The Wires
The Ledes

Monday, October 15, 2018.

CNBC: "Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen has died from complications of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Vulcan Inc. said Monday on behalf of his family. Allen passed away Monday afternoon in Seattle at 65 years old, Vulcan said." ...

     ... Allen's New York Times obituary is here.

Royal Watch:

 

... The Guardian has a story here.

Another British royal wedding at Windsor: Princess Eugenie & Jack Brooksbank. Pix here; story here.

Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: I can't tell you how many times I could have used this guy. But he/it really should have set the drywall a millimeter or two off the concrete floor to keep the drywall, well, dry:

... Jon Fingas of Engadget tells the story of Drywall Man.

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.

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
Oct072018

The Commentariat -- October 7, 2018

Late Morning Update:

Mary Papenfuss of the Huffington Post: "... Donald Trump said Saturday he's 'a hundred percent' certain that Christine Blasey Ford named the wrong person when she said Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her, he told reporters on Air Force One. He also called Kavanaugh, who was sworn in as a Supreme Court justice today after being confirmed in a 50-48 Senate vote, 'squeaky clean.' Beyond the sexual assault accusation, a number of his Yale classmates have said Kavanaugh lied under oath about his drinking habits.... Trump also insisted women were 'extremely happy' about Kavanaugh's confirmation because they're apparently relieved the men in their lives are less likely now to be accused of sexual assault. 'Women were outraged at what happened to Brett Kavanaugh,' he added, according to pool reports." ...

... Christal Hayes of USA Today: "Hours after his Supreme Court pick was sworn in Saturday..., Donald Trump said on Fox News that those who made up 'false' stories about Brett Kavanaugh should be penalized. Trump, talking with Fox News' Jeanine Pirro, said he hated watching the slew of sexual assault allegations grow against Kavanaugh and dubbed all the accusations 'fabrications' with 'not a bit of truth.' 'I think that they should be held liable,' Trump told Pirro. 'You can't go around and whether it's making up stories or making false statement about such an important position, you can't do that. You can destroy somebody's life.'"

*****

Nasty, Lying, Unhinged Violent Would-be Rapist Drunk to Join Supreme Court. Sheryl Stolberg of the New York Times: "A deeply divided Senate voted on Saturday to confirm Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, delivering a victory to President Trump and ending a rancorous Washington battle that began as a debate over ideology and jurisprudence and concluded with questions of sexual misconduct. The vote, 50 to 48, was interrupted repeatedly by protesters, with the Capitol Police dragging screaming demonstrators out of the gallery as the senators sat somberly at their wooden desks in the chamber below.... The final tally fell almost entirely along party lines, with Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska -- the lone Republican to break with her party -- recorded as 'present' instead of 'no' as a gesture to a colleague, Senator Steve Daines of Montana, who was attending his daughter's wedding and would have voted 'yes.' Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia was the lone Democrat to support Judge Kavanaugh." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Update: Powerful Old White Men Fall All Over Themselves to Sign up Nasty, Lying, Unhinged Violent Would-be Rapist Drunk. "[Kavanaugh] was promptly sworn in by both Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and the retired Justice Anthony M. Kennedy -- the court's longtime swing vote, whom he will replace -- in a private ceremony." ...

... Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "President Trump predicted Saturday that Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) 'will never recover' politically for her vote against Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh as he celebrated his nominee's ascension following an extraordinarily brutal confirmation process.... 'I think she will never recover from this,' Trump said. 'I think the people from Alaska will never forgive her for what she did.'... He singled out Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) for praise.... 'I think what Susan Collins did for herself was incredibly positive,' Trump said. 'It showed her to be an honorable, incredible woman. I think she's got a level of respect that's unbelievable. I really mean it.' Trump called The Post from the White House residence on Saturday afternoon, shortly before the Senate held its final vote and before he jetted to Kansas for an evening campaign rally, where he was looking to take a victory lap." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: As Trump likes to say when he has no idea what he's talking about, "We'll see." His point of course is that there's a price to pay for integrity. ...

... Speaking of "We'll See." Chas Danner of New York: "[R]egarding the political cost the GOP may have to pay for its pushing of Kavanaugh and its self-serving dismissal of the allegations against him, [Mitch] McConnell brushed off the outrage, insisting that 'these things always blow over.' He's also happy that Kavanaugh, who he has called a 'political gift,' came out on top because it demonstrated GOP resolve and, in his mind, cleared Kavanaugh of any wrongdoing.... McConnell seems to see himself as both the hero, and a victim, in this story. His victimhood is at the hands of the women who spoke up and confronted members of Congress, and on behalf of his fellow Republicans, including Kavanaugh. His heroism is a result of his willingness to do anything to grab and hold onto power in service of his ultraconservative cause.... Indeed, with his dream achieved on Saturday, McConnell admitted that his whole stated premise for blocking [Merrick] Garland -- that it was, as he once said, 'about a principle, not a person' -- was bullshit, unless the right to take over the judicial branch by any means necessary was the principle. Asked if he would commit to not confirming a Trump nominee to the Supreme Court if another vacancy happened in 2020, McConnell replied: 'We'll see what it looks like in 2020. First, do we have a vacancy. Second, who is in charge of the Senate.'" --s ...

... Terry Schwadron of DC Report: "Once again, the lesson is being rammed home: We care only about winning even if it means trampling personal reputations.... [W]e ought to be yet more concerned about what is passing as reasonable behavior by our public officials.... Though Kavanaugh's Republican advocates suggest unfounded, personal allegations against the judge are out of control, he's actually a public figure.... It seems to me to be quite another thing for Trump and Senate Republicans to level their rhetorical guns on private citizens, particularly women who have nothing to gain and lots to lose by stepping up to say that they were subject to private, bad behavior, however long ago.... Rather than Trump himself, Mitch McConnell turns out to be the heavy, the bully, in this story." --s ...

