Sunday, September 30, 2018

FBI has a week to investigate additional allegations in Kavanaugh case. Comey says they can do it.

The clock is running on the re-opening of the FBI investigation into various allegations about sexual abuse and drinking habits of SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Some have questioned whether a week is enough time. Some have suspicions about whether Trump and the White House will stay out of the way - or attempt to bias the Bureau’s work.

Former FBI Director James Comey weighed in with a NY Times op-ed saying that The F.B.I. Can Do This. Despite limitations and partisan attacks, the bureau can find out a lot about the Kavanaugh accusations in a week. Comey gives us a bit of a window into how the Bureau runs such an investigation.

… President Trump’s decision to order a one-week investigation into sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, his Supreme Court nominee, comes in a time of almost indescribable pain and anger, lies and attacks.

We live in a world where the president routinely attacks the F.B.I. because he fears its work. He calls for his enemies to be prosecuted and his friends freed. We also live in a world where a sitting federal judge channels the president by shouting attacks at the Senate committee considering his nomination and demanding to know if a respected senator has ever passed out from drinking. We live in a world where the president is an accused serial abuser of women, who was caught on tape bragging about his ability to assault women and now likens the accusations against his nominee to the many “false” accusations against him.

Most disturbingly, we live in a world where millions of Republicans and their representatives think nearly everything in the previous paragraph is O.K.

In that world, the F.B.I. is now being asked to investigate, on a seven-day clock, sexual assaults that the president says never happened, that some senators have decried as a sham cooked up to derail a Supreme Court nominee, and that other senators believe beyond all doubt were committed by the nominee.

If truth were the only goal, there would be no clock, and the investigation wouldn’t have been sought after the Senate Judiciary Committee already endorsed the nominee. Instead, it seems that the Republican goal is to be able to say there was an investigation and it didn’t change their view, while the Democrats hope for incriminating evidence to derail the nominee.

Although the process is deeply flawed, and apparently designed to thwart the fact-gathering process, the F.B.I. is up for this. It’s not as hard as Republicans hope it will be.

F.B.I. agents are experts at interviewing people and quickly dispatching leads to their colleagues around the world to follow with additional interviews. Unless limited in some way by the Trump administration, they can speak to scores of people in a few days, if necessary.

The trick here is to not let Trump and the Crassley Crew ham-string the FBI agents. More on that from another source below. First, Comey continues.

They will confront people with testimony and other accounts, testing them and pushing them in a professional way. Agents have much better nonsense detectors than partisans, because they aren’t starting with a conclusion.

Yes, the alleged incident occurred 36 years ago. But F.B.I. agents know time has very little to do with memory. They know every married person remembers the weather on their wedding day, no matter how long ago. Significance drives memory. They also know that little lies point to bigger lies. They know that obvious lies by the nominee about the meaning of words in a yearbook are a flashing signal to dig deeper.

Once they start interviewing, every witness knows the consequences. It is one thing to have your lawyer submit a statement on your behalf. It is a very different thing to sit across from two F.B.I. special agents and answer their relentless questions. Of course, the bureau won’t have subpoena power, only the ability to knock on doors and ask questions. But most people will speak to them. Refusal to do so is its own kind of statement.

Agents will summarize every witness encounter in a detailed report called a 302, and then synthesize all the interviews into an executive summary for the White House. Although the F.B.I. won’t reach conclusions, their granular factual presentation will spotlight the areas of conflict and allow decision makers to reach their own conclusions.

It is idiotic to put a shot clock on the F.B.I. But it is better to give professionals seven days to find facts than have no professional investigation at all. When the week is up, one team (and maybe both) will be angry at the F.B.I. The president will condemn the bureau for being a corrupt nest of Clinton-lovers if they turn up bad facts. Maybe Democrats will similarly condemn agents as Trumpists if they don’t. As strange as it sounds, there is freedom in being totally screwed. Agents can just do their work. Find facts. Speak truth to power.

Despite all the lies and all the attacks, there really are people who just want to figure out what’s true. The F.B.I. is full of them.

But is the White House limiting the investigation?

AZCentral reports that the White House is not involved with FBI investigation into Kavanaugh allegations, officials say. But others have reservations.

WASHINGTON – The White House is not interfering with the FBI’s background investigation into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, officials said Sunday.

“The White House is not getting involved in the FBI investigation in that way,” Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “The president very much respects the independence of the FBI.”

Her point was reiterated by White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.

“The White House is not micromanaging this process,” Sanders said on “Fox News Sunday.” “The Senate is dictating the terms, they laid out the request. As you’ve heard the president say, do what you need to do, and we’re out of the way and doing exactly that.”

Their comments come after reports, citing unnamed sources, that the White House had instructed the FBI to investigate claims made by two women: Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez, but not a third woman, Julie Swetnick, who accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct and claimed she was gang-raped at a party that Kavanaugh was present at decades ago.

President Donald Trump told reporters himself Saturday as he left for a rally in West Virginia that FBI agents have “free rein” over the investigation.

“The FBI, as you know, is all over talking to everybody,” he said. “They have free rein. They’re going to do whatever they have to do. Whatever it is they do, they’ll be doing things that we’ve never even thought of.”

The FBI declined to comment.

When the White House announced the probe last week, following a call from Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, the president said the investigation “must be limited in scope.”

Conway pointed to that on Sunday, saying the probe was “not meant to be a fishing expedition.”

Still, she emphasized that it was up to the FBI to determine what the “limited scope” meant.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said on Twitter that the “FBI’s hands must not be tied in this investigation.”

“We need the facts,” she wrote.

That’s the essence it of but you can read more at the azcentral site.

Message to women watching the Kavanaugh hearings - you can't get even unless you get mad

This is a follow-up piece to the other post this morning, Message to GOP Senators - commit to learning the truth about Kavanaugh because women are watching. The rest of the message might be phrased as “watching is not enough.”

Rebecca Traister, a writer at large for New York magazine, says that Fury Is a Political Weapon. And Women Need to Wield It. What the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh showed us about who gets to be angry in public. Following are snippets from her essay.

Talk about indelible memories. Who can forget this picture:

Brett Kavanaugh bellowed; he snarled; he pouted and wept furiously at the injustice of having his ascendance to power interrupted by accusations of sexual assault. He challenged his questioners, turned their queries back on them. He was backed up by Lindsey Graham, who appeared to be having some sort of fit of rage over people having the audacity to listen to a woman speak about her life and consider that she might be telling an ugly truth about a powerful man. And, as soon as he was finished, it certainly felt as if the white men’s anger had been rhetorically effective, that we had reflexively understood it as righteous and correct.

Fury was a tool to be marshaled by men like Judge Kavanaugh and Senator Graham, in defense of their own claims to political, legal, public power. Fury was a weapon that had not been made available to the woman who had reason to question those claims.

What happened inside the room was an exceptionally clear distillation of who has historically been allowed to be angry on their own behalf, and who has not.

And outside the room was a hint of how it might be changing.

On Friday morning, two sexual assault survivors, Ana Maria Archila and Maria Gallagher, confronted Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona as he got into an elevator after announcing that he would vote to send Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Senate floor. “You have children in your family!” Ms. Archila shouted at him, pointing her finger in his face in vivid wrath. “I have two children. I cannot imagine that for the next 50 years they will have to have someone in the Supreme Court who has been accused of violating a young girl. What are you doing, sir?”

Ms. Gallagher, weeping but also shouting, told him, “You’re telling all women that they don’t matter, that they should just stay quiet because if they tell you what happened to them you are going to ignore them!”

“Look at me when I’m talking to you,” she added. “Don’t look away from me!”

Later, Ms. Archila told a reporter: “I wanted him to feel my rage.” Shortly afterward, Mr. Flake demanded that the F.B.I. investigate the accusations against Judge Kavanaugh before a floor vote.

Many of the women shouting now are women who have not previously yelled publicly before, many of them white middle-class women newly awakened to political fury and protest. Part of the process of becoming mad must be recognizing that they are not the first to be furious, and that there is much to learn from the stories and histories of the livid women — many of them not white or middle class — who have never had reason not to be mad.

If you are angry today, or if you have been angry for a while, and you’re wondering whether you’re allowed to be as angry as you feel, let me say: Yes. Yes, you are allowed. You are, in fact, compelled.

If you’ve been feeling a new rage at the flaws of this country, and if your anger is making you want to change your life in order to change the world, then I have something incredibly important to say: Don’t forget how this feels.

Tell a friend, write it down, explain it to your children now, so they will remember. And don’t let anyone persuade you it wasn’t right, or it was weird, or it was some quirky stage in your life when you went all political — remember that, honey, that year you went crazy? No. No. Don’t let it ever become that. Because people will try.

The future will come, we hope. If we survive this, if we make it better — even just a little bit better — the urgency will fade, perhaps the ire will subside, the relief may take you, briefly. And that’s good, that’s O.K.

