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Blowing Out the Candles in Iraq

By Robert C. Koehler I read the news – invasion of Iraq! twentieth anniversary! – and struggle to transcend the abstraction of my remorse. A million killed? Half a million? The mortality stats vary depending on the source’s politics. But beyond the numbers looms an indifference that defines what is called “news.” “Today, 20 years […] more

Staying Woke: Revering Life

By Robert C. Koehler This is from one of the people I’m least likely to bother quoting: “We need a national divorce. . . From the sick and disgusting woke culture issues shoved down our throats to the Democrats’ traitorous America Last policies, we are done.” The words are those of our fellow American, Marjorie […] more

AI Robots Invade the Classroom — So What?

By Robert C. Koehler The future tapped me quietly on the shoulder the other day and suggested that I take a moment to learn about the writing bots. They’re coming! Excuse me, they’re here. And they struck me as alien invaders, this recent manifestation of artificial intelligence on the Internet, which college students, high school […] more

A Looming Book of Soul Fragments

By Robert C. Koehler Confession: I have a few books out there that no one knows about because I haven’t written them . . . well, finished them. I’ve talked in previous columns about “wrestling with infinity” — the match I always lose — by which I mean, picking a subject too large to reduce […] more

Stirring Humor into ‘Old Age’

By Robert C. Koehler No doubt everyone grows old in their own way. But once you actually hit it — that three letter word, “old” — watch out: “An aged man is but a paltry thing,/A tattered coat upon a stick . . .” So wrote William Butler Yeats, back in the last century, conjuring […] more

Making Our Schools Safe for Propaganda

By Robert C. Koehler Curse that First Amendment! What were the Founding Fathers thinking? As Ron DeSantis has declared and legislated, the safety of Florida — and, yeah, the safety of the nation — isn’t a matter of gun control (or police control) but speech control, especially in public-school classrooms and libraries, where the innocent […] more

Uh Oh, Here Comes the Occupying Army

By Robert C. Koehler America, America . . . God kicks thee in the head. The twisted irony here — the irony of the brutal murder of Tyre Nichols in Memphis, Tennessee last month — is that his killers were the ones hired and trained to keep the city safe. Instead, they created half an […] more

Disarming, and Empowering, Lost Souls

By Robert C. Koehler I had a passing moment of wonder the other day – as I read about the latest . . . you know, mass shootings. Troubled souls with guns. Big problem. My thought was simply this: What if . . .? And then I lapsed into uncertainty. What if . . . […] more

Are We on the Verge of Civil War II?

By Robert C. Koehler “Folks keep talking about another civil war. One side has about 8 trillion bullets, while the other side doesn’t know which bathroom to use.” The words — actually a 2019 Facebook post — are those of then-Iowa Republican congressman Steve King, loosing a puerile smirk as he stirred the pot of […] more

How Safe Can We Really Be?

By Robert C. Koehler It was the guacamole’s fault! That’s the guy’s defense, anyway — that plus his right to carry four handguns, an AR-15 and a 12-guage shotgun into a supermarket in Atlanta. Oh yeah, and he was wearing body armor. This was in March 2021, barely a week after an actual mass shooting […] more

Before the Bombs Come the Platitudes

By Robert C. Koehler What is democracy but platitudes and dog whistles? The national direction is quietly predetermined — it’s not up for debate. The president’s role is to sell it to the public; you might say he’s the public-relations director in chief: “. . . my Administration will seize this decisive decade to advance […] more

I’m Dreaming of a Warm Christmas

By Robert C. Koehler Two a.m. Boink! My eyes pop open. It’s Christmas Eve, but it’s not that I just heard Santa wandering through the house. It’s far more banal: gotta use the bathroom. I crawl out of bed, step bare-assed into . . . oh my God . . . a learning experience. Another […] more

