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For a decade, Robert S. Becker's rebel-rousing essays on politics and culture analyze overall trends, messaging and frameworks, now featured author at OpEdNews, Nation of Change and RSN. He appears regularly at Dissident Voice, with credits from Alternet, Salon, Truthdig, Smirking Chimp (over three years), Dandelion Salad, Beyond Chron, the SF Chronicle and others.
Educated at Rutgers College, N.J. (B.A. English) and U.C. Berkeley (M.A., Ph.D. English), Becker left university teaching (Northwestern, then U. Chicago) for business, founding and heading SOTA Industries, a top American high end audio company from '80 to '92. From '92-02, he was a half-time, anti-gravel mining activist (Cache Creek, California) while doing marketing, business and writing consulting for the Yolo County Resource Conservation District plus specialized, mainly high tech businesses. Since 2005, he seeks out insight, even wit in the shadows, without ideology or righteousness across the current mayhem of American politics.
Wednesday, October 7, 2015(36 comments)
License Politicians: Better Late Than Never
No one trusts the masses to assess heart surgeons, approve bridge construction, or certify life-saving genetic research. Why is it that "law-makers" stand alone, above the law, immune from demands to validate competence? Politics remains a glaring, backward exception: any buffoon struts into high political office and commandeers god-like powers over humanity.
Tuesday, September 29, 2015(25 comments)
Papal Stardom: Triumph of Upbeat Humanism, Skirting Dogma-driven Culture Wars
Skepticism, theology and church history aside, this Pope is still new and long may he reign, beating his oversized, disruptive drum. His powerful, comprehensive agenda, well summarized by Mike Rivage-Seul, promotes values secular humanists hold dear, and it is man, not God, who must fix our own earth.
Monday, September 21, 2015(6 comments)
Au Contraire: Trump Is No Bernie Sanders
I laugh out-loud whenever a talking head compares Sanders, whose moral leadership is about socializing the worst of capitalism, with the grandstanding, capricious, opportunistic Trumpster, mouthing whatever chicanery wins media time. What's the sense comparing Sanders as the "left-wing extremist" vs. Trump the "right-wing extremist:" one is about insurgency and the other calculated repugnancy.
Saturday, September 19, 2015(13 comments)
Trump, You're No Bernie Sanders
An amusement, triggered by the outrageous media pundit comparisons that present -- as if meaningful -- the "far-left" Sanders vs, the "far-right' Trump. This is impossible as Sanders stands for genuine and tested proposals linked to the real world whereas Trump pontificates in a fabricated closed universe of slurs and insults. The comparison is a gross logical fallacy.
Monday, September 7, 2015(11 comments)
'Free' Cash, The Irresistible Offer Trump Can't Refuse
Did it ever make sense that Trump, pitching his savvy, selfish money-making genius would suddenly embrace a total charity model for politics, especially when the price tag for winning explodes? Let's consider assumptions to explain this switcheroo.
Monday, August 31, 2015(51 comments)
Sanders the Squishy Socialist Should Ax Bogus Label
Bernie Sanders, by any classic measure, is a lousy socialist who should jettison this inflammatory, perhaps fatal misnomer. Does embracing "socialism" -- an open-ended, domestic landline -- not distract from his admirable career, his national standing or three-month campaign explosion? If winning the nomination is the goal, then why allow one term to stand in the way, providing fodder for enemies?
Wednesday, August 26, 2015(50 comments)
What Saves America from the Blight of Trumpery?
What a thought, that Trump qualifies as the most cunning, slickest GOP operative, highlighting the mind-numbing mediocrity against him. Not that Trump, spawn of Limbaugh and Palin, isn't expert at numbing gullible minds on his altar of reductionism
Saturday, August 8, 2015(89 comments)
Trump's Tantrums: Tawdry Glitz for Hoodwinked Peanut Gallery
Trump hasn't a prayer. Slick GOP operatives will not only eviscerate his flip-flopping on abortion and health care, donations to Democrats (and coziness with Clintons), but revile three Trump toxicities: 1) his full-throated trade protectionism; 2) needlessly belligerent alienation of minorities, Hispanics and women; and 3) zero party loyalty, refusing not only support for the GOP nominee but talking up third party threats.
