The Wires

Public Service Announcement

August 8: About to give birth? About to get a new job? Beware the poppy-seed bagel. Seriously. Washington Post: "... poppy seeds really can make you fail a drug test, both peer-reviewed scientific studies and unofficial experiments conducted by journalists have found. Because they’re derived from opium poppies, they sometimes contain traces of morphine ― not enough to get you high, obviously, but potentially enough to register on a highly sensitive drug test." The report cites several instances in which mothers lost custody of their newborns because the mothers failed routine (but outdated) drug tests.

July 13: Washington Post: "A salmonella outbreak linked to a popular Kellogg's cereal has infected 100 people, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday. The agency is urging consumers to avoid Honey Smacks, a sugary puffed wheat cereal which has been the subject of a recall by the company since mid-June. At least 30 of the 100 have been hospitalized, while no deaths have been reported, the CDC said. 'Do not eat Kellogg’s Honey Smacks cereal of any size package or with any "best if used by" date,' it wrote."

A Toke Before They Croak. Guardian: "For decades, seafood lovers have struggled with a confounding ethical dilemma: how do you balance out the delight of a lobster dinner with the discomfort of boiling one alive, generally regarded as the proper way to prepare the crustacean delicacy?... Sedating lobsters by blowing marijuana smoke on to them sounds like the type of idea you might come up with while smoking a bit of grass yourself, but Charlotte Gill, owner of Charlotte’s Legendary Lobster Pound in Southwest Harbor, is convinced it can help to ease the pain lobsters might feel while being boiled alive. An animal rights supporter who has owned the restaurant for seven years, Gill told the Mount Desert Island publication that she’s long struggled with the ethical implications of her line of work. After conducting an experiment in which she 'hot-boxed' a particularly aggressive lobster named Roscoe, she came away convinced the high significantly mellowed him out. 'The animal is already going to be killed,' she said in the interview. 'It is far more humane to make it a kinder passage.'”

 

Here's the Los Angeles Times' Emmy page. ...

... New York Times: "'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' won five [Emmys] on Monday night, including best comedy series, and “Game of Thrones” picked up the award for best drama. HBO and Netflix tied with 23 Emmys each. See a full list of winners here. Talk of #MeToo was largely absent from this year’s ceremony, with no one mentioning Leslie Moonves from the stage. Read our critic’s review of the show, which he said lacked diversity. See red carpet photos."

Guardian: "A pair of ruby red slippers, produced for Judy Garland to wear in the Wizard of Oz, have been discovered by police over a decade after they were stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minneapolis [sic, Minnesota]. The discovery ends years of intrigue and scandal surrounding the whereabouts of the shoes. The slippers were recovered during an undercover operation in Minneapolis, the FBI revealed in a news conference today. Their lead came in summer 2017 when an individual approached the company that insured the slippers, claiming he had information about the shoes and how they could be returned. It quickly became clear he was attempting to extort the slippers’ owners and police were contacted.

You can see why Trump is insanely jealous of this guy:

There will be an answer. Best #CarpoolKaraoke evah:

     ... You're welcome. ...

... Matthew Dessem of Slate: "The only fly in the ointment is the knowledge that, demographically speaking, this video will make a lot of horrible people happy."

Constant Comments

 

Editor-in-Chief:
Mrs. Bea McCrabbie

Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. -- H. L. Mencken (probably)

Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one. -- A. J. Liebling

Sunday
Sep232018

The Commentariat -- Sept. 24, 2018

Afternoon Update:

Elisha Fieldstadt & Adam Reiss of NBC News, & the AP: "A psychologist testified during Bill Cosby's sentencing hearing Monday that he is a 'sexually violent predator,' saying evidence shows that he can't stop himself from violating women and would probably do so again if he could. The hearing at a courtroom outside Philadelphia comes five months after Cosby was convicted for sexual assault against Andrea Constand, 45."

Axios: "President Trump will meet with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein at the White House on Thursday, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a Monday statement.... 'At the request of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, he and President Trump had an extended conversation to discuss the recent news stories. Because the President is at the United Nations General Assembly and has a full schedule with leaders from around the world, they will meet on Thursday when the President returns to Washington, D.C.[,' Sanders said in the statement.” ...

... Michael Shear & Julie Davis of the New York Times: "Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, was considering resigning on Monday, days after private discussions were revealed in which he talked about invoking the 25th Amendment to remove President Trump from office and secretly taping him to expose chaos in the administration. Over the weekend, Mr. Rosenstein called a White House official and said he was considering quitting, and a person close to the White House said he was resigning. On Monday morning, Mr. Rosenstein was on his way to the White House to meet with Mr. Trump’s chief of staff, John F. Kelly." ...

     ... Devlin Barrett, et al., of the Washington Post: "Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein has told White House officials he is willing to resign in the wake of revelations that he once suggested secretly recording the president, but it is unclear whether the resignation has been accepted, according to White House officials. One Justice Department official said Rosenstein was on his way to the White House Monday and is preparing to be fired. But the official said Rosenstein is not resigning.... Amid the conflicting accounts of whether Rosenstein would resign, be fired, or still be in his job at the end of the day, it was clear that his position at the Justice Department had never been more tenuous. One Trump adviser said the president has not been pressuring Rosenstein to leave the job, but his resignation was a topic of private discussions all weekend. The person said Rosenstein had expressed to others that he should resign because he 'felt very compromised' and the controversy hurt his ability to oversee the Russia probe, according to a person close to Trump." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: If Rosenstein goes & the dominos fall, we can thank the New York Times for its largely-misleading report about Rosenstein's supposed 25th-Amendment chatter. (The Times stuck by its story, but Washington Post & NBC News reporters largely discredited the story.) We can also thank the Times for exaggerating the Clinton e-mail! story, turning it from what it really was -- another case of Hillary's customary imperious disregard for rules that apply to others -- into a story of possible criminal malfeasance.

Kate Riga of TPM: "... Donald Trump on Monday affirmed his continuing support for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh despite the second allegation of sexual misconduct against him that surfaced Sunday, saying that it’s 'unfair,' 'unjust' and 'totally political.'” ...

Jacob Pramuk of CNBC: "The Senate Judiciary Committee contacted Michael Avenatti after the lawyer claimed to represent a client who has damaging information about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh." ...

... Brian Karem of the (Montgomery County, Maryland) Sentinel: "Investigators in Montgomery County confirmed Monday they’re aware of a potential second sexual assault complaint in the county against former Georgetown Prep student and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. While investigators weren’t specific and spoke on background, they said they are looking at allegations against Kavanaugh during his senior year in high school after an anonymous witness came forward this weekend. This would potentially bring the number to four women accusing Kavanaugh of wrongdoing and comes after Deborah Ramirez, a former Yale college student, stepped forward this weekend to accuse Kavanaugh of exposing himself to her in college, and after attorney Michael Avenatti tweeted out a message saying he represents a woman with 'credible information regarding Judge Kavanaugh and Mark Judge.'” ...

     ... Steven Nelson of the Washington Examiner: "The chief of police in Montgomery County, Md., says his officers are not looking into sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, appearing to contradict a local news report that 'investigators' were looking at a potential second high school misconduct allegation.... The local publication did not identify the 'investigators' as police, but ordinarily police would investigate an alleged crime before a decision on whether to prosecute." ...

... Adam Raymond of New York: The Republican National Committee published a list of “7 very serious problems with the New Yorker story” about Deborah Ramirez's allegations against Brett Kavanaugh. No 5: "The accuser is supposedly 'not politically motivated,' but is a registered Democrat who also 'works toward human rights, social justice, and social change.'" Raymond: "In this context, working toward 'human rights, social justice, and social change' is a negative quality. The RNC is suggesting that a dedication to such things inherently puts one at odds with the GOP. We already knew that, of course, but it’s nice to see the RNC admit it."

... David Graham of the Atlantic: "It’s becoming harder to view the hurry [to confirm Kavanaugh] as anything other than an attempt to move the process along without hearing the allegations.... Although Kavanaugh’s defenders have complained that these allegations are unfair because they emerged at the last minute, that’s in part because the process has been so fast. The White House has consistently failed to find weaknesses in candidates’ resumes, and a more deliberate vetting process might have allowed them to be prepared for allegations against Kavanaugh.... The Judiciary Committee was also relying on press help from an aide named Garrett Ventry. But Ventry was a temporary employee, detailed from a conservative public-relations firm that helped push a bogus debunking of the Kavanaugh allegations. Moreover, he was made to resign after NBC News revealed that he had been forced out of an earlier job after a sexual-harassment allegation.... Kavanaugh may still be confirmed, but the rush has created conditions that both endanger his nomination and undermine any political gain Republicans sought to make." ...

... Andrew Cohen in the New Republic: "This notion that Kavanaugh can convince America that he is innocent by producing his calendar from 1982 is patently absurd in a process in which live witnesses are barred from providing their insight about what Kavanaugh’s life was like in those days. It wasn’t going to fly when Ford was the only accuser. It’s certainly not going to fly now that Ramirez has stepped forward.... The man who preached 'judicial independence' during his listless testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this month ... spent parts of at least four days last week at the White House being 'prepped' for his looming confrontation with Ford. Prepped, that is, by the very executive branch officials whose presidential privilege claims he may be asked to adjudicate ... if he ascends to the High Court. That’s not judicial independence. That’s a conflict of interest.... Kavanaugh is being coached in great detail to clap together precisely the right phrases during his next round of public testimony that will allow Vichy Republicans like Susan Collins or Jeff Flake to declare themselves satisfied that he’s not an attempted rapist." ...

... Matt Yglesias of Vox: "There’s a fundamental problem for Kavanaugh in a he-said, she-said context. There is one thing that I — who, like most Americans, did not follow his career pre-selection — really know about Brett Kavanaugh: He is willing to fib to get a Supreme Court seat. When ... Donald Trump announced Kavanaugh’s selection..., these were the first three sentences Kavanaugh uttered to introduce himself to the American public: 'Mr. President, thank you. Throughout this process, I’ve witnessed firsthand your appreciation for the vital role of the American judiciary. No president has ever consulted more widely, or talked with more people from more backgrounds, to seek input about a Supreme Court nomination.' Neither ... is true.... It sounds a little old-fashioned in the Trump era, but you are genuinely not supposed to pull up to a microphone in the White House and say stuff that isn’t true. And you’re not supposed to mislead Congress — even if you manage to do so in ways that don’t meet the legal standard for perjury."

Daniel Drezner of the Washington Post: "Last Friday, [Ted] Cruz tweeted out that, 'Over and over again Congressman O’Rourke -- when faced with police and law enforcement -- he sides against the police.'” In his next tweet, embedded in yesterday's Commentariat, Cruz tweeted a video clip of O'Rourke speaking at a black church against the murder-by-cop of a black man inside his own home. Cruz comments in this tweet only "In Beto O'Rourke's own words." "The only possible reason I can see for showing O’Rourke’s perfectly sane words without comment is because it has nothing to do with his words and everything to do with the visual. O’Rourke delivers this speech at an African American church, and the churchgoers react in an extremely energetic manner. That is the image that Ted Cruz wants his supporters to see, because he thinks it is the image that will mobilize his supporters into disliking O’Rourke and voting against him.... He thinks bigotry will get out the GOP vote in the state of Texas. As Marginal Revolution’s Alex Tabarrok notes, 'It’s shocking that Ted Cruz thinks tweeting this helps him. It’s even more shocking if he is right.'”

