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Disarmament, Not Low-Yield Nukes

By Robert C. Koehler Seven-plus decades ago, as humanity was ensnarled in a monstrous world war, its instinct to win — to dominate others above all else — achieved ultimate manifestation: the capacity to annihilate all life on Planet Earth. Nuclear weapons are, you might say, the logical outcome of the 10,000-year journey of civilization: […]

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King’s Vision Is Still Defiant

By Robert C. Koehler Mike Pence, in his attempt the other day to commandeer the spirit of Martin Luther King to shill for his boss’s agenda, unintentionally did so much more. He brought the enormity of King’s vision back into national awareness, where it shattered the Trump Wall of Fear just as resoundingly as it […]

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What About Open Borders?

By Robert C. Koehler There are things that go unquestioned in the national discussion. Because this is a country wrapped in fear and self-importance, the basic, unchallenged premise determining how we behave, how we spend our money, is that we need to protect ourselves . . . from The Enemy. There’s always an enemy lurking […]

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A Green Future Is One Without War

By Robert C. Koehler Donald Trump and his base — the leftover scraps of Jim Crow, the broken shards of racist hatred that once were the American mainstream and made the country seem “great” to those who weren’t its victims — have, it appears, a crucial role to play in our future. President Trump is […]

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A Loose Cannon for Peace?

By Robert C. Koehler Circle the wagons! Apparently what’s under assault is war itself, or so the Establishment believes, in the wake of the shocking announcement by the president that he plans to withdraw all 2,000 U.S. troops now deployed in Syria and 7,000, or half, the U.S. troops in Afghanistan. No, can’t do that! […]

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Yemen: Our Future?

By Robert C. Koehler “They must kill and continue to kill, strange as it may seem, in order not to know that they are killing.” — Rene Girard, Things Hidden since the Foundation of the World Socially sanctioned killing is called war. The word “war” may be the most powerful word in human history, because […]

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Border Security

By Robert C. Koehler It’s the phrase “border security” that freezes my soul every time I hear it uttered, every time I see it in print — so simplistically obvious, the equivalent of keeping your door locked. Did you ever have your cellphone swiped? If you’re careless about this, you’ll pay the price. “This is […]

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The Lost and the Entitled

By Robert C. Koehler When I popped open the old laptop, the Geek Squad guy said maybe I should dust it off. He slid a canister of Endust toward me. “Spray the cloth,” he said, “not the machine.” I started choking on my sense of humiliation. This poor baby was covered with dust. How could […]

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The Demonic Suction Tube

By Robert C. Koehler Suddenly America’s political cauldron bubbles with hope and possibility — not just because the Democrats have won races across the country, but because voters pushed back in record numbers against the forces of Trump and racism and the long-standing lies of entrenched wealth. Now the work begins: to hold our political […]

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The New Abnormal

By Robert C. Koehler Thousand Oaks, California: a city torn apart by wildfire and gunfire. Both are unnatural disasters. “This is the new abnormal,” Gov. Jerry Brown said this week at a press conference, talking about global warming and the three voracious fires that are tearing up his state, one of them — the Camp […]

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The Issues That Won’t Go Away

By Robert C. Koehler How much real change manifested itself in the 2018 midterms? How deeply does the outcome reflect the American soul? Apparently, about 113 million Americans, basically half the electorate, felt compelled to vote in the midterms, revved up either by intense opposition to or support for Donald Trump. This is a lot […]

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Mass Murder and American History

By Robert C. Koehler “Screw your optics, I’m going in.” This is bigger than hate, this latest mass shooting, last weekend, at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, in which, oh my God, 11 more innocent souls died at the hands of a home-grown terrorist. The president’s anti-immigrant tweets may have been in grotesque […]

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Why Do Only Some Lives Matter?

By Robert C. Koehler What would it take for everyone’s life to matter as much as Jamal Khashoggi’s? I ask this question over at the edge of the news, looking for a doorway into the human conscience. Consider: “The U.S. sold a total of $55.6 billion of weapons worldwide in the fiscal year that ended […]

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Climate Change and Collective Salvation

By Robert C. Koehler In the wake of the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation, as white male privilege reclaims its desperate grip on our future, the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report comes out, informing us that we haven’t got much future left in which to avoid . . . I mean implement . . . […]

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From Carswell to Kavanaugh

By Robert C. Koehler These words did in G. Harrold Carswell nearly five decades ago: “I am Southern by ancestry, birth, training, inclination, belief and practice. And I believe that segregation of the races is proper and the only practical and correct way of life in our states. I have always so believed and I […]

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The Curse of Eve

By Robert C. Koehler This is so much bigger than Brett Kavanaugh, or the outcome of his nomination. Women are suddenly opening their secret wounds. Their trauma — often many decades old — is becoming, for the first time, public. So are their tears. Enduring a sexual assault is only the beginning of the journey […]

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The Accusation That Wouldn’t Go Away

By Robert C. Koehler Sexual assault is such a nuisance, not only, but especially, for Republicans. Here’s the Wall Street Journal editorial board, attempting, with gentlemanly politeness, to dispense with Christine Blasey Ford’s accusation against SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh as quickly as possible: “Yet there is no way to confirm her story after 36 years, […]

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Keeping Racism Alive at the Polls

By Robert C. Koehler There’s almost no such thing as voter fraud, even though the Trump administration — and Republicans in general — affect to be so afraid of it they’ve had to develop a system guaranteed to purge voters from the rolls in enormous numbers. They’re keeping America safe! From nothing. This, you might […]

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Healing in North Lawndale

By Robert C. Koehler “This isn’t rocket science,” Jackie Ingram said, humorously downplaying her involvement in the Restorative Justice Community Court, a pilot project of the Cook County Circuit Court, which has brought a new, healing-focused system of justice to her community this past year. My thought in that moment was: She’s right. Saving kids […]

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Reviving the Spirit of ’68

By Robert C. Koehler I was a hippie/bicycle delivery boy living in San Francisco when the Democratic National Convention was held in Chicago fifty years ago, so I absorbed the chaos, the police riot, from half a continent away, but I knew with absolute certainty that the nation was changing and I was part of […]

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Recreating the Wilderness

By Robert C. Koehler The science gets ever more dire. The politics runs the other way. We’ve claimed hold of the planet, but cluelessly, like the sorcerer’s apprentice. Welcome to the Anthropocene: the age of humanity intertwined with nature. “Climate change is not a problem we have to make go away, in a sense that […]

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The Right To Be Afraid

By Robert C. Koehler “He owned the gun legally and had a concealed carry permit.” That matters? In an otherwise neutral and informative article, this reads like a bit of legal fetishism. Another human being is dead, oh so needlessly and pointlessly, thanks to a moment of lethally armed anger in a convenience store parking […]

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Poverty, Violence and Spiritual Wildfires

By Robert C. Koehler “They take advantage of that opportunity and they shoot into a crowd, no matter who they hit.” The news this past weekend emerging from my fair city, Chicago, felt like news about wildfires sweeping across California: the sudden, hellish karma of climate change, that is to say, the gradual collapse of […]

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Border Security: Wall vs. Principles

By Robert C. Koehler Consider the limited thinking that produces a concept such as “border security.” The essential assumption here is that the United States of America is primarily a physical container – three and a half million square miles of freedom and prosperity, whoopee, but the supply is limited. Sorry, have-nots, we don’t have […]

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A World Designed by Playground Bullies

By Robert C. Koehler As the week’s news slaps against my consciousness like road slush, some fragments sting more than others. For instance: “According to the DOJ’s court filing, parents who are not currently in the U.S. may not be eligible for reunification with their children.” I can’t quite move on with my life after […]

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