A Partisan Supreme Court

Now that we know a bit more about the Federalist Society’s nominee, I guess it’s time to talk about the Supreme Court.

In no particular order, and for what they are worth, here are some observations about the Court, the process and this nominee.

The Supreme Court was not intended to be a “democratic” (small d) entity; quite the contrary. The judicial branch is supposed to be a nonpartisan constraint on majoritarian passions when those passions threaten Constitutional principles and the rule of law. That said, its judges are supposed to be broadly representative of the (best of) our citizenry.  This nominee is the choice of a President who lost the popular vote by a margin of nearly three million, and whose approval ratings have rarely exceeded 40%; if he is confirmed, it will be with the votes of Senators from states with (an arguably unrepresentative) 45% of the population.

As one legal scholar has commented (link unavailable),

I think we’d all agree that the nation has been fairly evenly divided, all things considered, in presidential and congressional elections over the past 50 years. Yet there has been a Republican-appointed majority of the Court for the past 47 years, and that’s likely to continue for at least another 20-30, if not more. It doesn’t much matter what label we use to describe our system, “democracy” or otherwise. The salient point is that it is very possible that for my entire adult life–even if I am fortunate to live to a ripe old age–the Justices will not have been representative of the nation, and will have been systematically skewed in one direction for the entire period.

Over at Balkinization, Mark Graber points to a conflict between this nominee’s actual–highly partisan– jurisprudence and the “cliches” he and Trump use to describe his judicial philosophy:

Donald Trump and Brett Kavanaugh offered the American people two clichés when describing how Supreme Court justices should decide cases.  The first is that they must interpret the Constitution as written.  The second is that they should use common sense.  One problem is that in many important cases the two conflict.  The more serious problem is that when the two conflict, Kavanaugh always selects the option that promotes Republican policies and politics.

In 2012, Stephen Pearlstein wrote a column about one of Kavanaugh’s decisions, a decision invalidating EPA regulations that had been the subject of exhaustive research, numerous hearings, and years of negotiations with industry and environmental groups. (I strongly encourage you to click through and read the whole column.) Reading Kavanaugh’s decision, Pearlstein says

You’d have no idea that, in earlier decisions, the same court had found it a reasonable formula resulting in reasonable compliance costs, but sent an earlier version back to be reworked because it didn’t make the air clean enough.

Instead, what you get is 60 pages of legal sophistry, procedural hair-splitting and scientific conjecture.

You find a judge without a shred of technical training formulating his own policy solution to an incredibly complex problem and substituting it for the solution proposed by experienced experts.

You find an appeals court judge so dismissive of the most fundamental rules of judicial restraint that he dares to throw out regulations on the basis of concerns never raised during the rule-making process or in the initial court appeal.

In other words, an arrogant and activist judge ruling on the basis of his personal political ideology.

Kavanaugh’s approach to gun laws also follows partisan predilections justified as respect for history and tradition. Because “semiautomatic rifles have not traditionally been banned and are in common use,” he has written,” they are protected under the Second Amendment.”

What happened to that professed commitment to common sense?

Perhaps the most comprehensive descriptions of Kavanaugh’s record–and reasons to oppose his elevation to the Court– are contained in a letter signed by hundreds of alumni of Yale and its law school. I strongly encourage reading that letter in its entirety, because it details numerous specific positions the judge has embraced (including his opposition to mandating coverage of pre-existing conditions by health insurance companies, and a truly bizarre opinion that Net Neutrality rules run afoul of the First Amendment). As the letter argues:

Support for Judge Kavanaugh is not apolitical. It is a political choice about the meaning of the constitution and our vision of democracy, a choice with real consequences for real people. Without a doubt, Judge Kavanaugh is a threat to the most vulnerable.

Much of the opposition to this appointment centers on Kavanaugh’s likely approach to Roe v. Wade. But Roe–which has already been “nibbled” to death in many states–is just the tip of a very large iceberg. Kavanaugh has consistently elevated religious doctrine over personal autonomy, and has disputed the existence of a wall of separation between church and state.

In the age of Trump, however, a position taken by Kavanaugh that I find even more chilling is his current view that Presidents should be above the law, at least while in office. As the Yale alumni wrote,

Judge Kavanaugh would also act as a rubber stamp for President Trump’s fraud and abuse. Despite working with independent counsel Ken Starr to prosecute Bill Clinton, Judge Kavanaugh has since called upon Congress to exempt sitting presidents from civil suits, criminal investigations, and criminal prosecutions. He has also noted that “a serious constitutional question exists regarding whether a president can be criminally indicted and tried while in office.” This reversal does not reflect high-minded consideration but rather naked partisanship. At a time when the President and his associates are under investigation for various serious crimes, including colluding with the Russian government and obstructing justice, Judge Kavanaugh’s extreme deference to the Executive poses a direct threat to our democracy.

