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Sunday, September 30, 2018

Willie says "Vote 'Em Out!"

by digby

Rallies aren't really an indicator of anything. And having a Texas living legend headlining in Austin can't go wrong. Still, this is pretty impressive:

When 85-year-old country music legend Willie Nelson joined 46-year-old Texas Democratic Senate candidate Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) on stage Saturday night in Austin, they were greeted by more than 50,000 people, according to O’Rourke’s campaign. Other estimates cite roughly 55,000 in attendance. The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday those kind of numbers would make it the largest rally for a single candidate since “at least” the 2016 presidential campaign. Nelson even debuted a new song at the rally, “Vote ‘Em Out,” which he ended with a shout out to the Democratic candidate: “Thank you Beto, all the way buddy!”

Trumpie's gonna be mad... certainly, he must have had the yugest rallies, right? He must've. It can't be true.


Do You Have Photos From Kavanaugh's High School or College Years?

by Spocko

If you have photos from the area and time in question, check your files. Your photos could change the course of US history.

In his opening statement Brett Kavanaugh said,
"Dr. Ford’s allegation stems from a party that she alleges occurred during the summer of 1982. Thirty-six years ago. I was 17 years old. Between my junior and senior years of high school at Georgetown Prep, a rigorous all-boys Catholic Jesuit high school in Rockville, Md. When my friends and I spent time together at parties on weekends, it was usually with friends from nearby Catholic all-girl high schools: Stone Ridge, Holy Child, Visitation, Immaculata, Holy Cross.
Dr. Ford did not attend one of those schools. She attended an independent private school named Holton-Arms and she was a year behind me. She and I did not travel in the same social circles. It’s possible we met at some point at some events, although I do not recall that. "  (Transcript)

The White House has limited the scope of the FBI's investigation, but regular people can still look and submit hard evidence to the FBI. Kavanaugh mentions the schools he said he hung out with, but that doesn't mean boys or girls from other schools didn't attend their parties. If you lived in that area during that time and took photos check your files.

The "Renate Alumni" from a scan of the Georgetown Prep Yearbook by Washington Monthly
Photo collage by Spocko based on my photo envelopes from the 1980's

I was the head photographer of my high school yearbook. In those days not everyone had a camera. Film and prints cost money. But people still took thousands of photos of other high school events. Events that didn't show up in the year book.  I know they exist because I worked in a photo lab at that time.

I remember the smell of stop bath and fixer as rolls of color negatives came out of the machine.  I saw women working for hours a day in dark rooms to print out batches of 12, 24 or 36 photos. They printed photos of birthday parties. Dances. Keggers. Graduations and drunken parties at the beach.

I only put some of my photos in a scrapbook. Until a few years ago mine were in my parent's linen closet on the shelf behind the Christmas decorations.  They were in gold and black envelopes reminding people IMPORTANT! PLEASE SAVE THESE NEGATIVES FOR FUTURE USE and "We Use Kodak Paper!"  The dates of development were printed on the back of photos.

I don't have a calendar to identify all the people in my photos, but I can ask others if they can fill in my memory blanks.

Photos of a 17-year old at a party holding a beer can isn't proof the person holding it was drunk.
Unless there is video, it's not even hard evidence the person actually drank the beer. But...

For the yearbook staff identification of who was in the photos was very important. Screwing up something in the yearbook was a BFD because the high school yearbook became the main "permanent record" that other people saw. 

(By The Way, BFD is short for Big Fucking Deal. As far as I know it is not a drinking game nor is it short for "Brett Farts Daily" although I suppose someone could lie about that definition if they are a lying liar. )
In high school I was the only photographer with a wide-angle lens, so I took almost all of the team and group photos. I took photos of every group from the nine members of the chess club to the 39 members of the JV football team.

I would turn in my photos with the list of names I got of the people in the club or team to the person in charge of the clubs or sports section who would confirm them.

Do photos of Brett Kavanaugh where he's got his arms around a woman he now says he doesn't know mean he is a liar?  Not necessarily. I can look at old photos and not remember the name of people from 36 years ago. But other people in and around the the photo might remember, because perhaps for them that party was a BFD.

Photos aren't perfect evidence. They can only show what was captured on film and context is still important. But even if the photographer was later blackout drunk, the photo still exists.

Will the "men of conscience" from Georgetown Prep in 1982 come forward?

I went to the web pages of the schools Kavanaugh mentioned. Holton-Arms had a brilliant letter by Susanna A. Jones, the Head of School, about what they are doing now to help their girls. It is through, insightful and extensive "How can we help our young people avoid becoming victims or perpetrators of sexual assault, or if they do, feel empowered to seek support?"

In contrast, Georgetown Prep's statement was defensive and used the, "other schools have problems too!" whine line of reasoning.
The image that has been presented on social media and in various news outlets depicts recklessness, illegal conduct, and lack of respect for persons. Worse, many blame these faults on institutional indifference.
But the temptations, and the failings, presented in these stories are not unique to Georgetown Prep. The problems and abuses of alcohol and drugs, sexual assault and misconduct, emotional and physical violence toward others are real; educators at every institution of primary, secondary, or higher learning in our nation face these problems every day. 
What I want to know is how this institution will deal with the current situation. Will they help the FBI and provide their own records? Will they open up the old yearbook archives? Or will they stonewall? They state they are dedicated to the mission of "forming men of conscience, competence, courage, and compassion; men of faith and men for others." how will they act now?

And my big question: Will these "men of conscience" from Georgetown Prep circa 1982 come forward? Does being a "man for others" include telling the truth about what happened to girls from local girl's schools during summer parties?

This isn't just about Kavanaugh and what he says anymore, it's also about his friends and associates from that time period. Will they provide evidence of what they know happened and when it happened? Or will they cover their own mouths? 

The Georgetown Prep statement ends with Latin: Ad majorem Dei gloriam. "To the greater glory of God." If the boys from that time have evidence of crimes that were committed, will they come forward?  If not, which god are they serving?


