July 14th, 2009


President Obama Support Judge Sotomayor

Today I received the following message detailed President Obama's support of Judge Sotomayor. It does a fine job of summarizing her excellent qualifications. I have been disgusted by the Republican resistance to her nomination. Basically, I think they don't want her because she is a woman, a Latina, a Liberal, and she grew up poor; and they are cobbling up flimsy (or smarmy) criticisms because her performance is fine enough to deprive them of real flaws. She is a splendid candidate.

Look, Republican politicians -- Obama is not going to nominate a conservative judge, and probably not going to nominate anyone you'll really like. The Supreme Court is already loaded with guys who think like you do. It's the other side's turn to appoint people who think like we do, and it's your turn to "play fair" and "support the President" like you spent the past 8+ years demanding we do. When someone's qualifications are solid, it's not cool to make up excuses why they shouldn't get the job.

The White House, Washington
Good Morning,

Yesterday, Judge Sonia Sotomayor made her opening statement to the Senate
Judiciary Committee and moved another step closer to taking a seat on the
United States Supreme Court. In case you missed it, watch the video of her
opening statement here:

Judge Sotomayors Opening Statement

As President, there are few responsibilities more serious or consequential
than the naming of a Supreme Court Justice, so I want to take this
opportunity to tell you about the qualifications and character that
informed my decision to nominate Judge Sotomayor.

Judge Sotomayor's brilliant legal mind is complemented by the practical
lessons that can only be learned by applying the law to real world

In the coming days, the hearings will cover an incredible body of work
from a judge who has more experience on the federal bench than any
incoming Supreme Court Justice in the last 100 years. Judge Sotomayor's
professional background spans our judicial system -- from her time as a
big-city prosecutor and a corporate litigator, to her work as a federal
trial judge on the U.S. District Court, and an appellate judge on the
Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

And then there is Judge Sotomayor's incredible personal story. She grew up
in a housing project in the South Bronx -- her parents coming to New York
from Puerto Rico during the Second World War. At the age of nine, she lost
her father, and her mother worked six days a week just to put food on the
table. It takes a certain resilience and determination to rise up out of
such circumstances, focus, work hard and achieve the American dream.

This character shined through in yesterday's opening statement: Watch the

In Judge Sotomayor, our nation will have a Justice who will never forget
her humble beginnings, will always apply the rule of law, and will be a
protector of the Constitution that made her American dream and the dreams
of millions of others possible. As she said so clearly yesterday, Judge
Sotomayor's decisions on the bench "have been made not to serve the
interests of any one litigant, but always to serve the larger interest of
impartial justice."

In anticipation of today's first round of questioning, I hope you'll share
this email widely, because Judge Sotomayor's confirmation is something
that affects every American. It's important for these hearings to be about
Judge Sotomayor's own record and her capacity for the job -- not any
political back and forth that some in Washington may use to distract you.
What members of the Judiciary Committee, and the American people, will see
today is a sharp and fearless jurist who does not let
powerful interests bully her into breaking from the rule of law.

Thank you,
Barack Obama

Political News

These articles cluster around issues of "Who watches the watchers?"

Bill Moyers and Michael Winship | Some Choice Words for "The Select Few"
Bill Moyers and Michael Winship, Truthout: "If you want to know what really matters in Washington, don't go to Capitol Hill for one of those hearings, or pay attention to those staged White House 'town meetings.' They're just for show. What really happens - the serious business of Washington - happens in the shadows, out of sight, off the record. Only occasionally - and usually only because someone high up stumbles - do we get a glimpse of just how pervasive the corruption has become."

A government is like a toddler: if you don't know exactly what it's doing, it is almost certainly getting into trouble. You can't take your eyes off it for a minute.

Holder "Leaning Toward Appointing a Prosecutor" to Investigate Bush Torture Policy
Daniel Klaidman, Newsweek: "Obama doesn't want to look back, but Attorney General Eric Holder may probe Bush-era torture anyway."

Good. Someone should discover the extent of the crimes, and the guilty should be punished.

Henry A. Giroux | Obama's Tortured Democracy
Henry A. Giroux, Truthout: "By refusing to release photos of those tortured by US forces, Obama sadly continues yet another element of the Bush regime, organized around an attempt to regulate the visual field, to mandate what can be seen and modify the landscape of the sensible and visible. And equally important, as Judith Butler points out, the Obama administration's application of the state-secrecy privilege grants it the power to determine 'which lives count as human and as living, and which do not.'"

Covering it up will not make it go away.

Cindy Sheehan Takes On the Robber Class
Bob Fitrakis, The Free Press: "The United States has produced several mythic historical figures - Paul Bunyan, John Henry and the like - but our actual prophetic peace activists are actually far more interesting. People like Eugene Victor Debs, Emma Goldman, and in our present day, Cindy Sheehan."

I continue to be impressed by her determination to speak truth to power. Never mess with the mommy!

Dahr Jamail | Afghanistan War Resister to "Put the War on Trial"
Dahr Jamail, Truthout: "US Army Specialist Victor Agosto served a 13-month deployment in Iraq with the 57th Expeditionary Signal Battalion ... His experience in Iraq, coupled with educating himself about US foreign policy and international law, has led Agosto to refuse to deploy to Afghanistan. 'It's a matter of what I'm willing to live with,' he said of his recent decision, 'I'm not willing to participate in this occupation, knowing it is completely wrong.'"

I am also pleased to see this kind of serious resistance to America's current bad habit of getting embroiled in multiple endless wars without sound reasons.

Global Warming: Fix It Or Else

These articles are related to social and environmental impacts...

Boxer Faces "Challenge of a Lifetime" on Climate Change Bill
Rob Hotakainen, McClatchy Newspapers: "If the Senate doesn't pass a bill to cut global warming, Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer says, there will be dire results: droughts, floods, fires, loss of species, damage to agriculture, worsening air pollution and more. She says there's a huge upside, however, if the Senate does act: millions of clean-energy jobs, reduced reliance on foreign oil and less pollution for the nation's children."

I wish politicians would treat global warming with the same urgency they treat terrorism (er, but more accuracy). Terrorism isn't a species-level threat unless one of the superpowers gives a nuke to the crackpots. Climate change is, and it's already causing problems, including major national threats such as disasters that whelm the economy and foreign instability that is not doing our national security any good.

New Evidence Surfaces in Post-Katrina Crimes
A.C. Thompson, ProPublica: "Television news reports are casting new light on the violence that flourished in New Orleans in the anarchic days after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The reports - broadcast Thursday by WTAE TV in Pittsburgh and WDSU in New Orleans - focus on two unsolved crimes: the near-fatal shooting of Donnell Herrington, who was allegedly attacked by a group of white vigilantes in the Algiers Point neighborhood, and the murder of Henry Glover, whose charred remains were discovered on a Mississippi River levee. Both victims are African American."

If we don't stop climate change, we are going to see a lot more stuff like this. America handles refugee situations poorly, even internal ones where there is plenty of fault tolerance in states that didn't get hit.
jellyfish, weird

Eel Eating Day

If you thought the zucchini holiday was bizarre, try this:

Eel Eating Day in Summer
Doyo No Ushi No Hi (or the Day of the Ox) is dedicated to eating eel. The Day occurs around the hottest period of the year. With the day being hot, lethargy sets in; which in Japanese is called Natsubate or summer fatigue. To counter this listless state, Japanese believe that eating nutritious eel helps to increase stamina and beat the summer heat.

Of course, my main reason for posting this is because I'm impressed that Japanese has a word for "summer fatigue" -- natsubate. For me that is a very useful word.