Notes and Comment Blog

Jamal Khashoggi

Oct 7th, 2018 5:16 pm | By

The Times yesterday:

Turkish investigators believe a well-known Saudi dissident was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, five people involved in the investigation, or briefed on it, said on Saturday.

The critic of the Saudi government, Jamal Khashoggi, entered the consulate on Tuesday to obtain a document he needed to get married and never emerged, according to his fiancée, who had stayed outside.

Waiting for him inside the consulate, according to two people with knowledge of the investigation, were Saudi agents who had recently arrived in Turkey with the intent to silence Mr. Khashoggi. It was not clear if the plan had been to bring him back to Saudi Arabia alive, and something went wrong, or if the intention was to kill him there.

Well it’s not as if “bringing him back to Saudi Arabia” would have been okay either. People should be free to criticize their governments – especially when they suck as hard as the Saudi dictatorship (aka “monarchy”) does. People should be free to do that and to travel abroad and to decide for themselves when and if they go back, as opposed to being trapped and grabbed and abducted by thugs working for Mohammed bin Salman.

If confirmed, the killing could lead to an international scandal for Saudi Arabia and pose a daunting problem for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s 33-year-old day-to-day ruler, who has billed himself as a reformer committed to modernizing the kingdom.

Which is a joke. He’s no more of a reformer than Trump is, which is no doubt why Trump loves him and Saudi Arabia so much.

Mr. Khashoggi, 59, had worked as an adviser to senior government officials and was one of Saudi Arabia’s best known journalists. But since going into voluntary exile last year, he has written articles critical of Crown Prince Mohammed, who, since his father became king in 2015, has accumulated tremendous power inside the kingdom.

Despite orchestrating the kidnapping of the Lebanese prime minister, waging a brutal war in Yemen and locking up hundreds of prominent Saudis in a luxury hotel on accusations of corruption, the prince has won Western supporters, including the government of the United States, that have embraced his economic policies and limited social reforms.

Turan Kislakci, the head of Turkish Arab Media Association and a friend of Mr. Khashoggi’s, told The Times that Turkish officials had called him and confirmed the death.

“They confirmed two things: He was killed and his body was dismembered,” Mr. Kislakci said.

The Arab government official also described Mr. Khashoggi’s body as having been dismembered.

I do not like the Saudi ruling family.

20 states are poised to ban abortion

Oct 7th, 2018 4:19 pm | By

More from NPR on the Missouri one-abortion-clinic situation:

In 2008, Missouri had five abortion clinics, according to Planned Parenthood. The Columbia Health Center in central Missouri on Wednesday became the latest to stop providing abortions.

I don’t even understand this. Don’t big hospitals do abortions? If not, why not? Abortions should be a normal part of health care, not a rare bespoke luxury that only a few can have. As I mentioned, Missouri is not a small state, and five clinics is ludicrously inadequate.

Under the new requirements, abortion providers must secure admitting privileges at hospitals located within about 15 minutes from their health centers.

“The idea behind that restriction is that it somehow makes patients safer if they experience complications from the abortion,” Planned Parenthood Great Plains spokeswoman Emily Miller tells NPR. “But in reality, abortion is already incredibly safe, and a patient’s ability to access help at the hospital is the same, whether or not the provider has admitting privileges.”

Miller says that Columbia Health Center’s physician had her privileges revoked in 2015 by University Hospital and has been denied privileges by the other surrounding hospitals. “They won’t offer her admitting privileges because she’s an abortion provider,” Miller says.

So hospitals in the Columbia area do refuse to do abortions, and not satisfied with that, they prevent other doctors from doing them. Some of that will be because they are Catholic hospitals (and that should be illegal), but what about the others?

In 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that similar restrictions imposed in Texas were medically unnecessary.

And a ruling like that will not happen again for generations.

Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit against Missouri’s requirements in November 2016 and a legal battle has ensued. A federal appeals court ruled in September that Missouri could enforce state laws. The judges issued a mandate for the requirements to take effect Monday.

“No abortions for you, bitches. Hold still while I pin you to this bed and nearly suffocate you.”

