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Total number of comments: 347 (since 2013-11-28 14:43:02)


Showing comments 347 - 301

  • Protests won't stop Trump derailing Mueller Inquiry; Putting the Left in Congress Will
    • I agree with you Juan that we need to vote, but I think public protests and response can have a powerful effect - just look at those great students from Parkland.

      There is a movement ( to take to the streets within 24 hours of any mischief with Mueller or DOJ by Trump - you can cut and paste the following link to sign up, which I did this morning, and you can send the link to friends.

      Go to:

      link to

      If possible, it would be great to have a movement, state by state, to occupy the home offices of every GOP member of the House - and not leave until they fulfill their constitutional obligation as a check on a lawless president.

  • Psychopathocracy Matures: Trump asks why CIA did not Massacre family of Militant with Drone
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 04/08/2018 at 9:53 am

      I'm no fan of Geraldo and he cut a mighty pathetic figure in the interview I thought. Personally I watch Bill Maher for some of his guests, but not Maher himself. He is a misogynist and a notorious hater of Islam, as well as being generally deeply ignorant of religion and himself morally challenged.

      I took deep offense this week at his pushback against David Hogg's take-down of Laura Ingrahm: here is a young person, the whole of 17 years old, who has just gone through a recent and horrific trauma, had the courage to speak out about it, and his biggest take away is that Hogg is illiberal because he advocates a boycott of Ingrahm's advertisers? And this is horrible because left-wing students are so illiberal? Maher completely erased the emotional and political context (and moment) in which Hogg's criticism and call to boycott took place.

      Bill Maher is not smart, getting less and less funny by the day, and provides background noise for some ugly behavior in this country. He gives bigots a platform (and that is where I draw the line at watching him - if he has, say, Milo Y. or Ann Coulter as a guest I keep the tv off), and I doubt he understands that he himself is as big an offender as they are.

      Smacking down a traumatized 17 year old in favor of a mercenary Fox News pundit. Good grief. It's not just Trump and the right that can be mean-spirited.

  • Top Ten Signs the US is the most Corrupt nation in the World (2018 Edn.)
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 02/23/2018 at 6:59 am

      The NRA spent $30-35 million to get Trump elected in 2016; the organization is currently under investigation by the FBI into whether a substantial share of that funding came from Russia. Alexander Torshin, a Putin crony, has had long and deep ties to the NRA and is also under investigation. See the following link:

      link to

      (Cut and paste if the link is inactive). It is far from being resolved as an "old wive's tale".

  • The US Role in Turning Countries into Shitholes and provoking Immigration
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 01/13/2018 at 7:14 pm

      I am an American of Norwegian descent. My family came from Nordfjordeid on the western coast; I also have relatives in Kjirkenes on the Russian border, and on my grand-father's side lots of family all over Denmark. I have visited them a number of times, and as per some comments here, yes, the USA is a s******e country by comparison to Scandinavia.

      Do they have problems? You bet - including with bigotry as concerns immigration from Islamic countries. But the system of healthcare, the robust social safety net, and their generally liberal and humane outlook on life make them wonderful countries to live in and to visit.

      The real s******e here is the GOP and their racism. I have always been proud of my Scandinavian descent because of how socially progressive their societies are; but for the first time I am embarrassed.

      Note to White Supremacists: If you need to boast that you are the master race, you probably really are not.

  • White Nat'list Trump Adviser Miller Bounced from CNN after Sit-in
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 01/08/2018 at 1:20 pm

      Great post, and very true. I have been particularly impressed with Jenifer Rubin in the WaPo - yes, a crazy Republican during the Obama years, but she has obviously had a "come to Jesus" moment concerning the stakes facing our democratic republic and its constitution and has emerged as an important voice decrying GOP cravenness, cruelty, and depravity.

      To be sure, the MSM is far from perfect - so too are most human institutions. But to the credit of most major newspapers, plagiarist get fired, and errors usually get confessed and emended. Where will you find even a hint of self-correction or criticism on Fox, Breitbart, InfoWars, etc.?

  • Bannon's Game: White Supremacist takeover of GOP
    • They can win because they have a ruthless and demented political machine behind their back, aka the GOP. I can't even get my head around the danger to our democracy, our country's physical survival, and the preservation of our species at this late date.

      If and when we survive this not only do we need to establish a commission to reassess the nature of the presidency, we need a judicial body that will ensure Ryan, McConell, Priebus, and Trump's inner circle, family, and all pertinent enablers are put behind bars for reckless endangerment of, well, everyone and everything.

      And if and when the dust is cleared, we will wish to know their names no longer.

  • Was Jesus a DACA Dreamer and Should he have been Deported/ Crucified?
    • Happy Holidays Juan – and I promise to donate before the New Year after Christmas. Thanks for continuing your service in what is indeed a grim time for this country. A few things to add to this:

      First, I’m going to be a bit of a nit-pick here. I am dubious about drawing too direct a parallel between Jesus and Dreamers because of the lack of what we would recognize as a nation state in the ancient world. James Scott, in his recent wonderful book Against the Grain (great holiday reading!) teases this out in very interesting terms. Ancient borders, even of a highly organized empire like Rome’s, were very porous, and when discrimination arose it tends to be cultural and linguistic more than racial (and I’m not sure we can say the ancient world had such a category as “race” anymore than it had “homosexuality” as one).

      Also in defense of the Romans, they were more generous with citizenship than one might expect – Spaniards, Gauls, Greeks – can be found among the citizenship roles certainly by Caesar’s time in the 50s BC, though admittedly these were often well-connected provincials (Roman and Italian senators were already grumbling in Caesar’s time about Gauls entering the Senate). In general Rome’s altruism with enfranchisement of conquered peoples was a key to its overall success, although there were levels and grades of it. That said, a carpenter’s family in a distant province need not apply – at least not until Caracalla granted universal citizenship early in the third century CE (and probably, most cynically, for tax purposes).

      Citizenship didn’t guarantee a fair trial – capricious governors sometimes scandalously crucified citizens in their province (such as Vibius Secundus, governor of Spain in the 20s CE, whose own son prosecuted him before Tiberius). But you are right – that is precisely why Jesus was crucified and Paul allowed to go to Rome to appeal to Caesar (then Nero). That was a key difference – citizens were in fact subject to capital punishment, but they were given the right to appeal, as opposed to non-citizens. As to the specific reasons Jesus was ultimately tried by Pilate and what was going on there (if we were to take the biblical narrative at face value which we should be wary of), I’ve got a lot to say on it, but this comment is already lengthy!

      As to the lessons about honoring the stranger that you cite – this is indeed the crux of the matter. I’ve spent the last year doing a close reading of the King James Bible (simply because its language is beautiful and singular – I highly recommend God’s Secretaries by John Nicolson to get a fuller appreciation of it). My conclusion is that conservative evangelicals never have read the text; they simply “intuit” or “feel” what is in it without reading it. Concerning the Old Testament, I could not even begin to list the numerous passages in which God commands that the stranger in the strange land be given help and compassion, the widow and orphan be supported, the sick and the least among us be treated with sympathy and justice. Indeed, it is pretty clear that not doing this is one of the explanations for the Babylonian captivity (along with apostacy and the worship of strange gods). God also commands it because the Israelites themselves were once captive in a strange land (Egypt) whose people sustained them. And let me note this is not in one or two passages – in the books subsequent to Exodus it is fair to say that this message is on virtually every page – every page!

      It is an uphill climb even to argue that the Bible particularly supports the favorite whipping post of conservatives who want to ban abortion and quash LGBTQ rights. But it is pretty clear what both the Old and New Testaments say about treating the least among us. I am glad to see people on the left, such as pastor William Barber, start to push back against conservatives whose faith is not lived, but merely used as a political tool. The message of the Jewish Christian heritage is one of compassion for all – there is simply no better weapon with which to defeat the Bible-thumpers than the Bible itself. We dismiss it at our peril.

      Now, off to over-indulge as I celebrate the birth of a disenfranchised Jewish heretic!

  • Yes, America, there is a Class War, and you Just Lost It
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 12/20/2017 at 8:31 am

      All of this is a feature not a bug. The point of this bill was and is patent for anyone to see: balloon the deficit to go after Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and anything else perceived by Ayn Rand as helping "inferior" people (her book Atlas Shrugged is required reading among congressional Republicans and that is no story or joke).

      In the process there will be more money for the 1% to spend in efforts to further corrupt and capture national and state legislative bodies, and national and local media (as Sinclair Media, for all intents and purposes a media wing of the current administration, infects local news markets like a cancer).

      As for Alabama and those who vote against their own interests, at this late date it is hard for me to get worked up over it. As Rabbi Hillel said over 2000 years ago, "If I am not for myself, who will be?" On the other hand, years of teaching ancient history make me very uneasy about wealth inequality - people will only take so much before social and political instability take hold, and ancient Athens and Rome are prime exemplars.

      We have seen four decades plus of socially regressive policies in this country with only limited victories - when, I wonder, will we bottom out?

      And as always:

      pars republicana delenda est!

  • Puerto Rico: On top of Everything Else, GOP Tax Bill is Racist
    • I am no fan of the Dems - I have voted Green and I've voted Nader, but dammit, I am now done with that after the past election. Hillary was far from perfect, but nowhere near the menace that Trump represents.

      Both-siderism was proven a bankrupt way of looking at the world last year. If you think both sides are equally nefarious then at this point I just think that is some sort of hipster stance. You don't prove that you are cool by being cynical - you just prove that you are foolish and willing to wreak enormous damage for the sake of an empty point (see, at this late date, Glen Greenwald).

      Yeah, Dems have failed on a lot of fronts - I am not fond of them and their support for corporate America and forever wars. But you defend health care, a diverse society, women's rights, the climate, academic freedom, research and science, and a relatively healthy economy with the political party you have, not the one you would like to have.

      I've lived in other countries I consider civilized. If I had the resources I would exit the US tomorrow to escape what I see as inevitable fascism, or worse, civil unrest. I am hoping that by the time that happens I will.

      We are all of us running out the clock. And by the way, screw the concerns of Republicans - after all, didn't they just say that to all of us with their lethal tax bill, the first big step in gutting Social Security and Medicare.

      What do you call Paul Ryan in prison? A good start. Hell, I've paid into Social Security for 40 years and now he wants to take it away - let's all make a massive citizen's arrest for theft.

    • I think it needs to be said much more forcefully that the GOP is by no means "latently" white supremacist or racist. Given the historic trajectory of the party:

      1. There was Barry Goldwater's opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

      2. Nixon's Southern Strategy.

      3. Reagan starting his campaign in 1980 in Philadelphia Mississippi where civil rights workers were murdered with the help of local police in 1964, and his coded terms about "welfare queens" and "young bucks" abusing food stamps.

