Category Archives: Law/Justice

Of Dictator Coddling

The MSM is fond of calling everything about the Trump administration* unprecedented. In many cases, they’re right: to use the most obvious example, past presidents did not publicly trash the FBI. JFK and LBJ loathed J Edgar Hoover but the latter reappointed him based on the pragmatic Johnsonian notion that he’d “rather have him inside the tent pissing out than outside pissing in.” Besides, like his hero FDR, Lyndon enjoyed the gossip J Edgar Hee-Haw shared with him.

The notion that Trumpian Saudi coddling is unprecedented is, to use the Insult Comedian’s favorite phrase, fake news. In dealing with the medieval Saudi family dictatorship, oil has always been the decisive factor, not human rights. When he wasn’t coddling the Shah of Iran as president, Jimmy Carter was coddling the Saudis. Despite his sincere commitment to human rights, Carter sold arms to the Saudi family dictatorship. Repeat after me:

The presidents Bush were noted Saudi coddlers as well. Who among us can forget the image of W and holding hands with then crown prince, later King Abdullah?

One might even call that image Abdullah and the dullard. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Back to the whole unprecedented thing. While American dictator coddling goes way back, Trump has taken it to heights unseen since the Cold War. Ronald Reagan’s UN Ambassador, Jeane Kirkpatrick, drew a distinction between authoritarian and totalitarian regimes. According to Jeane and Ron, the former rocked and the latter sucked. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a distinction without a difference, but it was classic Cold Warrior doctrine.

The tragedy of Saudi dissident/WaPo columnist, Jamal Khashoggi, illustrates how far gone the Trump regime is in its “human rights don’t matter” policy. Trump has been dancing around the issue for day, he has even passed on a theory from Saudi King Salman that “rogue killers” are behind the Khashoggi murder instead of Jared’s pal, Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, hereinafter MBS.

In part, the Khashoggi affair has captured the world’s attention because of its whodunit aspect. The possibility that his iWatch captured what happened has excited geeks everywhere, but the real importance of this tragedy is that the president’s* “the media is the enemy of the people” rhetoric has given a green light to dictators to kill their journalistic enemies. Heckuva job, Trumpy.

The only upside of the Khashoggi affair is that it has ended MBS’ reign as the IT dictator. There’s always one: even Bashar al-Assad had a brief stint as a Westernized IT dictator before he became the chemical weapons-using Butcher of Damascus.

The best thing I’ve read about MBS as the fallen Prince Charming is by Jim Rutenberg in the Failing New York Times:

The embrace between the American establishment and the leader known as M.B.S. was set to continue in Riyadh later this month at a business conference hosted by Crown Prince Mohammed. The sponsors, partners and participants of the conference — known informally as “Davos In The Desert” — included a number of media companies: CNBC, The New York Times, Bloomberg, The Los Angeles Times, The Financial Times, The Economist, CNN and Fox Business Network.

With the exception of Fox, which is reviewing its participation, all of those organizations pulled out as the Khashoggi story climbed most-viewed article lists and drew cable coverage. The story’s popularity was helped along by its thriller-like qualities, which included the allegation that the journalist’s body was dismembered with the aid of a bone saw before it was removed from the consulate.

And suddenly the “M.B.S.” moniker took on a grim new meaning among the plugged-in set of Washington: Mister Bone Saw.

That sounds like a nickname that could have been used on The Sopranos. I doubt, however, that slain dissident’s corpse will be cut up at the Istanbul equivalent of Satriale’s Pork Store. Life continues to imitate The Sopranos even in the Muslim world.

There’s another worrisome aspect of this story: MBS’ close relationship with the Trumper Princeling, Jared Kushner. There are rumors of bribes in the form of Saudi loans to Slumlord Jared’s teetering real estate empire. Barrels of Saudi oil money can definitely grease the wheels in the most corrupt administration in American history.

These are tough times for those of us who believe in the Wilson/FDR/Carter emphasis on human rights around the world. Those three leaders did not always practice what they preached, but the Current Occupant could care less about human rights. John Bolton’s hobby as National Insecurity Adviser has been bashing and abandoning the UN Human Rights Council, after all.

