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Total number of comments: 245 (since 2013-11-28 14:43:02)


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  • 5 Images that refute Trump's attack on Hero John Lewis
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 01/15/2017 at 4:04 pm

      The Constitution is not the only measure of legitimacy. There are intangibles as well. If you do not abide by the norms and deeper social structures and traditions of democracy, nay, willfully break about every one of them (from threatening to jail your opponent to threatening to contest the outcome of the election regardless of outcome, from articulating policy that fundamentally despises democratic values [such as mass deportation, torture and war crimes], to openly encouraging foreign interference in an election against your opponent and questioning essential 1st amendment freedoms, then you abdicate legitimacy.

      But in main I agree that given the situation with the electoral college (as it now stands) that until we can change it we are stuck with it. Btw however, the electoral college originally had greater independence and it was hoped would reject those deemed unfit for the highest office in the land (see Hamilton Federalist 68 where it is clear that it was hoped that the college would reject men who are unfit for high office).

    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 01/15/2017 at 7:50 am

      Thanks for this homage and defense to one of the few truly great members of Congress. One or two points that I would add: the man has an enormous lead over the Orange Menace, in terms of moral authority and clout as well as life experience that could not be more different. Mr. Lewis was not given a huge sum of money by his old man to start out in life but was born to share-croppers in Alabama. He did not bully and bluff his way through a big name university or business school but selflessly flung himself into the civil rights struggle. He was one of the original 13 Freedom Riders. As you state, he was a key organizer in the 1963 March on Washington. He coordinated efforts for the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer. He had a prominent role in the marches in Montgomery and Selma.

      On March 7, 1965 he led a group of marchers over the Edmund Pettus Bridge when they were confronted by police. Trained in non-violence, they knelt to pray and were tear-gassed by the police. Lewis’ skull was fractured that day by a night stick, but escaped to Brown Chapel Church, the nearby headquarters, and appealed to LBJ to intervene in the violent situation in the south before he was taken to the hospital. He still has the visible scars from that day on his head.

      He had already been beaten up by the police once before, in 1961 when he tried to enter a whites-only waiting room in Rock Hill South Carolina; he was assaulted by two men who broke his ribs. And he has numerous stories of the violence that he and the Freedom Riders endured in the course of their campaign for racial justice in the South. In Anniston Alabama their bus was fire bombed by the KKK. In Birmingham they were beaten up mercilessly. In Montgomery at the Greyhound bus station he was beaten unconscious with a wooden crate. The Kennedy administration called for the Freedom Riders to have a cooling off period to try and stop the violence; during that time Lewis spent 40 days in the Mississippi State Prison.

      But this is nothing compared to what the Orange Menace suffered and sacrificed in the 1960s and 70s as he went through his own personal Vietnam avoiding STDs.

      And yet it is pointless to urge that the POETUS should feel any shame about this, because he simply has none.

  • Trump does Poor imitation of Tin-Pot Dictator at "Press Conference"
    • You are right Marianna and I agree. But I think your response is part of the larger issue. You use tentative language: “there were times you wonder if he is mentally sound to lead this country”; “flashes of craziness that pop up”; “when he behaves like an out of control man” – I’d correct to read “he IS not mentally sound to lead this country”; “flashes of craziness” I’d change to “steady stream of craziness”, and “he behaves like” to simply “is”. Language in the press is equally pulling of its punches and shouldn’t be – it’s simply too too perilous.

      Forget politics. It’s time to stand up and simply on a human level in which we all can analyze and recognize when someone is not quite right, to out and out state that he’s plum nuts. Yeah, handing over the nuclear codes to Gaius Caligula and his raving band of Maenads – that was a good plan. Of course to recognize someone as not quite right requires a certain degree of emotional intelligence that I can definitely tell you, as a denizen of it, that rural red America simply lacks. That’s not a criticism, that’s just the truth (and the problems in rural America are so bad that they are almost beyond fixing – another inconvenient fact for any concerned with progress in the US).

  • Those Times the NSA Hacked America's Allies
    • Over the past two days, Juan, you have had two excellent posts, with fine points about the Russian hack – whether it did or did not occur. Here is my issue though: had the situation been reversed, and Putin helped Hillary gain the presidency, the outcry of the GOP, aided and abetted by the MSM, would have been deafening, and at any point along the way electors from the electoral college would have proven faithless and thrown the election to the Orangutan Who Knows How to Punch Buttons (fyi: tweeting is not leading), or the GOP would be preparing for impeachment, or the political pressure from venues such as CNN or FOX and all the other major media outlets would have forced, at the very least, Hillary to resign and have Tim Kaine take office instead.

      Yes, we have interfered in the sovereignty of other nations, in ugly ways. Yes, it most likely was not Russian interference, but James Comey’s October surprise that tanked Clinton.

      But all of this is pretty much an example of the national double-standard in which Republicans can Get Away With Murder, while Dems must tiptoe – that’s why Howard Dean’s howl, Gary Hart’s “monkey business”, and, most recently, Tony Weiner’s stock has sunk - meanwhile the Orangutan Who Can Punch Buttons can boast about grabbing pussy, not release taxes, have dubious business dealings, enormous and unprecedented conflicts of interests, express doubt about the first amendment, and incite rallies to violence and still float three inches above the ground like a Virgin Epiphany ordering “Noli me tangere”. We have internalized fair play on the Left and continue to bring knives to gun-fights. You frequently write about global warming. Want to do something about it? Stop playing fair. This is not about Russian hacking, this is about disabling as much as possible a dangerous political party, and we need to use every means at our disposal, just as the Republicans would.

      The gods as my witness, one of the biggest reasons Why We Can’t Have Nice Things in this country is because of the Left internalizing a sense of fair play. Want to protect health care? The environment? Want to prevent more calving of Antartic ice? To protect the Atlantic current? Womens’ rights? The rights of minorities? Want to ensure a vibrant economy based on future technological development? Want a Supreme Court that is not certifiable? Want to keep some of those foreign college and university students on American campuses? Want to keep Wall Street regulated? Want a living wage? Want clean, modern efficient public transportation? Want to have a democracy that will enable you to criticize and effectively change some horrible foreign policies? Want to ensure universal access to good public educational institutions? Want to curb gun violence and rein in some of the abuses of police power in minority communities? Want to make sure kids don’t go hungry (my pet issue in my community)?

      Then start being a little more opportunistic, and a little more tribal – because if we are not, and do not exploit our political opportunities, the other side surely will (gerrymandering anyone?), and they consist of bad bad people. And I for one, as I get older and grumpier (with or without coffee!), am getting a little wearied of the Left, in the interest of fair play (which frankly the GOP scarcely deserves at this late date) deciding that “the mean do not justify the ends”, and expressing the creed of the “fierce urgency of . . . whenever” on some of the pressing - in some cases existentially so – policies listed above.

      Addendum: I can already hear the cries of “BUT HILLARY WOULD HAVE . . . “ Fine. I know that – “Wall Street!”, “Nuclear war with Russia over Syria!”, blah blah blah blah (and I really doubt the latter because she may have been venal but not crazy). But the potential for progress and stability within this country was much greater with her than with the OWCPB. That is the simple truth.

      Time to take the gloves off.

  • Demonization of Putin as "Personally" behind Clinton Hack is old Propaganda Technique
    • It further occurs to me: Lost in all of this is that the president elect and his staff (e.g. Monica Crowley) encouraged hacking of Hillary's emails by Russia. Encouraging foreign interference in an American presidential election so publicly - that's kind of a big deal. So I remain flummoxed as to why any who point out Russian interference are being accused of some sort of involvement in a new Red Scare (see, e.g., a number of posts at the Intercept).

    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 12/16/2016 at 10:13 am

      “The leaked allegations supposedly from the CIA that Russian President Vladimir Putin “personally” directed how hacked emails from the Clinton campaign should be used should be treated with a good deal of skepticism.”

      Yes, I agree, but there really didn’t need to be any “direction”; any observer of US politics would have understood the press’ obsession with Hillary’s emails. Hillary + email = guilt of something, anything. Any even half-hearted observer would also understand the hay the GOP together with the press would make of this, so again, there wouldn’t be much “direction” needed. The leak per se would be enough – and it was, receiving play on the front pages of the NYT and WaPo for days. That same observer would understand that the GOP gets away with murder, but the Dems can’t scream like Howard Dean (see Prof. Cole’s post yesterday on why GOP presidents can go hard right, but Dems can’t do the same).

      “I have already said that the allegations of effective Russian interference in the US election do not make any sense to me. There is no point at which anything Russia is said to have done can be shown to have determined the election outcome.”

