October 2018 News Reports

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Editor's Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative October 2018 news and views

Note: Excerpts are from the authors' words except for subheads and occasional "Editor's notes" such as this. These updates will be intermittent while the editor is on leave after Oct. 13)

Oct. 13

Turks Release U.S. Pastor

washington post logoWashington Post, Pastor Andrew Brunson released to U.S. diplomatic personnel after being detained by Turkish authorities for two years, Erin Cunningham, Oct. 13, 2018 (print edition). A Turkish court on Friday convicted American pastor Andrew Brunson of aiding terrorism but sentenced him to time served and ordered his immediate release.

The case of the evangelical preacher caught up in Turkey’s post-coup security sweep had garnered attention at the highest levels of the U.S. government and become a sore point in the two countries’ relations.

Within minutes of the verdict, President Trump tweeted, “working very hard on Pastor Brunson.” “PASTOR BRUNSON JUST RELEASED,” he tweeted later. “WILL BE HOME SOON!”

While Brunson, 50, was convicted on terrorism charges and sentenced to three years in prison, the judge reduced his sentence to two years time served for good behavior. The pastor has been held under house arrest since July, for health reasons, but that arrangement was also ended so he could leave the country.

“The verdict was the best of a bad situation,” Brunson’s defense attorney, Ismail Cem Halavurt, said outside the courthouse in western Turkey.

Oct. 12

Shocking Murder Evidence

jamal khashoggi entering Saudi consulate

Jamal Kashoggi, a dissident Saudi Arabian journalist living in Virginia and Turkey, is shown entering a Saudi consulate before his disappearance on Oct. 2 and suspected murder.

washington post logoWashington Post, Turks tell U.S. officials that audio and video prove Khashoggi was killed, Shane Harris, Souad Mekhennet, John Hudson and Anne Gearan, Oct. 12, 2018 (print edition). The audio recording provides some of the strongest evidence that a Saudi team killed Washington Post opinion writer Jamal Khashoggi, officials said. “You can hear how he was interrogated, tortured and then murdered,” one person said.

U.S. Politics, Markets

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Attacks the Fed as Stocks Fall and the Midterms Loom, Binyamin Appelbaum, Oct. 12, 2018 (print edition). President Trump responded to falling stock prices on Thursday by continuing to throw rocks at the Federal Reserve, which he has described as “crazy,” “loco,” “going wild” and “out of control” for slowly raising interest rates against the backdrop of a booming economy.

No other modern president has publicly attacked the Fed with such venom or frequency. Indeed, some scholars said the only close historical parallel was with President Andrew Jackson, who campaigned successfully in the 1830s to close the Fed’s predecessor, the Second Bank of the United States.

Mr. Trump’s pointed remarks reflect the high political stakes less than a month before midterm elections that have been cast by his political opponents as a referendum on his presidency. Mr. Trump has been riding the economy hard, bragging about job creation, tax cuts and reduced federal regulation, and claiming credit for the rise of the stock market. Now that the market has lost 5 percent of its value in the last week, Mr. Trump is insisting someone else is to blame.

#MeToo: Major Clerical Demotion

washington post logoWashington Post, Pope accepts Wuerl’s resignation amid criticism of handling of abuse claims, Michelle Boorstein, Oct. 12, 2018. Pope Francis on Friday accepted the resignation cardinal donald wuerl portrait fullof Washington’s archbishop, Cardinal Donald Wuerl (shown at right), a trusted papal ally who became a symbol among many Catholics for what they regard as the church’s defensive and weak response to clerical sex abuse.

But even as Wuerl becomes one of the highest-profile prelates to step down in a year of prominent abuse scandals, Pope Francis offered the cardinal a gentle landing, praising him in a letter and allowing him to stay on as “apostolic administrator” in the Washington archdiocese until a successor was found.

In his letter, Francis suggested he had accepted Wuerl’s resignation reluctantly, and said he saw in the cardinal’s request the “heart of a shepherd.” Francis did not criticize Wuerl’s handling of abuse cases, and wrote that Wuerl had “sufficient elements” to defend his actions.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Republicans who said Clinton and Obama disrespected the Oval Office never heard Kanye West’s f-bomb, Anne Gearan and Felicia Sonmez, Oct. 12, 2018. The rapper held forth with profanity, inanity and a profession of love for President Trump, who said West could be a future presidential candidate.

washington post logoWashington Post, New document contradicts Ross’s congressional testimony on census citizenship question, Tara Bahrampour, Oct. 12, 2018.  Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross talked with former White House adviser Stephen K. Bannon and Attorney General Jeff Session about adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, according to a Justice Department document.

U.S. Hurricane Damage

washington post logoWashington Post, Michael leaves a trail of ruin in Florida, Luz Lazo, Mark Berman, Emily Wax-Thibodeaux and Kevin Sullivan, Oct. 12, 2018 (print edition). Oceanfront communities in the Florida Panhandle were virtually obliterated and an Air Force base had “catastrophic” damage as the storm moved through.

Oct. 11

Murder Most Foul?

washington post logoWashington Post, Crown prince sought to lure Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia and detain him, U.S. intercepts show, Shane Harris, Oct. 11, 2018. The crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, below left, ordered an operation to lure Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia from his home in Virginia and then detain him, mohammad bin salman cropped fileaccording to U.S. intelligence intercepts of Saudi officials discussing the plan.

The intelligence, described by U.S. officials familiar with it, is another piece of evidence implicating the Saudi regime in Khashoggi’s disappearance last week after he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Turkish officials say that a Saudi security team lay in wait for the journalist and killed him.

jamal khashoggi western suitKhashoggi, right (a U.S. resident), was a prominent critic of the Saudi government and Mohammed in particular. Several of Khashoggi’s friends said that over the past four months, senior Saudi officials close to the crown prince had called Khashoggi to offer him protection, and even a high-level job working for the government, if he returned to his home country.

jared kushner head shotThe intelligence pointing to a plan to detain Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia has fueled speculation by officials and analysts in multiple countries that what transpired at the consulate was a backup plan to capture Khashoggi that may have gone wrong.

The intelligence poses a political problem for the Trump administration because it implicates Mohammed, who is particularly close to Jared Kushner, left, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative commentary: Murders of journalists and kidnappings: Welcome to Trump World, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 11, 2018 (subscription required; excerpted with permission). All of the films that depict a dystopian future of lawlessness, complete with tyrannical leaders, wanton murders, and ransom kidnappings, have come to fruition under Donald Trump's presidency.

Election Rigging In Georgia?

stacy abrams brian kemp file

Georgia gubernatorial candidates Stacey Abrams, the Democrat, and Brian Kemp

ny times logoNew York Times, Voter Suppression Complaints in Georgia, Where G.O.P. Candidate Controls Voting, Astead W. Herndon, Oct. 11, 2018. Tensions escalated in the already bitter race to be Georgia’s next governor on Thursday after reports that the state had placed tens of thousands of voters’ registrations on a “pending” list, sparking charges of voter suppression and election rigging.

The office of Brian Kemp, Georgia’s secretary of state and the Republican nominee for governor in November’s election, has stalled more than 53,000 voter applications, according to a recent report from The Associated Press. The list includes a disproportionately high number of black voters, the report said, which is stirring concern among nonpartisan voting rights advocates and supporters of Stacey Abrams, the Democratic candidate, who is vying to be the first black woman in the country to be elected governor.

U.S. Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Senate heads for exits as vulnerable Democrats get campaign time and McConnell gets his judges, Mike DeBonis, Oct. 11, 2018. Endangered Senate Democrats won their freedom to campaign for next month’s midterm elections Thursday and, in exchange, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell got something he highly values — votes on 15 of President Trump’s judicial nominees.

us senate logoThe deal struck by the two parties on Thursday allowed the Senate to wrap up its work until after the Nov. 6 midterm elections. The hiatus comes as a relief to a cadre of Democratic incumbents who face difficult races in states that voted for Trump in 2016. McConnell (R-Ky.) had threatened to keep senators in Washington, voting on Trump’s nominees, until Election Day.

But ultimately Democrats paid McConnell’s ransom to get their incumbents back home. Under the deal, the Senate confirmed all 15 judicial nominees Thursday evening. An additional package of executive-branch nominees is set to be confirmed by unanimous consent before the Senate closes its business Thursday, two aides familiar with the deal said.

ny times logoNew York Times, Republicans Abandon Vulnerable Lawmakers, Striving to Keep House, Alexander Burns, Oct. 11, 2018. Party leaders are building a firewall around a few dozen republican elephant logopurple districts, and cutting off lawmakers who appear unable to win.

In a tactical retreat, Republican groups have already withdrawn some or all funding from a few embattled incumbents, mainly in suburbs where President Trump is unpopular, including Representatives Kevin Yoder of Kansas, Mike Coffman of Colorado and Mike Bishop of Michigan. They have abandoned more than half a dozen seats where Republican lawmakers are not running for re-election, including most recently the Tucson, Ariz.-based seat of Representative Martha McSally, who left to run for Senate.

ny times logoNew York Times, Michigan Governor’s Race Tests Flint’s Jaded Residents, Astead W. Herndon, Oct. 11, 2018. Michigan is in the homestretch of choosing Gov. Rick Snyder’s replacement. But many residents are wary of politicians from both parties because no one seemed able to mitigate the city’s water crisis.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder said in April that Flint’s water was safe to drink. He ended the state distribution of bottled water and effectively declared that the city’s yearslong public health emergency was over.

But here in Flint, where Mr. Snyder’s name is synonymous with villainy for many residents, his declaration has been largely ignored, and the crisis of unclean drinking water in the Great Lake state nicknamed “Pure Michigan” is very much ongoing.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Contradiction: Assailing ‘Left-Wing Mob’ as Crowd Chants ‘Lock Her Up,’ Peter Baker, Oct. 11, 2018 (print edition). President Trump is trying to turn the tables on his opponents by accusing them of being what they say he is: “unhinged,” “wacko” and “dangerous.”

When President Trump mocked a Democratic senator at a midterm election rally the other night, the crowd responded with one of his supporters’ favorite chants from his own campaign two years ago. “Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!”

The arena boomed with shouting voices and they kept going. “Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!” Mr. Trump smiled and soaked it in. Then he assailed the Democrats for becoming “an angry left-wing mob.”

A master of divide-and-conquer campaigning who gives critics belittling nicknames, calls his foes “evil people” and has encouraged supporters to “knock the crap” out of protesters, Mr. Trump hopes to convince the public that his opponents are the ones who are “totally unhinged.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The latest example of a Trump adviser going bananas, Dana Milbank, Oct. 11, 2018 (print edition). Just in time for the election, the Trump administration is back to its monkey business.

The acting head of the Environmental Protection Agency is the latest administration figure found to have trafficked racist imagery. HuffPost reported this week on Andrew Wheeler’s “like” of a 2013 post showing President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama looking longingly at a banana held by a white hand.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Melania Trump sinks to a whole new low, Wendy Luxenburg, Oct. 11, 2018. Melania Trump just stated that she considers herself to be the most bullied person in the world. This explains a lot. It explains why her key platform (anti-bullying) has been such a bust, and why she has repeatedly failed to acknowledge that, when it comes bullies, her husband has no equal. The fact that she sees herself as a victim is, of course, ridiculous.

melania I dont care zara jacket 6 21 18We can only assume that in Melania’s extremely privileged world, being held accountable for her actions is a foreign concept. Women like Melania often have excuses made for them, and we have seen that for much of Donald Trump’s presidency. Many have been reluctant to see her as complicit in his actions. Rather we hear things like, “She’s trapped.” or “She didn’t ask for this.” She clearly knows this and is trying to work that angle to her advantage.

However, it is not bullying to hold someone responsible for their callous actions and ignorant comments. There is simply no excuse for one of the most visible women in the world to wear a jacket that says “I really don’t care do you?” when on her way to visit children ripped from their parents.

Most recently, in her photo shoot masquerading as some sort of humanitarian trip (to countries her husband referred to as “shit holes”), she threw sexual assault victims under the bus by insisting that they need evidence if they wish to be believed. Knowingly contributing to and validating rape culture is going to have repercussions. Melania Trump is not exempt from that simply because she sees herself as beyond reproach.

Democrat Claims Fraud In Florida Democratic Primary

debbie wasserman shultzOpEdNews, David vs. Goliath in South Florida, Round 2, Joan Brunwasser (JB), Oct. 11, 2018. My guest today is Tim Canova (TC), a progressive lawyer and law professor. Tim challenged the powerful Hillary supporter and DNC chair, Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (shown in a file photo), in the 2016 Democratic primary for Florida's 23rd congressional district.

JB: How effective were her attempts to marginalize you? Were you viewed as a fringe candidate? And if so, how did that affect the race?

TC: Every time I would appear at a local Democratic Party club or caucus or committee meeting, party leaders had already received calls from Wasserman Schultz's staff warning them not to let me speak -- even though such censorship is contrary to the party's own bylaws. The party helps shield its incumbents from debate, showers them with mainstream media attention and corporate money, and prevents challengers from even introducing themselves. It's been much the same with the leadership of unions and some other liberal and even purportedly progressive groups.

democratic donkey logoI don't know if I was ever considered a "fringe" candidate, as much as disloyal for not falling in line and supporting the incumbent, especially since she was also the chair of the Democratic National Committee. They kept painting me as the outsider, which only fueled our popularity.

In the days after my August 30, 2016 primary, a number of election integrity experts contacted me to report that they had found the certified results problematic. One team of data analysts said they found "statistical red flags" that brought the official results into question. One leading expert statistician concluded that the results of their "cumulative vote tally" were mathematically implausible. Since I'm not a statistician, I never knew how much weight to give to these concerns.

Our final field numbers and our experience on the ground suggested a much different outcome from the official results. So as I heard from more experts and non-experts alike questioning the official results, I decided to put in a public-records request, at my own expense. We wanted to verify the vote by inspecting the ballots, initially in about a dozen key precincts. If the ballots matched up with the official results, then we would put all those suspicions to rest.

In November 2016, we put in the first of three public records requests with the Broward County Supervisor of Elections to inspect the ballots. We were first told that Brenda Snipes, the Supervisor, had taken no digital scanned images, and we were stonewalled for more than half a year in our attempts to inspect the paper ballots. I finally filed a lawsuit in June 2017, and while the suit was pending, the Supervisor ordered the destruction of all the paper ballots cast, in violation of multiple federal and state criminal statutes.

In the destruction order, Snipes falsely certified that the ballots were not the subject of pending litigation. She also concealed the ballot destruction from the court for more than two months, showing bad faith and willfulness in her crimes. When she admitted to destroying the paper ballots, Snipes then claimed to have digital scanned images. She paid about $15,000 to have a software company come in and manipulate and arrange the digital scans for viewing. Our requests to inspect the software were rejected because the software is considered "proprietary," the private property and trade secrets of the private software vendor hired by Snipes.

JB: That's outrageous! Were you flabbergasted by Snipes's brazenness? And, more to the point, where did that leave you?

Media News

ny times logoNew York Times, Newsweek’s Former Owner Faces Fraud Charges, William K. Rashbaum and Patricia Cohen, Oct. 11, 2018 (print edition). Newsweek magazine, the onetime media powerhouse, was at the center of a multimillion-dollar fraud and money-laundering conspiracy, according to an indictment by Manhattan prosecutors that was unsealed Wednesday.

newsweek logoTwo publishing companies, IBT Media, which owned the magazine, and Christian Media, a faith-based online publisher in Washington, were charged with trying to defraud lenders by pretending to borrow money for sophisticated computing services.

Instead, most of the money was funneled back to accounts controlled by the two media companies and their principals — Etienne Uzac, a co-founder of IBT, and William Anderson, Christian Media’s former chief executive and publisher — and unnamed co-conspirators, the indictment said. It said some of the money had been used to cover the magazine’s operating expenses.

The men were charged with misrepresenting Newsweek’s financial health and creating a fictitious accounting firm, Karen Smith L.L.P., along with a series of fake financial statements to dupe lenders into putting up millions of dollars in 2015 and 2016.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office brought the charges after an extended investigation into the companies’ financial dealings that included a raid of IBT’s Manhattan offices in January. Top editors and reporters at Newsweek were fired after they, too, started delving into the company’s accounts and the owners’ connections to Olivet University, an evangelical Christian college in New York. Several other magazine employees soon resigned.

cyrus vance jrMr. Uzac defended himself on Wednesday on IBT’s website, accusing the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., left, of retaliating against his news organization for reporting last fall on a campaign contribution to Mr. Vance from the lawyer for Harvey Weinstein, the powerful film producer

The Manhattan district attorney’s office brought the charges after an extended investigation into the companies’ financial dealings that included a raid of IBT’s Manhattan offices in January. Top editors and reporters at Newsweek were fired after they, too, started delving into the company’s accounts and the owners’ connections to Olivet University, an evangelical Christian college in New York. Several other magazine employees soon resigned.

Mr. Uzac defended himself on Wednesday on IBT’s website, accusing the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., of retaliating against his news organization for reporting last fall on a campaign contribution to Mr. Vance from the lawyer for Harvey Weinstein, the powerful film producer.

More background: New York Observer, Moonies, Messiahs and Media: Who Really Owns Newsweek? Peter Sterne, Aug. 4, 2013. Is it controlled by a controversial Christian preacher?

U.S. Markets Fall

washington post logoWashington Post, Dow drops nearly 550 points, sending its two-day loss total to nearly 1,400 points, Taylor Telford, Anna Fifield and Gerry Shih, Oct. 11, 2018. Investors are rattled by rising interest rates that could trigger a slowdown in the global economy. Worries about U.S.-China ties weighed heavily, too.

U.S. Hurricane Disaster

washington post logoWashington Post, Michael moves into the Carolinas after lashing Florida, Georgia, Mark Berman, Antonia Noori Farzan, Eli Rosenberg and J. Freedom du Lac, Oct. 11, 2018.
Michael made landfall in the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday as a “potentially catastrophic” Category 4 hurricane — the strongest on record to hit the area — and charged north through Georgia and into the Carolinas, wreaking havoc and causing emergencies. In the storm’s wake lay crushed and flooded buildings, shattered lives and at least two deaths.

ny times logoNew York Times, A Fighter Jet Flipped. Hangars Shredded. At Tyndall Air Force Base, a ‘Complete Loss,’ Dave Philipps, Oct. 11, 2018. As Hurricane Michael tore across the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday, shredding buildings and homes in its path, the mostly empty Tyndall Air Force Base braced for a ferocious impact. The Air Force worked to minimize possible destruction. Tyndall is home to the largest group of F-22 stealth fighters — 55 of them, each costing a dizzying $339 million. The stealth fighters and about 17 trainer jets were flown to safety, to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. Planes from nearby Hurlburt Field and Eglin Air Force Base also fled inland in the days before the storm.

Kavanaugh Perjury?

washington post logoWashington Post, Roberts refers judicial misconduct complaints against Kavanaugh to federal appeals court in Colorado, Ann E. Marimow and Tom Hamburger, Oct. 11, 2018 (print edition). Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. on Wednesday referred more than a dozen judicial misconduct complaints filed recently against Brett M. Kavanaugh to a federal appeals court in Colorado. The 15 complaints, related to statements Kavanaugh made during his Senate confirmation hearings, were initially filed with the federal appeals court in Washington, where Kavanaugh served for the last 12 years before his confirmation Saturday to the Supreme Court.

The allegations center on whether Kavanaugh was dishonest and lacked judicial temperament during his Senate testimony, according to people familiar with the matter.

Last month, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit asked Roberts to refer the complaints to another appeals court for review after determining that they should not be handled by judges who served with Kavanaugh on the D.C. appellate court.

In a letter Wednesday to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, Roberts said he selected the court in Colorado to “accept the transfer and to exercise the powers of a judicial council with respect to the identified complaints and any pending or new complaints relating to the same subject matter.”

The Denver-based appeals court is led by Chief Judge Timothy M. Tymkovich, the former solicitor general of Colorado who was nominated to the bench by President George W. Bush. The 10th Circuit handled another recent judicial misconduct case from Washington involving the former chief judge of the District Court.

It is unclear what will come of the review by the 10th Circuit. The judiciary’s rules on misconduct do not apply to Supreme Court justices, and the 10th Circuit could decide to dismiss the complaints as moot now that Kavanaugh has joined the high court.

“There is nothing that a judicial council could do at this point,” said Arthur D. Hellman, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh and expert on the operation of federal courts.

He said it was unprecedented for a new justice to face such a situation. Hellman predicted that the 10th Circuit will likely close the case “because it is no longer within their jurisdiction,” now that Kavanaugh has been elevated to the Supreme Court.

Democrat Claims Fraud In Florida Democratic Primary

debbie wasserman shultzOpEdNews, David vs. Goliath in South Florida, Round 2, Joan Brunwasser (JB), Oct. 11, 2018. My guest today is Tim Canova (TC), a progressive lawyer and law professor. Tim challenged the powerful Hillary supporter and DNC chair, Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (shown in a file photo), in the 2016 Democratic primary for Florida's 23rd congressional district.

JB: How effective were her attempts to marginalize you? Were you viewed as a fringe candidate? And if so, how did that affect the race?

TC: Every time I would appear at a local Democratic Party club or caucus or committee meeting, party leaders had already received calls from Wasserman Schultz's staff warning them not to let me speak -- even though such censorship is contrary to the party's own bylaws. The party helps shield its incumbents from debate, showers them with mainstream media attention and corporate money, and prevents challengers from even introducing themselves. It's been much the same with the leadership of unions and some other liberal and even purportedly progressive groups.

democratic donkey logoI don't know if I was ever considered a "fringe" candidate, as much as disloyal for not falling in line and supporting the incumbent, especially since she was also the chair of the Democratic National Committee. They kept painting me as the outsider, which only fueled our popularity.

In the days after my August 30, 2016 primary, a number of election integrity experts contacted me to report that they had found the certified results problematic. One team of data analysts said they found "statistical red flags" that brought the official results into question. One leading expert statistician concluded that the results of their "cumulative vote tally" were mathematically implausible. Since I'm not a statistician, I never knew how much weight to give to these concerns.

Our final field numbers and our experience on the ground suggested a much different outcome from the official results. So as I heard from more experts and non-experts alike questioning the official results, I decided to put in a public-records request, at my own expense. We wanted to verify the vote by inspecting the ballots, initially in about a dozen key precincts. If the ballots matched up with the official results, then we would put all those suspicions to rest.

In November 2016, we put in the first of three public records requests with the Broward County Supervisor of Elections to inspect the ballots. We were first told that Brenda Snipes, the Supervisor, had taken no digital scanned images, and we were stonewalled for more than half a year in our attempts to inspect the paper ballots. I finally filed a lawsuit in June 2017, and while the suit was pending, the Supervisor ordered the destruction of all the paper ballots cast, in violation of multiple federal and state criminal statutes.

In the destruction order, Snipes falsely certified that the ballots were not the subject of pending litigation. She also concealed the ballot destruction from the court for more than two months, showing bad faith and willfulness in her crimes. When she admitted to destroying the paper ballots, Snipes then claimed to have digital scanned images. She paid about $15,000 to have a software company come in and manipulate and arrange the digital scans for viewing. Our requests to inspect the software were rejected because the software is considered "proprietary," the private property and trade secrets of the private software vendor hired by Snipes.

JB: That's outrageous! Were you flabbergasted by Snipes's brazenness? And, more to the point, where did that leave you?

Report: ISIS Steals Chemical Weapons

SouthFront, ISIS Seizes Toxic Agents Intended To Be Used For Provocations In Idlib, Staff report, Oct. 11, 2018. ISIS terrorists have been able to seize toxic chemicals due to the irresponsible actions of the representatives of the Western countries, Lieutenant General Vladimir Savchenko, chief of the Russian center for the reconciliation of the conflicting sides in Syria, said on October 10. According to Savchenko, on October 9, a group of ISIS-linked militants attacked the headquarters of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) in the village of al-Lataminah.

He added that four militants and two members of the White Helmets organization were killed in the attack and two cylinders containing chlorine were taken out of the headquarters. The seized cylinders were transported to southern Aleppo and handed over to members of another terrorist group – Hurras al-Din.

 Savchenko described Hurras al-Din, which is known for its links to al-Qaeda, as an ISIS-associated group. This may indicate that in Idlib pro-al-Qaeda and pro-ISIS organizations are now working together to sabotage the Idlib demilitarization deal.

Oct. 10

Justice Dept. Under Scrutiny christopher wray cropped Small

FBI Director Christopher Wray (File photo)

washington post logoWashington Post, FBI director expected to face questions about Kavanaugh probe during Senate hearing, Devlin Barrett and Karoun Demirjian, Oct. 10, 2018. Democrats have FBI logoaccused the White House of curtailing the bureau’s ability to thoroughly investigate allegations of sexual assault against the new Supreme Court justice.

The FBI questioned nine people as part of that inquiry, and Democrats have accused White House officials of severely curtailing the FBI’s ability to learn the truth.

washington post logoWashington Post, Rosenstein faces congressional scrutiny amid new claim he seriously suggested recording Trump, Matt Zapotosky, Devlin Barrett, Josh Dawsey and Ellen Nakashima, Oct. 10, 2018 (print edition). The FBI’s top lawyer told investigators that senior officials characterized Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein’s suggestion as a serious one — raising questions about Rosenstein’s assertions to the contrary.

