historic, cultural, and social dynamics that interacts with that particular religion in various ways.

      So, is Islam the same in Iran as in Tunisia? Is it the same in Turkey as in Iraq? Of course not, and Maher’s generalizations are an example of the intellectual laziness typical of much of the political discourse in our country. As to the polls Maher constantly cites, I would like to see stats concerning Christian countries too – Muslims are not the only one rejecting liberal ideas after all. E.g., Kenya, a predominantly Christian country with only an 11% Muslim population, has a ban on gay bars. The GOP was/is a big supporter of the Ugandan “kill the gays” law, another predominantly Christian country with only a roughly 12% Muslim population. I’m no expert, but I would like to see a comparative survey of attitudes and rights in predominantly Christian countries. Would blanket condemnations of all predominantly Christian countries follow?

      As to the surveys he cites based on “attitudes” or “opinions”, opinion and thoughts are one thing, acting on them quite another. But let’s accept his premise that all the horrible generalizations he makes are true, and even acted upon. One wonders to what extent fundamentalism is a response to external factors: what, e.g., would Iran look like today had we not overthrown its democracy in 1953, an event that led directly to the revolution in 1979, and by extension, what Islam would look like today in Iran? Colonialism and conquest has a way of intensifying the identity of a given people in a given region and making them violent – certainly this was the case wherever Romans (my own field of expertise) went: conquered colonized peoples sometimes either became fiercely Roman (identifying with their conquerors) or fiercely German, Jewish, British, Spanish, or Greek. Roman conquest and hegemony spurred an intensification of local identity (just ask Variathus, or Arminius, or Bar Kochba, or Boudica, or Calgacus). Now that’s a study I’d like to see.

      Most risible of all, though, is someone in the US going off on a riff about the particular violence and close-mindedness of Islam. How many countries, after all, has Tunisia bombed? How many countries has Iran invaded of late? His rhetoric is designed to denigrate and dehumanize, and it serves, it seems to me, as a justification for our use of violence against predominantly Muslim countries. It appears that predominantly Christian countries are justified in their use of force against the Other, appropriating to themselves the right to the use of force based solely on their liberal democratic values (at least that is the collective background noise that one seems to hear, both from Maher and his cheering audience): but what is liberal or democratic about, say, the destruction of Iraq? Or the willy-nilly use of drones in Yemen and elsewhere? Or the continued support for the blockade against Gaza (and the all-too-frequent visitation of violence on it from our proxy, Israel)?

      Sovereign states and peoples need to come to their own decisions, in their own way and in their own time, about how best to live, and if a society is generally viewed as “unhealthy” then yes, the dynamics need to be pointed out; but to me, for a citizen of this country to constantly dwell on the violence and close-mindedness of others is unseemly. Maybe we could get some Muslim comedian to go on a riff about childhood hunger, or school shootings, or income inequality, or voter suppression, or racial disparity, or any number of social ills that plague the US.

      Despite all of this, I think Maher should absolutely have the right to speak at Berkeley; if nothing else, it forces a conversation that can serve ultimately to further our understanding of ourselves and others, and is the first step in a corrective to skewed and virulent modes of thought.

  • Ben Affleck on Bill Maher's Muslim Problem
    • You might be surprised to know that I agree with you in part. But do we really think that but for western interference there would be the sort of situation we are facing today? Or that we would be very concerned about what Muslims think?

      As for the examples you cite, fine. However statistically, just how many places can the US and its allies intervene before we finally stir up a hornets’ nest (in my lifetime its been Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, Greece, Guatamala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Chile, Afghanistan, Panama, and that’s just off the top of my head)? So alright, Panama and India didn’t turn terrorist against outside aggressors and have relatively stable societies. Obviously that will not always be the outcome, as the lingering legacy of western colonialism in the Near East shows, and the results of our 2003 misadventure in Iraq depressingly reveal.

    • The commenters defending Maher and Harris in this thread, or at least justifying them, seem to forget that we - and our interests - have been historically the victim of so-called Islamic violence mainly as a result of our support of autocratic regimes in the Muslim world and for our continued unfettered and pathological support for Israel. Were it not for western interests in those countries, I very much doubt we’d be concerned too much about Islam one way or the other.