But then the world will come and tell you that you shouldn’t get mad again, because you were kind of nuts and you never cooked dinner and you yelled at the TV and weren’t so pretty and life will be easier when you get fun again. And it will be awfully tempting to put away the pictures of yourself in your pussy hat, to stuff your protest signs in the attic, and to slink back, away from the raw bite of fury, to ease back into whatever new reality is made, and maybe you’ll still cry angry tears at your desk and laugh with sharp satisfaction in front of late-night television, but you won’t yell anymore.

What you’re angry about now — injustice — will still exist, even if you yourself are not experiencing it, or are tempted to stop thinking about how you experience it, and how you contribute to it. Others are still experiencing it, still mad; some of them are mad at you. Don’t forget them; don’t write off their anger. Stay mad for them, alongside them, let them lead you in anger.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Message to GOP Senators - commit to learning the truth about Kavanaugh because women are watching

Friday (Sep. 28), the Editorial Board of the New York Times weighed in with two editorials on the Kavanaugh nomination.

It’s become obvious to all but the most partisan right winger that the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee tried to suppress evidence and ignore witnesses with relevant information. As of yesterday, the “system” has one week to attone for that egregious behavior. The editors list what should have been and now should be investigated, speculating that Maybe America Can Now Learn the Truth. Thank you, Jeff Flake. They thank Sen. Jeff Flake for proposing this delay and the additional background checking. Kavanaugh may still escape this additional investigation with no further harm to his confirmation but that outcome would have been guaranteed in the absence of Flake’s action. (h/t Sherry Moreau)

One outcome of the whole process seems assured: Women Are Watching. Which should make Republican lawmakers very, very nervous. Crassley and Crew, by the way they conducted themselves, have certainly done damage to the Republican party. The Times editors tell us why and how in the following snippets.

Whatever happens next, Republican lawmakers ought to tread carefully. They thus far have not covered themselves in glory in their handling of the allegations against Judge Kavanaugh. This brief pause provides them with an opportunity to start repairing some of that damage, to try to come across as — and maybe even to actually be — more interested in the truth than in shoving through their nominee regardless of it. As they try to figure out how best to move forward, they would do well to keep something in mind: Women are watching.

As the Kavanaugh nightmare took form, women watched in dismay as Republican lawmakers worked to discredit Dr. Blasey by suggesting that she was either hopelessly confused, a political pawn or a liar. They watched in disbelief as Republicans repeatedly declined to call for an independent investigation into Dr. Blasey’s allegations, much less the subsequent ones brought by Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick. They watched in frustration as Republicans failed to call material witnesses or outside experts to testify.

And women most definitely were watching on Thursday, when the Senate Judiciary Committee spent the day listening to the testimony of Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Blasey. Women saw how the 11 Republican men brought in a female prosecutor to chip away at Dr. Blasey’s account, while showing little interest in the alleged attack itself. They saw how those same Republican men then tripped over themselves to assure Judge Kavanaugh that they felt his pain and were so very sorry that Democrats had, as Senator Lindsey Graham shrieked in a display of self-righteous hysteria, conspired to put the nominee “through hell.”

Less than 24 hours later, the committee gave its seal of approval to Judge Kavanaugh and advanced his nomination to the full Senate on a party-line vote of 11 to 10.

And they did so in spite of, or perhaps because of, Kavanaugh’s incredibly awful rant and rave, behavior seen to be in itself disqualifying by former Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman the other night on Chris Hayes’ All In.

Galvanized by watching Dr. Blasey get ripped apart, women — along with similarly outraged men — have held walkouts and sit-ins and have flocked to Capitol Hill. On Thursday, the steps of the Supreme Court were strewn with flowers as a show of support for Dr. Blasey. On Friday, protesters filled the halls around the hearing room with their chants that “November is coming!” Online, the hashtag #WhyIDidntReport caught fire as women poured out stories of why they had long been afraid to speak out about their own experiences with sexual assault.

In response, Republican men have largely shrugged their shoulders — or worse, shifted into high dudgeon, issuing stern lectures about how such “character assassinations” will drive good men away from public service and how the real danger here is that this nation’s sons and husbands will all become vulnerable to false, or at least insignificant, accusations. This is straight-up culture warfare, a message of fear, resentment and male victimhood being sold as sympathetic concern for all those mothers and wives who, as Republicans tell it, could soon see their beloved males torn down by political plots. It’s a particularly rich message coming from some of the same conservative corners that dismissed the allegations against Judge Kavanaugh with the swinish rationalization that boys will be boys.

Then again, such attitudes reflect the broader values of this president and his party.

Mr. Trump’s cabinet contains notably few women’s voices. The president himself has been endlessly forgiving of men with reputations for mistreating women. From Roy Moore to Bill O’Reilly, from Bill Shine to Rob Porter — if you are a man who has been disgraced for behaving badly, the Trump White House wants you to know that it is on your side.

In policy terms, the administration has proved hostile to women on matters of reproductive health, not only chipping away at abortion rights but also curtailing access to birth control and peddling abstinence-only sex education. It also has worked to weaken protections for victims of sexual violence.

At the same time, Republicans in Congress have been fighting to take away women’s access to health care in general, targeting both Planned Parenthood and the Affordable Care Act. They have also proved incapable of passing even basic legislation to reform how sexual harassment is handled within their own ranks.

Maybe Republicans don’t care about the message they’re sending. They’ve been losing ground with women for years now. And, while they’ve occasionally toyed with addressing the root causes of the gender gap, Mr. Trump’s election seems to have convinced them that things are fine after all. Why bother trying?

But this is a dangerous lesson. Along with all the protests and the political organizing, women have stepped up to run for office in record numbers. Polls show the gender gap to be growing ever wider in terms of whom women plan to vote for. (Hint: It’s not Republicans.) The Kavanaugh debacle is unlikely to help — barring an exculpatory revelation, of course. After the allegations against him surfaced, a similar gender gap began opening up in terms of who supported his nomination.

From atop his tower of self-pity on Thursday, Judge Kavanaugh warned that the partisan plot to tank his nomination would haunt Democrats. “You sowed the wind,” he bellowed. “For decades to come, I fear the whole country will reap the whirlwind.”

We don’t know about the whole country. Certainly, die-hard partisans will stick by their party, come what may. But, where more and more women are concerned, Republicans are overdue for a reckoning. Women have not simply been watching. They’ve been preparing their response. That response may come in 2018 or in 2020. But it will come. And, without a course correction far more dramatic than the frantic shuffling spurred by Mr. Flake’s 11th-hour pang of conscience, the damage Republican lawmakers are doing to their party could last for decades.

Have hope.

The week ahead will determine the fate of the Cavanaugh Court

Yes, you read that right. The nation teeters on the verge of the deciding vote in the Supreme Court by a nasty partisan hack. The additional investigation into Brett Cavanaugh’s background now to be performed by the FBI in the next week might well tip the scales one way or the other.

Yesterday (Friday, Sep. 28, 2018), the Senate Judiciary Committee chaired by Chuck Crassley voted to send Brett Cavanaugh’s SCOTUS nomination to the Senate Floor. But here is the important qualifier: the Senate vote will be delayed by a week in order to give the FBI time to reopen its background check on Cavanaugh and interview those witnesses and additional accusers. As I understand the reporting, McConnell has agreed to that delay and Trump has asked the FBI to do the additional investigation, albeit limited in “time and scope.” In essence, the Democratic senators on the committee got what they wanted albeit later than it should have been.

Marcy Wheeler at emptywheel.net makes the case for The record supports Christine Blasey Ford. AZBlueMeanie at Blog for Arizona covers the same ground but adds updates and new developments from yesterday, as I noted above, in A disastrous hearing, but the GOP will ‘plow ahead’ with Kavanaugh confirmation (Updated).

So, rather than cover that same ground, I want to make a different observation. I’ve been critical of Sen. Jeff Flake in this blog and in a recent letter to the editor (GV News). I think I had a lot of justification given Flake’s history of castigating members of his own party and Trump - and then voting the straight Trumpian party line. I won’t recant - the history is what it is. But Flake’s action yesterday merits a lot of credit. Here is the NY Times reporting on the final moments leading up to his action, A Tumultuous 24 Hours: How Jeff Flake Delayed a Vote on Kavanaugh.

Mr. Flake’s face was grim as he arrived in the committee room and took his seat on the right flank of the dais.

Democrats made a motion to subpoena more witnesses to the sexual misconduct accusations, but that was defeated, 11 to 10, with Mr. Flake’s support. The senators began offering their statements. Republicans said they were encouraged to be moving Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination forward, to an expected vote early next week. Democrats assailed the process, again insisting on a one-week delay and an F.B.I. investigation.

Almost three hours passed before Mr. Flake — looking increasingly uncomfortable — and Mr. Coons slipped out of the hearing room to begin discussing a possible delay. Senators crowded around, and the arguments continued as Mr. Flake made his decision.

Quickly, he held a conference call with Ms. Collins and Ms. Murkowski to ensure that he still had their support and that they agreed to a one-week delay. They did.

Accepting a Delay

Mr. Flake returned to the committee room and announced his intention: He wanted a one-week delay for an investigation but said, “I will vote to advance this bill to the floor.”

