Happy Saturday Sky Dancers!
BB is still having issues with her sciatica so I’ll be sitting in the catbird seat today again!
An interesting article showed up today in The Washington Post suggesting that one day in 1973 changed our country. I was a junior in high school and remember the day and events. However, I never viewed it as being that significant. See what you think. “Jan. 22, 1973: The day that changed America” written by James D. Robenalt.
It was a day unlike any other in U.S. history. Jan. 22, 1973, was the day Henry Kissinger flew to Paris to end the Vietnam War for the United States. It was the day the Supreme Court issued its opinion on abortion rights in Roe v. Wade. And it was the day the nation’s 36th president, Lyndon Baines Johnson, died of a heart attack in Texas at 64.
Few days have represented such a turning point in the trajectory of our history, and what happened that day started a chain reaction that turned politically nuclear, leaving us with the current landscape of unbridgeable divides.
Less than a decade earlier, the American populace had seemed as united as ever in a time of landslide elections and political consensus. The disintegration of that unity began well before Jan. 22, 1973, but no date more fully captures the end of the spirit of the ’60s and the start of a darker era of seemingly permanent political schism.
More than anything, the Roe ruling drew an enduring red line through American politics, where compromise was impossible and opponents were not only wrong but wicked. Every year since 1973, D.C. has been flooded in the days around Jan. 22 with antiabortion protesters for what has become known as the March for Life. (Last year’s events were called off because of the coronavirus, yet many still came to Washington. This year, despite the ongoing pandemic, the gathering took place Friday.) Promoters refer to the event as “the world’s largest annual human rights demonstration.”
The vaccine requirements for certain events at this year’s march sparked a vicious online battle, with many abortion opponents asserting that vaccines cause abortions or are produced using fetal cells. “It is tragic that a PRO-LIFE organization would be coerced into promoting ground-up murdered baby injections!” one person posted in the comments on the March for Life website. “This is evil.”
The radicalization of our politics would not have seemed possible to the actors who made Jan. 22, 1973, such a fateful day.
I do have to say that after a few years of just being relieved that women were no longer subjected to state control I had no idea there was a group of hardcore fanatics that would twist and turn every reality about the human reproduction process and gestation period into something unrecognizable and so focused on protohumans and unaware that viable 3rd term babies are simply born. For me, it was just my first introduction to hard-core idiots. We just used to call them “holy rollers” and got a good laugh at them if we saw their tents anywhere between our trips from Omaha to Kansas City on the backroads.
You can read the rest at the link including a triggering walk down Nixon Lane.
Mississippi Today reports that “Every Black Mississippi senator walked out as white colleagues voted to ban critical race theory. The historic, unprecedented walkout came over a vote on the academic theory that state education officials and Republican lawmakers acknowledge is not even taught in Mississippi.” This is reported by Bobby Harrison. The theory is clearly the new black welfare queen with a Cadillac trope. It’s another example of hard-core idiots. The struggle continues.
Every Black Mississippi senator walked out of the chamber Friday, choosing not to vote on a bill that sponsors said would prohibit the teaching of critical race theory in the state’s public schools and colleges and universities.
The historic, unprecedented walkout came over a vote on the academic theory that state education officials and Republican lawmakers acknowledge is not even taught in Mississippi. Republicans hold supermajority control of the Senate, meaning they can pass any bill without a single Democratic vote.
“We walked out as a means to show a visible protest to these proceedings,” state Sen. John Horhn, D-Jackson, said of the unprecedented action.
In 1993, Black caucus members left before then-Gov. Kirk Fordice delivered his State of the State speech in protest of his policies. But no Capitol observer could recall an instance of members leaving en mass in protest before a vote on a bill.
“We felt like it was a bill that was not deserving of our vote,” said Sen. Derrick Simmons, D-Greenville. “We have so many issues in the state that need to be addressed. We did not need to spend time on this.
“Even the author of the bill (Michael McLendon, R-Hernando) said this was not occurring in Mississippi,” Simmons continued.
Yes, it is also now the partial-birth abortion myth of Racism. It’s yet another law designed to signal hard-core idiots to panic over a nonexistent situation also. And speaking of hard-core idiots, let’s see today’s reads on The Oath Keepers.
Erin Mansfield / Stars & Stripes: Leaked Oath Keepers list names 20 current military members
When they enlisted in the military, they swore an oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, and to obey the orders all the way up to those from the president of the United States.
But then, while still in the service, they went on to swear a different allegiance — one to the now extremist, anti-government Oath Keepers. Dozens of military members vowed they would never obey potential government orders that group leaders considered acts of war or cause for a revolution.
At least 20 are still serving.
USA TODAY confirmed with all five branches of the U.S. military that 81 people signed up for the Oath Keepers while in uniform. The names are from a hacked list that a watchdog group shared with journalists last fall. The military members are in addition to the 40 current and former law enforcement officers USA TODAY confirmed in October 2021.
The Defense Department has known for decades that its members were joining extremist groups but often did not punish them, instead keeping in place a vague policy that banned their active participation, such as through fundraising or recruiting.
In December, the Defense Department clarified more than a dozen examples of active participation, but it’s unclear whether joining the Oath Keepers and remaining a member of the militia would run afoul of the new rules.
An organizer of the “Stop the Steal” rallies that preceded the attack on the US Capitol a year ago said he would work with two extremist groups, who later had members charged in the attack, about providing security and housing for the January 6, 2021, rally in Washington.
In previously unreported videos from the social media platform Periscope reviewed by CNN’s KFile, Ali Alexander, a leader of the “Stop the Steal” rally and a central figure in the House select committee’s investigation of January 6, said he would reach out to the right-wing Proud Boys and Oath Keepers on providing security for the event. Both groups later had members charged in the attack on the Capitol, including conspiracy. Last week, the Justice Department charged the Oath Keepers leader and 10 others with seditious conspiracy related to the attack.