... ** Chief Justice Part of Kavanaugh Conspiracy. Carol Leonnig, et al., of the Washington Post: "Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has received more than a dozen judicial misconduct complaints against ... Brett M. Kavanaugh in recent weeks but has chosen for the time being not to refer them to a judicial panel for investigation. A judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit -- the court on which Kavanaugh serves -- sent a string of complaints to Roberts starting three weeks ago, according to four people familiar with the matter. That judge, Karen LeCraft Henderson, had dismissed other complaints against Kavanaugh as frivolous, but she concluded that some were substantive enough that they should not be handled by Kavanaugh's fellow judges in the D.C. Circuit. In a statement Saturday, Henderson acknowledged the complaints and said they centered on statements Kavanaugh made during his Senate confirmation hearings.... The situation is highly unusual.... Never before has a Supreme Court nominee been poised to join the court while a fellow judge recommends that a series of misconduct claims against that nominee warrant review. Roberts/s decision not to immediately refer the cases to another appeals court has caused some concern in the legal community. If Kavanaugh is confirmed, legal experts say, the details of the misconduct complaints against him may not become public and instead will be dismissed. Supreme Court justices are not subject to the misconduct rules governing these claims." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Zoe Tillman of BuzzFeed News: "Chief Judge Merrick Garland disqualified himself from handling ethics complaints against ... Brett Kavanaugh, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit announced Saturday morning. The statement did not explain why Garland ... had decided to step aside, or provide an update on the status of the complaints. Multiple ethics complaints have been filed against Kavanaugh in his current court, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, about his testimony in recent weeks in the US Senate and his response to allegations of sexual misconduct. The chief judge of the circuit normally handles ethics cases, but they have discretion to step aside if they conclude 'circumstances warrant disqualification,' under the federal judiciary's rules. If the chief judge is disqualified, the complaint falls to the next most senior judge of the court, in this case Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson, who issued Saturday's statement.... 'The complaints do not pertain to any conduct in which Judge Kavanaugh engaged as a judge. The complaints seek investigations only of the public statements he has made as a nominee to the Supreme Court of the United States[, Henderson said in her statement.]" (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Justin Wise of the Hill: "Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan said Friday she fears the high court may lack a justice going forward who would serve as a swing vote on cases, speaking hours after ... Brett Kavanaugh secured enough votes to be confirmed. Kagan said at a conference for women at Princeton University that over the past three decades, starting with Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and continuing with Justice Anthony Kennedy, that there was a figure on the bench 'who found the center or people couldn't predict in that sort of way.' 'It's not so clear, that I think going forward, that sort of middle position -- it's not so clear whether we'll have it,' Kagan said."(Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... John Bresnahan of Politico: "After weeks of backroom deals, dramatic hearings and rage-filled protests that pitted the #MeToo movement against ... Donald Trump, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is on track to be confirmed by the Senate on Saturday by the narrowest of margins. The vote, scheduled for late Saturday afternoon, is expected to be anticlimactic after the Senate soap opera that has come before." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... John Wagner & Seung Min Kim of the Washington Post: "The Senate was poised to confirm Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh as the next Supreme Court justice Saturday afternoon by one of the narrowest margins in the institution's history, capping off a brutal confirmation fight that underscored how deeply polarized the nation has become under President Trump. After the remaining votes fell into place on Friday, Democrats, in a show of defiance, spent all night making impassioned floor speeches against the nomination and continued into Saturday morning. They voiced fears about how Kavanaugh would rule on an array of issues, including abortion rights and executive power, and highlighted the allegations of decades-old sexual assault that roiled his confirmation process for the past three weeks." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Michael Scherer & Robert Costa of the Washington Post: "Now-Justice Kavanaugh was narrowly confirmed Saturday by the Senate, 50-48, in a vote that tracked expectations from the summer, with only one Democrat and one Republican defecting from the party line. But few of the players emerged from the process unchanged or unblemished, underscoring the uncharted territory of deepening distrust and polarization that now defines the American system. The events further distanced the Senate Judiciary Committee from its nearly forgotten bipartisan traditions and raised new questions about the potential for the Supreme Court to maintain an independent authority outside the maelstrom of politics." Mrs. McC: Both of these reporters are conservatives, but their piece is worth reading to get a perspective on what Republicans/Fox "News" think about their "victory." ...

... BUT Dylan Scott of Vox has perhaps a more accurate read: "This is the governing ideology of the Republican Party: We don't care what anybody else thinks. We have the power. We have the will. We have the votes. We'll do what we want. In politics, there's winning the argument, and there's winning the vote. Republicans lost the argument, but they ultimately had the votes.... Republicans ... have no evidence to support their claims that [Christine Blasey] Ford might have been assaulted some other time, in some other place, by some other person. Yet they kept making them, ignoring any questions about Kavanaugh's own honesty and clinging to an ill-defined standard of additional corroboration for an alleged assault that took place nearly 40 years ago. And Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin took the same position. But that was typical of the GOP's argument. Whatever rhetorical contortions were necessary, whatever procedural formalities must be endured, whatever must be done to put Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court would be done." ...

... AND Republicans Don't Give Two F@#ks about Your Democracy. Steve M.: "Republicans have demonstrated that they see public confidence in institutions as an expendable luxury. Americans will now lose confidence in the Supreme Court as they've lost confidence in Congress, the presidency, and our electoral system. Republicans don't care. They control all these institutions, which do what they want done. That's all that matters to them. What's the approval rating of Congress? It's 19%, according to Gallup. Gallup polls this question monthly, and the number has been 20% or less every month since Republicans took over the House in January 2011.... Republicans elected a president who dishonors the presidency at every opportunity. So what? He's signing the bills they want and appointing the judges they want. So we should all stop saying that institutions are being damaged as if we expect anyone in power to care. The people who run the government have calculated that respected institutions simply aren't necessary. And that's working out just fine for them." --s ...

... Mrs. McCrabbie: Republicans ignored Brett's lies & his insane rant & based their excuse for confirming him on one of two legal standards: "beyond a reasonable doubt" -- the criminal standard -- or "preponderance of the evidence" -- the civil standard. (Trump raised the standard to no doubt at all.) So voters should apply a legal standard to them on this election day & every election day thereafter: the penalty for aiding & abetting. You & your buddy rob a bank; after you race outside with the loot, your buddy shoots the guard dead. Even though you didn't shoot anyone & never intended to do so, you are criminally liable for the murder. Under this legal standard, every Senator who voted to confirm Kavanaugh is guilty of all the crimes & bad judgment the hearings revealed. Vote 'em out & lock 'em up. ...

** Francis Wilkinson in Bloomberg: "It's worth noting ... that in a battle over whether a woman's claims against a powerful man were to be believed, the decisive event was a speech by a woman who had no expectation, or even intention, of being believed herself. Senator Susan ... Collins's speech offered a series of ostensible rationales for her vote in favor of Kavanaugh. But her rationales were reminiscent of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell feigning outrage over the perfidious delaying tactics of Democrats.... McConnell didn't expect his protests to be taken seriously. He was showing the Republican base, which has been conditioned by Donald Trump to savor such displays, that he could spin out an absurd falsehood in service to the cause.... The open contempt for truth -- a comic level of gas-lighting -- is the whole point.... But she anchored her speech in the vapors of Trump and McConnell's post-truth, confirming it as the lingua franca of the entire party." [Open in private window] --s

... Alexis Grenell in a New York Times op-ed: "With the exception of Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, all the women in the Republican conference caved.... These women are gender traitors, to borrow a term from the dystopian TV series 'The Handmaid's Tale.' They've made standing by the patriarchy a full-time job.... The women who supported them ... we're talking about white women. The same 53 percent who put their racial privilege ahead of their second-class gender status in 2016 by voting to uphold a system that values only their whiteness, just as they have for decades.... White women benefit from patriarchy by trading on their whiteness to monopolize resources for mutual gain. In return they're placed on a pedestal to be 'cherished and revered,' as Speaker Paul D. Ryan has said about women, but all the while denied basic rights." Read on. ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: I found Grenell's essay helpful. I've been unable to understand why any woman would vote for Trump, and Grenell has part of the answer. By the fact of their gender, white women already are second-class citizens, so they're afraid if they "elevate" people of color (of both genders) by giving them equal protection, their own status will suffer. It's a pathetic, self-defeating type of selfishness -- racism in the cause of retaining their tenuous "place" in a patriarchal hierarchy that sets them above men & women of color. This country has always been an elitist white patriarchy, and these women haven't the vision to see what in a brief period in the 1960s & '70s looked like hope for racial & gender equality. They have voluntarily enslaved themselves. ...

