The Editorials of E. Desiderius

« Home

Thursday, April 27, 2006

A Great Idea: Why Congress Should Raise Gas Taxes, and Why Of Course They Won’t Do It

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Yesterday’s New York Times ran a piece entitled MTV’s ‘Super Sweet 16’ Gives A Sour Pleasure, about the MTV reality show that covers lavish, gaudy Sweet 16 birthday parties, complete with birthday girls and boys making grand entrances on elephants, or giving out MP3 players as an invitation, then partying at Jay-Z’s New York Club, with Kanye West doing a short set before Diddy makes the rounds. One young Indian-American high school graduate received “a Bentley, diamonds and two homes in India.” “I was really surprised” said young Divya, the graduate in question. “I was only expecting a Bentley and one house.” And another young lady, Sophie, “was just as quick to defend her mother's decision to spend $180,000 for her party.” "Unless they were crazy or hated their child, any parent who was financially able would do it," she said.” [1].

What does this have to do with gas prices? Well, frankly Congress is spoiling the American people rotten, quite like young Sophie and Divya’s parents. Here are the facts: Gasoline is one of, if not the, cheapest liquid to buy per gallon. A gallon of Lipton Ice Tea costs around $9.50, a gallon of Ocean Spray costs $10.00. A gallon of Evian Water costs $21.42. A gallon of Scope mouthwash cost a steep $84.48. And the vicious, price gougers over at Vicks are charging us $178.13 for a gallon of Nyquil.

And American gas prices are much lower than even their first-world counterparts. In the UK city of Teeside, gas runs at $5.64 (American dollars, of course). In Hong Kong, its $5.62. In Geneva, $4.56. In Vienna, $4.50. Tokyo? $3.84. The third world isn’t much better off, despite much lower costs of living and wages. In Phnom Penh, $2.57. Only in Caracas are they doing much better than the US. The price of gasoline in Caracas? A mere $0.14.

Americans far too often believe they can have their cake and eat it too. The Republicans want to offer a 100 dollar gas tax credit, but at the same time, that tax credit would be conditional on drilling in the Artic Wildlife Refuge. This is not acceptable. I don’t know how and I don’t know why, but somewhere along the line, it has somehow become the American dream to purchase a large, cumbersome, obnoxious vehicle that gets approximately 15 miles a gallon, and then complain to Congress and the states about fuel prices, when it becomes a drain on the wallet. And then the federal government acquiesces. Democrats address it socially: they want to help ordinary working-class Americans and lessen their economic burden. Republicans want to slash taxes of all sort. Thus, both parties simply adore slashing the price of gasoline.

American have become far too complacent in planning for the future. We borrow money now and send the national debt soaring. Neither party is willing to tackle social security seriously, while the Baby Boomers speed towards retirement. The Medicare drug benefit was a gift to large corporations. And neither political party will offer comprehensive solutions on alternative energy. The Liberal Lion himself, Ted Kennedy, is behind a shady backroom deal that jeopardizes the Cape Wind Project, a proposed wind farm that would have generated 3/4ths of Cape Cod’s electricity needs, and would have been the pollution equivalent of taking more than one-hundred cars off the road. And now the Democrats are now stuck in the awkward place of having to stand on principle to defend a patch of snow in Alaska, or standing against providing every household with a tax credit. And the Republicans simply want to offer Americans more money to put into their clunky, inefficient vehicles that are eating up the lion’s share of the world’s oil reserves.

So what is the solution to this “gas crisis”? It should certainly not be an investigation into price gouging, as Republicans have been talking about. Slate’s Jacob Weisberg points out, “If you don't have some sort of monopoly power, gouging is another word for charging the highest price the market will bear, also known as capitalism.” [2]. Certainly not opening the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, nor ceasing deposits into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, nor loosening environmental protections.

The answer is raising gas taxes. Slap another on ten or twenty, even thirty cents per gallon. Americans who own inefficient “gas guzzling” vehicles should be made to feel a sting every time they pull up to the pump. Their wallets should be slimmer, and their credit cards balance should be much higher. Then what? A tax credit. Americans who drive vehicles which EPA certified as getting 30 mpg or higher in city conditions should get a 500 dollar tax credit. Americans who drive vehicles which get 40 mpg city should get 1000 dollars. Americans who drive a vehicle certified as 60 mpg should get 2000 dollars (The only one current certified at that is the Honda Insight).

Finally, what about poor Americans who are genuinely having trouble making ends meet? A Federal Gas Assistance Programs should be created, based on need. Part of the money from the increase of the gas tax would go into this program, which would be a welfare-like program that gave Americans gas vouchers for free or discounted gas.

Of course Congress would never implement such a plan and it would, of course, be political suicide. On the West Wing, CJ Craig once remarked that a classic Washington Scandal was getting in trouble for telling the truth. Any party that told this truth to the American people would be out of a job. Fast. And that’s a sad state of affairs. In the meantime, a better solution is to simply open American wells, drain them of every last drop of oil, pollute the environment even more, make no headway on alternative energy, make no government commitment towards either a hydrogen economy or fuel efficient vehicles, and subsidize well-off upper-class Hummer owners who will be damned if they pay more than three dollars at the pump. Every other day. Sounds like a sensible policy to me.

-E. Desiderius

Related Articles/Sources:
NY Times - MTV’s ‘Super Sweet 16’ Gives A Sour Pleasure
[2] Slate – How High Gas Prices Make Politicians Stupid
CNN Money – Gas Prices Around the World
AP/Yahoo – Lawmakers Scramble To Ease Gas-Price Pain
Blog – Big Picture – Cheap Gas – Most and Least Fuel Efficient Cars

Posted by George Gordon | Thursday, April 27, 2006

Monday, April 24, 2006

What Lawrence Kaplan Doesn’t Get

Image hosting by Photobucket

Today’s daily New Republic webzine contained a curious article by Senior Editor Lawrence Kaplan, a hawkish neoconservative who strongly supported the invasion of Iraq, and now strongly opposes withdrawal. In his New Republic piece, entitled “If Iraq Was Wrong, Is Darfur Right?” he seeks to examine the double bind that progressives and liberals in America certainly feel, as they argue for withdrawal from one international expedition (Iraq) and call for intervention in a second (the Darfur region of Sudan) [1]. This is a “bind of their own devising.” Kaplan sneers, “Even as they demand intervention in Sudan, they excoriate Washington for employing U.S. military power without due respect to the opinion of the international community and against nations that pose no imminent threat to our own – which is to say, precisely the terms under which U.S. power would have to be employed in the same of saving Darfur.”

In his haste to defend his hawkish pro-war views against frankly, reality, he largely misses the point. The truth of the matter is that the American left does not object to humanitarian missions, and no significant anti-war movement forms in the face of “just-wars.” Liberal opposition to Iraq was rooted in an entirely different set of causes.