      4. Lee Atwater, Willie Horton, and George H. W. Bush's gruesome 1988 campaign (that now looks, post Trump, like a children's tea party).

      5. Bush II's response to Katrina (despite his relatively diverse cabinet).

      6. And let's not forget the campaign by various surrogates in the right wing hate industry who spent the years after Bush whipping up animus among the base whose head collectively exploded at the election of a black president - birtherism anyone?

      7. The GOP embrace of a creature who started his campaign with openly bigoted remarks about Mexicans, which easily morphed into equally discriminatory remarks against Muslims, people of color, and women.

      I am sorry to be repetitive, but it simply cannot be said enough: At some point the GOP must be outlawed as a white supremacist hate group. And we might add, given their standard bearer in the White House, that there are now further grounds for outlawing the party as one that is frankly and blatantly anti-constitutional and pro-fascist (see, e.g., questioning the first amendment, attempting to undermine a free press, an independent judiciary, ignoring the emoluments clause, the response to Charlottesville, the spider Bannon still squirting his poison into the king's ear, not to mention dereliction of duty in providing for the common defense or promoting the general welfare). Moreover, if they manage to strip millions of health care with that sham piece of "legislation" known as the tax bill, then hell, we can add in crimes against humanity (since countless Americans will die for want of health care) - in fact, why not use Puerto Rico as a pretext, since the on-going disaster is one manufactured by the GOP.

      In my books there are no good Republicans: if you stand with a bigoted anti-constitutionalist authoritarian, to me that pretty much makes you a bigoted anti-constitutionalist authoritarian, whether that is a member of Congress, the White House, or just one of their ignorant supporters in the street, and they have long since shown their truest nature.

      And as always: pars republicana delenda est!

  • Massive worldwide Rallies Condemn US, Courtesy Trump Jerusalem Call
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 12/09/2017 at 7:20 am

      It occurs to me Juan that this is a feature not a bug - it is designed to be provocative and to incite violence, and is part and parcel to the GOP program. The policy is intended to prove the point of bigots that Muslims are some how inherently violent. So what do you do? One of the things that will most likely incite them against you. If reality won't come to you then you make the reality.

      It's the same principle on which the tax plan with its body blow to the ACA was forced through - create a revenue short fall so you can gut social security and medicaid down the road, and kick and scream about how the ACA is broken and needs to be eliminated.

      It will be the same with any GOP budget, that will underfund programs to make them less efficient and effective - then you can start screaming about the inefficiency of government and how it never works in order to gut it.

      Meantime the GOP becomes increasingly fascist, increasingly unmoored from any morality or any sense of reality, doubling down on the authoritarian they chose for highest office. I do not see how we escape this without either a seriously stupid war (say in Korea or Iran), nuclear holocaust (see Korea again), economic catastrophe that makes 2008 look benign (see the tax bill and rampant deregulation of the banking sector), or our republic intact (see the GOP and its leader as "blood and soil" authoritarians drunk with power and one party rule for which there simply is no bottom), or a combination of those thereof.

      Tremendous damage has already been done to this country. It has only just begun.

  • Top 5 reasons Roy Moore could still Win, despite Sex Scandals
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 11/10/2017 at 12:26 pm

      This is a willful misreading. The OT actually can be pretty hardcore (no pun intended) about sex. If you read, say, Leviticus or Deuteronomy there are distinct prohibitions of sex outside of marriage. My students are also shocked to learn that a literalist interpretation means that they also have to lose that tattoo. The problem, though, with using the OT as an authority is that it came from many different hands at many different periods, so it can be all over the map.

      The OT and NT both are often used as a cover for vice and all manner of despicable behavior and policies. But if there are three or four things that the OT is all about, I would say that number one is against apostasy from Yaweh (and clearly allows for genocide and ethnic cleansing on his behalf), number two is about treating the least among us with dignity and respect, number three is about treating strangers in your own land as your brothers and sisters.

      Having read the text innumerable times at this point and taught it (in a university or college setting), I literally do not know what text evangelicals are looking at - my guess is that they don't know what's in the Bible, just that what they think might be in it is true.

      In the end my reading of the Bible is that the Left has shunned it to their detriment - particularly the NT, which on any reading is supportive of social justice, not the social Darwinism of the GOP, and certainly not the pedophile wing of the GOP (see Moore, Trump on dating Ivanka, etc.)

  • George W. Bush & GOP lack standing to bash Trump for Racism
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 10/21/2017 at 5:39 pm

      Thanks for this post Juan - W does NOT deserve a free pass by any stretch, unless he brings himself to admit a helluva lot of other assorted crimes; until then rehabilitation is a steep climb. In addition to all of this, for further context and history, let's not forget that Reagan started his campaign in Philadelphia Miss., where three civil rights workers had been murdered in 1964, with involvement by the Philadelphia Police Department and the Neshoba County Sherif's office. This was in 1980, when the memory of the murders was much more recent; as if that were not enough, there was Reagan's dog whistle about welfare queens which he used in his campaign in 1976 and then again in 1980. In addition he referred to "strapping young bucks" who bought steaks with food stamps. On top of everything else there was his Confederate-esque invocation of "states' rights", a catch phrase used by Southerners to justify Jim Crow. In 1984 he returned to Philadelphia Miss. an stated that "the South shall rise again".

      Racism is not a bug of the GOP; it is, in fact, its most prominent feature, apart, these days, from willful cruelty and incompetence.

  • Is racial bias driving Trump's neglect of Puerto Rico?
  • Yes, White Supremacists, some Vikings were Muslims & Thor was Brown
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 10/17/2017 at 11:52 am

      Reality in this regard gets complex. E.g., paleo-Christian tombs often have the symbol of the vine leaf or a wine barrel, or what is known as an "orans" figure - someone who looks a lot like a young orator with his hands raised up in supplication - and next to these you will see the abbreviation DM which in Latin means Dis Manibus - "to the gods of the dead". So are they pagan, Christian, or just covering their bases? Plenty of pagan Greeks were attracted to Judaism and supported and patronized synagogues throughout the Greek East. None of this needs to be hard and fast, and plenty of beliefs often live side by side. If we can't figure it out, perhaps it's because they didn't themselves.

      By way of contemporary analogy, I have plenty of friends and relatives who consider themselves Christian or Jewish but at the same time embrace astrology, reincarnation, and shamanism. I also have plenty of friends who are atheists but attend church for its communal and social aspects, and also because they embrace the Judeo-Christian ethos.

      So yes, we need to be cautious, but also aware that religious affiliation can be very amorphous.

    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 10/17/2017 at 11:39 am

      No, your assertions are in error. The Rus was the name given by Greeks and Slavs who traded with Swedish Vikings, also called Varangians, on the Volga trade routs in the 10th century.

    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 10/16/2017 at 10:24 pm

      That is hard to say - it's now generally accepted that the Irish were traveling in skin skiffs (!) for centuries before the Norwegians to Iceland. See Barry Cunliffe's book (he's an outstanding archaeologist), The Extraordinary Voyage of Pytheas the Greek, that reconstructs Pytheas' journey from ancient Massilia (modern Marseilles) to (very likely) Iceland in the 320s BC.

    • And I was remiss not to mention the familial connections between the African emperors and an important Syrian one - the notorious Elagabalus was from Syria (ancient Emesa, modern Homs) and related by blood to the house of the Severi who originated from Leptis Magna in Libya.

    • Contacts between the Islamic World and the Viking World are relatively well documented if you take into consideration Ahmad ibn Fadlan’s account of his travels in Rus, the area of the Volga where the Varangians (Swedish Vikings) lived and traded. He traveled there in the early 10th century and his manuscript is still extant (and popularized by Michael Crichton’s historical novel Eaters of the Dead). This discussion reminds me of the recent dust up with Mary Beard, perhaps our greatest living Roman historian and Classicist, who had the temerity to point out that yes, there were black Africans in Roman Britain. The outrage directed at her over pointing out this simple fact – one that is not in the least controversial among ancient historians - was absurd and ignorant. Romans moved auxiliaries around – often as far from their home country as possible, hence British auxiliaries in Syria and Syrian auxiliaries in Britain. So why not black Africans? I suppose it would upset people still more to know that Rome had emperors, likely of Punic or Berber origin, from North Africa for quite some time in the 3rd century AD, and later that century came Philip the Arabian to the throne. Worse still, one of Rome’s greatest and earliest writers, who profoundly influenced Shakespeare, was no less than Publius Terentius Afer, the Afer likely reflecting his Punic (i.e., African) background.

      Since most bigots don’t think of southern Europeans as “white”, they will perhaps be even more offended to know that a Greek, Pytheas of Massilia, traveled perhaps as far as Iceland in the last quarter of the 4th century BC. Still worse, with the Middle Ages and the rise of Portugal as a world power, extensive trading (in salt cod) and piracy took place along the coast of Norway on the part of the Portugese (who, recall, had been occupied by Romans and later conquered by Arabs). My family is from there, and my mother, when people would try to guess her ethnicity, got taken for someone of Hispanic descent – her features were very dark. Most members of my family have green eyes and black hair – we are scarcely models of Nordi Ubermensch! But given that most of these 2% distinctions (to borrow from Juan) are so recent (we are only talking about these distinctions as emerging between the past 50-80 thousand years), distinctions based of “race” (however we define that!) seem to me ridiculous.

      And a few Muslim Vikings seem to me not at all surprising. Thanks for the post!

  • Germany: Immediate Danger of Mideast War if Trump dumps Iran Deal
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 10/13/2017 at 5:27 pm

      If any Shakespearean character is brought to mind by Trump it is Iago in Othello - a malicious little worm of a man who commits mayhem for mayhem's sake simply out of pique. The obsessive revenge for pure spite, the malignancy he holds against anyone's happiness, and his utter disregard - nay the delectation he takes! - in human misery are all Trumpian traits. Would that he would take a cue from Iago's last line in the tragedy - "From this time forth I will never speak word"

  • Trump wants 10-fold increase in Atom Bombs but is after Iran, which has none
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 10/12/2017 at 4:02 pm

      Yes, Congress should step in but won't. What we are witnessing is complete moral collapse. Trump is no surprise - he is the lurid id of the GOP - now a feature, not a bug, of that party. But the GOP is so corrupt, ignorant, and morally myopic (and I include their voting base) that all they see is a massive tax cut. This is what they want - plus to return America back to some mythical never-existed-in-the-first-place version of Leave It To Beaver or the Donna Reed show. What are the mere lives of lowly and humble millions on this planet compared to the mighty and beneficent Capitalist overlords schooled in Ayn Rand and genuinely embracing the belief that so-called "less intelligent" people don't deserve to survive, let alone deserve government support of any kind (never minding that we have all paid out of pocket for things like Medicare and Medicaid - really earned benefits like insurance, NOT entitlements [and we should lose that term]). We are lucky each morning simply to have another day under this regime - but based purely on statistics and the size of the US it will not last. Something horrific is bound to happen I'm afraid. Clearly Trump thinks even bad publicity is good, so why not fix his place in history by . . . ending it.