... Rebecca Morin of Politico: "Susan Rice on Friday appeared to toy with a possible Senate run against Susan Collins after the Maine Republican announced her support for ... Brett Kavanaugh. Rice, who served as President Barack Obama's National Security Adviser responded to a tweet calling on someone to challenge Collins. Jen Psaki, who served as Obama's communications director and is now vice president of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, tweeted: 'who wants to run for Senate in Maine? there will be an army of supporters with you.' Eleven minutes later, Rice had a simple response. 'Me.' Rice later clarified her tweet saying she is 'not making any announcements' about a possible campaign run." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Kristine Phillips & Eli Rosenberg of the Washington Post: "A crowdfunding site where activists have been raising money to defeat Sen. Susan Collins in 2020 was inundated with pledges Friday afternoon, after the Maine Republican announced she would support Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court. By 3:55 p.m., the site had crashed, apparently overwhelmed. 'Senator Susan Collins has people more motivated than we've ever seen before,' Crowdpac tweeted.... The site was back online a little less than two hours later. By Saturday afternoon, the campaign that vows to support Collins's future opponent had surpassed $3.2 million -- not an insignificant amount for a political race in a state with among the smallest populations in the country (1.3 million)." ...

... That time a drunken Brett Kavanaugh smashed the cargo box of a pickup truck & refused to pay for it -- one of the many complaints lodged against Kavanaugh on the FBI's tip line. This is a WSJ story, but at the time I linked it, it was not firewalled. Mrs. McC BTW: The WSJ makes this sound like a crank trip, but the complainant provided details of Brett's behavior & his own attempt to collect from Brett, AND he had a witness to corroborate the story. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

John Harris of Politico: "The president's gleeful taunts of [Al] Franken as a quitter at a campaign rally in Minnesota Thursday night -- he folded 'like a wet rag,' Trump cackled -- were, for Democrats, a wicked preface to their ash-in-mouth defeat this weekend in the Kavanaugh nomination fight. Whether Trump knew it or not, his remarks were perfectly pitched to stoke anxieties that have haunted many top Democratic operatives for a generation: the fear that their party loses big power struggles because Republicans are simply tougher, meaner, more cynical and more ruthless than they are. A belief in one's own virtue feels good. Losing a battle that could shape the American political landscape for decades feels bad. The tension between the two left some Democrats grappling anew this weekend with the implications: Maybe they really are the Wet Rag Party." --s

Kellen Browning of McClatchy DC [Oct. 3]: "The Trump administration has repealed a safety regulation governing trains that carry large quantities of oil, sparking new fears among Washington state officials and environmental activists that devastating oil spills could be more likely. The Department of Transportation announced last week that trains carrying flammable liquids such as crude oil and ethanol would no longer be required to install electronically controlled pneumatic braking systems, an Obama-era rule instituted to decrease the chance of train derailments." --s

Benign Bribery. Jeremy Slevin & Zahra Mion of ThinkProgress: "The D.C. City Council voted this week to overturn Initiative 77, a ballot measure that would have raised the tipped minimum wage in the nation's capital to $15 an hour by 2026. The initiative itself passe by an 11-point margin in June, bolstered by support in predominantly African-American precincts. But a group of legislators led by Democratic Council Chairman Phil Mendelson quickly moved to repeal the ballot initiative, citing economic concerns and opposition from small businesses, which culminated in this week's vote.... The lawmakers behind the recent repeal ... received thousands of dollars in contributions from the restaurant industry, raising doubt about their motivation for rolling back the popular measure." --s

Way Beyond the Beltway

Tom Phillips of the Guardian: "The far-right frontrunner [Jair Bolsonaro, a 63-year-old former paratrooper notorious for his hostility to black and gay people, the environment and the left] to become the next president of Latin America's largest democracy has vowed to make Brazil great again, as election-eve polls gave him a commanding lead in what many view as the most important election in its history.... With just hours to go until 147 million Brazilians choose their next leader on Sunday, polls gave Bolsonaro a 15-point lead over his closest rival, the Workers' party (PT) candidate Fernando Haddad,.... That would not be enough to avoid a second-round showdown..., since an outright majority is required for a win.... However, Bolsonaro's ascendancy in the polls and the palpably erratic mood in Brazil is such that a first-round win is no longer considered an impossibility." --safari: Trump's America has become a disease worldwide. We haven't reckoned with the fact we're no longer a "force for good".

Martin Farrer of the Guardian: "As higher US interest rates and fears of a trade war piles pressure on economies around the world, China's central bank said on Sunday that it was cutting the reserve requirement ratios (RRRs) by 1% from 15 October to lower financing costs and spur growth in the world's second-biggest economy.... Investment growth has slowed to a record low and net exports have been a drag on growth in the first half of the year. China releases a snapshot of its services sector on Monday, which will be closely watched for signs of slower growth. The injection of cash into the economy, which will be 750bn yuan ($109.2 billion), will also boost hopes that the negative impact of higher US tariffs on Chinese exports can be eased." --s

Carlotta Gall, et al., of the New York Times: "Turkish investigators believe a well-known Saudi dissident was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.... The critic of the Saudi government, Jamal Khashoggi, entered the consulate on Tuesday to obtain a document he needed to get married and never emerged, according to his fiancée, who had stayed outside. Waiting for him inside the consulate, according to two people with knowledge of the investigation, were Saudi agents who had recently arrived in Turkey with the intent to silence Mr. Khashoggi. It was not clear if the plan had been to bring him back to Saudi Arabia alive, and something went wrong, or if the intention was to kill him there."

News Lede

New York Times: A limousine "crash killed all 18 occupants of the limousine, including its driver, as well as two pedestrians, in an accident that left deep tire tracks in the ground and the small town of Schoharie, N.Y., reeling.... The loss of life stunned even seasoned investigators, who called it the nation's deadliest transportation accident since a 2009 plane crash near Buffalo, N.Y., killed 50 people."

Friday
Oct052018

The Commentariat -- October 6, 2018

Afternoon Update:

Nasty, Lying, Unhinged Violent Would-be Rapist Drunk to Join Supreme Court. Sheryl Stolberg of the New York Times: "A deeply divided Senate voted on Saturday to confirm Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, delivering a victory to President Trump and ending a rancorous Washington battle that began as a debate over ideology and jurisprudence and concluded with questions of sexual misconduct. The vote, 50 to 48, was interrupted repeatedly by protesters, with the Capitol Police dragging screaming demonstrators out of the gallery as the senators sat somberly at their wooden desks in the chamber below.... The final tally fell almost entirely along party lines, with Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska -- the lone Republican to break with her party -- recorded as 'present' instead of 'no' as a gesture to a colleague, Senator Steve Daines of Montana, who was attending his daughter's wedding and would have voted 'yes.' Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia was the lone Democrat to support Judge Kavanaugh." ...

