Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

Facebook: Digby Parton

@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)

thedigbyblog at gmail
satniteflix at gmail
publius.gaius at gmail
tpostsully at gmail
Spockosbrain at gmail
Richardein at me.com


Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic

Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018 June 2018 July 2018 August 2018 September 2018


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Give the president a yuge hand

by digby

There were many low points of the 2016 campaign but this was one of the lowest:

Stormy Daniels has written a new tell-all which explains why Trump felt the necessity to reassure the country that his equipment was adequate to the task of being the sexual assaulter in chief:

She describes Trump's penis as "smaller than average" but "not freakishly small".

"He knows he has an unusual penis," Daniels writes. "It has a huge mushroom head. Like a toadstool…

"I lay there, annoyed that I was getting fucked by a guy with Yeti pubes and a dick like the mushroom character in Mario Kart...

"It may have been the least impressive sex I'd ever had, but clearly, he didn't share that opinion."

I wouldn't normally discuss the presidential penis but he is the one who brought it up.

On national television.

In a presidential debate.

And the conservative evangelicals worship the guy.

Wonkette has more on this breaking news, in the funniest way possible of course.

Horseplay and Boy Talk

by digby

Oh those crazy kids:

Read Michelle Goldberg's piece called Boys will be Supreme Court Justices.

Also, these quotes:

Judicial figures

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Trump has speculated to aides that he will be able to replace a total of four Supreme Court judges, including RBG, saying "What does she weigh? 60 pounds?"

Justice Sonia Sotomayor: Trump then claimed that the relatively recently-appointed Justice Sotomayor would be next."Her health," Trump explained. "No good. Diabetes." Sotomayor has opened up about her struggles with type-1 diabetes, but she's managed it successfully since childhood.

Political figures
Hillary Clinton: "If Hillary Clinton can't satisfy her husband what makes her think she can satisfy the country?" And of course, "She doesn't have the look. She doesn't have the stamina."

Carly Fiorina: "Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?!"

Elizabeth Warren: "Pocahontas is at it again! Goofy Elizabeth Warren, one of the least productive U.S. Senators, has a nasty mouth. Hope she is V.P. choice."

Heidi Cruz: Trump retweeted a side by side photo of Melania Trump along with an unflattering photo of Heidi Cruz, wife of Sen. Ted Cruz, with the caption, "The images are worth a thousand words."

Mika Brzezinski: "I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don't watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year's Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!"

Rosie O'Donnell: "Rosie O'Donnell is disgusting, both inside and out. If you take a look at her, she's a slob. How does she even get on television? If I were running The View, I'd fire Rosie. I'd look her right in that fat, ugly face of hers and say, 'Rosie, you're fired.'"

Megyn Kelly: "You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever." Trump also referred to her as a "bimbo."

Gail Collins claims that Donald Trump called her "dog and a liar" with "the face of a pig" when he came across an article she wrote and he disliked.

Katy Tur: Trump singled her out twice from the stages of rallies, calling her "little Katy," "a third-rate journalist" and taunting, "Katy -- you're not reporting it, Katy."

Jennifer Lin got a call from Donald Trump after writing a story on his Atlantic City businesses: "The woman said hold for Mr. Trump. And then Mr. Trump began to yell at me. He told me I had s--- for brains. He told me I worked for a s----- newspaper and said what sort of s--- was I writing. I was stunned. He hung up."

Maureen Dowd from the New York Times: "Crazy Maureen Dowd, the wacky columnist for the failing @nytimes, pretends she knows me well--wrong!"

Katarina Witt: Trump said about the German gold-medal winning Olympic ice skater, "Wonderful looking while on the ice but up close and personal, she could only be described as attractive if you like a woman with a bad complexion who is built like a linebacker."

Angelina Jolie: "I really understand beauty. And I will tell you, she's not - I do own Miss Universe. I do own Miss USA. I mean I own a lot of different things. I do understand beauty, and she's not."

Cher: "@cher--I don't wear a "rug"—it's mine. And I promise not to talk about your massive plastic surgeries that didn't work."

Arianna Huffington: "@ariannahuff is unattractive both inside and out. I fully understand why her former husband left her for a man- he made a good decision."

Goldberg pointed out on Ari Meber's show this afternoon that electing Donald Trump to the presidency and now insisting that he be allowed to install Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court with both of them being credibly accused of sexual assault is a show of brute patriarchal power. That's how it feels: "I gotcher #METOO for ya rightchea." It's kind of terrifying.

And yes, two Republican woman Senators could stop it. But there are always willing female handmaidens to power. And frankly, they're terrified too.

A couple of interesting stats o' the day

by digby

The top two reasons American believe their president withdrew security clearances is because he's a vengeful, impulsive thin-skinned jerk.

We're talking about security clearances.

Oh, and a majority of Americans are finally recognizing that the special prosecutor is proving that the president's circle is full of criminals.

Crazy foreign policy cuckoo

by digby

Our isolationist president who is totally not a warmonger:

President Donald Trump said the U.S. is looking “very seriously” at establishing a permanent military base in Poland.

Trump said at an Oval Office meeting Tuesday with Polish President Andrzej Duda that the two would discuss the possibility and “we’re looking at it very seriously.”

“Poland is willing to make a very major contribution to the United States to come in and have a presence in Poland,” Trump added. “If they’re willing to do that, it’s something we will certainly talk about.”

The Polish leader has sought additional military support from the U.S., citing the risk posed by an emboldened and expansionist Russia. Duda has asked for a permanent U.S. military base in Poland to serve as a deterrent, and his government has said it would contribute financially to the establishment of such a facility.

After Russia seized Crimea during President Barack Obama’s administration, the U.S. and NATO allies established a constant, but fluctuating, rotation of troops in Poland under the European Reassurance Initiative. Poland has argued for a permanent, costlier plan, including a headquarters.

The construction of a base would risk upsetting Russian President Vladimir Putin even as Trump has gone to lengths to warm relations with the Kremlin.

The plan may meet opposition among European allies chagrined by Poland’s turn toward autocracy, including a revamping of the judiciary that critics say will remove judges who won’t take orders from politicians.

Trump's fine with it as long as they "pay" the US to do it. In fact, he went on and on and on and on about how much money he wants people to "pay the US."

The Polish president says he wants to call the new permanent base "Fort Trump".

Trump was thrilled.

His bff Vlad may not be so happy....


God help us...


The far-right in Germany

by digby

I'm just putting this out there as a marker. When the German head of domestic intelligence turns out to be passing confidential information to a far-right party, it's time to pay attention:

The German government decided to remove Hans-Georg Maaßen, the head of the domestic intelligence agency, from his post Tuesday after he faced criticism for his reaction to anti-immigrant protests in the city of Chemnitz.
Merkel’s government faced growing pressure to dismiss Maaßen after he questioned the authenticity of video footage from the anti-immigrant riots in Chemnitz, claiming there was “no evidence” of a “manhunt” against foreigners. The chancellor had already condemned such a “manhunt” in the city, which came amid protests sparked by the killing of a German man, allegedly at the hands of at least two refugees.

German media also reported last week that Maaßen, head of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, shared confidential information with the far-right Alternative for Germany party, weeks before the information was released publicly.

Seehofer, leader of Bavaria’s Christian Social Union party, had previously voiced confidence in Maaßen’s leadership and claimed he did not “see any reason for staff changes.” But the Social Democrats, partners in Merkel’s coalition government, and the opposition Greens called for his dismissal.