E.A. Crunden of ThinkProgress: "Delaware has become the latest state to take a hard line against offshore fossil fuel efforts, with a bipartisan push to protect the coastal state’s waters from oil and gas development. Two bills allowing Delaware to both withhold permits from oil and gas drillers offshore and pursue legal action against them were signed into law on Thursday by Gov. John Carney (D)." --safari

David Dayen of The Intercept: "The Mercatus Center at George Mason University, a university-based think tank funded by outside interests including the Koch family foundations, uses a private email server for its communications, according to three sources with knowledge of the situation. The setup allows Mercatus employees to have '@mercatus.gmu.edu' addresses, without the content of the emails passing through the university email system. Under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, emails from a publicly funded university could be considered public records, and having a private email server would help get around that requirement. The Mercatus Center at George Mason University did not respond to questions about why they have a private server for their emails. " --safari

*****

The Party of Youthful Indiscretions Rapists

** You Knew This Was Coming. Ronan Farrow & Jane Mayer of the New Yorker: "As Senate Republicans press for a swift vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh..., Senate Democrats are investigating a new allegation of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh. The claim dates to the 1983-84 academic school year, when Kavanaugh was a freshman at Yale University.... Senior Republican staffers also learned of the allegation last week and, in conversations with The New Yorker, expressed concern about its potential impact on Kavanaugh’s nomination. Soon after, Senate Republicans issued renewed calls to accelerate the timing of a committee vote.... 'This is another serious, credible, and disturbing allegation against Brett Kavanaugh. It should be fully investigated,' Senator Mazie Hirono, of Hawaii, said. An aide in one of the other Senate offices added, 'These allegations seem credible, and we’re taking them very seriously. If established, they’re clearly disqualifying.' The woman at the center of the story, Deborah Ramirez ... attended Yale with Kavanaugh.... She remembers Kavanaugh had exposed himself at a drunken dormitory party, thrust his penis in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away.... 'Somebody yelled down the hall, "Brett Kavanaugh just put his penis in Debbie’s face,’” she said.... Kavanaugh was eighteen, and legally an adult. During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Kavanaugh swore under oath that as a legal adult he had never 'committed any verbal or physical harassment or assault of a sexual nature.'” Ramirez was intoxicated at the time of the (alleged) incident. Read on. Farrow & Mayer also reference accounts consistent with Michael Avenatti's claims, linked next. The remarks Elizabeth Rasor, a one-time girlfriend of Mark Judge, made to them are significant. ...

     ... Scott Lemieux in LG&$: "Let’s be clear: [t]he Republican leadership knew about the second allegation, and their response was to try to hasten the process to get him confirmed to a lifetime appointment the Constitution makes it essentially impossible to be removed from. Whether they confirm Kavanaugh or another hack this is what the Republican Party is. Trump is a logical manifestation of the party’s coaltion, not an usurper." ...

     ... digby: "[Republicans] wouldn't let the FBI investigate. They concocted a ridiculous 'doppleganger' conspiracy theory and blamed an innocent man for the assault. They went nuts trying to get him on the court before anyone found out. What scumbags they all are." ...

     ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: I'd also like to know how thorough a background check the FBI did on Kavanaugh. I've been cold-called by FBI agents who were doing routine checks on my neighbors who were applying for much, much less important federal jobs, and probably you have, too. Is Kavanaugh's background file full of allegations of sexual violence & binge-drinking? What about the files the FBI compiled on him for earlier jobs? Is it possible the FBI never found anything on him? Did the FBI accidentally forget to ask friends & neighbors what they had observed? Did the Bush & Trump administrations pressure the FBI to do only cursory background checks? And/or did the friends & neighbors circle the wagons & lie to the FBI? If reporters could turn up this info in a few weeks, why couldn't the FBI? Or did it?

... Julie Davis of the New York Times: "As the risk that Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination could collapse has mounted — a new allegation of sexual misconduct published by The New Yorker on Sunday night raised fresh questions about whether he could survive — Mr. Trump has been forced into the role of spectator. The president was briefed on the allegation on Sunday, according to people in contact with him, and was remaining firmly behind Judge Kavanaugh, who is also scheduled to testify before the committee and who has vehemently denied the allegations. But one of the people said the president argued that the new charge showed why the White House should have fought back against Dr. Blasey from the beginning." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: In other words, those wimpy Republicans who wouldn't do more than try to rush Kavanaugh's confirmation despite allegations of a violent sexual assault, should have done much more (and they did indeed do plenty) to trash the (alleged) victim. Not a one of them thought it would be a good idea to seek the truth of the allegations or request more research on Kavanaugh's substance abuse. Just put the fucker on the Supreme Court for life so I Trump can have a "win" and women will die. ...

... Jonathan Swan & Mike Allen of Axios: "Brett Kavanaugh's allies plan to aggressively contest what they call the 'foggy memories' of his accusers — an approach that's likely to lead to nasty confrontations at Thursday's showdown hearing on his confirmation to the Supreme Court.... The plan is to fight back right away, and to emphasize denials and hazy recollections. And the mission is to portray the debate as cheap-shot politics orchestrated by liberals and abetted by the media." ...

... Jonathan Chait: "Brett Kavanaugh’s primary and most plausible defense against the charge that he sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford was that Brett Kavanaugh would never do such a thing.... A new revelation by Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow of the New Yorker explodes that defense.... Mayer and Farrow further subvert Kavanaugh’s generalized defense, by quoting classmates skeptical of the testimonials that were procured on his behalf.... It seems highly unlikely, though not impossible, that he will ever be confirmed.... President Trump ... has defaulted to his initial instinct to discount the attacks and press forward. [Heidi Przybyla of] NBC News reports that Trump had two conversations about the allegation on Sunday and expressed no change in position on his judicial nominee. Maggie Haberman [of the NYT] likewise reports that Trump is sticking with Kavanaugh (for now), and sees the new allegations as reason to believe his allies should have fought harder to discredit the previous ones. Trump and his allies ... fear and resent the power of allegations of sexual assault to threaten men in power.... Kavanaugh is massive liability now for a party that is already heavily identified with the grossest and most predatory aspects of male sexual entitlement. Keeping Kavanaugh at this point would be an act of sheer madness." ...

... ** Kate Feldman of the New York Daily News: "Lawyer Michael Avenatti told the Senate Judiciary Committee late Sunday that he has multiple witnesses who can say Brett Kavanaugh participated in gang rapes of drunken women during high school. 'We are aware of significant evidence of multiple house parties in the Washington, D.C. area during the early 1980s during which Brett Kavanaugh, Mark Judge and others would participate in the targeting of women with alcohol/drugs in order to allow a "train" of men to subsequently gang rape them,' Avenatti said in an email to Mike Davis, chief counsel for nominations for the Senate Judiciary Committee." Read on. Avenatti suggested lines of questioning of Kavanaugh. ...

     ... Burgess Everett, et al., of Politico: "Avenatti told Politico he represents a group of individuals who can corroborate allegations involving Kavanaugh and his longtime friend [Mark Judge] in the 1980s. Avenatti said he’d describe just one of the individuals as a victim. 'She will testify,' he said. 'But before she does, she will likely appear on camera for an interview.'... 'I represent multiple clients, they are witnesses. I’m representing multiple individuals that have knowledge of this, there’s no other attorneys involved,' Avenatti told Politico. Asked if the witnesses attended Georgetown Prep’s sister school, he said they went beyond that. 'They went to schools in the same general areas. These house parties were widely attended.' Avenatti said his new claims are 'not out of character from what Dr. Ford said.'” ...

... Josh Marshall: "... all hell has broken loose over the last hour or so in the already chaotic and ugly Kavanaugh confirmation process.... Avenatti is usually able to back up his claims. Or, perhaps better to say, when he has something, he usually does … have something.... Finally a short time ago, Senator Feinstein sent a letter to Senator Grassley asking for an immediate postponement of all Kavanaugh proceedings." ...

... Sheryl Stolberg of the New York Times: "The woman who has accused Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers has committed to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, her lawyers said on Sunday. The lawyers said some details — including whether an outside lawyer will question her — still needed to be resolved, but that those issues would not impede holding a hearing. The agreement, reached after an hourlong negotiating session Sunday morning between the lawyers and committee aides, is the latest step in a halting process toward a potentially explosive hearing that will pit the woman, Christine Blasey Ford, against Judge Kavanaugh.... On Saturday, the two sides reached a tentative agreement for Dr. Ford to appear on Thursday." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... The story has been updated, with Nicholas Fandos added to the byline. "... not long after the agreement was reached, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the committee’s top Democrat, wrote to Mr. Grassley requesting 'an immediate postponement of any further proceedings related to the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh,' citing a second accusation of misconduct that surfaced against him on Sunday and asking that the allegation be referred to the F.B.I." ...

... Peter Baker of the New York Times: "Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh has calendars from the summer of 1982 that he plans to hand over to the Senate Judiciary Committee that do not show a party consistent with the description of his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, according to someone working for his confirmation.... The calendar pages from June, July and August 1982, which were examined by The New York Times, show that Judge Kavanaugh was out of town much of the summer at the beach or away with his parents. When he was at home, the calendars list his basketball games, movie outings, football workouts and college interviews. A few parties are mentioned but include names of friends other than those identified by Dr. Blasey." Mrs. McC: A "party" of five people, with one of them wearing a bathing suit under her clothes, sounds like an impromptu get-together, possibly after another event. One might enter it in a diary after-the-fact but, since it sounds unplanned, it wouldn't go into a calendar that served as a date reminder. ...

... Naomi Lim of the Washington Examiner: "Democrats are poised to ask questions about the drinking culture of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's high school when the judge faces the Senate Judiciary Committee following a sexual misconduct allegation. 'We want to hear — I would be wanting to hear what kind of environment it was in high school,' Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, said Sunday during an interview with CNN's 'State of the Union.'" Mrs. McC: Actually, I'd like to know if Kavanaugh is still a heavy drinker. It sounds as if his binge-drinking went on during his college years, and since then he has held a number of high-stress jobs. In addition, his gambling habit suggests he has an addictive personality. Let's hear about his drug usage, too. It seems likely that a heavy drinker of Kavanaugh's age would have used other stimulants & downers. ...

... Lindsey Graham Is a Sexist Ignoramus. Ian Kullgren of Politico: "Sen. Lindsey Graham said Sunday the testimony of Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser won’t change his mind, no matter what she says. 'You can’t bring it in a criminal court, you would never sue civilly, you couldn’t even get a warrant,' Graham said on “Fox News Sunday” with Chris Wallace. 'What am I supposed to do? Go ahead and ruin this guy’s life based on an accusation? I don’t know when it happened, I don’t know where it happened, and everybody named in regard to being there said it didn’t happen.'” (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Update. Mrs. McCrabbie: Graham is on the Judiciary Committee. So he knew about Deborah Ramirez's allegation when he told Wallace that Ford's testimony wouldn't change his mind. We can assume then that he's also okay with Brett's (allegedly) flashing his cock right up in a young woman's face. But, please, let's not ruin Brett's life. ...

