Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston



Friday, July 31, 2009

Sean and Glenn and Lou--Our Very Own National Idiots

There's an endless supply of crazies out there. And many of them have their own conservative radio talk and teevee shows.

I can't decide who's the wackiest of the three in the post title above.


Yes I Can.

It's Beck, hands down. No one can beat Beck in the deranged trou de cul category.

Hannity is just plain dumb, and Lou is in desperate need of a ratings boost, hence his foray into Crazy Town.

I'll let Jon Stewart explain it all. (For some reason I can't get the imbed code to work.)

And now this next bit of information on how certain regions of this country are influenced by idiots like Hannity, Beck, and Dobbs. This is truly embarrassing:

Only 42 percent of Republican respondents in a Research 2000 survey, conducted for the liberal website Daily Kos, said they thought Obama was a natural born citizen; 28 percent said they did not believe Obama was born in the United States; 30 percent said they were not sure.

The responses, which were gathered after several prominent conservative media personalities fed suspicion that Obama was unconstitutionally holding office, show the extent to which the conspiracy has taken hold in the GOP.
That only a plurality of Republicans were willing to acknowledge the president was born in America is nothing short of astounding, considering the preponderance of evidence that confirms his Hawaiian birth.

The conspiracy has a regional flavor. Overall, even including Democrats and independents, only 47 percent of respondents in the South said they believed Obama was born in America, with 23 percent saying he was not and 30 percent saying they were unsure. In the Northeast and Midwest, the percentage of respondents who believe Obama was born in the U.S. was over 90 percent.

Ninety-three percent of Democrats say the president was born in the United States, as do 83 percent of independents.

The Research 2000 findings were pulled together from a survey of 2,400 adults.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

MYTH vs. FACT: Advance Planning Consultations in HR 3200

Congressman Earl Blumenauer, D-OR, refutes the lies and misrepresentations being put forth by the mischievous rightwingers.

Myth vs. Fact: Advance Planning Consultations in H.R. 3200

Few areas are more vital for honest discussion and careful consideration than end-of-life care
for America’s seniors. Unfortunately, families often do not know their loved ones’ preferences
for end of life care and are not confronted with these difficult decisions until an emergency
arises. This leaves spouses, sons, daughters and grandchildren unprepared; as a result
families struggle to make decisions in the midst of turmoil.

The House health care legislation includes a provision (Sec. 1233) that provides seniors with
better care as they grapple with these hard questions. This provision extends Medicare
coverage to cover the cost of patients voluntarily speaking with their doctors about their values
and preferences regarding end-of-life care. These are deeply personal decisions that take
thoughtful consideration, and it is only appropriate that doctors be compensated for their time.

Myth: Patients will be forced to have this consultation once every five years.

Fact: Advance planning consultations are not mandatory; this benefit is completelyvoluntary. The provision merely provides coverage under Medicare to have a conversationonce every five years if – and only if – a patient wants to make his or her wishes known to adoctor. If desired, patients may have consultations more frequently if they are chronically ill orif their health status changes.

Myth: Patients will be forced to sign an advance care directive (or living will).

Fact: There is no mandate in the bill to complete an advance care directive or livingwill. If a patient chooses to complete an advance directive or order for life sustainingtreatment, these documents will help articulate a full range of treatment preferences, from fulland aggressive treatment to limited, comfort care only. Patients that choose to have thesedocuments and can customize them so that their wishes are appropriately reflected.

Myth: Patients will have to see a health care professional chosen by the government.

Fact: There are no government-chosen professionals involved. The legislation simplyallows Medicare to pay for a conversation between patient and their doctors if patients wish totalk with their doctor about end of life care preferences.

Provision Endorsed By: AARP, American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine,
American College of Physicians, American Hospice Foundation, Center to Advance Palliative Care,Consumers Union, Gundersen Lutheran Health System, Hospice and Palliative Nursing Association,Medicare Rights Center, National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization,
National Palliative Care Research Center, Providence Health and Services,
and Supportive Care Coalition.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

CONSPIRACY NUTS OF THE RIGHT: Obama's Health Plan Wants to Kill Seniors


This is what says about the insane claim by wingnuts that President Obama wants to kill our senior citizens.

And here's the money quote by PolitiFact:

"For our ruling on this one, there's really no gray area here. McCaughey incorrectly states that the bill would require Medicare patients to have these counseling sessions and she is suggesting that the government is somehow trying to interfere with a very personal decision. And her claim that the sessions would "tell [seniors] how to end their life sooner" is an outright distortion. Rather, the sessions are an option for elderly patients who want to learn more about living wills, health care proxies and other forms of end-of-life planning. McCaughey isn't just wrong, she's spreading a ridiculous falsehood. That's a Pants on Fire."

Why do these people lie about this? Remember, these are the people who are standing in the way of health care reform, and apparently the only way they know to win an argument is to spread stupid, easily dismissed lies. They must truly believe their followers [yes, Rush Limbaugh's audience] are dumb asses. Gasbag Limbaugh repeated this lie, as did Fred Thompson.

Are they having a stupid contest in GOP radio talk land???


Now that Sarah Palin is a private citizen, you'd think we'd be rid of nonsensical crazytalk. No. We still have the the conspiracy nuts of the Right out there saying things we'd expect to hear from unfortunates who have to deal with mental disorders. The newest of these irrational rants is that the Obama Administration's health care plan will systematically kill seniors.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Right Wingers - Government Wants to Kill Old People - Really?

The right wing of American politics, the wing of the Republican party that is in bed with health care lobbyists is desperate to defeat health care. They are so desperate they are pulling out all the stops. What are they doing now you may ask? They are trying to promote the idea that the government is going to have a government worker visit every senior at home and inquire of them how they want to die. I'm not making this up. President Obama attended a town hall meeting with AARP members and the question came up.

