The confirmation hearings for Sonia Sotomayor start today before the Senate Judiciary Committee. All signals point to a relatively smooth process ahead.
However, keep your eyes on Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions (R-AL). He's the ranking Republican on the Judiciary committee and is leading the charge against Sotomayor. In 1986, Sessions own nomination to become a federal judge was defeated (in a Republican-led Senate) because he was accused of being a racist. Let's just say, the leopard hasn't changed its spots. The Jefferson of 1986 is the Jefferson of 2009. He can't help himself. The nomination of a Latina to the Supreme Court could put him over the edge.
It says a lot about the current state of the GOP that Sessions is the leader of the anti-Sotomayor effort. (It's really not too hard to imagine Sessions in the uniform of a Confederate officer.) In some ways, the hearings will show us more about Sessiona and the GOP than Sotomayor.
Should be a busy week...
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace that the Bush Administration should the Congress should have been told about the secret CIA program to kill Al-Qaeda[...]
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Update: Civil Rights Groups: 'We are watching;' GOP: We don't care.
As much as the rightwing has tried to bash Sotomayor, "They haven't laid a glove on her," in the words of Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), her leading Senate supporter.
The Brennan Center for Justice has a comprehensive report on Judge Sotomayor?s Record in Constitutional Cases by attorney Monica Youn.
Youn's report builds an irrefutable case on Sotomayor?s outstanding performance as a judge, but facts seldom get in the way of the Republican Nutty Party.
Look for GOP Senators to be respectful in the hearings, and for activists to be true to their rightwing, racist, hate-America roots going back to Nixon, to Sen. Joe McCarthy. [By the way anyone been to that POS's grave site lately up in Appleton?]
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Dianne Feinstein is not what I would call a firebrand. Indeed, she is the kind of Democrat that I think gives the Democratic party a bad name, so keen is she to always give credence to Republican talking points.
The head of the CIA has accused former US Vice-President Dick Cheney of concealing an intelligence programme from Congress, a top US senator says.
The existence of the programme, set up after 9/11, was hidden for eight years and even now its nature is not known.
Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein confirmed CIA chief Leon Panetta told Congressional committees he had abandoned the project on hearing of it.
He said that Mr Cheney was behind the secrecy, Sen Feinstein said.
There has been no comment from Mr Cheney.
Make no mistake, Dianne Feinstein defines Blue Dog, there isn?t a Republican or conservative issue out there that doesn?t have her backing. She voted for the wars, she voted for the tax cuts, she voted for the Patriot Act, the list goes on and on, looking at the record without a name attached she would have to be a solid Republican.So, when she says that she is shocked by the behaviour of a Republican Vice President, we should pay attention. This is not a lady known to attack the other party along purely partisan lines.
The fact that Feinstein is shocked to discover the fact that the Bush administration might have strayed outside the law is further proof of her blue dog status. The rest of us have simply accepted that this is what the Bush administration did.
The Bush administration may have broken the law, Sen Feinstein said, adding that Congress should never be kept in the dark, even though the country was still in shock after the 9/11 attacks.
"This is a big problem," she said.
"I understand the need of the day... but I think you weaken your case when you go outside the law."
I am slightly sceptical when I am told that this programme was not "significant". It was certainly significant enough for Cheney to want to keep it secret and significant enough for Panetta to cancel it the very second that he became aware of it.
Details of the newly-revealed secret programme have still not been divulged, but sources say it did not relate to the CIA's rendition programme, interrogation methods or a controversial domestic surveillance project.
Officials quoted by the New York Times say the programme was launched by anti-terror operatives at the CIA soon after the 2001 attacks, and involved planning and training but never became fully operational.
Another unnamed official told AP it was an embryonic intelligence-gathering effort, aimed at yielding intelligence that would be used to conduct covert operations abroad.
But the BBC's Kim Ghattas, in Washington, says there is some debate in the intelligence world about how significant the programme actually was.
I feel quite sure that we will eventually learn what this programme actually entailed.
In March, the respected investigative reporter Seymour Hersh revealed that he had uncovered evidence during research for an as-yet unpublished book that Cheney oversaw an "executive assassination ring" for years.
"It is a special wing of our special operations community that is set up independently. They do not report to anybody, except in the Bush-Cheney days, they reported directly to the Cheney office. ... Congress has no oversight of it," he said at the time.
"It's an executive assassination ring essentially, and it's been going on and on and on. Under President Bush's authority, they've been going into countries, not talking to the ambassador or the CIA station chief, and finding people on a list and executing them and leaving. That's been going on, in the name of all of us."
Whether or not the secret programme involved assassination, an insight in to how radical it might have been was offered by Peter Hoekstra, a leading Republican on the House of Representatives intelligence committee. He told the New York Times that he believed Congress would have approved it in the days immediately after the 9/11 attacks but would have backed away after that.
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The only aspect of her life that is truly different from most nominees is her race-she's Hispanic.
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Here's an appalling, emerging Dept of Veterans Affairs (DVA) scandal in an agency that one would think ought to operate with the force and discipline of a Vince Lombardi-coached offensive line.
