The Summer of No Return

The forecast for August 8th was ominous. The temperature in Portland was predicted to breach 100 hundred degrees for the second time in a couple weeks. In the end, the mercury stalled at 96 degrees because the sun was blotted out for most of the day by a thick pall of pinkish smoke from the […]

Chronicle Of A Flood Foretold

Houston didn’t need to be warned. The city had already been sunk by four major hurricanes, each less powerful than Harvey, in the last 80 years. Generational storms. But boomtowns have short memories. After each epochal deluge, Houston rebuilt on the ruins. Rebuilt in a Texas way: Bigger. Brasher. Gaudier. Rebuilt on the very same […]

Bull Connor On The High Plains

When they turn the attack dogs on you, you know that you’ve won…morally. Of course, moral victories aren’t worth much in the short term. All too often the price of a moral victory is to lose what you’ve put your life on the line fighting for, if not your life itself. Such was the appalling […]

She Stoops To Conquer

First things first. I want to apologize to the Sandernistas, to those of you who rose up after your leader abandoned you, after Bernie wiped out your votes and muted your voices, after he turned you over to the DNC’s thuggish floor managers and security guards, after he sat passively as your brave chants of […]

The Ferocious Life of Barbara Yaley

My friend Barbara Yaley died yesterday morning. The news was delivered by a close mutual friend and it came as a shock from which I’m still reeling. Three weeks ago Barbara was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia. She started chemo treatments immediately and never left the hospital. I didn’t even know she was […]

Fukushima Mon Amour

Is the crisis in Fukushima over or just beginning? You might be forgiven for scratching your head at that one. Nearly five years after the nuclear meltdown triggered by the Tohoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami, one of the planet’s worst radioactive catastrophes has almost completely faded from both the media and public consciousness. Amid that […]

The Rich Boy: The Art of Trump L’Oeil Politics

The year is 1985. Reagan has just been reelected, but Republican fortunes across the country are waning. The Gipper was beginning to show his incapacities and the party itself seemed just as hoary. The hunt was on for new blood and George Clark, the chairman of the New York Republican Party, thought he knew just the […]

Long Time Coming, Long Time Gone

On the day Pope Francis released his encyclical on the fate of the Earth last June, I was struggling to climb a near vertical cliff on the Parajito Plateau of northern New Mexico. My fingers gripped tightly to handholds notched into the rocks hundreds of years ago by Ancestral Puebloans, the anodyne phrase now used […]

Ten Small Green Groups That Make A Big Difference

It’s been a triumphant month for Big Oil. First, the Obama administration teamed with the Chinese delegation to scuttle the timid climate agenda at the Durban summit. Then recidivist offender British Petroleum won the rights to drill once again in the perilous depths of the Gulf of Mexico. And last week the Interior Department gave […]

Barack Obama, Changeling

Barack Obama was in Brasilia on March 19, 2011, when he announced with limited fanfare the latest war of his young presidency. The bombing of Libya had begun with a hail of cruise missile attacks and air strikes.

Seattle Diary

Seattle has always struck me as a suspiciously clean city, manifesting a tidiness that verges on the compulsive. It is the Singapore of the United States: spit-polished, glossy, and eerily beautiful. Indeed, there is, perhaps, no more scenic setting for a city set next to Elliot Bay on Puget Sound, with the serrated tips of the Olympic Mountains on the western skyline and hulking over it all the cool blue hump of Mt. Rainier.