Sunday, May 31, 2009

Not Suprised and Yet Surprised: How the Conservatives are Attacking Sonia Sotomayor

Of course, I knew the Republicans were going to fight whatever nominee President Obama selected to fill the opening on the U.S. Supreme Court. However, when President Obama selected Judge Sonia Sotomayor, I have been surprised at what they have attacked the most: one sentence uttered by the judge during a speech she gave to the La Raza group at UC Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law in 2001:

"I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."
This has led to conservative spokespeople Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich calling her a "new racist" and "reverse racist" -- laughably non-existent terms they have just made up. It is wrong on so many levels, but I am going to try and capture all of my swirling thoughts on the rich (and disgusting) irony of this.

First, the quote often referenced has been taken completely out of context. Read the whole speech here. It is a thoughtful rumination on what it means to be Latina in the judiciary system and how varied backgrounds, no matter how impartial we aspire to be, shape our lives and opinions and, yes, judgments. Seriously, read it. Here is just a bit more of the speech that is way more illuminating in how Judge Sotomayor thinks:
Each day on the bench I learn something new about the judicial process and about being a professional Latina woman in a world that sometimes looks at me with suspicion. I am reminded each day that I render decisions that affect people concretely and that I owe them constant and complete vigilance in checking my assumptions, presumptions and perspectives and ensuring that to the extent that my limited abilities and capabilities permit me, that I reevaluate them and change as circumstances and cases before me requires. I can and do aspire to be greater than the sum total of my experiences but I accept my limitations. I willingly accept that we who judge must not deny the differences resulting from experience and heritage but attempt, as the Supreme Court suggests, continuously to judge when those opinions, sympathies and prejudices are appropriate.
OK, second. Take a look at these quote and just guess who said them:
"Because when a case comes before me involving, let’s say, someone who is an immigrant — and we get an awful lot of immigration cases and naturalization cases — I can’t help but think of my own ancestors, because it wasn’t that long ago when they were in that position. [...]

And that goes down the line. When I get a case about discrimination, I have to think about people in my own family who suffered discrimination because of their ethnic background or because of religion or because of gender. And I do take that into account."
"I believe, Senator, that I can make a contribution, that I can bring something different to the Court, that I can walk in the shoes of the people who are affected by what the Court does."
The first quote is from Samuel Alito during his confirmation hearing and the second is from Clarence Thomas. So apparently, it is OK for conservatives to make reference to how a diverse background can make them a better choice. I don't remember anyone calling Thomas or Alito racist, do you?

Third, it is so ironic for Rush Limbaugh to call anyone racist. It's like a pot calling not the kettle, but snow, black. Check out some of these Rush Limbaugh horribly racist quotes. Things he has actually said to his radio audience. It's absolutely disgusting.

And finally, let's please acknowledge that yes, diversity is something to be valued. Over the entire history of the U.S. Supreme Court, 106 of the 110 justices have been white males. Two have been women, and two have been African-American men. Here is a great summary of how no matter how much a white male may try to understand what a woman or person of color goes through, they can't fully appreciate it: red stapler: Sotomayor and Latina vision So yes, bringing different backgrounds and experiences can only enhance the Court.

Sonia Sotomayor is intelligent and qualified for the Court. The funny part is that I wish President Obama had chosen someone more obviously liberal. He picked a moderate, but the Republicans just can't seem to accept the fact that they are out of power. Do they even realize how much they are turning off much of the electorate? Don't they remember how they were supposed to be appealing to Hispanics and women? They are digging themselves deeper and deeper and for what? From all indications, Sonia Sotomayor will be easily confirmed. However, I don't think the Republicans will be able to easily overcome the image of grey-haired white men having the audacity to call this strong, accomplished Latina woman racist.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I Am Shocked, Shocked!

As we all know, President Obama and former VP Dick Cheney gave "dueling speeches" on the national security last week. Well, apparently, McClatchy Newspapers actually did its job and fact-checked Cheney's speech. And I am just shocked (not really) that he exaggerated, omitted key information, and outright lied. It seems to me he has been scrambling like hell to defend Bush Administration policies, mostly to save his own ass from investigation. Check the article out here for the full list of ways Cheney is still attempting to mislead the public.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Another Democrat Says CIA Records On Briefings Were Not Accurate

Here is more corroboration for Nancy Pelosi that the CIA can't be trusted regarding what they say they briefed with whom.

Another Democrat Says CIA Records On Briefings Were Not Accurate

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Ventura And Hasselbeck Rumble Over Waterboarding On The View

So, Jesse Ventura and Elisabeth Hasselback got into a debate on waterboarding on The View. What amazes me is that Ms. Hasselback has the audacity to carry on this debate with someone who has actually experienced waterboarding himself. And, like a good GOP talking-pointer tries to deflect the issue to Nancy Pelosi. Even more amazingly, she tries to compare the systematic torture that took place with captured detainees to the military operation to rescue and save the life of the U.S. captain who was being held hostage by criminal pirates. I love Jesse Ventura's brief smack-down response. Check it out:

Ventura And Hasselbeck Rumble Over Waterboarding On The View

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Torture and Tortured Logic

How is it that Newt Gingrich can state with a straight face that the Congress should investigate Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi for claiming that the CIA never told her about waterboarding...

"I think that the House has an absolute obligation to open an inquiry, and I hope there will be a resolution to investigate her. And I think this is a big deal. I don't think the speaker of the House can lie to the country on national security matters," the Republican leader said in an interview with ABC Radio.
...and yet, there is no call from old Newt to investigate THE ACTUAL WATERBOARDING?!?!?!

And how does the focus on torture shift from investigating who ordered and approved the torture and why to whether a congressperson from the minority party was briefed on the practice? This is what the Republicans excel at - deflection and distraction. How does the corroborating statements from Bob Graham, who was a Senator at the time in question get buried?

And if you are wondering why torture was really used, check out this story regarding a former aide to Colin Powell. It all becomes so clear -- torture can be effective at getting false testimony. The Bush administration -- Vice-President Dick Cheney in particular -- used torture to try and establish a link between 9/11 and Iraq as a justification for war. A non-existent link that many people still believed existed as late as 2006!

The more that comes to light about what was going on in the Bush Administration, the more I am sickened and convinced that those who perpetrated this evil must be brought to justice.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Supreme Court Opening - Souter Retiring

Justice David Souter is retiring from the U.S. Supreme Court. The fact that President Obama was a constitutional professor is reassuring. He is probably the best-equipped to evaluate the candidates and make an excellent selection. However, apparently, the GOP is already campaigning against his pick - before he has even picked anyone! So, I have a couple of messages:

o Republican Party: You are already seen as the party of "no" right now. Why don't you keep your mouths shut until you see what Obama does?

o President Obama: Please don't try to find someone in the middle who will make Republicans and Democrats both happy. Stand your liberal ground! The Republicans have had control over Supreme Court nominations for too long! And they have no qualms about putting the likes of Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia on the court.

Here is an interesting graphic that measures how conservative and liberal Supreme Court justices have been since 1937. Four of the five most conservative justices (Thomas, Scalia, Alito, Roberts) are sitting on the court right now. Three of the justices currently considered "liberal" are actually pretty moderate with only Ruth Bader Ginsburg measuring out as very liberal. This shows just how skewed towards conservative the court is right now. We will really need to seize this opportunity to balance things out.

Please pick a liberal and don't fall for any Republican attempts to push it towards the center. They have not displayed any openness to bipartisanship, so if you have to steamroll it through the Senate, just do it! We've got Specter now (more on that on another post!) and should have Franken. Now is the chance to put some balance back in the Supreme Court.