Saturday, May 30, 2009

"I was wrong about Sotomayor speech"

We have witnessed the barrage of attacks on Judge Sonia Sotomayor by the 'Right-Wing-Nuts' crowd (Sorry, this is the best composite word to describe people of that ilk)

It has become crystal clear that opposition to her nomination is not based on merits, but in destructive feelings of Racism, Xenophobia, Nativism, extremely intransigent Right Wing Ideology, et al.

To see and hear what these people are saying is so appalling and painful when compared to the reality of who Judge Sotomayor is, and what she has said and done, because it is so clear that her statements are being twisted, taken out of context and turned into completely false cartoonish (sic) portrayals of her.

The feelings of dismay surface when contemplating the desired prospect to engage in rational and civilized dialog / debate with people who have hate and intolerance as the core values in their positions, who are not interested, even in a small way, to disagree without being disagreeable, as it is supposed to be done in a Democracy as pertains to a civilized society; it makes you wonder if there is any hope for us to become what many people have dreamed, hoped for and voiced as 'A more perfect union'

Mancow Gets Waterboarded: Admits It's Torture - Mancow Muller of Chicago's Big 89, WLS-AM Mancow & Cassidy show, gets waterboarded to see what it's like and shares it with listeners and viewers. FULL STORY:


Who knows? But when I find nuggets of honesty in the Right Wing Camp, such as the honestly gritty Erich "Mancow" Muller's admission that 'waterboarding' is torture, he is paying the price for his reversal of opinion due to the 'waterboarding' stunt he performed trying to prove his position, it is being called a 'hoax' by people who refuse to admit the evidence, such as Sean Hannity who is stubbornly hanging to his beliefs on torture, despite his friend's assertion by personal experience to the contrary, who is also cowardly refusing to submit to a 'taste of waterboarding' as he said he'd do so to prove it isn't torture, in spite of people like Sean, I feel that there is a gleam of hope in the horizon because I firmly believe he is part of a minority, albeit malignant, I still take heart in the fact that it is a minority.

And, by the way, how is it that these people are disregarding testimony and statements of experts on interrogation techniques? These professionals have been saying all along that 'waterboarding' is torture, that 'waterboarding' is a misnomer, that it should be called 'drowining' as Mancow referred to it afer his experience, statement he repeated in two appearances on Keith Olbermann's COUNTDOWN - "Changing the Torture Debate" and in "Waterboarding Hoax?".

As I said before, this refusal to admit evidence by these kind of people is both appalling and painful if you believe in fairness and honesty, which people of that ilk obviously don't.

Following a link in a post titled On Racism in the Jim Wallis & Friends blog, God'sPolitics, I read a post by conservative blogger Rod Dreber where another nugget of Right Wing honesty can be found, where an example of how we absolutely must inform ourselves, to the best of our ability, on the facts of the matter in any given issue and have the courage to perform our civic duty to be an 'informed electorate', is displayed, that I decided to post it while applauding Rod's honesty and integrity on this issue.

Why applaud you may ask? After all, isn't that what we all are supposed to do? Well yeah, you are right but I can't help myself from rejoicing at the prospect that there may be more Rod Drebers and Mancows on both sides of the aisle out there.

Even while applauding Rod's finally reading the full speech , "A Latina Judge's Voice" By Sonia Sotomayor,
there are several questions that beg answers, since the full text of the speech was published on May 14th, why did Rod continue to perpetuate the distortions until the 27th? That's almost two weeks before he informed himself of the facts - and why is it that Tom Tancredo and Rush Limbaugh are still distorting and using Judge Sotomayor's words and using to pin degrading false labels on her?
The two possible answers go from the ugly to the horrifying, a) they refuse to fully inform themselves thus betraying their claims of Patriotism or, b) they have read her words and have put them aside in order to continue to be the 'horribly distorted beings' they appear to be on the surface.

Here is Rod's post:

Wednesday May 27, 2009
Categories: Law

The NYT has a link to the entire speech in which she made the comment about the "wise Latina" reaching a "better" verdict than "a white male who hasn't lived that life." I'm still a bit troubled by the remark, but not in any important way. Taken in context, the speech was about how the context in which we were raised affects how judges see the world, and that it's unrealistic to pretend otherwise. Yet -- and this is a key point -- she admits that as a jurist, one is obligated to strive for neutrality. It seems to me that Judge Sotomayor in this speech dwelled on the inescapability of social context in shaping the character of a jurist. That doesn't seem to me to be a controversial point, and I am relieved by this passage:

While recognizing the potential effect of individual experiences on perception, Judge Cedarbaum nevertheless believes that judges must transcend their personal sympathies and prejudices and aspire to achieve a greater degree of fairness and integrity based on the reason of law. Although I agree with and attempt to work toward Judge Cedarbaum's aspiration, I wonder whether achieving that goal is possible in all or even in most cases.

Relieved, because it strikes me as both idealistic and realistic. I am sure Sotomayor and I have very different views on the justice, or injustice, of affirmative action, and I'm quite sure that I won't much care for her rulings as a SCOTUS justice on issues that I care about. But seeing her controversial comment in its larger context makes it look a lot less provocative and troubling. As some of you have noted in comments.

UPDATE: In fact, come to think of it, I can remember a couple of occasions at The Dallas Morning News, sitting in on editorial board meetings with judicial candidates, in which I was favorably impressed by aspiring judges who talked about, well, empathy. One candidate who comes to mind had grown up poor and a racial minority, but had worked her way out of deprivation and built a strong legal career. She came to us as a sitting judge who sought higher office. We asked her to talk about a case or cases that would give us an idea of the perspective she would bring to the bench. She spoke about how she came to learn early in her bench career that the decisions she made affected not just the person at trial, but his family. She spoke about how it gave her a greater appreciation for the dimensions of the law, and what constitutes justice -- to be specific, that justice is not something mechanical, a result that can be obtained by feeding facts into a program, and having a computer spit out the "correct" answer. Rather, it requires wisdom, and its application. As I recall that meeting, the judge's answer struck me as wise about human nature, and how the law provides a framework for justice, but doesn't guarantee it -- and how sometimes, subjective factors necessarily influence a judge's decision about the right outcome in a particular case.

Also, I recall a black judge who came in for a candidate forum once. We put the same question to him. He talked about his hardscrabble background, and how he always tried to keep squarely in front of him when he had a black male defendant, "There but for the grace of God go I." His point was clearly not to assert that he had a different standard for black men who come into his court, but rather that his empathy (that word again) helped keep him humble in his approach to decision-making. If I remember correctly (this was a couple of years ago), I came out of that meeting thinking that I would feel pretty good about going before this judge's court as a defendant, because I could trust that judge to put himself imaginatively in my place, and try to see things as I did. That's not to say he would rule in my favor, but that he is at least aware that justice is not the same thing as rote application of the law; i.e., that while justice must never be entirely, or even mostly, subjective, it nevertheless requires taking into account particulars of the case. This is called wisdom. This is called judgment.

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