Member Profile

Total number of comments: 247 (since 2013-11-28 15:36:04)

Philosophical Ron

A long time truth seeker, I was awarded "Highest Honors in History" for my B.A. in History from UCSC 12-74, and worked for over 9 yrs. FTE as a researcher-ghostwriter. Including that and other ventures, have been self-employed in micro-business 38 out of the last 40 years. A long-time advocate of small-d democracy, I have also been active in local politics off and on since the 60's, and I believe an op-ed of mine ten years ago actually caused local government to change its plan for re-developing our neighborhood, for the better. I remain active as a writer, a summary of my next book is up on my website, my old book still has original signed editions available. The website also has interesting ruminations on such topics as why Plato was wrong, how we shouldn't be waiting for the next "Mandela", how the American advertising industry can be controlled using current Supreme Court consensus, and how to effectively organize in American left-wing politics, among other topics.


Showing comments 247 - 201

  • The Last time there was this much CO2 in the air, Florida was under Water
    • philosophical ron 04/25/2017 at 4:41 am

      If any historians survive the mess that might hit us any year now, in the worst projections, will they say that American-sponsored petroleum-powered civilization suffocated itself?

      That's the very worst projection, that we've already gone too far, the climate changes & the human changes of the next couple of decades should tell. I do encourage looking at, and working towards, the most optimistic projections also.

  • 40% of California Grid Power from Solar, Sometimes Costs less than Nothing
    • I spent a mostly very nice 45 years in California, both South and North, where my memory of typical temperatures in the three cooler seasons of the year, even in Laguna Beach and San Diego, was several degrees lower than what we're seeing now on similar days in the Northwest. I also remember reading from afar about the horrible electricity price rip-off game that was legally perpetrated on Californians in the early 21st Century, I was so glad I got out before that, I might have become so angry I would have gone over the edge if I had lived that mess, on my marginal business income at the time.

      Thus I must again thank you so much for this positive news, I appreciate it very much. I will think harder about installing solar capacity at my place, where I've been having to find money to solve problems for 3 years in a row, yet I've got eastern, southern, and western exposures, I may as well invest in something positive as soon as I can.

  • In 3 months, Trump has Charged into 4 Mideast Wars, to no Avail
    • philosophical ron 04/16/2017 at 4:56 am

      Absolutely. At this point in our collective human evolution, when we have the (possible, if we don't kill ourselves and our planet first) ability to identify every person on earth, and record their history, we do need to evolve towards a non-violent democratic global citizen-led government.

      I wrote about this 35 years ago and stand by it.

      Unfortunately, we have not made much progress on such a path, and now it looks like we may have to do it in the next ten years, if we are to avoid disaster to our existing food-economy survival systems from uncontrolled, Trump-Pruitt-Putin-assisted climate change.

  • Russia's not Leaving: Syria is about old-Fashioned Sphere of Influence, not Oil
    • philosophical ron 04/11/2017 at 4:00 am


      I was trending towards this conclusion already, thank you for providing the detailed analysis that leads towards the conclusion of your last paragraph: "My guess is that the Tomahawk strikes were impulsive and a one-off. The Russian-dominated status quo is not significantly affected, and there isn’t an early prospect of it so being."

  • Al-Sadr: Russia, America and al-Assad should all get out of Syria!
    • Al Sadr sounds like he actually understands more about democracy, and more about how nationalism works in the modern world, than Trump or any of his advisors.

  • Trump intervenes in the Great Mideast Civil War in Syria
    • philosophical ron 04/07/2017 at 3:13 am

      Dear Juan, thank you very much for this analysis. I also like the analysis of modern wars according to their local, regional and international dimensions, I have stressed this when I have been privileged to teach young people about the two world wars of the twentieth Century.

      In just the few hours since the news broke, I have also wanted to see this as a "one-time" action, that interpretation would allow us to "swallow" it as a piece of world history, more easily.

      Yet we really have no insight into the likely thinking and future actions of the Trump administration, depending as it does on such un-transparent factors as Donald's attitude of the moment, the last of his inexperienced, and/or incompetent, and/or fascistic advisors he talked to, the current balance of the palace courtier"s intrigues, and so on. So we really can't rely on just our optimistic surmises to guess at future outcomes.

  • As Trump Breaks it, Top Ten Things we need to do to Fix America
    • philosophical ron 04/07/2017 at 3:30 am

      My first thought was, is this the William Polk whose histories of Southwest Asia and the Muslim world I have admired and learned from and cited for 40 years?

      All I had to do was to scroll towards the end to find the author's credentials, and see that the article was several thousand words long, to say, "yeah, this is the same wise Willam Polk."

      Hopefully you'll keep these comments open for a few days to give me time to absorb and contemplate Polk's latest thoughts in order to comment at least halfway professionally on the deep content and context he will no doubt provide.

  • Climate Change Solutions Can’t Wait for Trump
    • philosophical ron 04/07/2017 at 3:41 am

      Trump, Pruitt, Tillerson, the billionaire supporter Mercer and other dedicated science-deniers in the Trump clique unfortunately have the power, and the whims, to destroy all the good and necessary initiatives discussed here with a few strokes of Donald's pen on reactionary, future-killing documents.

  • What history reveals about surges in anti-Semitism and anti-immigrant sentiments
    • philosophical ron 04/05/2017 at 4:59 am

      Very nice summation of this time in our history, the counterpoint is that the 1920"s through 1952 is when all the Eastern Europeans and Jews and Italians were generally assimilated into "Americans."

      And the other counterpoint, which Trump and his alt-right supporters demonstrate, is that a hateful minority that focuses on blacks and Jews especially has always existed, in addition to a larger anti-immigrant political preference.

      Can we go further in conclusion, noting today's reality of a popular-vote majority and an activated social-political base of opposition to "a new generation of nativists, whose fears are used to justify turning away refugees and immigrants" ?

  • Putin joins ranks of Climate Denialists in support of Trump
    • philosophical ron 04/01/2017 at 4:39 am

      To take the liberty of quoting myself, at the most recent article at my site:

      " To the extent that Trump succeeds in boosting irreversible climate change and preventing the global phase-out of fossil fuels, and to the extent that he helps authoritarian/dictatorial regimes become more entrenched in their own nations and more important in world affairs, and tries to send America towards authoritarian government, it seems likely that Trump’s election represents the beginning of the Suicide of Civilization.

      Led by the most powerful actors in politics and economics, short-sighted selfishness at the top of society will eventually result in mass disaster; any surviving people will most likely be at the hunter-gatherer level of organization and ability. "

  • Was Michael Flynn Russia's “primary channel of communication with the Trump team”?
    • philosophical ron 04/01/2017 at 4:32 am

      And also, this "witch-hunt", or intelligent concern, as the case may be, is not "evidence-free." My own little website has not been "hacked" as far as I can tell, but I have had a fair amount of traffic from Ukraine and Russia, and apparently I have attracted the attention of the Russian intelligence machine. In November, Google analytics reported a new language being used by visitors to my website, with a 20-word name that began with " ... and ended with " for Trump." The unusual behavior of these 130+ visitors corresponded with 130+ visitors from Russia. Other new languages referencing Trump also showed up, and apparently their genius of this new algorithm that can fool Google Analytics made his own foray, since there was also 1 visit with a new language that was 20+ mathematical signs culminating in "Pascal was here." So even in my own little world, I have evidence that Russian intelligence is very interested in Trump and that they have developed scary, amazing capabilities to manipulate our media.

    • philosophical ron 04/01/2017 at 4:16 am

      I have caught the work of Thom Hartmann and Ed Schultz on the radio very often, and Papatonio a few times, and have greatly appreciated their work.

      But I do believe that RT overall is an agent of Putin's will. It is a very sad commentary on American media, that these gentlemen apparently feel that they cannot get on the air from any American company, and that they are forced to go to RT just to get on the air to continue to have a job in their chosen profession (where I haven't heard any of them for the last 2-3 years.)

      Have any of these gentlemen become an advocate of Trump/Flynn - type rapprochement with Putin's Russia? If so, thanks for your past work, but you're no longer one of "America's most progressive commentators" to me.

  • Are Progressives Suffering from Trump Fatigue?
    • philosophical ron 03/30/2017 at 2:41 pm

      The problem, I think, is people with little experience, and no clear plans for how to go forward, thinking that their dis-satisfactions with the Democrats justify a position of apparently making excuses for, and not providing any resistance to, a truly fascist party.

      You hate the bankers, support the 80% of the Democrats on the ground who agree with you on that. The relative moderates at the top of the party who do understand that big banks are a national institution that is not going away, they're getting the grassroots message plenty.

      We do need radical changes to survive. But guess what, the 5 to 10% of Americans who vibrate to radical messages have never been able to accomplish much (though their work in pushing the mass, from the edges, has been necessary).

      The challenge now is to get enough of a majority to overcome our own over-concentration in big cities, Republican gerrrymandering, dark-PAC money, Russian bots and everything else, and make our popular majority effective.

      I've done plenty of work with Democrats, I've done plenty of work against Democrats with tiny third parties. It's a lot easier to get to an effective majority working with the Democrats.

    • philosophical ron 03/30/2017 at 4:38 am

      I'm still too addicted to news reading, however I've been able to find many tasks and some pleasures that keep me from thinking about Trump for 2 to 5 hours, most every day.

      I've been tempted by political burnout too many times over four decades. I was convinced Nixon was going to be the end of the world. Later, I was privileged at a big left-coast radical conference where I was on the organizing committee, to present a workshop on "Avoiding Political Burnout," with 2 health professionals.

      You have to realize that in most cases political work will seem to go nowhere, but it is essential to keep at it, and of course realizing overall the importance of meeting and cultivating people and networks, in order to have someplace to stand, some network to work with, and hopefully be able to help people when those big crisis moments of change arrive. See my published writings, all types of organizing are always necessary at all times for success.

  • The simple Number that will Defeat Trump's attempt to Roll back Obama Energy Policies
    • philosophical ron 03/28/2017 at 4:52 am

      Basically, all human economic systems, and all the "modern industries" have depended on the ability to dump their waste products into the air, waters and lands of our globe, without incurring any economic cost, or any social disapproval.

      There's been some consciousness and positive social movement, German product-life-cycle laws are the direction we have to go. But do we still have decades to change these attitudes that still infect us all, from tenant farmers in distant lands through large chunks of basic business in America, before climate change really begins to bite with massive crop failures or fisheries failures or Gaia-knows-what ? This climate thing could surprise in 2 to 5 years, I'm worrying, maybe we've still got 20 or more.

      Either way, I'd like to see future humans existing and prospering, and not hating our whole 20th-21st Century "modern civilization" with a vigorous passion.

  • Trump & Saudi Arabia: Oil Boycott or Bromance?
    • philosophical ron 03/16/2017 at 3:45 am

      Thank you very much for that perceptive and nuanced explanation of the current situation.

      We have entered very deeply into a time when ALL the variables are trembling, ready to make one (or the opposite) big phase change depending on which way the winds may blow.

      Very interesting, in the words of the old Chinese curse. I'm gravitating towards the guidance of Bob Marley from "Exodus:" " we got to walk, walk all roads of creation."

  • Is the Public turning on Trump over Russia Ties, Sessions' Perjury?
    • It seems possible, even probable, that we have elected a person who -- even if he is not "officially" an agent of a foreign power-- is so aligned, in emotion and attitude and most likely by a huge web of financial transactions, with the dictatorial/corrupt elites of a foreign power, that he cannot be trusted to actually know or be able to defend American interests. (Which still exist, and which still matter to ordinary citizens if they get too badly neglected.)

      In organizing a resistance, I am strongly favoring strategies and tactics that aim at building the biggest possible coalition, and I am strongly not favoring strategies and tactics that call for everyone following one "ideal" path, or for organizing "against" some would-be allies who are insufficiently "pure" in some extreme perspective.

  • Dirty, Hot, Deadly: The Real Trump Scandal is What He's done to the Environment
  • Is Trump a bigger danger to the US or Europe?
    • philosophical ron 02/28/2017 at 6:05 pm

      A counterargument could well be made that the current Russian state is far more expansionist and aggressive (especially at using unorthodox methods) than either the old Soviet Union (after the 1950's) or your supposedly "increasingly bellicose NATO" (where I can't identify many civilian populations that want any kind of war). To wit, the takeover of "Moldova" starting decades ago with partisans and puppets, the readiness they had to take over their "disputed territories" in Georgia as soon as Georgia gave them an excuse, and their threats to the Baltics and Fnland, and their meddling in the Ukraine even before the recent "independent uprising" they organized and the Crimean annexation. Plus they seem to be light-years ahead of their Western counterparts in using all facets of modern media to cause confusion among their opponents.

    • philosophical ron 02/28/2017 at 4:05 am

      Dear Joschka,

      I fear that you are entirely correct about the importance of a Le Pen defeat or victory in France's second round election, for the short-term prospects of the European Union.

      In the longer term, the prospects for the survival and prosperity of the European Union or something like it, in the context of a sustainable civilization, depend on the trillions of decisions made by tens and hundreds of millions of citizens of the European nations. I flatter myself to think that my "learning aid," my intellectual proposal for helping individuals understand how their everyday decisions effect grand historical outcomes, which has within the last year enjoyed hundreds of thousands of "hits" from French and Ukrainian citizens, and tens of thousands from German, British and Turkish citizens, in addition to a diverse global audience, may someday help contribute to a more positive outcome for this world-civilizational-level problem.

  • Trump endangering rest of Us to hunt down the Law-Abiding Undocumented
    • Thank you again, Juan, so much, for this nice pile of actual facts on this issue.