Other Republicans are taking to the floor of the House of Representatives and telling Americans that if the country adopts the Democratic health care plan, seniors all across America will be put to death by their government because they cost too much. It's all over right-wing talk radio too, including my favorite (not) Rush Limbaugh.

This is really sick, that the right wingers and the insurance lobby has to go to this extent to scare people into thinking that a public option will include provisions to kill old people.

Republicans and the health insurance lobby will stop at nothing to stop meaningful health care reform. Polls have shown though that 72% of Americans want a public option, 50% of Republicans want a public option. I hope when Congress heads home for their summer break, they get an earful from their constituents and go back to Washington and pass a bill with a strong public option and coverage for all Americans.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Eugene Robinson, as usual, nails it

Another take on the ongoing controversy of The Professor, The Policeman, and the President: (And, I hope, the last). I believe Eugene Robinson's take on the power dynamics that were in place in this confrontation is correct.
A friend noted that even the Chief of Police and the mayor of Cambridge realized there was an overreaction to the incident on the part of Sgt. Crowley--and how do we know this? All. Charges. Were. Dropped:
"In a joint statement, Cambridge and the police department said they made the recommendation to the Middlesex County district attorney and the district attorney's office "has agreed to enter a nolle prosequi in this matter," meaning that it will not be pursued."

Also, apparently Sgt. Crowley misremembered what the woman who called in the report of the alleged break-in said:

"Police in Cambridge, Massachusetts, released the 911 phone call Monday. In the call, Lucia Whalen reports seeing "two larger men, one looked kind of Hispanic, but I'm not really sure, and the other one entered, and I didn't see what he looked like at all."

"I just saw it from a distance, and this older woman was worried, thinking somebody's breaking in someone's house and they've been barging in," Whalen says. "She interrupted me, and that's when I noticed. Otherwise, I probably wouldn't have noticed it at all, to be honest with you. So I was just calling because she was a concerned neighbor, I guess." Listen to the entire 911 call »
Attorney Wendy Murphy, who represents Whalen, also categorically rejected part of the police report that said Whalen talked with Sgt. James Crowley, the arresting officer, at the scene.

"Let me be clear: She never had a conversation with Sgt. Crowley at the scene," Murphy told CNN by phone. "And she never said to any police officer or to anybody 'two black men.' She never used the word 'black.' Period."

Robinson's entire column is here.

But for the sake of argument, let's assume that Crowley's version of the incident is true -- that Gates, from the outset, was accusatory, aggressive and even obnoxious, addressing the officer with an air of highhanded superiority. Let's assume he really recited the Big Cheese mantra: "You have no idea who you're messing with."

I lived in Cambridge for a year, and I can attest that meeting a famous Harvard professor who happens to be arrogant is like meeting a famous basketball player who happens to be tall. It's not exactly a surprise. Crowley wouldn't have lasted a week on the force, much less made sergeant, if he had tried to arrest every member of the Harvard community who treated him as if he belonged to an inferior species. Yet instead of walking away, Crowley arrested Gates as he stepped onto the front porch of his own house.

Apparently, there was something about the power relationship involved -- uppity, jet-setting black professor vs. regular-guy, working-class white cop -- that Crowley couldn't abide. Judging by the overheated commentary that followed, that same something, whatever it might be, also makes conservatives forget that they believe in individual rights and oppose intrusive state power.

There was a similar case of collective amnesia at the Sotomayor hearings. Republican senators, faced with a judge who follows precedent and eschews making new law from the bench, forgot that this is the judicial philosophy they advocate. The odd and inappropriate line of questioning by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) about Sotomayor's temperament was widely seen as sexist, and indeed it was. But I suspect the racial or ethnic power equation was also a factor -- the idea of a sharp-tongued "wise Latina" making nervous attorneys, some of them white male attorneys, fumble and squirm.

Is a man of Gates's station entitled to puff himself up and remind a police officer that he's dealing with someone who has juice? Is a woman of Sotomayor's accomplishment entitled to humiliate a lawyer who came to court unprepared? No more and no less entitled, surely, than all the Big Cheeses who came before them.

Yet Gates's fit of pique somehow became cause for arrest. I can't prove that if the Big Cheese in question had been a famous, brilliant Harvard professor who happened to be white -- say, presidential adviser Larry Summers, who's on leave from the university -- the outcome would have been different. I'd put money on it, though. Anybody wanna bet?

Sunday, July 26, 2009


After Barack Obama said Cambridge cops "stupidly" arrested Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates on the front porch of his own home, the police said they "deeply resent the implication" anyone would think they're racists.

Maybe [someone should] clue this Cambridge cop in.

At around noon today, the same time Sgt. Dennis O'Connor, president of the Cambridge Police Superior Officers Association, gave his press conference trying to push back against perceptions that the Cambridge cops aren't exactly racially enlightened, Harvard student Seth Bannon spotted this cop pull up to a deli on Massachussetts Ave. in what appears to be his personal SUV with a hilarious license plate: WHY-TEE.

We asked Bannon, who first Twittered the picture, to tell us more:

I was eating breakfast at the Gourmet Express Market and Deli (1868 Mass Ave, Cambridge), when around NOON the black SUV pictured backed into that space and parked illegally. The police officer pictured exited the SUV, walked into the Deli, ordered a sub, got back into the SUV, and drove off. I took the picture as the officer was getting back into the SUV.
I'm not nearly as disturbed by the (entirely unnecessary) illegal parking job as I am by the utter crudeness of the plates, especially in the aftermath of the Gates debacle.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


if it were, most Americans would have a police record.