... ** Chief Justice Part of Kavanaugh Conspiracy. Carol Leonnig, et al., of the Washington Post: "Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has received more than a dozen judicial misconduct complaints against Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh in recent weeks but has chosen for the time being not to refer them to a judicial panel for investigation. A judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit -- the court on which Kavanaugh serves -- sent a string of complaints to Roberts starting three weeks ago, according to four people familiar with the matter. That judge, Karen LeCraft Henderson, had dismissed other complaints against Kavanaugh as frivolous, but she concluded that some were substantive enough that they should not be handled by Kavanaugh's fellow judges in the D.C. Circuit. In a statement Saturday, Henderson acknowledged the complaints and said they centered on statements Kavanaugh made during his Senate confirmation hearings.... The situation is highly unusual.... Never before has a Supreme Court nominee been poised to join the court while a fellow judge recommends that a series of misconduct claims against that nominee warrant review. Roberts's decision not to immediately refer the cases to another appeals court has caused some concern in the legal community. If Kavanaugh is confirmed, legal experts say, the details of the misconduct complaints against him may not become public and instead will be dismissed. Supreme Court justices are not subject to the misconduct rules governing these claims." ...

... Zoe Tillman of BuzzFeed News: "Chief Judge Merrick Garland disqualified himself from handling ethics complaints against ... Brett Kavanaugh, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit announced Saturday morning. The statement did not explain why Garland ... had decided to step aside, or provide an update on the status of the complaints. Multiple ethics complaints have been filed against Kavanaugh in his current court, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, about his testimony in recent weeks in the US Senate and his response to allegations of sexual misconduct. The chief judge of the circuit normally handles ethics cases, but they have discretion to step aside if they conclude 'circumstances warrant disqualification,' under the federal judiciary's rules. If the chief judge is disqualified, the complaint falls to the next most senior judge of the court, in this case Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson, who issued Saturday's statement.... 'The complaints do not pertain to any conduct in which Judge Kavanaugh engaged as a judge. The complaints seek investigations only of the public statements he has made as a nominee to the Supreme Court of the United States[, Henderson said in her statement.]" ...

... Justin Wise of the Hill: "Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan said Friday she fears the high court may lack a justice going forward who would serve as a swing vote on cases, speaking hours after ... Brett Kavanaugh secured enough votes to be confirmed. Kagan said at a conference for women at Princeton University that over the past three decades, starting with Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and continuing with Justice Anthony Kennedy, that there was a figure on the bench 'who found the center or people couldn't predict in that sort of way.' 'It's not so clear, that I think going forward, that sort of middle position -- it's not so clear whether we’ll have it,' Kagan said." ...

... John Bresnahan of Politico: "After weeks of backroom deals, dramatic hearings and rage-filled protests that pitted the #MeToo movement against ... Donald Trump, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is on track to be confirmed by the Senate on Saturday by the narrowest of margins. The vote, scheduled for late Saturday afternoon, is expected to be anticlimactic after the Senate soap opera that has come before." ...

... John Wagner & Seung Min Kim of the Washington Post: "The Senate was poised to confirm Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh as the next Supreme Court justice Saturday afternoon by one of the narrowest margins in the institution's history, capping off a brutal confirmation fight that underscored how deeply polarized the nation has become under President Trump. After the remaining votes fell into place on Friday, Democrats, in a show of defiance, spent all night making impassioned floor speeches against the nomination and continued into Saturday morning. They voiced fears about how Kavanaugh would rule on an array of issues, including abortion rights and executive power, and highlighted the allegations of decades-old sexual assault that roiled his confirmation process for the past three weeks." ...

... Rebecca Morin of Politico: "Susan Rice on Friday appeared to toy with a possible Senate run against Susan Collins after the Maine Republican announced her support for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Rice, who served as President Barack Obama's National Security Adviser responded to a tweet calling on someone to challenge Collins. Jen Psaki, who served as Obama's communications director and is now vice president of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, tweeted: 'who wants to run for Senate in Maine? there will be an army of supporters with you.' Eleven minutes later, Rice had a simple response. 'Me.' Rice later clarified her tweet saying she is 'not making any announcements' about a possible campaign run." ...

... That time a drunken Brett Kavanaugh smashed the cargo box of a pickup truck & refused to pay for it -- one of the many complaints lodged against Kavanaugh on the FBI's tip line. This is a WSJ story, but when I linked it, it was not firewalled.

*****

Grammar Lesson: When is a long, convoluted compound, complex sentence appropriate? Answer: Today. See Akhilleus's second comment.

Michael Tomasky, in a New York Times op-ed: "... we will soon have two Supreme Court justices who deserve to be called 'minority-majority': justices who are part of a five-vote majority on the bench but who were nominated and confirmed by a president and a Senate who represent the will of a minority of the American people. And consider this further point. Two more current members of the dominant conservative bloc, while nominated by presidents who did win the popular vote, were confirmed by senators who collectively won fewer popular votes than the senators who voted against them. They are Clarence Thomas, who was confirmed in 1991 by 52 senators who won just 48 percent of the popular vote, and Samuel Alito, confirmed in 2006 by 58 senators who garnered, again, 48 percent of the vote.... Now, in an age of 5-4 partisan decisions, we're on the verge of having a five-member majority who figure to radically rewrite our nation's laws. And four of them will have been narrowly approved by senators representing minority will." ...

... Philip Bump of the Washington Post: "Kavanaugh ... will be the first justice nominated by someone who lost the popular vote to earn his seat on the bench with support from senators representing less than half of the country while having his nomination opposed by a majority of the country." Emphasis original. ...

One thing, however, is certain. Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year's Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation's confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law. -- Justice John Paul Stevens, dissent, Bush v. Gore (2000)

We are there. Now. -- Charles Pierce, yesterday ...

Chuck Grassley says it isn't his fault that female senators are lazy:

Michael Shear, et al., of the New York Times: "An exasperated President Trump picked up the phone to call the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, last Sunday. Tell the F.B.I. they can investigate anything, he told Mr. McGahn, because we need the critics to stop. Not so fast, Mr. McGahn said. Mr. McGahn, according to people familiar with the conversation, told the president that even though the White House was facing a storm of condemnation for limiting the F.B.I. background check into sexual misconduct allegations against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, a wide-ranging inquiry like some Democrats were demanding -- and Mr. Trump was suggesting -- would be potentially disastrous for Judge Kavanaugh's chances of confirmation to the Supreme Court. It would also go far beyond the F.B.I.'s usual 'supplemental background investigation,' which is, by definition, narrow in scope. The White House could not legally order the F.B.I. to rummage indiscriminately through someone's life, Mr. McGahn told the president." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: I don't know anything about one of the three authors on the byline, but two of them have demonstrated a strong attachment to right-wing talking points & a willingness to be led by the nose down the GOP rabbithole. Bear that in mind when reading. ...