Democrats were initially confused, and some objected. It took a few minutes for the reality to sink in: Mr. Flake had given the Republicans the majority they needed to advance Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination. But with some help from his like-minded Republican colleagues from the previous night’s meeting, he also had the power to hold up a final vote until an F.B.I. inquiry could be conducted.

In a meeting Friday afternoon with members of the Judiciary Committee, Mr. McConnell vented. Make no mistake about it, he said, more accusations, false ones, will emerge while we wait on this. But in the end, he had to accept the delay.

So did Mr. Trump. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, posted a statement from the president to her Twitter feed at 4:56 p.m. Friday.

“I’ve ordered the FBI to conduct a supplemental investigation to update Judge Kavanaugh’s file,” Mr. Trump said in the statement. He had been pushed into doing what he mused about 24 hours earlier.

“As the Senate has requested,” Mr. Trump said, “this update must be limited in scope and completed in less than one week.”

So given where we were yesterday around 10:30 AZ time, Jeff Flake did the right thing at the right time. Now it is up to us to do two more things. (1) Thank Flake! (2) Write and call and keep the pressure on those Senators who remain (officially) undecided. According to the Washington Post they are:
Heitkamp D-N.D.
Manchin III D-W.Va.
Collins R-Maine
Flake R-Ariz.
Murkowski R-Alaska
“If two of them vote for it, the nomination would likely pass.”

Thursday, September 27, 2018

The seven senators likely to decide the fate of Kavanaugh's nomination

Here are your targets to lean on now from the 538’s significant digits email.

7 senators
Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court nominee, and Christine Blasey Ford, a professor who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault, are scheduled to testify today before the Senate Judiciary Committee. According to my colleague Perry Bacon Jr., there are seven senators who will likely decide the fate of Kavanaugh’s nomination. This list includes three Democrats — Indiana’s Joe Donnelly, North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin — and four Republicans — Tennessee’s Bob Corker, Arizona’s Jeff Flake, Maine’s Susan Collins and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski. [FiveThirtyEight]

The curtain goes up on Crassley's political theatre this morning

Mourn for America and the death of its democracy. All signs are that today is not a good day for the rule of law.

By the time you read this, 9:00 AM on Thursday 27 September 2018, assuming you track my blog minute by minute, the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the alleged sexual abuse by SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh will have been in session for two hours. If all goes according to the plan worked out by committee chair Sen. Crassley, it might even be over in another couple of hours - at most. Here is why, according to AZBlueMeanie at Blog for Arizona, (Update) A sham hearing and a denial of due process.

Check out the Blue Meanie’s post for citations in the snippets below.

This. Is. Not. Normal.

This is unprecedented for a confirmation hearing.

The eleven privileged white male Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee are going to hide behind the skirts of a hired gun female prosecutor to question Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh because they cannot contain their obvious contempt for a woman who is the victim of a sexual assault and express their view that the real victim here is privileged white male Brett Kavanaugh.

So here is where we are, as of today. The eleven privileged white male Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee will abdicate their responsibility of advice and consent under the Constitution and hide behind the skirts of hired gun Rachel Mitchell, a sex crimes prosecutor from the Maricopa County Attorney’s office. Arizona prosecutor tapped to lead hearing for Brett Kavanaugh, accuser.

Washington D.C. has hundreds of former federal U.S. attorneys and state prosecutors working in law firms, so it is a curious decision to hire a county prosecutor from Arizona. It is almost certainly at the recommendation of Arizona Senator Jon Kyl, who was Bret Kanavaugh’s “sherpa” for the confirmation process until he was appointed to the Senate after John McCain died, or by Senator Jeff Flake. Someone should nail this down.

Senators will be limited to five minutes of inquiry apiece. This means Rachel Mitchell will have 55 minutes each with Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh, and Democratic Senators, most of whom are experienced prosecutors, will have 50 minutes.

The committee will not subpoena Mark Judge to testify, whom Dr. Blasey alleges was in the room when she was sexually assaulted and was an accomplice. How in the world is Mark Judge not testifying?

Nor will the committee take testimony from Dr. Blasey’s psychiatrist or the former FBI agent who administered a lie detector test that she passed.

Nor will the committee take testimony from any corroborative or exculpatory witnesses, including Four People Told The Senate That Christine Blasey Ford Told Them She Was Sexually Assaulted In High School.

Nor will the committee take testimony from a second credible accuser, Deborah Ramirez. Lawyer for second Kavanaugh accuser says Republicans refuse to talk.

Nor, Scriber adds, will there be any attempt to investigate claims of the third woman (represented by Michael Avenatti).

There is no desire by Republicans to get at the truth, because it simply does not matter to them: “Even if it’s all true, does it disqualify him?” He is a privileged white male who is entitled.

This is contempt for Senate rules, contempt for due process, contempt for the rule of law, and contempt for women. It is an abuse of power by authoritarian Republicans who are drunk with power.

… Republican senators desperately want to get to “yes” on Kavanaugh’s nomination to appease their GOP crazy base. This despite the fact that a Record number of voters oppose Kavanaugh nomination.

This is not how our democracy is supposed to work.

But with the GOPlins in charge, led by Crassley, there might be a committee vote as soon as tomorrow in spite of this deeply flawed political theatre unfolding as I write. And let’s not forget that Deputy AG Rosenstein meets again with Trump today and may vey well be fired by the time you read this.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Required reading for Republican senators Before Thursday's inquisition - sexual assault is an under-reported crime

Following is a press release from the American Psychological Association that is relevant to the attacks by Republican senators and other politicians and right wing media on Ford and Martinez. (Emphasis added.)

September 24, 2018

Statement of APA President Regarding the Science Behind Why Women May Not Report Sexual Assault. Traumatic memories stored differently in the brain, according to psychological research

WASHINGTON — Following is a statement by Jessica Henderson Daniel, PhD, president of the American Psychological Association, regarding what the scientific research says about the reporting of sexual assault in light of the allegation by Christine Blasey Ford, PhD, with respect to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh: “Sexual assault is likely the most under-reported crime in the United States. About two-thirds of female sexual assault victims do not report to the police, and many victims do not tell anyone. Sexual assault is a terrifying and humiliating experience. Women choose not to report for a variety of reasons — fear for their safety, being in shock, fear of not being believed, feeling embarrassed or ashamed, or expecting to be blamed.

“A lack of reporting does not mean an assault or attempted assault did not happen or is exaggerated. Research demonstrates that false claims of sexual assault are very low — between 2 and 7 percent. This tells us that far more women are assaulted and don’t report than women who make false claims.”

Daniel noted that Ford’s alleged assault is reported to have occurred when she was 15 — the developmental stage of exploring and determining one’s identity, a time when many teenagers do not feel comfortable discussing any sexual issues with their parents, let alone an assault.

“While memory of past day-to-day events is often poor, research has shown that memory of traumatic events is stored differently in the brain,” according to Daniel. “Some memories are so emotionally charged that they become frozen in time, and some particulars can be recalled in excruciating detail, as if the event just occurred, while others may be forgotten. The American Psychological Association is concerned that public statements questioning the integrity of Dr. Ford and the veracity of her allegation due to her prior lack of reporting will make it even more likely that other sexual assault victims do not report their experiences.”

The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States. APA’s membership includes nearly 115,700 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people’s lives.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

New report on 'chatter at school' appears to support allegation against Kavanaugh

The evidence on the allegations against Brett Kavanaugh by Christine Blasey Ford continues to dribble out. Now there is a letter by a fellow student at the school attended by Ford reporting generally on the drinking culture but more specifically on the “chatter” the morning after the incident reported by Ford. Roll Call: Kavanaugh Accuser’s Schoolmate Says Assault Was Chatter at School Afterward writes AZBlueMeanie at Blog for Arizona.

The essence of the story is this.

Roll Call reports today that Dr. Blasey’s sexual assault was “chatter” among her classmates contemporaneously around the time that it occurred. Someone at that party must have saw something, and the White House by refusing to request the FBI to conduct a follow-up background investigation is actively engaged in a coverup.

Here is more from the Roll Call report: Kavanaugh Accuser’s Schoolmate Says Assault Was Chatter at School Afterward] Cristina King Miranda went to all-girls prep school with Christine Blasey Ford.

“Christine Blasey Ford was a year or so behind me, I remember her,” wrote Cristina King Miranda [on Facebook], who graduated a year ahead of Ford at Holton-Arms School in Bethesda, Maryland. Holton-Arms is an all-girls school whose students frequently socialized with Kavanaugh’s all-male alma mater, Georgetown Prep.

“This incident did happen,” Miranda wrote. “Many of us heard about it in school and Christine’s recollection should be more than enough for us to truly, deeply know that the accusation is true.”

Here’s a tweet with a full copy of the letter.

But the White House, in refusing to order additional investigation by the FBI, and abetted by the recalcitrant Sen. Grassley, is covering up. See this one, also by AZBlueMeanie on the so-called hearing scheduled for Monday, A sham hearing and a denial of due process.

