The NY Times:
"Ms. Haley is said to have a strained relationship with Mr. Bolton."
This has to be the least newsy news in some time.
That, and the fact that she's leaving.
"I made my decision [on Kavanaugh] based on facts," said Sen. Joe Manchin to a West Virginia voter. But by and large, his Democratic constituency isn't buying it. Reports the Associated Press:
"A day after Manchin broke with his party on what may be the most consequential vote of the Trump era, the vulnerable Democrat is facing a political firestorm back home. While Republicans … are on the attack, the most passionate criticism is coming from Manchin’s very own Democratic base, a small but significant portion of the electorate he needs to turn out in force to win re-election next month."
Mostly to women voters, Manchin has "insisted over and over that his vote wasn’t based on politics." For a sitting senator up for reelection to insist that his most significant vote of the year wasn't based on politics is preposterous on its face. Still, what else could Manchin say?
Likewise, how else should West Virginia women vote, but for Manchin again? Notes the AP: "A Manchin loss would put his party’s hopes of regaining control of the Senate virtually out of reach."
For sure, casting a vote against Manchin would be rewarding — for about an hour. Suffering Mitch McConnell's Republican Senate, however, would last at least another two years. This is one of those races in which Democratic voters — including the women whom Manchin abused with his Kavanaugh vote — must steel themselves against high-mindedness, and vote pragmatically.
Manchin has been leading by near double digits (or better, at times), and if both #BlueWave and #MeToo voters really want to send the Senate a message, they'll keep it that way.
The NY Times:
A landmark report from the United Nations’ scientific panel on climate change paints a far more dire picture of the immediate consequences of climate change than previously thought and says that avoiding the damage requires transforming the world economy at a speed and scale that has "no documented historic precedent"….
While they conclude that it is technically possible to achieve the rapid changes required to avoid 2.7 degrees of warming, they concede that it may be politically unlikely.
Unlikely is a euphemism for, "When hell freezes over," which is tantamount to, "When Donald Trump reads a briefing" — on climate change or anything else.
In its warm, glowing aftermath of Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation, the Wall Street Journal editorial board remarks that Mitch "McConnell’s legacy now includes a new conservative majority on the Supreme Court, as well as some 26 new appellate judges, substantial deregulation and tax reform. He has done more policy with a narrow Senate majority than any leader we can recall." Their memory isn't trying very hard. In the mid-1950s, Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson led the Democratic Party by a one-vote margin.
But I quibble. The WSJ's overriding point is that "More than a few people on the 'anti-establishment' right owe Mr. McConnell an apology."
And that is a broadside slamming Donald Trump's base. Mainstream, Establishment Mitch, groaned the Trumpeteers for nearly two years (usually on cue from their whining namesake), he's merely a part of the Washington "elite," which the base, also on the president's cue, just could not abide. Trump is a new kind of leader, they said: a populist, he is one with the people, those righteous Americans who've been timelessly wronged by the republic's aristocrats — the elitists, the snobs, the Mitch McConnells.
To whom the Trumpeteers owe an apology, says the Journal. And the Journal would be right. For McConnell has been taken into the fold; he too is one of the people and he has been wronged, though an elitist he remains — with the base's blessing. This — in "Trump’s supporters embrace Kavanaugh, member of a class they once rebuked" — the Washington Post addresses as a paradox.
Trump is a "wealthy reality television star who lived in a gold-encrusted Manhattan," writes the Post. "Kavanaugh has lived most of his life in the Washington area, attended elite schools and worked in George W. Bush’s administration." And McConnell, we should add, has since 1984 been an aloof, capital-city swamp rat conspiring with other cliquish rodents against das kleines Volk. Yet, the lowborn masses now love this very triumvirate of erstwhile evil as though it were one of them. The elites just aren't what they used to be.
The Post interviewed a few Trumpers who had attended a Minnesota rally. Pete Klinghagen's comment was rather typical: "He’s a billionaire, he’s never had to struggle, but somehow he gets it. He understands what we’re all going through…. He goes out, he’s everywhere, he’s listening." (It is anyone's guess how screaming at thousands of rally attendees is "listening.") Said self-described "Christian right-wing" Karina Van Meekeren: "Instead of being respectful and being honest and coming up with things that truly are in somebody’s past, [the Kavanaugh Affair has] turned into a witch hunt with people creating and fabricating stories to keep people out." (I might remind Ms. Van Meekeren that the "Access Hollywood" tape was "truly … in someone's past," although that made no difference to her.) As well, Mitch McConnell is now due, from this crowd, almost Trumpian heights of praise.
