July 13, 2005
President Bush and his supporters have been pounding home the main qualification they want in a Supreme Court nominee. As Bush noted today, the nominee must be "someone who will sit on that bench and interpret the Constitution and not use the bench from which to legislate."
Wednesday, Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, argued in a Star Opinion page essay that following the Constitution "means no writing in nonexistent constitutional rights from the bench — like that of privacy."
Perhaps these denizens of the right should reread the Constitution.
June 29, 2005
In George Orwell's "1984," the main character works at the Ministry of Truth, rewriting the past to conform to the present. Facts, statements, references to people who no longer existed are altered, the original copy destroyed and the corrected copy the new official, and only record.
The process was continuous. Something could be altered over and over. The fixing applied to newspapers, books, films, cartoons, in fact, any kind of literature or documentation. I asked here Tuesday if such a process could happen today. The answer, of course, is yes because of the proliferation of computers and the Internet.
June 28, 2005
I have been rereading "1984," George Orwell's gloomy novel about an ultratotalitarian society, in which the government's motto is "War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignroance is Strength." The novel gave us the concept of Big Brother (the state ruthlessly invading privacy in order to control individuals), the term doublethink (holding two contradictory beliefs and accepting both) and the punishable offence thoughtcrime (any thought not approved by the government).
Many of the ideas and concepts Orwell wrote about have become grist for the mill of challenging whatever one does not like. Big Brother, for example, has been used to describe government-approved laws, rules and regulation, or the tactics of a police force, or an employer who monitors people's use of the Internet or the company's phones for personal use. Religion has long had a tradition of rooting out thoughtcrime — perhaps thoughtsin would be a more apt word to use, but the concept is fairly similar, the belief that people need to do penance for thinking certain thoughts.
June 14, 2005
So, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger after failing to carry through on his promise of trying to work with the Legislature resorts to an end run by calling a special election for Nov. 8. The only problem is that he is going into a venue that has already proved to be one of the main sources of California's problems letting the voters try to govern the state.
Ever since the original Proposition 13 passed, special-interests groups, disgruntled citizens and wanna-be politicians have used the initiative process for self-serving gain trimming taxes, locking in budget allocations, recalling a governor and just generally tinkering in areas where they have little expertise.
June 13, 2005
So, Michael Jackson has been found not guilty. Not that it matters, but who really cares? We shall be subjected (unless we turn off our televisions) to endless speculation on where the prosecution went wrong and recap after recap on every aspect of the trial. Do we have more important things to do with our intellect? Doesn't the news media have more important issues to cover?
For example, after the verdict was read and Jackson and his entourage were in their black SUVs heading back to his Never Never Land ranch near Los Olivos, news helicopters followed the caravan as it spend along Highway 101. Would it have been better if those news organizations covered the solemn return of this nation's war dead?
May 17, 2005
An online response to today's column, "Bush already irrelevant", about Democrats needing to focus on winning control of one or both houses of Congress, noted that I must not be reading the blogs because most comments in the blogosphere are saying just that.
I admit that I do not read blogs as much as I should. But then neither do many other people. A new Pew Internet Project study shows that blog readership hasn't yet reached the point where the threads of conversations blogs start can be considered the talk of the land.
May 16, 2005
When the media get it wrong, the results can be devastating. We need look no further than the tragic incidents that have occurred over the last week because reporters for Newsweek magazine got a story horribly wrong.
The facts: Newsweek reported in its May 9 issue that interrogators desecrated a copy of the Quran at Guantanamo Naval Base, the facility where detainees from the war against the Taliban and its al-Qaida allies in Afghanistan have been held. The report sparked outrage in Afghanistan and, in the ensuing demonstrations, at least 15 people died and scores were injured.
May 12, 2005
My days begin early, at 5 a.m., even on weekends. Very strong coffee set to brewing, first of two morning papers bought in, television turned to CNN's American Morning. Lately, another routine seems to have been added: Arriving in the middle of the latest Iraq death toll from roadside and suicide bombs 69 Wednesday, another 24 today.
Over the last two weeks, insurgents have killed more than 400 people and the rate at which the attacks have been going, scores a day, that toll might easily reach beyond 500 by the weekend. Iraqi civilian casualties haven't been talked of much until this recent spate of bombing. The full toll of ordinary Iraqis killed since the U.S. invaded Iraq in March 2003 has been estimated at between 6,000 and nearly 100,000, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
April 26, 2005
Just after finishing my essay, "Sparing America's courts", for today's edition of The Star, news wires carried a story about Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., offering Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., a possible compromise in the judicial nominee-filibuster standoff.
The offer: If the Republicans withdraw one nominee and back off plans to change Senate rules on filibustering, Democrats would help confirm at least two of President Bush's blocked nominees. Frist's response Tuesday was the equivalent of "drop dead."
April 20, 2005
Republicans appear to be backtracking a bit on two issues that should have been dispensed with quickly. Tuesday, Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee agreed to delay the confirmation hearing of U.N. ambassador nominee and alleged serial abuser of underlings John Bolton for at least two weeks. Over in the House, Republicans on the ethics committee said they were ready to open an investigation into alleged wrong doing by House Majority Leader and judicial attack dog Tom DeLay.
It would be nice if this signaled a softening of GOP smugness, but most likely it is merely politics as usual.