He's keeping a job as interior minister. I assume this is because he has political support that requires such a concession.

What could go wrong?

No witnesses

by digby

So the Republicans are going to limit the hearing to a professinal lawyer and character assassin who's been before a Senate hearing dozens of times and a woman who has no such experience for one big moment and then ... nothing? They aren't going to call any of the witnesses, including the alleged "character witness" who the victim claims took part in the assault and has confessed to being a blackout drunk?

How about the victim's therapist or the many people she told before Kavanaugh became a Supreme Court nominee? No?

If the Republicans think they can railroad this woman by hauling her before their tribunal of old white men and then confirm Kavanaugh anyway on the basis of he said-she said, they must have decided they are losing the Senate anyway so they might as well go out in a blaze of misogynist glory.

I guess they have also decided that they only need white, conservative men to vote for them ever again. There are a lot of those guys, to be sure. But there aren't enough. And their numbers are suffering tremendous shrinkage....

Dear Michael Bloomberg 

by tristero

Dear Michael Bloomberg,

I want to sincerely thank you for all the many things you're doing to help Democrats win this November. I especially want to thank you for the enormous donations you're giving to the party and its candidates, especially for the Southern California races. It is all very much appreciated and I'm not the only one who says so.

I believe the party owes you a great deal for your generosity and passion. So, when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez clinches the Democratic nomination for president in 2020, I will urge her to consider you as her Vice Presidential running mate.

Please don't misunderstand: I don't think you should be her VP. I can't forget how shamefully you treated protestors during the NY Republican Convention, your elitism, and all your sops to Big Biz. More generally, this country does not need more rich men in high office. Nevertheless, I do think, given all you're doing this year, you deserve to be considered.

Please keep those donations coming!

Much love,


Un-gerrymandering starts in 2018

by Tom Sullivan

Chart via NCSL.

You can't win if you don't show up to play. It's a message both for party muckety-mucks and armchair activists whose focus is always on D.C. A pair of stories in Politico address that this morning.

In California's Central Valley, Democrat Andrew Janz is running to unseat Trump-toadie Rep. Devin Nunes. Janz raised over $1 million online in July, exceeding the totals of Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) that month. But that won't get the moderate Democrat much attention from a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that usually warms up to moderates. Janz is pretty much on his own.

That's not so surprising. Funds and manpower are limited. The DCCC has to triage. Even still, rural areas get no respect.

Meanwhile, a handful of Democratic senators are getting behind Sister District in promoting down-ballot races and flipping state legislatures:

“Getting involved in a state race is one of the best ways you can spend your time between now and Nov. 6,” says Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in one of the videos.

Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who this past weekend was in New Hampshire as part of his ongoing exploration of a presidential run, is also part of the effort, as are Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.), who are sometimes mentioned as possible 2020 contenders.

“There are going to be hundreds, if not thousands of state legislative races all across this country that are going to be decided by 100 votes, 200 votes,” Murphy says.

This is the first time that U.S. senators have so directly jumped into the fight for statehouses.
Somebody's gotten religion and pushing back against ALEC and REDMAP. Republicans control about two-thirds of the legislative chambers in the country that will draw new federal and state districts in 2021.

The Sister District Project's focus this year is flipping legislatures in Arizona, Colorado and New Hampshire, plus holding the majority in Washington. Where that's not possible this year, gains this year in other state can make majorities achievable in 2020. Part of the strategy is for Democrat-heavy areas to lend manpower and expertise to redder districts. Nice to see they've recruited some stars to promote the effort.

* * * * * * * * *

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

Monday, September 17, 2018

These men are playing with fire

by digby

Women are getting really sick of this shit.
This piece by Rebecca Traister
about the current political #METOO moment, where it's been and where its going is a must read:

[T]the reason these men are getting so upset is that the force of female protest right now feels like it has the potential to shake our power structure to its core.

Twenty-seven years ago this fall, Anita Hill, came forward, not of her own volition, with claims that Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her when they worked together at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Thomas was confirmed to the Court nonetheless, but a wave of angry women ran for office in the wake of Hill’s treatment by the committee, and her story was crucial to establishing “sexual harassment” as a form of gender discrimination. The seeds sown during the Hill hearings have come into full flower in the past two years, as the #MeToo movement erupted following the election of a multiple accused sexual harasser, and angry women jumped into electoral contests around the country.

It’s those women who’ve been winning primaries, toppling men who’ve occupied seats of power since God was a boy. The partisan gender gap has become a chasm, a fault line splitting open under the pressure of so much rage. Based on polls going into the midterms, the gap has grown to 33 points, largely because white women — a majority of whom voted for Trump in 2016 and have supported Republicans in all but two elections since 1952 — have shifted toward backing Democrats over Republicans, 52-38; among millennials, 55 points separates women who favor Democrats and men who prefer Republicans. It’s angry women who’ve staged teachers’ strikes, who’ve knocked powerful men off their perches at television networks and in the Senate; it’s often female elected officials who’ve linked arms with the angry masses. It was Kamala Harris, whose place on the Judiciary Committee, along with Cory Booker’s, opened up after the resignation of Al Franken and the loss of Roy Moore — both sidelined by the agitations of women — who first interrupted the Kavanaugh hearings and called for an adjournment.
Harris was told that she was “out of order.”

But the challenges deemed by ideological foes to be “out of order” may be so discomfiting in part because they suggest a yearning for a new order.

The idealized vision of what this country might be was born of the virtuous, and sometimes chaotic, fury of the unrepresented. We are taught it as patriotic catechism — give me liberty or give me death; live free or die; don’t tread on me. We carve our Founders’ anger into buildings, visit their broken bells, name contemporary political factions after the temper tantrums they threw, dressed in native garb, dumping tea in a harbor. We call these events a revolution.Women’s vehement objections have been typically treated as irrational theater.

This is the anger of white men, of course. Their anger is revered, respected as the stimulus for necessary political change. Because they’ve always been the rational norm, the intellectual ideal, their dissatisfactions are assumed to be grounded in reason — not the emotional muck of femininity.

(This isn’t just in the past. Think about how the anger of white men in the Rust Belt is often treated as politically diagnostic, as a guide to their understandable frustrations: the loss of jobs and stature, the shortage of affordable health care, the scourge of drugs. Meanwhile, the Movement for Black Lives, a response to police killings of African Americans initiated by women activists, is considered by the FBI to pose a threat of “retaliatory violence” and discussed as a “hate group” by Meghan McCain.)

As nobly enraged as the Founders were at being taxed and policed by a government in which they had no voice or vote, they failed, we know, to establish a true representative democracy. Their government was one in which a minority ruled. The few cleared the field of competition by subjugating the many — the enslaved, women — and then built their economic and political power on the labor of those they’d deprived of any say in civic or social life.

But to keep minority rule in place, order must be maintained, as the honorable senator from California was peremptorily instructed. It is order, after all, that throughout our history has worked to suppress the anger of women, to discourage us from speaking it or even feeling it. And when women have gotten mad, they’ve been ignored or marginalized, laughed or blanched at, their vehement objections treated as irrational theater, inconsequential to the important matter of governing the nation. This has always been an error. Look to the start, the germinating seeds, of nearly every major social and political movement that has shaped this nation — from abolition to suffrage to labor to civil rights and LGBTQ rights to, yes, feminism — and you will find near its start the passionate dissent of women.