     ... Update Update. My supposition that Graham already knew about Ramirez's allegation might be incorrect -- well, at least as long as you believe Chuck Grassley & Mitch McConnell. Emily Birnbaum of the Hill: "A spokesperson for Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on Sunday night said the panel will 'attempt to evaluate' new allegations of sexual assault regarding Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The spokesperson in a statement slammed Democrats for 'withholding information' regarding the allegations.... GOP staffers knew that the Ramirez accusations were forthcoming as they pushed to move the nomination process ahead last week, according to the New Yorker. Grassley denied this, saying the committee's staff was not aware until Sunday.... A spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also denied the claim." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: No, the others did not say it didn't happen. They said they don't remember one of the many social events they attended 36 years ago. I don't remember any of the social events I attended 36 years ago, and if Brett Kavanaugh was attacking a young woman nearby at the time, I'm unaware of it. AND not getting a Supreme Court job doesn't "ruin this guy's life." Millions & millions of happy Americans don't sit on the Supreme Court -- including you, Lindsey -- and their lives aren't "ruined." BTW, how come you weren't all upset when you "ruined" Merrick Garland's life? PLUS ...,

... This Is Not a Trial, Lindsey, and You Know It. Caprice Roberts, in a Washington Post op-ed: "All week, as members of both parties jousted over Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in high school, we’ve heard calls that Kavanaugh is entitled to due process, with some suggesting that airing Ford’s claims in a Senate hearing is potentially unjust.... Unlike for a jury, there’s no requirement for unanimity, and the Constitution doesn’t set a standard of proof by which senators must offer their advice and consent.... Kavanaugh’s public hearings, then, and any inquiry now into the accusations against him, are less like a trial and more like a high-stakes job interview — and this job comes with life tenure.... Because guilt or innocence isn’t the issue, but instead fitness for the Supreme Court, the burden of proof isn’t, and shouldn’t be, on Ford, the accuser; it remains on Kavanaugh." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: One of the things you have to weigh, Lindsey, is which witness will be more credible. Since you already know Kavanaugh has lied to Senate Judiciary Committees under oath, it would be fair to assume he'll lie again this week. Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus. More on Lindsey Graham below. ...

The Republican Party’s fight to save President Trump’s embattled Supreme Court nominee amid allegations of sexual assault has surfaced deep anxieties over the hypermasculine mind-set that has come to define the GOP in the nation’s roiling gender debate. The images are striking: The specter of Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee — all 11 of them men — questioning U.S. Appeals Court Judge Brett A. Kavanaugh’s female accuser. A senior GOP aide working on the confirmation resigning amid his own sexual harassment allegations. A viral photo of 'women for Kavanaugh' featuring more men than women. A South Carolina Republican congressman making a crude joke about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg being groped by Abraham Lincoln. And then there is the party’s id, Trump, who as a candidate denied more than a dozen accusations of sexual assault and harassment and sought to silence and retaliate against his accusers — and who as president has defended one accused man after another.... Trump risks solidifying the Republican Party as the party of men." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Uh, make that the party of white men.


Trump Scheduled to Do More Damage to World Peace. Jonathan Lemire & Zeke Miller
of the AP: "... Donald Trump is poised to redouble his commitment to 'America First' on the most global of stages this week. In the sequel to his stormy U.N. debut, Trump will stress his dedication to the primacy of U.S. interests while competing with Western allies for an advantage on trade and shining a spotlight on the threat that he says Iran poses to the Middle East and beyond.... Trump's address to the General Assembly comes Tuesday, and on Wednesday he will for the first time chair the Security Council, with the stated topic of non-proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. The subject initially was to have been Iran, but that could have allowed Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to attend, creating a potentially awkward situation for the U.S. leader." ...

... Mark Landler & David Sanger of the New York Times: "For Mr. Trump’s advisers, the biggest risk at the United Nations General Assembly this year is the reverse of what it was last year: not that he will be dangerously undiplomatic, but that he will be overly enthusiastic about engagement with wily adversaries." Read on; the bit about the Iran tweet is classic. Mrs. McC: If there were no consequences, the White House high jinks would make a hilarious, if unbelievable, sitcom. As it is, it's more an endless nighmare in which a King Kong monster is plowing a path of destruction, & you cannot escape even as you lob obstacle after obstacle in his way. ...

... Nahal Toosi of Politico: "... Donald Trump is risking a potential war with Iran unless he engages the Islamist-led country using diplomacy, not just pressure tactics, dozens of prominent U.S. foreign policy, intelligence and national security figures argue in a new public statement. The statement, released by a group calling itself the National Coalition to Prevent an Iranian Nuclear Weapon, comes as Trump prepares to speak at the annual United Nations General Assembly. Iran is expected to be a hot topic during this week’s U.N. gathering of world leaders, many of whom are upset that Trump pulled the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal.... Among the signatories: former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who served Republican and Democratic presidents; former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who served in the Democratic administration of Bill Clinton; and former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, who served the GOP White House of George W. Bush."

Samuel Chamberlain of Fox "News": "President Trump appeared to blame Attorney General Jeff Sessions for the latest controversy surrounding Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein Sunday, saying that Sessions had 'hired' Rosenstein to be his second-in-command. 'He was hired by Jeff Sessions,' Trump said in an interview with 'The Geraldo Show' on WTAM radio. 'I was not involved in that process because, you know, they go out and get their own deputies and the people that work in the department.'"

Sarah Fitzpatrick, et al., of NBC News: "The British-born music publicist who helped arrange that infamous meeting between senior Trump campaign officials and a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Democrats now believes the meeting could have been a set-up by Russian intelligence, he told NBC News in an exclusive television interview. 'I'm willing to believe that I don't know who wanted this meeting," Rob Goldstone told NBC's Cynthia McFadden in a wide-ranging interview, in which he also discussed Trump's behavior in Moscow during the 2013 Miss Universe pageant.... Goldstone says he was asked to set up the meeting — and relay the offer of incriminating information about Clinton — by Emin Agalarov, on behalf of his father Aras Agalarov, one of Russia's wealthiest developers.... Goldstone believes it wasn't his email that secured the meeting, but a series of calls afterward between Trump Jr. and Emin Agalarov." ...

... Jane Mayer: "Donald Trump ... has been unwavering on one point: that Russia played no role in putting him in the Oval Office.... Ordinarily, Congress would aggressively examine an electoral controversy of this magnitude, but the official investigations in the House and the Senate, led by Republicans, have been too stymied by partisanship to address the ultimate question of whether Trump’s victory was legitimate.... But a new book ... by Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a professor of communications at the University of Pennsylvania..., offers a forensic analysis of the available evidence and concludes that Russia very likely delivered Trump’s victory.... When I met recently with Jamieson...., she expressed confidence that unbiased readers would accept her conclusion that it is not just plausible that Russia changed the outcome of the 2016 election — it is 'likely that it did.'” Read on. The part about a Russian intelligence ploy which head-faked Jim Comey is interesting.

Tom Hamburger of the Washington Post: "Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said Sunday he believes 'a bureaucratic coup' led by enemies of President Trump is taking place at the Justice Department, and the senator asked that a new special counsel be appointed to investigate. Graham, a veteran member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, made the comments on 'Fox News Sunday' in response to questions about a report that Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein suggested secretly recording Trump and possibly using the 25th Amendment to remove the president from office. Graham said he didn’t favor firing Rosenstein, who has denied the report and said he never advocated for removal of the president.... Instead, the senator from South Carolina pointed his finger at others in the department who he said have 'tried to destroy this president.' He specifically referred to former FBI officials Andrew McCabe, Lisa Page and Peter Strzok." Mrs. McC: Graham is such a sad little suck-up.

Election 2018. Virginia. Michael Tackett of the New York Times: "Representative Scott Taylor, Republican of Virginia, has enjoyed a rapid political rise anchored in his valorous background as a member of the Navy SEALs, a credential with great resonance in a district that includes the world’s largest naval station and one of the highest concentrations of voters connected to the military.... But now ... his campaign is facing accusations that it was part of an improper effort to help an independent candidate get on the ballot and siphon voters from his Democratic challenger. The allegations, which included using the names of dead people or voters who did not live in the district on signature petitions, were serious enough to warrant the appointment of a special prosecutor, and the independent candidate, Shaun Brown, was stricken from the ballot by the Virginia Supreme Court. Mr. Taylor’s race is emblematic of an emerging problem for Republicans...: A seat once considered relatively safe is now imperiled because of scandal, expanding an already broad field of Democratic opportunity. Mr. Taylor’s reputation has taken a hit, pulling a congressman who won election by 23 percentage points two years ago into a race now considered a tossup by independent analysts.

Buh-Bye. Opheli Lawler of New York: "Jason Miller, a pro-Donald Trump contributor at CNN, is leaving his job. The announcement comes after Splinter published a report detailing an allegation that Miller drugged a former mistress with an abortion pill, to terminate her pregnancy. Court documents for the custody battle between Miller and A.J. Delgado, another former Trump staffer, show that Miller also allegedly had an affair with a woman he met at an Orlando, Fl., strip club in 2012. Miller and Delgado had an affair during the 2016 presidential campaign, during which time Delgado became pregnant with their son, William. When this woman told Miller that she was pregnant, he allegedly gave her an abortion pill without her knowledge.... The pill allegedly caused her pregnancy to be terminated, and nearly fatal health complications that sent her to the emergency room.... After Splinter’s story was published, Miller posted several statements to Twitter, including that he would be leaving CNN.... He called into question Delgado’s mental stability, referred to Splinter as a 'gossip blog' and said that he would be bringing legal action against Delgado, Splinter, and anyone else spreading 'these lies.'” ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Delgado may or may not be making false claims, but I don't see any liability for Splinter which merely published sensational accusations that appeared in a court filing.

Six-Billion-Dollar Man. Kate Gibson of CBS News: "The heat Nike has taken over its controversial advertising campaign featuring former NFL start Colin Kaepernick seems to have had another effect: burnishing the iconic brand's appeal to investors. Nike shares have surged 36 percent on the year, making the company the top performer on the Dow's index of 30 blue-chip stocks. The run-up includes a nearly 5 percent increase since Nike's Labor Day announcement that Kaepernick would be featured in its campaign, adding nearly $6 billion to the company's market value. The stock continues to hover near an all-time high, which it reached in mid-September only weeks after some Nike customers publicly burned their shoes to express their displeasure at the new ad. In afternoon trading Nike shares were up slightly to $85.67." Mrs. McC: Capitalism actually is pretty awesome when a company profits by defying Donald Trump's racism.

