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Let the games begin
July 13, 2009 6:40 PM   Subscribe

Today began Judge Sonia Sotomayor's Senate confirmation hearings, with opening remarks from the Senators on the Judiciary Committee, introductions from NY Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, and an opening statement from Judge Sotomayor herself. Among the shouted protests from pro-life advocates in the gallery, highlights included Sen. Lindsay Graham's statement about what he thinks the advise-and-consent function of the senate should entail, and Sen. Al Franken's first real moment in the U.S. Congress.
posted by Navelgazer (86 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
I'm amazed that Al Franken managed to snag a spot on the Judiciary Committee.
posted by delmoi at 6:44 PM on July 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Hm. He didn't end with "And live from New York, it's Saturday Night!!!"
posted by jabberjaw at 6:47 PM on July 13, 2009 [5 favorites]


Did I really hear (What i presume was a GOP senator) equate impartiality and compassion?
posted by MrLint at 6:51 PM on July 13, 2009


Did I really hear (What i presume was a GOP senator) equate impartiality and compassion?

That's gonna rile up the base.
posted by educatedslacker at 6:52 PM on July 13, 2009


I love that the GOP has decided to take an anti-empathy stance. Heh. They're so evil!
posted by mr_roboto at 6:58 PM on July 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well, that last link was the longest, most boring SNL sketch that I've ever watched, but Darrel Hammond did a bang-up job as Pat Leahy, I must say.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:02 PM on July 13, 2009 [5 favorites]


Al Franken wears his member's pin proud, even though everybody knows who he is. Good for him.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 7:07 PM on July 13, 2009


I love that the GOP has decided to take an anti-empathy stance. Heh. They're so evil!

Well. Empathy leads to prejudice, right?

Guys like the Grand Dragon of the KKK were just seething with epic levels of empathy.
posted by tkchrist at 7:16 PM on July 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


One of the vocal protesters was Norma McCorvey, aka Jane Roe of Roe v Wade.
posted by sbutler at 7:17 PM on July 13, 2009


I also enjoyed Glenn Becks tirade about the soft-ball questions Sotomayor was being asked.

Except they never asked any questions becuase today was OPENING STATEMENTS ONLY.

But he heard those questions anyway, I guess. Suffused with all the other voices in his head.
posted by tkchrist at 7:19 PM on July 13, 2009 [14 favorites]


I also enjoyed Glenn Becks tirade

I was just disappointed that we didn't get to see him shed any more tears for America--though he looked like he was on the verge of it just for a moment there . . .
posted by flug at 7:23 PM on July 13, 2009


I listened to Lindsey Graham's statement; what struck me about it was his apparent belief in the essential fungibility of Hispanics, if not their ideologies.

To me that was offensive, as Lindsey seemed to imply that Sotomayor is only a Hispanic, only a sop to an ethnic constituency, only a symbol, albeit a Hispanic who will parrot liberal talking points, in contrast to Miguel Estrada who, Lindsey assures us "we [Republicans] all would have voted for", presumably because Estrada could conversely be "trusted" to be a "Republican judge"

I suppose this was Lindsey's attempt to show that he and his Republican Party isn't anti-Hispanic, but it seemed all the more racist that Lindsey Graham's only opening was to compare Sotomayor to conservative Republican Hispanic Judge Estrada.

And worse, it left me with the feeling that Lindsey Graham just sees justices of the Supreme Court as cookie-cutter tokens representing certain ethnic and religious constituencies, all of whom are wind-up soldiers pre-vetted to make decisions which, right or wrong, uphold their nominator's ideology. And that seems to me to diminish both the Court and its Justices -- and Senator Graham.
posted by orthogonality at 7:28 PM on July 13, 2009 [8 favorites]


Franken's opening statement was a pretty stark warning that Things Will Not Go Well if she's right-of-center, and that she had better not be worrying about the Republicans, but about the Democrats... dressed up in smiles and gracious statements. Her face falling as he started talking about his notion of Judicial Activism and she realized that he wasn't going to be a cream-puff was a fine bit of video.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:31 PM on July 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


though he looked like he was on the verge of it just for a moment there . . .