Read on. It's quite enlightening. She goes on to name women, one after the other after the other, who led the charge for equal rights for ... everyone. And she notes that they weren't always progressive. (I wrote about that too, some time back.) But she notes that the power of women's anger is potent, regardless of its ideology. Yet it is still disrespected:

[T]he point is not that the anger is always righteous; rather, that it is often potent — the stuff of eruptive social movements and thwarted ones — and yet to this day, it continues to be written off as loudmouthed hysteria, or the dubious ravings of pussy-hatted suburbanites with itchy Etsy trigger fingers.

In January 2017, the morning after millions crowded streets around the country (and the world) for the largest single-day political demonstration in US history, George Stephanopoulos didn’t even bring up the Women’s March on his Sunday-morning show. During a 17-minute interview with Trump spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway, he lingered on the details of the president’s inaugural-crowd size, until Conway herself addressed the giant rally against her boss. Even then, Conway had to mention the Women’s March twice before drawing a direct question from her host, who asked, 13 minutes in: “What did the president think of that march?” In Stephanopoulos’s next segment, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer noted that he’d participated in the Women’s March in his home state of New York the day before, and Stephanopoulos responded with only one question, in reference to the profanity in Madonna’s speech: “Were you comfortable with everything you heard?”

And it wasn’t just Stephanopoulos who shrugged off the political significance of this mass outpouring of female rage. On the Monday after, speaking on Morning Joe to Missouri senator Claire McCaskill, who, in discussion with Mika Brzezinski, had just detailed the marchers’ stated commitments to equal pay, women’s health care, defending Obamacare, environmental activism, and their plans to run for office and volunteer for campaigns leading to the midterms, MSNBC analyst Mark Halperin — a man who’d reported extensively on the tea party’s “huge impact on America” — asked her, with suppurating condescension, “Senator, [can I] just ask you to be a notch more specific” about how the marchers might “impact what’s going on in Washington [this week], not running for [the] school board down the road?”

The next week, protesters and public-interest lawyers, the majority of them female, flooded airports to lambaste and subvert Trump’s travel ban; women judges and a female acting attorney general obstructed his path. In the coming months, women flooded congressional phone lines and filled their representatives’ mailboxes with postcards, applying pressure that eventually helped persuade a few key Republicans to vote against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Female candidates signed up to run not just for school boards — though yeah, those too — but for all kinds of elected positions. So far this year, record numbers of women have secured nominations in state legislative, congressional, gubernatorial, and senate races, including more than a hundred teachers who entered primaries from West Virginia to Oklahoma to Arizona, states where teachers, many female, led strikes this spring.

Meanwhile, high-school students, women prominent among them, started a widespread movement for gun control, calling powerful people out on their BS and promising a revolt against a gun lobby that has held America in its grip for too long. On the opening day of the Kavanaugh hearings, it was a Women’s March leader, Linda Sarsour, who was the first to stand and yell — and she and a co-leader, Bob Bland, were among those arrested.

As for Halperin, he no longer works at MSNBC, after some of his former subordinates, joining the angry female crusade against workplace sexual harassment, accused him of pressing his penis against them.

More at the link.

That is an excerpt of Traister's new book called Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women's Anger which will be released on October 2.



I don't think Ferris Bueller ever drunkenly assaulted anyone

by digby

Watch Kavanaugh's reaction:

He knows what he was --- a spoiled, privileged, drunken, frat-boy all the way through high school and college.

A primer on right-wing character assassination

by digby

David Brock talks about how the Republicans are likely circling the wagons right now in light of what they did with Anita Hill:
Watching the news of allegations by Christine Blasey Ford of attempted rape against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh play out on cable television, millions of Americans probably feel like they've seen this movie before — but few feel that way more than me.

It was 27 years ago that law professor Anita Hill came forward with allegations of sexual harassment against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. What unfolded during the Thomas confirmation was ugly and, after a brutal attack on Hill's motives and credibility by the Republicans, Thomas was confirmed by the Senate on a narrow 52-48 vote.

Based on my own role inside the Republican attack machine at that time, I can predict that similarly hard-knuckled tactics will be used against Ford, even though the times have thankfully changed. The stakes for the organized right are just as high now as they were then: Like Thomas, Kavanaugh is a cause célèbre for the conservative movement as they seek to cement a majority on the Supreme Court for a generation.

They will defend him at any cost.

The pending Republican smear campaign cannot be tolerated. The only way to prevent it is for confirmation process to come to a halt immediately until these allegations are fully investigated by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Nothing short of that is acceptable.

If my experience during the Thomas nomination was any indication, the lengths to which Republicans will go in order to discredit Ford know no bounds, and the Anita Hill saga provides a disturbing roadmap.

Shortly after the confirmation vote, for instance, a donor approached The American Spectator — a right-wing magazine to which I was then a contributor — to underwrite an "investigation" of Hill's charges. The idea was to cleanse Clarence Thomas's tarnished reputation for the history books by destroying Anita Hill. I took on the assignment with relish, but things didn't quite work out as planned.

In my article and in a subsequent best-selling book "The Real Anita Hill," I lifted the Republican playbook against Hill (the same playbook Ford should now expect to be used against her) but I went further than Republicans were then willing to go in public.

Mine is a tawdry and cautionary tale for what the nation will now endure as Ford's allegations are fully aired in the media.

In a reference to the "nuts and sluts" defense commonly deployed by the accused in such cases, I portrayed Hill as "a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty" — a vicious and wholly unfounded smear I regret to this day having written.

But I didn't stop with Hill. There was another woman in the wings — Angela Wright — with similar allegations to Hill's that would have established a pattern of harassing behavior by Thomas. But then-Judiciary Committee chairman Joe Biden ruled that Wright's testimony, and that of two other corroborating witnesses, be suppressed.

In defending Thomas to the hilt, I used Wright's FBI file, which had been illegally leaked to me by Republican Senate staff, to depict Wright as both emotionally unstable and sexually promiscuous.

Two years later, in 1994, I was asked to review Jill Abramson and Jane Mayer's book, "Strange Justice," which reported additional credible evidence for Hill's allegations. Then on the Supreme Court, an angry and vindictive Justice Thomas leaked to me private details from a divorce proceeding of yet another accuser, Kaye Savage, to help me discredit the book.

Yet after reading the convincing account of "Strange Justice," once-stalwart defenders of Thomas who had been the trusted sources for "The Real Anita Hill" admitted to me that they always knew Thomas was guilty as charged, and that the attacks on Hill were pure naked politics.

I then realized that I had been complicit in a campaign of character assassination — and I understood that Clarence Thomas almost certainly perjured himself to gain his seat. (Years later, I wrote a private memo to Sen. Hillary Clinton laying out all this and more in a case for Thomas's impeachment).

Mine is a tawdry and cautionary tale for what the nation will now endure as Ford's allegations are fully aired in the media.

So when you hear from Republicans crying foul that this is nothing but an eleventh-hour political hit job by Democrats — as Senators Hatch and Cornyn (twice) have already begun to do — don't believe them for a minute. Both Hill and Ford demonstrated incredible fortitude and bravery in coming forward to tell their stories; neither had a prior history in party politics or an obviously political motive. And, if anything in Ford's case, the lead Democrat on the committee, Dianne Feinstein, slow-walked the allegations as Ford debated the wisdom of coming forward at all, in order to protect her.

Kavanaugh’s categorical denial of Ford's account is not credible. Until these charges are fully and fairly investigated, people need to see through all the Republican smoke and take his protestations with a heavy grain of salt. America can't afford another perjurer on the highest court in the land.