Alexander has not been charged or implicated in any unlawful act. He has denied working with anyone, including lawmakers or extremist groups, to attack the Capitol.
In other videos removed from Periscope — it’s unknown who removed the videos, when and why — Alexander claimed to describe further details of his communications and coordination with several Congressional Republicans pushing to overturn the election result. The lawmakers have denied planning rallies or coordinating with Alexander in any way.
And finally, from Lawfare: What Does the Seditious Conspiracy Indictment Mean For the Oath Keepers?
Attorney General Merrick Garland spoke at length recently on the Justice Department’s expansive efforts to prosecute “all January 6th perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law—whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy.” President Biden pointedly referred to the events of the day as “an armed insurrection … looking to subvert the Constitution.” Indeed, the prosecution of Rhodes and his co-defendants serves to elevate these Oath Keepers to a new tier of criminal conduct, into territory far more significant than trespassing, assault or obstruction of a congressional proceeding. This indictment may also serve as a warning to other high-level members of domestic violent extremist movements who allegedly engaged in similar conspiracies, including Proud Boys leaders such as Ethan Nordean and Joseph Biggs and potentially Proud Boys president Enrique Tarrio.
The arrest of Stewart Rhodes is likely to serve as a short-term blow to the operational activities of the Oath Keepers as a formal entity. The indictment against him makes it clear how important he is to the organization. He allegedly ran point on creating online encrypted groups where he pushed out orders to his followers. In one chat, entitled “Leadership intel sharing secured,” he noted two days after the November election, “We aren’t getting through this without a civil war. Too late for that. Prepare your mind, body, spirit[.]” Four days later, he led an online go-to meeting with fellow Oath Keepers where he “outlined a plan to stop the lawful transfer of presidential powers,” according to charging documents. While Oath Keepers general counsel Kellye SoRelle announced she is taking over as acting president, it is unclear what a post-Rhodes Oath Keepers organization will look like, or whether it will enjoy the same significance in anti-government circles without Rhodes. Rhodes played an outsized role in the organization and, in many ways, was the glue that kept the group together.
As the prosecution of Rhodes and hundreds of other Capitol Hill Siege defendants continues, it is more crucial than ever to ensure the government’s efforts to combat domestic violent extremism focus not only on the individual hierarchical groups and brands like the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys but also on their ideological adherents who may not formally join organized groups. The government’s indictment makes it apparent that Rhodes felt the events of Jan. 6 were far from a final crescendo of anti-government activity in the United States, noting that after the inauguration, Rhodes “messaged others to organize local militias to oppose President Biden’s Administration.”
This is from The Mother Jones link cited in the above Tweet. You can read the precise details there.
In court filings this week, the Justice Department further revealed the scope of the alleged plot by Oath Keepers to mobilize a heavily armed “quick reaction force” (also known as a “QRF”) just outside of downtown Washington, part of a plan to unleash violence in the nation’s capital and stop the lawful transfer of the presidency to Joe Biden. One filing, a detention memo in the case against Oath Keeper Edwards Vallejo of Arizona, hints that more people could yet be charged in connection with the conspiracy. Evidence it contains also shows that extremists have embraced Trump’s most recent rhetoric reinforcing the lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him through fraud, messaging that continues to fuel a violent far-right movement.
Ed Pilkington–writing for The Guardian–elucidates the troubles of the Trump Family Crime Syndicate. “House of Trump is crumbling’: why ex-president’s legal net is tightening”.
In a new filing released this week designed to pressure Trump and two of his children – Ivanka and Donald Jr – into facing questioning, James forensically dissects how such strikingly large valuations came about. The 2011 estimate for the Scottish property, her investigators discovered, included an estimated £75,000 ($120,000 at 2011 exchange rates) for undeveloped land at the site.
Investigating deeper, they found that the figure had been created for an article in Forbes magazine. The revelation prompted a line in this week’s filing that must be among the tartest in US financial history.
“It thus appears,” James writes, “that the valuation of Trump Aberdeen used for Mr Trump’s financial statement was prepared for purposes of providing information to Forbes magazine in a quote.”
James’s legal document is packed with similarly juicy titbits. The 2014 value of the Scottish golf club was based in part on the projected sale price of 2,500 houses on the land, even though none of the houses actually existed and the company had planning permission for only half that number.
In 1995 the Trump Organization bought a parcel of land in Westchester, New York, known as the Seven Springs Estate, for $7.5m. By 2004 it was valued at $80m and by 2014 at $291m. That 2014 figure, James notes in another exquisitely tart reference, included a valuation of $161m for “seven non-existent mansions”.
The juiciest titbit of all concerns Trump’s former home, the gilded Fifth Avenue temple to his own ego dubbed “Versailles in the sky”, in which he lived before moving into the White House. James’s investigators were puzzled to find the Trump Tower triplex in Manhattan was listed at $327m in 2015, based on the apartment’s size, allegedly 30,000 sq feet.
In fact the property is 11,000 sq feet, which produces a value of $117m. That’s an overstatement in Trump’s official financial statements of more than $200m.
You might think this family of hard-core idiots was talking about the size of fish caught or the length of the family jewels.
James is pursuing her investigation as a civil case, which means that were Trump to be found liable it could cost him heavily in fines and penalties. More seriously, James is working in coordination with the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, a similarly tenacious and relentless prosecutor equipped with a large and highly experienced team of investigators.
Bragg is asking exactly the same questions as James: did the Trump Organization commit accounting, bank, tax or insurance fraud? The critical difference is that Bragg’s investigation is criminal, threatening Trump not with fines but prison time.
“Trump could end up in an orange jumpsuit at the end of that one,” said Timothy O’Brien, a senior columnist for Bloomberg Opinion.
So, history rolls on and rolls over a lot of people. Just remember, we’ll shortly enter the Year of the Tiger.
