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This week marked the beginning of Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on President Obama’s nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. But in the minds of many observers, Sotomayor was upstaged as the central figure at the hearings. They have become “about” Jeff Sessions, the Alabama senator who made his first appearance on center stage as ranking member for the Republicans and leader of their effort to derail the nomination. But yesterday was a decidedly bad day for Sessions. As the New Yorker’s Jeff Toobin put it in an appearance on CNN: “What’s worth noting about what Jeff Sessions — the line of questioning, was that being a white man, that’s normal. Everybody else has biases and prejudices … but the white man, they don’t have any ethnicity, they don’t have any gender, they’re just like the normal folks, and I thought that was a little jarring.” Put differently, Sessions’s race- and gender-obsessed questioning ultimately told us much more about the questioner than the nominee. Read my take on the first two days of the Sotomayor hearings at the Daily Beast, and don’t miss Rachel Maddow’s powerful revisit of the Sessions questioning.
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”