... Another Reason to Vote for the Democrat No Matter How Awful the Candidate Is. Nicholas Fandos & Sheryl Stolberg of the New York Times: "House Democrats will open an investigation into accusations of sexual misconduct and perjury against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh if they win control of the House in November, Representative Jerrold Nadler, the New York Democrat in line to be the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said on Friday.... Mr. Nadler said that there was evidence that Senate Republicans and the F.B.I. had overseen a 'whitewash' investigation of the allegations and that the legitimacy of the Supreme Court was at stake. He sidestepped the issue of impeachment.... He said that if Democrats took power, he would expect the committee to immediately subpoena records from the White House and the F.B.I., which conducted an abbreviated supplemental background investigation into two of the misconduct claims." ...

... Sheryl Stolberg & Nicholas Fandos of the New York Times: "Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh appeared destined for final confirmation to the Supreme Court after two key undecided senators -- Susan Collins of Maine and Joe Manchin III of West Virginia -- announced Friday that they would support his elevation to the high court after the most divisive confirmation fight in decades." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

lol Collins says she hopes Kavanaugh will help bridge the partisan divide on the Supreme Court. -- Josh Marshall, in a tweet ...

OR, The stupidest thing you will hear all day and it didn't come from Trump. -- digby

... "Susan Collins ... Thinks You're Being Hysterical." Esther Wang of Jezebel: "In a nauseating, long-winded speech, Collins stressed that Kavanaugh -- despite all evidence to the contrary -- has the 'judicial temperament' to serve on the highest court of the land. As for the future of abortion rights, Collins argued that Kavanaugh promised her that he would respect Roe v. Wade as settled precedent. This, despite her noting that precedent has been overturned in the past and Kavanaugh's own writings on the issue. She then went on to call concerns over Kavanaugh's record on abortion and other issues alarmist. ('Suffice it to say, prominent advocacy groups have been wrong,' she said.)" ...

... Mrs. McCrabbie: In a front-page (online) article I won't link, Carl Hulse of the New York Times portrays Collins as a solitary hero who "stood alone" in what the headline writer called a "civic lesson" (I think s/he meant "civics"). This was a "civic" or "civics" lesson like every Republican speech is a civics lesson: concealing, eliding, obfuscating, cherrypicking, conjecturing & pontificating while disparaging opponents. ...

... I Don't Believe the (Mixed-up) Woman. Christina Cauterucci of Slate: "It took about half an hour for the senator from Maine to get to the sexual assault and harassment allegations against Kavanaugh. When she did, she went on an excruciatingly cynical and unnecessarily cruel rant about the unbelievability of Christine Blasey Ford's story, a diatribe that was utterly unconcerned with the psychology of traumatic memory recall and the specifics of Ford's allegations. In her soliloquy, Collins listed every reason she doubted Ford's sworn testimony that Kavanaugh had tackled her on a bed, covered her mouth, and attempted to rape her at a high school gathering in the early 1980s.... Collins' unabashed disregard for [commonplace truths about sexual assaults] was still less sickening than her decision to tell the entire country why she thinks Ford is either lying about her assault or, in what seems to be an increasingly popular GOP theory, confused about who the perpetrator was.... She made Ford out to be an unreliable narrator, a stand-in for all women who've been told their allegations against God-fearing, Ivy League-educated carpool dads are too far-fetched to be believed." ...

... The Alternative Perp Theory Was a Winner. David Graham of the Atlantic: "... this represents a strange triumph for Ed Whelan, the conservative legal scholar and friend of Kavanaugh's. Shortly after Ford's allegation became public, Whelan delivered a convoluted, elaborate theory in which he argued that another man -- whom he identified, despite no evidence -- had attempted to rape Ford, and that Kavanaugh was innocent. Whelan's theory was immediately and rightly pilloried as both a slander on the other man and as baseless speculation. Yet Whelan's theory took deep root, in slightly altered form. Laundered of the spurious accusation, the unidentified alternative culprit became a staple of Republican rhetoric. Unwilling to be seen as outright rejecting Ford's testimony, which was broadly deemed credible, or as unconcerned about sexual misconduct in general, Republican senators instead coalesced around a theory that had even less evidence to support it than Ford's account -- Ford, after all, had her own testimony, and Kavanaugh's calendar suggested he could have attended a gathering with the very men Ford placed on the scene. There is no evidence at all for the alternative culprit." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: The success of the alternative perp theory is no surprise. Republicans are accustomed to inventing fake alternative facts to support their unpopular policies, so a fake alternative would-be rapist who magically gets their actual would-be rapist off the hook fits right in. Watch out, ladies! He's still out there somewhere and definitely not being fitted for a Supreme Court robe. ...

... Eric Lach of the New Yorker: "Last month, a reporter asked [Sen. Lisa] Murkowski if she had ever had a #MeToo moment. Murkowski answered yes, but did not elaborate." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Susan Collins is 65 years old. She has been a single working woman most of her adult life (she first married in 2012). Therefore, it is almost certain that she also has had at least one #MeToo moment. Nearly every woman of a certain age has been sexually assaulted, & the odds are higher for women who work, higher yet I'd guess for women who work with men in politics. So there's something really weird in her inability to accept as fact what Brett Kavanaugh did to Christine Blasey. ...

... It Is All about Sex. Scott Lemieux loves this WSJ headline: "Susan Collins Consents." "This metaphor brought to you by the print house organ of the Republican Establishment." ...

... Kevin Robillard & Amanda Terkel of the Huffington Post: "While the election is more than two years away, Democratic donors, activists and operatives are already signaling they'll be focused on ousting the woman whose pledge to support Brett Kavanaugh likely sealed his confirmation to the Supreme Court. Recruiting efforts have already begun, and donors large and small are promising financial support for Collins' opponent. Major donors have already pledged $1 million to an effort to register and educate voters in Maine ahead of the contest.... They said they hope they can eventually raise as much as $4 million.... This new effort comes on top of more than $2 million that activists raised for a future Democratic opponent to challenge Collins in 2020, in the event that she decided to vote for Kavanaugh. (The crowdfunded effort crossed the $2 million mark while Collins was delivering her speech explaining her vote for Kavanaugh.)... Defeating Collins is easier said than done. She won her last two Senate elections, in 2008 and 2014, with more than 60 percent of the vote. She has a strong reputation for bipartisanship in her home state...." ...