Beyond the Beltway

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished. ABC News Houston: "A woman in North Carolina was arrested after trying to save pets during Hurricane Florence. With severe flooding on the way, Tammie Hedges said she took in more than two dozen pets when their owners evacuated. She runs an animal rescue ... but had not yet finished building her shelter. She said she took the animals in anyways so they'd have a dry place to stay.... Animal services has since taken the pets and are now trying to find their owners." Many of these animals were left chained in flood zones & would have drowned. Mrs. McC: She should have got an award, not a criminal summons. PETA, get this woman an attorney.

Saturday
Sep222018

The Commentariat -- Sept. 23, 2018

Afternoon Update:

Sheryl Stolberg of the New York Times: "The woman who has accused Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers has committed to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, her lawyers said on Sunday. The lawyers said some details -- including whether an outside lawyer will question her -- still needed to be resolved, but that those issues would not impede holding a hearing. The agreement, reached after an hourlong negotiating session Sunday morning between the lawyers and committee aides, is the latest step in a halting process toward a potentially explosive hearing that will pit the woman, Christine Blasey Ford, against Judge Kavanaugh.... On Saturday, the two sides reached a tentative agreement for Dr. Ford to appear on Thursday." ...

Lindsey Graham Is a Sexist Ignoramus. Ian Kullgren of Politico: "Sen. Lindsey Graham said Sunday the testimony of Brett Kavanaugh's accuser won't change his mind, no matter what she says. 'You can't bring it in a criminal court, you would never sue civilly, you couldn't even get a warrant,' Graham said on 'Fox News Sunday' with Chris Wallace. 'What am I supposed to do? Go ahead and ruin this guy's life based on an accusation? I don't know when it happened, I don't know where it happened, and everybody named in regard to being there said it didn't happen.'" ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: No, the others did not say it didn't happen. They said they don't remember one of the many social events they attended 36 years ago. I don't remember any of the social events I attended 36 years ago, and if Brett Kavanaugh was attacking a young woman nearby at the time, I'm unaware of it. AND not getting a Supreme Court job doesn't "ruin this guy's life." Millions of happy Americans don't sit on the Supreme Court -- including you, Lindsey -- and their lives aren't "ruined." BTW, how come you weren't all upset when you "ruined" Merrick Garland's life? PLUS ...,

... This Is Not a Trial, Lindsey, and You Know It. Caprice Roberts, in a Washington Post op-ed: "All week, as members of both parties jousted over Christine Blasey Ford's allegation that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in high school, we've heard calls that Kavanaugh is entitled to due process, with some suggesting that airing Ford's claims in a Senate hearing is potentially unjust.... Unlike for a jury, there's no requirement for unanimity, and the Constitution doesn't set a standard of proof by which senators must offer their advice and consent.... Kavanaugh's public hearings, then, and any inquiry now into the accusations against him, are less like a trial and more like a high-stakes job interview -- and this job comes with life tenure.... Because guilt or innocence isn't the issue, but instead fitness for the Supreme Court, the burden of proof isn't, and shouldn't be, on Ford, the accuser; it remains on Kavanaugh." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: One of the things you have to weigh, Lindsey, is which witness will be more credible. Since you already know Kavanaugh has lied to Senate Judiciary Committees under oath, it would be fair to assume he'll lie again this week. Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus. ...

Phil Mattingly & Maegan Vazquez of CNN: "After ... Donald Trump tweeted criticism of the woman who came forward accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the President on Friday to say his tweets did not help, two people familiar with the call confirmed to CNN." ...

... Philip Rucker, et al., of the Washington Post: "The Republican Party's fight to save President Trump's embattled Supreme Court nominee amid allegations of sexual assault has surfaced deep anxieties over the hypermasculine mind-set that has come to define the GOP in the nation's roiling gender debate. The images are striking: The specter of Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee -- all 11 of them men -- questioning U.S. Appeals Court Judge Brett A. Kavanaugh's female accuser. A senior GOP aide working on the confirmation resigning amid his own sexual harassment allegations. A viral photo of 'women for Kavanaugh' featuring more men than women. A South Carolina Republican congressman making a crude joke about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg being groped by Abraham Lincoln. And then there is the party's id, Trump, who as a candidate denied more than a dozen accusations of sexual assault and harassment and sought to silence and retaliate against his accusers -- and who as president has defended one accused man after another.... Trump risks solidifying the Republican Party as the party of men." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Uh, make that the party of white men.

*****

Nicholas Fandos, et al., of the New York Times: "The Senate Judiciary Committee and lawyers for the woman who has accused Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her decades ago reached a tentative agreement on Saturday for her to publicly testify on Thursday, an apparent breakthrough that could alter the course of a bitter confirmation fight. After a brief call late on Saturday, the woman's lawyers and aides to Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee, planned to talk again Sunday morning to continue the halting negotiations over the conditions of the testimony, according to three people familiar with the call. Aides to Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the committee's top Democrat, were also involved.... A woman named Leland Keyser -- who is believed to have been identified by Dr. Blasey as one of the five people at the party -- told the committee through a lawyer that she 'does not know Mr. Kavanaugh and she has no recollection of ever being at a party or gathering where he was present, with, or without, Dr. Ford.'" ...

... Burgess Everett of Politico: "A woman whom Senate GOP investigators believe may have been at the party where Christine Blasey Ford claimed she was sexually assaulted by Brett Kavanaugh is denying that she knows the Supreme Court nominee. In an email to the Senate Judiciary Committee sent Saturday evening and obtained by Politico, Leland Keyser said she does not know Kavanaugh or remember being at a party with him. The committee believed Keyser was one of the unnamed people referred to in a Washington Post story whom Ford remembered attending the high school party.... 'It's not surprising that Ms. Keyser has no recollection of the evening as they did not discuss it. It's also unremarkable that Ms. Keyser does not remember attending a specific gathering 30 years ago at which nothing of consequence happened to her. Dr. Ford of course will never forget this gathering because of what happened to her there,' [Blasey's attorney Debra] Katz said."

... Jordain Carney of the Hill: "Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, has agreed to testify before the Senate next week, her lawyer said Saturday. The exact terms and timing of her testimony remain unclear, as negotiations between Ford's lawyers and staff for the Senate Judiciary Committee remain ongoing. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) had given Ford's lawyers until Saturday afternoon to decide on whether she would proceed with testifying next week. Her lawyers said she 'accepts the Committee's request to provide her first-hand knowledge of Brett Kavanaugh's sexual misconduct next week.'" (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Jake Sherman of Politico has the full text of Blasey Ford lawyer Debra Katz's e-mail to the Committee. (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Alexander Burns, et al., of the New York Times: "In his first appearance before the nation, Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh positioned himself as an ally of social change for women in America. Standing beside President Trump at the White House, Judge Kavanaugh spoke of being a father of daughters and a coach to a girls' basketball team. He hailed his mother's legal career. He boasted that most of his clerks had been women. [Mrs. McC: Sounds even more hilarious now, doesn't it?]... But if Judge Kavanaugh';s nomination was freighted with import for women, the battle over his confirmation has swelled into an event of titanic consequence in the country's evolution on matters of gender and women's equality. A judge who could well overturn Roe v. Wade -- handpicked by a president who has faced allegations of sexual misconduct -- now faces an accusation of sexual assault that has plunged the Senate into chaos less than seven weeks before an election." ...

Murder Boards. Seung Min Kim & Josh Dawsey of the Washington Post: "Just as he did several weeks ago to prepare for his confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court, Brett M. Kavanaugh was back inside a room at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building -- again facing questioners readying him for a high-stakes appearance in the Senate. This time..., an array of White House aides, playing the role of various senators on the Judiciary Committee, quizzed Kavanaugh ... about his sex life and other personal matters.... In his answers during the practice runs, aides said, Kavanaugh condemned sexual assault and carefully avoided seeming to discredit Christine Blasey Ford.... But Kavanaugh grew frustrated when it came to questions that dug into his private life, particularly his drinking habits and his sexual proclivities, according to three people familiar with the preparations.... He declined to answer some questions altogether, saying they were too personal, these people said.... A senior White House official ... said that ... he struck the right tone.... [In a phone call,] Kavanaugh told Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) that Ford had the wrong guy in mind, saying he had not attended a party like the one she described to The Washington Post. He and his allies also privately discussed a defense that would raise doubts that the attacker was Kavanaugh, rather than try to dispute that an incident involving Ford had happened." ...

... This brings us to ...

... ** Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post: "Christine Blasey Ford's attorney did not actually agree to any specific terms, but she and her client got the headlines they wanted: Ford is coming to tell her story. Ford attorney Debra Katz repeatedly has stared down Republican Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), swatting away one artificial deadline after another.... Grassley couldn't very well cut off discussion. He didn't have the votes to confirm the nominee.... In the past 48 hours or so Republicans have made repeated, stupid mistakes that have not helped their position.... The public can conclude Republicans have no problem sitting Kavanaugh even if Ford's claim is true.... [Here Rubin details Ed Whelan's elaborate, crackpot game to frame an innocent man as Blasey's "real" would-be rapist, and Rubin provides strong evidence that someone in the White House or on the Judiciary Committee was working with Whelan.] There are now at least two related scandals : 1.) Whether Kavanaugh attacked Ford and now is lying, and 2.) the identities of those involved in a reprehensible scheme to pin a crime on someone for which there is zero evidence of wrongdoing." ...

... Maureen Dowd: "Dr. Blasey is dealing with some demonic forces not in play with Professor Hill: a vicious partisan internet that drove her out of her house and being discredited not merely by the White House but personally by a president who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault, who has consistently defended predators such as Roger Ailes, Bill O'Reilly and Roy Moore, and who is advised by the same man who enabled Ailes's loathsome behavior at Fox News. We haven&'t forgotten our history. But we still seem doomed to repeat it." ...

... Emily Witt of the New Yorker: "... Kavanaugh has made his high-school years a very prominent part of his personal narrative.... Some people put high school behind them. Kavanaugh has not.... By all appearances, the kids from these prep schools almost exclusively socialize with one another, and that social network informs their identities for the rest of their lives.... Even for those who take less pride in the institution, what happens at Georgetown Prep stays at Georgetown Prep.... During the past week, Georgetown Prep has defended its reputation, publishing a letter from its president, the Reverend James Van Dyke.... Georgetown Prep students are framed not as citizens but as benevolent patriarchs.... In this world, high school doesn't end when you're eighteen; it's a lifelong circle of mutual support, an in-crowd that protects itself...."

Devlin Barrett, et al., of the Washington Post: "Advisers to President Trump are counseling him against firing Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein over memos written by the former acting director of the FBI that say Rosenstein proposed secretly recording the president and pushed for his removal from office. The details of the memos written by former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe were revealed Friday, prompting immediate speculation that the information would give Trump the justification to do what he has long desired: dismiss Rosenstein, the Justice Department official overseeing special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election. But those close to Trump and some of his allies on Capitol Hill believe that a politically charged firing in advance of the midterm elections will feed a Democratic narrative of chaos in the administration, and that the president should wait until November to make any changes at the Justice Department." Read on. Mrs. McC: Looks as if someone in the White House got to Sean Hannity & advised him on what message to send to der Führer. ...