Does Judge Kavanaugh have the credentials and intellect to serve on the Court? Certainly.

Does he have the intellectual humility and “spirit of liberty” that Learned Hand once defined as “the spirit which is not too sure that it is right… the spirit which seeks to understand the minds of other men and women… the spirit which weighs their interest alongside its own without bias”?

Not even close.

50 thoughts on “A Partisan Supreme Court

  1. Dr Kennedy:

    “Judge Kavanaugh’s extreme deference to the Executive poses a direct threat to our democracy. “Does that mean Kavanaugh will not be seated on SCOTUS?

    . . . . . and where is ISRAEL in this LATEST Trump scandal? UN-CHARACTERISTICALLY SILENT? We are shown the British demonstrating anti-Trump sentiments, how about the Israelis?.

  2. Sheila,

    “This nominee is the choice of a President who lost the popular vote by a margin of nearly three million, and whose approval ratings have rarely exceeded 40%; if he is confirmed, it will be with the votes of Senators from states with (an arguably unrepresentative) 45% of the population. This nominee is the choice of a President who lost the popular vote by a margin of nearly three million, and whose approval ratings have rarely exceeded 40%; if he is confirmed, it will be with the votes of Senators from states with (an arguably unrepresentative) 45% of the population.”

    What does the majority have to do with all of this ? The Nazis didn’t have a majority when they took over Germany. Will it take a gun to our head before we wake-up? From everything I can see, the answer is: YES.


    “…… and where is ISRAEL in this LATEST Trump scandal? UN-CHARACTERISTICALLY SILENT? We are shown the British demonstrating anti-Trump sentiments, how about the Israelis?”

    I wrong move to the LEFT by the Israeli’s will cut off ALL of their aid. It has been that way since the early 80’s.

  3. From “Freedom for Sale: Why the World is Trading Democracy for Security” by John Kampfner (Basic Books, Philadelphia, PA, 2010) p. 227:

    “There is a difference between two lost freedoms: those people know they have given up, and those they don’t know they’ve given up.”
    ~Michael Kazin, university professor and author

  4. “In 2012, Stephen Pearlstein wrote a column about one of Kavanaugh’s decisions, a decision invalidating EPA regulations that had been the subject of exhaustive research, numerous hearings, and years of negotiations with industry and environmental groups.”

    Let’s bring this one Kavanaugh decision and the issue of invalidating EPA regulations, which have been ignored and have escalated for decades, ti the Johnson County Indiana Childhood Cancer Cluster. Not considered a “cancer cluster” by health officials due to different forms of cancer suffered by children, cancer in adults in that area were not included. Per an Indianapolis Star article on 12/27/17, “Mothers help stop federal nominee”, referring to the nomination of Michael Dourson as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s toxics chief. “A majority of the cases are diagnoses of rare blood and brain cancers, which are uncommon in children and can frequently be traced to some external or environmental factors, according to research.” The Star article dated 11/20/17 headline, “Brockovich joins moms in raising awareness”, referring to the mothers of two of the childhood cancer victims. The article also states “…many in the community believe contamination of the Webb Westfield from area manufacturing and industry is a likely contributor.” The Star article dated 11/20/17 headline, “Wrong Nominee for our environment” reported “Since 2010, 42 children in Johnson County have been diagnosed with cancer, far higher than the national average…” No movie made of this local contamination has been made but those who remember the movies, “Erin Brockovich” regarding her winning battle against California PG&E starring Julia Roberts and “A Civil Action” starring John Travolta regarding Jon Schlictman’s losing battle in the Boston area against Beatrice Foods (Peter Pan peanut butter, Bird’s Eye frozen foods and many other products) got lost along with the Love Canal and Three Mile Island contamination due to IGNORED ETA regulations due to the cost of cleaning up hazardous waste in dump sites and waterways throughout this country. Let us not forget the ongoing lead contamination of drinking water in Flint, Michigan. The all happened (and continue to contaminate lives) before Trump’s determined efforts to destroy the ETA; allowing big business to get richer along with Big Pharma producing needed medications. Indiana and especially Johnson County health officials need to read actual statistics…or maybe watch the above named movies for clues.