Whenever President Clinton committed troops during the 1990s, there was no anti-war sentiment. Objections to his policies were actually raised by Republicans in Congress, arguing that such nation building missions did not serve US interests. This is essentially the argument that Kaplan attributes to present day anti-war liberals. Clinton committed troops to Somalia to reinforce a UN humanitarian mission, and then to the Balkans, notably Kosovo and Yugoslavia, with NATO support. In fact, Clinton was later derided for not committing American forces to Rwanda, to prevent the Interahmwe and Impuzamugambi’s slaughter of the Tutsis.

These 1990s military excursions did not stir up any sort of anti-war sentiment, except for the mostly conservative charge that nation-building was a waste of resources and time, and the separate charge that Clinton was wagging the dog to distract from his pending impeachment. All of these missions were seen as legitimate because they were embarked on for “proper” reasons: there was international, or quasi-international support, there was a genuine desire to protect innocent lives, the mission did not require extensive military commitment nor extensive loss of American life, and there was some sort of exit strategy and measure for success.

The Iraq war was exactly the opposite. There was no broad anti-war movement during the strikes against Afghanistan, which was largely seen as a so-called just war. It wasn’t until months later, when the saber rattling on Iraq began, that the American left could not sit by idly, as the Bush administration began to equate Iraq with the terrorist threat, despite flimsy and now discredited evidence. The contempt for the international process, the contempt shown Allied nations, the outright deceptions and fear-mongering of the Administration and the broad global opposition to the planned operation re-affirmed the Progressive belief that the war was profoundly wrong. Progressives felt that their country was embarking on what was going to be a massive military undertaking, unlike Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Somalia or even the Gulf War. There was no clear exit strategy, and the only truly humanitarian abuses happening in Iraq (rape rooms, and gassing the Kurds aside (which the US was partially complicit in anyway)) in the country were the disastrous sanctions slapped on Iraq, which reduced a country that once boasted a generally high standard of living into squalor and poverty.

It is a real shame that Kaplan cannot grasp that liberals and progressives will accept humanitarian intervention for the sake of stopping genuine human rights abuses, if it militarily feasible. What liberals and progressives will not accept is a massive, unlimited commitment of American troops, based on a shameful case built on deception and lies, which undermined America’s true war effort against Islamist terrorism, and helped poison the image of America in the hearts and minds of a generation of Iraqis. If America, NATO and the UN helped bolster the pathetic African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur, it would incur the thanks of a million non-Arab Sudanese whose lives have been savagely and brutally disrupted by a genocidal conflict. But in Iraq, we have incurred the wrath of two of the three major ethnic blocks, and we are a few bombings away from having helped push the country into civil war. We have picked the wrong battle to fight.

-E. Desiderius

[1] The New Republic – If Iraq Was Wrong, is Darfur Right?

Posted by George Gordon | Monday, April 24, 2006

John Kerry On Iraq: Too Little Too Late

John Kerry’s Saturday morning policy address to an enthusiastic crowd at Boston’s Faneuil Hall was a stirring rebuke to six years of Bush administration policies on the war, on civil liberties, and on the invocation of patriotism to silence dissent. It was an articulate, passionate speech that genuinely expressed much of the frustration liberals have felt over the past six years. It was also a noble sentiment. And it was also far too little, too late. The war has become a quagmire, and two thousands Americans have perished in the meantime. And yet, unfortunately, Senator Kerry’s stance on the war has evolved as the public opinion’s stance on the war evolved.

Senator John Kerry opposed the first Gulf War, on the basis that his vote would mean that Congress would have little say in the conduct of the war. He then in turn voted for the 2nd Iraq War, and since the announcement of his presidential campaign and subsequent defeat, he has ever-so-slowly drifted towards a staunchly anti-war stance. His current position is that Iraqi politicians respond only to deadlines. Americans must leave by May 15th, if the Iraqis cannot form a government.

In Senator Kerry’s younger days, he was a forceful and passionate critic of Vietnam. These lessons have stayed with him, he claims. “I believed then, just as I believe now, that the best way to support the troops is to oppose a course that squanders their lives, dishonors their sacrifice, and disserves our people and our principles. When brave patriots suffer and die on the altar of stubborn pride, because of the incompetence and self-deception of mere politicians, then the only patriotic choice is to reclaim the moral authority misused by those entrusted with high office.” [1].

John Kerry invoked the spirit and memory of this anti-Vietnam movement; people who took principled stand against a deeply divisive war; people who were derided, spit on, and told to love America or leave her. Yet his voting record has been nothing but cautious realpolitik throughout the Bush years. His stance during the Presidential Campaign was that the American people were mislead, and that the war was botched. True enough, however Kerry refused to say that his initial vote to authorize the war was wrong, and “when asked if he would still have gone to war knowing Saddam Hussein did not possess weapons of mass destruction, Kerry said: ‘Yes, I would have voted for the authority. I believe it was the right authority for a president to have.” Speaking to reporters at the edge of the Grand Canyon, he added: “[Although] I would have done this very differently from the way President Bush has.’” [2]

Why would the good Senator refuse to say that the evidence for war was flimsy as all hell, and he would have never committed a tenth of a million American soldiers to the desert to die for Iraqi democracy? Every liberal knew in his or her heart that a President Gore or President Kerry would have never committed such an atrocious breach of international law, nor gone to war with intellectually dishonest, misleading evidence. Why? Because during the campaign, a plurality of the public still believed that committing troops to Iraq was the right decision. A Pew Poll from October of 2004, in the last throes of the election, put public support for the war at 48%. Kerry was playing more realpolitik games. Now that the public has shifted to a decisively more anti-war sentiment, Senator Kerry has against altered his stance, with a New York Times column, and with the Faneuil Hall campaign events.

This author does not fault Senator Kerry for playing politics with his position on the war. Senator Kerry is not the serial flip-flopper the Bush administration painted him as. Rather, this author wishes to express a frustration that the Senator Kerry and the rest of the Democrats could not take a principled stand, and that their unflinching cooperation and later tepid opposition to six years of reckless Bush policies have characterized them as weak, unprincipled and compromising. Had the mainstream Democrats like Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, or John Kerry taken a stand against the war from the beginning, it would have lent them much credence and credibility once the public realized what a disaster the conflict had become. Granted, this is a frustration that almost every Democratic-leaning blogger has expressed since the beginning of the age of blogs. Yet it is a valid frustration.

What is done is done, of course. Senator Kerry’s address was a notable rebuke to the charge that opposing the war is unpatriotic. During Vietnam, “truth was ultimately understood that the faults in Vietnam were those of the war, not the warriors.” Kerry intoned, then stretching the quote into our present situation. However, John Kerry should have been this anti-war, anti-Bush voice all along, instead of incoherently babbling about granting authority, but not agreeing with the deployment of force, or quarreling about giving up on diplomacy. The fact is that John Kerry knew that his vote to authorize the war granted the president the authority to pursue that war. He cast his vote with one eye on the presidency, and one eye on the polls. He should have known better. Of course, then again, he and his political advisors were not fools. An anti-war stance would have hurt him at the polls, but the question is, would it have hurt him as much as his foolish waffling on the issue, tiptoeing around his real opinion?