      The facts on the 99.999+ % of human beings, ever since (large X number) of years past, are of course unknown, but not unimaginable. I would surmise that people moving into unknown and potentially dangerous situations, just because they couldn't stand the situation at their previous location one day more, is a very constant theme in human history.

      Even in what I call the "era of ancient empires" we have plenty of documentation of individual and group migrations in a wide variety of circumstances for a wide variety of reasons.

      People move. People are going to move. It's going to continue to happen.

  • Netanyahu rejected offer by Kerry & Arab Leaders of Comprehensive Peace Talks
    • philosophical ron 02/20/2017 at 4:50 am

      Funny, I was just reading something over at the Wash Post site claiming an entirely different history, that Kerry's initiative was doomed from the start as neither side --which this write defined as Netanyahu and Abbas -- made any kind of move off their previous positions.

      I do give a lot of credibility to this report, but I'd like to see more Arab voices saying it did happen. The Arab league states, presumably led by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait, etc., were really ready to co-sign a peace treaty with Israel ??

      Was it so tenuous that Kerry couldn't even hint at it? If such a big institutional change actually was in the realm of real possibility, that would have been a game-changer, one leak of it would have changed history.

      A very intriguing story, obviously still developing.

  • All of Putin's / Trump's Men
    • philosophical ron 02/16/2017 at 5:04 am

      Thank you superspy, I'm about ready to agree with you on these points.

    • philosophical ron 02/16/2017 at 4:57 am

      As one who has been reading past and (mostly) contemporary history while trying to understand which side of the knife edge our "civilization" may fall on, (the mostly positive where our grandchildren do appreciate us, or the disastrous that may likely send us back to hunter-gatherers for the few who survive, I do want to go with the conclusion on this I presented in my published work. (You can probably find it by searching my screen name. )

      " ---- most people were brought up in strong traditions, and even when they modify or rebel against those traditions, it is likely that they may consciously or unconsciously echo those traditions in the new customs they seek to create. Resistance to change comes at every turn: humans representing various channels of tradition and custom find reasons to prefer the old ways. Societies are often elastic: changes in social or political behavior have a way of “snapping back” into an older pattern after 5 or 25 years.

      Yet people do change as accidents intervene and trends rise or fall, subgroups and tribes do change in response to changed environments, and nations and civilizations change as well, as their fortunes rise or fall, as their human and/or physical environments are altered. The seeming contradiction between the positive and negative sides of tradition, the tensions created by the negative and positive aspects of change and revolution look to be constant in human affairs.

    • philosophical ron 02/15/2017 at 4:21 am

      Thank you again so very much, Juan.

      You conclude: "So Mike Flynn calling the Russian ambassor to the US in late December and reassuring Moscow about sanctions being lifted looks much more likely to have been a joint effort by the Moscow Gang of Trump and associates than a one-off piece of dark comedy."

      That reasonably seems to be an absolutely correct historical analysis, thank you again so much.

  • Questions about Judgment: Trump appointed Flynn in the First Place
    • philosophical ron 02/14/2017 at 4:17 am

      This is absolutely a step towards the light. You, Juan, bring up all the remaining questions very well, and of course I think you had the essential thread months ago with "For Russia's Hold on Trump, Follow the Money ... "

      The only regret will be if this timely resignation helps Flynn (and everyone else in this compromised crew) escape prosecution for their crimes.

  • Could NSA Flynn face Criminal Charges over Russia Ties?
    • philosophical ron 02/11/2017 at 4:34 am

      I'm sure others besides myself have been praying for this result since this stuff really started to break in December.

      And European security agencies are reported to be on the case too, it seems thick enough that there may be evidence of even more serious charges that the little-used and disputable Logan Act ? IANAL, surely there must be some charges possible, somewhere short of outright treason -- but that's possible maybe too ! -- of cooperating with or being suborned by foreign powers/agents ?

  • Spicer: Trump can Criticize Iraq War but no one can Slam Trump's Yemen Raid
    • philosophical ron 02/09/2017 at 3:01 am

      We have already changed the climate, spewing countless tons of CO2 into the atmosphere from wood and coal since, say, 1720 or so, and from those plus whale oil since 1800 or so, and then petroleum replaced whale oil around 1870 or so and metastasized into the gasoline economy after 1910 or so, and the whole mess has gone on for a hundred years plus now, at ever accelerating levels as formerly "poor" nations become "rich" enough to consume ever-more fossil fuels.

      (Yet I put "poor" and "rich" in quotation marks, because it's all a false, unsustainable prosperity. No clear way, under Trump, that the worlds of 2020 and 2030 achieve basic goals considering climate instabilty.)

      Now Trump (and his compromised/incompetent cabinet and staff) are trying to change, erratically and idiosyncratically, the relatively stable set of military/superpower relationships, alliances and priorities that has defined the military/power balance over the last decades.

      It is time to be very, very scared. However I will not let go of my intrinsic optimism: we the nice people have to work better, to server better, to organize better, and to find the ways to ensure that this madness does not last.

  • Trump's Larcenies to Come: The Looting of America
    • philosophical ron 02/08/2017 at 4:27 am

      Thank You very , very much, Tom Engelhardt, for this one today, and for all your years of service towards the science of History.

  • "This Land:" The pro-Immigrant Radicalism of Lady Gaga and Guthrie at Half-Time
    • philosophical ron 02/06/2017 at 3:26 am

      Thank you very much for all of that, Juan, you had quite a number of details on Woodie that I'd never heard before.

  • In Shocker, Federal Judge in Seattle Halts Trump Muslim Ban
    • philosophical ron 02/04/2017 at 4:21 am

      Praise the Lord!! Sing Your Hymns and Hosannas (as you customarily do among your friends and neighbors) !!

      Hope is very important.

  • Life in an Arab-American community under Trump’s ‘Muslim ban'
    • philosophical ron 02/04/2017 at 4:16 am

      it's happening, folks, it is happening. Here, Now.

      We need to be active, we need to be organizing, we need to learn how to best use and conserve our psychic and physical energies, to maintain ourselves and our families, while engaging in the most active and effective forms of resistance we have ever engaged in.

      (And I'm the guy who was so scared of Nixon starting World War III, that I trained myself to sleep without a pillow and/or on any kind of hard surface. And life did go on after Nixon, but those choices were very good for me, I lost the ability to sleep on hard surfaces somewhere around age 50, but I still never use a pillow, I sleep fine, no back-aches or neck-aches.)

      Adele Stan, a very intelligent writer, has a piece out on what we should and should not imitate in the Right's successful organizing over the last forty years. (Sorry,too late to troll back for a link, one of the progressive relatively-true websites.) I did already agree with her in focusing on cooperation at local levels between the various activist communities & tendencies that make up our progressive side of America, which is still the majority and is now the more energized side.

  • Iraqi Leaders Denounce Trump over Oil, Jerusalem; US Troops in Political Crossfire
    • philosophical ron 01/26/2017 at 3:58 am

      It's very hard to see Arab/Muslim nations eagerly associating with Trump's USA in anti-ISIS actions.

      Other comments on other threads here talk of an Israeli-Saudi alliance, that wants to work against Palestinians. I have no special insight or ability to read Arabic, nevertheless I see the Trump insistence on the Jerusalam embassy to be more likely to push the Salafist (and generally fundamentalist anti-government tendencies) in Saudi (and other Arab peninsula regimes) and pro-regime fundamentalists more closely together, in opposition to Israel and the USA. Any chance we in the USA face another Arab oil boycott?

  • The Inauguration of White Supremacy
    • philosophical ron 01/20/2017 at 3:59 am

      The whole Trump official-and-unofficial crew of appointments and advisors -- is Roger Ailes still talking to T. several times a week, is Russian tool Paul Manafort still getting an ear ? ? -- is so completely unqualified and both self-and-mutually-contradictory, not to mention the whole question of whether T. is a bought-and-paid-for Russian tool, or just a silly Russian fool -- the whole thing should fall into complete disarray, scandal and outrage in the first 3 months.

      Shouldn't it, please dear god, shouldn't it ??

  • Is Trump the Shock America needs to Transition to Social Democracy?
    • philosophical ron 01/21/2017 at 5:57 am

      To moderator: I am having trouble with your site grabbing my incomplete edit before I am finished with it. This is just one more attempt to get clarity and good English.

      The majority here seems to feel that the bad parts of the Democratic Party must be blown up and that their particular ideal solution needs to be adopted by at least 51% of the population.

      Please go out on street-corners and sell folks on your vision for the next year or so, and come back and talk to me. If and When you can mobilize millions of actual votes, I’ll listen. I’ve worked with Democrats for years, and against them for a third party for 15 years. Please see my writings on other sites about trying to work both with the Democrats, and against the Democrats, at the same time in the service of more progressive outcomes.

      But the first step is to have two other people motivated and organized to follow your ideal organization and outcome, right now today, to actually come to whatever meetings you call.

      At my peak I could get 100's to my meetings, and multiple tens of thousands of votes. I don’t have that right now because I haven’t been focused on that at all. Are you ideal theorists even close to getting to this first baby step ???

    • Dear Sir or Madam or Whatever Pronoun you prefer,

      You may wish to get back on your medications. You managed to mangle the meaning of what I wrote pretty completely.

      I did not say, that America's existing population, right and left and centrist and muddled all over the place, is an impediment to our work. As I see it, the existing American population _is_ our work. I was talking about progressives purposely seeking one ideal leftist ideology as being an impediment to our work.

      FWIW, I've been walking with America's left on various missions since 1964, I saved my American freedom by winning a stare-down contest with a Federal judge over my refusal to go to Vietnam, and for the last thirty years my success at retail work has let me meet a large part of America's population, in socio-cultural aspects it is definitely very left-leaning. And in this election it was Hillary 48, Trump 46, Johnson 3.5 and Stein 2.5, so even politically it's just slightly to the left 50.5-49.5.

      I am confident that I am far from normalizing Trumpistan. I am in favor of getting ultra-leftists to understand the work that will be necessary, the service we will have to do for people to get our message in terms they can understand, in order to get the votes we will need to overturn this mess.

    • It's easy to love your sweet writing that sings to our highest ideals.

      For the present moment, however I am favoring tactics and strategies that try to get us to the largest possible coalition.

      I am not favoring tactics and strategies that seem to trying for a maximum amount of ideological purity.

      Those of who can fly high and see ourselves as more "advanced" or more "committed" or whatever, need to remember that for every one of us, there are hundreds or thousands of people who can and will be persuaded to work with us IF WE TELL THEM THE RIGHT STORY, yet who for a million individual reasons are not pyschologically or philosophically ready to come all the way to our advanced ideas.

      I meet them at my retail job in a big city crossroads every day, old Black ladies repeating Reaganite talking points, recent Russian immigrants desperately trying to repair their rental plumbing because the landlord won't, but they only have a tiny budget and can barely speak English. How do we bring these folks along on our mission, which I agree with you we must launch ???

      Somehow we have to build a maximum leftist political power machine THAT GETS VOTES, while recognizing that "we" our constituency comes from a million different backgrounds and will never come together on any easy ideological unity. Asking for ideological unity in a practical ORGANIZATION of our actual American left-leaning population is an impediment to our work, IMHO.

  • World's Richest 8–All Men–as Wealthy as Half of Humanity: Oxfam
  • 6 Lessons From Nonviolent Organizing for Resisting Trumpism
    • philosophical ron 01/15/2017 at 5:25 am

      Generally very nice, I especially appreciate the distinction between "expressive" and "instrumental" actions.

      I wouldn't have been so determined that "Hillary's Neoliberalism lost" the election. In something so close, any and all things are a factor. Those who feellthemselves to be "advanced" in political understanding must remember there are many people who are and should be part of our progressive coalition, yet for whatever reasons of psychology or philosophy are moderate and centrist in some of their ways. We need to include them, not exclude them. I would point more to the effectiveness of 25 years of Republican hate-mongering vs. Hilary personally.

      Yes, Bill and Hillary went a long way with neoliberalism, and in early 2015 I was writing that would refuse Hillary over the problem of establishment Dem support for Monsanto running the Ag. Dept. and trying to kill and dilute organic and natural food ideas, but in the catastrophe of a "campaign" in which Trump got 80% or something of all TV news time, that issue was never mentioned, and Hillary came a long way towards the more militant progressives in her campaign, and of course I prefer her over the Orange Narcissist.

      Please see my writings on these matters at other locations, I propose organizing with the understanding that we progressives will NEVER have ideological unity, and that different personality types require different "caucuses" within our future organization, specifically a "moderate" caucus that is going to write letters and organize neighborhoods, and a "more radical" caucus that is going to be doing street theater and twitter campaigns and such, and a "leadershio" caucus that works with both the popular caucuses. To my mind, this is getting at the same general idea of "expressive" and "instrumental" political work.

      I do say that all types of sincere political work against the Trump disaster are necessary and worthwhile, nobody on"our" side should be critical of anyone else in our very diverse coalition-to-be.

  • From Syria to Sanctions, Flynn-Russia Quid Pro Quo?
    • philosophical ron 01/14/2017 at 4:25 am

      This meeting smells like it might make the placename "Astana" as much or more of a symbol of a world-historical succession of events and also the controversy/disagreement about those events, as the two placenames "Munich" and "Yalta."

  • Trump does Poor imitation of Tin-Pot Dictator at "Press Conference"
    • philosophical ron 01/12/2017 at 4:31 am

      Is it a symptom of the political pathology of government by the pathological that you discussed a day or two ago, or is it its own phenomena, government by the insistence on a (set of) big lie(s) ?

      It's certainly not a new phenomena in human social organizations, it was already very old when Hitler, Stalin and Mao used it to twist 20th Century history in blody and dictatorial directions.

      In a sense, every social organization over the last hundreds of thousands of years which has insisted on the wisdom of certain sets of ideas, or on the wisdom of certain sets of peoples, is a contributor to today's problems.

