President Barack Obama this morning appointed Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court.
** QUICK HITS. A tremendous outpouring around the California Supreme Court’s decision upholding the anti-gay marriage Prop 8. (See my column linked below.) … Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, in his speech this morning, discussed the dysfunctional California budget process. Later he announced another $5 billion in prospective budget cuts, including to the state’s workfare program and the prisons. … President Barack Obama is in Las Vegas tonight for a big fundraiser boosting Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s re-election. A complicating factor for Reid: His son, who ran Hillary Clinton’s Silver State operation, wants to run for governor of Nevada, raising a dynasty issue. … Atlantic writer Marc Ambinder reports that Judge Sonia Sotomayor was Obama’s favorite pick for the Supreme Court from the beginning, despite the fact they hadn’t met. She certainly seems to fill the bill for him if you think about it.
** THE PARTISAN SKEW OF MILITARY VETERANS. An interesting Gallup Poll published yesterday shows the partisan skew of America’s veterans and current members of the US Armed Forces.
Here are the numbers: Independents 38%, Republicans 34%, Democrats 29%.
Part of the difference between the veteran partisan skew and the overall partisan skew is that vets are overwhelmingly male.
** OBAMA EXPANDS NEXT WEEK’S INTERNATIONAL TRIP TO INCLUDE SAUDI ARABIA AS WELL AS EGYPT, GERMANY, AND FRANCE. President Barack Obama will also visit Saudi Arabia when he embarks next week on the second big international tour of his presidency.
Obama will now go first to Riyadh to meet with Saudi King Abdullah. Obama will hold no public events in Saudi Arabia.
After Riyadh, he goes to Cairo, where he will deliver a major address to the Muslim world in the historic Egyptian capital.
Obama will then go to Germany, where he will visit the former Nazi concentration camp at Buchenwald. Then he goes to France, to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the D-Day invasion at Normandy on June 6th.
** THE AVOIDABLE TRAGEDY OF CALIFORNIA’S PROP 8. The California Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Proposition 8, last November’s successful initiative against same-sex marriage is all the more tragic in that the initiative never should have passed in the first place. …
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … CALIFORNIA: THE TRAGEDY OF PROP 8.
10 AM FLASH UPDATE: CALIFORNIA PROP 8 UPHELD BY STATE SUPREME COURT, EXISTING SAME-SEX MARRIAGES REMAIN VALID. More to follow.
** INITIAL THOUGHTS ON THE SOTOMAYOR APPOINTMENT. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t follow judicial politics closely, but Judge Sonia Sotomayor seems a good pick to me, in fact, the most logical pick.
Let’s look at the politics. Realistically speaking, Obama had to appoint a woman. It also made the most sense for him to appoint a Latino, or Hispanic, if that is your preferred term.
Sotomayor also has long experience on the bench, having been first appointed by Republican President Bush I, then by Democratic President Clinton. She’s well-credentialed as a Princeton alum and a former editor of the Yale Law Review. She’s a liberal, but not an ultra-liberal. She also has an extraordinarily compelling life story.
You can bet that Team Obama has carefully vetted her.
This rather lightweight piece a few weeks ago in the New Republic, by the mag’s legal affairs editor, no less, sets the table for the case against her. She’s being hit for two things so far, her remark that appellate judges make policy and her role in a decision seeming to support a racial quota for the New Haven, Connecticut fire department.
With regard to the latter, I don’t think affirmative action is that controversial now. (It’s interesting to note that the decision advantaged African Americans over Latinos, incidentally.)
With regard to the former, Sotomayor merely stated fact. A federal district judge does not make policy. But a a judge in a court of appeals does, by definition. Because the law has been seemingly unclear enough that it requires clarification.
There will be something of a big rain dance around this appointment – with lots of fodder for hyperpartisans, mainly on the far right, and the chattering cable culture – and then Sotomayor will be confirmed.
** WILLIE BROWN ON SPECIAL ELECTION AFTERMATH. From former California Assembly Speaker and San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown’s Sunday SF Chronicle column: I was on the phone with state Assembly Speaker Karen Bass the other day, and I came away with the firm belief that she’s going to move quickly to see that the state budget is enacted on time, by the end of June.
What’s more, it’s going to be all cuts. No one knows exactly what the cuts will be, but it’s clear there will be no gimmicks, no tricks like trying to raise taxes by calling them “fees” that need only a simple majority vote instead of two-thirds.
It’s going to be painful, but Bass is conducting herself extremely well. She’s already called in all the special interests like the teachers union and the state workers union, and laid it out to them that she isn’t going to tolerate attempts to threaten or bully Assembly members like they have in the past.
