San Francisco Supervisors Could Wade Into Israel-Hamas Firestorm This Week

Written by Josh Koehn and Mike Ege

Updated at Dec. 04, 2023 • Published Dec. 01, 2023 • (

Supervisor Dean Preston calls for the governor and state Legislature to include additional funding for public transportation in the annual budget during a press conference at San Francisco City Hall on April 18, 2023. | Justin Katigbak for The Standard

Supervisor Dean Preston has been circulating a draft of a resolution about the Israel-Hamas conflict to fellow supervisors.

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors could consider a resolution on the Israel-Hamas conflict this week, a lightning-rod issue that is increasingly dividing elected officials and their constituents across the country. 

Supervisor Dean Preston has been circulating a draft of the resolution to fellow supervisors, though exactly what language might be introduced remained unclear as of Friday. 

“Our office is still in conversation with various stakeholders and colleagues on finalizing language for a ceasefire resolution,” Preston’s office said in an email. “The final text will be available at introduction.”

Protesters wave Palestinian flags under a foggy sky outside San Francisco City Hall.
Demonstrators rally in front of San Francisco City Hall on Saturday. The crowd of several hundred expressed support for Palestinians in Gaza and called on San Francisco officials to take a stand on the Israel-Hamas conflict. | Source:Julie Makinen/The Standard

Multiple sources said Preston has been urged to introduce a resolution by fellow members of the Democratic Socialists of America’s local chapter, as well as Arab and Muslim groups in San Francisco. The California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Bay Area chapter of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center issued a call for people to show up at Tuesday’s board meeting to publicly comment in support of the resolution. 

Dozens of protesters gathered in front of Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco home on Sunday to demand that the former House speaker call for a permanent cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. On Saturday, hundreds of demonstrators rallied at City Hall, speaking out on behalf of Palestinians.

Since the war in Gaza started, arguments on all sides of the issue have done little to bring about consensus while inflaming tensions, leading to a rise in antisemitism and Islamophobia. Oakland’s City Council held a volatile meeting last week in which a resolution calling for a cease-fire in Gaza was approved unanimously. However, councilmembers were criticized for not including language that condemned and called for the removal of Hamas.

Whether San Francisco supervisors could come to a consensus on a resolution regarding the conflict in Gaza is unclear, although multiple supervisors suggested the discussion itself will likely ignite a firestorm that not only has no impact on the war but also distracts time and attention from the supervisors’ work here at home.

In addition to Preston, Supervisors Aaron Peskin, Myrna Melgar, Rafael Mandelman and Hillary Ronen are Jewish. Ronen’s father is from Israel and served as a paratrooper in the Israeli Defense Forces. 

Melgar told The Standard that she is aware of the resolution and “absolutely nothing but hurt can come” from bringing it to the Board of Supervisors. Peskin said he received a draft copy of the resolution but was not working on it with Preston.

Supervisor Matt Dorsey confirmed the draft resolution was being circulated but was unable to share it.

“At this point, I’m engaging in private conversations about it, doing some community outreach on the topic and reserving judgment,” Dorsey said.

More than 14,000 people have been killed in Gaza since the start of the war, including roughly 10,000 women and children, according to the New York Times. A weeklong cease-fire started on Nov. 24, reportedly resulting in the release of 100 hostages taken by Hamas and nearly 250 Palestinians from Israeli jails. But the truce in Gaza was broken Friday.

Numerous demonstrations have taken place across the Bay Area since the first days of the war, including a shutdown of the Bay Bridge during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit that brought world leaders to San Francisco last month.

On Oct. 9, two days after Hamas’ initial incursion into Israel, Preston released an official statement stating that he was “heartbroken” by the violence and called Israel’s announcement of a “complete siege” of the Gaza strip “unconscionable.” 

He added that he stood “in solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle for freedom and an end to the occupation.” Preston then sent out a clarifying statement condemning the Hamas attack and Israel’s response after being criticized by local Jewish leaders.

On Friday, the Raoul Wallenberg Democratic Club sent a message to members, saying Preston was “working with the same antisemitic groups that brought shame and disgrace to other municipalities” to introduce a similar resolution in San Francisco.

The message urged club members to contact supervisors to express opposition to the resolution, which it said “will only further inflame tensions between already traumatized Muslim and Jewish communities and create a forum for hate.”

Josh Koehn can be reached at
Mike Ege can be reached at

Cowardly For-Profit Journalism Is Bringing Trump’s Fascism Back to Our Door

Trump supporter

Supporters of former US President Donald Trump gather near his residence at Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, on August 9, 2022. 

(Photo by Giorgio VIERA / AFP)

For voters to make intelligent decisions about candidates, they must be well-informed. Sadly, that is very much not what is happening today in America. If we don’t confront this crisis, democracy itself will pay the price.


Dec 02, 2023 Common Dreams

Over at his excellent Substack newsletter , former Labor Secretary Robert Reich asks the question that’s probably on the minds of many: “Why are so many people prepared to vote for Trump?”

After all, there have been at least seven national polls conducted by reputable organizations in the past few weeks and not a single one shows Biden beating Trump in a 2024 matchup.

Reich cites the many crimes, lies, and outright fascistic statements attributed to Trump, followed by the considerable list of Biden’s accomplishments, and then offers a poll asking if people say they’re voting for America’s first true wannabee dictator because of ignorance, anger/fear, racism/xenophobia, or Biden’s age.

All are no doubt significant factors, but I believe the largest variable in Americans’ willingness to say they’ll vote for Trump is far simpler: the consequence of yellow journalism.

I’m not talking about a simple left/right bias, a political preference held by reporters or publishers and editors of the nation’s major media outlets. While there’s a strong case to be made for billion-dollar corporations and multimillionaire media personalities having a preference for low taxes and deregulation, for example, the bias I’m referencing has to do with spectacle .