Missouri is not the only state where a single facility provides abortions to women. Other states include Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota and Mississippi, according to a 2014 report by the Guttmacher Institute. Nor is 2018 the first time that Missouri fell into this category.

Samuel Lee, a lobbyist who has spent years campaigning for abortion restrictions in Missouri, said he thinks “when the district court looks at it again, they will uphold the law because it protects the health and safety of women who are seeking abortions in Missouri without imposing an undue burden on them,” according to The Kansas City Star.

Planned Parenthood said Wednesday that 20 states are “poised to ban abortion” if Kavanaugh is confirmed to the Supreme Court — and that 13 abortion cases are “one step away” from the country’s highest court.

Forced childbearing for all.

The clinic cancelled abortions scheduled for Wednesday

Oct 7th, 2018 10:54 am | By

There will be more of this, until they are all shut down and women will have to go to Canada or self-abort (which is often fatal). Missouri now has one (1) abortion clinic.

Missouri is down to one clinic providing abortions Wednesday, after the only other clinic in the state that performs the procedure failed to adhere to new state requirements.

Federal appeals court judges ruled last month that Missouri can enforce a requirement that doctors must have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals before they can perform abortions. The judges issued a mandate Monday for that rule to officially take effect.

The Columbia Planned Parenthood clinic was unable to secure physician privileges to comply with the requirement, so it cancelled abortions scheduled for Wednesday, which would have been the first since the mandate was issued, Planned Parenthood Great Plains spokeswoman Emily Miller said.

Columbia is where the University of Missouri is.

Women seeking abortions can go to Planned Parenthood’s St. Louis clinic — which is now the only facility in Missouri where abortions can be performed — or travel to neighboring states, she said.

St. Louis is all the way on the eastern edge of the state, and Missouri is an average-large state – it’s not massive like Montana or Texas but it’s not Delaware, either. Women in Missouri (and other states too) are in the situation Irish women were in before the referendum – having to make a long expensive trip to get an abortion. Worse, in fact, because Missouri is more than twice as large as Ireland: 69,715 square miles versus 32,595 square miles (but you have to add the Irish Sea). Early abortions are simple procedures which should be available in all general medical facilities, but they’re not, because so many people cannot abide seeing women in charge of their own bodies.

The damage will be enduring

Oct 7th, 2018 9:26 am | By

We’ve got men who sexually assault women enshrined in the White House and the Supreme Court.

So, basically, contempt for women has now become official government policy.

It’s just a tad alienating if you have the bad taste to be a woman.

Republicans believe in the rule of law?

Oct 7th, 2018 9:03 am | By

Ye gods. Trump pretending to be a fan of the rule of law.

The rule of law – says the guy who cheated on his taxes to the tune of half a billion dollars, who uses his presidency to enrich himself contrary to a clause of the Constitution as well as regulations, who lies to all of us every day, who brags of sexual assault, who uses his presidency to enrich his children, who makes all of us pay for his frequent trips to his own golf clubs, who stiffed contractors and abused bankruptcy laws, who has been obstructing justice in plain sight for the entirety of his presidency to date.

Can’t take it back now, neener-neener

Oct 6th, 2018 5:08 pm | By

Impartial umpire hahahahahahaha those guys are such comedians.

I look forward to our better future.

Women are extremely happy

Oct 6th, 2018 4:46 pm | By

Oh, fucking hell. Sums it up.

Of course. Women simply don’t care about their own well-being, even in the sense of not wanting to be assaulted and nearly suffocated by men who pounce on them when the mood strikes. Women care only about the well-being of men. This works out very nicely because men too care only about the well-being of men, so everybody’s happy.

Actually they don’t, lots of men do care about the well-being of women and girls, including their wives, their sisters, their aunts. But men like that don’t count because they’re wimps, they’re losers, they’re politically correct, they’re SJWs. Real men, men who matter, like Trump and Kavanaugh and McConnell and Graham, don’t give a rat’s ass about the well-being of women. If a nice Catholic school boy like Brett Kavanaugh wants to assault some slutty girl at a gathering with older boys drinking beer then he has every right to do that, and she should be thanking him for not smothering her.

So by god don’t come whining to us about any sexual assaults ever again, because we don’t have to pay any attention and we’re not fucking going to.

Welcome to the new reality.