To cut right to it, after reporting from several sources, AZBlueMeanie concludes:

This is what GOP authoritarianism looks like: sham hearings, denial of due process, and right-wing thuggery from Trump’s white nationalist “deplorables.”

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Will GOPlins let the truth out about what happened at Georgetown Prep

Silly question. Not when the stakes involve their SCOTUS pick. Instead, they are bashing the accuser once again.

A quote from a playwright runs alongside the family photos on Mark Judge’s page in his high school yearbook: “Certain women should be struck regularly, like gongs.”

Avi Selk at the Washington Post writes much more about What the man accused of being part of Kavanaugh’s alleged sexual assault had to say about women’s sexuality.

One of the interesting themes in reports about Mark Judge’s days at Georgetown Prep (and beyond) is repentance. You already know this background:

Judge’s yearbook entry appears one page before the bio of his classmate at Georgetown Preparatory School, federal judge and Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh. Both men graduated in 1983 — a year after they allegedly locked a girl inside a bedroom at a house party, where she says a drunken Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed and tried to strip her while a similarly drunken Judge watched and laughed.

Both men have denied the accusation, which Christine Blasey Ford went public with this week in The Washington Post. A lawyer for Judge said in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee that he has “no memory of this alleged incident.” Judge previously told the New York Times that such behavior would be wildly out of character for the Catholic-raised-and-educated boys who went to Georgetown Prep in the early ’80s.

What Judge has written in his career as a journalist and author is another matter.

For example:

In two memoirs, Judge depicted his high school as a nest of debauchery where students attended “masturbation class,” “lusted after girls” from nearby Catholic schools and drank themselves into stupors at parties. He has since renounced that lifestyle and refashioned himself as a conservative moralist — albeit one who has written about “the wonderful beauty of uncontrollable male passion.”

Well, hmmmm. Maybe Brett Kavanaugh would welcome a defense from someone other than Mark Judge. How about a distinguished long-term U. S. Senator like Orin Hatch? Steve Benen (MSNBC/MaddowB log) weighs in: Orrin Hatch defends Kavanaugh in the least persuasive way possible.

Hatch, you see, is defending Kavanaugh as one of the Republican voices targeting Kavanaugh’s accuser.

The retiring Utah Republican told Capitol Hill reporters yesterday, for example, in refence to Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations, that Kavanaugh didn’t even attend the party. Since Ford hasn’t gone into any details about the event, it’s difficult to know how the judge, or his GOP ally in the Senate, could say this with any certainty.

Hatch added that Ford must be “mixed up,” evidently because Kavanaugh says so.

… As The New Republic’s Jeet Heer wrote, “So Hatch’s position is: Ford is mistaken because Kavanaugh wasn’t at a party that Ford didn’t really describe but it wouldn’t matter if Ford were telling the truth because Kavanaugh is a good man. The philosopher Jacques Derrida described this type of thinking as ‘kettle logic’: the making of contradictory arguments with no regard for internal coherence.”

It also touches on something we discussed yesterday: the idea that Kavanaugh’s alleged violence toward Ford doesn’t matter because it happened decades ago, and as Hatch put it, what matters is “who the judge is today.”

It’s obviously a debatable point, which could be at the center of a spirited discussion – if that were Kavanaugh’s defense. But it’s not. The conservative jurist isn’t saying he made a horrible mistake as a high-school student, learned from it, and is a better person now; he’s saying his accuser is lying and her corroborating evidence should be ignored.

Orrin Hatch is comfortable with both claims simultaneously – Kavanaugh didn’t attack Ford, and even if he did, Kavanaugh shouldn’t be held accountable for his actions now – but that doesn’t mean everyone else should be so cavalier about the revelations.

OK. Let’s pick another U. S. Senator who we would assume want truth out because of his position on the Judiciary Committee.

Judd Legum at popular.info observes:

The announcement from the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee was titled: “Judiciary Committee to Hear from Kavanaugh, Ford in Public Hearing.” The press release said the hearing would provide an opportunity “to give these recent allegations a full airing.”

But on Tuesday, Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) admitted that the hearing was scheduled without securing a commitment from Ford to appear. When Ford didn’t immediately respond to emails, Grassley just scheduled it anyway.

Does anyone think that Ford and her allegations will get a fair shake from the Republican senators? Perhaps.

There are several members of the Republican caucus, including Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who have said they want to hear from Ford before moving forward. If those Senators aren’t on board with confirming Kavanaugh without an investigation or testimony from Ford, Republicans don’t have the votes to proceed.

Would she get a faire shake from the President? Nope. “Trump says he won’t reopen the FBI investigation.”

[Instead] Trump also painted Kavanaugh as a victim. “I feel so badly for him that he’s going through this, to be honest with you… This is not a man who deserves this.”

Ford, meanwhile, has been receiving death threats and has been forced into hiding, according to the New York Times.

A video surfaced on Tuesday from a 2015 speech by Kavanaugh that has new resonance in light of Ford’s allegations. “What happens at Georgetown Prep, stays at Georgetown Prep. That’s been a good thing for all of us,” Kavanaugh told an audience at Columbus School of Law.

If you are trying to assess who is lying and who is telling the truth, one thing to pay attention to is who is seeking a full airing of all relevant facts and who is encouraging people to quickly reach summary conclusions.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Kavanaugh, blackout drinking, and the treasurer of the Keg City Club

This is a long post from Judd Legum at popular.info titled The education of Bart O’Kavanaugh. It has information on drinking habits of Brett Kavanaugh and his high-school and college classmates - some of this in their own words. It is too long for me to reprint here and I see no fair way to snippetize it. Read the whole thing. Here’s the link.

President can send messages direct to your cell phone - no opt out

If you are not prone to the use of cuss words, you will be after reading this item from 538’s significant digits email.

100 mobile carriers
This week, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is set to test a system that will let President Trump send a message directly to your cell phone. More than 100 mobile carriers, including “all the major wireless firms,” are participating — there is no way to opt out. Now, what follows is all subject to approval by my editor and presumably many besuited lawyers at the Disney corporation, but I am contemplating a way to beam all of my articles to a receptor implanted in your occipital lobe at which point their text will be projected directly onto your aqueous humour. Or something. In any case, there will be no way to opt out. [NBC News]

This is the article from NBC News: FEMA to test ‘Presidential Alert’ system next week. Its subtitle is: Experts expressed little concern that the wireless emergency alerts could be used for political purposes. To paraphrase Melania: I don’t believe that. Do you? Read on.

“The EAS [Emergency Alert System] is a national public warning system that provides the President with the communications capability to address the nation during a national emergency,” FEMA said.

The test message will have a header that reads “Presidential Alert,” according to the agency.

Users whose phones are on will twice hear a tone and vibration and then see an English-only (for now) message: "THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”

The wireless emergency alerts (WEA) system was authorized by Congress in 2015 under a law that states the “system shall not be used to transmit a message that does not relate to a natural disaster, act of terrorism, or other man-made disaster or threat to public safety.”

Experts didn’t appear to be too concerned that Trump, known to use his smartphone to blast opponents, berate subordinates and take shots at the news media on Twitter, could abuse WEA.

In what universe are those experts living?

President Trump is already suspect in the breaking of laws so why not one more? How about these?

Hillary is a threat to public safety. Lock her up!

My approval ratings are a man-made disaster. Fake news!

The Mueller investigation is a natural disaster. FEMA, are you there? Protect me, Sessions!

The test is supposed to take place at 2:18 p.m. EDT on Sept. 20. Under the Warning, Alert, and Response Network (WARN) Act of 2006, cellphone users cannot opt out of the presidential alerts.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

The facts about Trump's lies - but will the GV news publish them

This last Wednesday, Sep. 12th, the Green Valley News published my open letter to Sen. Jeff Flake. Here it is again, in full. (Read on - there’s an update I’ll get to shortly.)

At the end of Bertolt Brecht’s play, Galileo tells his former student “The practice of science would seem to call for valor.” I add, “The practice of responsible politics would seem to call for valor.”

Shortly you will be asked to cast a vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination for the Supreme Court. What you do might well take valor. Everything you detest about President Trump exists as a microcosm that played out in the confirmation hearings. The record shows Kavanaugh being less than honest in previous appearances before the Senate. The record this year shows Kavanaugh being evasive and not answering questions put by the senators. In the past, you have spoken out forcefully on your displeasure with the president. Trump most recently has tried to use the Justice Department against his political opponents. And now Trump’s nomination of Kavanaugh appears to be a ploy to protect himself from his legal entanglements. You need to talk about the connection between Trump and Kavanaugh, but you need to do more. You need to vote against that confirmation. Your integrity and credibility are at stake.

In the Rogue Theatre director’s notes, we are told: “Like the courtiers surrounding Prince Cosimo de Medici who refuse to look through Galileo’s telescope, we refuse to learn the truth because it might upset our ideas about the way things are.” You, sir, are not a courtier and Donald Trump is not a king. You are a United States senator and as such you should demand and get honesty and forthrightness from those who testify before the Senate.