Being obnoxious isn’t a crime.

Maureen Dowd
July 25, 2009

As we reflect on the arc of civil rights dramas from Jim Crow to Jim Crowley, my friend John Timoney, the police chief of Miami, observes: “There’s a fine line between disorderly conduct and freedom of speech. It can get tough out there, but I tell my officers, ‘Don’t make matters worse by throwing handcuffs on someone. Bite your tongue and just leave.’ ”

As the daughter of a police detective, I always prefer to side with the police. But this time, I’m struggling.

No matter how odd or confrontational Henry Louis Gates Jr. was that afternoon, he should not have been arrested once Sergeant Crowley ascertained that the Harvard professor was in his own home.

President Obama was right the first time, that the encounter had a stupid ending, and the second time, that both Gates and Crowley overreacted. His soothing assessment that two good people got snared in a bad moment seems on target.

It escalated into a clash of egos — the hard-working white cop vs. the globe-trotting black scholar, the town vs. the gown, the Lowell Police Academy vs. the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Crowley told a Boston sports station that Gates “seemed very peculiar — even more so now that I know how educated he is.”

Gates told his daughter Elizabeth in The Daily Beast: “He should have gotten out of there and said, ‘I’m sorry, sir, good luck. Loved your PBS series — check with you later!’ ”

Gates told me Crowley was so “gruff” and unsolicitous “the hair on my neck stood up.” Crowley says Gates acted “put off” and “agitated.” But the strong guy with the gun has more control than the weak guy with the cane. An officer who teaches racial sensitivity should not have latched on to a technicality about neighbors — who seemed to be outnumbered by cops — getting “alarmed” by Gates’s “outburst.”

From Shakespeare to Hitchcock, mistaken identity makes for a powerful narrative.

A police officer who’s proud of his reputation for getting along with black officers, and for teaching cadets to avoid racial profiling, feels maligned to be cast as a racist white Boston cop.

A famous professor who studies identity and summers in Martha’s Vineyard feels maligned to be cast as a black burglar with backpack and crowbar.

Race, class and testosterone will always be a combustible brew. Our first African-American president will try to make the peace with Gates (who supported Hillary) and Crowley (whose father voted for Obama).

I tracked down Gates by phone at J.F.K. on Friday after he had talked to the president and agreed to go to the White House for a symbolic beer with the man he labeled “a rogue policeman.” Gates, coughing from a cold he picked up in China, said he wondered if perhaps “fate and history chose me for this event.” He was pleased with the thousands of empathetic e-mail notes he’s getting, material for a PBS documentary on racial profiling.

He says he’s ready for “marriage counseling” from the “Solomon” in the Oval, who wrote in his memoir that the police pulled him over “for no apparent reason.” “If Sgt. Crowley and the president and I meet, it’s clearly not going to be like Judge Joe Brown, OK? ‘You tell your side, you tell your side.’ We have to agree to disagree. But I would be surprised if somebody didn’t say, ‘I’m sorry you were arrested.’ ”

How can they ever reconcile their accounts? Crowley says he asked Gates to come outside and the professor replied, “Ya, I’ll speak with your mama outside.” Gates wryly suggests Crowley got the line from watching “Good Times” as a child.

“Does it sound logical that I would talk about the mother of a big white guy with a gun?” he asked. “I’m 5-7 and 150 pounds. I don’t walk on ice, much less (expletive) with some cop in my kitchen. I don’t want another hip replacement.”

I asked how he felt when he learned that Crowley was the one who gave mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to Reggie Lewis, the black Celtics basketball star, in a vain attempt to save his life after a heart attack in 1993. He replied: “I don’t stereotype. I never saw him as the head of the Ku Klux Klan. Maybe he was just having a bad day.”

And Gates says that if anyone thinks he’s a fiery black militant, they’ve got the wrong guy, considering he married a white woman, has mixed-race daughters and has white blood himself.

Mike Barnicle warns that the next time Gates needs 911, he should call the Harvard faculty lounge instead. But Gates ripostes, “I have a feeling the Cambridge police will be especially attentive to my needs.” He said that, as he was packing for China, he got a call from the Cambridge police soliciting a donation and told them to try back in two weeks.

“I haven’t quite decided,” he said between coughs, “if I’m up to that right now.”

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Between the "Birthers" who are trying to keep alive the lie that President Obama is not a legitimate president because, they claim, he was born in Kenya or Indonesia and certain members of the GOP who pass around disgusting racist emails, I can't keep up with who are the nuttier of the two groups.

The election of America's first bi-racial president was historic, for sure, but it seems to have unleashed a brand of hatred, paranoia, and racism that I have not seen in my lifetime.

No one disputes an American citizen's right to criticize his or her president on policies, but what about the sickos of the GOP who continue to spread the lie that Mr. Obama's citizenship is suspect? Who are the sickos who think it's "funny" to pass emails around that dipict the president in the worst stereotypical, racially loaded cartoons and photoshopped images? Apes, witch doctors, watermelons on the front lawn of the White House--all of these images, and worse, have been flying through cyberspace to the delight and hilarity of people who believe they are patriotic Americans.

I'll bet they pat themselves on their backs daily, congratulating each other on their allegience to the ideals of the Declaration of Independence and the foundation of our laws as set out in our Constitution. Then when they receive a vomit-inducing cartoon or photoshopped image of Mr. Obama or his wife in a dehumanized and racially insulting image, they snicker up their sleeves, because, after all, it's the way real "Merkins" think of people with dark skin, isn't it?

To those who may believe "it's just a joke" to continue to infect this country with images that racially ridicule and demean the president, or any minority, I have news for you:

You are the joke. And you are a dying breed. Ask most young people today.

