Articles by Robert C. Koehler

We found 55 results.


Fighting Climate Change Means Ending War
Robert C. Koehler | Common Wonders – TRANSCEND Media Service, 22 Jul 2019

17 Jul 2019 – The “world’s greatest democracy” has morphed, over the course of my lifetime, into a money-driven military-industrial monstrosity, waging pointless wars, selling arms to the world, expanding its prison archipelago and generating endless wealth for the powerful — all the while insulated from public scrutiny by the mainstream propaganda industry, which shrugs and calls it all self-defense and situation normal as it serves up endless distractions to Spectator Nation.

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American Concentration Camps
Robert C. Koehler | Common Wonders – TRANSCEND Media Service, 1 Jul 2019

26 Jun 2019 – Asylum seekers once had legal rights, but not anymore. As their numbers increased, due primarily to worsening conditions in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras (countries the United States helped ravage politically), virtually all the refugees started getting treated as “illegals.” These are American concentration camps. They’re not death camps, but they’re evolving, I fear, in much the same moral and political void.

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What’s Next: War with Venezuela?
Robert C. Koehler | Common Wonders – TRANSCEND Media Service, 13 May 2019

8 May 2019 – Mix a little socialism in with the oil and war may be unavoidable. With our trillion dollar military budget, threatening (and waging) war is pretty much the only thing we know how to do as a nation, and by “we” I mean the ones in control, publicly and/or secretly — the ones whose egos have expanded to the size of the nation, who mean themselves when they say “that’s what the United States will do.”

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Nonviolence or Nonexistence
Robert C. Koehler | Common Wonders – TRANSCEND Media Service, 6 May 2019

2 May 2019 – The day before he died, Martin Luther King said these words at a packed church in Memphis: “Men for years now have been talking about war and peace. Now no longer can they just talk about it. It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence in this world, it is nonviolence or nonexistence. That is where we are today.”That’s where we are today . . . half a century later!

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Our Wounded Planet
Robert C. Koehler | Common Wonders – TRANSCEND Media Service, 1 Apr 2019

27 Mar 2019 – Should we save the planet or kill the enemy?… I am because you are!

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Re-Inhabiting Planet Earth
Robert C. Koehler | Common Wonders – TRANSCEND Media Service, 11 Mar 2019

6 Mar 2019 – The atmosphere didn’t catch fire at 5:30 that morning, but Segre’s words remain relevant, sort of like radioactive fallout. They encapsulate what may be history’s ultimate moment of human arrogance: the belief in a sense of separateness from and superiority to nature so thorough that we have, with our monstrous intelligence, the ability and therefore the right to play Bad God and make the whole planet go poof.

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Disarmament, Not Low-Yield Nukes
Robert C. Koehler | Common Wonders – TRANSCEND Media Service, 4 Feb 2019

30 Jan 2019 – 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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The New Abnormal
Robert C. Koehler | Common Wonders – TRANSCEND Media Service, 19 Nov 2018

“Mass shootings and mass burnings. Welcome to the new America.” Gunfire and wildfire. This is a country at war with itself in multiple ways.

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Reopening the Doors of Perception
Robert C. Koehler | Common Wonders – TRANSCEND Media Service, 4 Dec 2017

“If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.” These words from a William Blake’s poem gave Aldous Huxley the title of his book The Doors of Perception. Then they gave Jim Morrison the name of his rock band–Doors. And eventually they gave millions of young people a glimpse at a world beyond the cruel and small-minded order that ruled the day.

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Praying for the Moths and Beetles
Robert C. Koehler | Common Wonders – TRANSCEND Media Service, 30 Oct 2017

25 Oct 2017 – “. . . insects as a group are in terrible trouble and the remorselessly expanding human enterprise has become too much, even for them.” And instantly I’m beyond the realm of anything I know, as I consider the gradual disappearance not of whales but of . . . beetles, moths and hoverflies, thanks to the human enterprise we call civilization.

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Reclaiming the Truth about Vietnam
Robert C. Koehler | Common Wonders – TRANSCEND Media Service, 25 Sep 2017

The first set of words sickened a vast segment of the American public and caused the horror of “Vietnam Syndrome” to cripple and emasculate the military-industrial complex for a decade and a half. Slowly, the powers that be regrouped, redefined how we fought our wars: without widespread national sacrifice or a universal draft; and with smart bombs and even smarter public relations, ensuring that most of the American public could watch our clean, efficient wars in the comfort of their living rooms. What was also necessary was to marginalize the anti-war voices that shut down the Vietnam War.