  • Trump and the Faustian Bargain of Corker and the GOP
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 10/11/2017 at 9:15 am

      I'm honored! Thanks!

    • Caligula and Nero were popular with the populus Romanus because they were what were known as popularis type politicians - imitating the political style of Julius Caesar who variously appealed to and corrupted the mob, and appealing directly to them rather than going through the traditional means of winning support from his fellow senators (yeah, plus ca change!). But the senate and the elite hated all three, since they tread upon its traditional governing privileges. Emperors who respected the senate were generally well-liked - e.g. Augustus, Vespasian, and Trajan. These were emperors who adhered to more traditional means of ruling (with a big asterix by Augustus!) and that included respect for the august body of the senate. The Orange Menace definitely follows in the popularis mode of governance, and it is not pretty. The difference is, of course, Nero and Caligula didn't, you know, have their finger on a nuclear button. Hell, they couldn't even console people after mass shootings or tweet against their perceived enemy du jour.

    • In Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus the Seven Sins – direct holdovers from the vice figures of Medieval morality and mystery plays – parade directly on stage: gluttony, sloth, lechery, pride, envy, wrath, and covetousness. Lucifer manifests them before Faustus for his entertainment and Faustus is delighted. It strikes me that the Marlowe play (less famous than Goethe’s poem) is here equally apt – the GOP appears not to mind that it has made a deal with a creature that embodies – nay, is the virtual Platonic form! – of each of these sins, both in his personal life and in his governing style (if he can be said to have one). Of course, Faustus repents in the end, but it is too late. Demons emerge from under the stage and drag Faustus to hell. In the 1616 version of the play (there is an earlier one dated to 1604), the disiecta membra of Faustus are discovered on the stage at play’s end. That is what will remain of the GOP – one hopes – at the end of Caligula a L’Orange’s so-called presidency. One can only hope the country and our planet is not in an equivalent state of disrepair.

  • Top 5 signs Donald Trump might be an effing moron
    • In all due seriousness Juan, it is perfectly reasonable to question whether the Orange Menace has ever read a single book. My suspicion is that he has a baseline of functional literacy (he can tweet and sign his name), but that once he hit high school he simply bullied his way through or had daddy make some calls to recalcitrant teachers intent on maintaining their academic integrity. Once in college I am guessing that all bets were off – paper mills for purchasing essays, cheating, and intimidating profs or administrators were likely the modus operandi of the OM and his family.

      Of course all of this is highly conjectural, but I also think quite reasonable, given a) the man’s character (or rather, lack thereof), b) what we know of his complete unscrupulousness and lack of any ethical (or for that matter, human) standards, c) his history of variously lying, cheating, or bullying his way through any number of situations, and most importantly, d) his deep ignorance about, well, anything, from health care to North Korea.

      He certainly has never written a book, just taken credit for ghost written tomes that are paeans to his BS. Likely, as is typical unfortunately for many Americans, he has not read a book since leaving high school (if he even did then).

      Note to the American public: It’s kind of irresponsible to, you know, elect the dithering, crazy, Fox News watching drunk at the end of the bar to the presidency of the United States – especially one who hasn’t read a single book in his entire adult life.

      Moronism, though, is one of the central pillars of the GOP and of conservative identity.

  • Trump's Billionaire Cronies feed at Public Trough as he disses Puerto Rico
    • GrumpyWIthoutCoffee 10/02/2017 at 8:45 pm

      I appreciate your comment and comparison, but in truth, that is a disservice to Caligula and Nero. Modern tyrants - even elected ones - have a far greater capacity for destruction, suppression, and mayhem. Besides, Nero and Caligula in their own way were what were known as populares politicians - they appealed to the plebs and dissed the senate. Given how bad life was for the lower classes in the premodern period, in the interest of academic honesty and integrity (I'm a professional classicist), the comparisons are simply not apt. They make for good metaphor, but in literal truth, Trump and Bush are much worse in terms of the scale of suffering they have visited (and we can include the GOP congress, who yesterday and today, in the wake of the mayhem of Puerto Rico and Las Vegas, let CHIP expire, hence health insurance for 9 million children).

      So worse than Caligula, Nero, and Commodus all rolled into one. Comparisons do not obtain.

    • Trump is to be congratulated - from Nixon to Nero in nine short months!


      Actually Nero wasn't as bad as either - he at least provided relief for the victims of Rome's fire (the cause of which is a matter of debate among ancient historians) and took a leading role in reconstruction which benefited the populus Romanus.


  • People w/ Electric Cars aren't trapped in Miami Beach with no Gasoline
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 09/08/2017 at 5:01 pm

      Of course Scott Pruitt, current barbarian in the gate at the EPA, says now is not the right time to discuss climate change out of sensitivity to Florida residents. (Yeah, my head is exploding too, given he was a grifter on the payroll of big oil).

      No, as the inimitable Charles Pierce notes, it's never the right time to discuss anything for these people is it? Like after mass shootings - we don't want to "politicize" gun deaths, or hurricanes, or poverty now do we? These are things that just are, and we whistle past the graveyard once again.

      Hey Scott, why don't you do humanity a favor and lash yourself to a post on a beach in Miami this weekend? Because you and people like you are responsible for what is, in essence, mass murder. Big oil, big tobacco - see the difference? Neither do I!

  • Trump Exploits Harvey Victims in Stealth Pardon of Arpaio
    • "this is not a bad thing" . . .

      unless (at least domestically) you are of African-American descent, or Hispanic, or a woman, or need health care, or are an academic, or you are a journalist, or you are LGBTQ, or you care about the environment.

      "could bode well for many of the serious problems etc."

      No. The stability that we have enjoyed in much of the world these past 70 years is atypical - and frankly necessary given the destructive capabilities of modern weaponry. The global order is far from perfect, but like Rome, beats the alternative.

      I am about to teach my Greek history course as I do every fall. I will teach about the civilizational collapse that occurred ca. 1180 BC - you do not want to be around for that sort of thing.
      I teach the same thing in my Roman history course - you do not want to be around in a post-Roman world. It's not pretty.

      My prediction: Trump is a sadist who has a zero sum mentality. As Americans reject him increasingly he will try to inflict maximum damage and pain on the country. He will literally try to pull the walls down around the country's ears, because for him winning is about nothing if not domination.

      And in Caligula aL'Orange's view, that means visibly making his opponent - i.e. the American people - suffer tangible pain and loss. Trump is NOT an individual. He is an archetype one can know everything about by perusing the pages of Plato, Tacitus, and, frankly, William Shirer.

      If destruction of our 240+ year old experiment in operating a democratic republic and 70 years of relative stability is what you are after, he's obviously your man. But that game is played at extreme peril.

  • Trump, the Magical WASP, Deepens Racial Divide again in Phoenix
    • Caligula a L'Orange is an easy target. But creatures such as Rience Priebus, Paul Ryan, and Mitch McConnell are just as if not MORE responsible for the Sword of Damocles that hangs over our country and the planet, not to mention the media surrogates such as FOX, talk radio, etc. for enabling this (and yes, CNN, MSNBC, and other media outlets too).

      I have no idea what the GOP calculus is here. Why not take the albatross from around the neck, impeach him, and implement more handily their nefarious agenda with Pence? What are they thinking? That they will win seats in 2018 with Caligula in a hair piece still governing? I don't see how the GOP holds congress in 2018 at this point with or without Trump.

      I loathe Ryan and McConnell in particular, but I would love to know what is going on in their heads at the moment, and to judge from the NYT piece yesterday McConnell and Caligula are no longer on speaking terms even.

      Any suggestions as to what the thought process is here? Please, someone chime in - I'd love to know!

      WEIRD! Very very weird!

  • Fascism in Charlottesville: Why it had a monopoly on violence & Intimidation
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 08/16/2017 at 7:39 pm

      You can't ignore the president of the most powerful country in the world for one f*****g second when he is a f*****g intent on destroying the country. I called all my representatives today and insisted on his arrest. He's an extreme menace to our friends, to our neighbors, to our fellow citizens, not a 2 year old.

    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 08/16/2017 at 12:03 pm

      Trump is an unreconstructed racist and a Nazi-sympathizer - plain and simple. He represents the ideology that occupied - and enslaved - my relatives in Denmark and Norway in the 1940s. He is quite happy to have the venomous worm of civil dissensions gnaw at the bowels of our republic.

      I have no truck for lectures from Hillary haters at this point - screw you. The second he came down that f*****g golden elevator and announced his hatred of Mexicans we saw him for what he was.

      But anyone with half a historic memory didn't need that to know that - we knew what he was since the 1980s and the Central Park Five, or even before then, with his history of housing discrimination against blacks.

      Now he has given material support and comfort to white extremists terrorists and needs to be arrested. Period.

  • Why don't People think Trump's Denunciation sincere? B/c he Ran on Racism
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 08/15/2017 at 10:52 pm

      "Why don't People Think Trump's Denunciation Sincere?"

      Simple answer now: as of Tuesday night, Tuesday night!

      He needs to be arrested and tried for giving material support to domestic terrorists. Period.

  • Top 5 Ways White Terrorism means never having to Say you're Sorry
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 08/13/2017 at 10:35 am

      And this is all of a piece right? Putin is victor in the sense that his goal was to destabilize the US. Yes, we go on with our mundane diurnial tasks. But meantime Trump’s ignorance has made any legislative agenda moot (thankfully given how nefarious it is), voting rights are being quietly undermined, the environment is being degraded, people are fearful about the possibility of war and instability in East Asia (and Venezuela – Venezuela – really?!?!), and our own security at home as a result, and the markets are starting to get uneasy. Fomenting racism and the alt-right is very much a part and parcel to this.

      Keep an eye on the markets especially – money, not ethics, is the only language many people understand, particularly the GOP. Once Trump destabilizes the economy to the detriment of our financial overlords he will be forced to go, unless the GOP comes to its senses and realizes what a menace he is to national and global security (but I am not holding my breath).

      To deny Russia’s hand in fostering this at this point requires as much special pleading and mental backflips as a climate denier (yeah, Trump and Putin discussed adoption for an hour at the G20 because their love and concern for children is soooo well documented: PA-LEEZ!).

      And yes Juan, keep driving this home - this was an act of white (and likely Christian) extremist terrorism.

  • 'Locked & Loaded' Trump's 1960s Cowboyism re: N. Korea & Venezuela
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 08/13/2017 at 7:15 am

      Btw - in that film qua ex-Confederate soldier he boasts that he had refused to and scoffed at surrender to the north. Plus ca change and all that!