The Year of the Rat (2020) was about survival, and the Year of the Ox (2021) was about anchoring ourselves in a new reality. The Year of the Tiger will be about making big changes. This will be a year of risk-taking and adventure. We’re finding enthusiasm again, both for ourselves and for others. Everyone is fired up, generosity is at an all-time high and social progress feels possible again.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Good Day Sky Dancers!
One of the problems that I’ve always had with sportsball is–even with strong unions– the owner/athlete paradigm is such a throwback to the relationship between the Roman Empire and all that slave jazz. The New Orleans Super Dome just got sold to Ceasar’s from Las Vegas, so now we have a new tacky thing to deal with while Golddigging Widow Gail Bensen gets to up her $4.3 billion net worth. I only wish that cities or teams could own their own franchise.
I’m not thrilled with the Olympics either, which usually is framed with similar relationships between the rules and the athletes. Also, there’s usually someone in charge of women’s wear that either hates women or is overly interested in their body parts. I’ve always been a big fan of Pink, but I’m even more a fan now for this action. This is from the UK Guardian: “Tokyo 2020: Pink offers to pay the fine for Norwegian women’s volleyball team. The ‘Get The Party Started’ singer said the European Handball Federation should be fined ‘for their sexism’”
Singer and songwriter Pink has offered to pay off the fine for the Norwegian women’s handball players who refused to wear bikini bottoms for their match against Spain at the European Beach Handball Championships last week.
The European Handball Federation (EHF) fined the team $1,765 (£1,283), or about $176 for each player, asserting that the women competed in “improper clothing” when they picked shorts rather than the mandated bikini bottoms.
Male players, meanwhile, are permitted to wear shorts no longer than four inches above the knee.
“Good on ya, ladies. I’ll be happy to pay your fines for you. Keep it up,” she wrote.
Women athletes must wear bikini bottoms with a close fit and cut on an upward angle towards the top of the leg, according to the International Handball Federation’s rules. “The side width must be of a maximum of 10 centimetres,” the rules say.
Some of the worst people are having a fit about The Cleveland Indians being renamed The Cleveland Guardians. After all, isn’t it an American tradition to diminish the humanity and culture of Native Americans? If you can stand it, This is what the Trumperz said via The Hill. Oh, and the most disliked Senator ever–Ted Cruz– is at it too. This is a look at what the Deplorables of the country think about the name change.
The rules are always weird when it comes to women. Here’s the Daily Beast with this headline: “A Key Trump Witness Is Being Muzzled Over Her Custody Battle. Jennifer Weisselberg is the only person willing to speak publicly about Trump employees accepting untaxed corporate perks instead of salary. She’s been ordered to keep quiet.” I only wish they could gag order Trumperz.
As the New York criminal investigation into the Trump Organization deepens, a parallel battle is quietly playing out in the city’s family court, where lawyers are trying to muzzle one of the government’s key witnesses—and cast doubt over her mental health.
Jennifer Weisselberg, the ex-wife of Trump employee Barry Weisselberg—and former daughter-in-law of one of Trump’s closest business confidants, Allen Weisselberg—has told investigators that executives at the Trump Organization were rewarded with untaxed perks.
Her documents and grand jury testimony were crucial to last month’s indictment of her former father-in-law, the corporation’s chief financial officer. And she has repeatedly explained to journalists how the tuition for her children’s private school was an untaxed corporate gift paid in lieu of salary.
But all the while, she’s said these things at great personal risk; since March 19, Jennifer Weisselberg has been under a judge’s gag order to shut her up.
“Defendant, Jennifer Weisselberg, shall refrain from having any discussions or interviews whatsoever with the press about the parties’ children… the custody proceeding… or her motivation for giving interviews insofar as it concerns the children,” reads the order, signed by New York County Supreme Court Justice Lori S. Sattler.
But if she can’t talk to journalists about her children—or even her “motivation” for speaking to journalists—then she can’t explain to the public how the Trump Organization allegedly broke the law. And she’s the only person who witnessed these alleged crimes and is willing to speak publicly.
The gag order does not limit her from speaking to investigators. But three sources familiar with the divorce proceedings describe the gag order as part of a broader campaign of witness intimidation. Attorneys separately representing her ex-husband and children have repeatedly demanded court-mandated mental evaluations and drug tests for Jennifer Weisselberg. And these sources say these orders smear her character ahead of a potential criminal trial where she would be expected to testify against the company.
The rules are different for many of us. David French writes this for The Dispatch: “Structural Racism Isn’t Wokeness, It’s Reality. Christians must not deny the full consequences of centuries of intentional, racist harm.”
I’m not going to address the church’s procedural disputes. (Though I will note that it is contrary to basic principles of religious liberty to ask an arm of the state—a judge—to intervene in matters of church governance.) I am going to deal head-on with the prime underlying complaint that has triggered outrage and national media coverage of a struggle for control in one of America’s largest and most influential churches. The charge against Platt and his team can be summed up in one word: wokeness.
The congregants object to what they perceive as a pastoral embrace of critical race theory, and they assert that the Bible alone contains teaching sufficient to address America’s race problems. You can read the comprehensive complaint against Platt and his team here and the allegations of teaching or advocating CRT here.
Without restating all the contents of these lengthy documents, they include complaints that Platt and his MBC colleague pastor Mike Kelsey marched in a Christian black lives matter march and that Kelsey has endorsed the “CRT concepts” of “systemic racism” and “white privilege.” They also condemn Platt for this comment, which argues that the absence of overt prejudice doesn’t absolve one of the problems of racism and racialization:
A disparity exists. We can’t deny this. These are not opinions—they’re facts. It matters in our country whether one is white or black. Now, we don’t want it to matter, which is why I think we try to convince ourselves it doesn’t matter. We think to ourselves, “I don’t hold prejudices toward black or white people, so racism is not my problem.” But this is where we need to see that racialization is our problem. It’s all of our problem. We subtly, almost unknowingly, contribute to it.
The dissenters argue that the “solution to the ‘race’ problem in America is more Bible, not more sociology books. It is not the Bible plus a secular reading list, but sola scriptura.” It’s not just unwise to rely on secular scholarship to address American racism, they argue: It’s unbiblical.
