Kagan confirmed 63-37

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Hat Tip: By JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, Associated Press

WASHINGTON – The Senate confirmed Elena Kagan Thursday as the Supreme Court’s 112th justice and the fourth woman in its history, granting a lifetime term to a lawyer and academic with a reputation for brilliance, a dry sense of humor and a liberal bent.

The vote was 63-37 for President Barack Obama’s nominee to succeed

Justice Elena Kagan

retired Justice John Paul Stevens.

Five Republicans joined all but one Democrat and the Senate’s two independents to support Kagan.

Kagan watched the vote with her Justice Department colleagues in the solicitor general’s conference room, the White House said.

Obama, traveling in Chicago, said her confirmation was an affirmation of her character and judicial temperament, and called the addition of another woman to the court a sign of progress for the country.

Kagan is the first Supreme Court nominee in nearly 40 years with no experience as a judge, and her swearing-in will mark the first time in history that three women will serve on the nine-member court together.

Her lack of judicial experience was the stated reason for one fence-sitting Republican, Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, to announce his opposition to Kagan’s confirmation Thursday, just hours before the vote.

“The best umpires, to use the popular analogy, must not only call balls and strikes, but also have spent enough time on the playing field to know the strike zone,” Brown said.

In my skeptical opinion, Scott Brown cast a political vote wholly without merit in order to preserve his future political viability as a Republican presidential candidate.

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We’re in Hell

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I remember it like it was yesterday.  In the fall of 1994, I was an intern for the North Carolina Democratic Party. The 1994 elections were a watershed of fear, racist projection, and ignorance. The election night parties were full of tears and slack jaws as damn near everyone went down.  I went home with my tail between my legs.

Devastated by the previous evening’s events and looking for solace I stepped into the HBCU counseling center office of my play mom, Ms. Chisholm.  A South Carolina native, she made everyone feel like family but wasn’t a stereotypical, syrupy sweet, southern Mom. She looked up and saw the newspapers I had collected announcing the Republican sweep and said gravely, “we’re in Hell.”

This week has felt like that as a veil of ignorance and fear descended over Washington in the wake of Scott Brown’s election to the United States Senate in Massachusetts.  A wake up call to be sure, it provoked some interesting reactions and farcical moments.   As the president finally located his stones and called for a broad tax on the predatory banks to recoup the trillions in bailout largess they extorted from the U.S. Treasury, the Supreme Court reversed a century of precedent and plunged the United States back into the Gilded Age of Robber Barons and monopolistic trusts.

President Obama only had a year-long window to make any kind of change and he squandered it by trying to compromise with the Republicans, the banks, and the insurance companies.  Everything from here on out will be filibustered unless Harry Reid uses reconciliation.  But even that handy little tool will be useless with the new toy the Supreme Court has given our corporate overlords.

Campaign Finance Reform, an issue I care deeply about but never discuss was front and center yesterday as the Supreme Court struck down any limits on corporate independent expenditure campaigns on free speech grounds.  They now have the power to use their general treasuries and their billions in profits to buy every friendly politician in sight or mount saturation level campaigns targeted at their political enemies.

Scared by the browning of America and the Presidency of Barack Obama, the Supreme Court finally pulled the trigger on fascism, shredded the constitution under the guise of interpreting it, and effectively destroyed our Democracy.  The Republicans will finally be able to rely on an endless tsunami of cash to fund their campaigns and elections will be nothing more than contests to see who can most effectively whore out to the corporations.

I refuse to participate in, to borrow a phrase from Keith Olbermann, a “farcical perversion.” I will finish this election season out and work for the candidates I have committed to but this is Skeptical Brotha’s last campaign.  I’m done.  I am going to do what I should have done years ago and finally learn Spanish and French.  I am going to leave this country and go somewhere that doesn’t elevate the rights of corporations over the rights of people.  I love my Momma.  I love my Daddy.  I love my family, but I refuse to stay here and be a slave on this corporate plantation.

If Troy Davis Dies, blame the Clintons

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If anyone has sought to confuse you or just plain insult your intelligence by intimating that the United States has entered into a “post-racial” age of enlightenment, you have this Skeptical Brotha’s permission to curse them out so hard that they beg your forgiveness.  All one really has to do, if the aforemetioned is unappealing, is just say two words: Troy Davis.