Or better yet, read the statistics on the changing population in this country. Read about the people of color and bi-racial Americans who will, in the not-to-distant future, be the majority of America's population.

Then think about your feelings when the nutjobs in that population start passing around stupid and inflammatory cartoons and photoshopped images of pasty old white people. Will it be "just a joke" when it happens to you?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

HENRY LOUIS GATES--Returning to his home in Cambridge, Mass., while being black

This never should have happened. But, because we are most definitely NOT post-racial, it did.

Associated Press Writer –
Tue Jul 21, 7:52 pm ET

BOSTON – Prosecutors dropped a disorderly conduct charge Tuesday against prominent black scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr., who was arrested after forcing his way into his own house in what he and other blacks say was an outrageous but all-too-common example of how police treat them.

The city of Cambridge called the arrest "regrettable and unfortunate," and police and Gates agreed that dropping the charge was a just resolution — though not one that quelled the anger of one of America's top academics.

"I'm outraged," Gates said in extensive comments made to, a Web site he oversees. "I can't believe that an individual policeman on the Cambridge police force would treat any African-American male this way, and I am astonished that this happened to me; and more importantly I'm astonished that it could happen to any citizen of the United States, no matter what their race.

"There are 1 million black men in the prison system, and on Thursday I became one of them," he said. "I would sooner have believed the sky was going to fall from the heavens than I would have believed this could happen to me. It shouldn't have happened to me, and it shouldn't happen to anyone."

Yvonne Abraham, writing in today's Boston Globe, nails it:

Conduct unbecoming
By Yvonne Abraham
July 22, 2009

Imagine you spent most of the day flying home from China. You’re exhausted and probably irritable. You’re at your Cambridge house, trying to open your front door, but it won’t budge. The thing needs a shoulder put to it. So you ask the guy who drove you home from the airport - a middle-aged guy like you, a guy in a suit and tie - to help you. He kindly obliges.

A woman is walking by. She sees you on the porch, a 58-year-old African-American man with a gray beard and glasses and cane, your striped polo shirt tucked neatly into your pants. Even though you are Henry Louis Gates Jr., one of the most prominent academics in the country, and possibly Harvard’s most famous face, she does not recognize you, even though she works for

Harvard Magazine, even though her office is right down the street.

What she sees are a couple of guys trying to break into a house. She calls the police.

By this time, you are on the phone in your own entry hall, asking Harvard’s property managers to come and fix your front door. When you see the police officer on your porch, you assume it’s someone arriving to help you. When he sees you at ease, chatting on a cordless phone, does the Cambridge police officer conclude things look OK? Does he take note of the fact that you make no attempt to run, as a robber might? Does he say anything like this? “We got a call, sir. We’re just making sure everything’s OK. Have a lovely day, sir.’’

Most certainly not. Instead, he goes into your home with his radio and his gun in the middle of the day and acts as if he’s dealing with some perp in a back alley at 3 a.m. He wants your identification. The police officer says you get upset right away, yelling, “Is this because I am a black man in America?’’

The way you remember it, you hand over your ID, and not until he insists you go outside with him do you get upset and accuse him of treating you this way because you are black.
You’ve given him your driver’s license. You’ve given him your Harvard ID. Instead of leaving, he has called the campus police.

What would you do in Gates’s situation? Would you stand for this kind of treatment, in your own home, by a police officer who by now clearly has no right to be there? Most people might not be bold enough to say the things Gates was accused of. (Alas, the classic “I’ll speak with your mama outside’’ attributed to him in the police report was never uttered, his attorney says). But any normal person would have trouble keeping his cool. So Gates was arrested for disorderly conduct.

The whole thing became huge news, because this immensely famous expert on race was charging racism.

Yesterday, trying to avert a public relations disaster over the dunderheaded moves by Cambridge police, the Middlesex district attorney announced the charges would be dropped. A wise move, but too late to stop the damage. Gates, whose great success has allowed him to transcend the racial divide, is now one very high-profile argument for its persistence.

And this:

Carol Rose, writing about the arrest of Henry Louis Gates, says we're a long way from a post-racial society and that:

A review of the police report suggests that the police officer arrested Gates not because he mistook Gates for a robber but because Gates condemned the behavior of the officer as racist. His offending remark reportedly was, “This is what happens to black men in America.’’
That’s not disorderly conduct; that’s speaking truth to power - which still isn’t a crime in America.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


MSNBC political analyst, Pat Buchanan, recently appeared on the Rachel Maddow show and proceeded to make claims about Judge Sotomayor and affirmative action that were simply not true. In addition to that, he angrily asserted that only white men built this country, and only white men served in its wars.

Why this angry white bigot continues to show up on the teevee is still a mystery to me. In this video, Rachel Maddow takes each of Pat Buchanan's irresponisble and inaccurate claims and unconditionally refutes them.

Maddow even reveals a memo Buchanan wrote to President Nixon in which he urges Mr. Nixon to fill a Supreme Court vacancy with a white Catholic--in other words, as you will see, Buchanan suggests that Nixon use affirmative action in nominating someone to fill a vacant seat on the Court.

(Old bigots never die, they just scream loudly when caught in lies and misrepresentations.)

On another note. It appears that certain groups on the right are having a complete mental breakdown, as reported by this conservative blogger.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


We need to spread this video around to expose this GOP woman and her supporters advocating assassination because she and the people who applaud her don't like how the American people voted in a fair and free election last November.

These people are incensed because the free elections held last November do not reflect their political philosophy. They didn't win at the ballot box, and now they advocate armed insurrection to change the results and negate the will of the American people.

If I remember correctly, this type of incitement is called sedition, is it not?

sedition - an illegal action inciting resistance to lawful authority and tending to cause the disruption or overthrow of the government

Steven D. over at Booman Tribune asks the question:

"You tell me: is this a direct threat of assassination made against Democratic elected officials (including, but not limited to, President Obama), or not?"


This woman is advocating armed insurrection and rebellion because she and her followers don't agree with the policies of a freely elected Congress and President of the United States.

This is the way third-world countries change their governments, not countries that follow the rule of law.

She is a meance and threat to American Democracy. I hope the FBI pays this hysterical nutcase a visit.

And soon.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sotomayor Hearings Continue

On its official witness list, the Senate Judiciary Committee lists Ricci as Director of Fire Services, ConnectiCOSH (Connecticut Council on Occupational Safety and Health). And that's understandable--he boasts as much on his website.

The problem, unfortunately, is that there is no such position.
Seeking to distance themselves from Ricci, ConnectiCOSH has sent a letter to Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) asking him to correct the record. "Mr. Ricci has posted on his website that he is the "Director of Fire Services for ConnectiCOSH" but there is no such position with ConnectiCOSH," writes ConnectiCOSH Co-Chair Steve Schrag.

Other than Ricci, Judge Sotomayor has decided 96 race-related cases while on the court of appeals.

Of the 96 cases, Judge Sotomayor and the panel rejected the claim of discrimination roughly 78 times and agreed with the claim of discrimination 10 times; the remaining 8 involved other kinds of claims or dispositions. Of the 10 cases favoring claims of discrimination, 9 were unanimous. (Many, by the way, were procedural victories rather than judgments that discrimination had occurred.) Of those 9, in 7, the unanimous panel included at least one Republican-appointed judge. In the one divided panel opinion, the dissent’s point dealt only with the technical question of whether the criminal defendant in that case had forfeited his challenge to the jury selection in his case. So Judge Sotomayor rejected discrimination-related claims by a margin of roughly 8 to 1.

Of the roughly 75 panel opinions rejecting claims of discrimination, Judge Sotomayor dissented 2 times. In Neilson v. Colgate-Palmolive Co., 199 F.3d 642 (1999), she dissented from the affirmance of the district court’s order appointing a guardian for the plaintiff, an issue unrelated to race. In Gant v. Wallingford Bd. of Educ., 195 F.3d 134 (1999), she would have allowed a black kindergartner to proceed with the claim that he was discriminated against in a school transfer. A third dissent did not relate to race discrimination: In Pappas v. Giuliani, 290 F.3d 143 (2002), she dissented from the majority’s holding that the NYPD could fire a white employee for distributing racist materials.

Judge Sotomayor was twice on panels reversing district court decisions agreeing with race-related claims - i.e., reversing a finding of impermissible race-based decisions. Both were criminal cases involving jury selection.

The numbers relating to unpublished opinions continued to hold as well. In the roughly 55 cases in which the panel affirmed district court decisions rejecting a claim of employment discrimination or retaliation, the panel published its opinion or order only 5 times.

In sum, in an eleven-year career on the Second Circuit, Judge Sotomayor has participated in roughly 100 panel decisions involving questions of race and has disagreed with her colleagues in those cases (a fair measure of whether she is an outlier) a total of 4 times. Only one case (Gant) in that entire eleven years actually involved the question whether race discrimination may have occurred. (In another case (Pappas) she dissented to favor a white bigot.) She participated in two other panels rejecting district court rulings agreeing with race-based jury-selection claims. Given that record, it seems absurd to say that Judge Sotomayor allows race to infect her decisionmaking.

h/t SCOTUSblog

Judge Sotomayor’s Appellate Opinions in Civil Cases SCOTUSblog

And on another nutty note:

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala) :

SESSIONS: "You voted not to reconsider the prior case. You voted to stay with the decision of the circuit. And in fact your vote was the key vote. Had you voted with Judge Cabranes, himself of Puerto Rican ancestry, had you voted with him, you could’ve changed that case. "

Didn't the Republicans get their knickers all in a twist because they thought Judge Sotomayor was a racist who favored Latinos? Why would Sessions make a point of telling Judge Sotomayor that Judge Cabranes was "himself of Puerto Rican ancestry?" By doing so he's implying she should have voted on that basis alone, the very thing the GOP has been throwing tantrums over since she was nominated by President Obama.

They're nuts.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Good Luck, Judge Sotomayor!


"My personal and professional experiences help me listen and understand, with the law always commanding the result in every case," Sotomayor told senators at a nationally televised confirmation hearing.

The remarks about judicial philosophy were her first since President Barack Obama nominated the South Bronx-born and Ivy League-educated veteran of 17 years on the federal bench. They appeared aimed at Republicans who have questioned her commitment to impartiality in light of a 2001 remark that experience as a "wise Latina" might give her an advantage over white males.

In her remarks, Sotomayor said, "The progression of my life has been uniquely American," that of a child of Puerto Rican parents who moved to New York during World War II. "I want to make one special note of thanks to my mom," she said. "I am here today because of her aspirations and sacrifices for my brother Juan and me."

"Mom, I love that we are sharing this together," said Sotomayor, whose father died when she was 9.

On the first day of Sotomayor's hearing, Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee celebrated the life story of the Bronx-born federal judge who is poised to become the high court's first Latino justice. Republicans warned, however, that she could be an "activist judge" who would "make the law" and may be biased toward disadvantaged minority groups. Several appeared set to oppose her.

