Audit D.C. Notes: Journal Overreach, Overjoyed in Auckland, the New Blue Collar

Elena Kagan’s confirmation hearings might not have produced the drama that some had hoped for. But that hardly justifies the WSJ’s headline on a story about her appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee:

Confirmed: Hearings Aren’t Pleasing Anybody
Not pleasing anybody at all? Hmm. I wonder how the story supports that.

Rather thinly, it turns out. The Journal notes that, with her confirmation seemingly assured, “senators from both parties turned their fire on the hearing process itself.” Here’s what they don’t like:

Lawmakers suggested the process was empty at best and dysfunctional at worst. Hearings have become highly scripted affairs, and many senators said they provided little insight into a nominee’s views.

Supreme Court confirmation hearings have been low-information affairs since the Senate’s 1987 rejection of Robert Bork’s nomination. But senators seemed especially bothered by the limited responses they got from Kagan, noting a 1995 article she wrote in which she complained that these kinds of hearings were “vapid” and would be more useful if nominees spoke more about their beliefs.

The Journal reports that senators from both parties complained about the information they’d received from recent nominees, and it showed Republicans—and Republican-turned-Democrat Sen. Arlen Specter—to be frustrated that Kagan wasn’t more forthcoming.

Well, that’s somebody. But is that everybody? Hardly.

I get that a senator could be unhappy about the hearing process and still happy with the nominee. And indeed, the Journal quotes one Democrat as pretty darned happy with Kagan:

But Democrats were delighted with Ms. Kagan. “I think even the other side would have to admit that you have a wonderfully well-ordered mind,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.).

The Washington Post did a much better job framing this story:

At Kagan confirmation hearing, the process takes some punches

As for the Journal’s nobody-likes-it approach. Well, it’s quite a stretch.

—In case you weren’t sure, money can buy you happiness. At least, that’s the finding of a new Gallup poll that surveyed more than 136,000 people in 132 countries.

A Washington Post story on the research says that “pulling in the big bucks” makes people of all stripes more likely to say they are happy with their lives. But this is the first big international study “to differentiate between overall life satisfaction and day-to-day emotions,” and, on that score, there is some good news for those whose wallets aren’t bulging:

But the survey also showed that a key element of what many people consider happiness — positive feelings — is much more strongly affected by factors other than cold, hard cash, such as feeling respected, being in control of your life and having friends and family to rely on in a pinch.

That’s so nice.

I’m never sure how seriously to take these sprawling international surveys. Gallup is calling this one the “first representative sample of planet Earth,” and offers up plenty of information about its method.

For the highlights, check out a chart here. The details are fascinating. Who knew people in New Zealand laugh so much?

—Will women become our new robot overlords, now that they dominate the U.S. workforce?

No, says Annalee Newitz. But in a fascinating post at future-focused io9, she sets out a few other ways a female working class could change the world.

Here’s a sample:

Jobs we think of as “pink collar” are going to become blue collar. Men will be working as nurses and housekeepers. This could be the moment when gender stereotypes really start to break down in the West. We’ve already seen images of professional women enter pop culture (and real life). Now we’re going to see images of men heroically supporting their families by working in child care. Nothing like turning child care into a source of cash to make it honorable and manly.

Right on.

(h/t Ann Friedman)

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Holly Yeager is CJR's Peterson Fellow, covering fiscal and economic policy. She is based in Washington and reachable at