John Kerry is a welcome voice into the anti-war fold (a fold that this author does not count himself among). He is a welcome voice among critics of President Bush’s foreign and domestic policies; a group that this author proudly counts himself among. On the other hand, he was once a courageous young man filled with anit-war convictions and bold ideas on US policy. He has become a commonplace politican; his hands dirtied by the realities of electoral politics. A sad, if not, unexpected development. It is too often said that our politicians are cheap opportunists, who would betray their grandmother as a communist if it would help them at the polls. It’s simply a sad thing to observe in a once principled young man.

-E. Desiderius

[1]The Unofficial John Kerry Blog – Text of Senator Kerry’s Remarks
[2] CBS News = Kerry’s Top Ten Flip-Flops

Please Note: This author is well-aware that in his April 10th post he praised Senator Kerry as having the right opinion on the war, in his NY Times column, and that opinion remains firm. However, this post deals with the frusteration concerning how long it took Mr. Kerry to reach that position.

Posted by George Gordon | Monday, April 24, 2006

Thursday, April 20, 2006

On Iran, and History's Painful Cycles

Iran is a serious problem. It is very genuinely and very publicly seeking to develop tactical and long-range nuclear weapons. It’s in control of vast oil and natural gas resources with the ability to destabilize the world supply. Its control over oil makes diplomatic sanctions difficult, and makes significant international players like Russia reluctant, if not outright unwilling to take a hard-line. Its president is an erratic martyr-hopeful, and its powerful political elites have attempted to drill the idea of self-sacrifice in the name of Allah and Shi-ism deep into Iranian culture. The erratic, often-fanatical behavior of these elites leads some to believe than Iran’s nuclear ambitions cannot be contained by mutually-assured destruction alone. After all, can a country that sent over 100,000 untrained young boys and older men to their deaths as human mine-sweepers really be trusted to act rationally with nuclear devices [1]? Iran’s nuclear facilities are dispersed throughout the country, unlike Iraq’s fledgling program, which was shut down by Israeli air strikes, and was concentrated around just one reactor. All of Iran’s nuclear sites are not even known, air strikes could cripple the program, but may not destroy all the reactors that are producing weapons-grade nuclear material. Iran is a larger and more mountainous nation than Iraq, making a military invasion infinitely more difficult than in desert Iraq. And there is the stubborn fact that over one hundred thousand American troops are tied up in a disastrous blunder-of-a war in Iran’s neighbor Iraq, making a ground assault nearly impossible.

What are our options? Our President has declared that nothing is off the table. The New Yorker’s Seymour Hersh has declared than the Pentagon is drawing up plans for a strike on Iran. Major regional and international players are pushing in all different directions. While the US is blustering for a confrontation, China, Russia and Turkey are pushing diplomacy. Blair has publicly ruled out an invasion [2].

New York Times’ columnist Thomas Friedman introspectively writes “If [Iraq II or a Nuclear Armed Iran] are our only choices, which would you rather have: a nuclear-armed Iran or an attack on Iran's nuclear sites that is carried out and sold to the world by the Bush national security team, with Don Rumsfeld at the Pentagon's helm? I’d rather live with a nuclear Iran,” he writes, musing on the disastrous mismanagement of the last war, and denouncing the very notion of the next. The best solution? A note, Friedman explains. It is to read: "Gentlemen, should you ever use a nuclear device, or dispense one to terrorists, we will destroy every one of your nuclear sites with tactical nuclear weapons. If there is any part of this sentence you don't understand, please contact us. Thank you." [3]

Today, one of the Times’ op-ed contributors, Paul Kane, writes that our best solution towards a disarmed Iran is to arm ourselves to the teeth: A draft-lottery pool with every military-age male and female, no exemptions or deferments. He invokes the idea of a draft for peace, and then curiously in the second line of his article, compares it to FDR arming the United States with a 1940 peacetime draft, which, of course, led not to peace, but to US entry into the largest and one of the most brutal war the world had yet seen. “President Bush should therefore consult with Congress about reinstituting selective national service by lottery for all young males and females,” he writes. “After 9/11, President Bush missed an opportunity to ask America's citizenry to make sacrifices in the form of military service, homeland defense and conservation that many would have accepted. Instead, he asked people to continue shopping to prop up the flagging economy.We should not fumble the opportunity now to begin selective service again, while the Iranians and others are watching. It may be our last best chance to avoid war with Iran.” [4]

Yet, this is the truth: Iran is a diplomatic mess, and a strategic nightmare. All of our options are bad. Kobiashi Maru? Are we in checkmate? Our political culture has grown to nurse punditry, and cheap rhetoric. We are presented with false choices, false Manichean dualisms, and empty phrases that play our emotions. We are either with the President and his actions and thus against Osama bin Laden, or we are with Osama bin Laden and against the President. We are either in favor of the terrorist surveillance program, or we are aiding and abetting the enemy. We can either vote for the PATRIOT Act, or risk brandishment. We are either for Israel, or anti-semites.

A solution to the problem of Iran is going to require the cunning wiles of a strategic genius, the craftiness of politican, and the tact of a diplomat. It is going to require speaking softly and carrying a big stick. It is going to require a statesman, not just a leader. These are qualities that Mr. Bush, Ms. Rice and Mr. Rumsfeld simply do not possess. Sadly, all they can offer the world is military bluster, and a show of force. We’ve been down that road. And two-thousand of America’s young men and women are dead. Another military adventure must be firmly rejected so long as Mr. Bush is in the Oval Office and Mr. Rumsfeld at the Pentagon. History repeats itself, ableit usually not in such short cycles. Yet who is listening?

-E. Desiderius

Relevant Links:
[1] The New Republic - Admadinejad’s Demons
[2]The Indian Express – Blair Rules Out Invasion of Iran
[3]NY Times – Iraq II Or A Nuclear Ian?
[4] NY Times – A Peaceful Call To Arms
Newsweek – Iran Again Holds Hostages – Bush and the GOP
Washington Post – Bush Urges China To Help Resolve Iran, North Korea Disputes
The Nation – Pre-Emptive Peace Actions

Posted by George Gordon | Thursday, April 20, 2006

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Washington Post Gets It Wrong

Image hosting by Photobucket

Today’s Washington Post editorial laid out two cases. The first was that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld should resign. The second was that former and current military brass should not weigh in on the debate, for that is a direct challenge to civilian control of the military. “In our view Mr. Rumsfeld's failures should have led to his departure long ago. But he should not be driven out by a revolt of generals, retired or not,” the paper said [1].