      And there never will be any way to show that it did, because so many factors go into any election, and this one all the more so. Remember President Elect Flibberty-Gibbet (hereafter PEFG – his name is of the language of Mordor, which I shall not utter here!) just won the electoral college by a mere 80,000 votes in a few counties in three states. Racial backlash, a stagnant economy, general moral malaise, years of being stewed in an absurd and vicious right-wing media environment, Clinton fatigue, Neal Postman’s nightmare (by which we are amused to death), FBI interference, voter suppression – lots of factors went into Black Tuesday. Could it have been Russia’s release of hacked DNC emails? Possibly, but there’s literally no way to know in the end – there were just too many other factors.

      His dictis, the possibility that Russia got lucky can’t be dismissed, esp. given the connections of PEFG and his Band of Flying Monkeys (aka assorted cabinet nominees and presidential appointments) have with Russia (such as Manafort and Tillerson), and how Russia stands to profit from this monstrous presidency (esp. in the case of Exxon’s and Tillerman’s desired $500 billion dollar oil deal with the Kremlin). And why wouldn’t Russia want to weaken American democracy and our system of governance if it can further Russian interests? (And this is just off the top of my head – I know there’s a good more to this than what I just laid out).

      I hold out that I am entirely wrong and abhor conspiracy theories. I want to stay sober about what I read in the papers, esp. given the nexus of authoritarianism and the fraught information environment in which we now all find ourselves - but by historical standards all of this seems just too much a series of coincidences, and there is too much a critical mass of them to simply dismiss. Can someone explain why this is not believable, given the circumstances?

      I must confess that part of my confusion about possible Russian involvement is because so many good, independent journalists (from Josh Marshall to Amy Goodman) appear to have accepted what others whom I equally respect (Prof. Cole’s post here as an example, or Glenn Greenwald) are calling a psy-ops by our own government. To what end? CIA and FBI types tend to be right wing – why would the CIA have an interest in keeping this story alive?

      Could it be they hope to bring down PEFG because they fear him? Why would the CIA destabilize its own country through calling into question the legitimacy of a presidential election? Is it just to keep pressure on the administration to follow our traditional policy towards Russia? Do they fear PEFG will let Putin gobble up the Baltics?

      I’m posing these questions because I am genuinely confused here and would like to know. What do others think? Are we a victim of Trump’s razor [the stupidest explanation being the most likely]? If we are, what is that “stupidest” explanation? Any comments or enlightenment would be appreciated.

  • In the shadow of Trump, a DAPL Victory and Global Protests against Fossil Fuels
    • . . . - so Cliven Bundy and his group show up with guns and the Feds are afraid to confront them because they threaten violence - both in Nevada and Oregon, but water canons on Native Americans and First Peoples in freezing temps? Sign them up! . . . stop lecturing anyone about errors. Again, whites are freedom fighters, people of color or Natives terrorists?

  • 5 Trump Headlines more outrageous than the "Hamilton" Tiff
    • Have you read Hannah Arendt's Origins of Totalitarianism? Try it sometime, she has a good analysis - and disturbing. I see no way in which this can be justified, and much of this sounds like special pleading. I will say this to Mr. Glad frankly though: you are wrong.

      How Hillary's private email server got her excoriated while Trump's embrace of anti-Semitism gets explained away tells me we are in a deep moral sewer - and no, I did not "like" Hillary, but we have seen this KKK/Nazi show before, and it leads to a dangerous place.

      Plenty of Jews corroborated with the Nazis and were protected - this is news to you? It's shameful and backward. Why don't you go read the 1922 New York Times article on Herr Schicklegruber - they were equally (and ominously) dismissive of anti-semitism.

    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 11/21/2016 at 8:45 pm

      Oh, like, uh, say, Aristophanes, whose parabaseis in ancient Athens were intended to directly confront the audience with the politics of the day and challenge them? Read your Frogs, or Knights, or Birds. Yeah, political confrontation in the theater - soooo undemocratic. Theater is THE place for political confrontation and argument - do you think it coincidence that MacBeth was one of the first plays performed in post-war Germany? And just what the hell do you think Shakespeare's Caesar or Henry VI trilogy were about but the politics of his day, couched in the "safe" casing of theatrical production? The last time I saw the Persians performed (written by the great ancient Athenian playwright Aeschylus), it was clearly intended as a direct commentary on US involvement in Iraq (a map of the Persian empire was projected on a large screen at the play's opening, with SUSA as the capitol, and by the time the backdrop had projected on SUSA all that was left was USA; the Persian courtiers were dressed in three piece suits but wore Persian robes). Sorry, but you are just wrong on this.

  • Four years of Trump could really sink the planet
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 11/12/2016 at 12:28 pm

      Thank you Gregg - this needs emphasis. Here in western Oregon I thread a needle - you need leaf drop to be able to spray your fruit trees to prevent fungal infection of the fruit and the trees themselves, otherwise production is depressed when trees become vulnerable to infection.

      In the past that leaf drop would come with cold temps starting in late August. The rains usually come around October - there was time for one or two fall sprayings (particularly important for stone fruit - plum, peach, apricot, cherry). The past few years I have not been able to do this - the temps are too warm and by the time the rains come still to warm for leaf drop. With some trees I get lucky, but increasingly this is a serious problem - the timing of leaf drop and the advent of the rains.

      People will not understand this until the price of fruit goes through the roof. And even then, only if it impacts the price of wine, hard cider, and ultimately beer if the weather becomes too unstable to manage hop production, a distinct possibility.

  • How can Progressives get through the Next 4 Years? Organize!
    • There are so many things wrong here I don't know where to start. Look, a democracy just kicked 240 years of liberal republican and democratic government to shit and handed over the nuclear codes to someone with the temperament of Gaius Caligula. This is a unique menace. Are you a part of this world? Will fall out some how miss your neighborhood?

    • Oh thank goodness, I'm so relieved. NOT! Have you seen who surrounds The Vulgar Talking Yam?

    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 11/11/2016 at 6:59 pm

      "no more divisive identity politics"

      I hope I am misreading you, but this sounds like code for "roll over and let the Orange Menace persecute the minorities he wants". And just how far do you think we will get with economic justice as the Orange Menace smacks down equal pay for equal work laws, as he privatizes social security? But yes, I in part do agree, the new left crap practiced by Bill did his wife no good.

    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 11/11/2016 at 6:55 pm

      There was nothing remotely predictable or dour about the election of Obama. You are treating this as normal - it is not, and we will not be Gas-Lighted.

  • The Hatred that Trump's Lies will Leave Behind
    • And let’s not forget the anti-Semitism Juan. One of the closing ads of his campaign is laden with anti-Semitic tropes and not-so-subtle dog whistles, and this has been a hallmark of his campaign. Steve Bannon is a notorious anti-Semite, and when you refer to the Alt-Right, well, we all know who their predecessors were. Josh Marshall at TPM has been admirably on top of this issue.

      A day or two ago (to whine a bit) someone in comments said I had no argument because I referred to Trump and his supporters as Nazis and they felt that was the last refuge of someone with no argument. I hope they take a real hard introspection at their assessment of the current GOP and their candidate, who is around him, and what is going on. What the left must now fight – in addition to the decades long horror of militarism and regressive social policies on the right – is now a revanchist and retrenched open racism that, as you point out, will be hard to fight.

      My particular anger is at people my age (50 something) or older: Growing up I sat at the dinner table and heard horror stories about the rise of Nazism, about relatives in Europe who were occupied by jack-booted thugs who wanted to Make Germany Great Again. I am sure many many others did too, and may have even heard about relatives no longer living because they died liberating a Europe occupied by the very ideology Trump supports. The battlefields in Europe are littered with the bodies of uncles, brothers, husbands, sons, never known because of our former commitment against this ideology. How could they vote for such a thing?

      Of course we know how. Jason Stanley, a philosopher from Yale, had a fine essay in the NYTs yesterday about this. The authoritarian personality creates a new reality and a befuddled populace accepts it, no matter how ludicrous. (Stanley cites Hannah Arendt’s Origins of Totalitarianism in his article). They (i.e., strongmen) “convey power by defining reality”, the reality is a simple one, and “offered with the goal of switching voters’ value system to the authoritarian value system of the leader”.

      The wild success of this this year is, of course, extremely dangerous and will have long term implications, since our electorate has now been marinated in his vile stew of a surreal environment that feeds on hatred, rage, and corruption (and need we rehearse the history of hate radio’s and Fox’s 30-odd year foundational contribution to this?). If we mercifully dodge the bullet of open civil conflict, then at the very least the new reality will be openly fighting fascism in the highest reaches of government.

      The bright side? Well, if you have no respect for the Constitution, at least you can’t make a coherent argument anymore for keeping the second amendment. Oh wait, I said “coherent”, didn’t I?

