Sparks Fly at Alito Hearing

We were waiting for some fireworks at Judge Sam Alito's confirmation hearing. Tuesday was definitely dullsville. We wanted sparks to fly. We wanted to hear

Bell's going to ring
Hear the alarms
Better tell the fire chief
To quit playing cards

Senators Kennedy and Schumer came close. with a raucous-ey dust-up over Kennedy's request for the CAP records. Crooks and Liars has the video. Think Progress has the timeline.

Then there was Mrs. Alito's tears, seized on by the MSM as a defining moment of the day.

Please. While I'm not convinced as is Jane they were crocodile tears, engineered by Sen. Lindsay Graham, I do think they were pretty lame. Read James Wolcott who calls Ms. Alito the "new first lady of the American Theater." Then again, consider this, from Time Magazine Wednesday night:

The always-alert Creative Response Concepts, a conservative public relations firm, sent this bulletin: "Former Alito clerk Gary Rubman witnessed Mrs. Alito leaving her husband's confirmation in tears and is available for interviews, along with other former Alito clerks who know her personally and are very upset about this development."

I also think Lindsay Graham has some explaining to do about his dual role as murder board coach and hearing officer.

As to the Democratic Senators, their questioning was much improved today. Here's the transcript.

Sen. Dick Durbin gets high marks for bringing out Judge Alito's record on civil rights and liberties issues:

Durbin cited rulings in cases involving a black man accused of murder, a retarded man who had been sexually molested and an injury at a coal work site. He said that in each case, Alito had made rulings that favored the powerful at the expense of the powerless. “I find this as a recurring pattern, and it raises the question in my mind whether the average person, the dispossessed person, the poor person who finally has their day in court ... are going to be subject to the crushing hand of fate when it comes to your decisions.”

Sen. Feingold is due praise for questioning Alito on the death penalty:

FEINGOLD: According to two independent studies, your record in death penalty case has been more anti-capital defendant even than most Republican-appointed judges. In fact, in every disputed capital case that you heard -- that is, cases in which a panel of three judges did not all agree -- you would have ruled against the defendant. How do you explain this seeming tendency to favor the government in capital cases?

Alito responds he's voted in favor of some capital defendants and habeas petitioners.

Alito then slip-slides over a question posed twice by Feingold as to whether the court is going in the right direction by paying more attention to issues such as inadequacy of counsel in death cases. Then, there is this exchange:

FEINGOLD: Justice Stevens recently gave a speech at the American Bar Association in which he raised a number of serious concerns about the administration of the death penalty. He pointed to aspects of capital proceedings that he believes unfairly tilt the balance in favor of the prosecution, both at the trial and sentencing stages.

Specifically, he raised concerns about the jury selection process, arguing that jurors are questioned so extensively about the death penalty that they might assume their role is primarily to decide the sentence for a presumptively guilty defendant. He also argued that representation of indigent defendants remains an issue that has not been adequately addressed. And he noted that elected state judges may have a, quote, "subtle bias," unquote, in favor of death because they have to face re-election.

Now, I know all of us on this committee have the greatest respect for state court judges, but we all can understand the pressures of a re-election campaign. So, what are your views on the potential of these three issues -- the jury selection, the inadequate representation and an elected judiciary -- to skew a capital prosecution against the defendant?

And do you share these concerns that Justice Stevens outlined?

ALITO: I certainly share a concern that there should be a fair procedure for the selection of jurors. That certainly is a concern.

The issue of the election of judges at the state level or the appointment of judges at the state level is a matter for state legislatures to decide....based on my experience, I think you can have highly competent and, certainly, conscientious state judges who are appointed and the same sort of judges who are elected.

And, of course, we do have habeas corpus. And it is important to make sure that constitutional rights are respected.

...FEINGOLD: Can you just tell me what your general approach to the Eighth Amendment would be in the context of the death penalty?

ALITO: My approach would be to work within the body of precedent that we have.

I'm not reassured by Alito's responses. They were pat, boilerplate and coached, devoid of any sense of compassion. Does he have a personality? I'm not seeing it.

< Alito's Disturbing Response to Questions About Foreign Law | Alito: Roe v. Wade Could Be Subject to Revisiting >
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    Re: Sparks Fly at Alito Hearing (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Jan 12, 2006 at 08:52:58 AM EST
    And beyond Graham Russ Feingold just named two other Alito "murder board" coaches: Benjamin Powell and Harriet Miers, both of whom were involved in attempting to devise a legal justifications for Bush's domestic spying policy. Nice work if you can get it.

