Wednesday, July 15, 2009


I watched several hours of the Sotomayor Supreme Court nomination yesterday and today on C-Span. What a relief! I wish I had the time to watch the whole thing that way.

Surprisingly, or maybe not, without the usual network and cable news talking heads, but just watching the proceedings as they unfolded, I was struck with not only her reasoned and thoughtful her answers were, but with the same qualities in many of the Senators.

My father was a smalltime politician, he chaired the local Democratic Party much in the old “ward heeler” style of machine politics in mid-20th century New Jersey. What I learned from him and from observing (I started putting flyers under windshields in the church parking lot and handing them out at the train station at a very early age, and by ten was already working the phones to get out the vote—my older sisters and brothers driving people to the polls) the way the people I encountered through him worked, was not only a lesson in real life politics, but also the reality that most people who get involved in politics really do want to help people.

I believe that’s still the case. Even though there are limitations to how much can be accomplished given the variables of the two-party system and the legal and political realities, and the temptations of power (my father always warned me about how corrupt Washington DC was, not politically corrupt, but sinfully, as in extramarital—and what was considered then deviant—sex etc.).

Obviously there are those who fall prey to all of the power tripping and perks or who get into politics for just those things in the first place.

But I believe a majority are at least initially inspired by idealism. Those who become truly successful at politics, FDR is a good example as president, or Teddy Kennedy as a Senator, or despite his overplaying his hand and his elected career ending sooner than he expected, Newt Gingrich as a Congressman, are I believe pretty consistently motivated by ideals and ideas about what’s best for the country or the district they represent.

I think that was a given, accepted as a truism when I was a boy, but because of the vitriolic kind of partisanship perfected by the Republican strategist Lee Atwater (and denounced by him on his deathbed) too many citizens today believe all politicians as sell outs and only in it for themselves.

I didn’t like the condescending way Lindsay Graham kept asking Sotomayor a question and then interrupting her answer, lecturing her about “temperament” etc. (like Republican Supreme Court justices Thomas and Scalia haven’t displayed “temperament”!) but I appreciated the candor of his positions and I believe he truly believes them.

Another Republican I heard some of, Sessions, was hard to take since his record is one of vitriolic partisanship and as some see it real racism—calling the NAACP “un-American” when the exact opposite is true—or a fellow white man “a disgrace to his race” for standing up against discrimination, etc. But I believe he’s mostly standing up for what he thinks is right. Or that Oklahoma Republican today who kept trying to trap Sotomayer and cast her as some kind of leftist fanatic who would kill babies and take away citizens’ guns etc. (after he hypocritically criticized others for not treating her kindly even if they disagreed with her), despite his attempts to distort her record and statements, I got the impression he really believes a lot of what he was defending.

Of course the Democratic Senators for the most part displayed much more reasonable perspectives and more civil questioning, and a lot of that can be attributed to their being in the majority and this being a Democratic president’s choice, but if you look back on the Roberts and Alito hearings, even there the Dems were not as aggressive in attacking or trying to trap those nominees as the Republicans have been these past few days.

And that I almost lament. I’d like to see Democratic Senators and Congresspeople, as well as the President and VP go on the attack more often against rightwing Republicans and rightwing Republicanism as the threat to our democracy and traditions and founding documents it truly has proven to be. But, fortunately or unfortunately, it isn’t in the natures of the mostly moderate Democrats to attack, but rather to consider and try to draw reasoned and logical conclusions. Much like Sotomayer has been doing in these hearings.


JIm said...

I remember those so called "even tempered Democrats", attempting to destroy Judge Bork and Justice Clarence Thomas. The Democrats showed little concern or appreciation of Thomas's life story. The natures of those "Moderate Democrats” was so nasty that a new term entered the English language. The term is to "Bork" or to attempt to personally attack with the intent to personally destroy the candidate for the court. The Democrats succeeded with Bork and failed with Thomas. I believe the Republicans should take the lead of Barak Obama and vote against Sotomayor based on ideology like he voted against Roberts and Alito.

Anonymous said...

Bork and Thomas didn't need any help in destroying themselves...

JIm said...

What did Bork and or Thaomas say or do to destroy themselves?

Curtis Faville said...