No kidding.

I swear Beck has to have been the fetal-alcohol syndrome baby of Tammy Fay Baker.

I Mean Limbaugh is just kind of one of those picked-on angry lonely loser jock-rider dorks in high school who was the football team equipment manager — I get that he's in it for the revenge fantasy and the money. But Beck? Beck it actually HURTS to watch him. Like somebody give that poor special needs bastard a sedative and a lolly pop and take him to the god damned petting zoo already.
posted by tkchrist at 7:32 PM on July 13, 2009 [8 favorites]


I listened to Lindsey Graham's statement; what struck me about it was his apparent belief in the essential fungibility of Hispanics, if not their ideologies.

It makes sense in that certain wing-nut gee-golly world view perspective.

I fully enjoy and appreciate that the GOP'ers haven't fully abandoned the "She's a racist radical" subtext.

When we look there is this nice, calm, kindly-looking grandma lady sitting there smiling. But if you did like a jump-cut to what these GOP senators see— she would transform into maniacal ammo-belt clad mixture of Che Guevara, Tony Montana, and Charo.
posted by tkchrist at 7:41 PM on July 13, 2009 [5 favorites]


Well, at least it wasn't crypto- racism.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:47 PM on July 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


orthogonality - I disagree with Sen. Graham about everything, far as I can tell, including his view on advice and consent (I personally think that the senate should give any nominee as hard a grilling as they want - this is a lifetime appointment, after all).

Still, I didn't get the feeling you got from him there at all. I thought he was saying that there were deep political issues at play, between the republicans and democrats, but that her being Hispanic wasn't some sort of deal-breaker, and that he didn't want to make it an issue. Hispanics as a monolithic political culture? Who seriously believes that? They are a group fiercely sought after by both parties, exasperatingly, precisely because they are so individual and inscrutable on the classic issues. Fiscally conservative but in favor of social welfare. Family Values all-the-way but wait! They're more in favor of gay rights than any other race in the U.S. No serious politician thinks of classically-liberal Hispanics versus their Uncle Tom analogs. They've seen Alberto Gonzalez and they've also seen Florida, Texas, and Arizona's election results.

Moreover, the point he was making was that he would decide based on her qualifications and character, even if he disagreed with her. I think he completely misconstrued her "wise Latina" comment, but aside from that it seemed to me like his opening was an effort to take race off the table and focus on her personally.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:48 PM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


They'd find the ammo belt reassuring.
posted by yesster at 7:48 PM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


orthogonalityI listened to Lindsey Graham's statement; what struck me about it was his apparent belief in the essential fungibility of Hispanics, if not their ideologies.

I was about to say the same thing, but you used such an excellent word, fungibility. And then after insulting her by making her out to be "the hispanic" he continues his charming repartee by discussing the possibility of her having a complete meltdown.

Sotomayor was looking at him with such a look. I don't think she suffers fools gladly.
posted by readery at 7:52 PM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Seconding what delmoi said. How did Sen. Franken manage to get onto the Judiciary committee when, in his own words, he's only been a sitting Senator for a week? Maybe they decided to retroactively give him eight months worth of advancement in the Senate, but somehow I doubt it. Don't you have to have several terms under your belt before you can get put into high-profile positions like this?
posted by jaffacakerhubarb at 7:52 PM on July 13, 2009


but aside from that it seemed to me like his opening was an effort to take race off the table and focus on her personally.

Graham might have been attempting just that. Maybe your right.

But his louder Right Wing proxies outside the committee sure seem to be nailing race right to the table every chance they get. I don't understand what they think that's gonna get them. But they can't seem to let up.
posted by tkchrist at 7:54 PM on July 13, 2009


To put it another way, I read something earlier today where a pundit stated that Sotomayor's were in a tricky position because they'd want to impugn her use of race, but not her actual race, and that "would be hard," and my thought was, "no, that's only hard if you're a racist."