The Republican Kavanaugh Strategy in a Nutshell 

by tristero

Here's the Republican strategy in a nutshell re: Kavanaugh

#1 Put Blasey Ford in quarantine - Never talk directly to her, only through a "female assistant." Say she's compelling, pleasing, and attractive. Ignore her charges.

#2 Double down on slamming every Democrat in sight for "partisanship." It works for the deplorable members in Trump's base. What normal people see as out-of-control violent rage, they see as strength.

#3 Create a sham hearing to make sure nothing new comes out – It's in the bag; they can afford a week's delay. And if Kavanaugh goes into freefall, they'll just force through someone else.

#4 If anyone notices it's a sham, just repeat "Hey, you asked for a hearing, we gave you a hearing, you're just playing politics!" This makes optimal use of a media addicted to reporting "both sides" no matter how ridiculously irresponsible one of the "sides" behaves.

#5 Calculate (correctly) that the leading Democrats will either stop talking about how bad Kavanaugh is or if they do, they'll be mostly ignored by the media. As of this writing, there is exactly one article on the main pages of the online media that I regularly check about a Democratic congress-person discussing the hearing (Klobuchar on CNN) .

#6 Calculate (correctly) that the media will give Trump free publicity for his anti-Democratic antics. Hey, it boosts ratings and circulation.

#6 While the country is distracted by this insane circus, continue furiously to advance Trumpism.

The strategy is working beautifully.
KellyAnne and the presumption of innocence

by digby

She said this to Jake Tapper:
“I’m a victim of sexual assault. I don’t expect Judge Kavanaugh or Jake Tapper or Jeff Flake or anybody to be held responsible for that. You have to be responsible for your own conduct. This is not Bill Cosby. Those comparisons on your network are a disgrace and the anchor should’ve called them out.”

Is she saying that Blasey Ford is responsible for her own conduct? That she shouldn't have been at the party? Or is it that her conduct is dishonest for political purposes. I don't know, but it's pretty awful.

Kellyanne Conway on CNN says people ask her how she talks to her daughters about all this, and her feeling is: "How do I talk to my almost 14-year-old son? This is Judge Kavanaugh now. It could be anybody by next week. Respectfully, it could be any man in any position now."
"Respectfully?"  Bullshit.

Statistics show that her daughters are far more likely to be sexually assaulted than her son is to be falsely accused. But for millennia society's view of this is that it's far more important than no man should have to even endure this possibility while women who actually are assaulted and abused must make the calculation that if they report, in he said/she said situation, as most assault are, the presumption goes to the man who denies it. Even in cases where there is evidence of violence, the new explanation is that the women asked for "rough sex" and she is required to prove that she is not a woman who likes such things. Most women don't report and for good reason, even now that the laws no longer allow her own sexual history to be part of the evidence defending the accused.

I'm a big believer in the presumption of innocence as a legal concept. It should be up to the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that someone has committed a crime. That legal standard has nothing to do with Brett Kavanaugh's situation, of course. He's not on trial. This is an employment situation, much like all the other situations in which powerful men have been required to account for their behavior toward women. The bar for the Supreme Court is supposed to be high. It's one of the most powerful jobs in the world with a guarantee of lifetime employment.

The problem is that when it comes to women's bodily autonomy, the law is inadequate to defend it and society is muddled and confused, at best. Anti-abortion arguments pit the life of a woman against a potential life that is growing within her own body and refuses to even accept that her life, her decision, can take precedence even in the earliest stages. A woman's right to control her body and her reproduction must come second.  With rape, unless she can prove that she was raped or otherwise assaulted, her knowledge of what happened cannot be given any more weight than the evidence she can bring to the table. Her bodily integrity can, therefore, be violated without consequence.

I don't have all the answers to these complicated questions. But I do know that it's long past time we recognized that our system and frankly, our way of thinking, is inadequately serving half the human population. I don't want innocent men to be accused or punished for crimes they did not commit. (Again, being denied a promotion to the Supreme Court, particularly after pitching a tantrum worthy of a 5 year old on national TV is not such a situation. And false accusations are very rare.)

But until we deal with this inequity in our legal system and society at large, what we now have cannot be called justice in any real sense of the word.

Is he just addled or psychopathic?

by digby

Trump's addled hypocrisy and intellectual limitations are often illustrated by his past tweets.  There's even a meme called #theresalwaysatweet.

I've never seen it happen within the same 24 hour period before though. Last night:


The White has told the media that the president's instructions do not supersede the White House instructions.

Hookay. This is working out just great.


We're Forgetting A Few Things 

by tristero

We're wrong about Kavanaugh, they're saying. Forget those seamy, salacious charges. This is a man with truly extensive qualifications, an extremely hard and dedicated worker.

Man, is he ever.

Brett Kavanaugh enthusiastically will seize any opportunity that presents itself to tout coat hanger abortions. As the record shows, he's gone quite a distance out of his way to make life miserable for women who want a safe, legal abortion.

Kavanaugh is also a highly partisan and relentlessly ruthless far right political operative. He stopped at nothing in his attempts to destroy at least one Democratic president. Even though a mere fraction of the documents regarding his political hit jobs have been made public, it is clear that this is a man who's worked day and night for years to oppose even the semblance of moderation in American politics.

He also intends to keep those political hits coming: in his latest appearance, he openly threatened to take personal revenge on his Democratic opponents - he said they "sowed the wind for decades to come" — once he's on the Supreme Court. I have no doubt he'll work at least as hard as Clarence Thomas has at being vindictive. (Note to media: why hasn't Kavanaugh's blatant threat against Democrats received the appalled attention it clearly deserves?)

Kavanaugh has also worked hard to support the weirdest delusions of the Republican base: he helped push a bizarre conspiracy theory regarding the death of a presidential counsel — a theory with no basis whatsoever in consensual reality.

Kavanaugh has also signaled through his writings and behavior that once he is on the Supreme Court, he will do everything in his power to ensure that Donald Trump and his cronies in the White House will be shielded from accountability to the law.

Let's not forget any of his many achievements. Let's not forget how incredibly hard Kavanaugh worked throughout his career to harm women with his legal decisions and debase our politics with his partisanship.