... Emily Stewart of Vox: "'I have a message for the president tonight,' Hannity said on Friday. 'Under zero circumstances should the president fire anybody.' The host said that he has 'multiple sources' confirming that the president's enemies are 'hoping and praying' that Trump fires someone so they can turn it into a scandal. 'The president needs to know it is all a setup,' Hannity said. 'He needs to know that regardless of whether he steps in or not, and I would argue he should definitely not, the deep state tonight is crumbling from within at this very hour.'"

Michael Shear & Emily Baumgaertner of the New York Times: "Trump administration officials announced Saturday that immigrants who legally use public benefits like food assistance and Section 8 housing vouchers could be denied green cards under new rules aimed at keeping out people the administration deems a drain on the country. The move could force millions of poor immigrants who rely on public assistance for food and shelter to make a difficult choice between accepting financial help and seeking a green card to live and work legally in the United States. Older immigrants, many of whom get low-cost prescription drugs through the Medicare Part D program, could also be forced to stop participating in the popular benefits program or risk being deemed a 'public charge' who is ineligible for legal resident status." ...

     ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: The majority of immigrants receiving public assistance live in households that include a working adult or adults. A better way to reduce the use of public assistance is to require the companies that employ them to pay these workers a living wage. But that wouldn't suit the sadistic, racist precepts of Donald Trump & Stephen Miller, would it?

Danielle Paquette of the Washington Post: "China has scrapped trade talks with the United States days before President Trump is set to escalate the commercial battle with a new round of tariffs, according to a person familiar with the discussion. Chinese officials canceled the planned negotiations after Trump announced he would impose new levies of up to 10 percent on another $200 billion in Chinese imports, effective Monday. Beijing vowed to strike back, slapping duties of up to 10 percent on an additional $60 billion in American products." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... MEANWHILE, Steve Bannon sez "Donald Trump's strategy is to make the trade war with China 'unprecedentedly large' and 'unbearably painful' for Beijing, and he will not back down before victory." Mrs. McC: That's not a strategy as much as it is sadism. (Also linked yesterday.) ...

     ... AND, as Patrick wrote in yesterday's thread: "Great strategy. A national population that has endured huge losses from wars, famine, revolution, social turmoil, and whacko leadership (China, if you were wondering) will kow-tow to a real estate speculator whose population is probably going to toss him to the sharks within a year? Americans can endure anything but hardship. They get upset when gas prices rise. The Chinese general population knows hardship from birth. Who will outlast who?" (He means "whom" here, but nobody's perfect. We of course are the "whom."

Oh, Oops, I Forgot. Shane Harris & Devlin Barrett of the Washington Post: "A former top White House official has revised her statement to investigators about a key event in the probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, after her initial claim was contradicted by the guilty plea of former national security adviser Michael Flynn..... K.T. McFarland, who briefly served as Flynn's deputy, has now said that he may have been referring to sanctions when they spoke in late December 2016 after Flynn's calls with Russia's ambassador to the United States.... When FBI agents first visited her at her Long Island home in the summer of 2017, McFarland denied ever talking to Flynn about any discussion of sanctions between him and the ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, in December 2016 during the presidential transition. For a time, investigators saw her answers as 'inconsistent,' putting her in legal peril as the FBI tried to determine if she had lied to them.... Eventually, McFarland and her lawyer Robert Giuffra were able to convince the FBI that she had not intentionally misled the bureau but had rather spoken from memory.... Just days after Flynn talked to Kislyak, however, McFarland said that her memory was clear, and [told a Washington Post reporter] the two had never discussed sanctions.... McFarland withdrew her nomination [as U.S. ambassador to Singapore] in February 2017, after the Republican chairman of the committee made clear that she couldn't be confirmed without explaining the discrepancies between her written statements and the emails that showed McFarland knew Flynn was talking to Kislyak." Mrs. McC: Funny how the threat of jail time refreshes the memory. (Also linked yesterday.)

Grassley Hires Accused Sexual Harasser to Shepherd Accused Sexual Abuser through Confirmation. Heidi Przybyla of NBC News: "A press adviser helping lead the Senate Judiciary Committee's response to a sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has stepped down amid evidence he was fired from a previous political job in part because of a sexual harassment allegation against him. Garrett Ventry, 29, who served as a communications aide to the committee chaired by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, had been helping coordinate the majority party's messaging in the wake of Christine Blasey Ford's claim that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her 36 years ago.... In a response to NBC News, Ventry denied any past 'allegations of misconduct.' After NBC News raised questions about Ventry's employment history and the sexual harassment allegation against him, Judiciary Committee Spokesman Taylor Foy replied in a statement: 'While (Ventry) strongly denies allegations of wrongdoing, he decided to resign to avoid causing any distraction from the work of the committee.'... While doing work for the Judiciary Committee, Ventry was employed by CRC Public Relations, a prominent GOP firm helping to promote Kavanaugh's nomination to the high court.... Politico reported Friday that CRC was behind conservative activist Ed Whelan's suggestion that he had evidence that a classmate of Kavanaugh had been the perpetrator of the attack on Blasey Ford.... On Twitter, Ventry said the Judiciary Committee had 'no knowledge or involvement' in the incident involving CRC." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Uh-huh. We're talking about three generations of sexist pigs here: Ventry, Kavanaugh & Grassley. Here's the chicken-and-egg question: are these guys Republicans because they're sexist pigs or are they sexist pigs because they're Republicans? And, as Patrick points out in today's thread, CRC's claim to fame infamy is the Swiftboating of decorated Vietnam war veteran John Kerry.

Election 2018

Missouri Senate Race. Jonathan Martin of the New York Times looks at how Brett Kavanaugh is playing in Missouri's tight Senate race between Claire McCaskill (D) & Josh Hawley (R). "A constitutional lawyer and former law professor who was in the Federalist Society at Yale, Mr. Hawley said in an interview at a barbecue joint before the rally with Mr. Trump that he is 'a true believer in the judicial conservative moment.' He said he thinks Roe v. Wade was 'wrongly decided' and that 'getting that decision overturned would be the right thing.'" Kavanaugh, who was supposed to be a boon to Hawley (and other GOP candidates), has turned out to be a bust in a state where the governor, Eric Greitens (R), resigned before the Republican-controlled state legislature impeached him because of a sex scandal.

Texas Senate Race. Ted Cruz Plays His Racist Dogwhistle on a Low Frequency. Jonathan Chait: A Dallas policewoman murdered Botham Shem Jean in his own apartment, which she entered without cause (she said she mistook it for her apartment). "Dallas police subsequently leaked the claim that Jean possessed a small amount of marijuana in his home.... Texas Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke has denounced this incident as an example of racial injustice in policing.... Ted Cruz ... tweeted a short clip of O&'Rourke denouncing Jean's murder during a town hall at the Good Street Baptist Church in Dallas[.]... It is not clear precisely what part of O'Rourke's argument he disagrees with.... Cruz ... has tended to dissolve the issue into a broader question of respect for the police, which he displays with his characteristic smarm. Nowhere in this clip does O'Rourke attack the police in general, dispute the need for effective policing, or insist that all or most officers are racist. The element that Cruz considers damning is O'Rourke campaigning against police injustice ... before a heavily-black audience.... This is ... old-fashioned conservative wink-and-nod Willie Horton racism, leading the audience toward the desired conclusion without shouting it out for them like Trump does." (Also linked yesterday.) Here's Ted's tweet:

... AND Even Wingers Agree Cruz's "Exposé" of O'Rourke Is Despicable. Allahpundit of Hot Air: "A 'constitutional conservative' who's naturally skeptical of state power, which is how Cruz sold himself throughout the tea-party era and beyond, shouldn't naturally gravitate to white identity politics and mindless respect for armed authority in analyzing a case in which an agent of the state killed an innocent man for no good reason. But this is how Republican politics operates in the Trump era, or at least how Cruz thinks it operates.... Why take an innocent dead man and use O'Rourke's justifiable outrage on his behalf and use it as some lowest-common-denominator Trumpian play on race and authority...?" Mrs. McC: Cruz's argument here seems to be, "Cops killing black people is always a good thing." But what he probably means to convey is, "Look! Look! Black people like Beto so nice white people should not."

Meg James of the Los Angeles Times: "Comcast Corp. triumphed over 21st Century Fox and the Walt Disney Co. in a hard-fought battle for Sky television by offering nearly $40 billion for the satellite-TV service that boasts 23 million customers in five European countries. The Philadelphia cable company captured the prize during a rare auction conducted Saturday by British regulators. Britain's Takeover Panel announced the results a little after 7 p.m. in London after three rounds of sealed bids. It marked the first time in a decade that the London-based regulatory body presided over a corporate auction. Sky's independent board members quickly approved Comcast's winning bid of $22.75 a share."

Beyond the Beltway

Sandra Garcia of the New York Times: "Twelve more potential victims came forward this week after a couple in Southern California were charged with drugging and sexually assaulting two women they met on social outings, the authorities said. Investigators in Orange County, Calif., believe there could be many additional victims, based on finding hundreds of videos of women who appear to be highly intoxicated on a phone belonging to one of the suspects, Grant Robicheaux."

Friday
Sep212018

The Commentariat -- Sept. 22, 2018

Autumnal Equinox. The View from My Window.

Late Morning/Afternoon Update:

** Dr. Christine Blasey Ford has agreed to testify before the Judiciary Committee. Story to follow. Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: So I take back & apologize for slamming her earlier this week for her then-apparent refusal to speak to the Committee. Good for her. ...

... Jordain Carney of the Hill: "Christine Blasey Ford has agreed to testify before the Senate next week, her lawyer said Saturday. The exact terms and timing of her testimony remain unclear, as negotiations between Ford's lawyers and staff for the Senate Judiciary Committee remain ongoing. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) had given Ford's lawyers until Saturday afternoon to decide on whether she would proceed with testifying next week. Her lawyers said she 'accepts the Committee's request to provide her first-hand knowledge of Brett Kavanaugh's sexual misconduct next week.'" ...

... Jake Sherman of Politico has the full text of Blasey Ford lawyer Debra Katz's e-mail to the Committee.

Oh, Oops, I Forgot. Shane Harris & Devlin Barrett of the Washington Post: "A former top White House official has revised her statement to investigators about a key event in the probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, after her initial claim was contradicted by the guilty plea of former national security adviser Michael Flynn..... K.T. McFarland, who briefly served as Flynn's deputy, has now said that he may have been referring to sanctions when they spoke in late December 2016 after Flynn's calls with Russia's ambassador to the United States.... When FBI agents first visited her at her Long Island home in the summer of 2017, McFarland denied ever talking to Flynn about any discussion of sanctions between him and the ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, in December 2016 during the presidential transition. For a time, investigators saw her answers as 'inconsistent,' putting her in legal peril as the FBI tried to determine if she had lied to them.... Eventually, McFarland and her lawyer Robert Giuffra were able to convince the FBI that she had not intentionally misled the bureau but had rather spoken from memory.... Just days after Flynn talked to Kislyak, however, McFarland said that her memory was clear, and [told a Washington Post reporter] the two had never discussed sanctions.... McFarland withdrew her nomination [as U.S. ambassador to Singapore] in February 2017, after the Republican chairman of the committee made clear that she couldn't be confirmed without explaining the discrepancies between her written statements and the emails that showed McFarland knew Flynn was talking to Kislyak." Mrs. McC: Funny how the threat of jail time refreshes the memory.