    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 08/12/2017 at 3:41 pm

      Hello Gerald - I teach a course at our local college on the influence of ancient Classical culture on modern cinema. I teach one western because it is so heavily influenced by Homer's Iliad - a John Ford film with John Wayne as the lead called The Seachers. In it he plays a former Confederate Soldier and a white racist who wants to kill native Americans in revenge for abducting his niece and murdering several family members (but, surprise surprise, his niece has "gone native"). So yes, in at least one movie John Wayne was on the side of the Confederates.

    • Where does this end? We don’t know. While initially alarming and still potentially catastrophic, I am guessing that his tirades against North Korea were brought about by a narcissistic rage at the health care debacle and his failure to be able to control the GOP led congress by fiat. Still worse, it is also likely brought about by the tightening vice of the Mueller investigation – surprise raids on Manafort’s house can’t be good for Trump, who is now frustrated and flailing.

      His rhetoric, as even the likes of Gordon Humphrey noted this week, is manifest evidence of his mental instability and unfitness for office. Jennifer Rubin, a conservative Washington Post columnist, has been outstanding at documenting the Madness of King Don, and grounds for his removal. In a sense, we no longer need Mueller: anyone who speaks so cavalierly about “fire and fury” and puts at risks millions of lives in Asia and the US west coast puts us out of the range of the sociopathic and into the realm of the psychopathic frankly.

      But hey, since most US cities, esp. the west coast, are deep blue, I doubt the GOP would much care about getting a leg up on elections by seeing their destruction – I wish this were a sick joke, but in the world where Higgins, Gorka, and Bannon are in power, I am afraid not. What do they care if blue America looses its edge, even through nuclear annihilation? After all, more than half their party would be fine with cancelling the 2020 elections because of a false narrative over voter fraud and they are looking to reduce the voting rolls by any means at their disposal.

      And if you think this exaggeration or conspiracy then you have not been keeping tabs on alt-right media or read the Higgins memo, in which the rhetoric hoping for civil war is lightly bandied about, or in which the left (“cultural Marxists” – whatever that means, Muslims, the academy, the legal community, etc.) is demonized as an existential threat to the US.

      We are caught in a spider’s web woven by the false but fatal visions of ignoramuses whose fever dreams are the 21st century version of John’s ravings on Patmos when he wrote The Revelation.

  • "Fire & Fury" or "Shock and Awe": it is always the start of a Quagmire
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 08/09/2017 at 3:56 pm

      There is a good summary of how we got here in a post at TPM (Josh Marshall - click on Juan's link!) "Why President Bush's North Korea Failure Is Important To Remember" - it was published this morning.

      I'm not optimistic about getting through this without catastrophe. Recall we are only six months plus into this presidency. There has been no pivot, there have been no "controls" put on this Caligula on Crack (Caligula with, oh joy, NUKES!) Even if Dems successfully impeach and remove him from office, that will still take time.

      And time is the greatest of destroyers.

      Now is the hour to buy some guns and as many cases of whiskey as you can afford to prep for the post-anthropocene world. At least we won't have electricity for the Twitter in Chief to harass us any longer (those of us who are left).

  • What's with the Victorious GOP's obsession with Civil War?
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 07/08/2017 at 2:45 pm

      Just a thought - the civil war in Rome between Caesar and Pompey broke out in part because a hard line faction in the senate wanted it because they hated Caesar so much. Most of the country and most of the senate did not want it, and in an early vote a vast majority demanded that both men disarm and negotiate a settlement. The Roman senate varied in number from time to time, but if memory serves, while it had between 600 and 900 members at this time only a tiny minority voted in favor of war. I am doing this from memory and I will be conservative and say that it was under 30 but may have been very likely under 20 in favor of war, hundreds against.

      A hard line faction wanted war and got it against the will of a vast majority of senators, and tore the Roman state apart, hastening the very thing they feared, Caesar's dictatorship. Obviously there are infinite variables here, but it is food for thought that what a very powerful minority wanted - i.e. war - they got.

      And as Zandru above notes, these people (i.e., our authoritarian right) have gotten almost everything they want and are still angry, still blaming people of liberal mind for all that ails them, real and imagined. They live on rage and if authoritarianism doesn't satisfy them under Caligula a L'Orange then they will whip out the stars and bars. However as the author notes, it's not certain what civil war would look like in a modern country of over 300 million people, especially since the Confederacy is no longer based on a region or economics but on psychological dynamics that have infiltrated the country like a cancer.

      For all that, I think we are a long way from it - although it would only take a handful of militias, I would guess, to get the ball rolling in terms of civil unrest. Time will tell.

    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 07/04/2017 at 8:00 am

      “The irresponsible, unconscionable rhetoric of today’s far right, if internalized by people in power, could indeed lead to this unthinkable outcome.”

      Precisely . . . precisely! And that is the danger and we can (as with global warming) reap its bitter fruits with greater celerity than one might suppose. I have friends who were Democrats and feminists 40 years ago. Today they are FOX news watchers who have drunk the kool-aid. Worse: I read a telling anecdote at Josh Marshall’s TPM last year. A reader related the story of their aunt and uncle – Republicans who were by no means Clinton haters, having an indifferent opinion of her, and certainly not Trump fans. Stewed and marinated in the paranoid universe of right wing media, over the course of the election they came to hate Clinton, blaming her for every conspiracy in the book.

      And you are right – it will not resemble a civil war, in part because of the temperament of those of us on the left, who tend to embrace dialogue and civility, not guns and violence (for the record, in addition to teaching I farm in a rural red area and do not own or feel the need to have a gun). Much more likely is a shabby, drab descent into dystopian dictatorship (ratified by the modern GOP via a new constitution) that refuses to address fundamental issues such as climate change, which, even if we do not, per Stephen Hawking, morph into Venus, will certainly precipitate within our own country environmental disaster, putting (ironically) the former Confederacy under water, creating an internal refugee crisis, and turning much of the arable land into waste causing enormous economic hardship.

      So a suggestion: since we are bound and determined to betray the values of the Declaration of Independence these days let’s change July 4th as celebrating the 10th day before Bastille Day.

      Allons enfants de la Patrie,
      Le jour de glorie est arrive!

  • Top 5 things Trump is doing to us Worse than insulting Mika
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 06/30/2017 at 12:19 pm

      Thank you Juan for the comparison of the repeal of the ACA to ISIS. It seems that our democracy has become willfully horrible about risk assessment. Himmelstein and Woolhandler, two very well respected public health policy analysts, had an excellent article in the Washington Post on January 23 (if memory serves), and by their estimate 43,956 (yes, it was that precise) Americans would die annually as a result of the ACA's repeal. That's more than one 9/11 a month for this country, and over a decade the rough total of American dead in WWII.

      I have noted this statistic and article before, but it needs to be said over and over. There is no middle ground any more and this is no longer about "honest disagreements" about policy - the GOP is making war against the citizens of this country - period.

      By the way, I have known more than my share of people, my parents included, who would have simply died or become enormous burdens to their families, both in terms of finance and health care, without Medicaid. Saddle the middle and lower classes with that and one wonders how there will be any spare income to fuel any economic growth (apart from the funeral industry).

  • Did Trump's Climate Disavowal just kill Capitalism?
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 06/03/2017 at 7:06 am

      Thanks for this insightful piece Juan. I’ve long said to friends and students that our climate scenario is like the medical profession: when my father was dying his nephrologist would prescribe one thing, the cardiologist another – the two, despite my pleas and questions, would not communicate with each other and were sometimes prescribing treatments mutually at odds. All of this is a long-winded way of noting that perhaps the climate people should start to talk to historians and communicate these larger, more dire outcomes to the public.

      It won’t be climate change that directly gets us, but its results. It will be a new pathogen that mutates in the right conditions that we can’t stop. Or it will be a small-scale nuclear war between India and Pakistan over water as snow continues to vanish in the Himalayas. Or, most likely, something utterly unforeseeable that has not yet been gamed out – my guess is it may be a drip drip drip of events that act as stressors, such as what happened at the end of the Bronze Age where drought contributed to collapse of Near Eastern and Aegean civilization. Local wars, political unrest, refugee crises – these are already with us and in all probability will only grow increasingly acute.

  • Top 5 Climate Catastrophes to which Trump just Doomed his own Supporters
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 06/03/2017 at 6:46 am

      Thanks and a correction - I meant to cite E. O. Wilson, not E. Owen (chalk it up to a senior moment and excess multi-tasking!)

    • I am no fan of David Brooks, but a part of the opening paragraph of his op-ed in the NYT this morning is apt:

      “This week, two of Donald Trump’s top advisers, H. R. McMaster and Gary Cohn, wrote the following passage in The Wall Street Journal: “The president embarked on his first foreign trip with a cleareyed outlook that the world is not a ‘global community’ but an arena where nations, nongovernmental actors and businesses engage and compete for advantage.”

      That sentence is the epitome of the Trump project. It asserts that selfishness is the sole driver of human affairs. It grows out of a worldview that life is a competitive struggle for gain. It implies that cooperative communities are hypocritical covers for the selfish jockeying underneath.”

      The great socio-biologist E. Owen notes a paradox: selfish individuals thrive but altruistic individuals fail, yet, conversely, altruistic societies thrive while selfish societies fail. We are increasingly putting our thumb on the scale in terms of just how selfish we are: deny birth-control to women today; tomorrow deny a social safety net to a still broader swathe of society; finally, deny the planet a livable sustainable model that will ensure human survival.

      Someone needs to tell Caligula a L’Orange that just because he can put his ass on a golden toilet seat doesn’t make him king.

      Here in the Northwest we clearly see the effects of climate change. Oregon is not as rainy as some assume (we generally get beautiful stretches of weather to break up the rain starting in February), but we have now had two epically wet winters - which is fine because we were in drought - but I do mean epically.

      Weather patterns, such as said winters, will become much more stubborn and persistent as the climate warms. Rain from late September until May? Yeah, that happens. But this past year in that period we had only about 10 days out of 210 with no rain in that period - get your head around that one. The drippy weather took its toll on fruit trees (which could not be sprayed due to the wet) and had many of us reaching for the bottle.

  • Germany: We Europeans must Depend on Selves, not Trump's USA
    • Yes - but recall Chomsky came out strongly against Trump and for Clinton. It appears even shrill MIT leftists know an existential threat when they see it. Et tu?

  • Top 5 Questions about Kushner's back channel to Moscow
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 05/27/2017 at 6:02 pm

      Would ending all that military confrontation include bombing Syria, calling for a massive military budget, and plenty of saber rattling against North Korea? Mmmmm - I can already smell the wafting of Caligula a l'Orange's big steamy pile of peace everywhere. Of course we all expected anti-militarism from him and should take him at his word - he's always been such an honest, gentle, and sensitive soul.

  • GOP not the party of 'Security' as Intel Allies Flee Trump
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 05/18/2017 at 8:02 am

      “The Republican Party has long claimed to be the party of security, in large part because they confuse belligerent rhetoric with security.”