By the way – can you imagine being a union leader who opposed the budget measures on the special election ballot, and now you have to go to your members and say it appears that 4 of the 10 of you sitting here just lost your jobs?
Federal Judge Sonia Sotomayor, described in this AP clip, is expected to be named to the U.S. Supreme Court today by President Barack Obama. That is actually Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg in the image above.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama has a very eventful day.
He has received his daily intelligence briefing in the Oval Office.
At 7:15 AM Pacific, in the East Room of the White House, he will anounce his appointment of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme court, replacing retiring Justice David Souter.
Sotomayor, if confirmed by the Senate as expected, will be the Latino to serve on the Supreme Court.
She was appointed a judge of U.S. district court by then President George H.W. Bush, and appointed to a U.S. court of appeals by then President Bill Clinton.
Sotomayor, 54, is a New Yorker born of Puerto Rican immigrant parents, a product of Princeton University and Yale Law School. Her father, who never spoke English, died when she was 9 and her mother worked as a nurse to raise her.
Sotomayor is the first Democratic selection to the Supreme Court in 15 years.
Following the Sotomayor announcement and associated discussions, Obama receives his daily economic briefing and meets with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
At 1:10 PM Pacific, Obama departs the White House via Marine One en route to Andrews Air Force Base.
At 1:25 PM Pacific, Obama departs Andrews Air Force Base on Air Force One en route to Las Vegas, Nevada.
At 5:55 PM Pacific, Obama arrives in Las Vegas, Nevada at McCarran International Airport.
At 7:55 PM Pacific, Obama attends a fundraiser for Senator Harry Reid at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Senate Majority Leader Reid is down in the Nevada polls in the run-up to his re-election campaign next year. Obama will be on hand tonight to add to his warchest and further dissuade any serious Republican opposition.
Nevada Republicans are in disarray, with Governor Jim Gibbons in the midst of various scandals, and have yet to produce a significant challenger to Reid.
President Barack Obama honored America’s fallen veterans yesterday at Arlington National Cemetery.
Obama will also be monitoring a few geopolitical crises.
The Pakistani Army offensive against the Taliban, urged by Obama, is continuing, with more signs that Taliban forces are being disrupted and driven back in various places. There is house-to-house fighting underway in at least one city.
North Korea set off what appears to have been an underwhelming nuclear device yesterday, prompting international condemnation. Obama put out a statement in the middle of the night on the move. And the UN Security Council, meeting in emergency session, thoroughly denounced it.
The Hermit State also launched two short-range missiles today, further inflaming the situation.
The California Supreme Court will today announce its decision on Proposition 8, the anti-gay marriage initiative.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger speaks at California Small Business Day today in Sacramento.
He also awaits the California Supreme Court’s promised decision today on Proposition 8, the initiative passed last November to invalidate the right to same-sex marriage that had been granted by the court last year.
Schwarzenegger will comment on the decision. He has urged the court to overturn the initiative.
And, in the late afternoon, Schwarzenegger tapes an appearance on The Tonight Show, which will air late tonight around the country.
This is host Jay Leno’s last week with the show – not that he’s exactly disappearing, as he will have a nightly show on NBC in the new season – and he is featuring his favorite guests for his swan song.
Schwarzenegger declared his candidacy for governor in a “surprise” announcement on The Tonight Show on August 6, 2003. He won a landslide election as governor in the California recall election two months later.
His speech to the small business conference – at which he will also discuss the chronic budget crisis – comes at 10:45 AM at the Sheraton Grande Hotel in Sacramento. It will be webcast live on www.gov.ca.gov.
** OBAMA’S NEW CALIFORNIA-BASED CLIMATE POLICY: SIX KEY THINGS TO KNOW. When President Barack Obama announced on Tuesday that he is making California’s standard for vehicle fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions the new national standard, he accomplished a number of things. … From my May 20th column.
** 24 AND THE TORTUOUS POLITICS OF TORTURE. The longtime hit TV series 24 has just wrapped a tumultuous seventh season in the midst of national debate about the past national policy of interrogation by torture of terror suspects. And, while 24 returned to past form as a crackling thriller, it’s done it in the midst of presenting a running debate about torture, mostly coming down on the side of torture.
Which, in its way, is appalling. There’s one thing, though. Torture may be more popular than many of us would like to think. … From my May 18th column.
** ANGELS AND DEMONS AND RELIGIOUS POLITICS. The sequel to one of the most controversial movies in recent memory is opening this weekend. And the collective response is a mild “hmm.” … From my May 15th column.