Generations ago, we referred to newspapers that emphasized scandal and celebrity intrigue as “yellow journalism.” The phrase dates back to the 1890s when William Randolph Hearst bought, in 1895, the Journal , a New York newspaper that he used to successfully compete with Joseph Pulitizer’s then-dominant New York World .

Hearst hired away from Pulitzer’s papers a number of famous writers along with Richard Outcault, then arguably the nation’s most famous cartoonist, who penned the wildly popular series called The Yellow Kid . Between Outcault’s draw and Hearst’s emphasis on celebrity and sensationalism, from the 1890s until the WWII era, “yellow journalism” dominated the American media scene.

It quite literally took World War II to push public demand for real news and serious reporting — and a new emphasis on fact-based reporting and substance over flash — back into media dominance. It birthed what became the era of Walter Cronkite and Catherine Graham, with honest, credible reporting on everything from Nixon’s Watergate crimes to the horrors of the Kennedy assassination and the Vietnam War.

Cronkite competed with Huntley and Brinkley based on the quality of their reporting and the credibility of their sources, as did the nation’s major and even regional newspapers and radio news networks.

I trace the modern era of yellow journalism to the 1990s, when the nation was transfixed by Newt Gingrich and Ken Starr’s relentless and pornographic pursuit of Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky.

After Reagan ended enforcement of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, radio and TV stations were no longer burdened by the requirement to “program in the public interest” to maintain their broadcast licenses; all three major TV networks moved their news divisions — which had universally been losing money because of the requirement for “real news” — under the arm of their entertainment divisions, where they remain to this day and have now become significant profit centers.

Rush Limbaugh’s 1988 national syndication and Rupert Murdoch’s 1996 Fox “News” set the tone for this era’s new yellow journalism, frontloading — as did Hearst back in the day — personality, celebrity, and scandal over the boring details of policy, debate, and the consequence of congressional and presidential decisions.

The “yellow” of this era’s “yellow journalism,” I’d argue, more accurately means “cowardly,” now that nobody remembers the cartoon of the 1890s. And, unlike the 1890s when there were still papers engaging in serious journalism, today’s yellow journalism is ubiquitous across the media consumed by the majority of Americans.

As a consequence, a September Wall Street Journal poll found that 52% of voters today claim that Trump “has a strong record of accomplishments” but only 40% say the same for Biden.

And now the researchers are beginning to weigh in, documenting how 21st century yellow journalism has altered our political landscape and led to the rise of the ultimate scandal/celebrity/personality spectacle: Donald Trump and his fascist cult followers.

The Columbia Journalism Review , arguably the premiere watchdog of American news reporting, just published a scathing indictment of political coverage in The New York Times and The Washington Post .

Because these newspapers are so widely read and respected, they tend to set the agenda and tone for most other reporting in the United States, and what the Review found was shocking :

“Both emphasized the horse race and campaign palace intrigue, stories that functioned more to entertain readers than to educate them on essential differences between political parties. …

“By the numbers, of four hundred and eight articles on the front page of the Times during the period we analyzed, about half—two hundred nineteen—were about domestic politics. A generous interpretation found that just ten of those stories explained domestic public policy in any detail; only one front-page article in the lead-up to the midterms really leaned into discussion about a policy matter in Congress: Republican efforts to shrink Social Security.

“Of three hundred and ninety-three front-page articles in the Post, two hundred fifteen were about domestic politics; our research found only four stories that discussed any form of policy. The Post had no front-page stories in the months ahead of the midterms on policies that candidates aimed to bring to the fore or legislation they intended to pursue. Instead, articles speculated about candidates and discussed where voter bases were leaning.”

This is the exact same type of yellow journalism “reporting” that led up to the 2016 election and brought us Donald Trump as president, and is a clear echo of the days of Hearst’s New York Journal .

But it’s not just selective reporting of the news of the day with a heavy tilt toward the GOP (or, more correctly, a steady refusal to report on the accomplishments of Biden and Democrats).

Another factor that Hearst played on heavily and has come to dominate what passes today for journalism is the inversion of expectation.

As any comedian can tell you, an involuntary laugh response comes when a person thinks they know what’s coming next and is then, instead, surprised by the unexpected.

“I just flew in from New York,” Red Skelton used to famously say, deadpan. “Boy, are my arms tired!”

In his 1941 book American Journalism. A History of Newspapers in the United States through 250 Years, 1690 to 1940 , Frank Luther Mott famously noted the hallmark of Hearst’s time:

“When a dog bites a man, that is not news, because it happens so often. But if a man bites a dog, that is news.”

In today’s yellow journalism era, reporters are far more interested in “man bites dog” stories than in examining the factors and history that may have provoked that bite, or even covering in any detail the frequency of dogs biting people.

The latest example comes from an in-depth analysis done by Media Matters comparing Hillary Clinton’s private comment about Trump’s followers being “a basket of deplorables” and Trump’s very public proclamation, literally echoing Hitler, that some of us are “vermin” who he intends to “root out” and eliminate from American society.

Clinton is a reasonable and thoughtful politician and former diplomat, so her “deplorables” comment was seen by our yellow press as “man bites dog.”

Trump, on the other hand, is a sadistic fascist whose call for the extermination of his political opponents could reasonably be expected: “dog bites man.”