This argument echoes tenets of the secular right-wing consensus on race—that racism exists only when there is individual malign intent, that remedies for racism should be limited to imposing consequences on individual racists, and that there is no intergenerational obligation to remedy historic injustice (“I’m not responsible for my ancestors’ sins”).
Under this mode of thinking, the concept of “equality under the law”—as mandated by the Constitution and the Civil Rights Act—is both necessary and largely sufficient to address the causes and consequences of centuries of slavery followed by generations of Jim Crow.
But on the core issues of American racism, Platt is biblically and historically right, and it’s his detractors who are biblically and historically wrong. These “conservatives” have placed a secular political frame around an issue with profound religious significance. They’ve thus not just abandoned the whole counsel of scripture, they’ve even contradicted a core component of the secular conservatism they claim to uphold.
Somehow it’s okay for children of color to experience racism, but it’s wrong for children of certain wipipo to learn about it. Seriously, what’s that all about? Here’s John Oliver explaining redlining and gerrymandering in his usual adroit way via the AV club.
The recent Republican push toward state-mandated literal whitewashing of American history to remove all that pesky racism and genocide has seen a lot of not-willfully-ignorant people stepping up to the historical plate. On Sunday, it was John Oliver’s turn at bat. His extra-long Last Week Tonight return from hiatus saw the reliably funny, research-supplied, and pissed-off Brit doing an especially comprehensive job of examining yet another area where white Americans’ perceptions of their history (and the inarguable and deeply inconvenient facts thereof) are skewed, predictably, in favor of said white people’s self-satisfied need to do nothing.
In his piece on housing discrimination, Oliver, as is his way, plucked out one representative case from which to expand his argument that the institutionalized bigotry in home ownership continues to undermine the potential of Black prosperity. In this case, Oliver’s pick of a depressingly voluminous litter came from Bruce’s Beach in Manhattan, California. That’s where a black couple’s valuable beachfront property was seized by the now-wealthy town, but only after even the most strenuous efforts of the local Ku Klux Klan failed to terrorize Willa and Charles Bruce from their legal residence. As Oliver put it in summarizing the way that the actions of government and cross-burning yahoos’ to disenfranchise Black Americans have always gone hand in soot-covered glove, “Sure, the vigilante racists are spooky, but you’ve really gotta worry when the motherfuckers with advanced degrees show up.”
Just to channel his most skeptical (and whitest) viewers for a moment, Oliver asked what’s to be done about this generations-old racist swindle, anyway? After all, didn’t Manhattan put up a nice plaque about how it stole a Black family’s land and put out a proclamation condemning the act but pointedly not apologizing? What more do the millions of Black Americans legally denied their chance top own property and accumulate wealth at the same rate as their white co-citizens want? (Psst, it rhymes with “steparations,” and Oliver asked his more historically clued in viewers to keep the answer under their hats until his wrap-up.)
So, thank you for coming to my Ted Rant on why we keep having to deal with this shit.
You may view more art and the ones I’ve posted today from The Guardian‘s: “The cheek of it: artists celebrate the bottom – in pictures.”
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
The unraveling of Brett Kavanaugh’s privilege bubble continues. Can those ugly old white male Republicans rescue him from all the women that want his heads on a platter. Yes, both of them!
Okay, where to start …
How about something written by Jia Tolentino for The New Yorker to get our day started. Here’s the headline: “After the Kavanaugh Allegations, Republicans Offer a Shocking Defense: Sexual Assault Isn’t a Big Deal”. I’m actually thinking they’ll NEVER learn.
Ever since the professor Christine Blasey Ford revealed that she was the woman who had accused the Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaughof sexual assault, in a previously confidential letter, the conservative attempt to protect Kavanaugh from her story has been, to put it mildly, forceful. Ford claims that, in the early nineteen-eighties, when they were both attending prestigious private high schools in suburban Maryland, Kavanaugh attempted to rape her at a party. Republicans have framed this story as a craven act of character assassination rather than an account worth investigating before Kavanaugh receives a lifetime appointment to make pivotal decisions for the future of the nation—including decisions about, for example, the options that will be available to women if they get pregnant after being raped.
Kavanaugh says that Ford’s story is not true. He told the Washington Post, “I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation.” Some of his allies appear to have settled on a strategy of insisting that Ford is simply mistaken—that she may well have been assaulted, but that it must have been someone else. (This theory quickly reached “Twin Peaks” levels of absurdity, with a conservative Post contributor writing a column titled “Is There a Kavanaugh Doppelganger?”) Other Kavanaugh supporters believe that Ford is outright lying, for political purposes. The conservative commentator Erick Erickson, who tweeted that he does not find the allegations “credible in any way, shape, or form,” later wrote, referencing Roe v. Wade, “Y’all, I’m sorry, but I have little patience for a group of people willing to destroy an innocent man so they can keep killing kids. And that’s exactly what this is about.”
But a startling number of conservative figures have reacted as if they believe Ford, and have thus ended up in the peculiar position of defending the right of a Supreme Court Justice to have previously attempted to commit rape—a stance that at once faithfully corresponds to and defiantly refutes the current Zeitgeist. These defenders think that the seventeen-year-old Kavanaugh could easily, as Ford alleges, have gotten wasted at a party, pushed a younger girl into a bedroom, pinned her on a bed, and tried to pull off her clothes while covering her mouth to keep her from screaming. They think this, they say, because they know that plenty of men and boys do things like this. On these points, they are in perfect agreement with the women who have defined the #MeToomovement. And yet their conclusion is so diametrically opposed to the moral lessons of the past year that it seems almost deliberately petulant. We now mostly accept that lots of men have committed sexual assault, but one part of the country is saying, “Yes, this is precisely the problem,” and the other part is saying, “Yes, that is why it would obviously be a non-issue to have one of these men on the Supreme Court.”
