Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Leah Ward Sears

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.

Monday Night

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* Sorry, Hillary; my current SCOTUS bet is Leah Ward Sears, who would be the first African-American woman on the court. She feels like a smart pick that the GOP would have trouble moving against after the Sotomayor debacle. She’d also fulfill the crucially important non-Ivy criterion. I think she’s the one.

* I just hope someone in the White House is reading Scott Lemieux.

* The city of Birmingham was founded in 1871, at the dawn of the Southern industrial boom, for the express purpose of attracting Northern capital — it was even named after a famous British steel town to burnish its entrepreneurial cred. There’s a gruesome irony in it now lying sacked and looted by financial vandals from the North. The destruction of Jefferson County reveals the basic battle plan of these modern barbarians, the way that banks like JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs have systematically set out to pillage towns and cities from Pittsburgh to Athens. These guys aren’t number-crunching whizzes making smart investments; what they do is find suckers in some municipal-finance department, corner them in complex lose-lose deals and flay them alive. Via MetaFilter.

* Probably the end of my Conanblogging: Conan signs a deal with TBS. Here’s some insider details involving George Lopez.

* People with Williams Syndrome lack 26 genes found in a typical human genome. As a result they are inordinately friendly, and experience no social anxiety. Now a new study reveals that they may also be free of racial bias.

* And contra Krugman: Is climate economics a mirage? Via Kevin Drum.

Now, if the economy is going to be a bit more than three times larger, but we are only going to emit 17% of the current level of carbon emissions, then the carbon intensity of the economy – that is the ratio of carbon emitted per dollar of goods and services created, is going to have to be only 5% of the current value. Next you have to figure that there are certain things in an industrial society that are very hard to do without liquid fuel – construction and agricultural machinery come to mind, along with aviation. Relying heavily on biofuels is a very dubious prospect in a world that also needs to feed 9 billion (assumed wealthier) people from its limited agricultural land. So you can probably figure that the residual 5% of carbon emission intensity is all going to go on these kind of specialized uses that are hard to substitute.

Therefore, these goals basically imply that the ordinary living and working of most citizens would be essentially carbon free by 2050. That is in 40 years time…