Anyone remember last year when I wrote that my decreased summer output was because I was writing a book? That was true. I don't have any similar excuse for the desert that Missile Test has become this summer, but I do have good news. The book I wrote, Impact Winter, has failed to find any representation from an agent in the publishing business. How is that good news? Well, the publishing world's loss is your gain. I grew tired of waiting for good news, so I banged out a 4th draft and posted the book on Amazon. Sometime next week, it should also be available elsewhere. When that happens, I will update this posting.
Last month, after ISIS beheaded American journalist James Foley and posted the video on the internet, I decided enough was enough. The parade of bad news was an anchor dragging on my sense of well-being. Besides the turmoil in Iraq and Syria, there was news that more than a thousand Russian troops had moved into the Ukraine, there were protests over the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, and Congress left on summer vacation without addressing global warming or immigration (in fact, this Congress addressed little other than their own reelections). Throughout all this, the cacophony of arguments and counterarguments spewed forth on the television and the internet, never ending, rarely slowing, and devouring such cherished aspects of debate as 'nuance' and 'facts.' All of this served to foster in me feelings of anger, anxiety, frustration, and even a smattering of despair. This is something that had been building for a long time. Politics is nothing if not a soul-sucking enterprise. It never ends. There is never any resolution to the debates. Increasingly, it has turned into a zero-sum game. One side has to win and the other side has to lose. The greater the pain is for the losing side, the better.
EDGARTOWN, Mass -- A senior White House official said on Wednesday that the United States would consider using American ground troops to assist Iraqis in rescuing Yazidi refugees if recommended by military advisers assessing the situation.
That is the opening paragraph of the top story on the New York Times' website right now. President Obama's recent authorization of air strikes in Iraq on rebel positions was greeted with a shrug, but it was also accompanied by a promise that there would be no return to ground combat. This makes sense. We've been bombing Iraq off and on for over twenty years. Outkast's B.O.B (Bombs Over Baghdad) was recorded one year before the 9/11 attacks. Four, FOUR!, consecutive U.S. presidents have ordered air strikes in Iraq. Three of those four have presided over ground actions. If it weren't for Afghanistan and a couple of other hotspots, bombing Iraq would be about all that's keeping the heavy munitions industry afloat. Bombing Iraq has become normal, just something we do.
Mysterious craters forming in northern Russia appear to be methane escaping from the permafrost. Plumes of methane are shooting up from the sea floor near Antarctica. California is suffering through a drought of unprecedented proportions in the recorded history of the area. This summer in New York City feels mild, but in fact, it's a normal summer, distorted in our memories by the blazing summer heat of the past five years. The media is peppered with map projections of what the world could look like with varying levels of sea rise. Drinking water in Toledo, Ohio was contaminated by toxins released from a gigantic algae bloom, which some have speculated is partly the result of global warming. The only good news about global warming is that I will be dead before humankind feels the worst of its effects.
Politics can wear a person down. The endless push and pull, the lack of continual progress, and the realization that most of our leaders are in it for themselves and their paymasters, is enough to make even the most impassioned observers develop hard hearts. I look at the state of Washington today, and I have a difficult time mustering either enthusiasm or outrage. Politics is what it is. We, the people, are the sucker at the poker table. But, unlike in real life, we cannot just get up and leave. We are trapped here.