Clinton now cloaks her detailed policy plans in Sanders’ outraged rhetoric. Pharmaceutical pricing “burns” her up. Companies that take advantage of the tax loopholes get her “pretty riled up.” And she promises to “rail away” at any industry that flouts the law.
[...] History tells us that what brought down mighty empires of the past was hubris—the confusion of weakness for strength. Might America be next? Cheerleaders insist that the United States is exempt from the lessons of history, but don’t count on it.
We are now governed by an obsolete militarism that does not serve the national interest. The obsession with arming ourselves for World War III is backward-looking, and so, too, is the madness of deploying forces in hundreds of overseas bases. The warrior nation goes looking for trouble in other people’s neighborhoods. Sure enough, we sometimes find it.
Our over-reaching military doctrine suggests masculine insecurity among military planners—a crisis of virility, so to speak. If America looks weak, then the Pentagon must keep pushing for more and smarter guns that will bolster our national self-confidence. On the home front, this feeling of inadequacy is expressed in the new “open carry” laws. It’s not enough simply to own a deadly weapon; a real man needs to wear his “piece” holstered on his hip. He needs to take it everywhere, so no one can doubt that he’s a tough character.
The point is, American culture and politics are drenched in warrior celebration. Faith in military might is deeply grounded in the national psyche. After the failing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we began to see patriotic rituals staged at baseball games and other public events to thank the returning veterans and their families, including the dead and wounded. But thank them for what? For their service and sacrifice, of course. It would have been offensive—unpatriotic—at those commemorations if anyone had talked about the utter failure of these costly wars. Yet even in defeat, the authorities stick to cloying triumphalism and tell stories of American goodness that people long to hear.
The national dilemma boils down to this: We cannot tell ourselves the truth about who we are and what we have become. In the history of nations, that failure has often led to tragedy.
Brooding on the American predicament, I began to grasp that our situation threatens to resemble the tragic fate of Samson, the legendary biblical warrior. Samson’s struggle was portrayed in Samson Agonistes, the epic drama by 17th-century English poet John Milton.I first read Milton’s work in college, long ago. Re-reading it now was a disturbing experience.
Our agony is like Samson’s; he was never able to escape his habits of violent mind and thought.
Samson was the Old Testament giant said to have slain a thousand foes with the jawbone of an ass. When he was captured by the Philistines, however, the mighty warrior was shorn of power—they cut off his hair, the source of his God-given strength, and plucked out his eyes (“O dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon”).
“Blind among enemies! O worse than chains,” Samson laments, in Milton’s great poem. The fallen Samson is rendered “eyeless in Gaza, at the mill with slaves / Himself in bonds under Philistian yoke.” Samson’s agony was never being able to escape his own habits of violent mind and thought, and his prison was “the dungeon of thyself.” The hero ended badly: Samson pulled down the temple and destroyed the Philistines, but also himself.
The United States, I decided, is trapped in America Agonistes. The country could still avoid Samson’s fate, but to do so it has to let go of its egotistical presumptions. The delusion of being all-powerful and always virtuous is a dangerous road. [...]
After years of warning the Bush administration and social conservatives that abstinence-only education does not stop teens from having sex, nor does it prevent teen pregnancy, a new study by the Guttmacher Institute confirms what many have feared: that deliberately misinforming teens about sex can have serious consequences and that comprehensive sex education, in addition to the availability of contraception, is the best way to reduce teen pregnancy rates.
Monday through Friday you can catch the Kagro in the Morning Show 9 AM ET by dropping in here, or you can download the Stitcher app (found in the app stores or at Stitcher.com), and find a live stream there, by searching for “Netroots Radio.”
For most of the 20th century, using or own solar system as a guide, we thought we had a rough but plausible idea of how planets might be distributed. Since light gases like hydrogen and helium would tend to get pushed away from the nascent star by the various solar geysers as it cranked up to official starhood, it should as come as no surprise that the inner solar system would feature rocky planets and moons while the frigid, outer solar system would be festooned with lighter ices and gases. So the end result would be planets with lots of rock and metal like Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars huddled up close to the sun and larger, gas giants like Jupiter and Saturn with their attendant icy moons in the suburbs of the solar system.
That idea, at least as far as formation, still holds water. Then again, we only had the one solar system to go by! But starting in the ‘70s we had another tool—computer models. And that’s where a big mystery reared its icy head: Uranus and Neptune couldn’t have accrued where we see them today, way past the orbit of lovely ringed Saturn. And there were more mysteries: The physics of planetary formation being modeled suggested that dozens of sizable proto-planets might form. Some would surely be gobbled up, but with that many, some of them should have been favored by statistics and hung around.
One solution to those mysteries is now in better focus, and it comes with some startling conclusions: There may be lots of planets floating around free of our sun; the inner solar system was probably pummeled by a bunch more; and there might even be at least one lone survivor still out there, undiscovered, until now …
Earlier today, RedState’s Kimberly Ross asked if Trumpmania and Obamania were different. She focused on substance. But I can answer the question on pure craziness. Sometimes, fans of a politician go nutballs. You don’t like to admit it, but it’s true. There are crazy Cruz fans. There are crazy Ron/Rand Paul fans. There are definitely crazy Obama fans. And there are, in huge, annoying, loud, | Read More »
Do you remember the iconic photograph by Robert Cohen for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch of Edward Crawford wearing an American flag shirt as he tossed the tear gas canister back at Ferguson police while retaining his hold on a bag of chips? In the late 1960s and early 1970s, that was still considered a daring thing to do, and photographer Ken Light managed to capture one young man doing it anyway in Columbus, Ohio.
Those of us who came of age during the half-decade covered by Ken Light’s latest book, What’s Going On?, will find much of our youth in its pages.
The 20 years after the end of World War II saw an explosion of the birth rate as men came home to the women who waited for them, and they all did what comes naturally. And it had to be natural, as there was little available in the way of birth control.
In addition to all of that pent-up sexual desire, there was a pent-up spending spree waiting to happen as American industry turned from war manufacturing to consumer products. And Americans had been saving their money, since wartime shortages and rationing limited spending. That fueled one of the greatest economic booms we had ever experienced, and by the late 1950s it seemed that there was no limit to the growth of our economy and our opportunity. Yet by the late ‘60s, cracks were beginning to appear in the American Dream.
There was a dark side, as Ken Light explains in the mini-memoir that follows his photographs of the era. The duck-and-cover nuclear attack drills in schools, the assassinations of our heroes—the Kennedy brothers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.—during that tumultuous decade. By the time Light hit high school, there was also an unpopular war going on, and “long hair, rock and roll, and rebellion were now in the mix.”