Archive | May, 2009

poliPicks

29 May

polipicks

You know summer is creeping up on you when you have a couple of weddings in your schedule for the months ahead. Must be the warm weather that makes people feel extra comitted. Anywho, my weekend will begin a tad early for that reason (not my own, don’t worry). But I still have some good Picks to share with y’all. Some funny, some vindicating, and even some intriguing pieces to enjoy while you and I drink our respective coffees tomorrow morning (but for slightly different reason0.) See you at Denny’s! I’ll be the one with the black suit and red eyes.

  • Berlusconi is the Italian Bubba: Their is an election in Italy coming up next week. In case you haven’t heard, frisky PM Silvio Berlusconi is in slightly warm water for an alleged affair he had with an 18-year old model. First off, this is not new to him or Italian politics, and most people have laughed it off (he even trashed his wife for whining about it). Second, that is how Silvio is, a grabby, raunchy old man. Still, he contends the glove does not fit.
  • Breaking: Nader had campaign money in 2004: Ralph Nader is claiming that Terry McAuliffe, the former DNC chair, H. Clinton campaign chair, and current VA gubernatorial candidate, offered Nader money in 2004 if he would pull out of 19 battleground states. Nader, being the beacon of purity that he is, said “No” right away. McAuliffe has not denied this claim outright. It’s interesting to see such honor from Nader in refusing this pay-to-play when in the same year he accepted money from a GOP that hoped to take support away from Kerry through Nader. Riiight.
  • Waterboarding is not torture–until you try it: Chicago-based conservative radio host, “Mancow,” is known for being a loudmouth and a bit of a nut. But at least he put the water where his mouth is. He got waterboarded to prove it wasn’t torture, and well: “It is way worse than I thought it would be, and that’s no joke,” Mancow told listeners. “It is such an odd feeling to have water poured down your nose with your head back…It was instantaneous…and I don’t want to say this: absolutely torture.”
  • Unemployment in your state: Know the number associated with your pain. From applicant.com, this clear and useful breakdown of state-specific unemployment numbers should, at the very least, help you understand how screwed you (we) are. Here I come, Iowa and 5.1% unemployment!
  • Openly gay high school student is elected prom queen: This is probably one of the best stories I’ve heard this week. In LA, an openly gay teen ran for prom queen, and won over an initially resistant crowd with a wonderful and honest speech. This should be made into a movie–having happened in LA, I give it three weeks tops until its release.
  • Tweet of the day: brought to you by Newark, NJ’s awesome Mayor, @CoryBooker:

“Sleep” and I broke up a few nights ago. I’m dating “Coffee” now. She’s Hot!

Feel free to follow me on Twitter, @Jzippy

(I strongly suggest watching “Street Fight” if you want to truly know about the grit and intellect of this promising Mayor).

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The Sotomayor "reverse racist" argument

28 May

Leave it to Rush and Newt to articulate some sound arguments against a Supreme Court pick. But enough about sarcasm.

The decision to confirm or not Sonia Sotomayor as the next Supreme Court Justice might hinge on a few dozen words she uttered more than 8 years ago. At a UC Berkeley speech in 2001 she said that:

“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.”

Scandalous! Acknowledging in a measured way that there are inherent differences and complications between the life experiences of different races should NEVER be brought up in public discourse. But there is more. She opened her speech by saying that:

“Latinas are making a lot of progress in the old-boy network.”

Appalling. She has some nerve being proud of her heritage AND saying women have made headway in a male-dominated field (14% of professionals in the legal field were women in 1975; 40% in 2002–headway? ha!).

This is at the crux of the right-wing’s problem to woo minority voters. They don’t get there is no such thing as an “American” life story, just as they ignore class differences for their own benefit. They are caught in a  Leave it to Beaver episode.

Sotomayor is now being called a “reverse racist” by the likes of Limbaugh and Gingrich (reverse racist? does that mean a race is racist toward her? or that she does not have hatred or intolerance for other races? can someone get this people a Webster?).

