Friday, October 5, 2018

Considering Kavanaugh and the failure to communicate

I had an interesting exchange today.  Related to my constant agitating climate science communicators about the need to directly engage contrarians, and just as repeatedly, being rebuffed by the big boys.  See, I've been repeatedly reassured: Climate science contrarians, or for that matter these days die-hard Trump supporters, are a “lost cause” and a distinct minority of the US population.  There’s not much point in interacting with them on social media or elsewhere.    

Seems to me simply looking at the degeneration of our public discourse, and the current attack our governmental agencies makes the folly of that smugness self evident, but evidently not.  Be clear this is about the dialogue on the street, and in media outlets, outside of the scientific community.  

We NEED to DIRECTLY ENGAGE contrarian characters and their arguments and misinformation for many reasons.

How else can we understand our own positions and arguments, if we can’t enunciate them in challenging circumstances?

How can we understand what’s going on within their heads and hearts, if we never actually listen to them?

How can we convince onlookers if we’re afraid to confront and expose the deliberate dishonestly of science's critics?

and so on.

In any event, in an ongoing dialogue at ATTP I responded to a pal's sidestepping non sequitur with the following:

I wrote: "Guess I’ll never get you to discuss my actual content –  blithe dismissal is as far as your interest goes. But, than it seems we’ve turned into a society that rather talk past each other. {Have you checked political polls lately, looks to me like the fruits of our general apathy and that god-awful laziness when it come to actually confronting what the other is trying to express.}"

This prompted his angry complaint: “… your propensity to falsely define me, for example. cc wrote:
"Have you checked political polls lately, looks to me like the fruits of our general apathy and that god-awful laziness when it come to actually confronting what the other is trying to express."
Implicit in your statement is the belief that I am not paying attention to what is going on in US politics. …
I'm sharing my response mainly because it drifts into the current Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination which serves as a perfect example of the fruits of intellectual's benign neglect of the lower classes, and which has been weighing heavy on my heart these past days.  

Oh please STOP already!  It’s not all about you! Excuse the sloppy rhetorical device. 

I’m trying to discuss the need for more direction citizen dialogue, engagement, motivation, networking - you know a healthy Democracy demands an informed and engaged citizenry and all that.

Please, I was asking about the fact and not poking at you.   

Consider what we have witnessed in America this past week.  You know the Kavanaugh hearing and the voter opinion polls that look like they’ve gone though a wild 15/20 point swing.  Republicans have suddenly been justified and energized and Democratic momentum seems to have evaporated.  What happened?  How can that be understood, what does that portent for the coming election?

Then my point:
Kavanaugh was a very passionate partisan, even belligerent and threatening.  A man who felt free dropping conspiracy theories without offering a shred of evidence, in order to distract from the actual issue at hand. 

Kavanaugh delivered an emotionalized, personalized, angry, even threatening diatribe.  He showed himself to be the great white American male playing the victim card like a consummate performer.  He used anger and indignation to evade all questions and America ate it up because of, …  Why?

Did it matter that we were discussing a life time appointment on the Supreme Court.  Temperament, partisanship and lying - seems to me no matter where anyone is on the political spectrum, his behavior would have seemed abhorrent.  

What happened to America’s dedication to a pluralistic society?  What about ‘fair play’?  Why aren’t we confronting players with such questions?

Instead of talking past each other why not a little confrontation?

Why didn’t some of the Democratic Senators ask Kavanaugh to reread his Clinton sentence and then to explain it.  Why not ask him about his self awareness?  Why not ask about the importance of impartiality?  Then ask him about his partisanship and that outpouring of pure hatred towards elected representatives of over half the nation.  Then ask him to explain how could he be an impartial justice of the land.

Nope instead, a lot of talking past each other, with anger and fear winning again.

Everything I say isn’t aimed as an insult to you though I get tired of having what I’m actually trying to discuss ignored.  

End of comment, here's some background information.

Food for thought.

C-SPAN  Published on Oct 4, 2018

Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens on Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh: “I’ve changed my views for reasons that have no really relationship to his intellectual ability or his record as a federal judge…I think that his performance during the hearings caused me to change my mind.” Full video here:

Allan Smith Sep. 9, 2017, 

'The dogma lives loudly within you': The battle over Trump's effort to remake the courts in his image is starting to heat up

The ongoing effort turned particularly hot this week as Democratic senators moved to block two of his circuit court nominations while two of his other nominees to top courts were grilled during a Capitol Hill hearing.