    Kavanaugh may have the qualifications to serve on SCOTUS; but he does not have the morality or the understanding of the value of human lives needed to uphold the Constitution and use common sense on the EPA issue or any others currently before the court of those headed to SCOTUS.

  5. Did any of your read former Senator Al Franken’s post from yesterday on facebook? It was amazing in its entirety. https://www.facebook.com/senatoralfranken/?hc_ref=ARTvAhLsP1Ae4jQ1HnG2ss4r7MjNsorc4RTAhEQwPxWiFSOf0Zj7xISx5WFUHkTxBHU&fref=nf

    “…one of the very first things that came out of your mouth as a nominee for the Supreme Court was the following assertion: “No president has ever consulted more widely, or talked with more people from more backgrounds, to seek input about a Supreme Court nomination.” Did I quote you correctly?

    This claim, of course, was not just false, but ridiculous. The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake (a Minnesota native) called it “a thoroughly inauspicious way to begin your application to the nation’s highest court, where you will be deciding the merits of the country’s most important legal and factual claims.”

    It would be only fair to give Kavanaugh a chance to retract that weirdly specific bit of bullshit.”

    read the whole post.

  6. JoAnn,

    “Kavanaugh may have the qualifications to serve on SCOTUS; but he does not have the morality or the understanding of the value of human lives needed to uphold the Constitution and use common sense on the EPA issue or any others currently before the court of those headed to SCOTUS.”

    You’ve just described all the qualifications for a winning candidate for the
    Supreme Court.

  7. Does anybody want to guess where our Sen. Donnelly comes down on this issue?

    I’m sure he’ll endorse Kavanaugh because of his donors.

    Princeton already studied this problem and determined that our elected officials don’t serve their constituents–they serve the donors making us an Oligarchy.

    How Kavanaugh reaches his personal decisions aren’t factored in the equation. His brand of rulings always come down on the side of those writing checks to the political class.

    If you honestly think any member of US Congress gives a damn about our vulnerable citizens, let me show you forty years of consistent rulings, laws, and policies which demonstrate who they care about. The poor and working class have consistently supported the Democratic Party during those years and consistently lost.

    Roe vs Wade means nothing to corporate citizens.

    This is about power and finance…period. Those who have it oppress those who don’t. The closest thing we’ve had to a people’s warrior was Bernie Sanders and guess what the DNC did to him?

    Oh wait, you don’t have to guess…the evidence is posted on Wikileaks. Now, why would the DNC take down their own populist in the year of the populist? Why did the media ignore Bernie Sanders when they are supposed to serve the people as well?

    Why did they ignore Ocasio-Cortez in New York? Don’t forget, the New York Times already endorse Kavanaugh.

    The under 35 crowd said, “Get lost!”.

    Clinton lost to the Libertarian candidate with the under 35 crowd.

    What’s even more fascinating is why would Russia be so interested in exposing the collusion within the DNC?

    Please don’t tell me they wanted Trump to win so he could appoint mean-spirited justices.

    It’s not quite clear enough to see, but it is coming into focus a little more each passing week…

  8. I feel these days as if we are at sea in the middle of a Perfect Storm in a captain-less boat without life jackets. We didn’t just drop into this mess… we sailed into it despite warnings, red flags, and shouts from the shore. Will the ship of state survive?

  9. Do we expect to SOLELY INTELLECTUALIZE ourselves out of this “stinking mess?” If so, forget it.

    in’tel-lec’tu-al-ize (-iz’) vt. -izedk, -izing to examine or interpret rationally, often without regard for emotional considerations

    ~Webster’s New World Dictionary

  10. Todd,

    “Don’t forget, the New York Times already endorse Kavanaugh.”

    The writing is already on the wall. Never mine that, let’s put ALL our efforts into it anyway, in that way we won’t have to take any action that might take a little bit of CIVIC COURAGE.

  11. I find it laughable that these conservatives continue to proclaim that they follow the “Constitution, as written.” They should add a line that says, “except where we disagree with it.” Had they followed the “Constitution, as written,” Bush 43 would never have been President. The Florida Supreme Court’s recount order would have given Florida to Gore. Had they followed the “Constitution, as written,” District of Columbia v. Heller would have recognized “A Well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…” as a vital part of the 2nd Amendment.

    I nominate Mitch McConnell for the title “Nastiest man of this decade.” Is there a second?