I hope you will behave with valor and vote against this confirmation. I ask this of you in the name of the citizens of the United States of America to whom you owe the truth.

Bill Maki, Green Valley

This morning, the GV News published a response to that letter.

In response to Bill Maki’s missive (“Kavanaugh vote,” Sept. 12), it seems that there is almost a casual claim that our president can’t open his mouth without lying. I would like some specifics please, but perhaps you were referring to when the president said, “You can keep your doctor!” Oh no, that was the previous president. Maybe when he said, “Benghazi was the result of a shaming video!” Oh dear, once again, the previous president. It must have been when he said he “knew absolutely nothing about the IRS targeting conservative groups!”

Well, I suppose if President Trump walked on water, Mr. Maki would be the first to claim the president couldn’t swim.

Jan Etheredge, Green Valley

Also this morning, I submitted a reply .

Jan Etheredge’s September 16th response to my letter complained about my “almost casual” claim about Trump’s record of dishonesty. There is nothing casual about it. Earlier this month Trump set a record of 5,000 lies, and that’s just since he’s been in the White House. That’s an average of 8.3 false or misleading claims each day. It’s getting worse. On a single day, September 7th, “he publicly made 125 false or misleading statements — in a period of time that totaled only about 120 minutes.” That’s one lie each minute. He really, as Ms. Etheredge wrote, “can’t open his mouth without lying.”

Anyone can find the “specifics”. Just do an internet search for “trump lies”. My source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/09/13/president-trump-has-made-more-than-false-or-misleading-claims/

At this writing, I do not know if the GV News editor, Dan Shearer, will publish it. For the sake of factual evidence, I hope he does.

As for Etheredge’s supposition “if President Trump walked on water,” his supporters really believe something like that. But you know from the fact-checking that would likely be a lie. Trump would then drown under the weight of his mendacity.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Scriber on vacation

Scriber will be on vacation until September 27th. Any posts to this blog will depend on Scriber’s travel schedule. Photos will be posted to Bill Maki’s Facebook page.

Friday, September 14, 2018

In casting votes on Kavanaugh, will Sen. Jeff Flake act with courage or cowardice

According to Sen. Jeff Flake, Congress has a duty to curb Trump’s ‘reckless behavior’ reports Steve Benen (MSNBC/MaddowBlog). But, as we all should know by now, there is a gap between what Flake does and what he says.

According to the analyses by Nate Silver’s fivethirtyeight.com, Flake votes in accord with Trump 83.3% of the time. Now that sounds high, but compared to other Republicans it really is good - that puts Flake as the 5th lowest Republican in the Senate - along with Collins and Murkowski, for example. However, Flake votes with Trump more often than would be expected given the results of the 2016 election in Arizona, + 24.3. He’s the 13th highest on that measure.

That’s what Flake does. Now what does he say? For that we turn to Benen’s report.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) generated a few headlines yesterday, delivering another speech criticizing Donald Trump from the Senate floor. The Associated Press reported:

Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona is condemning President Donald Trump’s attacks on Attorney General Jeff Sessions, calling them a “travesty.”

Flake, a vocal Trump critic, said Wednesday from the Senate floor that Trump has been “relentlessly slandering” Sessions. He warned that Trump seems headed for “some future assault” on the justice system, perhaps by firing Sessions or special counsel Robert Mueller. He urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to hold a vote on legislation to protect Mueller’s investigation.

The retiring Republican senator added that Congress has “the responsibility to curb such reckless behavior” from Trump and appealed to lawmakers to speak out.

Of course, speaking out and lawmakers taking steps to curb reckless presidential behavior are not the same thing.

Flake has become quite adept at delivering remarks like these, and for Trump detractors, the Arizonan’s speeches tend to be powerful and eloquent. I was especially impressed with the message he delivered at Harvard Law School in May, when Flake said, “Our presidency has been debased by a figure who has a seemingly bottomless appetite for destruction and division – and only a passing familiarity with how the Constitution works.”

But as compelling as Flake’s criticisms are, there’s still something important missing: follow through.

Circling back to previous coverage from January, after Flake delivered blistering remarks condemning his party’s president, some core truths remain unchanged. The senator, for example, continues to vote with Trump’s agenda the vast majority of the time, despite, to use his words, the “moral vandalism that flows from the White House daily.”

But this isn’t just a matter of voting records. In practical terms, Trump knows (and cares) so little about public policy that lawmakers like Flake have enormous power – especially in a narrowly divided 51–49 Senate. The question is what the Arizonan and his colleagues intend to do with that power.

Flake’s online bio, for example, notes that he serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and is a subcommittee chairman. Has he used this perch to pressure the White House? Not in any meaningful way.

Flake also serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee. If he wants a vote on legislation to protect Robert Mueller’s investigation, for example, the GOP lawmaker could make his vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation conditional on a bill to protect the special counsel’s probe.s

That would be only part of what should be done. Kavanaugh’s confirmation would leave at risk matters such as Roe v. Wade.

I like Flake’s speeches, op-eds, and books. I also recognize that it takes some political courage to speak out the way he has. But I keep waiting for the Arizona senator to actually do something – to follow up his welcome words with deeds – instead of preparing the next speech, op-ed, and book.

It’s not that he is powerless to act in accord with his views of Trump and the administration. For example:

NBC News’ Benjy Sarlin noted a few months ago that Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) started blocking the White House’s Justice Department nominees until the administration met his demands on matters related to his state. Flake, meanwhile, apparently sees the president as a danger to the republic, but he’s made no comparable moves.

Isaac Chotiner recently had a good piece in Slate along these lines, noting that Flake “seems entirely unwilling to take actions commensurate with either the times – which he correctly recognizes as frighteningly dangerous – or his own words. He seems to believe that anything too radical would be a violation of his conservative principles, when in fact he should be willing to temporarily put aside his commitment to those principles for his commitment to – by his own account – larger ones.”

In a 51–49 Senate, Flake can wield great influence. It’s not too late for him to take better advantage of the opportunity to keep a president that frightens him in check.

If Flake does not do that, he is guilty of being an “enabler” speaking out as did the author of a recent notorious op-ed, but in practice acting to advance Trump’s agenda.

In my recent letter to the (Green Valley News) editor, An open letter to Sen. Jeff Flake, I noted that Flake needs to act with “valor” and vote against the Kavanaugh nomination to SCOTUS. He could announce his opposition to the nomination and voice an intention to vote against the nomination. In that way he would provide political cover for other Senators (like Collins and Murkowski) who might be inclined to vote no.

Here I leave it with two “C” words. Will Flake cast that vote with Courage? Or meekly vote with Cowardice to confirm?

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Funding for hurricane relief diverted to ICE's detention program. The bottom of the Trump administration cruel bungling is not yet in sight.

One of the great ironies of the Trump era is the administration’s completely duplicitous claims about Puerto Rico’s recovery from Hurricane Maria and the actual fatality count. Yesterday Trump was on television taking credit for Puerto Rico as an “unsung success”. But what he did not say is that over 2900 Puerto Ricans died because of the bungled response to that disaster. Rachel Maddow reported in her show yesterday on Trump’s claims: Trump praises P.R. response despite nearly 3000 American deaths.

Rachel Maddow notes that the last Category 4 hurricane to hit the United States was Hurricane Maria, which was an unmitigated, tragic disaster that resulted in the deaths of nearly 3,000 Americans. Despite this, Donald Trump boasted about his administration’s response as an “unsung success.”

But wait! There’s another disaster in the making just around the corner as Hurricane Florence is about to trash the east coast of the United States. Here’s an item from 538’s significant digits email.

$9.8 million
According to MSNBC and documents released by Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, the Department of Homeland Security requested to transfer nearly $10 million out of the budget of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and into that of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, to fund the latter’s immigrant detention and deportation programs. Merkley believes the transfer happened this summer. “Just in time for hurricane season,” said Rachel Maddow. [MSNBC]

Maddow reported Trump admin took millions from FEMA for ICE detentions: “Senator Jeff Merkley talks with Rachel Maddow about a document showing that the Trump administration took nearly ten million dollars from FEMA’s budget ahead of the 2018 hurricane season and gave it to ICE to pay for detentions.”

By now you know that just when you think this administration could not get worse, the bottom appears beyond our ability to see it let alone land on it.

Rachel Maddow also reported last night that the administration is sucking lots more money out of the Coast Guard budget to give to ICE: Document shows DHS transferring $29M from Coast Guard to ICE.

Rachel Maddow reports on a DHS document from Senator Merkley that shows nearly $10 million dollars being transferred from FEMA’s budget to fund ICE detentions, and $29 million being taken from the Coast Guard, ahead of the 2018 hurricane season. Moira Whelan, a former DHS official, joins to discuss how FEMA budgets its money.

Why does ICE need more money for detention? Here’s a possible reason. Detention of Migrant Children Has Skyrocketed to Highest Levels Ever reported the New York Times yesterday.

Even though hundreds of children separated from their families after crossing the border have been released under court order, the overall number of detained migrant children has exploded to the highest ever recorded — a significant counternarrative to the Trump administration’s efforts to reduce the number of undocumented families coming to the United States.