The data proves the thesis, as Media Matters notes:

“Media Matters reviewed the nationally syndicated broadcast news shows — ABC’s Good Morning America, World News Tonight, and This Week; CBS’ This Morning, Mornings, Evening News, and Face the Nation; and NBC’s Today, Nightly News, and Meet the Press — in the first week after each remark.
“We found that those programs aired 54 minutes of coverage of Clinton’s ‘deplorables’ comment but just 3 minutes regarding Trump’s ‘vermin’ remark.
“ABC News aired 20 minutes of ‘deplorables’ coverage across 13 segments and 3 teasers, but devoted only a single minute of coverage to the ‘vermin’ comment, during an interview with the network’s chief Washington correspondent, Jonathan Karl, about his new book.
“CBS News provided 13 minutes of ‘deplorables’ coverage across 11 segments and 3 teasers, compared to 1 passing mention of the ‘vermin’ remark on Face the Nation that comprised less than 30 seconds.
“And NBC News spent 21 minutes of airtime on the ‘deplorables’ comment across 11 segments, compared to 2 minutes on ‘vermin’ — one a passing mention, the other an interview in which Meet the Press moderator Kristen Welker read the comment to Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel and asked her, ‘Are you comfortable with this language coming from the GOP front-runner?’ (McDaniel declined to comment.)”

Cable news (CNN, Fox “News,” and MSNBC) wasn’t much different:

“On CNN, there were 553 mentions of ‘deplorable’ compared to 70 for ‘vermin.’
“On Fox News, there were 513 mentions of ‘deplorable’ compared to only 9 of ‘vermin.’
“And on MSNBC, there were 596 mentions of ‘deplorables’ compared to only 112 of ‘vermin.’

The reporters at Media Matters then turned their attention to the nation’s five largest newspapers by circulation: “the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post — in the first week following each remark.”

Here, they found the pattern repeated.

The LA Times published 3 articles about Clintons “deplorables” comment, two on the front page. But not even one single article during the week after Trump mentioned “vermin” made any reference whatsoever about his remark.

The New York Times had seven articles about Clinton’s comment, four on the front page; like the LA Times , there wasn’t a single news story mentioning Trump’s ‘vermin’ comment during that time period.

The Wall Street Journal similarly ignored Trump’s comment altogether, but ran 8 articles about Clinton’s faux pax , four of them on the front page.

The Washington Post at least mentioned Trump’s comment once, on page A2 (including it in the headline), but gave Clinton’s remark 9 stories, one on the front page, with five using the word “deplorables” in the headline.

USA Today covered Clinton’s comment in 2 news articles but, like three of the other four papers completely ignored Trump’s.

So far as I can tell there’s been no similar analysis of Obama’s leaked comment about Pennsylvania voters in areas that had been deindustrialized by Reagan’s neoliberal free trade policies and the GOP’s destruction of the trade union movement.

“And it’s not surprising then they get bitter,” Obama told a closed-door group of donors, “they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

The coverage at the time almost completely ignored the context of Obama’s remarks and, instead, focused on the “man bites dog” of a Black politician criticizing rural white voters.”

This Tuesday, Trump demanded “the government” must “come down hard” and “punish” MSNBC because Lawrence O’Donnell criticized him on-air.

In any other democratic nation a leading politician calling for the censorship or punishment of a media outlet would be front page news. Here in America, it was only covered by Deadline , a newspaper that covers Hollywood, and on Lawrence’s own show.

At the same time, while our economy in many ways is doing better than it has since the 1960s, there’s virtually no mention of that in the media, either. It doesn’t bleed, so it doesn’t lede.

As a result, The Wall Street Journal reported last week:

“Only 36% of voters in a new Wall Street Journal/NORC survey said the American dream still holds true, substantially fewer than the 53% who said so in 2012 and 48% in 2016 in similar surveys of adults by another pollster.”

Not only has this era’s yellow journalism facilitated the rise of a fascist demagogue and his cult; it has altogether warped Americans’ view of objective reality.

To paraphrase Clinton’s 1992 campaign, the answer to Reich’s plaintive question about why more voters are going for Trump than Biden regardless of the realities in the fact-based world: “It’s the media, stupid.” (With the highest respect for Reich.)

It’s almost a cliche these days to complain about the “infotainment” we see in TV and radio “news” reporting that has come about in the wake of Reagan ending enforcement of the Fairness Doctrine, but to see this same type of horserace coverage passing as news on the front pages of the nation’s largest newspapers is, frankly, a crime against our democracy.

For voters to make intelligent decisions about candidates, they must be well-informed. Sadly, that is very much not what is happening today in America, and our era’s yellow journalism bodes ill for the 2024 elections and the future of our democratic republic.

What can be done about this?

In 1983, President Reagan directed the DOJ, FTC, and SEC to essentially stop enforcing our nation’s antitrust laws. As a result, our media has been massively consolidated and is more driven by corporate boardrooms’ profit considerations than any thought about the future of our nation.

For example, today more than half of all our country’s local newspapers are owned by a handful of New York-based hedge funds.

Nonetheless, America’s media is not immune to pressure and demands from the public. Most media organizations allow for comments on their articles, letters to the editor, or simply private, typically email, feedback from readers.

Both Thomas Jefferson and Alexis de Toqueville famously highlighted the critical importance to our democracy of a free and independent press.

Now that our nation’s massive media corporations have failed so tragically in their obligation to inform the public and hold power to account, that job falls to us.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.


Thom Hartmann is a talk-show host and the author of “The Hidden History of Monopolies: How Big Business Destroyed the American Dream” (2020); “The Hidden History of the Supreme Court and the Betrayal of America” (2019); and more than 25 other books in print.

Full Bio >

On Top of Everything Else, Henry Kissinger Prevented Peace in the Middle East

Let’s not forget that Kissinger’s crimes included the deaths of thousands of Arabs and Israelis.