  12. I wholeheartedly agree with Todd Smekens. The DNC is still obeying its donors instructions and adopting a Republican lite philosophy, which in turn has resulted in Democratic losses over the last few decades. The only news outlet that covered Ocasio-Cortez during her campaign was The Young Turks, an online progressive news service. This will be covered today on CNN’s Reliable Sources, worth watching.

  13. Kavanaugh and the rest of the right-wing ideologues manning our highest court will precipitate the next revolution when they make one or more critical decisions to destroy the liberty of the people who no take their liberty for granted. That day is coming soon. We wouldn’t expect Trump to pick anyone, but for some backward-thinking sycophant to HIMSELF. The key trait was Kavanaugh’s decisions and opinions about indicting a sitting President. In that he’s quite correct in that the impeachment proceedings in the Constitution get the President out of office, whereupon he CAN be indicted.

    The people need to understand this dynamic situation before beating their breasts in hopelessness.

  14. Vernon,

    “The people need to understand this dynamic situation before beating their breasts in hopelessness.”

    More specifically, if we continue along this path, INEVITABLY we will be facing a Civil/Race War which no side can win. It’s FUTURCIDE, a twin to suicide.

  15. From the Free Dictionary:

    tell it like it is

    To speak bluntly, directly, and truthfully, even if it is undesirable to hear. I always respect employees who are willing to tell it like it is, rather than trying to sugarcoat everything to save a little face. I want your honest opinion of the story, even if you didn’t like it—just tell it like it is.
    Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

    Tell it like it is.

    Inf. Speak frankly.; Tell the truth no matter who is criticized or how much it hurts. Come on man, tell it like it is! Well, I’ve got to tell it like it is.
    McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

    tell it like it is

    Speak the truth, no matter how unpleasant. For example, We’re obligated to tell it like it is to the stockholders. [Slang; second half of 1900s]
    The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

    tell it like it is describe the true facts of a situation no matter how unpleasant they may be.
    Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

    tell it how/like it ˈis (informal) tell somebody something honestly and directly: All right, I’ll tell it like it is. I don’t love you Rachel, and I never have.
    Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

  16. Vernon,

    You mentioned the coming revolution. Twenty years ago I foresaw that a revolution would take place in our country. I had consistently watched as the wealthy kept taking more and more from the middle class workers and knew that it could not continue indefinitely. When enough people reach their breaking point they will rise up and overturn those in power.

    The pace of destruction has sped up in the past 10 years and I believe that those who have been tricked into being angry at their fellow suffering citizens (by the republican corporate elite) will soon recognize their true enemy. They will then become the some of the most outspoken leaders in the uprising that is to come.

    The oligarchs like the Kochs long ago recognized that educated citizens would not make good obedient workers (slaves), so they began dismantling our public education system. When enough of us reach our breaking point of having no job opportunities, no income, and no safety nets the tables will be turned and the revolution will begin. Greedy rulers cannot feed off the rest of society forever.

  17. Nancy,

    You’re right. Probably, it will be much sooner than later. You can’t wait to be in chains before you make your move. I doubt if the flabby, ex-draft dodger understands things like that. There’s nothing in his past to think otherwise.

  18. I was recruited by the Federalist Society when practicing, which I declined, and they are now more right wing than ever. When Trump put them in charge of deciding who our next Supreme Court justice would be, that is borderline unconstitutional since the Constitution provides for such choice by the president (even by minority presidents or a president like Gerald Ford, who was never elected on a national level to that august position). Advice on choice is one thing but choice per se is another.

    As to revolution, not yet. This isn’t yet 1789; I would estimate it to be, say, 1786, before the guillotines come out for public display, when the proles announce to the establishment that the party is over and that cake is not on the peoples’ menu. The revolution can be averted with elections of candidates who legislate more inclusively, i.e., legislating for labor, the poor, the sick and not just exclusively for Wall Street, the Kochs, Mercers et al. Such an outcome is not necessarily insured by voting for one party or the other since both parties contain some who vary from their party’s line on occasion. This suggests that choice of candidates may be almost as important as electing them, though internal brawls may help elect their opponents. (See the DNCC infighting.)

    It’s not all doom and gloom, however, nor is the almost certain yes vote for Kavanaugh. Much rests on what happens this November 6 and a revolution may prove to be unnecessary since those in power are always against a loss of power whether by revolution or at the polls. Let’s assume a piece of the power November 6.


  19. Marv Kramer:

    “The writing is already on the wall. Never mine that, let’s put ALL our efforts into it anyway, in that way we won’t have to take any action that might take a little bit of CIVIC COURAGE.”