Grassley Hires Accused Sexual Harasser to Shepherd Accused Sexual Abuser through Confirmation. Heidi Przybyla of NBC News: "A press adviser helping lead the Senate Judiciary Committee's response to a sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has stepped down amid evidence he was fired from a previous political job in part because of a sexual harassment allegation against him. Garrett Ventry, 29, who served as a communications aide to the committee chaired by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, had been helping coordinate the majority party's messaging in the wake of Christine Blasey Ford's claim that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her 36 years ago.... In a response to NBC News, Ventry denied any past 'allegations of misconduct.' After NBC News raised questions about Ventry's employment history and the sexual harassment allegation against him, Judiciary Committee Spokesman Taylor Foy replied in a statement: 'While (Ventry) strongly denies allegations of wrongdoing, he decided to resign to avoid causing any distraction from the work of the committee.'... While doing work for the Judiciary Committee, Ventry was employed by CRC Public Relations, a prominent GOP firm helping to promote Kavanaugh's nomination to the high court.... Politico reported Friday that CRC was behind conservative activist Ed Whelan's suggestion that he had evidence that a classmate of Kavanaugh had been the perpetrator of the attack on Blasey Ford.... On Twitter, Ventry said the Judiciary Committee had 'no knowledge or involvement' in the incident involving CRC." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Uh-huh. We're talking about three generations of sexist pigs here: Ventry, Kavanaugh & Grassley. Here's a chicken-and-egg question: are these guys Republicans because they're sexist pigs or are they sexist pigs because they're Republicans? And, as Patrick points out in today's thread, CRC's claim to fame infamy is the Swiftboating of decorated Vietnam war veteran John Kerry.

Ted Cruz Plays His Racist Dogwhistle on a Low Frequency. Jonathan Chait: A Dallas policewoman murdered Botham Shem Jean in his own apartment, which she entered without cause (she said she mistook it for her apartment). "Dallas police subsequently leaked the claim that Jean possessed a small amount of marijuana in his home.... Texas Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke has denounced this incident as an example of racial injustice in policing.... Ted Cruz ... tweeted a short clip of O'Rourke denouncing Jean's murder during a town hall at the Good Street Baptist Church in Dallas[.]... It is not clear precisely what part of O'Rourke's argument he disagrees with.... Cruz ... has tended to dissolve the issue into a broader question of respect for the police, which he displays with his characteristic smarm. Nowhere in this clip does O'Rourke attack the police in general, dispute the need for effective policing, or insist that all or most officers are racist. The element that Cruz considers damning is O'Rourke campaigning against police injustice ... before a heavily-black audience.... This is ... old-fashioned conservative wink-and-nod Willie Horton racism, leading the audience toward the desired conclusion without shouting it out for them like Trump does."

Danielle Paquette of the Washington Post: "China has scrapped trade talks with the United States days before President Trump is set to escalate the commercial battle with a new round of tariffs, according to a person familiar with the discussion. Chinese officials canceled the planned negotiations after Trump announced he would impose new levies of up to 10 percent on another $200 billion in Chinese imports, effective Monday. Beijing vowed to strike back, slapping duties of up to 10 percent on an additional $60 billion in American products." ...

... MEANWHILE, Steve Bannon sez "Donald Trump's strategy is to make the trade war with China 'unprecedentedly large' and 'unbearably painful' for Beijing, and he will not back down before victory." Mrs. McC: That's not a strategy as much as it is sadism.

*****

** Adam Goldman & Michael Schmidt of the New York Times: "The deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, suggested last year that he secretly record President Trump in the White House to expose the chaos consuming the administration, and he discussed recruiting cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Mr. Trump from office for being unfit. Mr. Rosenstein made these suggestions in the spring of 2017 when Mr. Trump's firing of James B. Comey as F.B.I. director plunged the White House into turmoil. Over the ensuing days, the president divulged classified intelligence to Russians in the Oval Office, and revelations emerged that Mr. Trump had asked Mr. Comey to pledge loyalty and end an investigation into a senior aide. Mr. Rosenstein was just two weeks into his job. He had begun overseeing the \ Russia investigation and played a key role in \ the president's dismissal of Mr. Comey by writing a memo critical of his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. But Mr. Rosenstein was caught off guard when Mr. Trump cited the memo in the firing, and he began telling people that he feared he had been used.... Mr. Rosenstein disputed this account [in the statement below]. (Also linked yesterday.)

The New York Times's story is inaccurate and factually incorrect. I will not further comment on a story based on anonymous sources who are obviously biased against the department and are advancing their own personal agenda. But let me be clear about this: Based on my personal dealings with the president, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment. ...

... (Conservative) Jack Goldsmith of Lawfare: "Companion stories with different emphases are now appearing, but I have not seen anything in these stories that changes the basic story in the Times: Rosenstein discussed recording Trump and the 25th Amendment, and one or two people who were present suggest he was joking about the wire, but others (and seemingly more people) insist he was serious. No one has yet cast doubt on the Times' claim about Rosenstein and the 25th Amendment.... This story gives President Trump plenty of legitimate reasons to fire Rosenstein.... The revelations deepen the puzzle that I and others long ago noted about Rosenstein's conflict of interest in supervising the Mueller investigation. The main issue is that Rosenstein appears to be a central witness to Trump's motivation for firing Comey, which appears to be an issue under investigation by Mueller.... This story will lend enormous credibility to the president's claim that the Mueller investigation is hopelessly compromised.... The Rosenstein revelations are akin to the text messages between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. They demonstrate bad judgment expressed in what the participants mistakenly thought was a private setting." ...

... On the Other Hand. digby: "All of this is based upon second and third-hand information from anonymous sources who say they saw notes of the meetings --- no direct participants spoke either on or off the record. We don't even know if any of them aside from McCabe (whose notes seem to be what some of these people are basing their gossip on) work in the Justice Department. On the other hand, the Washington Post reports, (NBC confirmed as well) that their sources say the meeting took place but that Rosenstein was being sarcastic responding to McCabe by saying 'what do you want me to do Andy, wear a wire?' which sounds a lot more plausible. Nobody has reported on why Rosenstein would have said he would talk specifically to Kelly and Sessions about the 25th Amendment since Kelly at the time wasn't the Chief of Staff but rather the Director of Homeland Security and both men were known to be loyal Trumpers even if Sessions had recently recused himself. Let's just say this is a very weird story. The point of it is obviously to give Trump cause to fire Rosenstein, although I don't know exactly how he can prove anything based upon a 'failing New York Times' story." ...

     ... Devlin Barrett & Matt Zapotosky of the Washington Post have updated their story: "Speaking at a rally in Springfield, Mo., on Friday evening, Trump said, 'Look at what's being exposed at the Department of Justice and the FBI. We have great people in the Department of Justice ... but we have some real bad ones. You see what's happening at the FBI, they're all gone, they're all gone. But there's a lingering stench and we're going to get rid of that, too.'... In a second statement hours later, Rosenstein said: 'I never pursued or authorized recording the president and any suggestion that I have ever advocated for the removal of the President is absolutely false.'... That statement came after White House officials pressured the Justice Department to issue a more forceful denial, according to an adviser who spoke to the president. The president asked advisers Friday if he should fire Rosenstein, and some of those around Trump sought to sway him not to make any decision Friday night. During those discussions, the president said he did not trust Rosenstein or McCabe, the adviser said." ...

... Pete Williams, et al., of NBC News: "Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was joking when he discussed wearing a wire to secretly record ... Donald Trump and does not believe Trump should be removed from office through the use of procedures outlined in the Constitution's 25th Amendment, according to Justice Department officials who requested anonymity to discuss the conversation." ...

... AND Marcy Wheeler of emptywheel: "... in a week where Trump is desperate to release documents that will discredit the investigation closing in on himself,Andrew McCabe's attorney, Michael Bromwich raises real questions about how the NYT might get memos McCabe wrote documenting Rosenstein's behavior. '... A set of those memos remained at the F.B.I. at the time of his departure in late January 2018. He has no knowledge of how any member of the media obtained those memos.' The insinuation is clear: in an attempt to accuse Rosenstein of things known to set off the President (notably, being recorded), someone took memos McCabe wrote and read them to people who would then leak them to the NYT." ...

     ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: I will add here that Michael Schmidt, one of the lead reporters on the Rosenstein story, broke the initial story about Hillary Clinton's private email server. The Times had to make four major corrections to the story & change the headline, eliminating the central assertion that her use of private email was the subject of a "criminal inquiry." It was generally believed that Schmidt's source was Trey Gowdy. Several months ago, the DOJ gave Gowdy access to the documents Trump had ordered declassified this week (and has now backtracked on -- story linked below), and Gowdy went over to the DOJ & read them. (Devin Nunes also received access, but he didn't bother to read the documents.) Those docs included Andy McCabe's note. Just saying. ...

... Jonathan Chait: "It is difficult to evaluate this story outside the context of an impending threat to the rule of law and the crisis it may well trigger. Numerous sources have described Rosenstein as having been engaged in idle black humor. 'I remember this meeting and remember the wire comment. The statement was sarcastic and was never discussed with any intention of recording a conversation with the president,' one source tells Politico. The Washington Post has even more detail that seems to cast doubt on the earnestness of the remark[.]... The Times has been spun by sources before -- most infamously, in its 2016 preelection report declaring that the FBI saw no link between Russia and Trump, and that Russia was not trying to help Trump win.... In ordinary circumstances, a report like this would constitute a legitimate firing offense, regardless of how seriously the remarks were intended. But these are not ordinary circumstances. Normal presidents do not habitually inspire members of their administration, including ones they appointed, to whisper about declaring them mentally unfit for office and removing them through the 25th Amendment (as an anonymous official revealed.)... Rosenstein is nobody's conception of a hero chosen by history.... But Rosenstein is what we have right now, and with the rule of law hanging by a thread, his defense is vital."

... Alex Ward of Vox: "Mueller has to run major investigative decisions past the deputy attorney general. A Rosenstein replacement could simply refuse to approve any of Mueller's requests, effectively slowing the whole investigation to a crawl, or even fire Mueller outright if he felt there was a reason to do so. Rosenstein, however, has made it clear that at this point, he sees no reason to fire Mueller. This has irked Trump for months. He continues to tell some of his advisers that he thinks Rosenstein is 'a Democrat' (even though he is actually a lifelong Republican)...." ...

... (Conservative) Matt Lewis of the Daily Beast: "Trump says crazy things all the time. He appears erratic and capricious.... And -- this is my strong hunch -- people like Rosenstein wouldn't feel tempted to explore such extreme measures if our other checks and balances were in place.... Part of the problem is that the Founders envisioned a system that would prohibit someone like Trump from ever making it to the presidency. Ironically, the very electoral college that made Trump president was designed as one such check -- a way for local elites to override the will of the people and prevent a demagogue from taking the White House.... ... There are other contributing factors. For generations now, Congress has abdicated authority and responsibility as a coequal branch of government (we can rightly heap scorn on Republicans like Devin Nunes for being a Trump toady, but the erosion of congressional authority began long before either of them came along)."