Such praise is incumbent because the threesome hates Democrats, liberals, progressives, the media, Hillary Clinton and George Soros — or, notes the Post, "anyone who tries to stand in the way of Trump notching wins." Adds the Post: "Kellyanne Conway … once described the Trump movement as 'us vs. the elite,' it has since become them vs. everybody else."
Indeed the latter would be a supermajority of the American population, while the former — the "them" — would be the white working class and evangelical hypocrites and any Trump-fawning elitists. Among those in this paradoxical mix, there is only one standard: "embracing anything touched by Trump." Which is why, to rational outsiders, Trumpism seems so incoherent.
Maine resident and Barnard College English professor Jennifer Finney Boylan has had quite enough of Susan Collins, the state's "centrist" senator and the nation's Republican "maverick":
"[Collins has often voted] with the most right-wing members of her party, even while attempting to occupy some imaginary moral high ground.…. [And] in giving him a victory on Judge Kavanaugh, she has emboldened Mr. Trump to continue down the very path she claims to detest: denigrating women, bullying opponents, choosing the most combative approach to every disagreement…. In so doing, she has proved herself, in the end, to stand for nothing."
That, perhaps, is why fellow senator Lindsey Graham — who, writes Frank Bruni, "gushes so much [about Trump] that he makes Rudy Giuliani look withholding" — said of Collins' yes vote on Kavanaugh: "You did a good thing." For Graham himself has come to stand for nothing, if one doesn't count his cringeworthy toadyism toward the equally principles-indifferent president.
Collins is the most easily fooled of all U.S. senators, because she wants to be fooled. Classic was her January gullibility, that being when she reportedly strong-armed Mitch McConnell into guaranteeing votes to strengthen certain elements of Obamacare in exchange for her vote for Trump's outrageously counterproductive tax bill. She threatened "consequences" if McConnell failed to live up to his word. He didn't, no consequences ensued, and Collins blithely went on her way. The majority leader saw what Ms. Boylan sees: Collins was merely fooling herself so as to "occupy some imaginary moral high ground."
She did it again when she said — she actually said — that "my fervent hope is that Brett Kavanaugh will work to lessen the divisions in the Supreme Court so that we have far fewer 5-to-4 decisions and so that public confidence in our judiciary and our highest court is restored." If the restoration of public confidence in the Supreme Court was one of the Senate's main goals, then confirming Kavanaugh was as conspicuously counterproductive as Trump's tax bill.
Her melodramatic floor speech last Friday reaped praise from a few surprising sources, such as veteran political reporter Carl Hulse, who should know better. "She made perhaps the best Republican case so far for the embattled judge," effused Hulse that same day. "She … delivered a reasoned, carefully researched, 45-minute point-by-point defense of her support for Judge Kavanaugh…. It was Ms. Collins on display as a studious former staff member, marshaling information gleaned in extensive conversations with Judge Kavanaugh and legal experts." One of her defensive points was that "we will be ill-served in the long run if we abandon innocence and fairness." Sound reasoning as far as it goes, but innocence and fairness also require prudence and good judgment when weighing momentous nominations such as Kavanaugh's supremely troubled one.
In one way I can understand Hulse's applause. Like millions of others, he was probably desperate to find some virtue remaining in congressional Republicans. This ghastly party of thugs, demagogues and nihilists has been shorn of any ethics for so long, one yearns for even the smallest sign of lingering decency. We found that last week in Sen. Lisa Murkowski. But one Republican senator wasn't enough to keep the truth-challenged Kavanaugh off the highest bench. We needed one more. I scarcely believed Susan Collins would be that additional no vote, but given Jeff Flake's liberated circumstance (he's retiring), I did believe he just might rise to the occasion.
My belief was misplaced. Because the Republican Party is an almost entirely degenerate collection of … see preceding paragraph … from Sen. Collins on down.
Yale history professor Joanne Freeman tells the NY Times "that since the nation’s founding there had only been 'a handful of other times that have been this ugly,' including the run-up to the Civil War."