All of the Insult Comedian’s comments about Saudi Arabia have been tinged with envy. He recently “joked” about America’s having a president for life some day. The idea of a hereditary Trump family dictatorship excites him even more than conning the suckers at his next campaign rally. He’s like a toddler with a new toy. One could say that we’ve gone from dictator coddlers to dictator-envying toddlers. Repeat after me: from coddlers to toddlers.

I eagerly await the next twist in the Khashoggi murder story. I dread the next twist in the Trump dictator coddling story.

Let’s close this post on a lighter note. The last word goes to The Beatles:

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

UPDATE: The Saudis have their cover story. It looks as if they’re going to claim that Khasshogi’s died in an unauthorized interrogation gone wrong. Since Team Trump is applying the Russia Rules to the Saudis, the White House will buy whatever they’re selling even if the story is ridiculous.

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:

Donald Trump Is A Criminal

I doubt if anyone is surprised that I think Donald Trump is a criminal. I suspect most of you reading this would concur. The post title is still totally beautiful as either a teenybopper or the Current Occupant would say.

The White House has dismissed the epic New York Times story as “boring.” A Trump mouthpiece has threatened them with a defamation law suit. Never gonna happen, my friend. You know the Times’ lawyers went over the story carefully since they proclaimed that Trump had committed fraud to get where he is today. The NYT has better lawyers than Trump; probably because they pay their bills.

We already knew that everything about Donald Trump is phony. The Times story verifies that his origin story as a semi-self made man is a big fat lie. Many of us never believed it but the proof is in the pudding. One might even call this a sticky pudding…

The work done by reporters David Barstow, Susanne Craig, and Russ Buettner is likely to win a Pulitzer Prize. Congratulations in advance, y’all.

The story is based on Fred Trump’s tax returns, which proves conclusively that tax forms matter;  as David Corn has put it for the last few years:

A tweet  from former Poppy Bush speechwriter and Commentary Magazine scion, John Podhoretz caught my eye yesterday:

That’s because he was, Poddy. He was a film noir villain who repeatedly bailed his dumbshit son out of trouble.

It’s unclear where this will lead BUT the game is afoot. The New York state authorities seem to be interested in following the money. Happy hunting.

Repeat after me: Donald Trump is a criminal.

The last word goes to David Bowie:

The Kavanaugh Mess: Red Red Whine & Prolific Pukers

The Kavanaugh Mess is hurtling towards a messy and unsatisfying conclusion regardless of which way the vote goes. There are contradictory reports as to how thorough the FBI’s background check reboot will be. There seem to be gaps in the investigation that make rumors of an early wrap-up unnerving. It is also possible that Kavanaugh and CBF will be the last people interviewed, which is how these things usually work. We shall see.

On the positive side, Vanity Fair’s Chris Smith reports that the FBI is determined to conduct a genuine investigation and that Director Chris Wray is just as likely to ask for an extension as to finish things up hastily. The attitude in the Bureau is reflected in the article’s title: The FBI Is Not Going To Be Donald Trump’s Patsy. Let’s hope so.

Charlie Pierce has an excellent piece about Kavanaugh’s background as a Republican ratfucker, Charlie’s conclusion lines up with my own: once a ratfucker, always a ratfucker.

 

That’s RF for Rat Fink but who among us can resist a well-executed cartoon?

I remain fascinated by how Republican men think that shouting = truth-telling. Brett Kavanaugh did a lot of the former and precious little of the latter last Thursday. The best analysis I’ve seen of his mendaciously shouty testimony is by Nathan J. Robinson at Current Affairs. He proves that, try as he might, Kav cannot hide his Lyin’ Eyes:

I know my affection for the Eagles is controversial in some circles but that’s a brilliant song, y’all. I may just raise my voice, Judge Bro style, if you disagree.

Speaking of music, I missed the UB40 money quote in the NYT piece about Kav’s college friend Chad Ludlington:

He said that the altercation happened after a UB40 concert on Sept. 25, when he and a group of people went to Demery’s and were drinking pints. At one point, they were sitting near a man who, they thought, resembled Ali Campbell, the lead singer of UB40.

“We’re trying to figure out if it’s him,” he said.

