Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Small Thoughts

Just time for a few notes this morning, before I get ready to speak at the conference I am attending. But I can't resist mentioning:

Today's Scariest News Story

You have to get to page 21A in USA Today (scourge of hotel guests with a hunger for news, but usually the only paper they deliver to your door) to find this one, but the headline reached out and grabbed me: "Bush vows to work on cost of Medicaid."
Yup. Once he destroys Social Security, Bush is determined to screw up another important safety net program, the one that helps poor families obtain basic medical care. Says the prez: "We want Medicaid to work. We also recognize that the system needs to be reformed."
I don't think I've ever felt sorry for a word before, but I pity the word "reform." Bush has turned it from a benevolent term into possibly the scariest word in the English language.
Well, maybe second scariest, next to "rendition," which used to connote performance of a song.

The Supremes

Everyone expects the cancer-stricken William Rehnquist to resign from the Supreme Court at the end of the term this spring. If we have to lose a justice during Bush's tenure, Rehnquist is one of the ones we can afford to have replaced. He has opposed pretty much every progressive ruling the court has handed down during his tenure. Few of us would mind if Antonin Scalia or Clarence Thomas stepped down, but that is unlikely to happen. Scalia, at 69, seems healthy, and while Thomas is the court's worst justice, he is also its youngest, the only one less than 65.
What we need to hope is that Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, David Souter, John Paul Stevens and even Sandra Day O'Connor can remain in place until a progressive president is elected in 2008.
Unfortunately, O'Connor and Ginsburg are said to be in poor health. Still, O'Connor has been rumored to be contemplating retirement for several years now, and has remained on the bench. Although she is the court's most prominent "swing" voter, siding with the progressives in some cases and with the conservatives on others (most notoriously, in handing Bush his 2000 victory), she is at least a voice of reason. And somehow, her continued presence on the panel makes me think that she realizes the dangers -- to the court and to the country -- of stepping down during this administration.
In the recently released tapes of his conversations before the 2000 election, Bush held up John Ashcroft as someone who would make a good justice. We all should be very afraid of that possibility.
Ashcroft's name doesn't seem to be coming up much in current speculation about whom Bush might name to replace Rehnquist. Maybe Bush realizes that he would be the most polarizing nominee since Robert Bork. Or, maybe he has decided that Ashcroft is too moderate ...

Fighting Fox

Something disturbing I've seen a lot lately: Fox News has become the "default" channel in many hotels, health clubs, airports and other places, replacing CNN. We need to fight this. I have no experience as a political organizer, but I would like very much to look into an e-mail campaign targeted at some of the outlets where I have spotted this trend.
Marriott hotels and 24 Hour Fitness health clubs are two that deserve letters. I invite others to send their e-mails to Marriott and 24 Hour Fitness, and to alert me when they encounter other businesses where the televisions are tuned to Fox.