Weekly Pulse: Sotomayor an Enigma on Abortion

 By Lindsay Beyerstein, TMC MediaWire Blogger

Yesterday, Sonia Sotomayor became the first Latina and the third woman ever nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court. She is currently a federal judge on New York's 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. Born to Puerto Rican immigrant parents and raised by her mother in the housing projects of the South Bronx, Sotomayor went on to attend college at Princeton and law school at Yale. George H.W. Bush appointed her to the U.S. District Court in 1991 and Bill Clinton "promoted" her to the 2nd Circuit in 1998.

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There's no room for moderates in the modern G.O.P.

In 1993, moderate Republican Christine Todd Whitman made history when she was elected New Jersey's first female governor.  She served for eight years until being tapped by then-President George W. Bush to head up the Environmental Protection Agency in 2001.  After a series of public disagreements with the Bush Administration, Whitman resigned the post in 2003.

Once she left the Bush cabinet, Whitman wrote a book entitled It's My Party Too in which she criticized the Republican Party's hard lurch to the right in recent years.

Today, perhaps more than ever in modern times, the Republican Party at the national level is allowing itself to be dictated to by a coalition of ideologica l extremists--I call them social fundalmentalists--groups that have claimed the mantle of conservatism and show no inclination to seek bipartisan consensus on anything.

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No More Liberal Boogeymen

During the week leading into the inauguration of Barack Obama, when Pete Seeger led thousands in singing the more radical verses of "This Land is Your Land" and Rahm Emanuel was calling himself a "liberal," it really began to occur to me the extent to which a sea change had occurred. The backlash to the 1960s was finally ending. Liberalism wasn't the taboo it once was. And now, as Mark Leibovich reports in The Times Week in Review today, even conservatives are starting to shy away from trying to tar Democrats with the "L" word, upping the rhetorical ante as they find their previous attempts at smears weren't working (see, e.g., 2006, 2008 elections).

Conservatives might be seeking a spiritual leader, organizing principle and fresh identity, but they at least seem to have settled on a favorite rhetorical ogre: socialism.

As in, Democrats are intent on forcing socialism on the "U.S.S.A" (as the bumper sticker says, under the words "Comrade Obama").

It seems that "socialist" has supplanted "liberal" as the go-to slur among much of a conservative world confronting a one-two-three punch of bank bailouts, budget blowouts and stimulus bills. Right-leaning bloggers and talk radio hosts are wearing out the brickbat. Senate and House Republicans have been tripping over their podiums to invoke it. The S-bomb has become as surefire a red-meat line at conservative gatherings as "Clinton" was in the 1990s and "Pelosi" is today.

I don't think we're necessarily going to see a massive shift in the ideological identification of the electorate just yet, as the reluctance of many Democrats to call themselves Liberals is still palpable. That said, this does have the feel of the beginning of a new era, one in which Democrats aren't afraid to admit that they are Democrats, or that they are liberal -- and, more importantly, that the party doesn't reflexively allow the Republicans to set the ground rules for the important political battles.

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Celebrate 1/20/09

Change is in the air! Today, one of the worst eras in American history will come to a close (lasting legacy of economic depression aside), and a new, almost certainly MUCH better era will begin. It is time to celebrate. How will you celebrate the end of the Bush regime and the beginning of the Obama Presidency? With the passing of one very depressing era, and the start of a new, very hopeful one, I am considering several ways to commemorate the event.

Perhaps it is time to show my pride as a liberal American. Be PROUD to be a liberal American. Our nation was founded on liberal principles and we should remind everyone around us that it is PATRIOTIC to be liberal.

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A gift from two friends.

This is about my friends, how amazing they are to me.  

My new friend:

I recently posted about a community whose rights are routinely ignored, stripped and abused.  I took a risk in writing it because I know very little about the community.  I spoke about what I do know; about my belief that the law works for everyone or it works for no one.  I have no friends, no family, no coworkers in this group of people.  Yet, as a human being, a father and a citizen I have reached a point where I can no longer sit by while others are bullied simply because they are different and fewer in numbers.  So, I spoke out from my heart that how we the large groups treat the smaller, how the strong treat the weak yields a foul harvest for all of us. 

(Cross posted at The National Gadfly)

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Diaries

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