Jon Schwarz

November 30 2023, 2:52 p.m. (

JERUSALEM - SEPTEMBER 1:  (NO U.S. TABLOID SALES)  U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger at the King David Hotel September 1, 1975 in Jerusalem, Israel.  (Photo by David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)
Photo: David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images

THE ENCOMIUMS HAVE flowed voluminously for Henry Kissinger, and there have been some condemnations too. But even in the latter, little attention has been paid to his efforts to prevent peace from breaking out in the Mideast — efforts which helped cause the 1973 Arab–Israeli War and set in stone the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. This underappreciated aspect of Kissinger’s career adds tens of thousands of lives to his body count, which is in the millions.

Kissinger, who died at 100 on Wednesday, served in the U.S. government from 1969 to 1977, during the Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford administrations. He began as Nixon’s national security adviser. Then, in Nixon’s second term, he was appointed secretary of state, a position he held on to after Ford became president following Nixon’s resignation.

In June 1967, two years before the start of Nixon’s presidency, Israel had achieved a gigantic military victory in the Six-Day War. Israel attacked Egypt and occupied Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula, and, following modest responses from Jordan and Syria, also took over the West Bank and the Golan Heights. 

In the following years, the ultimate fallout from the war — in particular, what, if any, of the new territory Israel would be able to keep — was still fluid. In 1968, the Soviets made what appeared to be quite sincere efforts to collaborate with the U.S. on a peace plan for the region.


Henry Kissinger, Top U.S. Diplomat Responsible for Millions of Deaths, Dies at 100

Nick Turse

All the Times Israel Has Rejected Peace With Palestinians

Jon Schwarz

Two Months That Shook the World: The First Phase of the Gaza War


The Soviets proposed a solution based on United Nations Security Council Resolution 242. Israel would withdraw from the territory it had conquered. However, there would not be a Palestinian state. Moreover, Palestinian refugees from the 1948 Arab–Israeli War would not return to Israel; rather, they would be resettled with compensation in Arab countries. Most importantly, the Soviets would pressure their Arab client states to accept this. 

This was significant because at this point, many Arab countries, Egypt in particular, were allies of the Soviets and relied on them for arms supplies. Hosni Mubarak, who later became Egypt’s president and/or dictator for 30 years, started out as a pilot in the Egyptian air force and received training in Moscow and Kyrgyzstan, which was a Soviet republic at the time.

When Nixon took office in 1969, William Rogers, his first secretary of state, took the Soviet stance seriously. Rogers negotiated with Anatoly Dobrynin, the Soviet ambassador to the U.S., for most of the year. This produced what American diplomat David A. Korn, then assigned to Tel Aviv, Israel, described as “a comprehensive and detailed U.S. proposal for a settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict.” 

One person prevented this from going forward: Henry Kissinger. Backstage in the Nixon administration, he worked assiduously to prevent peace.

This was not due to any great personal affection felt by Kissinger for Israel and its expansionist goals. Kissinger, while Jewish, was happy to work for Nixon, perhaps the most volubly antisemitic president in U.S. history, which is saying something. (“What the Christ is the matter with the Jews?” Nixon once wondered in an Oval Office soliloquy. He then answered his own question, explaining, “I suppose it’s because most of them are psychiatrists.”)

Rather, Kissinger perceived all the world through the prism of the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Any settlement at the time would require the involvement of the Soviets, and hence was unacceptable to him. At a period when it appeared in public that an agreement with the Soviets might be imminent, Kissinger told an underling — as he himself recorded in his memoir “White House Years” — that was not going to happen because “we did not want a quick success [emphasis in the original].” In the same book, Kissinger explained that the Soviet Union later agreed to principles even more favorable to Israel, so favorable that Kissinger himself didn’t understand why the Soviets acceded to them. Nevertheless, Kissinger wrote, “the principles quickly found their way into the overcrowded limbo of aborted Middle East schemes — as I had intended.”

The results were catastrophic for all involved. Anwar el-Sadat, then Egypt’s president, announced in 1971 that the country would make peace with Israel based on conditions in line with Rogers’s efforts. However, he also explicitly said that a refusal of Israel to return Sinai would mean war.

On October 6, 1973, it did. Egypt and Syria attacked occupied Sinai and the Golan Heights, respectively. Their initial success stunned Israeli officials. Defense Minister Moshe Dayan was convinced Israel might be conquered. Moreover, Israel was running out of war matériel and desperately needed to be resupplied by the U.S.

Kissinger made sure America dragged its feet, both because he wanted Israel to understand who was ultimately in charge and because he did not want to anger the oil-rich Arab states. His strategy, as another top diplomat put it, was to “let Israel come out ahead, but bleed.”


Henry Kissinger, History’s Bloodiest Social Climber

You can read this in Kissinger’s own words in the records of internal deliberations now available on the State Department website. On October 9, Kissinger told his fellow high-level officials, “My assessment is a costly victory [for Israel] without a disaster is the best.”

The U.S. then did send huge amounts of weaponry to Israel, which it used to beat back Egypt and Syria. Kissinger looked upon the outcome with satisfaction. In another high-level meeting, on October 19, he celebrated that “everyone knows in the Middle East that if they want a peace they have to go through us. Three times they tried through the Soviet Union, and three times they failed.”

The cost to humans was quite high. Over 2,500 members of the Israeli military died. 10,000-20,000 were killed on the Arab side. This is in line with Kissinger’s belief — recorded in “The Final Days” by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein — that soldiers are “dumb, stupid animals to be used” as pawns in foreign policy.

After the war, Kissinger returned to his strategy of obstructing any peaceful settlement. In another of his memoirs, he recorded that in 1974, just before Nixon resigned, Nixon told him to “cut off all military deliveries to Israel until it agreed to a comprehensive peace.” Kissinger quietly stalled for time, Nixon left office, and it didn’t come up with Ford as president.

There’s much more to this ugly story, all available at your local library. It can’t be said to be the worst thing that Kissinger ever did — but as you remember the extraordinary bill of indictment for him, make sure to leave a little room for it.