I recall my boss at the time, a super Clinton hater,  threw Brock's book "The Real Anita Hill" on my desk and sort of leaned down and whispered in my ear "she's nothing but a crazy bitch..."  (Brock apologized over 5 years ago for that book ...)

Kavanaugh is in the White House today huddling with Don McGahn. But Kavanaugh himself is likely leading his own strategy to assassinate Dr. Ford's character and ensure that she is dragged through the mud in the ugliest way possible. That's his specialty after all. He was in there with Brock's crowd of rightwing hitmen. He knows all about how it's done.

The question is whether or not we've come any farther than we were in 1994. If we get yet another one of these guys on the highest court in the land it will be yet more depressing evidence that we haven't come as far as we think...

Character witnesses

by digby

In the wake of the accusation of attempted rape against Brett Kavanaugh, the Republicans very quickly circulated a letter from 65 women who went to local all-girls high schools at the same time Kavanaugh attended his all-boys high school to testify that he never tried to rape them.

The alleged victim's classmates have now stepped up:

A group of women who went to Christine Blasey Ford’s high school are circulating a letter to show support for the woman who has alleged that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh tried to sexually assault her while they were in high school.

“We believe Dr. Blasey Ford and are grateful that she came forward to tell her story,” says a draft letter from alumnae of Holton-Arms, a private girls school in Bethesda, Maryland. “It demands a thorough and independent investigation before the Senate can reasonably vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to a lifetime seat on the nation’s highest court.”

The women also say that what Ford is alleging “is all too consistent with stories we heard and lived while attending Holton. Many of us are survivors ourselves.”

The letter is a boost of support for Ford, who has been thrust into the political spotlight and had her credibility questioned by going up against Kavanaugh and the White House. The signatories span decades at the school, both before, during and after Ford attended.

More than 200 women had signed the letter as of late Monday morning, said Sarah Burgess, a member of the class of 2005. Burgess said she and some of her schoolmates wrote the letter because hearing Ford’s story felt “personal.”

“I know that in the coming days, her story will be scrutinized, and she will be accused of lying,” Burgess said in an email. “However, I grew up hearing stories like hers, and believe her completely.”

Susanna Jones, the Holton-Arms head of school, put out a statement Sunday night in support of Ford.

“In these cases, it is imperative that all voices are heard,” Jones said. “As a school that empowers women to use their voices, we are proud of this alumna for using hers.”
Meanwhile, Kavanaugh's "character witness" Mark Judge, who wrote a tell-all book about his alcoholism and, apparently, blaming it on his father, had his own credibility challenged by his brother Michael when the book came out. Michael Judge pretty much said his brother is full of shit:

My family has had its arguments and its crises, its tragedies and its embarrassments. It has also been, thanks in no small degree to my father, a marvelously gifted and joyful family, full of laughter and imagination. Both realities exist together.

I was content to live with that truth until now, until my brother wrote his memoir. For the painful secret of Mark’s book and subsequent magazine article, the real truth that “someone who, no matter what, is responsible for,” is a very simple one. The great, insoluble problem of my family has never really been my father.

Mark claims in his book that we all lived in terror of my father’s drunken outbursts. I can only say that he is right in one thing; my family did come to fear one of its members. As another member of our family commented during one of many meetings about Mark’s behavior, “Mark went to Markland a long time ago.” He still lives there. Sadly for my mother, that still means home.

And that’s it, that’s the real problem—not alcoholism or a lousy childhood or an abusive father. Mark is a solipsist: spoiled as a child, gazing always inward, unable to recognize any pain but his own. That is why he could not come to understand or forgive my father, in the way that all adult sons must eventually understand and forgive. Mark never left home long enough to see my father not as the ogre snoring in the other room but as a human being.
It's hard to believe that such a great guy could drunkenly assault a girl in high school, isn't it?


Burn the witch! Burn her!

by digby

It looks like Breitbart found the put-away shot to take down Kavanaugh's accuser. She believes in science.

Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who claims she was physically attacked at a high school party by Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh three decades ago, has taken part in events opposing President Donald Trump, including a science march in California last year where she donned a version of the “pussy hats” worn at the January 2017 Women’s March.

Blasey Ford is cited in a San Jose Mercury News article as wearing the hat at the march, which the newspaper said was held because people were “angered by the Trump administration’s proposed cuts to research.”
“It’s a science party!” said biostatistician Christine Blasey, of Palo Alto, who will wear an elaborately knitted cap of the human brain — yarn turned into a supersized cerebral cortex — inspired by the “pussy hats” donned during the Women’s Marches. “Getting introverted people to the march — that’s huge,” [Blasey] laughed.

A photo of those hats is featured in the article and is accompanied by the caption, “Pleasanton knitter Eilene Cross made ‘brain caps’ for the upcoming March for Science, to be worn by friend Christine Blasey of Palo Alto.”

The article continued:

This is a movement of the sensible-shoe’d majority, people who carefully pack snacks, wear sunscreen and reduce their environmental footprint at the marches by buying carbon offsets from nonprofits like The Nature Conservancy.

They’re deeply worried that political leaders are ignoring scientific evidence, aren’t committed to fighting climate change and are calling for significant cuts to national science programs.

That wraps this whole ugly mess up, amirite? She's crazy.


The GOP shouldn't rely on Kavanaugh's "reputation"

by digby

My Salon column this morning:

"[Brett Kavanaugh] is not just a conservative jurist. He's not John Roberts. He's not even Neil Gorsuch. He's a Republican operative who is posing as a judge" -- Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, on Pod Save America

After the news broke on Friday about an anonymous, decades-old accusation of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Salon's Amanda Marcotte expressed little surprise at the possibility it might have happened. As she pointed out, despite all the treacly paeans to Kavanaugh the kindly "basketball dad," his jurisprudence as a federal judge was enough to show his hostility to women's rights. It wasn't much of a stretch to imagine that he might have acted upon such impulses at some point in his life.

After all, the president who nominated Kavanaugh for the high court has bragged about assaulting women and more than a dozen have come forward to say that he wasn't idly boasting when he said that. During his confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Kavanaugh seemed to be as unconcerned with those allegations as the rest of his party.

Over the weekend, Republicans circled the wagons. The anonymous accuser had named a conservative writer named Mark Judge as Kavanaugh's teenage accomplice in the assault. Judge came forward to say that he had "no recollection" of such an event saying, "It’s just absolutely nuts. I never saw Brett act that way.” That might be true, since Judge has written extensively about the wild, debauched atmosphere at the all-male prep school he and Kavanaugh attended in suburban Maryland, and admits to having been a blackout drunk during that period.

That doesn't exactly help Kavanaugh's case. Neither does it help that Kavanaugh later joined a notoriously dissipated and drunken fraternity at Yale and belonged to an equally licentious secret society that even today remains one of the few all-male groups on campus. None of that is evidence that Kavanaugh assaulted anyone, to be sure. But it does call into question the Boy Scout image his sponsors so assiduously created during his confirmation hearings.

On Sunday, the woman who had lodged the complaint came forward to tell her story. She is a professor of psychology at Palo Alto University named Christine Blasey Ford, and she told the Washington Post that she was the author of the letter detailing the alleged sexual assault by Kavanaugh and Judge in the 1980s, when all three were high school students. It's a harrowing story, which Ford's therapist had documented in her files years ago. Ford says she was reluctant to come forward because she knew that it would make her life unbearable. She's undoubtedly right. Kavanaugh's defenders are going to come after her with everything they have.