  • Top 5 urgent Climate Change/Election Stories MSM Suppressed
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 11/05/2016 at 3:45 pm

      Thanks for this post Juan – it is a disgrace how this went utterly ignored in the election. Let me add my own two cents. I live in the Pacific Northwest. Ocean acidification, algae blooms, and an oxygen-depleted ocean have caused significant stress on our crab and oyster fisheries out here. Last year due to unusually warm ocean temperatures they had to truncate the crabbing season. This resulted in losses in revenue for families who depend on these fisheries for their livelihood, loss of tax dollars for these communities (and the state), and last year the price of crab, when the season did come on, was effectively doubled – so expensive (at $36 a lb.) that the average household could not afford it. Of course, this loss of revenue and industry has a ripple effect in coastal communities, which are already poor to begin with, esp. in my home state of Oregon. I would be interested to know how much climate change is now costing fisheries in this country. My guess is it is not good.

  • Save America from Trump to fix America, or, Did your Mother Drop you on Your Head?
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 11/05/2016 at 10:03 am

      And PS - If I could have delivered this in the voice of Lewis Black, I would have!

    • To respond to all of you: First, yes, Clinton is horrible on the Middle East and on foreign policy in general. I agree. But I am not a single-issue voter. I want to see a woman’s right to choose maintained in this country. I’d like to see more initiatives for children in this country and abroad. I would like to see progress on making health care affordable and accessible in this country. Some gun regulations would be nice. So yes, all of her baggage that is cited concerning the Middle East can leave me apoplectic; but there are other considerations.

      I confront hungry children in our schools every day – I live in a distressed deep red community in a deep blue state. No one would more like to see various agencies (the FBI, homeland security, the military, etc. etc.) brought to heal so resources could be shifted away from the destruction of the poor abroad so we can rescue them here at home, and in a normal year I would have registered my displeasure with a vote for Stein.

      But history tells me to know an authoritarian when I see one. And yes, for years the term “Nazi” has been thrown around with too much levity, and it is not a term I use without understanding its gravity (in no small part because I’ve seen what the Nazis wrought in Europe first hand). But it is the Orange menace, who has interjected authoritarianism into our politics (and I agree with Billy Glad that the conditions we now face in this country have enabled his rise). He has called for the imprisonment of his opponent. He has called for her assassination by implication. He has encouraged violence at his rallies. He has called for the mass deportation of an entire ethnic group and the banning of another. He has now politicized the FBI, and will clearly use it as a lap-dog to pursue vendettas. He has embraced violence and Chaos on a global scale – and one can read unfiltered his own words and watch unfiltered his own rallies and see for yourselves. Do you want a list of the misery he will inflict as he stacks the supreme court, as he guts all clean energy research and environmental regulations? As he repeals the ACA? As he allows Paul Ryan the sweet victory of gutting Medicare? As he takes out the long knives on everything from legalized marijuana to Nato? You think you have an uphill climb with Hillary on progressive issues, just wait until 40 years of rule by the Trump family.

      All people had to do in Germany for evil to emerge was to stand by and say nothing in such a situation. I refuse to have that on my head. To stand by when a violent racist spews such vile rubbish is in a very real sense to stand with him. Silence is tacit acceptance. At this late date, to dismiss the analogy of 1930s Germany, to paraphrase William, is to show that one has run out of arguments – or is simply not paying attention to the present moment, to history, or whistling past the graveyard.

      The choice is stark: the possibility of democratically addressing the issues of concern to all of us will still be possible under HRC – and no, they will not be easy to address. But you simply cannot make the same argument of the Orange Menace with a straight face.

    • Dear John Wilson, Nairba, van der Merwe, George Corsetti, Steerpike, Billy Glad, and Bill Bodden:

      I truly hope you do not believe the false equivalence you have all laid out. Some of you have left good, informed comments in this section before. I have gone over and over what I might be missing. Under Trump I am guessing that Juan – and maybe even some commentators given the FBI’s patent hatred of Hillary and her supporters – will end up in prison if not worse. I am guessing that the readership here is older and educated (but maybe I’m wrong). So why are you supporting an open racist? An open misogynist? A man who advocates for torture? A supporter of Neo-Nazis and the KKK? What. The. Fuck.

      So the grand experiment of democracy is worth kicking to shit because it’s . . . imperfect? Really? As a Noam Chomskyite even I can see the dangers of Trump. He is a Nazi. His children are Nazis. His supporters are Nazis. And if you do not vote against him and for Hillary with one voice, history, if there is any left after the Mafioso Trump, will remember your names. We will see to it. We will remember who, by their “hip” skepticism”, by their false equivalency, by their “green” protest votes, who supported destruction of the climate, nuclear Russian Roulette (if we live through that one), and an open racist who embraced the very ideology for which Americans died and are buried from the battle field of Gettysburg to the shores of north Africa and Normandy.

      All named should be very ashamed. Very ashamed. Hillary is imperfect, but will respect democratic norms to the extent that they make change possible. Trump will not. O homines ad servitutem paratos!

      Oh and I would be remiss were I not to add . . .


  • Starstruck & Party-Fanatic: The Moral Paradox of Trump Support
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 10/27/2016 at 9:24 pm

      Wait, what?! "No evidence"?"Would not today"? I guess it depends on how you define "ordinary Americans" and read the electorate. Seems about half the electorate is quite happy to "make the sands glow", "bomb the shit" out of "them", and believes it okay to murder families of suspected terrorists. Far too many people respond to the Orange Menace's barbarity and are supine even at Clinton's "soft" cruelty as regards various foreign policies.

      No, that's by no means "all Americans", but it's a helluva lot - too many. Too too many. And a good number would fall into line if the propaganda machine got fired up (see Afghanistan, Iraq I and II, etc.)

      Che disastro!

  • Trump Campaign: The Donald's 5-Point Plan to Defeat Islam
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 10/22/2016 at 8:46 pm

      “These policies are unconstitutional”.

      Um. do we see what is happening in this country?

      The Constitution no longer matters – and that is terrifying to me, and should be to everyone. Democrats, Greens, Libertarians, Independents, Communists, everyone, must push back against this. We hear all manner of shit about the 2nd amendment from Republicans, but their argument is now hypocritical and ridiculous. They have made clear, by the backing of their nominee, that they care nothing for the Constitution, or the principles enunciated in such quaint documents as Common Sense, the Declaration of Independence, or the Gettysburg Address. They have approved turning 240 years of sacrifice by the citizens of this republic into a fucking farce.

      This is the new reality we now face – every four years mightily fighting against demagogues supported by hateful rubes who have no commitment to democratic government or principles, who will lay the principles of liberal democracy and inclusiveness by the heel if they can just obtain power.

      Fine – plenty of people hate Hillary. How much more will you hate someone who, depending on their mood in the morning, will have you audited for speaking out against him? Or have you thrown in prison for dissent? Or fuck up the economy with a nasty little war because of a fit of pique? Or completely deregulate industry and take us to environmental and economic Gotterdammerung?

      Don’t like democracy and the fixed system? Hoo-boy, wait til you try fascism. That will be real great for the economy – oh wait, there won’t be one because there won’t be anymore property rights, just the whims of an autocrat who may or may not deign to let you keep your property and the meager wealth you’ve accrued working over a lifetime.

      Democracy is like the smallest particle of the atom – it’s a mystery as to how it works, but it somehow does - but it relies on the virtue of the citizenry, and this is collapsing before our eyes. This is not funny or cute – the GOP really does need to be outlawed. Mark my words, we are looking at a situation where we will in the not too distant future long for the days of something as "benignly malevolent" as a ban on Muslims.

      The country panicked over 9/11 - that was plain dumb. But the current nominee of the GOP - well, that is a patently grave threat.

      And as always . . .


  • The Mosul Campaign and the 3rd Presidential Debate
    • GrumpyWithouCoffee 10/21/2016 at 9:01 pm

      . . . [You fail to mention] history, the history of rhetoric, of the 20th century, and what such rhetoric can bring about (see above GWC comments; also see Wansee Conference; Holocaust; Herman Khan and the "winnability" of Nuclear War; or better yet, just sail up the coast of Norway and see the destruction [STILL in evidence to this day!] that The Orange Menace's way of thinking can bring about).

    • Sigh. So many ignorant comments again! Oh we know EXACTLY what HRC will do, so the Orange Menace must be allowed his due. Fergawdsake gimme a break. Most of you in comments (yeah, here goes my Festivus list of grievances), you know nothing about what the Orange Menace will do – zero, zilch, ouden, nihil , nada – because it will depend on what pussy he has or hasn’t grabbed that morning. Yeah, I get it – HRC bad in the Mideast, and I agree. So WTF, let’s just kick the remaining shreds of democracy to the curb – is that what you all want?