      I do however, as a historian, give peoples in pre-industrial societies a break -- everything was very tough just to survive,one set of rules for one set of people was necessary for survival.

      In our modern eras, when our cities are extremely environmentally fragile. and your neighbor might believe any gol-darn bloody thing under the sun, these new wars of competing truths become much more serious and potentially destructive to civic harmony (on which the economy, and mass survival, depends).

      Trump is clearly going to take it to its limits in the context of 2017, which rides on the context of the last 18months since the Orange One descended the escalator: Trump is going to insist on his truth, and it's up to the rest of us to be wise enough, resourceful enough, and tenacious enough to ensure that our truths prevail in the contest.

  • For Russian hold on Trump, follow the Money, not the Sex tapes
    • You say, very correctly IMHO, that "So if Russia has a hold on Trump, I’d look at the business angle, myself. The idea that they could shame him by attacking his reputation for sexual propriety seems a little far-fetched."

      I'd also say, the veracity of the accusation has been apparent from his behavior, not his words: his consistent defense of Putin and Russia every single time he has been forced to speak to it.

  • Welcome to Psychopathocracy
    • philosophical ron 01/11/2017 at 5:44 am

      I do believe that the governmental-structure-behavior you describe has been seen in more than a few historical realities: certainly Stalin's Russia was one, Idi Amin's Uganda is likely another, some of the East European regime allied with the Axis in the 30's and 40's, and odd cases all over the world in historical times -- off the top of my head, the regime of the younger Lopez in Paraguay around 1860's-70's that got into a lost war vs Brazil and others, or the regime of naked plunder and enslavement carried out by Columbus's men in Hispaniola in the years following his "discovery" of them for the Spanish state.

      To have it occurring in the so-called leader of the so-called civilized world, which is also our home and a repository of our hope for our posterity's futures, is quite alarming and depressing and worthy of extraordinary attention and concern.

  • Top 4 Ways Bush even more Outrageously Dissed the Intelligence Community
    • Spinning off on news reports, and trying to understand Trump's own behavior, while I am consumed with my own life, I'm tantalized by the hypothesis -- for which I have no proof, except for typical stories of how Russian intelligence agencies might try to compromise visiting foreigners -- that T was easily "turned" by Russian intelligence, perhaps in a manner that was less than fully conscious to His Trumpness --- dd you notice Putin addressing him as "Your Excellecy" in P.'s message directly to him -- and that the US is therefore about to inaugurate a foreign agent into the office of Chief Executive and Commander-in-Chief.

      At least for those of us who in our youth dreamed of the fall of the American empire -- now it looks very messy and very likely destructive of livelihoods and choices here at home, and around the globe as well -- Trump may be just the man for the job, in one way or another, whether as a Julius Caesar Wannabe or as Harold Lloyd hanging off the high clock hands.

  • Preparing for the Normalization of a Neofascist White House
    • philosophical ron 01/02/2017 at 3:37 pm

      The electronic national media simply do not cover _any_ serous issues with any depth or complexity. In 2002 they never called out the lies the Iraq invasion was based on; in 2016 they never followed up on Trump's nonsensical word salad speeches, they might ask one question and get another 2-minute spurt of word salad, but they never challenged that response to his face. It might only have taken one strong reporter saying, "I'm sorry sir, your response makes no sense. Are you actually able to speak a clear, intelligent sentence on this subject?"

      But because video producers are ultra-concerned about what you _see_ rather what you _gain_ from their presentations, and because it is very difficult and time-consuming to actually get into policy details and the nuances of truth and falsehood in a short video segment, Americans are indeed becoming stupider and stupider by the year. The print media of previous generations did convey much more total information, and overall context, than today's televised media (and more also of both than today's confused, contentious internet media, where too many are happy to deny that any kind of "truth" actually exists), and above all, they did have an overall ethic -- "elitist" as it may have been -- that they had an obligation to INFORM the public and help it make better decisions.

      Breitbart and the like clearly do not share this ethic, and it does make a difference.

  • Trump's Normalization of White Supremacy: Will Richard Spencer Sit in Congress?
    • philosophical ron 12/22/2016 at 5:36 am

      All right, Rachel Carroll Rivas.

      As you say "“He’s using a political platform to take these extremist ideas into our everyday discussion, and we should resist this at every turn,” she said. “Who supports Richard Spencer? … He’s supported by a bunch of online vitriolic trolls.”

      You speak truth !!

  • America's Rigged Casino of Wealth and Power: Trump's New Gilded Age
    • philosophical ron 12/22/2016 at 5:48 am

      Author Pizzigati writes, "Incomes for the bottom 50 percent of U.S. earners, by contrast, have barely budged up at all. This bottom 50 percent averaged $16,000 in 1980 — a figure that includes the value of employer-provided fringe benefits and government supports like food stamps — and just $16,200 in 2014. "

      Whole bunches of us have lived down here a lot in those 34 years between '80 and '14.

      And even larger bunches have grown up being born since '80 without ever lived anywhere else than down here.

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  • Jewish Students and Scholars Object to US Bill Banning Criticism of Israel
    • philosophical ron 12/20/2016 at 3:13 am

      They are always so quick to accuse the left of banning particular statements, and of working generally against the freedoms of speech and of the press.

      But what's one of the first things they want to do when they get the chance ... ban particular statements (against something they think they love), and work generally against our freedoms of speech, and of the press.

  • Demonization of Putin as "Personally" behind Clinton Hack is old Propaganda Technique
    • philosophical ron 12/16/2016 at 3:29 pm

      I still want to know what Google knows, and/or thinks about, Google Analytics finding new "languages" being invented by users from Russia, using google's own name in the name of their "languagues." I am definitely not a computer expert, but it's got to be some tricked-up algorithm or other hack that has Google Analytics recognizing what is really a website as a "language."

      Google won't let us ordinary people communicate with it, can some press or academic person pick this up? I have screenshots available, etc.

  • Why do GOP Presidents get to go Hard Right, and Dems are just GOP Lite?
    • philosophical ron 12/15/2016 at 5:27 am

      Thank you once again Juan, for your service to the actual ideals of real Americans.

      Your eloquence on this very necessary matter, which I too have noticed for a long time, needs no comment, only a big "Thank You Very Much."

  • After Aleppo, Russians prepare to defy Trump re: their Iran Alliance
    • philosophical ron 12/14/2016 at 5:41 am

      The Russian intelligence services are so far ahead of American technology, that they have somehow figured out how to promulgate new "languages" onto the inter-tubes, languages that are recognized by Google Analytics as languages (when obviously they are some sort of access portal/algorithm that is tricking Google). In addition to the "secret google do.t com You are invited... Vote for Trump" language that I reported in a previous comment, which clearly appeared connected to Russia by the behavior of Users/Sessions reported by Google, now there are two more new languages, both using "google" in their names, connected to users from Russia with unusual session behavior. Both use a name that adds extra zeros to the good old free American telephone code of 800 and digs at google, using google's name.

      I've got screenshots of all this for whoever's interested, I'll be sending this to progressive new-sites, can we please get some explanations from Google ?? (And in a recent call to them because they're too stupid to make one of their business sites functional, I did report and give them permission to investigate all these occurrences on my site).

      Are they really recognizing new languages, and on what evidence? Can they see they're being tricked by some Russian hack? Do they mind Russian intelligence officers using their name on new "languages" ?? So many questions, so few answers.

      They say that with a sociopathic narcissist, one should mind the behavior, not the words, since the words never "mean' anything in the normal sense. Watching the Donald's behavior, isn't it clear that he acts exactly like a hypothetical businessman political-faux-populist who has long ago been "turned" by his Russian connections, would act ???

  • Syria's Aleppo Falling: The Government Russia actually Turned
    • philosophical ron 12/15/2016 at 5:42 am

      Please see my other comments here, and my Facebook posts whch contain screenshots. I have evidence on my relatively-modest website, from Google Analytics, that the Russians have managed to invent what Google identifies as a "language."

      The name of this new language? " You are invited!! Enter with this ticket URL. Copy it! Vote for Trump!"

      The 130 google sessions that used this new language in human history used behaviors notably different than my usual audience, which correlated quite easily with 133 sessions from Russia.

      Two more new "languages," promoting some sort of double zero eight hundred search shell, and again using Google's name (one saying better than google, the other that google endorses their site. Again the folks using these new languages identified by Google Analytics, correlate easily with users from Russia.

    • Russia's success in the demoralization of the West, boosting the election of poodle-or-madman Trump and this Mideast re-alignment you report, represents a stunning success for them, and a tremendous failure for the USA and the other relatively liberal (and much to be prized) democracies.

      Between the failures of the dump-anything-anywhere industrial model of economics (we still pretty much follow),
      and the failures of the outright dictatorial models of government, and the and crony-corrupt "populist" Peron-Berlusconi-Trumps of the democracies, it's a pretty grim future for all the extremely happy young Hispanic babies I see playing around my day job --and for your and my and everyone else's grandchildren as well.

  • How We Can fight back against Trump's Anti-EPA
    • philosophical ron 12/09/2016 at 5:31 am

      My day job takes to the hardware department of America's largest retailer, in one of the most diverse neighborhoods of the metropolitan West Coast.

      Some people love CFL's, fine. A lot of us hate them, a high failure in the first 6 months, the whole mercury/enviro deal, and price. It must have the early "aughts" when I was writing letters to the NY State Attorney General urging an investigation of false advertising by GE on the claims of 7 to 9 years life.

      I am pushing LEDS, which are coming down in price. They do have disadvantages too, lower-watt prices are coming down but apparently to get lumen-equivalents of old incandescents over 75 watts, there must be a lot more manufacturing costs because the bright ones are not coming down in price.

      Also some customers have told about failures in short times. Blame the general conditions in Chinese factories.

      About LED's, I tell people "it's the same technology as transistors, and even in the '50's transistors could last for 20 years." If we get into it, I'll talk about my friend in Hawaii who has several houses wired up to run either 110 or 12 volts (which you get from wind or solar), all with LED's.

  • White Terrorism in the White House? Did Trump's Bannon, Breitbart inspire Pizzeria Shooter?
    • philosophical ron 12/06/2016 at 5:09 am

      Love your conclusion, Juan, yet of course these clowns will carry merrily along, apologizing for nothing, until some terrible disaster occurs at their clumsy hands, gravely affecting most ordinary Americans quite severely. Then, maybe, a few of the worst of them will have to suffer some consequences.

  • Why Trump & his Cabinet's Jihad against "Political Islam" will Fail
    • philosophical ron 12/04/2016 at 4:32 am

      All of us old lefties who once vigorously imagined the end of the American empire are now going to get our wish ... ironically under Trump, who is inimical to everything we ever believed in.

      And whether Trump proves to be a fool and blowhard who is played like a top by Russia, China and the rest of authoritarian governments, or whether he allows people like Flynn and Bolton to egg him into disastrous wars, it seems highly likely that American influence and prestige and ability to influence global outcomes will be significantly reduced ... and in ways that will prove highly tragic and significantly destructive of liberty and opportunity for nearly all Americans, and a few billions of the rest of the world's populations, too.

      I'm going to try to bang out a (relatively short) new article in my space. "Trump: The Suicide of Civilization?"

  • Russian Pundit: Fall of East Aleppo a Geopolitical Turning Point toward Multi-polar World
    • The big question here does not concern Assad's ability to kill off rebels and the neighborhoods that support them over the next few months.

      The big question here is about Russia's emerging capabilities in "soft" or "non-traditional" warfare, aimed directly at the USA and Western Europe, which in a pessimistic view are already triumphant with Trump's election. Helping promote antagonistic right-wing cliques, helping provide lies and other talking points to right-wing media, and generally spreading, among all sectors of the Western populations, the idea that "there are no more facts," that all points of discussion can be refuted by dedicated liars -- thus generally contributing to our inability to unite (more or less) behind any foreign policy, let along one which vigorously opposes these Russian efforts.

      Will we ever know what degree of cooperation/coordination was going on between the seediest elements of the Trump camp, or independent alt-right groups supporting him, and the Russian soft-war machine?

      My longform historical website is nothing like Juan's but I have been getitng a lot of traffic in 2016. And since the Ukraine has been one of my biggest sources of visitors, and since Russians were also hitting me over 2000 times a day for a month or so in the spring, I suspect I may be on the radar of Russian web-teams. The evidence that I found on my site, from Google Analytics, of Russian/Trump web propaganda is quite curious.

      It all happened in the 2 weeks after the election, so very weird, however, Google found something new in human history -- a new language !! Even weirder, Google identified this new language as
      " You are invited! Enter only with this ticket URL. Copy it! Vote for Trump!"

      The 86 people using this new language used very unusual patterns of activity on my site. So it was easy to correlate these visits with 85 visits coming from Russia (2/3 St. Pete, then Samara Oblast, and then from all over). They also correlated with 76 visits coming to my site by referral from other sites. I'll spell out these site names to avoid triggering anything, they were site names such as " abc dot zyx ," or " buketeg dot xyz, or (all one word) the next wb dot com ," or most curiously " addon dot mozilla dot org ."

      I'm an old-fashioned library historian and not at all a web guru, I have no idea what this all means or how to research it further. However, if our national security agencies are reading this, please check it out. And if any of you have press or academic credentials, and a phone number to get around the walls that Google and Mozilla put up to prevent us ordinary citizens from communicating with them, can you please be questioning Google about new Trump-affiliated languages, can you please be questioning Mozilla about addon's controlled by Russian intelligence ?

      So yes, if Russia has not yet "won the war" they have certainly won the first battle. US influence in the world, and the US's ability to be a "sole superpower" is grave;ly wounded.