Indeed it seems we've been stuck in another 1850s sectional crisis for years, with the nation ripping at itself from both the left and right. The chief difference between now and then, however, is that in the 19th century, America understood what ailed it — the tremendously explosive, ethical rot of slavery. These days we appear to be shadow boxing, though with almost equal fury. What is it, exactly, that the nation has been rending itself over?
The Times notes that "To the right and left alike, Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination appears less like a final spasm of division … than an event that deepens the national mood of turbulence." Whence this riotous mood? From President Obama's eight years of mostly peace and increasing prosperity, which his hapless successor inherited.
Had Trump taken the reins in 2009 with the congressional majorities he now enjoys, there would have been, in rather short order, cause for almost unequaled national unquiet. His chest-puffing would have taken us even deeper into Iraq — if nothing else, to steal the oil, remember? — and neither he nor his Republican backers in Congress would have gotten recessionary economics right.
The result would have been more blood and more treasure spilled overseas, as the domestic economy poured into utter collapse. Nine years later, the only oddity of national turbulence would be its absence. The causes of our agitated mood would be unmistakable; we would all know, precisely, what we were fighting about.
Today, however — even though Trump is riding the peace-and-prosperity coattails of President Obama — we are agitated as if all is in ruin. Which leads one to wonder — Why?
Joe Biden has called it a "blind rage" — from the right — that "threatens not only the Senate and the Supreme Court. It threatens the basic faith the American people have in our institutions." Its defense of these institutions has the left just as roiled. Yet while defending America's traditional structures has clear-sighted, intelligent and historical purpose, attacking them and tearing them down is but the act of vague, besotted, irrational anger. In short, the left wants to know from the right: Why are you doing this?
"[Trump] campaigned as a rough-speaking warrior against the political establishment and its consensus economic policies" (which brought us out of a recession), continues the Times, and he achieved electoral victory by "mastering the existing divisions at the heart of the country’s culture, exploiting fissures around identity, ethnicity, sex, religion and class."
In other words, Trump, in Obama's good economic times, has created national furies out of whole cloth. Why is the right in a "blind rage?" Beyond blaming the left for every perceived social ill and inexorable demographic changes, the right couldn't begin to articulate why; it just knows it's furious — because Trump tells them they should be.
This is unquestionably the first era in American history in which the nation is ripping itself apart merely at the whim of an ignorant, self-inflated, deeply unbalanced demagogue who cannot thrive on anything but division and conflict.
Paul Krugman, on the NY Times' recent exposé of Trump's many financial transgressions:
"The corruption isn’t subtle; on the contrary, it’s cruder than almost anyone imagined. It also runs deep, and it has infected our politics, quite literally up to its highest levels."
More insidiously, it has infected our politics at the lowest levels.
Trump supporters don't seem to at all mind that he has suckered them bigly, and they actually admire the crudity of his corruption. To them, his acumen is in fact confirmed by his underhanded and often flagrantly illegal tactics in business: Trump is giving it to the haughty "elites," cheating only a failed government, and showing the Everyman how financial fraud is indeed the rough-and-tumble American Way — if one is bold enough to pull it off. To Trump supporters, this is admirable stuff.
But they're worse than supporters and suckers. They're co-conspirators.
Or is he?
Lisa Murkowski has just voted No on cloture, reports MSNBC.
Update: Yes, Kavanaugh is not only alive. He's alive and well. (For now.)
I was at an Italian restaurant with my daughter this afternoon when the dreadful news came over her phone: Susan Collins would be voting to betray every American male of conscience and every American woman, full stop. Jeff Flake had announced his indecency earlier.
These advertised previews were, of course, to be expected, although my running hypothesis had been that Sen. Flake — who still reportedly envisions yet another life in elected office — would break formation for a change and do not only the smart political thing, but the ethical thing. If a conservative alternative to Trumpism is to someday emerge (and it will), Flake would have been a natural leader within the movement. That rather wholesome future he has now squandered. His reasoning appears to have been anything but; the man wouldn't know smart, ethical politics if it kicked him in his Arizona-dessicated testicles.
