Saturday, July 18, 2009

Walter Cronkite (1916-2009)

By Michael J.W. Stickings

I'm too young to remember much about Walter Cronkite -- which is to say, the period of his career during which he was America's top news anchor, the media establishment's most credible figure, in a way both the voice of the people and the voice the people most trusted, the period that included many of his most famous broadcasts (such as the JFK assassination), happened not just before I was born but before I was old enough to be a consumer of news in any meaningful way. I only moved to the U.S. for the first time as a teenager, and, by then, network news was in the hands of Tom Brokaw, Dan Rather, and Peter Jennings. Cronkite was still a towering figure, a shadow over his successors, as well as an illumination, but he had become the past, like Edward Murrow, and the present had turned to a new generation, perhaps a lesser one.

But, of course, I knew of him, like we all did, and I saw enough of his old broadcasts, and read enough about him, to come to appreciate what he meant to the people who tuned into him nightly, as well as to the world on which he reported. He was the intermediary, the transmitter of what was deemed to be news, that is, he stood between the people and the world around them, in a way, but he did so in a way that didn't distort reality, that didn't spin it into myth, but rather in a way that made the world more immediate, more accessible, more utterly real than it otherwise would have been. That is, he helped us -- and I say "us" to indicate all of us who were in some way touched by him -- understand the world, and the events that came to define it, without ever resorting to manipulation, without ever really becoming the news himself. He told us what had happened, and what was still happening, and in that way was our link to the world around us, to the world beyond us, but he was also, I think, one of us, and that made him so special, and so significant, and so trustworthy, the most trusted man in America. No one since has come close, though many have tried, and many are trying still. He will forever, it seems, be the benchmark against which everyone else in his profession will be judged.

Cronkite's death was a deeply personal loss for so many, and understandably so. He reported for a generation, and was the voice of a generation, and, even for those of us not of that generation, it is difficult to imagine what happened over the course of those many years -- life, history -- without him.


I'm a bit late coming to this, being on vacation. For more, be sure to read a couple of really excellent posts from my co-bloggers Carol Gee and J. Thomas Duffy.

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The Reaction in review (July 17, 2009)

By Carol Gee

A week's Reactions that deserve a second look:


By J. Thomas Duffy: "And that's the way he was...Walter Cronkite passes away" -- Concluding with Cronkite on the cover of Time Magazine, Duffy brings us a wonderful compilation of good pictures, important videos, other bloggers' impressions, and several more good links, etc.

By Capt. Fogg: "Hypocrisy house" -- Fogg's well written and insightful post reveals much useful information about the right wing Washington D.C. "C Street" boarding house run by The Fellowship, or more commonly known as "The Family."


By Carl: "You talk a lot. . ." -- This terrific post, comparing and contrasting the Senators and the Supreme Court nominee, concludes with this succinct truth: "The rigid, dogmatic thinking, logic and ice cold, of the past 233 years must be changed to incorporate our new understanding of humanity and humankind. This is what I think Sotomayor brings to the court."

By Mustang Bobby: "Sarah vs. Sonia" -- This great post lays bare the bones of Republican opposition to affirmative action and makes clear which of the women really wants a free ride and which earned her place, achievement by achievement. See also, Creature's "Scared white men."


By Carol Gee: "What is behind all this hide and seek?" -- To quote from this post on the emerging information about secret programs, torture and the rule of law in the Bush administration, "So, as we are now finding out, the Vice President, not the President, was apparently in the lead of the administration's efforts to run secret operations that were more often than not, outside of the rule of law." See also Michael's "Cheney's secret assassination program."

By Michael J.W. Stickings: "So where was Mark Sanford? Who knew?" -- Michael's well done post clarifies how best to make the distinction between what was the South Carolina public's business and what was Governor Sanford's business, regarding his trip to Argentina, and whether it should now result in his resignation from office.

By Michael J.W. Stickings: "Positive reaction to the House Democrats' health-care plan" -- Michael's post is a very useful and helpful first look, that includes Paul Krugman's thoughts, on how well the U.S. House is doing regarding its health reform legislation. See also Creature's "160," the number of Republican amendments in the Senate HELP committee bill.


By Carl: "A welcome breath of carbon-neutral air" -- As is very often the case with complicated issues, Carl manages to clarify and explain the financial intricacies of the proposed energy cap-and-trade system, using Sarah Palin's energy reality-distortions as his foil.

By Mustang Bobby: "How not to be a conscientious objector" -- Bobby, a conscientious objector, shares his thoughts and insights about the flawed reasoning of Maj. Stefan Frederick Cook's objection to deploying to Afghanistan. See also the court's reaction posted by Capt. Fogg: "Hell no, he won't go!"

By Capt. Fogg: "Guys like us" -- Fogg's wonderfully edgy post is a great read to understand why the overt bigotry in the questions of some Republican Senate Judiciary Committee members made us so uncomfortable, as we watched the Sotomayor SCOTUS confrimation hearings. See also Fogg on Pat Buchannan, "Funny man."

By Michael J.W. Stickings: "Sotomayor and Whitehouse" -- Michael's lovely post celebrates the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor, along with Senator Sheldon Whitehouse's brilliant and memorable opening statement pointing out that the real differences between judicial activists is not their liberal or conservative views.


By Michael J.W. Stickings: "Benjamin is no Gupta (and that's a very good thing)" -- Michael, a Canadian who is watching the U.S. health care reform movement with great concern and interest, is glad Dr. Regina Benjamin is President Obama's nominee for Surgeon General.

By Carl: "Ice Age Meltdown" -- This is a very interesting analysis of what could be happening to the Republican party today, why it was so successful in the past, and what might be its future.

By Michael J.W. Stickings: "Will Holder investigate Bush's torture regime? If so, how far will he go? (Likely not far enough.) -- Michael's important post is an thorough analysis (not very optimistic) of the Obama administration's dilemma about whether to proceed with an investigation of the Bush administration's "brutal interrogation practices." See also Creature's post on AG Holder's view, and Michael's on Cheney's abuse of secrecy.

(Cross-posted at Behind the Links.)

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MJWS on vacation

By Michael J.W. Stickings

I just wanted to let you all know that I'll be on vacation for the next couple of weeks. Actually, I'm already on vacation, and already enjoying it immensely.