Supreme Court justices are not subject to the misconduct rules

Oct 6th, 2018 4:20 pm | By

Pig Kavanaugh is in, abortion rights and separation of church and state are on the way out.


Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has received more than a dozen judicial misconduct complaints in recent weeks against Brett M. Kavanaugh, who was confirmed as a Supreme Court justice Saturday, but has chosen for the time being not to refer them to a judicial panel for investigation.

A judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit — the court on which Kavanaugh serves — passed on to Roberts a string of complaints the court received starting three weeks ago, said four people familiar with the matter.

That probably happens with every nominee, right? There are always soreheads.

The situation is highly unusual, said legal experts and several people familiar with the matter. Never before has a Supreme Court nominee been poised to join the court while a fellow judge recommends that misconduct claims against that nominee warrant review.


Roberts’s decision not to immediately refer the cases to another appeals court has caused some concern in the legal community. Now that he has been confirmed, the details of the complaints may not become public and instead may be dismissed, legal experts say. Supreme Court justices are not subject to the misconduct rules governing these claims.

“If Justice Roberts sits on the complaints, then they will reside in a kind of purgatory and will never be adjudicated,” said Stephen Gillers, a professor at New York University Law School and an expert on Supreme Court ethics. “This is not how the rules anticipated the process would work.”

Yes but we’re in Trumpworld now, and the rules are whatever he chooses to do.

Henderson, whom President George H.W. Bush nominated to the bench, stepped in to review the complaints against Kavanaugh because Chief Judge Merrick Garland — whose nomination to the Supreme Court by President Barack Obama was blocked by Senate Republicans — recused himself from the matter.

When they go low, we go high, and how’s that working out for us?

Sincere but sarcastic

Oct 6th, 2018 10:53 am | By
Sincere but sarcastic

Another thing – small, but so typical.

A comment on that post of PZ’s:



@ 94 John Morales

(I did withdraw from her blog because I was contentious there, and annoying her, but still, it was not because I was banned there. Like this blog, to which I have returned, thanks to PZ’s (hopefully juditious) sufferance, mainly because I’m not insincere)

I was also contentious and annoying but lacked your circumspection and first got placed in perpetual moderation (for quoting Gloria Steinem) and then apparently banned (silently, sometime in the past couple of years) despite also being sincere (if sarcastic). So I suppose your obsequiousness with respect to anti-trans attitudes paid off.

The “her blog” in question is this one right here.

The last time a comment of Silentbob’s appeared here:


July 14, 2018 at 10:26 pm

it’s interesting that people who seem to consider themselves to be on the left think that is a fine woke lefty image

Who? Tell me who these people are. You seem to be developing this Thunderf00t-esque habit of of pointing to the most ChantyBinx-style characatures and claiming they’re typical. Who in the flying fuck is calling for transphobic bigots to be lynched? There are no “Trans Activitsts” calling for lynching or anything similar.

I don’t want transphobic shits to be lynched. I also don’t what antisemities to be lynched. I don’t whant Aryan supremacists to be lynched. I don’t  want members of the Westboro Baptist Church to be lynched.

Given that you apparently have no evidence this image is representative of trans activism (to but it mildly), and given we obviously have a massive transphobia problem in our society, shouldn’t you be more skeptical? My first thought when presented with an image like is would be that this is transphobic propaganda. It should at least be considered as such until proven otherwise.

See the date? July 14 (Bastille Day) this year. Not quite three months ago. Not the past couple of years, under three months ago. I let him spew his bile at me for nearly three years after I left the blog network.

The comment I didn’t allow to post came in on August 17, with one more the next day, so that’s only six weeks ago. He’s been “apparently” “silently” banned for all of six weeks, after almost three years of a good run of sarcastic insults. I think I was damn generous.

Hallmarks of illiberal democracy

Oct 6th, 2018 9:57 am | By

The historian Christopher Browning in the NYRB discusses the Trumpists’ similarities to and differences from Nazis and other fascists.