    Marv, your tongue-in-cheek lesson is not lost on these readers so we will go to the polls on November 6, 2018 and PROUDLY do our civic duty, cast our ballots for “Anything but GOP” thereby flip this craven Congress and rein in the Fart-in-Chief.

  20. Nancy:

    “The oligarchs like the Kochs long ago recognized that educated citizens would not make good obedient workers…”

    The same credit goes to the clergy who taught for millennia how to enrich themselves with unearned wealth by enslaving the unwary masses with myths and legends .

    Vote November 6, 2018 any EXCEPT Republicans. It’s the first step.

  21. People here know that I fancy culture as our instinctive study of the bahaviors of those who we deem to be like us. It is inculcated pretty early in life before intellectual filters are fully in place and it’s one of the strongest subconsious determinants of how we “think”. In fact though it says that we tend not to think, we feel. We react instead of acting. We emulate instead of reason. We are more what we were born with and into and whose actions were prevalent early in our lives that we remember as like us. One of the strongest components of who we are is our gender, our skin color, our “station”, and our attitude towards authority and power.

    Most of the liberal to authoritarian spectrum that we end up on is cultural. It colors everything in our lives.

    One of the things that it colors heavily is “common sense”. In fact it’s pretty close to the truth to say culture is our commons sense, after all it is what we observed through our most impressionable years in others who are like us (which we define as “normal”). “Common sense” therefore may not be common at all to the degree that what we were born with and into is atypical.

    It’s very obvious in the design of our government that SCOTUS Justices where supposed to be apolitical. Shiela said it well – highly educated in the process and people who wrote the Constitution and with much “common sense” not in the sense of where “common sense” comes from but in the sense of broadly descriptive of our nation. Political appointees by definition sacrifice common in the sense of broadly determined for common in the sense of a cultural artifact, observations of people like me.

    Making such appointees political is clearly not the intent of the Constitution but useful to power mongers. That moves the court when power (authoritarianism) is in power from a protection to a threat.

    I believe that liberals in Congress which is almost exactly the same as Democrats in Congress have to delay, delay, delay this decision until 2019 if we are going to return the country to the Constitution of a LIberal Democracy as it was written. Unfortunately that still means it will be a political appointment, but one that makes the common sense of the court as a whole closer to common in the sense of broad representative of we the people.

  22. Pete @ 12:36 pm
    Great essay, Pete. Missing from it are your specific instructions:
    “Vote November 6, 2018 for Dems.
    “Vote to flip all GOPs to Dems.
    “Vote to Save Our Ship of State
    “Vote to Deflate Our Fart-in-Chief”

  23. The true roots of this oligarchs usurpation of our government lies in the text of the Lewis Powell letter to the U.S. Chamber of Republicans (Commerce) in 1971. Sheila was kind enough to reference this document, printed in its entirety in my latest book, as the “liturgy” that the Republicans have latched on to. We’ve posted, ad nauseam, our displeasure for Republicans and what they’re doing to our democracy.

    O.K. We get it. And, as so many of us have stated, the coming election may be our last chance to avoid certain revolution. Donald Trump’s sickening administration is the odor coming from an uncovered septic tank. We must repudiate this creature crawling out of that pit by voting against EVERY Republican at EVERY level on EVERY ballot. I know that all on this blog will do their duty. But we must also be messengers to those who are oblivious to their own demise.

  24. I’m encouraged that everyone on this blog feels that if we only get out there and vote, get the democrats back in power, things will ultimately get better. Unfortunately, I feel we are no longer in charge of our own destiny – Russian hacking and trying to influence upcoming elections will only get worse, especially with an administration who isn’t doing much to prevent it.

  25. There is no doubt among reasoning people that democracy, the only source of freedom, is under attack probably more effective than Pearl Harbor was.

    It started by training authoritarians over their entertainment media that we are not a democracy we are a republic and in fact democracy does not bring freedom but the tyranny of the majority and something about how wolves get to eat sheep. The number of times that I have been told those myths by authoritarians are countless. Here are the facts:

    We are a democracy and a republic. Democracy (even though comprised by the Electoral College, gerrymandering, social media hacking, the organization of the Senate giving low population states disproportionate power) because that’s how we decide who represents us in government, republic because we don’t have a monarch.

    All tyrrany comes from minorities with disproportionate power not the majority which defines as well as any measure who we are.

    It’s all part of the process for brainwashing authoritarians a la “1984”.

