What Gary Johnson Should Have Said About Aleppo

Photo from Haaretz There’s an old saying that war is God’s way of teaching geography to Americans. These days, even that may not be enough. Now, because of Gary Johnson’s Aleppo gaffe, that city has become a little more familiar to most Americans than it was a few weeks ago. But, what’s truly regrettable about his embarrassing moment is that it puts us deeper in the dark. The media had a feast with it, and continued to neglect the conversations we need to have. Aleppo became a story with no moral… I was rooting for Johnson to get … Continue reading →

Purple Capitalism

Purple Capitalism and Social Justice Capitalism offers real opportunities to advance social justice. Across America and across the world, capitalist-driven innovation and entrepreneurship has generated profound benefits for human well-being. Yet, it’s also true that unbridled capitalism can lead to suffering and misery. The challenge of our time is to leverage the virtues of capitalism and defeat its excesses. Purple Capitalism sees economic freedom and social justice as complementary ideals, linked by the imperatives of human empowerment and moral fairness. We’ve seen how energetic competition in open markets elevates diversity and inclusion over outdated hierarchies. We’ve seen how … Continue reading →

Bill Maher vs Bill Kristol: Is the Tea Party Racist?

During a Facebook conversation in the wake of Bill Kristol’s appearance on Bill Maher, one of my Frisbee buddies liked my take on the Tea Party. I reposted it on Bill Maher’s page. I think it’s a huge mistake to dismiss the Tea Party as bunch of racist buffoons. It may be easy to get a laugh by playing on caricatures of demon racists, but you overlook the real meaning and threats of the movement when you do so. There’s no denying that racist buffoons have appeared under the Tea Party tent. So have scores of Bible-thumping fanatics … Continue reading →

We the People

The aspiration embodied in the statement “We the people” cast a long shadow in American and human history. William O. Douglas was very savvy in using the term “penumbras” to describe the extension of rights delineated in the Bill of Rights. That same extensive power fortifies the American and now global tradition of demanding the power and legitimacy of self-government. “We” is an expressly inclusive word, and a potent tool for those who are seeking to excise vestigial legacies of exclusion. In response to a thread on Facebook. … Continue reading →

Contemplating the Crackpot Caucus

Timothy Eagan of the New York Times vents about evidence-challenged members of Congress (all Republicans) in a recent Opnionator blog post. I weighed in with this comment ( It hasn’t appeared after several hours, apparently because the site is having technical problems). The persistence of such primitive attitudes in our country is deplorable, but not surprising. Science and religion (at their best) are both truth seeking endeavors. Yet their champion urges — seeking facts that hold up vs. seeking values that are to be upheld — are clearly at odds. Many of the religiously-motivated, rationality-challenged folks I’ve known … Continue reading →

Occupying Wall Street vs Protesting Washington

“All of these people should be after Obama and Holder!” Beneath the bluster, on this one O’Reilly is asking a fair question, and certainly an important one. The gist of the question, sobered up, is this: Given that the Occupiers are protesting criminality on Wall Street, why aren’t they going to Washington instead, in order to: 1) demand legal action against those who wrecked the financial system; 2) denounce the politicians who empowered the wreckers, and; 3) demand reforms that would prevent such crimes from happening again? Geraldo Rivera didn’t have the answer, and most liberals won’t. It’s … Continue reading →

Bill Keller Stands for Sanity

Bill Keller, managing editor of the New York Times, took a stand for sanity in an article concerning the importance of asking the current crop of GOP presidential candidates about their professed faith. I do want to know if a candidate places fealty to the Bible, the Book of Mormon (the text, not the Broadway musical) or some other authority higher than the Constitution and laws of this country. It matters to me whether a president respects serious science and verifiable history — in short, belongs to what an official in a previous administration once scornfully described as … Continue reading →

Scot Atran on Why War Is Never Really Rational

Thoughtful and cogent stuff from Scott Atran, as usual. (At Huffington Post) I wonder what he has to say about William James’ reflections on the “Moral Equivalent of War.” As I recall, the upshot of that famous article gets at the importance of feeling “owned by” an anchoring concept greater than oneself, and that concept is typically the charter myth (or charter Truth) of a group. My own take on this is that the most passionately governing ur-rule for humans is the desire to be aligned with “Truth.” For the rationalists among us, that rule would seem to … Continue reading →