The fascist movements of that time prided themselves on being overtly antidemocratic, and those that came to power in Italy and Germany boasted that their regimes were totalitarian. The most original revelation of the current wave of authoritarians is that the construction of overtly antidemocratic dictatorships aspiring to totalitarianism is unnecessary for holding power. Perhaps the most apt designation of this new authoritarianism is the insidious term “illiberal democracy.” Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey, Putin in Russia, Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, and Viktor Orbán in Hungary have all discovered that opposition parties can be left in existence and elections can be held in order to provide a fig leaf of democratic legitimacy, while in reality elections pose scant challenge to their power. Truly dangerous opposition leaders are neutralized or eliminated one way or another.

Lies, Putin, Fox News, bots – it all adds up.

Total control of the press and other media is likewise unnecessary, since a flood of managed and fake news so pollutes the flow of information that facts and truth become irrelevant as shapers of public opinion. Once-independent judiciaries are gradually dismantled through selective purging and the appointment of politically reliable loyalists. Crony capitalism opens the way to a symbiosis of corruption and self-enrichment between political and business leaders. Xenophobic nationalism (and in many cases explicitly anti-immigrant white nationalism) as well as the prioritization of “law and order” over individual rights are also crucial to these regimes in mobilizing the popular support of their bases and stigmatizing their enemies.

We’re there now. He’s not talking about the potential future there, he’s talking about how bad it already is.

Alongside the erosion of an independent judiciary as a check on executive power, other hallmarks of illiberal democracy are the neutralization of a free press and the steady diminution of basic human rights. On these issues, often described as the guardrails of democracy against authoritarian encroachment, the Trump administration either has won or seems poised to win significant gains for illiberalism. Upon his appointment as chancellor, Hitler immediately created a new Ministry of People’s Enlightenment and Propaganda under Joseph Goebbels, who remained one of his closest political advisers.

In Trump’s presidency, those functions have effectively been privatized in the form of Fox News and Sean Hannity. Fox faithfully trumpets the “alternative facts” of the Trump version of events, and in turn Trump frequently finds inspiration for his tweets and fantasy-filled statements from his daily monitoring of Fox commentators and his late-night phone calls with Hannity. The result is the creation of a “Trump bubble” for his base to inhabit that is unrecognizable to viewers of PBSCNN, and MSNBC and readers of TheWashington Post and The New York Times. The highly critical free media not only provide no effective check on Trump’s ability to be a serial liar without political penalty; on the contrary, they provide yet another enemy around which to mobilize the grievances and resentments of his base. A free press does not have to be repressed when it can be rendered irrelevant and even exploited for political gain.

But in the end climate change will override all that.

Have a nice weekend.

A symbol of colonial rule across Africa

Oct 6th, 2018 9:39 am | By

Oh look, it’s Melania really not caring again.

Melania Trump has prompted consternation, some anger and much derision by choosing a pith helmet – a symbol of colonial rule across Africa – as headwear for a brief safari in Kenya.

On the penultimate day of her tour of the continent – her first solo trip overseas – the first lady visited an orphanage in Nairobi before heading to a national park near the city.

Dressed in riding pants, boots and a spotless white pith helmet, the former model climbed into an open-air vehicle for the safari, taking photos on her iPhone of zebras, giraffes, impalas, rhinos and hippos.

They’re not making it up.

Melania Trump talks with Park Manager Nelly Palmeris at the Nairobi National Park

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

What the hell is she wearing jodhpurs and riding boots for? Let alone the ridiculous hat.

Pith helmets – so-called because they are made of the material sholapith – were worn by European explorers and imperial administrators in Africa, parts of Asia and the Middle East in the 19th century before being adopted by military officers, rapidly becoming a symbol of status – and oppression.

Soldiers, guides and wildlife specialists replaced the pith helmet long ago with more practical and less controversial headgear, but they are still in ceremonial use in a handful of countries – and by tourists in Africa who have limited experience of local conditions and sensibilities.

“That pith helmet you have carried was used by colonialists during the dark days. Doesn’t sit well with us Africans. Who advised you?” wrote Pauleen Mwalo, of Nairobi, on Twitter.

Stephen Miller?

On teams consistent with their gender identity

Oct 6th, 2018 9:06 am | By

This is nuts.