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The Man Who Stood Up to Armageddon
Robert C. Koehler | Common Wonders – TRANSCEND Media Service, 4 Sep 2017

30 Aug 2017 – Suddenly it’s possible — indeed, all too easy — to imagine one man starting a nuclear war. What’s a little harder to imagine is one human being stopping such a war. For all time. The person who came closest to this may have been Tony de Brum, former foreign minister of the Marshall Islands, who died last week of cancer at age 72.

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Why Does North Korea Hate Us?
Robert C. Koehler | Common Wonders – TRANSCEND Media Service, 21 Aug 2017

The bombing was long, leisurely and merciless. Dean Rusk said the USA bombed ‘everything that moved in North Korea, every brick standing on top of another.’ After running low on urban targets, U.S. bombers destroyed hydroelectric and irrigation dams in the later stages of the war, flooding farmland and destroying crops. And so we remain caged in military thinking and the need to win, rather than understand.

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Terrorism for Profit
Robert C. Koehler | Common Wonders – TRANSCEND Media Service, 14 Aug 2017

9 Aug 2017 – And suddenly there it was, the American paradox in full splendor: Oh yeah, we’re fighting terrorists. We have to keep killing people, keep pouring trillions of dollars into our wars, because bad people are out there threatening us because they hate our freedoms. And the guy reminding us of this is the founder of Blackwater, private contractor in Iraq, whose mercenaries were responsible for one of the most shocking acts of lethal aggression — a.k.a., terrorism — of the early years of that war.

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Dead Civilians and the Language of War
Robert C. Koehler | Common Wonders – TRANSCEND Media Service, 24 Jul 2017

19 Jul 2017 – Finally it comes down to this: Some people are expendable. They come in two categories: terrorists (good riddance!) and civilians, whose deaths often elicit official apologies (if there’s no way to deny it was our fault). The language of war is what keeps it alive. This is the language of strategy and domination: words without grief, words without compassion. Speaking truth to power — the true work of the media — cannot be done if reporters write in the language of power, this alien tongue in which some human beings are expendable.

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Nukes and the Global Schism
Robert C. Koehler | Common Wonders – TRANSCEND Media Service, 17 Jul 2017

12 Jul 2017 – The United States boycotted the U.N. negotiations to ban — everywhere across Planet Earth — nuclear weapons. So did a few other countries. Guess which ones? Armed equals scared. (And scared equals profitable.)

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A Public Plan for Peace
Robert C. Koehler | Common Wonders – TRANSCEND Media Service, 1 May 2017

26 Apr 2017 – The American will to wage war — endless war, pointless war, total war — is, I fear, impervious to public opinion and even political action. I fear something is dangerously loose at the American core: a need for endless war combined with a nuclear recklessness uncontained by public scrutiny. The resistance has to go deeper than Trump. At its center we need a public plan for peace.

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How Many Civilians Can We Kill?
Robert C. Koehler | Common Wonders – TRANSCEND Media Service, 3 Apr 2017

As Barbara Ehrenreich writes in her book, Blood Rites, “War has dug itself into economic systems, where it offers a livelihood to millions, rather than to just a handful of craftsmen and professional soldiers. It has lodged in our souls as a kind of religion, a quick tonic for political malaise and a bracing antidote to the moral torpor of consumerist, market-driven cultures.”

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The Mosque That Disappeared
Robert C. Koehler | Common Wonders – TRANSCEND Media Service, 27 Mar 2017

22 Mar 2017 – We committed a quiet little war crime the other day. Forty-plus people are dead, taken out with Hellfire missiles while they were praying. Or maybe not. Maybe they were just insurgents. The women and children, if there were any, were . . . come on, you know the lingo, collateral damage. The Pentagon is going to “look into” allegations that what happened last March 16 in Syria was something more serious than a terrorist takeout operation, which, if you read the official commentary, seems like the geopolitical equivalent of rodent control.

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The Deep State Hasn’t Gone Away
Robert C. Koehler | Common Wonders – TRANSCEND Media Service, 20 Mar 2017

The whole point of a democracy is to empower the public interest, which means that the public must be aware of the Deep State and hold it continually accountable. While Lofgren is adamant that there’s more to it than the military-industrial consensus and the pursuit of endless war, this to me is by far its most troubling aspect. Let’s not give it any peace.

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Costa Rica’s Peace Journey
Robert C. Koehler | Common Wonders – TRANSCEND Media Service, 27 Feb 2017

A Bold Peace, which begins by quoting Eisenhower’s “cross of iron” speech, tells the remarkable story of war avoided, or transcended, again and again and again. Yes, there is another way for the world to live. By the film’s end, this way emerges not simply as possible, not simply as a curiosity, but as the model for the future. It’s time for the rest of the world to join Costa Rica on its journey.

