Sunday, May 31, 2009

Domestic Terrorism

An abortion provider is murdered outside his church. Will the media call this domestic terrorism? Will the leaders of Operation Rescue be waterboarded so that they might be forced to reveal what they know about the man's killer and any other unlawful combatants that might be roaming American streets looking to kill more doctors?

Friday, May 29, 2009

Quote for the day

Let’s hope that the key conferences aren’t when she’s menstruating or something, or just before she’s going to menstruate. That would really be bad. Lord knows what we would get then.

-G. Gordon Liddy, on Sonya Sotomayor.

At this rate, you'll soon be able to fit the entire party membership of the GOP into a phone booth.

Sonya Sotomayor: Providing Some Context

Right wing commentators from Rush Limbaugh to Newt Gingrich to Tom Tancredo have gone out to their way to label Judge Sonya Sotomayor a Hispanic racist, basing their assessment on one sentence taken out of context from a larger speech.

"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."
Conservatives like Limbaugh and Gingrich have tried to use this one sentence to claim that Sotomayor is a Hispanic supremacist who thinks that a female Latina can judge the U.S. Constitution better tahn a white male. Once seen in the broader context of Sotomayor's remarks, however, it is clear that she is, in fact, making this claim only for cases involving discrimination against women and hispanics (a far less controversial stance).

The speech has been reprinted in its entirety in the New York Times, but it is still rather long (5 pages). I therefore here reprint the relevant context with the offending sentence in bold:
No one person, judge or nominee will speak in a female or people of color voice. I need not remind you that Justice Clarence Thomas represents a part but not the whole of African-American thought on many subjects. Yet, because I accept the proposition that, as Judge Resnik describes it, "to judge is an exercise of power" and because as, another former law school classmate, Professor Martha Minnow of Harvard Law School, states "there is no objective stance but only a series of perspectives - no neutrality, no escape from choice in judging," I further accept that our experiences as women and people of color affect our decisions. The aspiration to impartiality is just that--it's an aspiration because it denies the fact that we are by our experiences making different choices than others. Not all women or people of color, in all or some circumstances or indeed in any particular case or circumstance but enough people of color in enough cases, will make a difference in the process of judging. The Minnesota Supreme Court has given an example of this. As reported by Judge Patricia Wald formerly of the D.C. Circuit Court, three women on the Minnesota Court with two men dissenting agreed to grant a protective order against a father's visitation rights when the father abused his child. The Judicature Journal has at least two excellent studies on how women on the courts of appeal and state supreme courts have tended to vote more often than their male counterpart to uphold women's claims in sex discrimination cases and criminal defendants' claims in search and seizure cases. As recognized by legal scholars, whatever the reason, not one woman or person of color in any one position but as a group we will have an effect on the development of the law and on judging.

In our private conversations, Judge Cedarbaum has pointed out to me that seminal decisions in race and sex discrimination cases have come from Supreme Courts composed exclusively of white males. I agree that this is significant but I also choose to emphasize that the people who argued those cases before the Supreme Court which changed the legal landscape ultimately were largely people of color and women. I recall that Justice Thurgood Marshall, Judge Connie Baker Motley, the first black woman appointed to the federal bench, and others of the NAACP argued Brown v. Board of Education. Similarly, Justice Ginsburg, with other women attorneys, was instrumental in advocating and convincing the Court that equality of work required equality in terms and conditions of employment.

Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, a possibility I abhor less or discount less than my colleague Judge Cedarbaum, our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging. Justice O'Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases. I am not so sure Justice O'Connor is the author of that line since Professor Resnik attributes that line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle. I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, 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.

Let us not forget that wise men like Oliver Wendell Holmes and Justice Cardozo voted on cases which upheld both sex and race discrimination in our society. Until 1972, no Supreme Court case ever upheld the claim of a woman in a gender discrimination case.
Clearly, Sotomayor is making a much more nuanced and empirically based argument than her dishonest detractors would have us believe.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sharia Law?

President Obama has finally named his choice to replace David Souter on the Supreme Court: 2nd Court of appeals Judge Sonia Sotomayor, who was originally appointed to the bench by George H. W. Bush in 1992.

The usual right wing suspects are predictably beside themselves, erupting in a vitriolic orgy of condemnation:

"Judge Sotomayor is a liberal judicial activist of the first order who thinks her own personal political agenda is more important that the law as written," said Wendy Long, counsel to the conservative Judicial Confirmation Network.

"She thinks that judges should dictate policy and that one's sex, race and ethnicity ought to affect the decisions one renders from the bench. ... She has an extremely high rate of her decisions being reversed, indicating that she is far more of a liberal activist than even the current liberal activist Supreme Court."