... John Wagner & Seung Min Kim of the Washington Post: "The Senate advanced Brett M. Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination in a key procedural vote Friday morning, putting him one step closer to confirmation and ending a deeply partisan and rancorous fight in the Senate. The chamber voted 51 to 49 to advance the nomination after Republican leaders secured the votes of two GOP senators and one Democrat who had not publicly announced their intentions before arriving to vote.... Sens. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) and Susan Collins (Maine), two of the Republican holdouts, voted to advance President Trump's nominee, while Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) was the only GOP senator to break with her party. Sen. Joe Manchin III (W.Va.), a red-state Democrat up for reelection next month, was the only Democrat to support Kavanaugh. The vote Friday is a strong indication that Kavanaugh will win confirmation but some votes could change. Collins considered a key swing vote, said that she would vote to advance the nomination but wait until later Friday to say how will vote on confirmation." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Grassley Went Fishing for Alternative Penis Facts. Heidi Przybyla of NBC News: "As Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, closed out his executive summary of allegations of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, his staff called a former roommate of Deborah Ramirez, the Yale classmate who has accused Kavanaugh of exposing himself to her. Jen Klaus, the former roommate, told NBC News that committee staff members called her at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, put her on speakerphone and asked about Ramirez's drinking habits, whether there was a Yale student known for dropping his pants and the party culture at Yale. She says they suggested the allegation was a case of mistaken identity. 'It just gave me the impression they were suggesting perhaps it was (another classmate) who threw his penis in her face instead of Brett. Why would they be asking me this?' said Klaus.... In a statement to NBC News, the committee's press secretary, George Hartmann, said that 'no suggestion of mistaken identity was made.'... Two former Yale classmates say they have made several attempts to share text messages raising questions about whether Kavanaugh tried to squash the New Yorker story that made Ramirez's accusations public -- and say the FBI did not respond to their calls and written submissions to its web portal." ...

... New York Times Editors: "Depending on your politics, you might pick one starting point or another for the nastiness of the modern battles between the parties over individual court seats. But it was Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, who openly established partisan control of the court itself as the stakes in the struggle. He refused to allow Barack Obama to fill a vacancy for almost a year, holding the seat open to draw evangelical voters to the polls and elect a Republican president. That was a clever gambit, though it had the downside of risking the credibility of the American legal system. The bet has now paid off, and the risk has been realized. The president whom Mr. McConnell helped elect turned out to be Donald J. Trump. And ... Mr. Trump chose ... Kavanaugh. The result was a confirmation process, and now almost certainly a justice, tainted by dishonesty, shamelessness, self-pity, indifference to women's fears and calculated divisiveness -- the hallmarks, in other words, of Mr. Trump's politics. Having first sickened the White House and then Congress, the virus of Trumpism is about to spread to the Supreme Court itself.... Most Americans are not where this Senate majority is. They do not support President Trump. They do not approve of relentless partisanship and disregard for the integrity of democratic institutions. And they have the power to call their government to account."

Melanie takes selfie of the image of colonial oppression.... Betsy Klein & Kate Bennett of CNN: In Kenya, Melania Trump goes full colonialist in a white pith helmet. "While pith helmets are still available for purchase online and in hat shops, they have come to symbolize white colonialist rule over the years, and, according to The Guardian, 'a symbol of status -- and oppression.'"

Beyond the Beltway

Olivia Exstrum of Mother Jones: "A jury in Cook County, Illinois, has found white Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, who shot and killed black 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in 2014, guilty of second-degree murder. The jurors also convicted Van Dyke on 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm. He was found not guilty of a charge of misconduct in office. There is no mandatory sentence for second-degree murder in Illinois, but each count of aggravated battery with a firearm can bring a sentence of 6 to 30 years -- which means Van Dyke could potentially face 480 years behind bars. After the verdict was announced, the judge revoked the officer's bail, and Van Dyke was taken into custody.... [The] verdict is somewhat surprising, given that police officers are rarely charged, much less convicted, for participation in a fatal shooting." ...

... Megan Crepeau, et al., of the Chicago Tribune: "With an entire city watching, convicted murderer Jason Van Dyke was taken into sheriff's custody Friday and escorted from the courtroom. And Chicago exhaled. Businesses closed early and commuters scurried out of downtown, but the feared riots never materialized. Protests, too, remained peaceful.... Since the court-ordered release of a police dashboard camera video showing Van Dyke shooting [Laquan] McDonald as he walked down a Southwest Side street holding a knife, the city has faced a political and social reckoning unlike any in recent decades. Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy was fired. Voters ousted Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez. Mayor Rahm Emanuel opted not to run for re-election. Three other Chicago police officers have been charged with conspiring to cover up what really happened on Pulaski Road on the night of Oct. 20, 2014, and are slated to go to trial late next month. In addition to that criminal case, the entire Police Department now faces federal oversight following a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into the shooting."

Thursday
Oct042018

The Commentariat -- October 5, 2018

Sheryl Stolberg & Nicholas Fandos of the New York Times: "Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh appeared destined for final confirmation to the Supreme Court after two key undecided senators -- Susan Collins of Maine and Joe Manchin III of West Virginia -- announced Friday that they would support his elevation to the high court after the most divisive confirmation fight in decades." ...

... As I write, Susan Collins is standing on the Senate floor justifying a vote for Kavanaugh. She has not yet announced how she will vote, but if she announces "no," it will be because lightning struck her. Lightning did not strike. After Collins finished her lo-o-ong grandstand, Joe Manchin announced that he too would vote for Kavanagh's confirmation. So it will soon be Justice Wood B. Rapist. ...

... John Wagner & Seung Min Kim of the Washington Post: "The Senate advanced Brett M. Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination in a key procedural vote Friday morning, putting him one step closer to confirmation and ending a deeply partisan and rancorous fight in the Senate. The chamber voted 51 to 49 to advance the nomination after Republican leaders secured the votes of two GOP senators and one Democrat who had not publicly announced their intentions before arriving to vote.... Sens. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) and Susan Collins (Maine), two of the Republican holdouts, voted to advance President Trump's nominee, while Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) was the only GOP senator to break with her party. Sen. Joe Manchin III (W.Va.), a red-state Democrat up for reelection next month, was the only Democrat to support Kavanaugh. The vote Friday is a strong indication that Kavanaugh will win confirmation but some votes could change. Collins considered a key swing vote, said that she would vote to advance the nomination but wait until later Friday to say how will vote on confirmation." ...

... MSNBC reports that Jeff Flake will vote to confirm Kavanaugh. ...

... Trump Tweets Conspiracy Theory. Jane Coaston of Vox: "On Friday..., Donald Trump tweeted that people protesting against Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court by confronting members of Congress are 'paid professionals only looking to make Senators look bad,' adding that they were 'paid for by Soros and others.' This is the first time the president has referenced Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros, whose links to progressive causes have made him a far-right boogeyman both in the United States and around the world."

... D.W. Pine of Time: "Using words and phrases from Ford's testimony, San Francisco-based artist John Mavroudis recreated her likeness by drawing each letter by hand." Haley Edwards' cover story is here. ...

I testified with five people foremost in my mind: my mom, my dad, my wife, and most of all my daughters. I hope to be a role model for them with my vitriolic partisanship and conspiracy mongering, my deceptive and incomplete answers, and my snide remarks. -- Paraphrase of Kavanaugh's WSJ op-ed by NYU historian Tom Sugrue, via Jeet Heer ...

... Mrs. McCrabbie: Judge Wood B. Rapist has written an op-ed boasting about what a good boy he is. Sadly, he decided to place in the EXCLUSIVE firewalled rich people's Wall Street Journal, so I won't be able to link it (if the WSJ took down the firewall for this particular op-ed [update: and it appears it has], I'm still not going to link it). You can read about Kavanaugh's non-apology in this New York Times report. ...

