Wolraich: The Grim Possibility Of War With Iran
dag Observes the 19th Anniversary of the Low-Speed Chase in LA
Wolraich: The Grim Possibility Of War With Iran
dag Observes the 19th Anniversary of the Low-Speed Chase in LA
President Obama's re-election is becoming more likely. While the President's approval rating recently hit an all-time low of 38%, which was lower than most Presidents at this time in their first term, two realities are converging: (1) his approval has risen in key states, and also five points nationally since then; and (2) approval ratings are not presently as predictive of next November's vote as they used to be. [Read more]
It is an article of faith for some, both on the evangelical right and the secular left, that we live in the end times. For every millennialist who is reading Nostradamus or prophecies of the end of days in the Bible, there is a secularist waiting for aliens to take their "container" from the Earth, or a Dmitry Orlov prophesying the apocalyptic end of modern culture from the end of our free recourse to oil. Lost in these more grand hypotheses of abrupt ends to the world we know is a deeper, darker truth with more grounding in science than any of them. It is this. With supplies of arable land declining, and the number of dairy cows that can be sustained static or falling, our diets are threatened with chaos. The science doesn't lie. The numbers are there. Dairy wanes, while the planet's gluttony for cheeseburgers and pizzas increases exponentially. This post tears the roof off of the coming culinary catastrophe our complacent consumption conceals: Peak Cheese. [Read more]
It's not nice to compare people to Adolf Hitler. Hank Williams, Jr. found out that other people think this (though he doesn't) when ESPN pulled his hit theme "Are You Ready For Some Football" from the start of Monday Night Football after Hank compared the 44th President to Der Fuhrer. Punished or not, Bocephus has lots of company with his Hitler schtick. So to paraphrase Big Bank Hank (oh, wait, that's a reference to Rapper's Delight -- I didn't mean to start "jiving", Hank Williams, Jr.!), Are You Ready For Some Hitler? Welcome to Godwin-a-Land, as we explore the empty, omnipresent metaphor that trivializes the greatest evil humanity has ever known, while simultaneously blowing into silly bits roughly half of every serious discussion in the history of the Internet. [Read more]
When a Predator drone killed al Qaeda propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki in a lawless area of Yemen recently, Americans lined up in three camps: happy that they thought a terrorist was dead, outraged that they thought an American citizen was assassinated, or uncomfortably approving, or ambivalent about the fact that an apparent al Qaeda leader was snuffed. [Read more]
When visiting Washington DC, the seat of so much history, I like to pay my respects to the greats of American history. And to reflect on them. Of course, history is always changing. It's alive and not static. Right now, you have the opportunity in the nation's capital to visit the majestic home of a great American who has recently taken up residence there. You know who I'm talking about. He can be found just off the western end of the National Mall, near the Lincoln Memorial, which is fitting given his historical linkage to Lincoln. We all love him. His home is majestic, tall, and white. He's African-American. And fittingly, he won the Nobel Peace Prize. Yes, when you're in DC, you have to pay your respects to this great American. [Read more]
We commemorate anniversaries of bad things, where we celebrate anniversaries of the good. Beyond September 11, there aren't a lot of counterparts in American history. There's FDR's "day that will live in infamy" -- December 7, 1941, and the shooting of JFK, on November 22, 1963. But even with the assassination of Martin Luther King, we think of MLK Day in January, which is his birthday, and not the death day of April 4, 1968. When we lose, we have an innate desire to heal, which runs in parallel to how we choose to remember the dead for their virtues and our good times with them, and not so much for their human flaws. Our aspiration to heal is part of why I do not like the anniversary of September 11. We need to heal, and we have [Read more]
America's public, its politicians, and even its blogosphere have been all a-Twitter with chat about the debt ceiling. How failing to raise it will cause financial armageddon. How we can only raise it if we agree simultaneously on the need not to exceed it. Or how we can only raise it if we agree simultaneously that we can't raise it after next year. And so on. The reason for this is supposedly that having an enormous national debt is bad (I agree, by the way), so that we have to raise the debt limit selectively if at all. This is idiocy. I will now explain why. [Read more]
As we watch fireworks tonight or gather with friends and neighbors over barbecues, free from threats from beyond our borders and understanding, it is time once again to celebrate the true meaning of the Fourth of July. While many thought that meaning had attained its purest and truest expression on July 4, 1776, when our Founding Fathers cast off the yoke of British imperialism, and our nation declared its existence as a state, we all know better after the events of fifteen years ago. [Read more]
Nothing spawns more magical thinking than a trauma. The human mind bends like a nail pulled backward, or a knee turned wrong, and it sprains our ability to process. Think PTSD. A mind that can't process something that hit it, though it saw what happened. Waking up looking for a loved one who died. The young lady at my work, a bright, recent college graduate, who expressed Wednesday afternoon her earnest "skepticism" that a plane could ever knock down a building. Why? The towers and the smoke streaming from them, the bodies falling from them, the physical assault on buildings that straddled the capital of our world, are a bad dream that hurt too much for America to process. So our minds, our culture, and our leaders talk in warped stories of 9/11that have the fabric of dreams. They comprise our Traumnovelle, our dream story. Nine years later, we're still not awake.