Appointments to the Supreme Court bench should be based on long experience in the judiciary, and a record of even-handedness with an emphasis on humanitarian values.

What disturbed me about the Sotomayor nomination was that it was made primarily for reasons of political correctness, and to purchase votes. Obama knew he would "pick" an Hispanic woman, because that was his shortlist. But shortlists shouldn't be based on affirmative action principles--certainly not for seats on the Supreme Court. How cynical does that make people who look to government for inspiration? People are picked because of their race, sex, religious background--Sotomayor is even disabled (she has diabetes, which is supposed to be a disqualification, since longevity is preferred).

Since learning a little bit more about her, in the days since the announcement, it's been revealed that she was always intensely "driven" to be a Supreme Court nominee. I know that desire plays a big part in any career, but judges are supposed to be free of that kind of ambition; judging cases shouldn't be about grandstanding and using the bench as a pulpit for self-promotion, which she apparently has a reputation for doing.

On balance, I found her manner before the committee excessively cautious, as if she was mincing every word in an attempt not to give anyone any ammunition against her. If she's so all-fired brazen and feisty, there wasn't any evidence of it there. I'd like to see a little passion, a little conviction, instead of all this backtracking and veiled apology. "Oh, I'm just a sweetie, wouldn't hurt a flea" etc. Come on, babe, no one believes that.

Too chicken to defend her pro-abortion stance? How come? Does she believe in the rights of the working-man? Well, let's hear it. How about property? How about torture?

Cut out the pussy-footing!

John M. Lally said...

We live in upside-down times.

Supreme Court: Only white job applicants can win racial discrimination lawsuits against an employer who historically favors hiring white people.

Senate: Calling somebody a racist is politically correct ONLY if a rich, powerful, southern white man says it of a less-rich, less-powerful, nonwhite woman.

JIm said...

Will Sotomayor be a typical liberal and not let facts get in the way of a Socialist wish list?
Will she rule objectively on the law suits that will surely result from the Cap and Trade and Tax legislation?

Excerpts from Science Fair

"Could we be wrong about global warming?

Could the best climate models -- the ones used to predict global warming -- all be wrong?
Maybe so, says a new study published online today in the journal Nature Geoscience. The report found that only about half of the warming that occurred during a natural climate change 55 million years ago can be explained by excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. What caused the remainder of the warming is a mystery.
"In a nutshell, theoretical models cannot explain what we observe in the geological record," says oceanographer Gerald Dickens, study co-author and professor of Earth Science at Rice University in Houston. "There appears to be something fundamentally wrong with the way temperature and carbon are linked in climate models."

John M. Lally said...

We have been obligated to reduce our greenhouse gasses since Kyoto, and we have done very little. Europe and other nations have the jump on us with cap and trade, and are only now starting to show results. If you're not happy with our jump into cap and trade, blame Clinton and Bush for their refusal to honor our obligations under Kyoto. We could have been 10 years into it by now.

JIm said...

It is a good idea to read the above report before spouting off. The point of the article is "that only about half of the warming that occurred during a natural climate change 55 million years ago can be explained by excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. What caused the remainder of the warming is a mystery." Kyoto main objective was to reduce CO2, which had little impact on the previous warming period described in the article. In other words all the Cap and Trade push is based on climate models that are flawed.

John M. Lally said...

I'm sure that if we find the other half of the cause of global warning, Republicans will want us to do nothing about that as well.

JIm said...

The main cause of warming and or cooling on earth or of its fellow planets, is the sun. It is rather difficult, even for the can do Socialists currently in power, to affect sun spots and solar flare activity.

John M. Lally said...

We can control the emission of greenhouse gasses, which act to trap the heat of the sun and cause climate change.

JIm said...


Water vapor is the earth’s most significant greenhouse gas accounting for 95% of the Earth’s greenhouse effect. The US is responsible for 25% of CO2 worldwide. A 15% reduction in US CO2 (Cap and Trade Goal) would result in a 4% reduction world wide. Total human generated greenhouse gases amount to .28% of the total of the greenhouse effect. A 15% reduction of CO2 supposedly resulting from the Cap and Trade bill would reduce greenhouse gases including water vapor of less than 1/10th of 1%. The cost of the Cap and Trade is a $1600 per family increase in taxes and a massive expansion of government bureaucracy and control. This is an insane program on its merits and recipe for economic disaster of a 1930’s proportion.