Roll Call, Rosenstein Won’t Testify Before House Judiciary, Oversight Committees, Lindsey McPherson, Oct. 10, 2018. Reps. considering subpoena compelling deputy attorney general to testify.

U.S. Politics

Palmer Report, Opinion: Taylor Swift has done the impossible, Wendy Luxenburg, Oct. 10, 2018. Five years ago, if someone had told me that I’d be championing Taylor Swift, I’d have laughed in their face. My dislike of Taylor and my overall lack of respect for her was well known among all my friends. I definitely was not “Team Taylor.” I wasn’t a fan of her music nor her revolving door of boyfriends; she seemed rather shallow and self-involved. Then something happened: Taylor Swift grew up.

taylor swift stageIn a thoughtfully written post she waded into politics for the first time in her career. She explained that she would be casting her vote in her home state of Tennessee for the Democratic candidates due to their support of equality regardless of a person’s gender, race or sexual orientation.

However, unlike most public figures, she did not outright encourage her fans to vote for any specific candidate. Instead of exploiting her influence, she used it encourage her fans to register to vote and to “vote based on who most closely represents your values.”

In the two days following her post, more than 200,000 new voters registered through vote.org (the site referenced by Swift in her post), leading Vote.org’s Director of Communications Kamari Guthrie to credit her with the spike, “Thank god for Taylor Swift,” she said.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Anti-Voter Supreme Court, David Leonhardt, Oct. 10, 2018. The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to intervene in a challenge to a North Dakota voter ID rule that may prevent some Native American voters from casting a ballot in next month’s elections.

heidi heitkamp oAfter Heidi Heitkamp (left), a North Dakota Democrat, narrowly won a Senate seat in 2012, Republicans changed a voter-identification law in the state. They stopped allowing any voter identification that lists a post-office box as an address.

There was a specific reason for the change, as Pema Levy of Mother Jones reports. Many Native Americans use a P.O. box as their address because the U.S. Postal Service does not deliver to their communities. And Native Americans had provided Heitkamp with crucial support in her win. The law was another Republican attempt to win elections by keeping Democratic-leaning groups from voting.

republican elephant logoLast night, the Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to the North Dakota law, effectively upholding it. Amy Howe of Scotusblog has a fuller explanation. “The risk of disenfranchisement is large,” Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in a dissent.

This case is yet another reminder that democracy protection needs to be the No. 1 item on the Democrats’ long-term political agenda. (Really, it should the top item on both parties’ agenda, but I realize that’s a naïve wish.) The next time Democrats control the federal government, they should pass a sweeping voter-rights bill, similar to the kind Paul Glastris has described in Washington Monthly.

History won’t look kindly on the political party that is trying to keep Americans — usually dark-skinned Americans — from voting.

The Atlantic, The Trump Campaign Says Exploiting Hacked Emails Is Free Speech, Natasha Bertrand, Oct. 10, 2018. Lawyers for the campaign asserted in court papers a right to disclose “even stolen information.”

In a motion to dismiss a new lawsuit accusing President Donald Trump’s campaign team of illegally conspiring with Russian agents to disseminate stolen emails during the election, Trump campaign lawyers have tried out a new defense: free speech.

donald trump for president button nice smileThe lawsuit, filed last month by two donors and one former employee of the Democratic National Committee, alleges that the Trump campaign, along with former Trump adviser Roger Stone, worked with Russia and WikiLeaks to publish hacked DNC emails, thereby violating their privacy.

But the Trump campaign — represented by Jeffrey Baltruzak, Michael A. Carvin, Nikki L. McArthur, and Vivek Suri, all of the law firm Jones Day — responded in a brief filed Tuesday that the campaign can’t be held legally responsible for WikiLeaks’s publication of the DNC emails.

Furthermore, the Trump lawyers argued, the First Amendment protects the campaign’s “right to disclose information — even stolen information — so long as (1) the speaker did not participate in the theft and (2) the information deals with matters of public concern.”

The motion’s language seems to further an argument made by Trump and his allies as they await the findings of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into a potential conspiracy between the campaign and Russia in 2016: namely, that collusion, even if it involved the coordinated release and exploitation of a candidate’s emails during the presidential election, is not a crime.

oleg deripaskaPalmer Report: Opinion, Danger looms for Donald and Ivanka Trump, Daniel Cotter, Oct. 10, 2018. On Monday, the FBI reported that it had frozen the US assets of Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, right, including his New York mansion. Deripaska is suspected of having mob ties and is a close ally of both Vladimir Putin and Paul Manafort.

The inhabitant of the property, for unknown reasons, is none other than Dasha Zhukova, best friend of Ivanka. Zhukova was Ivanka’s guest at the inauguration and they are regular travel buddies. Zhukova is living in Deripaska’s home while her property her ex-husband gave to her is being rehabbed. Her ex-husband, Roman Abramovich, is a Russian oligarch.

What we know about the Donald Trump family is there is zero degrees of separation between any member of the Trump family and the Russians. At every turn, there is another connection and link to the Puppet master Putin and Russian oligarchs.

Senate Resumes Court Packing Plan

Roll Call, Republicans Restart Push for Lower Court Judges, Todd Ruger, Oct. 10, 2018. Democrats object to the process. With the fight over Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh behind them, Republicans on Wednesday restarted the Senate Judiciary Committee’s push to confirm lower court judges with a hearing on a pair of nominees that Democrats staunchly oppose for their legal work on health care, LGBT rights and other issues.

The hearing featured almost everything Democrats have complained about the confirmation process during President Donald Trump’s administration — including scheduling more than one circuit court nominee in a single hearing and doing so over the objections of a home state senator.

sherrod brown o 2009This time, nominees from Ohio to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit are opposed by home state Sen. Sherrod Brown, right, who spoke against them at the hearing for their previous legal work and criticized the White House for ignoring the state’s bipartisan judicial selection commission.

“I have significant concerns about the ability of Chad Readler and Eric Murphy to be fair-minded and impartial judges, and I cannot support nominees who have actively worked to strip Ohioans of their rights,” Brown said. “And that’s exactly what Mr. Murphy and Mr. Readler have done, on everything from health care to voting rights, from marriage equality to public education.”

Readler’s work as a senior Justice Department official in the past two years touched many of the Trump administration’s most contentious legal battles. Brown said that “perhaps worst of all” was Readler’s role when he filed a brief in a Texas lawsuit that challenges the 2010 health care law’s protections for pre-existing conditions.

U.S. Natural Disasters

washington post logoWashington Post, Hurricane Michael, now a Category 4, takes aim at Florida Panhandle, Jason Samenow​, Oct. 10, 2018. Florida’s northern Gulf Coast is bracing for its most dangerous hurricane threat in more than a decade as Michael gained strength overnight. The storm, with its winds of 140 mph, is expected to make landfall this afternoon.

U.S. Military Spending

Defense News, America sold $55.6 billion in weapons abroad in FY18 — a 33 percent jump, Aaron Mehta, Oct. 10, 2018. The U.S. inked $55.6 billion in foreign military sales during fiscal year 2018, easily smashing past the previous year’s total — and the Pentagon’s point man for security cooperation expects more in the future.

“This is a 33 percent increase over last year and I’m very optimistic that this positive trajectory will continue,” said Lt. Gen. Charles Hooper, the head of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, during a speech at the AUSA conference. “Our partners know a good thing when they see one.”

Media, Spies, Propaganda

wsj logoWall Street Journal, A Trio of Wealthy Russians Made an Enemy of Putin. Now They’re All Dead, Alan Cullison, Oct. 10, 2018. Nikolai Glushkov, a close associate of the late oligarch Boris Berezovsky, was preparing to testify that Aeroflot was a corrupt instrument of Russian intelligence. Glushkov, a Russian émigré, lived alone in a weather-beaten row house in South London with an aging dog and a cat named Braveheart. It was the waning days of March, and he was readying himself for something big.

The onetime finance director of Russia’s flagship airline, he was preparing for a trial in a London court. He told friends it would prove his innocence of longstanding financial charges by Russian authorities and expose Aeroflot Russian Airlines as a front for Russian security services.

ny times logoNew York Times, David Wise, Journalist Who Exposed C.I.A. Activity, Dies at 88, Katharine Q. Seelye, Oct. 9, 2018. In his nonfiction books, he lifted the veil from espionage’s excesses and misdeeds. David Wise, one of the first journalists to expose the clandestine operations of the Central Intelligence Agency and a standard-setter for investigative reporting into government espionage, died on Monday in Washington. He was 88.

cia logoMr. Wise was the author, with Thomas B. Ross, of “The Invisible Government,” an explosive 1964 exposé of the C.I.A. and its covert operations. To keep its contents from the public, the C.I.A. considered buying up all copies of the book but backed off when the publisher, Random House, made clear that it would simply print more. The C.I.A. obtained an advance version of the book and fought ferociously to censor it. After dropping the idea of buying up all the copies, Mr. Lord said, the agency appointed a task force that recommended that the C.I.A. use “such assets as the Agency may have” to plant bad reviews.

The efforts came to naught. The book became the No. 1 best seller on the Time magazine list and No. 2 on The New York Times list, behind Ernest Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast.” It remained on the Times best-seller list for 22 weeks and was published in eight foreign editions.

Mr. Wise joined the Herald Tribune’s staff in 1951 and later moved to Washington, where he covered politics and the Kennedy White House. He was named Washington bureau chief in 1963 and served in that role until the paper closed in 1966. At that point he devoted himself full time to writing books. Over the next half century, he wrote a trove of nonfiction works that include the stories of America’s most notorious spies — Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen among them. In the telling he revealed details of the government’s bungling and deceptions.

Murder In the Consulate?

jamal khashoggi entering Saudi consulate

Jamal Kashoggi, a dissident Saudi Arabian journalist living in Turkey, is shown entering a Saudi consulate before his disappearance on Oct. 2 and suspected murder.

washington post logoWashington Post, Saudis are said to have lain in wait for Jamal Khashoggi, Loveday Morris, Souad Mekhennet and Kareem Fahim, Oct. 10, 2018 (print edition). A squad of men arrived in Turkey early on Oct. 2 and were in place at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul hours before the journalist went missing, according to two people with knowledge of the probe. By the end of the day, the men had left the country.

Roll Call, Senators Trigger Investigation Into Missing Saudi Journalist Who May Have Been Murdered, Rachel Oswald, Oct 10, 2018. Senators on Wednesday triggered a U.S. government investigation into what happened to a prominent missing Saudi journalist, who is suspected to have been murdered last week in Turkey.

The lawmakers said they expect the investigation to look into the actions of the “highest-ranking officials in the government of Saudi Arabia,” a move that signals lawmakers on both sides of aisle are willing to confront the staunch ally.

The Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Appropriations subcommittee with responsibility for the State Department sent a letter to President Donald Trump that triggered a provision of 2016 Magnitsky human rights law.

That provision requires the president to reach a determination within four months on whether an extrajudicial killing has occurred against any individual who promotes human rights, including through freedom of expression, such as the missing Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, jamal khashoggi western suitshown at right in a file photo. If an assassination is found to have occurred, the law requires the president to decide whether to impose sanctions on any individuals complicit in the death.

In their letter, Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., Robert Menendez, D-N.J., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., write that the disappearance of Khashoggi, who has not been seen since last week when he sought a legal document from the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, “suggests that he could be a victim of a gross violation of internationally recognized human rights.”

“Therefore, we request that you make a determination on the imposition of sanctions pursuant to the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act with respect to any foreign person responsible for such a violation related to Mr. Khashoggi,” the senators wrote.

The letter is co-signed by nine Republicans and nine Democrats, including nearly everyone on the Foreign Relations Committee with the exception of Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. Paul on Wednesday in a tweet called for ending arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

U.S. Health Care

washington post logoWashington Post, CVS merger with Aetna approved, a deal that could transform the health-care industry, Brian Fung, Oct. 10, 2018. The $69 billion merger could change how millions of Americans receive basic medical services, and allow CVS to turn more of its locations into front-line clinics for patients.

Global Trade Strategies

china shipping line file photo

Chinese container transport vessel (file photo)

SouthFront, China Expands Economic Efforts In Lebanon, Syria: Challenging US Foreign Policy In Region, Staff report, Oct. 10, 2018. On Oct. 9, a new shipping line opened between China and Lebanon’s Tripoli, doubling the volume of products coming from China to the country.

The US and Israel are opposing the establishment of the “Shia Crescent,” with both countries constantly showing aggression towards mostly Lebanon and Iran, but also towards Syria. Simultaneously, however, China is seeking to boost its economic influence in the countries. Thus, the Middle East may soon become another hot point in the US-China conflict. Tensions between the states have been growing quickly since the beginning of the Trump-initiated Trade war.

U.S. Crime, Courts, Suicide

washington post logoWashington Post, An ex-aide charged with stealing $1.2 million of wine from Goldman Sachs CEO leaps 33 floors to his death, Antonia Noori Farzan, Oct. 10, 2018. Nicolas De-Meyer was supposed to appear in federal court in Lower Manhattan on Tuesday afternoon.

After spending 14 months flying all over the world, from Rome to Rio de Janeiro, he had landed at Los Angeles International Airport in January and was arrested as soon as he made it off the plane. The 41-year-old had previously spent eight years working as a personal assistant to then-Goldman Sachs president David M. Solomon, now the company’s CEO. During that time, federal prosecutors alleged, he had stolen more than 500 bottles of rare vintage wine, valued at more than $1.2 million, from the executive’s wine cellar in the Hamptons.

Court Sanctions?

Palmer Report, Opinion: Chief Justice John Roberts just sold out Brett Kavanaugh, Bill Palmer, Oct. 10, 2018. Earlier this week we learned that a fellow judge on Brett Kavanaugh’s bench received a number of misconduct claims against Kavanaugh during his confirmation process, and referred those complaints to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who hadn’t taken any action on the matter. But now things have changed in a big way.

At the time the complaints first became public knowledge, various legal observers explained that because the review process is a lengthy one, there was nothing that John Roberts could have done with the complaints that would have had any impact on Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings. But, as it turns out, Roberts didn’t simply decide to sit on his hands. He’s posted a public letter referring the complaints about Kavanaugh to the U.S. Court of Appeals. Although the letter doesn’t mention Kavanaugh by name, multiple major news outlets are confirming that Roberts is referring to Kavanaugh in the letter. So what now?

It’s important to keep in mind that John Roberts could have made these complaints go away simply by not referring them, and the odds are that most people would have ended up forgetting about the brief story about the complaints. Instead, by making an official referral, Roberts is opening a de facto misconduct investigation into Brett Kavanaugh, and he’s putting it in the hands of someone who is far removed from the political process that elevated Kavanaugh to begin with. So this is in fact something – even if we don’t yet know quite what it’ll lead to.

Oct. 9

Climate Change

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Coal Is Killing the Planet. Trump Loves It, Editorial Board, Oct. 9, 2018 (print edition). Scientists issued a new alarm on the devastating impacts of continued burning of fossil fuels. But the Trump E.P.A. keeps propping up coal.

ny times logoNew York Times, Dire Climate Warning Lands With a Thud on Trump’s Desk, Mark Landler and Coral Davenport, Oct. 9, 2018 (print edition). A day after the United Nations issued its most urgent call to arms yet for the world to confront the threat of climate change, President Trump boarded Air Force One for Florida — a state that lies directly in the path of this coming calamity — and said nothing about it.

UN logoIt was the latest, most vivid example of Mr. Trump’s dissent from an effort that has galvanized much of the world. While the United Nations warned of mass wildfires, food shortages and dying coral reefs as soon as 2040, Mr. Trump discussed his successful Supreme Court battle rather than how rising seawaters are already flooding Miami on sunny days.

The president’s isolation is not just from the world: In California, New York, Massachusetts and other states, governments and companies are pushing ahead with regulations and technological innovations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

GOP Election Scandals

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Campaign Aide Requested Online Manipulation Plans From Israeli Intelligence Firm, Mark Mazzetti, Ronen Bergman, David D. Kirkpatrick and Maggie Haberman, Oct. 9, 2018 (print edition). A top Trump campaign official requested proposals in 2016 from an Israeli company to create fake online identities, to use social media manipulation and to gather intelligence to help defeat Republican primary race opponents and Hillary Clinton, according to interviews and copies of the proposals.

donald trump mike pence new logoThe Trump campaign’s interest in the work began as Russians were escalating their effort to aid Donald J. Trump. Though the Israeli company’s pitches were narrower than Moscow’s interference campaign and appear unconnected, the documents show that a senior Trump aide saw the promise of a disruption effort to swing voters in Mr. Trump’s favor.

rick gates cropped aug 2018The campaign official, Rick Gates, left, sought one proposal to use bogus personas to target and sway 5,000 delegates to the 2016 Republican National Convention by attacking Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, Mr. Trump’s main opponent at the time. Gates was Trump-Pence deputy campaign manager under Paul Manafort and like Manafort has pleaded guilty to financial crimes in the probe led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller..

Another proposal describes opposition research and “complementary intelligence activities” about Mrs. Clinton and people close to her, according to copies of the proposals obtained by The New York Times and interviews with four people involved in creating the documents.

U.S. Political Violence

KMTV 3 News (Council Bluffs, Iowa), Emotions boil over after demonstrators stand outside MAC, Staff report, Oct. 9, 2018. For at least three hours, demonstrators holding signs directed at President Donald Trump stood along 23rd Avenue across from the Mid-America Center, where he was speaking at a rally for local Republicans.

Just as the night was ending, emotions boiled over after an elderly protester was allegedly threatened and a daughter feared for her mother's safety. "He grabbed my sign then he grabbed my walker," Evelyn Russel said. "He had it held up over his head like he was going to hit me with it."

Supreme Court Battle

washington post logomitch mcconnell2Washington Post, McConnell signals he would push to fill a Supreme Court vacancy in 2020, Elise Viebeck, Oct. 9, 2018 (print edition). Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — who blocked President Barack Obama’s 2016 nominee to the Supreme Court for nearly a year amid widespread Democratic objections — signaled Monday that he would help fill a high-court vacancy if one emerges when President Trump is up for re­election in 2020.

Speaking at a news conference in Louisville, McConnell, right, said his decision to block Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, was based on a tradition that opposition parties in control of the Senate do not confirm Supreme Court nominees during presidential election years.

He claimed the precedent only applies when different parties control the Senate and the White House — leaving open the possibility he would help advance a Trump nominee in 2020 if Republicans still hold a majority in the Senate.

Roll Call, Grassley: Judiciary Panel Won’t Consider Supreme Court Nominee for 2020 Vacancy, John T. Bennett, Oct 9, 2018. Declaration could put Iowa Republican at odds with Mitch McConnell.

ny times logoNew York Times, After a Bitter Fight, Justice Kavanaugh to Take the Bench, Adam Liptak, Oct. 9, 2018. Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh will hear his first Supreme Court arguments, all concerning enhanced sentences for gun crimes. None of the three cases raise major constitutional questions or involve pressing social issues.

ny times logoNew York Times, Only 114 people have served on the Supreme Court since it was established in 1789. Here’s how Justice Kavanaugh fits in, Karen Yourish, Sergio, Pecanha and Troy Griggs, Oct. 9, 2018 (print edition).  The first Catholic justice, Roger B. Taney, joined the court in 1836 and the first Jewish justice, Louis Brandeis, was seated in 1916. A majority of justices have been Protestant — until recently. The court had its first Catholic majority in 2006, and this will continue with the addition of Justice Kavanaugh.

U.S. Constitutional Protest Rights Under Attack

white house protest ted eytan flickr

White House Protest (File photo by Ted Eytan via Flickr)

American Civil Liberties Union, Trump Administration Seeks to Stifle Protests Near White House and on National Mall, Arthur Spitzer, Oct. 9, 2018. President Trump has a record of attacking the rights of protesters, from suggesting that protest be illegal to praising dictators who crush any kind of dissent.

Now, the Trump administration proposes to dramatically limit the right to demonstrate near the White House and on the National Mall, including in ways that would violate court orders that have stood for decades. The proposal would close 80 percent of the White House sidewalk, put new limits on spontaneous demonstrations, and open the door to charging fees for protesting.

Fee requirements could make mass protests like Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic 1963 March on Washington and its “I have a dream” speech too expensive to happen.The public has until October 15 to comment on the plans, and on Monday, we submitted our formal written comment explaining why the planned changes are unconstitutional.

In 1967, in the middle of the Vietnam War, the federal government tried to impose severe limits on protests near the White House. The ACLU of the District of Columbia sued, and after years of litigation, the courts rebuffed the government’s effort and reminded the National Park Service, which administers these areas, that Lafayette Park is not Yellowstone and that the White House area and the National Mall “constitute a unique [site] for the exercise of First Amendment rights.” Under court orders, the park service issued regulations allowing large demonstrations, guaranteeing quick action on applications for permits, and accommodating spontaneous protests as much as possible.

Closing the White House sidewalk. The park service plans to close 20 feet of the 25-foot-wide White House sidewalk, limiting demonstrators to a 5-foot sliver along Pennsylvania Avenue. This is perhaps the most iconic public forum in America, allowing “We the People” to express our views directly to the chief executive, going back at least to the women’s suffrage movement 100 years ago.

The closure would violate the earlier court order, which permits demonstrations by at least 750 people on the White House sidewalk and declares that any lower limit is “invalid and void as an unconstitutional infringement of plaintiffs’ rights to freedom of speech and to assemble peaceably and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

U.S. Politics / Court / #MeToo

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Seeks to Make Furor a Campaign Asset, Not a Liability, Peter Baker, Oct. 9, 2018 (print edition). As he prepared to hold a ceremonial swearing-in of Justice Kavanaugh, President Trump dismissed sexual misconduct accusations as “fabricated.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump stokes tensions over Kavanaugh confirmation battle, Ashley Parker and John Wagner, Oct. 9, 2018 (print edition). At a White House ceremony, President Trump apologized to Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh and his family for the “terrible pain and suffering” they endured after his confirmation was marred by accusations of sexual misconduct.

ny times logopaul krugmanNew York Times, Opinion: The Paranoid Style in G.O.P. Politics, Paul Krugman, right, Oct. 9, 2018 (print edition). Republicans are an authoritarian regime in waiting.

Many people are worried, rightly, about what the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh means for America in the long term. He’s a naked partisan who clearly lied under oath about many aspects of his personal history; that’s as important as, and related to, the question of what he did to Christine Blasey Ford, a question that remains unresolved because the supposed investigation was such a transparent sham. Putting such a man on the Supreme Court has, at a stroke, destroyed the court’s moral authority for the foreseeable future.

But such long-term worries should be a secondary concern right now. The more immediate threat comes from what we saw on the Republican side during and after the hearing: not just contempt for the truth, but also a rush to demonize any and all criticism. In particular, the readiness with which senior Republicans embraced crazy conspiracy theories about the opposition to Kavanaugh is a deeply scary warning about what might happen to America, not in the long run, but just a few weeks from now.

jacob hornberger headshotFuture of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: Christine Ford’s Corroborating Evidence, Jacob G. Hornberger, right, Oct. 9, 2018. Throughout the controversy over the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, some people were saying that Christine Blasey Ford did not produce “corroborating evidence” to support her accusation that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers. Therefore, since Kavanaugh was denying that he committed the assault, the argument went, he should be given the benefit of the doubt in what seemed to be a “he-said, she-said” controversy.

But actually Ford did provide corroborating evidence to support the accusation she leveled at Kavanaugh, very powerful corroborating evidence, evidence that was largely ignored by the Senate Judiciary Committee, especially in the haste by Republican committee members to get the controversy over with by rushing to a quick confirmation vote.

Part of the problem, of course, lies in how some people perceive the term “corroborating evidence.” For many who aren’t lawyers, the term means eyewitnesses to the incident in question. What such people fail to realize, however, is that the law provides that there can be corroborative evidence that does not consist of eyewitness testimony.

One thing is for sure though: Contrary to popular opinion, Christine Blasey Ford did provide corroborating evidence to the U.S. Senate that buttressed her accusation against Brett Kavanaugh — powerful corroborating evidence in the form of prior consistent statements that were previously made to several different people and all of which statements were made long before Kavanaugh was even nominated.

brett kavanaugh protest sign veronica monet dcma

Anti-Kavanaugh protester in front of the U.S. Capitol (Veronica Monet photo via DCMA)

OpEdNews, Opinion: The Cultural Conflict of the Century: Conservative Politics and the #MeToo Backlash, Veronica Monet, Oct. 9, 2018. Many of us were horrified to witness how the Republican controlled Senate dealt with Dr. Ford's claims of sexual assault during the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings. Some of us were shocked by the "boys will be boys" and "it's in the past so why talk about it now" assertions from those conservatives who unapologetically stood by their man, Brett Kavanaugh.

As important as Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court was, could it be that we are in the midst of a cultural war that transcends the Supreme Court confirmation hearings in its scope and implications? Might his confirmation be seen as a backlash against the #MeToo movement? Might we be in the midst of an epic conflict between old cultural belief systems and a newly emerging cultural paradigm?

Kavanaugh played by the rules of the conservative culture he ascribes to. According to those rules, male emotions other than anger and self-righteous indignation are a liability and even a self-centered indulgence. There is little empathy for the suffering of self or of others and a lot of disdain for anyone who "breaks the rules."