The pride she has in being a Latina and thriving in America is being pigeonholed by ideologues and hot-air propagandists as a hatred of white people. She apparently can only be proud of being an American, period. Not Latina, not Puerto Rican, not a woman, not of being raised by a single mother, not of living in an unsafe and torn down neighborhood as a child, and most definitely not all these things combined. She can only be proud of being an American judge who graduated from Princeton and Yale. Context is luxury.

Her speech does not infer anything close to racism. It is, like here, fairly conservative in its language and measured in its tone. Anyone who is willing to base their vote on these handful of words should be put on a poster with the heading “Really?!” in bold, italics AND underined lettering(making sure all graphic designers cringe).

Hmm Graph of the Day: Unemployed Moms

28 May

The results of a recent Burau of Labor Statistics report posted by The Economix blog:

What’s the deal here?

There are more single mothers than single fathers out there (30% of mothers vis a vis 10% of fathers), and jobs that fit the needs of a single parent (taking time off or having a flexible schedule to take care of their children) are harder to find. Ladies, feel free to rub this in the face of all the jerky males you encounter today.

New Torture Pics "show rape"

28 May

The allegations that the newest batch of torture photos, the ones Obama turned around and decided not to release after all, are much worse than the previous batch are gaining steam. If this is true, that the newest pictures depicted in gruesome detail some unthinkable conduct by our armed services against prisoners, it gives Obama a very good reason to keep these pics under wraps: don’t try to drown out the fire with gasoline.

From The Daily Telegraph:

At least one picture shows an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner while another is said to show a male translator raping a male detainee.

Further photographs are said to depict sexual assaults on prisoners with objects including a truncheon, wire and a phosphorescent tube.

Another apparently shows a female prisoner having her clothing forcibly removed to expose her breasts.

As noted before in this blog, the reasons to keep the photos confidential outweigh the reasons to release them. As retired-Maj. Gen. Taguba put it:

“I am not sure what purpose their release would serve other than a legal one and the consequence would be to imperil our troops, the only protectors of our foreign policy, when we most need them, and British troops who are trying to build security in Afghanistan.

Dear John, Thanks for the Layoff

27 May

From BusinessWeek, a Dear John letter to a former boss points out a good thing about being laid off: you get a life (and also spend way too much time with your family):

We thought this layoff would be a crushing financial blow and opted to hand-make all of our Christmas gifts. They were a huge hit with our family and friends and we spent several wonderful days together as a family creating them. We didn’t at all miss the experience of circling the mall for hours looking for a parking spot. The kids didn’t sit on Santa’s lap at Macy’s but we did run into him at a neighborhood ice hockey game and snapped a photo. I’ll mail you one.

[…] With no last-minute time crunches at the office, my kids don’t think that food comes from a box in the freezer. We cook food that looks like the way it naturally grew. I have more peace of mind than I can ever remember. I’m reading books for fun; I’m indulging in hobbies and spending time with friends and family. I’ve reconnected with old friends and I volunteer with causes that are important to me.

This is the most rewarding period of my life, ever.

GM, Truly America's Car Company

27 May

GM’s World Headquarters, Detroit, MI. photocredit: mandj98

The rumors around GM’s impending bankruptcy are like rumors about Clay Aiken’s sexuality. Exactly. Now the suspense (if any) is over, and GM looks ready to sign on the dotted line. Chapter 11, meet America’s dinasour.

There is still hope, but it’s unlikely anything will change the course of this doomed ship. There is a June 1st deadline the government imposed on GM to either restructure or file. After failed attempts to woo bondholders to eat up $27b of their debt for a 10% share of the company, and a soon-to-be ridiculed offer made to union workers, GM will probably be mostly owned by taxpayers by June 2nd.

The US government will effectively own 70% of GM. 70%! This makes the American taxpayer the primary shareholder of one of the largest companies in the country. The possibility that Obama would go Stalin or Chavez with GM is unlikely (no purges or profiteering should be expected), but the acquisition of GM makes many other of the administration’s ambitions, like green energy and the promotion of hybrids, much more feasible.

The recent meeting between Obama and auto executives (the same which David Brooks panned), promised all cars will  meet higher mileage per gallon standards (35.5mpg) by 2016. This, in addition to the probable adoption of GM and the creeping gas prices, might make Obama’s job a bit easier. The fallout of the demise of an American icon might end up being the resurgence of a cleaner, better auto industry.

