Whose Land Is It Anyway?

Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Kelo v. City of New London. In its decision, the court held that it was legal for the City of New London to condemn private property under eminent domain and then transfer the deeds to private business for economic development. In the Court’s words, “The city’s determination that the area at issue was sufficiently distressed to justify a program of economic rejuvenation is entitled to deference. The city has carefully formulated a development plan that it believes will provide appreciable benefits to the community, including, but not limited to, new jobs and increased tax revenue.” Later in the opinion comes this: “There is no allegation that any of these properties is blighted or otherwise in poor condition; rather, they were condemned only because they happen to be located in the development area.” Continue reading “Whose Land Is It Anyway?”

There Was No Connection — There Is Now

Last night President Bush gave a speech in rebuttal to critics and sinking poll numbers that have been scourging his administration since his re-election in November. Yesterday was the first anniversary of the United States handing sovereignty over to the Iraqi interim government. I’m sure the speech had been planned long ago to coincide with this milestone, but the nature of the text has undoubtedly been altered by recent events. Continue reading “There Was No Connection — There Is Now”

Growing Reluctance

Traditionally, when the people of a democratic nation come to the conclusion that a war is no longer worth fighting, it takes large and extensive protesting in the streets, an army of peace designed to counter an army of war, to convince the government of its folly. Americans, however, have once again shown their penchant for innovation. Instead of hordes of people descending on the Mall in Washington, or dissident groups (peaceful or otherwise) setting up shop on our nation’s college campuses, a silent, yet equally effective, protest is being waged. Even more surprising, this protest has no organization, no center, and is being carried out by groups often no larger than two parents and a teenager. Continue reading “Growing Reluctance”

A Halo for the Moderates. Maybe.

The far-right wing of the Republican Party is hopping mad, as well they should be. Just when it seemed the Republicans were on the verge of a smashing victory, one that could have changed the very nature of the Legislative Branch, they were betrayed by seven conscience-ridden members of their own party, in concert with seven moderate Democratic senators. Continue reading “A Halo for the Moderates. Maybe.”

Google Our Secrets

“How can they let us look at this stuff? This has got to be illegal.”

A constant refrain. Everyone I know has the same reaction at first. From hundreds of miles up, traveling our native land with the aspect view of the astronaut has entered the cultural mainstream. This isn’t Mapquest. They had satellite photos, too, but they didn’t work as well, and they mysteriously disappeared in 2003. What happened? Only they know, and possibly the NSA. Or so you would think from a person’s reaction when they get a glimpse of the Pentagon or Edwards Air Force Base from on high. Continue reading “Google Our Secrets”

Tired of High Gas Prices?

Tough. They are here to stay, for three simple reasons.

One, demand will not go down. In the future, high demand for gasoline will hopefully level off and eventually recede in the United States (due to a peaking of our economy, stagnation in our population growth, and maybe some tougher fuel-efficiency standards), but as we Americans so often forget, we are not the only country in the world. India and China are poised to develop such an insatiable appetite for gasoline that it will make our own petroleum gluttony pale in comparison. India and China have a combined population of over two billion, compared to the roughly 280 million who reside in the United States. If their economies continue to grow at the torrid paces that they have been for the last few years, not only will they develop economies that are greater than the United States’, they will also develop the middle class that is necessary to turn a country from a mass producer into a mass consumer. In fact, the middle class is already becoming prominent in both countries, but a middle class in Asia is different from our conception of a middle class here, in that in Asia, they still have far less purchasing power. That will change. The prospect of a billion cars rolling around southern and eastern Asia within the next thirty years should frighten anybody who is concerned about our country’s lack of an energy policy. Continue reading “Tired of High Gas Prices?”

Ethics Returns?

The answer is, ethics has seemingly returned to normal. That is, the normally toothless ethics police in the house have had their powers restored to them. But whether or not the House Ethics Committee is capable of holding representatives accountable for ethical lapses was never really the issue. Asking politicians to police themselves is such a ridiculously stupid idea that, honestly, just the thought of such a situation leaves me speechless. Continue reading “Ethics Returns?”