Sunday, July 26, 2015(5 comments)
The 'Private Property' Chokehold on Equality
How extraordinary that the glaring oppression of private property remains the invisible elephant in the room. Who doubts how many huge "private" fortunes emerge after passing on huge liabilities to public shoulders from anything but "externalities" (pollution, waste, disease, ruinous landscapes)?How long can the commons survive when our most affluent free-loaders are not only "too big to fail" but "too immune to pay their own
Sunday, July 12, 2015(27 comments)
Debunking the Debased Gospel of Wealth: "1% Deserve Loot Plus Our Thanks"
Among today's most corrupt big lies, this whopper deserves ceaseless debunking: that collective affluence answers solely to a band of elite masterminds. Behold the debased Gospel of Wealth, now regurgitated with this perverse twist: The anointed elite do God's work and "create" wealth so that dependent lower classes, if they don't act up (read: rebel), get pie-in-the-sky.
Wednesday, July 1, 2015(125 comments)
Time to Transcend All Lesser Evils For the Greater Good
Obama proves what happens when a seemingly once-a-generation chance for reform is sabotaged. Sanders, with a cleaner, more progressive record, is grabbing the reform baton. The nomination aside, his disruption puts another fat nail what knee-jerk Democrats revere as "ironclad" logic: the lesser evil conundrum.
Saturday, June 20, 2015(43 comments)
Sanders the Giant Slayer -- First, Topple the Bad Queen
Sanders offers progressives the best way not to "waste time" this season. And that doesn't depend on his winning the nomination or the White House but 1) derailing the Clinton train (and WH train wreck), 2) dramatizing the unspeakably expensive "costs" to everything to sustain income and asset inequality (the issue of this era), and 3) countering voter cynicism, on the left and right,
Monday, June 8, 2015(56 comments)
Will Surging 'Sharing Economy' Drive Bottom-up Disruptions?
Whatever the imprint, dramatic breakthroughs in peer-to-peer exchanges are booming, posing large-scale challenges to topdown, over-determined corporatism. Not so much to private property, as every shareable "asset" has an owner. Overall, we're talking new livelihoods and looming horizons, especially with compelling pathways towards sharing general productivity across a far more equitable commons.
Wednesday, May 27, 2015(192 comments)
The Illegitimacy of Ginormous Wealth, Fouling Politics, Economics & Religion
When do good Americans (even the religious) realize Mammon is eating their spiritual lunch, if not America's legacy? Will the gospel of wealth continue to snooker too many people far too much of the time? The greatest positive today is the awesome clarity of inequality: not since the age of Robber Barons has the tension between abusive wealth and common good been more visibly dramatic
Monday, April 27, 2015(24 comments)
The Empire's Final Frontier: Re-Colonize the Homeland
One open-ended term captures our worsening plight -- and happily doesn't rule out insurgency, even revolution. This former English colony, after a 225 year experiment with relative freedom, is morphing back into a grim colony. That term fits even when "the empire" has no king, nor permanent kingpin, nor evinces widespread controls over all sorts of majority behavior.
Sunday, April 12, 2015(75 comments)
As Hillary Lurches, Where's the Democratic Bench?
What happens when HC dive bombs, shifting from the inevitable, presumptive nominee to an inevitable loser against centrist Jeb Bush or goofy loudmouths like Gov. Walker? What becomes "inevitable" when inevitability turns out to be a most unreliable star, when HC's global name recognition, as the best-known woman politician, becomes her worst liability?
Sunday, March 29, 2015(85 comments)
Five Reasons the Left Should Embrace Ted Cruz
There's cause aplenty to encourage Cruz' long-shot race: dinosaurs, after all, had to die off before evolution developed a more humanistic, rational mammal. Hey, fate offers us a 50-50 chance: either badness produces more badness or something better. Cruz has the best chance to abolish the status quo.
Friday, March 13, 2015(55 comments)
Knee-jerk Nullification: Impeachment Lite
There is far more self-evident misconduct to censure 47 GOP senators than even this regressive House would dare place at Obama's door. Like patriotism for Mark Twain, this cowardly war of party nullification is the last refuse of scoundrels.
Sunday, March 8, 2015(22 comments)
Will Hillary Take Plutocratic 'Clinton, Inc.' Global?
What other celebrity political duo instantly transforms any election into melodrama at best, family intrigue at worse, rife with influence peddling, suspect donations, policy failures , strategic blunders, and bungled secrecy that inevitably gets unmasked? The greatest downside to President Hillary is elevation of first female whose gender novelty promises no jolts to the grievous status quo nor the plutocracy that funds her.
Wednesday, February 25, 2015(8 comments)
Will Immigrants Who Built America Redeem It?
Immigrants, especially Hispanic and Asian, represent the most formidable critical mass against an entrenched right, whether blue collar or blue stockings gung ho to erase the very opportunity that spurred the world's greatest migration. For a reality check, FDR captures our truest legacy, "Remember always, that all of us, you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists."
