FUBAR

So much for the Constitution

Sandy Levinson has fallen out of love. The University of Texas law professor describes the history of a relationship gone bad in his book, “Our Undemocratic Constitution.”

Levinson, like Americans in general and lawyers in particular, was taught from an early age to revere the U.S. Constitution. As a legal academic, he spent much of his career studying what are considered the sexy issues in constitutional law: matters involving freedom of speech and religion, questions of racial discrimination, and so forth.

Writers on strike? Who cares?

Once, labor negotiations were seismic events in this country — steel, coal, autos. The country held its breath when the companies and unions sat down to bargain.

But recently, when the United Auto Workers settled with GM and Chrysler after brief strikes, and with Ford with no strike at all, few noticed. It commanded little press attention.

The irony of immigration reform

I dropped by a friend’s house the other day to do some sidewalk overseeing of the removal of two 70-foot oak trees, no small task. The company he had hired wasn’t one of those operations where they knock on one’s door and offer to get rid of deadwood for a few hundred dollars. It was a major, cherry picker, shredder-equipped outfit with a four-man crew neatly dressed in white logo shirts and green pants. They were all licensed and bonded.

Anyone here feel a draft?

The chatter has begun again: Plans are afoot to revive the national military draft.

In the past, these rumors have risen from the ranks of those opposed to the war in Iraq, who used the specter of the draft to gin up support for their side.

Now, it’s some of those who are doing the fighting who are asking if a draft might be necessary, given the enormous strain the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts are putting on the nation’s troops.

Too much of a bad thing

My freshman composition students often express contradictory attitudes about violence in our culture.

On one hand, they’re attracted to violence as the subject of essays for our course. In general, they deplore its proliferation throughout society, in video games and movies, on television and the Internet. Sometimes they connect violence in the media to higher crime rates, school shootings and the general decline of Western Civilization.

Americans want change in direction

Sixty percent of all Americans strongly want the country to change direction after nearly seven years of President George W. Bush’s rule, according to a new opinion poll released late Sunday.

The survey by The Washington Post and ABC News indicated that only 24 percent of those surveyed think the nation is on the right track, and three-quarters said they want the next president to chart a different political course.

A new direction is wanted not only by Democrats, but also by three-quarters of Independents and even half of Republicans, according to the poll.

U.S. may close Gitmo prison

The US government is considering closing a war-on-terror detention center at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and granting it detainees substantially greater rights, The New York Times reported on its website Saturday.

Citing unnamed officials involved in the discussions, the newspaper said the plan also called for possibly moving most of the detainees to the United States.

A clear case of U.S. impotence

It’s August 2009, oil prices have topped 150 dollars a barrel and a secret uranium plant has been detected in Iran.

Tehran and Caracas are slashing oil exports by 700,000 barrels to punish the West for sanctions, and the US military is ready to move its entire Pacific fleet into the Middle East to counter threats.

It may be tomorrow’s headlines, but on Thursday a high-powered panel of Washington insiders acting as the US president’s national security council found they would face almost impossible choices and be powerless in such a case, baring the United States’ growing inability to lead in global crises.

Shock jock Imus back on radio

A little more than six months ago, Don Imus’ career seemed doomed. The shock jock had been fired over a racist and sexist remark that ignited an uproar over the limits of taste and tolerance.

But the cantankerous Imus has clambered back from the professional brink before, and the Rasputin of radio is poised to do it again.

Citadel Broadcasting Corp. announced Thursday that Imus would return to radio Dec. 3., confirming long-rumored reports that he was coming back to morning drive time on WABC-AM, based in New York — the same city where he was banished from the airwaves last spring.

The cost of intelligence

One of the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission was that the figure for overall U.S. spending on intelligence should be made public annually.

A law enacted this summer required that the Bureau of National Intelligence produce that number 30 days after the end of the federal fiscal year. That was Sept. 30, and Tuesday, 30 days later, came the figure — $43.5 billion for fiscal 2007.

If there is a surprise, it is that the total is lower than most outside experts had estimated. They put it at around $45 billion.