Chart of Supreme Court justice...
Sotomayor's judicial philosophy: 'Fidelity to the law'
"The president has done his part and made a historic nomination," said Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the judiciary committee. "Now it is up to the Senate to do its part on behalf of the American people."At the moment, Sotomayor's confirmation appears likely. With the swearing-in last week of Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), Democrats have the 60 votes necessary to thwart any Republican filibuster attempt. Leahy went as far as to pledge Sotomayor "will be confirmed," and he suggested that Republicans would oppose her at their political peril.
FOX News' very own Idiot-in-Residence, Glenn Beck continues to embarrass himself and hang on to the title as "DUMBEST PERSON ON CABLE TEEVEE."
There's no doubt now that he is FOX News' pre-eminent clown, and is crazier than radio comedian, Rush Limbaugh:
Glenn Beck is very upset with the softball questions that the Senators offered up to Judge Sonia Sotomayor during her first day of confirmation hearings. To prove his point, Beck played a video montage of Democratic senators praising Sotomayor, notably in statements and not questions.
Unfortunately for Beck, there were no questions today. The first day of the hearings is when Senators and the nominee make opening statements.
Beck did include one clip of a GOP senator, Lindsey Graham, telling Sotomayor "unless you have a complete meltdown, you're gonna get confirmed. And I don't think you will." Beck ridiculed Graham for this: "Does anybody remember when Lindsey Graham wasn't a worm?"

Sunday, July 12, 2009


Are you worried about Muslim fundamentalism? Read about this. This has been around for a long time and until now very few Americans knew about this secretive group that admires the methods used by Hitler, Lenin, and the Mafia:


“Un-American theocrats can only fool patriotic American democrats when there aren’t critics like Jeff Sharlet around -- careful scholars and soulful writers who understand both the majesty of faith and the evil of its abuses. A remarkable accomplishment in the annals of writing about religion.”--Rick Perlstein, author of Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America

"Just when we thought the Christian right was crumbling, Jeff Sharlet delivers a rude shock: One of its most powerful and cult-like core groups, the Family, has been thriving. Sharlet's book is one of the most compelling and brilliantly researched exposes you'll ever read -- just don't read it alone at night!" --Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed, Bait and Switch, and Dancing in the Streets

"Forget what you think you know about the Christian Right; Jeff Sharlet has uncovered a frightening strain of hidden fundamentalism that forces us to revise our understanding of religion and politics in modern America. A brilliant marriage of investigative journalism and history, an unsettling story of how this small but powerful group shaped the faith of the nation in the 20th century and drives the politics of empire in the 21st. Anyone interested in circles of power will love this book."--Debby Applegate, winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for biography for The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher

The Family
The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power

They are the Family—fundamentalism's avant-garde, waging spiritual war in the halls of American power and around the globe. They consider themselves the new chosen—congressmen, generals, and foreign dictators who meet in confidential cells, to pray and plan for a "leadership led by God," to be won not by force but through "quiet diplomacy." Their base is a leafy estate overlooking the Potomac in Arlington, Virginia, and Jeff Sharlet is the only journalist to have reported from inside its walls.

The Family is about the other half of American fundamentalist power—not its angry masses, but its sophisticated elites. Sharlet follows the story back to Abraham Vereide, an immigrant preacher who in 1935 organized a small group of businessmen sympathetic to European fascism, fusing the far right with his own polite but authoritarian faith. From that core, Vereide built an international network of fundamentalists who spoke the language of establishment power, a "family" that thrives to this day. In public, they host Prayer Breakfasts; in private, they preach a gospel of "biblical capitalism," military might, and American empire. Citing Hitler, Lenin, and Mao as leadership models, the Family's current leader, Doug Coe, declares, "We work with power where we can, build new power where we can't."

Sharlet's discoveries dramatically challenge conventional wisdom about American fundamentalism, revealing its crucial role in the unraveling of the New Deal, the waging of the cold war, and the no-holds-barred economics of globalization. The question Sharlet believes we must ask is not "What do fundamentalists want?" but "What have they already done?"
Part history, part investigative journalism, The Family is a compelling account of how fundamentalism came to be interwoven with American power, a story that stretches from the religious revivals that have shaken this nation from its beginning to fundamentalism's new frontiers. No other book about the right has exposed the Family or revealed its far-reaching impact on democracy, and no future reckoning of American fundamentalism will be able to ignore it.

1. Your exposé on The Fellowship, aka “The Family,” appeared five years ago. Has your understanding of the group changed?

When I was working on that story, I remember debating how much Hitler we should put in the piece. That is, we wondered how fair it was to dwell on The Family’s invocations of Hitler as a model of “total commitment.” As it turns out, it was quite fair. After I left Ivanwald, a team of researchers and I spent years combing through hundreds of thousands of documents in archives around the country. We discovered that as far back as the 1940s, when The Family began organizing congressmen, the group’s founder, Abraham Vereide, was praising Hitler’s “youth work” as a model to be adopted by Americans. He denounced Hitler himself, but he admired fascism’s cultivation of elites, crucial to what he saw as a God-ordained coming “age of minority control.”

The Family has put that concept, which they call “Jesus plus nothing,” into action for decades, from their early successes fighting the New Deal in the 1930s and 40s to their recruitment of war criminals such as Herman J. Abs, known as “Hitler’s banker,” into postwar European leadership, to their facilitation of U.S. support for dictators ranging from Papa Doc Duvalier of Haiti to Suharto of Indonesia to Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, now their “key man” for Africa. The fetish for strongman leadership has continued with Vereide’s successor, Doug Coe, who leads the group today. Throughout his letters in the Billy Graham Center Archive at Wheaton College, I found references to the leadership model of Hitler. In one sermon, variations of which he’s given many times, Coe says: “Jesus said ‘You got to put Him before mother-father-brother-sister.’ Hitler, Lenin, Mao, that’s what they taught the kids. Mao even had the kids killing their own mother and father. But it wasn’t murder. It was for building the new nation. The new kingdom.”