Trump Finance Probes

washington post logoWashington Post, After his father’s death, Trump took unorthodox approach to expand empire, David A. Fahrenthold and Jonathan O'Connell, Oct. 9, 2018 (print edition). After his late father Fred’s real estate empire was sold off in 2004, Donald Trump embarked on a decade-long buying spree fueled by $400 million in cash and loans from the private banking office of Deutsche Bank, records show.

In 2005, Donald Trump kicked off a decade-long buying and spending spree, vastly expanding his hotel and golf-course empire and cementing his image as a brash impresario.

The un­or­tho­dox approach Trump took in making those bold bets — racing through hundreds of millions in cash and drawing loans from the private-wealth office of Deutsche Bank — came when he was on new terrain as a developer.

For the first time, he was operating without the safety net of his late father Fred’s real estate empire, which had been sold off in 2004, according to a New York Times investigation published last week.

More On Murder By Saudis?

washington post logoWashington Post, Missing Saudi journalist’s fiancee demands to know: ‘Where is Jamal?’ Souad Mekhennet and Loveday Morris, Oct. 9, 2018 (print edition). It has been nearly a week since Hatice Cengiz last saw Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist who was critical of the Saudi government and the man she planned to marry. She has not been told whether he is alive after he visited the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to finalize papers for their wedding.

Fascist In Brazil?

jair bolsonaro brazilConsortium News, Opinion: Future of Western Democracy Being Played Out in Brazil, Pepe Escobar, Oct. 9, 2018. Stripped to its essence, the Brazilian presidential elections represent a direct clash between democracy and an early 21st Century neofascism, indeed between civilization and barbarism.

Jair Bolsonaro, an outright supporter of Brazilian military dictatorships of last century, who has been normalized as the “extreme-right candidate,” won the first round of the presidential elections on Sunday with more than 49 million votes. That was 46 percent of the total, just shy of a majority needed for an outright win. This in itself is a jaw-dropping development.

brazil flag wavingBrazil has 42 million evangelicals – and over 200 representatives in both branches of Parliament. Don’t mess with their jihad. They know how to exercise massive appeal among the beggars at the neoliberal banquet. The Lula Left simply didn’t know how to seduce them.

It’s no secret that Steve Bannon is advising the Bolsonaro campaign in Brazil. One of Bolsonaro’s sons, Eduardo, met with Bannon in New York two months ago after which the Bolsonaro camp decided to profit from Bannon’s supposed “peerless” social engineering insights. A specter haunts Europe. Its name is Steve Bannon. The specter has moved on to the tropics.

Inside Trump Administration

nikki haley aipac

washington post logoWashington Post, Haley to depart as U.N. ambassador at year’s end, John Wagner, Carol Morello and Anne Gearan​, Oct. 9, 2018. President Trump said Nikki Haley (shown above at an AIPAC meeting) first told him months ago that she would like to “take a little time off” at the end of this year. Haley, a former governor of South Carolina who has been a fierce advocate of the Trump administration’s policies, dismissed speculation that she might challenge Trump in 2020.

UN logoHaley had an increasingly diminished role in the Trump Cabinet as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo filled the vacuum left by his predecessor, Rex Tillerson, whose camera-shy demeanor had allowed Haley to be the voice of U.S. foreign policy in the first year of the Trump administration.

Media News

Vanity Fair, “She Gets to Move to L.A.”: The Backstory of Hope Hicks’s Bolt to Fox on the West Coast, Gabriel Sherman, Oct. 9, 2018. Trump and Jared Kushner lobbied Rupert Murdoch to hire Hicks as chief communications officer—a big job, but still in the family.

hope hicks strategic communications directorIn the American mind, California has been a place of fresh starts and re-invention. So it makes sense that Hope Hicks is heading west to serve as chief communications officer for “New Fox,” the parent company of Fox News, based in Los Angeles. Hicks, a 29-year-old former P.R. flack, had experienced a difficult time in New York after exiting Donald Trump’s White House at the end of March.

rnc logoShe was hounded by paparazzi, who photographed her jogging in Central Park with Rob Porter, her West Wing office romance, who left the White House after allegations of spousal abuse surfaced (Porter denied it). And she’s also had to spend time and six figures on legal fees, (apparently funded by the Republican National Committee), dealing with Robert Mueller’s investigation. The opportunity to work for the Murdochs on another coast would be a chance for a reset.

It’s unclear what this means for her relationship with Porter, who’s so far been unable to find a job, a former West Wing colleague told me. “It’s a big job. Plus she gets to move to L.A.,” a friend said. Although, of course, since she’s working for Fox, which often works for Trump, it’s in another sense not a fresh start at all.

Oct. 8

Supreme Court Swearing-in

djt brett kavanaugh anthony kennedy oct 8 2018 white house

Retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, right, ceremonially swears-in Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, as President Donald Trump looks on, in the East Room of the White House, Oct. 8, 2018. Susan Walsh / AP

abc news logoABC News, Trump apologizes 'on behalf of the nation' to Kavanaugh during swearing-in, claims he was 'proven innocent,' Adam Kelsey and Meridith McGraw, Oct. 8, 2018. President Donald Trump apologized to incoming Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh Monday evening "for the terrible pain and suffering" that he and his family endured during his confirmation process, going so far as to claim that Kavanaugh was "proven innocent" of the sexual assault allegations made against him.

Trump's comments, which he acknowledged as outside of the norm just prior to making them, came at a ceremonial swearing-in event for Kavanaugh in the East Room of the White House, two days after Kavanaugh was confirmed by the Senate and formally sworn-in as a member of the court by Chief Justice John Roberts.

"On behalf of the nation, I'd like to apologize to Brad and the entire a Kavanaugh family for the terrible pain and suffering you've been forced to endure," Trump said. "Those who stepped forward to serve our country deserve a fair and dignified evaluation. Not a campaign of political and personal destruction based on lies and deception."

Trump addressed the controversy head-on characterizing the heated political debate over sexual assault allegations leveled against Kavanaugh by California professor Christine Blasey Ford and several other women as "violat[ing] every notion of fairness, decency and due process."

"[In] our country, a man or a woman must always be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty," the president continued. "And with that, I must state that you, sir, under historic scrutiny, were proven innocent."

nbc news logoNBC News, Hillary Clinton calls Kavanaugh's ceremonial swearing-in a 'political rally,' Adam Edelman, Oct. 9, 2018. Trump's remarks at the White House event "further undermined the image and integrity of the court," the former secretary of state said.

Hillary Clinton on Tuesday ripped President Donald Trump’s unusual handling of the ceremonial swearing-in for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, calling the display a "political rally" that "further undermined the image and integrity of the court."

hillary clinton gage skidmore peoria azIn an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, parts of which aired Tuesday morning on the network, Clinton (shown in a file photo by Gage Skidmore) said that the way Trump carried out the event "troubles me greatly."

"What was done last night in the White House was a political rally. It further undermined the image and integrity of the court," Clinton said, "and that troubles me greatly. It saddens me because our judicial system has been viewed as one of the main pillars of our constitutional government."

"So I don't know how people are going to react to it. I think given our divides it will pretty much fall predictably between those who are for and those who are against," she added, calling Trump “true to form.”

"He has insulted, attacked, demeaned women throughout the campaign. Really for many years leading up to the campaign — and he's continued to do that inside the White House," Clinton said.

Trump responded on Tuesday to Clinton's comments, saying, "I guess that's why she lost. She never got it."

GOP Election Scandals

brett kavanaugh election fraud wmr graphic

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Exclusive Investigative Commentary: Bush backed Kavanaugh to keep election thefts of 2000 and 2004 a secret, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 8, 2018 (Subscription required, $30 annually; excerpted with permission.)

karl rove HR"Bush White House aides Brett Kavanaugh and Karl Rove, left, closely coordinated their election fraud operations with two experienced Washington campaign advisers for Republican candidates, Rick Davis, and Davis's partner, Paul Manafort."

wayne madsen trumps bananas coverNote: Former Navy intelligence officer, NSA analyst and defense contractor computer scientist Wayne Madsen for many years has exposed techniques to rig U.S. and international elections, electronically and by other methods. He is the author of 16 books, including the just-published "Trump's Bananas Republic," which portrays administration scandals through the lens of iconic Hollywood movies.

SCOTUSblog, Court stays out of North Dakota voting dispute, Amy Howe, Oct. 9, 2018. The Supreme Court today declined to intervene in a challenge to a North Dakota law that requires voters to present identification that includes a current residential street address. Lawyers say that the ruling will prevent thousands of Native American voters (and tens of thousands of North Dakota residents who are not Native Americans) from casting a ballot in the upcoming 2018 election in a state that could play a key role in Democrats’ efforts to retake the U.S. Senate.

A group of Native American voters in North Dakota have challenged the law, telling the courts that the requirement that voters present identification bearing a street address could pose an obstacle to voting for Native Americans in several ways. Native Americans often live on reservations or in other rural areas where people do not have street addresses; even if they do, lawyers for the challengers argue, those addresses are frequently not included on tribal IDs. Moreover, the lawyers add, Native Americans in North Dakota are “disproportionately homeless.”

In April, a federal district court in North Dakota ordered the state to allow voters to cast ballots as long as they could show IDs that had either a current street address or a current mailing address, such as a P.O. box. The state followed that order in the June primaries, but in September the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit put the district court’s order on hold.

The challengers’ request went originally to Justice Neil Gorsuch, who handles emergency appeals from the 8th Circuit, but he referred it to the full Supreme Court — a fairly common practice. To stay the 8th Circuit’s ruling and prevent the state from enforcing the ID requirement, the challengers needed at least five of the eight justices (Justice Brett Kavanaugh did not participate) to vote in their favor.

But they apparently fell short. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented from the court’s decision not to intervene, in a brief opinion that was joined by Justice Elena Kagan. Ginsburg complained that the “risk of voter confusion appears severe here because the injunction against requiring residential-address identification was in force during the primary election and because the Secretary of State’s website announced for months the identification requirements as they existed under that injunction.”

Ginsburg acknowledged that, as the 8th Circuit had emphasized, the elections are still a month away. However, Ginsburg stressed, tens of thousands of North Dakotans don’t have an ID bearing their residential street address. As a result, she warned, the 8th Circuit’s order “may lead to voters finding out at the polling place that they cannot vote because their formerly valid ID is now insufficient.”

Climate Change

washington post logoWashington Post, World has just over a decade to get control of climate change, U.N. scientists say, Chris Mooney and Brady Dennis. Oct. 8, 2018 (print edition). “There is no documented historic precedent" for the scale of changes required, the body found.

The report warns of dire consequences if nations do not cut their carbon emissions by more than 1 billion tons per year, a figure that is larger than the annual emissions of nearly every country on the planet.

Time Magazine, Opinion: The U.N.'s Climate Report Exposes How Badly Wrong Leaders Like Trump Have Got Climate Change, Ban Ki-moon (Eighth U.N. Secretary General, serving time logo ogfrom 2007-2016 and now a member of The Elders, a global leaders' group), Oct. 8, 2018. Climate change is a global challenge demanding global solutions. No one country can face it alone, no matter that nation’s political, economic or military might. From the richest to the poorest, we all share one planet, and we all have a stake in its survival.

This is why the latest report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) makes for such alarming reading and demands immediate, concerted action from everyone — particularly our leaders.

UN logoThe report sets out starkly that, without a rapid change of course, global temperatures will rise above the 1.5°C level that scientists view as the bare minimum to avert catastrophic climate change, including rising sea waters, desertification and droughts.

This change will not happen, however, unless leaders in politics and business put their money where their mouth is and finally deliver the billions of dollars needed to make the transition to a green economy.

Supreme Court Battle

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: We need to stay angry about Kavanaugh, E.J. Dionne Jr., Oct. 8, 2018 (print edition). But even more, we need to vote, organize and think boldly after this travesty.

Republicans rushed through Brett M. Kavanaugh’s confirmation to avoid the possible consequences of an election. They aborted a full investigation because they feared what it might find. They made themselves complicit in a presidential attack on Christine Blasey Ford, a brave woman who asked only that her case against Kavanaugh be taken seriously.

After all these outrages, there will be calls for a renewal of civility, as if the problem is that people said nasty things about one other. But the answer to this power grab cannot be passive acceptance in the name of being polite. The causes and consequences of what just happened must be acknowledged frankly.

brett kavanaugh.judgeLThe conservative struggle for the court began in the 1960s, but it hit its stride in the Bush v. Gore decision after after the 2000 election. Five conservative justices violated the principles they claimed to uphold on states’ rights and the use of equal-protection doctrine to stop a recount of votes in Florida requested by Al Gore, the Democratic nominee. They thus made George W. Bush president.

The pro-Bush justices made abundantly clear that they were grasping at any arguments available to achieve a certain outcome by declaring, “our consideration is limited to the present circumstances.” Translation: Once Bush is in, please forget what we said here.

washington post logoWashington Post, Justices move to repair Supreme Court’s image after fight over Kavanaugh, Robert Barnes, Oct. 8, 2018 (print edition). As Brett M. Kavanaugh prepared for his debut on the high court, his colleagues already had moved quickly to paper over the damage from the bitter and tumultuous confirmation battle.

U.S. Politics / Elections

Palast confronts GOP candidate for Governor of Georgia Brian Kemp outside the Sprayberry Barbecue in Newman, Georgia, asking, “Mr. Kemp are you removing Black voters from the voter rolls just so you can win this election?” Video still: David Ambrose, Palast Investigative Fund.

Truthout, First Person Investigation: GOP’s Brian Kemp Purged 1 in 10 Georgia Voters: I’ve Got the Names, Greg Palast, Oct. 8, 2018. My lawyer had to threaten Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp with a federal lawsuit to force him to turn over the names of over half a million voters whose citizenship rights he quietly extinguished.

This past week, I released the name of every one of these Georgia voters Kemp flushed from voter rolls in 2017. If you’re a Georgia resident, check the list. If your name is on it, re-register right now. You only have through tomorrow (October 9).

It’s no coincidence that Georgia’s Purge’n General is also running for Governor: The Republican candidate is fighting a dead-even race against Stacey Abrams, Democratic House Minority Leader. Abrams, if she wins, would become the first Black woman governor in US history.

Suspiciously, Kemp sent no notice to these citizens after he took away their voting rights. If they show up to vote on November 6, they’re out of luck — and so is Georgia’s democracy.

I brought in one of the nation’s top mailing database experts, Mark Swedlund, and his team to go through the list, name by name. Among the voters purged are thousands who supposedly left the state but remain in Georgia. Thousands more are people who moved from one end of town to another and lost their vote — and we even found one who simply moved from one apartment to another in the same building.

These registration cancellations are therefore dead wrong and, say voting law experts, coldly break the law.

That is why Gerald Griggs, counsel for the Atlanta NAACP, and voting rights attorney Nse Ufot, executive director of the New Georgia Project (a nonpartisan voter registration initiative), are joining in my suit against Kemp.

We’ll be hauling Kemp into federal court to force him to open the records to which the public is entitled under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 — provisions meant to prevent just this type of voter roll shenanigan. In particular, we’re forcing him to disclose the complete detailed process that led to each voter’s removal.

I don’t file federal suits on a whim. Kemp has continually turned down legitimate Open Records Act requests over my five years of investigation for Al Jazeera and Rolling Stone.

washington post logodemocratic donkey logoWashington Post, Democrats have narrow edge in battleground House districts, survey finds, Scott Clement and Dan Balz, Oct. 8, 2018. With just a month to the midterm elections, the Washington Post-Schar School poll highlights the challenge for Republicans as they seek to maintain their House majority.

Politics / Pop Culture

washington post logotaylor swift reputation cover customWashington Post, Taylor Swift’s stunning statement: Famously apolitical star slams Tennessee Republican, endorses Democrats, Emily Yahr, Oct. 8, 2018 (print edition). In a stunning turnaround from her refusal to discuss anything related to politics, Taylor Swift, right, revealed whom she’s voting for in the 2018 midterms.

The pop megastar, who just wrapped up a 40-date stadium tour across the country, posted a long Instagram caption Sunday night. In it, Swift, who is registered to vote in Tennessee, gave a detailed explanation about why she’s voting for Democrats Phil Bredesen for Senate and Jim Cooper for the House.

Swift also slammed Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), writing, “Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me.”

democratic donkey logo“In the past I’ve been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions, but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now,” Swift wrote to her 112 million Instagram followers. “I always have and always will cast my vote based on which candidate will protect and fight for the human rights I believe we all deserve in this country.”

Inside Washington

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: We’re paying too little attention to this endangered and essential national resource, Fred Hiatt (Editorial page editor), Oct. 8, 2018 (print edition). Stop kicking the federal workforce.

Last week, the risk to a precious national institution — to its quality and its independence and sheer ability to function — came into sharp focus. The week ended with President Trump abruptly replacing the well-qualified head of the Office of Personnel Management, a reminder of the dangers facing the civil service — dangers that have been building for decades and have sharply intensified in the Trump era.

Cancer Health: New Meaning For 'Red State'

yale study rates of cancer death us fall 2018

Geographic rates of cancer death in all U.S. counties. The greatest cluster of high cancer death rates are in the states of Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi, with other pockets in Nevada, Maine, Michigan, and throughout the rest of the country. Geographic variation in rates of cancer death in all U.S. counties. Red shows highest number of deaths per 100,000 persons.

Yale News, Cancer death disparities linked to poverty, lifestyle factors nationwide, Ziba Kashef, Oct. 5, 2018. Yale researchers have identified factors that may contribute to widening cancer death disparities among counties across the United States. These factors, which include both socioeconomic and behavioral traits, may provide public health experts with specific targets for potentially reducing cancer disparities, the researchers said.

The study was published in JAMA Network Open. While cancer death rates have decreased overall in the United States in recent decades, substantial disparities among counties still exist and are growing. To examine the factors that may drive these disparities, a team of Yale-led researchers analyzed publicly available data documenting cancer mortality rates by county. They compared the rates in low-, medium-, and high-income counties.

The research team confirmed that there are significant county-level disparities in cancer deaths, ranging from 186 deaths per 100,000 persons in high-income counties to 230 deaths per 100,000 persons in low-income counties.

Their mediation analysis found that most of the disparities could be explained by a small number of key factors. “The most important of these factors appear to be food insecurity, smoking, physical inactivity, and the quality of health care that is provided in the counties,” said first author Jeremy O’Connor, M.D., who conducted the research while he was a National Clinician Scholar at Yale School of Medicine.

As part of their methodology, the researchers also created maps to illustrate the cancer death disparity rates. This approach will allow public health officials in different parts of the country to identify specific factors that affect their counties, and respond accordingly.

Protests Grow Over Saudi Dissident

Saudi Arabian flag

washington post logojamal kahshoggiWashington Post, Opinion: Jamal Khashoggi chose to tell the truth. It’s part of the reason he’s beloved, David Ignatius, Oct. 8, 2018 (print edition). In his work, he has always had the same insistent passion for honesty about his country. I have known Khashoggi, right, for about 15 years and want to share here some of the reasons he is beloved in our profession and the news of his disappearance has been such a shock.

washington post logoWashington Post, Disappearance and alleged killing of Saudi journalist could complicate relations with U.S., Karen DeYoung, Oct. 8, 2018 (print edition). The Trump administration has said little publicly about the fate of Jamal Khashoggi, a columnist for The Post, but officials are frustrated with the lack of a Saudi response to its queries.

JIP Editor's Note: An example of Khashoggi's commentary was in Middle East Monitor, Khashoggi: the deal of the century will disappear, Staff report, Feb. 21, 2018:

The well-known Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi confirmed that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince has started a relationship with Israel and tried to pressure the Palestinians to accept the so-called “deal of the century.”

However, this approach has floundered. Khashoggi [shown at right in a Facebook photo] was speaking during a seminar in Istanbul hosted by the “Riwaq Istanbul” [Istanbul gallery].

jamal khashoggi western suit“The Crown Prince’s promise was that he will manage to pressure the Palestinians to accept the “Deal of the Century” in return for the Americans and Israelis expulsion of Iranians from Syria and Lebanon. But in reality this cannot be realized,” Khashoggi told The New Khaleeji.

According to Khashoggi, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas would not agree to consider the town of Abu Dis (adjacent to Jerusalem) as the capital of Palestine. Khashoggi also added that Jordan’s King Abdullah II l has ignored all Saudi pressures.

He said “The crown prince discovered that he does not have a ‘Palestine card’ to play. The American president, Donald Trump, cannot do anything about the Iranians. The man is paralyzed and sending US troops to get the Iranians out of Aleppo and Damascus is but a dream.”

Moon of Alabama, Opinion: Mainstream Journos Pissed As Saudi Clown Prince Nabs One Of Their Own, Staff report, Oct. 8, 2018. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, is pissed that the Saudi clown prince Mohammad bin Salman ordered the kidnapping of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

mohammad bin salman cropped fileKhashoggi, who comes from a very rich family, has long served the Saudi regime in editorial positions and was the media adviser to Prince Turki al-Faisal during his tenure as ambassador in London and Washington. He left Saudi Arabia last year out of fear of being targeted in the ongoing crackdown by clown prince Mohammad bin Salman (shown at right). He ended up writing mildly critical columns for the Washington Post.

Khashoggi is no liberal but a staunch supporter of Saudi system and its brutality. He had praised the beheading of Syrian soldiers by ISIS as an "effective psychological military tactic" and supported the abhorrent Saudi war on Yemen.

The mainstream journos who are now up in arms over Khashoggi are mostly embarrassed about their earlier adoration of Mohammad bin Salman. But even more important to them is that Khashoggi is one of their class. They think of themselves as entitled aristocrats who do not deserve such a fate. That is reserved for the deplorable plebs below them.

Just consider this amoral passage in Friedman's whining column about the Khashoggi case:

If Jamal has been abducted or murdered by agents of the Saudi government, it will be a disaster for M.B.S. and a tragedy for Saudi Arabia and all the Arab Gulf countries. It would be an unfathomable violation of norms of human decency, worse not in numbers but in principle than even the Yemen war.

Every ten minutes a child in Yemen starves because of the famine caused by the Saudi, UAE, U.S. and UK war on the country. The renewed attack on the harbor of Hodeidah and hyperinflation over the recent months have doubled the prices of food and gas Most people in Yemen no longer have the income to pay for the needed food. Tens of thousands were already silently starved, millions will likely follow. By what humanitarian 'principle' would the potential death of one bootlicking columnist be worse than that?

Investigator Murdered

SouthFront, Bulgarian Journalist Found Raped, Murdered; She Was Covering Investigation of Financial Frauds of EU Politicians, Businessmen, Staff report, Oct. 8, 2018. On October 6, a Bulgarian journalist, Viktoria Marinova, was found brutally raped and murdered in Bulgaria’s northern town of Ruse.

viktoria marinova tvn bulgaria via reuters scanpix leta cropThe body of the 30-year-old woman (shown at left in a TVN photo) was found by a passerby in bushes near the pier on the Danube river, according to Ruse regional prosecutor Georgy Georgiev. “Her mobile phone, car keys, glasses and part of her clothes were missing,” he said.

Prior to the murder, Marinova was also raped. She was disfigured due to blows to the head and suffocated to death. Prime Minister Boyko Borisov expressed hope that the investigation would succeed because of the “work that has been done.”

She was a TV host, and her last aired show happened on September 30th when she interviewed investigative journalists Dimitar Stoyanov from the Bivol.bg website and Attila Biro from the Romanian Rise Project about an investigation of alleged fraud with EU funds linked to big businessmen and politicians.

Her colleagues from TVN were staggered by the event. “We are in shock. In no way, under any form, never have we received any threats – aimed at her or the television,” a journalist from TVN told AFP under a condition of anonymity, adding that he and his colleagues feared for their safety.

Bulgarian media reports said that over the last year Marinova had reported on an ongoing investigation into alleged corruption involving European Union funds for the broadcaster TVN. She also worked on a program focusing on social issues and was involved with charity work.

More On Climate Change Reactions

ny times logoNew York Times, As Storms Keep Coming, FEMA Spends Billions in ‘Cycle’ of Damage and Repair, Kevin Sack and John Schwartz, Oct. 8, 2018. In the exact spot where Hurricane Katrina demolished the Plaquemines Parish Detention Center, a new $105 million jail now hovers 19 feet above the marsh, perched atop towering concrete pillars. Described by a state official as the “Taj Mahal” of Louisiana corrections, it has so much space that one of every 27 parish residents could bunk there.

fema logo Custom 2But on an average day in the first half of this year, more than 40 percent of its 872 beds went unoccupied, making it one of the emptiest jails in the state, records show.

FEMA’s public assistance program has provided at least $81 billion in this manner to state, territorial and local governments in response to disasters declared since 1992, according to a New York Times analysis of federal data. But an examination of projects across the country’s ever-expanding flood zones reveals that decisions to rebuild in place, often made seemingly in defiance of climate change, have at times left structures just as defenseless against the next storm.

Suspicious Chinese Corruption Charge?

ny times logoChina FlagNew York Times, Interpol Chief Was China’s Pride. His Fall Exposes the Country’s Dark Side, Steven Lee Myers and Chris Buckley, Oct. 8, 2018. The disappearance and resignation of Meng Hongwei cast a blow to Beijing’s efforts to take global leadership roles. On Monday, China’s minister of public security told senior police officials that Mr. Meng was accused of taking bribes and other crimes.