Thursday, January 22, 2015(42 comments)
Re-igniting Progressive Politics: A Compact Manifesto
Without unity there is no common ground, thus paltry critical mass to renew progressive energy (and distinguish it from discredited liberalism). Is progressivism not dead if we stop asking the left to unify, work together, and translate better agendas to more voters, whatever their party labels?
Tuesday, January 6, 2015(116 comments)
What's Left of the Left?
There is our most vexing question: if progressives can't gain ground during today's hard times, full of failures at home and abroad, then when? If progressives don't gain when the right lurches between disgrace and farce, gloating with lies that scandalize reality, then when? Bright spots surface, but what notable change, especially on income distribution, speaks to unified progressive activism?
Monday, December 8, 2014(158 comments)
Prophesy, Not History, is the Real Bunk
Bogus Predictions Scorch Left and Right
Increasingly, the strident left delivers its own "End of Everything as We Know It" pronouncements, certain the dollar and economy are collapsing, world capitalism and the American empire are kaput, both national parties in death throes, indeed the impossibility of global equilibrium.
Sunday, September 21, 2014(10 comments)
The Horror! Must We Lurch Harder Right to Go Left?
Even dismal Democrats, like the broken clock, are right twice a day. Finally, is not reality the nexus of highly-predictable outcomes crashing into wildly unintended consequences. Let us ponder whether we must go right to go left. Eventually.
Sunday, August 24, 2014(5 comments)
Palin Redux: Still Crazy Dumb After All These Years
Palin's schtick is unchanged, proving this hustler only expert at PR that extorts money from willing suckers. She's the same illiterate clown six years later, proving the biggest distortion by SNL was toning down the ineducability of the zealot fundamentalist.
Wednesday, July 30, 2014(13 comments)
Impeachment Addiction Affliction: Pipe Dream, Meet Fool's Errand
One must seek ancient history, well before Clinton, to a golden age when impeachment was not the first, second and third war cry from bad losers. Why, all a president has to do these days is get elected and instantly one-third declares him unfit, dangerous and illegitimate. What country long survives when its majority choice is tainted as legitimate before the year is out?
Wednesday, July 23, 2014(8 comments)
Mocking Literalists Defy 'Literal' Science For 'Creation Myth'
My issue isn't that such fundamentalists are stupidly literalist (despite the ambiguity that is language), but that they embrace unreliable, transparently outdated literalism. Fundamentalists galore make their cosmic blunders worse by worshipping overtly child-like fables. If prudent literalism is your thing, why not instead go for something substantial, like the Principle of Conservation of Energy
Sunday, July 13, 2014(5 comments)
Run, Hillary, Run: Defy the Critics -- Expose Your Real Self, Never Say Die
The good news for Clinton objectors is Maher's warning shots, and far better advice, will fall on deaf, tin ears. Only destiny and higher powers, as in Greek tragedies, thwarts the Clintons' high drama. Maher ignores what makes Hillary run: not great legislative feats, nor leading great reform movements, nor diplomatic breakthroughs (conspicuous throughout by their absence) but unshaken, unmatched, gritty endurance.
Sunday, July 6, 2014(17 comments)
The Shifting, Double-edged Sword called 'Populism'
While fat cats get predictably bashed, how many self-declared populists deliver systemic proposals that threaten the powers-that-be? Not many. For years calling someone a "populist" was a swipe, and the left cringes when "populist" right-wingers especially militant Confederate-types, take the stage -- or when the GOP's latest "true American," Dave Brat, conquers the Cantor with populist pablum.
Wednesday, June 18, 2014(7 comments)
Regression to the Mean: Cantor Fiasco Nails Another Rightwing Coffin
The rightwing witches' brew of domestic obstructionism, seasoned with stalemate and shutdown, plods along as our reigning "philosophy" of governance. What a contrast between gridlock at home, sparing idly over protocol and celebrity imagery vs. the rapid belligerence overseas that guarantees our Rome won't burn alone.
Friday, May 30, 2014(17 comments)
War: A History According to the Tea Party (and Fox News)
First there was the Revolutionary War that was fought by the Founding Fathers in 1776 when they also wrote the Constitution and made sure that the State and Church were separated while keeping and baring arms was okay. They also wanted to end slavery and make sure that marriage was between a man and a woman, but not a black woman.
Wednesday, May 28, 2014(70 comments)
Global Monopolies Swell: Where's the Backlash?
To understand global phenomenons -- not just growing income equality, booming billionaires and record stock prices, but also climate change and international tensions -- study the first step in world's industrial production line: mastery of resources, like oil, land, water and raw minerals.
