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Taking War Personally

By Robert C. Koehler “For Washington, it seems that whatever the problem is, the answer is bombing.” So wrote Stephen Zunes, in the wake of Joe Biden’s first act of murder as president . . . excuse me, his first act of defensive military action: bombing a border post in Syria last week, killing 22 […] more

Windmills: The New Scapegoat

By Robert C. Koehler The cornerstone of every social structure is its belief system, and those who control and benefit the most from the system have one primary job: Keep its myths and scapegoats viable. That explains the emergence, in recent weeks, among right-wing politicians and media hacks, of a truly bizarre and unexpected scapegoat: […] more

Vulnerability in the Moment

By Robert C. Koehler Pardon me while I break the fourth wall. I’m in the human stew right now, you might say: drowning in politics, technology, the weather and my own crazy ego. I’m trying to write a column. What makes this one different . . .well, I’ve been forced today to set aside my […] more

Stealing the Vote, Building a Wall

By Robert C. Koehler Imagine a “USA!” that has truly outgrown – transcended – racism. Would it still have a Republican Party? One recent and shocking – but hardly surprising – piece of news is the huge scramble in legislatures, especially the Republican-controlled ones, all across the country to draft and pass legislation restricting the […] more

National vs. Human Security

By Robert C. Koehler “It is long past time for . . . a sea change in the United States’ approach to national and human security . . .” Yes, yes, yes. These words cut to the soul. Can we create a grown-up America? This is how it begins. The quote is from a letter […] more

Nukes Are Illegal, Now What?

By Robert C. Koehler Let’s not forget: We are standing at the edge of global change. I believe what’s visible in this fleeting moment is our own evolution. Let’s not let this moment flicker and die, to be replaced, with a despairing shrug, by business as usual. Donald Trump shattered the centrist political norms, sent […] more

Countering the Fascism To Come

By Robert C. Koehler Normalcy and tradition held sway as — for the first time in my life — I watched a presidential inauguration live, listening to Lady Gaga sing the national anthem and, then, Joe Biden take the oath of office, becoming the 46th president of the United States. As I write these words, […] more

Lynching Political Correctness

By Robert C. Koehler I still see the noose in front of the capitol building, dangling oh so metaphorically. “No matter how all this plays out, it’s only the beginning,” wrote a user on TheDonald message board, according to the Associated Press. Actually, it’s anything but the beginning — though I get what the writer […] more

Real Change on a Living Planet

By Robert C. Koehler As the New Year asserts itself — a year that begins in global lockdown and political shock-and-awe — an extraordinary question emerges: Are we on the brink of real change? Are we moving, politically speaking, beyond the small and stupid? Is the era of Trump really over? Assuming that to be […] more

Restoring the Soul of America

By Robert C. Koehler “One major difference between GOP and Dems is that [Republicans] leverage their right flank to gain policy concessions and generate enthusiasm, while Dems lock their left flank in the basement [because] they think that will make Republicans be nicer to them.” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez nailed it once again, tweeting her frustration and […] more

One World: The Wisdom of Wholeness

By Robert C. Koehler “We won’t be in a position to make permanent progressive changes until the bad governments are changed permanently into good governments. And all governments are bad governments now and will remain bad governments until we have a global humanity.” The words are those of Mark Haywood, in an email to me […] more

Embracing Ecological Realism

By Robert C. Koehler Our post-election hope couldn’t be more fragile. Does Joe Biden see his mission as merely reclaiming situation normal from Donald Trump? How aware is he of the big, beyond-our-lifetimes future and the crucial need to address climate change? Is he able to acknowledge that human “interests” go well beyond national borders? […] more

Envisioning a New World

By Robert C. Koehler Step one: Defeat Trump. OK, now comes the hard part. We have to take back the country, and what I really mean is take it “forward,” beyond situation normal — endless war, structural racism, consumer culture and ecological devastation — and into what one might call planetary stewardship. This sounds, of […] more

Beyond Simplistic ‘Peace’

By Robert C. Koehler So here’s an odd, mostly overlooked scrap of recent news: Donald Trump wants to end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq before he leaves office, and is expected to announce a drawdown of troops in both countries. Currently there are approximately 4,500 troops in Afghanistan and 3,000 in Iraq. The drawdown […] more

The Biden Mandate Won’t Go Away

By Robert C. Koehler And now . . . what? Joe Biden, in blatant defiance of the wishes of Donald Trump and the Republican Party, has won the vote and claimed the presidency. He will now, as he told the nation in his acceptance speech, begin attempting to “restore the soul of America” and “marshal […] more

Listening to Trump Leaves Me Speechless

By Robert C. Koehler “Well, thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you very much. Please sit. Thank you. This is without question the latest news conference I’ve ever had. Thank you. I appreciate it very much. And I want to thank the American people for their tremendous support, millions and millions of people voted […] more

The Parallel Universe of Peace

By Robert C. Koehler Here’s a piece of paradoxical news that puts even the looming U.S. presidential election in perspective: Nuclear weapons are now (or soon will be) . . . good Lord, illegal. Armageddon is against the law! Well, sort of. And the Trump administration doesn’t agree. Indeed, no nuke-armed nation has, as far […] more

The Anti-Racist Revolution

By Robert C. Koehler The nation has less than two weeks left to live in its comfort zone of platitudes. This is by far the most ominous election buildup of my (fairly lengthy at this point) lifetime. What will happen on Nov. 3 and thereafter? Will all the votes be counted? Presuming Trump loses, will […] more

Columbus Day in Pretend America

By Robert C. Koehler Before the fake holiday known as Columbus Day completely disappears for another year, I want to grab hold of it for a moment and look at what it really has to offer us: a dizzying dose of historical realism. We’re not who we think we are. The social order in which […] more

What Comes Next Is Up to Us

By Robert C. Koehler What if we stopped separating the looming national chaos into separate categories —racism, climate change, war, vote suppression, election theft, pandemic, science denial, white supremacy, police brutality, etc. — and tried looking at it all at once? This may be the legacy of Donald Trump, our first corkscrew-in-chief: He has popped […] more

Trump and the Lost Country

By Robert C. Koehler Where, oh where, is the United States of America — global leader, creator of democracy, hope of humankind? It certainly wasn’t up there on the debate stage last night. When 9-year-olds start slinging insults at each other — “Is not!” “Is too!” — it’s hard for platitudes to step in and […] more

Election 2020: The Coming Chaos

By Robert C. Koehler Is this the future, leaking into the present moment? “You have good genes, you know that, right? You have good genes. A lot of it is about the genes, isn’t it, don’t you believe? The racehorse theory. You think we’re so different? You have good genes in Minnesota.” The speaker, of […] more

Life in Cancer Alley

By Robert C. Koehler Shut up and let corporate America — and also, for that matter, corporate Taiwan — get on with its business. We have ethane to crack and plastic to produce. We dare not let America run out of shopping bags! Environmental racism? Don’t be ridiculous. This is the message the activists of […] more

Standing Up to Trump . . . and Biden

By Robert C. Koehler When I ponder the likelihood of looming electoral chaos — uncounted votes, a defeated president who won’t leave office, the possible termination of American democracy (coming soon!) — I can’t avoid putting it into a larger context: We’ve always been, at best, a partial democracy, skewed in favor of the wealthy […] more

Is There Life Beyond Plastic?

By Robert C. Koehler “Plastics!” Yeah, it’s everywhere … not just in grocery store aisles and department stores and every other commercial outlet you can think of, not to mention your own cupboards and closets and trashcans, but on the grass and on the sidewalks, in the landfills, in the lakes and rivers, in the […] more