+ As I predicted in this space last week, Chuck Schumer, Dianne Feinstein and the Democratic leadership screwed this up as usual. They turned Dr. Ford’s compelling testimony into a debate about the FBI. For most of the people who watched her, her story didn’t need any more corroboration. Kavanaugh’s petulant demeanor, lies and own writing from the time offered all the confirmation that was needed. Now you have a constricted investigation, run by one of Kavanaugh’s bros, concluding there is no corroboration for her story or that of Deborah Ramirez. Schumer and Feinstein owe it to Ford and Ramirez to resign. Now.
+ The Democrats could have made the debate about Kavanaugh’s perjury and blatant political prejudice. The case was iron-tight after the judge’s self-incriminating testimony. Instead they made it about having the FBI “corroborate” an event that needed no corroboration. They repeated Biden’s blunder (one of many) from the Anita Hill hearings by demanding an FBI investigation. In 1991, the FBI was deployed not to corroborate Hill’s story, but to smear her. It’s why Poppy Bush agreed to it so eagerly.
+ In the wake of the Kavanaugh hearings, FoxNews pollster Frank Luntz whined that: “Any political decision made now is accompanied by one side screaming bloody murder. It’s terrible for civilized discourse. It’s terrible for our democracy.” Of course, these are largely ritualized fights, as predictable and scripted as Wrestlemania. When bloody murder is actually taking place (like in Yemen or Gaza) nobody can be heard screaming bloody murder–at least on television.
+ In a similar vein, Justice Sonia Sotomayor piously admonished an audience at Princeton this week that the “Supreme Court must rise above partisanship.” Antonin Scalia, who understood that the Supreme Court functions as one of the ultimate expressions of political power, would never say anything remotely like this. Knowing they represent an endangered minority (the rich), Republicans take the court seriously, the Democrats never have.
+ How long before RBG invites Justice Kavanaugh to replace Scalia as her regular date at the Opera?
+ Trump should be encouraging the demonstrators. With all those “paid by Soros” protestors on the streets, the unemployment rate for October will probably be close to zero….
+ The three senators, Flake, Collins and Murkowski, will likely all vote to confirm in the end. In fact, condemning Trump (which is all the MSDNC crowd really cares about) allowed them to vote for Kavanaugh…(And if one defects, Mitch can always count on Joe Manchin.)
+ Joe Manchin needs to vote for Kavanaugh in order to keep his Senate seat, so he can cast six more years worth of votes like the one for Kavanaugh.
+ Once Kavanaugh takes his seat on the High Court, he’ll get to join Roberts, Alito, Thomas and Gorsuch to repeatedly gang bang all of us.
+ Recall that as a college student Jeff Flake organized in favor of apartheid in South Africa. Of course, in agitating for apartheid Flake was following in the heroic footsteps of his mentor, John McCain…
+ Mitch McConnell slithered across the floor of the Senate to defend Kavanaugh by saying “For goodness sakes, this is the United States of America. Nobody is supposed to be guilty until proven innocent in this country.” Can someone point me to a similar speech Mitch made about: Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, Laquan McDonald, Alton Sterling, Tamir Rice, Stephon Clark or Michael Brown?
+ Democrats are seriously bummed that they’ve been betrayed by their friends at FBI…
+ Cory Booker refuted Sen. Grassley’s assessment by saying there are “hints of misconduct” in the FBI report on Kavanaugh. If true, he should secretly photograph the documents & release them to the public. It would be a win for everyone. We’d see how constrained the FBI investigation truly was & Booker (the senator from Pfizer) would be booted from the Senate for violating the rules of that esteemed chamber.
+ If Kavanaugh had cried before the Senate about the fate of a young black man he’d sent to the death chamber, his nomination would have been doomed. The fact that he blubbered about his own predicament probably paved his way to a seat on the court.
+ The best way to sink Kavanaugh is to get some Frat bro to come forward and say, “Brett told me over skis one night after a Frankie Loves Hollywood concert that he was fully supportive of Roe v. Wade.”
+ Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski both said this week that they don’t believe Kavanaugh will overturn Roe. Basically, Kavanaugh vowed to keep abortion legal for the daughters, wives and concubines of rich white men, but make the experience too expensive, onerous and intrusive for anyone else.
+ Will Bret Stephens’ new buddies at MSDNC (where he struts and preens as one of the liberal network’s favorite neocons) give their one-T Bret a backslap for his “courageous” column praising Trump’s bullying of a rape survivor?
+ Neocon columnist Eli Lake pointed to Stephens column (a fellow almost-never Trumper) and snorted, “Congratulations Democrats. Your Kavanaugh circus has united the right behind Trump.” But let’s be clear. The Right was always behind Trump. Only the Bushies were holding out. Then Trump nominated one of their own and they came running to him, regardless of Kavanaugh’s horrid record. Trump must be laughing at how easy it was to make them do his bidding.
+ Susan Collins: “This appears to be a very thorough report.”
+ Oh yeah? Here’s a partial list of the more than 40 people with corroborating evidence that the FBI failed to interview, including a former Yale seminary student named Kenneth Appold, who told the New Yorker he is “one-hundred-per-cent certain” that he was told a drunken Kavanaugh shoved his penis in Deborah Ramirez’s face during a party in a Yale dorm room.
+ I got the sense that Kavanaugh was a shoe-in the moment Trump dropped the mask in Mississippi and began openly mocking in Dr. Ford to an audience that began chanting “Lock her up, lock her up!” Trump must have felt confident that the FBI report was going to be a bust.
+ Trump has a lot more of these political rallies lined up in the next few weeks. If he needs fresh misogynistic material, he could always hire Louis CK. Rape jokes aren’t really Stephen Miller’s forte.
+ A GoFundMe page for Brett Kavanaugh has already raised a half-million dollars for the frat boy judge. $500,000 in cash or a lifetime supply of Coors? Time to choose, Brett.
+ Kavanaugh’s last line of defense was “plausible drunkability.” Right, Squi?
+ Michael Colby: “So, in the end, the Republicans get the Supreme Court and Democrats get a Ben & Jerry’s flavor and SNL giggles.”
+ If the Resistance© can’t get 500,000 people to clog the streets around the capitol building before the confirmation vote on Saturday, what the Hell are they resisting?
+ At least the Oakland A’s are lovable losers, a working-class team fighting the fat cats (ie., Yankees). The Democrats don’t even go down swinging.
+ DNC chair Tom Perez says that the Party won’t hold a vote for Kavanaugh against Democratic Party senators. They’ll still get money that party loyalist donated, thinking they were funding the Resistance.
+ Q. What’s the point of being a Democrat?
A. The existentialist street cred of experiencing eternal disappointment in the leaders of your own party.
+ Last week, some polling suggested that the Democrats had a 45% shot at retaking the Senate. Now I think I think they have a net loss of at least four seats, losing Indiana, North Dakota, Montana, Florida, Missouri, and New Jersey. They might pick up Arizona and Nevada. Too early to predict?
+ “It’s never too early to predict!” – Jimmy the Greek
+ Can someone remind me how long the losing streak is for white men? Does it rival the Cleveland Indians’ last 70 years of futility in the World Series?
+ Maybe Trump will encourage white football players to start taking a knee during the national anthem to protest the all of the injustices being perpetrated against them.
+ Will the Strict Constructionists be called on to explain what the Founders meant by: “boofing” and “Devils Triangle”?
+ Kavanaugh apparently got over-excited at the thought he had glimpsed Ali Campbell, the lead singer of UB40, in a bar near the Yale campus, got into a verbal brawl and threw a glass of ice in a guy’s face. Campbell says he doesn’t recall the gig and can’t understand how the rightwing brat came to be a UB40 fan…
It is a big surprise to find out that Kavanaugh used to come to see us in his Yale days. You don’t expect a rightwing Republican to follow a leftwing reggae socialist band from Birmingham. But we used to sing about really heavy stuff and wrap it up in frothy, happy tunes, so a lot of people got into us who had no idea what we were singing about. Maybe he just loves reggae … and didn’t listen to our lyrics.