That hearing was followed up by Trump announcing his seventh wave of judicial nominees, an additional 15 names that are about to be submitted to the Senate, bringing the total number of district and circuit court judges he's nominated to roughly 50blowing far past the number of judicial nominations made at this stage of a presidency by any recent predecessors. That's in part due to the massive number of vacancies in the federal judiciary, which has swelled past 140.  …

________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

Kate Harloe  NOVEMBER 9, 2017 6:00 AM

How Donald Trump Is Remaking the Federal Courts in His Own Image

The president’s judicial nominees have been notably white, male, and conservative.

When Donald Trump took office, he inherited more than 100 federal judicial vacancies. It was a nearly unprecedented number, roughly twice the number that President Barack Obama inherited in 2009. Trump has moved quickly to fill these lifetime appointments with a slate of the most conservative and least diverse nominations since Reagan. …

In May, Leonard Leo, the executive vice president of the Federalist Society who has been deeply involved in Trump’s selection of nominees, gave a speech at an Acton Institute event, boasting of his organization’s role in transforming the judiciary, and leaving no doubt about the change he sought: “I would love to see the courts unrecognizable,” he said. …

That norm is closely tied to a procedural tradition known as the “blue-slip process.” Dating back to 1917, the system requires both home state senators to return a signed blue slip approving a potential district court nominee before the Senate Judiciary Committee will move forward with the nomination.  …

By Charlie Savage, November 11, 2017
Trump is Rapidly Reshaping the Judiciary Here’s How

WASHINGTON — In the weeks before Donald J. Trump took office, lawyers joining his administration gathered at a law firm near the Capitol, where Donald F. McGahn II, the soon-to-be White House counsel, filled a white board with a secret battle plan to fill the federal appeals courts with young and deeply conservative judges.

Mr. McGahn, instructed by Mr. Trump to maximize the opportunity to reshape the judiciary, mapped out potential nominees and a strategy, according to two people familiar with the effort: Start by filling vacancies on appeals courts with multiple openings and where Democratic senators up for re-election next year in states won by Mr. Trump — like Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania — could be pressured not to block his nominees. And to speed them through confirmation, avoid clogging the Senate with too many nominees for the district courts, where legal philosophy is less crucial. …

By Ronald A. Klain  November 21, 2017
Conservatives have a breathtaking plan for Trump to pack the courts

If conservatives get their way, President Trump will add twice as many lifetime members to the federal judiciary in the next 12 months (650) as Barack Obama named in eight years (325). American law will never be the same. …

By Lydia Wheeler - 11/16/17 
Meet the powerful group behind Trump’s judicial nominations

The Trump administration has been filling judicial vacancies in rapid succession, with the majority of nominees having one thing in common: ties to the Federalist Society.
Groups on the left have accused the White House of outsourcing the nomination process to the Washington, D.C.-based group as it seeks to stack the courts with conservative judges.

Of the 13 judicial nominees confirmed since President Trump took office, 10 are either current or former Federalist Society members or regular speakers at its events. Eight of the 10 appellate Trump nominees pending before the Senate have ties to the group.
Leonard Leo, executive vice president of the Federalist Society, is a White House adviser on judicial nominations. He reportedly played a key role in Trump’s nomination of Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.
Leo declined numerous requests to be interviewed for this story, as did other Federalist Society staff members.
Steven Calabresi, who co-founded the society in 1980 …

Arn Pearson, December 27, 2017
Contempt of court: Trump’s judicial blitz betrays his hostility to rule of law
Some of Trump’s most egregious nominees have dropped out, but his onslaught on the judiciary is very dangerous

President Donald Trump’s open hostility to the functioning of federal government has been painfully obvious for months.

Trump appointed the fossil-fuel industry’s favorite, Scott Pruitt, to run the Environmental Protection Agency, which Pruitt sued 14 times as attorney general of Oklahoma. Trump picked Rick Perry to head the Department of Energy, an agency Perry pledged to eliminate but couldn’t remember the name of in his infamous 2011 presidential debate debacle. And Trump named Betsy DeVos as his education secretary, despite her career spent bankrolling efforts to privatize the public school system she never attended.  The list goes on.