      I have students who need a future. Who need even a [dys]functioning democracy so they are at least still allowed to protest against it. HRC will give us that at the least. The Vulgar Talking Yam will not - this should be clear to anyone who has listened to this creature. Btw, as a teacher, I kind of like having kids who have at least been fed and given a good start. HRC has been a champion of children’s issues in this country. What has the Orange Menace (or any of you) done to make life tolerable for kids in this country lately? (And yes, you f*****g bet I want an equally tolerable life for the children of Aleppo (or any other city in the world), a city I happen to love [or did before it was destroyed]). For that matter, what is your solution to the crisis in that part of the world? What would any of you do or be able to do? It seems we are Gulliver on the Strand - but with one hand loose.

      Trump has incited violence, hates Blacks, Jews, Hispanics, women, and LGBTQs. Last night he showed utter contempt for a democracy for which many have died. Hope you are happy with your white supremist neo-Nazi. My relatives in Norway and Denmark were occupied by Trump’s mindset in the 40s. I had relatives – and so did many of you – who fought and died against his ideology. Shame on you. Shame and eternal shame. Nothing but shame for any who lend support to this impiteous peri-wig-pated pustule.

  • The Vanity of the Billionaires: Circuses and no Bread
    • Grupywithoutcoffee 10/17/2016 at 8:11 am

      You're a lesson in history Sejanus . . . that above all else . . . mankind . . . still needs . . . his sense . . .of smelllllllll!

    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 10/16/2016 at 10:27 am

      Actually Juan the plebes were already rioting during the “republic”, and Rome had to take extra-constitutional measures at times to end it. In fact, there is much debate among scholars in my specific field of Roman history as to why the Roman republic fell – there are plenty of theories. One suggestion is that the republic had been in a state of chaos for some time (the situation was already bad enough that violent civil strife broke out in 133 BC). Rome stumbled through a series of crises but normal government, with some exceptions, continued. But during this time (and really even before 133 BC) the Romans saw a gradual collapse of public virtue. Commitment to the commonwealth grew ever more tenuous among the people at large, many of whom had been impoverished by the rise of “big agriculture” in Italy itself (and the importation of slave labor, which further degraded small farm life in Italy, but I digress).

      The really bad bad move was opening up the army to men of no property standing. Generals could bribe them with monetary rewards and land in exchange for political support. Instead of loyalty to the state cults of personality arose and political support shifted to those generals who had the cash to dispense to their veterans in exchange for their support at the ballot box (open bribery during elections did not hurt either, nor did the occasional roughing up of political opponents [Caesar hired gangs of thugs to drive his political opponents away from electoral assemblies]). The corrupt system stumbled on for decades until Julius Caesar crashed the whole thing down.

      Caesar has been much on my mind these days, thanks in part to the absurd candidacy of the Tiny Fingered Orange Menace, and has me rethinking this whole subject. Rome may well have stumbled on as a republic. Rules had been violated before Caesar, and extra-constitutional measures (such as the extraordinary commands of Pompey and his predecessor Marius) had been taken before. But Caesar broke the rules – spoken and unspoken, on a breath-taking scale and at a breath-taking pace (his conquest of Gaul was remarkably aggressive EVEN BY ROMAN STANDARDS [no pun intended!]), including a Blitzkrieg against Rome itself, making himself perpetual dictator, breaking into the state treasury, disrespect for the dignity of Rome’s political traditions, obtaining divine honors, and packing the legislative branch of Rome’s government with hand picked men. No one could keep up (sound familiar?), and the republic was exposed as a fragile shell (also frighteningly familiar).

      But the Romans had a damned good excuse for the rise of a dictatorship, to wit: both the people and political class were exhausted by a century of civil strife (absorb that – A CENTURY!), and utterly demoralized. Rome was a subsistence economy, most people lived on the edge, and civil strife was disruptive of an already personally precarious situation for many. Tacitus says Augustus absorbed the powers of the people, the laws, and the senate, into the person of the emperor, all the while maintaining the façade of a free state, and many were welcoming of it. This is what the founders feared in 1787 – moral collapse, venality, a people growing (to quote Adams) “less steady, spirited, and virtuous”, until you end up with a “basket of deplorables”. And yes, wealth inequality contributed mightily to all of this – both for Rome and for us; my comments are already probably over long, but Athens is perhaps the best example of this. The basis for their democracy was equality under the law, but it was also based on making economic circumstances for the Athenian polis at large better or at least possible for a larger share of its citizens, and they consciously understood this (see, e.g., Plutarch’s Life of Solon and Perikles’ funeral oration via Thucydides).

      And some addenda on Sejanus: He actually was never that popular, but he was feared. He successfully convinced Tiberius (never popular because of his reclusive, scholarly temperament) to retire permanently to Capri in 26 CE, and thereby controlled access to him. Tiberius didn’t really like to rule (he tried to give the senate greater autonomy, but Augustus, a micro-manager if there ever was one, had instilled it with a sense of obsequiousness towards the emperor), and so handed things over to Sejanus, his praetorian praefect. Sejanus, really Richard III in a toga, proceeded to plot against Tiberius, seducing Tiberius’ niece Livillla, murdering his son, Drusus, and persecuting any member of the imperial family who had a claim to the throne (Caligula somehow squeaked through that one!). How his plot to overthrow Tiberius was discovered is a mystery – it may have been a woman of the imperial court, Tiberius’ sister-in-law Antonia, who divulged it, but this, too, is one of the great mysteries of Roman history. Undisputedly though, few were sad to see this Vladimir Putin a la 30 AD go.

  • Vote For Hillary Clinton Or Die in a Fiery Apocalypse: A Letter To Young Progressives
    • Have you run for office? Have you organized? Have you contacted a representative? A newspaper? Have you protested? Shit, I have an FBI file - do you?

      Change is hard hard work. People died to get African Americans at least a modicum of respect and representation in this country. Crap, we had a bitter war and an abolitionist movement to stop the obvious moral sewer of slavery and Jim Crow - and we are still fighting it in this election if we have not noticed. Who of us have organized a peaceful protest or act of civil disobedience in our communities?

      I wonder how many keyboarders here have really done anything to alleviate the shit that goes down in this country. Yeah, be aloof, wise, and hip and vote for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson (Johnson? Really?) Then you can explain to hungry kids and impoverished elderly about the glories of your ideological purity. Laecasin! (As Petronius would say).

    • "he will be stopped" - you are ignorant. Not if the GOP wins Congress and they pack the Supreme Court. The GOP has Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Iran, Womens' right to choose, health care for children, etc. etc., in the cross hairs. If you want to set back and negate a century of progress on progressive issues and hurl an existential threat into the Oval Offfice, then by all means,vote for a vulgar orangutan that happens to have the power of speech. Bravo. Same goes for all of you other nay saying f******s. Gee, we don't have ideological purity so we'll just have scorched earth. Grow. The. Fuck. Up.

    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 09/29/2016 at 8:51 pm

      You are absolutely right on this. I see no reply to rbtl so will reply to it in this thread. Just google "Trump Central Park Five". There are a myriad articles on this.

    • Your comment is ahistorical. Hitler tried to gin up a war with Russia and succeeded. Putin is a bad actor, but I doubt that HRC would be as reckless as the opposition. However for me Russia is besides the point. Mr. T. is prima facie an open racist, bigot, and proud instigator of racial violence and hatred, not to mention a misogynist. I for one value a woman's right to choose, the continued march of LGBTQ rights, legalizing weed, better access to healthcare and food security. nd I value these things for my neighbors. You really think that creature from the GOP will do any of that?

      My voting for HRC has nothing to do with alleged re-ginning up of the Cold War. It has much more to do with the lesson of the 20th century, to wit: when some know-nothing says he is going to commit war crimes, mayhem, and openly discriminate against others to the point of humanitarian catastrophe, you believe them. My now elderly relatives from Norway and Denmark who lived under the Nazi heel for five grievous years would find many of the comments in this thread risible, were they not so horribly wrong-headed. Yes, I disagree with much of HRC's foreign policy, and I find it painful as a Green Party member to support her. But tell me with a straight face, from what you have witnessed of the Opposition, that he is fit for office. What world does anyone inhabit that makes this so?

      How is a man who calls for the execution of five innocent men in a full page ad who were later acquitted, a man who degrades women publicly, a man who lies as though mendacity were encoded into his DNA, who sets up a false university, who uses charitable giving as a personal piggy-bank, who is now under investigation for tax evasion, who fat shames, name calls, incites hatred against Muslims, even comparable? Where is our people's sense of dignitas? Clinton is imperfect and hated because she has had to make horrible (and sometimes wrong) and tough choices on public policy. The Opposition has never held public office, there is no record, and utterly unknown, but he has a personal record of very publicly acting in the most cruel, inciteful, perilous manner, with vulgar rhetoric thrown in for good measure, and can already fairly be said to have deeply degraded and imperiled our democracy.