Wednesday, May 14, 2014(34 comments)
Washington Post Bashes Pope For Not Bashing Satan
Bad enough the media won't cover Ukraine accurately, or do investigative reporting on what crony banks and Wall Street ares still getting away with, or explain why endless know-nothing politics menaces national stability. But now we have a major newspaper present outlandish chicanery about the new Pope as if news reporting. If it weren't funny, there'd be no social redeeming value whatsoever. I point out the blunders.
Wednesday, April 23, 2014(61 comments)
If Reason Dies, So Goes Civilization
Here is no unqualified defense of what reason (or technology) hath wrought, as negatives of late swamp positives. Further, one doesn't have to glorify reason to favor it over the true enemy in our midst -- unreason -- flush with racial superiority, nationalistic frenzies, and knee-jerk militarism that turns troubled nations into rubble.
Wednesday, April 9, 2014(28 comments)
Folly of Predicting Anything, Especially the Future
beware all predictions, good, bad, or indifferent, especially from those you deem heroes. Too often such predictions are less about what's to come than what we already believe, feeding either wish fulfillment or the spate of recent world weariness, even despair.
Wednesday, March 26, 2014(3 comments)
Will the South Rise Again, Outgrow Tantrums & Fundamentalism?
The American majority should look upon the South not as a hotbed of extremism, or tantrum-throwing secessionists, but a great opportunity to offset inherited downsides. Already, Dixie demographics are changing, young southerners are abandoning fundamentalism, and new, darker-skinned neighbors with Hispanic names are moving in (along with older, liberal northerners). What if the South changes in the next century vs. 1914.
Tuesday, March 18, 2014(16 comments)
The Left, Talking to Itself, Sabotages the Moment
Thus, I question when the left sounds as insular as the right. Of course progressives won't ever match the bubble-headed fixations of today's extremists, rejecting evidence and method. But consider: is the left stronger now than in '08? Are progressives winning or losing the messaging wars, gaining or losing the critical new mass without which populist movements die?
Wednesday, March 5, 2014(11 comments)
The Terror of Good News
Good luck betting against the onslaught of bad news bears. Even shaky optimists are dismissed as naive or foolish, sell-outs who mine the few tarnished valuables from establishment rubble. Yet, I fear online sites are coming to ape blood-curdling local TV newscasts teeming with school shootings, infamous felonies or systemic disintegration.
Tuesday, February 11, 2014(14 comments)
Has the Republican Brand Hit Bottom Yet?
What national party ever redeemed itself with unending, conspicuous wars against voters: poor people, the unemployed, the young, unions, state employees, scientists and medical researchers, women and minorities, even defenders of legal birth control and abortion? Like God, this posse of the pious figures to create a miracle out of nothing.
Tuesday, January 28, 2014(78 comments)
A Leftwing Tower of Babble?
My decade of blogging has not dispelled a conviction in unity there is strength. The left is too much a tower of babble. Let us recall not just Ben Franklin's "We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately" but "our cause is the cause of all mankind, and that we are fighting for their liberty in defending our own."
Wednesday, January 22, 2014(21 comments)
Six Witch-hunts Inform The 'Age of Scapegoating'
No, to capture the modern spirit, especially the American narrative, a darker core emerges, thus my nomination: "Age of Scapegoating." Are our politics not obsessed with witch-hunting the innocent, providing base emotional releases through destructive rituals? Did not our latest scandal from the Christie administration prey on guiltless commuters locked down for the four-day, Fort Lee bridge calamity?
Tuesday, January 14, 2014(18 comments)
Let's Have a Scandal: Christie's Fate in Ten Acts
For context, let us recount the roughly ten stages that mark the sameness of big-time scandals. Indeed, the audacity of the opening abuse is exceeded only by the predictability of the narrative. On the heels of banksters and fraudsters, why not over-reaching thugsters caught in self-made traffic jams?
Wednesday, January 8, 2014(5 comments)
Will Democrats Swipe Rightwing Sound-bite Magic?
Two big problems remain when practicing sound-bite politics. First, loaded headlines serve a propaganda function, both by oversimplifying and/or deflecting systemic reform. Sound bites bury foundational issues under rhetorical rubble.
Elections have been won or lost on the politics of sound bites—like the last three, for starters. Let the games of ’14 begin.
Wednesday, December 25, 2013(10 comments)
NSA Rebrands with New Name & Motto: No Snooping Allowed
According to undisclosed sources, NSA will in the new year stand for No Spying Allowed, in a strategic ploy to keep intact its data-war against terrorism without offending Constitutional niceties.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013(1 comments)
'Heathcare' Pope Exhorts Catholic Geeks To Rescue ACA
Interestingly, and not without irony, both Pope Francis and President Obama share a destiny, struggling to serve the old and needy by urging younger folks to sign up and embrace their different versions of pie-in-the-sky.
