Barack Obama has just taken his first baby steps into a war in Syria that may define and destroy his presidency.
When I first started teaching criminal law (decades ago), I spent weeks on the Fourth Amendment and the "zone of privacy." The big case was Katz v. United States, decided in 1967. The FBI suspected that Charles Katz was using a payphone in a phone booth (those enclosed spaces we used to rely on before cellphones) to transmit gambling information to folks in other states (a federal offense). So they attached a listening device to the outside of the booth, which picked up his end of the conversation. He was convicted and, on appeal, claimed that the government should have ...
It has become evident that Barack Obama's definition of "fundamentally transforming the United States" includes Big Brother harassing selected conservatives while monitoring everybody's email and telephone traffic. These seem to be among the surprising duties of the Internal Revenue Service and the National Security Agency (NSA), respectively.
Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald wrote that Edward Snowden, the 29-year-old former intelligence analyst who leaked information on huge U.S. data mining operations, "will go down in history as one of America's most consequential whistleblowers." House Speaker John Boehner called Snowden "a traitor." Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein railed that he had committed "treason."
Next year should be a banner year for the GOP, and may yet be.
The scandals surrounding the Obama administration come down to one common theme - that the ever-growing size and scope of our federal government gives it enormous power over virtually every aspect of our lives, power that in the wrong hands can be used to reward supporters, exact revenge and punish enemies. In education, health care, transportation, energy, disaster relief, welfare, commerce, work and salary rules, and on and on, the federal government plays an outsized role completely inconsistent with the Founding Fathers' notion of a limited government that allows maximum personal liberty.
The unfolding story of the Obama administration monitoring not just telephone records but Internet usage has drawn media coverage with adjectives like "astonishing." No doubt about it, even the pro-Obama press acknowledges it is a scandal. Still, it is laughable that the media would label him a "dictator" or discuss the "I word."
Before President Barack Obama took a question on intelligence surveillance and stepped on his message in an odd and hastily put-together event in San Jose on Friday, the president made a few scheduled remarks about California's implementation of his Affordable Care Act.
"Gentlemen do not read each other's mail," said Secretary of State Henry Stimson of his 1929 decision to shut down "The Black Chamber" that decoded the secret messages of foreign powers.
SAN JOSE - "Nobody's listening to your phone calls," President Obama proclaimed at a Friday event that was supposed to be about California's implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
The specter of school shootings has brought a too-typical staple to local newspaper sections: the boys disciplined at (or suspended from) grade school for bringing a toy gun or anything resembling a gun.
Tupac Shakur, the rapper killed in an unsolved and possibly gang-related murder, once said: "I know for a fact that had I had a father, I'd have some discipline. I'd have more confidence." Tupac admitted he began running with gangs because he wanted structure and protection: "Your mother cannot calm you down the way a man can. Your mother can't reassure you the way a man can. My mother couldn't show me where my manhood was. You need a man to teach you how to be a man."
Ruth Asawa's "San Francisco Fountain" owes Apple big time. Before the tech behemoth announced its plans to plop a slick, glassy Apple Store where Levi's and the fountain plaza reside, many locals were blithely unaware of the bronze landmark. Mayor Ed Lee apparently forgot about it when he cozied up to Apple execs announcing their plans to bulldoze (in effect) and build over the northeast corner of San Francisco's Union Square.
Sen. Carl Levin was aghast.
Fifty years after poverty in America briefly became a front-burner issue on our nation's political agenda, it's time to move it off the back burner again.
Here's what I love about the French: They've long understood the dangers presented by radical Islam. French President Francois Hollande swiftly called the deadly Wednesday shooting at Paris' Charlie Hebdo magazine "an act of exceptional barbarity," without doubt a terrorist attack. There was no hedging. The Socialist leader didn't engage in the sort of blather White House spokesman Josh Earnest offered on MSNBC shortly after the shootings. Earnest called the attack a "terrible act of violence," but not necessarily terrorism.
Congress, which had been so tied up in a partisan knot by right-wing extremists that it became unable to move, suddenly sprang loose at the end of the year. Before heading home for the holidays, it put on a phenomenal show of acrobatic lawmaking.
For the third time, the cops of the NYPD have turned their backs on the mayor of New York.
While last year's voters put a pack of reactionaries in charge of the new Congress, let's not forget that bigger majorities of the same electorate leapt at the chance to say "yes" to an array of unabashedly progressive ballot initiatives.
"The Interview" is a funny movie that does a stand-up job showcasing how a not particularly serious or informed person would deal with Kim Jong Un - and evil itself, with all its blandishments. James Franco plays talk show host Dave Skylark, who discovers that the North Korean dictator loves his show. Skylark's susceptibility to flattery renders him willfully blind. Because Kim plays up to him, Skylark wants to believe that the phony grocery his chauffeured car happens to drive by is real, that reports that Kim starves his people are the result of media bias and that Kim, like ...
The past month of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and the Winter Solstice, our hearts grew warmer and our thoughts turned to kindness and goodwill toward all.
In July of 1870, King Wilhelm sent Foreign Minister Bismarck an account of his meeting with a French envoy who had demanded that the king renounce any Hohenzollern claim to the Spanish throne.
It has become a never-ending quest to define millennials. Those between the age of 18 and 34 are often portrayed as a self-absorbed, narcissistic generation obsessed with technology. They are a group more likely to check their Twitter or Instagram apps than keep up with world events. In fact, voters age 18-29 made up a mere 13 percent of the vote in this month's mid-term elections.
Peace on Earth, good will toward men. We honor these noble values every holiday season - and some people actually work to advance them all year long.
"NYPD, KKK, How many kids did you kill today?"
An old bumper sticker offered a stinging response to the Bush-Cheney regime's enthusiasm for waterboarding: "Impeach Bush," it urged. "Torture Cheney."
There are 250 million Christians in America today, but most seem to be oblivious of the fact that they and their religion are under steady attack from those who apparently hate Christianity, or at least want to expunge Christianity from any public place or mention. That hatred seems to extend to all sorts of evidences of Christianity in our society, such as Christmas, which is a federal holiday.
Do you - or does anyone - really need a book of rules and a three-hour briefing to do your job ethically?
I have a theory as to why Americans don't worry all that much about global warming: High-profile purveyors of climate change don't push for reductions in greenhouse gases so much as focus on berating people who do not agree with their opinions. They call themselves champions of "the science" yet focus on ideology more than tangible results.
The celebrations in Havana and the sullen silence in Miami tell you all you need to know about who won this round with Castro's Cuba.