Tag Archives: sonia sotomayor

Long Live the King

This week was a thriller.

Bernie Madoff thought he was a smooth criminal. Turns out he’s just bad. Really, really bad.

SCOTUS says it don’t matter if you’re black or white.

The House has a bill it hopes will heal the world. Will the Senate tell them to beat it? (No one, after all, wants to be defeated.)

LGBT groups think Obama secretly wishes they’d just keep it in the closet.

And Mark Sanford is starting with the man in the mirror. He’s asking him to change his ways.

But we begin this week with a milestone in what’s become a millstone. American troops are withdrawing from Iraqi towns and cities today, effectively ending U.S. occupation of those areas.

The drawdown is part of a Bush Administration plan sketched out this time last year. Dick Cheney supported the plan at the time, but since the responsibility now belongs to the Democrats, he says it puts America in danger.

Iraq is the main course on a full foreign policy plate. President Obama condemned a weekend Honduran coup, and Iran is still wracked by fear—not to mention increasingly jittery about foreign interference.

Despite turmoil abroad, domestic issues take may top billing this week. Yesterday, two court verdicts set the tone. First, the Supreme Court overturned a lower court’s ruling against New Haven, Conn. firefighters who claimed they were passed over for promotion because they are white.

The lower court ruling was issued by a panel of three judges including Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. Will this ruling threaten her confirmation? Doubtful. Will it make the hearings more interesting? Darn tootin’.

The other verdict came from Manhattan, where convicted swindler Bernard Madoff got the maximum: 150 years in prison. Madoff cheated 8,000 investors out of hundreds of billions of dollars. His case has become a focus for Americans who’ve lost jobs, homes, and retirements to economic forces beyond their control. Madoff himself is now a symbol of greed and crookedness, and few people were sad to see him jailed.

Back in Washington, Congress turns its attention from the environment to healthcare, which is shaping up to be an ugly fight. Senate Republican leaders held a press conference today to declare a need for reform and a desire to block whatever Democrats come up with.

Speaking of the Democrats, President Obama has again turned the details of a major legislative priority over to a rudderless Congress (see this week’s Top 5). So far the strategy has worked, but eventually the House may need more direction from the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Other loose ends may affect the balance of power in Washington. Mark Sanford isn’t quitting (yet), but his plans to run for the White House in three years are on indefinite hold. He’s the second potential GOP 2012-er to flame out in the last two weeks.

The aforementioned House climate change bill may face well-entrenched opposition in the Senate. President Obama showed praiseworthy resistance (in the Blog’s humble opinion) to the House version’s protectionist clauses. Do the Democrats know what they think about trade policy?

And Al Franken is finally a Senator, but illnesses still keep Dems short of 60 votes.

And so the chaos continues. One final note this week: the Blog will be out of the office for the next month. Dry your tears. If you want to keep track of the Blog’s travels, check our sister blog.

See you in August.

Top 5

The week’s best political reporting and commentary…

CNN: “Jenny Sanford becomes the new political paradigm” by Gloria Borger.

The New York Times: “Baucus Grabs Pacesetter Role on Health Bill” by David Herszenhorn.

The Washington Post: “Despite Majority, Obama to be Tested” by Murray and Balz.

Real Clear Politics: “Alice in Medical Care” by Thomas Sowell.

TIME: “FDR: Getting it Right” by Bill Clinton.

A Chill in the Air

Summer officially starts this weekend, but it’s getting cold out there.

The AMA reacted coolly to President Obama’s healthcare plan. Iran’s elections may have a chilling effect on its relations with the United States. Senate Republicans want to freeze the Sotomayor proceedings until fall. And Sarah Palin is going all ice queen on David Letterman.

Bundle up, dear reader.

The president addressed the American Medical Association’s annual convention yesterday, outlining his healthcare policy to a new level of detail. If doctors, hospitals, and insurers can cut care costs, the president offered, government will also work to lower medical liabilities (right now, a doctor’s greatest expense is malpractice insurance).

Here’s where it gets frosty: the president said his plan may cost $1 trillion. For a federal budget buckling under the weight of bailouts, bankruptcies, and decade-old tax breaks, another trillion-dollar program makes everyone shudder. Think spending may become a political problem for the Democrats? You ain’t the only one.

Congress will soon undertake healthcare reform, but this week, it’s focused on the environment and new financial regulations. And Sonia: the GOP is hoping to stall for time, but it’s running up against a concerted White House media strategy.

The president’s primary international concern is (still) west Asia. Iran’s presidential elections have been fascinating to watch.

The incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is a bigot who thinks America sucks. The challenger, Mir Hossain Mousavi, quit politics 15 years ago to become an architect. Mousavi wasn’t supposed to be the main opposition, but former president Mohammed Khatami thought he had no chance this go-round, so he dropped out.

That’s because until recently, Ahmadinejad was very popular. He is a hero to rural conservatives and the urban poor, whose causes he championed. But 70 percent of Iran is under 30 years old, and many young people find Iran’s current brand of theocratic authoritarianism suffocating. They want freedom, and Mousavi is their man.