It is strange to rejoice at death. And there has been a lot of death related to this rich kid, this jihadist, this narcissist, this bin Laden. The deaths of 9/11. The deaths of wars following 9/11. Lots of death. I have never in my life been happy about a death. It's not nice, and it's not how I was raised. But tonight in hearing that American forces killed Osama bin Laden, yes, I am happy and unapologetically so. Crowds on my TV are waving flags and cheering. But what will it mean? What does it mean?
For now, security is heightened in military theaters. There is a fear, a concern, that there will be violence against Americans for the sake of the American taking and killing of bin Laden. I don't think so. [Read more]
In a McDonald's restaurant in Baltimore last week, two teenage girls kicked, stomped, and beat a transgendered woman. Why? She was using the women's bathroom. The perps beat the victim to the point of a convulsive seizure, while a McDonald's employee recorded the assault. The spectacular and stunning video, posted incongruously on WorldStarHipHop, is here. (In case anyone is concerned that describing the assault calls attention to the identity of a crime victim, she has not only been widely reported upon, she has appeared on camera in an interview revealing herself and discussing the attack.) I have two points of contact with this news event that left me rapt as I watched this: the Kitty Genovese angle, and also the status of the victim. Both are, I think, worthy of attention.
There's no doubt that the most significant political event of 2011 to date is the showdown in Madison between the fourteen absent Democrats in the state Senate and recently elected Republican Governor Scott Walker over his proposal to remove collective bargaining rights as part of his plan to reduce government spending. What there is doubt about is what it all means: is it about one state's public employees' rights to bargain collectively? About the rise of the right in the elections of 2010? About President Obama? There are many correct answers, including each of the foregoing (though despite the fervent wishes of partisans on both sides of him, not all facts are about Barack Obama). Here's my take on what Wisconsin will mean. [Read more]
One of the distinctive cultural attributes of the Southwest is the profusion of shrines to those lost in accidents. You see them on the sides of roads throughout our region. As a photographer, I had long wanted to study and present them. Finally, last year, I mounted a show of photography consisting in half of studies of the roadside shrines throughout the Southwest. For a long time, I've wanted to share some of my photography here. This post presents many of the roadside shrine images from my 2010 show. The first is from near Cameron, Arizona, on the Navajo reservation.
One of the bits of fake-or-real Zen wisdom aging minor-league catcher Crash Davis (Kevin Costner) imparts to young, raw pitching prospect Nuke LaLoosh (Tim Robbins) in the classic baseball flick Bull Durham is "Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. Sometimes, it rains." Sometimes we triumph. Sometimes we fail. And sometimes, well, the game you're trying to play is rained out, which is how I feel lately. Ok, maybe I thought about that too much. But I've been in a poor mood lately, and my solution is simple. Sometimes you cook. [Read more]
Some random thoughts this Christmas, 2010:
1. Apparently Santa Claus is already done delivering presents in Asia, and is over Prague -- check NORAD's streaming Santa tracker. He's only spending two minutes in Prague before he hits Lublin, Poland. I'm hoping the New START Treaty does not impair NORAD's ability to monitor Santa. I can't imagine it would have passed if it compromised our utilization of critical Santa-tracking technology.  [Read more]
I know there's a lot going on with DADT, Wikileaks, and also the Bush tax cuts, which were thought to be dead and are now undead. Speaking of the undead, I wanted to raise some logistical issues that have been on my mind concerning zombies. If you've been watching AMC's The Walking Dead, you may share some of these concerns. [Read more]
I like Alaska a lot. This is my fourth trip up, and I remember each of them, and their details, very well. How the bald eagles looked circling the rocky beach at Homer in the dusky 12:30 in the morning light. The moose that staggered out into the road in Kenai and just stood there. Suicide moose. The purple flowers in the waist-high grass in the cliffside Russian cemetery, at Ninilchik. What I like about Alaska, though, is the sense of place Alaskans give it. The way they create the concept of Alaska by living there, and cherishing the place. This piece is a brief tour of place, written in the middle of the night in the sky with the moon off the wing. [Read more]
If one reads blogs, and I'm sure none of you do, one of the biggest takeaways from the Great Election of 2010 is that Blue Dogs have improved the Democratic Party by losing en masse, because the Dogs are the enemies of building a better and more liberal (sorry, not going to use the increasingly meaningless "progressive", which has morphed into a sloppy tautology for whatever the speaker likes) Democratic Party. I don't find that to be defensible. This piece explains why. It is mostly a defense of the Dogs, although at the end, I take on the equally incorrect idea that the Democratic Party should respond to last week's election by elevating the importance of Blue Dogs, so it can, you know, come  [Read more]
Boarding my plane from LAX to Phoenix, noted that I would be flying on a plane with celebrity rapper Snoop Dogg. Am assuming the handful of screams were for him, and not the occasional blogger on the plane. Which brings us to our final Senate picks, the Snoop Dogg Edition, in which Democrats try to buck a chronic trend -- how the Senate changes parties every time the House does.  [Read more]
If you haven't been to Hoover Dam, you should go. If you made up a definitive outdoor museum of American history in your head and stocked it right, the Dam would be toward the front, right after you walked in. It's quintessentially American, both vitally important to how the western United States became what they are, and a symbol of what America has been since the New Deal. This month, Arizona and Nevada dedicated a massive, gorgeous bypass bridge one thousand feet over the Colorado River, adding nicely to the Dam's story, providing a postscript so 2010, just as the dam is so 1935. If you haven't been to the Dam, or haven't given it much [Read more]