Brazil Moving Far Right?

jair bolsonaro brazil

ny times logoNew York Times, Brazil Election: Jair Bolsonaro Heads to Runoff After Missing Outright Win, Ernesto Londoño and Manuela Andreoni, Oct. 8, 2018 (print edition). A far-right brazil flag wavingcandidate who has spoken fondly of Brazil’s onetime military dictatorship came close to an outright victory in the country’s presidential election on Sunday, as Brazilians expressed disgust with politics as usual and endorsed an iron-fisted approach to fighting crime and corruption.

Voters delivered a first-round victory to Jair Bolsonaro, who had stunned the political establishment by rising to the top of a crowded presidential field despite a long history of offensive remarks about women, blacks and gays.

Crime, Courts, Clearances

ny times logoNew York Times, Convicts Seeking to Clear Their Records Find More Prosecutors Willing to Help, Alan Blinder, Oct. 8, 2018 (print edition). The convicted men and women who visit Room B2 of Indianapolis’s courthouse cannot find jobs, or want better ones. Or they wish they could join their children for school field trips. Or they are simply seeking a measure of societal forgiveness.

Bolstered by a renewed focus, from the Trump administration on down, on helping people with criminal histories participate in society successfully, at least 20 states have created or broadened expungement and sealing laws since the beginning of 2017, according to the Collateral Consequences Resource Center, a nonprofit group.

More on Kavanaugh

lisa murkowski oThe Hill, Alaska GOP weighs reprimanding Murkowski over Kavanaugh vote, Megan Keller, Oct. 8, 2018. Leaders of the Alaskan Republican Party are weighing a reprimand for Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) for not voting to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Alaska's GOP has asked Murkowski, right, to send its state central committee any information she thinks may be relevant to its decision, The Associated Press reported on Monday.Party Chairman Tuckerman Babcock said the committee may issue a statement or withdraw its support for Murkowski. In the case of the latter, the committee would encourage officials to find a replacement and ask Murkowski not to run as a Republican for reelection.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Justice Kagan is warning us — and her colleagues, Jennifer Rubin, Oct. 8, 2018. Justice Elena Kagan, appearing with her colleague Justice Sonia Sotomayor, at Princeton University last week had timely observations as the Supreme Court added a self-revealed Republican partisan to its ranks.

“All of us need to be aware of that — every single one of us — and to realize how precious the court’s legitimacy is,” she added. “It’s an incredibly important thing for the court to guard is this reputation of being impartial, being neutral and not being simply an extension of a terribly polarizing process.” She explained that without centrist justices such as Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony M. Kennedy, the court and the country are now starkly divided into two camps.

In expressing trepidation about the loss of a centrist, Kagan implicitly conceded that on this court, everyone’s mind is already made up in advance on the cases that count the most and on which the country is bitterly divided. That is a horrible place for the court to be, for it defies the very notion of open-minded adjudication without bias.

As a preliminary matter, Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh needs to take responsibility for his outlandish, partisan remarks and his implicit threat to the left (“what goes around comes around”). He did not apologize let alone retract those remarks in his Wall Street Journal column.

The more overtly partisan and ideological he is on the court, the steeper will be the climb to reclaim his reputation and credibility. If he acts, speaks and writes like a puppet of the Federalist Society, the court’s legitimacy will be very much up in the air.

Kavanaugh Supporters Mad About Bar Dispute

Raw Story, College Republicans flip out and threaten to sue local bar for refusing to host pro-Kavanaugh kegger, Brad Reed, Oct. 8, 2018. The University of Washington’s chapter of the College Republicans has threatened to sue a local bar because it refused to host an event they planned to celebrate the confirmation of Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh. Local news station KIRO 7 reports that Seattle bar Shultzy’s Bar and Grill told the College Republicans over the weekend that it would not host their planned “Beers 4 Brett” party on the grounds that it is a sports bar that does not endorse any particular political viewpoint.

chevy swanson young screengrabA group of 15 of the College Republicans went to the bar anyway to have drinks and were permitted to stay without incident. Despite this, the chapter is still considering a lawsuit against Shultzy’s for not wanting to serve as the official host of their celebration.

“It’s very disheartening just to see something like this would get shut down, or be asked to shut down for not any good reason,” complained University of Washington College Republicans president Chevy Swanson (shown in a screengrab). However, constitutional law expert Jeffery Needle tells KIRO 7 that it’s very likely in the clear.

Oct. 7

Supreme Court Battle

brett kavanaugh swear in oct 6 2018 ashley

Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, as his wife Ashley and two daughters look on, is sworn onto the court by Chief Justice John Roberts, whom Kavanaugh recommended for the court as Bush Administration White House Staff secretary (Supreme Court photo, Oct. 6, 2018). A political precedent used during the Republican installation of Associate Justice Clarence Thomas was to rush the swear-in in order to limit the impact of new scandal and protest for the lifetime appointment.

ny times logorepublican elephant logoNew York Times, Kavanaugh Is Sworn In After Close Confirmation Vote in Senate, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Oct. 7, 2018 (print edition). Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court on Saturday by one of the slimmest margins in American history, locking in a solid conservative majority on the court and capping a rancorous battle that began as a debate over judicial ideology and concluded with a national reckoning over sexual misconduct.

He was promptly sworn in by both Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and the retired Justice Anthony M. Kennedy — the court’s longtime swing vote, whom he will replace — in a private ceremony.

brett kavanaugh zina bash c span sept 2018

washington post logoWashington Post, Divided Senate confirms Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination, Seung Min Kim and John Wagner, Oct. 7, 2018 (print edition). The Senate voted to confirm Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh as the Supreme Court’s 114th justice on Saturday by one of the narrowest margins in the institution’s history, as police stood guard and protesters’ shouts of “shame, shame” echoed through the Senate chamber.

The 50-to-48 vote capped a brutal confirmation fight that underscored how deeply polarized the nation has become under President Trump, who has now successfully placed two justices on the nation’s highest court, cementing a conservative majority.

With Vice President Pence presiding, senators sat in their chairs and rose to cast their votes, repeatedly interrupted by protesters in the visitors’ gallery who yelled out and were removed by Capitol Police. The Supreme Court announced Kavanaugh would be sworn in later Saturday.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Rock bottom’: Supreme Court fight reveals a country on the brink, Michael Scherer and Robert Costa​, Oct. 7, 2018 (print edition). In the battle over Brett M. Kavanaugh, few of the players emerged from the process unchanged or unblemished, underscoring the uncharted territory of deepening distrust and polarization that now defines the American system.

bill palmerPalmer Report, Opinion: This hideous monster just can’t help himself, Bill Palmer, right, Oct. 7, 2018. Last night Donald Trump posted this tweet, which sounded precisely like that kind of gaslighting propaganda that you’d expect to hear from the most impotent of two-bit third-world dictators: “You don’t hand matches to an arsonist, and you don’t give power to an angry left-wing mob. Democrats have become too EXTREME and TOO DANGEROUS to govern. Republicans believe in the rule of law – not the rule of the mob. VOTE REPUBLICAN!”

President Donald Trump officialWait a minute here… this piece of crap just got exposed this week as having spent decades committing financial fraud, to the point that his entire fortune consists of stolen money.

Trump just put a guy on the Supreme Court who spent his entire testimony committing felony perjury, and then blocked the FBI from being able to investigate the multiple sexual assault allegations against him – and he has the nerve to claim he and his party believe in the rule of law?

The thing is, Donald Trump is so disgustingly deranged, he just can’t help himself. Instead of trying to act remotely presidential for once, he’s outright taunting the majority of Americans who oppose everything he stands for. If he thinks that talking like a dictator is somehow going to scare his opposition into backing down, he’s even stupider than he looks. Trump just made the mistake of challenging real Americans into putting everything they have into winning the midterms.

Inside TrumpLand

Axios Sneak Peak, Scoop — White House begins prepping for Dem legal storm, Jonathan Swan, Oct. 7, 2018. Top officials inside the White House have taken their first steps to prepare for an onslaught of investigations if Democrats win the House. According to a source with direct knowledge:

• Chief of Staff John Kelly recently formed a small working group to start preparing for the possibility that Democrats will soon sic Congress' top investigators on Trumpworld.
• Senior White House staff have an offsite weekend retreat scheduled for late October. The agenda is expected to include a discussion of investigations under a Democratic-controlled House, according to the source.
• To be clear: Team Trump is still trying to prevent a House flip from happening. They're ramping up political activities leading into the midterm — including a blitz of rallies from the president — to give Republicans their best chance of saving the House.

Politics / Entertainment

washington post logoWashington Post, In SNL’s cold open, Republican senators celebrate Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation, Sonia Rao, Oct. 7, 2018.  "Listen, I think it’s important to believe women until it’s time to stop," the fictional Sen. Susan Collins said.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Taylor Swift breaks longtime political silence, comes out swinging for Democratic Party in the midterms, Bill Palmer, Oct. 7, 2018. It’s not uncommon for pop stars to offer support for Democratic Party candidates. But when it comes to Taylor Swift, it’s always been a different story. She’s straddled the line between being a pop star and a country music star, and she’s always kept her politics close to the vest. That is, until today.

taylor swift stageIn a move whose timing cannot be ignored, Swift (shown in a file photo) endorsed Democratic candidate Phil Bredesen today over Republican candidate Marsha Blackburn in the U.S. Senate race in Tennessee, which has long been Swift’s home state.

Taylor Swift will face backlash from her more conservative fans in the country music world for this. But it’s clear that she’s past the point of caring about that. By mobilizing her fans to turn out and vote Democrat, Swift may have just altered the course of the Senate race in Tennessee – and the races going on elsewhere. It seems we’ve reached the point where women have decided to take over, regardless of how the patriarchy might try to retaliate against them.

Global Intrigue

india flag mapMoon of Alabama (MoA), Opinion: India's U-Turn Destroys Trump's Anti-Chinese 'Quad' Strategy, Staff report, Oct. 7, 2018. A change in India's foreign policy last week disintegrated the Trump administration's strategy against Russia and China. U.S. media pronouncements about India will now change. The Indian government under Narendra Modi will come under heavy propaganda fire.

Two weeks ago the MoA Weekly Review mused about the corrupt Rafale fighter jet deal India's Hindu-fascist President Modi had arranged. The writing was based on and credited to the legwork Caravan Magazine had done. Today the New York Times picked up the story: With ‘Fishy’ Jet Deal, India’s Opposition Finally Lands a Blow on Modi.

The U.S. had hoped that it could pull the traditionally non-aligned India to its side and use it in its strategic wars against China, Russia and Iran. The Quad strategy of an Indo-Pacific alliance of Japan, Australia and India under U.S. leadership was agreed upon a year ago, supposedly to implement a "rules based order" in which the U.S. makes up rules of what China (and others) are allowed to do - or not allowed to do - in the Indo-Pacific realm.

Iran Flag MapCritics of the Modi government did not like the subservient role proud India was supposed to play in that game. Then the U.S. Congress, through the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanction Act (CAATSA), threatened India with sanctions should it buy the Russian S-400 air-defense systems. Trump also threatens with sanctions over India's purchase of Iranian oil.

The new Indian deals with Russia, the statements from the Russia-India summit and the continued oil buying from Iran are huge defeats for the Trump administration's anti-China, anti-Russia and anti-Iran policies. Its global strategy to rescue the 'unilateral moment' for the U.S. has failed over India's recalcitrance.

And that is the very reason the New York Times is now drawing attention to the Rafale corruption scandal and highlighting the opposition to Modi.

jamal khashoggi entering Saudi consulate

Jamal Kashoggi, a dissident Saudi Arabian journalist living in Turkey, is shown entering a Saudi consulate before his disappearance on Oct. 2 and suspected murder.

ny times logoNew York Times, Turkey Demands ‘Convincing Explanation’ on Missing Saudi Journalist, David D. Kirkpatrick, Ben Hubbard and Carlotta Gall, Oct. 7, 2018. Turkish officials on Sunday demanded a “convincing explanation” from Saudi Arabia over the alleged killing of a dissident who disappeared during a visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, sharply escalating tensions between two of the Middle East’s most important powers.

jamal kahshoggiThe dissident, Jamal Khashoggi, is a veteran Saudi journalist and commentator who had turned critical of the kingdom under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

After fleeing the kingdom last year for voluntary exile because he feared arrest, Mr. Khashoggi vanished after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Tuesday to pick up a document that would allow him to remarry in Turkey. On Saturday, Turkish officials speaking on the condition of anonymity told The New York Times and other news organizations that investigators had concluded Mr. Khashoggi was killed by Saudi agents inside the consulate.

“There is concrete information; it will not remain an unsolved case,” Yasin Aktay, an adviser to the head of Turkey’s ruling A.K.P. party, said on Sunday in an interview with the Turkish CNN network. “The consulate should make a clear explanation,” he added, drawing a contrast to a troubled and less-assertive period of Turkey’s recent past. “If they consider Turkey as it was like in the 1990s, they are mistaken.”

recep tayyip erdogan o presidentTurkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, did not mention Mr. Khashoggi or Saudi Arabia once during a televised address on Sunday. But speaking to reporters afterward, Mr. Erdogan said he was awaiting a prosecutor’s investigation about what had happened to Mr. Khashoggi.

The crown prince and other Saudi officials have denied killing or abducting Mr. Khashoggi, saying they do not know where he is. And by midafternoon Sunday, no Turkish official had publicly accused Saudi Arabia of killing Mr. Khashoggi.

The discrepancy between the multiple anonymous allegations to the news media and top officials’ public reticence raised questions about whether Ankara would stand behind the leaks or whether it was seeking to avoid what could be a hugely disruptive fight with Riyadh.

At least one American lawmaker, Senator Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, said on Twitter, “If this is true — that the Saudis lured a U.S. resident into their consulate and murdered him — it should represent a fundamental break in our relationship with Saudi Arabia.”

World News

Daily Nation, Donald Trump to rival China's investment in Africa, Oct. 7, 2018. President Donald Trump is expected within days to approve an initiative to overhaul US investment strategy in Africa. Kenya is likely to benefit from the plan designed by key figures in the US Congress in response to China's enhanced economic and political influence in the Sub-Saharan region.

A State Department official told reporters last week that the shift will offer Africa "a better alternative to Chinese state investments." Known as the Build Act (Better Utilisation of Investments Leading to Development Act), the legislation will double, to $60 billion (Sh6tn), funds for promoting US corporate investment in Africa.

"Our theory on engagement [in Africa] is that it should be led by the private sector," Manisha Singh, the top business-focused official in the State Department, said. The Build Act reflects that emphasis, Ms Singh added. It is "very different" from China's approach, she said.

"Predatory lending" is a hallmark of China's government-directed investment strategy in Africa, added Matthew Harrington, an assistant secretary in the State Department's Africa Bureau who also spoke at the October 4 press briefing.

But following China's lead, the Build Act will also enable a newly created US government agency to take an equity stake of its own in development projects in Africa.

The US government entity that the Build Act replaces had not been permitted to make direct investments of that sort. Its mandate was limited to activities such as underwriting risk insurance for US companies venturing into emerging markets.

Trump administration officials say they cannot yet provide specifics on how the new International Development Finance Corporation will benefit Kenya. But they add that the increased funding provided by the Build Act will likely lead US private businesses to invest more aggressively in countries such as Kenya that are viewed as posing comparatively less risk.

"It makes US companies more competitive and reduces the risk in a growing market that is not well understood by American business," Witney Schneidman, an Africa specialist at a Washington consulting firm, wrote regarding the Build Act in a recent blog post.

The legislation soon to be signed into law by President Trump has also drawn criticism. Raj Bhala, a US law professor and adviser to the Dentons investment consulting firm, argues that the $60 billion in funding for the Build Act is too "paltry" a sum.

The US cannot hope to counter Chinese influence in Africa when its new international development arm can muster only six percent of the total value of China's investments in the developing world, Prof Bhala wrote last week on the Bloomberg news agency's opinion website.

Oct. 6

Did Saudis Murder Prominent Journalist?

jamal kahshoggiwashington post logoWashington Post, Turkey concludes Saudi journalist Khashoggi killed by ‘murder’ team, sources say, Kareem Fahim, Oct. 6, 2018. Turkey has concluded that Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent journalist from Saudi Arabia, was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul earlier this week by a Saudi team sent “specifically for the murder,” two people with knowledge of the probe said Saturday.

Turkish investigators believe a 15-member team “came from Saudi Arabia. It was a preplanned murder,” said one of the people. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation.

recep erdogan with flagTurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, shown in a file photo, was expected to make a statement on the case on Sunday. Saudi Arabia had vehemently denied that Khashoggi was detained after he entered the consulate.

In an interview with Bloomberg last week, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, below at right, said Khashoggi had left the consulate shortly after he arrived on Tuesday. Saudi officials have yet to provide any evidence for that assertion.

mohammad bin salman cropped fileKhashoggi’s disappearance has drawn attention to Prince Salman’s crackdowns on his critics. It also threatened to deepen a rift between Saudi Arabia and Turkey, both regional powers that have competed for influence in the region.

Khashoggi, who writes for the Washington Post’s Global Opinions section, visited the consulate Tuesday to obtain documents related to his upcoming wedding, according to his fiancee and friends.

The killing, if confirmed, would mark a stunning escalation of Saudi Arabia’s effort to silence dissent.

Under direction from the crown prince, Saudi authorities have carried out hundreds of arrests under the banner of national security, rounding up clerics, business executives and even women’s rights advocates.

But analysts said Khashoggi might have been considered especially dangerous by the Saudi leadership because he was not a longtime dissident, but rather a pillar of the Saudi establishment who was close to its ruling circles for decades, had worked as an editor at Saudi news outlets and had been an adviser to a former Saudi intelligence chief.

More on Kavanaugh

washington post logoPresident Donald Trump officialWashington Post, ‘Ultimate fighter’: How Trump helped shift momentum in favor of Kavanaugh, Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker, Sean Sullivan and Seung Min Kim, Oct. 6, 2018 (print edition). Relying on a hardball approach that left Democrats shaken and defeated, Republican leaders plowed through the chaos of the last few weeks to bring the Supreme Court nomination of Brett M. Kavanaugh to the cusp of confirmation.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The High Court Brought Low, The Editorial Board, Oct. 6, 2018 (print edition). Don’t let Donald Trump and Brett Kavanaugh have the last word about American justice.

The task of plugging the holes and patching the rents in the court’s legitimacy now falls to the justices themselves, mainly to Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. (shown at left) He john roberts omust know that every decision of political significance rendered by a 5-to-4 majority that includes a Justice Kavanaugh will, at the very least, appear to be the product of bias and vengeance. If he cares about the integrity of the court as much as he claims to, the chief will do everything in his power to steer the court away from cases, and rulings, that could deepen the nation’s political divide.

There’s work the rest of us can do as well.

We can, for one thing, find ways in our own workplaces and communities to assure victims of sexual assault that they will be respected if they come forward, even if so many national political figures are dismissive of them.

And if we disapprove of the direction of the courts, we can put the lessons Mitch McConnell taught us to work — and vote.

It’s worth noting that, of the five justices picked by Republicans, including Judge Kavanaugh, four were nominated by presidents who first took office after losing the popular vote. And the slim majority of senators who said they would vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh on Saturday represent tens of millions fewer Americans than the minority of senators who voted to reject him. The nation’s founders were wise to design the court as a counter-majoritarian institution, but they couldn’t have been picturing this.

Most Americans are not where this Senate majority is. They do not support President Trump. They do not approve of relentless partisanship and disregard for the integrity of democratic institutions. And they have the power to call their government to account.

washington post logoWashington Post, Demonstrators at Capitol, Supreme Court protest confirmation, Joe Heim, Steve Hendrix and Mike DeBonis​, Oct. 6, 2018. Rage and frustration filled the streets of Capitol Hill before and after the Senate voted Saturday afternoon to confirm Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

The crowd grew and a large group of protesters marched up the Rotunda steps on the East Front of the Capitol. There, 150 protesters were arrested and charged with “crowding, obstructing, or incommoding,” according to a statement from the U.S. Capitol Police. Later, police cleared the plaza, and demonstrators moved across the street to the front of the Supreme Court.

On the Supreme Court steps, speakers addressed the crowd through a pop-up public address system, barreling through a roll call of those they blame for Kavanaugh’s ascent, including Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). But the loudest howls of anger from the crowd came at the mention of Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and what a speaker called her “garbage speech full of lies.”

The speakers exhorted the overwhelmingly anti-Kavanaugh crowd to take their anger to midterm voting booths on Nov. 6.

washington post logoWashington Post, Grassley suggests absence of GOP women on Judiciary Committee is due to its heavy workload, Paul Kane, Oct. 6, 2018 (print edition). Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) told reporters that the Senate Judiciary Committee’s inability to attract Republican women might be caused by its heavy workload, a remark the panel’s chairman tried to retract a few minutes later.

susan collins profile“It’s a lot of work — maybe they don’t want to do it,” Grassley told the Wall Street Journal, NBC News and other outlets, as he headed toward the Senate floor for a speech by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), left.

The committee, which has turned into a partisan hotbed in the past five years, has never had a Republican woman serve on it, even as the Senate’s ranks have doubled from three to six female GOP senators in recent years.

That omission drew more scrutiny during the second round of hearings for Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, during which committee Republicans hired a female prosecutor from Arizona to question Christine Blasey Ford about her allegations that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her 36 years ago.

chuck grassley screams at patrick leahy confidential records screenshot

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) screams at his longtime Democratic colleague Pat Leahy of Vermont during the Kavanaugh hearing, in which Leahy and other Democrats have accused the nominee of perjuring himself by denying use of stolen Democratic Senate documents (screenshot).

washington post logomitch mcconnell2Washington Post, The politicians and players whose legacies will be shaped by the Kavanaugh fight, Amber Phillips, Oct. 6, 2018 (print edition). How they navigated the emotionally fraught Supreme Court nomination battle could define their careers. This was a Supreme Court nomination that will go down in the history books. If confirmed, Kavanaugh will have overcome accusations of sexual misconduct and assault, questions about his judicial temperament and surprise delays to his confirmation.

Roll Call, Brett Kavanaugh to Be Rare Beneficiary of Senate Paired Voting, Niels Lesniewski, Oct. 6, 2018. Votes of Republicans Lisa Murkowski and Steve Daines will be offset [With 50-48 confirmation margin projected and no GOP "no" votes].

When the Senate votes to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court on Saturday, two senators will engage in a practice that’s all but died out. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the only member of the Republican Conference opposed to elevating the current D.C. Circuit Court judge to the Supreme Court, announced Friday that ordinarily she would vote “no.” Instead, Murkowski intends to vote “present” in order to offset the absence of Republican Sen. Steve Daines, who will be in Montana to attend to his daughter’s wedding.

The vote on confirmation is expected late afternoon on Saturday.

lisa murkowski oMurkowski said in her floor speech that she hoped after the bitter debate over Kavanaugh that the Senate could take a few steps back toward a more respectful tone.

“While I voted no on cloture today, and I will be a no tomorrow,” she said Friday evening, “I will, in the final tally, be asked to be recorded as present, and I do this because a friend, a colleague of ours, is in Montana this evening and tomorrow at just about the same hour that we’re going to be voting; he’s going to be walking his daughter down the aisle and he won’t be present to vote, and so I have extended this as a courtesy to my friend.”

“It will not change the outcome of the vote, but I do hope that it reminds us that we can take very small, very small, steps to be gracious with one another and maybe those small, gracious steps can lead to more,” Murkowski said.

Inside DC: Upending Civil Service

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump replaces federal personnel director after just seven months, Eric Yoder and Lisa Rein, Oct. 6, 2018 (print edition). Jeff Tien Han Pon clashed with the administration over its planned revamp of the Office of Personnel Management.

kirstjen nielsen file testimony

pogo logo squareProject On Government Oversight (POGO), DHS Secretary Nielsen Misled Congress, Danielle Brian, Oct. 6, 2018 (referencing Oct. 2 letter). POGO and Open the Government sent a letter to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs with evidence that Department of Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen gave materially misleading, if not false, testimony during a hearing on May 15, 2018.

During that hearing, Secretary Nielsen [shown above in a file photo] stated to Senator Kamala Harris, “[W]e do not have a policy to separate children from their parents.” Nielsen stated that any separations that did occur were done solely for purposes of prosecution, not “for purposes of deterrence.”

POGO, in conjunction with Open the Government, recently obtained a document in response to a Freedom of Information Act request that demonstrates that Nielsen personally signed off on a policy of separating parents and children to deter others from migrating to the United States.

ISIS Threat

isis killer new jihadi john

Image of purported ISIS English-language propagandist (file photo)

SouthFront, Analysis: Why ISIS Propaganda Is Still Successful Despite Group’s Defeat In Syria and Iraq, J. Hawk, Oct. 6, 2018. The Islamic State or ISIS is like any other social movement. It supplies a range of services that are otherwise not provided to specific groups of people. These are chiefly the Sunni populations of the Middle East and, to a lesser extent, the growing and alienated mass of young Muslims in Europe.