Ahmadinejad won, but it looks like he may have cheated. Mousavi supporters have taken to the streets, and Iran’s ruling clerics have opened an investigation into the election results. New elections, or even hard evidence of cheating, are unlikely. But it’s interesting to watch a government testing out the mechanics of democracy, especially a government at the center of the world stage.

Meanwhile, there may be “tough months” ahead for Afghanistan, according to Gen. David Petraeus, who oughta know. The Blog wonders: “tough” as opposed to what? All the easy living Afghanistan’s been soaking up lately?

Pakistan isn’t doing much better.

Even our allies are raising a ruckus. Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu responded to President Obama’s recent call for a Palestinian state with a big “pfff.” Actually, Netanyahu said the Palestinians could have their own country, so long as that country didn’t have an army and so long as Israelis could continue trying to take over Palestine one settlement at a time. The Palestinians—and the Blog—find his munificence overwhelming.

Twenty years ago, the New York Times’ Tom Friedman (see this week’s Top 5) wrote that Israel’s big problem is that it can only have two of the three things it wants: to be 100 percent Jewish, 100 percent democratic, and occupy 100 percent of all the territory of Old Testament Israel. It can have any two, Friedman argues, but not all three. Israel has still not chosen.

Finally this week, the Blog presents a moment of absurdity. Guess who is conservatives’ newest worst enemy? This moment of absurdity has been brought to you by Sarah Palin, defender of all that is right.

Top 5

The week’s best political reporting and commentary…

The Washington Post: “Muted Response Reflects U.S. Diplomatic Dilemma” by Scott Tyson.

The New York Times: “Winds of Change?” by Tom Friedman.

Economist: “Tehran Rising.

Newsweek: “The Micawbers and Mrs. Roosevelt” by Jon Meacham.

Wall Street Journal: “White House Sends Signals on Deficit” by Gerald Seib.

Meet Sonia

Say it loud and there’s music playing. Say it soft, and it’s almost like praying.

Sotomayor.

Suddenly that name will never be the same for us.

Her supporters and opponents are already eyeing one another like Jets and Sharks, and Dick Cheney says when you’re a Jet you’re a Jet all the way. But ABC News’ Rick Klein Notes the coming rumble isn’t “Democrats versus Republicans; it’s Republicans versus conservative interest groups.”

Before the confirmation song and dance begins, take a look at her biography and her qualifications, dear reader. And ask yourself this: if we cast Sotomayor as Maria, SCOTUS as Tony, and Obama as Bernardo, is who plays Officer Krupke? Wolf Blitzer?

Now consider the politics. Bench nominees must have sterling jurisprudential credentials, but politically, picking a justice is about which fights you want and which fights you don’t.

The fight Team Obama doesn’t want is with women. Since Justice O’Connor retired, there has been but one woman on the Bench. Candidate Obama was accused of sexism, by the left when he took a no-holds-barred approach to the primary, then again over his VP choice; and from the right, and their upholder of feminism.

Sotomayor allows the White House to bolster its credentials with the fairer sex. But Sotomayor’s nomination isn’t just good defense. It’s good offense.

Sotomayor puts the Republican Party in a bind. The GOP has struggled to attract women voters, as well as Latinos, who make up the nation’s largest ethnic minority and whose share of the population continues to grow. If the GOP shot down the first Hispanic woman Court nominee, women and Latinos might vote Democrat for a generation. The GOP might never recover.

But a Supreme Court nomination is a big deal, and conservative interest groups will expect GOP senators to vociferously oppose Sotomayor. Roll over, they will say, and you can forget about our campaign contributions the next time you run for re-election.

For now, the GOP may simply say there isn’t enough time to hold confirmation hearings before the August recess. A delay into the fall would allow the Republican caucus time to regroup. When the hearings finally come, expect more quotes like this one from Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.): “She certainly stands in a good stead, but I do think it’s potentially a good teaching moment for the country.”

The Sotomayor announcement came at a welcome time for several folks. Take the junior senator from Illinois, for example. Roland Burris was caught promising a campaign contribution to Rod Blagojevich at the same time he was asking the now-deposed governor for the senate seat vacated by Obama.

Also, GM. n the 100 day anniversary of the stimulus package, GM has unveiled a plan to make the United States a 70 percent shareholder. If your broker advised you to buy 70 percent of General Motors, how long would he continue to be your broker?

And don’t forget Chris Dodd. The GOP hasn’t.

Finally this week, a study has found each family with health insurance pays $1017 each year to cover the uninsured. This may spur congressional action on the president’s healthcare plan.

Top 5

The week’s best political reporting and commentary…

The New York Times: “Sotomayor’s Rulings are Exhaustive but Often Narrow” by Adam Liptak.

Politico: “Right Divided Over Court Fight” by Jeanne Cummings.

Real Clear Politics: “One Worthy Debate” by David Broder.

Newsweek: “They May Not Want the Bomb” by Fareed Zakaria.

Des Moines Register: “Father, an Old Soldier, in Spirit is Made Whole” by Nancy Dugan.