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May 31, 2009

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The funny thing is, by way of Julian they're proving Sotomayor's comment to be right. They don't, can't and won't understand any perspective but their own.

Ed whats-his-face, the guy who used to be Scalia's clerk, was on NPR the other day to dis Sotomayor. You could have filled a bucket with the contempt dripping from his voice when he insisted Sotomayor would "indulge" her desire to make policy. Now, conservative judges (including his beloved Scalia) interpret the Constitution the way they like all the time; but they're entitled to. How dare Sotomayor get above her station.

Look, it's not racist (...) to oppose affirmative action

I'm glad we have established that.

While I think she should be confirmed, I did love this blog title:

“First President in US History to Have Voted to Filibuster a Supreme Court Nominee Now Hopes for Clean Process”
http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2009/05/first-president-in-us-history-to-have-voted-to-filibuster-a-supreme-court-nominee-now-hopes-for-clea.html

A fantasy world in which your own preconceptions are always confirmed is a pretty sorry substitute for the actual world around us, in all its unexpected richness. But it's even worse when your own preconceptions are so very, very ugly.

But that's hardly news to the Republican Party -- you've just described conservatism since at least the time of Hoover.

I guess the thing I take away from hilzoy's post is how gratuitous all of this is. Mathematically, Sotomayor's ascension is a lock. It's a battle the Republican Party cannot win, so why on Earth are they fighting it?

Granted, opposing a Latina increases the party's cred with whatever portion of its base is racist and misogynist--but at the cost of alienating, for at least one or two election cycles, women and Latinos. It's suicide.

I suppose I could understand their decision as a matter of principle, if the GOP could articulate a principle. Instead, it's transparent that they oppose her on the grand Kantian imperative that a Democrat picked her.

"epistemic cocoon" -- I like that concept a lot

What is (not) astonishing is the fact that conservatism is so devoid of any vestige of intellectualism that all they can do is call Sotomayor names. There is no observation of facts or events. There is no research. We heard of reports that conservative groups were scouring likely nominees from the moment (or even before) Souter announced his retirement. But we have seen NOTHING substantive in critique of this nominee. Instead all we have is empty name calling.

so why on Earth are they fighting it?

to please the base and keep them donating. to give people like Gingrich and Tancredo and Limbaugh and Liddy more attention.

and when election time comes around, the pols will point to those people and say "look, they aren't part of the official GOP; they don't speak for the party. the GOP loves Latinos !"

Actually, I guess one explanation comes to mind: the Republican Party is strapped for money and needs to engage in this sort of nonsense to fire up the base in order to get donations. I'm not sure that it's true, but it would at least make the party's behavior somewhat rational under the circumstances.

But otherwise, this is a strategic misstep of roughly the same magnitude as John McCain suspending his campaign to fix the financial meltdown.

Can a party that's apparently hell-bent on winning fewer and fewer states and Congressional district by larger and larger margins completely disappear, like a psephological ouroboros?

Here are some great books, which have assisted me in understanding the modern-day U.S. conservatives/right-wingers. ;-)

White Protestant Nation: The Rise of the American Conservative Movement by Allan J. Lichtman

The Rise and Fall of Anglo-America: The Decline of Dominant Ethnicity in the United States by Phillip Kaufmann

Suburban Warriors: The Origins of the New American Right by Lisa McGirr

Empire's Workshop: Latin America, the United States, and the Rise of the New Imperialism by Greg Grandin

Conservative Protestant Politics by Steve Bruce

American Evangelicals and the U.S. Military 1942-1993 by Anne C. Loveland

Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race by Jacobson, Matthew Frye

"If nothing else works, try thinking about kerning."

Now you're just reverting to type.

and more on the death-spiral of movement conservatives:

an abortion provider in kansas has just been shot to death at his church.

http://www.kansas.com/news/breaking/story/833730.html

murder for the purpose of intimidation, also known as terrorism.

and like the majority of terror attacks in america, it will probably turn out to have been committed by a white male conservative.

