Thursday, July 31, 2014


By Ronald T. Fox

NOTE:  An anonymous reader commenting on my original Cheney post (Does Dick Cheney Have Amnesia, or Is He a Hypocrite, Ideological Delusionalist, or Shameless Liar?) said I went too easy on Obama and also should have offered an opinion as to how best to characterize Cheney.  On reflection, I think these criticisms have merit.  So I have re-worked the original post, incorporating changes I think make the piece clearer and more balanced and nuanced.  Most of this new post repeats the original.  I wanted it to be inclusive for any first-time readers.    
Dick Chaney
One would think the current disintegration of Iraq would have a sobering effect on any lingering neoconservative fantasies about building a stable democracy, friendly to the U.S., through a forced regime change and occupation. No so. Judging by recent public statements the extremist insurgency that has reached the very outskirts of Baghdad has reinforced the commitment of the community of neo-conservatives, hawks, and other inhabitants of the American war machine to use military force. Their lesson, as always when military adventures fail, is that we haven’t been forceful enough. For them, the deteriorating Iraq situation presents a too-good-to-be-true opportunity for a U.S. military re-engagement and escalation. Their calls for a stronger military response to the Syrian and Ukrainian crises were thwarted. Iraq, however, presents a much better opportunity. After all, American blood was spilled there.  

The Beltway war coalition is seizing the opportunity, telling us a strong military response is necessary to vindicate shock and awe and restore U.S. credibility in the world, issues that have arisen they say because of President Obama’s weak response to emerging threats. The crisis also offers a wonderful opportunity to blame Obama for the bloody mess in Iraq and Syria, which will divert attention from their own failings and make for good politics in the November election. The “Obama lost Iraq” mantra is already a Fox News loop.

There’s something terribly wrong with this narrative, though it shouldn’t be surprising since its being communicated by the same crowd that pushed us into war in 2003. To be sure, the political and security situations in Iraq are deteriorating, but while the Obama Administration has made decisions that have helped inflame the insurgency, the lion share of blame rests with the Bush Administration's hair-brained neo-con scheme to change the Iraqi regime and then conduct a violent occupation that fomented not only Sunni, but also Shiite sectarian anger and hatred.  We are now witnessing the blowback many saw coming.   


sterling featured

By Ronald T. Fox
For his recent racist remarks and other past displays of “bad behavior,” LA Clipper owner, Donald Sterling, has been banned from the league and is being forced to sell his team. In the jury of media-driven public opinion, Sterling is guilty as charged and his punishment is both appropriate and long overdue. Signs are that the litigiously inclined Sterling will not go down without a legal fight so the next stage in this drama will likely play out in the courts. The Sterling case has me thinking about basic liberties, justice, double standards, hypocrisy and the challenges raised by a conflict between principle and action.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


ncaa featured


NOTE:  A pre-edited version of this article was circulated by mistake.  Please read this version.

In a previous post (Justice for College Athletes: Northwestern Football Players Take on the System), I applauded the fight of Northwestern football players to win the right to form a union. The March decision by the Chicago office of the NLRB to declare that college athletes were workers, and not “student athletes,” has opened the door to a process that could ultimately lead to college athletes enjoying not only the right to organize into unions, but entitle them to such benefits as unemployment insurance, workman’s compensation benefits, and a portion of the revenue generated by college sports.   While the College Athletes Players Association (CAPA), led by former Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter, is legally challenging Northwestern University, the real target by implication is the NCAA. The CAPA action is just one of five ongoing legal challenges to the power and reach of the NCAA. This post will update the various legal cases.

Friday, July 25, 2014


Since these last three responses to the initial Yossarian comment were not circulated to subscribers, I decided to circulate the following for you Catch-22 lovers:

Tuesday, July 22, 2014



1. This one comes from comments made in Nicholas Wade’s book A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History, in which he produces 250 pages of pseudo-science to rationalize racial inequality as biologically driven (it’s in the genes). He claims social behaviors, which he generalizes across races and cultures, grow out of “instinctual social behaviors” that develop separately through evolutionary biology.

Regarding Africa, in explaining why the continent has absorbed billions of dollars in aid over the past half century without improving its standard of living, he offers this profundity: “Africa is tribal and warlike and resistant to innovation because of “natural selection,”

In other words, Africa’s troubles, and those of African Americans, are a result of genetics. Someone must not have told him about the ravages of imperialism and the global impact of the slave trade.