      And with Trump making phone calls offering praise to foreign dictators and democracy-destroyers like Duterte (and is he also proposing hotel projects in these calls ???) following suggestions whispered in his ear by the craziest members of his dark and dangerous entourage, world history is likely to get a lot worse before it gets more hopeful.

  • Real-Life Trolling: How Provocation Works and How to Respond
    • philosophical ron 11/16/2016 at 5:08 am

      Dear Joshua,

      I think you might be amused by 1980 book, which put forth the premise, which I continue to hold, that we historians must consider every thought and action of every human being who has ever lived (to the extent that we can get the data) if we are to get towards a true history.

      That would be The Get-Ready Man, by Ron Brandstetter, (my) Artichoke Press (of San Francisco, one of at least 12 Artichoke Presses in business back then), I sent copies to libraries, the New Jersey State Library had a copy last I checked, and so Google has probably stolen my copyright.

      While of course neither one person nor one professor could fully comprehend ALL other persons, it remains a goal. As I develop further in my later work (search my screen name), it is now possibly achievable if technology (and not disaster) continue to flourish in the 21st Century, that each of us may be able to become our own best historians and social scientists, in our own lives, a sort of "democratic revolution of the social sciences," as we all make history every day that we keep going on into the future.

  • Top 5 Times the FBI intervened to Help the US Right Wing
    • philosophical ron 11/07/2016 at 4:29 am

      Please add the campaign of mass murder against the Black Panther organization, approximately 1968 - 70- something. I have not studied this as a professional historian, but I lived through it, reading the left-wing press that tried to report it all, at the worst estimates it may have taken 30-40 lives.

      For the record, it was probably 1969 or 1970 that I made an effort to be a consistent volunteer with a Black Panther-sponsored "Breakfast for Children" program, held once a week, in Santa Cruz California -- not exactly a hotbed of racial hostility, even then. For this white guy from the flat east-side suburbs of LA, it was indeed my first opportunity to interact with actual black people -- even though, for example, I was plugged in enough with the civil rights movement that in '65 I was defending the Watts rioters to other racist/semi-racist whites. I also volunteered occasionally in the next two years. Our resources were ridiculously poor, yet we never tried to do anything but good for the 15-20 kids that showed up.

  • ISIL feint toward Kirkuk defeated, but Kills hundreds in Mosul
    • philosophical ron 10/23/2016 at 6:39 am

      Turks vs Arabs over who controls Mosul, wasn't that like the story of the 1917-1922 period as well, until the Brits settled it in favor of the Arabs?

      On the face of it, America seeming to set an edge to let the Turks back into the discussion would seem to give credence to tales of Obama administration foreign policy stupidity. To give them credit, they may have to be working a very sticky wicket in getting the Iraqis to allow some available and ready troops into the effort, because of Iraqi Arab sensitivities precisely about keeping anything Turkish out of Mosul.

  • Trump Campaign: The Donald's 5-Point Plan to Defeat Islam
    • philosophical ron 10/21/2016 at 5:01 am

      You write -- truthfully and artfully -- "The best five point plan to defeat Muslim radicalism would be to stop using Muslim radicals (as the US is still doing in Syria) and to stop screwing Muslims over.

      But those steps wouldn’t be the Trump Way."

      I won't say that "... using Muslim radicals (as the US is still doing in Syria) and to stop screwing Muslims over ..." is exactly the policy that Barack Obama and/or Hillary Clinton would prefer. (Perhaps I need them to be better than that.)

      However, these things are certainly the policies that our American national defense and "intelligence" agencies (which Obama and Clinton variously do, have and will formally supervise) do actually engage in.

      I'm not one with the critics who emphasize the cynicism of "it's all corrupt and conspiratorial" and have no suggestions to offer to better the situation. I'm more like, now it's time to lobby Hillary (and your local Democrats) that we expect the new administration to challenge the spies and the generals more than Barack ever did, and get some better policies in place. Most likely these policies will have to be most subtle, more possibly contradictory of each other or some national myth in some way, more difficult perhaps to explain , yet worth the effort in the long run.

  • Russia and Turkey Make up: What implications for Syria, Kurds?
    • philosophical ron 10/11/2016 at 4:58 am

      I'm an old fart going deaf (I loved the LA and SF music scenes too close to the speakers) but I can hear it, can you hear it too?

      It's the sound of the geo-tectonic plates of the world military-power states shifting.

      Depending on billions of variables -- how we as a global so-called "civilization" evolve and shift with the changing times -- all our lives and progress hang in the balance.

  • Whose Fault is Trump? Top 7 Culprits
    • philosophical ron 10/03/2016 at 4:43 am

      Dear Juan,

      You are so completely "right on" in all your 7 points, yet I would like to re-emphasize Point 5, the replacement of "news" by "infotainment." As you put it so well at the end of your point,

      " But it has been pointed out that this media system we now have is actually a security threat, since it doesn’t inform the citizens of a democracy about pressing issues on which they have to vote, and isn’t acting as a sentinel in investigating potential threats."

      A democracy is only viable to the extent that the intelligence of its citizens is involved in civic life. Our grandparents and great-grandparents in the 30's and 40's of the last century mostly did it. Because of the failures of our media (and the elitism and insider-ism in our political culture in the last few decades,), both our intelligence (individually and collectively) and our involvement in our civic life have been greatly reduced.

  • How the JASTA override on Saudi could Bite Americans in the Ass
    • Thank you again , Juan, for your analysis. You close with some very strong words.

      The stupidity and shortsightedness of the American "political consensus" is great enough, at times, that it can never be underestimated. But if the threat to the financial structure is so clear, why weren't all the hedge fund guys and other financial industries talking against this? Do they buy into the generalized American ignorance of the Middle East so much that they cannot see any threat to their livelihoods from JASTA?

  • Obama: End terrorism like that in New York by Destroying ISIL in Mosul, Iraq
    • philosophical ron 09/20/2016 at 5:53 am

      Talking with American friends (uneducated in History) about the Middle East, all they see is a muddle; it's all confused, all those people are so difficult to understand. To heck with 'em all.

      My analysis (also see my writings on other sites) would be that the political-military structures of these states and communities have been dominated by men -- it's always men -- whose psychologies & philosophies have been twisted into a "leadership" that begins with dictatorial control over the political expressions of their community/state population group, in general we Americans should be sympathetic to the hopes and aspirations of the less-political majorities of these communities, while working against the tendencies towards authoritarianism that occur in both the Middle East and in America.

      Back in the day, there were suggestions (based in international state agreements) which considered an "international status" for Jerusalem (which was of course never implemented by powers on the ground).

      If I recall correctly, Mosul was also proposed for an "international status" at least once or twice by Historical actors. And if there was ever a city which would benefit from any sort of an "international agreement" over any sort of "international status" that could actually protect civil peace within the city limits, that city would be Mosul.

  • "This Parrot is no More": The 2016 Presidential Election did not Take Place
    • The mass media's choices of what to promote, and what to ignore -- always understanding that this"promotion" and "ignorance" is a matter of proportions and of emphasis -- do seem to be strongly in favor of "superficial coverage of the controversy of the day," as opposed to "deep analysis that illuminates our understanding of why people are making the choices they seem to be making in this situation."

  • The Millenarian Dimensions of the Attempted Coup in Turkey and implications for Muslim Modernism & Traditionalism
    • philosophical ron 09/16/2016 at 5:35 am

      Thank you, Dr. Nuruzzamen, for this perspective and this analysis. It deserves to be remembered and considered as we receive further information on the important effects and counter-effects that the July 15 coup attempt has had on Turkish politics, Turkish society, and the Turkish economy.

  • 15 Years after 9/11, can we Recover our Republic?
    • philosophical ron 09/11/2016 at 4:32 am

      Thank you for this presentation & analysis, Juan.

      As someone who's been an activist about something (or many things) in every decade since the '60's, it's all long term work.

      In America, everyone has an opinion on the ideal President and/or favorite politician/celebrity they would like to see as President.

      No one cares about state legislature races, hardly anyone cares about city?county council races.

      Change comes from working on the big ideals and also working as painstakingly as possible on the small details simultaneously, for as long as possible.

      And for what it's worth, I have a "resume bullet" of having proposed and co-moderated a (very successful) workshop on "Avoiding Burnout in Political Work" at a big lefty gathering on the Left Coast back in the day.

  • Florida: Politicians in Big Oil's Pocket Beware, The People want their Solar
    • philosophical ron 09/01/2016 at 4:57 am

      Haven't been there, but the reports are that fairly large areas of expensive near-ocean/bay neighborhoods are regularly being flooded by rising sea levels.

      I grew up with the gasoline economy that has powered our American (and world) prosperity, but which must now end forthright if we are to avoid climate catastrophe.

      I live in a suburban American environment in which a high proportion of families continue to choose 3-ton vehicles capable of seating 6-8 passengers but which are generally used with 1-3 passengers, despite the fact the many of these family's designated drivers are incapable of conducting their vehicles with any efficiency or effectiveness on the roads and parking structures of our suburban landscape.

      It's an ugly, and anti-hopeful picture I confront nearly every day. It's good to see that Florida residents and voters see that they have to DO something to make a change.

  • America's Syria SNAFU: Pentagon's Militias fight Turkey & CIA's Militias
    • philosophical ron 08/28/2016 at 5:50 am

      There was a famous old science fiction short story, by one of the classic authors, I'm guessing 1948-54. (Sorry, I'm not trying to look it up, but I read it at least half a dozen times.)

      It chronicles the struggles of a secret US Army expedition to the Moon -- only to find that other humans have beaten them there ! Who could these enemies be? The punchline was, it was the US Navy.

      Of course both hands of a huge bureaucratic entity (the institutions of our American military/"national security" apparatus) are eventually going to be found at odds with each other.

      If you want to generalize about human nature and/or typical human predicaments, this kind of bureaucratic self-hypnotism is one of the few things about which I'll agree with you.

  • ISIL sends families out of Mosul as Kurdish, Iraqi Army Forces advance
    • philosophical ron 08/26/2016 at 9:13 am

      Nationalist and militarist-imperialist tendencies among the varied Arab, Kurdish and Turkmen populations and interest groups of the region have long maneuvered towards a "final showdown" over which of them might be able to secure an uncontested victory of political-military supremacy in Mosul.

      (However, in actual practice, the American-European Allied victory in World War I and the subsequent regimes that have existed, largely within the boundaries written by outsiders, have prevented such a battle from ever taking place.)

      Now it appears that such a battle, involving already-armed and organized state forces and militias among the three major population groups in the area (Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen) and other minority populations, at a time when boundaries appear more liable to change than they have for a hundred years, may actually be forming up.

      As historians we know this means highly unpredictable results.

      It seems a good time to reflect on a key truth in human history: military conquests seldom result in actual economic growth and prosperity on their own. True prosperity over generations in an area is usually identified with peaceful urban centers in which different ethnic identities and economic interests can live productive lives, under a power structure that recognizes it must make use of all population segments, rather than aggrandizing some segments over others. (In other words, the power structure doesn't have to be "democratic" necessarily, but it must be coalition-based and ultimately inclusive of the vast majority of population segments and sub-segments.)

  • Dragon Rising? China seeks Closer military Cooperation with Syria
    • Dear Juan,

      You copy reports that say, " Beijing intends to strengthen its military relationship with the current Syrian government. At the same time he affirmed that China would avoid involvement in the civil war."

      That's a really neat trick if they can actually do it.

      Do they accomplish it by giving equal diplomatic visits to the rebels?

      Or by shutting their eyes, covering their ears, and having an assistant pinch their nose, so that they can claim that they are somehow not cognizant of the civil war that will be intensified by their policy of " ... intend (ing) ... to strengthen its military relationship with the current Syrian government ... " ???

  • Monsters to Destroy: Top 7 Reasons the US could not have forestalled Syrian Civil War
    • philosophical ron 08/14/2016 at 1:50 am

      Thank you Joanna, I am in much the same shoes. It must have been '82-83-ish, when I ghostwrote some
      Saudi student's thesis on the recent history of the Arab-Israeli wars, I laid it on the Assads in sardonic academic language and the client loved it.

      In the meantime I have been developing my own vision of a serious history student's take on "all lives matter" since '78-79, and I did mean that to be inclusive of, and telling the stories of, all the forgotten women of all colors, places and times who have actually built human society.

      And I have come to much the same conclusions as you in your "only wish" (but with watching the history for many decades, able to remember all the totally unexpected things and keep some optimism).

      I do believe that Obama caved in that initial meeting with the national-security gurus that occurred on 1-20-09,. and I do carry some optimism that Hillary very well have the experience, as Sec. of State, and the personal relationships, and the "stones", to be able to say on 1-20-17 "NO, gentlemen, we are going to do things somewhat differently, my way."

  • The Economic Crisis of Greying World: 30 Countries have more Elderly than Children
    • The author is sincere, and his data seems to be soundly based.

      But sorry, I'm not making, or trusting, any projections out to 2075 based solely on current trends. The many many factors of unexpectedness, possible advanced technology, probable and likely climate-change-related extreme weather events, the question of whether human beings are more intelligent than rats -- will we seek to escape an environment that we're poisoning with our own waste products? -- all these things will interfere to ensure that 2075 is not just an extrapolation of current trends.

  • Google Sparks Outrage by Abolishing Palestine on Maps
    • philosophical ron 08/09/2016 at 5:34 am

      I could write a very long article on the many ways Google continually demonstrates that they do not understand what is supposedly their core competence, advanced digital technology.

      Google Analytics can't return useful data, GMail has the most unfortunately designed user interface, Google Maps are worthless because any touch of a mouse anywhere near them sends them careening from way-too-close scale to way-too-far-away scale and in and out of focus on the desired location, with no apparent way to find a middle ground, and pointing these complaints out to them has no apparent effect.