      War and conflict frequently does not start on the battlefield, but with the word. The rhetoric of Maher serves as an enabler for such organized state violence that has its origins here at home. Then again, democracies are not always the best at risk assessment – as someone who works on hunger issues you will never convince me that childhood hunger in the US is not a much bigger issue and more dangerous for us than, say, civil liberties in Saudi Arabia, or violent Muslims who would like to attack us. But hungry kids remain invisible, have always been around, and don’t get ratings like beheadings or Sabbath Gas Bag pundits.

      Defending Maher to me sounds at this point like special pleading, not to mention willfully ahistorical.

    • The desire to see a policy implemented is one thing, the ability to implement it quite another. We have ideas and opinions that have violent tendencies as well (as you note concerning TR) – and we act on them still to this day, such as the idea that it’s okay to have a massive military-industrial-media complex that has bombed, on dubious pretexts and with dubious results, seven Muslim countries under Obama. To wag fingers at peoples about their views on civil liberties and them to bomb them - there seems to be a real disconnect somewhere here. Of course, the main point to remember is you have looked at a particular poll in a particular country at a particular time. To generalize that this is how all Muslims think would be wrong, which was Affleck’s (and Aslan’s) point – countries such as Turkey and Indonesia (for example) are far more liberal in their policies than (say) Saudi Arabia. But the real heart of the matter is that Maher and Harris present these opinions as an implied justification for our continued use of force in Muslim countries.

    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 10/07/2014 at 12:13 pm

      Thanks for this post Juan – bigotry like this needs to be called out articulately and knowledgeably, esp. if it comes from someone who has an enormous platform from which to speak and uses it to spout insidious and poisonous misinformation. It is esp. discouraging to such vile hate come from someone many would consider “Left” of “Liberal” – no wonder Maher can remain “friends” with creatures such as Ann Coulter. Folks like myself are thankful for public intellectuals such as yourself and Reza Aslan who can call out this crude sort of thinking when they see it.

  • How Stupid Can CNN Hosts Get about Muslims with Reza Aslan? THIS STUPID.
    • Hello Juan!

      As per the instructions on "contacts" I'm requesting that you weigh in on this - what do you think about the past two weeks of Bill Maher going on a screed against Muslims? And could you please address this in light of your knowledge and in helping, frankly, to push back against this sort of bigotry?

      With appreciation,

  • $22 Billion to Fight ISIL in same Year Congress cut $8.7 bn in Food Stamps
    • This is the problem with the ability of our democracy for collective risk assessment and the costs and value of properly assessing those risks. The costs of not feeding our children and the hungry are enormous. I will repeat myself until I am blue in the face, but as I’ve posted in comments before:

      Children who are hungry and malnourished generally do not develop into normal healthy adults. Many suffer from damaged immune systems, behavioral and mental problems, and lower intelligence. Imagine how lousy you feel if you are an hour or two late for lunch. Well, multiply that by a half-day, or day or two, then imagine that is being imposed on a developing human being. This is how our children, and many children of the world, suffer. Damaged immune systems in turn mean adult illnesses down the road, meaning stress on an already over-burdened health care system as well as lost productivity and wages from work. Behavioral problems can often be aggressive, resulting in violence and ultimately prison.

      In sum: lost productivity over a lifetime, health problems, prison, means expensive outlays by our health care providers, our schools (where many of the behavioral problems play themselves out), our criminal justice system, and at the same time a loss in revenue as we bandage these problems rather than addressing their root causes. This is not my opinion – it’s the hard cold science of pediatrics and statistics.

      Another major threat to which we have given scant collective attention or action is human driven climate change. Just how much is the cost of losing Louisiana going to come to? Or Florida? Or our ability to reliably grow crops in the plain states or California? Or our ability to absorb displaced climate refugees, whether from Bangladesh or the Nile Delta?

      Yet were we to address either problem we would obtain some tangible good – e.g. a healthy productive citizen body, more revenue from more productive citizens, stable climate, etc.

      Just what will we get for this investment of 22B? Nothing – except the status quo where creatures such as Erik Prince and Dick Cheney see war profits, elected representatives reassure defense industries so that their firms won’t leave their districts, and the perpetuation of this whole Danse Macabre as we now can add Syria to Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan, Libya, and Pakistan to the list of predominantly Muslim countries we’ve bombed, thereby alienating still more citizens on the ground. But not to worry – I’m sure the Great Liberal Bill Maher will perform his Friday Sabbath ritual of appeasing pseudo-Lefties about how backward Muslims are and how in the end people who bomb them have much better values than those who live under our bombs anyway. Hey, we might be killers but at least we believe in civil liberties (sort of).