OK, read that over again. Sotomayor is more liberal than "the current liberal activist Supreme Court." This is the court headed by right-wing ideologue John Roberts, that boasts ultra-conservative activists Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas providing a hard-core radical-right-wing flank. The swing vote on the current court is justice Anthony Kennedy, a Republican appointee whose libertarian streak is pretty much the only thing keeping Americans from living under a de-facto Christianist regime of Sharia Law.

I'd really hate to see the sort of Supreme Court that the Judicial Confirmation Network would approve of. I suepect the Salem Witch trials would seem models of judicial restraint in comparison to the decisions that such a court would render.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Absurd Lie of the Day

When Jesse Ventura opines that Barack Obama is doing well considering he inherited a recession and two wars, Sean Hannity responds by claiming that George W. Bush "inherited... the negative impact of 9/11." (Minute 2:40)

I'm not sure how one is supposed to have "inherited" something that happened seven months into one's watch. That claim is just nuts. That's alternate reality stuff. Furthermore, Hannity's claim that Bush inherited a recession from Bill Clinton is also not so clear cut. And he certainly didn't inherit anything like the awful economic catastrophe the country found itself in when Barack Obama was sworn in.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The CIA would never lie (to a Democrat)

Well, I'll be darned. Turns out the CIA does, in fact, lie to members of congress... but only if they're Republicans. Democrats, on the other hand, should clearly wash their mouths out with a bar of soap whenever they suggest that the CIA misled them, because the CIA would never, ever do something like that.

Let me reiterate: this GOP push to investigate Pelosi is surely going to backfire.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Torture inquiry more likely

In a column in the Daily Beast, Matthew Yglesias makes the same point I made a few days ago: that in attacking Nancy Pelosi for her (peripheral) role in the Bush Administration torture scandal, the GOP is making an inquiry pretty much inevitable:

But in their zeal to score a tactical win, the right has made a truth commission more likely not less likely. Obama wanted to avoid a backward-looking focus on torture in part because it distracted from his legislative agenda. But if we're going to be looking backward anyway, thanks to conservatives' insistence on complaining about Pelosi, then the move forward strategy lacks a rationale. And far from forcing a standoff in which Pelosi will abandon her support for an investigation, the right has forced her into a corner from which she can't give in to moderate Democrats' opposition to such a move without looking like she's cravenly attempting to save her own skin.
It's a classic case of cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Let no one insist...

Let no one insist that conservatives are guilty of approaching president Obama's decisions with an open mind. The New York Times is reporting that conservative groups are already mapping out strategies to oppose Obama's (as yet unannounced) nominee for supreme court justice:

WASHINGTON — If President Obama nominates Judge Diane P. Wood to the Supreme Court, conservatives plan to attack her as an “outspoken” supporter of “abortion, including partial-birth abortion.”

If he nominates Judge Sonia Sotomayor, they plan to accuse her of being “willing to expand constitutional rights beyond the text of the Constitution.”

And if he nominates Kathleen M. Sullivan, a law professor at Stanford, they plan to denounce her as a “prominent supporter of homosexual marriage.”
Kinda makes me hope Obama nominates Sullivan. Nothing better than to sit back and watch another parade of overt right-wing bigotry that'll simply have the effect of further driving young people away from the GOP while further cementing that party's image as the American counterpart to the Taleban.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Would the CIA mislead? Never!

Nancy Pelosi's accusations that the CIA misled her in 2002 when she was briefed on the possible use of harsh interrogation techniques in connection with the war in Afghanistan has raised eyebrows among right-wing commentators and politicians:

The top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee is calling House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's accusation that the CIA misled her and others about waterboarding a massive attack on the nation's intelligence community.

Sen. Kit Bond of Missouri on Friday contradicted Pelosi's claim and called her criticism a tragedy. Bond said in a "Today" show interview that he reviewed the CIA's material and it was clear that she had been informed about the enhanced interrogation method.

However, Bond said he was not with Pelosi when the spy agency briefed her.

Now, I can't know for sure what Pelosi was or was not told in 2002, however, the notion that it's inconceivable that the CIA might dissemble when it comes the Bush Administration's torture policies is quite laughable. Have we already forgotten the lengths to which the CIA went to destroy evidence of their misdeeds?

According to a letter filed by the government in court today, the CIA acknowledged it destroyed 92 tapes of interrogations. The admission comes in an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit seeking records of the treatment of prisoners in U.S. custody abroad. In December 2007, the ACLU filed a motion to hold the CIA in contempt for its destruction of videotapes recording the harsh interrogation of prisoners in violation of a court order requiring the agency to produce or identify all the requested records. That motion is still pending.

The following can be attributed to Amrit Singh, staff attorney with the ACLU:

"This letter provides further evidence for holding the CIA in contempt of court. The large number of videotapes destroyed confirms that the agency engaged in a systemic attempt to hide evidence of its illegal interrogations and to evade the court's order. Our contempt motion has been pending in court for over a year now – it is time to hold the CIA accountable for its flagrant disregard for the rule of law."