... OR Here. "I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General." Abby Zimet of Common Dreams: "Whoa. Clean Up On Aisle Four: With the The Washington Post and distinguished former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens now joining lawyers, judges, sexual assault survivors and much of the furious country in urging our next Supreme Court judge not be a lying, belligerent, injudicious partisan hack, said hack has taken to the Wall Street Journal to write an unprecedented op-ed defending himself. With the meme-enticing headline, 'I Am An Independent, Impartial Judge,' Kavanaugh didn't apologize for last week's frenzied, paranoid testimony but conceded, 'I was very emotional..., and I said a few things I should not have said. I hope everyone can understand that I was there as a son, husband and dad.' He also whined about 'wrongful and sometimes vicious allegations,' 'deep distress,' 'unfairness,' etc.... The problem, as many pointed out, was that his craven-cum-arrogant non-apology used the language of every other abusive, alcoholic son, husband and dad who did or said heinous things in the dysfunctional heat of the moment, sobered up the next day and frantically sought to cover his repugnant tracks.... Like his Fox News performance, he also again went to the only media source - Murdoch-land - that would have him without asking pesky factual questions like those mean Democrats did for like almost a whole hour. Finally, despite his protestations about his upstanding judgement, it's tough to trust anyone who chooses a headline so ripe for savage mockery, which quickly came: ... 'I am an insane, intoxicated judge,' 'I am the rightful heir of the Romanovs,' 'I am the very model of a modern major general,' etc." ...

... Nicholas Fandos & Sheryl Stolberg of the New York Times: "The Senate, deeply divided over the results of an F.B.I. investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, moved uneasily toward a Friday morning vote that will most likely determine whether President Trump's nominee will reach the Supreme Court. Republican leaders were increasingly confident that despite a barrage of accusations, the Senate will narrowly vote to cut off debate on Judge Kavanaugh's nomination and move to a final confirmation as early as Saturday. Because Republicans changed Senate rules last year to end filibusters for Supreme Court nominees, Friday's vote will need the same 50 senators that the final confirmation tally will need. But with four senators still undecided -- the Democrat Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and the Republicans Jeff Flake of Arizona, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska -- Judge Kavanaugh's confirmation was still not assured." ...

... Elana Schor, et al., of Politico: "Key undecided Republican senators are signaling on Thursday the FBI report on sexual misconduct allegations against Brett Kavanaugh may give them the confidence they need to back the embattled Supreme Court nominee. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) told reporters that 'we've seen no additional corroborating information' about alleged sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh in high school and college, and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said the investigation 'appears to be a very thorough' one. But Collins made clear that she remains undecided on Kavanaugh and wants to read more of it herself." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... John Wagner & Seung Min Kim of the Washington Post: "As the Senate began reviewing the new FBI report on Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh on Thursday, both Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley and the White House stood by President Trump's Supreme Court nominee, saying the investigation found nothing sufficient to corroborate allegations of sexual misconduct while Kavanaugh was a teenager. 'There's nothing in it that we didn't already know,' Grassley (R-Iowa) said in a statement after being briefed on the report by his staff. 'It's time to vote.'" Mrs. McC: Thanks, Chuck, for repeating verbatim what we all predicted you would say. (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Kevin Wallevand of ABC News Fargo: "U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp will vote NO on U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh's nomination. Heitkamp sat down exclusively with WDAY News to share what she will do when the U.S. Senate votes on U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Heitkamp also shared her reasoning behind her decision [which she explains in the embedded video]." She believes the women. Good for Heitkamp. She is down in the polls; this took guts. I just sent her 50 bucks. ...

... Tal Axelrod of the Hill: "A GOP senator may miss a Senate confirmation vote for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh this weekend because his daughter is getting married on Saturday. Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) will walk his daughter down the aisle for her wedding regardless of the timing of the vote, a Daines spokesperson confirmed to The Hill. Senate Republican leaders plan to hold a key procedural vote Friday morning, setting up a potential confirmation vote for Saturday afternoon. It is unclear if Daines' trip will impact the timing of the vote." Mrs. McC: Oh, it will, unless Mitch has a clear majority without Daines. ...

... Erin McGroarty of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: "More than 350 female attorneys from Alaska have sent a joint letter to Alaska Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan opposing the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.... 'We are Alaskan women attorneys who work in a variety of settings...,' the letter begins. 'Among us are Republicans, Democrats, Nonpartisan and Undeclared voters. We ask you, as your constituents and as fellow lawyers, to vote against confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh as justice of the United States Supreme Court.' The letter notes that the group's opposition to Kavanaugh is not based on policy disagreement or political affiliation but rather on a concern about allegations of sexual misconduct and even more with Kavanaugh's temperament, which the attorneys consider unbefitting for someone on the nation's highest court." ...

... ** Lulu Ramadan of the Palm Beach Post: "Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens on Thursday said that high court nominee Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, who Stevens once lauded in one of his books, does not belong on the Supreme Court. Speaking to a crowd of retirees in Boca Raton, Stevens, 98, said Kavanaugh's performance during a recent Senate confirmation hearing suggested that he lacks the temperament for the job." Stevens is a life-long Republican.... Stevens, who retired in 2010 after 35 years on the bench, stands as one of the longest-serving justices in history. Nominated by President Gerald Ford, Stevens was unanimously confirmed by the Senate." ...

... Jonathan Chait: "The FBI investigation into Brett Kavanaugh has turned out to be a fig leaf. Multiple reports tell the same story: The White House has controlled the probe, ignoring the attempts by multiple witnesses to reach investigators and wrapping up its work well before its already-tight deadline. In the meantime, however, significant new evidence has appeared from the news media. It demonstrates beyond a doubt that Kavanaugh's emotional testimony was a farrago of evasions and outright lies." ...

... David Corn of Mother Jones: Why didn't the White House allow the FBI to interview Christine Blasey Ford & Brett Kavanaugh, which would of course be standard in any investigation of an allegation of sexual misconduct? "Democrats on Senate Judiciary Committee have a theory: Trump White House officials blocked an interview with Ford because they were worried about the FBI questioning Kavanaugh.... During the hearing last week on Ford's allegations, Kavanaugh frequently dodged questions from Democratic senators, who each were limited to five-minutes of time.... [And Republicans spent their time whining about Democrats.] Kavanaugh did not undergo a true and professional grilling. An FBI interview would have been a much different experience.... It does make one wonder just what Trump, McGahn, and other White House officials feared about a Kavanaugh sit-down with the FBI." Mrs. McC: Oh, it doesn't make me wonder. ...

... Charles Ludington, Lynne Brookes & Elizabeth Swisher in a Washington Post op-ed: "We were college classmates and drinking buddies with ... Brett M. Kavanaugh.... It was his public statements during a Fox News TV interview and his sworn testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee that prompted us to speak out. We each asserted that Brett lied to the Senate by stating, under oath, that he never drank to the point of forgetting what he was doing. We said, unequivocally, that each of us, on numerous occasions, had seen Brett stumbling drunk to the point that it would be impossible for him to state with any degree of certainty that he remembered everything that he did when drunk.... Brett lied under oath while seeking to become a Supreme Court justice.... All of us went to Yale, whose motto is 'Lux et Veritas' (Light and Truth). Brett also belonged to a Yale senior secret society called Truth and Courage. We believe that Brett neither tells the former nor embodies the latter. For this reason, we believe that Brett Kavanaugh should not sit on the nation's highest court." ...

