Big Brother Sam?
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Sam Alito is just a radical right-wing tool. You know that, I know that, and everyone in Washington knows that.
The hearings are mostly a waste of time, because whatever Alito tells the Senate - and it won't be much - will be moot the day he walks into the Court. From that day on, Alito will be an indentured slave to Scalia, Thomas, and Roberts.
Progressives understand the devastation this Gang of Four will produce. They will outlaw abortion and force women back into back alleys. (They might outlaw contraception too, just for the sick fun of it.) They will end affirmative action and leave poor blacks behind, just as FEMA did in New Orleans. They will rule in favor of every corporate polluter and against every environmentalist. They will rule in favor of every brutal cop and corrupt D.A. and against every innocent victim. They will appoint Republicans in every close election. And they will rule that Republican Presidents can start illegal wars, torture prisoners, spy on American citizens, and otherwise rule like fascist dictators.
We all know this. The problem is, the 97% of Americans who don't read progressive blogs don't know these things. And because Karl Rove controls the Corporate Media, they will not learn these things - unless we tell them.
This evening a few bloggers - Susie Madrak, Liza Sabater, Morgaine Swann, and myself - chatted about the problem of explaining the threat of Sam Alito to our less-informed neighbors. Obviously it's impossible to discuss all of the important issues and cases in detail. So how can we communicate these issues - and make them real to regular folks - in digestible sound bites?
One strategy we seemed to agree on was to find a simple way to "name" Alito that would express the fundamental reasons why Alito would be a disaster on the Supreme Court.
We kicked around various possible names. I'll present them in the order I currently like best. I'd love some feedback - including names we haven't thought of.
Susie, Liza, and Morgaine will be doing similar "focus groups." I encourage you to visit their blogs and see if you can find the "magic words" that will help us convince our friends and neighbors to Defeato Alito.
Big Brother Sam: The NSA wiretapping scandal has made Americans aware that Bush sees no limits to his presidential powers. Americans understand how powerful technology can be, and they don't like the idea of Big Brother watching them. Alito endorses the "unitary theory" of the Presidency - the theory that says the President's powers are unlimited.
Stealthy Sam: While Alito's record sets off alarm bells, his demeanor is deliberately subdued to put his potential opponents to sleep. As Barbara O'Brien writes,
The meta-message about Alito seeping through to news consumers is, I’m afraid, that he’s not so bad. Even the usually sharp Keith Olbermann made Alito out to be a moderate who wouldn’t really do all those nasty things people say he might do, like reverse Roe. That memo from 1985 was just something he said to get a job. Now, he says he is “keeping an open mind.”...
Dan Abrams called the hearings “boring.” Is boring the effect the Republicans are going for? (How extreme can Alito be, if he’s boring? How can anyone that mundane be dangerous?)
The word for today, boys and girls, is stealthy...
Slippery Sam: This is similar to stealthy, but slightly less ominous. It seems to fit some of his answers, for example on the question of birth control, which was legalized in the 1965 Griswold decision:
"I agree that Griswold now is understood by the Supreme Court based on the liberty clauses of the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment and the 14th Amendment."
What they hell does "now is understood by the Supreme Court" mean? When Alito gets on the Supreme Court, will he join Scalia, Thomas, and Roberts in changing how it will be "understood by the Supreme Court" in the future - by reversing it?
Say Anything Sam: In the pre-hearings phase, Alito acquired a reputation of someone who would say anything to please his bosses. In that way he resembles Harriet Miers - although no one has yet found a quote of Alito calling Bush the "most brilliant man he's ever met." Armando summarizes Alito's testimony as:
Say Anything Sammy is saying 'Hey, I needed to kiss up to the boss. What do you want from me?
In other words, the question for Say Anything Sammy is "were you lying then or are you lying now?"
Sexist Sam: The National Association of Women Lawyers says:
Judge Alito's jurisprudence in the area of women's rights has not been restrained, as some have characterized his general judicial approach; rather, he has too often engaged in strained legal reasoning to effect a narrowing of women's rights beyond the intent of statutes and precedent.
In Ms. Magazine, Martha Burk writes:
During his 15 years on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, he compiled a stunning record of backing corporations over workers in sex and race discrimination cases. He has bragged that he is “particularly proud” of his work in opposing affirmative action, and never expressed regret for joining a militantly anti-woman club dedicated to keeping women out of Princeton.
Here are some more possibilities:
Sam the Sham: suggested by Bill Harding below
Yes Man Sam
Slick Sammy: Does Alito think Roe v. Wade is "settled law"? As Salon's Tim Grieve points out, it all depends on the meaning of "settled":
"If 'settled' means it can't be reexamined, that's one thing," Alito said. "If 'settled' means it is a precedent entitled to respect as stare decisis. . . then it is a precedent that is protected, entitled to respect under the doctrine of stare decisis in that way."
The structure of Alito's equivocation rang a bell with us, as it should have with Republicans who were once up in arms over a similar statement made by someone else. During Bill Clinton's grand jury testimony in 1998, the president said, famously and not unreasonably, "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is." Then he added: "If 'is' means is and never has been, that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement."
That wasn't good enough for Republicans who pushed for Clinton's impeachment. Why should Alito's equivocation on Roe be good enough now?
Serial Liar Sam
Police State Sam
Strip-Search Sam: Jane Hamsher likes this one.
Machine Gun Sammy: This has its own web site and photo!
Back Alley Sam
Wrong Way Sam
BorkAlito: Armando likes this one.
As uncovered by The Washington Post, Alito, in 1988, did not just say that he supported Bork's nomination, but also made clear that Bork was his ideal for what a Supreme Court Justice ought to be.
Alito the Elitist
Sam “Trust Me” Alito
Wrong Judge, Wrong Time
What Are You Hiding, Sam?
Just Another Radical Republican
Which of these do you like best? Can you think of others that would be even better? If we're going to Defeato Alito, we need your help!
Update 1: Morgaine at The-Goddess likes Say Anything Sam
Well, we learned one thing in today’s Supreme Court Nominee Hearing - Sam Alito will say any damned thing he has to to get a job. It seems like every time they ask him about some of his past statements he was just saying what he thought they wanted to hear to give him the job.
Dr. Phil says the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Sam Alito must be telling the Senators what he thinks they want to hear. What did he tell President Bush to get this nomination?
• He had to promise to overturn Roe v. Wade
• He had to express support for unfettered executive powers for the President
• He had to guarantee to keep Congress from checking the President’s actions.
• He probably supported the whole Radical Christian agenda. Theocracy, here we come!
Sam Alito always says what his boss wants to hear. Then he does as he damned well pleases when he gets it.
He is the most RADICAL judge in the Third Circuit Court. He dissents more often than any other judge.
90% of his decisions support the Radical Right Wing agenda. He decides against racial and sexual discrimination plaintiffs 85% of the time.
He’s the perfect judge if you’re a rich, white man. For the other 99 per cent of America,
Sam Alito is the Wrong Judge at the Wrong Time
Say ‘NO’ to Say Anything Sam Alito
Update 3: Barbara O'Brien offers more evidence that Alito is a stealth candidate by comparing his non-answers on our Constitutional right to privacy to the crystal-clear answers of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.