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Monday, October 8, 2018 - 11:15am

 

Kavanaugh

The nation held their breath this week as the FBI conducted its 7th background check into Judge Kavanaugh. The final FBI report showed no support for the sexual assault claims against Kavanaugh, reiterating what we already knew: the confirmation process was turned into a baseless character assassination and a political stunt. As the investigation moved forward, Democrats began to realize the FBI report that they requested wouldn’t be enough to sink his nomination and have launched a new line of attack on Kavanaugh’s mental fitness to serve on the Supreme Court. On Tuesday, Senator Booker told reporters that regardless of whether Judge Kavanaugh is found innocent or guilty of committing sexual assault, President Trump should pick a new Supreme Court nominee because Kavanaugh lacked the proper “temperament” to serve on the high court. Senator Feinstein echoed Booker’s reservations in a statement to the committee last Friday saying that “This was not someone who reflected an impartial temperament or the fairness and even-handedness one would see in a judge. This was someone who was aggressive and belligerent.”

These blatant attacks on Judge Kavanaugh’s character are divorced from reality and a desperate, last ditch attempt to thwart Kavanaugh’s confirmation. As conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg writes,

Whole panels of pundits and experts on MSNBC are made up of people who cannot imagine why Kavanaugh might be upset at the unverified, uncorroborated, and literally unbelievable claim that he ran a rape gang when he was 15. Instead, we get hours of hand-wringing every day about his supposedly unjudicial temperament, as if any judge or justice on the bench, now or ever, would be expected to remain calm under such circumstances.

What’s Next on Kavanaugh:

After yesterday’s successful cloture vote in the Senate, we expect the final vote for Kavanaugh to be this afternoon. Heritage Action continues to support his nomination to the Supreme Court and will bring you in-depth analysis on the final vote next week.

Sentinel and HAFA Women Lead

Tennessee Sentinels Katherine Hudgins and Michelle Garcia visited the DC offices of swing vote Senators Collins, Manchin, and Murkowski, lobbying in favor of confirming Judge Kavanaugh ahead of the cloture and final votes.

 

 

Sentinels Katherine Hudgins and Michelle Garcia outside of Sen. Joe Manchin’s office

 

North Carolina Sentinel Maggie Sandrock also joined Katherine and Michelle to view the cloture vote from the Senate gallery as personal guests of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley.

 

 

 

 

Sentinels Katherine Hudgins, Michelle Garcia, and Maggie Sandrock outside the Senate gallery

On Monday, Heritage Action women delivered over 50,000+ signatures to the six key senators who are likely to be swing votes:

  • Jeff Flake (R-AZ)
  • Susan Collins (R-ME)
  • Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
  • Joe Donnelly (D-IN)
  • Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)
  • Joe Manchin (R-WV)

 

 

Women for Kavanaugh outside of Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s office on Monday

Upon delivering these petitions, we explained Judge Kavanaugh’s impeccable credentials to the Senators’ staff:

  • Brett Kavanaugh is qualified. He graduated from Yale Law School, clerked for Justice Kennedy of the Supreme Court, and served for the past 12 years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. 
  • He will uphold the Constitution. He will interpret the Constitution as-written rather than legislating from the bench. 
  • He will defend Americans’ right to practice their faith without government intrusion. 
  • Brett Kavanaugh volunteers his time to protect religious liberty and is active in his church and community. 

Heritage Action in the News

  • Heritage Action is pressuring red-state Democrats up for re-election to support Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court and have key voted in favor of it. See the CNBC article about our efforts here.
  • Garrett Bess is our new Director of Government Relations and he received a shout out this week in Politico on his new job. Garrett is responsible for managing Heritage Action’s government relations team and the day to day interactions with Members of Congress and their staff. He has served for nearly a decade on the Hill as a senior staff member to two Members of Congress and is a native of Tampa Bay, Florida. We are thrilled to have him on the team!

News from the Hill

  • Upon reviewing the FBI report, the Senate voted in favor of the cloture vote to limit debate on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination on Friday. The full Senate vote is expected this afternoon.
  • Farm Bill negotiators have failed to reach a compromise before the law expired but agreed to return to the bill following the midterm elections. Conservatives continue to advocate for stronger food stamp work requirements to be included in the final version. In the scenario where conference negotiations fall apart, a one-year extension of current law is preferable to authorizing a new, five-year farm bill that lacks work requirements.
  • Several legislative items will be considered in this year’s lame duck including the DHS appropriations bill, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) reauthorization, tax extenders, pension bailouts, and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

Looking Forward

  • The House is out of session until after the midterm elections, leaving a number of open policy issues to be considered in the lame duck. Historically, lame duck sessions of Congress end up poorly for conservative policy proposals as retiring lawmakers are not held accountable by voters. However, this does not have to be the case: if grassroots conservatives rally together and engage with their elected leaders, Congress could move to use the lame duck session to advance conservative reforms.