However, the Washington Post’s attack on the idea that former military officiers, even top brass like Generals, should not participate in the political process is a strange one. These are officers who have performed their duty; who have served their nation, and have retired with dignity and honor. They too are civilians, and they should feel free to participate in the political process, and in the democracy that they spent a good part of their lives defending. Our nation’s corridors of power are littered with ex-generals and other military figures: George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Grant, Eisenhower, Wesley Clark, and many others. Many have parlayed military service into political careers, and successfully at that. John Kerry, fresh off his combat tour, questioned the Vietnam War and his words are well remembered as a powerful, eloquent footnote to a disastrous war.

These are men with decades of experience in the military. They are the perfect critics of Secretary Rumsfeld: Loyal generals who unquestioningly did their duty when they were in uniform, and are trying to improve the system when their job is done and their tour is over. They should be praised for their honestly, for their loyalty to our constitution and for their bravery in speaking out against what they see as failings in the military and the Pentagon. The fear that this undermines civilian control is ludicrous. What is more ludicrous is asking our fighting men and women to serve, and then shut up in retirement. Yes, these are not ordinary soldiers; they are the top decision- and policymakers at the Pentagon. But so long as our Generals are obeying orders and doing their duty while in uniform, there is no conflict of interest. And in trying to correct the flaws and incompetence in our system while in their civilian life, they are admirably still performing their duty.

-E. Desiderius

The Washington Post – The General’s Revolt

Posted by George Gordon | Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Hysteria Over the “The Israel Lobby”

Image hosting by Photobucket

By now, Walt and Mearsheimer’s now infamous “The Israel Lobby and American Foreign Policy” has already been panned and decimated by everyone except for David Duke. Their names have been smeared and defamed, by attaching them with the former Klan Leader, by denouncing them as anti-Semitic fools, and by other character-assassination ad hominems. “Academic papers posted on a Harvard Web site don't normally attract enthusiastic praise from prominent white supremacists. But John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt's "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" has won David Duke's endorsement as "a modern Declaration of American Independence" and a vindication of the ex-Klansman's earlier work, presumably including his pathbreaking book, "Jewish Supremacism." Sneed Eliot Cohen in the Washington Post [1]. He went on to say “Impugning [the patriotism of Jewish-American Israel supporters] or mine is not scholarship or policy advocacy. It is merely, and unforgivably, bigotry.”

But really, enough is enough. The fury over this article is going to confirm the suspicions of the worst elements of society (anti-Semitic white supremacists, prone to conspiracy theory ranting) but Walt and Mearsheimer’s piece is a genuine case for the existence of a loose group of pro-Israel supporters that wield disproportionate amounts of influence over America’s Israel and Middle East policy. It is a relatively rigorous analysis, albeit with a number of debatable points (At, they dispute the contention that the War in Iraq had a Zionist undertone, rather than an oil undertone [2].) It is a serious paper, it is a serious argument and it deserves the attention of serious scholars and serious discussion.

The truth is that Walt and Mearsheimer’s idea of an Israel lobby makes them sound only slightly paranoid, however their basic idea is right. American policy is far too tilted towards Israel, public criticism of Israel does get one labeled an anti-Semite, and all-too-often magazines like the New Republic and op-eds in newspapers like the Washington Post and the New York Times engage in shameless character assassination of anyone who dares to publicly criticize Israeli policy. The truth is that criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitism any more than criticism of Indian policy or Nigerian policy is racism. The truth is that Israel has walked a fine line on the issue of human rights, they control occupied territory and an occupied population who do not have self-determination, and in their “proportional responses” during the Second Intifadah, they killed approximately 30 Palestinians for every one Israeli killed. The truth is that America’s nearly unwavering support for Israel has bought her more animosity than goodwill. Its true that Israel has hardly been a reciprocating ally. And it’s true that we need a public discussion in this country about the American-Israeli alliance, without the words “Anti-Semitism” ever coming up to describe critics of specific Israeli policies. And David Duke’s endorsement is a sorry red-herring-of-an-excuse for slandering this paper. Let us have a real debate.

-E. Desiderius

Relevant Articles:
[1] Washington Post - Yes, Its Anti-Semitic
[2] – Is the Israel Lobby Distorting America’s Middle East Policy? – Breaking the Silence
TNR -Oil and Vinegar

Posted by George Gordon | Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Show Trial of Zacarias Moussaoui

Image hosting by Photobucket

There really is no sadder spectacle than fame-hungry wannabe-martyr Zacarias Moussaoui berating his Zionist-of-a-lawyer for legal negligence and conspiracy; for inflating his role in the attacks to epic proportions; for defending suicide bombing as part of his faith; for fighting with the judge; or for proclaiming that he is certain that President Bush will pardon him and order him released.

The reality of the trial is that there is convincing evidence that Moussaoui is a serial exaggerator, if not an outright liar, who is attempting to ensure his place in the history books and die a brave jihadist’s death at the hands of the tyrannical infidel. His testimony is erratic and inconsistent, his story has changed and fluxuated dramatically since his initial arrest, and he has used the trial for nothing except to spell out his sadly misguided Islamist views. At the same time, the prosecution is engaged in a shameless appeal-to-emotion trial, dragging out the 9/11 victims, and playing the Flight 93 data recorders. Their tactics have worked and every newspaper, radio and television outlet have their eyes fixed on the trial.

Moussaoui deserves neither death, nor the media circus that his trial has become. Its now a grand stage for him to feed his massive ego and air his sadly misguided views. His testimony of his participation in the events of September 11th has been inconsistent to say the least, and his trial has been one large, global soapbox for him to air his views at the expense of American taxpayers. We should deprive him as long as possible of the forty virgins that he so earnestly believes are awaiting him and let him languish in a jail for the rest of his natural life, forgotten and ignored. Let us not even grant him a footnote in the history books.

-E. Desiderius

Relevant Articles:
NY Times – Moussaoui Lashes Out at Defense Team
Washington Post- Moussaoui Lambastes His Lawyers On the Stand
NRP - Moussaoui Lawyers Begin Arguing For Life Sentence
LA Times – Vengeful Moussaoui Proclaims Sanity

Posted by George Gordon | Thursday, April 13, 2006

A Time To Rebuild: The Case For Twin Towers II

Image hosting by Photobucket

At last report, negotiations with the Port Authority, Governor Pataki and Larry Silverstein had broken down over the construction of the Freedom Tower in New York, to replace the fallen World Trade Centers 1 and 2. Good. The Freedom Tower proposal should be scrapped and Kenneth Gardner and Herbert Belton’s Twin Towers II design proposal should be immediately adopted.

