Archive for Politics

The Way of the Dodo?

Here’s what’s happening in the world – natural and unnatural. 

  • Planet earth is losing flora and fauna species at an alarming rate. Extinction is a phenomenon that occurs naturally, but the main cause of the current extinctions is the destruction of natural habitats by human activities, such as cutting down forests and converting land into fields for farming.
  • Scientists estimate we are currently losing species 1,000-10,000 times faster than normal attrition, which means that literally tens of species are vanishing from the face of the Earth every day. (worldanimalfoundation.com)
  • Across Africa, the U.N. estimates that 23.6 million people are facing food shortages due to the worst locust infestation in 70 years followed by torrential rains. (WSJ, Jan 31, 2020)
  • Australia is, after a month of wildfires that burned 12.35 million acres and killed as many as one billion animals, experiencing unprecedented rains and floods – 15.4” in 4 days. (AP)
  • Worldwide, 65.6 million individuals have been forcibly displaced because of persecution, conflict, violence, or human rights violations, per the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR 2017).
  • Arctic and Antarctic ice caps are melting at an astonishing rate. On June 13, 2019 Greenland lost more than two billion tons of ice in one day. (nationalgeographic.com)
  • In Brazil, between 15 and 17 percent of the Amazon rainforest has been lost, and if the amount of cleared forest land reaches 25 percent, there won’t be enough trees cycling moisture through the rainforest. (vox.com)

Why? Well, it’s complicated…but at its root it’s because we, as humans, haven’t been good stewards of each other’s welfare or the planet’s. It’s clear now; we have hard evidence that if we are to survive – if the planet is to survive – we need to make an urgent course correction. Instead, America has gone tribal, ignoring the evidence and doubling down on fossil fuels, extractive industries, unsustainable agribusiness, military industrial power, and isolationism. read more

Gaming the System…

The foundation of the American system of criminal justice is the presumption of innocence, the right to a fair trial and the best defense available… but justice is not always blind. Race, wealth, age, prior history, and the integrity of the lawyers can all skew those principles and affect the outcome.

Standard 4-1.2 of the American Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Standards for the Defense Function, paragraph (b) states:

Defense counsel have the difficult task of serving both as officers of the court and as loyal and zealous advocates for their clients. The primary duties that defense counsel owe to their clients, to the administration of justice, and as officers of the court, are to serve as their clients’ counselor and advocate with courage and devotion; to ensure that constitutional and other legal rights of their clients are protected; and to render effective, high-quality legal representation with integrity. read more

Why We Needed Donald Trump…

When confronting difficult or unusual situations we are often advised to “think outside the box.” Jasper Johns, the iconic American painter, was thinking outside the box when he broke with tradition and painted these versions of the American flag.

Johns shook up the art world by challenging it to think differently. He was a disrupter. Sometimes art imitates life and sometimes, it seems, life imitates art. Like Jasper Johns, Donald Trump is a disrupter, the Disrupter in Chief, and the ways he has disrupted our government challenges us to think differently about it. My friends may disagree with me, but as contrarian as it sounds, Mr. Trump may be just what we needed to wake us up. From his descent on the escalator at Trump Tower and his remarks about Mexican rapists he has challenged us, begged us, to say “no more.” His presence alone is a provocation. read more

Our Existential Moment…

As a college undergraduate I was enamored of Existentialism, that most romantic and nihilistic of French philosophies. I wore black turtleneck sweaters, smoked Lucky Strikes, and channeled Albert Camus, but my senior thesis, a derivative sophomoric critique of Camus’ Myth of Sisyphus, drew a disappointing response from Louise Gould, my tiny, intense, chain-smoking, comparative literature advisor.

Professor Gould was absolutely right, and I still blush when I think of it. She was simply pointing out that quoting established critics is not the same as rigorous analysis based on personal research. My thesis did not reflect the critical thinking skills required and expected of a college senior. read more

We Need the Newseum…

The University of Montana’s School of Journalism, established in 1914, is one of the oldest accredited journalism programs in America. My mother was one of its first female graduates in 1928, and though she never worked as a journalist she inspired me to be a writer and would be proud to know her granddaughter is a mid-career writer, editor, and freelance journalist.  

It’s not surprising then that we, as a family, are staunch supporters of the First Amendment and its important role in maintaining a free and open society. Unfortunately, our current president, thin-skinned and notably ignorant of the country’s founding principles and documents, views the press as “the enemy of the people.” read more