Go read the long form for a round up of all the rape apologia going on among white male elites who just want to be able to do the fuck what they want with women.
And, yes … some dude came up with an entire conspiracy theory just to prove Kavanaugh’s accuser was likely dazed and confused. This is from Margaret Hartmann writing for New York Magazine. Here’s the headline: “Kavanaugh Backer Presents Bonkers Theory: Christine Ford Was Assaulted by Judge’s Doppelgänger”. Try not to scream too loudly.
The sexual assault allegation against Brett Kavanaugh has put Republicans in quite the jam. On the one hand, they think failing to put Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court in the next few weeks will hurt them in the midterms, and maybe even prevent them from putting another conservative on the Court. On the other hand, it’s no longer acceptable to dismiss women alleging sexual misconduct as “a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty.”
A few more moderate Republican senators successfully pushed to let Christine Blasey Ford testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, while rejecting her request for an FBI investigation into her allegation. Meanwhile, Kavanaugh backers have already come up with a theory that exonerates him, without calling Ford a liar. Earlier this week, Senator Orrin Hatch said Kavanaugh told him “he didn’t do that, and he wasn’t at the party,” so clearly Ford must be “mistaken.” The same possibility of mistaken identity was floated by The Wall Street Journal editorial board, and by the Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker, who mused, “Could there be a Kavanaugh doppelganger?”
Ed Whelan, a former law clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia and the president of a think tank called the Ethics and Public Policy Center, took this theory to a new, wildly irresponsible place on Thursday night, actually identifying a classmate of Kavanaugh’s at Georgetown Prep, and suggesting that he, not the future judge, might have attempted to rape Ford.
The tweetstorm showed the results of Whelan’s internet sleuthing. The supposed evidence (which we are not embedding because there’s no reason to think the classmate was actually involved) includes:
• Real estate photos of the home where Whelan thinks the incident might have occurred, based on Ford saying the house was “not far from” the Columbia Country Club.• A floor plan that shows that the upstairs bathroom is across from a bedroom in this house, just like Ford described.
• And finally, the big reveal: 35 years ago, this was the home of a Georgetown Prep student who looks kind of like Kavanaugh and was also friends with Mark Judge (who was allegedly present during the assault). Yearbook photos and a current photo of the classmate are provided for comparison to Kavanaugh.
As Twitter users discussed the irony of the head of the Ethics and Public Policy Center possibly being sued for defamation, Whelan added a disclaimer…
Jonathan Swift of Axios reports that the entire White House is trying to sit on Trumpers to make sure he doesn’t attack Dr. Blasey Ford. It must be a Herculean effort.
A source who has been talking to President Trump throughout the Kavanaugh crisis told Axios that “you have no idea” how hard it has been to keep him from attacking his Supreme Court nominee’s accuser.
A White House official said yesterday: “Hopefully he can keep it together until Monday. That’s only, like, another 48 hours right?” It didn’t last that long: this morning, a few hours after this story posted, the president cast doubt on Ford’s allegation on Twitter.
- At a rally in Las Vegas last night, Trump praised Kavanaugh and added with rare restraint: “I’m not saying anything about anybody else. … So we gotta let it play out. … I think is everything is going to be just fine.”
Be smart: Kavanaugh’s Republican strategists are holding it together, but are still nervous about the unknowns — and nervous about additional stories.
- There’s a constant rumor mill that X publication has more female accusers. (Yesterday’s rumor circulating Trumpworld was that it was the WaPo. Over the weekend, the rumor was Ronan Farrow.) Just very feverish.
Testimony in limbo: Lawyers for Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, told the Senate Judiciary Committee that it’s “not possible” to appear Monday (“and the Committee’s insistence that it occur then is arbitrary in any event”), but that she could testify later in the week, CNN reports.
- “Ford’s lawyer made clear that at no point … could Ford be in the same room as Kavanaugh.”
- “There was also a request that Kavanaugh testify first at the hearing — which a … source said … committee Republicans were unlikely to grant.”
More stuff spins off as the rumors spun yesterday about The Tiger Mom grooming female law clerks to look like models for Kavanaugh caused Yale Law School to open an investigation.
The dean of Yale Law School on Thursday responded to reports that a prominent professor at the school had advised students seeking judicial clerkships with Brett Kavanaugh on their physical looks, saying the reported allegations of faculty misconduct are “of enormous concern” and calling on anyone affected to come forward.
According to reports in The Guardian, the Huffington Post and Above the Law, Amy Chua, a professor at the law school, would advise students on their physical appearance if they wanted to seek a clerkship for Kavanaugh. Specifically, Chua would help potential applicants to have a “model-like” appearance.
In a letter Thursday to the law school community, Yale Law School Dean Heather Gerken wrote that she wanted to “address the press reports today regarding allegations of faculty misconduct” and that “the allegations being reported are of enormous concern to me and to the School.”
Polls show Kavanaugh’s popularity is giving the Bork bottom a run for its money. Even Conservative Women don’t like or trust Kavanaugh.
THE BIG IDEA: The nationally syndicated conservative talk radio host Dennis Prager argued passionately that professor Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh attempted to rape her and covered her mouth when she screamed for help during a party in the 1980s “should be ignored.”
“Even if true, they tell us nothing about Brett Kavanaugh since the age of 17,” Prager, 70, wrote for National Review. “When my wife was a waitress in her mid teens, the manager of her restaurant grabbed her breasts and squeezed them on numerous occasions. She told him to buzz off, figured out how to avoid being in places where they were alone, and continued going about her job. That’s empowerment.”
The intense blowback to this piece from women across the ideological spectrum, especially younger women on the right and even at the magazine, has put into stark relief the chasm in attitudes toward sexual assault that continue to exist across generations and genders.