In addition, Kavanaugh attacked Blasey Ford, he's a sloppy, belligerent drunk and a perjurer. He's also  insufferably elitist, entitled, and barely able to contain his rage even when sober. In and of themselves, these behaviors and character flaws all disqualify him from sitting on the Supreme Court.

But even if he was the sweetest, kindest, gentlest, and most humble human being on earth, his extremist views and hyper-partisan career demonstrate profound bias, the very antithesis of judicial balance.

In short, while his bad character should be enough, there is far more than that to disqualify him. Brett Kavanaugh is a uniquely awful choice for the Supreme Court.
They fell in love and it was so darned sweet

by digby

Awwww. It reminds me of the speech Roosevelt gave in 39 about his crush on the man with the adorable mustache, Adolph Hitler. That was nothing to the fireside chat when he help Stalin lovingly in his arms as he quietly hummed "Isn't It Romantic?" in his ear.  So beautiful. The whole world sighed when Jimmy Carter sent Pol Pot a dozen roses on Valentine's Day with a card that said "Will U Be Mine?"  And George W Bush's sexy mix tapes for Saddam Hussein were as hot as it gets. 

This is perfectly normal kids. When you hear about president's "cozying up to dictators" this is what they're talking about. It's sweet. 



The "Hey, WATCH THIS!!" administration

by Tom Sullivan

"He absolutely can do it, constitutionally, but it is not wise.”
— David Rivkin, a conservative constitutional lawyer for the George H.W. Bush and Reagan administrations

Legal scholars, including conservative ones, view with alarm the many institutional norms our sitting president already has shredded. Taking a flamethrower to the place, as Al Pacino raged in one of his roles, is precisely what many among the unshakable #MAGA base wanted. If they (and we) are lucky, there will be time to regret their impulses later. It is as if "Hey, WATCH THIS!!" became a governing philosophy. It will make for an eye-opening section in political science.

The Washington Post's Ellen Nakashima examines the corrosive effects of the Trump presidency on the presidency itself. Has granted pardons (Sheriff Joe Arpaio's, for example) to political allies without consultation with the Office of the Pardon Attorney. He has revoked the security clearance of critics (former CIA director John Brennan; others are on Trump's to-do-to list). This month, Trump declassified and released law enforcement material connected with special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation:

Constitutionally, such actions are defensible. But the president is “eviscerating precedent and procedure,” said David Rivkin, a conservative constitutional lawyer who was an attorney in the George H.W. Bush and Reagan administrations.

“As far as the mechanics of government are concerned, it is creating anger and disharmony on both the side of the political masters and the career people,” he said. “It breeds resistance. It’s negative synergy.”

Trump’s un­or­tho­dox approach — taking actions, in many cases, without consulting key advisers — may bring a much-needed shake-up to the federal bureaucracy, some conservative scholars say. But others say it not only risks eroding the norms of government, but also may lead Congress and the courts to erect guardrails that constrain the presidency, leaching it of the flexibility integral to its effectiveness.
Some of Trump's actions may have the salutary effect of sweeping out the bureaucratic cobwebs that periodically need sweeping out, such as the way we over-classify documents and issue near-permanent security clearances:
“Shouldn’t we look, every couple of administrations, at least, at the structure of the executive bureaucracy and ask ourselves, ‘Is it working the way it should work?’ ” said Charles Kesler, a government professor at Claremont McKenna College.
But the cavalier manner in which Trump flexes his Article II powers "creates an opportunity for mischief, if not maliciousness,” says Paul Rosenzweig, a George W. Bush administration veteran now a senior fellow at the R Street Institute, a "center right" think tank.

Stripping Brennan's security clearance and issuing a pardon to Arpaio, says David Rivkin, a conservative constitutional lawyer for the George H.W. Bush and Reagan administrations, "sets up a pernicious dynamic. He absolutely can do it, constitutionally, but it is not wise.”

Trump is nothing if not unwise.

NBC and the Wall Street Journal reported late Saturday "the White House counsel’s office has given the FBI a list of witnesses they are permitted to interview." That list omitted investigation of claims by Julie Swetnick that Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh engaged in sexual misconduct at parties as a student at Georgetown Preparatory School.

Fiddling about with the inner workings of the Justice Department would be another norm-breaking Trump action corrosive to the rule of law.

NBC amended its story after Trump denied it Saturday night. You can trust him, can't you?

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Saturday, September 29, 2018

If only you believe in miracles

by digby

RIP Marty Balin

He was underrated as a lead singer for Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship because Grace Slick was so dynamic. But he was one of the greats who created that 60s psychedelic sound.

Here's the Rolling Stone obit. 

One of my very favorite love songs ever:

The lack of self-awareness is staggering

by digby

Senate Republicans are furious at what they see as a campaign to deny Trump and Kavanaugh in order to push the confirmation process past the midterm elections and, if they win the Senate, keep the seat open until the next presidential election.

When I heard a nearly hysterical Lindsey Graham self-righteously make this accusation and then declare that he had voted to confirm Sotomayor and Kagan I nearly threw my laptop on the floor. Leaving out the name Merrick Garland and that Neil Gorsuch was confirmed without much resistance from Democrats was too much.

I guess that's what they mean by "just plowing through."

That quote above is from an article about how Washington is broken. Apparently, both sides are equally to blame. Such a shame. If only the Democrats would continue to take mountains of shit and help Donald Trump and his cynical, nihilist Republican party destroy the country everything would be ok. Damn them...

He wasn't legal and he knows it

by digby

He lied a lot. But this one really gets me:

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has repeatedly said that he was legally allowed to consume beer as a prep school senior in Maryland. In fact, he was never legal in high school because the state’s drinking age increased to 21 at the end of his junior year, while he was still 17.

Kavanaugh’s drinking has come under intense scrutiny after California professor Christine Blasey Ford alleged that a heavily intoxicated Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her while they were both teenagers at a Maryland house party during the summer of 1982.