The Republicans are already shrieking about the Democrats playing dirty pool, which is as ironic as it gets. It was Republicans who threw away the rule book to hold a Supreme Court seat open for nearly a year so they could appoint a hard-right conservative. They are making the case that this "unprovable" accusation is unfair because, as one Townhall writer expressed on Twitter, "I don’t know how it would be remotely just to derail the nomination of someone who’s spent an adult lifetime building a personal & professional reputation based on this exceptionally thin standard."

Perhaps that's true, but it doesn't get Kavanaugh off the hook. In fact, it should make everyone go back and take a closer look at Kavanaugh's personal and professional reputation. When it comes to unfairness and character assassination, he's an expert.

Here is just one example to illustrate the depth of his character deficiencies. Back in the 1990s, conservative activists went to DefCon One when Bill Clinton came into office. A whole group of young conservative lawyers joined the cause, Kavanaugh among them. His first big job for the movement was as Ken Starr's point man on the Vince Foster case.

Indeed, it was Kavanaugh who pushed for the investigation even though Foster's death had been amply covered by congressional committees, the local police, the FBI and the first special counsel Robert Fisk, all of whom had concluded found that the former deputy White House counsel had committed suicide. But Kavanaugh was deep in the right-wing fever swamp and argued to Starr that they could unscrupulously use the fact that there were unfounded conspiracy theories surrounding Foster's death to reopen the case, despite the grieving family's desperate pleas for the government to stop the "outrageous innuendo and speculation for political ends."

Kavanaugh was apparently particularly interested in Rush Limbaugh's odious suggestion to his legions of listeners that Foster had been murdered in an apartment secretly owned by Hillary Clinton. He spent three years and $2 million attempting to dig up dirt on the dead man, at one point demanding that Foster's teenage daughter give the authorities specimens of her hair -- an apparent attempt to prove or imply that a hair found on Foster's jacket had belonged to Hillary Clinton.

Kavanaugh asked everyone involved about this nonexistent affair between Clinton and Foster -- even, eventually, Clinton herself. It later became clear that Kavanaugh knew all along that Foster had committed suicide, and that he had used the power and resources of the independent counsel's office to lend credibility to vulgar sexual rumors about the first lady, in the process needlessly torturing the family of a dead man.

Let's just say there is more than one way to assault someone. In this case, which is proven, he assaulted two women: Hillary Clinton and Vince Foster's widow, Elizabeth.

As of this writing, we don't know whether Republicans on the Judiciary Committee will delay Kavanaugh's confirmation vote or reopen the hearings and call Christine Blasey Ford to testify. But if they are depending on their nominee's reputation as an upstanding, honest, decent adult to outweigh this accusation of sexual assault in high school, they are going to have to find another candidate for the seat.

As Sen. Brian Schatz said in the quote above, Brett Kavanaugh is not just another conservative jurist. He is a professional political operative with a past full of dirty tricks and character assassination. If there is any decency left in the Republican Party this latest revelation will be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

It's all fake news until it isn't

by digby

Oh heck:

Republican officials say privately that the performance of the economy under Mr. Trump has not been a major motivating factor for pro-Trump voters. For some Americans on the right, it may even be contributing to the mood of political apathy that has so alarmed G.O.P. leaders, since voters who are optimistic rarely vote with the intensity of those who are angry or afraid.

America First Action, a political committee aligned with Mr. Trump, conducted a series of focus groups over the summer and concluded the party had a severe voter-turnout problem, brought on in part by contentment about the economy and a refusal by Republicans to believe that Democrats could actually win the midterm elections.

Conservative-leaning voters in the study routinely dismissed the possibility of a Democratic wave election, with some describing the prospect as “fake news,” said an official familiar with the research, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the data was not intended to be disclosed. Breaking that attitude of complacency is now the Republicans’ top priority, far more than wooing moderates with gentler messaging about economic growth.

Don't worry. If they lose, they'll just say it was rigged and they'll be happy to have something else to bitch and whine about which is what they really love.


Waiting for the tweet storm

by Tom Sullivan

Donald Trump ought to like hurricanes. They upend pretty much everything and bring chaos to millions of lives. Very Trumpian. It's their public cost that makes them unattractive, probably, plus the mess, discomfort, and disruption of tee times. Hurricanes are indiscriminate in their destruction. Trump is more selective in his wrath and more predictable.

Waiting all week for Florence to creep slowly into these parts was like watching paint dry. Waiting this morning for Trump to rage-tweet about Hillary Clinton's post last night in The Atlantic feels comparable. Maybe no one has yet read him the quote about "the unspeakable cruelty" of his treatment of families and children at the border. Maybe no one dares tell him she wrote of his "monstrous neglect of Puerto Rico" where (he denies) 3,000 died from the effects of Hurricane Maria and his administration's failed response.

But like Florence arriving, Trump's blowup is just a matter of waiting. Tweets so far this morning are boilerplate boasts about the economy.

Clinton has, like Obama before her, taken her time about speaking out so forcefully about the Trump presidency. Last night she bluntly and deliberately described his presidency as a crisis for democracy.

It is an assault on the rule of law. It casts doubt on the legitimacy of our elections. Trump is waging "a war on truth and reason." His administration's corruption is "breathtaking." Perhaps worst, he is undermining the national cohesiveness that makes democracy itself possible.

An attorney herself, Clinton builds her case point by point.

But Trump is a symptom, not the cause, of the authoritarianism threatening the country, Clinton writes:

Over many years, our defenses were worn down by a small group of right-wing billionaires—people like the Mercer family and Charles and David Koch—who spent a lot of time and money building an alternative reality where science is denied, lies masquerade as truth, and paranoia flourishes. By undermining the common factual framework that allows a free people to deliberate together and make the important decisions of self-governance, they opened the way for the infection of Russian propaganda and Trumpian lies to take hold. They've used their money and influence to capture our political system, impose a right-wing agenda, and disenfranchise millions of Americans.
They have pursued the kind of antidemocratic, "unregulated, predatory capitalism" that has created massive "economic inequality and corporate monopoly power" inimical to the American way of life. Politics has become a blood sport.
There is a tendency, when talking about these things, to wring our hands about “both sides.” But the truth is that this is not a symmetrical problem. We should be clear about this: The increasing radicalism and irresponsibility of the Republican Party, including decades of demeaning government, demonizing Democrats, and debasing norms, is what gave us Donald Trump. Whether it was abusing the filibuster and stealing a Supreme Court seat, gerrymandering congressional districts to disenfranchise African Americans, or muzzling government climate scientists, Republicans were undermining American democracy long before Trump made it to the Oval Office.

Now we must do all we can to save our democracy and heal our body politic.
For healing the body politic, we will need to pursue the kind of ethical reforms put in place after Nixon resigned, Clinton continues, as well as election reforms and reinforcement of voting protections.

Checks on corporate power that help reduce inequality are also needed. That last is a job better left to Elizabeth Warren. The Clintons' time in the White House helped accelerate rather than brake wealth concentration and corporate consolidation.
And ultimately, healing our country will come down to each of us, as citizens and individuals, doing the work—trying to reach across divides of race, class, and politics and see through the eyes of people very different from ourselves. When we think about politics and judge our leaders, we can’t just ask, “Am I better off than I was four years ago?” We have to ask, “Are we better off? Are we as a country better, stronger, and fairer?” Democracy works only when we accept that we’re all in this together.
That last is perhaps the most anti-Trump sentiment in Clinton's post. For all the patriotic bluster, veneration of the founders, and public reverence for the country's founding documents, it has long been obvious many on the right break faith with the U.S. Constitution after the first three words in it. There is no "we" in their America, nor in Trump's. There is only "I" and "me."