The Vancouver Sun reports:

A new policy allowing Canadian transgender student-athletes to compete on teams consistent with their gender identity and without hormone therapy is a welcome change, but more can still be done to make athletics inclusive of gender diversity, says a Vancouver trans athlete and consultant.

U Sports, which governs university athletics in Canada, put its new policy into effect Thursday and says it affects student-athletes at all 56 of its member institutions. Athletes can only compete on teams of one gender during a given academic year, and the policy doesn’t require them to undertake hormone therapy. They must also comply with the Canadian Anti-Doping Program.

In other words people with male bodies can compete on women’s teams.

Ok, but then what will they do when the women’s teams become entirely filled up with people whose “gender identity” doesn’t match their sex? They’ll have to start all over, but with what team? Maybe they could try children’s teams?

In other words: people with male bodies have a huge advantage over people with female bodies in athletic competitions. The Sun article never even bothers to spell that out, all it can manage is mention of testosterone here and there.

“For me, it’s a step in the right direction,” said Kai Scott, a principal partner at TransFocus Consulting, which works with organizations addressing gender inclusion issues.

“I think these kinds of policies are really important. This one, in particular, is great for certain transgender student-athletes in that they can select the team or division that aligns with their gender identity. These kinds of policies are important declarations of support and assurance of inclusivity.”

They may be important declarations of support and assurance of inclusivity, but they’re also declarations of total indifference to women’s ability to compete on teams with people who don’t have the male body’s advantages over the female body. “Inclusivity” is not invariably and in all circumstances a good thing. There are many situations in which we need to be able to choose our company, and that need overrides any need to be “inclusive.” Women’s sport is definitely one of them.

Levels of testosterone, linked to muscle mass and increased strength, have been a key issue in debate over allowing trans athletes to compete in events consistent with their gender identity.

That’s the closest the article gets to admitting the difficulty, but look how careful it is not to spell it out – that this will mean a big advantage for male-bodied people and a big disadvantage for women, and that that seems pretty weird and unfair and anti-feminist given the fact that men are already dominant over women and we’ve been trying to level that out for quite a few decades now.

U Sports member institutions in B.C. include the University of B.C., University of Victoria, University of the Fraser Valley, Thompson Rivers University, University of Northern British Columbia, and Trinity Western University.

UBC released a statement saying it supports the policy.

“We are aware of other institutions where transgender athletes have wanted to play on the team that aligned with their gender identity, and we recognize that the situation could arise here,” said Gord Hopper, director of performance and team support for UBC Athletics.

“UBC supports inclusive and safe environments along with equal opportunities for all student-athletes.”

Well, then UBC has a problem, because this new policy is obviously in tension with equal opportunities for all student-athletes.

Well she dishonoured the village, you see

Oct 5th, 2018 5:34 pm | By

News from India Today:

An 18-year-old Muslim girl in Nawada district, Bihar was tied to a tree and caned by her family members for loving a Hindu boy. Her punishment was allegedly a result of the village panchayat’s diktat.

The incident happened on Wednesday (October 3) in Jogiya Maran village falling under Rajauli police station in Nawada. She remained tied to the tree for around five hours.

When she was being thrashed, no one came to her rescue.

Or while she stayed there tied to the tree for five hours either, apparently.

The two wanted to marry but her family was against it, so she ran away to his village.

The girl’s family came to know that she was with Kumar and soon went to his place to bring her back.

Thereafter, the panchayat was convened which directed the girl’s family to punish her for dishonouring the village. The girl was then tied to a tree and caned.

That will teach her to love the village and the people in it.

When violence against women is just a joke

Oct 5th, 2018 10:44 am | By
When violence against women is just a joke

Meanwhile…the “skeptics” movement frays some more.

See it? 18 minutes apart – lies and misrepresentation are Andy’s stock in trade, then 18 minutes later I don’t know Andy apart from his comments on this one blog post.

So that’s quite a disjunction, but much worse is the sewer of comments on that post, which I read with disgust yesterday. A couple of people there are literally rejoicing that Maria MacLachlan was physically attacked at Speakers Corner last year; others are minimizing it. Now we see that PZ has no problem with that, but does have a problem with people who object.

For one:

John Morales:

alanhenness, what makes you imagine I believe they were all wrong?