I'll continue to blog now and then, though -- I like to remain connected, and I'm sure I'll have comments on the major stories of the day -- and I may put up shorter, perhaps even Twitter-style posts. (I say that, but I'm sure the compulsion to ramble on and on will overcome me.)

But keep coming back for the co-bloggers, too, who will continue to do what they do so well, which is making this blog so much better than it could ever be with just me alone.

I'll be back later. Now, I need to brunch.

-- Michael


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Walter Cronkite -- Congruence

By Carol Gee

Walter Cronkite passed away on Friday. The voice of the nation for so many years was 92 years old. From the time he was named the "anchor" of the CBS evening news program, he began to build a reputation for honesty and integrity than set a standard for all the major news anchors who were to follow in his footsteps.

His legacy for me was one of congruence. For decades his reports on so many of the key events here and around the world turned out to be congruent with the eventual meaning we all took to be the core significance of the most important events. In both emotional tone and the facts, his reporting was in agreement and coincided with that of most of the rest of us.

As a kid from the country in Wyoming, I did not experience television until I moved to Texas as a nursing student in 1955. From my first black and white, small screen television viewing I was hooked. And I was always drawn to the hard news. Like millions of others I wanted to know what was happening. I has a curiosity and a need to know, so I always watched the evening news. My choices were NBC and CBS. NBC got on the list because that was the network that would come in on our radio growing up. But CBS quickly became a close second as I listened to Edward R. Murrow, and then watched, his weekly broadcast.

Walter Cronkite succeeded Murrow. The managing editor of his own program, he was trained as a print journalist and comfortable on camera, a dynamite combination. And we soon found that he could tell us what was happening in ways that were congruent, clear, unbiased, simple and believable.

It was Walter Cronkite who told me that John F. Kennedy was dead, and showed his own devastated feelings silently and without shame. He was openly angry when his news crewmen were roughed up on the floor of a Democratic Convention in the searing sixties. He went to Vietnam and said out loud the truth of that awful war. President Lyndon Johnson was convinced of the reality of his lost leadership by that broadcast. Walter Cronkite went to the moon's dusty surface with the astronauts with the rest of us. He gaged it as a most significant event for humankind. But he missed by just a few days the 40th anniversary celebration of the moon landing that will be coming up on Monday. I am moved by the congruence of that. Last night the new NASA administrator, Charles Bolden released a lovely and poetic tribute to Walter Cronkite, noting that it was Walter Cronkite who inspired him to want to become an astronaut so many years ago. And I am moved by the congruence of that, as well.

Walter Cronkite, according to a contemporary, was not happy about having to retire. But he did it without public complaint. Acclaimed by most everyone, he popped up every now and then until he was well up in years. He was a sailor and loved to have the wind at his back and the bow of his craft splitting the waves. He lost his beloved wife, Betsy a few years ago. He was one of a kind and I feel grateful that I was able to find much of my truth from his take on the significance of all those momentous life changing events.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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Friday, July 17, 2009

And that's the way he was ... Walter Cronkite passes away

By J. Thomas Duffy

You knew he was getting on in years, you saw reports of some illness, yet, it was still a gut punch to hear the news that legendary CBS News Anchor Walter Cronkite has passed away today, at the age of 92.

Walter Cronkite, Iconic Anchorman, Dies
Mr. Cronkite anchored the “CBS Evening News” from 1962 to 1981, at a time when television became the dominant medium of the United States. He figuratively held the hand of the American public during the civil rights movement, the space race, the Vietnam war, and the impeachment of Richard Nixon. During his tenure, network newscasts were expanded to 30 minutes from 15.

“It is impossible to imagine CBS News, journalism or indeed America without Walter Cronkite,” Sean McManus, the president of CBS News, said in a statement. “More than just the best and most trusted anchor in history, he guided America through our crises, tragedies and also our victories and greatest moments.”

It's hard to describe what he meant, how enormous he was.

Even as a young child, I was a news junkie, and grew up watching Walter Cronkite, night-after-night, for nearly 20-years.

It's like arguing about ballplayers, of different generations.

You had to be there, live it, feel it, have be part of your life, to fully understand, and appreciate, the impact this one man had on this country.

For so many, millions, he delivered the news, of President John F. Kennedy's assassination;

Walter Cronkite announces death of JFK

As much as you could say Cronkite worked for "The Man", as part of the establishment, you knew that he was the "real deal", that he would give it to you straight, his ending nightly signature "And that's the way it is ... " but one indication of this.

Perhaps covering wars, both World War II (he, as a young reporter, covered the Normandy Invasion), and later, Vietnam, finely tuned his "bullshit" meter.

It has been said, that Walter Cronkite's dissing the Vietnam War was the reason, a major factor, in President Lyndon Johnson not seeking reelection.
As the TET offensive continued into February, the anchorman for the CBS evening news, Walter Cronkite, traveled to Vietnam and filed several reports. Upon his return, Cronkite took an unprecedented step of presenting his "editorial opinion" at the end of the news broadcast on February 27th. "For it seems now more certain than ever," Cronkite said, "that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate." After watching Cronkite's broadcast, LBJ was quoted as saying. "That's it. If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost middle America."

Walter Cronkite, 1968

Walter Cronkite Remembers His Tet Offensive Editorial

Think any of the lightweights since Cronkite carried that kind of cred?

Brad Friedman, over on his Brad Blog, talks of a chance meeting with Cronkite, at FAO Schwarz toy store in New York City, in the late 1980's (after Cronkite had retired from CBS) and notes;
Not a particularly insightful story, other than for me, at that time in my life, I felt as if I had been in the presence of greatness. It was certainly the highlight of my holidays that year. He will be missed. So will the once-great American news corp which he left, and which left all of us, too long ago.

Skippy, the Bush Kangaroo echoes Brad's lament;
he will be missed. hell, he was missed when he retired in the 80's. now we've got david schuster and chris wallace as elder statesman in the news? god help us.

I don't think I am the only person, that wishes Walter Cronkite would be broadcasting the news forever ...

An incredible, gigantic giant has left us this evening.

God Bless you, Walter Cronkite ... Thank you for sharing your life with us ...

