Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Alito Moves Closer to Confirmation. Australian Anniversary.

Alito Moves Closer to Confirmation

The Alito confirmation to the Supreme Court moved one step closer to becoming an ugly reality today as the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the Bush boy along a party-line vote. Sad Google News CNN.com excerpt:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito received approval from a Senate panel Tuesday on a 10-8 party-line vote, setting up a potentially contentious floor fight later this week.

Despite the partisan tone, Alito is expected to become the 110th justice on the high court. All 10 Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee supported Alito, praising his qualifications and long judicial career. The panel's eight Democrats opposed him, saying he would be too deferential to presidential authority and would restrict abortion rights.

The next -- and final -- step in the confirmation is a vote by the full Senate, which committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pennsylvania, said is expected by the end of the week.

"All of the evidence points to a judge who can render justice with respect to persons," said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. "The reason why so many senators cannot support Judge Alito is because they cannot support a limited judiciary."

No Orrin, the reason so many senators cannot support judge Alito is because he is a knuckledragging brute who just happen to have better manners than the knuckledragging brutes who happen to be backing his nomination. Now if the Democrats can only muster enough guts to filibuster this monster, we might stand a chance of passing for a civilized nation once again...

The committee's ranking Democrat, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, supported Chief Justice John Roberts last fall. But this time, Leahy said, "I am concerned that if we confirm this nominee, it will further erode the checks and balances" between the branches of government. Democrats have all but dismissed any attempt to filibuster the nomination. But several on the panel used the vote to attack the president's policies.

Well Harry, you're one-for -two. At least you didn't bend completely over for Alito the way you did for Roberts...

"We have a president who claims he has the authority to spy on persons on American soil without the court order required by law," said Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, referring to the disclosure Bush authorized the National Security Agency to conduct secret wiretapping on U.S. citizens in connection with terror investigations. "The record demonstrates that we cannot count on Judge Alito to blow the whistle when the president is out of bounds."

Full Story

I can't keep covering the same ground about this terrible prospect. Barring a Democratic filibuster, we can look forward to the day Roe v Wade is overturned, further erosion of minorities, womens and workers rights, and a continuing journey down the path to an imperial Presidency.

Australian Interlude

On a happier note, today marks the first anniversary of the date I landed in Sydney, Australia to begin a three-week training course for my company's North Ryde support center. North Ryde is a suburb of Sydney about a 30-minute drive slightly north-west of the city.

After a 5 1/2-hour flight from Boston to Los Angeles, and another 14 hours from LA to Sydney, I found myself having to exchange some currency, drive on the left side of the road (with the steering wheel on the right side of the car) to my hotel after having "lost" a day during the flight.

At this time of year, Sydney is 16 hours ahead of Boston, so I was ready for my body clock to become completely confused. Somehow, that did not happen. I spent my first day finding my hotel, unpacking and checking out the huge Macquarie Centre Plaza, located just across the street from Macquarie University, a mere five-minute stroll from my hotel, the Stamford Grand. The office is on the Technology Park on the campus, and the building was easy to find.

The crew at the hotel were friendly and efficient, and eager to help at a moments notice. Once the work began, I was treated to a varied cast of characters, about half of whom are native Australians. The other half is a mixture Chinese, English, Indian, Indonesian, Irish, Japanese, Korean, Malaysian and others of south-east Asian extraction.

Among my tasks were to give a database training overview to the roughly four-dozen people who operate the support center. Another task was to interview outside candidates for that same full-time position. We came away with a winner in Julie, who, it seems, has done such a terrific job, that I am stuck here typing this from frozen New England instead of enjoying another three weeks of Southern Hemisphere Summer (sigh).

But it wasn't all work. While there, I experienced Sydney Day, a holiday that celebrates the anniversary of Lord Sydney's arrival in what would become Sydney Harbor on January 26, 1788, so let me send a shout out to my friends to have a Happy Sydney Day.

The Harbor is magnificent with the famed Sydney Opera House and the Contemporary Art Museum on opposite sides of Circular Quay. The Royal Botanical Gardens and the Natural History Museum are a short walk from the Quay. I also ventured into the Sydney Cricket Grounds for some "one-day" cricket versus Pakistan. As a baseball fanatic, I was eager to see this sport up close, and I can say that while there are similarities to baseball, the differences were intriguing enough that it might be a good thing I am, for now, staying put right here. I have a feeling I'd become a cricket fanatic in no time at all.

As an astronomer, I was prepared for, but nonetheless astonished to see the Moon and the familiar northern constellations situated "upside-down", or else, invisible. The converse was that the south circumpolar sky, invisible from where I sit typing, was revealed in all it's splendour. Carina, Centaurus, Crux (The Southern Cross), Puppis and Vela formed a stunning panorama with the extreme Southern Milky Way. Oh yes, the Sun appears to move from right to left in the sky. What better way to grasp the concept of all things being relative.

Well, I can see this piece is getting a bit long, so I'll end this post by saying G'Day to my mates: Alyson, Aya, Colin, Denis, Gordon, Grant, Julie, Judy, Malcolm, Naomi, Prabhat, Travis, Winsie and a very special shout out to Lorna!

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