2. Given the unbelievable amount of influence brokered by the Fellowship Foundation, and by Doug Coe, why have so few national media outlets have picked up on the story?

The problem is that we just don’t have a press that really wants to challenge power on issues they consider “personal.” Speaking at the 1985 Prayer Breakfast, Ronald Reagan said, “I wish I could say more about it, but it’s working precisely because it’s private.” That should have been an invitation for investigative reporting. Instead, the media, then and now, tends to acquiesce to elite secretiveness, not out of any conspiracy, but due to a culture of reverence for established power, liberal or conservative. Most journalists believe in meritocracy—not merely that it’s a good idea, but that it actually exists. They know some politicians game the system, but they’re committed to the idea that the system basically works. And it does, but not in favor of democracy.

3. It seems like the National Prayer Breakfast, which The Family administers, is a big part of why the press doesn’t pick up on the story. It seems inconceivable that a group that attracts so many powerful public figures from around the world to its annual event could be up to anything untoward.

It’s the Family’s only public event, but the few hours that the press is allowed to attend are the dullest thing imaginable, the blandest kind of ecumenical civil religion, with the main address presented by some figure distinct from the Christian Right—Joe Lieberman, or the Saudi Prince Bandar, or even Bono. How threatening is that? But internal documents tell a different story. “Anything could happen,” reads one, “the Koran could even be read, but JESUS is there. He is infiltrating the world.”

Friday, July 10, 2009


Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez brings up some interesting points in her post on America's obsession with celebrity, the culture of mediocrity, and Michael Jackson's legacy.

Here are some highlights of her post. The entire piece is here.


"I have watched the fawning nonstop media coverage of the death of Michael Jackson with skepticism this past week. Yes, premature death is tragic. Upon that we can (mostly) all agree. What I cannot agree with, however, are the repeated claims that Jackson: was a musical genius; broke down racial barriers; was a brilliant singer; was a great dancer; changed American culture."

"Jackson, whose vocal range was limited and who sang often insipid pop songs that rarely ventured outside of a basic pentatonic scale, was no musical genius. Cannonball Adderley was a musical genius. John Coltrane was a musical genius. Charles Ives was a musical genius. J.S. Bach was a musical genius. Hector Berlioz was a musical genius. These were human beings gifted with uncommon genius in musical understanding, interpretation and expression. To compare Michael Jackson's twitchy, strange pop singing to the accomplishments of people such as Pyotr Tchaikovsky or Charlie Parker is downright insulting; it is rather like saying the guy who designed the Tilt-a-Whirl is on par as an architect with I.M. Pei. That the American press have been so quick to jump on the Jackson-as-genius bandwagon speaks to the dismal state of excellence in our culture. As more and more artistic and journalistic decisions have been left to MBAs and accountants, quality has fallen by the wayside. True musical variety has died with the radio monopolies of Clear Channel and others, as we are force-fed the same Lady Ga-Ga tune until we Lady Ga-GAG. Our standards, in other words, have sunk to new lows, and not just in music. If Jackson is a musical genius, one realizes, it is not such a great leap to imagine Sarah Palin as presidential material, Lauren Weisberger as a great author, or Lou Dobbs as a substitute for real reporting and news. The Simpsons lampooned the growing cult of idiocy and mediocrity in our nation in the character of Homer; sadly, hardly anyone noticed because they were too busy relating to him. As a culture, it appears that we have accepted the lowest common denominator as the highest we ought to aim. We are told Michael Jackson is the King of Pop, when in reality he is the Clown Monarch of Mediocrity."


What Valdes-Rodriguez tells us in this post is that we, as a culture, accept the successful marketing of a personality in politics and entertainment as validation of his or her achievements, and we accept this without doing the hard work of discovering on our own whether or not that personality really merits our admiration or has done the hard work of earning the attention and adulation we so easily and uncritically confer on these people.

In Michael Jackson's case, there's no doubt, as Valdes-Rodriguez points out, that he was able to fill arenas for his concerts as well as sell millions upon millions of copies of his CDs worldwide. This makes him an international phenom, to be sure, but a genius? A musical genius?


I reserve that very special and rare designation for people like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

That we accepted the nonstop, 24/7 coverage of a pop entertainer over the last two weeks says something about our lack of maturity and ability to put in proper perspective what is important for us to pay attention to.

Just because covering Jackson's death and memorial service made tons of money for teevee news and cable stations, that should never have been an excuse for us to accept the overindulgent nonsense that it was.

Monday, July 6, 2009


Link to story of this photo.

JUNEAU, Alaska – Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin didn't wait long to give some hint of what her political life might look like after she leaves office at the end of the month.

After staying out of the public eye for most of Saturday, a day after abruptly announcing she would soon give up her job as governor, Palin indicated on a social networking site [Facebook] that she would take on a larger, national role, citing a "higher calling" to unite the country along conservative lines.

A higher calling? What is higher than fulfilling one's obligation to Alaskan voters? Palin asked them for their votes; and 2 1/2 years after they gave them to her, she dumps them? For a "higher calling?"

Many people on the right mockingly refer to President Obama as "The One" and "The Messiah." Imagine what names they'd use against him had he ever cited a "higher calling" to unite the country along political lines?

Messianic complex anyone?

Palin said she believed she'd beat Obama in a marathon. Maybe. But she sure beats Obama in the Messianic complex catagory.

If the Right calls Mr. Obama "The One," then surely Ms. Palin deserves the title "The Oneness" for her dreams of uniting the conservatives in the GOP.

