Remember those trying times in Autumn 2001? Al-Qaeda had just executed the largest, deadliest terrorist attack on United States soil, and the country was banding together with their American flag car magnets and “God Bless America” t-shirts manufactured in the Far East. Then President George W. Bush uttered the famous, “uniting” words: “You’re either with us or against us in the fight against terror.”
Back then, six whole years ago, there was only one way to be a patriot: support the “War on Terror” and lend unquestioning support to George W. Bush and his administration. If you dared to ask for peace (Cindy Sheehan), or careful consideration of the risks of going to war (23 Senators and 133 Representatives), or even suggested that the U.S. government should have conducted itself differently (Gore Vidal), you were labeled “unpatriotic.” Continue reading
Every four years, much is made about fringe presidential candidates who are perceived as having no real chance of winning. Ralph Nader, Dennis Kucinich, Wesley Clark, John McCain – the list includes some high-profile names and, if you actually ask around, some pretty popular choices. Yet, when it comes down to voting, the candidates with the most exposure and the most cash ultimately get the prize.
With that in mind, consider Former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel, who famously tried to end the draft during the Vietnam War. Some have described him as too progressive to lead the United States; others simply think he’s crazy. But he has a growing, loyal fanbase of followers who love his no-nonsense, straight-talking approach to politics. He’s a politician who is far enough removed from the political machine, they say, that he can see the forest for the carbon-cutting trees.
But, as tends to be the case in American politics, Gravel isn’t polling well. Is he truly unpopular, or just unheard? Continue reading
The Associated Press’s Calvin Woodward exposes political dancing at its finest: every 2008 presidential candidate purports to help the middle class, but they each have radically different interpretations of exactly who that is.
Once each candidate’s tax plans and promises are examined, Woodward found that “middle class” definitions range from poverty level to those living the high life on $200,000 salaries.
The real middle class, of course, are conventionally defined as those households with income between 80-120% of the national median income – or, by today’s standards, $35,200-$52,800. Continue reading
Random, inconsistent rules make air security seem pointless and arbitrary to even the most patient traveler.
My disdain for the Patriot Act notwithstanding, I consider myself fairly conservative when it comes to issues of national security. It’s not so much that I buy into the post-9/11 fear mongering, but I really don’t mind if I need to be x-rayed, metal detected, frisked, swabbed, or otherwise accosted under the guise of “national security” when I travel by air.
But the fruitlessness of being a sheep was revealed to me while traveling through London’s Heathrow airport last week. Both the United States and United Kingdom have banned liquids on aircraft for slightly over a year now, in response to “general threats”. But it’s beginning to feel rather arbitrary to me. In October, I traveled through Heathrow security with a nearly-full bottle of Dr. Pepper, and it was okay. No one glanced at the young white female in need of a sugar rush. But last week, I had to take one last guzzle of my Dasani water before surrendering it over to authorities, who then assured me that, “don’t worry, starting tomorrow you can carry liquids again.”
Huh? Continue reading
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is awaiting results from a commission studying ways to reduce traffic and carbon emissions in Manhattan. The results are likely to include a congestion charge for entering Manhattan, modeled after the congestion charge in London, England.
New York – the “City that Never Sleeps” – is also the “City that Swells”, growing from 1.6mil people in Manhattan alone to 2.8mil during working hours. This says nothing of tourists, who also flock to the borough and its many landmarks. Although New York is known for its public transportation system (72% of Manhattan residents use mass transit, compared with an average of 5% across the rest of the United States), that’s still not enough to quell the traffic.
Bloomberg’s congestion charging plan would put more money into public transportation, while also making a move to cut dangerous pollution levels within the city. Continue reading