Friday, September 30, 2005

Activist judges

With the elevation of a conservative to the Supreme Court, I think it's time to revisit the question of activist judges that the right is always talking about. And I think I agree with them, believe it or not. There are at least two activists on the high court, if you define an activist as someone who wants to change the law to agree with his own views rather than to follow the law. The two are Scalia and Thomas. If anyone is trying to create an activist agenda on the court is these two. Scalia has been quoted as being a true-blue conservative religious believer and Thomas in his opinions seems to want to eliminate two amendments to the Constitution and turn us back to the days of slavery. If you're going to talk about activist judges, let's talk about those two.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

And the BS rolls on

Well, I caught a few minutes of the hearings on John Roberts yesterday and today on NPR. A things come through really quickly:

1. A senator has never seen a microphone where he can resist giving an oration and some of them seemed more intent on expressing their own views and chastising the other side (particularly the left with the ones I caught) than asking questions of the nominee. Some of them seemed more interested in selling the nominee to the nation and their colleagues than getting him to talk about himself.

2. When the nominee did talk in response to questions, he was the slickest willy ever seen in Washington. No wonder the man is considered a great lawyer. He can't answer a question with a simple statement, even if that's what is called for. Instead he takes ten minutes to talk around it and never does answer it unless saying he won't answer it is an answer. When he gets on the court, I wonder if anyone will be able to understand his opinions. Thomas opinions are understandable in English, even if they don't make any logical sense. But Roberts dodges behind the bar association rules, which will not be in effect when he's on the high court to claim an exemption to answer questions. What a bunch of bollyglop!!

3. One of the senators today that I caught was trying to elaborate on Roberts' really poor analogy of the court acting as a umpire. He told about three umpires: one said it wasn't a ball or a strike, until he called it; the other said it was a ball or a strike no matter what he called it; and the third said it was a ball or a strike even if he got it wrong. What no one seems to realize is that an all three might be right, but that an umpire has another point of view: it's a ball or strike if it is outside or inside his strike zone. And different umpires have different strike zones. And different judges have different views of the Constitution of the U.S. Some of them don't even appear to have read it. And I'm wondering if Roberts has.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

A sense of values but not on the right

The right has based its entire program on the idea of "values". But their values have a narrow focus having more to do with the role of people and their sexuality. This article says more than anything about true values worth pursuing and how Katrina has put them into real focus. We aren't all lifted by a rising tide, and even if we are it is the wealthy and the managers who sail off into the sunset. This is very well said in the linked article.

On a different not not connected with the link, I'm suggesting that the federal government's response to Katrina indicates a basic failure of the current administration. Unless it has time to plan its moves or to find someone else to blame or to back stab, it does not react well to sudden events. Had it not been for the resources of the city of New York, 9/11 would have been much worse. Nor has the administration reacted well to the failure of its planning or lack of it in the followup of the Iraqi invasion.

I ask again: How fast will it react if the big one hits California or Washington state? If the big fault in the Midwest shakes its booties as it did 200 years ago? If Shasta or the Sisters or Yellowstone National Park blow up? How safe do you feel now with the Patriot Act and the Homeland Security Agency and no help on the ground for days after New Orleans and the Gulf Coast?

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Where was the help?

Ever since I spent three years in the Air Force at Keesler AFB in Biloxi, I've been fascinated by Hurricanes. None of them hit the base while I was there, but 1957's Audrey caused the creeks to rise rather dramatically even though it went inland at Lake Charles, LA., a number of miles away. Then Camille hit in 1969 and wiped out the Gulf Coast. We have had experience with the big winds over a period of at least a hundred years (the big one hit Galveston in 1900). So now we are getting the post mortem, but I have a question to ask: why wasn't help in place to come into the coast as soon as the storm ended. Instead we are waiting on boats out of Virginia and National Guard from the states to organize enough to come into the destruction zone. What is taking so long? Why weren't the basic in place and ready to move as soon as the storm passed? We had days to prepare for what was foreseen as an even more destructive storm than actually occurred. Did no one expect people to act as they always do in a crisis? The majority shows its best side, the minority turns destructive. And is it truly looting if all someone wants is water and food from a store where they normally get it, even if there is no one to collect their money?

The New Orleans Times Picayune ran a series in June 2002 about the dangers to New Orleans of a direct hit by a major hurricane. National Geographic had an article about it several years ago. We were warned of what could happen. We knew that the area could be very hard hit. Granted, it seemed at first that New Orleans had been spared but that still meant the Gulf Coast would need help. Why wasn't that help ready to roll when the storm ended?

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