But the flag-waving and faux patriotism that is such a pervasive aspect of our culture does not translate into the DVA helping our 26 million veterans as they deserve.
See the following pieces posted over the weekend about a scandal in our neighbor to the northwest:
- VA 'Quack' Scandal in Montana May Be Worst Yet
- Massive Patient Abuse Fraud,Courageous Vets Stand Against Hospital Cover-up
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Could this band of thugs be any creepier? The president of the country actively participating in the arrest of foreign nationals following a failed business deal? Really, what fools in the west ever thought Beijing could be trusted?
China's President Hu Jintao personally endorsed an investigation into global miner Rio Tinto that led to the detention of four of its China-based staff, a newspaper said on Monday, citing Chinese government sources.Can you even imagine if the tables were turned?
The investigation appears to be part of a realignment of how China managed its economy in the wake of the global financial crisis, with spy and security agencies promoted to top strategy-making bodies, the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper said.
The detention a week ago of Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto's top iron ore salesman in China, Australian Stern Hu, and three of his Chinese subordinates has cast a shadow over Australia-China relations and unnerved the iron ore trade.
From Dallas… Farewell day for my family today. Meanwhile, Judge Sonia Sotomayor gets her day. She’ll be easily confirmed, so it will be interesting to hear where Republicans take their line of questioning. Roll Call: … The Senate[...]
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Gail Lowe, an "outspoken creationist" with no visible educational credentials, is Texas Gov. Rick Perry's choice to head the State Board of Education.
"The scientists identify poor media coverage of science as a key problem. And, journalistic analyses of media reporting on global warming agree with that. Thus, the challenge isn?t expert knowledge, but communicating that knowledge to the general public with a thick and confusing media filter while dealing with determined disinformation campaigns."
-- A Siegel, in a Get Energy Smart Now blogpost,
"Republicans reject Science; Scientists reject Republicans"
This is what comes of setting the bar low. All laughingstock Texas Gov. Rick Perry, had to do was get out the word that he was thinking of appointing a fugitive mental patient to chair the State Board of Education, and his actual designation of a merely unqualified intellectual hooligan becomes a sort of act of "moderation." At the same time, since there's nothing remotely moderate about the designee, it seems unlikely that he's risking fallout from the neanderthals whose hearts and minds he's wooing in his struggle to win renomination against the challenge of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.
As our Capitol Annex colleague Vince Leibowitz noted in connection with the reports that certifiable wingnut loon Cynthia Dunbar was being considered for the job: "If Perry does this, it is part of his ongoing campaign to govern Texas solely for the amusement of one million Republican Primary voters who will likely decide between Perry and U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison next March. Perry?s got to shore up his rightwing base, and a Cynthia Dunbar appointment would no doubt earn him a lot of points in that camp."
Rachel Weiner reported yesterday on the Huffington Post:
Gail Lowe: Perry Picks Creationist To Run State Education Board
Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) has chosen Gail Lowe, an outspoken creationist, to run the state's Board of Education.
It was actually the less controversial choice. Cynthia Dunbar, reportedly under consideration for the post, believed government should be guided by a "biblical litmus test" and thought public education was a "subtly deceptive tool of perversion." (She home-schooled her own children.) She has also endorsed conspiracy theories suggesting President Obama is not a natural-born citizen.
Lowe, on the other hand, thinks evolution should be taught and "kids ought to be able to hold religious beliefs and still study science without any conflict." But in 2008, she took the position that "biology textbooks which do not teach both the scientific strengths and weaknesses of the theory of evolution must be rejected by the board." She has voted against new textbooks that do not contain those "weaknesses." She is a newspaper editor, not a teacher.
Lowe will replace Don McLeroy, another self-described creationist and dentist whose reappointment was blocked by Democrats. He had been chairman of the board since 2007 and will remain a member.
* ?Both scientists and the public overwhelmingly say it is appropriate for scientists to become active in political debates about such issues as nuclear power or stem cell research.?
* While scientists self-identify as liberal, most American?s don?t see scientists as liberal. Thus, engaged experts might view themselves as politically liberal, the general public is likely not to view them in this way.
* Scientists are the third most respected profession (after the military and teachers)
These three combine to suggest that scientists could be strong spokesman for ?liberal?, ?progressive?, ?science-based? policy.
As Stephen Colbert put it, ?reality has a well-known liberal bias?. Scientists work in, specialize in understanding reality. Should it shock anyone that they have a liberal bias?
Now, disinformation on key issues clearly has had an impact. 87% of scientists state that evolution is the result of natural processes with just 32 percent public agreement.[T]he near consensus among scientists about global warming is not mirrored in the general public. While 84% of scientists say the earth is getting warmer because of human activity such as burning fossil fuels, just 49% of the public agrees.
These sort of significant gaps between expert and informed knowledge and general, public view should be -- are -- troubling. The scientists identify poor media coverage of science as a key problem. And, journalistic analyses of media reporting on global warming agree with that. Thus, the challenge isn?t expert knowledge, but communicating that knowledge to the general public with a thick and confusing media filter while dealing with determined disinformation campaigns.