Jon​ X

PDA Sunday Progressive Town Hall, December 3, 2023 with Omer Bartov

PDAMERICA • Streamed live 5 hours ago Since the outbreak of the Israel/Gaza conflagration few voices have stood out in English language media like Omer Bartov, a Brown University professor, who has emphasized the necessity of re-launching negotiations for a political settlement. We are honored to be joined by him this Sunday at 4pm ET/1pm PT. RSVP Now! The reason that Omer Bartov’s words have resonated with so many people is simple: His proposals are judicious and make a ton of sense. In an appearance on Democracy Now! on November 1oth, Professor Bartov, an Israeli-American scholar of the Holocaust and Genocide Studies, spoke of a proposed solution to the longstanding crisis in Israel and occupied Palestine that can be thought of as between a one-state and a two-state solution—something that I call a confederated solution. It was the first I had heard of such a proposal, and in Professor Bartov’s compassionate voice—one that doesn’t deny the gross inequalities and injustices of the occupation, or turn a blind eye to the horror of the past eight weeks—the proposal struck me as something that progressives needed to hear about and seriously consider. This is truly a Town Hall of the utmost importance.


The modern right-wing has its roots in a particular historical event

Douglas Giles, PhD

Douglas Giles, PhD

4 days ago (

An excerpt from my forthcoming book, Left Wing, Right Wing, People, and Power.

Burke, Edmund Burke, stirred but not shaken

The earliest uses of “Left” and “Right” in politics did not reflect political philosophies or ideologies. Instead, they indicated support for or opposition to a particular government. “Left” and “Right” as relative terms came from their first uses in the days of the French Revolution. In 1789 in the French Legislative Assembly, supporters of the king chose to group themselves sitting to the right of the assembly president, and opponents of the king sat opposite them on the left. The French newspapers of the time used the terms “the Left” and “the Right” to describe the opposing sides, and the usage spread throughout Europe.

Political groups in the 1790s used “Left” and “Right” to express common ground with one or the other side during the French Revolution. Before long, all political movements opposed to a sitting government were called “the Left,” with “the Right” referring to those who supported that government.

The French Legislative Assembly members who, in 1791, sat to the right of the assembly president were united by a common cause to maintain the position of the king, Louis XVI. On the one hand, their politics were a continuation of an old order that had been in place for centuries. On the other hand, their politics were a response to new events unfolding in their nation. Out of a blend of old ideas and new realities was crafted the philosophy of conservatism, the precursor to the various movements today that can be classified as right-wing.

There are three main trajectories of right-wing thought — conservatism, reactionism, and libertarianism. They are at times starkly different, but they share a fundamental belief on how power should be structured. I will discuss reactionism and libertarianism later, but first, I will address the philosophy that preceded the other two, conservatism.

The Father of Conservatism

Edmund Burke (1729–1797) is widely regarded as the father of conservative thought because of his philosophical attack on the French Revolution. He was English, but he sympathized with the French right-wingers and their cause. Burke was no absolutist, though. As a member of Parliament, he supported laws to curtail the power of the English king. His concerns were to conserve what he saw as the proper political power structure and the validity of the status and hierarchy of the aristocracy.

In Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790), Burke condemned the French revolutionary attempts to tear down the old traditional power structure and replace it with a new power structure based on rationality. Burke responded that no single generation has the right to destroy what has been built by many earlier generations. He advocated a balanced view that rulers should be responsive to the views and needs of its subjects and to the reality of social change, but that there must be a connection to tradition. The proper way to address change is to apply the values embodied in tradition to new circumstances. A nation’s traditions, Burke argued, are the repository of civilization, the source of ethical life, and the arbiter even of reason itself.

Burke’s appeal was not to, as Hobbes had appealed, the power of a sovereign, but to the broader power structure of the aristocracy. Burke’s claim was that the aristocratic institutional system of prescriptive rights and customs, had grown out of a process cultivated by learned men of the past. We should thus, with devotion akin to religion, revere this product of generations of collective intelligence and adapt it to present circumstances. We should, he insisted, presume in favor of any settled scheme of government against any untried project, because we have long existed and flourished within traditional methods and institutions.

The revolutionaries’ demand for a new power structure horrified Burke, especially in the violent manner in which they were trying to achieve it. Burke believed in citizens’ political involvement, but in the context of a body politic that delineates social ranks. A social hierarchy, he thought, was necessary for the wiser to be able to enlighten the weaker and less knowledgeable. He saw democracy as a dangerous abstract rule of mere numbers. A nation and its decision-making must be guided by the responsible rule of a hereditary aristocracy. Institutions can change and grow, but only in response to tangible social needs, never because of novel ideas or desires, and change should only happen gradually within the spirit of the nation’s tradition.

The Burkean Worldview

Burke’s rebuttal to the revolutionaries’ demands for changes in the power structure set the philosophical tone for the right-wing worldview regarding change. Central to the conservative worldview is the preference for tradition. Conservatism includes, if not requires, a resistance to principles outside of and especially contrary to established traditions and cultural realities.

The conservative worldview motivates people to political actions that seek to conserve that are viewed as tried and tested traditions. It rests on what Burke called the “latent wisdom” of prejudice — customary judgments which have accumulated over the generations. In this context, prejudice is not bigotry, though it may degenerate into it. It is a pre-judgment — the attitude that the truth has already been found, the answer has already been given, there is no need to discuss it further.

Also inherent to the worldview of Burkean conservatism is the notion that communities are held together not by independent thinking and acting but by an acceptance of membership and duty. Unity comes from one feeling that one has a place in the community even though it be but a lowly one. Being a member of a community, and being a citizen of a nation, obligates one to carry the moral burdens that one’s status traditionally imposes.