      This consumer is not at all impressed with the so-called "intelligence" of the Google (now Alphabet) corporation.

  • Looming Aleppo Battle indicts both sides of Civil War for breaking Cease-Fire
    • philosophical ron 08/09/2016 at 5:22 am

      In the sixth paragraph, which begins with "Saudi Arabia, Turkey and apparently John Brennan of the CIA want the rebels to take East Aleppo, ...", it seems possible from the context that an error of transposition was made there, that the sentence should instead read "Saudi Arabia, Turkey and apparently John Brennan of the CIA want the rebels to take West Aleppo ... " even though such a result would likely result in more misery for the Syrian population, by sheer volume, than the competing outcome of a regime takeover of East Aleppo.

      Let us hope (and, as possible, work to ensure) that your conclusion "Now it seems the Syrians are doomed, like actors in that Bill Murray movie “Groundhog Day” or Tom Cruise’s “Edge of Tomorrow,” to living the same scenes over and over again ..." is also too pessimistic, that the various peoples of Syria may find a way out of the nihilistic competition of corrupt power structures and towards a government reflecting the long-term interests of those quite various populations.

  • Mike Pence on the “American Heartland” and the Holy Land
    • philosophical ron 07/24/2016 at 4:21 am

      The discussion of Ultra-Christian commitment to the ultra-right vision of an "unalloyed" Israel is OK as far it goes, however I do prefer it to be capped off with the point that the fundamentalist commitment to the state of Israel is because it seems to jibe with of the ravings of John of Patmos in the Biblical book of Revelations of the Jews gathering together before their state is wiped out in Jesus's final return -- in other words, a completely fantastical, circus-like political stance that would not be welcomed by your intended ally if its full purpose was understood.

      The repeated references to "Gov. Spence" undermine whatever confidence we might otherwise have in the author's understanding of the situation.

  • Arab nationalist press Reacts to Erdogan's Crackdown with cries of "Dictator!"
    • philosophical ron 07/21/2016 at 5:43 am

      Dear Juan, you report that

      "In Egypt, Husain Yusuf of al-Yawm al-Sabi` (The Seventh Day) lambasted Erdogan. He said that the president’s interview on Wednesday on Qatar’s Aljazeera was intended to whitewash his dictatorial actions. Yusuf says that Erdogan is attacking everyone he perceives as an enemy, violating human rights, and pursuing a politics of exclusion. He slammed Erdogan as “Turkey’s Hitler.”

      Hmmm, Erdogan as Turkey's Hitler. That sounds about right to this outside observer, as of today ... and if Erdogan and his supporters don't like such a description, please, please, let them prove that such a description is all wrong.

  • Turkish People Power foils attempted Coup
    • philosophical ron 07/16/2016 at 12:51 pm

      Remarkable developments, which will certainly have long term after-effects.

      The position of the opposition parties is especially commendable -- this is what civilization and maturity looks like in practice. I'm sure many will be holding their breaths to see if Erdogan can be gracious in victory, or whether he will be using this as an excuse for further "witch hunts" against (real or imagined) domestic oppenents. Nevertheless, broad segments of Turkish society have shown much more intelligence than certain segments of the American electorate, and very much more intelligence than certain segments of American journalistic "pundits" and sensation-seeking internet writers.

  • What the carnage at Istanbul's Airport tells us about Europe
    • philosophical ron 07/04/2016 at 3:54 am

      So sorry for the Turks. The choices are desperate and perilous, and there is little that outsiders can do in the short or medium terms to alleviate their suffering.

      Glad to see that the author allows at the end that this flailing boat called "civilization" may be, possibly, by our utmost efforts, eventually "fixed."

  • Dissing Progressives, DNC Platform Backs Fracking, TPP, and Israeli Occupation
    • I have gone back and forth on Cornel West a bit, over the years, yet "good on him" is what I have to say for this one.

      Cornel is correct, if Hillary's chosen reps all vote pretty much straight corporate line on fracking and TPP (I _know_ they won't bend on Israel/Palestine), they won't even bother to try to find a glimmer of hopeful wording for all of us grass-roots who've been pushing this stuff (and more!) for years, that is truly a poor development that reduces my enthusiasm for Hillary.

      And I am one of the few people around, I guess, who tends to like her as a person most of the time.

  • $206 Mn. to Hate Groups to Promote anti-Muslim Sentiment
    • philosophical ron 06/26/2016 at 4:36 am

      To clarify my thoughts, there is also a category of "takeover of group institutions by persons and/or sub-groups who wish to gain institutional privileges (and/or institutional domination and corruption) for themselves, without actually innovating or revolutionizing anything," and in my opinion these types of folks don't get to count on the "innovation/revolution" side of the ledger in human affairs.

    • Prejudice against neighbors, prejudice against "others," prejudice against the unknown. This is close to the basis of tradition, perhaps the strongest force in human culture.

      The "other hand" is that, especially now in in 2016 when most of the chaos either is "breaking out," or already has "broken out," tradition in modern human culture is often, and often assiduously, opposed by strong forces of reform and innovation/revolution.

      IMHO, such conflict between "tradition" and "innovation/revolution" appears to be eternal in human affairs, see my writings in other places.

  • Pyrrhic Victory? As Iraq rolls back Daesh, can it stay together as a Country?
    • The ultimate revenge of Sykes-Picot. The artificial boundaries invite the revolt/attack, yet quelling the revolt excites the separatist tendencies which brings on the majority dictatorship which prolongs the artificial boundaries.

  • Despite Terrorism fears, 59% of Americans Welcome Syrian, Iraqi Refugees
    • philosophical ron 06/16/2016 at 4:58 am

      Thank you very much again, Juan, for helping focus our attention on this relatively positive and hopeful information, so welcome in today's climate over the interwebs.

  • America's First Communal Muslim Funeral: Muhammad Ali
    • philosophical ron 06/11/2016 at 3:44 am

      My dad and I had already listened on the radio, to Floyd Patterson's title victory over Johansen and his two title losses to Liston, so we eagerly anticipated Liston vs. Clay, also on the radio (in Los Angeles). Liston, according to popular information, had killed a guy and served multiple prison terms, plus he had a knockout punch; this little mouth-off squirt Clay didn't stand a chance.

      And then the fight went on and on, and he was standing a chance. And there was no knockout punch. And then Liston didn't come out for the seventh round, and Clay had won !!

      With that, for me. the cultural revolution was ON, big time. It turned out later that both he and I were found guilty of refusing to be drafted into the Vietnam War Machine, but that was more coincidental. It was that victory over the bully Liston, totally unreasonable and unexpected, that cemented my allegiance to the successful walk on the wrong side of "mainstream" American culture that Muhammad Ali represented so well.

  • As US/ Kurdish force Moves on ISIL at Manbij, Turkey goes Ballistic
    • philosophical ron 06/02/2016 at 4:01 am

      If it is correct, that as you state " Despite Turkish oral offers of assistance, the US Pentagon has clearly decided that the YPG Kurds are the only game in town if the goal is to defeat Daesh in its lair of al-Raqqa ... ", this must certainly be recorded as a positive development in the great-power/client relationships of the Middle East. The Turkish state is in full-scale transformation into a Mussolini-Franco-Peron model, while the YPG may actually be instituting radical forms of democracy and female empowerment.

      Is it possible that for once America is actually supporting the more popular/less authoritarian side in a local dispute?

  • Modern Mongols: Sunni Arabs outraged at Iran role in Iraqi Gov't Fallujah Campaign
    • If the majorities of populations in these lands are indeed absorbed in possibly participating in Sunni-Shi'a intra-Islamic civil wars -- on top of all the other wars in the region, from the over 80-year-old Arab-Israeli one which does so much to define the modern Middle East as a region of lack of hope and progress, to all the other inter-governmental wars going on, and the various multi-factional civil wars in Iraq, Syria, Libya Yemen and others --
      then the future of our so-called "civilizations" in that region is destined to be tragic.

      To the extent that the many, highly diverse people and generally intelligent people of the many majority cultures and sub-cultures that make up the region can learn from the failure of the military models in the region (and elsewhere), and begin to reject old models and learn how to build new more sustainable models, as I believe they can, there may be hope for our region and for our world.

  • New Turkish PM Firmly Behind Erdogan on Executive Presidency
    • What would be surprising would be that if the new Prime MInister, selected unanimously by the ruling party, was in any way opposed to Erdogan's project for a complete dictatorship under his rule.

  • Top 4 Reasons Iran will stand by Syrian gov't despite High Casualties
    • philosophical ron 05/08/2016 at 4:15 am

      Are you stating or implying that Iran and Saudi Arabia consider their rivalry with each other as a more important goal than just about anything else -- such as the welfare and future economic satisfaction of their own populations, the prospects for the region as a whole, or the developing/possible problem of human civilization literally suffocating in our own waste products?

      That would be a terrible thing if it were true, and holds the potential to ensure that the most negative projections for us all come true.

  • Saudi Arabia's Vision: Cut Subsidies to Workers, Middle Class, put Women to Work
    • philosophical ron 05/04/2016 at 5:30 am

      From the 1980's through the 2000's, the former USSR and the 17 or so "republics" that have devolved from it, faced an incredible challenge in moving from a Stalinist-command economy to a more sustainable system.

      They have generally failed in this task, and in the 2010's it seems the various USSR successor-states are stuck with the various (dictatorial rentier-economy states) they have evolved.

      Saudi Arabia's transition from an "Abdel-Azizian command economy" to a more sustainable economic system may be even more difficult and more constrained by cultural/political considerations, than the Soviet/post-Soviet economic transitions have been.

      For the record, I have many hundreds of words on how economic systems are based on how people define and articulate their ideas of what is a "value" and what is not a value, and also on how "good" economic systems are based on people "taking in each other's laundry" and other mundane, boring tasks, and also on how it may be most useful for individuals, in being successful in their possible futures, to be able to learn how to earn "values" within many different economic value systems that may present themselves within one's cultural/economic environment (or in one's possible future cultural/economic environment). in my writings in other places.

  • The End of American Iraq: Poor Shiites invade Parliament over corrupt Spoils System
    • philosophical ron 05/01/2016 at 4:39 am

      The whole thing will, I am sure, in due time, get ample attention from Iraqi and global historians, and from novelists, poets, artists of all sorts.

      In the meantime, "what a long strange trip it's been," with America's organized 'conservatism-with-a-capital-C' winning and then losing a foreign war, completely degrading nearly all American patriotic-speech values in the process, and neither the conservative political elites or masses, or the media or the general cultural conversation apparently being able to learn any thing at all from the experience.

  • US finally acknowledging al-Qaeda factor in breakdown of Ceasefire
    • The fog of _really_ knowing _anything_ in almost any situation is so dense, what with people's commissions of un-truths and regrettable actions, and their omissions of truths and righteous actions, and their overall unwillingness to come clean about any of this, that in a multi-factional actual military battlefield such as Syria has become in recent years, we can almost envision a situation in which no individual in society is trustworthy as a source of reliable information.

      And even if there were one such person, the situation could change tomorrow, invalidating the knowledge they could provide.

  • What GOP New Yorkers just voted for: Torture, Syria Intervention, murder of innocents
    • philosophical ron 04/20/2016 at 3:56 am

      The man can barely speak a coherent phrase in the English language, that reaches up to the standards of millions of ordinary Americans, without displaying tremendous narcissism _and_ tremendous ignorance about human/institutional relationships.

      I would contend that he also displays massive stupidity in failing to understand the intelligence of others, in the pitifully weak, mendacious, pettifogging excuses he makes when called on any of his many areas of ignorance.

      He reminds me of the heroin addicts of the '70's: willing to say any and every crazy thing if if might get him towards his fix. How all the culturally-conservative "tough guys" on the right, with their SUV's and their guns, cannot see thru Donald's bullshit, seems to show how completely that ignorance and racism are the foundations of their "thinking."

  • Saudis warn they will withdraw $750 Bn. from US economy if 9/11 Bill Passes
    • philosophical ron 04/17/2016 at 4:17 pm

      Let's get the report first, then worry about "holding people responsible."

      And just to quibble, can we/will we ever get a full understanding of the deliberate negligence of the Bush administration in the days before 9/11 ?? Juan has done a good job on how they blew off the warning of the one expert (Clark, if I recall correctly), but there's so much more. The exact details of how the FBI and CIA didn't collaborate/coordinate or even inform each other. The question of whether there were, or were not, military training exercises with simulated attacks scheduled for 9/11. We could "hold responsible" a lot of Americans before we go trying "hold responsible" the Saudis.

      Another quibble. The Treasury has issued the bonds, they received the payment from the purchasers long ago, and are paying out the dividends to the owner of record on the dividend dates. If the Saudis sell huge amounts, the price will drop just because of the friction inherent in matching sellers and buyers, if the price collapses, someone with money to invest will get a great bargain -- but where is the blow to the U.S. economy? Who stops going to WalMart and Taco Bell because of this? How does this affect my meed for duct tape and paper towels today? There might be a lot of hyper-ventilation among commentators, I'm looking for the actual blow to the U.S. economy. On the other hand, if the Saudi dump collapses the price, they will indeed suffer a loss.

      And one more quibble. Every day a wide variety of citizens of all nations are jailed and punished for various crimes. Yet considering the vast array of injustices and outrages that the various governments and leading economic entities of our modern world perform every day, it would be comical if it were not so tragic, how little the powerful persons on our globe are ever "held responsible" for the messes and deaths they have directly and indirectly committed.

  • Saudi's King Salman in Turkey signals thaw in Ankara-Riyadh Tensions
    • philosophical ron 04/12/2016 at 3:46 am

      Very interesting analysis, professor.