What happens at Georgetown Prep stays at Georgetown Prep. -- Brett Kavanaugh, in a speech in March 2015 ...

... all it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing. -- Akhilleus, yesterday

** Rachel Maddow is reporting (at about 9:40 pm ET) that Christine Blasey Ford's attorneys asked the Judiciary Committee for one additional day for Blasey Ford to make her decision inasmuch as she had been meeting all day with FBI agents re: death threats made against her & her family. Maddow read the letter on-air; it was a scathing takedown of Committee Republicans -- and specifically Chuck Grassley. Mrs. McC: Real reports, plus Upchuck Grassley's Twitter responses now linked below. ...

     ... The Washington Post has a breaking story here, which will be updated: "An attorney for Ford, Debra Katz, replied to Republican staff on the Judiciary committee in a letter decrying the 'aggressive and artificial deadlines,' and asking that Ford 'be given an additional day to make her decision.'" ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Maybe Grassley thinks it's only important to get a vote out of the Judiciary Committee, but he might want to give some attention to Susan Collins' comment that Wednesday or Thursday would be fine. See the Portland Press Herald's story, linked below. ...

     ... UPDATE: Here's Grassley's response to Blasey Ford's attorneys, via Twitter: "Five times now we hv granted extension for Dr Ford to decide if she wants to proceed w her desire stated one wk ago that she wants to tell senate her story Dr Ford if u changed ur mind say so so we can move on I want to hear ur testimony. Come to us or we to u." @11:27 pm ET Friday ...

     ... UPDATE 2: Grassley's second tweet: "Judge Kavanaugh I just granted another extension to Dr Ford to decide if she wants to proceed w the statement she made last week to testify to the senate She shld decide so we can move on I want to hear her. I hope u understand. It's not my normal approach to b indecisive" @11:42 pm ET

     ... AND FINALLY: "With all the extensions we give Dr Ford to decide if she still wants to testify to the Senate I feel like I'm playing 2nd trombone in the judiciary orchestra and Schumer is the conductor" @11:55 pm ET ...

... Elana Schor & Burgess Everett of Politico: "The Senate Judiciary Committee is giving Christine Blasey Ford attorney's until the end of the day Friday to work out terms of next week's proposed hearing on Ford's allegations that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her, according to a Republican senator. The GOP is offering to hold the hearing on Wednesday after Ford sought Thursday and is meeting some of her requests but not others, the senator said. The senator added that Republicans are not inclined to agree with Ford's lawyers that she should only be questioned by lawmakers -- not an outside counsel." Mrs. McC: Grassley's deadlines & threats are getting old. (Also linked yesterday.) ...

     ... The story has been updated: "[Grassley] said if he doesn't hear back by 10 p.m. on Friday evening or Ford decides not to appear, the committee will vote on Kavanaugh's nomination on Monday. If he and Ford's attorney can agree to hear her testimony next week, Grassley will postpone the Monday vote." Mrs. McC: I'm writing this at 9 pm so don't know what will happen. ...

     ... The story has been updated again: "Attorneys for Christine Blasey Ford sought an additional day to respond to Republicans over whether she'll testify about her sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, calling a GOP-imposed Friday night deadline 'arbitrary.' In response, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley late Friday appeared to extend a previous 10 p.m. cutoff for Ford to reply to a GOP offer sent earlier in the day for her to appear on Wednesday to testify about her decades-old allegation against Kavanaugh."

John Wagner & Seung Min Kim of the Washington Post: "President Trump on Friday pointedly questioned the credibility of the woman who has accused Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were teenagers, contending that she or her parents would have reported the attack to law enforcement at the time if it were as bad as she has said." The full tweets are cited in yesterday's Commentariat. (Also linked yesterday.) ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Lawrence O'Donnell is the only pundit I've heard or read all day who has pointed out the same thing I did yesterday: that Trump, in his tweets, admitted Kavanaugh had attacked Blasey Ford, but claimed the attack couldn't have been all that bad. ...

      ... Eric Russell of the Portland (Maine) Press Herald: "Maine Sen. Susan Collins said she was 'appalled' by President Trump’s tweets Friday morning that criticized Christine Blasey Ford for not coming forward sooner with her allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Speaking at an event in Portland, Collins appeared to offer support for Ford, who has said Kavanaugh tried to sexually assault her 36 years ago when they were both in high school. The senator stopped short, though, of saying whether she believed Ford.... Collins said she would be comfortable allowing Ford to testify later in the week and said the committee should make reasonable accommodations to allow her to speak. Collins also said the committee should be able to use its discretion to structure the hearing as it sees fit, including using outside counsel, a step she called 'not at all unusual.'... To me, Monday is the preferred date but I don’t see a problem with delaying to Wednesday or Thursday.'" (Also linked yesterday.) ...

     ... #WhyIDidn'tReport A.J. Willingham & Christina Maxouris of CNN: "In response, people on Twitter have been sharing their reasons for not speaking up about their own assaults." The reporters cite numerous responses. ...

... NOW that Our Ignormus President* has weighed in, let's hear from some of the other assholes responsible for the #WhyIDidn'tReport explanations. ...

... Patti Davis, daughter of Ronald & Nancy Reagan, in a Washington Post op-ed, on what she remembers -- and what she doesn't -- about a sexual assault that occurred some 40 years ago. "I don't remember what month it was. I don't remember whether his assistant was still there when I arrived. I don't remember whether we said anything to each other when I left his office. I never told anyone for decades -- not a friend, not a boyfriend, not a therapist, not my husband when I got married years later.... That's what happens: Your memory snaps photos of the details that will haunt you forever, that will change your life and live under your skin. It blacks out other parts of the story that really don't matter much." ...

     ... AP: "Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is telling evangelical activists the Senate will 'plow right through' and move to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. McConnell told the annual Values Voter conference Friday 'in the very near future, Judge Kavanaugh will be on the United States Supreme Court.' He urges the Republican-leaning activists to 'keep the faith' and predicts senators will do their jobs." Mrs. McC: I listened to a clip of McConnell's remark & the "good Christians" in the audience cheered his assurances. As we learned earlier today, sex abuse is A-OK with the good Christians; of course if the victims get pregnant, she'll have to bring the fetus to term. God's will, I guess. (Also linked yesterday.) ...

     ... It's a Socialist Plot! Christina Wilkie of CNBC: "Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Dr. Ben Carson told an audience of conservative activists on Friday that the sexual assault allegations facing ... Donald Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court are part of a plot by socialists to take over America that dates back more than a century. 'If you really understand the big picture of what's going on, then what's going on with Kavanaugh will make perfectly good sense to you,' Carson said at the annual Values Voter Summit in Washington. 'There've been people in this country for a very long time, going all the way back to the Fabians, people who've wanted to fundamentally change this country.' [He goes on to describe the plot.]... There is no basis for Carson's claim that socialists are plotting to take over American civic institutions." The Fabians were a 19th-century British socialist organization. Talk about your sleepers! The Amerikans have nothing on the Fabians. ...

     ... It's No Big Deal! Andrew Kaczynski & Christopher Massie of CNN: "North Dakota GOP Senate nominee Kevin Cramer said on Friday that the accusation against Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh was 'even more absurd' than Anita Hill's accusation against Clarence Thomas because Kavanaugh and his accuser were drunk teenagers when the alleged incident occurred. Cramer added that Ford's allegations were less legitimate than Hill's in part because the assault she describes 'never went anywhere.'... Ford alleged that Kavanaugh was 'stumbling drunk,' but only said she had one beer at the party." Cramer is North Dakota's only U.S. Representative." ...

... Eliana Johnson of Politico: "It turns out that the Keystone Cops detective work by conservative legal activist Ed Whelan -- which set Washington abuzz with the promise of exonerating Brett Kavanaugh, only to be met by mockery and then partially retracted — was not his handiwork alone. CRC Public Relations, the prominent Alexandria, Virginia-based P.R. firm, guided Whelan through his roller-coaster week of Twitter pronouncements that ended in embarrassment..., according to three sources familiar with their dealings.... t is unclear to what extent Whelan was coordinating with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and other Republicans on Capitol Hill. He was in communication with at least one Republican member of the committee this week, and that member told associates he was aware Whelan's theory involved the home of a Kavanaugh classmate.... Matt Whitlock, deputy chief of staff to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R.-Utah), directed people to Whelan's Twitter feed on Wednesday in a tweet of his own and later deleted his tweet." ...

... Mark Stern of Slate: "... what's most shocking about [Whelan's conspiracy Twitter thread], which Whelan has since deleted, is that Kavanaugh's defenders appear to have genuinely believed that it would exculpate the nominee. Whelan ... is a Federalist Society power broker who has played a major role in the selection of Donald Trump's judicial nominees -- including his good friend Kavanaugh. He and his allies teased out the mistaken-identity theory for days, hyping it on Twitter and apparently in a weirdly credulous Politico article.... It is no surprise that Republican operatives who've conducted trench warfare against progressives for years would be willing to sink this low. But it is shocking to realize that the GOP has nothing else up its sleeve to save this nomination." ...

... New York Times Editors: "Poor Republicans. They've tried so hard to be subtle, to seem respectful of Christine Blasey Ford, even as they've maneuvered to undermine her. They would hear her accusations that the Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh assaulted her in high school, they wanted us to know, if only she'd testify on their terms. They wanted Americans to think they had evolved in the 27 years since Anita Hill accused another Supreme Court nominee, Clarence Thomas, of sexual misconduct. Leave it to Donald Trump to strip away the mask and reveal the troglodyte beneath. Administration officials reportedly labored to keep him from going on the attack against Dr. Blasey, but after a few days, the presidential id once again rose up and overwhelmed them and their message.... So what Mr. Trump is charging here, complete with a snide slap at Dr. Blasey's parents, is straightforward: The woman is lying." ...


... Mrs. McCrabbie: AND
here's something I didn't know: Jed Rubenfeld, the husband of Amy Chua, the Yale law professor who grooms female students set to interview for clerkships with Kavanaugh to look "model-like" because that's what Brett wants, is "another prominent YLS professor..., is currently under investigation for his conduct with female law students...." ...

... Emily Peck & Paul Blumenthal of the Huffington Post: "At Yale Law School, the embattled Supreme Court nominee’s alma mater, a growing number of students are denouncing administrators for their rote support of Kavanaugh and are demanding changes to a culture that enables powerful elites to get away with sexual misconduct. At a Yale Law Women event on Thursday, students confronted faculty over statements Yale put out over the summer in support of Kavanaugh's nomination and the school's silence since Dr. Christine Blasey Ford alleged that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were teens. Students also demanded to know if the school was aware of the conduct of Alex Kozinski, a high-profile judge many alumni clerked for [Mrs. McC: including Kavanaugh] who resigned late last year amid accusations of sexual harassment.... But when a student asked faculty about what changes they planned to make following those reports, they didn’t have much to offer....Some Yale Law School faculty, however, appear to be listening to students' complaints. A majority of professors, including the past two deans, Harold Koh and Robert Post, signed a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday urging it to 'conduct a fair and deliberate confirmation process' and allow the FBI to first investigate allegations against Kavanaugh before there's another hearing." ...