    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 10/01/2014 at 8:24 am

      As an addendum: I see a new study this morning concludes that global vertebrate populations are down 52% since the 1970s – that is a huge story, and the amount of biomass loss unimaginable. Now THAT'S a big f*****g story!

      And for a good takedown on Maher's bigoted screed last Friday go to:

      link to

      (Scroll down to "It's not a religious problem it's a species problem").

      (Link to link to

      It puts the global environment as we know it at obviously great risk – but don’t look for this story to be covered even on MSNBC; it might get traction on FOX, but only if they can twist it to convince viewers that such environmental catastrophe is beneficial for the economy.

  • 3 Years War? Obama to Bomb Syria in fight against ISIL
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 09/10/2014 at 9:37 pm

      Three years? Really? How prescient. I vote for another 100 Years War. But this is at its base an absurdity - how many people have our "smart bombs" inflicted with beheadings and other horrific injuries, all on dubious pretexts? The best argument against this – or any - war is still that made over 2400 years ago – by no less than the king of the bellicose state of Sparta. Once war is entered into, noted Archidamas on the eve of the war between Athens and Sparta, its course is unknown. It is to open a door into a dark room, where no one knows what lurks – though all know that it will entail death, degradation, and destruction (see Cato in Sallust, Bellum Catilinae, 52). Climate change. Humans with nuclear bombs. Wars over religion and resources in the name of “freedom”, “way of life”, “stability”. And how do we all think this will end? I’m sure Victor David Hansen can regal us with tales of “a war like no other” and “western freedom”. I strongly doubt that it will not be an outcome of disaster (VDH and his buddy Bill Kristol can tell us how our next defeat is really a victory depending on what political party is in office). But then again, isn’t disaster standard operating procedure? So glad Americans are can do and competent. But incompetence (oh, and death on my buck by the f*****g bushel) seems to be the central reality of American policy. Iraq. The country we loved SOOOOOO much we f****d up not one, not two, but now, apparently, THREE times.

      So, can we have a global "three strikes and you're out stupid super power" policy?

  • Will the People’s Climate March be this generation’s March on Washington?
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 09/09/2014 at 10:39 pm

      Yes, less meat, but not no meat. Vegetables and fruits require animal input (such as blood meal and bone meal). These are essential nutrients for plants. Yes, green manure crops will work for a while, but if you were to do that full scale then vast amounts of land would need to be handed over for the mono-cultural cultivation of certain cover crops – and you still want dead animal matter to feed plants that self-righteous vegans will consume (sorry, but vegans are not ethically superior and have a ridiculously inorganic Weltanschauung). But if we switch to growing such green manure crops en masse we will have a similar problem – degradation of diversity. But you will convince few farmers or botanists or gardeners (and rightly so) that you can rely forever on green manure without animal input. Even worse: the amount of available calories to human populations will diminish. Animals graze and convert grass and cereal crops to high, concentrated calories in the form of meat and milk.

      Try working an organic farm in real life trying to have a low carbon input. You will find at the end of the day that you are so spent that beer and beef become essential food groups. If for 15 hours you can dig raised beds, haul compost, mend water lines, men fences, and maintain infrastructure and equipment, and then happily sit down to a plate of salad at the end of the day then my hat goes off. But oof – what an inorganic and sad way to look at the world.

      Short story long – animals are a lot easier to raise and maintain than fruits and veggies, at least by individuals on a small scale. You get a huge caloric return for a lot less personal caloric input by raising animals instead of veggies. In a world still made up of a much larger number small poor farmers than the west would like to acknowledge, that means something.

  • US Public Worried about ISIL, Putin-- But Climate Change is Real Challenge
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 08/31/2014 at 4:51 pm

      Climate change will start to be taken seriously maybe once the stress on agriculture starts to hit Americans in the pocket book in the form of soaring food costs. There is a direct link between climate change and the Arab Spring, and climate change and the Syrian civil war: in the first instance it is more than likely that extreme drought in Russia several years ago led to a rise in wheat prices, fueling inflation and hardship in north Africa and the Near East that depends on Russia in part for wheat supply. Drought hit Syrian farmers very hard, as Professor Cole has noted in several posts, leading in no small part to the current conflict there. Here in the western US drought is playing havoc with California produce and cattle. Maybe it will not be with the current California drought, but eventually as warming does serious damage to agriculture and prices rise, people will start to make the connection. But by then, I suspect, we grey temple prophets of doom will all be dead and the hour will be too late.