      If you want a better government then work like hell for it. And if you don't like Clinton, then work to hold her to account - yes, even for the war crimes of which she may eventually be guilty, along with every other president from Truman on. Had we more accountability we would not find ourselves in this predicament. I write to my congressmen, to the president, to my representatives, to the papers. Sometimes, if you do the same, you might find yourself listened to and published - indeed you may influence policy, if only in a very small way. Che sorpressa!

      The opening comment in this thread quotes MacBeth; but if you want to see the fearsome results of ideological purity, I suggest everyone read Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, which encapsulates the disastrous results of such purity for the Roman republic. Our republic has a gun pointed to its head. It is appalling how many are willing to pull the trigger.

    • Dear Landgraff and McCool:

      You are both utterly wrong-headed and historically ignorant - the GOP candidate is an existential threat. Period. Read up a bit about Germany in the 30s, and see how Nazis treated even their fellow Ubermensch in, say, Norway. Clinton is not perfect, but don't let that be the enemy of the good and hurtle us all into Tartarus. I'll take the oligarchy over ochlocracy and its fellow traveler idiocracy at the drop of a hat.

    • A fine post, and it must be shouted to the skies for these last forty odd days before the election. We refer to the body politic. As such, what we are seeing is massive organ failure, brought on by multiple morbidity. I’ve referred before to the dread nexus – a country with massive power has a confluence of several factors – nay numerous ones, including inherent racism encoded into its DNA, a historic hatred and exploitation of its southern neighbors, an ignorant populace with massive kill power at its hands, a moribund press, venal office seekers, with economic and moral malaise both providing a fulcrum for all of the above. There are no doubt other organ failures, each feeding off of the other, that I am probably missing. We historians are in part to blame for being too dismissive of moral causality in undermining republics, having rejected the analysis of ancient writers such as Livy, Sallust, and Tacitus.

      Now in a fit of pique the demos is about to self-immolate. Worst of all, in a sense it already has. The republicans have betrayed every patriot whose bones rest from the shores of Normandy to the deserts of north Africa, for they have embraced the ideology against which our fathers and grandfathers fought in the Second World War. I will not mention the candidate’s name anymore, but those who support him, and the press, are as guilty as he is in their support of him. I no longer recognize half my fellow citizens as citizens, and will not dignify them with the name Americans. This very candidacy has, as far as I am concerned, delegitimized the GOP and their supporters, for they see what it is and do not denounce but run to embrace it – oh, cupido dominandi cunctis adfectatibus flagrantior est! You do not run on hatred, violence, death, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. I would not welcome a Nazi in my company, and so I would not those who embrace this carneficious creten.

  • Mainstream Media focusing on Political Infotainment, not Policy
    • This republic has now become pearls before swine. To quote John Adams:

      "[W]hen 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."

      There is nothing left to do - Trump is a genuine nadir who makes Dubya look positively statesman-like. Public virtue has now collapsed, the demos having pulled the walls about its deafened ears in slow-motion. I for one am just waiting. I am waiting for the end.

  • Top Six US Problems worse than Terrorism
    • 1.5 I need to insert this Juan. Childhood hunger in this country is an incalculable catastrophe resulting in, for all intents and purposes, lost or ruined lives. I've written this here before but it bears repeating: 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 a few hours late for your 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. We end up paying out in taxes vast amounts when if we invested a little in, say, free access to food for the hungry kids in our country; this, in turn, would result in healthier kids and adults who are productive and contribute to revenue rather than requiring further expenditure. And when you have fifteen to twenty percent of our children hungry at any one time, that multiplies into a huge drag on our society.

      As for number 4: an interesting fact that is little known is that this issue alone takes up 3% of our GDP in terms of the results and aftermath - yes, 3%. After a while it looks as though we are spending almost all of our wealth on really bad decisions and on being really crappy as a democracy at collective risk assessment.

  • "This Parrot is no More": The 2016 Presidential Election did not Take Place
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 09/17/2016 at 8:26 pm

      Yes I know. Both Clinton and Trump will do it. But do you really think the steamy pile of negatives on Trump's side are of less heft than Hillary's? C'mon! I for one will not critique the failings of Weimar and help propel the Reich to power. Trump's candidacy is an immediate existential threat - to our democracy, our country, our species, our planet. If you can't see that then you are either not paying attention, immensely foolish, or listening to Fox and reading Breitbart. Trump is - in numerous possible scenarios - an extinction event.

    • Okay Juan, point taken on the Middle East and Climate - though on the last point I think you are wrong. We’d like more daylight between the candidates on this issue. But here are some other “This is not a pipe” moments we could add . . .

      “This is not a representative people’s Congress” . . . because, well, they really haven’t done their job to represent the people’s interest.

      “This is not journalism” . . . because, well, the task of a journalist isn’t to present false balance but to challenge power and authority.

      “This is not the Constitution” . . . because, well, it’s been shredded for a long time now (oh dear 4th amendment and war powers, we hardly knew ye!).

      “This is not the Second Amendment” . . . because, well, it says well-regulated, not unregulated.

      “This is not an education system” . . . because, well, the GOP constituency especially speaks for itself.

      “This is not a democratic assembly” . . . because, well, we’ve devolved to ochlocracy (or plutocracy, or oligarchy, or idiocracy, or a combination thereof).

      “This is not racism” . . . because, well, if we don’t condemn it we accept it.

      “These are not war crimes or crimes against humanity” . . . because, well, the Geneva Conventions and Nuremberg Principles have been laid by the heel.

      “This is not torture” . . . because, well, it is not prosecuted or universally condemned by those who know better and are disingenuous in their defense and use of it. Plus, it’s the crudest of ways to treat any living thing.

      “These are not hundreds of thousands of Iraqi dead” . . . because, well, we don’t report it ergo, in a horrific perversion of Descartes, if we don’t think about it, the dead don’t exist, (except our own, and those are the only dead that count).

      “This is not a Muslim/Mexican/Insert Name of Hated Group Here” . . . because, well, half the voting population will cast their ballot for a man who wants to expel the Other.

      The republic is now a dead letter. How does this all shake out? Tyranny? Civil war? The whole thing defies the law of historic gravity – usually things need to be genuinely – and I mean genuinely - very very bad for the injection of either into society. Now it appears all you need to be is stewed and stoked up on a hefty rich diet of lies and slime oozing out of the goddam television screen to make you think taking arms up against the government a good idea (because you’ve lost . . . what? Or are going to lose . . . what?)

      But – and I say this as one who has voted for Nader and Stein in the past! - does any rational person think Hillary worse than Trump? Really? On race relations? On womens’ health? On education? On health care? Yes yes, she’s a terrible candidate and is fraught in a number of ways. But does anyone seriously think she rises to the level of mendacity, drama, instability, vulgarity of Trump? This is a man who raped his ex-wife, possibly both. This is a man who has cheated thousands of people in search of an education. This is a man who cheats contractors on his properties, who makes anyone who works for him sign off that they will not attack him in any way shape or form, who bilks contributors to his own charity, who incites his supporters to violence, who expresses admiration for dictators, who is Putin’s poodle-bitch, who called for the execution of six African American kids who were later acquitted back in the mid 80s, who says we ought to murder families of terrorists, who embraces his inner Chaos demon by sowing confusion about every policy issue (jejune though these be) he has proposed. While the lurid Clinton Foundation . . . uh, helps kids. Oh wait . . . EMAILS! BENGHAZI!!!! BLOW JOBS!!!!!! Quick, save the Republic and grab your Second Amendment!

      Honestly Juan, I read this post like the New York Times the past few weeks. You have focused on two issues – yes very vital ones – but used them to draw some sort of false equivalency, at least that is how it reads to me. Trump v. the local dog- catcher should be a non-issue. That we are locked in a tie between a know-nothing saddistic ignoramus who enjoyed firing people on Celebrity Apprentice and a former first lady/senator/secretary of state tells me that we are done. I no longer need to call for the destruction of the republican party because . . . well, no republic. We have fulfilled Neil Postman’s prophecy and amused ourselves to death.

      BTW, regarding the Monty Python reference – I’ve used that analogy for about 15 years now. Policy issues . . . pining for the fjords at GOP hands since nineteen sixty f*****g four!

  • Top 8 Syrian-Americans whom we'd miss If Trump had Kept them out
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 09/02/2016 at 1:28 pm

      Yes, I agree – she has voted for and supported, and still does, some horrible policies. But I also believe that the US will remain one of the most free country’s on Earth with her in charge – there will be potential for change, and hope will “cling to the rim of the jar” (to coin a Hesiodic phrase). The rights of minorities in this country, the right of women’s access to reproductive health services, and a host of other progressive issues, will at the least remain static if not move forward. We can hold her feet to the fire and be reasonably confident that she will relinquish power in four or eight years. Not so Trump. He is erratic, violent, and dangerous. He has run on sheer hatred and rage.

