In the Tunnel

In his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on July 18, Kenneth Pollack, a Senior Fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, said that he was, “heartened to hear Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld acknowledge that success in Iraq would likely require over a decade.” Mr. Pollack went on later in his testimony to say, “We simply do not have the troops on hand — American, allied, or fully-capable Iraqi — to handle the number and extent of the tasks at hand.” Continue reading “In the Tunnel”


The sky was bright on September 29th, 2004. Azure. Crystalline. Through the lenses of the television cameras down on the ground, it had a flavor of indigo. High up in the air, Mike Melvill was ready to do it again. The countdown had begun. Here he was, strapped into the tiniest, oddest-looking hunk of hardware to ever boom its way to a hundred kilometers straight up. SpaceShipOne. A polished white football with a couple of thick wings slapped on, designed by the legendary Burt Rutan. He was strapped in like all the crazy test pilots back at Edwards, back when some tub would haul you and your badass rocket up to 20,000 or 30,000, cut you loose, and then you would hit the switch. Continue reading “Flameout”

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”