Category Archives: Congress

Fear Itself

It’s getting ugly out there. We already knew that the only way the Insult Comedian knows how to run for office is by scaring his supporters shitless. We’re used to the GOP running a disgusting base election: they’ve been doing it since at least 1988, but it’s reached new heights (depths?) 30 years later.

Donald Trump is a real estate developer. The phrase “soft sell” is not in his limited lexicon. Watching him on the stump is like lumping together the worst used car salescreeps you’ve ever dealt with and multiplying it by a factor of 10.

The Insult Comedian goes past the hard sell to the racist sell. He’s finally come out of the closet of horrors as a an unabashed nationalist. That’s white nationalist to people like us, even though the salesman has the orange glow of the tanning bed or spray tan.

We’re hearing a lot about the “illegal immigrant” caravan; the timing of which is suspicious to me but unlike the president* and his ilk, I prefer not to level unsubstantiated charges. On second thought, if the caravan is being financed by an American fat cat, it’s more likely to be a Robert Mercer-type than a George Soros-type even if the latter is so omnipotent that some fucker tried to bomb his house.

Whipping up anti-Hispanic xenophobia is not enough, now they’re claiming that there are “unknown Middle Easterners” marching north. Another day, another lie.

The Trumper base is so terrified that one of them said this to the Failing New York Times:

But Mr. Trump’s dystopian imagery has clearly left an impression with some. Carol Shields, 75, a Republican in northern Minnesota, said she was afraid that migrant gangs could take over people’s summer lake homes in the state.

“What’s to stop them?” said Ms. Shields, a retired accountant. “We have a lot of people who live on lakes in the summer and winter someplace else. When they come back in the spring, their house would be occupied.”

I guess the Latins will become squatters at some lake houses and the “unknown Middle Easterners” will bomb the rest. They’re clearly taking a bead on Minnesota: they’re into middleness, will their next stop after the Midwest be Middle Earth? The “unknown Middle Easterners” may even be armed with bone saws for all we know.

Nobody should be surprised that Donald Trump’s midterm strategy involves throwing lies against the wall and seeing how many stick. It reminds me of the spaghetti scene in The Odd Couple:

“Now it’s garbage” aptly describes Donald Trump’s entire political career and this campaign in particular. The next president is going to have a helluva mess to clean up. I’m sure Felix will be glad to help.

There’s a whiff of panic in the air among Democrats. That’s what the MSM and the GOP expect from us. It’s time for everyone to redouble their efforts to retake the House and defend vulnerable Democratic Senate seats in Florida, Indiana, Montana, and Missouri. We’re going to need fighters like Claire McCaskill and Jon Tester next year whether we’re in the majority or not.

I remain convinced that the key issues in 2018 are health care and the need to reign in a rogue regime. The Republicans are whipping their shrinking base into a frenzy. Let them do the panicking for a change. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: To Hell With The Trump Base.

In 13 days we will learn how many bigoted assholes there are in the country. Here’s hoping that enough voters will ignore the fear mongering of 45 and heed the words of the 32nd president and founder of the modern Democratic party, Franklin Delano Roosevelt:

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INSTANT UPDATE: Some Trump inspired motherfucker sent explosive devices to the Clinton’s house and Barack Obama’s office. The devices have been defused, the plot has been foiled. It’s to get both mad *and even.

UPDATE TOO: If you’re jittery about the election, Josh Marshall has a post up called: Everything Shows a GOP Resurgence Except for the Evidence. Shorter Adrastos: What Josh Said.

The Buzz Word Election

Buzz words are nothing new in American politics. They’re as old as the Republic itself. The Jeffersonians called John Adams a royalist tool of the English crown.The Federalists, in turn, called Jefferson a Jacobin tool of the French revolutionary rabble. And on and on and on.

The malevolent spirit of the Insult Comedian looms large over the 2018 campaign. Until recently, GOPers claimed that they’d run a campaign on taxes and the economy, which is straight out of the Reaganite playbook. That barely made a dent in the wall of noise and scandal surrounding the leader of their party. Even the author of the House tax cut, Pete Roskam, who is in a tough race, isn’t talking about it. Why? The majority of the country knows it benefits the 1% and nobody else. Besides, the Obama recovery seems poised to become the Trump recession. Trade wars are not easy to win.

When you’re losing, what do you do? Smear your opponents and resort to scare tactics no matter how preposterous. The Insult Comedian has laid the groundwork for the dumber elements of the Republican base to believe almost anything. That’s where buzz words come in handy. Besides, it’s 2 weeks until Halloween. Tick tock, motherfuckers.

In the Arizona Senate race, decorated veteran Martha McSally is running an aughties throwback campaign against her Democratic opponent Krysten Sinema:

Arizona Republican Martha McSally accused her Democratic opponent Kyrsten Sinema of once advocating for “treason” on Monday, calling out her rival’s old comments during the pair’s sole debate to fill the state’s open Senate seat.

“You said it was okay for Americans to join the Taliban to fight against us,” McSally said, raising her voice and pointing emphatically at Sinema, who stood about 10 feet away, as the debate neared its conclusion, referencing a 2003 radio interview. “I will ask right now whether you’re going to apologize to the veterans and me for saying it is okay — it is treason!”

Is it 2002 again? It sure sounds like it to me.  A reminder that there’s a dark side to the current warm and cuddly image being painted (pun intended, it always is) of George W. Bush. His favorite buzz words were “treason” and “soft on terror.” He learned scare tactics at his father’s knee during the 1988 mudbath. It’s not just Trump, y’all. It’s not just Trump.

McSally has resorted to scare tactics because she’s trailing in the polls. In Texas, Ted Cruz has been pulling ahead of Beto O’Rourke but buzz words are his thing. The two candidates debated last night and the non-asshole from El Paso barely got a word in edgewise as Slate’s Jim Newell pointed out this morning:

But I shouldn’t mock: Cruz is leading O’Rourke consistently by five to ten points in the many, many Texas polls that have come out in recent weeks, indicating that his strategy of casting O’Rourke as a far-left extremist in a center-right state is working. He stuck to it on Tuesday night, suffocating O’Rourke with so many allegations to respond to that he barely had the oxygen to tear Cruz apart.