There is, of course, the whole “socialism” chant opponents of the administration might sing, and the possibility that GM is unrescuable, no matter how much money the government injects into it (current estimates are above $50b). But what’s the chance of that happening? Happy thoughts.

SCOTUS Pick Reflects Obama's Politics

26 May

photocredit: Pete Souza, White House

As mentioned previously, the chance to send a judge to the Supreme Court is one of the surest ways a president can create a legacy. The pick also reflects the president’s attitude and, often but not always, their mentality. With Sonia Sotomayor, Obama is playing it smart.

His pick of what many Republicans considered the most liberal of the finalists he was considering (Napolitano, Kagan, and Wood being the other three) is bold and savvy. Even though she is likely to draw Republican fire because of her left-lean, her life experience, race, and sex make her the hardest pick to block. She represents another historic opportunity that many Republicans will think twice about going against.

Overall, she appears to be similar to Obama in his pragmatic, conciliatory approach to decision-making. She might be a perfect fit for the chair Souter is leaving behind.

There may be the usual hiccups during the vetting process, and the Obama administration is hopefully wiser by now (cough, Daschle, cough, Richardson). But according to some sources, Obama has learned from his mistakes and thoroughly examined his first major judicial decision.

Although the press reported that he had interviewed Wood, Sotomayor was at the White House for seven hours on Thursday without being discovered by reporters.

An Obama aide said the president, who interviewed her for an hour in the Oval Office, “was blown away by her — her personal story, her sharp intellect and confidence, and her experience as prosecutor, trial judge, litigator and appellate judge.”

There was a “full vet,” according to a senior administration official, and both her taxes and health were examined.

Sotomayor has diabetes, and White House aides consulted both her doctor and other doctors to ensure that she was fit to serve.

“I don’t think there’s any stone that’s been left unturned,” said a senior administration official.

This is a particularly hard pick to block. Anyone going against Sotomayor cannot claim she lacks judicial experience necessary for the highest court in the land (she doesn’t), nor that she is too radical a pick (her record doesn’t show that), nor that she is unfit to serve in such an important role (her diabetes might come up, but I doubt it). Any mention of “unfit” might easily be perceived as a euphemism for a much more racist or sexist argument. All in all, she should ride the confirmation process unscathed.

Sotomayor’s pick is also politically cunning. The growing Latino base, which last election switched allegiance back to the Democrats, is sure to be pleased with such a historic nod to progress. This also undercuts the GOP’s (patronizing) attempts at wooing those votes. Again, any attack lobbied against Sotomayor can easily be considered a disrespectful argument against the Latino community as a whole.

But her greatest asset might be her life experience. Coming to an institution that looks upon society from an Ivory Tower, Sotomayor’s story is refreshing and welcome. A Puerto Rican raised in the Bronx by her mother, spent her life in public housing, graduated from Princeton (summa cum lade) and Yale Law, and appointed to the ranks of federal appeal courts judge in NY by two presidents from different parties, make her an invigorating addition to the SC bubble.

But who am I to babble on. Let a Clinton-era deputy Attorney General sum up the game being played:

We now understand President Obama’s description of the kind of person he wanted to put on the Supreme Court: superb credentials, bipartisan credibility, broad experience in the law and in life. Sonia Sotomayor, the Princeton summa cum laude graduate who was Phi Beta Kappa and an editor of the Yale Law Journal, has the intellectual firepower to tackle the hardest issues and to argue with — and persuade — others on the court. This talent was recognized by two presidents of different parties who nominated her to the district court and the court of appeals. But it is her breadth of background that is distinct. Her childhood — fatherless at a young age, fighting illness, overcoming odds to rise to valedictorian of one of the toughest schools in New York — continues to inform her worldview.

She chose first to become a prosecutor, to keep poor communities safe, and that tough-on-crime perspective is found in her opinions. She has been a leader and a model in the Latino community; that empathy for those striving to make their way is seen in her work as a judge. Sotomayor is going to show us what the president meant when he said he wanted both brilliance and humanity.

Any possible speedbump in her confirmation process?

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