How Far Do We Go?

breakingbad1This essay originally appeared in Unwinnable Monthly Issue 78 (April 2016).

Vince Gilligan’s inspiration for the creation of Breaking Bad is almost as famous as the show’s own premise: Gilligan wanted to make a series in which the main character transformed from Mr. Chips into Scarface. The circumstances he concocted to achieve this are notable. In Breaking Bad, a high school chemistry teacher is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and decides to sell meth to provide financial security for his family. This is an idea with momentum. It’s also a little deceptive.

Continue reading “How Far Do We Go?”


Not a good look

Jay Rosen has a piece up on the persistent claim that Trump is a “media wizard” that has some good examples of that claim along with his own counter-arguments. I’m late to this discussion (he posted in May), but I thought it might be worth further considering this topic.

Continue reading “Not a good look”

Premature Victory Laps

One consistent modern political narrative, at least in the US, is that of the inevitable leftward trend of society. In this narrative, social liberalism in particular is a certainty, and it’s just a matter of time before current progressive causes become mainstream politics. This Atlantic essay from earlier in the year, titled “Why America is Moving Left,” is a notable example of this idea in action. It’s long and aims to be a pretty comprehensive reflection on the current and potential future state of American politics, and, as such, it also stands out to me as a notable example of what I think this narrative misses about American political realities.

Continue reading “Premature Victory Laps”

“Policing the Police”


The Frontline documentary “Policing the Police,” released in late June, arrives at what feels like a critical moment in the conversation concerning police brutality in the United States. Then again, it is difficult to locate any period in this country’s history in which this documentary, co-written and reported by Jelani Cobb, wouldn’t be timely. Cobb investigated some of the reform efforts made by the police department and the city of Newark, NJ to highlight the difficulties facing police reform in both theory and practice. The resulting broadcast touches on logistical problems, budget constraints, institutional resistance, a community demanding greater accountability for its officers and respect for its people, and police culture.

Continue reading ““Policing the Police””