  • How America made Martyrs of two Iranian Democrats and overthrew Iran's Liberal Government in 1953
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 08/19/2014 at 2:23 pm

      Nice try. Alas, it will simply be dismissed. I recall some years back a neo-con “intellectual” (whatever that is) being interviewed on a call-in show on CSPAN. Reminded of this bit of history and its ensuing results by a caller he perfunctorily snorted, “That was fifty years ago” and had no further response (or desire to engage the caller).

  • Are Israelis and Zionists really talking about a Final Solution of the Palestinian Problem?
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 08/03/2014 at 3:42 pm

      Very true - from the Trail of Tears to Southeast Asia we have a singularly gruesome tradition. The open advocation of genocide, however, has not recently been advanced as national policy; and I frankly see little daylight between the Israeli and US government. Blank and Gordon do not speak for the US - but yet, in a sense, they do - or at least certain elements of it.

    • It is not just Gordon Juan - Irwin Blank writing for the same paper made the same argument. To enter the dark universe of Irwin Blank’s Wannsee fantasy go to:

      link to

      Give it a few weeks, and NPR will come on with some smooth commentator’s voice that airs with a charming lead debating the potential merits of genocide and ethnic cleansing. The “liberal” media did it with torture – why not its logical conclusion? Look for members of Congress to defend said genocide. The supine surrender of our sovereignty to the false heresy of Apartheid is now to be followed by the perfidious betrayal of our nation’s principles to a deplorable barbarism. One can only wonder how representative this is of the thinking among the elites, but my guess is that both are representative of what policy makers believe more than we would like.

  • Did Israel go too Far? The Massacre at the UN School/ Refugee Center
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 07/27/2014 at 2:34 pm

      Your critique is well taken and I appreciate it . . . until we come up against a situation with existential implications such as war, nuclear proliferation, or climate change – esp. climate change (my own pet issue since as a farmer it impacts me directly). To what extent will we let the “messiness of democracy” degrade and destroy our planet? The forces of denial and obstruction – primarily in the legislative and corporate sectors of this country - are counting on running out the clock on this, and they have just about done it. A political system works . . . until it doesn’t. “Allowed” to influence policy? How about willfully manipulated by copious doses of fear and misinformation until they feel compelled to reject the common good just as a matter of principle and identity politics? Moreover the outline of your nightmare scenario sounds a lot to me like the system we now have.

      I agree that we want to avoid a technocratic dystopia – who doesn’t? However as to becoming a state that is soulless and has no genuine human sensibility I think the past twenty or thirty years or longer indicates we are pretty close to that if not already there, at least as industrialized democratic countries go. Torture, huge percentages of kids in poverty (20-40% in some regions), the devastation of Iraq and Afghanistan, the utter impunity with which war criminals in this country can act, the roll back on some essential civil liberties, the capture by the corporate sector of our government and media, the funding of a vast and destructive armaments industry at public expense, the militarization of the police force, the general contempt for those less fortunate, and of course, the carte blanche backing of an Apartheid ally that is prone to commit war crimes on occasion – I could go on, but why?

      How much further do we want to sink?

    • Fucking A Nel.

      Should academics rule the world? Maybe, maybe not. But let’s cut the crap. To whom are we going to listen to about the Mideast? Someone who has studied it their entire adult life and knows the languages and culture, such as Juan Cole, or should we listen to someone like Sean Hannity? Hmmm. Juan Cole . . . Sean Hannity. Hmm. Hmmmmm. (I am now stroking my fast greying beard thoughtfully). Hmmmm – Juan Cole – knows Arabic, knows the history, is a respected published author with good presses whose work has been vetted and knows the material inside out, or Sean Hannity. Hmmm, yes, hmmm. Let me see, who’s the better qualified? Gee, gosh, not sure on that one.

      Let’s move on . . .