The Twin Towers II proposal is a nearly identical exterior reconstruction of the original twin towers, with the symbolic addition of one additional floor, bringing the two buildings to 111 stories. The new design structurally re-engineers the buildings and adds state-of-the art safety features, as well as incorporates part of the wreckage and footprint of the original two buildings into its memorial of the attacks. Further, the project’s website claims that the design is preferred in “all public polls and by the majority of victim’s families” [1]

The Freedom Tower is a much humbler project. Though, it would technically be taller than the World Trade Center Towers, and even the Sears Tower, the design calls for just 80 usable floors, and one tower instead of two. Only the spire and antenna would push the building onto the list of tallest skyscrapers.

The fact remains that September 11th represented the humbling of American military, economic and political power. The Freedom Tower represents a humbling of the city of New York and of the resolve of the American people. True resolve and strength is in the ability to pick up after a disaster. The World Trade Center towers should rise again, from whence they fell. The choice of the World Trade Center as a target was not accident, it was symbolic: The towers represented American economic dominance and power. They were the ultimate status symbol of American wealth, capitalism and the American way of life. They were imposing, commanding towers that dominated the New York skyline. And then they were destroyed.

Our response to the attacks must be equally symbolic. Rebuilding the Twin Towers would be a powerful symbol of resistance and defiance. It would be a resilient message to the world that America is vigorous and dedicated, and vanquished by none. Our nation has always rebuilt in the face of tragedy. When the White House was burned, it was rebuilt. When the South was ravished by war, it was reconstructed. When San Francesco was destroyed, it rose again. The Twin Towers should rise again, and they should stand as an imposing memorial in-and-of themselves, reminding of courage in the face of adversity, and of resistance in the face of fear. The Freedom Tower is a sorry excuse for resilience. We can do better. Out of the ashes of our defeat should come resolve and determination. It is time for New York to be New York once again. Rebuild the Twin Towers.

-E. Desiderius

WTC II Official Site
Twin Towers II Memorial Foundation

Posted by George Gordon | Thursday, April 13, 2006

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Netroots and Lieberman: Why They Are Both Wrong

Image hosting by Photobucket

One thing is clear: the left hates Senator and once time VP candidate Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut. Daily Kos has endorsed his primary opponent Nick Lamont, and the hysteria over his comments that he would consider running as an independent has exploded across left-wing blogs [1]. “Ego, they name is Lieberman. Even if the Democratic voters decide to get rid of him, he's just too important for Connecticut. Right, because Connecticut just can't get enough politicians in Washington who think the Iraq war is going great.” [2], sneered AmericaBlog. “Lieberman as God's gift to the people of Connecticut, as according to Lieberman. I imagine the Democratic voters in Connecticut are going to take a different view. They deserve Ned Lamont, and the country deserves Ned Lamont.” Proclaimed DailyKos [3].

Bloggers are in a huff over Lieberman primarily because of the Iraq War, but many staunch Democrats remember his denouncement of Clinton’s ethical lapses, as well as tolerance of religion in public life. On the issue of the war, he is one of the only high-profile Democrats that remains staunchly in favor of it, he has incurred the wrath of the party’s anti-war wing, with statements such as "I am disappointed by Democrats who are more focused on how President Bush took America into the war in Iraq almost three years ago, and by Republicans who are more worried about whether the war will bring them down in next November's elections, than they are concerned about how we continue the progress in Iraq in the months and years ahead." [4]. It wasn’t long before Pelosi and Harry Reid issued a damnation for his deviant behavior.

The truth about Lieberman is that he is a left-leaning centrist, who believes in safe, legal abortions, albeit with restrictions. He believes in a progressive tax code, and campaign finance reform. He believes in universal health care, and expanded Medicare coverage for 55 to 65 year-olds. He believes that our homeland faces a danger from Islamic Jihadist, and that more money should be spent on homeland security. He is rather hawkish neo-con, who also is a strong Israel supporter. He issued a typical Democratic dodge on the issue of gay marriage, by personally opposing it, but indicating his strong desire to leave the matter to the individual states. These are the makings of a moderate; and a left-of-center one at that. Lieberman is not the demon that the netroot bloggers would have you believe. Instead, he is a classic Third-Way New Democrat. It is perfectly acceptable for the netroots to back a more leftist candidate like Nick Lamont. However, the large-scale denunciation of Lieberman that has occurred on the left since his presence on the Gore ticket is far overblown.

As for Lieberman, his promise to run as an independent is equally absurd. As Daily Kos noted, he would have to file paperwork the day after losing the Democratic primary, and thus would have to collect signatures while still running in the Democratic primary and before the result is known. Lieberman should accept that there is anger concerning his positions during the last six years, and should run a clean, honest primary campaign. If ousted by the Democratic Party, he should quit gracefully, without re-entering the race as an independent. Such a move would make a Republican victory of his Senate seat extremely likely, and 2006 is not an election year in which Democrats can spare losing seats in pity inter-party squabbles.

The left-leaning blogs need to accept that the Democratic party has room for dissent on the opinion of a subject as complex as the war, and that Joe Lieberman is not the darling of the Bush Administration that they believe him to be. Senator Lieberman needs to recognize that his positions have caused controversy, and accept a possible primary defeat with humbleness and grace, without causing a dispute that would surely result in his Senate seat being taken by a Republican in a crucial election year.

-E. Desiderus

[1] AP/Yahoo! – Lieberman Won’t Rule Out Independent Bid
[2] America Blog -Joe Lieberman won't rule out running as an Independent
[3] DailyKos - The ME Democrat: Lieberman Will Run Indy If Dems Don't Nominate Him
Joe Lieberman – The Wall Street Journal - Our Troops Must Stay

Posted by George Gordon | Monday, April 10, 2006

Give Us A Plan: Why John Kerry is Right On the War

Senator John Kerry is a lot of things, but in his recent New York Times Op-Ed, Kerry is right on target [1]. This author has long opposed US withdrawal from Iraq. This would be irresponsible, immoral and disastrous to America’s standing as a responsible world power. However, what this author opposes more than US withdrawal is leaving America’s troops in a dangerous situation without a coherent strategy for victory.

As the Bush Administration is losing its grip on the domestic front, American troops are slowly losing their grip on Iraq. Shiite death squads, roving Sunni gangs, isolationist Kurds, massive amounts of easily obtainable small-arms and the lack of a national government are creating a dangerous security situation. Meanwhile, the only rhetoric the Bush administration can offer is that they made “tactical errors” (Secretary of State Rice), and that we must stay the course. The Bush Administration has even mostly stopped offering up their stock line about criticism of the war as causing demoralization of our fighting men and women, leaving it to rabid right-wing bloggers and the occasional Fox guest.

However, what the Bush administration has not offered is a new approach to the war, for the old one is rapidly crumbling. The Iraqi national government has not formed after five months of negotiations, the Iraqi army and police have been infiltrated with sectarian loyalists who use the trust of their uniform to commit atrocious acts, and American lives are being lost every day. Journalists are being beheaded, sectarian passions are one mosque bombing away from erupting into a full civil war and insurgents are running amuck with impunity.