  26. Pete, just how do you propose the Democrats delay this vote? They don’t have the votes.. ..Manchin just told Schumer off… I’m betting at least 2 Democrats vote for Kavanaugh. It’s very likely the GOP will increase their margin in the senate after Nov. mid-terms and definetly will not win back the house.

  27. Becky,

    No, Democrats WILL definitely win back the House AND the Senate if people stop whining, worrying and get off their asses and start knocking on doors. What are you doing to promote Democratic candidates? Are you writing to the DNC telling them to get their act together? Are you supporting any good candidates in your area?


  28. What’s very likely is that Nov 6 will determine the future of democracy. We either sufficiently unite to prevent that or we give up our birthright.

  29. Becky,

    Thanks for the reality check. I’m for voting our hearts out. But, that probably isn’t going to make a significant difference at this point in time. Our only realistic chance for change is to attack the UNDERLYING OLIGARCHIC SYSTEM now controlled by Charles Koch which, since the early 60’s, has moved from one embracing democracy to one, through stealth, embracing authoritarianism.

    Since the late 60’s, when I started tracking the system whose center of gravity [COG] was located in Dallas, I’ve intervened at least 20 times with a success rate around 75%. My two major successes are mentioned on the Home Page for http://www.StrategicPower.org my website for The Political Epidemiology Institute.

    In the early 90’s, Morris Dees [Southern Poverty Law Center] was a guest on the Tony Brown syndicated program out of Chicago. I happened to view the program that Sunday. Tony Brown asked Morris Dees, “Morris what about the system?” Dee’s answer was, “I don’t get involved in all of that.” Pence’s Christian Right movement is part of the system. The Southern Poverty Law Center has restricted its monitoring over the years to the K.K.K. and other extreme right wing groups. Where do the recruits come from? A significant portion come from the Christian Right churches which have had little or no monitoring. Along with the SPLC, both the Anti-Defamation League as well as the Political Research Associates have been “pulling punches” up until recently.

    In other words they’ve let the “cat out of the bag” for the want of a better explanation.

  30. Vernon, I’m living in reality. The economy is doing well, unemployment down, jobs available and incomes rising. The states with vulnerable democrat senators ( where Trump won) all want Kavanaugh confirmed by a wide margin. Trump won partly because of the Supreme Court nominees… RBG could easily be another appointment for Trump. If the far left wasn’t so extreme FAR left there might be a chance for Dems, but every week the most extreme leftists give the GOP another golden campaign ad for the midterms… the Democrats are rudderless and the people in the middle will vote right.

  31. People who need certainty don’t do well in politics because of human nature. We are in fact pretty unpredictable as a herd. There some things that inviduals do that can sometimes be predictable but the herd can go from docile to stampede without warning.

    Thus the results of Nov 6th are uncertain. Those of us who see the stakes have to do everything we can except tequire certainty because that’s just not available to anyone.

  32. I second to Peggy’s “I nominate Mitch McConnell for the title “Nastiest man of this decade.” Can we change the title to “Most Conniving Cheater & Backstabber of the Decade”?

  33. With the endorsement of Kavanaugh by The New York Times and “Manchin telling Shumer off,” as starters, how could any Republican vote against Kavanaugh, if they had any idea of running for re-election.

    The best we can hope for in November is a massive vote for Democratic candidates as a protest against Donald Trump and his followers in the Republican Party.

    The Democratic Party is split and the fracture is widening at an ever widening clip.

    Getting together with a rah! rah! isn’t going to work. The political environment has fundamentally changed. Politics is no longer like a football contest. The end result for some could be a matter of life or death.

  34. Becky – I don’t know what reality you are living in unless it is in Trump’s Otherworld, but it isn’t mine. I think you may have underestimated the outrage with Trump and those who support his inane conduct, tariffs, bullying etc. I think we will take back the House and have a decent shot at the Senate. I also think the economy you describe is straight out of the WSJ and other organs of Wall Street propaganda. The Trump-Ryan tax cuts for the rich with the threat of yet another one have destroyed any chump change raises Americans received and the uptick in inflation has given us a net result of a reduction in wages and thus a further jump in wage inequality. Yes, the economy is doing very well for the rich and near-rich what with the giveaway provisions of the Trump-Ryan tax act but, employment figures when wages are so poor, for instance, are almost immaterial. More people working for slave wages do little for aggregate demand, the sole arbiter of economic growth, and I am sticking by my prediction of a recession this year or no later than next year due primarily to wage inequality and secondarily to Trump’s tariff wars and the uncertainty they cause in roiling international markets. You are, of course, entitled to your opinion from the facts on the ground, but take another look at the facts.