      Who’s the better to discuss climate change? James Hansen, Bill McKibben or (wait for it) . . . Sean Hannity. Hmmm. Let’s see. Hansen and McKibben have studied science and devoted their lives to it, and Hansen sounded the warning bell on this issue a quarter of a century ago and has been right at every turn . . . but then, Sean Hannity is on tv and can shout. Gosh, who has more authority, knowledge, intellectual, and moral clout on this. Hmmm, let me think, hmmm, yes, hmmm. Well gosh I’m agnostic on this one too.

      So let’s move on again . . .

      . . . to matters of economics, education, sociology, other regional conflicts, and so on. This is an absurdity – hey, I have an idea, why don’t we have computer programmers farm and have farmers do computer programming? Then we can have fishermen start to teach Latin and Latin teachers can start to fish. Because we’re a democracy right? And everyone and everything is equal right? RIGHT?!?!?!? So since Juan isn’t on tv as much as Hannity he CAN’T absolutely CAN’T know as much about the Mideast as Mr. [Ins]Hannity. Plus, Mr. [Ins]Hannity can shout louder than Professor Cole (I suspect!)

      I will shout this from the roof tops: Conservatives talk about the value of work, but they do not, absolutely do NOT value academic work. They are hypocrites in the extreme on this score, and the only consolation a thinking being gets is that intellectuals get beaten up simply because we scare the shit out of these creatures.

  • What Has $121,000,000,000 US Aid to Israel Really Bought?
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 07/21/2014 at 6:27 pm

      What you have stated is equally misleading though: Israel is by far the largest recipient of foreign aid by the US bar none; it’s an artificial first world country in part as a result. Concerning jobs, I don’t want my economy helped in any way by what is demonstrably an Apartheid state. As for Amnesty International, just go their site and see how much they have in fact had to say against abuses in countries about which you allege they are relatively silent.

      Sorry, but I just don’t think appropriating land and having a US/European outpost in the Near East is bound to have a good outcome in either the long or short run, esp. when that outpost is designed to variously divide, suppress, and appropriate the resources of the less fortunate peoples of the region, be it for our benefit or that of our allies.

  • From Kerry to Selena Gomez & Rihanna, Israel's Claims of Precision, Compassion are Dissed
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 07/21/2014 at 10:25 pm

      Oh, I've not been a fan for a long time, though his monologues are still pretty decent at the show's opening. He really lost me a couple of weeks ago when he went on a rant against mixing weed and booze. All I could think of was the words of Ygritte in Game of Thrones: "You know nothing Jon Snow".

    • How deeply the US is ensnared in this ineluctable danse macabre with Israel was perhaps best revealed on Real Time with Bill Maher this past Friday. He and his panel took the opportunity of the events of the past few weeks to go on a bigoted screed against Arabs and Islam. The conversation on this show spear-headed by this alleged bane of the conservative media may as well have been a meeting of AIPAC.

      What was really despicable was the ahistorical nature of the conversation, which was devoted in no small part to dumping the blame on Hamas, with no historical context (Nakba, what Nakba?), and certainly no discussion about the iron grip Israel has imposed on Gaza. I suppose if my land were appropriated, my medical services shut down, my means of livelihood unjustly removed, my entire community effectively reduced to a prison-like existence, and – the last straw - my children periodically killed in cold blood, that I’d be launching a few rockets too. What really made my blood boil was the panegyric to Israel about how industrious and “kick-ass” it was, as though it had achieved that on its own without vast amounts of assistance from the US in terms of money and weapons – not to mention manpower in its army in the form of young people who hold dual citizenship.

      But we don’t get that from Maher – instead he gets to add Islamophobe to his proudly won title of misogynist. And this is what passes for Liberal today. Gosh, I wonder why they hate us so much?

  • The Court Trial of Bibi Netanyahu
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 07/14/2014 at 8:05 pm

      We laugh as we cry. So it’s come to this – notions of justice, fairness, and equity are shuffled off into the category of irony and “dark satire” - it is all we apparently have left. Next up, The Trial at the ICC of George W. Bush, to be followed by that of Dick Cheney, John Yoo, Paul Wolfowitz, and a host of politicos and pundits who believe so much in family values that they pushed how many Iraqi women into prostitution in Syria based on . . . their paranoid fever dreams, false intelligence, and deception deception and still more deception. Man that is JACKED UP!