There is in Burkean conservatism a form of quietism, of knowing one’s place and accepting it. According to John Gray,

conservatism’s fundamental insight is that persons’ identities cannot be matters of choice, but are conferred on them by their unchosen histories, so that what is most essential about them is…what is most accidental. The conservative vision is that people will come to value the privileges of choice…when they see how much in their lives must always remain unchosen.”[1]

This insight reflected the traditional feudal power structure of sovereign, nobles, and serfs. It is certainly the case that one’s freedom of choice is limited by life circumstances, but conservatism gave a rational justification for an attitude of resignation to circumstances.

In all fairness, Burke placed the moral burden of accepting one’s unchosen history on the upper class, not just on the lower classes. Clearly, the aristocracy was more privileged than the working classes, but with that privilege came the obligation to use one’s position in service of the nation. The good of the nation was what was important, and this was the good that all classes should serve.

Burke stated that rulers needed to take into consideration the interests of the citizenry, but he considered interests as belonging, not to individuals, but to social groups such as the merchant class and the landowner class. The primary social group is the nation itself. An elected representative to government, Burke said, represents not the interests of a geographical area but of the common good of the nation. A representative in Parliament, of which Burke was one, should not be bound to the interests and inclinations of individual constituencies, because “government and legislation are matters of reason and judgment, and not of inclination.”[2]

It could be said that Burke and those who followed his conservative ideas on the social hierarchy are guilty of falling on the wrong side of the is-ought problem. David Hume identified the is-ought problem by separating empirical realities from value judgments. Hume stated that we cannot argue from descriptive statements of what is to prescriptive statements of what ought to be. Our ethical judgments cannot legitimately be derived from observation of how things are in the world.[3]

Contrary to Hume’s admonition, because conservatism places its faith in tradition as received wisdom, it is inclined to accept what is as what ought to be. The Burkean worldview accepts the values embodied in tradition and the need to consent to one’s unchosen history, one’s place in society. In practice, conservatism was and is a rejection of changes to the power structure, appealing to presence of tradition as the ethical verification for the rejection.

Alexander Hamilton. The real one did not sing.

The Federalists

When the American colonies fought a war seeking succession from Great Britain in the 1770s, Burke largely approved. For Burke, the American revolt was fundamentally different than the later French Revolution, and this speaks to the heart of conservative thinking. Whereas the French revolutionaries wanted to dismantle the old power structure and replace it, the American rebels sought a much less radical restructuring. Burke saw the colonies’ revolt not as a radical innovation but as a restoration of the rights and privileges of the wealthy class in those colonies. He had for the same reason approved of England’s so-called Glorious Revolution of 1688 that had replaced the legitimate sovereign, King James II, with one more agreeable to the interests of the aristocracy.

The Federalists in the newly formed United States were a group of wealthy landowners and merchants who supported the American War of Independence. They were successionists who thought that King George III and the British Parliament had too much power over the colonies, sidelining and ignoring their interests. Most Federalists were anti-monarchists, not just opposed to George III’s method of rule, but against the idea of a political structure of a single sovereign.

After the colonies won the war and gained independence, the Federalists as a political faction advocated for a political structure for the new country in which a federal government united the former colonies under the general sovereignty of a Federal government. States maintained some autonomy but were not sovereign states. Importantly, the new government would not be headed by a hereditary monarch. Equally important, the new government would be representative of the geographical territories of the states, though the representatives would be selected by the upper class. The Federalists were aristocrats in all but name, and wanted to increase the power of their class, not to the “lower” classes.

Leaders of the Federalist faction were Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison, who later left the Federalist faction. As political thinkers, they wrote the Federalist Papers, published in 85 volumes in 1787 and 1788. In those publications, they argued for a central government of sufficient strength to safeguard the good of the nation. Its primary topic was a detailed defense of the provisions of the new US Constitution, aiming to persuade voters in the states to ratify the Constitution. A common secondary topic was to warn against the dangers from foreign intervention, dissention between the states, and domestic insurrection. Consistent throughout the Federalist Papers was the conservative idea that power should primarily be held by a central government. As described by John Jay in the “Federalist №2” publication.

Nothing is more certain than the indispensable necessity of government, and it is equally undeniable, that whenever and however it is instituted, the people must cede to it some of their natural rights in order to vest it with requisite powers.[4]

On the one hand, the American experiment of founding a new nation was novel, but on the other hand it was conservative in that its innovations were grounded within a valuing of traditional power structures.

Like Burke, the Federalists favored the wealthy class as more capable of ruling the nation, and thus rejected democracy, widespread suffrage, and open elections. Forming a political party, the Federalists were a dominant force in Congress and advanced a legislative agenda based on their conservative principles. Most notably, they passed the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798 that restricted freedom of speech and freedom of the press, ostensibly to protect the nation from enemies.

Consistently, the Federalists, as political thinkers and political party, advocated a conservative agenda of a power structure of national over state government, and policies that favored banks, manufacturers, and protectionism of American business. During the Federalist era — the first years of the US nation, 1789 to 1800 — the Federalist faction consciously attempted to establish a new tradition for the new country. Their vision was a social power structure based on conservative principles of tradition and hierarchical power applied to the circumstances of the new nation. It is no surprise that Burke did not object. The Federalist Party fell into the minority after the election of 1800, but their legacy of conservatism remains foundational to the United States to this day.

Hegel, what have you done?

The Right Hegelians

The events of the French Revolution were a catalyst for a great deal of philosophical discussion in Europe. There were those who were inspired by the idea of the revolutionaries, and there were those, like Burke, who were repelled by the prospect of the overthrow of existing traditions and institutions.

