Political Disaster

There is a strong undercurrent among the citizens of this country. A monster, really, lurking just below the surface, waiting for the right blow to the veneer of respectability, law, order, and routine that Americans have built around them to shatter our precious sense of security. I don’t think that we are unique in the world. But it must be truly frightening at times for the rest of the world to know that the citizens of the most rich and powerful country on the planet are being held together by a very thin coalition of local, state, and federal government that at times seems blindly unaware of threats to its own stability. America’s power unleashed is intimidating enough, but when large numbers of its individuals are seen struggling in a life or death free-for-all, the animalistic nature of such an event can seem like the unleashing of a marauding beast that our society works very hard to hide. Continue reading “Political Disaster”

Plan B

One of the more low-key fronts in the ideological war that has divided the citizens of this country is the fate of Plan B, the morning after pill.

Barr Laboratories has applied to the Food and Drug Administration to sell the emergency contraception over the counter. It was first approved as a prescription treatment in 1999. It has been mired in the approvals process far longer than is necessary, for one reason only: the aforementioned war of ideologies. Continue reading “Plan B”

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”

Flameout

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.”