      In this world the Romans, the Nazis, Blackwater and their appropriately blackhearts such as Erik Prince – they win. They may eventually collapse and be defeated, but they are Chaos demons, and the very power we give them and the attendant damage they inflict is the point. Their victory is total – just ask the children of Palestine. As Juvenal observed, the satirist does not create – he observes, scribbles, and the satire writes itself.

  • SCOTUS: Corporate "Persons" have Religions, can Deny You Birth Control Coverage
    • Oooof. Basing modern life on ancient texts. Maybe I should run my life based on the divinely inspired texts of Homer, Hesiod, or Pindar. Jesus spoke Aramaic, but the NT was written in Greek decades later. We don’t know what he said let alone meant. The Hebrew Bible – a problematic series of texts that also acknowledges the existence of many gods, consigns whole nations to genocide and ethnic cleansing, and which was cobbled together over centuries. We are intimate with the life of Cicero, but know comparatively nothing about Abraham, Moses, David (all of whom may be fictions), Jesus, and Mohammed. Get over it people! Humans living their lives based on Mumbo-Jumbo – and they do it on purpose! Nay, they are dogmatic about their ignorance. Hit head on wall . . . head on wall . . . head on wall. Repeat repeat repeat.

      Can we please just wrest society from the hands of Witch Doctors and give it to the rational people now?

      There is nothing left to do but to rail and rant on the street - religion over human health. Yeah, that's a fucking great idea.

  • Iraq: Looming War of Shiite, Kurdish, Extremist-Sunni Militias
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 06/12/2014 at 9:26 pm

      Um, hmm. Er, mmm, yes, well, uh, ahem . . . if we hadn’t gone in in 2003 isn’t it true this would likely not be happening? Shouldn’t someone be held, uh, like, responsible? Say Dick “we know where the weapons are” Cheney? Or George “30,000 more or less” Bush? Or Condi “in the form of a mushroom cloud” Rice? Or Colin “here are pics of the porta-potties – oops, I meant weapons labs” Powell? Hello . . . hellooooo – is there anybody out there?

      Look, I hate to sound like a pinko blaming Nixon for every damn thing, but is it not true that this disaster can be laid directly, if not squarely and precisely, at the feet of the SOB who now paints nude pics of himself in the shower?

      Oh, so let me get this straight: I’m a poor shlub who farms and if I do 38 in a 25 and get ticketed my insurance goes up and I get fined. That would present me with some hardship. But a bunch of m***********s who f**k up a country of 20 million get book deals and speaking engagements and editorial space in the most prestigious papers in the country. Gee, maybe I should go into genocide and ethnic cleansing – seems a more profitable and safe line of work, and you don’t get mauled by roosters or roll your tractor.

      One more thing - can we at least deport William Kristol to ISIS that we was so instrumental in creating?

  • Top 3 White Terrorist Attacks in America this Week
    • And the band played on . . . This has been going on for years. Remember Oklahoma City? And all the assassinations of abortion providers? And the beating to death of gay men? And the attempted assassination of congresswoman Gifford? And bringing guns to town halls and rallies to menace and intimidate, esp. during the Obamacare debates? And, and, and . . . ? This is no longer legitimate or legal freedom of expression – it is violence and intimidation pure and simple, and creatures such as Rush and Hannity, leaders of the hate industry who were never elected, have taken us to this point.

      When will we be through trying to defeat these people at the ballot box? I have stated it before in comments on this blog and I will state it again. We have reached a point where the GOP is no longer a legitimate political organization so much as it is a corporate sponsored hate group. Activists need to start to focus their energies on the courts and work to get the GOP and their subsidiaries shut down and outlawed.

      Their hatred of people of lesser means, of minorities, women, intellectuals, their utter disregard for the rights and freedoms of people particularly of the global south, the vast machine of think-tanks and hate radio which do little more at this late date than incite, lie, or practice sheer sophistry, and their complete callousness when it comes to a clean, safe planet make them utterly unfit to govern. At the same time, I would argue that it is essential that the corporate sector undergo a financial divorce from our political process – hell, if it takes going to radical Athenian-style democracy and choosing legislators by lottery . . . well, how could that break the political process more than it now already is? It would at least have the advantage of taking money out of politics.