By his closing statement, Cruz had successfully drawn his lines. If O’Rourke had his way, you wouldn’t be able to open your eyes in Texas without seeing an illegal immigrant having a partial-birth abortion. The economy would be in ruins as Democrats, led by Chairman O’Rourke, seized control to turn the nation into a bankrupt welfare factory—for illegal immigrants. Judges, with alarming word-per-minute speeds, would be typing radical left-wing regulations to ration health care and obliterate business. Border walls would come down, allowing the forces of Juarez to conquer El Paso and march to the east. Police? Forget about ’em. Banned.

“Do we choose fear,” Cruz concluded, “or do we choose hope?”

“I believe in hope.”

Tailgunner Ted’s rhetoric is smarmy, cynical, and self-contradictory. BUT he’s an effective debater and Texans have been programmed to believe this nonsense from birth. If he were so inclined, Beto could cite liberal Texans such as Sam Rayburn and Lyndon Johnson but his campaign seems focused on proving that Beto is cool. Look: he skateboards, was in a rock band, and quotes the Clash. Kewl. I don’t think Hispanic voters give a rat’s ass about how cool Beto is, which is why he’s underperforming in that vital demographic.

Here’s the deal: I like Beto. I think he’s an excellent campaigner but his team has focused on bragging about fundraising, yard signs, crowd sizes, and how cool he is. Repeat after me: yard signs don’t vote.

I think Texas will continue to be a Democratic white whale. I hope I’m wrong, but the election seems to be slipping away from Team Beto. The upcoming Trump-Cruz rally may prove to be the last nail in Beto’s very cool coffin. Texas seems poised to choose the Tailgunner over the Skateboarder.

It’s time for national Democrats to focus on other races including that of the uncool but competent Florida Senator Bill Nelson who is fighting off a challenge from Governor Rat Boy. The  good news is that Andrew Gillum’s bid to succeed Scott is generating buzz and he and Nelson should be able to help one another. Synergy is what a corporate puke would call the combination of the moderate white guy and the progressive black guy.  I call it political magic.

I remain cautiously optimistic about the House. I think that Republican voter fuckery and a decade of egregious Gerrymandering will keep our gains to between 25 and 45 seats. But  righteous indignation among women voters and the many gifted Democratic women running for office could change that. But voters will have to wade through a muck of Republican lies and buzz words. Let’s hope thebuzz words don’t sting too badly.

At the risk of being repetitive, Harold Lloyd in Safety Last gets the last word:

I am guilty of using my last word mantra as a buzz word. I think we need some inspirational music. Ain’t nothing more inspirational than the Boss:

The Kavanaugh Mess: The Mess We’re In

Sorry for using the word mess twice in the post title. It does, however, describe the state of the nation after the messy confirmation of Justice* Bro. He earned his asterisk by lying to the Senate and the way the Feebs took the I out of the FBI.  To paraphrase the late Sue Grafton, I was NOT for Investigation.

GOPers have been celebrating like high school jocks since Chinless Mitch and his minions “rammed” the nomination through. SNL had a locker room celebration sketch as its cold opening. It was an excellent idea that was poorly executed. The #BeersForBrett meme on twitter was much funnier albeit unintentionally so. You know my thoughts about that: ain’t nothing funnier than unintentional comedy.

On Friday, I wrote about Susan Collins’ long-winded apologia for Brett Kavanaugh. I have to give her credit for making a Supreme Court nomination about her instead of the nominee. Her Sunday show appearance did not exactly cover her in glory:

This line has gone from being a wacky conspiracy theory promulgated by Kav krony Ed Whelan to the GOP CW: conventional wisdom, not country & western. Its adoption does make me want to cry tears in my beer…

The “I believe she was attacked but he didn’t do it” line makes no sense whatsoever. But we’re living in the age of the YUGE LIE so logic is out the window. Little Joe Goebbels would be very proud of Republicans.

I said on Friday that “Susan Collins is horrible” I have an addendum: Lindsey Graham is even worse. He spiked the ball on the tweeter tube after the vote:

Then he doubled down on teevee the morning after:

Stay classy, Senator.

I am not among those shocked by Lindsey Graham’s transformation from John McCain’s wingman to all-out Trump sycophant. He’s a people pleaser who is drawn to power. Power in the GOP is concentrated in the Insult Comedian and the MAGA Maggots. Lindsey is like a moth to flame. This moth is up for re-election in 2020.

The key to Lindsey Graham’s character can be found in a New York Magazine profile I quoted a few weeks back in an Odds & Sods outing:

It is perhaps useful to know that Graham grew up in a bar. His parents owned the Sanitary Cafe, a watering hole and pool hall popular with local textile workers, in a town called Central, in a region known as the Upcountry in the northwest of the state, a budding Appalachia.

<SNIP>

Graham, his parents, and his sister, Darline, 13 years younger, slept in one room behind the bar, and Graham worked at the bar after school. There he honed the skills that have defined him in politics: Always be charming, ready with a joke and a story; don’t make enemies; keep grudges private; defuse open conflict and resolve fights out back.

Repeat after me: Graham is a people pleaser. The people he wants to please are the president* and his horrible base. Senator McCain has left the building. A reminder: McCain patched up things with George W Bush during the run up to the Iraq War to maintain his viability in the Republican Party. In fairness, I doubt he would have gone over to Trump or attacked CBF with the vehemence of his former sidekick. He had more integrity than that. Graham has none. He’s a pussy, he should grab himself.

Where do we go from here? I understand the temptation to form a circular firing squad and start shooting at other Dems. I’m mad at Joe Manchin too. His vote *was* cast in a cowardly manner BUT we need the numbers if the Dems have any chance at taking the Senate. I understand why people want to cut him off but I’m keeping my eyes on the prize, which is a Senate majority. It remains daunting but it’s well-nigh impossible without Manchin and Phil Bredesen in Tennessee. I affixed a clothespin to my nose while writing this paragraph. You gotta do what you gotta do. I completely understand if others don’t feel this way.