... Amanda Arnold of New York: Friday "morning, protest signs appeared across the [Yale Law School] campus.... 'YLS is a model of complicity,' reads one in the school's courtyard. 'Is there nothing more important to YLS than its proximity to power and prestige?' demands another. A photograph of Kavanaugh that hangs inside the school is flanked by a pair of signs as well: 'We still believe Anita Hill,' one says. 'We believe Dr. Christine Ford,' reads another...."


Trump Blinks. Kyle Cheney
of Politico: "... Donald Trump on Friday abandoned plans to quickly declassify and release sensitive documents connected to the FBI's Russia investigation, citing a 'perceived negative impact' on the probe and concerns raised by 'key allies' about dumping the materials. Trump instead announced that he would defer to a Justice Department watchdog -- Inspector General Michael Horowitz, who he once derided as an 'Obama guy' -- to finish a review of whether anti-Trump bias affected the FBI's handling of its 2016 Russia probe." (Also linked yesterday.)

Ali Dukakis of ABC News: "Another associate of political operative Roger Stone met Friday with a federal grand jury convened to hear testimony in special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian meddling, appearing at the U.S. District Court House in Washington, D.C., a source with direct knowledge tells ABC News.... Jerome Corsi, who until recently served as the Washington, D.C., bureau chief for the controversial far-right news outlet Infowars, is one of at least 11 individuals associated with Stone who have been contacted by the special counsel."

Anthony Cormier & Jason Leopold of BuzzFeed News: "On June 3, 2016, Donald Trump Jr. received [an e-mail] offering dirt on Hillary Clinton as part of the Russian government's 'support for Mr. Trump.' The very day that email was sent..., $3.3 million began moving ... between two of the men who orchestrated the meeting: Aras Agalarov, a billionaire real estate developer close to both Vladimir Putin and ... Donald Trump, and Irakly 'Ike' Kaveladze, a longtime Agalarov employee once investigated for money laundering. That money is on top of the more than $20 million that was flagged as suspicious, BuzzFeed News revealed earlier this month, after the money ricocheted among the planners and participants of the Trump Tower meeting. Special counsel Robert Mueller's team ... is examining the suspicious transactions, four federal law enforcement officials said.... Many of the transfers seemed to have no legitimate purpose, bankers noted." (Also linked yesterday.)

Stephanie Kirchgaessner, et al., of the Guardian: "Russian diplomats held secret talks in London last year with people close to Julian Assange to assess whether they could help him flee the UK, the Guardian has learned. A tentative plan was devised that would have seen the WikiLeaks founder smuggled out of Ecuador’s London embassy in a diplomatic vehicle and transported to another country. One ultimate destination, multiple sources have said, was Russia, where Assange would not be at risk of extradition to the US. The plan was abandoned after it was deemed too risky." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Alexandra Valencia of Reuters: "Ecuador in 2017 gave Wikileaks founder Julian Assange a diplomatic post in Russia but rescinded it after Britain refused to give him diplomatic immunity, according to an Ecuadorean government document seen by Reuters. The aborted effort suggests Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno had engaged Moscow to resolve the situation of Assange, who has been holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy for six years to avoid arrest by British authorities on charges of skipping bail."


Frances Robles & Jugal Patel
of the New York Times: A year ago, on Sept. 20, the deadliest storm to hit Puerto Rico in over 100 years slammed into the island's southeast coast, just 14 miles south of ... Punta Santiago.... Times journalists visited 163 homes in o neighborhoods in Punta Santiago to cover what progress had been made in the last 12 months.... It looks like the hurricane just hit. In neighborhoods where residents live on meager pensions and disability checks, there were gutted kitchens and electrical wires running randomly along unfinished walls. Roofs were covered with plywood or plastic, many near collapse. Some houses still had no running water. A number of families lived in single rooms in unfurnished houses, sleeping on the floor.... Hundreds of thousands of people across the island are still living in homes in desperate need of repair.... All told, FEMA spent nearly twice as much for housing repair grants in Texas as it did in Puerto Rico, though the money went to 51,000 fewer people." (Also linked yesterday.)

Our Ignoramus President*, Ctd. Ted Mellnik & Aaron Williams of the Washington Post: "On a recent campaign trip, Trump said Canada was 'ripping us off' and threatened a tariff on cars from Canada that 'would be the ruination of the country.' It would be a massive escalation of the trade hostilities that began this year with U.S. tariffs on washers, solar cells, aluminum and steel. But the auto trade with Canada doesn't look one-sided, if you take into account where the parts to make the cars came from. Yes, car imports from Canada far exceed cars shipped the other way. But those cars assembled in Canada are often made up of engines, bodies and parts imported from the United States. Add up the trade in all automotive goods with Canada, and it comes out about even. The United States exports 99 cents' worth of automotive goods to Canada for every dollar of imports." Thanks to Marvin S. for the lead. (Also linked yesterday.)

Ted Hesson & Josh Gerstein of Politico: "A federal court ruled that a Cabinet secretary must provide, for the first time in 19 years, a deposition in a civil case. The Cabinet member, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, must answer questions about the inclusion of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census, Manhattan-based U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman said.... The state of New York is leading a coalition of states, cities, counties and mayors in a lawsuit against the inclusion of a citizenship question in the upcoming census. Opponents of the question argue it will depress responses in immigrant-heavy areas and distort the Census results."

Nick Miroff & Josh Dawsey of the Washington Post: "FEMA Administrator William 'Brock' Long has been ordered to reimburse the government for his misuse of federal vehicles, but he will be allowed to remain in his job, according to statements from Long and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen released late Friday. The statements appeared to be aimed at overcoming a tense feud between Long and Nielsen that has distracted staff at the Federal Emergency Management Agency -- where Long is well liked -- right at the moment that the agency is coping with flooding from Hurricane Florence. A person familiar with Long's case said he will not be referred for criminal charges, a possibility that left him rattled this week and on the verge of quitting right as Florence hit his home state, North Carolina. President Trump has told advisers he likes Long and wants him to stay in the job, according to a senior administration official...."

Michael Biesecker & Alan Suderman of the AP: Hurricane "Florence’s floodwaters breached a dam holding back a large reservoir at a Wilmington [N.C.,] power plant Friday, and coal ash from an adjacent dump could be flowing into the nearby Cape Fear River. Duke Energy spokeswoman Paige Sheehan said the utility doesn't believe the breach at the L.V. Sutton Power Station poses a significant threat of increased flooding to nearby communities. Floodwaters breached several points overnight in the earthen dam at Sutton Lake, the plant's 1,100-acre (445-hectare) reservoir. Lake water then flooded one of three large coal ash dumps lining the lakeshore."

All the Best People, Ctd. Katherine Krueger of Splinter: "The ongoing custody battle between former Trump campaign operatives Jason Miller and A.J. Delgado has taken another nasty turn: In an explosive new court filing, Delgado-s legal team alleges that Miller — prior to their own high-profile extramarital romance -- carried out an affair with a woman he met at an Orlando strip club. Additionally, the court documents claim, when the woman found out she was pregnant, Miller surreptitiously dosed her with an abortion pill without her knowledge, leading, the woman claims, to the pregnancy’s termination and nearly her death. With these allegations entered into the court record, Delgado is asking the court to order Miller — whom the filing says has 'unsupervised time' with their child -- to undergo a psychological evaluation. The filing says that she fears for her and the child's safety.... Shortly after the 2016 election, Trump named Miller as his White House communications director. But just two days later — after Delgado tweeted about the news, referencing Miller as 'the baby-daddy' -- Miller announced he would no longer be taking the job in order to focus on his family." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: This is a custody battle, so allegations may be exaggerated or false, but I do want to congratulate CNN for keeping this blowhard on-air; it's so embarrassing to watch their "round tables" because most of CNN's Republican pundits -- like Miller -- do little more than yell lies. Every CNN "round table" is an opportunity to change the channel.

Election 2018

Texas Senate. Patrick Svitek & Brandon Formby of the Texas Tribune: "U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke of El Paso, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, took a newly aggressive tack against Republican incumbent Ted Cruz in their first debate Friday evening. Appearing at Southern Methodist University, the candidates exchanged rhetorical blows on just about every single question, showing off sharp differences that have long been evident in the race. But what stood out was O'Rourke's combative posture toward Cruz after spending his campaign until this point largely ignoring the incumbent and his attacks.... 'This is why people don’t like Washington, D.C. -- you just said something that I did not say and attributed it to me,' O'Rourke told Cruz at one point. 'This is your trick and the trade, to confuse and incite based on fear and not to speak the truth.'" ...

... Video of the full debate is here.

Arizona Congressional Race. Joseph Flaherty of the Phoenix New Times: "[David Brill,] a Democrat running against Arizona Representative Paul Gosar, unveiled a powerful series of ads on Thursday that feature six people who denounce Gosar and endorse his rival. They're Gosar's siblings.... Six of Gosar's siblings -- Tim, Jennifer, Gaston, Joan, Grace, and David -- say that their brother's positions on immigration, the environment, and health care have effectively torn their family apart. They condemn their brother in striking terms. In one video, Grace Gosar says, 'It would be difficult to see my brother as anything but a racist.' The Gosar siblings have grown estranged from their brother, a four-term congressman, because of his frequent conspiracy theorizing and hair-raising comments about immigrants. Gosar is the eldest son of a family of 10 children who grew up in Wyoming. Many of his siblings don't share their brother's hardline views. One of his brothers, Pete Gosar, ran for governor of Wyoming as a Democrat in 2014. Paul Gosar, on the other hand, is one of President Trump's most loyal defenders." ...

Minnesota State Senate Race. Nina Moini & Briana Bierschbach of Minnesota Public Radio: "Republican state Rep. Jim Knoblach abruptly ended his re-election campaign Friday as MPR News prepared to publish detailed accusations from his daughter [Laura] of inappropriate behavior toward her since childhood.... Knoblach, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, declined to be interviewed after being approached more than a week ago. In a written statement, Knoblach called the allegations 'indescribably hurtful' and said he would work toward healing his family.... The timing of his exit could make his St. Cloud-area seat, already a top target for Democrats, impossible for Republicans to hold.... Knoblach was seeking a ninth term and was being challenged by Democratic candidate Dan Wolgamott, also of St. Cloud. Knoblach plans to serve out his term.... Laura alleges that the prominent legislator inappropriately touched her for most of her life, behavior she confided to close friends, family and authority figures at her school and church for more than a decade.... She provided MPR News with extensive documentation about her attempts to get help." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Laura Knoblach is 23 years old. Her (alleged) experiences, IMO, are far more horrible than what Christine Blasey Ford, now 53, endured decades ago. While each abuse victim is different, I'd say if Laura Knoblach can come forward, so can Blasey Ford.