    Re: Sparks Fly at Alito Hearing (none / 0) (#2)
    by Slado on Thu Jan 12, 2006 at 09:17:36 AM EST
    The fact that opponents of Alito have to alledge crocodile tears only shows he will be confirmed. Alito is qualified to serve as a justice. Dems have conceded this. They are looking for a smoking gun and CAP/decisions aren't doing the job.

    Re: Sparks Fly at Alito Hearing (none / 0) (#3)
    by glanton on Thu Jan 12, 2006 at 09:36:57 AM EST
    Read James Wolcott who calls Ms. Alito the "new first lady of the American Theater."
    Yeah, I called something to that effect yesterday, but I think the term "first lady" ignores how universal the plague is, that Mrs. Alito symptomized. This affectation of civility/gentility/whatever even as they strip away fundamental American rights, this is the modis operendi.

    Re: Sparks Fly at Alito Hearing (none / 0) (#4)
    by glanton on Thu Jan 12, 2006 at 09:44:35 AM EST
    p.s. Wonderful graphic for the Crying Banshee! :-0

    Re: Sparks Fly at Alito Hearing (none / 0) (#5)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Jan 12, 2006 at 11:17:39 AM EST
    charlienolink - Your comments continue to be of such quality that if you didn't exist, the Repubs would have to invent you. And your attack words are very useful by anyone on the Right who wants to post them as an example of the venom of the Left. Because you are factually incorrect. The "strip search" you refer to was legal, there was a warrant and the search of the child was done by a female police officer. And none of this information is not known. So you must know, so you are just being "attack dog." That may make you feel good, but it won't win any hearts and minds. And that's how you win elections, charlie.

    Re: Sparks Fly at Alito Hearing (none / 0) (#6)
    by pigwiggle on Thu Jan 12, 2006 at 11:40:14 AM EST
    Yah, it’s theater; everyone has done their homework, there are no surprises, and no will for a filibuster, it appears all the votes are in place. Short of the Democrats producing another Anita Hill, Judge Alito will be confirmed. So, yah, theater all around; my favorite was Senator Biden’s 15 minute rambling invective about, what was it, that he didn’t like Princeton? And Senator Hatch’s softballs were a hoot too. It’s all so inspiring.

    Re: Sparks Fly at Alito Hearing (none / 0) (#7)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Jan 12, 2006 at 11:43:33 AM EST
    Hmmm, I guess she would only get your sympathy if she was a welfare-sucking crack-whore, dyke that received a stiff prison sentence, eh Glanton?

    Re: Sparks Fly at Alito Hearing (none / 0) (#8)
    by glanton on Thu Jan 12, 2006 at 11:48:53 AM EST
    Variable: Nice. You're one of my favorites, at least you don't pretend civility or reasonableness, you just wear it all on your sleeve. Oh that the pols you voted for, and several posters here, were only half as honest as you, my friend.

    Re: Sparks Fly at Alito Hearing (none / 0) (#9)
    by Jlvngstn on Thu Jan 12, 2006 at 11:55:08 AM EST
    PPJ: How many elections have you served as a campaign manager or a consultant to the victorious party? Because you are always pontificating as to the best way to win an election, i can only assume that you have managed several campaigns. I have no idea why his wife was crying but the sword swings both ways here, any dem that would make light of it or pick on her for it is a coward. Likewise and idiot republican that would attack a demo who questioned whether or not it was staged is equally evil. The questions were softballs filled with 10-15 minutes of blah blah blah by the monkey asking the question, and the answers were canned at best. He is a well qualified jurist and will be confirmed, the dems have to live with their inability to beat Dan Quayle's intellectual equal....

    Re: Sparks Fly at Alito Hearing (none / 0) (#10)
    by glanton on Thu Jan 12, 2006 at 12:01:33 PM EST
    any dem that would make light of it or pick on her for it is a coward
    Ahhh, the "moderates" are often my favorite. As if all is equal under the sun. Problem is it's all b.s. There are real people with real problems in this country, jliv. To take her little performance seriously would be about as naive as it gets. The only reasonable approach is to make light of it, to appreciate and enjoy it for the high theatric that it undoubtedly is. So pass the popcorn. It's only going to get more red-herringish, more silly, month by month. By the time the midterms roll around we'll probably be embroiled in a national debate over the "War on Thanksgiving": And we'd better not make light of it! Stay alert, have appropriate conversations, and stay with Fox.

    Re: Sparks Fly at Alito Hearing (none / 0) (#11)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Jan 12, 2006 at 12:08:59 PM EST
    Re: Sparks Fly at Alito Hearing (none / 0) (#12)
    by kdog on Thu Jan 12, 2006 at 12:56:12 PM EST
    AAAWWWWW...The Senate made that poor lady cry. Puh-lease. I do agree with most here that the hearings are a big joke. How could they be anything else when everybody had their mind made up beforehand, both pro and con?