The most influential continental European philosopher who defended traditional power structures was Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831). Hegel’s philosophy was broad and obscure, easily interpreted in various ways as philosophers took what they liked from Hegel’s ideas. Interpretations of Hegel’s political philosophy fell into two camps — the Left Hegelians and the Right Hegelians, reflecting how they applied Hegel’s insights into a Left or Right view of political power structures. The most famous of the Left Hegelians are Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx. None of the Right Hegelians ever reached prominence, it was more of a general movement that influenced later German political philosophy.

Foundational to Hegel’s political philosophy is his notion of historicism. For Hegel, the history of the world and society is to be understood as the working of an objective, rational order. Hegel observed that we can only understand events after they occur. Human reason and freedom are historical achievements, each generation dependent on earlier ones. Only through studying objective history can we know ourselves and understand how the nation should be structured. For Hegel, rationally realizing one’s role as a cog in the machine of history is the realization of freedom, and the fullest realization of this is understanding one’s role in the political nation-state.

Hegel did not advocate absolutism, as Hobbes had. Instead, Hegel called for a constitutional monarchy — the rule of a sovereign possessing power but bound to the law of the constitution and the interests of the aristocracy. All institutions and individuals are to obey the law of the land, which is Sittlichkeitthe ethical order. For Hegel, Sittlichkeit is “ethical behavior grounded in custom and tradition and developed through habit and imitation in accordance with the objective laws of the community.”[5]

Hegel’s historicist system is clearly a defense of the nation and its existing power structures. In that, it is a right-wing political philosophy. In Hegel’s view, the nation is the result of a rationally ordered system of historical development. The power of the nation is its Sittlichkeit, which provides the parameters of human rights and freedoms. Individuals can think and act freely, but only within the parameters of the ethical order.

Hegel’s insight that freedom exists within the framework of an ethical order is profound and clearly accurate. It’s an insight that has significantly inspired philosophy and the social sciences, in particular, clarifying the need to see the rule of law as the means for people’s both positive and negative freedoms. The right-wing interpretation of Hegel’s philosophy extended the notions of historical inevitability and a hierarchical rational order as the basis of the social power structure. Right Hegelians also emulated Hegel’s strong strain of nationalism and the idea of German society as superior, a bulwark to radicalism.

This chapter is by no means an exhaustive account of right-wing thought. It serves as a background for the assertions and actions made today by adherents to right-wing ideas. Conservatism is in essence a positivist standpoint — what is ought to be — that is skeptical of novel ideas to change existing power structures. Conservatism’s worldview puts trust instead in heritage and the social hierarchy.

[1] John Gray, Gray’s Anatomy: Selected Writings, Penguin. 2010. 159.

[2] Edmund Burke, Speech to the Electors of Bristol, in The Works of the Right Honourable Edmund Burke. 6 vols. London: Henry G. Bohn, 1854–56. 1774. Retrieved from The University of Chicago Press at,

[3] David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature. 1739.

[4] John Jay, “Federalist №2” in Federalist Papers: Primary Documents in American History. retrieved from Library of Congress at

[5] Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit, Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. 1998. 266.

Douglas Giles, PhD

Written by Douglas Giles, PhD

Philosopher by trade & temperament, professor for 21 years, bringing philosophy out of its ivory tower and into everyday life.

Mining Towns Get Clean Energy Boost

Evell Meade, left, and Mitch Mitchell carry a solar panel into a doctor’s office in Williamson, W.Va. (AP Photo/Jeff Gentner)

Mining Towns Get Clean Energy Boost
By Katya Schwenk • 2 Dec 2023 (

From Coal To Wind Turbines

Millions in federal funding are going to former mining towns and other communities once reliant on manufacturing and fossil fuels to pay for new clean-energy manufacturing projects, in an effort to bring new renewable jobs to the United States’ industrial heartland.

The U.S. Department of Energy announced this week that it was awarding $275 million to seven different manufacturing projects, funding that comes from President Joe Biden’s 2021 trillion-dollar infrastructure deal. In Louisville, Colorado, and Vandergrift, Pennsylvania, two former coal towns, old factories will be used by a window supplier to manufacture insulated glass that helps make buildings energy efficient. In Pittsburgh, a magnetics company will build a new factory to produce components for electric vehicles and other electric infrastructure.

The funding will also bring a wind turbine producer to Vernon, Texas, a former mining town; a metal manufacturer to Weirton, West Virginia; a battery electrode manufacturer to Bridgeport, Connecticut; and a glass manufacturer to Detroit. 

Such projects are expected to bring new jobs to their chosen communities, some of which have been hollowed out by the nationwide decline in mining jobs. In West Virginia, for instance, manufacturing company Boston Metal expects that the project will create more than 200 jobs, its CEO told the New York Times. In Pittsburgh, magnetics company CorePower will employ between 25 and 50 workers.

The initiative, proponents hope, will prioritize workers at risk of being left behind by the transition away from coal and other fossil fuels — giving them jobs while also supporting clean-energy manufacturing in the U.S. While the U.S. has lagged behind globally in this industry, investments by the Biden administration, in particular courtesy of the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, have spurred new clean-energy production across the country. With this new funding, mining towns will now reap some of those benefits.

Dean Phillips on Biden: I think he should smoke weed


December 2, 2023 (

 It’s likely that Joe Biden has never smelled weed, let alone smoked it. 

We wouldn’t recommend it — but it’s absolutely absurd that a naturally occurring plant on which no human has overdosed remains a Schedule I narcotic in America.

It should be legalized immediately and turned over to the States for regulation.

Across the country, we have seen legalization sweep red and blue states. It’s been approved by state legislatures and voters alike. And it’s time we treat it differently at the federal level. 

Dean made the point this week that it’s awfully hypocritical that you can drink to excess at night and report to work in his White House. But if you ate a gummy and it was discovered, you’d be fired and maybe even imprisoned.

It’s 2023 and our cannabis policies still reflect last century’s thinking. It’s time we change that. Would you donate $42.00 to turn the page?

