a roadblock to diversity on the courts, bullet train, the rich and their empathy problem

Judicial Nominations Languish During Month-Long Recess, Press Takes Notice

One story in The Times focuses on President Obama’s diverse judicial nominees and the Senate’s delay in confirming these candidates, continuing the momentum of recent coverage of this issue by NPR, Politico, Roll Call and The Wall Street Journal Law Blog.

Obama is nominating many more diverse nominees than his predecessors … strikingly so,” American Constitution Society Executive Director Caroline Fredrickson told NPR. “But the nominees are not getting confirmed with the same kind of success.”

In a second article in The New York Times Magazine about the dynamic between Supreme Court justices, Emily Bazelon highlights the issue of federal judicial nominations, noting that the federal bench has “had more than 80 vacancies for more than two years, a historical record.”

Because of Senate holds( which contain the implied threat of a filibuster) and because just about any bill or judicial nomination now requires a 60 vote super majority, it is unlikely this situation will change any time soon. Most of the nominees are very moderate ( you can check out the status of their appointment at JudicialNominations.org) with support from some on the Right side of the aisle. But because they are all to the left of Mussolini and they’re being appointed by a Democratic president, justice for the people goes wanting. There has been plenty of criticism of Obama over the last year from liberals. Certainly some of it is valid, but much of it goes beyond anything he can do something about. It wouldn’t matter if Hillary or a great progressive like Russ Feingold were president, they would still face the same roadblocks to their court appointments.

houses, architecture, innovation, modern

portal dream house

You’ll probably be seeing a lot about this in days ahead, but just in case anyone missed it, New drug could cure nearly any viral infection. Viruses use a sophisticated kind of attack on the host (you) RNA. Using it to produce more viruses. While the human body can counter attack in many instances, in others like HIV it cannot. This drug has very specific targeting capabilities. It zeroes in on the virus in the cell, not any of the healthy essential parts, and kills the virus. While there are some drug trials still to be done, this drug has the potential to save millions of lives and the largely tax payer funded research will cost far less than the $3 trillion dollars spent to invade as Iraq.

bullet rain, high speed train, modern transportation

bullet train two.

The Empathy Ceiling: The Rich Are Different — And Not In a Good Way, Studies Suggest
The ‘Haves’ show less empathy than ‘Have-nots’

“We have now done 12 separate studies measuring empathy in every way imaginable, social behavior in every way, and some work on compassion and it’s the same story,” he said. “Lower class people just show more empathy, more prosocial behavior, more compassion, no matter how you look at it.”

In an academic version of a Depression-era Frank Capra movie, Keltner and co-authors of an article called “Social Class as Culture: The Convergence of Resources and Rank in the Social Realm,” published this week in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science, argue that “upper-class rank perceptions trigger a focus away from the context toward the self….”

In other words, rich people are more likely to think about themselves. “They think that economic success and political outcomes, and personal outcomes, have to do with individual behavior, a good work ethic,” said Keltner, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley.

Because the rich gloss over the ways family connections, money and education helped, they come to denigrate the role of government and vigorously oppose taxes to fund it.

“I will quote from the Tea Party hero Ayn Rand: “‘It is the morality of altruism that men have to reject,’” he said.

Whether or not Keltner is right, there certainly is a “let them cake” vibe in the air. Last week The New York Times reported on booming sales of luxury goods, with stores keeping waiting lists for $9,000 coats and the former chairman of Saks saying, “If a designer shoe goes up from $800 to $860, who notices?”

Like all studies this one is about a trend not an absolute. The dominant feelings/behaviors generally cluster around something like a Bell curve. No doubt there are plenty of people who are doing quite well and also feel they are bound by the social contract. For me anyway the problem here is not about envy. If someone can afford a $3000 pair of shoes or a $80k sports car than good for you, enjoy. The issue is one of paying for their fair share of all the structural requirements necessary in a society to make that wealth possible. This is a pretty typical far Right/libertarian response to studies like these,

Posted by Oikos
Aug 10 2011 – 11:04am

Wow, what a discovery!

Talk about throwing good money away on presposterous sociological studies.

Why does anyone make the effort to become rich? Why does anyone strive to become wealthy? To give the wealth away in an act of empathy, I suppose? Strikes me as a complicated way of wealth distribution.

Oikos, like many Americans has no understanding of how wealth comes about. The propaganda has worked amazingly well. To him it exists in a relative vacuum. One rugged individual earns every penny with no contribution from society. In Oikos world, like that of Reason, the Mises Institute, the Cato Institute, the Free Enterprise Institute the framework which makes any wealth possible either should not be paid for or paid by some other people, but not them. The wealthy welfare queen school of economics. No need for county court houses to keep records of property and deeds – all property disputes can be settled with private armies hired by the wealthy. The rest of us can duel it out with shotguns and pick axes. No need for public roads. No need to pay for the educated engineers or shop workers. Do away with public education altogether and home school all children. This latter choice would also yield the side benefit of keeping women barefoot and pregnant at home where they belong. Think of the millions saved bu not providing grants for basic science research. Which reminds me, by way of having the courage of one’s convictions shouldn’t conservatarians refuse all modern medical treatment since practically all of it is founded on basic scientific findings funded by the public. Pharmaceutical companies do develop some of their own drugs. What science did they base their drug design – a series of studies by MIT, the University of Florida, California Sate University or some other university that received funds or grants? I wonder about the Oikos, the Limbaughs, the Cheneys, the listeners of wing-nut radio. Are they just mentally incapable of making the connections between the incalculable connections between the different institutions, taxes, individuals, skills, knowledge base, luck, circumstances and pure serendipity that goes into the value of all the capital produced by a country. Unless a lot more people start to see those connections, we could elect the most progressive president ever and still go nowhere. Acknowledging the complexity bound up in do work, being a business operator or an entrepreneur does not automatically equal living your life for someone else – what a ridiculous syllogism by the way. One for which I have never seen a logical proof. If I pay 8% more in taxes on my capital gains my identity has been ripped from by body? My sympathies to those whose concept of self is so swallow, moronic and so fragile.

improvisation or the flood by vasily kandinsky 1913