What's-Her-Name Loses Security Clearance

Odd that should happen at this long remove from a scandal allegedly resolved in her favor. Judicial Watch has been doggedly on the case, though. Maybe there's more to come.

Longing for the Magic Wand

The latest Hail Mary pass to derail Justice Kavanaugh is a series of ethics complaints filed against him by lawyers, not for anything he ever did on the bench, but for his demeanor at his Senate hearing. Fully a dozen of these complaints alleging him disqualified have made it past initial review, and have been delegated by Chief Justice Roberts to the 10th Circuit.

Well, not to the 10th Circuit exactly. To Chief Judge Timothy Tymkovich, himself a Trump SCOTUS short-lister. Not only that, whines "Above the Law":
Judge Tymkovich is a 2003 George W. Bush appointee, meaning his nomination would have fallen right into that sweet spot when Brett Kavanaugh acted as the judicial nomination shepherd. Amazing how that works! Judge Tymkovich also appeared on the short list of judges considered for a Supreme Court seat — along with Neil Gorsuch and Kavanaugh — because of course he was. It wouldn’t be 2018 without that last bit of salt thrown into the wound.
You know how you could have avoided the salt? Not filing bogus ethics complaints designed to have a single inferior judge undercut a Justice lawfully appointed by a President and confirmed by the Senate.

Say it ain't so

Talks about whom to appoint to the Ninth Circuit "collapsed over the summer," did they?

Changing My Mind about Climate Change?

I've been skeptical of the claims of anthropogenic global warming (AGW), and two climate scientists who have informed my opinion are Richard Lindzen, of MIT, and Judith Curry, of GIT, both retired now. Both of them, however, still considering themselves skeptics, agree that human carbon emissions are causing some warming of the global climate. That has caused a shift in my thinking.

Hand-wringing over "the children"

I used a screen shot because I decline to link either to articles of this type or to the NYT generally. But I've seen too many articles asking a question like this. What's with the inability to explain stuff to kids lately? OK, I don't have any kids, but would I have been at a loss to explain President Obama or Nancy Pelosi? "Kids, you may have heard a lot of talk about how some people in Washington are spawn of the devil. Rest assured that the grownups have this all under control, that a lot of what you're hearing is exaggerated political talk, and that you don't need to believe it literally. People have different ideas about how to solve problems, and sometimes it gets messy, but we work it out in the end. Now do your homework."

My parents voted in different parties, so I learned early that it was possible to remain civil about political disagreements. We were all atheists, but my parents required me to be civil to our churchgoing neighbors and relatives. Why would it be hard to explain that something happened 35 years ago that we're never going to be able to be sure about, so it didn't end up being the decisive issue in the vetting of a new Supreme Court Justice?

Shoot, just have the kids watch "To Kill a Mockingbird" again, and ask them whether they identify mostly strongly with Miss Mae Ellen or with Atticus Finch's client. "It's OK to feel sorry for Miss Mae Ellen, kids, without voting to hang Tom," and "even if all your friends tell you you'd be a traitor to your race if you believe Tom over Miss Mae Ellen, you don't have to go along, and the sooner you learn this, the better."

3 from the Bee

The Left Learns An Important Lesson From The Kavanaugh Fight: They Need To Be Even More Obnoxious

Mike Pence Admits To Heavy Root Beer Drinking In High School

'Kavanaugh Doesn't Have The Right Temperament!' Screams Protester Lobbing Grenade Outside Supreme Court

The 2nd Amendment as a Human Right

Down Brazil way, a presidential candidate wrestles with Brazil's horrible crime rates. The USA always gets compared to Europe in terms of gun violence rates, but Brazil is a much better comparison: it's a large, American nation with a multi-ethnic population and a history of slavery, demographically much more like us than the small ethno-states of Europe. Brazil has very strict gun control, and gun violence rates that dwarf the USA's.

So this candidate has hit upon the unspeakable but obvious answer: give the good people guns.
For many, Bolsonaro has the answer to the question that has preoccupied them for years -- how to lower the crime rate in a country with more than seven murders an hour?

"Give guns to good people," the former paratrooper insisted during campaign meetings.

"If one of us, a civilian or a soldier, is attacked... and if he fires 20 times at the assailant, he should be decorated and not have to go to court," the far-right candidate told a campaign meeting in the northern Rio neighborhood of Madureira in August.

It was a simple speech that hit the mark for Jamaya Beatriz, a manicurist from this violent suburb of Rio De Janeiro.

"I live in a dangerous neighborhood," the young woman said. "If someone breaks into my home, I want to be able to defend my children."
It's an important part of the answer to the violence in Central America, too, that is producing all those refugees on our southern border.

