Sunday, May 31, 2009


What a novel idea: instead of assuming that Sotomayor will let her ethnicity and gender drive the outcome of her judicial decisions, why not LOOK AT HER DECISIONS and see if that has been the case?

Annals of dishonest reporting: the AP tries to construct an “on the one hand/on the other hand” story about Sotomayor’s ethnicity. Sometimes she proclaims it, sometimes she wants it discounted. But they really have to twist the facts to get there. Read this

The Gender Issue

I think Digby is half right here: it’s generally useful for the Republican elected mainstream to have pressure from the right that energizes their base by saying things they can’t say. So part of the “debate” within the party over Sotomayor is good cop/bad cop. But I also think it causes them real trouble with independents and potential crossover voters to be seen as extremist and racist – and this debate has exposed the ugly underbelly of the party in a very public way. And there’s no doubt that the party lacks any leader or coherent voice right now

Steve Benen:
[T]he idea that unhinged attacks will "help in uniting the Republican coalition" doesn't make sense. For one thing, it's clearly not "uniting" anyone -- the right spent nearly as much time yesterday dealing with each other's smears as they did addressing the nominee. For another, the Republican coalition is shrinking, and by launching racially-charged, misogynistic attacks against a clearly qualified Supreme Court nominee, the Gingrich-led faction is only driving away everyone else, while insulting the nation's fastest growing demographic. . . .

Kevin Drum:
The Battle for the Soul of Conservatism . . .

The Bush administration’s “pre-9/11” mentality

Did Bush officially authorize the use of torture? And if so, when? (after it had already started, apparently)

Whatever they say, the GOP [hearts] Rush Limbaugh – or, at least, they have to pretend to
[Karl Rove] He's a leader. . . .
[Eric Cantor] He believes in principles . . .
[Michael Steele] I have enormous respect for Rush Limbaugh . . .
[Michael Pence] I cherish his voice. . . . [read on]

Can the Republican party be saved?

Sunday talk show line-ups
• ABC, This Week: Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX).

• CBS, Face The Nation: Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

• CNN, State Of The Union: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY); Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX).

• Fox News Sunday: Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

• NBC, Meet The Press: Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Ranking Member Jeff Sessions (R-AL); Caterpillar CEO Jim Owens, Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and Xerox CEO Anne Mulcahy.

Bonus item: The “Smart Girls” are D-U-M-B


***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Saturday, May 30, 2009


As we hoped, the Sotomayor nomination is tearing the GOP apart, in a struggle between unaccountable pundits and former politicians whose own credibility requires playing to the nativist crowd, and elected GOP officials (especially from Western states) who can’t afford to alienate the Hispanic vote and see their party locked in an endless, unwinnable argument over race. Grab your popcorn . . .
[Josh Marshall] We know that a key dilemma for the GOP in the early Obama era is that they are increasingly divided between people who want to get the party back into the business of winning elections and ultras who want to go totally off the deep end with often extreme rhetoric and quests for ideological purity. What's more, these 'pragmatists, for lack of a better word, are cowed by the ultras because in a shrunken GOP the ultras make up a much larger percentage of the party. . . . [read on]
[Eric Kleefeld] After a week of escalating race and gender rhetoric from the right over the Sotomayor nomination, it's now looking like some in the Republican Party -- those concerned with actually getting elected -- have become alarmed by the political damage the more extreme members of their party may be doing and are moving to rein in the vitriol. It's the starkest example yet of an interesting division within the right, one that has been apparent for some time, but which the Sotomayor nomination has not only crystalized but accelerated: the right-wing bomb-throwers obsessed with ideological purity versus the right-wing pragmatists who want the party to actually win election again some day. . . . [read on]
Texas GOP Senator John Cornyn is not exactly known for his progressive Republican views but yesterday he said something interesting. Asked on NPR about Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh's criticisms of Sonia Sotomayor as a racist, he answered:

"I think it's terrible... This is not the kind of tone any of us want to set when it comes to performing our constitutional responsibilities of advise and consent."

Cornyn dismissed Limbaugh and Gingrich, adding: "Neither one of these men are elected Republican officials. I just don't think it's appropriate. I certainly don't endorse it. I think it's wrong." . . .
Peggy Noonan suggests that Rush, Newt, conservative activists are “idiots” for attacking Sotomayor . . .
Newt Gingrich does not seem to be deterred by the new message of the Republican leadership, such as Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), that he and Rush Limbaugh should stop calling Sonia Sotomayor a racist.

Gingrich has now sent out a fundraising e-mail, asking for help to send blast faxes to every member of the Senate demanding that the Sotomayor nomination be defeated. . . .
Rush fires back at GOP Senator Cornyn . . .


Meanwhile, the rhetoric of the right is becoming, if possible, even more extreme and outrageous
Rush Limbaugh is now comparing the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the idea of nominating David Duke
G. Gordon Liddy: Let's hope Sotomayor isn't "menstruating" at key Supreme Court conferences.
[Liddy] “I understand that they found out today that Miss Sotomayor is a member of La Raza, which means in illegal alien, “the race.” . . .
Appearing on Hardball today, former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) was asked whether he agrees with Rush Limbaugh that the Obama Administration hates white people. His answer: "I don't know."
The Sotomayor nomination has become an occasion for Pat Buchanan to refocus on his main political cause: The endangered, persecuted white male.