More Links

The Daily Beast: Walter Cronkite 1916 - 2009

Mike Madden, at Salon: Walter Cronkite dies

Ron Chusid: And That’s The Way It Was, November 4, 1916 – July 17, 2009

NYT: Walter Cronkite, Voice of TV News, Dies

CBS to Show Tribute to Cronkite Sunday Night

Memorable Reports by Walter Cronkite

More Walter Cronkite Video

CBS evening news with Walter Cronkite 4-4-68

Walter Cronkite And The Lunar Landing (CBS News)

Walter Cronkite - On his "that's the way it is" signoff

A Conversation with Walter Cronkite

(Cross Posted at The Garlic)

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Hypocrisy house

By Capt. Fogg

Republicans deal with the almost daily revelations of sexual scandal in the "family Values" party by reminding us that there are Democrats who cheat as well. Of course the Democrats aren't the ones claiming that government should be more intrusive into the private sex lives of private citizens and they haven't made that nebulous phrase part of every party platform for decades, nor do they seem to be so brazenly promiscuous. So I'm sure that the latest evidence that the Family valuers may be running a veritable school for scoundrels on 133 C Street SE in Washington DC won't have any more effect than Larry Craig's wide stance on their claim to moral authority.

The house in question is owned by a shadowy "Christian" group called The Fellowship, one of those insisting that we are a Christian Nation and should have "Christian Values" without of course giving us any idea what those might be or why they might be different from non-Christian values. They assert that our leaders should be led by God rather than by the will of the electorate which is shockingly reminiscent of the government our founding fathers found to be anathema, and of course it's their God as interpreted by them.

But it's a rooming house as well as a lobbying and indoctrination center and Congressmen board there and claim to find it a place to study the Bible and the commands of Faith-based lobbyists. Moral pillars of the community who have resided at the house on C Street, like John Ensign and Mark Sanford and Chip Pickering are and have been involved in extramarital affairs. Need I point out that three out of five is a considerable majority? It would be enlightening to compare the rent they pay with similar rents on that street of elegant brownstones - and of course interesting to entities such as the IRS. Is there quid pro quo or votes for rent?

To me, the question of whether religious conviction is a marker for moral hypocrisy and turpitude is less important than the fact that at least 5 Senators and Representatives may being subsidized by a lobbying group posing as a Church. The Fellowship, which has been criticized for supporting such tyrants as Suharto, is run by the Coe family who take down large salaries. David Coe, the presumptive heir to the throne, has suggested that members of The Family are here to learn how to rule the world.

Of course it's only my opinion, but I'm convinced that the constant howling about socialism and Marxism and Liberalism and secularism from the Right is a smokescreen for organizations like this who are declared enemies of democracy, freedom of speech and freedom of religion and are runningMadrassas teaching revolution, one congressman at a time.

(Cross posted from Human Voices)

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Banks continue to record billions in profits

By Creature

I wouldn't mind the profits so much if the money made was being pumped back into the economy. The point of all the rescuing was to first stabilize the banking system, then to energize the economy, in part, by loaning out the money made.  Instead they hoarded, they padded their balance sheets, and they covered over their toxic losses with new math.

I was naive to think the banks would act in good faith.  I thought it was understood that when the taxpayer covers your ass and saves you from the cliff that maybe the banks would reciprocate.  I was wrong. Business as usual rules the day.  

They only tools the American people have left is reform and regulation.  I hope the Congress and the Obama administration have the stomach for that fight.  As of now, I doubt it very much.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

You talk a lot...

By Carl

...but you're not saying anything.

When a candidate is being questioned for confirmation, one way to know whether it's a slam dunk or if it's a rocky road is how much the candidate him or herself actually speaks. The same is true for a suspect, if you ever get into that situation: the more the cops talk, the less likely they're convinced they have the right man.

Andrew Malcolm of the LA Times points out:

As of Wednesday morning, the senators had spouted 50,082 words.

In response Judge Sotomayor had been able to utter barely 20,000 words (20,728, to be exact).

Monday was the worst day: Senators 23,175 Sotomayor 942.

Some "hearing." Maybe they ought to call it a "talking."

Clearly, this is a stall tactic designed to make the Senators look good under the "advise and consent" clause of the US Constitution. Things got so bad that Al Franken felt the need to do what is arguably the stupidest thing ever in a Senate confirmation hearing:
do shtick

FRANKEN: OK. I -- we're going to have a round two, so I'll ask you some more questions there. What was the one case in "Perry Mason" that Berger won?

Admittedly, this was after some very piercing questioning about Internet regulation and privacy rights in which Sotomayor actually DID have the chance to expound on her views.

In point of fact, there's not a whole lot "there" there, as the only legitimate complaint about Sotomayor has been one, and only one, quote of hers with respect the whole "wise Latina woman," and even there, the context in which she spoke (to an audience of, um, wise Latina women) and the speech itself (on how important it was for wise Latina women to be role models for the community).

A remark she has already expressed regret about. Her rulings and her track record suggest a centrist judge with empathy and compassion for those who deserve it, and stern justice for those who don't.

Could we ask for a better judge? Too many of the "old white men" that have been the hallmarks of the Reagan/Bush administrations have never set foot in a ghetto, never seen the inside of a tenement or housing project, never walked the streets of their own neighborhoods terrified of the next dark alley.

Sotomayor has. I think it's safe to say she knows the difference between need and greed, between those who ask us for help and those who beg us for a free ride. She's seen people in actual need, dealt with them in her life outside of the law.

And she's seen scammers and crooks who hide behind the masks of pain and need. This has clearly shaped her use of the law to promote justice. And since the Supreme Court is all about the interpretation of the law, it would be easy to fall back on the patriarchal "Founders intent" viewpoint as so many fasc-- I mean, conservatives have.

It's easy, in other words, to rule on law in the vacuum of textbooks and precedents. You make the law as strict as possible, and ignore that there are hundreds of millions of people out there, each with a different story, each affected differently by the law. And it should not be policy of the government of the United States to treat anyone unfairly, if avoidable.

The rigid, dogmatic thinking, logic and ice cold, of the past 233 years must be changed to incorporate our new understanding of humanity and humankind. This is what I think Sotomayor brings to the court.

And why the Senate won't need her to speak.

(crossposted to Simply Left Behind)


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Hell no, he won't go!