It was a scuffle at a protest. A minor scuffle, at that. No injuries, even, and it resulted in a fine and costs. And it was to the letter of the law.
In fact, I wrote so: “I do get how the judge had to uphold the letter of the law”. Add to that the police and the CPS, FWTW.

What I mean to express is that I find it laughable to consider it as constituting “male violence against women” (interesting use of the plural, there). Might as well claim a celebrity knocking the camera off some paparazza is the same thing.

So, yeah. Less than impressed by your characterisation.
Making a mountain out of a molehill, is what you’re attempting. Ain’t working.

Be aware that you have only yourself to thank for providing me with that perspective, I took Maria at her word, earlier.

(Violent assault, my arse)


Porrivil Sorrens:

Oh man, thanks for the vids, always glad to see a FART get their comeuppance.

Well, it was less than what she deserved, but violence against fascists is good, no matter how light.


A. Noyd:

Given the penchant anti-trans bigots have for doxxing and harassing trans women, a known TERF activist with a camera would reasonably read as a threat to a lot of trans women. Not that getting physical and batting at the camera was a wise course of action, but it didn’t exactly lack provocation either. It’s like talk of “peaceful ethnic cleansing” or those forced-birthers who go around taking photos of license plates near Planned Parenthood.

And then finishing up with:


What is utterly crazy here

Oct 5th, 2018 10:11 am | By

So this is the sitch: Republicans say the [drastically constricted] FBI investigation exonerates Kavanaugh; Democrats say it does no such thing; we can’t consider the evidence because the Republicans are keeping the whole farking thing Secret.

What is utterly crazy here is that we have no way of evaluating any of this either way, because we are not allowed to see the FBI’s findings, even in summary form. Republicans and Democrats are telling vastly different stories about what those findings show: Republicans are claiming there was no corroboration of any of the charges against Kavanaugh and that there’s nothing new in them. Democrats are claiming not just that the investigation was a sham but also that it doesn’t exonerate Kavanaugh at all.

But on that latter point, Democrats have been confined to only the vaguest of hints. For instance, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.) put out a statement saying that “to say that this investigation exonerates Judge Kavanaugh,” or to say that “there is no hint of misconduct in these documents,” is “just not true.” Warren went further than this — which seems significant — but both their statements are maddeningly vague.

Because the Republicans are forcing them to be vague.

To justify keeping the FBI’s findings secret, Republicans have pointed to a 2009 memorandum of understanding between the Judiciary Committee and the White House counsel concerning FBI background checks into nominees, which says such investigations are to remain confidential.

But Robert Bauer, a White House counsel under President Barack Obama, told me today that there are ways around this — that is, if senators and the White House wanted to find them. For instance, senators could simply renegotiate this agreement with the White House counsel, Bauer said.

“The Memorandum of Understanding is just that — it is an understanding that can be amended to address exceptional circumstances,” Bauer told me. Bauer pointed out that this is only the latest in a long line of things that Republicans and the White House have done to limit the public’s ability to weigh the testimony from Ford and Kavanaugh, emailing me this:

First, the Senate structured the peculiar one-day hearing which featured a sharply limited witness list and an outside counsel relieved of her responsibilities in the middle of the proceeding. Then the White House and the Senate majority set exceptional limits on the scope and timing of the subsequent FBI review. Then came this last step of rejecting calls from Republican as well as Democratic committee [members] for a public accounting of the results.

“The refusal of the Senate majority to provide even a summary of the review,” Bauer concluded, is only the last in a series of steps that are “undermining the credibility of the Supreme Court confirmation process.”

Not to mention the arbitrary tyrannical stonewalling of Merrick Garland.

What a nightmare.

“Paid for by Soros”

Oct 5th, 2018 8:52 am | By

The president of the United States.

Anti-Semitic trope and personal targeting, from the president of the United States. Just another Friday.

Jack Holmes at Esquire:

Good Lord. He’s gone Full InfoWars. This appears to be first time the President of the United States has mentioned George Soros in a tweet, Soros being the legendary boogeyman for the right wing who supposedly funds any and every liberal protest, advertisement, campaign, and potluck. (Just this week, a writer with the National Review—considered a Very Serious right-wing publication—tried to link Kavanaugh accuser Deborah Ramirez to Soros. It turned out he was completely wrong and he had to apologize.) Soros does have some remarkable reach—he’s known for “breaking” the British pound and making $1 billion in a month off the deal—but this is just nonsense.