In the instance of failing or failed states like Afghanistan, Yemen, post-US attack Iraq, Syria, and Libya, even the most basic needs like safety and security cannot be taken for granted. As brutal as ISIS may seem, to a population living in a state of anarchy it may appear as salvation.

From the perspective of belonging and self-esteem, the remarkable military effectiveness of ISIS came as a welcome change to many Arabs who have experienced a series of defeats of incompetent Arab armies by Western and Israeli adversaries.

Belonging and self-esteem are also behind the so-called “ISIS-inspired” attacks in Europe and the United States, which are usually perpetrated by young Muslim males who were either born or came of age in Western countries. These terrorists belong to a group which finds it hardest to integrate after moving to a new country whose culture is both attractive and at the same time alien and inaccessible.

Thus far, the only success at practically eradicating an ISIS-like entity was scored by Russia against the Caucasus Emirate in Chechnya and Dagestan thanks to a comprehensive array of military, political, and economic measures. Unfortunately, Russia does not really have allies other than Syria and Iran in that fight, though that may change should ISIS activity intensify on or within China’s borders. Therefore there is no reason to expect the ISIS phenomenon will fully disappear in the years or even decades to come.

SCOTUS Vote / Politics

joe manchin headshotPalmer Report, Analysis: The real reason Joe Manchin is voting “yes” on Brett Kavanaugh, Bill Palmer, Oct. 6, 2018. Here’s the thing about red state Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, right: I don’t like how he voted on Brett Kavanaugh, and clearly, neither do most Democrats and liberals around the nation.

But the circumstances of his vote are being wildly and fundamentally misunderstood as they relate to politics. Before finalizing your opinion of Manchin’s vote, it’s important to understand why he did what he did.

Palmer Report, Analysis: Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell makes unusual move against Devin Nunes, Tim Faulkner, Oct. 6, 2018. While it is not unusual for sitting members of Congress to pen articles for local or national news sites, writing an op-ed to call out a fellow House of Representatives member for protecting a traitor to America is extremely rare. It is even more rare when the person being protected is the President of the United States. Only under extreme conditions, where the Representative felt it necessary to alert the public, would something like this occur. It just did.

eric swalwell o SmallRep. Eric Swalwell, the Democratic House member for California’s 15th congressional district, published a story on Friday in the Fresno Bee titled “Nunes buried evidence on Russian meddling to protect Trump. I know because I’m on the committee.”

This is Nunes’ hometown paper. The article lists the numerous times that Devin Nunes, right, House Intelligence devin nunes screenshotCommittee Chairman, prevented Swalwell and other Democrats from releasing information obtained during their investigation into the Trump-Russia scandal to the public.

While Swalwell’s frustration is easily understood, it’s important to remember how many criminals are being protected by Republicans in Congress.

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. General Considered Nuclear Response in Vietnam War, Cables Show, David E. Sanger, Oct. 6, 2018. In one of the darkest moments of the Vietnam War, the top American military commander in Saigon activated a plan in 1968 to move nuclear weapons to South Vietnam until he was overruled by President Lyndon B. Johnson, according to recently declassified documents cited in a new history of wartime presidential decisions.

The documents reveal a long-secret set of preparations by the commander, Gen. William C. Westmoreland, to have nuclear weapons at hand should American forces find themselves on the brink of defeat at Khe Sanh, one of the fiercest battles of the war.

Oct. 5

Supreme Court Battle

supreme court building

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Supreme Court’s Legitimacy Crisis, Michael Tomasky (editor of "Democracy: A Journal of Ideas" and a contributing New York Times opinion writer), Oct. 5, 2018. It’s not about Brett Kavanaugh’s alleged behavior. It’s about justices who do not represent the will of the majority..

Donald Trump won just under 46 percent of the popular vote and 2.8 million fewer votes than Hillary Clinton. And Judge Gorsuch was confirmed by a vote of 54-45. According to Kevin McMahon of Trinity College, who wrote all this up this year in his paper “Will the Supreme Court Still ‘Seldom Stray Very Far’?: Regime Politics in a Polarized America,” the 54 senators who voted to elevate Judge Gorsuch had received around 54 million votes, and the 45 senators who opposed him got more than 73 million. That’s 58 percent to 42 percent.

And if the Senate confirms Brett Kavanaugh, the vote is likely to fall along similar lines, meaning that we will soon have two Supreme Court justices who deserve to be called “minority-majority”: justices who are part of a five-vote majority on the bench but who were nominated and confirmed by a president and a Senate who represent the will of a minority of the American people.

And consider this further point. Two more current members of the dominant conservative bloc, while nominated by presidents who did win the popular vote, were confirmed by senators who collectively won fewer popular votes than the senators who voted against them.

They are Clarence Thomas, who was confirmed in 1991 by 52 senators who won just 48 percent of the popular vote, and Samuel Alito, confirmed in 2006 by 58 senators who garnered, again, 48 percent of the vote. This is a severe legitimacy crisis for the Supreme Court.

The court, as Professor McMahon notes, was intended never to stray far from the mainstream of American political life. The fact that justices represented that mainstream and were normally confirmed by lopsided votes gave the court’s decisions their legitimacy. It’s also why past chief justices worked to avoid 5-4 decisions on controversial matters: They wanted Americans to see that the court was unified when it laid down a major new precedent.

But now, in an age of 5-4 partisan decisions, we’re on the verge of having a five-member majority who figure to radically rewrite our nation’s laws. And four of them will have been narrowly approved by senators representing minority will.

Judge Kavanaugh’s alleged youthful behavior is a scandal, but this legitimacy crisis is one too, and with arguably greater consequences. Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, may not care about them. But Chief Justice John Roberts, and for that matter Brett Kavanaugh, surely should.

World Crisis Radio, Kavanaugh nomination as culmination of a fascist movement in the United States, Dr. Webster G. Tarpley (historian, author, commentator, shown at right), Oct. 5, webster tarpley podium22018. Mussolini's was a normal government...it was not an open terroristic dictatorship....but of course all that changed....So where do we find ourselves?....In the case of Italy, it took about 20-25 months.

In the case of Kavanaugh, they picked the worst possible guy. And of course it's not just him, you've already got four votes on this court that might go along with the fascist program....The way to control this dictatorship is to control the Supreme Court because then you can decide what the laws are.....

Roll Call, Kavanaugh Nomination Clears Key Hurdle, Final Vote Teed Up, John T. Bennett, Oct. 5, 2018. Embattled federal judge Brett Kavanaugh moved one step closer to becoming the ninth Supreme Court justice and providing a decisive fifth conservative vote Friday when the Senate voted to tee up a final up-or-down vote.

lisa murkowski oIn a vote that broke mostly along party lines after several deeply partisan weeks that culminated with a FBI investigation into sexual misconduct charges against Kavanaugh dating to his high school days, the chamber voted to end debate on his nomination, 51-49.

There were a couple of party defections. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, right, voted against cutting off debate, while Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., voted “yes” to cut off debate. The result means the Senate is poised to decide his fate in a high-stakes Saturday vote.

Roll Call, Susan Collins Will Vote ‘Yes’ on Kavanaugh Nomination, Staff report, Oct. 5, 2018. Maine Republican had kept her position on the Supreme Court nomination under wraps. Sen. Susan Collins will vote “yes” on the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, one of the last remaining hurdles to the high court susan collins ofor President Donald Trump’s nominee.

Earlier on Friday, the Maine Republican voted to cut off debate on Kavanaugh’s nomination, helping her leadership clear a key hurdle and setting up a final confirmation vote on Saturday.

joe manchin oRoll Call, Joe Manchin a Yes on Kavanaugh Nomination and Might Be Only Democrat, Staff report, Oct. 5, 2018. Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., will vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, and might end up the only Democrat to do so.

“I have reservations about this vote given the serious accusations against Judge Kavanaugh and the temperament he displayed in the hearing. And my heart goes out to anyone who has experienced any type of sexual assault in their life," Manchin said in a statement. "However, based on all of the information I have available to me, including the recently democratic donkey logocompleted FBI report, I have found Judge Kavanaugh to be a qualified jurist who will follow the Constitution and determine cases based on the legal findings before him. I do hope that Judge Kavanaugh will not allow the partisan nature this process took to follow him onto the court.”

jerrold nadler o Smallny times logoNew York Times, House Democrat Promises Kavanaugh Investigation if Party Wins Control, Nicholas Fandos and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Oct. 5, 2018. Representative Jerrold Nadler said he was prepared to look into accusations of sexual misconduct and perjury.

House Democrats will open an investigation into accusations of sexual misconduct and perjury against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh if they win control of the House in November, Representative Jerrold Nadler, the New York Democrat in line to be the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said on Friday.

democratic donkey logoSpeaking on the eve of Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote this weekend, Mr. Nadler said that there was evidence that Senate Republicans and the F.B.I. had overseen a “whitewash” investigation of the allegations and that the legitimacy of the Supreme Court was at stake. He sidestepped the issue of impeachment.

“It is not something we are eager to do,” Mr. Nadler said in an interview. “But the Senate having failed to do its proper constitutionally mandated job of advise and consent, we are going to have to do something to provide a check and balance, to protect the rule of law and to protect the legitimacy of one of our most important institutions.”

jacob hornberger headshotFuture of Freedom Foundation, The Looming Degradation of the Supreme Court, Jacob G. Hornberger, right, Oct. 5, 2018. With Republican senators dutifully lining up to support President Trump’s nomination to the Supreme Court, it is increasingly likely that conservative lawyer and judge Brett Kavanaugh will be confirmed as an associate justice of the Supreme Court. At the same time, in its determination to “win,” the Republican Party will have brought not only shame to itself but also a degradation in prestige to the highest court of the land.

A couple of days ago, more than 500 law professors from more than 160 law schools across the nation had signed a public letter opposing Kavanaugh’s appointment. As a trial lawyer for 12 years before I joined the libertarian movement and who still is authorized to practice law in my home state of Texas, I was absolutely stunned.

In all my life, I had never seen that happen. Sure, law professors have their own political philosophies and affiliations but I had never seen so many of them come together to take a public stand against a particular Supreme Court nominee, especially one who sits as a judge on the federal court of appeals.

Imagine my shock when that number increased a couple of days later to 2,400 law professors opposing the Kavanaugh nomination! The term used by the New York Times expressed my reaction: “Incomprehensible!”

aba logoThat was on top of the withdrawal of support for Kavanaugh’s nomination immediately after he testified by the American Bar Association, which has 400,000 members, and the dean of the Yale Law School, where Kavanaugh got his law degree. What was phenomenal about this was that both the ABA and the Yale law school dean had previously supported Kavanaugh’s appointment.

john paul stevens scotus photo portraitThen, in what I believe is also an unprecedented act, a retired Supreme Court justice, John Paul Stevens, right, came out and declared that Kavanaugh lacks the required temperament to be a Supreme Court justice, which is what those 2,400 law professors are also saying.

Contrary to what conservative supporters of Kavanaugh have maintained, the primary issue in the Kavanaugh controversy does not revolve around the issue of whether a lawyer’s actions as a teenager should disqualify him from later serving on the Supreme Court. That, of course, is a interesting issue, but it isn’t the issue at hand. If Kavanaugh had confessed to sexually assaulting Christine Blasey Ford as a 17-year-old, expressed remorse for it, apologized, and sought forgiveness, then the Senate would be faced with that issue: Should what he did 36 years ago disqualify him from serving on the highest court in the land?

christine blasey ford high schoolInstead, there are three primary issues in this controversy: (1) Did Kavanaugh commit the sexual assault on Christine Blasey Ford (shown as a schoolgirl) and, if so, should that make a difference with respect to his appointment to the Supreme Court? (2) Did he commit perjury with his denial of having committed the offense and, equally important, with respect to other matters in his sworn testimony and, if so, should that make a difference to his appointment to the Supreme Court? and (3) Does Kavanaugh have the necessary temperament to serve as an associate justice on the Supreme Court?

As the controversy has unfolded, it has become painfully clear that perjury just isn’t important to conservatives, at least to conservatives who aren’t lawyers. Time and time again, in addressing the controversy, they ether have glossed over the possibility that Kavanaugh committed perjury or made it clear that it just doesn’t matter to them. It’s no big deal. Let’s just have a quick, 3-day, cursory, sham investigation, confirm the guy, and then “move on.”

Kavanaugh's Father Linked To Cancer Risks

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Exclusive: Kavanaugh Father-Son Cancer Powder Keg, Doug Vaughan, Oct. 5, 2018. If Justice Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed by the Senate, sooner or later he may be asked to weigh some damning evidence — that his own father advocated for a product that he knew was carcinogenic to both mothers and fetuses. Unless he recuses himself.

The ironies are piquant: While the son attended private, single-sex religious schools and adopted the traditional Catholic opposition to abortion, and even birth control, on the grounds the government should regulate women’s use of their own bodies and reproduction, the father made millions from the industry that marketed and sold female personal hygiene products — while keeping the government from guarding the consumers’ health and safety.

It’s no exaggeration that, if Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed, stuff like baby powder will have smoothed his slide into a seat on the highest court in the land.

More than 10,000 active claims in US courts, mostly by women, allege that they got cancer from regular use of talcum products like baby powder. In one case last summer, a jury in Missouri awarded $4.7 billion to a group of 20 such women who sued the biggest manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson — for promoting its products while hiding evidence of the risks to women, their reproductive organs, and their babies.

Sooner or later, one of these cases is likely to come to the Supreme Court. If he’s confirmed by the Senate, and if he fails to recuse himself, Justice Brett Kavanaugh will be asked to consider evidence that his father, Ed, helped J&J market such products — even though they knew they were carcinogenic. Kavanaugh Sr.’s former employer is one of the named defendants in some of the biggest class-action cases filed so far.

Roll Call, Kavanaugh Protesters Ignore Capitol Barricades Ahead of Saturday Vote, Katherine Tully-McManus, Oct. 6, 2018. Protesters broke through Capitol Police barricades and rushed up the steps to the Capitol Rotunda Saturday afternoon amid large demonstrations ahead of a Senate vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

The metal barricades were erected Thursday to keep demonstrators on specific areas of the Capitol grounds. Security has been heightened on Capitol Hill in recent weeks due in part to huge numbers of protesters trying to access Senators to voice their views on the nominations. 101 protesters were arrested Friday.

Supreme 'Deep State'

World Crisis Radio, Kavanaugh nomination as culmination of a fascist movement in the United States, Dr. Webster G. Tarpley (historian, author, commentator, shown at right), Oct. 5, webster tarpley podium22018. Mussolini's was a normal government...it was not an open terroristic dictatorship....but of course all that changed....So where do we find ourselves?....In the case of Italy, it took about 20-25 months.

In the case of Kavanaugh, they picked the worst possible guy. And of course it's not just him, you've already got four votes on this court that might go along with the fascist program....The way to control this dictatorship is to control the Supreme Court because then you can decide what the laws are.....

Global Research, Opinion: High Crimes and Misdemeanours of Kavanaugh and the Senate-Trump Faction. Step-by-step Overthrow of the Rule of Law, John McMurtry and Matthew Stanton, Oct. 5, 2018. Despite the historic stakes of the ram-through appointment to the Supreme Court of the United States of a serial liar and alleged early rapist, who loudly denounces his Senate questioners as a “left-wing conspiracy” – sniffing all the time as his habit – there has been no legal analysis of his abetted crimes of persistent false statements and declarations, and factional subversion of the rule of law and the US Constitution itself.

As law and moral philosophy professors writing just as the White-House-counsel controlled FBI ‘investigation’ is hidden under cover from citizens and the press, we are moved by duty to explain what has so far been lost in media melodrama, political cover-up at the highest levels, he-says-she-says reductions, and the politics of effectively usurping the rule of law in the United States.

As a branch of government it is unique from the other two branches of government – the legislative. and executive branches – in that the supreme Justices are arbiters of what is allowed or prevented by the US Constitution as the ultimate source of the rule of law in America.

What if the entire process is led by a long train of proved false declarations, persistently intentional misdirection, and perjury under oath with no restraint?

What if in all evident respects the process and appointment to the highest judicial office of the land operates like a criminal conspiracy with a vice-grip on all three branches of government – in the words of Madison, the very definition of ‘tyranny’ – with now the Supreme Court itself fixed to ignore and override basic issues of justice and morality for the next generation in a situation of cumulatively unprecedented social and environmental crisis?

We have already seen the unraveling of even the need to appear objective, disinterested, above the political mob mentality and thuggery of this ruling faction in one long train of abuses, false statements and lying with impunity under oath. The reckless and grasping nature of the Kavanaugh appointment, in short, shows an unbound faction of power treating its position of tyrannical rule as its personal property and right.
Step-by-step overthrow of the rule of law

What has happened in Washington DC with the Kavanaugh hearings is of grave concern to anyone who believes in the democratic rule of law over a moneyed faction fixing all legal process. What this hearing and FBI investigation now controlled by the White House Counsel and ranking Senate Republicans shows is a series of non-stop false statements and actions that attack the very heart of our system of laws and poison the soul of the nation.

In our considered legal and moral opinion, Kavanaugh’s continual false declarations and prevarications are grounds for impeachment in even his current position of Federal Court Judge. In our judgement, with which many will agree, Trump’s candidate Kavanaugh has incontestably demonstrated unfitness for any judicial or public office. His speech and actions under oath, to the US Senate, is enough to be disbarred and lose his law license.

Kavanaugh has been so continuously coached from the highest offices of the land to act above the lawin every regard that this corrupt appointment reaches into the depths of a ‘tyrannical faction’ now in control of our federal government and institutions. It has so overreached in lawless and naked abuse of power that only keeping the public in ignorance can allow it to continue into the mid-term elections this November – the acid test of US democracy which is now before us.

Cops, Crime, Courts

ny times logoNew York Times, White Officer Convicted of Murder in the Death of Black Teenager in Chicago, Mitch Smith, Monica Davey and Timothy Williams, Oct. 5, 2018. Jason Van Dyke, the police officer who fired 16 shots into Laquan McDonald in 2014, is guilty of second-degree murder, a jury said Friday. Video of the shooting led to upheaval in local government and the Police Department and became a symbol for decades of mistrust between Chicago officers and black residents.

laquan mcdonald family photoThe white Chicago police officer who fired 16 shots into Laquan McDonald (shown in a family photo), a black teenager, is guilty of second-degree murder, a jury said Friday.

The defendant, Jason Van Dyke, became the first Chicago police officer convicted of murder for an on-duty shooting in nearly 50 years. His case has been followed closely in this city since dashboard-camera video of the shooting was released in 2015.

Jurors also convicted Officer Van Dyke on 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm, one for every shot he fired at Laquan. Officer Van Dyke, who was escorted out of the packed courtroom with his hands folded behind his back, could face decades in prison when sentenced.

#MeToo Goes Global?

washington post logoWashington Post, A year after it began, has #MeToo become a global movement? Karla Adam and William Booth, Oct. 5, 2018. In some countries, the conversation about sexual harassment — and worse — has toppled powerful men. In others, the movement has all but fizzled out — or never took off to begin with.

Media News: Kidnapped Reporter?

ap logoAssociated Press via Washington Post, Post prints empty column for Saudi writer missing in Turkey, Ayse Wieting and Jon Gambrell, Oct. 5, 2018. The Washington Post printed a blank column in its newspaper Friday in solidarity with a Saudi contributor who went missing while on a visit to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, raising concerns about his safety.

Separately, the Post’s editorial board called on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to ensure writer Jamal Khashoggi “is free and able to continue his work,” which included writing columns critical of the upstart royal and the kingdom’s policies.

“His criticism, voiced over the past year, most surely rankles Mohammed bin Salman, who was elevated to crown prince last year and has carried out a wide-ranging campaign to silence dissent while trying to modernize the kingdom,” the Post editorial read. “Among those in his prisons for political speech are clerics, bloggers, journalists and activists. He imprisoned women who agitated for the right to drive, a right that was granted even as they were punished.”

The Post’s empty column in Friday’s edition bore Khashoggi’s byline and the headline: “A missing voice.”

Khashoggi, a 59-year-old veteran journalist who has lived in self-imposed exile in the U.S. since Prince Mohammed’s rise to power, disappeared Tuesday while on a visit to the consulate to get paperwork done to be married to his Turkish fiancée. The Saudi Consulate insists Khashoggi left its building, contradicting Turkish officials who say they believe he is still there. Turkey summoned the Saudi ambassador Thursday over the writer’s disappearance.

Supporters held a small rally Friday outside of the consulate.

Khashoggi’s disappearance threatens to further harm relations between Turkey and Saudi Arabia, which are on opposite sides of an ongoing four-nation boycott of Qatar and other regional crises.

U.S. Mercenaries As War 'Solution?'

washington post logoerik princeWashington Post, Blackwater founder pushes to privatize Afghan war as conflict drags on, Karen DeYoung, Shane Harris and Dan Lamothe, Oct. 5, 2018 (print edition). Many in Kabul and Washington believe Erik Prince, right, brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Trump campaign contributor, has a willing audience in the president, who is known to be frustrated with the slow progress of his Afghanistan strategy.

The Aristocrats

david sirotaThe Guardian, Opinion: America's new aristocracy lives in an accountability-free zone, David Sirota, right, Oct. 5, 2018. Accountability is for the little people, immunity is for the ruling class. If this ethos seems familiar, that is because it has preceded some of the darkest moments in human history.

When the former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling was released from prison a few weeks ago, the news conjured memories of a corporate scandal that now seems almost quaint – and it was also a reminder that Enron executives were among the last politically connected criminals to face any serious consequences for institutionalized fraud.

Since Skilling’s conviction 12 years ago, our society has been fundamentally altered by a powerful political movement whose goal is not merely another court seat, tax cut or election victory. This movement’s objective is far more revolutionary: the creation of an accountability-free zone for an ennobled aristocracy, even as the rest of the population is treated to law-and-order rhetoric and painfully punitive policy.

Let’s remember that in less than two decades, America has experienced the Iraq war, the financial crisis, intensifying economic stratification, an opioid plague, persistent gender and racial inequality and now seemingly unending climate change-intensified disasters. While the victims have been ravaged by these crime sprees, crises and calamities, the perpetrators have largely avoided arrest, inquisition, incarceration, resignation, public shaming and ruined careers.

That is because the United States has been turned into a safe space for a permanent ruling class. Inside the rarefied refuge, the key players who created this era’s catastrophes and who embody the most pernicious pathologies have not just eschewed punishment – many of them have actually maintained or even increased their social, financial and political status.

The effort to construct this elite haven has tied together so many seemingly disparate news events, suggesting that there is a method in the madness. Consider this past month that culminated with the dramatic battle over the judicial nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.

U.S. Economy

ny times logous labor department logoNew York Times, With 8 Years of Job Gains, Unemployment Is Lowest Since 1969, Ben Casselman, Oct. 5, 2018. The Labor Department released its official hiring and unemployment figures for September on Friday, providing the latest snapshot of the American economy. The unemployment rate fell to a nearly five-decade low in September, punctuating a remarkable rebound in the ten years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers set off a global financial crisis.

The 134,000 jobs that employers added in September reflected the slowest pace of growth in a year, and the growth in wages cooled slightly from August.

#MeToo

denis mukwege nadia murad nobel

washington post logoWashington Post, Nobel Peace Prize awarded to two figures bringing attention to sexual violence in conflicts, Chico Harlan and Max Bearak, Oct. 5, 2018. Nadia Murad, an Iraqi Yazidi who was kidnapped and raped by Islamic State militants, has become an outspoken activist on sexual slavery and human trafficking. Denis Mukwege, a Congolese gynecologist, has treated thousands of victims of gang rape at his hospital.

More on Kavanaugh

Palmer Report, Analysis: Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump, pardons, the Supreme Court, and Gamble v. United States, Bill Palmer, Oct. 5, 2018. Some of you are instantly recalling all the times you’ve seen Gamble v. United States mentioned by fellow Resistance members in the comments sections of your posts about Brett Kavanaugh. This case isn’t as impactful as some commenters have come to fear.

It’s about a guy who got hit with federal and state charges for the same crime, and thinks it’s a violation of his constitutional right against double jeopardy. If the Supreme Court rules in Gamble’s favor, there is the fear that Trump could simply begin pardoning his Trump-Russia co-conspirators, and without the threat of state level charges, they would have no reason to cut plea deals against him. But it’s not nearly as simple as that.

There are many, many reasons to be concerned about Brett Kavanaugh’s now-inevitable presence on the Supreme Court, brief as it may end up being. But even if Kavanaugh votes in favor of Gamble, it’s still not clear that there are five votes lined up for this somewhat unique case, which doesn’t fall along traditional ideological lines. The bottom line: there are far bigger concerns right now than Gamble.

Roll Call, High Tension on the Hill Leading Up to Kavanaugh Vote, Thomas McKinless, Oct. 5, 2018. Roll Call reporters Niels Lesniewski and Katherine Tully-McManus break down the high-stress day on the Hill on Friday that surrounded the Senate vote to advance Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

ny times logoNew York Times, Senate Moves Toward Showdown Vote on Kavanaugh Confirmation, Nicholas Fandos and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Oct. 5, 2018.  Republican leaders were increasingly confident that the Senate would narrowly vote to cut off debate on Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s nomination and move to a final confirmation on Saturday. But with four senators, including three Republicans, still undecided, Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation was still not assured.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: If Kavanaugh is confirmed, impeachment could follow. Here’s how, Deanna Paul, Oct. 5, 2018 (print edition). Whether Kavanaugh returns to the D.C. Circuit or, as appears increasingly likely, is confirmed to the Supreme Court, impeachment proceedings could follow. They would be contingent on Democrats regaining control of the House, the only body that can bring an article of impeachment.

brett kavanaugh“Much of Washington has spent the week focusing on whether Judge Brett Kavanaugh should be confirmed to the Supreme Court,” Lisa Graves wrote in a Slate column on Sept. 7, more than a week before the New Yorker published the then-anonymous sexual assault claims of Christine Blasey Ford. “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.”