+ Senator Kennedy started out on breast milk, but soon hit the hard right stuff. (Thanks to Michael Donnelly.)
+ Sen. Grassley on why there are no GOP women on the Judiciary Committee: “It’s a lot of work—maybe they don’t want to do it.”
+ If there was an outside chance that Kavanaugh might have upheld Roe v Wade before the confirmation hearings, it’s almost certainly gone now…
+ Remember Neil Gorsuch’s first real act on the court was to cast the decisive vote in a 5-4 case permitting Arkansas to proceed with a record 8 executions in a matter of days. Who will fellow G-Prep alumn Kavanaugh kill as part of his Supreme Court initiation ritual?
+ The Roberts-Kavanaugh Court will try to take the country back to the early 1950s, which is where most of us have been living anyway. Economic and social progress rarely trickled all the way down and on those few occasions when it did, the benefits evaporated pretty fast. Check out Pine Ridge, East LA or Appalachia…
+ Kellyanne Conway courageously admitted on CNN that she had been the victim of a sexual assault. This harrowing experience didn’t raise Conway’s empathy factor, as she later told the press that she and Trump had been treating Christine Blassey Ford like a “Fabergé egg.” The attitude of the Trump administration toward sexual harassment seems in line with its new position on climate change: it’s too pervasive to do anything about.
+ So does this mean Bill O’Reilly gets his old gig back?
+ In the aftermath of yet another crippling defeat, we’re admonished by the leaders of Resistance, Inc. that the only real solution is to VOTE. Well, you can vote as many times as you can get away with and Wyoming will still have as many senators as California.
+ There’s talk of a “lasting fallout” from the Kavanaugh fiasco. I doubt it. The fallout should hit the Dems hardes. Will the party faithful demand the leadership team that has lost one winnable battle after another (Schumer, Pelosi, Feinstein, & Tom Perez) step down? Or will they just blame GOP, Ralph Nader and Susan Sarandon?
+ Do you know who was the most surprised by Wednesday’s Presidential Alert? Tiffany Trump, who just got her first text from her dad.
+ Have the Democrats already lost the 2020 election? Looking more and more likely…Joe Biden has a 21 point lead in Iowa’s polls.
+ Joe Biden has privately “described it as unfair that Anita Hill continues to hold him responsible for her rough treatment in the Senate.” Remind me who is urging Joe Biden to run for President? Besides Trump and Joe Biden?
+ Joe Biden is the kind of politician you’d really like to have a beer with…just to throw it in his face.
+ If the Democrats somehow manage to take back the House, this is what you’ll get…Nancy Pelosi Speaker for Life.
+ When history repeats itself after it repeats itself as “farce,” what do you call it?
+ If you asked me how the world might end, I’d give you a two word answer: “Lindsey Graham.”
Lindsey Graham: “Trump’s got to convince Rocket Man it’s death or condos.”
+ Is everyone losing their friggin’ minds? Bolton wants to attack Iran, Darling Nikki wants to engineer a coup in Venezuela, Mad Dog Mattis wants to expand operations in Mali, and Kay Bailey Hutchinson wants to strike Russia? (The Democrats will probably back them on all four ventures.)
+ Pompeo Maximus just announced that he is pulling the US out of the Treaty of Amity (1955), the basis of the World Court ruling this week on sanctions against Iran. This bit of belligerent grandstanding is almost certainly self-defeating since the Treaty gave preferences to US companies doing business in Iran.
+ This move was swiftly followed by John Bolton throwing a public fit over the “so-called state of Palestine’s” legal challenge to the Trump administration’s decision to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In effort to block the suit, Bolton announced that Trump would withdraw the US from the Vienna Convention on dispute resolution.