(Meanwhile, the Twitterati have already pointed out the bone-crushing hypocrisy here: that way back in 2015, Donald Trump’s campaign launch event—the one where he announced Mexico was sending criminals and “rapists” to our country, at least a year before most Beltway Pundits acknowledged he was a demagogue running on racial resentment—was full of actors he’d paid to be there. The anatomy of a scam.)

Meanwhile today’s vote is a yes on Kavanaugh.

Investigation 101

Oct 5th, 2018 7:54 am | By

David Corn at Mother Jones:

On Wednesday night, the lawyers for Christine Blasey Ford responded sharply to the news that the Trump White House had blocked the FBI from interviewing her about her allegation that she was sexually assaulted by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in 1982. This probe, her attorneys said, “cannot be called an investigation. We are profoundly disappointed that after the tremendous sacrifice she made in coming forward, those directing the FBI investigation were not interested in seeking the truth.” The decision to not interview Ford, Kavanaugh, and dozens of other witnesses related to her allegation and Deborah Ramirez’s claim that Kavanaugh engaged in sexual misconduct during his college days has drawn much criticism from Democrats and others, as Republicans cite the FBI’s report—which has been presented to the White House and Senate—to contend there is no evidence Kavanaugh committed any wrongdoing in these cases.

I keep marveling at the sheer effrontery of that. You can’t systematically block a real investigation and then proudly announce to the world that the “investigation” you blocked found no corroborating evidence. You can’t, but they did and they are.

So it’s surprising, Corn goes on, that they would do something so blatant.

After all, the standard operating procedure for any investigation would include questioning the accuser and the accused. Forgoing these interviews undermines the FBI’s report and makes it easy for critics to contend that this has been a sham investigation. So why would the White House take such a step? The Democrats on Senate Judiciary Committee have a theory: Trump White House officials blocked an interview with Ford because they were worried about the FBI questioning Kavanaugh.

Kavanaugh was evasive and/or belligerent at the hearing. The all-male Republican bloc on the committee didn’t even question him, they simply sang arias about the glory of Kavanaugh and the evil of Democrats.

Kavanaugh, that is, did not undergo a true and professional grilling. An FBI interview would have been a much different experience. “When you’re in front of the FBI, you cannot refuse to answer questions, you cannot attack the agents, you cannot change the subject,” a Democratic member of the committee says. “The White House did not want Kavanaugh in such a situation. And if he said anything to the FBI that could prove false, he could end up in a lot of trouble.”

Corn says it would have looked too bad to interview Ford but not Kavanaugh so that’s why they didn’t interview either of them. I’m not convinced by that because refusing to interview both already looks too bad. They really don’t seem to care what looks too bad (to say nothing of what actually is too bad).

It was predictable that an FBI investigation without interviews of the primary figures would be denounced. As Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), a member of the committee, tweeted, “Interviewing the accuser & accused is Investigation 101. It is absolutely necessary to follow up on leads & corroborate details. The fact the FBI has not been authorized to take basic steps demonstrates the WH is turning this investigation into a sham & charade.”

The US government is in the hands of fearlessly brazen criminals and authoritarians. I can’t see this ending well.

Forceful and passionate

Oct 4th, 2018 5:30 pm | By

Kavanaugh wants us to know that last Thursday he “was there as a son, husband and dad.” Really? He wasn’t nominated to the Supreme Court “as a son, husband and dad.” We don’t give a fuck about his family life (except possibly as more or less reason to think he’s simply an asshole), that’s not what he’s there for.

He makes this weird claim in the Wall Street Journal (well hey at least it’s not Breitbart).

He starts by telling us how proud he was to be at the White House with his wife and daughters to accept the nomination.

My mom, Martha—one of the first women to serve as a Maryland prosecutor and trial judge, and my inspiration to become a lawyer—sat in the audience with my dad, Ed.

Can we not stop with this folksy crap already? What’s wrong with calling them his mother and father? And skipping the first names? We’re not at a church picnic. It’s a wonder he didn’t refer to his little woman and kiddies.