Graves wrote that Kavanaugh, right, had misled the Judiciary Committee about the stolen documents that Graves had written as chief counsel for nominations for Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) when he was the chairman of the committee. Kavanaugh, she wrote, “lied. Under oath. And he did so repeatedly.” Therefore, she concluded, “he should not be confirmed. In fact, by his own standard, he should clearly be impeached.”

More On Susan Collins Vote

george hw bush and son

ryan grim CustomThe Intercept: Analysis: Sen. Susan Collins and Brett Kavanaugh Are Both in the Bush Family Inner Circle. That Helps Explain Her Vote, Ryan Grim, right, and Akela Lacy, Oct. 5, 2018. The announcement Friday by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, that she would vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court was about family. Namely, the Bush family.

George W. Bush and his father, George H.W. Bush [shown above in a file photo] have both been welcomed into the ranks of the resistance to President Donald Trump, but their most consequential action since his election has been to help lift Kavanaugh into the Supreme Court.

susan collins oCollins, left, is an honorary member of the Bush family. She got her start in politics as a congressional aide to Rep.-turned-Sen. William Cohen. The Maine Republican was close to George H.W. Bush, who has long maintained a presence in the state. At the end of the first Bush administration, Collins was appointed New England regional director of the Small Business Administration. In 1996, she was elected to the Senate to replace her mentor, Cohen.

Kavanaugh, too, has longstanding ties to the Bush family. He served as an attorney for George W. Bush’s campaign, playing a major role in the legal battle between Bush and Al Gore. He then served as staff secretary in the Bush White House, a position of intimate influence — the staff secretary attends most Oval Office meetings and is a trusted sounding board for the president.

In the weeks after Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault during his high school and college years, Bush personally called wavering senators, lobbying on the nominee’s behalf. Collins, who had said she would not vote to confirm a Supreme Court justice who would overturn Roe v. Wade, was one of those wavering senators. In August, HuffPost reported, citing a source close to Collins’s staff, that Collins had assured the White House that she would support Kavanaugh if he were nominated. (She has denied that.)

Collins has since said that the decision was a difficult one, though there was no hint of that agonizing in her Senate floor speech Friday, which was a full-throated defense of Kavanaugh and a prosecution of Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations.

In the end, Collins suggested that she hoped Kavanaugh’s nomination would restore the faith of Americans in the Supreme Court, easing partisan tensions and decreasing the number of 5-4 decisions the court handed down. It’s difficult to rationalize the idea that a nomination as contentious as this would usher a return to a more harmonious era of bipartisan collaboration.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The sheer insanity of what Susan Collins just did, Bill Palmer, Oct. 5, 2018. Why? It’s the only question left to ask after GOP Senator Susan Collins not only voted for screaming liar and alleged serial sex offender Brett Kavanaugh, but made a point of doing it in the most jarring and self defeating manner possible. It raises uncomfortable and scary questions about what might really be going on here.

susan collins official SmallSusan Collins has never been a party loyalist. In the past two years alone, she’s cast multiple deciding votes against the GOP on major issues, including the attempted Obamacare repeal, and the original Senate Intelligence Committee decision to investigate the Trump-Russia scandal. So no matter how many social media posts might claim that “Collins voted this way because she always votes the party line,” that’s a factually false statement. No, this has to be about something else.

If Susan Collins had decided that she needed to cast a very unpopular “yes” vote on Kavanaugh for the sake of her reelection prospects (translation: billionaire conservative donors), she could have quietly cast her vote and hoped people might forget by 2020. Instead, she took outlandish steps to make sure people never forget what she did today. There are simply not enough pro-Trump extremists in Maine to give her even a remote chance at reelection.

One of the meekest people in the Senate knowingly ended her career today with both proverbial middle fingers in the air. It was one of the ugliest things that American politics has ever seen, and it simply made no sense. Is she being blackmailed, or did she just snap today?

Time, 'Such a Slap in the Face.' Sexual Assault Survivors Who Met With Susan Collins Feel Betrayed She'll Vote for Kavanaugh, Charlotte Alter, Oct. 5, 2018. Last Thursday night, time logo ogAmanda O’Brien sat on a bus for 10 hours to get from Maine to Washington D.C. to meet with Sen. Susan Collins and share her opposition to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The bus was full of sexual assault survivors, who shared their stories with their seat mates as they crawled toward the Capitol.

O’Brien, who wore black like the rest of the survivors, tried to prepare herself. When she and a handful of other survivors got to the Senator’s office on Friday, she told Senator Collins that she had been sexually assaulted for years as a young child. She told her because of the impact of the assault, she later became the victim of domestic violence. She told her Senator things she has rarely told anyone, things she would still rather not repeat.

But on Friday afternoon, Collins announced her intention to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh, all but ensuring that Trump’s pick will sit on the Supreme Court, despite Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony that he pinned her to a bed and tried to rape her when they were both in high school. Kavanaugh denies Ford’s allegation.

washington post logoWashington Post, Kavanaugh: I said things I ‘should not have said’ at hearing, Eli Rosenberg, Oct. 5, 2018 (print edition). In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, the judge tacitly acknowledges the questions being raised about his conduct and emotions.

washington post logoWashington Post, The rise and the reckoning: Inside Brett Kavanaugh’s circles of influence, Marc Fisher, Ann E. Marimow and Michael Kranish, Oct. 5, 2018 (print edition). The story of President Trump’s embattled choice for the Supreme Court is a classic Washington tale of a young man who grew up surrounded by people in high places, keenly aware of protecting his image. He told a friend in college that he didn’t plan to buy stocks as an adult because he had to avoid conflicts if he wanted to follow in his mother’s footsteps as a judge.

brett kavanaugh 1983 yearbookKavanaugh’s story is also one of the power and insularity of wealth. He grew up in an idyll of country clubs and beach retreats, private schools and public prominence. The only child of a lobbyist and a judge, he had parents who pushed him hard, teachers who assured him that he faced no limits, and friends whose families knew the art of making problems go away quietly.

That Kavanaugh (shown in a prep school yearbook photo) would achieve greatness seemed certain. Some of his classmates called him “The Genius.” They liked him because he was smart and fun. Women found him thoughtful and empathetic. Men said he was a guy’s guy — a walking encyclopedia of sports, a good pal, always up for a beer.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Elizabeth Warren’s new, tantalizing claim about Kavanaugh shows what utter madness this is, Greg Sargent, Oct. 5, 2018. One of the most infuriating aspects of this whole Kavanaugh saga is the degree to which we are flying blind about some of the most fundamental points of disagreement at its core. Making this even worse, it doesn’t have to be this way.

elizabeth warren o purpleOn the Senate floor late Thursday, Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), right, made a new and tantalizing claim about what’s in the FBI documents on Brett M. Kavanaugh that all senators have now reviewed. Senators are severely limited in what they can say about these documents, which are summaries of the interviews that the FBI conducted as part of their renewed background check into Kavanaugh, after Christine Blasey Ford went public with charges that he sexually assaulted her, which led to a host of new claims like that one and others about his drinking at the time.

Warren noted these limitations and said the following (emphasis added):

“Senators have been muzzled. So I will now say three things that committee staff has explained are permissible to say without violating committee rules. … One: This was not a full and fair investigation. It was sharply limited in scope and did not explore the relevant confirming facts. Two: The available documents do not exonerate Mr. Kavanaugh.

And three: the available documents contradict statements Mr. Kavanaugh made under oath. I would like to back up these points with explicit statements from the FBI documents — explicit statements that should be available for the American people to see. But the Republicans have locked the documents behind closed doors.”

Oct. 4

Supreme Court Battle

 ny times logoNew York Times, Two Key Republicans Signal Satisfaction With F.B.I.’s Kavanaugh Inquiry, Nicholas Fandos and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Oct. 4, 2018. Two key undecided senators signaled Thursday that they are satisfied with the F.B.I.’s investigation into allegations of sexual assault against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, and Senate Republican leaders were increasingly confident that he would be confirmed to the Supreme Court.

jeff flake oSenators Jeff Flake of Arizona, right, and Susan Collins of Maine did not say that they will vote for Judge Kavanaugh, President Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee.

But after a closed-door briefing in which Republicans were told that no witnesses corroborated the accounts of Judge Kavanaugh’s main accusers, both made positive remarks. A yes vote from both would secure Judge Kavanaugh’s seat on the highest court in the land.

Roll Call, Amy Schumer, Emily Ratajkowski Among Hundreds Arrested Protesting Kavanaugh, Griffin Connolly, Oct 4, 2018. Demonstrators flocked to Hart Senate Office Building after USCP cordons off East Front. The U.S. Capitol Police arrested hundreds of people protesting Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s pending confirmation in the atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building on Thursday.

Protesters initially planned to hold their rally on the East Front of the Capitol, but USCP cordoned off the area Thursday morning. So the thousands of demonstrators streamed into the Hart building, chanting and singing against Kavanaugh, whom multiple women have accused of sexual assault.

Roll Call, Sen. Steve Daines Would Miss Saturday Kavanaugh Vote for Daughter’s Wedding, Katherine Tully-McManus, Oct. 4, 2018. Montana Republican tells AP he won’t be in D.C. regardless of Senate schedule.

john paul stevens palm springs

Palm Beach Post, Retired Supreme Court Justice: Kavanaugh does not belong on high court, Lulu Ramadan, Oct. 4, 2018. Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens on Thursday said that high court nominee Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, who Stevens once lauded in one of his books, does not belong on the Supreme Court.

Speaking to a crowd of retirees in Boca Raton, Stevens, 98, said Kavanaugh’s performance during a recent Senate confirmation hearing suggested that he lacks the temperament for the job.

Stevens, a lifelong Republican who is known for falling on the liberal side of several judicial rulings, praised Kavanaugh and one of his rulings on a political contribution case in the 2014 book “Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution.”

washington post logojohn paul stevens scotus photo portraitWashington Post, Retired Justice Stevens calls Kavanaugh’s hearing performance disqualifying, Robert Barnes, Oct. 5, 2018 (print edition). Retired Justice John Paul Stevens, shown above, said Thursday that he no longer believes Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh should be confirmed to the Supreme Court, citing Kavanaugh’s heated performance during a Senate hearing last week.

Stevens, 98 (shown at right in a file photo from his years on the court), made the comments in Boca Raton, Fla., before a group of retirees, according to the Palm Beach Post and the journalist who interviewed Stevens at the event.

heidi heitkamp kevin cramer

U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat representing North Dakota, and her Republican opponent in November, U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer

Roll Call, Heidi Heitkamp Will Vote No on Kavanaugh Nomination, Niels Lesniewski, Oct 4, 2018. North Dakota Democrat is in a tight re-election campaign. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, the Democrat leading Roll Call’s list of most vulnerable senators on the ballot this fall, announced Thursday that she’ll vote against confirming Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the heidi heitkamp oSupreme Court.

“The process has been bad, but at the end of the day you have to make a decision, and I’ve made that decision,” the North Dakota Democrat told WDAY, the ABC affiliate in Fargo, N.D. “I will be voting no on Judge Kavanaugh.”

Heitkamp explained her decision to opposed Kavanaugh in light of her decision last year to support President Donald Trump's first nominee to the high court, Neil neil gorsuch headshotGorsuch, left.

“I voted for Justice Gorsuch because I felt his legal ability and temperament qualified him to serve on the Supreme Court. Judge Kavanaugh is different. When considering a lifetime appointment to Supreme Court, we must evaluate the totality of the circumstances and record before us. In addition to the concerns about his past conduct, last Thursday’s hearing called into question Judge Kavanaugh’s current temperament, honesty, and impartiality. These are critical traits for any nominee to serve on the highest court in our country,” she said.

Heitkamp’s decision to oppose President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court means that Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia is the only member of the Democratic caucus potentially favoring the confirmation of Kavanaugh.

ny times logoNew York Times, White House Sends F.B.I. Interviews on Kavanaugh to Senate, Peter Baker, Nicholas Fandos, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Michael S. Schmidt, Oct. 4, 2018 (print edition). The White House sent summaries of the interviews, expressing confidence that they would not stop Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s confirmation. The material was conveyed in the middle of the night, just hours after Senate Republicans set the stage for a pair of votes later in the week.

FBI logoSenior White House officials, after reviewing summaries of interviews conducted by the F.B.I., are increasingly confident that the information collected would ease the path for senators to confirm Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, a person briefed on the findings said Thursday morning.

The material was conveyed to Capitol Hill in the middle of the night, just hours after Senate Republicans set the stage for a pair of votes later in the week to move to approve Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation. A statement issued by the White House around 2:30 a.m. said the F.B.I. had completed its work and that it represented an unprecedented look at a nominee.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Trump and G.O.P. Lash Out at Kavanaugh’s Accuser. But at What Risk? Peter Baker, Oct. 4, 2018 (print edition). For more than two weeks he held christine blasey ford sept 27 2018back. Against all his instincts, President Trump for the most part resisted directly attacking the woman whose sexual assault allegation has jeopardized his Supreme Court nomination. The accuser was to be treated with kid gloves, like “a Fabergé egg,” as one adviser put it.

But Mr. Trump could resist only so long and told aides it was time to turn up the heat. So when he revved up a political rally this week by mocking Christine Blasey Ford, right, he indulged his desire to fight back and galvanized his conservative base even at the risk of alienating the very moderate Republicans he needs to confirm Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Senate Should Not Confirm Kavanaugh. Signed, 2,400+ Law Professors (and Counting), Oct. 4, 2018. We have differing views about Kavanaugh’s qualifications. But we are united in believing he does not have the right judicial temperament.

The following letter will be presented to the United States Senate on Oct. 4. It will be updated as more signatures are received. Judicial temperament is one of the most important qualities of a judge. As the Congressional Research Service explains, a judge requires “a personality that is even-handed, unbiased, impartial, courteous yet firm, and dedicated to a process, not a result.”

New York Magazine, Report: The FBI’s Investigation of Kavanaugh Was a Sham, Adam K. Raymond, Oct. 4, 2018. Five days after the FBI began its investigation into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and the sexual-assault allegations made against him by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the probe is over. Though the White House is already exonerating him, it remains to be seen what kind of information senators can glean from the investigation. One thing that is clear, though, is that many Senate Democrats won’t be satisfied with the narrow scope of the probe.

ben sasse o croppedOmaha World-Herald, In emotional speech, Ben Sasse says he told Trump to nominate a woman to Supreme Court, Joseph Morton, Oct. 4, 2018. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., right, delivered an emotional floor speech Wednesday night rejecting suggestions that the vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is about whether lawmakers care about women.

“A Supreme Court confirmation vote isn’t a grand choice about whether we love our daughters or whether we trust our sons,” Sasse said. “That is not the choice before us. This is a consent decision about one person for one seat.”

Sasse, a member of the Judiciary Committee, revealed that before the nominee had been announced he urged President Donald Trump to nominate a woman to the seat.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Here’s a list of people the FBI did NOT interview, Greg Sargent, Oct. 4, 2018. Okay with this, Flake and Collins? You’ll be shocked to hear that the White House has already pronounced the FBI report entirely exonerating for Kavanaugh, claiming that it is now “fully confident” Kavanaugh will be confirmed.

FBI logoBut a lot of new reporting has now emerged that starkly illustrates just how much about the new allegations was not investigated by the FBI. It’s important to note that this probably was not a failing on the FBI’s part but rather was the result of restrictions the White House placed on the probe, a process that itself remains shrouded in disingenuous rhetorical games.

jacob hornberger headshotFuture of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: The Trump-Kavanaugh Look-Alike Theory, Jacob G. Hornberger, right, Oct. 4, 2018. In deciding to go on the attack in the Kavanaugh confirmation debate by openly and publicly mocking Christine Blasey Ford at a political rally for purported “inconsistencies” in her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, President Trump might not realize that he has created an enormous inconsistency in his own position.

Actually, “contradiction” would be a better word to use. Moreover, Trump might not realize that he has left his Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, hanging out on a limb all by himself.

washington post logoWashington Post, Celebrating kegs and insulting girls: Inside Mark Judge’s 1980s Georgetown Prep underground paper, Ian Shapira, Oct. 4, 2018. The Unknown Hoya, co-founded by Judge, featured heavy drinking, a stripper-fueled bachelor party and slurs about Holton-Arms girls.

ny times logoNew York Times, Rifts Break Open at Facebook Over Kavanaugh Hearing, Mike Isaac, Oct. 4, 2018. "I want to apologize,” the Facebook executive wrote last Friday in a note to staff. “I recognize this moment is a deeply painful one — internally and externally.”

facebook logoThe apology came from Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s vice president for global public policy. A day earlier, Mr. Kaplan had sat behind his friend, Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, when the judge testified in Congress about allegations he had sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford in high school. Mr. Kaplan’s surprise appearance prompted anger and shock among many Facebook employees, some of whom said they took his action as a tacit show of support for Judge Kavanaugh — as if it were an endorsement from Facebook itself.

The unrest quickly spilled over onto Facebook’s internal message boards, where hundreds of workers have since posted about their concerns, according to current and former employees. To quell the hubbub, Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, last Friday explained in a widely attended staff meeting that Mr. Kaplan was a close friend of Judge Kavanaugh’s and had broken no company rules, these people said.

Yet the disquiet within the company has not subsided. This week, Facebook employees kept flooding internal forums with comments about Mr. Kaplan’s appearance at the hearing. In a post on Wednesday, Andrew Bosworth, a Facebook executive, appeared to dismiss the concerns when he wrote to employees that “it is your responsibility to choose a path, not that of the company you work for.” Facebook plans to hold another staff meeting on Friday to contain the damage, said the current and former employees.

News Media / Propaganda Tools?

washington post logoWashington Post, That Facebook group you joined years ago? It might now be supporting Brett Kavanaugh, Tony Romm, Oct. 4, 2018. Many of the Facebook groups that seem to facebook logoadvocate for Brett M. Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court -- and some of those defending Christine Blasey Ford, who accused him of sexual assault in the 1980s -- actually amassed their followers months or years before Washington’s most politically charged controversy unfolded, according to Facebook’s records, offering yet another sign that public outcry on social media isn’t exactly what it appears to be.

U.S. Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Efforts to kill Obamacare’s guarantee of coverage for preexisting conditions are costing GOP candidates, Tracy Jan, Oct. 4, 2018 (print edition). Many Republicans in key races are scrambling to square their opposition to the Affordable Care Act with voters’ strong support for one of its most popular provisions.

Roll Call, 24 House Ratings Change in Favor of Democrats, One Month Out, Thomas McKinless, Oct. 4, 2018. Roll Call elections analyst Nathan L. Gonzales has two dozen House race ratings shifts — and they’re all positive for Democrats. Nearly one month from Election Day, Gonzales discusses how it’s more a question of Democratic prospects being good or great in the House than anything else. See below for a full list of all the ratings shifts and watch the video for more analysis.

washington post logoWashington Post, Former Democratic aide charged in posting of GOP senators’ personal data as they held Kavanaugh hearing, Spencer S. Hsu, Oct. 4, 2018 (print edition). democratic donkey logoJackson A. Cosko faces five federal counts including making public restricted personal information, making threats in interstate communications, identity theft, witness tampering and unauthorized access of a government computer.

The information posted purportedly included phone numbers and home addresses for three Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the hearing: Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.), Sen. Mike Lee (Utah) and Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (Utah).

Oct. 3

Report: Trumps As Longtime Tax Cheats

ny times logoirs logoNew York Times, Special Investigation: Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes as He Reaped Riches From His Father, David Barsow, Susanne Craig an Russ Buettner, Oct. 3, 2018 (print edition). The president has long sold himself as a self-made billionaire, but a Times investigation found that he received at least $413 million in today’s dollars from his father’s real estate empire, much of it through tax dodges in the 1990s.

ny times logoNew York Times, 4 Ways Fred Trump Made Donald Trump and His Siblings Rich, Susanne Craig, Russ Buettner,  and David Barstow, Oct. 3, 2018 (print edition). In Donald Trump’s version of how he got rich, he was the master dealmaker who parlayed a $1 million loan from his father into a $10 billion empire. But The Times’s investigation found that the president’s father created scores of revenue streams for his son.

ny times logoDonald TrumpNew York Times, 11 Takeaways From The Times’s Investigation Into Trump’s Wealth, Russ Buettner, Susanne Craig and David Barstow, Oct. 3, 2018 (print edition). Based on a trove of confidential financial records, the Times report offers the first comprehensive look at the inherited fortune and tax dodges that guaranteed Donald Trump a gilded life.

Daily Beast, Trump Attacks New York Times, but Doesn’t Deny Tax-Fraud Bombshell, Staff report, Oct. 3, 2018.  Donald Trump took to Twitter on Wednesday morning to once again attack The New York Times, this time over its bombshell investigation into the roots of his family’s real-estate business, which alleges tax evasion and “outright” fraud.

Notably, however, he did not dispute its findings. “The Failing New York Times did something I have never seen done before. They used the concept of “time value of money” in doing a very old, boring and often told hit piece on me,” he wrote, apparently unaware that the time value of money is a common economic concept. “Added up, this means that 97% of their stories on me are bad,” he added. “Never recovered from bad election call!” The Times report claims Trump helped his family avoid hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes, and that the “self-made billionaire” received more than $413 million from his parents.

djt fred trump daily bast photo illustation

Donald Trump, left, and his father Fred Trump (Daily Beast photo collage)

Daily Beast, Filing by Trump’s Federal Judge Sister Led to NYT Tax-Fraud Exposé, Staff report, Oct. 3, 2018. The next Trump family reunion might be a bit contentious. The New York Times has revealed that its bombshell story about Donald Trump engaging in “dubious” tax schemes and “outright” fraud to increase his inheritance from his parents’ wealth came about because of a filing made by his federal judge sister.

Journalist Susanne Craig said she found the disclosure form Maryanne Trump Barry filed as part of her Senate confirmation hearing. It showed a $1 million contribution from an obscure family-owned company: All County Building Supply & Maintenance. “‘What the heck?’” Craig remembered thinking, leading her to talk to people who detailed Fred Trump’s dubious method of moving cash from his companies to his children. The Times describes Maryanne Trump Barry’s filing as a “central finding” of the story.

Related commentary: david cay johnston headshotDaily Beast, Opinion: New York Times Exposed Trump’s Tax Fraud. Time for the Authorities to Go After Him, David Cay Johnston, right, Oct. 2, 2018. The many scams executed by Donald and his family have now been exposed. It’s time for Congress, the IRS, and New York state to step up.

Supreme Court Battle

Washington Post, White House prepares to send new FBI report on Kavanaugh to Senate, Seung Min Kim, John Wagner and Josh Dawsey, Oct 3, 2018. The latest FBI probe updating the Supreme Court nominee’s background check was set to arrive Wednesday night on Capitol Hill, according to two people familiar with its release. White House officials have been briefed on the findings, they said. The developments came as Senate Democrats suggested that past FBI background checks of Brett M. Kavanaugh include evidence of inappropriate behavior.

washington post logoWashington Post, As FBI check nears its end, probe appears to have been highly curtailed, Matt Zapotosky, Robert O'Harrow Jr., Tom Hamburger and Devlin Barrett, Oct 3, 2018.  The FBI has interviewed six witnesses and has not been allowed to probe the nominee's youthful drinking, opening it up to criticism over what some will view as a lackluster investigation.

Roll Call, Mitch McConnell Sets Friday Vote to Thwart Filibuster of Brett Kavanaugh, Niels Lesniewski, Oct. 3, 2018. Wednesday evening move sets up Friday procedural vote and possible Saturday confirmation vote.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion; 650 law professors: The Senate Should Not Confirm Kavanaugh, staff report, Oct. 3, 2018. The following letter will be presented to the United States Senate on Oct. 4. It will be updated as more signatures are received.

Judicial temperament is one of the most important qualities of a judge. As the Congressional Research Service explains, a judge requires “a personality that is even-handed, unbiased, impartial, courteous yet firm, and dedicated to a process, not a result.” The concern for judicial temperament dates back to our founding; in Federalist 78, titled “Judges as Guardians of the Constitution,” Alexander Hamilton expressed the need for “the integrity and moderation of the judiciary.”

We are law professors who teach, research and write about the judicial institutions of this country. Many of us appear in state and federal court, and our work means that we will continue to do so, including before the United States Supreme Court. We regret that we feel compelled to write to you, our Senators, to provide our views that at the Senate hearings on Sept. 27, Judge Brett Kavanaugh displayed a lack of judicial temperament that would be disqualifying for any court, and certainly for elevation to the highest court of this land.