Sen. Collins? She's just as hopeless, just as disgraceful, just as dimwitted as Flake. And then there's the Democratic variety of Flake-ism, Joe Manchin, who quite obviously values reelection over the mere, whimsical wants of silly women, such as the expectation of physical and emotional security, the expectation of at least equal credibility with men, the expectation of simple respect. None of which will they ever get from Mitch McConnell & Pals, because, notes David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report:
To Dems who can’t believe what they’re watching, remember: a majority of the Senate now represents 18% of the population & answers to a subset of voters that is considerably whiter, redder and more rural than the nation as a whole. That’s the reality of our times.— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) September 27, 2018
Here, courtesy the Wall Street Journal opinion page, is Judge Kavanaugh's "apology" for his behavior before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week — without which, paradoxically, he would not have survived up to this week — boiled down to 117 of his own words:
[On the night of my nomination,] I explained … a good judge must be an umpire—a neutral and impartial arbiter who favors no political party, litigant or policy.
[Likewise,] the Supreme Court must never be viewed as a partisan institution.
[But] after my initial hearing concluded, I was subjected to wrongful and sometimes vicious allegations.
[So] I forcefully and passionately denied the allegation against me.
[Simply put,] I might have been too emotional at times…. I said a few things I should not have said.
[However,] you can count on me to be the same kind of judge and person I have been for my entire 28-year legal career: hardworking, even-keeled, open-minded, independent and dedicated to the Constitution and the public good.
[Because] I revere the Constitution.
As with most political apologies, this wasn't one. Nowhere in Kavanaugh's op-ed does he state regret for any specific, verbal misdeeds — even though there were a "few" of them. More than that, having become so publicly and prominently unhinged last week — which, again, secured his support on the right and was therefore not a misdeed pragmatically — how can the nation "count on [him] to be the same kind of judge and person" he once prided himself on? In a moment of intense adversity, when composure was most needed, Judge Kavanaugh wigged out. That is not the temperament of a Supreme Court Justice.
For pure entertainment value, one is better off reading the Wall Street Journal's opinion of this squalid, GOP-induced firestorm. Here, for instance, we learn that "the best summary" of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's testimony comes not from any impartial source, but from the Republican-hired gun moll who "prosecuted" her last week, Rachel Mitchell.
"Then," continues the WSJ editorial board, "there is the claim that Mr. Kavanaugh has been treated no worse than Judge Merrick Garland…. So destroying a man’s reputation and accusing him of gang rape is the same as putting a nomination on hold for several months to let the voters decide who should nominate the next Supreme Court Justice?" Correction: Mitch McConnell did not put Judge Garland's nomination "on hold." In a monstrous, anti-constitutional maneuver that will do lasting harm to the judiciary and the American system of government, he killed it.
Nevertheless, says the WSJ, by listening to a credible survivor of sexual assault, it is Democrats who "have done great damage to the Senate that will take years to undo."
Before writing this post I happened to come across an essay in The New York Review of Books, titled "The Suffocation of Democracy." I took time to read it only because I saw it was authored by that immensely respected scholar of the Nazi era, Christopher Browning. Upon later reading the WSJ's editorial, the good professor's words came back to me:
"If the US has someone whom historians will look back on as the gravedigger of American democracy, it is Mitch McConnell…. Whatever secret reservations McConnell and other traditional Republican leaders have about Trump’s character, governing style, and possible criminality, they openly rejoice in the payoff they have received from their alliance with him and his base…. Like Hitler’s conservative allies, McConnell and the Republicans have prided themselves on the early returns on their investment in Trump."
Harsh, but inescapably harsh. Trump, Kavanaugh & McConnell — America's 21st-century icons of white, male, appallingly corrupt, pseudoconservative power.
Not a surprise, for sure. But a disappointment, if Flake indeed votes yes. I'm certainly not surprised by Collins' seeming direction. Her gullibility is legion and her gutlessness is nearly laughable. Flake, however, sees another and higher political future for himself — and with a yes vote on Kavanaugh, he'd be doing injury to at least half the voting population, which, generally, is not considered smart politics. Still, here we are. The NY Times:
"Two key undecided senators signaled Thursday that they are satisfied with the F.B.I.’s investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh…. Senators Jeff Flake of Arizona and Susan Collins of Maine did not say that they will vote for Judge Kavanaugh, President Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee. But after a closed-door briefing in which Republicans were told that no witnesses corroborated the accounts of Judge Kavanaugh’s main accusers, both made positive remarks."