** WHAT DOES OBAMA’S AFGHAN COMMAND CHANGE MEAN? For the first such change in wartime since Harry Truman replaced General Douglas MacArthur during the Korean War in 1951, Barack Obama is replacing General David McKiernan in Afghanistan. Obama is moving both to change a stalemated war in Afghanistan and to scale back expectations there.
In the process, the Obama Administration is signaling that there will be no massive military surge preferred by General David Petraeus, as well as, seemingly, an end to nation-building fantasies and a preference for more special operations while searching for compromise.
McKiernan, the commander of conventional ground forces for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, is being replaced by a rather controversial special operations expert, Lieutenant General Stanley McChrystal. As head of Joint Special Operations Command, McChrystal oversaw the capture of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and the killing of Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq. … From my May 13th column.
** THE HYPE FLU’S BIG FADE. Remember that big, dangerous swine flu threat that the cable culture was going on about round the clock, still scaring the sweat out of people a week ago? Why, it’s going to … er, never mind.
It was all very breathless and alarming. … From my May 11th column.
** STAR TREK‘S NEW COMING-OF-AGE SAGA FOR GENERATION O. Let’s get the straight-up politics out of the way up front. Barack Obama, as he says himself, grew up on Star Trek. And both the new Spock, young Heroes TV star Zachary Quinto, and the classic Spock, Leonard Nimoy, each of whom star in the new movie, backed him for president, with Quinto campaigning around the country.
Obama even flashed the Vulcan hand sign — not so easy to do the first few times you try — at Nimoy at an Obama fundraiser in, for those of you who were johnnies-come-lately, January 2007.
Now for the part that’s not quite so obvious. This Star Trek hinges on the original captain of the Enterprise. But not the one you’re thinking of.
In rebooting the saga, the new stewards of Star Trek have neatly set up a classic coming-of-age journey for a new generation, the Obama generation. … From my May 8th column.
** OBAMA’S TROUBLED AFPAK SUMMIT. … From my May 6th column.
** OBAMA’S CRISIS MANAGEMENT: OF FLU AND AFPAK. … From my May 4th column.
** THIS X DOESN’T MARK THE SPOT. WOLVERINE MISSES THE SERIES’ DEEPER THEMES. … From my May 2nd column.
** OBAMA’S DEEPENING AFPAK CRISIS. … From my April 30th column.
** OBAMA’S CALIFORNIA: ANGST AND IRONY FOR WINNING DEMOCRATS. … From my April 28th column.
** OBAMA’S EARTH DAY ENERGY DECLARATION: CALIFORNIA MAY BE THE NATIONAL MODEL HE SAYS, BUT IT’S NOT ENOUGH. … From my April 23rd column.
** OBAMA: RIDING WITH HISTORY. (NOTE: As Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States, this column was the featured column on the top of the front page of the Huffington Post.) … From my January 19th Huffington Post column.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM RUSSIA TODAY. Russia has re-emerged as one of the world’s great powers. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer, bringing you English-language, jargon-free, fast-paced coverage of global and Russian news from the new Russia Today channel. You probably already know about CNN International, BBC World, and Al Jazeera. Russia Today, which also features culture, entertainment, and sports, is based in Moscow and is owned and operated by the TV Novosti division of Russia’s state news agency, RIA Novosti. While it’s quite foolish to expect to see, say, criticism of Vladimir Putin on Russia Today, which I know as a former DemRussia advisor, the channel is very interesting nonetheless. With U.S. cable news chattering away as it does, this sort of respite can be informative. The NWN live link to RT does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM AL JAZEERA. With the US entangled in two wars in the region, it’s valuable to keep up with news and perspectives from the leading Middle Eastern-based TV news network. Based in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar, Al Jazeera is very influential and more than a bit controversial. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer. The NWN live link to AJ does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** SCHWARZENEGGER’S CALIFORNIA. Here is my series of five columns on the governorship of Arnold Schwarzenegger for the Los Angeles Times in debate last fall, prior to the global economic meltdown, with Pulitzer Prize-winning former Times reporter/editor Bill Boyarsky, whose columns are also included. Among them is what I’m sure is the first piece examining Schwarzenegger’s legacy as governor of California. Since he will actually be governor of California until 2011. No technology known to be disruptive to the space/time continuum was used in its preparation.
** TRACK GLOBAL AND NATIONAL ENERGY PRICES IN NEAR REAL TIME VIA BLOOMBERG ENERGY MARKET WATCH. Having crashed over $147 for yet another record on July 11th, crude oil is trading in the $60 to $61 per barrel range.
This is up about $26 from the low of $34 per barrel prior to enactment of the Obama economic recovery program, due in part to some positive economic signs and in part to geopolitical jitters over Pakistan.
Your posts are welcome in the Forum.