Then he says a lot about how not partisan he is.

After all those meetings and after my initial hearing concluded, I was subjected to wrongful and sometimes vicious allegations. My time in high school and college, more than 30 years ago, has been ridiculously distorted. My wife and daughters have faced vile and violent threats.

Against that backdrop, I testified before the Judiciary Committee last Thursday to defend my family, my good name and my lifetime of public service. My hearing testimony was forceful and passionate. That is because I forcefully and passionately denied the allegation against me. At times, my testimony—both in my opening statement and in response to questions—reflected my overwhelming frustration at being wrongly accused, without corroboration, of horrible conduct completely contrary to my record and character. My statement and answers also reflected my deep distress at the unfairness of how this allegation has been handled.

Well now wait a second. What does he mean by “my record”” What constitutes a record? It depends on who is compiling the record, doesn’t it. A substantial number of people have come forward to tell us about Kavanaugh’s record as a belligerent drunk and bully.

I was very emotional last Thursday, more so than I have ever been. I might have been too emotional at times. I know that my tone was sharp, and I said a few things I should not have said. I hope everyone can understand that I was there as a son, husband and dad. I testified with five people foremost in my mind: my mom, my dad, my wife, and most of all my daughters.

Well I for one cannot understand it, because this isn’t about his family, it’s about what he’s going to do to us.

I wonder if Kavanaugh would be disconcerted at all if his older daughter got into Radcliffe and then weeks before she was to start classes discovered she was pregnant…and she didn’t want to stay pregnant. I wonder if he would try to insist that she should delay Radcliffe for a year so that she could have the baby and give it up for adoption.

He says if he’s confirmed he’ll keep an open mind. I don’t believe him.

Give the guy the benefit of the doubt

Oct 4th, 2018 4:51 pm | By

Why did I ever think it would matter?

Michelle Goldberg at the Times:

The restarted F.B.I. background check that seemed, a week ago, like a merciful concession to decency has instead been a cover-up. Agents didn’t even question Blasey or Kavanaugh. It’s not clear if they interviewed any of the more than 20 corroborating witnesses named by Deborah Ramirez, who claimed a drunken, aggressive Kavanaugh thrust his genitals into her face when they were students at Yale. The New Yorker reported that witnesses who tried to contact the F.B.I.were ignored; some ended up submitting unsolicited statements to the bureau.

Which were filed in the bottom drawer of a rusty filing cabinet in a sub-basement filled with piranhas.

Ultimately, according to the White House, the F.B.I. interviewed a total of nine people in its new review. Based on what they said, Republican leaders have declared that Blasey’s story remains uncorroborated.

In other words the Republicans told the FBI not to do anything that would actually turn up evidence, and Republican leaders have declared that Blasey’s story remains uncorroborated. It remains uncorroborated because they didn’t try to corroborate it.

Conservatives will say that they’re protecting an innocent man unfairly accused, not standing up for white male impunity as a principle. They either don’t believe Blasey, or they think that, in the absence of further proof, Kavanaugh should be given the benefit of the doubt, which in this case means a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. They think they’re the ones who are being fair and judicious. “One side is standing on evidence,” tweeted Commentary’s Noah Rothman. “The other on intuition and sentiment.”

Evidence! What evidence? There is no “evidence” that Kavanaugh did not assault Ford, there’s only his denial that he did. There’s also no evidence (that I know of) that he did, but that doesn’t equal “it’s just intuition and sentiment.” And there’s plenty of evidence that Kavanaugh is an angry hater of all things lefty, which is not a good quality in a supreme.

No Democrat or feminist cares that Kavanaugh drank a lot in high school; personally, I couldn’t have endured high school sober. We care that he described his younger self as a chaste innocent who was, as he said in his Fox News interview, “focused on academics and athletics, going to church every Sunday at Little Flower, working on my service projects, and friendship.” In fact, by multiple accounts, Kavanaugh was a mean, rowdy drunk and a sexist bully.

Which is not what we expect in a Supreme Court justice.

Here’s your precious “investigation”

Oct 4th, 2018 9:55 am | By

It’s just so insulting.