  35. Gerald,

    I agree with most of what Becky said. And I don’t read the “Wall Street Journal or other organs of Wall Street propaganda” or live in “Trump’s Otherworld.” It’s called GIVING A WARNING, what’s wrong with that. What is your backup, if the Democrats make no headway in November?

  36. Gerald, I lived in middle America. Being a past “old farm girl”, I know many people still living in those stereotypical “Christian conservative” parts of the country. People who voted for Trump may not like everything about him or his style, but what they dislike even more is being maligned and mischaracterized. Many Christian people care about the poor and willingly support their communities through service and financial giving. Farmers by nature are a very independent anti-government crowd that work hard, are resilent, and deal with great uncertainties each year regarding prices and weather. Being home a few weeks ago ( to check on my farm ) I spoke to some of these farmers regarding the tariffs on soybeans. None of them seemed concerned and just felt Trump was “negotiationing”. One said, “China only has so many places they can buy soybeans and they HAVE to buy from us because no one produces as much as we do.” Another said they have to deal with the commodity futures every year so this isn’t much different. Then there are those manufacturing jobs that we were told were never coming back, but now back with a vengeance and at good wages and benefits. Another person back home told me of the local factory now hiring for $26 an hour for the 3rd shift…with benefits. So, while these stories might be anecdotal, they are not straight out of the pages of the WSJ. What I do see is a Democrat party that doesn’t have anything to offer these people in middle America except their hatred of Trump. That message just doesn’t resonate with the people in the middle that I know. It is the independents and the libertarians that will decide this. Those staunchly on the right or left will probably never switch sides. So, who knows what’s going to happen in November, but I just don’t see the current democrates winning back anything.

  37. Marv and Becky – I do not agree with the conclusions you may have reached from the same evidence and economic history available to me, but respect your right to reach such conclusions. As to anecdotal evidence of prosperity, we had the Roaring Twenties shortly before the Great Depression, you may recall. We’ll know more in November.

  38. Gerald,

    “Marv and Becky – I do not agree with the conclusions you may have reached from the same evidence and economic history available to me, but respect your right to reach such conclusions.

    Speaking for myself, I don’t believe my conclusions have been based on the same evidence that has been available to you. That’s why my conclusions, many times, differ from your conclusions. I don’t believe we have much of an intellectual difference if any, but I’m certain we have an evidence one. I lived in the political center of gravity for 27 years. It’s hard to put an extra value on how much that was worth.

  39. I think that it’s reasonable to say that all of the wealth creators in the country want the same thing and that is to live what to them is a normal life.

    I get that. When that seems to be largely true is when we are following the design from our Constitution which maximizes freedom – minimum imposition by others on the lives that each of us wants to live but also minimum imposition of things not from others but circumstance.

    I heard today of a subway accident where a pretty seriously injured woman was pleading with those desperate to help not to call an ambulance to help her because she felt it would put her over the edge into bankruptcy. Are people free when they have to risk death or crippling in order to avoid bankruptcy?

    Defining freedom as the power to push off the consequences of your life on to others is not at all what the founders intended and every American knows that.

    Freedom just cannot be defined as what government gives me. If it could then Kim Jong Un is the most free among us.

    Freedom is what everyone or no one has.

  40. It is interesting that in Lake Wobegon all the children were above average and in America everyone knows that they represent the “middle”. I am afraid that most Americans are not farmers. I don’t doubt that many rural Americans will blindly believe Trump and that Democrats haven’t been offering them much. Overton Windows and the slide right aside, “far left” is the now defunct Weathermen of the 1960s; “far right” are the white nationalists that are favored by the White House. The middle is half-way in between. The “lefty” FDR had support from the farmers. It isn’t a question of left or right, it is a question of paying attention and caring enough to actually do something.

    Voters I spoke to this weekend in Indianapolis suggested that many “Democrats” are waiting to see how Donnelly votes, while the “pro-life” people would never vote for him because whoever the Republican is would be more reliable.

    For the “all is lost”/”nothing helps” crew, I will bring up the A.F.K. Organski Power Equation from the late political science professor: Power = People X Organization.
    Money is one of the factors in Organization. Simple algebra suggests that if you enhance the People factor sufficiently, money will lose. It has in the past.