We Americans, regardless of views on the war, are united in the wish that the US forces could have easily stabilized the country into a model democracy, which could provide her citizens with the same sort of safety and liberty that Americans and Europeans take for granted. We Americans are united in our desires to prevent the needless sacrifice of fighting men and women. We are terrified that withdrawal will mean that ordinary Sunnis and ordinary Shiites will be caught in the crossfire of a brutal sectarian war. However, we cannot allow the Bush administration to offer us more of the same. Where is the war plan? Where do we go from here? How can we ensure the formation of a national unity government? Will a national unity government prevent more sectarian violence? How can we diffuse sectarian tensions and restore the populace’s trust in frail institutions like the Army and the police forces? How can we win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi populace? These are questions that should have been asked years ago, but we are confronted with them now. Americans demand answers to these questions, and the only thing the Bush Administration has offered is rhetoric. This is unacceptable. If the President, and his Secretary of Defense cannot offer us something besides the status quo, then we must leave Iraq immediately

-E. Desiderius

[1] NY Times Op-Ed – Two Deadlines and An Exit

Posted by George Gordon | Monday, April 10, 2006

Enough About MySpace Predators

Image hosting by Photobucket

The respectable print media is slightly behind; however all across television screens in America, Friendster, Facebook and especially MySpace have become synonymous with predators and young children exposing their personal information online. The stories are all the same: shocked parents discovering that their ten to eighteen year-olds have signed up for these social networking accounts, and have revealed dangerous pieces of information, “even,” to quote tonight’s Dateline episode, “their favorite hobby….”

Keeping young children safe online is an admirable goal, of course. However, the hysteria about MySpace is absurd, alarmist yellow journalism that fills technologically inept parents with exaggerated claims of dangers posed by the Internet. UC Berkeley Dana Boyd has studied such networking sites for the last two years and has concluded that, “There have been more articles on MySpace predators than there's been reported predators online. It's a hyped up fear, and it scares the shit out of parents." [1].

This author is no fan of MySpace, believing it to be the second-rate grandfather of a vastly better social networking site (Facebook) and colossal waste of Internet bandwidth. It is a moral cesspool, filled with uninteresting adolescent clones, bland copycat bands and is associated with the sin that is Fox News, seeing as Rupert Murdoch owns it through News Corporation.

However, most young people are safety-savvy on the Internet, more than their panicky, clueless elders give them credit for. Few rush off to meet strangers they met on the Internet, and few predators can dig up any more information on MySpace than they could get from the local phone book, or town newspaper with the high school Dean’s List on page 10. The information that is available on MySpace is useless drivel, such as favorite bands, movies, books and heroes, and the occasional quiz asking hard hitting questions like “What is your favorite ice cream flavor?” and “What’s the best place to be kissed?”

There will always, unfortunately, be sexual predators and parents cannot protect their children at all times. There were sexual predators long before the Internet, the automobile, and the cotton gin, and there will be sexual predators to eternity. MySpace is not to blame, nor does it facilitate prey upon children anymore than the automobile does by allowing people to travel distances quickly. Given the huge number of users of MySpace (it is the 5th most popular English Language website in the world), the small number of abuses is being exaggerated in the same way that the danger of chat rooms was embellished at the dawn of Instant Messenger. Parents, trust your children not to run off with strangers they’ve met online. If you can’t trust them with that, cancel DSL and the telephone line, and invest in a few good locks, and a good behavioral therapist. Otherwise, shut up about MySpace and leave your kids be.

-E. Desiderius

Relevant Articles:
[1] Znet Education – Just How Dangerous Is MySpace.

Posted by George Gordon | Monday, April 10, 2006

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Progressive Heresy: Why Plan B Logically Should Not Be Available Over-the-Counter

Image hosting by Photobucket

On the issue of abortion and reproductive rights, the Democratic Party and the left have a gag-reflex to any sort of restrictions of any sort, regardless of their validity. Granted these are important issues, and this author supports a woman’s access to safe, legal abortions. However, in the battle over Plan B, the left is being intellectually dishonest.

First, this author does not believe Plan B causes an abortion. It merely prevents fertilization. Nor does this author believe that human life begins at the moment of conception. It is the drug itself that poses a problem. Plan B is simply a higher dose of the hormones that are in oral contraception. However, oral contraception requires a doctor’s prescription, as well as visits and checkups every three months. It simply makes no sense to make a higher dose of prescription drugs available over the counter.

This argument is too often used by individuals with an underlying intent to keep women from seeking control over their reproductive systems and undermining family planning. However, it also has some validity. The hormones in normal oral contraceptives can have dangerous effects on the cardiovascular system, interact badly with nicotine and cigarettes and can be dangerous to people with cardiovascular-related diseases like hypertension, and diabetes. Current policy treats these drugs as they should be treated – to be used under the supervision of a physician.

Again, there is a valid and compelling interest in allowing women emergency access to these drugs as quickly as possibly, and it often takes time to get a physicians’ prescription. At the same time, a valid case can be made that a stronger dose of oral contraceptives should not simply be made over the counter. A solution is for federal law to require every Emergency Room, and medical facility with a physician on hand to stock the drug. The law should require that ERs and physicians prescribe the drug upon request, if there are no mitigating medical circumstances or conditions present. If pharmacists or doctors refuse on moral grounds, the medical facility must get another pharmacist to dispense the drug or a doctor to prescribe it. If a woman believes that a physician is unjustly withholding the drug, she has the right to a second opinion from a different physician at the same medical facility if possible. Hospitals, medical centers and doctors refusing to prescribe Plan B to women would face a loss of license.

Of course, the other option is to simply make it over-the-counter, a move that this author does not necessarily oppose. However, at the same time, those advocating the immediate availability of these drugs as over-the-counter should at least consider that there are valid reasons that the lower-dose versions require a prescription, and the higher dose versions should as well. People who believe this are not necessarily regressive social conservatives who want to ensure that the woman’s place is in the kitchen, and the maternity ward. They may be progressive or independent-thinking individuals who are perplexed by the logic that a higher-dose of a currently prescription-only drug should be available unregulated by doctors.

-E. Desiderius

Posted by George Gordon | Saturday, April 08, 2006

Friday, April 07, 2006

Democrats Response To Scandal: The Silent, Paralyzed, Loyal Opposition

There is a theory on humor that states that it exists because it creates two parallel realities: a familiar and an unexpected. The incongruity between them creates humor. However, to a close observer of the Bush administration, that element of surprise or the unexpected has disappeared entirely. The satirical Onion joked several weeks ago that Bush was going to create a cabinet-level position to coordinate scandals [1]. Sadly, there is no unexpected reality here. The truth is that the Democratic Party is unable to mount even the most basic opposition, even while the Bush Administration is experiencing scandalous revelation after scandalous revelation. Yet, the Democrats are once again sleepwalking through the news cycles. They have let one incredibly damaging story slip through their fingers, and are about to go of another. Two windfalls of political opportunity have essentially fallen into their lap. And they’re about to squander both.

