Television is supposed to make you look fat; it made Kavanaugh and Graham look small

Okay everybody, raise your hand if you found that trying to fall asleep last night was similar to trying to fall asleep the night of the presidential election.

That night, some 23 months ago, we knew we were screwed for the next four years; last night the feeling was similar, but the term was different: somewhere in the vicinity of a quarter century or more.

For make no mistake: remnants from the same bolt of shabby cloth that produced the arrogant bully who occupies the White House have been hastily sewn together to make a Brett Kavanaugh, at least the one we saw yesterday—the one who asked the daughter of an admitted alcoholic father if she had a drinking problem, the one who pounded his pencil into the desk when his rage bubbled over, and the one who channeled Alex Jones in naming the Clintons as co-conspirators in Christine Blasey Ford’s accusations.

And there was more, but none of that kept me awake as much as the glaring contrast between the steady and courageous deposition of Professor Ford and the contrived and humiliating outburst of Lindsey Graham. The former validated her position as a competent and credible victim; the latter verified his as a terrified lapdog.

The contrast could not have been more graphic: a brave woman who seems to have been true to herself and her story for 36 years, followed some three hours later by a frightened man (who once called Trump a jackass and an idiot) discrediting himself and abasing what remains of his party. And Graham’s impassioned apology for Kavanaugh’s tribulations will become the benchmark for how civic leaders do not comport themselves in public, at least not sober. Or sane.

Less than three hours from now Kavanaugh himself, who displayed a temperament that would disqualify his sitting on the panel of the Miss Universe contest, let alone the Supreme Court, will be rubber-stamped and moved ahead. And even if he isn’t, his name can still be placed before the Senate by Mitch McConnell, a man whose perfidy we already know.

If by Sunday Kavanaugh has not been confirmed, then we may have another reason to be grateful for what Christine Blasey Ford accomplished yesterday, but if the worst does happen, Professor Ford will still be able to hold her head high for a longer period of time than Lindsey Graham or any of the other Republicans who, this morning, are still trying to brush the boot polish off their tongues.

The utter desperation of Brett Kavanaugh is evidence of the effort Republicans have invested in him.

If Brett Kavanaugh had bought network time to sell himself to the American people, I would not be as disappointed as I am today.

Sitting for a Monday evening interview on Fox News—the network which serves as Trump’s Chief-of Staff and legal advisor—Kavanaugh has now erased what was becoming a very blurry line between running for political office and standing for a seat on the Supreme Court.

There’s no more line: he’s running for office. As a Republican.

And his desperation—all the favors he owes to all the people who got him there and all the secrets he’s been able to hide—scares me as much as any policy tendencies he’s shown. He will not withdraw; he can’t. Too many millions of dollars and too many conservative think-tank hours have been utilized to get him this far. McConnell knows it. He owes people a confirmation. So does Graham. The pressure is on.

Kavanaugh has been either circumspect or cunning about his past—the word choice is up to you: that much was evidenced by a sea of almost laughably evasive responses to committee questions; but the Fox appearance, his robotic comments and passionless defense, were awful to witness. As Jeff Greenfield pointed out in Politico, this was Kavanaugh’s “Checkers speech,”

It didn’t work for Nixon; it shouldn’t work for Kavanaugh.

I haven’t even mentioned the charges of sexual misconduct, but though that has everybody charged up, it’s just a piece of a larger picture which the Republicans don’t want assembled but apparently will be anyway. And yes, I do fear the nomination of someone even further right than Kavanaugh, but we can fight only one battle at a time.

In normal times, in light of the events of the past week, Brett Kavanaugh would have been dismissed outright. Instead a professional woman with a sterling reputation is receiving death threats, and the woman whom the Republicans have hired to question her remains anonymous purportedly for the same reason—all to protect a tremendously unpopular nominee.

These aren’t normal times. We can’t make believe they are.

You can still order Brain Force Plus: you just can’t do it with PayPal

PayPal has cut ties with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. Facebook, Twitter have eliminated accounts and YouTube cancelled his channel. Other companies have given him a wide berth.

Jones claims abridgment of his First Amendment rights, you know, the ones that gave him the right to declare the Sandy Hook murders a hoax and continue the agony of the parents of the slain children? Yeah, those rights. But Congress isn’t abridging anything: private companies are taking the lead. Then again is Facebook really private if we can all use it? You know what? Let’s find out. Let’s have Mr. Jones bring his interpretation of the First Amendment through the court system, all the way to the Supreme Court if he’d like.

In the meantime, the next major step would be for all major credit cards to refuse access for any webpage associated with Jones. (Sorry birthers and hoaxers and believers in spirit cooking we don’t take MasterCard, Visa, Discover, or American Express. Not even Diner’s Club—it’s accepted at M/C locations.) Let’s make it so there’s only one way to pay—write a check for Brain Force Plus and send it through the mail. Or send cash. I’m okay with that.