Graham never came off as a racist to me. He did come off as someone who was pro-death-penalty, anti-choice, in favor of far-reaching executive powers, and willing to use this moment to score political points off of Obama's old statements, but not racist.

Jeff Sessions, however, different story. Total anti-Latino racist.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:55 PM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


tkchrist: indeed. The rest of the GOP can't help themselves. For all I know Graham is as bad as the rest of them, but I didn't see it here.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:57 PM on July 13, 2009


Senator Franken is absolutely on the mark about our conservative Supreme Court, exercising judicial activism on behalf of the Republican Party. I wish him well in bringing this to the conversations our country needs to have, in order to rebuild from the vast damage the GOP has done to individual civil and reproductive rights over the last nine years since Bush v. Gore.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:04 PM on July 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I was especially pleased to hear Franken making clear-throated statements about the conservative judicial activism of the past decade. I especially liked how he noted that Justice Thomas has voted to overturn laws more times than Breyer and Stevens combined. I thought it was a great start to his Senate career.
posted by darkstar at 8:11 PM on July 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm amazed that Al Franken managed to snag a spot on the Judiciary Committee.

Ron Wyden was temporarily on the committee, keeping warm a seat that was reserved for Franken from the beginning of the term. He's also on health care, education, and labor. (Roland Burris, by contrast, is on Armed Services, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and Veterans Affairs -- despite what this says, less glamorous assignments.)

Committee assignments are largely up to the party caucuses and the leadership and committee chairmen divvy up the pool with some attention to strengths and interests on the part of the Senators, but not always.
posted by dhartung at 8:14 PM on July 13, 2009


Anyone catch what the hecklers were saying during Franken's remarks?
posted by hifiparasol at 8:18 PM on July 13, 2009


Best summary of the day I've seen.
posted by alms at 8:21 PM on July 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm a political junkie, but the more I read about Sotomayor, the more bored I get. She's a moderate judge who was picked by a moderate president and the moderates on the Hill won't block her seat on the court. Where's the controversy?
posted by zardoz at 8:32 PM on July 13, 2009 [8 favorites]


What is it about sports that lends itself to such facile, fatuous analogizing applied to issues of great nuance and complexity?

I swear, every time I hear a sports analogy in politics - whether it's comparing SCOTUS Justices to baseball umpires or Sarah Palin opining about how quitting her job is like being a good point guard - I can feel myself growing just a little bit stupider.
posted by darkstar at 8:33 PM on July 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm kind of amazed at the fact that in Al Franken, a man the right loves to paint as a lightweight and a joke, the Democrats have someone who works harder and speaks more proudly as an advocate of the party- and of liberalism!- than nearly any of the Democratic Congresscritters. He's not ashamed, like most of the careerists, to be a liberal, nor to be seen as one.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:42 PM on July 13, 2009 [10 favorites]


I'm a political junkie, but the more I read about Sotomayor, the more bored I get. She's a moderate judge who was picked by a moderate president and the moderates on the Hill won't block her seat on the court. Where's the controversy?

Because she's a [anti-Latino/a racial epithet] judge picked by a [anti-black racial epithet] Democrat President. I've talked a few times around here about how the movement Right is absolutely incapable of accepting Democratic authority and goes blind with apoplexy at the thought of a Democrat with any power (for fuck's sake, they still can't stop calling Barney Frank a faggot), and that coupled with the incredibly deeply-seated racism in what's left of the Republicans as the non-batshit are purged from the party means that Barack Obama sparks fits of psychotic rage in an awful lot of the GOP, and the fact that he dared to pick someone who wasn't a white man for the Supreme Court is, to this mindset, like a... well, like a black man thinking he's a fully human person with rights and privileges and brainpower equal to white people.