So many lives have been hurt by these harmful policies — and it’s time we turn the page. With 70% percent of Americans supporting cannabis leadership, per a recent Gallup poll, including 55% percent of Republicans and 87% percent of Democrats. 

‘It’s a dream’: San Francisco’s newest park is getting rave reviews

Josh McLaughlin skates at the Civic Center, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2023.Charles Russo/SFGATE

By Lester Black Dec 2, 2023 (

U.N. Plaza has long been known as a blight in the center of San Francisco, home to drug dealing and a market for stolen goods that’s just steps away from City Hall. It has become another symbol of the “failed city” narrative that often plagues SF, so I was a bit skeptical about the city’s plan to revive it with a new skate plaza built above the Civic Center BART stop. 

Earlier this year, the city spent $2 million building a new public space with workout equipment, pingpong tables and, at its centerpiece, a network of skateboarding features that are blended into the environment.

As a lifelong skateboarder and San Francisco resident, I decided to check it out myself. Not only did I enjoy it, it turns out the entire city’s skateboard community seems to have fallen in love with the city’s newest park.

“It’s a dream to be able to skate stuff like this,” said Josh McLaughlin, a local skateboarder who spoke after successfully landing a 40-foot-long boardslide across a concrete curb in the center of the plaza.

U.N. Plaza doesn’t look like a conventional skatepark — there are no half pipes or deep bowls for skateboarding — but that’s because the city opted for a design known as a “skate plaza,” where the skateable features look like the same street curbs, concrete benches and brick walkways that line any normal street. But these benches and curbs have been specifically designed for skateboarding, making it easier to skate them. 

I took advantage of these pristine features as I rode a faux brick embankment stamped with the outlines of bricks that borders Market Street. In the real world, I would never be able to handle skating on the rough uneven edges of a brick embankment. But with the plaza’s design, I was able to feel the awesome chatter of “bricks” under my wheels as I rode up and over a concrete ledge.

The park is less than a month old, but it’s already the most popular place for skateboarders in the city, according to JP Escobar, a local skateboarder.

“Everyone is coming here every day,” Escobar said. “The whole skate scene comes here. It’s hella popular.”

San Francisco has an internationally recognized skate scene: Its steep hills have played a starring role in countless skate videos since the 1980s and it’s the headquarters for the trendsetting magazine Thrasher. Yet despite San Francisco’s iconic status in the global skate scene, the city has historically pushed skateboarders to its edges. The city’s two largest skateparks border busy freeways, and when skateboarders gathered for an annual event near Dolores Park earlier this year, police ended up arresting more than 100 people, including 81 juveniles.

The U.N. Skate Plaza is a step toward changing that relationship, giving skaters a sort of town square next to one of the busiest metro stations on the West Coast. 

“It’s central to the city so it’s easy for everybody to get to one spot,” McLaughlin told me. “That’s part of the fun, you meet up here and it’ll take you everywhere else. If it’s too crowded here, we’ll jump on BART and head to Oakland or somewhere else.”

The city is hoping that bringing hundreds of skateboarders to Civic Center will help reduce the amount of street violence and drug use that occurs in the area, and I saw that play out firsthand on my recent visit. Two people had sat down on one of the plaza’s benches and pulled out pipes to smoke some type of drug, only to have a skateboarder immediately run over to them, take his shirt off, and tell them they needed to leave. After a few minutes of back and forth, the two people left the bench and the skateboarding resumed.


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The skateboarder who evicted the two people later told me that the area is still dangerous, adding that he’s seen bags get stolen and people pass out from drug overdoses. Also, the city has yet to install trash cans, which could make the area cleaner.

“How are we supposed to clean it up if they don’t have any trash cans?” said the skateboarder, who referred to himself as Space.

I reached out to San Francisco Public Works to see if the department plans on installing trash cans but I did not hear back by press time.

Escobar described the area as “still f—ked up, but at least a little better.” He laughed when I asked if he thought skateboarders could fix everything wrong with the area.

“Are skateboarders able to save the city? I’m not sure, but one step at a time,” Escobar said with a laugh.

Dec 2, 2023

By Lester Black

Lester Black is SFGATE’s contributing cannabis editor. He was born in Torrance, raised in Seattle, and has written for, High Country News, The Guardian, The Albuquerque Journal, The Tennessean, and many other publications. He was previously the cannabis columnist for The Stranger.

Cornel West goes with the Peace and Freedom Party

I hope this message finds you in good health and high spirits. Today, I come to you with a request of utmost importance, one that could significantly shape the future of our political journey in California.As we continue to champion the values of truth, justice and love, it is necessary that we make our voices heard on the California ballot. Our path to achieving this is through securing the nomination of the Peace and Freedom Party, a party that resonates deeply with our principles and holds a position on the California General Election ballot.To make this a reality, we need your active participation. If you’re not already a member, I encourage you to register with the Peace and Freedom Party. You can do this online or in-person at your local county registrar’s office.As a member of the Peace and Freedom Party, you are eligible to run for the Central Committee, a vital role where you can serve as a delegate at the Peace and Freedom Party Convention in August 2024. This is where we will have the chance to nominate Cornel West for President in the state of California.
Thank you for your unwavering support and for considering this vital call to action. Together, we can make a significant impact and move closer to seeing Dr. Cornel West on the ballot in California. In solidarity and hope,Edwin DeJesusCo-campaign Manager

Joint Press Conference with Marianne Williamson and Cenk Uygur

Marianne Williamson Dec 2, 2023 Marianne Williamson and Cenk Uygur, Presidential candidates seeking the Democratic nomination, assembled members of the press online on December 1st, 2023, to announce their response to the Florida DNC’s recent rule changes. Support the campaign by donating or volunteering today at