+ Here’s the first glimpse of Christian Bale as Dick Cheney in “Vice”…
+ Nick Gillespie: “A method actor, Bale got six deferments and four bypasses while prepping for the role…”
+ Lana Marks has been tapped by Trump to become the new US ambassador to South Africa. She has three qualifications for the post: she was born in South Africa but left before apartheid ended, worked for the Trump organization, and markets designer purses that sell for between $10,000 and $400,000.
+ The latest estimate of the world’s nuclear weapons stockpile from the Ploughshares Fund
Russia: 6,850 nuclear weapons
USA: 6,550 nuclear weapons
France: 300 nuclear weapons
China: 280 nuclear weapons
United Kingdom: 215 nuclear weapons
Pakistan: 150 nuclear weapons
India: 130 nuclear weapons
Israel: 80 nuclear weapons
North Korea: 20 nuclear weapons
Iran: 0 nuclear weapons
+ Pence plays the China card: “What the Russians are doing pales in comparison to what the China is doing across this country…China wants a different American president”.
+ Speaking of the Vice President, Michael Lewis in his new book on the Trump transition, The Fifth Risk (the first chapter of the book, which depicts the Trump team’s bumbling takeover of the Department of Energy, is far scarier than anything in Fire and Fury or Woodward’s Fear), tells a story I hadn’t heard before. The scene is Trump Tower on election night, moments after Pennsylvania has been called and Trump declared the improbable winner:
Chris Christie was sitting on a sofa beside Donald Trump when Pennsylvania was finally called. It was one-thirty in the morning, but that wasn’t the only reason the feeling in the room was odd. Mike Pence went to kiss his wife, Karen, and she turned away from him. “You got what you wanted, Mike,” she said. “Now leave me alone.” She wouldn’t so much as say hello to Trump.
+ Clearly, we’d all be better off if most Cabinet members and members of Congress spent their time being AWOL like Elaine Chao…
+ What is a “Democratic Socialist” when one-in-four young Republicans identify as one?
+ Out of the mouth of Trump the truth occasionally tumbles, as when he boasted this week of telling King Salman that “Saudi Arabia wouldn’t last two weeks without US support.” Is there a crack in the Orb?
+ Now, how will he break the news to Bibi?
+ Netanyahu on Trump: “I’ve asked for many things and have never been refused.”
+ Melania was in Ghana this week on her “Shit Hole Country” apology tour visiting the historic slave trading port at Cape Coast Castle. If she wanted to see the real thing in action she should visit “liberated” Libya.
+ Every administration is going to have one or two appointments with a shady past who slip through the vetting process. But Trump seems to have appointed at least one unrepentant racist in almost every agency of government. It’s hard to believe this was an accident and not the plan.
+ 5,000 dogs march against Brexit!
+ Fortunately, the big New York Times exposé on how the Trump clan got rich and evaded taxes wasn’t written by Jeff Gerth, therefore it is understandable and damning.
+ Working Class Hero: Trump was making $200,000 a year from his father at the age of 3. He was a millionaire by the time he was 8…
+ Self-Made Man: “Mr. Trump received the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father’s real estate empire….Much of this money came to Mr. Trump because he helped his parents dodge taxes.”
+ After reviewing the New York Times story on how Fred Trump skirted state and federal tax laws to sluice money to his brood, the New York business journal Crain’s estimates that Trump’s New York state tax bill (not including what he might owe the IRS) would be in excess of $400 million.
+ Trump couldn’t get a loan to purchase (over the objections of the Scots) Turnberry, so he bought it for $200 million in cash. The country club has never made money and is still losing upwards of $4.6 million a year.
+ According to new research from historian Jeffrey Adler, from the 1870s to the 1920s, Chicago cops killed 307 people, three times more than Chicago gangsters.