“Conservatives can never advocate ignoring allegations of sexual assault or diminish the importance of protecting women from abuse,” writes National Review staff writer Alexandra DeSanctis, who is in her mid-20s and two years out of college. “No moral society can overlook, downplay, or otherwise dismiss behavior as grave as what Ford alleges Kavanaugh did … To suggest otherwise is deeply perverse. … Prager’s argument in defense of Kavanaugh is destructive to the conservative movement. It is uniquely wounding to conservative women.”
There are a lot of washed up old white men that need to retire and doter their way to retirement and out of the news cycle. I’d like to include Joe Biden in that one. Doesn’t this just enrage you? From NBC News: “Biden: Senate must treat Kavanaugh accuser Ford better than Anita Hill”. This from the man of the no apology apology,
Former Vice President Joe Biden on Friday cautioned senators to treat the woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault better than the Senate treated Anita Hill 27 years ago.
“Anita Hill was vilified when she came forward by a lot of my colleagues,” Biden said during an exclusive interview with NBC’s “Today.” “I wish I could have done more to prevent those questions and the way they asked them.”
“I hope my colleagues learned from that,” he said. In 1991, Hill came forward with sexual harassment allegations during the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. At the time, Biden was the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and oversaw the hearings. Biden faced criticism for the way he handled the hearings, and for letting senators grill Hill with questions about her encounters with Thomas.
“I hope that they understand what courage it takes for someone to come forward and relive what they believe happened to them,” he said.
You’re free to draw your on conclusions on this but my bottom line is I will never vote for this man because he kept other women from telling similar stories that could’ve shown Anita Hill as one part of a pattern. That’s just the first of my complaints about Mister “Grabby Hands” on the campaign trail Biden.
I want to read more of this: “The Case for Impeaching Kavanaugh, If the Democrats win the House this fall, they can investigate the charges against him, should he be confirmed” by Ronald J. Krotoszynski Jr., a professor at the University of Alabama School of Law. writing for NYT.
Of course, even if the House impeached Mr. Kavanaugh, it would still take a two-thirds majority in the Senate to convict and remove him from the Court. But the Senate vote would surely have at least something to do with the merits of the House’s case: If a full and fair investigation shows that Mr. Kavanaugh has lied regarding the incident — he has denied it categorically and says nothing even remotely like it ever occurred — Republican senators may find it hard to vote “no” in the #metoo era. It would be a terrible blow to the legitimacy of the Supreme Court, of course, but this is the risk that Senators McConnell and Grassley seem willing to take.
Moreover, an impeachment investigation could also encompass allegations that Mr. Kavanaugh has committed perjury before the Senate, twice, related to his work on the nomination of District Judge Charles Pickering to be a judge on the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Under oath, both in 2006 and in 2018, he said he had no involvement with the White House strategy sessions associated with Judge Pickering’s nominations. Subsequently released emails, involving these sessions, suggest that these answers were at best misleading and at worst totally false.
Attending a strategy session as a White House staffer is not a crime. Lying under oath to the Senate Judiciary Committee, on the other hand, is. Perjury would be a perfectly justifiable, and constitutional, basis for impeachment.
An important caveat: Congress must take care to maintain the constitutional convention that has existed since the failed impeachment of Justice Chase. Federal judges, including members of the Supreme Court, should not be impeached based on their judicial rulings or philosophy. Accordingly, if the House were to initiate impeachment proceedings against Justice Kavanaugh in 2019, such proceedings should be strictly limited to questions associated with his alleged intentional and deliberate efforts to mislead the Senate about his character and fitness to serve.
We do not know the truth of the troubling allegations against Judge Kavanaugh. But, before someone is confirmed to the Supreme Court, good faith efforts to discover the truth should be made. And if the Senate won’t conduct a credible investigation now, the House should offer its assistance next year.
So, let me end with this from CNN: “Where negotiations stand between Kavanaugh’s accuser and Republicans”.
The impasse is broken — sort of.
After days of communicating through sternly worded letters and media appearances, all the relevant parties — Debra Katz, the lawyer representing Christine Blasey Ford who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, and both the majority and minority staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee — are now negotiating the details of a public hearing.
Congressional aides briefed on the process say there is still a lot of detail to iron out, but all agree that after last night’s call between the parties, a hearing next week is more than likely.
Bottom line: Keen observers this week have predicted this was coming — that much of what we were seeing, the back and forth, the letters, the silence at times, was part of an overall strategy to set the best terms for each side.
That appears to be the case. Nothing is set yet — and nothing will be set until Senate Judiciary Chairman, Republican Chuck Grassley of Iowa, gets sign off from the other 10 Republicans on the committee. But all signals are pointing to a hearing in the latter half of next week.
The conditions — and where they stand
These are the key conditions laid out by Katz, per multiple sources with direct knowledge, or briefed on, the call last night. Of note: those sources said they didn’t view all as red lines — just a few. That is why most believe they are on the road to the hearing.
- The hearing cannot be on Monday. That’s not negotiable and is a red line. Katz proposed this Thursday; it’s possible, but not by any means set at this point.
- Ford will not ever be in the same room as Kavanaugh. This also wasn’t negotiable, but it’s not a huge ask — witnesses can be separated and enter/leave at different times. It’s not an extraordinary request.
- Safety. This was the other key non-negotiable. Ford must be made to feel safe, which, given the threats that Katz laid out that have been directed toward Ford since this was all made public, is understood by all parties.
- Kavanaugh must testify first, before Ford. This, according to congressional aides, is a non-starter. It’s not how the committee works, and given Kavanaugh would need to respond to Ford’s testimony, will not occur.
- No outside counsel to ask questions. Republicans on the committee agreed to hire outside counsel — a woman, with experience on these issues — to ask the bulk of the questions at the hearing. This is due to both optics (all 11 GOP members are men) and order (concern that the hearing would be deemed too quickly a political circus). Katz said this would make the hearing appear too much like a trial. This wasn’t viewed as a red line by Republicans, according to the sources, and wasn’t agreed to. It will be discussed amongst committee members and staff.
