A Supreme Choice; Highly Ungretafying; Strike Two for Unions?; Facebook 2.0
A Supreme Choice
All’s (relatively) quiet on the nomination front, and Democrats cannot stand it.
President Bush has nominated Judge John Roberts to fill the vacancy left by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s recent retirement from the Supreme Court. The opposition to Roberts’ appointment as Supreme Court Justice is multifaceted. On the Right, Ann Coulter is convinced Roberts is a “stealth candidate;” that is, that he will turn out to be a liberal activist judge like Justices Stevens and Souter. However, most on the Right, including talk radio hosts Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, agree that he has a record of adhering to strict constructionist judicial philosophy. This group points to Roberts’ involvement in such cases as the dispute over the reach of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, meant to ban gender discrimination in “any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” Debate arose when some liberals claimed that any school benefiting indirectly from federal aid (through tuition grants to students, for example) was entirely subject to Title IX. In a 1982 memo to then-Attorney General William Smith, Roberts wrote, “Under Title IX federal investigators cannot rummage willy-nilly through institutions, but can only go as far as the federal funds go.”
The Coulter crowd cites Roberts’ pro-bono work in Romer v. Evans, which, despite the press’s insistence, was not chiefly about “gay rights,” but rather about the Supreme Court overstepping its bounds. Roberts worked for the side that benefited from the Court ignoring the limits of its own jurisdiction (and that championed the “gay rights.” Yet Roberts’ involvement seems to have been minimal, as he spent a mere few hours participating in a moot court.
On the Left, the New York Times, hardly known as the champion of journalistic integrity, went digging for the adoption records of Roberts’ two young children not long after nasty criticism emerged from the liberal media concerning the clothes worn by Roberts’ kids at his formal nomination event with the President.
Meanwhile, Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer and Dick Durban, among others in Congress, have hinted at litmus tests on all sorts of issues, including abortion and religion. The focus of the confirmation hearings should be Roberts’ resume and judicial philosophy in general, not how he would vote on various issues. While these opponents examine Roberts’ personal ideas, they completely ignore his golden resume. He graduated summa cum laude from Harvard in only three years, and magna cum laude from Harvard Law School three years after that. Since then, he has worked as a lawyer in private practice and for various state and federal administrations. As a judge, his record has been spotless.
Democrats must be disappointed—President Bush could have chosen any number of other qualified, but more easily attacked, judges for O’Connor’s seat. Instead, they are left leveling what will likely turn out to be not only petty but also useless attacks against a man with a stellar record who is a fair, consistent, and a non-activist judge.
FOX News reporter Greta Van Susteren’s obsession with Natalee Holloway’s disapperance is getting old.
The ads brag, “Greta owns this story!” Fox News reporter Greta Van Susteren has used her mad defense attorney skills to track down and interrogate people suspected to be involved in the disappearance of missing southern belle Natalee Holloway. One night Greta covered the search for clues in a landfill. She suggested the investigators needed more help, since they only had two back-hoes and three people searching through the rubbish. This could have been a great moment in news history: Greta donning grubby clothes and getting her hands dirty (look out, Rosie the Riveter!). Instead, much like her attentive viewers, our brave reporter merely did her best to look concerned.
On many nights there was nothing new for the Fox Snooze journalist to report. Still, this did not stop her from broadcasting live the draining of a pond in which they later found duct tape with hair not belonging to Natalee. At this point, one begins to think Greta’s time might be better spent on a different story.
Tunnel vision, however, kept Greta on task. Natalee must be found, and Greta must get the exclusive interview with the damsel in distress! Can her obsession be pinned on a slow news summer? Unlikely, amidst London terror bombings, the Valerie Plame hype, and the ongoing clean-up of Iraq. Greta’s intense Aruba coverage suggests Natalee was the only person to go missing this decade, but she is just one of many such children—roughly 800,000 each year.