Praying We Learn from Each Other

By Robert C. Koehler “How exactly is ‘diversity’ our ‘strength’?” Oh, the smug ignorance of Tucker Carlson! Sometimes, in his certainty of rectitude, he asks questions that actually matter — or would matter if they were asked with any sort of honesty. The above quote, blathered on his news show, recently started flickering again in […] more

Beyond Razor Wire: A Connected Planet

By Robert C. Koehler “Ducey insists Arizona holds sole or shared jurisdiction over the 60-foot strip the containers rest on and has a constitutional right to protect residents from ‘imminent danger of criminal and humanitarian crises.’” OK, he’s a politician — Doug Ducey, the exiting governor of Arizona, who recently began erecting “hundreds of double-stacked […] more

Dancing on the Edge of Hell

By Robert C. Koehler Two dogs walking. One of them says to the other: “I bark and I bark, but I never feel like I effect real change.” This is the caption of a New Yorker cartoon by Christopher Weyant from several years ago. It keeps popping up in my head — I mean, every […] more

The Racists Return to Kindergarten

By Robert C. Koehler Damn those Marxists! You know their game, right? They want to spew truth and real history at our kids. No doubt they’re also in favor of dropping charges against Julian Assange, who (as all real Americans know) deserves 175 years in prison for exposing — with the help of the New […] more

Ubuntu or Collective Suicide

By Robert C. Koehler I stroke the killer’s hatred and certainty, knowing the answer we all ache for — why? — will not be forthcoming. Yes, there was another mass shooting the other day, at Club Q in Colorado Springs. A young man clothed in body armor entered the nightclub carrying an assault rifle and […] more

Shatter Alley

By Robert C. Koehler Can a poem transcend fury — fury combined with helplessness? Can individual property owners join NATO? Having no other options than simply to continue seething, let me tear myself psychologically open for a moment here and see what happens. Yeah, this is personal. And yeah, I live in Chicago — part […] more

Looking for Victory Beyond the Election

By Robert C. Koehler After the election comes . . . the coverage, which always, at least in the mainstream media, seems to reduce everything to winning and losing, to strategy and tactics, rather than to the deep issues shaping the future. The mainstream-created context of this year’s midterms amounted to: Will there be a […] more

The Drum and the Cardinal

By Robert C. Koehler My friends Scott and Betsey gave me a drum a few weeks ago. I played it as I sat with them . . . and I certainly mean the word “play” as childishly as you can imagine. I’m no more a musician than I am a nuclear physicist, but I played […] more

Loving Nature or Profiting from It: Take Your Pick

By Robert C. Koehler It’s fascinating how “interests” interfere with survival. We prepare for — and, of course, wage — war with an overwhelming percentage of our resources (to the benefit of the profiteers), but we plead poverty when it comes to helping people or, you know, saving the planet. Humanity! The species of global […] more

Fifteen Seconds Till Armageddom

By Robert C. Koehler “When militarism is addressed as a psychosocial disease, the absurd irrationality of its symptoms is clearly exposed.” These words are from a 1992 essay by N. Arther Coulter published in a journal called Medicine and War. Who would have guessed? They’re as relevant now as they were three decades ago. God […] more

Death by Nationalism?

By Robert C. Koehler The game may be almost over. Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J.S. Davies put it this way: “The irresolvable dilemma facing Western leaders is that this is a no-win situation. How can they militarily defeat Russia, when it possesses 6,000 nuclear warheads and its military doctrine explicitly states that it will use […] more

Transcending the Morality Police

By Robert C. Koehler I’ve been haunted by a phrase for almost a month now: “morality police.” The news has been global. A 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, was arrested as she was leaving a subway station in Tehran on September 13 by an Iranian police unit known as the Islamic guidance patrol, a.k.a., the morality […] more

Nukes, War and Moral Sanity

By Robert C. Koehler What does surrender look like in the world of geopolitics? To my mind, this gets pretty close: “President Biden’s national security adviser said on Sunday that the United States had warned Russia that there would be ‘catastrophic consequences’ for the country if Moscow used nuclear weapons in its increasing desperation to […] more