    I have been fighting my entire life to get the “good” people elected, even if that meant compromising to help some “lesser evil” people. I will keep fighting. Many people who are worried now (not necessarily people here who are more aware), didn’t care enough to show up and vote (“both are bad – why bother”). So Mitch became Senate leader and blocked Obama’s court nominations and Trump got elected. Are the Green Party supporters really happier that Clinton lost and Trump gets to destroy the environment?

    Peggy – I have a different nomination for Mitch McConnell – Public Enemy #1 to the American Form of Government. This country had the ideal of a “liberal democracy” where the rule of the majority is tempered by the rights of the minority (wolves can’t vote for lamb dinner). Mitch (and an every increasing number of Republicans since Reagan) believe in raw power. Mitch had the power to deny a court appointment by a President elected by the majority of Americans, so he did. Now he relishes the ability of the Republicans to ram through anything and everything they like to be signed by a President elected by a minority.

    I don’t know if enough people in Maine and Alaska will sway their Senators. I think that those who care about the courts should speak out forcefully. It may be that the Supreme Court as protector of freedom is like Camelot – a brief shining moment in history that fades into myth. During most of its history, the “Supremes” were not exactly “liberal” (Dred Scott, Korematsu, etc.). Time will tell.

  41. Unless we find wiggle room for Joe, he will vote to confirm’/

    We must all vote straight democratic on November 6th, and get your friends too.

  42. Charlie,

    “We must all vote straight democratic on November 6th, and get your friends too.”

    Agreed 100%. But we better come up with something much more ALARMING than the fact that Donald Trump is a “useless/rotten/ bastard.”

    a-larm’ing adj. frightening
    ~Webster’s New World Dictionary

  43. Yesterday ended here with a post decrying that liberals don’t care about farmers and I got to thinking about that.

    Nobody (or everybody depending on how you consider things) cares about farmers but farmers.

    The difference between liberals and authoritarians is that the latter says they do. Would farmers be better off if liberals lied too?

    It’s called liberal democracy for a reason. The reason for both words is that both concepts focus on the greater good. The only way to even consider the greater good is through the concept of the majority which democracy believes should hire and fire our representation in government.

    Authoritarianism regards self only. They believe that if everyone focuses only on self an invisible (and magic) hand will take care of everything else. Of course that a symptom also of capitalism. I suppose perhaps religion as well. Invisible magic hands.

    If the world depended on me for food we’d be a skinny lot for sure but I’m pretty good at other things and I’m sure that’s true of everyone. It’s only when government (nothing more or less than the collective us in a liberal democracy) takes care of that collective us can we thrive. That does exclude favoring any profession over all professions, and any race or religion or class or talent over all others.

    Equality is the prime reason for liberal democracy but that’s contrary to make more money regardless of the impact on others.

    History shows how we thrive when government take care of the collective us and business takes care of us as individuals and government regulated business. There are lots of professions and individuals suffering today because of the rate of change 7.5B people can create. However that’s out of everyone’s control. Liberals don’t make claims that can’t be delivered but people focused only on themselves have no hang ups limiting their self sales to only the truth.

  44. Regarding our Brave New (Digital) World; I posted on Facebook, “TRUMP MUST BE STOPPED; BY ANY MEANS IT TAKES!”. A concerned friend messaged me it might bring police to my door; conditions are such today that that is within the realm of possibility. I messaged Sheila to please check with police if I disappear from the blog and let my daughter-in-law and 2 friends know to check on me if I stop messaging. I stand by every word; the world – including the Republican party overloaded Congress – watched as he sided with Putin against our government. If they are more afraid of an 81 year old, deaf, disabled woman on Social Security than our treasonous president and his party, I might be much safer in jail than here at home in this neighborhood filled with Trump loving Republicans.

  45. Today; July 17, 2018, there is another article in the Indianapolis Star referring to the Johnson County Indiana “childhood cancer cluster” which was denied by Indiana health department officials even though there were 111 cases between 1999 and 2013. Today’s article, “Toxic chemicals found in Franklin”; of the 14 residential homes tested “within a 5-mile radius of the former Amphenol facility – known to be a major polluter in the area”, 6 were found to contain toxic levels of chemicals. Three homes contained radon and others exceeded the accepted levels of tetrachloroethylene (PCEs) and trichloroethylene (TCSs). “Rates of cancer for Johnson County children are rising, according to National Cancer Institute statistics”.

    If Trump’s anti-EPA nominee, Kavannaugh, is appointed to SCOTUS; these Johnson County Indiana children will be among the victims lost to cancer. It is not only gutting the EPA which will affect their life-or-death situation; gutting or repealing the ACA will deny victims necessary medical testing and care to survive.

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