“First President in US History to Have Voted to Filibuster a Supreme Court Nominee Now Hopes for Clean Process”

Of course, very few Presidents in US history had prior service in the Senate, so the headline is a bit sensational. And any President has the right to hope :)

Meanwhile, we await a headline like "GOP Senators Flip-Flop on Filibustering Judges", which would be equally sensational and equally true.

Until the Senate abolishes the filibuster in general, votes on lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court are probably where the filibuster is most justified. Whether it's politically smart is a different matter. Any Senator who "votes to filibuster" a nominee runs a political risk. He might lose his seat at the next election, or he might get elected President :)

--TP

Meanwhile, we await a headline like "GOP Senators Flip-Flop on Filibustering Judges", which would be equally sensational and equally true.

Given the respectfulness with which new outlets carried Orrin Hatch's expressions of outrage that Senate Democrats were hindering the nominations of some of Dubya's judicial nominees without any reference to history -- that is to say Orrin Hatch's history, as in when as chair of the Judiciary committee he instituted an average delay for judicial nominees of something like a year toward the end of Clinton's term, leaving huge numbers of spots open for Dubya to fill -- I wouldn't hold your breath, though of course I'd welcome any petard-hoisting that does occur.

But yeah, with regard to the actual post, I'm left pretty much mystified. For the Republicans' actual, logical goals (which I take to be getting their faces on TV, raising funds, and convincing the base that they're still putting up a fight) attacking Sotomayor only on the issues, or on a distortion of the issues, would quite suffice. Instead they repeatedly slur her ethnicity and make overtly racial and sexist appeals, which would be distasteful even if all the evidence didn't indicate that it's also ineffective. Maybe, as an earlier thread title had it, they just can't help themselves?

The NYT had an article about her decade+ involvement with a Latino civil rights group (some reasonably argue her service as a Manhatan ADA influences her judging; she served on this group longer and later), which dealt with various issues including voting rights and the death penalty. Juan Gonzalez of Democracy Now! noted her involvement there too.

I listened to Obama's remarks introducing her and her extended remarks afterwards. I don't recall there being any method of it. Seems as relevent as where she went to high school. The fact she is being called a "racist" by the various people and a single phrase of an eight page speech used to promote the idea might suggest why.

[BTW, the Latina voice speech has an interesting background, it being for a lecture in honor of a judge who promoted diversity in judging.]

In fact, I have read some concerned she is too conservative, does not have any civil rights experience, just prosecutorial experience.

The criticism skewers the debate, making Obama and others tone down "controversial" aspects of her background and opinions that are actually positives.

"As anyone who knows me can attest, I don't have what you'd call a strong 'Hispanic' identity."

That's an interesting sentence. When I substitute 'Black' or 'White' in it ... I can only the imagine people saying it would look really weird. Yglesias doesn't look weird saying it, of course.

I don't know what it means. I don't really have any conclusions to draw about it, but I wish I had, which is maybe why I bring it up :)

Has Lord Chain-Eye commented on Sotomayor yet?
His non-lesbian* daughter seems to have (along the line of "those troubling quotes") but I can't find aynthing be His Dickship yet.

* =Liz. Would be interesting hear what his other daughter has to say.

"When I substitute 'Black' or 'White' in it ... I can only the imagine people saying it would look really weird."

As it happens, I don't have a strong sense of "black" or "white" identity. I do have mild senses of "white" and "Jewish" and "male" identities (among others, mostly because other people push them on me. I have a fairly strong sense of "science fiction person," and "internet person" identity (among others). Is that weird?

I also have something of a sense of "weird" identity. How weird is that?

I also have something of a sense of "weird" identity. How weird is that?

Obviously, it's somewhat weird. If you had a strong sense of a weird identity, then it would be strongly weird.

Now, if you had a weird sense of a weird identity ...

"Now you're just reverting to type."

As always, Gary is a font of wisdom.

I'm extra bold, and upright, but occasionally oblique. And I believe strongly in bicamerality.

Can a party that's apparently hell-bent on winning fewer and fewer states and Congressional district by larger and larger margins completely disappear...?

