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Total number of comments: 156 (since 2013-11-28 14:43:02)

Steve

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  • 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 news.bbc.co.uk). 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,
      GWC

  • $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 digbysblog.blogspot.com

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

      (Link to link to thinkprogress.org).

      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 blogs.timesofisrael.com

      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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