The first is the story broken by the New York Times concerning the lead-up to the Iraq war. Mr. Bush did not humbly want to avert war and use it as a last resort, as he oh-so-publicly proclaimed. Rather, his mind was set on the invasion, and there is a strong hint among all the writings that has been done on the Iraq War that the President had decided first, and then used (possibly false) intelligence to justify his decision. In fact, the President suggested in a secret memo that it would be possible to fly a U2 spy plane painted in UN colors and attempt to get Saddam to open fire [2]. A modern day Tokin Gulf! Where is the Maddox! Where is the Turner Joy? And remember the The Maine!?

The public opposition against the president deliberately fabricating or lying intelligence is clear cut, and 55% of Americans already believe this is what occured, according to a November 2005 Zogby poll [3]. This is not dangerous territory for the Democrats. Rather, this is a windfall, a political gift! Yet it has slipped out of the news cycles, with a few snide, tame Democratic remarks pasted onto the end of an AP dispatch.

Meanwhile, on the other scandal front, the Plame Affair, Scooter Libby has implicated his former bosses in authorizing a character assassination smear campaign, and the leaking of classified information, but stopped short of saying that he authorized them to leak Valerie Plame’s identity. Of course, the Democratic response was pitiful. “The president and the vice president must be held accountable," Dick Durbin said in a voice that was no doubt as passionateless as an Al Gore parody straight off Saturday Night Live. [4]. And what of Harry Reid? “"The American people must know the truth." Thank you, Senate Minority Leader Reid, ranking Democrat.

The scandals of the Bush Administration have truly become a sad, routine affair. A major respected outlet breaks a news story that implicates the Bush administration in a borderline-illegal and/or immoral activity. Next, Press Secretary Scott McClellan declines to comment. Then Attorney General Alberto Gonzales comes out and either invokes Article II, Section I of the Constitution or the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists of 2001 as legal cover to whatever activity has just been exposed to the news media. Then Democrats in Congress call up the AP and issue the pithiest of public statements, and demand perhaps a committee hearing or two. Then Republicans saturate the airwaves with “Democrats want to let the terrorists bring a nuclear weapon into Manhattan. The President is working to stop them.” And the whole scandal slowly sides into the cesspool of Washington politics, out of sight, and out of mind.

It’s a sad day when such scandals are routine affairs that go without any sort of serious investigation. It’s an even sadder day when the loyal opposition cannot stand against such blatant war mongering, public lies and deceit, misuse of the constitution, character assassination and hypocrisy. The Netroots bloggers have long been screaming for a Democratic veer to the left. But their party cannot even take an articulate stand against some of the most egregious abuses of power and public trust ever seen in Washington. It is truly a sad day in the Nation's capital.

-E. Desiderius

[1] The Onion – Bush to Create Cabinet Level Position to Coordinate Scandal
[2] NY Times – The Road to War
[3] The Washington Post – Zogby/ABC Poll
The Washington Post – Bush Authorized Secrets Released
The Washington Post – Tactic Would be Legal But Unusual
The Nation – Bush, Cheney OK’d Leaks
Yahoo!/AP – Papers: Cheney Aide Says Bush OK’d Leak

Posted by George Gordon | Friday, April 07, 2006

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Colleges, Suicide And Liability: Meet the New Parents

In 2000, an MIT student made repeated suicide threats, and then later tragically died in a fire in her dorm, when her candles sparked a larger fire. Initially ruled a suicide, later evidence posited that the young woman may have been unconscious due to a drug overdose and been unable to awaken and save herself from the blaze.

Out of all this tragedy, the young woman’s parents filed a lawsuit against the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, claiming that they did not do enough to protect their daughter [1]. This author fully comprehends the grief and anger they may have felt over the death of a child. However, making colleges and universities responsible for students’ suicides is a bad policy that pushes universities closer and closer to the role of full-time nanny.

Once, a university experience was one of growth and maturity, and of individual responsibility and a taste of independent living. However, college has ceased to become such. Instead, it can be viewed through Nietzsche terms. It has become a struggle between student’s basest Dionysian impulses of excess and freedom against the Apollonian demand for civility, order and rational exercise that higher learning demands. Students engage in destructive over-indulgence under the noses of their often strict and watchful RAs. Meanwhile, the academic institution insists that the college experience is about learning and personal growth. In reality, colleges have stepped into a role they never should have: parent. And holding a school responsible for a student’s suicide has crossed a line that never should have been crossed.

The relationship between college students in university residence or housing and their institution should be that of a tenant and a landlord. Students should have the right not to have their rooms searched unreasonably, not to be disturbed or inspected by RAs suspecting alcohol or drug abuses. It is incredible the privacy violation that American students put it up with in relation to university systems in other countries. Commonwealth countries, like Britain and Canada, do it differently. There is not the cultural of supervision that American schools have. In many Canadian schools, RAs do not have disciplinary powers, and students have the same rights in their rooms as they would if they were tenants in an apartment building. It is time for American students to ask for similar rights and privileges. It is time for parents to step back and realize that young people make mistakes, and some will be tragic, and no amount of supervision will ever stop that.

The young woman who died at MIT was clearly a bright young woman, who had pre-existing psychiatric conditions. Given her circumstances, it would have better if her parents had stepped in and encouraged her to seek better treatment than the counselors at MIT, rather than leaving her in school. Ultimately, she died a tragic death. However, this should not be a rallying cry for universities to take on the burden of protecting students even further. It should be a lesson in pushing the bounds of supervision too far. Academic institutions are institutions of learning, and their supervisory role is already too great. George Washington University went so far to toss a depressed student out of the university to avoid legal responsibility [2]. [3]. Is this the role we want universities to play? Tossing depressed students out in the cold to avoid a legal responsibility, which they never should have been burdened with, and a supervisory role that they have already taken too far?

-E. Desiderius

-Full Disclosure- This author attended a Commonwealth university.

Relevant Links:
[1] Boston Globe – Parents Strike Settlement With MIT in Death of Daughter
[2] Washington Post – GWU”s Misplaced Priorities
[3] Washington Post – GWU Suit Prompts Questions of Liability

Posted by George Gordon | Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Universal Health Care: Massachusetts' Bold First Step

Today, tiny Massachusetts has once again tackled a serious social issue, long before the rest of the nation has even begun to address it. This time, the measure is universal health care. This author believes that government has an obligation and a mandate to provide her citizens with social services, especially to hard-working Americans who play by the rules. This author believes that risk can be collectivized, minimized and shared in the form of comprehensive social health insurance, and that society can and should extend a hand to the least fortunate. This author opposes single-payer “socialized” universal health care, however supports the eventual creation of a two-tiered system, with guaranteed universal access and coverage.