      You write: "They want their clients, the fundamentalist militias fighting against the regime, to have a place at the peace negotiations and in the resulting government. They want al-Assad gone. And they want to reduce Iranian influence in Syria."

      But what if those positions are un-representative of strength on the ground, and fundamentally unsustanable in the long-term process of creating an effective, truly civil Syrian governent ?? More failed and stale processes tying up state actors for years, and more stagnation on the ground imperiling any happiness for civilian populations.

  • If ISIL falls before November, how will it affect the US Election?
    • Auto-correct at work? In the third to the last paragraph, "delivering the coup de grace to the phone caliphate of Daesh" should undoubtedly be "delivering the coup de grace to the phony caliphate of Daesh."

      Otherwise, very good, very wise for all involved -- and that would be all of us -- to be looking ahead to new possibilities. Thanks again Juan for your excellent work.

  • Syria: Al-Assad Family's Massive Stolen Wealth in Panama Papers helps explain Revolution
    • philosophical ron 04/06/2016 at 4:25 am

      Thank you so very much, once again.

      This is exactly the sort of historical narrative that we miss so very much in this era of the internet dominated by SEO principles, which gives us context-less and irresponsible listicles and supposed "shokers."

      As someone who has tried to assess how societies are always both unifying and fragmenting at the same time (though sometimes one of the processes may seem to predominate in a particular place and time in the story of all people on earth), I am ready to argue that at least the english-language American-based internet of the last few years has become an unprecedented force for the fragmentation of social bonds, promoting mass ignorance and unsocial attitudes, far more than anything that resembles helping us learn to solve our problems working together, with all the inevitable compromises that entails.

  • Fall of Palmyra: Syrian regime races to take ISIL's 'Berlin' and forestall 'Partition'
    • philosophical ron 03/28/2016 at 4:40 am

      A very interesting analysis, thank you very much Professor Cole.

      I would like to hear some alternative views from other credentialed analysts, yet you present a very convincing case.

      If things do pan out in Assad's favor as you suggest, i.e that the tradition of very strong central government continues in a newly-negotiated regime in which the populations supporting Assad (Shia Muslims, Alawites and other religious minorities, secular Sunnis) remain in the ascendant (whether or not Assad himself remains in Syria) it will mean that the Assad family's military legacy will be that the only victory they could win, was against their own population who were seeking a more democratic and responsive government.

  • Bravest man in Politics: Bernie Sanders harshly criticizes Israeli Occupation: 'Absurd' Settlements, 44% Unemployment
    • I was so scared of what Richard Nixon might do/stumble into, I trained myself to sleep without a mattress or a pillow back around '71-74. It was good for me. I lost the ability to sleep on concrete/rocks somewhere around age 50, but I still don't sleep with a pillow and I'm sure it's partially why I don't have backaches at the old official retirement age.

      The early 00's put a heavy fear of Republicans into my radical soul, and I say the main objective has to be to _prevent_ any Republican from winning, Trump Cruz Kasich or whatever other stooge they can muster, they must be defeated for the Presidency, and reduced as far as possible in all the other seats at stake. Democrats have won the popular vote in the last 5 of 6 elections, it has to be kept up.

      Sanders speaks the truth on Israel/Palestine, because he is an idealist who sees the vision. Hillary goes to AIPAC and does her best to rub their rear ends with Shinola, because she knows she needs to avoid the s&*%storm that would come if she did anything else, because supporting AIPAC on Israel if kind of what has defined people as being "establishment Democrats" for the last 25 years, and she's played the game this long, she's gonna play another hand of it just because she knows certain donors and certain media vehicles would raise hell if she did otherwise. Pragmatic and practical, don't annoy people you may need and whose opposition would be tough, still having total freedom of action when in office.

      So for me, although Sanders position on Israel/Palestine is far superior to Hillary's, I have to say, please, Bernie-berners please get ready to support Hilary if she prevails, and Hillary-supporters please get ready to support Bernie if he can pull off the upset. Hillary does need the vision and the revolutionary enthusiasm of Bernie and his people, and Bernie does need the pragmatism and the knowledge-of-fighting-dirty-GOP-tricks-and-crap-for-25-years-and-more that Hillary and her people remember.

      And in the end, if we keep pushing, there will be an evolution in American policy in the Middle East. Hopefully before climate change suffocates us all in our own waste products.

  • How not to talk about Muslims after a Fringe Terrorist Group attacks
  • Turkey's Erdogan: Democracy Has 'Absolutely No Value Any Longer' given war on PKK Terrorism
    • philosophical ron 03/20/2016 at 3:46 am

      It is so easy, once you have power. It's so easy to slide into the stance of needing absolute power. You've just got to have that last bit of it, then everything can be brought into line.

      Of course, we will always suspect that for Erdogan, democracy ceased having any value as soon as he was able to manipulate it into giving him power.

  • Syria's Kurds to declare Federal Province
    • Without hitting the books, I'd have to say "yes." There were minor adjustments, and Mosul was left undecided in the original discussions, yet overall, the current lines of Syria and Iraq reflect the maps made by Sykes and Picot in 1915-16 more than they reflect any other historical or then-current cultural/ethnic considerations.

    • Is this the end of Sykes-Picot boundaries imposed on the region in the various Post-World-War I treaties?

      Ultimately, will we feel that this is something we should cheer or something we should mourn?

      As ever, it's usually hard to declare "today is the day" as these grand historical questions roll towards a resolution, with the hub-bub of daily life going on.

      I'm pretty sure I've sounded off on federalism as a good thing in the region previously in this space, I'd also like to add that I've been on record since 1980 for an eventual world federalism, and the end of national sovereignty.

      It was a lot easier in 1980 than in 2016 to foresee a peaceful future for the working out of what I also made part of my proposal, "3 or 4 generations" of increasing education & activism towards this goal.

      Unfortunately, education has definitely under-performed over the decades, while tendentious civil wars, ruthless dictatorships, and corrupt oligarchies have over-performed compared to what I thought was possible.

      Now it seems pretty clear. We - global humanity - have maybe "one generation" of time, maybe 16 or 23 years or maybe a lot less, before climate change and stupid governments allow us to suffocate in our own waste products.

      So it all seems so much more urgent now. Will humanity prove to be smarter than rats? Will we make efforts to save our societies from becoming overloaded with our own waste products (and I definitely include the social & intellectual pollution caused by toxic, ignorant and profit-seeking media of all sorts, traditional and hi-tech, as one of our most poisonous waste products) ???

  • What is Political Revolution and Can Bernie Sanders Deliver?
    • philosophical ron 03/14/2016 at 6:19 am

      The good professor has not spent nearly enough time making cold phone calls to raise money for a third party. I have. Even with a list of people who've signed your own petitions at events or on street corners, to actually get money out of 1 in 15 is doing pretty well.

      Everybody has a favorite celebrity they'd love to see as President. Most everybody has a prescription for the two major political parties. But hardly anybody cares about their own darn state legislators, and nobody cares about a different state legislature race if they're ten feet outside the district.

      I am a radical who was mugged by reality, back in '00 I had spent a lot of hours in Green Party meetings, for me it was just about shoving the Democrats to the left. We got our state up into over 10% polling for Nader, we got gob-smucked by a wave of Democratic Party pushback. For everyone of our people, there were ten people bashing us. Two people in my social circle did a blatantly dishonest thing claiming to be Greens who were now backing Gore, and got stories all the biggest papers in our state -- papers that had been ignoring our press releases for five years.

      And then, in my opinion, both we Greens and the Dems -- who I expected to win and wanted to win -- failed to see how much the R's were ready to steal the election if necessary. And the Dems spent the first part of 2001 harping and wailing on how the Greens cost the election, leaving us all adrift when 9-11 came thru, enabling Bush's worst excesses.

      By 2004 I was walking my precinct for Kerry, but still trying to push the Dems to the left. And those people in my social circle, they've had their ups and downs, and so have I, and there's a reason we're still in the same social circle and see each other at events, and darn it, I can genuinely be glad to see them.

      2016 has unleashed a lot of anger. I spent the '90's trying to slime the Clintons, but today I am surprised at the anger of some Bern-ers against Hillary. Yes she's made every compromise over the years, but I do understand, from decades of trying to sell activist positions on issues and how hard it is, that if I had ever achieved power I would have become much more centrist too.

      So Hillary's people do need Bernie's vision, and Bernie's people do need Hillary's commitment to the long slog against ignorance and muck. Work for your third party! Great for you if you get anywhere! It really is OK for different types of people to do different types of work, pushing both "politics" and activism to the left, and pushing the overall culture to the left, as far as they think they can push. Let's have a consciousness of all pushing together in the same general direction, and avoid the consciousness of "my way to do things is the only possible way."

  • Which Protest-busting Dictator is Trump most Like?
    • And on second thought, although I haven't studied their speeches, Mussolini and Peron were probably able to speak in coherent sentences in their languages. They were actively engaged in the party politics of their times, and so I assume were able to make actual arguments on matters of governmental policy, without falling into an ignorant braggadocio of grammatical incoherence.

      Maybe I'm wrong in this, maybe Benito and Juan were just as incompetent in their basic speech, and as uniformed about how their governments actually worked, as Donald is. But he really does seem to be "sui generis," a new and novel formation of psychologies, philosophies, politics and economics in the story of people on this planet.

    • I'm going with Mussolini and Peron, the appeal to a masculine authoritarianism aligned with the national culture is just too obvious.

      I'm trying to think of others, there were a lot of slimy characters in Eastern Europe just before World War Two, and lot of slimy Asian and African characters after World War Two, but there was a lot of reformatted-traditional nationalism going on, as well as a lot of ideology going on too, a lot of Marxism-Leninism but also local inventions. Nothing quite seems to fit.

      I read a lot of Napoleon III back in the day, the self-admiration may have been comparable to Trump, but my fuzzy memory sees him as more slimy, with a few extremely lucky turning points going well for him, not as emotionally connected to his base as Trump, Mussolini and Peron.

  • Top 6 Signs Trump is wrong & Islam doesn't 'Hate us'
    • philosophical ron 03/10/2016 at 4:18 am

      Thank you once again for sharing this very true and necessary perspective for us. Your Muslim-world readers don't need these reminders, so much, I'm guessing. Yet your American readers most certainly do.

      Contemplating Trump and American idiocy in general, in recent days, I am focusing on the television industry as a very important factor. I've known this industry for 50+ years, I've gotten some laughs and some emotional satisfactions from it. And I do have one corner of it I can watch purposely to try to turn off my usual intellectual pre-occupations -- yet when I do that, I start thinking and daydreaming on all sorts of things, and often fall into sleep within 20 minutes.

      The products of the TV industry, really are created to make us more stupid. The more of them one watches, the more stupid one becomes. I haven't watched one minute of it, yet apparently Fox and CNN and probably MSNBC and almost-certainly all the local stations in all the TV markets in America have given something like 80-90% of their national-political coverage to Donald J. Trump. So of course we have all become more stupid.

  • Can non-violent Revolt actually Change practical Politics?
    • philosophical ron 03/07/2016 at 10:57 pm

      As a matter of history, the voting rights act was pushed through Congress by the President and his majority party, it had been in the works, and was signed Aug. 6, 1965. The Watts riots broke out Aug. 11th, on local issues.

      And to segue to what I'd like to talk about, that was after I had begun my career of political interest and involvement, at the age of 14, in a 1964 initiative campaign in California, for "fair housing," which was basically sponsored by the black civil rights leaders and enlisted many sympathetic whites.

      I've been involved in various sorts of activist causes in every decade since then, including a 14-year long march of unsuccessfully trying to establish the Green Party as something positive in American politics, during which I led a local initiative coalition of local businesses and environmentalists to keep out a Wal-Mart (we only lost by 200 votes and cost Wal-Mart $2.5 million bucks), and later was a state official in Green Party, we were saying everything Bernie is saying now but we had no visibility or money. And we got clobbered by the Dems in 2000 and blamed for Gore's loss, and now it's dwindled into nothing, but darn it, it did make a difference, it did contribute to the overall evolution which is occurring. It does make a difference, I have had the experience that one column of mine in a local newspaper got the county government to change an urban renewal plan in more citizen-friendly directions.

      And darn it, even when you fail at your immediate purpose, both the long slog and the revolutionary vision are necessary and desirable. And they do make a difference, because the America of 2016 is mighty different today than the America I remember from 1960, and every little thing I (and millions of others) did to indulge ourselves in cultural and political gestures "against the man" did contribute to a massive cultural revolution in attitudes and behaviors.

      We need to do a better job of seeing how it's good that different activists are doing different things and forming coalitions, instead of thinking "they're doing it wrong" and insisting that social and political change comes only in one way. Social and political change has always been an evolutionary chaos, and rational history rejects the view that "the establishment" -- whatever establishment you like to conceive of, in any place or time -- "controls everything" and that only violence is effective.

  • As Coasts Flood, why isn't the Corporate Press asking Candidates about Climate Change?
    • philosophical ron 03/03/2016 at 5:24 am

      Thank you very much for this information, Juan.

      That's an excellent and humorous point make point you make at the end. Both our economic leaders yet I think even more so, our political leaders, are the greatest obstacles to the actual implementation of the collective human intelligence we so desperately need to see made real.

  • Iran Election Results Show that when US rewards Pragmatists, they Win
    • philosophical ron 02/28/2016 at 5:46 am

      In my experience, actual political work consists of communicating with persons who do not necessarily share your opinions, and learning from that how to better present your own arguments to them in an agreeable, amenable fashion.

      It's a very long hard road, yet my experience shows no other path to long-term success.

  • Black, Brown and Progressive: A New Voter Majority in the US?
    • philosophical ron 02/22/2016 at 4:59 am

      How come no other poling articles I see come up with this " 23 percent of eligible voters are progressive people of color, and 28 percent are progressive whites, according to Phillips. That means 51 percent of the electorate ..." ??