      There are a lot of things the GOP claims to be the party of, of which it is nothing of the sort. They end up associated with policies or aspects of political identity with which they ought not to be associated. Let me count the ways:

      1. It’s the party of religious, esp. Judeo-Christian values. Um, no – those religions are deeply concerned with a highly developed sense of ethics, and their sacred texts teach that you take care of the least among us – the sick, the indigent, the stranger in your land.

      2. It’s the party that will best support our military and the troops. Uh, would that be the same one that put so many soldiers into unnecessary wars and consequently in harm’s way in Iraq?

      3. It’s the party that will best steward the economy since it consists of staid adults in the room. Again, no. Trickle down was bad under Reagan – hell, it’s bad under anybody – and to this day remains about the only thing in their economic ideological arsenal.

      4. It’s the party of fiscal conservatism. Again, BS: it’s the party of reverse redistribution, in which it’s alright for the middle class to be squeezed while billionaires get tax cuts.

      5. It’s the conservative party. Again, no way. It is a radical organization bent on social upheaval and misery. A true conservative wants to maintain social order – their radical cuts of social programs will upend and disrupt the lives of millions, esp. if they repeal the ACA. Nor are they in any way shape or form conservative when it comes to the environment. And what is remotely conservative about the stifling political Chaos now embroiling this country because the GOP thought it was alright to put a whole clown car full of ass clowns in the White House?

      In short, in the GOP cruelty, short-sighted policies, and mean-spiritedness are almost always mistaken for strength and principle, or used as a cover for making “tough” decisions (for which read kicking the poor or people of color off of any form of public assistance). But let’s not pretend that kicking people to the curb counts as anything other than virtual performance art for the party that foisted Caligula a L’Orange upon us. It is a perversion of language and thought that recalls Thucydides’ account of the revolution in Corcyra in 427/6 BC. Plus ca change!

    • Page: 3
  • Russians Troll Trump, release Photos of Meeting
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 05/13/2017 at 1:14 pm

      Bingo, but it is a dangerous game for all concerned. I recall the ominous words of Hannah Arendt which I think still remains true to this day: The only thing that stands between humanity and nuclear annihilation is the stability of the American Republic. So much for that.

  • Trumpcare is the best Advertisement for Nationalizing Insurance
    • The Dems are not perfect in many respects, but I doubt that those in need of cancer treatment, women in need of access to health care, migrant farm workers afraid to harvest my neighbor's strawberries, or (to anthropomorphize) polar bears, care too much for this sort of argument. Again, Dems are not perfect, but they are not a complete wrecking crew.

      Moreover they have a party structure in place. I would argue that it is time for people such as myself and Mr. Bodden to run for political office as Dems, true to conduct a semi-hostile take-over of the party, and rebuild it from within into a strong Left party as it should be and into an opposition party of the sort that we deserve.

    • Yes indeed. It occurred to me this morning that what has happened in some sectors is something roughly akin to a self-imposed totalitarianism among some media consumers in this country. What do I mean by that?

      I could tell you a million tales of people who only watch FOX, but to relate just a single anecdote: Recently my mother-in-law was back east visiting an old friend - someone who in the 70s helped her on the path to becoming a feminist and an advocate for women's rights. Now she is an exclusive consumer of FOX and a fan of the Orange Menace. My mother-in-law tells me that FOX is on 24/7 in the house.

      One of the key aspects of totalitarianism, if we follow Hannah Arendt's discussion, is the inescapability of the message until it literally infiltrates one's marrow (to paraphrase her admittedly much longer, much more complex discussion). This appears to have happened with FOX viewers. They will never break free of such messaging. I understand the FOX is not the exclusive problem - CNN and the networks, including NPR and PBS, have long since lost me.

      Yet given the popularity of FOX and its feeding of deeply self-indulgent anger, it has a particularly large target on its butt. By the way, I have been wary of thinking of us as in any way shape or form totalitarian, thinking that we are more akin now to an illiberal democracy or skirting authoritarianism.

      But some - too many - in our country have isolated themselves and partnered themselves with powers that do not support their interests. The irony is that these people would be the first to somehow imagine that their ultimate value is freedom. It is an irony that Tacitus would have adored.

    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 05/05/2017 at 8:29 am

      On 9/11 a terror attack killed 3000 Americans. The repeal of the ACA, if realized, is estimated to cost 43,000 lives a year. Fill in the blanks.

  • The simple Number that will Defeat Trump's attempt to Roll back Obama Energy Policies
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 03/28/2017 at 7:26 pm

      Keep up with these posts on energy Juan - they are important and much appreciated! However I am afraid that little or nothing will happen to change the mentality about how important this issue is until climate change starts to have a serious impact on food prices in the US. We have already seen climate change contribute to events in Syria, Egypt, and Tunisia (in part due to a heat wave's impact on Russian wheat a little over a decade ago). When people can no longer afford bread then the shit will really hit the fan. I am glad I live on a farm -I have enough land for animals to graze, I can store water, and my family will have something to fall back on if things get really bad.

      At some point a six pack of beer is going to end up out of reach for people. Then we will see riots. Pace your area of interest, I unfortunately doubt most Americans give a damn about Egyptians or the people of Bangladesh displaced by floods - which will be beyond horrific. But this is going to hit their pocket books at the grocery store one of these days. It will be chaos: Syria is just the canary in the coal mine (I know I know - it's not just climate change in Syria, but it is, as we would call it, a "stressor").

    • Hi John - I'm a Roman historian by profession. Other sources include Tacitus and Suetonius (among others). Yes, Nero's role in the fire is fraught, and one tell about the possible guilt of Christians is twofold: many were burned as punishment (how you execute arsonists in Rome), and Christianity at the time was big on the Apocalypse for which they were waiting . . . and waiting . . . and waiting . . . ok dammit, if it won't come maybe we can start it! There is a school of thought these days that sees the Christians as guilty. I'm still agnostic on this - Rome was a crowded city with LOTS of material for burning, and to make matters worse, had (to hear Tacitus tell it) lots of narrow winding streets.

      One tradition is that he sang from the Tower of Maecenas on the Esquiline Hill about the destruction of Troy as it burned. But he did provide for relief for Rome's citizens afterwards. For an outstanding discussion about this (and about Nero in general) check out Ted Champlin's biography simply entitled Nero. It is exemplary. And yes, the sources for Nero's reign are fraught.

  • It's Class Warfare, Stupid. The GOP crusade against Health Care
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 03/25/2017 at 4:51 pm

      For years we have heard from the GOP that we must protect the US from terrorists because they want to come into this country and kill people.

      On January 29 David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler, two well-respected health policy experts, reported that 43,000 American would likely die annually with repeal of the ACA.

      Republicans were trying to do this ON PURPOSE. So please do tell me, where is the real terrorist threat coming from that genuinely threatens this country?

      The GOP has a morality as barren as are the sands of Libya - they are men of stone. When policy is proposed as willfully cruel and savage as what they had proposed it is time to call it out.

    • I agree with you Don, I was not happy with much of what Obama did, but by the time '08 had come around I was so disillusioned that I figured if he just did one thing, to wit, health care, I would be satisfied, knowing full well that he would be no better in terms of foreign policy (most likely) than what we had been getting in this country, well, forever. Yes, the thousands who have died abroad from his policies and who will be impacted is very bad – nay savage, but after suffering through (in my lifetime) the lies of Johnson and Nixon, the folly of Ford, the cruelty and racism of Reagan and its continuation by Bush I (and his horrific bombing of Panama and the horrors of the Iraq War as it was conducted and carried out), after the turn right by Clinton and his overseeing the growth of the prison-industrial complex and his betrayal of decency in his implementation of welfare reform (talk about class warfare!), and then the sheer horror of the men of stone that was the Bush II administration, what is anyone’s realistic alternative?

      I was a realist, and the ACA has had a tangible impact on my family – my sister-in-law and her family (three children) who live on our farm depend on it. She is diabetic and has a daughter who suffers from severe asthma and depression, who would likely be dead without the ACA. My sister-in-law divorced after she found out her husband was molesting kids – she did the right thing by divorcing him because she wanted to protect her own kids, but she ended up having to sell her business and became impoverished in the process – I imagine this sort of thing happens over and over and over in this country, and is not an exceptional case. I hoped Obama could accomplish one big thing and he did, and he was relatively decent when it came to environmental issues too (though by no means perfect).

      I think the failure of this savage bill is a testament to the thousands who have taken to the streets, airports, and the town halls – my only fear is that this will ease, and I think we need to keep a lot of pressure on the oligarchs in congress, in the White House, and among our elite. I think this time it worked. Get in the street; be a body at a town hall; call, email, and write to your reps daily. Run for local office or help support progressives who will run. Do as Juan suggests and try to live as “green” as possible. We can do this because there are more of us than there are of them, and remember a majority did not vote for this in November.

      But in terms of demanding perfection, remember the brilliant Thomas Jefferson owned slaves, and Lincoln, an idiomatic genius if ever there was one in the presidency, presided over the bloodiest war in our nation’s history all the while presiding over continued genocide of the native population in the western United States. There is no perfection – all you can do is support those who can get something accomplished that will build on the common good, and call out policies that are venal, cruel, and not in keeping with the values that will make for an inclusive democratic society and livable planet.

      The Republicans are down at the moment. We need to be relentless in our kicking until they pack up their hedge funds and high-tail it to their offshore villas, and realize that their brainsick raptures of rolling everything from rights for women to Social Security have no place among us.

  • Trump covers Rockwell: Sometimes it Feels like, Obama's Watching You
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 03/05/2017 at 1:54 pm

      This is not too surprising. My suspicion is he’s starting a meme that his supporters will really go for and before you know it NPR will be debating the amount of prison time a former president should get for interfering in an election – and that former president will be Obama, not Trump.

      Absurdity is a feature, not a bug, of authoritarianism, and the more outrageous the better. And now this morning we have the White House staff calling for an investigation and Spicer blathering about how reports (!) of Obama’s interference in the election are “very troubling”. On its face this appears to be an attempt to distract from the steady drip of bad news for this administration, but I am fearful there is much more to it than just a false flag operation to relieve the Orange Caligula of his Russia troubles.

      I am guessing that he and the White House are sincere and that this is a genuine attempt to persecute those he perceives to be his political enemies under false “legal” pretenses, and has the added bonus of offering up the first African American president to the Orange Caligula’s white hooded supporters.

      We heard “lock her up” throughout the campaign and Caligula a l’Orange has been intent for years in getting revenge on Obama because Caligula a l’Orange has, well, ZERO sense of humor (beware people who don’t drink, laugh, or have animal companions, in one or any combination of those three) and Obama, say what you will, had a pretty good comedic sensibility (plus two dogs). But as the last month has shown, and as many of us already knew, when an authoritarian says he is going to do something, believe him (or her).

