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.
We hand a man a gun and ask him to protect us. If something goes horribly wrong, perhaps in a flurry of panic, we don't rush to punish him. We make sure a criminal justice system meant to protect all citizens also protects him. We blanket him in the presumption of innocence. It's the reason juries are loath to convict and, as happened in Missouri, grand juries are loath to indict officers involved in shootings.
Last year, Philadelphia abortionist Dr. Kermit Gosnell stood trial in Philadelphia for the deaths of one woman and seven babies who had their throats slit, but national reporters didn't want to cover it. It's a "local crime story," they said. Washington Post media blogger Erik Wemple said that when he asked national reporters about avoiding the Gosnell story, the typical response was "Get out of my face with this agenda-driven stuff, and come back when you have a real story."
In December 2001, I wrote my first column urging President George W. Bush to commute the sentence of Clarence Aaron, a federal drug offender who, at age 24 in 1993, was sentenced to life without parole for a first-time nonviolent drug conviction. Aaron has been part of my holiday season every year since Bush left the Oval Office and Barack Obama succeeded him.