The legal age in that state was raised to 21 on July 1, 1982; Kavanaugh did not turn 18 until Feb. 12, 1983.

In a Fox News interview on Monday, Kavanaugh said, “Yes, there were parties. And the drinking age was 18. And yes, the seniors were legal.”

In testimony Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, he said all of his comments during the Fox interview were accurate and could be made part of the record.

Pressed at the hearing about his drinking habits in high school, he again claimed he had not broken the law.

“Yes we drank beer, my friends and I, boys and girls. Yes, we drank beer. I liked beer. I still like beer,” he said. “The drinking age as I noted was 18, so the seniors were legal. Senior year in high school, people were legal to drink.”

There is just no way he wouldn't have known he was drinking illegally in high school. Somebody had to have had a fake ID and he probably had one too. It's just not something anyone would be unaware of.

I understand why a federal appeals court judge trying to be confirmed for a Supreme Court seat wouldn't want to admit that he'd ever broken any laws. For all we know, he's lied about this in all of his FBI background checks in the past and would, therefore, have also committed perjury. Not a good look to be sure.

But it's simply not believable in any way that he didn't know he was drinking illegally during High School. I'd guess the majority of people in this country broke tht law. But we don't lie about it 35 years later. That's weird. Especially for a man who claims to have been a choir boy.

There are many reasons why this man is as unfit for the Supreme Curt as Donald Trump is unfit for the White House, not the least of which is the fact that he's credibly accused of sexual assault. He's a partisan political operative who pretty much admitted it in the hearing on Thursday and made it clear that he planned to wreak revenge on the Democrats with his "reap the whirlwind" threat if he gets on the court.

But like Donald Trump he seems to be the kind of congenital liar who does it even in situations where it's easily disproved, basically falling back on the "you can believe me or you can believe your eyes" challenge.

Nobody on the planet has thinner skin than a Trump voter

by digby

Honestly, these jokes are very mild:

More than a dozen fans walked out of Wanda Sykes' show at Count Basie Center for the Arts Thursday, after the comedian opened with a series of jokes about President Donald Trump.

Sykes began her set poking fun at Trump's assertion that world leaders at his recent United Nations address were laughing with him, not at him. (If that was the case, "What was the joke he told?" Sykes quipped).

She also joked that, while other presidents seemed to have aged at a faster-than-typical rate while in office, the general public seemed to be aging more quickly during Trump's administration. Trump hadn't aged a bit, Sykes deadpanned.

A few minutes after the show began, some attendees began heckling the comedian.

"Do some comedy!" one attendee shouted.

"Too political!" another yelled from the crowd.

Sykes, a frequent Trump critic, paused briefly to ask what displeased attendees had expected to see at her show, and continued with her set.

Attendees said they believed one of the hecklers and his party were removed from the theater by staff. A few said they walked out because they thought it was unfair the heckler had been asked to leave.

The walkout erupted in the theater lobby with yelling and heated arguments as attendees turned against staff and against each other.

I love how they can't admit they're Trump voters. But hey, being a lying jerk is definitional for these people.

And to think they call liberals snowflakes ...

They're just plowing through

by digby

If you wonder how the Republicans got themselves into this Kavanaugh mess, this gives you a good idea. In a nutshell, they don't give a damn about women, the truth, or anything but their own power:

Imagine if Brett Kavanaugh had offered his emotional, tearful, you-ruined-my-life opening speech to the Judiciary Committee — and then called for a quick FBI probe to clear his name and perhaps find the true assailant. He would have looked confident, humble, even a tad heroic, given the president who nominated him opposed the FBI probe.

Well, he and Republicans had an epic failure of imagination: Instead, they were forced reluctantly and publicly into what should have been a fairly easy-to-anticipate moderate compromise: agree to a vote after a quick FBI probe.

Instead of looking hungry for truth, Kavanaugh heads into the week looking fearful of findings.

There's a reason for this miscalculation:

Republicans, from the earliest days of the allegations, were overly confident they could just jam this through, several people involved the process tell us.

They thought he would be better defending himself — and that Dr. Ford would seem less credible.

Republicans treated this like a bare-knuckles political fight. They calculated a Fox News appearance, a Trump endorsement, a headstrong Mitch McConnell, a fired-up base, a fast vote would hold the party together.
They're such serious statemen aren't they? It's so reassuring that such people are running the country.

But as this points out, they had good reason to assume that they would win a bare-knuckled fight. If you don't care about the legitimacy of the court then that's really all it comes down to. And since they have completely given up on the legitimacy of the presidency and even their own institution, it follows that the court would be no different. These are people who don't even care that a corrupt buffoon is leading their party and that he was installed in the presidency with the help of a foreign adversary. Why would they care about this?

The Democrats don't have the votes. Why would they have ever thought that Jeff Flake of all people would step up?


The Difference Between Ford and Kavanaugh 

by tristero

This is an extraordinary chart, developed by Alvin Chang and others at Vox. Every line represents a question and answer from Thursday's infamous hearings of Ford and Kavanaugh. If the witness answered directly, the line is coded blue. If the witness tried to dodge the question, the answer was coded red. If you go to the article, you can click on each line and read the actual response from the transcript.

What the chart illustrates is how forthright Ford and Kavanaugh were. From the article:
[T]here was a striking difference in the content of their words. Both Ford and Kavanaugh fielded questions from senators and the prosecutor hired by Republicans, Rachel Mitchell. 
But only Ford made an effort to answer every single question. 
Kavanaugh actively dodged questions. He often repeated the same non-answer over and over. Other times, he insisted on answering a question with “context” — which inevitably was a long story about his childhood — but never actually answered the question.

Kavanaugh is not the kind of person anyone should want on the Supreme Court. But re: Vox, Chang and company: this is precisely the kind of clever, clear, and beautiful representation of data the world needs more of.

There Really Are Two Sides Here

by tristero

Going forward, I sincerely believe there are two very different, very valid sides to the Kavanaugh affair. And good arguments can be made for both points of view:

On the one hand, should Kavanaugh simply be required to withdraw from Supreme Court consideration, give up his judgeship, and be disbarred?