Population levels at federally contracted shelters for migrant children have quietly shot up more than fivefold since last summer, according to data obtained by The New York Times, reaching a total of 12,800 this month. There were 2,400 such children in custody in May 2017.

The huge increases, which have placed the federal shelter system near capacity, are due not to an influx of children entering the country, but a reduction in the number being released to live with families and other sponsors, the data collected by the Department of Health and Human Services suggests. Some of those who work in the migrant shelter network say the bottleneck is straining both the children and the system that cares for them.

When Carolinians complain about FEMA, and you know they will, they can take solace from the knowledge that they are paying, via FEMA, for more facilities that keep families separated. And that’s a direct result of the Trump administration policy. Cruel.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Unpopular and unfit say majority of Americans in latest polls

538’s significant digits email reports on Trump’s latest (un)popularity score.

Below 40 percent
Two new polls — from CNN and Quinnipiac University — found that President Trump’s approval rating had dropped below 40 percent. Indeed, as I write this, FiveThirtyEight’s calculation sits at 39.9 percent. The Quinnipiac poll found that a majority of Americans (55 percent) do not believe that Trump is fit to serve as president. [USA Today]

An open letter to Sen. Jeff Flake

Following is a letter to the editor from your Scriber appearing in the Green Valley News this morning titled Kavanaugh vote.

An open letter to Sen. Jeff Flake.

At the end of Bertolt Brecht’s play, Galileo tells his former student “The practice of science would seem to call for valor.” I add, “The practice of responsible politics would seem to call for valor.”

Shortly you will be asked to cast a vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination for the Supreme Court. What you do might well take valor. Everything you detest about President Trump exists as a microcosm that played out in the confirmation hearings. The record shows Kavanaugh being less than honest in previous appearances before the Senate. The record this year shows Kavanaugh being evasive and not answering questions put by the senators. In the past, you have spoken out forcefully on your displeasure with the president. Trump most recently has tried to use the Justice Department against his political opponents. And now Trump’s nomination of Kavanaugh appears to be a ploy to protect himself from his legal entanglements. You need to talk about the connection between Trump and Kavanaugh, but you need to do more. You need to vote against that confirmation. Your integrity and credibility are at stake.

In the Rogue Theatre director’s notes, we are told: “Like the courtiers surrounding Prince Cosimo de Medici who refuse to look through Galileo’s telescope, we refuse to learn the truth because it might upset our ideas about the way things are.” You, sir, are not a courtier and Donald Trump is not a king. You are a United States senator and as such you should demand and get honesty and forthrightness from those who testify before the Senate.

I hope you will behave with valor and vote against this confirmation. I ask this of you in the name of the citizens of the United States of America to whom you owe the truth.

Bill Maki, Green Valley

BTW: I highly recommend the Rogue Theatre version of the play, Galileo.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

2018 Democratic victory in Arizona is 'unlikely'

Really? Naw. I don’t believe it. I posted that headline just to get you to read this and get juiced up. Read on about national trends and the race for Democratic governor.

Jonathan Swan (axios.com) sees Scary signs for Republicans. (h/t Daily Kos)

My colleague Mike Allen, who’s covered a few midterm elections in his time, says it’s rare to see so much evidence of a trend accumulate so many months out, only for all the signals to be proven wrong.

Check out Swan’s report for quantitative indicators, examples being the number of House seats in play due to retirements in 2010 (14 Dems) vs. 2018 (41 GOP) and 2nd quarter fundraising in 2010 (44 Dem candidates out-raised) vs. 2018 (56 GOP candidates out-raised).

The big picture: Yes, the punditocracy is being cautious about 2018 because it has fresh memories of how humiliating it felt to wake up on Nov. 9, 2016, with Donald Trump as president. But the [table in Swan’s post] tells a stark story and shows the pundit class may be underestimating the odds of a devastating election season for Republicans.

The bottom line: The signals look every bit as bad for Republicans as they did for House Democrats when they got wiped out in the 2010 Tea Party wave.

“Every metric leads you to one conclusion: The likelihood of significant Republican losses in the House and state/local level is increasing by the week,” said the Republican operative who did this statistical comparison to 2010.

“The depth of losses could be much greater than anticipated and the Senate majority might be in greater peril than anticipated.”

So let’s look at the Senate as seen by Dan Balz (Washington Post) who writes Forget the House. It’s the battle for the Senate that could provide the most drama on election night.

For months now, the focus of Campaign 2018, rightly, has been on control of the House. All the metrics continue to point to a midterm election in which Democrats could seize control of that chamber. But for sheer drama and unpredictability, the contest for control of the Senate could be the place to look.

The House is no slam-dunk for the Democrats, but most Republicans following the campaigns are genuinely worried and probably right to be that way. The overall environment is difficult for the GOP because of President Trump and because of the location of the competitive races; suburban areas as one example. There are so many Republican-held seats at risk (and very few Democratic seats in similar danger) that Democrats have multiple paths to pick up the 23 they need to flip the chamber.

The Senate is and has been a different story. There the Democrats’ prospects are much more difficult, in large part because of the two big structural differences with the battle for the House. If the terrain that will determine control of the House more generally reflects the breadth of the country, the campaign for the Senate is largely playing out in the heart of Trump country.

Check out the WaPo column for names and places, for example, the AZ race between Sinema and McSally.

Two … Democratic incumbents in toss-up races are Sen. Jon Tester of Montana and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin III. Trump has campaigned in their states in an effort to rally his voters to turn out in November. But of the five Democrats in the reddest states, these two appear, today, in marginally better shape than their colleagues in North Dakota, Missouri, Indiana and Florida.

Holding all five of those seats would still mean Democrats have to knock off two Republicans. Their prospects are brightest in Nevada, Tennessee and Arizona, where Republican Rep. Martha McSally is facing Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema for the seat now held by retiring Republican Sen. Jeff Flake.

None of those states is particularly easy for the Democrats. Presidentially, Nevada is a truly purple state, trending blue perhaps because of changing demographics. Democrats like to think the same is happening in Arizona, but it hasn’t yet jelled. …

Balz concludes:

… running the map state by state underscores the challenge to the Democrats. They need near-perfect campaigns to offset the GOP’s built-in advantages. Looking at things from that perspective, it’s no wonder that Republicans think, in the end, they will hold their majority in the Senate or even add a seat or more.

The question is whether there are larger forces at work that could turn things in the direction of the Democrats, things that have less to do with who runs the best television commercial or knocks on the most doors or has good debate performances.

“What keeps me up at night is the ‘overriding force’ possibility,” a Republican strategist emailed on Friday. “In 2014 and 2016, our party benefited from late-in-cycle movement that tipped nearly all the close races our way. You could see something like that developing this fall — not a wave, just a shift — that could flip close races in the Democrats’ direction.”

Today no one can say whether that will be the case. But the very existence of a series of races that are as close as they are right now, and the possibility that they stay that way over the coming weeks, suggests that the campaign for the Senate deserves plenty of attention.

Back on the (AZ) ranch …

Larry Bodine at Blog for Arizona reports on a new survey: Ducey Has 8% Lead in AZ Gubernatorial Race.

Data Orbital’s ballot test for the Arizona Gubernatorial Race, between incumbent Republican Governor Doug Ducey and Democrat David Garcia, shows Ducey with just under an 8% lead. With only 7.9% of surveyed voters being undecided, there is little room for major movement leading up to election day.

“These numbers indicate that even with high enthusiasm from Democrats, Governor Ducey still holds a comfortable lead,” says George Khalaf, President of Data Orbital. Early ballots will be mailed out on October 10.

The survey was of likely Arizona General Election voters and was conducted from September 4th to the 6th.

There are two things about this report that should get you head-scratching. First, the other question asked in the survey was about Trump.

Looking at the view of President Trump the survey shows President Trump underwater by 6.5 percentage points, consistent with past survey results prior to the Arizona primary election. [42.2% favorable vs. 48.7% unfavorable]

We need to go figure. Is Arizona so disconnected from the nation such that Ducey, an almost blood relative of Trump, is able to flip a strong national trend against Trump when it comes to the Governor race? I don’t know the answer. If any of you have a source that will clarify, please let me know.

The second thing is that the survey was based on “likely” voters. What the Democratic challenger, David Garcia, needs to do is to bring out “unlikely” voters. With Garcia down by 8 points in the survey, and with only about 8% voters still undecided, he could very well lose - if he just goes after the undecided vote. If the undecided voters break along party lines, in red-state AZ, Garcia won’t make it. Just trying to snag disaffected “moderate” Republicans, it seems to me, also is a losing strategy given how strongly cultish Republicans love their King Donald. So Scriber thinks getting those “unlikely” voters out in force is what Garcia must do.

Now you know about my headline. A 2018 Democratic victory in Arizona, at least for Governor, depends on “unlikely” voters.

The White House Council of Trumponomic Advisors forecasts a chocolate river

Judd Legum in his popular.info email exposes how Trump and his economic advisors dish out BS about the economy. Legum starts with this economic fantasy.