      I hate the neocons as much as anyone (and was no fan of Bill Clinton in the wake of many things in his administration – welfare reform, etc.), and Hillary’s support of their policies – they are indeed horrible (and that is an understatement). But Trump is actively running against the Constitution he theoretically will be sworn to protect (witness his intimidation of a free press), and far worse, running on the self-imposed creation of a humanitarian disaster (ethnic cleansing), and within our own country at our hands with our blessing (if he is indeed elected – we dare not count him out). I am astounded and horrified that so soon after the catastrophe of the 1930s and 40s we are flirting with a creature who is using a rhetoric we have heard before, and if that period taught us anything, it is to believe a racist hater is a racist hater when he tells you as much. And no, the industrialist cannot control him anymore than they could control the old guard fascists of that period. At this late date, not to cast even a negative vote for Hillary is frankly to actively support that.

    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 09/02/2016 at 11:51 am

      This is true Juan, and let me add to your list Governor Victor Atiyeh, the first US governor of Arab descent born to Syrian immigrant parents – he was governor of our state of Oregon from 79-87. Your post, too, is a good reminder of how important diversity is and what a marvelous contributor it is to our lives and culture. Thus has it ever been among humans – Romans recognized that their success was in the inclusionary nature of their society. While not perfect, the fact that they accepted conquered peoples ultimately as citizens they knew to be a strength, not a weakness. They contrasted themselves on this score with the Athenians and Spartans, both of whom were very jealous of citizenship and even, in the case of Sparta, practiced the occasional expulsion of perceived “foreign elements” (known as xenelasia). Romans looking at their Greek forebears viewed this as debilitating and one of the reasons, ultimately, for the failure of Athens or Sparta to become anything more than small local and regional powers that were relatively short-lived.

      We should all be deeply concerned at this point, as polls tighten and as the media gives his hateful rhetoric vast amounts of air time. Fine, plenty of people don’t like her, but when was the last time we heard a thing about Clinton outside of emails? A ridiculous situation for all when she is all that stands between us and a fascist who has run on a platform of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and who thinks himself fit to occupy the same seat as Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, and the two Roosevelts.

      After Wednesday’s speech I want to know, where is the Southern Poverty Law Center? When is the GOP going to be put on a watch list as a hate group? When?

  • Monsters to Destroy: Top 7 Reasons the US could not have forestalled Syrian Civil War
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 08/14/2016 at 8:27 pm

      You are right on that score - thank you for the critique! My worry still remains Trump's lack of commitment to our Nato obligations, esp. as regards the Baltics. But as Juan notes, let us not seek monsters abroad - there are enough here at home.

    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 08/12/2016 at 8:58 pm

      Hello Juan –

      About that Tacitus quote: the first part is equally important: Auferre, trucidare, rapere falsis nominibus imperium, atque ubi sollitudinem faciunt pacem appellant – “To steal, to butcher, to pillage they call by the false names ‘empire’, and where they make a desert they call it peace.” That is, appropriation of resources, as noted by the “barbarian” leader Calgacus who delivers the speech (though it was written by a Roman, i.e., Tacitus), is the pretense for empire. Gotta keep that Roman economy humming!

      But what is remarkable about the passage is that it was written by a Roman, who had no qualms about being quite frank about the reality of Roman power. It should be noted that Tacitus’ audience was, for the most part, the elite. The Romans were honest, frank, and open about the basis of their own power. We . . . well, not so much. But the Romans were pagan and had little respect for human life or the individual. We – with 2000 years of Abrahamic religion under our belt, need to pretend that we do, and (to lift an old movie line) are happy to be allowed to pretend.

      As always, pars Republicana delenda est!

    • No the other candidate is not "less bad". As Prof. Cole has teased out here, the Middle East is fraught. Will Hillary make it better? Probably not.

      But Trump's desire to cave to Russia, to essentially nullify our Nato obligations, and above all his willful ignorance of vital matters such as nuclear deterrence and the nuclear triad . . . well, you think the US is messed up, wait Europe is roundly destabilized along with a host of other regions in the globe as a result of an ignoramus who is in over his head.

      And at this late date, need we name a host of other problematics with the neo-fasc . . . whoops, I meant, GOP, nominee (I somehow always make that mistake!)

      And as always, pars republicana delenda est!

  • Trump threatens Sec. Clinton with Gun Nuts, imitates Tinpot 3rd World Regimes
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 08/13/2016 at 9:50 am

      Dear Mr. Yeah, Right:

      It does not matter how it was meant, it matters how it was heard, and the general consensus among just about everyone (except his most ardent stooges) knows what he said and meant and had to defend it or walk it back. Btw I note that you omit his follow up that “that will be a horrible day”, and the response of the gentleman sitting behind Trump whose jaw dropped, and who clearly stated how he understood it as Trump intended (i.e., not your way).

      Then you totally decontextualize the whole remark from Trump’s behavior and rhetoric as a whole, which is quite violent. Your whole argument is just special pleading, especially given that Trump’s rhetoric thrives on innunendo, praeteritio, and anacoluthon – lots and lots of anacoluthon (which serves to make his syntax almost indecipherable at times – kinda bad when you are trying to figure out policy on complicated stuff like economics or the Mideast).

      And at this late date do you really think a man who wants to disband Nato, who hates people of color, who doesn’t understand the most basic elements of our nuclear program, who wants to commit war crimes, who has zero commitment to our democratic culture or the Constitution, who denies global warming, who encourages espionage by an adversary, who violates every norm of that which we profess to be decent, just, and civil, should occupy the Oval Office?

      Oh, he didn’t mean when he said Mexicans were druggies and rapists that they really were? Oh, hahaha, what a relief! What a jokester! Clever fellow! Can’t wait for an inarticulate gas-bag to pivot to the thoughtful rhetoric of the White House’s current occupant . . . oh, wait . . . .

      And as always, pars republican delenda est!

    • This is the way a republic ends. No, it hasn’t been the best ride for the last 240 years: we committed genocide against the natives, embarked on imperial adventures, had a civil war, and committed more mayhem than I can recount. However in the midst of this horror we have somehow managed to keep the Union together. And we have done so with certain shared beliefs and assumptions that have at times been tested and stretched, but never so willfully shattered as now.

      Look, as noted before by me in comments, Clinton, believe it or not, is a fairly normal candidate: mildly corrupt, reasonably competent in some areas, in others not so much (her hawkishness I could do without). She tilts the scale beyond average by virtue of her experience, which is arguably offset by her weaknesses. But she adheres to the same norms that we have come to expect of a garden-variety candidate: decency in her public comportment qua candidate, adherence to electoral norms, respect for the democratic process. People should be waking up to the fact that democracy and republicanism is much more than free elections and majority rule. It is a set of deep intangibles whose outcome, we hope, is civility, respect, and tolerance.

      But inside Donald Trump are many Julius Caesars, but not because of any military or literary genius. Caesar willfully destroyed the Roman republic, and he knew what he was doing. Trump is attempting to do the same many times over, for his untoward comments are literally legion. He crosses our metaphorical political Rubicon daily.

      But now he has taken it to the literal level. When Rome crossed the line into political violence in 133 BC, with the murder of a tribune, Tiberius Gracchus, there was no turning back. Once that line was crossed (the person of the tribune was sacrosanct), it was easy for Roman senators to murder political opponents. Once that line was crossed, hell, why not do what Sulla did in 88 BC and lead an army against Rome and impose a temporary dictatorship? Once that line was crossed, why not provoke, as Caesar did, a civil war to avenge himself on his political enemies? Once that line is crossed, well, so many enemies are made, how could Caesar ever safely relinquish power? There was no turning back after that moment when Gracchus was murdered in 133, and it ushered in a century of political instability and civil war that did not end until 30 BC.

      You still want to embrace Trump after yesterday? Fine – and you can explain to the dead secret service agent’s family about what a corrupt oligarch Hillary was and how his kids are fatherless because of freedom or party unity or some such bullshit; and yes, I am aware of Hillary’s sanguine foreign policy record. Are you ready for generations of even more political instability in this country? Are you ready for even more economic instability, displacement, and social disruption? Good, because you are going to get it in spades.

      And as always, pars republicana delenda est!

    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 08/10/2016 at 12:12 pm

      To quote the late Christopher Hitchens in this instance: sinister piffle!