Thus, this author applauds both houses of the Massachusetts State Legislature, Governor Mitt Romney and Senator Ted Kennedy for crafting the nation’s first nearly universal health care plan [1] [2]. The plan does not socialize the system, yet provides multiple avenues to ensure coverage: raising revenue from business who do not provide coverage, encouraging and requiring the purchase of private insurance from those who can afford it, and covering those who are the most vulnerable and least able to pay for good coverage. And the plan does not create a situation where the standard of care in the state will be lowered dramatically, if at all.

The United States faces a serious health-care crisis. More than forty million people do not have comprehensive health insurance, and the American health care system is one of the most inefficient in the world. America spends more of her GDP than nations with universal health care (USA – almost 14%, Canada – around 9.5%), while not covering a large segment of society. It is refreshing that Massachusetts has stepped up to fill a void where the federal government has failed. This bill represents a historic first for the United States and a bold first step by a progressive, forward leaning state to create what has so long been missing in US domestic policy.

-E. Desiderius

-Full Disclosure: This author was born in Massachusetts.

NY Times – Massachusetts Sets Health Plan For Nearly All
Boston Globe – Mass Bill Requires Health Insurance

Posted by George Gordon | Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Duke: Haughty Arrogance, Rather Than Humble Cooperation

Image hosting by Photobucket

In this country’s legal system, one is indeed innocent until proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, guilty, by a jury of his or her peers. If charges are filed against members of Duke Lacrosse for the rape and sexual assault of a young black woman, they should have a fair trail, without a media circus that surrounds events that have generated such national coverage.

However, it is with the utmost disgust that this author must comment on some of the atrocious stories that are coming out of Duke, due to this firestorm. A recent Associated Press report tries to diffuse some of the controversy over the alleged rape and subsequent charges of Duke being a privileged white haven by focusing on some of the community outreach attempts by Duke University to aid the city of Durham [1]. However, the facts are clear. The same night as the rape, a different woman called 9-11 in tears, after having a racial slur hurled her way. A car in the neighbor was defaced with the letters “KKK.” An eyewitness reports that the alleged female rape victim soon found herself surrounded by forty-odd drunken males, shouting racial slurs. Someone from the party yelled “Hey bitch. Thank your grandpa for my nice cotton shirt.”[2] Moments later, the woman found herself dragged into a bathroom, raped, and beaten and choked. The horrific episode lasted approximately thirty minutes.

In the aftermath of the whole thing, it took the police three days to finally get around to searching the house. It took Duke two weeks to suspend the team. Meanwhile Duke students have gone on record to make absurdly naive statements, along the lines of “I don’t think its, like, fair that Duke gets a bad rep for a rape or a beating or two. Everyone is different and unique! We’re not all like that!.*” Duke sophomore Amy O’Sullivan readily admits that the Duke Lacrosse team is at the top of the university’s social hierarchy. Why? “Because they’re hot!” muses her classmate Julie Blessing. “And they throw, like, the best parties.” [3].

Yes, the best parties indeed. One party included young female co-eds wrestling in a blow-up pool filled with bath oil while their drunken male counterparts shouted lewd remarks and cheered them on. And a few weeks ago, at another one of these highly acclaimed events, a young 27-year old woman was forced to endure physical and sexual humiliation amid an environment of disgusting racial intolerance and male chauvinism.

The fact is that, yes Duke is being blasted by the local community. But the university has been quick to cover up, and slow to care. Slow to care that a young woman may have been violated, that a community may have been irresponsibly divided Slow to care that a team of its students remains complacent in allowing this to take place.. Not a single member of the lacrosse team has ventured information, or even cooperation. And when a local resident expressed her opinion in the local papers, she received a phone call.

"Can I speak with J___** 'the Cunt' M____ who's sticking her nose where it doesn't belong?" [4].

Duke deserves every single bit of scorn that the local community can muster until the University puts its moral and social responsibilities above the relatively petty interests of its athletic teams, and its over-privileged student body. For in the aftermath of the assault, it was the Duke Lacrosse coach Mike Pressler who said, “All our focus is on beating the Hoyas now” [5]. And with that, Pressler revealed how crass and heartless Duke and Duke Lacrosse actually are.

-E. Desiderius

*Quote invented for effect.
**Name not reported to protect the individual.

[1] [2] AP/Yahoo - Alleged Rape At Duke Plays To Stereotypes.
[3] [4] – Duke Exposed
[5] NY Times – When Peer Pressure, Not Conscience, Is Your Guide

Posted by George Gordon | Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Monday, April 03, 2006

Senator McCain: The Death of An Honest Man

Senator John McCain was a rare breed of politician: a “maverick” who spoke of integrity, courage and character, a uniter who reached across the entire ideological spectrum and a war hero, who bravely served his nation. He endured the pain and humiliation of torture, and then returned home to dedicate his life to public service. Admiration and respect for Senator McCain defied party lines. In the darkest days of the Bush presidency, liberals and progressives cheered a good many of his high profile stands against the Bush Administration and their Congressional Republicans allies. Independents and even Democrats crossed party lines to vote for McCain in 2000, giving him a string of victories, starting in New Hampshire and continuing until Mr. Bush’s slightly underhanded victory in South Carolina.

Which makes it even more unfortunate that the man who was once revered for his principle and lack of partisanship has now so blatantly become the latest victim of political opportunism. McCain’s sharp rightward tact has been well-covered: Paul Krugman in the New York Times [1], the New Republic’s blog [2] and Daily-Kos [3] are among the venerable outlets who have commented on McCain’s sad string of panders and policy reversals. The facts are in: McCain will vote to preserve the fiscally irresponsible tax cuts which he once opposed, has made up with Jerry Falwell, who believes that Jews are damned to the firepits of hell (and who McCain once decried in the strongest of terms), and has embraced the worst elements of the religious right.

Senator McCain’s book for young people, “Character is Destiny” is a look at thirty-four inspiring stories from history, such as Joan of Arc, Abraham Lincoln, Sir Thomas More, Ghandi, and others. This author must sadly wonder if Mr. McCain has truly taken these tales to heart. For a long time, the Senator was the model of intellectual and public honesty, and the mold of a great politician in an age of blind partisanship. His newly found love for the most intolerant elements of the Evangelical Right, and the intellectual dishonestly and bad fiscal policy of the Bush Administration do not diminish his accomplishments on issues like the torture ban, or campaign finance reform, nor his years spent as a courageous maverick. However, they indicate a man jaded by Washington, and possessed by a Machiavellian desire for a stab at the Presidency. Mr. McCain would do well to re-read his own book, for character in Washington is too often just an empty catch phrase, and for a long while, it seemed that Mr. McCain was one of the few who possessed any.

-E. Desiderius

[1] NY Times Select – John and Jerry
[2] The New Republic Online – The Plank – Straight Talk Follies
DailyKos – Straight Talk Spinning on Meet the Press

Posted by George Gordon | Monday, April 03, 2006

March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 October 2006