      And so it begins. And if he succeeds, who will want to oppose him in four years if for your efforts you do time? I could be very wrong, and I hope I am, but I think this is the start of something far more sinister and is intentionally obfuscating. He is not the only one to blame – we will never forget or forgive McConnell’s and Ryan’s and the Orange Caligula’s minions’, and the GOP’s support for him, nor should we. But at this late date, do we really think the GOP above investigating Obama and ignoring President Little Boots?

    • Thanks, but people really need to read Arendt's entire work in order to absorb the full scope of what is going on.

  • Is Trump right to doubt that Islam is a Religion?
    • Yes, that is correct - in part because ancient pagan religion was arguably more performative, based on action via ritual, as opposed to any higher ethic or morality, even (arguably) spiritual function. Religio was about "doing", pietas about "doing it right" or simply the fact that you did "do" the ritual (often until you got proper omens). It was often (by no means always) more about civic participation and identity, rather than spiritual fulfillment (well, except for mystery rights, like those to Bacchus or the Eleusinian Mysteries).

      Pietas was all about proper observance of religio, and also had implications of not just your demeanor towards religio, but towards your familia and the res publica.

      Correct me if I am wrong, but I can think of no war in antiquity based on any "religious" conflict. That may be a testament, if I am right, to your contention that they had no concept of "a religion".

      What they did have a concept of was "superstitio" - which is how they spoke of Christianity and Judaism in order to "delegitimize" or disparage them. Superstitio is the religious practices of others - what you do; religio, observing the proper forms and observances, is what I (as a proper Roman) do.

    • “I would argue that not only is Islam a religion, but for all practical purposes it invented the idea of multiple co-existing religions.”

      I need to seriously question this assertion Juan. Although I am well aware that Islam often both in practice and intent has this as an important element, I am not sure you can say they were the first.

      The Romans – occasional problems with Jews and Christians notwithstanding – had a deep tradition of accepting and tolerating the worship of numerous religions of various sorts. Traditional pagan practices existed along side those who worshipped Isis (Greco-Egyptian), or Ba’al (from Phoenicia, i.e., Lebanon-Syria), or the Great Mother (from Asia), or Mithras (from Iran), or the animistic gods of the Germans and Celts, to name a few.

      Judaism was tolerated as well, and pagan Greeks known as God-Fearers often patronized their synagogues (for which there is plentiful evidence from Asia Minor, among other regions). There was a large Jewish community in Rome itself, and still is, that dates from at least the late Republic (ca. 100 BCE, and maybe before) going forward, so a monotheistic system was co-existing with a polytheistic one in Rome’s very diverse Empire. Had Judaea not had the misfortune to be a particularly poorly governed province (sorry for stacking the adverbs!), it’s unlikely that there would have been rebellion in 66-70 CE, and subsequent rebellions after that (115-116, 132-35 CE).

      Even the Christians went largely ignored until major military and economic “stressors” hit the empire in the third century CE. The Neronian persecution of 64 CE was aberrational, and some now think possibly justified (!) if the Christians were genuinely responsible for the great fire that struck Rome that year. Persecution was largely a local thing, and sometimes emperors could and did put the kybosh on it (as Trajan did in the case of his governor of Bithynia-Pontus, Pliny the Younger). The persecutions of the emperors Decius (249-51 CE) and Diocletian (285-304 CE) came in the wake of extreme external and domestic threats, only to be followed by Constantine’s Edict of Milan in 313 CE in which Christianity was officially tolerated and which, significantly, did not outlaw paganism (but started to put the slow squeeze on it). On the whole, the Romans were exemplary in their inclusivity, and recognized full well that this was a strength. They may have sneered at the self-castrating priests of the Great Mother, they may have outlawed infant sacrifice to Ba’al and human sacrifice to Germanic and Celtic deities, but they were for all that pretty accepting of various religions, poly- and monotheistic alike.

  • Spurned Reporters should dump Trump Briefings, turn to Investigative Journalism
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 02/26/2017 at 10:07 pm

      Thank you for the correction Juan - I was not aware of that.

    • Thanks for this Steve. You are right - it was Clinton not Bush who screwed us with Wall Street deregulation with the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act in 1999; it repealed part of Glass-Steagall and allowed investment banks, commercial banks, and insurance companies, previously separate entities, to consolidate. And it didn't use the SEC to regulate large investment bank holding companies.

      The Dems need to do a couple of simple things to stop loosing elections. They need to focus on jobs (infrastructure, clean energy, and land restoration would be good for a start), regulation on Wall Street, and a push back against their embrace of militarism in an effort to keep up with the Jones's (i.e., the GOP's) truculent policies.

      I have been to three town halls this week, and the desire by Dems to rid themselves of Clintonism and get back to their basic roots of economic and social justice is palpable. Maybe they can do it, but if they can it will only be because of each one of us. The party needs to be moved to the left.

      My own anecdote? I've never considered myself political beyond the ordinary but am registering this week to run for school board and my wife as a county delegate. We are at a point where we need to stop blogging and commenting (metaphorically speaking), and act. It is too dangerous not to do so.

  • Top 5 Hypocrisies of Trump Friday
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 02/25/2017 at 9:45 pm

      Actually, a multipolar world will result in instability - you don't want that. For all the flaws of the current international system, it has created - despite impressions - an enormous amount of stability. For the world and its powers, 70-80 years of peace without a major war is unusual. Only the Romans - again, for all their imperfections - had a better record than our own world today: over 200 years (30 BC - AD 235), with just a few relatively minor instances of rebellion and civil violence.

      The Orange Caligula and his evil Praefect, Lucius Aelius Bannon, are either so goddamned dumb or evil (you choose) that they have no idea how perilous "blowing up" the "administrative state" along with our treaties and obligations is.

  • "Get out of my Country!" White Terrorist Shoots Asian-American Engineers in Wake of Trump Visa Ban
    • From Nixon's (white) souther strategy to Reagan starting his campaign in Philadelphia Mississippi, from Willie Horton in 1988 to the normalization of professional bigots like Bill O'Reilly, this is just the natural apex of a not so veiled racial animus that has been around forever and is now a part of the GOP platform.

      When the dust settles, if it's not radioactive, we will have a truth commission about those who attempted to destroy our democracy, and that will include outlawing the GOP as a white supremacist hate group. Plain and simple.

      There can be no rapprochement with his supporters, who are mostly haters and racist simpletons - let's ditch the poor white working class crap (Orange Caligula's voters had a median income of 72k). You stand with a Nazi, you are a Nazi.

      Sorry to jump to that term, but maybe if more of us professional historians called them as they see them and had been more vocal we would not have Muslims, women, LGBTQ people, Hispanics, immigrants, the press, legal weed, academics, climate scientists, health care, the NEA, EPA, NEH, OPB, and our republic not to mention survival of the species in the crosshairs at the moment.

      Now if you'll excuse me, I am off to my third town hall this week. (Soros pays me $1500 per event! Right.)

  • Buyers' Remorse: Americans think Trump is bad at almost Everything
  • Trump endangering rest of Us to hunt down the Law-Abiding Undocumented
  • Trump invents Sweden Terror Attack, Lies about Immigrant Crime
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 02/21/2017 at 11:48 am

      See E. O. Wilson, an excellent socio-biologist who notes a simple hard and fast biological rule about eusocial animal societies (whether termites, ants, humans, or a number of other species): Selfish individuals thrive and altruistic individuals fail, while selfish societies fail but altruistic ones thrive. It's pretty clear which course ours has now taken.

    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 02/19/2017 at 6:57 pm

      Which just happened to include billions of dollars worth of indirect subvention via media coverage, to the detriment of other candidates. Would we be happier with the term "gifted"?

    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 02/19/2017 at 11:58 am

      Didius was princeps from March 28-June 1, AD 193. I prefer the analogy of Julius Caesar, who managed to exploit a political system that had become so corrupt and had so violated its own constitutional norms that a simple push sent the whole edifice careening ultimately into the hands of autocracy. Incidentally, Caesar was known for nothing if not his transgression of political norms.

  • Are Republicans Shielding Trump from Special Prosecutor and Russia Inquiry?
  • Top 8 Signs someone is a White Terrorist, e.g. plotting to Blow up Mosque
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 02/18/2017 at 2:27 pm

      9. If you are bestowed with the privilege of openly carrying firearms at political events or even drawing a bead on federal agents when they investigate your illegal appropriation of publicly owned land with no action being taken against you. (But if a person of color, well, even if we just suspect you're carrying, you are toast!)

  • Trump plots to keep Palestinians Stateless forever
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 02/16/2017 at 2:31 pm

      Hello Bruno - I can at least speak a bit re: the Roman (and Greek) side of the fate of the Jewish people.

      The Jews rebelled in 66-70 AD - that's when the Temple on Temple Mount was destroyed. Vespasian, who conquered the city the same year he became emperor, instituted the fiscus Judaicus or Jewish Fund - the traditional tithe that Jews gave to the Temple now went directly into the emperor's purse. Today the Temple remains are the Wailing Wall - Joesphus is our main source for the rebellion, and it was very very bad - reading about the siege of Jerusalem is wrenching to say the least. The Jews rebelled yet again in 115-116 AD under Trajan, this time much more widely - the rebellion spread throughout Egypt into Cyrene in modern Libya, and was brutally suppressed. The big Kahuna though - despite the importance of the 66-70 rebellion (which Elaine Pagels argues heavily influenced the Gospel of Mark, the earliest gospel), was the Bar-Kokhba rebellion from 132-36 AD. It was under Hadrian, and he was old and grumpy. Enough was enough. He razed Jerusalem, renamed it Aelia Capitolina, and forbad Jews to enter the city. Many were carted off to Rome under Hadrian and Trajan to entertain Romans in the gladiatorial arenas. Our main and most reliable source for these rebellions is Cassius Dio, a Roman senator who wrote in Greek in the mid 3rd century AD.

      In the course of antiquity there was a large Jewish diaspora though - Rome has the Ghetto (where we get the name from) and as far as I know is the oldest continual Jewish community at least in Europe (and Roman Jewish cuisine is fabulous!). The diaspora is one of the reasons for the development and growth of synagogues, and they are everywhere. From Rome and Ostia, to Sardis in Asia Minor (which has an absolutely beautiful Roman era synagogue), to Dura Europas on the Euphrates in the Syrian desert (completely reconstructed in the National Museum in Damascus) which has something no synagogue should have, beautiful frescoed paintings of stories from the Old Testament. Alexandria appears to have had the largest diaspora community though.

      It was the presence of Jewish communities throughout the Greek and Roman world - in Corinth, Ephesus, Pergamum, Sardis, Athens, Rome - that help to spread Christianity as well (and resulted in Christianity being largely an urban phenomenon in its early formative years). Greeks in particular were interested in the highly ethical standards and codes of conduct of the Jewish people, and even patronized synagogues and became known as God-Fearers.