2. Our old friend Dick Cheney is back in the news. Expressing alarm at the territorial gains by Sunni Muslim insurgents and al Qaeda jihadists and the growing influence of Iran over the current Shiite government in Iraq, he blames it all on the Obama administration. In an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal entitled The Collapsing Obama Doctrine. co-written with his daughter Liz, the Cheney team gives us this jeremiad:

“Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many. Too many times to count, Mr. Obama has told us he is “ending” the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—as though wishes made it so. His rhetoric has now come crashing into reality."  Later in the op-ed they added: “American freedom will not be secured by empty threats, meaningless red lines, leading from behind, appeasing our enemies, abandoning our allies, or apologizing for our great nation--all hallmarks to date of the Obama doctrine. Our security, and the security of our friends around the world, can only be guaranteed with a fundamental reversal of the policies of the past six years.”

Later in an interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News, the former vice-president offered this profound observation:

“President Obama is on track to securing his legacy as the man who betrayed our past and squandered our freedom.”

I’m not sure about Obama’s legacy, but Cheney’s legacy is well secured: the key point person in pushing the U.S. into an illegal, costly, and utterly disastrous war in Iraq. I elaborated on this point in a separate post ( see Is Dick Chaney an Amnesiac or a Hypocrite, an Ideological Delusionalist, or a Shameless Liar?)

3. The much disgraced Judith Miller, who carried much of the water for the weapons of mass destruction fraud that helped ramp up support for the war in Iraq, is back with this astute observation penned in a recent column:

“The Lack of Major Wars May Be Hurting Economic Growth.”

4.  Responding to Texas Governor Rick Perry's decision to send 1000 national Guard troops to the Texas-Mexican border to stop the influx of Children pouring into the U.S. illegally, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican Federal government basher who is favored to replace Perry in November,  offered this hypocrisy:

 "Texans are willing to put the boots on the ground, but we expect Washington to foot the bill." .

And the winner is:

Saturday, July 5, 2014


NOTE:  (I'm posting Jim Dubbs' comment below as a new post because it exceeds the 75-word limit on Phronesis on-post comments.  We will customarily do this when comments exceed 75 words.

Is it not also possible that historic size of these immense fines that were imposed and agreed to resulted precisely because the Feds know that it is not likely that any individual banker would be prosecuted, or even less likely, convicted?  A possible metaphor: UPS trucks are routinely issued tickets for (double) parking violations in Manhattan, while a small company truck equally violating the law is not likely to get a ticket.  The cops know that the company UPS, not the driver, pays the fines, while the driver of the small company's truck usually has to pay his own ticket.  I suggest that it is this knowledge about who pays the fine that determines who, or more accurately, what is ticketed in the first place.   And both cops and truck drivers are ultimately just working men, who can be sympathetic.

If criminal prosecution were pursued maybe there would be much lower or no fines for civil malfeasance.    It's likely a necessary trade-off; plus criminal acts are harder to prove given the more stringent rules of proof.

The sinister and simple reason: Like the working men cops and drivers, the persons on both sides in these financial cases all come from the same community.  Just consider the many former members of banking and securities enforcement agencies who end up working for firms they once were investigating.  One man's ADA is likely to become another man's corporate counsel.  (Or to quote that eminent American jurist, H. Rap Brown's definition of justice, "Just us white folks.")

Jim Dubbs


In a recent posting, I expressed disappointment that we were not receiving many responses to our postings. There may be a technical reason. It seems to make comments, and I gather also to receive emails of new postings, your cookies have to be enabled. Most desktops have cookies enabled by default, but it appears IPhones and IPads, do not. You can enable cookies yourselves on these devices by going to Settings, then Safari (or other browser, if you don’t have Apple) then to “block cookies.” You will have three choices: Always, From Third Parties and Advertisers, and Never. Your default is probably third parties and Advertisers. You will need to click on “never” if you want to post a comment on our postings. My tech adviser assures me you won’t be swamped with ads if you enable cookies, and that enabling will open up an array of useful applications. If, however, you find that enabling cookies causes you problems, you can always enable cookies (by clicking on “Never” block), send your response, then later change back to the cookies setting you prefer. If you’ve been having problems responding from your desktop, check to see if cookies are enabled.

If you’ve been frustrated by being unable to send a response, feel free to re-read any previous posting and have at it. Please note that the link to leave a comment is at the bottom of the page, a distance from the end of the last text paragraph, so you will need to scroll down.

It’s also OK to send a response via email. My email is:, and Chuck’s is I believe there is a word limit on responses launched from our blog, so if you have a lengthy comment, it’s fine to email us.