+ Health Care in America: Experimental physicist Leon Lederman died this week at the age of 98. Lederman won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1988 for identifying a subatomic particle called the muon neutrino. Lederman, who wrote “The God Particle,” developed dementia in the late 90s and in 2015 had to auction off his Nobel Prize for $765,000 to pay his medical bills.
+ So Amazon, in a move to stifle a unionization drive by its abused workers, raised its minimum wage to $15 an hour. But what Jeff Bezos gave with one hand, he took back with the other by eliminating monthly bonuses and stock grants. Did Bernie not see this coming before he lavished such effusive praise on the world’s richest man?
+ Why is it becoming harder and harder to find an affordable place to live in America cities? One reason is that almost all of the new construction since the economic crash has focused on “high-end” or “luxury” apartments, defined as building with 50 or more units with “resort quality finishings” aimed at “high net worth households” who could afford to own a house or condo but prefer to rent.
+ SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce to law students: “Representing corporations also can be a form of public interest law because companies contribute so much to the well-being of society.”
+ Can they really call it a SmartTV if it doesn’t have an “immutable” button?
+ Charles Darwin on megaliths and the destructive power of worms: “At Stonehenge, some of the outer Druidical stones are now prostrate, having fallen at a remote but unknown period; and these have become buried to a moderate depth in the ground.”
+ The best headline to ever run in the Wall Street Journal?
+ In the post-Kavanaugh era, are we all meant to write WTFFFF instead of WTF now? As in WTFFF did the EPA just do when it weakened radiation exposure standards? Is George Monbiot the agency’s new science advisor?
+ Since 1500, the world has lost about 180 bird species, mostly from island habitat. Now, according to a new study in Biological Conservation, bird species are vanishing on continents too. And that’s bad, very bad news, indeed.
+ Where’s the beef? Not with the wolves. The U.S.D.A. found that wolves accounted for just 0.2 % of “unintended cattle losses“ – fewer than are lost to theft, domestic dogs, or vultures.
+ Donna Strickland just became only the third woman (and the first in 55 years) to win the Nobel Prize in Physics…and her University (Waterloo) still hasn’t promoted her to full professor.
+ Trump’s all for law enforcement, except when they’re actually trying to protect something…
+ Temperatures on the North Slope of Alaska this week have been in the high 50s and low 60s, shattering records for October. Many of these towns have yet to experience a frost or see a flake of snow. The lows have been in the upper 30s. (For the background on why this is happening, check out our new book The Big Heat: Earth on the Brink.)
+ Nietzsche’s reaction to his close friend, Erwin Rohde’s desire to become a Catholic priest was “a headache that lasted 30 hours, with frequent vomiting.”
+ Congratulations to our friend Ken Ward, Jr, one of the best investigative reporters around, on his McArthur Award for his revelatory reporting on the environmental and cultural destruction of Appalachia by the coal industry!
+ Sun Ra may be dead (or worm-holed to an alternate universe), but we still have Scratch Perry and his “telepathic pants.”
+ The greatest classical music LP cover ever?
Time to Pony Up!
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It’s Monty Cliff Appreciation Week
What I’m listening to this week (on vinyl)…
Israelites by Desmond Dekker
For Those in Love by Dinah Washington
Ice Pickin’ by Albert Collins
What I’m reading this week…
A Radical History of the World by Neil Faulkner
The Ideological Glue
Eric Foner: “The potent cry of white supremacy provided the final ideological glue in the Democratic coalition. Sometimes the appeal to race was oblique. The Democratic slogan, ‘The Union as It Is, the Constitution as It Was,’ had as its unstated corollary, blacks as they were—that is, as slaves. Often, it was remarkably direct. ‘Slavery is dead,’ the Cincinnati Enquirer announced at the end of the war, “the negro is not, there is the misfortune.” (Recostruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution) Someone might consider sending a copy of Foner’s book to ‘Ye. It will lend intellectual gravitas to his anti-Democratic Party rants.