All in all, though, this rush to Demonize Nancy Pelosi is rather disturbing. The press and right-wing is having a field day with the story of what Pelosi knew and when she might have known it. And yet, at most Pelosi is guilty of knowing that torture was taking place in CIA detention facilities and not speaking out against it. Meanwhile the perpetrators of that torture, and the high ranking officials who authorized and ordered it have not been investigated or prosecuted for their crimes. Does it not make sense that one would go after the central figures before focusing on the periphery?

Republicans are enjoying a brief moment in the sun, sitting back an watching the Speaker of the House roast for a few days. I suspect they've made tactical mistake in pushing this story, though. Attacking Pelosi for whatever role she may have played in the torture scandal merely shines more light on it. That alone makes it far more likely that the American people will dmand clarity and the sort of accountability that could find more than a few top Bush administrations in hot water (I'm talking about you Dick Cheney).

Thursday, May 14, 2009

How vacuous?

How intellectually vacuous is "Planet Corner"? Matthew Yglesias chronicles the feud that results when a fellow conservative dares to criticize Rush Limbaugh:

...look at what happens after Cato’s Jerry Taylor offers some criticism of Limbaugh at the Corner. All hell breaks loose. Katherine Jean-Lopez attacks Taylor. Mark Steyn rebuts that she “should have been harder on Jerry Taylor’s post.” Taylor defends himself then K-Lo fires back expressing shock that anyone would dare accuse a talk radio host of at times deploying invalid arguments* while Rich Lowry agrees that Rush is wrong about stuff but insists that he should be immune from criticism anyway. K-Lo, back for more, gushes that Rush has a large audience so everyone had better get in line.
Once again, this is what conservatism has been reduced to. It'd be funny if it weren't so sad.

Stupid or dishonest?

Stupid or Dishonest? You Decide:

Here's Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds:

May 14, 2009


Remember how the Reagan administration became a laughingstock for allegedly trying to classify ketchup as a vegetable?

This week, the Obama administration warned that Cheerios are a drug.

On the bright side for Obama, at least it’s not a Jimmy Carter comparison, this time . . . .
But did the Obama Administration really claim Cheerios was a drug? Here's what the article that Reynolds links to really says:

The Food and Drug Administration has taken issue with health claims made by Cheerios, America’s best-selling breakfast cereal, signalling a new approach to food industry marketing under the Obama administration.

The FDA warned General Mills that it was, in effect, marketing its Cheerios breakfast cereal as a drug, because the cereal’s familiar yellow boxes carry unapproved claims about lowering cholesterol and reducing the risks of heart disease.

Is the Obama administration classifying Cheerios as a drug? Of course not. Rather, the FDA under Obama is holding product manufacturers to a tighter standard than the previous administration when it comes to marketing campaigns that claim health benefits that are not scientifically backed. In Reynolds world that somehow means that Cheerios are now classified as a drug.

This sort of nonsense is all that the Right has got right now. No wonder the GOP is in disarray.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

There but for the grace of God...

I empathize completely with Lindsey Lohan, for what happened to her recently could just as easily have happened to me.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Get thee back, Satan!

She may have lost the battle against Satan when she agreed to pose topless for a Photographer when she was a "teenager" (her words), but when Satan tempted Miss California, Carrie Prejean, on the issue of Gay marriage (again, her words), she held her ground and stood firm telling the whole world that only "opposite marriage" is acceptable. At least that's what Prejean is telling Focus On the Family's James Dobson, in a new interview on Dobson's radio program.

And now Prejean has become the newest star to the Christian Right, a conservative social movement dedicated to the proposition that the splinter in your eye is a far greater threat to the nation's moral compass than the log in mine.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Goodbye Pelosi?

I don't want to jump before all the facts are in, especially since Nancy Pelosi has become the favorite whipping girl of the GOP and the nutty Right. But if, indeed, Pelosi knew that Al Qaeda detainees were being waterboarded back in 2002, as new evidence tends to suggest, then I can't see how she can possibly remain Speaker of the House under a Democratic majority.

(Via Andrew Sullivan)

Our Man on the Inside

Rush Limbaugh again insists that Colin Powell only endorsed Barack Obama because Obama is black, and enjoins the long-time moderate Republican to abandon the party and become a Democrat.

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh Wednesday that if former Secretary of State Colin Powell is going to keep criticizing the GOP, he may as well leave the party and become a Democrat—adding that Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama was “purely and solely based on race.”

“He's just mad at me because I’m the one person in the country that had the guts to explain his endorsement of Obama,” Limbaugh said on his radio show. “There can be no other explanation for it.”