If you're sane, it all looks like a bunch of hubbub over nothing. If you're batshit crazy and racist as hell, it's the single most offensive thing imaginable.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:47 PM on July 13, 2009 [11 favorites]


I'm a political junkie, but the more I read about Sotomayor, the more bored I get. She's a moderate judge who was picked by a moderate president and the moderates on the Hill won't block her seat on the court. Where's the controversy?

but this is how obama works, he plays the long game. He knows he's going to get at least 2-3 justices, so for his first he picks a moderate-liberal who will provoke the republicans to overplay their hand. So when the next two are even more liberal people will roll their eyes whenever the republicans freak out (or at least I freaking hope so)
posted by slapshot57 at 8:53 PM on July 13, 2009 [5 favorites]


The only sad thing to me about Franken being in the Senate - and indeed about the Sotomayor nomination or the Obama Presidency - is that Molly Ivins isn't with us any more to write about it.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:53 PM on July 13, 2009 [10 favorites]


but this is how obama works, he plays the long game.

I don't know. This is a guy who thought he could get 80 votes on the stimulus because republicans obviously wouldn't play politics in such a dicey situation. I'm not sure he could really have anticipated the republican freakout. But it certainly worked out well
posted by delmoi at 9:02 PM on July 13, 2009


I watched/listened to most live and blogged about it (gratuitous self link) and it was sad to see the usual kabuki dance going on.

Republicans: "Oh yeah, you got a great list of accomplishments and your family should be proud. But you don't sound like a good judge and will single handedly destroyed the greatest legal system in the world."

Democrats: "Did you know Sonia Sotomayor is completely fucking awesome? Here, let me tell you how completely fucking awesome she is."

Jeff Sessions' opening statement followed the playbook above while adding a scary frat boy grin at times. The look on Sotomayer's face as he spoke was all "You've got to fucking kidding me, seriously?"

I can't decide whether Lindsey Graham was actually trying to rise above the political sport that confirmation hearings have become or was just trying to level the playing field in order to get Sotomayor to talk honestly so that Republicans could then really take shots at her.

Trivia note: One of the hecklers arrested while Franken spoke was Norma McCorvey, the woman who was Jane Roe in Roe vs Wade.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:09 PM on July 13, 2009


I watched/listened to most live and blogged about it (gratuitous self link) and it was sad to see the usual kabuki dance going on.

Republicans: "Oh yeah, you got a great list of accomplishments and your family should be proud. But you don't sound like a good judge and will single handedly destroyed the greatest legal system in the world."

Democrats: "Did you know Sonia Sotomayor is completely fucking awesome? Here, let me tell you how completely fucking awesome she is."


Also, as the judicial committee's questioning drags on, it becomes more and more apparent just how little most of the Senators on that committee truly understand constitutional law.
posted by gyc at 9:17 PM on July 13, 2009


Highlights for me was Whitehouse, Feingold, some of Kloubachar, some of Franken. Specter had piss poor delivery, but his message was surprisingly pretty good.

Sessions is just flat out a wanker, and Graham better keep his hands in sight, he has the ability to insult you while sounding polite. Everyone else was pretty meh-tastic.
posted by edgeways at 9:32 PM on July 13, 2009


What is it about sports that lends itself to such facile, fatuous analogizing applied to issues of great nuance and complexity?

I don't know darkstar - but I think we should fight back by talking about sports with politics metaphors.
posted by device55 at 9:53 PM on July 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


Graham better keep his hands in sight

That's what David Brooks didn't say.
posted by orthogonality at 10:03 PM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Committee assignments are largely up to the party caucuses and the leadership and committee chairmen divvy up the pool with some attention to strengths and interests on the part of the Senators, but not always.

It's my understanding there's a trend afoot where committee assignments and in particular leadership are assigned less on seniority than they used to be, and more on how much help you've given the party in raising funds and otherwise getting elected.