Perhaps Greta is obsessed because this case has everything she could ever hope for in a prolonged and suspenseful news story: an attractive young woman at the center of international intrigue as relations between a foreign country and the United States go down the drain with the repeated release of guilty-looking suspects. Oh, the drama. Natalee’s mother, Beth Twitty, went off the deep end when she labeled the main suspects, Joran van der Sloot and the Kalpoe brothers, criminals and begged all countries to deny them entry. While these young men may in the end be found guilty, one must assume they are innocent until that time. Eventually, Natalee’s mother apologized for her libelous statements, but the Twittys did not change their behavior. Jug Twitty, Natalee’s step-father, told Greta that a sexual act was committed on Natalee without her consent. He would not initially go so far as to call it a rape; he merely described it as one.
Commendably, Greta has expanded her show to include other missing people. Meanwhile, journalists such as Bob Costas have declined to cover the search, and CNN President Jonathan Klein slammed the Holloway story as “brainless.” At least some in the news industry have standards. That, and, as Jon Stewart pointed out on The Daily Show, CNN was too busy airing its own brainless coverage of funny looking animals and Pamela Anderson discussing her tattoos with Larry King.
Surely, Americans hope for the safety of Natalee, however unlikely that appears at the moment. On the other hand, Americans can do more to help in finding missing people in the United States than in far-off Aruba. Attention should be focused on what active citizens can accomplish at home, not mindless ratings-driven drama in a foreign country.
Strike Two for Unions?
Northwest’s handling of its mechanics strike shows growing union weakness.
Score one for Northwest Airlines in the battle against labor unions. Over the past week, the substitute workers Northwest has relied on in place of the striking mechanics of the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA) have performed impeccably on the job, keeping mechanically related aircraft delays at a minimum. A clear message has been sent to the labor unions that once thought that they were invincible, and it may read: “Your days are numbered.”
For years, Northwest Airlines had been saddled with the highest labor costs in the entire airline industry. Needing to cut those costs in order to stay competitive, they hoped to bring them closer to the industry average through union negotiations. As a contingency plan in case the talks failed, Northwest made sure they would be able to effectively execute a backup plan to force the union’s hand. By training a group of replacement mechanics for their fleet while they were stuck in the fruitless negotiations with AMFA and then effectively bringing in the replacement workers as soon as the strike began, Northwest has changed the union negotiation battlefield for the entire airline industry.
Northwest’s efforts in using replacement workers have also been aided by the current state of labor unions. Facing declining membership and the fracturing of the AFL-CIO, organized labor is less so than it has been in 25 years, allowing Northwest to replace their mechanics without fear of sympathy strikes by other employees that would be much more difficult to replace. While unions such as the pilot’s union would prove much more difficult to break in this fashion, this move has served to illustrate that the labor unions are no longer invincible and that an arrogant, overpriced workforce that thinks it is more important than the company it works for will no longer be tolerated.
A new design, but the same old risks.
Tufts students’ favorite Internet procrastination has received a makeover. The Facebook is a relatively new Internet phenomenon that was born of students’ desire to conveniently manage and maintain their friendships, old and new.
The new version of the site features an improved interface, and, according to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, is both easier to use and access. Unfortunately, these changes do little to dampen the serious risks associated with its excessive use. At the user’s discretion, members can easily post course schedules, addresses, phone numbers, interests, and photos. In the hands of a stalker, publishing such information can put a student at great risk. On the web, reports abound of people who have learned Facebook restraint the hard way.
Mock accounts impersonating celebrities, politicians, but sometimes even just regular students have always seemed to plague the Facebook, though the site redesign has improved things in this area. If the Bush daughters really were Tufts students, the Source would know. Last year an “Ussama bin Laden” account on the Facebook grew from a simple joke to a security concern when serious hate mail and a virus were sent to the author associated with it.
Facebook users should bear the aforementioned risks in mind before setting up an in-depth biographical profile. To avoid getting burned or even seriously hurt, refraining from irresponsible or risky Facebook behavior is a wise move.