If you haven’t figured it out already, the 916 was created for this day. It’s
a this blogger’s birthday, it’s also Mexican Independence Day, it’s Hispanic Heritage Month. Last night I had the distinct honor and pleasure to say to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor that at the moment we shook hands I have met all the women who have served on the U.S. Supreme Court. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg loves opera and is a fan of mezzo soprano Denyce Graves, so we’ve bumped into each other at recitals. I met former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor at a special event for KARAMAH: Muslim Women for Human Rights. She gave a lecture on the role and responsibilities of the court. She stuck around afterwards to break bread with everyone.
Justice Sotomayor and I definitely share one thing in common. Check it out here from last night’s Noche de Musical presented by the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts (NHFA) at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Her dance partner is actor Esai Morales (Brooklyn, NY), a co-founder of the NHFA. And that’s Bobby Sanabria leading the band. Echa!
My guess is the President’s weekly message is to put to rest the fears of persons who are insured and their insurers. If you enjoy your “pay-to-pay” option, you can keep it. But the options needs to be open to more people: for example people with pre-existing conditions. The “pay-to-pay” option should also cover some preventive procedures like check-ups, mammograms, colonoscopies and more. It’s reforming “pay-to-pay” to “pay-to-play.”
Over the past weeks the rumor mill and antics of anti-health care reform minions or hired guns would make “acting stupidly” the appropriate tag line for their efforts at town hall meetings to shout and shut down any and all steps towards a healthier and necessary change to the U.S. health insurance system. Some Medicare recipients don’t want government involvement. Well, duh, that’s what Medicare is, unless what these people want is to keep a good thing for themselves.
But in this week’s message there’s no mention of the public option, which means this Bud’s for the majority of citizens who have health insurance and are members of the church of “the devil I know.” As I’ve said before, this could all be solved quite easily if health care was not such a hugely profitable business.Also in the news: Judge Sonia Sotomayor is sworn in today to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, a job with great health insurance benefits she can keep for as long as she wants it. Sotomayor was confirmed Thursday by a Senate vote. You can read the breakdown of the vote here. Sonia Sotomayor will be the first Hispanic and the third woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. Here’s a link to the text of the Oath of Office for the Supreme Court. She will be sworn in twice by Chief Justice John Roberts. I’m not making this up, but Roberts may require it. The first oath will be a private ceremony in the High Court; the second oath will be in the presence of Sotomayor’s family, friends, and the press. This will be the first swearing in of a U.S. Supreme Court judge in the court’s history open to television cameras.
These items will be dripping in today as there’s a lot on my list of “to-do’s” beyond the blog.
THE SOTOMAYOR CHRONICLES
Yesterday’s hearing went on for 8 hours. I saw/heard up to 6 on the pool feed, but was fortunate to witness a reversal of fortune where life imitates art. Judge Sotomayor broke through the fourth wall with an “Annie Hall” moment — the scene where Alvy (Woody Allen) and Annie (Diane Keaton) are standing in a movie theater line while a Columbia University professor pontificates film criticism ending with a comment about the media theorist Marshall McLuhan (1911 – 1980). Alvy just happens to have the real Marshall McLuhan behind a billboard for a cameo appearance.
Watch the clip (“Annie Hall,” 1977, directed by Woody Allen):
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.), in an effort to discredit Judge Sotomayor based on her “wise Latina” speech, referenced Judge Miriam Cedarbaum (a Reagan nominee to the bench) whom, Session said, “believes that judges must transcend their personal sympathies and prejudices.”
Sotomayor responds: “My friend Judge Cedarbaum is here….We are good friends, and I believe that we both approach judging in the same way, which is looking at the facts of each individual case and applying the law to those facts.”
According to Washington Monthly, Judge Cedarbaum reported back to the Wall Street Journal: “I don’t believe for a minute that there are any differences in our approach to judging, and her personal predilections have no affect on her approach to judging.”
Yes, life can be like this.
