“We’re Americans,” Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu told me two weeks ago in the Russell Senate building in Washington, D.C. “We don’t eat our dogs, and we don’t eat our horses.” She had just finished delivering a speech to a rapt audience of two-dozen bright-eyed teenage girls, a handful of congressmen, top members of the ASPCA and Humane Society, and Lorenzo Borghese, star of the ninth season of the reality television show The Bachelor.
Friday marked the two-year anniversary of the disastrous BP oil spill. Triggered by the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig on April 20, 2010, the tragedy took the lives of 11 people and continues to threaten the animals and ecology of the Gulf of Mexico. Two years later, TNR takes a look at some of the animals that continue to be affected by the spill, which spewed about 4.9 million barrels of oil into the water. DolphinsIn the two years since the BP spill, over 600 dolphins have been found washed up on Louisiana beaches: 95 percent are already deceased.
In case you weren’t convinced that we’ve reached the campaign’s silly season, the War on Dogs has arrived to erase all doubt. It started with Democrats poking fun at Mitt Romney’s dog-on-car incident. The Daily Caller retaliated earlier this week with a post “uncovering” the “shocking” “news” that Barack Obama once ate dog meat as a child (an event he had mentioned in his memoir). The battle moved to a new front when Romney advisor Eric Fehrnstrom alluded on Twitter to Obama’s dog-eating. And thus began the War on Dogs, just the latest of the innumerable wars waged this election cycle.
When Jackie Kennedy led a television crew through the White House in February 1962, millions of Americans were riveted to the screen. This Wednesday, when Michelle Obama appears on The Colbert Report, it will be a much less exciting, and more commonplace event. It’s starting to seem like the First Lady has been everywhere on our televisions lately, celebrating her “Joining Forces” initiative to help military families or promoting her “Let’s Move!” campaign to combat childhood obesity.
Among the greatest fears sparked by the ongoing conflict in Syria is that the country will soon be irreconcilably divided, with sectarian groups implacably pitted against one another in an open civil war. Indeed, there’s no doubting that the Syrian population comprises various ethnic and religious groups, each with its own grievances.
Much of the thrill of watching Mad Men is the unabashed way it displays the retrograde views of its leading characters. The same is true, of course, of the ongoing Republican presidential primary. In fact, while it’s hard for us to picture the GOP candidates joining the hedonistic adventures of 1960s Madison Avenue (one pictures Mitt Romney gleefully pouring himself a second glass of chocolate milk), we did think some aspects of their personalities (and their political platforms) would fit right in.
One of the most prurient aspects of reading the personal emails written to and by Bashar al Assad that were obtained by The Guardian has been the chance to observe the dictator’s strange shopping habits on iTunes. Apparently, the Syrian dictator is a big fan of contemporary party music. But Bashar is far from the first dictator to have a strange relationship with pop culture.
Late last year, as the regime of Bashar Assad was continuing its murderous rampage against the people of Syria, the governments of Iran and Russia offered their diplomatic support. But Bashar also received significant practical assistance from a much more unlikely ally: an Italian surveillance firm by the name of Area SpA. Throughout all of 2011, employees of that company were being flown to Damascus to direct Syrian intelligence officers in the installation of a computer system that would allow the Syrian government to scan and catalog virtually every e-mail that flows through the country.
Given that Mitt Romney is ostensibly the “establishment candidate” of his party, it’s surprising to see just how much of the Republican establishment has refrained from endorsing him. And that reticence is now starting to take its toll: There’s little doubt that if Republican elites more consistently rallied around Mitt, he could probably be spared an even longer, more dragged-out primary.
Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum aren’t the only ones facing voters this Super Tuesday. Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich is one of eleven incumbents in Congress who will be fighting to keep their seats as a result of redistricting. Current polls suggest that Kucinich will lose to fellow Democratic Congressman Marcy Kaptur. But if today marks the end of Kucinich’s political career, no one can claim it was a boring ride.