In the past two weeks, three of Trump’s judicial nominees for lifetime appointments to federal trial courts have been benched based on their embarrassing lack of qualifications or extremist views. …

This is not just a case of poor vetting. It is the product of a deliberate attempt to stack the federal courts with young right-wing judges who place ideology over the rule of law. …

And McGahn has a plan. He has approached the job like a political campaign, focusing on filling appellate court openings in states that went for Trump, especially those where a Democratic senator faces reelection in 2018. Republicans are systematically moving that plan to fruition in what some have called as a "court-packing spree" and a “judicial nomination blitz.”

Many of these nominees have extreme conservative views, culled from the ranks of the Koch-funded Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation, former clerks to ultra-right jurists like Justice Antonin Scalia or McGahn associates and acolytes. Most are white, male and relatively young -- meaning that if confirmed they will occupy those lifetime judicial seats for decades to come. …

By Richard North Patterson   January 16, 2018
Federalist Society
Trump is delivering the judiciary Republicans dreamed about

Why do pro-Trump conservatives ignore his transcendent unfitness?
Because he is creating the politicized judiciary they crave – a dream team of right-wing enablers committed to advancing conservative ideology and corporate interests. If they resemble the roster of a men’s club dominated by privileged white males with the sensibilities to match, that is no coincidence. In legal circles, they are precisely that. …

The Federalist Society was founded in 1982 to advance a stringently conservative theory of law and politics. Its central mission was to develop a prepackaged pool of ideologues who could transform the federal judiciary.

It worked. In less than two decades, the society became the ubiquitous screener of judicial nominees for Republican presidents, and its member comprised a good half of the lawyers the GOP appointed to the bench — including John Roberts and Samuel Alito, who joined Federalists Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court. …

Particular beneficiaries are corporations. Another scholarly paper by professors Neil Devins and Lawrence Baum – “Split Definitive: How Party Polarization Turned the Supreme Court Into a Partisan Court” – spells out the linkage between conservative social networks and judicial decisions favoring business. …

By Dahlia Lithwick, January 18, 2018
Don’t Fear the Clowns
Trump’s most laughable judicial nominees aren’t the ones we should be worried about.

… All of this was perfectly predictable, if you consider that Trump carried a clear majority—56 percent to 41 percent—of those voters who ranked the composition of the Supreme Court as “the most important factor” in their decision. This segment of the electorate was immediately rewarded when a Supreme Court vacancy that had been held open for almost a year went to Neil Gorsuch, whose tenure has thus far been marked by aggressive questioning and opinion writing and a voting record more closely aligned with Clarence Thomas than John Roberts. …

By Tessa Berenson February 8, 2018
Inside Trump's Plan to Dramatically Reshape U.S. Courts

A few days after Donald Trump was elected President in November 2016, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell placed a call to incoming White House counsel Don McGahn. McConnell knew Trump had a chance to change the ideological makeup of the federal court system in a way not seen since the Reagan era, but only if McConnell and McGahn could get him to tighten up a disorderly political operation, and fast. “I said, Don, we’ve got an opportunity here to have a huge long-term impact on the country,” McConnell recalls, sitting in a cushioned chair in his Capitol office one day last month. He made McGahn a promise to move qualified judges through the Senate confirmation process as quickly as the White House could send them.

By Cogan Schneier | February 22, 2018
Trump Picks Judges 'He Can Relate To,' McGahn Tells CPAC

McGahn spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday.

Speaking to an audience at a conservative conference Thursday, Don McGahn, the White House counsel and official overseeing Donald Trump’s judicial nominations, laid out the qualifications the president seeks in his picks. …

By Sahil Kapur and Laura Litvan, April 27, 2018,
McConnell Cements a Legacy for Trump With Reshaped Courts

President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are rapidly filling U.S. federal courts with young conservatives who will shape American law for generations to come.

The Republican-led Senate confirmed Trump’s 15th appeals court nominee this week — more than the last five presidents at this juncture — with eight of the new judges in their 40s, and seven in their 50s. McConnell set the stage Thursday to confirm six more, one day after a committee voted to cut debate time, which if approved would further speed things up. …

By Jennifer Bendery, July 2, 2018
Trump Isn’t Remaking The Supreme Court. Leonard Leo Is.
The Federalist Society leader has helped put three conservative justices onto the court. He’s about to get a fourth.

WASHINGTON ― For the second time in less than two years, President Donald Trump is poised to fill a Supreme Court vacancy. But he’s not the one remaking the nation’s most powerful court for generations of Americans. It’s Leonard Leo.