The question at issue was of course painful for anyone. But Judge Kavanaugh exhibited a lack of commitment to judicious inquiry. Instead of being open to the necessary search for accuracy, Judge Kavanaugh was repeatedly aggressive with questioners. Even in his prepared remarks, Judge Kavanaugh described the hearing as partisan, referring to it as “a calculated and orchestrated political hit,” rather than acknowledging the need for the Senate, faced with new information, to try to understand what had transpired. Instead of trying to sort out with reason and care the allegations that were raised, Judge Kavanaugh responded in an intemperate, inflammatory and partial manner, as he interrupted and, at times, was discourteous to senators.

As you know, under two statutes governing bias and recusal, judges must step aside if they are at risk of being perceived as or of being unfair. As Congress has previously put it, a judge or justice “shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” These statutes are part of a myriad of legal commitments to the impartiality of the judiciary, which is the cornerstone of the courts.

We have differing views about the other qualifications of Judge Kavanaugh. But we are united, as professors of law and scholars of judicial institutions, in believing that he did not display the impartiality and judicial temperament requisite to sit on the highest court of our land.

bill palmerPalmer Report, Opinion: One of Brett Kavanaugh’s key GOP Senate defenders suddenly sounds nervous about holding a vote, Bill Palmer, right, Oct. 3, 2018. We all witnessed Republican Senator John Cornyn use his position on the Senate Judiciary Committee last week to try to help a mentally unstable Brett Kavanaugh through his testimony. There is no doubt that Cornyn, who is as corrupt as they come, is a “yes” vote. But now congressional reporter Chad Pergram says that Cornyn suddenly doesn’t want to rush the Kavanaugh vote, and wants to “do it one step at a time” instead. So what’s going on here?

So does John Cornyn know something that Mitch McConnell doesn’t? Or are they simply unable to agree on how to play their increasingly weak hand? McConnell has been trying to bully the likes of Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins into voting “yes” even though they’re clearly not “yes” votes, but last night Murkowski all but laughed at McConnell’s tactics. We still don’t know how this vote is going to turn out, but it doesn’t appear the GOP does, either.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Trump and McConnell sink to desperate new lengths to protect Brett Kavanaugh, Bill Palmer, Oct. 3, 2018. Just how dirty is Brett Kavanaugh? All you have to do is take a look at the desperate lengths Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell are going to in the name of not only protecting Kavanaugh from the FBI investigation, but keeping the final FBI report hush-hush.

christine blasey ford sept 27 2018Dianne Feinstein has confirmed that, as expected, the FBI will not be allowed to interview Dr. Christine Blasey Ford (right) – but that’s just the half of it.

It’s fairly clear why the FBI isn’t allowed to interview Ford. It’s not to prevent her from telling her story, which she’s already done before the Senate; the FBI has full access to her congressional testimony. Instead, by blocking the FBI from speaking with Ford, Trump and McConnell are also blocking the FBI from speaking with Kavanaugh – which is the entire point. Kavanaugh has already revealed himself to be a pathological liar, and if he lies to the FBI, he’ll go to prison. But the real panic move here is with the report itself.

USA Today and others are now reporting that there will only be one copy of the FBI report on Brett Kavanaugh, and that Senators will each have to take turns reading it. Senate Democrats will still be able to quickly leak the ugliest parts of the report to the public. But the goal here is, obviously, to prevent the public from seeing the full text.

This confirms that, even with the limitations placed on the FBI investigation by Trump and McConnell, they still expect that the FBI report will paint Brett Kavanaugh in a terrible light. This means that Trump and McConnell are playing with an even weaker hand here than we thought.

ny times logoFBI logoNew York Times, F.B.I. to Complete Inquiry Wednesday With Vote Coming This Week, Oct. 3, 2018 (print edition). The F.B.I. will send the results of its inquiry into Judge Kavanaugh to the Senate on Wednesday, with a vote scheduled on the nomination this week.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Taunts Christine Blasey Ford at Rally, At an event in Mississippi, Maggie Haberman and Peter Baker, Oct. 3, 2018 (print edition). President Trump mocked the woman who accused Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of sexual assault. He imitated her, exaggerating her responses at last week’s hearing. The crowd cheered.

washington post logojeff flake oWashington Post, ‘Just plain wrong’: Flake, Collins criticize Trump’s attack on Ford, John Wagner and Seung Min Kim​, Oct. 3, 2018. Republican Sens. Jeff Flake (Ariz.), right and Susan Collins (Maine) are considered crucial to the confirmation prospects of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh.

washington post logoWashington Post, Breaking: Senate Democrats suggest past FBI background checks on Kavanaugh include evidence of inappropriate behavior, John Wagner and Seung Min Kim, Oct. 3, 2018. Senate Democrats suggested in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman on Wednesday that past FBI background checks on Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh include evidence of inappropriate behavior, contrary to Republican claims.

democratic donkey logoIn the letter, eight of the 10 Democrats on the Judiciary panel challenged the accuracy of a tweet from the majority Republicans on Tuesday that said: “Nowhere in any of these six FBI reports, which the committee has reviewed on a bipartisan basis, was there ever a whiff of ANY issue — at all — related in any way to inappropriate sexual behavior or alcohol abuse.”

The Democrats said the information in the tweet is “not accurate,” and urged the GOP to correct them. Aides to the committee chairman, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), did not return an immediate request for comment.

washington post logojennifer rubin new headshotWashington Post, Opinion: Senators, if you think you are ‘appalled’ now, just wait, Jennifer Rubin, right, Oct. 3, 2018. Appearing on the “Today” show, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) reacted to President Trump’s mocking of Christine Blasey Ford at a political rally Tuesday night. “There’s no time and no place for remarks like that. But to discuss something this sensitive at a political rally is just not right … It’s kind of appalling.”

susan collins oThis echoes the reaction of Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) when Trump first attacked Ford by tweet, saying if the attack was “that bad,” the teen Ford would have gone to the police. Collins, left, said: “I was appalled by the president’s tweet.”

There is plenty to appall:

Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s baseless allegation that he was the victim of a smear stemming from Hillary Clinton’s 2016 loss; Kavanaugh’s obnoxious retorts to Democratic senators, including Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.); Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) calling for Klobuchar to apologize; Republicans’ objections to any investigation of Ford’s claims; Republicans’ repeated, false assertion that there is no corroboration for Ford’s accusation (ignoring her polygraph, her prior remarks, Kavanaugh’s calendar entry for July 1); Republicans’ decision to hide behind a female “assistant” (as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell referred to prosecutor Rachel Mitchell) and then discard her in favor of hysterical rants; apparent efforts to curtail the FBI investigation; Ed Whelan’s defamatory accusation aimed at a classmate of Kavanaugh’s; and Kavanaugh’s seeming mischaracterization of his drinking habits and high school references to sex and drinking.

new yorker logoNew Yorker, The F.B.I. Probe Ignored Testimonies from Former Classmates of Kavanaugh, Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow, Oct. 3, 2018. Frustrated potential witnesses who have been unable to speak with the F.B.I agents conducting the investigation into sexual-assault allegations against Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, have been resorting to sending statements, unsolicited, to the Bureau and to senators, in hopes that they would be seen before the inquiry concluded.

On Monday, President Trump said that the Bureau should be able to interview “anybody they want within reason,” but the extent of the constraints placed on the investigating agents by the White House remained unclear.

U.S. Politics

jason kander flag photo SmallLegal Schnauzer, Opinion: Missouri politico Jason Kander cites depression and PTSD from military service for bailing out of K.C. mayoral race, but is that the real reason for his exit? Roger Shuler, Oct. 3, 2018.  Jason Kander, right, former Missouri secretary of state and a 2016 U.S. Senate candidate, yesterday closed his campaign for Kansas City mayor, citing depression and PTSD from his time in the military.

Quite a few political observers immediately questioned whether mental-health issues related to military service were the real reason for Kander's withdrawal. We have reported on Kander's apparent connections to fund-raising fraud and campaign violations, dating at least to his failed U.S. Senate race against GOP incumbent Roy Blunt. They include a scheme to buy Diana Kander (Jason's wife) a spot on The New York Times Bestseller List.

A number of commenters at the Tony's Kansas City blog said they believed Kander's dubious fund-raising tactics were about to catch up to him, in the form of a criminal investigation. (Comments are embedded at the end of this post.) Count our own legal-affairs analyst -- we call him Ozark Mountain Lawyer (OML) -- among the skeptics. States OML:

GOP Attacks On Accusers

chuck grassley screams at patrick leahy confidential records screenshot

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, Republican of Iowa (file photo)

washington post logoWashington Post, Republicans on Senate panel release explicit statement about Kavanaugh accuser’s sex life, Elise Viebeck, Oct. 3, 2018. In an unprecedented move, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday released an explicit statement that purports to describe the sexual preferences of a woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh of misconduct.

republican elephant logoThe statement, which was circulated to the hundreds of journalists on the Judiciary Committee’s press list, was from Dennis Ketterer, a former Democratic congressional candidate and television meteorologist who said he was involved in a brief relationship with Kavanaugh accuser Julie Swetnick in 1993.

julie swetnickSwetnick, shown at right, said last week in an affidavit that Kavanaugh was present at a house party in 1982 where she alleges she was the victim of a gang rape, a claim he vehemently denies.

In his statement, Ketterer said Swetnick once told him that she sometimes enjoyed group sex with multiple men and had first engaged in it during high school. Ketterer said the remark “derailed” their relationship, which he described as involving “physical contact” but no intercourse.
It was highly unusual for a congressional committee to release a statement that included such explicit and unconfirmed details about a member of the public. The Republican side of the panel, which said the statement was provided by Ketterer “under penalty of felony,” emailed excerpts to journalists and posted the full statement on its website.

Swetnick attorney Michael Avenatti called the statement “bogus and outrageous” and called for the FBI to interview Swetnick and Ketterer to assess their truthfulness.

“At the same time the committee refuses to provide documents, they don’t hesitate to provide this piece of garbage,” Avenatti said Tuesday afternoon in a phone interview.

supreme court graphic“This was absolutely fabricated to assist the GOP to ram through this nomination,” Avenatti said, calling for reporters to “dig good and hard” into Ketterer’s background.

Ketterer described himself as a longtime member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) and lives in the Salt Lake City area.

“We talked about doing the right thing, and the right thing was not to hold it back,” Ketterer said in an hour-long interview.

Eventually, he said, one church leader reached out to a former LDS bishop who had a connection to the office of Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee and is also a member of the church.

Ketterer, who was terminated from his position with Channel 7 in Washington in the mid-1990s, sued the station for $12 million in 1995 over what he said was discrimination against him because a psychiatrist had diagnosed him with bipolar II disorder.

WGN-TV (Chicago), Attorney Avenatti says new witness saw Kavanaugh ‘spike the punch’ at parties, Staff report, Oct. 3, 2018. As the FBI investigates the past of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, another witness is coming forward.

michael avenatti twitter photoOn Wednesday, Attorney Michael Avenatti, shown on his Twitter photo, announced he had a sworn statement from an unidentified woman who said she has witnessed some of the activities that Kavanaugh is accused of doing during his teens and college years. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee that Kavanaugh threw her on a bed and tried to rape her when they were teenagers.

Avenatti is providing a statement from a woman who said she has known Ford, Kavanaugh, his friend Mark Judge, and his accuser Julie Swetnick for decades. In it, she said she believes both Ford and Swetnick are honest and truthful.

She says she has been to at least 20 parties that Kavanaugh and Judge also attended. “I know many instances during these house parties where Brett and Mark would drink excessively and be overly aggressive and verbally abusive toward girls,” she said. “This conduct included inappropriate physical contact with girls of a sexual nature.”

She said she saw Kavanaugh “spike the punch” at parties with “Quaaludes and/or grain alcohol.” “I understood this was being done for the purpose of making girls more likely to engage in sexual acts and less likely to say ‘No,’” she said. “I am aware of other inappropriate conduct by Brett Kavanaugh but do not feel comfortable stating it at this time in this declaration.”

Avenatti said this woman is “prepared to meet with the FBI today and disclose multiple facts and witnesses.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Senate Republicans Open New Attack on Kavanaugh Accuser, Peter Baker, Oct. 3, 2018. In a sworn statement to the Senate, a man who said he dated Dr. Blasey for six years contradicted her testimony about her experience with polygraph tests.

Senate Republicans are stepping up efforts to challenge Christine Blasey Ford’s credibility by confronting her with a sworn statement from a former boyfriend who took issue with a number of assertions she made during testimony before the Judiciary Committee last week.

Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa and the committee chairman, cited the former boyfriend’s statement in a letter sent Tuesday night to Dr. Blasey’s lawyers demanding that they turn over material that could be used to assess her veracity.

christine blasey ford sept 27 2018President Trump mocked Dr. Blasey, right, during a campaign rally on Tuesday night, mimicking her inability to remember some details from her account of being sexually assaulted by Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh when they were teenagers.

The former boyfriend told the Judiciary Committee that he witnessed Dr. Blasey helping a friend prepare for a possible polygraph examination, contradicting her testimony under oath. Dr. Blasey, a psychology professor from California who also goes by her married name Ford, was asked during the hearing whether she had “ever given tips or advice to somebody who was looking to take a polygraph test.” She answered, “Never.”

Ms. McLean, a former F.B.I. agent, denied the assertion on Wednesday. “I have never had Christine Blasey Ford, or anybody else, prepare me, or provide any other type of assistance whatsoever in connection with any polygraph exam I have taken at any time,” she said in a statement.

Dr. Blasey’s camp also rejected the account. “She stands by her testimony,” a member of her legal team said in a statement.

Oct. 2

Trump Tax Fraud?

david cay johnston headshotDaily Beast, Opinion: New York Times Exposed Trump’s Tax Fraud. Time for the Authorities to Go After Him, David Cay Johnston, right, Oct. 2, 2018. The many scams executed by Donald and his family have now been exposed. It’s time for Congress, the IRS, and New York state to step up.

For decades Donald Trump, his parents and siblings cheated on taxes in numerous ways, The New York Times reported in an extraordinarily thorough and well documented expose published on Tuesday night.

In a meticulously reported 14,000-word article, the paper demolishes Donald’s claims that he is a self-made billionaire who started out with a $1 million loan from his father Fred, which he paid back with interest. Donald got at least $413 million, in today’s money, from his father and never fully repaid his loans.

The Times obtained access to more than 100,000 pages of Trump documents including “bank statements, financial audits, accounting ledgers, cash disbursement reports, invoices, and canceled checks. Most notably, the documents include more than 200 tax returns from Fred Trump, his companies and various Trump partnerships and trusts.” It did not get any of the president’s personal tax returns.

The arcane and difficult subjects of both tax and accounting are masterfully explained in plain English. As the paper’s former tax reporter, and the journalist who has covered Trump the longest, I’m in a solid position to judge the depth and quality of their work. It is masterful.

The Times expose is exactly what it purports to be: “unprecedented in scope and precision.” And it shows in vivid detail how egregious the tax cheating was—not chiseling here and there, but gigantic lies to escape lawful burdens. The piece goes far beyond the two civil income tax fraud trials Trump lost, news I broke in The Daily Beast two years ago.

Most if not all of the transactions detailed in The Times can be pursued as civil tax fraud by both the federal and New York state governments. Neither the federal or state governments have statutes of limitations on civil fraud. Generally, criminal tax cases are limited to returns filed in the past six years.

State tax authorities said Tuesday night they were looking into the facts reported by The Times. Since June 15, DCReport has been calling for a criminal investigation of Trump’s taxes. After our readers flooded Governor Andrew Cuomo with phone calls he signaled his approval of such an inquiry.

Supreme Court Batttle

washington post logoWashington Post, FBI gets longer leash on Kavanaugh probe as McConnell signals vote is imminent, Devlin Barrett, Josh Dawsey, Seung Min Kim and Matt Zapotosky, Oct. 2, 2018 (print edition). The inquiry will include sexual misconduct allegations from a third woman against Brett M. Kavanaugh. But the FBI won’t conduct an unfettered review of his youthful drinking.

FBI logony times logoNew York Times, The People the F.B.I. Has Interviewed in the Kavanaugh Investigation (and Those It Hasn’t), Karen Yourish and Troy Griggs, Oct. 2, 2018 (print edition). Republicans offered the bureau four witnesses; Democrats have called for more than a dozen additional people to be interviewed.

People who were on the Republicans’ list and have been interviewed:

-- Deborah Ramirez, Yale classmate, The second woman to accuse Judge Kavanaugh of engaging in sexual misconduct; she said he exposed himself to her at a dorm room party.

-- Mark Judge, Judge Kavanaugh’s Georgetown Prep classmate, Named by Dr. Blasey and a third accuser as being a key witness to the alleged sexual misconduct by Judge Kavanaugh. “I never saw Brett act in the manner Dr. Ford describes,” he said.

-- P.J. Smyth, Georgetown Prep classmate; Dr. Blasey said he was at the house party, “I have no knowledge of the party in question; nor do I have any knowledge of the allegations of improper conduct.”

-- Leland Keyser, Dr. Blasey’s high school friend, Said she does not remember being at the party during the summer of 1982 but believes Dr. Blasey.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘The trauma for a man’: Male fury and fear rises in GOP in defense of Kavanaugh, Philip Rucker and Robert Costa, Oct. 2, 2018 (print edition). Trump slams Democrats for 'trying to destroy' Kavanaugh (shown below in a file photo of his testimony).

brett kavanaugh screen grab 9 5 2018 at 3 56 pmThe sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh have sparked a wave of unbridled anger and anxiety from many Republican men, who say they are in danger of being swept up by false accusers who are biased against them.

From President Trump to his namesake son to Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), the howls of outrage crystallize a strong current of grievance within a party whose leadership is almost entirely white and overwhelmingly male — and which does not make a secret of its fear that demographic shifts and cultural convulsions could jeopardize its grip on power.

This eruption of male resentment now seems likely to play a defining role in the midterm elections just five weeks away, contrasting with a burst of enthusiasm among women propelling Democratic campaigns and inspired by the national #MeToo reckoning over sexual assault and gender roles.

Legal Schnauzer, In anonymous letter to Sen. Kamala Harris, woman says Kavanaugh groped her, slapped her, forced her to perform oral sex, and raped her in backseat of car, Roger Shuler, Oct. 2, 2018. A woman states in an anonymous letter that Brett Kavanaugh forcibly kissed her, groped her, digitally penetrated her, slapped her, forced her to perform oral sex, and raped her multiple times in the backseat of a car, according to a Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC) transcript released yesterday.

The transcript, which is embedded at the end of this post, is from an interview SJC staff members conducted with Kavanaugh on Sept. 26. Kavanaugh apparently had an unnamed attorney present on his end of the line during the interview.

When Kavanaugh is asked for a response to the letter, he replies: "Nothing -- the whole thing is ridiculous. Nothing ever -- anything like that, nothing. I mean, that's -- the whole thing is just a crock, farce, wrong, didn't happen, not anything close."

Trump World

washington post logomelania trump twitterWashington Post, Melania Trump kicks off tour of Africa in Ghana amid questions and criticism, Emily Heil and Mary Jordan, Oct. 2, 2018. Though the first lady’s trip is seen as a gesture of goodwill, it also appears to critics of the Trump administration as out of step with her husband’s policies. Her stops will largely highlight programs funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, even as the White House has proposed massive cuts to its budget.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump may be overly optimistic on new North American trade deal, analysts say, David J. Lynch and Heather Long, Oct. 2, 2018 (print edition). Some of the gains may be important for individual industries or farmers but may not make much of a difference in the overall economy.

Oct. 1

U.S. Politics

 

Public Broadcasting System (PBS), Dark Money, Director/Producer Kimberly Reed, Oct. 1, 2018 (premiere, 85 mins.). Check local listings. Synopsis: Dark Money, a political thriller, examines one of the greatest present threats to American democracy: the influence of untraceable corporate money on our elections and elected officials.

The film takes viewers to Montana — a frontline in the fight to preserve fair elections nationwide — to follow an intrepid local journalist working to expose the real-life impacts of the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision. Through this gripping story, Dark Money uncovers the shocking and vital truth of how American elections are bought and sold. Official Selection, 2018 Sundance Film Festival.

kimberly reed dark money producer claire jonesDirector/Producer Kimberly Reed (shown at right) has had featured work on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CNN, NPR, The Moth and in Details magazine. One of Filmmaker Magazine's "25 New Faces of Independent Film," she directed and produced Prodigal Sons, which landed on many best of the year lists, screened at more than 100 film festivals and garnered 14 audience and jury awards, including a FIPRESCI Prize. Reed was recognized as one of Out magazine's "OUT100" and was number one on Towleroad's "Best LGBT Characters of the Film Year" list. She also produced, edited and wrote Paul Goodman Changed My Life and produced The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson. Reed is a fourth-generation Montanan.

U.S. Supreme Court Battle

washington post logoFBI logoWashington Post, Confusion over limits of FBI inquiry sparks new round of combat over Kavanaugh, Mike DeBonis and Josh Dawsey, Oct. 1, 2018 (print edition). The investigation into sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh will focus on two accusers, but the White House says it opposes a “fishing expedition” that could take a broader look at his credibility and behavior.

julie swetnick nbc

msnbc logo CustomMSNBC, Julie Swetnick speaks about alleged behavior by Judge Kavanaugh, Kate Snow, Oct. 1, 2018 (13:04 min. video). In an exclusive interview with NBC News' Kate Snow, Julie Swetnick describes being attacked at a party that was attended by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

While Swetnick cannot confirm that Brett Kavanaugh was one of her attackers, she does say that she knows both Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge were at the party before the attack. NBC News has not been able to independently corroborate Swetnick's claims.

Law & Crime, Legal Experts: New Text Messages Show Kavanaugh Might Have Tampered with Witness, Alberto Luperon, Oct. 1, 2018. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday that he first heard about the Deborah Ramirez allegation when it was published in The New Yorker on Sept. 23.

nbc news logoThe thing is, one of the judge’s friends provided NBC with texts apparently showing that he knew about the claim before that, and tried to recruit people to defend him.

This report has some lawyers and prominent pundits suggesting this constitutes witness tampering. “And now we are also talking about witness tampering,” wrote Fordham law professor Jed Shugerman, an expert on American courts.

Ramirez, one of Kavanaugh’s classmates at Yale, said he drunkenly stuck his penis at her during a party decades ago.

The texts in the NBC story were provided by Kerry Berchem, a partner at the Akin Gump law firm. In the messages, Karen Yarasavage, another Kavanaugh friend, told her that “Brett” asked her to deny Ramirez’s allegation on the record. She also wrote about communicating with “Brett’s guy.”

Above the Law, Akin Gump Partner Is The Woman Who Has Texts That Suggest Kavanaugh Was Trying To Discredit Ramirez Story, Prior To Publication, Elie Mystal, Oct 1, 2018. Kerry deborah ramirez yale croppedBerchem suggests that Kavanaugh may have anticipated Deborah Ramirez's allegations as early as July.

Kerry Berchem is a Yale graduate who was friends with Brett Kavanaugh and Deborah Ramirez in college.

She claims that Kavanaugh and his team have been trying to get other Yale friends to support him against allegations made by Ramirez, (shown in a college photo) that Kavanaugh drunkenly flashed her while at Yale. She has texts from another friend at Yale, suggesting Kavanaugh personally contacted the friend about Ramirez’s allegations.

Palmer Report, Senate transcript reveals Brett Kavanaugh allegedly raped a woman in the back of a car, Bill Palmer, right, Oct. 1, 2018. With the FBI having finally received bill palmerthe green light a few hours ago to conduct an unrestricted investigation into the sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, we’re now learning that he’s been accused brett kavanaugh 1983 yearbookof having raped a woman in the back of a car.

The Senate Judiciary Committee took this accusation seriously enough that it questioned Kavanaugh (shown at left in a prep school yearbook photo) about it during private hearings – and the transcript just surfaced publicly.

The woman in question, whose identity is not known, sent a letter to Senator Kamala Harris, spelling out her accusations. The Senate Judiciary Committee read the letter to Brett Kavanaugh, asking him to respond to it. Here’s the key passage from the woman’s letter. Fair warning, this is sexually explicit and disturbing:

Kavanaugh and a friend offered me a ride home. I don’t know the other boy’s name. I was in his car to go home. His friend was behind me in the backseat. Kavanaugh kissed me forcefully. I told him I only wanted a ride home. Kavanaugh continued to grope me over my clothes, forcing his kisses on me and putting his hand under my sweater. ‘No,’ I yelled at him.

The boy in the backseat reached around, putting his hand over my mouth and holding my arm to keep me in the car. I screamed into his hand. Kavanaugh continued his forcing himself on me. He pulled up my sweater and bra exposing my breasts, and reached into my panties, inserting his fingers into my vagina. My screams were silenced by the boy in the backseat covering my mouth and groping me as well.

Kavanaugh slapped me and told me to be quiet and forced me to perform oral sex on him. He climaxed in my mouth. They forced me to go into the backseat and took turns raping me several times each. They dropped me off two blocks from my home. ‘No one will believe if you tell. Be a good girl,’ he told me.

Brett Kavanaugh’s response, according to the transcript: “Nothing — the whole thing is ridiculous. Nothing ever — anything like that, nothing. I mean, that’s — the whole thing is just a crock, farce, wrong, didn’t happen, not anything close.”

This interview took place six days ago, and the transcript was just released today. You can read the entire exchange starting on page thirteen.

