What Sonia Sotomayor Actually Said in 2001 Lecture

In 2001, Sonia Sotomayor delivered a speech to the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, entitled “A Latina Judge’s Voice”. It was published in the Spring 2002 issue of Berkeley La Raza Law Journal, and has been reproduced by The New York Times this month online.

A quote taken from that speech has raised controversy, as conservatives alleged Sotomayor declared her willingness to use race as a means of judging the law. In fact, she argued against that sort of bias. The controversial quote, part of a discussion on the question of whether every wise old judge shares the same specific type of wisdom, is as follows:

First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, 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.

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The Radical Naïveté of Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich is trying to reinvent, or rehabilitate, himself. And he’s doing it by trying to whip up reflexive anger across his party’s base. Without citing one single point of Pres. Obama’s policy or one single piece of historical evidence, he has classed Obama’s call for a world free of nuclear weapons as “a dangerous fantasy”. He is situating himself firmly in the camp of make-believe “values conservatives” whose world view is actually an adolescent reading of Machiavelli (and a fantasy already proven to be dangerous).

Values, if those who camp along this stretch of the ideological spectrum have any allegiance to them, must always come after and be subsumed by a regime of dark and cynical manipulations. To what end? To prove that one is dark and cynical enough to be feared. This is the adolescent part of their understanding of Machiavelli — whose philosophy we will not treat in detail here. They claim to know how to be better than the brutes, thugs and villains, by imitating them.

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Obama’s Legal Scholarship Suggests Moderate Pragmatist Pick for Court

Pres. Barack Obama is in a unique position, both among American lawyers and even among US presidents: not only will he be able to place at least one Justice on the Supreme Court, he will do so with a wealth of experience in legal scholarship behind him. His work as Harvard Law Review president and Constitutional law professor give him a deep background understanding of the Supreme Court’s rulings.

Friends and former colleagues remind that Obama has not been known for pushing a liberal agenda through his analysis or use of the law. His view of the Supreme Court, it is said, is that it should not be too far ahead of public opinion on effecting important progress.

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Eliminating All Nuclear Weapons More Realistic than Selective Non-proliferation

Because there’s something in it for everybody. The current global nuclear weapons-control regime operates on a dangerously untenable false premise: that only ‘responsible’ nations can or should be allowed to make and maintain arsenals of nuclear warheads. At first blush, it may seem highly rational: only those who will behave responsibly should have the most dangerous weapons; but, then, upon further examination, who is qualified to make that judgment?

Probably not one nation not specifically seeking to expand the “nuclear club” to include itself would entrust to an autonomous international body the adjudication of who is responsible enough to have the right to add more nuclear weapons to the global stockpile. Certainly, the US tends to oppose allowing any external body to judge its own level of inherent responsibility or sovereign rights. And international law, at present, forbids the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

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Unrelenting Soft Power: the Secret to Obama’s Poised Leadership

Lead by example. It’s a simple idea, and one that tends to be fully realized only by those who are most able. You lead by demonstrating the best qualities, because you are able to — 1. because you have them; 2. because you are in a position to do so; 3. because you are confident both of your ability to embody these qualities and of the qualities themselves, their virtue and their efficacy.

Soft power works, because one is able to use the social force of virtue —rooted in actual qualities and demonstrable value to those concerned— and because one shows proof of being closer to shared goals than the other party, leading the other party to follow one’s lead.

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Obama en Trinidad busca nueva colaboración interamericana

En la Cumbre de las Américas, el presidente de Estados Unidos, Barack Obama, ha proclamado su intención de llevar a cabo un nuevo programa diplomático en las Américas, buscando colaboración y apertura. Había establecido esta semana en México su apoyo al tratado interamericano contra el tráfico de armas, prometiendo impulsar al Senado a actuar para ratificarlo.

La urgencia de su iniciativa contra el tráfico de armas radica en la conexión que se ha descubierto entre un tráfico ilegal de armas de fuego de comerciantes legales en EEUU que deja que las armas pasen a la mafia narcotraficante del norte de México. Se ha calculado que el 90% de las armas que usan las mafias mexicanas proviene de ese mercado negro. El hecho de que la violencia narcotraficante y del tráfico humano ahora afecta la región fronteriza del sur de EEUU, significa que se ve como asunto de seguridad nacional impedir el tráfico de armas.

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Electronic Medical Records Could Help Find Cures, Speed Progress, Cut Costs

Electronic medical records (EMR), like health insurance, benefit from being spread over the widest pool possible. A system that aggregates and cross-references data from hundreds of millions of patients can find statistical evidence far more efficiently than today’s statistical modeling for health problems and solution improvement.

Allowing for non-identified EMR sharing across the system creates a universal pool of data in which drug side-effects, treatment failure or success rates, disease history, specific organ damage or healing, and all sorts of incidence of drug interactions and health specifics can be cross-referenced, spurring a massive amount of data-rooted research and improving quality of care and treatment success rates.

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Inauguration Diary: a Politics of Inclusion & of Civic Intelligence (photo essay)

Millions of people are expected to gather on the National Mall, between the west face of the Capitol Building and the Lincoln Memorial; security is expected to be without any known precedent, and temperatures are not likely to rise above freezing… should we go? Should we go, and if we do, should we go as citizens, or as journalists? If millions of people can brave the crowds, the security and the cold, to witness an historic moment of such sweeping resonance, then why can’t we?

I realized over the weekend that I wanted to attend this event as a citizen, as a person who believes in the values of true democracy, and who believes that, flawed as the system is, it can still be bent to the virtues of those willing to engage it with principle and decency, and in that way, can be used to make life better and freer, even for the least powerful. And it came back to me what it was to witness the 15,000 people who did just this to attend then Senator Barack Obama’s campaign announcment speech, on 10 February 2007, when the conventional wisdom said he could never win.

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Clintonistas, Busheviks & Obamaphiles: Beyond Labeling

ThoughtPossible.com :: The media are ablaze with speculation about whether President-elect Obama will be able to “control the Clintons”, whether his stature is so monumental and secure, after an admittedly meteoric rise, that the vanquished senator from New York will devotedly voice his foreign policy and look good doing it, whether the White House will be infiltrated by “re-treads” from the Clinton years, whether the socialist bailouts of George W. Bush’s own red October are enough to give Obama a pass on the anti-supply-side dictates of a potentially necessary “new New Deal”.

We hear at a constant clip the talk of “Clintonistas” coming “back to power”, of “Bushies” and “Busheviks” leaving a scorched earth behind them in Washington, with the entire potential for cross-party negotiation having to be restructured from scratch, of “Obamaphiles” calling down prophetic hopes from a blue sky vision of national renaissance, a 21st century reshaping of the messianic strain of Western thought. We are asked to believe that major policy initiatives are as easy to formulate or predict as a seating chart, as judged by résumés, for the first Obama cabinet meeting.

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Obama Composite National Healthcare Plan: Net Cost Decrease for Avg. Family

Critics have sought to characterize President-elect Obama’s healthcare proposal as “socialized medicine”, despite its relying almost entirely on market dynamics and the private sector. Government spending is considered to be one area where Obama’s plan could be unacceptable to fiscal conservatives, though Obama’s pragmatist fiscal policy is largely in line with conservative fiscal policy and aims to cover new spending with spending cuts elsewhere. New analysis suggests there is already money to cover his plan and to reach near universal coverage with a few workable adjustments in current legislation.

Analysts suggest that Obama’s stated first priority, making sure all American children have access to healthcare —mainly through the SCHIP program, where states use federal funding to provide coverage to uninsured children—, would cost between $6 billion and $9 billion. His plan to help small businesses cover their employees —a step toward universal coverage under the private sector healthcare system— is estimated to cost another $6 billion per year, the combined total costing less than one month of the Iraq war as currently funded.

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