- The possibility of a subpoena for Kavanaugh friend Mark Judge, who Ford alleged in her letter was also in the room at the time of the alleged assault. This is a non-starter for Republicans, who are firmly against allowing anyone outside the committee dictate who or what to subpoena.
- It was made clear that it is still the preference of Ford and her legal team that the White House order an expanded background investigation. Republicans have not — and don’t plan to — agree to that, countering that their staff has been doing that work the last few days. Sources familiar with the call didn’t view the request as any sort of red line — just a preference. One that, at this point, won’t be accepted.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
The news is ugly today. The “president” calls other countries “shitholes” as he works to turn the United States into a “shithole” full of ignorant white people who live in fear of anyone who doesn’t look and think exactly as they do. On top of the “president’s” classless vulgarity and racism, it looks like next we’re going to be subjected to examinations of the “president’s” degrading sexual history.
This nightmare reality we are living in might have been prevented if only the media weren’t populated by numerous misogynist men who prey on naive young women and at the same time enjoy mocking strong, competent women like Hillary Clinton when they dare to pursue their ambitious dreams.
In the wake of the *shitstorm* over the “president’s” vile and ignorant comments in a meeting about immigration, it looks as if one of the worst media misogynist could finally get his comeuppance.
On January 5, 2016, MSNBC Hardball host Chris Matthews interviewed Hillary Clinton in an Iowa fire station during the Democratic primary season. Network footage obtained by the Cut shows Matthews, during the interview setup, making a couple of “jokes” about Clinton. He asks, “Can I have some of the queen’s waters? Precious waters?” And then, as he waits for the water, he adds, “Where’s that Bill Cosby pill I brought with me?” Matthews then laughs, delighted with the line, for an extended moment, as the staffers around him react with disbelief, clearly uncomfortable. (Cosby has been accused of sexual impropriety by dozens of women, some of whom allege that they were drugged and raped by the comedian, some of them got addicted to drugs so they went to a rehab center from firststepbh.com.) They consulted xarelto lawsuit after the incident.
“This was a terrible comment I made in poor taste during the height of the Bill Cosby headlines,” Matthews said to the Cut. “I realize that’s no excuse. I deeply regret it and I’m sorry.”
Really? Fuck you Tweety. It’s time for you to retire.
Back to The Cut:
Matthews has a long history of talking disparagingly about Hillary Clinton, whom he once called “witchy,”and often seems to channel what a hypothetical sexist Republican might say about a woman candidate: “she-devil,” “Madame Defarge.” In 2005, he wondered whether the troops would “take the orders” from a (female) President Clinton. “Is she hemmed in by the fact that she’s a woman and can’t admit a mistake,” he asked in 2006, “or else the Republicans will say, ‘Oh, that’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind,’ or ‘another fickle woman’? Is her gender a problem in her ability to change her mind?” He once pinched her cheekfollowing an interview, and, though he later apologized, on another occasion suggested that she only got as far as she did on the political stage because her husband had “messed around.”
We’re all familiar with Tweety’s garbage talk. To paraphrase Trump: “Take him out!”
Also worth reading, tweets by Matthew Gertz of Media Matters. A couple of examples:
That’s part of a long thread about Matthews ugly sexist remarks about Clinton you can read on Twitter.
And now let’s check out some of the latest stories about the “president” Chris Matthews and his kind helped put in the White House.
The New York Times Editorial Board on the “president’s” “shithole” shitstorm: Donald Trump Flushes Away America’s Reputation.
Where to begin? How about with a simple observation: The president of the United States is a racist. And another: The United States has a long and ugly history of excluding immigrants based on race or national origin. Mr. Trump seems determined to undo efforts taken by presidents of both parties in recent decades to overcome that history.
Mr. Trump denied making the remarks on Friday, but Senator Richard Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, who attended the meeting, said the president did in fact say these “hate-filled things, and he said them repeatedly.”
Of course he did. Remember, Mr. Trump is not just racist, ignorant, incompetent and undignified. He’s also a liar.
Even the president’s most sycophantic defenders didn’t bother denying the reports. Instead they justified them. Places like Haiti really are terrible, they reminded us. Never mind that many native-born Americans are descended from immigrants who fled countries (including Norway in the second half of the 19th century) that were considered hellholes at the time.
Read the rest at the NYT link. How appropriate that the headline contains the word “flushes.”
Adam Serwer at The Atlantic: Trump Puts the Purpose of His Presidency Into Words.
Francis Amasa Walker had fought to preserve the Union in the Grand Army of the Republic, but by 1896 he saw its doom in the huddled masses coming from Eastern Europe. The “immigrants from southern Italy, Hungary, Austria, and Russia,” Walker lamented in The Atlantic, were “beaten men from beaten races; representing the worst failures in the struggle for existence,” people who had “none of the ideas and aptitudes which fit men to take up readily and easily the problem of self-care and self-government, such as belong to those who are descended from the tribes that met under the oak-trees of old Germany to make laws and choose chieftains.”
More than a century later President Donald Trump would put it differently, as he considered immigration from Africa, wondering, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” instead suggesting that America take in more immigrants from places like Norway.
These remarks reflect scorn not only for those who wish to come here, but those who already have. It is a president of the United States expressing his contempt for the tens of millions of descendants of Africans, most of whose forefathers had no choice in crossing the Atlantic, American citizens whom any president is bound to serve. And it is a public admission of sorts that he is incapable of being a president for all Americans, the logic of his argument elevating not just white immigrants over brown ones, but white citizens over the people of color they share this country with.
Please go read the whole thing.
Philip Kennicott at The Washington Post: What did the men with Donald Trump do when he spoke of ‘shithole countries’?
Over the past year, as our political culture has grown more coarse and corrupt, I’ve felt different things: sometimes, anger; often, bitter resignation; and occasionally, a bemused sense of pure absurdity. But the past two nights I have actually wept. Why now? Why in response to these particular prompts? A confused and ailing woman in a thin medical gown was tossed to the roadside in freezing weather by security guards from the University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus in Baltimore. Who orders such a thing, and why would anyone carry out that order? Then, the president of the United States calls Haiti, El Salvador and African nations “shithole” countries. Who says that kind of thing? Who thinks it? Who listens to it without reflexive outrage?