Maybe the only positive result of this woeful presidency is Trump’s willingness to accept support from Jones—from anyone: David Duke, Richard Spencer, QAnon, etc. In doing so Trump has at first glance legitimized them, but he’s also brought them out of the shadows where everyone can witness their depravity, their degeneracy, and their hatred. We always knew they were there, but when they lived on the fringes (or in the National Enquirer), we could ignore them. Now they’ve been mainstreamed and we don’t like it. Though more than 60 million Americans voted for Trump, a much smaller number will countenance overt racism, misogyny, and in Jones’s case, sadism.

Alex Jones may not disappear—deplorables need heroes too and Jones fills the void—but these oblique economic attacks on him seem to be increasing: they may render him the first wingnut victim of the Trump presidency. Until then he’s relatively safe—further proof that Brain Force Plus probably doesn’t work.

Trump continues to feel badly about Kavanaugh; the rest of just think badly of Trump

Pointing out grammatical lapses to Donald Trump is as meaningless as pointing out poor table manners to a lemur.

Nevertheless, Trump’s continuing mantra: I feel badly for Judge Kavanaugh is grating on me for two reasons—one less serious than the other.

Less serious is his use of the word badly. It’s a good word, and badly needed at a time when so many people are behaving…well…badly. And actually, if someone has difficulty feeling things—like maybe discerning the difference between steel wool and cashmere—than that person would, in fact, feel very badly. (There’s a Trump joke in there somewhere: if you write it, I’m willing to take credit for it.)

But badly really has nothing to do with regret. If you’re sorry for some hardship a friend is experiencing, then you feel bad for that person, just as when you’re happy for someone, you feel good—which brings me back to Brett Kavanaugh. I believe Trump felt good last week when he saw the Grassley-fed Judiciary Committee eager to apply the rubber-stamp to Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Today the president feels not so good, or…bad.

In truth, badly in the informal context of everyday speech is not the worst mistake in the world—some would say it isn’t a mistake at all; but the real mistake is not letting this “badliness” that he feels extend to the victim. Kavanaugh may be absorbing some spots on his heretofore spotless reputation, but Christine Blasey Ford was the teenager who, thirty-six years ago, was pinned on the bed while Kavanaugh allegedly tried to separate her from her clothes. If Trump feels badly for anyone, it should be the victim, Professor Ford, not some beer-breathed high school kid who had somehow missed the definition of rape.

Of course that would imply that Trump also has regrets for the various women he has harassed, shamed, or assaulted in his life—all the way from the unknown “recipient” of his Access Hollywood boast, to Carmen Yulin Cruz, San Juan, Puerto Rico’s mayor, whom Trump excoriated again last week.

No one wants miracles—just an admission that the victim has been victimized. An attempt at empathy. Baby steps. There’s no indication of Trump’s willingness to stand on a scaffold in the middle of town and confess his own indiscretions anytime soon, no matter how badly we’d like him to. We should all feel bad about that.


(My apologies to Lemurs who are very nice, quite intelligent,
and capable of memorizing sequences and grasping basic math…and who deserve better than my snarky comparison.)

Lindsey Graham says lying to the FBI is no big deal. Bank robbers, kidnappers, identity thieves, your ship has come in!

I’m still shocked by Lindsey Graham’s assertion yesterday that the Manafort crime of lying to the FBI was no big deal. I realize that, for all of us, the threshold of “shock absorption” is pretty high these days, but every once in a while a person makes a statement that actually raises the question of whether or not he believes in the American system of government.

I avoided using patriotism because that word has become so meaningless that any conniving ignoramus can employ it at any time, to wit, Trump’s tweet from  last August pretty much sealed the deal:

Arpaioarrppaaiioo

If everyone’s favorite sadistic law-breaking lawman can be a patriot, then I think it’s time to re-examine the word’s connotation. It may no longer be a compliment. Or an insult. Or anything.

Which brings me back to Lindsey Graham. True he has occasionally spoken out against Trump, but even then, supported him him whenever Trump-backed legislation came before him. But hope does spring eternal, and since the Kool-Aid was there to be drunk, we all sipped at it: Lindsey Graham was at least sensible and aware, we said, and might even on some glorious day come down on the side of the law.

That delusion vanished yesterday.

We can no longer count on Lindsey Graham to be anything other than a stooge of the president, even when it comes to condoning law-breaking and lying. Graham’s party of zero-tolerance when it comes to reproductive rights, alternative lifestyles, and immigration, seemingly has little trouble informing its card-carrying members that lying to law-enforcement officials is pretty much okay.