On MSNBC today, Buchanan sad that Sonia Sotomayor believes in advancing minorities at the expense of white men -- and so does President Obama . . .
[Brian Beutler] Earlier today, MSNBC correspondent Savannah Guthrie got an email about the fight over Sonia Sotomayor from a shocked Wendy Long of the Judicial Confirmation Network. "Somehow," she wrote, "this important debate is turning into an argument about race and identity politics."

How ever could that have happened!? Maybe it had something to do with statements like this by...Wendy Long: "[Sotomayor] herself has said that she thinks it's appropriate for her to make decisions as a Latina woman, from that perspective, bringing to bear those demographics on her decision-making. And that she thinks if she applies her personal views and her personal demographics to the case before her, she's going to make a better decision than a white man."
Rove Peddles Lies About Sotomayor . . .

Have fun!
[Eugene Robinson] President Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, is a proud and accomplished Latina. This fact apparently drives some prominent Republicans to a state resembling incoherent, sputtering rage. . . .
[Will Wilkinson] I really don’t get why many Republicans have taken this opportunity to reinforce the already widespread impression that they are morally odious morons.
[Michael Kinsley] Listening, via the media, to the debate inside the Republican Party, you also have to wonder about the party's commitment to a colorblind society. The Democrats' too, but Democrats don't carry on about colorblindness the way Republicans do. It's clear that the one paralyzing fact about Sonia Sotomayor, to Republicans, is the color of her skin. If she weren't Latino, they would be in full revenge-for-Clarence-Thomas mode. Instead, they are in an agony of indecision, with GOP strategists openly warning: Support the Latina or die. . . .
[John Dickerson] There is no leader of the Republican Party. There probably won't be one until the GOP nominates its next presidential candidate. But while the hierarchy of the players shifts, the party drama follows an expected pattern. As Republicans react to developments like President Obama's reversal of Bush-era national security policies or his nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor, it may not always be possible to know which member of the cast will appear—but it is possible to predict which roles will have to be filled. . . . [read on]

I wouldn’t want to be judged today on what I said and did when I was a sophomore


I have one gripe with Democratic court appointments. Republican presidents put forth young candidates who will hold lifetime appointments for decades. Democratic presidents often don’t do that. Here we have a 54 year old woman with Type 1 diabetes – what’s the prognosis?

The Court’s rightward shift

George Bush’s simpleminded moral worldview
In his largest domestic speech since leaving the White House in January, Bush told an audience in southwestern Michigan that after the September 11 attacks, "I vowed to take whatever steps that were necessary to protect you." . . .

"The first thing you do is ask, what's legal?" he said. "What do the lawyers say is possible? I made the decision, within the law, to get information so I can say to myself, 'I've done what it takes to do my duty to protect the American people.' I can tell you that the information we got saved lives." [read on]

Carl Levin (D-MI) calls Dick Cheney a liar
Regarding Cheney's claim that classified documents will prove his case -- documents that Levin himself is also privy to -- Levin said: "But those classified documents say nothing about the numbers of lives saved, nor do the documents connect acquisition of valuable intelligence to the use of abusive techniques. I hope that the documents are declassified, so that people can judge for themselves what is fact, and what is fiction." . . [read on]


You know what they say: it can’t be libel if it’s true
Liz Cheney: Calling My Daddy a Torturer Is Libelous

Another liberal wuss who doesn’t understand what is necessary to keep America safe
[On Gitmo] What I do support is what has been termed the responsible closure of Gitmo. Gitmo has caused us problems, there's no question about it. I oversee a region in which the existence of Gitmo has been used by the enemy against us. We have not been without missteps or mistakes in our activity since 9/11 and again Gitmo is a lingering reminder for the use of some in that regard. . . .

[On trials] Well, first of all, I don't think we should be afraid of our values we're fighting for, what we stand for. And so indeed we need to embrace them and we need to operationalize them in how we carry out what it is we're doing on the battlefield and everywhere else. So one has to have some faith, I think, in the legal system. One has to have a degree of confidence that individuals that have conducted such extremist activity would indeed be found guilty in our courts of law. . . .

[On torture] There might be an exception and that would require extraordinary but very rapid approval to deal with, but for the vast majority of the cases, our experience downrange if you will, is that the techniques that are in the Army Field Manual that lays out how we treat detainees, how we interrogate them -- those techniques work, that's our experience in this business. . . .

When we have taken steps that have violated the Geneva Conventions, we rightly have been criticized, so as we move forward I think it's important to again live our values, to live the agreements that we have made in the international justice arena and to practice those.

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Friday, May 29, 2009


More evidence that characteristics are treated as “issues” for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor which were overlooked or treated as positives for Republican nominees

Sotomayor’s Sharp Tongue Raises Issue of Temperament
Judge Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, has a blunt and even testy side . . .

Scalia's ferocious dissents are designed to foster opposition to the Court's anti-democratic usurpations. . . Scalia met this ham-fisted decision with sarcasm, sneers, and an explicitly ideological critique. . . .
Scalia's (in)famously ascerbic dissents have long been an object of interest among legal commentators . . .


Let’s play . . .
Which Judge Said This? . . .

More examples
Flashback: Republicans Accused Dems Of Racism For Opposing Hispanic Judicial Nominee . . .
Karl Rove says conservatives shouldn’t worry about alienating Hispanic voters . . .