My assumption has always been that the losing side in the Justice Bro* war would benefit the most politically. Republicans got what they wanted, it’s more of a sugar rush that may dim in the next month. If it helps them, it helps them more in the Senate than in House races.

Something else that will help Democrats when the sugar rush wears off  is Trump’s inability not to brag and take credit for the Kavanaugh victory. His tendency to overplay his hand may well lead to a backlash. We’re in the age of the backlash, after all.

A reminder that Democrats should NOT run on impeachment of either Trump or Kavanaugh. That *will* extend the GOP sugar rush. Besides, it’s what they want us to do. When your opponent sets an obvious trap, you should sidestep it. Two words Democrats *should* run on are: OVERSIGHT and INVESTIGATION. Those are promises we can keep: even a Democratic Senate will not be able to convict an impeached president* or justice*.

It’s time for us to get both mad and even. That’s not an easy feat but we need to get our base out as well as wooing suburban women who dislike Trump and are disturbed by the allegations against Brett Kavanaugh. Women are the key to this election: I’m going to get out of the way and let y’all do your thing.

Repeat after me: Resist Smart.

The last word goes to Los Lobos:

Moderates Not Gonna Moderate, or, This Didn’t Just Happen

One of the architects of the current disaster deplores the terrible blueprints he drew:

I’ve written many, many times about the passivity with which we characterize our current political moment. How everyone from congressional pages on up to the Wall Street Journal editorial board talks about our country becoming divided, our politics becoming rancorous, our society growing polarized, ALL THE WHILE FUCKING IGNORING THE PEOPLE WHO DIVIDED AND POLARIZED US AND PROFITED OFF OF IT ALL.

Good God. I know it’s never fun to think of yourself as having been at the mercy of a system you do not control but please take an honest look around and ask yourself who’s gained and kept power in the past decade and who’s made money off that power. Look around you. Who’s divided America? Who got richer off that division?

Someone DID THIS TO US and we’re acting like it’s the weather, like it’s a fucking UFO sighting, like we just have no idea how this could have happened and would you just look at that, Bobby Ray, have you ever seen such a sight?

It’s not like they’ve been keeping it a secret. Lee Atwater laid it out years ago and they’ve been telling us ever since, in louder and louder voices. They know exactly what they’re doing but we’re still out here all Earnest Editorials about The Appearance Of The Thing and The Sacredness of Ideas.

The Supreme Court’s legitimacy depends on most Americans viewing it as above the partisan fray, an institution whose decisions are driven by legal reasoning, not by the justices’ partisan leanings.

Spare me, by the way, the sanctifying of a court that upheld slavery and internment and every abuse of the war on terror, that told women they couldn’t vote and black Americans they were worth 3/5 of all others. This court is full of monsters, and it’s been so before, and we should question its legitimacy all the damn time. It should try to BE legitimate, not just be seen to be. Not that that matters to the fascisti who control it now.

It’s not even that we’re being lied to because they don’t respect us enough to lie anymore. It’s that we’re being told the truth, and we earnestly repeat last decade’s fiction because believing that means we don’t have to hurt or think or work or change.

Flake, up there. Collins, may she rot in hell. Sasse and Corker who were oh, so appalled until women talking appalled them further. They stand up there and pretend to deplore it all, the awful partisanship, counting on us all to believe our lying eyes. Our entire world hangs on their words and their words are empty, and we refuse to name them for what they are.

Frauds and cowards, all. We didn’t just get here. We were taken here, and the moderates drove stick.

A.

The Kavanaugh Mess: Susan Collins Is Horrible

I lasted for 2/3 of Collins’ speech and couldn’t take any more. It was not the speech of someone who agonized over her vote; except for lip service to Roe, it was a speech Senators Cornhole or Graslley could have given. She sounded like Kavanaugh’s floor manager instead of a reluctant yes.

It’s high time for the MSM to stop calling Collins a moderate. She’s a conservative and always has been one. Enough.

Kavanaugh will be confirmed tomorrow but the mess isn’t over. It’s time to take the fight to the hustings and get our voters ready to turn out in massive numbers.  I eagerly await the many investigations the House will unleash on the GOP; one of which should be about the Kavanaugh mess.

Repeat after me: Susan Collins is horrible.

The Kavanaugh Mess: Best Protest Ever

As the Kavanaugh kloture vote looms, NBC’s Kasie Hunt was on the job early this morning:

Then someone tweeted this clip:

I laughed for a full five minutes when I saw Kasie’s tweet. Perhaps the Reader’s Fucking Digest is right and laughter *is* the best medicine. A no vote would be even better.

The last word goes to Judge Bro:

One More Tweet For The Road:

The Kavanaugh Mess: The Curious Case Of The Last-Minute Op-Ed Article

I did not plan to write about the Kavanaugh Mess again tonight. The last piece was written on the fly. It was quite literally instant analysis: I wrote it in 30 minutes. Not bad for a rush job if I say so myself, and I do.

That blog post was written and posted before I heard about the latest weird twist in this dizzy drama: Kavanaugh’s Wall Street Journal op-ed article. This is yet another unprecedented development: Supreme Court nominees do NOT write articles defending their demeanor and judgment:

“I was very emotional last Thursday, more so than I have ever been. I might have been too emotional at times. I know that my tone was sharp, and I said a few things I should not have said. I hope everyone can understand that I was there as a son, husband and dad. I testified with five people foremost in my mind: my mom, my dad, my wife, and most of all my daughters.

“Going forward, you can count on me to be the same kind of judge and person I have been for my entire 28-year legal career: hardworking, even-keeled, open-minded, independent and dedicated to the Constitution and the public good. As a judge, I have always treated colleagues and litigants with the utmost respect. I have been known for my courtesy on and off the bench. I have not changed. I will continue to be the same kind of judge I have been for the last 12 years. “

The piece feels like a bad rush job. It weaves together elements from Kavanaugh’s opening statement at the pre-sexual assault allegation hearing with new material. It seems to have been assembled this afternoon as protesters swarmed about Capitol Hill.