WORTH THE READ – ROLLING STONE
Summer is the most agonizing bore of a season for magazine reading. Since I don’t own a grill, the foodie magazines don’t even appeal to me. Press pause until September. But based on recent events, I suppose some have the ways and means to catch a 2nd wind in this shrinking print media market especially periodicals that cater to the celebrity or entertainment reader. Rolling Stone is one of the few magazines that never waits for September. This month, they rolled out a commemorative Michael Jackson issue. Not only does it include a fine overview of the music, artistry, mania, and manic mania that was Michael Jackson, it includes a reprint of Rolling Stone’s 1983 interview by Gerri Hirshey. While flipping through the Rolling Stone I realized I know nearly every Jackson 5 or Michael Jackson song recorded including lyrics. Was I a life-long fan and didn’t know it? Hmmm.
Republicans’ outrage, both real and feigned, at Sotomayor’s musings about how her identity as a “wise Latina” might affect her judicial decisions is based on a flawed assumption: that whiteness and maleness are not themselves facets of a distinct identity. Being white and male is seen instead as a neutral condition, the natural order of things. Any “identity” — black, brown, female, gay, whatever — has to be judged against this supposedly “objective” standard.
Washington Post, July 14, 2009
Yesterday it was opening statements from the Senate Committee ending with Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s statement — part of the process and protocol for confirming a U.S. Supreme Court Justice. I always find these hearings interesting. An opportunity to catch up on legal matters. It’s always a teaching moment.
Today it’s the questions. The Judge has wisely chosen to wear a red jacket – unafraid to be seen and heard. Clarity. Let’s look at this from an identity perspective. Could a man get away with wearing a red jacket at his confirmation hearing? What would it communicate? Yesterday was blue – listening color. The Judge is prepared. She recognizes the power and the high stakes involved in each and ever word she speaks before the committee. This cannot be treated as a slam dunk no matter what the pundits or how many votes she has in her favor.
Senator Sessions (R-AL) cuts to the chase with talking points from the Republican party’s playbook “impartiality,” “identity,” and “affirmative action,” “quotas.” The party has been really bad on identity issues focusing more on an the ideal monolithic poltiical party for some and a few invited guests under the tent of one collective thought. The “big tent” just doesn’t seem to be in the party’s vocabulary or practice right now. Now only is it a losing game plan, but it isn’t even a good game.
It’ll be interesting to see where these identity themes lead during the hearing especially when the witnesses testify including firefighter Frank Ricci one of the plaintiffs in the New Haven, CT “reverse discrimination” case. I add the quotes because I think reverse discrimination is an oxymoron – either it is discrimination or it isn’t. Call it “tit for tat”? And apparently the CT firefighters case isn’t Ricci’s first discrimination complaint. [A complete list of witnesses is available on Politico.] I would say, Ricci’s one of the star witnesses. What are the odds he will appear in uniform?
Something about the term “reverse discrimination” that pushes buttons. I’m sure there’s a political angle to the term that goes back to the issues of identity. It rallies a certain political base and demographic that is shrinking in the 21st century, or as Frank Rich described in his op-ed on the quitting Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, “a constituency that feels disenfranchised — by the powerful and the well-educated who gamed the housing bubble, by a news media it keeps being told is hateful, by the immigrants who have taken some of their jobs, by the African-American who has ended a white monopoly on the White House.”
Senator Kohl (D- WI) comes in with the standard lead-in to Roe v. Wade – “privacy.” Yesterday, Norma McCorvey, otherwise known as Jane Roe, was removed from the hearing room along with several other anti-choice protestors. McCorvey, now 61, has gone to the other side of her experience and now speaks out against abortion. She switched in 1995 apparently after befriending an Operation Rescue workers who set up shop next door to where she worked.
Nevertheless, these confirmation sessions should be very interesting on these and other topics including the 2nd Amendment – also an identity issue. This is a cultural and identity moment for everyone in this room whether they recognize or not. Identity can be an opening and a teaching moment. I agree with the Judge, to not recognize is a sure way to make the kinds of decisions that seem to be of grave concern to Sessions and his colleagues. Live coverage is available here (WashingtonPost.com) or click on the photo.