Unfortunately they won't go below the 20-something-percent crazification factor. As the party becomes smaller and more powerless, I fear its base will become angrier and angrier, leading to more violence like today's.

Qualifications like time at Princeton, Yale Law, and on the Circuit Court that work well for guys with Italian names suddenly don’t work if you have a Spanish name.

This is kind of poignant from my point of view, and I would even go so far as to say I'm bemused by the fact that Yglesias makes this comment without even a wink or a nod in the direction of the history of "Italian names" in this country.

I've probably told this story before, even here, but it's relevant to a number of topics of the day, so here goes again.

After my dad died, we found among his papers a letter of recommendation from a prior employer to the fire department of my town, where he was applying for a job. The letter said something like this:

"Even though his people are Italian, ____ is a very hard worker."

I wanted to double-check, but yes, a quick google search shows Scalia as the first "Italian name" on the Supreme Court, and that appointment came as recently as 1986. So it's not like the "Italian names" have been the ones Yglesias could use in that connection for very long.

*****

Meanwhile, the discussion of the Ricci case brings back a lot of memories too. My dad was a firefighter for most of his adult life, and he eventually rose to the rank of captain. He never wanted to be chief; we're "learning disabled about politics" in my family, as a friend put it, and none of us cares much for being the boss. But he always struggled with the written tests, and whatever they're asking now, 40 years ago it wasn't "how many 30-feet lengths to span 90 feet of distance" that he struggled with, it was more like calculating the water pressure from a nozzle of a certain size.

I don't have any point to make about Ricci, just that issues of on the ground competence vs math-test competence have been around for a long time.

*****

Finally -- catching up on loose ends because I've been enjoying a college graduation this weekend: I counted 15 summa cum laudes out of a class of 472. (Ivy covered walls; not Princeton but a small and well-regarded liberal arts college.) That's a tad over 3%. Quite an accomplishment, in my opinion.

Until the Senate abolishes the filibuster in general, votes on lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court are probably where the filibuster is most justified.

Well, then you can hardly blame Republicans for ginning up opposition to a nominee using flagrant lies and naked racism. Just like Obama did when he voted against cloture. Or whatever false equivalence we're supposed to swallow this time.

Finally -- catching up on loose ends because I've been enjoying a college graduation this weekend: I counted 15 summa cum laudes out of a class of 472.

Yes, but how many of them got to conduct a seminar for themselves, giving themselves 88 credit hours of "A"? Or whatever the heck it was Stuart Taylor was implying.

mds, my snark-fu must be waning, because I didn't initially spot yours. You might want to take pity on me and on any similarly weak creatures and be less understated.

Sorry about that, Warren Terra. I often try to use tags to indicate snark, but I keep forgetting to close them, and then the whole comment thread becomes an exercise in irony until someone types </sarcasm>.

Just a small point, but I suspect that most Republicans don't suffer from organic brain illnesses such as schizophrenia or bi-polar, neurological variations such as autism-spectrum or ADHD, all of which causes some of us to get called "crazy" from time to time. I suspect most Republicans simply choose not to examine the failures of their flagship policies. Avoiding intellectual work and moral discomfort may indicate a moral failing and predict a political failing, but it does not make you "crazy".

I have no desire to see the moral failures of the extreme right conflated with the all too real pains of mental illness.

"Just a small point, but I suspect that most Republicans don't suffer from organic brain illnesses "

IMO what the Republicans under consideration suffer from is a massive case of cognitive dissonance.

It wasn't supposed to turn out this way for them. They're having a hard time getting their heads around it.

"I have no desire to see the moral failures of the extreme right conflated with the all too real pains of mental illness."

Posted by: John Spragge | June 01, 2009 at 12:21 AM

Amen to that.

The trouble is that the Republicans have no leadership. Gingrich, Tancredo and Limbaugh have no incentive to try to make their party more electable.

Judge Sotomayor seems like as good a pick as the right could hope for from Obama, and she may well be as big a surprise to "her side" as Souter was to his.

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