The op-ed feebly attempts to address many of the questions that Judge Bro’s ranty testimony gave rise to. There’s not a judge in the country who would tolerate such behavior in their courtroom, including Brett Kavanaugh. Who among us can forget this exchange with Senator Amy Klobuchar:

The only reason for the last-minute op-ed is that someone needs help getting to yes. I’m done trying to read the minds of conservative Republican Senators, but Kav’s handlers wouldn’t have pulled this stunt if they had the votes. They might have them by the time of the cloture vote but they didn’t have them as of 7:30 EST tonight. I’m not getting my hopes up but the situation remains fluid. A friend of mine described fluid as my F-word.

This whole thing gets curiouser and curiouser each day. That’s why I call it the Kavanaugh Mess.

That concludes this episode of Instant Analysis Theatre.

The Kavanaugh Mess: W Is For Whitewash

Jeff Flake got what he wanted: political cover to vote aye on the Kavanaugh nomination. I hope Susan Collins writes him a nice thank you note: if she votes aye, it will reduce the odds of a primary challenger in 2020. Collins lives to get re-elected: she doesn’t do anything with the power she has as a Senator, after all. Collins has described the FBI probe as “a thorough investigation,” which means the country is thoroughly screwed.

The investigation was cursory at best, a cover-up at worst. Instead of summoning our “better angels,” the Kavanaugh Mess has shown American politics at its worst. As far as I’m concerned, Trumpism and sadism are synonymous. Adam Serwer makes the same point in an Atlantic article: The Cruellty is the Point.

It should matter that retired Justice John Paul Stevens has come out against the nomination. Former Supremes do not do such things. Unfortunately, it does not matter: all that matters is that Mitch McConnell has the hammer and he’s using it to damage the customs and traditions of the Senate. He’s every bit as radical as the president* he pretends to disdain, but serves oh so well.

It should matter that a Yale classmate of Debbie Ramirez is willing to corroborate her story on the record. It does not matter: the White House is the FBI’s client and they’re doing as they’re told. So much for the Deep State. W is for Whitewash.

I hope I’m wrong about tomorrow’s cloture vote but they appear to have the votes. Jeff Flake is Hamletting and Joe Manchin is hoping not to cast the decisive vote. As to Collins and Murkowski, the sham investigation has given them political cover. Change one word in cover and you have cower. That’s what these supposedly decent people are doing: cowering in the face of Trumpism.

The last word goes to the junior Senator from North Dakota, a woman who  knows the meaning of political courage:

The Kavanaugh Mess: It’s Over (Not Quite)

The mess itself is not over but the possibility of defeating the nomination died this morning when, predictably, the Senator from Arizona flaked out. There are a few holding out hope that Collins and Murkowski remain undecided but I am no longer among them. Absent a miracle, the confirmation fight is over.

There were several reports last night that a “gang of four” including the aforementioned GOPers and Joe Manchin plan to vote as a bloc. The first time I saw that I knew that Judge Bro would be promoted to Justice Bro. I feel sorry for the three women justices and even sorrier for the country.

Nothing that Judiciary Committee Democrats did or said yesterday mattered. The Senate has been fundamentally changed by Mitch McConnell, what the minority thinks no longer matters.

The fact that the American Bar Association wants an investigation does not matter either. Angry white men want one of their own on SCOTUS and they will get their wish.

The fact that Republicans applied criminal law standards of corroboration and reasonable doubt to what is really a job interview shows that they followed the Thomas-Hill playbook. The only difference was that Senators did not yell at Christine Blasey Ford. They let Brett Kavanaugh and Lindsey Graham do the yelling instead.

I’m feeling alternately angry and numb this morning. I put a lot into covering this story. I made the mistake of thinking that Senate Republicans would act like rational politicians looking at the next election. Instead, they put all their chips on promoting Judge Bro to the Supreme Court. The voters need to make them pay for their short-sighted thinking.

Even though yesterday’s hearing was as much Kabuki theatre as Kangaroo court, Michael F provided me with an alternate image. I hate to waste such generosity. Here’s the earless version:

Image by Michael F

The last word goes to Roy Orbison. We could all use some beauty in our lives right now even if it comes from a sad song.

UPDATE: As of 1:45 CST, Senators Flake and Murkowski are withholding an aye vote on the nomination unless there’s a one-week long FBI investigation. That’s my current understanding but the situation is FLUID and CONFUSING. It’s up to the White House to re-open the background check.

The Kavanaugh Mess: Act Two Instant Analysis

My earlier post illustrates the perils of instant analysis. Christine Blasey Ford (CBF) was such an outstanding witness that I let my guard down and became overly optimistic as to the fate of the Kavanaugh nomination. The situation remains fluid but committee GOPers regained their equilibrium after the second act.

It’s not that Kavanaugh was a good witness: he was not. He yelled and spent his testimony defending his resume, not his character. Initially, I thought his lack of judicial decorum meant that he expected to lose. It turned out that he was playing to an audience of one: a man with even less class than Kavanaugh exhibited today. Despite crying and refusing to blow his nose, Judge Bro seems to have held on to the president’s* support.

I’ve never seen a judicial nominee be rude to senators and act like an Insult Comedian Junior. Kavanaugh even insulted the personification of Minnesota nice; Senator Amy Klobuchar. Judge Bro realized he’d gone too far and apologized to her. Wise choice: she’s one of the best liked members of Senate on both sides of the aisle. I suspect Don McGahn pointed out that Klobuchar is fairly tight with Collins and Murkowski. The Alaska senator remains a possible no vote but I’m putting away my crystal ball. She will not be the only Republican to vote no, which only gets us to 50-50 with Pence holding the tiebreaker.

It was easy to see the belligerent drunk described by CBF and many others as Kavanaugh shouted his way through his testy tetchy testimony. Hardcore Trumpers loved his act and Republican solons seemed re-invigorated by all the nastiness. It’s hard to doze off when a red-faced bro is shouting at you, after all.