On the other, in addition to all of the above, should Kavanaugh also (1) be required to pay restitution to Dr Blasey Ford and the other women he assaulted; and (2) reimburse this country's government for the monumental expenditure of resources on his disgraceful hearings?

I really can see both points of view. Personally, I'd be willing to settle for just removing Kavanaugh permanently from the American justice system. But others may think that's not enough, and I respect their point of view.

What is not reasonable is the phony "other side," namely for Kavanaugh — who has lied many times now — to have the opportunity to spend even one more day, let alone a week, dragging this country's political discourse through his and Trump's mud. As for confirmation? After all his lies and his partisan threats? Please.

It is a testament to how broken our country has become that after yesterday's hearings, a one-week investigation of his lies is the only politically acceptable alternative.

Don't get me wrong. I'm glad that brakes were applied to this travesty. But as talented as some may think he is, a man with Kavanaugh's obvious character flaws should never have been nominated. Once his extremism, his lies, and his political thuggishness had become known, he should have withdrawn. That he continues to be in our face even after credible evidence of sexual assault came out — and that it is still likely he will be confirmed — is utterly deplorable.

I yield my time

by Tom Sullivan

Maria Gallagher and Ana Maria Archila cornered Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake in an elevator (video) Friday morning. (Image via @mgallagher822 )

Brian Williams opened his show Friday night, saying, “It appears that in the last 24 hours, three women may have changed the course of history. They are Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, Ana Maria Archila and Maria Gallagher.” (Video at link.)

I yield my time.

Days after November 8, 2016, the answering machine at the local Democratic Party office was overflowing with calls from distraught women. This week was a replay.

I yield time to my colleagues and the women who contacted them this week. First, a Facebook post Friday from the chair of our local Democratic committee:
Our headquarters is being overloaded with calls and drop-in visits from women who have never been involved in politics, and in the past two days have decided they want to do something for this election.

We're scheduling an open house on Sunday where people can come in and find a way to be involved - or just come and talk to other people who are being impacted by the news.
Our experience was not unique. In a followup note about the open house from another officer:
Today, at Headquarters, we have had multiple women show up, some in tears, wanting to mobilize due to the events of yesterday. We are all so devastated by the immediate result of the hearings but we cannot give up.

We will listen, help them get resources, present opportunities for action. BE THERE FOR THEM.
Someone noted in my Twitter feed Friday that during the January 2017 Women's March, even with millions in the streets, there were no cops in riot gear. Lavanya Ramanathan saw it as a sign of white privilege, and in large part it was. Perhaps also, the tweet countered, it was because authorities simply don't take women seriously.

If Senate Republicans vote Brett Kavanaugh onto the U.S. Supreme Court, authorities might need the riot gear.

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Friday, September 28, 2018

Friday Night Soother

by digby

Kittens. We need some kittens. God do we ever need kittens.

I have a local shelter called the Abbott Kitty Lounge that rescues pregnant mothers and kittens. They are saints, well worth contributing to.

From the live feed of a current litter

9 Ways You Can Help Stop Kavanaugh's Appointment

By Spocko

One of the things I know about fighting people and organizations with real power is the need to have multiple strategies and tactics working at the same time.

The reason is that you can't count on just a single angle to work. The other side isn't stupid. They know how to fight back. What looked like a sure thing can be destroyed in ways you don't expect.

We must keep using multiple tactics. I tell people to look at their own skill sets and think, "How can I help in a way that is unique to me?"  

Here are some groups of people with areas they can help:

1) Lawyers: What kind of lawsuits can be filed? Were there laws broken people should know about?
2) Journalists: What investigation angle can you do?
3) Politicians: What does it take to start impeachment hearings?
4) Accountants: Is there a financial angle to expose that people should know about?
5) Activists: Is there something new for the media to see?
6) Researchers: What hard evidence can you bring to investigators?
7) Law enforcement: Do you have records of arrests that others don't know about?

Good strategies allow your tactical moves to build on each other. It's true that some tactics help, and others hurt. But we have to use multiple tactics because it's hard to know which will work.

"But I'm not anyone special Spocko, I'm just a regular Jane or Joe." So ask yourself:
8) Do I have access to information that others don't?
9) Do I have a skill or position that will allow others to be more effective?

Here are two examples for regular folks like you and me:

Let's say, for example you work in HR, payroll or IT for a retail store. What can you do? Remember when Dr. Ford wanted to know when Mark Judge worked at Safeway? Maybe your retail store is Safeway! This weekend you can be ready to provide the FBI with Mark Judge's official employment records AND do it in a way that follows all the corporate HR guidelines to the letter so it is official hard copy evidence.

Did you live in the area in question and had a camera in 1982? Maybe you took photos of a group of boys and girls posing together in 1982 who say now they didn't know each other. Check your files!

From the FBI new employee's page. Note the core values poster.
I was a photographer for my yearbook. I have hundreds of photos that I developed but never published. Maybe the people who worked on the yearbooks in and around the area have photos for the FBI. (Here is a link to contact them.) Or get them to the media. Check your files!

A quick word of caution.There will be evidence that looks like it will help Dr. Ford, and it will turn out to be faked. 

One of the techniques of propaganda and "fake news" is to put out something that LOOKS like the perfect thing you want to see. People will forward it everywhere, then it will be shown as fake.  Remember the "kerning" of the letter about George W Bush from the Texas Air National Guard?

During the Bush-era people knew that real evidence existed, so they put out the evidence in a way that would discredit where it came from and the person who brought it forth. They sometimes use a sophisticated technique that combines fake evidence with real evidence to discredit everything. "If this part is fake, how can I trust all the other parts?"

Don't get suckered. ALWAYS ask for a full and complete investigation before you trust something. 
  • Think like a good journalist. "Are there multiple sources?"
  • Think like a good prosecutor. "What is the credibility of the witness?"
  • Think like a good cop. "Is there a chain of custody of the evidence?"
Keep working on this. You never know which one of the snowflakes will be the one that breaks the tree branch, but if the snow stops the bough might never break.