“What Colin Powell needs to do is close the loop and become a Democrat, instead of claiming to be a Republican interested in reforming the Republican Party. He's not. He's a full-fledged Democrat,” Limbaugh said.
Now, imagine for a moment, that Democrats had a man "on the inside" as it were, a powerful member of the GOP establishment who was really a double-agent, and whose job was to do as much damage to the GOP "brand" as possible. Who do you think that man would be: Powell or Limbaugh?

My money'd be on Limbaugh.

Gotta love him.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


I'm sitting at my table, having dinner and watching Chris Matthews and Tom Tancredo "debate" the theory of evolution. It's painful. Neither has the foggiest clue what he's talking about. Matthews just knows he's for it and Tancredo knows he's against it. Matthews doesn't even know the theory well enough to spot the creationist nonsense that Tancredo is spewing. Matthews is trying to use evolution as a means to paint Republicans as anti-science, but he doesn't even underrtand the theory he claims to be defending well enough to realize that Tancredo's absurd arguments prove that very point.

I'm sure there'll be a video of this exchange tomorrow on Crooks and Liars or a similar blog. Until then I'll just sit here and stew in the soup of ignorance that's just been ladelled into my brain.

A Perfect Fit

The GOP, a party which spent the last eight years doubling the national debt and wrecking the economy, has spent the last four months criticizing the Obama administration for spending too much money trying to undo the damage they did and prevent the world economy from plunging into an all-out depression.

It's fitting, then, that Bristol Palin, Daughter of Alaska Governor and GOP superstar Sarah Palin, who spent the last couple of years shacking up with her boyfriend and getting herself all pregnant, is now a spokesperson for abstinence education.

They just don't get it, do they?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Quote for the day

Joe Wurzelbacher, AKA Joe the Plumber:

I've had some friends that are actually homosexual. And, I mean, they know where I stand, and they know that I wouldn't have them anywhere near my children.
What kind of "friends" can they possibly be if you wouldn't let them "anywhere near" your kids?

This guy and Sarah Palin together are exhibit A on what's wrong with the modern Republican Party.

Killing the Chief

I've long maintained that GM would have to slim down if it hopes to survive, and so I approve of the company's decision to rid itself of several divisions, including Pontiac. That doesn't mean, however, that the move won't be awfully painful to a lot of good, hard working people. The New York Times, for instance, has a story today about one such group of people: a family in Pennsylvania that has been selling cars since 1916, and Pontiacs exclusively since 1926, and whose dealership has been passed down, from father to son, since the very beginning. The death of Pontiac is like the end of their world:

Small, out-of-the-way Arnold Pontiac sells only Pontiacs, GMC trucks and used cars, so the Arnolds figure their G.M. warranty is about to expire. “It was just like getting kicked in the stomach,” says the elder Mr. Arnold, who sold his first car in 1950, to a local man named Paxton. (“Pontiac Catalina. Two-door hardtop. It was cream and rust.”)

His son, who started working at the dealership when he was 6, using a step stool to dust the tops of gleaming Bonnevilles and GTOs, is still trying to process the apparent evaporation of this chunk of his inheritance. “I’m not going to entertain that just yet,” says the younger Mr. Arnold, who sold his first car in 1987. (“Green Sunbird.”)

As Detroit and Washington work to save the car industry from going over a cliff like some roadster in a black-and-white melodrama, entire families have been upended — families that long ago linked their surname to the name of Pontiac in commercial banns of marriage.
The article is worth a read, as it is important to never forget the human cost of our decisions.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

New post

My newest post is up at Stinque.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Execrable Scum

A follow-up on the Chrysler bankruptcy. If what the Washington Post is today reporting is accurate, then the execrable hedge funds that forced the Chrysler bankruptcy are even more despicable than I originally imagined ( know, I know... they never fail to surprise me with the depths of their perverse greed):

The funds hold about $1 billion in Chrysler bonds and have turned down the government's terms. The government would have paid just under a third of the value of those bonds. However, many funds bought the bonds at deep discounts from other investors who feared the bonds might ultimately be worthless.
So these greedy bottom feeders bought distressed assets for pennies on the dollar in the hope of making a killing when the government bailed out Chrysler, and now they're angry that Obama wasn't ready to play their cynical game?

In this context, the following statement of a lawyer representing the hedge funds is almost laughable:
"It sounds like people are being bullied right now," said Ron Geffner, a partner at the law firm Sadis and Goldberg, which represents hedge funds. "To play the 'I stand with Chrysler, I stand with families, I stand with the dealers, I stand with the consumers' -- that's great conceptually, but . . . I stand with the fact that we live in a capitalist society where companies who don't modify their business plans and stay current die and go by the wayside."
These funds bought this debt under the assumption that the cavalry was going to come to the rescue, and are now acting as if it's illegitimate for the cavalry to come to the rescue of dying companies in a capitalist society!? Really, these people are unbelievable!