Sunday, December 1, 2013(13 comments)
Buoyed by Iran, Obama Faces Down Remaining Menace: Tea Party
Discarding the gentleman's code that sabotaged his first term, the president did not back off comparing Tea Party with Iranian duplicity: "At the end of the day, what is the great difference between calculated deception by Iran, with rather limited power or intention to injure us, vs. the calculated deception by homemade upstarts with far more leverage to do permanent institutional damage?
Monday, November 25, 2013(42 comments)
New Progressive Era -- or Dead Cat Bounce?
No doubt, any newfound, progressive growth must feast on the nexus of failed, faux Obama liberalism bloodied by failed, faux Tea Party conservatism. Interestingly, both face paradigm-shifting blowback: Obamacare could doom Democratic Senate control while unstinting Tea Party idiocy jeopardizes House control
Thursday, November 14, 2013(65 comments)
Bottom-Up-Small-is-Beautiful Vs. Top-down-Monoliths
Reluctantly, I fear Rob's "bottom-up" future provides insufficient user protection or checks on corrupt corporatism. My aesthetic embraces Rob's models, but my analytic training identifies daunting problems, in the name of pragmatism and/or revolution.
Wednesday, November 6, 2013(52 comments)
So you want a revolution?
So pardon my skepticism, but permanent revolutions are rare birds, scaling more than misery, even despair. Hard times do not automatically presage something better. Peak events celebrate heroism, yet most history records feats of remarkable endurance to suffering. What, aside from high hopes, makes today so special?
Wednesday, October 23, 2013(9 comments)
Bravo, Tea Party, Bulwark for Nonstop Demagogues
Name another gang that so fluidly uncovers new heroes to replace fallen champions for, like Halloween cemetery goblins, an inexhaustible parade of goons and buffoons marches on. Here finally is what the Tea Party does best: pinpointing pinheads of demagogic dogmatism, an army of toy Christian soldiers marching as to war, okay, the wrong time at the wrong time.
Wednesday, October 16, 2013(41 comments)
Age of Apocalypse: Where Right & Left Intersect
Hail the Age of Apocalypse, well beyond the 20th C.'s Age of Anxiety or the 19th C.'s Great Awakening. While belief systems diverge widely partisans rounding out the edges sound a similar drum: our world is crashing -- doomed by financial, cultural, religious and/or environmental collapse. The end isn't just near but encircling us, and doomsday criers only wonder that the terminal patient is still breathing.
Monday, October 7, 2013(4 comments)
In Rightwing Crosshairs, Shutting Down Majority Rule
If nothing breaks, thuggish House rubes trump the Senate, the White House, federal agencies, and a growing majority aghast at leaps off the cliff solely to dramatize one's purity. Who let the howling dogs in?
Tuesday, October 1, 2013(10 comments)
GOP Lemmings 'Rebrand' -- Beyond the 'Party of Stupid'
Knee-jerk House tantrums hit new comic highs as the Wily E. Coyote party continued its madcap leap to self-destruction. Can't zealots who hate government find more imaginative ways not to govern? The latest cartoon antics only dramatize what happens when the party of stupid redefines itself downward.
Monday, September 16, 2013(16 comments)
It's a Wrap: Obama is No Bush Warmonger
Apparently, short of invasion, no president named Obama will hawk the audacity of war with the urgency of now. What klutz orchestrates a remote, one-shot war without rounding up home troops, political and otherwise, in advance?
Thursday, September 5, 2013(28 comments)
Behold the Obama Miracle: Finally Uniting Red and Blue
Hallelujah and hosannas, God works in such mysterious ways! And the next wondrous aspect is that unity comes so far with zero bloodshed, no stomping imperial boots, and no expense in cruise missile billions in a waste of shame.
Tuesday, September 3, 2013(7 comments)
'Devout Non-ideologue' Turns OBombardier
Let me get this: our wariest, pragmatist-in-chief, the cautious-to-a-fault "devout non-ideologue," singles out Syria as the moral hill he wants to die. Then, displaying real class when pushed to win Congressional support, he declares in advance no commander-in-chief is beholden to representative government.
Monday, August 12, 2013(13 comments)
The Debacle of Electing Two Gullible, Empty Shells
Obama and Bush share far more than maddening continuity on militarism, spying or anti-terrorism abuses, and corporate welfare. Equally under-prepared for Washington crossfire, both susceptible neophytes rushed to over-delegate power and judgment, conceding huge deficiencies.