      Some years ago Prof. Cole had a good post about the historical claims to modern Israel and who, if we are going by length of occupation, who had the greatest claim on the land. It included, if memory serves, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans, but not in that order.

  • All of Putin's / Trump's Men
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 02/16/2017 at 12:10 am

      Yeah, I think you are probably right . . .

    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 02/15/2017 at 8:24 pm

      You really think this conspiracy? Good, independent, intelligent journalist are doing outstanding work on this - check out Josh Marshall on the link on the right. He has been doing good work on this, has a good track record in terms of being right, and has excellent credentials. Look at what he has to say on this please.

    • It was 99 degrees in Oklahoma the day before yesterday and we have madmen in the White House at a time of existential crisis. So to answer your question in brief: No. Next question.

  • Psychologists: Trump's Rage makes him incapable of Serving safely as President
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 02/15/2017 at 1:45 pm

      Okay, this should just be filed under the bleeding obvious. Anyone who incites to violence, lies pathologically, is an open racist and gleeful hater, and gropes and abuses women indiscriminately should be recognized, on a purely human level, as unhinged.

      Then there are the weird speech patterns, the twitter rages, the complete lack of self-awareness. That a majority of the electorate does not even have the emotional intelligence to assess a fellow human as a clear and present menace to themselves and their future is breath-taking.

      It takes no psychologist to tell anyone with half a brain that the president is wackadoo; it merely requires honest human assessment, for which our brains should have hard-wired us, but apparently the circuits of many do not connect.

  • Questions about Judgment: Trump appointed Flynn in the First Place
    • Ummm. It's pretty clear at this late date that the Republicans would be happy to install Putin as president provided he cut social programs, gave them tax cuts, and killed off a few media types who dared, umm, commit acts of journalism.

      Red scare? Maybe. I don't want to be enemies with Russia.

      But I don't want to be a sucker either. With the Orange Menace or Putin in charge, you can't avoid it (i.e., suckerdome!).

    • I'm just a little ol' Classics/ancient historian prof at a small college, but I'll stick my neck out with a prediction. I don't see how this presidency survives beyond a few months if it does not find its sea-legs. If we can dodge a bullet and end up with the despicable Pence, alright (okay, not really alright).

      But we are running out the clock: will this presidency end before a war/Reichstag Fire? If it does we might yet dodge a bullet. If not, we are done - but I think, too, that such "success" on the part of the GOP will also, ultimately, be its end - at least in the long term. Short term? Lots of suffering. Lots.

  • After Miller's Mega-Lies, time to rev back up the Reality Based Community
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 02/14/2017 at 8:30 pm

      We need to tease out the difference between young people - esp. men - who can be callow and think they know it all (hey, I was one once!), and people who have NO humility. It's not Miller's youth for me, it is his utter lack of humility, of acknowledging the possibility that he does not know everything, and may be wrong. That has happened to all of us (i.e. being wrong) at one time or another.

      The distasteful thing about most of the Orange Menace's administration - the OM itself, Bannon, Conway, Spicer, Miller, etc. - have never (metaphorically and literally speaking) been beaten up over their smug, arrogant behaviors. Beware the person who knows no humility.

      I don't want to put words into Prof. Cole's post that he didn't mean, but many of us are disgusted at the utter lack of humility on the part of this administration - as was, btw, the case with W.'s as well. No humility - none.

    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 02/13/2017 at 10:06 pm

      That was not an Athenian general. That was the opinion of the Athenian polis writ large. The Melian dialogue, which you cite, is not the only instructive piece for us in Thucydides' magisterial work. Look also at the debate between Kleon and Diodotus in book three over the fate of the Mytilenians - to kill them all or not to kill them all?

      Alas, the last three millennia have seen democracies make willfully horrible decisions. I am less than pleased to see us upholding the tradition, despite the lights of modern science and the cultivation of talented dedicated people on a large scale. After a while Shit, just Shit!

    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 02/13/2017 at 1:22 pm

      I have been wondering for how long this country can be run on egregious lies and still remain governable without the wheels coming completely off. We may soon see. Honestly, you can’t run on the dishonest claim that trickle-down economics works in conjunction with massive deregulation – do people not remember ’08?

      Nor can you run on the lie that global warming is a hoax – we will be crushed by other countries when it comes to green energy. Nor can you run the country on the lie of vouchers for medical care or social security; younger voters will find this out when – even more than now – they can no longer afford a house or car or simple weekend away because of the economic burden of taking care of elderly parents. Nor can you run the country on the lie of racism and terror and without immigration, unless you want to limit the talent pool in just about every profession. Nor can you falsely govern it based on the disrespect of science and the university system unless you just don’t give a damn about research in everything from cancer to the computer chip – and again, our competitiveness in all of the potential associated fields. Nor can you run it on the lie that women are inferior to men – a criminal waste of half the talent of a given country.

      Nor can you run it on the lie of fear. There comes a point at which we will end up seriously backward, seriously behind our rivals. The only thing that will be left is the shreds and patches of a country, in which service workers peep about the huge legs of billionaires to find themselves dishonorable graves. But this has been a long time coming – lies or political dynamics that lead us into unnecessary wars, legislative capture by Wall Street, a supine media, individuals befuddled by stupid cultural issues to the point where they vote against their own interest, we know all this. The question is at what point will this no longer hold? Will there be a breaking point?

  • Could NSA Flynn face Criminal Charges over Russia Ties?
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 02/11/2017 at 7:33 pm

      I am haunted by a comment in Hannah Arendt these days, one with which I tend to agree:

      “‘When everyone is dead the Great Game is finished. Not before.’ And the only reason his prophecy did not come true was the constitutional restraint of the nation-state, while today our only hope that it will not come true in the future is based on the constitutional restraints of the American republic plus the technological restraints of the nuclear age.”

      Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism

      Let's absorb that, which I happen to think is true: the American republic was one of the few restraints that helped to ensure our species survival - for all its hideous imperfections.

    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 02/11/2017 at 7:26 pm

      No. Next question.

  • Yemen withdraws blanket approval for US action after Trump's botched Raid
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 02/08/2017 at 2:56 pm

      Because both sides are alike, which is why Obama's sec. of state was also an oil man; which is why his sec. of education. was a know-nothing billionaire; which is why he also packed the White House stafff and national security council with white racist Neo-nazis with visions of apocalypse. Obama was an equal threat to the environment, economy, and world order, as well as to women, and people of color. Because both sides are the same.

      Hey come on and HOW 'BOUT IT MR. GRAY!

      No, Obama wasn't perfect, but your implied false equivalency is as intellectually lazy as the Right's supine acceptance of climate change as a hoax!

      Goddamit man, why not excoriate Lincoln as someone who plunged the country into civil war and presided over genocide in the west while you are at it (because he did!) You don't want to be compromised by power? Then don't hold it.

      At least Obama wasn't so stupid as to implement a Muslim ban against Yemen. Pah-leeeez!

  • Trump's Wrong on non-Coverage; But, Top 6 things actually Wrong with Terrorism Reporting
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 02/08/2017 at 11:36 am

      That is why it is important to support sites like this one, or, say, Josh Marshall at TPM, or Democracy Now with Amy Goodman. It's more important now than ever to support independent media, much of which relies on those of us who demand genuine reporting, not tin foil conspiracy theories or MSM pandering. The best thing you can do is give to support sites such as this one - because in the end, who ya gonna believe re: mideast policy, Sean Hannity or Wolf Blitzer . . . or Juan Cole? My money is on the professor who's intimate with the language, culture, and politics of that region!

      As for the MSM, I still think there are a few good people out there, but I too am becoming increasingly disillusioned. E.g. I generally like Chris Hayes on MSNBC, esp. his focus on climate change, a big bee in this farmer's bonnet. But this week he is doing a town hall in Chicago to report on the violence there - yeah, it's bad, but 18 or so other cities in this nation are statistically worse, and he appears to me to be playing into the narrative of the Orange Menace. It's disappointing.

  • Why Trump’s Immigration Order is a Tragedy for Everyone, Except Trump
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 02/06/2017 at 8:29 am

      A good article professor Elias, but I disagree in part. We don't need "evidence" that this strongman is implementing policies that could provoke a terrorist attack on this country - it's just in the DNA of an autocrat to do this in order to tighten the chains of tyranny.

      We keep speaking about this president as though at least a few final norms apply. They don't. One Reichstag Fire, one ginned up war, may well silence the protestors or be used to crush opposition, and then the game will be up. And then say hello to president Donald Trump Jr., his handpicked successor.

      One of my objections to voting for this man was that he could not be trusted to give up power in four years or eight. I stand by that for now.

  • SNL: Bannon puts Trump up to Disastrous Calls to World Leaders
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 02/07/2017 at 8:41 am

      In the wake of the administrations and POTUS's response to SNL's parody of Sean Spicer ("Played by a woman! Weak!"), there is a very simple way to put an end to the Trump presidency. SNL needs to get rid of Alec Baldwin and replace him with Rosie O'Donnell. Once she starts to play the Orange Menace - she is one of his biggest Nemeses after all - his mental breakdown will become complete.

      POTUS parodied by Rosie. SAD!

  • In Shocker, Federal Judge in Seattle Halts Trump Muslim Ban
    • Thank you Juan for this post. The Orange Menace’s EO was scandalous on many levels. Why? Let me share a personal anecdote, which I am sure is repeated throughout this country on a daily basis.

      While in the Classics department at the University of Maryland (’96-’12), the best student I ever had was a girl from Iran. She was a devout Muslim. She wore modest clothes – not a birka, but long sleeves and a head scarf. She was quiet, but she was hard working. She was a pre-med student. But her family felt that, living in the west, she should know our traditions and our history. She was phenomenal – she kicked butt in Latin and Greek, quietly working, quiet in class, never tooting her own horn, virtually reclusive. But I was her advisor and got to know her well.

      She was the best student I ever had as an undergraduate in terms of her ability of Latin and Greek.

      She was Iranian and Muslim.

      She was a dual major in Classics (but really Latin and Greek, two very difficult languages) and pre-Med.

      She wanted to be a doctor and stay in this country – she was the best of the best.

      And when she graduated from the University of Maryland . . .

      She was 17 . . .

      We need people like her in this country, not willful ignoramuses like the Orange Menace or his spawn. This has been heart-breaking, but also searing and galvanizing, and we will fight because we are right about the value of immigration into this country and about the inherent dignity of the individual.

  • Trumpworld Fake News: Iran attacks US Navy, Iraqis Massacre Bowling Green
    • I normally enjoy your comments but I am a bit taken aback by your comparison of the Orange Menace to Don Corleone. Brando's (and De Niro's) depiction of the Don was one of a cool, restrained, thoughtful, methodical, calculating individual - above all cool; and the Don, say what you will, was a good family man who would frown on the Orange Menace's libertinism. The only time The Don looses it is when he godson cries about not getting a part in a Hollywood movie.