U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Transcript of staff interview with Judge Brett Kavanaugh on allegations of sexual misconduct, Alderson Court Reporting, released on Oct. 1, 2018, dated Sept. 26, 2018 (19 pages with four-page index). 

Roll Call, Mitch McConnell: Brett Kavanaugh Floor Vote This Week, Lex Samuels, Oct 1, 2018.  Majority leader again decries Democrats for delay and obstruction. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is insisting the vote on confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court will take place before week’s end.

mitch mcconnell2brett kavanaugh confirmation hearing ticketThe Kentucky Republican, speaking on the Senate floor Monday afternoon, said the Democrats chose to hold the allegations against Kavanaugh “in reserve” in order to derail the nomination.

He spoke about how the Democrats who first received the allegations handled them. He specifically mentioned a law firm with “politically connected lawyers” that McConnell says Democrats advised Kavanaugh’s accuser to hire. Those lawyers are set to hold a fundraiser for Democrats this week, McConnell said.

McConnell continued by expressing doubt that Democrats would be happy with the one-week investigation and that he expects “soon enough the goal-posts will be on the move once again.”

He compared the Democrat’s handling of the allegations to McCarthyism saying, “that they just want to delay this matter past the election.”

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Elite colleges and a culture of rape, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 1, 2018 (Subscription required; excerpted with permission). The sexual assault allegations brought against Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, opens a window into the world of elite schools that do not bear the words "State," "A&M," "Community," or "Prep" in their names. This is a world of privilege, where money and family legacy matter the most.

Kavanaugh testified about his admittance to Yale, "I have no connections there," he told the Senate Judiciary Committee, adding, "I got there by busting my tail." Not exactly. The john kelly 1Yale undergraduate yearbook from 1928 shows that Everett Edward Kavanaugh, Judge Kavanaugh's grandfather, was a Yale graduate.

And sexual assaults of underage girls, like Christine Blasey Ford, were not some "fad" of the 1980s. Our colleague, John Kelly, left, a veteran of NBC News, where he worked with Chet Huntley and David Brinkley, and CBS News, where he reported on Watergate for Walter Cronkite, brought to our attention his New York Post reports from 1960.

Roll Call, Trump: Democrats in ‘Blind Rage’ to ‘Destroy’ Brett Kavanaugh, John T. Bennett, Oct. 1, 2018. President tries to stave off major Democratic upset in Tennessee.

The president was in Johnson City to try to save the Senate seat being vacated by two-term Tennessee Republican Bob Corker. Trump trounced Hillary Clinton in the Volunteer State by 26 percentage points in 2016, but the Democratic nominee, former Gov. Phil Bredesen, could well pull off what would be a sizable upset against Republican Marsha Blackburn.

Trade Agreements

washington post logoWashington Post, Canada agrees to join trade accord with U.S. and Mexico, David J. Lynch​, Oct. 1, 2018 (print edition). The move preserves the three-canadian flagcountry format of the original North American Free Trade Agreement favored by business groups and congressional Republicans.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Just Ripped Up Nafta. Here’s What’s in the New Deal, Jim Tankersley, Oct. 1, 2018. Changes for automakers, dairy farmers, labor unions President Donald Trump officialand large corporations headline the renegotiated U.S.M.C.A., which is poised to replace Nafta. Text of the pact, released late Sunday, includes major adjustments in several key areas of the countries’ trading relationships.

For the first time, the new agreement also mandates that an escalating percentage of parts for any tariff-free vehicle — topping out at 40 percent in 2023 — must come from a so-called “high wage” factory. The agreement says those factories must pay a minimum of $16 an hour in average salaries for production workers. That’s about triple the average wage in a Mexican factory right now, and administration officials hope the provision will force automakers to shift suppliers from Mexico to Canada or the United States.

More On Supreme Court Battle

Future of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: Trump’s Sham FBI “Investigation” of Kavanaugh, Jacob G. Hornberger, right, Oct. 1, 2018. On the eve of the Senate Judiciary jacob hornberger headshotCommittee’s vote on whether to send President Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the full Senate for a vote on confirmation, Republican senators agreed to do so on the condition that the FBI conduct a further background investigation of Kavanaugh.

What’s wrong with Trump’s severe limitation on the FBI’s further background investigation of Brett Kavanaugh? It doesn’t permit the FBI to investigate the possibility that Kavanaugh has committed a brand new offense — the offense of perjury, which is a federal felony offense.

Kavanaugh supporters emphasize that he has been the subject of several FBI background checks already. They miss two critically important points:

FBI logoOne, those background checks were conducted before the FBI had any information regarding the sex assault that Ford has accused him of. Two, those background checks were conducted before Kavanaugh’s testimony last Thursday. Why is that important? Because there is the possibility that Kavanaugh committed perjury during his testimony at that hearing.

For some laymen (i.e., non-lawyers) perjury might seem like no big deal and certainly not enough to keep a lawyer or a judge from becoming a Supreme Court justice. As I explain in my article, “Summon Mark Judge to Testify in Kavanaugh Hearing,” to every member of the legal profession perjury is an extremely grave offense, especially for a lawyer or a judge, and a clear justification for disqualifying any lawyer or judge who has committed perjury from serving on the U.S. Supreme Court.

In fact, as I state in my article, in my opinion that is precisely the reason why the American Bar Association, which has 400,000 members, and the dean of the Yale Law School, where Kavanaugh got his law degree, immediately withdrew their support for his nomination after Ford and Kavanaugh testified until an additional background investigation was conducted.

ny times logoNew York Times, Chad Ludington’s Statement on Kavanaugh’s Drinking and Senate Testimony, Staff report, Oct. 1, 2018 (print edition). Chad Ludington, a Yale classmate of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s who said he often drank with him, issued a statement on Sunday saying the Supreme Court nominee was not truthful about his drinking in his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week,

Here is the full text of the statement:

I have been contacted by numerous reporters about Brett Kavanaugh and have not wanted to say anything because I had nothing to contribute about what kind of justice he would be. I knew Brett at Yale because I was a classmate and a varsity basketball player and Brett enjoyed socializing with athletes. Indeed, athletes formed the core of Brett’s social circle.

In recent days I have become deeply troubled by what has been a blatant mischaracterization by Brett himself of his drinking at Yale. When I watched Brett and his wife being interviewed on Fox News on Monday, and when I watched Brett deliver his testimony under oath to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, I cringed. For the fact is, at Yale, and I can speak to no other times, Brett was a frequent drinker, and a heavy drinker. I know, because, especially in our first two years of college, I often drank with him.

On many occasions I heard Brett slur his words and saw him staggering from alcohol consumption, not all of which was beer. When Brett got drunk, he was often belligerent and aggressive. On one of the last occasions I purposely socialized with Brett, I witnessed him respond to a semi-hostile remark, not by defusing the situation, but by throwing his beer in the man’s face and starting a fight that ended with one of our mutual friends in jail....

washington post logoWashington Post, In memo, outside prosecutor argues why she would not bring criminal charges against Kavanaugh, Seung Min Kim, Oct. 1, 2018 (print edition). The outside prosecutor Senate Republicans hired to lead the questioning in last week’s hearing about the sexual assault allegations against Brett M. Kavanaugh is arguing in a new memo why she would not bring criminal charges against the Supreme Court nominee.

christine blasey ford sept 27 2018In the five-page memo, obtained by the Washington Post, Rachel Mitchell outlines more than half a dozen reasons why she thinks the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford, left — who has accused Kavanaugh of assaulting her at a house in suburban Maryland when they were teenagers in the early 1980s — has some key inconsistencies.

“A ‘he said, she said’ case is incredibly difficult to prove. But this case is even weaker than that,” Mitchell writes in the memo, sent Sunday night to all Senate Republicans. “Dr. Ford identified other witnesses to the event, and those witnesses either refuted her allegations or failed to corroborate them.”

rachel mitchell 2011 screenshotMitchell, (shown in a file photo), continued: “For the reasons discussed below, I do not think that a reasonable prosecutor would bring this case based on the evidence before the [Senate Judiciary] Committee. Nor do I believe that this evidence is sufficient to satisfy the preponderance-of-the-evidence standard.”

The memo is likely to prompt significant pushback from Democratic senators, who have argued that Ford is not on trial and that Kavanaugh is merely interviewing for a job. But the memo is clearly aimed at assuaging the concerns of a handful of GOP senators who are on the fence about whether to vote to confirm Kavanaugh and are considering whose story — Ford’s or Kavanaugh’s — to believe. The FBI is now investigating Ford’s accusations, as well as those of a second woman, Deborah Ramirez.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Prosecutor says Kavanaugh report is what ‘reasonable prosecutor’ would say. It’s not, Deanna Paul, Oct. 1, 2018. Rachel Mitchell said no “reasonable prosecutor” would bring the case. She’s wrong. A fair prosecutor would investigate every lead before reaching that conclusion.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Vatican’s handling of sexual misconduct complaints about ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick reveals a lot about the Catholic Church, Michelle Boorstein​, Oct. 1, 2018.  The story behind the four complaints to Rome about the former archbishop of Washington helps explain why the allegations against him remained hidden for so long.

oenearthlogoOpEdNews, Opinion: Sex, Lies, and Hypocrisy: Kavanaugh's Glass House, Carl Petersen, Oct. 1, 2018. Much like Dr. Christine Ford, Monica Lewinsky's life was turned upside down by the glare of someone else's spotlight.

While Brett Kavanaugh asserted that engaging in sexual relations with Bill Clinton turned "her life into a shambles," from Lewinsky's point of view it was his boss, Kenneth Starr, "who turned [her] 24-year-old life into a living hell."

Looking back on the 1990s with the experience of the #MeToo era, there are questions that should have been asked about the most powerful man in the world having sexual relations with an employee.

monica lewinsky may 1967Lewinsky, left, has always maintained that the relationship was consensual, but "power imbalances -- and the ability to abuse them -- do exist even when the sex has been consensual." As a society, have we established where the lines are?

Unfortunately, Kavanaugh (shown below right during his snarling Senate confirmation testimony Thursday)did not seem interested in this line of questioning. Instead, he was infatuated with the most unimportant part of the story - the details of the sex acts.

brett kavanaugh nbc cropped sept 27 2018Given this history, one has to wonder what Lindsey Graham was thinking as he bloviated that if Kavanaugh was looking "for a fair process, [then] he came to the wrong town at the wrong time." When does he think that this poisoned, political atmosphere began?

bill clinton wIf the nominee thinks that the "confirmation process has become a national disgrace," how does he feel today about what he put Lewinsky through and what it did to her and her family? If "the idea of going easy on [Clinton, left] at the questioning [was] abhorrent to [him]," his current outrage should be directed at the Republican majority in the Senate.

By not investigating all of the accusations, they are the ones who are avoiding the responsibility of providing informed consent to his lifetime nomination to the highest court in the land.

Of course, this ignores the important distinction between Kavanaugh's apparent obsession with Clinton's sex life and the charges that may derail his assertion to the Supreme Court; if Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is telling the truth, then Kavanaugh acted without consent. This alleged attempted rape represents "callous and disgusting behavior that has somehow gotten lost in the shuffle."

Palmer Report, Opinion: Small men throwing tantrums, Bill Palmer, Oct. 1, 2018. The two-bit con artist who’s never been made to answer for it. The snot nosed frat boy who’s spent his life taking things without asking. The committee chairman who’s spent his career being a bully while hiding behind rules of order. The Senator who’s got something going wrong in his life and wants to take it out on the rest of us. The political party that isn’t accustomed to getting outmaneuvered. These types have always been in charge, and they’ve always more or less done what they wanted – until now.

republican elephant logoDonald Trump and his Republican Party are being forced to have the FBI investigate their own Supreme Court nominee, because they were arrogant enough to think they could ram through a deeply scandalous candidate to begin with, and because the Democratic Party outflanked them at every step of the way, and because women in general have simply had enough of this patriarchy crap.

So now these small men are screaming, yelling, crying, and making threats they can’t carry out, because they’ve finally been forced to take “no” for an answer, and it’s not a feeling they’ve ever felt before.

washington post logoWashington Post, Amid fight over Kavanaugh, annual Red Mass for Supreme Court skips the politics, Julie Zauzmer, Oct. 1, 2018 (print edition). Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who has touted his Catholic faith throughout his nomination hearings, was not spotted at the annual service.

As the nation focuses on the bitter fight over Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh, Washington’s Catholic cathedral held its annual Red Mass honoring Supreme Court justices and the judiciary on Sunday — with nary a word about the debate over whether to confirm President Trump’s pick.

brett kavanaugh zina bash c span sept 2018Kavanaugh (shown at right) has touted his Catholic faith throughout his nomination hearings, including on Thursday when he testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in response to an allegation that he sexually assaulted a high school classmate in the early 1980s. But Kavanaugh, who was invited to the Mass as a member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, was not spotted in the pews.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, another figure of controversy at the moment, was also absent from the special Mass that he would typically lead.

Instead, Auxiliary Bishop Mario Dorsonville celebrated the Mass in the ornate St. Matthew’s Cathedral, and Monsignor Peter Vaghi preached a homily that focused on the Holy Spirit and on the Declaration of Independence.

“Could there not be a better time, both in our church and our nation, to benefit from the healing power of the Holy Spirit?” Vaghi said in his only nod to current controversies. “It is a power that treats the anger and divisions that so need the healing touch of our God if we are to continue our respective missions with love, genuine love for each other, and effectiveness.”

Each year, the cathedral hosts the Red Mass, named for the red garments that clergy wear in attendance at the start of the Supreme Court’s fall term. Supreme Court justices, local judges, and members of Congress and the Cabinet regularly attend. At this year’s Mass, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Clarence Thomas and Stephen G. Breyer attended, along with Anthony M. Kennedy, whose retirement from the court created the vacancy that Trump nominated Kavanaugh to fill.

U.S. Politics

jason kander flag photo SmallHuffPost, Jason Kander Withdraws From Kansas City Mayor’s Race, Citing Depression, Sam Levine, Oct. 2, 2018. The Army veteran, right, said he had long ignored working on his mental health.

Jason Kander, the former Missouri secretary of state considered a rising star in the Democratic Party, announced Tuesday he was ending his campaign for Kansas City mayor to deal with depression and symptoms from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Kander, a 37-year-old Army veteran, made the announcement in a statement in which he revealed he still had nightmares and was afraid to confront the possibility he had PTSD. But recently, Kander wrote, he knew he had to deal with his symptoms. When he found out last week he had set a fundraising record for a Kansas City mayoral campaign, he said he wound up on the Veterans Administration’s Veterans Crisis Line discussing his suicidal thoughts.

“Instead of dealing with these issues, I’ve always tried to find a way around them. Most recently, I thought that if I could come home and work for the city I love so much as its mayor, I could finally solve my problems,” he wrote. “After 11 years of trying to outrun depression and PTSD symptoms, I have finally concluded that it’s faster than me. That I have to stop running, turn around, and confront it.”

Media: Part I

bob woodward fear trump in the white houseMidnight Writer News, Investigative Commentary: Bob Woodward, Al Haig, and the Confirmation of Deep History, S.T. Patrick, Oct. 1, 2018. Bob Woodward’s newest book, Fear: Trump in the White House, stands atop the New York Times Bestseller list for Hardcover Non-Fiction.

Woodward skeptics and Watergate revisionists still question Woodward’s monarchical hold on modern journalism and publishing. In this issue, contributing editor S.T. Patrick continues a series that will spotlight the questionable tactics and little-known fallacies of Bob Woodward’s journalistic career. This is part two in the series.

* * * * *

On March 6, 1989, would-be authors Len Colodny and Robert Gettlin sat with The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward in preparation for what would be their upcoming book Silent Coup: The Removal of a President (1991). Woodward and co-author Carl Bernstein had written what establishment historians and educators considered the two books of record on the end of Richard Nixon’s presidency: All the President’s Men (1974) and The Final Days (1976). Both would be made into films.

On this day, however, Colodny and Gettlin had confirmed information that would turn the Watergate story – and Woodward’s role in it – on its head.

len colodny silent coup coverWoodward verified that he had worked at the Pentagon as a communications officer. This was already in contrast with the book and film notion of Woodward as a bottom-rung hoofer who was fighting his way up the journalistic ladder at The Post. The film created the legend that all Woodward had done was to write about the lack of cleanliness in local restaurants. When the editors debated the oncoming storm of Watergate reporting, it was in an effort to decide if Woodward was even qualified to write such a consequential story. In reality, he was, and the editors knew it.

Woodward denied to Gettlin that he had any other function at the Pentagon beyond once being a communications watch officer. Gettlin then asked if Woodward had ever done “any briefings of people”?

“Never! … And I defy you to produce somebody who says I did a briefing. It’s just… it’s not true,” Woodward responded.

alexander haig generalThe conversation turned to Gen. Alexander Haig, who had become Nixon’s chief of staff upon the urged resignation of H.R. Haldeman.

Tim Weiner, upon Haig’s death in 2010, wrote in The New York Times that Haig, right, had been the “acting president” while Nixon was pre-occupied with Watergate.

Haig biographer Roger Morris wrote that President Gerald Ford’s pardon of Nixon was also a de facto pardon of Haig, as well. Haig had played an important role in the transition from Nixon to Ford, and had even been one of the most instrumental voices privately encouraging Nixon’s resignation.

The conversation turned to Gen. Alexander Haig, who had become Nixon’s chief of staff upon the urged resignation of H.R. Haldeman.

Tim Weiner, upon Haig’s death in 2010, wrote in The New York Times that Haig, right, had been the “acting president” while Nixon was pre-occupied with Watergate.

Haig biographer Roger Morris wrote that President Gerald Ford’s pardon of Nixon was also a de facto pardon of Haig, as well. Haig had played an important role in the transition from Nixon to Ford, and had even been one of the most instrumental voices privately encouraging Nixon’s resignation.

alexander haig portraitIf Haig (shown also in his portrait as Secretary of State in the early 1980s) had a previous working relationship with Woodward, and if Woodward’s stories were contradictory to the Nixon administration’s best interests, then the relationship and roles of both Woodward and Haig in relation to Nixon’s fall demanded examination.

“I never met or talked to Haig until some time in the spring of ’73,” Woodward responded. That Woodward had never done briefings, had never been a briefing officer, and had never met Haig until 1973 were ideas that sources “in a position to know,” as Gettlin called them in the interview, contradicted.

Lest someone assume that Colodny and Gettlin’s sources on Woodward were journalistic rivals or disenfranchised victims made unemployable by Watergate’s political aftermath, they were not. And unlike Woodward’s most notable sources, they were not kept hidden under “deep background.”

Colodny and Gettlin’s confirmation came from Adm. Thomas H. Moorer, Melvin Laird, and Jerry Friedheim, all of who can be read and heard on “Watergate.com.”

Supreme Court Begins Term

supreme court building

SCOTUSblog, Justices officially return from summer recess, issue orders from long conference, Amy Howe, Oct. 1, 2018 (Visit SCOTUSblog for full coverage with links). The eight justices of the Supreme Court returned to the bench today to hear oral arguments in the first cases of their new term. But before they did so, they issued an extensive (75 pages) list of orders from last Monday’s “long conference” – their first conference since their summer recess began in late June.

The justices issued grants from the conference last Thursday. Today’s orders consisted primarily of denials of review and requests for the U.S. solicitor general to weigh in on several cases.

The justices apparently did not act on two of the highest-profile cases on the list for last week’s conference, which involve a challenge to a Latin cross, located on public land in the Washington, D.C. suburbs, commemorating soldiers who died in World War I. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit ruled that the cross violates the Constitution’s establishment clause; the justices have been asked to review that ruling.

Feds Fight Net Neutrality

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Dept. to sue California to block new net neutrality law, Tony Romm and Brian Fung​, Oct. 1, 2018 (print edition). The tech-heavy state on Sunday adopted its own rules requiring Internet providers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon to treat all web traffic equally.

Syrian War

state dept map logo Small

washington post logosyrian flag wavingWashington Post, In Syria, Trump administration takes on new goal: Iranian retreat, Missy Ryan, Paul Sonne and John Hudson, Sept. 30, 2018. The Trump administration has opened a new chapter in American involvement in Syria, vowing to remain until the civil war’s conclusion in a bid to halt Iran’s expansion across the Middle East.

American FlagThe vision articulated last week by senior U.S. officials marks a dramatic reversal six months after President Trump said he would pull American troops out of Syria and end U.S. involvement in a conflict that has killed at least half a million people and confounded two administrations.

James Jeffrey, the State Department’s special representative for Syria, said the United States would maintain a presence in the country, possibly including an extended military mission, until Iran withdraws the soldiers and militia forces it commands. U.S. officials expect that possible outcome only after world powers broker a deal ending the war.

SouthFront, Analysis: Upgraded Syrian Air Defense System Will Be Fully Centralized: Russian Official, Staff report, Oct. 1, 208. The upgdraded Syrian air defense system will be centralized and controlled by one controller, according to Viktor Bondarev, the chairman of the Russian parliament’s upper house Defense and Security Committee.

russian flagBondarev added that the united Syrian air defense system will be established after the S-300 system will be delivered to the country’s military. This, according to Bondarev, will allow to boost security of Russian troops in the war-torn country and to prevent IL-20-like incidents.

Reader Commnent: S. Melanson: There has been a lot of debate about the implications of the Russian response to the downing of the IL-20 and loss of 15 Russian personnel. This is my take on the implications.

First and foremost, the MoD [Russian Ministry of Defense] blamed Israel from day one and has provided a string of statements hostile to Israel in contrast to Putin's initial conciliatory approach. The hard line taken towards Israel has clearly prevailed with the MoD controlling the narrative with regular announcements by Shoigu, the Russian Defense Minister, on retaliatory steps. It also appears the MoD is making the determination of what retaliatory measures are to be taken.

The key retaliation measures include:

Establishment of a no-fly zone over Syria and Syrian territorial waters - applies to any hostile aircraft regardless of nationality - measures to implement the no fly zone are as follows:

  • syrian flag wavingSyria gets S-300 Systems
  • Syria gets additional state of the art short and medium range air defense systems
  • Enhanced management systems that had only been available to the Russian military
  • Centralized Russian and Syrian systems will be integrated and work together to establish no-fly zone

Implications to consider:

Israel FlagClearly, we are witnessing the establishment of a formidable air defense system in Syria that presents a highly credible deterrent to would-be aggressors. The Russians are making it very clear that any aircraft that take hostile actions towards Syria do so at their own peril. Israel has stated they will continue striking Syria as before.

Conclusion: Israel and Russia are presently on a collision course and when they collide, all hell will break loose.

Media News

cbs logo

oenearthlogoOpEdNews, Opinion:How the American Media Was Destroyed, Paul Craig Roberts, Oct. 1, 2018. In my September 24 column, "Truth Is Evaporating Before Our Eyes," I used the destruction of the CBS news team that broke the Abu Ghraib story and the story of President George W. Bush's non-performance of his Texas Air Force National Guard duties to demonstrate how accusations alone could destroy a Peabody Award-winning, 26-year veteran producer of CBS News, Mary Mapes, and the established news dan rather new portraitanchor Dan Rather, right.

Until I read Mary Mapes's book, Truth and Duty (St. Martin's Press, 2005), I was unaware of how this monopolization of the media in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act and American tradition had proceeded to destroy honest reporting.

Here is what happened.

The Texas Air National Guard was a place the elite placed their sons to avoid the Vietnam War draft. Copies of documents written by Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian describing George W. Bush's ability to jump the large waiting list hoping to avoid the war, Bush's non-compliance with National Guard requirements and Bush's unauthorized departure to another state were given to CBS.

The CBS team worked for many months to confirm or discredit the documents. The information in the documents proved to be consistent with the interviews of people acquainted with George W. Bush's time in the Texas National Guard. It was a carefully prepared story, not a rushed one, and it fits all the information we now have of Bush's non-performance.

george w. bush wThe problem for the CBS news team, which might not have been realized at the time, was that the documents were copies, not originals that experts could authenticate as real beyond question. Therefore, although the documents were consistent with the testimony of others, no expert could validate the documents as they could originals.

The Republicans seized on this chink in the armor to turn the issue away from the truthfulness of the CBS 60 Minutes report to whether or not the copies were fakes.

CBS had two other problems. One was that Viacom, its owner, was not in the news business, but in the lobbying business in Washington -- wanting to enrich the company with legislative perks and regulatory permissions. Truthful news from CBS, exposing US torture in the face of the Bush regime's denials and showing that Bush (shown above at left) was too privileged to be held accountable by the Texas National Guard, was damaging Viacom's highly paid lobbying effort.

les moonvesTruth in America is being exterminated, and the destruction of CBS news was the starting point. As Mary Mapes reports in her book, as soon as Viacom was entirely rid of 60 Minutes with the firing of the entire staff, on the very next day Viacom held a triumphant annual investor meeting. Chairman Sumner Redstone was awarded a $56 million paycheck for 2004. Chief operating officers, Les Moonves, right, and Tom Freston "each pocketed a whoopping fifty-two million for the year."

Mapes writes: "Just a few years ago, this kind of corporate executive largesse was unherd of. Now, these media Masters of the Universe have taken over the public airwares and they have one obligation: making a profit." Ever a larger one, which requires protecting the government and the corporate advertisers from investigative reporting. The consequence today is that the American media is totally unreliable.