Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Diane Wood

Lots of Tuesday Links

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* A key feature of the case for Elena Kagan is her supposed ability to convince Anthony Kennedy of things. (Bill makes one version of this argument in the comments, though he himself doesn’t quite endorse it.) Like pretty much everybody I’m skeptical of this; I don’t know what the evidence is supposed to be that Kagan is better positioned to persuade Anthony Kennedy than anyone else on the shortlist, and her record as Solicitor General hasn’t exactly distinguished itself in this regard.

* Nate Silver makes the actuarial case for Elena Kagan.

Wood’s VORJ, we’ll assume, begins at 50, since we’re supposing that she’ll side with the liberals 100 percent of the time rather than 50 percent for her replacement. Kagan’s starts at 40: the 90 percent of the time we’ve supposed she’d vote with the liberals, less the 50 percent baseline.

As we go out into the future, however, the Justices become less valuable as they are less likely to survive. For instance, Wood has about an 18 percent chance of no longer being with us 15 years hence, so we’d have to subtract that fraction from her VORJ.

After about 20 years, Kagan overtakes Wood even though she’s less liberal, because she’s more likely have survived. She continues to provide excess value over [Wood] from that point forward, until we reach a period 40+ years out where both women are almost certain to be dead. On balance, Kagan’s lifetime expected VORJ is actually higher than that of [Wood]’s (1,280 rather than 1,206, if you care), assuming that she’ll defect from the liberals 10 percent of the time whereas Wood never will.

Favoring near-term outcomes at a discount rate of 1.7% or more, though, favors Wood.

* What to do next to stop the spill in the Gulf? The New York Times speculates. Or, you know, we could just nuke it.

* Related: BP makes enough profit in four days to cover the costs of the spill cleanup thus far.

* Something good in the climate bill: Climate Bill Will Allow States to Veto Neighboring States’ Drilling Plans.

* Something good in a very bad-looking November: Richard Burr will almost certainly lose in NC.

* Žižek vs the volcano.

The confusion of natural and cultural or economic concerns in the arguments over the prohibition of flights raised the following suspicion: how come the scientific evidence began to suggest it was safe to fly over most of Europe just when the pressure from the airlines became most intense? Is this not further proof that capital is the only real thing in our lives, with even scientific judgements having to bend to its will?

The problem is that scientists are supposed to know, but they do not. Science is helpless and covers up this helplessness with a deceptive screen of expert assurance. We rely more and more on experts, even in the most intimate domains of our experience (sexuality and religion). As a result, the field of scientific knowledge is transformed into a terrain of conflicting “expert opinions”.

Most of the threats we face today are not external (or “natural”), but generated by human activity shaped by science (the ecological consequences of our industry, say, or the psychic consequences of uncontrolled genetic engineering), so that the sciences are simultaneously the source of such threats, our best hope of understanding those threats, and the means through which we may find a way of coping with them.

* ‘Confessions of a Tenured Professor’: a tenured professor takes note of his adjunct colleagues.

* Middle-class white people are the only people: Atrios discovers a very strange lede at the Washington Post.

The idealized vision of suburbia as a homogenous landscape of prosperity built around the nuclear family took another hit over the past decade, as suburbs became home to more poor people, immigrants, minorities, senior citizens and households with no children, according to a Brookings Institution report to be released Sunday.

* Inside MK-ULTRA.

* Inside Alabama.

Just so we’re clear, in the 21st century, Republican gubernatorial candidates are attacked for accepting modern biology and being only a partial Biblical literalist.

* That about wraps it up for Britain.

* And confidential to Playboy: putting the centerfolds in 3D will not save you.

All about Kagan

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I still find myself pretty solidly in the Greenwald/Campos/Digby caucus on the Elena Kagan nomination. As Scott Lemieux argued earlier today, there’s just not enough in her record to justify her nomination at a time when Obama already has 59 senators certain to vote “yes”: “In a context in which a more accomplished and more clearly liberal justice could be confirmed, the pick just can’t be defended.” If we take Steve and Ezra’s framing of this as a “trust us” high-stakes gamble—and perhaps many people do still blindly trust Obama to make decisions of this sort—the progressive response is that it didn’t have to be. Obama could have gotten either Diane Wood or Leah Ward Sears confirmed; he chose not to, and probably won’t next time either.