By Capt. Fogg

Quite frankly the idea that our military has become an Evangelical camp-meeting scares me more that the Obama presidency scares the people who think he's a Muslim secret agent or that the Hawaii Bureau of Vital Statistics cooked up a fake birth certificate and the Honolulu newspapers recorded his birth forty some odd years ago as part of a plot to make baby Obama the future president. It's not just the Biblically deluded nature of such people but also the uncontrollable urges they have to believe things for reasons hard for others to understand.

It's hard to know whether U.S. Army Maj. Stefan Frederick Cook really believes the fantasy or whether he simply doesn't want to go to Afghanistan and couldn't bring himself to wear a dress. I would have to assume that he does believe. He claims that he has tremendous support from fellow soldiers -- 90% is his frightening claim.

He would get on the next plane says he if only it could be proved that Barak Obama's birth certificate was real. That's a remarkable statement and if birth certificates needed to be proved beyond establishing that the birth was properly registered, we could easily disallow every president. Quite a can of worms, this is and perhaps it's better to ask for some evidence that, like John McCain, he wasn't born in the USA. Of course there isn't any evidence beyond that malignant viral meme that seems to spread from loony to loony like lice in a flop house.

Of course it isn't just the loons and psychos keeping the idea alive. one of the favorite tricks of our scandal addicted media is to present nasty, stale old memes in new bottles and so we often have Fox hinting that "people are saying" when they aren't and we have Lou Dobbs, fresh out of stories about the Mexican Menace saying "new questions are being raised." No they're not, Lou, it's the same insane calumny coming from yet another psycho. and shame on you for trying to keep the meme alive for fame and profit.

Of course and as we expected, a Federal judge threw the case out this morning and the Federal dumpster already contains the smelly remnants of other similar suits, but thanks to Lou and Fox and the Army of Believers the idea will survive and perhaps longer than our republic. It's not completely new of course, Clinton faced opposition from some in the military based on some some notion that he wasn't really the President. What does it tell us, I have to ask, that the notion that the SCOTUS decision to stop counting ballots in Florida and the serious evidence of voting machine fraud made W's presidency illegitimate has faded away? Maybe it tells us that the great ship of insanity lists heavily to the right. Maybe. New questions are being raised, you know -- and people are saying.

(Cross posted from Human Voices)


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Sarah vs. Sonia

By Mustang Bobby

Following up on this post, Pat Buchanan says that Judge Sonia Sotomayor is getting a free ride because she's a "self-described 'affirmative action baby' from Princeton," whereas Sarah Palin is an up-from-the-sticks conservative who never got a break. "Pundits here gets hoots of appreciation for doing to a white Christian woman what would constitute a hate crime if done to a 'wise Latina woman.'" Conor Clarke notes that there's a difference.
There's absolutely nothing wrong, much less "arch," about criticizing Sarah Palin for being an anti-intellectual demagogue while simultaneously demanding respect for Sonia Sotomayor. Palin's whole shtick is that she's an ordinary American with ordinary American concerns. Which is completely fine. But I'm of the mind that our leaders should be exceptional people -- hard-working Type-A meritocrats with actual expertise -- and I think Sotomayor is one of those people. (Palin, not so much.) That's my preference, of course, and not necessarily the country's. But I like to think it's a perfectly legitimate distinction, not a "hate crime." [Italics in the original.]

I'll go further than that; it should be a requirement that anyone appointed to the Supreme Court or elected to the White House is by far the smartest person in the room. I do not want someone of an average intellect, much less someone who is anti-intellectual, running the country or interpreting the Constitution. We're not talking about a county commission here. (And even if we were, I don't want an incurious boor on the county commission either.)

A couple of other points. First, if Sonia Sotomayor was an affirmative-action admission to Princeton, all that did was get her in the door. After that, she was on her own. It wasn't affirmative-action that got her to the top of her class. (If it was affirmative-action that got her into Yale Law School, she was following in the footsteps of another justice on the Supreme Court, Clarence Thomas. Funny, but I don't remember Mr. Buchanan complaining about Mr. Thomas's admissions history.) By the way, what is wrong with affirmative-action anyway? All it does it make it a level admissions playing field for people who were not born with the automatic credentials (white, male, and trust-funded) to get in to a school like Princeton or Yale. It seems that the people who complain the most about people like Sonia Sotomayor getting a leg up have never faced the challenge of getting into a college or getting a job with history and patriarchy stacked against them.

Second, the Republican mantra of being the party of the "common man" is born out of nothing more than a cynical attempt to curry favor with an electorate that they wouldn't dare be associated with if they could avoid it. Richard Nixon's Southern Strategy played on the fear and loathing of white voters who felt assaulted by the civil rights movement in the 1960's and provided a fertile ground for starting the culture wars against reproductive choice, gay rights, and basically anyone who didn't look, act, or have sex like them. It was, and it continues to be, an exploitation of the foolish and the weak, preying on their fears of the unknown and feeding them the pablum of smaller government and lower taxes. It wins elections, but it doesn't run the country very well. What's worse is that the people who master-minded it don't really care.

What it comes down to is that Sonia Sotomayor, even if she had help along the way, has had to work harder for what she achieved than Sarah Palin ever did. It shows in the way they both dealt with the adversity they have both faced in the last month. Judge Sotomayor has faced down an attack machine that questioned everything from her intellect to her choice of clothing, and she has taken it with grace and aplomb. Gov. Palin has dealt with her self-inflicted public mockery festival with all the maturity of a spoiled child. Sarah Palin took it for granted that she was entitled to whatever she wanted because she's believed in the George W. Bush model that anyone can grow up to be president without having to actually, you know, work at it. It's easy for her to quit her job because it doesn't really mean that much to her, and it's easy to give away something you never had to work for. Sonia Sotomayor has never taken anything for granted.

(Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

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Fireworks, fast food, and the French

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Below is a stunning photo of the Eiffel Tower taken during Tuesday's Bastille Day celebrations. No real reason for posting it. I love Paris, what can I say? (The French are another matter. Sorry... just my Englishness coming out.)

I'm not a huge fan of fireworks, I must admit, though I'm not quite as down on them as Slate's Troy Patterson, who recently wrote a very funny column against them. Best passage:

No way were all men created equal. According to some of the country's top statisticians, exactly half of them are below average, and that is the segment of the population most likely to get too excited about fireworks. Other species highly intrigued by bright lights include moths and venison. Hearing people hoot lustily at a crossette or chrysanthemum, I assume that they are the same sort who lined up at bear-baiting pits back in the day and, in modern times, watch Howie Mandel reality shows.