Leo, executive vice president of The Federalist Society, a national organization of conservative lawyers, has played a central role in the selection and confirmation of three Supreme Court justices: John Roberts, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch. And on Wednesday, Leo announced that he’s taking leave from his job, effective immediately, to personally advise Trump on a replacement for retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Trump plans to pick someone from his previously released list of 25 potential Supreme Court nominees ― a list that Leo put together for him, at Trump’s request. If all goes as planned, Leo, 53, will have helped secure his fourth justice on the court by the early fall.

No president in modern history has had this kind of influence in reshaping the Supreme Court. Leo doesn’t singularly deserve credit for putting these judges on the court, of course; it takes teams of people to get a nominee through. But long after Trump is out of the White House, Americans will be feeling the effects of a court stacked not by any particular president but, in large part, by Leo. …

By Andy Kroll , August 19, 2018
Inside Trump’s Judicial Takeover
How conservative operatives and Senate Republicans are helping the president pack the courts at a record pace

Over the past two decades — including five years serving on the Federal Election Commission — McGahn has become an ideological warrior battling what he sees as the tyranny of the federal government. He parlayed his campaign-finance expertise into a job as Donald Trump’s lawyer. After the election, Trump rewarded McGahn with the job of White House counsel, a perch from which McGahn has spearheaded the administration’s unprecedented campaign to reshape the American judicial system, filling courts with judges who share Trump’s goals of dismantling environmental protection, rolling back civil and reproductive rights, and gutting labor laws — in other words, destroying the so-called administrative state. “These efforts to reform the regulatory state begin with Congress and the executive branch,” McGahn said in his speech, “but they ultimately depend on courts.” …

By Jason Zengerle, Aug. 22, 2018
How the Trump Administration Is Remaking the Courts
Thanks to ruthless discipline — and a plan long in the making — the G.O.P is carrying out a sweeping transformation of the federal judiciary.

Ronald F. McGahn, the White House counsel, stood in the gilded ballroom of Washington’s Mayflower Hotel last November to address the annual meeting of the Federalist Society. He seemed humbled, even a bit awed to be delivering the Barbara K. Olson Memorial lecture, named after the conservative lawyer who died in the Sept. 11 attacks. Noting some of the legal giants who gave the Olson lecture in years past, McGahn reflected, “You hear names like Scalia, Roberts and Gorsuch and then me; one of those names really is different than the rest.” 

Unlike previous speakers — to say nothing of many of those to whom he was now speaking — McGahn, himself a member of the Federalist Society, hadn’t attended an Ivy League law school; he went to Widener University, a “second tier” law school in Pennsylvania. He had never held a tenured professorship or boasted an appellate practice, much less a judgeship, that required him to think deeply about weighty constitutional issues; he specialized in the comparably mundane and technical field of campaign finance and election law. “But here we are,” McGahn said to the audience, almost apologetically. 

In 2015, Donald Trump hired McGahn to be the lawyer for his long-shot presidential campaign. Then, after Trump shockingly won the election, he tapped McGahn, who had proved his talent and loyalty during the campaign, to be White House counsel. Trump, in other words, had made McGahn’s wildest dreams come true. Now, McGahn told the Federalist Society, Trump was going to make their wildest dreams come true, too. …

By Matthew Knott - September 9, 2018
'The most important thing we will do': how Trump is stacking the courts

New York: Three decades ago, when Donald Trump was just a New York City real estate and casino mogul, Ronald Reagan was presented with an opportunity to reshape the Supreme Court in his own image. Had he succeeded, the United States would be a different country today.
As Reagan's presidency neared its end, Supreme Court justice Lewis Powell jnr announced his retirement, offering Reagan a chance to shift the nation's most powerful court decisively to the right. Although a conservative, Powell had been the court's swing vote and liked reaching compromises with his more liberal colleagues.

Ignoring advice to select a moderate capable of gaining bipartisan support, Reagan chose Robert Bork, a judge regarded by Democrats as a hardline conservative and Republican partisan. …

… The event was the birth of the Federalist Society, a group dedicated to combating the dominance of progressives at the country's most prestigious law schools. It has since become one of the most influential organisations in the country.

Amanda Hollis-Brusky, the author of Ideas with Consequences: The Federalist Society and the Conservative Counterrevolution, says the group "has evolved into the de facto gatekeeper for right-of-centre lawyers aspiring to government jobs and federal judgeships under Republican presidents”. …

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