A totally unambitious selection that will likely do little or nothing to push the Court leftward, the Kagan selection has squandered our last, best chance to challenge the radicalism of the Bush appointments, while at the same time putting forth a nominee whose totally sparse record could actually make her harder to confirm than a more experienced jurist, litigator, or academic. I just don’t see the strategy.

That the case for Kagan is paper-thin at best seems to me to be utterly self-evident; watch, for instance, Glenn Greenwald decimate Jamin Raskin (a supporter of the pick) in this video from Democracy Now. Raskin is essentially unable to come up with any points in Kagan’s favor whatsoever. Across the Internet, the only counterargument to the Greenwald position that is ever presented is “Obama knows what he’s doing.” I grow weary of being told Obama knows what he’s doing.

Of course the right is doing its damnedest to make me like her, with gay-baiting and slavery-defending their most offensive opening bids. (“But she’s a bad driver!” clocks in at #3, “There aren’t enough men on the Supreme Court!” at #4. And then there’s Glenn.) In short the opposition seems totally unserious and that her nomination will probably be fairly easy (though maybe not). Either way, Obama should have swung for the fences; with big losses coming in the Senate this November, he likely won’t get another chance.

It should be said, in postscript, that Mightygodking thinks this is all still just eleven-dimensional chess, and I’ll admit that if that’s the thinking I can almost buy it. Climate Progress has also weighed in in Kagan’s favor, noting a Green Energy Report that Kagan “has a reputation as a supporter of environmental law and as a lawyer who takes climate change seriously.” That’s good! But it’s not enough to make me happy with the pick.

Friday Morning Time Slip

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* Ambrose Bierce, inventor of the emoticon. Via @unrealfred.

* Joni Mitchell v. Bob Dylan.

* How to tell time on Mars. Via MeFi, which highlights Kim Stanley Robinson’s scheme in the Mars trilogy:

And then it was ringing midnight, and they were in the Martian time slip, the thirty-nine-and-a half-minute gap between 12:00:00 and 12:00:01; when all the clocks went blank or stopped moving.

* Statistics about TV in America. Also via MeFi.

* Nobody wants Reagan on the $50.

* Another case for Diane Wood.

* Michael Steele has acknowledged a four-decade-long Southern strategy, which seems like a big admission for a sitting RNC chair to make.

* Independent Weekly asked me to write a short piece about campus green initiatives in the Triangle for their Green Living Guide this year. Here it is, minus the sort of necessary if impolitic critique of consumer “choice” that was the subject of John Bellamy Foster and Brett Clark’s talk last night. (Video of the talk will be up soon.) Like Foster and Clark my opinion is that these sorts of initiatives may be morally praiseworthy, and even efficacious at the margins, but that they are ultimately fundamentally incomplete, something akin to reupholstering the deck chairs on the Titanic.

* I’ll just say it: I don’t think people should try to pay their doctors with chickens.

* Functional immigration law or rational climate policy? Apparently we can’t have both.

* And the only thing that can stop this asteroid is your liberal arts degree.

Wednesday Night Links

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* Durham in the news! And not even for something bad.

* If I ever manage to scrape together a hundred dollars, I certainly won’t want it to look like this.

* Glenn Greenwald makes the case for Diane Wood.

* A brief history of Crazy Eddie. Via the MetaFilter thread on former Crazy Eddie CFO Sam Antar’s recent post on Goldman Sachs, in which he declares: My research on Goldman Sachs is a freebie for securities regulators and the public in order to help me get into heaven, though I doubt that I will ever get there anyway. I personally believe that some people at Goldman Sachs may end up joining me in hell.

* Facebook’s privacy policy finds a way to suck just a little bit more.

* OK Cupid’s case against paying for online dating is compromised only a little by the fact that they run a free online dating site.

* Utah Tea Party: We’ve Taken Over the State GOP. What could possibly go wrong?

* Six states are considering legislation that will allow secretaries of state to arbitrarily remove candidates Obama from the ballot “if the secretary of state has reasonable cause to believe that the candidate does not meet the citizenship, age and residency requirements prescribed by law.” What could possibly go wrong?

* New polling suggests opposition to the Citizens United decision could be reaching “Constitutional amendment” levels.

* And we must ban involuntary microchip implantation before it is too late.