By the way, did you know that France, haut-gastronomic France, is, among countries, McDonald's' second most profitable market in the world? It's true. Read Slate's Mike Steinberger, oenophile and food writer, on the rather amazing popularity of the fast-food chain in a country not exactly known for its pro-Americanism, appreciation of globalization, and love of bad eats.

Okay, here's the photo:

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Quote of the Day: Meghan McCain on Joe the Plumber

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Ms. McCain nails it:

Joe the Plumber -- you can quote me -- is a dumbass. He should stick to plumbing.

There you go. I quoted her.

You really gotta love Meghan McCain. Seriously, I think I'm developing a major crush on her, if I don't have one already. She's still a Republican, I know, and she's still her father's daughter, but there's something to be said for such honesty coming from within the GOP's own ranks, even if many Republicans don't consider her one of their own.

If you're looking for a maverick, Meghan's the McCain with the mojo.

(I just wish she'd comment on Palin. If anyone deserves the no-holds-barred Meghan McCain treatment, after all, it's John's running mate, the soon-to-be ex-governor of Alaska.)

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Finally! Someone takes a stab at the right thing!

By Carl

It's about fucking time:

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Democratic leaders, pledging to meet the president's goal of health care legislation before their August break, are offering a $1.5 trillion plan that for the first time would make health care a right and a responsibility for all Americans. Left to pick up most of the tab were medical providers, employers and the wealthy.

"We cannot allow this issue to be delayed. We cannot put it off again," Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce committee, said Tuesday. "We, quite frankly, cannot go home for a recess unless the House and the Senate both pass bills to reform and restructure our health care system."

Healthcare ought to have been a right in the Constitution from the get-go, but back then, people didn't see doctors unless they were dying. And the average age a man lived to was 40, a woman with children had an even shorter life expectancy.

See, it's in the Declaration of Independence, and these asshats who always look to the "intent of the Founders" ought to reacquaint themselves with that document.

There's an awful lot of good in the proposal, as highlighted in these paragraphs:

Under the House Democrats' plan, the federal government would be responsible for ensuring that every person, regardless of income or the state of their health, has access to an affordable insurance plan. Individuals and employers would have new obligations to get coverage, or face hefty penalties.

The legislation calls for a 5.4 percent tax increase on individuals making more than $1 million a year, with a gradual tax beginning at $280,000 for individuals. Employers who don't provide coverage would be hit with a penalty equal to 8 percent of workers' wages, with an exemption for small businesses. Individuals who decline an offer of affordable coverage would pay 2.5 percent of their incomes as a penalty, up to the average cost of a health insurance plan.

In other words, you can't really opt out of the insurance. One way or another, we're not going to let you drag our healthcare costs up by treating the emergency room as your family physician anymore. By the same token, no employer is going to make an extra couple of pennies off the backs of his poor workers by depriving them of the most essential tool they need to do their jobs: their health. I know an awful lot of people who would give up the cafeteria/lunchroom or the soda and candy machines for affordable health insurance.

It's not perfect, it's not even that close to perfect, but it looks like it might be an interesting first step towards what this nation truly deserves: single-payer health insurance whereby NO ONE can make a profit off your body.

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

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How to win white votes

By Mustang Bobby

Pat Buchanan has a suggestion for the GOP: go racist.

In 2008, Hispanics, according to the latest figures, were 7.4 percent of the total vote. White folks were 74 percent, 10 times as large. Adding just 1 percent to the white vote is thus the same as adding 10 percent to the candidate's Hispanic vote.

If John McCain, instead of getting 55 percent of the white vote, got the 58 percent George W. Bush got in 2004, that would have had the same impact as lifting his share of the Hispanic vote from 32 percent to 62 percent. [...]

Had McCain been willing to drape Jeremiah Wright around the neck of Barack Obama, as Lee Atwater draped Willie Horton around the neck of Michael Dukakis, the mainstream media might have howled. And McCain might be president.

Mr. Buchanan, the dry cleaner called. Your brown shirts are ready.

H/T to Steve.

(Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

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What is behind all this hide and seek?

By Carol Gee

Waterboarding techniques were not what made 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad confess. He had already started to talk before the "enhanced interrogation" started. And actually at one point, Dick Cheney ‘fessesd up' that rapport, not torture, got intelligence. Following the most recent revelations about Cheney's larger role in the Bush administration's s0-called "war on terror, he is no longer "fessing up" to anything. He is again hiding at an undisclosed location. His daughter, Liz seems to now be his official spokesperson.

Well before Cheney stopped talking this question for Cheney occurred to a blogger: "How come no attacks after the torture stopped?" Here is another question: Why did the CIA hide Dick Cheney’s role in briefing Congress? As it turns out, former Vice President Cheney's campaign to make sure that interrogations could continue as before, to keep lawmakers in line on torture, started midway in the Bush administration .

So, as we are now finding out, the Vice President, not the President, was apparently in the lead of the administration's efforts to run secret operations that were more often than not, outside of the rule of law. For example the May 10, 2005 Justice Department opinions on combined torture techniques were retrospective, designed to give legal cover to something that has already happened. The effect of a related NYT story that misrepresents James Comey's e-mails, claiming that he approved torture, amounted to a pre-emptive strike on the OPR Report that will come out at some point.

The Geneva Convention failed to assure that U.S. detainees received humane treatment. At an international conference in Italy a few weeks ago, Georgetown lawyers from the Center on National Security and the Law were planning to urge a new Geneva Convention for terrorism. Common article 3, they feel is too vague to guide the government of how to protect the security of the United States while also upholding our basic values about justice. UN Special Rapporteur, Philip Alston, last month called for for transparency and accountability as he presented his report on U.S. policies that have led to unlawful deaths and other abuses.

The case of tortured U.S. citizen, Naji Hamdan tested the Obama Administration on human rights. Did they stand silent, as the man who was himself tortured, went on trial in the UAE? With this and far too many other examples, the Obama administration finds itself "between a rock and a hard place." Rightly focusing on the economy, reforming health care, and tackling other issues is still front and center. Over and over again, to "put this behind us," the President or the Justice Department took the same legal position as the former administration. When it comes to how to come under the rule of law both in fact and in spirit they failed to step up and do the right thing immediately. Opting for secrecy, turning a blind eye, and assigning a low priority to accountability, are no longer working however.