  • Donald "Dr. Strangelove" Trump and some of the Times We almost had a Nuclear War
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 08/05/2016 at 6:29 pm

      Your point does not address Trump's lack of stability in other respects. E.g., I trust Hillary to lay down power four years from now. Will Trump do the same? We can't bet on it. Hillary may violate the constitution here and there. Trump does not understand it in the least. Hillary seems at least willing and able to respond to the needs of a multi-racial and multi-cultural society. Trump hates it. She will protect reproductive rights. Trump will be a tool of the hard right on that score (he as much as said that Pence will run the show). Hillary will protect the health care of everyone on my farm who depends on the ACA. Trump the the republicans will shred it. Hillary at least acknowledges global warming. Trump does not. But above all, this election is about the preservation of democracy first and foremost - imperfect, nay, horrible though it is at times, because Hillary is a pretty establishment candidate (and no, that is not a bad thing at the moment), who at least understands the basics of government and will provide stability. And as one who has relatives in the financial sector, I can tell you they hate Trump, because, surprise surprise, markets and economies don't like uncertainty, they like stability, and dems are putting that on offer this year.

      Btw, I am well aware that violent policies are the "norm" for this country, and have done everything a private citizen can to change it - e.g., protest, talked and written to my reps, written and called the White House, voted, written letters to the editor of papers local and national, etc. etc.

      I am curious though, do you really think Hillary comparable to one who incites violence at rallies, who threatens media, attacks the first amendment, will gut NATO, Geneva, Nuremberg, and gods know how many alliances, who incites racial hatreds and divisions in this country, who calls for the murder of terrorists families, who attacks whole groups based on creed, and has made a host of misogynistic and vulgar remarks? Who has made so many horrible statements, cozied up to Putin, called for espionage against the US by hostile powers, shown admiration for the leader of north Korea, attacked a Gold Star Family, talked about the size of his dick with much self-admiration, and kicked a baby out of his rallies - and most though not all of that all within the past week? Honestly, what is the thought process here?

    • Thanks Juan – this simply can not be hammered home urgently enough.

      But . . .

      Dear John Wilson, Geoffrey Grey, Michael Williams, and Jischinger:

      While she is far from perfect and has been committed to policies to which I would vociferously object (and have, as a Bernie supporter who thinks Chomsky is pretty much on the mark when it comes to American and western powers): No Hillary is not the same or worse than Trump. Where did you go to school, and if so was any history offered? Or, hell, where have you been for the past year?

      Trump is a violent unstable individual. He has created a situation that is calling into question the very survival of our democracy. He has expressed zero commitment to our constitution. He has made clear his hatred of people based on race, based on gender, based on physical appearance and disabilities. He has confused hatred and violence for strength, and incited brutality at his rallies. He has expressed support for torture, and for the breaking of every convention from Geneva to Nuremberg. He is addicted to social media and committed to one thing and one thing only: self. He denies the existential threat of global warming. He wants to arm America literally to the teeth, proposing mandatory laws requiring guns in schools (!). If you think him mentally stable and fit for office, then you are just lazy, not committed to democracy, foolish, self-destructive, indeed, smacking pretty much of every sin that hath a name. He is a thug, and you are standing shoulder to shoulder with him, whether you vote for him or sit it out (or in the case of the Brit simply generalizing about politicians – a form of intellectual indolence).

      Hillary is beside the point and this has long since ceased to be about her. There are two people in this country at this moment as I have said before: democrats (small “d”) committed to the traditions, imperfectly practiced though they may be at times, of constitutional government, dignity of office, and civil discourse, and neo-fascists. And we have seen the fascist show before. And how did that turn out?

      You all need to do some serious serious soul searching and ask yourself, Where will you stand?

      And as always, pars Republicana delenda est (though they seem to be doing a pretty fine job of it themselves these days!)

    • Page: 2
  • Are the Muslim Khans better Americans than Donald Trump?
    • This is foolish - we have heard Trump's rhetoric before and we have learned that we must take people who call for ethnic cleansing, torture, suppression of the press, etc. seriously. See, e.g., Mein Kampf.

      If anyone thinks Hillary the moral equivalence of what Trump would be then I pity their utter lack of clarity or historical perspective and, for that matter, historical literacy. It did not take Hillary the other night - I have been asking people for months, do you REALLY want Trump with the nuclear codes? Really? Or in charge of the Supreme Court?

      As a Bernie guy, I'd rather have Hillary than Trump - at the very least some semblance of an admittedly inadequate status quo will be maintained hopefully on which the Left can subsequently build.

      Perfect? Of course not. But I need someone who at least acknowledges climate change for our kids. That is not foolery - that is understanding an existential threat that Mr. T. dangerously dismisses. You are just wrong.

      And as always, pars Republicana delenda est!

    • GrumpWithoutCoffee 07/31/2016 at 8:28 am

      Great post Juan! I honestly had a hard time watching both his speech and their long interview on Friday night - both are horribly painful. But this brave couple deserves our ear, and while I seriously doubt it, maybe this will be something of Trump's Joseph Welch moment in front of McCarthy.

      But we must remember, with the Republicans there already was no bottom - Trumpism has just opened and exposed the Abyss. And as always, pars Republicana delenda est!

  • The most Left Wing Supreme Court in a Generation? Sec. Clinton's most important Progressive Prospect
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 07/29/2016 at 8:41 pm

      I agree with many of your points but you are ignorant of history. We heard this shit from Trump in 1930s Germany. When people threaten to destroy our democracy through neo-fascism, rip up alliances, practice torture, and a gazillion other horrors, they also threaten to negate the sacrifices of the dead from Lexington to Gettysburg, from Normandy to Iwo Jima and beyond.

      I am more left than you - I despise the Clintons. But government and democracy is not perfect - it can be vicious, brutal, and horrible, and yes, Hillary is a part of that. But anyone who thinks Trump should be near nuclear codes is a fool. Look at the transcripts of press conferences; look at the tweets; look at the behavior.

      And anyone who supports Trump against Hillary is a fucking asshole. Go ahead - give everything to Trump and the GOP - kick health care, and Medicare, and social security, and our alliances to shit. But know that there are now but only two types of Americans in this country: neo-fascists, and democrats (small d). Which will you be?

      And as always, pars Republicana delenda est!

    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 07/27/2016 at 2:55 pm

      Okay Juan, time for you to weigh in; we are both history professors and it’s go time with the willful ignoramuses who equate being hip with skepticism or both-siderism. Dissent and skepticism are good – they are what has given rise to the great peoples movements of this country. However . . .

      Hilary may be flawed, she may be corrupt, she may be a part of a system we do not like that advantages the advantaged and disenfranchises the disenfranchised. But my neighbors have come to depend on Obamacare. Their daughters have come to depend on local Planned Parenthoods and womens’ clinics. The US thrives better as a diverse inclusive nation that as a gated community. Most of all, she is a solid if sometimes problematic bureaucrat who has experience in working government and engaging with the world. She is reasonably intelligent and informed. And I say this as one who has never liked the Clintons, was a Bernie supporter hard core, and voted Jill Stein in ‘12.

      But as for the other side, well, we have heard Trump’s Weltanschauung before (and yes, I use the German deliberately): we fought it on the beaches of Normandy, in the forests of Belgium, in the mountains of Italy. We buried people fighting against it in north African deserts and in French cow pastures. Hell, we fought and died for it in this country, from Bull Run to Appamatox Courthouse. It was the lie that people who are in any way different need to be excluded, deported, ethnically cleansed, enslaved, or shoved into ovens. What are people thinking? Who in the hell do they want? I will take the corrupt functionary over the mentally unhinged, unstable vulgarian with a microphone in his hand, nothing in his head, and his finger on the button. I trust Hillary to relinquish power if she loses in four years. Tell me with a straight face the same thing about the opposition.

      Hmm, let’s see, who do I want? A possibly corrupt but somewhat competent and experienced former first lady? Or someone who incites to violence openly, who lies as though it were second nature, who is boastfully libertine, espouses war crimes as policy, calls for ethnic cleansing in this country, is proudly an open religious and racial bigot, called for the execution of six African American kids in a full page NYT ad who were later acquitted, believes ignorance a virtue, will kick our treaties to shit, will repeal as much of the social safety net as possible, calls for Russia to interfere in a democratic election (and may well be in their pocket), has pursued cruel and duplicitous business practices, will pack the Supreme Court with gods know what, and believes the existential crisis of global climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese?

      Gosh, that’s a real hard one, could you run that by me again. For us lefties Hillary is far from perfect, but a Trump victory will set the left back . . . well, forever if he decides to go all martial law on us. Oh . . he won’t? Well thanks – I’m reassured. This is the danger of historical ignorance – why oh why is it so bad for Republicans to be ignorant of science, but okay for some on the left to be a know-nothing when it comes to history? Have people not heard this before? Have they at very least not seen the news reels? A Riefenstahl movie? Heard Laurence Olivier’s voice over on the World at War? Come on people: It’s not hip. It’s not cute. It’s not funny – any more than is the corn-pone humor of the ignorant right, often used to dismiss concerns of the left. Trump is an existential menace, plain and simple, in the way Clinton is not. And if you want to argue against that, then I’d like to sell you some Trump real estate in coastal Florida, since your candidate presumably believes there will be no sea level rise (hey, put your money where your belief is!).

      And as always, pars Republicana delenda est!

  • Top 6 Graphs that Refute Donald Trump's Lies about the United States
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 07/24/2016 at 6:03 pm

      "It will be exploited again and again by younger, more charming sociopaths until the country explodes."

      Well that is my other dark scenario. A while ago I had a conversation with some journalist friends. They were shocked at my pessimism, but I told them we very well stand to lose our republic still with a civil war or to tyranny, and I hold to my refrain that decades from now when all this crap filters out (if there is a decades from now - a Trump presidency renders that quite dubious), the GOP will need to be outlawed just as the Nazis were in post-war Germany, just as, frankly, any white supremacist group deserves to be. The convention this past week wasn't so much a convention as a necromancy of 1930s Germany, and age has not made the corpse of the Third Reich smell any better.

    • Juan you need to keep posting but I would argue that the situation demands a much more urgent tone.

      Trump has no respect not just for people of color, but anyone but himself. He has no respect for or knowledge of the Constitution, for history or science of any sort. That could be said of just about the whole of the GOP, but he has added a heaping and ominous serving of neo-Fascism to boot: utter disregard for truth, willful flouting of any form of social contract, calls for violence, and an active call for violations of every principled alliance, convention, and treaty from Geneva to NATO to Nuremberg.

      I have said it in comments over and over again, the GOP will eventually need to be outlawed as a white supremacist organization. It may disintegrate on its own. But Trump may get elected. Will he lay down power in four or eight years? Do we trust him to? What if he declares a permanent state of martial law? What if the GOP doesn’t lose down ballot and he gets in – will a GOP Congress rubber-stamp every dictatorial decree? Will he arrest his opponent(s)? We will no longer recognize the country because there will not be one. It can happen here – and is before our eyes.

      Timothy Egan wrote this morning that we are at our most dangerous moment since the civil war. We can quibble as to whether 1861-5 or 1941-5 was the republic’s most dangerous moment. But this is certainly comparable. And regardless, so much damage has been done – what happens if and when Orange Julius betrays his supporters and things are no better for them? Will they have recourse to arms?

      Honestly, we are playing Russian Roulette with our country, and the GOP is forging a chain that its ghost will find heavy to bear. As of this morning though there really is no GOP anymore is there? In this country now, there are just democrats (small “d”), and fascists.

  • Top 4 Republican Plagiarisms of the Democrats
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 07/22/2016 at 5:17 pm

      You posted too soon! The last night and Trump's acceptance speech was the most egregious plagiarism of all, lifted from Nuremberg in the 30s!

      Es lebe unsere Bewegung! Es lebe unsere Amerikanische Volk!

      And as always, pars Republicana delenda est!

  • Rep. Steve King, White People and 'Civilization'
    • GrumpWithoutCoffee 07/20/2016 at 12:11 pm

      In main I agree with you, but much of what you say is tilting at windmills. Hell, trying even to get students to remember the date March 15, 44 BC in my Roman history class is an uphill struggle. It’s kind of an important one in the annals of human history. I can tell you that even the prominent names of the 17th century you cite most of my college age students have never heard of, and certainly have only a vague idea of their significance – they are too f*****g busy tapping at that weapon of mass distraction the i-phone.

      Worst of all, in human historical terms we just went through a bout of fascism in Europe; I was born in ’63 and over dinner heard stories nightly about the war, about relatives occupied in Europe (Denmark and Norway), and my father made sure I knew in detail about what happened in Germany in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s. Anyone who heard similar stories and votes for Trump should be ashamed – and I know at least a fair number of the grumpy old farts making up the current GOP did, magnifying their disgrace.

      We have seen this show before, and we know where it leads.

      And as always, pars Republicana delenda est!

    • An interesting post Juan, but it needs some qualification.

      At this late date, any historian who does not understand the deep inter-change of culture and diversity in the Mediterranean and Near East would not be given much credibility, rightly so. E.g., “The Greek Miracle” is now understood to have been the product of rich cultural exchange, from the Mycenaean and Minoan (if the Minoans were indeed Greek) period on – exchanges with the cultures of Egypt, the Near East, especially Anatolia, and throughout the Mediterranean in general. The classical foundation of Europe is scarcely purely “white” (whatever that means, since as you point out Greeks have been a persecuted minority in this country), as certain know-nothings would assert.

      But it seems that there was almost a biological propensity, a la E. O. Wilson, towards aggression in the European tradition, beginning with the fiercely competitive Greeks and reaching its apex with the Romans and that this tradition of fierce colonial aggression abided into the modern era (hence the British Empire, Spanish conquistadors, etc. right up to French colonialism and so on). Europeans were just really really good at it (if you consider successful enslavement, extermination, exploitation and resource extraction inherent “goods” – I do not!), but so too were the Arabs (oh that fabulous seventh century!), the Turks, and the Mongols. Just not as good as the Europeans, and without the unique sets of historical circumstances and traditions.

      It doesn’t help things that many of us were raised and taught a particular narrative of human history which skews towards Europe (though I think it should, simply because of the reason stated above – an aggregate of fiercely aggressive cultures whose innovations, curiosity, and cruelty, led to the conquest of the planet and the establishment of polities based on ancient systems of democracy and republicanism; it was, after all, not the Chinese landing in Oregon, or the Polynesians on the coast of California, or native Australians landing in Chile who conquered the Americas).

      A couple of minor (or maybe not so minor) quibbles: Yes, the Celts could be savages, but as we come to learn, Stonehenge and its surrounding monuments constitute one of the most sophisticated achievements of the ancient world. On-going archaeological work verifies this. And yes, Charlemagne was not particularly literate, but he did us a tremendous service during the so-called Carolingian Renaissance, when he set out to have copied as many manuscripts of the pagan past as he could find. Many of the manuscripts that survived and were rediscovered by the Italian humanists of the 15th and 16th centuries were written in Carolingian miniscule. We would have lost significant works by Tacitus, Cicero, and others had this not taken place (and Tacitus had a profound influence on the Founding Fathers).

      As for Christianity and the Roman Empire – Christianity represented a huge cultural shift that few historians, I find, can really come to terms with. It replaced an entire cultural system (at the center of which was animal sacrifice and polytheism) that had existed for (possibly) as far back as 8000 years. That’s a long time for Zeus to sit on Olympus! But surely it was a series of demographic and political pressures that finally put a period on Roman rule, particularly a series of very unfortunate events (invasion coupled with civil war) that spiraled out of control from 378 (the Battle of Adrianopolis, a disastrous Roman defeat) going forward.

      As a Classicist I struggle with issues like this. Like you I hate the term “white” and even the term “western civilization”. (Like Gandhi, I think western civilization would be a good thing!) It is to impoverish our understanding of human societies and their histories when we suppress the contribution of divers communities. But I don’t see how modern inclusive democracy would have developed in historical terms without a series of complex interactions between Greek and Roman historical developments, French and English Enlightenment thinkers, and yes, Christianity; these are – perhaps - the most important (obviously not the only) influences, the deep background as it were, that have led us to inclusive democracy. Furthermore, I don’t see abolition, women’s rights, concern for the poor, and other socially progressive movements and inclusion happening in a pagan context: they want the deep ethics espoused in the Old and New Testament – I say this as a militant agnostic, and following the acknowledgement of Julian the Apostate in this regard.

      This is the complexity of our historical predicament though: the European cultures that conquered the globe have contributed much to make life in much of the world fabulous; they have also created Stephan Daedalus’ nightmare from which we are trying to wake up.

  • Omar Mateen and Rightwing Homophobia: Hate Crime or Domestic Terrorism?
    • So, we have a hyper-militarized society with guns rampant. We have in steady drumbeat a background noise of violence, racism, hatred of certain creeds (esp. Islam); it permeates our culture, it infects the vilest of two-legged creatures ever to rise to the top of US politics like so much pond scum. We give racism, hatred, violence, a media platform – these days via Trump. And we respond with candles and vigils when a normal society would have had a more human reaction like, I don’t know, um maybe massively surrounding the Capitol Hill with all those holding candles and saying, “Sorry, you are not leaving the building until this is resolved – we are going to just stop this shit”.

      Sorry, but guns, a perverted interpretation of Islam, mental illness, and homophobia may have all had something to do with this, but only may. At base though, the dead in Orlando, at Sandy Hook, in Roseburg, in San Bernadino, are dead by the will of the American People. We have decided to give gun violence a free pass. The dead in all of these places are dead because of all of us. By the will of the People. The murderer is in the mirror.

  • 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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