Go snowflakes!

And the Carnage Continues in the Shadows 

by tristero

Histrionic political theater hides monstrous behavior. Here's just one thing that happened that would be — and should be — a major scandal:
The Environmental Protection Agency plans to dissolve its Office of the Science Advisor, a senior post that was created to counsel the E.P.A. administrator on the scientific research underpinning health and environmental regulations, according to a person familiar with the agency’s plans. The person spoke anonymously because the decision had not yet been made public.
The science adviser works across the agency to ensure that the highest quality science is integrated into the agency’s policies and decisions, according to the E.P.A.’s website. The move is the latest among several steps taken by the Trump administration that appear to have diminished the role of scientific research in policymaking while the administration pursues an agenda of rolling back regulations.
You read that right. Trump's EPA is eliminating the office that advises the head of the EPA on scientific facts. They just get in the way.

Like I said, monstrous behavior hides in the shadows of histrionics. And don't get me started on those poor children who are still separated from their parents. And it's being reported that "fewer than" 200 children remain separated — like that's some kind of good thing. Clearly, none of the reporters or judges had their children ripped from them and placed in cages.

Gag Me With A Spoon 

by tristero

Trump today:
Trump and the White House have been steadfast in their support of Kavanaugh, who has denied all allegations of sexual misconduct. Trump said he has not thought of a replacement for Kavanaugh "even a little bit." 
But he also said Ford "looked like a very fine woman" during her testimony. 
"It was an incredible moment, I think, in the history of our country," He said. "But certainly she was a very credible witness. She was very good in many respects."
These obscenely cynical comments from Trump should fool no one by now. But they're being reported without context, which is equally obscene. Let's provide some now. This is the actual way Donald Trump talks about women:
Trump slammed [Fox News host Megyn] Kelly, saying her questions were "ridiculous" and "off-base." 
"You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes," Trump told CNN's Don Lemon on Friday night. "Blood coming out of her wherever."
And I can easily find more sick, twisted things he's said about women.  So why is Trump pretending to be magnanimous to Blasey Ford? Two possibilities:

Either the fix is in for Kavanaugh to get confirmed or he's cutting Kavanaugh loose so he can nominate another right wing lunatic... just one who can hold his liquor better. If there's a third possibility, I can't think of one.

by digby

I did this fun podcast today with John Aravosis and Cliff Schecter. All about Kav and the crazy angry wingnuts....

Check it out ... it was tons of fun.

And subscribe.

They get really good people (not saying I'm one of them, but anyway.)

"She has a temper. She has an attitude. She could come across as hubristic in the hearings, as arrogant. And so she could Bork herself"

by digby

Those spittle flecked tirades reminded me of this from a few years back:

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

That Crazy Beeyotch

by digby

Just in case anyone's still wondering if that TNR article had in any influence:

At the Heritage Foundation, Manny Miranda floated the theory that Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor could sink her own nomination by being overly firey and combative, like President Ronald Reagan’s defeated nominee Robert Bork.

Sam Alito — soft-spoken. John Roberts — affable and soft-spoken. Sanda Day O’Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter, all of them, soft-spoken. This nominee’s more like Judge Bork. She has a temper. She has an attitude. She could come across as hubristic in the hearings, as arrogant. And so she could Bork herself. It’s very possible.

I asked Miranda about the basis of this theory after the luncheon. “I’ve read Jeff Rosen’s piece ["The Case Against Sotomayor"],” he said, “and that’s what I’m going on. I haven’t met the lady.” He added this to “what I’ve heard from practitioners on the second circuit, and they don’t like her” and wondered if the coming American Bar Association survey of lawyers’ opinions of Sotomayor could reflect all of this negative feedback.

“When that survey comes out, if it reflects Jeff Rosen’s article, it could be pretty explosive. I think she might want to take the committee on, to engage, in a Bork-like fashion.

Yeah, that didn't happen:

Oh look:

The American Bar Association is calling on the Senate Judiciary Committee to halt the consideration of President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh until an FBI investigation is completed into the sexual assault allegations that have roiled his nomination.

In a strongly worded letter obtained by CNN Thursday, the organization said it is making the extraordinary request "because of the ABA's respect for the rule of law and due process under law," siding with concerns voiced by Senate Democrats since Christine Blasey Ford's decades-old allegations became public.

"The basic principles that underscore the Senate's constitutional duty of advice and consent on federal judicial nominees require nothing less than a careful examination of the accusations and facts by the FBI," said Robert Carlson, president of the organization, in a Thursday night letter addressed to Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley and ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein.

"Each appointment to our nation's Highest Court (as with all others) is simply too important to rush to a vote," Carlson wrote. "Deciding to proceed without conducting additional investigation would not only have a lasting impact on the Senate's reputation, but it will also negatively affect the great trust necessary for the American people to have in the Supreme Court."

The comments are striking because the organization gave Kavanaugh its highest rating of unanimous, "well-qualified" for the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh himself touted that rating at Thursday's emotionally-charged hearing where he denied Ford's sworn testimony that he attempted to rape her when they were teenagers.
Kavanaugh noted he was "thoroughly vetted" by the ABA.

"For 12 years, everyone who has appeared before me on the D.C. Circuit has praised my judicial temperament," Kavanaugh said Thursday. "That's why I have the unanimous, well qualified rating from the American Bar Association.

In their faces

by digby

Lindsey Graham was confronted by a different woman yesterday who said, "I was raped 8 years ago" and he replied, "I'm sorry -- call a cop" and walked away.

He also said he felt "ambushed" by the Democrats.

And then today:

Finally, single, white men from South Carolina have a voice in this country after being kept down for centuries. It's a beautiful thing.

For the record, the current congress is 81% white and 80% male. It's true that very few are "single" so maybe that's the status he feels isn't well-represented.