... Courtney Tanner of the Salt Lake Tribune: "Sen. Orrin Hatch faced swift backlash Tuesday -- including accusations of 'slut-shaming' -- after sharing on Twitter an uncorroborated account from a Utah man questioning the legitimacy and sexual preferences of one of the women accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of misconduct. The Republican senator tweeted excerpts from the signed statement of Dennis Ketterer, a former Democratic candidate for Congress and D.C. weatherman with ties to Centerville, Utah, saying the man reached out to his office this week to talk about Julie Swetnick and her allegations against Kavanaugh.... In a sleazy nutshell, the story is that Dennis Ketterer claims that Swetnick approached him at a Washington bar one night and struck up first a conversation and then a brief relationship in which sex was discussed but never performed." ...

     ... SLT Editors Say Hatch Is Not Qualified to Vote on Kavanaugh. Salt Lake Tribune Editors: "The despicable attack launched by Sen. Orrin Hatch and the Senate Judiciary Committee -- more precisely, the Republicans on that committee -- on one of the women who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault is a textbook example of why more victims do not come forward. Worse, it betrays a positively medieval attitude toward all women as sex objects who cannot be believed or taken seriously. The fact that no one involved in the Twitter attack on Julie Swetnick seems to see that is solid evidence that their opinion of who should and should not serve on the Supreme Court is to be ignored." ...

     ... Update. Eli Rosenberg of the Washington Post: "Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) raised the ire of protesters on Thursday after telling a group of mostly women who confronted him in one of the Senate buildings that he would talk to them when they 'grow up.'" Mrs. McC: Make that "Not Qualified to Wipe a Pig's Ass." ...

... Just Another Constitution-Loving American. Sarah Burris of the Raw Story: "Last week, James Patrick posted a credible threat on Facebook, saying he planned to shoot members of Congress depending on the outcome of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The Florida man was arrested, yet, oddly enough, Facebook still hasn't removed the post.... [Among his posts:] 'Getting ready if Kav is not confirmed,' he wrote in a Sept. 22 Facebook post. 'Whoever I think is to blame may God have mercy on their soul .. just cleaned out the gun shop where I get guns ammo and target practice .. bought all their 50 cal hollow points. I expect to be confronted and I will be ready to kill and ready to die.'"

Trump Confirms He's a Lying, Tax-Cheating Crook. Eileen Sullivan of the New York Times: "President Trump on Wednesday criticized a New York Times investigation into his and his family's use of dubious tax schemes over the years and the origins of his own wealth.... 'The Failing New York Times did something I have never seen done before. They used the concept of "time value of money" in doing a very old, boring and often told hit piece on me. Added up, this means that 97% of their stories on me are bad. Never recovered from bad election call!' ... Mr. Trump did not offer an outright denial of the facts in the report, such as that the money he made during his decades in real estate came from tax schemes of dubious legality, the existence of records of deception in documenting the family's financial assets, and that the beginning of the president's so-called self-made fortune dates back to his toddler years when, by the time he was 3 years old, Mr. Trump earned $200,000 a year in today's dollars from his father. Nor did Sarah Huckabee Sanders the White House press secretary, during a subsequent briefing with reporters. Asked to identify what in the article was incorrect, she said, 'I won't go through every line of a very boring 14,000-word story.'" (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... "Government of Tax Cheats, for Tax Cheats." Paul Krugman: "The blockbuster New York Times report on the Trump family's history of fraud is really about two distinct although linked kinds of fraudulence. On one side, the family engaged in tax fraud on a huge scale, using a variety of money-laundering techniques.... On the other, the story Donald Trump tells about his life -- his depiction of himself as a self-made businessman who made billions starting from humble roots -- has always been a lie: Not only did he inherit his wealth..., but Fred Trump bailed his son out after deals went bad.... The truly wealthy end up paying a much lower effective tax rate than the merely rich, not because of loopholes in tax law, but because they break the law.... America's wealthy [are] probably costing the government around as much as the food stamp program does. And they're also using tax evasion to entrench their privilege and pass it on to their heirs, which is the real Trump story.... Republicans in Congress have ... been systematically defunding the Internal Revenue Service, crippling its ability to investigate tax fraud."

... John Whitlow in a New York Times op-ed: "Donald Trump is a homegrown creature, a species well known and justifiably loathed by most New Yorkers — the unscrupulous landlord.... More than a stooge for Vladimir Putin or the embodiment of a disgruntled -- and mythical -- white working class, Mr. Trump is at his core a landlord, turning a handsome profit while the rest of us live in increasingly precarious conditions.... Much of the outrage generated by the reporting on the Trump family's finances has focused on tax evasion, which is immense and possibly criminal, and on the myth that Mr. Trump is a self-made man. But it is no small thing that the Trump empire is built on the same kinds of predatory practices that tenants and tenant advocates deal with every day: inflated costs for repairs, which are passed on to tenants in the form of rent increases; lax government oversight over building conditions and rent levels; and racial divisiveness." ...

... Thomas Kaplan of the New York Times (Jan. 2016): "More than a half-century ago, the folk singer Woody Guthrie signed a lease in an apartment complex in Brooklyn. He soon had bitter words for his landlord: Donald J. Trump's father, Fred C. Trump.... Mr. Guthrie, in writings uncovered by a scholar working on a book, invoked 'Old Man Trump' while suggesting that blacks were unwelcome as tenants in the Trump apartment complex, near Coney Island. 'He thought that Fred Trump was one who stirs up racial hate, and implicitly profits from it,' the scholar, Will Kaufman, a professor of American literature and culture at the University of Central Lancashire in Britain, said in an interview."

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Hillary Clinton should have had a troupe perform this at every campaign event during the general election season./p>

Lindsey Graham Is Such a Whore. Jim Tankersley of the New York Times: "Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has been one of the biggest proponents of President Trump's crackdown on China, welcoming tariffs on Chinese imports while conceding that they will raise costs for American businesses and consumers.... But behind the scenes, Mr. Graham has been working to help chemical and textile companies in his home state avoid the pain of Mr. Trump's trade war.... The senator has written seven letters to the United States trade representative on behalf of companies seeking tariff relief -- more than any other member of Congress has penned. Four of those seven received at least some of the relief they were seeking."

News Ledes

New York Times: The 2018 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded on Friday to two campaigners against wartime sexual violence: Dr. Denis Mukwege, 63, a Congolese gynecological surgeon, and Nadia Murad, 25, who became the bold voice of the women forced into sexual slavery by the Islamic State group."

New York Times: "The unemployment rate fell to a nearly five-decade low in September, punctuating a remarkable rebound in the ten years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers set off a global financial crisis. The 134,000 jobs that employers added in September reflected the slowest pace of growth in a year, and the growth in wages cooled slightly from August.... The report on Friday extended the current run of monthly job growth to eight straight years, double the previous record."

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