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Blog Directory  >  Politics Blogs  >  The Rational Optimist | Frank S. Robinson's blog on life, society, politics, and philosophy politics Blog  > 

Justice — Maybe Just A Little?
2023-03-18 14:07
The Judges of the International Criminal Court in the Hague have issued an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin. For a crime against humanity (only one of his many), abducting thousands of U… Read More
Religion Wrecking Israel
2023-03-14 18:53
We’re often told religion provides “comfort.” It’s understandably comforting to imagine death isn’t death. Though a more authentically meaningful life can be… Read More
About Fox News: Just Facts, No Rhetoric
2023-03-11 14:39
As a writer, I love language, the challenge of putting ideas into words. To find just the right words to convey something. Hyperbole is extreme language. The last seven years have prese… Read More
How Identity Politics Hurts Democrats
2023-03-08 20:54
I heard a radio report about Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Cal.) declaring her candidacy for the U.S. Senate. Asked why she’s running, virtually the first word in reply was “LGBTQ.&rdqu……Read More
Freedom Of Speech — Can Of Worms
2023-03-04 14:46
Elon Musk said he was taking over Twitter in the name of free speech. Twitter was faulted for trying to keep a lid on harmful craziness. Notably, its banning Trump (as did Facebook) in th… Read More
The Masculinity Crisis
2023-02-24 17:01
I’ve written about “lookism”* — discrimination against the less attractive. Graduating law school in 1970, I wasn’t ugly, but short, which didn’t help… Read More
Sam Harris On The Evil Of Religion
2023-02-19 18:47
Sam Harris was one of the famous “four horsemen” of “new atheist” writers (along with Dawkins, Dennett, and Hitchens). He’s actually not materialist enough f… Read More
Ukraine: The Long And The Short Of It
2023-02-15 14:09
Long war or short war? That seems to be the question. Putin apparently had fantasized a very short war, Ukraine a pushover — believing it’s not really even a country, its peop… Read More
Why You Can’t Trust Your Brain
2023-02-11 19:40
I heard a talk by Dr. Caleb Lack, a clinical psychologist and author. His topic: Why You Can’t Trust Your Brain. Well, whose brain can you trust? Actually, the brain is an extreme… Read More
Democrats And Non-white Voters
2023-01-27 13:49
I wanted to scream, hearing a recent radio panel discussion about voting rights legislation. The talk was all about “politicians” not caring enough to pass it. I’m so fe… Read More
China’s Covid Catastrophe
2023-01-19 14:17
When Covid began three years ago in Wuhan, China’s regime acted ruthlessly to contain it, with draconian lockdown, testing, and quarantining rules. This did succeed — in China &m&hell…Read More
The United States House Of Reprehensibles
2023-01-06 14:51
I kept warning that voters giving Congressional power to these Republicans would be insane. Kevin McCarthy is a reprehensible character, totally self-serving and dishonest. But that&rsq&hell…Read More
Blacks Go Back To Africa
2023-01-03 13:57
“Go Back to Africa!” the marchers chanted, shaking their torches. “Go Back to Africa!” their signs declared. One small detail they overlooked. Black Americans&r……Read More
An Artificial Intelligence Rebuts Me!
2022-12-30 13:59
I’ve been rebutted by an Artificial Intelligence bot. My nephew, Ben Broderick Phillips, works for Microsoft, with Artificial Intelligence (AI) within his wheelhouse. For Christma… Read More
Trumpery Recap
2022-12-26 13:45
His tax returns have finally been made public, after a years-long legal battle. What was he hiding? The New York Times already reported in 2020 that he’d been paying almost no incom… Read More
Reunifications And Republicans
2022-12-22 14:21
Germany had long been divided, by a physical wall. It was opened, on November 9, 1989, and I’ll never forget seeing East Germans literally whooping with joy to finally pass through… Read More
The Supreme Court And Affirmative Action
2022-12-18 16:10
The way to stop racial discrimination, Chief Justice Roberts has said, “is to stop discriminating by race.” The Supreme Court will yet again revisit affirmative action this… Read More
Ai Weiwei And Bono On Art And Capitalism
2022-12-14 01:40
No word triggers more nonsense thinking than “capitalism.” For centuries, when Christianity reigned, the ubiquitous bogeyman was Satan. As that superstition wanes, now it’s… Read More
What Does Ancestry Mean?
2022-12-07 21:09
My wife was intrigued by a statistician’s writing that if you go back 3400 years, we’re all related. Not actually surprising if you think about it. After all, you’ve got tw… Read More
How To Play With Your Food
2022-11-25 13:58
Who could resist that book title found at a yard sale? More, the authors were Penn & Teller — renowned magicians and outspoken advocates for reason against superstition. We&r……Read More
Witch Hunts Past And Present
2022-11-19 23:54
I’ve written about the Western world’s witch burning craze during the 15th-18th centuries.* Recently I’ve read more on the subject in a book by Martin Harris, Cows, Pigs, W… Read More
Climate: We’re Cooked
2022-11-13 16:21
Like the proverbial frog in the pot whose temperature slowly rises. Yes (sigh) this is about climate change. But please read it anyway, it may provide some clarity. There’s an… Read More
America’s Appointment In Samarra
2022-11-06 13:25
An old Arab parable: In Baghdad’s marketplace, a man’s servant finds himself eyed ominously by a figure he recognizes as Death. To escape his fate, he’ll ride immediatel… Read More
Iran: Theocracy Hypocrisy
2022-11-04 13:18
Decrying Iran’s tyranny, and rooting for the women protesters, is facile. But two points: One, Iran is seemingly a special case among the world’s dictatorships — a the… Read More
Herschel Walker And The Character Issue
2022-11-02 12:50
The 2006 film Idiocracy’s premise was dimbulbs procreating like rabbits, producing a dumb population. Imagine the kind of people they elect. Our average IQ is not in fact falling; yet… Read More
The Pelosi Attack
2022-10-31 12:35
Okay, one swallow does not a summer make, nor one nutjob’s violence a holocaust. But it’s one more signpost on our downward road. David DePape was a Trumpian conspiracy driv… Read More
Right Track, Wrong Track: I Lied
2022-10-29 13:18
I lied, to a pollster. Asked the iconic “right track/wrong track” question, I said America is on the right track. Because my truthful answer would redound against the Biden ad… Read More
Ukraine: Russia’s Dirty Bomb Warning
2022-10-26 13:06
Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has warned that Ukraine will use a “dirty bomb.” That’s a conventional explosive that spews radioactive contamination. And… Read More
Max Boot On Trump Derangement Syndrome
2022-10-19 15:01
“Trump derangement syndrome” is invoked by his fans gleeful at his driving opponents nuts. Of course, those opponents are entirely rational; it’s Trumpers themselves who ar… Read More
Seeing “Hamilton” In London
2022-10-16 23:25
Calling London an international city is inadequate. It’s like a city with no nationality at all; no native tongue, everyone speaking their own. “Does anyone speak English in t… Read More
Bad Parents And Politics
2022-10-14 15:02
Bad parent memoirs are a big literary genre. Recently I read a very different kind of book, about guided psychedelic experiences. Many who undergo them have problems to work through. Most co… Read More
Crime And Policing
2022-10-03 13:21
Crime is rising! People always think this. But in fact crime rates hit a peak in the early ’90s (though nowhere near earlier epochs), and then fell inexorably and dramatically. But… Read More
Ukraine: How Does This End?
2022-09-29 13:28
The wanton, callous destruction, death, and suffering sear the soul. Having denied that Russia’s Ukraine aggression is a “war,” Putin now denies that it’s going… Read More
Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor . . .
2022-09-21 12:33
So Governor Abbott grabs human beings — mothers and children, who have already suffered horrific ordeals fleeing nightmares in places like Venezuela — and puts them on a grueling… Read More
My Birthday Gift – A Marriage Culture
2022-09-19 12:34
For my recent 75th birthday — in a addition to a cake, a new cushion for my outdoor recliner, a mermaid sculpture, a piece of furniture, and a mess of chocolate — my wife Ther… Read More
The Real Story About Inflation
2022-09-16 13:42
Inflation is a bad thing. The whole point of money is as a receptacle of value; fluctuating value defeats the purpose. The $10 you put in the bank a year ago has now lost you a dollar. Thing… Read More
Frontline — How MAGA Maggots Ate The GOP
2022-09-13 13:02
PBS’s recent Frontline documentary, Lies, Politics and Democracy, I thought would just be old hat. Instead it was a compelling and revealing eye-opener. For six years my hair&rsqu&hell…Read More
Faulkner On Race
2022-09-10 13:41
I’ve written about William Faulkner (1897-1962) as my favorite novelist. A Mississippian, his books were all set there, between Civil War times and the early 20th century. The chara… Read More
Goodbye Gorby
2022-09-04 02:45
Mikhail Gorbachev was the most consequential personage of the 20th century’s latter half. And in a good way. Now that is really saying something. The 21st century’s biggest… Read More
“Riots In The Streets”
2022-08-31 23:14
Senator Lindsay Graham, the on-again-off-again toady, foresees “riots in the streets” if Trump is prosecuted for stealing classified documents. Graham reflects a Republican pa… Read More
Assholes — A Theory
2022-08-28 13:14
“Well, he’s got the asshole vote,” I remarked to my wife early in 2016. “But are there enough assholes?” Now I’ve read Aaron James’s book, Assh… Read More
Soccer Life Lessons
2022-08-22 12:27
I am the least sports-minded person on Earth, but here’s a thing I can confidently say most soccer champs do wrong. You’re about to take a penalty kick. The goalie is positi… Read More
Liz Cheney At The Alamo
2022-08-19 13:07
Liz Cheney’s politics are orthodox conservative. She believes in the Constitution, democracy, rule of law, and truth. But unlike almost every other Republican today, she really beli… Read More
Trumpers’ Heroic Persecution Fantasy
2022-08-16 12:46
Trump cultists’ rabid reaction to the FBI search warrant is revealing. They don’t just see him under threat; they see themselves under threat. Columnist Paul Waldman quotes a… Read More
The Last Rose Of Shanghai
2022-08-13 23:29
Shanghai, 1940. The Japanese have ravaged through much of China; they’re in Shanghai, but don’t (yet) control its international settlement. Wherein a top nightclub is owned and o… Read More
David McCullough 1933-2022
2022-08-09 17:50
David McCullough was a great American. Just weeks ago I read his little 2017 book, The American Spirit – Who We Are and What We Stand For. I did so because I felt in need of a boost… Read More
The Ignorance Epidemic
2022-08-06 12:54
Keenya Oliver Bemis, who teaches high school biology in Schenectady, gave a talk to my local humanist group based on Natalie Wexler’s book, The Knowledge Gap – The Hidden Caus… Read More
Open Marriage?
2022-08-03 12:21
I remember the Pecks’ first time at a local humanist gathering. Very ordinary looking dull folks, I thought. I remember that because deeper acquaintance has revealed remarkableness… Read More
Consciousness Revisited
2022-07-29 23:37
At the used book sale, I explained, “I’m buying this because I debated this author on this subject.” It was David Gelernter, Yale professor and computer science guru.*… Read More
Cry, The Beloved Country: South Africa
2022-07-24 00:04
The story was too good to be true. South Africa’s white-minority “apartheid” regime, oppressing the Black majority, was long decried. Then F.W. de Klerk, a reasonable ma… Read More
Sleep And Body Rhythms
2022-07-21 00:34
Sleep’s important role in health and longevity has grown increasingly apparent. Sleep well nightly and you put off the Big Sleep. I was a sickly kid. But now, at 74, my health is gr… Read More
Understanding Mass Shootings
2022-07-17 23:18
Yes — another droplet spit into the vast ocean of verbiage on this topic. We think shooters are nut cases. Obviously they’re not normal. But “mental illness” is to… Read More
The Bong Bong Problem
2022-07-15 13:21
Ferdinand Marcos, elected president of the Philippines in 1965, became a vicious kleptocratic dictator ruling by violence and torture. Overthrown in 1986. Now his son, Ferdinand Juni… Read More
Steven Pinker On Rationality
2022-07-08 13:31
(This was my July 5 Albany Library book talk; slightly condensed) Steven Pinker is a Harvard Professor of Psychology; a 600-pound intellectual gorilla of our times; author of a strin… Read More
The Trouble With This Country Is . . .
2022-07-01 23:27
Non-voting. I used to think bemoaning low voter turnouts was misguided. Because non-voters are the less engaged, less informed, not likely to enhance the electorate’s collective wis… Read More
“Servant Of The People” On Netflix
2022-06-29 13:28
Scrolling through Netflix, we stumbled on Servant of the People. A 2015 Ukrainian TV comedy series (with English subtitles).* Vasya is a young high school history teacher, whose privat… Read More
Supreme Court Insanity
2022-06-26 12:43
Just when the public is demanding, as never before, action to curb our gun violence epidemic, the Supreme Court does the opposite. Disallowing reasonable gun regulation for the sake of pu… Read More
Menthol Madness
2022-06-20 12:21
A proposed FDA ban on menthol cigarettes is being hailed as a victory for health and civil rights advocates both. Because methols are particularly favored by Black American smokers (85% use… Read More
Alternatives To Capitalism?
2022-06-12 12:50
Denounce “capitalism” or the market economy all you want – but what’s your alternative? This system was not foisted on us. Rather, it’s the natural paradigm… Read More
Hitler, Stalin, Mao . . . Putin . . .
2022-06-08 13:46
Hitler, Stalin, Mao. The Big Three. Greatest monsters of the 20th Century. Or GOAT? Well, Genghis Khan; Tamerlane; Ivan the Terrible; and others. But such figures lacked the scope to kill… Read More
Libertarianism: A Crazy Idea?
2022-06-04 23:16
I’ve always considered myself basically libertarian. Recently I read Libertarianism: A Primer, by David Boaz. Published in 1997 — it might seem an artifact from a distant past… Read More
2022-05-31 12:09
Frank Spath was my one and only client in my legal career. When I came to Albany in 1970 as a young lawyer, working for a state agency, I lived in a room (not apartment!) with no cookin… Read More
Biden Should Not Run Again
2022-05-27 16:51
I supported Biden from the start in 2020, strongly, as the candidate best positioned to save the country. I think events bore out that judgment, and I don’t regret it for a minute… Read More
Ode To Joy
2022-05-24 12:36
My wife and I visited the Benelux countries — our much anticipated first foreign trip in 2-1/2 years. My biggest takeaway impression: a civilization whose main business is living the g… Read More
Replacement Theory — Let’s Do It
2022-05-20 12:56
The “Great Replacement Theory” is yet one more thing making Republicans the Party of Crazy. A recent poll showed a third of Americans are drinking this Kool-Aid. Believing t… Read More
Trillions And Trillions
2022-05-17 00:47
No, this is not about government spending. It’s galaxies. PBS’s “Nova” science series recently had a program about the universe, with casual mention of trillions o… Read More
Republicans And The “Grooming” Lie
2022-05-07 12:37
The word “grooming” has exploded into our culture wars, a cudgel for the right to bash Democrats. The word has been used to describe a sexual predator (usually a gay male) cul… Read More
Michelle Obama’s Memoir, “Becoming”
2022-05-05 12:35
As is typical for me with such books, I was far more engaged with the story of Michelle Obama’s early life, when she was an ordinary normal person, than with the too-familiar chronicle… Read More
NY High Court Ruling May Doom America
2022-05-01 13:36
The backstory: In 2014 Governor Andrew Cuomo pushed through a constitutional amendment supposedly ending gerrymandering. This involves legislative district maps, with one party packing the o… Read More
Hell Of A Book
2022-04-28 12:47
Hell of a Book — that’s the title — by Jason Mott — is actually two different novels coexisting uneasily within one cover. One is a semi-comical first-person ac… Read More

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