I don't have any ready numbers, but I would suspect that Franken's longtime interest in politics and popular status means that he has an advantage when it comes to fundraising and that he's been helping with it for considerably longer than he's been running for office. Getting a seat on a few desirable committees probably isn't that hard.

but this is how obama works, he plays the long game. He knows he's going to get at least 2-3 justices, so for his first he picks a moderate-liberal who will provoke the republicans to overplay their hand. So when the next two are even more liberal people will roll their eyes whenever the republicans freak out.

What's more... if I were going to do any single thing to try and guarantee that the Republicans will have it hard for a long time to come, it might be to get them to alienate Latinos/Hispanics. They're a growing demographic, and one of the few within which there's a streak of social conservatism. Republicans could find allies here (they have, I think, if Bush 43 is any indication as a candidate and to some extent as a moderate voice in immigration policy)... if only they could reign in the xenophobia. And playing stuff like this smarter. It's kindof sad that they can't seem to do it, not even for the sake of political expediency.
posted by weston at 10:03 PM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Best summary of the day I've seen.

Christ, what a pack of asshole blowhards. Watching that felt like a series of strikes to my balls; I knew I shouldn't have clicked the link.

And Lindsey Graham: "No Republican would have chosen you, Judge..." okay, kind of a douchey tone, but unsurprising and not malicious, whatever... but then: "...we would have picked Miguel Estrada..."

What is he, in second goddamned grade?
posted by Rat Spatula at 10:12 PM on July 13, 2009


And a small addendum to weston's point about the LH community having a social-conservative streak... I'm acquainted with a South American gentleman who immigrated to the US in the 1970s. He's a die-hard Republican, but my impression is that it's less about gay rights and abortion than simply a reaction to his experiences with the corrupt government of his homeland. For him, the "less government" business rings a very visceral bell. And he was emphatically not in the plutocrat class.
posted by Rat Spatula at 10:19 PM on July 13, 2009


The only sad thing to me about Franken being in the Senate - and indeed about the Sotomayor nomination or the Obama Presidency - is that Molly Ivins isn't with us any more to write about it.

I am completely fucking there with you. I miss the hell out of her and wish she could've at least seen the end of the Bush era.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:29 PM on July 13, 2009


My word, these things are painful to watch.

Why does every single senator have to spend 20 minutes fellating the other members before he starts to do the goddamn job at hand? Can't these clowns fall over thanking each other and talking about how humble they are on their own goddamn time?

Is this the real point of the hearings? To see if the nominee gets bored to death and falls over?
posted by rokusan at 2:18 AM on July 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


but this is how obama works, he plays the long game.

Every time I hear this claim, I ask the same question: how long, specifically? Can someone tell me when the clock runs out on this game, so that we know when we're allowed to stop and judge him on his actions?

Because otherwise it sounds disturbingly like the Bush indefinite-deflection: "We're doing the right thing, and if you knew what we know, you'd agree and thank us for protecting you. We just can't tell you why. National security."

In other words, it's way too much like another twist on "Don't question, just trust, and everything will be fine later."

This doesn't make me feel good.
posted by rokusan at 2:23 AM on July 14, 2009 [8 favorites]


This doesn't make me feel good.

Sleep on it. You'll feel better at some point in the future.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:35 AM on July 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, Lindsay Graham is a smooth southerner who, bless his heart, will shank you with a smile. I remember how he stated that he better see officers and command personnel punished for Abu Ghraib. Yeah. Any time I watch Mad Men and the character, Pete Campbell (smarmy, dodgy ad executive) he reminds me of a young Lindsay Graham.
posted by jadepearl at 4:43 AM on July 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Around 4 years ago, my cousin's wife was in her last months of life, having suffered with breast cancer for the preceeding 4 years. I was spending a lot of time with them, and one of her closest friends was an incredibly smart, sweet woman who I spent considerable time speaking with. She seemed to be one of the more logical, thoughtful people I've ever met, full of intelligence, curiosity and verve. My cousin had informed me that she was a federal judge, not that I really cared. A group of us had gone to dinner a couple of times, and this woman sent across from me both times, and I was more and more impressed by the depth of her mind and soul. You could not imagine spending time with a more decent human being. After Linda passed, I lost touch with her.