It's not yet officially time to declare the game over. On the other hand, it's not too early to begin looking forward to Democratic supermajorities in Congress, followed by the impeachment and conviction of Judge Kavanaugh. Until then, let us hope that, from next week to 2020, Republicans suffer a torrent of fresh allegations against the robed one — which would help ensure said Democratic supermajorities.
The latest from Cook Political Report's House ratings:
"There are 15 GOP-held seats in Lean or Likely Democratic (including seven incumbents) and Democrats would only need to win 11 of the 31 races in the Toss Up column to flip the majority. There's still time for political conditions to change, but today the likeliest outcome appears to be a Democratic gain of between 25 and 40 seats (they need 23 for House control)."
"The GOP actions are in line with Trump’s strategy throughout his presidency and during his campaign."
With those words, the Washington Post declared the final self-destruction of the Republican Party. After decades of deceitful demagoguery and racist appeals, the GOP has now sunk, en masse, to the level of Donald J. Trump. And a political party cannot go lower than that. I would dispute conservative columnist Max Boot's initial assertion that "It is too early to conclude that Donald Trump is the worst president ever." Mr. Boot, however, has never been more correct when he followed with, "But it’s not too early to conclude that he is the worst person ever to be president."
Trump is a reigning bundle of high crimes, misdemeanors, sleaze and general scumbucketry. The man has no redeeming qualities whatsoever, which has made him a natural leader of the party of Dorian Gray — mid-portrait in 2016, completed in all its grotesquery by 2018. The two are now virtually indistinguishable, reports the Post in its own skin-crawling portrait of Mitch & Assoc.:
"Spearheaded by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the blistering campaign to confirm Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court includes personal attacks on the women who have leveled claims against the judge…. The effort is shattering Senate norms at a critical moment for Kavanaugh, and it signals that the GOP is embracing the tactics of President Trump…. But party leaders are undaunted, concluding that a scorched-earth strategy is the most effective way to defend Kavanaugh and rally enough support to confirm him to the nation’s highest court."
The norm-busting, Trump-emulating, scorched-earth Republican Party has led even sour George Will to remark admirably that the often feckless Jeff Flake has "served the nation, its highest tribunal, constitutional morality and even his ungrateful party by not being a team player." That, unquestionably, is the highest compliment one could pay any modern Republican pol. To buck this man's despicable party is a virtue in itself.
It remains unclear if McConnell's incendiary campaign on behalf of Judge Kavanaugh will in fact "rally enough support to confirm him to the nation’s highest court." Nearly indisputable, though, is that personal attacks on the women whom Kavanaugh quite probably sexually assaulted will rally enough national disgust to forever darken the name, the Grand Old Party.
It is often said there is no rock bottom for the GOP. But the party-wide aping of the abhorrent tactics of Donald J. Trump has surely got to be a contender.
Astonishing news from the Wall Street Journal, 3:05am Eastern:
"The White House has found no corroboration of the allegations of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh after examining interview reports from the FBI’s latest probe into the judge’s background, according to people familiar with the matter….
"Still, the White House’s conclusions from the report are not definitive at this point in the confirmation process."
They are as far as most Republicans are concerned.
This was choice wording from the Journal, reminiscent, as it is, of the Dick Cheney-WH days: "Senators were expected to study the report at a secure location on Thursday."
This will make no difference to 48 Republican senators, but Democrats "said they were concerned about Judge Kavanaugh for reasons beyond the sexual-assault allegation, including his partisan attacks at last Thursday’s hearing." That, of course, is a prima facie concern, which, if valid — and it is — will present the Court with unending headaches in the years to come, assuming Kavanaugh is confirmed.
But, there are still three Republican senators (as well as two conservative Democrats) who have yet to condemn the Court to partisan hackery and possibly decades of infamy. Perhaps today will present us with a few profiles in courage.
One copy of the FBI report. No more than an hour to review it. No ability for any follow up. Then a rushed vote.— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) October 3, 2018
For 2 years, McConnell has been carefully and purposefully breaking the Senate. This is the final blow. No comity or tradition left. It’s just about power politics.
Bloomberg reports that the White House's "view is that [FBI] agents don’t need to go back over ground already covered by last week’s Senate Judiciary hearing or delve into allegations about Kavanaugh’s past drinking habits that may contradict his testimony."