I wonder if perjury is included, because if so, why is there such panic over the remotest possibility of Mueller questioning Trump? Just lie, Mr. President. Lie to the FBI. Lie to the Special Counsel. It’s all the same and all, well, not that important.

One of my FB followers commented that Graham must be in as deep with the Russians as Trump is; another thought Graham is afraid of being outed and failing to survive in the twisted dogma of South Carolina politics. If in fact Graham is gay, and worried about being ostracized, he’s in the wrong party. The Democrats would be much more accepting. But if he’s just another Russian agent, well then, do svidaniya to you and Comrade Trump.

Speaking on behalf of all Democrats—which I have no license to do—I don’t want him, gay or straight, Putin toady or flag waver. Whatever South Carolinians may feel about him, he certainly doesn’t belong in the Senate, not if his vision of the federal government and of federal law enforcement comprises nothing more than protecting all the president’s criminals from prosecution.

 

 

 

No free lunch? No problem if a union member pays your way.

There’s only one sure way to keep the middle class in its increasingly tiny place, and that is to make sure that their wages remain stagnant. Historically, one of the most effective ways of doing that has been to dilute or eliminate the power of unions.

Now this week we find a conservative national group filing a federal lawsuit for a pair of Connecticut state employees who want a refund of the union dues that were taken from their paychecks despite having never joined the bargaining unit. Their names are Kiernan Wholean and James Grillo, but their names are unimportant: they could be any shills suborned into taking the pay raises and working conditions negotiated for them, then wanting it for nothing.

It’s the zero-sum Trumpian world of 2018: one can gain only if another loses.

These two workers’ union dues amount to a pittance, but if they were to win their case and have their dues returned for the last three years, and if other purse-leeches insist on the same reward for their perfidy, the effects could be devastating: National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix is looking to collect more than $100 million nationwide.

The principal behind unions is the same as the principal behind armies or offensive lines in football: there is strength in numbers. The Arizona teachers proved that.

No one will deny that there have been instances of corrupt union leadership, just as there have been instances of corruption in the medical field, in politics, in manufacturing, in religion. But unions threaten to sew shut the deep pockets of the magnates and billionaires; thus people like Mark Mix and organizations like the NRTWF (to which a Koch brothers group funneled $1 million in 2012) are more than willing to eviscerate these “impediments” and maintain the current income inequality.

With the Supreme Court stumbling irrevocably to the right, there seems little to impede the increasing attacks on middle class Americans, especially when it is those very same middle class Americans who are leading the attack. Whatever blood money Kiernan Wholean and James Grillo may receive pales in comparison to the damage they will do to workers like themselves.

Straight, white, and Christian—what other qualifications does a Supreme Court nominee actually need?

While I watched Brett Kavanaugh speak yesterday, I was reminded of the William Butler Yeats poem, “The Second Coming.” I often am when I hear someone speak passionately and convincingly and yet be so blinded by his warped orthodoxy that I want to scream stop. Just, stop!

That poem, written in the dismal period that followed the “war to end all wars” is itself filled with quotable and oft-quoted passages:

–slouching toward Bethlehem

–the centre cannot hold

–mere anarchy is loosed upon the world

But the line I thought of is this:

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Enter Brett Kavanaugh, convinced that he will make a stellar justice and excited at the prospect of sitting on the Supreme Court.

He’s wrong, and not because his ideas run counter to mine, but because his preparation for this honor has come not from the equitable dispensing of justice over the years, but from the indoctrination by Republican ideologues who, even if he never pays dividends or never openly acts as their stooge, appear to have bought and paid for him.

I wonder what would happen if Brett Kavanaugh simply appeared one day as a nominee. Not a Republican. Not a Democrat. Just a nominee from thin air with 90% of his past history redacted. I would bet that party lines would dissolve amid the furor of Mr. Nobody from Nowhere having the temerity to think he could be one of the nine.

But that, of course, is not the way it is. Instead, the Republicans—who have already bartered their principles for the occasional affectionate presidential tweet and the chance to make America straight, white, and Christian again—will in lockstep vote him in. After all, he embodies those qualities—and he hugs his kids.

I wonder if all kids—like the ones with gay parents, or brown parents, or Muslim parents—will cherish the same hugs.

And I don’t care if the man feeds the hungry, not if every judicial decision he makes fattens the wallets of billionaires and increases the disparity between the haves and the have-nots.

Brett Kavanaugh will never ensure our Constitutional freedoms unless they involve guns or religion. As such there could hardly be a worse choice at this time or any time, but as Lindsey Graham cynically chided the Democrats yesterday: if you want to appoint judges, win elections.

Noted.

Brett Kavanaugh—full of passionate intensity and self-righteous charity—is an abysmal choice to ensure our Constitutional freedoms. The foreboding of Yeats’s words from that bleak time a century ago have lost none of their impact here in the dreary political and societal landscapes of 2018.