Willy Wonka has nothing on the Trump White House.

The first White House press briefing in three weeks featured Kevin Hassett, the chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. Hassett painted a fantastical picture of an idyllic American economy. The only thing that was missing was a chocolate river.

In Hassett’s reality, wages are booming, business investment is spiking, and a trillion dollars in corporate tax cuts is paying for itself. And we have one person to thank: Donald Trump.

None of this, however, is true. Hassett’s apocryphal economy has little in common with the real thing.

I’m going to invert the order and tell you in Legum’s account why no one should believe a damn thing that Hassett has to say.

Perhaps Hassett is not the best judge of economic trends.

In 1999 he wrote a book called “Dow 36,000.” Hassett and his coauthor predicted that the Dow Jones Industrial Average would top 36,000 by 2002 or 2004. The book offered investment advice on how to profit from this coming surge.

In 2002, the Dow stood at about 8,000. Nearly 16 years later, the Dow is at about 26,000, still 10,000 short of Hassett’s prediction.

I won’t bother you with the Hassett’s fantastical claims and instead just quote the facts about our current economy.

Wages: “Economic data show real wages are declining. In the 12-month period that ended in July, nominal wages grew by 2.7%. But this was outstripped by inflation of 2.9%. So real wages declined. Trump didn’t create the problem of stagnant wages. Workers have seen their wages flat-line for 40 years. But he has not, as Hassett and Trump claim, solved the problem.”

Corporate tax break: “has not paid for itself. So far this fiscal year, corporate tax revenues are down 40%. As a share of the economy, corporate tax revenues have hit a 75-year low.”

Business investment: has not “boomed as a result of the Trump tax cuts. … if you look at the trend in business investment since the end of the recession, you can see a steady increase since the great recession ended in 2010.” So Trump does not get credit for increasing business investment. He might, however, wish to take credit for stock buy-backs and more corporate dividends for the already rich.

Job growth: “has slowed since Trump became president. As Robert Reich notes, in the last 19 months of the Obama administration, the economy created 3.96 million new jobs. In the first 19 months of the Trump administration, the economy created 3.58 million new jobs.”

Tax cuts: “The Trump administration is eager to make the case that the tax cuts have delivered. Why? Because they want more.” Despite the failure of Trumponomics expressed in the administration’s bogus claims, here is their response.

The administration and Republican leaders in Congress are currently working on a new wave of tax cuts that will be unveiled sometime this month.

The centerpiece of the proposal is to make the individual tax cuts enacted in December 2017 permanent. That legislation created massive permanent tax cuts for corporations but its individual tax cuts, which are heavily tilted toward the wealthy, expire around 2025.

The cost of the extension would be about $600 billion.

The effort is expected to struggle to get the necessary votes in the House and has no chance of passing the Senate.

One reason: Support for the original tax legislation is languishing below 40%.

Trumponomics is the occult art of lying about what does not work and then doing it again.

As the saying goes, insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” And, we should add, when those results don’t materialize, start the chocolate river flowing and let them eat cake.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Kavanaugh provided the legal basis for his vote against Roe v. Wade

Will Kavanaugh overturn Roe v. Wade? Judd Legum in this morning’s popular.info email provides an answer. Chances are you will not like it. Stick with me on this - we start with the legal status.

Some of the rights in the Constitution are “enumerated.” That means they are written right in the text. The First Amendment, for example, enumerates “freedom of speech” as a right.

Over time, however, the Supreme Court has recognized some “unenumerated” rights. These are rights that aren’t explicitly mentioned in the text of the Constitution, but the court has ruled are there by implication. Unenumerated rights recognized by the Supreme Court include the right to travel, the right to privacy, and the right to contraception.

The right to an abortion, established by Roe v. Wade, is another unenumerated right based on the right to privacy.

The key question is: When should the court recognize an unenumerated right? In answering the question, Kavanaugh blew his cover.

Glucksberg was a Supreme Court case decided in 1997 where the court found that there was no unenumerated right to physician-assisted suicide because such a right was not “rooted in history and tradition.”

Kavanaugh was very clear that this is the test he would apply to all unenumerated rights, which include the right to abortion.

“[A]ll roads lead to the Glucksberg test,” Kavanaugh added.

To understand the significance of what Kavanaugh said to Cruz last week about Glucksberg, look to Kavanaugh’s 2017 speech at the American Enterprise Institute. In the speech, Kavanaugh said unequivocally that abortion would not qualify as a Constitutional right under the Glucksberg test.

Of course, even a first-year law student could tell you that the Glucksberg approach to unenumerated rights was not consistent with the approach of the abortion cases such as Roe v. Wade in 1973 — as well as the 1992 decision reaffirming Roe, known as Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

In 2018, Kavanaugh said he would apply the Glucksberg test to Roe and other more recent cases affirming the Constitutional right to abortion. In 2017, Kavanaugh said Roe would fail the Glucksberg test.

He does not view it to be a close call. Kavanaugh says that “even a first-year law student” would understand that the Glucksberg test would invalidate Roe.

Putting it all together

  1. Abortion is an “unenumerated” constitutional right.

  2. Kavanaugh testified that all “unenumerated” rights should be subjected to the Glucksberg test.

  3. Just last year, Kavanaugh said that Roe and other recent cases establishing a right to abortion would fail the Glucksberg test.

On Twitter, Columbia law professor Jamal Greene agreed that, by embracing Glucksberg and pretending it was the court’s standard moving forward, Kavanaugh was signaling he would overturn Roe.

What Kavanaugh is describing is a radical new vision that threatens not only abortion rights but also other unenumerated rights that are not based on history and tradition.

So what can we do to derail this attack on Roe and other unenumerated rights? Legum counsels working the votes by those senators that are nominally undecided - Colllins and Murkowski come to mind.

Counting to 50

For Kavanaugh to be confirmed, he needs 50 votes. (Vice President Mike Pence would break the tie.)

The Republicans control 51 seats in the Senate. No Democrats have announced their support for Kavanaugh. If Collins and Murkowski oppose the nomination and Democrats hold firm, there will not be enough votes to confirm him to the Supreme Court.

The media has largely accepted the narrative that Kavanaugh has it in the bag. While Kavanaugh’s confirmation is the most likely outcome, this narrative was constructed by Republicans to demoralize the opposition to his nomination.

The hearings have concluded, but both Collins and Murkowski remain officially undecided.

They say they will not vote for a nominee that is hostile to Roe. Kavanaugh’s comments on Glucksberg make it crystal clear where he stands on the issue. While cynicism is comforting, there is still time to try to convince Collins and Murkowski to stand by their words.

As Jared Kuschner said in another context, get “on it”!

Kavanaugh and other Gnus Trumpling the Constitution

Welcome to this Mournday Mourning’s Illustrated Gnus from AZBlueMeanie at Blog for Arizona..

Two votes needed
The two votes feminists need -
but probably won't get.
  • Kavanaugh
  • Kavanaugh
  • Kavanaugh
  • Kavanaugh
  • Kavanaugh
  • Kavanaugh clams up in hearings, dodging “hypothetical” questions.
  • Who is the worst villain:
    A. McConnell
    B. Grassley
    C. The other 48 senators who detest Trump but will vote for Kavanaugh anyway
    D. All of the above.
    Resistance Republican Style
    Resistance Republican Style
  • Trump orders 2 million lie detector tests
  • Pundits and politicians bet on Trump’s longevity in office. VP bids 5 pence.
  • What Trump will testify to: “Truth isn’t truth”
  • Gnus from Texas: Trump cruises with Cruz.

From the Trumpictionary: treason
[tree-zuh n]
noun
a violation of allegiance to Donald Trump
whatever angers Donald Trump

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Kavanaugh's history of evasion and likely perjury will not stop most, if not all, Republican senators from voting for confirmation. The question is why.

Here are a few sources that shed light on the answer, starting with Lisa Graves who says I Wrote Some of the Stolen Memos That Brett Kavanaugh Lied to the Senate About, and adds “He should be impeached, not elevated.” (h/t Lise Hicks)

Much of Washington has spent the week focusing on whether Judge Brett Kavanaugh should be confirmed to the Supreme Court. After the revelations of his confirmation hearings, the better question is whether he should be impeached from the federal judiciary.

I do not raise that question lightly, but I am certain it must be raised.

Newly released emails show that while he was working to move through President George W. Bush’s judicial nominees in the early 2000s, Kavanaugh received confidential memos, letters, and talking points of Democratic staffers stolen by GOP Senate aide Manuel Miranda. That includes research and talking points Miranda stole from the Senate server after I had written them for the Senate Judiciary Committee as the chief counsel for nominations for the minority.

Receiving those memos and letters alone is not an impeachable offense.

No, Kavanaugh should be removed because he was repeatedly asked under oath as part of his 2004 and 2006 confirmation hearings for his position on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit about whether he had received such information from Miranda, and each time he falsely denied it.