I realized just a few weeks ago, that the woman was Sotomayor.

So the Repubs can go fuck themselves, this is one case where I've spent time with the object of their scorn. If they want to paint Sonia as some extremist wackjob, it really says a lot more about them than her.
posted by dbiedny at 4:54 AM on July 14, 2009 [28 favorites]


sat across... I should drink my tea before I type in the morning.
posted by dbiedny at 4:58 AM on July 14, 2009


No serious politician thinks of classically-liberal Hispanics versus their Uncle Tom analogs.

You mean Tio Tomas?
posted by ActingTheGoat at 6:53 AM on July 14, 2009


Anyone catch what the hecklers were saying during Franken's remarks?

Trivia note: One of the hecklers arrested while Franken spoke was Norma McCorvey, the woman who was Jane Roe in Roe vs Wade.


Yeah, apparently all the hecklers yesterday were anti-choice folks.

Oh, and I'd like to take this opportunity to chide you all for failing to throw around semi-meaningless, obfuscatory phrases like "strict constructionist" and "originalist." You really all should know better than that.
posted by hifiparasol at 7:18 AM on July 14, 2009


I propose the postnominal initials "O. C." for "Original Constructotutionist", in the spirit of Ice-T's "O. G."
posted by Rat Spatula at 7:23 AM on July 14, 2009


This is a guy who thought he could get 80 votes on the stimulus...

No, this is a guy who said he could get 80 votes.

Depending on who you need to "inspire", looking like a success is sometimes much more important than making people afraid you'll fail.
posted by lodurr at 8:50 AM on July 14, 2009


slapshot57: "but this is how obama works, he plays the long game. … (or at least I freaking hope so)"

Maybe he's playing multidimensional chess, or maybe he's just what he appears to be. Let Occam's Razor be your guide.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:19 AM on July 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


but this is how obama works, he plays the long game.

God works in mysterious ways? Is that it?
posted by litleozy at 10:00 AM on July 14, 2009


Funny thing about Occam's Razor: The more you pay attention, the simpler complex explanations become -- and the less plausible the simpler ones become.
posted by lodurr at 10:12 AM on July 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Funny thing about Occam's Razor: The more you pay attention, the simpler complex explanations become -- and the less plausible the simpler ones become.

Occam's Rogaine?
posted by dirigibleman at 10:15 AM on July 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Occam's Razor doesn't help me decide between "He is everything he appears to be" and "He is merely what he appears to be."
posted by Rat Spatula at 10:46 AM on July 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


No, for that you need Occam's Moral Compass.
posted by lodurr at 11:06 AM on July 14, 2009


Sotomayor explains the use of Nunchucks.
posted by delmoi at 11:14 AM on July 14, 2009


however I turn, this damned thing always points straight at Wasilla
posted by Rat Spatula at 11:28 AM on July 14, 2009


thank you for not pointing out how badly I booted the punchline.
posted by lodurr at 11:30 AM on July 14, 2009


Sotomayor explains the use of Nunchucks.

Ugh. God how embarrassing. On multiple levels. First that she says "NUM-chucks." And second she has to claim how "deadly" they are.

Nunchucks should be banned not becuase they are so deadly, which they laughably are not, but becuase they are quite possibly the dorkiest dumbest god damned things ever.
posted by tkchrist at 11:57 AM on July 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


What, are you saying you can't kill yourself with those things? Cuz I know a few guys who've come darn close.
posted by lodurr at 12:01 PM on July 14, 2009


What, are you saying you can't kill yourself with those things?

Your self? Well they are certainly more dangerous to the user but only deadly to the nads. Which is why they should remain legal. Self selecting Darwinism.
posted by tkchrist at 12:10 PM on July 14, 2009


Erm. Nads. Yeah. Those too. Fortunately I never cared to breed, anyway.

