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Live Blog: Sotomayor Confirmation Hearings

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Yesterday Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) made a complete fool of himself, — twice, actually

This morning, Sen. Jeff Sessions…castigated Sotomayor for not ruling with her fellow Puerto Rican colleague, conservative Judge José A. Cabranes, when she decided to deny an en banc appeal in Ricci v. DeStefano, a process in which all judges of a court hear a case (as opposed to a three-judge panel of them). Sessions seemed to indicate that people of the same ancestry should vote the same way:

SESSIONS: You voted not to reconsider the prior case. You voted to stay with the decision of the circuit. And in fact your vote was the key vote. Had you voted with Judge Cabranes, himself of Puerto Rican ancestry, had you voted with him, you could’ve changed that case.

Sessions slammed Sotomayor as being “unsuitable for the bench” due to her past affiliation with the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (PRLDEF). Apparently, Sessions didn’t realize that Judge Cabranes also served on PRLDEF’s board.

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) wasn’t far behind. He asked Sotomayor:

“Doesn’t your decision in Maloney mean that virtually any state or local weapons ban would be permissible?” he asked.

“Sir, in Maloney, we were talking about nunchuck sticks,” the judge explained.

“I understand,” said the senator.

“Those are martial arts sticks,” Sotomayor added.

Hatch did not want to appear to be a ninja newbie. “Two sticks bound together by rawhide or some sort of a –”

“Exactly,” the nominee said. “And when the sticks are swung . . . that swinging mechanism can break arms, it can bust someone’s skull.”

“Sure,” Hatch agreed, breezily. He wasn’t about to get into a fight with an expert in martial arts.

Who will be win the “booby prize” in today’s session? Continue reading

Lindsey Graham would consider nationalizing banks; Barack Obama dithers about preserving capitalist culture

Yesterday, the new U.S. President played basketball and then watched the NBA all-star game with a friend. He’s been enjoying a vacation in Chicago, seemingly unconcerned that we are in the midst of a financial crisis the like of which we haven’t seen since the 1930s.

Not everyone is so relaxed and carefree. Yesterday Nouriel Roubini wrote in the Washington Post that “We’re all Swedes now,” arguing that the US banking system is on the ropes and the only solution is nationalization. But Barack Obama insists we just can’t do that because we are Americans–or something like that.

“Obviously Sweden has a different set of cultures in terms of how the government relates to markets and, and America’s different. And we want to retain a strong sense of that private capital fulfilling the core — core investment needs of this country,” he says. “And so, what we’ve tried to do is to apply some of the tough love that’s going to be necessary, but do it in a way that’s also recognizing we’ve got big private capital markets and, and ultimately that’s going to be the key to getting credit flowing again. ”

Continue reading