    Re: Sparks Fly at Alito Hearing (none / 0) (#13)
    by Jlvngstn on Thu Jan 12, 2006 at 01:04:13 PM EST
    Glanton, it really is not my problem that your party could not beat a man that cannot speak in complete sentences. Do you hear how preposterous your statement is? That she and her husband conspired for her to cry to elicit sympathy and stifle the dems in congress who are trying to avoid his nomination? Seems to me that Bush got elected because the dems are a party in disarray and now the hard core dems are so desperate they have to pick on a guys wife. That is cowardly. I don't want to see him nominated any more than the next leftie in line, but i am hard pressed to huddle into a conspiracy theory....

    Re: Sparks Fly at Alito Hearing (none / 0) (#14)
    by glanton on Thu Jan 12, 2006 at 01:15:59 PM EST
    Jl, Please do not refer to the Democrats as my party. It was with a heavy heart that I voted Democratic the last two big elections, and I shan't be fooled into doing it again unless they give me a candidate worth a flip. Which aint gonna happen. Second, no, it's not a stretch to conceive they planned it, not in this cultural moment where everything and anything but the issues at stake take center stage during an election. The GOP has proven itself masterful at dropping something in to distract people, whether it be flag burning, boys kissing, the "War on Christmas," you name it, anything to keep people's already unsteady eyes off the ball. But perhaps you're right. Perhaps they didn't plan it. In which case I cheerfully invoke TL's point that it then becomes simply 'lame.' Faced with a judge getting all set up to tear down inalienable rights by the gobful, that judge's wife crying means about as much to me as would Bill Gates's 'financial worries.' At any rate, no matter how you slice it, there is zero cowardice in laughing at this woman and at the tactics in general. Indeed, laughter is better than getting angry about such behavior; I say appreciate the theater of it all, and even moreso the utter foolhardiness of this population, for what it is, and go on with your life as best you can.

    Re: Sparks Fly at Alito Hearing (none / 0) (#15)
    by Jlvngstn on Thu Jan 12, 2006 at 02:22:58 PM EST
    Sorry for placing you in the left party. Truth is, the is still asleep at the wheel and this country deserves such nominations. As for laughing at a woman crying, I stand by the comment that it demonstrates cowardice. Writing a letter to Alito and Bush telling them that you are offended by her acting, now that takes courage. So what will it be, an anonymous annoyance on the web, or a letter denouncing their complicity in an attempt to subvert the nomination process?

    Re: Sparks Fly at Alito Hearing (none / 0) (#16)
    by glanton on Thu Jan 12, 2006 at 02:56:44 PM EST
    JL, Such a letter would go unread by either man. Now. You could argue that whaveter flunkie who leafs through these private letters would put me on some sort of "ter'ist" watch list, or something analagous to it. Then I suppose some mettle might be involved. As for posting what I think on a blog, that is my right, and in my mind constitutes neither and act of courage nor one of cowardice. It is just a guy saying what's on his mind, period.

    Re: Sparks Fly at Alito Hearing (none / 0) (#17)
    by Jlvngstn on Thu Jan 12, 2006 at 03:09:52 PM EST
    At least a letter would allow you to voice your concern with the alleged culprits. Blame the MSM for sensationalizing the tears, not the person who cried them. It is also a non issue, but the fact that blogs are covering it and the righties are all over it claiming an attack, allows it to take away from real issues......

    Re: Sparks Fly at Alito Hearing (none / 0) (#18)
    by Sailor on Thu Jan 12, 2006 at 03:27:19 PM EST
    Sen. Lindsay Graham was the one who made her cry, and he coached her husband, and all the rethug lie machines went into full attack mode immediately. I smell a set up. BTW, if I had one bit of advice for scAlito, it would be the same one I have for every bushco official; "answer the g!@#$%^! question!"

    Re: Sparks Fly at Alito Hearing (none / 0) (#19)
    by glanton on Thu Jan 12, 2006 at 04:01:33 PM EST
    JL: Oh, something always takes away from the real issues. If it hadn't been this it would have been something else. That's what's so spectacular about it. It is indeed high tragic-comedy. It is also another reason why a letter of protest would be stupid, for it would imply that this was out of the ordinary. Like protesting a lightning bolt.

    Re: Sparks Fly at Alito Hearing (none / 0) (#20)
    by Jlvngstn on Fri Jan 13, 2006 at 06:35:47 AM EST
    Glanton: I would suggest we focus our energies on those that are exacerbating the issue, such as FOX news, who had this caption on their newscast:
    During a segment devoted to the episode on the January 12 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto, the onscreen text read: "Will vicious Dems pay for driving Alito's wife to tears?"