Mojo - July 2009

Sotomayor for the Prosecution

| Wed Jul. 15, 2009 3:18 PM EDT

Sonia Sotomayor's all-but-certain confirmation will be a notable victory for Democrats, and for the cause of diversity on the nation's highest court. Whether it will be a victory for criminal justice is another question—one that seems to matter little to most of her liberal supporters. Read the progressive case against Sotomayor here.

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Sen. Whitehouse No Habla Espanol

| Wed Jul. 15, 2009 3:15 PM EDT

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) has done a good bit of babbling over Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor this week. He's so proud of her that today, he confessed that she gives him "piel de gallina." That would be "goosebumps" for all you gringos out there.  The good senator was obviously trying to be nice by, you know, speaking her language. But throwing bad Spanish at the country's first Latina Supreme Court nominee is akin to questioning Justice Clarence Thomas in Ebonics. How much more patronizing can these guys be? Next we'll have Sen. Kyl demanding, "comprende Senora?" after one of his windy questions. It just shows why it might be a good idea to have a little more diversity in high places. A "wise Latina" might have prevented Whitehouse from making such an embarassing gaffe. Or at least she could help him with his accent.

Follow our live coverage of the Sotomayor hearings here.

 

Sotomayor Confirmation Hearings: Video and Live Blog

| Wed Jul. 15, 2009 12:44 PM EDT

Your friendly D.C. bureau legal affairs reporter, Stephanie Mencimer, has been reporting live from inside the Sotomayor confirmation hearings. We've teamed up with TheUptake.org to bring you live video of the hearing (plus Twitter updates from Stephanie and David Corn in the crawl). Also check out the live blog below the video. You can find all that here.  If you missed Monday or Tuesday's action, check out the wrap-ups: Pride and Prejudice and Where Did Sotomayor's Empathy Go? Plus, two video highlights from the week so far: Sonia knows nunchucks, and Al Franken's flop.

GOP Sen. Coburn to Sotomayor: "You Have Lots of 'Splainin To Do" (Video)

| Wed Jul. 15, 2009 12:03 PM EDT

Whether you think it's racist or not, Sen. Tom Coburn's (R-Okla.) line in today's confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor certainly comes with some ethnic baggage:

Depressing F-22 Update No. 463

| Wed Jul. 15, 2009 11:31 AM EDT

OK, maybe there haven't been quite that many. But lawmakers trying to deal a death blow to the F-22 fighter jet suffered yet another setback on Wednesday. The Senate was supposed to vote today on an amendment from Sens. Carl Levin and John McCain that would strip funding for the outmoded, overpriced plane from this year's defense authorization bill. (Obama has threatened to veto the legislation if it contains F-22 money.) There was a lot of last-minute arm-twisting yesterday, but the word on Tuesday night was that Levin and McCain had mustered just enough votes to kill the plane.

But not so fast! I've just heard that Levin has withdrawn the amendment for now, apparently because it somehow got caught in the middle of a separate battle brewing in the Senate over whether to add hate-crimes legislation to the defense legislation. Of course, maybe Levin just realized that he didn't have the votes after all. That wouldn't be so surprising—Lockheed and Boeing, which make the planes, have showered nearly $1.4 million on 50 senators so far this year. Levin plans to try again sometime later this week—I'll let you know what happens.

The Sotomayor News from Planet Conservative

| Wed Jul. 15, 2009 10:47 AM EDT

Richard Viguerie, one of the founders of the modern conservative movement and a direct-mail king of the right, thinks the Senate GOPers are doing a pretty good job at the confirmation hearings of Justice-to-be Sonia Sotomayor. He put out this statement:

Led by Senator Jeff Sessions, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee are starting to do what the McCain campaign and the Republican Party failed to do in the 2008 election: defining Barack Obama, his ideology, and his unconstitutional, authoritarian approach to governing.

By making the Sotomayor confirmation hearings about President Obama's governing philosophy—including his beliefs that judges should change constitutional principles and the law—Senate Republicans are showing that Obama's views are radical and dangerous. As Senator Sessions said at the hearings, those views are so inconsistent with the Constitution that they could be 'disqualifying' for Obama's judicial nominee.

Win, lose, or draw in this confirmation battle, that approach will pay huge dividends for Republicans. Exposing the President in these hearings will help Americans better understand that, constitutionally speaking, Obama cannot be trusted...

So hats off to Senator Sessions and the other Republicans who 'get it'.

Wow. He really is watching a different channel. How many Americans—of the small percentage of those who have watched the hearings for any extended length of time—are jumping off their couches and saying, "Gee, after seeing Senator John Kyl grill her, I now realize that Obaama is destroying the Constitution and cannot be trusted. Get me my pitchfork!"

I respect Viguerie for constantly putting ideology ahead of partisan loyalty. He blasts the Republicans whenever he thinks they're squishy. But if he believes the hearing so far has been a net win for the Rs, he's engaged in observational activism. A strict constructionist reading of the proceedings would score the GOPers as marginally significant at best. They have done nothing to bruise Sotomayor. They have done nothing to make the hearings a noticeable platform for advancing their retro views about the role of judges. I even wonder if the conservative base is following the hearings closely enough to be fired up by whatever Jeff Sessions and the others are doing, as Viguerie suggests. Let's see if GOP candidates next year run on these hearings. If that's what Viguerie is hoping for, I'll bet he's disappointed.

You can follow David Corn's postings and media appearances via Twitter.
 

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We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for July 15, 2009

Wed Jul. 15, 2009 9:33 AM EDT

A member of the Afghan national army calls for help as a member of the Afghan border police fires at anti-Afghanistan forces in the mountains surrounding Barge Matal in Afghanistan's eastern Nuristan province, during Operation Mountain Fire, July 12. Afghan national security forces and International Security Assistance Force's fought side-by- side during the gun battle, which started in late afternoon and lasted until coalition and ANSF forces forced the insurgents to flee in the early evening. Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Matthew C. Moeller, 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.

Video: America on $195 a Week

| Tue Jul. 14, 2009 5:44 PM EDT

Sasha Abramsky, a frequent Mother Jones writer and the author of Breadline USA: The Hidden Scandal of American Hunger and How to Fix It, went on GRITtv with Laura Flanders Monday to talk about hunger and homelessness in the US. Joining him on a larger panel was Aubretia Edick, the Wal-Mart employee he wrote about here.

Watch the full video here, or a snippet below:

GRITtv broadcasts weekdays on satellite TV (Dish Network Ch. 9415 Free Speech TV), on cable, public television, and online at GRITtv.org and TheNation.com. Follow GRITtv or GritLaura on Twitter.com.

David Corn Talks Torture on NPR

Tue Jul. 14, 2009 4:27 PM EDT

On NPR today, MoJo's David Corn discussed Cheney, wiretapping, and torture.

To listen, click here. And read David's tweets about the segment below:

On NPR Diane Rehm Show (@drshow) I urged listeners to read IGs report on Bush's warrantless wiretapping & promised link http://bit.ly/O1nya about 4 hours ago from web

I'll be doing NPR's Diane Rehm Show (@drshow) in 16 minutes. Subject: torture, assassination, Cheney. You know, the usual.

Video: Sonia Knows Nunchucks

| Tue Jul. 14, 2009 4:11 PM EDT

Even for a legal nerd like myself, Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearings have been fairly dull. So our friends at The UpTake took the liberty of spicing up the day's most interesting back-and-forth—between Sotomayor and Utah's Orrin Hatch.

So, there you have it: Sonia Sotomayor is Michelangelo.