      I'd love to see it be true. I'd love to see the Bernie and the post -Bernie revolutions take place, sooner the better, however some of you wonderful young persons are going to have to be running for city councils and state legislatures, like NOW.

      And IMHO, see my other writings. the "long term organizing" and the "deeper cultural changes that propel the long term organizing" do need be combined with the "constant pressure on all fronts in the sphere of electoral/legal politics." This will happen with different strokes being done by different folks, yet y'all need to appreciate each other, not snipe at each other.

  • Could a post-Scalia court restore Campaign Finance Sanity & pull back from Plutocracy?
  • Top 5 Scalia Rulings that helped Progressives
    • OK, maybe I don't HAVE to hate Scalia and his accomplices in turning the Supreme Court into a highly -politiczed and too-often-severely-retrograde institution in the American polity, perhaps as you point out, among the likes of Thomas, Alito, Roberts and Kennedy, he was the most human. humane and the most willing to follow his principles even when they went against his political allies.

      But if this crew manages to stymie just the beginning of our cooperation with the Paris climate agreement, and tries to deliver a sweeping ruling against Presidential initiative, and if all this crap the right-wing five on the Supreme Court have been engaged in, is seen in ten or twenty years as key points in the climate change disaster, I think I will still hate him.

      Things are very different this year, and I am going to have to re-write my big political article to account for the Trump, Sanders and other revolutionary phenomena. such as the oil price slump. I'm willing to go along with whichever Dem can win the primary, read my old articles, I was twenty years ahead of Bernie, so I can't deny his revolution if it really happens, but we've got to WIN the Presidency with whatever D against whatever R, to save the planet and give our grandchildren a fighting chance at a decent life. And all you folks who support Bernie now will also have to keep coming out in the streets for him, if he is the nominee, for the next 5 years at least.

  • Muslims in Europe: A Crisis of Liberalism, not a Clash of Civilizations
    • philosophical ron 02/14/2016 at 6:20 am

      Thank you, thank you, thank you very much, Professor Preville, Mr. Harbin and especially Professor O'Brien, for a very illuminating discussion.

      However, give yourselves credit. You did not actually "deconstruct" the problem as the teaser indicated; hearing that word, I expect a situation to be obfuscated and drawn into confusion.

      Instead, I found Professor O'Brien's three most significant types of ideological conflict to be very well-grounded in historical reality, leading to a particularly clear and cogent analysis and discussion of the situation.

  • Russia Warns of 'World War' as Saudi Plans Syria Intervention
    • philosophical ron 02/12/2016 at 4:51 am

      Very interesting, very interesting steps in the maneuvering of states in geopolitical/military conflicts.

      Are the Saudi's finally ready to put their money, and their blood, where their mouth has been, against ISIS/Daesh? Or is this really against Assad and Shi'ite minorities? Or is this all carefully timed to be cancelled by the possible international "cessation of hostilities" announced by Sec. Kerry today?

      And about that "cessation of hostilities," who is going to enforce that on Daesh?

  • Did Bashar al-Assad win New Hampshire? Trump & Sanders Mideast Policies
    • This does seem to be a year of upset and upheaval, and I have under-estimated the ability of Sanders to become the phenomenon he has now become.

      A small reason I still haven't signed on to the phenomenon so far: in my imagination, the crucial moment in any presidency comes about on the afternoon of January 20th, when the new President is introduced to the national security/CIA leaders, who attempt to scare him into not challenging their power in any way. In my view, Obama failed this challenge and has been completely in their thrall; Hillary knows all these people already, on one hand she probably agrees with them already, on the other hand she may just be familiar enough to know how to fight back on various issues. Bernie, I could see him either misunderstanding their challenge, or getting in a pissing contest that hurts our (the progressive people) goals of significant reform in the longer term.* So that's my fear in the situation.

      My intellect in the situation would be that great and middle powers tend to change their basic foreign policies slowly, even if their administrations are taken over by significantly new regimes. Their have been exceptions, such as the "reversal of alliances" in 1756, when the previous Austrian/Prussian alliance against France was switched for an Austrian/French alliance against Prussia, and the Hitler-Stalin alliance of 1939, but those situations occur when major nations are desperate for advantage. We still have a few years of upset and upheaval to go until such conditions are realized, IMHO, but I guess I'm ready to be surprised by revolutionary developments in my old age.

      *And Trump, of course would sign onto and urge the intensification of whatever the spymasters proposed.

  • Obama Condemns hatred of Muslim-Americans, Affirms their Importance to Nation
    • philosophical ron 02/04/2016 at 5:01 am

      You eloquently write, "Above all, it was a decent speech, which restored some decency to our public discourse at a time of casual racism and unchallenged fascist sentiments being spouted by lesser men, by demagogues and psychopaths, who threaten our society with division and the creation of second-class citizens and a new Jim Crow. Obama is a symbol of how we got past the original Jim Crow. We will not be dragged back to that, no matter how many billions proponents of such reactionary politics may have.

      I hope and pray that you are right.

  • The "Democracy" of Billionaires & the Most Expensive Election ever Bought (Except for Bernie Sanders)
    • philosophical ron 02/02/2016 at 4:27 am

      I'm writing after the Iowa caucuses showed Hillary and Bernie in an extremely close race with a few votes still outstanding. I'm also writing as one who has been involved in American activism since 1966 (check my bio at my site), the experience of which has helped teach me that BOTH the daily, dedicated small-step work and struggle, AND the revolutionary vision of mass mobilization, are necessary parts of a victorious campaign.

      So, let me be the first to say it. Whoever wins between Hillary and Bernie, in the finals of the nomination contest, should pick the other for VP.

      Yes it's crazy, yet it may also be brilliantly necessary. And since it will inevitably come up as internet meme sooner or later, i just want to get my claim out there. I see the good and bad points of both, I am genuinely torn, it's the best solution.

  • Rhetorical Terror: GOP Candidates Pledge War Crimes, Carpet-Bombing, Asian Land Wars
    • Thanks for the comparison of Daesh barbarity with the Khmer Rouge.

      I studied this all at the time, but now it's growing faded, isn't it true, if I recall correctly, that the Reagan and Bush I administrations diplomatically supported the remains of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in all world forums, as part of a strategic alliance with China and against Russia & Vietnam? I won't claim to be an expert here.

  • Top 5 Ways Putin has won big in Syria and why Europe is embracing him
    • philosophical ron 01/28/2016 at 4:50 am

      Take a larger view of American culture. Obama is not a dictator, and I did not say it was he specifically being influenced.

      I see it more as the American culture and especially the big TV and Print media which, among other mythologies, clings tightly to the pro-Israel lobby -- and go into any synagogue in America and talk about politics, this is not just a few people in Washington. Both the American populist right and the populist left dislike the Assad regime, from different news sources and prejudices.

      And as for Obama not fighting too directly with Netanyahu and the Israel Lobby (or with the Saudi Lobby either), he sits with his advisers all day and they are all very convinced that for their political futures, it is not worth opposing either the Israelis or the Saudis in the ways you might wish him to do so. It's a compromise (that doesn't prevent them from taking other less public actions and attitudes), it's not a conspiracy.

    • Thank you very much for this astute analysis, I for one appreciate it very much.

      As for judgements, I'm trying to hold back. Despite the violence and repression the Assad regime has demonstrated against its own population, it never projected that in the military realms of the international balance to any great degree. So it was actually very little of a threat to the US or Israel (or anyone else). The US has become fixated on the threat posed by "Islamic terror" in general and Daesh in particular, and has been influenced by a global human-rights movement to become fixated on the Assad regime as something to be opposed (while the cooler temperaments among the American foreign policy community have so far prevented any kind of outright call for regime change).

      For Russia, I was taking it at face value that they opposed Daesh for reasons of large Muslim minority in Chechnya and other regions of their own territory. But perhaps I was wrong, and the motives of supporting a traditional ally while slapping the figurative faces of Obama and Erdogan reign supreme in the Kremlin.

      In any case, much interesting maneuvering among the greater and lesser powers awaits our breathless attention, as many of us worry that so-called "modern civilization" is most threatened by our failure to think and act better than rats, who will not soil their own nests with their toxic waste products, if given any alternative to do so.

  • Dragon & Phoenix: Khamenei Lauds New Sino-Iranian 'Strategic Partnership'
    • philosophical ron 01/24/2016 at 5:08 am

      For anyone who has studied modern international diplomacy, this development is entirely predictable and ordinary.

      The extent to which the promises that "the Dragon" and "the Phoenix" are consummated in actual human behavior will depend, of course, on millions of other future unknown variables, such as the future behavior of/cooperation from/antagonism with, that China and Iran may experience with Russia, the USA, India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, etc. etc., , and the decisions that the future political leaderships of China and Iran may make regarding whether they have the resources to follow their own particular desires "no matter what," or whether they live in a threatened world human society which requires all actors to cooperate if any are to have any chance at survival, and other such basic future variables that human actors may decide to change their thinking on, at any time.

  • Fearing the Bern, Billionaire Bloomberg Threatens to Buy Election for Establishment
    • As a veteran of third-party efforts (and one who could write a long article on how Nader wasted and shredded Green enthusiasm and practical organizing in the 1996-2004 era), I would like to raise the practical questions of a Bloomberg run, no matter who it may be aimed at.

      Most states have definite requirements for placing a third party/independent candidate on the ballot in November -- and from what I remember, unless Bloomberg is _immediately_ ready and organized with cadres of lawyers, to be circulating petitions, and/or taking over existing third parties, he's already missed the ballot deadlines on about 10 or more states, and if he doesn't get on it with real resources by mid-March he's lost at least 20 or more states. And a "write-in" campaign in the era of easily manipulated (by insiders) voting machines is a joke, that's not gonna make it. What are the odds right now that Bloomberg can mount an a campaign on the ballot in 45 states? I say at least 3 or 4 to 1 against.

  • Netanyahu demands more billions from US after Iran Deal, insults US Envoy, Steals more Land
    • philosophical ron 01/22/2016 at 4:42 am

      Thank you very much, Juan, for another "right on" observation.

      Not sure at all that, as you say, their shoplifting that land requires that we American taxpayers give them extra billions.

  • US–Saudi relations and the search for leverage
    • philosophical ron 01/14/2016 at 2:12 pm

      America needs to have good, normal relations with both Saudi Arabia and Iran. (And with Israel and Egypt and Syria and Turkey and Kurdish groups and everybody else in the Middle East, of course.)

      We don't need to be giving any of them huge quantities of top-end armaments that help separate military/political elites from their ordinary citizens of their own lands, and that help divert resources from these countries from helping the development of their own people. And we certainly don't need to be supporting any of them in their desires to carry on quarrels with their neighbors.

      And it would be a lot easier to have good relations with these nations if leaders of Middle Eastern nations actually cared about cooperating with us against modern-day pirates and thugs who pose a threat to all global citizens who want to see their leaders building a better world.

  • Prince of Araby: The reckless power behind the Saudi throne
    • philosophical ron 01/13/2016 at 5:33 am

      Sorry, I messed up in the editing process, I was trying to change the sentence of the 5th paragraph to end with a more proper grammar of "... which becomes a danger to all as hostile forms of nationalism _are_ practiced by all."

    • philosophical ron 01/13/2016 at 5:26 am

      The author notes, and I tend to agree, that "Shouldn’t Britain and America, supposedly ‘developed’ countries claiming to be beacons of progress and democracy, be brokering the rapprochement between these two extremist regimes that is key to regional peace, and a political solution to the Syrian crisis?"

      A key part of this work, as our host Juan noted in his latest post, is to point out the fallacy of the analytical/political myth that Sunni-Shi'ite conflict is somehow a primary characteristic of the historic Middle East.

      Yes, there was a conflict back in the day (when London and Paris were still hoping to become overgrown villages), the Muslim world in its first hundred-plus years after their Prophet had brought his revelations was divided over which branch of the Prophet's family tree should inherit the political leadership of the secular empire that had arisen, through the swords of Arab horsemen, on the momentum of the Prophet's achievement in the religious/philosophical/ideological sphere (as we would call it today).

      There were factions, there were battles, and basically the Sunni faction won, and got the empire, and political leadership in the Arab and Arab-influenced lands (i.e., not Iran) has basically remained in Sunni hands ever since.

      But the crucial point is, that these battles have NOT been continued in the Arab world over centuries, but have only re-awakened as deadly political battles in the last 50 or fewer years, under the pressures of un-relenting modernism affecting all aspects of Arab & Middle Eastern society, especially including the deletrious aspects of the urge towards "nationalism," which smaller and smaller communities become engaged in as an effort to protect themselves, yet which becomes a danger to all as hostile forms of nationalism is practiced by all.

      Again, the outcome of the Sunni-Shi'a battles of the early Caliphate period was NOT a tendency towards hatred, hostility, and continued violence. The Sunnis took the capital cities, but there were NO massacres of local populations who happened to prefer the Shi'a explanations and tendencies. Instead all the historic Middle Eastern empires allowed a pragmatic "federalism' in which each local area maintained its own local hierarchies, who protected their local citizens in their particularities of belief and practice, and who cooperated in the larger goals of maintaining trade and promoting the respective survival of their various communities and thus the survival of the current over-arching empire. The history of the Arab and other lands of the Middle East, before the colonial period, is NOT one of ever-brewing Sunni-Shi'a conflict. It is much more a pragmatic story of neighboring communities protecting their mutual interests with civil peace and negotiation of conflicts, while all submitted to various over-arching empires.

      When those over-arching empires went through their times of overthrow and re-establishment by a new elite, these events were generally carried out, with the great exception of the Mongol invasions, with relatively little civilian bloodshed and practically no disruption of local community fiefdoms.