Thus, neither Judge Kavanaugh nor Dr. Blasey is being interviewed by federal investigators, nor is a critical element of Kavanaugh's defense being examined via third parties who may know better: that Kavanaugh never blacked out in one of his teenage drinking binges.
If such black-outs did occur in the nominee's alcohol-sodden youth, it follows, obviously, that his testimony last week — that he never engaged in what Dr. Blasey has alleged — would be worthless. Had he indeed blacked out on occasion, he would have blacked out any accompanying memories as well.
I don't know about you, but I now regret that in my teenage years there were many a morning when my friends would have to enlighten me as to my previous night's activities — and these friendly reports were rarely flattering. If Kavanaugh was the booze hound he has been reported to have been, I'm sure he, too, was often treated to similar edification.
What, then, can one say about the FBI's imminent report? Likely, that it will be about as worthless as Kavanaugh's testimony last week.
From the online site, Quillette, which describes itself as "a platform for free thought. We respect ideas, even dangerous ones." Some dangerous ideas are a trifle less respectable, however, as the scholars below observe after reviewing submitted (and accepted) papers to assorted academic journals.
From Neema Parvini, senior lecturer in English at the University of Surrey:
The news that these journals are nakedly ideological will not surprise many of those who work within the disciplines of the humanities in the modern academy. Now the ticking off of buzzwords seems to stand in for checking the quality of scholarship or the coherence of arguments. The battle was lost around 1991. Around that time the great historian of the Tudor period, G.R. Elton, had been fighting rear-guard action for the discipline he loved. He saw history in the tradition of Leopold von Ranke: a meticulous examination of the primary evidence and a refusal to allow present-day concerns or attitudes to colour the subject matter. But traditional history, like all other disciplines, came under attack. Elton fumed that the younger generation was on "the intellectual equivalent of crack", addicted to the "cancerous radiation that comes from the foreheads of Derrida and Foucault".
Rosalind Arden, research associate, the Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science, the London School of Economics:
One published paper proposed that dog parks are "rape-condoning spaces." Another, entitled "Our Struggle is My Struggle: Solidarity Feminism as an Intersectional Reply to Neoliberal and Choice Feminism" reworked, and substantially altered, part of Mein Kampf….
Where the hell is Orwell when we need him? We’ve sleep-walked into a Cultural Revolution in our own backyard and I fear we have not seen the worst yet. What to do? Make the academic literature freely available to the public; tear down the paywalls. At least, then, people could see what we are up to. That would be a start.
The flagship feminist philosophy journal, Hypatia, accepted a paper (not yet published online) arguing that social justice advocates should be allowed to make fun of others, but no one should be permitted to make fun of them. The same journal invited resubmission of a paper arguing that “privileged students shouldn’t be allowed to speak in class at all and should just listen and learn in silence,” and that they would benefit from “experiential reparations” that include “sitting on the floor, wearing chains, or intentionally being spoken over.” The reviewers complained that this hoax paper took an overly compassionate stance toward the “privileged” students who would be subjected to this humiliation, and recommended that they be subjected to harsher treatment.
Dr. Arden asked perhaps the most poignant question: "Where the hell is Orwell when we need him?" He's out there, to be sure, although he has either left academics or excels at remaining quiet.
I've really nothing to say about the NY Times' blockbuster story about Donald Trump's financial schemes. After all, haven't we always known the misogynistic racist is also a fake, a fraud, a charlatan and a crook, who would now be an assistant manager at a New Jersey Taco Bell if it hadn't been for daddy?
The FBI investigation into Dr, Christine Blasey's allegations against Judge Kavanaugh took only slightly longer than a physical for Wehrmacht inductees, 1944. Critical witnesses were ignored and Kavanaugh's Yale classmates were ignored, leading a lawyer for another accuser to observe: "We are not aware of the FBI affirmatively reaching out to any of those [20 witnesses we recommended as corroboration]…. We have great concern that the FBI is not conducting—or not being permitted to conduct—a serious investigation."
Nonetheless, Mitch McConnell is promising a vote on Kavanaugh's confirmation this week. Such a vote would take place in the near wholesale absence of vital information about the man who would occupy the Court's ninth seat — quite possibly a violent, serial sexual abuser and unabashed liar.