Dragged kicking and screaming, Congress and the administration are being forced little by little to look back, in spite to their most commendable and forward looking policy changes and needed reforms. In some kind of magical way, the current Senate focus on confirmation hearings for Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court reminds us all once again that we are a nation of laws, not men. . . or (thank goodness) women. We will get back into balance with time, and because of how our founders set up the system. We must believe this.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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Even Republicans don't think Palin is qualified to be president

By Michael J.W. Stickings

According to a new poll, only a third of Republicans think she's qualified, way down from the 71 per cent last year, but... it's still 33 percent. I'm not sure whether to focus on the fact that Republicans seem to have gotten back some of the sanity they lost during their long love affair with Palin or on the fact that so many of them are still crazy enough to think she could, and probably should, be president.

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By Creature

That's the number of Republican amendments that were included in the Senate HELP committee's version of the health care bill. Zero is the number of votes the bill got from Republicans who pushed for those amendments. Why Democrats even bother dealing with Republicans is beyond me.


For more on the HELP committee's vote, another major milestone on the road to meaningful reform, see The Hill. -- MJWS

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So where was Mark Sanford? Who knew?

By Michael J.W. Stickings

I haven't written on the Mark Sanford saga in a while -- mainly because there hasn't been much new/newsworthy to report (he's still in office and he's apparently trying to reconcile with his wife), but also because, I admit, I grew tired of it -- but The State has some new details on Sanford's trip to Argentina to see his mistress (or, to be more precise, on the story he spun to cover up that trip) that make his irresponsible actions all the more disturbing:

Gov. Mark Sanford’s chief of staff, Scott English, called the governor’s cell phones 15 times during the governor’s secret trip to Argentina to visit his lover last month. But the governor never picked up.

Meanwhile Sanford’s communications director, Joel Sawyer, worked to minimize the fact the governor had been out of touch with his staff for about four days.

Records released Monday show Sawyer juggled e-mails and media calls from around the nation, giving a consistent message that was later proven to be untrue.

Those records also show Sanford declined a dinner invitation from a company looking to expand its business in South Carolina because Sanford planned to be in Argentina that day.

Sanford has since said he intentionally misled Sawyer and other staff members to believe he was hiking the Appalachian Trail when he was really with his Argentine lover.

Let me be clear about this, once again: What Sanford did in private is his business -- and his family's. It shows poor judgement, to be sure, but I don't think we ought to judge the private lives of politicians (unless they truly cross the line into illegal or unethical behaviour).

But... he's a state governor, the holder of the highest office in South Carolina. It is simply unacceptable that he just up and disappeared, that he deceived, lied to, his own staff, to his closest advisors. It is unacceptable that they couldn't reach him. Privacy -- yes. But not at the expense of one's duty to the public. If he values his own private life so much, and if it gets in the way of his duty to the public (which it apparently did), he should resign.

But... no. He's still there, refusing to step down, his ego still getting the better of him (and of South Carolinians), and he'll no doubt follow in a long line of moral transgressors and hypocrites by re-emerging a changed man, all for the better, no harm done.

But harm was done -- to his wife, to his family, to his staff, to all those who care about him both personally and politically, as well as to his state and its citizens. He put himself first, not just before all else but at the expense of all else, and, in going AWOL, he crossed the line. There's no way he should still be in office.

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It looks like we'll still have John Ensign to kick around some more

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Good news for Democrats, I suppose.

Sen. John Ensign of Nevada -- he with the mistress and the cuckolded husband on his staff, he with the parents paying the mistress off, etc. -- has announced that he has no intention of resigning and will run for re-election in 2012.

Let the "breathtaking hypocrisy" continue!

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Scared white men

By Creature

I haven't been following the Sotomayor hearings too closely, but from what I've seen she's making the Senate Republicans look bad and the Senate Republicans are making themselves look even worse. It's like they're not even trying to hide their racism. Maybe that's a good thing in an emperor-no-clothes kind of way.

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Positive reaction to the House Democrats' health-care plan

By Michael J.W. Stickings

House Democrats released their long-awaited health-care reform bill yesterday, and the plan it proposes includes a government-run component (a so-called "public option"). No, it's not exactly the single-payer, universal system that many of us prefer (and that we have here in Canada), but it's comprehensive and ground-breaking, and likely would ensure coverage for the vast majority of Americans -- in fact, almost all of them.

The right, of course, is already objecting both to the public option, which it deems to be socialism, and to the fact that taxes would be raised on the wealthy to pay for the plan, but Paul Krugman considers it a "bargain":

OK, so the CBO score for the 3-committee House health care plan is in: $1 trillion over the next decade for 97 percent coverage of legal residents.

That’s a bargain: the catastrophe of being ill without insurance, the fear of losing insurance, all ended — for much less than the Bush administration’s useless $1.35 trillion first tax cut, quickly followed by another $350 billion.

And that’s just the budget cost, which the House proposes covering partly with savings elsewhere, partly with higher taxes on very high incomes. As Jon Cohn points out, the overall effect of expanded coverage will probably be lower health care costs for America as a whole.

There is now absolutely no excuse for Congress to balk at doing the right thing.

No excuse whatsoever.

In addition to Krugman, both Cohn and Ezra Klein, two leading health-care commentators, think it looks good. Cohn's reaction is "strongly positive." (Make sure to check out their posts for more on the details of the plan.)

There is still the Senate, of course -- where there is less unity among leading Democrats -- and still much to be done. (And, of course, there is Obama, who, while committed to wholesale reform, has been less than specific when it comes to the details of his desired outcome.) Still, this is an exceptionally positive development, and an encouraging step towards the creation of a fair and equitable health-care system for all Americans.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A welcome breath of carbon-neutral air

By Carl

Sarah Palin is an idiot.

That said, there are legitimate concerns with respect to cap-and-trade policies in an energy policy, centered mostly around how easy it is to game the system to benefit large polluters, as well as a
moral objection to the introduction of free market solutions to essentially a social problem. Rather than seek a reduction in carbon emissions, cap-and-trade effectively shifts the burden, spreading it around.

To a degree, this is true, but it's also true that there is a heavy financial incentive on the part of those who have credits to trade not to pollute more (they have less income), and as time goes on, the price of credits will index up, thus negating the pollution incentive for the purchasers of credits.