Other high points were watching Chuck Grassley lose his shit and Lindsey Graham pitch an epic hissy fit: Bless his heart. Since Republicans clearly regard women as dispensable, they dispensed with the services of prosecutor Rachel Mitchell during the second act without so much as a thank you.

Where do we stand now? Unfortunately, I think we find ourselves where we started the day despite the compelling testimony of CBF. Kavanaugh is damaged goods, but he *might* have the votes. Then, again he might not. I am no longer certain of the outcome. It depends on how Kavanaugh’s ranty testimony went over with the undecided Republican Senators. The ball is in their court:  one of them, Ben Sasse, sounded like an aye vote during the hearing. I already covered Murkowski: she needs Republican company. As to Jeff Flake, his fine words rarely translates into action but anything can happen in this political environment.

I still think the political damage to Republican candidates caused by the hearing will be severe. In any other time and place, the Kavanaugh nomination would have been pulled. But we’re in the Trump era where the shameless run the show and the majority of GOP solons simply do not care about allegations of sexual assault. You cannot shame the shameless.

While it may be an insult to kangaroos to call this hearing a kangaroo court, I asked my friend and colleague Michael F to “help a brother out” with an image:

kanga_roo_doll_1

Image by Michael F

The Kavanaugh Mess: Act One Instant Analysis

Christine Brasley Ford (hereinafter CBF) is a superb witness. She’s smart, emotional, wise, and absolutely credible. As a scientist, she is able to explain the science behind her own PTSD. As the husband of a med school professor, I am not surprised: they need to know how to present and explain things in terms that people can understand. Btw, I hate to fly but will do so if need be so I get what CBF said on that subject.

As to the GOP’s gambit to have Rachel Mitchell do the questioning, it’s a flop. The choppy format makes it impossible for her to get a rhythm going. She’s actually *helped* CBF’s credbility. That was not their intention.

Chairman Grassely is a blowhard and raging, gaping asshole. His incessant talk of procedure is off-putting and self-defeating Plus, he’s lost his shit more than once. The first time was with Minnesota Senator and former District Attorney, Amy Klobuchar. It’s bound to happen with Kamala Harris as well. I cannot wait.

I remain astonished that Republicans went ahead with this hearing. Even Fox News’ Chris Wallace is calling it a disaster for Republicans. As to the Insult Comedian:

I did not think they had the votes to confirm Kavanaugh before CBF’s testimony. Unless Kavanaugh gives the best performance of his life, nothing has happened to nudge undecided Senators to vote aye.

I’ve heard many people talk about the GOP’s willingness to commit political suicide over a Supreme Court seat. Nonsense. They’re politicians. Politicians always look at the next election. There is no way that the Turtle and GOP committee chairs are willing to cede power so Brett Fucking Kavanaugh can sit on the Supreme Court. Right-wing judges are a dime a dozen.

I can hear the knives sharpening at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.  Someone is going to knife Kavanaugh later in the day.

Stay tuned.

Quote Of The Day: Invective Edition

I rarely quote conservative pundits but I’m making an exception in this case. It comes from a colloquy between NYT columnists Gail Collins and Brett Stephens. The never-Trump conservative turns out to like Beto O’Rourke and despise Ted Cruz:

Because he’s like a serpent covered in Vaseline. Because he treats the American people like two-bit suckers in 10-gallon hats. Because he sucks up to the guy who insulted his wife — by retweet, no less. Because of his phony piety and even phonier principles. Because I see him as the spiritual love child of the 1980s televangelist Jimmy Swaggart and Jack Nicholson’s character in “The Shining.” Because his ethics are purely situational. Because he makes Donald Trump look like a human being by comparison. Because “New York values.” Because his fellow politicians detest him, and that’s just among Republicans. Because he never got over being the smartest kid in eighth grade. Because he’s conniving enough to try to put one over you, but not perceptive enough to realize that you see right through him. Because he’s the type of man who would sell his family into slavery if that’s what it took to get elected. And that he would use said slavery as a sob story to get himself re-elected.

Otherwise, you might say I’m his No. 1 fan.

Tell us how you really feel, Brett.

A serpent covered in Vaseline? I might have to steal that line. I’m also considering stealing the theatrical joke in this tweet:

I’m also terribly fond of Travesties; the Stoppard play wherein Lenin meets Tristan Tzara the daddy of Dada. It contains a line I’ve often swiped over the years: “My art belongs to Dada.”

War Of The Gosars: “Stalin Would Be Proud”

In between obsessing about Rod Rosenstein’s unfiring and the Kavanaugh mess, I’ve continued to monitor the fight for the House of Representatives.

I love campaign ads; at least the first time I see them. The ad of the year ran in Arizona. It features the siblings of wingnut dentist/Congresscritter Paul Gosar. They are NOT supporting their brother’s re-election bid:

Ouch. Dr/Congressman/MAGA Maggot Gosar was not amused.

I’m not sure what’s Stalinist about affordable health care for rural Arizonans. At least Gosar  didn’t call for his siblings to be liquidated. Now that would be Stalinist.

The fact that Gosar is a dentist tickles my fancy. That’s why Steve Martin gets the last word:

Another Fine Kavanaugh Mess Redux

I originally planned to write a non-Kavanaugh Mess post this morning. I was naive. I should have known that all hell was going to break loose when I took a break from political news yesterday.

As you have surely heard by now, the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow have published another credible account of sexual misconduct by Brett Kavanaugh. This time it was while he was student at Yale and the accuser is a former classmate, Deborah Ramirez. In her student days, she was apparently a prim and proper type who preppie louts like Kavanaugh enjoyed taunting. Her story involves excessive drinking, flashing, ritual humiliation, and a dildo. I am not making this up. It almost makes one nostalgic for the quaint days when Douglas Ginsburg withdrew his SCOTUS nomination because he smoked pot.

Here’s what some smart ass had to say about it last night on the tweeter tube:

The dildo story reminded me of a bizarre moment from 1991:

Increasingly, the Kavanaugh story is about privilege. The younger Kavanaugh comes off as an entitled prick who thinks his preppie pedigree allowed him to do whatever the hell he wanted. To say that the combination of alcohol, testosterone, and entitlement is a toxic cocktail is a grotesque understatement.