Kavanaugh is Trump's perfect legacy

by digby

My Salon column this morning: 

I'm not a lawyer but I would imagine that if one has a client who has been accused of sexual assault it would not be an obvious strategy to have him angrily yell and cry in red-faced fury  denying that he could ever do something so terrible. Neither would it seem to be a good idea for a man in such a position to arrogantly behave as if it's an affront that someone with his elite credentials should ever even be asked to answer to such charges. One would think that any good lawyer would want her client to present himself as a sober, thoughtful, empathetic person, willingly answering questions and submitting himself to whatever inquiries would clear his name.

But what do I know? Brett Kavanaugh, elite Yale-trained lawyer and federal district court judge nominated to the highest court in the land adopted the first strategy in his hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday breaking with every conventional notion of principled judicial temperament defending himself as if he were a Tea Party congressman appearing on Alex Jones' Info Wars. He threw away his prepared opening statement and ranted and raved for more than 40 minutes alternating between unctuous whining about the unfairness of it all and cloying sentimentality, barely holding back tears as he discussed how difficult this nomination has been for his family, which is perfectly understandable, but also choking up as he discussed his habit of calendering during high school years and remembering his buddies on the basketball team. It was, to say the least, highly emotional and very dramatic.

After having been forced to sullenly sit in silence as Dr Christine Blasey Ford gave her searing, heart-wrenching, controlled testimony that nobody on the planet could believe was contrived or inauthentic, the Republicans on the committee had been despondent, worrying that they might not "plow through this" as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had promised. She was an extremely effective witness. So, they were downright giddy about this operatic Trumpian spectacle by Judge Kavanaugh. But after Senator Dick Durbin managed to land a very effective blow by making it obvious that there was something very, very strange about the fact that the judge would not ask the White House to re-open the FBI background check process and question the witnesses whom he insisted would back up all his claims, the GOP Senators shuffled off the "female assistant" lawyer they had tasked with asking questions and went nuclear.

Senator Lindsey Graham led with a display of fiery temper that indicates he's been watching way too many Jack Nicholson movies. The wild-eyed expressions and tone of his voice showed stunningly vicious, splenetic wrath.

He was so proud of himself that he tweeted out links to his hysterical performances :

This laughable declaration by a House manager in Clinton's failed impeachment trial on behalf of one of Ken Starr's dirt-digging partisans was particularly rich:
“To my Republican colleagues, if you vote no, you’re legitimizing the most despicable thing I have seen in my time in politics,” Graham said. Then, gesturing to the Democrats: “You want this seat? I hope you never get it.”
The death of John McCain seems to have liberated him from the necessity to pretend that he is anything but a ruthlessly ambitious political hack embracing Trumpism with both arms.

Big day in the Senate. About to join @seanhannity on @FoxNews@ChickfilA to refuel! pic.twitter.com/CSvBoY2aqI
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) September 28, 2018

Kavanaugh was little better. He too launched a blatantly partisan attack which revealed a temperament and a worldview that does not belong on any court and certainly not the highest court in the land which routinely hears politically charged cases that have deep resonance in the culture and society at large. He coined a clever phrase --- "advise and consent has turned into search and destroy" --- which doesn't have quite the ring to it of Clarence Thomas' "this is nothing but a high-tech lynching."  On the other hand as angry as Thomas was during the Anita Hill hearing he never personally sank to Kavanaugh's level:

This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election, fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record. Revenge on behalf of the Clintons and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups. This is a circus. The consequences will extend long past my nomination. The consequences will be with us for decades.
It's one thing for a power-drunk politician like Graham to turn into a ferocious partisan attack dog, but Supreme Court nominees who claim they are simply "umpires calling balls and strikes" speaking in such paranoid conspiratorial terms is disqualifying all on its own. In another time, such an accusation by a man seeking a lifetime appointment to the High Court would be scandalous.

That is how a professional character assassin like Kavanaugh would see it (and would also curry favor with his patron Donald Trump) but it just isn't true. Yes, Democrats wanted to defeat him. They went after his record as hard as they could (and were thwarted by the majority at every turn.)  That's hardball politics where the stakes are very, very high.

But Ford's accusation is legitimate and important and the Republicans caterwauling about the "delay" caused by her testimony was nothing more than misdirection and silly posturing. There is no deadline and the people that held open a seat for nearly a year in order to fill it with one of their own have a lot of nerve wringing their hands over a couple of weeks. But then accusing the Republicans of hypocrisy is a fools game. They are shameless and without shame, the concept of hypocrisy is meaningless. After that hearing it's obvious that the concept of dignity and decency have finally been put out to pasture as well.

The word is that the president was ecstatic that Kavanaugh "fought back" and needless to say the fact that he behaved like a petulant child, blaming the Democrats and raging at the unfairness of everything for hours on end, was received as the tribute it was meant to be. If the Senators "plow through" and confirm him, as they probably will, in spite of credible accusations of sexual assault and repeated lying, he will be Donald Trump's perfect legacy.

Limon-cello tweeting again?

by digby

He was never in the Senate and never voted for either of them.

That's the lawyer for the president of the United States.


Rage, rage against the dying of the white male

by Tom Sullivan

“If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If the law and the facts are against you, pound the table and yell like hell.” — Carl Sandburg

Judge Brett Kavanaugh yelled like hell in protesting his innocence before the Senate Judiciary Committee. His high school friend, Mark Judge, remains in hiding. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford in her Senate testimony Thursday alleged both were in the suburban Maryland bedroom when Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at 15.

The hearing itself was bifurcated, with the mood dramatically different morning and afternoon. Ford's survivor's tale, emotional, authentic, articulate and convincing, kept the committee room and the country rapt. Holding back tears, admittedly terrified, Ford nonetheless detailed for a national audience her long-ago assault by laughing, drunken frat boys:

"I am here today not because I want to be. I am terrified. I am here because I believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me while Brett Kavanaugh and I were in high school."
She detailed the alleged attack:
"Brett groped me and tried to take off my clothes. He had a hard time, because he was very inebriated, and because I was wearing a one-piece bathing suit underneath my clothing.

"I believed he was going to rape me.