It's a gradual withdrawal of carbon from the pollution cycle, and therefore manageable.

Palin raises a ridiculous point, particularly in light of what other criticisms of cap-and-trade amount to.

She claims:

American prosperity has always been driven by the steady supply of abundant, affordable energy. Particularly in Alaska, we understand the inherent link between energy and prosperity, energy and opportunity, and energy and security. Consequently, many of us in this huge, energy-rich state recognize that the president's cap-and-trade energy tax would adversely affect every aspect of the U.S. economy.

There is no denying that as the world becomes more industrialized, we need to reform our energy policy and become less dependent on foreign energy sources. But the answer doesn't lie in making energy scarcer and more expensive! Those who understand the issue know we can meet our energy needs and environmental challenges without destroying America's economy.

Cap-and-trade does not limit energy production in the sense that it sets a ceiling on it. If some company decides that it needs more energy, and it is willing to make the rather punitive payment to use it, then it is free to do so. Cap-and-trade is not a quota system with finite limits.

Indeed, if anything, these voluntary measures will help extend America's own fossil fuel supplies as companies recognize there is profit in protecting the environment.

And profit creates jobs. And jobs create an economy.

Now, you don't have to take my word for it. Here's
Conor Clarke, subbing in for Andrew Sullivan:

Cap and trade creates revenue, which can be used to mitigate the costs for consumers. When the Congressional Budget Office did it's analysis of the distribution of the costs and benefits of the House's cap and trade bill, it found that the poorest quintile would actually benefit.

Cap-and-trade attempts to quantify the social costs of business decisions. If I litter, I create a job for a sanitation worker, which means a wage must be paid. In addition, I help feed a vermin population, which means a health official must be hired.

American society has always been predicated on the quantifiable. It's the
Flatlanders' best method of proving their superiority. I can compare my wallet to yours, and if mine has more, I'm a better person.

Which might be true, but probably is not. As Warren Buffett so often points out, nobody gets anywhere in this world without the support of the people and society around him or her. Those who can shunt aside as much of the costs of success as possible to hidden and unmeasurable resources make pure profit.

Which is why it's important to account for these as closely as possible. Level the playing field, and open the books.

Who knows? Maybe it will even turn Alaska into a powerhouse state!

(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)

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How not to be a conscientious objector

By Mustang Bobby

A soldier in Georgia is refusing to deploy to Afghanistan because he says he doesn't have to obey the orders of the Commander-in-Chief:

U.S. Army Maj. Stefan Frederick Cook, set to deploy to Afghanistan, says he shouldn’t have to go.

His reason?

Barack Obama was never eligible to be president because he wasn’t born in the United States.

Actually, Obama was born in Hawaii in 1961, two years after it became a state.

Cook’s lawyer, Orly Taitz, who has also challenged the legitimacy of Obama’s presidency in other courts, filed a request last week in federal court seeking a temporary restraining order and status as a conscientious objector for his client.

In the 20-page document — filed July 8 with the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia — the California-based Taitz asks the court to consider granting his client’s request based upon Cook’s belief that Obama is not a natural-born citizen of the United States and is therefore ineligible to serve as commander-in-chief of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Cook further states he “would be acting in violation of international law by engaging in military actions outside the United States under this President’s command. ... simultaneously subjecting himself to possible prosecution as a war criminal by the faithful execution of these duties.”

Speaking as someone who was -- and still is -- a conscientious objector, this is not how it's done. I can possibly understand having a change of heart about being in the military and going to war to kill people once you're in, but when you've reached the rank of major, it's a little late. Second, using the "war crimes" excuse calls into question your understanding of both the concept of war and the rules of engagement. (I may be a C.O., but I realize that there are rules about how to fight a war.) Finally, using the "birther" excuse as the justification for disobeying legitimate orders is not part of the "conscientious objector" scope of the matter, especially the "conscientious" part. I and all the other C.O.'s I knew never called into question the legitimacy of the government, the armed forces, or the command structure. It was based on pacifism, not nutsery.

Maj. Cook should perhaps try for a Section 8 instead. He probably has a shot at that.

(Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

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Fête Nationale! ... Le Quatorze Juillet ... Bon Bastille Day!

By J. Thomas Duffy

Bon Bastille Day, to all our French friends!

As we all know, this is the day marking "the 1790 Fête de la Fédération, held on the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789; the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille fortress-prison was seen as a symbol of the uprising of the modern nation, and of the reconciliation of all the French inside the constitutional monarchy which preceded the First Republic, during the French Revolution."

If there's a party in your area, then get to partying!

We'll kick one off here, with one of our favorites, Mireille Mathieu, who we first got hip to in the 1973 Claude Lelouch gem, "La bonne année."

Bon Bastille Day!

Mireille Mathieu sings La marseillaise

(Here's a cleaner, audio-only verision)

Movie fans may prefer this one, the scene from Casablanca

Or, one from another French icon -- Serge Gainsbourg chante La Marseillaise à Strasbourg

Go to the BBC for "In pictures: Bastille Day parade"

(Cross-posted at The Garlic.)

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By Michael J.W. Stickings

It's good to see that the majority of the America people see right through Sarah Palin's bullshit:

A majority of Americans believe that Sarah Palin is resigning as governor of Alaska not because it's in the best interest of her state but because it will benefit her political career, a new CBS News poll finds.

Just 24 percent of those accept Palin's explanation that she resigned because it was the right thing to do for Alaska. More than twice that percentage – 52 percent – cited her political ambition as the reason for her resignation. An additional 14 percent said they don't know the reason.

Even Republicans are skeptical of the explanation, with a higher percentage saying Palin resigned for her political career (36 percent) than saying she did so for Alaska (31 percent).

Of course, it doesn't speak well of the American people that the number isn't higher. What's obvious is obvious, after all.

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Cheney's secret assassination program

By Michael J.W. Stickings

It is being reported -- by the Times and the Guardian, inter alia -- that the secret (and never fully operational) program that Cheney didn't tell Congress about would have involved assassinating al Qaeda leaders around the world, including in countries friendly to the U.S.