If you want the details of Kavanaugh’s dishonesty check out Graves’ op-ed. Also, check out this reporting from the Daily Beast, Newly Released Emails Show Brett Kavanaugh May Have Perjured Himself at Least Four Times, which concludes that “Formerly confidential emails have been released that show the Supreme Court nominee contradicting statements he made under oath to the Senate.”

… none of this may matter. Republican senators have held their noses and put up with Trump for 20 months just to get to this moment—they’re not going to blow it now just because of a little perjury, racism, using stolen documents, and suborning of torture.

Then again, if the Democrats are smart, they’ll keep drip-drip-dripping a few emails a day for the next several weeks. After all, there’s no real justification for these “committee confidential” emails to be withheld, and no real explanation for the conflicts of interest among those selecting which emails to release. At a certain point, the narrative may shift; a centrist consensus may develop that Kavanaugh is just too much of a political operative who has said too many problematic things. It’s not likely, but it is possible.

Undoubtedly, there’s still much more that we don’t know. At the very least, Leahy said there are emails proving Kavanaugh met with Manuel, the leaker, in a bar to exchange documents—we haven’t seen those yet. But more likely, if these couple of dozen emails are reflective of the hundreds of thousands of pages still under wraps, we literally ain’t seen nothing yet.

You would think that that level of mendacity would doom a nominee for SCOTUS. However, we should not be surprised that Kavanaugh has advanced to the point that the general expectation is that he will sail through the post-hearing storm and be confirmed. One reason, is that lies are now embraced, accepted, or at least shrugged off by our Senators. Another is that Trump has set a new norm for accepting lies. But the most credible, coherent explanation of why Kavanaugh will be confirmed is provided by NY Times columnist Michelle Goldberg who exposes The Corrupt Bargain of the Adults in the Room, charging that They’re not restraining Trump. They’re making him more powerful. (h/t Sherry Moreau)

Questions about Kavanaugh’s possible likely perjury aside, his evasions should be enough to disqualify him. Here are snippets from Goldberg’s op-ed.

… Whatever emerges, Kavanaugh, under questioning from Democrats, offered no comfort to those who fear he’s being put in place to protect the president. Senator Richard Blumenthal asked if Kavanaugh would commit to recuse himself from cases involving Trump’s “personal criminal or civil liability,” but Kavanaugh would not do so. The nominee danced around a question from Senator Dianne Feinstein about whether a sitting president can be required to respond to a subpoena. He didn’t answer a question from Senator Patrick Leahy about whether a president can pardon himself.

There are plenty of reasons Kavanaugh shouldn’t be confirmed. Leahy made a credible case that the judge once lied under oath about his knowledge of a scandal involving documents stolen from Senate Democrats, which happened when Kavanaugh was in the Bush administration. If Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, were actually committed to preserving Roe v. Wade, she would raise the alarm about a leaked email in which Kavanaugh questioned the idea that the 1973 abortion decision is “settled law.” But realistically, barring a last-minute outbreak of conscience from two Senate Republicans, Kavanaugh will soon sit on the Supreme Court.

… There’s every reason to believe that Kavanaugh will shield the president from accountability or restraints on his power. Yet even Republicans who think Trump is a menace are desperate to confirm his judicial pick.

What we have here, in miniature, is the corrupt bargain Washington Republicans have made with a president many of them privately despise. They know Trump is unfit, but he gives them tax cuts and right-wing judges. Those tax cuts and right-wing judges, in turn, strengthen the president’s hand, buying him gratitude from rich donors and potential legal cover. …

Goldberg goes on to take a whack at the anonymous NY Times op-ed.

"We want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous,” the official wrote, adding, “There are bright spots that the near-ceaseless negative coverage of the administration fails to capture: effective deregulation, historic tax reform, a more robust military and more.”

This is the quintessence of the Trump-enabling Republican. He or she purports to be standing between us and the calamities that our ignorant and unstable president could unleash, while complaining, in the very same op-ed, that the media doesn’t give the White House enough credit. This person wants the administration to thrive because it has advanced Republican policy objectives, even as he or she argues that the administration is so dangerous that it must be contained by unprecedented internal sabotage.

The choice is clear for Republican senators, Goldberg notes.

A vote for Kavanaugh is thus a vote to give Trump a measure of impunity. Republican senators who know the president is out of control have a choice — they can maintain a check on his ill-considered autocratic inclinations, or solidify right-wing power on the Supreme Court for a generation. It’s obvious which way they’ll go. Maybe they’ll tell themselves having adults in the room at the White House makes it O.K.

I’m adding some bio briefs so you can see exactly the kinds of people Trump demeans and slanders.

Lisa Graves is the co-founder of Documented, which investigates corporate influence on democracy. She is the former chief counsel for nominations for the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and was deputy assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice.

Michelle Goldberg has been an Opinion columnist since 2017. She is the author of several books about politics, religion and women’s rights, and was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize for public service in 2018 for reporting on workplace sexual harassment issues.

Friday, September 7, 2018

House farm bill sets up millions to lose SNAP benefits

Here’s a real gem from 538’s significant digits email.

2 million low-income Americans
Nearly 2 million low-income Americans would lose their benefits under a farm bill being considered by the House, according to the nonprofit research firm Mathematica. That bill would alter the eligibility criteria for 42 million recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. That 2 million figure includes nearly 500,000 households with young children. [The New York Times]

Let’s explore that Times report, About 2 Million Low-Income Americans Would Lose Benefits Under House Farm Bill, Study Says, by Glenn Thrush.

I know we are all busy this election season, so let me lead with the bottom line and follow with some snippets.

The Bottom Line

Trump ordered a set of tariffs which have hit the agricultural heartland especially hard. Now Trump and his GOPlins in congress are conspiring, publicly, to financially assist bribe the farmers. But part of this compensation package messes with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a program that helps millions of households avoid hunger. Paul Ryan’s House does not care. Do you?

Where this is coming from

President Trump favors imposing stricter requirements on adult recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as food stamps, and has disparagingly described beneficiaries as “welfare” recipients.

On Wednesday, he called for lawmakers to adopt the House version of the bill, which also includes billions in subsidies for agricultural states in the Midwest.

“The Trump Economy is booming with the help of House and Senate GOP,” he wrote on Twitter. “#FarmBill with SNAP work requirements will bolster farmers and get America back to work. Pass the Farm Bill with SNAP work requirements!”

The rest of the story (by the numbers)

Nearly two million low-income Americans, including 469,000 households with young children, would be stripped of benefits under the House version of the farm bill being considered this week by congressional negotiators, according to an analysis by a nonpartisan research firm.

The bill, a multiyear spending measure that narrowly passed the House in June, includes a proposal to reformulate income and expense criteria for the 42 million recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Under the bill, states could remove about 8 percent of those receiving aid from the rolls, according to the research firm, Mathematica, which used data from the Agriculture Department’s Food and Nutrition Service.

About 34 percent of seniors in the program, or 677,000 households, would lose benefits under the proposal, according to the study. More than one in 10 people with a disability, another 214,000 households, would also lose eligibility.

Those estimates do not account for another proposal in the measure, which would impose strict new work requirements on beneficiaries. An additional 1.2 million people could be stripped of aid under that plan, according to a separate analysis released in May by the Congressional Budget Office, the study’s authors said.

More follows the break.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

NY Times op-ed is amazing piece of writing - for someone in the Trump WH. Here are two pieces of humor to lighten your day.

With regard to the NY Times op-ed, New Yorker satirist Andy Borowitz reports that the Nation Stunned That There Is Someone in White House Capable of Writing an Editorial.

What If Trump Shot Someone on Fifth Avenue? (A ’toon series in the New Yorker by Ward Sutton, September 5, 2018) “I’m the guy he shot and I support him even more than I did before.” Check it out.

A dissenting opinion 'About that New York Times Op-Ed'

Judd Legum at popular.info has a dissenting opinion on the author of the NY Times op-ed that stirred up so much controversy yesterday. (I posted on it in A report from ‘the resistance inside the Trump administration’.) Legum writes:

An anonymous “senior administration official” wrote a column in the New York Times that has a lot of people talking. The author describes the president as amoral and claims that “many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.”

While it’s fun to try to figure out the author, I only mention it to say this: This column is not worth your time. (I’m not linking to it. You can Google.)

The author casts themselves and other senior administration officials as “heroes,” curbing Trump’s worst abuses. They are not heroes. They are collaborators and enablers.

Remember these passages from the op-ed and my post.

To be clear, ours is not the popular “resistance” of the left. We want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous.

Don’t get me wrong. There are bright spots that the near-ceaseless negative coverage of the administration fails to capture: effective deregulation, historic tax reform, a more robust military and more.

[I responded:] From this passage, you know the person writing this is a bonafide Republican type, one who extols deregulation that sickens us, tax “reform” that divides rich from poor, and the largest military budget in the history of mankind.

But these successes have come despite — not because of — the president’s leadership style, which is impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective.

There is the problem. The author of the op-ed has no problem with Trump blowing up the deficit in order to serve up tax breaks for the already uber-rich, for example. It’s all just a matter of “leadership style.”

No it is not! I side with Legum on this one.