The Republican proxies clearly believe they can say ANYTHING and still be given respectful press coverage
Tancredo: Sotomayor Is Member Of "Latino KKK" . . .
[Matt Yglesias] Now as Dave Meyer points out, this is not just a vile slur on Sotomayor and the NCLR, it’s a serious slur on Senator John McCain (R-AZ) who delivered the keynote at NCLR’s 2004 conference and also addressed the group in 2008. Meanwhile, Senator Mel Martinez (R-FL) accepted an award from NCLR earlier this year.

The question arises as to whether McCain and Martinez are going to stand for this. Will they take on the maniacs in their own party who are slandering them, or will they decide to just lay low and hope that nobody notices what’s going on. I know that if someone accused me of having delivered the keynote address at a Klan rally, I’d be mad as hell. Is McCain?


The enabling press
[Glenn Greenwald] I have no doubt that there are legitimate grounds for criticizing Sotomayor. I have reservations about her and am very interested in her answers at her confirmation hearing. She's a Supreme Court nominee and shouldn't be beyond intense scrutiny. But the bile coming thus far from the Right (and Respectable Intellectual Center) is laughable, contrary to all the available evidence, and grounded in the most naked and destructive stereotypes (the little lady can't keep her emotions in check or her mouth shut; the Latina woman decides in favor of minorities at the expense of the oppressed white male). Before the media keeps repeating the screeching and inflammatory accusations from Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich and Karl Rove, they might actually want to first see if there is evidence to support those accusations. That is what "reporting" allegedly is about. . . . [read on]
[Brian Beutler] If your only source of news was cable television, you might think that the Senate was gearing up for an historic fight over a Supreme Court hopeful so out of the mainstream that it might be worth questioning the sanity of the President who nominated her. . . . [read on]
According to The Politico, charges that Sonia Sotomayor is a "racist" are picking up steam and must be addressed. . . .


Reading the Washington Times makes you dumber
[WT] "Sotomayor reversed 60% by high court." . . . [read on]

Changing the rules
Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ) is now saying the confirmation process for Sonia Sotomayor will likely have to wait much longer than President Obama wants -- going into September rather than happening before the August recess.

"My guess is that if you apply the same general standards as were applied to the Roberts and Alito nominations that probably it goes into the first part of September," Kyl told Fox News.

Simply put, this is baloney on multiple levels. For one thing, John Roberts was first nominated for the Supreme Court in late July 2005, then confirmed as Chief Justice in late September 2005 -- a period of just over two months. Alito took a bit longer, being nominated in late October 2005, and confirmed in late January 2006 -- a period of three months. Kyl is using these two examples to justify a period of nearly four months. . . .

THIS is interesting
The campaign against Judge Sotomayor began on the editorial pages of the ultra-conservative Wall Street Journal and was given much wider exposure when it was taken up by Rush Limbaugh, the right wing radio talk show host. . . .

Judge Sonia Sotomayor seemed like a trouble-free choice when President Clinton nominated her to an appeals court post a year ago ... But Republican senators have been blocking Judge Sotomayor's elevation to the appeals court for a highly unusual reason: to make her less likely to be picked by Mr. Clinton for the Supreme Court, senior Republican Congressional aides said in interviews. . .

Senate Republicans think that they would then have a difficult time opposing a Hispanic woman who had just been confirmed by the full Senate. . . .

[BarbinMD] It's hard to believe that this was written, not this week, but more than ten years ago. That's when the campaign to keep Sonia Sotomayor off of the Supreme Court began. . .

David Broder speaks from his throne
I have to believe that many Republican senators will seize the opportunity Obama has provided and prove they are not as narrow-minded as their most extreme backers. And then hope that, like some mirror image of Souter, Sotomayor will surprise the world with some of her votes. . . . [read on]

Is Sotomayor pro-choice?

The detainee photos the Pentagon (and Obama) don’t want us to see
[Daily Telegraph] Photographs of alleged prisoner abuse which Barack Obama is attempting to censor include images of apparent rape and sexual abuse . . . [read on]


Is Ben Nelson a Democrat again?

Roland Burris: in real trouble this time?
How Damning Is The Burris Transcript? . . .


Here’s the recording:

On MSNBC's Hardball last night, Chris Matthews eviscerated Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL) over the recently released federal wiretaps of conversations Burris had with the brother of disgraced former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

The grilling Burris endures is almost too painful to watch. . . .

Bonus item: a perfectly reasonable comparison
RedState’s Erick Erickson Compares Rush Limbaugh to Jesus Christ . . .

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Thursday, May 28, 2009


More Republicans buy into the “Sotomayor is a racist” line
[Newt] "White man racist nominee would be forced to withdraw. Latina woman racist should also withdraw. . . New racism is no better than old racism"
Former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) says Sonia Sotomayor "appears to be a racist." . . .


Getting a little desperate, aren’t they?
National Review Online's Mark Krikorian: "Putting the emphasis on the final syllable of Sotomayor is unnatural in English... and insisting on an unnatural pronunciation is something we shouldn't be giving in to."