Really? That's it. Not that an assassination program isn't serious, or illegal, but I was expecting more, something more juicy. (After all, the U.S. already does this, more or less -- in Pakistan, for example.) But maybe there's a lot more to it, as TPM's David Kurtz suggests:

So regardless of how you might feel about targeted assassinations, it's not at all clear why this particular program would be so radioactive -- compared to what the U.S. was, and still is, doing more or less openly -- that (1) Cheney would demand the CIA not brief Congress about it for eight years; (2) Panetta would cancel it immediately upon learning of it; and (3) Democrats would howl quite so loudly when finally informed.


It doesn't add up. There's more to this story to be told.

It's all speculation at this point, but I tend to agree.

Undoubtedly, there's still a lot more we don't know about this hyper-controversial program. There was a reason Cheney kept it so secret, after all. And the reason is that it was probably much worse than these reports indicate (like a much broader assassination program, perhaps targeting citizens of friendly countries).

We shall see. Maybe.

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Guys like us

By Capt. Fogg

Boy, the way Glenn Miller played!
Songs that made the Hit Parade.
Guys like us, we had it made.
Those were the days!

We should worry. There are doubts. We don't know enough about her. She's "ethnic" and therefore might have "empathy" for other ethnics and therefore she might be prejudiced against us - and lets face it she's dangerous because we can't know how people like that think. Do we want someone with a special social or gender or ethnic perspective instead of a regular American anyway? It's not that we're prejudiced, it's that she probably is because, well you know. . . aren't they all?

And you knew where you were then.
Girls were girls and men were men.
Mister, we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again.

Change the "she" to a "he" and you have the same whiny, timorous Archie Bunker mentality that assured us their fear and loathing of Obama had nothing to do with the fact that he was a Ni -- I mean African American.

Turn on C-Span this morning and you have the same white collar bigotry from the same, expensively dressed, white Anglo-Saxon senators from the same tradition and the same party that fought school segregation, supported restricted real estate markets and hotels and caressed their bibles while telling us it was and should be a felony to marry outside your race. The same people whose family values trump yours, who want you to affirm their religion regardless of what you believe, who would never, however be so rude as to use a racial epithet when blackballing you from the club. The same tailored suits who pretend to solemn deliberation to hide their knee-jerk prejudice. She's just not suitable, not one of us, don't you know old chap. It's nothing personal.

A wise Latina woman? Not at my country club, not on my court.

Didn't need know welfare state.
Everybody pulled his weight.
Gee, our old LaSalle ran great.
Those were the days!

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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Sotomayor and Whitehouse

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Sonia Sotomayor will be confirmed easily by the Senate, with substantial Republican support, but Conservatives like Dear Leader Rush will continue to take ugly swipes at her, just as they have all along. But no matter. She is, as she proved once again yesterday, with her opening statement, a remarkable woman and an impressive jurist. Yes, she said all the right things, and her statement was nothing if not carefully crafted, but there is no denying, I think, her qualifications for the highest court in the land, not to mention her devotion to the law:

In the past month, many Senators have asked me about my judicial philosophy. It is simple: fidelity to the law. The task of a judge is not to make the law – it is to apply the law. And it is clear, I believe, that my record in two courts reflects my rigorous commitment to interpreting the Constitution according to its terms; interpreting statutes according to their terms and Congress's intent; and hewing faithfully to precedents established by the Supreme Court and my Circuit Court. In each case I have heard, I have applied the law to the facts at hand.

Yes, yes, her critics can point to this case or that as, to them, an all-too-revealing exception, and they can point to her race and/or gender as, to them, cause for immediate disqualification (according to their double standard, a woman of colour is fundamentally a product of her "identity," and a racist/racialist when she discusses race, but a white male is above it all, as if his perspective is not that of the privileged), but she has her record to counter their lies and smears.

She has been appointed by Democrats and Republicans alike. She believes in the law, and in the judge's primary responsibility to apply the law fairly to all. She is a woman of colour with an inspiring background and a wealth of experience from which to draw, not so as to make up the law but so as to understand the world around her -- to relate to that world, to its good and evil and everything else in between, to the richness and diversity that appears before her in her capacity both as a judge and as a human being.

Sonia Sotomayor will make a very fine Supreme Court justice.


Speaking of impressive, how about the opening statement (via Benen) of Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), which included this:

In the last two and a half months and today, my Republican colleagues have talked a great deal about judicial modesty and restraint. Fair enough to a point, but that point comes when these words become slogans, not real critiques of your record. Indeed, these calls for restraint and modesty, and complaints about "activist" judges, are often codewords, seeking a particular kind of judge who will deliver a particular set of political outcomes.

It is fair to inquire into a nominee's judicial philosophy, and we will here have a serious and fair inquiry. But the pretence that Republican nominees embody modesty and restraint, or that Democratic nominees must be activists, runs starkly counter to recent history.

I particularly reject the analogy of a judge to an "umpire" who merely calls "balls and strikes." If judging were that mechanical, we would not need nine Supreme Court Justices. The task of an appellate judge, particularly on a court of final appeal, is often to define the strike zone, within a matrix of Constitutional principle, legislative intent, and statutory construction.

The "umpire" analogy is belied by Chief Justice Roberts, though he cast himself as an "umpire" during his confirmation hearings. Jeffrey Toobin, a well-respected legal commentator, has recently reported that "[i]n every major case since he became the nation's seventeenth Chief Justice, Roberts has sided with the prosecution over the defendant, the state over the condemned, the executive branch over the legislative, and the corporate defendant over the individual plaintiff." Some umpire. And is it a coincidence that this pattern, to continue Toobin's quote, "has served the interests, and reflected the values of the contemporary Republican party"? Some coincidence.

For all the talk of "modesty" and "restraint," the right wing Justices of the Court have a striking record of ignoring precedent, overturning congressional statutes, limiting constitutional protections, and discovering new constitutional rights: the infamous Ledbetter decision, for instance; the Louisville and Seattle integration cases; the first limitation on Roe v. Wade that outright disregards the woman's health and safety; and the DC Heller decision, discovering a constitutional right to own guns that the Court had not previously noticed in 220 years. Some "balls and strikes." Over and over, news reporting discusses "fundamental changes in the law" wrought by the Roberts Court's right wing flank. The Roberts Court has not kept the promises of modesty or humility made when President Bush nominated Justices Roberts and Alito.

Very, very well put.

Liberals and Democrats need to fight back against the myth, propagated by the right and regurgitated by the media, of conservative judicial neutrality. Whitehouse's statement was exactly what needed to be said.

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