Thursday, January 12, 2006

Alito Too Many Questions Left Unanswered

I held off passing judgment on Samuel Alito until after the Senate confirmation hearings because I believe in giving people the right to speak for themselves and set the record straight. I'm sorry to report that after three days of testimony, I know less about Judge Alito than I did before. And that's not a good thing.

First, a few quick observations.

1. Alito first claimed he did not remember joining CAP (Concerned Alumni of Princeton), an all-white male group aimed at ending diversity at the school. Then he claimed he joined, but didn't really participate. Then he claimed he joined because he disapproved of the way the university treated the ROTC. I have yet to hear confirmation of CAP's involvement with the ROTC, outside Republican talking points. Was this a true statement, or yet more GOP fabrication. Without the ROTC connection, he is either a sexist and a racist or someone who would say and do anything to get the job he desired, neither one desirable in a SCOTUS nominee (and we know how the GOP likes to keep their stories plausible, if not legally accurate).

2. While the rigors of hours of testimony were agonizing for Senators and spectators, Alito seemed unflappable under pressure. This could be the result of a naturally calm, judicial demeanor, or an insiders knowledge that no matter how he was questioned by the Democrats, he would receive a free ride from Republicans (and the talking heads all said the Dems had predetermined votes, ha). The one person who did not seem to have been adequately prepared was Mrs. Alito (nee Bomgardner). When Lindsey Graham (R) Florida began to praise Judge Alito for his moral strength and spotless reputation, she began to cry and had to excuse herself. Pundits blamed mean-spirited Democratic questioning, lib bloggers cried GOP set-up, and the women of the View allowed emotional overload. My attention was lost in Sen. Graham's words, which seemed to be a new set of talking-points in preparation for Abramoff-related indictments to come. Crooks and Liars has the video.

3. Russ Feingold (my hero) has some interesting ideas about the people who prepped Judge Alito for his finals. Seems they are the same people who wrote the talking-points for the administration's warrantless spying. Do you think there may be some overlay of information deemed necessary by the administration? DK has the story.

Which brings me to my opinion of Judge Alito and his suitability for the SCOTUS position being vacated by Sandra Day O'Connor. I had a wonderful exposition all worked out in my head about how Alito failed to meet the burden placed before him, etc. and Georgia10 at DK beat me to the punch.

"The burden, from the start, was on Alito to counter his record as a
ideologue. Alito walked into that hearing room saddled with a record as one of
the most pro-government Republican judges in the nation. He walked into that
room with his objective memorialized in black and white: overturning Roe. He
walked into that room already having established his contempt for our system of
checks and balances.
The burden was on him to explain his record. And
he didn't. Because there's no explaining away the fact that he believes the
government can do whatever the hell it wants when it comes to stripping of our
rights. To succeed in these hearings, Alito had to counter record, and he

Let your Senators know - Hell No Alito


Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Tough Love

Parenting is one of the toughest jobs around. Just when you think you've got yourself a winner, all hell breaks loose. How would you deal with the bitter disappointment of broken trust?

Let's take the case of a typical family- father, mother, kid, let's make her a daughter. Growing up, she had good grades, nice friends, made good decisions. All the way through junior high she was fairly dependable, so at 16 she is rewarded with a drivers license and the keys to a car. She's your kid, you can trust her, right?

Within a few months, you notice she is not around much anymore. Letters and calls from school let you know she's not there as much either. You start to check the odometer and find mileage unaccounted for; she's really been getting around.

Even worse is the money deemed necessary to keep up her so called middle-class existence. Cell phones and I-pods and clothes, oh my. As parents you should discuss what to do about Connie, but instead, one side blindly affirms the girl's dire need for each and every purchase and chides the other for lack of trust- her grades are still good, she's never been in any real trouble, don't worry, be happy.

Then you find cigarette butts in her ashtray and beer cans in the trunk of her car. Now, you know full well that kids have been smoking and drinking for as long as there have been kids, beer and cigs (a fact your other-half glibly reminds you). But that was before it was proven how dangerous smoking can be, not to mention drunken driving. And besides, the laws have changed, what you've found is technically illegal for your daughter.

So you pluck up the courage to demand of your spouse a family meeting to address little angel's reckless behavior, and by the way, where is she? Out with Jack, is the response. Jack, you explode, Jack who was arrested last month for drug trafficking? Don't be silly, says other-half. Jack goes to church and his mother is on the PTA board. There's nothing wrong with Jack. It was all some mistake or misunderstanding.

So you wait alone for your little precious to drag her sorry ass in, looking not at all ashamed or apologetic. Rather than allowing the discussion to dissolve into a shouting match, you begin in a non-threatening manner. Where have you been? What have you been doing? Who have you been doing it with? Why did you decide to trash the advantages life gave you and bring shame and humiliation upon this house. Real low key stuff.

She smiles that 5k smile (same as your spouse's, you suddenly realize) and tells you she's done nothing wrong. Missing a little school is no big deal, neither is a road trip or four. It's just more expensive today than in the past, and besides, spending money is good for the economy. As for the beer and cigarettes, they aren't hers, she's never even tried them, but if they were, it's only technically illegal and everybody else does it. And don't worry, she tells you as she pats your hand, she's so not into Jack.

There you have it, the conundrum. This offspring, who you have been some 50% responsible for bringing into the world and nurturing for the past decade and a half, is purposely violating recognized rules of behavior, breaking the law, associating with dangerous criminals, and lying to your face about it. Your other half is off in some drug-induced fantasy land where no action is too vile to be ignored or defended. You are paying the bills and wondering how your life ever got to this point in time. What do you do?