      In my opinion, the history of the pre-colonial Middle East is an example that both "Western" and "Eastern" political leaders should be urged to imitate, and should not be twisted into a way of blaming Middle Eastern conflicts on local populations which cannot, in the mythmakers twisted ideology, think for themselves or change for themselves.

  • Top 7 Middle East Foreign Policy Challenges in 2016
    • philosophical ron 01/01/2016 at 6:04 am

      The ending of Point 1 is a truly brilliant summation of the actual historical situation created by milliions of independent human actors, thank you once again Juan.

      " It is clear now that neither side is likely to win a complete victory and years more fighting are unlikely to turn rural Sunni religious people into Baathists or Alawite Shiites into Salafis. Only by a negotiated end to the civil war and national elections can Syria be restored to order. Previous such conflict zones have been able to transition, if not to order, to a much less parlous situation, and there is no reason Syria cannot. Obama needs to put enormous pressure on Riyadh/ Ankara and on Moscow/Iran to get them to the negotiating table. It isn’t his instinct to buck a close ally or to put his own prestige on the line, which is why his Israel-Palestine diplomacy never went anywhere, but Syria is an even bigger threat to global order and indeed, to our civil liberties because of the terrorism emanating from it."

      Everyone interested in helping humanity survive the multiple crises we may have to face in coming decades, should be jumping on, and pumping up, Juan's point that "Only by a negotiated end to the civil war and national elections can Syria be restored to order."

    • I'm loving it so far, however a quick note about a typo in Point 1? I think you did what I always do at first, insert an opening parentheses and not follow it up with the closing parentheses.

      In this sentence: "But the Saudi-Turkey plan of turning multicultural Syria (maybe 14%-18% Shiite and 5% Christian and 10% leftist Kurds and 60% secular Sunnis) into a Taliban emirate is also impractical (and monstrous, since the other half of the population would end up ethnically cleansed. "

      there needs to be closing parentheses, I was taught that it should go after "cleansed" and before the period.

  • Rare victory for Freedom of speech in Turkey, as Pianist allowed to quote Omar Khayyam
    • philosophical ron 12/29/2015 at 5:52 pm

      To bring in a news flash I saw on BBC today, Turkish PM Erdogan's harsh reaction to a call by Kurdish activists for local government autonomy in the southeast Kurdish regions seems to be an extremely unhelpful development.

      When a leading Kurdish-identified politician repeated the call of a grassroots conference for eventual autonomy in Kurdish regions -- not demanding it immediately, just trying to bring up the issue for discussion -- Erdogan said the politician was committing "treason" and that he would be "taught a lesson."

      Most people and institutions that have survived their problems will say, in retrospect, that it is much easier to solve problems if you can at least discuss them.

      Which seems more likely: that Erdogan can learn something from this appellate court's judgement, or that Erdogan and his party will make sure the appellate court's decision does not stand?

  • What Islamophobia and ISIL/ Daesh have in Common: The Political Use of Fear
    • philosophical ron 12/13/2015 at 5:08 am

      Thank you very much for this cogent analysis, Prof. Buruma. It is very much appreciated.

      Fear is an important human behavior to focus on, as it operates on several different levels. Obviously it is a psychological behavior, tying into basic personality structures. Fear is also shaped by our explanations, our scientific and/or religious and/or philosophical explanations of what we think the world is all about. Fear also operates at the economic level, affecting our sense of economic values, and fear of course affects the political level of human behavior, majorly or minor-ly affecting our willingness to give respect, honor and status to some people over other people.

      So in all of these ways, fear is an extremely important factor in shaping the behavior of individuals and nations, when it becomes a deeply felt experience in a society's self-awareness.

  • If Defeating ISIL/ Daesh is so imp't, why isn't Ramadi Campaign all we're talking about?
    • philosophical ron 12/10/2015 at 6:26 am

      Another excellent report on the current state of reality among human beings, thank you so much Juan, your donation is coming. (I have realized that I have to pay for better media to continue to exist in the current environment. Do support your favorite web publishers on the political and cultural left!)

      Asking for "US cable news" to "bother... to notice that out there in the real world" actual news actually exists that viewers might actually be interested in, must, unfortunately, be counted as an act of folly. American mainstream media of all types have proved over and over that any story lines not approved by the politico-corporate masters will be ruthlessly ignored and unmentioned.

  • Roof, Dear and Tashfeen Malik: 'Self-Radicalized,' 'Terrorism,' 'Lone Wolf' and Double Standards
    • philosophical ron 12/05/2015 at 5:48 am

      Of course there is a firm and generally unchalenged double standard, both in official treatment and statements, and in media coverage, which seems to be at the root some especially American late 20th-early 21st Century institutional dysfunction.

  • How Turkish President Erdogan went Wrong: Dividing and Not Ruling
    • philosophical ron 12/04/2015 at 3:34 am

      Thank you, thank you once again, Juan, for this excellent original analysis of this difficult current historical situation.

  • Did Turkey send a deliberate message to Russia & was the US involved?
    • philosophical ron 11/28/2015 at 4:55 am

      And the point that I wanted to get to in my previous comment, was that both sides (but especially Turkey) have so much more to gain by eventually cooperating in a global culture of "we've all just got to get along, so we can solve serious problems that threaten us all."

      In addition to the challenges of possibly quite literally suffocating in our own waste products on a swiftly-warming planet, I do count the modern nation-state system that allows and excuses authoritarian and totalitarian nation-state governments (of all backgrounds and types) to exist and waste resources and lives as a serious problem that threatens us all.

      Obviously such ideals won't be easy or quick to achieve, hopefully we can at least get a start on before widespread environmental disasters thrust the necessity of cooperation between "ordained enemies" such as the Turks and the Kurds, or between American whites and American non-whites, ruthlessly in front of our faces.

    • philosophical ron 11/28/2015 at 4:29 am

      I'm 8000 miles away and I've always been 8000 miles away, however I've read a lot of history.

      The historical empires of ethnic Turks, culminating in the Ottoman empire, were never recorded as being particularly focused on, or bothered by, speakers of the Kurdish language. Militarily, they just rolled over all of their neighbors in their times of success. Also, it's important to remember that in history there were many, many small language-groups, local societies unconnected with any others, Central Europe alone had over 600 language groups as recently as the 1400's and 1500's, who were later gradually absorbed into Frenchmen, Germans, Poles, and so on. While I don't know any specifics about Anatolia, I suspect that today's Turks are almost certainly, and today's Kurds are probably highly likely to be, the results of a similar process.

      The modern Turkish state, in the last 40 years, has apparently become ultra-focused on opposing all possibilities any Kurdish success, anywhere, out of the fear of an eventual Kurdish seccession from Turkey. Yet like many other imperial-political-ethnic-conflict type situations around our world, it does seem that the intensity of that fear, and the steps taken to ward it off, become the primary cause of the eventual evolution/revolution.

  • Against Trump: 9/11 Muslim Candlelight vigils Sympathizing with US
    • philosophical ron 11/24/2015 at 4:53 am

      Thank you, very much, for helping spread this information.

      Is there any chance American TV networks ever mention this??

      NO. It really does seem that they are deliberately trying to make Americans more and more stupid, in both their choices of which "news" items to cover, and in their presentation of "entertainment" programs. I mean really, a guy takes a pill, and he's a super-dooper genius? The Devil is a real being, and he takes a corporeal form and hangs out in LA, being cool while all possible computer-generated chaos of property destruction happens all around him??

      They really are trying to make Americans more and more stupid all the time.

  • 'Very Soon' US forces will Arrive in Syria; Russia bombs near Turkey
    • philosophical ron 11/23/2015 at 6:24 am

      Count one involved aware American citizen very much in favor of Obama sending his special forces to work with the relatively left-wing -- and relatively enlightened in allowing female participation and leadership in their own social/military organization -- Kurds of the YPG grouping in Iraq and Syria. To the extent that they are NOT carrying out bombings within Turkey, they are a very positive local development in a region that is, to most outside observers, quite lacking in positive developments.

      Kurds and Turks, Sunnis and Shias, Arabs and Americans, all there groups are going to have to find a way to "all just get along" -- or we all going to be swept away by the "climate catastrophe" of suffocating in our own waste products, which I am increasingly convinced is quite upon us already.

      I retain my natural optimism, because I must, but unless we all start working together and not "against," CO2 is now at 4 % of the atmosphere when it was at 2.8 when I was a kid learning these things, we're not proving the "evolutionary advantages" of our so-called "Western Civilization." And Trump is close to Hilary in the polls. We're not that smart, and we may well be going down.

  • Dragon v. Eagle: China & the US compete for Eurasia
    • philosophical ron 11/23/2015 at 6:41 am

      Dear Pepe Escobar, thank you for an article with a possibly optimistic conclusion. (Sorry, I've come to view you as a pessimism-monger, a conspiracy-monger, after some of your past work.)

      If Americans are ready for a future leader who welcomes a future with "the G-20 as a multipolar global mechanism for coordinating a common development framework" and that "Within it, Washington and Beijing might sometimes actually work together in a world in which chess, not Battleship, would be the game of the century," I'm here, tanned, rested and ready.

  • Is Daesh/ ISIL a modern Raiding Pirate state?
  • Splintering World: Looking Back on the Great Collapse from 2050
    • philosophical ron 11/12/2015 at 2:00 pm

      I'll give it a B+ for dystopian speculation. In my own work, however, I prefer to focus on how the great trends of both greater unity and cooperation in human affairs, and of disunity and fragmentation in human affairs, are usually occurring simultaneously, starting at the most personal level of our basic choices (and tracing how these choices do in fact create our psychologies, our philosophies, and the political and economic aspects of our human societies).

      It is very difficult to track all this at the individual level, yet it can be done if we care. And of course all these individual choices do end up aggregating across societies, to produce the grand historical trends that historians like to point to. Feffer presents an interesting picture, I suspect the actual "working-out" of the future will be even messier, with trends and counter-trends exploding in all directions, for those who are trying to see them.

  • Iran's Attendance at Syria talks in Vienna marks its Emergence as Regional Power
    • philosophical ron 10/29/2015 at 4:22 am

      A very positive summary of what I, for one, consider a very positive development in world affairs.

      Nothing may come of it quickly, but at least they are talking, and I absolutely favor whatever political/diplomatic sausage-making is necessary to getting to goal of avoiding massacres of civilian populations being the primary result of any non-negotiated, one side victorious ending of the Syrian Civil Wars.

      Or should we call it the Syrian descent into the Anarchy of A Thousand Militias? One things the powers could do to help the way forward, would be to offer a $10 billion fund to buy up guns at high prices in the region, how many frustrated tired soldiers might go back to a more civilian life with the promise of some cash n hand?

      And is it too soon or too cheeky to give credit for the willingness of the Powers to congregate in the face of cross-continental crisis, to a more assertive public involvement, thanks to a global penetration of some sort of "internet culture?"

  • Does Obama have a Syria Strategy? Putin Does.
    • philosophical ron 10/12/2015 at 4:42 am

      You write, " So the US is irrelevant to the major military development on the ground in Syria in the past year!"

      From the viewpoint of this US citizen, that's OK!

      The Defense Department of the U.S. may feel a need to be "relevant" to the Syrian civil war; yet I would love to develop the argument that ordinary citizens of the US have no interest in being, and no need to be, "relevant" to the Syrian civil war.

      You note that Russia may be getting itself into a "long run ... quagmire," yet also write that Russian efforts to defend regime territory are an "achievement."

      I would love to know the innermost thoughts of all Syrians, of all factions and grouplets and clan fragments, on whether foreign powers need to be seeking "achievements" in the on-going civil war. I'm guessing the majority would not see much need for such "achievements."

      At this point, the only red line in any eventual settlement (whether achieved by internal Syrian forces or by regional and/or global power intervention) must be "No Massacres of Any Civilian Population." All other items in any eventual settlement are negotiable. It would be great if such a settlement could be reached (mainly or only) by Syrian actors , but what ordinary citizens of all lands need is some sort of effort towards a settlement by anybody and/or everybody.

  • Deal with Saudis? Why does the US care if Russia bombs al-Qaeda and its Allies in Syria?
    • philosophical ron 10/03/2015 at 4:45 am

      You write, "Saudi Arabia and Turkey support the Army of Conquest, which is heavily al-Qaeda."

      Two of America's 'best allies' in the Middle East apparently believe that an ideological commitment to Sunni forms
      of Islam over Shi'a forms of Islam (including murdering people who disagree with you over these preferences) is a good basis for policy. And thus end up supporting people with guns who would also wish to overthrow their own regimes in Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

      Many of the people in the Middle East, and most of the people in the rest of the world, are intelligent enough to see the foolishness of this path. They will need much help to develop and grow a local-based political consciousness that rejects the strongly authoritarian governments that exist throughout the region -- the governments which are
      keeping conflicts going, on and on, and on, just because it might benefit some local elite class, some day in some way.

      And American political activists will have to work harder to make sure that even Democratic presidential administrations do NOT get sucked into supporting one side or another in such ancient religious conflicts in faraway lands.

  • Syria: Is Bashar al-Assad winning the Diplomatic War? Rebels Fret
    • philosophical ron 09/28/2015 at 4:11 am

      " oonnved" is not in my dictionary. You were going for "connived, perhaps, or "maneuvered" ?

  • Iranian Activists Call On Iran To End Support For Syria's Assad
    • philosophical ron 09/27/2015 at 1:02 pm

      This stance by Iranian activists, some of whom know exactly the type of repression they face for it, is a true act of political courage.

      Comparing their action to US Senator Ted Cruz in another posting here today, it shows that he is nothing but an irresponsible, irrational demagogue, fomenting international strife for his own narrow (and very short-term) advantage

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