Action Items

With the Senate floor vote happening this afternoon, please call these five senators and tell them to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court:

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Thank you,

Tim, Jessica, and the entire Heritage Action team

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Educators denounce vote to confirm Kavanaugh who is unfit to serve on Supreme Court
NEA President: Only thing to do ‘for those who share disappointment in this moment: vote’

WASHINGTON — By a razor-thin margin, the U.S. Senate today confirmed Brett Kavanaugh to serve as an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings ended with gripping testimony from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who shared under oath heart-wrenching and vivid memories of her sexual assault at the hands of Kavanaugh when they were high school students.

The following is a statement that can be attributed to NEA President Lily Eskelsen García:

“From the outset, it was clear that Judge Kavanaugh would not be the fair-minded jurist needed on the Supreme Court. The Senate confirmation process has only further demonstrated that he lacks the qualifications and temperament to hold one of the most powerful positions in our government. Judge Kavanaugh is simply unfit to serve on the highest court of the land. We must now hope that he can find the impartiality and necessary disposition needed to serve the nation as a Supreme Court justice.”

“The message sent by Senate Republicans to the nation, and in particular to our children, was loud and clear: It is acceptable to appoint a hyper-partisan justice who is beholden to the White House. It is acceptable to disregard the stories of sexual assault survivors. It is acceptable to disregard dishonesty under oath. Well, educators know that these things are never acceptable. There is only one thing left to do for those of us who share disappointment in this moment: vote.”

Follow on twitter at @NEAmedia and @Lily_NEA

Keep up with the conversation on social media at #StopKavanaugh

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers. Learn more at www.nea.org.

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Dangerous White Lies

By Wim Laven

788 words

When I started teaching at the university level, about 1,500 students ago, I had no idea that I’d ever have to dedicate class time to address honesty. Some brief reminders on plagiarism was all that I was used to. That Melania Trump could use some help, her “Be Best” speech was stolen from Michelle Obama, is good for a couple laughs. Over time truth has become quite an issue. What sense should my students make of a president who’d told 4,229 lies in the first 558 days of his presidency? What about his claims about “fake news?” Over and over Donald Trump cries out “FAKE NEWS” only for the story to be confirmed as true. My job is not to be an oracle of truth, I don’t lie, but that only encourages the return to authority as truth; I try to give the tools for navigating the terrain of dishonesty, but I’ll admit it is getting harder.

 

          “All politicians lie.”

 

          Statements of universal political dishonesty are ubiquitous, but are they accurate? In class students are expected to learn about ad hominem arguments, this is the fallacy of attacking a source instead of the claim, which is intended to inspire a false equivalence. That Trump has lied at a pace without any comparison is not in and of itself proof that any particular statement is a lie, it is just good evidence for claiming him to be untrustworthy. Barack Obama lost some trust when he won the lie of the year distinction in 2013 for saying, “if you like your health care plan you can keep it.” Claims must be judged on their merits, period. Not all lies are the same, and a university education is expected to provide students with the ability to evaluate claims. Clearly some politicians are more honest than others.

 

          “It is just he said, she said…”

 

            Trump’s recent nomination to the Supreme Court is a controversy, like many (maybe even most) of his decisions so it is not surprising that people have chosen sides. But many popular memes are simple not true. “He said, she said” is an effort to make an equivalence in testimony, and it is used to argue towards the point that if you’re going to believe testimony, then you must trust both testimonies equally. The point could not be further from the truth. Testimony is evidence, and evidence is used to support or deny claims. Witness testimony is one of the most common types of evidence used, and there are many mitigating factors used in judging the veracity of its value as evidence. Evidence must always be weighed against a standard of judgment.

 

“Supporting Kavanaugh means you believe in innocent until proven guilty.”

 

Students are very confused about standards of judgment. Despite the factual basis for standards of judgment—let me be clear here, class, the presumption of innocence relates to criminal law—the hearing for a Supreme Court Justice is not a criminal matter, it is a job interview. The elevated standard—beyond reasonable doubt—is used in criminal cases because a person’s freedom or life is at stake. Other cases use different standards, like “preponderance of the evidence” or “clear and convincing.” The burden of proof is different out of utility, an employer does not need to “prove” you were smoking marijuana outside before the interview, they may pass on your application just for smelling the weed on you, even in a state where it has been legalized.

 

“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” ― Daniel Patrick Moynihan

 

Senator Jeff Flake used this quote when he called out Trump’s dishonesty. He noted “alternative facts” and the assault on the free press among his criticisms. He was troubled by Trump’s naming of the press as “the enemy of the people.” Flake is credited with getting the Senate to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct in the Kavanaugh nomination, which may have been prompted by two women confronting him with their “my assault does matter” in an elevator. But the fact here is that the investigation was limited. The Whitehouse has been allowed complete control over “facts,” they determined some allegations were not credible enough to be investigated. Fact: checks and balances were put in place on purpose. Opinion: we should be scared that Trump has too much influence over appointing a judge who could possibly have a deciding vote in a case on his impeachment; the lies are destroying the country, and the US has become a complete laughing stock; the Russian troll farms were able to weaponize American ignorance and susceptibility to dishonesty—the lies have real consequences. When will Americans become lifelong learners and begin to sift truth from lies competently?

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Wim Laven, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is a doctoral candidate in International Conflict Management at Kennesaw State University, he teaches courses in political science and conflict resolution, and is on the Governing Council of the International Peace Research Association.