Monthly Archives: March 2022

Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Confirmation Hearings

This week, Monday through Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee is holding hearings for President Biden’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Ketanji Brown Jackson.  If you’re going to tune in and watch some of it, I would suggest that Tuesday and Wednesday are the key days, because Tuesday and Wednesday is when you’ll be seeing senators question her directly.  You can expect Democrats to ask her friendly questions designed to bring out good answers from her, and you can expect most of the Republicans to ask her challenging questions.

In particular, you can expect to hear Republican senators press her on allegations that she is “soft on crime.”  For part of her career she was a public defender, which means that it was sometimes her job to try to get nefarious criminals acquitted, and she was also on a sentencing commission where some of her recommendations will be subject to questioning.  One Republican senator in particular, Josh Hawley, has been alleging that she has been easy on sex offenders.  (Reminder:  When the Capitol was being attacked on January 6, 2021, Josh Hawley was the one who made the solidarity fist with the attackers.  He is not merely a conservative Republican; he is a full-fledged member of the Trump loyalist cult.)

In order for Judge Jackson to be confirmed for the Supreme Court, she will need at least 50 votes from elected senators.  If she gets only 50 votes (that is, if all 50 Democrats and no Republicans vote for her), Vice President Harris will cast the tie-breaking vote.  It’s uncertain whether she’ll have any Republican votes, but she did get a few when Biden appointed her to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals last year.  The moderate Democrats, that is, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, will probably vote to confirm her, but their votes aren’t automatic, as we have seen.

Anyway, it’s worth tuning in for parts of the hearings Tuesday and Wednesday, March 22 and 23, to get the flavor of this kind of hearing and to see what a few of the characters on Capitol Hill look and sound like.  And if you do watch, feel free to post your observations on the OpenLab discussion board (click here for that).

Why We’re Hearing Talk of World War III

Currently, the United States and its Western allies are imposing heavy punitive economic sanctions on Russia, sanctions that are already throwing the Russian economy into crisis, and although no country is sending troops to Ukraine, weapons are being sent.  But there are two things the West isn’t doing.  Although the West is cutting off other forms of trade with Russia, the West is not cutting off the purchase of oil and natural gas from Russia.  Doing that would punish the West at least as much as it would punish Russia.  In fact, Russia could severely punish the West by cutting off the sale of fuel.  So far, neither of those things is happening, but the situation with the fuel trade is precarious.

But that’s not the worst of it.

The government of Ukraine is asking the U.S. and its allies to declare a no-fly zone over Ukraine.  What would that mean?  In short form, it would mean that the U.S. and its allies would be shooting down Russian planes as they attempted to fly over Ukraine, which Russia would certainly regard as an act of war against Russia.  It would lead Russia to launch some kind of retaliatory attack. Because Biden knows that, he has made it fairly clear that the no-fly zone isn’t going to happen, much to the anger and frustration of Ukrainians.  But even without the no-fly zone, Putin is calling the punitive economic sanctions an act of war.  And here’s the rub:  If Russia attacks any member of the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance (NATO), that means all of the NATO member countries have to treat it as an attack upon them, and thus must cooperate in the response.

And thus, if Russia attacks any NATO member, it will mean that the United States will be formally and officially at war with Russia.

And both countries have nuclear weapons.

And one of the two countries is ruled by a mad man who doesn’t have the kind of restraint that rational people have.

This is why we’re hearing talk of World War III as a serious possibility.

(For updates, see the news feeds that I have built into this OpenLab site., on the right side of the page if you’re on a computer.)