      Please show a little respect for a great performance of a great movie. If you want cinematic analogies for the Orange Menace there are many from which to choose - Jabba the Hut (gross), Joe Pesci in Goodfellas (unhinged, violent psychopathic nut), or Fred Flintstone (caveman so temperamentally identical) would be good places to start.

    • If Fred Douglass were alive today he'd support All Lives Matter and denounced Black Lives Matter, the Black Panthers, Martin Luther King (commie-pinko), Rosa Parks, and Harriet Tubman. I know because Kelly-Anne Con-away (not a typo!) said it on teevee. Either that or the Dead-Eyed Granny Starver from the Koch Brother's subsidiary, once known as Wisconsin, would rework MLK's message of economic justice and equality to explain how if he were alive today he'd be a Republican.

  • Trump Can't Make America Great Again without Immigrants
  • German Ambassador 1933: "Hostility to Jews Aimed Mainly at 'Immigrants'"
    • Thanks Super390. Yes, I am deeply afraid of all of this - esp. the Constitutional Convention. I'm fearful of civil war in my lifetime - I don't see the west coast signing on - they will want to go their own way, but I see no way how they do it.

      Don't get me wrong - the west coast is a great economic power house; but they will be occupied by the feds or face nuclear blackmail from, well, everyone. We don't need an independent nuclear armed Cascadia, but I don't see how we live together any longer.

      That's the thinking in my rural part of the woods anyway. Thank gods I have my own water, food, and yes, booze and weed - I just hope it's all not glowing soon!

    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 01/30/2017 at 7:52 pm

      Note to producers of The Walking Dead: Please don't bother with a prequel. The Orange Menace already has one under production. It's called His Administration.

    • A wonderful historical perspective Juan. Wreckless and irresponsible actions that have been taken by this administration, and I do not understand the silence of the GOP leadership. Are they not American too? Is this not their country too? Do they not have family, friends, relatives, whose lives are now in the crosshairs of a president who, on any human level, is visibly psychologically troubled? Do tax cuts and the gutting of the social safety net in the pursuit of some Randian dystopia mean more to them than the collective future of this country and perhaps humanity? Or has power so corrupted their spirit that they are willing to risk the very survival of the planet and species (and no, if you have remotely been paying attention to this man you will understand that this is not hyperbole)?

      If we survive this we must remember who stood shoulder to shoulder with a racist, a hate-monger, a bigot, a liar, a self-absorbed sociopath with no regard for truth, for justice, for decency, for any of the values that underpin the deep structures of our democracy. And theirs, as a historian I assure you, will be a legacy of shame; there will be no damnatio memoriae, but we will remember their names, their cravenness, their bowing before this uniquely destructive force that has, with their subvention, injected itself into our politics.

      We, as Americans, need to be ready to pour campaign contributions into anyone who will oppose a Republican seat – if the country survives until another round of elections. But at this late date, that really matters little. Unless Republicans and the leadership of their party make clear to their president that it is time to take his band of white supremacists back to the shadows from which they came, and impeach him or force his resignation. Of course, their party has had a mighty hand in his creation haven’t they? Ever since Nixon’s Southern Strategy, ever since Reagan’s starting his campaign in Philadelphia Mississippi, ever since the first Bush seized power with the help of Willie Horton.

      What will it take for their party to return to the roots of its commitment to racial justice, for which our 16th president, and subsequently the great Martin Luther King, gave their lives? What will it take to return to its commitment to national security, and the nexus of strategic economic and military alliances that have made us a strong and stable democracy? I find it unfathomable that they have not opposed this existential threat of Trump-Bannonism.

      Of course, at base, I know why: cupido dominandi cunctis affectatibus flagrantior est, says Tacitus. “Lust for power is the more inflaming than all other desires”. But like any flame, it can burn.

  • The Sadism of Racist Exclusion: Courts Temporarily Block Trump
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 01/29/2017 at 9:09 am

      The best thing we can all do right now is what Juan said, contribute what you can to the ACLU and other political organizations that can fight against this.

      We are all Muslims now.

  • Torture works . . . to produce Fake News (and that's how we Got into Iraq)
    • Thanks for the link to Moran, Joe. My father knew intelligence gatherers as an infantryman in WWII in the Philippines. He abhorred what Bush did because he recalled men who would interrogate individual Japanese soldiers over a "friendly" bottle of whiskey and get all the information they needed that way. No muss, no fuss, no horror, just a nice chat between fellow soldiers. But the Orange Menace is a sadist who would never stand for that - he is all about domination and for him life is zero sum. He's disgusting, despicable, and diabolical, as are those around him.

      Perhaps had Obama not "moved on" and put Bush, Cheney, Yoo, etc. in the docket, the Orangutan Who Can Punch Buttons would think twice about torture (if "think" belongs in the same sentence with the Orange Menace).

  • Trump's Visa Ban is about anti-Muslim Bigotry, not Security
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 01/25/2017 at 11:55 pm

      Wild card: mass shooting or terrorist attack. Either - both bound to happen under the tenure of The Orangutan Who Can Punch Buttons (afterwards OWCPB) - will be used as an opportunity for the OWCPB to declare martial law and crack down on, well, everything. Muslims included, but they'll have company with anyone who looks slightly unAmerican (i.e., people of color).

      Things have already gotten quite ugly. They are only going to get much much worse.

  • All the terrible things Trump plans to do to Women (besides that one)
    • "Trump is so arrogant that he will dismiss huge protest against him."

      Hello Marianna - I think that if you look at the response of the administration to the crowd estimates of the March v. the Inauguration the day before, that it's hard not to conclude that the Orange Menace took yesterday's protests pretty personally. The stats on DC Metro ridership show a very stark contrast that prompted Sean Spicer to call an impromptu presser, complete with blown up images from the inauguration that I suspect were from the one in 09. Spicer's language was that of his thuggish boss, since he asserted basically that the inauguration the day before had the largest on the ground and global audience in the history of the universe. In short, the protestors elicited a bald face lie from the administration, the first of an endless flood of them.

      Take heart - the Orange Menace is so petty and distracted by any show of disapproval that who knows, maybe protests will once again have some use, if only to piss off the OM.

  • Translating Trump's inaugural Speech from the original German
    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 01/21/2017 at 9:55 pm

      Hi Juan and just a quick thought. Maybe we should ditch some of the emphasis on the German analogy and start to put an emphasis on Dixie.

      Honestly, I can't think of a reaction to the installation of a president like this since 1861. Millions of American men and women are in the streets today, and many millions world wide in solidarity. Our Cold Civil War continues to heat up.

    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 01/21/2017 at 8:27 pm

      Not buying what you are selling: power invariably is about the politically possible and it makes people make terrible compromises and choices that are tough to push back against. Lincoln presided over genocide of native Americans in the west and the bloodiest war in American history. He did not need to do either: He could have said to the South, fine, leave. And he could have said to his fellow citizens, enough with killing natives in the west. He did neither.

      Yes, compromises are horrible, but it seems that anyone in power is forced to make them. One must weigh the catastrophic against the merely dreadful, the stable but incompetent against the unpredictable and insane. On what planet is President Caligula with the nuclear codes better than . . . well, just about anyone?

    • "The idea of abandoning the Democratic Party and replacing it with a party that will represent the people is well worth considering".

      No. If you have an opposition organization in place why work from the ground up? Take it over, purge it of the Clinton and other BS centrist elements, and start getting to work.

      "as recent history has shown protests have very limited effect when it comes to promoting change."

      Damn straight. Screw the street theater. Ladies of the world, unite and conduct a general strike. Imagine if enough women decided simply to cease to show up for work. They have a lot of power and need to use it. Hey, it worked in Iceland!

    • GrumpyWithoutCoffee 01/21/2017 at 10:58 am

      Thank you Juan – this is invaluable, as so often with your posts.

      But Dagnabit, I am tired, TIRED of hearing about Trump. Trump this, Trump that.

      Let’s hear about his enablers on the Right – i.e. the GOP and FOX “News” – and creatures like Ryan, Pence, Giulliani, Christi, McConnell, and the horror show that is that party.

      Let us count the ways that they and Trump will use and abuse one another to work together – TOGETHER – to destroy the environment, the rights of women, health care, childhood nutrition, and very likely the economy as they move to deregulate, well, everything.

      I am absolutely serious that this party – as Chomsky recently pointed out – stands for the destruction of the species. It must be outlawed as a white supremest organization, for the well-being of our country and our species.

      And then we need a hostile left-wing takeover of the centrist republicans in the Democratic Party, and put an end to its nonsensical and malicious persecution of useless adventures abroad, cozying up to Wall Street and big donors, and ensure that our species can move forward to what might finally be called, without irony, civilization.

      But Trump: He rests at the feet of the GOP and is a culmination of their long term and long standing program to ruin the country.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Time to take the gloves off.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      "no more divisive identity politics"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

      Che disastro!

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

      “These policies are unconstitutional”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      And as always . . .


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Dear Landgraff and McCool:

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Top Six US Problems worse than Terrorism
    • 1.5 I need to insert this Juan. Childhood hunger in this country is an incalculable catastrophe resulting in, for all intents and purposes, lost or ruined lives. I've written this here before but it bears repeating: Children who are hungry and malnourished generally do not develop into normal healthy adults. Many suffer from damaged immune systems, behavioral and mental problems, and lower intelligence. Imagine how lousy you feel if you are a few hours late for your lunch. Well, multiply that by a half-day, or day or two, then imagine that is being imposed on a developing human being. This is how our children, and many children of the world, suffer. Damaged immune systems in turn mean adult illnesses down the road, meaning stress on an already over-burdened health care system as well as lost productivity and wages from work. Behavioral problems can often be aggressive, resulting in violence and ultimately prison.

      In sum: lost productivity over a lifetime, health problems, prison, means expensive outlays by our health care providers, our schools (where many of the behavioral problems play themselves out), our criminal justice system, and at the same time a loss in revenue as we bandage these problems rather than addressing their root causes. We end up paying out in taxes vast amounts when if we invested a little in, say, free access to food for the hungry kids in our country; this, in turn, would result in healthier kids and adults who are productive and contribute to revenue rather than requiring further expenditure. And when you have fifteen to twenty percent of our children hungry at any one time, that multiplies into a huge drag on our society.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Hello Juan –

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

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

      As always, pars Republicana delenda est!

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

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

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

      And as always, pars republicana delenda est!

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

      Dear Mr. Yeah, Right:

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

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

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

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

      And as always, pars republican delenda est!

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

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

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

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

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

      And as always, pars republicana delenda est!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      But . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      And as always, pars Republicana delenda est!

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