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The Mass Grave We Call Collateral Damage
Robert C. Koehler | Common Wonders – TRANSCEND Media Service, 13 Feb 2017

But the politics of our drone assassinations and our air strikes and our wars justify and soften the murders we commit. Even now, as consensus consigns the Iraq war to the status of “mistake,” we still refuse to take official responsibility for its consequences. The shattered country, the dead, the dislocated, the rise of terrorism — come on, cut us a little slack, OK? We were bringing democracy to Iraq.

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The Future Cries Out: ‘Water Is Life’
Robert C. Koehler | Common Wonders – TRANSCEND Media Service, 19 Sep 2016

The tribal peoples of Earth are making their voices heard in so many ways. Their mission is to reconnect the modern world with the circle of life — a circle that much of humanity left behind maybe ten millennia ago, in pursuit of the Agricultural Revolution and dominion over nature. In the process, we’ve succeeded in changing the climate and, perhaps, establishing a troubling new geological epoch. Now it’s time to rethink “progress.” Building another pipeline is its antithesis.

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The Heart of Order
Robert C. Koehler | Common Wonders – TRANSCEND Media Service, 29 Aug 2016

He’d left the water running, flooding neighbors’ apartments. He’d been running around outside naked. By the time police arrived, he was standing in the window of his fourth-floor apartment threatening to jump. He pointed his finger at the cops, pretending he had a gun. “Fuck the police,” he said. The standoff lasted four hours.

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Mass Karma
Robert C. Koehler | Common Wonders – TRANSCEND Media Service, 20 Jun 2016

On the battlefield you are supposed to try to kill a person whom you’ve never met before. You are shooting because he is wearing the enemy uniform. Under official circumstances, we glorify this sort of behavior. And this glory permeates the American social structure, creating a sort of standing permission for every troubled individual — every potential army of one — to wage war against a self-perceived wrong.

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Cowardice and Exoneration in Kunduz
Robert C. Koehler | Common Wonders – TRANSCEND Media Service, 9 May 2016

“The aircrew appeared to be confused by the directions from the Americans on the ground. At one point, the crew was told it would need to hit a second target after the strike it was about to commence, and ‘we will also be doing the same thing of softening the target for partner forces.’” This is the reality: An action that wound up killing 42 hospital workers and patients –men, women and children, some of whom were burned alive in their beds – was instigated in order to “soften the target” . . .

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Creating Resilient Communities
Robert C. Koehler – TRANSCEND Media Service, 18 Apr 2016

Real peace — positive peace, which transcends violence and turns conflict into opportunity — is and always has been part of who we are. We know a lot more about how to create peace than we think we do. We’re perfectly capable of transcending violent solutions to our troubles and building a sustainable future. The first step is to take our conflicts out of isolation.

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Recovering from Militarism
Robert C. Koehler – TRANSCEND Media Service, 4 Apr 2016

The pols cry glory and revenge. They cry security. They cry greatness. Then they stick in the needle, or the missile or the rifle shell, or the nuclear bomb. Or at least they imagine doing so. This will fix the world. And they approve more funding for war. We talk about “the Pentagon” as though it were a rational entity, hierarchically in control of what it does.

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Beached America
Robert C. Koehler – TRANSCEND Media Service, 22 Feb 2016

17 Feb 2016 – For at least the last four decades now I feel like I’ve been living in Beached America: a nation that has lost its values, even as it writhes in violent agitation, inflicting its military on the vulnerable regions of the planet.

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The Dynamics of Compassion
Robert C. Koehler, Common Wonders – TRANSCEND Media Service, 7 Dec 2015

We invented written language. The human species is now in the process of inventing something just as crucial: how to love itself, how to engage with itself nonviolently. We’ve been organized for far too long in a state of only partial connection, relying on the presence of enemies to stay in solidarity with our neighbors.

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Soulless Economics
Robert C. Koehler – TRANSCEND Media Service~, 20 Jul 2015

Austerity, the tool of neoliberal capitalism, stands up to Greek democracy and stares it down. Oh well. We’re remarkably comfortable with soulless economics and have yielded to this economic model in thought, word and deed.

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The Collateral Damage of Austerity
Robert C. Koehler – TRANSCEND Media Service, 13 Jul 2015

A bogus moral authority seems to accompany the accumulation of wealth — a sense that one deserves it, while those without wealth deserve servitude and hopelessness. Beyond this moral authority lies the desperate need not to recognize the common humanity of those who are struggling to survive.