* * * * * * * * *

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

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Something good to start the week

by digby

People aren’t the only ones being pulled from floodwaters in parts of eastern North Carolina inundated by Florence .

Rescuers are helping pets to safety, too, including one aptly named kitten: Survivor.

Enjoy. It feels like this is going to be a crazy one.

America's identity crisis

by digby

I'd like to think this will be the final recapitulation of the 2016 electorate but I have a feeling people will still be analyzing it long after I'm in the grave. And I guess that makes sense. After all, our electoral system produced a totally unqualified alien from outer space.

Two years after the 2016 election, there has been no single answer to the question: What happened? In an outcome that saw the popular vote and the electoral college diverge, theories abound, opinions are many and consensus fleeting. Now, a trio of political scientists have come forth with their answer as to why Donald Trump prevailed over Hillary Clinton, summed up in the title of their forthcoming book: “Identity Crisis.”

The co-authors are John Sides of George Washington University, Michael Tesler of the University of California at Irvine and Lynn Vavreck of the University of California at Los Angeles. They have plumbed and analyzed a wealth of polling and voting data, examined surveys of attitudes taken long before, during and after the 2016 campaign. Their conclusion is straightforward. Issues of identity — race, religion, gender and ethnicity — and not economics were the driving forces that determined how people voted, particularly white voters.

In an election decided by fewer than 80,000 votes in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, it’s been common for people to say that anything or everything could have made the difference. The three political scientists beg to differ: “ ‘Everything’ did not ‘matter’ equally,” they argue.

They are believers in the fundamentals of elections — things such as economic conditions, presidential approval, partisanship and the like. Fundamentals predicted that Clinton would win a greater share of the two-party vote, which she did. They dismiss some theories about what happened: If 2016 was really about anger and change, why did Clinton win the popular vote? Clinton’s popular vote victory, they note, was not in line with “casual punditry about voter anger but was in line with the state of the economy and approval of Barack Obama.”

They question other theories: They doubt, for example, that Russian interference determined the outcome of the election. The release of hacked emails in July and October 2016 “did not clearly affect” Clinton’s favorable ratings nor perceptions of her honesty, they write. They also say that, given the billions of tweets and social media postings during the campaign, Russian content was probably only an infinitesimal share of the total. Claims that the Russians turned the election should be greeted “with something between agnosticism and skepticism — and probably leaning toward skepticism,” they say.

But if some things were predictable, based on fundamentals, other things that happened were not. One was the unusual pattern of shifts among the states between 2012 and 2016. Normally, from election to election, states move in the same direction, albeit by different percentages. From 2008 to 2012, “almost every state shifted in the direction of the Republican candidate” due to economic conditions that were unfavorable to Obama.

In 2016, Clinton should have done a bit worse than Obama across the board. Instead, in some states — Arizona, California, Georgia, Massachusetts and Texas — she did better. In others she did about the same. And in some, Ohio and Iowa among them, she did “substantially worse.”

Oddly, she did better, comparatively, in red states — such as Georgia and Texas — than she did in a swing state like Iowa.

The cause for this was a divide among white voters, well documented during and since the election, a division that saw those with college degrees moving one way and those without college degrees the other. Sides, Tesler and Vavreck go step by step through the reasons for what they call the “diploma divide” among white voters.

There were some white supporters of Obama whose views on race and immigration were “out of step” with where the Democratic Party stood on those issues. The fact that the campaign focused on these issues — largely due to Trump’s rhetoric and consistency — voters’ perceptions of where the two candidates stood on identity issues was “further apart . . . than any major-party presidential candidates in 40 years.” Which, in turn, meant that those issues “became more strongly related to how they voted in 2016 than in any recent presidential election.”

It’s not that economic issues didn’t matter. But racial attitudes “shaped the way voters understood economic outcomes.” The authors describe this as “racialized economics” rather than economic anxiety. “Voters’ attitudes on racial issues accounted for the ‘diploma divide’ between less and better educated whites,” they write. “Economic anxiety did not.”

Their conclusion agrees with that of Alan Abramowitz, a political scientist at Emory University, who has long studied the rise of polarization in American politics and who focuses on racial resentment in his recent book, “The Great Alignment: Race, Party Transformation and the Rise of Donald Trump.”

Sides, Tesler and Vavreck reached their conclusion by highlighting data that show how identity issues became more important among white voters than in the past. What gives them confidence in their conclusion is that there were no similar signs in how economic issues affected white voters. They found “generally weak relationships between these measures of economic anxiety and how people voted in 2012 or 2016. Moreover, these relationships were not consistently stronger in 2016 than in 2012.”

Their definition of racialized economics is this: “the belief that undeserving groups are getting ahead while your group is left behind.” They say Trump played on these concerns throughout his campaign and has done so as president. They say “racialized economics” was more significant than economic anxiety in affecting how whites with different levels of education voted.

“These threads tell a straightforward story,” the authors write. The campaign focused on issues of identity more so than in the past. Trump and Clinton differed significantly on these issues, which activated them as important factors in shaping voting decisions. Additionally, there were many Obama voters whose views on these issues were “closer to Trump’s than to Obama’s or Clinton’s,” and many of them resided in battleground states. Their shift gave Trump primacy in the electoral college even as he was losing the popular vote.

The polarization around these issues predated Trump, but his campaign “magnified this polarization.” Sides, Tesler and Vavreck conclude the chapter on what happened by noting that the 2016 election was distinguished not only for the fact that Trump prevailed in the face of so many predictions that he would never be elected president, but also “for how it crystallized the country’s identity crisis: sharp divisions on what America has become and what it should be.”

They argue that the current “identity crisis” in America cannot easily be undone, even though public opinion “contains reservoirs of sentiment that can serve both to unify and divide.” The 2016 election did not produce the divisions in America, but it has embedded them deeper into the politics of the country. Voters and candidates will decide in coming elections whether to move in a different direction.

I think most of us understood Trump's appeal to be largely based on the blaring bullhorn racial appeals of his campaign, couched in economics or not. (A lot of it was just straight up racism --- the blacks and to foreigners are doming to kill you! Runferyer lives!) It's not as if any of this it was hidden. It's just that everyone was already primed to talk economics after the Obama years in which the economy was front and center and they missed that other factors were back in play.

During the crisis all many of these folks cared about was that the government was going to do something to help them. They turned to the Democrats because that's the only rational choice in such a situation. But it was inevitable that once the economy started to recover and people found their normal bearings again, some would revert to their old thinking about who "deserved" government help and who didn't.

The good news is that the fact that Clinton was the first woman nominee in the history of the United States had absolutely nothing to do with any of this. It's not as if any of those non-college educated Obama-Trump voters might have had antediluvian views about traditional gender roles (which we all know has absolutely nothing to do with "identity.") So at least we don't have to worry about that. Whew!


Cruz sounds more and more pathetic

by digby


We’ve got a race on our hands,” Cruz said. “If you're a wealthy liberal sitting in New York City or Massachusetts or San Francisco right now and you could defeat one Republican in the country, it'd be me, that's why the money is flowing in here.”

President Trump has pledged to come campaign for Cruz, something the conservative lawmaker welcomes. President Trump is also driving Democratic energy, which Cruz says correlates to his stiff re-election effort.