JIm said...

Who do we believe those renowned scientists Gore, Obama, Pelosi, Reid or our own eyes??

Wisconsin set to see coldest July day since 1900!!
Drudge Report
Report from North Dakota

With a summer like this, you can`t tell my Dad there’s global warming.
"I think Al Gore and his group should be out here and tell us about this global warming stuff. I think he might have a change of mind. We`ve had a cool July,” says Orlan Dreyer, Willow City Farmer

July mornings aren`t supposed to be 50 degrees, but once again today, we`re seeing temperatures well below normal. With two inches of rain on my wheat crop in the last two weeks, we have plenty of moisture to carry us for awhile.

more than 700 international scientists who dispute the theory of "manmade" global warming.

"Our own EPA says that we're in a cooling trend -- so why should we continue to support something, especially to the tune of $12.5 million, which is no longer apropos?" the lawmaker asks.

Senators Debate Global Warming Policy Despite Global Cooling Evidence
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
By Josiah Ryan, Staff Writer
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) (AP Photo)
( - Democratic senators told on Tuesday that despite a recent study that shows global temperatures have been dropping since 2001 and that projects the globe will continue to cool for the next several decades, they think the United States should continue to push forward with aggressive action to curb climate change.

John M. Lally said...

The cost of the Iraq War is $25,000.00 per family. If we have the political will to reverse climate change, the money is there.

This won't be much of an increase in government bureaucracy over what we already have with the Clean Air Act.

Actual serious scientists agree that limiting our emission of greenhouse gasses will help to combat our current situation of climate change, although there are flat-earth climate change deniers out there who call themselves scientists, too.

John M. Lally said...

By the way, Jim, you don't have to tell me about all of the "scientists" that work for the coal and oil industries.

While I was growing up, we had a large cigarette manufacturing plant in my town. We knew all about those scientists who told us that cigarettes didn't cause cancer, or emphysema, and that cigarettes weren't addictive. They told us that certain filters would reduce the risk of cancer. All of those guys out there at the plant could parrot those lines back to us by memory, always with a cigarette hanging out of their mouths. I saw several of those guys dying before my eyes.

So when you report science back to me, the first question is always, "Who's paying these guys?"

JIm said...

Who do we believe, those renowned scientists Gore, Obama, Pelosi, Reid or our own eyes??

Recent observations (2009) measurements and events regarding climate

Wisconsin set to see coldest July day since 1900!!-Report from North Dakota Farmer With a summer like this, you can`t tell my Dad there’s global warming. " July mornings aren`t supposed to be 50 degrees, but once again today, we`re seeing temperatures well below normal., Cool weather dampens US June retail sales.. coldest in 27 years-"Our own EPA says that we're in a cooling trend -Livingston of the National Solar Observatory offers this insight During a period from 1645 to 1715 the Sun entered an extended period of low activity known as the Maunder Minimum. For a time equivalent to several sunspot cycles the Sun displayed few sunspots. Models of the Sun's irradiance suggest that the solar energy input to the Earth decreased during that epoch, and that this lull in solar activity may explain the low temperatures recorded in Europe during the Little Ice Age."Livingston goes on to write that "A simple linear extrapolation of our magnetic data suggests that sunspots might largely vanish by 2015."And that in turn might produce a round of cooling that would be awfully embarrassing for all the people who supported that cap-and-trade bill, which amounts to a huge energy tax,- Polar 5 expedition finds sea ice twice as thick as expected

PS Any supposed savings from Iraq has long since disappeared under Obamanomics of tax and spend and spend to the tune of 1.8 trillion deficit in his first year. That is an extroidinary beginning for even a socialist.

John M. Lally said...

JIm said...

Sostomayor the right wing jurist in the model of Scalia, Thomas and Bork.

Does anyone believe her testimony, that she is an originalists who will dispense justice blindly and with no "empathy" for special groups. Apparently a Liberal/Progressive/Socialist/Internationalist view of American law is not believed to be saleable to the American public. Instead she offered a camouflaged testimony to divert attention from her racist speeches, Firemen ruling and Liberal leanings. It was humorous to watch the Democrats be complicit in the fraud.