      The GOP and their anarchist mob will say they are for Freedom – well, not so much. You can have a right to a gun all you want. But if you don’t have economic security, if you don’t have a living wage, and a clean environment and (relatively) stable planet on which to live (and the stable society that follows), well, you don’t really have freedom, and you also aren’t really a conservative (Doh!) (Oh, and by the way, you really can’t have freedom without a right to due process, but the fourth amendment went bye-bye some time ago). And you don’t really have freedom when you have groups of paranoid, fever-dream fanatics in control of half the country, scaring and intimidating the other half, including intimidating, apparently, those in charge of enforcing law and order.

  • How Reagan subverted the meaning of D-Day & the New Deal of the Greatest Generation
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 06/08/2014 at 12:51 pm

      RR was a despicable human being, “a deceiver of the public and, one suspects, himself” as one astute observer once put it. Remember this is the man who mocked the hungry of this country as being “on a diet”. Vile. But much worse than that, he and his minions started the slow motion coup of the GOP by the Birchites, Larouchians, Randians, and yes, frankly, the Boothians (who still can’t accept the Union's defeat of the Confederacy and are hell bent on exacting some sort of amorphous revenge). Systematic war against the poor, minorities, intellectuals, and impoverished, weaker countries whose resources we covet will, in the long run, likely prove the least malicious of Reagan’s and the GOP’s legacies. Far greater mischief will dog their legacy as deltas are flooded, storms inundate our cities, and food production suffers as climate becomes less stable: simply put, under Reagan anti-environmentalism became a key aspect of GOP identity. Reaganism is in no small part single-handedly responsible for the environmental disaster that is human driven climate change. How ironic that Reagan spoke at the Normandy Beaches, a historic site that his party is now determined to visit with flood and ruin.

  • Pastor Hagee: It's not Climate Change, It’s The Return Of Christ
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 05/31/2014 at 7:50 pm

      God continued, “And where is the elephant in Africa? I sent you someone as affable and well loved as Jimmy Stewart who was actually concerned about this issue! And where are the amphibians? What the hell did you do with my amphib- . . . [God drums fingers irritably on table interrupting himself] Where are the ice caps? Hmm?!?!?! Where are the ICE CAPS? WHERE ARE THE FUCKING ICE CAPS? You ASSHOLES! What the FUCK! What the hell did you do with them!?!?!?! You’re not gonna need an ark this time, because you’ve turned this lovely place into f*****g VENUS and I'm not interested in saving jackoffs who shit in their own house!”

      (Sorry, sometimes copious expletives are the only place to go!)

    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 05/31/2014 at 8:26 am

      Pontifex Maximus C. Julius Caesar Asserts Climate Change the Result of Un-Propitious Omens on Ewe’s Livers.

      A repeated series of sacrificial victims had to be cut open by Caesar and examined by the haruspices this past week. The normal number of just one would have been sufficient, but the left lobe of each liver was in turn quite fatty and had dark markings, indicating quite clearly that the recent bad weather has been driven by divine forces.

      “We think that there is a nasty spat going on between the goddess Juno and her consort Jupiter ever since Juno promised Aeolus, god of the winds, a bunch of pretty sea-nymphs if he would just release his winds to drive the Trojan fleet to north Africa”, one of Caesar’s attendant priests said.

      “The livers looked terrible”, he added, “but tasted pretty good with some onions”. Greek intellectuals scoffed, and were quick to point out that natural phenomenon was more likely to blame.

      “I thought the question over weather was settled by the Ionic school of philosophy over half a millennium ago”, said a clearly perturbed Democritus. “Honestly, Caesar should stick to his Gallic conquests, but exploiting ignorance over natural phenonmena to make some sort of religious point . . . well, it’s really quite below his dignitas, and, by the way, insulting in general to the populus Romanus.”

      When Titus Labenius, a spokesman for Caesar, was asked about Hagee’s competing claim that it was in preparation for Jesus’ return, Labenius noted, “It’s 62 BC, Jesus won’t be born for another 58 years or so . . . so I couldn’t possibly comment.”

  • "Joe the Plumber": "Your dead kids don’t trump my Constitutional rights."
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 05/31/2014 at 8:06 am

      Your response utterly fails to address the issue of access. If one person is put at risk due to the failure to tackle this singular underlying issue then everyone is.

    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 05/30/2014 at 4:54 pm

      Uhg! It's not just about the weapon but who has access to one. Not everyone should have the right to own a gun, period. And I speak as a farmer in a rural community where they are ubiquitous.

      What a relief to the dead that the gun could only shoot one round at a time.

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