“With the election of Donald Trump, the far left has lost their minds,” Cruz said. “The extreme left, they are energized, they’re angry and they have a lot of hatred for President Trump.”
The 45-year-old O’Rourke has been likened to “The next Obama,” by Esquire and “Kennedyesque” by Vanity Fair, and Cruz believes positive press like that encourages out-of-state Democratic donors.

“Their favorite adjective is Kennedyesque,” Cruz said. “They all talk about his hair and his teeth, they talk about no substance, nothing about his record, they don’t talk about his being open to abolishing [Immigration and Customs Enforcement], they don’t talk about his wanting to impeach the president.”

He must be desperate to bring this up:


Bannon gets his audience

by digby

There were protesters. But then, that's exactly what he wanted:

Protesters voiced their anger on Saturday as Steve Bannon took part in a controversial live debate in which he defended far-right political figures in Italy and Hungary.

Speaking in New York at the Open Future festival organised by the Economist, Donald Trump’s former aide hailed Matteo Salvini, Italy’s deputy prime minister, and Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s nationalist prime minister, for attempting to protect the “sovereignty of their country”.

As Bannon was interviewed in front of a live London audience via video link by Zanny Minton Beddoes, the magazine’s editor-in-chief, protesters at the New York office vented their anger at what they saw as the promotion of extreme views. They held banners reading: “Don’t normalize Bannon!” and “Shame”.

“Of course media have to interview odious figures sometimes, and if it’s done with critical skill, that’s simply normal journalism,” Andrew Stroehlein, European media director of Human Rights Watch, said on Twitter. “But media do not have to put an odious figure on stage, advertise him, & sell tickets to see him. @TheEconomist’s #OpenFuture is the latter. In short, white nationalism is not entertainment.”

Less than two weeks ago a scheduled appearance by Bannon at the New Yorker festival was swiftly cancelled following a backlash. The editor of the New Yorker, David Remnick, had announced that he would interview Bannon in front of a live audience with “every intention of asking him difficult questions”.

The Hollywood figures Jim Carrey, John Mulaney, Patton Oswalt and Judd Apatow were among those who warned on social media that they would withdraw from the event if Bannon also appeared.

Bannon’s appearance at the London festival, held to mark the 175th anniversary of the Economist, was also criticised by some, with the musician Emmy the Great withdrawing from the event explaining that she was “worried that not speaking up would be inaction that I would regret later in life, after his [Bannon’s] dangerous ideas had proliferated further”.

Another to pull out was the lawyer and social activist Mónica Ramírez, who said: “Power comes in many forms and can be exercised in a multitude of ways. Among these, power resides in the ability to decide when to speak, where to speak and with whom we speak alongside.”

At the event Bannon refused to call Orbán, who has described refugees as “Muslim invaders”, and Salvini, who has cracked down on migrants, as racist. “These people are trying to make their countries better. I certainly do not condemn Viktor Orbán and Salvini,” he said.

“I absolutely do not condemn Orbán or what Salvini is doing, these individuals, these populist national movements across Europe, are trying to get the sovereignties of their countries back.”

There was a mixed reaction from those watching. Anil Dash said: “The only true thing Bannon said on stage is that he seeks to get his ideas out there and convert young people to his beliefs, and he got a platform to do exactly that.” But Tony Wan, managing editor at the US education technology firm Edsurge, tweeted: “Bannon really had no sensible responses, mostly finger pointing, blame … and a WTF grasp of history.”

These people are massively overestimating Bannon's potential followers' desire for coherence and competence. They are looking for validation and endorsement of their feelings and a good demagogue knows how to do that. That's what Bannon and all of his white nationalist allies are doing. Thinking you can "beat" them with logical arguments is really missing the point.


King of the “Beach Week Ralph Club”

by digby

This is the real man: Kavanaugh angrily reacting to the father of a student who was killed by gun violence

She's come forward:

Earlier this summer, Christine Blasey Ford wrote a confidential letter to a senior Democratic lawmaker alleging that Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her more than three decades ago, when they were high school students in suburban Maryland. Since Wednesday, she has watched as that bare-bones version of her story became public without her name or her consent, drawing a blanket denial from Kavanaugh and roiling a nomination that just days ago seemed all but certain to succeed.

Now, Ford has decided that if her story is going to be told, she wants to be the one to tell it.

Speaking publicly for the first time, Ford said that one summer in the early 1980s, Kavanaugh and a friend — both “stumbling drunk,” Ford alleges — corralled her into a bedroom during a gathering of teenagers at a house in Montgomery County.

While his friend watched, she said, Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed on her back and groped her over her clothes, grinding his body against hers and clumsily attempting to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she wore over it. When she tried to scream, she said, he put his hand over her mouth.

“I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” said Ford, now a 51-year-old research psychologist in northern California. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”

Ford said she was able to escape when Kavanaugh’s friend and classmate at Georgetown Preparatory School, Mark Judge, jumped on top of them, sending all three tumbling. She said she ran from the room, briefly locked herself in a bathroom and then fled the house.

Ford said she told no one of the incident in any detail until 2012, when she was in couples therapy with her husband. The therapist’s notes, portions of which were provided by Ford and reviewed by The Washington Post, do not mention Kavanaugh’s name but say she reported that she was attacked by students “from an elitist boys’ school” who went on to become “highly respected and high-ranking members of society in Washington.” The notes say four boys were involved, a discrepancy Ford says was an error on the therapist’s part. Ford said there were four boys at the party but only two in the room.

Notes from an individual therapy session the following year, when she was being treated for what she says have been long-term effects of the incident, show Ford described a “rape attempt” in her late teens.

In an interview, her husband, Russell Ford, said that in the 2012 sessions, she recounted being trapped in a room with two drunken boys, one of whom pinned her to a bed, molested her and prevented her from screaming. He said he recalled that his wife used Kavanaugh’s last name and voiced concern that Kavanaugh — then a federal judge — might one day be nominated to the Supreme Court.

On Sunday, the White House sent The Post a statement Kavanaugh issued last week, when the outlines of Ford’s account first became public: “I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time.”

Through a White House spokesman, Kavanaugh declined to comment further on Ford’s allegation and did not respond to questions about whether he knew her during high school. The White House had no additional comment.

Judge did not respond to emails seeking comment, and efforts to locate a phone number or address for him were unsuccessful. In an interview Friday with The Weekly Standard, before Ford’s name was known, he denied that any such incident occurred. “It’s just absolutely nuts. I never saw Brett act that way,” Judge said. He told the New York Times that Kavanaugh was a “brilliant student” who loved sports and was not “into anything crazy or illegal.”

Uh huh:
In his senior-class yearbook entry at Georgetown Prep, Kavanaugh made several references to drinking, claiming membership to the “Beach Week Ralph Club” and “Keg City Club.” He and Judge are pictured together at the beach in a photo in the yearbook.

Judge is a filmmaker and author who has written for the Daily Caller, The Weekly Standard and The Washington Post. He chronicled his recovery from alcoholism in “Wasted: Tales of a Gen-X Drunk,” which described his own black-out drinking and a culture of partying among students at his high school, renamed in the book “Loyola Prep.” Kavanaugh is not mentioned in the book, but a passage about partying at the beach one summer makes glancing reference to a “Bart O’Kavanaugh,” who “puked in someone’s car the other night” and “passed out on his way back from a party.”

There are many more details in the article. And this guy Judge, his buddy, is a real piece of work. 