Back to the Post article:
According to a few of the president’s defenders, this is what we all really think. “This is how the forgotten men and women of America talk at the bar,” said a Fox News host, imputing to ordinary Americans sentiments they wouldn’t suffer to be said at their own dinner tables. There was the usual talk about “tough” language instead of talking about this course which helps improve language, as if using racist language was merely candor or an admirable impatience with euphemism.
His defenders seemed to say that if the president says things that we would be ashamed even to think, he is somehow speaking a kind of truth. But while there may be countries that are poor and suffer from civil discord, there are no “shithole” countries, not one, anywhere on Earth. The very idea of “shithole” countries is designed to short-circuit our capacity for empathy on a global scale.
These two incidents, in Baltimore and in the Oval Office, seem related — inhumane indifference from a hospital and blatant bigotry from the president — which is even more troubling. They are about who is on what side of the door, or the wall, or any other barrier that defines the primal “us and them” that governs so much of the worst of our human-made world. When Trump called disfavored countries “shitholes,” he was indulging the most lethal and persistent tribalism of all: pure, unabashed racism. After a candidacy and now a presidency marked by implications of racism, the president has grown more comfortable with speaking in overtly racist terms, condemning whole countries and their people for not being more like “Norway,” one of the whitest countries on Earth….
Remarks like these from the president are still shocking but hardly surprising, given the frequency with which they occur. What I want to know is how the men in the room with him reacted. This is the dinner table test: When you are sitting and socializing with a bigot, what do you do when he reveals his bigotry? I’ve seen it happen, once, when I was a young man, and I learned an invaluable lesson. An older guest at a formal dinner said something blatantly anti-Semitic. I was shocked and laughed nervously. Another friend stared at his plate silently. Another excused himself and fled to the bathroom. And then there was the professor, an accomplished and erudite man, who paused for a moment, then slammed his fist on the table and said, “I will never listen to that kind of language, so either you will leave, or I will leave.” The offender looked around the table, found no allies and left the gathering. I don’t know if he felt any shame upon expulsion.
Again, please go read the rest.
On the Trump scandal front:
More than a fifth of Trump’s condominiums in the U.S. have been purchased since the 1980s in secretive cash transactions that fit a Treasury Department definition of suspicious transactions, reported Buzzfeed News.
Records show more than 1,300 Trump condos were purchased through shell companies, which allow buyers to shield their finances and identities, and without a mortgage, which protects buyers from lender inquiries.
Those two characteristics raise alarms about possible money laundering, according to statements issued in recent months by the Department of Treasury, which has investigated transactions just like those all over the country….
According to the Buzzfeed News report, the Haitian government complained in the 1980s that former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier laundered money stolen from the Caribbean nation’s treasury by purchasing an apartment in Trump Tower.
Duvalier, nicknamed “Baby Doc,” was overthrown in 1986, but three years earlier used a Panamanian shell company called Lasa Trade and Finance to buy apartment 54-K in Trump’s Manhattan tower for $446,875 cash.
Trump, the future U.S. president, signed the deed of sale.
I tried to read the Buzzfeed story yesterday, but it got to be too much to deal with. Now I plan to go read it carefully.
Donald Trump in 2013 asked James O’Keefe, the controversial conservative filmmaker, if he could “get inside” Columbia University and obtain President Obama’s sealed college records, according to a passage in O’Keefe’s forthcoming book, a copy of which was reviewed by CNN.
O’Keefe, a guerrilla filmmaker whom critics have decried for his tactics and who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for entering federal property in 2010 under false pretenses, writes in “American Pravda: My Fight for Truth in the Era of Fake News” that during a meeting in New York City Trump complimented his ACORN sting videos (“That pimp and hooker thing you did, wow!”). But, O’Keefe writes, Trump “was a man with a plan” and “did not agree to this meeting to sing my praises.” [….]
According to O’Keefe, Trump “suspected Obama had presented himself as a foreign student on application materials to ease his way into New York’s Columbia University, maybe even Harvard too, and perhaps picked up a few scholarships along the way.”
O’Keefe wrote that during the 2013 meeting Trump suggested O’Keefe infiltrate Columbia and obtain the sealed records: “‘Nobody else can get this information,'” O’Keefe quoted Trump as saying. “‘Do you think you could get inside Columbia?'”
Read more at CNN.
The embattled U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands Peter Hoekstra apologized Friday for making unsubstantiated anti-Muslim claims at a conference in 2015, after his first week in the post was clouded by questions about the incendiary statements.
Hoekstra, a former Republican congressman from Michigan and recent political appointee, made the apology during an interview Friday with De Telegraaf, one of the largest Dutch newspapers, at the end of a particularly rough introduction for the new ambassador.
“Looking back, I am shocked I said that,” he told the newspaper. “It was a wrong statement. It was wrong.”
Hoekstra made the remarks in question during a conference on terrorism hosted by the right-wing David Horowitz Freedom Center. He talked about the supposed “chaos” brought to Europe by immigrants from Islamic countries and repeated a baseless theory about so-called “no-go zones” that is popular in right-wing media.
“Chaos in the Netherlands. There are cars being burned. There are politicians that are being burned,” Hoekstra said at the time. “With the influx of the Islamic community — and yes, there are no-go zones in the Netherlands. All right? There are no-go zones in France.”
Considering the quality of people Trump is appointing to diplomatic posts, I’m sure we can expect more embarrassing episodes like this.
So . . . I could go on and on. I deliberately left out the story of Trump and the two porn stars. It’s still difficult for me to believe this horrible man is POTUS. He has to go before he completely wrecks this country and destroys any hope of our regaining respect around the world.
What stories are you following?