I am primitive enough to actually believe in the death penalty despite knowing full well that the way in which it is administered discriminates against people on the basis of race and class.  I am also old fashioned enough to want any would be victimizers of me or my family to pay the ultimate price. 

The case against Georgia Death Row Inmate Troy Davis, 38, changes all that for me and it has me reconsidering  the fundamentally corrosive nature of prolonged righteous rage brought on by the machinery of death.  The family of the murdered police officer  is prevented from having closure and so is the family of Troy Davis who are convinced of his innocence.

Anger and rage are the essential building blocks of any activism for good causes, but they are also the essential tools of the demagogue.

This is where Bill and Hillary Clinton come in.  In the run up to the 1992 New Hampshire primary, Bill Clinton left the campaign trail and the questions surrounding the revelation of his affair wth Gennifer Flowers to execute a brain damaged brotha, Ricky Ray Rector. 

Christopher Hitchens was blunt:

I disliked Clinton because of the Ricky Ray Rector business. He left New Hampshire to go back to Arkansas and execute a man who was essentially unfit to plead–he certainly didn’t understand the charges against him,  would have met any ordinary definition of clemency.  I don’t think the Chinese execute people who are mentally disabled.  Rector was lobotomized. And it was clear that Clinton did what he did to send a racist signal.  It was as clear as it could possibly be.  The week of Gennifer Flowers he kept saying, “Why don’t we talk about the issues?”  So I asked him this: “Isn’t executing a mentally retarded black man for votes a clearer indication of what your morality is than what you do with blondes on the side?” Clinton turned his back on me. Walked away.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that the Clintons dipped into the well of racism against Barack Obama having deliberately used the unjustified execution of a black man to make a naked racial appeal to whitefolks back in 1992. 

Once elected, Bill and Hillary Clinton continued turning their backs on justice.  Bill signed the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996.

According to Amnesty International:

President Bill Clinton signed the AEDPA into law on 24 April 1996. “I have long sought to streamline federal appeals for convicted criminals sentenced to the death penalty,” he said at the signing; “For too long, and in too many cases, endless death row appeals have stood in the way of justice being served.”  He added that “from now on, criminals sentenced to death for their vicious crimes will no longer be able to use endless appeals to delay their sentences.”

The Act placed new, unprecedented restrictions on prisioners raising claims of constitutional violations.  It imposed severe time limits on the raising of constitutional claims, restricted the federal courts ability to review state court decisions, placed limits on federal courts granting and conducting evidentiary hearings, and prohibited “successive” appeals except in very narrow circumstances.

As one leading lawyer has said “The provisions of the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 restricting the power of federal courts to correct constitutional error in criminal cases represent a decision tat results are more important than process, that finality is more important than fairness, and that proceeding with executions is more important than determining whether convictions and sentences were obtained fairly and reliably.”

Under the AEDPA, once Troy Davis’ conviction and death sentence had been upheld by the Georgia Courts, the possibility of relief in the federal courts was curtailed. Federal relief was only permissible if the decision of a state court had “resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved in an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States.”  This deferential “reasonableness” standard represented “a remarkable departure from the traditional role of federal courts…to declare what the law is.”

The amazing thing about the case against Troy Davis is that there is literally no case.  There is no physical evidence at all. No DNA, no murder weapon, no fingerprints, no footprints. Nothing.  All there was against the brotha was the perjured testimony of coerced witnesses, 7 of whom now say in signed affidavits that one of their number was the real killer and that the combined effects of sloppy police work, prosecutorial misconduct, ineffective assistance of counsel, and their fear of the real killer, produced this twisted and tragic result.

The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles delayed this execution for over a year to supposedly investigate the claims of innocence here thoroughly and completely. They still came to the same racist result as the orignial jury and every court of review.

At the end of the line and with state court appeals exhausted, executive clemency denied, and all federal appeals over, they appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court one last time. The Supremes delayed the execution until next Monday.  While a six-day repreive is cause for celebration for some, I am not hopeful.   A Supreme Court that would essentially overturn Brown v. Board of Education is a Supreme Court that will come up with some convoluted, racist rationale for the execution of the innocent.   Only time will tell.

The only thing I know for sure is that if Troy Davis dies, you can blame the Clintons for setting him up and sabotaging his legitimate claim of innocence.