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Nuclear Realism
Robert C. Koehler – TRANSCEND Media Service, 1 Jun 2015

27 May 2015 – There’s a category of political intellectuals who proudly proclaim themselves “realists,” then proceed to defend and advance a deeply faith-based agenda that centers on the ongoing necessity to prepare for war, including nuclear war. These intellectuals, as they defend the military-industrial status quo (which often supports them financially), have made themselves the spokespersons for a deep human cancer: a soul cancer.

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A New Dark Age of Militarism
Robert C. Koehler – TRANSCEND Media Service, 18 May 2015

13 May 2015 – “What struck me,” journalist Christian Parenti said in a recent Truthout interview, referring to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, “was the fact that these local towns and states around the region were sending the only resources they had to New Orleans: weapons and militarized gear.

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Idiots of the World, Unite!
Robert C. Koehler – TRANSCEND Media Service, 4 May 2015

“Sir, you are an idiot.” Wow, an insult wrapped in such old-fashioned politeness. I let the words hover and reach, as I always do, for peace: that is to say, for clarity, connection, common humanity. Last week I raised the idea of unarmed policing [in the US], as practiced in half a dozen countries around the world.

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The Real Nuclear Threat
Robert C. Koehler, Common Wonders – TRANSCEND Media Service, 13 Apr 2015

Three privatized nuclear laboratories — Los Alamos, Sandia and Livermore — are behind the immense investment (as much as $1 trillion over 30 years) in upgraded, more destructive nuclear warheads. This aggressive pressure from the American business sector is a lot more frightening than any aggression emanating from Iran, and may indicate where the real push for war comes from.

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Alive and Bleeding
Robert C. Koehler – TRANSCEND Media Service, 23 Feb 2015

“We’re killing a lot of them, and we’re going to keep killing more of them. So are the Egyptians, so are the Jordanians — they’re in this fight with us. But we cannot win this war by killing them. We cannot kill our way out of this war. We need in the medium to longer term to go after the root causes that lead people to join these groups, whether it’s a lack of opportunity for jobs, whether…”

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War and Perpetual Adolescence
Robert C. Koehler – TRANSCEND Media Service, 9 Feb 2015

The urgency I feel isn’t any longer to stop a particular war but to interrupt endless war: to interrupt the narrowly focused geopolitical conversation, conveyed to us over and over by media stenographers.

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Afghanistan: Skulking Away from a Failed War
Robert C. Koehler – TRANSCEND Media Service, 5 Jan 2015

The ceremony, commemorating the war’s shutdown, was secret because authorities feared the possibility of a Taliban attack. The USA and NATO, as everyone knows, are the losers, despite the bloated enormity of their military superiority. What a mockery the reality of war makes of the rhetoric that blesses it.

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Beyond M.A.D.: Reviving Nuclear War
Robert C. Koehler – TRANSCEND Media Service, 8 Dec 2014

“Some of the key technocrats and scientists of the Cold War say the nation has become overly confident about its nuclear deterrence. The nuclear enterprise, they say, ‘is rusting its way to disarmament.’” Let’s meditate on this irony — that disarmament, finally, means no more than growing old and weak and pathetic.

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Peace as a Human Right
Robert C. Koehler – TRANSCEND Media Service, 10 Nov 2014

In the beginning was the word. OK. This is the beginning, and these are the words, but they haven’t arrived yet — at least not officially, with full force of meaning. It’s our job, not God’s, to create the new story of who we are, and millions — billions — of people fervently wish we could do so. The problem is that the worst of our nature is better organized than the best of it.

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Traces of Evil
Robert C. Koehler – Common Wonders, 22 Sep 2014

Hurray! God bless drones and “mission accomplished” and a million Iraqi dead and birth defects in Fallujah. God bless torture. God bless the CIA. But guess what? “Still we continue to face a terrorist threat. We cannot erase every trace of evil from the world, and small groups of killers have the capacity to do great harm.”

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Hatred in the Nuclear Era
Robert C. Koehler – TRANSCEND Media Service, 11 Aug 2014

August 6th, 2014 – “Why are we violent but not illiterate?” asked columnist Colman McCarthy. Well, for one thing, we don’t wrap illiteracy in a shroud of glory and call it war or self-defense or national security; nor have we developed a multi-trillion-dollar industry called the Illiteracy Industrial Complex (or maybe we have, and call it television).

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Never Again to Us
Robert C. Koehler – TRANSCEND Media Service, 28 Jul 2014

“Israel regrets every injury to civilians. I call on the residents of Gaza: Don’t stay there. Hamas wants you to die; we want you to be safe.” – Netanyahu. Glenn Greenwald compared this remark to a 1941 comment by Joseph Goebbels: “One suddenly has the impression,” the Nazi propaganda minister wrote, “that the Berlin Jewish population consists only of little babies whose childish helplessness might move us, or else fragile old ladies.”

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The Oxymoron of Peace
Robert C. Koehler – TRANSCEND Media Service, 21 Jul 2014

Austerity is for losers. There’s always money to wage war and build weapons, indeed, to continue developing weapons, generation after generation after generation. The contractors are adept at playing the game. Jobs link arms with fear and patriotism and the next war is always inevitable.

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A Momentum of Cynicism
Robert C. Koehler – Common Wonders, 16 Jan 2012

At this late stage of the American republic, military-industrial corruption permeates not only our foreign policy but our ideals. We go to war because the business of war is beyond all constraint. “In a striking departure from the ideological preferences of the post-Vietnam Democratic Party, President Barack Obama has made overseas arms sales a pillar of U.S. foreign policy,” Loren Thompson, chief operating officer at the Lexington Institute, a D.C. think tank, wrote – uncritically – for Forbes last week.

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The Suffering of Fallujah
Robert C. Koehler – TRANSCEND Media Service, 2 Aug 2010

And so it turns out that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, though not until we arrived and started using them. This is the power of language. Call it “war” and along come glory, duty, courage, sacrifice: the best of humanity writ large. The word is impenetrable; it sets the heart in motion; God makes an appearance, blesses the troops, blesses the weapons. Operation Iraqi Freedom: They’ll greet us with open arms. At what point do we learn our lesson, that “war” is a moral cesspool of horrific consequences, especially, and most troublingly, unintended ones?

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Revenge of the Weeds
Robert C. Koehler – TRANSCEND Media Service, 19 Jul 2010

We can’t keep playing conquering fool, arrogantly ordering the world to our liking by killing everything that doesn’t fit into it. We can’t keep throwing more of the same at our problems. We can’t keep fighting nature, or one another, and expect somehow to win in the end. We can’t keep buying time at an increasingly horrific price. Time is running out. And petroleum isn’t the only thing we’re addicted to.

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Recovering From Empathy
Robert C. Koehler – TRANSCEND Media Service, 19 Apr 2010

I remain stuck, churning in my own outrage and despair just as I have –- and so many millions of Americans have –- since the war on terror was launched amid all its lies and cowardly righteousness in 2001. For God’s sake, we’re killing people. We’re doing so in large numbers, with high-tech savagery. We aren’t even defending ourselves. We’ve invented an enemy out of whole cloth.

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REFLECTIONS ON AN ANNIVERSARY
Robert C. Koehler – TRANSCEND Media Service, 5 Apr 2010

“Everything feels obscene,” a friend said seven years ago, when we carpet-bombed Baghdad, launching the invasion. It still does, but in a dull, chronic, “used to it” way — outrage mixed, these last few years, with “hope,” smearing the war effort with a thick, national ambivalence. Is it still going on? Well, yeah, with a […]

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A PERSONAL STAKE IN SANITY
Robert C. Koehler - Tribune Media Services, 20 Feb 2010

When we write about mass slaughter, even the good kind, which we call “war,” the waging of it should be on trial in every sentence. Anything less than that is propaganda, the chief characteristic of which is moral opacity. Sadly, this is how our news is delivered to us. Reading it makes me feel homeless. […]

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THE SOURCE OF CORPORATE POWER
Robert C. Koehler - The Huffington Post, 31 Jan 2010

“If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech.”The words are those of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority in last week’s landmark Supreme Court decision marking some sort of culmination in the long corporate trek to […]

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CARING AND KILLING: TIME IS RUNNING OUT, MR. PRESIDENT
Robert C. Koehler - Tribune Media Services, 4 Dec 2009

Dear Barack . . . Mr. President . . . brilliant, courageous (I once thought) guy I voted for: You’re great. I mean the way you put words together. As I listened to you on Tuesday night, I thought about the interlocking, dovetail-joint perfection of your language: the crisp-edged certainty of your delivery, the clean […]

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THE TOSSED SHOE AWARD
Robert C. Koehler, 26 Sep 2009

“Businesses exist to serve the general welfare. Profit is the means, not the end. It is the reward a business receives for serving the general welfare. When a business fails to serve the general welfare, it forfeits its right to exist.” Do Adam Smith’s famously forgotten words of caution for capitalists apply to journalism? Is […]

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WE SHALL NOT BE MOVED
Robert C. Koehler, Tribune Media Services, 24 Aug 2009

“A fight, a fight . . .” Oh Lord. From what depths did this story come? This was the power of the peace circle, pulling something out of me beyond any known zone of emotional safety.   There were five or six of us, in a small breakout group, challenging one another with the deepest […]

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