"I tried to yell for help. When I did, Brett put his hand over my mouth to stop me from yelling. This is what terrified me the most, and has had the most lasting impact on my life. It was hard for me to breathe, and I thought that Brett was accidentally going to kill me."
Asked if she could be sure her attacker was Kavanaugh after so long, Ford said, "100 percent." Kavanaugh, Donald Trump's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, denied everything. He was belligerent, tearful, evasive, combative, contemptuous of the process, and above all entitled. Asked multiple times by Democrats whether he would agree to FBI fact-finding investigation to provide a basis for the panel to get at the truth, Kavanaugh hedged again and again, irate to be questioned at all. For their part, Republican senators on the Judiciary Committee were not trying to get to the truth. They were just trying to get through the hearing. The rest was theater.

His credibility, if it is not in shreds, should be. If Kavanaugh believes himself an innocent man wronged (and he might), his affect was that of a privileged kid angry at being caught. Much like Trump himself. Kavanaugh repeatedly responded to sharp questioning about his past and heavy drinking by reciting his resume.

He attended "the legendary Five-Star Basketball Camp." In football, he played "quarterback and wide receiver." He got into Yale Law School. "That’s the number one law school in the country," Kavanaugh boasted. "I had no connections there. I got there by busting my tail in college." He has a "unanimous, well qualified rating from the American Bar Association." How dare anyone impede his elevation to the Supreme Court? Shortly after this post goes live, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a scheduled vote to send the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the floor of the Senate for a full vote on Saturday.

"This confirmation process has become a national disgrace," Kavanaugh shouted. Indeed it has.

The culture has changed since court nominee Clarence Thomas faced questioning about sexually harassing Anita Hill in 1991. The country was shaken to its core by the September 11, 2001 attacks. It abandoned its principles and sanctioned torturing prisoners. (For all we know, Kavanaugh was part of that effort by the George W. Bush White House. But those records, like Mark Judge, remain hidden.) The Great Recession precipitated by elite greed punished the weak and rewarded the powerful with more riches. The U.S. elected the first African-American president, convincing many the country had turned the page on institutional racism.

The backlash to Obama was immediate. T-party reactionaries arose supported by white billionaires among the One Percent. Christians accustomed to believing their God is God found their theological primacy challenged in an increasingly secular society, and that loss of privileged status they labeled persecution. Whites aggrieved at seeing their demographic primacy challenged by a browning America and by a movement that insists black lives matter too, float rumors of white genocide. Throughout, men accustomed to millennia of dominance in human society saw their status and power threatened. Women empowered by education and control of their reproduction now demand their share. The #MeToo movement challenges men's right to do as they please with whomever they might please themselves. That includes corrupt men like Donald Trump.

We stand at the nexus between the world that was and the world that will be, observed Eugene Robinson on MSNBC. The dying one will not let go without a fight. The privileged believe high status is theirs by birthright (or by virtue of highly superior genes, if one believes Donald Trump). The privileged rule according to race and gender. Challenged, they fight back. Viciously and loudly, as Brett Kavanaugh did through tears:
"This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election. Fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record. Revenge on behalf of the Clintons. And millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups."
Kavanaugh, the man who boasted of his judicial temperament, revealed himself as a bitter partisan. The man who crafted sexually graphic questions for Bill Clinton as a member of Ken Starr's Whitewater investigation team, can dish it out but cannot abide being on the receiving end. Don't we know he went to Georgetown Prep and Yale?

Having soiled the Oval Office, the sitting president and his enablers on Capitol Hill are determined to soil the Supreme Court by installing a partisan warrior with a past he fears being closely examined. Mark Judge, identified by Ford as the third person in the room during her assault, remains in hiding and unquestioned.

"Judge Kavanaugh, will you support an FBI investigation," Sen. Dick Durbin and other Democrats on the panel asked. Kavanaugh repeatedly refused to give a direct answer. Republicans designed the hearing as a he-said, she-said affair. There would be no independent fact-finding by career federal investigators.

With Ford's testimony out of the way, Kavanaugh's supporters on Judiciary — all of them old, white males — came out swinging too. How dare anyone question Kavanaugh's veracity (or apparent lack of it). Do you know who Brett Kavanaugh is?

Will Bunch wants us to "make no mistake" what it all means:
This was also a kind of cultural Pearl Harbor, a date — September 27, 2018 — which will live in infamy in the culture wars between a deeply entrenched patriarchy and a rising #MeToo movement of women telling their survivor stories of sexual abuse and harassment. That rising ride [sic] encouraged Dr. Ford to come forward with her long-repressed reckoning, and her courage in testifying on Thursday seemed to pay the #MeToo movement back with interest.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham's shouted tirade against the challenge to Kavanaugh will be a lasting testament to that date. His declaration of partisan war could only have been more complete if he'd fired it from The Battery in Charleston. The war that started there was also about preserving a dying social order.

* * * * * * * * *

For The Win 2018 is ready for download. Request a copy of my county-level election mechanics primer at tom.bluecentury at gmail.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Judicial Temperament

by digby

Your next Supreme Court Justice, America:

Y'Wanna Know Why They Think They Can Get Away With It? 

by tristero

After the disgraceful circus Republicans just put on (and which instantly elevated Blasey Ford to the status of a national icon), the GOP must surely be expecting to lose nearly every woman's vote (and a lot of men's, too). So why did they think they could get away with it and still stay in power?

Here's why. This is a long article on the unbelievable technical problems with our election system's equipment, much of which is very vulnerable to hacking from, say, Russia or for that matter, mere Republicans. It's worse than you could imagine.

Add that to the gerrymandering, voter suppression, and traditionally low voter turnout for midterms and they surely think there won't be too many consequences this November.

It would be very nice to prove them totally wrong.

by digby

Those are seniors at Christine Blasey Ford's high school who are there to lend support by cycling in and out of the hearing room sharing one ticket.

Let's hope they don't have to be sitting in their living rooms 27 years from now, depressed that so little has changed, like those of us who watched the Anita Hill hearings are doing today.

I don't think they will. The one thing that's changed is that one political party has opened its doors to women and they have walked through it. And women are noticing that having such political power is key to changing things.