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Angst and Awe on the Internet

Well, it had to happen. As the Internet emerges as the central nervous system of global capitalism, the Luddite left is bursting into “flames” against the microcosm and telecosm, against interlinked computers and the global radiance of electromagnetic communications. This rising resistance resonates with the press coverage that has long lavished attention on the excesses of the Net. Richard Shaffer Read More ›

America Unmasked

I’m a think tank pogue, specializing in national defense. “Pogue,” by the by, is a venerable military term, meaning anybody who’s farther from the fighting than you are. By this standard, Seattle’s a pretty poguey place. Still, whenever the metallic density of the air increases somewhere, I morph into a Media Resource. Since the ordnance started popping in Yugoslavia, I’ve Read More ›

Envy of the World?

Fifteen years ago, an historian of American culture captured in one sentence the essence of the decision-making that got us into Vietnam. In his brilliant (and therefore sadly ignored) book, “Backfire,” Loren Baritz called it the work of men “who didn’t know how to win, but couldn’t conceive of losing.” Today, it’s reversed. The decisions of the Clinton administration regarding Read More ›

Going for Lofty Goals

Congratulations to the United States Army. When Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki gave his recent “Army Vision” speech to an Army audience, he offered a set of goals that are correct, compelling, and–if aggressively pursued and adequately funded–the best thing to happen to the service since Desert Storm or the day they consumed the last of their Nam-era C-rations, whichever Read More ›

Think tanks Instrumental Weapons in Conservative Arsenal

Polls show that the public primarily blame Republicans in Congress, rather than President Clinton, for the recent (and future?) government shutdown. Those who blame both sides equally think that the battle is merely “political” in the worst sense. At the state level, Referendum 48, the property rights initiative, was soundly defeated earlier this month by a margin of 60-40. Is Read More ›

California v. Gnatcatcher?

Not long after his firm bought more than 2,300 acres of prime southern-California real estate, John Barone learned that the property was full of gnatcatchers. A compactly built man with shaggy black hair, Barone has a confident, loquacious style that some people might describe in terms of the can-do optimism of the American West, which is where Barone has lived Read More ›

Puget Sound Chinook and the Endangered Species Act

On March 9, 1998, the National Marine Fisheries Service officially announced its intent to add the Chinook salmon of Puget Sound to the endangered species list. The Service has until next March to make a final decision, and all indications point to a listing of the Chinook. Should that happen, residents of the Puget Sound area will come face to Read More ›

Surprise, Surprise

On October 4, 1995, Hurricane Opal made landfall along the Gulf coast near Pensacola, Florida. With 125-mph winds and 20-foot storm surges, the hurricane smashed boats and buildings, cutting a swathe northward through Alabama. As it crossed the border into North Carolina, the storm finally dissipated. Twenty-seven people lost their lives, and the hurricane was responsible for nearly $2 billion Read More ›

Grown From Within

We shall never achieve harmony with land, any more than we shall achieve justice or liberty for people. In these higher aspirations the important thing is not to achieve, but to strive. The problem, then, is how to bring about a striving for harmony with land among a people many of whom have forgotten there is any such thing as Read More ›

Can Privatization Put Passenger Rail Back on Track?

America needs passenger rail service as an economical and ecological alternative to endless road and airport construction. Unfortunately, Amtrak cannot (and probably should not) survive as it is presently structured and funded. Perpetuating the status quo will burden America with a lame, government-run passenger operation, limping along on the nation's freight rail rights-of-way, operating under outdated federal rules from its 1970 authorization, and surviving on Congressional handouts. But, the solution is not to throw Amtrak on the market, accepting whatever happens. What would happen is, Amtrak would die. The proper course is to reorganize the system, privatizing whatever can be privatized, building new public-private alliances and compacts around the set of rail corridors that link cities 100-500 miles apart-which is the functional core of the national system-and then reconnecting this reorganized nation system to other forms of transportation to create a true intermodal passenger network. Read More ›