But, as the Times reports with an air of editorial conjecture, "McConnell’s promise was as much about bluffing as it was about confidence, giving the nomination an air of inevitability even as five undecided senators will determine Judge Kavanaugh’s fate."
The five — Republican Sens. Jeff Flake, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, and Democratic Sens. Heidi Heitkamp and Joe Manchin — "are refusing to tip their hands." The left remains certain that the Republican senators will vote the party line, but of that, I remain as dubious as I am admittedly distressed. Of course there's always the danger of party discipline, so the three Republicans may fold. And I'm just as distressed about the two Democrats — the power of reelection anxiety tends to eclipse any ethical concerns.
Yet Sen. Flake, for one, went out of his way yesterday to denounce Trump's tawdry, campaign-rally ridicule of Dr. Blasey as "appalling," a Trump-adjective used earlier by Sen. Collins as well. "To discuss something this sensitive at a political rally is just not right, it’s just not right and I wish he had not have done it," said Flake. Was his outspoken assessment of Trump's scurrility a preview of his disapproving vote on Kavanaugh?
As you can probably discern, my faith in some senatorial decency is, by now, rather desperate. I'm clinging to any indications of these several, possible no votes, no matter how slim. After two years of nothing but presidential corruption, incompetence and malice, surely there is at least a handful of ambivalent U.S. senators who will decide to do the right thing … Right?
Last week he said Dr. Christine Blasey was "a very credible witness" and "a very fine woman"; her testimony was "very compelling." Yesterday:
"Thirty-six years ago this happened. I had one beer, right? I had one beer. How did you get home? I don’t remember. How’d you get there? I don’t remember. Where is the place? I don’t remember. How many years ago was it? I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. What neighborhood was it in? I don’t know. Where’s the house? I don’t know. Upstairs, downstairs, where was it? I don’t know. But I had one beer. That’s the only thing I remember."
The Times notes that these words were "met with cheers and laughter by the crowd of several thousand supporters at the Landers Center." Added the tax cheat and government defrauder and despicable little horror of a manchild president at his Mississippi campaign rally:
"And a man’s life is in tatters. A man’s life is shattered. His wife is shattered. They destroy people. They want to destroy people. These are really evil people."
Michael Bromwich, a lawyer for Dr. Blasey, tweeted that Trump's offensive was "A vicious, vile and soulless attack on Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Is it any wonder that she was terrified to come forward, and that other sexual assault survivors are as well? She is a remarkable profile in courage. He is a profile in cowardice."
After two years it remains almost inconceivable that this vile, vicious, ignorant misogynist could be president of the United States. And downright shocking is that one-third of the American public is still not troubled by his position.
We have run out of words, used up all the hostile adjectives, to describe this thug. So what next? Once I was opposed to a Democratic House majority impeaching him. Now I'm not so sure. As a singular act of governmental rectitude, in these corrupt Trumpian times, impeachment may be ethically inescapable — even if politically harmful.
From Pat Buchanan's cultural cri de guerre in the right-wing Union Leader:
"If Brett Kavanaugh is elevated to the Supreme Court, it will be because, in his final appearance, he tore up the script assigned to him. He set aside his judicial demeanor to fight for his good name with the passion and righteous rage of the innocent and good man he believes himself to be."
Buchanan concludes with the not-outlandish theory that Democrats' Kavanaugh offensive "is a dress rehearsal for the impeachment of Donald Trump. And the best way to fight impeachment is the way the judge fought Thursday."
What better way to confirm the accompanying theory that Kavanaugh's "dynamic performance" last Thursday, as I then called it while still in a state of utter stupefaction, was but a display of the right's animal spirits, as John Maynard Keynes would have called it in a different context.
Your modern conservative is anything but: He is, rather, radically oriented and violently inspired — precisely what social researchers uncovered among right-wing Americans in the postwar era. They thrive on confrontation, conflict, aggression and anti-intellectualism — the latter being at the very core of Kavanaugh's Thursday performance.
The brilliance of his reoriented gambit was that he dispensed with all erudition. He went instead with a vacuous, raw-meat tirade that, as we can see, made the rowdy Mr. Buchanan proud. The right-winging columnist emphasized "fighting," "passion" and "rage" — not intellect.
Kavanaugh knows his market.