I would just remind people who are thinking that Kavanaugh shouldn't be denied a place on the Supreme Court because of things he did in high school, that his professional life hasn't been exactly staid and upright either:

In early 1995, Brett Kavanaugh, a rising star in conservative legal circles, wrestled with one of the most inflammatory questions of the Clinton presidency: How did White House deputy counsel Vincent Foster die?

It was an early career challenge for the man now nominated by President Trump to the Supreme Court. And it spurred him to advocate for an aggressive investigation related to the president, something he now cautions against.

Kavanaugh’s revised thinking, as reflected in a 2009 law journal article, is that civil and criminal investigations “take the President’s focus away from his or her responsibilities to the people.” His argument has been cited as a factor that appealed to President Trump as he faced a Supreme Court vacancy while dealing with an ongoing special counsel’s investigation into Russian election interference.

In early 1995, however, Kavanaugh offered his boss, independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr, the legal rationale for expanding his investigation of the Arkansas financial dealings of President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary, to include the Foster death, according to a memo he wrote on March 24, 1995.

Kavanaugh, then 30, argued that unsupported allegations that Foster may have been murdered gave Starr the right to probe the matter more deeply. Foster’s death had already been the focus of two investigations, both concluding that Foster committed suicide.

Kavanaugh in 2004: Not ‘appropriate’ to give views on Clinton impeachment
“We are currently investigating Vincent Foster’s death to determine, among other things, whether he was murdered in violation of federal criminal law,” Kavanaugh wrote to Starr and six other officials in a memo offering legal justification for the probe. “[I]t necessarily follows that we must have the authority to fully investigate Foster’s death.”

The four-page memo, obtained by The Washington Post from the Library of Congress, sheds light on how Kavanaugh’s thinking evolved on the legal rights of sitting presidents.

His handling of Starr’s Foster probe helped elevate Kavanaugh’s career, but the lengthy inquiry enabled conspiracy theories to flourish and add to the tumult of the Clinton presidency. Once the Foster matter was closed, Starr’s office continued to investigate the Clintons and eventually veered into the president’s relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

Kavanaugh pursued the Foster inquiry at Starr’s request, even though he and others in the office soon came to believe that Foster killed himself, according to two people who worked with him at the time. Ultimately, Kavanaugh’s report in October 1997 affirmed earlier findings of suicide. The Foster component of Starr’s investigation cost about $2 million and lasted three years.

Foster’s family expressed outrage that the Starr investigation enabled conspiracy theorists to “allow the American people to entertain any thought that the president of the United States somehow had complicity in Vince’s death,” Sheila Foster Anthony, Foster’s sister, said the day the findings were released. She did not respond to a request for comment.

He's changed his mind about investigating presidents now, of course. He can be counted upon to protect his patron Donald Trump. That's because he isn't a learned jurist, he's a slash and burn right-wing activist. Drunken, privileged, rich boys are exactly the types they recruited for their dirty work during that period. And he's exactly the type the wingnut cabal that's propping up Trump to get the courts packed would put forth to ensure that their agenda is protected by any means necessary. He's a partisan hitman, not a judge.

There are many horrible right-wing judges out there to choose from, most of whom will be just as bad as Kavanaugh in a dozen different ways. But this guy is wrong on a different level. He is a professional character assassin who is deeply morally compromised. His cruel and indecent behavior toward Vince Foster's family alone, despite knowing that it was wrong, disqualified him. This latest revelation just reinforces what we already know.

He is a moral abomination who has no place on the court.

Update: I forgot to mention all this stuff about Kavanaugh's time as a clerk to Judge Alex Kozinski, who turns out to have been a truly outrageous sexual harasser. Kavanaugh says he didn't see a thing wrong.

Here's what we can expect from the right:

What was Manafort's electoral strategy?

by digby

If you're wondering why the Special Counsel laid out such a long and detailed list of charges that in Manafort's plea deal last Friday, Emptywheel has a good theory.

They’re there to show what Paul Manafort does when he’s running a campaign.

Because they show that for the decade leading up to running Trump’s campaign, Manafort was using the very same sleazy strategy to support Viktor Yanukovych that he used to get Trump elected.

In other words, these exhibits are a preview of coming attractions.


The criminal information provided far more detail about something we had only seen snippets of in the Alex Van der Zwaan plea: Manafort’s use of Skadden Arps to whitewash Yanukovych’s prosecution of Yulia Tymoshenko.

It describes how Manafort used cut-outs to place stories claiming his client’s female opponent had murdered someone. And it shows Manafort seeding lies that his client’s female opponent had criminal intent when he knew there was no proof to back the claim.

MANAFORT took other measures to keep the Ukraine lobbying as secret as possible. For example, MANAFORT, in written communications on or about May 16, 2013, directed his lobbyists (including Persons D1 and D2, who worked for Company D) to write and disseminate within the United States news stories that alleged that Tymoshenko had paid for the murder of a Ukrainian official. MANAFORT stated that it should be “push[ed]” “[w]ith no fingerprints.” “It is very important we have no connection.” MANAFORT stated that “[m]y goal is to plant some stink on Tymo.”

MANAFORT directed lobbyists to tout the report as showing that President Yanukovych had not selectively prosecuted Tymoshenko. But in November 2012 MANAFORT had been told privately in writing by the law firm that the evidence of Tymoshenko’s criminal intent “is virtually non-existent” and that it was unclear even among legal experts that Tymoshenko lacked power to engage in the conduct central to the Ukraine criminal case. These facts, known by MANAFORT, were not disclosed to the public.

This propaganda effort against Manafort’s client’s female opponent included placing stories in Breitbart.


Manafort placed so much effort on inventing stories about Tymoshenko in part to take her out as a political opponent (and to create an opportunity to pitch Yanukovych’s corruption as a tolerable partner to Europe). But he did so, too, to undermine support for sanctions against Yanukovych for human rights abuses, of which Tymoshenko was the poster child. Particularly after John Kerry replaced Hillary, Manafort undermined sanctions by promising raw material exploitation opportunities.

We’ll learn more about what role Manafort himself played in Trump’s policy on sanctions (even aside from any quid pro quo that may have come out of the June 9 Trump Tower meeting), but we know that Trump’s view on sanctions is among the questions Mueller wants to ask Trump, and we know that in an op-ed encouraged by the Trump campaign (and highlighted to Ivan Timofeev), George Papadopoulos argued that sanctions had hurt the US.


Manafort was even using some of the very same lines that Trump still uses, such as blaming Obama for “losing” Ukraine.


Shortly after Yanukovych won in 2010, Manafort boasted that he had established a baseline to be able to claim that Tymoshenko’s complaints about election irregularities were disinformation.

Manafort also prepared a full court press to influence the electoral observers in advance of Ukraine’s 2012 parliamentary election (this document, at PDF 5, is dated as October 9, 2012 in the
One thing we’re going to see in former Manafort partner Roger Stone’s eventual indictment is a focus on the work of his Stop the Steal PAC, both just after Manafort arrived to manage the Convention, and his voter suppression efforts (which paralleled Russian ones) during the general election.


Finally, as early as February 2013 (see PDF 14), Paul Manafort was advising his client that replacing Hillary Clinton with someone who would value raw material deals over human rights would be a positive development.

As it happens, in 2016, Paul Manafort could please all his clients by offering a man who valued raw material deals over human rights as a positive development.

I wrote about the similarities between the Yanukovych and Trump campaigns against Clinton Tymoschenko. In Ukraine they actually "locked her up" for a while. This is much more detailed.

Click over to Emptywheel to see all the detail she's amassed, various documents and video to illustrate this narrative.