"I am now looking ahead and how we can advance this country together with our values of less government intervention, greater energy independence, stronger national security, and much-needed fiscal restraint," the former Republican vice presidential candidate wrote in a posting on her Facebook page. Palin's spokeswoman, Meghan Stapleton, confirmed Palin wrote the entry.

We are all looking ahead to see how "The Oneness" accomplishes this as she rakes in the $$$$$ from speaking fees and book deals.


Since announcing that she would resign as governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin (R) has been blaming her decision on the “main stream media” and political operatives who accused her of “all sorts of frivolous ethics violations.” However, last year, Palin pointedly criticized Hillary Clinton during the presidential election for complaining about “excess criticism” and being put under “a sharper microscope”:

PALIN: When I hear a statement like that coming from a woman candidate with any kind of perceived whine about that excess criticism or you know maybe a sharper microscope put on her, I think, “Man that doesn’t do us any good — women in politics, women in general wanting to progress this country.” I don’t think it bodes well for her, a statement like that. Because, again, fair or unfair, it is there, I think that’s reality, and I think it’s a given. I think people can just accept that she is going to be under the sharper microscope. So be it. I mean, work harder, prove yourself to an even greater degree that you’re capable, that you’re going to be the best candidate, and that of course is what she wants us to believe at this point.

h/t ThinkProgress

WORK HARDER does not mean QUIT.

Friday, July 3, 2009


In what may be the oddest, most disjointed speech in political history, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin announced today that she would resign from the governorship of Alaska after only 2 1/2 years into her term. Her reason? She doesn't want to be a lame duck governor.


This doesn't make sense. Lots of politicians--governors AND presidents--become lame ducks, but they don't voluntarily resign. What's the real story behind this bizarre performance?

Is she leaving office to pursue more lucrative venues as a speaker? To give her story to a writer for a book deal? To host a teevee or radio show? No one knows for sure.

The only thing we do know is that she's a quitter. I thought she was known for her tenacity, her courage, her ability to stick it out. She was known as Sarah Barracuda! And she herself proclaimed that the only difference between a hockey mom and a pitbull was lipstick!

And now she's running away?

I've got a bit of advice for the soon-to-be ex-Governor Sarah Palin: Look to Hillary Rodham Clinton if you need a role model for courage and tenacity.

Secretary Clinton was subjected to the worst possible personal attacks when she was FLOTUS. She was accused of murder, dealing drugs, marital infidelity, tax cheating, and every other sort of pernicious slander one can imagine. And on top of all that, she had to suffer public humiliation by her husband's deceit, and listen to John McCain and Rush Limbaugh insult and demean her 12-year old daughter's parentage and looks.

Mrs. Clinton didn't quit. She kept her dignity through it all and triumphed over all the cheap, crass, destructive lies and libels thrown at her and went on to become a respected Senator. She then ran for president in what was a very close race, and is now our Secretary of State.

This is how you come out on top. This is how you triumph over those who seek to destroy you and your reputation.

You don't quit. You fight the good fight, and you win.

Palin obviously doesn't have the fortitude to face down her critics nor does she have the guts to fight it out to the end and win, as did Hillary Clinton.

It's best we find this out now before Palin went any further in the political process.

That said, I believe she will run for the Republican nomination for president in the 2012, and she's looking for an easy way to do it without doing the hard work.

Criticism is part of being a politician--ask Hillary. Palin doesn't have what it takes to face it down and rise above it--she just announced this to the country.

We need courageous, tough winners for politician, not quitters.

As Vince Lombardi once said:

"Winners never quit, and quitters never win."


I've always loved this quote:

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." ~Plato

Over the last few months as my sister struggled with her illness, she was surrounded by her family, and we were with her at the moment she took her last breath. She died peacefully.

Thank you all for your kind and comforting words.

Ruth, your wishes are the same as her family's, and I thank you for expressing them to me.

dmarks, yes, something bad did happen, but we have accepted the inevitable, as everyone must in these circumstances. Thank you for your thoughts.

Christopher, I come from a large Italian family, and we are taking care of each other. Thank you for coming here and leaving me your kind words.

puddy, I did "hang in there" as best as I could. I appreciate your encouragement. Thank you.

Athenae, what a lovely surprise to read your note. Thank you so much. My best to you and my friends over at First Draft.

Anonymous, thank you. I appreciate your thoughts.

Erin, thank you sweetie. You're always so thoughtful.

TRUTH 101, I am comforted knowing you're out there in the midwest thinking of my family. That meant a lot to me. Thank you.

Gordon, you are special. My sincere and heartfelt thanks to you for your many expressions of support and kindness as I went through this awful time.

rockync, my sincere condolences to you and your family for your loss. Thank you for taking the time to come here and comfort me.

Lynne, thank you so much. I've learned that when we take care of each other, these unhappy times are easier to bear.

Pamela D. Hart, thank you for your kind thoughts. I've been looking at photos and videos for days now, and those wonderful memories are a great comfort.

DD2 aka Debonair Dude, thank you for coming here and expressing your sympathy. I really appreciate your kindness at this very sad time.

Frank the Carpenter, I am grateful for your kind words to me and my family. Thank you for coming here and sharing them.

(O)CT(O)PUS, thank you for comforting, generous words. I am especially pleased to have received these expressions of sympathy from everyone--they had a healing effect on me.

Bob, thank you for coming here and expressing your condolences. I very much appreciate your effort.

Italiano's Thoughts, mille grazie. Our family found solace in each other, in our memories, and, of course, food. Thank you for your kind words.

Jennifer, your words comforted me more than you'll know--and I appreciate your "virtual" hugs. I needed them very much. Thank you.

Right Is Right, you were so kind to come here and express your sorrow for me and my family. Thank you for taking the time to do so. I appreciate your effort.

Thayer, thank you for your support and comforting words.