One mystery of the Kavanaugh mess is why he didn’t try the “repentant former drunk” gambit that was used by his ex-boss, George W. Bush. When the Blasey Ford charges emerged, it would have been wise to have said something like this: “When I was young, I had a terrible drinking problem. I drank until I blacked out and do not remember what happened when I was in that condition.” Such a confession might have served him well but it’s too late for what the Watergate creeps called a modified limited hangout.

Adding to Kavanaugh’s political hangover is the fact that Michael Avenatti joined the fray last night with a third entry in the Brett Kavanaugh sexual predation  sweepstakes:

In typical Avenatti attack dog fashion, he went  directly after Judge Flasher:

Does anyone want this guy up in their shit?

I’ve come to the conclusion that Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination is doomed. This shitshow has spattered every Republican involved. The reason Senate GOPers were so frantic to advance the vote is that they knew of the Ramirez allegations last week as they “negotiated” with Dr. Ford’s lawyers. This tweet by a former aide to Eric Holder nails the import of this move:

The end game is in sight. Here’s one possible scenario: Mitch McConnell will dispatch one of his minions to brief reporters in an off-the-record gaggle setting. The designated leaker will knife the nominee by telling the press that Kavanaugh does not have the votes and should withdraw. Presumably, the withdrawal cake will be baked and Kavanaugh will step aside so he can spend more time with his calendar. Then, McConnell will give an interview to Politico and/or Axios who will spin it as a some sort of victory for the “wily” majority leader.

There’s no way the deeply cynical McConnell is willing to die on the proverbial hill for a nominee he did not want to put forward in the first place. This is Trump’s debacle: he was so focused on his own legal problems that he didn’t listen to his allies on the Hill. Heckuva job, Trumpy.

Republicans will  try to use the Kavanaugh fiasco to gin up their evangelical base but the impact among women voters is likely to far outweigh that. As I’ve said before, this is a lose-lose situation for the GOP, and their attempts to cover-up the second allegation and rush to a committee vote has already blown up in their faces. Repeat after me: if Kavanaugh has done nothing wrong, why are he and Senate GOPers  opposed to the FBI re-opening the background check? This is how guilty people act, not those with nothing to hide.

I decided to stick my neck out and make some predictions because I can no longer see a path to confirmation for Brett Kavanaugh. Could I be wrong? Hell, yes. Nothing surprises me any more.

Finally, I no longer expect a hearing on Thursday; sometime in the next 24-48 hours, Kavanaugh, like the old school Catholic he claims to be, will practice the withdrawal method and exit stage right.

LATE AFTERNOON UPDATE: Mitch McConnell gave a speech blaming Democrats for the Kavanaugh nomination going haywire. I’m not sure if this means he’s digging his heels in and plans to fight or if this is the prelude to cutting Kavanaugh loose. If Republicans are thinking rationally, they’ll cut their losses. I still don’t think the Turtle is willing to jump off a cliff to save Kavanaugh but if he does, Democrats win politically.

Stay tuned.

The Kavanaugh Mess: Reckless Disregard

Senate Republicans aren’t the only ones willing to do anything to secure a right-wing majority on the Supreme Court. Enter Ed Whelan who is a major player in the DC conservative legal establishment as well as a friend and associate of Federalist Society honcho Leonard Leo and a certain sleazy Supreme wannabe, Brett Kavanaugh.

In what could be described as death by twitter, Whelan posted a wildly conjectural thread that has already been deleted, followed by an apology to the man he libeled. Here is Josh Marshall’s distillation of the excised thread:

Ed Whelan, a key player in DC’s conservative judicial establishment, posted a lengthy twitter thread in which he made a highly conjectural argument that the accusation against Brett Kavanaugh is actually a case of mistaken identification and that Prof. Blasey Ford’s alleged attacker was actually a classmate of Kavanaugh’s named Chris Garrett.

Garrett is now a middle school teacher in Georgia and had actually signed a letter which a number of Kavanaugh’s classmates sent to the Senate in July attesting to Kavanaugh’s character. Blasey Ford put out a statement tonight stating categorically that she knew both Kavanaugh and Garrett at the time and that there is no way she could have mistaken one for the other.

It’s worth stepping back and contemplating just how wild and reckless an action this was. There’s really no way for me to capture the zaniness of Whelan’s argument. You can read it here. Suffice it to say it’s far-fetched an makes the most serious of accusations based on the flimsiest of conjectures.

There are two key pieces of context that are critical to understand. Whelan didn’t just spin out some hypotheticals. He clearly pointed the finger at a man who is not a public figure in any way and argued that he was likely the one who attempted to rape Blasey Ford. At the end of his thread he drew back and said he didn’t know specifically what had happened that night … but it was clear what he meant and what he was saying. This is almost certainly libelous.

The other point is that Whelan is not some random on Twitter or an eccentric but little known activist. He is close friends with Kavanaugh and Leonard Leo, the head of the Federalist Society, the group that chooses and then organizes the confirmation strategies for these nominees. Whelan is also close to Don McGahn, the White House Counsel who is formally in charge of shepherding Kavanaugh’s nomination through the Senate. Whelan is part of the very top handful of activists who play in this space.

I may be a lapsed lawyer but I know libel when I see it: a private citizen was dragged into the Kavanaugh mess and accused of committing a crime without a shred of proof. It’s called reckless disregard for the truth. Whelan’s defenders might say that there’s an Absence of Malice but Paul Newman and Sally Field beg to differ.

You didn’t think I could get through a Kavanaugh mess post without, uh, posting a movie poster, did you? That’s well-nigh imposterable…

It’s time for an early edition of Separated At Birth. Here’s the side-by-side picture Whelan used to “document” his mistaken identity/doppelgänger theory:

Kavanaugh is on the right, Garrett on the left. The two look like suburban preppies who plan to pledge to a frat when they go to college. Btw, Kavanaugh is a Deke (DKE) which is one of the rowdiest and most entitled fraternities around. That explains a great deal about him.