Weekly Standard's Michael Goldfarb: "Obama seems to have the views of a 21-year-old Hispanic girl -- that is, only by having a black president, an Hispanic justice, a female secretary of State, and Bozo the Clown as vice president will the United States become a true 'vanguard of societal ideas and changes.'"
[Brian Beutler] As you may have noticed, those critics have repeatedly cited a speech she delivered in 2001 at U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law, in which she said, "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."

The right is, of course, outraged. In the same speech, though, she also got a bit more personal: "For me, a very special part of my being Latina is the mucho platos de arroz, gandoles y pernir - rice, beans and pork - that I have eaten at countless family holidays and special events," she said.

My Latina identity also includes, because of my particularly adventurous taste buds, morcilla, -- pig intestines, patitas de cerdo con garbanzo -- pigs' feet with beans, and la lengua y orejas de cuchifrito, pigs' tongue and ears.

Good lighthearted fun, right? Wrong.

According to Hill reporter Alexander Bolton, "This has prompted some Republicans to muse privately about whether Sotomayor is suggesting that distinctive Puerto Rican cuisine such as patitas de cerdo con garbanzo -- pigs' tongue and ears -- would somehow, in some small way influence her verdicts from the bench." . . .
David Shuster: "What evidence do you have that she would put her feelings and politics above the rule of law?"

Tom Fitton [Judicial Watch]: "Because President Obama chose her." . . . [read on]

Ah, the days when “empathy” was a good thing . . .
The first President Bush introduced Clarence Thomas by hailing his "great empathy." . . .


Who said it?
“Because when a case comes before me involving, let's say, someone who is an immigrant -- and we get an awful lot of immigration cases and naturalization cases -- I can't help but think of my own ancestors, because it wasn't that long ago when they were in that position. . . .

And so it's my job to apply the law. It's not my job to change the law or to bend the law to achieve any result.

But when I look at those cases, I have to say to myself, and I do say to myself, "You know, this could be your grandfather, this could be your grandmother. . . .”

When I get a case about discrimination, I have to think about people in my own family who suffered discrimination because of their ethnic background or because of religion or because of gender. And I do take that into account. . . . I've watched them struggle to overcome the barriers that society puts up often just because it doesn't think of what it's doing -- the barriers that it puts up to them.

So those are some of the experiences that have shaped me as a person.”

And who said THIS?
“Taken in context, the speech was about how the context in which we were raised affects how judges see the world, and that it's unrealistic to pretend otherwise. Yet -- and this is a key point -- she admits that as a jurist, one is obligated to strive for neutrality. It seems to me that Judge Sotomayor in this speech dwelled on the inescapability of social context in shaping the character of a jurist. That doesn't seem to me to be a controversial point, and I am relieved by this passage:

"While recognizing the potential effect of individual experiences on perception, Judge Cedarbaum nevertheless believes that judges must transcend their personal sympathies and prejudices and aspire to achieve a greater degree of fairness and integrity based on the reason of law. Although I agree with and attempt to work toward Judge Cedarbaum's aspiration, I wonder whether achieving that goal is possible in all or even in most cases."

Relieved, because it strikes me as both idealistic and realistic. I am sure Sotomayor and I have very different views on the justice, or injustice, of affirmative action, and I'm quite sure that I won't much care for her rulings as a SCOTUS justice on issues that I care about. But seeing her controversial comment in its larger context makes it look a lot less provocative and troubling.”

A Big Problem
Former Sen. Tim Hutchinson (R-AR), a right-winger who lost re-election against conservative Democrat Mark Pryor in 2002, gave a remarkably candid and dispassionate analysis of the Sotomayor nomination on MSNBC today -- laying out just how bad he thinks it is for the Republicans . . . [watch]


Repubs admit there’s no way to stop Sotomayor

The real purpose of the attacks against Sotomayor – not to block her, but to fire up the base and promote fundraising

Unfortunately for them, it works both ways . . .

It's an old theme: accuse others of doing what you are doing yourselves
[Lucas O’Connor] This isn't about Sonia Sotomayor. Not really. Let's be clear about that. This is about extending the line of spoken and unspoken racism from last year's campaign into the first year of the Obama administration and whipping up the far edges of the conservative base. When Newt Gingrich calls Sotomayor a racist, when Rush is at least more transparent in calling her a reverse racist, when Senator Inhofe worries aloud that being Latina means she can't judge fairly, they're only nominally talking about her specifically. What they're really doing is fear-mongering directly to the white, racist parts of the Republican base.

Specifically, their message is that all of the Muslim, terrorist, un-American craziness from the campaign that whipped McCain/Palin crowds into violent, racist frenzies are coming true, and Sotomayor is the evidence. So when Mitch McConnell says he'll drag out the nomination as long as possible, it's because of the notion that stoking racial fault lines is a winner for the GOP. Electorally, it's a ridiculous idea. The GOP as led by the likes of Gingrich and Limbaugh won't find any success as the anti-racism party. But they will lather up a base that hasn't been as motivated recently. Not only is it morally reprehensible, but it's dangerous. Motivate the wrong person along these lines and you're creating physical danger for any number of people, firstly including President Obama.
GOP Struggles To Avoid The Racism Label ... Fails . . .

I do try to represent the views of those to my left – and there are plenty who don’t think Sonia Sotomayor is such a great choice after all. Here’s an example
[Avedon Carol] I suppose I'm expected to ready myself for a fight to defend Sonia Sotomayor . . .

Will Sotomayor Disappoint Liberals?

Alberto Gonzales and John Yoo are lucky they aren’t in prison as far as I’m concerned – do they really want to take a high profile now?

[NB: I imagine that both of these guys are thinking, "I sold my friggin' soul to Bush and Cheney in the hope that some day *I* might be a SC nominee!"]

What COULD the Dem leadership have done when they were informed about the Bush gang’s torture policies?

One of Rush’s standard lines is disparaging the politics of victimhood – well, except when it suits him
"If ever a civil rights movement was needed in America, it is for the Republican Party."

Yes, that's what the radio host said on his show Wednesday. He added, "If ever we needed to start marching for freedom and constitutional rights, it's for the Republican Party. The Republican Party is today's oppressed minority." . . . [read on]

Bad news for Roland Burris
[Vincent Rossmeier] On Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney's office in Chicago released an FBI transcript of a secretly recorded phone conversation between Blagojevich's brother and now-Sen. Roland Burris, D-Ill., the man Blagojevich named to fill President Obama's vacant Senate seat.

The call occurred prior to Burris' appointment and therefore, the most notable aspect of the conversation is that Burris offered to write the then-governor a campaign check. "I know I could give him a check," Burris said. "Myself."

However, during the same call, Burris also acknowledges that he had to be careful to avoid appearing like he was trying to buy the Senate seat. "If I do that, I guarantee you that that will get out, and people said, 'Oh, Burris is doing a fund-raiser,' and, and then Rod and I both going to catch hell," he said, and worried that if he assisted Blagojevich and then received the appointment "that means I bought it." But he promised to send a check to the governor anyway.

Burris might have gotten himself into some legal trouble with the call, as at one point he seems to tie the donation to the Senate seat. "God knows, No. 1, I want to help Rod... No. 2, I also want to, you know, hope I get a consideration to get that appointment,” Burris said. . . .


Bonus item: Opponents find the right medium for making fun of Michele Bachmann (R-MN): a comic book

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Smart move: a quality nominee who will sail through with bipartisan support, and another opportunity for the Republicans to tear themselves apart over race and gender, while further alienating the Hispanic vote

The nomination (video):

Her bio:

Why Sotomayor’s a great nominee

I thought so too: Obama’s recent comments on “empathy,” “real-world experience,” and the “common touch” in a nominee suggest that he’s been leaning toward Sotomayor for a long time

The first Hispanic? Yes, if you don’t count the Portuguese Benjamin Cardozo (and most don’t)
[David Kurtz] It's hard to believe it now, but there was a time not too long ago when it looked like the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice would be ... Alberto Gonzales.

Rush takes the lead: Sotomayor is a “racist” and the GOP must go to the mattresses to stop her. Go ahead, guys, take his advice

Tucker Carlson too:

James Inhofe (R-OK):
"In the months ahead, it will be important for those of us in the U.S. Senate to weigh [Sotomayor's] qualifications and character as well as her ability to rule fairly without undue influence from her own personal race, gender, or political preferences."

Judicial Watch's Tom Fitton:
“The President said that he wanted a judge who had empathy and I read empathy to mean bias in favor of politically correct individuals, whether they be women or a gay person or a black or Hispanic. You know that's the way they should decide in favor of them no matter what the law is.”

The RNC’s talking points on Sotomayor - all ready in advance, of course


The first wave of GOP responses
[Rob Reich] Put on your seatbelts. Many Republicans have been itching for this fight. . . .
[Brian Beutler] When Republicans and conservatives aren't on television suggesting Sonia Sotomayor isn't fit to serve on the Supreme Court (or just outright insulting her)--when they go home at night and seriously consider what's best for them and their movement--they should keep a couple things in mind . . .
[Alex Koppelman] The Sotomayor nomination works for Obama on two levels: One, it helps him shore up the Hispanic vote, which was pivotal in his win last fall. Two, it puts the GOP in the position of risking further injury to its standing with that demographic. . . .
[NYT] President Obama’s nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court has put the Republican Party in a bind . . .
[Kevin Drum] I also doubt that this was a key factor, but it wouldn't surprise me if a few people in the West Wing did indeed figure that this was a nice bonus. The wingnut wing of the Republican Party seems hugely energized by Sotomayor's nomination and ready to go ballistic over it. This might be good for them in the short term (it's a nice fundraising opportunity, brings internal factions together, etc.), but Obama, as usual, is looking a few moves ahead and understands that a shrieking meltdown from the usual suspects will mostly help the liberal cause: the American public already thinks the conservative rump running the Republican Party is crazy, after all, and this will help cast that feeling in stone. Most normal people think empathy is a good thing, not a code word for the dictatorship of the proletariat.

And Obama? He gets to be the calm at the center of the storm, providing his usual striking contrast to the seething stew of preachers, radio screamers, and Gingrich acolytes who will be making themselves ever more tiresome to Mr. and Mrs. Heartland with their ranting jeremiads. I don't blame conservatives for opposing Sotomayor even though they know that she'd only be replaced by someone equally liberal if they did somehow manage to derail her (liberals did the same with Roberts and Alito, after all), but if they're smart they'll realize that the usual shriekfest is playing right into Obama's hands.

But they're not smart, are they?

No, they’re not:
[Ramesh Ponnuru, NRO] Obama's Harriet Miers . . .

Lots more stupidity from the right:

The seven Republicans who voted for her last time – what excuse can they give for reversing themselves now?
Orrin Hatch: I'm Now Concerned About Things Sotomayor Wrote Before I Supported Her Last Time . . .

Jeffrey Rosen’s low point

What will happen – and why she’ll be confirmed easily
[Dahlia Lithwick] Confirmation hearings are inevitably an invitation to behave badly. . . .


On Sotomayor’s comment that being a Latina from a poor background makes her a better judge. Is this the outrage the GOP thinks it can mount a fight over? Please, please try
[Wendy Long, NRO] “Judge Sotomayor is a liberal judicial activist of the first order who thinks her own personal political agenda is more important that the law as written. She thinks that judges should dictate policy, and that one's sex, race, and ethnicity ought to affect the decisions one renders from the bench.”

Yoo who?:
[John] Yoo touted the unique perspective that he said [Clarence] Thomas brings to the bench. Yoo wrote that Thomas "is a black man with a much greater range of personal experience than most of the upper-class liberals who take potshots at him" and argued that Thomas' work on the court has been influenced by his understanding of the less fortunate acquired through personal experience.
[Digby] Not to put too fine a point on it, but Yoo complaining about the use of "empathy" in the law is just sick, considering his legal reasoning with respect to torture. . . .

More on the role of “empathy” in jurisprudence

Remember when George Bush proclaimed the rise of “compassionate conservatism”? It was a ridiculous lie at the time, and years of war, torture advocacy and Rovean politics makes it even more laughable now. From reader DR:

I for one would purchase a pay-per-view event where a panel consisting of Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, and Dick Cheney discussed in detail the exact parameters of a conservative philosophy of "non-empathetic compassion".

Catholics on the Court
[Josh Marshall] If Sotomayor is confirmed, the Court would have six Roman Catholics, two Jews and one Protestant -- and that, the oldest, John Paul Stevens. . . . [read on]

More signs of a Republican party in disarray: the fight to purge moderates

Bonus item: Another liberal wuss wants to close Gitmo

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I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Robert Reich (and others) want Obama to finance health care by taxing employee health benefits

One problem:
[Sept 12, 2008] Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama hammered John McCain on the issue of taxes today, while speaking in Dover, NH. Obama specifically pointed out that McCain’s healthcare plan would tax workers’ health insurance benefits. . . .

You could see it coming: the biggest impediments to Obama’s policy initiatives are . . . . his own party members

Iran: what we don’t know
[Fareed Zakaria] Everything you know about Iran is wrong, or at least more complicated than you think. . . .

Yes, John Yoo did believe that the President could order ANYTHING he deemed necessary to protect national security — and it would be legal. Anything

Obama World and Cheney World

More critiques of “preventive detention”

Life in a supermax prison (thanks to Colleen V. for the link)

The “Newburgh Four,” dimwitted and drug-addled terrorist wannabees, look like they’ll be very hard to convict
[Zachary Roth] Reports last week suggested that the Newburgh four -- the men arrested Wednesday for plotting to bomb two New York synagogues -- perhaps weren't the swiftest ships in her majesty's fleet. But over the weekend, people close to the four came forward to describe how the government informant at the center of the case against them -- the man known to the suspects as Maqsood -- aggressively courted the men before luring them into an imagined jihad.

Here's what the New York Daily News, Post, and Times reported about how "Maqsood" (identified as a Pakistani immigrant named Shahed Hussain) won the men's loyalty:

Kathleen Baynes, the girlfriend of James Cromitie, described as the plot's ringleader, said Maqsood had given Cromitie cash, food, cameras, rent money, and marijuana. "Maqsood gave him a lot of marijuana," she said . . .
Defense Lawyer On Newburgh Informant: "A Real Snake" . . .


John Bolton, discredited on nearly every conceivable front, still thinks people are interested in his advice on foreign policy

While the Republicans are searching for a new brand and a new standard-bearer, are they really going to turn back to a former Speaker of the House who resigned in disgrace?

Dick Durbin takes on Newt:
DURBIN: I’d just say that I’m afraid Mr. Gingrich is suffering from a little political amnesia here. . . . [read on]

We already have the Kennedy and Bush dynasties – do we need any more?

The press we have

Bonus item: The kind of people they are
[News-Observer] A state House member accused of drinking before speeding to work and embracing a teenage female page said Thursday he will quit the Republican Party after a three-decade political career after comments by fellow GOP legislators who participated in a probe of his conduct.

Rep. Cary Allred, R-Alamance, said next week would change his party registration from GOP to unaffiliated after being betrayed by fellow Republicans.

"If they don't like me they can go to hell," Allred said in a telephone interview.

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I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Monday, May 25, 2009


This is why I do PBD. During the “Chris Matthews Show,” David Ignatius let slip a news tidbit that, as far as I can tell, has been totally ignored by the press, but which casts a completely different light on one of the stories they’ve covered breathlessly for weeks. Will it get any attention now?
On NBC's "The Chris Matthews Show," Washington Post columnist David Ignatius reports on what Dick Cheney knew when he requested the release of those CIA torture memos:

DAVID IGNATIUS: We will not see [the memos that former Vice President Cheney wants released] for a long time. I'm told by the White House when Cheney made this request, he knew there had been an executive order issued by George Bush, his president, essentially banning the release of these memos during the process of litigation. So he was asking for something he knew he wouldn't get.

I hope that Cheney and the he-man Republicans are prepared to attack not only Obama, but all the other wusses who don’t care about America’s security because they want to close down Guantanamo: wusses like Colin Powell, John McCain, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff . . .

And this guy:

More opposition to “preventive detention”

I don’t really like the idea of using Gitmo detainee transfers as an excuse to build more “supermax” prisons

What’s wrong with them?

Our stupid, lazy press. Now we’re going to hear the “flip-flop” meme all over again?
[NYT] On all these fronts, Mr. Obama and his aides have offered detailed explanations of the factors that shape his decision-making. So far, the public seems on board. But in a sound-bite culture, there are limits to how much nuance the public can absorb.

And that raises a question: at what point is President Thinker in danger of being perceived as President Flip-Flop? . . .

The GOP seems to have evolved their messaging on Obama's Supreme Court nominee. At first it was “empathy is a code word for liberal activism.” Now it’s “we don’t want empathy at all” (really)

Moderate Republicans try to take back their party
Ridge takes aim at Limbaugh . . .
In an appearance on CBS' Face the Nation, [Colin] Powell responded to attacks from former Vice President Dick Cheney and talk show host Rush Limbaugh, saying they are "not members of the membership committee of the Republican Party."


Is Liberty University jeopardizing its tax-exempt status?

Talking point wars: how the Repubs and the Dems try to frame the discourse on health care
[Paul Begala] The Republicans have three goals:

1. Co-opt our messaging;

2. Confuse voters; and

3. Kill health care reform. . . . [read on]


Bonus item: When Karl Rove held the levers of power, his boast about “creating our own reality” made sense – the Bush gang’s control over messaging and manipulating the media was legendary. But now that he’s on the outs, the same efforts look, well, silly . . .

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I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Do the Republicans actually BELIEVE the arguments they use?
[Steve Benen] For years now, many of us have pondered the question: conservative Republicans don't actually believe their arguments, do they? Publius considers this in the context of the hopelessly bizarre debate over the closing of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. The right is probably lying, hoping to exploit the politics of fear, but what if conservatives have come to accept their own nonsense? . . . [read on]

[Steve Benen] Indeed, we keep having the same arguments. The right will ask, "Is waterboarding really torture?" The rest of us will calmly explain the situation, point to the law, the science, and the history, and explain why it's torture. The right will respond, "OK, but is waterboarding really torture?" Months go by, and conservatives keep asking the same question, learning the answer, and then asking the same question again. Lather, rinse, repeat.

This week, we kept hearing that torture prevented terrorist attacks. We know there's no evidence to support that, conservatives know we know that, but the right keeps saying it anyway. . . [read on]

Today’s version of rendition
The United States is now relying heavily on foreign intelligence services to capture, interrogate and detain all but the highest-level terrorist suspects seized outside the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan . . .

The Village
[Dday] Here's some good news for President Obama. The villagers have decided that he's getting terrorist policy juuuuust right. Dick Cheney and his pals on the right believe in torture and no due process at all while the "far left" believes that torture is immoral and everyone is entitled to basic human rights, so the proper course is to split the difference and only rip up half the constitution instead of the whole thing. . . . [read on]

Well, now I think we understand why Mr. “Secure Undisclosed Location” has suddenly been falling all over himself to get on the air waves lately
Cheney Seeks Book Deal . . .
"A person familiar with discussions Mr. Cheney has had with publishers said he was seeking more than $2 million for his advance. That sum may prove hard to get in this economic climate, especially given his generally low approval ratings, which publishers view as a potential -- but not certain -- harbinger for sales." . . .
[Steve Benen] This might offer at least some hints about Cheney's recent motivations. A book written by a failed former vice president may not compel publishers to pay the big bucks, but a book written by one of the leaders of the modern Republican Party, and the GOP's leading attack dog of the nation's elected leadership, might generate a more sizable advance.

What I don't quite understand is why anyone would expect Cheney's book to be successful. After all, the former vice president has a well-deserved reputation for almost comical dishonesty. Who's going to pony up $29.95 for a book written by someone who routinely blurs the line between fact and fiction?

If Cheney were prepared to write a juicy tell-all, with fascinating behind-the-scenes insights, it might have a better shot at becoming a best seller. But it seems unlikely that the secretive former vice president would reveal anything that would make his administration look bad.

And then there's the matter of yet another Bushie writing yet another book about a period most Americans are anxious to leave in the past. For eight years, every decision Cheney made turned out to be wrong, if not completely disastrous. How many book buyers will want to relive the Bush years through Cheney's eyes?

Another explanation:
[Liz Cheney] I don’t think he planned to be doing this, you know, when they left office in January. But I think, as it became clear that President Obama was not only going to be stopping some of these policies, that he was going to be doing things like releasing the — the techniques themselves, so that the terrorists could now train to them, that he was suggesting that perhaps we would even be prosecuting former members of the Bush administration.

More on the Pelosi/CIA dispute – dishonest reporting by the Washington Post
[Emptywheel] In spite of the fact that it is becoming increasingly clear to the rest of the media that Porter Goss and Nancy Pelosi agree that they were not briefed that the CIA had already been torturing prisoners in September 2002, the WaPo has decided to double down on deliberately misreading events . . .

Six years ago, Bush and the Republicans stood astride the world. The Dems were mostly afraid to take them on. Rove had a plan for a “permanent Republican majority.” So, what happened?

The kind of people they are
[Steve Benen] Remember this week, when the RNC chairman vowed to attack Democrats with "class" and "dignity"? It was a vow that didn't even last a day. . . . [go ahead, read on]
Time For Women to Exit the GOP? . . .

Sunday talk show lineups
• ABC, This Week: Adm. Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

• CBS, Face The Nation: Former Sec. of State Colin Powell; Dr. Alvin Poussaint, psychiatrist, Harvard University.

• CNN, State Of The Union: Former Sec. of Homeland Security Tom Ridge; Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Richard Shelby (R-AL); and Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND).

• NBC, Meet The Press: Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA).

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I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Saturday, May 23, 2009


“Preventive detention” – Obama’s dilemma
[Kevin Drum] I appreciate the outrage, but this is a genuinely knotty problem. It was knotty under Bush and it remains knotty under Obama. For various reasons, some defensible and some not, Obama is right: there are almost certainly a small number of Guantanamo detainees who are (a) unquestionably terrorists and unquestionably still dedicated to fighting the United States, but (b) impossible to convict in any kind of normal proceeding.

At the same time, they aren't American citizens. They were captured on a foreign battlefield, not U.S. soil. They are, essentially if not legally, prisoners of war in a war with no end. So what do we do?

There is no president of the United States who has ever lived who would release such people. There's no president who would survive doing so even if he did. It's an impossible situation.

So what do we do? This is a case where, unfortunately, I think outrage is too cheap and too easy. We're still left with the question: what do we do?


Ouch. Former Bush admin head of Homeland Security says Cheney and the rest are talking out of their rears – the U.S. is NOT less safe under Obama

Just a few days ago the Conventional Wisdom was, How pitiful is it that the most visible advocate for Republican foreign policy is a disgraced former VP whose popularity is somewhere down in the range with swine flu. Today it’s, Wow, what a great job Cheney is doing; Obama should be worried. Puh – leaze!
Let me get this one straight, Associated Press: Dick Cheney becoming the rhetorical standard bearer for the GOP is a good thing for the party? . . . [read on]
[David Kurtz] Those who subscribe to the Cheney view were marginalized even within the Bush Administration five years ago. They lost that debate. Obama, on the other hand, has taken, as should now be obvious, a much less forceful stance on these issues than many of his supporters had hoped. You might call it a more centrist position (though I'm resistant to that characterization for several reasons). But in any event, it's not necessarily representative of the progressive point of view. Cheney is an outlier. He doesn't represent "one side" of this debate. But if you frame it as a debate between Cheney's extreme position and Obama's very moderate position, you've suddenly dictated an outcome to this so-called debate that is considerably to the right of where the political center is right now on this issue.

How Cheney’s criticism of Obama helps
[Lawrence O’Donnell] This was as sleazy a presentation by a vice president as we've had since Spiro Agnew. This was an absolute abomination. He cannot, ever, frame the other side's position honestly. What you saw with Obama earlier was Obama describes the other side's position fairly. He then goes on to advance his position. Cheney comes out and lies about the other side, it's the only way he can talk. He says that Obama will not use the word 'terrorist,' when Obama does indeed use that word. He pretends that all we did was tough questioning. He says that 9/11 -- he says that 9/11 made everyone take a second look at the threat. That is a lie. Dick Cheney and the President were in possession of memos that said this threat was present, this particular methodology was going to come, that they were going to use airliners. He and the President failed in their first nine months in office to pay any attention to the A.Q. Khan network, who he now wants to take credit for dismantling. What did Cheney do before 9/11? He denies, in this speech, that 9/11 changed him and then describes his very specific activities on 9/11, which were frightening for the Vice President. Then he goes on to say that he thinks about it every day. This guy just has to lie from beginning to end through his setup of his opposition's position in order to advance any of his ideas at all, none of which have any proof to them at all.
[McClatchy] Former Vice President Dick Cheney's defense Thursday of the Bush administration's policies for interrogating suspected terrorists contained omissions, exaggerations and misstatements. . . .

Liz Cheney takes up the flag for torture

[Josh Marshall] Why is Dick Cheney's daughter the only person he can find to go on TV to defend him? . . .
Paul Bedard talks with conservatives who are positively twitterpated with Liz Cheney and want her to launch a political career. . . .

Chicago right-wing DJ volunteers to undergo waterboarding, to show that it ain’t so bad. Guess what?

Your turn, Sean:

The press’s craven deference to Cheney

Pelosi was right

Still going back to the same old well
On Meet The Press, It's High-Ranking Dem Dick Durbin Versus ... Newt Gingrich . . .

The perfect GOP candidate for 2012
How fitting would it be if a Mississippi governor an ex-lobbyist who had no governing experience prior to running for the statehouse were the next GOP presidential nominee? It would confirm that the Republican Party has been reduced to its core. . . .

Yes, we knew this was why Michael Steele was chosen as head of the RNC – the only Republican who could attack Obama on racial grounds without being called racist. Well, I still call it racist . . .


Because they’re godless heathens
Liberty U. bans College Dems . . .

Bonus item: Going after Rush – rude and crude

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***