When the man noticed Mr. Ludington, Mr. Kavanaugh and the others looking at him, he objected and told them to stop it, adding an expletive, Mr. Ludington said.

Mr. Kavanaugh cursed, he said, and then “threw his beer at the guy.”

“The guy swung at Brett,” Mr. Ludington continued. At that point, Mr. Dudley “took his beer and smashed it into the head of the guy, who by now had Brett in an embrace. I then tried to pull Chris back, and a bunch of other guys tried to pull the other guy back. I don’t know what Brett was doing in the melee, but there was blood, there was glass, there was beer and there was some shouting, and the police showed up.”

This has led to much Red Red Whining about the unfairness of Kav’s barroom pugilism being the subject of public debate in 2018. The point is not that Judge Bro was a heavy drinker then, it’s that he’s lied about it under oath now. My hunch is that Kav thinks that if he confirms his boozy, boozy ways, more people will believe CBF’s story. That’s the problem with taking the categorical denial route.

FYI: UB40 has been engaged in an epic fight between the Campbell brothers over the band’s name. They might be willing to stage a re-enactment of this fight with Robin Campbell playing the part of Judge Bro. This song would clearly be involved:

Hmm, I wonder if Kav went after the man he thought was Ali Campbell because rumor has it that he likes beer, not wine?

Along the same lines, here’s a video the people at the Late Show with Stephen Colbert put together:

Back to Kavanaugh’s diminishing credibility. NBC News has reported that Kav knew about the New Yorker’s Debbie Ramirez story before it went public, and tried to organize a text message defense to the story. He told the committee that he didn’t know about the story until it was published. Once a ratfucker, always a ratfucker.

Remember Kav’s equivocation as to whether the character Bart O’Kavanaugh in Mark Judge’s book is based on him? The Failing New York Times has published a story that includes a 1983 letter that Judge Bro wrote and signed Bart. This Bro Epistle contains this memorable passage:

In a neatly written postscript, he added: Whoever arrived first at the condo should “warn the neighbors that we’re loud, obnoxious drunks with prolific pukers among us. Advise them to go about 30 miles…”

That’s a pistol of an epistle, y’all.

Finally, after several weeks of startling self-control by his standards, the Insult Comedian engaged in a bit of victim mocking last night in Elvis country:

This is disgusting even for this president*. It’s also harming, not helping, Kav’s kause as the undecided Senators have denounced these comments.

As if in a race to the bottom, Trump also implied that Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy has a drinking problem. Here’s hoping that Trump’s loose lips sink Kav’s ship.

There will surely be more developments over the course of the day. Stay tuned.

Repeat after me: Once a ratfucker, always a ratfucker.

The Kavanaugh Mess: Monday Roundup

I vowed to take a break from the Kavanaugh mess until mid-week but like Michael Corleone in Godfather III:

I would never, however, wear a brown cardigan. Brown is not my color and who the hell wears a sweater in New Orleans?

The Kavanaugh nomination remains in limbo. It looks as if irony is not dead: the White House appears to be “rigging” the FBI investigation. Don McGahn *is* Kav’s friend so we shouldn’t be surprised. The only surprise is that Kavanaugh speaks to a non-Ivy League lawyer. It’s tolerant of him.

This weekend, I had several discussions on social media about what Kavanaugh’s small lies mean. While a stack of small lies do not necessarily add up to a perjury charge, they do damage Kav’s credibility, which *should* be important to a Supreme Court Justice.

Having said that, I agree that Kavanaugh’s wide array of lies under oath should be part of the investigation. There’s even an article in Politico about that very thing. Small lies often lead to big lies. I’m more concerned with stopping the nomination than prosecution since several of the undecided Senators have said lying under oath would be disqualifying. Whether or not they mean it remains to be seen.

Speaking of Tiger Beat on the Potomac, they have an  interesting piece about GOP strategy. Kavanaugh is getting conflicting advice as to whether he should go on the attack or lay low. I think he would be wise to dial it back since the fix may well be in. A certain rumpled Fascist fuck is quoted as saying:

“There’s no walking this thing back,” Steve Bannon, the former chief White House strategist, said in an interview Sunday night. “You get Kavanaugh, you’re going to get turnout. You get turnout, you’re going to get victory. This is march or die.”