The biggest question about Doppelgängergate is what did Kavanaugh know and when did he know it? Wingnut twitter was buzzing for days over a “revelation” that would crack the Ford-Kavanaugh case. My belief is that it’s part of a co-ordinated strategy to save Kavanaugh’s worthless ass. Former GOP operative Steve Schmidt, who knows Whelan, does too:

Thus spake a former Republican hack who has forsaken the party of Trump. Twitter giveth and twitter taketh away.

In a sane world, this would doom the Kavanaugh nomination and he would withdraw in shame over the company he keeps. In the shameless Trump era, who the hell knows? It does, however, prove the accuracy of a meme I first posted on August 8th:

UPDATE: Josh Marshall has preserved the nutbar Whelan twitter thread for posterity.

Another Fine Kavanaugh Mess: The Big Bluff

Remember when Senate Republicans were in disarray on the Kavanaugh nomination? That was so Monday. They’ve moved on to the lie, deny, and misdirect phase of the nomination process.

Last night Lawrence O’Donnell scorched Chuck Grassley and Orrin Hatch for their blatant hypocrisy:

A quick summary: Grassley and Hatch demanded that the FBI re-open its background check into Clarence Thomas to investigate Anita Hill’s charges. The Bush White House ordered the FBI to proceed. It took only a few days. The notion that checking out the credibility of Dr, Blasey’s story is “not the FBI’s thing” is another lie from a GOP ruthlessly determined to win at all costs. It’s what they do. Remember Merrick Garland.

A look at the facts behind the Thomas-Hill mess shows that Dr. Blasey is being treated worse than Anita Hill before she appeared before the Judiciary Committee. It would be hard to top the lurid questions of Hatch and former Senators Specter and Simpson. I would hope that current GOPers would at least be able to pronounce Long Dong Silver correctly. In 1991, Hatch referred to that porn performer alternately as Long Don or John Silver. I guess he was thinking of this dude:

There’s an interesting profile of Christine Blasey Ford  in the Failing New York Times. She comes off as an impressive and accomplished woman. That is exactly why Senate Republicans are trying their damnedest to make it impossible for her to testify publicly. These are the same Senators behind the Merrick Garland mess, so their protestations of fairness and compassion ring hollow.

Senate GOPers do not want a FBI background checkup because they’re afraid Brett Kavanaugh will lie to the FBI, which is a crime; just ask Mike Flynn. Kavanaugh has already lied to the Senate, after all.

The mere fact that Dr. Blasey is willing to speak to the FBI enhances her credibility Besides, the only time people make up sexual assault allegations is when there’s something in it for them, and that’s still exceedingly rare. There’s nothing but heartache, humiliation, and harassment in this for Dr. Blasey.

On a human level, I understand why Christine Blasey Ford would not want to testify. I hope she does because the rushed GOP timeline/deadline is a big bluff. Here’s how Slate’s Jim Newell, who is one of the savviest observers of Congress, ended his piece this morning:

Republican leaders didn’t want Ford to testify in a public hearing in the first place, and they still don’t. Her credible testimony, with or without additional witnesses or background investigations, is the one and only fatal threat to Kavanaugh’s nomination. As one very prominent Republican said Wednesday morning, “if she shows up and makes a credible showing, that will be very interesting and we’ll have to make a decision.”

I would hate to be in Christine Blasey Ford’s shoes right now. Her attorney’s request for the FBI to look into the Kavanaugh mess is not only reasonable, but is in line with the Hill precedent. Public testimony will be painful BUT if she folds her hand, Kavanaugh will be confirmed. It’s unclear that the Republicans have a backup plan if she agrees to Grassley’s extortionate terms. It’s up to her. I hope she calls their big bluff.

That concludes another post chock-full-o-old movie references. I had hoped to post an image of Laurel and Hardy cutting neckties but could not find one. This will have to do:

Substitute Orrin Hatch or Chuck Grassley for Ollie and you get the idea.

Here’s hoping the last laugh will be on Senate Republicans:

UPDATE: Team Blasey Ford has called the GOP’s bluff. The fluidity index, if there is such a thing, on this story remains high.

The Kavanaugh Mess

I was almost hesitant to write about the Kavanaugh mess because the situation is so fluid. It’s like confidently predicting where a tropical system will strike when it’s off the coast of West Africa. Those who are convinced that a judiciary committee vote will take place on Thursday *could* be right. As of this writing, delay is in the air. And delay is not Brett Kavanaugh’s friend.

I was relieved when Christine Blasey Ford came forward on Sunday. I had gotten tired of the Feinstein bashing. She was between a rock and a hard place: a constituent (her boss) had requested that her identity remain confidential and Team Feinstein was trying to honor their commitment to her. Politics *should* be about people and people’s wishes should be respected; otherwise we’re just as bad as the Republicans.

Ms. Ford’s desire to avoid the inevitable blood-letting is completely understandable as is her decision to come forward when the press was hot on her trail. There were no easy answers for Team Feinstein and I’m glad that Ms. Ford and her lawyer have praised them. Let’s leave those process-based recriminations to the Republicans and move on.

The GOP’s original strategy was to issue that preposterous “Brett didn’t rape me” letter and hope that Ms. Ford would not testify. Her attorney has now stated that she’s willing to do so. A note on the GOP letter: these are not Kavanaugh’s “classmates:” he went to an all-boys school.

As of this writing, it’s unclear what will happen with the judiciary committee. It’s politically dangerous for them to proceed without hearing Ms. Ford when even Kellyanne Conway thinks she “should not be ignored.” I’m inclined to believe that the temporary senior senator from Arizona will not Flake out on his pledge to withhold his committee vote without hearing Ms. Ford. He’s made some fine speeches in the past BUT this is the first time he’s promised to do something, so I’ll take him at his word. For now. I told you things were fluid.

Delay is the Democrats’ friend and Kavanaugh’s enemy. The heavy-handed attacks on Ford are politically perilous when regime change in the Senate is suddenly in play. I realize that hardcore Trumpers don’t care about alienating suburban women, but they should. The gender gap in the 2018 midterms will be something to behold. Politically, the Kavanaugh mess is win-win for Democrats. Cynical but true.

The Kavanaugh mess has revived memories of Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearings, which were re-opened to hear Anita Hill. Kavanaugh is in a much worse position than Thomas whose hearings had gone well. Nobody accused Clarence Thomas of lying to the senate or of having a gambling problem. Kavanaugh’s baggage is like a steamer trunk that’s weighing him down. I haven’t even mentioned his time as Ken Starr’s designated leaker or as a political hack on W’s staff. In a rational world, his baggage would sink him but this is the Trump era where a president* obstructs justice in broad daylight then brags about it on twitter.

If, like Brett Kavanaugh, I were a betting man, I’d wager on Kavanaugh being confirmed by the senate. Right-wingers have been waiting a long time to replace a swing vote and secure a conservative majority on the Supreme Court. It could, however, be a phyrric victory that results in Republicans losing both houses of Congress. Defending Brett Kavanaugh on the stump will be just as unpleasant as these confirmation hearings.

Repeat after me: the situation is fluid. Anyone who tells you that they’re certain what will happen should be drug tested or polygraphed.

Nothing is written

Hurricane Season Blues

Florence is a charmingly old-fashioned name. I don’t recall ever knowing a Florence or calling anyone Flo. The name is unlikely to make a comeback: Hurricane Florence is a dangerous system that appears to be the IT storm of the 2018 hurricane season.

It’s natural for people in New Orleans to compare the storm to Hurricane Katrina. I did so myself on the tweeter tube the other day:

There’s another severe past storm whose name is being dropped. Florence’s projected path is eerily reminiscent of 1989’s Hurricane Hugo; another storm with a charmingly old-fashioned name that was anything but charming.

I have a friend who does rescue work who is sounding the alarm about Florence:

Don’t fuck around with this storm, y’all, especially if you’re in a coastal area. The storm surge is potentially horrific. Leave as early as you can so you can Flo with the contra-flow on the interstate.

I posted the picture of the Insult Comedian’s obscene antics in Puerto Rico last fall as a reminder of his administration’s failures after Hurricane Maria. He, of course, thinks they did totally awesome:

“I think that Puerto Rico was an incredible, unsung success. I actually think it is one of the best jobs that’s ever been done with respect to what this is all about,”

Nearly 3,000 people perished as a result of Maria. Trump is incapable of thinking everything associated with him isn’t the “biggest” and the “best.” It’s what con men do.

Those brown-people should just STFU and stop being uppity with Trumpberius, especially that lady mayor. #sarcasm

He’s bragging in advance about how the government will do in response to Florence:

Donald Trump has declared that his government is “absolutely, totally prepared” for Hurricane Florence, as officials and forecasters warned that the “staggering” storm is shaping up to be catastrophic and unprecedented.

It would be nice if we had a president* who didn’t sound like a tween girl at a sleepover. Totally.

What strikes me about the revived Maria discussion is that there has been NO Congressional oversight whatsoever. Despite Republican control of Congress after Katrina, there *were* hearings. After Maria, crickets.

The lack of Congressional response is partially because of Puerto Rico’s commonwealth status BUT Republicans are afraid of the Kaiser of Chaos pitching a hissy fit. They seem to think that a nasty tweet will smite them dead. Their political cowardice seems poised to send them into the wilderness after the midterms. They’ll wish they’d risked the online wrath of Trump.

Heckuva job, GOP.

The last word goes to Neil Young and Roxy Music:

 

No More Mr. Nice Judge

I wrote an acronym laced post last month called GOP SCOTUS SOP. My point was that the GOP stresses “the nice guy narrative” when selling their Supreme Court nominees. It’s a way of balancing the harshness of their views with a dollop of niceness; by gosh, by golly. Here’s what I said about Brett Kavanaugh:

I hereby stipulate that Kavanaugh does not pull the wings off flies, walks little old ladies across the street, and does not beat his wife or children. Hereinafter I will call him Mr. Nice Judge. None of that matters. His views and experience are what matters. And that’s the problem with this nominee. His years as a senior aide to George W. Bush have given him the most expansive position on executive power imaginable. As far as Mr. Nice Judge is concerned, the Oval One is an elected dictator who can do whatever the hell he wants, whenever the hell he wants to.

That is, of course, why the Kaiser of Chaos nominated Kavanaugh. He sees him as a human get-out-of-jail-free card, or as a one-judge cavalry who will ride in to save the day when Trump’s wagons are circled. Somebody has to keep the Insult Comedian out of an orange jump suit, after all. That look, however, would have the virtue of matching his spray tanned mug and the dead nutria pelt atop his head.

At the first day of his confirmation hearing, Kavanaugh played Mr. Nice Judge by nattering on about coaching his daughter’s basketball team. Then the mask slipped:

Here’s Mr. Guttenberg’s side of the story:

The White House claimed that security intervened to separate the two men without any prompting by the nominee, but the damage was done. The Mr. Nice Judge smiley face image was shattered and replaced with the frown of Judge Republican Hack. That’s what Brett Kavanaugh really is: a political hack, a partisan political operative in judicial drag.

What would it have cost Kavanaugh to shake Guttenberg’s hand and say, “sorry for your loss” before walking away? Nothing. It’s also what a genuine Mr. Nice Judge would have done. The rude fucker didn’t even offer “hope and prayers.”

Lawrence O’Donnell nailed Mr. Nice Judge to the wall on The Last Word:

“I had high hopes for Brett Kavanaugh. High hopes that he would find Fred Guttenberg in the audience and just shake hands with him, say something sympathetic to a grieving father in his opening remarks, perhaps, but he didn’t,” O’Donnell said. “He could easily have just added a sentence or two. That’s the most it would take to his opening remarks. He didn’t say a word about Fred Guttenberg or Fred’s daughter Jamie.”

If you thought Lawrence would get the last word, you’re wrong. The look on Brett Kavanaugh’s face when Fred Guttenberg approached him evoked one of Richard Thompson’s most sarcastic songs. It centers on a chance meeting and a handshake:

Repeat after me:

INSTANT UPDATE: