The Burglary, by Betty Medsger

Edward Snowden in Perspective: The Media Burglary


WC has already reviewed Betty Medsger’s The Burglary, a history of the peace activists who in 1971 burglarized the Media, Pennsylvania office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, stealing and leaking to the press the records they found there. Those leaked records included the first public disclosure of COINTELPRO, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s highly secret, highly…

Trumpeter Swan, late August, 2014

Swan Song


Among the last of the migratory birds to leave Alaska in the Fall are the swans. It takes a while for the hatch year birds – the cygnets, to use the precise term – to mature and develop the stamina to carry all that weight all the way to the interior west, where they will…

A Common Thread


In times of crisis, people often retreat to militarism, nationalism, and extreme respect for authority. This is part of why an aggressive foreign policy is so counterproductive; every time we rattle our saber at Iran, for example, we empower the theocracy and the establishment government and hurt the resistance. Our showy disdain for Russia, the…

Sandhill Crane Pair, Wander Lake, Fairbanks

Autumn Cranes


The surest sign of autumn is when the Sandhill Cranes arrive at Creamer’s Refuge, staging for their fall migration to the Southwest U.S. Sure, the leaves are just starting to turn. We haven’t had a really hard frost yet. But the Cranes are staging, and very soon, some morning when the wind is out of…

Chart by Tom Dougherty, Practical Politicking

Watching the Elephants Eat Their Own


Conservative blogger and policy wonk Tom Dougherty recently discovered and reported that the Tea Party is a fraud. He wonders aloud is the Tea Party might not just be a Ponzi scheme. Dougherty raises two questions that interest WC. First, he thoroughly documents that 85-90% of political contributions to organizations like the Tea Party Leadership…

Whimbrel, Denali Highway

In Defense of Birding


Sunday morning, August 24, 2014, WC will lead a tour of “Birding Hotspots” in Fairbanks, as a part of the annual Sandhill Crane Festival. Yes, it’s a shame they can’t find someone better qualified to lead it, but there it is. Perhaps the birding tour is entrusted to WC’s feeble skills because, really, there aren’t many species in…

Daniel Ellsberg, 2014, courtesy of WikiCommons

Edward Snowden in Perspective: Daniel Ellsberg


Edward Snowden isn’t going away. The recent extended article in Wired demonstrates that. To provide some perspective on Snowden, WC is revisiting earlier instances of leaks of classified documents. We’ll start with Daniel Ellsberg, the RAND Corporation employee who leaked The Pentagon Papers to the press. Daniel Ellsberg was a highly respected military analyst at the RAND Corporation. He was…

91% of the time, the candidate that spends the most wins

Department of Redundancy Department: Follow the Money


It’s a truism in political science that money alone doesn’t determine outcomes of elections, except when it does. Message matters, too. Except when it is buried in money. Prof. Steven Levitt performed a seminal study of repeat meetings of the same Congressional candidates over time. Levitt found that changes in campaign spending produce negligible changes in electoral outcomes when…

Mount Polley: It Can Happen Here


The public hearings on the EPA’s findings on the proposed Pebble Mine in the Bristol Bay region are under way. As you watch the video from GlobalBCTV of the toxic, muddy wasteland and poisoned lakes and rivers created by the catastrophic Mount Polley Mine tailings dam failure, ask yourself if any minerals are worth this…

It doesn't get much better than this.

Forty Years – It Doesn’t Seem Possible


Despising Richard Nixon is in WC’s blood. Seriously. WC is a distant relative of U.S. Representative Helen Gahagan Douglas, the Democratic Party candidate that Nixon falsely smeared as “the Pink Lady” in his campaign for the U.S. Senate in 1950. WC voted against Nixon in both the 1968 and 1972 presidential elections. (WC has never been able to…

How Paranoid Do You Need to Be: CyberVor


The New York Times recently reported that “A Russian crime ring has amassed the largest known collection of stolen Internet credentials, including 1.2 billion user name and password combinations and more than 500 million email addresses.” From some 420,000 websites. Pretty impressive. The digital and mainstream media were all over the story. An outfit called Hold Security had announced…

Lauren Bacall Camping with President Harry Truman, 1945

R.I.P. Lauren Bacall, 1924-2014


The scene is a little less than halfway through To Have and to Have Not, Bacall’s first film. (Marie slides into Harry’s lap and leans down to kiss him.) HARRY What’d you do that for? MARIE (Murmurs) I was wondering whether I’d like it. HARRY What’s the decision? MARIE I don’t know yet. (Marie gives the…

Young children boarding La Bestia – The Beast, – the train through southern Mexico

Part of the Solution or Part of the Problem


Back in the Pleistocene, when WC was in undergraduate school, Eldridge Cleaver published his provocative Soul on Ice, where he ascribed to himself the proverb, “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” Now Eldridge Cleaver shouldn’t be anybody’s role model. And WC categorically rejects that Manichaean, dualist view of the world. Human…