A shifting Court

This is a smarter-than-usual analysis of what happens when the membership of the Supreme Court changes:
I used to think the impact of a seat change is best measured by comparing the new justice to the old one, but that’s wrong. What we really want to know is what happens to the median (or swing) justice. The median justice provides the crucial fifth vote on cases that divide along ideological lines. So when Alito replaced O’Connor in 2005, the Court’s median justice switched from O’Connor to Kennedy. That was a slight rightward shift for the Court as a whole — but a smaller one than might be expected given Alito’s much more conservative record than O’Connor’s.
With Kavanaugh seated, the consensus is that Roberts will become the new median justice. This is a substantial movement to the right for the Court, especially on social issues where Kennedy typically voted with the liberals. Interestingly, in the short run it doesn’t matter where Kavanaugh fits in among the Court’s conservatives. Right now, Roberts is the least conservative, Thomas is the most, and Alito and Gorsuch fall in between. But whether Kavanaugh is closer to Roberts or to Thomas should have little effect on the Court’s rulings, since Roberts as the median justice will control the outcomes.
Where Kavanaugh’s ideology becomes important, however, is in determining the effect of replacing Ginsburg. If Kavanaugh turns out to be an Alito/Gorsuch–type justice, and so does Ginsburg’s replacement — let’s label that mystery person Amy B. — the median justice would be someone from the Alito-Gorsuch-Kavanaugh-Amy B. bloc. If you’re a conservative, shifting the median that far to the right would be a dream come true. It may cause a sea change in constitutional law.
But what if Kavanaugh turns out to be an ideological clone of Roberts? Then replacing Ginsburg with Amy B. would, in theory, have no effect on subsequent cases. The median justice would still have a Roberts-type ideology, and the Court’s decisions would continue to reflect his rightward but incrementalist approach.

Haley Out at UN

In a move that blindsided nearly everyone, Nikki Haley has resigned as UN Ambassador after a superstar performance at the General Assembly. No one seems to know why she's leaving; she says she's not running in 2020, and Trump says he hopes she'll come back in another role.

I've always liked Nikki Haley. I wish her well.

Enjoy the Bias Confirmation

If you thought the recent Grievance Studies Scandal was a hoot and would like to read five academics pile on and utterly confirm your prior biases against all this fashionable nonsense, here's your opportunity.

Update: Five academics, not five philosophers as I originally said.

Less power to the people

There's a lot of squawking this week about how things frustrate the popular vote, as if the Constution read in its entirety: "Do whatever the majority thinks is OK." From the New York Sun:
The job of the Senators is to represent the states.
That’s the Senate’s very purpose. The Left likes to suggest that the only reason for this was to protect slavery. Yet even the original Constitution anticipated an end to slavery. It still made the equal representation of the states in the Senate the only feature of the parchment that could never be amended absent the consent of the state being denied equal representation.
It is the foundation of our federalist system.
Now I admit I had completely forgotten this. The Heritage Guide to the Constitution explains it here:
Article V specifies the means by which the Constitution of the United States can be amended. It ends by forbidding amendments that would repeal the language in Article I, Section 9, which prohibits a ban on the importation of slaves prior to 1808, or the language in Article I, Section 3, which provides for equal representation of the states in the Senate. These are the only textually entrenched provisions of the Constitution. The first prohibition was absolute but of limited duration—it was to be in force for only twenty years; the second was less absolute—"no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate"—but permanent.


Looks to me like a bunch of "toss-ups" just edged into the "red" column.  Republicans need 20 of the remaining 32 toss-ups to retain the majority in the House.

Quit drawing the wrong conclusions!

I've stayed away from the latest StudiesStudiesGate story, not because it isn't one of the funniest things I've read in years, but I suppose because it felt too much like piling on from the right.  I initially clicked on an Atlantic article because it promised to buck the trend by sharing the thoughts of a disappointed progressive who was genuinely chagrined by what the hoax revealed about the state of Trendy academia.  Indeed, the article started out that way, even revealing one nugget that I'd managed to miss before:  the hoaxers got someone to publish an article suggesting that the remedy for excessively patriarchal astronomy was to encourage the field not only of feminist astrology but . . . interpretive dance.  Now, I thought "interpretive dance" was a "tell" for even the least observant, but, OK, these academics really were that dense and humorless.

The author goes on, however, to warn us not to make too much of this embarrassment:
Like just about everything else in this depressing national moment, Sokal Squared is already being used as ammunition in the great American culture war. Many conservatives who are deeply hostile to the science of climate change, and who dismiss out of hand the studies that attest to deep injustices in our society, are using Sokol Squared to smear all academics as biased culture warriors. The Federalist, a right-wing news and commentary site, went so far as to spread the apparent ideological bias of a few journals in one particular corner of academia to most professors, the mainstream media, and Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Now they've gone too far.  Undermine American academia all you like, you heartless right-wingers, but don't attack the integrity of the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee.  They're all that stands between us and an erosion of bedrock principles like due process and the presumption of innocence.

By the way, I think it's just awful how Dr. Ford doesn't get the respect she deserves for her psychology Ph. D.  I've just recovered a suppressed memory suggesting that her thesis was on interpretive dance.  OK, that may not be literally true, but it feels true, it's my truth, and who are you to say that someone else's phallo-truth is more valid?  Turn up the music.  No, not the BeeGees!  Get that Lindsey Graham video out my head!

In other news

I'm so glad there finally is some other news.  Of course, I'm still hoping that all future public appearances by Lindsey Graham on-stage will be accompanied by the strains of "Well, you can tell by the way I use my walk. . . ."

But I thought we might all enjoy this would-be bank heist story, complete with the Just a Lowly Bank Teller dramatic moment, about how a group of investigators and regulators helped Angola avoid a theft of $500 million from its public treasury.  As Harry Anderson used to say, a fool and his money never should have gotten together in the first place.