Everything Bannon says sounds like it’s out of a World War II movie such as Operation Burma or The Sands of Iwo Jima.. Brett Kavanaugh is a far cry from Errol Flynn or John Wayne. Now that I think of it, he carried on like Flynn and drank like the Duke. Party on, Brett.

Speaking of drinking, regular reader Carroll tweeted an article at me about Kavanaugh’s boozy, boozy ways.

In addition to the cool story, I can add Nando to my acronym collection. It sounds a bit like NANU NANU. I wonder what Mork would make of the cosmic clusterfuck that is the Kavanaugh confirmation process? It’s a real suspender snapper.

In other Kavanaughpalooza news, the Guardian takes a closer took at Kavanaugh’s relationship with the notorious Porn Judge, Alex Kozinski. Kozinski used to serve as a feeder judge to his mentor Anthony Kennedy until the Porn Judge deservedly fell prey to the #MeToo movement. Kavanaugh has denied any knowledge of Kozinski’s lewd and lascivious ways, which many, including Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick, find hard to believe. Dahlia clerked on the 9th Circuit and was well-aware of what the Porn Judge was up to even though she did not work for him.

It’s time to bring this closer to home. My Bayou Brief publisher Lamar White Jr. wrote about the reaction of Gret Stet Senators Bill Cassidy and John Neely Kennedy to the Kavanaugh mess. Cue Groucho and the You Bet Your Life duck for the GOP’s magic word:

As far as I’m concerned, both solons are overcompensating for their Democratic pasts by being strident Kavanaugh supporters. My magic word is malakatude.

Finally, a tweet that popped up after the Ford-Kavanaugh hearing. Some dude noticed that Kav makes possum faces.

In Mark Judge’s book there was a character based on his prep school pal, so we’ve gone from Bart O’Kavanaugh to Brett Opossum.

It’s time for me to stop playing possum and give the last word to the greatest opossum in American history, Pogo:

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.

The Kavanaugh Mess: Like A Virgin

In the immortal words of Graham Parker, “I thought I was right, I was wrong” about a McConnell knifing leading to a Kavanaugh withdrawal to spend more time with his calendars. It remains unclear if they have the votes to confirm: Susan Collins seems to be snowed by this jerk but Lisa Murkowski appears to be genuinely undecided. In addition to concerns about Kavanaugh’s views on Native issues, there’s a huge #MeToo brouhaha back home in Alaska.

The post title is, of course, based on comments made by the skeezy nominee to Martha McCallum of Fox New who actually asked some tough questions:

We’re talking about an allegation of sexual assault. I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone. I did not have sexual intercourse or anything close to sexual intercourse in high school or for many years thereafter. And the girls from the schools I went to and I were friends —

It was McCallum who dropped the V word:

MS. MacCALLUM: So you’re saying that through all these years that are in question, you were a virgin?

JUDGE KAVANAUGH: That’s correct.

MS. MacCALLUM: Never had sexual intercourse with anyone in high school?

JUDGE KAVANAUGH: Correct.

MS. MacCALLUM: And through what years in college since we’re probing into your personal life here?

JUDGE KAVANAUGH: Many years after. I’ll leave it at that.

There’s a logical fallacy in the Like A Virgin defense. It does not preclude sexual assault. It’s not uncommon for sexual predators to be “virgins” when it comes to consensual sex.

The other problem with the Like A Virgin defense is that Kavanaugh pledged Deek (DKE) and I suspect that virgins are barred by that rowdy fraternity. In a NYT story about the charges that Kavanaugh flashed and humiliated Debbie Ramirez, a schoolmate described the Supremes wannabe as follows:

One woman remembers Judge Kavanaugh’s wearing a leather football helmet while drinking and approaching her on campus the night he was tapped for DKE. She described his grabbing his crotch, hopping on one leg and chanting: “I’m a geek, I’m a geek, I’m a power tool. When I sing this song, I look like a fool.”

That’s a far cry from Boola Boola or The Whiffenpoof Song.

A fellow Yalie disputed the Like A Virgin defense on the tweeter tube:

Brett Kavanaugh lie? Never, he said in a voice dripping with sarcasm. Mendacity and sexual assault are two things he has in common with the sexist horndog who nominated him.

Speaking of the Insult Comedian, he went after Debbie Ramirez after being laughed at by the UN General Assembly:

“And [Ramirez] said, ‘well it might not be him’ and there were gaps and she said she was totally inebriated and she was all messed up. And she doesn’t know it was him, but it might’ve been him. ‘Oh gee, let’s not make him a Supreme Court judge because of that.’ This is a con game being played by the Democrats.”

The First Flim-Flam Man certainly knows about con games. His presidency* is an ongoing one, after all.

Ms. Ramirez is Puerto Rican. The fact that Trump attacked her is not exactly a surprise. Perhaps he totally confused her with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz. “Them people” all look alike to bigots like Donald Trump. Totally.

Another appalling Kavanaugh story popped up in the Failing NYT, the “Renate alumni” story. It involves high school yearbook comments by Kavanaugh and his krewe of drunken, rapey jocks. Here’s what an old pal and fellow original NOLA blogger had to say about this chilling episode:

A few more things about the Kavanaugh interview. First, it’s a sign of how worried GOPers are. Supreme Court nominees do NOT give teevee interviews. Second, Kavanaugh’s defense came off as robotic. It involved spewing out sound bites likely cooked up by former Roger Ailes enabler, Hannity pal, and current Trump lackey Bill Shine. Here’s one of them:

That’s right, Kavanaugh went from Like A Virgin to Like A Robot in one fell swoop, or in his case, one drunken stupor.

There’s one more aspect of tomorrow’s hearing that’s so squirrelly that they should give Judiciary Committee GOPers an acorn. They’ve hired outside counsel so Chuck Grassley, Orrin Hatch, John Neely Kennedy, and their ilk have fewer opportunities to make Cavemanic comments.

The outside counsel, Rachel Mitchell, is an experienced sex crimes prosecutor in Maricopa County, Arizona. But here’s how Chinless Mitch described her:

A female assistant? What is she: a waitress? Does the Turtle plan to tip her? She’s an experienced lawyer for fuck’s sake. Can’t you lot even show some respect for a woman on your side?

Precious little is known about Ms. Mitchell. Josh Marshall unearthed an interview she did with a far right “fundamental Baptist” publication. Also, why a lawyer who prosecutes sex crimes against children? The hearing is not a trial, it’s a job interview. The only children involved are GOP solons.

I have a hunch that they were unable to find a woman lawyer in DC who was willing to do Senate Republicans’ dirty work. It’s time to recycle one of my favorite recent lines:

The last word goes to Madonna with a song that Brett Kavanaugh surely drank to during his Yale salad days:

INSTANT UPDATE: While I was writing this post, Michael Avenatti revealed the identity of his client and demanded an FBI investigation:

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.

Your President* Speaks: The Boy In The Bubble

I originally planned to write at length about the Kavanaugh mess but it’s still as fluid as hell. I’m not into trying to nail Jello to the wall, so let’s see what our idiot president* has been up to. (For some obscure reason a high school friend of mine nicknamed a classmate, Jellohead. It had nothing to do with Jello shots, which we had never heard of at that point. To paraphrase Brett Kavanaugh, “what happens at San Mateo High, stays at San Mateo High. That’s been a good thing for all of us.” Party on, Brett,)

That may have been a record-breaking parenthetical digression. I constantly outdo myself in that regard.

Let’s take a look at the low light of an interview the Kaiser of Chaos gave to The Hill, which is not connected with his arch-nemesis Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The first quote *may* be the dumbest thing Trump has said yet and that’s saying a lot:

“If I did one mistake with Comey, I should have fired him before I got here. I should have fired him the day I won the primaries “I should have fired him right after the convention, say I don’t want that guy. Or at least fired him the first day on the job. I would have been better off firing him or putting out a statement that I don’t want him there when I get there.”

I know there’s a lot of competition for stupidest Trump comment ever, but he’s never claimed pre-election appointment powers before. Does he think Barack Obama would have listened to him? Perhaps he could borrow the Tardis from the Doctor and do some time traveling. Of course, now that the Doctor is a woman, he’d never ask a skirt. Delusional thy name is Donald.

Let’s move on to an inside the White House piece by Gabriel Sherman at Vanity Fair’s Hive.  Sherman’s sources informed him that the “First Daughter” has urged daddy to “cut bait” and dump Kavanaugh. I had no idea that Ivanka was an angler. Maybe she should go fishing with former Veep Dick Cheney. It would be entertaining if Cheney’s line got tangled in Ivanka’s blond locks.

Here’s what Trumpberius is reported to have said about his lousy Supreme Court nominee:

“‘He’s a Bush guy, why would I put myself out there defending him?’”

A classic bit of Trump loyalty if I’ve ever seen one. He ignored advice from Senate GOPers to pick a nominee with less baggage so this is his screw-up.

The Buckpasser-in-Chief has come up with his story if the GOP loses the midterms bigly:

Even before the Kavanaugh crisis, Trump has been worried about Republicans’ declining fortunes, and he’s been finding ways to shift the blame. Trump told a friend in the Oval Office last week that it would be Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan’s fault if Republicans lost the House and the Senate, according to a person familiar with the conversation. “This is the election about Ryan and McConnell—it’s about those guys,” Trump said. Trump referred to his 2020 campaign as “the real election.” “It’s pure Trump. He has to come up with a way he’s not responsible if Republicans lose,” a former West Wing staffer said.

I’ve heard of shape-shifters but Trump is a blame-shifter. It’s a new one on me. It’s what happens when you live in a bubble.

I thought there was going to be a red wave. You mean the president* was lying about that? #sarcasm. His more gullible followers apparently believe the Insult Comedian’s red wave shtick and are as low energy as Jeb Bush about the midterms according to an internal RNC poll obtained by Bloomberg News.

Donald Trump is a past master at creating his own reality. To some extent, all presidents live in a bubble but this president* has always lived in one. The last word goes to Paul Simon:

Book Review: Fear by Bob Woodward

When reading a book like this, you usually learn that its subject has some redeeming characteristics. That’s never been the case with any book about Donald Trump; even Hitler liked children and dogs whereas Trump is indifferent to the former and hates the latter. Trump always comes off worse than expected. That’s the case in Fear by Bob Woodward.

The Insult Comedian and his idiotic minions have attacked the book as “fake news” and “fiction” and denounced Woodward as a tool of the Democrats. Woodward is, of course, hawkish and quite conservative: I’m unsure if he’s still a registered Republican but he used to be.

The White House has even strong-armed sources such as Jim Mattis, Rob Porter, and Gary Cohn into issuing non-denial denials. But none of them has disputed the truth of Woodward’s damning narrative. How could they?

I do not understand why Gary Cohn, who is much richer than Trump, issued such a statement. One would hope he would like to recover at least part of his good name after his time as a Trump dignity wraith. He’s also a registered Democrat who should not give a shit how the GOP does in November. Here’s my conclusion: Gary Cohn is a pussy. He should grab himself.

Yeah, I know. I used that line in my Everybody Hates Ted post. It’s too good not to recycle.

I read Fear in two days, which is fast by my standards. When the writing is excellent, I like to luxuriate in the prose. It’s not something I do when reading Woodward: he’s a plodder, not a stylist. That approach tends to *further* his credibility. Even after all the acclaim, he’s the Joe Friday of American journalism:

I guess that makes Carl Bernstein the Bill Gannon of American journalism. I’d rather be Sherman T. Potter myself…

Woodward’s book has caused the Insult Comedian to have his 19th Nervous Breakdown as president*. His frenzied tweeting makes him the book-salesman-in-chief. The book has sold 750,000 copies since its publication: I picked up one of the last copies at my local Costco on publication eve. Woodward is known for his exquisite manners, so I wonder if he plans to write the president* a thank you note. Heckuva job, Trumpy.

Fear is written in the classic Woodward voice: omniscient narration with dialogue based on his recordings. Like Tricky Dick and Omarosa, Woodward records his interviews, which is why Team Trump cannot possibly win its pissing match with the WaPo legend. Hell, they’ve lost to the dread Omaraosa.

The content of the book has been widely discussed. Woodward sticks to important subjects such as trade and national security; eschewing the gossipy approach of Michael Wolff and Omarosa. The most interesting segments involve Trump’s former lawyer John Dowd who may have violated attorney-client privilege by being so garrulous with Woodward. I’m glad he talked: we learn a lot about Dowdy’s view of the Mueller probe. I don’t agree with his take but it gives us insight into how Team Mueller operates. As a prosecutor, Bobby Three Sticks is a helluva poker player. He’s acting like he has an ace in the hole, y’all.

You can tell that Trump has not read the book or he’d understand that Woodward is fair to him. Woodward is something of a Kremlingate skeptic and buys into much of Dowd’s blather. I do not: Dowd assumes that the witnesses whose testimony he’s familiar with have told the truth to the FBI, Congress, and Grand Jury. In many cases, I assume the opposite. Ain’t no way Trump Junior didn’t lie to protect his father. Lying is in the genes.

The Trump White House is full of potty-mouthed officials. I remember when the Nixon White House Transcripts came out. People were shocked over the expletives deleted. Nobody’s shocked by all the cursing in Fear, I fear. Fuckin’ A.

My major takeaway from reading Woodward’s latest is that Trump is every bit as jaw droppingly stupid as we’ve all feared. 63 million Americans voted for a fucking moron who is incapable of admitting error or absorbing new information. I remain appalled that the many Trump officials who know that he is unfit for office have not resigned. Other than Secretary Mattis, whose continued presence may deter a deranged president* from going to war, they have no excuse for putting party and self above country.

The last word goes to Bob Woodward:

Kenna Brah Malakatude Update

I’m sure none of you have forgotten Ben Zahn who was crowned malaka of the week on Monday. Zahn took what he thought was a heroic stand for the flag and against Nike and Colin Kaepernick. Yesterday, Zahn caved and took a knee after four days as a punchline and punching bag:

“Acting upon advice of the city attorney, I have rescinded my memorandum of Sept. 5,” he said. “That memorandum divided the city and placed Kenner in a false and unflattering light on the national stage.”

<SNIP>

“I looked at what I saw happening on a national level with Nike as a whole, and I stayed to my values on that,” he said in response to a question during his brief news conference late Wednesday afternoon.

But he said he never meant to be divisive.

“This was not meant to do anything like that,” he said. “This was meant … to protect our patriot values, our fire, our police and also our taxpayers.”

It’s a pity that Mayor Kenna Brah didn’t make any sense while caving, but what can you expect from a bush league Trump? The original model doesn’t make any sense either.

Zahn conveniently neglected to mention the likelihood of litigation by the Gret Stet ACLU but the allusion to the Kenna Brah city attorney meant they knew it was a LOSER. Defending unconstitutional acts in defense of your “patriot values” is an expensive proposition.

I am convinced that another reason Zahn caved was the widespread circulation of these images on social media:

H is for Hypocrisy.

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Tears Of A Clown

Circus Sideshow by Georges Seurat.

The big local news of the week was a non-event that I alluded to yesterday: Tropical Storm Gordon. I was reasonably confident it wouldn’t pay us a visit. For whatever reason, storms in the Gulf tend to jog to the east as they approach New Orleans. I’m much more concerned when the early bullseye is to our west than on us.

The new Mayor’s team surprised me with a calm reaction to Gordon:

Mitch Landrieu was prone to overdramatize storm threats by dressing in combat-like gear and declaring unnecessary curfews. Team Cantrell played it cool. If they can transfer this mojo to other city issues, I might be less critical. I’m not holding my breath because I don’t feel like turning blue. It’s a bad look for me.

A depressing local story took place across Lake Pontchartrain in Mandeville. A synagogue was defaced with anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi graffiti. Anti-Semitism is fashionable on the alt-right and, in some quarters, the hard left. In the UK, Jeremy Corbyn has damaged Labour’s reputation as an anti-racist party with remarks such as the ones described by the Guardian’s Simon Hattenstone:

He mentions an impassioned speech made at a meeting in parliament about the history of Palestine that was “dutifully recorded by the thankfully silent Zionists who were in the audience” (audience members he presumably knew nothing about). So far so bad. But it gets worse. He goes on to say that these unnamed Zionists in the audience “clearly have two problems. One is they don’t want to study history, and secondly, having lived in this country for a very long time, probably all their lives, they don’t understand English irony either … So I think they needed two lessons, which we can perhaps help them with.”

This is classic anti-Semitism as it treats British Jews as the unassimilated OTHER. It was too much for Jewish Labourite Josh Glancy who stated categorically in the New York Times that he wouldn’t vote Labour again until Corbyn is ousted as leader. He describes Corbyn’s views as follows:

I’d always thought that if Mr. Corbyn was ever nailed down on this issue, he’d be spouting the anti-Semitism of the international left: Shadowy Zionist lobbyists. Omnipotent Rothschilds. Benjamin Netanyahu glorying in the slaughter of innocent children.

Instead we got something much closer to home. This was the anti-Semitism of Virginia Woolf and Agatha Christie. It was T.S. Eliot’s “lustreless” Bleistein puffing on his cigar and Roald Dahl insisting that “there is a trait in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity.” The comments were more redolent of the genteel Shropshire manor house where Mr. Corbyn was raised than the anticapitalist resistance movements where he forged his reputation.

Ouch. Labour’s anti-Semitism controversy has derailed efforts to oust the inept and incoherent Tory government of Theresa May. It’s a vivid illustration of how the far left and far right can converge. It’s happened before: the dread Oswald Mosley was a Labour MP before forming the British Union of Fascists.

A final note before moving on. I am staunchly anti-Netanyahu: his government’s moves against Israeli-Arabs are repugnant and amount to imposing an Apartheid regime in Israel. Having said that, anti-Netanyahu-ism shouldn’t morph into anti-Semitism. Many Jews in both the UK and the US are opposed to the current Israeli government. But even those who support it, should not be othered in their own country. Genteel bigotry is just as bad as synagogue desecrating bigotry. Now that I think of it, it’s worse: the genteel bigots should know better.

It’s time for me to dismount my sopabox and move on to this week’s theme song. The Tears Of A Clown is one of my all-time favorite records. It was written by Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, and Hank Cosby for the Miracles in 1970.  It’s one of the songs that made me into the music geek that I am today. It’s on Smokey with Pagliacci as an unindicted co-conspirator.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure. The original Miracles single and Smokey with Daryl Hall on the latter’s teevee show.

Now that we’ve wept the tears of a clown, it’s time to dry off, then jump to the break.

Continue reading

The Bayou Brief Makes Landfall

My latest piece at The Bayou Brief is a review of Landfall by Greg Meffert. Meffert was former New Orleans Mayor C Ray Nagin’s fixer. Meffert flipped on Nagin and testified against him at his 2014 corruption trial.

What’s a fixer to do after he gets out of jail? Write his memoirs, of course. Meffert has bills to pay and scores to settle, after all.  Click here for the gory details.

Your President* Speaks: So Much For The Solid South

My favorite bit from the WaPo story on the Woodward book is this beauty:

A near-constant target of withering presidential attacks was Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Trump told Porter that Sessions was a “traitor” for recusing himself from overseeing the Russia investigation, Woodward writes. Mocking Sessions’s accent, Trump added, “This guy is mentally retarded. He’s this dumb Southerner….He couldn’t even be a one-person country laywer down in Alabama.

He forgot to call him a dumb redneck or a stupid peckerwood. This confirms a story from last week wherein the Insult Comedian insults his AG:

…the President also hates his southern accent and lack of Ivy League background. He apparently tells aides that Sessions “talks like he has marbles in his mouth.”

Nice. The irony of this venom is that the ONLY decent thing Sessions has done at DOJ was to recuse himself from the Russia probe. That was NOT done voluntarily. The president* hasn’t got a clue that the recusal was MANDATORY because of Jeff Beau’s involvement on the campaign. Dumbass.

Trump is oblivious to the fact that most of his Southern supporters have thicker accents than Sessions: white suburban women are running away from him, even in Dixie.  He needs to learn how to hick it up like Gret Stet Senator John Neely Kennedy. Neely could coach him to say y’all instead of youse. Hey, Steve Bannon taught him to say populist instead of popularist. If Bannon can do it, so can Neely.

The last word goes to The Band:

 

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: