Mojo - June 2009

Larry Summers is Tired of All These Meetings

| Mon Jun. 1, 2009 10:57 AM EDT

Is Larry Summers spending too much time out at the clubs on work nights? It certainly seems that way. Back in April Summers, President Barack Obama's top economic adviser, was caught napping during a meeting on regulating the credit card industry. Last week, Summers was at it again, refusing to lose his right to snooze during a hurricane preparedness meeting. In a true stroke of genius, the White House has posted the latest photo of sleepy Larry on its website, so we can reproduce it for you here. (That's him to the right of the big chair that takes up most of the foreground.) Maybe the publicity is Obama's way of giving Summers a bit of a nudge?

(h/t Dealbreaker)

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Sotomayor Judges Race Cases Just Like a White Guy

| Mon Jun. 1, 2009 10:24 AM EDT

Republicans may have decided to run off the rails and make race the focus of their attacks on the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, but they are going to have to dig deep to find some evidence to support their claims that she would be biased in favor minority plaintiffs appearing before her.  Tom Goldstein over at Scotusblog, one of the nation's most kick-ass  Supreme Court lawyers and bloggers, has studied every single one of Sotomayor's opinions that are even remotely connected to a racial issue. And what did he find?

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 75 cases where Sotomayor sat on a panel of judges that rejected a discrimination claim, Sotomayor dissented a whopping two times. None of this is much of a surprise. Plaintiffs in federal employment discrimination cases almost always get slaughtered, and Sotomayor's presence on the 2nd Circuit certainly doesn't seem to have helped their cause much. If nothing else, Goldstein's data ought to put to rest any GOP charges that Sotomayor is a radical activist looking to somehow tilt the rink because of her Puerto Rican heritage. At least when it comes to discrimination claims, Sotomayor's work is virtually indistinguishable from all the other white guys she works with.

Obama, the Abu Ghraib Rape Photos, and the Press

| Mon Jun. 1, 2009 9:36 AM EDT

It's become abundantly clear since last week that Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, was right to criticize the British newspaper the Telegraph for its story claiming that torture photos President Barack Obama is refusing to release "show rape." General Antonio Taguba, the Telegraph's main source for its story, has since told Salon's Mark Benjamin that he was quoted out of context; he hasn't seen the specific photos Obama is withholding. It turns out Taguba was talking about a different set of images, a number of which have already been published by Salon and officially released by the government, that Taguba saw while he was investigating abuses at Abu Ghraib in 2004.

While Gibbs' criticism of the Telegraph in this specific instance was certainly warranted, it's not at all clear that Taguba's clarification will make things any easier for the White House.

How Many Late-Term Abortion Doctors are Left?

| Mon Jun. 1, 2009 8:25 AM EDT

With the murder of Dr. George Tiller, women in desperate straits will find it even harder to locate a practitioner to terminate a pregnancy past a certain point (most physicians won't do them past about the first trimester). And if you wonder why a woman would need such a late abortion, you need to do some reading. A few years back, we profiled Dr. William Rashbaum, another late-term provider who worried a great deal about who would replace him. He has since passed away.

Back in his office, Rashbaum faces his next crisis: A shaky 29-year-old mother of two, sitting next to her husband, is set the following day to abort her 18-week fetus, which is developing without a brain. Visibly uncomfortable, the Long Island couple begins talking about referrals and medical history. The petite and pretty blond woman, a black T-shirt stretched over her bulging stomach, tells Rashbaum it was hard finding a doctor to end her pregnancy at this stage. He cuts off the measured discussion, pops in his hearing aid, and launches in: "The first thing I need to tell you is that you must mourn." The words, or maybe it's the gravelly voice, act as a cathartic, and the woman begins to cry. He reassures her that it's okay to be angry. What's happening to her isn't right or fair. Rashbaum also encourages her to kick her husband in the groin if at any point he tells her not to cry. Her fears quickly bubble to the surface. "Am I a freak?" she asks, insisting that she's great at pregnancy, even forgoing sugarless gum to ensure the health of her unborn child. She says she knows she couldn't have prevented this abnormality but still asks if she did something wrong. "Yeah," Rashbaum quips. "You thought bad thoughts." The woman and her husband laugh nervously, but they're laughing. There are other fears. They want to have another child (they have two boys; this was a girl). He tells them that out of 21,000 late-term abortions he has performed, only 18 women lost the ability to have children. He has also never lost a patient and says he'll be furious with her if she's the first.... After more nervous laughter, the woman broaches her greatest fears. She's not sure she wants to know the details. It's difficult to relinquish her role of protecting a fetus that has grown inside her for four and a half months. Welling up with tears again, she asks if it will feel pain. She doesn't want to hear much more.

 

 

Abortion Doctor Murder Suspect: The Far-Right Connections

| Mon Jun. 1, 2009 1:39 AM EDT

The Kansas City Star's Judy Thomas knows more about the extremist fringes of the anti-abortion movement, and about the radical far right in the Midwest, than just about anyone. By last night, Thomas had already uncovered a wealth of information linking the suspect in the George Tiller murder to these violent netherworlds.

Scott P. Roeder was arrested three hours after Tiller, a well-known abortion provider, was shot to death in the lobby of his church. As Thomas documents, the suspect was labeled a "fanatic" even by some other right-to-lifers, and reportedly supported the idea of "justifiable homicide" to prevent abortions. Roeder paid prison visits to the woman who shot and wounded Tiller in 1993, and wrote a Web post declaring, "Tiller is the concentration camp 'Mengele' of our day and needs to be stopped before he and those who protect him bring judgment upon our nation."

Roeder was also involved in a militia-style anti-government group called the Freemen. Thomas writes:

"Freemen" was a term adopted by those who claimed sovereignty from government jurisdiction and operated under their own legal system, which they called common-law courts. Adherents declared themselves exempt from laws, regulations and taxes and often filed liens against judges, prosecutors and others, claiming that money was owed to them as compensation.

In April 1996, Roeder was arrested in Topeka after Shawnee County sheriff's deputies stopped him for not having a proper license plate. In his car, officers said they found ammunition, a blasting cap, a fuse cord, a one-pound can of gunpowder and two 9-volt batteries, with one connected to a switch that could have been used to trigger a bomb.

Jim Jimerson, supervisor of the Kansas City ATF's bomb and arson unit, worked on the case.

"There wasn't enough there to blow up a building,'' Jimerson said at the time, "but it could make several powerful pipe bombs...There was definitely enough there to kill somebody.''

For this, Roeder was sentenced to two years of supervised probation, and "ordered to dissociate himself from anti-government groups that advocated violence."

There's a lot more damning information in Thomas' piece. After you read the whole thing, take a moment to think about how much time the FBI spent tracking "eco-terrorists" and adding infants, combat veterans, and members of Congress to their million-name terrorist watch list--when they could have been keeping an eye on the likes of Scott Roeder.