I'm also having some not-so-fond memories of the times I clocked myself on the head with manriki gusari I made out of spend CO2 canisters filled with lead, fastened together with parachute cord.
posted by lodurr at 12:24 PM on July 14, 2009


orthogonality, I was under the impression that Sotomayor started the fungibility trend herself by saying that she, a Latina, is automatically wiser and posessed of richer experience than a white male. The racist comments against her are equally stupid, of course.

There are plenty of legitimate reasons to oppose her. Such as keeping an innocent man in prison on a technicality despite a coerced confession and DNA evidence of innocence, and endorsing racist hiring practices (disclaimer: I only skimmed that article but it provides a good starting point of both issues). Racist froth — in both directions — only distracts from and discredits the real problems with her nomination.
posted by vsync at 12:45 PM on July 14, 2009


vsync, based on my reading of the speech in question, you were under a mistaken impression.
posted by lodurr at 12:52 PM on July 14, 2009


I was under the impression that Sotomayor started the fungibility trend herself by saying that she, a Latina, is automatically wiser and posessed of richer experience than a white male.

Considering how many white males believe that argument and scream reverse discrimination, I'm starting to agree with her.

There's a lot more nuisance to the Ricci case than that hopelessly biased link. Read up on it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:55 PM on July 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


That was one hell of a slip ("There's a lot more nuisance..."). True, though.

My understanding is that almost everyone who's actually qualified to offer a legal opinion feels the same way: There's a lot more nu[is]ance to it than meets the eye.
posted by lodurr at 1:03 PM on July 14, 2009


Hee, thanks lodurr.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:12 PM on July 14, 2009


You meant to say that, though, right?
posted by lodurr at 1:24 PM on July 14, 2009


I find it kind of amazing that basically every issue surrounding Sotomayor revolves around race and how it may or may not influence someone's ability to make decisions:

Her "wise Latina" comments were in the context of what personal experiences she might bring to bear on discrimination cases, but Republicans have somehow construed this as "racist" because it sounds out of context like she's saying she's a better judge than a white man; her famous decision in Ricci was actually a defense of the city's decision to change its test because the city council was worried about lawsuits from black firefighters; you've got Lindsey Graham bending over backwards to make some stupid point about how it's not the fact that she's Hispanic that makes him and his colleagues uncomfortable ("some of my best friends are Hispanic judges...") just, I guess, the way that she might act based on her experiences as a Hispanic; the media keeps referring to her as potentially "the first Latina on the Supreme Court" (without apparently having thought through the fact that being "the first X" to do something is impressive only in inverse proportion to the number of X's--being the first Hispanic on the Court and simultaneously only the third woman is a lot more impressive than being the first Hispanic woman); Sessions appears to be acting out some vendetta about the way his appointment was held up due to accusations of racial insensitivity; etc., etc.

I guess what's truly impressive then is the fact that even after a whole election cycle of people debating about Obama's racial background and how it would affect his presidency, we still haven't gotten past a 5-year-old's understanding of racial politics, which basically consist of white men feeling good about calling a minority person "racist" and using terms like "reverse discrimination."

Are we really that slow? I can't help but feel that if this were 100 years ago, they'd be asking her how her decisions would be affected by her "womanly moods."
posted by albrecht at 1:46 PM on July 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


100 years ago? Shit, people are saying that now.
posted by lodurr at 1:48 PM on July 14, 2009


"I am puzzled why Mr. Estrada keeps coming up. Mr. Estrada has no judicial experience. The nominee before us has considerable judicial experience."
posted by electroboy at 1:55 PM on July 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


using terms like "reverse discrimination."

Glad someone else is noticing how silly this term is too. It really frosts my shorts when NPR uses it all the time.
posted by hifiparasol at 2:04 PM on July 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, that’s funny, because I happen to have Mr. McLuhan right here
posted by blasdelf at 3:02 PM on July 14, 2009


albrecht, I totally agree, and in spite of my kind-of-defense of Graham's performance yesterday, he was awful today. Beyond his condescending tone and intentionally leading questions, he was framing his questions in ways designed to make her look far less smart than she really is (and if you were watching/listening today, you will have noticed that she is intimidatingly brilliant.)

