Wednesday, July 15, 2009

(Associate) Justice Sotomayor + Michael Moreci + Twitteration

Sonia Sotomayor at Senate Confirmation HearingsOn the Cave Canem listserve, one of the poets asked about impressions of the US Senate hearings to confirm Justice Sonia Sotomayor (right, Charles Dharapak / Associated Press) as an Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court, and here's my response:

Based on the little of her testimony I've heard or seen, I've found Justice Sotomayor very impressive. She's incredibly smart, knowledgeable, cool under fire, and charming. I want her on the nation's highest court. Unfortunately during the hearings she's had to deal with lots of nonsense and some outright racist crap from several Republicans (Tom Coburn quoting Desi Arnaz's Ricky Ricardo character in dialect today; Jeff Sessions, a well known racist, asking her why she didn't vote the same way as a conservative Puerto Rican judge because they were both Puerto Rican; John Kyl ranting at her for 10 minutes before she could get a word in at all; etc.). It's disgraceful. I really do hope Latinos and everyone else is taking note of this stuff. On top of this, GOP-related entities are running ads calling the Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund a "terrorist" organization, and various high profile Republicans have trashed Sotomayor in a way they'd never do even for a white liberal judge they disliked.

Why on earth is Frank Ricci being brought in at all? Why not bring in all the winning and losing plaintiffs in cases she's adjudicated? It's just more nonsense.

One thing I wish someone in the media would just articulate concerning her "Wise Latina" comment is that most people in this country--i.e., the vast majority of us--who are not straight upper-middle-class and rich white males--the people who still run and control the majority of everything in this society (and many others)--must learn to see the world as they do, at some point, to advance in the society while also developing our own perspectives. As a working-class woman of Latino heritage who has risen all the way to an appellate court judge now on the cusp of joining the Supreme Court of the United States, she would have had to learn to see the world, and apply many of those lessons, in ways that many of the people currently on the courts do and cannot not. I don't see her statement as controversial at all, but I also don't understand why more people don't break it down, perhaps even more simply than I have.
It is a form of bad Kabuki theater, of course. The GOP knows she will be confirmed. They know they are turning off latinos, other people of color, women, Obama supporters, anyone with any sense of decency. But the point is to create a spectacle that warms their base, roughs up Obama and the ever timorous Democrats a bit, and wounds her if possible. It's also catnip for the media, who live for this sort of thing, as it gives them an opportunity to pontificate ad nauseam using whatever talking points, shreds of cocktail party chatter, and vaguely digested commentariat and blog postings they've come across. And they also get to justify trotting out real nuts like Pat "Putzi" Buchanan, an avowed white supremacist who should have been retired a long time ago.

This is what I wrote on the CC listserve about Putzi, who is once again at its highest pitch. I'm going to ask this, though I already know the answer: could any black person, any latino, any asian american, even any woman, go on like this man does year after year and still be given a public platform as MSNBC does with him?

Randall H., I don't know if you recall when Pat Buchanan ran for the presidency, but he was basically running a Nazi-esque annex for the GOP. Years ago he propagandized for J. Edgar Hoover and circulated smears against Martin Luther King Jr. The man wrote speeches for Richard Nixon and has always been a notorious race baiter, anti-Semite, and white supremacist. Over the years his comments about black folks, latinos, Jews, feminists and women in general, and LGBTQ folks have gone beyond hateful. He has often spewed his racist crap to major journalists and media outlets, without penalty. It never ceases to astonish me that someone who is such an outright, virulent white supremacist is given carte-blanche to appear at will on a major cable TV station, but he is, and the hosts just smile and wink and act like he's not so horrendous. At this point I can't imagine what he might do that would lead to his banning, but then again, whatever that is, it would have to be beyond the pale. Literally.
I look forward to the day, very soon, when Justice Sotomayor is confirmed. Perhaps Buchanan will do us all a favor and spontaneously combust before, if not then.


On another note, I wanted to give props to one of my former graduate students, Michael Moreci. I know Michael primarily as a fiction writer and journalist, but it turns out that he's also a talent of considerable note in the comics/graphic writing world, especially, as he says on his blog, in the UK. His forthcoming graphic novel, with art by Monty Borror, is entitled Quarantine, and will be published by Insomnia Publications in the UK. Insomnia's website describes the book like this:

Quarantine follows a group of survivors trapped in a small town in the Upper Peninsula (U.P.) of Michigan shortly after a biological plague is released into the water supply. This plague turns a person into a homicidal war machine, which forces the borders to close, leaving our band of survivors to fight for their lives.
If you go to his blog, you can see some of the work itself. Congratulations to him.


I remarked about Twitter about a week ago, but I can say that I got the fastest response ever based on a recent tweet. I noted that the PATH system usually reserves the cleaner, less crowded trains for Hoboken-bound travelers during rush hour, sending two for every one of the dirtier, more sardine-packed trains to Journal Square and Newark (of course). This is nothing new, and I've complained about it for years now. It was especially maddening during the years I commuted daily into New York City. But all it took was one tweet stating this, out into the vast and ever growing upper canopy of twittersong out there (and mind you, I had exactly 5 followers at the time, 3 of whom are marketing Twitterbots), and the PATH folks responded. Not of course by promising to improve service or doing so, but with a tweet urging me to sign up for their tweet feeds.

Perhaps if I complain a bit more or organize a mass tweet, they might take note? I hear it is working for airline travelers, so why not public transportation corporations or public utilities?