Still, I'm clerking this summer at a legal action program primarily benefiting the Latin community, so hopefully I can shed some light on the "first Latina Justice" thing. There is an idea, growing in popularity within the culture, that "Hispanic" is no longer the preferred term, as it relates back to Spain, which was the culture of oppression in Latin history. Thus, "Latino" is preferred. Sonia Sotomayor is not "Latino," however, because it is a gendered word, hence "Latina" is correct, and while it refers most specifically to her being the first Latin Woman on the supreme court, it's really just the correct way of saying that she will be the first "Hispanic" justice.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:52 PM on July 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Glad someone else is noticing how silly this term [reverse discrimination] is too.

It's always struck me as some kind of four dimensional portmanteau term, since it (almost) contains an example of itself, and if you try to justify the term, you can get trapped inside.

Like the word "pentasyllabic".

So "reverse discrimination" (or "reverse racism") is a.... pseudoautology?
posted by rokusan at 5:04 PM on July 14, 2009


Glad someone else is noticing how silly this term [reverse discrimination] is too.

Indeed. When Graham was insulting her (and our) intelligence with this shit today I was beggin for her to either 1.) answer by giving him a lesson in white privilege, or 2.) explain that she'd happily take a world where her "wise Latina" remark was honestly offensive if it meant that the Latin community was on equal social footing with whites.

Of course, she wants to be on the Supreme Court, so she closed her eyes and thought of England instead, but it would've been awesome.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:35 PM on July 14, 2009


Leaving aside the inherent racist undertones in the phrase "reverse discrimination" ("reverse" meaning contrary to the "normal" or "natural" racism of whites subjugating everyone else), I wouldn't even argue something like no white person has ever been the victim of racial discrimination. Certainly, discrimination based on race is bad in all its forms and is something we should work hard to get beyond. But these guys are just so high on the idea of a white person being discriminated against that the mere possibility of it ever happening totally, like, invalidates all the centuries of oppression the white ruling establishment has been responsible for. It's like "all that racism stuff is in the past, except for reverse racism, like the kind you crazy minorities want to impose on us, the poor oppressed ruling class."

I just think there are so many more important things to ask a potential Supreme Court justice, like the things that Al Franken hinted at yesterday--protection of individual rights, checking the power of the executive branch, ensuring the legitimacy of the electoral process etc.--beyond just fake indignation over things at the level of "I heard at a cocktail party you said you can't get decent Puerto Rican food in D.C. Why do you hate America?"
posted by albrecht at 5:54 PM on July 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Also, it puzzles me that Erik Estrada keeps coming up, too. I mean, I liked CHiPs as much as the next guy, but c'mon.
posted by albrecht at 5:57 PM on July 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think after this awkward (and drunk?) interview in which Estrada segues from child pornography to his admiration for Ron Jeremy, he isn't likely to receive the confirmation.

Well, maybe he could clerk for Clarence Thomas.
posted by rokusan at 11:23 PM on July 14, 2009


I'm so happy Franken is finally a Senator. I listened to his radio show daily for years - he's an amazingly humble, intellectual, inquisitive person. His show was basically just him inviting on expert after expert to come on and educate him about various current events topics - mixed in with some very bad, corny jokes.

I think everyone who runs for the senate should host a daily radio show before they run, so we get to know them as a person.
posted by heathkit at 12:29 PM on July 15, 2009


My comment above where I state that Franken may have gotten favorable committee selections because of fundraising activities is probably false -- I asked my congressional scholar brother who studies such things and he says that because Franken's race was so close and contested, he pretty much had to spend all the money he could raise on his own campaign.
posted by weston at 3:19 PM on July 27, 2009


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